Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Off the Dial

Music News, Reviews, Photos _ Podcasts

EP Review: The Episodes ~ Pilot

Posted by lmelvin On October - 3 - 2010

Written by Laura M

I love bands that are still at beginnings of their career.  They’re enthusiastic and determined, and sometimes you stumble across something pretty cool that not many people have discovered yet – like Montreal indie-rock band The Episodes.  Serge (guitar and lead vocals), Christ (bass), Spiro (drums) and Dina (keyboards and percussion) draw on the vibe of their city to create the energetically solid EP Pilot.

Opening track “Love Kills” has shades of The Fratellis “Chelsea Dagger” – fun, upbeat, and infectiously bouncy, meaning you’re going to be singing it long after you’ve stopped listening.  This track sets the energetic tone for the rest of the EP.  The band seems delightfully over-caffeinated throughout the album, mellowing slightly with fifth track, “Stay” before picking back up again to close strongly with final track “Mirrors”.

My favourite on Pilot is “On the Run” – and I do mean favourite.  This will probably end up on many future playlists.  It’s like the soundtrack to a smoke-filled gunfight in the Old West, complete with the Clint-Eastwood-whistle, but fought in a club in Montreal while the band on stage plays along.  Good stuff, The Episodes.  Eagerly waiting to see what comes next.

Popularity: unranked [?]

EP Review: the Fast Romantics ~ Kidcutter

Posted by tzimmerman On August - 22 - 2010

Written by: Thomas Zimmerman

The opening song of The Fast Romantics new EP starts out with a piano track that reminds me of a 50′s sock-hop.  It seems as if somebody got the “arpeggio” key stuck on the piano backing setup because it is almost always evident in this song. Don’t get me wrong, I occasionally enjoy listening to music from that era, and this band captures that feeling while combining it with a modern feel evident in the heavily effected electric guitar prominent throughout.

The second track “Denim Tuxedo” changes it up a little bit and adds some off-beat rhythms and introduces some minor chording that wasn’t utilized too often in the way back then, but it’s a great mix of old and new!  Hard-edged, a little on the dark side Beach Boys…that’s what always seems to come to mind while I’m listening to these guys.  I won’t admit this to just anyone, but when I was a kid I’d sneak out of my bed at night just to listen to another side of a Beach Boys LP (if you must know the album was Summer Fun, perhaps their best work, and it was their original vinyl).  So, from me that’s a compliment.

I like Kidcutter, although I don’t know if I could listen to it all the time.  Maybe just late at night when I want to sneak out of my bed and listen to it on the headphones really loud.  I can imagine going to one of their concerts and dancing all night with some of my favourite girlfriends.  It’s a fun album, something that seems to be missing from the music scene in recent years.  Major chords, upbeat tempos, and while I didn’t catch all the lyrics it seems like a relatively positive outlook of what’s going on in this crazy world of ours.

All in all, I would definitely recommend getting Kidcutter if for nothing else to have something upbeat to listen to while you drive through downtown.  The mental imagery is this; driving through some busy downtown restaurant section, and while hardly anybody does it any more, have the windows rolled down and crank it up a little bit, just to spread the happiness this album seems to portray.  Now, where is that darn LP?

Popularity: unranked [?]

EP Review: Daniel Moir ~ The Country and the Sea

Posted by lmelvin On May - 29 - 2010

Written by: Laura Melvin

When I first listened to Daniel Moir’s debut EP The Country and the Sea, I only knew the artist was from Edmonton.  That was all.  I didn’t read anything about him prior to hearing his music.  I listened blindly, finding his arrangements beautiful and his songwriting thoughtful.  The first word that came to mind was “mature”; I expected Moir to be a veteran musician.  Imagine my surprise when I found out he was only 20.

I quickly learned that I was not the only one surprised by his talent.  Off the Dial’s own Rob Latham caught Moir at a coffee shop gig in Vancouver and described Moir’s folk-inspired style as “Bob Dylan-esque”.  Latham stated in the article Edmonton Singer/Songwriters Set for Success, “Comparing anyone to the great Dylan is obviously a dangerous game, but Moir possesses a special musical talent that warrants the comparison”.

It’s a great accomplishment to be compared to a singer and songwriter like Dylan.  It’s even greater to be young and have the ability to so concisely convey a fact about the world.  In title track “The Country and the Sea”, for example, Moir manages to widdle down the complexities of life to a few words: “You get what you get and that’s all”.  Even the worldliest adults struggle with this concept and yet, at age 20, Moir is able to pare it down to eight words.

