Author Archives: CKUT Music Coordinator

Concert Review: Dinosaur Jr. @ Théatre Corona

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The grand Théatre Corona abounded with relics of the ‘90s on March 9. As I wandered into a sea of dads, I was engulfed in a wave of sounds and smells I valued most in my childhood, however putrid they seemed at the time. The crowd was kind and ruddy, allowing me to snake my way through hundreds of Dinosaur Jr. devotees standing transfixed by the musical stylings of a band that defined their dive bar days. I was happy to be allowed a glimpse into their tried rituals — they’d called up college friends, filled up on moderately-priced beer, and nodded along to the songs that marked their lives’ major milestones.

That night, I was made privy to the very peculiar process of reawakening. The herd bore signs of fatigue, content to tap their feet where a mosh pit would have been in order a few short decades ago. However, no matter where any given member fell in terms of life experience, all were transported to a timeless dreamworld of J Mascis, Lou Barlow, and Murph’s creation. In the wake of Give a Glimpse of What Yer Not, the band’s eleventh studio album, the crowd celebrated “Tiny” and “Goin Down” as wholeheartedly as they savored the familiar beats of “Feel the Pain.” The riffs were emblems of a youth never truly bygone. In essence, the show was not a testament to any time in particular, but rather a chance to integrate sounds of the past into our lives again.

The muted nostalgia persisted throughout, and the crowd itself was just as fascinating as the spectacle we came to witness. The spectators exuded comfort, as their passion for the band had only matured with time. Perhaps the rejuvenating power of a live show only grows, so I don’t fear a future of enjoying beers with friends while reveling in past shenanigans. For now, I have no qualms learning from the earlier generation who may never stop stumbling into musty concert halls just in time for the headliner to grace the stage.

Although I couldn’t partake in the general nostalgia for years I experienced in a stroller, I was grateful to my parents for keeping Dinosaur Jr. in constant rotation on our old stereo. When the first few notes of “Start Choppin’” filled the room, I danced with more violent fervor than ever before. Of course, this led to respectful thrashing among the crowd’s most spry as the band continued on through “Freak Scene” and an encore cover of The Cure’s “Just Like Heaven.” The band’s intrigue is intergenerational, and I’ve become aware of a visceral connection to my predecessors as I trace the musical history we venerated in my childhood apartment.

I appreciated the opportunity to see Dinosaur Jr. alone, as I could satisfy my own curiosities about a band so important to my family. Everyone at the venue that night was participating in an exploit that stretches back thirty years and content to see it live on into the future. We all danced to these records at varying stages of life, and in this way we were able to welcome a Montreal spring together. With a gentle salute to the past, Dinosaur Jr. is adapting to an era of uncertainty with time-honored composure. For one night, we were lucky to do so along with them.

– Review by Maddie Jennings

Concert Review: SunnO))) & Big|Brave

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“Maximum volume yields maximum results.” This is printed on every rider and stage plot Sunn O))) sends out to venues in advance of their shows. Not many bands can claim to have a motto, but it’s the most fitting summation of this act you’d ever need.

Opening the show is Montreal’s own Big|Brave with a polished and appropriately doomy set. Thunderous drums and heavy, ponderous riffs carry the plaintive vocals, expertly setting the mood and giving the headbangers a chance to get it out of their systems while they can. This will be the one and only time such familiar musical hallmarks as rhythm, melody, and discernible lyrics make an appearance tonight – we’re heading somewhere much weirder.

There is a long stretch between the acts as the smoke machines are pushed to their limits, and a thick haze settles over the crowd. Dim red lights pulse and a guy near me takes the opportunity to sneak a cigarette. This innocuous subversion feels significant: we’re entering new territory and losing some rules and markers along the way. Those of us in the first half-dozen rows can barely see the bodies around us, let alone the stage. We’re retreating into ourselves and losing sight of everything else.

