Tag Archives: Music

Posted in Blogosphere, Montreal

Midnight Poutine on indefinite hiatus, podcast finds new home

The Midnight Poutine podcast crew, from left: Theo Mathien, Amie Watson, Gabrielle LeFort, Gregory Bouchard

The Midnight Poutine podcast crew last summer. From left: Theo Mathien, Amie Watson, Gabrielle LeFort, Greg Bouchard

Midnight Poutine, the local culture/lifestyle/other stuff blog, has been shut down. But it’s coming back, someday. Hopefully.

The website stopped posting updates just before new year’s, and its homepage has been replaced by a page announcing a “new and improved” version launching “soon”.

The website, whose archives go back to September 2005, is owned by Toronto-based Fresh Daily, and is published by Tim Shore. Its sister site is the more popular Blogto, which continues running as normal. (A third Fresh Daily blog, Vancouver’s Beyond Robson, went dark in 2011.)

“We’re planning some big changes to the site — both in respect to the site design and content strategy — so we thought it would be best to put it on hiatus for a short time period,” Shore told me.

He wouldn’t elaborate on what those changes would be or what the focus of the new site would be. He also wouldn’t say when it’s coming back. “We’re not releasing either of these details to the public just yet,” he said. “Sorry.”

One thing that definitely won’t be back is the Midnight Poutine Weekend Playlist podcast, which passed the 300-episode mark in June. The last episode posted to Midnight Poutine’s website, No. 318, was dated Dec. 19, and featured the hosts saying goodbye and alerting listeners that they would be moving to a new site.

Greg Bouchard, who managed the podcast and acted as Midnight Poutine’s main editor, stepped down last month because he moved to Toronto for work. He insists there’s no animosity either way in his departure, but the podcast is being moved.

The new site is called Radio Cannon, and it’s owned by Bouchard. He describes it as a website devoted to helping people discover music through personal recommendations, and a complement to more automatic ways of recommending music used by sites like Rdio or Pandora.

“It was never the intention for the site to focus primarily on music,” Bouchard said of Midnight Poutine. “It was supposed to be a more balanced culture blog.”

But as a site that didn’t offer much (if any) money to contributors, it was a slave to what those people wished to contribute. More newsy elements of the site would come and go in waves, as new eager contributors came in and eventually got bored and stopped. In Bouchard’s case, his interest was mainly music, which meant the site had a strong music focus.

Bouchard wouldn’t get into much detail about his reasons for leaving, beyond the obvious one of having moved to Toronto. But he said he wanted to focus on music, and expand the podcast’s concept nationally, and Midnight Poutine did not seem to be the proper outlet for it.

Joining Bouchard at Radio Cannon are his podcast co-hosts Theo Mathien, Amie Watson and Emily Hill (Gabrielle LeFort, who was one of the podcast co-hosts last summer, left in September to take on a job with Evenko).

The Radio Cannon Montreal Podcast is basically identical to the Midnight Poutine one, right down to the “Hello Internet, salut cyberspace” introduction (though now enhanced with the sound of a cannon firing). Still about an hour a week of indie or underground music from bands that are playing at smaller venues in the city over the coming week, interspersed with some chatter about them (and details of their upcoming concerts) by the hosts.

Bouchard says he plans to start a similar one for Toronto in the next couple of weeks (he’s looking for a co-host) and eventually Vancouver as well. ”As long as we can find the personnel, we’ll expand to other cities,” he said during the last Midnight Poutine podcast.

He notes that there’s a romanticized notion that Montreal’s music scene is more diverse or bigger than other cities, but at least in the case of Toronto “it’s just not true.”

He also wants to set up streaming music channels (some playlists are already up).

Will this turn into a business?

“It’s still a hobby, but we’d like to try to make a go at making it bigger,” Bouchard said. They’d be looking at getting sponsors, having audio ads incorporated into the podcasts, or finding other ways to generate revenue.

As for Midnight Poutine, its future is unclear. The rumour is that the relaunch would be more focused on food than music, but officially we don’t know anything. Will it be days, weeks, months? Who knows.

One thing is for sure: Without the podcast and its associated talent, it’s going to have to work much harder to build an audience. And to be successful, that work won’t come free.

UPDATE (March 13): Radio Cannon’s Toronto podcast has launched.

Posted in Media, Montreal, My articles

Midnight Poutine turns 300 (Thank you, Jeremy Morris)

The Midnight Poutine crew, from left: Theo Mathien, Amie Watson, Gabrielle LeFort, Gregory Bouchard

The Midnight Poutine crew, from left: Theo Mathien, Amie Watson, Gabrielle Lefort, Gregory Bouchard

When I asked the current team behind the Midnight Poutine podcast why they do what they do, they all had the same answer: Jeremy Morris.

