Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Bloc Party - We Were Lovers

They say that the true strength of a band lies in their b-sides (okay, so I don't know if anyone has ever actually said that, but it sounded like a good opening line), and great b-sides are something that Bloc Party have always had in spades. Silent Alarm was one of my favourite albums of 2005, and now their sophomore effort A Weekend In The City is almost upon us. A few days before the release of the album, they will issue the first single for the song "The Prayer", backed with this beautiful track "We Were Lovers". Kele Okereke's vocals once again soar over guitars that shimmer and sear, alternating between moments of tenderness and urgency. I'm not sure what it is about this band that seems to get me every time, but it looks like there won't be any sophomore jinx as far as I'm concerned. A Weekend In The City hits stores on February 6th.

» Pre-order The Prayer on Amazon
» Pre-order A Weekend In The City on Amazon

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Nullsleep - The Model

70's electronic music played using 80's technology? That's the theme on this unique tribute album. 8-Bit Operators: An 8-Bit Tribute to Kraftwerk is a compilation being released through Astralwerks next month featuring some of the most prominent artists in the chiptune music scene recreating classic songs by krautrock pioneers Kraftwerk. If you're a fan of Commodore 64 SIDs or compositions made with old video game systems like the NES and Gameboy, then this is a disc you might want to check out. 8 Bit Weapon and Nullsleep are the only two bands I had previously heard of, but there's a lot of variety here, with 15 contributors that span the globe (many of whom participated in last year's Blip Music Festival). You can sample more tracks (including an extended mix of Glomag's rendition of "Pocket Calculator") on the official MySpace page. Look for 8-Bit Operators in stores on February 7th.

» Bonus Track: Glomag - Pocket Calculator
» Pre-order it on Amazon

The Explorers Club - Don't Forget The Sun

Well if you thought Panda Bear or the Super Furry Animals sounded a lot like The Beach Boys, you might want to check out this unsigned indie band called The Explorers Club. Not to be confused with the prog rock band of the same name on Magna Carta Records, these guys are recreating Brian Wilson & Co with such flawless sounds that you might almost think they were a cover band. Despite the distinct California vibe, they actually hail from South Carolina. They don't necessarily score points for originality, but I for one can't wait to hear a full length album from them. Plus they've already had some of their music played during both The O.C. and How I Met Your Mother, so you can bet they're not going to remain unsigned much longer! Their debut EP is currently available for download via the iTunes music store.

» Bonus Track: Lost My Head
» Buy it on iTunes

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Clap Your Hands Say Yeah - Emily Jean Stock

You can't talk about the first Clap Your Hands Say Yeah album without mentioning how it was a breakout indie success... self-released, self-promoted, and moved something like 17,000 units almost strictly through word of mouth and the power of blogs. Now comes their highly anticipated follow-up album Some Loud Thunder, and you have to wonder how it will be received. With the blogosphere moving as fast as it does, are Clap Your Hands already yesterday's news?

I will agree that I'm a bit sick of hearing about this band, but I'm still not sick of hearing their music. The exciting thing about the new album is that although it's once again self-released, they put a lot more money into the production, hiring Dave Fridmann (Mercury Rev, Flaming Lips, Sparklehorse, Sleater-Kinney) as producer. You can definitely hear the added production value on songs like, "Emily Jean Stock". It builds layer upon layer of sound, and feels so much fuller than anything on their self-titled debut. I'm looking forward to hearing the rest of album in its entirety when it hits stores on January 30th.

» Pre-order it on Amazon

Franco Battiato - Ruby Tuesday

Alfonso Cuaron's Children of Men snuck into theatres around Christmas time and ended up being one of the best movies of 2006, particularly if you're a fan of believable science-fiction. One of the things I loved about the movie that a lot of people haven't really mentioned is the soundtrack. Instead of going the route of say, The Matrix, and peppering the film with rap-metal and techno, we get a nice collection of mostly British rock songs that suit the tone and the setting perfectly (the movie takes place in England... why is it that all the best dystopian futures seem to be set in England?) One song in particular was central to the movie, Franco Battiato's haunting cover of the Stones' "Ruby Tuesday". Apparently Battiato is Italian, but to my uneducated ears his accent sounds almost Scottish. Beautiful song, highly recommended.

