0 comments May 28, 2008

Pas Chic Chic

Montreal band Pas Chic Chic has been getting some rapturous press of late, both locally and nationally.

They're often been compared to Arcade Fire, and even though their sound is quite different, they more than merit the comparison because of their energy and their magpie ability to steal from all kinds of music genres to create something completely unique and exciting.

Front man Roger Tellier-Craig talks about his early inspiration for the band:

I wanted to do a band like this for a very long time. When I was around 18 years old and barely playing an instrument, I first heard Serge Gainsbourg. I had been listening to a lot of Anglophone music before that, stuff like My Bloody Valentine, Sonic Youth, the Velvet Underground and Brian Eno and I have to admit that at the time I thought all francophone music was shit ... Stereolab first showed me you could sing in French and make interesting music, but when I heard Gainsbourg I realized that there was a history of French music I had never heard of through radio or TV... [more]

Pas Chic Chic is certainly creating a buzz about town. I just hope audiences outside of Montreal, and Canada, will get to hear this extraordinary band.

Here's "Haydée Morcelée" from their latest album Au Contraire:

[Pas Chic Chic - MySpace] [Band website] [eMusic]

0 comments May 26, 2008



Oops, was I shouting? I'm feeling somewhat discombobulated. Where the hell have I been? Karkwa has a new album out.

I have this terrible habit with music -- when I love a band, I will thrash their music until I categorically cannot listen to them ever again. (Or not until they've put out new material, at least. And yes, I do realise that this is some kind of failing on my part.)

I have had Karkwa's album, Les tremblements s’immobilisent, on fairly constant iPod rotation for the past year, however, and it has withstood such treatment remarkably well.

I love Les tremblements. It's so fluid and accomplished and intricate, full of dark, moving, complex melodies. It still has the power to give me a rush of adrenaline and to leave me transfixed and elated.

If their latest is even half as good, I'll be a happy camper.

I am rushing out now to buy the new(ish) album, but I leave you with "L'épaule froide" and "La fuite":

[Karkwa - MySpace] [Band website]



Who is Danger? The newest protégé on the so-called Nu-Disco, or French Touch, scene? (Techtonik anyone?)

And who is DatA? Who the hell knows? That's what MySpace is for!

En tout cas, and whatever the label, I am a sucker for that sound.

So sue me.

[Danger - MySpace] [DatA - MySpace]

4 comments May 23, 2008


I first heard Aussie singer Sia Furler on the haunting Zero 7 tune Distractions.

That song still has the power to make the hairs on the back of my neck stand up.

None of her solo work has had quite the same impact on me, but I've found myself following her career over the years, simply because I find her voice so unique and gorgeous.

Plus she makes it all look absolutely effortless.

Here she is for a live performance on the KCRW radio show with Nic Harcourt, singing "The Girl you Lost to Cocaine" (with the added bonus of some unusual chair dancing):

The tune is from her latest album Some People Have Real Problems, (which unfortunately, and quite possibly, has the worst cover art of all time.)

In person she seems unpretentious, bubbly and thoroughly charming.

Here's another personal favourite from her latest album, the Zero 7-esque "Beautiful Calm Driving":

[Sia - MySpace] [Artist website]

0 comments May 22, 2008


Back in the day, and stuck as we were (are?) at the arse end of the world, Kiwi listening tastes were very much dictated by what was going on in the UK, America and Australia.

Very little from Europe filtered down to us.

Consequently I was introduced to the myriad joys of bands like Rita Mitsouko, Plastic Bertrand and Indochine rather late in life.

I certainly made up for lost time, and consumed these icons of trashy pop greatness like a girl starving. (I am pretty much a sucker for anything sounding remotely 80s.)

It's only quite recently I became aware that, for Indochine at least, there was life beyond the eighties.

Indochine are the ultimate purveyors of driving melodic pop: their music is like candy.

It gives you a massive sugar rush, spiking you high into the stratosphere. And although it's true that too much in one sitting has the potential to leave you with a tension headache, taken in small doses, Indochine are almost guaranteed to put a smile on your dial.

Here's "Adora" from Alice et June:

[Indochine - MySpace] [Amazon]

0 comments May 19, 2008

Monday Meltdown - Ladyhawk

When I say Ladyhawke, I'm talking about Kiwi singer Pip Browne, not the execrable 80s movie, and not the band from Vancouver.

Sharon O'Neill lookalike (if you're a kiwi kid of the 80s you'll know who I'm talking about), Ladyhawke wears her influences firmly on her sleeve: Think Stevie Nicks, with a healthy dose of Chrissie Hynde attitude, and a youthful, vulnerable quality vis-à-vis Kim Wilde, circa "Kids in America".

Her track "Paris is burning" has been given the Alex Gopher treatment, and what a thing of beauty it is.

