Friday, November 28, 2008

Friday Five - Hip Hop and Christmas

Here are my top tracks of the week.
Apologies to those tasteless/heartless people who hate Hip Hop or Christmas.

Paranoid - Kanye West
As I read the email which told me that 100 people were being laid off within the local branch of the company I work for, I couldn't help but worry I may be one of the unfortunate ones. At this exact time, I Kanye spoke to me in my earphones; "Don't be so paranoid." And he was right...there was no need to worry. I still have my job.

And He Gets The Girl - Lupe Fiasco
This song is not new by any means. In fact it's quite old. But, it is still my favourite Lupe track, and it has been on my playlist all week. I love it, and I am actually quite excited to share it with you.

Shells - M.I.A
Not only does Slumdog Millionaire have Oscar buzz brewing, but it also touts a strong soundtrack. Here an M.I.A's joint from the album.

Lil Wayne ft . The Game - Red Magic
As a sucker for Lil' Weezy's mix tapes. This is the top track of The Drought is Over 6.

Goldfrapp - Winter Wonderland
We are now less than a month away from the birth of Santa Clause (that's it right?), and while there is no snow on the ground, I have decided to start getting into the spirit of things. Enjoy.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008


I'm moving into a new apartment.

It's stressful, unpleasant and time consuming, and I can't wait for it to be over.
Yesterday, I was packing and realized that I was singing 'Unbreak my Heart' by Toni Braxton. Loudly. Why??? I have no idea. Maybe the idea of leaving my tiny basement apartment is subconsciously causing me grief?

It then dawned on me that my poor choice of song was probably due to the fact that I was marinating in copious amounts of nail polish remover (I had to clean up a neon pink 'My Chihuahua Bites' spill from my bathroom floor).

At this point, I decided that it was time to take a break from packing and get back to the blogging I had been neglecting, for I was surely driving myself insane with all this cheesy R&B.

So here's a little bit of what I've been listening to lately:

UNKLE - This British crew have been around for a while, and they caught my ear with their song Lawless. Their latest albums are Restless (2008) and Remix Stories Vol. 1 (2008). Check out their MySpace for a sweet collaboration with Queens of the Stone Age's Josh Homme.

Bound Stems - This band's latest LP, The Family Afloat, is an amazingly uplifting listen - highly recommended it for those gloomy nights of undesired nail polish remover buzz.
PS - One thing I don't recommend doing while hopped up on acetone fumes? Watching UNKLE's Rabbit in your Headlights video...

Monday, November 24, 2008

New Music Monday

Antony Hegarty is one of my favourite musical discoveries since I started to listen to 'good' music. He's got this really unique quivering voice that oozes with every emotion ranging from sadness and isolation to hope and salvation. With his band, Antony and the Johnsons, Antony's striking voice is accompanied a band that can both kick up a lot of dust with heavy rhythms or cool down with melodic orchestral ballads.

It was Antony and the Johnsons' Mercury Prize-winning second album, I Am A Bird Now (2005), that got me hooked on this androgynous singer who "...sees [his] reflection in Boy George". He has collaborated with the likes of Lou Reed and also appeared on one the year's best, Hercules and Love Affair's debut s/t LP. The Johnsons dropped their Another World EP on the world back in October with their third LP, The Crying Light, due for a release around January 20th, depending which side of the pond you reside.

Antony and the Johnsons - Shake That Devil (from Another World EP)

Antony and the Johnsons - Another World (from forthcoming The Crying Light LP)

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Small is Beautiful

Size Doesn't Matter? All the Small Things? The Smaller the Better?

I'm sorry, there is surely no good tagline for a band called "Small". They are clearly pouring scorn on music journos throughout the world. They are, however, the most impressive band I saw on my musical travels this week, supporting Chairlift at London's Dublic Castle.

They sound like an intergalatic version of their Danish compatriots, "Mew", playing gorgeous shoegaze pop like their latest single, "Comic Girl"

Their album, "Teenage Cover" was released in Denmark in August this year. No word yet on when the rest of us can get our hands on it.

