The 2013 single Brainwash, a sublime little piece of surf and psych-influenced indie pop, was the last time I’d really heard any major buzz from La Luz. Since then, La Luz has had an undeniably strange past few years.

Lead singer Shana Cleveland took time off to release a solo record, original bassist Abby Blackwell left the group, and a devastating car crash destroyed the band’s gear, forcing La Luz to cancel their 2013 tour. So, in more ways than one, Weirdo Shrine feels like a fitting title for the group’s sophomore LP.

Heavily influenced by surf-rock legends such as Dick Dale and The Vultures, La Luz breezed through a set that placed emphasis on showcasing their (relatively) new material. Quite often, perhaps excessively, the band is compared to the core of 50s rock acts who helped establish the classic ‘surf sound.’ And while La Luz is undeniably indebted to this era of music, very little critical attention has been paid to other artists and styles that might serve as inspiration.

la luz montreal 2Take, for example, one of the first songs of the evening, Sleep Till They Die; a slow-burner that sounds a ton like Caribou by Pixies (it’s even in the same key). In fact, unexpected traces of Pixies, and especially Kim Deal, can be found all over La Luz’s music.

The set also brought into focus just how much the group has sharpened their signature ‘noir surf’ sound; that foreboding sense of doom lurking behind the lush melodies. The band lures us in with a disarmingly beautiful four-part harmony, before bringing down the hammer with one of Cleveland’s borderline face-melting riffs, or Alice Sandahl’s Ray Manzarek-inspired keyboard fills.

La Luz seems to constantly hint at some ambiguous sense of danger, without really articulating what that danger might be. There is a distinct sense of play in their live act that complements the laid-back surf aesthetic, elevating the show to a more special place.

At times, it’s as if the band is working through a series of inside jokes onstage; inexplicably, bassist Marian Li Pino played the opening riff to With Davey on at least three distinct occasions, before leading into a different song. And Cleveland’s wonderfully half-hearted attempt to have the crowd guess how many times we heard the Super Mario Bros Theme Song during the set was, well, kinda just weird. But definitely in a good way.

* Photos by Georgia Vatcher

After previewing a bunch of shows for Porchfest last week, for this installment we move back into the more conventional venues where there’s some seriously cool performances going down. Whether it’s surf, psych, punk or for a cause, be prepared for a whole lot of rock n’ roll coming your way.

La Luz and Las Rosas

On Monday, Seattle based rockers La Luz are coming to town to give us a good dose of doo wop vocals on top of some seriously mellow surf drip.

While the classic surf sound regularly relegates vocals to catchy one liners, this is not the case with La Luz. Soaring over top all that warm fuzzy reverb you can hear four part vocal harmonies that make this band something very new and different within the genre.

Joining them will be Brooklyn natives (and this week’s coolest band you’ve probably never hear of) Las Rosas. This psych rock trio will suck you in with a mix of trippy riffs and deep grooves setting the table for some very catchy vocals.

These two acts compliment each other quite nicely making this a must see for those who like to go out on Mondays!

La Luz and Las Rosas play Bar le Ritz PDB , 179 Jean-Talon O., Monday, May 16th, 9:30pm (Doors 9pm), $12. Tickets available through ticketsfly or at the door $18, 18+.


Benefit Show for Denis Poitras

If you’re looking for something to do tonight then head over to Katacombs where Le Collectif Stompin’ Trees, Tantquàyêtre, Tempête and Micro Armés will be playing some good music for a good cause.

In 2013 lawyer Denis Poitras had to file for bankrupcy due to the fact that he had taken on too many pro bono cases following the the 2012 student strike. Poitras is now back on his feet but he needs to raise $6700 to re-register with the Quebec bar.

This show hopes to raise as much (if not all) of the money needed. With a suggested donation of $10 to $6700 you can pay what you can and catch some good tunes in the process.

Le Collectif Stompin’ Trees, Tantquàyêtre, Tempête and Micro Armés  play Coop Katacombes, 1635 Boul. Saint-Laurent,  Thursday, May 12th, 9:oopm (Doors 8pm), pay what you can at the door, 18+.

Dead Messenger and Eddie Paul

For those looking for a night of “Rock ‘N’ Roll fury” you’ll want to head over to La Vitrola this Friday (the 13th muahahahah) to catch Dead Messenger and Eddie Paul.

Followers of the Montreal punk scene are already well aware of Dead Messenger (making them this week’s coolest band you have heard of!) and their ability to put on a killer live show. Adding to the evening is the fact that they are set to release their new album The Owl in Daylight on May 30th meaning there’s a very good chance you’ll get to hear some new material.

They’ve already put out two singles, here’s the video for the track In the Dark. 