All five tracks on this debut EP are mature, peaceful, and well produced.  The Country and the Sea is a teaser – a few songs to peak your interest and introduce you to Daniel Moir.  I’m excited to see what this young artist creates when he has more than five songs to work with.  He’s at a wonderful point with his musical abilities where his youth blends with his old musical soul to create fresh and inspiring music.  Moir’s first full-length album, Road, drops July 9th.

Popularity: unranked [?]

EP Review: Boy With Robot ~ This Past November

Posted by mvkosinski On February - 1 - 2010

Written by: Matt Kosinski

I won’t lie to you folks: Boy With Robot are becoming a permanent fixture of my musical collection. See, the problem with loving music so much is that, when you acquire massive volumes of it every week, a lot of good bands get buried under the constant influx of new songs, bands, and albums. Conversely, the great bands, the bands that really know what they’re doing, the bands that write catchy, beautiful, and poignant tunes, they last much longer than a week on your playlist. Boy With Robot is exactly that kind of band, and This Past November sealed that deal.

The three songs on this E.P. are tender, poppy, brooding, sunny, and melancholic all at once. Yes, those are pretty disparate adjectives, but Boy With Robot yoke those seemingly opposing forces together with skill and finesse akin to Johnn Donne comparing love to a flea, and they do it just as successfully.

Okay, maybe I’m getting ahead of myself here. You’re probably rolling your eyes right now, thinking, “I can’t believe this guy is so pretentious that he just compared an electro-pop duo from New Jersey to the world-renowned king of metaphysical poetry.” I don’t blame you, really I don’t. But trust me when I say this: after a couple of listens to This Past November, you’ll be just as ebullient as I am right now.

This Past November kicks off with the title track, which rides a bouncy, sparkling piano line and faint pulses of bass-y synth. The lyrics find Matthew Schmid taking some heavy trips down memory lane, as he describes making what sounds like an abstract-expressionist version of a scrapbook (“I’m cutting colors out of paper/to make a mosaic of this past November/And I cut and paste/no particular shape/it’s just what I remember”). Throughout it all, he manages to weave interlocking strains of both sorrow and joy into it all, and, for that, it feels so real. Schmid could have easily only paid attention to either the happiness or the sadness of the past, but, rather than produce something so two-dimensional, he includes it all. During the chorus, Schmid and Kelly Millen Harmonize, and it adds a twinge of hope to the song, even though they spend their time comparing themselves to leaves falling from trees and trees that scream for spring. At the end of the song, Schmid and Millen’s vocals are echoed by some group shouts played through what sounds like a megaphone. It gives the song a sense of urgency that it’s buoyant meandering lacks up until then, but without overdoing it, and it works.

“Tuesday’s Blues” is a bit more grandiose, although still as minimalist as we’ve come to expect from the duo. The here piano is a little stately, as opposed to the levity of “This Past November,”  but still friendly and warm, creating a nice contrast with the basement electronic drumming that runs along in the background. Schmid and Millen deliver some pretty gorgeous musings on apathy, singing “I was stoned/I was trying not to care./I lit a cigarette/ just to throw it out somewhere.” Schmid and Millen deliver the lines in calm, almost unattached voices. Hovering just behind them, however, is another dub of Schmid’s voice, using his trademark, ragged howl. This contrast pretty much embodies what I love about Boy With Robot: for all of their minimalism, their laid-back approach, there’s real passion in what they’re doing. By melding that very real passion with their disaffected deliveries and song structures, they’re able to convincingly express emotion without getting sappy or sentimental.

Oh, and I almost forgot to mention: at the end of the song, the synths start soaring higher, the drums start getting distorted, and Schmid delivers a pseudo-hip-hop verse as Millen adds ghostly, drawn-out moaning in the background.  It’s every bit as quirky as it sounds, and, well, you guessed it: it works.

The E.P. ends with “You Can’t Blame Me,” which is just as bouncy as the title track. It follows the same formula as the two songs before it: piano line, faint synthesizer flourishes, and programmed drumming. Boy With Robot know better than to fix what isn’t broken. The twist on the formula comes at the end (Boy With Robot are always good with endings): the instruments drop out as Millen and Schmid deliver a surprisingly strong a cappella verse, their fractured voices ,mirroring the strain, fear, and hope implicit in the lyrics they sing, “The only answer I find/is to hold your body close to mine/’cause we’ll both turn to dust in time/just resting in pieces.” It’s a fantastic close to a fantastic E.P.

