Sunday, August 31, 2008


After a long hiatus for this mini-feature, I had another epiphany. Two songs I like very much, with a swaggering (or perhaps merely drunkenly stumbling) confidence, a twinkle in the eye, and a feeling of true indulgence. The biggest thing, though, has to be the wine...

I'm put together beautifully, big wet bottle in my first, big wet rose in my teeth. I'm a perfect piece of ass, like every Californian, so tall I take over the street, with high beams shining up my back, wingspan unbelieveable. I'm a festival, a parade. And all the wine is all for me.

So summer stains a sky with inky swirls that bring the thunder low. But I don't mind, I'm doing things and doing them with you. And if you're smart you'll put that book back down; you'll drag me to the floor, drag me down for more drinking wine, drinking wine in the afternoon...

Both released by critically acclaimed indie bands with their fair share of rabid fans; both bands with fantastic male vocalists. For The National, this is a moment of fun in their usually contemplative mood, while Franz Ferdinand is no beginner to mischief. Both are great to brighten up an afternoon, and maybe tempt you to crack open a bottle yourself.

Congratulations guys, you've got twins.

The National - All the Wine (from Alligator, 2005)
Franz Ferdinand - Wine in the Afternoon (from Eleanor Put Your Boots On single, 2006)

Search for more at The Hype Machine. Purchase albums or mp3's at Amazon, Amazon Canada, Amie St., cdbaby, or Insound.


"There is no nation of you, there is no nation of me..."

Ani DiFranco - Star Matter [Red Letter Year, 2008]

I've always been a mild fan of Ani DiFranco, never much of one to follow her work however. Her new album seems quite nice, however, and I foresee listening to it a good amount over the next few weeks. This one's a sweet little song, the first off the album to catch my attention.

Bitter:Sweet - The Bomb [Drama, 2008]

Bitter:Sweet are always great fun to listen to, and this song from their newest album is no different. There's something vaguely glamorous about Shana Halligan's vocals, and the songs are filled with the manic stylings of partner-in-crime Kiran Shahani, making the music busy, bouncy pieces of pop. This song was perfectly chosen as the theme of TV show "Lipstick Jungle" about wealthy, high-powered woman, as it feels fun, devilish and slightly dangerous.

Franz Ferdinand - Lucid Dreams [Madden NFL 09 video game, 2008]

A rollicking adventure of a song, typical of Franz, using the device of lucid dreams to explore the idea of escapism and the fun of it. Sad to hear this isn't a single from their forthcoming album, but definitely shows the gang are on full form.

The Pipettes - The Shoe That Fits (Vocal Mix) [Unreleased]

Alerted to this via Zeon, I immediately pounced on this new track from an old favourite. The Pipettes, though my listening has waned in recent months, were always a great band to listen to. Songs mostly about dancing and love or the lack thereof sung by girls with real character. Two have left to pursue solo careers, and two new girls have stepped up to the plate. This is an a capella version of the new track, ready to be remixed, and I'm a little charmed, though I'll have to see the final version.

Ten Kens - The Whore of Revelation
[Ten Kens, 2008]

A quite indie band from our good city of Toronto are Ten Kens, who seem quite promising. "The Whore of Revelation" is like a bizarrely haunting, crunching carousel. Ghosts live here. Their music is a fantastic mix of music-noise and craggy vocals. While not as catchy as other bands, I'm deeply impressed with Ten Kens, and I wish them success.

Helen Lawson - Something in the Wine
[Crossing the Bridge EP, 2008]

Helen Lawson is a London singer-songwriter with an absolutely beautiful voice that feels like it belongs to some bygone decade. This song is romantic, contemplative and feels like being enfolded in a cool bath. I'll be getting her full EP soon, and I fully expect to enjoy every song if they are as half as good as this one.

And don't forget, search for more at The Hype Machine; purchase albums or mp3's at Amazon, Amazon Canada, Amie St., cdbaby, or Insound.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008


Suffering from severe irritation as I've had to restore my iPod, which means I've got to re-add every song I own onto it and have lost all of my play counts. If the Best of 2008 albums wasn't already a monumental task...

That said, I've also acquired Amanda Palmer's fantastic debut, so I'm giving a glimpse at it with:

Amanda Palmer - Oasis

Off her long-awaited debut album, "Oasis" is the immediate favourite, reminding exactly why we love Amanda Palmer and her music so (even when the album drags a little). A casually told tale of a teenager being raped and procuring an abortion, it's a study of the apathy with which youth often addresses major sexual sitations.

