Posts Tagged ‘Montreal’

If you caught Orville Peck on tour last year, you likely cried during the set of opener Le Ren, a.k.a. Lauren Spear. Spear has released material with two other projects this year — folksy band Maybel and pop-punks Skunk — and now as Le Ren she is gearing up to release Morning & Melancholia (via Secretly Canadian and Royal Mountain) on July 31st. The EP’s four tender folk ballads will leave listeners in awe and, once again, reaching for the tissues.

Two years ago, Spear’s ex-boyfriend was killed in a car accident. Since then, she has been struggling with the weight of being the sole keeper of their shared memories and in response, translated a sliver of that experience into music. Morning & Melancholia is a mediation on mourning, memory and how to live with the ellipses you’re forever left with in the wake of loss.

The way Le Ren is able to look tragedy directly in its eyes and never let her voice so much as quiver is owed to a few things. Raised on rural Bowen Island, British Columbia, the isolated lifestyle allows for a certain independent dedication to craft that is evident in her performances. With a folk and bluegrass study going back to her early teens, you can hear in Le Ren, the gorgeous folk formalism of Canadian heroes Kate and Anna McGarrigle, or The Holy Trinity of John Prine, Joni Mitchell and Bob Dylan. Their curious, deadpan and cosmic approach to life’s most brutal swipes feed Le Ren’s sensibilities, and her own lyrical couplets are as simply put as they are devastating. “Discussing songwriting feels the same as when someone asks about your tattoo,” says Le Ren. “You’re putting it out there, showing it in public right on your arm. Then, when someone asks you ‘Hey, what’s that tattoo mean?’, you’re shocked to have to explain it, as it is a choice that feels essential for a particular moment.”

Le Ren, moniker of 26-year-old Montreal-based musician Lauren Spear, announces her debut EP, Morning & Melancholia, out July 31st on Secretly Canadian / Royal Mountain. Today, she presents a new single/video, “If I Had Wings.” Following “Love Can’t Be The Only Reason To Stay,” “ a brief, delicate, and restful folk gem” (Uproxx), 

“If I Had Wings” sways with pedal steel and Le Ren’s stirring voice as she sings of wishing to be able to see a loved one again: “If I had wings // I’d fly away, oh lord // Ya, I’d be heaven bound // So I could see your face once more.” The accompanying video, directed by Ali Vanderkruyk, is spectral. “This video lives somewhere in the distance between Tkaronto (Toronto) and Nexwlélexm (Bowen Island). It was shot with an iPhone and on 16mm film and was processed, printed and scanned at Niagara Custom Lab in Toronto (where the director works as a technician).”

Le Ren’s music is gut wrenching, but sure-footed. And you can almost hear the slight smile on one side of her mouth as she sings, the knowing smile of someone who knows real pain, knows there’s surely more to come, but who also knows it doesn’t erase life’s humorous, enduring beauty.

’If I Had Wings’ from ’Morning & Melancholia’ by Le Ren, out July 31st on Secretly Canadian

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Pottery’s debut EP, No. 1, made our mid-year best post-punk list last year thanks to its bluesy, funky take on post-punk. This coming Friday , the Montreal five-piece are unleashing their first full-length, and it’s even more eccentric than we were expecting (or hoping). It’s full of psych-punk jams so surreal and danceable that falling down their wormhole and grooving to the beat are not optional. Make sure you polish off your dancing shoes before diving into its off-the-wall percussion and snappy guitars. Their sky-high dance-punk and witty psychedelia can hardly pack more tightly-coiled zip.

Here’s a jagged new single from Montreal band Pottery’s upcoming debut album, “Welcome to Bobby’s Motel”, which is out in June. It goes from a rigid start into something decidedly more funky. “While there are hints of environmental themes on this one, we mainly wanted to make a disco song with a robotic feeling, something that could be easily chanted,” say Pottery. “Austin was originally really interested in heat as a musical concept/feeling – some of the early album titles we threw around were ‘Hot Hot Hot’ and ‘Sun Fever’ – and there are a bunch of other heat references on the album [see previous single ‘Hot Like Jungle’. In the studio he’d be joking around and yelling stuff at us like ‘let’s make it hot!’ right before a take. A lot of that didn’t end up totally sinking in, but some did…like on this song.”

“Hot Heater” from ‘Welcome to Bobby’s Motel’ out June 26th on Partisan Records and Royal Mountain Records.

