Sunday, December 31, 2006

Sean's Top 10 Albums of 2006

I wasn't feeling particularly inspired to compile a top 10 list for music this year, mainly because I didn't feel like there were a lot of albums that really stood out for me. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that I have indeed enjoyed a fair amount of music in 2006, and I just couldn't let it slide.

Like a lot of music bloggers, I probably fell victim to that all too common habit of too much downloading, not enough serious listening. Still, despite the large number of albums that I sampled this year, there were still a bunch that were memorable enough to receive plenty of repeat listens.

10. The Prototypes - s/t (Minty Fresh)
This French band just barely edged out my many other honourable mentions to make the #10 spot on my list. I had heard a lot of people raving about them earlier in the year, but didn't get around to checking them out until a few weeks ago. Very groovy and fun electro-clash stuff, and if you can accept a Karen O lookalike singing in French, it's highly addictive!
» MP3: Danse Sur La Merde
» Buy it on Amazon

9. Danielson - Ships (Secretly Canadian)
If it wasn't for Daniel Smith's unique child-like falsetto voice, the Danielson Famile would probably be indie rock superstars by now, merely through virtue of their close association with Sufjan Stevens. However, without Smith's voice, the band would not be nearly as charming. Ships could well be the Family's most accessible group of songs yet, which is to say they still aren't for everyone but they have definitely hit their creative stride.
» MP3: Two Sitting Ducks
» Buy it on Amazon

8. The Pipettes - We Are The Pipettes (Memphis Industries)
If pure pop perfection is your poison, then The Pipettes are precisely what your personal pleasure center prefers! Ultimately there's nothing groundbreaking here, but this female trio (and their male backing band) from Brighton, England, are reviving that 50's/60's doo-wop sound in a truly delightful way.
» MP3: It Hurts To See You Dance So Well
» Buy it on Amazon

7. The Strokes - First Impressions of Earth (RCA)
I guess I'm a bit late to the party when it comes to The Strokes but I actually find myself becoming more of a fan with each new album they release. First Impressions of Earth (released all the way back on January 3rd of this year) is a bit more unbridled than anything they've done before, but mostly it just has some sweet rock guitar riffs and great hooks, inspiring me to return to this record again and again throughout the year.
» MP3: Electricityscape
» Buy it on Amazon

6. The Meligrove Band - Planets Conspire (V2)
This Toronto-area band have been part of the Canadian indie rock scene for years, and at the time I wasn't even aware that they were still together. Planets Conspire was the biggest surprise of the year for me, not just because I didn't know it coming out, but also because I didn't expect it to be so lush and accomplished. This is some of the best piano-driven rock I've heard in a long time, somewhere along the lines of Ben Folds and Koufax.
» MP3: Planets Conspire
» Buy it on Amazon

5. Headlights - Kill Them With Kindness (Polyvinyl)
Fans of Stars and Mates of State will probably find something wonderful in the sounds of Headlights. I was a fan of their first 4 song EP, and now this full-length album is exactly what I was waiting for. A fun, jangly indie pop album with a great delicate male/female vocal combination.
» MP3: Lions
» Buy it on Amazon

4. Annuals - Be He Me (Ace Fu)
Maybe my affinity for this album is a hold over from the Arcade Fire excitement of 2004, because there are distinct similarities between this band and the Arcade Fire. But there's other stuff going on here too, it seems to be just the right mixture of Flaming Lips hippie noodling and Shins power pop. Tailor made for the hipster blogger crowd? Perhaps. But still a great album nonetheless.
» MP3: Mama
» Buy it on Amazon

3. Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Show Your Bones (Interscope)
Here's another band that I didn't pay enough attention to when they first broke into the mainstream, and now I'm playing catch up. I don't know why I didn't give Fever To Tell a closer look when it came out (I liked all of the songs I heard from it), but this time around I made sure I was on board from the start. All it took was one listen to Show Your Bones and I was hooked. Catchy as hell, but still edgy enough to be interesting.
» MP3: Phenomena
» Buy it on Amazon

2. Girl Talk - Night Ripper (Illegal Art)
Zak told me about this album, and I was curious but really didn't think it would hold my interest for long. Like all mash-up albums, it seemed like a bit of a novelty and nothing more. But Gregg Gillis has completely convinced me that the art of sampling really is something special. This album is proof that if you're talented enough, you can create something new and original that is greater than the sum of its parts (although in this case many of the parts are also amazing in their own right).
» MP3: Double Pump
» Buy it on Amazon

1. Hot Chip - The Warning (Astralwerks)
You know, this band has been getting so much love on the internet over the past year or so that I really don't need to be adding to it right now. But the fact of the matter is, this album has fascinated me all year long. The subtle electronic beats and gentle melodies always seem to be just what I'm in the mood for, regardless of where or when I'm listening to the album. Coming On Strong had some cool moments, but The Warning is where Hot Chip became a big deal to me (and apparently to a lot of others). In light of that fact, I have no choice but to name it my #1 album of 2006.
» MP3: Colours
» Buy it on Amazon

