Monday, September 29, 2008
And the lord said...let there be new wave electro pop for all.
If you put Crystal Castles and Mates of State together in some crazy experiment, you might get something resembling Perth's Voltaire Twins. Having performed a mere fifteen or so shows and only a few demo's to speak of, the wonder twin duo have caught the attention of several labels and are currently a featured group on Australian radio station, Triple J. Catchy hooks and synth heavy bass lines are what make "Disco Intelligent Light" a fun dance beat. Having already backed some big Australian names, and heading out to support Ladytron in October, you may start to hear more about James and Tegan Voltaire. I'm looking forward to hearing more from these guys once they've recorded their debut EP, currently in the works. This will probably eliminate any of the mic or pitch issues people have with these early recordings. It will be interesting to see where they take their sound. Wonder twin powers, Activate!
Voltaire Twins - Disco Intelligent Light
Voltaire Twins - London!
This is when I go on record to proclaim my prediction for who that may be. And by tomorrow, if London, ON's MC extraordinaire Shad takes home the hardware, I'll look like I actually know what I'm talking about.
Shad's nominated record, 2007's The Old Prince is about as strong of a hip hop record as Canada has ever seen, and perhaps stronger than any we may see for years to come. Musically, his band (and yes, he plays live with one), fuse elements of jazz, soul, hip hop, and rock while Shad's rhymes are clever, intelligent, honest and just overall enjoyable even to those who balk at 98% of the urban music genre. His lyrics are distinctly Canadian, yet his widespread potential appeal leave us thinking that, unlike basically any Canadian MC's to date, his success may not be limited to within our own borders. Given that, the Polaris panel could (and should) recognize The Old Prince as an opportunity to acknowledge and encourage quality urban music in Canada.
By comparison, co-nominees such as the Weakerthans, Stars, and arguably Kathleen Edwards are riding their nomination on the back of records that are not only not the best album of the previous year, but aren't even close to the best albums in their own discography. Had the Polaris existed when Left and Leaving dropped, John K. Samson and co. would have had a strong case for the cheddar, but such just isn't the case as Reunion Tour is widely considered their most uninspired effort to date.
For the record, if it's not Shad, then my runner-up votes go to co-Londoner Basia Bulat's folk gem Oh My Darling, and Parc Avenue by Montrealers Plants & Animals.
Sunday, September 28, 2008
Live albums always present an interesting juxtaposition of pure, unbridled honesty and a certain level of fabrication within the context of the source environment. Take for example Live at the Zenith, the 'new' release from UK's Archive ('new' in that it has been out for some time in Europe, but just reached shelves in North America recently).
The album was recorded at Paris' sold-out Zenith Arena in January of 2007 and fully captures their building, epic throwback too-new-to-be-considered-classic rock sound that fills stadiums in many (mostly non-English dominated) countries across Europe. The crowd's response to tracks such as "Fuck U", "Pulse", and "Black" provide the listener with the context of a large, spanning audience completely enthralled by their Floyd-esque vibe. In listening to it, one can't be blamed for assuming that Archive is the biggest, most influential rock band on the planet.
The main problem with this listening experience across the Atlantic, however, is that it evokes an atmosphere with which us North Americans just can't relate. Even if we are Archive fans (which painfully few are compared to our European counterparts), our live experience with the band is far more likely to be taking place at the El Mocambo than the Air Canada Centre. Not to say that the show wouldn't be great at the El Mo (it would probably be better), but the overall experience of "Live at the Zenith" doesn't adequately represent the North American listener experience.
Perhaps its North America's general apathy for the band which has caused this release (and 2006's Lights) to take so long to reach shelves here, or rather its that they seem to not mark us on their map of priority that has caused them to not fully take off over here; regardless of cause, all Live at the Zenith does for American and Canadian Archive fans is remind us that short of hopping a plane, we'll never experience the ethereal magic of seeing the band amongst thousands of others who actually give a shit.
Theres a few remix's that I've been listening to non-stop this week. I thought I was tired of all this remixing and jive talking but I guess there are still some quality ones out there. First off there is obviously huge hype surrounding anything TV on the Radio these days. There new album 'Dear Science' is a strong candidate for album of the year already and really, who expected any less. Every TotR record put out so far has been an almost instant classic. Here's a remix to every ones favorite TotR song;
Staring At The Sun (Byran Hyde Remix) - TV on the Radio
Next remix? Justice. OH EM GEE! JUSTICE DID A REMIX?!!! HOW SURPRISING!!! It even sounds like a Justice remix. Who woulda thunk it? Still good...
