yes finally the time has come!

December 16th, 2006

Hello everyone,

I finally figured out how to be able to log in thanks to Ethan so I will be contributing when I come up with an interest artist/piece of music to discuss.


WOW, how horribly inappropriate! Speaking of which…

The Most Appropriate Band Names:
Comets on Fire
Explosions in the Sky
Cinematic Orchestra
You Say Party! We Say Die!
Storm and Stress
Son, Ambulance
Broken Social Scene

The Most Inappropriate Band Names:
Deep Banana Blackout
The Band
Six Organs of Admittance (and for that matter, The Organ)
Some Girls (no girls)
We Are Wolves (no you’re not)
Of Montreal (of Georgia)
Architecture in Helsinki (what about it?)

Bands on Fire:
In Flames
The Flames
The Flaming Lips
The Flaming Sideburns
Flamin’ Groovies
Set Fire To Flames
Flaming Fire
Flaming Box of Ants
The Flamingos

fj Introducing the Hylozoists. Show of hands: who’s heard of/heard the one-off record by post-rock conglomerate super-combo Valley Of The Giants? Okay, think less Monument Valley and more Everglade microbiological love story, but keep thinking sick Canadian line-up. Before I try to expound on the new sound of the summer, let me introduce the band. Between two records and a shape-shifting touring group, here are the contributors to the Hylozoist collective:

Paul Aucoin (The Sadies), Patrick Conan (Cuff the Duke, Tricky Woo), Jason Tait (Weakerthans, FemBots), Jason Ball (The Hopeful Monster), Owen Pallet (Final Fantasy, Arcade Fire, Les Mouches, Hidden Cameras…), Paul Lowman (Cuff the Duke), Wayne Petti (Cuff the Duke), Dale Murray (Cuff the Duke, Hopeful Monster), Matthew Faris (Cuff the Duke), Julie Penner (Broken Social Scene, Deadly Snakes, FemBots), Jeremy Strachan (Sea Snakes, Hopeful Monster), Monica Guenter (Christine Fellows), Nathan Lawr (Royal City, The Constantines, FemBots), Rob Gordon (Les Mouches), Dave Christensen (Hopeful Monster, Heavy Blinkers), Bryden Baird (Blue Rodeo), Dave Mackinnon (FemBots), Damian Moynihan (Hopeful Monster), Lukas Pearse (Rebecca West, Dusty Keeler), Michael Olsen (Arcade Fire, K-OS), Jonina Gibson (Hopeful Monster).

Since 2004, the band is pretty much Cuff the Duke + three vibraphones and the vision of writer (ex. Sadies) Paul Aucoin, but in no way does that describe the harmony of this exceptional group. Aucoin recruited a Halifax-centric assemblage of musicians to manifest his musical ideas in 2001 with La Nouvelle Gauche, but was forced to keep this project at bay when The Sadies asked him to join the band. When the Hylozoists returned in 2004, the group had changed almost entirely, and Aucoin had instead chosen Toronto for his inspiration. Thus, members of Cuff the Duke, the Weakerthans and the FemBots were invited along, but the result (La Fin Du Monde, to be released in the US next week) is not like anything these groups have composed before.

Their sound has been likened to vibraphone and glockenspiel-heavy post-rockers Tortoise and the Sea and Cake, which I guess I agree with, for that reason. And to say that “if you like Tortoise, you’d like the Hylozoists” is probably accurate, but the two evoke very different sides of rock music’s multiple personalities. I’d rather compare the Hylozoists’ composition tendencies with that of Do Make Say Think or Valley of the Giants, who mask inherent complexity with the energy of the pop-rock orchestra. Though, certain songs like, “The Fifty Minute Hour” and “If Only Your Heart Was A Major Sixth” tend to nod towards Tortoise’s brilliant TNT. Then again, the string section begins “Man Who Almost Was” like A Silver Mt. Zion and builds on a classical guitar theme until braided male and female vocals ride the song out on a chariot of clouds.

As I mentioned before, the Hylozoists are centered (both conceptually and spatially in their live set-up) around the sustained bell tones of the vibraphones, and the strings steer the vessel into daylight. Each song on La Fin Du Monde is evocatively powerful and emotionally encapsulating. Occasionally, the alt-country swing of Cuff the Duke’s drummer Matt Faris rears its goofy head out of the orchestral madness and lets you rest assured that this is still only a rock band, and not really ‘la fin du monde. Between the recent release of Final Fantasy’s He Poos Clouds, a song-cycle performed by a string quartet, and La Fin Du Monde, I think I’m falling for this merge between trained classical composition and the unpredictable sensibility of popular music.

Strait Is The Gate (mp3)

The One AM Radio holds a special place in my heart; simple, lustrious instrumentation pieced together over skitish beats and held together by frontman Hrishikesh Hirway’s sweet, soft, and downright beautiful vocals. Hopefully, Hirway’s recent decision to drop the name “the One AM Radio” will have no effect on the wonderfully crafted pieces of Low-Fi folk-pop textured with punk and electronica songs he’s been releasing for the past few years.

Anyway, Hirway’s coming out with a new album soon, which means it’s a perfect time to re-visit all of the One AM Radio’s work (although, I never really stopped listening). The critically lauded “A Name Writ in Water” is a great place to start, but their “99, 100″ track off of a split EP with Ted Leo is the one song that can grasp people and make them instant fans. For those really inclined, there’s a video for “Witness” off of “A Name Writ in Water” on Hirway’s website. Although it starts off a bit odd (a little like the song), it shines a light on the music Hirway infuses all of his releases with; a melancholic beauty that captures the intensity of the seasons changing from Spring to Summer. And kickball.

The One AM Radio/Hrishikesh Hirway
Witness (Video)

Well, the Mineau twins are back again. Julien and Francis and the other two guys who look like they should be brothers, are Malajube. In their young existence they’ve become quite epic; really the only French-singing band in Montreal that any of us English-only losers pay attention to.

What makes Malajube albums ultimately worth their purchases (or in this case, their being stolen from Le Délit), is the fact that they always stay in some way true to their concepts. In 2004, their debut, Le Compte Complet came out and offered Quebec the cute, “love me love me” side of Malajube’s songwriting. Most of the songs on the album were hardly anything more than synthy-pop vignettes, but their multiple voices and episodic buoyancy was also bookended with “L’introduction” and “Le Conclusion”. So if they hadn’t constructed “the full account” of anything in particular, they at least got the chance to sing about Sexy Robots.
Trompe-L’oeil is a step back and two steps forward in the other direction. The first time I listened to this record, I thought, “Wow, that sounds a lot like their last one.” The next time, I thought, “that doesn’t sound anything like their last one.” The third time, I fell asleep and woke up with a tummy ache.
Eerily enough, with Trompe-L’oeil, Malajube has created a concept album all about maladies (just like mine!). Every song corresponds either formally or by its content to a specific medical condition, and it adds a dark complexity to the seemingly simple and optimistic pop tunes. This, I gather, is Malajube’s “trompe-l’oeil”, their trick of the eye (because their cute, pastel artwork certainly is not). This collection of songs is mystical and deep and should not be taken at face value.
“Casse-Cou” is musically schizophrenic as it jumps around from a sombre, contemplative tone to apocolyptic metal and then to a Clashy punk-reggae character. Rightfully so, as it is lyrically accompanied by a one-sided conversation between Satan and Jesus. “Étienne D’aout” on the other hand, is a heartfelt ballad about the death of a loved one. They play all over the place in Quebec, hehe check out their tour dates page, they play towns I don’t think exist. And check out their hair.

Le Metronome (MP3)
Montreal -40c (MP3)
Buy Trompe-L’oeil:

It used to be white noise…

February 21st, 2006

Then I found these two groups. I used to avoid all things electronica like the plague. Generally, I continue to follow said pattern, but with the recent draw of bands like Aqueduct within the past year, I began to take a particular liking to the infusion of manufactured noise with live instrumentation.

Anyway, that brings me to the following awesome, yet completely different, acts. Letting Up Despite Great Faults is a Los Angeles group that can only be described as a post-modern orchestra. The fact that a mandolin, guitar, cello, and electronica percussion all share space in the same musical realm is interesting enough; it’s the incredibly unique sound and altogether beautiful composure that the band creates is something that is certainly lacking in most other acts of any genre today. Most modern music isn’t this touching, heartbreaking, or masterful as Letting Up has produced in a small number of tracks. Keep an eye on them for whatever they’ve got coming up.

On the other end of the axis of semi-electronica rest Parts & Labor. These guys are more noise than electronica, but more punk than noise. Don’t think Black Dice or Wolf Eyes by way of The Stooges; think a louder, noisier, and younger Green Day with a sampler. Whether or not you like any of the previous groups, check these guys out any way; I just picked them up an hour ago and there’s something so endearing about them that I just can’t quite put my finger on it or put them down. Just make it past the first 24 seconds or so of “A Great Divide” and you’ll be golden.

Letting Up Despite Great Faults
If You’re Here Today (MP3)
Disasters Are Okay (MP3)

Parts & Labor
A Great Divide (MP3)
The Endless Air Show (MP3)

my latest favorite…

February 20th, 2006

These guys hit a soft spot of mine, they are Scottish. Ok, honestly, I also have a soft spot for Irish bands as well. But don’t bring up the Frames just yet.

Anyway, “My Latest Novel”s repertoire consisters of violins, xylophones and some great vocals. Their discography is quite expensive at the moment, but hopefully with the release of their new cd “Wolves”, this will no longer be the case. Their new single “The Reputation Of Ross Francis” just has something to it. The precussion starts off like that of something you’d expect from a village militia, ok, maybe something I’d expect from a scotish village militia. I’m at a complete lack of words at the moment due to my complete lack of sleep over these past days…so, you’ll just have to listen to it for yourself.

The Reputation of Ross Francis (MP3)

Phone London

February 10th, 2006

I know that I, as I’m sure many of you, love ingenious band names. I also enjoy generally good bands, but that’s a completely different subject. So believe my surprise when I stumbled upon a band that upholds the best of both worlds.

When I first saw Page France, I immediately thought of Sage Francis. I don’t know why exactly, because they sound nothing like the emo-bohemian rap that composes Francis’s sound. Instead, I found a wonderful blend of melodic acoustic pop, with a male and female vocal spectacle leading the way. They remind me a little of the Jolly Rogers/Oh No! Oh My! as far as their ideals to stick to simplistic, thoughtfully composed folk tunes are concerned. Upon further listening, the vocal work is quite reminiscent of Death Cab or even the Decemberists, if such a combination is possible to imagine. Either way, I think I prefer these guys. And they’re from Maryland, hooray!

Page France
Chariot (MP3)
Rhythm (MP3)

I was introduced to a friend of a friend the other night, who’s in a band, who happened to be singing when i was supposed to be introduced to her. That someone is Liz Powell of Land Of Talk (Montreal). She’s probably already my favorite thing about this city right now. Liz is an incredible songwriter, a great great guitar player and her singing is sort of Cat Powery, you be the judge, but I think it’s really unique. The way she delivers seemingly normal lines, and maneuvers through her verses like she’s making it up as she goes along, is just utterly amazing. Liz has this awesome ability to make everything she sings catchy, which is why everyone that knows her thinks that she’s gonna be Montreal’s next big export.  Anyway, I got introduced to her music at the perfect time, because this sort of stripped down “rock” is all I want to listen to right now. Coming off a rather long ambient electronic kick, and then just classic jazz for a few weeks, now I’m all about the rock trios: Built To Spill (!), Pedro The Lion, Wilco (not a trio), etc.

So saturday, Liz is doing a gig with this Montreal improv squad called LABprojects that I just wrote an article on last month. It will be all improvised, so no Land of Talk material, and there’s gonna be a buttload of other musicians that us Canadienistas love to be around: Olga and Jace (Besnard Lakes), Liz (Land of Talk), Robbie and Simon (Patrick Watson’s band), Sarah (Hhaka), Rhyna and Vid (Moondata) and handful of djs and projectionists. Should be interesting, I’m only really going to this show to try and swoon Liz into giving me a free copy of her new EP….updates soon to follow.

okay, so rather than me uploading files onto this already too-cluttered site, here’s her myspace account, where y’all can hear just what this wonderwoman sounds like (ethan, let me know what you think, I had a feeling you’d like this one):

*(secret): I’m listening to her now :)

Goblin somethin’ delicious

February 9th, 2006

Ahh… the first post. Let’s start it with some fun.
Love Pinback, but would rather spend more time rocking out than listening to music that could put you to sleep easier than energizing you? Have a secret love for metal, but you don’t want your friends to make you into the outcast you secretly are? Well, here’s the band for you.

Rob Crow (Pinback, Heavy Vegetable), has come out with his millionth side project, and it may be his best this month. Goblin Cock is for all the hipsters out there with a sense of humor and a thirst for crunching melodic metal. So, for the two of you, check out Goblin Cock for the best cover, best band name innuendo, and best indie metal since…

Goblin Cock
Stumped (MP3)