Black Feelings
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Black Feelings

Montréal, Quebec, Canada | INDIE

Montréal, Quebec, Canada | INDIE
Band Alternative Avant-garde

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The best new albums are rarely those widely previewed, whose content is drip-fed into the public consciousness via a series of radio spots, magazine reviews and poster campaigns. Sure, these can be decent collections – but all but the most ignorant listener has seen (and heard) them coming several miles off. No, the best new albums are those that appear from nowhere, just a disc in a pile of other discs waiting its turn. Until you slip it in and wish you’d played it sooner.

Hello, then, to Black Feelings, a trio from Montreal whose modus operandi is nothing you’ve not heard before, assimilating and regurgitating as they do aspects of Liars, The Apes, Comets on Fire and post-punk outfits like PiL and This Heat. But that doesn’t matter, not in the slightest – the band’s handling of their chosen style is excellent, their songs rattling and rolling with intent and purpose while also braving tumult and tension, despite their patchwork qualities. They could split, crack, shatter; but underpinning everything is a solid backbone of drums and bass, coupled tightly and directing proceedings with a masterly control reminiscent of the moorings that keep the likes of Black Mountain tethered, for all their interstellar ambition.

The majestic Hidden Dance rollicks with real vigour, percussive runs cycled into repetition that soon has the head nodding along, oblivious to environment (yes, you will fall under this spell at the bus stop, waiting at the doctors, scouring Poundland for last-minute stocking-fillers, etc). Gails opens like a ritual to revive some long-forgotten rock’n’roll spirit from an ether only these musicians can tap into, all moans and chants, synth pulsations, drone and eerie ambience. The low end rumbles with menace, the surface oscillations hypnotic. Golden Children and Eternal Bad Trip are more conventional of structure; but everything being relative, they’re as out there as U2 deciding to make their next LP a concept piece on the life (so far) of Dara Ó Briain.

Detached, compositionally and atmospherically, from the mulch of everyday rock, Black Feelings will hopefully push on from this release to wider audiences. Leg-up assistance from bookers of a more discerning persuasion would absolutely help them on their way, but this album suggests its makers will continue on their course whatever obstacles in their path. The way around is always over, higher and higher. And that’s where they want to take you. - BBC Music


Black Feelings
Black Feelings
By Eric Hill

Is it just me or is sneering no longer cool in rock? Not Johnny Rotten snotty, but John Lydon snide coolness that propelled PIL? Well, Montreal's Black Feelings channel the squint-eyed invectives and castle-storming propulsion of vintage post-punk, ranging from PIL to Bauhaus to This Heat. A special gold star to grail knight Owain Lawson, who doubles up on vocals and drums, flattening a path to your speakers. Bassist Brian Mitchell flaunts quadruple-jointed dexterity on his turbo-strumming runs. And Kyle Fostner (like Lawson, a former member of Les Angle Morts) irradiates the songs with both guitar and keyboards. Each track sounds like the chapters of an epic, with portent ("Lost Rings Pt.1" and "Lost Rings Pt. 2"), pride ("Golden Children") and haunted disquiet ("Gails"). It all adds up to work that will please cold wave, prog and post-punk fans of many stripes. (Alien8) - Exclaim


This commanding debut by the Montreal trio is a writhing pit of post-punk bleakness, experimental tribalism, gothic darkness and cold-wave austerity. That may sound like a lot going on, but it all lines up in almost military-like formation and marches with a forceful sense of inevitability toward something intensely primordial. In effect, the fiercely percussive advance of Black Feelings storms through The Cure’s “The Hanging Garden” with the modern power of Liars. Canal-digging grooves, incantatory vocal drones and massive rises of guitar and synth commune in a rigid rumble like some sort of black Mass. It’s a pounding, sustained brand of intensity that induces a restless trance.

The impressively heavy “Hidden Dance” is as much mood as it is song, hanging in the air with an ominous sense of persistence and procession. The groaning, subterranean undulations of “Golden Children” make an eerily ideal soundtrack for a rapturous group ceremony. And the aptly named “Eternal Bad Trip” is the musical expression of a boiling mental storm.

Dynamic, stirring and hypnotic, Black Feelings is the sound of an altered state, a sonic monolith that feels informed more by forces of nature than musical traditions. - Flagpole


ommunity has always been a strong suit of the Montreal music scene. For all the years when no one was paying attention, musicians played together, prayed together, shared members and resources, built venues and little labels that eventually loomed large foundations that are still evident today and, more importantly, lessons were passed on to a new generation of young guns that make the beautiful noise today.

Let's use Black Feelings as an example. The trio assembles two-thirds of the once-prominent and genre-defying Les Angles Morts, namely Owain Lawson on drums/vocals and Kyle Fostner on keys and vocals, alongside guitarist/bassist Brian Mitchell. The band drop their highly-anticipated, self-titled debut this month on local tastemakers Alien8. «Owain and I had just come out of the ashes of a band called Who's the Ghost, named after the best game ever involving bed sheets and drugs, so it only seemed natural to keep churning out gold hits,» says Mitchell of the early days, circa 2007.

Visions of the Future, Visions of the Past
Black Feelings got their start playing Montreal's burgeoning alternative spaces scene. At a time when the city appears to be cracking down on the smaller spaces in town do a bit of research on what Casa del Popolo, Divan Orange and le Cagibi have been through of late cool, off-the-beaten-path and artist-friendly joints abound: Lab Synthèse, Friendship Cove, Eastern Bloc, La Brique, Squalor House to name but a few. Their brethren/sisters in arms, keepers of the flame, ride the same dark waves they do, creating a new Montreal buzz heavy on the psychedelic doses of rock, punk, pop and electronics: Dead Wife, Grand Trine, Red Mass, Ultrathin and Tonstartssbandht. «I'm really happy about the kind of community happening right now,» mentions Owain Lawson., «There have been a lot of hardworking indie pop bands trying to make it in Montreal for years, for whom I have a lot of respect, and now there's an energetic new movement of people who are doing what they feel and being rad.»

