Category Archives: Department Babble


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.



jazz amuck’s 20 not-to-miss albums of 2016

Jazz lovers, take note – the one & only John B, host of CKUT’s famed Jazz Amuck, has put together a real doozy of a list recapping the heaviest hitters of 2016. Whether your tastes veer towards the freest of sounds or you dig more traditional styles, we’ve got you covered. Check out the full list below and tune into Jazz Amuck every Friday from 9-11am on CKUT.


ingrid laubrock – serpentines – intakt
henry threadgill & ensemble double up – old locks and irregular verbs – pi
tyshawn sorey – the inner spectrum of variables – pi
mary halvorson octet – away with you – firehouse 12
anna webber’s simple trio – binary – skirl CC
wadada leo smith golden quintet – america’s national parks – cuneiform
michael formanek ensemble kolossus – the distance – ecm
bobby kapp & matthew shipp – cactus – northern spy
taylor ho bynum – plustet – firehouse 12
mark dresser seven – sedimental you – clean feed
nick fraser quartet – starer -self-released CC
steve lehman & sélébéyone – sélébéyone – pi
sao paulo underground – cantos invisiveis – cuneiform
ingrid laubrock + tom rainey – buoyancy – relative pitch
dan weiss – sixteen: drumers suite – pi recordings
nicolas caloia – les bonnes histoires – ambiances magnétiques CC
vijay iyer / wadada leo smith – a cosmic rhythm with each stroke – ecm
greg ward – touch my beloved’s thought – greenleaf
quinsin nachoff – flux – mythology CC
atlantis jazz ensemble – oceanic suite – marlow CC


Very Special NEW SHIT!


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?
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!)

CKUT Referendum 2016: VOTE YES


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? 


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.


All the cool kids are doing it.

-PSA brought to you by Juliana Van Amsterdam 


CKUT Music Department’s Pop Picks


Feeling overwhelmed by the choices at this year’s Pop Montreal festival? It’s totally understandable, and you’re definitely not the only one. But fear not — CKUT music programmer Mike B. has mapped out a plan to guide you through the highlights of this year’s programming. Here’s the lowdown on the essential shows of Pop 2015:

Cheap Wig is set to go on at 12:30am at Brasserie Beaubien. They’re a mega cool queer glam punk act with rad cassette art and wonderfully noisey sounds.

The Letouts + Caymans + Towanda + JLK + In Hock at Brasserie Beaubien
Local punk superstars, Towanda, go on at 10:30. And if you haven’t seen the sludgey, all girl trio live yet, you need to.

The Orb + Mateo Murphy + Vosper at SAT
The Orb goes on at midnight. The Orb as in the ambient house duo that’s been kicking since 1988. They released Moonbuilding 2703 AD in June, so they’ll probably be mostly playing things from that, but just in case they play their more classic pieces you should probably study their last 12 studio albums so you can have all of your choreography prepared.

Hag Face + Brazilian Money + Babysitter + No.Negative
Calgary’s Hag Face plays at midnight. Obviously you should try to see as many female punk bands this weekend as possible, but if you can only see one then make it Hag Face.

Heathers + Psychic Lie + Sigh Down One + Jilted X + Loosestrife at Brasserie Beaubien
Riot Grrrl-inspired Heathers goes on at 12:30 with their brand of “femme punk” and “sequin grunge.” They should definitely be loud enough for you to remember the ecstasy of ringing ears and sweaty bliss until Pop comes back next year.

– M. Baek

dub rifles cd booklet cover

Revisiting the Dub Rifles

dub rifles cd booklet cover

A Retrospect by CKUT’s Vince Tinguely

A few years ago, I read a beat-up copy of Subculture: The Meaning of Style by Dick Hebdige. One could immediately sense this was a damn clever book when it came out back in 1979 – back in 1979 there weren’t too many books partaking of ‘punk’ design values – a lurid pink-black-and-yellow cover, featuring a stark cartoon portrait of a Ziggy-era Bowie-clone. It stood out to such an extent that I remembered it, a quarter-century later, when I came upon it in some thrift shop or other. Based on that odd media-memory alone (in our mediated world much memory devotes itself to media) I bought the book.

