M for Montreal 2018 day 3: Le Galaxie, Fet.Nat, Russell Louder & more
When I awoke on Friday morning to about five inches of snow in Montreal, to which we’d get a couple more throughout the day, I can’t say i was looking forward to trudging around in it as the busiest day of M for Montreal yet, but it turned out to be the most fun and most musically fruitful of the trip so far.
I did skip out on the annual M for Mikey bus tour of the city, hosted by festival programmer Mikey Rishwain (I’ve done it more than once in years past, and admittedly didn’t really want to go to the mountaintop Parc du Mont-Royal in 20 degree weather) but I did meet up with the tour at the offices of Bonsound Records to catch the last song or a short set from their artist Christian Sean whose anthemic pop seemed a little stifled by the ad-hoc sound set up. We then traveled up a few floors of the same building to the LANDR audio mastering offices for a closing cocktail party, a taco buffet, and a performance by Munya whose EP I like a lot. (listen below). Her solo setup, otherworldly synthpop (not too far from Melody’s Echo Chamber) sounded great — good sound is not in question at LANDR — but it was a little hard to compete with free drinks and tacos and loud schmoozing. Maybe I will catch her when her fall tour with Cults hits Brooklyn’s Baby’s All Right on December 8 or when she headlines Elsewhere Zone One on January 16. All dates are here.
From there I headed to Casa Del Popolo for a showcase of Irish bands. Derry artist Roe was up first, making “grumpy electro-pop” in a very effective one-person-band format, playing guitar, drum pads and an MPC. Her songs were good and her voice strong. Nice. Up next was Bad Bones, aka Dublin electronic artist and producer Sal Stapleton. Her other career as a visual effects artist plays heavily into Bad Bones live show, with gorgeous projections, and two dancers who, like her, were wearing chainmail masks — it all fit with the glitchy, dark, electro-R&B she makes.
The last of the Irish bands was Dublin’s Le Galaxie who were one of the surprises of the night. Looking like a bunch of football fans in matching jerseys, and led by the very tall, very bearded Michael Pope, the group make infectious DFA-style dance-pop. (Former Fight Like Apes singer Mary-Kate Geraghty is a great new addition to the band.) In much the way Hot Chip were when they started, the juxtaposition of their look and the music they make catches you off guard, as does when Pope starts dancing. They were great, and you can check out their new album, Pleasure, below.
I stuck around Casa for the official Lisbon Lux showcase. The Montreal label, run by Julien Manaud (whose old band Chinatown played the first M for Montreal that I went to in 2008), specializes in synthpop and they were showing off a few of their newer signings. Trans artist Russell Louder was up first and kind of knocked me out. Musically, Russell is a direct descendant of Vince Clarke style electro-pop, but modernized with loop pedal voicing. On that, Russell’s got an amazing voice, yes shades of Yaz’s Alison Moyet, and can really belt it out, building layer and layer of harmonies. (Though it’s powerful on its own, like on new single “Cost of Living.”) Backed with a terrific drummer, it was a great first impression.
Radiant Baby, who were next, were making their debut a full live band. (Felix Mongeon, who is Radiant Baby, had previously played as a solo act.) They absolutely filled Casa’s small stage with gear, you could not put one more thing up there, and it sounded like it too. His music is lush, mixing the organic and synthetic, and had a lot of help from Le Couleur’s powerhouse drummer Steeven Chouinard. But the star is the well-constructed songs and he’s got a voice, sounding a little like Lloyd Cole, that works great with music like this.
I ventured across the street to La Sala Rossa to end the night with Hull, Quebec’s Fet.Nat, who make experimental jazz-punk a la The Ex. Skronky, really loud, it was a great jolt on which to end the night.
Saturday is the final day of M for Montreal, and includes the annual Francophone afternoon showcase and then shows tonight from Kero Kero Bonito, How to Dress Well, Pottery (who I’ve been told not to miss by multiple people), Chandra and more. You can check out a few of my blurry iPhone pics in the gallery above, and listen to music from the artists I saw on Friday, below.