...And So Many More Honourable Mentions:

CSS - s/t
Junior Boys - So This Is Goodbye
Thunderbirds Are Now - Make History
Swan Lake - Beast Moans
The Advantage - Elf-Titled
Pilot Scott Tracy - We Cut Loose
Spank Rock - YoYoYoYoYo
The Album Leaf - Into The Blue Again
The Dears - Gang of Losers
The Raconteurs - Broken Boy Soldiers
The Hold Steady - Boys and Girls in America
Sparklehorse - Dreamt for Light Years in the Belly of a Mountain

Friday, December 22, 2006

The Apples in Stereo - Same Old Drag

I always thought The Apples in Stereo were slightly ahead of the curve when it comes to doing the whole psychadelic-pop thing, but in recent years they seem to have been surpassed by indie faves like The Shins and Of Montreal in terms of popularity. Of course, that might also be a direct result of the fact that The Apples haven't released an album in almost 5 years. This February they will release New Magnetic Wonder, their 6th LP and first independent of spinART Records, which should be just what they need to put them back on the indie rock map.

The album will mark the first release for Simian Records, a new label launched by Elijah Wood. In terms of style, the album sounds pretty much like you'd expect it to, although there seems to be an extra dash of vocoder and other vintage sounds in the mix. I definitely think it's going to attract a lot of people who were into the last couple of Flaming Lips albums -- whether or not that was an intentional target audience remains to be seen. Either way, I am digging this album a lot. It's poppy and sugary sweet, but it just might be the best thing I've ever heard from them. New Magnetic Wonder hits stores on February 7, 2007.

» Bonus Track: Beautiful Machine Parts 1-2
» Pre-order it on Amazon

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Explosions In The Sky - Catastrophe and the Cure

I'll never forget the time I saw Explosions In The Sky open for ...And You Will Know Us By The Trail of Dead in Hamilton, where they completely obliterated the crowd (figuratively speaking, of course) and stole the thunder from the headliners that night. I know instrumental music is pretty uninteresting for a good majority of the population, but I dare you to see these guys play live and not come away a changed person. The ebb and flow of their songs, and the intensity with which they play is an experience you'll always remember.

I guess it goes without saying that when Explosions In The Sky release a new album it seems like a pretty exciting event to me. They don't churn out a ton of new songs (usually 6 per album... quality over quantity), making you want to cherish each individual track from beginning to end. That said, the 6 songs on All Of A Sudden I Miss Everyone haven't completely blown me away so far. At first listen, the songs from their Travels In Constants EP were stronger and more interesting; this new one for me ranks at about the same level as the Friday Night Lights soundtrack. Still, I guess I have a few months for it to grow on me. All Of A Sudden I Miss Everyone is released on February 20th on Temporary Residence.

» Bonus Track: Welcome, Ghosts (MP4)

The Fucking Champs - The Legend of Zelda (Overworld Theme)

For whatever reason, I've never been particularly impressed by The Minibosses and their renditions of 8-bit NES tunes. They may have been one of the first bands to cover video game music, but their style to me always sounded like it was intended for dirtbags and headbangers. Maybe I'm not being completely fair to them, however, because there are certain Nintendo songs that do actually lend themselves quite well to metal riffage. Just take The Fucking Champs' version of The Legend of Zelda Overworld Theme for example. It's probably a bit tamer and more faithful to the original than you might expect, but the instrumentation and layering of guitar melodies are flawless. This song appears on the compilation Power Up! Mutations and Mutilations of 8-Bit Hits from Dwell Records. I'm not really familiar with any of the other bands but I'm pretty sure they're all metal acts as well. If you're a sucker for 8-bit covers like I am, you can preview more of the songs over at the album's MySpace page.

» Buy it on Amazon

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Stephin Merritt - Smile

I found this video linked over at Zoilus and thought it was too good to not repost. This is an Atlanta daily news program featuring an interview with The Magnetic Fields' Stephen Merritt as he promotes his album for the Lemony Snicket series. Hilarious.

Black Dice - Gore

I'll start off by admitting that I've never really been a big fan of Black Dice, so I'm very surprised to find myself addicted to this limited edition 12" that the band released earlier this summer. The band appears to be deliberately doing something different on this short EP. While their earlier stuff was characterized by minimalist noise, this new collection of songs heavily emphasize their more percussive beats that slowly build. Okay, so it's not that much different in structure, but these songs are really good. Trust me. This may be the closest the band has ever come to an official hit.

