Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Take It Slow, Take It Easy On Me

Several new Feist tracks are floating around, and what I’ve heard so far shows huge promise for her upcoming album The Reminder. The bouncing piano chords, up-tempo beat and catchy electric guitar hook on “My Moon My Man” remind me of some of Spoon’s best work. This raw live version of “1 2 3 4” is strong as well, and piques my interest as to what the fully produced album version will sound like. Feist’s new album is set for a May 1st North American release and debuts here in Europe on April 23rd. A European mini-tour will bring the lovely Canadian songstress to London on April 17th, and you can expect her in Ottawa on May 31st, smack in the middle of a flurry of North American engagements early this summer. Do yourself a favour and go see her.

Feist - My Moon My Man
Feist - 1 2 3 4 (Live)

- Andrew (the one in London)

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Zombies, Ferraris, Revenge

Tight jeans, nike high-tops, and pulsating synths: Kavinsky takes us on an eighties time warp with his ‘1986’ EP, released yesterday. The new EP features a SebastiAn remix of Testarossa Autodrive, which was originally released last year, among other solid tracks. A London EP release party is scheduled for March 12th at Sin. Check out the Testarossa Autodrive video:

Kavinsky - Wayfarer
Kavinsky - Testarossa Autodrive (SebastiAn Remix)

- Andrew (the one in London)

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Bonde do Role

I caught Junior Boys at Dingwalls in Camden last night (seriously amazing show) and was pleasantly surprised by openers Bonde do Role. The trio's spastic dance routine and Portugese/English rappping over old school beats quickly won over a crowd largely there to experience the Boys' frigid and precise electro. As I learned from a fan at the show, the Brazilian crew is notorious for their high energy shows and standout tracks from upcoming release With Lasers definitely hint at the intensity of their live perfomances.

Bonde do Role - Gasolina

-Andrew M.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Piecing it together

Born Ruffians are poised to become one of Canada's hottest bands, if they aren't already. 2006 saw the Midland, Ontario three-piece on a summer trek through the United Kingdom and returning home to tour North America with Hot Chip. Born Ruffians also passed the fall by with shows alongside Tokyo Police Club and Beirut. And they've hit the ground running in 2007: ending January with three shows in New York City, two of them opening for sold-out Swedish export, Peter, Bjorn and John.

Born Ruffians' self-titled EP was released last October and despite being just shy of 16-minutes long, it contains some of the year's most engaging rock music. The band's music is chaotic, even schizophrenic in parts. Fortunately for the listener, Born Ruffians are able to control the chaos and the results are catchy, exciting bursts of inventive rock music. Working at the same time are singer/guitarist Luke LaLonde's howling vocals that range from yelps and barks to falsetto which make the band's sound distinct.

Only time will tell if Born Ruffians can follow up their stellar debut or if the bar has been set too high. I can't recommend these guys enough. If you are in Ontario, you can check them out in March - they're in Ottawa at Zaphod's on March 23 with locals Fucked Corpse .

-Andrew (the one in Ottawa)

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Think About Dancing

There was a pizza party on Sunday and everyone came out. The whole crew trekked down to 59 Argyle and ate pizza, drank and danced all night. Quebexico came in from Toronto, Ottawa locals Fucked Corpse did their thing, and hot-to-trot Montrealers Think About Life even came to town as the headliners.

"59 Argyle - what the heck is that?", you say. Well, 59 Argyle is kind of an Ottawa legend; located on the corner of Argyle Avenue and Elgin Street directly across from the Ottawa Police Station, not only is the subdivided three-storey a functional house for five but also serves as one of the city's most unique music venues. Plus beers are like $2.

-Andrew W

Monday, February 12, 2007

Too Many Y's

Lymbyc Systym - Birds (zShare)
Lymbyc Systym - Truth Skull

Lymbyc Systym's debut full-length, Love Your Abuser, is out now on Mush Records. Despite the vaguely sadomasochistic implications of the title, these instrumentals are richly textured, tempo shifting pop. Particularly on "Birds," we find swelling percussion sections breathing life into simple keyboard melodies, creating songs that bloom and recede with seamless precision. If you like what you hear, Montreal's Hylozoists are making similarly serene instrumentals.

Hylozoists - Strait is the Gate

Also on Mush, a personal favorite track of mine:

Bibio - Zoopraxiphone


Friday, February 09, 2007

And I swear to the stars, I’ll burn this whole city down

Or at least Shepherd’s Bush Empire. The Decemberists last played at the London venue in November of 2004, and judging by the band members’ awe-inspired glances to the top tiers of this venerable Victorian concert hall and Colin Meloy’s glowing praise of the crowd throughout the night, the band was happy to be back.