Popularity: unranked [?]

2009 Album of the Year

Posted by cristóvão On December - 31 - 2009

Written by: Chris Andrade

That time of year has come again where we recap the year’s new releases and tell you who we thought put out the best material of 2009. This year we’re doing things a little different. Before we get to the top 9 albums of 2009, we’re presenting to you an honour roll list of albums we thought were good and/or influential this year.

As always, we welcome your comments, espeically which albums you thought were the best of 2009. So feel free to scroll down and leave us your musical impressions of the last year of the Aughts.

2009 Honour Roll;

…And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead ~ the Century of Self; Breaking their bonds from Interscope and going it alone has produced an honest and artistically relevant effort from the boys of Austin, TX.
Against Me! ~ the Original Cowboy; A re-release of sorts (labeled as a demo in some circles), but delivered the way the group originally recorded it. Looking back, they now wish they didn’t bother re-record the songs for the eventual 2003 release Against Me! as the Eternal Cowboy and I tend to agree.
Alice in Chains ~ Black Gives Way to Blue; Returning with a new singer replacing the late Layne Staley was considered a risky move to many die-hard fans but this album is fantastic and William DuVall does an impressive job.
Arctic Monkeys ~ Humbug; Produced by Josh Homme, this is actually quite good and naturally, features a sometimes blatant stamp of their QOTSA producer.
Blakroc ~ S/T; Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney of the Black Keys teamed up with a number of hip-hop artists including Ludacris, Ol’ Dirty Bastard, Mos Def, RZA, Pharoahe Monch, Raekwon, Q-Tip and a few others to put forth an excellent combo that many salivated over.
Cage the Elephant ~ S/T; Upbeat, raw, energetic, fun and arriving in North America far too late.
CKY ~ Carver City; Sticking with their tried and tested formula, the West Chester, PA quartet return after a long absence and continue to grow their fan-base.
the Decemberists ~ the Hazards of Love; A fantastic concept album containing one of (if not) my favourite songs of 2009, “the Rake’s Song”. The recurring melodies and arrangements made it a tad repetitive but it’s great none-the-less.
Dinosaur Jr. ~ Farm; An excellent album containing yet another of my absolute favourite songs of 2009, “Said the People”.
the Fast Romantics ~ S/T; Winners of the 2008 Xposure prize from X92.9, these dapper fellas are making a name for themselves here at home in Calgary and abroad.
Franz Ferdinand ~ Tonight: Franz Ferdinand; Always serving up a good time, this album gets honours simply for the infectious “Ulysses”.
Matt Good ~ Vancouver; As cynical, soulfull and talented as ever, Good put out this album which is a homage of sorts to his hometown, as flawed (according to him) as it is.
Great Northern ~ Remind Me Where the Light Is; With former 30 Seconds to Mars guitarist Solon Bixler and the primary female vocals of Rachel Stolte, their sophomore album is really good. Hopefully we hear more of them soon.
Great Lake Swimmers ~ Lost Channels; Beautifully crafted indie-folk songs that soothe and move you simultaneously.
Hot Little Rocket ~ S/T; Calgary’s indie-rock darlings bid adieu to their fans with this fitting final album with a couple of exciting release/farewell shows.
Lucid 44 ~ Body Harm Sounds; Short enough to be an EP but full enough to be a full length, the former GutterAwl singer delivered another shining example that Calgary’s indie-music scene is loaded with talent.
Madcowboys ~ S/T; One of the most underrated bands in Calgary, their raw punk sound is accompanied by some of the most intelligent lyrics in a language most can understand…you just have to pay attention.
Matisyahu ~ Light; fusing his Hasidic Jewish roots with reggae, rock and hip-hop is not something you’d easily imagine could be pulled off but he does so in the most interesting of ways.
Metric ~ Fantasies; You can always count on the Canadian/American collaborators to put together a record that makes you want to move. And in answer to the question in “Gimme Sympathy”, I’d rather be the Beatles.
Modest Mouse ~ No One’s First and You’re Next; In the eyes of their most hardcore fans, they can do no wrong and with an EP like this, I can see why. Features “the Whale Song” whose video was conceived by the late Heath Ledger.
Monotonix ~ Where Were You When It Happened?; I was at their Concert of the Year show at the Distillery, and the way I look and expect a live gig should be has been changed completely forever. Missed the show? They’re coming back to Calgary in January 2010 and this album will give you but a taste of their madness.
Mos Def ~ the Ecstatic; You can scoff all you want but if all hip-hop/rap were like this, we’d all be better off for it. Plus his involvement in the critically acclaimed Black Roc has upped his already impressive cool factor.
Muse ~ the Resistance; Continuously evolving their sound in subtle yet significant ways, this album carries quite a few similarities to Queen among other acts of days gone by. An excellent collection of songs and it’ll prove to be even better live when they come to North America in the new year.
NOFX ~ Coaster; I love NOFX, and the fact that the vinyl version of this album is appropriately titled Frisbee is indicative of their humour but these tracks aren’t without political and social commentary.
Pearl Jam ~ Backspacer; Even Pearl Jam’s crap is excellent. Not enough to put it in the top 9, but “the Fixer” is actually deserving of being the lead single amongst some other great tunes.
Phoenix ~ Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix; Before the Daft Punk duo came to be, they played with these guys in a previous act. Why it took so long for these guys to make their mark is beyond me but we’re certainly glad they’ve broken out in 2009.
Spinnerette ~ S/T; Homme’s baby’s mama, Brody Dalle returns after the demise of her punk outfit the Distillers to offer a more alt-rock album than punk. Joined by former Distillers band-mate Tony Bevilacqua, Jack Irons of the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Alain Johannes of QOTSA, this is a solid release.
Street Sweeper Social Club ~ S/T; Rage Against the Machine/Audioslave guitar master Tom Morello teams up with Boots Riley (of the Coup) for an album that is fantastic, fun and catchy as fuck.
White Lies ~ To Lose My Life; Sounding like New Order/Joy Division can pay off well when you throw in your own unique feel. Plus the ladies seem to love it quite well.

