Friday, December 30, 2005

Devo - Snowball (Live)

With the recent unveiling of Devo's Disney project for kids Devo 2.0, I thought it was a good time to post a couple songs from Devo's Live 1980 album to reflect on just how good they were in their prime. This is a band that most people still see as nostalgic fluff from the 80's, without even knowing just how subversive and musically revolutionary they were. Of course, their songs were pretty catchy too. I have to wonder though how it will be possible to make songs like "Be Stiff" appropriate for children. There are probably more than a few classics that will be left off that Devo 2.0 track listing.

» Bonus track: Be Stiff (Live)
» Buy it on Amazon

Mates of State - Punchlines

It's pretty hard to resist the sugary pop charms of the husband and wife duo Mates of State. Personally I think I was hooked on this band within the first 10 seconds of hearing the album Our Constant Concern, but then again, I always did have a thing for organs. The strange thing is that for a long while I didn't even realize that they were a two-piece band. The intensity and fullness of sound that Kori Gardner squeezes out of her organ more than makes up for the lack of guitars in this band. After releasing 2 albums and an EP on Polyvinyl, they've decided it's time for a change. Their next album Bring It Back will be released on Barsuk Records on March 21, 2006. That's a bit of a wait... but hey now, the album's already leaked online. How convenient.

Hot Chip - You Ride, We Ride, In My Ride

The first thing I heard from Hot Chip was the cool remix they did for The Go! Team's Ladyflash single. Lately I've been reading a lot of buzz about their debut album Coming On Strong, released in North America last month through DFA/Astralwerks. To be honest, at first listen the album didn't really grab me, but I think it just takes some time to grow on you. Coming On Strong is a chilled-out electronic album with subtle beats and a loungey retro feel. Call me crazy but on more than one occasion they kind of reminded me of a funkier version of The Postal Service.

» Bonus track: The Go! Team - Ladyflash (Hot Chip Remix)
» Buy it on Amazon

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Housekeeping Update

We've been using Upload Hut to host some of our MP3s over the past month or so and it looks like they've recently closed up shop. As a result, there are some dead links on the page, and I will be going back to re-upload files for some of these links that are no longer valid. If anyone knows of another free hosting service that gives direct download links (or the appearance of one), please let us know.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Belle & Sebastian - The Blues Are Still Blue

So I finally had a chance to sit down and listen to all of Belle & Sebastian's upcoming album The Life Pursuit (it leaked a while back), and I have to say I'm really digging it. This is a band that have managed to progress far beyond their lo-fi roots, adding new instruments and influences while still maintaining the delicate melodies that are their trademark. There are some amazingly catchy pop songs here, and I can't get enough. (On a related note, I'd like to draw your attention to a B&S live cover of Michael Jackson's Billie Jean hosted on the French MP3 site, Aujourd'hui plus qu'hier. I can't think of a band more well-suited to cover this song.)

» Bonus Track: We Are The Sleepyheads

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

The Rentals - The Love I'm Searching For (Demo)

The impending return of the Rentals is probably the biggest news stories of the year for fans of Matt Sharp and/or Weezer. It seems that Sharp has given up his solo career for the time being in order to return to a collaborative songwriting environment. Rumours about him returning to Weezer seem unlikely, but The Rentals reunion could prove to be very interesting with the original line-up back together. Let's hope they bring their moogs. In the meantime a handful of early Rentals demos have been posted on MattSharp.net, head over and give them a listen.

» Buy Return of the Rentals on Amazon

Mahjongg - Rrabbitt

With the appearance of so many bands that sound like they grew up listening only to the Gang of Four, it's not surprising that many bands were overlooked in recent years. Mahjongg is a band that surprisingly hasn't been acknowledged by most in the dance-punk craze even though their music fits within that categorization. However, something about them stands out. Despite their stoic guitar riffs, on their recent album Raydoncong they blend so many genres and styles that they transcend any simple definitions. They are probably the closest approximation of what Talking Heads would sound like if they were still working with Brian Eno, or if they still existed period.

