Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Echoes Of A Lost Artist

Calum Marsh

A long, long time ago, way back in the now forgotten year of 2003, legendary dance-punk gods The Rapture unleashed upon the indie world their epic premiere LP, Echoes. It was an album that not only jumpstarted the Dance Punk revival, inspiring indie kids everywhere to go to shows and move their bloody feet instead of standing still, trying to look cool, but it also ensured that nobody would ever forget the name 'The Rapture'. That lasted about two years, apparently, because if you ask somebody what they think of The Rapture now, you're likely to get a hazy expression that implies, 'yeah, I think I remember those guys...'.

DFA Records, who signed The Rapture and played a major role in their success, also seems to be nothing more than a memory of something hip. If it weren't for the surprising commerical success of label-frontman James Murphy's solo project, LCD Soundsystem, I can imagine most indie kids forgetting about the label altogether. The accronym 'DFA' seems to come into conversations as shorthand for Toronto's Death From Above 1979 more often than a reference to the forgotten label, which is ironic considering the tacked on '1979' comes strictly as a result of James Murphy's legal insistance that the name be changed.

This is unfortunate because the once-infamous label is still producing some of the most innovative and interesting music around. From the gorgeous and challenging soundscapes of the experimental Black Dice to the irrissistible cool of Hot Chip (their song 'Crap Craft Dinner' being particularly awesome), DFA Records is chock full of surprises. As a label of discerning taste, you get a kind of secure assurance that anything they release is going to be of a certain calibre. That's not to say you'll necessarily like it all but, for the most part, it's a safe bet.

Back to subject at hand: after the incredible success of Echoes, The Rapture ventured across the world, accompanied by The Cure, to tour and promote their album. The tour came to a close in 2004, and since then nothing has been heard from the group at all. DFA continued to release Rapture vinyl-only singles and 12" splits, but no sign of actual life from the band itself has been made apparent. Many fans hypothesized that, like Neutral Milk Hotel and My Bloody Valentine before them, The Rapture simply had nowhere else to go with their music and was forced to give it up as a group (and no, I'm not suggesting that 'Echoes' is as good as 'Loveless' or 'In The Aeroplane Over The Sea', but it's still pretty brilliant).

This seemed like a fairly solid guess of what happened, and it wouldn't even be the first time it happened in the past five years (remember what happened to The Unicorns?); but, right as we were all ready to accept this as the final word on the matter, there was suddenly Rapture-related activity: the group's website, which had remained completely untouched for ages and ages, was given a complete make-over and featured a message from the band, assuring fans everywhere that, while they didn't have any new material to speak of, they definitely hadn't broken up. So...problem solved? I guess, but if they haven't broken up, why the heck aren't they producing music?

Well, after stewing it over for quite some time, I've come to a conclusion: if it seems as though The Rapture fell off the face of the earth, maybe they have! Now I know this sounds silly, but just think about it. A talented dance-punk group records a near-perfect album and then just suddenly disappears? It seems a little inoppurtune, doesn't it? My theory is that aliens from outer space - yes, aliens - are involved in a dastardly plot to deplete the earth of its musical talent. Gifted musicians who create wonderful works of art are taken, via teleportation beams, aboard their intergalactic spacecrafts, doomed to perform before galaxies of foreign space creatures for the rest of eternity. These creatures have been partaking in the ritual since the early 90s, when the abduction of Kurt Kobain went over relatively smoothly (the success that Courtney Love found in the aftermath, though, was not anticipated by the aliens); since this abduction the creatures have taken for themselves Neutral Milk Hotel, My Bloody Valentine (the creatures briefly returned Kevin Shields to earth so he could score Lost In Translation, which he was a pretty good sport about), The Unicorns, The Rapture (of course), and, most recently, Grandaddy. The creatures abducted Ben Gibbard of Death Cab For Cutie sometime last year and replaced him with a talentless clone, but nobody seemed to notice.

So why are the aliens doing this, you ask? Well right now, on a distant moon in the further reaches of the Universe, a huge music festival is taking place featuring all of earth's most treasured artists. This event, known to the space creatures as Space By OuterSpace (or SXOS for short), is held annually and is very highly regarded. Space Hipsters who can't afford to travel at light speed to the show are always jealous of the Space Hipsters who will be in attendance, and there is always a great deal of anticipation and buzz regarding the list of bands who will perform each year.
Can you imagine the wonderful music these artists are producing right now? Why, I wouldn't be surprised if Neutral Milk Hotel has written 10 albums that are each 10 times better than In The Aeroplane Over The Sea. Actually, it's probably a good thing we aren't hearing this stuff - music that incredible could potentially kill human listeners.

Download:
The Rapture - Alabama Sunshine
The Rapture - House Of Jealous Lovers
Hot Chip - Crap Craft Dinner
Neutral Milk Hotel - Two-Headed Boy
My Bloody Valentine - Soon
LCD Soundsystem - Jump Into the Fire
The Go! Team - Ladyflash (Hot Chip Remix)

Buy:
The Rapture - Echoes
DFA Records Presents - Compilation #2
Hot Chip - Coming On Strong
Neutral Milk Hotel - In The Aeroplane Over The Sea
My Bloody Valentine - Loveless
LCD Soundsystem - LCD Soundsystem

Related:
Grandaddy Retired and Drawing Pension
Unicorns Cut Their Hair, Form New Band
23 comments

Monday, January 30, 2006

Week End Blog Wrap Up #3

Casey Dorrell

Week End Blog Wrap Up

1. Bruce (Some Velvet Blog) put up an mp3, Garden Ruin, from the upcoming Calexico album. As I'm currently on my now audioless computer, I can't tell you much more than that. [Link]

2. Taylor (Music For Kids Who Can't Read Good) wrote a small blurb about the Trash Can Sinatras. I'd somehow forgotten about the band. Looking at the band picture, I'm also convinced that Bob McDonald (CBC Radio's Quirks and Quarks) is a member. [Link]

3. The Mash-up Guy (Mashuptown) is offering a pretty cool mash-up of Kelly Clarkson and Frank Black. I'm not usually a big mash-up fan (too dancey and entirely unnecessary) but this one's kind of fun. And, yes, it is "Since U Been Gone". [Link]

4. Lobstar (Copy, Right?) has, surprise, some new cover songs up. Most of the latest aren't that great, but sandwiched between Richard Anthony doing a Beatles cover and Kelly Deal doing her best Pantera impersonation is an Elliot Smith Cover. And, for a change, it's someone covering Smith instead of Smith covering someone else. Even better? It's the Thermals. [Link]

5. Jesus (What Would Jesus Blog?) collected all the bad amazon reviews of almost universally well-reviewed albums. Sure, this is a pretty great idea, but Jesus stole it from me. Sure, I haven't thought of it yet, but I know I was going to. Damn God and His thieving Omniscience! And yes, this was more than a week ago but, hell, Jesus was screwing around with time. [Link]

