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Music

Dancing to the downfall of capitalism

U.S. Girls put on high energy and politically conscious show at Le Ministère

On Feb. 16, excited music fans packed into Le Ministère on Boulevard Saint Laurent to see Canadian experimental pop artist U.S. Girls, aka Meg Remy.

Local artist Lune très belle opened the show. Through her set, her French vocals were echoed as she bounced between two mics in front of her, one over her keyboard and the other over her synthesizer.

Lune très belle’s songs were sparse and pretty. This was matched by her quiet and seemingly timid stage demeanour. She didn’t have much candour with the audience, and the set felt more like an improvised recital than your typical concert affair.

After a short intermission, Remy’s band took to the stage. Band members entered one at a time. First, high synths filled the room, next the drummer kicked in, playing a few bars before the background vocalists took the stage and began to sing. Finally, Remy entered the stage and jumped into her brand new single “4 American Dollars,” a song about the failure of the American dream.  

After a few songs, Remy stopped to chat with the crowd. She mentioned that the last time she played in Montreal, it was at a porn theatre (Cinema L’Amour). She went on to ask how the cops in Montreal were, a question that was not surprising considering Remy’s heavily leftist, political lyrics. The audience gave a decidedly negative response to her question. Remy responded, in a sarcastic manner, that even cops were babies once, and we should try to foster conversation. This tongue-in-cheek comment ended with her saying, “I think they’re crying out for help with their occupation—same with me.”

After a few low-key songs, Remy picked the energy back up with the swanky and danceable “Pearly Gates,” a song whose lyrics reference the #metoo era. This song got the audience moving and really showed off Remy’s infectious stage presence.

Near the end of the show, Remy stood at the centre mic in silence for a few moments and then asked the audience to pretend their head was being pulled up by a string in order to stand up straight. She then asked us to breathe deeply. Everyone in Le Ministère stood for the next few long moments in silent breathing meditation, before the band jumped into the next song. 

For the finale, all the musicians left the stage except Remy and one vocalist to perform the 2010 song “Red Ford Radio.” The two started centre-stage, singing directly to each other. They started to repeat the lyrics, “I’d do anything to get out.”  As they continued to sing those lyrics, they both dropped their mics, and the audience started chanting along with them. They proceeded to join the crowd as everyone sang in unison. After circling through the crowd, Remy and the vocalist sang one final “I’d do anything to get out,” as they exited through the stage door.

While U.S. Girls’ show was short, clocking in at only around an hour, it was high in the energy and charisma that matches her recorded material. Overall, U.S. Girls played a tight set that was artfully arranged. Years-long fan or newcomer, this show would make anyone fall in love with Meg Remy. 

Photos by Britanny Clarke.

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Music

Metronomy lives on Forever

Even in the middle of a snowstorm, this English electronic group was on fire

Up until now, Metronomy has been evolving their sound between each new album. From lo-fi electronica to wonky pop, and from new wave to electronic rock, each release and subsequent tour had its own fresh take on what Metronomy was.

Last year, the band put out their sixth album, Metronomy Forever, a 17-track amalgamation of every genre Metronomy had dabbled in, while still having room for a few surprise twists. This direction also sums up their current tour quite well––Metronomy has brought their performance to the next level while still paying homage to their funky indie roots.

Olugbenga Adelekan on bass guitar and Oscar Cash on keyboard.

Upon arrival last Friday night, Feb. 7, the MTelus venue was quite empty even though it was only a few minutes away from the official start time of the show, most likely due to the unfortunate weather. The supporting act was supposed to be indie-dance artist Charlotte Adigery, but her replacement, Montreal’s own Birds of Paradise, informed the crowd that she was unable to make it. They joked about how it was as much a surprise for us as for them, as they only got called a few hours prior and already had tickets to the show. It ended up being a nice surprise as they captured the crowd’s attention with their unique blend of machine folk and romantic pop. In particular, their cover of Ozzie Nelson’s classic “Dream a Little Dream of Me” was a standout moment.

Metronomy kept it simple this time, at least compared to the gimmicks and wild costumes of their past live shows. A cloth backdrop was the only real set-piece. On either side of the stage, Michael Lovett and Oscar Cash were playing customized synth structures on wheels, with Anna Prior on drums towards the back. Bassist Olugbenga Adelekan and lead singer Joseph Mount were at the front, with plenty of space to dance around. Their set––or lack of one––and the matching white jumpsuits might seem minimal on paper, but the simplicity put an emphasis on the lighting and the music.

