Sunday, November 29, 2009

Remix Sunday: The Rural Alberta Advantage

This live acoustic version of 'In the Summertime' was recorded at Bottom of the Hill in San Francisco back in July. It's the closing cut from the fantastic albums Hometowns by Toronto's The Rural Alberta Advantage and one of my favourite songs of the past little while. These guys have been making tracks all over North America since mid-2009 but have yet to make an appearance in Europe. Here's hoping they plan to visit London soon.
Another live version of the same track, this time from a performance at Calgary's Sled Island festival with the full band:

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Bands Undone: Parlour Steps and Bonjay

I'm late on this post, but thanks to Bands Undone, I've been exposed to a couple really good acts. Last week featured Parlour Steps for the the third installment and Bonjay for the fourth.
I was fortunate enough to catch Parlour Steps' solid set at Canteen where the group played a couple tracks off their most recent release Hidden Names. Their sound is far from groundbreaking, but they're a good band. The track "Sleeping City" was a stand out for its yearning for simplicity, I think its a testament of strength when groups can strip-down their music to its strongest roots.
Now I'm truly bummed that I missed Bonjay's set, but for a glimpse into the duo's sound check out the track and the video of Bonjay's Feist cover. These guys are sure to make a dent in the party scene.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Movember Mania!

In honour of Movember, I present Andrew Wyatt's scraggly handlebar mustache. Delightful, although not necessarily philanthropic, since this video for Miike Snow's Animal was released in August. Plus this dude is always sporting some form of face fur, no? Regardless, everybody cares about men's health, especially BTA's own Brad, whose campaign (and mustache) is going strong.

Prostates and patchy facial hair aside, this ridiculously catchy song is now paired with an equally entertaining video. Not that the first effort wasn't good - this one is just better suited to the tune. Plus who doesn't applaud a band who creates two different videos for one single?

This fidgety eighties-style animation is the work of photographer and videographer Anthony Dickenson, who also created this great Groove Armada video . Enjoy!

The Seedy Seeds

Today I heard Cincinnati's, The Seedy Seeds. First getting together in 2006, they have put out a bunch of really solid tracks from what I have only just begun to dive into. The trio use everything from banjo riffs to synthed out melodies to create both pop dance tracks as well as some more mellow tunes. For myself at least I am reminded of Mates of State when I hear their harmonies. And for any of you that read BTA on a regular basis, you know how much I love motha f@%#ing harmonies. The group has a pretty decent tour scheduled for themselves for the remainder of 2009 and their album "Count the Days" may very well make it into some of our 'best of' lists for the year.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Friday Five: Surf Songs

Simple-sounding song structures always impress me. I believe it's quite difficult to write a good "pop" song. A song that everyone likes without losing an element of credibility. The legends of surf-rock definitely had that ability and I'm glad to see surf making a resurgence. I've been listening to a lot of this surf-inspired garage/indie rock and here are some of my choice selections.
Girls have received a lot of press lately for their very-NSFW video for "Lust for Life", but this is a band I just can't get out of my head, pun intended.
Girls - Summertime
BTA's own G.R.O. gave me the tip about The Drums and their style fell right into what I've been listening to for a while.
Now, Surfer Blood is an "inbox gem", I got word about this group sifting through the many emails we receive daily. I'm not ashamed to admit that the name caught my attention. Think surf-rock meets BRMC.
I am embarrassed to admit that up until two weeks ago I was barely aware of The White Wires. They're based in Ottawa and run a label, Going Gaga Records, specializing in punk rock and all things non-commercial. Their brand of garage rock is dirty and simple. Most tracks have that familiarity that any good pop song should, not that these guys are in any way pop. I'm excited to have discovered another exciting band in the area. They're excellent 45 on Trouble in Mind Records called "Pretty Girl" is worth the six bucks, check 'em out.
Vampire Weekend needs no introduction. They are simply great. This is their great new single.
Vampire Weekend - Cousins (Track removed by request of XL and Web Sheriff)

D-Sisive Free Album Download

Just a quick post today to let you all know about the new album from Toronto emcee D-Sisive. Grab a cyanide laced cup of Kool-Aid and enjoy his new album for free called Jonestown. Just follow the link........ here.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

We are the Sea Kings

A very quick and modest note came into our e-mail today from Joe of The Sea Kings. Yes, we do read our e-mail. It simply read, "We are the sea kings - London UK. Jake/James/Joe - Mandolin/drum/ 3 voices. We are currently recording our first album." Joe, that's all I needed to hear. So many bands try to impress me with lavish press releases, fancy dinners, and beautiful women. But I am a music purest, and simply cannot be bought. (Note to Bigwigs: I can be bought, everyone else disregard this) What I like about their track 'Villages' definitely has to be the three part harmony, which starts the track off nicely, and the simple percussion. They have a very east coast folk feel which I really enjoy.