As Above, So Below (Justice Remix) - Klaxons
Last on the docket comes a remix from a record that I consider to be the best of the year. Vampire Weekends' self titled debut has been played over a thousand times in my car and is probably gonna get spun a few more times before I throw it in the discount bin in my basement.
Oxford Comma (Burntpiano Edit) - Vampire Weekend
Thanks to The Mixtape Podcast for these lovely remixes and, by the way, when I'm inside Jessica Alba, I'll let you all know.
Saturday, September 27, 2008
These Brooklynite plain janes play quick, reverb-heavy rock with nods towards mod and shoegaze acts of the past. If you like The Raveonettes, Sonic Youth, Palomar, or anything similar, you'll enjoy the emotionally distant wall of sound. Their music skips along to foot tapping drums and layered vocals overlapping and decaying into one muddled mess. If that doesn't sound like an affectionate description, it's meant to be. "Tell the World" is a prime example:
Their Myspace says their album is sold out, but I'd venture a guess that it can be picked up on tour, so catch them at Pop Montreal on the 5th if you can. Mates overseas will have to wait until December 2nd when they begin their UK stint at Brixton Windmill in London.
Vivian Girls - Tell the World
Vivian Girls - I Believe in Nothing
Vivian Girls - Where Do You Run To
Friday, September 26, 2008
The Tunics – Cost of Living
Utterly thrilling, anthemic rock ‘n’ roll with obvious echoes of The Libertines, Oasis and Artic Monkeys. Lyrically centered on a frustration with the rise of knife and gang culture in London, but given a duel dimension by the deteriorating state of the world economy. The most culturally vital music I’ve heard all year.
White Lies – Death
Intense, haunting, gothic power pop, for fans of Interpol, Editors, The Killers and all the bands who inspired them. Tension is adeptly built throughout leading to a pulsting conclusion where they repeat the chilling "Yes This Fear's Got Hold On Me" line until the music fades into the distance, evocating images of life's final fleeting moments.
Stricken City – Tak o Tak
Compulsive drum beats, heavy reverb and a dash of synths perfectly complement the female singer's sultry, gravelly female voice. Yet another Moshi Moshi band of exceptional promise.
My Sad Captains – All Hat and No Plans
I must have listened to this over 100 times in the last few weeks and still have no clue what it’s meant to be about, as each time I find myself equally lost and enchanted by it’s lush melodies and soothing vocals which bring back fond memories of The Delgados, Goldrush and many other Truck Record stablemates.
Apache Beat - Tropics
Pretty much what the names suggest, a mix of African bongo drums, synths and impressive amounts of distortion to create a droning tribal sound. Offering such an eclectic concoction, this is perfect for fellow sufferers of musical attention deficit disorder.
Thursday, September 25, 2008
Get over it, TV on the Radio are awesome. Without question, I hold these guys as one of the most innovative and captivating rock bands in operation today. Sure, everyone thinks that 2006's, Return to Cookie Mountain, was the cat's pyjamas and how can you beat powerhouse tracks such as "Wolf Like Me" and collaborations with Bowie. But newly released Dear Science is just as good - if not better.
The truth is that TV on the Radio have been making incredible music for the majority of my credible music listening years. Their sound is accessible in some aspects and totally abstract in others, sometimes I can understand the lyrics, sometimes I can't. Regardless, they make exciting music and it keeps me interested longer than a week. And I have ADD bad.
From Dear Science (2008):
TV on the Radio - Halfway Home
TV on the Radio - Crying
TV on the Radio - Family Tree
*The new disc in it's entirety is spinning over on the band's myspace.
What started it all for me, from Desperate Youth, Blood Thirsty Babes (2004):
TV on the Radio - Staring at the Sun
Nothing like dirty rock to kick off a Thursday morning - semi hung-over, tired and oh-so-close to the weekend, I had been in my cubicle for mere minutes when "Wrecking Ball" by Dead Confederate came on the (online) radio.
So I immediately did a bit of research and jumped on here to share, because who knows how many of you are out there in the same situation, stuck at work and waiting to be distracted.
Hailing from Athens, Georgia, Dead Confederate is like a Nirvana / Kings of Leon hybrid. Grungy and whiny, these guys have an enjoyable heavy sound and include fun contractions like 'yer' in their song titles, clearly confirming their southern heritage.
Wrecking Ball is their first LP, and from what I've heard so far, it's solid. While I remain partial to the title track, it's not on their MySpace, but I'll try to find it by tonight. In the meantime, give them a go!
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
There are three artists that made the cut this week, and I have decided to share each of them with you in a post called Good, Better, Best.