Morris started the podcast in 2006 with John MacFarlane, a former Gazette writer and editor who I worked with briefly (and was one of the key figures in the early days of what was then Habs Inside/Out).

After MacFarlane moved to the other side of the world, Morris continued the podcast every week, a lot of times by himself. Eventually he brought along some other Midnight Poutine contributors to join the podcast — Greg Bouchard during Pop Montreal in 2009, Amie Watson in 2010, Gabrielle Lefort soon after that, and Theo Mathien in 2011, and when Morris left himself for Madison, Wis., last summer, he left the podcast in their hands.

“We all feel like we owe it to Jer to continue,” said Mathien. “We were infected by Jeremy’s enthusiasm,” added LeFort. “It’s partially his level of devotion that causes us to keep this thing going,” said Bouchard. ”If we stopped doing this, I would be annoyed that there isn’t another podcast like this to listen to.”

I wanted to write about Morris and the podcast when Morris left, but never found the time. Now, as the show hits its 300th episode, I made the time to head out to Pointe St-Charles and profile it for The Gazette.

You can read the Gazette story here. I’ll add some detail below.

Continue reading

Posted in Radio

CJLO will make EPs free for deserving artists

Mixing board at CJLO

Are you a local artist who has fantastic musical talent but not the financial means to rent a professional studio to record your songs?

Concordia’s student radio station might be able to help. CJLO 1690AM has received a $14,500 grant from the Community Radio Fund of Canada for its CJLO Artist Outreach Program, and it’s using that money to offer their services free of charge to mix and master an EP’s worth of music for a handful of artists.

“The CJLO Artist Outreach Program aims to provide a stepping stone for local artists in the Montreal community to learn about how to get their music played on the radio and create a physical product that they can use to achieve this goal,” a statement from the station reads.

Included in the deal is up to 70-80 hours of labour of a producer to record and mix the songs together into a 15-to-20-minute EP, and an “artist liaison” to teach artists how to promote the music.

Because the funding is limited, so is the number of artists that can make use of these services. CJLO invites those interested to fill out a form on their website, and the station will select from among applicants.

Station staff tell me that the plan is to benefit at least five artists with this fund, but aiming for more like 8-10, with some requiring more work than others.

Applications are open until Feb. 15.

Posted in Montreal, Radio, TV

“Thank you for supporting local music”

Me, with local music

I went to a concert recently. Not a big one at the Bell Centre, but a small one at a bar. Maybe 100 people in attendance. It’s not something I do often, but I went that night for two reasons: I knew people in the band (Montreal’s The Jimmyriggers) and it was a rare Saturday night off from work and I felt I should take advantage of it.

As it happens, I enjoyed myself. I sat down at a table with Gazette music critic Bernie Perusse, who happened to be there that night with a friend, and the three of us nodded at each other repeatedly through both the opening act, folk-country musician Sarah Jane Scouten, and the set from the Jimmyriggers. Perusse later gave the show a good review on the Words and Music blog.

I’m not a music critic, so I can’t tell you in great detail why I liked what I did (and didn’t like what I didn’t). But I liked what I heard enough that I bought the latest albums from both artists.

After the show, I approached Scouten at the bar to tell her how much I enjoyed the show. We struck up a conversation in which she thanked me for buying her album. With the sincerity and encouragement normally reserved for large cash donations to struggling third-world charities, she said:

“Thank you for supporting local music.”

I felt kind of guilty. The number of music CDs I have purchased in my lifetime could be carried in one hand. I’m hardly an aficionado of local music, and my purchases that night were the exception rather than the rule.

But what stunned me most about that conversation was that a pretty girl was talking to me at a bar how unsupported local artists feel, particularly by media. In an age where it’s easier than ever to communicate and produce, why are so many still struggling to get noticed?

One thing we’ve lost in the reduction of local programming in broadcast media is a place where art can be showcased. Sure, you can have a 30-second interview in a two-minute TV news piece promoting an upcoming show, but CTV News isn’t going to invite a musical guest to come in and play a few songs. Really the only place where I’ve seen live performances on local English-language television is Global Montreal’s weekend Focus Montreal show, and those involve musicians coming into a cramped, all-green studio that’s not at all designed to facilitate the broadcast of music.

On radio, local bands are invited to perform live, but even then the exposure is limited. Major commercial stations relegate these types of shows to hours when the number of listeners is low. With the exception of Mitch Melnick at CKGM, there aren’t many big-time announcers in commercial radio that go out of their way to promote local music. And campus and community radio stations just don’t have the audience to give enough of a push to local artists.

