Tag Archives: Soraya Mamiche Afara


Album Review: Tim Darcy – Saturday Night


Saturday Night is the first solo album by Ought singer/guitarist and former CKUT music librarian Tim Darcy. Performing under his own name, Darcy abandons his speak-singing techniques and develops a smooth and mesmerizing vocal energy. Accompanied by idiosyncratic instrumentals and delivered by means of beautifully delicate lyrics, Darcy’s vocals on Saturday Night spellbind the listener and give the album its ethereal feel.

The album’s opening track, “Tall Glass of Water,” is an upbeat tune displaying energy reminiscent of Lou Reed’s Transformer. However, it is with the album’s second track, “Joan Pt 1, 2,” that Darcy begins to shed his Ought aesthetic and reveal his individual sound. After two minutes, the song’s initial character fades and a new one – the cryptic crooner – is unleashed. From this point onwards, Darcy’s enigmatic vocals stay at the core of Saturday Nights musical exploration.

On “Still Waking Up,” Darcy succumbs to his inner love-sick crooner. In doing so, he fuses a Roy Orbison-esque southern charisma with a more whimsical cadence, fomenting a vocal tenderness unique to the rest of the album.

That being said, the crux of Darcy’s vocal resonance shines through on tracks where he evokes the voice of Tim Buckley. Though done in an eerier vein, Darcy successfully harnesses Buckley’s beguiling vocal richness, highlighting his ability to transform the quintessential Americana voice into something simultaneously sweet and haunting. With the track “Found My Limit,” Saturday Night’s themes of rustic Americana converge with more uncanny lyrical content. Darcy’s wistful vocals, intertwined with the subtle plucking of a guitar, foster an almost Lynchian atmosphere. On the album’s title track, Darcy’s ghostly vocals are webbed into a volatile instrumental: the twangs and screeches of the song’s wavering instrumental echoes the experimentalism of White Light/White Heat-era Velvet Underground. Meanwhile, with “Saint Germain,” Darcy’s voice maintains a trance-like calmness that cuts through the instrumental clamor and perpetuates the album’s overall unearthly feeling.

Ultimately, Darcy’s solo project is wildly imaginative. Darcy takes an element of fanciful bizarreness and imbues it with a rural spirit, fusing more traditional Americana with elements of the avant-garde. At times, Darcy’s attempt to cover so much ground in one album may lead to it being slightly convoluted; however, Saturday Night ultimately succeeds as a wholly enthralling listen.

Tim Darcy plays with Molly Burch at Bar Le Ritz PDB (179 Jean-Talon O) on Saturday, Mar. 4, 11 p.m., $13

– Review by Soraya Mamiche Afara


Concert Review: Cate Le Bon @ Le Ritz P.D.B.


Hurrying into the dimly lit venue, I yanked my gloves off and prepared my wrist for the stamp of the week – tonight Cate Le Bon was playing at Bar Le Ritz. Stamped and ready to go, I squeezed through slivers of space amongst the crowd and made my way to the middle of the venue. Tim Presley’s set was over, and murmurs engulfed the room. However, once the back door began to creak open, a hush fell over the audience. Within seconds, Le Bon and her band, clad in black, appeared and swiftly made their way to the center of the stage. Le Bon then leaned into the mic and announced that Tim Presley would be joining them on drums. The original drummer was, unfortunately, unable to perform due to immigration issues. Nonetheless, with that, Presley, garbed and face-painted in bright white, made his way to the drums. Though divergent in terms of dress, Le Bon and her band, including Presley, were determined to beguile the crowd.

Amongst the variety of songs played throughout the night, the tracks off of Crab Day (Le Bon’s most recent LP) could be identified by their shrill twang harkening back to late ‘60s rock. Opening with “Crab Day,” the band shattered the silenced room with an electrifying guitar intro. A voltaic beat was set free, and the crowd succumbed immediately. Other Crab Day gems followed: with “Wonderful,” Le Bon and her band fused a distinct Kinks influence with the eccentricity of Roxy Music. This bizarre concoction left the crowd both enthralled and energized. With “Love Is Not Love,” the emphasis switched from instrumental to vocals. Le Bon’s sweet yet haunting voice seeped to every corner of the room, charming listeners on its way.

If the tracks off of Crab Day were bound by hints of the Kinks, then the tracks off of Rock Pool (Le Bon’s most recent EP) are welded by elements of the Velvet Underground and Nico. “Aside From Growing Old,” arguably my favorite track of the night, paired melancholic lyrics with an energized tune. At first, Le Bon’s soft and somewhat ghostly vocals, bearing traces of Nico, gently beckoned the audience; however, within moments, the tender melody shed its skin and unleashed Le Bon howling the ever-so relatable lines “What’s the problem, I’m losing my mind.” Moreover, with “I Just Wanna Be Good,” Le Bon’s heartfelt lyrics were at their peak. As the show progressed it became clear to me that the crux of Le Bon’s vocal allure is rooted in the genuine sentiment that comes through when she sings.

