Entries tagged with: Karkwa

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photos by Alexandre Bédard; words & additional photos by Bill Pearis

M83 (more by Josh Winkler InTheMO)

The final day of M for Montreal is traditionally the busiest, with an entire afternoon of Francophone bands and then the big show at the Metropolis theater. This year was even more packed, with a second tiny stage that was for "international delegates" only in Metropolis' Savoy Room to keep us entertained between acts at the main show.

Our badges also got us in to see M83 who were playing around the corner from the Metropolis at Société des arts technologiques (Le SAT) which was without a doubt the best show of the weekend. M83 play two sold-out shows in NYC this week: tonight (11/22) at Webster Hall and tomorrow (11/23) at Music Hall of Williamsburg. I'm a pretty casual fan of the band but the combination of great material, a fantastic live band (including keyboardist/vocalist Morgan Kibby), plus a killer light show and sound added up to one of the best shows of the year. The crowd was way into it and you couldn't not be swept along. If you can weasel yourself into one of these shows, I highly recommend doing so as M83 are firing on all cylinders right now. Not sure how much of the light show was M83's and how much was the venue's but it certainly made a giant impact for those of us who didn't force our way to the front.


There were a couple other bands who played the final night of M who are swinging through NYC soon so let's hit them first. Karkwa headlined the Metropolis event, which might have even been a small show for them. Even before winning the Polaris Prize last year for their album Les Chemins de Verre, Karkwa were selling out 3000 capacity venues in Montreal. Which makes the fact they're playing Rockwood Music Hall on December 8 all the more crazy. There has to be fans driving down from Montreal for the chance to see them in such a tiny space.

I saw Karkwa at M for Montreal three years ago when I dubbed them French-Canadian Radiohead but that tag doesn't really stick so much anymore. With Les Chemins de Verre the band have more easily digestible song structure but retain that soaring, widescreen sound. Yes, they sing in French which is the main reason why America has yet to care, but if you can listen to Sigur Ros and not worry about what they're saying, you can do it here. Karkwa are compelling live, absolutely worth checking out in such an intimate setting.

The Barr Brothers

The Barr Brothers were the other highlight of the Metropolis show. I was impressed last year, but the band have just gotten better as performers thanks to near-constant touring. That touring brings them to Joe's Pub on December 7 and Union Pool on December 8.

While not the type of music I normally listen to (KEXP/KCRW alt-folk), there is no denying they're skilled songwriters and a knockout live band. And clever arrangers too, prone to inventive instrumentation. In addition to a full-time harpist, Andrew Barr plays a "threaded" acoustic guitar which allows for a bowed-like sound, and homemade guitars and banjos. They really are great live and it won't be long before they are playing much bigger venues.

Random Recipe

The rest of the Metropolis show was filled with Big In Montreal acts: Stonesy rockers Galaxie, Random Recipe's crunchy hip hop, the lovely and talented Marie-Pierre Arthur (very Patrick Watson-ish), and Arianne Moffat.

Half Moon Run

In the Savoy Room, the "international delegates" got a second shot at seeing Half Moon Run who had wowed a lot of folks the day before. The room was packed for them and it's rare that a crowd of industry folk demand an encore but we did just that. Expect to be hearing a lot more about this trio soon.


The Savoy Room also had two sets for D'Eon who looked like Andrew WK but but whose music was an eccentric mashup of slo-jam R&B, mid-90s jungle, '80s New Beat and goth. It was weird, fun, most of the room was not paying attention but I kinda loved it. You can stream his album Palinopsia at the bottom of this post and D'Eon's got a split-12" out now with Grimes as well. Look out for this guy.

While I was at M83, the Savoy Room also hosted Elephant Stone and Leif Vollebekk, both of whom I caught last year.

Fanny Bloom

During the day Saturday was the annual Francophone showcase at Cafe Campus featuring eight bands, none of whom sang in English. Highlights were Fanny Bloom who fronts the kitschy, very French-sounding La Paterie Rose but whose solo material (the album's out early next year) was much to my taste. She's a real charmer.

Alclaire Ensemble

I also liked Karim Oullet who opened the show and brought a bit of world music flair to his set. We also got the kooky hip hop group Alclaire Ensemble who all wore silk masks; the Franco-Celtic sounds of Canailles; Alfa Rococco who are like a Montreal Roxette (sort of, less cheese though); Peter Peter who reminded me of The Gin Blossoms (a little dull);  Jimmy Hunt played Chanson-style folk (pretty good); and Alexandre Désilets whose set I missed due to a need for food. It's hard to pay attention on an empty stomach.

More photos from M for Montreal's Saturday showcases, a stream of the D'Eon album and tour dates for Karkwa and The Barr Brothers are below...

Continue reading "M for Montreal 2011 -- night 4 in pics & review (M83, Karkwa & the Barr Brothers who all play NYC soon & more)"

by Bill Pearis

As I mentioned briefly yesterday, I'm heading out to the M for Montreal festival which happens tonight through Saturday (11/16 - 19). This is the 6th Edition of the fest, and the fourth that I've attended. Once a showcase for up-and-coming Montreal bands that the festival organizers deemed "export-ready" and that took place primarily at one club (the two-stage Juste Pour Rire), M4M has expanded to include other parts of Canada in the last few years.

Juste Pour Rire closed shortly after last year's festival, so this year has expanded to other venues while also widening in scope. They've partnered with other international festivals (Osheaga, CMJ, SXSW) and have more bands than ever (including a few not from Canada). Bands this year include M83, Karkwa, The Barr Brothers, Active Child, Bran Van 3000 (remember "Drinking in L.A."?), CLAASS, Misteur Valaire, Anoraak, Random Recipe and the debut of Absolutely Free, the new band from 4/5s of  DD/MM/YYYY. Full line-up is here.

In total there's nearly 60 bands playing, which might not seem like a crazy amount for a festival. But M for Montreal is designed with little to no overlap, so if you attend the whole thing you see all the bands. It's going to be a busy week.  Look for more coverage (including my lovely point-and-shoot photography) coming later this week.

by Bill Pearis

DOWNLOAD: Naked on the Vague - Clock of 12's (MP3)
DOWNLOAD: Trust - Candy Walls (MP3)
DOWNLOAD: The Fresh & Onlys - Do You Believe in Destiny? (MP3)
DOWNLOAD: Cuffs - Privilege (MP3)

Naked on the Vague
Naked on the Vague

It's spring, it's Passover/Easter, flowers are blooming...let's talk goth. Sydney, Australia's Naked on the Vague are here this weekend for two shows: tonight (4/22) at Coco66 with Sacred Bones labelmates Trust and Silk Flowers, and then Saturday (4/23) at Bowery, kicking off their tour with Zola Jesus and Cult of Youth.

Naked on the Vague's new platter, Twelve Dark Noons, which is also the name of a new film that made its U.S. debut last night (yes I'm a little behind) at 92 Y Tribeca, and the band played an "experimental music" set beforehand. Tonight's show is a little more normal for the band -- it's the record release party -- though may not be normal to you depending on what you listen to.

Core duo Lucy Cliche and Matthew Hopkins have recently expanded the band to a four-piece, making for a fuller-sounding dark and doomy racket. Hopkins describes the new album as "Dracula fronting the B-52s." I'm not sure that's how I;d describe it, but this is certainly a more accessible record than last year's Heaps of Nothing which came out on Siltbreeze. If you like the '80s goth touchstones, you'll be into this. Check out "Clock of 12's" at the top of this post and the video is below.


Opening tonight are Toronto duo Trust who played earlier in the week at the Wierd party at Home Sweet Home. You may recognize Maya Postepski if you've seen Austra play live (she's their drummer). Along with singer Robert Alfons the duo "combine dark synth arpeggios, live and programmed drum beats with haunting, effected vocals." Hear all those things in Trust's debut single, "Candy Walls," which is downloadable above. (And watch the well-photographed, vaguely creepy video below.) Similarities to Postepski's other group are evident, which is to say if you like Austra but wish the songs were sung by a guy who kind of sounds like the Crash Test Dummies dude...Trust is pretty close to that. And not a bad thing. Locals Silk Flowers open tonight's show.

Trust will open for Austra on U.S. dates in May (including 5/23 at Mercury Lounge) if you can't see them tonight.

the Fresh & Onlys
the fresh and onlys

Keeping thing within the Sacred Bones realm, San Francisco's Fresh & Onlys are here tomorrow (4/23) at Music Hall of Williamsburg as they're on tour with Crocodiles. The band have been on a prolific tear for the last two years but have kind of slacked off in 2011. It's April and they've only just released their first record on the year. But it's a good one, Secret Walls (on aforementioned label), continues the band's differentiation from the SF garage scene they were lumped in with. There's not one rocker amongst its six tracks. Which is not a bad thing at all. Tim Cohen's songwriting just keeps getting better and the EP's expansive sound here is a great showcase for the superior musicianship found in all corners of the band. Lovely stuff.

The MHoW show is a pretty happening bill. In addition to Crocodiles, you've got Bay Area shoegazers Young Prisms and Bass Drum of Death, the latter of whom also play tonight at Glasslands.


Shifting gears, tonight at Pianos are Karkwa from Montreal who you might remember won the Polaris Music Prize in 2010 for Les Chemins de Verres, the first-ever Francophone album to receive the award. Yes, that means they sing in French though that really shouldn't stop you from digging them. I've described them before as the French-Canadian Radiohead, which is reductive but gets you there. So if you can listen to Sigur Ros and not worry about what they're saying, you can do the same for Karkwa. Check out their video for single "Le Pyromane" at the bottom of this post. They play giant rooms in Canada so to be in a room as tiny as Pianos should be interesting.


As previously mentioned, former Swell Maps and Television Personalities guy Jowe Head is here, playing tonight at Bruar Falls and tomorrow (5/23) at Cake Shop. Tomorrow's show is especially enticing, as it's the NYC debut of Cuffs which is the new band from Andrew Churchman who fronted much-loved Boston band Pants Yell! (That's their exclamation point, not mine.) Cuffs also has Pants Yell! drummer Casey Keenan, as well as "a member of Reports and the blonde kid from Big Troubles."

Cuffs are working on some real recordings as we speak but you can listen to some demos at their Bandcamp site, one of which you can download at the top of this post. For those familiar with Churchman's previous band, you already mostly know what to expect here. He's still writing delicate indiepop, though Cuffs have a little more groove. I remember him saying at Popfest (PY!'s last NYC show) that the new stuff would be more Prefab Sprout influenced and you can hear that lonely jazzy sound in "Albert Kroft."

Pants Yell! were always a louder, more rocking band live than on record, and I bet the same holds true for Cuffs. There also seems to be a little jammy-ness with them too (maybe the Big Troubles factor), so I'm really curious/excited for tomorrow's show.

That's the main stuff this weekend, but there are a few more day-by-day picks below.


Personal & the Pizzas, who played last night at Maxwell's, are at Cake Shop tonight laying on the cheese with Georgia's Barreracudas and Los Vigilantes. Personal & the Pizzas and the Barreracudas also play Bruar Falls on Sunday (4/24).

The Bass Drum of Death show tonight mentioned up the post is also with So So Glos, Xray Eyeballs, and Night Manager.

If you like The Drums, check out The Young Friends (who are signed to the Drums' Holiday Records) at The Gutter with Beacon and Kosovo.


It's a hard-to-pass-up bill at Glasslands tonight, with Hunx & His Punks, Shannon & the Clams (who played Cake Shop already this week), the wonderful Grass Widow and the K-Holes. Catch Grass Widow again on Sunday (3/24) at Death by Audio with Talk Normal.

And if you want to see that show, chances are you wish you could see Davilla 666 (who played Cake Shop earlier this week too), The Beets and Xray Eyeballs at Knitting Factory.


Personal & the Pizzas play Bruar Falls.

That's it for this week. Tour dates and videos are below...

Continue reading "Naked on the Vague, Trust, The Fresh & Onlys, Cuffs, Karkwa, Personal & the Pizzas & more in This Week in Indie "

words & photos by Dominick Mastrangelo


La pluie. It just wont stop. From sun up to sundown and well into the night here in Montreal the rain continued, making the second day of Pop Montreal (Thursday, September 30th) , and everyone attending, a soggy mess. Buses were crowded, Bixi (the public bike racks that blanket the city) were not an option. It was taxis or hoofing it.

The rain forced the "Pop BBQ" indoors and up Boulevard St. Laurent to the Barfly where Lost In The Trees were first up. The set times were moved up an hour and upon arriving there were maybe 20 people in the bar. Nestled back in the corner the seven-member ensemble performed, without microphones. It had the feeling of a Take Away show with people carrying on quiet conversations, watching the band or sitting at the bar nursing a beer. After playing a raucous sold-out show the night before it had to be just a bit disappointing for the band. But you wouldn't know it by how they sounded.

After hiding out in the Notman House where registration and the hospitality area are, it was back up the boulevard and a fun, hip-hop set by Montreal's Socalled. "Does anybody want to play bass with Socalled tonight?" asked bandleader Josh Dolgin to the rapidly filling up space. (One of the curious things about some of these shows in Montreal is the way a venue will be nearly empty 10 minutes before a set and by the time a band takes the stage nearly packed.) Two songs in a guy came walking up with a bass and joined right in.
While waiting for Greenland's Nive Nielsen to begin at boutique clothing store next to the Barfly, I popped in to see who was on and was surprised to catch Brooklyn's She Keeps Bees killing it to what appeared to be the same 20 people from a few hours earlier.

Then if was off to see the see Polaris Prize-winners Karkwa. I arrived early and caught most of Montreal's Leif Vollebekk. Sounding a bit like the Bowerbirds with a voice that sounded equal parts Ryan Adams and Andrew Bird, his set was the more impressive of the two bands. And their sounds couldn't have been more differennt. If you stripped away the blistering light show, Karkwa's songs come away a bit less impressive. But from a spectacle standpoint it was worthy and the Montreal crowd was very much in love with them.

A dash through the rain and into The National to close out the evening. I arrived early and caught the last bit of the Black Feelings. Women followed and might have been the highlight of the night. Liars capped the evening and were loud, loud and more loud.

Read about the first day of the festival. HERE. More pictures from the second day below...

Continue reading "Pop Montreal 2010 - Day 2 in pics & review (Liars, Women, Karkwa, She Keeps Bees, Socalled & more) "

The Luyas @ Webster Hall in April (more by Sarahana)

The 2010 edition of the Pop Montreal music festival (Montreal's answer to CMJ and SXSW) kicks off today. Highlights on the schedule include, in the legends department, Swans (who are also touring through NYC), Van Dyke Parks (who is also touring through NYC), and a performance by Mary Margaret Ohara (with an opening set by Doveman). I also discovered a new collaboration on the schedule: Light Fires is the "joint venture of musicians Gentlemen Reg Vermue and Ohbijou's James Bunton." Karkwa just won the Polaris Prize and they'll be playing a showcase too.

In the "our favorite Montreal bands" department, there will be also be sets by hometown favorites Think About Life and The Luyas (not to mention Radio Radio, Parlovr, Braids, etc, etc...).

Speaking of The Luyas, congrats to them!

"We recently fell head over heels for the space-age experimental pop sound of the Luyas, and after a long courtship, some late night long distance phone calls, and at least one senior prom dance, we can now welcome them to the Dead Oceans' family. Hailing from Montreal, the Luyas are Pietro Amato, Mathieu Charbonneau, Stefan Schneider, and Jessie Stein.

It is easy to get lost in the Luyas' musical world-their retro-futurist songs are drenched in echo, and built from guitars, French horn, piles of keyboards, drums and percussion. Singer/guitarist Jessie Stein expands the band's already wide musical vocabulary when she plays the Moodswinger-a 12-string electric zither designed by the Dutch experimental luthier Yuri Landman.

The Luyas are currently working on their forthcoming first album with Dead Oceans, slated for release in early 2011. Working with engineer Jeff McMurrich (Tindersticks, Constantines), The Luyas have also teamed up with friend and colleague Owen Pallett who is lending his arranging skills and violin playing to a number of tracks." [Dead Oceans]

The Luyas will be back in NYC for CMJ later in October.

And speaking of Swans, they kicked off their reunion tour last night at the Troc in Philly. A single video was posted to YouTube. Check it out below...

Continue reading "Pop Montreal kicks off, Luyas got signed, Swans on tour"

photos by Kam Tambini

"floor at webster hall about to collapse for caribou" - t m


Though Caribou was shortlisted for the 2010 Polaris Prize, the highest honor went to another:

Montreal indie rock act Karkwa took home the Polaris Music Prize for its fourth album, "Les Chemins de Verre" or "The Glass Paths" (Audiogram)...The band received $20,000 Canadian ($19,415).

"Les Chemins de Verre" was recorded in part at La Frette studios in Paris during breaks on their French tour. "It's an unbelievable thing to win this prize," said the band in a statement. "We have a lot of respect for this contest and we think they do it for the right reason (music)."
Oh well. Daniel Snaith probably didn't have a chance anyway, since Caribou already won it in 2008.

Caribou is currently on the road and will stay there until the middle of December. Daniel and and his live band played Webster Hall in NYC on Wednesday (9/22) with help from Emeralds and Arp. No Emeralds/Arp pictures, but a few more Caribou ones, with a video, and the band's exhausting-looking tour schedule, below...

Continue reading "Caribou played Webster Hall (pics), didn't win the Polaris, and is now on tour (dates) "

The Besnard Lakes @ Bowery Ballroom in March (more by Andrew St Clair)
Besnard Lakes

The short list for the 2010 Polaris Prize has been announced. The ten nominees are below...

Continue reading "2010 Polaris Music Prize short list announced (includes Caribou who will DJ Glasslands after the Governors Island show) "

Pop Montreal 2009 (more by Ryan Muir)
Pop Montreal

POP Montreal, sort of like the CMJ of Montreal, but less industry-like, returns for the 9th time from September 29th to October 3rd. Check out the sneak peak of their intial lineup below...

Continue reading "Pop Montreal 2010 dates & initial lineup - includes SWANS"