Thursday, December 31, 2015

My Faves for 2015

  1. The Adam Brown - Sometimes I Try
  2. Kendrick Lamar - To Pimp a Butterfly
  3. Failure - The Heart is a Monster
  4. No Aloha - No Problemo
  5. Les Marinellis - Ile de Rêve
  6. Parkay Quarts - Content Nausea
  7. Mikal Cronin - MCIII
  8. FUZZ - II
  9. Peach Kelli Pop - Peach Kelli Pop
  10. Connie Converse - How Sad How Lovely (vinyl release)
  1. Scientist - Scientist Rids the World of the Evil Curse of the Vampires (reissue, Beatnick)
  2. The Koala - The Koala (og press, Cheap Thrills)
  3. Dr. John The Night Tripper - GRIS-Gris (og press, Salon de disques in October)
  4. Ramones - Rocket to Russia (og Canadian press, POP Montreal record fair in September)
  5. Magnetic Fields - 69 Love Songs (Merge reissue, preordered direct)
  6. Lothar and the Hand People - Presenting... (Phonopolis)
  7. Les Miserables - No Tyme Records comp (POP Montreal record fair)
  8. Roy Wood's Wizzard (Aux 33 Tours)
  9. Nomeansno - Wrong (og press, End of an Ear in Austin freaking Texas)
  10. Eric's Trip - Love Tara (Sub Pop reissue on white vinyl, Discogs)
  11. Happy Flowers - Oof (Aux 33 Tours)
  12. Morlocks - Emerge (Aux 33 Tours)
  13. Isaac Hayes - Black Moses (gatefold, Death of Vinyl)
  14. Red House Painters - Rollercoaster (reissue, Cheap Thrills)
  15. Cameo - Word Up (Friperie Renaissance on Mont-Royal)
  16. The Kids - The Kids (Phonopolis)
YOUR NEW FAVOURITE ROCK 'N' ROLL ALBUM: Hound - Out of Space -- Streaming right here: WeAreHound

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

POP Montreal 2015: Les Marinellis @ Théâtre Fairmount

POP You Did Me Wrong

It was day two of POP Montreal, and after consuming my fill of veggie dogs & beer at the Quartiers POP barbecue and taking a quick cat nap, I made my way to Théâtre Fairmount and got there just in time to catch Les Marinellis opening for Mikal Cronin. It was quite disappointing to discover the band playing to a virtually empty room. That big open space in front of the stage was probably the worst thing about POP Montreal this year, and this particular performance by the band was lacklustre as a result.

Hey wait! Believe me, I'm not faulting Cedric, Alix, Jef, Ben, and Alexis! I know what they can do. Les Marinellis have lots of raw personality and spunk when there's an audience there to actually see and interact with them. The band truly shines when people are around to dance like maniacs to their brand of rock 'n' roll. I think tacking them on to the beginning of a Mikal Cronin show did the band a great disservice, especially since Les Marinellis were one of the few home-grown francophone acts (besides Les Breastfeeders, Félix Dyotte, and Cœur de pirate—were there more?) playing the festival.

Adding them to The Sonics show would have exposed the band to a wider audience that "gets" who they are and what they're doing, and I think the band would have been much more pumped to be there with their people. This was certainly a POP programming error that will take a little bit of time for this fan to forgive and forget. On the up side, Cedric Marinelli was dressed in tattoos and sequin hot pants, and I finally grabbed a copy of their latest record, Île de rêve (P.Trash), all beaten and chewed up by the band.

Monday, September 21, 2015

POP Montreal 2015: Three songwriting tips from Andy Kim!

"The Icon: Montreal's Andy Kim talks songwriting", presented by SOCAN

Montreal pop legend Andy Kim returned home for The POP Symposium event "The Icon: Montreal's Andy Kim talks songwriting" at POP Quarters on September 17, 2015. Joined by his friend Torquil Campbell from indie-rock band Stars—with seasoned fans and new admirers in the audience—Mr. Kim told a genuine and heart-felt story about his life as a young Andrew Youakim living in Villeray who left home as a teen in 1963 to follow his dreams.

"I'm here because I dreamt this life," he said, and it was at the Brill Building in New York City where this multi-talented and brave young songwriter got his start. Inspired by his father, three brothers, and a beautiful young receptionist at the Brill, Andy Kim went on to compose many memorable tunes, most notably the number one hits "Sugar Sugar" (co-written with Jeff Barry and recorded by fictional teens, The Archies) and his iconic love song "Rock Me Gently". 