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Braids have been taking the time and space necessary for little miracles to occur. Burrowed in their Montreal studio, the band has spent the better part of three years crafting “Shadow Offering”, their 4th album, due out in June 2020 via their new label home, Secret City. On Braids’ fourth album, Shadow Offering, the Montreal art-pop trio is at its cleanest and most refined. They teamed up with producer Chris Walla, who teases out the rockier side of their tunes, turning the group’s taut synth reveries into glistening and forceful songs that tackle topics like abuse and desire and self-hatred. Raphaelle Standell-Preston’s voice is dizzying; she presents her fears not as a persistent dull ache but as something that is going to rip her apart from the inside out.

Unlike previous albums, Braids decided to stay close to home for the recording of Shadow Offering. Taking over a spacious sound recording studio tucked in an old warehouse, the band were able to slow down and creatively rediscover themselves. “With this album, we wanted to give ourselves time to achieve a higher caliber of artistry and collaboration,” Tufts says. No longer riding the novelty of youth, the band deliberately took time to recommit to themselves and their craft, and channel new energy into their music. They wrote 40 songs. They went through their Saturn Returns. They learnt how to support one another better. They drank a lot of La Croix.

The band sketched and re-sketched new material for eighteen months before lucky circumstance found Chris Walla (Death Cab For Cutie) renting out space in their studio. The four began wandering into each others’ rooms, curious about each others’ projects. Typically opting for a private and insular creation process, the friendship between the four saw the band sharing their songs with Walla, and naturally resulted in Walla co-producing and engineering Shadow Offering. Pushing the band out of their comfort zone, he at once broke and unified the band’s dynamic, unearthing individual creative energy long buried over the years. With a new sense of confidence, listeners will find Braids at their most personal, unabashedly flexing through their new music.

Braids are a Montreal-based, three-piece band. Formed in 2007, they have solidified a decade-long reputation for their musical ingenuity and established themselves as one of Canada’s most acclaimed art rock bands. With Standell-Preston’s vocals as the pillar of their sound, Braids weave organic and electronic elements together amidst a lyrical landscape that is intimate and emotionally-immersive

Braids

Prior to recording “Shadow Offering”, Braids’ continued intentions were to manipulate guitars to the point of being unrecognisable. Indeed, they have since admitted they felt they had succeeded once the guitar was hidden between layers of textures, loops and effects.

On their fourth full-length LP, the Canadian group have made a conscious choice to bring guitars to the forefront of their sound again. They rediscovered the instrument as a “vehicle for cathartic release, drawn to its visceral and authoritative qualities,” and were keen to embellish and utilise its imperfections and the spontaneity it can bring to a performance or recording. Montreal-based indie trio Braids will release their new album “Shadow Offering” on June 19th via. Co-produced with Chris Walla of Death Cab For Cutie, the album finds the band at their most personal, unabashedly flexing a new sense of confidence through songs that reach a higher level of artistry and collaboration.

New single ‘Just Let Me‘ explores the push and pull of a relationship, the narratives created between partners, and inevitable hardships of love. The accompanying video features singer Raphaelle Standell-Preston’s directorial debut with collaborator Derek Branscombe.

“The song was born of a desire to get through to one’s partner, to work through those feelings of complacency, stagnation, of pointless arguments; when you feel your partner, though sitting across the table from you, is further away than if they were not there at all,” stated the band. “It’s a yearning to understand how a love that was once there and so clear, could slip away. It asks the universal question that so many relationships encounter along their journey – where did our love go?”

With former Death Cab For Cutie guitarist Chris Walla in the producer’s chair, they entered into a new world of experimentation, utilising a plethora of equipment from Audio Kitchen amps, a 1967 Rickenbacker 340 and a 1963 Gibson LG-1 to masses of outboard gear and a reamping chain that included multiple rack units including an Elysia Mpressor for live sidechaining and even tremolo and phased vibrato effects.

A multi award-winning band, Shadow Offering follows their acclaimed 2015 album Deep in the Iris – which won the 2016 Juno Award for Alternative Album of the Year – and could be considered their most honest and intuitive yet. Here, the band detail their five favourite guitar parts on the album, from discovering chorus pedals to using their drummer as a rotary speaker…

Eclipse marked our first taste of the front-and-centre roll the guitar would come to play on this record. While tracking, we were uneasy over what elements would lead the mixes, and how a myriad of instruments and sonic explorations would all glue and fit into songs. We never recorded a record this way – producer at the console, amps and live tracking sessions, capture over construct. It required a leap of faith on our part, something a group of three highly strung control freaks admittedly struggled with.