Small - Comic Girl
Small - Holy Cow

Friday, November 21, 2008

Friday Five Plus One - Coffin Rehearsal

Hey homies. Here's a roundup of five of my favourite tracks from the past few weeks.

Why? - Fatalist Palmistry
I reckon that it's close enough to December 31st for me to say with almost total certainty that Alopecia by Why? will be in my top ten albums of 2008 list. And most likely in the top five rather than the bottom.

The Walkmen - The Blue Route
Another classic track from another superb album. If you haven't given You & Me by the Walkmen a thorough listen, do it now. Now!

Amadou & Mariam - Sabali
I've been a big fan of the magical Malian duo Amadou & Mariam for several years now and couldn't be more excited about their new album, Welcome to Mali, which was released on Monday. 'Sabali' features production by Damon Albarn and is so good it's almost unreal.

Deerhunter - Nothing Ever Happened
On this track Atlanta's Deerhunter really remind me of Guided by Voices circa Universal Truths & Cycles, and that's a very good thing. The forementioned band's critically acclaimed album Microcastle was officially released late last month, but leaked online way back in May. Head Deerhunter Bradford Cox names David Bowie, Brian Eno, Echo & The Bunnymen and My Bloody Valentine among his influences so if you like any of those bands, chances are you'll dig Microcastle.

Love Is All - Wishing Well
bonus: Crystal Stilts - Shattered Shine
The Swedish band Love Is All released their first proper album last week (2005's Nine Times That Same Song was really just a compilation of the group's earlier singles) and it's a doozy. Lucky Canadians will be able to check them out live as they'll soon be making stops in Vancouver (Nov 24), Montreal (Dec 10) and Toronto (Dec 11) with Brooklyn's Crystal Stilts. That's a swell double bill.

'Wishing Well' video:

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Inbox Wednesday: EX~PO

Sifting through the dozens of emails in the BTA inbox, I came across EX~PO.  Central Meaner Street is the second collection of tracks by Dean Marino. After reading Marino's bio, I couldn't help, but have the utmost respect for him. EX~PO's frontman/mastermind is a seasoned producer/engineer/studiohead.  His resume lists work with Tokyo Police Club, Born Ruffians, C'mon, Amy Millan, and BTA friends Ruby Coast.
I am always intrigued by what career producer/engineers are able to produce on the other side of the studio.  Marino proves that he's taken all that he has learned behind the glass and transcribed a "how-to" for bands. His music is simple; applying the "less is more" mentality Marino has successfully crafted some great rock songs.  "My New Story" dealves into the psychedelic, "Constant Commuter" chugs and drives smoothly through my headphones, and "At Day's End" yearns almost Jonas-like.
Let me digress, Marino's music is not simple.  It's meticulously pieced together, natural,  and engages the listener through every verse. One of my favourite finds of the years.

P.S.  If you like what you hear make sure to check EX~PO out on Dec. 4th at Rancho Relaxo in Toronto.

Monday, November 17, 2008

New Music Monday: Fire! Santa Rosa, Fire!

From Adelaide, South Australia, comes Fire! Santa Rosa, Fire! Citing everyone from DFA 1979 to Daft Punk as influences, the group uses rapid and fierce guitar riffs along with the voice of new addition, Caitlin Duff, to form their own brand of electro-pop. Performing with the likes of Midnight Juggernauts at Big Day Out '07, these guys are on the up and up and show a lot of promise. Theres something to be said for the simplicity with these guys in terms of the rhythm, and then adding the off time guitars to complete the sound. Check it.

Fire! Santa Rosa, Fire! - War Coward

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Remix Sunday - Huey Lewis & The News

So my friends and I are newly hooked on geeky board game Settlers of Catan.  I've played probably 6 games in the past week, and would absolutely be playing at least one more tonight if said friends hadn't started without me.   I could (and maybe should) be embarrassed of my inner dork, but as role model-worthy Huey Lewis & the News once said, it's hip to be square.
So in homage to Huey allowing me to not feel guilty about my guilty pleasures, I am dedicating my entire Remix Sunday post to the 80's icon himself.  
After some digging, I actually found a full Huey Lewis remix album, released only in Japan in 1989.  Here's a choice cut from it, plus a really bad 80's dance remix of 'Hip to Be Square', as well as a cover of 'The Power of Love' by the Pigeon Detectives.
And, courtesy of the same 'someone has nothing better to do with their time' gods as have blessed me with Catan, a fan-made video for 'Hip to Be Square' made from a bunch of American Psycho clips.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Contest: Birdwatching with The RGBs in Tooting - December 13th

