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K.B.
02-06-2005, 12:40 PM
This is taken from today's on-line New York Times.
The search for the next big thing frequently ends up in small places. Hidebound by cloying commercial radio and clueless record executives, the American pop music scene has frequently depended on cities at the edges of the cultural map to provide a much-needed shot of originality. Seattle, Minneapolis, Austin, Tex., and Athens, Ga., have all served as temporary pivot points, churning out bands and defining the sound of the moment. Even Omaha had its 15 minutes not so long ago. The momentary consensus seems to come out of nowhere - as if someone blows a whistle only those in the know can hear, and suddenly record executives and journalists are crawling all over what had previously been an obscure locale.

So which American city is the next stop on this fickle, itinerant history? It's a trick question for the time being, because the answer seems to be Montreal.

Not French Montreal, either: the next big pop movement will not involve accordions accompanied by crooning chanteuses. This one involves a coven of English speakers who have banded together up and down Boulevard St. Laurent in the Mile End neighborhood, filling lofts, community centers, bars and restaurants with sumptuous noise. Montreal, which leaves serious business to Toronto and revels its a work-to-live ethic, has drawn Anglophone from all over Canada to form bands, record labels and a full-blown scene.

The French speakers may own the town - they are a 60 percent majority - but English-speaking bands are the ones being heard beyond the city limits. Locked out for the most part by Quebec radio and television, at least a dozen Montreal acts are reversing the normal United States-Canadian cultural polarity, producing records that have American audiences and record companies paying rapt attention. The band Arcade Fire stormed into American consciousness last year with a grand, swelling, choir-inflected sound. Their transnational incursion has been accompanied by the catchy lyricism of Sam Roberts, the oddball pop of the Unicorns and the romantic goth-pop of the Dears, along with a host of other local bands. Vice magazine, a foul-mouthed, hilarious Montreal-bred phenomenon, is now in Brooklyn with a record label that includes hometown acts like the Stills and Chromeo. Toss in the more mainstream success of Simple Plan - about two million units sold - you can hear music with a Montreal address on any radio in America.

The city shares a few key elements with temporary-musical-capital predecessors like Austin and Seattle. Being the biggest destination in a region almost guarantees an influx of musically inclined, disaffected young people to both play in and listen to bands. Bad weather helps, because it keeps songwriters inside and bands rehearsing. And perhaps most important, a nascent musical scene requires lots of cheap real estate for musicians and their fans to hang out and play in.

But in Montreal, those durable elements of musical invention are accompanied by a surprising political twist. Ten years ago, Anglophone-oriented money, people and resources pulled out - much of it for Toronto - leaving vacant buildings and a simmering conflict between the French and English speakers of Montreal. The threat of succession was supposed to end Anglophone viability in a majority French culture.

Instead, it seems to have led to an artistic regenesis. Minority groups working against a dominant culture have created lots of great music - think of Jim Crow America or apartheid-era South Africa. But unlike those groups, Anglophones aren't so much oppressed as irritated by their inability to get booked in local clubs or played on Quebec radio. In the lexicon of high school cliques, the French speakers, who are bilingual whenever they want to be, are the cool kids. Anglophones are outsiders as a matter of course, always promising to work on their French, but mostly finding succor and affinity among other English-only speakers, who compose seven percent of the population of the city.

K.B.
02-06-2005, 12:45 PM
At the same time, Montreal's vaguely socialist and communitarian politics, along with the city's reputation for hedonism, has produced off-the-grid parties in lofts and musician-run clubs, and plenty of opportunities for new and challenging music to find an audience. On an absolutely frigid recent Tuesday - a quiet night in the quietest time of year - three no-name bands were creating a racket at the recently opened Le Divan Orange, en Anglais, merci. Hundreds of fans jammed their puffy coats in various corners. Even though Canadian liquor stores were on strike and the cigarette packs featured vivid portraits of diseased lungs, people were consuming both like recently escaped convicts. The bands shouted into the din, and the audience - mostly - listened. Dan Seligman, creative director of Pop Montreal, a four-year-old festival, suggested it was just another night in the city that cannot get enough of its musicians. "We are a minority within a minority in Quebec," he said. "Living inside a French bubble, the music is very important to the kids here."

Despite its countercultural vibe, Montreal's Anglophone music explosion enjoys government support. Through an agency called Factor - the Foundation to Assist Canadian Talent on Records - the government finances demos, videos and tours. Government-sponsored rock may sound like an oxymoron, but the Dears, the Stars and the Unicorns have applied for and received Factor funds. That kind of protective oversight, oddly juxtaposed with a punk rock, do-it-yourself ethic, makes Montreal a nice place for a young person with a guitar to land.