Bonus Track - Manoman

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Trans Am - Tesco v Sainsburys

After 2004's Liberation, Trans Am announced that they were calling it quits, and I suppose for a couple of years they did exactly that. Drummer Sebastian Thompson kept himself the most busy, launching a pair of solo projects under the names The Frequency and Publicist; he even tried to get a cable TV show off the ground called The Vegan Drummer. But it was only a matter of time before the trio re-united (at a recording school in Auckland, New Zealand of all places). This February they will return with a brand new album called Sex Change, conceived and recorded in a span of about three weeks.

Although the title seems to indicate a radical new direction for the band, I have to say that the album still maintains that distinctive Trans Am feel. There are some elements from their 2002 album TA, a throwback to 80's synth rock, while there are also plenty of hard-driving instrumentals in the vein of what they've always done. The song "4,738 Regrets", actually reminds me a bit of Broken Social Scene (although, who doesn't sound like BSS nowadays?). Bottom line here is that it's great to have Trans Am back, and they'll be out on tour again early next year.

» Bonus Track: 4,738 Regrets (link removed)
» Bonus Track: North East Rising Sun (link removed)

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Hella - The Ungratefull Dead

If there's one band that would probably never be accused of needing to progress or re-invent themselves, it is the explosive duo of Spencer Seim and Zach Hill, better known together as Hella. It will take most of us a lifetime to get our heads around the sonic whirlwind that they produce; meanwhile, they've already gone ahead and progressed to that next level by adding 3 new members to the band and dropping the 2-piece label that has stuck with them for so long.

The new Hella now includes Zach Hill's brother Josh as a second guitarist, Carson McWhirter (Spencer's bandmate from The Advantage) on bass, and a new guy named Aaron Ross on vocals. Yes, that's right, they now have a lead singer who apparently was working as a butcher before joining the band. Unfortunately, the addition of a full-time vocalist is a bit of a double-edged sword here. I like the expanded sound that the additional instruments provide, but it's the vocals I am not completely sold on. Most of the time Ross resembles a cross between Mike Patton and Les Claypool and doesn't really add much to the music. On occasion, however, I am reminded of Zach Hill's collaboration with Rob Crow (The Ladies), or in the case of this song "The Ungratefull Dead", Ross almost sounds like Thom Yorke. Go figure. Either way, it's an interesting new twist for an incredible band that truly has no equal.

» Bonus Track: Dull Fangs
» Pre-order it on Amazon

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Gruff Rhys - Gyrru Gyrru Gyrru

The last couple of Super Furry Animals have been hit and miss for me, as was the first solo album from frontman Gruff Rhys, Yr Atal Genhedlaeth. Each had a few moments of brilliance, but the songwriting had moved in a pretty tame direction and just didn't quite grab me like their older material did. Next month Rhys will release his second solo album, Candylion, and while it doesn't incorporate as much experimentation as his last, I'm happy to say it's probably the best output we've heard from him in a while. There are still a lot of laidback psychadelic pop songs here, but these ones have hooks, and as a whole the album really flows. I'm sure SFA fans won't be disappointed. Watch the video for "Candylion" on YouTube, or listen to more songs on MySpace.

» Bonus Track: The Court of King Arthur
» Pre-order it on Amazon

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Rogue Wave - Debaser

So apparently The O.C. is having trouble in the ratings department yet again, and they've launched an online campaign to save the show. But you know, if this compilation can't save the show, then nothing can. The O.C. Mix 6: Covering Our Tracks is a veritable MP3 blogger's dream, featuring hawt indie bands covering hawt indie songs from other hawt indie bands. A lot of the renditions seem cooler on paper than they actually sound in practice, but it's hard to resist checking out some of these tracks. Rock Kills Kid covering Spoon? Lady Sovereign covering The Sex Pistols? Mates of State covering Phantom Planet (The O.C. theme song)?

I have to admit, I've never really had a problem with the use of trendy music on The O.C... it's certainly not as distracting as it is on a show like Grey's Anatomy. But if anyone else has caught re-runs of Beverly Hills 90210 on TVTropolis lately, you'll realize just how uncool it's going to seem in 10 or 15 years. I guess what I'm saying is, enjoy these songs now, before the novelty wears off!

» Bonus Track: Lady Sovereign - Pretty Vacant
» Bonus Track: Pinback - Wasted
» Buy it on Amazon

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Ronnie Johns Half-Hour

I've never heard of Ronnie Johns and have no idea what this show is. But two words emerge: Instant Classic.

Spank Rock - Lindsay Lohan

Finally the song we've all been expecting. I'm actually pretty surprised that Spank Rock waited this long to release a song about L-Lo before now; the two seem like they were born to go together. Of course, the pussy-obsessed Spank Rock focus almost exclusively on Lohan's lip slips (the chorus is "take your panties off, show your baby rat/oh shit, I remember that cheese"). God bless them for simply saying what we're all thinking, but with the standard amazing beats.

I've also included an amazing sped up remix of "Put That Pussy On Me" by XXXChange that is completely unrecognizable.

