Saturday, December 29, 2007

It's Hard to Admit Sometimes...


/start rather pointless ramble...

nerd
:
1.a stupid, irritating, ineffectual, or unattractive person.
2.an intelligent but single-minded person obsessed with a nonsocial hobby or pursuit: a computer nerd.

Ok, well, the definition of "nerd" is one that isn't as pleasant as I expected. I was going to write "Hey, look, I'm a nerd." But now, it's hard to justify that title with a definition like that. But alas, I am a nerd, a geek, a gamer and internet whore. I like video games and MMORPGS, I like reading about wormholes and about the possibility of life on other planets. But I also like music. One of the reasons I began to really listen to whole albums as opposed to single tracks is because when I played World of Warcraft (yes, WoW, I played it. I played it hard.) I would throw on an album and just leave it. By doing this I discovered an untold amount of music by just letting my playlists play or letting shuffle do the work for a couple of hours.

Ok, so now you might be asking, "why the fuck is Blaz (which happened to be my name for two years on Azshara/Mug'thol [70 Warlock]) admitting that he is a loser?". Well, it's because I recently fell in love with a song by the artist known as Datarock.

/end rather pointless ramble...

So I know that Datarock has been around for some time, their debut album Datarock Datarock was released in 2005 on the band's own label YAP (Young Aspiring Professionals) and was met with generally favourable reviews; the deities at Pitchfork gave it a 7.8 which isn't so bad. One of my favourite Datarock tracks, and the one that caused all this rambling, is entitled Computer Camp Love and is probably the best pseudo-cover of a song from the movie Grease. Yes, you read correctly, it's a pseudo-cover from the movie Grease. It's not a true cover but it uses elements of the song and you can tell it's sort of a tribute to Summer Lovin'. Rather brilliant if I can say so myself. So, if you are a self respecting "nerd" I urge you to listen to the track below and have yourself a laugh.

Listen, life's alright outside the screen...it's just better inside.

Datarock - Computer Camp Love
03 Computer Camp Love.mp3">




Cheers,
MF Blaz

oh oh wait, and ps.
if you act now you can get this really great fan-made music video for the incredibly low price of free ninety-nine.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Happy Festivus for the rest of us...

So it's christmas time and everyone is probably opening presents and getting nice and toasty with their families and bottles of spiced rum.

Spiced rum, Santas favorite. Speaking of favorites, one of my favorite groups, Belle & Sebastian has been a bit quiet since their last record The Life Presuit and they finally have released some new music just in time for the holiday. It's even holiday flavoured! Are You Coming Home From Christmas is avaibable only for the next 24 hours at Belle and Seb's website here and it's a nice little holiday diddy.

Cheers, happy holidays.

-MF Blaz

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Family Time


French-Israeli duo Winter Family represents the type of cultural fusion that often works suprisingly well musically. Israeli artist Ruth Rosenthal supplies vocals and French musician Xavier Klaine creates the music; the result is quiet magic. According to Sub Rosa Records, the 14 tracks on their debut double album (released back in August) were recorded in three apartments, a parking lot, a club in Tel Aviv and a church in Lorraine.

Winter Family will be at the Horse Hospital in London in May, and I will be there.

- a.m.p.m.

Winter Family - Auschwitz
Winter Family - Garden

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Archangel of London


If you haven't heard Burial's new album Untrue yet, check out the track below. Any fan of this dubstep shizz will find that the rest of the disc is equally tight, so ask for it for Christmas or go buy it or something. It's well worth it.

- a.m.p.m.

Burial - Archangel

Friday, December 21, 2007

Ice Cream is Going to Save the Day...

Let's look back to what I refer to as the golden years of my music listening career. I was young, I was bold and I certainly would never dance at a disco. If you were to hand me tracks from Girl Talk or The Knife I would scoff at you and give you an At the Drive-In record or the DFA '79 (RIP) demo. Fast-forward a few years and I can dance with the best of them. In fact, dancing to the likes of Justice or MSTRKRFT has become a well-enjoyed weekend pastime for me. I have no one else to thank but my dance-loving friends from university and a little place in Ottawa called Zaphod Beeblebrox. Don't get me wrong, bands like ATDI and DFA still top my favourite artist lists, but dance artists have become a mainstay on my ipizzle.

The electroclash/dance artist from Melbourne, Aussieland known as Muscles is the latest addition to my ever-expanding music collection. His late 2007 release Guns Babes Lemonade is an eclectic mix of pop songs and dance floor anthems, all with brilliantly laid out tongue-in-cheek sing-alongs that blur the line between laptop pop and arena chanting. On the album's stand-out track (and my personal favourite, the song that got me hooked) Ice Cream, Muscles juxtaposes club violence "he could have a knife / stab me in the gut / bleeding on the floor / shoulda kept my mouth shut" with dancing with our shirts off " i just wanna dance with my shirt off".

Bloody brilliant. Electro-pop may be on its way out but it's albums like this that will make me fondly remember the days when I was just another sweaty body in a sea of happy, sweaty people.

Muscles - Ice Cream

Muscles - Sweaty


- MF Blaz

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Daft Punk: Electroma

Two Fridays ago saw Vice Canada (and perhaps others) presenting a midnight screening of Daft Punk's feature film, Electroma at the Royal Cinema, conveniently located a half-block from my house. Given that it was a one-time only showing, it was so close, and Daft Punk made a movie that I hadn't yet seen, there was only one Friday night option: get baked and go see this 1-hour long offering from France's favourite robot brothers.

I'll be honest - my expectations weren't that high. I already knew the premise, read some lukewarm reviews, and knew that sitting through a silent film at midnight while high without falling asleep was going to be a chore. But I did it, and I'm a better person for it.

That isn't to say it was particularly good. In fact, had I known that IMDB's eight-sentence plot summary was actually a fully description of literally everything that takes place in the film, I may have stuck around the homestead.

But given that I can't take back the 74 minutes, I opt instead to think of what was good about the flick: a diverse and fitting music soundtrack, scenes of dramatic robot suicide, and the hilarity of drastically oversized human heads.

Actually, writing off the remainder of the film as mediocre-to-terrible is probably unfair. Instead, Electroma's failure lay almost exclusively in the Vincent Gallo-esque pacing - each scene realistically could have been portrayed in one-fifth the time it took to actually unfold. Instead of being captivated, the audience felt more like with the beginning of each scene came the understanding that they could rest their eyes for the following 7 minutes and still awake in time to gather the gist of what happened in time for the next scene change.

But yes. Robots do melt and explode, and their human-replica heads are reminiscent of a bobblehead come to life (think: the ever-amusing "big head" option in NHL 2005 for PS2). So in that, Electroma can't be that bad. And, the music really shines.

Somewhat surprisingly, the soundtrack is comprised of nothing Daft. Instead, it includes everything from Chopin to Curtis Mayfield and psych-rock forefather (and Liv Tyler's adopted father) Todd Rundgren, as well as a signature ethereal offering from Brian Eno. Each track does its best to bring a sense of identity to otherwise bland series of scenes that are at times difficult to sit still through.

From the Electroma OST


Bonus: from Alive 2007


- bbbykmbrly.

Free Black Kids Shows


Yes, you read correctly. Our friends at VICE are giving away free tickets for their live tour featuring Black Kids, Friendly Fires and Ipso Facto. All three bands are pretty darn good, but as previously reported, Black Kids have a special place in the hearts of those of us at BTA.

Lucky fans in London, Manchester and Bristol can register for free tickets here; band bios and myspace links can be found here. The gig in London is at 93 Feet East, which is wicked. I think it's first come, first served, so reserve your place now.

- a.m.p.m.

Black Kids - I've Underestimated My Charm (Again)
Friendly Fires - Paris
Ipso Facto - Balderdash

bonus random cover:
Kate Nash - I'm Not Gonna Teach Your Boyfriend How To Dance With You (Black Kids cover)

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Middle MGMT

The story of Brooklyn, NY's MGMT (pronounced "management") is that of two friends who consciously opted to cash in instead of packing it in. In 2002, while studying music at a nowhere university in nowhere, Connecticut, Andrew VanWyngarden and Ben Goldwasser formed a "band" - an electronic rock two-piece whose first gig consisted of a never-ending rendition of the theme to Ghostbusters in a dorm room.

In the half-decade that has passed, the duo have come from playing music for their own amusement, to almost playing none at all, to forming a full band and touring with the likes of Of Montreal and the Fiery Furnaces, to shamelessly signing to Columbia records. Their debut album, Oracular Spectacular, was released this winter in the US and hits Canada January 22nd of the new year.

Produced by Flaming Lips' go-to guy Dave Fridmann, Oracular blends elements of electro, prog rock, experimental/indie and disco. Each of the 10 tracks have an entirely unique flavour, and one can assume that their list of influences might read like a detailed history of a Syd Barrett-inspired generation.

