Friday, June 30, 2006

Peaches - Downtown

With a title like Impeach My Bush and Peaches track record, one has to wonder if Peaches pumped out a spontaneously written, unproduced work like Neil Young's Living With War. Surprisingly, Peaches has gone the exact opposite route. While the album doesn't differentiate much from the minimalist-drumbeats-with-explicitly-sexual-lyrics formula, Impeach My Bush features far better production than her previous work. "You Love It" was produced by Greg Kurstin who worked on Gwen Stefani's album and several songs on Lily Allen's upcoming album. "Downtown" could very well be the most accessible song I've ever heard Peaches do. What's shocking about this album is how enjoyable it is without deliberately trying to offend you. I would hardly say that Peaches is trying to receive mainstream popularity, but I'm definitely glad that she's reinvested in creating original dance music.

Bonus Track - Hit it Hard

the Two Koreas - Cannish Boy

While the indie music world seems to be going mainstream (*cough *cough Nelly Furtado *cough) the Two Koreas come by, only to remind you of what indie music used to be. Their terribly under-recognized debut album Main Plates & Classic Pies was independently released in 2004 and is only available through Maplemusic. If this doesn't speak to their phenomenal street cred, the band also features two professional music critics. So you can expect music pretention of British proportions (but the band is Canadian (fucking Wankers!)). Even the band's name comes from the name of an obscure country that was divided into Northern and Southern regions over fifty years ago. Yet, what I enjoy most about the Two Koreas is that they gladly wear their influences on their sleeves. "Cannish Boy" sounds quite similar to Can, and the song "A Neu Ing" sounds similar to Neu! Add in some of Mark E. Smith's attitude and you have the feel of the Two Koreas.

Bonus Track - 54 is the New 27
Bonus Track - A Neu Ing

David Bazan - How I Remember

Bazan, the man behind such bands as Pedro the Lion and Headphones, has officially retired the PTL moniker with his latest release, even though the band has always been his sole project. In typical Bazanian brashness, the song "Fewer Broken Pieces" addresses his new solo venture, saying that he had to fire some band members who weren't holding up their end. His new Fewer Moving Parts EP (which features artwork by Zak Sally from the band Low) has five songs, but includes two versions of each: a stripped-down acoustic version and a full-band version. The different sounds emcompass all of Bazan's work over the years, from his 4-track recording days, to his full-band mid-career sound, to the electronic splash of Headphones. Despite being only an EP this new album features some of Bazan's best work. It's been a while since he was so angry, seething, and gritty. Bazan saves much of his bile on the track below, which Bazan has said is about Ryan Schreiber of Pitchfork. While I was a little put off by this information, Bazan has a way of making the song more about himself, about his faith, and his desire to be accepted more than it is about Schreiber, again proving why Bazan is one of the best lyricists out there.

Making It, Breaking It, Faking It

Thursday, June 29, 2006

The Rapture - WAYUH (link removed)

After a whole year or so of being touted as the "next big thing", NYC's post-punk-dance outfit The Rapture wisely decided to go into hiding for a while so they could let things cool off. In fact, they almost seemed to drop off the planet, save for a couple of remixes and a live DVD. Then a couple months ago news came that they were back in the studio, working with none other than the hippest producer in the biz right now, Danger Mouse. It got people buzzin', and it seems we will finally get our first taste of what they're cooking up in August... on the soundtrack to EA's Madden 07 videogame?? What are you kidding me? It hardly seems like an appropriate outlet for the band. I don't think the soundtrack will be released on CD either, so you'll have to buy the game just to hear it. Luckily I was able to find a demo version of the new song "WAYUH" floating around somewhere out there on the web. Not bad. Hey, at least this is one band you can't say needs more cowbell!

