Monthly Archives: October 2016

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If You Got Ears: A Picturesque Venus Transit

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A Picturesque Venus Transit (aka Danji Buck-Moore, mem. Slight and Anabasine) will take control of the CKUT’s mighty airwaves for all five of November’s freaky Wednesdays from the noon hour till 2pm, bringing through an array of funny friends and extreme experimentalists from the deepest darkest corners of Montreal’s strangest scenes. On top of that he’ll take deep dives through some of his favourite obscure and famous recordings, be it on microchip or dusty wax, culling brain-bending and mind-dripping sonics from each and every corner of our weird and wonderful lily pad known as spaceship Earth. Please do call in, wherever you are, we really do want to talk to you.

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Album Review: Sonic Avenues – Disconnector

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Disconnector is the fourth studio album by local band Sonic Avenues (comprised of Maxime Desharnais on guitar and vocals, Jamie Desjardins on bass, JC Niquet on drums, and Seb Godin on guitar). With this record, Sonic Avenues succeed in developing a tamer strain of punk-pop, ultimately resulting in a more mature sound than their previous efforts. Unlike its three predecessors, Disconnector’s novelty lies in its ability to fuse modern punk-pop with late ‘70s new wave.

Drawing from the band’s punk roots, hints of the Buzzcocks are interwoven throughout Disconnector’s patchwork. This is most evident in tracks “Future” and “Monotonic” where Desharnais’ voice channels the piercing vocals of both Howard Devoto and Pete Shelley. Moreover, the twangy instrumental in “Dancing in the Sun” emulates the shrill acidity of late ‘60s rock (think The Kinks’ “Till The End Of The Day”). However, it is in tracks “Burn Like Fire,” “Where No One Falls,” and “Defective” where the band plunges into the shimmering pool of ‘70s new wave and reveals the crux of their album’s experimentation. The opening riff in “Burn Like Fire” electrifies the listener with a melody reminiscent of The Strangler’s “No More Heroes.” In “Where No One Falls” the band interlaces its punk-pop style with a trifecta of Devo, Gary Numan, and The Cars. Moreover, Sonic Avenues’ “Defective,” with its in Devo-esque overtones (think “Gut Feeling/(Slap Your Mammy)”), is a fiery concoction of new wave with a tinge of punk that could effortlessly slip into the soundtrack of any given Wes Anderson film.

Owing to Sonic Avenues’ unprecedented decision to incorporate lighter new wave with its usual mix of punk-pop, the band’s fourth studio album lacks their previous angst and unruliness. Nonetheless, if you’re in search for an easy listen with lots of hooks and a dash of new wave nostalgia to complement your sunny Saturday afternoon, then give Disconnector a listen.

– Review by Soraya Mamiche Afara

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Album Review: American Football (LP2)

AF_2016_LP_Jacket_PRINT.inddYou might be under the assumption that after seventeen years, certain aspects of a band would have changed so fundamentally that the sound is no longer prevalent – or in some cases, even relevant – in this day and age. With the much anticipated release of emo darling American Football’s second self-titled LP, colloquially known as LP2, the question on anyone’s mind is: how could these low-fi leaders of the Midwest emo scene, now approaching middle-age, deliver the same je ne sais quois melancholia reflected in the average twentysomething?

Overall, our fears have been assuaged. American Football’s lead singer Mike Kinsella has taken the care to keep the overall theme of the band crystallized in time, with messages successfully delivering the old emo nostalgia they so masterfully perfected at the turn of the millennium. Kinsella’s lyrics remain fatalistic in meaning and poetic in delivery, and are peppered with ruminations on the passage of time. The instrumental accompaniments are still as ambient and intricate as they were nearly two decades ago, albeit more produced and expanded with the help a full back-up band. American Football remains a fan of discordant time signatures, with guitar riffs and drum sets cleverly syncopated in rhythmic harmony to create a constant, moving ebb and flow underneath Kinsella’s vocals. 

Kinsella’s voice has aged like a good oak table, becoming more weathered and smooth as the years have passed. It remains a sturdy and present force amidst the swirling guitar, bass, and drums. However, his vocals stand at the forefront of tracks as compared to the last album, where he had a tendency to submerge himself in the instrumentals and resurface for clarity and emphasis. You won’t find any tracks along the lines of LP1’s “Honestly?” here; Kinsella has made the full transition into “frontman” after years performing as his solo act, Owen. 