Reading Subculture: The Meaning of Style now means reading it as an artifact. Hebdige was writing about the punk subculture in Britain, specifically – dragooning ruminations upon its ‘antecedents’ like the mod, teddy boy and glam scenes in order to pad the book out beyond a couple of chapters. (Weirdly, he completely ignores or excludes the hippie subculture of the sixties – apparently because hippie culture was so big it falls outside of the purview of the ‘subcultural’ focus. But to me it looks like an omission big enough to drive Kesey’s bus through. I guess he likes his countercultures nice and small and contained within the dominant überculture.)

He was writing about punk in the very midst of that scene’s flourishing, which lent his thoughts a nicely unfinished, unpolished and inconclusive flavour. What I found most stimulating about the book was Hebdige’s examination of British Rasta youth culture as the flipside of the British punk scene. For some reason it was only by reading this book that I finally ‘realized’ the connection. It’s a strange thing, since I know for sure I lived this connection at the time.

I distinctly remember the first time I really felt like I was participating in something that I’d only previously known through mediated forms like records (ie. Gang of Four’s Entertainment, and the Lee Perry-produced Bob Marley and the Wailers bootleg bought at Canadian Tire for $3.99) – when the Dub Rifles played Domus Legis, a law frat house in Halifax, in June of 1983.

Continue reading

New Tracks on the Free Music Archive

Have you perused CKUT’s page on the Free Music Archive lately? We’ve got a couple of new recordings up and we’re really excited to share them with your ears — check out this long-form sonic tapestry from Echo Beach and these beautiful electronic pieces from Jeunesse Cosmique favourite Hazy Montagne Mystique. Plus, we’ve got plenty more recordings in the works so keep an eye on the FMA page for new goodies to arrive very soon…

DJ Rhythm & Hues’ Best Albums of 2014

DJ Rhythm & Hues’ Best Albums of 2014

World Skip The Beat regular Parker Mah, aka DJ Rhythm & Hues, delivers his favourite albums of 2014. This year’s list features a mix of old veterans and new blood, and an expanded section dedicated to live concerts.

Presented in no particular order, albums were selected, as always, based on originality, production value, consistency, and overall booty-shakingness. Check out also the 2012 and 2013 lists and head over to the WSTB mixcloud page for the Best of 2014 podcast.


Han Han (Canada / Philippines) – Han Han – Independent (Bandcamp)

Toronto-based Filipina rapper Han Han dropped this bomb in 2014 out of left field, a boom-bap manifesto in Tagalog and Cebuano mixing heavy bass and traditional sounds like kulintang gongs.
Sample track: World Gong Crazy feat. DATU

Sawtuha: Nine women from Egypt, Tunisia, Libya – Jakarta Records

An ambitious project pairing female lyricists, musicians and MCs from Egypt, Tunisia and Libya with top-flight producers, among them OddiseeBrenk and Blundetto. Recorded in Tunis, the album aims to speak out against the repression of democratic rights and gender inequality in the region. Word.
Sample track: Youssra El Hawary – Ghareeb An El Medina (Brenk Remix)

Ibibio Sound Machine (UK / Nigeria) – Ibibio Sound Machine – Soundway Records

Fronted by London-born Nigerian singer Eno Williams, this debut album is a perfect union of Nigerian / Afro elements and refreshingly sparse and tasteful electronic production.
Sample track: Prodigal Sun (Ayen Ake Feheke)

Kafundó Vol. 1 – Digital Roots Music from Brazil – Dutty Artz

Curated by Wolfram Lange and Maga Bo, this compilation, inspired from a word meaning a faraway and isolated place in Brazilian Portuguese, is a hard-hitting selection of music from the neglected peripheries of the Brazilian music scene.
Sample track: Sombra – Chuva de Gente Estranha

