Get lost in the druidic rumblings of Toronto / Montreal-based CROSSS with their new video for "Interlocutor". Hooded figures drag some poor soul into a church basement in this black-and-white horror show.
"Interlocutor" is off their upcoming full-length LO, recorded at the Echo Chamber in Halifax and coming out May 26 on Telephone Explosion. But you can get the single now on a lathe-cut picture disk from the CROSSS Bandcamp page.
Read more about how CROSSS frontman Andy March makes the disks in an interview from September 2014.
In the new video from Toronto peppy punk outfit PUP they trash a car and then flatten it in a demolition derby. They wanted Mabu, a faithful steed to singer/guitarist Stefan Babcock's family since the '90s, to go out in a blaze of glory, and they sure succeeded at that.
Watch the mayhem above, "sponsored by PUP's breeding service and Stefan's one-stop nail and tire shop." Stream their self-titled LP here.
At the Rialto opening up for the legendary Ronnie Spector is Bloodshot Bill, making music to dance to for a room full of tables. I've never seen Bill on such a big stage, and it feels a little weird. Even he admits how absurd it is to play for a bunch if people sitting down, making his pauses extra long and telling the crowd to "shhhh" before chuckling and moving on. Somehow in a fancy theatre his act feels more like a schtick.
But all is not stuffy here at this POP / Jazz Fest collaboration, and by the bar his ferocious psychobilly is met with cheers — the rest slowly warming up to him. But whoever's doing lighting fails miserably at following Bill's impromptu stops and snorts.
When Ronnie Spector takes the stage for her "Beyond the Beehive" show, she has the crowd's full attention. This was a night about affirming her importance in the history of pop music, with Ronnie narrating her story in front of projected photos and video clips as she works through the singles.
It was an emotional trip through her relationship with deranged killer/hitmaker Phil Spector, taking us through the pain of being in an abusive relationship.
"All I knew about Phil is that he was one smooth operator," Ronnie says as she details her first encounters with a man who would go on to trap her in her own home and try to ruin her career. The instantly recognizable "Be my Baby" was played in an encore to allow for some loophole in Phil and Ronnie's divorce settlement.
At 71, Ronnie's voice still holds up and she has attitude to spare. It was an honour to hear her story, from growing up in Harlem to getting into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
But then it's time to return to this decade at a packed Brasserie Beaubien, where there's a lazy attempt at a mosh pit while CROSSS are playing(read an interview with CROSSS here). They're channeling Sabbath heaviness as singer Andy March is joined by his current band for one of the last times, Nathan Doucet bashing the hell out of the kit. They're followed by Calgary punk four-piece Hag Face, who successfully beat all those '60s girl group songs out of my head.
At Casa Brazilian Money take a moment from their upbeat pop set to plug Monster Energy, who are sponsoring POP this year. I'm going to assume it was a joke making fun of the whole thing (they can't actually require bands to talk about an energy drink can they??), but I was mostly impressed the singer was able to take a swig of their new "blue" flavour with a smile on his face. Anyways, this non-sponsored blog post is telling you to never drink that shit, even if it's free.
The crowd's loving The Rural Alberta Advantage as they work through new stuff at Cabaret Mile End, but the band is having even more fun. Singer Nils Edenloff says it's the biggest crowd they've played to in Montreal (if you don't count opening for The Hip last summer), and it feels like everyone is singing along to their old stuff.
While it's a radio-friendly sing-along at with the RAA it's hipster prom at Sala for TOPS, the band playing cuts off their dreamy new record Picture You Staring. Their sound is part Fleetwood Mac part Twin Peaks (a comparison someone must have used before) and they own the hometown crowd, headlining the sold-out Arbutus Records showcase.
I cut out early though to catch the end of Kurvi Tasch's set back at Casa, expanding their track "Fractured Lens" with a furious jam in nine and ending the set with the title track off their new record On Firm Ground. Their sound has evolved into something creeping and reactive, drums and bass playing off Alex Nicol's twisted chords as they pull from the darker parts of new wave.
