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Preparing for Pitchfork: Destroyer

Casual New Pornographer fans may recognize Dan Bejar's voice from some of the band's finest songs, but under the guise of "Destroyer," he's been making wild, artistic records for years. This year he has released "Destroyer's Rubies," the most accessible album in his discography yet, and is considered by some to already be a modern-day classic.

Don't let the fact that Destroyer is a critic's dream scare you away, because the multiple layers of sarcasm, irony, fear, pain, love and hope build songs that satisfy like no other band can.

As a live act, Destroyer has seen as many changes as Dan Bejar has tried on musical acts. These days the band is a tight folk-rock machine, churning out spotless renditions of the best tracks from "Destroyer's Rubies" and a few classic Destroyer "hits" as you might call them.

MP3: Painter in Your Pocket from "Destroyer's Rubies"

MP3: Rubies from "Destroyer's Rubies" (via Goodhodgkins.com)

MP3: European Oils from "Destroyer's Rubies" (via t-sides.com)

Destroyer's page by Merge

Dan Bejar and Destroyer on Wiki

Check out the Destroyer drinking game

Pitchfork reviews Destroyer's live show


Pancake Tuesday returns with "Kev"

Image stolen from Hot-dog water

You may remember them from the infamous sendup of Queen Street Man, and their vastly underrated "Ma" sketch (feat. Nick Flanagan), now Paul Cotton and his gang known as "Pancake Tuesday" have slapped the internet again with "Kev."

I want to basically quote all the awesome lines from this one already... but I won't ruin your fun. Do yourself a favour and check out "Kev," it's easily the best sketch Pancake Tuesday has put together so far... the tone and pacing is just perfect, and every detail is just right. Funniest stuff I've seen for a long time. Also, NSFW.

MP3: "I Can't Sleep at Night" by the Deadly Snakes


Preparing for Pitchfork: Art Brut

Art Brut is another one of those British bands that hypes up what they do in the hopes that people will buy it and think that whatever they're doing has never been done before and is a once in a lifetime event. Unfortunately Art Brut is one of these bands, who are basically a working-class version of Pulp with a penchant for clever sloganeering.

Now the band tries to live up to their own band name "Art Brut," which is another term for "outsider art," by trying to play both sides of the high brow/low brow battle, which almost plays out like a Replacement record, if the Replacements were sober and slick.

Despite the band's declaration of their hate for Velvet Underground in "Bang Bang Rock and Roll" off their album with the same name, you get the feeling that they probably actually love Velvet Underground, but enjoy the reaction they get when the say it. That should give you a good idea where the band is coming from, or headed to.

Lead singer Eddie Argos is no doubt an unconventional front man. Not quite a singer par se, as he plays the role of the meathead savant, talking his way over top of Art Brut's modern day bar rock. It's like Argos personifies that British music tradition where during at least one track on your album, some guy with a thick accent has to barge in on a track and sound stupid. For some reason I can think of a couple Streets and Blur tracks that do this, but I know there's plenty more.

But despite all the bad things that I've had to say about the band so far (what can I say? I guess I'm not downtown enough to fall in love with oversaturated irony), Art Brut is still a band that has more than capable riffs and truly knows how to rock out. Live, they can be counted upon to kick out jams and a few laughs. It's not rocket science, but it's fun, and that's what counts, right?

Also, for the Pete Doherty lovers out there, "My Little Brother" is Art Brut's warning to the rock star/famous drug addict... "stay off the crack."

Songs usually played live:

Formed a band
Modern art
My Little brother
Bang Bang Rock and Roll
Emily Kane
Moving to L.A.
Good Weekend
Bad Weekend

For a few MP3s of what you can expect from Art Brut, click here.

(a note about megaupload - wait 45 seconds then close the pop up to see the download link -- its confusing and annoying, but it does the trick, you know?)

