Monday, September 28, 2009

New Music Monday: Islands' Vapours

It's a week into the release of Vapours and things are looking up for Islands. Last year's Arm's Way left something to be desired and the loss of founding member Jamie Thompson soon after its release appeared to handicap Islands' potential. Darker than Return to the Sea, Arm's Way lacked the fun that for which Islands are known.
The triumphant return of Thompson in time to record Vapours injected a fresh wave of Islands greatness into their latest effort. Vapours successfully blends the playfulness of Return to the Sea and the anthemic Arm's Way; throw in a little auto-tune in 2009 and Islands have assured success for the coming year.
It's nice to see such a great band back to its fine form.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Must See: Bike For Three!

To make a long story short (being at work and all...):
- Buck 65 & Greetings from Tuskan recorded their first album without ever meeting.
- Bike For Three's "More Heart Than Brains" is an infectious mix of sombre electro and eloquent poetry.
- Their MySpace tells the rest of the story, so I'm just going to send you there to read and listen.

Monday, September 21, 2009

New Music Monday: Girls

San Francisco's Girls are poised to release their debut album tomorrow. These boys rock a simple sound that straddles garage, psychedelic, and surf. What I like about Girls is their straight-forward approach to their music. When a lot of groups are wrapped-up in doing something new and cool, Girls have looked back on their influences and taken them as their own. Girls have themselves to thank for building a serious buzz at SXSW resulting in an extensive European and North American tour. I'll be sure to check them out when they swing by.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009


Australia Hip-Hop favorites Hilltop Hoods have dropped a video for their track 'Still Standing' off of their recently released album, State of the Art. If you haven't checked it out yet, I highly recommend you do so. Go I say. Now I'm just waiting for a zombie apocalypse video for 'Parade the Dead'.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Mumford and Sons

I was fortunate enough to stumble across Mumford and Sons this week while listening to Australia's Triple J radio station. This London quartet have been talked about for some time now here and there. Better late than never on these guys I reckon. Although their sound is primarily rooted in bluegrass, the band seems to have found a niche in the indie scene. The infectious banjo riff and four part harmonies of their first single, 'Little Lion Man' are fantastic. It really gives me an east coast folk vibe for you Canadian readers fortunate enough to live or visit that side of the country. They have already been recognized for their talents by DJ's and award panelists on various fronts. The band is currently playing a ton of sold out shows between now and the end of October, when their debut album Sigh No More is set to be released on Island records, who they have recently signed with. Catch these guys UK folk...if you can get a ticket.

Mumford and Sons - Little Lion Man

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

KiD CuDi + Ratatat = Goodness

Anyone who has read BTA for a while knows that we (well..myself at least) are huge fans of electro beat masters Evan Mast and Mike Stroud, also known as RATATAT. So ever since I heard the slightest whisper that the Brooklyn duo may appear on KiD CuDi's 'Man on the Moon' LP I've been waiting...watching..wondering. And wait no more as I finally got a chance to hear the two tracks with the instantly recognizable RATATAT sound with CuDi's flow layered over top. The trademark synthed out guitar riff which calls back to CuDi's chorus line on 'Alive' got me right away. 'Pursuit of happiness' presents a more laid back beat centered around one of their simplistic piano lines. As an added incentive on this track, MGMT also make an appearance, singing in unison with Cudi on the chorus. Finally, after two mixtape albums, a hip-hop artist has finally decided to work with Ratatat on an official release. This seems like an obvious choice to me, no? I'm hoping this is the first of many high-profile collaborations for the guys and we get a regular fix of new RATATAT from now on. Be sure to catch the boys performing live with Cudi on their first ever late night performance for Lettermen on Friday night. 'Man on the Moon' drops September 15th.

KiD CuDi - Alive (feat. RATATAT)

KiD CuDi - Pursuit of Happiness (feat. RATATAT & MGMT)

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Chiddy Bang

I’ve had a bit of a BTA hiatus this summer whilst working in the fjords of Norway. With an interweb connection that works depending on the weather in a house that pretty much used to be a brothel. So I’m going to try to make up for some lost time. Seems like I’m a little behind on this one, but I’m sure Chiddy Bang would have been part of my summer playlist if I had heard them earlier. Just when you thought you couldn’t stand to hear any more re-works of MGMT, these hip-hop hipsters from Philly drop a mixtape beat sampled from ‘Kids’ to get you bobbing. Lyrically, this track I find is hit and miss. But I’d be lying if I said I didn’t like the beat. I don’t know much about these guys but they seem to be making the rounds lately due to their new era indie rock sampling. Along with this track they also put their own spin on Passion Pit’s “Truth” and have taken a little something from the book of Radiohead in their live performances. These precision cut samples are largely credited to producer Xaphoon Jones, who along with working with the Chiddy Bang boys also dropped his own mixtape this summer. I’m looking forward to some more hipster beats from both these camps as well as seeing what else these guys have to offer besides chopping up indie favorites.

