CKUT TOTAL ECLIPSE OF THE CHARTS::: November 29, 2016

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First it was Leonard Cohen, then Sharon Jones, now Pauline Oliveros. Don’t even wanna think about what’s gonna happen next week.

In light of all this downer music news, here’s a tiny bunny eating some wildflowers. Let yourself enjoy the little things.

xo
joni

:::WHAT’S UP AT CKUT:::
Our Annual General Meeting is tomorrow! If you’re in Montreal, please do stop by – it’s your chance to catch up on all the things we’ve done over the past year and get an idea of what’s coming up in 2017. All your fave CKUT folks will be there, and we’ll have food courtesy of Midnight Kitchen. Check out the details & RSVP here.

:::CHARTS:::
ckut top 30 – november 29, 2016

1. tanya tagaq – retribution – six shooter CC
2. meredith monk – on behalf of nature – ecm
3. phern – pause clope/cool coma – fixture records CC *
4. sam shalabi & alan bishop – mother of all sinners: puppet on a string – unrock CC *
5. weyes blood – front row seat to earth – mexican summer Continue reading

Album Review: MonkeyJunk – Time To Roll

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Time To Roll is the fifth studio album from the Ottawa blues band MonkeyJunk. The band is proud to announce that this album features an electric bass prominently, which was not the case in any of the band’s previous four album. The album is not only, electric but also eclectic. While every song is united under the umbrella of blues and blues rock, each song has a unique essence and emotion. In the first three tracks the listener experiences the emotion of a Jonny Lang ballad, the milieu of a Tinsley Ellis song, and the rockin’ vibe of something straight from the depths Jimmie Vaughan and The Fabulous Thunderbirds.

Vocalist Steve Marriner bowls over the listener with the sheer power and potency of his voice, such as in the first track “Best Kept Secret,” yet, at the same time caresses the listener with sonorous care, for example, in the soulful “Blue Lights Go Down.” As well, most every song also features Marriner’s powerful harmonica in addition to his strong vocals. The band covers many styles on the album, from the gospel tinged, funky “Fuzzy Poodle” to the strong, throbbing love song “Can’t Call You Baby.” Perhaps most interesting to a traditional blues lover, “Undertaker Blues” is what could only be described as Monke Junk’s take on the country blues John Lee Hooker’s songwriting. The song is the perfect coalescence between Marriner’s sharp harp and vocals, Tony D’s twangy guitar, and drummer Matt Sobb’s driving percussion. Monkey Junk entertains with the comical “Gone” and another southern rock-influenced tune, “Time To Roll.” Listeners will swear they hear Derek Trucks on the soulful “Pray For Rain.” “See The Sign” features a Southern/Indie Rock feel accompanied by Sobb’s drumming in tandem with that ever-present harmonica that anyone will come to know well after listening to this album. Time To Roll leaves the listener with a heart full of MonkeyJunk’s sonorous and impassioned blues and great contentment.

 
– review by E.C. Wenzel

Album Review: Lady Wray – Queen Alone

Queen Alone is the second solo studio album from American R&B singer Nicole Wray, and her first album under the name “Lady Wray”. Eighteen years since her first album, Make It Hot, Wray has a new record company, a new producer, and a new sound. Make It Hot was part R&B and part hip-hop, with heavy drum beats and frequent features by album producer and rapper Missy Elliot. Queen Alone presents a more mature, classic R&B sound that puts the focus on Wray’s powerful vocals.

Most of the songs on Queen Alone are old-school R&B. Simple instrumentals are punctuated by trumpets and background vocals heavily influenced by gospel, a side effect of Wray’s church upbringing. This can be seen in tracks such as “Do It Again”, “Guilty”, and “Make Me Over”, nostalgic tunes about love and loss. As the album progresses, however, the songs begin to bring in elements of other genres. “In Love (Don’t Mess Things Up)” features a folksy instrumental not typically seen in R&B, providing an interesting contrast to Wray’s vocals. “It’s Been A Long Time” is reminiscent of the Jackson 5, bringing in more of a pop vibe. The tracks “Cut Me Loose” and “Underneath My Feet” delve into rock, with heavy guitar and drum beats. Finally, “They Won’t Hang Around” brings back memories of classic Amy Winehouse hits such as “You Know I’m No Good”. With elements of so many different genres, Queen Alone runs the risk of sounding like a collection of single songs rather than an album. However, the R&B undertones of every song, combined with Lady Wray’s powerful vocals, give the album the necessary cohesiveness.

