Interview – Yesterday’s Ring

Fresh off the release of Yesterday’s Ring’s new album Goodbye Nightlife, the band members (Hugo Mudie, Louis Valiquette, Fred Jacques) took some time to answer some questions and provide insight into its creation, background and release.

Before the interview starts, if I can make a suggestion: get your hands on the super-limited-edition Zine. I can’t recommend it enough. A really cool and expansive zine that has a bunch of stories, anecdotes, explanations, lyrics, Top 10 lists of the band members – you don’t want to miss out. Don’t wait. Do it. Even if you’re waiting for the vinyl: only 50 copies of it exists and not many more are left.

Without further ado, here we go!

– Let’s round table this one. How is everyone, and how have you been holding up?

Louis: Very good! I’m really excited for the record to come out. I can’t wait to play shows with my friends. I feel privileged. 

Hugo: Been great. Doing too much shit at the same time with a bad back, but still… doing great.

Fred: Life is good. Hope you’re enjoying it too. Thanks for asking.


 – The big question is, why now? And did you ever think Yesterday’s Ring would come back with new material?

Louis: I guess I always thought that we would do another record at some point. That’s what I hoped for anyway. Maybe, the whole Covid situation helped. It gave us more time to write songs. And we are lucky the restrictions are going away just as we are about to release the record and do shows. 


 – What shaped the lyrics of this album? I felt like you really poured your heart out here.

Hugo: I wanted to write songs that were in line with what Yesterday’s Ring has been known for. Sad songs, reflecting on self-destruction. Songs from the roads, etc. Since I don’t live that lifestyle anymore and would not naturally write about those subjects and that way, I had to search in old books and boxes for lyrics from the El Rancho ( 2005 ) and Dancing for Decadence ( 2006 ). I think some of them are even older.


 – Do you find as the years go by that it’s easier to communicate musically together? There’s an organic feel to these songs that almost feels like everyone was reading each others’ minds.

Louis: Fred and I have been playing music together for a long time. Even though it’s been a while since we wrote new songs together, I feel like we do communicate better in terms of what kind of arrangements each song needs. Almost all the songs were written by Fred and Hugo. I just tried to find some guitar parts that went with their vision. The songs could easily have been recorded with only Fred’s guitar and they would still sound amazing. I think it’s a bit more challenging to be very compatible when doing songs acoustically because there’s no distortion to mask what’s really going on. So we probably were a bit more meticulous this time around.

Fred: As the years go by, we also get better a bit.  It is amazing that after 30 years playing guitar, there is always something new to learn.  I love it.

 – In bringing back Ryan Battistuzzi as producer, was there a specific sound you wanted to go for?

Fred: Not a specific sound, more a specific feeling. Ryan is a friend, I like spending time with him in the studio and ordering food and share moments with him.  He also played with me in my more “solo” project Les Mains Sales and I helped him move into his new studio and built new walls in it etc.  I also wanted to test the place. I loved it.  I am a big fan of Ryan’s projects & music. It was natural.

Louis: Ryan is one of the best producer/engineer in Mtl and we are lucky to be friends with him. He’s also a member of Yesterday’s Ring and has done tracks for the band since El Rancho. It was just the logical choice. He’s really patient and makes everything sound good. The work he did on Diamonds in The Ditch is remarkable. When recording Goodbye Nightlife, he really helped us with the arrangements. He played some guitars and bass. His contribution really shaped the final color each song took. We are very grateful for the hard work he put in. It’s always a pleasure recording with him.

 – There’s a really cool American Steel cover on the album, can we get insight as to how that came about and how you felt it would fit within the album?

Louis: Hugo said that it would be nice to make a cover for the record. I had written a guitar part that turned out to be the same chord progression as Rainy Day. So instead of writing a new melody with our own lyrics, I suggested we do a cover of Rainy Day instead. It has always been one of my favorite American Steel songs. At first, we were also going to put songs in french on the record and since there are french lyrics in the song, I thought it would fit perfectly. I hope people like the song. I don’t really know if they will find it weird or not since it’s the only song that Hugo doesn’t sing on the record.

 – The interplay between Fred Jacques and Louis Valiquette here is a real highlight. This isn’t really a question but more of a comment. Beautiful. Did you find yourselves exploring different techniques or different sounds? (I swear I could hear everything from 60’s jangle to 70s FM, and I mean this as a compliment).

Louis: I only play acoustic guitar at home and in the last two years I kind of leaned into fingerpicking a lot. I was really happy that a lot of the new songs Fred had written were also going for that kind of sound. I think that it’s the biggest difference from previous records we made.

Fred:  Thanks! I hadn’t touched an acoustic guitar in 5 years. When I grabbed one during those boring lonely days of lockdown, it felt like I saw the end of a rainbow.  Felt real good.   I had no picks, so I started to play more and more with my fingers.  When Louis and I got together it just blended in a new way to play for us and it was refreshing.

 – You’ve just spent 2 years in lockdowns. You’ve got your first Yesterd record in 12 (!) years coming out. Spring is in the air. Shows are coming. Do you feel differently about putting this album out there now compared to anything else before?

Louis: After the lockdowns and the 12 years gap, I feel like it’s kind of a fresh start for the band. It’s been a while since I put out a new full length record. So I’m kind of hoping the reception will be good and that our fans will think of the new record as the next logical step in the band’s career. The biggest difference for us is probably the fact that we did everything ourselves.


 – Let’s round table this one too. Your first Yesterday’s Ring show in many, many years is happening relatively soon. How exciting/meaningful does it feel to be revisiting the older songs again?  

Louis: The older songs will always be a part of a YR show. I mean, we would never do a show playing only the new songs. We haven’t done a show in a long time and we know people want to hear their favorite songs. I had the chance to play a couple of acoustic shows with Hugo in the last couple of years where we would play songs from the YR catalog, so playing them again is not a very big challenge, I still remember them well. The exciting part is mostly due to the fact that we are not doing the shows with the full band. It’s just Hugo, Fred and I, with our acoustic guitars and our friend Cleo, playing stand up bass and keyboards. So a different sound than the last time people saw us live for sure.

Fred: Excited! Feels good to play old songs too! Even some I thought I would never play again?!? You have to come to the show to find out which one haha

Hugo: I love playing some of these old songs. I love singing in general and as I get older, I really appreciate every time I have the chance to do it in front of people in a good setup with my friends and the crowd singing and all. It’s a huge privilege and a gift. I am not the most talented singer there is, far from it, but I wanted to do this so bad when I was young that I kind of learned to sing in a way that hides my lack of technique and talent, but after 20 something years, I still get better with every record, as a singer, and we all do as songwriters and musicians. For the last few years I played guitar and sang on my solo thing ( MUDIE ) and it feels real great and freeing to be able to just sing again. I’m a little bit nervous about the abuse of the road. I don’t wanna go back to bad habits, but I have 100% confidence that we will have tons of fun and laugh and hang out like when we were 20 years old.



 – Finally, I’ll ask because this website also focuses on vinyl releases. Any cool info you can leak right here on vinyl formats, pre-orders, etc..?

Hugo: The vinyl version will come out when it’s ready. There’s crazy delays these days, but it’s at the pressing plant. It’s being released by Little Rocket Records ( our friend Graeme from Leatherface’s label ) and Rad Girlfriend Records ( in the US ). There’s an orange version and a blue version. It will look look and sound fantastic. I love having the vinyl versions of our records. Can’t wait to hold this one!

“Goodbye Nightlife” is out now.

Buy it here: https://www.hugomudie.com/products

Stream The Album: https://bfan.link/goodbye-nightlife

Other Yesterday’s Ring Merch: https://yesterdaysringmtl.bandcamp.com/merch

Yesterday’s Ring on Tour:

9 avril – Québec @ L’ANTI https://lepointdevente.com/billets/abs220409001

22 avril- Sherbrooke @ La Petite Boite Noire

https://lepointdevente.com/billets/pbn220422001

23 avril- Montreal @ L’Esco

https://lepointdevente.com/billets/goodbyenightlifemtl

14 mai- Rouyn-Noranda @ Cabaret de la Dernière Chance

https://lepointdevente.com/billets/khp220514001

3 juin- Toronto @ Bovine

https://embed.showclix.com/event/yesterdays-rings-guests-

4 juin- Gatineau @ Minotaure

https://lepointdevente.com/billets/amb220604001

17 juin- Rimouski @ L’Underground

https://lepointdevente.com/billets/yesterdaysringrimouki

18 juin- Matane @ La Fabrique

https://lepointdevente.com/billets/fab220618001

25 juin- St-Hyacinthe @ Le Zaricot

https://thepointofsale.com/tickets/zct220601001/

1 juillet- Saguenay @ Festival la Noce

https://bit.ly/nocedecire

Yesterday’s Ring – Goodbye Nightlife (Album Review)

Well, well, well… a new Yesterday’s Ring album! I did not see that one coming. The country punks from Montreal are back with a surprise new album “Goodbye Nightlife”, and I can tell you we’re all the better for it. The soundtrack to your springtime ’22 has arrived.