6. Dodge (My Old Kentucky Blog) got his hands on a few mp3s from the newest Gorillaz iTunes-only ep. In blatant misuse of artistic lincence, the new song "Bill Murray" isn't as good as the old song "Clint Eastwood". [Link]

7. Cindy Hotpoint (The Girls are Weeping) has one of Colin Meloy's (Decemberists) new Shirly Collins covers up for download. She also has the original song up. [Link]

8. Michael (For the Records) mentioned that he'd gone to the movie "Underworld: Evolution" yet he doesn't mention that it's an unbelievably awful film. I shake my head at thee, sir. We will forgive him since his blog regularly entertains, but he's on very thing ice . . . [Link]

9. Bootlogger (B(oo)tlog) has the best new music blog right now. It's not so hot for literary content but it's awesome for it's live mp3s. One of the latest is Rogue Wave live on Gideon Coe, BBC. Someone get that man some file hosting. [Link]

10. Garrison Reid (Indie Interviews) talks with Ramesh Scrivastava of the better-than-they-have-any-right-to-be-new-band Voxtrot about the band, their new EP, and the festival which we'll not name in the presence of Calum (who has a new profile to the right). [Link]

11. Satisfied '75 (An Aquirium Drunkard) is offering an entire Kathleen Edwards EP, guilt free. From 1999, it predates her break-through debut album, Failer, and is no longer commercially available. Get it while it's available. [Link]

Downloads:

Trash Can Sinatras - Welcome Back
Trash Can Sinatras - Claw (Live Acoustic)
Trash Can Sinatras - Got Carried Away (Live Acoustic)
Thermals - Ballad of Big Nothing (Elliot Smith Cover)
Voxtrot - Start of Something
Rogue Wave - Publish My Love (Live on Gideon Coe, BBC)
Kathleen Edwards - 5 Years

Related:
Week End Blog Wrap Up #2
Week End Blog Wrap Up #1
5 comments

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Full Album Friday 6 (Sunday Edition):
Hole Unglued, Unbootlegged


Casey Dorrell

Courtney Love. I can't imagine many indie kids are big fans of the has-been rock star who's had one-too-many plastic surgeries and is now better known for her bare chest and various chemical dependencies than anything else, save for being Kurt Cobain's widow. The mainstream is probably a bit more interested but only for the aforementioned reasons, and certainly not for her music.

Love's band, Hole, began in 1989 but, despite recieving positive reviews for their independent debut, 'Pretty on the Inside', it wasn't until they released their major label (Geffen) sophmore album, 'Live Through This' in 1994 that the band acheived rock stardom. The album was a near-perfect mix of stadium rock agnst, grunge, punk, and riot grrl. The timing was less perfect. Coming on the heels of Nirvana's final album and the death of Nirvana's lead singer and Love's husband, Kurt Cobain, 'Live Through This' was never just an album. It became a pulpit for the opionated public. Already, Love had a long-running quarrel with riot-grrl pioneer Kathleen Hannah (Bikini Kill, Le Tigre), and now had to contend with accusations that her popularity relied on her association with Cobain, that Cobain wrote all her songs, and, worse still, that she killed Cobain. On top of this, one of Hole's members had died of an overdose.

Hole went on to record one final album five years later before officially disbanding in 2002, while Love went on to publicly self-destruct. Back in 1995, shortly after the release of 'Live Through This,' Hole performed an MTV Unplugged show, a series MTV began after a popular Bon Jovi acoustic set. MTV Unplugged will probably always be best known for the performances of Nirvana and Eric Clapton, and rightfully so, but Hole's acoustic set was also notable. The songs definately aren't as revelatory as Nirvana's, but it's pretty brilliant nonetheless. Of particular note is the performance of Nirvana's "You Know You're Right," about a decade before it's eventual release, of which Love says,

"All right, this is a song that Kurt wrote. Last, last song almost...um, we worked on it a little bit, we can't do it that well but it's Valentine's Day, and maybe he can hear it, and he'll go, "You know, you really fucked up my song, Courtney. Don't even try it." But if it works, it's dedicated to my mother-in-law," adding afterward, "That wasn't a very good version."



MTV never released the concert, although three tracks from the session do appear on Hole's 1997 B-Side collection, 'My Body, The Hand Grenade.' The album is widely available in about four different incarnations as overpriced bootlegs. Most contain the 11 songs from the show plus additional songs from other venues. Bootlegs of otherwise free material, especially when the bootlegger had nothing to do with the recording, aren't all that much fun. Downloading it for free, well, that is kind of fun. Let's do that.

As always, this will be removed if desired by the band or those who represent them. This album is NOT commercially available.

Download:
Hole MTV Unplugged (Unglued)
1. Hole - Miss World
2. Hole - Best Sunday Dress
3. Hole - Softer, Softest
4. Hole - Drown Soda
5. Hole - He Hit Me (and it felt like a kiss)
6. Hole - Asking For It
7. Hole - You Know You're Right (Nirvana Cover)
8. Hole - Old Age
9. Hole - Hungry Like The Wolf
10. Hole - Doll Parts
11. Hole - Sugar Coma
Recorded live at "MTV Unglued" 4/17/95, Brooklyn, NY, Academy Of Music.

----------------------------------------
Bootleg Bonus!
12. Hole - Rockstar
12. Hole - Beautiful Son
13. Hole - Pennyroyal Tea (Nirvana Cover)
14. Hole - Jennifer's Body
15. Hole - Asking For It
16. Hole - Walks Over Me
17. Hole - Gutless
18. Hole - The Void
19. Hole - Credit In The Straight World
20. Hole - Teenage Whore
Recorded live, 1995, Location unknown

Buy:
My Body, the Hand Grenade
Live Through This

Related:
Tribute to Cobain is in Bloom
Full Album Friday 5 (Monday Edition): Illegal Art
Full Album Friday 4 (Sunday Edition): American Edit
Full Album Friday 3 (Saturday Edition): Thrush Hermit - Nobody Famous
Full Album Friday 2 (Saturday Edition): The 8Bits of Christmas
Full Album Friday 1 (Saturday Edition): Sufjan Christmas
21 comments

Grandaddy Retired & Drawing Pension

Geoff Trainor

It was reported on the 27th (of this month) that indie rock favourites Grandaddy are calling it quits. I'm not sure how this information took so long to reach me, especially since I am partly to blame. You see, as a member of Mocking Music, I hold a lot of resposibility. Which music I buy can make or break an artist.

Jason Lytle, frontman, revealed the split to NME,

"The realistic part is it hasn't proved to be a huge money-making venture for a lot of guys in the band. We've been doing this for a long time and you have to ask yourself 'Why am I beating myself up like this?'...week after week, month after month, year after year".

Really, I was gonna buy a Grandaddy album! I was! I never got around to it, and just listened to mp3s when I felt like some Grandaddy. Sorry guys, I let you down. Casey did his part, which helped keep you afloat, but an indie band needs at least two Mocking Music members to purchase their album to really put them into stardom.