Queen Alone is remarkable different from Lady Wray’s first album. Her new sound emphasizes her incredible voice instead of relying on the heavy backbeat and hip-hop elements of Make It Hot. Wray’s return to a more classic R&B sound suits her well, and is a great listen for anyone looking to reminisce about the old-school days of R&B.

– Review by Emma Park

CKUT TOTAL ECLIPSE OF THE CHARTS::: November 22, 2016

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Hi friends,
Not much to report this week except for the sudden onslaught of winter here in Montreal. Lots of folks are still having a rough go post-election (and with all the other stuff happening globally right now) so here’s a photo from the time Bobby the corgi visited CKUT and everything was good in the world.

xo
joni

:::WHAT’S UP AT CKUT:::
We’ve been churning out a steady stream of amazing content lately on the CKUT music blog. Check new reviews of this week’s chart-topper PhernWeyes Blood,Rakam, and Glamour Nails to get started – and there’s plenty more where those came from. Dig right in.

:::CHARTS:::
ckut top 30 – november 22, 2016

1. phern – pause clope/cool coma – fixture records CC *
2. loscil – monument builders – kranky CC
3. tanya tagaq – retribution – six shooter CC
4. ylangylang – life without structure – self-released CC *
5. weyes blood – front row seat to earth – mexican summer Continue reading

Album Review: Phern – cool coma

a2678303782_10The brand-new release from Phern, a supergroup composed of underground darlings from the Montreal indie scene, proves once again that the city is a both a breeding ground and a blank canvas for creative ventures big and small. Phern, which consists of members from Moss Lime, Soft Cone, and Sheer Agony (to name a few), has quietly written and produced the tiny EP Pause Clope and a tightly spiraling LP cool coma within the 514 city limits. The group could be dismissed as another cute local band if not for the fact that its members have already weathered the city’s saturated music scene, and thus have been able to create an album that adeptly straddles a label of jangle-pop and experimentalism.

The sound is not unlike The Microphones or early Grizzly Bear at times, and influences of Sheer Agony’s Masterpiece are sprinkled here and there. Within cool coma there exist jangle-pop earworms such as “I Sold The House” and “Pebble,” and a couple Phil Evrum-esque tracks appear in “Flipper Twister” and “Hospital Garden.” The album is presented in the order in which the songs were written and recorded; an honest, casual, stripped-down approach to presenting music. No track on cool coma reaches past the three-minute mark, providing short bursts of tart rhythms and staccato, syncopated beats. Hélène Barbier’s soft drone provides an anchor for the loose drums and wandering, chaotic guitar and synth.

“I Sold The House,” the first track on Pause Clope, starts with the sound of jaunty snares and a liquid electric guitar. It’s a catchy number, and Barbiere’s vocals here are less abrasive here than on other tracks, providing a soft, catchy introduction to Phern. “Excavator,” the first track on cool coma, has a psychedelic element. With fuzzy vocals and slow, fluid layering, the entire track appears to be soaked in sepia. “Pebble” provides a nice walking track to the tune of jangly electric guitar and expert syncopation. Barbiere’s vocals provide a physical and lyrical dissonance to the instrumentals, which are quite reminiscent of Sheer Agony.

“Real Nice Chair” features a lovely bass guitar intro before the electric guitar interrupts without warning; Barbiere’s voice then slinks in and proceeds to hover just below the instrumentals for the remainder of the track. “Crosswalk Talk” features more bass guitar solos and a hypnotic chorus, which repeats “I would recommend that you don’t cross here.” It is at once robotic and evocative, with Barbiere’s high monotone serving as a warning sign.

cool coma simultaneously keeps you on your toes and lulls you into a sense of complacency. The instrumentals come in fits and starts, with heavy syncopation and time signature change, but the overarching sound is very similar throughout the album. There is a gentle abrasiveness to cool coma, with many tracks affecting an endearing subtle dissonance; Phern knows what they are doing, and they do it well. 

