My oh my, do I love me a good indie/alt rock show. Two Door Cinema Club rolled into Montreal on September 16th to a sold out crowd at Club Soda. I didn’t even know it was sold out until the last minute, and was kinda worried that my name might not have been put on the guestlist. Luckily, I got in and squeezed through into the 5th row. I had missed The Lonely Forest for the most part, but I liked what I heard.
Bombay Bicycle Club, who seems to be gaining a big following in Montreal, put on a solid set. They seemed to lack something – and I think it’s emotion. The English band certainly isn’t new to the stage, and I might’ve just been expecting more. I’d definitely give their single “Shuffle” a listen if you haven’t heard it already. They’ve gotten some good stuff brewing over in their camp.
Obviously though, the audience couldn’t wait for the Irish stylings of Two Door Cinema Club to hit the stage – and what a show they put on! “Cigarettes in the Theatre” started the dance party, and it didn’t slow down from there on out. Seriously. There were kids who were even starting a push pit of sorts right beside me. And in case you don’t know, moshing isn’t typical of indie rock shows.
TDCC has been electing to show off some new songs on this tour, as they’re about to head into the studio to record their second album. “This is Moon” sounds a lot like something off Tourist History, so I don’t think fans will be disappointed with what they’ll hear in the near future. It’ll be great to see a longer set from these guys, as they basically played every song they had in their library (roughly 13 or 14 songs in total).
Of course, they played fan favorites like “Undercover Martyn,” “What You Know,” and of course – “I Can Talk” as their encore closer. My personal favorite of the night? “Come Back Home” is such a stellar song. I’m way too biased to choose anything else. Not much banter between the band and the crowd; only bits and pieces as usual, while lead singer Alex Trimble sipped on some Canadian beer. Although, they did take time out of their set to wish a Happy Birthday to their guitar tech. Cake, party hats, and a sold out crowd wishing him a happy birthday.
Let’s just say this band sounds amazing live, and you should get out there and see them while you can still witness their spectacle in intimate venues such as this one. A great big indie-electronic rock dance party awaits you.
I have the need to classify music into a genre. I just like genres, and my mind needs to categorize the music somehow. So I sit down and say – hey “band so and so,” you are “such and such” genre, and that means you will be placed over here in my mind. I’m going to try something new and attempt to not classify this next album in any sort of genre. Why? Well, to be honest, I don’t know where Sun Araw’s “Ancient Romans” fits into the spectrum of music genres.
When you hit play, you’ll be greeted by some organs, and then gradually introduced to some shimmying keys. And then more keys. And then some mashing keys. The latter half of “Lucretius” sounds like cluttered noise, and that’s not exactly a good thing – especially when the track is nine minutes long. I don’t exactly know what Cameron Stallones, the musician behind this solo project, is going for. As you go further into the album, random samples start to appear in between the shimmying keys, limited guitar riffs, and sounds whose source is really unknown to me. “Crete” sounds rather decent, but its problem is that it just goes on for way too long. Nine and a half minutes is overkill, and as the beat builds and sounds are added, it just gets to distorted to comprehend. It’d be better suited to end at the four minute mark. Don’t even bother with “At Delphi” either, as it might nauseate you. It sounds like there’s a banshee screaming in the background for three quarters of the song.
Stallones also goes minimalist with “Fit for Caesar,” but misses the mark in my opinion. Even this sounds noisy with looping samples halfway through another ten and a half minute marathon. And as for the closing track? “Impluvium” sounds alright, but suffers from the same problem as most of the other songs – the length being a quarter of an hour. I can’t listen to many songs with continuous beats past the five minute mark. I seriously can’t stomach it for that long.
There. I didn’t classify the album into any specific genre and simply listened to the music. Unfortunately, I can’t recommend a record like this. It could be somewhat enjoyable if it weren’t so long, so noisy, and had something to do with the Ancient Romans. Quite misleading… I thought this would substitute for my cancelled Ancient Civilizations class this week. Guess I’m shit out of luck on that paper.
