Monthly Archives: May 2017

CKUT TOTAL ECLIPSE OF THE CHARTS::: May 30, 2017

squirrel bagel

Hello friends,

The annual Suoni Per Il Popolo festival is right around the corner and we’re all pretty psyched for the insane lineup of artists who are rolling through Montreal this June. Personally, I’m really looking forward to Pharmakon, Peter Brotzmann & Heather Leigh, Princess Nokia, Pelada, Moor Mother, and Les Filles de Illighadad — but there’s so much more, it’s honestly a bit hard to keep track of. Stay tuned for plenty of CKUT coverage as the festival progresses!

Last week’s garbage-feasting raccoon was a big hit, so as a followup here’s a squirrel I spotted in my front yard last week with an entire St. Viateur bagel in its mouth. I wasn’t kidding about our wildlife being gluttonous.

xo
joni

:::WHAT’S UP AT CKUT:::
Suoni, that’s what’s up! We’re dedicating a lot of our programming, including both ourMontreal Sessions and If You Got Ears residency programs, to the famously ear-bending festival for the month of June. Keep an eye on the blog for artist interviews, concert reviews, and other special features over the next three weeks — we’re going all out on this one and you’re invited along for the ride.

:::CHARTS:::
ckut top 30 – may 30, 2017

1. jessica moss – pools of light – constellation CC *
2. le fruit vert – paon perdu – three:four CC *
3. saltland – a common truth – constellation CC *
4. omar souleyman – to syria, with love – mad decent
5. aim low – scratched out – amplitude ambitions CC * Continue reading

School’s Out for GOOD

school's out

Venus – Girl Divided
City Taster – Un Peu de Wat?
Simeon Wiley – Bright Lights
Adrian Hu – Switchblade
Fleece – On My Mind
Glenny – [Bracket]
Jaymes – Good Morning
Brother Joe – Le Sony’r Ra
Alexia Avina – Plans Fall Through
Carla Sagan – Make Believer

Thanks to everyone who has been following this project throughout the spring, and a special thank you to CKUT, Joni, and all the musicians who helped make this such a fun and fulfilling experience.

– Nora Duffy

Concert Review: Chance the Rapper Takes the Bell Centre to Church

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“I talk to God in public,” Chance the Rapper proudly proclaims in “Blessings,” the radiant closer of his brilliant mixtape, Coloring Book. After Thursday night’s concert, it’s no wonder the man upstairs has his ear on the 24-year-old Chicago beat-maker.

After opening act DJ Oreo warmed up the crowd with throwback hits, Chance came out guns blazing, tearing through “Mixtape,” “Blessings,” and the infectious “Angels.” After spending ample time interacting with the audience, he then transitioned into a mashup of Kanye West numbers that he cowrote off The Life of Pablo including “Waves,” and “Father Stretch My Hands Pt. 1,” concluding with his triumphant verse in “Ultralight Beam.” The crowd was hooked.

Backed by Donnie Trumpet and The Social Experiment, Chance then performed the jubilant “Sunday Candy” before giving his backing vocalists the spotlight as they serenaded the crowd with their rendition of “D.R.A.M. Sings Special.” It came with no surprise that DJ Khaled’s “I’m the One” was part of the night’s setlist, which peaked at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and just recently went platinum. That night, the Justin-Bieber-sung track sounded less like mindless pop-radio fluff and more like the undisputed song of the summer.

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Chance also didn’t shy away from his older hits, performing “Chainsmoker,” “Cocoa Butter Kisses” and “Favorite Song” off his 2013 critically acclaimed mixtape Acid Rap, which helped place the Grammy-winner on the map. While performing the latter, the rapper looked just as ecstatic as we all were to hear it.

Then came one of the many highlights of the night: the defiant “No Problem”, which he prefaced by urging the crowd to be fearless. Behind him, the massive screen displayed distorted logos of prominent record labels: most notably, the Warner Music Group emblem, which was fashioned to look like a flaccid penis. Followed by the equally high-energy “All Night,” Chance then transitioned into a number of slow jams, including “Summer Friends” and “Same Drugs” yet he did not lose the audience for a second.

