Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Inbox Wednesday - Cale Parks

Seth of Polyvinyl emailed us recently about Cale Parks, an New York based percussionist and solo artist that is releasing his second solo album Sparklace.

Parks' digital brand of pop struck me from the first listen. Not only is his overall sound original, but the variance he provides from track to track is impressive. 'Some Sew, Some Find' has a light electro trash vibe; 'Every Week Ends' comes off with a smoother and more warm groove;and 'CC Meenkie Instrumental' could play at a yuppie martini bar just as well as a Burial track.

While Parks is still relatively unknown, his music deserves your ears. A favourite on my October Zune playlist.

Enjoy and keep the emails coming.

Cale Park - Every Week Ends

Cale Park - Some Sew, Some Find

Weaving An Acoustic Loom

In Ottawa, we have the first weather report calling for snow.  In a panic, I searched for new sounds to keep me warm.  Here's one that I'd like to pass along.
New York's The Loom seems to be born out of the cold winters and brutal weather that anyone in North Eastern America experiences year-in-and-out.  What else drives people indoors to write soul-soothing music.  No noise here; members of The Loom craft delicate multi-instrument acoustic arrangements wrapped in blankets of brass horns.  Listen to the track "Song for the Winter Sun" from the EP At Last Light.  Everyone who has braved the winters here will appreciate what I am offering.
Don't get me wrong, I love winter!  I just want some tunes that will get me through.

Monday, October 27, 2008

New Music Monday: Francois Virot

While I tend to be partial to anything French, I promise you that I am being as unbiased as possible when I tell you to watch out for Francois Virot. This quirky character from Lyon, France has been making music since the not-so-tender age of seven and has recorded a reported 17,839 demo cds since then. That part sounds made up, so emphasis on the 'reported'. If it's true, I'd like to find out where these demos are... and who was in charge of keeping count.

Virot's first solo album, Yes or No is refreshingly simple and well... refreshing. Crisply layered vocals, simple strumming and hand clapping (!!) are his MO, which results in a sound I'd describe as a mix of Malajube, Islands and sunshine. Seriously. Sometimes there's even laughter in the background. And rainbows?

I recommend Say Fiesta and the little ditty in this video. And I fully plan on getting the album as soon as it's available in Canada. Because it's amazing. And because the vinyl is royal blue.

cascade kisses from francois virot on Vimeo.

Finally Fantastic!

The fact that it's a Monday fully gives me permission to indulge in corny blog titles if I so desire. But yes, I know, I could have done better.


There are few things I enjoy more than animated music videos, mainly because they combine two of my favourite things (music and cartoons) and because they achieve a level of crazy that cannot be reached in any other fashion. Other things I enjoy are hot air balloons, lightning storms and the ocean.

Owen Pallett aka Final Fantasy obviously knows all of this, and so just for me, he's put together this gem:

The third Final Fantasy LP is only due out in Spring 2009, but thankfully, he's throwing a couple of EPs our way to tide us over till then. Check out Spectrum, 14th Century, right here!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Achy Breaky Heart

Prosecutor: Britain, you have been charged with an unhealthy fixation with old ladies talking suggestively about their feline companions; selling saucy postcards of scantily clad buxon beauties at seaside resorts; and allowing Eurotrash to pervert your television sets for over 10 years. In short, you are here to defend your love of all things "Camp".

Britain: No your honour, that was all in the past. We're a mature, respectable nation now.

Prosecutor: So tell me, who were the best selling artist over the past 5 years?

Britain: Um, ok that was Scissor Sisters but that was so 2004. I can assure you, we're fully reformed.

Prosecutor: Then how do you explain the current obsession with Heartbreak and their melodramatic, Pet Shop Boys soundtracking Flight of the Concords, debut album "Lies"? I present to you Exhibit A, a performance of their debut single "We're Back".

Prosecutor: If I'm not mistaken, this is a classic example of Italo disco.

Brtain: Bugger

Grab your oversized gold medallion and join them on their UK tour next month!

Heartbreak - Regret
Heartbreak - We're Back

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Because I have to.