Al Dobson Jr. (UK) – Sounds from the Village Vol. 1 – Izwid 

London-based producer Al Dobson Jr. releases his solid debut full-length on Kutmah‘s Izwid label, a varied collection of head-nodding, hand-clapping, percussion-jangled afro-beats.
Sample track: Maiysha

Intiche (Germany / Argentina ) – Nawell – Konn Recordings (Bandcamp)

The most mature and daring effort from Berlin-based Argentinian Intiché, continuing his pioneering experimentations in the genre he dubs Electronativo or Folcore, combining electronic production with indigenous South American samples and instruments.
Sample track: Lemu

Malombo Jazz Makers (South Africa) – Next Stop Soweto presents Spirit of Malombo – Malombo, Jabula, Jazz Afrika 1966-1984 – Strut Records

The forgotten oeuvre of Afro-jazz pioneer Julian Bahula, who first introduced indigenous Malombo drums alongside jazz flute and guitar in 1960s apartheid-era South Africa, is finally given the honour it deserves.
Sample track: Hleziphi

Tradisyon Ka (Guadeloupe) – Gwo Ka – Music of Guadeloupe, French West Indies – Soul Jazz Records

Gwo-ka, like Haitain vaudou or Cuban santeria, is a musical and cultural product of African ancestry, forcibly brought to the French West indies via the slave trade. Soul Jazz has served up this newly-recorded Gwo-ka album featuring some of its best living practitioners.
Sample track: Adam é Eve (feat. Patrick Tulippe) 

Francis Bebey (Cameroon) – Psychedelic Sanza 1982-1984 – Born Bad Records

A rhythm-driven and deeply spiritual collection of material from Cameroonian sonic sculptor Francis Bebey. Pygmy flutes, intoned lyrics and the titular Sanza create an atmosphere of wonder.
Sample track: Forest Nativity

Chancha via Circuito (Argentina) – Amansara – Wonderwheel Recordings

Argentinian outfit Chancha via Circuito, alias Pedro Canale, returns with his most inspired assemblage of bleeps, bangs and beats yet, propelled by the lead-off single featuring Toronto’s own Lido Pimienta.
Sample track: Coplita feat. Miriam García

Alsarah & the Nubatones (Sudan / US) – Silt & Silt Remixed –Wonderwheel Recordings

Fresh off her 2013 collaboration with Débruit, Sudanese-born vocalist Alsarah returns to her roots with her stellar Nubatones debut, Silt. Raw and ready.
Also noteworthy is the remix album, featuring contributions fromNickodemusBoddhi SatvaCaptain Planet and others.
Sample track: Habibi Taal

Karima (Liberia / Italy) – 2G – Soupu Music

Also known as one half of the indie afrohouse duo Pepesoup, Liberian-Italian vocalist Karima Gehnyei pulls no punches with her audacious brand of social and political commentary over hard beats.
Sample track: Jambo Bwana

Rocky Marsiano (Portugal) – Meu Kamba – Akwaaba Music

Lisbon-based producer D-Mars, aka Rocky Marsiano, dived deep into the collection of vinyl aficionado Rui Miguel Abreu and emerged with this sparkling roundup of tracks based on classic ditties from Cape Verde, Angola, Mozambique and Sao Tomé.
Sample track: Esse Mambo

Mestre Cupijó e Seu Ritmo (Brazil) – Siriá – Analog Africa

An invigorating compilation documenting the little-known musical legacy of Mestre Cupijó, the progenitor of the little-known genre of Siria, a fusion between the music of the quilombos, and the indigenous people of the Amazon rainforest.
Sample track: Tubarao Branco

Sacassaia (Brazil) – Boca de Terra – Independent (Website)

Two years in the making, and with Renato Matos as their newest member, Brasilia-based Sacassaia release their electric second album, one heavy on afro-brazilian influences.
Sample track: Dizeres Desertos