UPDATE: It's looking a tad more dire, as my iPod is completely broken. I'll need to call in my warranty, which means tBoS will be pretty sparse for a while until my music listening chances are more often again.

And don't forget, search for more at The Hype Machine; purchase albums or mp3's at Amazon, Amazon Canada, Amie St., cdbaby, or Insound.

Monday, August 25, 2008


"Thou shalt not use poetry, art or music to get into a girl's pants; use it to get into their heads."

Some excellent tracks from albums in contention for my end of year best-of list...

Bloc Party - Ion Square [Intimacy, 2008]

Emily Wells - Symphony 1 in the Barrel of a Gun [The Symphonies: Dreams Memories & Parties, 2008]

Muke - Clockwork [Shutterspeed Lullabies, 2008]

Yael Naim - Toxic (Britney Spears cover) [Yael Naim, 2008]

Micah P. Hinson - Sunrise Over The Olympus Mons [Micah P. Hinson and the Red Empire Orchestra, 2008]

Shearwater - I Was a Cloud [Rook, 2008]

Why? - The Hollows [Alopecia, 2008]

Forest City Lovers - Sullen Seas [Haunting Moon Sinking, 2008]

Dan le Sac vs. Scroobius Pip - Thou Shalt Always Kill [Angles, 2008]

of Montreal - Wicked Wisdom [Lantana, 2008]

Death Cab For Cutie - Long Division [Narrow Stairs, 2008]

Got an intense crop here, guys. Can't wait to see what the next four months bring!

And don't forget, search for more at The Hype Machine; purchase albums or mp3's at Amazon, Amazon Canada, Amie St., cdbaby, or Insound.

Saturday, August 23, 2008


"Another concept we must ponder: Absence of genre makes the art grow fonder."

Artist: Emily Wells
Album: The Symphonies: Dreams, Memories and Parties


1. Symphony 1 In the Barrel of a Gun
2. Symphony 2 & the Click Boom Boom
3. Symphony 3: The Story (Featuring Count Bass D)
4. Symphony 4: America's Mercy War
5. Symphony 5 Was a Surprise
6. Symphony 6: Fair Thee Well & the Requiem Mix
7. Symphony 7: Dreams Memories & Heaven
8. Symphony 8 & the Canary's Last Take
9. Symphony 9 & the Sunshine
10. Symphony 10: Could This Really Be the End?

Emily Wells is an amazingly talented violinist and singer. Once headhunted by major record labels but striking out on her own to keep her artistic integrity, she made the right choice here: given the freedom to create the music she wants to, she's made one damn good album. LASTFM calls her music Symphonic Folktronica Fantasy, and though Wells dislikes genre titles (as do I), those words do give a great sense of what to expect on Symphonies.

Her music has so many ways to describe it. It's beautiful, mixing her gothic-but-not-exactly-dark-sounding voice with violin. It's a little dark and creepy, but also shiny and happy. It's extremely well written, but it also flows as stream-of-consciousness thoughts. It even contains elements of rap, with a one off appearance by Count Bass D actually working extremely well. It's like simultaneously floating along a ray of sunshine and wandering, lost and worried, in a dark labyrinth.

Take a little Emilie Autumn without Autumn's morbid streak, with a dash of the theatricality and instrumental skill of The Dresden Dolls and a sprinkling of the playful darkness and the harmonising vocals of The Pierces, and you're halfway there. This is one of few albums that I can sit and listen to straight through without changing artists. I'm holding back the best track off this album for this year's Top 100 Tracks list, but really all the tracks are well worth a listen.

Emily Wells - Symphony 10: Could This Really Be the End?

Emily Wells - Symphony 2 & the Click Boom Boom

IF YOU LIKE: Emilie Autumn - How Strange | The Dresden Dolls - Mrs. O | The Pierces - Secret

And don't forget, search for more at The Hype Machine; purchase albums or mp3's at Amazon, Amazon Canada, Amie St., cdbaby, or Insound, and listen at LastFM.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008


"You remind me of me because you don't like me..."

