Archive for January, 2008

Grandaddy

January 31st, 2008 | Uncategorized | 0 Comments

Who’s the band of the week? It ain’t your momma (though she tried to convince me to make it her…sexually…). It ain’t your pops. It ain’t even your brother-in-law. This week’s band of the week is…

GRANDADDY!!!

Grandaddy got started in the early 90′s making noisy lo-fi indie recordings which helped them build a bit of a fanbase, but it was in 1997 that the group had a bit of a breakthrough with the album Under The Western Freeway. They continued to release critically acclaimed album but broke up in 2006. Listening to them, one can hear where bands like The Shins, Midlake and Beulah got some of their ideas.

Grandaddy’s sound could probably be described as the missing link between Weezer and Radiohead with bits of the Elephant 6 Collectives soundiology thrown in for good measure. Their melodies are solid pop and often very playful yet they dabble in technological experimentation and at times the space inherent in their sound is reminiscent of Nigel Godrich’s production on albums like OK Computer. Singer Jason Lytle sounds alot like Wayne Coyne.

What’s probably most impressive of the group is how current they sound, despite their most popular albums being released a decade ago. It would be only too obvious to say they were ahead of their time.

So check em out, why not? You might really get into them.

Video for “Nature Anthem”: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uSer4wdHvm8warning: features LOTS of people dressed as animals…kinda terrifying…

http://www.myspace.com/grandaddy

The Honeydrips

January 16th, 2008 | Uncategorized | 0 Comments

Do you like your pop sugary and sweet? Well then you know that all the sugary stuff comes from Sweden now right? Peter, Bjorn and John, The Tough Alliance, Jens Leckman: all Swedes with a sweet tooth who released great albums last year. This week’s band of the week belongs in the same crowd. The band of the week is…

THE HONEYDRIPS!!!

With charming mid-fi production that dabbles in beats, spectre-esque reverb and jangly guitars, this mainly one-swede musical project is an absolute wet shroom dream for anyone who likes sunshine, lollipops and Teenage Fanclub albums.

All I’ve heard are the songs on the myspace (I tried to buy the album, at Soundscapes no less) and I already love this artist. The Honeydrips are romantic, cute as the Twee-est bands but their various influences no doubt range from The Byrds to New Order.

This is music to dance around in your room to with a big smile on your face. If it played in a club (and “Try Something New” easily could) everybody there would start hugging. It’s just so lovable and yet so well made and refined.

Check it out, especially the little Smiths nod “I Wouldn’t Know What to Do”.

http://www.myspace.com/thehoneydrips

Woods

January 10th, 2008 | Uncategorized | 0 Comments

So this week I went music digging because it was a great distraction which prevented me from studying for the math course im (just about) failing, does anyone else hate advance functions with a flaming passion?

I’ve been all about little bedroom masterpeices lately. I just love that lo-fi feel of an artist making beauty out of crap. Music sounds best to me recorded on a four-track with cute little bells and fun experimentation and double-tracked vocals. Some of my most endearing albums are those cheap ones that nobody ever heard like Skip Spence’s “OAR” and Chris Bell’s “I Am The Cosmo’s”.

This week’s band of the week used this aesthetic to make a fine little album. The band of the week is…

WOODS!!!

Yeah, another unknown, but that’s what music blogs are for right? Anyways, these guys are in some other band but they decided to go to a cabin in the woods (get it!?) with some recording gear and make an album of quiet, homey yet thoughtful indie-pop tinged with a bit of psych.

The songs are tight but far more interesting is the arrangements and production. Cheap (and gorgeous) sounding vocals in front of murky meat n’ potatoes drums. Fuzzy guitars or sometimes acoustic ones give the songs the requisite feeling they require.

People forget that setting has a huge impact on any album’s sound and feel. It’s one of the most essential things actually. Feist recorded her latest in some old manor or something and The Arcade Fire made Neon Bible in the basement of a church. Why? Because the feeling of an album is possibly the most important thing, maybe even moreso than the actual songs. Take Miracle Fortress’ disc. The songs are pretty good but what makes the album is the feel and production, which is absolutely superb in the vein of Brian Wilson. Woods realized this when they went to the woods and the feel they’ve captured on the songs I’ve heard is wonderful.

Make no mistake, this isn’t Iron and Wine. This is an indie-rock band making folk-tinged indie-psych rock. Think something along the lines of 60′s San Fran stuff, maybe Buffalo Springfield or something (although they were actually LA…same state).

