Saturday, 27 June 2015

Seoul "I Become a Shade" album launch in Montreal

Show: Seoul album launch
Venue: 185 Van Horne, Montreal
Date: Friday, June 26th, 2015

The 185 Van Horne is a nice little niche except it can get really stuffy inside on warm and humid summer days. This bring your own beer small loft also has a back yard. Where V and I ended up while the first set, Kyle Bobby Dunn, was playing. You might of guessed that 185 Van Horne is on Van Horne. You've guessed right. Next to the train tracks.

185 Van Horne. View from the back yard.

That evening, as well as talking about guys, tinder and what not, we had this conversation on what it means creating for someone without being compensated. It kinda sucks actually. V and her friends, a few years back, made this beautiful video clip for the band Pang Attack. They accepted to not get payed in exchange for creative freedom. The end result was beautiful only the band didn't feel obligated to promote it and ended up making their own video out of the same song. I had a similar experience with close friends. They approached me to do an illustration for an album cover. Made many different covers only to find out that my friend's collage (beautiful nonetheless) was chosen for the cover. Wouldn't have bothered me as much had I been payed. Also, when you pay someone for creative work you feel more obligated to finish the work with that artist. You know... to get your money's worth. This is why doing something for free is not always recommended. Would just like to add that I love my friends dearly now (it has been a few years). F, having read all of my posts, is one of the few people to give pointers on my blog. Am as much a fan of his music as he is of this blog.

The reason I brought this up is, maybe 20 minutes later, Seoul took a few minutes out of their performance to thank the artist behind the album cover. Very thoughtful indeed.*

Seoul, I Become a Shade

They added "You know... Sometimes you do just what you really want to do... And then you get confused... and you fuck up. And you go back to do what you really want to do"** Amen in so little words.

Seoul I believe has been working on I Become a Shade for a few years now. This is apparent when listening. Everything fits in together to create one sound. You may not like the album (I like it) but the intention is clear.

It is a bit different live. Sounds, quiet on album, surfaces on live performances. All three of them sing. All three of them have their own voice. I wasn't aware of this when listening to the recordings. I think they should emphasize on that difference. Wouldn't it be awesome? "White Morning" is definitely my favorite track, you do hear some dissimilarities between the voices on that track.

It is an easy listening. You like it or you don't. Some album reviews talk about complacency. Maybe. About "being OK with getting lost in uncertainty". Am not ok with that state of mind but hey, you got to take a break once in while. No? "I Became a Shade" does the job just fine.

* On their facebook page."Today, our record is out ~ And where are the words to describe this day? 
The sheer amount of life and experience and change that has ridden shotgun through the creation and mounting of this record feels positively unfathomable to consider at once. Of course, it's the small moments that glow now - being crammed together into a freight elevator with all our equipment at the end of a long day and ascending the walls of a building in silence.
To our family, friends, loves, collaborators, fans, and incredible team helping out, thank you. All that is vital in you comes in contact with us and makes us bloom every day like resilient house plants. We are so grateful to exchange love and ideas in the way that we can.
 But there is a great mystery to songs that can never find translation in words, and so, without further ado - our guy,,,
~ I Become A Shade ~
may these songs be there for you as they have been for us.
in grace,
Julian, Nigel and Dexter"

** Thanks V for writing that down.

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Spoon | The Antlers | Théâtre Corona

Show: Spoon + The Antlers
Venue: Théâtre Corona
Date: Monday, June 22nd, 2015

Dreamt I was crying, didn't want the show to end.

Yesterday was simply memorable. Anything I write won't do it any justice. Attended the concert with friend V. Almost didn't happen. She managed to buy the two last tickets that day.

Let me tell you a bit about Montrealers before I start. Taking note of the weather on the eve of leaving a residence is quite common. « À ce qui paraît il va pleuvoir tout l'été »* were the first words my roommate uttered this morning as she looked at the clouds outside. If you are a performer and want to get the crowd's attention? You talk about the weather, not poutine.

Extremely talented musicians performing on a stage doesn't always conclude in a great show. Crowds have much to do with the outcome of an evening. For this event, we were on fire and I believe it has to do with the weather. We've had many cold and rainy days this summer. Yesterday it was warm and humid. A beautiful day concluding in a magical evening.

The Antlers have already begun as we enter the theater. It's about 10 past 8pm. I know, it's early.