Artist: Various Artists
Album: Indiecater, Vol. One


1) Burning Codes - It's Alright (Belfast)
2) Slushco - Astronaut (Atlanta)
3) Storkboy Choons - Rockfield Symphony (Kells)
4) The E.L.F. - Cockroaches (Sydney)
5) Foreign Slippers - Packed The Car (Norrkoping)
6) Beaten Awake - You Remind Me of Me (Kent, Ohio)
7) Call To Mind - (Untitled) (Inverness)
8) Empty Rooms - We've Been Waiting for You (San Francisco)
9) Cymbals Eat Guitars - Share (New York)
10) Michael Knight - Dumbshow (Director's Cut) (Dublin)

This is a fascinating project: An internet-only compilation of small-time bands unable to get the promotion of major labels, put together by a good-hearted music blogger. This way, the bands get a bit of money and exposure, and the blog gets the attention gained from a new, exciting project being released. However, is the music any good?

Well, both yes and no. The music is quite good technically, and enjoyable to listen to, that's not debateable. Beaten Awake's "You Remind Me of Me" is very listenable; Michael Knights' puzzling "Dumbshow (Director's Cut)" manages to work (barely) despite having a lot of voices going 'ahhhhh' along with music; Storkboy Choons' "Rockfield Symphony" is a nice, shiny 80s-inspired song that I'll probably not listen to again; and Cymbals Eat Guitars' "Share" is a nice moody piece.

Foreign Slippers' "Packed the Car" is a sad, regretful piece that I rather like, with a female vocalist taking the lead. Call to Mind's untitled offering is one of the strongest, a quiet, echoing song best listened to with one's eyes closed. The E.L.F.'s "Cockroaches" is a bizarre tribute to the titular creature, but its fun to taps along to the beat. Empty Rooms' "We've Been Waiting For You" is a song that just feels massive and open, with echoing vocals and a stong beat underneath. Slushco's song, "Astronaut", is probably the warmest, most accessible song, and the one from the band I could easily see gaining greater success. And, finally, Burning Codes' "It's Alright" is a nice, simple song mostly composed of its title as lyrics sung by multiple voices, a little similar to ""Dumbshow (Director's Cut)".

In the long term, I can only see listening to maybe half the tracks on here more than once, but there's enough here to appear to a number of different tastes. One discouraging aspect is the tendency of these artists to overwhelm the vocals with haze and echoes, as it really does lessen the power of the singing. That said, it's a decent compilation, especially considering its genesis. I do hope future volumes will be stronger, though.

Slushco - Astronaut
Empty Rooms - We've Been Waiting For You

And don't forget, search for more at The Hype Machine; purchase albums or mp3's at Amazon, Amazon Canada, Amie St., cdbaby, or Insound, and listen at LastFM.

Monday, August 18, 2008


"So what? I'm still a rock star, I got my rock moves, and I don't need you tonight."

What does an angry rock singer like P!nk do when she goes through an ordeal like a divorce? Get back on the horse and show the world exactly how awesome she still is. The song is a daring 'fuck you' to her now ex-husband, detailing a night in her newly single world, determined to show exactly how fine she is. The power of this song doesn't come from its seductive look at being P!nk and her ability to get a table in the same joint as Jessica Simpson, but rather the depth of the anger and betrayal behind her performance of this song. You can tell, no matter how hard she fights it, she's struggling with anger; but she's also refusing to let it get her down and wreck her. Somehow, she manages to convince us that, yeah, she'll be a hell of a lot better than okay if she can just kick somebody's ass.

P!nk - So What [TBD 2008]

And don't forget, search for more at The Hype Machine; purchase albums or mp3's at Amazon, Amazon Canada, Amie St., cdbaby, or Insound, and listen at LastFM.


"Show me the way down to Barnacle Bay...."

Artist: Muke
Album: Shutterspeed Lullabies [TBR September 2008]


1. Dreamsicle
2. Sirens
3. Clockwork
4. Electric Skyline
5. Swingsets
6. Sunflower Circus
7. Barnacle Bay
8. Forest Chant
9. The Hamburger Waltz
10. Hanglider

Muke is a charming two-person outfit from Eugene, Oregon. Made up of college students Madeline Liebowitz and Luke Kuzava, they create airy, beautiful pop music. "Shutterspeed Lullabies" is a fantastic name for the albnm, and the second word especially fitting. Their lyrics are fluffy and happy, and their music is like a warm bath. You can just sit there floating in it, smiling. My favourite off the record is "Swingsets", a sweet little song that just makes me inexplicably happy.