Yesterday’s Ring left us on a high note in 2009 with the immensely epic “Diamonds In The Ditch”. And looking back, it almost made sense for the band to call this its swan song – not because they aren’t capable of doing better but because they wrote an album that told a story which by the end they all seemed to find closure with. But then again, most of the band members aren’t very good with goodbyes.

Hugo Mudie, Louis Valiquette and Fred Jacques are better known for their other, much louder group, The Sainte Catherines. They too made a final album, Fire Works, in 2011 and then said goodbye. And then they came back multiple times, playing shows whenever they felt like.

With Yesterday’s Ring, a big lyrical theme has often been the effects and consequences of the (back then) endless tours with The Sainte Catherines. The band members unplugged their guitars and sang of the setbacks, regrets and exhaustion their life had come to. Their 2nd album, El Rancho, sounded like on-the-moment recordings of exactly what they were going through. Too much beer, too many drugs, and too little sleep with a longing to just get back home to the people they love. It’s like Yesterday’s Ring existed to balance out the anger that The Sainte Catherines represented. A re-adjustment, some kind of well needed yin and yang that ultimately, with Diamonds In The Ditch, seemed to be the outlet they needed to realize that this kind of life was no longer satisfying and that they, as individuals, did not like what they were becoming.

I was curious to hear what the band would sound like and sing about now that a lot of those themes seemed like a thing of the past.

The first song and lead single “Always A Little Bit Sad” sets the tone perfectly (and what a cool country song title, just short of George Jones’ “If Drinking Don’t Kill Me (Her Memory Will)”), with an uptempo country beat and singer Hugo Mudie warning you that despite any recognition coming his way, despite any opportunities you might give him, well he’d rather go home and not ruin your night because he’s “always a little bit sad/Even though I’m doing alright”. By the end of the song, some horns have kicked in and you feel like you’re in a sun-drenched afternoon, somewhere.

The sound of the album is one to talk about. Produced by Ryan Battistuzzi, it’s a warm sounding album that’s exactly what the music demands: clear and thoughtfully layered. The overall approach in the instrumentation may at first seem more stripped back (like El Rancho), but the more I listened to it the more I stopped thinking of it that way. In the years since the band last recorded together, it seems getting back together made them able to come up with the most consistent sounding YD record to date. This isn’t back to basics: you get lap steel guitar, horns (a beauty on “The Ghost Of St. Christopher”), banjo – and to me, the musical highlight of the album: the heartbreakingly beautiful guitar interplay between Fred Jacques and Louis Valiquette. The guitar work is lyrical and it’s like the two are reading each other’s minds. Yesterday’s Ring, it seems, simply got better at being Yesterday’s Ring, even if the scope of the album isn’t as sweepingly wide as the last record.

Among the highlights here are the ballad “Mama’s Lil’ Sis”, which is up there with the best songs the band has ever recorded. Hugo Mudie surprises time and time again throughout the album, showing a vocal range that we may not have expected of him. Just check out the ethereal cover of American Steel’s Rainy Day. I guess I’ll never know why “Chien De Pick Up vs Chien De Pick Up” is called that, but the sparse acoustic arrangement and dreamy, haunting vocal melodies aren’t going to get out of your head anytime soon.

The biggest surprise on “Goodbye Nightlife” is actually towards the end of the album, with the song “London Girls Band”. Dare I say it, with its folky 60s-like guitar line, it even recalls The Beatles’ “Here Comes The Sun“. Hugo Mudie shows a maturity in his lyrics as well, nostalgic of the travels and happy to have lived them – just tired of the hangovers. “I fell in love with a London Girls Band/I got lost in Amsterdam with Louis again”. It’s been a quality of his lyrics: he can get super specific and you might not even be sure you understand what he is singing about, nonetheless he pulls you in right there with him. With that song, I close my eyes and it’s like a mini-movie.

It seems throughout Goodbye Nightlife (and not least on its closing title track) that a lot of the demons that came with The Sainte Catherines’ earlier days are still being addressed. But where Ste-Caths’ final album sang about retreating to “normal” life as a mission statement, “Goodbye Nightlife” lives in a more emotionally balanced place. 2022’s Yesterday’s Ring has accepted it all: the regret, sadness and bad habits lurk behind them, and they’ve learned to live with them as shadows and nothing more.

It certainly appears to close the book on the subject, even though the future is uncertain. By the end of the album, the confession of “It’s goodbye/I don’t know where to go from here” will have you by the throat as you sing along. It’s a beautiful album that works best with repeated listens (and I suspect will work gloriously when blasted out of your stereo, somewhere outdoors while summer sets in).

It’s a stunning album – melodic, reflective, quiet and comforting in its own unique way. Chicken soup for the country punk soul? Maybe. Just don’t tell the band; it makes for better songs when they’re a little bit sad.

Welcome back, boys.

“Goodbye Nightlife” is out tomorrow April 1st. Stay tuned for an interview with Hugo Mudie and Louis Valiquette coming on Them Blue Midnights soon.

Buy it here: https://www.hugomudie.com/products

Pre-Save/Stream The Album: https://bfan.link/goodbye-nightlife

Other Yesterday’s Ring Merch: https://yesterdaysringmtl.bandcamp.com/merch

Yesterday’s Ring on Tour:

9 avril – Québec @ L’ANTI https://lepointdevente.com/billets/abs220409001

22 avril- Sherbrooke @ La Petite Boite Noire

https://lepointdevente.com/billets/pbn220422001

23 avril- Montreal @ L’Esco

https://lepointdevente.com/billets/goodbyenightlifemtl

14 mai- Rouyn-Noranda @ Cabaret de la Dernière Chance

https://lepointdevente.com/billets/khp220514001

3 juin- Toronto @ Bovine

https://embed.showclix.com/event/yesterdays-rings-guests-

4 juin- Gatineau @ Minotaure

https://lepointdevente.com/billets/amb220604001

17 juin- Rimouski @ L’Underground

https://lepointdevente.com/billets/yesterdaysringrimouki

18 juin- Matane @ La Fabrique

https://lepointdevente.com/billets/fab220618001

25 juin- St-Hyacinthe @ Le Zaricot

https://thepointofsale.com/tickets/zct220601001/

1 juillet- Saguenay @ Festival la Noce

https://bit.ly/nocedecire

Once Human – Scar Weaver (Album/Vinyl Review)

Alright, let’s talk about my favourite metal record of 2022 so far: Once Human’s impeccable third album, Scar Weaver. Autobiographically speaking, this is also my first metal album review for this website. So let’s make it special.

I’ll admit that I only got to know about the band when their second album, Evolution (2017) came around. It was refreshing. Good grooves and some ridiculously talented/ technical instrumentation never obstructed the quality of the songs. Lauren Hart (vocals) has a range that can do it all – never to show off, always using it to instead bring the music to where it should be. Logan Mader probably needs no introduction if you’re reading this, but as the guitarist who was in Machine Head in the beginning and worked on and produced some of the best metal albums of the last 10-15 years (Gojira, Cavalera Conspiracy, Devildriver, Septicflesh) certainly showed he knew how to make this band sound unique.

Scar Weaver takes everything further.

The first thing I noticed when playing it was how epic the production is. Mader definitely knows what he is doing at this point, but I’ve listened to a lot of his work and it feels like for Scar Weaver he kept a few secrets under his sleeve. The sound of the album is absolutely cosmic. When Lauren Hart’s vocals take you to the chorus, it’s like the sea opens up and sucks you right in. Guitars upon guitars are layered, and this band isn’t trying anything less than taking you on a trip with them. “Where The Bones Lie”, “Erasure”, “Cold Arrival” beg you to close your eyes and go with it.

Guitarist Max Karon is credited to writing most of the music here, and he’s someone to really keep your eye out for. As heavy as the music can get, there is a definite talent for songwriting and dynamics in Karon’s eye and ear. Dillon Trollope on drums shows that in a metal scene that more and more seems to place technical skills over the “I’ll just play what the song needs” moto, Trollope chooses the latter while throwing a middle finger because he can groove while playing incredibly complex polyrhythms anyway. Just listen to how perfect “Bottom Feeder” is. Damien Rainaud is a beast of a bassist and I found myself listening to the last track, “Only In Death” basically just focusing on how gorgeous his playing is.

But here’s the star: Lauren Hart. I mentioned that her vocals were amazing – to me she is probably the best vocalist in metal right now (*listen to this album, I promise you.) But what really got me is something we don’t really talk about as much when reviewing metal albums: the lyrics. Laurent Hart definitely has her demons, and the emotions in her voice convey that sincerity. Yet one should pay attention to the words themselves. We’re looking at poetry more than song lyrics here, and it gives the album an enormous depth. Her vocabulary is rich. This doesn’t feel like some off the cuff writing out of anger. No, this feels more like someone writing for the sake of writing, needing to write. You know that image of the poet writing at 2am by the sea having a tequila? I got that vibe.