Nevertheless, the show’s inevitable end was fast approaching. Le Bon’s farewell – a soft-spoken “merci beaucoup” – was met by the howls of a happy crowd. Through her wistful and zany ways, Le Bon captivated her audience and once again, Bar Le Ritz hosted a lovely refuge from a numbing Montreal winter’s night.

– Review by Soraya Mamiche Afara


Album Review: Tasseomancy – Do Easy


Do Easy is the third LP by Toronto-based band Tasseomancy. Together, twins Romy and Sari Lightman (vocals) along with Evan Cartwright (drums) and Johnny Spence (piano, synth) devise an album inspired by William S. Burroughs’s notion of “Do Easy” from his piece The Discipline of DE. Here, Tasseomancy take this philosophy — the belief that, to control our self-destructive id-like features, we must live in the easiest and most relaxed way possible — and transform it into a blend of prog-pop tinged with folk and goth elements. Ultimately, this synthesis of diverse sounds framed by Burroughs’s philosophy sets the album’s confounding yet hypnotic feel.

Kate Bush’s stylistic influence runs rampant throughout the veins of Do Easy’s anatomy. As if the dramatic pop queen was their muse, Tasseomancy contrive a series of beguiling tracks reminiscent of Bush’s most enchanting melodies. With their opening track, “Dead Can Dance & Neil Young,” Tasseomancy deliver a phantasmal tune emulative of Bush’s “Wuthering Heights.” Complemented by mellow piano, the Lightman twins’ voices capture a tender uncanniness that leaves the listener spellbound. On “Missoula,” Tasseomancy harness a folk-like vocal energy with a progressive beat and drifting saxophone. The combination of varying sounds spawns a mystical tune remindful of Bush’s “Sensual World.”

Although it draws heavily from these ‘80s pop touchstones, Do Easy upholds an individual sound. With “Wiolyn,” Tasseomancy references a variety of distinctive genres. At first, the smoky sweetness of the Lightman twins’ vocals, paired with a satiny synth-driven instrumental, elicit similarities to a slowed down, eerier version of “You Keep Me Hangin’ On” by Diana Ross and the Supremes. Later in the album, “29 Palms” finds the Lightman twins choose to diversify their vocals by toying with enunciation and timbre. The idiosyncrasy crafted by the haunting voices and gentle ripples of saxophone sustains the album’s fanciful quality.

Throughout its entirety, Do Easy is a dance between ghostly and charming – a duality which is at the core of the album’s allure. With their languid yet wistful strain of prog-pop, Tasseomancy induce a calming reverie, capturing the relaxed state Burroughs’ philosophy promotes. If stricken with escapist yearning, then a listen to Tasseomancy’s Do Easy might prove to bring a most whimsical respite.

– Review by Soraya Mamiche Afara



Album Review: Squanto – Rose Gold


Rose Gold is the debut album by Calgary band Squanto. Together, Bobby Henderson (vocals, guitar, and bass), Wil Moralda (keys), Derick Lodovica (drums), Duncan McCartney (saxophone), along with Kat Westermann, Jolene Marie, and Connor Mead (backing vocals), contrive an album flooded with undertones of funk, jazz, disco, synthpop, and occasionally folk-rock. Although the album is quite multi-faceted, the crux of Rose Golds charm lies in its intricate and diverse instrumentals.

The opening track, “Act Your Age” melds the carefree strumming of ‘70s folk-rock with the spry synths and keys of early ‘80s synthpop. Despite the overt folk-rock and synthpop influence on this track (and Rose Gold as a whole), Squanto’s blending of distinct genres and Henderson’s youthful yet gravelly vocals manage to strike a contemporary sound. The height of Squanto’s experimentation is found on “Comin’ Down,” where the band concocts its most elaborate instrumental. The track commences with a sprightly jazz-pop tune; however, halfway through the piece the saxophone pierces through and ushers in a thick jazz melody. McCartney’s saxophone is reminiscent of a much tamer and more primitive version of Dick Parry’s magnetic saxophone on The Dark Side of the Moon (particularly “Us and Them”).

Compared to the rest of the album, the track “Jade Green” experiments less with its structure and sound. That being said, Henderson’s raspy vocals coupled with a funky instrumental produce a groovy melody that is memorable in its own right. Album closer “Times A Thief” finds Squanto crafting a gentle tune, evocative of quintessential early ‘70s folk-rock. Though distinct from the rest of Rose Gold, this simple, almost pastoral track delicately draws the album to a close.

