If this were two years ago, this article would have taken place in small smoky bars, or unmarked distant lofts, with sweaty, fervent crowds who showed up because of word-of-mouth or because they knew someone who knew someone in the band. The band would play a too-loud and too-short show and everyone would go home tingling, drunk, grateful. The Hot Springs gained cool with ease, they walked into hipness like stepping out of the shower; quietly, steaming, and in bloom. Giselle Webber, a slick and all-out front woman makes quiet moans with moments of bursting warble, and she’s enchanting. She has a solo hip-hop project that I’ll cover at another time (provided she releases an album), but just know that her being an MC is integral to her presentation, her persona, her humming radiance in the Hot Springs. So, they rose to a certain cloud-level of fame in this city a couple of years ago, such that they got noticed enough to get funding for their sophomore album. It just came out, and the results, though not unheard of, are unexpected: in the time between then and now, they became a Canadian Rock Band.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with the phenomenon of a Canadian Rock Band, it has a lot to do with a Canadian identity, especially in regards to comparing the quality of Canadian art to the quality of American art. It’s not generally a factor very much any more because Canada has produced so many great things that there needn’t be much of a distinction any longer, but the difference was very apparent even 5 years ago. You used to be able to tell instantly that you were watching Canadian Television, or you could spot a Canadian Movie just by looking at the poster. And you knew when the radio was playing Canadian Rock because of government-mandated quotas of “Canadian content”. You may have heard of some of the bands I’m thinking of: The Tragically Hip, Wide Mouth Mason, Blues Traveler, I Mother Earth, Matchbox 20, Collective Soul, the list goes on.
Now, this is not to say that the Hot Springs album is immediately crappy. Not at all, I quite like parts of it. But it does have “that sound” that makes it perfect to play as part of a Can-con roster of artists. It’s non-threatening, it glimmers just the right amount, and it’s different enough that compared to BTO it sounds groundbreaking. I know it sounds like I’m dumping on this album, but I’m not, I’m very proud of the Hot Springs, and I will listen to this album, I just have to tell you that I didn’t expect this turn from this band, it’s like your older sister going off to college and coming back married and with a kid. “Oh, okay, if that’s what you want.”
Studio Juste Pour Rire (M for Montreal showcase)
209 St-Laurent, Montreal, QC H2Y
Tuesday, October 16th Cover: $12
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