-->
Music

Montag: Going Places

Antoine Bedard's sophisticated electronic compositions provide more than meets the ear.


Montag

Going Places

Label: Carpark
US Release Date: 2007-06-05
UK Release Date: 2007-06-18
Amazon
iTunes

A glue stick. A can of paint. Acrylic. Some yarn. A few Scrabble pieces. Clothespins. The cover of Montag’s sophomore effort, Going Places, may as well be the desk drawer of any grade-school art teacher. But with over a half dozen featured contributors, not to mention samples taken from an open call to fans, no other album cover this year properly conveys the collaborative spirit of its featured artist.

The obvious reference point for most listeners coming in to Going Places would be the work of Jimmy Tamborello. Falling between his more abstract constructions as Dntel and the straight-up pop vibe of the Postal Service, Going Places is easily Montag’s most accessible album to date. While his previous album Alone, Not Alone was a solid effort, it seemed to consciously subverted any clear-eyed, melodic songwriting. Whatever reservations Antoine Bedard may have had about embracing pop structures full-on, he has cast them aside here, as Going Places is his most assured and accomplished work to date.

As on his previous disc, Montag gets by with a little help of his friends. The disc kicks off, with the soaring, sweeping statement, “I Have Sound”. Thus it’s no surprise that Anthony Gonzales of M83 -- no stranger to widescreen compositions himself -- guests on vocals and keyboards. Dramatic in scope for the first three quarters of the song, Montag finally reveals his true self -- glitchy and buoyant -- in the track’s final moments, which wonderfully set up the first song proper, and one of the few without a guest, “Best Boy Electric”. Here the strengths of Bedard’s skills as a writer and composer come to the fore. He is remarkably adept at balancing the twee nature of his voice and snappy beats with clever movements and sly maneuvers around typical song structures. Indeed, the word “soundscape” is often bandied about when discussing Montag’s works, and “322 Water”, featuring Ida Nilsen, easily fits into that category. A gently building and undulating track, it keeps Nilsen and Bedard’s slight voices in the centre as the synths, blips and strings swell wonderfully around them. At other times, a traditionally built song like “Safe In Sound”, featuring Amy Millan’s always excellent vocals, highlights Bedard’s ability to navigate this terrain and make it his own with truly original electronic sculptures. There are so many little details coming at you it’s easy to forget that the song itself is, when stripped to the bone, fairly straightforward.

The only time Montag stumbles are on the overt attempts at more avant garde songs. “Hi-5 Au DJ” is oddly tedious, though the typical musical ingredientsare present. There is something about the stuttering progression that makes the song somewhat of a chore to sit through. Likewise, the self-described “man-on-man opera” “Softness, I Forgot Your Name” with Owen Pallett doesn’t excite or romance the way one would hope. But these moments don’t last long, and as the disc opened large, it ends large too. The closing title track assembles seventy odd samples taken from an open call and uses every one of them. But it once again speaks to Bedard’s exceptional ear and careful consideration that it doesn’t come off like a parlor trick. Indeed, “Going Places” -- both the song and the album -- highlight the talents of a remarkably humble and low-key innovator. While his songs may on the surface appear as little more than electronic trifles, once you bite in, it’s the filling that truly surprises.

7
Music

The Best Indie Rock of 2017

Photo courtesy of Matador Records

The indie rock genre is wide and unwieldy, but the musicians selected here share an awareness of one's place on the cultural-historical timeline.

Indie rock may be one of the most fluid and intangible terms currently imposed upon musicians. It holds no real indication of what the music will sound like and many of the artists aren't even independent. But more than a sonic indicator, indie rock represents a spirit. It's a spirit found where folk songsters and punk rockers come together to dialogue about what they're fed up with in mainstream culture. In so doing they uplift each other and celebrate each other's unique qualities.

With that in mind, our list of 2017's best indie rock albums ranges from melancholy to upbeat, defiant to uplifting, serious to seriously goofy. As always, it's hard to pick the best ten albums that represent the year, especially in such a broad category. Artists like King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard had a heck of a year, putting out four albums. Although they might fit nicer in progressive rock than here. Artists like Father John Misty don't quite fit the indie rock mold in our estimation. Foxygen, Mackenzie Keefe, Broken Social Scene, Sorority Noise, Sheer Mag... this list of excellent bands that had worthy cuts this year goes on. But ultimately, here are the ten we deemed most worthy of recognition in 2017.

Keep reading... Show less

From genre-busting electronic music to new highs in the ever-evolving R&B scene, from hip-hop and Americana to rock and pop, 2017's music scenes bestowed an embarrassment of riches upon us.


60. White Hills - Stop Mute Defeat (Thrill Jockey)

White Hills epic '80s callback Stop Mute Defeat is a determined march against encroaching imperial darkness; their eyes boring into the shadows for danger but they're aware that blinding lights can kill and distort truth. From "Overlord's" dark stomp casting nets for totalitarian warnings to "Attack Mode", which roars in with the tribal certainty that we can survive the madness if we keep our wits, the record is a true and timely win for Dave W. and Ego Sensation. Martin Bisi and the poster band's mysterious but relevant cool make a great team and deliver one of their least psych yet most mind destroying records to date. Much like the first time you heard Joy Division or early Pigface, for example, you'll experience being startled at first before becoming addicted to the band's unique microcosm of dystopia that is simultaneously corrupting and seducing your ears. - Morgan Y. Evans

Keep reading... Show less
Music

The Best Country Music of 2017

still from Midland "Drinkin' Problem" video

There are many fine country musicians making music that is relevant and affecting in these troubled times. Here are ten of our favorites.

Year to year, country music as a genre sometimes seems to roll on without paying that much attention to what's going on in the world (with the exception of bro-country singers trying to adopt the latest hip-hop slang). That can feel like a problem in a year when 58 people are killed and 546 are injured by gun violence at a country-music concert – a public-relations issue for a genre that sees many of its stars outright celebrating the NRA. Then again, these days mainstream country stars don't seem to do all that well when they try to pivot quickly to comment on current events – take Keith Urban's muddled-at-best 2017 single "Female", as but one easy example.

Keep reading... Show less

It's ironic that by injecting a shot of cynicism into this glorified soap opera, Johnson provides the most satisfying explanation yet for the significance of The Force.

Despite J.J. Abrams successfully resuscitating the Star Wars franchise with 2015's Star Wars: The Force Awakens, many fans were still left yearning for something new. It was comforting to see old familiar faces from a galaxy far, far away, but casual fans were unlikely to tolerate another greatest hits collection from a franchise already plagued by compositional overlap (to put it kindly).

Keep reading... Show less
7

Yeah Yeah Yeahs played a few US shows to support the expanded reissue of their debut Fever to Tell.

Although they played a gig last year for an after-party for a Mick Rock doc, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs hadn't played a proper NYC show in four years before their Kings Theatre gig on November 7th, 2017. It was the last of only a handful of gigs, and the only one on the East coast.

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image