Saturday, January 31, 2004

Fans of piano-led ambient music should definitely heard Harold Budd's newest, La Bella Vista. The album captures two performances by Budd which were performed on Daniel Lanois' restored turn-of-the-century steinway. What's interesting is that Budd wasn't aware that he was being recorded, assuming that his work was simply being performed for Lanois and others. Though the songs often have a sombre feel, the dancing piano notes on some pieces is quite uplifting. A gorgeous release that could have come out at any time during the artists' lengthy career.

posted by Jonathan

Thursday, January 29, 2004

Great news for fans of The Frames!!!! The Frames, an Irish band who seems to need a new US distribution deal for every one of their releases (which, sadly, reflects their small North American fan base) is now signed to Anti, who will release the band's live album, Set List. For fans of the band, you'll be happy to hear that 6 of the 13 songs come from their best album, Dance the Devil. I believe four or five come from the 2001 follow-up, For the Birds.

posted by Jonathan

A great little Q&A with Mark Kozelek, courtesy of Eye magazine. Unfortunately, no questions about the future for Kozelek. It's nice to know that the Red House Painters are still together, but I'm just as interested in finding out about solo albums, new Sun Kill Moon albums, or whatever. Very sad I won't be at the show tomorrow night, but am sure it will be amazing.

There is a new Múm album due out in April, as reported in Pitchfork. The album has already leaked online, and I'm still not sure what I think of it. The album seems to lean more towards the darker sounds of Sigur Ros, and the vocals on this album (which I assume are still supplied by Gyða Valtýsdóttir and Kristín Anna Valtýsdóttir) reminded me WAY too much of young Taylor Momsen singing "Where Are You Christmas" in How the Grinch Stole Christmas. And no, that's not a compliment.

A couple of great album reviews have recently popped up, and are definitely worth checking out. Dave Queen offers up hilarious anecdotes to review the A.M.'s s/t album, and Pitchforkmedia's Nick Sylvester uses the artistic talents of Farley Katz to slam Daft Club, Daft Punk's remix album. [Note to Pitchfork: in the future, more pictures, less text!]

posted by Jonathan

Thursday, January 22, 2004

Eye Magazine's 2003 Critic's Poll results are up on the site now. Nothing really surprising about the results, though it's always nice to see so many Canadian acts doing well on a year-end poll (Canadians fared quite well on the Pitchfork poll as well). Also great to see the Jim Guthrie album getting enough love to place at number 10. The only downside to the poll results is that they didn't draw any quotations from Mark P's submission, as he had some very insightful views about the year in music (though he's also failed to put them on his blog!).

This week's Eye Magazine also annouces the following show:

DIZZEE RASCAL w/ Sassa'le. Mod Club Theatre, 722 College. Feb 5.

All I can say to that is, for those people living in Toronto (or the Toronto area), GO GO GO GO GO GO GO!!!!! Even if you haven't heard the album, do NOT miss out on this opportunity.

posted by Jonathan

Fans of Papa M's album Live At the Shark's Cage, which remains one of the best post-rock instrumental albums, you'll be happy to know that a lot of David Pajo's early EPs will be released in one compilation. Though I admire Pajo's more recent work, I find it to be a little to comparable to Will Oldham, whose work under the Bonnie 'Prince' Billy name is, to me, far superior to Pajo's attampts at lo-fi alt country.
Pitchfork also reports that Sufjan Stevens will be releasing an album of songs that didn't make last year's gorgeous Greetings From Michigan, The Great Lake State, called Seven Swans. It's an interesting idea, but considering Stevens plans of releasing one album per state, the guy should be weary of flooding the market with bonus material.

posted by Jonathan

Wednesday, January 21, 2004

I was just trying to do work while playing "Bye Bye Butterfly" from Pauline Oliveros' album Electronic Works. Seems the sonic assault from the oscillators piqued my cat's interest, who leapt up on the stereo then stared in every corner of the room looking for the source of the sound. Not sure if he enjoyed it or not (the orchestrated bit certained startled the little bugger), but it certainly excited him for the 8 minutes it was on.
Though the three tracks on the album are very different approaches to exploring tape music, this latter track is likely the most listenable. The others, clocking in at approximately thirty minutes each, are more drawn out experiments that likely require quality headphones to be appreciated.

posted by Jonathan

Jeremy of the Junior Boys has a blog. His January 17, 2004 post says the album is finished, and will be released in early spring. This is VERY EXCITING NEWS!!!

posted by Jonathan

Monday, January 19, 2004

Tom Waits' soundtrack to One From The Heart, filled with Waits/Crystal Gayle duets, is set to be reissued by Sony's Legacy label on January 27, 2004. There are also two bonus tracks added to the tracklisting, and I'm assuming the entire album has been remastered. For Waits fans who may have reservations about Gayle's vocals, don't! There are some classic Waits/Brennan compositions on the album, and Gayle put herself in Waits hands, following all vocal directions he gave when making the album.