Art Brut's official website

Pitchfork profiles Art Brut


Preparing for Pitchfork: Ted Leo/Pharmacists

Sometimes power trio, sometimes more than that, whatever Pharmacists turn up alongside Ted Leo, the resulting experience is powerful, intense and extreme. Ted Leo's reputation as a master showman preceeds him, and has the effect on listeners similar to a good dose of valium.

Ted Leo has had a long musical career, but he came to attention with The Tyranny of Distance in 2001, and Hearts of Oak in 2003, which spawned one of Leo's best songs ever, "Where have all the rudeboys gone?" Perhaps that song alone is worth every good thing anyone has ever written about this unique artist. The last album he released was Shake the Streets in 2004, which took a more political and less literary tone than of his previous albums.

One of the more distinctive qualities of Ted Leo's show, is his incorperation of Scottish melodies into the songs, which brings an East Coast pub kind of vibe to his live show. However, because the man is such an intense touring phenomena, it can be hit or miss when it comes to his voice, as it could be full, clean and bright, or broken down and ragged from too many shows.

Where have all the rudeboys gone?
Dial Up
Me and Mia
The High Party
Timorous me
Counting down the hours
Walking to do
Suspect Device (Stiff Little Fingers cover)
Shake the sheets
Better dead than lead
The Angel's share
Little dawn
Heart Problems
The One who got us out

Oh, and don't expect to hear "Since U Been Gone."

Pitchfork reviews a recent Ted Leo and the Pharmacists show

Popmatters reviews a Ted Leo live show


Preparing for Pitchfork: Futureheads

British four-piece rockers The Futureheads first made a splash in 2004 with their first self-titled album, which featured five tracks by Gang of Four guitarist Andy Gill. Their songs are upbeat and essentially English through and through. At times it sounds like vintage Elvis Costello, while at other times, another band taking a poppier take on the familiar "angular dance rock." Imagine the Futureheads moving along the same lines as fellow Brits Maximo Park, but not unlike Hot Hot Heat.

It was in 2005 that the group blew up on the UK charts with their catchy take on the classic track "Hounds of Love" by Kate Bush. The song went top ten, and made the band one to keep an eye on.

However, after listening to the band's Myspace, their latest track "Skip to the End" from forthcoming album "News and Tributes," finds the band leaning more on their melodic sides and incorporating more of a Talking Heads kind of sound, which makes the band sound fresher and more distinctive, veering towards a path reminiscent of The Clash.

If you are looking for a requisite O.C. soundtrack mention, here it is: the band's song "Meantime" was featured on the show, and no doubt gave the band a leg up in the U.S.

Live, you can expect the band to play a handful of new tracks from "News and Tributes," but you can also expect to hear:

Decent Days and Nights
He Knows
A to B
Danger of the Water
Hounds of Love
Man Ray
Le Garage
A Picture of Dorian Grey (by TV Personalities)
Pieces of Crap (not a cover of Neil Young's Piece of Crap)

Download a sampler of Futureheads here.
(a note about megaupload - wait 45 seconds then close the pop up to see the download link -- its confusing and annoying, but it does the trick, you know?)

The Futurehead's official website

The Futurehead's myspace

Popmatters reviews the Futureheads live show

Chart has another live review of the Futureheads


Preparing for Pitchfork: Silver Jews

The Silver Jews ultimately found their begininng as an off-shoot of indie-rock champions Pavement. It all started in 1989 when Stephen Malkmus and Bob Nastanovich formed the Silver Jews with David Berman, but these days Berman is the only real member left, despite a revolving door of musicians, including Will Oldham (a.ka. Bonnie 'Prince' Billy).

The band itself has never actually toured much before in it's ten-year existence, and it's only Berman's win over his own depression that has motivated the band to get on the road. But after releasing Tanglewood Numbers in 2005, long time hardcore fans finally got to see Berman in the flesh.

Berman's laid back drawl and intricately sarcastic lyrics are the most distinctive features of the Silver Jews. His songs are immediately mesmerizing and beckon for closer listens. It's a messy form of alt.country that's not too harsh and not too dull.

