Author Archives: Bryce


Pop Montreal 2013 Review: Un Blonde//Crosss//Viet Cong


Jean’s death stare struck fear in my heart.  I felt cold and alone and terrified amidst a packed Brasserie Beaubien. Yes, these (mostly) Calgary boys stay true to their roots. A home brew of post-punk and dark, brooding pop lay hidden beneath squalls of feedback. Tasteful, abrasive, and ultimately rewarding for those with a strong stomach.



Desolate, pounding riffs that could tear down a mountain. Saturday afternoon, a sunless basement could scarce contain this Halifax trio’s offerings. Thankfully, the roof did not collapse. A lone ray of light crept downstairs, fell upon the group’s opaque eye, and was quickly banished. Night had fallen earlier than expected.



Though experimentalism runs deep in their veins, pop gems remain, floating just beneath the surface. Traces of new wave and kraut-rock ripple in and out of focus but one thing remains clear: Viet Cong are easily one of the best new Canadian bands in quite some time. Catch them again Saturday @ Drones with Freak Heat Waves & Homeshake!



Campus mixtapes logo

As part of Campus Mixtapes, the CKUT Music Department is putting together an interactive map-meets-compilation-album featuring songs that reference Montreal-specific locations in some way. If you’ve written a song about or inspired by Parc Avenue, or a dep run, or a night during the strike, or summer in the parc (or, alternatively, a nightmarish noise track about winter in the parc), we’d love to hear it.

We’d also love to hear from you if you know any Montreal-referencing songs, from any genre or era, that we might not have come across on our own. Email us at or leave a comment below!

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From the Vault: Art Blakey & the Jazz Messengers – Caravan (1962)

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Art Blakey’s first on Riverside features the inimitable Freddie Hubbard on trumpet; Wayne Shorter,  tenor sax; Cedar Walton, piano; Curtis Fuller, trombone; Reggie Workman, bassist. These form the Jazz Messengers in late 1962, whose lineup was constantly revolving save for Blakey who led as percussionist, bandleader, and spiritual center for decades. Though his contribution is relatively subdued on this album, his effortless syncopation is undeniably the backbone of the group. The title track, written by Juan Tizol and first performed by Duke Ellington, is a standout on the album. The soloists wade in and out, responding to each other along with an ever-intensifying rhythm section. Blakey’s solo beats down like the desert sun, cymbals chiming with the breeze. The rest of the album restates and expands on tones and themes first presented, a true bop classic. Check out the link to “Caravan” below!!


Julia Holter on New Shit



Today on New Shit we will be interviewing the lovely Julia Holter. She’s got a brand new album out on Domino Records, as well a show tomorrow at La Sala Rossa. The two singles released have garnered much praise and excitement online; we will be discussing these, her new expanded live show, and much more. We’ll also be giving away a pair of tickets to her Sala show, so be sure to tune in for your chance to catch the gig for free. New Shit airs every Monday 3-5PM – catch it on the dial in Montreal or streaming online via



From the Vault – Leadbelly Legacy Volume Four (1953)


I don’t really need to say much about this one. Old blues singers of Lead Belly’s calibre send a shiver down my spine every time. This 10″ compilation, put out by Folkways in 1953, is posthumous as Huddie Ledbetter passed away in 1949. His distinct voice and fingerpicking style  remain as haunting and breezy as ever. The self-proclaimed “King of the 12-string Guitar” was a true easy rider. Though you may not be able to find a copy of this particular record we have here at CKUT, his recordings are a must-have. This old country blues seems to suit any occasion well, particularly hot Montreal summers. I’ve linked the title track down below, listen in!


This Week’s Montreal Sessions



Alex Bergeron, Year of Glad mastermind, will be hosting his second installment of “Church of the Air” this afternoon on our Montreal Sessions!! He’ll be having plenty of special guests on air from 3 to 5PM local time. Matt Legroulx of EXPWY and a few of his Kinnta Records cohorts will be joining him in the studio. Dam Ships will also be doing a live performance of the floor, don’t miss it!!



FIJM 2013 Day 6: Such A Night


As I approach nearly a decade of covering the Jazz Fest, I’ve learned that the programmers are good for some behind-the-scenes insight. I’ve also learned that big tickets are worth buying if you want to be assured of a spot. So when Laurent Saulnier told me a few months ago that the Dr. John/Leon Russell tag team was a true “double feature” – two full-length concerts back-to-back – I immediately ran to the box office. André Menard reminded the audience of this fact just after the house lights went down.

My passion for New Orleans music in particular, and Southern-drenched piano pop more generally, is no secret for anyone who knows me. I do have to admit relative ignorance on Leon Russell’s extensive catalogue – I know him as the composer of “A Song For You” and “This Masquerade” and for his participation in the Concert for Bangladesh, but his solo discography remains unknown to me. After last night’s canonical performance – in terms of representing an artist’s history, not so dissimilar from Allen Toussaint’s recital at Gesu a few years back – that will be rectified as soon as possible. Russell, decked out in a white jacket and cowboy hat, walked out with his band on a pre-recorded atmospheric synth pad and sonically exploded into Theatre Maisonneuve. It was a bit incongruous to see a glowing MacBook in front of this paragon of Americana, and the synth brass layer he used insistently wore out its welcome quite quickly. I forced myself to listen beyond the sound (both boxy and harsh) and into his playing, and was rewarded for the effort.