» Bonus Track: Hot Lava
» Buy it on Amazon

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

The Strokes - Hawaii

Here's a new b-side from The Strokes single for Juicebox. I'm really enjoying what I've heard from their upcoming album (it hits stores on Jan. 3rd), and this song is solid as well. I believe there was a poor quality live rendition of "Hawaii" floating around on the net a few months ago, but this is the studio recording. The Juicebox CD single is in stores now.

» Buy it on Amazon

String Quartet Tribute To The Mars Volta - Inertiatic ESP

I figured this album would be a pure novelty gag but it turns out it's actually quite well done. Vitamin Records has released tons of these String Quartet Tribute albums for everyone from Good Charlotte and My Chemical Romance to Rush and Weezer. Most of them sound like horrible ideas, but with The Mars Volta their music is interesting enough to make it through the translation. Imagine their music as the soundtrack for a movie and you have an idea of what this is like. More listenable than Omar's own trippy A Manual Dexterity Soundtrack at any rate.

» Bonus Track: Cicatriz ESP
» Buy it on Amazon

Monday, December 19, 2005

The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion - Kawasaki ZII750 Rock'n'Roll

Guitar Wolf are the loudest band in Japan and probably the entire universe for that matter. Their patented "Jett Rock 'n' Roll" provides a wall of distortion that is all but unmatched; if Spinal Tap's amps go to 11 then Guitar Wolf's surely must go to 25. Naturally when I heard about a Guitar Wolf tribute album featuring such bands as The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, Lightning Bolt, Snuff and Jim O'Rourke, I had to track it down. It was tough to pick only a few songs to share with you, but I did my best. The album is called "I Love Guitar Wolf... Very Much" and was recently released on Narnack Records in North America.

» Bonus Track: Puffy Amiyumi - Canna Fever
» Bonus Track: J Mascis + The Fog - Cyborg Kids
» Buy it on Amazon

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Andy Samberg & Chris Parnell - Lazy Sunday (Narnia Rap)

After years of turning the show off minutes in (if watching it at all), I've watched every episode of Saturday Night Live this season. This year the hilarious "Internet famous" comedy troupe known as The Lonely Island were signed on as writers, with one of their members, Andy Samberg, signed as a feature performer. Gradually this season has gotten better and better, slightly weirder, with the cast really starting to click with the team's style. Last night Samberg and Chris Parnell put together an old school rap dedicated to going to see the Chronicles of Narnia called "Lazy Sunday", which in just 2 minutes has managed to already become known as the best SNL skit since Christopher Walken uttered the words "More Cowbell". Above is a link to the mp3, but you can find the link to the video of the skit here.

» Bonus Track: The Lonely Island - The Heist
» Bonus Track: The Lonely Island - Ka-Blammo

Dec. 28th: Updated with new MP3 link.

Friday, December 16, 2005

The Mae Shi - Remarkably Dirty Animals

From what I've heard of The Mae Shi, they seem to be all about short bursts of energy and melody, supersonic combinations of weird electronics, guitar noise and strangled vocals not unlike Les Savy Fav and Brainiac. They have a new split CD with Rapider Than Horsepower that will be out in January on Strictly Amateur Films called Do Not Ignore The Potential. "Remarkably Dirty Animals" is one of their contributions to the album, which they describe as "paradoxically, the most challenging and accessible record we've made to date". This also seems like a good opportunity to mention The Mae Shi's remix of Beck's "Que Onda Guero" that's been floating around the interweb, which just may be better than anything that appears on the actual Guerolito remix album.

» Bonus Track: Que Onda Guero (Team Shi Latino 96.3 Remix)

Thursday, December 15, 2005

MONO and World's End Girlfriend - Untitled #4

Everyone's been busy posting tracks from the recently leaked new Mogwai album (which I will probably get around to as well), but I thought today I'd offer an alternative in the form of the Japanese equivalent. Tokyo's MONO have released 3 full length albums to date, 2 of which are available on Temporary Residence in North America. Most recently they teamed up with World's End Girlfriend to release Palmless Prayer/Mass Murder Refrain, a split CD with epic orchestral songs that build to massive crescendos. This particular collaboration brings to mind Sigur Ros more than anything, but check out MONO's individual albums for the Mogwai influence. WEG, on the other hand, use a lot more electronics in their own work.