Bonus Track - Speeditupussy(XXXChange Exclusivo)

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Baby Eagle - Redpath Sugar Factory

As a general rule, I don't usually go for much of the singer/songwriter-y type stuff. I don't know that I've got a very good reason why, except to say that there are few musicians whom I find compelling enough to listen to when they are armed with nothing more than an acoustic guitar. When it comes to the members of The Constantines, however, I'm afraid I'm all ears no matter how simplistic the music becomes. The band's maturing process has been one of gradually stripping away layers of noise and feedback, to the point where now they have spawned a pair of folky solo projects, recently released via Outside Music.

Baby Eagle is the code name for Steve Lambke's project, and while he doesn't have the gravelly voice of Bry Webb, he manages to emanate that same world-weariness, while also resembling a slightly less rambunctious Daniel Smith (aka Brother Danielson). There's a lot of mellow stuff on this album, especially along the lines of Constantines songs like "Windy Road", but there's a heartfelt vibe throughout the whole thing that I kinda dig. If you like this, you should also check out Will Kidman's solo project Woolly Leaves.

» Bonus Track: Let Wander Your Restless Heart
» Buy it from Outside Music

Thom Yorke - Harrowdown Hill (Extended Mix)

Earlier this year when Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke unleashed his solo album The Eraser on the world, the MP3 blogosphere lit up like the fourth of July. People just couldn't stop gushing about it, although I have to wonder in retrospect if everyone posted about it before they even bothered listening to the damn thing, because I haven't heard much about it since then.

Slowly I've come to appreciate the album, even though it's not quite as organic as his stuff with Radiohead tends to be. I have to be in the right frame of mind, but every now and then it really clicks for me. A couple of weeks ago Yorke also released a Japanese EP called Spitting Feathers, featuring 4 new b-sides and an extended version of "Harrowdown Hill". Despite what you might think, the b-sides aren't throwaway tracks either, and fit nicely with the rest of the album. Anyway, now it seems that Yorke has turned his attention back to being in the studio with the rest of the band. For the latest updates check out their official blog, Dead Air Space.

» Bonus Track: A Rat's Nest
» Buy it on Amazon

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Brats on the Beat (feat. Greg Attonito of the Bouncing Souls) - Do You Remember Rock N Roll Radio

In the tradition of such candy-coated cover bands as The Mini Pops, Kidz Bop, and the recent Devo re-incarnation Dev2.0, comes Brats on the Beat, a cover album featuring Ramones songs that have been "kiddified". What does that mean? Well, it basically involves playing the original songs note for note, but with the addition of a group of kids singing along to the chorus! In an attempt to maintain some credibility, Go Kart Records recruited a number of real "authentic" punk rockers to take up lead vocals on these songs, including Jim Lindberg of Pennywise, Jack Grisham of TSOL, and Matt Skiba of Alkaline Trio.

Putting aside my initial cynicism about this project, I have to admit that, although gimmicky, the album is pretty infectious, and proves that the Ramones really are fun for kids of all ages. That said, I'm still a little disappointed about the absence of "Now I Wanna Sniff Some Glue", not to mention the album's titular track. I guess those songs are for Mommy and Daddy's ears only.

» Bonus Track: California Sun (feat. Brett Anderson of The Donnas)
» Bonus Track: Sheena is a Punk Rocker (feat. Josie Cotton)
» Buy it on Amazon

Black Moth Super Rainbow + The Octopus Project - Tony Face

I discovered both Black Moth Super Rainbow and The Octopus Project earlier this year on completely separate occasions. Black Moth Super Rainbow intrigued me with their demented synth sounds and infatuation with vocoders, while The Octopus Project knocked me on my ass through their mechanical instrumentals in the vein of Trans Am and Turing Machine. You can imagine my surprise when these two seemingly unconnected bands decided to team up and record a bunch of songs together, resulting in a little something called The House of Apples and Eyeballs. This collaboration is certainly one of the most unique things I've heard all year, and while I was a bit disappointed that some of the tracks are short throwaway sound bites, there's still some great robotic melodies to be heard.

You can check out 3 other MP3s on The Octopus Project website, or listen to clips from the entire album courtesy of Graveface Records.

» Bonus Track: All The Friends You Can Eat
»
Bonus Track: Black Moth Super Rainbow - Drippy Eye (The Octopus Project Remix)
» Buy it on Amazon

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Daniel Smith & Sufjan Stevens - Worried Shoes

I have to admit, I'm not too familiar with Daniel Johnston's body of work, but I know that a lot of people love his music, and there have already been a handful of tribute albums released with various well-known artists covering his songs. The latest is called I Killed The Monster: 21 Artists Performing The Songs of Daniel Johnston, released on Second Shimmy. Among the track listing is this beautiful collaboration between Daniel Smith (aka Brother Danielson) and Sufjan Stevens performing "Worried Shoes". I didn't recognize too many of the other contributors aside from Mike Watt and Jad Fair, but instead I have included a few bonus tracks from another Daniel Johnston tribute album called The Late Great Daniel Johnston: Discovered Covered.

