Old grunge, new goth

Assessing new records by Mudhoney and Ascetic PLUS a half-week’s worth of heavy shows and DJ nights, from Suuns and Metz to Ashtray Heart and Loma Prieta.

If you keep yer nose off this ‘pooter screen long enough, you may notice that spring is finally gearing up to get sprung. But don’t get yer hopes up, fuckos. April in Montreal is only a flirtatious Jezebel that shells out empty promises that she can never keep. It’s still as grey as ever, and the only thing that seems to be sprouting from the ground are pieces of frozen dog shit, with hordes of overzealous rollerbladers slaloming around ’em. Blindsiding snow storms are imminent. As any tried and true Montrealer knows, change in the calendar doesn’t always equate to change in the  scenery.

The first fuzz-fuelled blast of Mudhoney’s new rekkid Vanishing Point hits like a Montreal April and proves that their rebirth is stillborn — and we couldn’t be happier. Two decades and change later, they’re still the best Stooges tribute band out there (other than, uh, the current line-up of the Stooges). Mark Arm is still steeped in Iggy-isms as the band pound away at the same old riffs that we all know and love. The fact is, these are some of the snottiest blasters they’ve ever committed to tape, punchin’ with obvious jabs of nostalgia but never sounding tired. If you think I’m talkin’ turkey here, just dig around on the Internet and snag a listen to “The Only Son of the Widow of Nain” or the punked-out psych ride “Douchebags on Parade.” Hotcha!!!

Vanishing Point comes hot on the heels of their crucial documentary, I’m Now: The Story of Mudhoney (dir. Ryan Short and Adam Pease, MVD), which is reviewed here. If you’re digging Mudhoney’s new ’un, you should definitely dig a little deeper and feast yer peeps on this totally tubular rock doc.

The doom and gloom set will definitely want to check out Aussie goths Ascetic and their dreary and dreamy debut, Self Initiation. Released on the always-great Golden Antenna label? Check! Featuring Damian Coward of the superlative goth-rockers Heirs? Check! A sticker affixed to the cover comparing Ascetic’s sad-sack jams to Swans and Joy Division? Check, albeit not exactly accurate. Pilfering Pornography-era Cure, though? Mos def, complete with flanged bass, ’80s synths and twangy treated guitars. Bands that once graced the early days of the 4AD roster might be a little more apt here. Fans of Cocteau Twins and Dead Can Dance will definitely want to sway and spin around to this. Epic closer “Silver Circle” is worth the price of admission alone. If you’re looking for a perfect soundtrack to our grey and cold April, trying to blot out the vision of McGill jocks parading around in shorts or just cresting on the new wave of chilly goth, this is just your ticket.

Alrighty, enough with the sloppy seasonal metaphors and bottlenecked segues. Here’s the gigs, kids!

Thursday – Although April holds a lot of goodies (Redd Kross is coming!), its early days are a little limp, so we’re going to skip right past hump night. My obvious pick of the week is a local one, when the psych/krautrock lords Suuns launch their fuggin’ amazing new jammer Images du Futur at Sala with Technical Kidman and Rat Paws. Although their Teutonic trances are solidly locked in the grooves on record, this is definitely a band that has to be seen live. Easily one of the best bands in the city and certainly one of the most forward-thinking and vital rock bands to knock around the hood in quite a while. It’s sold out, though, so either fork out to the scalpers or beg/sneak/steal your way in.

Friday – Another session of Friends of Hell happens tonight at Katacombes, hosted as always by enchantress DJ Satannick (the pipes behind Cauchemar and author of the Hellbent for Cooking cookbook). You can expect only the best heaviosity: black metal, sludge, doom, thrash, n.w.o.B.h.m. and other head-banging delights.

Ashtray Heart returns to their favourite haunt, Barfly, with opener Mikrob setting the scene for their power blues-rock sound. If you lament the lack of solid rock in this town, you’ll definitely want to show up for this.

If you dig left-of-centre art-pop with a tinge of freak folk, you can catch Wax Mannequin with Sunfields, Mark Lotterman and Trio 69 at Casa.

Saturday – Personally, I prefer Stax-slathered soul music when I’m dippin’ my whiskers into an amber nectar. If you feel the same, don’t miss the new soul night Bang ‘n Shout at Divan Orange, with DJs Papa Bill, New Breed Nick and Parka Pat. As a little bonus, peep the Facebook event and dig on the mixtape.

The amount of hype heaped on lo-fi pop punkers Wavves a couple of years back was immense, but the band has hardly buckled under the weight and return to Sala with Fidlar and Cheetahs. The PBR pack should be there in full force, so show up early if you want to squeeze in.

Those of you who went to Friends of Hell on Friday will definitely want to hit Casa to catch the long-running metal night Jour de Sabbat with DJs Fer (Duchess Says, Pypy) and Luci. Prepare for a serious bangover on Sunday.

Ensuring Casa is definitely the place to be on Saturday night is Valleys and Fol Chen, who’ll wage unholy war with the screaming metal next door.

Sunday – While Suuns is my big pick of the week, the extreme sludgy hardcore of San Francisco’s Loma Prieta is nipping at our favourite krautrockers’ heels. Opening is the equally intense Discord of a Forgotten Sketch at an unnamed location. Stop your whinin’ and start your sleuthing. I can’t hold your hand on every fuggin’ thing. Geez.

Monday – Finally, Toronto’s Metz return to town to liquefy your fillings and blind your corneas at Sala with the Soupcans and Modern Primitive. If you dig Am Rep-style misanthropic rock as much as In Utero-era Nirvana, you’re gonna want to get your nod on to this. Also, their drummer is one of the most ruthless pounders I’ve ever witnessed. Be afraid! ■

Current obsession: Can, Tago Mago


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