The obvious stand-out track is the first one. Time to Pretend kicks off the album with a flashy combination of crunchy bass, an impossible-to-ignore keyboard hook, and lyrics which display their tongue-in-cheek viewpoint on life as a rock star. Time to Pretend has single-handedly landed the band on the "top artist to watch in 2008" radar for Rolling Stone and others, and recently found itself in Pitchfork's top 100 songs of 2007, released late last week.

Other highlights include Weekend Wars, whose vocals rip a page from Ziggy Stardust, the undeniable disco-funk of Electric Feel, and the synth-rock gem Kids.

MGMT kicks off their North-American tour with a.m.p.m's latest discovery, Yeasayer, January 16th and includes a stop at the El Mocambo in Toronto on February 9th.

MGMT - Time to Pretend
MGMT - Electric Feel
MGMT - Kids


- bbbykmbrly.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Looking Back: 2003


As previously acknowledged by a.m.p.m., this the season for kicking off free-time afforded by Christmas holidays by dedicating it to rifling through all the best music of the past year. Here at BTA (and with many others), it's a tradition to create year-end "best of" compilations and trade them around with each other and our friends. These compilations serve as a time-capsule for the soundtrack that lead our lives in previous years, and thus are always interesting to revisit.

With that, here's my own "best of" mix from the calendar year 2003, posted below. As I listened to it today for the first time since soon after it was created, I was at once nostalgic, entertained, embarrassed, and intrigued by the selections of my then 21-year-old self. Some of these songs truly stand the test of (four years) time and have become representative of some great moments in the not-so distant past, whilst others are, well... not going to resemble much on my upcoming 07 mix. I'll leave it to you to guess which are which.

The whole mix is available as a .zip file here. Single tracks are below.

Cursive - The Ugly Organist/Some Red-Handed Slight of Hand (from the Ugly Organ)
the Strokes - Reptilia (from Room on Fire)
Motion City Soundtrack - Don't Call it a Comeback (from I am the Movie)
Ryan Adams - This is it (from Rock n' Roll)
the Dandy Warhols - the Dandy Warhols Love Almost Everyone (from Welcome to the Monkey House)
the Postal Service - Sleeping In (from Give Up)
A Perfect Circle - the Nurse who Loved Me (from Thirteenth Step)
Matthew Good - 21st Century Living (from Avalanche)
Hey Mercedes - We Had a Blast! (from Loses Control)
the Stills - Still in Love Song (from Logic Will Break Your Heart)
Junior Senior - Move Your Feet (from D-D-Don't Stop the Beat)
Brand New - the Boy Who Blocked His Own Shot (from Deja Entendu)
Coheed and Cambria - A Favour House Atlantic (from In Keeping Secrets of Silent Earth III)
Moneen - To Say Something that Means Nothing to Anyone at All (from Are We Really Happy With Who We Are Right Now?)
White Stripes - Its True That We Love One Another (from Elephant)
Alkaline Trio - Blue in the Face (from Good Mourning)
the Weakerthans - Reconstruction Site (from Reconstruction Site)
Buck 65 - Roses and Bluejays (from Talkin' Honky Blues)
Lucinda Williams - Righteously (from World Without Tears)
Mars Volta - Son et Lumiere (from De Loused in the Comatorium)

In general, revisiting this mix is a lot like flipping through the scrapbook that your mother has been keeping of you since kindergarten; equal parts bad haircuts and great memories. As much as you don't want your new girlfriend to see it, you still take great joy in flipping through it yourself.

- bbbykmbrly.

Oh My God


A few weeks ago I had the chance to see Ida Maria for free. So I did. And it was great.

The group is technically from Stockholm but is fronted by Norwegian Ida Maria Børli Sivertsen. The Guardian describes Ida Maria's sound as "Sugarcubed Strokes or a less fluffy Cardigans", which is fair enough. Comparing bands to other bands is not my forté, so let's just roll with that description.

I had only heard a handful of tracks before I caught the Swedish group at Islington Academy, but those few songs were strong enough to pique my interest and at the reasonable price of free-ninety-nine, I was sold. As it turns out, the band has a great live show; Ida lost her freaking mind during most of the songs during the short set while shyly addressing the audience with typical Scandanavian politeness between numbers. By the time recent single 'Oh My God' made its appearance Ms. Sivertsen had already collapsed in convulsions at various points, thrown microphone stands and flung her guitar around stage. I later read that at a previous show she cracked her ribs so badly she couldn't walk for a month, and another time head-butted a guitar with such force that blood gushed down her head for the rest of the gig. In any case, her histrionics at the Academy didn't distract from the music and the crowd ate it up.

