Nelly Furtado – The Ride

Nelly Furtado – The Ride (Nelstar, 2017)

Nelly Furtado has a new album after a five-year hiatus from the music industry. The Ride is a journey through a variety of genre mixtures, including synch-rock, electro-folk and soft pop songs. She explores different instrumental ballads in every track which makes this album an unexpected, yet original comeback. The opening song, “Cold Hard Truth,” is all about that bass with its strong pop-electro feel. “Carnival Games” has a pop-folk smoothness to it with mellow piano sounds, making it a soothing and nostalgic track. “Live” is your typical happy-go-lucky pop song and will send good vibes your way with its upbeat keyboard melodies. Furtado’s new tracks are a good listen, however, they are not her usual catchy pop hits, nor do they have that distinct lyrical content Furtado is known for. As a Furtado fan, I was slightly let down by the strong emphasis on electro-pop in The Ride.

Trial Track: “Live”



Blanck Mass – World Eater

Blanck Mass – World Eater (Sacred Bones Records, 2017)

Blanck Mass is a solo electronic/experiential music project by Benjamin John Power. Power’s recent album,  World Eater  is at level 100 when it comes to sound experiments. The opening track, “John Doe’s Carnival of Error,” is a short lullabye with a nostalgic sound one might have heard at an amusement park or carnival as a child. It has a spooky, alluring essence as the same hook is repeated continuously, making it a hypnotic electronic tune. “Rhesus Negative” is a storm of electronic sounds coming at you from all directions. If your happy place is being surrounded by constant loud noises, this track will thrill you. “Please” tones it down a bit with slow vibrant sounds, making it a peaceful electro dance song that is easy to follow compared to the other songs on the album. From industrial noises of all sorts to hardcore electronic bass lines, the album might sound like a cacophony to some, and a masterpiece of originality to others.

Trial Track: “Rhesus Negative”

Rating: 5/10

Music Quickspins

The xx – I See You

The xx – I See You (Young Turks Recordings, 2017)

Five years ago, The xx released their hit album, Coexist. They are now back with I See You, where their distinct smooth electro and dreamy pop ballads resurface. The opening track, “Dangerous,” mixes an electro, upbeat tempo with soft-spoken vocals—something The xx has always known how to perfectly combine. “Say Something Loving” continues with upbeat, romantic sounds and words—it sounds just like a love poem turned into a melodious pop fairytale. “Lips” has beautiful electro rhythms—it’s the song to put you in a relaxing trance of gentle electro euphoria. The last few songs are sad, emotional and deeply moving. If you have an interest for sorrowful melodies, you’ll enjoy them. “A Violent Noise,” the last track on the album, plays with both high and low tempos. The track fuels different moods throughout, making it an interesting listen.


Trial Track: “Lips”


Porter Robinson & Madeon at Metropolis

The electronic dance DJs are in Montreal for their Shelter Live Tour

DJs Porter Robinson and Madeon (Hugo Leclercq) will be in Montreal for their Shelter Live Tour on Nov. 14 at Metropolis. The tour follows the release of their 2016 collaborative song, “Shelter.” “We wanted to be able to celebrate at least 10 years of knowing each other, our discography and this collaborative song, ‘Shelter,’” said Robinson.

Robinson specializes in electro house, dubstep and synthpop sounds, while Leclercq focuses more on electro pop and nu-disco, adding a definite European electro sound to his beats. The Shelter Live Tour is about the two complementing each other’s music and adding new spins to original songs. By switching between songs from each artist, they incorporate remixes and samples of each other’s work. “We both kind of came from the DJ world, and I think we pretty much completely threw that aside in our respective albums,” said Robinson.

The two electronic dance music producers have created a live music experience that is more dynamic than the usual EDM-techno feel. Both DJs will be multi-tasking during their performance by singing and playing various instruments simultaneously. The Shelter Live Tour is more than just an electronic show of their most recent albums, Robinson’s Worlds and Leclercq’s Adventure.

As a companion to the song “Shelter,” Robinson released an animated short film reminiscent of Japanese anime. Robinson has great interest in producing anime, since his love for electronic music started with his early passion for video games. He said the visuals for the live show will be more abstract than his character-based film. There will be flashing, colourful lights following the beats of the music, as both DJs dance energetically along with the rhythm.

The two friends met through an online forum when they were teenagers. Robinson hails from the U.S. and Leclercq is from France. The common interest they shared was music production, a passion they each developed during their teenage years. “We think about music pretty similarly but we don’t have an overlapping taste,” said Leclercq. “I think Porter is more trance music and I’m really into more soulful songwriting.” While their individual sounds differs, the duo said their similar musical mindsets create a space for complementary creation and new musical directions.

“It’s a much larger scale than anything I’ve done before,” said Leclercq, referring to the 38 shows of their North American tour. As a French native, Montreal will be a special stop on the tour trail for Leclercq. “I’m super excited,” he said. “I’m gonna get on the mic and speak in French, and Porter will not understand.”

