Last week on a frigid Friday I went down to the Plateau with a hard pack of Marlboro Golds to meet up with musician and visual artist David Kleiser, of The Walls are Blonde— he had orange pekoe and Pall Malls. We opened with conversation about a local hobo performer named Mike who had recently died, and how there was going to be a service held for him the following week. Our musings eventually morphed into a discussion about how communities support one another through the mourning process and how communal tribalism shares a lot of common ground with indigenous folk cultures: essentially we recycle cultural influences.

Kleiser’s band’s current project Kareoke’ eko erak is all about recycling. It’s also a clever palindrome, which is fitting as the B-side of the album is the first side played backwards. All of the songs are covers, remixes, re-hashes of different top 40 hits. Kleiser changes lyrics, keys, speeds up samples— he riffs on the echoic nature of karaoke.

“It’s impossible to be free of influence,” he said.

David Kleiser

I lit another cigarette and asked him about production, the wheres and whens and what-have-you.

“I did the final production and mixing in Naples, Florida – it took me awhile to figure out the name and face of the album,” he said. “I spent lots of time walking and getting to know the album, the arc of it. I finally decided on Kareoke’ eko.”

I remarked on the strength of having such a strong conceptual center and asked if that gave the album some of its power.

“The conceptual center is not what makes this album good,” Kleiser said. “Most people won’t pick up a lot of what’s going on – the ultimate complement would be for people to sit down and figure this shit out on their own.”

I do think that the album draws strength from the brilliant metaphor at its center, and I’m very impressed with how this pastiche of seemingly unrelated tunes hangs together so well. The album was released on tape, and not just any tape but old TDK, Memorex and Hanimex tapes. He overdubbed the album! Takes you right back to ’93.

Even the album art is a photo someone else took that Kleiser printed out in color. He explained how spitting water at printed photo caused the ink to run. Again he creates this cyclic palimpsest of influences; making someone else’s take a facet of his own – it’s this overlay that gives his work depth and resonance. Even if I can’t place the reference I sense it swimming under the surface. Kleiser likes the cuttlefish metaphor, and so do I.

David Kleiser

The album is super catchy and yet remains very tune to psy-folk stylings, there’s no plastic-y break from the underground and I, for one, respect that very much. Kleiser’s one cool guy, his roommate Ryan was super chill too, he made me promise to add that:

“Dave Kleiser manages to keep getting too high despite the amount of weed he smokes!”

Really good day and the brevity of this article doesn’t allow for me to paint you any more of a picture. Check out Kleiser’s band, The Walls are Blonde, and his gritty, often trenchant illustrations.


Karaoke’ eko is now available on tape at Sonorama (260 Bernard o.) and Phonopolis (207 Bernard o.). Photos by Jesse Anger. Featured photo comes from The Walls are Blonde’s video for “Endless Summer”.

Last Friday, January 10th, La Sala Rossa was packed to the brim with a hearty audience of local musicians,  radio hosts, artists and eclectic bands of music lovers ready for the release of local wave makers Archery Guild’s sophomore album: Manitòk.


Launching the evening with spirited gusto was The Walls are Blonde, a solo project by artist David Kleiser of Toronto/Montreal band Blood. Kleiser also happens to be the illustrator behind the amazing cover art for Manitòk. His stage presence has a spellbinding quality, gathering the attention of newcomers to the guitar and melody. He weaves in a way that frankly leaves me with unshakeable envy. The Walls are Blonde was joined by buds to end his set, jolting everyone into a sing along with a rendition of Dreams by The Cranberries.

Next up was Snooker Emporium, whom I’d never seen live and frankly (read:wrongly) underestimated. The projections playing during Snooker Emporiums set led to a kind of revelry. Blending several genres, there were elements of a psychedelic (trippy) nature that added a laid back quality to their more mercurial rock moments. Overall, Snooker Emporium played a tight, well-rehearsed set and has earned a spot on my radar as a very promising local act.

Up next was the main event, Archery Guild, the seven-piece headed by the ever-magnetic Michael Cota took to the stage to present Manitòk, a concept album based on a dream-legend envisioned and realized by Cota. There is a definite transformation of their sound since Archery Guild’s last album, DIN. The energetic chaos and noise elements of the former have made way for a still energetic but slightly pop and cleaner sound. The arrangements are stellar, the musicians talented, and the melodies are catchy. Favourite tunes: Blood Comfort and Cold Trail.

The visual performance intertwined with the musical to such a degree that I felt transfixed – audiovisual high. The group’s attire was amazing (hand sewn by Cota): tunics ranging in colours and hues, face paints, colourful and wild hair, and most stunning of all, Cota pantsless in a super sweet red tunic.

Avatars for the characters of the album’s journey, they turned the stage into a mythical place; the band became a sort of musical tribe with one foot in the dreamworld of Manitok and the other on Sala Rossa’s stage playing for a euphoric crowd. They blew it out of the water.


By the time latest act Look Vibrant to the stage, I was sweaty, sporting a huge grin and definitely distracted by Dionysus. I’ll have to see them play another show before giving my two cents.

Like Snooker Emporium, I distinctly remembering feeling like I’d misread them based on virtual first impressions. Lessons learned. One, I need to re-calibrate my musical compass and two, I need to try and not party as hard when reviewing evenings of kick ass musical debauchery.

SEE THEM NEXT: Archery Guild is playing a show on January 31st , 2014 at Brasserie Beaubien with Trade Secrets and Blood. See the event page for more details.

Ice storms.

Triple pant layers for slippery grocery shopping trips.

Post-holiday back to the grind panic attacks.

Sound familiar?

I’m slowly working my way into a winter funk and I am sure I’m not alone in this.  Here’s what I’m betting on as the perfect remedy:

Rx –  One vigorous dose of Archery Guild’s launch of their sophomore album Manitòk  this Friday.


For those of you unfamiliar with these Montreal music makers, Archery Guild is an experimental indie rock band. Their line up currently includes Michael Cota (vox, guitar, synth), Marshall Vaillancourt (drums), Tristan Giardini (Bass), Mariah Andrews (trumpet, synth, vibraphone), Ian Gibbons (cello), Huei Lin (sax) and Casimir Kaplan (guitar).

Archery Guild is known for their dynamic wall of sound and their joyful cacophonous melodies. I greatly anticipate experiencing their new tracks and haven’t looked forward to a show like this in quite some time.

This line up of local musicians is pretty sweet: I’ve seen experimental psychedelic pop act The Walls are Blonde and enjoyed their tunes and stage performance thoroughly. I’ve yet to see Montreal’s psychedelic prog surf rockers Snooker Emporium and noise pop duo Look Vibrant live.

See you there. I’ll be the head bobbing, feet swaying gal wearing wool socks. Don’t be shy, come say hi.

Get ready and have a listen: