Friday, October 30, 2009

Friday Five: Hottest Bands in Canada

As 2009 comes to a close, the "best of" list will begin to multiply exponentially. I must admit that I'm a sucker for a list. This year, BTA participate in i(heart)music's 2009 Hottest Bands in Canada poll. This year's edition included 34 of Canada's most popular blogs and independent music publications. You can view the results and our commentary here.
These groups made my top-10 list:
Think About Life - Havin' My Baby

Honourable mentions:

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Free Timber Timbre for Halloween

In celebration of Halloween, Timber Timbre are offering free downloads of their excellent self-titled album until midnight on Oct. 31. This album comes highly recommended, it's hauntingly moving.

Leak Wednesday: Julian Casablancas

With Julian Casablancas' Phrazes for the Young now making its way around the Internet, its time to decide whether the wait was in vain or not. To no one's surprise the album is good. Casablancas brings an unmistakable swagger to the tracks that helped The Strokes cement their place in music history.
The opening track, "Out of the Blue" conjures memories of Strokes' pacing and tone, with added production, making it assuredly unique. As the album continues, it's apparent that the album title is appropriate, every track is rooted in a different style or mood. From the folk-inspired "Ludlow St." to the dance track "11th Dimension", Casablancas has covered all his bases.
Overall, it's a great listen and arrived in time to make it on best-of-2009 lists. Be sure to check out the limited edition box set or iTunes version when the album drops, Nov. 2, since the leaked version is of poor quality.

P.S. A performance of "11th Dimension" on Conan.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Metric Unplugged

Metric's brand new acoustic EP entitled Plug In, Plug Out has just been released, which contains a collection of stripped down versions of noteworthy songs off of their latest full length album, Fantasies. I really enjoyed the acoustic version of "Help I'm Alive" when it first popped up on the interweb some time ago, and am quickly becoming a fan of these new releases. And I'm not just saying that because Emily Haines and I are lovers. Secret lovers, so you wouldn't have heard anything about it. So just accept it as fact. In addition to this, Japanese DJ's, 80kidz have also put their own spin on the band. Preview some of the tracks and check out some video below. Metric begins a few Canadian tour dates tomorrow before heading down south.

Metric - Help I'm Alive (80kidz Remix)

Mistabishi - From Memory (Matrix Remix)

Here's a relatively new drum and bass behemoth from from Hospital Records' Mistabishi. The song is quite mesmerizing and the video is all about nostalgia and loss of youth in times of adult frustration, with stop-motion and other sorts of integrated animation tying these things together.

Mistabishi - From Memory (Matrix Remix)

Sprengjuhöllin: Hoping for Icelandic Economic Stimulus

Photo and video by Ming Wu

Iceland's Sprengjuhöllin (pronounced "sprenk-yu-hok-lin" and roughly translated to, "castle of explosions") rolled into Ottawa's Avant Garde last night for the fifth show of their 10-day Eastern Canadian tour. The show was a treat for the 20-or-so people who turned out. Sprengjuhöllin played a sweat-filled set of well-executed pop rock. The five members squeezed onto a stage no bigger than the average balcony and ran through a selection of their two albums, Bestu kvedjur (2008) and Timarnir okkar (2007). Having translated half of the songs into English, for the tour, it's clear that the boys are aiming for new crowds, off the island.
Sprengjuhöllin's sound is best described as a more intricate, early Peter, Bjorn and John. The band is fun and serious at the same time. Their sound is pop and experimental, which results in a great dynamic both on record and on stage.
For your listening pleasure, I've included one track in Icelandic and two exclusive English tracks. Enjoy!

P.S. Check the instructional video on the pronunciation and meaning of Sprengjuhöllin below.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Weezer feat. Weezy...WTF?!?

I want to like Weezer, I really do, and every album I give them a fair chance. Raditude's MO aims for the charts. I'm talking Top-40, with the track "Can't Stop Partying" feat. Lil' Wayne, the band has no qualms about rubbing shoulders club tracks. No matter what, I'll always have a soft spot for the =w=, but it's a love-hate relationship.
It's worth a listen.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

You Say Party! We Say In-Store!

Photo by Ming Wu

Vancouver's You Say Party! We Say Die! treated Ottawa to an acoustic in-store performance today. The dance-rock combo performed songs from their 2007 album, Lose All Time and their latest release XXXX (Check the video below).
Released Sept. 29, the album features a more polished and concentrated vision from the band. In general, the album appears more whole than its predecessors. With more pacing in the choruses and vocals taking centre stage, it's clear that the band understands where their strengths lie. YSP!WSD! has taken a serious step forward with this release. A track that stands out is "Laura Palmer's Prom", its 80's synth-ballad style is novel without being cheesy. "Dark Days" is sombre without killing the vibe, assuring that this YSP!WSD! will be keeping the kids dancing.
Check them out on their upcoming tour with BTA favourite Think About Life.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Inbox Wednesday: Friendo

Calgary seems to be the current buzz town for Canadian indie music thanks to Chad VanGaalen and his close Flemish Eye brothers Women. There are several bands defining Calgary's lo-fi sound, such as Hunter-Gatherer, Manchild, and Puberty (who lends it's bassist to today's featured band).
Friendo is based out of Calgary and includes the drummer from Women. Their sound is a hybrid of lo-fi noise, rock, and pop and the vocals are shared by all members adding an interesting dynamic. After a few listens, this album grew on me as complete work. Some of the tracks really don't stand alone, but when part of the whole, they seem integral. Overall, I get the impression that this is band is a work in progress with a solid foundation.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Monday Mixtape

(image courtesy Altsounds)

There are loads of nice tracks emerging these days, so I decided to compile and share. This will be a decidedly electronic and remixed offering, highlights for me include a couple from English disco house newcomer Burns, who is currently on tour with Calvin Harris followed by dates with Canadian superproducer Deadmau5. New Miami Horror single "Sometimes" is pretty tight though not very groundbreaking, keeping with the Cut Copy/Midnight Juggernauts/Aussie retro electro steez we've been hearing for a couple years now...still, good shit. Loving the Keenhouse track remixed by Grum, who has been featured all over the place on account of "Heartbeats" and its infectious vocal hook. Listen to these in order, backwards, pick and choose, or not at all, but there's definitely at least a few you will want to keep with you a while.


Friday, October 16, 2009

Friday Five: Sing-along songs

Here's a selection of tracks that I've been singing along to for the past few days.

Vampire Weekend's first LP was so good that I still haven't grown sick of it. In an attempt to appease their growing fan base, here's the first single. Look for the new album Contra January 11, 2010 in the U.K. and a day after in the U.S. Let's hope for a leak of the album soon.
Karen O has taken the world by storm this year; referenced as fashionista and cultural icon, she's definitely made her mark in 2009. Under the moniker of Karen O and the Kids The release of the soundtrack to Where the Wild Things Are is sure to solidify her impact. The album, comprised of acoustic tracks, could stand alone as a Karen O project. I really like it as a concept and I'm excited to see the release of the film.
Thanks to G.R.O.'s recommendation, The Drums have been playing non-stop on my Zune since his visit to the Dominion of Canada. Their surf-pop style really resonates with search for simple tunes of late; the tracks are infectious and uplifting. This track is from their Let's Go Surfing EP.
Released in March, Dan Mangan's Nice, Nice, Very Nice is a great collection of tracks. It's dark, surreal, and real all at once. Give the track a listen and you'll see.
The Hidden Cameras have such a unique sound and it comes through really nicely on this track from their new album Origin: Orphan.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Inbox Thursday: Vincat

This past Thursday, Victoria's Vincat killed a small house show in front of a dozen people. I showed up expecting the sounds of a space-folk band. Vincat's show turned out to be an inebriating psychedelic experience, with their own lighting and all. It appears that Vincat have a alter-ego in the form an experimental prog rock three-piece, whose music is made up of echoing lyrics and noise jams. This music can be found on the first of their alter-ego trilogy Inner Space.

Their most recent release, hoi polloi is a great collection of acoustic and electric campfire tracks. With chanting choruses and whispered verses, Vincat have perfected their sound, whatever it is. There is a certain element of the surreal that Vincat bring to everything they do. It's ultimately impressive that a band can entertain these two very different styles successfully. This is great stuff.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

U.S. Can Now Find Comfort in TAL's Family

Think About Life have a bunch of news. First off, Family will be available in U.S. as of today, October 13. Secondly, drummer Matt Shane has left the band to complete his master's degree of fine arts and that means TAL welcome new drummer Greg into the fold. Lastly, the band has added the female voice of Caila to the mix.
Check out the great video for 'Sweet Sixteen'. It's one of the better videos I've seen in a while; it features the band dressed in one large sweatshirt.


Saturday, October 10, 2009

Pop Montreal Discoveries: Merrill Garbus

The Phenomenal Handclap Band's attempts to establish a new world record for greatest number of tambourines incorporated into a never-ending jam. Fever Ray channeling unholy spirits to stun the audience. Girls collapsing and interrupting Sufjan Stevens work-shopping new material. The Balconies staking claim to being the best unsigned band in Canada. Pop Montreal 2009, The Quebecois version of SXSW, was not exactly bereft of memorable moments. Even so, there was one individual who stands out as the revelation of the festival.

Merrill Garbus, an adopted Montrealer, otherwise known as tUnE YaRdS gave astonishing performances first in a packed in-store basement show at Phonopolis and then with added theatrics at Musée d'art contemporain de Montréal. The instant appeal is to her incredible vocals which enable her to morph from a naive 13 year old girl, to a world-weary passionate African woman, often within the same song. This focus is helped by the relatively simple instrumentation consisting primarily of ukulele and drums giving a tribal folk feel. BTA was also in attendance to see her side project, Sister Suvi, at their last ever show. We've picked up their "pay what you like" LP, Now I Am Champion which also comes highly recommended.

tUnE YaRdS - Sunlight
tUnE YaRdS - Fiya
Sister Suvi - Champion

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Inbox Wednesday: Make Your Exit

As of late, Make Your Exit's Remind Me the Reason I Came is getting a lot of play on my Zune. MYE's successful use of varied tempos and multiple instruments keep ears tuned-in. What stands out is MYE's beautiful harmonies, check out 'Kids'. Most of MYE's tracks tend to build steadily into a very subtle, yet conscious climax. All this makes for great listening.
I'm glad to see another band that is not afraid to expose their influences. One could draw comparisons from Broken Social Scene to Bon Iver. With that said, MYE's sound falls smack-dab into the current indie conscience.