Full length albums worth checking out are The National Bridge (1996), American Water (1998) and Tanglewood Numbers (2005).

Here's a few tracks you can expect to hear from the Silver Jews if you end up seeing them live:

Random Rules
Smith and Jones Forever
Punks in the Beerlight
Buckingham Rabbit
The Poor, the fair and the Good
Pet Politics
Slow Education
Horseleg Swastikas
Trains Across the Sea
How Can I love you if you won't lie down
Sleeping is the only love
There is a place
Sometimes a Pony gets Depressed

For a few MP3s to listen to on your drive to Chicago, click here.
(a note about megaupload - wait 45 seconds then close the pop up to see the download link)

The Corduroy Suit (A Silver Jews website)

Pitchfork live review of the Silver Jews

Chartattack live review of the Silver Jews

Popmatters concert review of Silver Jews

Preparing for Pitchfork's Music Festival

Pitchfork Music FestivalIn the last weekend of July, indie rock snobs and their devoted girlfriends and wives will head to the midwest and descend on Chicago, for one of the best festival lineups in North America. If you want to hang with jocks all weekend, go to Lolapalooza, but for something a little more fun, Pitchfork's festival promises to be diverse, and really the best, music available all summer.

Regular readers of Pitchfork will no doubt be familiar with most bands on the lineup, but if you're headed out there with only passing knowledge on some of the acts, the following series of posts called "Preparing for Pitchfork" will help outline just who these bands are, and what to expect from them live, if you need help figuring out where you want to be during the festival. I'll also be including a few MP3s of the acts that would be suitable for mix CDs on your packed car ride to Chicago.

Check out more info about the Pitchfork festival here


Addicted to the Soft Drugs

This spring, TW, formerly of "Pedro the Lion," however known for a flattering string of songwriterish albums proceeding his time with Dave Bazan and co, will be releasing a new EP of music on his own, called "The Soft Drugs in Moderation," by his new band, The Soft Drugs.

Falling somewhere between Neil Young, Elvis Costello and perhaps a little "mainstream" Wilco for good measure, TW writes stellar songs that are packed with sonic punch. The chord changes are unpredictable, but every song is hummable to the point of irritation. It's clear that the time spent with Dave Bazan has strengthened TW's songwriting chops and has given him a level of confidence that hasn't been seen in his previous solo outings.

Here's a couple up close and personal videos of TW getting down with his craft:

Check out the Soft Drugs myspace for MP3's of their forecoming material

MP3: Start Without Me (originally a TW song before becoming a Pedro the Lion song for Achilles Heel)

MP3: Old Fashioned Way of Speaking from Blue Laws

MP3: Gullwatching from Blue Laws

MP3: All Stops Applied from Pollensongs

For the official Soft Drugs website, check it here

For TW's version of the demise of Pedro the Lion, check out the twwalsh website.


Boo Hoo worth every single tear

Montreal's Boo Hoo is a little rough around the edges, just like any good indie-rock should be. Their songs bring to mind the mid-nineties hey day of sloppy indie-rock where the music was fun, passionate, kind of weird yet pretty accessible. At times you can close your eyes and just imagine the Halifax scene coming back to life, you know?

The three piece shows remarkable depth despite working within a limited scope of just guitars, amps and drums. The vocal work between Ben and Rob is intimate and special, and makes the listener feel like the band is performing in their basement practice room, and everyone's friends are gathered around, drinking and singing along.

One of my favorite tracks by the band is "Disappearer," which has a has-worn out, ragged kind of vibe that's infectious. It's like a satisfying end embodied in song.

The band is coming to Toronto this Sunday to headline the Wavelength show, and it promises to be a good night.

