Album Review: Djo – Decide

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By Ada Tur

Joe Keery has been busy. Between being a Hollywood actor in hit television series Stranger Things and pursuing his own songwriting career, he is no stranger to making his art as unique to him as possible. With his newest album, Decide, being released 3 years after his first project, Twenty Twenty, Keery, who goes by stage name “Djo”, takes on a new perspective on his sound and his life over the course of the pandemic and the beginning of the 2020s.

Decide starts off with Runner, a rhythmic manifestation of a life devoted to eternally moving forwards and upwards. This sets the scene for the next half hour of the album, establishing Keery’s characterization of the album using synthy melodies and layered, auto-tuned harmonies over his vocals. The album as a whole is remarkably cohesive, and this works mainly to its advantage—but also to its detriment. While each song flows smoothly between one another, as if Keery never set his keyboard down for a single moment between each track, it’s easy to get a feeling that each song sort of just…sounds the same. However, you can always count on the incorporation of some element that can knock your brain back into the album and distinguish between each song. Gloom features vocals mirroring the aggressive, eccentric styles of David Byrne, On and On strikes listeners with an epic drum solo in the second half of the track, and songs like Climax and End of Beginning have engaging guitar melodies and rhythms. It’s not surprising to hear Keery exercising his talent on multiple instruments during the album, considering his projects under the name Djo aren’t his first venture into the world of music—Keery was also briefly the guitarist for a Chicago-based group called Post Animal. Nevertheless, his work on the keyboard establishes dominance on this album, as obvious from the insurmountable amount of synth-pop hooks in each track.

It is evident that Keery’s reflection on the past three years has amounted to several epiphanies, when it comes to Decide. Moving from Twenty Twenty’s desolate emotions of solitude and nostalgia, Decide chooses to take a step forward and break out of a state of depression and into the anxieties of making change and moving towards the future to a better place.

Electronic Grooves: U-TURN Volume 3 Review

U-Turn Vol. 3 flyer

U-Turn Vol. 3 flyer

Words by Sean Holley, read more here

Socials of the DJs:
Raef
Gene Tellem
Danai

As my first written piece for CKUT, this is a bit of a personal affair. It seemed fitting to start with a review of U-Turn Volume 3, because the event checked 3 major boxes: a night showcasing local talent organized and DJed by my close friend Raef, who also happens to be the music librarian here at CKUT.

Back in August 2022, Raef held his first U-Turn, an event designed to highlight the DJ scene in Montreal and expand listeners’ horizons with a diverse billing of genres. From golden-age 90s house to left-field techno, garage, trance and more, his goal was to break from the monotony of 4-to-the-floor hard techno and drop-obsessed tech house. After Raef’s third installment in 4 months, I can confirm that the concept has been a resounding success.

A show is nothing without a proper venue. For the best possible experience, the setting must synergize with the music being played, adding to the impact of the performances. Listening to disco house in an abandoned factory just wouldn’t feel right. Fortunately, Barbossa was the perfect companion for the type of music Raef, Gene Tellem, and Danai played at U-Turn. An intimate dancefloor with good cocktails, warm lighting, and friendly staff went hand-in-hand with the propulsive, upbeat tracks played throughout the night.

Raef led off at 11pm, setting the stage for the rest of the event. Around 10:55, the dancefloor went from empty to packed, as Raef’s gaggle of McGill supporters made it to Barbossa. The tracks were predominantly deep and groovy house, with some garage mixed in. I didn’t sense a definite climax in the progression of the set, it felt like a constant 70 degrees to me. But don’t confuse consistency with mediocrity, this was an excellent showing. Raef paid his dues to two 90s deep house maestros, playing Kerri Chandler’s You’re in my System early on in the night and Ron Trent’s I Feel the Rhythm towards the finale of the set. I greatly appreciated the seamless mixture of old and new tracks, it was simultaneously a history lesson and a taste of the future.

One of Raef’s biggest strengths as a DJ is knowing how to play to a crowd without playing exactly what they want to hear. He’s consistently able to find that sweet spot that stretches the crowd’s tastes without going too far and losing their engagement. At U-Turn, he did it again, delivering one of his strongest sets. Honestly, each subsequent set I hear from Raef feels like his best one yet, so the future of the Montreal scene is very much in safe hands.

