This is a musicblog. Every weekday we post a couple of mp3s and write about them. Songs are only kept online for a short time. This is a page from our archives and thus the mp3s linked to may not longer be available. Visit our front page for new songs and words.

September 30, 2013


Glitched news

The Dodos - "Confidence". At this point, the Dodos' name is a liability: they've lost almost all of their early silliness, replaced with a handsewn, earnest determination. At best, they are using their namesake bird as a different sort of symbol - evoking the totem's tragic, faraway expiration, not its arch, goofy mien.

Anyway: "Confidence". Yes, it's confident. It's confident and breathlessly rushing, much more Do Make Say Think than Visiter. Across almost five minutes, they move from a tolling, hopeful tribute to a ferocious mayday - Buddhist warnings over drums and black-charged electric guitars, fence-jump & steeple-chase, near-drowning & a seized raft. This band used to include Women's late, great guitarist Chris Reimer: here they do full credit to their departed friend, here they find sweet notes and set them alight.



Montrealers, go see my friend Basia Bulat play at Cabaret Mile End tomorrow night. Tall Tall Shadow is great, and I'm going to write about some of it as soon as I can.

(image via Glitch News)

Posted by Sean at 3:54 PM | Comments (2)

September 23, 2013

POP MONTREAL 2013: Ten Picks

Pop Montreal 2013

This September/October is too overwhelming a September/October to compose a complete Guide to Pop Montreal as I've done in previous years. (At the time of writing, I'm in Toronto as a Polaris Prize jurist.) If you're new to the festival, most of my introduction to last year's edition continues to apply - Montreal's still the same city, Pop Hopper and other festival passes still work in the same way, Pop's Symposium conference is still a neglected treasure, and my overall festival advice remains unchanged. That advice? Seek out the extraordinary. Screw any show where Pop is just one more stop on an act's touring route. Screw the shows where it's a couple of local acts playing the same old spaces. Find the least pedestrian of concerts, the follies that won't ever happen again - one-offs, rare bookings, special settings, or perfectly curated showcases. And don't run around so much that you don't have any fun.

Here are ten picks for this year's Pop Montreal:

  1. Songs of Darkness (Rialto, Sunday, 8pm - $25)
    As a critic, I find the concept of this concert hokey to the max: a one-off gig drawing from "[the musicians'] personal connection to the ubiquitous theme of darkness in music. An evening of not just acknowledgement, but celebration of the darkness that inhabits the music we hear every day and that exists within ourselves." The description evokes a clumsy high-school art project, something amateurish and tryhard.

    But musicians aren't writers, and they shouldn't be blamed when their earnest synopsis comes off like the intro to a DeviantArt gallery. Here, some of the city's great art-folk musicians will try to make something beautiful and powerful together, in one of the city's most beautiful performance spaces: AroarA, Little Scream, Patrick Watson, Sarah Pagé, Hans Bernhard, Joe Grass, Becky Foon (Saltland), Lil Andy, and more. I think this will be lovely.

  2. Killer Mike in conversation with Matt Sonzala(Pop HQ, Saturday, 5pm - free)
    This free Symposium event is a pretty extraordinary thing: Killer Mike, one of my favourite contemporary rappers, in a little room, with a (probably) small-ish crowd, talking about whatever we (and Sonzala, a former SXSW hip-hop boss) ask him. Could be one of those bonkers, brain-filling moments that only Pop makes possible. (See also similar 2013 festival talks with Yellowman, Dan Graham, Bernie Worrell/Fred Wesley, Tony Visconti, Shuggie Otis, etc.)
  3. Les Soeurs Boulay + Michael Feuerstack + Safia Nolin (Breakglass Studio, Sunday, 7pm - $10)
    In the intimate, magical Breakglass Studio, two exceptional acts. (I don't know Safia.) The Boulay sisters sing songs as sweet as tire d'érable, shot through with showy melancholy; they're also some of the most charismatic performers I've ever seen. Feuerstack, the singer-songwriter formerly known as Snailhouse, is one of the best lyricists making music right now. Still, these artists are an odd pairing: while both make folk-music, more or less, they seem to reside in completely different worlds. My hope/dream is that the Boulays and Feuerstack come together in a non-mun unexpected way: for laughs. Three of Montreal's best banterers, on a single bill.
  4. Li'l Andy in 3D + Sea Oleena (Rialto, Friday, 8pm - $18)
    Andy's a clear-eyed country singer, one of contemporary Montreal's musical fixtures. In 2008, this tall ladykiller played one of my favourite Pop Montreal concerts of all time - a late-night performance of Neil Young's Tonight's the Night. Here he is performing accompanied by an original 3D film - yes, 3D as in 3D-with-glasses, by Yves Bourgeois. He'll be joined by guests including Patrick Watson and Whitehorse, with an opening set by the promising phantom-folk singer Sea Oleena.
  5. Miracle Fortress + Seoul + Silverkeys + Mori (Rodos en Haut, Saturday, 8pm - $12)
    My pick for the best small, special, inexpensive local showcase. A handful of the city's great young bands: Miracle Fortress is unwavering, chilled-out (and a little hungry, I think). Mori are tender slinkers, Seoul are slowfade slowjam. And Silverkeys, making their live debut, are the new thing from my friend Adam "Amethysts" Waito. Cozy in for the night and hear new sounds. (The other local showcase that rings my bell is this one on Friday night, with Freelove Fenner, Pat Jordache and The Moment - all StG faves - but in a boring-er venue.)
  6. The-Dream + Mozart's Sister (Olympia, Friday, 8pm - $45)
    If this were 2011, this would be my number-one can't-miss essential festival gig: The-Dream, aka Terius Nash, one of R&B's great kings, and Mozart's Sister, aka Caila Thompson-Hannant, one of Montreal's most liberated musical heroines. The-Dream didn't just co-write Rihanna's "Umbrella" and Beyoncé's "Single Ladies" - as a solo act he he made three of this decade's best urban records, crass and lush, bizarre and singular, jewelled and sexy. Like a more hypnogogic R Kelly, maybe (only without the rhymes); or a frustrated, obsessive Justin Timberlake.

    But this is 2013, not 2011, and The-Dream's splendid album run has ended. His last two LPs, 1977 and IV Play, were pretty much worthless. His new songs droop and sag. His well of fresh sounds seems to have dried up. And as a performer, Nash was never that appealing - he can't dance, and he seems like a jerk.

    If this seems like an indictment, it sort of is - I wouldn't dare predict that this show will be worth the (steep) ticket price. But for those, like me, who are already fans, Friday night could offer a fascinating portrait of an artist we once adored. It's worth it if only to support Pop Montreal's risk-taking, and to see Caila take a big centrestage. Besides, maybe he'll play the old stuff.

  7. Leif Vollebekk + Angel Olsen (Ukrainian Federation, Friday, 8pm - $20)
    Vollebekk's North Americana is one of the albums of the year, tragically overlooked by the Polaris. Fresh from triumphant residencies at the Musée d'art contemporain de Montréal and New York's Rockwood Music Hall, he's back at home to headline perhaps his biggest-ever concert. That adjective - "biggest-ever" - is what makes this gig special. Leif's nervous about the UK Fed and those nerves are going to translate into an exceptional evening - with special guests, drums and strings, songs that crest and break, that don't ever feel safe. Chicago's ghostly Angel Olsen opens.
  8. Colin Stetson + Tim Hecker (Rialto, Thursday, 8:30pm - $22)
    Playing live, Tim Hecker doesn't do anything. He stands behind his laptop like an obelisk. He refuses to go easy on you: no distractions, no entertainments, no tools to decode the noise that's rising all around you. Hecker wants you to face these sounds exactly as you are, without help or adornment. (Sometimes - and hopefully, at the Rialto - he fills the room with smoke.)