While typically being associated with dance music, DJ sets, and the electronic music genre in general, Bob Rifo’s The Bloody Beetroots have taken a different approach to their live show in the past little while. Along with DJ Tommy Tea and drummer Battle, Rifo has now implemented live instruments into their set rather than sticking to turntables and a laptop. As a result, the new live expression goes by the name of Death Crew 77.
The live show itself is a unique clash of electronica and rock. The songs aren’t performed one after the other in a specific order. You might hear a thirty second beat from one track, then a full five minute song, then back to the other track, and onto another one. For example, Warp 1.9’s chorus was played two or three times throughout the night, spaced out accordingly.
And how bout the crowd? Wild. While it may not have been a sold out venue, there were enough inebriated individuals in the building to make for an amazing atmosphere. Rifo would mellow out at some points on the keyboard, playing a series of soft notes before Tommy Tea dropped another beat and the crowd was right at it again. Rifo and Dennis Lyxzén’s vocals added to the backing track once in a while as well.
I’d say that if you get the chance, check the show out. Even if you don’t have an over-the-top admiration for the electronic music scene, it’s worth a night out.
“One, Two – WHOOP WHOOP!”
Full set of photos: jakemullan’s flickr
I’ve been seriously lacking in good things to say for my album reviews lately, and so, let me apologize for that by giving you this semi-positive review of UK indie-pop-punk band Male Bonding’s “Endless Now.” If you remember these guys from their debut entitled “Nothing Hurts,” you may not recognize the sound of this new Male Bonding. Other than greater production value, the band has definitely taken a more poppy approach to their tunes, and that may or may not be a good thing.
“Tame the Sun” opens the album with a pleasant and upbeat mood that draws you into the album. I had a pretty positive outlook on the album as soon as drums came pounding in, and was even more enthused when the guitar riff towards the end arose. Towards track number three, you get a better sense of what the band is going for with their evolving sound. “Seems to Notice Now” feels like pop-punk, goes by quickly, and really sets the tone from here on out. John Arthur Webb’s vocal stylings, along with Kevin Hendrick on backup vocals, set you at ease despite the collision of guitars and percussion backing them up. Mellow, but not the type of mellow that will put you to sleep. Another choice song: “Before it’s Gone” sounds like a song you play before you head out for a day of surfing at the beach or chilling out in the sun.
Now, I did say semi-positive. So where does the album go sour? “Bones,” while not necessarily being a bad track, is way too heavy on repetitive powerchords for a six-minute song. By the time you near the end of the album, it feels like the songs are just running together. There’s a lot of promise in “Can’t Dream,” and “Mysteries Complete,” as well as “Bones” – but they’re really nothing spectacular or something I would find myself playing on repeat. However, “Dig You Out” gives the album a proper closing with its guitar solo, and overall catchiness.
While it may not be anything special, there’s still a good amount of enjoyment to be found in “Endless Now.” These Londoners definitely have the right sound fleshed out and may just need to fine tune it a tad. I would definitely not be surprised to see these guys pop up at a music festival near you next summer. Until then, keep them on your radar.
Oh boy. Here we go again…
I’m unsure if psychedelic music has a place in this day and age, as it just seems so “passé,” and irrelevant to me. Then again, attendance at Phish concerts is still in the thousands, and MGMT (as mainstream as they are) are still incredibly popular. So where does Jesse Sykes & the Sweet Hereafter fit into this equation of psych-rock? Well, their new album, “Marble Son” is difficult to categorize. As an added bonus, it’s not that enjoyable.
A minute and a half into track numero uno, “Hushed by Devotion” and you’ll be met by Jesse Sykes vocals… I think. Here’s the thing: Jesse Sykes has this androgynous voice that I can’t quite place as male or female, even though my research tells me she’s a she. It’s a different sort of vocal styling, and it can work well sometimes. However, in most of these songs – it doesn’t. Throughout the album, listeners will be greeted with guitar solos of all sorts, and they’re admittedly good pieces of work by guitarist Phil Wandscher.
