M for Montreal offers another late festival-season look at fresh young musicians still looking to make those key business relationships while showcasing a bit of what they have to offer to local fans. As opposed to its sister festival and world music showcase Mundial (which runs almost concurrently with M), M has more of a kinship with POP Montreal, with an eclectic mix of indie-isms ranging from jangly rock to dream pop and the capability to put on huge productions alongside 30-minute bursts of potential. Noise kings Death Grips rolled through in 2012, Mac Demarco reared his twangy irreverence in 2013 and Grimes took a victory lap at Metropolis post-2015’s Art Angels.
Check out what we’ll be bragging about come 2020:
Club Soda, Friday
On their debut album, Alvvays showcased their uncanny ability to bust guts with killer hooks. “Archie, Marry Me” may still have the most staying power for the band, but this year’s output showcases potential for more fleshed-out albums. Single “In Undertow” continued their streak of dreary anthems, whereas “Plimsoll Punks” turned the energy up higher than it’s ever been. Having toured the world a few times over they’re certainly not getting things started for themselves at M, but they’re sure to pack a well-practised punch with tunes old and new.
Casa del Popolo, Friday
Partner’s live sets produce pure fun of the highest order. Having described themselves as post-classic-rock, the band showcases a bit of AC/DC guitar shredding alongside ’90s dirt-bag lyrics about getting high, watching dance moms and utilizing their licene to chill. Josée Caron and Lucy Niles provide a chemistry that only BFF’s could as they both command the microphone. Besides their loveable stage banter and more boisterous songs, the pair’s more serious side sees them finding solidarity in the darker side of the queer experience. A fresh revitalization of pure rock through a campier lens.
Quai des Brumes, Saturday
Vancouver’s the Courtneys display a similar sense of humour to Partner —“vampire teenage boyfriend” they cathartically chant into their hazy guitar void on the seven-minute-long jam “Lost Boys.” They’re not going to rear lightning bolts of guitar soloing, however, instead finding energy with a speedier approach to some of that cloudy shoegazing mystique. Expect perfect punching hooks and joyous fuzz tone.
DPD#MTL.08 – Good Will Come To You (Un Blonde)
Never Apart, Saturday
Also akin to POP is M’s love for events that stretch beyond a normal collage of bands. Saturday afternoon sees a deep dive into Un Blonde’s album Good Will Come to You. The event will first feature a listening party of the album — an intimate 21 tracks with brilliantly lush production cushioning Jean-Sebastian Audet’s emotive voice — followed by a discussion between Audet and music scene veteran Nick Schofield about the process behind it. Songwriters looking for inspiration and listeners looking for something casual can unite behind this free event.
Montreal with Attitude: Del the Funky Homosapien, Lou Phelps, Cadence Weapon, Clairmont the Second, Flawless Gretzky, Mike Shabb, Kevin Na$h, Wordup! Battles, Fouki
Cabaret du Casino de Montréal, Friday
If you’re looking to go off-campus, the Casino sees a rapper’s delight on Friday evening. With long-time road warrior Del the Funky Homosapien wielding his larger than life personality in the headliner slot, the packed set of openers features some of Canada’s best. Kaytranada’s more lyrically proficient brother Lou Phelps brings a soulful tinge, Clairmont the Second’s steadfast bass lines complement colourfully hard-lined bars and Flawless Gretzky presents giant melodic beats and fist-to-the-face delivery.
Deradoorian, Vesuvio Solo, Best Fern
La Vitrola, Saturday
Deradoorian has a resume for the ages. A former member of Dirty Projectors, she’s come into contact with weirdoes Bjork, Matmos and Flying Lotus and monolithic bands Vampire Weekend and the Roots. Combined with dreamy locals Best Fern and Vesuvio Solo, the night follows a bit of a slow, wavering electronic theme, each group inspiring grooves sure to fester into emotionally charged climaxes.
Security, Blanka, Freak Heatwaves, Ellise Barbara (DJ Set)
Casa Del Popolo, Saturday
Opposite Deradoorian’s dreamy soundscape is a collection of bands that pack a bit more violence into their sparse electronic grooves. Out of Victoria, Freak Heat Waves combine patient interludes and lyrically driven industrial masses. Local’s Blanka intersperse retro sampling into their mean, gothy sound world. Ellise Barabara’s dance party is sure to be the perfect nightcap. ■
M for Montreal runs from Nov. 15 to 20. For the full festival program, see the M website.