Vancouver all-female choral crew Aliqua played their annual Christmas concert last week, selling out the Vogue in the process. Along with the usual yule-tide jams that go along with these kind of shows, the group dropped this pretty rad cover of Tegan and Sara’s “Where Does the Good Go?” Check it out…
Aliqua – “Where Does the Good Go?” (Tegan and Sara cover)
Much of the second album from this U.K. art-rock quartet comes on like what most of us had hoped the recent Massive Attack record would be: a dark and brooding affair that creeps like the Bristol trip-hop pioneers’ Mezzanine.
The heavy beats and ominous synths of “We Want War” are an excellent antidote to anyone who’s been looking for something to both move dancefloor butts and bleed eardrums (I know you people are out there somewhere) simultaneously.
The decision to augment tracks with sections played by a Czech orchestra gives the already violent tracks a more visceral feel. Lighter numbers break the tension, but even the track titles — “Attack Music,” “Fire-Power” indicate the band are drawing a line in the sand and preparing for battle. With what, isn’t entirely clear, but I’ll be damn sure to stay out of their way.
Los Angeles-based DJ/producer Flying Lotus didn’t just deliver one of the best records of the year with Cosmogramma. He created the mile-marker by which instrumental hip-hop will be judged for the next 10 years.
Although we’re still all grappling with that record’s brilliance, Pattern+Grid World seems like FlyLo’s way of saying he’s over it. Its seven tracks were written and recorded immediately following completion of Cosmogramma, but rather than coming off as a collection of tracks that didn’t make the final cut for the LP, Pattern+Grid World is yet another step forward.
The disc is made more for head-bopping than chin-scratching, and each song stands on its own, like a series of 12-inch A-sides with their own flavour. While Cosmogramma emphasized textures over beats, songs like the playful “Kill Your Co-Workers” offer a more visceral approach while still keeping the cinematic quality that pervades FlyLo’s best work. These “extra” tracks are far more than leftovers, and best pretty much anything else that came out this year.
It’s rare that an artist who spends time creating an outrageous aesthetic is able to match their look with their music. But Toronto’s own glam-rock jock Diamond Rings has done just that with his hotly anticipated Special Affections debut album.
So don’t let that bright stripe across John O’Regan’s face turn you off — this isn’t some trashy, throwaway electro project from the D’Urbervilles frontman. O’Regan has instead married Arthur Russell’s dance work with Joy Division’s dark moodiness and come up with indie-pop gold.
As Diamond Rings, O’Regan has done far more than just establishing a new sound and identity. He’s crafted a great set of songs filled with hooks and some fabulous vocal turns. Previously released “All Yr Songs” remains a highlight but newer tunes like “On Our Own” more than measure up to the smattering of tracks O’Regan put out in the past year, proof positive that Diamond Rings is one of the best new Canadian acts of the year.
Hollerado are a pretty rad band out of Southern Ontario who have already mounted ambitious tours to China and South America before they even had a distro deal for their excellent debut Record in a Bag (which actually comes in a zip-loc bag filled with confetti.
They also make some pretty fun music videos. The quartet previously shot a clip for “Americanarama” with friend-of-the-band Dave Foley mocking American Apparel CEO Dov Charney. Now they’ve gone and created this awesomely cheap “8-bit” version that was shot all in one take. Check it out below: even if you don’t dig the tune (WTF is wrong with you!), it’s worth it for the video alone.
It seems like all my favourite bands from when I lived in Halifax are coming out of the woods in some morphed or abridged form. Back in June I wrote about It Kills, which features 3/5 of I See Rowboats. Now the First Aid Kit have re-emerged as Writer’s Strike, the name-change no doubt a result of the higher profile (but not as great) Swedish duo of the same name. They’re also offering up a proper studio version of the track “Bad Time” a song they had previoulsy recorded live in their practice space and posted on YouTube as “Bad Time Worse Time.” They’re also heading out on tour across Eastern Canada that sees them in Toronto at the Silver Dollar on October 28. See you there?
Neil Young remains the most bad-ass man in rock. Witness the first fruits of his collaboration with Daniel Lanois, who builds walls of distorted guitars around Young’s voice and acoustic guitar, resulting in musical awesomeness. His new record Le Noise is out Sept 28.
Borrowing sounds from the ’80s indie universe, Parisian duo Anthem and KD, performing as Frank (Just Frank), have created a fantastic debut album filled with hooky songs. They fuse French, icy, cold wave beats and synths with warm Smiths and R.E.M.-esque chiming guitars, as well as abstract lyricism. The contradictions don’t end with the music; they pervade the entire album, from the lyrics to the stark grey and bright pink CD jacket, which depicts a WWII sympathizer having her head shaved in shame. It creates a sense of menace and paranoia that infiltrates the tracks sung in the band’s native French. Still, a wall remains between the two musicians and listeners ― there’s no sense we’re getting any glimpse into who these guys are. The standoff nature is nothing new, but these guys do it with panache, inviting us in then giving us nothing. It’s just another contradiction in the band’s intricate and compelling web of deceit.
Call it the work of a jaded, aging punk rocker who feels he never got his due, or clever satire that comments on the mass-commercialization of a genre to which many have dedicated their lives; what’s clear is that Ted Leo (like most self-respecting music fans in my opinion), is non-too impressed with Green Day‘s rock musical, American Idiot. And these guys were once lable-mates! (okay, never at the same time). You can check out the clip for the stand-out cut off The Brutalist Bricks below.
It’s been three years since we’ve heard from Bran Van 3000, that mysterious collective of Montreal musicians responsible for the track “Drinking In L.A.” and the excellent record Discosis. And even if their last effort Rose was a tad disappointing, when Jimmy Di Salvio rears his head, I for one take notice. The Bran Van mastermind and frequent collaborator Steve “Liquid” Hawley contributed to 2010 Polaris long-list nominee Misteur Valaire on the track “Ave Mucho” using the Bran Van moniker. What does this mean for the group’s future prospects? Who knows, but it took six years to pull together Rose, so we might only be at the half-way point kids.