In fact, most of the city's rock clubs on the Plateau, a historically immigrant neighborhood north of Sherbrooke, are filled with the work of artists - the tax credit given to gallery space does not hurt - and many of the people who play bass or spin records also paint. "The Plateau is a little breeding ground," said Gene Pendon, a founder of the Heavyweight Art Installation, an artistic collaborative that paints pictures on the spot for various festivals and shows.

Of course, painter-bassist-performance artists don't earn much, but in Montreal, they don't need to, according to Daniel Webster, a local producer for more than 20 years who runs two clubs and a production company, and something of a godfather to the alternative rock scene. "You can get by on very little here and put a lot into making your art," Mr. Webster said. And he said the conflict over language is overblown: "It is our little secret that there really ended up being no insurrection here," he said. "It's been peace, love and Jack Frost."

It helps that most musicians could care less about "making it" in the traditional sense. In fact, rather than lunging for a lavish advance, many of Montreal's most successful bands seem to resist the trappings of big industry. Consider the case of what may be Montreal's seminal musical success: GodSpeed You! Black Emperor, a dark-sounding, orchestral rock collective that has used its success to finance several local clubs and a record label. The band first emerged out of lofts and small bars, and despite a third record that sold 70,000 copies in the United States, they still have no major label contract, no management and no press agent. What the band does have is custody of their career.

Efrim Menuck, a band member, suggested that Godspeed had achieved success in part because they kept their goals realistic.

"We are still paying the rent doing this silly music thing," he said. "With all this attention, I worry for the bands. Someone who nails it right out of the gate and gets all of this attention, well, I rack my brain and I still can't think of a happy end to that story."

Howard Bilerman, a former drummer for Arcade Fire, an engineer and the overseer of Hotel 2 Tango, a recording space owned by members of GodSpeed You! Black Emperor, is similarly unimpressed by the current attentiveness of the American marketplace - including an article in the February issue of Spin magazine that described the Montreal scene as "officially cool." "What is going on here will continue to go on long after the attention has gone elsewhere," he says. "Giving back is an important part of cultural life here. History has shown that if you don't participate in the big music industry, you will have a much longer musical career."

And if you do, you may have a much shorter local career. Take the case of the Stills, alt-rock darlings who moved to New York for a stint and toured with the Yeah, Yeah, Yeahs, all of which earned them great American reviews, 83,000 American album sales and the enmity of their old, hometown fans.

On a recent Wednesday, they were in the midst of working on their next album in a rehearsal space they share with Sam Roberts - the Dears practice down the hall - in a massive industrial building that once served as the North American headquarters of manufacturing for RCA. The band is clearly enjoying making a new record and find quite a bit of humor in their current reputation as sellouts. "It's not like we went gold or anything," said Oliver Crowe, the bassist. "This city is renowned for its leftist politics. Any kind of success is going to be a problem."

Dave Hamelin, the guitarist, says he is proud that in a local newspaper poll, the Stills dethroned Godspeed as "most pretentious local act." On their last album, "Logic Will Break Your Heart," the band addresses their artistic and financial ambition on "Of Montreal:" with a lyric that suggests, "Friends getting old, We all dig for gold, the crumbs and pieces."

Meanwhile, Montreal has become such a cultural magnet that some Americans are relocating there. "We are a five hour drive from New York, and most of the flights are about $150," said Jon Berry, owner of Regenerate Industries, a public relations firm that works with various dance and electronic acts in Montreal, including Les George Lenigrad. "From a cultural and economic perspective, it makes perfect sense. It is a cheap place to do business and to live."

Mr. Berry, who is from Vancouver, visited Seattle often when it broke through to national prominence, had a taste of Austin when it was bubbling, and says that the current rage in Montreal carries some of the same energy. "Up until a few years ago, bands were skipping Montreal," he said, sitting at Laika, an industrial-feeling lunch spot/club on St. Laurent, where people were dining on pastries and cigarettes. "But then shows started taking off in the lofts, and suddenly you have a big neighborhood full of people interested in music. It's like Williamsburg, but it hasn't been gentrified."

Jeff Waye is the player/coach of the Ninja Tunes Deadly Karate Chops, the hockey team of the North American division of Ninja Tune Records, a dance music label. It sounds like a caricature of Canadian life, but it is one of 25 coed teams, composed of music industry types, that compete every year for the Exclaim! Cup, an oddly shaped but coveted totem of excellence. In an interview before heading to practice, he agreed that Montreal was a paradise for indie musicians and the small labels that sell them.

