It’s a typical Montreal summer night, meaning I’m hanging out with the members of Lightbulb Alley behind a dumpster in the Mile End and we’ve got a 12-pack of Pabst Blue Ribbon, half gone.

Drummer Martin Barrette is going through a pile of shirts in his suitcase that has DYLAN and SONIC YOUTH written on it in Sharpie. Their guitar player and vocalist, Alexandre Ferrara, hasn’t shown up yet so to kill time, front man Allister Booth is improvising Irish tunes for me, something about pretty lasses and being drunk. They tell me they’ve been drinking since noon. I try to catch up.

“This isn’t going to be a walk in the park, is it,” Booth says. “More like a walk on the moon.”

The night may have ended in tragedy (we wound up at Rockette, as you do, watching the cool kids dry hump to a DJ’s version of 80’s pop) but it began at The Helm. Or, rather, the alleyway behind The Helm. And before we all got blind drunk and started running down the street, singing Irish tunes and picking up chicks, I had a chat with Lightbulb Alley about their label, their tunes, and the threesome they plan on having in Switzerland:

Caile Donaldson: Tell me your darkest secrets. Let’s go. Right now.

Allister Booth: My darkest secret is that I always wanted to be a banker and cut my hair.

Martin Barrette: When I was younger, I tried to have sex with my babysitter. But it was awkward because she was a friend of my mother’s.

Alexandre Ferrera: For me, I have fucked up dreams. All the time.

CD: What are you, a Pisces?

AF: No. A lion and a Cancer. Split.

CD: Cool. So who does what? What do you guys play?

AB: I play the tambourine and the triangle. And I tap dance. I’m one of the better triangle players in the country. I’ve won awards. My name is Allister.

MB: I play drums. And I want to sing, someday.

AF: I play guitar and I sing.

CD: Why Montreal? Why are you guys here making music, you know, as opposed to another city?

AB: Montreal is just another fork in the road. It’s a place where a lot of cool musicians are, and the women are cool too. You can’t deny that. Come on, everyone knows it.

CD: You two are from Montreal, right? (Barette and Ferrera. Booth hails from Yellowknife.)

AF: Yeah. [Montreal] is also a good place to play. You have a lot of venues.

AB: We play a lot of different places, a lot of nooks and crannies.

CD: What do you all love about being in Montreal then? What’s your favorite part?

AF: I think it’s the people.

AB: Yeah, the people are pretty rock n’ roll. Pretty happy to dance. It’s such a good feeling when you see people dancing and having a good time. It’s like a boomerang of energy.

MB: The cool thing about playing in Montreal is [that it is] a really European city. You have the style [of that] when you play [here]. People understand what you try to do, what kind of vibe you want to put into your show.

CD: What’s been the weirdest show you guys have ever played?

AB: Playhouse.

MB: Playhouse.

AF: Drugs.

AB: We were on psychedelics…It was a poison night.

CD: A poison night?

AB: The main manager of [Cabaret Playhouse] was like attacking us, trying to say we were fucked up. And I said, “No, you’re fucked up. We’re bringing people to your venue, and whether you wanna book us or not, fuck you.”

MB: Exactly.

CD: Okay, but what made it weird, just the fact that he was in your face?

AB: Everyone was dancing, everyone was having a good time, but we were out of tune, we were drunk, maybe something else…We just were having too good of a time.

AF: Strings broke, the amps were too loud…

AB: We were smashing the guitars…

MB: But people like us, so, you know…

CD: You guys play a lot of shows here in Montreal, I’ve noticed. Why?

AB: I think that generally a lot of people have a fear of playing too many shows, but we play a lot because we want to always be available to our fan base and we tend to not have that fear, which is a status quo. It’s like a rule for a lot of [bands] to only have a show a month, but we have a lot of fun and people come to our shows because it’s like a party. One friend told me that he comes to our shows because he always gets laid every time he comes.

CD: I know I get laid every time I come to your shows.

AB: Good.

