Music Quickspins

QUICKSPINS: Genesis Owusu – Smiling with No Teeth

The Ghanaian-Australian artist shines on his ambitious and musically kaleidoscopic debut.

Genesis Owusu is a musical tour-de-force, and he’s only just arrived. With his debut, Smiling with No Teeth, the Ghanaian-Australian artist has delivered an experimental opus with an insanely impressive and absolutely electrifying avant-garde nature.

It’s very rare for an artist this early in their career to have such a refined musical palette and dynamic vision, but Owusu has just that.

He’s got clear influences from all over the musical spectrum, from hip hop to new wave, jazz and funk to R&B and post-punk – even including some industrial elements. Smiling with No Teeth somehow brings all of these pre-existing contrasting influences together and creates a completely unique soundscape – a blend of all of these familiar elements, culminating in a remarkable collage of influences that somehow co-exist in perfect harmony.

He can easily go from channelling Prince on one track to channelling the visceral shouting of Death Grips’ MC Ride on the next. His music and vocal delivery are as fluid as can be, and his mastery of every style and genre in his repertoire is incredibly impressive and equally entrancing.

It helps that lyrically and thematically, this project is airtight throughout as well, exploring both the demons that plague Owusu as an individual and those that plague society as a whole. He manages to fit seemingly cathartic moments of commentary on mental health, racism and substance abuse, among other things, within often up-tempo tracks, like on the LP’s second track “The Other Black Dog.”

This juxtaposition of often upbeat instrumentation against the darkness that Owusu’s lyricism tends to highlight isn’t necessarily revolutionary, but it is an incredibly nuanced way to exemplify the album’s core concept.

Smiling with No Teeth may seem as random a title as any, but when you get to the root of the music, the title is an allegory for the thematic and stylistic nature of the music. A closed smile is often forced and used to hide feelings other than genuine happiness, which, in a way, is exactly what the lively nature of a good amount of this album’s soundscape represents: a veil of fun, with the lyrics’ true darkness hiding behind it.

This is an LP that not only checks every box but goes outside of these boxes and finds ways to achieve even more. It would be a magnificent body of work for any artist, but for a debut album, this is beyond spectacular.

To liken Genesis Owusu to a chameleon in that regard would be a disservice to exactly what he has accomplished here. It’s not he who adapts to the genres incorporated in his music, but it is him that forces the elements he takes from these genres to bend to his will and fit his sound. He’s not just impressive, his virtuosity at this stage in his career is practically unheard of, and if this album is any indication, he has the potential to become a generational talent.


Trial Track: “The Other Black Dog”



Jungle: Bringing back the soul

London funk outfit brings 70s funk into 2019 at MTelus

Jungle, a band from London signed to XL Recordings, is currently on tour promoting their 2018 album, For Ever. On March 17, the 70s funk band stopped in Montreal to perform at MTelus. The show opened with alternative rock band Houses; Heavy guitar and drum beats filled the air at the antique-style venue and perfectly set the scene for the show. Jungle will be followed by Houses on their tour throughout the U.S.

Jungle arrived on stage around 9 p.m. after much anticipation from the crowd. A large sign hung high, displaying their logo in bright lights. Just below, a stage filled with smoke slowly cleared and revealed the seven band members in formation, with “J” and “T,” the founders of the band, leading in the front row. Josh Lloyd-Watson and Tom McFarland have been friends since childhood—and formed the group in 2013.

They jumped right into their first single, “Smile,” and the crowd sung along. The most captivating thing about Jungle is how accurate their live renditions of their music are. They sound spectacular; it’s almost hard to believe. They didn’t miss a single beat, and their harmonies were synchronized perfectly. They performed “Heavy California” next, and their energy was contagious.

Nearing the end of their performance, the band walked off the stage without a word. Fans instantly began to call for them and sing the Habs-appropriated bullfighting anthem, “olé olé olé olé, olé olé.” They walked back onto the stage, and without hesitation, played one of their number one hits, “Casio.” It was exhilarating to see everyone singing along and appreciating the music. They closed the show with “Busy Earnin’,” from their first studio album, Jungle. This song originally reached the U.K. top 50 Independent Singles in 2014, catapulting their career.