Rose Gold is strewn with buoyant melodies containing hints of disco, synthpop, and a dash of folk-rock. On the whole, the album exudes a very youthful feel, which is probably due to its grainy production and lackadaisical style. Nonetheless, the album’s laid-back quality doesn’t deter from Squanto’s embellished instrumentals and makes Rose Gold an ideal listen for a lazy Sunday morning.

– Review by Soraya Mamiche Afara


Album Review: Rakam – Triomphe Seul


       Triomphe Seul is the second LP by local band RAKAM (comprised of Marc-André Roy, Simon Quevillon, and Einar Jullum). The album’s quirky blend of experimental and electronic pop with a tinge of jazz perpetuates a charming silliness fuelled by wacky synths and playful vocals.

            “Nouvelle Flüte” and “Hillup! Jeune” are prime examples of the album’s joyous bizarreness. In “Nouvelle Flüte” and “Hillup! Jeune” Roy adopts a David Byrne-like charisma that’s backed by experimental pop instrumentation. However, with “Buildings on Demand” and “Triomphe Seul” RAKAM hone in on the album’s tamer new wave and synthpop elements.“Buildings on Demand” fuses animated Devo-esque beats with vocals akin to Andy Partridge of XTC (think “Senses Working Overtime”). Meanwhile, “Triomphe Seul” harnesses a fuzzy transmission-esque tonality reminiscent of The Buggles classic “Video Killed the Radio Star.” RAKAM also highlight their jazzier side with “Law School Dropout,” where they foster a whimsical melody sprinkled with blasts of saxophone. Yet, straying from Triomphe Seuls overall idiosyncratic sound are the dreamy instrumentals “Beresford Overture” and “Cowboy’s Universal.” With “Beresford Overture” the band develops a synth melody reminiscent of the instrumental in Mac DeMarco’s “Chamber of Reflection.” Then, on their final track, “Cowboy’s Universal,” RAKAM lace synth pop with folky undertones and gently draw their album to a close.

To some, RAKAM’s experimental eccentricity, though fresh and daring, may be slightly inaccessible. Nevertheless, Triomphe Seul exudes a sense of playful warmth that is hard to come by. Those looking to remedy a bland palette of listening will find much to love with RAKAM’s latest offering.

– Review by Soraya Mamiche Afara

sonic avenues

Album Review: Sonic Avenues – Disconnector

sonic avenues

Disconnector is the fourth studio album by local band Sonic Avenues (comprised of Maxime Desharnais on guitar and vocals, Jamie Desjardins on bass, JC Niquet on drums, and Seb Godin on guitar). With this record, Sonic Avenues succeed in developing a tamer strain of punk-pop, ultimately resulting in a more mature sound than their previous efforts. Unlike its three predecessors, Disconnector’s novelty lies in its ability to fuse modern punk-pop with late ‘70s new wave.

Drawing from the band’s punk roots, hints of the Buzzcocks are interwoven throughout Disconnector’s patchwork. This is most evident in tracks “Future” and “Monotonic” where Desharnais’ voice channels the piercing vocals of both Howard Devoto and Pete Shelley. Moreover, the twangy instrumental in “Dancing in the Sun” emulates the shrill acidity of late ‘60s rock (think The Kinks’ “Till The End Of The Day”). However, it is in tracks “Burn Like Fire,” “Where No One Falls,” and “Defective” where the band plunges into the shimmering pool of ‘70s new wave and reveals the crux of their album’s experimentation. The opening riff in “Burn Like Fire” electrifies the listener with a melody reminiscent of The Strangler’s “No More Heroes.” In “Where No One Falls” the band interlaces its punk-pop style with a trifecta of Devo, Gary Numan, and The Cars. Moreover, Sonic Avenues’ “Defective,” with its in Devo-esque overtones (think “Gut Feeling/(Slap Your Mammy)”), is a fiery concoction of new wave with a tinge of punk that could effortlessly slip into the soundtrack of any given Wes Anderson film.

Owing to Sonic Avenues’ unprecedented decision to incorporate lighter new wave with its usual mix of punk-pop, the band’s fourth studio album lacks their previous angst and unruliness. Nonetheless, if you’re in search for an easy listen with lots of hooks and a dash of new wave nostalgia to complement your sunny Saturday afternoon, then give Disconnector a listen.

