Articles posted in June 2011

Disappear into the vacuum

Dudes have some stamina
Going to small indie club gigs so often means that I have a lot less stamina during live shows that I used to. As an early teenager, I attended a lot of arena shows, and two hours-plus was the norm.

Last night I watched My Morning Jacket perform for two-and-a-half hours. It was exhausting, and I even sat down a couple of times. I think I might be old. Go to Exclaim! to read my review. Once you’re there, follow the links on the sidebar to see the many articles I’ve written about the band over the past few months.

Here’s the sprawling “Circuital,” which is the title track from the band’s new LP. The album is no Z, but it’s a hell of a lot better than that turd Evil Urges.

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Take the only road you know

Beach creatures
Last week, I wrote a feature about Brasstronaut for The Tyee in which I discussed at length just how awesome of a song “Hearts Trompet” is. The first half is nice jazzy pop tune, but it’s the sweeping second section that makes this one. This is triumphant enough accompany a victory montage at the end of a Hollywood boxing movie.

It comes from last year’s Mount Chimaera.

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Polaris picks 2011, second ballot

Round two, FITE!
My second Polaris Music Prize ballot was due at the end of last week. Normally I would post my ballot in full, but four of my five first round choices made the long list (which I covered for Exclaim!), so it seems a little redundant to list the entire thing.

My numbers one through four are the same as last time (Destroyer, PS I Love You, Dirty Beaches, Diamond Rings, in that order), so I’m just going to round out my list with this:

5. Miracle FortressWas I the Wave?

The ambient pieces are suitably atmospheric, but it’s the pop songs and dance beats that really make songwriter Graham Van Pelt’s electro tune. Highlights include the bass-driven “Tracers” and the ’80s-inflected “Spectre.” Listen to the dreamy guitar-driven cut “Miscalculations” below.

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He’s hard to forget

Ghost in the machine
I’ve only heard a couple of tracks, but Washed Out‘s Within and Without is already shaping up to be one of the albums of the summer. (Summer!) Here’s another completely fantastic cut from the disc called “Amor Fati.” It’s a gorgeous dance cut that’s doused in pillowy new age synths and galloping beats. These are overlaid with Earnest Greene’s signature reverb-swathed vocals. Which don’t sound like Sam Roberts, thank you Tyler. Okay, they kind of do a bit.

I’m going to be listening to a hell of a lot of this until Sub Pop releases Within and Without on July 12.

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A childhood story in my dreams

Ich bin ein Berliner
City is Glass is back with a new EP. It’s called The Diving Bell and you can get it from Bandcamp as a pay-what-you-want download. Below, check out the sombre “Tourist,” which takes the band’s sound into a more expansive, electro-heavy direction than on past works. The enormous, cinematic synths steal the show here.

I wrote about the EP for Exclaim! and interviewed singer Michael Champion about the band’s temporary move to Berlin for the Georgia Straight.

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What’s behind those beautiful eyelids?

Don't worry, be happy
It’s summer, obviously. Yesterday was the longest day of the year. I walked around at sunset and knew that it’s all downhill from here.

But still, summer! Today I spearheaded an Exclaim! article about the most anticipated albums of the summer. It includes Modern Horses by Calgary’s Extra Happy Ghost!!!, which was produced by Chad VanGaalen. Listen to the pensively rocking “So at One” below. A gorgeous female harmony adds a dash of brightness to this awesomely gloomy pop tune, which sounds like an experimental and reverb-heavy take on ’90s alt. rock.

Speaking of summer, I wrote an article about the Vancouver Canadians baseball team for The Tyee. Summer!

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Gathering dust forever

Joseph is my aunt
Vancouver’s the SSRIs specialize in manic, prog-infused hardcore. Side-project Aunts and Uncles are similarly intricate, although the noise is toned down in favour of folksy, orchestral textures. You’ll hear that on the new single “November,” which is filled with fluttering strings and hairpin structural turns.

It comes from the band’s upcoming self-titled EP. Go to Exclaim! for more.

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An angel tattooed to her inner thigh

Just about to go hysterical
How good was the first Clap Your Hands Say Yeah album? Almost as good as the band’s second album was bad. The groups appear to be back on the right track with “Same Mistake,” the first single from the upcoming Hysterical. It’s a catchy, string-assisted dance rocker that’s fast, fun, and unblemished by unnecessary production touches. It’s also not particularly hysterical.

Go to Exclaim! to see my article about Hysterical.

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Tear down this wall

Peak Performance warpaint
Here’s the latest from Vancouver chamber rock outfit 41st and Home. It’s called “Gorbachev,” and it comes from the forthcoming Raised by Wolves EP. Is this the beginning of a tend in Cold War-themed songs?

The song comes from the upcoming EP Raised by Wolves. Go to Exclaim! to read my article for more information.

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A message to articulate

Le freak, c'est chique
Mode Moderne‘s “Undiscovered Country” has a strange tension between darkness and light. It begins with a bouncy, bubblegum-y synth figure, but even by the second chord, a faint tension begins to creep in. The eeriness fully sets in once singer Phillip Intilé enters with his deep, Ian Curtis-esque croon. If you love gloomy, ’80s-tinged electropop, then this Vancouver band is for you.

This infectious song appears alongside “Real Goths” on a new 7″, released through Light Organ.

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