How cool is this. Thanks Kate!

Natalie Portman's Shaved Head. Check them out, just because they're insanely entertaining. And also just insane. I make promises of cubicle dancing. If you're at work, that is.

Happy Thursday! So close to f-day!


Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Inbox Wednesday - Cut Off Your Hands

Trawling through the BTA email account last week I came across an email promoting New Zealanders Cut Off Your Hands. Perhaps you've heard of them before; I certainly had. A few months ago it seemed like their catchy as all hell single 'Oh Girl' was everywhere, so I happily gave new track 'Happy As Can Be' a cursory listen. As expected, I discovered another bouncy Britpop-esque tune that may not be the most original song I've ever heard, but put a smile on my face and a bounce in my step all the same.

And it seems that the Cut Off Your Hands star is on the rise. The band has just released their debut album You and I in New Zealand and Australia and next month they'll be supporting Foals and Friendly Fires on a tour through Germany.

Cut Off Your Hands - Happy As Can Be

Video for 'Oh Girl':

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

New Music Monday: That's the Spirit

Before I start, I have to thank bbbykmbrly for tip about That's the Spirit.  From what I understand, Ben Wilson's history and influence is extensive in the Ottawa region and beyond.  He's currently a member of two other outfits The Department of Foreign Affairs and Toronto Indie Music Award-winners The Polytone's.  He has toured internationally and some Spirit tracks have made their way onto compilations in Canada and the US.  I would consider myself somewhat of a musician, but this puts all of us apartment rockstars to shame.
Wilson's latest baby is Staying Places and its a good one.  On this Antique Room release, his lyrics float introspectively over dreamlike music.  Simple melodies over excellent arrangements; this is great stuff.  This album seems to meld nicely with this month's other autumn-inspired folk picks.  Use as follows: press play on desired player, sit down, remove your current read from the shelf, enjoy.
Make sure to check out the tracks "Head for the Hills", "Orienteering", and "It's Curtains for You".  If you like what you hear, join Wilson to celebrate the release of Staying Places on November 1st at Zaphods in Ottawa. 

ps.  Wilson recorded That's the Spirit's first EP "with a broken radio shack microphone, a cracked classical guitar, two ghetto blasters and a delay pedal that caught fire during one of the recording sessions" (AntiqueRoom.ca) Now THAT's Indie!

Monday, October 20, 2008


A pretty heavy weekend work schedule always foils all of your other weekend plans. You know what I'm talking about. Here are a few remixes from all over the map for this week that I tend to rock during my 6 am walk / bus ride.

Michael Jackson - Smooth Criminal (Telemitry Remix)

- I'll just rack this one up to the hundreds of club "bangers".

First Aid Kit - Tiger Mountain Peasant Song (Fleet Foxes Cover)

- Yes I know, not a remix, but a great rendition by these two young Stockholm girls, recently picked up by The Knife's Rabid Records.

T.I Feat. Trina - Whatever you like (Remix)

- I have nothing but love for you T.I. As you over expose yourself before you head to the slammer. Oh the new album? Meh. You were alright on Entourage though champ.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Saturday musings...

Today I’ve been out of the house for approximately 90 minutes, and the rest of my time has been spent lounging (read: being useless) around my apartment in true Saturday style. I don’t care that Monday was a holiday and that this was a ‘short’ week, I’m exhausted.

So while I sit around in my housecoat finding humorous things on Google Image, I’m obviously setting up my own little soundtrack, which I will now be sharing with you. Because I’m nice like that / because I feel like a deadweight and this will count as my contribution to society for today.

First off – last night I went to see The Dark Side of Oz, which –for those of you who haven’t heard of it is a synchronization of The Wizard of Oz and Pink Floyd’s The Dark Side of the Moon. The combination of these two absolutely groundbreaking productions is a work of genius, and I was so enchanted that this morning I managed to hunt down the album on vinyl for $5 (hence my only outing of the day). Perfect.

