Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Review: Broken Social Scene - S/T

When a friend asks for your opinion on something they've done, it's always difficult. When it's art, it can be a real bitch. What if it sucks? What if it not only sucks, but you think they display no obvious talent for what they're doing? It's tough to be pragmatic, but over the years I've come to a conclusion: Lying to my friends about my impression of their artistic work only leads to a feeling of hollow guilt. I'd rather be honest.

Last week, the Broken Social Scene album was leaked (unintentionally, and apologetically) to a ravenous audience of indie rock fanatics. Message boards were rife with Torrent requests and Slsk usernames, and the requisite, but pointless, "you assholes stop stealing their music" responses. A couple guys from the band and their label, Arts & Crafts, spoke out, but in the end, everyone resigned themselves to the conclusion that you can't stop the interweb steamroller once you've started it.

My friend Justin Peroff, drummer for BSS, asked me if I'd heard the album. "No," was my answer. "Well go download it and tell me what you think," he replied. So here it is, after having listened to this thing on a daily basis for a week straight, I have my answer, and fortunately I can say - ostensibly without bias - that it's really good.

This is not You Forgot It In People. I mean, there are strong echoes of their previous work and a similar structure, and there is the same texture, but the tone is different; it's bigger, and far more ambitious. Maybe some will argue that the production is overblown -- indeed, it is dense, and this is obviously a studio album, but it manages to succeed by way of honest intentions and Dave Newfeld's deftness behind the board.

"Major Label Debut" is perhaps the track which draws the closest parallels to what we heard on You Forgot It In People, with it's distinct vocal harmonies and laid back guitar work. It's the kind of song you want to lose yourself in through it's glistening crescendo and subtle string treatments. Haha, glistening crescendos. What bullshit! Anyway, it's very good, no matter what spin you put on it.

The rest of the album is a producer's wet dream. The swirling mix that surrounds Kevin Drew's voice on "Fire Eye'd Boy," sitting distincly above a driving drum track, sounds like it was a hell of a lot of fun to build up and break down. There is so much going on here; a few notes of a piano hidden in the far recesses of the backing track surprised me one day, and opened up an entirely new facet to the song -- a very good sign.

"Windsurfing Nation" and "7/4 (Shoreline)" have already received an almost universal positive reponse from both the critics and the casual listeners. The only aspect of these songs I can take issue with is k-os. He is a wholly unnecessary gimmick laid into "Windsurfing... ," and almost breaks the song for me. Almost. He only has a few seconds of face time, so I can forgive this descent into mid '90s cliche.

As I was drifting off to sleep last night, I kept thinking: this record is walking a razor's edge between timlessness and timeliness. With all of the sugary production loaded into it, it teeters dangerously close to being one of those releases that dates itself very quickly. You know, like Jesus Jones' Liquidizer, to use an extreme example. What keeps things together are the excellent hooks and harmonies which move through every track. So when you hear a hushed "check it," prior to the beginning of Hotel, and the drums kick in with the shuffle and fervor of an Andy Votel remix, and just when you're ready to say, "oh shit, this is so..." the ethereal melodies start to creep together, and the horns come in - in a good way - and you shut up and listen.

I can't say everyone is going to appreciate the new Broken Social Scene record, but I can urge you to give it more than one listen. One drunken evening, around the time of the leak, someone said to me, "but it has no singles on it," which concerned me and spurred a brief and embarrassing indie-rock debate. Now, after repeated listens, I think part of the reason for this impression is the album's strength as a whole.

So there you go Justin. I will offer you up a Pitchfork-esque 8.5 and congratulate you on sticking it out; not succumbing to the pressure. I know this one was punishing to put together, and you guys did a great job.


Weeks back, I promised I'd put up some MP3s from Austin's lost, Beatles-loving indie rockers, Cotton Mather. I finally tracked down their only consistently good CD - Kontiki - amidst the pile of music taking over a good portion of my living room, and I am happy to report that a few of these songs still have the same impact they did five and a half years back. Big thanks to my friend Marc who I was working with at Nintendo in Seattle for introducing me to these guys.

The band has long since dissolved, but have left behind an almost Spoon-like offering in Kontiki -- at least, when it isn't spiraling into over-wrought Lonely Hearts Club devotion (sorry Marc, I don't share the love in quite the same way).

