Monthly Archives: January 2016

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Album Review: The Besnard Lakes – A Coliseum Complex Museum

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It has been one week since The Besnard Lakes released their fifth LP, A Coliseum Complex Museum, a shorter album of only eight tracks named for a peculiar road sign spotted in Texas. Continuing their legacy of mixing prog and psych rock in their Montreal studio, this album is a reflection of the sextet’s usual sound. However, ACCM is proof of a new, more open Besnard Lakes, who have finally embraced their love for nature and the fantastical. The group’s name comes from Besnard Lake in Saskatchewan, which provides a spiritual, inspirational, and musical retreat.

The tracks reflect an emphasis on the outdoors and the occult, citing mythical creatures and phenomena (“The Bray Road Beast,” “Necronomicon”). The band explores themes reminiscent of other psych rock bands, such as Tame Impala and M83, with lush synth and keyboard backgrounds, accompanied by rocking drums and guitar riffs: “dreamy Beach House riding Led Zeppelin dynamics,” according to lead singer Jace Lasek. The vocals, provided by Lasek and his partner Olga Goreas, are purposefully androgynous, and include sweeping harmonies à la the Beach Boys.

A Coliseum Complex Museum opens with “The Bray Road Beast,” an ode to the cryptid roaming the Bray Road in rural Wisconsin. It is a true psych rock anthem, replete with hazy guitar melodies, shakers, stratospheric falsetto lyrics, and a great deal of reverb. The Plain Moon is a groovy and diverse track, with growling guitar riffs contrasted with full harmonies that alternately explodes into a lush garden of sounds and rhythms, harking back to 60’s-esque arrangements when the chorus hits. Necronomicon is arguably the “slowest” track; it is here that The Besnard Lakes have tapped on the brakes, diving into slow-wave themes, though continuing to maintain full choral effects for vocals.

The album ends with Tungsten 4: The Refugee, integrating the heavy-handed guitar with tight riffs as punctuation amidst a wavy synth background. The track is routinely hit with a dose of ripping guitar solos, setting it apart from the album’s preceding synth-based tracks. The second half of The Refugee is almost entirely guitar work, paying homage to Led Zeppelin in increasingly intense solos before fuzzing out; a rather abrupt end to a increasingly complex track.

A Coliseum Complex Museum may not hold too many new themes, but to fans of The Besnard Lakes and newcomers such as myself, the album does not disappoint. As the cover art foreshadows, the album is painted in a technicolor palette of sounds and rhythms: an organic amalgamation of organized chaos, and a wonderful experience for the listener.

Album released: January 22, 2016

-review by Juliana Van Amsterdam 

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Montreal Sessions Hand Over to Don’t Fall Collective

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Huge thank you to MagicPerm for a month’s worth of alt/synth pop/dream sounds, some awesome live performances, and many a monologue about the prophecy of a pigeon. (Did u know Mike Tyson is an enthusiastic pigeon keeper??).

The Montreal Sessions, our monthly artist-in-residency program, are back this February with Montreal based Don’t Fall Collective!!! The show will delve into compilation culture, zooming out on musical communities to highlight greater movements outside the scope of the individual artist. It will also be an open call for contributions to Don’t Fall Volume 3. Don’t forget to tune in Tuesdays from 3-5pm to check it all out!

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CKUT TOTAL ECLIPSE OF THE CHARTS::: January 26, 2016

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Hi friends,
Had a pretty big weekend over here: played some rad shows in Ottawa and Toronto, had a birthday, and zoomed back home on Sunday night just in time to see Big|Brave (above) and Sleep totally crush it in Montreal. Still kinda reeling! How was your week?

xo
joni

:::WHAT’S UP AT CKUT:::
Winds are howling, snow is falling, you probably have chunks of industrial salt in your boots… But fear not! We’ve got the perfect cure for your late January blues: hop on over to CKUT’s open mic Thursday January 28th @ ECOLE on the McGill campus as a part of our Thursdays (A)Live Series. Read your poetry, tell some jokes, bust out yr guitar and soak in all the talent that the McGill crew has to offer. The best part: this event is FREE, so regardless of whether you’re on a student budget or not you can come out and enjoy the night.

