Sunday, December 30, 2007

Sean's Top 10 Albums of 2007

2007 was sort of a blur for me when it comes to music. No, not because I tripping out at raves every weekend, but rather because I listened to a lot of new albums without having many of them enter into permanent rotation for an extended period of time. When I first started considering my top 10 list, nothing was really jumping out at me. However, after bit more contemplation, I settled on 10 picks that I'm pretty satisified with.

10. Sloan - Never Hear The End Of It (Sony Canada/Yep Roc)
Originally I wasn't really considering putting this album in my top 10. Sloan are one of my favourite bands of all-time, but have been in steady decline since the late 90's when they stopped being obsessed with The Beatles and started getting obsessed with 70's rock. Never Hear The End Of It is definitely inconsistent, but it contains a whopping 30 tracks. I realized that if you boil it down to the best 15 songs or so, it's easily the best Sloan record since Between The Bridges.
» MP3: Set In Motion
» Buy it on Amazon

9. Chromeo - Fancy Footwork (Vice)
Although I grew up in the 80's, I've never really been all that nostalgic for the music of that era. With the exception of some fist-pumping 80's hair metal and the occasional old school rap tune (and of course, Devo), I rarely feel the need to revisit that particular period in music. Which is why I was so surprised that Chromeo's Fancy Footwork totally had me hooked on their authentic 80's synth hooks and R&B party jams all year long.
» MP3: Outta Sight
» Buy it on Amazon

8. El Ten Eleven - Every Direction is North (Ind.)
Just stumbled across these guys towards the end of the year through the documentary Helvetica. They contributed a number of songs on the soundtrack, and it totally suited the futuristic, modern vibe of the movie. What can I say, I'm a sucker for instrumental music in the vein of The Album Leaf and Don Caballero.
» MP3: Every Direction is North
» Buy it at CD Baby

7. The Go! Team - Proof of Youth (Sub Pop)
Although The Go! Team's first album Thunder, Lightning, Strike took a while to find its audience, the band toured like crazy in 2006 and built up a ton of buzz. The problem is, they took so long to release their follow-up album that by the time it hit stores, a lot of people had already kind of moved on. Well, except me, I suppose. For whatever reason, their unique mixture of team chants, fuzzed out samples and old school hip-hop sensibility was just as exciting for me the second time around, and the addition of guest stars like Chuck D only strengthened it.
» MP3: Titanic Vandalism
» Buy it on Amazon

6. !!! - Myth Takes (Warp)
Myth Takes took a while to grow on me, but I think seeing !!!'s sweaty and electric live show was what finally turned me on to a lot of the songs contained within. I think their self-titled album is still the most infectious thing they've done to date, but there is a lot of fantastic music on this CD.
» MP3: A New Name
» Buy it on Amazon

5. Radiohead - In Rainbows (Ind.)
I've never really considered myself among Radiohead's massive throng of devotees, but ever since I decided to give OK Computer a chance, I've rarely been let down by anything they've done. It some ways, it's a predictable phenomenon that every album they release ends up on people's best of the year lists. In my case, I can honestly say it's never pre-meditated. Their music just fascinates me to no end.
» MP3: Jigsaw Falling Into Place
» Pre-order it on Amazon

4. The Octopus Project - Avalanche (Peek-A-Boo)
Another stellar instrumental band that combines a lot of guitar-based rock with electronic elements in order to come up with a robotic fusion that's right up my alley. Last year they released a collaboration with Black Moth Super Rainbow, but I think this album improves on that significantly.
» MP3: Ghost Moves
» Buy it on Amazon

3. Battles - Mirrored
This instrumental supergroup had me excited ever since I heard the sonic exploits of their initial EPs, but their debut full-length album was at first listen almost a little too weird for me. I finally came around though. It may be too experimental and off the wall for a lot of people, but it borders on musical genius.
» MP3: Snare Hanger
» Buy it on Amazon

2. Coconut Records - Nighttiming
Nothing more than a simple pop album, and coming from a Hollywood actor no less. I was never really into Jason Schwartzman's first band Phantom Planet, but for some reason this solo album unexpectedly got more airplay from me than just about anything else released in 2007. "West Coast" would probably get my vote for song of the year.
» MP3: West Coast
» Buy it on Amazon

1. Les Savy Fav - Let's Stay Friends
Whether or not Les Savy Fav were ever really officially broken up, Let's Stay Friends can be considered a comeback album of sorts, and it is proof positive that they certainly shouldn't have called it quits when they did because they're at the top of their game and still getting better.
» MP3: Kiss Kiss is Getting Old
» Buy it on Amazon

Honourable Mentions:

A trio of great EPs that deserve mention: Vampire Weekend - s/t, Flight of the Conchords - The Distant Future and Magic Weapon - Residue Hymns. Vampire Weekend's debut album would have made my top 10 except it doesn't officially come out until January.