Formed in Stockholm in January 2003, The Legends are made up of 9 energetic Swedes with varying degrees of musical talent (some picked up an instrument just to be in the group). They are signed to Labrador Records. Check out the track.
We Plants are Happy Plants - UITC (Up In The Clouds)
Anyone in the market for a Disco Banger should be ecstatic with We Plants are Happy Plants' Up In The Clouds. This victorious son-of-a-bitch leaves your head bobbing and your heart pounding. Plus, it's vaguely reminiscent of that Street Fighter dance track that kicked ass during jr. high.
We Plants are Happy Plants aka Peter Bergmann hails from Budapest Hungary an pulls influence from the trendiest of dance masters - Daft Punk, Justice, Sebastian Tellier, Hot Chip and more. Check out the myspace for more juiced up tracks.
Nancy - Keep Cooler
Nancy - Keep Cooler (Born Ruffians Remix)
This was a great email to receive... thanks to Praxis from the band. The Born Ruffians Keep Cooler Remix is the first song which the Canadian indie kings have remixed, and they chose a great original track to start with.
Nancy is a five piece hailing from Brasília, Brazil that has been featured by the BBC, USA Today, and more. Keep Cooler is their flagship track; one that is highlighted by engaging vocals, a fun interplay of instruments, and an eclectic song structure that keeps you on your toes. The Ruffians remix is a quicky and peaceful take on the track, but I enjoy the original just as much. You decide which you prefer.
And if your band would like to be featured in an upcoming version of Inbox Wednesday, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks team.
Monday, September 22, 2008
So maybe I’m lying a little and this isn’t entirely new. To be quite honest, this album came out earlier this month with rave reviews and I’m tardy aboard the buzz train. But we’ll go with the ‘better late than never’ mantra. So here it is – Chad VanGaalen’s Soft Airplane.
This Calgary artist and musician has certainly come a long way since his days of recording songs in his bedroom. His previous album Skelliconnection (2007) was shortlisted for the Polaris Music Prize, and Soft Airplane (2008) is quickly gaining momentum. While this man’s work can only be described as eclectic, the electro-psychedelic-folk sound (uh...) found on this third LP is all kinds of wonderful. TMNT Mask waxes poetic about everyone’s favourite mutants while showing that electronica can mix with harmonica, the folk staple making an unexpectedly appropriate appearance. Poisonous Heads is a work of genius, pairing VanGaalen’s frail albeit haunting voice with deep gurgling beats. And Molten Light deserves a mention, if only for the fact that it inspired this acid-trip of a video (VanGaalen's own animation):
Sunday, September 21, 2008
My roommate and fellow BTA contributor, Matty B., showed me this track a week or so ago. Apparently, French producer DATA isn't anything new but I only recently got hooked on the different incarnations of his track "Rapture". The original track, and accompanying remixes, feature former Death from Above 1979 drummer/singer Sebastien Grainger singing about some girl "telling her lies again, running around with other men" reminding me of his DFA79 days.
The original is a dark, '80's-inspired, synth number with a little guitar wankery and Grainger's sexually fuelled vocals. This track could have been called "Nightdrive", but Kavinsky already penned that (in a good way).
DATA - Rapture feat. Sebastien Grainger
Then DatA apparently reworked the track into "Rapture Pt 2" by dropping a suspiciously Timbaland-influenced beat and putting some reverb on Grainger's vocal track to heighten the tension. Definitely a slow burner, but I'd go nuts if I heard this in da club.
DATA - Rapture Pt. 2
Finally, we have Edwin Van Cleef's remix of "Rapture" which cements the original even deeper in '80's nostalgia. Beginning with some menacing drum pounds and minor chords, it quickly gets washed in bright synths creating a more uplifting take on the original.
DATA - Rapture (Edwin Van Cleef remix)
Friday, September 19, 2008
The Walkmen - In the New Year
A wailing good time with organ-drenched choruses and all sorts of jangly goodness. One of, if not the best song from their latest, You and Me, which is terrific.
Jadakiss feat. Jay-Z - Who Run This
Jada, or Al Qaeda, his less than clever gangstaish tag (but why not, it rhymes) gets some help from Jiggaman on this track from Jada's new LP. Jay adlibs in place of any real hook, no verse from him either, but the beat makes up for that, rumbling with a murky east coast vibe.
Ra Ra Riot - Dying is Fine
Well written pop rock, bounces along, string backing, etc. Sounds like it could be many other bands but it's secretly a few notches above mediocre.
