Patrick Watson Lion D’Or, Montreal QC - September 26

For the release of his album, Close To Paradise, Patrick Watson managed to create the perfect storm of local media. Covers of alt-weeklies, online buzz, radio and even the ever elusive TV interview all came together to create one of the more anticipated and attended CD releases of the year. The evening took place several blocks east of the Plateau’s Anglo hip at the Lion D’Or, a big, rambling room usually occupied par les groupes Francais. With 500 people packed into a 300-person room, Pat Watson and his band (whose name seems to change with every interview) demonstrated that they are a band apart from the indie du jour groups of which the city is overflowing. Whether it’s the group’s wide-ranging musical resumes, or whether it is Watson himself, a slightly anachronistic crooner with boatloads of barfly charm, in person they are a force to be reckoned with. They’ve got songs of big stage peaks and valleys reminiscent in the best way of Coldplay (something Watson will attack you for saying) but they also have songs like "Mr. Tom,” which are possessed of such heart-breaking melody and tone that you’ll cry a little inside. The highlight was undoubtedly "Man Under the Sea,” which the boys started off acoustically before an entire horn section appeared in an upper balcony out of nowhere. I think that’s what they call a "showstopper.” This is the first release for new local label Secret City Records, an offshoot of respected Jazz imprint Justin Time Records, who have also signed Miracle Fortress, the much buzzed about solo offering from Think About Life’s Graham Van Pelt. All in all, both the band and the label could not have hoped for a better entry into the city’s big leagues.