"You can argue that the push and pull of the two cultures have created something more dynamic than the rest of Canada," said Mr. Waye, who describes his own French as awful. "But I think it's more simple than that. When I moved here in 1991, I was living in a nine-and-a-half room apartment with two other people, and I was paying $175 a month. All of the money left, and all of the art stayed."

THE PLACES

Clubs


Casa Del Popolo (4873 Boulevard St. Laurent), La Sala Rosa (4848 St. Laurent) and El Salon (4388 St. Laurent) These clubs form the hub of the Montreal music scene, and are favorites of bands like Stars and the Dears.


Barfly (4062A St. Laurent) Every band cuts their teeth here, and it is still a meeting place for acts like the Stills and Starvin' Hungry. Capacity is only 65, and if you want to use the bathroom, prepare to ask the bass player to step aside.


L'Hemisphere Gauche (221 Beaubien E) Underground rock 'n' roll and pop.


Cafe Chaos (2035 St. Denis, Web site: www.cafechaos.qc.ca (http://www.cafechaos.qc.ca)) This co-op run club hosts bands that do justice to itsname.


O Patro Vys (356 Mount-Royal East, Web site: www.opatrovys.com (http://www.opatrovys.com)) Experimental music, not for the uninitiated.


Le Divan Orange (4234 St. Laurent) The bimonthly Mandatory Moustache nights have been packing the house.


The Underground


Much of the best music in Montreal is played in dank warehouses and abandoned office spaces. Visitors may find them hard to access, but they can start by checking www.montrealshows.com. (http://www.montrealshows.com.)


Fort Moshington (2106 Bleury) This is the fan-turned-promoter Aaron St. Laurent's living room. Capacity is 50 people, and leave your shoes at the door.


The Electric Tractor (6674 L'Esplanade) One of the most popular warehouses. Bands like the Gossip, Buried Inside, and Les Georges Leningrad have played here. A warning: pesky neighbors sometimes shut down performances.


Cryochamber (1180 St. Antoine, Suite 315) Perhaps Montreal's least conventional music spot. Last weekend, it sponsored a chili cook-off, treating fans of the band Crime Moth to $2 portions, provided they brought their own bowls.


Le Local (7159 St. Urbain) A new after-hours clubs, and home to bands like Lesbians On Ecstasy and Pony Up.
JOHNSON CUMMINS

THE BANDS

There has long been an incredible French-inflected music scene in Montreal. And let us further stipulate that there is a ferocious and vital industrial/dance scene. But right now, the dominant Montreal sound is a majestic kind of Anglo rock.

GodSpeed You! Black Emperor is instrumental to the scene and to the core, making baroque mood-rock that almost swings. The Arcade Fire makes American critics go all damp and sparkly. Whenever they show up, people mention the Talking Heads.

The Dears, both dismissed and praised as twee rockers, are smart boys and girls who mix dreamy, dancey instrumentation with wan, literate vocals. The Stills, the band their hometown loves to hate, plays guitar-driven, energetically sad songs. Their non-ode to songstress Alison Krauss is a classic.

The Unicorns are reportedly on hiatus - O.K., broken up - but you could do less well than to buy, their CD, "Who Will Cut Our Hair When We're Gone?" Sam Roberts, one of the few basement/loft acts to gain genuine mainstream acceptance, is the Canadian answer to Wilco.


Les Georges Leningrad is not a threat to end up in heavy rotation on radio stations, unless the signal is coming from another dimension. Their beats are prominent, their screeching more so, but they are extremely charming performers. Wolf Parade produces heavily synthesized art rock, but with catchy choruses. The Stars are the local favorites and unreconstructed romanticists. Pony Up! seems to be composed of five of Liz Phair's little sisters. If you like your girl-rock crunchier, do not forget that Melissa Auf der Maur introduced all her shows on her last tour by proudly announcing she was from Montreal.
DAVID CARR

Bazzle
02-06-2005, 12:55 PM
Geez, if I wanted to read a newspaper I could have bought one.

And FYI, Montreal has had a thriving and very successful music scene and biz for as long as I can remember, and that is a long,long time.

K.B.
02-06-2005, 01:18 PM
I thought I could get someone else to read it and tell me the best bits.

Bazzle
02-06-2005, 01:34 PM
I think what you see there, is a case of 'bandwagon jumping' it will probably be the death knell for Montreal's music scene.

