M Pour Montreal 2012
Words: Nathan Westley Photos: Mike Burnell
Canada has produced a proud succession of bands in recent years that have gallantly been championed by tastemakers and taken to the hearts of music fans around the world. It is at the annual M pour Montreal festival that the countries hottest new acts are rounded up and showcased to a wider home grown audience before later despatching onto appear at SXSW, New York’s CMJ and Britain’s very own Great Escape festival. Now in its seventh year, M pour Montreal can proudly boast alumini such as: Martha Wainwright, The Stills, Cadence Weapon and The Dears. The 2012 incarnation hoped to add some more names to the list.
The opening day of this four day music marathon, saw a varied selection of acts take to the stage at the Sala Rossa venue. It is of little surprise that Esmerine should feature ex-members of God Speed You! Black Emperor within their line up. Hints of post-rock litter their filmic instrumental based music, which is only livened up by the flickering succession of real time created visuals that are projected onto the screen behind them.
Eight and a Half on the other hand have a much wider appeal. Consisting of one Broken Social Scene member and two ex-Stills members, tonight this indie trio walk a path that isn’t too dissimilar from Interpol’s.
Blue Hawai are an electronic duo that feature a member of Braids and create a sound that flits between Crystal Castles without the ego laden drama and laidback ambience that cast’s them into the sphere of labelmate’s Grimes.
The success of one artist can spawn many imitators; while many locals are keen to champion the musical prowess of Mozarts Sister, we instead find ourselves thinking it is the sound of Charli XCX and Grimes in a tug of war contest’ with neither coming off clean.
Suuns may not be the newest of names on the line up, but tonight in this intimate venue, the quartet offer up a set that is a hypnotically inducing mix of art-pop and experimental rock that often swerves towards Clinic ranged hypnosis.
Many have pinned their hopes on Half Moon Run being the next local based band to join Arcade Fire in becoming internationally known heavyweights. The reasoning is a simple one; they conjure up a sound that can easily be described as having that “widespread mass appeal” that record exec’s earnestly look for i.e. it’s inoffensive indie-folk tunes that are decorated with flourishes of Seventies rock.
Thursday is the day where the festival swings into full action. A day where it is possible to run around and catch a high number of acts in one neatly crafted swoop, though it is unfortunate that Thursday should yield a beginning similar to where the previous day had ended.
Folly and the Hunter offer our ears more MOR Seventies rock and leaves us questioning whether the city has more to worry about than just Grimes wannabe’s.
Whitehorse are a married couple who hold the traditional Rock ‘n’ Roll ethos close to their hearts; they also have their eyes set on becoming the next Civil Wars.
While the previous where both deadly serious, Honheehonhee inject a sense of playful fun into the afternoon. A musical brew of Los Campesinos!, Les Savy Fav and Tapes & Tapes & Tapes, these xylophone bashing twee indie popsters later up the tweeness by adorning papier mache animal masks for the final song of their set.
As the sun falls, it is little surprise that the evening should see a shift in gear; No Joy may get labelled as being a grunge indebted shoegaze band but they leave you with the fierce sense that this is a band that really doesn’t fit neatly into the scene that surrounds them, but gives a good insight into what may appear on their forthcoming sophomore album.
Cosmetics are a cold electro duo who create electronic pop songs that occasionally have atmospheric sections but also have a tendency to want to be like Grimes but often sound like Client given a rigid makeover.
Young Galaxy have previously been nominated for the Polaris prize (Canada’s equivalent of the Mercury) and are essentially a pop group that comes armed with guitars. With their aesthetics firmly set in the Eighties pop mould, snaps of New Order and The Cure breakthrough but they retain class but somehow remain slightly detatched from the audience.
The Sub-pop signed duo Memory House appear with an additional guest on drums but their sweet melodies and laidback groove may often see them described as being ‘Canada’s answer to Beach House’.
PS I Love You are a hard rocking duo who have their eyes firmly set on breaking out of any caskets anyone tries to put them in, easily avoiding the plague of being compared to The White Stripes. This duo navigate to a position that is far nearer the pop induced punk of the late Eighties, singer Paul with his double necked guitar leading us through songs that have the tenacity to put smiles on many faces.
Mac DeMarco a young veteran of many local bands is now stepping out on his own to become the main focal point for these infectious strains of non-offensive pop laced garage rock tunes that bristle with the influence of The Replacements that makes the girls swoon and the boys beg for more. Mac DeMarco will be the artist to leap out of the starting blocks and into your consciousness pretty soon.
With many of the acts scheduled to play today, already having made appearances previously, today was a day where the goer, could either take stock of what they have already seen and venture out to see some of those highlights again or alternatively
Where once Parisian based solo artist Yan Wagner who indulges in creating the type of synth heavy Eighties pop that is dark and at times brooding; chances of him being a fan of Gary Numan are high.
While the evening poses the question of whether D’eon is an artist that should be taken seriously or not? And it is a question that hinges on your appreciation of Tim Minchin. Both have much in common, a fondness for piano based tunes that are sprightly laced with bursts of quick flashy outbursts and lyrics that are laced with humour and deal with uncomfortable and often bleak subjects. Safe to say that no other artist like D’eon appeared at this event.
The final night of M Pour Montreal should serve as a night that brought out some big hitters and some names who reside far out of the city. Mykki Blanco may not be a native, but this cross dressing hip hop artist delivers a set that lures those there to witness it in with its charismatic presence.
The story of Death Grips is one that has been difficult for any serious music fan to dodge this year. From signing to a major to cancelling tours and releasing their album independently online without label approval; 2012 has been a year that this duo will never forget. Tonight in the Corona theatre, this infamous duo perform a set that barges its way through beat heavy soundbeds and fierce bursts of noise to deliver a powerful set that will linger deep with those within the venues walls.
Later across town rock quartet Bleeding Rainbow lay down a set that is rich in 90’s slacker pop elements and is encased in a shoegazery coating that should see them connect with a lot more people in the coming months.
Yet it was the ever noisy and reliable A Place To Bury Strangers who left one of the biggest impressions of the festival, strolling onstage theses builders of noise reach up and smash the lights positioned above their heads and plunge the area into near total darkness. From this point on they embark on a set that is fierce in its intensity and which swerves through material from both ‘Exploding Head’ and recent album ‘Worship’, the ear bending noise being only punctured by the silhouettes peering out through a thick heavy cloud of smoke in front.
While Odonis Odonis close the night and the festival for us; their mix of garage and surf rock combining together to form a shouty punkish collision that will make fans of shouty noise very happy. By the end, one thing is certain, Montreal and Canada at large both have a lot of talent to showcase.