I throw out the term «psychic rock» to the band, in trying to aptly describe Black Feelings and their compadres' brand of forward-thinking stomp. «I like the term 'psychic' because it hints at that, and because it sounds very strange,» adds Lawson. «My girlfriend's mom has 'music is the sound of feelings' written in silver cursive above her kitchen table, I think that also sums it up. 'Psychedelic' is more of a recognizable genre term.»

Whatever you call it, Black Feelings rock hard and loud. Black Feelings was carefully recorded and put together by the band and engineer Mark Lawson, and it captures the trio elevating their sound to the heavens, pushed by back-breaking beats, far-out vocals, keyboard orchestra and just the right touch of the weird. Pinning down Black Feelings' hopes in advance of the release is easy, says Owain. «I hope very much that the record goes to the top of the charts and we become famous.» Ha! - Nightlife


Black Feelings, a post-punk new wave band hailing from Montreal, released their self-titled album in October 2009. Spinner recently caught up with drummer/vocalist Owain Lawson in advance of the group's appearance at SXSW 2010.

Describe your sound.

Brain-dead new wave and psychic punk rock. Weirdly spiritual and shimmery music grounded in outdated aesthetic values.

How did your band form?

We're old friends. We've known each other for, like, ten years. Kyle and I used to be in a tour-crazy video art/f---ed-up rock band called Les Angles Morts. We started Black Feelings because nothing was happening in Montreal anymore and we wanted to make a space for everyone to freak out and feel free.

What are your musical influences?

If you asked the other dudes, you'd get very, very different answers, but I think the main influences on Black Feelings are This Heat, Amon Duul II, PiL, Anne Clark, the Del-Byzanteens, Earth, Jackie-O Motherf---er. Also looming large as inspirations are all our friends' bands -- AIDS Wolf, Dead Wife, Grand Trine, Tonstartssbandht.

How did you come up with your band name?

Seriously, it came to me in a dream. I know a lot of people like to say that but it really, really did!

What's your biggest vice?

Fisherman's Friend [throat lozenges] and Advil Liqui-Gels. We also drink, like, a ton.

For those who haven't seen you live, what can they expect from your shows?

We have psychedelic video projections featuring naked people saturated in LSD, and we are surprisingly friendly.

What rock 'n' roll cliche are you hoping to avoid?

Hiring a lyricist.

What's your musical guilty pleasure?

The German hard dance band Scooter. When raver DJs yell out "Who's got a whistle?!" that's hilarious.

Beatles or Stones?

I think that people who say Ringo is the worst drummer in history are just super ignorant. There are a million session drummers who could play circles around him, but did Plastic Ono Band or Wings sound any better for having these milquetoast competent drummers? No one plays the drums like Ringo, and that makes him a rare gem.

What's the craziest thing you've seen or experienced while on tour?

We camped on the beach in St. Augustine, Fla., in between shows. Kyle had never opened a champagne bottle before. He thought you were supposed to shake it up like at the end of the Grand Prix, and we ran screaming into the ocean soaked in champagne. Happy memories!

What other acts would you love to tour with?

I'd like to tour with our labelmates Blessure Grave and Acid Mother's Temple. They're both amazing bands. There's a band from Montreal called Tonstartssbandht. Nothing would make me happier than to go on permanent tour with them.

What do you hope people will take away from your music?

Because we have this weird name people think we're going to be huge bummer, but I sincerely hope we make people happy and excited to keep trying hard to do the best they can in life. I think that's the most important thing in life, to be really inspired and keep your brain working and ignore everyone and everything that wants to make you slow and ignorant and full of hate. I hope we do that, and I hope we make people feel like there's liquid hot LSD shooting up their spine and melting their brain with ecstasy.
- Spinner


Discography

"Black Feelings/Lords" split 7" We Be Records (UK) 2010
"Black Feelings/Grand Trine" split 7" Blue Skies Turn Black Records (Montreal) 2010
"Black Feelings" (S/T) LP Alien8 Recordings (Montreal) 2009
Black Feelings/Blue Lions split 7" Fan Service Records (Montreal/London) 2009
"Aum Shinrkyo Endless Montreal" cassette tape Pasalymany Records (Montreal) 2008

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Bio

Black Feelings are the essence of a power trio: each member of the three-piece exhibiting a great deal of power while the whole remains balanced. Conisiting of two former members of Montreal’s Les Angles Morts, the band has developed a unique a hybrid of the British post punk and experimental scenes that spawned the likes of This Heat, Gang of Four and the Pop Group with heavy traces of psychedelic-goth and cold wave. Like American band The Liars, Black Feelings’ penchant for combining a variety of influences to conjure up a sound that is both retro and vitally fresh at the same time. The band’s main vocalist and drummer Owain Lawson is kept busy as he sings and holds down the rhythm section alongside fellow founding member and bassist Brian Mitchell, while the sound is rounded out with shimmering guitar and synth flourishes provided by Kyle Fostner.

Listening to Black feelings self-titled debut is never dull, as moody vibes ebb and flow throughout the long player carried by propulsive bass and drums. For a small band these guys have a huge sound. The drums have an almost war song intensity that helps drive the music alongside the bass, guitars, and synth all the while delivering really catchy anthemic songs. The feeling one experiences listening to this self-titled debut is very positive, yet with a lingering feelings of darkness hiding in the shadows.