CD: Do you guys spend a lot of time in the studio too, or does most of your time go into performances?

AB: We play more shows than we practice, but when we play, that is just like practice.

MB: That’s why we want to do so many shows: to get people that we don’t know [to come] and also to practice.

CD: Let’s talk about your label.

AB: Well, we have a record label in Montreal who we had our first album with, it’s called Ricochet Sound [and is] the same label that The Gruesomes [are signed to]; they’re one of the most popular garage punk bands in Canada. Period…kind of the coolest guys ever.

CD: Who is? You are the coolest or they are?

AB: Oh, we are. The Gruesomes are overrated. Ah, I’m just joking. But yeah, we have a record label in Nottingham, No Way Out Records, and…

CD: Wait, who are you signed with though?

AB: Ricochet Sound.

CD: How did that happen? Tell me about that.

AB: Originally, Ray Biffin [from Ricochet Sound] came down [to our show] and bought us a bunch of beer and one of our albums. He was really cool and he said, “I just wanna sign you guys.” This was at Crobar. It was like in the movies.

CD: How do you guys write songs? How does it work between you?

AF: First, it’s Allister that starts with the riff and the song, and I have my songs too, but we play more of Allister’s songs because he’s spent seven years writing them…

AB: Yeah, Lightbulb Alley has been around for seven years. I think, overall, it’s best to do a little heroin and write a song, you know. The thing is, Alex has really cool songs, Martin has really cool songs, I have like, mediocre songs, and we’ve become a band. One of us will play a song and if the other members like it, we’ll go with it. We write alone and then bring it to the band.

CD: Let’s talk about Anachronik Music Festival. Was this your first year playing the festival?

AB: It was our first year [playing] with this formation of Lightbulb Alley.

CD: How was the experience?

AB: It was like any other show, in a way, but it was kind of exciting [because] there were a lot of people there who we really respect in the Montreal music scene, like our friend David Hener from The Cheap Thrills, and a bunch of other people, like the band Deluxe, another band we’ll be playing with…

AF: And it was cool because people were skateboarding around…

lightbulb alley CD: Oh, you played at TRH-Bar?

AF: Yeah, TRH-Bar.

AB: It’s just nice to know that you have respect from people that you really look up to, and all these musicians are coming to our show…it’s nice.

CD: You guys think you’ll play Anachronik next year?

AF: We’d like that.

AB: Well, you know, we’re moving onto bigger things. Lollapalooza is our first priority. I’m just joking. We’d love to play [Anachronik]. We’ll always play it.

CD: What are you listening to right now? Today.

AF: Today? Rolling Stones.

CD: The Stones? Seriously? Which album?

AF: Sticky Fingers.

AB: I listen to absolutely nothing. But sometimes I listen to The Good, the Bad and the Ugly soundtrack.

CD: Nice, I love that soundtrack.

AB: Yeah, I always listen to that.

MB: Me, I listen to the album by Tiny Tim called God Bless Tiny Tim.

CD: What?

MB: I just make food and cook to this music. It’s amazing. I love it.

CD: Very therapeutic, I’m sure. Alright, so if you guys could jam with any musician today, like a current musician, who would you want to jam with?

AF: Charles Manson.

CD: Good choice.

AB: I would jam with Paul Butterfield. But he’s dead.

CD: Well, then you fucked up. You have to pick someone who’s not dead.

AB: I’d like to jam with Paul Butterfield’s ghost.

CD: And Martin?

MB: I’ll jam with…

CD: No more ghosts.

MB: Okay, seriously, I’d jam with Roger Waters. Or Barack Obama. At the White House.

CD: I didn’t know he was a musician.

AB: How about Robin Williams?

CD: No, man, leave him alone. May he rest in peace. What’s your favorite music festival in Montreal right now?

AB: Little Italy Festival.

AF: Montreal Psych Fest.

MB: Yeah, I say the psych fest, too.

AB: They do a good job. We played there one time.

CD: Oh yeah? Which year?

AB: The first one.