The Antlers

We hear a completely different sound live. Performing can give artists a disadvantage. However, to The Antlers, it's an advantage. Every tone complements the other. Something I've never realized when listening to a recording. Making me wonder, are these albums overproduced? Whatever it is, the crowd is taken away. They will release a live album on limited edition vinyl promptly. Get it.

They finish their set and I walk over to the other side of the theater. Had spotted a guy who sang their songs throughout the whole performance. As I get there though I lose sight of him. Think I see him five minutes later. Approach him. "Excuse me are you the guy who sang all those songs by heart?". Turns out it's not him and I look weird.

Arrives the main act on stage. And of course there are screams and applause's. The music is excellent. Catchy. Am afraid to say I only know They Want My Soul, Spoon's latest album. So what I hear is mostly new. Am having the time of my life nevertheless.

Crowd is much younger in the first rows. Their over excitement doesn't bother me as is the case sometimes. Mood is just too good for me to be bothered by a small mosh. They even held spoons in the air. How can you not like them?

Spoon and spoons

Favorite song of the evening? "Two Sides of Monsieur Valentine" from album Gimme Fiction.

Spoon finishes their set but of course there will be an encore. Doesn't dissuade a fan though to take the mic and scream "Come back! One more song!".

The band reappears on stage for a few songs. Britt, the lead singer, mentions it's been a while since they headlined a show in Montreal. "We should come back more often". Of course you should come back more often!

After the encore. A thankful crowd. A great show.

The evening ends and my friend snatches the setlist on stage. Also manages to have Britt sign it, with my help of course.

Jeez am I a fan now.

* Apparently it will rain all summer

Saturday, 20 June 2015

Mumblr | Fullblood | Divan Orange

Show: Mumblr + Fullblood + Ghost Vines
Venue: Quai des Brumes, Montreal
Date: Friday, June 20th, 2015

Had lots of options yesterday. There was a party at a friend's house. Mozart's Sister and Kroy at the Divan Orange. Mumblr at the Quai des Brumes. Also Lower Dens at the Ritz but that was too far considering I finished working downtown at 11pm. Was planning on going to the party on Beaubien street but the gum I was chewing nauseated me. My friends and I were in a cab on Saint-Denis corner Mont-Royal when I realize the show was still going on at the Quai des Brumes. Leave my friends thinking if I don't feel any better I could just walk home from there.

Don't know Mumblr. My friend V recommended I go there. Enter the bar as Fullblood, a band from Trois-Rivières, is playing. Not the kind of band that would play at the Quai des Brumes as A, an acquaintance I keep bumping into at shows, was saying. They were bare chested. That wasn't a problem. Had blood all over them. That wasn't a problem either.

The place was a bit empty as Fullblood was playing.

I guess it's the music the problem. Or more precisely the live performance. Cause on tape it all sounds fine.

Took me back to a karaoke night with colleagues at a bar. A guy there kept stealing the mic to sing pop songs but with so much roughness in the voice. Luckily at the Quai des Brumes the singer wasn't off key. Tastes or so subjective.

Conversing with A while we wait for Mumblr to play. An ex-member of the band Tang Soleil, he was asked to leave because of some disagreements. Tang Soleil didn't play enough gigs even if the opportunity presented itself and that frustrated him.

It is a great band even if you don't always understand what Matt, the lead singer, is saying. You can clearly understand the voice over on this video though. Effing sucks.

The Philly band Mumblr starts playing and am a bit disappointed. The thing is they're good at what they do. Just not my type of music. Reminds me of punk rock (or pop punk?) from the 90's which I never really enjoyed. Should've known what I was expecting.


There's a naiveness in that type of music that bothers me a bit. And it is exactly what they want to sound like as lead singer explains (about album Full of Snakes): "It attempts to capture the coming of age experienced before the tipping point of adulthood. It also speaks to the subtle change in the consciousness of America’s youth in a post 9-11 world."

The last song played was from their upcoming album. Enjoyed a bit more. A 70's vibe added. Drums and guitar not as repetitive. Improvisational I would even dare to say.

Walked back home without any nausea. Thankfully. Am not a big fan of chewing gum to tell you the truth.