    This is rarely easy. But if it's the right night, and you're in the right headspace, the experience is transformative. An hour with yourself, in the din, as Hecker summons weather. For me, it is best when I can stand - when I can stand and move around, travelling a hall, hearing the way the roaring sounds reflect and change throughout the angles of the room. For that alone - to hear the shape of Hecker's music, filling the Rialto - I would come to this gig.

    But then there's also Colin Stetson - devastating, inimitable, literally incredible. Bravely making an impossible music - singing whalesong and starsong through a damn piece of brass.

  9. Whoop Dee Doo!! (Pop HQ, Saturday, 2pm and 4pm - pay what you can)
    Kansas City's bonkers kids show Whoop Dee Doo!! lands in Montreal for a pair of parties that, I suspect, will push the gladdest buttons of any child or childlike grown-up. Josh Dolgin (Socalled) and Ruby Attwood (Yamantaka//Sonic Titan) are assisting - I predict magic, make-up, and lots of happy falling down.
  10. L'Ensemble d'Ondes de Montréal with Radwan Ghazi Moumneh, Marie-Jo Therio, and Patrick Watson (Ukrainian Federation, Wednesday, 8pm - $25)
    With the EOM celebrating its 37th anniversary, they are sending three ondes-martenot players to join a group of unlikely (and much younger) musicians: the arty folksinger Patrick Watson, Radwan Ghazi Moumneh (who makes experimental Arabic music with Jerusalem In My Heart), and Québec chansonnière Marie-Jo Thério. From what I understand, the ondists will be playing original music - adapting Moumneh's Middle Eastern scales or Watson's glassy melodies. Guaranteed singular, spectral and far-out.

Posted by Sean at 12:25 PM | Comments (0)

September 20, 2013


PUP - "Reservoir". A song that's made of two even things: anger and celebration. It's not an equal split - "Reservoir" is gladder than mad - but each aspect informs the other. PUP do not celebrate safely. They do not rage unkindly. They mosh and gnash, crest and crash, bare smiles and heft fists. Splashes of roaring guitar intro a chorus that's a kingdom, a victorious realm, pogo-ing in place until the peril of another verse. For all the volume and feedback, there's no mess, not really: this is exact & expert, precisely unbridled, tight as a good knot.

And "Reservoir"'s got a great video, directed by Chandler Levack, a Gramo-friend and past contributor to Said the Gramophone, and Jeremy Schaulin-Rioux. It's thrillingly shot, perfectly framed: a punk rock show falling mid-way between Jem Cohen's Fugazi doc and Peter Jackson's Dead Alive. If this were a real gig, PUP would never outlive it: the night they played through catastrophe, died and came back to life, made everyone's hearts grow two times larger.

[PUP at Bandcamp]

Posted by Sean at 4:18 PM | Comments (0)

September 18, 2013

Drake Loves Moms


Drake feat. Majid Jordan - "Hold On, We're Going Home"

It's easy to make fun. When Drake says he started from the bottom he does not mean in a Shopper's Drug Mart; also, some of you reading this aren't from Toronto, so you might not know how it works. We'll get to it. Anyway, I like this image: Earl Sweatshirt, stopped short in the doorway of the green room in a shitty club, watching Aubrey (grey sweatshirt, good jeans) with his hand on Tyler's mother's arm, smiling and staring right into her hair with his face all sincerely arranged. Is Drake serious? you might wonder, about anything. Moms do so much for us but Drake in his turn does almost nothing for them. Is that love? Staring up at the billboard/switch lanes/hear the static wave in. It's a good song for driving, for dark, but does it know the city? Can you use it to map? Put it this way: he loves our moms and that's funny or whatever but then again we aren't the ones getting up every evening in darkness and cold, lurching our spent bodies into the Bentley and crossing the city like dusk light, arriving late to the financial district, discreetly removing a manhole cover. Say what you will about Drake - about his past, about his flow, his commitment - but there is still no denying that he spends each night sitting under the financial district in a small, lightless chamber and pedaling hard until sunrise to power our city. Drake might love our moms but why shouldn't he? After all, it's still Drake in our space heaters, Drake keeping the cable connected, Drake iridescent, Drake on the drive home. Drake on the radio. Drake knows it all from the bottom like we'll never know our city. He's allowed to love our moms. He has earned it.

