Register Tuesday | December 7 | 2021

Pop Montreal, day four: Dark mountains of delight

Noteworthy bills from tonight's shows.

Fred Wesley
[BAND SITE]   [MYSPACE]   [HYPE MACHINE]   [YOUTUBE] Josh “Socalled” Dolgin’s electric hovel, the Spliffsonian Institution, is tucked into the basement of a primarily Hasidic building on the border of Mile-End and Outremont.  From these unlikely rooms came the funky sounds that are blazing up the charts from Poland to France.  Fred Wesley is taking steps back into the limelight after years dealing with the personal fallout from his long stints in Count Basie’s band, as James Brown’s trombonist and arranger, and a member of the Funkadelic space mafia, all bluntly recounted in his entertaining recent memoir, Hit me, Fred!  Dolgin and Wesley met and began to collaborate last year, and the high archimandrite of funk has found an unlikely disciple.  Bronx MC C-Rayz Walz will accompany them for the evening; he can battle your five favorite rappers, beat them, and will still be rhyming hours they’ve gone home and fallen asleep. Also on the bill: Think About Life   [BAND SITE]   [MYSPACE]   are fuzzy and noisy and happy about what’s happening around them.  From the colorful confines of Griffintown art factory Friendship Cove, Think About Life have more fun and generate more energy by accident than most bands ever manage to do on purpose. This take on dance pop is harsh, thrilling and undeniable.  Sean Kosa   [BAND SITE]   [MYSPACE]   is a familiar name to local club kids.  His cheery, unassuming disposition hides the cold fact that he takes easy command of the turntables and the dancefloor, and remixes everyone in town who so much as owns a keyboard. Bring: A funk-obsessed wizard who lives in an apartment filled with thousands of records. Megasoid
[BAND SITE]   [MYSPACE]   [HYPE MACHINE]   [YOUTUBE] Megasoid will restore your faith in the technical bravado of beat making and party rocking, in an age where every fool with an iPod is suddenly a “DJ” and everyone who knows how to beatmatch is clogging the pipes of the Internets with their “ill mashupz”.  Instead, Megasoid load software you’ve never heard of onto equipment you can neither understand nor afford, and use it to turn unremarkable club rap into dark, stuttering and compelling dance music.  Made up of longstanding Halifax/Montreal titan Sixtoo, a master of arts graphic, musical, and graffitical, and Wolf Parade shit-disturber Hadji Bakara, Megasoid will return you to an upright and locked position.  They have been pulling off daring parties all summer and have not just escaped arrest, but haven’t been so much as ticketed.  This is that party with those guys, and he final sets are set to start long after dawn. Also on the bill: Glitch Mob   [BAND SITE]   [MYSPACE]   slice and dice their way through dance music in a similar spirit.  Compare and contrast as these underground remix kingpins apply an aesthetic not so far from that of Megasoid to similar source material, and arrive in a very different place.  Daedalus   [MYSPACE]   is a remix outlaw whose foppish fashion sense and wide-ranging styles will keep you guessing until the sun comes up. Bring: Your manic friend with a boundless appetite for intoxication, who sweats and twitches constantly. Sunset Rubdown
[BAND SITE]   [HYPE MACHINE]   [YOUTUBE] Last year, the Ukrainian Federation was the last stop on Sunset Rubdown’s North American tour, and their concert came on the final night of Pop Montreal.  What started as a kind of placeholder term under which to classify Spencer Krug’s solo outings had come back home sounding like a tight, full-fledged band, playing confidently and comfortably on a stage strewn with lamps.  Krug’s keyboards are still at the centre of the band’s sound, but the band lends a sense of sweeping drama to his grandiose songs and strident lyrics. Also on the bill: Black Mountain   [BAND SITE]   [MYSPACE]   bring a similarly heavy, lazy sound to their widely divergent rock tunes and instrumental experiments.  Rumored to be a killer live band, the term “psychedelic” seems too limp a word; think instead of a band whose music evokes spiritual disturbance and discomfort and can elicit tremendous, spooky effects with very little effort.  Oakley Hall   [BAND SITE]   [MYSPACE]   are a barnburning band whose harmonies and earnest sound place them firmly within the Merge Records firmament. Odd, twinkling little runs and crunches give a peculiar edge to their country-rock context. Bring: An uptight librarian, whose heart will be broken and remolded as something brighter over the course of the evening. Other acts of note:  Balún   [BAND SITE]   [MYSPACE]   use chiming keyboards, guitars and accordion to make soft music, with impossibly delicate Spanish vocals floating over the mix.  During a festival where electronics are pounded and twisted to process noise on the go, this Puerto Rican trio’s calmer, patient approach to their equipment result in ethereal songs that sound like lullabies played to toys.  Jay Reatard   [BAND SITE]   [MYSPACE]   uses the components of garage rock and punk, but is vastly more sophisticated than the genres he employs.  A ridiculously prolific and productive songwriter, this Memphis youth tears through cities and demolishes venues.  Feed him drinks and see what happens.  Mort Sahl   [BAND SITE]   was, in his 1950’s heyday, a cool and witty intellectual who made what now seems very gentle satire focused on current events, incongruously releasing several comedy records on the Verve jazz label.  He became bitter and disillusioned after John Kennedy’s assassination, sinking into obscurity for decades before re-emerging in the 1990’s as the conservative elder statesman of news-related comedy.  Born in Montreal, Sahl returns to his hometown and will likely scrupulously update his Canadian political material for the occasion.  Filastine   [BAND SITE]   [MYSPACE]   is less an electronic musician than a noise documentarian.  The Barcelona-based sample jockey's artistic and political priorities are clearly in sync, as he layers the angular sonorities of Arabic and east European musics over chattering, challenging percussion loops.  While the basic elements of dance music are there, the collision of ideas and sensibilities provoke thought more reliably than they encourage ass-shaking, and the multilingual contributions of various vocalists – sometimes rapped, sometimes sung, sometimes found and sampled – are an education in themselves.  Reykjavik!   [MYSPACE]   are either warning or celebrating their hometown with their name.  No sooner do they set up a seemingly conventional song than they demolish it, guitars screeching every which way and band members screaming in unison.  The national dish of Iceland is shark meat, buried underground for weeks and allowed to rot before being unearthed and dried.  Reykjavik! probably eat this kind of thing for breakfast, fortifying themselves before going out to scream and destroy.  Woodpigeon   [BAND SITE]   [MYSPACE]   hail from the money-drenched ground of Calgary, and it is hard to imagine a band thriving among the forced friendliness, aspiration and cowboy hats.  Thrive they have, however, and they use the massed vocals of their many members to great effect over organs, ukulele and harpsichord.  At their propulsive, cheery best, Woodpigeon sound like the soundtrack to a film Wes Anderson hasn’t made yet.