Many people went to the back of the venue to wait by the tour bus and catch a glimpse of some of the band members. Others wrote the band members’ names on the tour bus as a final ode to an amazing show that truly enamored all who attended.

Touring the world, Jungle’s next show will be in Liverpool on March 31.


Anemone brings the sun

The Montreal pop band was conceived in the west, born in the east

“I’ve been playing music all of my life, and I had friends who were doing music as a living,” said Chloé Soldevila, the creator and songwriter of Anemone. “I always had this weird conception in my mind that I couldn’t do it.”

The Montreal band came to La Sala Rossa on Friday, Feb. 15 to launch their debut album, Beat My Distance. Their sound is serene pop at its centre, with Soldevilla’s bright vocals enveloped in psychedelic instrumentation from her band. The group started with six members on stage, including an extra percussionist, and became more and more numerous throughout the night.

Soldevila was raised around classical music and formally educated in jazz, but held herself back from stepping into the scene herself. She had been travelling in California in the summer of 2015, tagging along to music festivals with friends who were in bands. Her conception of the music scene turned on a dime. “I remember being at a festival, in the artist space with all these people who are in big bands,” said Soldevila. “And in my young mind it was like ‘ah they are so special,’ and then I talked to them, and I hung out with them, and I realized, well, you know, we’re just all the same,” she said. Soldevila wanted to bring the sound and the sun back to her home in Montreal. “There’s not just sea and sunshine and positiv[ity] on the west coast,” she said. “It’s all over the world. It’s a genre of music that exists everywhere.”

Anemone was born after that summer, when Soldevila met Zach Irving at a show at Poisson Noir, a DIY venue in Mile Ex where Irving was playing organ. “It’s really been natural,” said Irving. They began working on an album as they recruited Miles Dupire-Gagnon, Gabriel Lambert and Samuel Gemme. “I was looking for people who had that do-whatever-you-want vibe,” said Soldevila. They were based in Montreal, making music tinged with the west-coast psychedelia that had inspired her during her Californian summer. “It’s a benefit that we live in minus twenty, cause all of the music that we made, we made it in the winter. Honestly, you’re so depressed, you need something to kind of pull you out of the water, so you really appreciate that music,” she said.

Irving going in on keys. Photo by Simon New

After four years of work, and their debut Beat My Distance just released, the band admits the tape doesn’t quite capture what it’s like to see them live. “The album has a bit of a red-light vibe where it’s like ‘recording!’ and then you get a little constrained in a way, because you kind of freak out,” said Irving. “You’re sticking to the formula. Live, we don’t have a formula.”

Lambert with equal parts shred and smolder. Photo by Simon New

When Anemone took the stage, it felt like a free-for-all in a musically triumphant way. There was camaraderie, shredding and champagne. Soldevila led the pack, but every single band member took the group in their own direction at one point. As if they had discovered something and wanted to share it on stage with their friends, the band’s sincere interconnectedness allowed them to trust each each other to explore uncharted territory. Soldevilla would be dancing or riffing on vocals and have the jam coalesce around her. You could see a deep smile come across her face when she discovered, as the audience did, a new and interesting groove. The crowd loved it, and the band minced no words about how essential they were.

Soldevila catching a vibe from stage right. Photo by Simon New

“Most people don’t realize that they’re part of the magic that’s happening around them,” said Irving. “Exactly, and that for me is so important to share, and I don’t know how to tell them,” said Soldevilla. “I’m terrible at talking on the microphone. So the only thing we can do is show them, and it’s tricky, so I hope they get it.” Indeed, she let her actions speak, save for a few moments in the act. “Thank you!” said Soldevila to the fixated crowd. “It’s all for you.”

Music Quickspins


Future has returned with his first solo studio album since releasing back-to-back number-one debuts in back-to-back weeks with 2017’s FUTURE and HNDRXX. With its marketing campaign and accompanying documentary, THE WIZRD sets out to be Future’s magnum opus. He has come close to achieving that with this being one of his best albums yet.