Animal Collective
, Miracle Fortress, Panda Bear and Caribou all put out great albums this year that were influenced in some way by the Beach Boys. All were superb but maybe because they all came out around the same time, they all kind of got grouped together in my mind and never stood out individually to me.

Of Montreal, Deerhoof, Arcade Fire, Spoon and Enon also put out new albums that essentially did more of what they're each good at. Great records, but I suppose they all played it safe in a way, which is maybe why they didn't quite crack my top 10.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Muzak For Cybernetics Mixtape #14

Despite what you may have heard, the Muzak for Cybernetics Mixtape is alive and well, friends. Here is our latest mix for the month of December (okay, November too). It covers a lot of ground, and hopefully will make up for the lack of posting around here lately.



Playlist:
Neon Neon - Raquel
Apes and Androids - Golden Prize
Os Mutantes - Top Top (Live)
Of Montreal - Heimdalsgate Like A Promethean Curse (Acoustic)
Stephen Malkmus and Lee Renaldo - Can't Leave Her Behind
Cassettes Won't Listen - Cut Your Hair
Dragonette - Take It Like A Man (RAC Mix)
Glass Candy - Beatific
8-bit Construction Set - Saucemaster
Supergrass - Diamond Hoo Ha Man (Live)
Annuals - Such A Mess
Akron/Family - Phenomena
Georgie James - Cake Parade
Via Audio - Modern Day Saint
BOAT - Period, Backslash, Colon
The Canadians - Summer Teenage Girl
Yea Big + Kid Static - Duck Mother Fuckers
Girl Talk - Let's Run This
Battles - Leyendecker (DJ EMZ Remix Feat. Joell Ortiz)
Prefuse 73 - Prog Version Slowly Crushed
El Ten Eleven - Estrella
Polyphonic Spree - Happy Xmas (The War is Over)

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

The Shondes - Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow

It's been a year or so since Sleater-Kinney officially called it quits, and I've been left wondering where to go for a good fix of angsty yet refined grrl rock. With S-K guitarist Corin Tucker busy raising a child, and other guitarist Carrie Brownstein apparently busy promoting Rock Band (!), it's time for them to pass the torch on to another up and coming group. And who better to accept it than The Shondes, a quartet combining radical politics and Jewish perspectives into total rock anthems. I hope they're not sick of the Sleater-Kinney comparisons, because the vocals really are spot on, but they certainly add their own musical flavour via the incorporation of violins and more traditional Jewish arrangements. Their first full-length album, The Red Sea, hits stores on January 8th and I think it's going to pay off for them big time. You can preview the entire album now via this wonderful E-card.

» Bonus Track: The Mother and the Colony

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Bunnies - Alec Eiffel

I've never really understood the concept of putting out a tribute album for a band who are still together, although I suppose in the case of The Pixies, how "together" they really are is currently up for debate. As long as I get to hear some new interpretations of old classics, I really can't complain, and in the case of Dig For Fire: A Tribute to Pixies there are at least a handful of decent renditions worth checking out. Some of the bands involved include Mogwai, The Rosebuds, They Might Be Giants and Elk City, but probably the most adventurous song on the entire album is British Sea Power's eerie six and a half minute instrumental take on "Caribou". Still, I've always had a soft spot for "Alec Eiffel" and the Bunnies have a bit of fun with that here as well. I also threw in a track from an older Pixies tribute album called Where Is My Mind?, which featured Weezer and The Get Up Kids, among others.

» Bonus Track: British Sea Power - Caribou
» Bonus Track: Braid - Trompe Le Monde
» Buy Dig For Fire on Amazon
» Buy Where Is My Mind on Amazon

The Phoenix Foundation - Bleaching Sun

When I think of The Phoenix Foundation, the easy description that comes to mind is "the New Zealand version of The Shins", but that's really not entirely accurate. At times they do sound a bit like The Shins, but their most recent recordings seem to have mellowed a bit, and their latest album Happy Ending (not yet released in North America) reminds me more frequently of The Arcade Fire. Much like The Shins, however, The Phoenix Foundation's fan base seems to be growing thanks to their inclusion on a hip movie soundtrack, specifically the Kiwi indie dramedy Eagle vs Shark. To be honest, I'm a bit surprised I haven't read more about these guys in the blogosphere up until now, but once Eagle vs Shark is released on DVD, I can see them really getting their due. In the meantime, check out a couple of their newest tracks, and an older one too.