» Bonus Track: Supersystem - Miracle (The Rapture Remix)

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

The Go! Team - Bull in the Heather (Sonic Youth cover)

By now most people across the indie music blogosphere have probably heard The Go! Team's magnificent cover of Sonic Youth's "Bull In The Heather", which was recently posted on their MySpace page. For your listening convenience, here's an MP3 of it (I'm guessing this was just ripped from the MySpace audio stream although it still sounds pretty decent). I also thought this would also be a good opportunity to post a few songs from a Sonic Youth tribute album that Narnack Records released a couple years ago. It's called Confuse Yr Idols, and it features a lot of lesser known bands playing mostly older Sonic Youth tunes. There's some pretty weird stuff here, taking Sonic Youth in even more avante-garde directions if you can believe it, but I cheesed out and chose to post a couple of the most recognizable, poppier renditions.

» Bonus Track: Elf Power - Kotton Krown
» Bonus Track: New Granada - Eric's Trip
» Buy Confuse Yr Idols on Amazon

Les Balayeurs Du Desert - Decollage

Now before you listen to this song (assuming you haven't heard it yet), you MUST watch this video: The Little Girl Giant. What you are seeing is a live fairy-tale theatre event and parade called The Sultan's Elephant, involving a giant girl marionnette and a 42-ton mechanical elephant. It was created by French street arts group Royal de Luxe, and during performances a French prog rock band by the name of Les Balayeurs Du Desert (The Desert Sweepers) played backing music taken from their album Jules Verne Impact (the whole extravaganza is supposedly inspired by the works of Jules Verne). This song, "Decollage", is the one playing during the Little Girl Giant video, and it has a dreamy electronic sound reminiscent of fellow French bands Air or Telepopmusik. The rest of the album incorporates more world music elements, but this song kills, and the added visuals of the marionnette make it even cooler.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Helmet - Brand New

Even though their comeback was a bit disappointing, I still enjoy keeping tabs on what Page Hamilton and Helmet are up to. After 2004's Size Matters, the first new Helmet album since 1997, the band was unhappy with the support they were receiving at Interscope and decided to sign to smaller indie label Warcon Enterprises. On July 18th, Warcon will release the new album Monochrome, recorded with yet another new line-up that includes Page Hamilton, guitarist Chris Traynor, new bassist Jeremy Chatelain (former lead singer for Handsome), and new drummer Mike Jost (formerly of Seven and Adair). In interviews, Hamilton promised a return to the days of their classic album Meantime, alas, they'll never be the same without original drummer John Stanier. Monochrome features a lot of the same melodic vocals that Size Matters did, at times bordering on a nu-metal sound. "Brand New" is, however, perhaps the closest they've come to recapturing the crunchy riffage of the band's glory days.

» Bonus Track: Money Shot
» Bonus Track: Gone
» Pre-order it on Amazon

Thursday, June 22, 2006

The Futureheads - Last Time Ever

I have to admit that the new Futureheads album News & Tributes didn't initially seem to me to be on par with their self-titled debut, but it continues to grow on me with each passing day. There are a handful of quieter songs that felt like filler on first listen, but have taken some time to warm up to. I can't help but wonder if some of the b-sides from the "Skip To The End" single might have helped round out the album a bit more, had they been included. Songs like "Last Time Ever" and "Easy For Us" are not completely unhinged in terms of energy, but they are certainly great Futureheads tunes that deserve just as much attention as the songs on the LP itself.

» Bonus Track: Easy For Us
» Buy the Skip To The End single on Amazon

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Broadcast - Where Youth and Laughter Go

This August, Broadcast will release a new compilation of UK EPs and b-sides on Warp Records called The Future Crayon. In particular it collects songs from the 2003 Pendulum EP, along with the Extended Play and Extended Play Two EPs that were released back in 2000. It definitely feels like a collection of "odds n sods"; some of the tunes are meandering instrumental tracks that flaunt nifty analog synth sounds and not much else. On the other hand, there are a handful of gems here that adequately capture their dreamy 60's psych vibe and playful robotic melodies -- not to mention a few strange but pleasant departures from that sound. In the end I'm still reminded of Stereolab, but in no way is that a bad thing.

