Thursday, September 30, 2010

Matt Stern

It's been ages, yes I know, AGES, since I posted on here. Have I been completely out of Montreal's cultural loop? Not really. I've mostly seen shows of bands I've written about before -- Braids, Caribou, the Winter Gloves, etc. So, it seemed redundant to reiterate how much I enjoy these bands yet again. All I can say is that you, dear reader, should check them out if you haven't already. Other than that, it is true... I haven't been out and about as much as in the old days, which means I have less to write about. So, if I'm a bit less frequent in my postings, you'll have to forgive me and enjoy what I do manage to share.

Luckily, today is a good one.

I've always loved male singer-songwriters, starting with Martin Sexton. John Mayer's first album (I haven't heard anything else by him since)? Yes, please. I'll pass on Jack Johnson though. I find him boring beyond the beyond. And I haven't the foggiest who James Blunt is, though my British boyfriend assures me he is horrid.

It was with great delight that I discovered Matt Stern, a local singer songwriter at La Sala Rossa. I knew nothing, except that this was a CD release and I'd get a free CD along with the the ticket purchase. Sala was not the usual Sala -- tables and chairs filled the room, and a shy but enthusiastic crowd sat on the ground about 10 feet from the stage. Did they know this guy? I'd never heard of him before and was surprised that so many people obviously had.

First up, the stage filled with a large entourage of backing musicians -- 3 female vocalists, a drummer, a bassist, a bongo player, and a computer operator. I was even more intrigued. They all had an air of professionality about them, something I hadn't seen in quite some time. I like indie music, and indie musicians don't exactly smell like coordinated, professional efforts. Most curious! Then, Stern came to the stage. Dashingly handsome with puppy eyes, crazy hair and a smile like a constellation, he is a tonic for sagging womens' libidos before he even opens his mouth. "A cute boy," I thought, "But can he sing?"

What do you think?

Oh could he sing. He had a beautiful voice, such perfect delivery. He couldn't have been more delightful. Every song had a some element that made it distinct, that made it likable... whether it was the lyrics or a melody. Although certainly in the singer-songwriter category, Stern certainly benefits from a world smorgasbord of influences: rhumba beats, reggae rhythms, a pinch of this, a splash of that. And even better, the music was gracefully contained. Songs never stretched on into egotistical lengths. The band shared in the spotlight. As if the performance were not enough, Stern had modern dance performances accompany two songs (and dare I say it, THEY were extremely gifted dancers as well). All in all, this was a bit of an extravaganza, one I never expected. And the level of professionalism... Yes, I would not be surprised if this is only the infancy of Mr. Matt Stern's music career. Keep your ear out for him.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

The Do and Braids at Sala Rossa

It's been ages since I've posted, but seems that the art scene of Montreal is in full swing and I've made it out to a few shows and whatnot lately. I'm always keen to promote a band I enjoy, in particular one that seems to be finding its feet. This time, I'm again giving a proper hoot to the band Braids, one of the best bands on the MOntreal scene as of late and one that I expect will have a brilliant future. This four piecer came to my attention at the last pop montreal and I've tried to catch every performance since. They tend to seam their songs together, so that the entire production is more an experience or an art form than a straight up concert. Somewhat difficult to describe, they are somewhere in the realm of electronica and indie psychedellica. Strong on vocals, innovative, seemingly passionate -- yes Braids delivers a most enjoyable concert experience.

As for headliners, the Do, I found them insipid and a bit silly. Fun, yes, but kind of not my thing. HIgh production values, of course, and helped along by their very engaging performance. Yes, they were cute to the point of twee, as one might expect from a French-Finlandish duo. But cute only carries me so far when I like things a little more layered and a bit less cloying. However, they seemed to please the audience beyond giddiness with their pop melange.