» Bonus Track: TV On The Radio - Walking The Cow
» Bonus Track: Sparklehorse & Flaming Lips - Go
» Buy it on Amazon

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

MIA - XR2 (Diplo Turbo Remix)

We've been getting a few requests to repost MIA's "XR2" that we posted a little while ago. A lesser man would have reposted the track and left it at that. But I'll go one extra step and I'll post the necessary Diplo remix. You gotta know that a track is hawt if Diplo decides to remix it, but you also gotta know that the remix is gonna tear the ass out of the orig. I've provided MIA's version below to compare, but both are simply amazing and I can't decide which I like more. I think it's a testament to both artists as each is able to create something completely different from the same track. I've also included Diplo's stellar remix of Hot Chip's "Over and Over" below.

Bonus Track - MIA - XR2
Bonus Track - Hot Chip - Shake it Over and Over

Timbaland feat. Nelly Furtado, Justin Timberlake - Give it to Me

Just when you were starting to forget about Timbaland, (who even remembers "Promiscuous Girl" btw ?) he makes a triumphant return with guest appearances by his proteges Nelly and JT. Is it any good? By now I'm sure you know that Timbo don't release any sub-par work. He definitely seems to be on creative peak right now and it's definitely the perfect time to make his solo album. I expect that this song is going to be the next in a long line of dance club hits we can expect from Timbaland. The Thomas Crown Affair is scheduled to be released sometime in early 2007 with some guest appearances by others such as Missy, and MIA. It's definitely shaping up to be an early hit. Anyone got the leak?

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Muzak For Cybernetics Mixtape #6

Hey, no joke... it's the Muzak For Cybernetics Mixtape #6! Obviously the podcast is a fair bit later than we had hoped but it's also a little longer than usual so hopefully that makes up for the delay. This time around I decided to go it alone, which means less talking and more rocking... or something like that. (And before anyone mentions it, we're still having some occasional skipping problems when recording our podcasts. I don't know why. I'm working on it.)



Playlist:

Spoozys - Hummer
Deerhoof - Gore In Rut
The Spinto Band - Japan is an Island
+/- - Steal The Blueprints
Art Brut - The Great Escape
Sloan - HFXNSHC
The Hold Steady - Party Pit
The Tragically Hip - In View
Peaches - Boys Wanna Be Her (Flaming Lips remix)
Q And Not U - People Wonder (President remix)
James Figurine - Leftovers
Jurassic 5 - Canto de Ossanha
Oh No - Oh Zone
Mike The 2600 King - Castlevania P
Pavement - Heckler Spray/In The Mouth of a Desert (Live)
Whirlwind Heat - The Sun is Round
Peter Bjorn and John - Amsterdam
Page France - Chariot
The Telepathic Butterflies - Bohemie
The Shins - Australia

Tahiti 80 - Here Comes

Tahiti 80's debut album Puzzle was one of the hidden gems of 2000, an interesting mix of French electro and fuzzy Brit pop sensibilities. This month their third full-length album Fosbury finally hits stateside, after being released in Europe and Japan sometime last year. The Tahiti 80 formula hasn't changed too much, although there doesn't seem to be as much guitar this time around -- something they may be rectifying with a couple of exclusive U.S. bonus tracks. Some of the songs evoke electronic bands like Air and Stereolab, while others have more of a soul/R&B feel. Check out the video for one of the U.S. exclusives below.

» Bonus Track: Matter of Time
» YouTube: Chinatown (U.S. exclusive)
» Pre-order it on Amazon

Foo Fighters - Marigold (Live)

I know it's pretty uncool nowadays to say you like the Foo Fighters (maybe it always was), and I have to admit, their last few albums really haven't done much for me. When I saw that they put out an acoustic live album this month it seemed like one of those typical holiday season cash grabs, and I didn't give it another thought. But then something in the track listing caught my eye and gave me enough reason to at least seek out an MP3: a cover of the Nirvana song "Marigold". This was actually the only Nirvana song ever recorded that Dave Grohl sang lead vocals and played guitar on; it was originally released as a b-side to the "Heart-Shaped Box" single. As it turns out, the Foos' live rendition of the song doesn't really add much to it but I thought someone else out there might be curious to hear it too.

» Bonus Track: Nirvana - Marigold
» Buy it on Amazon

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Malajube - Pate Filo

A few weeks ago, I saw Islands play in concert. One of opening bands was supposed to be this mysterious French pop-rock band, Malajube. Even in the tiny, icy realms of Canada, Malajube is still a relatively unknown band. It is surprising to note that they were nominated for the famous Polaris award since, comparatively speaking, they received much less attention than the other nominees. However, the point of the story is that Malajube didn't play that night; I'm not sure why not. BUT, they should have, because their album blows Islands' out of the water (pun intended). This is a brilliant pop album. Sure, no one has any idea what they're singing about (and I don't know how put the proper accents on the song titles), but the lyrics aren't important. They are incredibly adept at making poppy rock and, in the language of music, that's all that matters.