» Bonus Track: 40 Years
» Bonus Track: All In An Afternoon (from Pegasus)
» Buy Pegasus on Amazon
» Buy Horsepower on Amazon

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Atlas Strategic - Baby

If you're a fan of Wolf Parade, then you're probably well aware of the numerous side projects that both Spencer Krug and Dan Boeckner are involved with nowadays, including Handsome Furs, Frog Eyes, Sunset Rubdown and Swan Lake. But if you want to look back into the distant past (okay, maybe just 7 years ago), you might discover some other interesting gems, including Dan Boeckner's first major band, Atlas Strategic. They only released one full album (entitled Rapture, Ye Minions!) but it caught a lot of people's attention (including Modest Mouse's Isaac Brock apparently) and laid the groundwork for the dirty electro-blues style that would eventually become associated with Wolf Parade. There's no question that the music is a little more abrasive than Wolf Parade, but I was surprised by how solid the entire album is. Sadly, the album was originally released by Global Symphonic but has since gone out of print. If somebody out there was smart, they'd re-issue the thing because I know a lot of people who would love to get their hands on it!

» Bonus Track: Little Black Heart
» Bonus Track: Extreme Prejudice

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Rivers Cuomo - Blast Off!

Weezer just announced that their sixth studio album will be released this April, although I can't say I'm particularly enthused. Like a lot of Weezer fans, I found that once the initial excitement of their big comeback wore off, the realization hit home that there wasn't much in the way of decent music coming out to support it. Make Believe, their third album since breaking the hiatus in 2000, was the final nail in the coffin for me. It was so mediocre I couldn't even bring myself to buy it.

That said, there's another upcoming Weezer release on the horizon that probably will get my money, and that is Alone: The Home Recordings of Rivers Cuomo. After years of fans passing around bootleg demos of half-finished songs, we will finally get official recordings of some early Weezer tracks that never saw the light of day. Many of the songs (including "Blast Off!") originate from an aborted "space opera" concept album that was supposed to follow The Blue Album called Songs From The Black Hole. For whatever reason, it didn't pan out at the time, although some tunes still found their way onto Pinkerton. Rivers claims he only recently summoned the courage to release this stuff to the public; personally I think Geffen Records only recently realized there's a market for them after the positive online reaction to a leaked Cuomo song titled "Pig" earlier in the year.

You can hear a few more of the unfinished demos over at Twelve Major Chords. Alone: The Home Recordings of Rivers Cuomo hits stores on Dec. 18th.

» Bonus Track: I Just Threw Out The Love of My Dreams (feat. Rachel Haden)
» Pre-order it on Amazon

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Muzak For Cybernetics Mixtape #13

Hey all, this latest mixtape has been long overdue, and my apologies go out to all those who have been waiting patiently for our next installment. It's still fun putting these together, it's just that time has been hard to come by as of late. Also, Zak has been away at school since September so you're stuck with another solo effort from yours truly. If this month's picks are not obscure enough for you, blame it all on Zak! Enjoy.



Playlist:
The Octopus Project - Truck
The Hives - Hey Little World
Rapider Than Horsepower - Testify
Enon - Pigeneration
Deerhoof - Twin Killers (Live)
Super Furry Animals - Never More
Travis Morrison Hellfighters - As We Proceed
The Flaming Lips - I was Zapped by the Lucky Super Rainbow (Good Luck Chuck)
Kenny Young and the Eggplants - Earl The Squirrel
Flight of the Conchords - Business Time
The Phoenix Foundation - All in an Afternoon
Luna - Straight Up
Bis - Love Will Tear Us Apart
Freezepop - Ninja of Love
Calvin Harris - This Is The Industry
Sajama Cut - Nemesis (YMCK Remix)
Joy Division - Transmission (Control Cast Version)
The Most Serene Republic - Solipsism Millionaires

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Office - The Big Bang Jump!

I'm not sure if they're fans of the BBC series or the NBC series, but Chicago's Office have certainly chosen a clever band name that may or may not have been inspired by the popular TV show. Contrary to what you might think, however, their songs have little to do with selling paper products or workplace politics. Instead they deliver catchy pop songs that simultaneously remind me of Spoon, Belle & Sebastian and Koufax (although "The Big Bang Jump!" has a chorus that sounds like it was lifted from a New Pornographers album). Their debut album A Night at the Ritz, which came out last month on New Line Records, has been building a lot of positive word of mouth (and deservedly so). Within minutes you'll be won over... I know I was. I see big things for these guys in the future, so definitely check this album out before all the cool kids find out about it too!