» Bonus Track: MONO - Loco Tracks
» Bonus Track: World's End Girlfriend - Singing Under The Rainbow
» Buy it on Amazon

M. Ward - Let My Love Open the Door

Here's a cover of M. Ward singing the Pete Townsend classic that appeared on a compilation called Sweethearts which I've been unable to find anything about. This version is an amazing folk version complete with Ward's twangy vocals that change the song into a weepy, porch-style song. It's really simply beautiful. I've also included the song "Hi-Fi" which appeared on Ward's amazing record Transistor Radio. He also played and co-wrote the remarkable 18-minute epic song "Willie Deadwilder" that appeared on Cat Power's DVD/CD combo released earlier this year. It's so good I'm surprised that I haven't heard more from him. I really can't recommend this anymore than I am right now.

» Bonus Track: Hi-Fi
» Buy Transistor Radio on Amazon

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Islands - Rough Gem

If you haven't heard, Islands is the new project from former members of Montreal's The Unicorns. They will release their album Return To Sea sometime in 2006 on Rough Trade Records. "Rough Gem" is the song that most people seem to be showing the most affection for so far, mainly because it is the closest Islands come to the angular synth-happy danceable pop of The Unicorns. Just compare it to "Tuff Ghost", from The Unicorns' Who Will Cut Our Hair When We're Gone?

» Bonus Track: The Unicorns - Tuff Ghost
» Bonus Track: The Unicorns - 2014
» Buy Who Will Cut Our Hair When We're Gone? on Amazon
» Buy 2014 EP on Amazon

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Erika Scheimer & Noam Kaniel - I Have the Power

Recently I was able to check out the He-Man/She-Ra Christmas special, which is now out on DVD. After sitting with a group of friends and laughing our way through this horrible (yet entertaining) little cartoon, we went through the special features and were pleased to find the music video for "I Have the Power", which was written by the co-creators of the Power Rangers. I had long forgotten about this song, and afterwards went on a long hunt to find the mp3 file. I've found it, and now I'm sharing it with you.

Hot Hot Heat - So Horrible

These Hot Hot Heat b-sides have been burning a hole in my hard drive, and so now I pass them on to you. "So Horrible" is a song that has never been released to my knowledge, apparently it was recorded just after Steve Bays joined the band. "Wait A Second" is a demo from the Elevator sessions that was released on the Goodnight Goodnight EP. The best of the bunch, however, is easily "Move On", a great track from the Bandages UK Single driven by a Jam-esque bassline.

» Bonus Track: Wait A Second (Demo)
» Bonus Track: Move On
» Buy Goodnight Goodnight on Amazon

Monday, December 12, 2005

Hop Along, Queen Ansleis - Bruno is Orange

I don't know why but I've always been a sucker for female singer/songwriters. Maybe it's because I've always dreamed that I would walk up to a girl singing a song to me, which I've recently realized won't happen. I've found very little about Hop Along, Queen Ansleis other than it's primarily one Frances from Baltimore who often features her brother or friends on her records. Very cute, fun, catchy, everything I look for in a girl.
You can also hear another song by HAQA on their MySpace site, which is probably their best song of what I've heard...and yes I have it playing on my MySpace main page.

» Bonus Track: The Bonzai Tree U Bought 4 Me

The Danielson Famile - Who Are Parents

A lot of people (myself included) are excited about the upcoming Danielson album "Ships", which features Deerhoof as the backing band. But in the meantime, here's a new track from the whole Famile... well, new to me at least. It's taken from a 2002 Shaggs tribute album called "Better than the Beatles: A Tribute to the Shaggs" that was released on Animal World Recordings. The album also features Deerhoof covering the song "My Pal Foot Foot".

» Bonus Track: Deerhoof - My Pal Foot Foot
» Buy it on Amazon


Friday, December 09, 2005

Make Believe - Say What You Mean

Tim Kinsella is one of those musicians who likes to challenge his listeners. From Cap'n Jazz to Joan of Arc to Owls, he is always pushing the edge of avante-garde while (usually) remaining in the realm of listenability. His latest project Make Believe consists of 4 members of Joan of Arc, and it sounds pretty much like you'd expect. It probably bears more resemblance to Owls than Joan or Arc, but there's still plenty of weirdness... just check out his vocals on "Say What You Mean", which are mostly strange noises than actual words.

