Album Review: Grimes – Art Angels

Grimes_-_Art_AngelsClaire Boucher, more famously known as Grimes, is a well-known name around CKUT 90.3 FM: she was an intern here years ago while studying neuroscience at McGill University, and got her start in the music world right here in Montreal. Her fourth studio album, Art Angels, emphasizes her self-described “ADD music,” bouncing around erratically between different musical styles under the nebulous umbrella of art pop. She continues to rely heavily on looping effects and layering, and utilizes her voice to it’s full potential, manipulating it with effects and in the next breath singing earnestly with the mature voice of a seasoned female artist.

The album in entirety is a dizzying experience, a roller-coaster of sound and effects shifting wildly from experimental electronica to Kimbra-esque summer pop, replete with lush melodies and full, intricate layers. All the while, Boucher’s falsetto floats lightly above the instrumentals, weaving in and out of the music. Art Angels is never disjointed; the tracks flow easily and fast, maintaining an intense pace and constantly engaging the listener to pay closer attention. The album is either a synesthete’s paradise or worst nightmare: the melodies and mixes produce technicolor visions at highway speeds, rarely slowing down save for a few well-placed tracks.

Art Angels opens with “Laughing and Not Being Normal,” a short experimental track that sets the tone for the album, incorporating different genres within a space of two minutes. The track ends in cacophony but leads right into the peppy electro-pop number “California.” For this track it is impossible not to bounce around; while not particularly a new sound, it is insanely catchy and well-engineered, pulling the listener into the lush jungle of the next twelve tracks. The third track is a wild departure from the previous songs; it features heavy guitar, aggressive drums, and rabid breathing and screaming provided by Boucher punctuates the rapid-fire Mandarin vocals whispered by Taiwanese artist Aristophanes.

After this the album begins a cycle of poppy electronic beats with high vocals mixed with darker, more experimental sounds. Following the trail blazed by “California, tracks such as “Flesh Without Blood,” “Belly of the Beat,” the title track “Artangels,” “Pin,” and the closer “Butterfly” retain the art pop formula, with minor variations and idiosyncrasies. Grimes shows her mastery of song engineering and production in these tracks, but the real experimental air that began at her roots is demonstrated in other tracks.

Take “Kill vs. Maim,” a track that melds seamlessly together while bouncing from 2000-era indie pop to light grunge; Boucher sings earnestly and without any voice manipulation one minute, then raises her voice electronically several octaves to an earsplitting falsetto in the next. Lightning-bolt claps of synth and electronic instruments add depth and variety to this wild, fast-paced track. “Easily” starts slowly with simple piano, pushing Boucher’s voice to the forefront, sans vocal manipulation. As a slow drum beat, reverb, and pedal-loop effects are introduced gradually, the track blooms into a lush sound garden, experimenting with layers and soundscapes. Finally, “Venus Fly,” which features the talented artist Janelle Monáe, is a punchy and powerful track that incorporates electronic and house beats with whimsical lyrics, demonstrating masterful mixing and production on the part of Boucher.

Overall, Art Angels demonstrates that Grimes is far from her point of peaking. Her innovation, will to experiment and incorporate many genres of music, and passion for the craft continues to shine, and she clearly put work into this album, hardly resting on her laurels from 2012’s Visions. It’s certainly refreshing to see a young artist’s creative spirit so prominently in their music, and I hope to see this trend continue as Grimes continues to pursue her passion.

-Review by Juliana Van Amsterdam 

Montreal Sessions with Craig Pedersen: November 24th 2015

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Trumpet extraordinaire Craig Pedersen was in our studios for the last time this week for his November instalment of The Montreal Sessions, which airs every Tuesday from 3-5pm. This month was all about playing recordings from artists who inspired Craig, and inviting special guests for live jams and discussions on interesting musical topics. This week featured recordings from Ryuichi Sakamoto, Joelle Leandre, Bill Dixon, Otomo Yoshihide, Pauline Oliveros and more. On top of that, saxophonist Philippe Lauzier and flautist Cléo Palacio-Quintin featured as guests on the show for some great performances that are well worth a listen.

If you missed any of the episodes this month, fear not! You can find them all on our archives. As for December, tune in this coming Tuesday as Jilted X take over the show with some fantastic experimental/mallgoth sounds~~



Hi friends,
Well, it finally snowed today for the first time all year. Time to hibernate till April!

You checked out the CKUT music blog lately? No? Well, listen up: there’s a whole ton of rad new shit up there, and you would be remiss to pass it by. Find out firsthand what the wise folks of CKUT had to say about prog legends King Crimson live, the latest jazz offering from Harris Eisenstadt, New Order’s comeback album, and much more. Find it all right here!

ckut top 30 – november 24, 2015
1. jerusalem in my heart – if he dies, if if if if if if – constellation CC *
2. chairs – drawn into mazes – kinnta CC *
3. katie moore – fooled by the fun – club roll CC *
4. shalabi effect – floating garden – self-released CC *
5. esmerine – lost voices – constellation CC * Continue reading

Concert Review: King Crimson @ Theatre St-Denis



There was an air of the unreal about my being at a King Crimson concert at all. Everything about the show was big … it was a big venue, it had big publicity, and it had very big ticket prices (starting at $73 – hard to call them the ‘cheap seats’!) … I’d asked the CKUT music coordinator to try to get me on the guest list almost as a joke, and she’d confessed it seemed highly unlikely. In fact the request had been turned down, but then the publicist had called back and offered a pass after all! Faith for the faithless.

My own relationship with King Crimson had been via the late 70s, stripped-down ‘new wave’ Robert Fripp, when he’d shaved off his hippie locks and shed the flares and the fringed jackets, and reinvented himself as a solo performer. He’d disbanded King Crimson in 1974. As he wrote in the liner notes of his 1980 solo LP God Save The Queen / Under Heavy Manners, “on a professional level this was largely a result of the decreasing possibility for any real contact between audience and performers. This seemed to me to be caused by three main factors: firstly, the escalation in the size of rock events; secondly, the general acceptance of rock music as spectator sport; thirdly, the vampiric relationship between audience and performer.” Continue reading

Album Review: After Funk – ‘Til the Sun Comes Up


When I first heard Yanik Allwood’s voice I was pleasantly surprised.  The first song on After Funk’s new album ‘Til The Sun Comes Up begins in semi-typical funk album fashion sporting a phat bass line, and dancing horn melody and as the song progresses I’m expecting more splendid regularity, but then this beautifully subtle soul voice comes out of nowhere and immediately captures my attention.  This moment somewhat summarizes the feeling evoked by the band. After Funk creates funk music in a way that both harkens back to the greats and calls for motion into the future expertly navigating the familiar and new resulting in an intriguing voice in the funk idiom. Continue reading

If You Got Ears: Small Scale Music 11/18/15


Yesterday’s If You Got Ears was again hosted by the wonderful Raphael Foisy for Small Scale Music, and this time he was joined by French native Émilie Mouchous, a sound artist based in Montreal who creates her own instruments. She has hosted special programs here at CKUT since 2008, collaborating with Andrea-Jane Cornell on multiple occasions. During this show she co-hosted If You Got Ears to bring Montreal some pretty cool sounds and rhythms.

Émilie Mouchous explores sound through radiophonics, homemade electronic instruments, and improvisation. She incorporates vocals, web art, formal sound, and movement into shared sound spaces. Her work is highly praised and has been featured at festivals around the world, such as BENT Festival NY, Kunstradio in Vienna, Radio LX festival de arte radio in Lisbon, and Suoni per il popolo, AKOUSMA, and Mutek here in Montreal.

Tune into If You Got Ears on Wednesdays from 12-2 pm for more!

