CKUT TOTAL ECLIPSE OF THE CHARTS::: April 4, 2017

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Greetings friends,
Last week I was lucky enough to catch a sold-out Leonard Cohen tribute where a whole crew of Montreal artists played renditions of their fave Cohen tracks. It was a pretty special experience, perhaps even more so given that the whole night was a fundraiser to buy a piano for local youth centre Dans La Rue. Many of our programmers, including Li’l Andy (above) and Katie Moore, participated in the event; what a great reminder of the talent we are lucky to have in the city – not to mention right here at CKUT.
xo
joni

:::WHAT’S UP AT CKUT:::
During the month April Jean Cousin, aka Joni Void, will be hosting The Montréal Sessions on CKUT every Tuesday from 3-5pm, leading up to the release of his forthcoming album Selfless on Constellation Records. For this special residency, Jean is presenting a series entitled Scapes: a “series of conceptual musical selection experiences.” We’ve been promised immersive mixes that aim to transcend genres and traditional radioplay, instead sounding more like a lucid dream broadcast. Intrigued? You should be.

:::CHARTS:::
ckut top 30 – april 4, 2017

1. tonstartssbandht – sorcerer – mexican summer
2. saltland – a common truth – constellation CC *
3. high plains – cinderland – kranky CC
4. philippe lauzier – a pond in my living room – sofa CC *
5. arto lindsay – cuidado madame – northern spy Continue reading

Scapes: the Montreal Sessions, April Edition

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During the month April, Jean Cousin, aka Joni Void, will be hosting The Montréal Sessions on CKUT, every Tuesday from 3-5pm, leading up to the release of his forthcoming album Selfless on Constellation Records.

For the Montréal Sessions, Joni Void presents Scapes: a “series of conceptual musical selection experiences.” Immersive mixes that aim to transcend genres and traditional radioplay, instead sounding more like a lucid dream broadcast.

These thematic sonic journeys include: Voxscapes, a vocal-based mix of songs that are almost entirely a-capella/only use voice; Livescapes, a compilation of Montréal live recordings, with a first hour dedicated to recordings made at La Plante/The Plant, an alternative space in which Jean resides and organizes events; Dronescape, focusing on drone and ambient music, including a live performance with other members of La Plante; Cityscape, a soundscape of Montréal with local field recordings and songs that directly reference the city; and finally Filmscape, a collage of diverse film samples, and soundtracks. These episodes will also feature some of Jean’s own music, from his different monikers/projects, even including some unreleased material.

Tune in and Join the Void.

School’s Out: An Interview with Carla Sagan

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A few weeks back, I sent an email to Carla Sagan, a local band partially responsible for “Supermoon Lunar Eclipse,” the recent Egg Paper Label release that has been sitting at the top of CKUT’s weekly chart as of late. I had listened to the EP and loved what I heard, so I decided to follow up on a rumour about the members of Carla Sagan being students themselves. Lo and behold, this proved to be true. Last Sunday, I got the chance to interview the group across from their practice space in Mile-Ex. The four members of Carla Sagan and I chatted about the intersection of academia and musicianship, the success of “Supermoon,” and what the band has planned for the upcoming summer. Continue reading

School’s Out: Alexia Avina

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A few weeks back I wrote a small piece on “Cups,” a short and sweet new song from Alexia Avina. Apparently, this was just the beginning of what looks to be a very exciting spring for Avina’s solo project. Most recently, she put out a music video for the song “If I’m the one that you need,” giving us the first taste of her upcoming release, the Surrender EP. The video is directed by Miriam Brellenthin, who “did an excellent job of capturing the song’s ephemerality and leaving the video as an open question – to love doesn’t always mean to hold,” according to Avina.

“If I’m the one that you need” is very minimalistic in terms of the use of lyrics, which are limited to the repetition of the song’s title in complicated harmonies over Avina’s wide vocal range. The variety of textures and ambient noises flowing in and out of the track provide the sonic complexities that make Avina’s work so interesting. The corresponding music video falls seamlessly into the warm, dreamy realm conjured by her signature soothing sound. A spectrum of colour filters and soft focused double-exposures set the visual compliment for the almost trance-like tone of “If I’m the one that you need.” Avina’s face dominates the video, shown in both soft morning light and hidden amongst sparkling visual filters in a pool of water. A straight-on shot of the artist mouthing the words to the song intimately links the lyrics back to Avina, deepening the emotional impact of the video and tying the visual/audio experience together.

Surrender, a split-EP with fellow Montreal act Desert Bloom, is set to be released on April 12th with an official release party hosted by Moon Boy Records. When I asked Avina what fans could expect from the new EP, she said that “with this batch of songs I felt myself coming full circle to my initial process of making music whereby writing and recording were deeply inextricable.” She believes that the unplanned character of the recording process remained true to the nature of her music. “Spontaneity and mistakes are what my music has always thrived off of,” she explained, which provided her with “a gentle reminder to myself to harness that.”

As the winter finally melts away, keep your ears tuned in for more stuff from Alexia Avina. I’m sure there will be a lot of magical tunes to get excited about.

– Feature by Nora Duffy

CKUT TOTAL ECLIPSE OF THE CHARTS::: March 28, 2017

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Hi radio,

Not much to report here this week — we’re nearing the end of the semester and many of our student volunteers are deep in final papers and exam prep, so it’s been pretty quiet around the station. This lull in the usual craziness gives us a nice chance to work on some big-picture ideas. It’s CKUT’s 30th birthday in the fall, and we’re cooking up some exciting plans to celebrate. Stay tuned… :)

Over the weekend I was lucky enough to catch a show featuring live debuts from three great acts, including sundogs (above), L’Ordre de l’Infiniment Nada, and dmr. I always find it inspiring to see acts hit the stage for the first time and totally crush it; it’s a good reminder of the creative and gutsy artists we are fortunate to have in abundance here in Montreal.

xo
joni

:::WHAT’S UP AT CKUT:::
We’re very excited to welcome Iranian-born, Montreal-based sound artists MP | vH+as our curators for our monthly experimental radio residency, If You Got Ears. Here’s what to expect, in their own words:

We are “MP | vH+”, and we invite you to take a trip with us to the farthest territories of computational sound art. We will point at aspects, approaches, questions and meditations on the different areas of “La music informatique”.

Most important, we will listen to music, some of them are composed and performed by ourselves, and the others are masterworks of contemporary music composed by others, only performed by us, using diverse methods, divergent techniques and different systems.

Welcome to our lab.

MP & vH+

Catch this very special program every Wednesday in April from noon – 2pm, or download the archive via ckut.ca.

:::CHARTS:::
ckut top 30 – march 28, 2017

1. saltland – a common truth – constellation CC *
2. xiu xiu – forget – polyvinyl
3. the painters/carla sagan – supermoon lunar eclipse – egg
paper factory CC *
4. tim darcy – saturday night – jagjaguwar CC *
5. anjou – epithymia – kranky  Continue reading

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

Feature: Supermoon Lunar Eclipse – The Painters + Carla Sagan

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Egg Paper Factory, darlings of Montreal’s independent record label scene, have released a new spring gem this week: a split-tape featuring The Painters and Carla Sagan, both local bands. Supermoon Lunar Eclipse spans just 7 tracks, so each will be detailed below for your listening pleasure. NB: Tracks by The Painters will be labeled (TP), and those by Carla Sagan will be labeled (CS). Bonne écoute!

The Painters embody a gentle folk band infused with a heavy dose of psychedelia; acoustic guitars ground the swirls of synth and lend a nice contrast to lead singer Alex Bourque’s vocals, which scratch along the tracks delivering raw, honest lyrics. Carla Sagan (yes, they seem to embody the female soul of renowned astroscientist Carl Sagan) is the ultimate funky rock-pop group who consistently produce an experimental and authentic sound.

1. Supermoon Lunar Eclipse (TP): jangling chords introduce the instrumental title track, and continue to mingle with the snarling electric guitars that rip along until the track fades out without much fanfare. The track is a good introduction to a unique split-tape that highlights a lot of what local Montreal bands have to offer.

2. Growing Pains (TP): In a personification of the title, this track features a drum line that is hesitant and faltering when keeping time with the acoustic guitars; however, the integration of electric guitar provides a warmer, more rounded coloring by the second stanza. The instrumental imagery evokes the defiant growth of a crocus in early spring.

3. Finish Line (TP): Bourque’s voice calls from a distance here before synth fades in, washing the track in a celestial glow; the effect provides a counterbalance for the low, grounded guitar work. The simple repeating vocal melody tethers the shifting instrumentals, pulling the track together as the different elements create an intricate three-part harmony.

