Sunday, February 26, 2006

Once A Week (Repeat)

Unfamiliar Recordings have released our first CD; the Veins EP from The Paper Cranes. It is currently available online, exclusively through Insound. Reviews will be coming in soon, and from preliminary reports, they're all sounding excellent (as well they should be; The Paper Cranes are awesome).

If you're in Vancouver, Canada, you can also pick up the CD at Zulu Records, or from Ditch in Victoria. Sales have been good so far -- thanks for all the support.

I have my eye on a second band to bring up through the Unfamiliar imprint; more word on that as soon as they've given me the OK.



Polytechnic are from Manchester -- a city that holds a place in the hearts of many for it's musical contributions (Joy Division, The Stone Roses, etc.). Combining the best elements of the post-punk explosion with amazing pop hooks (and at times recalling the dissonance of the early '90s North Carolina tri-city scene), these guys have been on my playlist constantly for the last few weeks. You know, when bands like Maximo Park and The Arctic Monkeys hit it big, I find myself wondering why on earth it wasn't an artist like Polytechnic instead -- superior in so many ways, and nowhere near as trite.

Polytechnic - Penguin
Polytechnic - Pep
Polytechnic - Running Out Of Ideas

(Yes, I tried giving The Arctic Monkeys another chance, but as soon as I flipped into the middle of one of their tracks, and the first thing that came out of the spotty lead singer's mouth was, "Reebok trainers" I shut it off. Haven't we had enough of such blatantly transient, self-referential bullshit? Put these guys in a time capsule and dig them up in 20 years when they can be retro.)


Femme Generation recently played their CD release show with The Diableros in Toronto. I've heard them referred to as post-Rapture dancepunk, but I think that label is a bit constraining for them. Once again, it's all about the hooks -- and while their live show doesn't necessarily match the relative polish of their recorded material, I do like some of what I've heard so far. Also -- it never hurts to have your picture on the cover of NOW.

Femme Generation - Hearts In Stitches
Femme Generation - The Good Life 77
Femme Generation - The Nations Birthday


I was introduced to Montreal's Land Of Talk by Tanya Coghlan (who produces her own music under the name Astral Is Annie). She described them in terms which had her giddy with excitement, but made me think twice about checking them out (there was an Eddie Brickell reference in there). Anyway, suffice it to say they are excellent, and manage to transcend the adult-contemporary-indie vibe I expected of them. They recently played here in Toronto, and I believe they'll be back for CMW.

Land Of Talk - All My Friends
Land Of Talk - Breaxx Baxx
Land Of Talk - Sea Foam
Land Of Talk - Speak To Me Bones


The St. Just Vigilantes are two guys from Vancouver. Unfortunately, I know little else about them, except that they make some nice music with this side-project. Since I happen to know one of them, I'll post an update when I get some answers regarding where this is going.

The St. Just Vigilantes - Rose Grenade
The St. Just Vigilantes - The Color Of Pomegranates
The St. Just Vigilantes - The Shallows


I was recently asked to be - um - featured in the first music video for The Diableros (directed by Sara St. Onge). This is nothing I'd usually do, but I love the band, and the director. So yes, the primary news poster on AYF? is now on film, and the results, so far, are a testament to Sara's abilities. Animation on the video will be done by Jay White, who is talented enough to make his living off government art grants up in the Yukon (when not lending his expertise to projects like this one). Looking forward to seeing the end results.


AYF? is now serving up over 100 gigabytes of data per month (so I need to upgrade my hosting plan). Huge thanks to everyone who has supported this site over the last couple years. Special shout out to David (Shit La Merde) who joins the Toronto blog scene this month, and to Carl Wilson (Zoilus) who recently mentioned AYF? as one of Toronto's top MP3 blogs.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

A Slight Return

If I were to try explain exactly why the last two weeks were exceptionally shitty, I'd end up sounding - well - whiney. So whatever. AYF? is back.


The xxJFG have already shown Crystal Castles their love (and thanks for the well-wishes, guys), as have The Daughters. The concept behind Crystal Castles' music interests me at least partially because of the obvious focus on video game sounds -- after all, making games is what allows me to afford everything else I do (that, and my mysterious financial backers, who I need to take some time to thank again).

Are we at a point where "video game music" in the most literal sense (sounds and samples from the 8-bit/16-bit eras) has enough respect to actually gain some kind of audience? Nerdy freaks have been putting out weird shit via their Gameboys for years now, and groups like 8-Bit Peoples have been pushing the conventions established against critical acceptance of the genre. Indeed, in the last few years, bands like Tree Wave and Mixel Pixel have brought some of the ethos towards the mainstream, but Crystal Castles is the most literal interpretation of the sound yet to find a receptive audience.

No, I don't think this is the next big thing. It's not gonna wipe grime off the map, nor will it supplant the constant deluge of perky post-punk being shovelled off English shores. But it's really cool, and it's mining such a marginalized sound that - when searching for descriptors - rattling off the typical sonic references is next to impossible.