The Sea Kings - Villages

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Anya Marina likes T.I, stupid vampire fad

Anya Marina is kinda hot and has an awesome voice. So naturally, she has fit my criteria to blog about her music on BTA. I literally came across this girl today while doing my daily scout of the interweb looking for new tunes. Now I haven't seen Twilight and don't really intend on watching movies about some lonely emo girl that shags vampires or whatever, but she must be on the soundtrack as one of her videos is the whole 'the artist is in the random movie setting / scene but not' deal. What caught my attention though was her cover of the T.I track 'Whatever you like'. It's pretty solid and shows that Anya has been deeply affected by T.I's prison sentence just as much as the rest of us. Now as I tend to do my research as I write..I discover at this point in the post that this track as been floating around for a while. Still good though. And the guy from Weeds is in the video! Anya has just released her new album, Slow and Steady Seduction: Phase II, produced in part by Brit Daniel of Spoon.

Anya Marina - Whatever you like (T.I Cover)

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Remix Sunday: Taken by Trees vs Animal Collective and Guns N' Roses

It's a rare breed of musician who can cover an Animal Collective track without creating an ungodly mess, but Swedish outfit Taken By Trees (the solo project of Victoria Bergsman) have managed it with aplomb. 'My Boys' is a gently reworked version of one of 2009's best tracks, 'My Girls', that begs repeated listing. The song appears on Taken By Trees' excellent sophomore album East of Eden which also features backing vocal's from Animal Collective founding member Panda Bear. See the connection there? There's an official music video that features Victoria walking on a tightrope. That's pretty much it.

Taken By Trees seem to have a particular flair for covers. Last year's treatment of the Guns N' Roses standard 'Sweet Child O' Mine' was similarly fantastic. Here's a video of a live performance:

Taken By Trees will be at The Garage on December 14th.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Hip-Hop Hipsters and their mixtapes

The best hip-hop right now is coming from the unsigned and underground. No question. That's right 50 cent, your album sucks. Upon my return from some epic surfing in Tofino I came across these tracks to add to my November playlist. Chiddy Bang, who have been mentioned before on BTA, have recently released their mixtape The Swelly Express. Available in it's entirety on their myspace. I think one of the guys left the group...I'm not really sure. Let's just say he did and you can correct me. Xaphoon Jones kills it with the beats he forms from the likes of MGMT, Passion Pit, and now this one from Sufjan Stevens. These are not mash-ups for the most part. Xaphoon really takes the song and makes it his own.

Next is Wiz Khalifa, a new name for myself at least, only hearing about him recently. His mixtape, Burn After Rolling has a pretty good track with him rhyming over Empire of the Sun. The rest of it is.. so-so. I mean what's with the DJ drops man? You know I hate those. And probably could have done without the shout outs to your twitter followers. I think I am just really liking how the new face of hip-hop is showing that they are definatley aware of what's going on in the other realms of music and harnessing it.

Chiddy Bang - All things go (w/Sufjan Stevens)

Wiz Khalifa - The Thrill

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Ottawa Scene: Bands Undone @Canteen

BTA was recently invited to participate in Bands Undone, a series of stripped-down shows at Ottawa's Canteen Art Shop & Gallery.
The first of which featured Sudbury's Meadowlark Five, a six-piece group with several members sharing lead vocals, backed by orchestral rock arrangements. Their set was well-executed and came off sounding quite good. Their cohesive sound shines far and above their recorded tracks. Several of the recorded tracks run upwards of five minutes, with the lead singer's voice overpowering all other instruments. Fortunately, when heard live, the band comes together. The highlight of the Meadowlark set was a solid Fleetwood Mac cover. There's definitely potential for this group and it rests on their ability to rein their creativity and focus on making tighter arrangements and balancing the stronger elements with the weaker ones.