There are people out there who are trying to compensate for this problem. There’s Said the Gramophone. There’s Midnight Poutine with its weekly podcast featuring artists who have upcoming shows in the city. They’re also planning their first concert for next Friday.

But it would be nice to combine the desire to promote local music with the desire for mainstream media to connect with a younger audience. Surely there’s a win-win situation here. If I can enjoy this music, surely others will as well, so long as they get a chance to hear it.

The Jimmyriggers perform Monday, March 26 at 9:30pm at Chez Baptiste sur Masson (3014 Masson). Tickets are $6.

Sarah Jane Scouten performs Wednesday, April 18 at Bar L’Esco (4467 St. Denis).

Midnight Poutine’s inaugural local concert, featuring Reversing FallsHonheehonhee and CTZNSHP, is Friday, March 16 at 9pm at Jackie & Judy (6512 Ave. du Parc). Tickets are $10. See the Facebook event and join the Facebook group for info on future concerts.

Posted in Video

The year in music, as mashed by DJ Earworm

I’m not a music critic. I couldn’t dissect a song to tell you what parts of it are good and what parts are bad. That’s why you won’t see me writing about music a lot.

But this is an exception.

The above is United State of Pop 2011 (World Go Boom) by DJ Earworm. It’s a mashup of the 25 most popular songs of 2011, including songs by Katy Perry, Bruno Mars, LMFAO, Rihanna and Adele. It was uploaded to YouTube on Christmas Day.

And it’s awesome. But I expected it to be.

To describe it as a “mashup” seems unfair. In reality, this is a song created from little bits of other songs, a masterpiece of musical editing that is as awe-inspiring by its complexity as it is catchy in its melody.

If you haven’t heard of this before, you need to listen to the previous years’ versions:

Each is just as impressive. And for added awesomeness, each can be downloaded free as an MP3. Just follow the link in the YouTube description to DJ Earworm’s website.

Posted in Radio

CRTC limits musical montages on French radio stations

It’s no secret that Canadian radio stations don’t like the content requirements imposed on them by the CRTC. For stations that broadcast popular music, 35% of the songs they play must be Canadian (that term being defined by meeting certain criteria). That’s why we hear a lot of Nickelback or Kim Mitchell.

For French-language radio stations playing popular music, there’s an additional and more serious limit the CRTC imposes: 65% of their songs must be in French (55% during the day, to prevent them from getting around this by playing all their French songs at 3am).

A few years ago, some genius found a way to get around this requirement: montages.

Because the CRTC counts “musical selections” by number, and not by length, a two-minute song and a 20-minute song have the same weight. And because the CRTC specifically counts music montages as one selection, you can have large (but not complete) parts of 20 songs in there and have it counted as one selection for the purpose of French-language minimums.

ADISQ, Quebec’s musical industry group, objected to the abuse of this by radio stations, and complained to the CRTC, which held hearings into the issue, specifically focusing on CKOI-FM Montreal, owned by Cogeco, CKTF-FM (NRJ) Gatineau, owned by Astral, and CFTX-FM (Capitale Rock) Gatineau, owned by RNC Media.

The statistics are pretty telling. The CKOI and NRJ stations were found to be using montages to a significant part of their broadcast week. CKOI was the worst, using 101 montages in the studied week, representing 17.9% of its total broadcasting time (this works out to an average of about 20 minutes per montage, though one case was found that was 55 minutes long). The NRJ Gatineau case was only slightly less, with 75 montages representing 14.5% of their 126 hours of broadcasting.

The study found these montages were almost all English-language American songs.

Astral and Cogeco argued they were not breaking the rules as they were written, which is true. They also presented public opinion polls showing that francophone audiences want to hear more English music, and in many cases francophones are tuning in to English stations.

There’s some irony in all this: 13 years ago, the CRTC set definitions of montages as they are to prevent the reverse from happening: radio stations using short clips from French-language songs in a montage and counting each one individually.

On Thursday, the CRTC addressed this, and imposed limits on the use of music montages. CKOI and CKTF can use montages for only 10% of their broadcast week. (CFTX was already well below this limit, so the CRTC did not impose one.) It also said it would study this matter further, and possibly impose new regulation generally.

The most obvious solution, to me, is to count musical selections based on length, not number. Under such a system, a four-minute song would count for twice as much as a two-minute song, and musical montages would be split up for the purposes of counting French-language or Canadian content requirements.

This is obviously more complicated for the station, but it would eliminate the problem.

