Monthly Archives: February 2017



Hey everyone,
It’s a busy time around here as we gear up for the annual Homelessness Marathon at CKUT… In addition to that, I’ve got a couple other projects on the go that are keeping me on my toes this week. Hectic times like these call for extra coffee – I’ve downed three cups so far this morning and am already needing more.

Tomorrow marks the 15th annual Homelessness Marathon: a yearly overnight coast to coast radio broadcast to raise awareness of homelessness and the issues that contribute to it. This broadcast started a decade and a half ago right here at CKUT and has grown to be a full-on, national initiative produced collaboratively by a wide range of stations across Canada. Rather than a traditional monetary fundraiser, the Marathon aims to raise awareness about housing issues and give a platform for those impacted to share their stories. Stream the whole thing live at from5pm on February 22nd – 7am on February 23rd, and check out the Facebook event for more info on what you’ll hear during the broadcast.


ckut top 30 – february 21, 2017
1. the luyas – human voicing – paper bag CC *
2. tim darcy – saturday night – jagjaguwar CC *
3. avec le soleil sortant de sa bouche – pas pire pop, i love you so much – constellation CC *
4. tasseomancy – do easy – hand drawn dracula CC
5. homeshake – fresh air – sinderlyn CC * Continue reading

School’s Out: Pottery @ Bar Le Ritz P.D.B.


An excited hum filled Bar le Ritz PDB on Thursday night in anticipation of the first show from the newly-formed Montreal group, Pottery. I loitered with friends of the band around the stage, drinking beer and waiting to hear what Pottery was all about; with no music online and a week-old Facebook page, it was hard to know what to expect.

Around 10pm the quintet, two of whom are students, took the stage. Understandably for such a new project, there was equal nervousness and anticipation from the crowd as they launched into their set. The first tune started with a long vamped intro, slowly building on one chord until exploding into a soaring chorus. The whole room let out a deep breath – the band sounded tight and confident, and all the tension melted away as Pottery plowed through the rest of their set.

The songs were mostly upbeat rock numbers with some interesting influences of boudoir jazz, new wave, and a little country, resulting in a remarkably balanced sound overall. The rhythm section stayed steady and driving while the guitarists traded riffs back and forth over droning, rich synth chords. Austin, Pottery’s frontman, kept the stage banter minimal with the occasional brief song introduction and a few “thank yous” throughout the set. His stage presence, though, was a force to be reckoned with: his energy during the performance was contagious and his vocals, punctuated by some excited shouts and fun lyrics (something about Hank Williams doing speed?), had a similar effect. After half a dozen songs, the set finished off with a fast rock & roll number showcasing a sample of the riff, if I’m not mistaken, from Gary Numan’s “Cars.” Sick.

Short but sweet, the first show by Pottery was a great debut and an impressive start for a group that’s going places. Someone in the crowd told me they got asked to play another show right after their set, and given the strength of their debut performance it comes as little surprise. They’ve got a few more shows this spring that I highly recommend everyone check out, especially if you’ve got a taste for local bands on the rise.

– Review and photo by Nora Duffy


Album Review: The Luyas – Human Voicing


Human Voicing, the fourth album from Montreal band The Luyas, showcases the band’s ability to play off of the tension between the moody and the playful, the experimental and the structured. The atmospheric opening song, “Dream Time,” is a perfect start for this album that seems to exist in an otherworldly dimension. The band’s use of keyboards and horns give the album a brooding feel, but this darkness is nicely offset by Jessie Stein’s vocals. Although Stein’s range is somewhat limited, her voice has an ethereal, sing-songy quality that provides the songs with a lighter, dream-like tone.

But while Stein’s vocals may lack variation, the instrumentation rarely does. Most of the music in this album was generated through improvisation, which keeps it feeling spontaneous – the listener never quite knows where the Luyas are going to go next. The drums, meanwhile, keep the songs from losing form. The off-the-cuff feel of the drums on songs like “Dream in Time” and “Never Before” keep the album moving, preventing it from being dragged down by more straightforward songs like “No Domination” and “Beating Bowser.” Human Voicing feels like experienced musicians cutting loose and having a jam session, but the Luyas’ ability to put this improvisational sound into the structure of rock songs allows them to make entertaining songs without compromising their desire to experiment.  