Birdwatching! No, it’s not the latest excuse for Bill Oddie to stave off his impending retirement; it’s actually a great indie club night, run by recent BTA discoveries The RGBs. They are the obvious headliners, with support from up and coming indie electro acts Sam Amant and MissDavinaLee. And as our early Xmas present we've bagged a couple of guestlist tickets so you can be there!

All you need to do is email by Saturday 29th November with the subject line "I wanna come Birdwatching with the RGBs"

Let’s grab our bird whistles, binoculars and wooly hats and get in line!

In the meantime, check out a couple of tracks from the other bands on the bill:

MissDavinaLee - Moustache Man
Sam Amant - Ding Ding Down

Friday, November 14, 2008

Friday Five

Its hard to recall the last time San Fransisco based Deerhoof had a bad record. They're newest one is slightly weirder than their previous releases but still possesses the likability that many indie-pseudo art rock rock bands try so hard to achieve. A couple other bay area bands have also pop-ed up on my radar: Experimental Dental School and KIT. Both are fairly solid rock acts the former being a straight up guitar/drum duo and the latter being noise rock. Both have that nwe band freshness that I find so appealing. There are also two older tracks down below. I tend to play catch up at the end of the musically; buying/downloading most of what I missed but what was recommended to me. You've probably heard a ton about Shad and No Age but if you haven't you're in for a treat.

Deerhoof - Chandelier Searchlight
Experimental Dental School - Back Porch Floating
KIT - Forest
Shad - I Don't Like To
No Age - Errands

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Hi, This is Times Neue Roman

Only months after their debut at the Vancouver Art Gallery's FUSE event, Times Neue Roman are getting alot of attention and doing some big things. The Toronto based act is comprised of poet Arowbe Arowbe Arowbe, who continuously delivers such an energetic flow and some great hooks over the beats composed by Alexander, The, who brings us back to the 8-bit console generation. Prepare for one of your next favorite club bangers when you hear "Hi, this is my new song". Remix anyone? You may already be familiar with them if you were at the Nuit Blanche Festival. Yes..they were the guys driving around in a U-Haul and performing out of the back of it. Their antics, along with a much hyped live show which includes some great visuals, have caught the attention of fans and the industry alike. With tracks already set to appear on CSI: Las Vegas, and A&E, you're going to be hearing a lot of these guys.

Times Neue Roman’s To Die EP is available now on iTunes and other online music stores.

Times Neue Roman - Hi, This is my new song

Styrofoam Ones/Times Neue Roman @ Nuit Blanche 2008

Times Neue Roman - To Die

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Inbox Wednesday: The RGBs

Ever since the inception of this feature I've been giddy with excitement at the prospect of rummaging through the BTA mailbag to discover what musical treasures have been sent through our door. And the experience has easily lived up to the fervent expectation. There have been some real contenders this week, including the latest anti-folk gem from Jay Jay Pistolet, who the London contingent of BTA have been stalking for the majority of the year. But there was one real standout that exploded from the mailbag to snatch the trophy.

The RGBs showcase a collection of fully formed, infectious, electro disco pop tunes, with extra bass to ensure total submission from the dancefloor. "The Day" is my current favourite, with its pulsing electro beats, frenetic synths and compulsive vocals, inspiring spasmodic grooving / flailing in this correspondent's living room. As their debut promo "The Everlaster" below illustrates they also provide some impressive visual stimulus which never hurts...

Their debut album is due to be released in early 2009. Having already played a bunch of the major UK festivals and due to support CSS in the coming months, expect them to emerge as one of the early highlights of next year.