CD: You guys playing this year?

AB: Nah. But [Montreal Psych Fest] books good bands and they try really hard. And [the festival] is kind of a grassroots sort of development. I really like what they’re trying to do.

10622262_682332808524798_2045114374_nCD: Definitely. What’s happening in the next little while for you guys?

MB: I really want to have a threesome.

AF: I think we have to continue to do shows, put out the album, and it’s going to work.

AB: We’re going to New York and we’re playing shows with bands like Quitty and the Don’ts, and the Recordettes, and we also want to go to Switzerland and France…

CD: So specific. Why Switzerland?

AB: There were some people asking us to play in Switzerland. And have a threesome. So we’re ready to go.

CD: Nice. So you’re coming out with a new album?

AB: Yeah, at Christmastime. For the family to enjoy under the Christmas tree.

CD: What’s with the band name? Lightbulb Alley? Why?

AB: Lightbulb is our inspiration. And Alley is our desperation. Lightbulb is life. Alley is death.

CD: Alright.

AF: For me, it’s when you die…

CD: Yes?

AF: …and you’re walking over the next elevation…

CD: Yes!

AF: …to the next brand new world!

MB: For me, it’s sexual.

CD: Amazing. Thank you, boys.


Photos by Caile Donaldson.

What do you get when you blend the creative outlets of short film, music and literature? You get the conglomerate known as Hollis Quarterly: as ambitious as it is inspiring, Ontario native Brandon Shantz is the brains behind what has become, literally, a symphony.

Taking his anecdotes and turning them into short films (I recommend checking out Poor Shrooms), taking his songs and turning them into wild live performances, and taking his concepts and turning them into a novel about a 24-year old man set on self-immolating at Disney World, that, in a nutshell, is the merry-go-round of Hollis Quarterly.

The latest incarnation of Hollis Quarterly was performing on Thursday (August 21st) at Cagibi; I say “latest incarnation” because Hollis Quarterly has seen several aesthetic makeovers throughout the years, from classical backing bands to member changes. With just two weeks of jam sessions under their belt, the performance was a testament to the instrumental skill of its current members (Shantz on guitar and vocals, Frances Lebel on drums and backing vocals, Jevon Ellison on bass and backing vocals and Paul De Rita on lead guitar), as they pulled together a tight set of heavy jams. Songs were laden with lyrical content that ripped at the heart and packed with powerful melodies, leaving plenty of room for beautiful musical sweet spots.

But Hollis Quarterly proves yet again to be in constant flux, a project of tenuous transience, as it has been announced that their bass player will be moving to Australia in ten days.

Says Shantz of the project, “The internet makes it easy to get things out to an audience. I think having reliable releases and innovative, eclectic work in a variety of forms on a ridiculously low budget will attract people. There’s a business model to it as well that I think will be an interesting experiment.” Planning to do seasonal EP releases, accompanied by short film and sections of his novel, he intends to have it all unleashed on the world by Christmas 2015.

Like many Canadian artists, Shantz has been, and will be, using Canadian arts grants to accomplish projects, and if the success of Thursday’s performance is evidence of things to come, this writer suggests keeping an eye on Hollis Quarterly, as this multi-faceted experience unfolds.

I owe Homeshake an apology. When I emailed them, asking if I could come check out the release party for their new double LP, I totally called them “radical muthafuggas.” Although I only curse for colour, they say that familiarity breeds contempt. And so, Homeshake, I’m sorry.

Moving on.

Plastic Factory (like the Captain Beefheart song) is a new local label releasing the aforementioned double LP, and the party for its release is going to be tonight at Drones Club. When I Googled Plastic Factory, some weird shit came up. Like this one thing that says: “Joomla! The dynamic portal engine and content management system.” I guess I should have Googled Plastic Factory RECORDS.

Anyway, forget Google. You know what you should do instead? Go listen to Homeshake’s MUSIC.

