Les Sequelles performing as part of Bring 'em on in with DJs gedge and Bond at Sneaky Dee's (431 College), Friday (April 22). $5. www.bringemonin.com. Rating: NNNNN
At a time when the music world has gone 80s crazy and many U.S. truckstops still serve "freedom fries" with burgers, Les Séquelles' release of a 60s-style freakbeat album is kinda like showing up at a formal affair wearing shorts. Make that lederhosen.
That Les Séquelles' self-released Tes Chansons Cruelles (just picked up by Dionysis) is the Montreal hipsters' most accomplished work - moving into harder-swinging ye-ye pop and even psychedelia - seems to make no difference to the majority of trend-conscious radio programmers and music writers who are quick to shrug it off as more retro redundancy.
But if revivalism were the problem, there likely wouldn't be nearly as many groups cashing in on the throwback sound of Gang of Four, Talking Heads and Public Image Ltd. Les Séquelles guitarist Daniel Fiocco believes it's more a matter of hyphenation.
"The popular trend is to mix as many different styles as possible into some new hybrid," explains Fiocco during his lunch break in Montreal. "So when you see someone from a trendy band being interviewed and they're asked what style of music they play, it might take them half an hour to try to explain it - if they can answer the question at all.
"It seems like it's no longer acceptable to play music of a specific style unless you're a metal band. You need to show off the influence of many different styles on what you do. I think that's why music critics are so harsh on people who play ska, or any specific style of music really. People say, 'Why don't you add some electronics?' Why?"
Judging by the instrumental track Nympholie - featuring a swank raga-style sitar part played by Emmanuel Càté - Les Séquelles have no qualms about cross-cultural dabbling, at least provided that the mixing and matching remain within the context of their definition of freakbeat.
"I don't have any problem with artists experimenting with different sounds. They should. I just can't understand why people have such a difficult time understanding or appreciating the music made by artists who choose not to follow the popular trend.
"I don't see the music we're making as being retro - not at all. We're not modelling ourselves after any particular band from the past - we're writing original songs that have been inspired by all the music we listen to from the 50s right up until today.
"And we're writing more songs every week," chuckles Fiocco, "so we're not worried about running out of new material in the style we play."