Articles posted in May 2010

Reminds me of childhood memories

Victoria Bergsman always washes her shawl with Febreeze
I’m just about to head out the door to go see LCD Soundsystem at the Malkin Bowl and I’m pretty so excited. If I were a bro, this would probably be the time that I would drink a bunch of beers and crank a pump up jam like Guns n’ Roses‘ “Sweet Child o’ Mine.” Except I’m not a bro, so I’m listening to the Taken by Trees cover version instead. It’s a wispy and decidedly Swedish-sounding cover, with the classic guitar riff transposed onto piano as gently pattering drums and acoustic strums keep time. Mostly, the cover is a vehicle for Victoria Bergsman’s voice, as she pronounces the “h” in “when” (0:50) and plays up the nostalgic vibe with dead-eyed sighs and some gorgeous outro harmonies.

Rhetorical reader poll: which Michigan-era Sufjan Stevens song does this remind you of?

MP3: “Sweet Child o’ Mine”
 
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It’s so easy to write a losing song

Cigarettes and alcohol, but no shoes
How much does Attack in Black/Daniel, Fred & Julie songwriter Daniel Romano hate the music industry? This much: his solo debut contains not one but two anti-industry rants which are called “Workin’ for the Music Man” and “Workin’ for the Music Man Pt. 2.” Oh yeah, the album is called Workin’ for the Music Man too.

On the folk rocking single “A Losing Song,” Romano appears to be in the grips of a career crisis, asking, “Why should I even play the chords? / Why should I even make a sound?” Sorry Daniel, I don’t have an answer for you. But the pedal steel leads and falsetto chorus sure are pretty.

MP3: “A Losing Song”
 
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We’ll march through the cities

Club 8 is gonna show you how
There ain’t no party like a Club 8 party. Or at least that seems to have been the band’s motto when recording its latest album, The People’s Record. The ten-song collection, which came out earlier this month, mixes the group’s usual oh-so-sensitive indie pop sound with propulsive worldbeat rhythms and cheery West African guitar lines.

Here’s a remix of the album’s closing track, “Western Hospitality,” by fellow Swedish duo Pallers. The world influences are less apparent on this version, with the Latin rhythms replaced with ethereal synth washes and chilly electro beats. Still, you can catch glimmers of the sunny original in the wordless “whoa-oh” refrain.

MP3: “Western Hopsitality (Pallers Remix)”
 
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Quietly, as autumn comes

If I know Kathryn, she's singing about bagels
Back in summer 2007, I ran into Immaculate Machine‘s Kathryn Calder at a Vancouver jam space. At the time, the singer/keyboardist was rehearsing with the New Pornograpers for their upcoming Challengers tour. She asked me if there was anywhere to eat nearby and I gave her directions to Solly’s, a bagel store that was a couple of blocks away. I hope you found it okay, Kathryn!

Three years and probably many bagels later, she is preparing to release her debut solo album, Are You My Mother?, due out August 10 via File Under: Music. The first single is “Slip Away,” a tinkling ballad with lots of references to autumn, letting go and slipping away (in other words, it’s all about death). Two minutes in, it suddenly explodes with electric guitars and a sublime wordless vocal hook. It sounds like someone has been taking pointers from her uncle Carl.

MP3: “Slip Away”
 
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Trying to be understood

The Cold War-style duck and roll
If you want to feel like a kid rooting through your dad’s old record collection, look no further than Winnipeg’s the Telepathic Butterflies. There are traces of Elvis Costello and the Who in the band’s fourth album, Wow & Flutter, due out June 15—six days before Father’s Day. Coincidence?

Lead single “Circle Man” channels the spirit of 1965, its simple, catchy melodies and psych rock harmonies evoking the Kinks and the Beatles.