You always remember that indelible first impression when a song stopped you dead in your tracks. For me, I was driving up the mountain with someone, case of Pabst between my legs, summer night and setting sun, car window rolled down, warm wind in my face, and he chucked on Moon Woman, off The Homeshake Tape. It was just one of those times.

Now I can’t turn that shit off. Now I can’t put down my guitar. Now I can’t wait for this double LP.

I don’t know why they call it Slacker Rock. I guess we should all feel flattered that someone’s finally validating the way we sleep until noon because we’re up until sunrise doing something weird with a guitar. Slacker Rock. The music of directionless twenty-somethings who drift around, jamming. Too mellow to be punk, too lackadaisical to be included in the phenomenon of every band branding themselves “psychedelic rock,” and too honest to call themselves “garage rock.” (Because who the fuck makes music in a garage? Who even has a garage?)

Homeshake. Go. Listen.

Editor’s note: A couple months ago, we sent Caile to see Clara Engel. Clara’s a local Montreal artist whose talents spread over making documentaries, artwork and music. She’s been gaining a lot of steam in the scene, and we’re not surprised (as you’ll read below).    This wonderful artist matches her work with her passions beautifully.  Her  music is  brilliantly composed… and make you beg for more. Haven’t seen her yet? Well, don’t fret… because you can this week.

We know there’s lots going on, and your cousin or mother or lover (or whoever) is in town, and you’ve also become the guide for the “tour de Montreal”, but that’s no excuse. Trust me, I’ve gotten out of those situations, so I know you can too. Anyway, don’t be a junkie (my new slang word for people who just sit around and do nothing/lazy-farters/”too-cool”/hide in their houses doing drugs), and come out  Friday to see Clara perform as part of the Infringment Festival, at L’Escalier  (522 St-Catherine Street East).

Now, here’s the review…

 First of all…that voice, that voice, that voice.

Clara gets on stage in the dim room and I’m already pretty stoned. She takes the stage with this big blue hollow body guitar obscuring most of her androgynous self, fiddles with a few peddles, then stands and opens her mouth. The room is so silent that even whispering is rude. Clara says, “The last show I played was really talkey, so this is nice.”   You couldn’t talk through something like this and get the point.

Her style on the guitar can only be compared to Joni Mitchell, and I’m surprised her fingers weren’t lacerated from playing what she did. It was that haunting. Her minimalist guitar-playing called to mind tragic, possessed forests and nights lost pacing your apartment until sunrise with a messy head. With a voice that snuffed itself out only to rise again into chilling crests of soprano sound, Clara Engel had complete control of her entire set.

At one point, she introduced a song as one she’d never played before, sang a bar, and then interrupted herself. “Hold on,” she said, “I want this to be good.” Not complete control, perhaps. But restarting the song was a good idea; she found the groove and then it was good (there was one song in there  that I didn’t care for, which  sounded like an 80s hair metal song. It reminded me of Heart, or whatever that ugly band was).

Engel probably could have benefited from a full band behind her, or at least the backbone of some bass and a little percussion. That being said, she really held her own on the guitar.  It was obvious she was going for a very stripped down, haunted and whispery sound, and achieved it successfully with heaps of reverb on the vocals, and a shitload of bedeviled guitar sound!

Here’s more of Clara’s for your perusal…
Aaron Mirkin’s Documentary

Knowing what you’re getting yourself into is half the excitement. Actually getting yourself into it, then finding that it’s exactly what you’d thought it would be…well, that’s not too bad. It probably could have been more, but at least it wasn’t less.

Hailing from New York, Michael Goldwasser, Eric Smith, Lem Oppenheimer & Remy Gerstein came together in 1997 as a studio band to form the  Easy Star All Stars, both an epic collective band and their own record label. With a down-to-earth stage presence, Easy Star All Stars grabbed the crowds and wound up playing a tonne of originals off their First Live album. The audience dug it for sure: underneath the clouds of pot smoke and watery yellow and red lights, you could see heads bobbing.