Listen with an open mind, and enjoy the music, not just the image. Because I am pretty sure the image associated with guys like Crystal Castles is enough to attract the attention of fashion conscious followers.

Thanks to CC for providing some original MP3s for AYF? to post. He will be playing this Saturday (February 18th) at The Boat (as part of Mikey Apples' new Lipp Service monthly).

Crystal Castles - Mother Knows Best
Crystal Castles - xxzxczx
Crystal Castles - Bitter Hearts
Crystal Castles - Dolls
Crystal Castles - No Skin
Crystal Castles - Air War


More from Toronto with 100% Wool, a two-piece electro-punk outfit who are on the verge of releasing their first album (at a party on March 31st at The Boat). Serge and Vivi are both really nice and surprised the hell out of me with their music -- it's damn good.

100% Wool - About Time


A single interesting track from DC Recordings' Stromba. While the horns and the wah in this tune sometimes conspire to derail the groove - to push it into the martini lounge - the percussion holds it together, and the results are hot. Unfortunately, the rest of their material left me non-plussed.

Stromba - Giddy Up


Lots more to post this weekend in the rock'n'roll vein. I will also have to check my log files and see where hits have been coming from so I can send some traffic back. Thanks to everyone who has continued to visit the site during this short break.


NeXT has been announced.

Dan Burke, Dan Seligman (Pop Montreal), Greg Ipp (NO FORMAT), Emerge, and other commotional rock vets present a three-night, LIVE! offensive during Canadian Music Week (CMW).

All shows at THE COMFORT ZONE -- 484 Spadina Ave. (n. of College)

The Adam Brown (Montreal) 11:00pm
Magnet (Norway) 10:00pm
Frontier Index (Toronto) 9:00pm
Basia Bulat (London, Ont.) 8:00pm

The Donkeys (Montreal) 12:45am
Rock Plaza Central (Toronto) 11:45pm
The Paper Cranes (Victoria) 10:50pm
Sweet Thing (Toronto/Ottawa) 10:00pm
Permafrown (Toronto) 9:15pm

The Sunday Sinners (Montreal) 12:50am
Horsey Craze feat. members of The Constantines (Cambridge, Ont.) 12:00am
Rick Of The Skins (Halifax) 11:00pm
The Brown Hornets (Newcastle, Ont.) 10:00pm

$8 Advance
$9 Door
$5 With CMW wristbands/laminates

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Run-Roc vs The Paper Cranes

Run-Roc are D. McNany and Dave Zero -- operating out of their recording studio in New York, they hold it down as one of AYF?'s favorite production teams. For this reason, we chose them to remix a track for The Paper Cranes' debut EP. The result is "Deus Ex Machine Gun (Run-Roc Remix)," which features Ryan McCullagh's signature vocals over top a completely re-worked version of the original track (recorded last summer in Vancouver by Howard Redekopp). The Run-Roc guys went at it with the intent of creating a remix which felt as though it were still being played by the band, and they succeeded.

Impressive credentials: Run-Roc were responsible for production on The Rapture's demo sessions (subsequent to the release of Echoes), Jonathan Vance's 12" debut on their own Run-Roc label, their Neutral Mute and SKIZM side-projects, as well as a host of remixes. They've also worked with the DFA on some tunes, and had their share of DJ nights.

Look for a future NO FORMAT show featuring Neutral Mute along with a Run-Roc DJ afterparty in Toronto. Not sure when, but it will happen. The guys will also be our next featured blog guests.

As a teaser for the upcoming Veins EP from The Paper Cranes, here is the remix. Feel free to re-post and distribute this one.

The Paper Cranes - Deus Ex Machine Gun (Run-Roc Remix)

The EP version of "I'll Love You Til My Veins Explode" is also available as streaming audio on The Paper Cranes' Myspace page. Check it out and add them as your friends.

Some related songs:

Jonathan Vance - Sylvia The Eagle *repost
Jonathan Vance - Lycanthrope *repost
Neutral Mute - Doo-Right *repost
Neutral Mute - No No No *repost
Let It Burn - No No Tremolo (Run-Roc co-production) *repost


Pete And The Pirates
are an English band who have been kicking around under the radar for some time now. Aside from witnessing their website go through at least three iterations, I don't know a hell of a lot about them -- except that they make some great music. Their Myspace page refuses to yield much additional information, and right now - at 3:15am on a work night - the inclination to email them just isn't there.

So this band can't be called another Arctic Monkeys -- they stand out from the current crop of NME front-pagers by way of
writing songs that don't all sound the same. This, to me, is a good thing.

Pete And The Pirates - Nuana
Pete And The Pirates - This Thyme
Pete And The Pirates - I'll Love
Pete And The Pirates - What's On?


Congratulations to The Diableros, along with their director (Sara of Awesomology) for securing the VideoFACT funding for the band's first video. I can't wait to see the results.

The Diableros have a new website which includes streaming audio of their album. Their label, Baudelaire also has a new site up.