Monday, June 03, 2013

Back to Britpop

There have been a few blogs covering Britpop lately; I'm not entirely sure why, but at least some of the writing has been interesting. Chromewaves puts a rather personal spin on things, while Hau Hsu over at The Village Voice takes a more pragmatic approach. Both of these are infinitely more pleasant to read than Duff Mulligan's dissertation on what he considers to be the recent demise of the New York indie scene. Looks like either a university degree in philosophy, or plenty of dictionary and action over there; I think I gagged a bit at the Radio 4 references.

Live Forever was a documentary on the fall of Britpop. There are some classic interviews with Jarvis Cocker, the Gallaghers, and Damon Albarn, but a bit too much time spent chatting with Sleeper's Louise Wener. Then again, she's damn hot, so you can mute it if you want to watch the whole thing without having to fast forward. Beyond that, the focus is narrow, and the whole thing comes across disjointedly, although it's still worth checking out if you're a fan.


Another interesting article posted recently is from Pitchfork's Nitsuh Abebe. It's titled, "The Lost Generation: How UK post-rock fell in love with the moon, and a bunch of bands nobody listened to defined the 1990s."

I'm really sick of reading lame bulletin boards. Why do I do it? It's my perverse sense of voyeurism, maybe.


Vancouver's The Book Of Lists have recently released their first album, titled Red Arrows. The previous self-referencing link includes a capsule review, and some background on the musicians. As of this week, they also have a new website up at They are an excellent band, fusing the sounds of Ride's Nowhere-era shoegaze with 60's pop in the vein of Simon and Garfunkel and The Beatles:

The Book Of Lists - Through Stained Glass
The Book Of Lists - Sweet Malady
The Book Of Lists - Points Of Arrival And Departure

Tuesday, November 07, 2006






Saturday, October 14, 2006


I am moving. My office is moving. And AYF? is moving.

Where? To our own domain.

When? As soon as we've finished getting Wordpress (our blog software) set up and customized.

In the meantime, Unfamiliar Records have released our first compilation, which includes 8 free MP3 downloads. This co-incides with our recent signings: The Weather and The Two Koreas. We are also working with Toronto's No Dynamics.

is co-presenting the Shout Out Out Out Out's show at The Horseshoe in Toronto on November 10th with ATG.

I am helping out by moderating the Toronto message board over at Stillepost. If you're in, or interested in the Toronto music scene (or what's up in most other Canadian cities, as there are forums for each) come over and check it out.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

For the boys and girls

Where was I? Don't even ask.

Lana is busy with school. She is also looking for a job, so if you know anyone who wants to hire a pretty girl to file her nails (and maybe do some music marketing and promotion on the side) get in touch.

Stuart is busy with being busy. Actually, Stuart is busy fronting an indie-rock band we've just signed to Unfamiliar Records. They're called The Two Koreas, and you will be able to get their second album from us starting in early November. This is exciting news, as it pushes us one step further towards the ultimate goal of this site: to somehow socially engineer a Pitchfork reviewer into reviewing his own album. Our mandate was outlined in secret, so don't bother searching the archives.


NO FORMAT presents


@ Sneaky Dee's (Toronto, Canada)

From Brooklyn, New York, this is Harlem Shakes' first time in Toronto. They've already ripped it up in Montreal, and are playing consistently sold out shows in their home town. Now we get to see what it's all about. Indie pop in the vein of The Magnetic Fields, you could also compare them to contemporaries The Spinto Band and Oh No! Oh My!. This is great hook-driven music.

With their first album released least year on Global Symphonic (home to the wonderful Sunset Rubdown), Vancouver's The Book Of Lists bring jangly '60s guitars to bare against walls of distortion and the distinctive vocals of Chris Frey (ex-Radio Berlin). I saw these guys (and girl) play their first shows in Vancouver a few years ago, and have wanted to bring them to Toronto ever since moving back.

Say thanks to Pop Montreal for giving these bands the perfect excuse for a run across the country -- or across the border.

Local guests to be announced. We will have some sort of DJ type person playing between sets.

(I enjoy writing shit like this about as much as I enjoy writing press releases).


NO FORMAT is starting our new weekly in Toronto on the second week of October. We have the location, and we'll announce it soon.

The idea is to somehow - magically - try and move away from the standard indie-rock-new-wave-post-punk-electro or disco-techno-electro format just about everyone has been following for far too long. So we're gonna play nothing but bhangra and zydeco. Oh, and Prince. Lots of Prince. And Madonna for Lana.