Metronomy treated the crowd to an energetic 21-song setlist, packed with their greatest hits and some hidden gems. Between each track from Metronomy Forever were hits from the last few albums crossing all genres while avoiding any jarring changes to the vibe. Every member had a track where they got the spotlight to shine. Prior’s vocals in “Everything Goes My Way” and Oscar Cash’s theremin synth in “Boy Racers” are two good examples.

Throughout the whole night, the crowd could be heard singing along to every track and had great energy. As the set came to an end with “Sex Emoji,” people weren’t ready to go home just yet, and cheered until Mount returned to the stage solo for an acoustic version of “Upset My Girlfriend.” Then the rest of the band slowly made their way back to the stage for a final explosive rendition of “Radio Ladio.”

All together, Metronomy’s concert was a great treat for their biggest fans and a fantastic first show for new ones as they enter a new decade of their career.

 

Metronomy live on Feb. 7 at MTelus.

Photos by Cecilia Piga

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Music

Caveboy––a DIY punk approach to alt-pop

Montreal band Caveboy is ready to share their debut album with the world

In 2015, Caveboy released their first self-titled EP and quickly began the long journey of growing their audience. From playing in festivals such as SXSW, Osheaga, and Pride Toronto, to supporting some incredible acts like Tash Sultana, Tom Walker and Wintersleep, Caveboy has worked hard to grow their audience while still self-releasing all of their music. It doesn’t look like they’ll be stopping any time soon.

Lana Cooney

Since their first EP, the band has continued to release singles and amass fans thanks to their unique new wave 80s pop sound and chaotically-fun live shows. The all-women trio consists of Michelle Bensimon, lead singer and guitarist, bassist Isabelle Banos and Lana Cooney on drums, with whom I recently had the opportunity to chat about their story and the newly released debut album, Night in the Park, Kiss in the Dark.

Cooney, a Concordia alumnus, grew up in a musical home here in Montreal where she gravitated to the drums at the early age of 10. Having a musician for a father meant she had plenty of instruments lying around, which she was always encouraged to mess around with. 

“I was just drawn to the drums,” said Cooney, before diving into her musical journey and the formation of the band. In high school she would go on to be the first female drummer in Lindsay Place high school orchestra, where she started meeting   other musicians and jamming out in her mom’s garage. “And that’s [the garage] where Caveboy got its start too.”

Banos met Cooney on their Cégep orientation day when she spotted the drumsticks sticking out of Cooney’s bag. A few years later, the two friends would go on to invite Bensimon to create the trio that became Caveboy.

Jumping to 2020, Caveboy released their debut album on Jan. 31. It was always a dream of the band’s to produce a full-length album, and they’ve done it. The very relatable album covers themes of being heard, relationships between childhood friends, partners and family.

Isabelle Banos

“There are some ballads, some dance-y ones, and even some psychedelic ones,” is how Cooney describes the album in her 60-second elevator pitch. When asked to pick one song from the album that those new to the band should check out first, she replied “N.Y.P!”

Montreal has and will always be part of Caveboy’s story, with their upcoming official release party on Feb. 8 at the Centre Phi. While the city’s lower cost of living and abundance of small venues has been a great help for getting the band’s feet off the ground, they have their sights set on longer and further tours. It’s a goal of Cooney’s to get on the road as much as they can this year and keep growing. The live performance is equally as important to the band. Adding performance enhancing elements to their live shows has been a focus since the beginning.

Michelle Bensimon

“Stuff like lighting! Not steroids,” said Cooney, with a laugh. From sets, to merch, to social media––they like to be as involved as possible, and every new team member is personally hand-selected, leaving nothing to chance. It’s clear this band is one of the most dedicated ones in the city, and one to keep on your radar this decade. 

Night in the Park, Kiss in the Dark is out now, and it’s not an album you want to miss out on.

 

Photos by Cecilia Piga.

 

Categories
Music Quickspins

QUICKSPINS: KAYTRANADA – Bubba Review

 Kaytra’s sophomore album doubles down on what made 99.9% so entrancing

When producers make their own albums, they’re mostly messy. Oftentimes, they’re lacking in cohesiveness or interesting tracks, but mainly, they’re boring. Kaytranada is a modern exception to this.

