It’s back and it’s bad (in the good ’80s way, of course). M for Montreal opens tonight, and judging by the sound of the lineup, it’s everything we’ve come to trust from Montreal’s greatest local pop-rock cavalcade. Familiar faces and newcomers both excite. I have fond memories of seeing Solar Year back in 2010 and it’s cool to see their stars still rising; they’re in the mix with Majical Cloudz, Black Atlas and numerous others purveying minor-key musings with frosty dance beats in that distinctive Montreal sound.
Gratifying, M for Montreal features a whole host of unusual, wonderful choices, all of them offering sounds you’ll never hear in any other town. Fierce First Nations hip-hoppers A Tribe Called Red, the lush urban lackadaisicality of Heart Streets, and the reverb-washed dream-pop-sludge-rock of Valleys, and so much more.
Culture clashes bring forth great creative fruits and nowhere is that more true than M for Montreal. Tonight’s proof? Supporting their second LP Uzu, (dropping this week, incidentally) Montreal’s own Yamantaka // Sonic Titan is going to slay at La Salla Rossa. Yes, that’s a prediction as sure as the next sunrise. Y//ST are known for theatrical, bombastic stage shows, complementing foreboding but high-energy experimental rock inspired by ’70s metal, ’80s post-rock and a dozen different cultures. The femme-fronted outfit play their Asian heritage and influence for maximum goth-geisha theatricality, even branding themselves “Noh-wave”, which is as close as you’re gonna get to a genre label. And soundwise, they exceed their image. As wildly talented originals, they’d be equally at home opening for Enya, trading occult riffs with Sweden’s Ghost or basement bong hits with Japan’s Sigh. In short, give these ladies all your money.
Who better to accompany these oddballs than Murray Lightburn, who’s let his freak flag fly with his own bizarre solo album this year? We’ve covered Mr. Lightburn’s act before, and we’ve got no reason to believe his next appearance is going to be anything less than amazing. Mass:Light, Lightburn’s 2013 LP, is a hook-packed mini-masterpiece that gets regular play around here, and he’s never less than riveting in his live presentation. As The Dears‘ charismatic frontman, he’s graced M for Montreal numerous times already, but this is his first solo show for the fest. Enjoy it!