Don’t POP til you get enough

Photo by L.P Maurice

Grizzly Bear

A music student’s wet dream. If three-part vocal harmonies performed by musicians juggling several instruments at once doesn’t get you off – I don’t think anything ever will.  Grizzly Bear’s performance at L’Olympia Sunday night left us speechless. Really, we have no words.

Bassist, producer, and back-up vocalist Chris Taylor casually looped in the sax, oboe and flute, Christopher Bear snapped away on the drums, and lead vocalists Ed Droste and Daniel Rossen ethereally breathed life into their melodies, plucking away at piano keys and guitar strings.

The boys are touring in promotion of the latest addition to their musical catalog. Shields was released earlier this month, much to the brava of those that were fans of their earlier, less commercial work. The bandmates took some time apart last year to work on solo projects and develop their own, individual musical styles. Their live show proves that they successfully honed their strengths, regrouped and learned to meld together better than ever.


Unknown Mortal Orchestra

As Grizzly Bear’s openers at L’Olympia on Sunday, Unknown Mortal Orchestra lucked out in playing to a packed house. And there really couldn’t be a band more deserving of the spotlight.

UMO are hardly ‘unknown,’ for they’ve lapped the Pitchfork crowd multiple times in the past year alone, stealing several festival gigs. You really do have to see them live to understand all the brouhaha. UMO performed as a three piece, just a guitarist-vocalist, drummer and bass player. Somehow, the sound that generated from their instruments pumped with all the manpower of a full funk-rock orchestra. This is rock that you can really groove to. Choosing to tag along on the Shields tour was a smart move for UMO, chances are pretty high that they’ll gather an immense following before the end of the year.


An Evening with David Byrne & St. Vincent

On paper, David Byrne and St. Vincent’s Annie Clark may seem like an odd pair. In the Plateau’s majestic church Eglise Saint-Jeane Baptiste, they dropped jaws. The two are touring on the heels of their collaborative effort, Love This Giant, released at the beginning of the month. Clark’s angelic, pitch-perfect voice blended harmoniously with Byrne’s signature Talking Heads warble. And man, can that girl shred; Clark’s skills on the electric guitar are near unmatched by any female rockstar. The evening was a hoot. In between Byrne’s quips and – how could I not mention – a fully choreographed set list, it was truly a ‘once in a lifetime’ experience.


How Music Works w/ David Byrne and Win Butler

At the Ukrainian Federation on Saturday night, POP-ers had the opportunity to meet the men behind all their adulation. Yes, David Byrne recently wrote a book called How Music Works, but his talk with Arcade Fire’s Win Butler didn’t really stick to what lies on the pages. It was hardly a lecture. Butler and Byrne exchanged jokes, jabs, and perspectives on success in the music industry. Discussion topics were kept quite light, from ‘what to wear on stage’ to ‘why musicians use choreography in their routines.’ Perhaps the only real insight we gained from the talk was hearing Byrne and Butler’s public realization of the end of music as a commodity. For as internet pirates continue to allow albums to go for free, recording artists look to the live show as the real product.


Born Ruffians

These Ontarians played not once, twice but three times throughout POP Montreal. The indie-pop-rockers are kind of behind in terms of the Canadian music scene. They toured throughout the summer and continue to this fall, but are still relying on old material. Their last album, Say It, was released in 2010. Despite the lack of excitement in their set lists, the Ruffians still put on a good show – they managed to gather large crowds at each of their sets.


Mozart’s Sister

All the hens have been clucking over Mozart’s Sister. Caila Thompson-Hannant has been bouncingaround the Mile End’s hip-but-encouraging music scene for a few years now, but she is finally getting noticed thanks to her Arbutus label mate Grimes. When she performs as Mozart’s Sister, Thompson-Hannant belts it and sexes it up. She made sure to take advantage of the spotlight at her free show at Parc de la Petite-Italie on Thursday and at Eglise POP Little Burgundy on Saturday night.


Rich Aucoin

There is no such thing as a Rich Aucoin ‘show.’ It’s the Rich Aucoin experience. He pulled out the confetti, rainbow parachute and YouTube video memes galore at Divan Orange yet again. Aucoin may be one of the best performers out there; he convinces entire crowds to join him in reciting virtually all of the lyrics to his songs and whips them into a sweaty, dance-induced frenzy. He has toured relentlessly, bringing the ‘experience’ all over North America in the wake of his 2011 release, We’re All Dying To Live.



Smash Mouth – Magic (2012; 429 Records)

It was the summer of ’99. MTV still played music videos, usually the pop favourites of Blink 182, The Backstreet Boys, and Sugar Ray. However, one album that stood out in everyone’s summer beach collection was Smash Mouth’s Astro Lounge, with their hit single “All Star.” After a six-year drought and having long since been written off as the typical one-hit wonder band, the group has released Magic. Simple four-chord progressions and love premises, all bathed in a little coat of humour (especially in their song titled “Justin Bieber”) harken to past ‘90s hits. Unfortunately, the stagnation with actual creativity clouds the album’s entire listening experience. Rapper J. Dash, who is featured on two songs, gives the album an unnecessary contemporary radio-hit vibe that seems pasted onto material performed a decade too late. Overall, old fans will enjoy the old song construction, but general listeners will be turned off by its lack of evolution.

Trial track: “Flippin’ Out”

Rating: 5.2/10

-A.J. Cordeiro


The Avett Brothers – The Carpenter (2012; Universal)

If you’ve tuned into CBC Radio 2 lately, you must be familiar with “Live and Die,” a banjo-fueled summer release from American folk-rock group The Avett Brothers. Their latest album, The Carpenter, set to release on Sept. 11, is a rollercoaster of goodbye tunes delivered with a surprising lightness (“Pretty Girl from Michigan”) and bittersweet ballads (“Through My Prayers”) that will have you swaying to and fro quite wholeheartedly. The Carpenter has shaped up to be the perfect soundtrack for reminiscing over those distant summer nights. It is comprised of such a varied collection of tracks that it’s sure to please all fans, new and old. Though they have been compared to such widely-known groups as Mumford and Sons, as well as The Lumineers, the Avett Brothers manage to string together a wide array of music that lends them an enthralling unpredictability their peers simply don’t possess.

Trial track: “I Never Knew You”

Rating: 8/10

-Victoria Kendrick


David Byrne & St Vincent – Love This Giant (2012; 4AD)

The highly anticipated collaboration between Talking Heads frontman David Byrne and indie sweetheart St. Vincent (Annie Clark) has been in the making since their unlikely meeting at a Björk and Dirty Projectors concert in 2009. They began to exchange ideas via email about recording a collaborative album together, which developed into Love This Giant. Mainly constructed around brass instrumentation, Love This Giant, is a creative, funky, conceptual album resting strongly on the shoulders of the duo’s eccentric style and personality. Songs like “Who” and “Weekend In The Dust” bounce and soar through dynamic beats with a sort of calculated chaos. Playful yet profound, with an unashamedly theatrical flair, the core of this album is pure energy. An energy that, despite the 30-year age difference, Byrne and Clark transcend with a quirky sophistication that can only be obtained with their respective influences and life experience. You can Love This Giant too, when David Byrne & St Vincent take their show to the altar of Eglise St-Jean Baptiste as part of the Pop Montreal Festival, on Sept. 21 at 8 p.m. (tickets are $49.50 in advance or $69.50 at the door.)

Trial track: “Who”

Rating: 7.5/10

– Paul Traunero


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