2009 EP of the Year;

Secrets in Scale ~ Secrets in Scale EP; If this EP (which was released for free, BTW) included enough tracks to be considered a full length release, I would have easily named it the album of the year. That’s how amazingly good it is. From the great work-up “Introducing Emergency” (which is only a 60 second long instrumental precursor to the equally good “This Love”) to the infectious “Inside the Den”, to the epic closer “Wild in a Free World”, these guys are phenomenal and are worth keeping an eye on. Get your free copy of the EP on their MySpace page NOW!

    Top 9 of 2009;

    Propagandhi ~ Supporting Caste; The Canadian socially and politically conscience group from Manitoba return to bemoan the world, our society, killing animals and even patriotism at hockey games. It’s an excellent album, featuring music that’s just as much punk as it is hard rock and it’s so very, very good.
    Secret Broadcast ~ Exploding Spiders; One of two Calgary acts to make our top 9 this year, this album is fun and catchy and only begs the question; why aren’t these guys more popular? Do yourself a favour and get your hands on this record. You will NOT regret it.
    the Shagbots ~ We Were Born Tigers; The second Calgary act to make the top 9, the Shagbots sneaked in under the radar and delivered a raw, overwhelmingly fun record that gives Franz Ferdinand a run for the money in the dance-rock arena. I dare you to sit still through tracks like “Get Up Girl” and the inclusion of Christian Bale‘s infamous rant in “Lost Time” is one of my favourite songs of the year.
    Portugal. The Man ~ the Satanic Satanist; The Alaskan trio has grown into a burgeoning group of extremely talented musicians and their fourth album is utterly great. Increasing it’s value is the bonus disc/accompanying release the Majestic Majesty, an album of almost all Satanic Satanist tracks performed acoustically. Brilliant.
    White Rabbits ~ It’s Frightening; An excellent sophomore effort from this Brooklyn, NY group, they’ve enjoyed increased exposure with performances on the Late Show with David Letterman and features the unbelievably good lead track, “Percussion Gun” (which should be added to the list of Best Songs of 2009).
    Them Crooked Vultures ~ S/T; What do you get when you combine Josh Homme‘s singing, lyrical stylings, guitars with the fierce drumming of Dave Grohl and the classic, tried and true bass guitar mastery of John Paul Jones? An album that couldn’t have been more hyped! Although it failed to impress me on the first listen, it already proved it’s extreme worth upon the second spin and this record is sheer genius. We all want more!
    Silversun Pickups ~ Swoon; When the girlfriend insisted I give Silversun Pickups a serious listen after 2006′s Carnavas came out, I didn’t act fast enough. Three years later and this album has me hooked beyond belief and I should’ve listened sooner. Beyond “Panic Switch” and “Substitution”, there is an album that you have to listen from start to finish. It’s just that good.
    Gallows ~ Grey Britain; The moment I further damaged my hearing with their debut album, I knew I was going to be a fan for life. This follow-up album smashes you in the face with unbelievably heavy punk and metal tracks that, if you listen closely, paints an ugly but truthful picture of the world at large, and Frank Carter‘s tortured self. Right down to the exhausted, self destructive heaving breaths on final track “Crucifucks”, this is what punk, metal, alternative and frankly, any rock album should embody.