Bonus Track - La Crabe
Bonus Track - Montreal - 40C

the Creeping Nobodies - Heatseek

One of my biggest pet peeves about running an incredibly successful music blog is that I don't ahve the time to fully appreciate albums as much as I used to. I'm always trying to break the next Tapes 'n' Tapes that I often don't spend much time sitting down and giving albums the time they need to fully enjoy them. And it's a shame, because there are so many albums I've got recently that I haven't really absorbed. For example, I got this Creeping Nobodies album over a month ago and I just finally got around to giving it a listen last week. Since then, it's been the only thing I've really been listening to, and it's quickly becoming one of my favourites of the year. The Creeping Nobodies are able to amazingly channel the post-punk sound of the early 80s without any of that bullshit disco your used to. No, think more like Swell Maps (Rest in Peace), or Pere Ubu (Rest in Pea..- no wait, they're still around). The Creeping Nobodies sound more like anti-pop; they're aggresive, as arty as hell, and brilliant. You need this album, even just for the nine-minute "Sense of Belonging."

Bonus Track - The Sound of Joy
Bonus Track - Treachery

Friday, November 03, 2006

Field Music - Off & On

Field Music have just released a new single as a teaser for their sophomore album Tones of Town (due out in January). This British trio continues to write upbeat pop songs that put us through a kaleidoscope of 60's and 70's rock influences including The Beach Boys, The Who and Wire, but always in interesting and unpredictable ways. "Off & On" is the b-side to "In Context", which will appear on the upcoming album; in this case I actually think I prefer the b-side. Featuring ex-members of Maximo Park and The Futureheads, Field Music have not achieved the same level of success as their forebearers, but they may actually be the best songwriters of the bunch.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Cornelius - Wataridori

While electronica music has exploded in recent years, Cornelius has seemed to be oddly absent from much of its popularity, which is surprisingly since he was one of the first to make electronica poppy. Even now, his new album has fallen somewhat under the radar. The album was recently released overseas, and no one's even talking about it over here yet. What gives guys? Stop crying about EZArchive and start posting! (you too Sean!). His new album Sensuous may, in fact, be his most poppy and accessible album to date. In fact, it may be my favourite so far, and could be a late edition to my album of the year (so long JT!). It was difficult selecting some songs to post since there are so many stand-out tracks, and some are simply amazing. Get on them before you don't!

Bonus Track - Gum

Devandra Banhart - White Reggae Troll

When I first bought Banhart's latest CD, I placed the disc in my computer, and suddenly this amazing song started playing. The song, "White Reggae Troll," is actually a bonus track on the album that only plays when the CD is in the computer. But who listens to CDs anyways? Doesn't everyone upload their music and then stash them away. We all know they belong in mint condition, unused, untouched, placed securely on a CD tower in alphabetical order for a potential mate to appreciate.
Anywho, I managed to finally find an mp3 of this song. It turns out that the vinyl release comes with a whole bonus record, including this song. Though the song starts off a bit slow, it really hits it stride at the three minute mark, with a huge african drum beat, and the typically odd lyrics "Africa, we all came for ya!"

Cacoy- Mural of Music

I'll admit that every so often I completely miss out on a huge band (I just got 'into' Broken Social Scene half an hour ago). But there's no excuse for not hearing of Cacoy, except that it wasn't released in North America until recently. The album was actually originally released in Japan way back in 2003. The best comparison I can make to other bands that start with the letter 'C' are Cornelius or Caribou, who use cut up beats and samples, mixed with a bit a hip-hop and electronica. Cacoy definitely emphasizes the more downtempo styles of electronica, but showcases and incredible ability to build songs out of nothing. "Mural of Music" begins with little more than some cut-up beats before climaxing at a soothing, monumental chorus. The album is full of songs like this that begin quietly, and play more like background music, and then build and build until you can't concentrate on anything but the music. Definitely a must have.
Hey, isn't it about time they put out another album?

Bonus Track - Piracle Pa

The Tragically Hip - In View

What's this? I don't post anything for two weeks, and I mark my return by posting a new Tragically Hip track? No, but...wait. What if I told you that it's actually really good. I mean seriously. At times I've thought I was the only one in my small Canadian town that didn't like the Hip, and I know I'm jumping on their bandwagon. No, but...seriously. I swear Gord Downie has been listening to some indie rock. I posted the video so you can get a taste of it, even if you doubt me. Too bad there's all the interruptions in the video.

