Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Disco Padding

Indie disco beats meet psycho thrillers in Dublin, Ireland. Padded Cell are Richard Sen and Neil Beatnik, both experienced producers who put this project together back in 2002 (remixing the excellent Big 200). Out on DC Recordings (The Emperor Machine), these guys exist within the same sonic circle as Measles-Mumps-Rubella, Out Hud, and Tussle. They manage to fuse a live feel with electro precision, hand claps, and synth snaps, and they do it with a dark twist. Thanks to Neil for sending us some MP3s to post.

Padded Cell - Unknown Zone
Padded Cell - Theme From Friday 13th


Having already been written up positively and recieved props from 20 Jazz Funk Greats, Copy is deserving of the praise. Here we have the 8-bit ethos rubbing up against the dancefloor in a way that'll make both the ladies and the geeks move. The beats through "See You Around Maybe" are fucking hot; hell, the entire song kills it (that means it's good).

Copy - See You Around Maybe
Copy - A Slight But Delicious Warble


I've been holding off on writing about Electric Badness for a while. They run the ragged edge of dancepunk vs dance, but after giving them time to sit, I find myself going back and listening to their tunes and -- you know what? They still feel fresh. The guys pull it off, and that's no small feat. Dancefloor killers sporting enough tricks to keep the jaded among us from flipping channels.

Electric Badness - Take That Beat Beat
Electric Badness - Fingers In Space
Electric Badness - Get Down Dexter (Madrone Mix)


I am currently working on a website for Unfamiliar, which is the new label we're starting. Our first release will be The Paper Cranes' debut EP, out February 23rd. There will also be a free online compilation available when the site launches next week. Initially, sales and distribution will be handled exclusively through Insound -- yes, this is the route Clap Your Hands Say Yeah went, so when given the option, we figured we'd test the waters.


Dreams of Horses is a blog I've been reading for a while now. Quality stuff.

Friday, January 27, 2006


Good psych-pop can be hard to find -- striking that balance between stoned and happy and sad is not easy. From England, Fields (not The Fields, or Field Music, or whatever) have managed to hit it on the head. With these tracks rivaling one of my favorite records of the last few years - The Legends' 2004 release, Up Against The Legends - I am excited by the prospect of a full album from Fields.

Fields - Song For The Fields
Fields - If You Fail We All Fail

On a similar tip, Seattle's Wonderful were one of the bands I used to see play on a regular basis back in '99. A few years on they're still at it, and this track, "Adrianne," is an example of near-perfect psych-pop. The production is excellent, a key element when it comes to orchestral, multi-layered music like this.

Wonderful - Adrianne


Blitzen Trapper aren't easy to describe, although they have a definite garage-blues-rock edge to them, and they do it with style. A real quirky style, sometimes fusing a bit of Brian Wilson into the mix. It keeps it interesting and prevents direct comparison to anyone.

Blitzen Trapper - Cold Gold Diamond
Blitzen Trapper - 10-Cent Slut


Hey, we've been permanently linked by Flaky Disco and Molars. Thanks. Also check out the Italian site, Weekendance.

20 Jazz Funk Greats have a new writer on board, with Steve from now defunct To Here Knows When joining Stuart and Juan. They're my favorite blog, and just got even better.


Blogshares is super nerdy, and I don't even entirely understand it. But AYF? stock has been going up like crazy lately, and I've just issued another 4000 shares. So if you're into that shit, check it out and buy them up.

Monday, January 23, 2006


A mini update with a few words from Pascal over at Metrohead out of Germany:

Metroheadmusic is a record label and a DJ team for electronic entertainment from Hamburg, Germany. So far we`ve released three 7"s featuring Kissogram, Novack, The Why, Chips and Bierbeben. The most recent release is our first 12" with Namosh & Angie Reed and Transformer di Roboter. [ ... ]

Transformer di Roboter - Hi-End (Metro B & Maszlope Remix)

DJ team is right. Check out the Metrohead playlists and you'll find some excellent selections (although I will never understand the whole Viva la Fete fascination; sorry guys.) They also have a label compilation coming out featuring old AYF? favorite Whitey, along with deep dark electro bangers Nid & Sancy.

