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Reviews and Suggestions

The Grown-Up Kids: Get Up Kids Turn Comeback Kids with “There Are Rules”

Where were The Get Up Kids at the start of the millennium?  As a listener coming at their latest record, I heard a mash-up of sounds one wouldn’t immediately associate with the band – electro, funk and post-punk are some that spring to mind. Graphically speaking, the cover is sophisticated. The image on the front of the LP is of a woman holding a mirror to her face, where the mirror reflects the ocean to the viewer: a Lacanian articulation of femininity and its evolving self-reflexivity through the play of the gaze. The viewer gazes at the woman, who in return gazes into open space and vast water.

The Get Up Kids came onto the scene in the ’90s wake of Pavement, Weezer and Green Day. After splitting up in 2005, the band reassembled and began touring extensively throughout most of 2008 and 2009, developing an underground community with other bands such as Rocket Fuel is the Key, Coalesce and Braid. Their latest record, There Are Rules, is a departure from Vagrant Records – the album was released on their own label at Quality Hill Records. Mixed by Bob Weston and produced by Ed Rose, the sound retains the band’s early nineties garage aesthetic while adding the liberties of technological editing. When the Get Up Kids graced the ’90s, critics initially referred to them as an “emo band” however, the kids have fought with such branding since their inception. While they were influential to the Midwest emo movement of the early ’90s, they play with genre more than they identify with it.

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Features

Love Above Par: Parlovr kick off Les Vendredis Nocturnes at Montreal’s Museum of Contemporary Art

Old East Coast nannies in Ralph Lauren sipping tea. Juxtapose that with loud hipsters, short shorts, Fender Strats and pedals. Now, imagine that as the graphic layout of a Parlovr set.

Self-pronounced “sloppy pop” indie punks Parlovr hosted the opening night of Les Vendredis Nocturnes this past Friday, September 3. Beginning in September, Montreal’s Museum of Contemporary Art (MACM) features musical productions alongside video footage and contemporary displays, with variations in performance, on the first Friday of each month. From September through December, Koudiam, Le Husky, and Courtney Wing will be playing similar shows as part of the series, so if you missed out on Parlovr, no need to throw up your arms in nostalgia.

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Features

Shapes and Sizes: Out of Victoria’s “velvet rut”

Shapes and Sizes left quaint Victoria to settle into metropolitan Montreal. As the only Canadian band signed to Sufjan Stevens’ Asthmatic Kitty Records, Shapes and Sizes write layered progressions that jostle the listener outside of normative conceptions of genre. Caila Thompson-Harnett, Nathan Gage, Rory Seydel, and John Crellin led the way at Montreal’s Sala Rossa with new a-tonal progressions that demonstrated compositional complexity. The band played a number of tracks from their latest (third) record, “Candle to Your Eyes”, which abandons the formal aesthetics of both their self-titled release and “Split Lips, Winning Hips, A Shiner,” and opts for poetic explorations of love, memory, and mortality. Caila and I then got to chatting about parks, loneliness, and the “velvet rut” of Victoria.

Q: What is your day job?

A: I’m a housekeeper. I’m like a 1990s Mexican housekeeper working in Texas. That’s me. In Montreal.

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Artists and Bands

Conversations in astrobiology: Discovering (the unknown sides of) Au Revoir Simone

Au Revoir Simone hit the stage at Montreal’s La Sala Rossa on July 15th with songs from their latest record, “Still Night, Still Light”. The girls played a stellar show, performing such fan favorites as “Shadows”, “All or Nothing”, “Sad Song”, and “Anywhere You Looked” to a sold-out crowd. Consisting of Heather D’Angelo, Annie Hart, and Erika Forster, Au Revoir Simone play in a style derivative of dream pop (think Mercury Rev meets Bat For Lashes) that has garnished them street cred in Canada, America, Europe, and Japan (where they headlined their own tour in 2009.) The all-girl keyboard trio are embarking on a European escapade shortly, with August dates scheduled in Paris, Zurich, Oslo, Stockholm, and Copenhagen.

I arrived early and waited for the girls to pull over on St. Laurent Boulevard after a long drive from Toronto’s dreaded 401. Their van looked as if it had come right out of the ’70s; painted stale yellow, but with plenty of room to accommodate the gear. Sala Rossa was a fitting venue for their psychedelic sound with its red lights and gothic chandeliers. The girls have come a long way from Williamsburg, Brooklyn, working on collaborative projects with David Lynch and sharing the stage with the likes of AIR, Camera Obscura, and Ladytron, among other notable acts.

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Reviews and Suggestions

CD Review: The City Streets “The Jazz Age”

When I texted a friend of mine to ask  if she had ever heard of The City Streets she replied, “Haha, I listened to them once by accident while searching for The Streets.”  I love being exposed to new acts that come all the way from the Prairies and sing about the tragedies that befall individuals in modern urban spaces, but let’s face it: we have all heard songs about drinking away your sorrows, driving around, and complaining about bourgeois tragedies. Dingy “punk rock bars” are not about “teenage war.” Read the Manifesto. Punk is supposed to be political. See the Dead Kennedys.

When F. Scott Fitzgerald coined the phrase “The Jazz Age” in the roaring twenties, he wasn’t referring to what these guys have in mind. The City Streets are a young band that vacillate freely between the genres of post-punk revival, indie, and emo without an established aesthetic. Their sound is more Vans Warped Tour than Osheaga.

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Reviews and Suggestions

Concert Review: Wolf Parade at Le National, Montreal

Wolf Parade performed the first show of their international tour at Montreal’s Le National on July 8th and what better way to start a set of gigs than by performing back-to-back shows in a hometown venue? When these guys jam, they do their band name justice. I kid you not, they all resemble wolves engaging their instruments in passion, angst, and fun.

A little background on the wolves: Dan Boeckner, Dante DeCaro, Spencer Krug, and Arlen Thompson have participated in successful indie projects including Frog Eyes, Sunset Rubdown, Hot Hot Heat, and Handsome Furs. Wolf Parade’s first full-length album, “Apologies to the Queen Mary,” got a Polaris nomination back in 2006 and after the success of their first LP, the band released 2008’s “At Mount Zoomer” under Sub Pop. Spencer Krug’s lyrics follow from the aesthetic of Patty Smith, whose “rock poetry” appropriated fragments of symbolist writing to construct indeterminate sequences of metaphor and meaning.