Video: Deerhoof's Milk Man Ballet - "Milking"



Pitchfork posted last week about an awesome art performance that was recently put on by the North Haven Community School in North Haven, Maine. Students from elementary, middle, and high school developed a dance routine based on Deerhoof's album Milk Man! The school drama teacher Courtney Naliboff and choreographer Ken Jones collaborated with the band to adapt music for the project, but the music and dancing are actually performed live by the students themselves. (Deerhoof were actually in attendance, however.) Man, why didn't I ever have cool teachers like this in school?

Videos from the Milk Man Ballet are now up on YouTube and it's quite a sight to behold. Here are direct links to more of the songs:

Dream Wander's True
That Big Orange Sun Run
New Sneakers
C
Rainbow Silhouette

Monday, October 30, 2006

Excuses For Lack of Updates

Well it looks like we picked a terrible time to start using EZArchive. They're in the middle of upgrading their servers and launching a new user interface, so a lot of bloggers have been left out in the cold over the past few weeks with nowhere to host their MP3s. Zak has had a few new posts in the queue for a while now, and I've got a couple on the way so we'll have to try and find a temporary file hosting solution until EZArchive gets their shit together. Sorry about that.

New podcast coming this week too hopefully.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

The Flaming Lips - Free Radicals (Simlish Version)

When I first heard that The Flaming Lips were going to be on the soundtrack for EA's The Sims 2 Pets Expansion Pack, I didn't give it much thought. It seems like every game developer is looking at their game soundtracks in the same way as movie soundtracks -- ie. just another piece of the marketing pie. But then I read that the artists on this soundtrack actually re-recorded the songs with the lyrics in "Simlish" (ie. the in-game gibberish that the characters use). Now that sounded like something worth tracking down! It took a bit of work to extract the music from the data files on the CD, but voila... here are songs from both The Flaming Lips and The New Amsterdams. The disappointing thing is that the 2 Hot Chip tunes are only available on console versions of the game. Anyone feel like hacking their X-Box? As a bonus I threw in a link to The Sims 2 Theme (written by Mark Mothersbaugh).

» The New Amsterdams - Turn Out The Light (Simlish Version)
» Mark Mothersbaugh - The Sims 2 Theme
» Buy The Sims 2 Pets on Amazon

Friday, October 20, 2006

Bow Wow Wow - Fools Rush In (Kevin Shields Remix)

Sofia Coppola's soundtrack for Lost In Translation was one of my favourite soundtracks in recent years. It managed to assemble the perfect mix of melancholy pop songs and lush instrumentals, anchored by a handful of original compositions by ex-My Bloody Valentine frontman Kevin Shields. Not only are the songs great individually, but together they completely capture the mood of the film.

Coppola's newest movie Marie-Antoinette opens this weekend, and the soundtrack looks to be another great collection. This time around there is a new wave theme, with songs by bands like New Order, The Cure and Siouxsie & The Banshees. However, it still has a lot of familiar contributors including Air, Squarepusher, and Kevin Shields (remixing a couple of Bow Wow Wow songs). Perhaps the biggest highlight, however, are the 3 songs from Swedish indie band The Radio Dept. (who just happen to sound a heck of a lot like My Bloody Valentine).

» Bonus Track: The Radio Dept. - Pulling Our Weight
» Bonus Track: Squarepusher - Tommib Help Buss
» Buy it on Amazon

...And You Will Know Us By The Trail of Dead - Eight Day Hell

Next month ...And You Will Know Us By The Trail of Dead will release their 5th full length album So Divided. The sound is definitely a bit of a departure for these Texas noisemakers who were known once upon a time for self-destructing at the end of each show. But I guess that expectation probably gets old pretty quickly, and now they've moved on and conjured up something much less bombastic.

In retrospect, I think it's fair to say these guys were pretty overhyped once upon a time (Pitchfork awarded Source Tags & Codes a 9.7 I believe), but now they're kind of free to do whatever the hell they want. In many cases it barely even sounds like the same band. Take this song "Eight Days Hell" for instance, with its rollicking piano and group vocals... it borders on Polyphonic Spree territory. The album didn't really grab me overall, but I give them props for at least trying something new. So Divided hits stores on November 14th.

» Bonus Track: Life
» Pre-order it on Amazon

Monday, October 16, 2006

Beck - This Girl That I Know

I am enjoying Beck's latest album The Information, if for no other reason then because it comes with a booklet of stickers to create your own customized album artwork. Now there's a reason to buy the actual CD instead of just downloading it, right? The music mainly carries along in the same direction as Guero in my opinion, which is to say it brings back the junkyard pastiche of rap and funk that made Mellow Gold and Odelay so catchy. I was a little disappointed though, that there wasn't much of the Midnite Vultures-era Beck to be found. It turns out at least one such song made it onto the U.K. release of the album as a bonus track, however. It's too bad they weren't included as part of the standard release, as these extra songs actually make up for some of the uninteresting tracks on the rest of the album.

