Register Sunday | June 16 | 2019

POP MONTREAL, DAY TWO: STRANGE NOISE FROM BEYOND THE HILLS

Noteworthy bills from tonight's shows.

THURSDAY, OCTOBER 4 MAN MAN
[BAND SITE]  [MYSPACE]   [YOUTUBE] Recent years have, happily enough, seen the rise of enormous collective bands, who come up with ridiculous monikers and are eminently comfortable with trading places on instruments seemingly salvaged from the sodden bandrooms of a shuttered high school. MAN MAN are clunkier and more tuneful then their contemporaries, driving their loopy Weimar cabaret sound with keyboards and glockenspiel. That they do this all in the terrifying confines of Philadelphia, a grim and murderously hostile place that has spent most of the past forty years slowly collapsing on itself, is even more remarkable. Also on the bill: Shapes & Sizes  [BAND SITE]   [MYSPACE]   are secretly brilliant; despite the rangy percussion, frequent irruptions of wind instruments and songs that seem in danger of veering into the guardrail, they are a pop band who sweep up scraps from the floor and glue them together into pretty moments.  Slim Twig   [MYSPACE]   tells breathy stories over spooky noise, but his structures and stylistic decisions indicate that he is far more attuned to what he is doing than is initially apparent.  His recordings are strange creatures and how this will play out live is anyone’s guess. Bring: The woman next door who wears enormous glasses and makes dioramas out of sticks and feathers. Half Japanese
[HYPE MACHINE]   [YOUTUBE] Not your favorite band’s favorite band, but their producer’s favorite band, Half Japanese has had a small town’s worth of members cycle through its ranks and those of bandleader Jad Fair’s other related projects.  By now, Fair is a consistently entertaining performer, and gets great results from the shifting lineup of musicians that back him. The concert will be preceded by the essential documentary Half Japanese: The Band That Would Be King, in which Fair’s parents share their reactions to his fervent love of rock music, and Penn Jillette (the speaking, ponytailed half of Penn & Teller) talks about paying to keep the band’s records in print with his paycheck from an appearance on Miami Vice. Also on the bill: Dishwasher   [MYSPACE]   is the glorious solo presence of Martin Cesar, also of Think About Life. Last time I saw Dishwasher perform, he was thwacking a drumset over some tinny loops, playing in front of a disorienting video projection made up of fragments of films and old TV shows. Bring: Your ten-year-old nieces and nephews, who will be on precisely the right wavelength and show you the way. Arman Méliès
[BAND SITE]   [MYSPACE]   [YOUTUBE] Indie-folk is usually taken to be an emphatically North American product, with a few UK exponents.  Prodded by their awesome radio stations, however, French audiences are always on the lookout for new textures and angles, and will eagerly lap up material that is strange to them. Arman Méliès plays sad, quiet songsnot content to limit his sound to his acoustic guitar picking alone, and works flanged, echoing keyboard and horn sounds into his recordings. Also on the bill: Bonjour Brumaire   [MYSPACE]  have, in their short existence, already become the favorite band of the francophone students who live down the block and always have big parties. Go now, while their collaboration is still a protean thing, and then see them again in six months, in front of a crowd twice as large. Mathias Mental   [MYSPACE]   sings funny, surreal songs over reedy, thin keyboards. Among such serious company, this is gong to be enjoyable stuff.  Kumisolo   [MYSPACE]  is a Franco-Japanese project that puts cooing, small-voiced vocals together with tinny programmed beeps and drum sounds. Bring: A sense of spontaneous fun that will quickly give way to a heartbreaking melancholy. Other acts of note:  Cody ChesnuTT   [YOUTUBE]   [MYSPACE]   put paid to the limp instrumentation and rote flourishes typically associated with neo-soul on his appropriately-named Headphone Masterpeice, getting straight to the matter at hand with a low-fi display of spectacular talent. In recent years, ChesnuTT (yes, you capitalize the Ts) has lived a quiet life in Florida, and has developed a song cycle in the African tradition that he will perform at Théâtre National tonight. He is coming to our dark and frozen land, bearing oranges, to grace us with his only concert – in any city – of 2007.  Magic Weapon   [MYSPACE]   maintain the (by now venerable) tradition of former and current Victoria residents whose bands feature big chattering sheets of distorted guitar and arpeggiated keyboards. You could be in one of these, had you stuck with your piano lessons like your parents wanted.  Little Bang Theory are part of an enormous Montreal contemporary dance community that you have likely never seen and of which you are likely only dimly aware. They’re collaborating with polyglot songstress Lhasa de Sela, as well as with Plants and Animals’ Matthew Woodley and Warren Spicer, to give three performances over the coming days.  Go to one of them, and leave with the firm intention of seeing more dance.  Abdominal  [MYSPACE]   has already been brought to your attention in these pages. In a Canadian rap landscape dominated by angular and aggressively contemporary artists, people think they have moved beyond workmanlike MCing over boom-bap beats.  They think we won’t notice, but how wrong they are.  On topic, on point and on task, Abdominal gets the job done with skills other Canadian rap mainstays thought they could space-cadet their way around.  Tanya Tagaq   [BAND SITE]   [MYSPACE]   makes noise music with her throat and lungs alone, and there is nary a synthesizer in sight. While the great plodding Can-con machine often trots her out as a Native Artist Putting Her Own Spin On A Traditional Form, such grossly unfair pigeonholing wildly underestimates just how challenging and engrossing a performer Tagaq really is. This is important music, which you ignore at your peril.