Due to limited distribution, you won't find their releases outside of Germany and Spain, but you can find out how to order them via their website. Yeah, this is dance music, and I wasn't going to post any this week, but I didn't want to sit on this song longer than I have.

Coincidentally, Pascal is good friends with one of the guys from Egoexpress and the director for the Aranda video (see yesterday's blog), so it all ties in.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

This House (Those Homes)

When I was young, living in South Africa made all kinds of impressions on me -- the colour of the grass, the way the trees and the sidewalks and roads looked, the smells and the sounds. It was an indelible impression, and every so often something comes by that triggers inexplicable nostalgia.

The video for Aranda by Egoexpress turned out to be one of those triggers. I don't know why, because it is obviously not South Africa, but it's still a shot of a very nice street.

Egoexpress - Aranda


Chromewaves referenced the AYF? shoegaze retrospective, and linked to a bulletin board post about a story in Playboy which calls for a resurgence of interest in the genre. Surreal.

I will try add parts six and seven to the retrospective next week (but I always say that).


Another solid music resource, My Old Kentucky Blog linked here last week. They were covering Man Man and quoted AYF? for the band's description. Head over there for a few MP3s from Man Man's new album.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Dancing in Harlem

The last couple years have seen some amazing genre-bending dance music come and go; so much so that the vast majority is overlooked. This is part of the reason for my last couple posts; the shit that gets all the attention - all the hype - can unfortunately drown out the sounds of the underground.

Some of the tracks I'm going to post are very difficult to track down digitally, never mind on vinyl, which is part of the attraction -- chances are you haven't heard most of these songs here in North America. Ironically - hypocritically? - if they had been played to hell around here when they were released, I wouldn't be hitting them up now (as Tareh so rightly pointed out in one of the comments this week).

Ajello produces some hot genre-mixed Italo electro on Mantra Vibes out of (yeah) Italy. He is hit-and-miss, but when he's on, it's magic. These tracks were released throughout 2005; the David Gilmour Girls Remix was posted on AYF? a while ago.

Ajello - Harlem USA
Ajello - Harlem USA (David Gilmour Girls Remix) (repost)
In Flagranti (Feat. G Rizo) - Bang Bang (Ajello Remix)

This is cheating; I'm going way back now. Drinking Electricity had their start in the early '80s, releasing a series of singles and an album; most of their catalogue was critically dismissed, and with good reason. However, when it worked - like Ajello - the results were worth it. Glass Candy vibes all around, and check out that "Loco-Motion" hook in "Good Times."

Drinking Electricity - Good Times (Dance Mix)
Drinking Electricity - Breakout (Long Version)

The first album by Grand National was generally forgettable, except for - in my opinion - "Playing In the Distance." There is a new album slated for release within the next few months on Sunday Best. This remix, by The Glimmer Twins, stays true to the original, but strengthens the kick, adds hand-claps, and draws the whole thing out to an epic 8 minutes.

Grand National - Playing In The Distance (Glimmers Remix)

As a label, France's Kitsune has a pretty good track record -- so when they drop a new name, it's worth a listen. I can't remember where I found this one (NYC or Seattle in early '04), but it was a white label and I had no concept of who was behind it -- so I was surprised when it turned out to be really good (The Things being a project of Joshua Harvey, about whom I know very little). When all my records were ripped off, this was one of the gems I shed a tear over.

The Things - I Don't Care
The Things - Stupid

Bonus track:

Spector - Elektrify (Removed by request)


OK, so that's all the dance music I'm sourcing for a little while. There are a few rock bands to focus on over the next week -- my inbox has been buzzing lately with some good stuff. Thanks to everyone who emails me, particularly the ones who send good music.


