Results for Montreal

interviews

Arcade Fire

This week Jim and Greg are joined by Régine Chassagne and Win Butler of indie rock giants Arcade Fire. Arcade Fire, critically acclaimed for their debut album Funeral, are known for their rich, anthemic sound and diverse instrumentation. Neon Bible, their latest release featuring a military choir, Hungarian orchestra, pipe organ and a hurdy gurdy among other instruments, has been an overwhelming commercial success. Régine retraces her relationship with husband, Win Butler. They became musical collaborators after Win saw Regine playing medieval music in Montreal, and eventually the band became headliners for such major festivals as Coachella and Lollapalooza. After seeing Arcade Fire perform at a number of venues, both Jim and Greg agree that their live show is something truly special.

Jim and Greg discuss the band's music-making process. Win and Régine elaborate on the primacy of beat and rhythm to the Arcade Fire aesthetic. Just as their rhythms could be perceived as classic rock and roll, Régine confers with Win about the multicolored sound they strive to create with different instruments and orchestration. Jim and Greg discuss the meaning behind the religious themes and allusions in Neon Bible with Win and Régine; Win articulates the moral ambiguity of evangelism as a source of influence and inspiration for writing the album.

Go to episode 85

The Besnard Lakes

This week's guests are the members of Canadian indie rock group The Besnard Lakes. The band is one of many up and coming acts to come out of the Montreal rock scene, including recent guests Arcade Fire. Jace Lasek, Olga Goreas, Steve Raegele, Richard White and Kevin Laing came to town for a tour in support of their second album The Besnard Lakes are the Dark Horse. Jim and Greg first became fans after seeing the group perform at this year's SXSW Festival.

Husband and wife Jace and Olga are the primary songwriters in The Besnard Lakes. The pair met after Jace saw Olga playing bass, and immediately became smitten. The two moved to Montreal in 2003 to start a recording studio, and they didn‘t form The Besnard Lakes until after they put their first record together. Their name comes from Jace and Olga’s favorite spot for R&R: a lake in northern Saskatchewan. But, Jim and Greg wonder if the band has gotten enough vacation time in recent years; there are very dark themes running through the record — devastation, destruction — and Jace explains that he loves writing sad and emotional songs. You can hear three such songs during the course of the interview.

Go to episode 89

Arcade Fire

Arcade Fire has had quite a trajectory. First they were a group of anthemic art rockers from Montreal. Then they released Funeral, a successful first effort on Merge Records, followed by Neon Bible, which debuted at #2 on the Billboard Chart. They were invited to open for U2 and their latest release The Suburbs won the top prize at last year's Grammy Awards. Jim and Greg spoke to Régine Chassagne and Will Butler a couple of years ago, and now we've managed to fit all seven musicians into our studio for a memorable live performance. They also talk to Will and bandmate Richard Parry about the“shock and awe”of winning a Grammy, performing during the Wrigley Field seventh inning stretch and why folks still wonder, "Who the F is Arcade Fire?"

Go to episode 290

Handsome Furs

Sound Opinions continues its run with husband and wife duos. We've had Low, Damon & Naomi and now Handsome Furs. The Montreal electro-pop act consists of Wolf Parade guitarist Dan Boeckner and his wife Alexei Perry. As they explain, the musical pairing came out of necessity more than anything. They just had no space to do their own solo projects. Now they're on their third album called Sound Kapital, which was inspired by Dan and Alexei's travels to Eastern Europe and Asia. There they discovered a vital underground music scene and a new brand of protest music. Those sounds and messages informed the tracks on Sound Kapital. Check out video of Handsome Furs live in the studio.

Go to episode 304

She-Devils

A few weeks ago, Jim and Greg selected their best of 2017 and #6 on Greg's list was the Montreal based duo She-Devils. They first saw first the band at the South By Southwest festival this year and were amazed. According to Jim, even with just two people they create a deep and layered sound. Kyle Jukka provides the instrumentation using sampling equipment and Audrey Ann Boucher is on vocals. She-Devils recently stopped by our studios to talk with the hosts and to perform music from their self-titled debut album.