Tunes like “Marble Son” and “Servant of Your Vision” are too uneventful to listen to. You’ll be horribly serenaded by the ghostly vocal stylings of Sykes for the entire track, and be begging for that next guitar solo to save you from the abyss of aching sound waves. Other songs such as “Birds of Passerine” really make you want to skip forward to find something more upbeat rather than depressing and mellow. Avoid “Instrumental” for obvious reasons, as it’s a pointless voiceless track that should’ve been scrapped.
A standout here is definitely found in “Ceilings High,” which has nice, almost-folky rhythm to it. The guitar work continues to be stellar, and Sykes vocals work pretty well in this instance. “Be it Me, Or Be it Done” is one of those mellow songs that I can truly enjoy. Again, Sykes does wonders with this track and I didn’t find myself looking for an instrumental break.
For a band labelled as psychedelic, they definitely are on the very light side of it – that or I don’t know my psychedelic music whatsoever. I invite someone to call me out on it if so. It may not be a horrendous record, but only a handful of the eleven songs do anything for me. Perhaps it would help if I dropped some acid, but I’d rather continue my sober streak of eighteen years. But please – be my guest.
I’m not one to always voluntarily listen to prog rock of any sort. Progressive metal is sometimes a different story, as I’m a big fan of Between the Buried and Me – but you’ll never find me listening to a Rush album unless it somehow comes up on shuffle in my music library. Regardless, I’m open to anything – and I don’t mind listening to a black metal vocalist/bassist’s attempt at making a solo album. Surprisingly enough, ICS Vortex, formerly of Dimmu Borgir, has put out a solid effort with “Storm Seeker.”
You might think that this album is going to be more metal than progressive upon listening to the first track and single, “The Blackmobile,” which punches you in the face (in a good a way) with some hard hitting guitars upon pressing play. Along with these guitars comes Vortex’s vocals, which are great at first, but may start to annoy you with their high-pitched tones. Unfortunately, the track never simmers down to give way to what the rest of the album will sound like, and that’s what disappoints me. It’s an oddball of a song if it’s anywhere else in the album. “Skoal!” starts to transition Vortex’s album into what the album is really about, while still lending a bit of metal sound.
While most of his lyrics are about eternal doom and all that good-happy-fun-stuff, Vortex delivers “Aces,” a song about gambling when the “stakes are high.” Still having that metal touch (it’s got a breakdown halfway through), but sounding as proggy as ever, it’s weird how a black metal artist can sing about betting games. Following that comes “Windward,” which could easily be a love ballad with Vortex’s lyrics, but intersperses guitar solos throughout to assure you he’s not getting too sappy. The title track itself is a great standout – just listen to “Storm Seeker” if you get the chance. It’s probably the most progressive song on the record and it’s about sailing out to sea. Weird, but it works.
Some things just don’t work on this album. I haven’t heard a vocoder in progressive rock before, and I do not think that “Oil in Water” should be an example for what black metal artists should go off and do. The song is just too much of an oddball to be considered anywhere near good. Also, why the hell is there a synth-filled instrumental outro track? C’mon now…
ICS Vortex’s experiment with his lighter side seems to have worked, albeit not a masterpiece, and probably not as good as his typical black metal. Nonetheless, it’s worth a listen, and the dude deserves some recognition for being brave enough to step outside his comfort zone.
The second (what seems to be annual) Scream it Like You Mean it tour made its way to Montreal early last week for all the neon wearing, pierced and appropriately screaming fans of various bands.
Headlining the tour was electronic rock duo Breathe Carolina. David Schmitt and Kyle Even, along with their touring members, put on a solid show full of lights, squirt guns, and overall some catchy music. They even covered Jay Sean’s “Down.” They’re supporting their new album “Hell Is What You Make It.”
Chiodos, now without frontman Craig Owens, has still been hitting the road these days. While the crowd wasn’t as packed as you might have seen at the band’s shows a few years ago, it was apparent that even with Brandon Bolmer belting out Owens’ lyrics instead – they still knew these songs like the back of their hands.