Cliffy_Boy
02-06-2005, 02:01 PM
heheheheheheheheheheheh

K.B.
02-06-2005, 02:35 PM
I thought so too.

lemix
02-06-2005, 03:11 PM
Sorry Gents...just what exactly are we talking about here ??
Care to condense the comatose yapping into an easier to understand form ??
Geez...some people ,

ta-ta,

Stiff
02-06-2005, 03:57 PM
Uh-oh... All canadians in one place

Just wanted to say "hi" to Cliffy... Hi Stiffy_Boy! It's been a while...

lemix
02-06-2005, 04:44 PM
Uh-oh... All canadians in one place

...

Tell this to Bata..
cheers,

K.B.
02-06-2005, 05:30 PM
Has anybody actually read that article yet? Can you tell me what's in it?

Stiff
02-06-2005, 05:48 PM
Karel, all canadians are in the same thread

I haven't read it, it's too long for me and my whiskey.

K.B.
02-06-2005, 06:29 PM
Bruce isn't here. Nor is that miner from Ontario, xnorfin.

But you are.

lemix
02-06-2005, 08:59 PM
Bruce isn't here. Nor is that miner from Ontario, xnorfin.
But you are.




Hmm...what do they (we??) mine for in ON ...?
LZ

Roy Howell
02-06-2005, 09:01 PM
Now, you guys have me chuckling here...and no one has even read the article yet...

Roy Howell
02-06-2005, 09:26 PM
Geez, if I wanted to read a newspaper I could have bought one.

Stiff
02-07-2005, 04:46 AM
Hi Roy, could you please read it for us?

Bazzle
02-07-2005, 08:49 AM
Hmm...what do they (we??) mine for in ON ...?
LZ



Man you have got to get a grip..Ontario has a huge mining industry..I would think that every concievable type of ore is mined in Ontario..Have you never been to Sudbury?

Roy Howell
02-07-2005, 09:44 AM
Hi Roy, could you please read it for us?




OK Stiff...but, I'll need a few days...maybe a week.

yOkO
02-07-2005, 09:53 AM
maybe if mr. bata would make us a resume,
after all, he brought the articule.

Bazzle
02-07-2005, 10:07 AM
Hi Roy, could you please read it for us?




OK Stiff...but, I'll need a few days...maybe a week.






By the time you finish reading it,most of the bands mentioned, will be broken up, and ancient history.

lemix
02-07-2005, 10:11 AM
Have you never been to Sudbury?


Let me think ................nope. Why ?

cheers Baz,

lemix
02-07-2005, 10:14 AM
You guys know what that article was about ?

Stiff
02-07-2005, 01:07 PM
By the time you finish reading it,most of the bands mentioned, will be broken up, and ancient history.

K.B.
02-07-2005, 01:12 PM
Oh my god - what have I begun?

Stiff
02-07-2005, 01:21 PM
Only God knows... Would you like to tell us what the article says?

Roy Howell
02-07-2005, 01:34 PM
Oh my god - what have I begun?

Chris Cavell
02-07-2005, 03:08 PM
Don't read it. It isn't worth your effort. Someone really needs their journalism degree from "Verbose Idiocy U" revoked.

Some of it's claims are a bit on the funny side if you don't take it seriously...for instance, the three ingredients for a city to become the next "Seattle":
1. Kid's who don't give a damn
2. Bad weather
3. a poor real-estate market

This idiot author is trying to claim that Montreal is one of the best cities in the world...particularly for music (i have no problem with that...it may very well be), but citing the three aforementioned distinctive properties of the city hardly supports the author's case.

It also happens to be loaded with conflicting statistics, the sources are never cited, and are presented in such a way as to support an argument in as incongruous a way as possible. If I pulled the language statistics the author uses out and posted them seperately for you...you would very well draw the conclusion that the overwhelming majority (>90%) of the population in Montreal is geriatric old-timers that speak only french and no other languages and be completely in line with the statistics the author chose to use out of context to support her claim that the city is quite possibly the best place on the entire planet for talented youthful cutting edge artist-wanna-be's. Do you see as many contradictions in logic as I have? Please, do yourself a favor and DON'T read it.

Thanks Karel. You just ruined my day. (jk karel)

Two thumbs down from the peanut gallery.

Stiff
02-07-2005, 03:11 PM
Thanks for sharing Chris

K.B.
02-07-2005, 03:21 PM
So maybe no-one at the New York Times bothered reading it too?

"what's this stuff? Music in Montreal?"
"We gotta think about demographics. And we got readers over there too."
"In Canada?"
"Apparently so."
"Hmm... Hell, who gives a sh*t? You read this stuff?"
"Uh..."
"Never mind. No-one else will. Print it."

Chris Cavell
02-07-2005, 03:40 PM
So maybe no-one at the New York Times bothered reading it too?