:::CHARTS:::
ckut top 30 – january 26, 2016
1. sheer agony – masterpiece – plastic factory CC *
2. perils – s/t – desire path CC *
3. oneohtrix point never – garden of delete – warp
4. nap eyes – thought rock fish scale – you’ve changed CC
5. chairs – drawn into mazes – kinnta CC * Continue reading

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Album Review: No Negative – The Good Never Comes

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The relationship between musicality and lyricism is a complex topic as music in itself is a product of expression free from the limitations of language.  With maximum self-expression in mind, some musicians are able to avoid words all together and convey their emotion through composition or improvisation.  On the other hand, certain songwriters use sound as a way of increasing the impact of their poetic ideas.  The lines can also be further blurred by the possibility of writing lyrics pertaining to a more instrumentally-centric work and the display of musical brilliance alongside a more poetic work.  The poetic musicality debate is a subject of conversation on No Negative’s December release, The Good Never Comes.  A product of the noise punk idiom, The Good Never Comes includes vocal work, however, at times the lyrics can be hard to understand resulting in a more textually important vocal presence.  Through their vague use of words and improvisational nature, No Negative are able to effectively display their emotions in a unique way that showcases both their way with words and ability to manipulate sound.

The unpredictable instrumental texture is accomplished through the lack of melodic hierarchy.  This is to say that rather than letting a single part of the ensemble stand out at moment, the whole group dictates the sound as one entity.  The crashing, dark chord progressions are matched by the high-intensity, melodic solo lines as the heavy drums barrel down on the listener in a moment of pure, unadulterated aggression free from the notion that any parts hold a higher significance than any others.  This notion is also the inspiration for the vocals which add another layer of melody to the muddy ensemble sound.  This whole idea provides for a conversational nature similar to the world of jazz.  In both realms, certain motivic ideas are repeated and, at times, the ensemble comes together to maintain some sense of unity, however, the spur-of-the-moment, human touches are prioritized.

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Album Review: Sheer Agony – Masterpiece

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For those who seek warmth from the punishing Montreal winter through tunes, look no further than Sheer Agony’s latest release, Masterpiece. The Montreal-based band provides a respite from the weather and a foil for the standard music scene of Montreal. Sheer Agony is a modern-day recreation of the 60s and 70s-era pop rock, replete with the sounds of The Kinks, The Soft Boys, and Elvis Costello. Frontman Jackson MacIntosh saturates the jangly guitar riffs and psychedelic synth rhythms with intellectually off-kilter ramblings, roaming from topics such as dating too many actresses (“Careers”) to the allure of a gin & tonic and drinking culture (“Fizzical Lime”). The songs are mostly two or three minutes, bouncing one after the other without pausing to take a breath.

Masterpiece begins with the jaunty “Anthony Ivy,” in which the singer has a lurid love affair with the titular character; the kooky, darker lyrics contrast with the bouncy instrumentals. Both “I Have A Dream” and “Tip of the Tail” echo the style of Costello, with almost Todd Rundgren-esque harmonies in the chorus of “I Have A Dream.” “Debonaires,” the album’s longest song at almost five minutes, discusses being in the company of wealthy and influential friends who live extravagant lives. The slow, pensive build-up in the beginning of the song reflects MacIntosh’s introspective lyrics, and the musical interlude showcases a wonderful integration of layered guitar work.

Masterpiece has a vintage quality to it that creates a timeless atmosphere, transporting the listener to the eccentric world inside MacIntosh’s mind through jangly 60’s guitar and psychedelic accents. Sheer Agony has fully embraced being the Montreal darlings of vintage pop rock, a title they rightfully deserve. Their approach and dedication to the craft is refreshing, a warm and whimsical getaway from the doldrums of everyday life.

Album released: October 15, 2015.

review by Juliana Van Amsterdam

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IF YOU GOT EARS with NEUROMODULATION – January 20th 2016

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This past Wednesday, Jan. 20th, the Montreal-based collective NEUROMODULATION continued their PROPAGATION residency at If You Got Ears.

The show opened with a dark and dance-worthy mix to set the tone, heavy beats and bittersweet synths flooding the speakers. Tracks from Person of Interest and J. Albert started things off. About 15 minutes in, a poignant dark synth-pop track by the band Body of Light swept in with feelings of longing, segueing into PROPAGATION’S opening dialogue. The composer/singer/poet Marie Davidson is introduced as the guest co-host.

A brief promo moment: PROPAGATION will be curating 2 events at La Vitrola on the 23rd and the 30th, catering to experimental, dark sounds and industrial with a dance music twist. 

Back to the music, with a mix featuring analog house from Pulpo aka Max Ravitz (“Patricia”) and Nik Dawson (“Bookworms”) collaborating on “Russian Torrent Versions”, as well as Pierrot Premier’s 1994 record “Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test”. Dreamfish, with their ambient techno album “Caviar” (1995),  played next. J. Albert from Exotic Dance records followed.

Marie Davidson came on air to play music from the 1998 film Blade (“Confusion” by New Order, Bloodbath Remix) and “Pantalon” by Kornel Kovacs. Amazing dance selections followed, including “Dancer” by Montreal’s Gino Soccio and Mike Murray’s “Dancing in the Dark” (Frank Knuckles mix).

Marie said that she was finishing her fourth album, which she describes as “existential techno.” She closed the show with Drew McDowall’s “Hypnotic Congress” off of his 2015 album “Collapse.”

Tune in next week from 12-2 to catch the next instalment!

written by Cyrenah Smith

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TOTAL ECLIPSE OF THE CHARTS::: January 19, 2016

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Hi folks,

Hope you’re all doing well + keeping warm today! It was a rad weekend ‘round these parts with a truly stellar edition of the CKUT-curated Art’s Birthday on Friday night, headlined by the excellent Avec le Soleil Sortant de sa Bouche. In proper birthday fashion I ate soooo much cake. I also got to hang with the cute lil dachshund (wanna see a photo? check last week’s charts!) and watch him frolic in the snow a whole bunch, so life pretty much rules. How was your weekend?

xo
joni

:::WHAT’S UP AT CKUT:::
Do you like noise? Harsh sounds, dark, freaky, straight outta the depths of a mechanized hell? We sure do, and if you’re anything like us then this month’s edition of IF YOU GOT EARS will be a real treat. Every Wednesday in January from 12-2pm, the NEUROMODULATION crew brings you prime cuts of dark wave, industrial, experimental electronics and much more. Not familiar with these dudes? They’re a Montréal based collective that have been kicking it since 2014. With their PROPAGATION residency they bring dialogue, performance and other forms of curation directly to your radio or laptop. Don’t miss out.

:::CHARTS:::
ckut top 30 – january 19, 2016
1. no negative – the good never comes – psychic handshake CC *
2. peaches – rub – i u she
3. v/a – senegal 70 – analog africa
4. perils – s/t – desire path CC *
5. qasim naqvi – preamble – nna tapes Continue reading

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Album Review: She-Devils – Self Titled EP

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Having a distinct sound is possibly the most important aspect of any musical project.  Falling into the monotony of guitar-punk bands across the internet can be avoided through the addition of more modern, electronic elements, however, this too can bring about issues in authenticity. It would be counterproductive to classify any sound not made directly by a human playing an instrument as inauthentic or cheap, but at the same time some balance must be achieved between the futuristic synthesizer/turntable sounds and the in-the-moment, human quality of music.  Another important aspect of a band’s individuality is its influences.  Contemporary bands oftentimes fall into the trap of borrowing from each other too much, which can lead to an overabundance of bands with the same set-up and sound. Montreal’s own She-Devils seem to have fixed this problem by combining a relatively predictable modern set-up with an unusual pallet of influence.  By fusing the modern, sample-based DJ sound with a vintage songwriting approach, the She-Devils have created a fresh, new sound that pushes forward into the realm of electronic music while also hearkening back to the psychedelic feel of the 1960s.

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MagicPerm Does the Montreal Sessions: January 12th 2016

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MagicPerm have been doing a helluva good job on their residency, and if you tuned in this Tuesday you’ll know that this week was no exception. For the uninformed, MagicPerm are a MTL based trio composed of Adam Finley,Sydney Lee, and Rachel Nam who deliver a range of alt/synth pop/dream sounds for all to enjoy. And lucky for us, they’ve agreed to host the Montreal Sessions for the month of January!

This weeks episode comprised of a hilariously deadpan monologue about a pigeons prophecy, some interactive listener games, a wide selection of delightful Canadian music, and the talented Alexia Avina featured in the studio for a live acoustic performance (you can check out her Bandcamp here, it is lovely). What i’m trying to say is that it was a fantastic time and you should defs check out our archives to take a listen to what these guys have been airing!

Don’t forget to tune in next Tuesday from 3-5pm to hear more magic(perm)~~

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Album Review – Illa J

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The Hip-Hop idiom tends to emphasize history.  Practically every rap show is going to feature the phrase “F*ck da police” and there are often shout outs to the likes of Tupac Shakur and the Notorious B.I.G. In interviews artists are almost always asked about the music of the late seventies to the turn of the century and the answer often times determines their credibility among listeners.  Sometimes the subject of history can be the source of controversy; last year Vince Staples received a lot of backlash after suggesting that Ms Lauren Hill was the only voice he cared about in the nineties.  Staples went on to make a decent point on the subject by tweeting, “Bet none of these [guys] arguing about “Hip hop history” are pushing college or education in general nearly as hard to our black youth.”  Staples certainly understands Hip-Hop today and his music is very good, however, I believe that Illa J has proven the importance of the past with the release of his self-titled album.  After hearing him speak at the Hip-Hop You Don’t Stop Conference (a CKUT co-presentation), it was clear that Illa J has a deep understanding of the roots of his art form and this knowledge certainly comes out in his songwriting.  His songs emulate the soul grooves of the likes of D’Angelo and Snoop Doggy Dog in a contemporary manner finding a splendid balance between old and new. Continue reading