We're almost halfway through October already but if you ask your humble optimist, we're only halfway in what's turning out to be a month packed with choice musical acts, including big ticket rapper Wiz Khalifa, Canadian rock veterans Rush, '90s hit makers The Smashing Pumpkins, and even songstress Barbra Streisand, who just released a series of previously unreleased tracks going back as far as the '60s under the album title of -- word of the day -- Release Me. Streisand performs October 17 at the Bell Centre.
On the other end of the spectrum, Montreal's got a punk legend trifecta converging this month, from Vancouver's D.O.A. to Cali's Social Distortion to movement poster child Johnny Lydon's de-hiatused post Sex Pistols career as featured in Public Image Ltd, a post-punk offering which re-emerged in 2010 after 18 years off stage. PIL performs October 16 at Théâtre Corona.
Meanwhile, Montreal's own Rufus Wainwright is as a sure of a live bet as they come, hot off the glory of his lauded outdoor appearance last June in the heart of the city.
Fest-wise, a Los Angeles initiative comes to Montreal for the first time since its 2009 inaugural year. With four acts booked this October 16 at the Société des arts technologiques, said fest is called OohLaLA! and it's branded the only French music festival in California, though the lineup is not only French. Take Citizens! for one. An antithesis of mass produced top 40somes, Citizens! is an electropop quintet from London who just released their debut album Here We Are, and the buzz is palpable, if only for a sound honed and produced by Franz Ferdinand's Alex Kapranos.
And my pick of the litter for that evening is Lescop, a cold wave revivalist French pop solo project signed Asyl frontman Mathieu Peudupin, a La Rochelle gent turned London resident, who also just released his eponymous debut album. Along with Citizens!, Lescop also performs October 16 at the Société des arts technologiques.
Other shows of note include the sublime that is Nigerian-German soul singer Nneka. She takes my breath away. Just listen to her. Nneka performs October 22 at Théâtre Corona.
Next up is the lovely, quirky, out-of-left-fielder otherwise known as Kiwi native Kimbra, i.e., she-who-sang-the-lady-vocals-on-Gotye's-overkilled-overplayed-overhyped-one-hit-wonder. The good news is she's quite delightful and coincidentally underplayed, underhyped and with talent like that, let's hope no one massacres her (and us) with a lingering death of supermarket-aired overexposure anytime soon. Kimbra performs October 26 at Théâtre Corona.
Aussie band The Jezabels return to Montreal after a recent stint last April. They were one of my favorite picks then. And they're one of my favorite picks now. Just one thing. With not much in the way of new releases, expect a similar set list. The Jezabels perform October 23 at Cabaret du Mile End.
On the topic of welcomed déjà vus, he-who-seduced-me-last-May-with-his-deadpan-insanity/brilliance is back. Ex Fleet Foxes drummer J. Tillman marches on as Father John Misty this October 26 at Cabaret du Mile-End. (Also note the end note video posted at the bottom of this page featuring Misty doing god-knows-what-to-a-bottle-of-whiskey in ostensible honor of Sammy Davis Jr's not-so-iconic appearance in a Japanese commercial).
I also have to mention a couple of Canucks who are really bringing things up a notch. Vancouver indie folkster and 2012 Juno winner Dan Mangan breezes through town October 23 at Théâtre Corona. And he is fabulous.
The Weeknd. Toronto's The Weeknd is destined for international stardom. He blew me away when I discovered him last March, he made it on my top Osheaga acts last summer, and nothing short of selling his off-kilter approach to hip hop short in favor of safer "crowd-pleasing" tunes -- his latest release (see below) is coming dangerously close, mind you -- will stop me from shouting him out every time he comes to town, this time twice, on both October 29 and October 31 at Metropolis.
Finally. Chris Isaak. No, he's not the most innovative musician. And yeah, apart from that one out-of-this-world tune he released back in 1989, what gives? His last album, 2011's Beyond the Sun was basically a series of covers. But still. Can anyone say charisma? Isaak performs October 30 at Théâtre St. Denis.
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* In a recent interview with George Stroumboulopoulos, Lydon referred to the New York punk scene of the late '70s as the "fake stance" of a movement he described as one embraced by the underprivileged and disenfranchised. Why fake? "Well, [the Ramones] used to do things with Mommy and Daddy's money. They had instruments to play. They had garages to rehearse in. They had all nice things set up for them. Us lot, if it fell off the back of a truck, you know, it would land very happily in my hands."