As an ammendment to this: if you're in Toronto, go hang out at The Beaver on Queen West and listen to Mikey and Jaime play music every Thursday night. They have the fresh shit, and are keeping it real. Fuck the posers -- serious.


So in the spirit of different, here is some early '80s post-punk for you. OK, not so different (but definitely obscure), Blue Orchids pioneered an interesting mix of Hammond organ, guitar, and off-kilter vocal stylings. Formed by ex-Fall members Martin Bramah and Una Baines, they succeeded in releasing just one album and a series of EPs before disbanding in the early '90s. A few compilations of their work also exist.

One has to wonder if Inspiral Carpets were paying attention to these guys. (And no, I didn't read the Allmusic write-up before putting this together).

Blue Orchids - Agents Of Chance
Blue Orchids - The House That Faded Out


Blue to pink. Ex-Big In Japan's Jayne Casey formed Pink Military in 1978, and had a pretty good run, moving from a traditional post-punk sound, to something more experimental and electronic. Their music is very hard to track down, and if anyone can find a copy of "Is This The End?" I'd love to get it. "Blood and Lipstick" is almost proto-Glass Candy in it's sound, for those in search of modern references.

Pink Military - Blood And Lipstick
Pink Military - Degenerated Man
Pink Military - I Cry


Tony and Angela: thank you for the emails.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Shoegaze Cover Night (Part 1)

Wednesday August 23rd 2006

NO FORMAT presents


Ian Worang (
Uncut / The Two Koreas) - Guitar
Kieran Grant (The Two Koreas) - Guitar
Jon McCann (
Nassau / ex-Guided By Voices) - Guitar
Ian Jackson (
The Diableros) - Guitar
Derek Tokar (Uncut) - Bass
Pete Carmichael (The Diableros) - Bass
David Gee (The Two Koreas) - Drums
Jon Drew (Uncut) - Drums
Stuart Berman (The Two Koreas) - Vox/Percussion


No Dynamics (11:00pm)
The Assistants (10:30pm)
Wyrd Visions (10:00pm)
Fjord Rowboat (9:30pm)

Musical interludes provided by

Design and visuals curated by

TRANZAC (292 Brunswick Ave., south of Bloor) (Toronto, Canada)

$8 in advance, and $10 at the door.

Tickets available at Rotate This and Soundscapes until night of show.

(Please note The Diableros will no longer be playing a solo set, but members of the band will be guesting with The Black Rabbit.)


Direct from my frustratingly slow Hotmail Live Beta inbox to you, are The Isles. A band from New York who - on this track at least - manage to sound almost entirely like The Smiths (without the reference coming off as a diss).

The Isles - Major Arcana

Next, I offer you one track from lost '80s post-punk forerunners, Blue Orchids -- with a write-up, and more music to follow.

Blue Orchids - The Flood


We hope to see some of you tomorrow night. Thanks for your support.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

All in threes

Fujiya & Miyagi are not Japanese, but British -- though like France's Colder, they sound German. Their new album, Transparent Things, is this year's model of motorik Krautrock precision.

Fujiya & Miyagi - Cassettesingle


Bossanova is not a bossa nova band; it's the alias of Vancouver's Chris Torrow, a well-connected indie-rocker with members of The New Pornographers and Black Mountain in his Rolodex. His debut album, Hey Sugar (released this past spring on the recently reactivated Teenbeat label) is an analog-synth-slathered update of Scott Walker-ian pop romantique, but the centrepiece track "Rare Brazil" finds him busting out the Teutonic funk moves of Low-era Bowie.

Bossanova - Rare Brazil


Velocette are not velocettes, nor are they even a band anymore. The long-lost Brit quartet's debut album Fourfold Remedy came out on Wiija Records in 1998 and the band promptly disappeared without incident. But in light of The Pipettes' recent grrl-group redux, it's an appropriate time for a reappraisal. Where the Pipettes proffer a more self-aware synthesis of The Supremes and Le Tigre, Velocette provided a more retro/reverential portrait of Spector producing Stereolab.

Velocette - Get Yourself Together

Friday, August 11, 2006

Heavy Brackets

So, Stuart took off to Chicago last week for what I think might have been the best weekend of shows Toronto has seen this year. From Land Of Talk last Thursday, to Oneida on Friday, Wolf Parade (with Frog Eyes, and Holy Fuck) on Saturday evening, and The Blow on Saturday night, it was a wonderful time.

Land Of Talk have been consistently great every time I've seen them, and this - an off night by their standards - was no exception. Locals The Ghost Is Dancing (who recently signed to Sonic Unyon) and Foxfire Forest kicked things off in pure indie-pop style. We have a nice little scene going on here, and it's good to see a younger generation of artists representing -- I mean, I don't think anyone in Foxfire Forest is over 21-years-old, to look at them.

Oneida absolutely killed it on Friday night. Amazing performance.

Wolf Parade put on the weakest show of all these bands -- hobbled by limited set time and my own high expectations (they offered up only average performances the last two times I saw them, so I was expecting the third time to be lucky). With the hour nearing 7pm, Frog Eyes began the show at (the college jock magnet that is) The Phoenix, followed by Holy Fuck. Wolf Parade closed things out, rushing through their set before the 9pm curfew. They managed to play a quick encore, much to the discomfort of the promoter -- if you book The Phoenix on a weekend, you have to be out of there before The Edge 102 dance party takes over at 10pm.

Following the oppressive atmosphere of The Phoenix, it was a relief to watch The Blow (see also: Y.A.C.H.T.) do her thing a few hours later. She coaxed the indie-rockers at Sneaky Dee's into dancing and even managed to do a little crowd surfing during her meandering, highly theatrical set. Canadancia is what she called it, and we thank her for that.

Overall a great weekend, capped off by good times at the bars and at home on Sunday night.


Cobras Cobras Cobras are a couple guys out of Victoria, BC, making (early) Liars-like noise, backed up by synthesized beats. The two tracks they've made available on their Myspace page show great potential, but they have no label, and no tour plans just yet. We'll have some more insider news on this band in the upcoming weeks.

Cobras Cobras Cobras - Best Of The Best
Cobras Cobras Cobras - Payphone Jr.


A few hours down south (across the increasingly fortified U.S.-Canada border) are Nudge. This sorta-Portland, Oregon-based three-piece also rock the drum machines, but lay a much more delicate set of sounds over top -- managing to create atmospheric electronic music that is actually good (no small feat). Of course, that's not to say they don't get loud or pick up the tempo at times; be sure to check out the live recordings they have on their Myspace page.

Featuring Brian Foote of Audraglint Records (through which they are releasing their next short-format CD), Nudge are currently preparing material for a new album on Kranky, and have previously worked with left-field electro-indie label Tigerbeat6.

With vocals by Josh Blanchard of Plants, "Her Lips" is a real stand-out track here.

Nudge - Her Lips
Nudge - Blon
Nudge - Parade

See also: Strategy, another musical project of Nudge's Paul Dickow.


The Boggs just offered a new version of Arm In Arm (off their recently-released 12") for download. Excellent production on this one; nice remix from Shy Child.

The Boggs - Arm In Arm (12" Version)
The Boggs - Arm In Arm (Shy Child Remix)
The Boggs - The Passage


Watch Glissandro 70 live at Tranzac (backed by Jeremy Finkelstein of No Dynamics on drums). Thanks to Aperture Enzyme.


For those who are unaware of our policy for posting music, we get permission for about 75% of what you can download here, with the rest being (mostly) hard-to-find, out of print, or very obscure tracks. The trend at some "MP3 blogs" to make entire albums available for download (often prior to release) is offensive and inconsiderate to the artists they portend to support.

Please, before you offer the results of someone else's hard work for free over the internet, think twice about the context in which you do it.


That's it for another heavily bracketed update.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Bedroom Creators

Now, more than ever, young passionate singer-songwriters are making music in their bedrooms. They lock themselves up for hours, play all the instruments, arrange and record it themselves and pass out CDs to their friends who pass it along to their friends who post it on the interweb. People who would never know about them become fans, and-- you know how it works.

This kind of indie success is what the many dudes I met while living in Brooklyn are quickly realizing. Nothing is stopping them from following their dreams of making quality music (often about sex, girls, parties, drinking and friends) and distributing it themselves.

There's something about recordings like these that can be captivating. Usually intimate and acoustic, one can't help being touched by the priviledge of listening to these seemingly inner thoughts put to music. And even though they may not be able to record professionally, their music is still reaching people by word of mouth. Isn't that the best way? It just makes it feel so much more personal.

Here are a couple artists that stand out to me, I hope you enjoy them too:

Sean Walsh is a 20-year-old New Jersey native who draws from influences like Hank Williams, M. Ward, Elliot Smith and Bob Dylan. Shifting between up-beat bar-dancing, beer-swigging, bro-hugging good times, and songs filled with insightful lyrics about love and relationships, Sean makes music that leaves you with a sense that he really understands the human condition.

