[sxsw2012] From avant-pop hot-spot Montreal, TOPS play dreamy 80s-inspired slow-burners

From the ever-exceptional Montreal music community surrounding the Arbutus label – previously responsible for releasing early music by acclaimed experimental songstress GRIMES and ethereal out-there outfit BRAIDS – come dream-pop quartet TOPS. At yesterday’s Pop Montreal showcase, they put on one of the more memorable sets of SXSW so far.

I first heard of TOPS a few months ago via some friends involved in DIY show organizing in Boston, while different bookers were trying to get together a local stop on their tour from Canada to Austin. I unfortunately missed that show, but after hearing their infectious debut LP Tender Opposites (out late February via Arbitus) and reading Grimes’ post on them during her Gorilla Vs. Bear takeover last month, I knew they’d be a band to catch in Austin. Here’s a highlight of that recording; six-minute long slow-burner “Double Vision”.

About an hour after I interviewed them in the back of a bike shop (photo above, video coming soon) their set at yesterday’s Pop Montreal showcase solidified those suspicions. For such a young band, their breed of off-kilter pop is notably sophisticated, with touches of 80s AM radio pop influences, weirdo minimalism, slowed-down avant-pop synth, and dreamy vox that teeter between breathy and chirpy.

On their way to SXSW, they played one of the Allston warehouse spaces – but something tells me that next time they’re in town, they'll likely be playing somewhere more noticeable.

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