Also winners are their "Clockwork" and cheeky "The Hamburger Waltz", the latter of which pokes fun at every advertising cliche known to man. My only regret is the lyric "If you don't like hamburgers you're a communist!", only because it would have been a braver and more current statement on fear-mongering to replace 'communist' with current media favourite 'terrorist' (and look, it fits perfectly in there, too!). Though, I guess 'communist' is more possessions-based, so I'll let it slide. Anyhow, the song points out exactly how manipulative advertising and media are, which makes me very happy nonetheless.

And hey, indie purists! These guys are about as indie as you can get! Get their music before they sell out, eh?

Muke - Swingsets
Muke - The Hamburger Waltz

IF YOU LIKE: Fleet Foxes - White Winter Hymnal | Lykke Li - My | The Bird and the Bee - Polite Dance Song

And don't forget, search for more at The Hype Machine; purchase albums or mp3's at Amazon, Amazon Canada, Amie St., cdbaby, or Insound, and listen at LastFM.

Friday, August 15, 2008


It's August, and the end of the year is rapidly approaching. There are so many amazing releases coming in the next four months, and I'm already behind on listening to what I've already got, trying to educate myself best for my annual Best Of lists - 10 Best Albums of 2008 and 100 Best Tracks of 2008. That said, though, I'll be damned if I'll miss out on a worthy release merely because I hadn't thought to seek it out.

So, my question to you: What albums (or individual tracks) should I listen to in order to be fully ready for the end of the year lists? Which would it be a tragedy for me to ignore? Don't worry whether I already have it, neither, because I'm very interested to see what you guys think will be contenders come list day.

TRACK: Los Campesinos - My Year in Lists

Thursday, August 14, 2008


"I just want my trophy back; it's not for sale."

Another roulette, coming right up!

Maxïmo Park - The Coast is Always Changing [A Certain Trigger, 2005]

Lykke Li - Dance Dance Dance [Youth Novels, 2008]

Emily Wells - View From a Blind Eye [Beautiful Sleepyhead and the Laughing Yaks, 2006]

Bat For Lashes - Trophy [Fur and Gold, 2007]

Sondre Lerche - After All [Phantom Punch, 2007]

And don't forget, search for more at The Hype Machine; purchase albums or mp3's at Amazon, Amazon Canada, Amie St., cdbaby, or Insound.


"My mind races with all my longings, but can't keep up with what I've got."

Bloc Party - This Modern Love [Silent Alarm, 2005]

I've been enamoured of this song since it was used perfectly to the heartbreaking end of the first season finale of "How I Met Your Mother". I love the upbeat-yet-downbeat feel of the song, and the fact that the singer sounds often like he's singing into an intercom. Jump left!

Boney M -Bahama Mama [Oceans of Fantasy; 1979]

I've been a fan of Boney M's since I first heard the riotous "Rasputin", and their signature style is used to perfection here. A story of a 'bahama mama' in desperate need for husbands for her six beautiful, rich daughters that plays like a virtual ad for moronic bachelors. It's very endearing, with its 80's sound, horns and group singing.

Bright Eyes - Road to Joy [I'm Wide Awake It's Morning, 2005]

Based musically on the very famous 'Ode to Joy', this Bright Eyes piece will always be ingrained in my mind from its memorable placement in the "Heroes" pilot, wherein drug user Isaac is discovered to have overdosed. After that scene I looked out for this song, and found that I actually liked it beyond background music when I did. A great, sometimes self-deprecating, character piece, whether about Conor Oberst himself or a creation.

And don't forget, search for more at The Hype Machine; purchase albums or mp3's at Amazon, Amazon Canada, Amie St., cdbaby, or Insound.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008


One of the most steady, intriguing collections out there is Vitamin Records' set of stunning string quartet tributes. Running the gamut from Evanescence to Tool to Alanis Morissette, they've covered a lot of bases, and have done it beautifully. I'd like to introduce some of my favourite works from my small sampling of their releases.

