Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Os Mutantes, Plaza Musique, Echo Kitty, Automelodi

There are always about six or seven shows during Pop Montreal that I've marked down as must-sees (and generally end up missing, or just having enough time to catch two or three songs - sigh), and that's certainly the case this year. Matt & Kim? Okay, no. I've never even heard a Matt & Kim song but something about their promo pictures has always prevented me from investigating any further. I find it hard to believe they're not secretly from a Vancouver suburb and that half of their stage banter involves thanking their show promoters for baking them vegan brownies.

Os Mutantes in younger, witchier times

But yes, Os Mutantes. Os Mutantes are, of course, the Brazilian founders of the Tropicalia movement whose influence has been felt far & wide since forming in 1968. There have been numerous line-up changes since that time, of course, but with a new album Haih or Amortecedor on Anti (that seems to be mostly about geopolitics - uh, okay), it should be more than a greatest hits performance. The production is remarkably faithful to the jazz-inflected sounds of years past, although I think sometimes the songs veer into (gasp) Jethro Tull territory. The excesses of youth magnified by the indulgence of age.

Plaza Musique at Francofolies 2009

But actually, what I'm most looking forward to on that bill is seeing Montreal's Plaza Musique. I missed them during their performance at Francofolies earlier in the summer (pictured above), and their tasteful & smooth baroque space pop, with its requisite homages to the better retro-futuristic work of Air or Stereolab. ( It wouldn't be out of place on soundtrack to Roman Coppola's CQ.)

M. Paradis

Plaza Musique recorded their new EP with Xavier Paradis (formerly of Echo Kitty, currently of Automelodi, and ocasionally known as Arnaud Lazlaud). If there's anyone in Montreal with a better ear for the textures and sounds of the early days of synthesizers & new-wave pop who is also blessed with the ability to write a great hook, I've yet to find her or him. The most obvious touch-point for a poor observer of Francophone music such as myself with Echo Kitty is Indochine, but it's deeper than that. (I'm unschooled in chanson fran├žaise, alas.) Visit Automelodi's Myspace page, buy the EP, see them live.

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