» Bonus Track: Company Calls
» Buy it on Amazon

Monday, October 22, 2007

The Octopus Project - Mmaj

I know a lot of people have trouble getting into music that is primarily instrumental, but when you've got as many interesting textures and melodies in your songs as The Octopus Project, it's almost a shame to draw attention away from the music by throwing vocals in there too. Then again, on "Queen", the final track of their new album Hello, Avalanche, they punt that theory completely out the window by introducing some gentle singing to bring the album to a satisfying (and somewhat unexpected) conclusion. For me this band falls somewhere between Caribou and Trans Am, fusing a traditional guitar/bass/drums rock setup with varying levels of electronic noodling. They seem to switch gears so often that you never know what's around the corner, but fear not because they aren't just some aimless experimental jam band. Almost every song is built around a great hook, and once the album's finished, you can't wait to go back to track 1 and start all over again.

» Bonus Track: Queen
» Buy it on Amazon

Dethklok - Duncan Hills Coffee Jingle

Every year, a new album threatens to destroy my hearing with its raw, heavy rock riffs. This year, that album is by none other than Dethklok - the stars of the [adult swim] cartoon Metalocalypse. They're a metal band so famous they're the world's twelfth largest economy.

The two-disc edition of The Dethalbum features over an hour of the most brutal selections from Dethklok's library. Tracks that originally appeared on Metalocalypse have been re-written as full-length metal anthems and re-recorded with legendary metal drummer Gene Hoglan replacing the original programmed drum beats. Series creator and all-around overachiever Brendon Small is credited with playing all the guitar, bass (though in keeping with Dethklok canon, it's mixed all the way down), and writing most of the lyrics (some songs were co-written by Tommy Blacha).

Since The Dethalbum is based on a cartoon band, it may be easy for mainstream music media to dismiss it outright. But as an actual metal album it blows many of its contemporaries out of the water. Like all great death metal albums, The Dethalbum embraces themes of death, anger, hatred (particularly of the band's fans), and Norse mythology.

After listening to the fully realized versions of Dethklok's songs, it's a little weird going back and hearing them in the show. As a nice bonus, the two-disc edition includes a Dethklok cover of a Snakes 'N' Barrels song, "Kill You" as well as a video for the song "Bloodtrocuted."

» Buy it on Amazon

Guest review by Shaun Hatton

Monday, September 24, 2007

Enon - Sabina

Enon's High Society has a place somewhere amongst my favourite albums of all time, and their first album Believo! is a criminally underappreciated gem. However, they've been sort of levelling ever since, and in my opinion none of their recent creative output has surpassed those first two records. Grass Geysers... Carbon Clouds is another decent offering from the band (and their 4th official LP, considering 2005's Lost Marbles and Exploded Evidence was merely a compilation) featuring their unpredictable pop melodies and a mixture of fuzzed out guitars and noise. There aren't many electronic elements this time around, and it feels like an attempt to return to a somewhat straightforward rock sound. Initially, I thought the album seemed a little less interesting because of this approach, but more and more I find myself really getting into it. Fans of Deerhoof should find something to latch onto here, along with fans of John Schmersal and Toko Yasuda's previous bands Brainiac and Blonde Redhead. Grass Geysers... Carbon Clouds hits stores on October 9th.

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

Cinemechanica - I'm Tired of Paul McCartney

The nebulous genre of "math rock" can be interpreted in a lot of ways; by my reckoning it lies somewhere within the realm of punk, tech metal, experimental and progressive rock (a broad spectrum indeed). But the strange thing is, whenever you stumble across a band that falls into this category, there is absolutely no mistaking it. The intricate guitar riffs, complex percussion and awesome synchronized cacophony of rock power just knocks you on your ass, and that's how you know. This is precisely what happened the first time I heard Cinemechanica. I found out about this band because they moonlight as the Nintendo-themed cover bands Contraband, Megaband, and Ninjagaidenband (apparently math rock and video game music go hand in hand, as Hella's Spencer Seim also plays in The Advantage). For some reason I didn't expect their original stuff to be all that interesting, but damn... their album The Martial Arts is some of the best math rock I've heard since North of America. Also worth checking out is Bryant and Jeremy's other band, Serka.

» Bonus Track: Antsin Japants
» Bonus Track: Serka -Kitcheninja
» Buy it from Hello Sir Records

Friday, August 31, 2007

Les Savy Fav - Patty Lee (link removed)

Can you believe it's been 6 whole years since Les Savy Fav's last album proper? The good news is that listening to their new album Let's Stay Friends it's as if they never really went on that so-called "hiatus" after all. It seems like with each successive LSF release I find myself saying it's their best one yet, and this one is no different. There's still that sense of urgency, those cryptic lyrics, and the suspicion that the band is teetering on the edge of insanity (proven true upon witnessing frontman Tim Harrington's live antics), but mostly it's the haphazard and hypnotic guitarwork of Seth Jabour and the raw intensity of the music that always manages to progress with each record. This time around they also brought along some guests: Enon, Emily Haines of Metric, Nicholas Thorburn of Islands, and Eleanor Friedberger of Fiery Furnaces just to name a few. Let's Stay Friends will be available on September 18th through French Kiss Records, and if you want to stay friends with me you better start counting your pennies now.

