This week in Montreal there is nothing less important to speak of than POP MONTREAL, October 3-7, which enters its sixth year with a ridiculous breadth, depth and chutzpah. It’s probably the most exciting festival in all of North America; cooler than CMJ, more impulsive than SXSW, artier than NXNE, infused with Montreal’s own sense of play, style and gusto. While music’s at its centre, there’s so much more; master-classes by the likes of Albert Mayles, visual art by Jad Fair and Joseph Arthur, lectures by Patti Smith and Steve Albini, free dance parties, film screenings, kids taking it to the streets. The co-writer of this column, Dan Beirne, appears in a play. Everyone I know is either an organizer, a volunteer, or jawdropped in anticipation.
Last time I was in town for Pop Montreal, ca 2003, the only show I remember attending was by a little group called Cosmos Quasar (opening band: Arcade Fire). It was at a small venue, with maybe 40 people in the crowd. This year, it’s a rather different story. Some of the names who are making an appearance: Ted Leo, Pere Ubu, Julie Doiron, Magnolia Electric Co, Cody ChesnuTT, Patti Smith, Half Hapanese, Final Fantasy, Patrick Wolf, Grizzly Bear, Bun B, Islands, The National, Gary Lucas, Eric’s Trip, Sunset Rubdown, and Silver Mt. Zion.
If you were all here, I’d simply give you tips on what to see. But as you’re not, I’ll instead say a few words on some of the lesser-known local and Canadian acts who are most buzzy as we enter into 5 nights of mayhem. Every single act we have written about at Ajisignal is performing this week, and I’m sure some of the following we’ll revisit in future weeks:
Radio Radio – One of the alltime favourite discoveries of Pop staff in the initial listening sessions, Radio Radio are some kids from New Brunswick who hip-hop with the brash slip-slide of TTC but a dare sight more provincial mischief. Zow, wow, crisse.
Thundrah – Besides opening for Pere Ubu, Thundrah are standalone upstarts; they play a funky, spooked rock’n‘roll that’s somewhere between low groove and high drama. One of the most murmured-about of Montreal’s rock underclassmen.
Feuermusik – Free jazz played on saxophone and bucket. Fiercely feeling and captivating even to the uninitiated.
Magic Weapon – Led by Jordan Robson-Cramer (Sunset Rubdown, Miracle Fortress), Magic Weapon’s a band with just as much velocity as those other two. Synth and percussion heavy, zagging when you expect it to zig, it’s a music for first nights.
Basia Bulat – One of my favourite debuts of this year comes from Toronto’s Basia Bulat, a honey-voiced singer with an affection for Sam Cooke and Jeff Magnum. Her songs are beautiful, spirited, but underneath the loveliness is a deep emotional swirl, a courage and an ambivalence.
Priestess – The city’s greatest, kindest metal band.
Clues – Clues are the new project by Alden Penner (The Unicorns), Brendan Reed (Les angles morts, Think About Life, Arcade Fire) and Bethany Or (Liederwolfe). They’re kind of appeared out of nowhere, to make their first appearance at a small church show presented by Said the Gramophone. They’ve released only a medley sampler of an upcoming album – a track that shows ravishing ambition, big & small sounds, the gladdening joy of melody. Hotttest thing in the city, maybe.
at venues all over Montreal! Oct 3-7 2007
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about new music in cities.