Album Review: Caveboy – Caveboy EP


Musical trio Caveboy, formerly known as Diamond Bones, have recently released their first EP. This self-titled work is the first release the band has made beyond a few singles. The three members, Michelle Bensimon (Lead Vocals, Guitar, Synth), Isabelle Banos (Synth, Bass, Backing Vocals) and Lana Cooney (Drums, Backing Vocals) grew up together and formed this band from their hometown of Montreal.

The album starts off very upbeat, almost dancey in tone, with especially strong base parts underlying them. Later songs take on a more haunting theme, produced though a slower pace and more heavily relying on percussion, seen especially in Love Song. The album shies away from being considered electronic music with its structured instrumentation and lyricism.

The band sites Fleetwood Mac, Beach House, Grizzly Bear, and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs as their  influences. Their musical style can also be compared to Passion Pit and Twenty-One Pilots in terms of their use of electronic beats and instrumentation. The balance Caveboy finds between a synthetic feel and a focus on lyricism creates a unique tone that marks this band as one to keep an eye on.


Recommended tracks: 1) Something Like Summer   2) Love Song   3) Home Is Where


Review by Courtney Paolicchi

Album Review: Harris Eisenstadt – Canada Day IV

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The concept of creating something natural sounding is made especially hard when progressive songwriting and virtuosic instrumental playing come into play.  Progressive artists are often led down a path leading to a world of mathematical problems in place of beautiful sound and often the music loses its original purpose.  What makes Harris Eisenstadt’s Canada Day IV special is the way in which his compositions incorporate progressive songwriting techniques while maintaining a beautiful overall sound accessible to the average listener.  Songwriting ideas such as odd meter, dynamic texture, and free playing have been bathed in subtlety and are presented in a fresh, interesting way that never becomes obnoxious or excessive.

Continue reading

Concert Review: Local Natives @ MRCY Fest


In its second year running, MRCY FEST really outdid itself this September with headlining acts like Local Natives and Alabama Shakes. Seeing LA-based psych folk/indie rock band Local Natives was definitely a highlight for me. They brought back a whole wave of nostalgia for the early 2010s and the clean-cut, geeky band aesthetic. Their sound embodies the pinnacle of the repopularisation of harmonic indie rock after the grunge and fanzine craze of the ’90s; in the words of Pitchfork, they’re “sort of a West Coast Grizzly Bear.”

For their recent Montreal gig, they kicked off their set on a high note with the hit “Breakers” from their 2013 LP Hummingbird.  Catchy three-part ‘ooouh-ouuuh’ harmonies and double-tempo drumming meshed well with the introspective lyrics. They also played tracks from their debut album Gorilla Manor, like “Wide Eyes”, “Airplanes” and “Camera Talk”, which stood out with its Afro-pop tinged guitar chords.

Local Natives also teased us with a couple songs of their upcoming album, riveting the crowd with their fun melodies and keeping us in anticipation of their official launch. Guitarists Ryan Hahn and Taylor Rice and keyboardist Kelcey Ayer’s melancholic vocals blend together exceptionally well, and this layered smoothness is probably one of the strongest aspects of their sound.

Their set was long but they maintained their high energy throughout the performance, which only confirmed my opinion of them as talented musicians and solid performers. MRCY FEST, bring them back in 2016?

– Review and photo by Jess Newfield




Hi radio,

This weekend, I balanced doing some very responsible adult things like sealing up my windows for the winter with going totally nuts at the Shining Wizard w/ Grace Brooks & James Goddard album launch. Have you heard this collab? I’m biased cuz this crew is all friends, but seriously, it’s soooo good. Treat your ears.


ckut top 30 – november 17, 2015
1. u.s. girls – half free – 4AD CC
2. esmerine – lost voices – constellation CC *
3. shamir – ratchet – xl
4. jerusalem in my heart – if he dies, if if if if if if – constellation CC *
5. l’appel du vide – mergin’ spaces – self-released CC * Continue reading