“One last time

I will see your face

Cold wind bites

The chill of your name

Woe can cry oceans

And the waves of endless stone will rise

Buoyant on the graves”

  •  Where The Bones Lie

Hell fucking yeah. This is real writing.

To conclude, let’s talk about the vinyl. I listened to the clear vinyl/German pressing.

Listen, I won’t be one to partake in the “streaming sucks and vinyl is gold” debate. Not my battle. I have arthritis and a mortgage already – enough on my plate. But I did the A-B comparison between the two and I can tell you that if you care about the sound quality and getting the full album experience, this is really the way to go. The vinyl itself was completely quiet, no surface noise. There was a definite sound design when conceptualizing this album and a lot of it got lost when I streamed it. For sure it was heavy and “in your face”, but the LP has a lot of sound on the high end that just doesn’t make its way to the compressed app.. Put it this way: it felt like the difference between watching a VHS copy as opposed to the widescreen version. This is a huge record. Do yourself a favor and actually get yourself a copy.

Buy Once Human’s “Scar Weaver” album here:

A Place To Bury Strangers: Onwards To The Wall 10 Years Later

In early 2010, I went to see then up-and-coming band, The Big Pink. They had this dark, trippy 80’s sound and A Brief History Of Love, their first album, was packed with amazing songs. I couldn’t wait to see them live. That’s when I first heard of A Place To Bury Strangers, who were opening for them.

From the opening strobe lights and distortion, it felt like for the next half hour someone was grabbing me by the throat and screaming “THIS RULES”. I immediately picked up the album they were touring behind, Exploding Head. If I thought The Big Pink were dark and trippy, APTBS changed that definition tenfold: they’ve since often been referred to as the world’s loudest band.

And while this is true, with frontman/leader/sole remaining original member Oliver Ackermann’s trademark distorted guitar (*I can’t find the right word for just how distorted – it doesn’t exist), and his low and distant vocals providing a perfect foil, what I still love to this day about this band is the vocal melodies. For me, that’s usually where it starts when I like a band: the vocal lines.

If the music intentionally sounds like several car crashes in a David Cronenberg film, the vocal melodies are usually insanely pretty. Longing, love, heartbreak  – you feel it all, even if you can’t always understand the words.

They’re one of the bands I’ve seen the most frequently. I’ve travelled to see them, and will keep doing so. Something so special is worth, literally, the extra mile.

Jump to 2012, and I’d recently launched this website. I’m just a guy going from show to show, trying to build this website from scratch. I’m reviewing shows, buying merch to give away as promotional contests – all at my own expense. I just wanted to do this. To be honest, my life was pretty much a mess back then, and this band provided the soundtrack for many a blurry night.

That year, APTBS released the EP “Onwards To The Wall. It had all the trademarks of an APTBS record, but I felt the band was getting better at everything: better songwriting, better singing, better production. And you could stare at that front cover for a long time just trying to figure out what it all meant.

I should also note that I didn’t actually know all that much about the band. I knew what I listened to, but I didn’t go out searching for, like, what Oliver’s favourite ice cream was. I liked the mystery. I didn’t need printed lyrics. The music spoke to me and was as intense and twisted as what my life was (but my life was nowhere as loud).

During the Onwards To The Wall tour, I was able to catch them at the merch table and mustered up the courage to mumble something to Ackermann. I introduced myself, talked about my website and I asked if I could buy a couple copies of each record they had on LP so that I could give them away as a contest.

-Oh that’s so cool!, he said. Do you want me to sign them?

-Sure!

-It’s great that you’re doing this.

And the class act that he is, he did something I never would have expected, and also had never gotten from any other band I’d done this with: he told me he’ll just charge me the records at cost, to support what I’m doing. I’ve never forgotten that and will never forget it. A lesson was learned in class, humility and respect.

And then, as if it wasn’t enough, he ran away from the merch booth to quickly grab Dion Lunadon, his bass player up until 2 years ago, to sign them too.

Sometimes (but not always), meeting the bands you like only makes you like them more. Case in point.

That was the night I picked up a copy of Onwards To The Wall on vinyl.

The tempos of the songs were radically different.  Even more radically different the first time I put it on because I didn’t realize it was at 45rpm!  Onwards To The Wall had some of their fastest material (“Nothing Will Surprise Me”), and some of their prettiest (“So Far Away”). Like the best of the band’s stuff, it’s impossibly loud and impossibly catchy – which makes it completely addictive.

To this day, Onwards To The Wall is what I play when I make someone discover the band. It is the perfect introduction: short enough to quickly prove a point, long enough to get hooked.

I look back at that one signed vinyl copy I selfishly kept for myself and it brings back so many memories. But most importantly: it keeps growing with me to this day because there’s always something new to discover when you listen to this band, even if it’s a song you’ve listened to a hundred times before: the densely layered instrumentation gives you a wink of something while your brain picks up on another. Upon the next listen, you’ll pick up on something else, but just like a pop song you’ll remember the hooks.

10 years already. Time flies! So crank it up / drill it up.

As for APTBS now, the band just came out with one of the best albums of its career.  See Through You officially replaced Onwards To The Wall as what I’ll use as my introduction to anyone who doesn’t know them. These 13 new songs are some of the strongest material, I feel, since Onwards To The Wall. Ackermann’s surrounded himself with a new lineup (Sandra Fedowitz on drums and John Fedowitz on bass) that only seems to bring out the best in him – and his songwriting here is the strongest it’s ever been. “I Don’t Know How You Do It” might just be the most gorgeous song I know I’ll hear all year. Haven’t heard it? I strongly suggest you find your chosen online streaming platform and just play that song immediately.

To me Onwards To The Wall and See Through You are records running in parallel at different points in time for APTBS; each signifying the same thing: this band keeps getting better and better.

BUY “SEE THROUGH YOU”, THE NEW APTBS ALBUM:

US Store:

EU Store:

Onwards To The Wall is currently out of print on vinyl, but used copies can be found on sale here:

https://www.discogs.com/release/3395816-A-Place-To-Bury-Strangers-Onwards-To-The-Wall

The Sainte Catherines’ Fire Works Revisited

I was 20 years old when I first heard The Sainte Catherines, and truth be told I think I was late to the party. They’d been a staple in the Montreal punk scene clubs such as L’x, and by the time I got around to hearing them, it was 2006 and they’d just come out with Dancing For Decadence. I connected with what I heard immediately – despite, I must admit, not even being much of a punk music fan. I wasn’t part of that scene. Punk to me was The Stooges and whatever I’d read about in the book Please Kill Me. It surprised me just how much I liked The Sainte Catherines and how quickly I got into them.

Here was a band from my hometown singing “I spend time in fucking bars when I should be in your trustful arms”. Songs with anger just bleeding out of them with a drummer, Rich Bouthillier, who had no problems playing at 666 beats per minute and a singer with attitude to spare. They openly talked about drugs. They looked dirty. They looked like they didn’t give two shits about anything, really. For an impressionable 20 year-old, that quickly started to impress me and resonate with me.

So I thought I’d somehow “get” into punk. I started listening to what was going on at the time – only, punk was changing – here we’re talking 2007. Bands like The Gaslight Anthem were gaining attention, and punk kinda started to Springsteen itself. It’s normal for any style to change, and in this case the change became closer to what I could get into. More and more, the lyrics became less angry and a lot of its singers became acoustic troubadour-types, exemplified by Chuck Ragan’s “Revival Tour”. You had Tim Barry, Dave Hause, Joey Cape, Frank Turner, etc… all expand on what “punk” meant. It became punk to not play fast, but instead to sing about your feelings, your vulnerabilities and to lower the volume a bit. Which is fine – the music was good, and there appeared to be (at least on the surface) genuine camaraderie between the artists, which gave a sense of truly belonging and witnessing something new and special. By 2010, even Against Me! was singing “I was a teenage anarchist/The revolution was a lie”.

Looking back, I believe this was a perfect time for The Sainte Catherines to release an album like Fire Works.

Around those years the members of the band (well, most of them) actually released the most ambitious album of their careers, but instead of doing it under that moniker, they recorded 2009’s Diamonds in the Ditch album as their country-punk band Yesterday’s Ring. It was a nearly one hour-long concept album that featured horns, male/female duets and gorgeously warm and lush production. But the most telling change was actually in the lyrics. A lot of the anger and self-hatred was replaced by storytelling, deep introspection and, dare I say, even self-confidence. The first single was called “Punx Not Dead…It’s Just Sleeping”, and the rest of us didn’t know what to make of the future of The Sainte Catherines.

