Sunday, April 29, 2007

Remix Sunday

Gosh. One of the best songs of 2007 and now one of the best covers of 2007 . . .
Franz Ferdinand has contributed a bang-up version of LCD Soundsystem's 'All My Friends', complete with a circa-1980s synth and Erol Alkan production.
This cover will be featured on LCD Soundsystem's upcoming All My Friends 7" single, out May 21st on DFA/EMI. Pick up a copy if you get a chance; it'll be a doozie.

LCD Soundsystem - All My Friends

LCD Soundsystem - All My Friends (Franz Ferdinand cover)

-Andrew M

Friday, April 27, 2007

Ah Oui, Comme Ca

These guys claim to be the only successful Arab-Jew combination in history. Chromeo, aka Dave 1 and Pee Thugg, produce music that is a blend of electro dance beats, synthesizers, guitar and Daft Punk-styled vocoder. I thought they were ridiculous the first time I heard 'Needy Girl', from debut album She's In Control. It was then that I realized that over the top dance music is exactly what they are going for. It's shameless and some of the most danceable stuff I've heard in ages. The Vice Records duo is set to follow their solid debut with Fancy Footwork this spring. The title track was released/leaked a while back and shows some serious potential for the follow-up disc; I particularly like the Michael Jackson throwback intro and the song itself is just as good as anything they've put out so far.

Chromeo - Fancy Footwork

-Andrew W

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Johan Agebjörn

Johan Agebjörn is a Swedish musician and producer whose musical tastes include electro, ambient, house, classical and italo disco. Agebjörn is best known outside Sweden for his work producing, writing (except for one track) and providing backup vocals for Sally Shapiro's album Disco Romance; rumour has it that he heard Shapiro singing a Christmas carol and knew right away that he had to create a record with her.
However, Agebjörn's other projects are worth a listen as well; I particularly enjoy his live DJ mix for German webradio station Welt-am-Draht. During the 58 minute 'We Go All Night Long' session he mixes together vintage italo disco cuts, his new Sally Shapiro tracks, and a variety of other material. The performance demonstrates that not only is Agebjörn a solid composer and producer, but also a skilled DJ.
Also check out his myspace page for an awesome Mega Man II remix (featuring original 8-bit NES samples).

Johan Agebjörn - We Go All Night Long

-Andrew M

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Remix Sunday - Lost in Translation

For the past two weeks I was lost in translation traveling around Japan, and what a fine experience I had. Among the many other pleasant surprises Japan had in store for me, while dining at a particularly sketchy restaurant in Kyoto last week I chanced to overhear a Japanese version of Peter Bjorn and John's 'Young Folks' playing on a local radio station. The lunchtime crowd of salarymen was largely unappreciative. After conducting further research I learned from Japanese friends that this rendition of PBJ's catchy tune is quite popular with the kids there and is commonly referred to as "the whistling song" in Japan.
I've not yet been able to track down that Japanese-lyric version, but did run across a nice late-2006 cover by Japanese musician Shugo Tokumaru. Tokumaru's cover is very similar to the original but with airy vocals and a slightly different hustling instrumentation. However, it is a charmer. Listen for yourself:

Peter Bjorn and John - Young Folks

Peter Bjorn and John - Young Folks (Shugo Tokumaru cover)

-Andrew M

Friday, April 20, 2007

Springin' Forward

I guess Ottawa deserved one last fight with winter after the short one we had, but finally its April 18th and actually feels like it. Blue sky, light can't beat the sigh of relief that is spring. And with spring comes a whole bunch of songs that will no doubt go on to soundtrack the upcoming summer. Here are a couple that I know will be in high rotation for the months to come.

A friend of mine told me that Dan Deacon is set to be the new Wesley Willis (RIP), but I see way more potential here than in songs about rock and roll McDonalds and ratnest mullets - no offense Wesley, you were too brilliant. The Crystal Cat is by far the most accessible track I've heard by Deacon: It caught me with its pounding kick drum and electronic chords but only takes off from there. The build up of vocals (both clean and vocoder-ed) and a simple key change make the song really soar and super catchy. Wham City is a stunner clocking in at over 12 minutes, but it changes enough and grows to make those minutes fly by. If you can get past the super high pitched vocoder squeals and chaotic electronics, I think Dan Deacon's got a lot to offer. His album, Spiderman of the Rings is due out May 8th on Carpark Records and Dan is set to rock Ottawa on July 10 at Zaphods, obvi.

Dan Deacon - The Crystal Cat(zShare)
Dan Deacon - Wham City (zShare)

I dont think many new Bloc Party songs are going to make my summer mixes, but I just found this gem by Ed Banger, SebastiAn, remixing the mediocre MTV ditty, I Still Remember. It starts with synth chords reminiscent of The Who but SebastiAn quickly adds in his signature forceful 'banging' rhythm, sweeping sounds and darker tone. Maybe its not the bright summery song we want in the summer, but its a party track for sure. I can only hope that he uses this track during his set when he opens for Daft Punk (with Kavinsky and The Rapture) this summer.

Bloc Party - I Still Remember (SebastiAn remix) (zShare)

In other Ottawa news, Kanye West is playing Bluesfest this summer.

-Enjoy, Andrew W.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Nothing and Everything

Call it fate or luck, but 24 hours before Mates of State were scheduled to play the Spring Scream festival in Kenting, Taiwan, I happened to be obliviously browsing the band’s website. Immediately following this exciting discovery my girlfriend and I packed a bag and make the two-hour trip south on our Vespa. Our heads filled with Mates of State’s contagious indie-pop anthems and genuinely sappy ballads helped to build the anticipation as we made the beautiful trek south.

After arriving at the festival we learned that MOS would be playing the “indie” stage, filled with American indie bands, most of which I’ve never heard of. The first band we saw was a four-piece bar mitzvah-inspired act from NYC by the name of One Ring Zero. Their Jewish backgrounds were made obvious by the lead instruments: accordion, claviola, and theramin; I couldn’t help but think that they’d break into a rendition of Hava Nagila (you know - the Jewish wedding song). Their set was filled waltzes and pop tracks glazed with lyrics commissioned from various renowned poets including Margaret Atwood, Paul Auster and Rick Moody. Their sheer novelty was reason enough for listening, but this genre is not for everyone.

With our dancing feet warmed up and plenty of room in front of the stage, Kori and Jason took their places. They opened the set with the chugging chords of ‘Fraud in the '80s’ and I was immediately impressed at how the two command their stage. The chemistry between husband and wife duo filled the stage and spilled into the crowd until everyone was intoxicated by how incredibly adorable they are. Their set included a balance of tracks from Bring it Back and Team Boo including ‘Beautiful Dreamer’, ‘Think Long’, ‘Ha Ha Ha’ and ‘Goods’.

Unfortunately, the setlist was limited by a malfunctioning “D” key on Kori’s organ, preventing the band from playing favourites ‘Running Out’ and ‘Punchlines’. Nevertheless, ‘Like U Crazy’ stole the night when the crowd, the majority of whom weren’t familiar with MOS, swayed and sang along to the infectious “ah-ah-ah…like you crazy” lyrics.

Kori and Jason showed no signs of jet lag throughout the show, belting out their tight melodies and producing a powerful organ-driven dance groove like no other. Even though the twao of us appeared to be the only ones there specifically to see the Mates, there is no doubt that the Taiwanese crowd found every minute pleasing to their ears.

-Marc Bertrand

Mates of State, Spring Scream Festival (Hillside Stage), Kenting, Taiwan
April 7, 2007

Mates of State - For the Actor
Mates of State - Like U Crazy

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Remix Sunday - An Oldie but Greatie

This was one of my favourite tracks of 2005/06. R.I.P. DFA 1979. Sebastian Grainger, a former camp counsellor of mine and Final Fantasy (aka Owen Pallett) rework Black History Month - one of DFA79's best tracks - with some epic strings and a solid disco beat.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Remix Smonday

The weekly remix feature has been pushed back a day due to complications involving the Easter weekend and its latest problems with the Hare Club For Men and the Pope (see the new South Park). This week's remixes come courtesy of Teenagers, Van She, and Mississauga stars MSTRKFT. Original versions of these tracks are out there, but I think each remix outdoes its source material.

Simian Mobile Disco - The Beat (Teenagers Remix)

Dragonette - I Get Around
Dragonette - I Get Around (Van She Vocal Remix)

Armand Van Helden - NYC Beat (MSTRKRFT Remix)

- Brad

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Gloomy Buoyance

Many regard Edwin Morgan among Scotland's greatest poets. My first encounter with his work came with the release of Idlewild's 2002 album The Remote Part. That album solidified the band as one of my personal favorites, and particularly striking was the album closer "In Remote Part/Scottish Fiction." The song features Morgan reciting his poem Scottish Fiction, written exclusively for the album, as the track comes to a thunderous conclusion. A snippet of that poem: "It's a red haunting vibration pushing through the walls of dark imagination, finding no equation." I won't pretend to always understand the intentions of the prose, but his structure and tone resound differently than many poets before him. It was a pleasant surprise then, to discover that Idlewild has teamed with Morgan once again on the new track, "The Weight of Years." Morgan himself does not appear on the song, but all lyrics are his. Roddy Woomble's youthful take on the 86 year-old's words is at times inspiring and at times somber, realizing how Morgan's description of elderly deterioration and acceptance must have been difficult to formulate on paper. Traditional highland string arrangements add to the melancholy, further imprinting Idlewild's footsteps on the cultural landscape of Scotland.

Idlewild - In Remote Part/Scottish Fiction
Idlewild - The Weight of Years

- Brad

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Capture the Flag

Boston by way of Brooklyn's Nurse and Soldier make music after putting in the nine to five at their respective day jobs. With a little more exposure, who knows, maybe they'd need to find part time work to supplement being a full time band. Regardless if their fortune changes, I'm glad I stumbled upon their work. "Green Tea" is a sparse track with few discernible lyrics. Whatever is being said stays relatively incomprehensible, as its buried deep beneath the slow-cycling lounge instrumentation. The band sounds completely different on "Capture the Flag," as the two vocalists harmonize over the sound of pulsating bleeps and drenched guitars.

Nurse and Soldier - Green Tea
Nurse and Soldier - Capture the Flag

Another newly discovered act for this side of Atlantic (Andrew M may have heard more buzz across the pond) is France's Joakim, whose sound is tricky to dismiss into just one existing genre. New single "Lonely Hearts" has been described around the web as house, indie, electronica and numerous other things that don't really give any clear indication of what to expect. My first inclination was to draw comparisons to Hot Chip and a late 80's style of monotonous vocal pitch...listen and judge for yourself. His label Versatile Records cites him as "a major figure of French modern electronic music" who is both "multi talented and well-cultivated." His sound is certainly refined and meticulously shaped, making the latter description most appropriate.

Joakim - Lonely Hearts

The Exclaim! Spring Fling tour rolls through Ottawa tonight and Bridging the Atlantic will be attending in full force...we'll be sure to post a review with photos of Chromeo's fancy footwork and clear guitars...

- Brad

Monday, April 02, 2007

Lost Underground

It's no surprise that Arcade Fire chose Brighton's Electrelane as openers for select Neon Bible tour dates. Current single "To the East" has a few shades of Funeral, with a beat akin to "Rebellion (Lies)" and sharply wavering vocals that bring to mind Régine Chassagne crossed with Nico. With continued listening, you'll find that Electrelane quickly deviates from expectations, offering unique harmonies that show an impressive vocal range from frontwoman Verity Susman and guitarist Mia Clarke.

Electrelane - To The East

Continuing on the theme of female vocal harmonies, we have Palomar. The Brooklyn natives can be sorted into the category of bands I've heard little of, but have been thoroughly impressed with. Small dose, big reward; kind of like getting your Hepatitis vaccination before heading to Varadero. When Palomar III: Revenge of Palomar dropped in 2004, it failed to draw much attention. For me though, songs like "The Planeiac" and "Work is a State Function" combined somewhat cynical, cheeky lyrical approaches with fast and bubbly guitars, providing ample reasons for repeated listening. From the first glimpses of the new album, All Things, Forests seems to be a healthy improvement on their already polished sound. "Our Haunt" adds a bit of melancholy to the mix before a saccharine guitar solo closes out the song. Album opener "Bury Me Closer" is equally compelling, showcasing the band's greatest asset - the vocals. The lack of drum percussion on "Closer" brings to mind Tilly and the Wall and sees the band at the most versatile point of their career.

Palomar - Our Haunt
Palomar - Work is a State Function

Tilly and The Wall - Nights of the Living Dead

And for something to balance out all the estrogen of the above bands, a song about Bombs! Ted Leo's new stuff looks very promising and sees him more pissed off than ever before. Bomb.Repeat.Bomb is a sarcastic soother for fighter pilots ignorant to world affairs. The track flies out of the gate with a chugging rhythm interspersed with sharp cries of Bomb!! Repeat!! Bomb!! Repeat!! Bomb!!! Some genuine hard rock that doesn't sound half-assed or contrived, now that is hard to find. The new album Living with the Living is worth checking out.

Ted Leo & The Pharmacists - Bomb.Repeat.Bomb

- Brad

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Remix Sunday - Sharing and Caring

This is, in my opinion, one of the best remixes of 2006. Ratatat takes The Knife's disjointed, frenetic and slightly disturbing 'We Share Our Mother's Health' and restructures it into something much more comprehensible. I particularly like what is done with the rearrangement of the vocals, and where the original is cold and downright creepy the remix is much more user-friendly, encouraging the listener to shuffle their feet and bob their head if not dance outright. As much as I love the original, I love the remix for all different reasons.

The Knife - We Share Our Mother's Health
The Knife - We Share Our Mother's Health (Ratatat Remix)

-Andrew M