I was listening to some Smashing Pumpkins earlier this week and I started thinking about what was my favorite albums of that era (the 90’s). So, today, with the rain outside, I thought that it would be the best time to write about it.

First, I’d like to say that this list is aboslutely NOT meant to be a BEST ALBUMS OF THE 90’s kind of list. These are albums that had a great influence on me as a musician, and albums that I still listen to, 20 years later.

Also, I am not presenting them in a specific order. I tried to class them for 1 to 10 but found out I really hard a hard time deciding which one I liked the best. So, I am just throwing them randoml;y, in no specific order.

So, without any further ado, let’s take a look at this list.

PEARL JAM – Ten

PEARL JAM – No Code

RADIOHEAD – The Bends

RADIOHEAD – OK Computer

SMASHING PUMPKINS – Siamese Dreams

SMASHING PUMPKINS – Mellon Collie And The Infinite Sadness

PAVEMENT – Crooked Rain Crooked Rain

SOUDGARDEN – Superunknown

THE TEA PARTY – The Edges Of Twilight

TOOL – Undertow

How about you? What are you favorite albums of that decade?

Thursday, October 6th. I was really excited I was about to see them as it’s been a long time since this instrumental post-rock band from Texas came to Montreal. Last time I saw them was in March 2007, at Le National. A great show. They came back a little bit later the same year during the Osheaga festival, but I missed them. I was unlucky enough that their set was sceduled at the exact same time as the Smashing Pumpkin’s. I was not going to miss them this time around.

Opening for them this time was Wye Oak. This indie rock duo from Baltimore offer a mix of rock, pop and folk, with a bit of noise rock to spice things up a bit. Quite an interesting mix don’t you think? At first, singer Jenn Wasner seemed to be a bit uncomfortable. She did not interact a lot with the crowd. However, by the end of their set, she seemed much more comfortable. I was really impressed by drummer Andy Stack’s performance. He would play drums, while playing bass lines on a synth with his left hand. They gave a very good performance which leave me wanting to discover more about them. Watch the perform two songs off their latest album: The Alter and Holy Holy.

A litlle bit after 9 o’clock, Explosions finally took the stage. With them, there was an additionnal musician, in the back, playing bass and some percussions. That leaves Michael James, who use to split his time between bass and guitar, playing mostly guitars. Now picture this: 3 guitars playing complementary parts, a bass guitar to add somme low-end kick and a drum to top all that. There you have all the ingredient for an awesome, melodic, heart-felt instrumental rock.

Right at the beginning of the show, guitarist Munaf Rayani addressed the crowd…in french. And his french was not bad at all. It was not only the usual “merci”, but rather a few sentences. It was the only time in the show they would talk to the crowd as after that, they started their musical journey that would transport us for the next hour and a half. They played the show as a whole big song, with no interuption between songs. They would instead glue all the songs together in an almost seamless way. It was a concept, and they did not even do an encore. The crowd stayed there, clapping and yelling, even if the lights were turned on. Munaf actually had to come back to the stage to tell us that they planned it as a one big trip, thanking us all for coming. I think the crowd was a bit disapointed. I would definitly have taken more, even though it was nice that they were doing it differenly than what we usually see.

They started the show with the excellent Yasmin The Light, and then songs like Greet Death and The Birth And Death Of The Day (just to name a few) followed one after the other. My favorite moment of the evening is without a doubt The Only Moment We Were Alone…what a terrific performance. See for yourself.

It was the second time we saw those guys live and I can tell you that I am already hoping for the next time. They wrap you in their guitar melodies and you get flooded in the waves of sound. A very mesmerizing experience.

Posted: October 10, 2011 in Shows
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Six years already. Six years, almost exactly, since Pearl Jam played in Montreal. It was on September 15th 2010. Last Wednesday, they were finaly back, in front of an energetic crowd at Bell Center.