In all seriousness, this is depressing news. Always hard to lose a great band like Grandaddy. Fortunately they will be going out with one last hurrah! "Just Like The Fambly Cat" will be released as the group's final album. No tours or farewell shows are planned. Lytle still intends on making music, but he is unsure as to what his future in music will be.

Check NME for the full story

Download:
Grandaddy - The Crystal Lake
Grandaddy - Summer Here Kids
Grandaddy - Nebraska
Grandaddy - Revolution (Beatles Cover)

Buy:
Grandaddy - The Sophtware Slump
Grandaddy - Sumday
Grandaddy - Under The Western Sky

Related:
Punks
7 comments

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Going To SXSW? Me Neither!

Calum Marsh


Where are you going to be in March, from the 15th to 19th? If you're like me, you really, really, really wish you could be at the world's biggest and most talked about indie festival ever, South By SouthWest, but you've come to the slow and painful realization that it just ain't gonna happen. I know damn well that I can't afford that gig - flight to Austin, full-festival passes ($450 each, apparently), accomodations, and way too many band shirts? Not on this guy's budget - and missing out on such a spectacular event every year is a depressing affair.

Just in case you've been living under some kind of indie rock (pun intended) for the past 20 years and skipped the first paragraph, South By SouthWest (or SXSW as it's affectionately known) is the greatest indie music festival that ever existed. Held annually in Austin, Texas, it draws in bigger crowds than a Clap Your Hands Say Yeah show and, without fail, makes every hipster who can't go incredibly jealous of every hipster who can. Everybody you can think of and their grandma will be there, including Animal Collective, Annie, The Boy Least Likely To, The Brian Jonestown Massacre, Broken Spindles, Built To Spill, Cat Power, The Go! Team, The Hidden Cameras, Hot Chip, The Juan Maclean, Ladytron, Ted Leo, Nada Surf, Most Serene Republic, Islands, Of Montreal, Wintersleep, Secret Machines, Pretty Girls Make Graves, Rogue Wave, Minus The Bear, and Mates Of State.* Yeah, exactly.

Still, just because we have to miss out on the Texan fun doesn't mean we can't have a little shindig of our own. There are plenty of other excellent shows to be seen in the coming months, so I've taken the time to compile a list of interesting concerts that are well worth checking out.

Oh, and if anyone has a spare SXSW pass, plane ticket, and a house in Austin (or failing that, an extra two grand or so), feel free to send them my way! And if you're lucky enough to make it there yourself, remember all of us who will be crying ourselves to sleep through March.

*Please note that that Mocking Music staff was unable to confirm whether Ted Leo's grandmother would be attending - Casey


5. Animal Collective (Buy Tickets)

February 21st - Boston @ Paradise with First Nation and BARR - 18+
February 22nd - Montreal @ La Tulipe with First Nation and BARR - all ages
February 23rd - Toronto @ The Opera House with First Nation and BARR - 19+
February 24th - Lansing, MI @ Temple Club with First Nation and BARR - all ages
February 25th - Chicago @ Logan Square Auditorium with First Nation and BARR - all ages
February 26th - Minneapolis @ First Avenue with First Nation and BARR - all ages
March 1st - Seattle @ Neumos with First Nation and BARR - all ages
March 2nd - Vancouver @ Richard's on Richards with First Nation and BARR - 19+


4. Ladytron (Buy Tickets)

April 19th - Montreal @ Club Soda
April 20th - Toronto @ Opera House
April 25th - Vancouver @ Richard's On Richards

3. Nada Surf w/ Rogue Wave (Buy Tickets)

February 25th - Vancouver @ Richard's On Richards - 19+
February 26th - Seattle, WA @ The Showbox - All Ages
March 8th - New York, NY @ Webster Hall - 18+
March 10th - Montreal @ Cabaret Music Hall - 18+
March 11th - Toronto @ Lee's Palace - 19+


2. Islands [ex-Unicorns] (Tickets Not Yet Available)

Feb 17th - Montreal @ Club Lambi
Feb 24th/25th - Toronto @ Kool Haus
Feb 26th - London @ Centennial Hall
Feb 28th - Kingston @ Queen's University
March 1st - Montreal @ Metropolis
March 2nd - Peterborough @ Club Vibe
March 3rd/4th - Ottawa @ Surface


1. Belle & Sebastian w/The New Pornographers (Buy Tickets)

February 25th - Toronto @ The Docks
February 26th - Montreal @ Metropolis
Febraury 27th, 28th - Boston, MA @ Avalon
March 2nd, 3rd - New York, NY @ Nokia Theatre
March 4th - Philadelphia, PA @ Electric Factory
March 5th, 6th - Washington, DC @ 9:30 Club
March 8th - Nashville, TN @ Ryman Auditorium
March 9th - Louisville, KY @ Brown Theatre
March 10th - Chicago, IL @ Riviera
March 11th - Milwaukee, WI @ Riverside Theatre
March 12th - Minneapolis, MN @ Orpheum Theatre
March 14th - Dallas, TX @ Granada Theatre
March 24th - Vancouver @ Commodore
March 25th - Seattle, WA @ Paramount


Download:
Animal Collective - Winter's Love
Ladytron - Seventeen
Ladytron - Blue Jeans (Interpol Remix)
Nada Surf - Do It Again
Islands - Abominable Snowman
Islands - Rough Gem
The New Pornographers - Twin Cinema
Belle & Sebastian - Your Cover's Blown (Japanese Bonus)

Buy:
Animal Collective - Sung Tongs
Ladytron - Witching Hour
Nada Surf - The Weight Is A Gift
The Unicorns - Who Will Cut Our Hair When We're Gone?
The New Pornographers - Twin Cinema
Belle & Sebastian - If You're Feeling Sinister
9 comments

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Brian Wilson Crosses Velvet Ropes To Club Underground

Geoff Trainor

Not content with destroying only their own image as Weezer, guitarist Brian Bell and drummer Patrick Wilson are, much like Christopher Columbus, searching for new territory.

The Weezer duo have been signed to portray Lou Reed (Bell) and John Cale (Wilson) in an upcoming Edie Sedgwick biopic, directed by George Hickenlooper. The film, Factory Girl, will also include a newly recorded version of Heroine, a Velvet classic.

Weezer, who pioneered geek rock with their debut Blue Album, and brought emo into the mainstream with their follow-up Pinkerton, have recently (my definitition of recently is pretty broad it seems) released their fifth studio album, Make Believe. Preceeded by the first single, Beverly Hills, the album was a disapointment to many of fans before it was even released, including one Casey Dorrell. I suppose now that they've tarnished their own credibility, they feel the need to move on to someone else.

Maybe I'm being too harsh . . . I mean, Rivers Cuomo doesn't seem to be a part of it, so it may turn out okay. Then again, it could just make it worse. Either way, the film is bound tobe a failure. A director with the last name Hickenlooper? Sounds an awful lot like Schumaker.