Before anyone even realizes the group has taken the stage, sound begins to fill the room. It is the voice of Atilla Csihar, guttural and droning. His range is magnificent, dipping down into a rich throat hum steeped in overtones, leaping up into chanted invocations which might be Hungarian or might be a dead language from a forgotten dimension. As the smoke clears we see there are others behind him, manning guitars and synths; they are all hooded and cloaked, moving slowly and with purpose. The sound swells and drowns the voice in a billowing roar and our earplugs are in, the unprepared quickly realizing their unfortunate mistake and clasping their hands to the sides of their heads.

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Overused as the cliché may be, this is more than music. This is an experience of sound at its most primal level, a crash course in the physics of vibration. It is felt in the body as much, or perhaps even more, than it is heard in the ears. It rattles your bones, warps your gut. The skull buzzes, ears pop. The sheer volume elevates sound into physical reality, unfurling from the wall of stacked amps like a standing wave.

Beyond the novelty of noise, the stage presence is worth mentioning. It feels less like a performance for our benefit and more like a glimpse into their own intimate ritual – and not just because they’re all dressed like druids. These men are participating in something special and deeply personal. They pass around a bottle of water like a sacrament, all motions careful and deliberate. One or two or three members at a time come and go from the stage; at one point both the guitarists are gone and we are treated to a much lighter passage of synth and horn, which only deepens the impact when the guitars drop back in.

The sound ends suddenly. The silence comes as a shock, a jolt. The body grows so accustomed to the volume, the ubiquitous vibration, that its sudden absence leaves a void. There is a collective release throughout the crowd as hundreds of bodies immediately relax, slacking into the vacuum. The smoke clears, the thunderous applause fades away, raised horns are lowered, faces are left glowing and awed. There is a general consensus of speechlessness, an inability to express what we all just went through. A friend manages: “That was church.”

CKUT TOTAL ECLIPSE OF THE CHARTS::: March 21, 2017

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Hi friends,
Well, we survived last week’s crazy winter storm… most things around Montreal closed down for the day (a rarity in this land of perpetual winter) but it was business as usual here at CKUT, because we are hardcore like that. We did, however, spend a good chunk of the afternoon sliding down the mountain of snow that had accumulated in the station’s backyard…  gotta make the most of those blizzard conditions while they last, right?
xo
joni

:::WHAT’S UP AT CKUT:::
Local arts publication Cult MTL is having its annual best-of poll, and CKUT has a long history of sitting pretty at the top of the radio category. Wanna show us some love? Vote here, and don’t forget to nominate your fave CKUT programmers while you’re at it.

:::CHARTS:::
ckut top 30 – march 21, 2017

1. the painters/carla sagan – supermoon lunar eclipse – egg paper factory CC *
2. saltland – a common truth – constellation CC *
3. tonstartssbandht – sorcerer – mexican summer
4. xiu xiu – forget – polyvinyl
5. mozart’s sister – field of love – arbutus CC * Continue reading

Album Review: Bo Welland – S/T

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March 13th marked the release of Montreal/Kingston/Toronto band Bo Welland’s self-titled debut. Up to this point, the band has been touring around Ontario and Quebec, playing loud shows for enthusiastic, rowdy audiences. In doing so, they’ve definitely accumulated a loyal fanbase within local student populations. This five song EP is a slacker rock romp that definitely showcases what’s to love about the group.

I think the vibe of Bo Welland is best summed up in a video the band made to accompany the EP’s first single, “Rampage,” cut together from a variety of clips from the band’s January tour. One thing is easy to see: these four dudes are making fun music and having fun doing it. Drummer Alex Spears had similar things to say about the EP: “The vibe is goofy and fun. Something we pride ourselves on is not taking ourselves too seriously.”

The album has some strong similarities to The Fratellis and the Kooks, bands we all listened to many moons ago, with the same dance-worthy high energy post-punk vibes. Two songs specifically, “Honesty in Ecstasy” and “You’ve Got it Goin’ On,” follow in this tradition, right down to the party-boy lyrics. For me, the standout song on the album is “Wind in Greece.” Right off the bat, the guitar lays down a clean riff that solidly anchors the song. Another nice touch on this track is the addition of piano, filling out the lower end of the sound. The composition on “Wind in Greece” is amongst the strongest on the EP, and the driving drum beat that starts off the song kept me bobbing my head ‘til the end.