Chiddy Bang – Kids (Feat. MGMT)

Chiddy Bang – Truth (Feat. Passion Pit)

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Reading Festival Grade Card: Saturday

Reading Festival is cunningly timed each year to coincide with the release of GCSE and A-Level exam results in the UK. Here at BTA we've put together our grade card for the days we attended. Saturday's candidates were:

Dinosaur Pile Up, NME/Radio 1 Tent
More a leaf-eating Stegosaurus than the carnivorous T-Rex they aspire to be. For this lowest common denominator Nirvana-Vines rock, we're drawn more to the Subways' records.
Grade - D

Delphic, NME/Radio 1 Tent
BTA abandoned their Field Day performance at the dance tent last month due to immense frustration at stretching out one song for half their set. Thankfully, here they're much slicker, playing reasonable length songs much more palatable on the ears and suited to the occasion. "Counterpoint", with it's compelling mash of synths, bleeps and guitars, provides today's first shot of euphoria.
Grade B

Baddies, Festival Republic Tent
Score highly for their frontman setting what we're convinced is a new trend of "indie robot guitar dancing" whilst holding a perpetually surprised expression. Key tracks like "Battleships" sound like Klaxons B-sides. Disposable and liable to grate over time but ideal festival fodder.
Grade - B

Metric, NME/Radio 1 Tent
Draw heavily on latest LP "Fantasies", a few songs in Emily Haines proclaims her desire to "share the love" without a hint of irony and we're instantly smitten. The purity and sincerity of their new romantic pop charm is contagious and we swoon in unison with the crowd. What live music is for.
Grade - A*

Patrick Wolf, NME/Radio 1 Tent
Bounding on stage wearing truly absurd blonde hair extensions and the first of 2 outfits (a black and white union jack jumpsuit), we're exposed to this afternoon, it's easy to understand how the narcissism and Bowie obsession can overshadow the music. All wholly unnecessary when you can write excellent chamber folk songs with beauitfiul violin arrangements, such as on "Hard Times" and "The Magic Position".
Grade - B

Them Crooked Vultures, NME/Radio 1 Tent
After their appearance at Leeds yesterday, the rammed tent is pretty clear what's about to happen at this supposedly "secret" performance, featuring Josh Homme, Dave Grohl & John Paul Jones and a fat bald guy who everyone amusingly ignores for the entire show. They proceed to play sludgy, blissed-out stoner rock which we find it hard to relate to on first listen and focus on admiring the musicianship on display. Most memorable for the hero worship accorded to Dave Grohl, when he repeatably poured water over his head and shook his locks pretending to star in a shampoo advert.
Grade - A

Rival Schools, Lock-Up Tent
Hold a special place in our heart as United by Fate album soundtracked our university years, and that forms the basis of this hit-laden reunion set. "Used for Glue" remains the melodic hardcore band's key song. They throw in a cover of "Wonderwall to celebrate Oasis's recent demise, cut abruptly short due to the crowd's lack of support.
Grade - A*

Maccabees, NME/Radio 1 Tent
Far too polished and soulless live, and play too much of their inferior debut. "No Kind Words" & "Love You Better" just about scrape a respectable mark.
Grade - C

White Lies, NME/Radio 1 Stage
"To Lose my life..." has completed it's gestation period and the band are the most assured BTA has seen them. The appeal of Unfinished Business & Death has not faded over time & remain their highlights.
Grade - A

Artic Monkeys, Main Stage
Open their headline performance with new album track "My Propeller" followed by a Nick Cave cover. We have to admire the testes these boys have grown in the arid desert confines. A world away from their Glastonbury performance where Alex kept nervously addressing the crowd as "ladies & gentelmen"; here there is minimal acknowledgment of the field. Combined with pathetic sounds levels that plagued the main stage for the 2nd year running, the people respond in kind. Having diligently swatted up on Humbug in the few days since it's release, we can enjoy the predominantly slow-burning material on offer. We're still left with an overriding feeling that Turner is most effective when he portrays vivid images of recognisable characters such as on "When the Sun Comes Down" and "Fluorescent Adolescent", on his earlier pursuits.
Grade - B

Saturday Playlist
1. Rival Schools - User for Glue
2. Baddies - Battleships
3. Metric - Golds Guns Girls
4. Delphic - Counterpoint
5. White Lies - Unfinished Business
6. Arctic Monkeys - Secret Door
7. Patrick Wolf - The Magic Position

Friday, September 04, 2009

Friday Five: The Dying Days of Summer

If I had to pick five songs that marked my summer, these come as no-brainers to me.
No doubt that Think About Life have made the top of my list for albums of the year, so far, but this song is deathly addictive.
The Lovely Feathers recently had their "too hot for TV" video for 'Lowiza' premiered on (Click here to check it out). The level of irony is through the roof on this one, but doesn't that make them all the more "indie"?
Looking forward to The Balconies' CD release show next week in Wakefield at the Black Sheep Inn. Joining them will be Whale Tooth and Lei Vollebekk.
Closing out this year's Williamsburg Waterfront free concerts with Jay-Z in attendance propelled Grizzly Bear to the height of indie superiority.
Diamond Rings is The D'Urbervilles' John O's most recent project. With a slot at this year's Pop Montreal and a thumbs-up from Pitchfork, Mr. O has cred from the get go.