The album begins quietly with “Where Are We Now?,” as if waking from a dream; chime-like electric guitar pickings precede Kinsella’s quiet “Where are we now?”. It is a subtle nod to the years that have passed since he last assumed the American Football mantle, and the song itself feels like shrugging on an old, well-loved jacket. American Football plays around with syncopation in “My Instincts Are The Enemy,” with choppy guitar and drum melodies acting as an introduction for Kinsella’s vocals, which alternate between his signature plaintive cry with soft falsetto. “I’ve Been Lost For So Long,” the first single released by the band, is a bleeding-heart track begging to be performed in front of an audience. It’s a new switch compared to the “old” American Football; most tracks on LP1 are contemplative and wandering, while this tightly produced track expertly fields a strong drum beat amongst layered guitar arpeggios. The syncopation returns for emphasis on the chorus. “Give Me The Gun” is an active track that also strays from the meandering ways of yore, focusing instead on projecting an atmosphere of constant fluid movement; guitars and drums are heavily layered.

The album art from American Football’s LP1 features the plain exterior of a lit house at night, providing an accurate air of isolation and late-night contemplation. Compare the LP2 album art, which features not the outside but the inside of a nameless house, with the viewer’s vantage point set on an open door bathed in a morning glow. The subtle contrast provides a glaring thematic message: the outside façade may have not changed much, but the core entity now lends an entirely different view, and a hopeful one at that. While this may be the last we hear from American Football for the foreseeable future, the impact that these lost boys – now grown –  have had on countless other lost listeners will continue to stand on solid foundations.

Album released: October 21, 2016

review by Juliana Van Amsterdam 

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CKUT TOTAL ECLIPSE OF THE CHARTS::: October 25, 2016

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Hi friends – keeping this real short w/ just a top 30 this week as we are in the midst of our annual funding drive and also running a super big, super important existence referendum. Fun week! If you are a McGill student, please be sure to vote YES to keep CKUT alive – polling ends Wednesday at 5pm and we still need to reach quorum, so the time is now.

For those of you who aren’t McGill students but still <3 CKUT, consider supporting us through our funding drive! We have tons of amazing prizes to make it extra worthwhile for you. Come say hi at one of our events or donate online here. Never forget – CKUT loves you!

xo
joni

:::CHARTS:::
ckut top 30 – october 25, 2016

1. tanya tagaq – retribution – six shooter CC
2. ylangylang – life without structure – self-released CC *
3. strange froots – blossom this froot for thought – self-released/CJLO CC *
4. weyes blood – front row seat to earth – mexican summer
5. mars – mars archives volume two: 11,000 volts to tunnel – feeding tube Continue reading

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Very Special NEW SHIT!

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It’s funding drive o’clock! Tune in today at 3pm to 90.3 CKUT for an extra awesome edition of New Shit: we’ll have LIVE performances by Un Blonde and Clear Spot as well as an interview and guest DJ set from Drainolith.
You know what might even be better than New Shit?
PRIZES!!
For the first few lucky donors of $25 and up, we have packs featuring a cornucopia of releases from independent Montreal label Fixture Records, cassettes from Egg Paper Factory, and a bunch a vinyl goodies from Constellation Records. Those who call early can take their pick of the packs below.

Fixture Records Pack
Phern – Pause Clope flexi 7″

The Submissives – Do You Really Love Me? cassette
Brave Radar – Lion Head LP
Jef Elise Barbara – Sexe Machin / Sex Machine 7″
Lantern – Black Highways and Green Garden Roads cassette
Fixture Records compilation #4 CD

Egg Paper Pack (all cassette)
Gretchen – Oblique Contours
Whitney K – Pony
Inland Island – Zsa Zsa’s Window Opens Slowly
The Painters – Specks of Dust
Family Band – Family Band ’15
…and super cool Egg Paper stickers and a pin!
Vinyl Pack #1 – CLAIMED
Ought – More Than Any Other Day
Colin Stetson and Sarah Neufield – Never Were The Way She Was
Vinyl Pack #2 – CLAIMED
Automatisme – Momentform Accumulations
Jason Sharp – A Boat Upon Its Blood
Vinyl Pack #3 – CLAIMED
Jerusalem In My Heart – If He Dies, If If If If If If
Off World – 1
Vinyl Pack #4
Ought – Sun Coming Down
Drainolith – Hysteria (+ bonus patch!)
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Concert review: Whitney @ Bar Le Ritz P.D.B., October 14/16

 

10-WHITNEY-021816-LauraHarvey_1107_739This past Friday, Chicago-based group Whitney played Bar Le Ritz to a packed house. They’re one of the surprise breakout bands of 2016 and have gained a considerable amount of momentum since they released their first single in mid-2015. The songwriting duo of Max Kakacek (Smith Westerns) and Julien Ehrlich (Unknown Mortal Orchestra) have created a rich sound with their seven-person ensemble. They’ve been compared to a multitude of different artists, from Neil Young to Marc Bolan, and they successfully mix a variety of genres while maintaining a distinctly late ‘60s/early‘70s vibe. They stopped by Montreal while touring their debut album, Light Upon the Lake. The record combines Americana-style country twang and down-on-your-luck lyrics with layered vocal harmonies, soulful organ, and extensive trumpet arrangements. It’s these retro tropes that, at least for me, fix the band’s romantic and melancholic themes far off in the past.

