Sunday, January 29, 2006

Parricide v1.02.1 Jordan Robson-Cramer et Mathieu Malouf

MAGIC WEAPON - Fireflies.mp3

As I'd promised below, here's a new track from MAGIC WEAPON, which is the nom de chanson recently adopted by Mathieu Malouf and Jordan Robson-Cramer. You'll remember them from Parricide v1.02, Jordan is the multi-instrumentalist who's also doing time with Sunset Rubdown (who'll be on tour with Frog Eyes later this spring and have a new EP out on Global Symphonic) as well as Boite-Noire's friendliest clerk, and Mathieu is the curator of Concordia's Cafe X Gallery and master of . There's a little touch of the same analogue-synth stutter rap style a la Ratatat in this song, and that hook at the end is one of the catchiest I've heard in a long-time, I hope it segues into a fully-blown song on the next track. Magic Weapon now has a name, a Myspace page, the love of adoring fans, and hopefully some shows scheduled in the future.

Bonus Mp3s To Compensate For My Lack of Updates
The Coachmen - Household Word.mp3 (for Dan)
Josef K - Sorry For Laughing.mp3
Paul Haig - Ghostrider.mp3 *
Orange Juice - Louise Louise.mp3
Book of Lists - Points of Arrival and Departure.mp3 +

* Paul Haig was the frontman of Postcard Records' Josef K. This version, most people will agree, is far superior to The Rollins Band's unfortunate butchering of the track on the soundtrack to The Crow.
+ I've written about them before - The Book of Lists are one of my favourite bands in Vancouver, if not Canada, right now. Fronted by former Radio Berlin guitarist and vocalist Chris Frey (also, one hell of a photographer and swell guy), let's hope a full-length to follow up last year's superb EP Red Arrows shows up soon.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Parricide v1.03: Telefauna

An ambitious pop quartet running Devo and genre-specific pop allusions (that Cultural Studies degree has real-world applications?) through lo-fi circuitboards, Telefauna is another entity making castles in the early 20s sandbox, applying a rare eye for technique and craft that isn't obsessive (fourty guitars layered through your four-track does not an album make), or half-assed, but made in the same spirit as The Go! Team. At last year's Pop Montreal they packed PreLoved's in-store with an enthusiastic set hampered only slightly by a number of tech. difficulties (crappy mic stands, a bitchy and unco-operative drum machine) and won over the crowd, and this year promises more good things for the kids, who package up a lot of promise, talent, wit and good natured fun. Truly!

Telefauna - Phantom Limb

Telefauna's First EP was self-released late last year, a dynamite stick of a four-song release packed with ideas, hooks and that cleverly knicked production techniques from hip-hop's leading lights. Culturally aware, but not trapped in some nightmarish feedback loop, it was a promising first shot from their camp, refugees from the Thunder Bay gulag. What's the last thing good to come out of T. Bay since domestic comic strip For Better Or For Worse? Is that even from there? Do I keep making the same unfunny and incorrect joke over and over again? Phantom Limb is one of the stand-out tracks on the EP, featuring a percussive wah-wah rhythm guitar, analogue synth-stabs which transform into octave jumping and rolling basslines, that form the basis of a pretty stomping song that ends in over-dubbed arpeggio. Sweet.

Telefauna - The Latest Information (Booji Boy Version)

This song's not a single from a recording session just completed with Graham Van Pelt, whom you'll remember from Parricide v1.01., but they will be working with him in the future. Of The Latest Information (Booji Boy Version), Tyler says it "might just be a single, or if it stands up, we may rework it" for a new release, set to see the light of day in 3 or 4 months. It satiates the market's demand for melodies based on the the Arabic scale and rhythms, which grew out of the cultural uncertainty citizens of the West now feel after 9/11. Like Aladdin, which articulated the dearly held myths about the Middle East and Arabic culture of many North Americans. That is, there are genies (mostly wacky, sometimes evil), and there are royal families, and also, shady merchants. Everyone wears billowing and pleated pantaloons.