[Pre-Order from Insound]

Posted by Emma at 9:37 PM | Comments (0)

September 16, 2013


Her Royal Harness - "Mercenary Man". Forgive my summer lassitude; too much happening these days. Sometimes the sunsets feel like quickly-clicking closings, calendar days streaming, a life that's galloping over dunes. Things are getting away from you but you hope they're headed to a handsome place, somewhere inherently orderly, and not that everything's going to shit. Her Royal Harness's "Mercenary Man" seems pertinent here: charging, bloody, moderately complex. There's something mechanical in the shape of the beat, but the singing is emotive and flushed. It's demanding. Keyboard blips keep it from being too martial, gregorian synths provide a cave-like depth. It's either in the process of a triumph or it's quickly, quickly headed for defeat. [buy]


Montrealers: In 2008, me and a gang of friends founded a tiny, silly movie festival. Almost six years later, M60: the Montreal 60 Second Film Festival has become what is perhaps Canada's largest community film festival. Join us at one of our four 2013 screenings - Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday this week. 96 one-minute films, by Montrealers of all shapes and sizes, for just $8.

Posted by Sean at 11:48 AM | Comments (0)

September 12, 2013


Robin Thicke ft. Pharrell Williams - "Blurred Lines"

This summer was shitty, right? We can talk about this now that we're far enough out? I don't mean a metaphor when I say the badness of things was literally in the air - this kind of heinous low-pressure trough that trailed after us post-winter, latched itself quietly to the sky above our cities and stayed there from May through last week. I know I'm not making this up; I have done a straw poll and the only people I know who count their this-summer as exceptional managed it purely through travel, velocity, working their way out to the edges of the country. (Bad summers are cellphone reception; in the city they're part of the air, but the further away from the centre of things you are able to travel they slip away, out, by degrees.)

But for everyone else, I'm convinced, this whole season was nothing. Like, not even apocalyptic, not the worst summer ever - where at least if it was that you would get to be overwhelmed, fall apart, cry in public, feel the whole world bend around itself and fold in toward your problems for a minute, be a mess, fast, unfixable. Not even like that. This summer the best thing that could happen to you was that your basement didn't flood or that it did but just the once; you did not get to go on an amazing road trip but maybe you got to experience some personal growth; you did not fall in love like someone had pushed you down an escalator but you did take the new job and really learn a lot, really got some stuff under your belt. It wasn't the Beach Boys with the windows down, it was that every time you tried to take a nap some asshole would drive past your sublet blasting that song with the bassline that sounds like a lame dad joke and eventually you just had to close the window so you could stop thinking for ten minutes before it was time to get up and do the next thing. A bridge between winter and winter and nothing got broken.

Yesterday in Toronto it got hot again - the kind of summer-hot where just going outside and inhaling feels like you've wrapped your lips around the exhaust pipe of an idling bus - and even that seemed like a cruel trick, because yesterday was a Tuesday, and today was a Wednesday, and now it's raining, and now it's the nighttime, and by the time this goes up online it probably won't even be Wednesday anymore. What kind of fucking exuberant, life-embracing thing can you do on a Wednesday in September? Eat a nice lunch? Hydrate better? At this point the whole thing just feels more like attrition. Winter is coming and going to be soon, and forever, the same as it always is. There is nothing to be gained in trying to get the jump on things or by pretending. Out there they are already lying in wait for us - making beautiful anthems for our difficulties in advance, or trying to trick us into liking uninteresting things that sound like a room where a few slightly interesting things that we know are all echoing off each other. That's the theme, maybe - this summer, the music, the ghosts of good things. I don't really know what to do about all of this, honestly, except all the same boring shit I was doing all summer - buy some fall boots, fold my laundry, brace slightly, return the boots because they've got too much of a heel. They can't, as they say, all be winners, but still you can aspire. Call this one a draw, maybe, sweep the floor of your kitchen, update your calendar, remember to take out the recycling, but also play this as loud as you can in your car. The right bass line as tiny protest, corrective, for now. The next one will be better, possibly. Anyway. You've got to start somewhere.