» Bonus Track: Still Feels Like Tears
» Bonus Track: DDL
» Buy Pendulum on Amazon

Mr. Loco - Real Religious Man (from Nacho Libre)

So I saw Nacho Libre on the weekend, and I have to admit I was disappointed with it. (I won't get into specifics... you can read the review here.) The one thing I will say is that the music was quite enjoyable and helped paint a picture of this surreal world where Jack Black is conflicted between his love for Mexican wrestling and his devout faith. Beck and Danny Elfman both composed music individually for the film's score, and in the end director Jared Hess used bits and pieces of both, much to their chagrin. There is one key recurring song in the movie, however, that neither Elfman nor Beck wrote, and after some searching Jay and I have managed to locate it. The song is called "Real Religious Man" by Mr. Loco, a Spanish group from the 70's. There is no soundtrack available for the movie as of yet, but hopefully they will get their shit together and release one soon.

» Mr. Loco on MySpace (???)

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

The Heart Attack - Right On

Now that everyone officially agrees Gnarls Barkley is played out, we can officially move on to a newer, better Cee-Lo project (finally!). In the Heart Attack (or is it Lovestink?) Cee-Lo teams with Jack Splash from the much under-recognized Plantlife to play a lot of old-school funk, combined with odd, quirky sounds provided by Jack Splash. Part of what attracted me to "Crazy" by Gnarls Barkley, was that song had a continuous beat and lacked a proper chorus, which allowed Cee-Lo to mold the song with just his vocals. "Right On" uses a similar idea with a very simple guitar riff and focuses on Cee-Lo's phenomenal vocals. "Gangsta Boogie" on the other hand, is a little more out there, more akin to early Prince-style funk. No word on when this album will be released, but from the looks of it, i'll say the officially leak day is July 10th.

Bonus Track - Gangsta Boogie

Lily Allen - Knock Em Out

It seems like every blog is talking about Lily Allen. On the top of that, she's gorgeous, adorable, probably funny, has over 36,000 friends on Myspace, and I would imagine she has a nice vinyl collection. But for the most part, the songs that I had heard were pretty ignorable, until I heard these two tracks here. "Knock Em Out" has the upbeat hip-hop feel of the Streets, while "LDN" is slightly reggae, slightly hip-hop, slightly indie dance. While I haven't heard all her stuff yet, the press keeps referring to her as this summer's M.I.A. (well, at least for those posers who didn't get into M.I.A. until the summertime). I hope they're right. We won't find out until July 16th when Still, Alright is released.

Bonus Track - LDN

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Muzak Video Roundup: The Raconteurs, The Pipettes, Mogwai, Field Music, and more

Well it's been a couple months since our last music video post, so I decided it was time to scour the net for more hot new vids. You won't believe what I found... Paul Reubens starring in The Raconteurs' "Steady As She Goes", The Pipettes with one of the best retro videos since Weezer's "Buddy Holly", and... David Hasselhoff singing "Secret Agent Man"? Not to mention George W. Bush singing "Sunday Bloody Sunday". Now that's entertainment.

» The Raconteurs - "Steady As She Goes"
» The Pipettes - "Pull Shapes"
» Belle & Sebastian - "White Collar Boy"
» The Flaming Lips - "The W.A.N.D."
» The Whirlwind Heat - "Air Miami"
» Mogwai - "Travel is Dangerous"
» Field Music - "You're Not Supposed To"
» YMCK - "Magical 8-Bit Tour"
» Broken Social Scene - "Fire Eye'd Boy"
» Justice vs Simian - "We Are Your Friends"
» David Hasselhoff - "Secret Agent Man"
» rX - "Sunday Bloody Sunday"