Album released: November 25, 2016 (Pause Clope was released October 14, 2016)

review by Juliana Van Amsterdam 

Album Review: Weyes Blood – Front Row Seat To Earth

 

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Natalie Mering, or better known by her stage name Weyes Blood, released her elegant new LP Front Row Seat To Earth a couple of weeks ago. The New York singer-songwriter’s second album released under Mexican Summer’s record label approaches the listener with tenderness and care through the whole tracklist. The realities of dealing with relationships and celebrating change in attitudes are central themes surrounding Mering’s latest project.

“Diary” is the first track off the LP that starts with a slow piano progression that feels heavenly to the effect of Mering’s beautiful vocals. The atmosphere feels intimate and sparks different notions of what Mering might be experiencing in her life. It’s almost as if she’s singing a personal passage from her own diary, informing the listening audience about how she feels. This sets the tone for the rest of the album which feels extremely personal from one track to the next.

The song “Be Free” is absolutely stunning, it pulls at your heart in the most comforting way possible. The guitar playing feels dreamy, Mering’s vocals towards the later half of the track resonate well against the brass instruments and finishes the song off exquisitely well. “Generation Why” was used as one of the singles for Weyes Blood’s latest record and discusses the idea of our current generation and dealing with change in everyday life. The gentle guitar plucking throughout the song is accompanied by violins that support Mering’s stellar harmonies on the track. At this point the consistency of the album feels satisfying and carries forth similar production within each song proceeding.

“Can’t Go Home” is the following track after “Generation Why” and utilizes a harmonizer for the background vocals, the effect feels like a beautiful outer worldly instrument. “Away Above” has cool synth work seeping its way through light guitar playing and pretty vocals that emulate a sense of sorrow that’s oddly uplifting at the same time. Mering addresses how confusing love can be, what it means to love someone, and how real that feeling can be to someone. It’s a harrowing track that is relatable for anyone facing the dilemma of what it means to have feelings of love resonating within one’s self.

Front Row Seat To Earth is a magnificent accomplishment for an album. Exceptionally touching and forward thinking, the latest LP from the New York songstress is one that should not be overlooked. Pick up this record and give yourself the pleasure of pulling up a front row seat to the experience. You’re going to want to be seated for the initial playthrough.

– Review by Michael Eidelson

Album Review: Rakam – Triomphe Seul

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       Triomphe Seul is the second LP by local band RAKAM (comprised of Marc-André Roy, Simon Quevillon, and Einar Jullum). The album’s quirky blend of experimental and electronic pop with a tinge of jazz perpetuates a charming silliness fuelled by wacky synths and playful vocals.

            “Nouvelle Flüte” and “Hillup! Jeune” are prime examples of the album’s joyous bizarreness. In “Nouvelle Flüte” and “Hillup! Jeune” Roy adopts a David Byrne-like charisma that’s backed by experimental pop instrumentation. However, with “Buildings on Demand” and “Triomphe Seul” RAKAM hone in on the album’s tamer new wave and synthpop elements.“Buildings on Demand” fuses animated Devo-esque beats with vocals akin to Andy Partridge of XTC (think “Senses Working Overtime”). Meanwhile, “Triomphe Seul” harnesses a fuzzy transmission-esque tonality reminiscent of The Buggles classic “Video Killed the Radio Star.” RAKAM also highlight their jazzier side with “Law School Dropout,” where they foster a whimsical melody sprinkled with blasts of saxophone. Yet, straying from Triomphe Seuls overall idiosyncratic sound are the dreamy instrumentals “Beresford Overture” and “Cowboy’s Universal.” With “Beresford Overture” the band develops a synth melody reminiscent of the instrumental in Mac DeMarco’s “Chamber of Reflection.” Then, on their final track, “Cowboy’s Universal,” RAKAM lace synth pop with folky undertones and gently draw their album to a close.

To some, RAKAM’s experimental eccentricity, though fresh and daring, may be slightly inaccessible. Nevertheless, Triomphe Seul exudes a sense of playful warmth that is hard to come by. Those looking to remedy a bland palette of listening will find much to love with RAKAM’s latest offering.