Download:
Weezer - My Name Is Jonas (Live)
Weezer - Surf Wax America (Live)
Velvet Underground - Heroin
Beach Boys - Surfin' Safari

Buy:
Weezer - Weezer (Blue Album) Deluxe Edition
Velver Underground - The Velvet Underground & Nico
Beach Boys - Vol. 1 Greatest Hits

Related:
A Shory Essay By Mr. Cuomo
Weezer, R.I.P.
6 comments

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Upon This Tidal Wave Of Overnight Success

Calum Marsh

It seems that Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, modest as they are (or perhaps they're just a little naive about how far a 9.0 can get you), have underestimated the level of their own success. Opting to perform at relatively small venues on their upcoming North American tour, the band is suddenly realizing that, with their newly appointed "mega-star" stature, there simply won't be enough tickets for the plethora of try-hard scenesters who want to stay up past their bed times to catch a fun show. But these are genuinely nice guys we're talking about, and they plan on trying their hardest to capitalize on their newfound success - er, I mean, make sure their fans get a chance to see them play; from their recently posted MySpace bulletin:

"The Boston show on 4/12 sold out really fast,
so it is being moved to a larger ve
nue...the same
sort of deal might be happening in
Toronto"

Larger venue, you say? Yep, and although nothing has been confirmed for the Boston date as of yet, sources have reported that the Toronto show is being moved from a tiny, 200 capacity back-alley bar to The Air Canada Centre or, failing that, The Sky Dome. Rumour has it that, if buzz for the show continues to grow at the rate it has been, the band will play both venues simultaniously via satallite transmission and running between the two really, really fast.

Clap Your Hands Say Yeah play one of their smaller shows this year.

In other Clap Your Hands-related news, the band will be rereleasing their 2005 self-titled LP in a special, digitally remastered "6 Month Anniversary" edition; this fantastic rerelease boasts 5 bonus discs of DFA dance remixes, a 2795 page booklet of every positive review the album recieved, and an instructional video detailing how to properly clap your hands and say "yeah". In the coming few months, the band will also be appearing on The Late Show, The Tonight Show, The Late Late Show, Larry King Live, The O.C., CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, Arrested Development, The Ellen Degeneras Show, Live With Regis And Kelly, Good Morning America, Survivor, The Amazing Race, and will be performing live at the Grammys, the MTV Music Awards, the MTV Movie Awards, the Much Music Video Awards, the Junos, and the Oscars, as well as appearing on the cover of next month's issue of Rolling Stone, Spin, Paste, The New Yorker, Entertainment Weekly, People, Vogue, Teen People, Teen Vogue, Vanity Fair, GQ, Maxim, and Fab magazine.

That's about it for this week's news regarding everyone's favourite completely underground and unheard of indie rock group. Stay tuned for our review of the band's upcoming reality series, premiering next next week right after The O.C.

(Also, you'll note Clap Your Hands has decided to not come to Ottawa, where I currently reside, on their upcoming tour. I may or may not resent this decision.)

Download:

Clap Your Hands Say Yeah - Details Of The War (Live XFM Session)
Clap Your Hands Say Yeah - In This Home On Ice (Live XFM Session)
Clap Your Hands Say Yeah - Is This Love (Live XFM Session)
Clap Your Hands Say Yeah - Gimme Some Salt (Live XFM Session)
Clap Your Hands Say Yeah - Graceful Retreat (Live KCRW Session)
Clap Your Hands Say Yeah - Is This Love (Live KCRW Session)
Clap Your Hands Say Yeah - Skin of My Yellow Country Teeth (Live KCRW Session)
Clap Your Hands Say Yeah - Over and Over Again (Live KCRW Session)
Clap Your Hands Say Yeah - Details of War (Live KCRW Session)
Clap Your Hands Say Yeah - In This House of Ice (Live KCRW Session)
Clap Your Hands Say Yeah - Gimme Some Salt (Live KCRW Session)
Clap Your Hands Say Yeah - Upon This Tidal Wave of Young Blood (Live KCRW Session)
Clap Your Hands Say Yeah - Satan Said Dance (Live 10-15-2005)

Buy:
Clap Your Hands Say Yeah - Clap Your Hands Say Yeah
DFA Records Presents - Compilation #2
97 comments

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Gilles Duceppe Defeats Stephen Harper!

Casey Dorrell

The Conservatives won the Canadian elections and will soon command a minority government. It's going to take some time before it sinks in that Stephen Harper is our Prime Minister now. Odds are, you, the reader, fall into one of two camps: either you're Canadian and already know all about this, or you're not Canadian and don't care much about our elections. Fair enough. I'll leave the politics to the political blogs, and return to our vapid insular world of music where political discussions rarely venture far beyond catchy sloganeering, raised fists, and cries of 'oi'.

In 2004, Puretracks had four of five major national party leaders list their top five favourite songs, then had people vote for the leaders based solely on their music preferences. Stephen Harper won this vote too. Likely not because his taste is good (it's not), but because it was better than the rest of the leaders. I've put the songs up for download, so feel free to listen . . . but there's honestly not much of interest here.

What we end up finding out is, well, to be expected. It turns out that they're all old. And they all have bad taste. And none of them like Canadian music (save for Krall and the lame ploy of BTO, The Bare Naked Ladies being extraterrestrial, of course). Extra points to Harris for inexplicably favouring the Black Eyed Peas. I guess I should be happy that they're too busy running the country to listen to music. Still, congratulations Harper and Layton for not including BTO's "Taking Care of Business". If either of them had gotten three more votes (combining to make a majority of 155 seats) maybe they'd be able to do just that.

Some older downloads get removed after a short period. Sadly for you, this is one of them.

Download:
Stephen Harper (Conservative Party) with 124 seats:
1. ACDC - Thunderstruck
2. The Beatles - I Want to hold your hand
3. Johnny Cash - Folsom Prison Blues
4. Original Cast of Cats - Mungojerrie And Rumpelteazer
5. Duke Ellington & Ella FitzGerald - It Don't Mean A Thing (If It Ain't Got That Swing)

Paul Martin (Liberal Party) With 103 seats:
1. U2 - Beautiful Day
2. BTO - Taking Care of Business
3. Nana Mouskouri - Moondance
4. Simon and Garfunkel - Bridge Over Troubled Water
5. Diana Krall - A Case of You (Joni Mitchell cover)

Jack Layton (New Democratic Party) with 29 seats:
1. Barenaked Ladies - If I had a Million Dollars
2. Barenaked Ladies - Lovers in a Dangerous Time
3. Joan Baez - Blowin' in the Wind
4. Buena Vista Social Club - El Cuartode Tula**
5. Barlow - Married by Elvis

Jim Harris (Green Party) with 0 seats:
1. Rascalz - Top of the world
2. Joni Mitchell - Big Yellow Taxi
3. BTO - Taking Care of Business
4. U2 - Elevation*
5. Black Eyed Peas - Where is the love

* Live BBC Version, which probably isn't his favourite.
** He had the entire soundtrack listed, but that's cheating.