Hugo Mudie, the singer, was starting up his own label/concert promotion agency L’Écurie and was apparently transitioned into Buddhism, while Diamonds In The Ditch, although a critical success, did not become the commercial success (in my opinion) it coulda/shoulda been. Rich Bouthillier quit the music scene altogether, but sometime in 2010 it was announced The Sainte Catherines were finally recording their long awaited new album. With remaining members Mudie, Fred Jacques, Marc-André Beaudet, Pablo Boerr and Louis Valiquette, Luc Gagné was recruited on drums.

When Fire Works was finally released in October 2010, I didn’t know what to make of it. It sounded like a different band. Gone was the vocal howling, the almost metallic tone to the guitars and the ridiculously fast tempos. What we had instead was an almost raspy croon coming from Mudie, and the guitar interplay (always a highlight), felt almost jangly compared to the insanely heavy Dancing For Decadence. I wrote a review for punknews.org and gave it a very safe 3.5 stars out of 5.

Basically, it was hard to understand because it wasn’t Dancing For Decadence 2 and it also didn’t have, at first glance, the ridiculously huge scope of Diamonds In The Ditch. The songs, the production and the sound were as straightforward as they come, and it was a surprise.

Looking back at it now, I think that Fire Works was ahead of its time and took us by surprise. A break up album that isn’t about a romantic relationship, but rather about the band itself, the lyrics here are what really paint the picture. If Diamonds In The Ditch explored similar themes, it did so as a semi-fictional story. A guy wants to escape the madness of the day-to-day life he can’t stand anymore by moving to Florida, and finds that everything he needed was back home. The change has to come from within – the scenery doesn’t matter. Fire Works actually expands on this, but removes the storytelling. It tells it like it is. No characters, no metaphors, and that’s what appeals to me the most about it: its straight-forwardness – Beaudet’s production goes a long way here. The decision to make an album as raw and honest and naked as this means that you can listen to it 10 years later and still find a lyric, a guitar lick or a hook that you may have not paid attention to before – what might have been a small detail can now define the song for you. 

I think about the fact that Mudie was getting into Buddhism, and it adds layers to Fire Works’ story that I hadn’t considered and makes me appreciate the album even more. Mudie himself had to basically destroy everything about himself in order to change, in order to survive. Fuck playing the punk rocker that became his outside image and expected personality. The Sainte-Catherines may have been a part of that necessary death – perhaps for all of its band members individually. With lyrics like “We went to the hotel, then we went to bed/The snow is falling like shit on our heads” on the song  “BLR Vs. Cancer (Fuck Off Cancer Song)” or “Maybe I’m sick, maybe I’m old/ I don’t need you or anyone/ This city will never be my home /But it feels alright to be alive tonight.” on the appropriately-titled “D’you Guys Wanna Fuckin’ Party After This? No.”, The Sainte-Catherines essentially totally rip-apart whatever ego or image it has had of itself.  It took years for me to understand that, and it’s why I think it’s now not only the Sainte-Catherines album that I prefer, but it’s actually their deepest and most profound. This isn’t a band that’s trying to do anything anymore but sing about its current situation and the day-to-day life that its members live.

I won’t miss waiting, shaking, singing my songs

Not even the late night drinking, but I know I’ll miss the boys

I won’t miss stressing out, talking to bands I don’t know

Not even the god damn music but I know I’ll miss the boys

-I’ll Miss The Boys

I think about this lyric a lot as I write this. Can you imagine the courage it takes to walk in your band’s practice room and present them this lyric? To essentially sing a song about how much you’re going to miss your friends to your friends? That’s a harder and more complex thing to write about than most songs dealing with anger. And how must it have felt to no longer be the angry punks from Montreal anymore, but actual sentient beings who express themselves in 3D.

I’ll tell you something: with that thought alone, Fire Works is the most Punk album of The Sainte-Catherines. I believe it is at 100%.

Set fire to everything you are afraid of, including sharing your vulnerabilities and learn to grow from the ashes. It doesn’t matter what anyone says or thinks. I feel like there’s a lot of this on Fire Works.

It’s hard to imagine 11 years have passed already since this album came out. It still feels like “That new Sainte-Catherines” record to me! But most importantly, it still sounds fresh, with ideas overflowing and with time, as we all get older, the wisdom and honesty it offers proves to be timeless.

Who knows, maybe that’s why The Sainte-Catherines never really did go away after this album, reuniting every so often for the odd show. If you have to learn to do a bit of dying in order to get better at living, then the band offered this album as a tombstone – they’re just not dead yet, they’re sleeping instead, waking up every so often when they get hungry again.

Fire Works has recently been repressed on vinyl. Buy here:

https://www.hugomudie.com/product/the-sainte-catherines-fire-works-lp-repress

Motörhead: Entire Studio Discography Review

For close to 3 weeks, I listened to nothing but Motörhead. And I really mean nothing but Motörhead.  I didn’t even intend to write about it, I just wanted to try and listen to every single studio album at first. It became much more than that. I started giving the albums ratings (out of 10 stars). Little by little, I started writing comments on a notepad and realized that I could turn this into a full-on discography review. It was an absorbing experience.I did quite a bit of research and spent hours watching live shows to try to listen to certain albums within the context of their eras. I calculated that I spent nearly 50 hours in total listening to Motörhead albums and watching live shows. I’d often go back and re-listen to albums, and I’d often think to myself ‘Who are you to review Lemmy?!’.

Well, here we are.

Motörhead has been a band that has been with me my whole life, one of my favorites and I wanted to get some perspective on how a band can, year after year, continue to make new albums. Are they all good? How does the sound change (if indeed it does at all)? And how can a band challenge itself for so long? I’d listened to half of the band’s studio albums before, but I wanted to listen to everything and find out. I also wanted to do so in no particular order – I did not want to go chronologically.

I rated the albums out of 10 stars within the context of its own discography: 10 out of 10 being an absolute Motörhead classic/essential listening. Weaker albums are also dealt with in this context: to the band’s credit, a bad Motörhead album is still better than most albums out there. That’s how consistent this discography proved to be.  This is a band that deserves more than to be summed up with typical “All Motörhead albums sound alike” reviews. There are differences through the years, and I hope this article helps to do them justice.

Since the band was started by Lemmy Kilmister, who is the only remaining original member, the group’s longevity should be attributed not just to Lemmy’s obvious talents and perseverance, but (and I only realized this midway through this whole experience) his incredible ability to keep Motörhead a band effort, and not just his own project. Songwriting is usually credited to the entire group, and Lemmy’s dominating bass sound/playing changes drastically when we listen to albums in which, for example, Motörhead has 2 guitarists in the band instead of 1. Lemmy is very good at being in a band, which is not an easy task, especially when the band is able to, time and time again, retain its fast and aggressive fusion of punk, blues, hard rock and metal.

I believe that his ability to remove ego here and consistently make decisions with regards to what is best for the group, musically, shows an incredible amount of integrity.

To the best of my own ability, I’ve checked facts and historical information to be accurate. However, given that this was a one-man job: listening, researching, writing, editing, I may have overlooked certain things. I also wanted the reviews to be kept straight-forward and to the point. Please feel free to leave a comment at the bottom. All comments are subject to my approval, because the internet. I’d love to get your comments, feedback, your own reviews, experiences or memories with the band, if you have ’em! Please note: although I’ve included a bit of history and context, this is not meant to be a history or biography of the band. For this, you should definitely read Lemmy’s autobiography, White Line Fever.

Although I am not reviewing live albums/shows/videos, the Motörhead live experience is as important as the studio work. Any serious fan will want and should listen to No Sleep Till Hammersmith. There is a wealth of live material out there that you should get your hands on. I’ve seen them live 3 times, and looking forward to the next show here in Montreal on September 18!

Here begins what turned out to be a nearly 4000 word review of the band’s discography.

1977– Motörhead 5/10

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Note: The songs for the first album also appear on the album “On Parole” – recorded in 1976 but only released in 1979 after the success of “Overkill”.  The eponymous album and On Parole have similar track listings, but offer different recordings of the songs. For the purpose of this discography I’ve chosen to review it in its eponymous format.

This first LP shows the band is struggling to find its voice and is stylistically all over the place: there’s punk (Vibrator), there’s the classic Motörhead sound (the title song, originally performed with Hawkwind), and a great deal of distorted pub/blues rock. It gets awkward at times (Train Kept A Rollin’), hearing Lemmy seemingly use these songs as practice to find his proper vocal style. As a historical document, it’s an interesting piece of music that basically gives us a rough blueprint of the band. This is far from the band’s best work and is best used as the audio equivalent to an old photo album.

1979 – Overkill 10/10

OverkillI’d listened to Overkill countless times, but listening to the first album in the context of the discography made me appreciate it even more. It’s incredible how the band just came fully formed here and is completely confident.  The contrast in quality and sound is huge (compared to the first record). Side by side, you’d think this is a different band altogether.