I See Stars gets my medal for best performance of the night. They’re now back with their original keyboardist and screamer, Zach Johnson, and still being led by Devin Oliver on vocals. A seriously impressive performance of post-hardcore madness that had a mosh pit going throughout the set.
The Color Morale, a Christian post-hardcore band out of Illinois gave a great performance to somewhat unenthusiastic crowd. Meanwhile, Mod Sun, or Derek Smith, former drummer of Four Letter Lie and Scary Kids Scaring Kids, gave the crowd a taste of what he called “hippy-hop.” The rap set in the middle of a bunch of post-hardcore bands didn’t make much sense, but audience members didn’t seem to mind. And finally, The Air I Breathe was along for the tour, giving another solid round of songs for the fans.
I’ve been encountering a variety of really strange music lately. While Vondelpark’s weird electro vibe had me grooving, I still have no idea what the hell the point of the 47 minute single track album by Nicholas Szczepanik had – and I’ve run into a similar album just a mere few reviews later. Richard Youngs, a British musician whose genre is best describe as experimental folktronica, has put out countless albums and played all over the world. Why or how? I really don’t know, because if his latest solo effort, “Amplifying Host,” sounds anything like his other albums, I’m not aware of anyone who would pay to see such music live.
Upon starting up the album, you’re met with some weird ghostly vocals, echoed guitar tracks and a variety of other noises. “Furrows Again” definitely has vocals – that I’m sure, but I have no idea what Youngs is singing about. I can’t decipher the vocals, either because it’s a different language, or he recorded them and played the vocal track backwards. While you only suffer for 3 minutes on the first tune, you’ll sit through an agonizing 13 minutes on “Too Strong for the Power.” And really, it’s much of the same stylistically. It’s still not enjoyable, and sounds as discombobulated as the rest of the album.
I feel like every song on the album is just a mix of noises thrown together, and for it to be acceptable as music, Youngs labels it as experimental. There’s even this one distorted guitar note that is present in each and every track on this album. It’s one simple note that rears its ugly head every minute to remind you that you’re listening to bad music. The only song that is barely listenable is the last one: “This is the Music.” Why? Because I can actually pick up on what Youngs is saying, and there’s an actual rhythm to it rather than white noise dispersed about a track. Unfortunately, it cannot save this album from the train wreck it has become over the previous five songs.
I get that some artists are trying to find a special sound and differentiate themselves from the rest of the crowd, but this is a really sad attempt at music. I don’t even know how to play guitar properly, but a few simple power chords and a weak vocal tracking make for a more coherent listening experience than this mess. Avoid at all costs, please.
I tend to give indie rock a hard time. While I love some indie rock I come across, most of the time I find it’s just suited for when you’re studying at your local coffee shop as background music. Even then, I tend to listen to my own music than the coffee shop’s soundtrack. Release the Sunbird’s “Come Back to Us” is a great example for something you’ll find playing over the loudspeakers while sipping your cappuccino, and it’s definitely not a bad thing.
Zach Rogue’s (frontman of Rogue Wave) new project delivers a really happy vibe from the first track to the last. Seriously – this is a really happy-sounding record. The first note I wrote down about the opening track was merely “happy sunshine.” Though “It’s All Around You” does open with a cool guitar riff and transitions into a really nice preview of what the rest of the album sounds like, with its “middle of summer” kind of feel. The concurrent male-female vocals of Rogue and Kate Long add a really nice touch to a few tracks, such as “No Light” and “Best Thing For Me.” They harmonize really well and solidify that joyous sound throughout the album.
I do have a few gripes about the disc though, and it’s mainly what I dislike about indie rock. A few of the tracks are very minimalist and don’t have much to offer. For songs like “A New You,” it works really well with its acoustic guitars and hopeful rhythm. However, “Everytime You Go” and “Always Like the Son” just don’t offer enough musical background to make it anything memorable. If you’re like me, these tracks, which are spaced throughout the record, will be skipped over time and time again.