“Rampage” does a good job of capturing the rip-roaring spirit of the band’s live performances. For a debut release, it definitely stays very true to the band’s sound and lays the foundation for bigger and better things to come. When asked what’s next for the band, Spears says the plan is to release another set of recordings and keep refining their high-energy live show. The fact that band members live in different cities means that it takes longer to work on new material, but given the strength of their debut recordings, it seems like a very feasible plan. For those living in the Toronto/Montreal/Kingston area, these upcoming gigs will be something you won’t want to miss out on.

– Review by Nora Duffy

Concert Review: Carpenter Brut @ Theatre Berri

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Synthwave has a long history dating all the way back to the German Krautrock of the ’70s, but its newfound renaissance is definitively modern. Every since the 2011 neo-noir film Drive brought the heavily synthed-up sounds of Kavinsky to the mainstream, digital music has never been the same. Within the next two years, we’d see releases like Com Truise’s Galactic Melt and Perturbator’s We Are the Night become hugely successful, building upon the French electro explosion of the late 2000s to create a nostalgic analog sound that resonated with a largely digital audience — many of whom weren’t even alive to experience the era it emulates.

Years later this scene has exploded into an array of killer independent music and culture, all merging the best parts of our collective nostalgia with contemporary production. Carpenter Brut is a prime example of this phenomenon. With several appearances in breakthrough indie video games like Hotline Miami and Furi, a series of spectacular music videos, and even a film in the works, Franck Hueso’s music has quickly become synonymous with the entire genre. For an idea of his sound, check out the “Trilogy” compilation, which showcases what he does better than anyone else: aggressive heavy beats,  dreary atmospheric synths, and epic chord progressions. Continue reading

Concert Review: The Luyas album launch @ Bar Le Ritz P.D.B.

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Montreal has a long and storied heritage of indie rock that skews towards the lush and orchestral and as far as staples of this scene go, the Luyas are among the finest. The launch of their latest LP, Human Voicing, was a testament to this fact. The band, comprised of Jessie Stein, Stephen Schneider, Pietro Amato and Mike Feuerstack have spent a decade polishing their sprawling psych-pop aesthetic. The bill was rounded out by openers Opale and Fleece, both proving to be loyal disciples of the headliner’s refined sound.

The Luyas’s set began on an immediately tender note with the song “Fed To The Lions.” A plodding beat propped up gorgeous swells of harmony, highlighted by the delicate vocals skipping through. The crowd was rapt despite the fact that the set was almost exclusively new material; it was striking how these ambitious tracks, sonic monuments to mind and heart, still managed to feel warm and familiar to the ears of the audience. The band’s playful nature was evident: although their songs are dense and complex, they’re fun, too. Throughout the show, I couldn’t keep a wide grin off my face.

Midway through, the band reached a shimmering peak with the gorgeous “Dream Of Love,” dedicated to a friend in the audience. Horns, synth, and guitar coalesced atop a driving rhythm, but never in a way that felt too epic or overdone. This is a defining feature of the Luyas’s music:  no matter how the music towers, shifting layers piling up to the ceiling, Jessie’s voice always manages to keep it achingly intimate, close, urgent. Even as the keys burst out the gate and threatened to break loose on crowd-pleasing closer “Too Beautiful To Work,” the reins were held close and we were masterfully guided home.