Missing from the list was Gilles Duceppe, the leader of the seperatist Bloc Quebecois Party (usually referred to as the Bloc Party) who won 51 seats. Thus I declare Duceppe winner by default as, without his selections, we're simply left with . . . The Bloc Party:
1. Bloc Party - This Modern Love (Live at Virgin Radio)
2. Bloc Party - Like Eating Glass (Live XFM Session)
3. Bloc Party - Little Thoughts (Live XFM Session)
4. Bloc Party - The Marshals are Dead (Live Radio 1, Lamacq)
5. Bloc Party - So Here We Are Again (Live Peel Session)

Buy:
Bloc Party - Silent Alarm Remixed

Related:
Paul Martin Creates Higher Unemployment: See Bono
Always Two There is, A Rock Star and a Politician

A moment of silence for the end of Bono and Paul Martin's friendship and an end to Geoff's Bono posts.
7 comments

Monday, January 23, 2006

Full Album Friday 5 (Monday Edition): Illegal Art

Casey Dorrell

Ah, the thorny issue of copyrights and music . . .

Of course the Napster battles of the late 90's seem of a entirely different era - the organization now co-opted by the people that once served it lawsuits. Yet, as the ubiquitous file-sharing kitty fades into corporate obscurity, the RIAA continues its tireless (and ultimately losing) crusade to sue everyone. And people continue to be offended by that. Why? Probably because the RIAA has the PR skills of monkey, and not one of those nice tux-wearing ones either. More the dirty feces-throwing variety. They just aren't that savvy when it comes to winning public support. Hint: Don't sue old ladies but if you can't follow this advice, at least make sure they're not dead. Yet, the claim that people are somehow justified in illegally trading music is, well, unjustified.

Here's a popular defense of music pilfering: The major record labels are corrupt and don't give any money to the artists anyhow. There's two problems with this argument. First, it only applies to major label artists. Go find some indie bands. A lot of them are getting the majority of what you pay for their CDs. And a lot of them are really good (try two of my favourites: The Like Young or Voxtrot). Second, even if the bands are only getting 2% of the profits from their CD sales, unless you're sending them money for what you download, they're still better off when you buy. I haven't taken any math since high school, but I'm pretty sure any positive number is above zero. And I'm also pretty sure that when it comes to money, being above zero is preferable.

Another one: I wouldn't buy any music anyhow, so they're not out anything. That might be true. When there's nothing tangible, no physical matter being transmitted, it's hard to argue against this. Still, if you're listening to it a lot, you might think about paying for it.

Yet another: File-sharing helps the bands gain exposure, it doesn't hurt them. One thing wrong with the argument is that we all know a lot of people are only downloading, and not buying. Gaining exposure to someone that will never pay you might be personally gratifying I guess, but it's hardly useful. The other problem with this argument is that most people downloading full albums aren't doing so haphazardly. They've searched out the album. They know what they're looking for, it's not new to them.

When do I think it's justifiable to download "illegal" music? When you're downloading it with the intent of eventually buying it, or to see if you want to buy it. That's generally what the downloads on this site, and others like it, are about. We give you samples, and hope you decide to buy something because of it. If it's commercially available I try to limit how much I put up for download. If it's not, then I don't have a problem with sharing it in its entirety. When music isn't commercially available, then it should be public domain regardless of the wishes of the band - at least where concert recordings are concerned. I really don't see an argument against this. With that said, we do always respect the wishes of bands when they are express, but only out of courtesy, and fear of lawsuits.

Artists have the moral right to demand money for their music. But at some point, it stops being their music. Almost all sampling ought to fall outside the realm of copyright infringement. The same should also apply for stealing riffs, stealing some amount of lyrics, or just generally aping someone else's sound. Copyright should exist only to make sure people get paid for what they've done, in its original form. If someone then takes that creation and completely perverts it, uses it in a different context, then the copyright should no longer apply. A new creation has been made. There is absolutely no chance that sampling or just being obscenely derivative is taking away money from the original source. In the case of sampling, it's either going to make no difference or it will encourage people to search out the source material. In the case of simply copying someone else's sound, too bad for the original band - all music is derivative.

Elastica
Elastica Waves Pink Flag

Case in point: the seminal post-punk band, Wire, and the 90's alternative band, Elastica. Wire were never a huge commercial success but they were very influential. Both R.E.M. and Minor Threat cover the band, and there's a definite Wire lineage in current indie bands like Bloc Party. They also influenced Elastica. In fact, the band liked Wire's 1977 song, "Three Girl Rhumba" so much that they decided to take use the song as the intro for their hit, "Connection". They decided against sampling but the result is about the same. The members of Wire thought so too. They also thought a lot of other Elastica songs sounded like Wire, especially the song "Line Up" with its startling similarity to Wire's "I am the Fly". So, in 1995, they sued Elastica for copyright infringement and the case was settled out of court. Yet, I'm left wondering how, exactly, Elastica's lack of originality harmed Wire.

Remember the upset over Jack White's use of Citizen Kane lines as lyrics in "The Union Forever"? Sure the entire song is made from aping Citizen Kane, and clearly could not exist without the movie, but it's ingenious. I'm at a lose to explain how the White Stripes could be adversely affecting whoever owns the Citizen Kane rights. Citizen Kane isn't even a movie, it's culture.

As a reflection on the nature of copyrights for creative works, Stay Free! Magazine with the activist group, Downhill Battle, created the illegal-art exhibit. The exhibit has audio, video, visual, and written components. The audio portion is comprised of a music compilation that explores the nature of copyright in music and each song is available for download with text explaining the inclusion. And, yes, the Elastica song "Connection" is included. I don't entirely agree with Down Hill Battle, a group dedicated to promoting file-sharing and the downfall of the major labels, but I do agree with the implied sentiment of this exhibit.



The songs are eclectic in style but include some great tracks. Most notably Evolution Control Committee's brilliant "Rocked by Rape," made from splicing together a variety of Dan Rather's newscasts and the music from ACDC's "Back in Black". The band flooded napster with mislabeled copies leaving people looking for Beck or Nirvana outtakes with something a bit different. I was one of those people back in 1999 and for that, I'm glad. It also introduced be to Negativland, the kings of sampled music who, of course, are also on the compilation with their classic song, "U2". There's also less expected tracks, such as unreleased tracks by Public Enemy and the Beastie Boys.

Below I've selected my favourites. Go to the site to read the commentary and get the rest of the songs.