Kakacek and Ehrlich have been quoted in interviews as saying they started writing songs under the guise of “some old-ass dude” – specifically pointing to John Denver – and this comes through clearly in their beautifully lovesick lyrics. The group’s melancholic melodies feel as if they could have been written by the pseudonymous cabin-dweller. However, the songs have been deftly penned to evoke a variety of feelings and responses from their audience, not only nostalgia and longing.

Throughout their set, they seemed perfectly at home at Bar Le Ritz with its retro-inspired decor. They stood still with their eyes on their instruments as they open the show with “Dave’s Song.” This track echoes Nashville Skyline-era Dylan, although the band’s guitar riffs seemed far removed from a lazy Tennessee porch on the cold fall night in Montreal. By the second song, “No Matter Where We Go,” the sold-out crowd started pushing against each other and grooving along.

Whitney fed off the rowdy energy of the packed house and seemed very comfortable with their sudden fame. After singing “Polly” in his high and lonesome falsetto, Ehrlich got up, walked over to his writing partner and planted a big kiss on Kakacek, eliciting loud cheers from the spectators. Apparently, this has become something of a tradition on the road. The gangly and grungy crew, in their oversized plaid shirts and hunting camo jackets, are very much in the honeymoon stage of their success and had the dynamic of a family road trip in their live show. This energy will help push them through the long tour ahead for Light Upon the Lake. After a couple more dates in North America this week they’re off to Europe and the U.K. in November.

Building on the enthusiasm found within their original material, the band even took a shot at covering Bob Dylan’s “Tonight I’ll Be Staying Here With You.” Albeit a bit of a messy attempt, the ode to the recent Nobel Prize Laureate was much appreciated by the crowd of millennials. And the feeling was reciprocal — by the time they announced their second to last song, Ehrlich had thanked the crowd several times for being considerably more welcoming than those in his native Portland. He even noted that it was the first time they’ve had a crowd sing along to “Wish You Were My Friend.”

As they closed out the night with a loose rendition of their single “No Woman,” which Ehrlich dryly describes as, “a song about having a girlfriend and then not,” the energy in the room was just as palpable as when they first got on stage. Even the nominally lonesome break-up song didn’t stop the crowd from swaying from side-to-side and singing along happily.

Whitney was eager to give back to the crowd, rewarding the room with multiple encores and feeding off the buzzing energy levels. One of those encores was the title track, “Light Upon the Lake.” For me, it was the highlight of the night: the band was entirely in sync, matching the vocal harmonies and guitar melodies in perfect timing. They were in top form.

After a long night, they happily mingled with the audience on Jean-Talon in the refreshingly chilly night air. Over the course of the night, Whitney won over the crowd and added Montreal to their long list of admirers. No one will smirk now when they go back to Chicago and say they have a Canadian bff — here’s hoping they’ll come back and visit us again soon.

– Review by Derek Colley

Glamour Nails

Album Review: Glamour Nails – s/t

Glamour Nails

The notion of texturally advanced improvised music is strong in Canada. Beginning with the likes of Jean Derome, Joane Hétu, and Le Quatuor de Jazz Libre du Québec, Quebec’s musiques actuelles movement forged an original sound out of the ideology of blues and swing, with a wide array of different sound effects and instrumental technics entering the mix. Today, improvising musicians of all ages continue to explore sonic landscapes in many different ways with texture guiding aesthetic choices. Although based outside of Quebec, the duo of Lina Allemano and Justin Haynes certainly pay respect to musique actuelles on their self-titled debut album. Billed as an off-the-cuff improvising session, the quick-hitting work thrives on drastic change with Haynes’ quirky sound choices backing the many faces of Allemano’s trumpet playing.