Before concluding the night with “Blessings (Reprise),” Chance told the crowd, “make some noise if you want to go to heaven.” For those two hours, it was as close as many of us were ever going to get.

– Review by Matthew Martino

Concert Review: Perfume Genius + serpentwithteeth @ Theatre Fairmount

Perfume-Genius

The room was already nearly full when I arrived 15 minutes early, wandering over to the merch booth to look at the t-shirts and gold ‘No Shape’ necklaces. The stage was dimly lit and bristling with palm fronds which looked fake, but must have been real because the tips were starting to brown. I managed to get up close just in time.

serpentwithteeth took the stage and it all began, Josiah Wise’s flawless voice winding and fluttering as string and horn samples unfolded over watery kick drums. The combination was effective and arresting: minimal looped gospel-tinged meditations centered around desire, attraction, and queer intimacy. He seemed to glower, basking in the ominous energy of the music and then slipping easily into quick-witted banter between songs, trading barbs with some rowdy audience members and working his lyrical content into an ongoing conversation. While the slippery sounds and his sometimes menacing presentation seemed at first designed to be off-putting, his gorgeous vocal delivery and fearless vulnerability soon won the room over, and he was gone from the stage much too soon.

After a short wait, a bass-boosted-beyond-all-recognition version of Massive Attack’s “Teardrop” gave way to an instrumental rendition of “Choir” from this year’s thrilling No Shape LP, and then Perfume Genius strode into view. About a minute in, set and album opener “Otherside” proved itself to be the ideal kickoff track as the delicate piano arpeggios and Mike Hadreas’s cracked falsetto dropped suddenly into a sparkling chorus of soaring pads and tooth-rattling bass. This dynamic played out easily into the rest of the set as the band pivoted smoothly between hushed, beautiful moments and ponderous, locked grooves. The whole vibe of the performance was cohesive, right down to the sartorial choices: Mike wore a scandalous bare-shouldered classy outfit, and it only served to emphasize the way he slunk across the stage mid-song.

Highlight tracks included the stuttering “Go Ahead,” the trip-hop-drenched “Die 4 You” and the absolutely ecstatic yodel of “Wreath.” While at times the mood reflected all sorts of melancholic and introspective shades, the overarching thread was one of triumph, of security, of winking self-awareness. Mike’s strange and authentic sense of humor was on display throughout, along with the obvious affection between all sharing the stage. Quieting down for the encore, we were treated to a couple solo piano numbers, culminating in the rest of the band returning for a dazzling rendition of “Hood” off his 2012 LP Put Your Back N 2 It. The show closed perfectly with the towering snarl of queer anthem “Queen” and then it was over, and I followed the flushed audience out onto Parc, surrounded by straight dudes proclaiming loudly to all within earshot that “that was actually really sick.”

CKUT TOTAL ECLIPSE OF THE CHARTS::: May 23, 2017

raccoon edited

Hi folks,

It was a great long weekend here – I had a friend visiting Montreal for the first time, so we spent most of Saturday and Sunday walking around and chilling in different parks. It was a nice opportunity to show off our city’s fine array of wildlife, including our brave and gluttonous population of raccoons. We also caught terrific local band Blue Odeur on Friday night – they’re soooo good. Definitely a highlight of the weekend!

xo
joni

:::WHAT’S UP AT CKUT:::
We’re shaking up our regular programming this weekend in honour of the annualMontreal Anarchist Book Fair. On Sunday May 28thtune into CKUT from 11am till 1pm and catch us broadcasting live and chatting with a variety of presenters and participants. If you’re gonna be there hanging out, be sure to stop by the CKUT table and give us a high-five – we’d love to see you!