Download:
Elastica - Connection
Wire - Three Girl Rhumba*
White Stripes - The Union Forever*
Beastie Boys - Rock Hard
Xper Xr. - Wu-Chu-Tung
Evolution Control Committee - Rocked By Rape
Negativland - U2 (Special Edit)
John Oswald - Black
Public Enemy - Psycho of Greed
*Not on Illegal Arts Compilation

Buy:
Illegal-Art Exhibit Compilation


Related:
Full Album Friday 4 (Sunday Edition): American Edit
Full Album Friday 3 (Saturday Edition): Thrush Hermit - Nobody Famous
Full Album Friday 2 (Saturday Edition): The 8Bits of Christmas
Full Album Friday 1 (Saturday Edition): Sufjan Christmas
21 comments

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Karate Kurt VS The Intoxicated Two

Geoff Trainor

Thursday night I wrote about a Halifax based quartet gracing PEI with their presence. Wintersleep were here and Casey and I, along with a surprise guest Kurt, went to check them out.

In usual Casey and Geoff fashion, we were late. You see, Casey, not wanting to be sober at Myron's again (like the Joel Plaskett show he wrote about never got around to writing about), had some drinks before we left. Actually, so did I, but that's not important. Not gonna bore you with details, but Kurt showed up un-expected, decided to come along, and all three of us arrived at Myron's somewhere between 11:30 and 12.

As mentioned here, and more in depth here, Casey and I do not like Myron's. It seems the below average intellegence of its clientele is spreading to the staff. Last time I was there, I asked for draft Guinness, which I was informed by the waitress that they do not carry. This time, I was at the counter and saw the Guinness draft spout, so I asked again. This guy, someone different, also told me that they do not carry it...oh but wait, what is that just to the right of him. He notices the Guinness and tries pouring some.

"Oh wait, I think this might be...yeah, this is Guinness, do you want a pitcher?"

Mmm, Guinness
Geoff Sure Looks Good In That Tie...(Mmm, Guinness)

We get our beer, and head to a booth to sit and drink it. But wait, someone else wants the booth. Miles, who leads the opposing group, suggests we engage in a best out of three hand to hand duel known as rock, paper, scissors. I lost the first round, but come back to win two, which got us the booth in question. So there we sat, while we waited for Wintersleep to take the stage. During which time I drank a pitcher of Guinness, and Casey drank a pitcher of Sleeman's (minus half a glass that Kurt had), some whiskey or vodka drink, and a shot of jagermeister.

Wintersleep @ Myron's
Wintersleep performs an encore, afraid of possible vegetable injuries if they don't

Wintersleep is up, time to move closer. The three of us take the trek up to the stage and meet up with fellow mocker, Rollins (whom had Wintersleep's latest top his top 25 of 2005). I spent the rest of the show taking pictures and taping. Wintersleep performed a great set. There were guitars played above heads, drum solos, and a three song encore. All the necessities of a great "rock show". I recorded two full songs on video, which I had planned on uploading for you, but I was drunk as well. When you are drunk you don't think about why it's a bad idea to record standing directly in front of a speaker.

Unfortunately, Casey blacked out due to excessive liquor consumption (let that be a lesson kiddies). I know he enjoyed the show too by his quote to Rollins,

"I have to admit, you were right. They were pretty fuckin' awesome".

After the show we talked briefly to a couple of the band members, and Casey took his incognito picture one of the guys scratching his beard. Eventually we left, got some pizza and Casey and I had a streetfight (in the middle of University Avenue). After Casey lost the fight to a tree, he bolted to the car of his sensei Karate Kurt, for more teachings. Or perhaps he just wanted a drive home.

Download:
Wintersleep - Lipstick
Wintersleep - Listen [Listen, Listen]
Wintersleep - Insomnia

Buy:
Wintersleep @ Maple Music
6 comments

Friday, January 20, 2006

As The Bloggers Affirm: Bands To Watch In '06

Calum Marsh

2005 is, well, a thing of the past, and so I thought it time to take a nice long look at the tentative shape of the coming year. A load of bands seemed to come right out of nowhere last year - most notably the great indie darlings Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, which nobody outside of NYC saw coming - surprising us all with solid albums and enthusiasm for making their presence in the indie world known.

As such, I thought this year I'd aim for something of a preemptive strike, highlighting a number of artists who as of right now are recording and performing under the hipster radar but who are worthy of your attention nonetheless. You're sure to hear a whole lot more of these bands in 2006, so feel free to listen; who doesn't love being able to say "I heard them when..."?


5. Hi Lo Trons
Despite what The Killers will tell you, wearing a thin tie while performing does not make your group 'New Wave'. No, believe it or not, there's more to the eighties than neon colors and cooky sound effects - there's substance behind that synth, pal, and without it you're just glam-rock wannabes in mascara, mashing keyboards till somebody listens. Sigh.



Thankfully, though, there are bands like the Hi Lo Trons who know exactly how to bring New Wave together with indie rock without sounding contrived. They've got the eighties sound down-pat, alright - synth-sound effects and spacey guitar are put to use quite regularly - but what sets the Hi Lo Trons apart from the crummy knock offs is their gleefully endearing spirit. They can belt out space metaphors or throw in robot voices with surprising seriousness, avoiding a slip into try-hard sarcasm or downright sillyness. For the most part, though, they put the all-out eighties stuff on hold in order to write more compelling and straight-forward indie rock songs (which isn't really a bad idea, if you can do it well - and these guys certainly can). It's an impressive feat to sound so convincingly eighties without being gimmicky and, most importantly, without sounding like The Killers.

Oh, and if that wasn't convincing enough - they opened for Clap Your Hands Say Yeah in September last year, so they must be good.

4.Roman Revutsky
Based out of Siberia, Russia, Roman Revutsky is a kind of musical oddity: situated in an area with no hip music scene whatsoever (I'm not generalizing here, people - he assures me there is nothing), and producing music that seems to do its best to avoid categorization, Roman seems to be stuck in a kind of temporary limbo. I'd wager that as soon as he has a release that he can market - currently he's albumless, but according to his myspace page there's an EP on the way - he'll be able to find that niche crowd he needs. It seems as though, in a city with a more prominent music community or with a style that could be easily pegged, Roman would have been creating all kinds of indie buzz ages ago.

That isn't the case here, which is terribly unfortunate considering the incredible amount of talent this guy has. The tracks he has recorded and made available are irresistably charming (his voice, prominantely accented, is reserved but strangely moving, like a Siberian Stephin Merritt), and though its impossible to be sure of how his album will sound once completed, I have a hard time imagining it being anything less than stellar.

3. Minus Story
Though already much bigger than Roman Revutsky and The Hi Lo Trons (they've released a number of EPs, both of which received fairly positive reviews from you know who), Minus Story seems to still be short of the attention they should be getting. I got really excited about the indie pop group after hearing their latest EP, No Rest For Ghosts, which was released in 2005 - but it was when I heard their second most recent recording, Captain Is Dead, Let The Drum Corpse Dance, that I was hooked. Like The Unicorns before them, Minus Story craft songs that brim with gleeful joy but resonate with deep, dark sadness. On 'Open Your Eyes', especially, Minus Story show that they, unlike most indie pop acts, can write a song of intense emotional depth without resorting to gimmicks like chessy lyrics and thick strings.