Just check it out already:$

http://www.myspace.com/woodsfamilyband

Top Albums of 2007

January 7th, 2008 | Uncategorized | 0 Comments

Ok, everybody else was making their lists so sue me, I made my own. Here are the picks:

1. The Besnard Lakes – The Besnard Lakes Are The Dark Horse
I’ve fallen in love with this albums murky, layered songs which combine pop songcraft, sophistication and experimentation into something that is classic yet contemporary. It’s indie but it’s not like every other indie-pop album that’s invading the shelves of Rotate Disc. The first time I heard it I didn’t know what was going on; but I knew SOMETHING was definitly going on. Five listens later I was able to delve into the depths of this gorgeous album and discover the beauty of it’s construction. This album is 2007s “Dark Side of the Moon”.

2. Sunset Rubdown – Random Spirit Lover
Produced by the Besnard Lakes’ Jace Lasek, on Spencer Krug’s third album with Sunset Rubdown, he basically explodes the potential he displayed on last years fantastic “I am Dreaming of a Place Where Lovers Have Wings”. This album is bursting with creativity and excitement as keyboards, guitars and cardboard-box-sounding drums are beaten with all the fantastic youthful adrenaline rush of children discovering music for the first time. Spencer Krug is like a child whose dreams won’t stay inside his head. He expresses them in brilliant surreal imagery that rarely makes sense (to me at least) but the universe created is a lovely one to get lost in.

3. The New Pornographers – Challengers
A.C. Newman and crew decide it’s time to grow up. It’s sad but it’s also resulted in their music growing from childish delight into sophisticated artwork. This album got the Pornos their worst reviews yet, but I think those who stuck around and held their faith in Newman and crew were richly rewarded with an album that dared to mature the band and become something entirely new. Songs like “My Rights Vs. Yours” and the gorgeous “Go Places” prove that growing up doesn’t mean dulling down. They’re heartfelt and more meaningful than anything the porno’s have ever lay to wax. “Adventures in Solitude”, with it’s little “We thought we’d lost you/we thought we’d lost you/welcome back” bit, is heartbreaking. Dan Bejar rises to the challenge and delivers his best ever NP songs with the fantastic (and pretty funny) “Myriad Harbour”, the beautiful “Entering White Cecilia” and the great closer “The Spirit Of Giving”.

4. The Arcade Fire – Neon Bible
For the first couple months, everyone was all like “Funeral is better”. Then a bit later everyone was like “actually…Neon Bible’s pretty damn good…”. The Arcade Fire decide to dive headfirst into the darkness of the world and they created a haunting album filled with striking lyrics and majestic orchestral arrangements. Whenever I get my hands on a violin I can’t resist running through the uplifting “Keep the Car Running” and “No Cars Go”.

5. The Thrills – Teenager
Most underrated album ever. The Thrills deliver one of the most classic and consistenly fantastic albums of the year with the appropriately titled “Teenager”. The album poignantly captures the sadness and excitement of our classic teenage years of love, lust, frustration and excitement. The Thrills sound charged with inspiration as their hearts pour out gems like “The Midnight Choir”, “This Year”, “Nothing Changes Round Here” and the sparkling “I Came All This Way”. “I’m So Sorry” makes my eyes water, it’s just so touching. Conor Deasy’s voice is a jewel. Following the Wilson brothers before him, he sounds as if he might be just trying to get these few words out before he breaks down and cries. Like the sunrise after that all nighter or the sunset after sex, “Teenager” is that moment when life’s promise has been fulfilled – but it’s only just begining.

6. BSS Presents Kevin Drew – Spirit If…
Kevin Drew grabbed a bunch of his BSS friends and they all had a great time recording a bunch of great songs that the Feist-dating bastard penned. While the lyrics are fucking ridiculous as usual, that’s not a bad thing, it’s just the way Drew writes and occasionally the scronk he ends up with is beautiful and honest amidst the logical and even grammatical errors. The music is pure BSS joy with indie-rock guitars, beat-tastic drums, synths, horns, violins and the greatest female voices in Canada all doing their part to make Drews compositions come to life in the gorgeous, blissful indie-rock style that BSS has claimed as their own. The two singles “Backed Out On the…” and “TBTF” are both fantastic but it’s gems like “The Lucky Ones” that make “Spirit If…” one more fantastic album to add to the gazillion in the fantastic BSS-related discography.

