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reviews

Lights – Siberia review

That Canadian synth pop singer you may know as Lights, who was definitely your (my) guilty pleasure at one time or another is all grown up. After what seems like a long two-year gap between albums, Lights has reemerged from her poppy album “The Listening” with a new direction, and it’s surprisingly good. Take a lot of synths, a bit of indie pop, some new wave vibes and even some dubstep elements. If you cook it just right, you get “Siberia.”

The first single off the album, “Toes,” shows the difference between the two records rather well. No more incredibly upbeat singles, as Lights takes a more subdued attitude with this one. Don’t get me wrong, as the usual Lights elements are all throughout the album. Synths are the main focus of each song here, and her voice reminds you that you’re definitely listening to Lights. The bass really pounds in “Flux and Flow,” along with a guest spot from hip-hop artist Shad, giving this track an incredibly powerful beat. There’s so much more emotion behind this track, with Lights howling out lyrics during the chorus.

The opening title track is also another one you should pay attention to. “Siberia” has such a fun vibe, and a beat that you might hear in some electro ambient tracks. And what about those dubstep influences I mentioned? Check out the end of “Suspension” and you’ll hear some lighthearted “wubbing” you wouldn’t typically see in synth pop. I find it to be a welcome addition, and even find the nine minute instrumental entitled “Day One” rather pleasant – and I hate instrumentals.

There’s not an overload of synths that would usually turn off a lot of listeners. The mix of instruments is much more balanced, her vocals are stellar without using too much of a vocoder effect, and Lights has seriously stepped up her game in general. As a result, I don’t think she needs to be your (my) guilty pleasure anymore. Give this one a spin, and tell me why you can’t love this blissful work of art.

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reviews

Anthrax – Worship Music review

I’ve always thought about how Anthrax had their name long before the anthrax letter scares that followed 9/11. Before then, the general public didn’t really know what anthrax was – except metalheads. So now, they have this name affixed to them, which is affiliated with all those death letters. I imagine it may have been a PR nightmare. Nonetheless, they’re still releasing records, and “Worship Music” is a solid piece of work from the thrash/heavy metal band of New York.

The intro track will slowly but surely lead you into the record, getting closer and closer to the first track – and BOOM – you’re pounded with a hammerfist of metal. “Earth on Hell” might be the heaviest song on the record, and the guitar work is at its best on this track. What about the lyrics, you ask? If you’re really interested in the lyrics, I think you may be listening to metal for the wrong reasons. Lots of death, decapitation and blood – how about we just leave it at that? But Joey Belladonna’s vocals do shine throughout the album, as “I’m Alive” really showcases his abilities. Belladonna just sounds so much better on this track.

The second single off the album, “The Devil You Know,” is incredibly catchy for a metal song. It caught me off guard that I was bopping my head back and forth to chorus of guitar riffs and lyrics of “You gotta go with the devil you know!” More towards the end of the album, “Crawl” give us a look at the much softer side of Anthrax. This sounds like a metal love song until about halfway through, when the band decides to kick in and drop a guitar solo. There were fewer guitar solos than I expected, but it’s kind of nice to see a band not rely so much on them.

The album isn’t as thrashy as some may like, and that may be a sore point for some fans. I tend to think of this as a good thing. Any negative things to say? Not really. There may be a few tracks that I enjoy less than the others, like “Revolution Scream” and “Judas Priest.” Alas, Anthrax has released an exceptional record here that heavy metal fans will enjoy. Seriously, give it a spin and try to not get sucked in by it.

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music videos reviews

Deadmau5: Live in Montreal review

I know electronic dance music may not be for the entire readership of this website, but hear me out for a good few minutes about this little “mau5” character from Toronto. I had just gotten finished with the Rise Against show across town, and Deadmau5 wasn’t scheduled to go on for another hour. With my last-minute face value ticket in hand, I drove all the way downtown and got there ten minutes before his set started. Joel Zimmerman knows how to put on an amazing show. Sold out for three out of the four nights he was there, he captivated a crowd of two thousand plus each night.