Danai described Gene Tellem’s DJing style in one word: classy. That just about puts it perfectly. Clean yet energetic with organic percussion and irregular rhythms, her hour from midnight to 1am melded together across every song. The undercurrent of bongos provided an off-beat metronome, switching enough to keep me fully focused throughout the set.

Gene’s credentials precede her: she’s been a fixture in Montreal for close to a decade now, with sets at Piknic Electronik and a Boiler Room, among other major placements. However, she’s never coasted on her reputation, and this set was a prime example of her commitment to the scene that raised her. Unfortunately, most artists of her stature wouldn’t even agree to do an event like this, let alone get there 40 minutes before their set to see the DJ before them play, dancing the entire time. A refreshing attitude paired with a skillful performance made Gene Tellem a superb second act.

It’s 1am now, and most of the crowd has left Barbossa. Many of Raef’s friends exited the minute his set finished at 12, and the stragglers that stayed for Gene decided to call it a night. They have no idea what they missed.

Danai behind the decks

Danai behind the decks

Normally, I find soulful house a bit boring. It’s too regular and slow, and the grooves can turn plodding after they are repeated for 6 minutes straight. It’s alright coffeeshop music, but not what I would call danceable. That being said, Danai struck a nerve with his set, mixing funky samples with pounding subs in a way I had never heard before. If you weren’t moving, you need to get your ears checked. The entire set was also vinyl, with multiple instances of mixing back and forth between tracks in the middle of a song. All due respect to Raef and Gene, but this was the best hour of the night.

Danai’s whole hour was killer, but the last 15 minutes were magic on the dancefloor. It was one of those moments where you’re fully engrossed in the music and unconscious of how frenzied your dancing is. If you’re sober, you feel high, and if you’re high, you feel fully out-of-body. Danai took it to another level, and the 8 of us left standing positively lost our minds. My favorite sequence of the night was 3 of the last 4 tracks: I’ll Be Your Friend by Robert Owens into a top-notch track with a Bowie sample from Let’s Dance (“Put on your red shoes and dance the blues…”) into a club mix of Dreamlover by Mariah Carey. It was a groove workout to finish the night: kinetic, exuberant, and exhausting in the best possible way.

At U-Turn Volume 3, Raef, Gene Tellem, and Danai played for 3 hours total, crafting a first-rate night in the process. Each of their sets had a distinct flavor, yet all 3 played off of each other, synergizing their styles and building a cohesive atmosphere. If it wasn’t obvious at this point, I can’t recommend U-Turn enough.

Image 3 for U-Turn Review

Author’s note: U-Turn Volume 4 is coming back to Barbossa on December 3rd, be there.

CKUT TOTAL ECLIPSE OF THE CHARTS ::: NOV 2, 2022

CKUT TOP 30, Nov 2, 2022

1. magi merlin – gone girl – self CC*

2. lou reed – words & music may 1965 – light in the attic

3. planet giza – you don’t understand – nsvg CC*

4.sudan archives – natural brown prom queen – stones throw

5. suzi analogue – infinite zones – disciples

6. zoon – a sterling murmuration – paper bag CC

7. minyeshu – netsa – arc music

8. keiji haino & sumac – into this juvenile apocalypse our golden blood… – thrill jockey

9. thanya iyer – rest – top shelf CC*

10. shygirl – nymph – because

11. reini b – venus ep – self

12. babba commandant and the mandingo band – sonbonbela – sublime frequencies

13. charles stepney – step on step

14. kamikaze nurse – stimuloso – mint CC

15. lucreca dalt – ¡ay! – rvng

16. lisa leblanc – chiac disco – bonsound CC

17. sampa the great – as above so below – loma vista

18. ron trent presents warm – what do the stars say to you – night time stories

19. divino niño – last spa on earth – winspear

20. trombone shorty – lifted – blue note

21. kiwi jr – chopper sub pop

22. medicine singers – s/t – stone tapes/mothland

23. david rosenboom & sarah belle reid – nows – parma

24. diamond head – lightening to the head – silver lining

25. emeralds – solar bridge – ghostly

26. various – daniel vangarde: The vaults of zagora records mastermind 71-84 – because

