Locals Only - CFCF Lists His Five Favorite Spots in Montreal
- Words: Glenn Jackson
Locals Only is a new feature in which we ask an artist to give us the inside scoop on his or her hometown, specifically by telling us about their favorite restaurant, bar, club, and record store, along with a unique locale of their choosing.
Much has changed in the four years since Mike Silver issued his debut LP as CFCF, Continent. The R&B and disco undercurrents of that record eventually transformed into acoustic collages on 2011's Exercises, which were followed this year by the repetitious compositions of Music for Objects. Earlier this month, CFCF offered up Outside, an album that was largely written while he was traveling on trains and buses. It's his sophomore full-length for Dummy/Paper Bag, and an effort that in many ways ties together the diverse musical avenues he's explored over the years. Still, despite all his stylistic changes, one thing has remained constant for CFCF—his home base of Montreal. Given his status as a Montreal lifer, we figured that Silver would be an excellent candidate for this inaugural edition of Locals Only, and he was kind enough to send along a few words about a handful of his favorite haunts.
Restaurant: Chalet BBQ
5456 Sherbrooke St. West
This is the rotisserie-chicken mecca of Montreal. The story goes that the Canadian chain Swiss Chalet is just a total rip-off of this place, and that becomes clear from the moment you walk in; wood-panel walls from the '50s and no-nonsense waitresses who have probably been there just as long are Chalet's calling cards. The secret here is in the sauce. Chalet BBQ has been a staple in my family, especially for special occasions, so I have some personal attachment. Sure, it's no fine-dining experience, and it's completely across town from where I live, but I will go there at the drop of a hat. The chicken is that insanely good.
5322 Saint-Laurent Blvd.
As far as bars go in Montreal, I can't imagine naming any other as my resident watering hole. Opened a few years back—and employing various friends, family, and neighbors—it's a cozy, slightly British-pub-style bar where you just go and talk too loud for too long while drinking too much poison. The vibe is totally unpretentious and it's just home for me as far as bars go.
Club: Casa Del Popolo
4873 Saint-Laurent Blvd.
This is as close as I come to "clubbing." I don't really ever go to places that have dancefloors unless I'm playing them, so if there's a time when I want to be amongst a reasonable spattering of friends and strangers working towards inebriation, this is the place; there's a bar on one side and a venue on the other, with an intimate (read as tiny) patio in the back. Every year, I play a Halloween party here with my friend Mark Slutsky, which is almost always a completely messy shit-show in the absolute best sense of the word.
Record Shop: Cheap Thrills/ Phonopolis/ Sonorama
2044 Metcalfe St./ 207 Bernard O./ 260 Bernard O.
I can't really choose one record store because when I go record shopping, it's all about the subtle differences between shops and what you can find there. Cheap Thrills is basically the preeminent indie record shop in the city, and it's the same tiny attic it ever was with a reliably great selection, especially of experimental music and fiction books. The reason this place lives on is its intimately curated vibe. Phonopolis is another side of that coin, with similarly great taste with a slightly more rock-minded selection, but I always find awesome old ECM records there, and they also have a huge section dedicated to the Folkways series. Across the street, Sonorama actually rose from the ashes of another record shop, the cluttered St. Denis mainstay Primitive. Luckily, this place is larger and easier to browse, with a truly enormous cheap bin full of surprises. Being less organized and curated than the other stores, Sonorama can be a tiring and much dustier browse, but it's absolutely worth it for satisfying that thrill of finding something totally unexpected.
Other: Chemin Olmsted on Parc du Mont Royal
Since I live in Montreal, and have for basically my whole life, this list is really about the things that make it home for me. I'm very much a routine-based person, and part of that routine has come to involve running on the mountain a few days a week. Parc du Mont Royal's main trail, Chemin Olmsted (named for the famous landscape architect who designed it), is a perfect loping slope that, especially in these fall months, is really wonderful to get (mentally) lost in as I'm unconsciously jogging up and down it. It's kind of a meditative headspace once you're in the groove of the run. In the summer, this gave me a real reason to delve deeper into techno, but lately, I like to go just as it's getting eerily dark and listen to folk, ambient, and Mount Eerie while I run. It kind of becomes exactly that place I pined for on those trains when making Outside—just temporarily—and then the darkness really sets in and I start running to escape it and return to the coziness of my home.
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