“Tawny Owl” kicks off the album with some relatively straightforward improvising. Haynes provides a circulating guitar groove with unique, scratchy effect, giving space for Allemano to introduce the project with sketches of melodic ideas. At less than one minute in length, the second song, “Tit Riot,” doesn’t define itself as one of the album’s standalone tracksk; however, the static drones that infect it set off a chain of tunes that delve into barren wastelands with harsh experiments keeping the listener on edge. The dramatic space of “Lente” is contrasted by brash dissonance of “Gel.” Both tracks also feature Allemano playing quick, punching notes on trumpet, adding to the unease. “nosex” continues the storm with breathy trumpet styling juxtaposed by screaming distortion over top of rambling electronic bass lines. On the second half of the record, Allemano’s fuzzy techniques complement Haynes’ percussive tin can interpretations before playful sketches end off the album on a rather unresolved note.

The album’s sound hinges somewhat on aesthetic change and contrast, but through Allemano’s melodic development and Haynes’ balance of soundscape structure and countermelody the duo avoids gimmicks and accomplishes a high level of musicality. Allemano is especially gifted at building upon minimalist ideas. On “Lente,” a fluttering breath technique becomes central to the track. Allemano branches out with quiet phrasing and various high notes, but the main idea continuously returns and gives the piece a sense of identity. Haynes constantly backs her up on prepared piano, first opening up the playing space with sparing drones, but slowly picking up the pace to match Allemano’s quick lines. The strength in communication also shines on “Stylus,” where the players find unity in matching textures. Allemano’s quasi-distortion trumpet technique sits quite nicely within Haynes’ eclectic percussive sounds and despite lacking a formal melodic delivery, the fuzzy overall sound follows a general progression of intensity.

The urgency at which the album passes by raises questions. Most improvised musicians have a tendency to favor sprawling pieces with seemingly endless supplies of space, but this album is much more condensed, resulting in positive and negative consequences. On one hand, the album follows an interesting sound progression and the quick-witted phrasing doesn’t linger for too long. The musicians also seem to try and take advantage of every moment of each track, more than they may have if they were intending on filling a longer period of time. Of course, the shortness of each track can squash developments. The album sits at a rather quite volume level and the two final tracks on the album last less than two minutes and seem to cut off a bit awkwardly. I would argue that the idea of fast developments is positive, but a bit more space may yield more resolution on their next effort.

Glamour Nails feels fresh. Their unique sound and approach to album making stand out in a densely populated musical idiom. Also, both players display a real talent for musical development and texture. Admittedly the ending is a bit abrupt and certain choices, although unique, feel unfinished, but the work leaves a lasting impression and showcases a lot of potential in the duo.

– Review by Donovan Burtan

 

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CKUT TOTAL ECLIPSE OF THE CHARTS::: October 18, 2016

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Hello radio,

We’re gearing up for our annual funding drive! You know that means: we’re running around like crazy organizing events, hustling up sweet prizes, and making sure the whole world knows how truly kickass CKUT is. Wanna learn more about the funding drive or show us some love? Hit up our funding website for all the details.

xo
joni

:::WHAT’S UP AT CKUT:::
FUNDING DRIVE! That’s what’s up, of course. We’re reaching out to our listeners and asking for support to help us continue broadcasting the most boundary-pushing, trailblazing content in Montreal and beyond. From our award-winning spoken word and news coverage to our die-hard support of local music, we’re not afraid to take risks and we wanna keep this trend going for many years to come. We’ve helped launch the careers of countless Montreal artists (shoutout to our buddies Grimes andOught, who think CKUT is “the best place on earth“) and we’re consistently voted asthe city’s #1 radio station. Need another reason to help keep CKUT alive? Check out our amazing merch goodies. It all kicks off this Thursday at noon and we want you on board for the ride — LET’S MAKE IT HAPPEN!

:::CHARTS:::
ckut top 30 – october 18, 2016

1. weyes blood – front row seat to earth – mexican summer
2. v/a – no. 2 – oh hi CC *
3. a tribe called red – we are the halluci nation – radicalized records CC
4. the luyas – says you – paper bag CC *
5. bon iver – 22, a million – jagjaguwar Continue reading

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CKUT Referendum 2016: VOTE YES

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Autumn is officially here, which means it’s time to delve into some yearly existentialism. The question that will be on McGill students’ minds from October 21-26 is this: should CKUT 90.3 FM exist? 

Heavy.

If you’re a McGill student and are scratching your head as to why this question is even being posed, here’s a little history lesson that might prove educational. While CKUT was formed as “Radio McGill” in the 1940s, it became a fully-licensed FM station in 1987. The following year, a successful referendum allowed CKUT to be funded by a student fee levy, which basically means that a small part of your tuition is helping us put out cool vibes to the McGill campus and city of Montreal every day, year-round. In 2007, McGill announced that all student fees had to have an “expiration date” every 5 years. The student fee dedicated to CKUT makes up 54% of our funding, and as a non-profit station we would no longer be able to exist should you decide to vote NO.