This album is pure perfection, and remains one of the most influential rock records ever. As far as heavy music goes, it’s still hard to top this one. Lemmy deserves more credit as a singer: the vocals to Stay Clean are just genius. I mean, hearing him ending lines as if he’s catching his breath is a lesson in true vocal performance that adds urgency in a truly original manner. It’s a little detail that I find astounding every time I listen to it.

Once the title track was first played and Phil Taylor’s double-kick drumbeat started, it opened the floodgates to a new era in heavy rock drumming!

1979 – Bomber 8/10

BomberWhile not the landmark that Overkill or Ace of Spades were, this is a strong album and an essential one in the band’s catalog. I’ve always loved this album, with songs like Dead Men Tell No Tales, Stone Dead Forever and Lawman being my favourites. The 2nd half of the album has a few weaker moments, but the title track closing the album is a true Motörhead classic. It’s even more impressive to think that in the space of 2 years the band came out with so much great material. I saved this one to end my discography listening experience on an assured high note, which it did not fail to do.

1980 – Ace Of Spades 10/10

Ace_of_Spades_Motorhead_album_coverMatches Overkill quality-wise. Incredible guitar playing by Eddie Clarke here. With faster, heavier songs, this one took everything one step further and in my case has often replaced the use of caffeine in the morning.

An essential life experience.

1982 – Iron Fist 8/10

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Make no mistake: this is a classic Motörhead album, and the last with the original lineup. Unfortunately, it has a few songs in the middle which aren’t all that outstanding. This is still one of band’s finest albums, but I can’t say it is quite on par with Ace Of Spades, Bomber & Overkill. The title track, I’m The Doctor, (Don’t Need) Religion – even Remember Me, I’m Gone which was a B-Side, are songs which are part of the very best material the band has ever produced. Unfortunately, tracks like Sex & Outrage, and America are not as consistent or notable. Still, what an incredible run of great albums that just shows no signs of stopping.

1984 – Another Perfect Day 10/10

220px-Motorhead_Another_Perfect_Day_CoverThis isn’t an album that was well-received, nor was it very successful. This period in question is documented as being the low point in the band’s career, but you wouldn’t know it listening to this record. Many may disagree with my assessment here, but I think this album is an essential record, and in my Top 5 Motörhead albums. This is the first and only album featuring Brian Robertson on guitar, following Eddie Clarke’s leave after Iron Fist. Anything you read about this album will not fail to mention that Robertson was incredibly slow at recording his guitar, needed everything note perfect and was fired shortly because he just really didn’t fit in (long story very short). Lemmy still hasn’t talked to him to this day, apparently. But here’s the thing: the guitar work on this album is just amazing, and the overall feel of this album is totally unique in the Motörhead discography because of it. Robertson adds effects to his guitar that may arguably date the album, but I don’t find this is to the detriment of its quality (what helps is the drums and bass retain the same sounds we’ve come to expect, so the guitar work I find just adds personality). The guitar effects are integral to the songs themselves, and I would have a hard time imagining the band playing these songs live without them. The band sounds like they’re on fire here throughout, with some nice extended jams on songs like One Track Mind (which has a really nice Stranglehold-esque vibe to it) and the title track. If you remove the drama that surrounds the making of this album, it’s just a perfect Motörhead record. Amazing.

1986 – Orgasmatron 4/10

220px-OrgasmatronMostly good songs here, but sonically this is a really weird album. There are really awkward gang vocals (and a lot of them!), weird panning on the drums (why, on some songs, the bass drum is panned totally to the left, is one of life’s great mysteries) and the sound of the record actually takes away from the quality of the material. It does not sound like a Motörhead record, and that hurts the album more than anything. Guitarists Wurzel (who would stay until the Overnight Sensation album) and Phil Campbell (still in the band to this day) made their debut here, although I do find they started adding personality to the band’s sound only on the next album.   It appears Motörhead was trying  a different approach to songwriting: Deaf Forever and the title track, for instance, are much slower-than-usual tempos, adding a sense of menace to the sound. It would work, but the production on this album and the mixing keeps distracting you from it. It’s just not an enjoyable listening experience, and this is what I end up taking with me more than anything else. The title track is a true classic though (often covered by Sepultura, too). But asides from that one song, this is the first album in the discography I’ve listened to so far that really sounds dated and uninvolving. It’s too bad, because it really feels like the band was trying to do something quite good with the songs themselves. You know, I’m thinking out loud here, but maybe a remix of this album would work. I’d be curious to hear it mixed differently. Or in mono? Rant is over.

1987 – Rock N Roll 5/10

Rock_'n'_Roll_(Motorhead_album_cover)This is a back to basics return. I’d read reviews that stated this was an abysmal record, but it really isn’t! The band sounds like Motörhead again, and appears having a lot of fun. The songs here are indeed overall disappointing, but the musicianship is strong, and original drummer Phil Taylor is back. It has a few cool moments though: The Wolf starts with a nice drum intro that takes us back to Overkill, while Traitor and Blackheart have Lemmy in a proper pissed-off mood, and the band plays fast and aggressive throughout. Not a great album, but definitely not as bad as I’d heard it was. I’m actually disappointed that the B-Side to Eat The Rich, Just ‘Cos You Got The Power didn’t make the album, because it’s a very good song that would have ended the album with real strength.

1991 – 1916 – 8.5/10

220px-1916_(album_cover)1916 is a rebirth for the band, and is also one of its more experimental ones. Songs like Nightmare, Love Me Forever, and the title track show new depth to Lemmy’s songwriting, and No Voices in the Sky along with One To Sing The Blues are some of the all-time best fist-pumping Motörhead songs. The quality of this album is undeniable and it’s easy to understand why, after its release Lemmy was commissioned to write songs for Ozzy Osbourne’s No More Tears album. One of the most interesting/creative albums of Motörhead’s career, and the band sounds eager to prove itself once again, shoving the competition aside. I think this one might be overlooked, but taking risks here stylistically definitely paid off.

1992 – March ör Die  3/10

220px-March_or_DieThis was the first Motörhead album I’d ever listened to. I was 10 or 11 and bought the cassette, and I have to say I didn’t like the album. To this day, I have a problem with it, but nearly 20 years later I can actually understand why! By this point, Ozzy’s No More Tears album had come out, sold millions, and some of the strongest songs on No More Tears were penned by Lemmy (the whole album is great though). So I can understand why Lemmy would have chosen to record his own take of the song Hellraiser, but I personally will always prefer Ozzy’s take, maybe that’s because I knew Ozzy’s version first. There’s also a cover of Ted Nugent’s Cat Scratch Fever here which is completely useless (I don’t know, I mean this was Motörhead’s first and only major-label album, was this to help break the band further in America? They played it live quite a bit in the early nineties, so maybe they just liked the song, but the cover here doesn’t work for me). The album opener, Stand, is a catchy song with a singalong chorus but in the context of their discography, it’s actually a pretty weak Motörhead track I find. The one real moment of brilliance here is Too Good To Be True, which I think is one of the most beautiful songs the band has ever written. Just like the rest of the album, perhaps Motörhead shows a bit more of a commercial side here (Lemmy arguably sings a bit cleaner on this album…still sounds like Lemmy though), but this song is pure gold. I don’t care, commercial or not, I remember loving that song as a kid and it still reaches me today. There’s a real vulnerability in the lyrics, and while the song completely rocks, it also breaks your heart. Too Good To Be True: listen to the song. March ör Die also has a semi-acoustic single called I Ain’t No Nice Guy (feat. Ozzy and Slash), which is good, but works better when I see Lemmy perform it only with Phil Campbell, fully acoustic (found on the 25 & Alive Boneshaker dvd’s bonus features). March ör Die is, I think, the weakest album in the band’s discography. Did I mention that you should still listen to Too Good To Be True though?

1993 – Bastards 9.5/10

220px-BastardsOne of the essential Motörhead releases. With the exception of the ballad ‘Don’t Let Daddy Kiss Me’, a well-written and thoughtful tune in its own right, this is a classic ass-kicking album, and stands alongside any of their best. I think that the inclusion of drummer Mikkey Dee with this record (still the drummer to this day) helped the band find a more aggressive sound and helped to rightfully put Motörhead back on the map as one of the most important rock ‘n roll bands of all time. I nearly gave it a 10, but I do find that Don’t Let Daddy Kiss Me interrupts the flow of the album a bit, whereas the other ballad here, Lost In The Ozone, continues with the fine songwriting experiments brilliantly displayed on 1916, and is a standout track. This is one of my favorite Motörhead albums, and one of the ones I most frequently revisit. Essential!!!