27. tess roby – ideas of space – ssurounds CC

28. ian william craig – music for magnesium 173 – fat cat

29.kaoru abe no future – another wrong way, again 路又走错一条 – presses precaires

30. dill the giant – weed man son delux – birthday cake CC

CKUT TOP 10 JAZZ, Nov 2, 2022:

1. trevor dunn trio convulsant avec folie a quatre – sèance – pyroclastic

2.william parker – universal tonality – centering / aum fidelity

3.ellwood epps & togetherness! – up hear! (live at the lilypad) – mr. e CC

4.tyshawn sorey trio + 1 – the off broadway guide to synergism – pi recordings

5.thumbscrew – multicolored midnight – cuneiform

6.dan weiss trio – dedication – cygnus

7.ullmann / swell / greene / altschul – we’re playing here? – no business

8.brûlez les meubles – tardif – tour de bras/circum disk CC

9.ingrid laubrock / tom rainey – counterfeit mars – relative pitch

10. josh sinton predicate quartet – 4 freedoms – fip

CKUT TOTAL ECLIPSE OF THE CHARTS ::: OCT 25, 2022

CKUT TOP 30, Oct 25, 2022:

1. magi merlin – gone girl – self CC*

2. lou reed – words & music may 1965 – light in the attic

3. planet giza – you don’t understand – nsvg CC*

4. sudan archives – natural brown prom queen – stones throw

5. suzi analogue – infinite zones – disciples

6. zoon – a sterling murmuration – paper bag CC

7. minyeshu – netsa – arc music

8. keiji haino & sumac – into this juvenile apocalypse our golden blood… – thrill jockey

9. thanya iyer – rest – top shelf CC*

10. kaoru abe no future – another wrong way, again 路又走错一条 – presses precaires

11. reini b – venus ep – self

12. babba commandant and the mandingo band – sonbonbela – sublime frequencies

13. charles stepney – step on step

14. kamikaze nurse – stimuloso – mint CC

15. lucreca dalt – ¡ay! – rvng

16. lisa leblanc – chiac disco – bonsound CC

17. sampa the great – as above so below – loma vista

18. ron trent presents warm – what do the stars say to you – night time stories

19. divino niño – last spa on earth – winspear

20. trombone shorty – lifted – blue note

21. kiwi jr – chopper sub pop

22. medicine singers – s/t – stone tapes/mothland

23. david rosenboom & sarah belle reid – nows – parma

24. diamond head – lightening to the head – silver lining

25. emeralds – solar bridge – ghostly

26. various – daniel vangarde: The vaults of zagora records mastermind 71-84 – because

27. tess roby – ideas of space – ssurounds CC

28. ian william craig – music for magnesium 173 – fat cat

29. taigenz – life a life – self CC*

30. dill the giant – weed man son delux – birthday cake CC

CKUT TOP 10 JAZZ, OCT 25, 2022:

1. trevor dunn trio convulsant avec folie a quatre – sèance – pyroclastic

2. ellwood epps & togetherness! – up hear! (live at the lilypad) – mr. e CC

3. thumbscrew – multicolored midnight – cuneiform

4. william parker – universal tonality – centering / aum fidelity

5. brûlez les meubles – tardif – tour de bras/circum disk CC

6. ingrid laubrock / tom rainey – counterfeit mars – relative pitch

7. tyshawn sorey trio + 1 – the off broadway guide to synergism – pi recordings

8. dan weiss trio – dedication – cygnus

9. charuest / ratté / kowald – montréal 1985 – tour de bras CC

10. makaya mccraven – in these times – international anthem

CKUT TOTAL ECLIPSE OF THE CHARTS ::: OCT 18, 2022

CKUT TOP 30, Oct 18, 2022

1. charles stepney – step on step
2. thanya iyer – rest – top shelf CC*
3. sudan archives – natural brown prom queen – stones throw
4. kamikaze nurse – stimuloso – mint CC
5. suzi analogue – infinite zones – disciples
6. zoon – a sterling murmuration – paper bag CC
7. minyeshu – netsa – arc music
8. keiji haino & sumac – into this juvenile apocalypse our golden blood… – thrill jockey
9. emeralds – solar bridge – ghostly
10. kaoru abe no future – another wrong way, again 路又走错一条 – presses precaires
11. reini b – venus ep – self
12. babba commandant and the mandingo band – sonbonbela – sublime frequencies
13. taigenz – life a life – self CC*
14. stereolab – pulse of the early brain (switched on vol 5) – mute
15. lucreca dalt – ¡ay! – rvng
16. lisa leblanc – chiac disco – bonsound CC
17. sampa the great – as above so below – loma vista
18. ron trent presents warm – what do the stars say to you – night time stories
19. moth cock – whipped stream and other earthly delights – hausu mountain
20. trombone shorty – lifted – blue note
21. kiwi jr – chopper sub pop
22. medicine singers – s/t – stone tapes/mothland
23. david rosenboom & sarah belle reid – nows – parma
24. diamond head – lightening to the head – silver lining
25. sunglaciers – subterannea – motherland CC
26. various – midnight rights: the b music of jean-pierre massiera – finders keepers
27. tess roby – ideas of space – ssurounds CC
28. ian william craig – music for magnesium 173 – fat cat
29. stefan christoff/lori goldston – punk equinox – dasa tapes CC*
30. dill the giant – weed man son delux – birthday cake CC

CKUT TOP 10 JAZZ, OCT 18, 2022:

1. thumbscrew – multicolored midnight – cuneiform
2. brûlez les meubles – tardif – tour de bras/circum disk CC
3. charuest / ratté / kowald – montréal 1985 – tour de bras CC
4. ingrid laubrock / tom rainey – counterfeit mars – relative pitch
5. steve lehman sélébéyone – xaybu: the unseen – pi recordings
6. masahiko togashi / don cherry / charlie haden – song of soil – paddle wheel
7. kirk knuffke trio – gravity without airs – tao forms
8. trevor dunn trio convulsant avec folie a quatre – sèance – pyroclastic
9. kassa overall – i think i’m good – brownswood
10. jessica ackerley – SSWAN : invisibility is a natural disaster – 577 music CC

CKUT TOTAL ECLIPSE OF THE CHARTS ::: OCT 12, 2022

CKUT TOP 30, OCT 11 2022:

1. charles stepney – step on step

2. thanya iyer – rest – top shelf CC*

3. sudan archives – natural brown prom queen – stones throw

4. kamikaze nurse – stimuloso – mint CC

5. suzi analogue – infinite zones – disciples

6. moth cock – whipped stream and other earthly delights – hausu mountain

7. minyeshu – netsa – arc music

8. keiji haino & sumac – into this juvenile apocalypse our golden blood… – thrill jockey

9. emeralds – solar bridge – ghostly

10. kaoru abe no future – another wrong way, again 路又走错一条 – presses precaires

11. reini b – venus ep – self

12. babba commandant and the mandingo band – sonbonbela – sublime frequencies

13. taigenz – life a life – self CC*

14. stereolab – pulse of the early brain (switched on vol 5) – mute

15. various – pierre barouh and the savannah sound – wewantsounds

16. lisa leblanc – chiac disco – bonsound CC

17. sampa the great – as above so below – loma vista

18. ron trent presents warm – what do the stars say to you – night time stories

19. steve lacy – gemini rights – rca

20. trombone shorty – lifted – blue note

21. kiwi jr – chopper sub pop

22. medicine singers – s/t – stone tapes/mothland

23. david rosenboom & sarah belle reid – nows – parma

24. diamond head – lightening to the head – silver lining

25. sunglaciers – subterannea – motherland CC

26. various – midnight rights: the b music of jean-pierre massiera – finders keepers

27. tess roby – ideas of space – ssurounds CC

28. ian william craig – music for magnesium 173 – fat cat

29. stefan christoff/lori goldston – punk equinox – dasa tapes CC*

30. dill the giant – weed man son delux – birthday cake CC

CKUT TOP 10 JAZZ, OCT 11, 2022:
1. thumbscrew – multicolored midnight – cuneiform