» Bonus Track: Kiss Kiss Is Getting Old (link removed)
» Bonus Track: What Would Wolves Do
» Pre-order it on Amazon

Monday, August 27, 2007

The Weakerthans - Relative Surplus Value

I have to admit, when The Weakerthans released their first album back in 1997, I didn't quite understand the appeal. All I knew is that frontman John K. Samson used to be one of the guys in the politically-charged punk band Propagandhi, and this sounded nothing like Propagandhi. It was all slow and like... emotional or something. Now some 10 years later, I'm a bit older and grown out of the punk rock thing, and I hear The Weakerthans with new ears. I've really warmed up to them over the past decade, and I find it funny how this new album Reunion Tour (not actually a live album, as the title might have you believe) connected with me right from the very first listen. They're a very Canadian band, with possibly more Canadiana references per song than Joel Plaskett (famous hockey goalie Gump Worsley and curling being just a couple of the topics at hand), but I'm not sure how many people outside of Canada are familiar with them. The new record is being released on Epitaph so that's gotta mean something. Still, if you've never heard them before, they're great for fans of indie rock with a folky, heartfelt core. Reunion Tour hits stores on September 25th.

» Bonus Track: Sun in an Empty Room
» Pre-order it on Amazon

Shy Child - Astronaut

If you ask me, Supersystem's Always Never Again is one of the best albums from the past few years that no one heard. Take the sweaty rhythms of !!!, and add in some manic synths and a hint of D.C. post-punk and you might have a close approximation of Supersystem (formerly known as El Guapo), but for some reason they never quite managed to attract as much attention as they deserved. After releasing their second full-length album under the name Supersystem, A Million Microphones, the 4-piece quietly disbanded and went their separate ways. But wait -- it's not too late to latch onto a piece of the Supersystem legacy: keyboardist Pete Cafarella and drummer Nate Smith are now concentrating full-time on their 2-man side project, Shy Child, and their new album Noise Won't Stop captures a lot of what was missing from the last Supersystem album. Just about every track on this album has the potential to get a dance floor moving. Noise Won't Stop hasn't been released in the U.S., but it's available in the U.K. on Wall of Sound Records.

» Bonus Track: Generation Y (We Got It)
» Buy it on Amazon

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Muzak For Cybernetics Mixtape #12

Things have been a bit slow around here lately, but I'm glad to say that we've finally got another Muzak For Cybernetixxx Mixxxtape in the can and ready for download! It's been tough finding time to post regularly, and we've been thinking about abandoning the MP3 blog altogether to concentrate strictly on the Mixtape podcasts from here on in. For those who actually keep up with the blog, let us know if you'd object to such a thing. And now, sit back and enjoy your last mixtape of the summer!



Playlist:
Vampire Weekend - The Kids Don't Stand A Chance
The Narrator - Surf Jew
Spinto Band - Cat's Pajamas
Magic Weapon - Cloudy People
Sunset Rubdown - The Courtesan Has Sung
Les Savy Fav - What Would Wolves Do
Kevin Drew - Back Out On The
Future of the Left - The Lord Hates a Coward
Fog - What Gives?
The Lionheart Brothers - Down at My Place
The Go Team - Titanic Vandalism
The Brunettes - If You Were Alien
Stars - Take Me To The Riot
Octopus Project - I Saw The Bright Shinies
Jesu - Farewell

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Belaire - Don't Delay, Participate!

I first heard Belaire's catchy self-titled EP a couple of years ago now, and at the time I fully expected to see this band get picked up by a reputable indie label and turned into superstars. Unfortunately, things haven't quite panned out like that for these 4 Texans... at least not yet. One thing that may be holding them back is the obligations of Matt Simon and Jason Chronis to their other band, Voxtrot. Then again, with the growing popularity of Voxtrot, you'd think more people would have heard of Belaire by now too. Either way, Belaire's first full-length album is being released this September by Indierect Records, and it definitely picks up where that EP left off. It's chock full of dreamy pop melodies courtesy of twin sisters Cari and Christa Palazollo, with a sound that puts them somewhere between The Rentals, Stereolab and Mates of State. Sound intriguing? Check out these tracks from Exploding, Impacting... and while you're at it, look into their various other projects as well!