:::CHARTS:::
ckut top 30 – may 23, 2017

1. le fruit vert – paon perdu – three:four CC *
2. jessica moss – pools of light – constellation CC *
3. saltland – a common truth – constellation CC *
4. arto lindsay – cuidado madame – northern spy
5. do make say think – stubborn persistent illusions – constellation CC * Continue reading

Album Review: A Blaze of Feather – EP 1

A Blaze of Feather’s EP 1 feels like overcast, like Irish winter, like the wind. A cloud of mystery surrounds this experimental dark-folk project lead by Mickey Smith. Information about the band still remains quite sparse, and only recently did Smith reveal himself as one of the main producers and members, while also confirming the involvement of indie-rock’s big name Ben Howard (Every Kingdom, I Forget Where We Were) in the project.  
 
Instrumentally, the sounds of the electric guitars drenched in various reverb, delay, and octave generator effects are the most striking element of the EP – consistently and definitively pushing the limits of a guitar’s imagined potential. Their presence is so all-encompassing and elongated, I often confused them with the synths also at work in most of the songs. A shimmering acoustic guitar also appears in a few of the tracks on the EP, and creates an interesting contrast when paired alongside the immense atmosphere created by the synths and electric guitars. 
 
Th EP’s single, “Carousel,” showcases this contrast best through its excellent arrangement of verb-ed out guitars and droning synths in combination with a strummed acoustic guitar that pops in and out of the mix. Like almost every track on the EP, the ambient sounds fade into the left side and dynamically drip into the right, forming a strong stereo soundscape for the vocals to complete the melodic sphere. Howard is featured in this track, where he sings, “With my last breath / I comfort you,” right before light sawing synths reclaim the musical arrangement for a few bars. A steady rock beat is then re-introduced alongside them, and drives the song until its end. 
 
Folk elements culminate most in the last song of the EP, “Freagh.” The track, named after a municipality in Ireland, is the only song on the EP that begins almost immediately with the clear melodic instrumentation, where the center focus is on a finger-picked acoustic riff paired with two voices.  It is notably the EP’s most vocally driven song and ends it with a strong, optimistic tone, as Smith sings: “Come hell or heavy weather, evening dances in the gold.”
 
Ultimately I found the standout track on EP 1 to be “Death.” It begins like the others on the EP, with a long, droning intro. At the one-minute mark, layers of voices suddenly appear, and their blend is so full that they sound like a synths themselves. This makeshift synth-choir ends with the most powerful line of the EP: “There is no shelter from the sound of the end.” The track then converges into a Schoenberg-esque string accompaniment with octave jumps and tones that interchange between being melodic and dissonant. This instrumentation suggestively (and intentionally, I believe) creates what “the end” may sound like: a composition of isolated yet serene tones that mesh together to construct an uncertain but grand and distinct whole. 
 

Each song on A Blaze of Feather’s EP 1 is a mini soft-world, like a separate cloud of sound in a wider atmospheric space that contains the six songs of the release. The low-volume distortion that carries over into every song connects each piece as if they were overlapping like smoke. Perhaps this is what the album attempts to capture in its cover: a giant cloud of music that characterizes white and dark and gray weather through poetry and melody.

– Review by Francesca Pastore

Concert Review: Slowdive & Japanese Breakfast @ Olympia

Slowdive 1

It had been a long week, grey and rainy. I’d come down with a cold on Tuesday and spent the following 72 hours in a clogged funk. How providential, then, for the clouds to part late Saturday afternoon, low sun bursting through to the wet and shining city, hours before Slowdive took the stage at Olympia. Bolstered by the promising weather, I popped my meds and headed down to the show.

Japanese Breakfast kicked things off, the room already nearing capacity. The Brooklyn quartet lined the front of the stage and dutifully powered through their upbeat indie rock setlist, frontwoman Michelle Zauner’s peppy banter linking one song to the next. They seemed a little stiff, with their songs failing to really pop and fill the room. It was difficult to determine whether the fault lied with the arrangement and instrumentation or with the venue’s sound techs: guitar and bass blurred together and backup vocals remained buried in the mix. In the end Michelle’s powerful vocals stood out as the only clearly distinguishable element, and it felt more like we were hearing the idea of the songs than the complete package. Despite these sound issues the audience was forgiving, sending the band off with a roar as they closed with their strongest number, the driving “Machinist.”

