The Liquor Store Releases First Album ‘NightDrive’

They Brought Together Rapkeb, Freestyle, Soul, in an Exciting Lineup

The Liquor Store band members have found each other in CEGEP and been playing together ever since. Photo Dustin Kagan-Fleming

“It’s so good to have a following that wants to hear music that doesn’t necessarily play on the radio,” said Rémi Cormier in French, The Liquor Store trumpet player, before launching into another song to a round of applause.

On May 29, The Liquor Store released their first album, NightDrive, bringing members of the French and English music communities together on a 14 tracks record of original songs.

The launch took place at Apt. 200, a St. Laurent Blvd. club disguised as a house, with hanging plants and a bed to boot. The record attracted an audience of all ages, and the show got everyone moving.

The band met their audience with high intensity and energy—drums, keys, a bass, a guitar, two saxophones, and a trumpet make a lot of noise, attracting a majorly expressive crowd. Within minutes, they got the audience chanting their name.

After two extended plays and countless collaborations, NightDrive comes as the culmination of years of work since the seven members met each other in CEGEP and founded their band.

Cormier and keys player Félix Leblanc described The Liquor Store’s sound as groovy, with elements of hip-hop, funk, and jazz textures, improvisation, and complex chords.

Celebrated Montreal freestyler Scynikal made an appearance on the song “The Greatest” from ‘NightDrive.’ Photo Dustin Kagan-Fleming

This blend was on full display during the performance as both The Liquor Store and their invited performers offered up a show that featured heavy doses of rapping, a string quartet, blaring keys, and horns that dominated the room.

Leblanc explained that they strive to explore different musical genres, and borrow the rhythms of popular dance music.

“Even in trying to tap into virtuosity we try to hold back and make music that’s fun to listen to, at the end of the day,” said Cormier.

The band collaborated with 11 artists on NightDrive and a quatuor of strings, who each brought their own sound that melded with The Liquor Store’s. Frannie Holder and Fab from Random Recipe, a band with a unique sound, mixing alternative, hip-hop, jazz, and indie, appeared on the album with the song “Moonshine.”

The Liquor Store bassist Émile Farley introduced Fab and Holder to their music, and asked them to appear on their album when he was touring with them. The Liquor Store provided the music, and Random Recipe wrote the lyrics.

“The kid’s got talent, he’s got groove, and he’s well surrounded, because other guys from Liquor Store are also fucking fantastic,” said Fab.

Holder said that it’s exciting to see what the new generation of musicians is coming up with. There is a new wave of melding different genres together, and The Liquor Store is not afraid to create their own sound and be themselves.

There was an energy akin to the front row of a concert at times, making the audience feel about twice as large as it actually was. Photo Dustin Kagan-Fleming

The track “Moonshine” is about alcohol. “You drown in it, it gets you caught up,” said Fab. “It gets you high and gets you low.”

Fab and Holder were part of the lineup of artists invited to perform at the launch, and delivered with their signature explosive on-stage presence for “Moonshine.”

Montreal-based celebrated freestyler Scynikal was the first guest of the night. Donning a red cape, he lit up the room from the moment he stepped on stage. Both performers and audience members showed their appreciation for the freestyler’s work during the performance.

Throughout the night, The Liquor Store integrated their guests seamlessly—the fun on stage was palpable and translated to the crowd that was all-in.

The resulting atmosphere meant that even as performers came on and off, the venue provided an energy akin to the front row of a concert at times, making the audience feel about twice as large as it actually was.

Bringing together different elements such as rapkeb, freestyle, soul singers, the result is a uniquely-curated album that serves as a portrait of the blend and variety that defines part of the Montreal music scene of today.