If you haven't heard of FRIGS, The Garrys and Lisa LeBlanc, now you know
By Matt Williams
Nov 22, 2016
The 11th edition of M for Montreal stormed the streets of Quebec’s hippest city last week, and there were more than a few acts that caught our attention. Here are the most exciting Canadian artists from the fest to keep on your music radar.
FRIGS isn’t exactly an unknown band back here in their hometown, but the way they’ve grown, both live and on record, in the past little while, is worth noting. A smattering of Toronto bands took over the second level of a dingy strip club last Thursday night, which proved the perfect venue for FRIGS’ brooding, semi-demented clash of noisy post-punk and dense grunge. After a set of deeply intense, anxiety-ridden tunes, singer Bria Salmena upped the ante even more with a vicious, throat-shredding jaunt into the crowd. She’s been a force to reckon with way before the four-piece dropped the ‘dirty’ from their moniker, but her performance here was a sign that it’s only going to get better.
This trio of sisters from the Prairies – Erica, Julie, and Lenore Maier – play a dreamy combo of old-time rock ’n’ roll, surf and a sound they’ve described as “doom-wop.” Beneath the red-washed lights of L’Escogriffe, their live act was pretty minimal, but the mix of ‘60s melodies with just a touch of darkness made the set a hypnotic experience. They put out their debut full-length, Warm Buds, in May, and it’s packed with simple drum beats, no more than three or four chords per song and reverb-soaked harmonies. Their final cut at their show, though, was a new one: loud, psychedelic and more than convincing enough to keep an eye out for their next release.
Taking the stage after The Garrys was Silver Dapple, a fuzz-pop four-piece who are just as dreamy as they are loud. Armed with a pretty heavy shoegaze influence on top of those obvious pop sensibilities, Silver Dapple can inch into muscled-up guitar hooks too, creating a bit of a perfect storm of fun rock ’n’ roll, but can also pull out the downer (in a good, doomy kind of way!) tunes imbued with dissonant vocals. The band’s last release was a 2014 EP named I HATE MY BIRTHDAY, but just last month they put out a single named VALLEY, which hints at a bit of a darker sound, switching on a dime from spiralling six-string lines to warped chords and then into one of those gorgeous, poppy choruses.
You’d be hard-pressed to find a music fan in Quebec who hasn’t heard of Lisa LeBlanc. Her popularity outside of la belle province is nothing to sneeze at either, but should be bolstered by her most recent release, Why You Wanna Leave, Runaway Queen? The majority of the vivid “folk trash” tunes are written in English, and come closer to capturing her live show’s incredible energy than her previous records. At the Matahari Loft, LeBlanc showed off all her tricks over a short set, with delicate love songs (5748 km), fiery, foot-stomping, folk rock (I Love You, I Don’t Love You, I Don’t Know), and her signature live cover of Motörhead’s Ace Of Spades. She smacked her banjo so hard on the opening riff of the latter that her strap came off, and a tech reconnected it as LeBlanc didn’t miss a beat.
Heat has been building a pretty steady buzz for a couple years now, but we haven’t heard much from them since 2015’s Rooms EP. That’s all about to change with a debut full-length named Overnight that’s coming out via The Hand Recordings Jan. 20, 2017. Their set at the Matahari Loft was heavily indicative of an expanded, more mature sound that references everything from classic UK shoegaze and dream pop, sparkling psychedelia, and splashes of New Wave. Lead singer/guitarist Susil Sharma’s magnetic vocals—he’s a dead ringer for The Jesus and Mary Chain’s Jim Reid—are easy to hang on to, especially when they’re backed up by a sprawling, dense soundscape of shimmering guitar and synths that’s too fun not to get lost in.