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1. “Little Saint Nick” – Hanson, from the album Snowed In
It’s bad enough that the entire Snowed In album sounds like the Hanson bros had a mortgage payment due; the whole thing is thrown together sloppily without much sentimentality or enthusiasm. The worst offender of the whole stale smorgasbord is their cover of the Beach Boys’ “Little Saint Nick.” What was once a playful Cali-style croon about Santa’s sweet, red ride is reduced to a mushy, layer-free Christmas trifle that’s squished into every crevice of your hopeful earholes, but somehow also leaves you feeling as though you’re chewing on tinfoil. Vocals that strain to hit the higher notes and fully bastardize the Beach Boys’ once pristine barbershop style harmonies, obnoxious bell jangling and electric guitar licks run rampant. Seriously.
2. “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer” – I Declare War, from the album Bring the Season
This “song” is like the soundtrack to anti-Christmas—imagine your nativity ornaments on your tree bursting into flames. I Declare War is an insanely brutal deathcore band (blood-splattered album cover and all) who should have left this holiday alone. Their cover of “Rudolph” starts out innocent, with gang vocals chanting the classic children’s song. Everything is going fine until the line “You would even…say…it…” and then “BLUGGGHHHH,” at which point a sludgy breakdown and legitimately frightening deathcore vocals, like a clogged toilet flushing assault your ears. Breakdowns, blastbeats, pig squeals, and toilet vox ruin Christmas for the next 30 seconds, until the guitars switch into a hellish chugging riff and the vocalist actually starts reciting the lyrics to “Rudolph,” with banshee-like squeals in the background—play this for kids and they’ll be bawling in seconds. This song would be a fitting and festive Christmas song if we lived in an alternate universe where Jesus was like Godzilla and the apocalypse was upon us, with sharpened candy canes raining down, stabbing everyone’s eyeballs. Take a trip to Hell and listen to I Declare War’s Christmas monstrosities at your own peril.
3. “Santa Baby” – The Pussycat Dolls, from the album Now That’s What I Call Christmas
What was once Eartha Kitt’s sultry, pricy, musical Christmas list to the man in red is given the pop music treatment, but leaves you feeling like you might need to be sterilized. The lackluster, sexless vocals of the song are surprising, given the fact that the 100 Pussycat Dolls (how many of them are there, again?), actually started out as a burlesque dance troupe, but not surprising at all for an ensemble that was once called “a brand, not a band” by Entertainment Weekly. Basically, the lack of any shine, zest or smoky panache on the vocal end of things results in what sounds like a girls-night-out turned confusingly sexual karaoke soirée—in your local strip mall. Santa baby, hurry down the chimney tonight and bring us better Christmas music to listen to.
4. O Magnify the Lord – Sandi Patty, from the album The Gift Goes On
So, celebrating the holidays in the way you see fit is totally fine by us—everyone has the right to do that—but there is a line in the sand of enthusiasm. Sandi Patti crossed that line about five Percocets back. You need to be an animated Christmas-centric cartoon character to get on this song’s level. It’s what happens when the people who go door to door trying to sell Bibles, powered on nothing but uppers, coffee and Christmas cheer, get behind the microphone in a recording studio. It’s not that Sandi Patti’s voice isn’t nice, because it is, It’s just the sticky sweet that you get from chomping on candy canes that stick in your molars and give you cavities. It’s not that the tempo of the song is too fast, as long as you consider breakneck speed in a one horse open sleigh en route to the Mall of America to be taking it easy. It’s a brand of praise so smilingly enthusiastic that it’s creepy enough to put the fear of the divine—or at least of Christmas carols—in you.
We couldn’t find it online, probably for good reason, but you can hear a preview here.