Surrounded by drums, bass, and a guitarist who moved between a Stratocaster and pedal steel (in addition to providing some adequately churchy organ on “Georgia On My Mind”), Russell flew through tunes either in medleys or near-medleys, barely stopping for instrument changes or to talk to the audience. Even at 71, Russell makes no mystery of his influences – he spoke of growing up in Tulsa and his music exposure coming from the only two radio stations he could receive, gospel music and R&B. The medley of the traditional bluegrass tune “Rollin’ in my Sweet Baby’s Arms” and his own “Stranger in a Strange Land” perfectly reflected how he’s incorporated the church and the country, R&B and roots music. Bruce Hornsby’s debt to Russell was especially clear in this set. About two-thirds of the way through, he played a poignant solo medley of “Sweet Emily” (whose subject recently passed away), “Ballad of Mad Dogs and Englishmen,” “Magic Mirror,” and “A Song For You.” The weaknesses of Russell’s voice were more obvious here, but witnessing Russell perform one of his signature tunes was a hair-raising experience. The Stones rave-up of “Jumpin’ Jack Flash,” mashed up with fragments of “Paint it Black,” the Temptations’ “Papa Was a Rolling Stone,” and the blues tune “Kansas City,” closing with Chuck Berry’s “Roll Over Beethoven,” finally got the crowd moving.

I had engaged in a Facebook conversation with Gazette critic Bernie Perusse about Dr. John’s uneven performance history in Montreal. The fact that he had recently disbanded his long-time group, the Lower 9-11, was also cause for concern. The new band of Nite Trippers, ably directed by trombonist and vocalist Sarah Morrow, wasted no time in proving they were more than up to the task. The Dr. himself was in fine form from the opening “Iko Iko.” His piano skills were in fine display on “St James Infirmary” (done on a groove very similar to “Mo’ Scocious”). Mac even switched to guitar on his version of “Let The Good Times Roll,” with more grease and grit than most guitar players I’ve heard on the outdoor blues stage this week. All praise be to Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys for getting the gris-gris gumbo back into the sound. The set was balanced between some of the new tunes off of Locked Down, classics like “Right Place Wrong Time,” and nods to tradition, be it the closing “Big Chief” where the whole band got showcase solos, or the funkified version of “Love For Sale.” Drummer Reggie Jackson and bassist Dwight Bailey were a knockout rhythm section. Unfortunately, some of the solos from Morrow, guitarist Kevin Turner and organist Ben Addelman didn’t speak as clearly as they should have – it took a while for their levels to get set in the house sometimes. But the groove reigned supreme and it’s always a pleasure when the Doctor is in.

– David Ryshpan


FIJM Day 3: These Are Good Days


After a rehearsal for tonight’s show with Sarah Linhares (her Montreal farewell), I headed down to the FIJM site for saxophonist Chet Doxas and his band Muse Hill. The group was formed a while ago with bassist Morgan Moore, multi-instrumentalist Joe Grass, and the Barr brothers. I had missed their shows in town previously and was really intrigued by the group. I’ve seen the Barrs in various different settings, from the jamminess of The Slip to their improvisations in the latter days of the Moondata sessions. I was extremely curious what Chet’s tunes for this band would be, and how Brad and Andrew would co-exist with Doxas and Moore.The set opened with a soundscape of processed air, with Brad using his customized string-scraping system to create a beautiful drone over which Morgan soloed. Chet often has this yearning, anthemic quality to his writing and to his tenor sound that was at the forefront of this set. The melody of “Image & Nation” was fairly diatonic in nature, and Doxas launched into a highly contrasting, chromatic solo over the churning brothers Barr. They are both phenomenal colourists, Brad with a full pedalboard of effects and Andrew with various percussive tools. Brad doesn’t have the same harmonically complex improvisational language as Doxas, which makes him a novel foil and affects the dynamics of the group in a remarkable way. With Joe Grass’ absence from this show, everyone had a little more space that they could occupy. Comparing this group to Brian Blade’s Fellowship Band is an obvious one to make, and it’s not entirely a complete picture of what Muse Hill represents, but there is a kinship in the soaring aspects of the compositions (something Doxas shares with fellow Montrealer Christine Jensen) and in the pairing of saxophone and guitar.The middle of the set contained two highlights: a striking duo between Doxas and Brad Barr, with a chiming twang to the sound, resolved itself into a captivating version of “I Loves You Porgy.” The band proceeded into the gonzo blues of “Hunter S. Thompson,” replete with an interlude of Doxas playing a transcription of Thompson’s interview on the Dick Cavett show.

