The past decade has seen Canadian music establish a global reputation. Yet on closer examination, the very term ‘Canadian’ is fraught with difficulties, with contradictions and scenes located in very specific locations.
Held in a number of locations across the Quebecois city, M For Montreal brought these differences together. Sure, the emphasis may well have been on Montreal’s own – undeniably thriving – music scene, but attention was paid to locality, to region, to style.
Clash rounded up a few tips from the site – find our second batch of recommendations below.
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O F F love
O F F love played last summer’s 1-2-3-4 Festival, compiling a mixtape for Clash in the process. Not exactly new to British audiences, it’s been a while since their last visit and it’s intriguing to watch the group develop. Slowed down, brutalised synthetic pop music with a bruised, damaged heart, O F F love are rapidly becoming something quite special indeed.
One of the enduring facets of Montreal’s music scene is its ability to pull dance music out of the club environment. Spawned by the city’s hive of warehouse spaces and after hours dens, Valleys share the house impression of, to produce a lazy example, Grimes. Swarmed in atmosphere, their smudged, gauze-like electronics smothered you in fizzing, crackling melody.
Gloriously fluorescent pop music with a stop-start, bi-polar prog fetish. With more ideas than you can shake a stick at (and then some) HIGHS are far from the finished artefact, yet their sheer energy and the volume of pop hooks per second will win over the most stubborn of doubters. One of M For Montreal’s most original – and impressive – newcomers.
Deranged, French-Canadian hip hop, anyone? Dead Obies mine a dark aesthetic, with the masks pointing to the influence of (MF) DOOM and the beats to Odd Future. Yet there’s a strident originality here: in the approach, in the sound and above all in the lyrics which seem to emerge bathed in blood. Very much ones to watch, although hopefully from a safe distance.
Canada’s hip hop heritage is worth exploring. After all, the country has gifted the world both Drake and The Weeknd in recent times, while each city seems to nurture its own highly developed scene. Grand Analog hail from Toronto and – sonically speaking – are cut from the same cloth as The Roots. Flexible, gilded hip hop performed completely live, there’s an admirable sincerity to the lyrics which is cut through with a goofy, self-deprecating sense of humour. The ideal festival band? Almost certainly.
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