5. “So’s Christmas” – Cheryl Thibideau, from the album My Heart Still Remembers
This sickly sweet country album has been kicking around the Fringe office for a few months now, and has been the butt of many jokes when we need a good laugh. The bonus Christmas track on the album is certainly worthy of this Worst Christmas Songs list. The little bass bumps and guitar twangs make this song seriously hilarious, and Thibideau’s slow southern drawl cannot be taken seriously at all. The lyrics are somehow suggestively sexual while remaining Christmasy, and are in true country bumpkin style: “Hey Santa, what are you waiting for? Pull your sleigh up to my front door. […] Love is on its way and so’s Christmas.” Some lyrics are also incredibly clever, like the inspired “Ho ho ho, hold me close.” The album art of the 50+ years old Thibideau draped over a luxurious sofa gazing out a window 50 Shades style in a flowing dress completes the package of this truly ridiculous album.
HONOURABLE MENTION: “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer” – DMX, improvised cover
We can’t quite figure out whether to love this or hate it, but either way it’s going viral on Facebook and Reddit. On the one hand, it’s a reality TV style cover of the one and only DMX, slinging the lyrics to this classic Christmas song with abandon. On the other hand, it’s a reality TV cover of the one and only DMX slinging—you get the idea.
The problem with big city music festivals is that, in an effort to book many artists into a period of a few days, the lineup for a show may just be a random jumble of musical acts that don’t mesh.
Such was the case with the Thundercat/Ango/The Range/Mozart’s Sister concert Saturday night at Le Belmont.
The music consisted of jam-heavy electro-jazz, EDM with live auto-tuned vocals, a funk DJ set and sparse, airy indie pop. Needless to say, this combination did not make for a coherent evening of music.
The night began with Mozart’s Sister, a trio fronted by Caila Thompson-Hannant, who played simple, airy songs backed by intricate drum loops. In order to fill the empty space in the songs, the band used reverb—and lots of it.
Next was Ango, an R&B singer who sang auto-tuned karaoke to beats from his laptop. The beats were fun, sampling Michael Jackson and R. Kelly, and his background video projections were stunning. His vocal melodies, however, were uninspired, and the auto-tune just didn’t work.
After that was The Range, also known as James Hinton, who performed a DJ set, combining ’70s funk, R&B and new age techno.
The record producer, fresh off the heels of his first album’s release, had a good mix, but the audience was not in a dancing mood after the random nature of the lineup. It’s a shame he wasn’t placed in a club where his work could’ve been more appreciated.
The last act was Thundercat, a.k.a. Stephen Bruner Sr., a bassist best known for his former band, Suicidal Tendencies. He has also performed with Erykah Badu, Wiz Khalifa and Earl Sweatshirt, among others.
Thundercat formed after Bruner collaborated with Flying Lotus on the latter’s album Cosmogramma.
Flying Lotus then produced Thundercat’s debut album, 2010’s The Golden Age Of Apocalypse.
Bruner arrived on stage in an oversized, wide brimmed hat with a beautiful six-stringed bass. He was accompanied by a keyboardist and his brother Ronald Bruner Jr. on drums.
The trio bashed out their own style of jazz funk fusion, using their recorded songs as a framework to solo over. Each song averaged ten minutes, and there was never a dull moment.
Bruner’s bass playing is rhythmic, and his timing perfect. He plays so fast that at points the notes are inaudible and the syncopation shines.
He would play fills on his bass that would match the speed from the fills of the drummer.
When Bruner sang, his quivering falsetto gave warmth to the highly technical performance. It was as much a driving factor as any other instrument.
Ronald played the drums with mad intensity and brought energy into every song. Though incredibly skilled and fun to watch, he sometimes overplayed during his band members solos.
This occurred especially with the keyboard which, due to the acoustics of the venue, was low in the mix.
Overall, Thundercat played a great hour and a half set, ending at 3 a.m. Highlights included the single “Oh Sheit, it’s X!” and an instrumental version of “Heartbreaks + Setbacks.”
Thundercat is an amazing musician. People attend his concerts to watch him and his band excel at their instruments.
The other acts of the evening did not even have live instruments. The songs were musically simple and did not seem to fit the audience’s niche.
The opening acts’ performances were, overall, decent, but they were not much of a match for the headliner in both skill and style.
Regardless, Thundercat played a great set, and, even at three in the morning, he had the audience hungry for more.