Yo La Tengo - Beanbag Chair

Matador Records have kindly posted a new Yo La Tengo song from their upcoming album I Am Not Afraid Of You And I Will Beat Your Ass. (which, incidentally, has my vote for coolest album title so far this year). Matador calls it "their most focused, wildly entertaining album of their longer-than-long tenure". Seeing as I haven't heard it yet, I'll have to take their word for it. What I can say though, is that this track, "Beanbag Chair", will have you wishing the September release date wasn't quite so far off. Dig it. Now.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Brittany Murphy - Faster Kill Pussycat

Yes, that Brittany Murphy, even if only to add to the list of celebrities releasing albums. But to be honest, I've always respected Murphy more than other contemporary female celebrities, most likely due to Uptown Girls (she got to meet Dakota Fanning!). Despite her awkwardness, her skinny legs, and the fact that she was fat in Clueless, I've still always appreciated her and respected her. And, she has a surprisingly good voice, much sexier than her talking voice. She has recently stated that she has sung back up vocals on several albums, often without the other artists' knowledge, as well as taking no credit in the albums' liner notes. Whether this is true or not, I'm sure she'll finally get her own album soon enough. This song actually appears on Paul Oakenfold's recent album A Lovely Mind

Bonnie 'Prince' Billy and Tortoise - Thunder Road (Bruce Springsteen Cover)

I'm not really a big fan of classic rock, but fuck me I love a good cover of classic rock. What I like best is that this song makes me completely forget what the original Springsteen song sounded like. I had to pull out my dad's old vinyl of Born to Run to think of how the original sounded. If anything, listening to the original only furthers my appreciation of this version. Together both bands are able to completely shatter whatever you heard in the original. Will Oldham has a deep love for reinventing other peoples' songs and completely revamps this tune, slowing it down, loudening it up, less rock and roll, less optimistic. In other words, it becomes a Bonnie 'Prince' Billy song. You can hear all your favourite songs shattered on The Brave and the Bold released back in January, which is made up entirely of covers.

Monday, June 12, 2006

The Boy Least Likely To - When I Grow Up I Want To Be A Boy

I had always heard about how The Boy Least Likely To was a two-piece band, so imagine my surprise when not 2 but 7 people took the stage at The Revival in Toronto on Saturday night and proceeded to deliver as energetic a hoedown as anyone could ever ask of a British twee pop band. I was expecting a mellow, mainly acoustic set, without the benefit of many of the wonderful instruments found on their album recordings. Instead we were all treated to a full ensemble featuring keyboards, banjo, scratchboard and recorders, and a giddy troupe of musicians dancing around, clapping and wise-cracking in between songs. They even played a cover of George Michael's "Faith" and made it their own. Singer Jof Owen clearly idolizes Wayne Coyne of the Flaming Lips, but I can't think of a better frontman to try to emulate. Enjoy a couple b-sides from the Be Gentle With Me single, plus one of my favourites from The Best Party Ever.

» Bonus Track: Between Hello & Goodbye (Field Mice cover)
» Bonus Track: Hugging My Grudge
» Buy The Best Party Ever on Amazon

Friday, June 09, 2006

City Field - Pigeon Quest

As a nice little complement to my Sloan post a couple days ago, here's some music from another new Canadian band who have ties to the old 90's Halifax pop scene. City Field are 5 piece band featuring Matt Murphy of The Super Friendz and The Flashing Lights, plus 4 other musicians -- who are unfortunately destined to be overshadowed by Mr. Murphy's presence, although they are clearly just as instrumental to the band's sound. At first listen I was even a little turned off by the fact that Murphy isn't the lead singer in this band, but once I settled into the B-52's vibe of what they were doing I was more receptive. Murphy's quirky rock riffs are still present, but I can't say this sounds like anything he's previously been involved in. Their first EP, Authentic City, is apparently pretty hard to get your hands on now, but they are working on a new full-length album called Digital Perm for 300AD Field Recordings. Check them out live at the Casbah in Hamilton tonight, and again at Lee's Palace in Toronto on June 22nd. Listen to more songs over on their MySpace page as well as their official site.

» Bonus Track: Linda's Hair

the M's - Plan of the Man

Polyvinyl Records will probably always be remembered for the quiet, hushed pop albums that they released early on in their formation. As a result many of their subsequent releases that have had entirely different sounds have been ignored by the press. xbxrx's brilliant Sixth in Sixes is almost non-existent, and more recently the M's Future Women (which was released way back in February) has gone and left. I mean, I'm just coming across it now. Me! Now! What a damn shame, cus these guys have pretty much nailed down the sound of 1970s British rock and roll a la Bowie or the Jam. "Plan of the Man" features the rapid-fire electric guitars, backed with echoing vocal harmonies before culminating into fuzzed-out power-pop hit backed with a cross-section of horns. "Trucker Speed" begins out of tune before slowly arriving at the fuzz-pop pitstop, backed by violin. Dig in!

Bonus Track - Trucker Speed
Bonus Track - Going Over It

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Feathers - Old Black Hat With a Dandelion Flower

If you think Feathers' album cover looks oddly reminiscent of Devendra Banhart's recent Cripple Crow, there's a reason behind that. Feathers not only played on part of Cripple Crow but also are the first release on Banhart's Gnomonsong record label, which is unfortunate since being on such a small label has rendered this album almost invisible. I had been searching for it for quite a while until I was finally able to pick it up in Toronto a little while ago. Comparing it to Banhart would be the most obvious comparison, but I think that Feathers are working on a much saner, simplistic songwriting style than Banhart, perhaps more akin to the softer work of Sufjan Stevens. For a band comprised of eight members, the album is oddly quiet and elegiac. After giving it a fair amount of listens, I'm still amazed by their inhuman ability to create layer after layer of vocal harmony, with the vocal harmonies commonly becoming more prominent than the music. Consider it summer music for those sleeping in the woods, eating berries from the bushes.

Bonus Track - Van Rat
Bonus Track - Past the Moon

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

The Go! Team - Ladyflash (Live @ KEXD)

Alright, hands up, who's getting sick of hearing about The Go! Team out there? Anyone? In the past year or so these Brits have gotten a ton of attention (and deservedly so). The problem is that they've been touring like crazy and milking the same set of songs for a couple years now, and there hasn't been anything new to get excited about. It kind of puts them in a class with Sufjan Stevens, Mr. Overexposure himself. And although they've managed to release a slew of singles and tour-only EPs, it just makes it even more painfully obvious that they need some new songs. But in the meantime, why not add one more EP to the pile, right? Audio Assault Course: The College Radio Sessions, features 6 live tracks plus the Kevin Shields "Huddle Flash" mash-up/remix. I don't know if it's actually available in stores or if it just got sent to bloggers and college radio stations, but here are a couple of the live songs from it. I used to whine about how The Go! Team's live show is missing a lot of the instrumentation and samples in their studio recordings, but I kind of forgot that it also adds energy and live vocals to the songs as well.

» Bonus Track: Huddle Formation (Live @ KCRW)

Sloan - Summer's My Season

Although in recent years they seem to have gone on auto-pilot, Toronto (via Halifax) rockers Sloan put out more than a few amazing albums in their day. The thing that has always puzzled me, however, is the fact that they are strictly a Canadian phenomenon. They have achieved a kind of superstar status here in Canada, and yet to this day remain relatively unknown south of the border. Early in their career they were picked up by Geffen Records with the hopes of becoming the next Nirvana, but when they abandoned their My Bloody Valentine noise-pop in favour of clean guitars and Beatle-esque harmonies, no one knew what to do with them. I still think a lot of indie rock bloggers would dig them if they knew who they were. This post is my weak attempt to reconnect a few people with this great band, using an assortment of b-sides (stupid idea, I know). So do with it as you will... but if you don't like it, I don't wanna hear it! Word on the street is that Sloan's next album will be out sometime in September.