Gopher's mash-up of "Paris is Burning" has a definite 80s aesthetic, which is almost certainly why I find it irresistible. I love the cycling, sinuous synth line, the handclaps, and the LCD Soundsystem-inspired cowbell in the background.

The song teeters on the edge of all-out cheesiness, but this should be true for any good club tune worth its salt.

All told, "Paris is Burning" is a delicious, thoroughly intoxicating pop confection.

Check it out:

[Ladyhawk - MySpace]

1 comments May 18, 2008

Sebastien Tellier

"L'amour et la violence" is the final track off the album Sexuality by french composer Sébastien Tellier.

The album was produced by Daft Punk's Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo, and there are definitely traces of Punk all over this album. But Tellier, a multi-instrumentalist, singer and songwriter, is extraordinarily talented, and "L'amour et la violence" is a beautiful meditation on love, life and regret.

It's not so much in the lyrics of the song, but in the mood it creates.

So melancholy, so sweetly tragic, and oh, so very french....

[Sebastien Tellier - MySpace] [Artist website]

3 comments May 17, 2008


With the advent of the internets -- that series of tubes -- there's been a breadthless proliferation of every kind of site, blog, vlog you can imagine, covering every possible, conceivable subject under the sun.

And with this massive overload of information, we're now seeing a corresponding mushrooming of sites that try to collate and organize all this information into some semblance of order.

Google, of course, is the largest and most well-known of these "collators". Yet as effective as it is, even a Google search can feel like you're dipping haphazardly into the pages of the I Ching.

For music lovers the possibilities are endless. The myriad avenues for finding new music are quite wondrous, if not downright daunting.

Long gone are the days when the music you heard was dictated by those who controlled radio and TV. (The interwebs have put paid to that kind of hegemony, and good riddance, I say.)

There's a veritable plethora of music sites, MP3 sites and music blogs out there now (including this one, lost and spinning in cyberspace).

Along with this explosion of noise are the sites that try to shape and order the chaos: Hype, Deezer, Elbows, 3hive, Fingertips, to name but a few (of the best). Then there are the ones that bring in the social networking aspect: iLike, Last fm, etc.

My absolute favourite, by far, of all these sites, however, is Fairtilizer.

Don't let the name put you off -- Fairtilizer is a music lover's paradise.

Truly international, with music from every possible genre, Fairtilizer works on the notion that, by "word of mouth", good songs will naturally out. Listeners can vote for the tunes they like, create playlists or listen to other people's playlists. If you vote for a song, it pushes that song higher in the charts. You can see what songs are charting the highest for that day, week, or month.

There are a few things that are less than perfect with the site: You can't search by artist, for example, which seems a bit odd. And the search function itself appears random (if not completely broken).

To me, however, these things only make the site more endearing. It's like finding a vast cave of treasures, where each and every gem you uncover is all the more thrilling because of the surprise of it. You can spend countless hours there, and know that you've barely scratched the surface.

When I joined Fairtilizer, it was still in beta, so I had to be invited by a friend. I'm not sure if that's still the case. [If you're reading this, though, and you think you'd like to take a squiz, then drop me a line and/or leave me a comment (with your email address), and I'll send you an invite.]

If you love finding new sounds, Fairtilizer is heaven.

I'll leave you with "Cockney Thug" from Rusko. Because who can resist a tune where the chorus consists of a dubstep loop around the word 'f-ck'? Who indeed...

1 comments May 15, 2008

Broken Social Scene

Canadian rock collective, experimental outfit and critical darlings, Broken Social Scene, have always been just a little bit too squirrelly for me.

Having said that, though, there are a couple of their tunes that take pride of place on my all-time-most-favourite-songs-ever-ever-list.

When they get it right, Broken Social Scene come close to transcendental.

A song that might begin with an unusual rhythm and complicated time signatures will suddenly open out into a sprawling, mesmerizing soundscape transporting the listener far, far from the madding crowd.

And who could ask for more than that, really?

Here's "Frightening Lives" and "F--ked Up Kid" from the album Spirit if..., (which is, in fact, the first in the Broken Social Scene Presents series, which aims to showcase the solo efforts of different BSS members -- in this case, founder Kevin Drew).

[Broken Social Scene - MySpace] [Amazon]

2 comments May 12, 2008

Crystal CastlesDeus

Sometimes the iPod's shuffle feature throws up the most weird and wonderful juxtapositions.

How about Crystal Castles' "Courtship Dating" followed by dEUS' "Suds and Soda"?

Pure brilliance.

Toronto's Crystal Castles have been getting a lot of ecstatic press lately, and deservedly so (in my most humble opinion).

I've seen lots of reviews by blokes raving about how the Atari sound takes them right back to their game-boy-geek adolescence. It's a "I-
guess-you-had-to be-there" kind of thing, and since I wasn't, I don't get it. But I take their word for it.