"what's this stuff? Music in Montreal?"
"We gotta think about demographics. And we got readers over there too."
"In Canada?"
"Apparently so."
"Hmm... Hell, who gives a sh*t? You read this stuff?"
"Uh..."
"Never mind. No-one else will. Print it."





Next week..."we deeply apologize for letting our interns run things last week..."

K.B.
02-07-2005, 04:04 PM
Later, in the Rolling Stone office:

"have you seen this sir?"
"Something new?"
"Yeah. And look - it's in the New York Times!"
"Sh*t! How did they get that? Don't tell me you read this junk? Becky! Who's our man in Montreal?"
"Uh, where sir?"
"In.. Bob, where's Montreal?"
"Canada sir."
"You're kidding. Becky, we got anybody in Canada?"
"Uh, can I get back to you on that sir?"
Furious, he picks up the phone "Hold the front page!"


Cue Baz...

K.B.
02-07-2005, 04:24 PM
Scene: Montreal airport. Two intrepid music journalists exit the customs area.

"Hey, this don't look so bad. They got an airport."
"They sure look normal"
"And cars, and roads, and sh*t like that."
"And look - a Starbucks." They both stop and stare at this, stunned." Does this mean we didn't need those hepatitus-B jabs after all? Hey, a chick."
"Excuse me miss..."
"Huh?"
"Um, we're from Rolling Stone."
"We need help. Try some french."
"Pardonnez us. Do you know of any uh.. musique? Clubs? Voulez vous any - uh - local action? Ca va?"
"Go f*ck yourself creep!"
"Oh..."

Bazzle
02-07-2005, 06:36 PM
Boy's don't be knocking Montreal..It is a world class and very cosmopolitan city..It is unlike any other in North America..

xnorfin
02-07-2005, 07:41 PM
Bruce isn't here. Nor is that miner from Ontario, xnorfin.

But you are.




Well I'm here now. I guess that's one of the downsides of being stuck 4000 feet below the surface of the earth, working the good ole nightshift. LOL

Bazzle, I actually live a half an hour North of Sudbury. While Nickel is what we're know for here, we do get tons of other metals along with the Nickel. Copper, Silver, Gold, Platinum, and Palladium to name a few.

Lemix, I can't believe that you live four hours away from Sudbury and have never been here. On second thought, yes I can...and you're not missing a heck of a lot. But seriously, Stompin Tom Connors - Sudbury Saturday Night, it's a classic!

As for the Montreal music scene, I spent a night in Montreal in October and had a chance to get down to Crescent Street to check out a bunch of different pubs, and I was impressed. Tons of talent, and tons of lovely ladies. I'm thinking about making another trip this summer.

Cliffy_Boy
02-07-2005, 08:05 PM
Tons of talent, and tons of lovely ladies. I'm thinking about making another trip this summer.


yup and yup.

lemix
02-07-2005, 08:41 PM
Scene: Montreal airport. Two intrepid music journalists exit the customs area.

"Hey, this don't look so bad. They got an airport."
"They sure look normal"
"And cars, and roads, and sh*t like that."
"And look - a Starbucks." They both stop and stare at this, stunned." Does this mean we didn't need those hepatitus-B jabs after all? Hey, a chick."
"Excuse me miss..."
"Huh?"
"Um, we're from Rolling Stone."
"We need help. Try some french."
"Pardonnez us. Do you know of any uh.. musique? Clubs? Voulez vous any - uh - local action? Ca va?"
"Go f*ck yourself creep!"
"Oh..."



Are you a movie man or something ??
Actually, should visit Montreal one day..A surprisingly cool little town...
LZ,

lemix
02-07-2005, 08:48 PM
Hey Dan,
On second though..I might have been there... Either on a drunken road trip with one of the bands, or my kids playing hockey.
BTW >>
But seriously, Stompin Tom Connors - Sudbury Saturday Night, it's a classic

He he ..the dude recorded most of his stuff at the studio I'm working out of this days. Friend of the owner, and a neighbour..

I do respect you for that underground thing...!!
take care,

K.B.
02-08-2005, 03:52 AM
I want to go to Montreal too!

Is Cliffy putting us all up then?

Seriously, we could have a DUC get-together.

Friend of mine who manages touring theatre companies says he always get laid when he goes to Montreal...

lemix
02-08-2005, 08:04 AM
he he ...start planning ! I'm cool with accommodation, but sure C_B could put you up.
Let's drum up some interest from other DUCies..New York state is pretty close.
As far as the getting laid part goes...You are visiting Prague again, aren't you ?

ta-ta