Marvin Gaye - "Got To Give It Up.mp3"

Posted by Emma at 8:44 AM | Comments (3)

September 9, 2013


I'm stuck on a train, barred by wifi gods from uploading MP3s. And so I will do as every other mp3blog seems to do - share two streaming songs, with the ludicrous hope that after one or two plays, you'll buy them for real.

Yes, it may seem ludicrous; but still - do!

Young Galaxy - "Crying My Heart Out (edit)".

One of Young Galaxy's best-ever singles, which is saying something. While the radio edit might fit more neatly on a mix-tape, the original mix has room to sprawl. (To sprawl like glittering midnight.) Like Robyn's singles, like the Knife's pop peaks, "Crying My Heart Out" balances bitter and sweet, crispness and swoon, mechanical disco with watercolour blush. This is a band that has always known how to write a hook - here it has such a simple, beautiful architecture. Scattering beats, warm synths, a nod to Joy Division, Catherine McCandless's climbing voice. You put it on repeat you put it on repeat. It's not often that regrets can turn so precious.

Cass McCombs - "There Can Be Only One".

Cass, singing lazier than I've ever heard him, singing a song about love. He's made something I would wrap around my finger like a ring, that I'd wear up into the street or down into the forest, that I'd slip into one of this traincar's empty seat-pockets, for a stranger to find, one day, lucky.

Posted by Sean at 3:54 PM | Comments (0)

September 5, 2013


Photo by Thomas Prior

DEBT - "Already Gone". A doleful heart's ring. Noising, shearing, rocking like a crib. I don't mean a backhanded compliment when I say that the wisest thing is the way it's so short. These guitars have just enough time to hook in yr chest, to sweep like searchlights over memory. "Gone, already gone." And then gone. [Montreal's DEBT, already departed, featured members of Wind-Up People / bandcamp]

(photo by Thomas Prior)

Posted by Sean at 9:01 AM | Comments (0)

September 4, 2013

Back To School


Yo La Tengo - "You Can Have It All"

Dream: the National Student Loans Service Centre, not calling you. Engulfed in flames. Bright. Fast on purpose. Picture someone running their tongue all the way up your neck while pinning you to the wall with their free hand. Thirteen thousand slow miles of telephone cable sparking like stars at the ends and then melting together. A shame. Fourteen floors, sixteen ghosts, twelve square acres of ill-hidden mirror. Enough shattered glass. Set apart from its roots and adrift in the St. Lawrence seaway. Declining. A pyre. The horizon. In the morning in one sense the country will wake and be lighter one building. Not you. You'll be pulling its mass in your lungs circulation particular you will spend all of your life breathing letterhead in. Old T4s, bills, receipts. All that proves. Your own balance outstanding. Ontario's air signed and dated and sharp in your throat when you swallow. The whole country's reluctant permission enrolled in your bloodstream. Again and again. The National Student Loans Service Centre may die but knows nothing of death or escape or consent. You'll assume its ghost daily. Like prayer. A new organ. To be anxious in all is just only more breathing.

[Buy from Insound]

Posted by Emma at 5:17 PM | Comments (0)

September 2, 2013


Map glitch by Peder Norrby

Sam Amidon - "He's Taken My Feet". "I have trying to cultivate a new practice: I deliberately lose things. Deliberately as possible - slowly, carefully, with clear senses and vivid attention - I cast a thing away, where it is difficult to find. This is not a practice of abandonment - the act is more complicated than leaving something behind. Everything I lose I will try to find; I am only successful in losing if I am unable to find the thing, after. So far I have used seas, sewers, accomplices. I have not yet worked out what I expect to learn." [buy]


Still one day left for our CBC Radio Q contest, with tickets on the line for Q's live taping in Montreal, ft Sugar Sammy, Braids, Patrick Watson and more.

(image source)

Posted by Sean at 3:15 PM | Comments (3)