Grunge out

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Released on DVD today (!) is the long overdue biopic on one of the most important bands of the ‘90s, I’m Now: The Story of Mudhoney (MVD). Directors Adam Pease and Ryan Short certainly had their work cut out for them, as the band has almost no drama attached to their story at all. Sure, singer Mark Arm briefly flirted with smack and has a rocky relationship with Courtney Love, but Pease and Short find pretty much no dirt on this band — and they don’t really need to. The result is a full-length feature that focuses exclusively on the music, perseverance, history and the band’s galvanized friendship.

Perhaps Mudhoney’s whole legacy can be summed up perfectly by Arm’s statement to the camera: “If you aren’t playing music for yourself and doing it for an audience, you’re fucked.”

The film features the usual suspects of Seattle talking heads, including producer Jack Endino, members of Soundgarden, Pearl Jam and Clawhammer and the Sub Pop staff, but ultimately this flick remains squeaky clean, as the vintage and current live footage essentially tells the whole story. If “grunge” has left a bad taste in your mouth (and it should have), do yourself a favour and give Mudhoney’s Blue Cheer/Stooges-fuelled debut single, “Touch Me I’m Sick,” and their debut EP, Superfuzz Bigmuff, on repeated spins and thank me later.

The gigs that have all the kids talkin’:

Wednesday – Metal fans are not going to want to miss a chance to see one of Norway’s epic black metal (almost) first-wave pioneers Enslaved when they obliterate Foufs with ample support from Royal Thunder, Pallbearer and Ancient Vvisdom. For those of you who like their metal a little blackened, frostbitten and grim, you should also be scrolling down to the Sunday section of this little ol’ column. Do it!

Thursday – Improv pianist Charity Chan is certainly one of the most prolific artists in our burg, with a rash of shows happening over the past couple of months as well as collaborating on two shows happening this week. Chan joins forces with improvisational dancer Andrew Harwood for an evening running under the title of Cage’d. Chan and Harwood will tackle selections from John Cage’s piece written for prepared piano “Sonatas and Interludes” at Maison de la Culture Plateau Mont-Royal. The ivories start getting tickled at 8 p.m.

For a night of sonic exploration through circuit bending and other forms of musical mischief, you can go down to the basement of the Thomson House at 8 p.m. to catch Terrarbor, Crawford Smith, Silk Statue and thee CKUT Circuit Workshop. Best of all, it’s free.

One of my favourite power-poppers/rockers in the city, Dead Messenger, launch their sophomore effort, Recharger, at l’Esco with sideshow shenanigans from Atom Balm and the punk rock of Irish Nails.

If you missed last week’s secret Suuns gig at Turbo Haus, you can catch the Andi State-directed tour doc Suuns Europe 2011 at the Plant at 9 p.m. Their new record is dropping next month — get psyched.

Friday – The local promoter with the heart of gold, Passovah Productions, turns five at Il Motore, and their bill is stacked to the tits. Expect short sets from Miracle Fortress, Young Galaxy, Valleys, How Sad, Caroline Keating, Holobody, Adam Kinner with DJ World Peace spinning all night.

I’ve yammered on a bunch about local psych-punk band Pypy in previous columns, but safe to say, they are easily one of Montreal’s greatest new live bands happening right now. Unfortunately, Pypy have also fallen victim to thieves and are getting some shows under their belt to help generate some money to replace missing equipment. Helping them get some dough at l’Esco will be UBT’s Mikey Heppner, FUBAR’s Deaner, Ottawa psych-punks Holy Cobras, Taylor Hoodlum Stevenson and AIDS Wolf’s Maji. This will pack up quick, so better get there early.

Constellation Records’ Pacha will be blowing minds at Casa. Headed up by New Brunswick percussionist/keyboardist Pierre Guy Blanchard, you can expect a night that delves deep into left-of-centre beats and Middle Eastern and Balkan modes. Also playing in Pacha is Charity Chan (synth), les Momies de Palerme’s Xarah Dion (synth, organ), Julie Houle (treated tuba), Jerusalem in My Heart’s Radwan Ghazi Moumneh (synth, bouzouk) and Jérémi Roy (bass, guitar, synth).

For you prog heads who endured the three-plus hours of the last Uli Roth show, you can catch ex-Mars Volta/At the Drive-In’s six-string slinger Omar Rodriguez Lopez and his group Bosnian Rainbows at Cabaret Mile End. Opening is Marriages.

Saturday – It’s “grrrls night” at l’Hemisphère Gauche, with la Showbox presenting the Horny Bitches, Machinegun Suzie and the Bombs.

At la Brique, you can catch a tribute to Bérurier Noir with Macadam Massacre and the power electronics of Selfish Implosions, Oppression, Demi-Mal and the industrial beat-down of Citizen.

For a guaranteed great night, head down to le Bleury Bar à Vinyle to catch the longstanding and often transient Pressure Drop. Hosted by DJs Mossman, Aaron Maiden and Howard “Stretch” Carr, this will be a killer night of dusty vinyl sides featuring the most crucial mixes of rock steady, blue beat, dub, roots reggae and classic ska.

My big pick of the week is, oddly enough, in the pop vein, with Toronto’s By Divine Right
pulling into Lambi with Cousins. The well-crafted pop on 2009’s Mutant Message is indeed glimmering, but if you really want to fill your ear canals with complete pop bliss, hunt down a copy of their 1997 debut release All Hail Discordia. For my duckets, this highly unsung record can easily go toe to toe with Teenage Fanclub’s Bandwagonesque as one of the best straight-ahead power pop records of the ’90s. If you dig perfectly crafted pop, you cannot miss this gig.

Sunday – For a night of post-punk, punk and shoe-grunge (?), you can check out Loosestrife, Debt and Dopplebanger at Studio Migration.

If you’re doing cartwheels about the Enslaved show on Wednesday, you definitely have to make it down to Club Soda on the Sabbath to catch black metal legends Marduk when they pull into town on the Voices From the Dark tour. Adding further ballast to this night of heaviosity is Moonspell, Inquisition, the Foreshadowing and Death Wolf. ■

Current obsession: Xasthur, Subliminal Genocide
Jonathan.cummins@gmail.com

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