» Bonus Track: Step Step Step
» Buy it from Indierect Records

Stereo Image - Red Nights

So you've heard and enjoyed the first two albums from Hamilton's Junior Boys -- perhaps you've even collected their EPs and early singles -- and now you're wondering what else you can get your grubby little hands on. Well, aside from a new Junior Boys album, this could perhaps be the next best thing. As I understand it, former Junior Boy Johnny Dark left the band before the release of their first album Last Exit, but he did not do so with any intentions of straying from the realm of electronic music. Instead he went on to release a solo EP of his own, before teaming up with vocalist San Serac to form Stereo Image. They have since signed to UK label KIN Records, and their first single "Red Nights" is out now. The sound is a kind of chilled out electro-soul vibe, not unlike Junior Boys, but certainly a bit different from Dark's own techno-heavy solo album. I'm looking forward to hearing more from this duo. (Thanks to Dave for the heads up!)

» Stereo Image on MySpace

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Bloc Party - Cavaliers and Roundheads

What the-- more Bloc Party b-sides?! How is such a thing possible? Considering that many of the A Weekend In The City b-sides released thus far have been superior to the actual a-sides on the album itself, you know I'm thirsty for more. Bloc Party recently issued their third single, this time for the song "Hunting For Witches", and in addition to a new song called "Cavaliers and Roundheads", they've included this great Witches remix by Toronto's own Crystal Castles. CC have been putting all kinds of bands through their noisy 8-bit retro filter, and this is another winner. Now if only they could get around to releasing a full album of original material!

» Bonus Track: Hunting For Witches (Crystal Castles Remix)
» Buy it on Amazon

Monday, July 09, 2007

Hot Hot Heat - Give Up

By my reckoning, Hot Hot Heat have been in danger of fading into obscurity after the release of their last album Elevator, which was not commercially successful enough to turn them into The Killers, but at the same time alienated a lot of fans since it dropped most of the wicked synthesizer and addictive rhythms. It just seemed a little too premeditated and overproduced, and the majority of the songs were far too straightforward to bear many repeat listens. It's a shame, considering the accolades that Make Up The Breakdown received from a lot of people, but they might still have one last shot to remain relevant with their next full-length album. Happiness Ltd. doesn't hit stores until September 11th, but the first single "Give Up" is out now (it will also be gracing the soundtrack of EA's next Burnout game apparently). If you ask me the track is just okay... it's nice to have the synths back again, but I'm assuming (and hoping) this is also the most radio-friendly track on the album. Did someone mention The Killers? Hmm. Well, I'll definitely give them the benefit of the doubt, but I'm fully prepared to accept the fact that their time may have passed. (Also included below is another HHH b-side from The O.C. Chrismukkah compilation. Enjoy.)

» Bonus Track: Christmas Day in the Sun
» Pre-order it on Amazon

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

The Rentals - Life Without a Brain

When Matt Sharp first struck out on his own from Weezer in 1995 and formed The Rentals, their debut album was ironically titled The Return of The Rentals. It is only now, some 12 years later, that the true return of The Rentals is almost upon us. They first announced their reunion in October of 2005, and launched a short North American tour with Ozma in 2006. Now they are about to release their first new material since the album Seven More Minutes. The Last Little Life EP will be released on August 14th, and will serve as a teaser for their upcoming yet-to-be-titled full length album. The new line-up features Rachel Haden, sister of original female vocalist Petra Haden, who also contributed back up vocals on the first album, and Ben Pringle from Nerf Herder on synths, along with Sara Radle (vocals/multiple instruments), Lauren Chipman on (viola/vocals) and Dan Joeright (drums). The EP is a superb return to form, and it certainly left me wanting more. Now if we could only get Matt Sharp and Rivers Cuomo together in a recording studio again.

» Pre-order the EP

Super Furry Animals - Into The Night

It's been a while since we've heard something truly fun from the Super Furry Animals. Their last few albums have been mostly drab and dare I say stuffy affairs, sorely lacking in the melodies and adventurous atmosphere that we last heard on Rings Around The World. With their latest album Hey Venus!, they may not have made a complete turnaround, but there are at least traces of the Super Furries we once knew. The Beach Boys harmonies, fuzzed out guitars and eclectic synthesizers are at their most potent towards the middle of the album, where we get songs like "Into The Night" and "Neo Consumer". Despite the fact that it's a surprisingly short record, the highlights are a lot more enjoyable than just about anything they've put out in the past five years.

» Bonus Track: Neo Consumer
» Pre-order it on Amazon

Saturday, June 23, 2007

The Go! Team - Grip Like A Vice (Black Affair Remix)

Although The Go! Team probably reached the current height of their popularity sometime last year, most of the buzz was based on the strength of their debut album Thunder, Lightning, Strike, which had actually been released way back in 2004 (and re-released in the U.S. in 2005). A new album has been long overdue, and I have been dying to hear what the next mutation of their style would be like now that the band has grown beyond frontman Ian Parton and his four-track recorder. The new album Proof of Youth hits stores in September, and the first single "Grip Like A Vice" is out in July. It's hard to deny the 80's hip-hop influence this time around, especially now that they have female rapper Ninja involved in the songwriting. It remains to be seen if the rest of the album will follow suit, but I am completely primed and ready. This remix of Grip Like A Vice comes courtesy of Black Affair, the new project from Steve Mason of The Beta Band.