It was the type of show that’s more experiential than your average show, which usually involves getting trashed and trashing around the front stage while some band blasts the sound out of your eardrums. The beginning of their set was a bit more laid-back and relaxed, but the band soon knew how to bring the audience excitement levels up.  With lights flashing, sax solos and bass breakdowns were thrown in to the mix, drawing everyone in with sunny vibes and a chilled out atmosphere.

The audience stayed pretty mellow on the originals, but when the band broke out Radiohead’s “Climbing up the Walls”  and the female vocalist let loose, it was unbelievably chilling. “Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Dub Band”, the Easy Star All-Stars take on the Beatles classic, also made way for some cheerful jams.   And then of course came their mean rendition of Pink Floyd’s “Money”:  Green lights flood the stage, and no one can see anything but the harsh emerald glow. The noise of coughing breaks down into some cool bass riffs…and then suddenly “Money” erupts, and the crowds start dancing hard…followed by a little sax solo…

When they left the stage, the audience wasn’t having it at all – so the band came back   to rock the crowds with about five extra songs and even more energy than they’d had before; the band jumped up and down, broke into some wild jams, and then ended the set on a really, really high note.

For more photos by Kaelin Toomey creep us on facebook.

Words like “humble” and “graceful” came to mind, as I stood in Le Divan Orange this past Saturday night, watching Jon Janes, aka The Mountains and the Trees.

With his understated guitar playing and poignantly truthful lyrics, Janes had audience members swaying slowly and smiling sadly as he sang about a dear friend passing away and the long bitter East Coast winters made less fierce when shared with a lover. At one point in the performance, he grabbed the violin player from the David Martel Band. After their performance, she told everyone, it was their first time playing together, and then laid out a performance that was so natural, it was hard to believe that this could have been their first time.

During his performance, Janes shared his memories with the decent-sized crowd about hectically running around Europe on monster folk tour circuits; he spoke with awe that it had even happened. It was endearing and came from the heart of a grateful, small-town kid that just seemed glad to be making a living from doing what he loved. Janes also talked about his lack of permanent addresses in the last year and how he incorporated his nomadic lifestyle into his performance; the songs floated and drifted, directionless, with no hurry, before coming to rest gently upon the audience’s ears.

The David Martel Band was something else all together David got on stage wearing fluffy bedroom slippers and it was that exact vibe of relaxed comfort that the band members brought and audience members felt. Encouraging mass sing-a-longs, cracking jokes and spinning yarns, David Martel and his astonishingly talented, multi-instrument playing band (there was a stand up bass, cello, violin, and even an accordion in play at one point) were thoroughly indelible.

Goosebump-inducing harmonies had the audience exchanging impressed glances, and David’s vocal range was completely respectable, despite a pained facial expression. The set was rollicking and flawlessly tight. With foot-stomping energy, David Martel Band yanked the crowd into excitement and didn’t let go.

Photos by Chris Zacchia For more pics from the show visit our Facebook page.

“Music belongs to those who make it,” quips vocalist Mark Hamilton of Woodpigeon, and he makes it with eerie reveries and suddenly we all feel like it belongs to us. His dusty vocals and grassy hills of tenuous sound laid out sleepily in the background trot lackadaisically through folked-up brain space and conjure a wistful pensiveness that’s as tangible as the pillowy dreams Woodpigeon sends listeners to.

The Calgary eight-piece band weaves in flute, accordion, piano, violin and has gotten thrown into backwoods beauty comparisons to scary-fairy Sufjan Stevens and broken poetic masters Simon and Garfunkel.

Five albums, seven EP’s and two singles later, Woodpigeon is bringing their empyrean gossamer works to Divan Orange this Saturday night, and will be joined by Jon Janes, aka The Mountains and the Trees and former Hidden Cameras’ members and Daniel Johnston band member Magali Meagher – a.k.a. The Phonemes.

Self-described as Folk-n-roll, Janes has been going back and forth from bigger band styles to getting on stage solo, crowded in by banjo, mandolin, ukulele, harmonica, bells, drums, guitar…Hailing from Newfoundland, Janes released his EP, A hop, skip and a jump in 2009 and his album was actually named one of the ten best folk albums in Canada.