7. The White Stripes – Icky Thump
I dont know what makes Icky Thump work as a single but somehow it did. If you ask me, it’s a cool song but it’s not a classic kick-ass single in the way that “Seven Nation Army”, “Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground” and “Blue Orchid” were. Anyways, the album attatched to it sees Jack White rejoicing in the powers of rock once more after the subtly-dark Get Behind Me Satan. Jack’s packed up and moved to Nashville, gotten married and already had a kid since that album so it’s not a big surprise that Icky Thump sounds a bit different from the last masterpeice. As usual, the White Stripes experimentation continues without sacrificing their pop genuis in songs like “Prickly Thorn but Sweetly Worn” (better known as the one with the bagpipes) and their brilliant cover of “Conquest”. Other songs such as “You Don’t Know What Love Is” and “I’m Slowly Turning Into You” are jam packed with hooks and sharp lyrics.

8. Feist – The Reminder
This album is lower on the list because it’s a bit messy but it is one fucking hell of a classic if I ever heard one. In comparison to the warm and emotional “The Reminder”, “Let It Die” feels cold and plastic. “The Reminder” feels like a labour of love that was destined to be something special. All the little touches that make this album special (bird chirps, the atmospheric recording location) paid off and now, what do you know, Feist’s a fucking superstar. Shut the fuck up hipsters! Your gonna complain that now I might just hear a half decent song when I turn on the radio? Feist has proven with this album that she’s a cut above every other chanteuse with a smooth voice and a good dosage of “auditorium” reverb.

9. Wilco – Sky Blue Sky
“Maybe the sun will shine today/the clouds will go away/maybe I won’t be so afraid.” This year I realized something – Jeff Tweedy is a fucking master. The guy writes lyrics better than 99% of other lyricists out there. I’ve read his lyrics and they’re fucking serious literature. On this album Tweedy continues to move further away from the experimentalism that characterized the band’s classic “Yankee Hotel Foxtrot”. This however, is not a bad thing because Tweedy continues to improve his songwriting and everything changes only in less technological ways. The addition of Nels Cline to the lineup makes a big difference especially in the orgasm-worthy jam in “Impossible Germany”. The album ends with the gorgeous “On and On and On” which rises and falls with an epic string arrangement.

10. Miracle Fortress – Five Roses
Yes, I think I enjoyed this album more than “In Rainbows”, “Person Pitch”, “Strawberry Jam” and “Kala”. Those are all fine and incredibly accomplished albums but Miracle Fortress’s Beach Boys-as-interpreted-by-My-Bloody-Valent
ine production hits me in a special place. It’s not even the songs, some of which are amazing (“Hold Your Secrets To Your Self”, “Have You Seen In Your Dreams”) but its just the feel of this whole album and the potential displayed. I wish more albums just shimmered with the psychedelic rainbow sunshine pop of this album.

Guide to Shoegazer

January 7th, 2008 | Uncategorized | 0 Comments

Well, I’ve found that there might actually be one or two individuals who don’t mind these AND there’s a couple who enjoy one of the greatest and least known genres in music. The majestic shoegazer genre.

WHAT IS SHOEGAZER?

Shoegazer was this amazing style created around the late 80s/early 90s in which bands would use effects pedals to create huge spectre-esque walls of sound/noise and usually bands would sing overreal melodies over these. Often they would have repitive basslines and hypnotic rythms. It was called Shoegazer because the band’s were known to stand stationary onstage, staring at their feet (they had to because they used so many pedals).

THE JESUS AND MARY CHAIN

Possibly the first shoegazer and if not, they definitly laid out the groundwork. These scots combined the noisy template of the Velvet Underground with the wall of sound of Phil Spectre and the pop sensibilities of his girl groups to create a unique and strikingly cool sound in the mid-80s. Their song’s alternate between harder rocking songs with spiked guitars and softer, melodic bubble-gum pop songs coated in feedback. Everything is sung in their zombie baritones and you don’t need to see them to know that they never take off their sunglasses.

http://www.myspace.com/thejesusampmarychain

Just Like Honey Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zvBlKcyfeoU (these guys had the WORST hair stylist on earth)

THE COCTEAU TWINS

This UK act combined surreal soundscapes with indiciferable lyrics and gorgeous melodies. Singer Elizabeth Fraser never sang her lyrics like they sounded and understanding what she’s saying is next to impossible…but it all sounds really cool. Guitarist Robin Guthrie used crazy effects to make everything sound like a dream and Elizabeth Fraser acted as the siren who just floats upon it all. The Cocteau Twins, like TJMC, are debatably shoegazer but moreso they’re pioneers of what was to become shoegazer. Still, their music is gorgeous, if slightly dated.