Go to episode 607
genre dissections

Post-Rock

With Tortoise joining them in the studio this week, Jim and Greg take a moment to give a primer on the post-rock movement. Like virtually all genre labels,“post-rock”is a term rejected by most of the artists associated with it. It generally refers to a set of mostly instrumental bands in the 1990s who used non-traditional instrumentation and a collage-like approach to blending genres. Jim and Greg trace the origins of the movement to German krautrock, experimental '60s jazz-rock bands, and dub reggae. There were major post-rock acts across the globe, including in the UK (Stereolab), Montreal (Godspeed You! Black Emperor), and especially in Chicago. From Tortoise to Gastr Del Sol to The Denison/Kimball Trio, Chicago's scene fostered an eclectic experimentation with styles.

Go to episode 557
reviews
Expo 86Expo 86 available on iTunes

Wolf Parade Expo 86

Montreal quartet Wolf Parade also released an album this week called Expo 86. Jim was a skeptic with the first couple of albums, but he hears a big step forward in the songwriting. The melodies are better than ever, and there's not as much“lo-fi clatter.”He gives Expo 86 an enthusiastic Buy It. Of our two hosts, Greg was actually a Wolf Parade fan. But the dynamic contrasts that songwriters Spencer Krug and Dan Boeckner brought to the table last time around are less evident. Greg calls the sound more cohesive, but because of that, blander. He gives Wolf Parade a Try It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 240
Until in Excess, Imperceptible UFOUntil in Excess, Imperceptible UFO available on iTunes

The Besnard Lakes Until in Excess, Imperceptible UFO

Greg counts the 2nd and 3rd releases by The Besnard Lakes (who visited Sound Opinions in 2007) as two of the best of the last decade. How does the Montreal quartet fare on the 4th album? Well, according to Jim, the key words of the record's title Until in Excess, Imperceptible UFO are“excess”and“imperceptible.”He is happy to hear more of Olga Goreas‘ singing, but the melodies just aren’t that strong. Jim says Burn It. Greg agrees that this album isn't as strong as its predecessors, but it has its own rewards as well. The Besnard Lakes bring slow, dreamy "shoegaze meets Beach Boys." Greg says go Buy It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 387
Everything NowEverything Now available on iTunes

Arcade Fire Everything Now

Arcade Fire has risen from indie rock obscurity in Montreal to become a major label, Grammy-winning, arena-level band. But Jim and Greg are not sold on Everything Now, their fifth studio album. While Jim says there has always been intellectual substance and an emotional core behind their big sound, he calls this the most ordinary collection of songs the band has given us. There are some tracks he loves and he appreciates that they are showing a sense of humor. But he finds this album not as ambitious musically – they all sound like imitations of ABBA songs, and not always with success. Greg somes up the album as“meh.”He calls it a second-rate disco record that fails to get him on the dance floor. There are some great pop moments, but not enough musical inspiration. Everything Now is a double-Try It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 609
Neon Bible

The Arcade Fire Neon Bible

The Arcade Fire returns this week with Neon Bible, one of the most highly anticipated albums of the year so far. The Montreal band is one of indie rock's biggest success stories in recent years, having sold over half a million copies of their debut album, Funeral. In fact, they're the number one selling artists in the history of North Carolina indie label, Merge Records. The band is known for their epic sound, amazing live performances, and dramatic, dark themes. Funeral's songs were written about the deaths of nine friends and family members. So, it's hard to imagine they could get any darker with this release. But, with Neon Bible, frontman Win Butler expanded his themes to cover religion, war, and the state of his native country. For Jim, this took some getting used to, but after a few listens he grew to really enjoy it — well, half of it. He counts six rhythmic tracks worth listening to, but names five songs that just sink the whole album. Therefore he gives it a Burn It. Greg agrees that this record does not do the band justice. He doesn't think the songwriting is strong enough, but highly recommends listeners see the Arcade Fire live. He also gives Neon Bible a Burn It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 66
rock doctors

Jessica

Once again, it's time for the Rock Doctors to put on their white coats and stethoscopes. During this appointment, Jim and Greg attempt to treat a fast spreading musical virus. Their patient is Jessica from Montreal. Jessica comes to the Rock Doctors Clinic with a bad case of“musical mailase, lyric lethargy, and beat fatigue.”Jessica has become uninterested in the rock music of today, which she perceives as redundant and insincere. The doctors' job is to help her reignite her passion for her favorite genre.