With rollicking numbers like Minimum Wage Lovers, Janes brings you into the simple, clean life of being an honest Canadian kid rambling around and keeping it real, warm and twanging, grass symphonies and lush, leafy instrumentals. More and More and More, sings about haunted love and with an aching violin and traveling drums, audio paintings of trains and heart pain, it seems to be the best showcase to what Janes has in store for the Divan Orange crowd, and future crowds in general.

Doors open at 8:30pm at Divan Orange tonight, and tickets are $12 at the door (if not sold out), or 4 for $34.

F the line, so get them online @


The Balconies

A girl who can circle head bang while holding her own on the guitar should garner any audience member’s respect, which is exactly the kind of stage antics that Balconies front-girl Jacquie Neville was going for.

The Balconies were deceiving, with a slow start; the audience was half-heartedly nodding, but the band never faltered. Their sound was consistently tight, and while the first song kind of came across as a lucid sound-check warm up, the band took off with the next song, drawing the audience into their jumpy young rock.

Jacquie Neville impressed the teenaged audience members with a series of weird yoga-like lunge moves, pelvic thrusts and lots of bending over in her high-waisted spandex pants, all while maintaining some furious and solid guitar playing. She even threw in a little solo that seemed to be derived from the 12-bar blues. Her vintage-looking Fender wasn’t bad either. At one point, there was an enthusiastic drum breakdown, at which point Jacquie did some little Flash-Dance two-step in time with the four-on-the-floor and cymbal crashes. As for the music itself, it was surprisingly not bad, and computer previews actually failed to convey the frenzied energy the young band brought to the stage.

The songs, which at first started out at as yawnable, hastily escalated into a fever pitch, and then of course there was Jacquie’s circle head-banging.

Suddenly undersexed boys are yelling that she’s hot, one lone gangly youth begins crowd surfing, and then they break into their hit single, Serious Bedtime. The instruments fall away and it’s just Stephen and Jacquie Neville singing, “If you do it in the dark, in the dark, no one sees it…” And Jacquie’s doing these PG-13 dance movies that show audience members exactly how she behaves when she does it in the dark.

Balconies brought a tight manic sound to the stage; their set was polished and lead singer Jacquie’s vocals were wildly impressive as she hit long screams of sound, overtop of sugary dance rock, and while the disco-infused hard pop style isn’t for everybody, they definitely blew the young and excitable crowd away.

As for Cold War Kids, well, one wonders if they get their name from the apathetic way they played this show. The band didn’t take a cue from their opener, and get hotter as they went along; no, maintained a nice and steady lukewarm set throughout. And while Balconies were checking in with their audience, asking how they were feeling and getting the crowd revved up, Cold War Kids seemed to skim over all that and rely on their little fame; it kind of looked like they were playing for…themselves. Somewhere toward the end of the show, they did play an audience-requested song, which brought a small cheer, but other then that, the performance as a whole was pretty blasé.

Ironically enough, Cold War Kids chose to lead their audience into a sing-a-long on a song called, Dreams old men dream, which lyrics consist of, “I don’t care”, over and over again. In the middle of the set they played what is probably their most well-known song, Hang me out to Dry. The song itself was repetitive and obnoxious, but the audience sang along and lead singer Jonnie Russell seemed to enjoy it the most out of anyone involved.

Cold War Kids played a song called Skip the Charade off their new album, and most of the audience started singing along the most enthusiastically to a song called, Audience of 1. Russell took time outs from his guitar to lean on his keyboard and smash blindly away on the keys for a few songs, and they finished the set early, in order to get an obvious encore. They got one, but it was no surprise that it was coming, as the roadie was already out tuning the guitar before fans even had a chance to ask for one.

All in all, Cold War Kids should have been opening for the Balconies.

Want more? Come see more show photos on our facebook page. We’ve got lots and lots of instruments.