All three balcony levels and the venue’s floor were packed. As The Decemberists took the stage the crowd roared, and then absolute silence reigned until Mr. Meloy strummed the unmistakable opening chords of The Crane Wife 3 on the 12 string electric-acoustic guitar that he was to use almost exclusively throughout the night. John Moen’s frenetic yet tender syncopated drumming brought the other performers into the mix and the show was underway. As the band blended carefully into The Island, fans exchanged glances wondering if a live run-through of The Crane Wife was in store. Jumping quickly into Billy Liar from the plaintive closing chords of You’ll Not Feel The Drowning dispelled these suspicions and the house now buzzed with a previously suppressed excitement as the entire standing section began dancing about. The energy level remained high as the band went from strength to strength with fan favourites We Both Go Down Together, The Engine Driver, and Yankee Bayonet. Addressing the audience, Meloy was soft-spoken yet eloquent and didn’t shy away from sprinkling praise on the crowd, variously referring to the assemblage of Londoners and a substantial number of American ex-pats as “trendy”, “savvy” and “a fantastic audience”. Between bouts of running around on stage, guitarist/multi-instrumentalist Chris Funk encouraged the crowd to clap along.

The down tempo Shankhill Butchers provided the crowd a break from dancing, if not singing along, but this respite was to be short-lived. After a little banter with members of the audience, Colin Meloy choreographed a funky calisthenics intermission including stretches and jumping to a bass-driven beat. This served well to prepare everyone for O Valencia!, likely the overall crowd favourite, and the rollicking 16 Military Wives. Like an eccentric Maestro, Meloy split the floor in two sections (physically) and incorporated the hall’s three balconies as separate choir sections for the song’s “La-di-da-di-da-didi-didi-da” refrains. Gesticulating wildly, under his direction each section of the divided audience attempted to overpower the other, ultimately overlapping thanks to Meloy’s signaling and cooperatively creating a beautiful and powerful ending to the song. Meloy appeared to be extremely pleased with the outcome. “I think I even heard some harmonies up there”, he noted, referring to the seemingly distant third tier balcony.

After all the excitement, The Crane Wife 1’s gentle melody was received with quiet appreciation. A droning melodica noted the beginning of Sons & Daughters and the crowd predicted with apprehension that the show was drawing to a close. However, the night’s performance was far from over. Boldly enlisting the help of audience members, Meloy commandeered several fans to help complete the song. Venue security hoisted the lucky few over the barriers and onto the stage as both band and audience began chanting, “hear all the bombs fade away”. This went on for several minutes until the performers disappeared, leaving their fledgling apprentices on stage and the audience screaming for more.

After an obligatory few minutes of floor pounding, chanting, screaming and general remonstrations of “one more song”, the band reappeared in full and began their first encore set with Eli, The Barrowboy. The crowd seemed suitably impressed by the performance of this somber number; screams of “Eli!” had been heard from all sections of the audience throughout the show. Meloy had promised “special surprises” earlier in the evening and these surprises appeared in the form of guest performances by Robyn Hitchcock and Mike Scott (of The Waterboys fame). At the close of the encore set Meloy confessed: “that essentially is my 16 year old self’s rock fantasy pornography. Let that sit in your mind for a while and carry you home.” Fortunately, it would be A Cautionary Song that would end the night and carry us all home.

Just three members returned for the one-song second encore; Meloy on acoustic guitar, Jenny Conlee on accordion and Nate Query on upright bass. “I get a sense that you are a kind of seedy lot”, Meloy proclaimed, before launching into their final song of the evening amidst wild cheers from the crowd. A Cautionary Song was interrupted midway through for a reenactment of the American War of Independence. “The Decembersits’ Travelling Players” made their way through the crowd searching for recruits; John Moen played the role of leader of the British redcoats (to much acclaim), Chris Funk was loudly booed for representing the Americans, and Jenny Conlee assembled her group of Native Americans. Unlike the actual historical version, the reenactment ended with the arrival of a meteorite that “smote” all involved.

This last song was the sole representative from Castaways and Cutouts (still my favourite Decemberists album) and the only Her Majesty track to made an appearance was Billy Liar, which was extremely well-received by the then-boisterous audience. I got the feeling surveying the crowd and speaking with other attendees that the majority of the audience was largely familiar only with material from The Crane Wife. But no matter, as both the band and crowd were in top form, making for an enjoyable experience for new and diehard fans alike.

“Thanks for being such a great audience, you’ve been fantastic”, Colin Meloy earnestly imparted as the band ambled offstage.
No, thank you, Decemberists.