With a career that spans 19 hit singles and over 30 million records sold, Andy Kim was so generous to share his top-three tips for aspiring songwriters and dreamers alike:

  1. Don't listen to anybody! Your life is what you think about yourself.
  2. A song is words and melody. Learn your instrument, and find a companion you really care for.
  3. I can never be someone else. It starts with you. You're responsible for you. You gotta find you.
Thank you, Andy Kim, for sharing this beautiful moment with us!


Photo by Norman Wong

Saturday, September 12, 2015

POP Montreal 2015: The Best Concert Ever

My dream of heaven is a giant stadium where all my favourite musicians gather to perform the "Best Concert Ever" for all eternity. Even though this is my own personal selfish afterlife, in my mind if heaven existed it would have no concept of space, time, or direction. All spirits would be welcome to attend the concert as they, and the bands performing, would be experiencing their own personal version of heaven at the exact same time—except there would be no "real" time as we experience it now, and that would be trippy, man, having an unlimited number of experiences all at once. The really good news is, in my version of heaven the tallest guy at the venue wouldn't be standing right in front of you, finally giving you a perfect view of the stage. Heck, you'd even be ON the stage playing right along with the bands. Sounds amazing, right?

What does this have to do with POP Montreal? Well, this year there happens to be a stellar lineup of artists playing the festival who are actually on my list of bands that would play the heavenly "Best Concert Ever". Montreal island will turn into one big stadium when POP Montreal rocks this town starting Wednesday, September 16th until Sunday, September 20th. Event and ticket information is available on the POP Montreal website.

Festival-goers are always so excited about the headliners. Hey, don't get it twisted because I'm also super stoked to catch Motörhead and The Sonics, and we'll get to them later, but first let me start with the locals. These performers give our beautiful city of Montreal its flavour, and they'll definitely pull your heart strings. #POURVRAI #FORREAL

There are so many bands to see and places to be during POP Montreal, and my mind was set on catching Shuggie Otis in conversation with Jamie Thompson during POP Montreal back in 2013. To take in as much of the festival as possible, I dropped by the Rialto to catch Li'l Andy 3D on my way to the Symposium, and I have to say the multi-talented and tall Li'l Andy, his awesome band, and special guests moved me to the point where I just couldn't leave. I stayed for the entire performance, missing Otis completely, and it was totally worth it. Those who were there remember the treats we experienced that night! I highly recommend that you make plans to catch Li'l Andy on Saturday, September 19th at L'Escogriffe for his brand of Ole Opry country and traditional folk-style tunes.

Prince Palu from The Go-Go Radio Magic Show turned me on to local band Le Kid & les Marinellis a few years ago, and what caught my attention was their filthy garage tunes en Français, front-man Cedric's sailor costume and his various stages of undress. Yes, I've seen his ass and that's OK, we're all adults here! This year sent the band touring the U.S. and Europe with their latest album, Île De Rêve (P. Trash), and they dropped "le kid" to the aptly named Les Marinellis. The underlying question is, does this mean the band is all grown up now? Find out on Thursday, September 17th at Théâtre Fairmount.

Commander "Andy" Clark hit my radar last year back when he was fresh-eyed, new to town, and thrust in conversation with podcasters Psi Factor & the Cougar at their POP Symposium with Ty Segall and Mikey Heppner. Since that day, I've seen this Commander Clark dude everywhere around town, most recently smiling something fierce outside PA grocery on du Parc. Clark even called in to Champions of the Local Scene when I was interviewing the gang from Nancy Pants earlier this year. I have yet to see him perform but, admittedly, I'm compelled to catch his show on Friday, September 18th when he opens for Ohara, and I don't know why! Why am I so curious? Maybe it's because Commander Clark just seems so happy all the time... Alright, who's in? The show is on Friday, September 18th at Empire Exchange

Nanimal is fronted by a hopeless romantic who would never admit to composing sweet love songs for his actual girlfriend and posting the demos to a secret bandcamp, only to be shared with the lady and a friend or two (don't be mad at me for sharing your secret, kid, I thought that bandcamp was so rad!). A few years have passed, and I'm really glad a couple of those secret demos eventually made it to Nanimal's publicly-released debut earlier this year. Presentation (self-released) is a great pop album, smooth and polished, but you can expect something faster, angrier, and more nanimated at a live Nanimal show (see what I did there?). The band plays on Friday, September 18th at Quai des Brumes.