1995 – Sacrifice 8/10

220px-Sacrifice_(album)This is one that I’ve always linked with the Bastards album: they’re both super aggressive, quality records that (for me) fit hand-in-hand together. Anyone who grew up watching Troma movies in the 90s should already be familiar with the insanely great title track, but the album as a whole is worth your time (especially considering the brief running time). It isn’t as consistent as Bastards, with a few weak moments here and there, but songs like Over Your Shoulder, All Gone To Hell and Out Of The Sun are 5 star songs. Sacrifice is one of the heaviest Motörhead albums of all time. Mikkey Dee’s drumming here deserves lots of love, pushing the band to try out different, more syncopated rhythms .

1996 – Overnight Sensation 6.5/10

220px-Overnight_SensationThis one found the band back as a 3-piece and was an eye-opener for me: It made me look at the last few albums differently due to a small stylistic shift. Gone is the songwriting experimentation and guitars in the front, back with what we now consider the classic Motörhead sound, and the album is much more bass-heavy and rock ‘n roll sounding as a result. It isn’t as aggressive as the previous 2 records, and it isn’t as consistent, but I still thought it was good. Listen To Your Heart has Lemmy essentially playing the rhythm guitar with his bass, which is a really cool idea. Love Can’t Buy You Money has a strong groove and a bass solo that takes us back to Stay Clean. I Don’t Believe A Word (with a surprising return to clean vocals from Lemmy!), Overnight Sensation and Civil War are the standout tracks here. The rest is good if not phenomenal, but this is the band regrouping and focusing on creating music as a 3-piece again after years of having 2 guitars. I’m sure I’d include 3-4 tracks of this album if I made a custom Best Of playlist. But I wouldn’t do that, I’m 16 albums into this discography and realizing that almost every one of them has enough strong points to make it worth a spin. That’s an incredible achievement. The front cover was immediate proof that Joe Petagno was integral to the Motörhead album experience (when I was a kid and saw this album in record stores I remember thinking it was a compilation because Motörhead albums always looked pretty badass!). Joe Petagno. Check him out. Buy a signed print. He’s part of the legacy too (though since the Kiss Of Death album, he has unfortunately resigned from producing work for Motörhead).

 1998 – Snake Bite Love 5/10

220px-Snake_Bite_LoveA return to a heavier sound here does not translate to immediately great songs. I was let down by the album, which I found altogether rather forgettable. Hey, it sounds like Motörhead doing what they do best, so I won’t say it’s a bad album: Lemmy could read the phonebook and I’d still be listening. The track Assassin, a return to the syncopated rhythms of Sacrifice, is a good song but does not match the quality of its predecessor. My favorite songs here were the (slightly) more quiet track Dead And Gone, the excellent Joy Of Labour, and the album closer Better Off Dead. To give you an idea, 2 days after listening to the album I could barely remember any of it, which is a rare occurrence in the Motörhead catalog. Unfortunately, I also did not feel like listening to it again. I was 17 albums into the discography, and went back to hear Inferno again instead!

2000 – We Are Motörhead 8/10

220px-We_Are_MotorheadShort and so very sweet, this one has a familiar feel building on the fast and furious style of Bastards and Sacrifice. The only misstep here is the cover of Sex Pistols’ God Save The Queen. It’s good, but it doesn’t match the quality of the new songs. As this album only has 10 songs and a brief 35 minutes-ish running time, I’d given this one a 9 had it not been for God Save The Queen, because the rest is great. The album ends with what appears to be the band’s 21st century mission statement: the wonderful title track We Are Motörhead, and it feels as if it has found a new sense of purpose for the new millennium (check out the front cover if you need a mission statement). Very fast, very heavy – one of the band’s better latter-day albums, and the song One More Fucking Time is a classy & cool slow burner, with intensely personal lyrics and an awesome guitar solo* served as an outro. This album was new to me, and I ended up actually listening to it a few times in the context of this discography because I liked it so much.

*Let’s take a moment here. I haven’t talked about the greatness of Phil Campbell much. Phil Campbell should be recognized for his incredible guitar playing. His riffs, his solos, his energy, his live presence, the dude is such a talent. I’ve spoken about Mikkey Dee in this discography review, and I also need to mention how incredibly important Phil Campbell’s sound is for this band. Listening to every album, you realize that the band is much more technical (musically) than it gets credit for. In its current lineup, Motörhead is a team of 3 incredible musicians who are also incredible songwriters. Motörhead is Lemmy’s baby, but the band is credited as writing most songs together. And I will dare to say that I think this lineup is the best the band has ever had.

2002 – Hammered 4/10

220px-Hammered_(album)I thought this one sounded very weak. There are a few good songs here, such as the brutally heavy Red Raw, and the very catchy Mine All Mine (my two favorite songs from Hammered). As a whole, this record didn’t keep my interest, and I actually found some of the songs to go on for too long – No Remorse (not a cover of the Metallica song) is a very good song at its core, but does not need to be 5 minutes long. The album ends with a curious spoken-word outro called Serial Killer that ends the album on a downer (though I’ll give bonus points for the album title, and I love how classy the album cover looks).

2004 – Inferno 8/10

220px-Inferno_albumThis was the 11th album I listened to in this discography, and I was so impressed by this one.  30 years later the band can write still an album that sounds insanely loud and inspired! So many standout tracks here : Terminal Show (featuring a guitar solo by Steve Vai), In the Black, Suicide, Down On Me, Killers, and the insanely cool In The Name Of Tragedy… Great songs with awesome hooks! A really consistent album that has a few forgettable moments and one nice surprise:  Whorehouse Blues, a nice acoustic jam letting Lemmy sing the blues – and the band even brings out the harmonica (this anomaly is cheekily addressed in the lyrics: “You know the only thing that’s missing, Is a little mouth harp blues, And you know life’s full of suprises, You know we do that too”. A very good album, and though it isn’t likely to be addressed as a milestone in the band’s career, is way up there with some of the best material it has recorded.

2006 – Kiss Of Death 8.5/10

220px-MotorheadkissofdeathThis band and lineup is relentless! This is a really, really heavy album with so much good stuff. Where to begin? Well, count on Motörhead to have a ballad called God Was Never On Your Side. Kiss Of Death has some of the best, most ferocious material I’ve listened to. This was the last album I put on that was new to me, that I’d never listened to before. And man, I’m gonna keep going back to this one. Sucker, the album opener sets the tone nicely, with Lemmy sounding as pissed off as ever. He sounds even more aggressive at age 60 here! There isn’t a bad song here. Near the end of the album you start to feel like maybe the album could have made even more of an impact if it had been 1-2 songs shorter, but what a minimal complaint that is! This is one of the definitive latter-day albums (though what is latter-day Motörhead? It sounds here like Lemmy truly will never stop – and I just listened to the band’s new single, Thunder and Lightning for the upcoming Bad Magic album – Lemmy is now 69 years old and this thought still appears to be true).

2008 – Motörizer 6/10

220px-Motorizer_coverI wasn’t sold on the first half of the album, but by the end of Motörizer’s last song, The Thousand Names Of God, I realized that Motörizer’s biggest flaw is its track order. Every Motörhead album has its classics, but I’d the issue here is that they just happen to be in the latter half of the album. Despite some routine tracks like One Short Life and the opening track Runaround Man, this one’s well-worth your time. The last 3 songs (Heroes, Time is Right and The Thousand Names Of God) are just epic, English Rose has a very memorable chorus and When The Eagle Screams has a great groove and single-handedly saves the first half of the record from being altogether forgettable.

2010 – The World Is Yöurs 7/10

220px-MotorheadworldisyoursThis one starts out with 3 absolutely killer songs: Born To Lose, I know How To Die, Get Back in Line: awesome. The rest of the album is uneven. Rock ‘n Roll Music is an honest testament to Lemmy’s love of rock ‘n roll, but I didn’t care much for the song despite its good intentions. The middle section here drags a bit, but Brotherhood of Man picks it up quite nicely, with its Orgasmatron-like (the song, not the album) style. Bye Bye Bitch Bye Bye made me realize that in Motörhead’s world, a breakup song is a feel-good song because it means Lemmy reclaims his freedom! (it also made me go back to Too Good To Be True from the March ör Die album, which I find is lyrically so unlike the band’s songs that I wish I could get further insight. I love that song.) This one is worth listening to for its first 3 songs alone, yet at its worst The World Is Yöurs is still extremely entertaining and rockin’. No small feat 20 albums into your career.

2013 – Aftershock  8/10

220px-Motörhead_AftershockAh, the beauty of editing. If this album ended at song number 10, Crying Shame, I’d give it a 9 without a doubt. The first 10 songs are just *awesome*. And with Lost Woman Blues and Dust And Glass, Lemmy’s letting his Blues flag wave, showing that after 35+ years, Motörhead can still surprise you. These are slower, gentler songs that somehow retain the feel and attitude we’ve come to expect from the band. It’s a brilliant album that ends with 4 songs that should have been bonus tracks or B-Sides, and not because they’re not good, but because the rest is so g-r-e-a-t. Like I said, I’d have given this a 9 or maybe even a 9.5 if the review was solely based on the first 10 tracks. It’s inspiring to know that a band can make such quality work 21 (studio) albums into its career, a real testament to its songwriting strength.