    Manchester Orchestra ~ Mean Everything to Nothing; With the list of eight albums above, I struggled to settle on this as the album of the year. Not because it isn’t worthy, but because Manchester Orchestra had some serious contenders to fend off, but there is no denying how good this album is. It moves you, shakes you, while you ponder the stories being told, reduces you to your bare self as you take self evaluation and makes you wonder where music like this has been hiding. Sometimes you have to be thankful for over-played catchy singles like “I’ve Got Friends” because it sucks you into ensuring you pay attention to what else is going on with the band and in this case, it’s well worth every radio play. With an album like this and the eight above, 2010 has a tall order on it’s desk and I certainly hope it delivers.

    Popularity: unranked [?]

    Video of the Day: NOFX ~ “Cokie the Clown”

    Posted by cristóvão On December - 3 - 2009

    NOFXThose who know me, know I’m a big fan of NOFX. And really, what (real) punk fan isn’t? So all us NOFX fans are super excited that not only is there some new material (yes, they JUST release a new album called Coaster) for us to salivate over, but a new hilarious video to go along with it,

    In a recent interview with Sully (Mike Sullivan) of ExploreMusic.com, Fat Mike spoke about how they didn’t make a video for any tracks off Coaster and had some extra songs kicking around from that album. With “Cokie the Clown”, it was the obvious choice to come up with a funny clip that features Fat Mike blasting prominent musicians in the face.

    Fat Mike was in Toronto to help produce the new Flatliners album and his label, Fat Wreck Chords is getting set to release a 3-disc Wrecktrospective next year to celebrate 20 years.

    Here’s the video for “Cokie the Clown”;

    Popularity: unranked [?]

    Edmonton singer/songwriters set for success

    Posted by rlatham On November - 18 - 2009


    Written by: Rob Latham

    For anyone who thought the current dirge of singer/songwriters was becoming all too dull and boring here are two superb Canadian performers who offer an exciting variation.

    Edmonton-based Stephanie Bosch, 21, and Daniel Moir, 19, are two very talented performers and songwriters who both share an incredible passion for music.

    I meet up with the pair before their gig at the Trees Organic Coffee House, in Vancouver, on Friday night (November 12) alongside local singer Cassandra Bangel.

    Speaking to them it is clearly obvious that playing, recording and performing music is what they live for.

    Bosch explains: “It’s what I want and there’s no back-up plan. Anything I could settle for wouldn’t be as good as this so not making it scares the shit out of me.

    “I’m afraid if I don’t reach what I want to achieve in music I’m not going to be happy in anything.”

    The pair performed an impressive acoustic set taking it in turns to play tracks, with Bosch performing songs from her debut album Departures and Moir songs from his debut EP The Country And The Sea.

    The evening got off to a good start with Bangel‘s unique blend of acoustic guitar, using both six and twelve-stringed instruments, piano and her spell-bindingly powerful vocals. Performing a host of her own well-written tracks Bangel also offered up an impressive cover of KT Tunstall‘s “Black Horse and the Cherry Tree” and two very entertaining renditions of tracks by The Dresden Dolls.

    Bosch and Moir‘s styles vary starkly yet also compliment each other well as they alternate on stage. Moir is clearly a very talented musician, as evidenced by his impressive bluesy-folky style guitar picking as well as a number of guitar solos towards the end of the show.

