Montreal

REVIEW: Polychuck – “Hero” feat. Derek Sherinian (2022 single)

Montreal’s Polychuck is a heck of a prodigy.  He’s a megatalented singer / songwriter / shredder / teacher / mixed martial artist (!!) who does it all, and now he’s expanding his palette and progressing.  Far beyond his first two EPs.  When we spoke to Polychuck on the LeBrain Train last year, he expressed his desire to get more progressive on his upcoming recordings.  By collaborating with former Dream Theater/Kiss/Alice Cooper keyboardist Derek Sherinian, he’s made a huge leap.  Also playing on this track are drummer Philipe Landry and bassist Frédérick Filiatrault.  With the added firepower, “Hero” has a fuller sound than previous Polychuck songs.  It’s like the playing field just got a whole lot bigger.

So let’s get to it.  Cut to the chase.  Polychuck, who is of Ukrainian descent, says “Hero” is a cry for peace, directly about current events.  In times of crisis, music helps sooth.  In turn, crises often inspire great music.

“Hero” commences with steely rhythm guitar with a wicked tone.  It bounces from heavy rocking to acoustic picking and an instrumental outro.  When Sherinian comes in near the start, he’s instantly recognizable.  His solo work here is lyrical, and the perfect compliment to the song.  Not to mention Polychuck’s own lead work, which is both impressive and melodic.  All the playing here is just awesome, period.

“Hero” is an impressive construction.  It’s complex, with several different sections including one at the end that reminds me of the keyboard part in “No More Tears” by Ozzy.  Importantly, all the sections work together like chapters in a story, and the flow is natural.  Best of all, “Hero” never stops being great through its 3:26 length.

Support up and coming talent like Polychuck and buy “Hero”.  If you love that Dream Theater vibe, you will absolutely dig it.

5/5 stars

REVIEW: Polychuck – Part II: Shadows Remain (2021)

POLYCHUCK – Part II: Shadows Remain (2021 EP)

Polychuck’s back.  The diverse Montreal musician / singer / songwriter / shredder has returned to cap off 2021 with a followup EP to this year’s Shadows Exposed, and it’s a step into a larger world.  Everything seems bigger and bolder.  According to the man himself, these two new songs are a closing of the Shadows chapter, as he moves on to prepare his full length album debut — a concept album.

Of this new release, Polychuck explains:  “Those were the two songs that originally didn’t make the cut because of their darker, more aggressive sound. These are the heavier tracks that were written and recorded at the same time as the other ones on the EP.”

The progressive “Scarred” has elements that harken back to classic Alice Cooper.  Haunting keyboard touches, cinematic dialogue in the backdrop.  The song soon evolves into a chugging metallic stomp, with double bass setting an aggressive tone.  The icing on the cake is the second solo, a guest guitar spot by 17 year old Justus Hajas.  Wait until you hear this one!

The second track, “Lay a Claim”, stirs more ingredients together, including 80s pop and record scratching.  This classic-to-be brings us out of the Shadows with positive lyrics and outstanding melodies.  “I’m here to fuckin’ stay,” sings Polychuck with intent.

With talent like this, he’s sticking around!

Indeed, Polychuck has a vision, and it’s going to be cool to watch him unfold it.  As his sound grows we can assume his forthcoming album will be even bigger in scope.

4.5/5 stars

REVIEW: Polychuck – Shadows Exposed (2021 EP)

POLYCHUCK – Shadows Exposed (2021 EP)

Who’s Polychuck?  He’s just getting started.

From Montreal, with a do-it-yourself attitude and all the know-how, Polychuck is ready to be heard.  His new EP Shadows Exposed has something for everyone, and that’s not just a cliche this time.  Five deeply personal songs, from the wellspring of modern popular music, heavy metal, progressive rock, and all the classics.  Polychuck is a musically intelligent individual who pulls no punches on guitar, lyrically, or in the ring.  He’s also an MMA fighter!

Lead track “Beating Myself Down” has the vintage piano bop vibe, complete with scratchy vinyl playback.  Before you mistake it for a Billy Joel record, Polychuck brings in the modern influences and blunt lyrics.  Synth horns give you an idea of where Polychuck is coming from.  Performed on keyboards this time, he wants to use a real horn section on his next album.  Creative use of vocoder, and a smoking guitar solo with some insane sounds are the icing on a very sweet cake.

“Exposure” has a modern urban feel, before the heavy metal drum beats kick in.  This is augmented by some pretty awesome record scratching.  The Styx-like keyboard solo reveals Polychuck’s progressive side, which he also wishes to explore further next time out.

Another strong tune, “In the Dark”, binds the heavy beats, some creative keyboard construction, and a solid guitar riff.  This riff transforms into a wailing solo.  Fans of Linkin Park will find something to love here.

Light beach-ready guitar plucks away on “Driving Me Mad”, a song for the summer that sounds like a holdover hit from ages past.  What sets it apart is, again, the guitar.  At one point Polychuck hits upon a melody something like “Rough Boy” by ZZ Top, and it’s the perfect fixture for the song.

The last song “Lights Out” tackles a number of subjects:  the inner critic, nostalgia, old friendships,  and more.  Light 80s keyboard is paired with heavy drums and guitar, ending the EP on a positive note.

When Deke and I talked to Polychuck, he told us he was very much looking forward to making everything bigger next time out, with more real instruments and much more prog.  We look forward to what he has in store, but check out the EP for a taste.  It’s available on iTunes and all the usual streaming platforms.  Shadows Exposed makes a splash but it’s just the inception.  More to come from this gifted artist.