If you’ve taken the time to read all of this: Thank you. Doing this for 3 weeks straight was a real challenge!!

Special thanks to Alistair McIntosh.

Radio Cannon

Hey there

I should have written this update months ago, but I now write for www.radiocannon.com

My most recent article is an interview with Kyle Shutt of the awesome Austin, TX band The Sword. Check it out here.

I’ve just written an incredibly indulgent 2300 word essay on Lana Del Rey in Montreal too. Let’s see what happens with that. I’m not sure where it will be posted yet, but I guess if you mail me I can let you know once it happens, my young padawan.

I’ll be covering the Montreal Fringe Fest again this year, so check out the content on Radio Cannon for all music-related shows of the Fest, beginning June 2nd!

I may be covering extra shows on this website here, but for now I invite you to visit http://www.radiocannon.com, which was birthed as an offshoot of the now defunct music section of Midnight Poutine, which I used to write for. Same staff and we still love you.

Email: vdp.shawn@gmail.com for any questions/requests

Shawn

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Them Blue Midnights’ 20 Best Albums of 2013

A lot of good stuff came out this year, so let me add myself to a seemingly interminable amount of best-of 2013 lists appearing on our information superhighway.

What you’ll see, and you’ve seen in many lists, is the amount of great comeback records this year has produced. From Queens Of The Stone Age to Paul McCartney, there was something in the water this year.

Click on the band name/album title for a worthy youtube track. 

The list, in alphabetical order:

ASG – Blood Drive

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This band sounds like Jane’s Addiction meeting Kyuss, and I got hooked. At once atmospheric and driving, heavy and melodic, this is one of the best hard rock releases of the year.

Babyshambles – Sequel To The Prequel

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This was a breath of fresh air.  Pete Doherty wisely gave much space to his bandmates for the songwriting on this album, which carries none of the missteps of 2007’s darker ‘Shotter’s Nation’. So that was my summer album this year.

Bad Rabbits – American Love

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Now these dudes know how to do it. They remind you of Prince & The NPG without ever sounding nostalgic about it. While the album is a bit overproduced for my taste, I’ll take it: At the foundation is a band that plays their instruments like few bands do now and succulent songs lie underneath some of the synth-heavy moments. Also, check out their amazing cover of Smashing Pumpkins’ 1979

Black Sabbath – 13

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Black Sabbath returns with an album worthy of closing its legendary career, but get it on vinyl if you can: the cd/mp3 versions are over-compressed and miss the organic flow of some of the jams.

Bombino – Nomad

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The Niger-born guitarist employs The Black Keys’ Dan Auerbach as a producer and the result is a great jam record with nice touches on the instrumentation. Another definite summer record.

Charles Bradley – Victim Of Love

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The dude’s got soul. Released his first album at the age of 63, this, his second is simply the best soul album of the year, and is even produced like a 60s record: the drums are even channeled in 1-ear/mono! From the hurtin’ in ”Cryin’ In The Chapel” to what sounds like what would happen if James Brown were coked out of his mind writing about the state of the world in ”Confusion”, the guy’s got the sound, but most importantly, he’s got the songs.

Clutch – Earth Rocker

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Clutch returns and rocks your face off with rock. You can’t really ask for more out of life, and this album in particular finds the band more focused and heavy than it has been in years.

Daft Punk – Random Access Memories

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Everything has already been written about this record and I’m sure you’ve already read everything you need to know about except this: At a certain point, I drank beer and started dancing while tipsy in front of my cat while listening to this. I use the word dancing very, very loosely.

David Bowie – The Next Day

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Best album cover of all time or the worst? Better than Heathen? Will he ever tour again? Dunno, don’t care, this is pure Bowie and a very, very consistent album.

Ghost – Infestissumam

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One of my favourite bands of all time already, I think. Get the vinyl, it’s red and it’s real pretty. Check out the video I linked, it’s my contender for best video of the year, actually. It’s KISS if KISS was Mercyful Fate with an evil pope as a frontman and nameless ghouls as, shall we say, sidekicks. If you like your metal and you like a good pop song too, this band will more than do it for you. Show review can be found here.

Imaginary Cities – Fall Of Romance

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I don’t want to repeat myself and re-write an existing post, but this release is ridiculously under the radar and may actually be my favourite album of the year. If you haven’t heard this, please check it out and tell your friends/start a revolution. Check out my feature on this band here.

In Solitude – Sister

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This band sounds like mid 80s The Cult + Mother-era Danzig but then with some of the atmospherics of Sisters Of Mercy. In my ears at least. So there isn’t anything really not to like. Big drum sound + echo in voice makes you feel like this was actually released in 1985, without ever being tacky, so points for that. Another awesome metal release.

My Bloody Valentine – m b v

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Everything has already been written about this record and I’m sure you’ve already read everything you need to know about except this: At a certain point, I drank beer and started gazing at my shoes very intensely while this album played. Except I wasn’t wearing shoes, just socks.

Paul McCartney – NEW

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I was expecting a really generic album, to be honest, and instead McCartney writes a few songs that may actually be solo-career standouts. I guess I should have known better. He is Paul McCartney after all. A really fun album that finds some nice introspective lyrics at times from him. Not a dull track on there.

Philip H Anselmo & The Illegals – Walk Through Exits Only

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Phil Anselmo made an album of what can only be described as anti-music. In his mid-40s, the guy is still pushing the envolope for metal, because nothing I know of sounds like this. I think that for the metal genre, this is one of the most important releases of the year. Check out my show review here.

Queens Of The Stone Age – …Like Clockwork

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Like every QOTSA release, I didn’t really like it at first. But then, like every QOTSA release, after a few spins you start to get it, and you becoming gradually more and more obsessed with it. Worth all the praise and attention it got.

Sky Ferreira – Night Time, My Time

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Sky Ferreira‘s album will put you in the mood to have a night out as much as it will be the perfect soundtrack to going back home. It’s dancy, poppy, druggy, hazy and it has a style all of its own. She’s a great singer, a great songwriter, stylistically all over the place and I’m looking forward to hearing her next album because I have no idea what she’ll do next.

The Bronx – The Bronx (IV)

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The Bronx  started out more like a hardcore band, but every subsquent release finds them getting better at what they do without losing the initial edge and hunger they started out with, with an increased focus on songwriting.

The Growlers – Hung At Heart

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I looooove the Growlers. I think I saw them twice this year. An early 2013 release will not be an excuse of forgetfulness on my end, for the mighty Growlers have made their best album so far and deserve mighty mighty praise. They’re being written about in the same vein as bands like the Black Lips/nu-psychedelia, but there is much more than meets the eye with these guys.

Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats – Mind Control

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A lot of bands are currently trying to replicate the early-70s feel of Sabbath, but this band isn’t trying to do anything, this is just who they are. I dunno how you label this though: post proto-metal? No clue. You must give this album a listen. You must. MMMkay??

Review: I Went To The Wiggle Room And So Should You

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It’s a strange feeling, being nostalgic about an era you haven’t even lived in. You listen to those old records, watch the black and white movies, find it back in recent pop culture shows such as Boardwalk Empire and Mad Men, and if you’re like me, you think “Why can’t this still exist?”.  Speaking to The Wiggle Room’s general manager, Patrick Charron, it is evident that it can, and more & more, it does.

As Mr. Charron says, this current generation is seemingly getting tired of the fast food culture, and this is apparent in many aspects of today’s society. Think about it. More people are being interested in switching to homegrown, organic food. Fast food joints now have Salads as a big part of their menu. We’re becoming aware that quality beats quantity, and that taking your time to enjoy your meal, your drink, your music, is important (an understatement in itself).

And this brings me to The Wiggle Room (3874 St-Laurent), a brand new Montreal nightclub that looks so vintage you’ll want to spell it Niteclub and call it a swell joint. The 70 capacity room offers nightly entertainment, ranging from Burlesque shows to live music to comedy. The official website is still in the works, so for more information I suggest you click here.

I walked in on a wednesday night, and was immediately transported: the look of the place is a spectacle in itself. Leather seats, dim lights, dark brick walls partially covered by purple curtains. No expense was spared and this is clearly go-for-broke stuff. In the middle, round wooden rustic tables and chairs just begging to be removed so folks can take advantage of the dance floor. There is a mini-theatre-like hollow stage, and, you guessed it, a red curtain.