For me, Crystal Castles suggest some kind of f*cked up, magnificent mélange of Sleater Kinney, Le Tigre and Soulwax.

They're their own trip, though, no question. So if you haven't yet, you should leap on the ride!

As for dEUS, they're old favourites. And somehow CCs' "Courtship Dating", with its shouted, call and response chorus segues perfectly into the see-sawing intro and shouted, disjointed verses of "Suds and Soda".

Go figure.

[Crystal Castles - MySpace] [dEUS - Band website]

Update: Seems CC are in a bit of hot water of late, for liberally pilfering samples from a community they'd previously denied any knowledge of. (Thanks to my anonymous commenter for the tip.) There's a good breakdown over at Create Digital Music of the controversy, along with an interesting discussion and examples of the offending songs.

3 comments May 8, 2008

Fuck Buttons

People go crazy for summer here in Montreal.

Windows are thrown open, pale, sickly faces are lifted to the sun, and clothes are removed in a most reckless and arbitrary manner.

We creep out from our slovenly, smelly little nests and slowly unfurl in the warmth.

People are happy. They smile at strangers in the street. Everyone is all hail-fellow-well-met. The world is full of endless opportunity.

At the beginning of every summer, I join the rest of Montreal in this collective, dizzy exhalation of joy.

Sadly, it lasts barely a moment.

My summer bubble of amnesia bursts abruptly, and I remember -- with clenched fists and an ever present snarl -- why summer in Montreal is an awful time for grumpy old misanthropes (like me).

Summer means construction.

It means every man and his dog decides they have to fix their rotting balconies and sinking driveways and collapsing roofs.

And god forbid that construction crews start at 9 a.m. like every other civilized profession.

No. Construction crews start their day at 4-fucking-a.m.

Alright, I concede: that may not be strictly true. But when you're fast asleep at 7 a.m. and woken by what sounds like a truck backing up in your living room, pipes dropping from several stories into your bedroom, a band saw in your kitchen, and men yelling at each other in your bathroom, it feels like 4-fucking-a.m.

Disorientated and disgruntled after this less than auspicious wakeup call, you weave off to work on the bicycle you pulled out of storage at the beginning of spring.

You've decided it'd be a great idea to risk life and limb by entering the insane and unpredictable world of Montreal's roads, where, daily, pedestrians, cyclists and drivers try to kill one another through various staggering displays of inattention.

(The season has barely begun, and I, for one, have already kissed the asphalt. A jay-walking pedestrian stepped blindly off the pavement, I slammed on the breaks -- and flew right up and over the handlebars. Quite spectacular, really. The bruises are only just starting to fade.)

Having braved the roads once again at the end of your work day, you stagger into your apartment and collapse on the couch. You sip your lemonade and enjoy the breeze and think how nice it is to have escaped the madness outside.

You're startled from your reverie by a blood-curdling scream.

It's a child screeching, full-throated, at the top of her lungs. My god, is she being garroted? Is someone trying to remove her eyeballs with a fork?

You leap from the sofa and bolt onto your balcony, looking around wildly for the source of the noise, so you can run and help.

Down on the street below you see some neighbourhood children. They are playing on the grass. They are being watched over by a guardian. The screaming-banshee-child is one of their number. She lets one loose every minute of so.

You can only stare in abject horror and wonder: if you'd made that kind of noise when you were a child, your mother would've garroted you.

While you're gazing at this perplexing scene, a neighbour from the opposite apartment block comes out onto his balcony. (You could probably spit on his shoes, your balconies are that close together.)

As you glance over, you see him whip out some kind of mouth organ piano thing.

He begins to play. Tunelessly, as far as you can make out.

Now you're staring in open-mouthed consternation at your neighbour.

Number one, he's a grown man, why is he playing this fucking toy? Number two, what makes him so certain that everyone within a two mile radius wants to hear him play his fucking toy?

Right about now your nerves are at snapping point.

You stomp inside.

Once you threw open your windows to feel the warm, refreshing breeze.

Now all you want to do is slam them shut on this mayhem.

Which is not an option, of course, since in no time at all you would be sweltering in a hellish oven, consumed by indignation and ire.

Ah summer.

What power you have to make us suffer and like it.*

If I could set the experience of a Montreal summer to music, it would have to be Fuck Buttons' "Sweet Love for Planet Earth".

Oh, sweet, sweet irony.

[Fuck Buttons - MySpace] [eMusic]

*Russell Baker

2 comments May 5, 2008

The Do

Discovery of the day: The dø vs. Heyday.

The who?

Anyway. Big sound. Fuzzy, galloping bass, anguished vocals -- it's like the Knife collided with Röyksopp in a dark alley way, got carnal, and had a love child (long lost twin, rumour has it, of Mika).

Dance music this fun should be a crime.

[the dø - MySpace] [Amazon] [Heyday - MySpace]