Bubba, the newest unannounced album from the Montreal native, isn’t a successor to 99.9% by name, but it sure feels like the next logical step. The sounds aren’t quite different from his previous effort, but this record is yet another compilation of dance-ready tracks with solid features and wonderful instrumentals.

Beginning with one of the few tracks to not feature a guest, “DO IT” is an uneventful way to start the album. The beat feels janky at times, but thankfully it’s short enough to be only a blip. The following track, “2 The Music,” is where the party truly starts as Iman Omari’s vocals on the track are soothing and lively.

Mick Jenkins, Kali Uchis, and Masego are the stars of the show. Their respective tracks are fiery and continue to prove that performing alongside a Kaytra beat is a surefire way to make a banger.

Sonically, Kaytra focuses on what he does best, but he also does his best at creating Afrobeats-style instrumentals and executes them with a high degree of success, especially on “Vex Oh” featuring Eight9FLY, GoldLink, and Ari PenSmith.

Bubba, like 99.9%, is a full-length album surpassing the 50-minute mark, but still manages to be entertaining to the very end without any lulls or misfires on the entirety of the tracklist.

The album bears a striking resemblance to his previous effort and there probably would have been bigger payoffs had Kaytra taken a few more risks, but the Montreal producer stuck to his guns and dropped a wonderful dance album to cap off the decade.

Rating: 8.5/10

Trial Track: 10% (feat. Kali Uchis)

Categories
Music

CJ Flemings comes back for more

 An interview with the Montreal rap artist following the release of his second studio album, Mascara Tears

CJ Flemings is growing into the best version of himself.

Since the release of the Montreal rapper’s successful debut album, Forever Wanted More in 2017, there was mostly silence from the artist across streaming platforms.

“I held back from releasing a lot of music,” said Flemings. “I still want to put all that music out. I just haven’t gotten to that yet, but hopefully in the near future I can share that with everybody. I was really just working on my craft though. I feel like I didn’t miss with this last project, it’s better than the last one.”

This “last project” is said in reference to Mascara Tears, the long-anticipated, most recent body of work from Flemings. The album was released on Nov. 22, the same day that Flemings opened up for New York rapper Lil Tjay at Corona Theatre. Despite the successful turn out, Flemings sad that he’s still in the midst of planning something special for his own show to celebrate the album’s launch.

CJ Flemings released his second album, Mascara Tears, on November 22, 2019. Photo by Laurence B.D.

Mascara Tears encompasses themes of honesty, love, betrayal, and heartbreak, showing Flemings at his most vulnerable. His drive to go the extra mile may have come from his pairing with Juno-award winning producer, Michael Lantz, who motivated him in the studio.

“I love challenges,” said Flemings. “When someone challenges me I’m more so like ‘Oh damn, you care about this right now.’ So I’m trying to get this, let’s get it right.”

Flemings did a lot of the work on his debut album, Forever Wanted More, alone. Though he decided to change things up on his latest project.

“On Forever Wanted More, I was picking a lot of the beats and I recorded a lot of it, mixed a lot of it myself, and mastered a lot of it myself. I just felt like when going into Mascara Tears, I met Lantz and he was very disciplined about the production and all that, so I dived into the best versions of myself and tried to correct a lot of the mistakes I made and trusted the whole procedure.”

The first song on the album, “Curtains,” was the first song that Flemings and Lantz recorded together after scrapping a previous, unreleased song. “Curtains” begins with a friend telling Flemings that he doesn’t see him anymore and that he’s acting differently. Flemings said he put in that snippet to remind others that there will be times in one’s career when you have to be selfish.

“I felt like I was going towards a direction where I really needed to care about myself,” said Flemings. “[I needed] to put myself in a vulnerable spot to show that there are times where you might feel like there are people who are distant from you, and it’s a problem, but if you’re focused on a goal and that’s what you’re working on, sometimes you just gotta overcome these challenges.”

Now that CJ Flemings has finally accomplished one of his goals with the release of Mascara Tears, one can hope to see more of the young rap artist in Montreal’s glowing hip hop spotlight. 

Photos by Laurence B.D.

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