Let’s just get the obvious out there right now: it’s cold, and it’s only going to get colder. With November about to end, December is waiting in the wings to sweep in and infect us all with a rough case of holiday fever and winter chills.
Whether it’s your first or fifth winter here in Montreal, the transition to downright freezing is always a painful one this time of year. But don’t worry too much, there are tons of ways to win the cold war: onesie pajamas, brand new mittens, hibernation a la bears, and our personal favourite, hot drinks.
That’s why we here at The Link have compiled a list of some special hot drinks all over Montreal to keep you toasty all season long. It’s warm, sip-able goodness, from the alcoholically naughty, to the deliciously sweet and nice.
1. Lavender Tea Latte – Thé Kiosque (1428 Mackay St.)
We know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, “My goodness, I bet everyone on staff at The Link is really ridiculously good looking!” No? Well, then maybe you’re thinking that drinking lavender sounds weird, but rest assured that it isn’t. This latte, with its light floral flavor, a hint of vanilla and the right amount of sweetness would be the perfect thing to relax you on the way home from an intense study session at the library.
2. “Le Babette” Hot Chocolate – Au Festin De Babette (4085 Ste. Denis St.)
Get your chocolate fix with one of many great varieties of this steamy cocoa concoction, often noted for being one of the best Montreal has to offer. Not to be missed is “The Babette,” a creamy chocolate, simmering with the heat and spice of ginger, pepper and cardamom.
3. Mulled Wine – Le Cagibi (5490 St Laurent Blvd)
Mulled wine—basically Christmas in a glass—was a popular holiday drink in Victorian England, and is now seeing a return to popularity. Basically, it’s sweetened red wine, heated up with spices like cloves and nutmeg, as well as slices of citrus fruit. Sounds crazy—crazy DELICIOUS.
4. Hot Cider – Else’s (156 Roy St. E.)
This winter classic needs almost no introduction whatsoever. It’s hot, it’s apple-icious and it’s stood the test of time against winter, year after year. Nothing quite shakes off the cold like a glass of this steaming, cinnamon delight.
The boozy blueberry tea at the Irish Embassy. Photo Geoffrey Vendeville
5. Blueberry Tea – The Irish Embassy (1234 Bishop St.)
If you’re one of those people who says they are “not a coffee person” but you’d still like something warm and boozy for your very own, this beverage is a mind-melting combination of blueberry tea, Grand Marnier and Amaretto.
What beverages would you count among your favourites to keep the heat up as the weather cools down?
Georgia Webber // DUMB
In October 2012, Georgia Webber was diagnosed as an “abusive talker”—hurting her throat by talking way too much.
She was ordered to stop using her voice for six months. As she made enormous life adjustments, she also decided to document the decrescendos of her day-to-day life in DUMB, a six-part comic project that’s partly released.
This weekend she’ll also be debuting her newest series Oral, which explores the “vocal side of sex.”
Tobin Louise Reimer
Vancouver native Tobin Louise Reimer is a cool cat who draws like a human —or maybe it’s the opposite. Stop at her table to wash your eyes from the ugliness of life; she has an excess of dreamy colours hanging from the tip of her brush. Poetic zines and prints aplenty will be found there.
Julie Delporte sharpens pencils for a living. Sort of. The French, Montreal-based comic artist recently published Journal (Koyama Press) based on the personal visual diary she kept through 2011-2012.
Her book says a lot with few words and simplistic, colourful pencil lines. Everything just naturally flows on the page, taped drafts and unashamed corrections. Her work is a sincere, intimate journey full of beautiful silences.
Concordia’s student-run Lit magazine makes its appearance at Expozine, bringing with it poems, fiction, non-fiction and visual art, all the hard work and self expression of fellow Concordia students.
Stop by their table and snag a copy of your own—and they’re always scouting for new submissions, too.
A small collective dedicated to various kinds of street art, from graffiti to knit graffiti and back, flying underneath the banner of “feminist, […] antiracist, anticolonial and anticorporate.”
These artists combine whimsical colours, characters and images with political statements that make you reflect on the wicked ways of our weird world, while still bringing a smile to your face.