4. When The Fog Lifts (TP): This track is easily The Painters’ tour de force, featuring simple, melodic vocals and beautifully abundant instrumentals. Bourque’s lyrics shine through here, and small, expertly-timed crescendos and decrescendos evoke the rolling ocean. A liquid electric guitar provides an overarching harmony to the vocals, and the two intertwine in an intricate duet over the constant thrumming background of guitars, synth, and drums.

5. Permanent (CS):  A duet of singing and spoken-word provides an air of candidness to this short track, while blunt, staccato drums and what sounds like a harpsichord add a playful aspect. The electric guitar solo in the last minute of the track is not to be underestimated.

6. Make Believer (CS): The track opens with a low, simmering burn accompanied by a recitation from Ellen Belshaw before drums and guitar kick in. “Hello’s” and little keyboard ditties play sporadically in the background before the track rights itself. Concrete melodies from the keyboard, guitar, and vocals begin to form before the track collapses again, with noise experimentation acting as punctuation.

7. White Noise (CS): Supermoon Lunar Eclipse ends with a brilliant track from Carla Sagan that highlights the push-pull relationship between instruments. A sharp beat is provided from a drum kit, acting as a foil for the flowing guitar and and synth. The track is a paradise of sound; soft duets intermingle with different musical effects, creating an air of experimentation and unbounded musical energy. Various phone recordings accompany a wild guitar and synth combination; the vocals slowly become more desperate as the track disintegrates into a wall of noise. The track never quite reaches a conclusion, but the build-up itself is intense and highly affirming.

Album released: March 21, 2017

review by Juliana Van Amsterdam 

 

Album Review: Century Palm – Meet You


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Toronto band Century Palm have just released their first LP Meet You, a nostalgic album that mixes garage punk with new wave influences. Simple yet catchy guitar riffs and fast paced, upbeat drum rhythms give the album a grungy feel, as if its sound was literally emerging from someone’s garage. These retro styles make Meet You a fun album, though not always an especially unique or distinct one.

Andrew Payne and Paul Lawton’s vocals are vital to the album’s sombre ambiance. The gloomy vocals, which sometimes veer closer to speaking than singing, are hypnotizing. In “Sick of It” the vocals even takes on a Lou Reed quality. Their deep morose voices combined with melancholic synths lend a distinctly new wave feel to the material. One of the most engaging parts of Meet You is the way those darker synths and the lighter guitar play off of each other. “King of John St.,” for example, begins with a high-pitched guitar riff that gives the song a playful quality while the lower synth provides the song’s depth. Halfway through, the synth and guitar switch roles, with the synth playing the high riff before ending on more sonorous sounds. This back-and-forth gestures towards one of the album’s recurring themes: something darker is always lingering below the surface.

While these individual songs are catchy, the album as a whole starts to feel somewhat repetitive. The upbeat guitar – one of the most enjoyable features in this album – tends to get a bit lost within the steady tempo and drum patterns. A saxophone in “Sick of It” is a welcome addition to the band’s instrumentation; the rest of the album could have benefitted from more of the sonic diversity it brings.

Almost hidden in the musical arrangements are the emotionally vulnerable lyrics. The album begins with a dark, horrifying description of anxiety and depression in “Reset Reaction,” a study that continues throughout the entire album. Of course, no such exploration by a Canadian band would be complete without a description of seasonal depression like the one found in the first verse of “King of John Street.” The use of the second person perspective throughout the lyrics makes it seem like the vocalist is addressing and questioning himself, a process similarly referenced by the album’s title. Payne explores the battle between who you think you are and who you might be, what you are and what you want to be, and what you feel yourself to be and how you present yourself on the outside. This duality of self is best displayed in “King of John Street,” where Payne sings, “Spending all my days in the east side / forgetting who I was on the other side / the Queen connects us, but I divide / don’t think I don’t think about it.” These geographic metaphors avoid heavy-handedness because of the nonchalant way in which Payne delivers them.

Meet You is an album steeped in interesting combinations: the driving garage punk rhythms mixed with the deep new wave synths and vocals, upbeat riffs paired with vulnerable lyrics. Though the garage punk and new wave influences help make for an engaging blend of styles, it’s not always enough; without much experimentation in tempo and instrumentation, Meet You at times feels a bit too safe.  

– Review by Ella Chatfield-Stiehler

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