Tuesday, July 31, 2007
If you feel like a break from the busyness of whatever it is you're doing at the moment, A Band of Owls' mellow fusion of folk, roots, blues, and jazz is certain to provide some relief.
Cheers to my friend Ken, who manages the band and gave the heads up on the show.
A Band of Owls - Rushing Love Song
Monday, July 30, 2007
As I was zipping around Belgium on high speed trains this past weekend, I threw the old iPod on random and an extremely fitting track came up. At that moment, I realised that aside from the Chemical Brothers' superb 'Star Guitar' from days of yore, 'Rainbow Man' by Ed Banger boss Busy P has to be one of the best candidates for European train journey soundtracks.
Busy P - Rainbow Man
Sunday, July 29, 2007
The first time I saw Think About Life perform it was a sweaty, dingy affair in an Ottawa basement (59 Argyle!), complete with good friends, genuine music lovers, and pizza slices on the house. During their performance and immediately following the show, I noticed that the personality of guitarist Graham Van Pelt was visibly different than that of his fellow members. He did less of the talking and lacked Martin Cesar's swagger as well as the cathartic energy of Matt Shane. Still, one knew that being a part of this band, an off-the-wall, unconventionally spastic electro-rock outfit, must have meant that Van Pelt possessed some unseen quality comparably awesome to the more visible traits exhibited by the dude screaming and the soaking-wet, skinny drummer.
Miracle Fortress is Van Pelt's unveiling party (*though it came out late May, I've been on the road for a while, missing just about every key release of the summer). Five Roses is the masterpiece, and is without question a demonstration of the individual talent he channels subtly into Think About Life. That band's self-titled debut was a summer album for all the writers here at BTA. It reflected the freedom and irresponsibility of the humid months; it was raw, loud, and explosive. Five Roses is a completely different aesthetic, but a summer album just the same. While an early Miracle Fortress song 'Eschatology' re-created the Think About Life style with a little less tumult, the songs on the debut carve out a whole new sound. Like with Panda Bear, the Brian Wilson comparisons have been identified by almost everybody who has gotten hold of this album. The songs on Five Roses are laden with subdued vocal melodies that gradually build towards bright conclusions, all the while sprinkling keyboard and peppery percussion in the gaps to achieve those Wilson-like textures. This is most evident on 'Have You Seen In Your Dreams', where hand claps work alongside vocal echo effects. 'Maybe Lately' develops from start to finish in a very similar way. The standout track of the album is 'Hold Your Secrets To Your Heart', showcasing Van Pelt's strongest singing and a softly pulsing rhythm that hypnotically coasts to the song's end. The first time I heard it I was on the other side of the country in British Columbia, and the astonishment I was feeling from the mountains and natural beauty of the landscape was encompassed perfectly in this one song. I vividly remember making that connection, and not many songs are capable of inducing such peace. It will be an extremely good second half of '07 if this doesn't make it into the top 10.
Miracle Fortress - Have You Seen In Your Dreams (YSI)
Miracle Fortress - Maybe Lately (YSI)
Miracle Fortress - Hold Your Secrets To Your Heart (YSI)
Saturday, July 28, 2007
DJ Copy started to get noticed when he dropped his Diva Mixtape Vol. 1, where he remixed the R & B stylings from the likes of Destiny's Child, TLC, and Mariah Carey into tracks that sound like they were produced on that Commodore 64 in your basement. Next, he performed similar remixes with some of the most notable tracks from Bone Thugs N Harmony's East 1999 album, and I couldn't have been more excited. I was reliving the days when I would constantly play this cassette on the bus ride to school, but now with an electro dance rock spin on it. Now, with the release of his full length album Hair Guitar, DJ Copy demonstrates that his knack for making danceable 8-bit remixes carries over amazingly well to his own solo creations. The result is just over 40 mins. of some of the best hip-hop electro beats you've heard. One of the great things about Copy is that he keeps things relativley simple. The tracks don't get lost in multiple layers or overdone effects. Copy takes his beat, a few lines that work, and leaves everything else. Hair Guitar has been compared to the likes of Ratatat, M83, and Justice, for his ability to make tracks that you'll want to bob your head to over and over again.