BUT. Let’s not kid ourselves, folks: while listening to classic albums on vinyl is incredible, it’s far from relaxing. The constant getting up to flip the darned thing, meticulously ensuring that you’re not scratching your new baby... And since lazy is today’s theme, I turned to my trusty digital music collection and my new friend Miles Benjamin Anthony Robinson, who I could listen to without having to exert myself.

Here’s the scoop: he’s 25, from Oregon, and his eponymous album was recorded with Chris Taylor of Grizzly Bear fame. Crafted from sweat and tears following Mile's stint at rock-bottom, MBAR is a remarkable compilation of incredibly honest lyrics that move slowly alongside lazy folk melodies. Don't get me wrong, this is not an easy listen - it's a pretty intense package. The Debtor speaks of loneliness, with chilling lines such as “I’m not sure that I want to stay alive, it’s so expensive” and Buriedfed romanticizes the notion of untimely death. One of my favourites is Boneindian, which boasts what I consider to be the most beautiful melody on the album.

Finally, to salvage my sanity and escape from the gloominess that was developping, I turned to my latest obsession, the new Land of Talk album. If you still haven’t heard about this sweet Canadian band, I highly recommend you get on it.

Happy weekend!


Pink Floyd – Us and Them

Miles Benjamin Anthony Robinson – The Debtor

Land of Talk – Some are Lakes

Friday, October 17, 2008

The Friday Five

I googled 'Friday 5' this morning and stole this photo from MuchMusic. These songs are awesome, just like that little kid breakin' it down.

I only got on the Of Montreal train after Hissing Fauna... leaked a couple years back and it was in my top 5 that year. They definitely own the operatic glam rock scene right now. Their new disc, Skeletal Lamping, is built upon pop sensibilities yet dense and engaging. Apparently these guys have a wild live show too.

Of Montreal - Plastis Wafers

Next up is Ed Banger Mr Oizo, who is dropping his Lambs Anger LP this fall. I don't think it's going to be the next Cross but it has potential to get a party started. I wasn't a fan of his summertime brain annihilator "Bruce Willis is Dead" track but the stuff floating around the past week or two is much more listenable.

Mr Oizo - Jo

This guy Koushik is out of Ontario. He sounds like Caribou, the 1960's and reverb thrown in a blender and chilled. Relaxing soulful stuff full of instruments, samples and singing.

Koushik - Bright and Shining

Radiohead sure does like a competition. While I don't really think that In Rainbows needed the remix treatment, some top notch tracks have come out of the Nude and Reckoner contests. This Reckoner take comes from a dude named Brendan Merrick who has aparently never done this sort of thing before. Yeah right, he kills it. All the emotion of the original is kept in tack but it gets jazzzed up with some snapping noise and funky bass.

Radiohead - Wreckin'Er (Brendan Merrick remix)

Finally, yeah I know, Kanye West. It's pretty common knowledge that one of the most polarizing players in the rap/r&b/whatever game has a new album, 808's and Heartbreak, coming out later in November. Yeezy has slowly been dropping bits of it on something called the internet and now there is a new radio rip of another track, "Coldest Winter". I've never been excited about an r&b album, but I think this one will kill it. Sorry for the quality but imagine what those banging drums will sound like at 320kbps.

Kanye West - Coldest Winter

Monday, October 13, 2008

New Music Monday: Amazing Baby

Photograph Cred: PR (guardian.co.uk)

As a natural cynic, the quickest way of ensuring I'll gloss over a new band is to hear them described as "the new ...". It generally results in a diluted imitation of said group carrying at best one lead single of any merit. So when I hear the excitement surrounding Amazing Baby centres around their similarity to fellow Brooklynites MGMT, and that they only formed after "Time To Pretend" started pervading our consciousness, my "unwarranted hype gauge" goes off the scale.

Thankfully, I cast aside such discursions because Amazing Baby offer considerably more than a stay as MGMT warm-up act. From the first introduction to their demo you can hear the confidence oozing out of every orifice. "Pump Yr Breaks" starts with a classic rock axe wielding guitar assault, before exploding into a rich wave of swirling sound. They're blessed with the absurdity of the Flaming Lips, the genre-bending ethos of Primal Screen and the sheer euphoria of the Polyphonic Spree. The latter comparison is especially relevant given they follow the same rotating band personnel policy of the Texan troop.