– Review by Soraya Mamiche Afara

pang attack

Album Review: Pang Attack – North Country Psychic Girls


pang attackNorth Country Psychic Girls is the first LP by local band Pang Attack (comprised of David Clark on bass and keys, Yann Geoffrey on drums, and Alex Hackett on guitar and vocals). The title’s ambiguity perpetuates a fuzziness that is befitting to the album’s overall sound. For roughly 35 minutes, the album spawns a dynamic dream sequence that captivates the listener despite its incongruity. Although bound by the common thread of shoegaze and psych-pop, each track distinguishes itself from the rest by placing the listener in a different setting. In other words, the band escorts the listener on a trip through a boundless mind (as pictured on the album’s cover) with each song acting as a different turn on the way.

The journey commences in “Monk Song” with a synth-based opening akin to 1960s spaceship noises. In seconds the semi-galactic beat transforms into a twangy tune laden with spaghetti western undertones. In a matter of minutes, we, the listeners, are swept up from wandering through a desert on horseback and reeled into “Stranger’s Song” where the trio, now accompanied by Erik Hove on sax and the Kate Maloney String Quartet, devise a sound reminiscent of The Smiths. Hackett’s voice, although not as whiny as Morrissey’s, harnesses a similar charisma which he maintains throughout the album. Soon another turn is made with “Frailty Revisited” where we’re drawn into a dimly lit room for a lovesick slow dance while cradled by an understated instrumental. Nonetheless, when this contemplative soirée comes to a close, we’re met by the haunting “Invaded Heart” bearing similarities in both sound and poetics to Billy Bragg and Wilco’s “Blood of the Lamb.” Then, with the summoning of trumpets, we’re consumed by the whimsical “North Country Psychic Girl.” In this dream pop gem, Hackett’s magnetic Moz-esque voice reveals nuances of that of Arctic Monkeys singer Alex Turner. With another sudden shift, Pang Attack plunge into “Mr. Mandible” where they foster a more recognizable blend of indie rock, channeling the likes of Kurt Vile and The War on Drugs. However, once the rendezvous with “Mr. Mandible” is complete, we’re beckoned by the melancholic “Hope Nights” to a lovelorn dive alike the one in “Frailty Revisited.” Here we’re entranced by a melody remindful of Pink Floyd’s “Brain Damage.” Although most likely a far stretch, the Pink Floyd reference acts as a sort of prelude to the finishing track “Time and Dementia.” Enveloped by a fuzzy calm, we wake up from our trance and digest the hypnotic journey until we’re shown to the exit by dissonant synths and strings.

Clark, Geoffrey, and Hackett, with the help of numerous contributors, conceived an album both labyrinthine in design and nostalgic in sound. Due to the album’s complexity and variability, each track elicits a unique palette of emotions and conjures an entirely different spectrum of thoughts. Therefore, if one hankers a trip down the rabbit hole of sentimental bizarreness, then a listen to Pang Attack’s North Country Psychic Girls is recommended.

– Review by Soraya Mamiche Afara 


Concert Review: Saxsyndrum @ POP Montreal


Snuggled between a strip-club and a vegan café lies the intimate new venue Mademoiselle.

Tired and tipsy, I hop up the stairs and into the room.

Faint neon fixtures and stage light illuminate the space just enough for me push my way to the center of the crowd.

In front, the stage sprawls out surrounded by crimson fringe.

On stage, three musicians revel in the limelight.


Creeping into audibility, the hums of the synth usher the crowd to a calm.

Bergeron, crouched on the floor, leans into the mic.

A soft whisper passes through his lips.

Within moments, the indiscernible slivers of his voice transform into a blaring roar.

Suddenly, blasts of alto sax pierce through the thickening sound.

Mild patters of a drum intensify, attempting to tame the band’s mercurial beat.

Together, A.P. Bergeron (vocals), Dave Switchenko (saxophone), and Nick Schofield (drums) galvanize their spellbound crowd.


Mid-set, a girl in the front row, full pint in hand, professes her boozy love for the band.

“Dave, I love you!”

He shakes his scarlet curls out of their plastic grip.

A gratified smirk flashes across his face.

Bergeron giggles.

Schofield grins.

Howls erupt.

A group to my right begins chanting.

“Saxsyndrum! Saxsyndrum!”

The crowd wants more.


For the duration of the set, the trio maintains total control over the crowd.

The audience is swept into a trance, engulfed by the song.


Saxsyndrum’s fusion of synth pop and electronic with funk undertones flooded to every corner of the room. The band’s absurdly wondrous energy spread throughout the venue and persisted even after the set came to a close. The crowd, unwillingly accepting the night’s end, lingered until the main lights came on. As I stepped back out into the chilly brink of Saturday night, the consensus appeared to be as such: if you realize a late night craving for a local strain of transcendental-electronica, then a night with Saxsyndrum will quench your thirst.

– Review by Soraya Mamiche Afara