Be sure to order your copy of Hair Guitar at Audio Dregs, and if you're quick enough, you might still get that Bone Thugs N Copy CD free with your order.
- Matty B.
DJ Copy - This is Promotional (YSI)
DJ Copy - See you around maybe (YSI)
Bone Thugs N Harmony - Can't Give it up (DJ Copy Remix) (YSI)
Friday, July 27, 2007
I feel the need to preface this post by clarifying that no, I do not live at the Horseshoe nor am I generally there more than once every week or two. But alas, another review (third in a row) from the 'shoe.
Montreal's femme-foursome Pony Up! galloped into town last night, bringing along Toronto indie-pop tarts the Bicycles for a stop at the orseshoe. And, though I had never seen either act in the flesh, having sampled both of Pony Up!'s releases, as well as cuts from the Bicycles' 2006 album the Good, the Bad and the Cuddly, I felt justified in expecting nothing less than sugary pop so sweet a trip to the dentist may ensue.
I was actually quite surprised by the one-third capacity of the small-ish room, especially with a very agreeable $9.50 price tag. But, even after watching the Bicycles fumble through an entire set in what sounded like their first show in a decade, few new faces had shown up.
Admittedly, I think I remember mention of a last-minute lineup change which could have contributed to their lack of cohesion. But ultimately, the Bicycles' sound was sloppy and incomplete, and not even close to as fun as the album. Their struggle was no more apparent than during Australia, the band's most-requested song, where merely the completion of the song was put in jeopardy on more than one occasion through miscues and a missing musician or two. The bubblegum fun was ultimately lost in the mix, and the set fell flat on its face.
By the time the Pony Up! express took the stage, the energy level in the room compared more to nap time at High Park Villa's retirement residence than to a pop-rock concert. The girls attempted nothing to rejuvenate the handful of onlookers, but rather cruised through the majority of the tracks on 2006's Make Love to the Judges with Your Eyes with limited enthusiasm.
Despite singer/keyboardist Laura Willis' claim that Toronto is the band's favourite city to play, their seeming lack of interest wore off on the majority of the crowd who, with the exception of a handful of girls adorned in matching zebra and leopard-print dresses, seemed ready to call it a night only a handful of songs from the outset.
But, while the highlights were few, they weren't entirely absent: Willis finally let herself loose with two songs left, letting her small voice rip during the yet-to-be-released 'Wet', which builds from a simplistic and mundane ballad into borderline epic. That seemed to wake up the crowd and the rest of her band, who wrapped up their otherwise lackluster performance with a strong rendition of 'The Truth About Cats and Dogs (is that They Die)', arguably their most popular song, in which co-lead Sarah Moundroukas followed Willis' lead by actually having some fun.
Regrettably, the batteries in my camera tapped out before Pony Up! even hit the stage, but below are some amateur attempts at band photography, starring the Bicycles (coming soon).
- bobby k.
Pony Up! w/ the Bicycles, Horseshoe Tavern, Toronto
Thursday, July 26th, 2007
Pony Up! - The Truth About Cats and Dogs (is that they die) (YSI)
Pony Up! - Wet (YSI)
The Bicycles - Australia (YSI)
The Bicycles - B-B-Bicycles (YSI)
Thursday, July 26, 2007
Their page has the band origins listed as such:
Dave to Tim and Chris: Hey guys, wanna start up a shitty alt-country indie type band?
Chris and Tim: Hmm...ok.