Making it all the better is that they’ve added well known Montrealer (and good friend of FTB) Eddie Paul to the lineup. Having seen Eddie live a few times I would say he’s a personal favorite of mine since his shows always seem to have an energy that gets passed on to the crowd throughout the performance.


Dead Messenger and Eddie Paul play La Vitrola, 4602 St-Laurent, Friday, May 13th, 9:oopm, 18+.

* Featured image of La Luz playing at Pop Montreal by Bianca Lecompte

It’s always a thrill to watch Ty Segall perform. A truly talented, earnest West-Coaster who churns out guitar-driven psychedelic tunes more often than some of us change our sheets, he deserves every bit of praise he gets. Not only does Segall live up to the hype, but every time I see him live (this weekend marked the fourth), he surpasses himself and somehow steps it up a notch. As the venues get bigger, so do his power and devotion grow.

The night started off with The Nymphets, a band I’ve heard tons about but have never gotten around to seeing. The trio is comprised of a brother and sister on guitar and drums, respectively, and a friend on bass. Hailing from Montreal, they’ve toured extensively since their beginnings a decade ago, opening for bands like Jay Reatard and CPC Gangbangs.

The Nymphets for Forget the Box

They warmed the crowd right up tearing through some hard, fast tunes at a feverish pace. Their particular brand of punk is infused with a late 70’s/early 80’s British influence, veering from sweet to frenetic punk à la Buzzcocks in one quick, swift beat. Their set ended with a tune sung by drummer Johanna Heldebro, her voice jumpy due to her drumming, a perfectly intentional decision that illustrated the Nymphets’ frenzied sound and style so accurately. Thoroughly enjoyable, wholly appropriate, and I think the guitarist might have winked at me.

La Luz’s Damp Face EP has been on repeat at my place all summer, the perfect soundtrack to accompany a mending heart. It’s hazy, dreamy, and makes me wanna slow dance, my head tightly nuzzled in a dude’s shoulder, while we sway side to side.

The band only got together a year ago in Seattle, and already they’re making waves. Their surf-inspired brand of rock’n’roll has a dreamy, hypnotic quality, and though the mood they evoke is one of longing, it’s anything but desperate –it’s steady; it’s patient; it’s knowing. Their music is worthy of any spaghetti western worth its salt. Somewhere, someplace, Franco Nero is cracking a shit-eating grin.

Onstage, the girls are magnetic. Singer Shana Cleveland’s intimidating gaze and her twang-y guitar licks commanded our undivided attention. The girls are skilled, and have a fresh take on a style so familiar it could easily bore – but their grasp of it is so fierce, they make it their own.

La Luz Pop MTL

I had no doubt the band would hook the crowd, with a sound reminiscent of a cowboy disappearing into the distant sunset at the end of a searing hot day in the desert, but I was struck by their complicity with one another. The girls share a connection that is rare for a band who’ve been together such a short time. They’re a playful bunch who were evidently having as good a time as anyone else – keyboarding Alice Sandahl even took a stage dive towards the end of their set – and were obviously stoked to be opening up for Ty Segall.

A cowboy eventually rolled onto the stage to present Ty Segall Band, claiming they’d recently escaped an alien abduction. Though the veracity of this story is questionable, it’s undeniable that Ty Segall is one of the most talented contemporary musicians, across all popular genres (in my opinion, this isn’t even up for debate). His style is heavily influenced by a variety of genres, yet is inimitable. His shows are raucous, and this time was no different.

The band pumped out song after song from their most recent album, Manipulator, with a couple of throwbacks to Twins and Slaughterhouse. Their energy bordered on unhealthy: drummer Emily Rose Epstein pounded her kit like a maniac, carefree yet focused, while Ty and the boys forcefully tore their instruments to bits with force. Highlights included an all-too-brief reminder of the greatness that is the Rocky Horror Picture Show, jumping from “Science Fiction Double Feature” to “Time Warp” and onto “Touch-a, Touch-a, Touch-a, Touch Me” in a hot minute.

The band demonstrated their true allegiance to punk ethos when Ty stopped playing mid-song (as the rest of his band continued) to disapprovingly stare down a security guard trying to get rid of a kid who was stage-diving, and motioned for him to get off the stage while shaking his head, then picking up in the middle of the song. The crowd went ballistic, with kids stage-diving and body-surfing throughout the entire set, and a large pit going. As is the band’s habit, the encore featured a cover, Motörhead’s (or Hawkwind’s, Ty’s favourite band) “Motörhead” this time, ending with “Girlfriend” off Melted, a personal favourite.

My only gripe is that I wish the set had lasted longer – I could watch these guys play for hours. I left the show feeling like a teenager, speechless and in awe. It’s almost difficult to describe the excitement, both from the crowd and the band, and I feel sorry for those who missed this: you really had to be there.

* photos by Bianca Lecompte (click on first image to open gallery)

Ty Segall POP MontrealTy Segall POP Montreal