Stein’s lyrics are enchanting, playful, and fractured, evoking freeform poems. The psychedelic imagery she paints makes the songs seem like they exist in some dream setting. However, underneath the psychedelia is a very real feeling of vulnerability. Many of the songs centre around the struggle of life as an artist. Stein sings about the fear of loss of artistic power (in “Beating Bowser” she wonders whether “our best work is still up ahead”) and about real concerns of how to support oneself as an artist (in “Self-Unemployed” she sings, “Trouble in the multiverse, when you don’t make money”). She sums up both of these concerns in “Fed to the Lions” by singing, “And all your dreams, your dream of flying, sucking my thumb, for food and shelter.” These lyrics show the tensions artists experience between creative pursuits and survival. This fear and emotional vulnerability give a focus to Human Voicing, grounding the psychedelic, dreamlike setting of the songs. In Human Voicing, The Luyas have created a multi-purpose album – perfect for dancing or contemplative listening, fun but never mindless.

– review by Ella Chatfield-Stiehler


Concert Review: Cate Le Bon @ Le Ritz P.D.B.


Hurrying into the dimly lit venue, I yanked my gloves off and prepared my wrist for the stamp of the week – tonight Cate Le Bon was playing at Bar Le Ritz. Stamped and ready to go, I squeezed through slivers of space amongst the crowd and made my way to the middle of the venue. Tim Presley’s set was over, and murmurs engulfed the room. However, once the back door began to creak open, a hush fell over the audience. Within seconds, Le Bon and her band, clad in black, appeared and swiftly made their way to the center of the stage. Le Bon then leaned into the mic and announced that Tim Presley would be joining them on drums. The original drummer was, unfortunately, unable to perform due to immigration issues. Nonetheless, with that, Presley, garbed and face-painted in bright white, made his way to the drums. Though divergent in terms of dress, Le Bon and her band, including Presley, were determined to beguile the crowd.

Amongst the variety of songs played throughout the night, the tracks off of Crab Day (Le Bon’s most recent LP) could be identified by their shrill twang harkening back to late ‘60s rock. Opening with “Crab Day,” the band shattered the silenced room with an electrifying guitar intro. A voltaic beat was set free, and the crowd succumbed immediately. Other Crab Day gems followed: with “Wonderful,” Le Bon and her band fused a distinct Kinks influence with the eccentricity of Roxy Music. This bizarre concoction left the crowd both enthralled and energized. With “Love Is Not Love,” the emphasis switched from instrumental to vocals. Le Bon’s sweet yet haunting voice seeped to every corner of the room, charming listeners on its way.

If the tracks off of Crab Day were bound by hints of the Kinks, then the tracks off of Rock Pool (Le Bon’s most recent EP) are welded by elements of the Velvet Underground and Nico. “Aside From Growing Old,” arguably my favorite track of the night, paired melancholic lyrics with an energized tune. At first, Le Bon’s soft and somewhat ghostly vocals, bearing traces of Nico, gently beckoned the audience; however, within moments, the tender melody shed its skin and unleashed Le Bon howling the ever-so relatable lines “What’s the problem, I’m losing my mind.” Moreover, with “I Just Wanna Be Good,” Le Bon’s heartfelt lyrics were at their peak. As the show progressed it became clear to me that the crux of Le Bon’s vocal allure is rooted in the genuine sentiment that comes through when she sings.

Nevertheless, the show’s inevitable end was fast approaching. Le Bon’s farewell – a soft-spoken “merci beaucoup” – was met by the howls of a happy crowd. Through her wistful and zany ways, Le Bon captivated her audience and once again, Bar Le Ritz hosted a lovely refuge from a numbing Montreal winter’s night.

– Review by Soraya Mamiche Afara

CKUT Presents: School’s Out!

The winter months in Montreal can be rough, especially in the era of climate change when the rapid fluctuations in temperature can seem almost worse than just a normal, unrelenting deep freeze. This year, I decided my course of action against the elements would be to take refuge in the amazingly diverse music scene that exists within the city. In particular, I wanted to focus on how students like me contribute to the music culture of Montreal. Who are they? What kind of stuff are they playing? Over the next few months, the School’s Out series is going to try to answer these questions and shed light on the talented students who are making waves in the city and beyond.