Hey, good enough for me. Ottawa's unsigned Allrights open for Victoria natives Immaculate Machine tomorrow night in the nation's capital, a spot they surely earned based on their confidence and self-assured attitude toward making music. When 'Bastard' drops at Zaphod's I imagine it will turn plenty of heads. The opening lick blends together styles favored by the likes of early Ambulance LTD ('Heavy Lifting' from their S/T) and the defunct Exploding Hearts, but the real separation happens when the shrill, borderline whiny, "shitty alt-country indie type" vocals announce that "you're such a bastard when you cry." It's the type of youthful cynicism and half-hearted resentment normally reserved for emotionally hollow bands whose names refer to driving and/or days of the week. While it would be easy and obvious to take these words and deliver them with a hilariously maudlin tone, The Allrights spit them with a sense of humor. Supporting their lyrics with a midwest guitar sensibility and fresh upbeat percussion, they often spin the music in opposition to the lyrics being sung (I use "sung" loosely), not unlike Immaculate Machine. We'll have to see if their live show is as modest as their name, or as tongue in cheek as their sound.
'Bastard' and others available for listen here. I'm unable to download for some reason...so I'm going to blame it on....sloths (youtube the SNL digital short, please).
Substitute awesome freebie, Vancouver's Said the Whale:
Said the Whale - Not a Thought
Most of us at Bridging the Atlantic remember the days of learning how to play guitar to Silverchair tracks like '
If you’re looking to for an homage to Silverchair’s yesteryear, you won’t find it here. The tracks on Young Modern are string and piano-laden which leaves little room for the rhythmic guitar that we admired. This is clearly a continuation of the likes of Neon Ballroom and Diorama.
In terms of evolution, I can say that as a band Silverchair has come a long way. For better or worse I’m not sure, but whereever they are headed I’m not likely to follow. The single 'Straight Lines' shows some hope of being the union of Silverchair and Daniel Johns’ The Disassociatives, but to no avail. Young Modern’s tracks are disjointed, lack consistency and 80% end with the all-annoying fade-out. They spent months in the studio writing, but forgot the endings…what’s the deal?
What Young Modern really lacks is a clear purpose. There were obviously too many people involved in the making of this album. You only have to check out the credits to see where this album went wrong. Fade out…
Young Modern can be heard in its entirety on the band’s website.
- mookie b. (Marc Bertrand), Kaohsiung Taiwan
Wednesday, July 25, 2007
As part of the popular Nu Music Nite Tuesdays at the ‘shoe, Two Hours Traffic were sandwiched between two other bands that nobody cared about. This only highlighted the fact that these former UPEI chemistry kids should probably be headlining their own tour across this vast nation.
Not unlike the rural rock of Mr. Plaskett and his counterparts the Emergency, or prairie fires the Weakerthans, each new track relies heavily on clever, intelligent, and fresh vocal hooks to set them apart from their peers. The occasional “ooh ooh oooh” doesn’t hurt either.
Despite a laughably horrific band name more reminiscent of radio jock rock than worthwhile songwriting, the new record is polished indie folk-pop seemingly crafted specifically for the likes of CBC Radio 3 listeners who’ll inevitably eat this shit up.
- bobby k.
I swear, one day my computer is just going to start laying down beats while I sleep. Because as London based Hugh Frost a.k.a Sportsday Megaphone is demonstrating, nowadays all you need is one guy, a guitar, and a laptop to make some of the newest and catchiest indie pop-rock. How long until the computers take out that pesky human element that keeps them from acheiving some kind of calculated musical perfection? All you UK people need to take in one of his upcoming sets. Jealous of my friends across the pond? No...they are simply dead to me. It's easier this way.
Less and Less EP available now on iTunes and directly from Sunday Best.
Sportsday Megaphone - Less and Less (YSI)
The Rumble Strips - Alarm Clock (Sportsday Megaphone Stereo Adventure Remix) (YSI)
- matty b.
Tuesday, July 24, 2007
The symphony demonstrates their talent and diversity on tracks such as 'Conversations from a Speakeasy', which has a great jazzy 1940's sound to it; 'Monsters Ball Restrung', which hits heavy thanks to brooding minor-key string swells; and instrumental piece 'The Captured Vibe Restrung'.
Projects such as these speak strongly about the support that Adelaide musicians seem to give to each other, in this case breaking through the borders of musical genres.