Wednesday, 17 June 2015


I'd like to point out that I don't listen to new releases exclusively. Since my posts concern mostly young artists, a few have assumed my musical knowledge is limited to the 21st century. Not true. Grew up listening to my dad's favorite cd's while driving around California. The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, Van Morrison, Aretha Franklin, Miles Davis, Mose Allison, Robert Johnson, Muddy Waters, Cannonball Adderley, and so on. I could write on how listening to Karen Dalton is perfect for rainy days or how, as I did in my teens, Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon is perfect for dozing off (I mean this in a good way). But I won't discuss that. This blog covers live performances. Whether the artists mentioned are talented or not.

Las Vegas

A California beach

On the road  (California)

One reason for writing about current music is my financial situation. Would love to watch Neil Young perform, only the tickets are too expensive. Also, my best concert experiences occur in small venues at small prices. The second reason is I prefer living for the present. For many years I've listened to artists of my parents' generation thinking nothing is as good nowadays. It might be true (always up for debate) but is a heartbreaking notion. There's this quote I love from a recently read book, How to Build a Girl by Caitlin Moran. It approaches the problem our generation has with cynicism.

"Cynicism means you presume everything will end in disappointment. And this is ultimately, why anyone becomes cynical. Because they are scared of disappointment. Because they are scared someone will take advantage of them. [...] Cynicism is, ultimately, fear. Cynicism makes contact with your skin, and a thick black carapace begins to grow – like insect armor. This armor will protect your heart, from disappointment – but it leaves you almost unable to walk. You cannot dance in this armor.
And of course, the deepest irony about the young being cynical is that they are the ones that need to move, and dance, and trust the most. They need to cartwheel though a freshly burst galaxy of still-forming but glowing ideas, never scared to say "Yes! Why not!" – or their generation's culture will be nothing but the blandest, and most aggressive, or most defended of old tropes. When young people are cynical, and snarky, they shoot down their own future. When you keep saying "No," all that's left is what other people said "Yes" to before you were born. Really, "No" is no choice at all."

I think that says it all.

Now I leave you with Tom Waits' "Anywhere I Lay My Head" from the album Rain Dogs. Wishing someday I'll attend a live performance of his.

Only in my dreams.

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Crabe | Nightmom | Eschaton | Casa del Popolo

Show: Crab + Nightmom + Eschaton
Venue: Casa del Popolo, Montreal
Date: Tuesday, June 9th, 2015

Am slowly learning to live out of my comfort zone. Seems you get more out of life this way, more excitement. Use to spend my evenings at home reading. Watching TV. Can't stay put now, have this need to catch up with life.

Eschaton, the first set that evening, definitely put me out of this zone. Instrumental and improvisational. Horns and strings and some other weird sounds. Quite interesting. My eyes were glued on the contrabassist. Manipulated his instrument to its full capacity. At some point the bow was used to create sounds out of the wooden tailpiece. Gave me goosebumps. I've played the viola in my teens and I've often gotten those same goosebumps by playing it the wrong way.

Approached him afterwards, asked him why he played the bow on that tailpiece. Told him it made me uncomfortable. Made the contrabass vibrate, he answered. Gave him a good feeling. This explains why, throughout the whole performance, he was hugging his instrument.

The second set I truly enjoyed. Nightmom from Rhode Island. Drum and guitar duo.

My favorite song of this short set was "Sister's Cool" from the album Baby Later. A mixture of "cowboyz noize" (as described on their bandcamp) and rock. Should have bought their album.

Crabe, the main act, is a guitar and drum duo from Montreal. Heard them play before. Enjoyed it much more this time. I put aside the fact that I couldn't here the lyrics clearly. It screams and it rocks.

As they would say on the Facebook event page : "No need to buy 3D glasses to see Crabe in concert, all you need is to open the doors to your heart and let the tender melodies crawl in". Love this quote.

Breaking out of this comfort zone? Getting there, gradually.

Midnight walk from the Casa del Popolo

Thursday, 4 June 2015

Unknown Mortal Orchestra at Théâtre Fairmount

Show: Unknown Mortal Orchestra + Absolutely Free
Date: Wednesday, June 3rd, 2015
Venue: Théâtre Fairmount, Montreal

Was wondering, while watching Ruban Nielson performing on stage, which is better: perennials or annuals?