My only real qualm is that they might not be able to focus enough to pour their energy into a solid full length recording; the fact that they've released 3 EPs but seemingly haven't considered anything longer signals to me that they might not be ready for it yet. I suppose I'm thankful that they have the sense to not get ahead of themselves, but I'm greedy and don't want to wait much longer. The only thing I can do is wait and see what happens, but I have a good feeling about 2006 for Minus Story.

2. Adam Saikaley
Electronica artists so frequently sound 'futuristic'; from industrial cracks and hisses to spacey beeps and buzzes, music made primarily on computers typically sounds like the instrument with which it was created which, though often compelling and dynamic, feels strangely limiting when compared to what else can be done. Maybe that's why the music of Adam Saikaley sounds so refreshing: situated primarily in electronica, Adam generally sounds as far from electronic as you can imagine. His music distinctly evokes music of the mid-twentieth century, rich with the sounds of 30s radio and 50s TV. Sampling the forgotten sounds of early jazz and pop and cleverly combining it with his own breakbeat percussion, Adam's final product is addictive and brilliant (though practically impossible to categorize).

1. . . . As The Poets Affirm
Though both their first two LP releases, I Want To Tell My Heart To You But I Cannot Say English and The Jaws That Bite, The Claws That Catch were good in their own ways, Ottawa favorites ...As The Poets Affirm's forthcoming release is undoubtably going to be their breakthrough. The two demo tracks from the album which they currently have available (through Myspace only, unfortunately), are absolutely astounding, and are a sure sign that The Poets have come a hell of a long way in such a short amount of time.



It's not that The Poets weren't good before: their debut LP in 2004, I Want To Tell My Heart, was fairly solid post-rock, but making a name for yourself as just another post-rock group in Canada is damn near impossible unless your band has 'Godspeed!' in the title. The group's second LP showed some movement away from the genre, most notably in their reservation, keeping songs super-consise at no longer than 5 or 6 minutes (please remember that most post-rock songs, clocking in at 10-20 minutes a piece, can be reasonably pretentious or self-indulgent). Regardless, despite the members' insistence that they are not particularly interested in post-rock music, they were still lifting their skinny fists to heaven a tad too often.

It seems that now, though, on their third release, the group has found a musical style they can call their own. The slow but steady shift away from post-rock into something more dynamic and unique is not unlike Canada's most notable musical ensemble, Broken Social Scene, who was hidden in obscurity until they decidedly abandoned their post-rock roots in favor for a more fresh sound.

The Poets have expanded their range to include, for the first time, vocal tracks, but not as one might expect; instead of letting the vocals become the focus (as the case is for most vocal-oriented music), the group has opted to implement vocals as merely another intrument within their richly layered works. This ends up working surprisingly well, as in 'Suburbs Of A Secret', where only a few sparse lines are delivered in key climatic moments. The result of their new direction is a marvellous new sound that will likely establish them in 2006 as one of Canada's top indie talents and will almost definitely garner them with much-deserved attention.


And that about wraps it up. Be sure to watch these guys carefully, as they're sure to go far this year. Also, we all know that The Subways and We Are Scientists are already on the road to mega-notoriety, so I opted to disclude them this time around (sorry guys).

Download:
Hi Lo Trons - Astromen
Hi Lo Trons - Science Fiction Music
Roman Revutsky - Hurry Up
Roman Revutsky - Incomplete
Minus Story - The Happy Activist
Minus Story - Open Your Eyes
Adam Saikaley - Stolen Kisses
Adam Saikaley - Of Garden's Yesterday
...As The Poets Affirm - A Lie Told Before Breakfast
...As The Poets Affirm - A Voice Recited The News On The Radio

Buy:
Minus Story - No Rest For Ghosts
Minus Story - Captain Is Dead, Let The Drum Corpse Dance
Broken Social Scene - Feel Good Lost
6 comments

Thursday, January 19, 2006

A Season I'd Like To Sleep Through

Geoff Trainor

Usually I would give serious consideration to the possibility of sleeping through such a cold, and well, boring season. Really, what does winter have anyway? Snow? That's more of an annoyance at 1 am, after a 10 hour shift.

Wintersleep
So...That's What Indie Kids From Halifax Look Like

Wintersleep however, I will be happy to stay wide awake for. At least until the liquor starts making me drowsy. These four Canadian indie kids are putting a show tonight, at the now re-opened Myron's cabaret.

Casey, and I will be in attendance. As will my digital camera, sadly forgotten fully-charged, here at the office when we saw Joel Plaskett last month.

While Casey and I are out, check back at the newly updated Batman Marathon site for some behind the scenes videos.

Download:
Wintersleep - Jaws Of Life

Buy:
Wintersleep @ Maple Music
5 comments

Darwin Doesn't Do Elvis Impersonations or "Kiss Me, I'm Elvis"

Casey Dorrell

Customer: Could you show me where your Elvis DVDs are?

Casey: Yep, it'll just be one moment - I have to find a CD for this customer.

*Casey goes to look for **** CD*

Associate: Hey Casey, someone's looking for Elvis DVDs, could you help her out?

*Casey finds CD*

Casey: Yeah, just about to.

*Nearby customer 2, who appears in his mid forties, overhears*

Customer 2: Heh heh heh . . . Here's some Elvis!

*Customer 2 waves about a Kiss DVD*

Casey: Hah, yeah.

Customer 2: You could be like, "this is Elvis"

Casey: Uh, yeah.

*Customer 2 turns to wife*


Customer 2: Oh, I'm too mean! Heh heh.

*Casey differentiates music DVDs from movie DVDs for custromer 1 who then leaves sans Elvis.

Customer 2: Heh heh. More Elvis here!

*Customer 2 begins waving about his Kiss DVD again*

Customer 2: You Know, we're here looking for Music DVDs and we still have about 10 unopened at home.

Casey: Ah . . . Ok.

Customer 2: We really like 'em.

*Casey wonders why they haven't opened them yet then*

Customer 2: Hah, I Should have showed that woman this DVD! 'Here's your Elvis!'

*Customer 2 again shows Casey his prized Kiss DVD*

Casey: I don't think she would have gone for that.

Customer 2: I'll bet, heh heh.

*Customer 2 sees someone he knows*

Customer 2: Hah, there was this lady here looking for Elvis, so I'm like . . .