-Andrew (the one in London)

The Decemberists, Shepherd's Bush Empire, London
February 8, 2007

1. The Crane Wife 3
2. The Island: Come and See/The Landlord's Daughter/You'll Not Feel The Drowning
3. Billy Liar
4. We Both Go Down Together
5. The Engine Driver
6. Yankee Bayonet (I Will Be Home Then)
7. Shankhill Butchers
Exercise Intermission
8. O Valencia!
9. 16 Military Wives
10. The Crane Wife 1
11. Sons & Daughters

First Encore:
12. Eli, The Barrowboy
13. Madonna Of The Wasps (with Robyn Hitchcock)
14. Fisherman's Blues (with Mike Scott of The Waterboys)

Second Encore:
15. A Cautionary Song (with American War of Independence reenactment)

The Decemberists - The Engine Driver
The Decemberists - Eli, The Barrowboy

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Sweden on Blast

Scandinavians undoubtedly are some smart people. Just look at them. Attractive women. High GDP per capita. Social programs that are more or less the envy of the rest of the world. An unquenchable desire to consume vast amounts of herring. Fjords. You get the picture.

It's not that surprising then to notice just how much fantastic music is emanating from that part of the world at the moment then, from repurposed pop covers to Danish jazz to something so weird and eccentric it hasn't even been given a trendy, blogosphere-marketable name yet. But it's inevitable that moments of genius are being discovered much more frequently in areas with huge numbers of fluent English speakers and broadband penetration unparalleled even by the Japanese.

Cut City, a Gothenburg, Sweden three piece, dispel the myth that New York City and England hold the monopoly on revisionist post-punk inspirations, but they do prove that the infamous sound pioneered by Joy Division and others will not be slowly put to its death anytime soon by an army of Interpol-lite wannabes.

With the release of their debut Exit Decades February 6, Cut City promise to prolong the debate on the legitimacy of a subgenre much-maligned by critics of new music by offering up a serviceable album that effectively mixes the trademark offering of high synths and low toned, drawn out vocals. Lead vocalist and guitarist Max Hansson seems careful enough in moderating balance between a necessity to let his lyrics compete with the textured instrumentals laid upon them.

Although this overcautious approach may limit the number of spectacular moments found on Exit Decades, there remain a number of opportunities throughout the album to point out their understanding of their influences. By adding their own well thought out interpretations of angular guitar work, we may be given an indication of what the sonical future holds for the likes of groups such as Cut City, Interpol, and Bloc Party. While counterbalancing your predecessors' sound with an updated twist may seem like a paltry homage to the music of years gone by, when done effectively as Cut City has on Exit Decades it serves as a successful reminder that a modernized version of a well known staple can remain viable. The question yet to be determined is whether there remains enough room in the mindsets of active listeners for bands that are good but not great. It will be groups such as Cut City that ultimately will succeed or fail depending on that determination.

Cut City - The Dull Miles (zshare)

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Agent #2

Fans of everything from Islands to The Shins may take a liking to the new grooves of Cloud Cult. Their new album, ‘The Meaning of 8’, is due out April 10th (but you can buy it online right now) and contains a solid, fluid track list of complex and innovative musicianship. Check out their myspace for some more tracks.

Cloud Cult - Your 8th Birthday (zShare)

We’re all excited for the Think About Life show next Sunday. Returning from Montreal for another intimate basement show / pizza party to a sold out Ottawa crowd. Look for postings and media coverage next week, and their myspace for more info and music from this highly recommended band.

Think About Life - Paul Cries (zShare)

Monday, February 05, 2007

Canada Signing In

Welcome to Bridging the Atlantic, the international blog sensation. I am coming in from Ottawa, Ontario and Andrew will be keeping your hipster playlist bumping from jolly old London, England. Periodically we'll have guest features from our friends, and though I am hesitant to forecast that our writing staff will multiply in both size and physical attractiveness in the coming months, it's safe to say that random contributions are a guarantee. Our tastes in music are diverse, so whatever it is you like from TV On The Radio to Sonic Youth to Peter Bjorn and John to Spank Rock to MF Doom, we'll do our best to accommodate you.

Klaxons - Golden Skans (zShare)

New Rave? Thanks to the good ol' NME these guys have been thrown into a blossoming pseudo-genre. Labels aside, Klaxons craft some dope shit that you can dance along with...for Rapture and Hot Chip fans.

Frightened Rabbit - Be Less Rude (zShare)

Frightened Rabbit are two brothers who take on drum and guitar duties, playing Americanized Glasgow indie. Harmonicas are probably my eighth favorite thing in the world, just ahead of bungee jumping and narrowly trailing Dave Coulier.