It's on repeated listening that their ambition and ideas really shine through and you appreciate the multiple layers and influences. My current favourite is the swaggering, psychedelic, prog-folk demo closer "Head Dress" but everything I've heard to date has been consistently excellent. One of the real bright hopes for next year.

"Pump Yr Brakes" is released in the UK on 10th November on Another Music Another Kitchen. You can download the "Infinite Fucking Cross EP" for free below:

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Newish, or New Ish (for the streets)

First off is Marvelous Toy, a band with an indie sound if you know what I mean, which I don't.  Kind of the Okkervil River hop, step, and a strum kinda deal.  Nothing groundbreaking, but"The City is a Washing Machine" is swell enough to keep from masking its goodness behind any sort of washing machine joke, and you know how plentiful those are.

Second off, which deservedly should be first given the picture, is Friendly Fires and their new album.  "In the Hospital" finds them playing The Rapture with less gusto, peppered with a little funk making it decidedly different than "Paris." "Jump in the Pool" is more of a middle ground between the latter and what they'll do in future, meaning slightly better.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Friday Fast-Fix: Terry Lynn

Because it's turkey weekend and I'm pressed for time, this week's Friday Five will be demoted to a single artist. Lucky for you, it's an effing amazing one.

Terry Lynn is socially conscious, angry and undoubtedly tough. Her MySpace photos boast a variety of firearm glamourshots, and her aggressive lyrics are wrapped in a heavy Jamaican accent. I only have one word to describe her sound: powerful.

With her debut Kingstonlogic 2.0, this Last Gang prodigy raises awareness of her country's social issues with intensity and riddim. Her first-person accounts of life in Jamaica's most impoverished regions add substance to her art, taking her way beyond the usual dancehall sound.

If I had more time, I would love to tell you more. But I don't, nor do I think you'll need much convincing.

Move over, MIA.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Review - BCK IN MTL w/ MGMT

Let me set the stage; a concert hall, 2000 seats, and anticipation that filled the air. With all the hype surrounding the show, the audience was thirsty for a Beck fix. Montreal is known for its love of all things Beck, so you can be sure this show was sold out before it went on sale. Luckily, I discovered this interweb classified site by the name of Kijiji. Moreso, the seller only asked for face value since she had made a mistake in ordering 4 tickets as opposed to 2.
MGMT did their thing in warming up the crowd. These guys sound great live, but lack the show aspect. I know they'll learn a thing or two from Mr. Hansen.
Beck's set speaks for itself. It was a good mix of old and new and Beck proved that truly has fun playing. Opening with "Loser" set the night off in style. Not a person was left seated after the first note. 25 song sets are rare, but he pulled it off with ease. In an act of appreciation, he invited the MGMT boys back at the end of his set for 2 covers and "Where it's At". The encore had everyone humming, whistling or singing "NA, NA, nanana NA!" out the door.

Devil's Haircut
Soul of a Man
Mixed Bizness
Nicotine & Gravy
Hell Yes
Black Tambourine
Think I'm In Love
Modern Guilt
Lost Cause
The 15th (by Wire, cover)
Planet Queen (T.Rex, cover)
The Wind Cries Mary (Jimi Hendrix, cover)
Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat (Bob Dylan, cover)
Where It's At
Gamma Ray

Beck - Gamma Ray

Inbox Wednesday: Cryptonites Remix

Cryptonites remix of the Futurecop! track "NASA" arrived in the BTA mail last week. Originally meant to appear on the bands debut EP, Futurecop! decided to leave it out as they were going for a different feel with the album. But Cryptonites still wanted to share it with all of us. They've given it a definite 80's feel with their string and slap bass combo. Makes me feel like there needs to be a triumphant video montage to accompany it where the underdog trains really hard under the watchful eye of his teacher, getting little better each time. And of course, winning the big match in the end and saving the school...or the puppies, or whatever. Enjoy.

Futurecop! - NASA (Cryptonites Remix)

Monday, October 06, 2008

From Portland, with love.