The curtain covering his stage setup, which he’s been constantly upgrading with each leg of his worldwide tour, was up all night. As soon as he neared the first drop of his new song “Where My Keys?” That curtain was gone, and he was met with a thunderous roar from the crowd. Whether they were chugging champagne from the bottle, grinding or moving to the beat, and perhaps in an altered state of mind from some pills they dropped – this audience didn’t stop.

And neither did the mau5. He kept his show going for a whole two hours, with his blend of electronic, house, dubstep and ambient tunes intertwining. A third of the way through the set, the Montreal YouTube stars ate a Cthulhu monster made out of meat (during “Cthulhu Sleeps”) and proceeded to throw t-shirts out into the audience. I’m pretty sure that video will pop up online soon enough.

This Canadian producer is selling out venues left and right, but I can’t stress enough that if you’re even the slightest fan of this kind of music – go spend a night dancing and getting intoxicated (or do it sober like I did). It’s one night you won’t regret.

Rise Against: A Night in Photos

So I’m at the Rise Against show and I’m taking photographs in the photo pit (you know – that space just beyond the barriers), and just minding my own business along with the other photographers. I’m snapping off some photos, and turn around. The crowd… is insane. Surfers are coming over the barriers like mad. Girls are asking to be removed from their spot at the front and the next thing I know, the barrier is about to collapse and the whole security team is holding it back. I may be new to being up in the photo pit – but I thought I was dead for sure. Oh yeah, did I mention that Rise Against came to town?
Rise Against - Tim McIlrath
It was only their second stop on their Canadian tour, performing to a sold out crowd of five thousand plus, in Montreal’s worst venue possible (CEPSUM doesn’t have great acoustics, but I won’t blame Rise Against for the shitty sound that night). Tim McIlrath and company know how to put on a show, starting off with “Re-Education (Through Labor)” and “Satellite” off of their new album, they had everyone going.
Rise Against - Zach Blair
Seriously. I went up in the stands later in the night, and there were five pits going at once. It was like the whole crowd was liquid, just shifting around from place to place as one. Mind you, people calmed down for a bit when “Swing Life Away” and “Hero of War” were performed acoustically.
Rise Against - Zach Blair
During a break, Tim said something that has stuck with me. He asked the crowd who was at their last show they played in Montreal, and the one before that, and the one before that… and to the loud cheers he said, “A lot of things can happen in a couple of years, but if you were at our last show, and the one before that – and you’re here now… That means you’ve survived it all.” Sure, it may be corny – but he’s got a point.
Rise Against - Joe Principe
Despite the venue giving off horrible sound, the band sounded good when the venue cooperated. And their energy on stage? Zach Blair is jumping around for half of the set, Joe Principe is hammering his bass, Tim is screaming his lungs out, and Brandon Barnes is having a good time on his drums. I love Rise Against shows for their energy, and this one was no different.
Rise Against - Tim McIlrath
Setlist: Rise Against in Montreal
Full set of photos 

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reviews

The Drums – Portamento album review

I’m fresh off a physics midterm, and I’m in need of some happy-feel-good-time music. Who shall I turn to? Which ingredients will mellow me out enough to make me forget about simple harmonic motion and standing waves? Take a few parts of indie/alt rock, throw in those ever so popular synthy beats that those kids can’t get enough of, and some influence from the 80s – you get The Drums’ new release “Portamento.” And this concoction brings quite the smile to my face. Well, for the most part.

“I’ve seen the world / and there is no heaven, there is no hell / and I believe that when we die, we die.” Yeah, I know – stuff like that brings a smile to my face? The chorus lines to “Book of Revelation” aren’t all that original, and the song may not be either, but the opening track gives off this familiar and pleasant beat. You’ll encounter simplistic guitar riffs throughout the album, and yet it doesn’t really matter. You’ll cheer up when  “Money” comes through the speakers, with Jonathan Pierce telling you  he “wants to buy you something,” but he’s poor. What am I getting at here? There’s a nice contrast between the not so happy lyrics and a joyful beat, and it works well with this Brooklyn group.