Thee More Shallows - Fly Paper
This album (Book of Bad Breaks) came out last year on Anticon and really didn't/doesn't seem to be on anybody's radar, at least where I'm at. A shame really, as it shares a lot of what makes Why? so compelling, with headphone-worthy production and tense and scatterbrained sing-speak lyrics.
The National - Santa Clara
This Virginia E.P. track continues to be a favorite from my favorite band of a while now. They can do no wrong with beautifully melancholic and tongue in cheek songs like this, and end it with some horns why don't you. This is the B-material from a band making so much A stuff they have to curve the grade somewhere.
Thursday, September 18, 2008
I first discovered Metronomy several months ago when they opened for some band I now remember nothing about. Metronomy's set was all zany dance routines, strobe lights and outlandish outfits. I was hammered, they were awesome; it was love at first sight.
But what really stuck with me was just how good their music is. As it turns out, most of the tracks I was digging are from the group's second album, Nights Out, released last week. Genre-wise, it's all over the place (electro, funk, rock, and disco all feature) but the overall quality of the album's 12 tracks easily places it among my favourites of 2008.
First single 'Radio Ladio' (video below) was released in the UK way back in November 2007 and three other Nights Out tracks have subsequently been released as EPs, the most recent being the insanely catchy 'Heartbreaker'. 'The End Of You Too', albeit not one of the choices for a single, makes good on the promise that Foals made a while ago but never totally deliver on. It's real electro-fied indie rock, and it is awesome.
Metronomy - The End Of You Too
Metronomy - Heartbreaker
The band is about to embark on a European tour, returning to London for a show at ULU on October 31st.
Oh, and by the way: Metronomy don't yet have a North American label, so if any of you aspiring music-industry types are looking for a winner you might want to consider putting your money on this horse.
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
The BTA inbox has recently been a source of great musical discoveries, and one of the best arrived last week in the form of an email from New York City's Young Lords. These guys pump out grimy blues/rock numbers that bring to mind Beggars Banquet-era Rolling Stones with a little Strokes and Kinks thrown in for good measure. Check out "Rodeo Songs" and "Turn It Up" below to see what I'm trying to get at.
Young Lords - Rodeo Songs
Young Lords - Turn It Up
The debut album Rodeo Songs will be released on October 9th.
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
Check out the full story here.
The news of this premature death has mobilized thousands of fans and has already resulted in a myriad of YouTube tributes in his honor. Not that YouTube is a measure of one's importance, but it's impressive nonetheless. Who am I kidding, YouTube is totally a fame barometer - the number and complexity of the photo montages people are creating for this man kind of blows my mind.
But I digress - sorry, grief makes me nervous. All this to say: Mr. Wright, it's now your turn to Shine On... RIP.
Monday, September 15, 2008
Really all you need to watch is after 3 minutes 30 seconds.
And in other news, whose sex is on fire? The new Kings of Leon record leaked about a week ago and it's a solid effort by the Followill boys. But as my good friend bbbykmbrly. put it, "There's alot of Knocked Up and not enough Charmer". I have to agree, but more Kings later; for now just continue laughing hysterically at the epic guitar solo provided by Mr. Lollipop.
Sunday, September 14, 2008
Brooklyn, NY's shoegaze poppers Chairlift are exposing a regret in myself tonight that I didn't know I had. As I am ingulfing myself in 'Earwig Town' from their brand new debut LP, I remember painfully the night this past spring when they opened for MGMT at the Mod Club down the street.
HAUNTS, or 'The Haunts' (they don't seem to care much) are an up and coming four-piece London band whose new wave style is fueled by some heavy guitar riff action and some catchy synth. After being picked up by Black Records they released an album this summer, and have steadily been gaining a following on their home turf ever since.
Warning : Do not go to their website unless you want to enjoy a small epileptic fit today. But you're going to go to it now anyways, aren't you?
That's fine, I'll wait................
Anyway, aside from inducing seizures the guys have been pumping out a slew of dance tracks, remixing the likes of Midnight Juggernauts, CSS and Late of the Pier (Check these guys out) through their side-project, Haunts Remix, . BTA received some tracks from them a little while back, and their remix of 'The Bears are Coming' always got me bouncing when it crept up on the playlist. Have a listen and if you like what you hear, you can download a whole bunch more tracks from their myspace. Or if you're across the pond, check out HAUNTS live all over England starting this week.