» Bonus Track: Fumio Nambata Had a Farm
» Buy it on Amazon

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Koufax - Trouble Will Find You

I'm not sure why Koufax aren't more popular than they are, but it may have something to do with the fact that they were always on the wrong record label. Their first two albums were released through Vagrant and yet their sound is anything but emo or hardcore. (Their album Social Life is probably the only Vagrant release ever to get a good review on Pitchfork.) Fans of Spoon or Elvis Costello should enjoy their piano-oriented rock vibe. Their latest release Hard Times Are In Fashion is on Doghouse Records, and both Robert and Ryan Pope formerly of the Get Up Kids are now playing in the band. At first I was a little disappointed, but I'm happy to say that this record is steadily growing on me. Check out these songs and see what you think.

» Bonus Track: Her Laughter
» Buy it on Amazon

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Caribou - The Barn

I didn't get into Dan Snaith's music until after he had been (somewhat unfairly) forced to change his name from Manitoba to Caribou. Both names to me were equally Canadian and for some reason only conjured images of desolate prairie landscapes in my mind. I had always thought he was a simple folk singer/songwriter guy. But Snaith is more appropriately described as "folktronic", instead composing most of his music through electronics and layers of sound, alternating between sweeping psychadelia, hip hop beats and ambient collages. He recently released a live DVD entitled "Marino", and it comes with 4 new songs. This is one of them. Caribou plays Hamilton and Toronto next week, tour dates are here.

» Buy it on Amazon

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

The Ladies - Empathy on a Stick

Although they may seem like an unlikely pairing, Pinback frontman Rob Crow and experimental drummer extraordinaire Zach Hill have collaborated before. Crow was a guest vocalist on the Team Sleep album that Hill drummed for, and also a member of Hill's solo band the Holy Smokes. Their latest upcoming project is a two-piece outfit called The Ladies, with an album coming out on Temporary Residence in February. This short track "Empathy on a Stick" is our only indication of what to expect so far... sounds like a poppier version of Hella if you ask me. I also dug up this less interesting bonus track from a Rob Crow fan site... it seems to be an unmastered demo of some sort and more closely resembles a Team Sleep outtake.

» Bonus Track: Long One

Jamie Lidell - Multiply (In a Minor Key) [Gonzales Remix]

Earlier this year Jamie Lidell put out his most recent full length, Multiply, and it was brimming to the top, overflowing really, with a super raw soulfulness and some of his most beautiful work to date. A little over a month ago, the Multiply - EP came out, featuring the radio edit and remixes of the LP's title track. And they're alright... but man, this Gonzales remix? Got "put this on rpt" written all over it.

» Buy it on Amazon

Monday, December 05, 2005

General Patton vs. the X-Ecutioners - !Get Up, Punk! 0200 Hrs. (Joint Special Operations Task Force)

Mike Patton (Faith No More, Fantomas, Mr. Bungle, Tomahawk etc) joined up with famed turntablists the X-Ecutuioners earlier this year to create a number of military/world domination themed tracks. "Get Up Punk"'s bouncy beat and half-rap style reminds me of Patton's earlier days with FNM, and is pretty much the only track that you could pass as a song, with the rest of the album being more experimental.

» Buy it on Amazon

Ghostface Killah & Trife da God - Cocaine Trafficking

The Ghost/Trife album "Put It On The Line" came out a week or something ago. Oddly, haven't really heard that much talk about it. Don't know why, cause these guys are on point. But what else is new? Here's a couple tracks to make up for the lack of noise.

» Bonus Track: Fire
» Buy it on Amazon

The Strokes - Razorblade

On their upcoming album First Impressions of Earth, The Strokes finally shake some of that "we're too cool to seriously rock out" vibe. Songs like the first single "Juicebox" are more aggressive and off the handle than I ever would have expected from them. I can almost hear Mr. Casablancas straining his vocal chords a little while singing -- maybe even breaking a sweat. Still, I kind of dig the songs on the album where they stay all aloof. Which is not to say that "Razorblade" doesn't rock, only that it's classic Strokes.