The RGBs - The Day

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Yet another successful Strokes side project: Little Joy

Little Joy is some kind of awesome collaborative project featuring Fabrizio Moretti of The Strokes, Rodrigo Amarante of Los Hermanos and Fab's girl Binki Shapiro. It all started when Fabrizio and Rodrigo met way back in 2006 at a festival in Portugal and vowed to lay down some tracks together. It took a bit longer than expected, but the guys eventually hooked up at Devendra Banhart's pad in Echo Park and recorded some material. The resulting self-titled debut, released last week, is already one of my favourite albums of 2008 and I've only listened to the whole thing a handful of times.

For some reason the sound here really, really reminds me of Is This It, especially on tracks like 'Keep Me In Mind'. Some selections are decidedly mellower ('Play the Part', 'With Strangers' and closer 'Evaporar') but a Latin vibe permeates the album and gives even the gentlest song, 'Don't Watch Me Dancing', a sweet twist.

Little Joy - Keep Me In Mind

Little Joy - Brand New Start
Little Joy - How To Hang A Warhol

'Keep Me In Mind' live in San Diego:

Monday, November 10, 2008

One Day

Facts about Juana Molina:
1) Born in Argentina
2) Has been playing the guitar since she was 5
3) Lived in exile in Paris for 6 years
4) Used to be a comedic television actress
5) Voice for Elastigirl in the Argentinean release of The Incredibles
6) Fifth album Un Día was released last month

Juana Molina - Un Día

Sunday, November 09, 2008

New Music Monday - Pattern is Movement

I have wanted to post about Pattern is Movement for a while now, and today is the time to drop some knowledge.

Pattern is Movement is Andrew Thiboldeaux and Chris Ward. At first glance, one may easily mistake the duo for a pair of truckers or movers in search for a good burger joint. They just look the part. Yet, this brawny, bearded, and balding duo shouldn't be judged by its appearance, but rather by the character of its music. And lucky for them, Pattern is Movement has created a brand of song that many are labeling as one of the most original sounds around the indie scene today.

With influences ranging from ?uestlove to Radiohead, the boys are responsible for some incredible tracks. My favourite is "Right Away", a song that is catchy and upbeat yet still haunting. Think Arcade Fire on this one.

For those of you in the Toronto or Montreal area, you can see the band this week at the Elmo on Nov 15 or Club Lambi on the 16th. Enjoy the tracks below, as well as this Take Away Show featuring the duo performing on a traffic median.

Watch more Crackle videos on AOL Video

Pattern is Movement - Right Away

Friday, November 07, 2008

FR1D4Y 51V3

Behold several tracks that have been spinning on high rotation, both on my computer and in my head.

After boasting about how great Crystal Castles are and how good 'Death' by White Lies is, why not post that remix the Castles did of said track.

White Lies - Death (Crystal Castles remix)

New stuff from Sebastien Grainger's self-titled LP. More rock than dance, but I'm feeling it.

Sebastien Grainger & The Mountains - (Are There) Ways to Come Home?

Aparently Iran (the band) is nothing new, but I first heard them recently with their track 'Buddy'. TV on the Radio's Kyp Malone is a member of the band and Dave Sitek, of TVOTR, helped to create those layers of noise that permeate his work.

Iran - Buddy

DJ Z-Trip, who I am totally unfamiliar with makes just the right tweaks to this Motown staple. The results are a crisp, funky mix of Michael at his pre-pubescent best.

Jackson 5 - I Want You Back (Z-Trip remix)

Epic. Space. Disco. Three of my favourite things, and they all exist on Lindstrom's latest 55 minute, 3 song, Where You Go I Go Too.

Lindstrom - Grand Ideas

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

White Lies

BTA sat down recently with White Lies frontman Harry McVeigh to discuss the band's origins, Ben Sherman, and Guitar Hero. Journalistic genius ensued.

White Lies is made up of McVeigh, Jack Brown and Charles Cave; a trio who started playing music together as 15 year olds under the moniker Fear of Flying. When asked about the name swap, Harry told BTA that the original trio was "very naive in our song writing and in the way we approached everything." After they matured as a group and got some Talking Heads covers out of their system change was in the air. McVeigh explained that White Lies came about once "the band progressed so much that we thought we deserved to be called something new."