With Eclipse, Chris and Raphaelle experimented ad nauseum with wonky open tunings for deep and resonant chords. We also discovered chorus – something we foolishly avoided for years. With Chris’s guidance, we coloured outside our comfort zone. Listening to the first mix draft was a decisive turning point in our process. After months spent chasing an ephemeral ‘idea’ of what guitars might bring to our songs, we finally developed the film so-to-speak, and the image staring back at us was bold, expansive and all-encompassing. Needless to say, we were pleasantly reassured that what we were striving for was possible.”

Snow Angel

“At once jarring and visceral, tracking for Snow Angel was also a moment of joy, of exalted discovery. After laying down the song’s basic structure, Raphaelle had asked to be set up in the live room on a whim, amps pinned, for a few takes of unscripted overdubs. It was a moment of flexing and experimenting with the musicality of an extremely loud amp. And for Raphaelle, the birth of an emotional conduit just as immediate as the human voice, to provide emotional armour, and a violent counterpart to the album’s most confessional and raw poetry.”

Fear Of Men

“This song is Austin’s shining guitar moment. Austin doesn’t play guitar, he plays drums and as such had a spare hand to lend during our guitar tracking sessions. With the amps cranked, we set him up in the live room – heavily earplugged – and got him to be a real live rotary speaker. Microphone-in-hand, he spun around the room in his best ‘flanger’ impression, and the resulting audio is about as bespoke a ‘swirl’ effect as one could hope for.”

Young Buck

“We mixed Shadow Offering in our Montreal studio. The studio has two rooms – control and live. We spent a month mixing, and a typical day saw Chris [Walla] and Mike our mix engineer in the control room working on a mix, while we spent the day in the live room, chasing all sorts of extra parts for second verses and second choruses, intros and outros.”

“We’d reconvene once in a while to share progress, listen to mixes, and trade song progress back and forth. We’d been battling with the groove in Young Buck, struggling to get the mix to lock. Upon listening to the n’th rough mix, it suddenly came into focus. Through sheer relief, we didn’t ask too many questions at the time, and it was only while digging through stems, long after the mixes were wrapped, that we discovered Chris had clandestinely been tucking layer upon layer of palm muted guitar parts into the mix, gluing the song together.”

Just Let Me

“Stories and process and memories aside, Just Let Me is our favourite guitar ‘moment’ on the record. At every step of the way, the song is structured around creating this luscious and blooming key change, centred on two interlocking guitars. If at the outset of this record we wanted to take a swing at guitars-as-centrepiece, this is the moment in which we unapologetically enjoy the fruits of this journey.”

Shadow Offering is out June 19th on Braids Musique Inc. and Secret City Records. Braids’ new album “Shadow Offering”

Leif Vollebekk: Off the Grid

The best drum machine always is a human being,” says Leif Vollebekk, underscoring the organic aesthetic of his fourth LP. With the soulful New Ways, the Montreal native aimed to escape “the grid” of modern music production: rejecting rigid metronomes in favor of the wavering pulse of a drummer, recording live to tape instead of endlessly editing in software. “The computer or the click track is a robot, so you’re working within robotic time,” he reflects. “You can be human within it, but I want the human to be on the outside.” New Ways exudes humanity. Over the fluid, oceanic piano chords of “Never Be Back,” Vollebekk alternates between a raspy Ray Charles moan and rapid-fire Kendrick Lamar triplet rhymes—occasionally just ahead of or behind the beat, depending on where the groove takes him. “It’s basically only about the feel,” he says, noting the record’s discarded placeholder title, The Way That You Feel. Given how gracefully these songs flow, it’s surprising to learn the album nearly didn’t exist.

Discouraged by the collective shrug that greeted his first two LPs, a pair of folky projects more blatantly inspired by his formative hero Bob Dylan, Vollebekk contemplated pivoting to another career altogether: “I thought, ‘If this doesn’t work, I might hang it up for a little while,’” he recalls. “Nobody needs another record, and I don’t need to keep recording when people aren’t coming to the shows.” He decided to go out on his own terms: Ignoring any kind of outside perceptions of his music, he wound up crafting his 2017 breakout, Twin Solitude, a set of “chill” ballads that generated an influx of Spotify streams, TV syncs and a shortlist nod for the prestigious Polaris Music Prize. New Ways, then, was built on the foundation of that goodwill. He wanted to “connect with people,” to be less meditative and “solipsistic.” So he used a bare-bones recording process that broke down almost every barrier between artist and listener: In the studio, he played and sang accompanied by a live drummer, later embellishing the tracks with unobtrusive bass and strings to “shape” the atmosphere. Having “cleansed his palette” of balladry, he moved away from “ethereal” sounds into a vibe slightly more upbeat, tighter sounding and direct. “For the longest time, I thought I wasn’t supposed to have feel,” Vollebekk says, reflecting on his sonic evolution. Now that feel is everything.

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Folk musician Brigitte Naggar released her latest album as Common Holly last year with “When I Say To You Black Lightning”. Her experimental folk songs are meticulously crafted—occasionally sinister and other times, pretty and nurturing, but always moving. Her character-driven song writing makes her a uniquely arresting lyricist, and no matter the unexpected detours her songs take, she always finds a way to reel you in. Although Common Holly’s sophomore album, When I say to you Black Lightning, is engaging from its very opening notes, its thesis statement doesn’t arrive until four songs in: “I think we’ve been measured out for pain since birth,” Brigitte Naggar sings on the woodwind-flanked folk rumination “Measured.” The album, a thrilling experiment in shattering the boundaries between folk, rock and occasionally punk, examines the human capacity to receive, cope with and deliver trauma. A huge leap from Naggar’s 2017 debut, Playing House, Black Lightning is rife with minimally detailed yet fully rendered character sketches, and Naggar’s deftness at seamlessly weaving dissonant guitar lines into her riveting stories elevates her music well above much of the crowded folk-adjacent field.

“When I Say To You Black Lightning” out October 18th.

what we say in private

Montreal, Quebec-based musician Alexandra Levy — who records and performs as Ada Lea— is also a painter and visual artist, and traces of her many creative abilities run throughout her debut album “what we say in private”, a beautifully colorful collection of profound pop songs to be released later this summer via Saddle Creek Records .

To her, music and visual art are different vessels for communicating similar ideas. Levy’s appreciation of female artists — including the writer Sylvia Plath, visual artists Frida Kahlo and Eva Hesse, and musicians Karen Dalton and Nina Simone — provides inspiration and guidance, informing her use of multiple artforms as tools for self-expression. Whether it’s creating music or art, “It’s a world that I can build around me and sit inside,”she says.Through all her work, Levy explores the concept of womanhood as it feels and looks to her, as well as love and how it transforms over time. She doesn’t shy away from exploring uncomfortable and painful emotions, either. With the brightness of love, strength, and hope contrasted with the darkness of loss, suffering, isolation, and abandonment, the Ada Lea album what we say in private is a varied and vivid record that constantly seems to shift in the light, bringing together all the intricate influences she’s collected over the years.

what we say in private began with a need to document the ending of an important romantic relationship. Following a tormented period of staying up all night (sometimes days at a time), frantically painting or writing songs as a means of coping, she journalled for 180 days in the hope of finding herself again. She conducted this period of analysis and introspection in private, like most of her creative pursuits, and the process eventually resulted in a rebirth: a rediscovery of self and a new sense of freedom and self-acceptance.

These chaotic feelings and the resulting catharsis are deeply felt in the final recording of what we say in private. Levy wanted the Ada Lea album to feel like a journal entry from those 180 days as she cycled through emotions. Throughout, she expresses feelings and thoughts that all humans experience behind closed doors and alone, but are conditioned to keep to themselves. This is reflected in the lyrics, the artwork, and the songs — together forming a public exhibition of deeply private matter. The album is a collection of raw, confessional, and at times messy emotions, presented to a society that can fear such realness, often favouring the uncomplicated, curated, and manicured.

Levy delivers something very special on what we say in private. Bold and daring, but also gentle and vulnerable, the album finds new ways of presenting its vision from one inspired idea to the next, a big leap into the wider world with passion and exuberance.

Released: July 19th, 2019

Alexandra Levy makes music for maximum intimacy: Augmented by acoustic guitars, she frequently sings in a weary, tortured whisper. But her deeply reflective breakup songs crackle with tension and life, thanks in part to arrangements that lean on found sounds and field recordings. All that quiet clatter helps lend a diaristic quality to songs that aren’t heard so much as listened in on. Appropriately enough, her debut album is titled What We Say In Private.

Less than a year after the release of her highly-acclaimed debut album, What We Say In Private, Montreal, Quebec-based musician Alexandra Levy – who records and performs as Ada Lea – returns in early 2020 with a new four-song EP which acts as a bridge between what’s come before and where she means to go next.