UUBBUURRUU is one of those bands that everyone tells me I need to check out. They say, "Stephanie! You will love their music! Trust me! Exclamation point!" So I add the band to that laundry list of recommendations given to me by friends, and I know I have to listen to them, but never get the chance until the band has already broken up and I can't find their records anywhere. The year 2015 is going to be different. It is written in the cosmos that I'll finally discover UUBBUURRUU at POP Montreal. There are five guys in the band (Hail Eris), and they want to "communicate with astral entities" (All Hail Discordia), and their music has "X amount of Fuzz and Y amount of Reverb" (Her Apple Corps is strong). Fuzz, reverb, outer space? Yup, sounds like the band for me. The UUBBUURRUU show is on Friday, September 18th at Bar le "Ritz" P.D.B. The band is launching their new EP, too. Support local music and buy their stuff.

Hamilton, Ontario slacker-musician B.A. Johnston writes pleasant, ridiculously smart, and uncomplicated lyrics. I mean, who else can write a convincing love song that compares his girlfriend to a hot dog from IKEA? An energetic performance with a bunch of silly songs that'll make you smile... that is what to expect from a B.A. Johnston show. Be sure to catch him on Thursday, September 17th at l'Assommoir.

The old adage "Lemmy might not be God, but God wears a Motörhead t-shirt" has been ringing in my tinnitus-inflicted ears ever since I overheard someone saying it on Saint-Denis the other day. I'm more than happy to risk further hearing damage by attending the Motörhead show on Friday, September 18th at Théâtre Olympia with Anthrax! But word on the street is the band has been cancelling gigs due to Lemmy's [alleged] health problems, so we'll see if that happens. In the meantime, you can check out his new line of sex toys and hope this particular show goes on. Get well soon Lemmy!

Something has happened that I must tell you... there's something about me you don't know. I am a Waver, have been since the '90s, and you have no idea how excited I am to finally get to see Built to Spill live. Couldn't afford to go to shows as a starving student back in the day, but I've been a big fan of the band since their debut album Ultimate Alternative Wavers (C/Z Records) in 1993, and Untethered Moon (Warner Bros.) from this year is pretty solid. Did I mention my undying love for Doug Martsch's work with Calvin Johnson in the Halo Benders? "Canned Oxygen" is such a jam! 69 to 5, Built to Spill plays POP Montreal on Saturday, September 19th at Club Soda.

Speaking of the '90s, I have it on good authority that the plaid shirts and baby doll dresses you snagged from your parents' old wardrobes will come in handy this fall because [tongue firmly placed in cheek] Grunge is back! Again. Eye roll. Minneapolis, Minnesota all-girl punk band Babes in Toyland have reformed, and POP Montreal is bringing their raw, heavy-hitting sound to Théâtre Rialto on Saturday, September 19th. Don't get bound-and-hagged you cob nobbler, leave that harsh realm! Grab your fuzz and throw on your kickers because this show is gonna be score. All joking aside, Babes in Toyland is an important band to us girls, so I truly hope to see some women out there in the pit and that the show will inspire them to pick up a damn guitar.

Let's go back to the beginning, to my own personal heaven, back to the Best Concert Ever. The Sonics from Tacoma, Washington are on that heavenly list of bands, and they're most definitely on my list for the "must-see" acts of POP Montreal 2015. It is believed by many a music fan that The Beatles influenced rock and roll for generations, but for me and my peeps it's The Sonics. This band, spearheaded by a then teen-aged Larry Parypa, was there for the birth of punk rock, and their hard-edged and aggressive style obviously inspired every punk band that came after them. Catch these garage legends on Wednesday, September 16th at Théâtre Fairmount. What a great way to kick off the fest! Heaven's coming a little early, and I await my maker.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Montreal Record Store Guide

Throw a rock anywhere in this city and you're bound to hit a record shop. Montreal is a crate digger's paradise with more vinyl than you can possibly carry, and the gems are ripe for the picking if you know where to look. Starting downtown near McGill University, and heading all the way over to the nether regions of Montreal's east end, check out my picks for the best vinyl destinations in the 514—or 438, if you're modern that way.

Aux 33 Tours (1373 Mont-Royal E.)

This is the perfect shop for beginner record collectors, as it offers a wide variety of genres and several neat rows of new and used records to flip through. Seasoned collectors will also want to check out the new arrivals at Aux 33 Tours, where there are always rare records to be found, and fans of quality pressings will definitely want to hit this place, as it is the only shop in town that specializes in 100% virgin vinyl imported directly from Japan. The store restocks their inventory on a regular basis too, so be sure to go often! Notable dig: It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back by Public Enemy (on Def Jam).