More choice tracks, you say? “Days” has a solid vibe to it, while “Hard to Love” brings in those synths we spoke of beforehand. It brings them in… in excess. As does “Searching for Heaven,” which is almost purely synth work and Pierce’s voice playing off one another. This is one shortcoming of the album, and I hate to say that sometimes the synths should simply be kept at bay rather than be the main character of the story the song is attempting to tell you.

The album has its somber moments as well, as the second half of the album has less of that happy tone to it. With “What We Had” serving as the closing track. Echoed vocals, violins screeching in the background, as it all fades to black. The second half of the album lost my interest, and that loss of happiness made want to simply listen to the first seven tracks of the album. That’s a bad thing. A very bad thing. I hate when albums fall flat halfway through, and this record suffers from that very shortcoming. Listen to the first half, as I guarantee you’ll find some sort of enjoyment in it. As for the rest? Well, depends on whether or not you’re still suffering from physics midterm pains.

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reviews

Grimes – Geidi Primes review

I put this review off for a while. I stashed this album away in my iTunes library and went to a few too many concerts, took about two thousand pictures, and then realized, “Oh yeah, I’ve got that review to write about Grimes, but I’m seeing her open for Arcade Fire so I’m going to wait until I see her stuff live and then I’ll finally write the review.” Montreal musician Grimes has put out a new album called “Geidi Primes,” and this is an album review of that very album. Electronic, airy, and surprisingly enjoyable.

Upon first listen to the album, I was met with some odd bass noises in “Caladan,” which provides a nice melodic keyboard opening to the album. Grimes, the informal moniker of Claire Boucher, chooses to not put her vocals at the forefront of this song, and a few others. I find that if this were mixed differently, I could enjoy this synthy mix better. I realize it may be a stylistic thing, but “avi” suffers from the same mixing problems. Awesome electronic song, but Boucher’s vocals aren’t given their proper spotlight. I may not be a producer or mixer – I know – but Grimes has some vocals that she should really show off more! Other solid songs off the record include the almost-poppy “Rosa,” which loops a smooth guitar while Grimes sings (incredibly well) about “sewing up her heart.” It’s really fun for a song that sounds rather minimalist, and I’m shocked that I like this so much.

Does the album have any other shortcomings? Sure. I’m not a huge fan of the second half of the album. Songs like “Shadout Mapes” are just a little too obscure for my liking. Very minimalist and simple, and quite airy as well. It’s not by any means terrible, just not something I can get into. “Venus in Fleurs” and “Beast Infection” are some of the others I can’t get wrap my head around to enjoy. Musically, they’re great – just not something I’d find myself playing over and over.

Now, I saw Grimes live just a few days ago. When she performs live, she’s even better. Thumping bass, shining vocals, and she’s looping and mixing the track right before your eyes on her own. She’s talented, and incredibly cute. The crowd waiting for Arcade Fire didn’t give her the support she deserved. Most of the audience stood there bored. It may not have been their cup of tea, but Grimes was all too excited to be opening for the hometown heroes. As she should be – I hope to see her in a smaller venue sometime soon. She definitely deserves more credit than what she got with the hipster-esque crowd she performed for. Go give this album a spin. You’ll like what you hear, even if half of the song titles are just… weird.

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tour dates

Deadmau5’s Plethora of Tour Dates

Who knew finding a dead mouse inside of a computer cabinet would launch such a successful electronic music career? Joel Zimmerman, better known as Deadmau5, is hitting the road non-stop lately, selling out venues for multiple nights in a row. For example, “The Meowingtons Hax Tour” is going to go on for six nights in a row at the Roseland Ballroom in NYC, four nights in a row at the House of Blues in Boston, and four nights in a row in Montreal at Metropolis. This young Canadian artist has gone from small-time DJ, to one of the most popular producers in the world in a short period of time.