http://www.myspace.com/cocteautwinsmusic

Stills Video for Pandora: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rAckMJd8zlA

MY BLOODY VALENTINE

The definitive shoegazer band. No band better exemplifies what shoegazer is and what could be done with it than Kevin Shield’s legendary crew. In no other genre is their a band or artist that completely defines their genre as definitively(maybe folk-rock and The Byrds, but that’s all I can think of right now). Their two best albums, Isn’t Anything and the classic Loveless, are both brilliant. The first is a little more of it’s time with more of a grungy-90′s alt rock feel while Loveless feels completely unique. Their lavaesque waves of guitar are absolutely stunning and their melodies were miles ahead of everyone elses. They played so loud that their bassist punctured an eardrum onstage. If you check out one shoegazer band ever, check out My Bloody Valentine.

http://www.myspace.com/mybloodyvalentine

Sometimes (fan video w/ lost in translation footage): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hNTn-guJ3mw&feature;=related

SLOWDIVE

An incredible shoegazer band but very different from MBV. While most shoegazers followed MBVs template, Slowdive did their own thing and came up with their own fantastic version of shoegazer. Their sound was less noisy and more atmospheric and their pop sensibilities were less ethereal and more spacey. Newer bands like Young Galaxy and The Besnard Lakes owe alot to Slowdive’s heartbreaking sound.

http://www.myspace.com/slowdive2006

Allison: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ol787NjpBS4

SWERVEDRIVER

Swervedriver were a much harder shoegazer band than any of the aforementioned. Most Shoegazer’s wrote slow, dreamy songs while Swervedrivers were straight ahead rock but tinged with shoegazers psychedelic touch. Their sound hasn’t aged as well as Slowdive and MBV’s have but they still sound great, especially classics like “Never Lose That Feeling”. Their bright noisy guitars are fantastic.

http://www.myspace.com/swervedriver

Never Lose That Feeling: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qWE71HUXIbY

THE BOO RADLEYS

A band that evolved with the times, though they began as shoegazers. The Boo Radleys never got much attention outside of Britain though they were skilled popsters. They only used a bit of the shoegazer template to give their early sound more character. Even so, if your looking for more shoegazer because (like me) there’s just not enough, check them out.

http://www.myspace.com/78955129

Lazarus: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Rff9UPbrJk&feature;=related

Other shoegazers include Catherine Wheel, Ride, Loop, The Lilys (very good band), Moose and Lush. Check them out if your interested in hearing more shoegazer.

Anyways everyone, have a happy new year and hopefully 2008 will be a kick ass year. How could it not be? My Bloody Valentine are reuniting for it!

David Vandervelde

January 7th, 2008 | Uncategorized | 0 Comments

So, if anyone’s been reading my blogs for the last bit they’ll know that I love love love the band The Besnard Lakes. Their deep, thick shoegazer-meets-indie sound melds some fantastic influences into something completely new and fantastic. They recently posted a little myspace blog and named an album called The Moonstation House Band their favorite album of ’07. That album is by this week’s band of the week…

DAVID VANDERVELDE!!!

So those of you who follow my shit know that sometimes I choose well known bands, sometimes not. This time is a “not”. But! We can play the six degrees of seperation game with him just like anyone. David Vanderveldge co-produced Jay Bennet’s “The Magnificent Defeat” and Jay Bennet was in Wilco and Wilco kicks ass (and I believe they were band of the week a while ago). Anyways.

What does he sound like? He sounds EXACTLY LIKE T-REX. So if you dug T-Rex you’ll like David Vandervelde. His spacey pop sounds like T-Rex to a T except that he isn’t so obsessed with 50′s style boogie like Marc Bolan was. The lo-fi production might not be for everyone but I love it. It reminds me of some of my favorite “lost masterpiece” albums like Chris Bell’s “I Am The Cosmos” and Skip Spence’s “OAR”. His vocals are a little more emotive than Bolan’s were (and sometimes they’ve got a sort of country twang to them) though they’re just as adorable.

Check out his myspace here: http://www.myspace.com/davidvandervelde

Watch the video for the “Jacket” and perhaps I’ll let you know how the album is when I find it. And I plan to.