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Saturday, June 5th, 2010 02:17 pm


This is Tegan & Sara, immensely talented twins from the great land of Canadia, I mean Canada. They've been making music since they were fifteen and they've been touring almost as long.

You can read a detailed History of Tegan & Sara over on Wikipedia, so I won't replicate that here. I found them because I heard one of their songs played on a tv show, but for the life of me I can't recall which one. Obviously their music was superior to the show using it.

I promptly looked them up and was thrilled to find a female-lead band (two queer females even!) that made songs that were both musically and lyrically satisfying to me. All too often I find the best female bands/singers have songs that, while amazingly well done, are also fucking suicide-inducing. And I understand why that is. Women, even now, have a lot of shit poured on them. It's only natural to write about that, work through it, protest against it via art. I applaud that even. But as someone who honestly can't handle my own shitty life, I am unable to take on the additional burden of other women's pain. So with Tegan & Sara I was pleased to find songs that resonated strongly on an emotional level but that did not overwhelm me with pain and despair.

Looking through their discography I realize that I basically really love every other album they do and am just kind of meh about the others. Not sure why, just one of those things. Still, with six studio albums to their names, there is plenty to enjoy even for weirdos like me. FYI: my faves are This Business of Art (2000), So Jealous (2004), and Sainthood (2009).

And here's a sampling of songs off those records (though I love the full albums so):
on Grooveshark
or embedded here )

So go buy their music!
at Amazon
on iTunes


Vital Links:
Official Site
MySpace
Facebook
Twitter
Youtube
Vimeo
Merch
Monday, May 31st, 2010 06:10 pm


This is Yeasayer, they are Quirky with a capital Q! Some people find them to be an acquired taste, but it's a taste well worth acquiring. They're based out of Brooklyn, NY and the three main members are Chris Keating, Ira Wolf Tuton, and Anand Wilder (who gets his hotass on in the video for O.N.E.).

I found this delightful band due to a recommendation by Spencer Smith [ref] and Brendon Urie [ref] from Panic! at the Disco. Now usually the bands I love the most, tend to enjoy music I really don't care for. I suspect that's due in part to how I listen to songs versus how they listen to them [ref]. As fate would have it, I was listening to the Alternative Music Choice channel and Yeasayer's Ambling Alp came on.

I'll be honest, my first reaction was confusion. I literally tilted my head to the side and made the o.O face. However, by the end of the song I was starting to get it. Get what they were going for, get their sound. Subsequent listens only served to increase my enjoyment. I can't recall now what prompted me to buy their album Odd Blood, though I suspect it was because it was on sale at AmazonMP3 (which is still going on, only $5!!). But whatever, I'm super glad I did. Because Ambling Alp was not the only really nifty song on the album. Not at all. The first song on the album, The Children, might throw you off at first. It sounds so different from the light-heartedness of Ambling Alp. Stick with it. The payoff is amazing.

My personal favorite song (at the moment) on Odd Blood is Mondegreen. I just love the beat, the energy, the instruments. It makes me want to get up and move. I've been told that this song is weird even for this band. What can I say, I'm a weirdo. *shrug*

But really, I adore the whole album. From start to finish there's not one miss. I haven't yet listened to their prior album, All Hour Cymbals, though I love them for the punnery alone. When I've got spending monies again, it's high on my To Buy list.

And that's not all! They've also got a couple of videos that you've just GOT to see. The first one I'm showing you is for O.N.E.. It's fantastically weird and cool and SO DAMN INTRIGUING! The game the characters are playing, the board, it's the Tree of Life but turned on it's side. There is a lot going on in this video and frankly it's worth watching multiple times just to try to figure out the meaning. Additionally, the song is fucking terrific!

direct link: Yeasayer - O.N.E.
embedded: O.N.E. video )

Back to Ambling Alp, this video is like...being on a really interesting acid/pot trip. Not bad, just...weird. Also, Not Safe For Work/Kids. It's not sexual, but there is casual (and a lot of it) nudity. But it's fun!

direct link: Yeasayer - Ambling Alp
embedded: Ambling Alp video )

Wild, yeah? I love it!

Interviews & Stuff:
Yeasayer Lead Us Through Odd Blood Track By Track
Interview: Chris Keating of Yeasayer
Yeasayer Interview
"All Hour Cymbals" Daytrotter Session

Official Links:
Official Site
MySpace
Twitter
Last.fm

Superfun Trivia:
They're label is called Secretly Canadian. That's fucking adorable!

Buy Links:
Amazon: Odd Blood [cd] or Odd Blood [mp3]
iTunes: Odd Blood (includes Ambling Alp video and digital booklet)
Saturday, May 22nd, 2010 04:58 pm
These two dorks are Mark Hoppus and Pete Wentz and they're fucking awesome.



So these two guys are the bassists in their bands (Blink-182 & Fall Out Boy respectively), amongst other things. And they decided to make some pretty music together for the Almost Alice not!soundtrack.

Listen to "In Transit" on Grooveshark.
Or here )


Looking at the lyrics I'm going to guess these were mostly written by Pete. Which is awesome, because I love the way he has with words. And these words are a great example of that. You can feel the pain and longing in the words.

Lyrics )

And match that up with the hauntingly beautiful music and the way Mark sings the song? Absolute perfection. It has just the proper feel for a song about Alice, but at the same time able to stand independent of that. Which I think is important.

I admit that I didn't out and out love it at the very first listen. But, on the second listen, once I sat still and really paid attention it just grabbed me by the gut. Gave me that awful/wonderful feeling of need/want and loneliness. It has this feeling of contraction/expansion, pulling in close and then flying outward across the distance. And for all that the loneliness and want permeate the song, there's something to it that doesn't feel like all hope is lost.


Mark and Pete have mentioned that they may be doing other things with each other musically in the future. I sincerely hope they do, because they really seem to mesh well.

Links:
Mark: blog, twitter
Pete: blog, twitter
AmazonMP3: In Transit
iTunes: In Transit (as is often the case, iTunes is more costly than Amazon)

PS: If you feel inclined to look at the rest of the Almost Alice not!soundtrack, I can very enthusiastically recommend Welcome to Mystery by The Plain White T's and The Lobster Quadrille by Franz Ferdinand
Saturday, May 15th, 2010 03:30 pm


So, last week I mentioned that on occasion, iTunes Canada actually does give us a fucking awesome song for free. This is one of those times.

Sam Sparro is an Australian singer-songwriter born in 1982. He's best known for this song - Black & Gold. His self-titled album came out in June 2008. Of the 13 songs, Black & Gold (Marcussen Album Version) is the strongest (and, unfortunately, the only song worth keeping, IMHO). His work ranges from R&B to funk to electronica, to classic Prince to Scissor Sisters, to everything in between. If that sounds like it's your cup of tea, then he's definitely an act worth checking out.

Back to Black & Gold, though. This song has proven to be extremely popular, which was a huge surprise to me because I haven't heard it anywhere. Apparently it's been used in soundtracks, commercials, tv promos, and video games. You'd think I'd at least have heard about that, but apparently not. It's entirely possible that I live under a rock.

There's been a few cover versions of this song (most notably Adele, Ellie Goulding, Alphabeat, and Katy Perry) but like usual, the original is always best. There's something to be said for Sam Sparro's voice and the way he sings the lyrics. Also, a bad cover version of any song is a sin that should banish you to the depths of hell.*

*Okay, okay, we'll reserve that solely for butchers ofHallelujah. DNW anyone other than Jeff Buckley, kthnx.

Here, have a streaming file from Grooveshark:



The song has a video, but Sam's record label, Island Records (UK), has had embedding disabled at YouTube. It's so camp and I laughed, but everyone needs a little camp in their day now and then. Click here to see it. It's boys in tuxedos and top hats. Carrying walking sticks and feeling up a limo. No, I'm not just saying that. There's also a fast food drink cup but that might be for a rousing game of One of these things is not like the other....

Links:
- Facebook
- MySpace
- Twitter
Saturday, May 8th, 2010 11:58 am
I'm sure we've all noticed by now that the iTunes free track of the week is usually a hot, steaming pile of crap. When it's not the place where shitty music goes to die, it can occasionally be decent. Now and then, someone at iTunes Canada slacks off and actually lets a really, really awesome track slip through.

This isn't one of those tracks, but it is how I found this band - Said the Whale.



[Pictured: Said the Whale. Not pictured: actual whales.]


In mid-October 2009, the free track of the week was the band's The Gift of a Black Heart. I downloaded it like I always do and I was pleasantly surprised. Unfortunately, I have musical ADD and forgot about them fairly quickly. Every now and then I'd 'rediscover' them on shuffle, but it wasn't until Genius recommended their 2-track The Magician EP two weeks ago that they became a band I really, really wanted to learn more about. I guess it's kind of funny that it was the single B-side that I went so crazy over. Carmelo (The Magician) is a good song, but the real gem is Love is Art / Sleep Through Fire. The lyrics are pretty and the melody is sweet and flows very nicely. It doesn't necessarily sound like eight other songs I could name, which often happens when you listen to a lot of a certain genre.

Said The Whale formed in 2007 as a collaboration between songwriters Ben Worcester and Tyler Bancroft. The pair’s debut EP, Taking Abalonia, featured sunny west coast indie pop, with breezy harmonies, shimmering guitars, and lyrical tributes to their home city of Vancouver.* In 2008, the album was rereleased as Howe Sounds/Talking Abalonia, featuring seven additional tracks that stretched the band’s stylistic palate to include bubblegum folk (”The Light Is You”), thundering hard rock (”Last Tree Standing”) and gentle ukulele ballads (”The Real of It”). After several personnel changes, the group settled upon a five-piece lineup that includes bassist Peter Carruthers, drummer Spencer Schoening, and keyboardist Jaycelyn Brown. The quintet embarked upon a rigorous touring schedule, crossing Canada numerous times and landing high profile gigs at V-Fest 2008 in Calgary and the nationally televised Canada Day celebration on Parliament Hill.

-Source



[*Sorry, I was just excited for a second there.]


Here's a clip from a live version of this song. I couldn't find a full, streaming version of the studio track, which is one of the downsides to unsigned bands.





Love is Art / Sleep Through Fire can be purchased through iTunes for $0.99, or as part of The Magician EP for $1.98.


So, in conclusion:



[Pictured: Said the Whale. Also pictured: cutie in white shoes.]


Links:
- Official Site
- Facebook
- Myspace
- Twitter
- PureVolume
- LastFM [with videos]
Saturday, May 1st, 2010 01:14 pm
Meet Snowsera.


(Hi, Snowsera!)


They're an unsigned rock band from Chicago, a city that apparently has a magic music potion in the water. They've been together since 2006 and they have a fairly diverse list of influences: Michael Jackson, Nirvana, the Beatles, to name only a few. Because of this, they're not one of those bands whose songs all blend together.

I found them in 2008, right after someone in the band MySpace spammed me. Normally I click 'Decline' and don't bother to listen to the music. This time, however, I clicked the link and was pleasantly surprised. Their EP Fictions had just come out and I downloaded it right away. The songs have a great, polished quality to them that you don't often see with unsigned bands. It's a pretty good way to get into unsigned bands, because the sound isn't all that different than what a radio-listener is used to.

There are three other EPs, all of which are available free of charge on their website. Push&Pull came after Fictions. The two songs there (Push&Pull and Sun Meets the Sea) are rougher, not as polished, but no less interesting. With a bit of studio glitz, they, too, would be as strong as the Fictions EP. The other two-song EP contains the songs Chase the Rabbit and Stop, Listen, both of which are favourites of mine.

Things get a little tighter each time with respect to instrumentation, though I do wish the singer's voice didn't sometimes get a little drowned out. That's due to recording issues, though, so I'm doing my best to be patient.

For earlier Snowsera stuff, download the Snowsera EP, which includes the demos of two songs from Fictions - TwentyFour (24) and So Subtle.

Is this band perfect? Of course not. No one is. Are they a little rough? Definitely, but that's not a bad thing. They're certainly a band to keep an eye on because there's real potential there. That's pretty exciting.

Photos:
-*- Live
-*- Recording
-*- Promo

Other links:
-*- Official Site
-*- MySpace
-*- LastFM (And what's that I see? I'm the Top Listener? Shock me, shock me!)
-*- Pure Volume