Late of the Pier - The bears are coming (HAUNTS Remix)
The Music - Drugs (HAUNTS Remix)
Saturday, September 13, 2008
Spleen United have been around for a while but I only discovered them a few months ago. I'm assuming that they're huge in their native Denmark as their album Neanderthal, released back in January, quickly earned gold record status in their home country and the first two singles ('My Tribe' and 'Suburbia') have been getting tons of airplay. The band has been selling out Scandinavian venues all year and recently ripped it up at the Roskilde Festival this summer.
Thursday, September 11, 2008
Ra Ra Riot was not one of the band's I checked out when I first saw their name across the blogosphere this past summer. But then I read about their recent debut disc, The Rhumb Line, in Rolling Stone on the plane to Vancouver and was intrigued. They described them as a mix between Arcade Fire and Vampire Weekend, and I guess that's an alright basis for description. Their music gains depth from the classically trained orchestral section yet can still be playful through their vocals even if they are singing that 'dying is fine'. Regardless of any artistic comparisons, I think I've found one of my fall's first gems and one of this year's best new albums.
Ra Ra Riot - Dying is Fine
Ra Ra Riot - Too Too Too Fast
And a bonus mix these guys and Andrew Murray of the RAC did of Tokyo Police Club...
Tokyo Police Club - Juno (Ra Ra Riot/Andrew Murray remix)
Sure, I've posted about Glasvegas before, but as they just released one of the year's best albums earlier this week I have no qualms about covering these guys again.
Yet more tour dates were announced yesterday and sold out in under five minutes, but for those of you who missed your chance the band is playing a FREE in-store gig at HMV's Oxford Street store tomorrow at 6:00pm. Thanks to a hookup at HMV (cheers, Jason) I'm on the guestlist for the event but wristbands are only available on a first come, first served basis from 9:00am so I encourage anyone who is interested to show up mighty early. Glasvegas will be signing everything you can shove in front of them before and after their performance. More info is available here.
Glasvegas - It's My Own Cheating Heart That Makes Me Cry
Bonus goodies that didn't make the album:
Glasvegas - Legs 'n' Show (from the 2006 Go Square Go 7" single)
Glasvegas - Stabbed (alternate version)
MTV UK Glasvegas session videos
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
Reflecting on the past few months, I’d say that this summer’s predominant themes were a) bi-polar weather and b) music festivals. This last weekend honoured both, sealing the season with the much-anticipated Virgin Festival and a pleasantly sporadic alternation of rain, toe-numbing cold and scorching heat. Whatever, at least it wasn’t Gustav.
While I must say my opinion of this festival is slightly biased by my attendance at the glorious Lollapalooza in August, I’ll try to highlight my best and worst V-Fest moments as fairly as possible.
The Kooks: I love these Brit boys, and their show was as amazing as I expected it to be. In the middle of the set, lead singer Luke Pritchard ordered everyone around (audience and band members alike) to take a seat, and the performance continued like pre-school story time.
The Pigeon Detectives: I had never even heard of these guys, but I was told that they were worth seeing. Dressed in matching leather jackets, this new-wave ensemble put on an effing brilliant show. Mostly, I was mesmerized by the frontman’s ability to throw his mic and other miscellaneous objects way up in the air and catch them effortlessly, in spite of his wildly apparent inebriation. Oh, and they sound pretty good, too.
Drunken Dave Grohl: Despite the fact that I haven’t cared about the Foo Fighters since high school, I was highly entertained by how hilarious this man is. A solo take on Everlong had me swooning, but it was the triangle solo that stole the show.
Bathroom line-ups: Did I just have excellent timing, or were these nonexistent? Maybe everyone was in line for funnel cakes (see below)... While the obligatory porta-potties were still available, V-Fest also boasted REAL washrooms, a rarity at festivals.
Food line-ups: When the security is as lax as these guys got by mid-afternoon, you know that a lot of people will have the munchies by evening time. And a 45-minute line-up for funnel cake is NOT cool. The variety of food was fantastic, but a greater number of concession stands would have been nice.
Special effects: While most of the setups were pretty low-brow, there seemed to be an overzealous use of smoke machines. I just want to state that this effect -in broad daylight- is probably one of the most useless things I’ve ever seen. Far from creating the ‘mysterious’ effect they were prooobably going for, it just looked like the tech guys had been hot-boxing the backstage area.
Paul Weller: Dude, you’re kind of old. And what the hell is with that haircut??
Overall though, amazing weekend of fantastic music. Honorable mention to The Constantines, The Weakerthans and MGMT, who were some of the only performers from whom I was not distracted by the slew of stupid text messages scrolling along the stage-side video screens (wedding proposals and Chuck Norris jokes??)
And yes, I missed the Oasis incident trying to sneak out early.