Math was on the menu Monday night at Il Motore, where bands Gulfer, Mylets, TTNG (This Town Needs Guns), and And So I Watch You From Afar all played raging sets, presenting the usual pillars of math-rock: odd time signatures, sudden tempo changes, and bi-polar tunes.
The music often oscillated between surging sing-along vocals and driving guitar tapping from the musicians on stage, delivering tight and cohesive performances.
The venue was full and alive during sets, yet the Monday night blues could be felt in the room, with the audience being quiet and timid between songs.
Montreal’s own Gulfer opened the show and warmed the room up despite the cold and rainy autumn evening. Known for their energy and drive, the members wasted no time in getting their hands dirty with the delivery of a solid performance.
Aggressive guitar riffs, coercive drums, and intricate bass lines weaving in and out of what seemed to be a deliberately crafted sonic chaos is what really makes the guys from Gulfer stand apart.
The band recently added a fourth member to the lineup—guitarist Steven Whitelay, formerly of Head Honcho—and the addition did not disappoint. Playing their first show as a four piece, Steven’s driving tapping lines coupled with the already intricate synergy of the other members made for a fitting addition.
“Not only does a fourth member really fill out our sound in general,” said bassist David Mitchell, “but Steven in particular just adds a really unique approach and perspective. Plus he plays trumpet which is a really cool little bonus.”
The unconventional use of the trumpet throughout their set added a soothing touch to the scattered and ever changing math soundscape behind them.
Los Angeles-based record label Sargent House generously took care of the crowd for the rest of the evening, flaunting some of the most well-known acts on its roster. The highlight of the night was without a doubt TTNG’s long-awaited full-length set.
Hailing from Oxford, United Kingdom, TTNG—formerly known as This Town Needs Guns—are considered by many to be pioneers in the math rock genre, and with good reason.
The release of a few EPs by the band in the mid 2000s—_Hippy Jam Fest_ and the self-titled _This Town Needs Guns_—quickly garnered attention and put the musicians on the map.
The full LP release of Animals in 2008 was a defining moment in the band’s sound and progress and equally served as a definite sign that they were here to stay.
After a few lineup changes, including the addition of Henry Tremain—formerly from Pennines—on bass and vocals, TTNG released 22.214.171.124.0, their second full-length LP.
The band has been steadily touring Europe and North America since its release last January, and Montreal’s Il Motore has been lucky enough to receive them twice in roughly the past six months.
“This is rad. This is possibly the most polite show I’ve ever been to…and I’m playing it!” said frontman Henry Tremain to an eerily quiet crowd while tuning his modified baritone guitar between songs.
The energy that couldn’t be felt between sets was quickly overshadowed by the small pit that formed every time TTNG would launch back into their tunes. The skill and complexity that TTNG played with is unmatched by many.
Guitarist Tim Collis weaves his finger picking style smooth as silk, completing an unhealthy amount of pull offs and hammer ons that would without a doubt exacerbate your own arthritis.Collis’ signature melodic and timid guitar lines created from unconventional tunings mix seamlessly with Tremain’s sparse and complex syncopated bass lines—far from an easy task considering the complexity of playing and singing simultaneously.
The rhythm section was supported by the encompassing drums of percussionist Chris Collis as people from the crowd attempted to tap their feet in confusion to the ever changing time signatures and tempos.
Collis’ playing speaks for itself with his array of loud, deep and usually fast-paced beats coupled with symbol tricks and the witty use of his hi-hat—a trait appreciated by the crowd as the band blasted through their final track “26 is Dancier Than 4” with the help of sing alongs from the crowd and a few body surfers.
A satisfied and dedicated audience could be seen leaving the venue Monday evening. Despite the reserved nature of the crowd, the show itself was filled with energy from all acts and it manifested itself with the crowd throughout the sets.
TTNG are currently finishing up their North American tour with only a few more shows left while Gulfer currently signed to Montreal-based Stack Your Roster record label will continue to bang out more shows and a possible new release by the end of year.