The Paper Cranes
debut EP will be released on February 23rd, with shows in Victoria and Vancouver, and a trip to Toronto to follow. More news on that (including dates) when everything is official.


Linking out to The Underground Express, as well as Comp Book, who posts cultural links actually worth reading.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Minimal Attitude

I wanted to present some relatively un-discovered '80s and '90s new-wave, techno, and electro tracks. It's not so hard to find the shit - it's everywhere - but finding the tunes that aren't difficult to listen to, that is the key.

These days, my appreciation for the typical ironic hits is failing. Used to be that I could go out to one of the myriad hot spots in Vancouver and actually get into dancing to
shit. There was a guilty pleasure in Madonna and Salt'n'Peppa and bad rap and hip-hop, in Duran Duran and Flock of Seagulls, or the latest throw-away R&B hit. It all took a turn somewhere, the irony has left, and I get dubbed a snob for throwing out the odd derogatory comment when a particularly bad song comes on.

This blog has always been about my opinion, and that's not going to change. So basically, I'm calling the crew out on this: I want to go out and dance to music that surprises me; that blows me away by being simultaneously fun and good, and somehow not played out.

Recently, at a club, I walked into a sonic wall of relatively staid, typical house and electro peppered with indie-rock yelps and appreciated by all the trappings of Vice-inspired culture. Where has the sense of something unique gone? And am I being that much of an asshole for feeling this way? I mean, yeah sure it's like, "oh so three years ago," and on mentioning this everyone will dig into me and tell me to chill out and just have fun. Thing is, it's difficult to do so when I feel like I'm surrounded by a lot of people who are there for what that scene now pretends to be, rather than for the reasons it came about.

An attitude like that leads to alienation and exclusion; it leads to hurt feelings and strained relationships within a music community where - really - everyone knows everyone else. Well, too fucking bad. It is what it is -- all of it. If you read the huge section of comments from Monday's post (all 30-something of them) you'll see a clear illustration of this, as Jaime (Daughter of Invention) rips into my view of things right now. I am in no way taking a shot at anyone on a personal level -- except for those who display a dogmatic attraction to being seen. This is, afterall, just about our own opinions, and you can't love everything.

Here we go from 1981 to 1989:

A Popular History Of Sign - Guernica
Mathématiques Modernes - Disco Rough

(See also: Flexipop)

Killing Joke - A New Day
Minimal Compact - Nil Nil

Move ahead twenty years:

Pink Mountaintops - New Drug Queens
Sound Team - Don't Turn Away
Sound Team - It's Obvious What's Happening Here


All of this Guernica searching turned up a band from Ireland, around in the mid '80s, who borrowed the name from Picasso, and released some wicked Joy Division meets C86 tunes. Unfortunately, I can only find this one as an MP3, and additional information on the band is very sparse. Anyway, enjoy it and hopefully someone can give me some answers.

Guernica - The Queen Of Our County

Monday, January 09, 2006

Dance, Austin!

Memory lane.

Hey remember that shit we called dance-punk (né disco-punk)? And like, The Rapture were all cool and the DFA were on top of it from day one, and you know, Liars were rockin' NYC, Radio 4 still had us fooled into thinking they weren't a bunch of twats, Moving Units were holding it down on the west coast with !!! -- and some wanks were cashing in calling themselves Paradise Boys even though they were still total shit (but not as shit as The Calculators), and ... and and. And what the fuck? Oh right. And then Franz Ferdinand and The Futureheads happened, the followers followed - bless them - and the UK music scene still hasn't recovered.

Anyway, down in Austin, Texas they knew what was up, and - somehow - they existed in a vacuum creating some badass shit with the open hi-hat disco beat and songs about the club and the line and that hot girl and those gay guys getting each other off in the bathroom or whatever. And eventually they made songs about how it was all shit, but still with the open hi-hat disco beat and a scarf in hot weather and irony in full effect. We'll get back to the irony in a minute.

But first, let's appreciate what they did, right? The Arm and This Microwave World shared members (primary members) and have an association with Zykos (for the sake of credibility). The Arm are still around, and still rockin' it. In fact, I still like them, what with their Fall-ishness and that.

Maybe one day tunes like this will be the equivalent of the solid gold we mined a few years ago in the form of undiscovered or under-appreciated early '80s post-punk. Time will tell, but "Vile Lives" is a great song, with some wicked lyrical action.

The Arm - To Your ID
The Arm - Get Down With The Death Of The City!
The Arm - Vile Lives
This Microwave World - The Party Line
This Microwave World - You Are A Riot

Hey Austin, see you at SxSW.


Anyway, on with the irony. I can only hope the cheesy motherfuckers down with the house music meets rock'n'roll are self-aware enough to appreciate the lameness of it all at this point. Pink and cyan '80s references, the post-electroclash fallout we're still suffering from, the attempt to meld all of it with conceptual art, or trendy new-school design aesthetics, taking yourself oh-so-serious. The big budget bullshit. OK, the sorta big budget bullshit. Well, the stuff that has at least some money behind it. You know?

This 21-year-old guy named Calvin Harris in Scotland sure gets it. He turns the music out with a deft hand, and he lays the irony on thick and unpretentiously. It's wonderful, and it makes his work both timely and - well - timely. But he seems to know this. Talent, for reals, and is it just me, or does he take a serious dig at Louis XIV, which is enough to have him crowned a prince in some circles.

Calvin Harris - Acceptable In The '80s
Calvin Harris - Rock Band
Calvin Harris - The Girls

... in closing, the DFA are still at the top of their game, and that is no off-handed sarcasm.


This update was brought to you - in part - with a nod towards Howard Stern's controversial move over to Sirius radio in the USA (but not Canada).


Huge thanks to everyone who came out last Saturday for the Probably Vampires/Two Koreas show. It went really well (having to turn people away due to capacity is a good/bad thing -- sorry if this happened to you). We have a couple other events in the works over the next few months. More info soon.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006


Demo-Design is Justin Fines. Back in 1997, he started Demo down in Detroit, and has subsequently produced some original and technically stunning work through print, and more recently, broadcast design. The guy has art directed for, and produced spots with Psyop (one of my favorite boutique design firms), which is what switched me back onto Demo earlier in '05; turns out Justin has also been working with Someoddpilot Records along with various advertising heavyweights (Nickelodeon, HP, etc.). Hit his site for more samples. He now lives in New York with the rest of the designers in the world.

Justin Fines - Salvo Beta (image)
Justin Fines - Syndrome (image)
Justin Fines - Battlezine (image)


Check it out. More hot six-piece action from Canada. This band is called Doris Day, they're from Barrie (I don't expect anyone outside of Southwestern Ontario to know where that is) and they've let me put up a couple tracks from their self-released EP. Their live show is excellent; they completely surprised me when my friend Jessica took me out to see them. Anyway, I refuse to make comparisons here, 'cause it's just too easy to do that with Canadian indie rock these days.

Doris Day - Quarantine Girl
Doris Day - My Hands, My Plans


What up to the XXJFG and Goldkixx who both put AYF? on their favorite blogs of the year lists. Seriously nice. Jaime has had some hot link action from these guys too -- feels all friendly like. I'm warm.

Also hello to everyone coming through from Banana Nutrament and Motel De Moka.


Before I have someone else call me gay because I think grime/dubstep is all flash-in-the-pan styles and for deeming the track behind a Lady Sov. video sub-par, think about it: for all it's attempts at commercial success, how big is UK garage/2-step these days? Miles away from all those famous London champaign parties, I'll tell you that. And hell, at least that scene
didn't take itself so seriously.