MP3: Disappearer

MP3: Eff the Ineffable

MP3: Oh No

MP3: LA Stride

MP3: German

MP3: Laces

MP3: Took

Head over to the official Boo Hoo page

Check out the Boo Hoo myspace page

Wavelength interviews Boo Hoo


Love is the Truth by Jack White, paid for by Coke

If you've been paying attention, Jack White has taken up an offer from Coke to write a song about the carbonated drink, and the end result is the simple throw away jingle "Love is the Truth," which while altogether more overtly poppy than most White Stripes material, wouldn't have been too far off the mark of the last album, Get Behind Me Satan. Now supposedly Jack White drinks 7 cans of coke a day, and the whole color scheme thing makes sense here, but the reality is, whatever Coke wanted to accomplish, they did, and now I have a free advertisement for them on my blog.

Here's my best guess at the lyrics:

One thing you'll learn you can betThat love is as good as it gets
And you'll get more if you give it

It's the right thing to do
It's inside of you
So why don't you show it
Love is the truth

The arms of a mother and father
In the eyes of a son and a daughter
It's everywhere

VH1 news has a pretty lengthy commentary on the commercial

Pitchfork has a little write up about the commercial

And with all things cool and cutting edge, Stereogum is all over it.

The WOW report wrote up the ad


Tokyo Police Club fear the bad news

If you are looking for the next hot band to emerge from the big smoke, take a close look at Tokyo Police Club. They're currently on tour with Magneta Lane and turning heads in a big way in the process. A rough demo has been circulating on the web, but a tuned up set of seven tracks is being released on Paper Bag records (also Magneta Lane's label, natch). If you can hear the clatter of thousands of bloggers hammering out their love of this EP, then it should motivate you to check out a few tracks from this four piece (five, if you count the giant red flag).

What really hooked me first was the guitar part in "Nature of the Experiment," which just sounds so right, along with the simple, yet effective use of the keyboards by Graham Wright. David Monks plays the bass while also singing, which adds a very rythmic element to his melodies, which at times float over the band's beats, but at other times acts as a driving force, like on "Be Good" when the bass drops out. Greg Aslop's drums are solid and hold the band together while Joshua Hook's manic guitar lines skitter all over the place.

While the demos at times features a Strokes like quality to a few of the songs, the new EP, A Lesson in Crime, replaces that vibe with something that is wholely unique to TPC.

Brooklyn Vegan has already picked up on the band, so it looks like the band is starting to acquire some success in the states. I Heart Music also had a pretty tidy right up on the band, posting up some MP3s.

Download Tokyo Police Club's demo here

Check out the band performing "If It Works" on Youtube:

Tokyo Police Club on myspace

Tokyo Police Club's New Music Canada page

Chart's on the ball and has already chatted with the band

Wavelength talks to Tokyo Police Club


The Great Awake opened my eyes

Last night I had a chance to check out a great local Toronto band called "The Great Awake," who were the second last band performing at the annual "Pitter Patter" night series.

The band's performance at the cramped and sweaty kareoke bar was intense and inspired, generating a mass of dancing bodies on the dancefloor under the twisting discoball. I really liked the way the band was able to be both upbeat and positive while also pounding away on their instruments.

Here's a few MP3s of the band if anyone is interested in checking them out. Their demo recordings emphasize a certain "Arcade Fire" and "Talking Heads" references, but still come off as fresh and lively.

MP3: 84 (but not tonight)

MP3: Old World, Young Heart

MP3: The City

MP3: 12 Story Tree

MP3: Tame Destroyer (live)

Check out the band's official website

Check out the band's myspace

Here's an interview with the band


How can I review the Flaming Lips?

So I've been struggling to figure out a way to describe last week's Flaming Lips show in Toronto. There have been countless reviews of the Flaming Lips in general, and realistically, I can't imagine their show being much different from city to city. Odds are, you probably already know about the giant bouncing balloons during "Race for the Prize," the singing nun puppet, the covers of "Bohemian Rhapsody" and "War Pigs," and even the vintage video taped intro segments from "90210" and Jon Stewart.

What I can tell you is this... if you ever plan on seeing the Flaming Lips, show up hours and hours early, and get to the very front of the stage. This is what we did when we went to the show, and it was amazing. There's nothing like seeing every nuance of this fascinating band up close, with a completely unobstructed view.