» Bonus Track: Inside Out
» Buy the UK Import of The Information on Amazon

Thursday, October 12, 2006

MIA - XR2

If it wasn't already official that MIA had blown up, last night's episode of America's Next Top Model solidified it when they played an instrumental song in the background that was an obvious rip-off of an MIA track. Not only is ANTM on the cutting edge of fashion, but they are also famous for ripping off only the world's hottest tracks. Of course, she's not only HOT! she's also HAWT! This track comes from her upcoming album supposedly being released later this year. At one point Timbaland was supposed to produce a couple tracks, but the newest rumor is that the album will be entirely produced by Maya herself. Vain? Maybe. But I'm definitely digging this new track.

Rogue Wave - Eyes

Some time ago I was watching the instant classic hit Just Friends with my mom, and this one song that kept appearing throughout that sounded like Rogue Wave, though I didn't recognize it from either of their full-length albums. I had forgot about the song for a while, until last week as I was watching the season premiere of Heroes and heard the song again. I don't want to join in the debate of whether or not pop songs should be used in superhero films or television shows, but the point is that this song is awesome. It's a short acoustic number more reminiscent of their first album Out of the Shadow but it actually appears as a bonus track for the single "Publish My Love" from their more recent Descended Like Vultures album.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Muzak For Cybernetics Mixtape #5

Welcome to the fifth Muzak For Cybernetics podcast! Thanks for all your e-mails... we're trying to record the Mixtape more often but there always seems to be stuff that gets in the way. (You know, work and life and other unimportant crap like that.) We're also introducing some non-music related banter to the mix... you may find it boring, but we consider it educational.



Playlist:

Pilot Scott Tracy - Woo
David Bowie - The Width of a Circle
Daniel Johnston - Held The Hand
Built To Spill - Some Things Last A Long Time
Ben Folds - Such Great Heights
Beck - Dark Star (TV On The Radio Remix)
Field Music - In Context
The Bicycles - Longjohns and Toques
The Curtains - Green Water
The Changes - When I Wake
Malajube - Montreal -40C
Darkel - My Own Sun
Cold War Kids - Hospital Beds
Akron/Family - One Spring Morning

Sunday, October 08, 2006

The Curtains - The Thousandth Face

Now that guitarist Chris Cohen has officially parted ways with Deerhoof, he is concentrating full time on his other band The Curtains. I didn't realize this, but he was actually doing The Curtains back before he even joined Deerhoof (around the Reveille-era), and the new album Calamity will be his 4th under that moniker. Being that this is my first exposure to Cohen's solo material, I can't compare the sound to previous albums, but I can tell you that it contains many elements that will be familiar to Deerhoof fans. The one thing that did surprise me, however, was just how gentle and laidback most of the songs were. I kept waiting for him to explode into a frenzy of Deerhoof-esque noise, but that moment never comes. Instead we are left with a collection of quiet pop songs built on slightly twisted melodies, some of which seem a bit forgettable, while others will stick in your head for days. Calamity is released on Asthmatic Kitty Records on October 24th.

» Bonus Track: Fell On A Rock & Broke It
» Pre-order it on Amazon

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

The Flaming Lips - Why Does It End?

You know, I've always felt that audio DVDs were a bit of a scam. There's a section in pretty much every music store where they sell these things and I have no idea who actually buys them. Conoisseurs of music, I suppose. I certainly don't own any, but if there was one band that I would consider buying an audio DVD from, it would definitely be The Flaming Lips. Considering what they did with the album Zaireeka (released as a package of 4 CDs to be played simultaneously from 4 different sources), I know that these guys could do some cool stuff with their songs in Dolby 5.1.

As it turns out, this month The Flaming Lips will release a new deluxe edition of At War With The Mystics, remixed in 5.1 surround sound and supplemented by a number of b-sides including their cover of Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody". The DVD will also feature videos for "Mr. Ambulance Driver", "The Yeah Yeah Yeah Song", and "The W.A.N.D.", along with footage of Wayne Coyne's commencement speech from his high school graduation, if you can believe it. It does sound like a worthy re-issue if ever there was one. "Why Does It End?" is another b-side that will be included (it originally appeared on the single for "The Yeah Yeah Yeah Song"). Look for this expanded edition in stores on Oct. 24th.

» Pre-order it on Amazon

Friday, September 29, 2006

Swan Lake - The Freedom

I can pretty much write anything about this album and people will pretty much eat it up. I know everyone wants to hear the album, especially because of the secrecy which has surrounded it so far. You've no doubt heard all the big name Canucks attached to this product: Dan Bejar, Spencer Krug, Casey Mercer. As you can imagine when three incredibly talented artists come together, they are going to create art. While the album does carry much of the same feeling as their other bands (these two songs definitely reflect Bejar's writing skills) the album isn't as accessible as I'm sure everyone's expecting it to be. Much of it is difficult, much of it is brilliant, but you need to hear it regardless. Give in to your desires and take a listen!

Bonus Track - Widow's Walk