Rants + Raves

September 14, 2011

Review: Selina Martin Triage at L’Escrogriffe

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Written by: Ashleigh
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{Music Review} Montreal | September 7, 2011 | L’Escogriffe w/The Bawdy Electric

Once I was given a ticket to a Sarah Slean show by a pretty enthusiastic fan, though I only knew a handful of her songs, if that. Settling into the Eckhardt-Gramatte hall at the University of Calgary for the Slean show I had zero conception of what I was about to experience, which was theater with really beautiful music, but not musical theater. The Slean show was quirky to say the least, with its short sketches, story-telling and if I remember correctly, poetry sandwiched between the songs. The show was absorbing and most of all very entertaining but not in a gimmicky, shticky sorta way. No, more in a thoughtful, sensitive kind of way; yet fun was at the heart of it.

The Selina Martin Triage show at L’Esco reminded me of that Sarah Slean concert. I was invited to come check out this band by a friend who works at the venue, I was up for whatever, so without even bothering to listen to the myspace page, my show buddy and I wandered down. I had no idea who Selina Martin was or what the Selina Martin Triage sounded like. I’m glad I didn’t, because the delightful surprise waiting for me would have been no great surprise at all.

Selina Martin Triage is made up of Annelise Noronha and Kevin Lacroix and of course Selina Martin. The three took to a rather sparsely set up stage dressed in medical scrubs. There is an obvious absence of a drum kit, what is in its place is probably a floor tom on its side with a hole cut in the skin to make a bass hole; scattered on the stage next to the drum is an assortment of pedals and gadgets. Kevin is practically a one-man band to himself as he sits behind the drum and keeps the steady and relatively simple beat with one foot, manages all the pedals and gadgets with his other foot all while playing bass or sometimes guitar. Annelise plays a mean, mean accordion and sometimes a downright odd but seriously effective guitar (once sounding like an awesome, out of tune, syncopated trumpet?). Annelise’s accordion skills are shown off best in the band’s excellent, slower take on Rush’s Spirit of Radio when she plays that classic, unmistakable keyboard lick on the accordion, rock and roll stance included (okay well, her most fun contribution on accordion is for this song, admittedly it may not be the most impressive accordion part ever, but whatever). Selina’s guitar is comprised of hook after hook; and you’ve heard these hooks before but they are all re-imagined in her music. Selina’s voice is also strangely familiar but not quite enough to draw any meaningful comparisons. That’s the thing about this music, you’ve heard it before, you think, you’re pretty sure, but not quite like this, actually nothing like this. The music is a melange of styles and the songs often switch in mid-stream from one genre to another to make its own thing altogether and it is a lot of fun.

So, how is this anything like that Sarah Slean show? Well for one, the awesome surprise of really connecting with live music when you’ve never heard the band before. I think that can be a difficult thing to achieve by a band and an audience member, but when it does happen, it’s unforgettable. There was also something theatrical to the presentation of the music; not just the band’s scrubs but also the little “nature moments” presented by Selina between songs. Selina seems to be something of a walking nature encyclopedia and while the band trades off instruments and fiddles with gadgets, she deadpans information about creatures like the snowy owl and spiders. Did you grow up in Canada during the 60-80’s? Then you very well recognize that she is referencing CBC’s “Hinterland’s Who’s Who?. Selina is not afraid to show her influences and use her references, she openly talks about how she uses Talking Heads’ (so many <3’s) Life During Wartime as a framework for her Rape During Wartime. She has also written and performed a soundtrack called “Five Hole” which is a film based on the book and play written by Dave Bidini (Rheostatics) about the (homo)erotic language of Hockey (she sings: “I’ve been thinkin’ ’bout your five hole, five hole, five hole”, the five hole being the space between the goalkeepers legs). I like that she doesn’t try to obscure her influences and references, I think that reveals a confidence in her music that is well deserved.

This performance was unlike the Slean show in one very important way. Though I loved the performance that Slean delivered, her recorded music never really caught on with me. Selina Martin’s recorded music has already caught on with me (but I have to give the credit to my show buddy who won us a CD after he correctly identified the Rush cover in her set) and though I would like to tell people to go see her first, listen to her album second that doesn’t really make good business sense for her, so just do both, in whatever order is most convenient for you.

Selina Martin’s newest record is called Disaster Fantasies and this and her previous records are available at:

Montreal at Sonik 4050 rue Berri 514-288-2113, Aux 33 Tours 1379 avenue Du Mont-Royal Est 514-524-7397 and at Cheap Thrills2044 Metcalfe 514-844-8988. In Toronto at Criminal Records 493 Queen St W 416-364-5380. Also online at Outside and atZUNIOR

The album is available on vinyl which comes with a full length CD inside. What?! That’s like 2 for 1! Amazing deal!


About the Author

|Montreal Music Contributor| I have a little room with a big window, a little dog with a big bark, and little bike that goes real fast. I also play music, write essays, research and edit, edit, edit. Here, I write feminist about music.



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