In Montreal, we have the confluence of three rivers. A port
city that serves as a transshipment point to Europe, it is
influenced by, and influences other cities. For the better
part of the 20th Century, Montreal was the place to be in
Canada, and during prohibition, it was a nearby destination
for New Yorkers and Bostonians.
Montreal had a 24 hour thing going for those who wanted to
hear music. It was Capital City for Jazz, for a while.
Head north from the foot of Broadway. Stay on the road. It
takes you through Montreal to points
north. Stop in Montreal around 1981. In cheap clubs that
stayed open until six o'clock, bands played punk, funk, romance,
ambient. Some made big waves, many didn't, but were just as
brilliant. Here are some of them.
MP3 sound recordings for all of these artists can be found
Started as a diversion, AOA quickly eclipsed the bands that
its members came from. The brainchild of Alex MacDonald, Andrew
Frank, and Kevin Komoda, AOA was in its original form, the
closest that anybody had ever gotten to Kraftwerk. Komoda
was in with some of nouvelle vague's coolest
bands, including Echo and The Bunnymen and Simple Minds, and
often accompanied them on the club dates that both bands were
playing in eastern North America at the time.
Alex MacDonald, a well known alumnus from the west island
scene who was busy in the studio (often playing guitar for
Jaymz Bee) and on stage as the musical force behind Joe Tomorrow,
brought to the AOA mix a guitar style that can be best described
as punctuated fluidity. He was certainly the only guitarist
that I have met who could play Al Stewart's "Denise at
Sixteen" without any difficulty.
With Kevin Komoda's departure (to join Rational Youth), Andrew
Frank began to form AOA into a much larger musical unit, adding
a drummer, an expanded keyboard section, vocalists, and a
horn section. With the broadened lineup, AOA took on funk,
and eventually, a new name: Seven Sisters.
Losing Alex MacDonald along the way, Seven Sisters became
a touring band, often sistering with Toronto's Parachute