screams, whispers and songs from planet earth

Tag: Montreal

CHANCES takes us on a modern journey to the Himalayas


Rishikesh is a city nestled in the Himalayan foothills of northern India, known as the “Yoga Capital of the World.” It is one of the holiest places for Hindus, visited by saints and sages since ancient times as a place to meditate in search of higher knowledge. “Rishikesh” is also the latest single from CHANCES, a Montreal trio that blends indie-pop, a touch of electro and distinctly Indian melodies. To listen to their hypnotic music is to take a pilgrimmage to the Himalayas in a high-powered spaceship.

This clever animated video, a Nintendo and ancient India mashup, is by Philippe Blain. As for the inspiration behind the song:

It’s about choice and intention. The intention to trust your instinct, and to align action with thought. The song’s driving rhythm continually pushes forward, the vocals play off each other in a sort of call and response, the synths spark up a colourful chaos. All of that is built around a loop of voices recorded on iPhone on the banks of the Ganges in the holy city of Rishikesh, India.

The Ganges River and an iPhone. A mysterious, ancient culture and our curious, technological future meet at a strange crossroads, centering around the human experience and the human voice. The repeated refrain “How you gonna decide, how you gonna choose?” suggests a crossroads and a quandry. What to do? The musical meditation — part dance track, part Hindu mantra — advises the listener to “say what you mean, mean what you do” and to move “out of the fog, into the flow.” It’s good advice.


It’s tempting to say that this band came together just last year in Montreal by chance, though their fruitful collaboration was more likely fated. Connecting old and new, Chloé Lacasse and Geneviève Toupin, singer songwriters and pianists, plus drummer Vincent Carré, have created something magical. The unique blend of cultures and influences in their music likely arises from the English, French-Canadian and Metis backgrounds of the trio. Their first two singles, “Shine” and “Leave the Light On,” were released earlier this year.

As the Hindus’ sacred elephant Ganesha disappears into the mist, CHANCES leaves us with these words of wisdom:

Trust the flow.

Don’t think about the odds.

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::: BUY or LISTEN TO Rishikesh :::

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Introducing… Ought, from Montreal

Although I’m now listening to Montreal’s Ought late at night, you might want to check in with them first thing in the morning, along with your glass of orange juice, cup of black coffee or energy shake. These guys are interesting and edgy, something to get the blood circulating. They just released their sophomore album, Sun Coming Down (on Constellation, Sept. 18) with the noisy and rambunctious lead single “Men For Miles.”

A driving beat, alternately melodic then crazed guitars and an intense, slightly unhinged, expressive and poetic lead vocalist makes for a punk-inspired yet theatrical presentation. It’s a nice mix with unexpected depth and surprises in the lyrics. Damn, these guys are good.

This is their follow-up album to their debut More Than Any Other Day in 2014. At that time, Pitchfork awarded them with their ‘Best New Music’ blessing (but we won’t hold that against them). After touring most of 2014, the band wrote the new album at the beginning of the year and recorded at The Hotel2Tango in the spring. Ought is Tim Darcy (previously Tim Beeler) on vocals and guitar, Tim Keen on drums, Matt May on keyboards and Ben Stidworthy on bass.

They’re currently in the middle of their North American Fall Tour. Yes, I’m a bad blogger for missing their East Coast dates, but if you’re on the West Coast, check them out, and if you’re not, buy their music!

You really need to see the visuals to get the full appreciation of Ought, so here’s their official video for “New Calm, Pt. 2,” released about a year ago.

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Introducing… Fire/Works

Photo by le Petit Russe

Photo by le Petit Russe

I’m not sure if it’s the law of attraction or just a series of happy accidents, but I’ve recently come across a number of acoustic-folk-electronica hybrids lately that have blown me away. The latest in this delightful trend is Fire/Works, a duo from Montreal, and their lovely song “Elephants.” Acoustic guitar and what sounds like a herd of electronic elephants traipsing across the wilds are joined by gentle harmonizing, folklore-flavored storytelling that unveils a magical tale, celebratory accordion and propelling percussion. This then leads into a full-on whimsical, enchanting and slightly edgy woodland extravaganza. “Anything can happen in the forest.” Indeed.

Fire/Works is Jonathan Peters and David Lagacé with a cornucopia of acoustic instruments and exotic sounds. Appropriately, this partnership had its beginnings in a remote cabin in the woods. Their name arose naturally from the heady combination of an open camp fire, fresh air, creativity and beer. Their musical influences include Bon Iver, Timber Timbre, Radiohead and Feist. Their debut 5-track EP was released in 2011. There was the full length Grand Voyageur in 2012 and the follow-up, Shenanigans, in 2014. If you like what you hear, you can buy it on iTunes. They have a show coming up at Divan Orange in Montreal on June 14.

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Introducing… Elliot Maginot

Moody and wistful are descriptors that come to mind upon listening to Montreal native Elliot Maginot’s “Monsters At War,” the first single off his debut album Young/Old/Everything.In.Between. Produced by Jace Lasek (Besnard Lakes, Suuns), it comes out February 10th on the Montreal label, Indica Records (Half Moon Run & Phantogram). He has a nice finger-picking style that blends with choral harmonies.

Beginning February 7, Elliot will be touring around Canada. See his site for the schedule. Meanwhile, you can preorder the album and get two free tracks, “Monsters At War” and “Survival.”

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Introducing… YouYourself&i

Here’s something from Montreal-based singer songwriter YouYourself&i (a.k.a. Daniel Gélinas). His most recent release was in February, Seasons Inside EP (August). His style is intimate, sometimes edgy, hyperliterate experimental minimalist folk. No, I don’t think that’s a wikipedia genre, but maybe it should be. He has several recordings available via Bandcamp, the first of which is Hole In Net, from 2009.

YouYourself&i will be performing in Buffalo New York at Ashker’s Juice Bar on Thursday, March 13 at 9pm. If you’re in the area… (you know the drill).

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