Released this past January, Space Race is the first LP from Montreal’s own The Sad Birthdays, a band made up of four guys who happen to be students. It’s a whole lot of good ol’ rock and roll, but also draws on influences so varied that it hard to pin down exactly what’s going on in a few adjectives. The low, droning vocals on some songs are definitely reminiscent of early ‘90s grunge, but the addition of melodic guitar riffs and steady four-on-the-floor drums sound more like something out of ‘70s classic rock. The band takes a stab at pinning their genre down on their Facebook page, describing themselves as “a grungy psychedelic baroque pop band,” which I’d say is a pretty good summary. What is clear is that these guys are coming up with stuff that is distinct and new but also irresistibly fun.

Some of the magic of Space Race comes from its unpredictability. At first listen, the classic catchy guitar riffs and steady driving rhythm section sets the listener up for a run-of-the-mill-four-guys-in-a-rock-band trope. But there’s more to it than that. In particular, the lyrics on songs like “RIO,” “Movies” and “Pantless” threw some curveballs into the mix that helped to reify the laid-back, cool vibe of the album. One line goes, “I’m pantless by the ocean/ I’m pantless by the pool/ My friends are all around me/ And they’re pantless, too”. Who can’t get behind a lyric that? Another surprising touch came from the song “Lie,” which showcases not only a really sweet vocal performance, but also a fantastic arrangement for trombone, flugelhorn, flute, and French horn.

The Sad Birthdays certainly hit the ground running with this one. Whether you love a good homage to classic rock without the same old tired tunes, appreciate some high quality sound production, or are just looking for a fun set of tracks by some local Montrealers, Space Race is a great album to hit all those bases.




Hi folks,
We got a ton of snow over the weekend and this dirty but cheerful snowman magically emerged in our backyard overnight. Not sure whether he’s the work of some creative overnight programmers or roving undergrads, but either way he made the whole crew smile this morning. We’re forecast for even more snow tonight so we’ll how our new buddy is looking tomorrow


For the month of February, CKUT’s own Elena Stoodley is taking over the Montreal Sessions to highlight Black History Month and the amazing work of black artists in Montreal and beyond. Today Elena & guests Ellise Barbara, James Goddard, and Sara Sheline have teamed up for a special Valentine’s Day episode. Find detailshere and stream or download the audio via

ckut top 30 – february 14, 2017

1. austra – future politics – domino CC
2. pc worship – buried wish – northern spy
3. century palm – meet you – deranged CC
4. kid koala – music to draw to – arts & crafts CC *
5. run the jewels – run the jewels 3 – self-released  Continue reading

Album Review: Not Even Happiness – Julie Byrne

Image result for not even happinessFun fact: if you travel to Central Park when she’s not on tour, you just might find Julie Byrne working as a park ranger… that is, if she’s still in New York City by that point. The self-described nomad with the voice of liquid silver has been chronicling her travels over the U.S on Not Even Happiness, speaking plainly of love and loss in a reflective confessional rife with bucolic allusions. The album is at once sweeping and intimate, a good listen for those cross-country road trips or in the comfort of your own bed.

Byrne is not discriminatory in her choice of folk muses, channeling Joni Mitchell on “Follow My Voice,” Ben Howard on “Morning Doves,” and even Enya on “I Live Now As A Singer.” She draws inspiration from her peers both past and present, combining their strengths so effortlessly that she creates her own unique sound. Not Even Happiness is plays out in a trance-like state, almost suspending the listener in a dream as Byrne draws them in with quiet, naked introspection.

Byrne is careful not to fall into the folk trap of redundancy; she incorporates confident fingerpicking and classic folk influences with some more avant-garde electric keyboard work, exploring with reverb and echo effects without letting them swallow her narrative. Not Even Happiness follows an interesting narrative, as if Byrne is drifting out to sea, off to her next adventure.

“Follow My Voice” draws you in with strong fingerpicking, accompanied only by a sly keyboard reverb that emphasizes the beginning of quiet reflection. Byrne’s voice is unadorned and at the forefront of the mix, softly whisper-singing confessions into your ear. “Sleepwalker” provides a faster pace, incorporating layered fingerpicking to create a flowing river effect. Again, Byrne’s vocals are the centerpiece; she is not hiding behind her instrumentals, choosing instead to use them as a simple but detailed backdrop for her well-articulated lyrics.