If I mentioned that the Gallagher brothers thought these guys were the second coming, and championed them until the end, it'd probably be to their detriment, wouldn't it? Oh well, I tried to ignore that fact, and so can you:

Cotton Mather - Homefront Cameo
Cotton Mather - Private Ruth
Cotton Mather - Vegetable Row
Cotton Mather - She's Only Cool


I'm off to The Beaconsfield for some slow jams. The remainder of this promised update will come tomorrow.

Monday, August 29, 2005


Jaime says I need to stop arguing with people about music on message boards for fun. It's a really sick hobby of mine -- something I've done since the early days of alt.rave and (roughly 1991/1992). Today I raised the ire of someone who was a huge fan of early emocore. He called me a hack.


Back to what I consider to be the cool computer shit:

I used to go to my dad's old office in the late 80's and play a game called
nethack (based off Rogue) on their Unix system. This is epitome of computer-based D&D to me: My early teenaged self, a green glowing monitor displaying ridumentary ASCII graphics, a book of graph paper, and my imagination. There were days when I dreamed of playing that game with more than one person at a time.


Faunts are from Edmonton, and recently signed to Friendly Fire Records. Their music is cute, much like their name:
Faunts - Memories Of Places We've Never Been

Mobius Band have a new album out on Ghostly International. It was ripped apart at Pitchfork; I have
yet to hear it myself, but I do like this song:
Mobius Band - The Loving Sounds Of Static

Gang Of Four also have a new album (Return The Gift) with a US release date of October 11. It includes re-recorded versions of their older tracks:
Gang Of Four - Damaged Goods (2005)

Funtime OK recently wrote about Jaime Stewart's pre-Xiu Xiu project, Ten In The Swear Jar:
Ten In The Swear Jar - Hot Karl
Ten In The Swear Jar - When You Write
Ten In The Swear Jar - San Jose Fight Song
Ten In The Swear Jar - Sad Girl


Thanks to Onelouder for linking to the Juan Maclean interview.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

No No No

Everywhere I go I am surrounded by musicians. The artist behind these next few songs is Astral is Annie, who is actually Tanya Coghlan; she happens to have something to do with publishing at what may or may not be a major label. I know how some of you feel about companies like Universal, EMI, and Warner, so let's not get into one of those discussions, OK?

From Tanya: "Overanalyzing was recorded and produced by Marty Kinack and Luke Doucet in my basement a couple years ago. Marty is my roommate and has produced records for Sarah Harmer, Matt Barber and Raising The Fawn. He is also the sound guy for Broken Social Scene, Sam Roberts and Sarah Harmer. The guy is never home! Luke Doucet is a solo artist and also plays with the band Veal."

For someone who claims she can't really play the guitar, these are remarkably good tunes, and as basement recordings, they sound great. A friend of Tanya's had this to say: "Astral is Annie's stark songs are uncomfortably-personal confessions and painful over-examinations of love-gone-wrong. But what else would we expect from the girl who spent too much time in her room with Leonard Cohen LPs." Funny that, she's always so nice in her cute summer dresses. Who would've known?

Astral is Annie - Overanalyzing
Astral is Annie - Obvious Perhaps


Let's flip the switch. Run-Roc Records is all about the electronics and the punk. Well established producers, the guys behind the label (D. McNany and DaveZero) were recording The Rapture's new demos, and have been releasing some excellent - progressive - music in the post-disco-punk-crash.

Jonathan Vance is one of the label's highlights. I posted an older track of his track a few weeks ago, and today I'm hosting a newer one. Through an artist promotions site, I found a one-sheet which documents Vance's history back to the 80's, where he sang in a "highly influential" hardcore band (Moss Icon); one that, evidently, set up the blueprint for what we know as emo-core.

Fuck those one-sheets, alright? Emo-core. Genrification. Anyway, perhaps someone can shed some light on whether it was Moss Icon or Fugazi who were the earliest stylistic example of emo. I was too busy listening to The Stone Roses to pay attention, and the interweb reports seem to be conflicting. [ I know this is a horrible over-simplification, so please, fans of emo, don't get upset at me. ]

Jonathan Vance - Sylvia The Eagle

When not releasing other people's music, the Run-Roc crew are collaborating on projects of their own:

Neutral Mute - Doo-Right
Neutral Mute - No No No

Let It Burn - No No Tremolo (a Run-Roc co-production)


Why do I like 20 Jazz Funk Greats so much? Because they drop shit like this:

Justice - Waters of Nazareth
Brooks - Roxxy (Hot Chip's Mix)


What's up with the gold-flecked, designer-punk styles in Toronto's chic-hop scene? Hehe. Chic-hop.


I am going to wait before posting my Broken Social Scene review. The album is very dense; it needs some time to sink in. My only complaint right now are the 10 seconds of Windsurfing Nation on which k-os appears (and actually says the words, "ghost," "in" and "the machine," in a row without pausing). I know he's friends with some of the guys in the band, but it seems so incongruous to the song; early-90's kitsch.


A good straggler:
Martin Peter - Psychoville

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Interview: The Juan Maclean

This was supposed to be the feature article in this week's Terminal City. Unfortunately, DFA Records cancelled The Juan Maclean's Vancouver show, so it was pulled at the last minute.

Next interview: Tom Vek.

Tomorrow: A full review of the new Broken Social Scene album, and music from Astral is Annie.


Back in 1992, a couple friends down in Rhode Island formed a band called Six Finger Satellite. Only a year on, they signed to Sub-Pop, and quickly developed their sound into a unique new-wave post-punk freak-out – years before it was popularized and co-opted into the genre that became known as dancepunk. From the ashes of Six Finger Satellite we now have The Chinese Stars (along with members from Arab On Radar), and The Juan Maclean – two projects which share a common ancestry but sound absolutely nothing alike.

John Maclean (aka The Juan Maclean) left Six Finger Satellite to escape from the rock'n'roll lifestyle. "I moved out to the woods in New Hampshire. I went to school and got my degree, became certified to teach English. I taught English, music, and art in a juvenile detention facility, working with youthful offender types. I sold all most of my music equipment, vowing to never become involved in making music again."

OK, so some serious shit obviously went down, but through it all, John never lost touch with his friend and The Satellite's producer, James Murphy. In order to further his production work, and set up a home base, Murphy, along with Tim Goldsworthy, were in the process of setting up a studio in New York called DFA (Death From Above). Yes, these are the same guys who got Toronto's DFA to change their name to DFA1979 – next time you're at one of DFA1979's shows, and you're up front, ask Sebastien (the drummer) about it.

Eventually, Murphy managed to convince John to start making music again - this time for The DFA - under the name The Juan Maclean. Propelled by the popularity of the label's other acts (The Rapture, LCD Soundsystem), John's dancefloor-oriented 12" releases reached a receptive audience who kept wanting more. I asked John how the album came about: "At first, it was just releasing 12"'s, working on them for literally like a year at a time sometimes. I was working a lot, getting divorced, that sort of thing. I had no idea it would blow up the way it did. When things took off, then I started thinking in terms of an album, and straight away knew that I didn't want to release an album that was a collection of previously released 12"'s."

Maclean's debut album, Less Than Human, features only one of the established hits which first brought his name to our attention. Instead of feeling recycled, it sounds completely fresh, with some serious legs – there are quite a few tracks which, while not instant dancefloor killers as presented on the disc, will offer up many months worth of remix opportunities (as evidenced by the lead-off single, Tito's Way, which was released as a 12" double-pack, with three new mixes.) With help from vocalist Nancy Whang, Maclean has added a solid dose of human presence to the album, which is an ironic twist, given the title.

Less Than Human traverses the electronic landscape from atmospheric lounge tunes with syncopated beats to deep electro and techno, to disco-funk. Give Me Every Little Thing, the only track to be previously released, is already a crowd pleaser with it's synth-pop hooks, catchy bass, and soul-influenced vocal – but even with the big sounds of some of the songs, the pacing of the album allows it to remain listenable within the confines of your home. The organic nature of the percussion is in keeping with the DFA tradition, and recalls early-80s touchstones Liquid Liquid, Public Image Ltd., and Gang of Four. John's more electronic influences are as one would expect, "loads of disco, particularly Moroder productions. Detroit stuff, [like] Juan Atkins, Derrick May, [and] Carl Craig, [and] Chicago [producers], Mr. Fingers and Frankie Knuckles."

"In many ways albums are my favorite format, I love records, with the artwork and all that. But for me, it is a grueling process, really torturous, because I want it to be a great album, not a collection of tracks featuring one single available for download, and 45 minutes of filler that is not worth the 1's and 0's it is printed on."

I have to hand it to John for being such a nice guy through the entire interview, even when I asked him some horribly inappropriate questions about my own relationships. We're talking about a guy who has been around the block more than once – who has left music, come back, and succeeded not only at making a name for himself, but doing so with a completely different sound and attitude. After our quick digression into love and life, John finished things off with some glib, self-effacing humor: "It's 3am and I am in Mexico City. I'm listening to Underground Resistance and asking myself what I'm doing in Mexico City at my age playing music so that girls in their 20's will like me." How it is, man. How it is…

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Sinnn Jamz

Today, we have a guest blogger -- Jaime Sin. Yeah, she's really fucking cute, OK? The girl is hot. And she's into cool music, and interesting cinema (CINEMA! not your silly movies) and she started Toronto's successful Shack Up weekly with Mikey Apples, over at The Queenshead on Thursdays.

If Lastnightsparty was in Toronto, they would have pictures of Jaime all over the place. She'd have her own page. She'd run the damn thing. HAHA. OK, that shit is gay, I'm so kidding. I won't even link it.

She doesn't have a webpage, and she would probably kill me if I posted the address to her Friendster account, so you'll just have to masturbate to her words.


Orange Juice - Falling And Laughing
I live inside this song, this song lives inside of me. Absolutely my fave discovery of the past year. The story behind my coming across this tune is that one winter day I was sitting around with Soulseek, when lo, a message box popped open and all of a sudden I was communicating with an Austrian fella about rolling valleys, teenage zines, Viennese actionists and so forth. I was surprised to learn that he wanted to come to Toronto to study art. We communicated a few times thru email and soon lost touch. One of these emails was charmingly titled "you can't hide your love forever." Intrigued, I Googled it, and found that it was the name of an album by a Scottish band from the 80's called Orange Juice. "Falling And Laughing" is the first cut off that record and it is home to some of the most romantical, wistful, and happy-sad lyrics I've ever heard. A comp called Orange Juice and The Glasgow School is out now on Domino.

The Howling Hex - Activity Risks
Hey did anyone even listen to this record? 'Cos I think this song is the best! 5 minutes long and keeps sounding like it's all gonna fall apart at any time. I could go into the lineage of The Howling Hex but I'm sure everyone who has spoken of them has already done that. So just LISTEN!

The Homosexuals - Divorce Proceedings From Reality
This is a frantic minute and 15 seconds of "is this song for real??" Stuff keeps happening and then it's all over oh-so-soon.

Annie - Heartbeat (Maurice Fulton Mix)
Annie, Annie, Annie. Yes, this was Pitchfork's #1 single of 2004 and with GOOD REASON I say. Every time I hear this song... still! The lyrics are so crush-worthy I swoon every time (stop laughing at me) - even when I'm in the middle of listening to it while working my cruddy job. Anyway, get that Mu guy Maurice Fulton to remix the shizz and you've still got a squelchy hot track even though the lyrics become pretty much non-existent. What is it with these euro pop stars anyway? That Robyn track?!? WHOA!!!

Benji Cossa - April
You follow a link and another one opens up... on The Social Registry is this pretty indie pop ditty that I came across whilst downloading from their free music section. Check the site if you dun'know, they are also releasing records by such underground 'luminaries' as Blood On The Wall, Psychic Ills and Gang Gang Dance.

Old Time Relijun - Your Mama Used To Dance
This isn't out yet but I caught a whiff of the new Old Time Relijun when I was in Rotate today and I almost immediately rushed up and asked them what it was. I haven't done that since around the same time last year when they were playing "someone from England called MIA or something", 'cos you know, those Rotate peeps are always playing like, grindcore or whatever when I go in there ;). Anyway, it sounded real good and it's out on K in September. Listen to my ears. They tell truths...

So can I have my own blog now?

[ You can have whatever you want, Jaime... whatever you want. ]


Everything is way better when you put a z on the end.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Vila's Lack Of Irony

The No Dynamics shows last weekend were a wicked mix of ups and downs. I won't bother with the low points -- but the high point, musically, was the last song of the last set by No Dynamics on the second night. We had our collective minds blown.

Socially, the high point also came on the second night. This guy showed up wearing a Union Jack vest, and pants printed with the American flag -- on his head was a camouflage hood with rough eye holes and little ear things on it (those were unintentional, but a nice touch). Anyway, I told my friend Kathryn to go over and ask his stance on the Iraq war; I mean, obviously the guy is all about Iraq, given his sovereign alliegances and the camo headgear. At least, if he's going to wear that shit, he'll have something funny to say, right? Wrong. Dude is like, "no point. Just ridiculousness." She pressed the issue, and the answer again was, "just ridiculousness." The unhappy target walked off, and we were both wholly let down.

Turns out the guy is the singer for one of the bands who was playing -- Panzram's Ghost. Kathryn runs up during the set and grabs his jacket and puts it on. She runs back and tells me it smelled pretty bad. He is skinnier than me. I am reminded of prisoners of war.

Later, in the bathroom, I'm washing my hands and I hear a couple guys behind me chatting. One of them says, "man, people are saying stuff to me about my outfit." It's the singer; he'd obviously changed after his set. His friend looks at him:

"Really? Who? Like what?"

"Oh you know, just people. They asked me what I thought about the Iraq war!"

"No way man. Why are people like that?"

(This is where my alchoholic memory-loss kicks in, but the conversation went something like...)

"Yeah, it's like they don't get just doing things for no reason."

"Yeah, they shouldn't take it so seriously."

This was priceless -- I washed my hands for a while as I looked at them in the mirror. It was funny, and even though I had this little voice inside me begging to make it's way out my mouth, I managed to hold it in and enjoy the moment all to myself.


I am a huge computer nerd. If you are also a huge computer nerd (who's birthdate is prior to say, 1976), you will appreciate Engadget's throwback to 1985. So damn cool; I remember it all vividly. This is style.


Group Sounds are from New York. They're a bunch of really nice guys (who make catchy music), and they're going to be playing our No Format Halloween show in October along with Uncut. With all the buzz surrounding them these days, a label deal and album release can't be far off. Check out their new video, and some of their music:

Group Sounds - Things Fall Apart
Group Sounds - Business Before Pleasure (repost)


A preview from GoGoGo Airheart's new album, RATS!SING!SING! (awesome title):
GoGoGo Airheart - So Good

Saturday, August 20, 2005


Due to capacity issues, the No Dynamics show tonight has been moved to Tranzac (292 Brunswick Avenue at Bloor in Toronto).


Our previously unannounced guests, Republic of Safety, will be opening for The Two Koreas tomorrow at The Social.


As if on cue,
two days after being written up on this blog, GoGoGo Airheart have updated their website with tour dates and an official announcement and release information for their new album. Amazing.


My Juan Maclean interview will be published next week in Terminal City. He's a really interesting guy, and was more than happy to answer all my questions, including some which I won't be including in the printed copy:

GI: Why is it that I keep dating these 20-year-old girls? It's fucking ridiculous.

JM: Dude, if I could answer that question, I wouldn't have the lineage of destruction behind me that I have in terms of aborted relationships. I'm over 30, and I'm still with girls in their 20's, but it's creeping up closer to 28 and 29. The short answer is, 20 year old girls are hot.


The weekend of September 16th is the Ear To The Ground festival in Toronto. Check out their site for a list of bands and their set times. It's an amazing line-up, including a performance by locals Girl + The Machine.

A new discovery for me, Girl + The Machine conjure images of late-era Souxsie with a penchant for mod. They're an interesting mix of sequenced drums, accented vocals, and post-punk guitar with a slice of dub just to keep things level.

They're on at 11:15pm, Saturday September 17th, on the SubUrban (who thinks this shit up?) stage, between Solvent (yawn) and controller.controller. Sorry Solvent fans; I find his stuff fits nicely within the disparaging moniker of "coffee-table-jazz." You know? Like atmospheric drum and bass used to.

Girl + The Machine - Dharma
Girl + The Machine - Inside Outside
Girl + The Machine - We Take The Train


When Vitaminsforyou played at our second No Format: Toronto show, he impressed the hell out of everyone there, including myself. Live lap-pop generally falls flat for me, but Bryce has the unique ability to hold audience attention from start to finish. During sound-check the guys working at the bar were calling their friends to make sure they made it out to the show that night -- impressive.

I'll name-drop some comparisons again: Ms. John Soda, The Postal Service, Caribou, Plaid. A new album is almost complete -- more information on that soon.

On the exclusive tip, here are a few tracks Bryce was nice enough to hand over for download:

Vitaminsforyou - Being Away Fame (A Song For Xenophobes)
Vitaminsforyou - It's Always Raining In Dublin
Vitaminsforyou - The Ukrainians


Shout out to Zoilus (aka Carl Wilson) for placing this site on his permanent links list. Word.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005


20JazzFunkGreats have out-done themselves today. Wicked post, guys.


The next monthly NO FORMAT show, on Wednesday September 7th, is almost finalized. In keeping with the concept, we're switching things up -- a lot. More info soon.


I only picked up on GoGoGo Airheart after they were signed to Gold Standard Labs -- an amazing label who were responsible for bringing us early releases from Out Hud, !!!, The Rapture, Rhythm of Black Lines, The Mars Volta, Vanishing, Chromatics, and The Locust (along with a lot of other less accessible bands). At the time, GoGoGo Airheart - essentially two guys out of San Diego - had already released two albums of tense post-punk, which could draw strong comparisons with some of The Make-Up's more angular (did I just fucking say that?) material. After a couple roster changes, their sound tightened up considerably for their 2002 release
, exitheUXA, which I thought would break the band to a larger audience. Outside of limited cult success (read: me and Doug over at Scratch Records drooling over the sweet blue vinyl it was pressed on) this never happened. Maybe it was the title. I still have no idea how to pronounce it.

Since their 2002 release, nothing has come out of GoGoGo Airheart -- their website remains active but is not updated, and they have no new tour dates online. Come on guys, give us more. And if anyone knows what's up, drop me a line.

GoGoGo Airheart - SP3
GoGoGo Airheart - No Language Before Its Time
GoGoGo Airheart - Here Comes Attack
GoGoGo Airheart - When The Flesh Hits
GoGoGo Airheart - My Baby Has A Gang (Sign Our Hearts)


This video isn't new, but I watched it again today, and wanted to post it. Reminds me of Baron Munchausen:
Tom Vek - C-C (You Set The Fire In Me) - VIDEO (wma)

Monday, August 15, 2005


No music today, but lots of big projects underway. A couple new interviews are being lined up, along with some other exciting stuff. Vague enough? Yes.


A search option was added to the ARCHIVES section of the site yesterday. Track down some older tunes to listen to while waiting for tomorrow's feature on Gogogo Airheart.


I just finished the poster for this Sunday's special NO FORMAT show: The Two Koreas. They will be playing their instruments, I will be DJing, and we'll have some special guests as well.

Previous coverage:

Saturday, August 13, 2005

The Enemy

Hey, that's Mr. Mid-Career Artist to you.


I've wasted far too much energy since Thursday, playing the antagonist in an online discussion about the music industry. Someone on there accused me of being "a writer for Vice." This isn't entirely true; I've been published by Vice, but I'm not a regular contributor. It was funny to watch the backlash, though.


Looking back again, I return to 1992 and the glory-days of shoegazer. One of my favorite labels at the time was Hut (who disintegrated under the EMI/Virgin umbrella); they could do no wrong as far as I was concerned. This was, after all, the label who brought us The Verve's A Storm In Heaven, and The Auteurs.

A couple of the earliest releases on Hut were from a band called Moose -- these guys were excellent songwriters, even when hiding behind walls of distortion. Their second EP, titled Cool Breeze, is the source of two tracks I'm going to post today. The third, Nevergreen, can be found on the Uptown EP, and Uptown Invisible is from the Honey Bee album.

Criminally underrated, the band released a series of EPs and LPs, never once gaining the following they deserved. Even after casting off the heavy distortion, and leaning towards a more accessible 60s-tinged sound, their sales were disappointing, and they were dropped by Virgin in the mid-90s. Moose formed their own independent label (Cool Badge), released two more albums on Play It Again Sam, and one on Nickel and Dime (their last, in 2000), who had faith that the public would come around. This never happened, and Moose eventually disappeared.

Feel sorry for yourself:
Moose - Butterfly Collector
Moose - Suzanne
Moose - Nevergreen
Moose - Uptown Invisible

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Me vs. Mr. Towel; Me vs. Mr. Berman

If you're in Toronto, come down to The Queenshead tonight, where I'll be guest DJing with Jaime Sin at Shack Up. The turntables are screwed; feel free to tell me how much of a sellout I am for playing nothing by CDs and MP3s.

I indulged in indie rock message board warfare today. It was cathartic and entertaining. Thanks to Mr. Towel from
Blocks for providing me with a foil.


Late addition today: Arts & Crafts released a free download from Broken Social Scene's new record. Rumors abound as to why this happened, but who the fuck really cares? It's good.

Broken Social Scene - 7/4 (Shoreline)


As promised, I have a guest blogger: Stuart Berman. A full time music writer (at Eye Magazine), and part time singer (for The Two Koreas), Stuart has provided a few excellent tracks, along with his lyrical wit.

Looks like we have the first online sample from No Dynamics newly completed 12" -- impressive.

So go, Stuart:


OK, dad’s away, let’s party. (We can just replace the vodka with water. ) Here’s a handful of recent tracks the world has either slept on or hasn’t even woken up to yet.

Of Montreal - The Party’s Crashing Us Now
I cancelled my Elephant 6 Collective membership after that second Olivia Tremor Control album put me to sleep, so I never bothered to keep tabs on their progeny; I always assumed Of Montreal’s Kevin Barnes was another insufferably twee, helium voiced automaton making castles in Brian Wilson’s sandbox. But we all know what happens when you assume something: you fail to realize that dude’s been spending the past few years boning up on Brian Eno’s Before and After Science and has turned out the psych-synth-disco-pop track of the year.

Kat Burns - Now Now
As long as there guys who listen to indie-rock, there will be sweet-singing girls with guitars for them to crush out on. This track, from Burns’ new six-song EP, plays like a cordial conversation between Chan Marshall and Elliott Smith (assuming they could hear what the other was whispering).

No Dynamics - I Got You on My Mind
This is it -- Toronto’s house-party heroes send you their love, delivered in a mail-bomb, sealed with a spit.

Mando Diao - Annie’s Angle
I always like the Libertines better in theory than practice; these Swedes are smart enough to lay off the pipe and stick to the pints. As my mate Kieran has informed me, they can also lay claim to the greatest quote heard on the The New Music this year [Swedish accent is crucial]: “Yes, we sound like other bands… we just have different songs.”

Whitey Houston - I Get Around
This Edmonton bass/drums two-piece sound like other bands too — call ’em Death from Mudhoney 1988, if you must. ((Saw these guys at NxNE; great show, especially the lady they had on stage shaking the maracas with tape on her nipples (for real) -Familiar))

William Onyeabor - Better Change Your Mind
When he’s not hanging at Arcade Fire shows, David Byrne is still compiling ace compilations for his Luaka Bop label, including the recent Love’s a Real Thing: World Psychedelic Classics Vol. 3. On this eight-minute 1978 sci-fi-disco masterpiece - which comes awash in glacial synth textures and a hypnotic spidery guitar line - Nigeria’s Onyeabor calls out all colonialists (including Canada!). Speed this up to 78rpm and you’ve got an Out Hud record 25 years too soon.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Vagrant Story

I am allowing myself to go a bit Adrian Mole with this post and run down last Friday like a diary:

I've been a big fan of Final Fantasy (Owen Pallett) for a while. I interviewed him a few months back, and last week, saw him play at the Elmo. It was an absolutely stunning show; Owen builds up layers of sound using just a violin and his effects pedals -- working the instrument in ways one might not expect. Late in the set, he was joined by a drummer who, to her credit, was well up to the task of accompanying him. The combination was followed by long, appeciative applause after every song.

Supported by his new label, Tomlab, Owen just left for a tour of Europe (both with The Arcade Fire, and for a series of solo shows starting in October). For those who have the opportunity to see him live, don't miss it.

The Bell Orchestre and The Wooden Stars played after Final Fantasy, but I didn't stick around for much of either set. Instead, Owen and I headed around the corner to another show, where two guys were decimating their instruments in front of a wall of amps and antiquated speakers (at Adrift), all while wearing ski masks with microphones sewn into the mouths. It was loud (but by no means bad). I left and went to a house party.