If you didn’t catch him on the summer festival tour recently, be sure to head out and catch him. The tour culminates with a hometown show at the Rogers Centre in Toronto, ON – a baseball stadium. Joel has definitely hit the big time! Most shows are sold out, but there are still tickets available for his Wednesday night show in Montreal. Dates are as follows:

09/28 to 10/01 – Montreal, QC – Metropolis (Tickets here)
10/04 to 10/09 – New York City, NY – Roseland Ballroom
10/11 to 10/14 – Boston, MA – House of Blues
10/15 – Amherst, MA – Mullins Center
10/16 – Hartford, CT – XL Center
10/19 – Bloomington, IN – Pic a Chic Farms
10/20 & 10/21 – Detroit, MI – The Fillmore
10/22 & 10/23 – Chicago, IL – Aragon Ballroom
10/24 – Kansas City, MO – The Midland by AMC
10/27 – Santa Barbra, CA – Santa Barbara Bowl
10/28 – San Diego, CA – Petco Park
10/29 – San Francisco, CA – Bill Graham Civic Auditorium
11/03 – Albany, NY – Washington Avenue Armory
11/05 – Toronto, ON – Rogers Centre

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tour dates

Rise Against Canadian Tour Dates

Remember back in the summer when you were disappointed that Rise Against wasn’t touring in Canada? Well, except for Ottawa and Toronto? Yeah, that sucked, as these punk rockers can put on a hell of a show. Touring off their new album entitled “Endgame,” the Chicago boys are hitting the road across the Great (not-so) White (yet) North. I’ll hopefully be covering the sold out show in Montreal if all goes well. I saw these guys a few years back, and they put on a hell of a show in the rain. Round up some of your leftover summer job cash and get to your nearest venue box office before these tickets are gone.

Support for this tour? Flogging Molly and The Black Pacific. Well worth a night out.

Dates are as follows:

Sept. 30 – Quebec City, QC @ Agora – Envol et Macadam Festival
Oct. 1 – Montreal, QC @ CEPSUM
Oct. 2 – London, ON @ John Labatt Centre
Oct. 4 – Thunder Bay, ON @ Thunder Bay Community Auditorium
Oct. 5 – Winnipeg, MB @ MTS Centre
Oct. 7 – Saskatoon, SK @ Credit Union Centre
Oct. 8 – Edmonton, AB @ Rexall Place
Oct. 9 – Calgary, AB @ Scotiabank Saddledome
Oct. 11 – Victoria, AB @ Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre
Oct. 12 – Vancouver, BC @ Pacific Coliseum

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music videos

Arcade Fire’s Homecoming Shows in Montreal


After a very long and eventful year for Montreal’s Arcade Fire, including releasing “The Suburbs,” headlining every festival out there, winning Album of the Year at the Grammys and no one knowing who they were, and now – coming home and playing a show to an estimated 100,000 fans. At their smaller show at Metropolis the day before, Win Butler told the crowd, “So we’re sorry that you had to read about all our bullshit this past year…”

I had the chance to attend Arcade Fire’s smallest show in a long while: a mere 2,200 attendees in Montreal’s Metropolis theatre. The event was put together by the band and Pop Montreal festival organizers for true fans of the band. No guestlist, press wasn’t invited or given tickets, photographers had to leave their cameras at home (much to my dismay), and tickets were wristbands rather than tickets that scalpers could sell off. It was put together incredibly well, and I applaud the band and Pop Montreal for avoiding the scalping of tickets.

Arcade Fire’s been on a non-stop touring schedule for more than a year now, so it’s no surprise that when they began with “Ready to Start” they sounded dead on. Perfect. Régine Chassagne had her usual always-cute-and-excited energy. Honestly, I’ve gotta admit that she’s one of my favorite performers after seeing her in concert three times. All eight members were spot on with their performance of hits like “No Cars Go,” “Keep the Car Running,” “The Suburbs,” and “Rebellion (Lies).” A lot of the songs, including the much more punk-like “Month of May” and happy “Haiti,” sound even better live than their original recordings. Butler expressed how happy they were to be home, while Régine told the crowd in French how she thought that “Montreal c’est cool!” Not much of a lights’ show, no video screens to back them up – just a plethora of instruments and the sounds being emitted from them.