 On “Natural Blue,” a calm, repetitive cadence and melody evoke a lullaby. Faint vocals are faded and distorted by echo, and gentle harmonies add subtle layers to round out the track. Byrne includes wave sounds on “Sea As It Glides,” binding nature with nurture for the entire duration. The track reverberates and sways as it continues, and the accompanying instrumentals are constantly in motion. When Byrne sings “you are the sea/as it glides,” you are very likely to believe her.

Byrne introduces the album in a very grounded way, and by the time the last notes fade from “I Live Now As A Singer,” she has disappeared into the instrumentals, leaving us with only an echo. The production on Not Even Happiness is impeccably done, and the sound fills the space of wherever you are; Byrne’s voice slips through the speakers to make a nest between your ears, curling up for a long winter’s nap. I know one thing for sure: I can now face the harsh Montreal winters armed with Byrne’s gentle warmth.

Album released: January 27, 2017

review by Juliana Van Amsterdam 

Album Review: Her Harbour – Go Gently Into the Night


In keeping with the caprices of the weather in the dead of winter, Montreal-born and Ottawa-based musician Gabrielle Giguere released her second album as Her Harbour on February 3. Go Gently Into the Night, an apt reference to Dylan Thomas’s haunting villanelle, pours sweet strings onto a heavy, winding reflection on the passage of time. Fortunately, Giguere’s vivid descriptions of all things cold will displace the frost that may have settled into your bones, as this mystifying album leaves you willing to reconcile your differences with this brutal season.

Although the album begins quite softly, it is easy to succumb to the intensity in Giguere’s pleas throughout “Hewing Crowns.” The piano and double bass pair with wails through a wind tunnel as she repeats the eerie line: “You conjure demon in me.” The dulcet vocals, supported by Philippe Charbonneau of Scattered Clouds, are entrancing as Giguere weaves through a melancholy dream. Charbonneau’s double bass also resonates throughout the album, rising and falling with the spirit of each song. Her Harbour’s ghostly atmosphere is further constructed by Mika Posen’s strings, Olivier Fairfield’s vibraphone, and Dave Draves’s keys.

A swaying rhythm appears in “Below Breaths,” in which Giguere croons “I lay in books of your objections.” The track articulates the cycles of loss and return, enticing anyone with a similar tale to breathe along to the tune. Widely-lauded “Chime and Knell” follows, unravelling expectations of the spring in chilling waves. Whereas the spring is long-anticipated, its promise of growth is coupled with sobering undertones of death. Spine-chilling entreaties carry on to the emphatic “Memento Mori,” proving that there is tenderness that persists in grief.

The album teems with imagery that seems to render the stages of sorrow as natural as the phases of the moon. “Death Mask” calmly unearths past maladies as the tone of the album shifts towards resolution and acceptance. “I won’t make you weep” is counteracted by the assertion that “time will leave you weak”. Perhaps it is the extraordinary power encased in this seemingly gentle selection of tracks that makes the album’s end feel like waking up from a fever dream. However, it draws to a close that makes the world outside feel quite a bit more forgiving.

– Review by Maddie Jennings



Hello friends,
I’m back in the office after a short trip back to Ottawa for Megaphono — it was real nice getting to catch up with the CHUO & Ottawa Explosion crews and meet some rad new folks. Saw Un Blonde, Lido Pimienta, She-Devils, H de Heutz, Best Fern (above), and more great acts that I am forgetting… I also caught Priests back home in Montreal last night, and it was well worth the frigid trek down to the Casa — would definitely recommend seeing them live if they roll through your town.

Local sound aficionado Owen G. is taking over If You Got Ears for the month of February, and he promises to dig deep into the hidden corners of the internet to unearth the rarest of outsider sounds. In his own words:

hi friends. my name is owen and i am hosting this radio program. i will play the best music youtube vids with sub 2k views recordings of people yelling stuff not made by humans the remains of the old internet empire songs made specifically to wreck computers and all your favourite hits.

Intrigued? You should be. Dive into the rabbit hole every Wednesday in February,12-2pm EST or download the archives at

ckut top 30 – february 7, 2017

1. sam shalabi & alan bishop – mother of all sinners: puppet on a string – unrock CC *
2. cop car bonfire – deep forest – self-released CC *
3. austra – future politics – domino CC
4. tasseomancy – do easy – hand drawn dracula CC
5. her harbour – winter’s ghost – e-tron records CC Continue reading