Sometimes it’s hard to pigeonhole a band’s sound. That’s usually a sign that the band really has something new and interesting to offer. Montreal’s The Holds is one of those bands.

The five-piece hailing from NDG (my old ‘hood) launched their self-titled debut EP Friday at O Patro Vys on Mont-Royal. A download of the EP was included with the price of admission.

Opener Joshua Carey of Po Lazarus kicked things off with a very intimate set. Alone with his guitar and mandolin until the last tune, he welcomed the crowd with some of the Po Lazarus repertoire and even a new original tune, setting the stage perfectly for the explosion that was to follow.

Blues and More

From the moment The Holds took the stage, they were in show mode. The light instrumentation that served as a backdrop as frontman Ryan Setton introduced the show and got the audience to count down from ten gelled into the first song when the countdown was done. From there on it was all energy.

When you listen to The Holds, the first thing that comes to mind is the blues. This musical genre permeates every tune they play, but it’s never alone. Their songs are also rock songs, and quite a few of them are borderline or outright psychedelic, too.

vintage projector

I’m not just saying that because of the live projections done with vintage projectors courtesy of Daniel Oniszeczko that gave the show its visual feel. There’s something trippy in the music, too.

Very Montreal

The band is made up of Setton, Andre Galamba on bass, Eric Hein on guitar, Justin Wiley on drums and Alex Lebel on keyboard. While the presence of keys in a blues rock band, or a psychedelic blues rock band may have you thinking Blues Traveller or The Doors, there is something else at play when it comes to The Holds and it starts with the crowd.

O Patro Vys was packed. Taking a look around the room, I got the feeling that I was at an Indie Rock show, something Montreal is known for. Admittedly, the fact that Dan Moscovitch of First You Get The Sugar produced their EP may have had something to do with that, but there was more to it.

the holds o patro vys 2

From the little card with free download instructions to get the EP to general atmosphere the band created in the room, the event was very tech-aware and very indie. And all this to go along with generally longer blues-infused tunes. A very Montreal experience.

It’s one you should hope to experience for yourself if you missed out last Friday and one the people who were there most likely want to experience again. We have that chance on Saturday, March 12th at Turbo Haus in St-Henri. Until then, you can enjoy The Holds at home or wherever you are by downloading their EP from iTunes via their site You’ll be glad you did.

* Photos by Steve Walsh

Taking inspiration from jam bands like The Grateful Dead, Po Lazarus recently recorded their debut self-titled EP live in one (almost) continuous take. This ambitious and experimental style is something the Montreal quartet clearly thrives on. At its core, Po Lazarus is a folk-rock band, but as their five-track EP demonstrates they’re also a band continuously striving to find new ways of making music.

As with all experimentation, the final results are mixed. As lead singer Joshua Carey croons about lost loves, one night stands, self-doubt and redemption, the music shifts between sweet folk, harder rock and straight up country.

As much as the band doesn’t want to admit it, they’re masters at putting on a great performance. When you see a live Po Lazarus show, it’s difficult not to get swept up in the vibe and feel like these gentlemen are making sweet love to your eardrums. Upon repeated listens at home, the band’s strengths and weaknesses start to become more apparent.

In the psychedelic-fuled lead track Backyard Voodoo Carey’s voice sounds like the love child of Jim Morrison and Thom Yorke. When first hearing the lyrics, it’s hard to take Backyard Voodoo seriously (Chicken bones are strewn/From the ceiling of your room/and brickdust is guarding the cupboard where you keep your/broom). But just like dark magic, upon repeated listens the song grows on you.

In more folk-ish Po Lazarus songs like The Seams, the guitar wailing away seems out of place. But in Backyard Voodoo the guitar is perfection. And when you combine that with Mo Novak’s solid drum beat, I could listen to Carey ramble on about nonsense forever.

I’m Coming For You is one of the most polished songs on the EP. The song’s impact slowly creeps up on you and has just the right doses of pop, rock and folk. The best guitar solo on the EP can be found here and features some impassioned vocals from Carey.

Conversely A Couple Weeks Time is the blandest of the offerings on the EP. While you have to appreciate the desire to try different things, country is clearly not a style that inspires the band as much as folk or rock.

If You Are Alone is the most obvious crowd pleaser of the EP. Ukulele, falsetto and simple lyrics is always a great mix. Especially when performed live, Po Lazarus knows how to make this combination work for them. With the incredibly infectious chorus (If you are alone/Well i’ll be the one to take you home x2) it’s hard not to find yourself singing along to this song whether you’re in a packed bar after a few pints, or stone-cold sober sitting alone in your living room.

All and all this EP signals Po Lazarus is a strong band that’s here to stay. It’ll be exciting to see where Po Lazarus’s goal of experimentation takes their musical style and lyrical inspiration next.

To celebrate the launch of their EP, Po Lazarus is having a party tonight, Friday, August 8th at Turbo Haus. Tickets are $10 in advance, $14 at the door. To download a copy of the EP for yourself, make sure you check out Po Lazarus’s bandcamp page



Po Lazarus

While looking for acts to play Forget the Box’s five year anniversary party, our music editor got me in touch with the band Po Lazarus. Friday, April 11, I headed down to Grumpy’s to meet the up-and-coming Montreal folk band and get a sense of what they’re all about.

While drinking pints on the back terrace, I learned Po Lazarus are a charming group of young men who like to cry, have nicknamed their jam room and whose musical theory education consists mainly of YouTubeing.

Stephanie Laughlin: So let’s get the boring first-date questions out of the way first… How did you guys get together?

Joshua Carey: Paul and I started the band four years ago when we were at Champlain College together. It was a very slow evolution into what we are now; we’ve only been playing as a foursome since December. Folk is definitely the soul of this band but adding Marco [Novak] on drums and Luc [Delisle] on lead guitar means now we can play around with our sound a bit more. Elements of country and rock n’ roll have started to find their way into Po Lazarus, and that’s been pretty exciting.

SL: What’s the song writing process like for you guys?

Paul Mascarenhas: Josh and I write all the songs, but input from everyone is always encouraged. We like to write about crucial elements of the human experience… you know, like love and getting drunk. [Laughs] Seriously though, our songs are about the feelings and issues that come along with being a man in a contemporary world. What can I say? We write about what we know. No one in the band studied music, unless you count watching a lot of YouTube.

Luc Delisle: I love playing around with the songs that Josh and Paul have written. I like to joke that our jam space (a.k.a. Spit Bucket) is where “the magic happens”. But where we really thrive is playing live. Like Josh said, we haven’t been playing together long, but damn it if there hasn’t been a single gig we’ve done so far that hasn’t gotten me a little teary-eyed.

SL: What’s coming for you guys in the future? Anything exciting info you want to share with FTB readers?

JC: Well the big scoop I guess you could say is we recorded an EP this past March — Lazarus Rex — and that’ll be coming out soon. We’ll make sure to play songs from it at the FTB show!

Po Lazarus perform this Thursday, April 24 at Honey Martin (5916 Sherbrooke o.) at 10 p.m.