Beatnick (3770 Saint-Denis)

Beatnick is a spectacular shop with the largest selection of '60s vinyl in the city, in fact, there is a giant back room devoted to it—country fans, there's a secret back-back room just for you too! You will find shelves upon shelves of 45s, an amazing soul selection, and plenty of records by current artists. Beatnick also carries CDs for music lovers who prefer that medium. The best thing about this store is the owner, Nick Catalano. Nick remembers exactly what his customers want, and he'll put stuff aside for you when it finally comes in. Notable dig: An original pressing of Sticky Fingers by the Rolling Stones, complete with a working zipper!.

Cheap Thrills (2044 Metcalfe)

Founded in 1972, Cheap Thrills is Montreal's oldest, dearest, and cheapest record shop. Really, their prices are hard to beat! This is a student's paradise, and just minutes away from McGill University. As you dig through all the metal and punk records in their amazing used section, witness the film High Fidelity with John Cusack come to life, complete with grumpy record store clerks who aren't so grumpy once you get to know them. For those who like to read, Cheap Thrills also has tons of books to discover. Notable dig: A near-mint copy of Tyrants of Teen Trash by the Gruesomes.

La Fin du Vinyle / Death of Vinyl (6307 Saint-Laurent)

Death of Vinyl is exactly where you want to go if you really love to dig. Expect to spend hours in this giant loft literally packed from floor to ceiling with over 50,000 used records. The shop will shock and surprise you with its great selection of hip hop, house, and dance; many local DJs hit Death of Vinyl to find 12-inch remixes to sample and spin. There's also a spot in the store that sells and repairs vintage and used turntables, amps, and speakers. Notable dig: Buenos Dias Jesus ‎by My Dog Popper.

L'Oblique (4333 Rivard)

That Godspeed You! Black Emperor record you wanted is just waiting for you over at L'Oblique! In fact, the shop has an entire section devoted to albums by local experimental and post-rock bands, plus a nice selection of CDs, 7-inch EPs, and some old 45s if that is your flavour. There are also concert tickets for sale, and L'Oblique logo t-shirts in an array of colours. Notable dig: Transient Random-Noise Bursts with Announcements by Stereolab.

Paul's Boutique (112 Mont-Royal E.)

Paul's Boutique, named after one of the best Beastie Boys albums ever, is a crooked little yellow house located in the heart of plateau Montreal. The shop is literally packed to the eyeballs with rare finds, albums by local garage rock acts, and lots of vintage band posters and memorabilia to look at. Come for the gritty atmosphere and the records, but stay for the drama between the locals who hang out at the shop. Take note that Paul's Boutique opens at random hours during the week, so your best bet is to visit on Saturdays in the mid-afternoon. Notable dig: the SuperFunkPresents FunkSoulSisters compilation.

Phonopolis (207 Bernard O.) 

The selection at Phonopolis is robust and not too overwhelming, with a great mixture of obscure artists and classic bands. You'll also find the finest world music section at this shop, thoughtfully curated and chock full of amazing artists from Nigeria, Zambia, and basically every other African country you can imagine. Phonopolis carries many eclectic and reissue labels too, including Sacred Bones, Numero Group, and Luaka Bop. Notable dig: World Psychedelic Classics – 5: Who is William Onyeabor? by William Onyeabor.

Le Pick Up (169 des Pins E.)

There's a block on avenue des Pins east of Saint-Laurent that houses some fine indie-shops run by small-business owners. Here you can get a snappy new asymmetric hair cut at Salon Identité whilst feasting on yummy vegan treats from Sophie Sucrée, and when you're done, be sure to head next door to Le Pick Up and grab some tunes! This shop has a great selection of records from the '80s and '90s with prices that won't break the bank. Notable dig: All the Time, All the Time, All the Time by The Box.

Sonik (4050 Berri)

Where did all the old punks go? Well, they grew up and opened a little record shop in the plateau called Sonik. This store is the top vinyl destination in Montreal for punk, garage, psych, post-punk, and everything in between. There's also a little jazz section to shift through, and several other gems to be found. Bring cash! They don't have Interac or take credit cards. Notable dig: Sell Out Young! by The Nils.

Sonorama (260 Bernard O.)