Hilltop Hoods - The Hard Road Restrung
Hilltop Hoods - Monsters Ball Restrung
Hilltop Hoods - The Captured Vibe Restrung
Monday, July 23, 2007
Against Me! - Thrash Unreal
Against Me! - Stop
Sunday, July 22, 2007
Crystal Castles is two kids from Toronto named Ethan and Alice who make their own music and have also created dope remixes of Bloc Party, Klaxons, Uffie, GoodBooks and Liars tracks, among others. All those remixes are great and everything, but this Sunday we have a real treat for you. The Castles take HEALTH's shrill, droning and percussion-heavy track 'Crimewave' and restructure it with a shuffling bouncy beat and their trademark 8-bit electro effects while retaining the vocal sample (albeit chopped and glitchy). Pre-order their upcoming Untrust Us EP from S.L.U. Records now and they'll throw in a bunch of free stuff. Better hurry though, it's selling like hotcakes.
HEALTH - Crimewave
Crystal Castles vs. HEALTH - Crimewave
Crystal Castles - Air War
Saturday, July 21, 2007
When I first saw Tokyo Police Club live in Ottawa last year I wasn't especially impressed with the performance. Granted, their repertoire included a mere handful of songs and the guys had only just stepped into the daunting limelight of Canada's burgeoning indie scene. But I'd been hooked on the band's A Lesson In Crime EP for months and had expected a live show to match the energy and creativity contained in its 16-odd minutes of glory.
So naturally, when the boys from Newmarket, Ontario lit up Hoxton Bar and Kitchen last month and charmed their London crowd to the tune of two encores, I was pleasantly surprised. It certainly helped that almost half the show was composed of new material, and the new songs are solid. Non-A Lesson In Crime tracks 'Box' and 'Your English is Good' were met with extreme audience enthusiasm, and I can testify that the upcoming LP will be quality if the Club includes the new material they tested out on our eager ears. It's also a promising sign that TPC's first album proper is to be released on Saddle Creek Records.
And did I mention that Immaculate Machine showed up unannounced just 'cause? Not bad at all for £6.
Here's most of the newer stuff I've been able to get my hands on:
Tokyo Police Club - Box (Smith EP)
Tokyo Police Club - Cut Cut Paste (Smith EP)
Tokyo Police Club - Your English is Good (Your English is Good 7" single)
Tokyo Police Club - Graves (Daytrotter Session)
Tokyo Police Club - New Song (Daytrotter Session)
(Special thanks to Cause=Time for the tip on the Daytrotter tracks and I hope you thoroughly enjoy the show in Denver tonight.)
Thursday, July 19, 2007
The one-hour headlining sets generally fall into one of two categories: a band or artist rushing to squeeze in as much material as can be allowed, or struggling to stretch 40 minutes worth of material into 60, usually resulting in unnecessarily long guitar tuning intervals, extended bridges, and more often than not, hopeless audience banter. The Blow defied either of these pigeonholes, instead opting for an unparalleled blend of ad-hoc storytelling interwoven with songs from her 2006 release Paper Television. The songs, it seemed, acted merely as electro-dance versions of the stories which often were longer than the songs themselves. The first third of the set consisted of maybe eight minutes of music, the rest being filled entirely with monologue. And, while the talk was generally funny, charming, and entertaining, it left me wondering what exactly I had paid my $12 to see – a musician or a comedian.
But when Maricich did opt for a tune in favour of a story session, her genuine and soothing vocals over top of the pre-recorded beats recreated the charms of the band's breakthrough album effortlessly. Much like the album, the strongest live tracks included the album’s opener 'Pile of Gold', as well as the beautifully whimsical love song 'Parentheses', and non-album tracks 'Hey Boy' and her re-worked and charming cover of the Police’s 'Every Little Thing She Does is Magic', which served as her one-song encore.
Previous to last night, never had I ever considered the potential of a Beck Hansen/Ellen Degeneres lovechild (for obvious reasons). But Maricich juggled both of their defining characteristics with ease, and entirely by accident; Beck’s unorthodox merger of vocal harmony, hip hop rhythms, and train-of-thought lyrical rantings combined with dance moves so quirky the audience didn’t know whether to cower in sympathetic embarrassment or take notes so as to recreate them later in a bedroom mirror. The Degeneres influence was evident in between the songs themselves, where Maricich seemed just as comfortable engaging the crowd through conversational humour about love of both men and women, chasing love, falling out of love, jogging, and those dudes who drive around shouting out the window at girls they’ll never get with.
In the end, Maricich’s performance seemed to win over the majority of the crowd, demonstrated by the extended cheers of adoration throughout the set. Despite her dorky charm and obvious talent, it took all the power within my own self-control to deny my urge to be that guy who belts out: “Shut up and play a fucking song!” For the record, I didn’t. And neither did anyone else, though I’m sure we all were thinking it. I, like everyone else in the bar that night, just shut up and listened. But that doesn’t mean we’ll all be as accommodating (or as sober) next time around.
Sunday July 8, 2007
Tuesday, July 17, 2007
Sunday, July 15, 2007
Coincidentally enough, the band will be here in the UK in two weeks time (or, as they say here, "a fortnight") for the Secret Garden Party, exactly the same weekend I'll be visiting their home turf of Belgium. For those of you not attending Reading this year, catch Goose at TDK Cross Central on the August bank holiday weekend.
And if you're interested in learning more about Goose, check out Leon's meticulous and comprehensive Goosebumpz.com, one of the best fan-created band websites I've seen yet.
Thursday, July 12, 2007
I first heard Immaculate Machine about a year ago on a CBC Radio 3 Podcast, which has always been a source of some of the best new Canadian talent. Their infectious and bouncy tune entitled 'No Such Thing as the Future' caught my ear and was released on their Ones and Zeroes EP. I just picked up my copy of their full-length album Fables and continue to be impressed by the vocal and musical abilities of this band. Some notable tracks on this include 'Small Talk', in which Final Fantasy's Owen Pallett lends a hand with the strings. I just missed these guys last time they played a show, but being residents of the Vancouver area, I’m sure I’ll get the chance again soon. And for all of you across the pond, they are heading to the UK very soon! So be sure to check them out.
- matty b.
Immaculate Machine - Jarhand (Zshare)
Immaculate Machine - Small Talk (Zshare)
N.B. I caught these guys appearing as surprise openers at a Tokyo Police Club gig here in London a couple of weeks ago. Although the majority of the crowd wasn't familiar with Immaculate Machine, everyone seemed really impressed with the band's great live presence and catchy tunes. By the time they pulled out 'No Such Thing as the Future' a few songs into their set, the whole crowd was bobbing around and a few Canadians (myself included) were enthusiastically singing along at the top of our lungs.
Immaculate Machine - No Such Thing as the Future (live version)
Oh yeah, and TPC were superb. More on that later.
Tuesday, July 10, 2007
New York gypsy punks Gogol Bordello release their new album Super Taranta! today. If you've never heard these guys before, stop reading and download the track below immediately. However, if you already know all about the band that's been named the 'greatest live band in New York', rest assured that yours truly will be right up front during their performance at Reading in a few weeks time.
Gogol Bordello - Supertheory of Supereverything
Sunday, July 08, 2007
I was lucky enough to catch Datatrock at the Luminaire on Thursday night, and what a show it was. I could try to descibe the madness that ensued myself, but it's better for everyone if you just read these reviews. To top it all off, the crazy Norwegians handed out free I Used To Dance With My Daddy remix singles autographed by the band to everyone at the end of the show. Thanks, dudes.
Datarock - I Used To Dance With My Daddy (Para One Remix)
Saturday, July 07, 2007
Max Barbaria and DJ Vibe - The NeverEnding Story
Wednesday, July 04, 2007
Sunday, July 01, 2007
Not so much a remix as an alternate take, this acoustic version of 'A Pillar of Salt' can be found on the Thermals' new Insound Tour Support CD, available at the paltry price of US$5.99. The limited edition rarities album is chock full of goodies: 4 KEXP session tracks, 6 live cuts and 3 acoustic takes.