Opening for them was the almost-legendary band Mudhoney. They’ve been around since 1988 and were amongst the bands that defined that “Seattle Sound” that became grunge. You could clearly see by the stage presence that those guys were not new comers. The experience was there, even though it felt a little bit like a venue that big was not what fit the most to them. Even if I could not enjoy their set as it should because I am not very familiar with their repertoire (shame on me), they did a great job at setting the mood for their friends, Pearl Jam.

They started the show with an “old classic”, Elederly Woman Behind The Counter In A Small Town. From there, the crowd started singing with the band and it never stopped for the whole show. And of course, Vedder gave us a lot of room to do so. As always, he was very generous with us. He even started the second Encore by reading his horoscope that he found in a local newspaper, before playing Better Man. It was quite funny. He also made a comment that was loudly applauded. He said that out of the cities north of the border, Montreal was the one that felt the most like a different country.

We were seated in the sixth row, on the right side of the stage. Pretty good spot. On our side, we had Stone Gossard and Boom Gaspar, Pearl Jam’s “sixth member”. While Gossard was quietly but surely delivering the goods on our side, McCready was literally giving a show at the opposite side of the stage. He was jumping around and interacting a lot with the crowd, to which he gave tons of guitar picks.

Without being the best setlist I have seen by them, it was still pretty interesting. It covered pretty much all of their albums. From Why Go to Amongst The Waves, without forgetting Daughter, Better Man, Hail, Hail, Given To Fly, Insignificance, 1/2 Full, Severed Hand and many others. You can find the complete setlist on the Fan Club website here. As you can see, the played material from pretty much all of their albums. They even played Crazy Mary, a Victoria Williams cover that was on the Sweet Relief compilation. During this song, as always, Gaspar and McCready gave us an amazing solo where the organ and the guitar interacted together as if they were talking. It was a strong moment of the show. But to me, if I had to choose my favorite part of the show, I think it would be the song Black. This song is so beautiful, and with everybody singing it was just amazing.

Once again, Pearl Jam gave it’s Montreal fans an amazing and rocking evening. Let’s just hope that next time would not be in six years.

I really like listening to new music and discovering new bands. It’s one of my little pleasures in life. Lately, I have come across two bands that I would like to share with you. I can’t really say they’re new bands, but at least they’re new to me.
The first one is from London and they’re called The Boxer Rebellion. This indie rock band is not a new-comer as they’ve been releasing music since 2003. But it was the first time I heard about them. I have been listening to their latest album, The Cold Still, released in the beginning of 2011.

Their music is really interesting. I have to say that the more I listened to the album, the more I liked it. I believe it’s the kind of album that you have to learn to love, but most of the times those are the albums that stick with you a long time. I find it hard to describe their music, but I think that the “indie rock” label fit them well. To give you an idea of what they sound like, they reminded me of bands like The National, Sleeping at Last and Shearwater. But don’t get me wrong. They are not a copy of any of those bands. I was just trying to give you an idea of the vibe. I believe the best is probably to give them a try and see by yourself.

My favorite track of the album is called Caught By The Light. When the full band enters, 1 minute and 15 seconds to the end of the song, it literally send shivers down my spine.

The second band I discover recently (today to be more precise) is The Wooden Birds. They are from Texas and have been around since 2009 with the release of their first record, Magnolia. The band is led by Andrew Kenny, known for his work with The American Analog Set, as well as contribution with Social Broken Scene and some collaboration with Benjamin Gibbard of Death Cab For Cutie. The only thing I can say for now about them is that I love them. I haven’t listen to a lot of their music yet since I discovered them today, but I just love them. You got to listen to their song called Two Matchsticks. It is REALLY good. You will most likely hear more about them on my blog later.

That’s it for today. I hope you liked the music I presented you. Feel free to leave comments and new music suggestions.

One of the most exciting news I had this spring was that The Tea Party were back together for a summer tour, 6 years after they broke up. To me, the Tea Party is amongst the most interesting Canadian bands. This tour was to stop in Montreal on July 7th 2011.

