The Besnard Lakes & metric tonnes of heavy

Digging into the majestic new record by Montreal’s Besnard Lakes, officially launching with a show on Saturday. But there’s stiff competition on the concert circuit this week, with loads of righteous punk, metal and rock ‘n’ roll bands pouring into our venues, beginning with the King Khan & BBQ show tonight.

There are so many shows happening this week that I didn’t want to waste too much bandwidth with my blabbering, but I just have to drag you by the sleeve and hip ya to an utter killer slab of local wax first.

The new Besnard Lakes rekkid, Until in Excess, Imperceptible UFO (Jagjaguwar) may not hit like a hammer upon first listen, but, like all the great ones, seeps in slowly after repeated listens and doesn’t leave.

Now on their fourth effort, they once again reinvent themselves but maintain their thread of shoegaze and ’70s radio-dial pop while giving Phil Spector and Brian Wilson solid winks all the way. The harmonies have never been denser, the craft never more deft, the vision never more fine-tuned with their trademark melodies never soaring higher. Poppy clap trappers may have to dig deep, though, as this record hardly uses choruses as hitching posts. Like any good psych-pop band, the Besnards proves that the thrills are all in the journey. Songs do indeed sprawl and stretch out but never overstay their welcome, while pointed counter melodies and ’60s production (handled by head Besnards Olga Goreas and Jace Lasek) drown out their melancholy with an underlying sense of hope.

The Besnard Lakes continue to be one of the most creative and innovative pop bands in the ol’ 514, and this new one proudly announces that their time is right now. With a record this good under their belts, this will definitely be a busy year for the Besnards. Here comes the rub, though: With a recording so fully realized, it’ll be nothing short of a miracle if they can actually pull it off live. Check Saturday’s listings for details about how you can see them try to tackle this beast.

Although the first week of April was a little slow, things are definitely picking up, with some real gems happening over the next seven days.

Tuesday – All the way from his German home, onetime Montrealer King Khan returns with his ol’ bud and ex-Sexareenos/Spaceshits bandmate BBQ at Il Motore. Opening is the always amazing Bloodshot Bill and the demented punk rawk of Vomit Squad. If you dig your R&B raw, raw, raw and your rock ’n’ roll raunchy and raucous, this will definitely have you cuttin’ a rug.

WednesdayRedd Kross are back! Trainspotters and old bastards may note that their first Montreal show was playing with Sonic Youth at a jam-packed Foufounes in 1993. After a questionable sophomore appearance, at Pop Montreal (Rialto’s sound utterly sucked balls), the mighty Kross are making good and playing the far friendlier environs of Il Motore. If you want to know just how good power pop/early ’80s punk rock can get, do a little digging into Neurotica, Teen Babes From Monsanto or the snotty punk rock of Born Innocent. Sealing the deal are openers UBT.

Thursday – For some serious ’60s-style psych, check out A Devil’s Din with the brutal instru-metal beat-down of Squalor at l’Escogriffe.

The folks behind the Total Eclipse radio show on CKUT have cooked up a three-day festival that is sure to appeal to those who like their musical envelope pushed. Starting tonight, you can catch Ylang Ylang, Arstychix and Pyongyang at Barfly.

Friday – The Total Eclipse fest hits its halfway mark at the Plant with Slight, Sea Oleena and Nick Kuepfer with DJ Noah Bick.

Those digging the current wave of pop-fuelled psych can catch the Black Angels with the surfy twang of the Allah-Las and Elephant Stone at le National.

Saturday – The local show of the week is undoubtedly the Besnard Lakes with Freelove Fenner at Cabaret du Mile End. In case you missed the lovely intro carved out on top, the new Besnard record, Until in Excess, Imperceptible UFO, is impossibly good. If you’re like me and finding current pop gems becoming rarer and rarer, you have to sink your fangs into this record.

I was trying to come up with an alternate pick of the week and got all stymied. Redd Kross? Besnard Lakes? Acid Mother’s Temple? Pissed Jeans? Today Is the Day? C’mon, it’s near impossible. I will say this, though: the best punk rock show of the week will instantly go to anarcho/crust punks Doom, who will shatter craniums with Ratface, Systematik, Asile and Truncheons at Katacombes. This will be the first tour Doom has done since hanging up their army boots over 10 years ago, so if you dig classic d-beat-style punk, you cannot miss this.

There has been a plethora of killer black metal shows happening at Theatre Plaza lately, and the show on Saturday night should prove to be a doozy. Occult/Usbm masters Abzu will let loose the fire and brimstone with Cseithe, Neige Eternelle and Incandescence.

Sunday – Although the Doom and Abzu shows are going to be devastatingly good, this week’s heaviosity crown could just as easily slide onto the noggins of Today Is the Day, with Keelhaul, Ken Mode and Fightamp at Il Motore. If you like the misanthropic rock of TIID’s former label Am Rep, as well as skull-crushing noise and pounding metal, this show will utterly destroy. With a bill this strong, this show better be packed to the tits — if not, this town is truly fucked. To hear TIID at their most brutal, try and hunt down a copy of their massively heavy 2CD set Sadness Will Prevail.

Cagibi continues their punk rock exploitation double-feature film fest with two howlers tonight. First up is the side-splitting Class of 1984 (1982, directed by Mark L. Lester), followed up by the completely silly skateboard movie Thrashin’. First film starts at 7:30 p.m. sharp and admission is free!

Monday – Indeed, there are a lot of heavy hitters happening in the coming week, but Monday proves to be the best night by far:

Six-string shredder Marnie Stern returns to town after her amazing showcase at Pop Montreal a couple of years back. Opening is Roomrunner at Casa.

Although there is plenty to choose from tonight, if Marnie Stern’s fret-tapping is your choice, you can cool your heels for the rest of the night and check out my favourite DJ in the city, Nao Identificado, on the bar side of Casa. Expect the best of soundtrack music, minimal synth, prog, psych, krautrock and more psyched-out gems.

The return of the best modern psych band to burst through the stratosphere, Japan’s Acid Mothers Temple, will set the controls for the heart of the sun at Sala, with Tjujuna. I’ve seen Acid Mother’s Temple every time they’ve been to town (five times?) and am consistently amazed.

Presenting a personal conundrum on this busy Monday night is Pissed Jeans at Il Motore, with the killer local support of Solids and Ultrathin. The last Pissed Jeans show at Casa was a punk rock revelation and with their new record (reviewed here) being such a killer jam, my Acid Mothers Temple vs. Pissed Jeans toss-up will definitely have me throwing the I ching.

Finally, fans of classic n.w.o.B.h.m. will not want to miss metal legends Diamond Head when they take us to school with the killer support of Cauldron, Buffalo Theory and Bucranium at Foufounes. Just punch in “Am I Evil,” “The Prince” and “Helpless” into YouTube and thank me later. You’ll agree that the Metallica versions of the aforementioned songs are reserved for chumps and babysitters. ■

Current obsession: Talk Talk, Spirit of Eden

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