I split from Astral early to get over to Cinquieme Salle for British pianist Gwilym Simcock, and was greeted by a sign notifying me that due to flight delays, the show would start one hour later than planned. I used the time to get caffeinated and fed, and then took my seat directly overlooking the keyboard. A charming, funny Simcock came out and immediately addressed the audience, apologizing for his delay and introducing the first tune, “These Are The Good Days,” by saying, “Even after a day like this, being a musician is the best way to spend one’s life. After 11 hours of travel, it’s a privilege to get to play one’s instrument.” A rhythmically active left-hand ostinato grounded various suspended chords. Simcock shifted key centres with ease and fluidity, and concluded the piece with strummed chords and internal piano percussion. His lengthy, sometimes tangential explanations of his songs offered truly fascinating context into his life and his music – I would have interpreted his rendition of “On Broadway” in a completely different manner than he described it. If need be, Simcock could pursue a second career as a stand-up comic. His brilliant pan-tonal sensibility – lines that extend outward almost like a harmonic series – can be chalked up to his early love for Russian classical composers. Simcock’s meditation on the middle movement of the Grieg Piano Concerto was breathtaking.

From there, I headed out to the lot on Clark and Ste-Catherine, now home to two stages. Saxophonist Becky Noble was performing music from her recently released album with her sextet, with Mike Bjella taking Chet Doxas’ place. I know Becky’s music really well, having studied with her at McGill, subbed in her rehearsals, and performing with her in Banff eight years ago. She sounded even better than her recent set at L’Astral. Unfortunately, Marie-Fatima Rudolf’s piano was far too low in the mix until three minutes before the end of the set, and the pastoral beauty of Noble’s tunes had to compete with the blaring blues stage across the street. Like her mentors the Jensen sisters and Maria Schneider, there’s a lot of pretty and subtle details in Becky’s music that got lost on the outdoor stage. On the other side of the parking lot, Toronto vocalist Maylee Todd took over at 10 pm. She’s our new indie-soul “it” girl, and the vast majority of her set didn’t grab me at all. I wonder how much of that was due to sound issues – it felt like the right speaker column only kicked in ten minutes into her set, and moments in tunes that should have properly smacked me in the face came off limp and without dynamic. I’d like to see her in a smaller club to get a better sense of what she does and how she sounds.

– David Ryshpan –> see his blog Settled in Shipping for more!

From the Vault: Out of the Fog – The Halifax Underground 1986



A wonderfully rare record appeared in MCR (that’s our live broadcasting studio for those of you who aren’t up on the CKUT lingo) a few days ago, and the station’s been buzzing about it ever since! This piece of Canadian music history compiles songs from a multitude of Halifax bands approaching their fourth decade. The album quickly moves from reverb-drenched pop to heavy, grungy goodness and beyond. Though the only thing tying these artists together is their collective scene, you can really HEAR it. A beautiful picture in time. Big thanks to Sarah Fahie, host of Beyond the Horizon, for digging this gem out of the CKUT library.

Good luck finding yourself a copy! Here’s a little write-up on the album if you want to dive deeper:





Our upcoming show listings have just been updated!! See CKUT.CA for a comprehensive guide to the shows around our lovely city. Here are a couple ones we’re really excited about:

::Wednesday, June 12:

– The Ratchet Orchestra and Malcolm Goldstein @ La Sala Rossa
– Bill Orcutt and Chris Corsano @ Casa Del Popolo

::Thursday, June 13::

– Black Twig Pickers, The Ever-Lovin’ Jug Band, The Bogghoppers @ Casa del Popolo
– French-American Peace Ensemble + film David S. Ware – A World of Sound @ La Sala Rossa
– Vaginors, Thee Nodes, Sexface and Stan K. @ L’Escogriffe

::Friday, June 14::

– Saltland, Eric Chenaux, Radwan Ghazi Moumneh and Wormholes @ Sala Rossa
– Pelt and Oryx Lamia @ Casa del Popolo
– Bitter Fruit, Old and Weird, Quaker Parents, Kurvi Tasch @ Drones Club

::Saturday, June 15::

– Nü Sensae, Panopticon Eyelids and Loudsex @ La Sala Rossa
– Wyrd Fest III with Babysitter and JLK, The Pink Noise, EXPWY and Babi Audi @ Casa Del Popolo
– Buke & Gase, Dam Ships and Year of Glad @ Divan Orange


::Sunday, June 16::

– Andy Moor, John Butcher, Paul Lytton and Nate Wooley @ Casa del Popolo
– Unruled, Proxy, Abyssed and Absolut @ Foufounes Electriques

::Monday, June 17::

– Rhys Chatham, Oneida and Avec le Soleil Sortant de sa Bouche @ Sala Rossa

::Tuesday, June 18::

– Iceage,Lower,Âmes Sanglantes and Verglas @ Il Motore
– Nate Wooley,Paul Lytton,Ken Vandermark,Terrie Ex & Paal Nilssen-Love @ Casa del Popolo
– Kalmunity Tuesdays, live organic improv @ Les Bobards