Articles posted in June 2010

Always had a babysitter

Under a blood red sky
My first impression of Eels frontman E was of a death-obsessed dude decked out in Unabomber chic singing depressing lyrics like, “You’re dead but the world keeps spinning,” and, “Novocaine for the soul / Before I sputter out.” But judging by the songs on the band’s latest album, Tomorrow Morning, dude appears to have made some serious progress in therapy. Song titles include “In Gratitude for This Magnificent Day,” “This Is Where It Gets Good” and “I Like the Way This Is Going.” This is some serious “Shiny Happy People” shit.

The first single is called “Looking Up,” and it’s a retro gospel pop tune with rollicking barroom piano, clap-along percussion and Julian Casablancas-style vocal distortion. if you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands.

MP3: “Looking Up”
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I won’t beg

I stole this from Time Out New York
As I wrote about a couple of days ago for Exclaim!, drummer Frankie Rose recently quit Dum Dum Girls. She’s previously been a member of both Vivian Girls and Crystal Stilts. Who can cling to a ramblin’ Rose?

Here’s Frankie’s only officially-released solo single, “Thee Only One,” It came out last fall via Slumberland, and sounds more or less like what you’d expect from someone who has been a member of three fuzz pop bands. Get ready for a shitload of distortion, reverb and sugar-sweet harmonies.

MP3: “Thee Only One”
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I’m not still crazy

A bradley in the headlights
Last night I had a dream that Billy Bragg was a singing a song with the chorus, “I’m walking down the street / Drinking strawberry soda / With the vampire boy.” It was loosely set to the tune of “Another Nail for My Heart” by Squeeze.

The trouble is, aside from the hook, I can’t remember exactly what it sounded like. So I’d like to announce a contest: any musicians reading this should record a version of the song from my dream! Just turn that lyric above into a song and send it to me and I’ll post it. I’m 99 percent sure no one will do this, but oh man, if someone does then it’ll be great. Bonus points if you sing it in a Billy Bragg accent.

Here’s a quirky electro rocker by Vancouver’s bradley. The song’s called “Your Money,” and its comes across as a slightly more aggressive take on ’80s post-punk, with spastic beats and harsh, distorted guitars. There’s a lot of people doing the new wave revival thing, but not many who make it sound quite as jittery or hyper-caffeinated as bradley. If you like this tune, check out his recent MountainTigerWolf.

MP3: “Your Money”
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A prisoner in my home

Committing themselves to this psychedelia thing
Yesterday, I wrote a story about Crocodiles‘ upcoming sophomore LP, Sleep Forever. Head over to Exclaim! to get the scoop.

Stereogum has posted the album’s title track, an awesomely psychedelic rocker that’s steeped in fuzz, echo and reverb. Unlike the group’s previous new wave-inspired material, the new song sounds closer to modern ’60s-worshippers like the Brain Jonestown Massacre and the Dandy Warhols—except without the preening self-satisfaction or rampant douchebaggery, so yay.

MP3: “Sleep Forever”
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If you wanna recreate it for me

Hanging out with his skeleton T-shirt brother
I’ve posted plenty of chillwavers over the last few months, but none of them have managed to top Washed Out in terms of sheer narcotic bliss. The synthpop whiz just released a new track through the Kia-sponsored Adult Swim Singles Program, the typically bleary “You and I.” It features a guest appearence from Chairlift‘s Caroline Polachek, who contributes to the song’s patchwork of vocal samples. She also delivers an awesomely seductive, half-whispered rap that starts right around the 3:23 mark. It’s supremely lovely stuff, just what we’ve come to expect from Washed Out.

MP3: “You and I”
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Sold my only guitar

Where are the mountains?
After garnering plenty of praise for last year’s Hop, Skip & a Jump EP, St. John’s, Newfoundland-based folkie Jon Janes, aka the Mountains & the Trees, is gearing up to release a new full-length. The new disc is called I Made This for You and it’s due out on August 10. Here’s the sweetly romantic lead single, “More & More & More.” Over a reverb-y folk noir arrangement that includes twanging banjo and cavernous surf guitar lucks, Janes promises, “Our love will endure.” It’s a common enough sentiment, but his quiet, whispered singing gives the track the intimacy necessary to make it stand out above all those other love songs by dudes with acoustic guitars.