2. brûlez les meubles – tardif – tour de bras/circum disk CC

3. charuest / ratté / kowald – montréal 1985 – tour de bras CC

4. ingrid laubrock / tom rainey – counterfeit mars – relative pitch

5. steve lehman sélébéyone – xaybu: the unseen – pi recordings

6. masahiko togashi / don cherry / charlie haden – song of soil – paddle wheel

7. kirk knuffke trio – gravity without airs – tao forms

8. trevor dunn trio convulsant avec folie a quatre – sèance – pyroclastic

9. kassa overall – i think i’m good – brownswood

10. jessica ackerley – SSWAN : invisibility is a natural disaster – 577 music CC

Premier A Lighthouse at Night – Anarchist Mountains and Francesca Tallone

CKUT’s Music Department is proud to premiere a new video work by video artist Francesca Tallone that accompanies A Lighthouse at Night, a piece by the duet Anarchist Mountains. This is a duet project by brothers Jordan and Stefan Christoff which explores ambient tonalities and experimental instrumentation. Their latest album Fire Waves is out on Oxtail Recordings based in Perth, Australia.

Francesca writes:

“I was drawn to the rhythmic sounds in the song and saw layers of fog rolling past, through trees over and over, enveloping the lighthouse and blanketing the trees and muffling the sounds.”

On the Fire Waves album, a review on Beats Per Minute outlines:

“Far from the navel-gazing new age music most people might associate with that label, these songs have a purpose, acting as excursions through both our conscious and subconscious thoughts. Gentle but insistent in their approach to bringing light to the darker corners of our mind, the tracks acknowledge what is sometimes lurking at the edge of our perception, shadows that attempt to influence and move us to act in ways counter to our internal programming. These tracks provide space for us to engage with and mold those dark shapes into something constructive and necessary for good mental health.”

TOTAL ECLIPSE OF THE CHARTS ::: OCT 4, 2022

CKUT TOP 30, Oct 4, 2022:

1. charles stepney – step on step

2. thanya iyer – rest – top shelf CC*

3. sudan archives – natural brown prom queen – stones throw

4.kamikaze nurse – stimuloso – mint CC

5. suzi analogue – infinite zones – disciples

6. moth cock – whipped stream and other earthly delights – hausu mountain

7. minyeshu – netsa – arc music

8. dill the giant – weed man son delux – birthday cake CC

9. emeralds – solar bridge – ghostly

10.kaoru abe no future – another wrong way, again 路又走错一条 – presses precaires

11. reini b – venus ep – self

12. babba commandant and the mandingo band – sonbonbela – sublime frequencies

13. taigenz – life a life – self CC*

14. stereolab – pulse of the early brain (switched on vol 5) – mute

15. various – pierre barouh and the savannah sound – wewantsounds

16. lisa leblanc – chiac disco – bonsound CC

17. sampa the great – as above so below – loma vista

18. ron trent presents warm – what do the stars say to you – night time stories

19. steve lacy – gemini rights – rca

20. trombone shorty – lifted – blue note

21. kiwi jr – chopper sub pop

22. medicine singers – s/t – stone tapes/mothland

23. david rosenboom & sarah belle reid – nows – parma

24. diamond head – lightening to the head – silver lining

25. sunglaciers – subterannea – motherland CC

26. various – midnight rights: the b music of jean-pierre massiera – finders keepers

27. tess roby – ideas of space – ssurounds CC

28. ian william craig – music for magnesium 173 – fat cat

29. stefan christoff/lori goldston – punk equinox – dasa tapes CC*

30. various – griche la compilation – griche cc*

CKUT TOP 10 JAZZ, OCT 4, 2022:

1. thumbscrew – multicolored midnight – cuneiform

2. brûlez les meubles – tardif – tour de bras/circum disk ©

3. anteloper – pink dolphins – international anthem

4. kirk knuffke trio – gravity without airs – tao forms

5. steve lehman sélébéyone – xaybu: the unseen – pi recordings

6. janel leppin – ensemble volcanic ash – cuneiform

7. heroes are gang leaders – LeAutoRoiOgraphy – 577 music

8. nduduzo makhathini – in the spirit of ntu – blue note s.a.

9. james brandon lewis 4tet – molecular systematic music live – intakt

10.josh sinton – lacy’s book of practitioners: h – fip

Album Review: Of Montreal – Freewave Lucifer fck fck fck

By Ada Tur

The past two years have been difficult. The pandemic forced most of the world’s population into quarantine, which left many in a depressing isolation. Being without human contact resulted in a collective state of abysmal mental health, as well as trauma. This experience wasn’t any different for Of Montreal’s Kevin Barnes, who set out to compile their personal sentiments of the pandemic into the group’s newest album: “Freewave Lucifer fck fck fck”.

