TOPS Cabaret du Mile End, Montreal, QC, September 21

TOPSCabaret du Mile End, Montreal, QC, September 21
Photo: Steve Louie
Just like most Quebecers don't know that the widely used expression ''câline de bine'' comes from a distortion of English-speaking coalminers yelling ''Coal in the bin,'' Arbutus Records' signees and Salvation Army double-diamond customers TOPS probably have no idea that had they been releasing music in French 25 years ago in La Belle Province, they would have made sure one-hit wonders like Nuance did not make history.

Opening their set with a bossa nova-cum-Fleetwood Mac-Tango in the Night-era number, the ex-Silly Kissers appeared to have grown away from certain synth pop sonorities and let more space for guitarist David Carriere's creative guitar lines. Comparable to the other bands in the Arbutus bastion, TOPS might be an acquired taste, but the quartet have made sure they know where they're going and who they are bringing along.

To see Exclaim!'s Pop Montreal photo gallery, head here.