I sat down and Mr. Charron presented the drinks menu to me, explaining: “Here, you’ll pay a bit more for a drink. But we make sure we get all the best ingredients, and we make you the real deal. No cheap rum and coke stuff. Here, you’ll get the level of alcohol the drink demands and we don’t cheapen it”. Drinks presented include Daiquiris, Manhattans, Old Fashioned, Gin Fizz… And I was curious to see if paying 12$ for a Daiquiry was indeed worth the money Mr. Charron said it was. First impression was it was properly served in a chilled cocktail glass and instead of garnishing it with the lime on the side, a lime spiral was inserted in the drink. Nice. The drink itself was mixed to perfection, with just the right amount of simple syrup to balance the sourness of the lime. The rum, a white Havana club, was as clear a taste as its non-alcoholic ingredients: not something you find in most Montreal bars. This was indeed the proper proportion, and in the most simplistic terms it was a strong drink, as it should be. The 12$ is justified: you usually pay 6-7$ for a cheap rum and coke in Montreal bars. If you need to drown out your sorrows at The Wiggle Room, at the end of the night you’ll probably pay a little bit more than you usually would, but at least you’ll have had a good quality drink. And I have to applaud our lovely waitress, I believe named Tamara, who provided as high quality of a service as the bar itself.

Next, the show began. Sultry piano/jazz duo Beth McKenna (Tenor Sax) and Ian Bartczak (dressed in proper ‘40s attire) performed songs old and new, from All That Jazz, to a scorching version of La Vie En Rose, to Just A Gigolo, and even Christina Aguilera’s hit, Beautiful (and it was so good that you don’t dare simply call it ironic). The acoustics of the room provide a gentle echo that elevates the quality of the music. Quick comedic snippets in between songs finalized the thought that you were watching an authentic cabaret show.  I have a feeling that The Wiggle Room will be known to be as important for its atmosphere as for its high quality shows.

While the band took a short break after the first set ended, I couldn’t resist ordering my favorite drink, a Manhattan. I know I should have stuck to rum-based drinks, but I couldn’t resist. To put you into context, I once had to explain to a local barman how to make a Manhattan after ordering it. But this one was as good as the best Manhattans I’ve ever had. Just the right amount of Angostura bitters (some bars don’t have bitters at all), and again, this was a “real” drink: strong, tasty and fresh.  Now, I wouldn’t really mention going to the bathroom, but seeing that the attention to detail went through even its look, you’ll be quick to notice the vintage looking toilets and sinks, almost giving the place a late 1920’s feel. Then you get back to the main room and it hits you: this place is just beautiful.

But it’s not for everyone: it’s a place that encourages you to take your time and even dress the part. As Charron stated, “Someone with a T-shirt and baseball cap can walk in, and that’s fine, but might feel out of place.” What I got out of The Wiggle Room was (and yes, I wore a suit) just how quickly this place made me decompress. When you have all the right elements: look, comfort, quality, entertainment, you realize what a lack of it presented itself to you in your nightlife. You can just take it easy and relax. Or don’t. Dance if you want to. The choice is yours and no judgment shall be made against you. It has a very anything goes feel, despite its intimidating at-first-glance impression. Where nostalgia often dwells in kitsch, The Wiggle Room vies for authenticity and class as opposed to tackiness.

And that’s all I’m gonna say about it, because the rest is up to you to discover.

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The Wiggle Room is located at 3874 Blvd. St-Laurent and is open 7pm to 3am Tues-Sun.  Phone: (514) 508-9465 Email: jeremy@wiggleroom.ca

From the press release:

”Welcome to Montreal’s brand-spanking-new burlesque and variety destination. Located in the heart of Montreal’s notorious St. Laurent Boulevard, The Wiggle Room is the bootleg baby of this city’s bawdy family tree. Born out of a desire to bring a traditional vaudeville spirit back to the street that was once known as Montreal’s ‘hardened artery’, The Wiggle Room is committed to providing high quality live shows six nights a week.

On the seventh we rest… if there is any rest for the wicked!”

Review: Philip H. Anselmo & The Illegals @ Heavy Mtl Aug. 11 2013

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The final guttural growl emerges from the beast that is Phil Anselmo right before the song ends. He is performing one of the 8 songs that appear on his very first solo album, Walk Through Exits Only with his new backing band, The Illegals.  We’ve just heard some of the most brutal, extreme and difficult music to have ever graced the stage of Heavy Mtl, with no head left unbanged (Yes, that is a new word) and now that the song has ended we find Anselmo, in no shortage of breath talking about…middle age. In a self-deprecating, funny way.

Today, we find a sober-looking albeit beer-swigging Phil Anselmo having fun and, quite honestly, surprising us with a ridiculous amount of charisma. He’s cleaned up long ago, he’s cleaned up his image, and he’s hungry for what seems to be a rebirth of some sorts. It isn’t that he has not been active since the Pantera days – his band Down has recently released The Purple EP, and in the early  00’s he kept busy with the ever-aggressive Superjoint Ritual.  But it is clear that right now Phil Anselmo is doing what he wants to be doing (as he should), and what he wants to be doing, musically or otherwise is what most of us have not been expecting. He’s not too busy revisiting the Pantera classics (at least, as far as this show proved). We had the cutup of Domination/Hollow as you can find it on Pantera‘s Official Live: 101 Proof album, but otherwise this 45 minute set was purely focused on Philip H. Anselmo & The Illegals material. It should be noted that he’s also been busy founding his own record label, Housecore Records and October 24-27 will see the inauguration of the first ever Housecore Horror Film Festival. Pretty cool stuff.

This was my first time seeing Phil (yep, I call him by his first name). Phil’s been around for a very long time in my life, starting at the age of 12 when I first discovered Cowboys From Hell. 15 years later, I finally get to see him live, after years of watching live clips from dvds or youtube. That’s great, but then what do you get when you finally get to see a metal legend when said legend is now at a musical age where so many dwell in a comfort zone? I didn’t really know. I mean, I’d read reviews and comments of this tour, and they were generally positive. Well, I will say, even though I’ll sound like a tired old cliché, that I wasn’t expecting something this good. His stage presence is as commanding as anything I’ve ever seen, his band is musically ridiculously tight and technically proficient – this is another thing that could have fallen flat, with the amount of time signature changes each song has, and Anselmo’s voice itself sounds as aggressive as it’s ever been.

Here’s the thing about his current project: Your mind is used to the 4/4 metal breakdowns and song structures, even if only subconsciously, so when the band somehow switches it up to one of its many odd time signatures, you’re not seeing it coming. You’re just not used to it. You get locked in a groove and then suddenly, bang, another part abruptly starts. It makes the entire band sound insanely heavier, as a result. I have to admit that on record it’s hard to digest at first, but I guess it’s designed to be that way. When you see it live it’s very different, somehow. It’s like you “get” it. It’s in your face and you can’t help but go along with it.  I was grinning while headbanging for 45 minutes, and judging from the crowd I wasn’t the only one. I even saw all 4 members of Godsmack by the side of the stage for the entire duration of the show, smiling from ear to ear. They weren’t just smiling with empathy at Phil Anselmo’s lyrics (How’s about “It’s ruined/Everybody ruins music/Not just me” or “Rant with me/Rant!/And I’ll slip/And shake/then slip/And stick/Let them fall on their asses/With a fist and a fuck you/Rant!”), they, Godsmack, were just smiling with admiration. I saw Shannon Larkin, a super-influencial drummer, grinning at what the Illegals’ drummer Joe Gonzalez was playing – I mean, he makes it look so damn easy. The entire band does. I swear I even saw a glimpse of Rob Zombie taking a picture by the side of the stage (I may be wrong, as tall dudes with dreads and beards often look like Rob Zombie).

You see, by making an album void of first-listen noticeable melodies, Anselmo shows at what point a lot of metal right now is in a safe and repetitive state.  He’s pointing out a problem by showing a solution. He isn’t saying all metal should sound like what he’s doing, but he’s showing that there are still ways to make it sound fresh, which in itself is innovative. I believe this album, Walk Through Exits Only, will be regarded as quite influential in a few years time. I believe this tour proves that although you don’t see him jumping around anymore, Anselmo can still show you how it’s done. That’s important for a style of music that is so physically demanding. The ” I can’t see myself doing this at 50” argument has now been completely rendered false, and that selfishly gives me hope that some of my favorite metal bands right now will still be around in 20 years, cranking out albums and touring.

I don’t think this is lost on Anselmo. His new album is often about music, or the state of music. Even though he is a household name in the world of metal, the massive fan he is deep down shows someone trying to keep a style of music close to his heart very much alive and well – and most importantly, honest. Second best thing to watching this live? Watching Phil Anselmo watching Mastodon by the side of the stage live. See Phil geeking out by playing air guitar, air drums, headbanging, singing along while making stage moves. That was in itself worth the price of admission alone. They don’t nickname him “The Kid” for nothing.

And there you have it: the show, like the album itself is uncompromising, extreme, vulgar (he doesn’t just spit on stage, but snots too! Hits himself on the forehead with the mic and bleeds!) but it’s also very smart, and very true and not without a sense of humor. It’s not always the case that, after seeing the show, you really want to listen to the album again. It’s even rarer that on top of this, you feel like after seeing the show you will understand the album better.

Job well done, sir.