Sean Walsh - Halfway Laugh
Sean Walsh - Wild Eyes

With sarcasm and wit matched by few of his peers, Miguel Mendez released his first solo album on I & Ear Records from Brooklyn. Also a member of Love As Laughter, Tiffany Anders, and J. Mascis, he's often compared to Beck, The Magnetic Fields and Neil Young. Close 'bros, Dios (Malos), did a cover of his song “You Got Me All Wrong”, and it ended up on “The O.C.", but don't let that scare you away -- his music is brilliant.

Miguel Mendez - You Got Me All Wrong
Miguel Mendez - Drinking Beers


I saw Land of Talk last Friday night at the Drake Underground. Looks like Cat Power might have a little competition when it comes to disarmingly awkward feminine appeal.

Whole Lolla Love

Stuart Berman was in Chicago last weekend for Lollapalooza, and has offered his thoughts on the festival. New posts from Lana and Greg (with music) this week.


Though only in its second year post-resuscitation, some people are already calling the annual Chicago edition of
Lollapalooza the northeast Coachella. But instead of mountains, you’re surrounded by skyscrapers — which, given Chicago’s architectural acumen, ain’t a bad thing. Having never attended Coachella, I can only say that Lollapalooza is among the most well-organized mega-festivals I’ve been to — even with some 50,000 attendees at Grant Park each day, I didn’t have to line up for the Porta-potties once, the beer line never topped 60 seconds, they have attractive on-site staff whose only job is to douse you with super-soakers, and the facing-stage set-up meant pretty much every set started on time (with the exception of Lady Sovereign, who apparently needed an extra 20 minutes to pick out her most regal set of track pants). And even with the likes of Blues Traveler and Matt Costa on the bill, the hippie quotient was remarkably low, which was refreshing following a weekend at Hillside.

If Lollapalooza was short on personal discoveries — most of the newer acts were scheduled pre-2pm and were, therefore, missed by those of us who were busy doing lunch runs to White Castle — it did provide the surreal experience of seeing perennial club-level acts receive stadium-sized receptions that would seem otherwise unattainable given their modest record sales. The prevailing theme at this year’s Lollapalooza seemed to be “respect your elders,” even the ones who once told you to “kill yr idols.” Line of the weekend goes to Kim Gordon, who introduced Sonic Youth’s final song, “Shaking Hell,” with: “this one was written before most of you were born.” The moment was as endearing as the song itself was feral: when Sonic Youth were playing the same track 23 years ago for a crowd of 20 in some East Village scum bucket, did they ever imagine that some day it would go over with a cameraphone-waving festival crowd of 20,000?

If Sonic Youth seem nonchalant in their role as parallel-universe festival gods, The Flaming Lips’ Wayne Coyne is, of course, having the time of his freakin’ life, and the time of yours as well. Save for “Vein of Stars,” the Lips’ set list offered few surprises, and after seeing the balloon/streamers/aliens/Santa/nun puppet routine (if such a procession could be called “routine”) a few times, the old-school fan in me wishes Coyne would delve deeper into the canon rather than use up another five minutes of their limited set time trying to coax an extra sing-along chorus to “Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots.” However, the man did score the second best line of the weekend: “We first played Lollapalooza in 1994, with all these great bands: The Breeders, Nick Cave, Guided by Voices… shit, even the Verve were pretty good then.”

But moreso than a coronation for alt-rock's ruling class, this year's Lollapalooza represented the complete, end-game convergence of subculture and corporate branding. The early '90s Lollapaloozas proved that various rogue alt-rock factions could be merged into one giant ambiguous mass (read: demographic) of "otherness"; now those "others" are in their 30s with day jobs and can afford wireless service and gaming consoles . Where the old Lollapaloozas simply had a "second" and "third stage," now it boasts the "AT&T Stage" and the "PlayStation Stage" and the "Bud Light Stage." (Can you guess the name of the only brand of beer available at Lollapalooza?) Not that this should come as any kind of shock — we've been inundated with Xtreme! marketing for a good decade now — but the interesting thing is, at this point, nobody really cares. Aside from a few cheeky comments from Built to Spill and Sonic Youth (Lee Ranaldo: "This one's for all the Bud Light drinkers!"), the brands were as much a part of the festival venacular as "beer tent" and "sun stroke." Ultimately, it's the cost of putting on an event of this magnitude (130 bands in 3 days over 8 stages). Much like the Toronto Jazz festival, which lives and dies by whatever corporate sponsor can ensure its existence each year, Lollapalooza's mandate of presenting emergent indie-rock/rap artists in a populist environment requires a lot more than Perry Farrell's utopian intentions to keep it going. "Hey, you gotta pay your dues/ before you pay the rent," Steve Malkmus sang 12 years ago on Pavement's "Range Life." Now, just substitute the second half of that statement with "before you get your complimentary pair of Adidas."

And hey, after standing for 8 hours a day, much of it on concrete, we're not about to turn down some quality footwear. To recap Lolla's top stories: Sleater-Kinney’s set — one of their last before their imminent break-up — was bittersweet, but the repertoire skewed too much to last year's Woods tour setlists to qualify as a career-capper. Cover me: Calexico paid tribute to the recently deceased Arthur Lee with their Nicolai Dunger-assisted rendition of “Alone Again Or”; Ryan Adams pulled off a jam on Sonic Youth’s “Expressway to Yr Skull” that actually didn’t suck; and The Raconteurs made David Bowie’s “It Ain’t Easy” sound like it was written for them, though the band still come off more like Jack White and his pals dicking around in their jam space than a real threat. Memo to Built to Spill’s Doug Martsch: go to a barber, now (but thanks for closing with “Carry the Zero”). Queens of the Stone Age’s “Song for the Dead” still kills even without Dave Grohl or Mark Lanegan. There are more people who care about Death Cab for Cutie than you could possibly imagine. Kanye West looks really short from 50 yards away. Stars’ Torquil Campbell had the best T-shirt of the weekend: “I Miss Grant McLennan.” (Worst T-shirt goes to the one Stabbing Westward fan left on Earth.) Secret Machines should just play "First Wave Intact" for their entire set. And the third best line of the weekend goes to the New Pornographers’ Carl Newman: “You may not realize this, but our songs have more time signature changes than Coheed & Cambria’s.”

But for the final word, we turn to the thousands of Broken Social Scene fans who screamed for 10 minutes for an encore that wasn’t to be, due to the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ encroaching start time. Cries for “ONE MORE SONG!” turned to “WE’RE NOT LEAVING!” and then finally “FUCK THE PEPPERS!,” as that band’s tour manager allegedly denied the request for a set-time extension, presumably because the world needs longer bass solos. Really, it’s a metaphor for life: you try to do your best and change the world for the better, but The Man still keeps you down with bad white funk.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

We're Imperial

My last blog post was a bit controversial with some people (and yes, I bow out at the point were it gets personal). I'm going to repost something I wrote a little while ago on a message board:

One of the things I've noticed in Toronto is the prevalence of, "if you have nothing nice to say, don't say anything at all" when it comes to local music criticism. I was discussing this with another journalist on Sunday night, and he put it down to the simple fact that you really don't want to deal with someone you slagged off giving you the evil eye from the other side of the bar every time you go out. Nobody wants to name names, except in private.

While I can understand this sentiment, it seems to me a bit of honest criticism can go a long way towards leveling an uneven playing field. Marketing will give mediocre (or even bad) bands enough exposure to generate the sales and tour support for them to make it (Mobile, Pilate, Metric, Alexisonfire, etc.), while most local journalists run circles around saying any of them are crap. Of course, not everyone listens to reviews, but there are a hell of a lot of people who do, and one can argue that these are the very people who are buying records based around heavy rotation on MuchMusic and The Edge (which is bought, not earned).

If Emily Haines or Amy Millan wants to call you an asshole for saying their new albums are poor, tell them to write something better so you can give them the critical acclaim they want. I mean, why isn't there more local media pointing out that Live It Out is bad, and Bedouin Soundclash are not much better than Bootsauce? It seems to be the consensus elsewhere.


Although they've already toured with Weird War (ex-The Makeup) and !!!, San Francisco's Seahorse Liberation Army have yet to make a name for themselves outside their local scene. The lack of front-page exposure is surprising, considering they took responsibility for being the source of Paris Hilton's cell-phone leak (which, I suppose, is on the risky scale somewhere between claiming to be an Al Qaeda operative, and drinking a box of expired grape juice). Anyone know what a "conceptual art outlaw" is?

Regardless, take a bit of the aforementioned Weird War, mix in some of that !!!, add self-mocking socio-political commentary, wrap it up in Franco-synth-pop (with English lyrics), and you have Seahorse Liberation Army. I hear their six-member live show is impressive.

Thanks to ESB for the tip on this one.

Seahorse Liberation Army - Stockhousen For Little Girls That Wish [...]
Seahorse Liberation Army - Play Play Play
Seahorse Liberation Army - We Set Paris On Fire (Radio Edit)


Astute readers might notice Shout Out Out Out Out's full-length album has appeared in our "Best of 2006" sidebar.