– Review by Soraya Mamiche Afara

Album Review: Kadhja Bonet – The Visitor

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Kadhja Bonet is definitely a singular artist. Her entire album can be described as a compilation of snapshots, scenes that each tell their own stories. Her style can be described as… well, let me quote NPR here: “a cinematic and folky kind of psychedelic soul music impossible to pin down.”  I cannot disagree.

My experience listening to “The Visitor”? I inserted the album into the CD player and distracted myself on the computer while the album was loading. But my attention was captured by Kadhja Bonet as soon as the first track, “Earth Birth,” began playing. It.is.golden. You feel as though you are walking through a sci-fi movie, transported somewhere in space and discovering a whole new universe. But soon enough, this extraterrestrial space is closed and you are brought into a solitary place in which you long for your “Honeycomb.” Does the move from extraterrestrial to melancholy seem slightly drastic? Surprisingly not. Kadhja Bonet masterfully ends each track in suspense, making the listener eagerly wait for the next song and therefore willingly accept whatever change in beat and atmosphere it comes with.

Throughout the entire album, Bonet expertly accompanies her listeners from space to space, scene to scene, story to story. Each track is artfully crafted, for not only is she gifted with the ability to generate beautiful arrangements of strings and synthetics, but she also demonstrates a particularly soothing low voice. This was especially apparent in “Portrait of Tracy” with its combination of strings, percussion, and gospel-inspired vocals. This short track, only 2:16 in length, ends with a heavenly acapella section which sounded curiously like angels – or at least what I imagine angels would sound like.

Many, if not all, artists experiment in their work. Kadhja Bonet embraces this tactic fully, and her creative use of sounds, voices, and arrangements is definitely worthy of praise. All her songs are very pleasing to listen to, yet they also have a little something that catches you by surprise and makes you want to listen for more. During the entire duration of the album, you are continuously pulled in because each song tells its own story and paints its own scene in which you, the listener, can picture yourself as a character.

– Review by Se Jeong Park

 

CKUT TOTAL ECLIPSE OF THE CHARTS::: November 15, 2016

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Everybody knows that the dice are loaded
Everybody rolls with their fingers crossed
Everybody knows that the war is over
Everybody knows the good guys lost
Everybody knows the fight was fixed
The poor stay poor, the rich get rich
That’s how it goes
Everybody knows

– Leonard Cohen

OOF.
Tump won, beloved Montrealer Leonard Cohen passed away – it’s been a tough week for so many of us. Hold yr friends close and let the evils of the world motivate our collective actions: it’s time to stand up and make shit happen, now more than ever.
xo
joni

:::CHARTS:::
ckut top 30 – november 15, 2016

1. tanya tagaq – retribution – six shooter CC
2. phern – pause clope/cool coma – fixture records CC *
3. mars – mars archives volume two: 11,000 volts to tunnel – feeding tube
4. a tribe called red – we are the halluci nation – radicalized records CC *
5. strange froots – blossom this froot for thought – self-released CC * Continue reading

CKUT TOTAL ECLIPSE OF THE CHARTS::: November 8, 2016

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Hi folks,
Sorry for missing your tracking calls & emails last week, I got hit with a brutal cold and was outta the office for a couple days. Catching up soon, promise.

Strength to our American buds – we’re biting our nails up here in Canada, too.
xo
joni

:::WHAT’S UP AT CKUT:::
A Picturesque Venus Transit (aka Danji Buck-Moore, mem. Slight and Anabasine) takes control of CKUT’s mighty airwaves for all of November’s freaky Wednesdays (noon – 2pm). Expect an array of funny friends and extreme experimentalists from the deepest darkest corners of Montreal’s strangest scenes. He’ll also take deep dives into some of his favourite obscure and famous recordings, be it on microchip or dusty wax, culling brain-bending and mind-dripping sonics fromevery corner of our weird and wonderful lily pad known as spaceship Earth. Call in: 514-448-4013

:::CHARTS:::
ckut top 30 – november 8, 2016

1. duchess says – sciences nouvelles – bonsound CC *
2. tanya tagaq – retribution – six shooter CC
3. loscil – monument builders – kranky CC
4. sam shalabi – isis and osiris – nashazphone CC *
5. a tribe called red – we are the halluci nation – radicalized records CC * Continue reading