My first night of POP Montreal ended up being pretty much taken over by Sun Kil Moon, but that wasn't a bad thing. The Ukrainian Federation is packed when Mark Kozelek and his band take the stage, the venue is darkness except for a few spots of light around Sun Kil Moon. It's what Mark has asked for. Before they start, we're told that the use of cell phones is prohibited, and there are no photos allowed either.
But Mark didn't have to worry about keeping the crowd's full attention, or fear any of the outdoor festival distractions that spoiled his show last weekend in Ottawa. I'm sure the band had as much time as they wanted to do their sound, they held command over this old Outremont community hall for the night — no chance for sound bleeding from another show, for which Mark had some choice words aimed at The War on Drugs.
"I'm in a good mood tonight," says Kozelek — but adding that we better not piss him off.
I had caught a couple pretty solo songs by Toronto's Charlotte Cornfield opening up the show as people started to fill the hall. Even during the opener, a solo acoustic act, the crowd was respectful, giving their full attention (or at least it felt like it) to Charlotte. But she certainly earned our attention, ending her set with a subtle, captivating "If You Don't Pursue", backing off the mic for the final few lines, letting hew words reverberate through the hall on their own.
Then it was to Divan Orange for Year of Glad (read an interview with the band here), the local folk-meets-drone band that just returned to Montreal after a tour out east. The more I see these guys the more I think of jazz, singer/guitarist Alexandre Bergeron bringing cellist Justin Wright and saxophonist Dave Switchenko on to improvise over his heavily-effected guitar work and soaring falsetto.
"We're called Year of Glad. I'm just going to keep saying that," says Bergeron. There are a few truly beautiful moments in the set, including the title track off their latest record, Old Growth. It's a shame there are no drums there to hold down the rhythm though.
Back at the Ukrainian Federation Mark seems a little disappointed he has no one to complain about in the crowd. They're his disciples, maybe even extra careful after hearing about what happened in Ottawa.
They lap up his rants against Twitter, how he's so good at guitar because he doesn't have a smart phone. But the thing is, you can be an asshole if you make good music. The audience takes his playful bashing well, even when he tells us we're all brainwashed by Pitchfork.
I admit I didn't know much about Kozelek except that he was in Almost Famous, but you don't need to know a thing to enjoy his set. He plays to our hearts, even if the stage banter in between feels like little more than ego-stroking.
Singing about his mother, his girlfriend's dead dog (really, death was kind of the common theme here) the set is incredible. The band's at their best as the two guitars intertwine (well, more like Mark's paying accented by an electric guitar) and the drumming sets a subtle textured base for Mark's voice.
He plays for 90 minutes, ending the set standing on top of a chair. He gets a standing ovation when he's through.
As great as Sun Kil Moon was though, the long set means I get to l'Esco as Big Brave are loading up their gear. So it's a trip to see what's at Casa that ends my night, where The World Provider are playing to a modest crowd. They're all wearing white shirts with what looks like tin foil on them, giving me something a little more upbeat to end my Wednesday. Toronto's Malcolm Fraser works through some synth rock numbers before I call it a night.
Maybe it was all the moody singer/songwriter stuff, but The World Provider's simple pop numbers don't do much for me. Still thinking about the Sun Kil Moon set, I really just feel like I should call my mother.
Prepare for another harsh Canadian winter with a bit of drunken punked-up fun. Toronto's Teenager posted "Negative Zeros" today, off their new record E P L P out September 9 on Telephone Explosion. They play the POP Montreal Telephone Explosion showcase September 18 at Club Lambi.
Earlier today METZposted this photo to Facebook with the caption "Recording for record number 2 starts today at the barn." The barn being a literal barn-turned-studio in Ontario (here's a photo from outside) that's used by Holy Fuck's Graham Walsh, and has been home to Wintersleep, Dusted and Viet Cong, to name a few. Viet Cong did a killer demo of "Bunker Buster" there with Walsh that was posted earlier this year.