Jessica is well-versed in rock music, and spends a good amount of time listening to independent radio station WFMU with her husband, a rock DJ. Jessica loves rock music's focus on instrumentation, and her favorite album of 2014 was Brand New Day by The Ugly Beats, a young garage rock band out of Texas.

Greg's prescription is the album MCII from San Francisco multi-instrumentalist Mikal Cronin, while Jim recommends the album Slow Gum from Australian singer-songwriter Fraser A. Gorman. During their follow-up appointment, Jessica shares that she really enjoyed both records. She appreciates the balance of honest, personal lyrics with dynamic instrumentation, and found that both artists avoided the musical cliches that once plagued her. Greg and Jim decide that Jessica's knowledge of rock music would make her quite the rock critic.

Do you need to see the Rock Doctors? Or know someone who does? Fill out new patient form and send to interact@soundopinions.org.

Go to episode 508

Rachel

Next up Drs. Kot and DeRogatis call another patient in from the waiting room. Rachel from Chicago, IL describes her musical symptoms as that of being stuck in a rut. She explains that she hasn't purchased any music in the past few years, and only listens to albums or mixes that her friends give her. Rachel is eager to improve her musical health though, and is willing to take her medicine — however bad it tastes. In order to steer Jim and Greg in the right direction, Rachel gives her medical/musical history . She counts U2 (during the Joshua Tree-era) and Tom Petty as two of her favorite artists, and explains that she really appreciates melody and lyrics in her music.

Dr. Jim gives the first prescription. He clues into Rachel's heartland rock leanings, but also wants to challenge her more. He decides to give the patient a dose of Wilco. Like '80s-era U2 and Tom Petty, Jeff Tweedy and the members of Wilco are strongly influenced by guitar-based American folk and rock. There is a strong emphasis on lyrics and on telling stories of the American condition. But like U2, who chose to work with avant-garde producer Brian Eno on The Joshua Tree, Wilco can also be very experimental. Jim finds this is especially true of their last album A Ghost is Born.

Dr. Greg is up next. He suspects that one of the things Rachel likes so much about her favorite music is how anthemic it is. Both Bono and Petty are strong frontmen that get a rise out of their audiences. He believes this is also the case with the music of Montreal band The Arcade Fire. In fact, U2 opened up their last tour with a performance of the song "Wake Up" off their debut album Funeral. Again, the Arcade Fire might be a little more stylized than what Rachel is used to, but Greg hopes she will appreciate their epic sound.

A week later, the patient returns. Rachel relays that she is feeling a bit better, but is not totally cured. She realized that some of the Wilco and Arcade Fire songs were actually already in her iTunes collection without her even knowing it. Rachel enjoyed both albums, but not completely from beginning to end. She liked the more anthemic songs on Funeral like "Rebellion (Lies)" and "Crown of Love," but found some of the tracks a little noisy. However nothing was as noisy as Wilco's 15-minute experimental jam "Less Than You Think." But, even Jim and Greg agree that it's OK to skip past that“test”to more traditional pop/rock compositions like "Theologians" and "The Late Greats." Rachel doesn‘t think she’s replaced her favorite standards, but looks forward to keeping up with these two bands and getting more new music like… The Shins (up next in the show).

Go to episode 61
world tours

Canada

Justin Bieber

Every once in a while, Jim and Greg embark on the Sound Opinions World Tour and explore the music of another country. This week felt like a fine time to turn to our neighbor to the north and look at the music coming out of Canada today. As their guide, they're joined by music critic Ben Rayner of the the Toronto Star. Ben takes them from Montreal's experimental/electronic scene to the noise-pop of Halifax to the country's growing hip-hop culture. He also explains how the government supports pop music via grants and the "Cancon" regulations requiring broadcasters to air a certain amount of Canadian music. Ben also recommends two up-and-coming Canadian artists: Inuk throat singer Tanya Tagaq and Acadian folk-rocker Lisa LeBlanc.

Jim and Greg also dig through the Sound Opinions archives and share their favorite performances and interviews from Canadian artists, including a stripped down song from Montreal's Arcade Fire, a conversation with Toronto's Feist from early in her career, and a performance from the Vancouver supergroup The New Pornographers. Plus, they revisit their conversation with the most Canadian of all bands: Rush.

Go to episode 572