You, as a thrifty and intelligent McGill student, might also be wondering why in the world you would ever need CKUT’s services; after all, we’re just a radio station, right?

Well… not quite. Here are examples of the many other services that we provide at 3647 Rue University: journalism school (which, by the way, McGill University does not provide) for those interested in honing interview skills or writing for the radio, sound engineering and DJ tutorials, and access to our extensive music library of over 78,000 physical releases.

As a paying member of CKUT, you have the power to vote at our Annual General Meeting. Students who volunteer for CKUT are included in many, if not all, government and administrative decisions and are allowed to participate on our governing committees. CKUT bridges the McGill and Montreal communities by providing conferences, panels, and concerts for a wide variety of charitable and educational outreach opportunities. We have been voted #1 Radio Station for Cult MTL’s Best of Montreal poll. Our membership base consists of over 300 student and community volunteers helping to bring you the best of alternative and cultural radio on a 24/7 basis.

If you’re still undecided about us, see here for a more detailed explanation of why CKUT 90.3 FM matters to both McGill and Montreal. Voting is super convenient, too: if you have access to a computer and basic wifi, you can click the “YES” button to keep us in business. Existential crisis averted.

VOTE “YES” TO KEEP CKUT ALIVE BETWEEN OCTOBER 21-26!!!!!

All the cool kids are doing it.

-PSA brought to you by Juliana Van Amsterdam 

pang attack

Album Review: Pang Attack – North Country Psychic Girls

 

pang attackNorth Country Psychic Girls is the first LP by local band Pang Attack (comprised of David Clark on bass and keys, Yann Geoffrey on drums, and Alex Hackett on guitar and vocals). The title’s ambiguity perpetuates a fuzziness that is befitting to the album’s overall sound. For roughly 35 minutes, the album spawns a dynamic dream sequence that captivates the listener despite its incongruity. Although bound by the common thread of shoegaze and psych-pop, each track distinguishes itself from the rest by placing the listener in a different setting. In other words, the band escorts the listener on a trip through a boundless mind (as pictured on the album’s cover) with each song acting as a different turn on the way.

The journey commences in “Monk Song” with a synth-based opening akin to 1960s spaceship noises. In seconds the semi-galactic beat transforms into a twangy tune laden with spaghetti western undertones. In a matter of minutes, we, the listeners, are swept up from wandering through a desert on horseback and reeled into “Stranger’s Song” where the trio, now accompanied by Erik Hove on sax and the Kate Maloney String Quartet, devise a sound reminiscent of The Smiths. Hackett’s voice, although not as whiny as Morrissey’s, harnesses a similar charisma which he maintains throughout the album. Soon another turn is made with “Frailty Revisited” where we’re drawn into a dimly lit room for a lovesick slow dance while cradled by an understated instrumental. Nonetheless, when this contemplative soirée comes to a close, we’re met by the haunting “Invaded Heart” bearing similarities in both sound and poetics to Billy Bragg and Wilco’s “Blood of the Lamb.” Then, with the summoning of trumpets, we’re consumed by the whimsical “North Country Psychic Girl.” In this dream pop gem, Hackett’s magnetic Moz-esque voice reveals nuances of that of Arctic Monkeys singer Alex Turner. With another sudden shift, Pang Attack plunge into “Mr. Mandible” where they foster a more recognizable blend of indie rock, channeling the likes of Kurt Vile and The War on Drugs. However, once the rendezvous with “Mr. Mandible” is complete, we’re beckoned by the melancholic “Hope Nights” to a lovelorn dive alike the one in “Frailty Revisited.” Here we’re entranced by a melody remindful of Pink Floyd’s “Brain Damage.” Although most likely a far stretch, the Pink Floyd reference acts as a sort of prelude to the finishing track “Time and Dementia.” Enveloped by a fuzzy calm, we wake up from our trance and digest the hypnotic journey until we’re shown to the exit by dissonant synths and strings.

Clark, Geoffrey, and Hackett, with the help of numerous contributors, conceived an album both labyrinthine in design and nostalgic in sound. Due to the album’s complexity and variability, each track elicits a unique palette of emotions and conjures an entirely different spectrum of thoughts. Therefore, if one hankers a trip down the rabbit hole of sentimental bizarreness, then a listen to Pang Attack’s North Country Psychic Girls is recommended.

– Review by Soraya Mamiche Afara