» Bonus Track: Jarvis Cocker - Running The World
» Buy it on Amazon

Brent Simon - Space Camp

I caught Brent Simon performing live on Jimmy Kimmel at some point last month and it was quite entertaining because you don't often see chubby guys performing solo on late night shows with a synthesizer, singing about science-fiction movies and other nerdy topics. It turns out he's playing up his nerd roots maybe a little too much (his website is www.nerdpunk.com and his latest album is called Seven of Nine), but he reminded me of this weird cross between Atom and his Package, The Aquabats and Wesley Willis. His synth-playing is decent, and although his singing leaves something to be desired, I suppose that's part of the charm. I'm sure a few pasty white geeks out there will get a kick out of this.

» Bonus Track: Alien Abduction
» Bonus Track: Bad Ass Keyboards

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Muzak For Cybernetics Mixtape #7

Before 2007 had even arrived, the internet was given a taste of some great albums that lay ahead in the new year. On this particular installment of the Muzak For Cybernetics Mixtape, I preview songs from a handful of these upcoming albums, and some other random audio goodness. Download the MP3 above, or subscribe to the podcast feed using one of these handy links:



Playlist:

Mates of State - California
Clap Your Hands Say Yeah - Underwater (You and Me)
Arcade Fire - Black Wave/Bad Vibrations
Deerhoof - Believe ESP
Air - Mer Du Japon
The Prototypes - Exister
Hot Chip - Sexual Healing
Talib Kweli/Madlib - Funny Money
Jay-Z - 30 Something
!!! - A New Name
Ratatat - Kennedy
Editors - Munich (Shy Child Remix)
Trans Am - Conspiracy of the Gods
The Beatles - Drive My Car/The Word/What You're Doing
Sparklehorse - Some Sweet Day

Friday, January 05, 2007

Deerhoof - Surprise Symphony

Satomi Matsuzaki and her quirky/lovable bandmates in Deerhoof return this month with a new album entitled Friend Opportunity. It's weird, whimsical and every bit as cute and cuddly as their last few albums have been. Plus it'll make your ears bleed (in a good way I mean). In case you just can't wait for January 23rd, they've released the song "+81" as an iTunes-only digital single, complete with a few old, obscure b-sides to go with it. Here are a couple of the b-sides in their original form (taken from some 7"s I believe). Interesting to note: "United He-Ho Brothers" is reportedly the very first song the band wrote together when guitarist John Dieterich joined the band back in 1999.

» Bonus Track: United He-Ho Brothers
» Pre-order Friend Opportunity on Amazon

Monday, January 01, 2007

Panda Bear - Bro's

If you thought the last Animal Collective album was a little too poppy, you'll be a bit disappointed when you hear AC member Panda Bear's (aka Noah Lennox) new 12" single. Panda Bear has released the poppiest solo material of all four members, and listening to his solo material, you can definitely hear his influence on the overall sound of Feels. This new material is much catchier than his last album Young Prayer which featured mostly Lennox's sparse instrumentation and melodic vocals. However, this new single sees him going in a much different direction. This new single showcases his love of 60s pop music, with chaotic percussion and beautifully harmonic vocals that layer and layer upon each other before peaking into a melodic noise heap. Let's just call it the 12 minute masterpiece that it is.

This song is the first single from his upcoming solo album Person Pitch that is slated to be released winter 2007.

Modest Mouse - Dashboard

Well, here it is, the first single from the upcoming Modest Mouse album We Were Dead Before The Ship Even Sank. The album was originally slated for a December release but now appears to have been pushed back to March. "Dashboard" debuted on Seattle radio station 107.7 The End on New Year's Eve, and this is a recording of that premiere. The quality leaves something to be desired, but hey... it's new Modest Mouse! (It definitely beats live recordings if you ask me.) This album will, of course, be the band's first release with former Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr contributing in the songwriting department. It does seem like a bit of a new direction for them... what do you think, can you hear the Marr influence?