A mix of both the old and new, the woman, here EP takes its name from a brand new composition recorded recently in LA with Marshall Vore (Phoebe Bridgers, Better Oblivion Community Center). Perhaps her most direct work to-date, the new song offers a beautiful glimpse into the bold new chapter of Ada Lea. “I went to LA and recorded the song in a day and a half with Marshall,” Levy says of the song. “The writing and recording of this song happened like magic.”

Aside from the title-track, which is shared here alongside a raw and captivating demo version, the woman, here EP also offers two previously-unheard recordings from the What We Say In Private sessions, in the form of the reflective and melancholy ‘perfect world’, and the sparse and dream-like ‘jade’, which was inspired by a John Updike short story.

Ada Leaperfect world from the EP woman, A fascinating glimpse behind the curtain, Levy says that the new EP should be seen as being “like a second cousin” to what we say in private. “We included the songs that we still felt close to,” she explains, “but didn’t seem to have a place on the album.”

Ada Lea – “Wild Heart”
from the album “What We Say In Private – Out 7/19/19!

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Earlier this week, Montreal’s Elephant Stone released a new video for ‘Fox on the Run’, taken from their recent ‘Hollow’ LP, as well as a great remix of the band’s 2013 single ‘A Silent Moment’ by Tom Furse (The Horrors). Elephant Stone ‘Fox on the Run’ is from their sixth full-length, ‘Hollow’, which we put out earlier this year. The song is a sublime piece of ambient psychedelia that submerges you in waves of mesmerising synths, shimmering guitars and Rishi’s effects-heavy vocals –

Talking about ‘Fox on the Run’, bandleader Rishi Dhir explains: “During the writing of this track, I was listening to a lot of Yo La Tengo, specifically ‘And Then Nothing Turned Itself Inside-Out’, I loved the hypnotic element to their tunes. At the same time I kept hearing reports about ICE agents taking people away in the middle of the night—people who have been in America for years and worked hard…only to be now targeted by Trump and his cronies. The song was written from the perspective of someone who just wants to be somewhere safe and with their family.”

Vince Gauthier, the director of the video, describes it a “a visual companion to the song’s playful rhythms juxtaposed against a serene portrayal of the protagonist, untroubled by the chaos tearing at the fabric of his world.” Out today, the single also comes with a B-side remix of the 2013 track ‘A Silent Moment’ courtesy of Tom Furse of The Horrors and MIEN, another of Rishi’s project’s MIEN with Tom, Alex Maas of The Black Angels and John Mark Lapham of The Earlies. You can stream ‘Fox on the Run’ and the remix below, and buy ‘Hollow’ on vinyl now.

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Montreal trio Braids are releasing a new album, “Shadow Offering”, on April 24th via Secret City, but this week they pushed it back to June 19 due to COVID-19. On Thursday they also shared another new song from it, the nine-minute “Snow Angel,” via a Kevan Funk-directed video for the intense track. It’s an epic song that takes on social and political issues that are all the more relevant in this current crisis. “Should I even have a child at all?/This world is full up,” questions singer Raphaelle Standell-Preston in the lyrics. “I want to be a mother/But I shouldn’t bring in another.” It takes on global warming and the role all of us play in destroying the planet. If you want to get lost in the madness of the current moment, this is the song to turn to.

Standell-Preston had this to say about the song in a press release: “‘Snow Angel’ was written in the immediate wake of the 2016 US election, as our collective conscience took a sharp inhale. It’s a diary entry of sorts—a snapshot of the mind grappling with our era’s endless barrage of content and destruction, continents away and close to home. *This* moment, with our world in the midst of a pandemic, is admittedly a new context. But I can’t help but sense the song speaks to feelings many of us are experiencing—uncertainty, angst, and a desperate desire to make sense of it all.

“For me, it was deeply therapeutic to write and sing this song; saying things out loud can help us to not feel so alone, can help validate our natural fears about the future of our world, and can bring to light some of the hard questions that many of us are asking ourselves. I believe that art can change our relationship to fear. We hope this song can offer you a moment of catharsis and relief, in the same way writing and performing it has for us.”

Shadow Offering includes “Eclipse (Ashley),” a new song Braids shared last December. When the album was announced the band shared another song from it, “Young Buck,” via a video for the track. Shadow Offering was produced by former Death Cab for Cutie guitarist/producer Chris Walla.

Summing up the album, Standell-Preston had this to say in a previous press release: “There’s more hopefulness in this record than anything else I’ve written. I think the songs are more human, more tangible, more honest.”

Braids’ new album “Shadow Offering”