» Pre-order it on Amazon

Friday, June 22, 2007

Interpol - Rest My Chemistry

Well, maybe they aren't too good at choosing album covers, but at least they seem to be trying to make changes in that department. If only their sound changed as drastically as their album covers, perhaps this new album would surprise me a bit more. Musically-speaking, the band hasn't changed their sound much, but they seem to have done a better job of perfecting their sound. I can't completely write them off because, while sounding similar to their earlier work, it sounds much much better, both in terms of production and songwriting skills. "Rest My Chemistry", "No I in Threesome" and "Who Do You Think?" are definitely some strong songs, probably the best I've heard from them since their debut album. Near the end of the album the band tries out a few new sounds, and I think this is where they really hit their stride, which is particularly nice since the band has a tendency to lose their bolts halfway through an album. This may be the first time I've listened to an entire Interpol album without skipping through several tracks. Again, it's not terribly new, but it's probably the most thorough album they've released to date, and a pleasure to hear.

Bonus Track - No I in Threesome
Bonus Track - Who Do You Think?

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Down Boy

Yeah Yeah Yeahs' new EP Is Is is(?) a collection of five songs that have become regulars in the band's live performances, but have yet to find a home on one of the band's proper full-length albums. Although, it is a bit unclear exactly when these songs were recorded, these five songs sound completely out of sync with their last album Show Your Bones. These songs have a much harder edge, and much rawer vocals, guitars and production, reminiscent of their earlier EPs. Though I liked Show Your Bones, like all great indie posers I loved their earlier work, and it's great to hear the band return to form. 'Down Boy' starts off with a quiet guitars and a simple beat, before exploding with Karen O's screaming vocals and screeching guitars. Definitely worth checking out.

Bonus Track - Rockers to Swallow

Bonde Do Role - Office Boy (Architecture in Helsinki Remix)

Last summer I was fortunate enough to see Bonde Do Role in concert opening for CSS and Diplo. While, I think they put on an amazing performance and would have stole the show if it weren't for some other amazing performances, I don't think the band's energy has ever really translated to album. The band's recent album With Lasers is definitely fun but is fairly one-dimensional. But ever since the band put out their first 12", the real hits of Bonde Do Role have been the remixes. Though having a very limited selection of songs, people love remixing their work, and their recent "Office Boy" single features some of the best remixes I've ever heard of their stuff. Architecture in Helsinki wisely keep the very upbeat, fun, very unserious vibe of AiH's work and Bonde Do Role's album and is probably my favourite. It features, whistles, claps, gnarly guitars - everything you could ever need. CSS, of course, adds a fun, funky beat and makes a great dance hit, but the real treat is Sir Khan's gloriously danceable remix.

Bonus Track - Office Boy (CSS Remix)
Bonus Track - Office Boy (Sir Khan Remix)

CSS - Let's Make Love and Listen to Death From Above (Hot Chip Remix)

Just when you were starting to forget about CSS, they come back and slap you in the face with some wikkedly hot remixes by some of the world's hottest remixers. And for what? some old singles? Actually, I think these remixes were released with the songs' singles some time ago, but somehow they all seemed to pass right by me, and I haven't seen them on any other blogs (take my advice, only come to this site for music!) Or perhaps I'm just getting old and can't keep up with the times. Either way, these songs need to be heard...again. In particular, Hot Chip and SMD seem to be in fine form and do a great job creating quite polarized versions of the song.

Bonus Track - Let's Make Love and Listen to Death From Above (Simian Mobile Disco Remix)
Bonus Track - Alala (Princess Superstar Remix)
Bonus Track - Alala (Bonde Do Role Remix)

Saturday, June 16, 2007

The Beastie Boys - Suco De Tangerina

When The Beastie Boys announced that they were going to be releasing a brand new album this summer that was completely instrumental, I was intrigued to say the least. I've always been a fan of the funky little instrumental jams that have glued together some of their previous albums, but when they started name dropping Gang of Four and Killing Joke, I began imagining all kinds of crazy possibilities. Unfortunately, I don't think The Mix Up quite lives up to the expectations I had set up for myself. For the most part, it greatly resembles everything we've heard from their previous instrumental compilation The In Sound from Way Out, which isn't a bad thing in itself. But aside from the extra bit of guitar and keyboard noodling (assisted by frequent collaborator Money Mark Nashita), there isn't a heck of a lot of progression in their sound.