Barnes challenges listeners to interpret the album based on the emotions it invokes, rather than attempt to deconstruct their words anåd make meaning out of that. Similar to the surrealism of David Lynch’s films, the album could mean anything or everything; it’s up to the audience to decide what the 90’s disco hooks and stilted storytelling is intending to say.

The record takes on a plethora of despondent topics ranging from the death of two beloved characters in Barnes’ life (their mother and dog of 15 years), the switch from alcohol to marijuana and the sonic feelings of inebriation, the political atmosphere of the United States, and the general challenges of grief, trauma, and isolation that came with the pandemic. Barnes tried to semi-coherently express these themes with an added effort to sound a little more uplifting in a cathartic array of synthpop shimmers, keyboard runs, and guitar melodies.

Barnes also mentioned that they made a point to write just a little bit of the record every single day— and you can feel the layers of writing over and over in each song. The sets of phrases were arranged accordingly and came together, like magazine cutouts in a collage. The resulting piece became a swirling tornado of epiphanies, emotions, and expression.

Inevitably, with an album as exploratory and experimental as Of Montreal’s latest, there are going to be people who just don’t get it, and understandably so. It’s a daunting task to travel through Barnes’ musical journey and try to understand what is happening, especially without any context of the band and Barnes’ personal experiences throughout the pandemic. Nevertheless, for some the album is an endless, restless, masterful collage of shiny and symphonic instrumentalism and daringly ambitious storytelling. There is no doubt that what Barnes has created is truly a work of art. While many see a pile of detached puzzle pieces, the select few can appreciate the magically bizarre universe that “Freewave Lucifer” has crafted.

TOTAL ECLIPSE OF THE CHARTS ::: SEP 27, 2022

CKUT TOP 30, SEP 27, 2022:

1. charles stepney – step on step

2. thanya iyer – rest – top shelf CC*

3.dill the giant – weed man son delux – birthday cake CC

4.moth cock – whipped stream and other earthly delights – hausu mountain 
 
5. suzi analogue – infinite zones – disciples 

6. ron trent presents warm – what do the stars say to you – night time stories

7. minyeshu – netsa – arc music

8. thumbscrew – multicolored midnight – cuneiform

9. emeralds – solar bridge – ghostly

10.kaoru abe no future – another wrong way, again 路又走错一条 – presses precaires

11. reini b – venus ep – self

12. babba commandant  and the mandingo band – sonbonbela – sublime frequencies 

13.  taigenz – life a life – self CC*

14. stereolab – pulse of the early brain (switched on vol 5) – mute

15. various – pierre barouh and the savannah sound – wewantsounds

16.  lisa leblanc – chiac disco – bonsound CC

17. moten/lopez/cleaver – s/t – reading group records

18. sohlo – after love – self CC

19. steve lacy – gemini rights  – rca 

20. trombone shorty – lifted – blue note

21. kiwi jr – chopper sub pop

22. medicine singers – s/t – stone tapes/mothland 

23. david rosenboom & sarah belle reid – nows – parma

24. betty padgett – riding with the blues – self

25. sunglaciers – subterannea – motherland CC

26. various – midnight rights: the b music of jean-pierre massiera – finders keepers 

27. tess roby – ideas of space – ssurounds CC

28. ian william craig – music for magnesium 173 – fat cat

29. stefan christoff/lori goldston – punk equinox – dasa tapes CC* 

30.  various – griche la compilation – griche cc*

 
CKUT TOP 10 JAZZ, SEP 27, 2022

1.thumbscrew – multicolored midnight – cuneiform

2.brûlez les meubles – tardif – tour de bras/circum disk ©

3.anteloper – pink dolphins – international anthem

4.kirk knuffke trio – gravity without airs – tao forms

5. steve lehman sélébéyone – xaybu: the unseen – pi recordings

6. janel leppin – ensemble volcanic ash – cuneiform

7.heroes are gang leaders – LeAutoRoiOgraphy – 577 music

8.nduduzo makhathini – in the spirit of ntu – blue note s.a.

9.james brandon lewis 4tet – molecular systematic music live – intakt

10.josh sinton – lacy’s book of practitioners: h – fip