4/5 stars

Sunday Screening: Polychuck – “Beating Myself Down”

From his just released new EP Shadows Exposed, it’s Polychuck‘s fresh video for “Beating Myself Down“! He’s a talented multi-instrumentalist, and this very different but boppin’ track is right up my alley. The guitar solo at the end will knock you on your ass.  This is a catchy, upbeat but lyrically serious tune with relatable words.  Check out “Beating Myself Down” and don’t miss Polychuck when we have him on the LeBrain Train on July 31!

 

Sunday Screening: Polychuck – “Exposure”

Thomas Polychuck is a hot new artist out of Montreal.  He’s a multi-instrumentalist with a “do it yourself” attitude.  He has a new EP out called Exposure, and Deke and I will be speaking to Thomas on the July 31 episode of the LeBrain Train.  Polychuck prides himself in his guitar shredding (since age 13!) and you can hear a bit of that on this track “Exposure”.

Let us know what you think of Polychuck and get your questions locked and loaded for our interview!

 

#404: Report: Aux 33 Tours in Montréal

RECORD STORE TALES MkII: Getting More Tale Report: Aux 33 Tours in Montréal

My sister, bass clarinetist Kathryn Ladano, just completed the east coast leg of her Canadian tour last month. This was followed by a western leg, but while returning home from the east there was a stop in Montréal. Kathryn is a collector too, though not to the extent that I am. She doesn’t need the physical musical media in her daily life like I do. She still collects some of her favourite bands, and has recently started buying vinyl. While in Montréal, she visited a record store called Aux 33 Tours, located at 1373 Mont-Royal Est.  According to their website, it is the largest record store in the city.  She emailed me the following day, May 27, raving about the store. I’ll let her take it from here! Enjoy the pictures.

I found the most amazing record store in Montréal yesterday! I found almost all The Spoons’ albums on LP, including ones that aren’t available on CD. I also found a promo live album by them that didn’t have a proper cover because it wasn’t supposed to be sold. They were all dirt cheap – like $2 – $7. ‎One of them was autographed and personalized “To Martin”! [Fortuitously, her husband is also named Martin!] I also got Kid A on record. Kid A and Sgt. Peppers are reissues with heavy packaging. They had an original Sgt Peppers, but the reissue was cheaper, so I got that.

I spent about $140. Which I think is good for that many albums! ‎Note: the Simon and Garfunkel and Gord Downie ones are Martin’s.

I’d also like to point out how rare that Bryan Adams single is.  He really tried to bury that song!  Watch the video, you’ll hear why.  (They sped up his voice which gives him a Chipmunks sound.)

And finally, gratuitous photos of Schnauzers and Starfleet collars:

REVIEW: Rush – Red Stars of the Solar Federation (Live at Montreal Forum May ’81)

RED STARS_0001RUSH – Red Stars of the Solar Federation (X-Rekords, Live at Montreal Forum May ’81)

I found this bootleg when I was unceremoniously transferred from one location to another.  When I started at the other location, this was among the first CDs that came in that I just had to buy.  It’s a Rush bootleg from the legendary Moving Pictures tour.  In fact this CD is the audio of the Rush video Exit…Stage Left, which is a different audio from the LP.  It sounds like a vinyl rip.  Otherwise the sound quality is pretty good.  The audience is shrill and very loud.  There are also clearly speed/pitch issues with the audio.  (This could be corrected in Audacity, but I don’t think I could do it by ear.)  This CD is selling for over $70 currently on Discogs.  I paid nowhere near that.

Between the songs are interview snippets from the band, same as the video.  It features a few tracks that were not on the Exit…Stage Left album:  “By-Tor”, “In the Mood”, “In the End”, and “2112” which is unlisted.  The rest of the songs are completely different recordings, anyway.  I guess that’s why the asking price is $70.  They are no less perfect; no less electrifying.

“The Trees” and “Xanadu” take up one massive 17 minute track on the CD, and it’s a monument to perfection of performance and craft.  I can barely remember the sequence of all the different parts of Xanadu; I can’t imagine how Rush can play a set full of this stuff with precision and feel all the time!  All this while Geddy has to remember complex lyrics about searching for the lost Xanadu.

RED STARS_0002I love Peart’s slamming drums on “Red Barchetta”, a song I simply never tire of.  What is it about Rush songs?  They don’t burn out like so many other bands.  Not even “Closer to the Heart” has burned out on me yet, and it’s always a pleasure hearing a less familiar version.

On to “By-Tor”: it features a nicely noisy and meandering Alex Lifeson solo, surely a highlight of the entire performance.  This segues directly into a truncated “In the End”, also from Fly By Night.  This then is butted against “In the Mood” from the first Rush album in an awkward transition.  Geddy appears to change the lyrics from “Hey baby” to “Hey Cookie”.  Even this song is shortened, and segues into “Grande Finale” from 2112.  Alex ends it with some noise-laden blasting on his axe, almost stealing the spotlight from his two bandmates.  It’s a perfect storm of musical excellence and heavy rock.

Sonically,  Red Stars of the Solar Federation is vastly inferior to the current Exit…Stage Left DVD.  Yet I have a geeky love for an oddball CD like this.  While I can’t say it’s worth $70, I can say it’s worth:

3.5/5 stars