Photo by Kyle Raven

On Saturday, Silver Starling rolled in to play their own Bands Undone session. Silver Starling has been garnering a lot of press for singer Marcus Paquin's involvement in the upcoming Arcade Fire record, which he confirmed is happening (he will be assisting in production and engineering). Being completely new to Silver Starling's music I was quite excited to experience it first-hand. The band certainly didn't disappoint. They played a tight set, it appeared that every swell was natural and every note simpler than the last. Silver Starling could be categorized as "radio friendly", but that is in no way a insult, I would be proud to hear a track like the upbeat "Ghosts" or the more tragic "Love and a Broken Heart" on the radio. Silver Starling's is only building momentum for what will surely be a good year. Also, their album cover has some of the best art of the year.
Congratulations to Kara Strang and her initiative in bringing together Ottawa music journalists, photographers, and bloggers. The events have already begun to connect the community with the artists who are passing through Ottawa. I've often complained of the lack of cooperation within the community and I see this as a leap forward in terms of stimulating Ottawa's scene.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Remix Monday: The Chairs Cover EP

The Chairs were featured in this week's Friday Five and it's convenient that I mentioned their likeness to Neutral Milk Hotel since they have covered "In the Aeroplane Over the Sea" for their cover EP. Their cover is pretty true to NMH style, growing into complete cacophonous discord.
The EP entitled Can We Be Friends also features covers of Bon Iver, Radiohead, Wilco, and Jump, Little Children. The EP is available for free download here and I recommend it since their take on these tracks are pretty unique. Highlights of the EP are Radiohead's "Motion Picture Soundtrack" which features a melodious accordian and Bon Iver's "Flume" with some beats and a piano.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Friday Five: Inbox Edition

BTA receives several emails daily with quality music submissions, unfortunately it's truly impossible to get to them all. This week's edition of Friday Five includes some artist submissions that have tickled my ear.
Touring the East coast, J.J. Ipsen dropped off a sample of his album that is in the works. Working with a full band, these tracks come together beautifully. Ipsen's songs have such an interesting structure, making them tough to label and a pleasure to experience on record and especially live.
Appleton, Wisconsin's The Chairs have a sound that will throw you back to the first time you heard Neutral Milk Hotel. Think NMH, but less obscure and a little more optimistic. They have a new release entitled Nine Ways which I've really enjoyed.
The rise in geographical band name references caused me to glance over these guys at first. The Wilderness of Manitoba have such a mature folk sound. Their sound is incredibly authentic and natural. It's easy to imagine the crackling of a fireplace and warm beverages being served with their music playing in the background. The Wilderness' Hymns of Spirit and Love is a soothing collection of tracks that will warm up your cool autumn evenings.
I really like Dinosaur Bones' self-titled EP, it's a little dark, a lotta rock, and very confident. Upon listening to the Bones play live, I was impressed at the sheer size of their sound. The band is in the process of recording a full-length to be released in the new year.
Having really enjoyed their first release, A Nice EP, I expected big things from The O'Darling. Upon receiving their latest self-titled release I was somewhat disappointed, but further listening revealed the masked intricacy of their songs and developed my true appreciation for this group. The O'Darling are representing an interesting side of folk, the tracks on The O'Darling are playfully fun.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Skipping Girl Vinegar

I think I've been on a kind of acoustic folky alternative kick lately. I find it's better to put on for the ladies. They don't get the same perplexed look on their face like they do when I throw on some grimey dubstep. Apparently it doesn't set the mood? Australian group, Skipping Girl Vinegar (or SGV) seem to fall into that category for me. Acoustic alternative..not dubstep. With some very fine melodies and song structure, it's no wonder the Melbourne group, which includes brother and sister duo Mark and Sare Lang, have become one of the hype bands across Australian media this year. What's also cool about these guys is that lead singer Mark has been releasing some cool, somewhat odd, animated clips to accompany some of the tracks of their debut album, Sift the Noise. God how I hate cats. Check out the clip that goes with 'Sinking' below. SGV are currently touring across Australia.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Inbox Wednesday: The Girlfriends

The Girlfriends are Ottawa's answer to every misconception you have about punk rock today. Their brand of punk rock is coy, straight-forward, and unapologetic. With a release on the horizon, BTA was fortunate enough to receive a preview of tracks from an impending tape release. Having seen these boys play live, I was sold on their sound and style. Their three-piece show is an experience that usually involves masks and other surprises. Tacky as that sounds, the tracks stand alone as reminders that punk rock was simple and exciting.
Most of their tracks clock-in at under two minutes, cramming-in an intensity that I haven't seen in while. Comprised of vocals, guitar, and drums, The Girlfriends' sound is as raw as it comes. The songs are short and and sweet, it's clear that the band has come across a song structure that compliments them well, concise and clear. Give "Robin Hood" a listen and you'll be left wanting more.
These boys are still young and have time to make mistakes and hone their live show, which is certainly the most unpredictable show I've seen lately.