Borchi (Mexico) – Ihcrob – Self-released
Ibeyi (Cuba/France) – Oya – XL Recordings
Okmalumkoolkat (South Africa) – Holy Oxygen I – Affine Records
Narcy (Canada / Iraq) – Nargisee – Self-released
Clap! Clap! (Italy) – Tambacounda – Black Acre


Seun Kuti & Egypt 80 @ The Phoenix, July 2014, Toronto.
The groove in afrobeat music hangs on that delicious tension between all of the various rhythmic elements. Seun‘s band locked together right from the downbeat. Props to openers the Asiko Afrobeat Ensemble and to Egypt 80’s superlative shekere player.
Highlight of the show: I.M.F.

Fredy Massamba @ The Blueprint Lounge, May 2014, Montreal.
Full disclosure: I was also DJing this afro-soul themed night, which turned out to be a fine semi-acoustic showcase featuring local artists VeebyCarineand Ekinoxx collaborating on stage with a fired-up Fredy Massamba, in town promoting his second album, Makasi.
Highlight of the night: Nkembo, and also when he did his empty whisky bottle blowing routine, giving Marie Daulne a run for her money

Malika Tirolien @ Lion d’or, September 2014, Montreal
The long-awaited solo debut from the high priestess of the Kalmunity Collective was a family affair, featuring guest spots from EmricalRawniaX-Wam and a stacked band of KVC regulars. It also thrust Malika’s brilliant keyboard and compositional skills into the spotlight.
Highlight of the show: Sew

Tabou Combo @ Nuits d’Afrique, July 2014, Montreal
The excitement was palpable as I elbowed my way into the crowd at the Parterre des Spectacles for the closing concert of the Nuits d’Afrique festival. None of the 10000+ in attendance went unsatisfied, chanting most of the lyrics en masse. Timeless.
Highlight of the show: Lakay

Noura Mint Seymali @ Joe’s Pub, July 2014, New York
The daughet and musical protégé of one of my personal musical heroes, Dimi Mint Abba, did not disappoint with a tight, tour-polished set in the intimate confines of Joe’s Pub in Manhattan.
Highlight of the show: Hebebeb Zrag, and the stoic bass player

Oy @ Montreal Jazz Festival, June 2014, Montreal
Swiss-Ghanaian vocalist and producer Joy Frempong, surrounded by an array of electronic talismans, and backed by mysterious drummer Lleluja-Ha, delivered a witty, eclectic set that won over the crowd of thousands at the outdoor stage of this year’s FIJM.
Highlight of the show: Hallelujah! Hair!

Mo Kolours’ Drum Stalking Mix
DJ Gioumanne’s Afro Cosmic Club Volume 2
Future Sound of Mzansi mixtape series curated by Fantasma and Spoek Mathambo
DJ Lynnee Denise presents Afro-Digital Migration: House Music in Post-Apartheid South Africa Volume 2
DJ Rhythm & Hues’ Disco Duniya All-Vinyl Bollywood Mix

CKUT’s Year-End Faves

Chances are you’ve already perused the CKUT Top 100 Albums of 2014, compiled from the freeform programming that our kickass volunteers put together 24 hours per day, 365 days a year. Now it’s time to get subjective: we’re turning things over to CKUT staff to share their favourite albums of 2014. Some lists are ordered, some are not. This doesn’t have anything to do with airplay, and we’ll fully admit any bias in our choices — but you dig what you dig, and these are the records that made our ears happiest over the past twelve months.