To tell you the truth, took me a while to appreciate Unknown Mortal Orchestra. I see some insecurity in his music the same way, sometimes, when I draw, insecurity oozes through the image. When am unsatisfied with a drawing, I add stuff thinking it'll make it better until there's nothing more to add. It's easy to have too many overlapping layers, whether in music or art. This is how I see UMO's latest album "Multi-Love". A multitude of musical layers of which essence is lost. It all changed though after seeing them perform live. Catchier. Simplified. Funkier (can I say that?). Posted below, the title track as well as its live performance.

Why did I go then if I wasn't that impressed with the album? Because I read the article "Love is Strange" on Pitchfork where Ruban Nielson explains the story behind the album. A polyamorous relationship experienced with his wife. Quite fascinating how personal this album is. Kind of inspiring.

Arrived early at the Théâtre Fairmount. A renovated Cabaret du Mile-End. The transformed place is beautiful but also a bit cold. Without character unfortunately.

fun to capture on photography though

The opening set belongs to Absolutely Free. Afraid I didn't enjoy much. Rhythm was present on  drums but not vocally. Quite slow the singing except with the closing song where lead vocalist turned slowness into a scream. Not bad this last one.

Steps on stage Unknown Mortal Orchestra. Mr Nielson looks a bit stone. His eyes show vagueness but performance is without flaw. No pitchiness. Yay. His guitar playing (fingers, no pics) is impressive. Very good bass player also, Jake Portrait. Other than that there isn't alot of moving around on stage. Crowd is satisfied though. Songs are good. Many of us dancing, some are singing along.

clapping to the beat of the music
Thought about the album's subject matter as was watching the performance. A love story between Ruban Nielson, his wife and a young woman. All living under the same roof until this woman is forced to leave the U.S. (Portland) due to an expired Visa. It makes me wonder, would you risk a marriage for new love?

Would you plant annuals or perennials?
(Been spending alot of time in my garden lately)

Monday, 1 June 2015

Les Deuxluxes at Quai des Brumes | Lancement vinyle

Show: Les Deuxluxes
Venue: Quai des Brumes
Date: Sunday, May 31st, 2015

On the sidewalk near my home there's a graffiti that says "Sing Your Joy". Whenever I'm happy for no reason whatsoever I take a snapshot.

After being at the Traitement Deuxluxe – Lancement Vinyle, I find the pic so appropriate. Les Deuxluxes love doing what they do and it shows. Especially lead singer Anna Frances Meyer.

Arrive at 9pm. Show is scheduled for 8pm but we all know musicians never start at scheduled time. It took me 15 years to realize that. Still, I arrive one hour early. While waiting, I see both of the band members walking around, getting ready. Étienne Barry holding his stage clothes in hand, Anna Frances Meyer with curlers in hair. I sit at a table next to two strangers. They get impatient waiting and leave before the show starts. Unfortunate for them.

Étienne and Anna Frances step on stage and everybody starts applauding. Not because the wait was long but because we all know what to expect at a Deuxluxes show. They've got to be one of my hometown favorites along with Chocolat, Gashrat and Milk Lines.

Les Deuxluxes is a rockabilly duo but often you'll see drums added to the mix by the end of the show. Anna Frances Meyer on vocals (lead) and tenor guitar; Étienne Barry on vocals, guitar and rhythm section.

"Funnel of Love" cover

I've been to many of their shows this past year. To tell you the truth, I love them but am a bit tired of hearing the same songs from their debut album Traitement Deuxluxes which consists of four originals and two covers. Therefore was excited when they started playing the new song "Lost" from their next album. Anna Frances Meyer really puts on a show. No doubt about that. Not only does she dance when it's Étienne's turn for a solo, but she dances while playing guitar. Extremely sexy she is. A line of guys in the first row from the Traitement Deuxluxes album launch last year were going crazy for her. 

Les Deuxluxes in action

The show was good. It was excellent though when Jonathan Bigras (from Galaxie) joined them on drums for "Turn The Heat Up" (and the following songs). Wow what a drummer! This song immediately became my favorite. Love it when it rocks.

The evening was coming to an end. The crowd sang Happy Birthday to the talented birthday boy Étienne Barry. His last words for the night? "See ya"

I hope, on their next album, we'll see more drums. A two piece band is always interesting and there's no doubt that this duo is good. It just reaches a next level with drums.

Next on my bucket list? Bloodshot Bill. Never saw him perform.