Oh My God was released as a single on October 1st and the video was made available on November 22nd.

- a.m.p.m.

Ida Maria - Oh My God
Ida Maria - Louie

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Remix Sunday - Slow Show


What we have here is the demo version of 'Slow Show' from the National's wicked-awesome album Boxer. Noteworthy differences from the final version include an alternate chorus ("everything you say has water under it"), a different bridge, and no '29 years' part at the end.

This demo version was included on a free disc called the Liberation CD that the band distributed in France to coincide with the release of their new album. Also included on the disc was a demo for an unreleased song named 'Tall Saint' which is definitely one of the National's best tracks. As the Christmas season is now upon us and I've been overwhelmed by the spirit of giving, I've included it below.

- a.m.p.m.

The National - Slow Show (Demo)
The National - Tall Saint (Demo)

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

2006 mixtape


In late December of 2006 the BTA members' circle of friends threw the inaugural year end "best of" mix CD party and it was a resounding success. Not only was it a great excuse for creating the ultimate personal mix to share with dozens of fellow music lovers in the Christmas spirit, it also exposed each of us to amazing music we had somehow missed during the year.

As I'm currently working on the 2007 edition I figured it would be interesting to take a trip down memory lane and post my 2006 mix. My mixtape was designed to expose friends to bands and tracks that might have slipped under the radar, so there are some obvious exclusions in order to include lesser-known 2006 gems. Nevertheless, it's a great bunch of tracks.

Download the zip file to get all the mp3s at once or grab individual tracks. They're all mixed together in high-tech style in an effort to make the sum greater than its parts.

By the way - what's on everyone's list for 2007?

The Year In Review: 2006 From Me To You

01 Belle & Sebastian - For the Price of a Cup of Tea
02 The Knife - We Share Our Mother's Health (Ratatat Remix)
03 Phoenix - One Time Too Many
04 Kallioinia - Castle Pop
05 The Strokes - Heart in a Cage
06 The Format - If Work Permits
07 We're From Barcelona - I'm From Barcelona
08 Ghostface - Be Easy (featuring Trife)
09 Think About Life - Serious Chords
10 Tapes 'n Tapes - Insistor
11 Built to Spill - Liar
12 The Sounds - Painted by Numbers
13 Ellen Allien and Apparat - Rotary
14 Junior Boys - In the Morning
15 The Thermals - I Need You to Kill
16 Dosh - Um, Circles and Squares
17 My Latest Novel - The Reputation of Ross Francis
18 Arctic Monkeys - Mardy Bum
19 Hot Chip - Boys from School
20 Camera Obscura - Let's Get Out of this Country
21 Figurines - All Night
22 Final Fantasy - This Modern Love (live)
23 Band of Horses - St. Augustine

- a.m.p.m.

(thanks to tapedeck.org for the image)

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Faust Arp


Somewhat inevitably, some dude has already got his hands on a copy of the lyrics book from Radiohead's upcoming retail version (read: physical album) of In Rainbows and made it available online. Go here for the scans and here for the ensuing discussion.

Not that having the "official" lyrics really helps, as it's all typically cryptic Radiohead fare. Take, for example, 'Faust Arp':

Wakey wakey rise and shine
It's off again on again
Off again on again
Watch me fall like dominoes
In pretty patterns
Fingers in the blackbird pie
I'm tingling tingling tingling
It's what you feel no what you ought to
What you ought to what you ought to
Reasonable and sensible
Dead from the neck up
I guess I'm stuffed
Stuffed
Stuffed
We thought you had it in you
But not
Not
Not
For no real reason

Squeeze the tubes and empty bottles
I take a bow take a bow take a bow
It's what you feel no what you ought to
What you ought to what you ought to
The elephant that's in the room
Is tumbling tumbling tumbling
Plastic bags with nothing in them
Nothing in them
Duplicate and triplicate
Dead from the neck up
I guess I'm stuffed
Stuffed
Stuffed
We thought you had it in you
But not
Not
Not
Exactly where do you get off?
Is enough
Is enough
I love you but enough is enough
Enough of the stuff
There's no real reason

- a.m.p.m.

Radiohead - Faust Arp

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Catch Me On Dateline

"Let's celebrate."