CKUT Music Librarian and Underground Sounds host Nick
Kara Lease – A 480
Sea Oleena – Shallow
smileswithteeth – Everything Always
Loscil – Sea Island
Anjou – Anjou
Last Ex – Last Ex
Timber Timbre – Hot Dreams
Alden Penner – Exegesis
Girls In Uniform – “.” (Full Stop)
Michael Feuerstack – Singer Songer
V/A – CKUT Total Eclipse Compilation
Sean Nicholas Savage – Bermuda Waterfall
Kyle Bobby Dunn – Kyle Bobby Dunn and the Infinite Sadness

CKUT News Coordinator and Roots Rock Rebel host Aaron Maiden
1. Bruce Lee Band “Everything will be alright, my friend” (Asian Man Records)
2. The Planet Smashers “Mixed Messages” (Stomp records)
3. The Interrupters “S/T” (Hellcat records)
4. Roger Rivas “Autumn Breeze” (Jump Up Records)
5. Brooklyn Attractors “Good Evil Alchemy” (Jump Up Records)

CKUT Production Coordinator Marc
#1 Tang Soleil ASMRSPEEDBOATS 7″
#2 to 5:
Full Course – Entree
Ultrathin – S/T LP
St Vincent S/T
Sonny Do – Veilles HIstoires

CKUT Arts & Culture Assistant Rachel
Fet.Nat – Poule Mange Poule
Grime Kings – Honeymooning
Telstar Drugs – Endless Strait
Amen Dunes – Love
Last Ex – Last Ex
Brazilian Money – B$
Lee Paradise – Water Palace Kingdom
Doomsquad – Kalaboogie
Crosss / Soupcans – Lathe split
WTCHS – It’s Not a Cross, It’s a Curse!
Lungbutter – Extractor
I Smell Blood – Manface
You’ll Never Get to Heaven – Adorn
Flash Palace – Ceiling All
Old and Weird – What I Saw

CKUT IT Coordinator and Lo Signal host Mike
Sabota – Sabota LP (Hybridity Music)
DAAT – HVAC LP (Detuned Transmissions)
Le Révélateur – Extreme Events (Root Strata)
Woulg – Thin Veil (Outlier Recordings)
Project Pet – Orange (East Van Digital)
CMD – Elementals EP (Fur Trade Recordings)
Sergio Levels – Sergio Levels EP (Substation Recordings)
Cabaal – APEX (Self-Released)
Kline – Mirror (Low Indigo)
Philippe Beauch – Beautiful Monster EP (Self-Released)

CKUT Volunteer Coordinator Olivia
Freddie Gibbs/Madlib – Piñata
The Stand4rd – The Stand4rd
Spooky black – Leaving (EP)

CKUT Number-Cruncher Johnny
1 Fistula – Vermin Prolificus
2 Eyehategod – Eyehategod
3 Nashville Pussy – Up The Dosage
4 Body Count – Manslaughter
5 Brant Bjork – Black Power Flower

CKUT Music Coordinator Joni
Hi Sheriffs of Blue – NYC 1980 (Feeding Tube)
Grouper – Ruins (Kranky)
Ought – More Than Any Other Day (Constellation)
Koudede – Guitars From Agadez Vol. 7 (Sublime Frequencies)
The Miami Dolphins – Becky (Records For Practically Everyone)
Loscil – Sea Island (Kranky)
Maica Mia – Des Era (Self-released)
Kyle Bobby Dunn – Kyle Bobby Dunn and the Infinite Sadness (Students of Decay)
Myriam Gendron – Not So Deep As A Well (Mama Bird)
Paul Flaherty & Chris Corsano – Low Cost Space Flights (Feeding Tube)
Perfect Pussy – Say Yes To Love (Captured Tracks)


Behind the Scenes @ Venus Radioke

The annual Venus Radioke extravaganza is one of the city’s best-loved radio events, and we had a pretty special edition of it last week as part of CKUT’s Funding Drive. Here’s a behind-the-scenes glimpse at the magic that went down here in our on-air studio, featuring members of amazing local bands Heathers, the Femmaggots, Cheap Wig, and many others behind the mic.

Venus airs live every Thursday from 12-2pm EST. And don’t forget, it’s not too late to donate to Venus (or any other CKUT program) if you want to show some support!