After a wait filled with steadily rising hype and a strikingly good playlist (krautrock, Abba, and a Rihanna cover), the lights dimmed. The immediately familiar, comforting swells of Brian Eno’s “Deep Blue Day” filled the room and Slowdive ambled onstage, greeted us politely, and began.

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At first, I was concerned. The opening run of songs seemed initially to be suffering from the same issues as the previous set: things felt a little muddy and underwhelming. Easing us in with a couple new songs and a few cuts off their older but lesser-known albums, the anticipation continued to swell, as if they hadn’t yet fully arrived.

As it turns out, I had nothing to worry about. Twenty minutes in, they dropped “Machine Gun” and everything locked into place. The difference was immediate. My body shook with peals of thundering guitar and pounding drums as psychedelic vistas opened up behind my closed eyelids, spurred by the strobing screensaver visuals onstage. The song  hit harder, much heavier than the ones before. Maybe it was the crowd responding to an old favourite, maybe the techs finally nailed the mix, maybe the song was just written that way; whatever the case, from that point forward, they were in their groove.

The remainder of the set proved to be a pleasant exercise in dynamics. All the older tracks, such as “Alison” and the outstanding “When the Sun Hits,” served as the anchors, the ballast around which we could comfortably tether. Peppered between, the newer tracks all seemed lighter by comparison, more spacious and synth-heavy, marking an interesting new direction from more mature songwriters. The oscillation between gritty ’90s shoegaze and polished contemporary alt-rock was pleasant, and – with the aid of a truly outstanding light show – hypnotic. When the encore finished and the lights came on, I wandered out, dazed, with a newfound respect for an iconic group that has flourished for decades and turned out to be a lot more versatile than I once assumed.

 

CKUT TOTAL ECLIPSE OF THE CHARTS::: May 16, 2017

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Hello radio,

I was in upstate NY over the weekend visiting some friends who live in Saratoga Springs. Getting out of the city is nice! On Friday night it was even warm enough to have a bonfire outside — a real treat after the spell of weirdly chilly weather last week in Montreal.

Check out those charts below: local favourites Le fruit vert (ft. legendary former CKUT music coordinator AJ Cornell) take the #1 spot. Their record is a real gem, definitely worthy a listen for those with open ears.

xo
joni

:::CHARTS:::
ckut top 30 – may 16, 2017

1. le fruit vert – paon perdu – three:four CC *
2. those who walk away – the infected mass – constellation CC
3. joni void – selfless – constellation CC *
4. tonstartssbandht – sorcerer – mexican summer
5. jessica moss – pools of light – constellation CC * Continue reading

Concert Review: Mac DeMarco & Tonstartssbandht @ Metropolis

On May 10th and 11th, Mac DeMarco returned to his old Montreal stomping grounds for two sold-out shows at Metropolis. Less than a week before the shows DeMarco released a new LP titled This Old Dog, yet the May 10th set balanced tracks from DeMarco’s previous albums with his new material fairly evenly. Despite DeMarco’s soft, lo-fi sound and relaxed style, his live performances tend to be quite high-energy. The first of his two Montreal dates was no exception: the concert was fun, exciting, and entertaining enough to live up to the hype.

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Fellow Montreal expats Tonstartssbandht opened for both Metropolis shows. The band is made up of brothers Edwin and Andy White, who also plays in DeMarco’s touring band. Tonstartssbandht played a show in Montreal a couple months ago for their latest album Sorceror, which I also had the pleasure of attending. The February concert was at Bar le Ritz PDB and although Metropolis is much larger, Tonstartssbandht had no trouble filling the whole venue with their dreamy, experimental rock aesthetic. Their set featured energetic percussion and pleasantly slow, psychedelic melodies that harmonized to deliver a chill, groove-driven performance.