» Pre-order it on Amazon

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Headlights - Everybody Needs A Fence To Lean On

Chian just reminded me about Headlights the other day; they recently signed to Polyvinyl and put out a 4 song EP called The Enemies. I remember not really taking an interest in them the first time I heard them, but after having another listen I've changed my mind. This is just beautiful indie pop with just the slightest hint of melancholy... fans of Stars apply within.

» Bonus Track: Tokyo
» Buy it on Amazon

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Blockhead - Expiration Date

While I'm still unsure whether Blockhead is a reference to good ol' Charlie Brown, I will admit that this album got me offguard. It's been out for a bit and I've heard very little about it. Blockhead is a relatively new member to Ninja Tune, but he's developed some cred thanks to his work with Aesop Rock and other Def Jux affiliates. The music isn't really hip-hop and not really downtempo, it's somewhere between Boards of Canada and Boom Bip. He makes an interesting use of samples, even if they don't always work. Think of it as chill out music to nod your head to.

» Bonus Track: Cherry Picker
» Buy it on Amazon

Friday, December 02, 2005

Beck - Emergency Exit (Th' Corn Gangg Remix)

Beck's upcoming remix album "Guerolito" follows the same format as Bloc Party's "Silent Alarm Remixed" in that it presents all the songs in the exact same order as the original album. Many of the usual suspects are involved (Diplo, Boards of Canada, 8-Bit), but I think the thing I was most surprised about was the fact that former members of Montreal's The Unicorns appear not once but twice on the album. How both Islands (their new band) and Th' Corn Gangg (their hip-hop side project) managed to get on here without having any official releases of their own is beyond me... but I'm thankful for it. Guerolito hits stores on Dec. 13th.

Battles - B + T

Battles are a band that any music nerd should get excited about just by hearing a list of the groups that its members were formerly (or still are) a part of. Don Caballero, Storm & Stress, Helmet, Tomahawk, Prefuse 73... You can well imagine that a band of this pedigree is going to be technical, experimental and interesting as hell. They've released 3 EPs so far on 3 different labels, and have just signed to Warp Records. Warp is planning to release a CD in Europe next February compiling all these EPs into one release, followed by a full-length later in the year. I am so there.

» Bonus Track: Dance

Chromeo - Needy Girl (Bloc Party Remix)

Canada is truly a wonderful and magical place. And while everyone knows what kind of slamming music comes out of our great cities here, I don't think anyone saw it coming when Montreal's Chromeo came on the scene with their hella funky dance attack. Their debut album, She's In Control, is waaaay too hot, and a must hear if you haven't heard already. And if you have, here are some remixes til they put out some new material. They also just put out a wicked "crack-funk" mix, Un Joli Mix Pour Toi, which you should check out. So far it's only got a European release, but you can d/l it for free at their site.

» Bonus Track: Needy Girl (Paper Faces Remix)
» Bonus Track: Needy Girl (Zdar Dub Mix)
» Bonus Track: Me & My Man (The Juan Maclean Remix)

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Tricky Woo - Born In The City

Montreal's Tricky Woo used to be one of the hardest rocking bands in Canada back when they released their album "Sometimes I Cry" on Sonic Unyon Records. Then they went ahead and got all psychadelic and released the album "Les Sables Magiques" (The Magic Sands) where they kind of lost me (and a few other people too). I'm happy to report that Tricky Woo are back to their hard-hitting selves with a new album on Last Gang Records entitled "First Blush". Check out these two new tracks, currently available on their website.

» Bonus Track: First Blush

The Spinto Band - Oh Mandy

One of the finest songs I've heard all year is "Oh Mandy" by the Spinto Band. The first time I heard it I thought it was just okay, but it has growed on me so much its one of those songs I just start humming out of habit. Reminding of Pavement and the Flaming Lips, the Spinto Band are one of those blogger dream bands, and a cute little story about their genesis says that the songs were written on the back of a Cracker Jack box by one of the band members grandfather. I don't know if that's true, but I like it. They even incorporated 'cracker box' into their website address.