Earlier on in the night, I had been invited to check out Jason Collett's sold out show at The Mod Club. Turns out the house party I ended up at was his, as evidenced by a copy of NOW Magazine with his picture on the cover, and his CD on the dining room table. People were playing music in the back yard, the neighbours didn't seem to care, and it was a good time.


Harlem Shakes, whom I featured a track from a few weeks back, have all their demo material available on their website. Sounding far less confident than what I've already heard from the band, the older tracks help underscore just how much of an improvement they've made to their sound (visit the site if you'd like to hear them).

The other three tracks on their new demo:

Harlem Shakes - Josh Studies
Harlem Shakes - Sickos
Harlem Shakes - Eighteen


If you check the TOP RELEASES section in the right hand panel of this site, you'll notice The Diableros' album has been added to the list. It's that good.

To celebrate the occasion (or so I tell myself), they just had some new press photos done.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Olympic Hearts

There is something to be said for living in excess. The blur that was last Wednesday through today ended with me DJing to a room of about 150 girls in Toronto's trendy (read: barely tolerable) Distillery District. For $60 I could've even had myself a 90 minute tour of the entire area on a Segway -- if I'd wanted to pay someone to make me look like an idiot (which would be stupid, when I can do it to myself for free). I stopped at the Segway display booth for a while and listened to a guy actually consider buying one.

No, I met none of the girls at this show, except for Jesse Keeler's girlfriend who was excited that I'd played one of his songs. It was an industry fashion event; I was stuck up above the warehouse floor on a gangway, while a couple guys milled around the DJ/visual area wearing sunglasses and commenting on the ladies below us. I just tried not to fuck up.


The Diableros played at our first NO FORMAT night in Toronto a couple months ago; at the time, I had seen them live a few times, and loved what I'd heard. Last week, Pete, the lead singer and guitarist, stopped by and gave me a copy of their recently recorded CD. Engineered by Jakob Thiesen (of The Airfields) at Kitchen Sync Digital, You Can't Break the Strings in Our Olympic Hearts is a great album, with a nice title.

The six band members (Pete, Matt, Tara, Pheobe, Ian, and Gary) create an expansive, noisy piece of indie rock, evoking both The Walkmen and The Jesus & Mary Chain; they weave pretty melodies through walls of reverb and echo. Pete's vocals - an undeniable highlight of their sound - are mixed pretty far back, lending a bit of an early-90s (Ididn'tsayitshoegazerOK?) feel to the recording. This, of course is as intended: the entire album was mixed live off the floor at the studio.

A big thanks to the band for the CD, and letting me post a few tracks:

The Diableros - Push It To Monday
The Diableros - Tropical Pets
The Diableros - No Weight
The Diableros - Smash The Clock


AUGUST 21st 2005

NO FORMAT presents
A special SUNDAY show

plus guests



Stuart Berman, singer for The Two Koreas, will be guest blogging here next week. In the meantime you can always pick up a copy of Eye Magazine to read what he might have to say about all things music-related in Toronto.


Tomorrow, I recount two house parties, and an hour hanging out with Owen Pallett. This isn't an excuse, but hey, I really HAVE been busy.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

A day off

Monday was a holiday up here in Canada. Evidently each province makes up some kind of reason why we take the day off. I'm not sure what it is in Ontario, but over in B.C., it's B.C. day.

There is a new 30 minute mix online via the Familiar Audio Stream. These are all (indie?)-rock remixes:

1. Love Ends Disaster! - Ginko Disco (Electric Cafe Remix)
2. Franz Ferdinand - Matinee (Headman Vocal Remix)
3. Magnet - On Your Side (Optimo Remix)
4. The Arcade Fire - No Cars Go (Vitaminsforyou Remix)
5. The Cure - Primary (Red Mix)

I'll continue with another mix in this (indie?)-rock series soon.


The poster for Wednesday's NO FORMAT show at The Social:


Links back to some new sites who have been sending traffic this way:
A music site/message board entirely in Russian (
Babelfish helped here.)
A good UK message board. The guys from Love Ends Disaster! seem to frequent it.
Music blog who referenced the Familiar Audio Stream.
An E/N blog who have permanently linked us (thanks).
Another permanent link from this solid music blog.