MP3: “Circle Man”
 
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I’ve been called a runner

Even the picture is lo-fi
It’s Polaris season and, as I’ve previously discussed, I’ve been catching up on some albums I missed over the past twelve months. Over the weekend, I took a tip from Bryan at Herohill and checked out the self-titled LP by Daniel, Fred & Julie (aka Attack in Black‘s Daniel Romano, Calm Down It’s Monday‘s Fred Squire and ex-Eric’s Trip songstress Julie Doiron).

Wow. I initially wasn’t convinced if an album of traditional folk songs with only two original compositions could be considered as a Polaris contender, but I’m pleased to report that I was totally wrong. Recorded in a garage with no overdubs of edits, it’s a gorgeous collection of skeletal folk and spooky murder ballads. With stunning three-part harmonies and bare-bones arrangements that often consist of nothing other than a strummed acoustic guitar, it’s the kind of timeless album that could have been recorded any time in the last 70 years.

“Runner” is one of the album’s two originals. Written by Daniel and sung by Fred, it’s a tale of a rambling man that’s propelled by dense minor-key arpeggios before slowing to a waltz-time coda. Want proof of the album’s lo-fi authenticity? Listen to the car that drives past at around 1:48.

MP3: “Runner”
 
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Help me back my feet back on the ground

Help them if you can, they're feeling down
Earlier this month, Regina-based powerpop collective Library Voices lost all of their gear in a basement flood. They’re an eight-piece, so that’s a lot of gear. I wrote about the catastrophe for Exclaim! and noted that this marks the second year in a row that the band has lost of its instruments.

Library Voices are currently raising funds to buy new equipment. Not wanting to take without giving something in return, they have posted a stripped-down cover of the Beatles‘ “Help!” on their website. You can download the song for the free and, if you feel so inclined, make a donation to band.

MP3: “Help!”
 
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I was fooling around

Next album: skate punk
It looks like Toro y Moi is eager to divest himself of the glo-fi tag. There’s no chillwaving going on in his latest single, “Leave Everything,” which ditches squishy electronics in favour of a garage-y full band sound.

It’s a bold move to make such a radical departure so early in his career—his debut full-length, Causers of This, only came out in January. Whether or not this risk pays off remains to be seen, since this song isn’t quite as memorable as some of his previous singles. Still, as a genre exercise, it’s an intriguing listen.

The song will be released on 7″ via Carpark on June 20. Its B-side is called “First Date,” which I’m going to assume is a blink-182 cover that sounds exactly like this.

MP3: “Leave Everything”
 
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We were meant to be

I didn't have Bethany pegged as a cat lady
Will Best Coast hurry up and release an LP already? It’s been great listening to Bethany Cosentino’s string of awesome singles over the past year, so I’m getting impatient to hear her punkish girl group pop in installments of longer than three minutes at a time.

Her latest single is a digital-only split with Japandroids, which has been released as a free download via Saucony. The song is called “This Is Real” and it was previously released as the B-side to “When I’m with You.” It checks off all of the usual Best Coast boxes: fuzzy, catchy, romantic.

You can download the song below, or head over to Saucony to check out Japandroids’ contribution as well. The Vancouver duo covered McLusky’s “To Hell with Good Intentions,” although singer Brian King’s campy delivery means that it sounds more like the B-52s.

MP3: “This Is Real”
 
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At night you just fuck off

Henry convinced his bandmates to recreate his favourite scene from Dumb & Dumber
While on assignment at the TELUS World Ski & Snowboard Festival in Whistler, I had two chances to check out Vancouver collective Henry and the Nightcrawlers (show reviews are here and here). The band is fronted by Henry Alcock-White, formerly of Bend Sinister, who is backed by members of the Zolas. Peter Carruthers of Said the Whale is also involved with the project, but his other band’s touring schedule means that he’s frequently absent from the Nightcralwers.

I recently reviewed the band’s self-titled EP for the Georgia Straight. Here’s the Elvis Costello-esque standout “Daytime Friend.”

MP3: “Daytime Friend”
 
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