Montreal is a musical epicenter for young, up-and-coming artists just like Robinson and Leclercq when they first got into music as teenagers. “The tools are very available for making music and for sharing it, and so many more people are making music, which is wonderful,” said Leclercq. “I would encourage people to find what’s unique about their tastes and explore that, and try not to be too influenced by everything they hear around them.”

Porter Robinson and Madeon will be performing at Metropolis on Nov. 14 at 8 p.m. A few tickets are still available online, with prices ranging from $34 to $92.

Music Quickspins

Aluna George – I Remember

Aluna George – I Remember (Island Records, 2016)

Aluna George’s latest release, I Remember, brings out her soothing, soft, sweet voice which serenades your ear, and complements the album’s pop-electro sounds. I Remember features pop-electro and lounge melodies as well as smooth R&B rhythms, both of which she blends together beautifully. George opens with the track “Full Swing” which has a strong pop-electrified beat and baseline. “My Blood” follows, with a smooth R&B rhythmic sound. It’s wonderful to hear rhythm and blues being combined with soft electro beats. “Not Above Love” brings you back to the early 2000s when pop music was at its peak. “Mean What I Mean” will surely be playing in lounges and clubs in no time—it’s very modern and has electro-pop with rap verses by featured artists Leikeli47 and Dreezy. Its metallic sounds will be sure to grab your attention—The brassy sound is unlike anything I’ve ever heard before. Overall, the album is a beautiful blend of R&B and pop-electro, and George’s voice is the cherry on top.

Trial track: “Not Above Love”



Rock warriors ready for battle

Photo by Allie Mason

What began as an inside joke about a character in a high school play has now become the Montreal electro-rock band Chair Warriors, whose debut EP A Thousand Words features traditional rock vocals, guitar and a little bit of ivory-tickling.
“We entered our first battle of the bands, scrambling to find a name,” recalls guitarist Rob Flis, a Concordia journalism student and staff writer at The Concordian. They decided on the name Chair Warriors, inspired by their friend who played a character called “the Chair Warrior,” a super villain who finished off his adversaries with a chair, à la WWE, in Laurier Senior High School’s annual Blue and Gold Revue, Super Zeroes.
“We just used Chair Warriors as a last resort, thinking, well, you know, we’ll just use it for this because we need something, and we couldn’t shed the name.”
After a few lineup changes, the band has settled down as a three-piece, emulating their sonic heroes Muse. The trio consists of Rob, his brother, drummer Ryan Flis who also attends Concordia, and vocalist/keyboardist Brandon Mignacca, who is studying music at Vanier College.
“I’ve known Ryan for, let’s see, since he was born,” Rob jokes. “Ryan met Brandon during high school, where he was already blowing away people with his talent.”
The band members quickly bonded as they began making a name for themselves on the rock scene, playing clubs around Montreal.
“It’s been great playing at places like Le Divan Orange and La Sala Rossa,” says Rob. “But we’ve played our share of dumps, too.”
In addition to their covers, which treat fans to classics such as Led Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song,” they have been working hard writing original music, too. The songwriting process often begins with an idea from Brandon, while working at home.
“Usually it’s just a simple piano melody and a vocal take,” says Rob. “And from there it grows. Sometimes it changes drastically, but most of the time it’s a collective process.”
The new ideas and fresh songs have led to the band renting out a recording studio to flesh out their ideas.
“It requires more responsibility,” explains Rob, adding that the studio time is both necessary and expensive to capture their electro, classical and ‘90s grunge influences. “But it comes with being a musician.”
So does the challenge that plagues all musicians: getting people to listen to their music.
“Word of mouth is very difficult,” laments Rob. “Even on the Internet, you feel like this little guy, stuck in a life raft in the middle of the ocean, amongst the millions of other life rafts.”
“Right now, we really have to publicize ourselves as much as possible, and we seem to be doing quite well. But we are always happy to work from step one,” says Rob. “First step, you start a band. Next step, you play shows. Next step, you record an album. Next step, you get fans.”
In taking on the roles of student and musician, the dedication and commitment can take its toll.
“It’s draining,” admits Rob. “There is a lot fun, but there is a lot on our plates, so we couldn’t do it without the people who give us clear-headed advice. It makes life so much easier.”
While they make sure their music is readily available on Facebook, MySpace, Twitter and Reverbnation with its smartphone app, the band recognizes the need to give fans something physical. That’s why they are planning to launch the physical copy of their album when they perform as a featured artist at Landmark Entertainment’s Battle of the Bands 2012.
“Fame, fortune, the works,” Rob says is what’s in store for Chair Warriors. “We want to be the next Foo Fighters. 2012 is our year.”

Catch Chair Warriors at Le National (1220 Ste-Catherine St. E.) on April 14 for the launch of their debut record A Thousand Words.

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