In praise of Failure

Never mind Nevermind. Failure’s 1996 swan song Fantastic Planet is a far superior meeting point of punk, pop and pain.

facebookWhen people, usually my junior, wax on about the “brilliance” of Nirvana’s Nevermind, I’m usually a bit stunned. Not that I hate this slab of loud/quiet toe stub angst but I would be hard pressed to even put it in my top 100 albums of the ’90s. I’m not going to go into the utter brilliance of Jawbox or Jesus Lizard — hell, that’s just a smidge of the J’s. But one of my favourite record of the ’90s is Fantastic Planet, the 17-track 1996 swan song from Los Angeles band Failure.

Time has been kind to this stroke of genius despite the occasional grunge earmarks, but at the root it’s amazing, original pop songs that shine in the darkness. On this self-produced record, psychedelic breaths break out of the claustrophobic pop formats, angular guitars battle it out with pure earworm melodies as ethereal noises hover over top. Woe-is-me lyrics were indeed of the day, but Failure’s chief songwriter Ken Andrews exposes wounds that are fresh and yet to be cleaned. If you want to check out this largely overlooked and underrated record, find the full slab on YouTube, and for those of you ready to graduate, it celebrates a double gatefold vinyl re-release this month and can be ordered here.

Thursday: Until July 18, you can check out Osheaga’s pre-10th-anniversary celebrations with a collection of prints from some of Osheaga’s most shining moments by local photographer Susan Moss. Fans of the grape and free cheese will want to go tonight as the vernissage is happening at Galerie Yves Laroche, in the heart of Mile Ex. 6355 St-Laurent, p.m., $

Friday: Down at Katacombes, you can show up early for a BBQ on their terrasse, gorge on their happy hour, then watch a screening of the documentary A Unique Punk Landscape. By this time you should be sufficiently sloshed, so might as well stick around for hardcore supergroup Now Future featuring ex-members of Inepsy, SCUM, My Dog Popper and Unruled. 1635 St-Laurent, 6 p.m., $7

The gloomy and mopey set can catch Ceremony with Pity Sex, Perverted Justice and Nightmare Collective at Sala. 4848 St-Laurent, 8 p.m., $12/$14, all ages

Freshly back from their stint at Sled Island, local proggy/psychsters Avec le soleil sortant de sa bouche cool their heels at la Vitrola with Charles Barabé and Elizabeth Anka Vajagic. 4602 St-Laurent, 8:30 p.m., $8

With their new debut jammer now out in the bins, local power popsters Dany Laj and the Looks will be hitting the road, but before they get their white line fever, they’ll be bidding their adieu at l’Esco with Mother’s Children, Quitty and the Don’ts and the Count Ferrara. 4467 St-Denis, 9 p.m., $7

My big pick of the week goes to the utterly slamming bill headlined by NOLA’s Goatwhore with Ringworm, the trashtastic Black Breath (!!!), Theoric, Canceric and the Wild Hunt at Foufs. 87 Ste-Catherine E., 7 p.m., $18/$20

Saturday: For a night of doomy cvlt metal, catch Ottawa’s Occult Burial, New York’s Throaat and the debut of Muerto at la Vitrola. 4602 St-Laurent, 8 p.m., $10/$12

If you were at the Ceremony show on Friday, you may want to darken your weekend even more by checking out Berlin’s Peine Perdue with the always enchanting and haunting Xarah Dion and Cinema Vengeance with DJ Personne at Katcombes. 1635 St-Laurent, 9 p.m.

Sunday: A perfect ending to the weekend can be had at Casa, when Tuareg guitarist Mdou Moctar gives Montreal an encore (he played the Suoni fest in Junr) with some serious openers: a supergroup of Cairo’s the Dwarves of East Agouza featuring former Sun City Girls legend Alan Bishop, ex-pat and international hand model Sam Shalabi and Maurice Louca. Hotcha! 4873 St-Laurent, 8 p.m., $8
Current Obsession: Failure, Fantastic Planet