    Moir‘s music is more chilled out, although still retaining a rocky edge, but the general gist of his music carries a more folky feel as portrayed by his Bob Dylan-esque whistling in “The Buffalo Song” and “Laxadasical.” Comparing anyone to the great Dylan is obviously a dangerous game, but Moir possesses a special musical talent that warrants the comparison – not only is he accomplished on guitar and vocals he also excels on the bass guitar, piano, banjo, drums and harmonica.

    Both have a great ability for songwriting, Moir‘s style is more relaxed, deep and meaningful whereas Bosch focuses more on the personal emotions that impact upon her life. She has a naturally infectious singing voice with a great knack for writing songs that allow her to easily connect to her audience, such as the singalong “Broken Hearted Fool” with its colloquial style laughing noises and powerful, upbeat chorus.

    The pair join up for an impressive cover of “Can’t You See” by the Marshall Tucker Band, which shows off the pair’s talents, in particular a great guitar solo by Moir.

    Then Bosch shows off her versatility by playing an acoustic rendition of Marilyn Manson’s “The Beautiful People,” which really portrays the powerful voice she possesses in the strong, loud choruses contrasted by the shows of delicate fragility in her vocals that makes her performance so engaging,  as also seen in the songs “24 Hours” and “1982.”

    These two young musicians possess the writing and performing qualities and the musical ambition it takes to achieve great success in music and cannot afford to be missed in concert.

    To check out Daniel Moir’s music and upcoming gigs visit his MySpace page or buy his songs on iTunes.

    Stephanie Bosch will be on tour through January and returns to Vancouver for a special gig during the Winter Olympics at the specially setup Alberta House at 6pm on Saturday, February 20. Her album is available for free download here or visit her MySpace page for more music and tour dates.

    Popularity: unranked [?]

    EP Review: Desrtoyer ~ Bay of Pigs

    Posted by mvkosinski On September - 25 - 2009

    Written by: Matthew Kosinski

    Destroyer ~ Bay of PigsIf you had told me just a year ago that Dan Bejar of Destroyer would be penning a 13-minute disco epic, I wouldn’t have believed you. In fact, I probably would have laughed off the idea quickly, maybe patted you on the back and thanked you for your little piece of absurdist humor, and then been on my way without a second thought.

    And yet earlier this year, Bejar himself announced just that without so much as a slight tinge of sarcasm boiling under his words. So Destroyer fans waited patiently for Bay of Pigs to drop, and when it finally did a few months later they found themselves pleasantly surprised.

    Really though, is the song’s emergence that much of a surprise? Sure, dance music is far removed from Bejar’s typical folksy throwback pop, but this is a man who rose to popularity and critical acclaim because of the sonic curve-balls he’s so adept at throwing. As anyone who has even a faint familiarity with Destroyer’s past output would know, Bejar’s music is full of oddball idiosyncrasies, from his rambling madman vocal style, to his dense, highly self-referential lyrics, to his puzzlingly pleasing compositions themselves. It all adds up to set Bejar far, far from the pack, in a desperate, poetic universe all his own. So sure, on first thought disco is a highly unexpected turn for Destroyer, but once you chew on the idea for a little while, it starts to make sense.

    Now that we’ve established that the aforementioned 13-minute disco epic isn’t so far-fetched, we have to move on to the more important question; is it good? The answer; absolutely! Admittedly, Bejar’s announcement is a bit of false advertising. The song isn’t so much disco as it is void of a definite genre tag. It starts off as a quiet piece of meandering, minimalist electronica, swooping along lazily on what seems to be the sound of a spaceship taking off. After a couple minutes, the song starts to build slowly. Small bits of vocals, synthesizers, sequencers, and guitars begin occasionally emerging from the drone, breaking the monotony with an almost startling force, their melodic beauty only emphasized by the distinct lack of a melody in all of the noise behind them.

    With each brief verse, Bejar’s voice becomes more and more pronounced, escalating from his first whispered supplications of “listen, I’ve been drinking” into the hectic, semi-babbling of “love is a political beast with jaws for a mouth/I don’t care,” until finally, the song morphs into a weird approximation of disco, complete with thumping back-beat, hand-claps and a highly danceable guitar riff. It only lasts for 3 or 4 minutes of the song’s total run time, but it’s easily the song’s high point. A brilliant, joyful explosion that caps the slow, churning buildup which leads to it. Afterwords, the song descends once more into to the minimalism of the beginning, peeling each added layer away until there is only silence.

