Thursday, February 28, 2008

Apes and Androids - Make Forever Last Forever

Well I still don't know all that much about Apes and Androids, but their music seems to speak for itself. These guys are bringing together both the sound and the imagery of Queen, David Bowie and Prince and generating some kind of crazy electro-funk rock opera concoction that will soon unleash a robot apocalypse on humanity. Blood Moon is one of the most intriguing albums I've heard in a while, and even if the bombastic nature of the music can be a bit hard to take in one sitting, I am lead to believe that their live show is where it all really comes alive. If they happen to tour anywhere near my home you can bet I'll be there to witness it. In the meantime, you might want to let this album kick your ass around the block a few times. Blood Moon is available now on iTunes and via the band's website.

» Bonus Track: Radio

Crystal Castles - Love and Caring

Although they weren't able to play their scheduled show last weekend in Hamilton, Toronto's Crystal Castles are now out on tour across North America with HEALTH, and they're building quite a bit of momentum leading up to the release of their self-titled debut album next month. It's hard to believe that this is the same duo that broke onto the scene "accidentally" with some early recordings cobbled together from 8-bit video game samples and old keyboards; their music has since been evolving into a more slick and polished dancey electro-pop sound. It's not entirely a bad thing, but I definitely prefer the songs that are a little more raw or just eerie and spacey. This album is recommended for fans of Adult. and Ladytron, among others, and with all the buzz that's building I wouldn't be surprised if Crystal Castles lead to a new explosion in so-called "laptop bands" across Canada. The album will be released on Last Gang Records on March 18th.

» Bonus Track: Magic Spells
» Pre-order it on Amazon

New Pornographers - The Speed of Luxury

I know a lot of people felt the last New Pornographers album was simply coasting along on their previous work, without really progressing or adding anything particularly new or exciting. I wouldn't necessarily disagree, but for me, an average New Pornographers album is still head and shoulders above the material that a lot of other bands put out. As a compliment to Challengers, the band also released a series of b-sides, and when placed alongside the album they do help round it out a bit more. "The Speed of Luxury" almost has a Pixies vibe to it, although it eventually breaks into a familiar-sounding chorus, while "Fugue State" is a more laidback A.C. Newman tune. If you like these songs, you might consider ordering the complete "Executive Edition" of Challengers, which also includes a disc of live songs (assuming it's still available out there).

» Bonus Track: Fugue State
» Buy Challengers on Amazon

Monday, February 18, 2008

The Futureheads - The Beginning of the Twist

The Futureheads' sophomore album News & Tributes was a bit of a disappointment for a lot of fans, and although it had some highlights, I have to admit that it was nowhere near as thrilling or electric as their self-titled debut. But fear not Futurehead-heads... their next record is shaping up to be a fine return to form, bringing back the manic energy and angular hooks that we first fell in love with. This Is Not The World is the name of the album, which will be released on their own label Nul Records this May in the U.K. A North American date is still TBA, and in fact, I'm not sure if they're still on Vagrant in the U.S., or if they were dropped there at the same time that 679 Recordings ended their contract.

"The Beginning of the Twist" will be the first single from the new album, available on CD, vinyl, and as a digital download on March 10th. "Broke Up the Time" is another new song that they released as a free download towards the end of last year. If these tracks don't get you excited, I don't know what will!

» Bonus Track: Broke Up the Time

Sunday, February 03, 2008

The Out-Circuit - Come Out Shooting

When Frodus first broke up, I was heartbroken. And though the members of Frodus have gone to create such diverse creations as Frantic Mantis, Decahedron, The Cassettes, Zealot and Night is Invisible, none of them have really caught my attention as much as the Out-Circuit. I loved their debut album Burn Your Scripts Boys even though it end up being a bit repetitive. That's why I'm glad to see them going in a slightly different direction on their new album Pierce the Empire With A Sound. The new album has a slightly harder sound, as evidenced by the appearance of Sean Ingram of Coalesce and Dustin Kensrue of Thrice, but also maintains the beauty of their first album with some vocal appearances by Rachel Burke of Beauty Pill. While their debut album had a dreamy feel to it, this new album mixes that sound with much harsher textures, and does so beautifully.

Bonus Track - The Contender

Fuck Buttons - Sweet Love for Planet Earth

With a name like Fuck Buttons, you know these guys are out here to eff shit up. For one, judging by their name, we can tell that they definitely have no sense of manners. And for that matter, they don't even seem to care about proper grammar - their debut album is called Street Horrrsing for crying out loud! But what they lack in decorum, they make up for with some chaoticly noisy masterpieces. At times they remind me of a noisier, more rhythmic version of Black Dice, but that doesn't really seem to capture it. There's something else going on here, something much deeper, something almost spiritual.

Friday, February 01, 2008

The Mae Shi - Pwnd

The latest album from L.A.-based spazz rock outfit The Mae Shi finds them moving away from short melody-packed bursts of frenetic noise to somewhat extended, more progressive songs. Although 3 minutes may not seem long for the average band, to The Mae Shi it is almost an eternity. How on earth did they manage to sit still long enough to record a song that is 11 and a half minutes long? Perhaps it has something to do with the departure of founding members Ezra Buchla and Corey Fogel to form Gowns. Either way, it's an interesting direction for them, and without scaring anyone, I have to admit that there are some moments on Hlllyh where I was alternately reminded of Refused, The Mars Volta and Akron/Family. Which isn't to say The Mae Shi have gone prog, but they've certainly expanded their repertoire a bit. The vocals have become shrill and almost unbearable at points (on "Party Politics", for example), but it's still not without its charm. Give these tracks a listen and see what you think.

» Bonus Track: I Get Almost Everything
» Pre-order it on Amazon

Los Campesinos! - Broken Heartbeats Sound Like Breakbeats

This April, Canadian indie label Arts & Crafts will release the first full-length album from Welsh rockers Los Campesinos!. It may seem only appropriate considering that the band are being hyped as "the next Broken Social Scene", but I think those comparisons are more due to the large number of contributors in both bands and the fact that they toured with BSS in the summer of 2006. It's true, they do capture some of the same early 90's indie rock vibe, but Los Campesinos! remind me more of BSS labelmates Stars with some Pixies savagery threatening to break through. Either way, this is one band to keep your eye on in 2008, and Hold On Now, Youngster... is a thoroughly enjoyable listen from beginning to end. ("C is the Heavenly Option" is a Heavenly cover, and a b-side of The International Tweexcore Underground EP.)

» Bonus Track: 2007, The Year Punk Broke (My Heart)
» Bonus Track: C is the Heavenly Option
» Pre-order it on Amazon