The CRTC says it will begin looking into this issue in 2012.

Other coverage:

UPDATE: Cogeco Diffusion has issued a statement saying it will comply with the ruling, and suggesting the whole montage thing was Corus’s idea, that it’s using less of them, and its other radio stations don’t do it. Astral and RNC Media issued a joint statement also saying they would comply with the decision. Both said they would participate in hearings about French-language requirements, undoubtedly in an effort to get the CRTC to lower them.

ADISQ also issued a statement, praising the decision as a victory for francophone artists.

Posted in Montreal, Video

Francofolies: Missing the point a bit?

Maybe I’m being a bit too sensitive. Maybe I’m nit-picking and missing the big picture here. But it’s a bit odd to listen to anglo music during a sound check for Les Francofolies. Surely there’s an Isabelle Boulay or Marie-Mai CD they could stick in instead?

UPDATE (July 20): From an actual performance at the FrancoFolies, Seven Nation Army (or “Seven Army Nation,” as it’s introduced):

Posted in Montreal, Video

White guys rap about Bixi

This song has been making the rounds on local CBC radio in the past day. The song itself has been out for a little over a month, but the video for it is new.

I don’t know about their “it’s a free ride” line, though, considering the number of dollar signs I see on this page. In an interview Wednesday with CBC radio’s Jeanette Kelly, two members of the band – called Da Gryptions - say that’s actually a “metaphor” for something. Like, free as in freedom, or like … uhh … something like that.

Still, considering the success of the system, it certainly seems worthy of a song or two.

The band tells CBC they’re planning other Montreal-themed songs, including one about the Expos.

The Bixi Anthem is available on iTunes, in case you want to listen to it more than once.

Posted in Canadiens

Stand By Your Habs

Christopher Pennington, author of this pretty good (and bilingual!) Habs anthem from 2008 (available on iTunes), has teamed up withFelicity Hamer of United Steelworkers of Montreal to produce this parody of Stand By Your Man.

The timing couldn’t be better. Today is a critical game.

via Amy Luft.

Posted in Canadiens

Je déteste les Flyers

Welcome to the party, Les Justiciers. (They brought us this last year.)

You know, I was rooting for a Bruins win in the last round. Partly because coming back from 3-0 would mean stealing the Canadiens’ Cinderella status. Partly because the Canadiens and Bruins have such a rich history. Partly because it was time to take revenge for last year. Partly because I thought our chances were better against them.

But I’m learning to appreciate the value of a Canadiens-Flyers series. We can take revenge for 2008. The matchup has already been billed as Cinderella vs. Cinderella, and made history as the first 7th vs. 8th matchup since the conference system was setup.

And, because the Flyers fans can be just as much assholes as Canadiens fans, it feels good to hate them.

By the end of this series, the streets of Philadelphia will be orange … with blood

Blood mixed with urine, I guess.

Posted in Sports, Video

Olympic theme songs to build your national pride

If you were watching the U.S. broadcast of the Super Bowl on Sunday, you missed a few dozen CTV commercials reminding you that the Olympics are coming. Among them, this video featuring Montrealer Nikki Yanofsky singing the English version of CTV’s Olympic theme song, I Believe:

Of course, this being Canada, there’s also a French version, sung by Annie Villeneuve, called J’imagine:

How does this compare to previous Olympic songs?

Continue reading

Posted in Video

Remix in review

The end of the year – and particularly the week between Christmas and New Year’s – is a time for lazy journalism, usually in the form of lists of “the best of” the year that’s passed. The lists are almost always subjective, incomplete, and – when it comes down to it – pointless. They don’t add anything new to the conversation. Maybe such a list might expose you to something you haven’t seen before, but usually “top” means “most popular”, so the likelihood of you not having seen it is low.

This video comes from DJ Earworm, a remix artist (via Dominic Arpin). I’ll link to the YouTube page since the website seems to be suffering under some unexpected viral load. The MP3 is free to download. It’s a remix of the top 25 songs of 2009, as judged by Billboard. That means you’re stuck with two Lady Gaga songs, two Black Eyed Peas songs, two Beyoncé songs and two Taylor Swift songs, along with Katy Perry, The Fray, Kelly Clarkson and Miley Cyrus.

But it’s impressive, while giving a bit of exposure to each song in a way that doesn’t make me cringe. Kind of like I’ll eat mushrooms on a pizza but not by themselves, I’ll take Swift or Cyrus when remixed well with non-crap.

This isn’t a first, either. DJ Earworm did the same for 2008 and 2007.

Just imagine if all the other years in review were this … creative.