As befits a bunch of youngsters who've yet to have their dreams dashed on the jagged rocks of reality or post-graduate aimlessness (I didn't even get that far!), they cast their talents far and wide: front-man Adam Waito devotes some of his time to the handsomely-designed gender studies journal G-Eunuch; Tyler Rauman is an accomplished illustrator who's hand can be seen behind some of the more phantasmical posters around town (get a glimpse here); Katherine Peacock has her own project, the psych-pop cabaret group Dorian Hatchet; and Ian Goodman, well, peek over at his myspace page for the details on that...

Check out more mp3s and buy their EP at

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Flaky Disco!

Alex Lemieux, one of the premier curators of left-field disco at Zoobizarre (amongst many of the other hats he wears - Les Georges Leningrad manager, MEG programmer, occasional bartender, promoter of the Champagne & Sparks cocktail) just started up the Flaky Disco blog. Witness!

Monday, January 09, 2006

Parricide v1.02: Jordan Robson-Cramer

I've known Jordan Robson-Cramer for a number of years now - first encountering him as the precocious youngster who showcased a Sven-Gali like mastery of his first high-school band, whom I caught playing beside city hall in the summer of 2001, and from there as excitable contributor to bands and projects in Victoria (Short Pants Romance1, for one), who maintained a studio in the basement of his mother's suburban home, and was often spotted with a bag of candy in his hand and a whole smattering of enthusiastic opinions on music he was discovering. 21st Century Fox, a small studio project, showcased a love of frantic, neu!-wave leaning art rock harkening back to the better elements of The VSS' catalogue (Nervous Circuits!), and was sold as a CD-R at Ditch Records.

Jordan, at left, with Toronto's favourite electrician, Derek. Note to Jordan's mother: he does not smoke.

Like many good people Victorian, he's since moved to Montreal, making himself known as probably the only one of the ex-pats who's French-speaking, tinkering a bit under the moniker XY Lover, and more recently, playing with fellow multi-instrumentalist Mathieu Malouf (a native Montrealer who has a knack for coining phrases that sound as if they belong in Damio Suzuki's lyric book) and devoting time to Sunset Rubdown, which is Spencer Krug of Wolf Parade's other project.2

X Y Lover - Expand Your Instants Into Oblivion

Expand Your Instants Into Oblivion fits handsomely into an aesthetic school of artists that are re-examining the ambient pop and studio wizardry of My Bloody Valentine. Like Animal Collective and Caribou, this is richly textured ear-candy: Spector-esque production techniques are utilized to force effects-heavy guitars and manipulated sheets of white-noise into fulgent waves, dreamy and rhapsodic.

X Y Lover - Your Parents' Funeral

Another fine example of JRC's studio and compositional skills, Your Parents' Funeral is a drugged and heady two minute trip that comes alive with a pair of headphones. The overdubbed half-mumbled vocals, lilting guitar lines (like that bit in Television's Marquee Moon, I envision cherry blossoms falling... Really!) and extra percussion that appear halfway through the song, as instruments and tracks slowly fade out, are the key components in this, which feels like an excerpt for a larger work that stands well enough alone.

(More tracks from X Y Lover are available on his New Music Canada site.)

I'll put a couple of more tracks within the next few weeks, specifically ones from the project that Jordan and Mathieu are involved in, after they're done adding vocals and polishing them up.

1. Short Pants Romance, named after a line in Dylan's Subterranean Homesick Blues, feat. Arlen Thompson of Wolf Parade as the initial drummer, after a couple of tumultuous years morphed into Lakeboat.

2. Sunset Rubdown just finished recording 11 songs with Jace Lacek of The Besnard Lakes at his Break Glass Studios (where the beds for the Islands record where recorded), and from a sneak preview I've heard, it's going to be one of the highlights of 2006. Absolutely Kosher will be dropping that on May 2nd of this year, to coincide with their tour with critical and audience faves Frog Eyes.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Friday Tracks.

Television - Marquee Moon (Brian Eno demo version)
The Coachmen Thurston's Song

Two stellar tracks from around the same time, same place, featuring wonderful guitar noodling. Now, I've never been a Sonic Youth fan, but I do tendency to date them (or recovering ones at least), and fans will note that The Coachmen were one of the first groups that Thurston Moore played in. My friend Dan (Fortunato), an SY fan I didn't date, had The Coachmen record a couple of years back when I was living in Victoria, but I only listened to it once and the group faded from my mind until recently.

Described by Kim Gordon as the "tallest band in the world," the group broke up the very night that Gordon and Moore met. As you can tell from above, the Lou Reed-like vocals and rambling guitar leads, mirrored what Orange Juice was doing around the same time, albeit an ocean away, and the group responsible for the song posted above. (The Royal Art Lodge associated Montreal-based group Bold Saber remind me a lot of them, too.)

Did 1/2 of MSTRKRFT pinch the moniker Girls Are Short from The Coachmen song of the same name? Anyone?

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Parricide v1.01

Mathieu Malouf expends much energy attempting to wrestle the title of Master of the Melodica from Augustus Pablo.

When James Murphy so eloquently gave a voice and beat to the vulnerability and fear of obsolescence housed in the mind of the aging hipster in LCD Soundsystem's Losing My Edge, at least a couple of us laughed along while secretly shuddering inside, betraying a latent fear of the hungry young, whom, while appearing the wholesome, apple-cheeked and milk-fed youths fresh from suburban enclaves outside mid-sized Canadian cities, weren't averse to baring their teeth and chewing up their elders. What of history? It couldn't be so irrelevant, the projects and bands and feuds and all that ate up so many hours and so many dollars from trust-funds and student loans and minimum wage jobs, could it? Well, yeah, kind of, I guess.

The specific cultural craving for novelty in place of innovation in an independent music scene demands the slaughtering of sacred cows moments after they cease being calves, which, to my mind, is a positive thing. Better the cows graze off in search of the greener pastures of middle-aged responsibility and stable, well-paying vocations than for them to hang around, embarassingly drunk and lowering a leacherous eye towards the nubilians. And thankfully, in Montreal, the elders can take solace in knowing that though these kids might not show sufficient respect for the monument to human ingenuity and creativity that say, Sofa's Grey album is, they've got their own shit going on, and in many cases, it's good.

So, over the next couple of days I'm going to put up some mp3s and blurbs about newer Montreal artists who're doing inventive and awesome things, fashioning their own aesthetic and maybe occasionally sticking it to the aged.

Graham busts it in a typically handsome sweater.
Miracle Fortress - Watery Grave
Miracle Fortress - Eschatology
Think About Life - Snowee Caterpillars

The first artist I'll mention is Graham Van Pelt. The tall fellow with the shock of red hair sits behind the controls of his Miracle Fortress project, in addition to co-piloting Think About Life, providing excellent soundguy skills, and being a member of the Friendship Cove household/venue/conceptual space. Any listeners to Andrew Rose's Pop and podcasts will recognize the above names, and may have even witnessed Graham's recent performance at the For The Kittens Who Lost Their Mittens benefit in December.

Graham's songs are thoughtfully composed and home-recorded, they bounce like all good pop music should, and also present a variation on the ubiquitious (and oft-times poorly executed) genre of casio-pop that interacts with some of its unspoken rules, without sacrificing craftmanship or veering off into kitsch.

Watery Grave is a sea-shanty or stumbling waltz, comprised of sparring melody lines, vocal overdubs and Glass-ian arpeggiation that's half exubriant pop song, half expansive soundscape. Curiously, Eschatology begins with a beat more than familiar to the above-mentioned James Murphy. Note the bass line and hyper-active kick drum!

If you're interested in acquiring a copy of the EP, go check out Graham's myspace page for ordering info.

Danava, Soaring... A Race Of Power-Seeking Giants.

Danava - By The Mark
Danava - Silver Shock

Fronted by the newest member of Glass Candy & The Shattered Theatre, the scarecrow-voiced Dusty Sparkles, Danava (formerly Walk Walk Pink) are a Portland-based psych and glam group that wields a mighty sword, indeed. Forged in the flames (keeping with the clunky metaphor here) of myth-loving 70s Anglo-rock (Yes, Sabbath, Hawkwind...) they pull it off admirably, lo-fi production complimenting the group's sonic ambitions (plenty of stereo-pans, overdubs, fuzzed out guitars).

I have a soft-spot in my heart for this sort of epic metal-tinged rock, but a lot of bands seem to steal too freely from the Iron Maiden catalogue, and, even worse than that, from the bloated studio production and convoluted myth-matching (Mr. Bolan can take responsibility for that, being the master of nonsensical nomenclature), so much so that it marks their endeavours as costly, sub-par wankery. Danava are tinged with that tooth-rotting nostalgia I demand out of so much of my music (and that characterizes a lot of the great music from that San Diego to San Francisco to Portland post-Gravity Records diaspora), but seem fresh, not anachronistic. And where Black Mountain have the tendency to boogie, roll joints in fields and play bongoes, members of Danava more than likely prefer to avoid the sun.

These two songs are from a tour demo - with a new double album in the works (they're going into the studio in the next couple of months) and some touring, they'll be bringing salvation to the sexually and sonically confused kids who cower in high school art rooms across the midwest.

. . . . . . . . . . . . N o t e s . . . . . . . . . . .

Fellow Montreal-er Justin at A Boy & His Blog has a couple of tracks from the upcoming Pink Mountaintops EP.

Hey hey to Marc at Tonight Let's Dance for the link!

The Mirror's 2006 Noisemakers issue is out at deps and cafes everywhere in the city as of today, and manages to get a couple of things right - notably the inclusion of favoured Goldkixx musicians The Besnard Lakes and Tony Ezzy (which reminds me, I've got some mp3s to put up.).

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Rock On London

Mar Sellars, the very owner of the ass above, just starts doing this podcast thing, doesn't even tell me, and just leaves it up to my own handy-dandy internet skills (uhh, self-googling?) to find that out? Jesus! Well, anyway, Mar Sellars, who by every teensy fibre of her human being is beloved, who formerly played with living legends of Vancouver The Ewoks (and you know, some other groups, too, like The Riff Randels), the very one who spent plenty of time twiddling knobs and sometimes interviewing them, too, with CBC Radio, is now living in London, England, and hosting the RockOnLondon podcast. Visit her, give her love, and if you're a BBC Radio (or even television) producer - why haven't you hired her yet?

P.S. Aussi, merci bien pour l'amour, blogotheque, et je suis désolé que mon français soit si terrible. Je blâme B.C. Salut!


It was the only photo of Ryan I had...
Himalayan Bear - Aloha.mp3

Unless I'm mistaken, which occasionally happens (and how!), Vancouver Island is about as close to Hawaii as one can get in Canada... Which makes this track all the more apt. Himalayan Bear is the nom-de-chanson of silken-voiced Ryan Beattie, he of Victoria's Chet, whom (if you were watching) dropped a gorgeous album Kau'ai (Hive-Fidelity - in Europe on Labelman?) earlier last year that spent some time on the college charts and more time in my CD player. (They've apparently got another one on the way.)

Ryan's distinctive voice, capable of baritone and falsetto leaps that would injure most other human beings terribly, working with a lap-steel, makes the perfect sound for this song, which suits my current desire to escape the damnable Montreal cold for tropical beachland. Even if I have to wear a grass-skirt.

Aaargh Records will be releasing the Lo, Lonesome Island! EP, from which the above song is taken, in a month or two. Jump on it!


Congratulations to The Diableros on their signing to Baudelaire (Alright, that's the correct spelling now!), Torontonian home to Tangiers.

Sibling Bostonians Ponies In The Surf, whom I covered a couple of months ago have dropped their first full-length Ponies On Fire, on Asaurus record, and have been mopping up love and kudos from blogs far and wide.

Code Pie are at The Main Hall (5390 St. Laurent) here in Montreal on Saturday.

Midnight Poutine keep up with the scheduled barrage of updates from their dedicated army of scribes. Recent missives from the front include the 2005 round-up, with a hash-induced list from yours truly, amongst other Pop-kids like Daniel Seligman, Andrew Rose, and Shawn Petsche. Mr. Rose has also been keeping good house at both the Pop Montreal site and his own blog, as well as recovering from seasonal sickness. Send him love.

New Year's wasn't the black hole of booze and memory impairment that last year was (thank God)... I was down at the W's Wunderbar for Robin Simpson's curated shindig... Music provided by DJ Paddy (he of The Scissor Sisters) and personal and musical favourites Dandi Wind, who were fresh off of a prodigal son's style trip back to Vancouver. Go buy their album or EP already.

Monday, January 02, 2006