posted by Jonathan

Sunday, January 18, 2004

Telefon Tel Aviv - Map of What is Effortless (Hefty Records) release date: January 27, 2004
Telefon Tel Aviv's debut album, Fahrenheit Fair Enough, was filled with gorgeous downtempo IDM soundscapes that contained the right amount of glitches and bleeps to attain a level of uniqueness in a genre flooded with sameness. The band has not neglected this style on their new release, Map of What is Effortless, but have improved on production and have taken the music in a variety of directions, from a beaty Massive Attack-flavoured "Bubble and Spike" to the moving orchestral title track (which would fit perfectly on a film score). The addition of vocalists requires TTA fans to adjust to the change, but after a few listens, you realize that the band has chosen the right type of voices to enhance the music. Only "My Week Beats Your Year" really goes off track, with a chorus almost akin to house music, but TTA succeed in making a killer dance track. The album closes with "At the Edge of the World You Will Still Float," and song that contains a similar pacing and feel to the Basement Jaxx' Kish Kash closer, "Feels Like Home." With the downtempo feel and gorgeous soulful vocals, TTA bring their brilliant new journey to an end.

posted by Jonathan

Saturday, January 17, 2004

The Elected - Me First (Sub Pop) release date: February 4, 2004
The Elected's debut album could be classified as indie-country with singer Blake Sinnett doing his best impression of Conor Oberst from the Bright Eyes. None of this should come as a surprise since Blake Sinnett is from the band Rilo Kiley, a band whose last album was released on the Bright Eyes label Saddle Creek, and who created music that was a cross between indie rock and country. Sinnett's sweet vocals help tell stories familiar to many, be they to ex-girlfriends about finding a new love, or tales between friends. Comparing Sinnett's vocals is not necessarily a compliment (I've never understood BE's success at all), because like Oberse, when Sinnett gets excited, his voice becomes quite loud, overbearing, and out of tune. Though most of the album comes off as a quietly melodic affair, The Elected decide to lose their mind on "Go On," a song which opens with out-of-place electronic beats but soon get on track with a more wailing guitar and an ecstatic Sinnett. The problem with The Elected is that they want to have too many influences. Their bio suggests they find solace from both the Midnight Cowboy soundtrack and the Aphex Twin. Sadly, their attempts at integrating any sort of electro-flavouring sounds like a band trying too hard . . . and failing. The tracks led by a twanging guitar and a more indie-folk feel is where the band succeeds. It is their attempts outside of the indie-country setting, be it through electro beats and distorted vocals, that ruins an otherwise entertaining album.

posted by Jonathan

Upcoming albums reviewed here!!! Hopefully I'll get a few more done in the coming week or so, including The Elected, Franz Ferdinand, Telefon Tel Aviv and the Lambchop albums.

Savath + Savalas - Apropa't (Warp) release date: January 27, 2004
Savath + Savalas is a Scott Herren project (whose profile has risen considerably under the guise Prefuse 73) that started in 2000 with the release of Folk Songs for Trains, Trees and Honey. That album is filled with gorgeous ambient techno glitchy goodness, so softly played that this highly complex combination of acoustic and electronic melodies can be mistaken for background music (believe me, it is not). Herren returned to the Savath + Savalas name this year with Apropa't, but has traded the electro-acoustic sound for Catalan music, with the help of singer Eva Puyuelo Muns. Herren recently moved to Barcelona, met up with singer Muns, and has created an album with more sweeping, almost orchestral melodies. Eva fills out the songs singing in Spanish and Catalan. In a recent issue of Urb, Herren suggests that this album may be bought up by Prefuse fans for the kitsch factor, as people might enjoy having a foreign language album in their collection. While this may be true, fans will instead find an album that seems to plod along at a painfully slow pace, without the background complexities that the debut Savath album contained. Eva's vocals come off in a monotone, boring presentation, and the music only occasionally tries to challenge the listener. Herren may pique people's interest in Catalan music, which may be a mistake if listeners realize that Herren's project is a poor reflection of a worthwhile genre.

Air - Talkie Walkie (Astralwerks) release date: January 27, 2004
Air's history is a unique one, with them first exploding onto the French house scene with "Sexy Boy", then coming out with the Virgin Suicides soundtrack in 2000 with the insanely addictive "Playground Love." Unfortunately, they kind of lost me on their darker 10,000 Hz Legend, but they have totally won me back with Talkie Walkie. Under the production of Nigel Godrich (Radiohead, Beck), Talkie Walkie is a dark exploration of pop music. The band continues to use various pop sensibilities to make sweet bouncy melodies, but have slowed the pace. The first thing to note is that the Jean-Benoît Dunckel and Nicolas Godin, who ARE Air, perform all of the songs without guest players or singers. In a sense, Air has returned to a lot of the ideas reflected on their first album (see the computer generated "Remember" or the gorgeous instrumental "Ce Matin La" from the debut) by creating an aural atmosphere that uses repetition to create catchy songs. Though January albums are often forgotten by year end best-ofs, it would be impossible to forget the gorgeous flow of Talkie Walkie. Aside from the bonus live DVD, which comes with the limited edition set, fans are also treated to the song "Alone In Kyoto," originally released on the Lost in Translation soundtrack.

more to come soon . . .