CKUT TOTAL ECLIPSE OF THE CHARTS::: March 14, 2017

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Hello friends,

As you probably know, we’re in the midst of an epic winter blast with plenty of snow and frigid temperatures in this part of the world… After a brief glimpse of spring, we’re back in the sub-zero zone here in Montreal. I opted to stay in and hibernate for most of the weekend, but I did venture out for a very excellent album launch from our friends (& CJLO superstars) Aim Low and Echo Beach, pictured above. Well worth braving that -30 windchill.
xo
joni

PS – no SXSW for us this year, we’re having too much fun digging ourselves out of this massive snowstorm to enjoy that Texas sunshine. 😉

:::CHARTS:::
ckut top 30 – march 14, 2017

1. homeshake – fresh air – sinderlyn CC *
2. tim darcy – saturday night – jagjaguwar CC *
3. saltland – a common truth – constellation CC *
4. novella – change of state – sinderlyn
5. philippe lauzier – a pond in my living room – sofa CC * Continue reading

School’s Out: An Interview with Rosie Long Decter

On the last Friday before McGill’s reading week, just as students were preparing to turn off their brains for a minute, I managed to sit down with Rosie Long Decter. As a vocalist and synth player in the popular band Bodywash, as well as the new music librarian at CKUT, Rosie has set the bar high for what it means to be a student in the Montreal music scene. Based on her fantastic resume, I knew Rosie would be able to provide some unique insight on the student scene in the city as well as some advice for those looking to get started as musicians in Montreal.

Nora: Ok, so – you’re in Bodywash, which is a really great band putting out some really amazing stuff. You guys started as a McGill band, is that true?

Rosie: Yes.

N: Could you give me your origin story? How did you guys get together as a band?

R: So, two of our members met through rez and living together: one of our guitarists and our old bassists. And they knew Chris, who is our guitarist and singer, through mutual friends, and the three of them started jamming together. Chris actually met out drummer, Austin, at a SSMU Musician’s Collective meet-and-greet. So that was a group on campus that was very useful for us. Most of us were in Gardiner [a McGill Residence], and Gardiner used to have once-a-month coffee houses. I was always a solo musician – I used to do a lot of singer-songwriter stuff and the guys saw me performing and asked if I wanted to jam.

I think for us, the context of us all being in Gardiner was super important because Gardiner used to have a music room that students could use. So that’s where we practiced all of first year, the Gardiner music room.

N: That’s sweet.

R: I mean, it was kind of a shithole, but you know, it was our shithole. Continue reading

School’s Out: Alexia Avina

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When the topic of McGill student musicians comes up, it’s rare that the name Alexia Avina isn’t mentioned. As both a prolific solo musician and part of the dreamy electro duo, Best Fern, she is pretty much the pinnacle of what a writer like me could hope to find in the student scene.

Earlier this week, Avina posted a track called ‘Cups’ on her Soundcloud page. For fans of her work, this song hits all the bases of what makes Avina’s music special. The whispery vocals so characteristic of her work are especially noteworthy, not only in the sweet, sad lyrics but also in the layered, dreamy back-up vocals that saturate the track. Rich guitar melodies drift in and out, softly fading into a warm hum at the end of the song.

In her Facebook post about the song, Avina expressed her nervousness about releasing the song and asked for kindness from listeners. ‘Cups’ is a soothing track to drift away to, and I hope that the calming vibes the song conjured for me are given back to Alexia Avina in return.

– Nora Duffy

CKUT TOTAL ECLIPSE OF THE CHARTS::: March 7, 2017

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Greetings Radio,
Had another busy week, this time highlighted by a couple truly great shows: our own CKUT expat Tim Darcy and opener Molly Burch killed it on Saturday, and politically-charged noise freaks Monty Cantsin (above) and local sound wizard Emilie Mouchous left my ears similarly reeling on Friday. You seen anything good lately?
xo
joni

:::WHAT’S UP AT CKUT:::
This month, the Friendly Frogs Freak Show is hosting the Montreal Sessions everyTuesday from 3-5pm. These five spandex-disguised funk musicians will bring their live jams straight to the airwaves as well as sharing their creative inspiration, interviewing local artists, and throwing in a couple surprises for good measure. Tune into their freak show for this and plenty more.

:::CHARTS:::
ckut top 30 – march 7, 2017

1. tim darcy – saturday night – jagjaguwar CC *
2. the luyas – human voicing – paper bag CC *
3. austra – future politics – domino CC
4. pc worship – buried wish – northern spy
5. xiu xiu – forget – polyvinyl Continue reading