» Bonus Track: Same Old Flame
» Bonus Track: Helen
» Bonus Track: Laying Blame
» Buy A Sides Win: Singles Collection on Amazon

Call Me Lightning - Ghouls

French Kiss Records just recently signed Milwaukee's Call Me Lightning, a band who I had no prior knowledge of so I thought I would investigate. It turns out they have one album out on Revelation Records called The Trouble We're In, which is definitely a little more abrasive than some of the stuff French Kiss is known for. It's pretty easy to hear echoes of scrappy bands like Drive Like Jehu and Fugazi in the mix, but if you listen closely I think you'll also hear a little bit of Thunderbirds Are Now! and Les Savy Fav, so maybe their music isn't such a stretch after all. Their MySpace page has a couple of new demos which sound even better, so I'm definitely looking forward to hearing what the forthcoming LP has to offer.

» Bonus Track: Rotten River
» Buy it on Amazon

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Deerhoof - Lose My Breath (My Bloody Valentine cover)

Continuing along with this week's theme of free music, here are a couple tracks from a new EP Deerhoof just released online a couple weeks ago. It's a mixture of live tracks and covers. I guess their guitarist Chris Cohen just left the band to work on his other band The Curtains full time. Everyone and their mom seems to have known about this free EP except for me, so it might be old news to some... but I am posting a couple individual MP3s for the sake of convenience since the whole thing was released as a single track for some reason. I guess I'll have to start reading Pitchfork again so I can keep myself in the loop. I also included a live track from another free EP Deerhoof released online last year (?) called Bibidi Babadi Boo.

» Bonus Track; Spirit Ditties Of No Tone (Live)
» Bonus Track; Giga Dance (Live)
» Download the full EP here

Christina Aguilera - Ain't No Other Man

I know Sean will be upset by Xtina's poor grammar, but really, what is grammar? Anywho, the surprising thing, and what attracted me to this song in the first place is that it is produced by DJ Premier. The production is fantastic, a bit faster than Premier's usual work, but still contains his smooth, soulful beats. I was originally put off by Aguilera's vocals, which I've never been a big fan of, but it's slowly growing on me. This song comes from Aguilera's Back to Basics album which isn't released until mid-August. This album furthers Xtina's foray into hip-hop culture featuring several hip-hop producers, as well as Nas on one track. I wonder how this song will perform as a club song, since the beats are a bit fast, and somewhat odd to dance to. But then again, I've only been to one 'club' and the people there seem to be willing to dance to anything.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Danger Doom - Korn Dogz

Hey, do you like free stuff? Who doesn't! Danger Doom, the Adult Swim-themed collaboration between MF Doom and Danger Mouse, have released a new EP online absolutely free, so get it while the gettin's good! Some may feel the need to complain because out of the 7 tracks there are 2 skits, 3 remixes, and only 2 actual new songs, but hey -- it's free! Did I mention it's free? Head over to the Adult Swim website and download the Occult Hymn EP now.

» Bonus Track: Space Ho's (Madlib Remix)
» Get the entire EP and Artwork here

Tilly and the Wall - Rainbows in the Dark

In case you've never heard of Tilly and the Wall, the first thing you need to know is that the band has become famous for featuring a tap-dancer/percussionist, a feature which reviewers tend to dwell on. The second thing you need to know is that they are the first band singed to Conor Oberst's Team Love record label. Are you scared yet? Trust me, I wouldn't be posting these songs if I couldn't get them out of my head. While their initial set-up may rely a bit too much on quirkiness, they still have undeniable talent for writing catchy pop songs, and have an amazing ability to structure songs around tap dancing beats; the tap sounds come off sounding more like electronic 'beeps', hidden behind layers of percussion. In fact, it is the layers of percussion that really makes the band stick out. The beats of the songs are what will get clogged (pun intended) in your head. Oh! the hand claps, the tapping, the tambourines...

Bonus Track - Urgency