So, last thursday, we went to the Metropolis in Montreal, to see that show that we were really looking forward to. The opening act was a Canadian band called The Reason. Even though I didn’t know them, they’ve been around since 2003. For me, it was a really nice discovery. They delivered around 40 minutes of finely crafted rock songs with catchy melodies. Moreover, at the end of their set, they played a cover of one another Canadian band that I love a lot: Sloan. That was enough, they got me in their pocket. You can watch a video of this here.

Then came what we were all waiting for: The Tea Party. After just a few minutes, it was clear that their 6 years break wasn’t enough for them to lose anything. For those who have never seen them live, it’s amazing how a trio can sound so full and thick. And that is still true today.

There was something in the air that night. Some kind of excitement. You could feel that the crowd have been waiting for this moment for a long time. They opened the show with Writing’s on the wall, followed by The Bazaar. After this song, Jeff Martin said to us something like:
“Writing’s on the wall that The Tea Party is back, and it’s not going away anytime soon”. That was it. The audience was set on fire.

They delivered over 16 of their greatest songs, with all the energy that you could expect from them. You could actually see and feel that they were as excited to be back together as we were to see them back. And as usual, Jeff Martin had us sing on some songs, as Save Me, Release or Heaven Coming Down. The crowd was pleased. I was too.

For those interested in that kind of details, the setlist was ( maybe I forgot a song or two, but it should be pretty accurate):
– Writing’s On The Wall
– The Bazaar
– Lullaby
– Psychopomp
– The Messenger
– Fire In The Head
– Correspondance
– Heaven Coming Down
– Sun Going Down
– Halcyon Days
– Save Me
– Release
– Temptation
Encore break 1
– The River
Encore break 2
– The Badger
– Sister Awake / Paint It Black

To see some videos of the performance, you can go here.

Now that they shown us hey can still rock, they left me wanting for more. I am so looking forward to hearing new material. Please, give us a new record soon.

First off, I’d like to apologize. I haven’t written in a long time. I’ll seriously try to be more constant in the months to come.

So, here we come to the subject. Last week, I finally bought the latest CD from Death Cab For Cutie. It was after I saw their peeformance at Conan O’Brian’s show.

I first discovered Death Cab For Cutie in 2005, with their alblum Plans. I ‘ve been, like many other people, seduced by Soul Meets Body. In 2008, I followed them on their Narrow Stairs. I liked the new direction I was hearing there. They were not stearing in a totally different direction, just slowly exploring new paths. I kind of lost track of what they did after that, so when I pressed “play” I discovered something really interesting.

Home Is A Fire, the opening track, is probably my favorite. It’s jazzy cymbal shuffle, it’s
Structure, the sounds. It seems like the new path they started exploring on Narrow Stairs is now pushed to a higher level. The first comparison that came to my mind was Radiohead. Not that it sounds as Radiohead, but it kind of reminded of their evolution between The Bends and OK Computer. But at the same time, if you’re already a fan, you’re in common groundss too. I mean, they explore a bit, but the essence is still there.

I still need a few listens to fully appreciate the album, but I know for sure that it will get a lot of plays on my ipod this summer. It’s one of those “suprise” album that just goes beyond your expectations.<a

On April 25th 2011, I saw the Scottish band Mogwai live for the third time. They were playing the Olympia, in Montreal, to support their latest record called Hardcore Will Never Die But You Will.

Before the show, it seemed like the stars were not aligned for them this time around. A few days before the show, they announced that due to visas problems, they had to postpone the first few dates of the American leg of the tour. I was happy to see that the Montreal show was not delayed. Then, the day before the show, they announced on Facebook and Twitter that drummer Martin Bulloch would not be part of the tour, due to family commitments. James Hamilton of the band Errors will be playing drums for the North American tour.

As if it was not enough, when the opening act took the stage, they told us that they were playing instead of Errors who were supposed to be the opening act. I don’t know what happened here, but it seemed like everything was against Mogwai this time.

But honestly, I have to say that it all turned out pretty well. Finally, the first band to play was a Montreal band called USA, out of Vietnam. I never heard of them before. The singer/guitarist of that band is called Jonathan Cummins. He’s well known in the music community for having played in many bands, including the Doughboys and Treble Charger. But the sound of this new band is really far from the Doughboys or Treble Charger. The quartet plays a loud and heavy rock that is not instrumental, but that has long instrumental intros / breaks. I was pretty impressed by the performance. Of course, the sound was not all that good, but having a good sound is something an opening act can rarely count on. But the energy, and the songs were there. I will definitely be watching them and be looking for a CD release. I don’t know if there’s anything available yet, but I checked at the merchandise booth at the show and they did not have anything. However, for those interested, you can hear some songs on their Facebook page. And by the way, for those who said that a Telecaster could not be heavy or loud, well Cummins would prove you wrong anytime.

Mogwai took the stage next. Once again, we were on for a delightful journey through their musical landscape. They opened the show with White Noise, the first track on their new CD. As with all the other Mogwai show I have seen, there was nothing really fancy there. Just a great band, with awesome music. They also had a big screen behind them where there was some projections to add visuals to all that. Nothing fancy but still, everything it takes. Pure rock, intense and loud. But they’re not just loud. There’s something more. You can definitely feel the intensity. They sent shivers down my spine.

Something I really like about them, and you have to see them many times to notice, but as opposed to many other bands, they don’t serve us the same shows over and over. As an example, this time around they did not played songs as Haunted By a Freak, Christmas Steps or Batcat, even if these songs where great moments of previous shows. The playlist that time was mostly around the last album, with some older stuff thrown in. As an example,
the encore started with Auto Rock, off their 2006 album Mr Beast. I believe they played pretty much all the songs off the new CD, except for Letters To The Metro and Too Raging To Cheers. They played and fantastic show that lasted for roughly 1 hour and 45 minutes, including the 3 songs encore.

And for those “anxious” about Bulloch not being of the line up, let me tell you that Hamilton did a great job. That guy is definitely a hard-hitting beast. The only noticeable mistake was at the beginning of George Square Thatcher Death Party, in the encore. But still, it was just a little fun.

All in all, a gorgeous show… just as usual.

C’est mardi dernier que paraissait officiellement le nouvel opus du groupe montrélais Malajube. Intitulé La Caverne, cet album devait marquer un retour vers le son plus joyeux des premiers albums, délaissant le côté sombre de Labyrinthes.
Il y a quelques temps, le groupe rendait disponible sur son site le tout premier extrait de cet album, une plage intitulée Synesthésie. Ça ne faisait aucun doute. Un son résolument plus joyeux et aussi plus pop. J’avais l’eau à la bouche, je ne pouvais plus attendre pour écouter ce nouvel album.
Premier constat à la première écoute: bien que la formation ait voulu délaisser le côté sombre du précédent album, on sent qu’il laisse toujours sa trace. Personnellement, je ne m’en plains pas. J’avoue que Labyrinthe était (et est toujours) mon album favori de Malajube. Mais, on sent tout de même le côté plus joyeux et festif. On remarque aussi que les arrangements ont été beaucoup simplifiés par rapport à ce à quoi ils nous ont habitués. En entrevue dernièrement, Julien Mineau, chanteur du groupe, mentionnait que, pour cet album, ils ont beaucoup pensé aux spectacles et c’est ce qui les a menés à faire des arrangements qu’ils pourraient reproduire à quatre sur la scène. Mais la musique de Malajube n’y perd vraiment rien. Comme à l’habitude, ils nous balancent en plein visage un mélange de rock, de pop et de progressif, avec des textes qui, selon moi, sont tout à fait délicieux.
Étant donné que le premier extrait de l’album s’appelle Synesthésie, j’ai décidé de me prêter à un petit jeu et d’associer une couleur à chacune des chansons de l’album. Voilà ce que ça donne:
Synesthésie: Rose. Un rose bonbon éclatant parce que cette pièce est un gros morceau de pop bonbon à son meilleur. Courte, accrocheuse et entraînante, on ne peut pas y résister.
Cro-Magnon: Orange. Sincèrement, c’est la chanson à laquelle j’ai eu le plus de difficulté à associer une couleur. C’est finalement la couleur orange qui m’est venue en tête. Tout d’abord parce que le texte fait souvent référence au feu, mais aussi parce que sa “vibe” faisait en sorte que j’imaginais le groupe en train de jouer cette chanson en spectacle, devant un mur de feu. L’image était parfaite.
La caverne: Noir. Noir, car c’est probablement la pièce qui porte le plus ce petit côté sombre qui était si présent sur l’album précédent. Noir parce qu’elle nous entraîne vraiment au fin fond de la caverne.
Sangsues: Brun. Le brun des bottes qui martèlent le sol. C’est que le rythme accentué et saccadé de cette pièce me fait penser à des bruits de pas.
Mon oeil: Bleu. Le bleu du ciel à qui elle emprunte sa légèreté. J’adore cette pièce très “atmosphérique”.
Le blizzard: Or. Cette pièce est fortement influencée par le funk et le disco des années 80, avec ses paillettes et tous ses brillants.
Radiologie: Vert. Le vert de l’été. Une pièce qui respire le soleil, le beau temps.
Ibuprofène: Sable. J’ignore pourquoi mais, quand j’entends cette pièce, je vois une grande plage. Elle est un peu dans le même esprit que le morceau précédent: légèreté, pop, bon temps.
Le stridor: Blanc. C’est la couleur que cette pièce au rythme de valse m’a inspirée. Je voyais une grande réception avec de somptueuses robes blanches.
Chienne folle: Rouge. Rouge pour l’énergie, car cette dernière pièce de l’album en a à revendre. Probablement le titre le plus énergique de l’album. On termine en force.

Voilà! C’est ce qui conclut mon petit exercice synesthésique. J’espère que vous avez eu autant de plaisir à le lire que j’en ai eu à l’écrire. Surtout, n’hésitez pas à laisser en commentaires les couleurs que cet album VOUS inspire.

Wow! It’s been a long time since I have been that excited about new music coming out. I don’t know what’s happening this spring, but new music is blooming everywhere.

Well, where should I start. Maybe with Radiohead who finally put out the sequel to In rainbow in the name of The King of Limbs. I was so excited to finally have new Radiohead music. Even though I think I still need some time to tame the beast and fully appreciate this weird record (to say the least), I think it’s a great record. I really love how Radiohead seems to be able to destabilize us with every new record they put out.

Also, PJ Harvey gave us a new record called Let England Shake. I must admit that I haven’t followed closely her career, but I always find her music interesting. This album is the first PJ Harvey album I bought since To Bring You My Love and I have to say that I really love it. You should give it a try.

What’s next? J Mascis, leader of Dinosaur Jr jut released an acoustic album called Several Shades of Why. I haven’t listened to it yet as it is very difficult to find here, but I ordered it online and just can’t wait to hear this new material from one of my inspiration as a guitarist.

Another album I can’t wait to put my hands on is a record called La Caverne by the Montreal based band Malajube. I really discovered them with their last record, Labyrith, but became a real fan of their music. If you don’t know them yet, give them a try. You won’t regret it. You can find the first single off their new record on their website http://malajube.com/

Also, new music coming next week by the Foo Fighters. I have to admit that I lost some interest in them over the last few years, but the first single Rope really got me back in. I am really excited for this album to come out. I also like the idea the had to entirely record this new album in a garage, using only analog technologies. Can’t wait to hear how it sounds.

Well, well, well. It’s not over yet. As I am typing this text, I am patiently waiting for Jane’s Addiction to put the link on their site to download the first single off their new record. I streamed it online and it sounds really promising. It’s been a while since we could listen to new material from Jane’s. I am really curious to find out how this will sound.

Have I told you it was quite busy? Also, Jeff Martin, ex-leader of The Tea Party (the band, not the political party), just released a new album with a new band called 777. This is a really amazing album and you can read a review of it in a previous post.

I was about to forget Mogwai. What a mistake. This great post-rock band just put out Harcore Will Never Die But You Will. An amazing record I can’t stop listening to.

Also, It makes me think that Explosions in The Sky is also set to release a new record soon. If you go to their website http://www.explosionsinthesky.com/ you can download their first single. If you don’t know them, I strongly suggest you listen to them. It’s one of the best band I discovered in the last few years.
As if it wasn’t enough, Smashing Pumpkins is continuing their Teargarden by Kaleidyscope project, and each new song to put out is better than the previous one. Keep it rocking…
I am sure I am forgetting a lot of interesting stuff as I am just throwing ideas as I write. I was just so excited about everything happening in the music world right now that I had to share it.
Hope you’ll find some stuff you like in all that.

Remember a few weeks back when I wrote a review of the new Jeff Martin CD? I was telling that I couldn’t wait to see how it would sound live. Well, now I’ve seen it and let me tell you I was not deceived.
I was glad to see that the show was at Latulipe. It’s a small venue that I like a lot. However, I was quite surprised to see that the balcony was closed. It was a sign that it was going to be a small intimate show. Actually, I was shocked to see that it was probably the smallest crowd I seen at a Jeff Martin or The Tea Party show. But with the performance I saw that night, I am confident that next time’s going to be bigger. The nice thing about those kind of show is that the peoples that were there were real fans of Martin. Those who kept following him. And we were rewarded for that.
The show started at 8h00 sharp. A guy walked on stage, alone with his acoustic guitar. His name his Gabriel Lee. When he started playing and singing, I felt transported to the 70’s. His music had some kind of a classic rock feel. And what a voice. He has a strong voice, reminiscent of Robert Plant’s. That was a really pleasant opening act. I must admit though that after a few songs, we became a little bored with all the “baby”, “woman” and “love”. I think that those three words were the foundation of all his songs. That being said, it all came together as a pretty interesting whole. You can watch a (very) small part of the peformance here.
Unfortunately, we can’t say the same of the second band that took the stage. They’re called Flowerchild. They started the show with a pretty energetic rock song. However, from there, they seemed to be going in all directions. They had a country song and even a Brett-Michaels-kind of ballad. I have to say however that they were good musicians, especially the drummer. I concede that being an opening act is not easy. You’re performing in conditions that are not necessarely the best for you, in front of peoples that don’t know you and did not came to see you. But they difinitely didn’t impress me. Watch their first song here.
Around 9h45, Jeff Martin and the band entered the stage. They started with the album’s opening track, The Ground Cries Out. That was it, this evening was set to be a great one. I don’t recall seeing Jeff rock like that since he disbanded The Tea Party. His voice was, as always, deep and mesmerizing. And he treated us with tons of great guitar solos and improvisations. As an example, take a look at this video of Overload, which he started with a nice bluesy intro. He also offered us a nice solo during the song, into which he threw a few Hendrix riff, for the great pleasure of his guitarist fans.
Speaking of guitarist fan, I was please to see him play with a Fender Telecaster for The Messenger. I believe that was the first time I saw him play a Fender, which a like a lot.
Besides from playing the songs off their latest record, they also played a few of The Tea Party’s songs like Overload, Requiem, The Messenger, The Bazaar and Coming Home. They also played Whole Lotta Love by Led Zeppelin, with the participation of Gabriel Lee. I have to say that as much as I like the new material, everytime they played a Tea Party song, it made me realized how great they were.
As if it wasn’t enough, we also had the pleasure to see Jeff playing his guitar with a bow, as he used to do in Save Me. Even though he did not invent this, and some others have done it brillantly, it’s always thrilling to see Jeff pull out his bow and play his magic. You can see it here, on The Cobra.
For me, this show had nothing really surprising. After all, it was the 6th or 7th time I saw Jeff live (either alone or with The Tea Party). But I can tell you without a doubt that it was one of those amazing memorable rock show. It had a lot of those little extras that make a show stand out.
Hats off to Jeff and the guys and please, come back soon to rock the hell out of that city.