White Lies enjoyed their first trip to the economic danger zone that is Iceland last month, where they played the Airwaves festival. McVeigh told BTA that the festival experience was great and that "Iceland is an amazing place, completely barren, there’s nothing there." Sounds like a new marketing campaign for the tourist board.

A recent tour with Canadian twosome Crystal Castles led to collaborative efforts on an amazing subterranean-sounding electro remix of White Lies’ track 'Death'. In true patriotic style, BTA asked Harry if Crystal Castles had pimped Canada to them, and were disappointed to hear that this was not in fact the case. In a possible reaction to our dejected faces Harry quickly assured us that they had actually been visiting Canadian landmarks and having a great time. "We went to Niagara Falls yesterday, and we’ve heard good things about [Queen West]. We also ate a few meals here," he said, gesturing loosely in the direction of McDonalds. God, I hope not.

Fresh off the festival circuit, the boys were playing a show at the Horseshoe Tavern and then flying to NY for an in-store show at Ben Sherman. While they'd done in-stores before at record stores, this clothing shop will be a new experience for them.

When asked about the band's favourite type of show, Harry mentioned that while every type of venue has its merits, festivals guarantee new fans, a definite plus for up-and-coming bands. "People tend to wander around, and so we get fresh ears," explains Harry.

The topic of new bands led to talk about Guitar Hero, North America's pop culture craze. We were curious to know if it was also big in the UK (it is) and if they themselves had played (they have). Harry even endorsed the videogame, explaining that plastic instrument mania is encouraging for the music industry as it motivates new talent. And they wouldn’t mind being a part of this phenomenon either: "I think it would be a huge compliment to have one of our songs in there."

Still young and modest, these talented lads did not seem to take their burgeoning success for granted and even went so far as to mention a couple of acts they thought we should check out, fellow Brit bands The Joy Formidable and Post War Years.

For your enjoyment, here is a live version of White Lies' 'Death'.

Monday, November 03, 2008

New Music Monday: Brontide

Brighton-based math rockers Brontide may have only been doing their thing for a few months, but the trio have already recorded a handful of impressively powerful and menacing instrumental tracks. Drummer William Bowerman used to be a member of the now defunct I Was A Cub Scout (a name undoubtedly familiar to British readers) and describes his new band's sound as "the most melodic music we have ever played, in the same song as playing the heaviest music that we have ever played, with no singing." Fantastic.

Brontide - Crunk Anansie
Brontide - Get the Stellaz in Deano

In other New Music Monday news, Vampire Weekend have contributed a new track called 'Ottoman' to the soundtrack for feel-good flick Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist. VW simply can't seem to write anything except catchy, excellent tunes and 'Ottoman' is no exception. Unfortunately, in a disappointing turn of events the soundtrack is not, in fact, 'infinite' as it contains only 15 tracks. It does, however, feature other exclusive contributions from the likes of Devendra Banhart, Band of Horses, We Are Scientists, Bishop Allen and Shout Out Louds which makes things okay again.

Vampire Weekend - Ottoman

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Friday Five (Sunday Edition) - Finlandia

Sorry about my tardiness, friends. Hallowe'en is to blame.
In other news - Last weekend I was fortunate enough to be invited to Musikki & Media, the annual weekend conference/showcase of the finest of emerging artists Finland has to offer. I drank and slept about as much as only a jetlagged alcoholic North American can, yet I did catch some really great shows, too - turns out the Scandanavian music scene offers a bit more than heavy metal and the occasional pop princess.
Here's a quick glance of the best that I caught while hangin' out in Tampere:
In the tradition of the Japanese tendency to produce highly infectious all-girl garage rock comes the Finnish counterpart to the 5,6,7,8's or Shonen Knife - Pintandwefall (pronounced separately - 'pint and we fall') is 4 teenage Finnish girls (yes, I know) who write witty, cute, and often ridiculous lyrics juxtaposed with Pixies-esque riffs and an extremely competent rhythm section. Songs like "Somewhere I'd Be Worshipped" demonstrate the band's lyrical sense of humour "little girl likes Poets of the Fall/it's almost Pintandwefall/so she's our fan". Also, check out "What is Shark" on their myspace.
Also check out the video.

