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Osheaga 2011 Preview

Osheaga 2011
Osheaga 2011 Preview
Article by: Max Mertens

This year's Osheaga Music Festival takes place July 29-31 at the beautiful Parc Jean-Drapeau in Montreal.

Having expanded from two days to three, the festival has about 100 acts playing on five stages. While you're probably familiar with the headliners — Eminem, Elvis Costello and The Flaming Lips, as well as acts like Lupe Fiasco, Death From Above 1979, Broken Social Scene and Tokyo Police Club, there are plenty more lesser known artists. Here are my five picks for can't-miss acts at this year's festival.

Glass Candy

My cousin introduced me to the music of Glass Candy a few years ago, and I'm glad I'm finally getting the chance to see the Italo disco duo from Portland, Oregon perform live. The enterprising band (they formed their own label Italians Do It Better in 2008) consists of lead singer Ida No, who sounds like Debbie Harry if the Blondie frontwoman grew up on kraut rock and hip-hop, and guitarist/synth twister Johnny Jewel. Just try to listen to songs like "Digital Versicolour" or "Computer Love" — the latter of which re-interprets the Kraftwerk song of the same name — without tapping your toes. Do you remember the Body Break fitness commercials from the 90s? I'm willing to bet that matching tracksuit-wearing hosts Hal Johnson and Joanne McLeod have at least one Glass Candy album on their iPods.

If you feel like working up a sweat, Glass Candy play the Scène Verte stage Friday at 5:45 p.m.


I saw Montreal's Jesuslesfilles at NXNE when they played on the festival's first inaugural "Bruise Cruise". I'd never heard of the band before, but what I did see was enough to impress me. Jesuslesfilles are Martin Blackburn (vocals, guitar), Azure De Grâce (vocals, tambourine), Philippe Hamelin (guitar), Pascal (bass) and Benoit Poirier (drums), and they recently released an excellent split cassette (yup, you read that right) with The Peelies (you can also download it on the band's Bandcamp page). While they sing completely in French, their fast, loud and messy garage rock transcends any language barriers.

If you like The Black Lips, Mark Sultan, or King Khan & The Shrines, than check out Jesuslesfilles on the Scène Des Arbres stage Saturday at 1:10 p.m.

Frightened Rabbit

There must be something in the water in Scotland. How else can you explain the number of talented indie pop and rock bands that have came out of the country in the past ten years? Belle & Sebastian, Camera Obscura, Franz Ferdinand, The Fratellis, The Twilight Sad...the list of Scottish-grown musical talent is deep. Soon to join those ranks should be Frightened Rabbit, a five-piece from Glasgow, who are getting better with every album. Their most recent effort, last year's The Winter Of Mixed Drinks, shows a band that is capable of finding the positivity even in the darkest of emotions. Listen to the infectiously catchy "Swim Until You Can't See Land" if you don't believe me.

Frightened Rabbit hits the Scène de la Montagne stage Sunday at 2:10 p.m.

Smith Westerns

f you need an indication of how popular Chicago's Smith Westerns have gotten in the past two years, look no further than their touring schedule. Besides playing Osheaga, they've also been busy on the North American and world summer festival circuit, including stops at Vancouver's Sasquatch! Music Festival, Chicago's Lollapalooza, Tennessee's Bonnaroo Festival and the U.K.'s Reading Festival. If that wasn't enough for you, the quartet was recently asked to open for Arctic Monkeys on their North American and European tour. The band's sophomore album, Dye It Blonde, was released in mid-January and I'm still listening to it six months later. If you haven't heard them before, think Marc Bolan and Bowie glam rock hooks crossed with Britpop melodies, with youthful lyrics about love, lust and lazy weekends.

Smith Westerns play the Scène Verte stage Sunday at 3 p.m.

Jamie XX

While I wouldn't necessary call him underrated — The XX were one of the most buzzed about bands in 2009 — not everyone is as familiar with the solo work of the British band's multi-instrumentalist/producer Jamie Smith. Since the success of their Mercury Prize-winning debut album, Jamie XX hasn't slowed down, establishing himself as a talented DJ and putting out a stream of well-received remixes. This culminated in this year's We're New Here, which saw Smith take songs from the late American musician/poet Gil Scott-Heron's I'm New Here, and reworked them to incorporate elements of U.K. garage electronica and dubstep. He also remixed Adele's smash hit "Rolling In The Deep", which spawned many remixes of its own. On "Far Nearer" and "Beat For", two songs off his upcoming solo album, Smith has shown that he is capable of making minimalist electronic music unlike nobody else (yes, those are steel drums).

Catch Jamie XX DJing at the relatively intimate Scène Piknic Electronik stage Sunday at 6:30 p.m.