Three-day outdoor music festival Osheaga is fast approaching, August 2-4, with a line-up of big-name-of-the-moment bands – Mumford & Sons, Phoenix,Vampire Weekend, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, The Cure, New Order, and, oh, about a hundred more. Since Montreal is known for its innovative indie-rock talents, among those many bands are a number of Montrealers – here are 10 totally worth checking out…
Majical Cloudz consistently sweep listeners up in their emotional performances. Singer Devon Welsh is intense in his delivery, his lyrics layered in synth noise and punctuated by jazz-like drum beats courtesy of the other half of the duo, Matthew Otto. At Osheaga, Majical Cloudz play songs from their new album Impersonator, songs that even when quiet have great magnitude to them, with a magnitude of sounds that are sure to fill the stage.
Stars – so well-known in Canada that their distinctive electro-rock sound has spurred countless, often extremely worthy imitators – share their time between Montreal, Toronto and elsewhere, but since they often call Montreal home, we’ll continue to claim them. And, after all, their latest video, for “Dead Hearts” is all Montreal, all the time. Their shows in the past few years have been packed with enthusiasm and heart-felt gratitude for fans new and old.
A Tribe Called Red, a much-loved Montreal-Ottawa hip-hop phenomenon and the creators of “pow wow-step,” brings together performers DJ Shub, DJ NDN and Bear Witness, who blend First Nations music with powerful rap, danceable and wild electronic beats, and abundant personality.
We Are Wolves sounds much like their name, a little mystical, a little scary, with primal elements and grinding guitar sounds. The trio makes post-punk for the post-millennial world, a sound that while different from a lot of Osheaga offerings, suits the weekend just right.
Groenland has a way with orchestral-electronic pop and soaring vocals. The six-piece band has the power to move from mellow moments to foot-stomping and roof-raising within seconds. Rich Aucoin, an exuberant Eastcoast one-man party, who also plays Osheaga this year, even remixes one of their latest songs, so you know they’re the real deal.
Loud Lary Ajust rap in their own, bilingual, true-to-Montreal style – and they even have a name for their way of being in the world: Gullywood, where high-class meets (self-declared) trash. Controversial, underground, made-in-Quebec hip hop that’s well worth seeing live.
Misteur Valaire makes music for parties, really good parties, populated by dancing, smiling, happy people. The five Sherbroke-based band members have known each other since they were kids, so it’s no surprise that their genre-crossing music holds together the way it does. Elements of rock, pop, jazz and hip hop fuse together in a frenzy of synths, drums and even a brass section.
Humans gets the Osheaga crowds dancing on the Piknic Électronik stage on Saturday. The Montreal-Vancouver duo doesn’t use the latest in new technology to make their smooth-yet-grunged-up ‘80s new-wave sound, and they don’t need it – their music builds to anthemic levels as it is.
Les Soeurs Bolay make music driven straight from the heart. Harmonizing vocals while strumming away on guitars, the two real-life sisters are at times soulfully country and in other moments channel the chamber-pop of Belle and Sebastian and the somber sound of Nick Drake. Whatever mode Les Soeurs Bolay are in, their music is easy to fall in love with.
Holerado makes fun, hard-rocking pop-punk, and though they no longer live in Montreal, they made great musical strides here, playing with Montreal bands The Stills and Malajube. Their departure still feels recent, and Jack White chose them himself to open for his band The Dead Weather, so we’re still calling Hollerado our own.
And, as a bonus, a shout-out to Ponctuation, a Quebec City garage-rock duo whose new album, 27 Club, was recorded and mixed at Montreal recording studio Hotel2Tango. Loud and study rhythms, grunge-inspired vocals, and aggressive guitar riffs make them an Osheaga must-see.
Osheaga, August 2-4, 2013