Along with crunchy leaves and drawn-out sunsets, autumn never fails to materialize with a pretty serious cold epidemic. So while I sit here miserably nursing my sickness and wishing I had spent the extra fifty cents on the higher-end snot paper, I am comforted by what I consider to be yet another fall staple: folk music. Because as the weather cools, nothing warms you up quite like the slow guitars and the soothing voices of bearded men wearing plaid shirts. No?

Now if you’re not already deterred by the fact that I used ‘sunset’ and ‘snot’ in the same paragraph, bear with me, I’ll eventually get to the point.

Here are two bands I have grown quite fond of this week. They both hail from Portland, Oregon, which is the land of The Decemberists, microbreweries and um, roses.

Blitzen Trapper is a six-man (six-person? sextet?) ensemble who have been around for a few years. Their new album is called Furr and is their first release under Sub Pop. The title track was quick to seduce me, with its strange lyrics about a boy raised by wolves. Or maybe it was the sound of loons in the background which reminded me of childhood camping trips (please note that this memory triggered thoughts of hot dogs and juice boxes, causing me to walk away and make snacks, briefly forgetting about this post). In a nutshell: this whole album is beautiful and worth your while.

The second band is called Horse Feathers and are completely adorable. Their quiet but gut-wrenching Iron and Wine-type sound has earned them a spot touring with Jose Gonzalez .Their latest album is called House With No Home and I would like it to be my soundtrack as I bike to work in the morning, please. Here it is.


Sunday, October 05, 2008

Remix Sunday: Emilie Simon vs. David Bowie

Bowie covers are a dime a dozen; for every Seu Jorge-calibre unique take on one of the Thin White Duke's classic cuts there are literally hundreds of lame renditions waiting in the wings.

Thankfully, this version of 'Space Oddity' by Montpellier-based musician Émilie Simon definitely does not fall into the latter category. Her powerful voice is layered and backed by just the right amount of organic strings, beats, and gentle glitched-out electronic effects to create a track that takes the original concept just a bit further without losing what made it so amazing in the first place.

Mme Simon composed the original soundtrack for the 2005 documentary March of the Penguins, but this version was not featured in the North American release of the movie (except in Québec) as the producers were afraid it would be "too challenging" for audiences there. Her third studio album will be released in early 2009.

Émilie Simon - Space Oddity

Bonus cover of 'Come As You Are':

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Friday Five: Weekend Entertainment Edition

So, I was wracking my brain trying to come up with something original or interesting for the Friday Five; this is the result.  Feeling inspired by all the shows I'm going to see in the next few days I decided to feature a track from each artist, off their latest albums.  Here's my schedule for Thursday through Monday: 

Thursday, Oct. 2nd, Chad Vangaalen and Women at Zaphods in Ottawa.  This was an extremely inpressive show.  It's very hard to fill Zaphods on any day at 9:00, but this lineup was able to pull in a very good crowd.  Both acts responded well.   Women put on a lo-fi inspired set with excellent guitar harmonies.  Chad managed to silence the crowd with a banjo during the opening song "Willow Tree".  He proceded to play a headless guitar for the rest of the set.  Chad's live show screamed of Neil Young, who better to emulate than transplanted folk-rock extraordinaire.  By the way, Mr. Young will make his way across North America in the next few months.
Saturday, Oct. 4th, Wintersleep at Barrymore's in Ottawa SOLD OUT.  I like Wintersleep and everyone has told me to see them live.  Any past reviews would be greatly appreciated.  Their last album was solid, so here's a great track from Welcome to the Night Sky, no not THAT song that we have heard a million times.
Monday, Oct. 6th, Beck and MGMT at Theatre St. Denis in Montreal SOLD OUT.  I haven't been so excited for a show in AGES.  This anticipation is only intensified by the rumours that this may be Beck's last tour.  I have never seen Beck live, but I'm told that he is amazing.  MGMT produced one of my favourite albums of the past year, so I'm excited to see if MGMT can start the party right.
With that, have a great weekend!  I know I will.