Indeed, Sonorama has a lot of 12-inch LPs for you to flip through, but the real reason to hit this shop is to dig through their huge selection of 45s varying from funk, soul, disco, pop, punk, garage, rap and hip hop, to good ol' rock n roll. Run by record collectors, for record collectors, the knowledgeable staff is always willing to help you find that rare psych record from the '60s, and as an added bonus, there are two turntables set up by the windows so you can listen before you buy. Notable dig: "There's a Red-Neck in the Soul Band" b/w "Just One Step" by Latimore (on Glades).

Sound Central (4486 Coloniale)

Among the rows of obscure punk 7-inches and really cool film soundtracks on vinyl, you will find plenty of other great stuff at Sound Central. Bring back cocktail hour and pick up some kitsch or Tiki statues for your living room bar, they'll go great with that Herb Alpert record you just found. Want to feel like a kid again? Just grab a record by The Jackson 5 and play with those vintage toys also available for sale at the shop. Better yet, have a coffee with Sean and ask him to tell you stories about what went on in the Montreal music scene back when you were a zygote. Sound Central really makes a person feel like part of a family. There are live performances almost every weekend too! Notable dig: The Blood of Others by Witches of God.

A Little Bird Told Me...

Shhh… here's a secret digging spot no one knows about: Tucked away in Montreal's Hochelaga-Maisonneuve district in the east end is Da Muzz (4927 Sainte-Catherine E.). A little bird told us that this shop is full of gems on vinyl and cassette!

BONUS: Record Shopping Tips

1) Go for the blind buy. Sometimes you really can judge a record by its cover, and if it has a woman dressed as a birthday cake, well you just know that the music has got to be awesome.

2) Check Discogs. The market drives the value, and sometimes record vendors have delusions of grandeur. Make sure you're armed with an iPhone or Android device and see what the record is really going for before you buy.

3) Condition, condition, condition! Used records are indeed used, so you're going to want to open those babies up and have a look inside. Better yet, take the records out and check for signs of wear, deep scratches, and warping. If a record isn't shiny and flat, chances are your turntable will eat it.

3) Carry a heavy canvas tote bag. You're going to need a strong sack to transport all those records home, and you'll help the environment at the same time!

4) Bring cash. Some stores offer discounts or knock off the sales tax for repeat customers who pay with real dollars.

5) Support local artists and labels. When you're finished digging through crates at your favourite indie record shop, head on out to the nearest venue and catch a show by a Montreal band! Throw down 5$ for a cool limited-edition 7" while you're at it, they'll appreciate the love.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

The Last Days of Winter

There are 13 days left until the Spring Equinox, so here are some sun shiny lollipop psych jams to get you through the last days of Winter, one for each day.



The Electric Prunes, "I Had Too Much To Dream (Last Night)"
July, "Dandelion Seeds"
Deep Six, "Paint It Black"
Spirits and Worm, "Spirits and Worm"
Faine Jade, "Cold Winter Sun Symphony in D Major"
The Misunderstood, "Children of the Sun"
The Litter, "Soul Searchin'"
N.S.U., "Turn On or Turn Me Down"
Strawberry Alarm Clock, "Incense and Peppermints"
Donovan, "Hurdy Gurdy Man"
Tomorrow, "Hallucinations"
Kaleidoscope, "The Sky Children"
Morgen, "Purple"

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Saint Valentine was martyred

This is a Valentine's Day mix tape called "A Mix for G in Ohio". The cover art was made from old flyers from my radio shows past.

The hand-written track list came in a sealed envelope decorated with a heart, beads, and feathers.



Todd Rundgren, "Little Red Lights"
Big Star, "September Gurls"
13th Floor Elevators, "Slide Machine"
The Haunted, "I'm Just Gonna Blow My Little Mind to Bits"
Sweet, "Fox on the Run"
Cheap Trick, "Surrender"
Small Faces, "It's Too Late"
The Who, "I Don't Mind"
Allah-Las, "Tell Me"
The Replacements, "I Will Dare"
Jacobites, "Pin Your Heart to Me"
David Kilgour, "Spins You Round"
Blood, Sweat & Tears, "So Much Love"
Beach Boys, "Busy Doin' Nothin'"
The Creation, "Hurt Me if You Will"
The Clean, "Anything Can Happen"
Badfinger, "We're for the Dark"
The Roches, "Hammond Song"
Nico, "I'll Keep It with Mine"
Sly and the Family Stone, "Que Sera Sera"