Maybe it's because I'm such a big fan of instrumental bands like Turing Machine, Don Caballero and Trans Am that I was hoping for something just a little bit more. On the other hand, I realize that's simply unfair, because the Beasties don't have the same crazy musical skills that some of those other bands have. In the end, it's still a fun listen that continues to grow on me, and I have to give them props for trying something new and completely non-commercial. It will be interesting to hear what the vocal remixes of these tracks will sound like. The Mix Up hits stores on June 26th.

» Bonus Track: The Cousin of Death
» Bonus Track: Son of Neckbone (from The In Sound from Way Out!)
» Pre-order it on Amazon

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Muzak For Cybernetics Mixtape #11

Here you go folks... it's time for your June mixtape, courtesy of Zak and myself here at Muzak For Cybernetics! This time around we give you a smattering of songs from some albums coming out later this summer and a handful of interesting remixes you may or may not have heard. Feel free to drop us a line and let us know what you think of these podcasts, whether you'd like to hear more older stuff in the mix, more from a specific genre, more of our terribly dry commentary, or simply more frequent episodes! Download the MP3 above, or subscribe to one of the podcast feeds below.



Playlist:

M.I.A. - Boyz
Beach Boys - Don't Go Near The Water
Miracle Fortress - Maybe Lately
The Explorers Club - Last Kiss
Cloud Cult - Chemicals Collide
Polyphonic Spree - Oh I Feel Fine
Daft Punk - Human After All (Justice Remix)
GoodBooks - Leni (Crystal Castles Remix)
Wolf Parade - I'll Believe In Anything (Bird Peterson Remix)
Maximo Park - Apply Some Pressure (Mark Ronson Mix)
New Pornographers - Mutiny, I Promise You
Meligrove Band - Kingfisher Society
Casper & The Cookies - Sid From Central Park
Joel Plaskett - Fashionable People
The Brothers Martin - The Plot That Weaves
Sufjan Stevens - In The Words of the Governor
Shellac - Boycott
The Teeth - You're My Lover Now
White Rabbits - The Plot
!!! - Myth Takes (Acouth Take)

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Liars - Houseclouds

After last year's Drum's Not Dead, I wondered if Liars would ever go back to the art rock vibe that I loved from their first album They Threw Us All in a Trench and Stuck a Monument on Top. While I enjoyed Drum's Not Dead, I still felt like the album was a going to be an anomaly from the rest of their work, and the band would go back to experimenting with many different sounds. To no surprise, lead singer Angus Andrew recently announced on the band's blog that the new self-titled album would be a more back-to-normal album, with a "chilled out vibe." Surprisingly, that's actually a good description of the new album. The album has a definite stoner rock vibe to it compared to their earlier work, but also has the heavy percussion and fuzzed out sound of Drum's Not Dead. Perhaps the band's friendship with Deerhunter has rubbed off on Liars, and while Liars are famous for encouraging Deerhunter to stay together, it seems like Deerhunter has inspired Liars to reinvent themselves, and create an awesome new album. Definitely check out "Houseclouds."

Bonus Track - Road to Byzantium

Animal Collective - Peacebone

In a year of greatly anticipated and widely leaked albums, Animal Collective's newest release Strawberry Jam, scheduled for a late September release, has been easily the most anticipated, and desperately sought after album of the year. Over the past year, live tracks have been circulating all around the web, with fans just trying to get a taste of some new material. But in the past couple days, three songs have emerged, along with a whole lot of hype. And of course, as everyone can expect from Animal Collective, they do not disappoint. "Peacebone" is my favourite of the tracks so far and it is definitely a treat to hear the band going in new, interesting directions, with greater emphasis on electronics, and more focus on lyrics and vocals.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Contest : Adult Swim's Warm & Scratchy

It's not very often that we get to have a contest over here at Muzak for Cybernetics, so you know that when we do, it's gonna be huge. And, today is that day. Today, we have the opportunity to offer you a special Williams messenger bag filled with schtuff care of Adult Swim and their fantasticly free Warm & Scratchy CD. You can download the entire album, chalk full of M4C-approved bands like Les Savy Fav, TV on the Radio, Liars, the Rapture and many more, here.

To get even more free stuff, including a messenger bag filled with all the items listed below, simply email muzakforcybernetics@gmail.com with your name, address and answer to the question: What is the best Adult Swim show on television? Winners will be picked at random.
The contest ends June 15th at 5pm, so hurry up!

The Williams messenger bag contains the following:
- Warm & Scratchy on CD
- an ATHF koozie
- adult swim postcard book
- meatwad stressball
- adult swim button set
- adult swim sticker set
- williams street t-shirt
- ATHF movie mix CD
- adult swim belt
- assy keychain
- adult swim notebook
- williams street button