They're signed to Gaea Records, a small label in Finland that seems to have its finger on the pulse of that which is certainly exportable.
Next on the Gaea Records showcase of Thursday night was electro-pop 4-piece I Was a Teenage Satan Worshipper. Not much known about these guys (and girl), as their band bio is obviously a load of BS, but musically they mix dark synth and vocal influences with bubblegum pop electronics to create a vibe that is somewhere between A Place to Bury Strangers, EMF's only hit "unbelievable", and Crystal Castles.
Also on Gaea, Jesse (pronounced Yess-eh) are a bunch of dudes with bad haircuts and ironic 80's vintage stylings (read: Terry and Dean from FUBAR) playing fully instrumental electronic dance music. It's not particularly groundbreaking (one could even argue that it isn't particular good) but they do produce some pretty solid hooks, even if they lean on them a little often. Overall, it all just kind of sounds like a lost Megaman soundtrack. "Riffi" is obviously the level where you're whizzing through the galaxy on a hovering skateboard.
My only real regret of the weekend spent in Finland (apart from sleeping through the operating hours of the Lenin museum) was missing Vuk's set. Instead, I passed it up for the highly-buzzed and totally forgettable performance from Rubik, the "must-see" show of the festival according to the organizers and locals. From the reports of those who went against the advice of the masses, Vuk's darkly eclectic chamber pop was an absolute highlight. The New York-via-Helsinki young woman has an incredibly distinct voice that I'm sure must be absolutely stunning in a live environment. I'm currently hoping she'll respond to my email request for an mp3 (I can't find one anywhere). In the meantime, check out "Gramophone and Periscope" on her myspace.
My favourite performance of the festival was from Helsinki's modern-day Velvet Underground/Jesus and Mary Chain hybrid Joensuu 1685. I grabbed a copy of their debut, self-titled disc and have found it to be less vibrant than their live show, but still a valuable listen if you like your stoner pop mixed with the kind of analog fuzz that's predominantly missing in the days of 320kbps. Regrettably, the most accessible song on their myspace, "Walk on Water", isn't featured on the record. But "Sick City" should give you a more accurate representation of what these (really nice) dudes are all about.
Sidebar history lesson: Thanks to Wikipedia, I now know that Joensuu is a northern University town in Finland. What happened there in 1685, however, is anyone's guess; the city wasn't officially founded until 1848.

Remix Sunday: We Must Smoketh the Joint-th

How was everyone's Halloween? I hope it was filled with drunken debauchery and lots of stumbling. I gots a few remixes for you here; not really gonna write anything today, my mind is basically a bowl of brain soup. You may or may not enjoy these but trust me on the DFA mix of Paper Planes though, the music is hella tight... but it just doesn't fit quite perfectly with Mia's flow.

M.I.A - Paper Planes (DFA Remix)
TV on the Radio - Crying (Telepath Remix)
Radiohead - Reckoner (Spoolwork Remix)

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Face Shredders

Last week I caught the indie rock triple threat of Times New Viking, No Age and Los Campesinos! as they made a stop in London at the Electric Ballroom on their Shred Yr Face tour.

Los Campesinos! were technically the headliners and the Ballroom represented their largest indoor gig yet. Unfortunately, the venue sucks balls. It's got the ambiance of an airplane hangar, multiple leaks in the roof and dismal acoustics. Plus the door staff didn't seem to know how the guest list or online ticketholders should be dealt with, forcing everyone to line up together one giant queue. In any case, all three bands were solid and played lengthy sets. Cardiff indie poppers Los Campesinos! offered up a number of songs from new album We Are Beautiful We Are Doomed (released October 27th) along with a handful of classic cuts from debut Hold On Now, Youngster... and all were well-received by the jubilant crowd.

In my humble opinion Times New Viking's performance was the most engaging, but then again they are one of my absolute favourite bands so I'm probably biased. Oh yeah, and No Age were great as well.

Los Campesinos! - We Are Beautiful We Are Doomed

Times New Viking - Drop-Out
Times New Viking - Mean God
No Age - Eraser

Gareth of Los Campesinos! rocking out with Times New Viking: