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  • Review: The Kills Heat Things Up at POP Montreal

    • Alison Mossheart being her usual rad self—just look at that messy rockstar hair! Photo courtesy Louis Longpre

    • The Kills rocking out on Wednesday at Metropolis. Photo courtesy Louis Longpre

    Hot and cold references aside, The Kills’ newest album, Ash & Ice, is anything but lukewarm.

    In fact, the band is alive and well and as vital as ever.

    Their showmanship at Metropolis on Wednesday night—an intricate, electrically charged fusion of playfulness, commitment, sincerity, and rocker nonchalance—was further proof that the band hasn’t reached a bump in the road.

    Over the course of their career, Alison Mosshart and Jamie Hince have taken us for a ride through their home turf: musical graveyards. They’ve visited the headstones of 60’s and 70’s rock ‘n’ roll riffs, 80’s punk jams, and synthy 2000’s bass lines.

    It seems referencing the past is an integral part of how The Kills manage to cultivate their distinct sound. According to a 2009 interview for The Stranger, they even chose their name because it “sounded like a band that could exist in any decade.”

    The duo’s songs act as memento mori that showcase their widespread influences and illustrate the ephemerality of life. Their lyrics are studded with allusions to fleeting moments and impermanence, from “U.R.A Fever,” a Midnight Boom—a 2008 anthem with atypical rhythms that mimics the erratic nature of passing time—to “Doing it to Death,” Ash & Ice’s emblematic single, which evokes California decadence.

    The concert opener, “Heart of a Dog,” was a tune fresh off the new album that wants to be listened to as much as its subject, who wails: “I’m loyal, oh oh, I’m loyal.” The song immediately established a communion between The Kills and their singing fans. Symbolically, the melded voices incarnated what is, to date, a shared, 15-year musical journey.

    The setlist also called attention to the uncertainty, pain, and passion of life’s milestones, as well as to The Kills’ expert ability to guide us through the whirlwind towards calmer waters. After a devilish half-hour of pyrotechnical performance—mesmerizing strutting, slinking, and head banging, coupled with skillful guitar bravado—Mosshart returned to the stage, solo this time, for a raw, soul-bearing, acoustic encore performance of “That Love.” She was soon joined again by Hince to complete the haunting strains of “Siberian Nights” and “Last Day of Magic.”

    Even rock stars have to confront their mortality. The duo’s stream-of-consciousness stories are genuine, yet unspecific snapshots drawn from personal experience that leave sufficient room for individual interpretation and self-recognition. The artistry lies in the band’s ability to subtly reference relatable themes without resorting to clichés.

    Mosshart and Hince are clearly masters of the storm. On Wednesday night, they enveloped us in their tempest and demanded that we trust they would deliver us safely to our final destination.

    The climax of the show, “Fried My Little Brains,” seamlessly eased the transition from the concert hall to the real world, bringing us full circle, right back to where we began. Now what remains of the night is an elusive memory we tried to sear in our skulls—but in the end, isn’t that the point?

  • POEM: consent

    Transcribed from original:

    hey baby have i asked you to question me and you know that thing you assumed has been wasted for always you have drained me of my meaning and now i am the brick wall that you shout your voice at in hopes to hear an echo thru that broken threshold where hollow patrons sitting at the bar empty themselves into glasses, lost in reflections, ashtrays, booze, girls, etc in hopes that hate and anger will one day ask them how they feel and perhaps how things could be better going, but if we are not asking questions lets agree to raise our hands and ask consent to be a peaceful energy and you are you and i am me and i ask you why you’ve hurt me
    stolen from me

    the spontaneous prose store

  • POEM: Solidarity Will Suffice

    There is something in the way
    of solidarity
    In the way we continue to
    mold a patriarchy and in it
    present women objectively
    In the way we play god, using
    other life as “our” tools for
    rearing greed.

    Could these be similarities?
    A lack of spirituality?
    We value life instrumentally
    rather than intrinsically.
    And we will not have solidarity
    f we continue to act
    Towards nature’s vulnerability
    One species’ interest is not
    the sum of solidarity

    We must preserve these
    If we are to flourish in unity

  • Summer Songs 2 Embodies All the Fun You Wish You Could Have

    • Graphic Zoe Gelfant.

    Let’s get one thing straight: it’s time for all you old hip-hop heads to stop hating and appreciate the creativity that is Lil Yachty’s music.

    After dropping his nautical mixtape, Lil Boat, earlier this year, it quickly made the rounds—becoming one of the silliest mixes to make its way onto the web. Quirky samples, barbaric lyrics, and a generally positive attitude caked the entire project from front to back.

    Striking while the iron’s hot, Lil Yachty has released another nonsensical but equally enticing mixtape appropriately named Summer Songs 2. The production is more refined this time around, all features being kept close to home while members of Lil Yachty’s Sailing Team making their debut appearance as a collective on the project.

    The song “Intro (First Day of Summer)” starts off the tape with Lil Yachty’s unique tone of voice layered on top of a silly production styling. It’s instantly recognizable that Summer Songs 2 is in the same vein as Lil Boat, but with a clearer emphasis that the MC isn’t a one trick pony. Rather, he is here for the long haul.

    The following track, “For Hot 97” pokes fun at the older demographic of rap fanatics by targeting one of the most popular hip-hop radio stations, Hot 97. A host of the radio show Ebro Darden—who is not a fan of Lil Yachty’s quirky style—put the young Atlanta rapper on blast during one of their interviews because Lil Yachty wasn’t down with freestyling seriously.

    “So people who love bars are so about hip-hop, and the reason they’re so mad is because they think the young kids don’t take hip-hop seriously”

    Lil Yachty quickly responded with an honest and blunt answer. “I honestly don’t,” he said.

    “For Hot 97” is one of the most aggressive tracks on the tape, featuring verses from fellow Sailing Team members Jban$, BIGBRUTHACHUBBA and Byou, who all sound just as unique as the captain of the team himself. However, the most hostile verses to make their way onto the tape appears on the track “Up Next 3”, delivered by Lil Herb.

    While the track feels grimy and relentlessly in your face, Lil Yachty and Lil Herb spare no time spitting their most vigorous lyrics, leaving little room to breathe. It’s undebatable that “Up Next 3” is the most polarizing track to appear on Summer Songs 2 as both the young MCs go off, leaving the listener totally hyped.

    The next track, “Dipset” takes advantage of the animated television show Cowboy Bebop, blending samples from the series into the song. A heavy booming bass leads the track from start to finish and features a guest verse from rapper Offset, of the Atlanta rap trio, Migos. The female vocals that harmonize in the background wonderfully reflect the carefree, light-hearted style that Lil Yachty aims to achieve.

    The posse cut “All In” features the entire Sailing Team and introduces us many up and coming rappers—that we can hopefully expect to hear more from in the coming years.

    It’s evident that the whole squad is having fun and isn’t taking themselves too seriously, rather enjoying their moment in the limelight. It’ll be interesting to watch the direction that each member takes as they continue forth beyond the mixtape.

    Lil Yachty isn’t here try to impress anyone, let alone shape the next pivotal rap album. He’s not about that—he’s enjoying himself in the moment and has clear intentions to keep it that way.

  • Jazz Fest: Montreal’s Bread and Butter

    Montreal; ever-so-loved for its blistering hot summers and unending party scene, is home to some of the greatest music festivals in Canada. It is during this time of year that young people flock to the city in hopes of catching their favourite bands—whether it be at Osheaga or IleSoniq, the festival vibes are all around.

    Among the heaps of festivals that grace our fine city, very few are as renown and beloved as the Festival International de Jazz de Montreal. Beginning in late June and heading straight into the second week of July, it’s the bread and butter of Montreal in the summer, proving that Osheaga isn’t the only party worth going to.

    Taking place in Place des Arts, the FIJM packs an overall 2 million attendees into the already cramped Ste. Catherine St. and nearby ruelles.

    The FIJM is as incredibly dynamic and action-packed as the festivals that grace the grounds of Parc Jean Drapeau. Just take a stroll through the bustling streets of downtown and you’ll discover buskers, poets, aerobic performances, and a variety of concerts and gigs—many of which are free.

    Gracing stages all over the city were the likes of none other than Cat Power, Ms. Lauryn Hill and Danny Brown, amidst a slew of iconic and lesser-known performers alike.

    Cat Power’s solo performance at Metropolis on June 29 stole hearts and opened the festival with a tender feeling of sad resilience and delicacy. Sans her accompanying band, attendees were at the whim of Power’s magical voice and unique stage presence, as she told stories of times long past and softly whispered “sorry”s from the microphone. Perhaps she wanted to feel more Canadian? I don’t know.

    Her show was short yet still so sweet, as she played fan favourites “The Greatest,” “Good Woman”—bring on the tears—and “Where is My Love?”
    The second week of the festival continued to blow minds with a variety of awesome, dynamic music. Lauryn Hill—oh my god—would be performing at Place des Arts, and Danny Brown—hell yes—at Metropolis.

    Both musicians, while incredibly different in genre, share a knack for high-energy shows and a dedicated fanbase.

    With two sold out shows, Hill’s soulful voice, accompanied by a dozen other musicians, packed the Place des Arts concert auditorium. Her show was magical—her voice as vast as an ocean and the band leading you through the water. Tones of blue projected on the ceiling amplified the waviness of Hill’s set as she took you on a journey from one artistic style to another.

    Hill is a one-of-a-kind musician. Her voice is raw, passionate and soulful. Her flexibility in tone and style as an artist is rare, as displayed in her show. She sang in French, she sang our city’s name like the words couldn’t have stayed any longer in her mouth. “Montreal,” she sang over and over again. The crowd went wild.

    She was eventually joined by her kids on stage during the finale. Heartwarming, much.

    FIJM’s choice to have Danny Brown was well thought-out. Both unusual and welcome, it was a great way to attract a different music community to the festival. Brown’s shows can be pretty hardcore, with moshpits abound and lots of jumping. The July 5 show was no different.

    Despite anticipation for the new album, Brown mostly performed tracks off of Old, such as all-time favourites “Drinkin’ and Smokin’”, “Dip”, “Kush Koma” and “25 Cents”.

    The moshpit was wild, crushing practically everyone on the main floor. Everyone seemed to be in a good mood though, despite the elbowing. Two girls squeezed their way up to front stage just to stand there and try to talk, unmoving and uncaring of the music. They were soon lost once again into the masses of people losing their shit for Danny Brown.

    Without forgetting to note new to the scene and show-opener, Nate Husser. Joined by The Posterz, the collaborating artists gave Brown a Montreal-style homecoming.

    Admittedly, the festival often carries the weight of hosting incredibly unique and oftentimes underground artists while simultaneously trying to promote them to the larger Montreal population, many of whom aren’t diehard jazz fans.

    It makes for lots of shows going unnoticed or garnering smaller crowds. With that in mind, I picked one band at random, dedicating myself to discovering new sound and talent.

    I went to Moon Hooch’s show with no more than a brief listen on Spotify. The New York City-native trio, surprised me with their the upbeat, fast-paced, chaotic sound. With just two saxophones and a shirtless drummer, Moon Hooch was easily one of the most engaging performances from this year’s lineup.

    A mix of jazz and bass-y electronic music, the band’s hour and a half long set boomed through L’Astral; its powerhouse-eclectic noise ringing through the body of the crowd.

    Somehow, it felt as though saxophonist Mike Wilbur was screaming through his instrument. In awe I wondered at the man’s lung capacity.

    Towards the end of their set, Wentzl McGowan attached a large, dented pylon to his sax. I had never seen anything like it. They transitioned with a heavy, thumping bass from the make-shift amplifier and their sound took on a danceable, groovy tune.

    Their set was nothing short of phenomenal. Some people bounced and bobbed to the eclectic ring of Moon Hooch’s quick percussion and heavy bass, others sat not-so-still. No matter where you were in the venue, dancing was unavoidable.

    I left the show that night with a new favourite band. Check them out below—maybe they’ll become your new favourites, too!

    The FIJM proves itself to be a fun time, no matter what you’re into. Encouraging city-dwellers to crowd the streets of Place des Arts and take it all in, whether it be enjoying the public pianos or the free concerts.

    Jazz Fest is cool, alright? A lady wrote an original poem for me on her typewriter. There was sweet tunes. And vegan food! Need I say more?

    Don’t miss out again. And if you did make it, well, tell your friends and come again next year!