Up amongst the other die hards, who are completely given over to the fun nature of the show, it's like being in a whole other world... it's a special moment of music and sound that's like a euphoric experience in church. And when Wayne starts throwing out confetti, the die-hards are the ones who get covered in paper snow. When the giant balloon is popped, you can feel the bang as it explodes overhead. When the smoke machine is blown, the smoke swirls at your feet.

After the Lips finished their main set, I stood in wonder as I revelled in the pure bliss that a song like "Do you Realize?" creates... thinking about how that single song expresses so much truth about the world we live in.

For the last week or so, I feel like I've been in a daze... It's like I've been given a shot of positivity, and there's an extra spring in my step.

And there's confetti everywhere in the apartment. In the bedroom. In my shoes. In the bathroom. In all the carpets. It's like we took a bit of the Flaming Lips home to our apartment.

Beth took some amazing pictures of the show.

I had opinions reviewed the show.

That girly has some more pictures.

Shari Chambers
also has some pictures.

CANOE reviewed the show.

Chart reviews the show.


Ricky Gervais had a band once...

Yes, this is absolutely real.

If you've seen The Office, or perhaps even Extras, then you know doubt already know the comedic power of Ricky Gervais. Well, as it turns out, Gervais was in a band in the 80's called "Seona Dancing" (or "Shawna Dancing" as you would pronouce it).

You know, words escape me to describe it, so just check the YouTube.

It's actually amazing how much he looks like a little David Bowie, no? Hit up SeonaDancing.com for a pile more even more hilarious images and info.

I guess it really puts those 'failed musician' monolouges from the Office in perspective, no?

Anyways, here's a reminder of why the original "The Office" will aways be the best.

Oh, I almost forgot, check out more on Seona Dancing on their MySpace, where you can download four amazingly bad tracks.

And I figure I couldn't finish this post without the 40k David Brent music video.


April Wavelength roundup

Hey all. After a hiatus from doing the print version of Wavelength, the final web-only version of the zine was just put online. Before I link to the reviews/interviews I did this month, I just want to comment that it's a shame that the web zine never really took off. There were things about it that were really great, including the regular review contributions and interviews with featured Wavelength artists. I really felt like casual Stilleposters never got behind the Wavelength zine (as indicated here), which should really go hand in hand with promoting local music talent and really great bands.

Unfortunately in the last few months, reviewers have been scarce for the zine, with only a handful of reviews. I guess it bothers me that not as many contributors took the zine as seriously as they did when it was a print mag, and I have a feeling that when the print version goes back up (offline media?), they'll have no problem finding contributors.

I guess my dissapointment ultimately stems from the comparison of how well the Stillepost messageboard has fared in comparison. It's become a bonafide rumour mill and the place to go for "scene" gossip and show news, but browse through the city forums and the majority of some posts are THIS RANDOM BAND @ THIS PLACE OMG!, placed on the site as a form of self-promotion. There's nothing wrong with that at all, and I know the website serves as a community of musicians and artists trying to find their audience, but there isn't nearly enough open-minded discussion going on about new music and new artists and what it all means.

For me, the win-win situation would have been that the zine would inspire more music conversion -- the reviews of independent music that wouldn't get a second look elsewhere is discussed further online. There are a dedicated few who actually do talk about music and are passionate about new local artists, and I have alot of respect for them, and if they are reading this, keep it up!

Anyways, here's hoping the return of the print version of Wavelength goes smoothly and more attention is paid to the website in the future!

This month I reviewed the amazing debut album of Clothes Make the Man, which you can check out here along with my review of Saucer's Dallaire. I also did my first WL interview with Clothes Make the Man, so check that out here. They're playing at WL 308 on April 9, so be sure to check them out.

Here's some CMTM mp3's which deserve your attention. The band is amazing!

MP3: Two Summers - Clothes Make the Man

MP3: Singles Only - Clothes Make the Man

MP3: WMD - Clothes Make the Man