When DeMarco took the stage, I felt like I was witnessing the presence of a phenomenon. After all I’d heard and seen of DeMarco’s aesthetic and behavior, including the trends he’s inspired, it was hard to remember that he is, first and foremost, a musician. However, once he launched into “Salad Days,” the title track from his second LP, I immediately recalled the appeal of DeMarco’s sunny melodies and warm vocals. While it was hard at the concert not to think of the countless people I’ve met who remind me of DeMarco, his friendly hipster shtick appears original and authentic when performed by the man himself. Tracks from This Old Dog, like “Moonlight on the River,” “For the First Time,” and “One More Love Song” featured stronger acoustic leanings and a hazy, romantic pop sound. These tracks complimented DeMarco’s popular upbeat songs like “Cooking Up Something Good,” “Freaking Out the Neighborhood,” and “The Stars Keep on Calling my Name,” all of which initiated wild dancing and moshing from the crowd.

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Many fans climbed up on stage during the concert with the intention of giving DeMarco a high-five, taking a selfie, or jumping into the crowd to surf; however, despite these interjections the band seemed set on giving Montreal a true performance. By the end of the show, DeMarco had started refusing high-fives, swatting away cameras, and even pushing fans onstage back into the crowd. As an audience member sitting in the balcony section, I greatly appreciated this dedication to performing, even if it did seem to contradict DeMarco’s lazy style. My personal favorite quote of the evening came from Andy White during DeMarco’s set, who told everyone, “Put your phones away kids; enjoy the show.” It was a valuable reminder for such a raucous, enjoyable night.

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– Review and photos by Celia Robinovitch

Concert Review: Catfish & The Bottlemen

 

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On a warm evening in early May, British rock outfit Catfish and the Bottlemen took to Montreal’s Corona Theatre. Lead singer Van McCan started the band in 2007, eventually adding members Benji Blakeway, Robert “Slideshow Bob” Hall, and Bondy to the lineup, and ultimately scoring a deal with Communion.

Wednesday’s crowd was invigorated, eagerly awaiting the Catfish’s arrival after energetic but generic openers The Worn Flints. Oldies played until the theatre went black, and the band appeared against green lights blazing across the stage while Bondy kicked off with a swift guitar rhythm. McCan’s vocals soared through the chorus, shouting “I’m only looking out for you/You say it’s obvious that’s a lie.”

Their lyrics ponder nothing but the triumphs and troubles of sex and romance, and the added difficulties that touring present for such areas of life. They raced through their setlist, performing The Balcony’s lead single “Kathleen” to the crowd’s enthusiastic response, followed by “Soundcheck” from their second album The Ride. The lights switched from green to red as Van welcomed Montreal fans to their show, encouraging the crowd to dance and keep the energy alive. “Anything” came in the middle of the set, combining a rhythmically slow but steady verse and a chorus that erupts with youthful fervor and devotion. Van sang, “I won’t smoke if you don’t know more/Cause I know you hate the taste of it/I don’t wanna picture our first born/If you stopped discussing names with me/But if it means that we’d get through/Then you know I’m up for anything.

Catfish’s next highlight was “Fallout,” a song with vigorous, danceable music but lyrics that convey a toxic, disappointing masculine subjectivity. McCan deflects responsibility in what sounds like a faltering relationship, reciting “I’m sorry if I drove your matches to my clothes/But you know how I can get sometimes/See I was a test-tube baby/That’s why nobody gets me.

The set slowed down for a moment before the encore as McCan appeared alone with a guitar to perform “Hourglass,” a sweet acoustic love song. Catfish usually does not include this number on their set list, so the crowd relished in the treat by singing along and rewarding McCan with loud rounds of applause afterwards.

Next came “7,” which begins with lyrics “Larry, call a lot of smoke in/I wanna lose a couple days.” The song resonated with the crowd: cheers emerged in moments of quiet, and people danced like they had not earlier in the set. Catfish finished their hour-long with “Tyrants,” a track from their debut album full of loud guitars and plenty of classic rock riffs.

Overall, Catfish and the Bottlemen brought immense energy and excitement with their performance. The songs were fun and upbeat, but usually followed a similar form that detracted from the band’s freshness and originality. Nevertheless, they brought an entertaining, cool set that harkened back to a traditional rock feel that left the crowd dancing and smiling throughout their performance.

– Review by Caroline Macari