    The second and final song of the EP is the nearly 8-minute “Ravers.” Here, Bejar gives us more swirling minimalism. Unlike “Bay of Pigs,” “Ravers” never reaches coherent pop song status. Rather, the synths billow like ominously elegant clouds for pretty much the song’s entire duration, usually taking the back seat to Bejar’s disjointed delivery, although they do swell and burst in a couple places, delivering some needed release. Lyrically, the song is incredibly strong, possibly even stronger than “Bay of Pigs” but as a whole, “Ravers” falls a little flat. It drags on for too long without giving the listener the same kind of release that “Bay of Pigs.” Admittedly, the song’s shortcomings may very well be cast into light solely because of the powerhouse they follow. “Bay of Pigs” is a phenomenal work, and most songs would feel flimsy if they had to arrive on its heels.

    Popularity: unranked [?]

    EP Review: Pierre La Rouge ~ Men and Machines

    Posted by rlatham On September - 17 - 2009

    Written by: Robert Latham

    Pierre La RougeYou won’t have heard the name but this is certainly one to remember. Pierre La Rouge has an individual sound that emits songs to challenge the listener’s mind. The London-based singer’s intoxicating acoustic/indie style slowly draws you in and leaves you begging for more in Men and Machines, his debut three-track EP offering.

    The opening title track “Men and Machines” flatters to deceive as a run-of-the-mill, massaging acoustic song but soon bursts into electric life with a Killers-sized chorus and a host of engaging electronic beeps and tweeps dispelling the myth that acoustic music has to be dull and boring.

    The middle track “Devil With An Angel’s Smile” shows a real maturity to La Rouge’s music, with its hypnotic picked riffs through the verses offset by a delicious tremolo guitar sound supporting the chorus and La Rouge’s trademark descriptive lyrics drawing the listener further into the music.

    But La Rouge saves the best for last as the EP closes with the beautiful, dreamy “A Kiss Beneath The Pier,” where the singer’s raspy tones are allowed to shine above lightly distorted guitars. The track picks you up and dusts you off leaving you wanting to listen again and again to the track’s soft and delicious  thought provoking and imaginative lyrics.

    This is an impressive debut from La Rouge as he challenges the misconception that the modern crop of yawn inducing singer/songwriters have to be bland and boring. With such a strong, original beginning we can safely expect more good things to come as he matures on the London music scene.

    To check out Pierre La Rouge’s music visit www.myspace.com/pierrelarouge

    Popularity: unranked [?]

    EP Review: Dog Is Blue ~ …Makes Ghost Noises

    Posted by lmelvin On August - 27 - 2009

    Written by: Laura Melvin

    Dog Is Blue ~ Makes Ghost NoisesI often find that mainstream music lacks the poetry of indie.  There’s something about recording an album solo in a tiny city apartment that brings out the musician’s inner poet.  That’s what you get with Toronto musician Paul Watson, a.k.a., Dog Is Blue.  Love, aging, and mortality provide plenty of fuel for clever, poetic song writing on this quirky self-released album titled … Makes Ghost Noises.

    The abstract band name is fitting for this album’s abstract metaphors.  “Alligator Song”, as an example, compares trying to win over a lover to wrestling an alligator.  It may seem like an odd and ill-fitting metaphor for relationships, but who hasn’t felt like pleasing a lover was as futile and exhausting as wrestling an alligator?  Certainly creates some interesting imagery.

    The quirkiness doesn’t stop with metaphors, though.  Paul Watson of Dog Is Blue considers his music “Ghost-Folk”, which has been described as a modern take on the folk genre.  Watson had this to say about his unique music category:

    “It’s something I came up with for a number of reasons: First, there are a lot of ghost/death references in the album, though I wouldn’t say it’s somber by any means. Second, I didn’t really think the music fit perfectly in any of the pre-determined genres, not quite folk, not quite pop, etc. and, third, musical genres are often such an arbitrary thing. People are so obsessed with classifying everything into neat packages that I just wanted to make something up for the hell of it. Of course, at the end of the day it was just a fun term that I felt like bandying about.”

    Death has long been a muse for poets and musicians alike, and results in some seriously insightful quotes from Dog Is Blue.  So, I’ll leave you with a line from “Borrowing Days”, the first track on …Makes Ghost Noises; “Let us play our roles just send each other on our way/Meet again in the dust at the end of our borrowing days.”

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