No, Ghostface isn't talkin' Christmas or Kwanzaa. When the Wu Ironman spits these words on The Big Doe Rehab, his follow up to Fishscale and More Fish due Dec. 8, he's talking celebration like his "squad won the Superbowl." It's hard to argue that Ghost isn't today's Pats of the rap game, playing calculated, cutthroat, consistent ball, with nary a misstep. (I realize that a perfect season, or what looks like one, doesn't mean Superbowl, but bear with me) Given that the upcoming Wu full length is getting pushed back to make room for this album, you have to figure there's not only a monster of a product here, but also that Ghost's steady stream of front to back, no-filler albums has earned him a Don-like respect within the camp. Hell, we already know that he makes his Wu-Tang boys stronger through collaboration, but even U-God sounds good on his featured track. Rehab's tone is consistent with the last two efforts, with only one track that's yet to grow on me. Yeah, "White Linen Affair" runs down the list of today's stars with respect given to everybody from Lil' Wayne to Norah Jones, but Lenny Kravitz? Ghost doesn't need to namedrop Lohan and Spears to show that he's up to date on his pop culture, we know he's got the pulse, and parts of this song are just reaching. Outside that one song I have no complaints and anybody who dug Ghost's last two should love it. The Ironman doesn't need to legitimize that alias at this point in his career, but continues to do so nonetheless.

Ghostface Killah - 3. Yolanda's House (feat. Raekwon & Method Man)
Ghostface Killah - We Celebrate (feat. Kid Capri)


- b.a.

The White Eyes - Taipei


As you know, I've been scouring Taiwan for music wort mentioning and I always find myself back at The Underworld in Taipei. So far, it's proven to be the place to see the bands you don't hear about in Taiwan.

This weekend I was able to see the best live show I've experienced in Taiwan. The White Eyes played an aggressively raw set to a decent crowd on Saturday night. Their sound fits somewhere between Le Tigre and Metric. Obvious comparisons include the female vocals that range from strong melodies to brash rants.

As with every band I've seen in this country, the band is tight. Lead by the incredible riffs of Telecat and supported by complex bass lines and drum beats, The White Eyes play infectiously dance-able rock; never mind understanding the vocals. This band can play and provide the perfect soundtrack for a night of partying.

Once again, the only songs I can offer are from their myspace page. Check out "rookie agogo". The good news is that they are in the process of working on an EP for release in the near future.

Can't wait to party with The White Eyes again soon.

The White Eyes - Myspace

Marc

Friday, December 07, 2007

Tough Shit


Hey kids, I'm back from the dead. November was the most BTA-unfriendly of months due to lack of internet access (moving to a new place in London is an extreme hassle), a punishing workload (jobs suck) and international travels (AmsterDAM).

But enough with excuses; let's get to the music. In the quiet interim, I've amassed a huge amount of excellent new music to share and the 2008 "best of" list grew in leaps and bounds.

First off, The Tough Alliance. A few weeks ago I promised more sweet Swedish sounds, and today I finally deliver. Hailing from Gothenburg, these guys self-released their incredible second album A New Chance in May on their label sincerely yours. It’s unquestionably electronic music, but with strong pop sensibilities and an 80s new wave vibe. Every track is solid, but reggae-infused masterpiece ‘Looking for Gold’ is without a doubt one of my favourite tracks of 2007.

Oh yeah, the duo (Henning Fürst and Eric Berglund) is also known for swinging baseball bats during performances, and have been thrown off stage during a show in Stockholm. Nice.

Check out the tracks below and then get the rest here. The whole album is only £3.50 and totally worth every penny.

The Tough Alliance - Looking for Gold
The Tough Alliance - First Class Riot
The Tough Alliance - Neo Violence

- a.m.p.m.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Night Vision


There's been a pretty good amount of Hot Chip buzz floating around lately, what with their new disc, Made in the Dark, due out in the winter months. The DFA-release's first single, 'Ready for the Floor', has taken a couple days to grow on me, but now I can't shake it. I have only started to look back at what my favourite tracks, albums and films I loved this past year, but already I can tell that this is going on either this year's list or 2008's. Apparently some people haven't been digging it, but I say it's Hot Chip at their catchy dance pop best. Give it a try. As a bonus, below is another track by said band from a recent limited EP. It's some pretty sweaty electro-funk. Enjoy.

Hot Chip - Ready for the Floor (from forthcoming Made in the Dark LP)
Hot Chip - So Deep (from Normal limited EP)

- AW.