It's also where the Toronto-based noise punk trio made their crushing self-titled LP. They're just getting better live, too. METZ played at least one new song at Ottawa Explosion Weekend (maybe another, blame the beer), and it's safe to say expectations are set pretty high for this follow-up. Not to add to the hype or anything, but I think they'll deliver.
Here's "I'm a Bug", a Urinals cover they posted in June.
They already posted "Trainwreck 1979" last month after premiering the track on the BBC, and now you can sink your teeth into a second track off The Physical World. Free CDs were given out at a DFA 1979 show at The Troubadour club last week in West Hollywood with the album version of "Government Trash," the ninth track on the new LP according to the previously announced tracklist. "Government Trash" is ruled by frantic bass runs and drums that verge on thrash metal. It's ready-made for mosh pits.
Anyone taking bets on a POP Montreal appearance?
The Physical World is out September 9 on Last Gang Records. Full tracklist below.
1. Cheap Talk 2. Right On, Frankenstein! 3. Virgins 4. Always On 5. Crystal Ball 6. White Is Red 7. Trainwreck 1979 8. Nothin’ Left 9. Government Trash 10. Gemini 11. The Physical World
Off Our Love, out October 7 on Merge Records. Great dance tune, but a little lacklustre for the title track (and especially after sharing the huge "Can't Do Without You" earlier this summer), but maybe it'll grow on me (edit: it did).
After the latest round of cuts by parent company Bell Media, there's really nothing left of MUCH (MuchMusic). But it's been years since the station's put out anything worthwhile anyway.
After buying CHUM in 2006, Bell owned two competing networks – Much and MTV Canada. For a while MTV put out the award-winning MTV Live and some genuinely entertaining news programming around, of course, reams of trash T.V. imported from their partner to the south.
At least there was some substance programmed beside the syndication. MuchMusic floundered with more content fawning over celebrities – ditching the culture reporting that gave them a niche of their own. Their claim as the genuine voice of Canadian youth became a bad joke.
Now they have virtually no original programming, with eight MUCH and MTV Canada shows cancelled as part of the planned 120 jobs cut by Bell across the company.
MuchMusic was rebranded as MUCH in 2011 and Much More Music became M3. I don't think there's a more literal example that illustrates the change in vision than that.
When the station aired their VJ search shows a decade ago, I always wanted to be one of those reporters, spreading the good word about music and the culture sustained by Canadian youth. For a good 20 years, VJs were cultural ambassadors for their own people, connecting the distant, disparate pockets of kids across this giant country.
It seemed like a fun place to work, when bands would drop by for unscripted hangs and they had dedicated shows for hip-hop and the heavy stuff. When VJs were doing their own writing, or flying live by the seat of their pants and their music expertise.
When the genius of Nardwuar was still on the station.
But that energy is long gone. No young teenager would have any reason to want to be a VJ today. And that's not entirely MuchMusic's fault – after all kids can just stand in front of their webcam and become a VJ without the T.V. station.
The cuts are being blamed on licence conditions that require half their day to be filled with music videos, which generally end up banished to overnight hours. Bell Media president Kevin Crull is quoted in The Globe & Mail saying “Kids do not watch music videos on television. You're not going to wait for somebody to program a music video when you have a million available on Vevo.”
So the business response is to end any and all original programming (except for the ubiquitous Countdown, yes Much was ahead of the curve on listicles), buying American (non-music) programming instead.
It would be sad, if the programming hadn't been so dismal for the last near-decade.
I'll end this post with a trip back to a time when the gutting of MuchMusic would have been terrible news. Far back enough that this video was definitely recorded to tape before eventually getting uploaded to YouTube. The long-defunct indie music show The New Music was probably the best thing the station ever put out, and I'd rather remember it this way.
Here's Monika Deol in 1993 with a story on the Punjabi dance music scene in Toronto.