Other choice tracks include “Back Strikes Back,” which sounds just as happy as the other tunes, but offers a somewhat catchy beat. This one is memorable and ultimately has a more memorable sound than its predecessors. “Outlook’s Anonymous” finally offers a proper close to 13 tracks of “happy sunshine,” with a ominous organ opening that bursts into a ceremonious ending of guitars and overlapping vocals.
I don’t have that many negative points about the album, other than its inability to differentiate one track from the next at times. I can look past that and admire this sort of indie rock. Does that mean it’ll be on repeat in my iTunes library for the next week? Nah, probably not. I’d rather reserve it for when I find myself working at the local coffee shop and they ask me to contribute to the soundtrack for my shift.
Despite pop, hip-hop and rap taking over album sales for the past few years, rock is not dead – and Foo Fighters proved just that last night in Montreal. Playing to an estimated 11 000 fans, the alt rock group formed from the dissolution of Nirvana absolutely rocked the Bell Centre with a 2.5 hour marathon of a setlist. It was one song after the other and no end in sight, and hardly ever a break in between two tracks. There was no letting up from Dave Grohl and company from beginning to end.
With the opening scream of “Bridge Burning,” the fire was ignited. Grohl was like a 10 year-old on speed, running around on stage from side-to-side, headbanging like a madman – which would be headache-inducing for any normal. Yet, Dave was like a god to those watching, as he burst into “My Hero,” giving way to what was probably the biggest sing-along of the night. He had the audience hanging on every word, and soon enough moshing with every guitar strum. When “White Limo” and “Arlandria” erupted one after the other, I basically went from tenth row to right against the barriers – which was more than satisfactory. And by this point, about seven songs into the set, there had not been a break.
Grohl finally rested for a minute while Hawkins on the drums gave the crowd some vital information:
“Our tour manager just informed us how much Montreal embraces rock’n’roll,” he said through the golden locks of hair covering his face, “because there are 3000 more people here tonight than there will be for Britney Spears tomorrow.” And so, the crowd cheerer and jeered in the arena’s usual loud fashion. If there’s really any truth to this, I’ll have to check and post it tomorrow. But hey, Grohl was happy with it: “We finally beat fuckin’ Britney Spears!”
The band played a lot of old favorites like “Learn to Fly,” “Breakout,” and Hawkins even pitched in on vocals with “Cold Day in the Sun.” All the while, crowd surfers were rampant, Grohl kept on running all over and having a guitar duel with lead guitarist Chris Shiflett. Dave obviously won, because he had the power of a rising platform in the middle of the arena. Let’s face it, as great as Pat Smear and Taylor Hawkins are as band members – the fact remains that Grohl is the true rockstar of the group. Being apart of Nirvana kinda does that, y’know?
“This is the part where I have to scream a fuckin’ loud as I can, right?” Grohl groaned as he neared the end of Monkey Wrench, “But I see all of you guys out there, and at that point – it’s easy. However, I like to do this part in the dark.” The lights shut off, and Dave goes off: “One last thing before I quit / I never wanted any more than I could fit into my head / I still remember every single word you said…” His voice is definitely suffering from the years of going all-out night after night, but he’s still got it.
Final highlights of the night: Had to be “All My Life,” with the crowd jumping and pushing and just going all out. The energy was everywhere, and the band was definitely not taken for granted. Grohl came out on the elevated platform for the encore, performing “Wheels,” “Best Of You,” and half of “Times Like These” acoustically. Fans knew every single word as per usual, and we couldn’t get enough. If Grohl’s voice could handle it, we’d all stay there for hours on end. “Everlong” brought the show to a perfect close.
So, no – rock has never been dead. And I have faith that if it ever does die, all we need to do is place a call to Foo Fighters for a resurrection. Few theatrics, amazing guitar riffs, and a lead singer whose energy at 42 years-old defies logic – a perfect recipe for one of the best night of your life, and mine.