MP3: “More & More & More”
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I’m free today

Surveying the promised land
Today was my last shift at my day job, which was at an after school centre working with kids aged six to twelve. As of right now, I’m officially a full-time music journalist. Time to start pinching pennies!

To celebrate the occasion, here’s “I Quit My Job” by Old Man Luedecke, from his 2006 album Hinterland. It glorifies a life of unemployed freedom, as Luedecke warns, “Don’t let ‘em take the joy that you make / On your own.” It also offers some useful money-saving tips, most notably, “You can always live on rice and potatoes.” That’s the kind of advice that will help to make this career transition a smooth one!

MP3: “I Quit My Job”
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You’re a burnout too

I hope they're wearing sunscreen
I’ve already spoken about my delayed enjoyment of Dum Dum Girls‘ recent album, the fuzz-friendly I Will Be. Here’s the second single from the disc, “Bhang Bhang, I’m a Burnout.” It’s typical Dum Dum Girls, with buzzsaw guitars, tinny drum loops and girl group harmonies. It’s also got a whole whack of drug references—bhang is a type of marijuana preparation.

If you’ve been indulging in a little bhang, chances are you’ll get a kick out of the song’s trippy video.

MP3: “Bhang Bhang, I’m a Burnout”
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Give me younger us

I totally saw David at Music Waste
I wasn’t a big fan of Japandroids‘ first installment in their five-part singles series, the clunky “Art Czars.” Thankfully, the latest single, “Younger Us,” is much more satisfying. With its big, open chords and wistful remembrances of times gone by, it showcases the sensitive side of the band’s fuzz rock bravado. This is the same nostalgic vibe they conjured up so effectively on Post-Nothing tracks like “Wet Hair” and “Young Heart Sparks Fire.”

It’s out now on 7″ via Polyvinyl (ooh, clear vinyl), backed with a cover of X‘s “Sex and Dying in High Society.”

MP3: “Younger Us”
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Polaris picks 2010, first ballot

My first year as a juror
My first ballot for the Polaris Music Prize is due today. After much deliberation, here are the five albums I’m going with.

This list covers a fairly wide cross-section of Canadian music. Four provinces are represented. I’ve got fuzz pop, folk, jangle punk and dance music. There are albums that sound like they were crafted painstakingly in the studio and albums that sound like shit. That’s Canada for you, I guess.

1. Little GirlsConcepts

Many DIY musicians have cranked the fuzz and reverb on their laptop recordings over the past couple of years, but no one has managed to make it sound creepier than Toronto’s Josh McIntyre, aka Little Girls. His gothic surf jams aren’t instrumentals, but the buried, distorted vocals mean that they might as well be.

MP3: “Youth Tunes”

minibar2. Apollo GhostsMount Benson

The word “funnest” isn’t actually a word, but in the context of Apollo Ghosts, it is. This album is the funnest. The band is still relatively unknown outside of Vancouver, so I can’t imagine that this album will make it onto the long list, but it’s not for lack of talent. Tour, you guys! You could be huge!

MP3: “Things You Go Through”

minibar3. Holy FuckLatin

Sonically, this album is fantastic. It’s got thundering fuzz bass and bludgeoning beats (see: “SHT MTN” or “P.I.G.S.”), but there’s also real beauty and texture—just listen to the synth lines in “Stilettos” or the piano chords in “Latin America.”

MP3: “Latin America”

minibar4. Daniel, Fred & JulieDaniel, Fred & Julie

Authenticity is the name of the game here. Cars drive past, children yell, fingers scrape against strings and guitars fall ever so slightly out of tune as Daniel Romano, Fred Squire and Julie Doiron harmonize beautifully on a selection of traditional folk songs. Initially, I didn’t think an album made up mostly of covers would be a Polaris contender. I was wrong.

MP3: “The Gambler and His Bride”

minibar5. The Besnard LakesThe Besnard Lakes Are the Roaring Night

The Besnard Lakes were the dark horse (LOL) of my list. My number five spot changed many times over the past few weeks, but this was an album that I kept coming back to. There are plenty of shoegaze and prog influences here, but it’s the glimmers of ’90s rock that always seem to catch my ear. Can’t you just imagine Alice in Chains singing the hook from “Like the Ocean, Like the Innocent Pt. 2: The Innocent”?

MP3: “Albatross”
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