I have a complaint though – the crowd. As I looked around, I saw a number of people who were either disinterested in being there, or liked to enjoy their concerts by standing there with their arms folded. Seriously, there was this one grey-haired man in the 5th row who stood there motionless all night, just looking at the stage. There was no awe or excitement spread across his face – he looked bored. Speaking of grey-haired men, I felt incredibly out of place at times. The crowd was the oldest I’ve been around in a long time, but shows that Arcade Fire’s music really bridges demographics.

Skipping to the free outdoor show the following day, the band was once again spot on with their delivery of every song. The setlist that night was better in my opinion, and you can compare them at the links below. During the closing of “Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains),” the light-up beach balls from their Coachella performance were tossed into the crowd. I was watching from a screen behind the stage, but you could just feel the electricity of the gigantic mob crowding the Place des Festivals area.

And back to the Metropolis show.

Besides the crowd, the music made the night quite amazing, and to see one of the most popular bands out there play a one-off show in a theatre was something I’ll never forget. As Butler said, “I know you’re supposed to play Metropolis first, and then play Madison Square Garden, but we did it backwards.”

Setlists: Arcade Fire Metropolis show – Free Show

Bring Me the Horizon and Others: A Night in Photos

Bring Me the Horizon - Oli Sykes

I know. Bring Me the Horizon. A band who was once voted the UK’s best and worst band for the same set of awards. Back in my prime concert days in Montreal, when I frequented mostly metal shows every other week, they were popular with the scene girls because frontman Oli Sykes was an absolute tattooed English dreamboat. I’ve now seen them three times. But I’ll get to them at the end… By the way, pardon all the black and white photos. Metal shows never seem to have the best lighting for photography.
Deez Nuts
Openers Deez Nuts have been around since I Killed the Prom Queen disbanded. Frontman JJ Peters can definitely scream pretty well, and their current session bassist has some good energy. Not bad for an opening band, and a few people in the crowd seemed to know some words.
Architects (UK)
Architects (UK) – because there’s apparently a US band by the same name – is wild on stage. Sam Carter, vocalist, is simply fun to watch. Headbanging non-stop and flipping his hair all over, the guy just goes non-stop. Only problem with Architects is that even when I listen to their album, I can’t tell their songs apart. Same thing live. I looked to the photographer next to me and asked if they had played two or three songs yet. He wasn’t sure either. Nonetheless, solid performance.

Parkway Drive, all the way from down under, are favorites of mine. These guys have been higher on the charts in Australia than big American pop stars when their album debuts, and their live show is an awesome spectacle of what metalcore should be. Guitarists Jeff Ling and Luke Kilpatrick are absolutely amazing with their guitars, switching back and forth for solos. Winston McCall, who seemed to be tired, as he was sitting down in between songs, demanded pits and crowdsurfers. He sure as hell got them. Security could barely handle the amount of people coming over the barriers. If you love metalcore and haven’t heard any Parkway Drive, you’re interested in the wrong genre.
Bring Me the Horizon - Oli Sykes
And so, we arrive at Bring Me the Horizon. And surprisingly, I don’t have anything bad to say about them. When I last saw them, their guitarist had dropped out of the band mid-tour, and left them stranded. They were unpolished, Oli couldn’t scream, and played six songs even while being the co-headliner. Disappointing, and I lost interest in the band after seeing that show. This time? Damn, they’ve really stepped up their game. Sharp, loud, exciting and a non-stop roller-coaster of fun metalcore. If you were ever a fan of them, I’d say give them another chance next time they come around. You may be surprised yourself! Jona Weinhofen has been a great addition on rhythm guitar, and I say that’s a large part of why they sound much better than a couple of years ago.
Bring Me the Horizon - Matt Kean
Overall, a pretty solid night of metalcore. It may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but it remains as one of the biggest scenes in the Montreal area.
Full sets of Photos: Bring Me the Horizon, All Others
Setlist: Bring Me the Horizon in Montreal