Vitamin String Quartet - There's A Good Reason These Tables Are Numbered Honey, You Just Haven't Though Of It Yet (Panic at the Disco cover)
Vitamin String Quartet - Nine in the Afternoon (Panic at the Disco cover)
Vitamin String Quartet - I Write Sins Not Tragedies (Panic at the Disco cover)

Vitamin String Quartet - Somewhere a Clock is Ticking (Snow Patrol cover)
Vitamin String Quartet - Run (Snow Patrol cover)

Vitamin String Quartet - How Soon is Now? (The Smiths cover)
Vitamin String Quartet - Miss Misery (Elliott Smith cover)

These are all flawless, layered translations that, while all performed by a string quartet, mange to have a variety in tone and feel while all sounding grand. Enjoy!

And don't forget, search for more at The Hype Machine; purchase albums or mp3's at Amazon, Amazon Canada, Amie St., cdbaby, or Insound.


"Nobody wants to see a beating heart."

Another roulette, though I do apologise for the scarcity of the posts lately.

The Chapin Sisters - Kill Me Now [Lake Bottom, 2008]
(BONUS: The Chapin Sisters - Borderline [Madonna cover])

The Chapin Sisters are a group of actual sisters, Abigail and Lily Chapin, and Jessica Craven, whose dark, sad and heavy folk here weighs down your heart beautifully. Their voices intertwine in a lovely way. Hear an original song, pleading for a lover to kill them; and their reimagining of a Madonna hit.

Bitter:Sweet - Take 2 Blue [The Mating Game, 2006]

A playful, satiric jab at modern life and its ease with antidepressants and other 'pills' as a curative for all the ills in life. A handy filter gives lead singer Shana Halligan the feel of an announcer or voice through a telephone, sweetly instructing us to bend to the pressures of life and 'take 2 blue'. See, now don't you feel lovely? Now good night.

Great Lake Swimmers - The Man With No Skin [Great Lake Swimmers, 2003]

There's something earthy and natural about Great Lake Swimmers, something about their music that, at a visceral level, sounds like the mountains singing. I think it's Tony Dekker's voice, which feels like the lines that run through a stone when you break it and draw your finger across it, or else like the wind echoing through the peaks. This song in particular is a beautiful look at the nature of vulnerability.

Los Campesinos! - Death to Los Campesinos! [Hold On Now, Youngster..., 2008]

Los Campesinos!, a Welsh band so fantastic they require an exclamation mark at the end! It fits, too, because listening to them automatically means I'm bouncing in my seat. A duet swinging between Campesinos Gareth and Aleksandra, this is a wonderful piece of dance-about music. Note that they have another album due out in a couple months, as well.

And don't forget, search for more at The Hype Machine; purchase albums or mp3's at Amazon, Amazon Canada, Amie St., cdbaby, or Insound.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008


A man destined to hang can never drown...

While I work on the next installment of Special Guest Starring, here's some songs you may enjoy...

Calexico - Two Silver Trees
Album: Carried to Dust, 2008

The lead single for Calexico's upcoming album, Carried to Dust, is exactly what you'd want from them. A misty, dusty, beautiful piece of music full of voices coming from the shadows. Can't wait to get my hands on the album.

Regina Spektor - Daniel Cowman
Album: Songs, 2002

In a style familiar to Regina Spektor fans, this is an unsettling song haunted by ideas of mortality and fate. With Spektor playing a mourning piano in the background, an imaginary protagonist named Daniel Cowman struggling with his existence, fate, and eventual death. Every song Spektor produces has the feel of a dream, and that is in full force here, the song being populated with bizarre anecdotes about gin and drowning in bathtubs.

Aviary Ghost - Somewhere Else
Album: Memory is a Hallway, 2008

From the band's self-released second album, Memory is a Hallway, this is a recent discovery. A glittery, charming piece of work, though it does feel a bit rough and underproduced, forcing the vocals and music to work against each other instead of mesh properly. That said, I believe that with a bit of work they could be another great band.

Mark Snow, Pete Anthony & The Hollywood Studio Symphony - March And Dig/Girl In The Box
Album: X-Files: I Want to Believe OST

I'm not a fan of the X-Files like some friends, though that's moreso because I was too young to enjoy it when it started. However on their recommendation I decided to check out the score for the just-released second movie, and it's, well, amazing. Shivering, creepy, full of hidden niches and subtle sounds, yet also quite beautiful. On first listen, this piece in particular stood out.

And don't forget, search for more at The Hype Machine; purchase albums or mp3's at Amazon, Amazon Canada, Amie St., cdbaby, or Insound.