Future has always been an artist with two distinct musical identities: the bombastic, in-your-face, king of trap presented on FUTURE and the softer, more melodic, auto-tuned crooner at the center of HNDRXX. THE WIZRD creates a seamless fusion of the two, serving as a highlight reel of Future’s versatility and strengths while still bringing new material to the table. Songs like “Jumpin on a Jet” and “Faceshot” perfectly encapsulate that DS2-era Future sound. They’re absolute bangers: hard-hitting, bass-heavy and full of boastful content. These moments of braggadocio are contrasted with honest, melodic tracks like “Temptation” and “Tricks on Me” giving this project enough variety that its 20-track, hour-long runtime never gets repetitive.

THE WIZRD is Future at his most focused. He has achieved a perfect balance between his various musical identities, exploring a variety of sounds both new and familiar without missing a step. His performance grouped with the phenomenal features and production throughout make for one of the most enjoyable listens in Future’s extensive catalogue.

Trial Track: “Baptiize”

Star Bar: “Peep how we came up the interstate, peep how we never gon’ lose/Peep how they peepin’ and watchin’ me runnin’ off with everything that I do/We didn’t do this for the fun, I didn’t do this just to slack / I did it all for the love, I put the gang on the map” -Future on “Baptiize”


Music Quickspins

MNDSGN- Body Wash

MNDSGN- Body Wash (Stones Throw Records, 2016)

Body Wash is Mndsgn’s second full length album for Stones Throw, and to be quite frank, it is mind-blowing. Their music is a blend of 80s boogie/funk/soul/jazz/fusion wave and—get this—90s R&B. Yet they make the seemingly impossible fusion of music between two eras not only work, but make sense together. The way they mix their psychedelic beats make you feel as though you are being magically transported into the future instead of going back to the past. Their song, Cosmic Masterpiece, is the perfect example of this. It has a funky, yet futuristic beat, and transports you to a whole other place and time. This masterpiece of psychedelic, yet nostalgic music is worth—not only listening—but experiencing at least once in your life. So what are you waiting for?

Trial track: “Use ya Mind (Twentyfourseven)”



Witness the rebirth of real southern rock ‘n’ roll

Photo by Andrew McNeill

Honest-to-God rock ‘n’ roll is long gone, kaput, defunct; it crumbled alongside Jimi Hendrix and Jim Morrison, dried up, and floated away in the 1970s.
Wrong. And no, it’s not hiding.
The Bright Light Social Hour doesn’t want to be Austin’s little rock saviour secret, but when they roll into Montreal’s Club Lambi to a crowd of about twenty, we’re pushing them into that corner.
It’s a terrible shame, because these four southern boys bring more talent to the stage than this and last year’s crop of emerging indie bands combined.
This is hard, gyrating, blues/funk rock that oozes simple and unabashed sexual desire, gratification, and invincible optimism.
Curtis Roush, Jack O’Brien, Joseph Mirasole and A.J. Vincent began playing together as an art-rock collective  just under five years ago at Southwestern University in Georgetown, Texas. They spent the past year and a half touring around the states, building a reputation as a real high energy, mustachioed, dance floor-arousing live rock band.
These guys know what they’re doing. They’re as proud of their long luscious manes as of their musical ability, and each is unafraid to gloat their solo skills on drums, bass, guitar and even keyboard. Have you ever seen a rock organ-keyboard solo? Didn’t think so.
Mirasole’s drumming alone whips feet into a confused frenzy, while O’Brien, Roush and Vincent’s three-part vocal harmonies echo the yearning of Led Zeppelin’s Robert Plant and AC/DC’s Bon Scott.

Photo by Andrew McNeill

After the release of their self-titled debut album, The Bright Light Social Hour swept SXSW’s 2011 Austin Music Awards and immediately hit the road for their first North American tour.
Now, their shows sell out to thousands in the south, and after clenching hot ticket status at last year’s SXSW, you’d think this group of gentlemen would have SOB egos to boot.
Over a year later, and still touring strong, their live show is polished, polite, yet confidently dirty—even when playing to a handful of people.
Montreal, you really missed out.

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