2011 POP Montreal

If you missed this year’s annual ‘don’t miss’ POP Montreal festival, you have some homework to do. One event, held at always-popular Barfly and backed by Toronto literary/arts magazine The Wa, record label Hand Drawn Dracula and Vice’s music discovery platform Noisey, caught our attention before we even saw the line-up. Definitively Toronto by design (shocker!), the event showcased five established and up-and-coming artists hailing from across the border. Sure, you missed it, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get to the action by following these five recommended bands.

In the past, The Two Koreas has been a relatively (and even self-proclaimed) dormant band, but their continued participation in POP Montreal can only mean one thing: albeit slow and steady, they’re still going in the right direction. Although they take the opening slot, it’s only because they’re alongside other Hand Drawn Dracula heavyweights who’ve been known to pack the venue based on their notoriety alone. For a sense of The Koreas sound — kind of Can-nier than The Fall — we recommend “Haunted Beach.”

Next up was Mausoleum, a synth-filled stab at post-wave that will please fans of Ian Curtis or Morrissey. Seemingly one of Toronto’s next it-bands, Mausoleum shares the Hand Drawn Dracula spotlight and takes pride in being aligned with its talented roster. Our pick is their track “Walk of Shame” —  because we’ve all been there before.

Josh Reichmann’s new project, DOPES, can only be described as dancey dream-pop with something a little off, a bittersweet soundscape that simultaneously lulls and agitates, but promises to get you out of your seat immediately. There’s something undeniably contagious about “All Day Wrong,” and you can choose your own virus: check out Reichmann’s MySpace to hear the original, or watch the video of the remix by DFA1979’s Sebastien Grainger on Vimeo.

Poster child Josh McIntyre of Little Girls has finally given up the goods for his new EP, “Cults,” working for the first time with a complete band — and although this is a relatively new lineup, they sound like they’ve been playing together for years. While Little Girls may have changed up the ensemble, they know there’s something to be said for tradition. This is the third consecutive Pop Montreal visit where they’ve played at Barfly, by request; clearly, this is a band committed to keeping close with its fan base, no matter the fame.

If you’ve made it this far down the list, these guys are the next step. Headlining the evening was Metz, a ’90s-inspired punk band with a talent for straddling the fence between alien (think: unlistenable) and noise (think: Jimi Hendrix). If you get the chance to see these guys play in the future, take our advice and pick up a pair of earplugs on the way to the venue. Preview a few of their songs on their wall-of-sound thrashers at MySpace. Like what you hear? Metz is playing in London, Toronto and Waterloo at the end of October, so keep an eye (or ear) out.

Perhaps noise rock, post punk or new wave aren’t exactly your cup of tea. Still, if we hear Arcade Fire’s Suburbs one more time, things are really, really going to get ugly. So give the above bands a shot to see what’s going on in the Canadian underground; you may just be pleasantly surprised.

Image courtesy of POP Montreal.

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