Download:
Belle and Sebastian - A Century of Elvis
Ai Phoenix - Elvis
A-Set - The Kiss
Lucero - Kiss the Bottle (Jawbreaker cover)
Foo Fighters - Kiss the Bottle (see above)

Buy:
Belle and Sebastian - Push Barman to Open Old Wounds
Ai Phoenix - Lean That Way Forever
A-Set - The Kiss
Lucero - Dreaming in America

Related:
Arguing With Darwin
Darwin was a Fraud
Darwin: 0 Casey: 3

Darwin Absent a Conversation in 2003
Darwin Languishes in Obscurity
Searching for 'Da Wayne

7 comments

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Duck and Cover

Calum Marsh

Ed Note: Mocking Music welcomes Calum, who we're so excited about having that we'll even forgive his enthusiasm for Xiu Xiu's cover of the Tracy Chapman 'Fast Cars' song and the lack of ducks in this post. We're great people, we really are. Calum will be joining us on a very regular basis in 2006 as we inch toward world domination. Enjoy his cover and remix selection:

The time for year-end 'Best Of' lists has come and gone yet again, but I'm quite certain your thirst for music-related listing is far from quenched. Never fear, people of the indie world, for I have brought sanctuary in numerical order: The Top Ten Most Interesting Indie Covers & Remixes . . . Ever! (Please note that this list is in no way related to the "...ever!" series of compilation albums - it just sounded cool to tack the word on the end).

No, not covers as in those often overlooked pieces of art on the front of your cd, but cover songs. Yep, cover songs. Now before you announce triumphantly that there are no good cover songs, let alone ten, read carefully: That term "cover" has had the worst of associations through musical history - sped-up punk remakes of classic rock hits? Pop takes on 80s favorites? The A-Teens? - and I can definitely understand the bad reputation. Remixes, too, end up with the reputation of being barely-changed rehashes of songs that don't need changing. But that doesn't mean there aren't some fine tracks redone by fine artists, as I intend to highlight in this little list. Though be sure to heed my warning that these aren't necessarily the ten best indie cover songs, but the most interesting - the distiniction needs to be made perfectly clear, since I know how defensive fans can get over classics being taken in a new direction. Moving on...

10. The Subways - Staring At The Sun (TV On The Radio) [Original]
Even though The Subways are most notoriously known for being 2006's new "cool" indie band (read: they had a song on the O.C. and so by extension hipsters don't like them), their take on TV On The Radio's best song is surprisingly good. You'd think a straight-up indie rock group would turn that barber/rock/whatever song into a boring listen, but their relatively reserved spin works more than you might like to admit. Not as good as the original, of course, but I find it creeping its way onto my mix tapes more and more frequently.

9. Diplo - Hollaback Girl (Gwen Stefani) [Download]
I really, really didn't want to like this super-fun version as much as I did, but I can't lie about it. A Diplo cover of any radio song gives hipsters a reasonable excuse to listen to it without feeling like a sell-out, so it's good for something I suppose. It lacks the over-the-top spectacle that made the original such a huge hit, but it seems a whole lot more bearable to listen to casually - though maybe that's partly because I didn't hear this version every single time I turned on the radio all summer - now that shit is bananas (sorry, couldn't resist).

8. Matt Pond PA - In The Aeroplane Over The Sea (Neutral Milk Hotel) [Download] [Original]
Sacriledge! Before you go for my throat on this one, I wanna make it perfectly clear that I'm just as offended by this monstrosity as anyone else. The band decided to make one of the best songs in the world their own, cleaning up the lo-fi sound and charmingly delicate nature and opting instead to make it all clean and 'pretty', exchanging trumpets and singing-saws for, well, guitars and drums. Whoo-hoo, what a hoot - not! (do kids still use that expression?). I've heard good things from reliable people about Matt Pond PA's own work, but an infinite number of excellent works may never clean my mouth of this dirty little cover. Sigh.

7. The Streets - Banquet (Bloc Party) [Download] [Original]
No, that's not a mistake. The Streets, everyone's favorite British rapping storyteller, did a cover of Bloc Party's seminal indie-rock single. Yes, it is as awesome as it sounds. No, it is not what you're expecting. In fact, it's hardly even a cover song in the standard sense: frontman Mike Skinner offers a frenzied apology in the form of a rap song to Jo Whiley for apparently stealing a microphone from her radio show (don't ask, I guess). If it sounds a tad silly, it is, but that's what I adore about The Streets in the first place. Replacing the lyrics for his own antidotal rhymes, Skinner keeps the addictive guitar and intensifies the drums (probably the only Bloc Party cover or remix to ever mess with the already-incredible percussion sections), combining the elements really, really well. It isn't often that a song like this sounds as good as it seems, but here's at least one case to prove that it occasionally can happen.


6. Xiu Xiu - Ceremony (Joy Division) [Download] [Original]
Much like his certifiably hip rendition of Tracy Chapman hit 'Fast Car', Xiu Xiu's take on a Joy Division classic has pissed off a whole lot of fans, both his and Ian Curtis'. I personally enjoy the cover, but as a Xiu Xiu fan I'm likely not part of the majority on this issue. Still, love it or passionately despise it, it's an interesting way of thinking about the track. Ian Curtis' hush, hard-to-hear vocals on the original are replaced by Jamie Stewart's quivering oddity of a voice, which works more often than not. The usual guitars and drums are replaced by, like every other Xiu Xiu track ever recorded, electronic buzzes, smashed, bands, pops, and any other nonsense noise you can think of. For an artist so notoriously challenging, though, the song ends up being incredibly catchy and addictive. Bonus points if you understand the lyrics in either version without looking them up.

5. VitaminsForYou - No Cars Go (Arcade Fire) [Download] [Original]
One of Canada's more obscure indie acts covers Canada's biggest indie darlings, and the result is a fun and quirky cover that, though it doesn't quite live up to the original's caliber, ends up being a really enjoyable track in its own way. You can't really blame Vitamins for falling short of the original's quality, can you? There aren't many bands out there who could rival The Arcade Fire's incredibly talent, and practically nobody would have the nerve to try it. Maybe, then, Vitamins gets extra points for their boldness; being an unknown, even by indie standards, and trying your hand at one of the more beloved songs by one of the more beloved bands is no small feat, and considering the song doesn't crumble under its own daunting weight, I think they deserve a little extra credit.

4. DFA - Deceptacon (Le Tigre) [Download] [Original]
Probably the most noteworthy example of a remix being more popular that its original (though it isn't, to be fair, necessarily any better than the Le Tigre version), 'Decepticon [DFA Remix] is available on an unbelievable number of DFA vinyl singles, remix collections, Le Tigre B-sides, and indie compilations, this song is pretty much everywhere you look, and for a generally good reason. It was sort of obvious, actually: everyone's favorite girl-pop band joins forces with everyone's favorite record label to remix everyone's favorite indie dance hit, the result being, naturally, everyone's favorite remix. Overexposure aside, it's a terrific track that deserves (nearly) all of the praise it receives.

3. Death From Above 1979 - Luno (Bloc Party) [Download] [Original]
Another remix of a Bloc Party song? Excessive though it may seem, I'm perfectly comfortable with it considering the quality of both tracks. Available on Bloc Party's excellent Silent Alarm Remixed album, it's actually not a remix at all; Cover song through and through (Maybe DFA1979 didn't get the memo that it was a remix-only album?), it's one of the strongest reworkings on the compilation and was one of the better songs of last year. I suspect that maybe Death From Above can record a better song than Bloc Party, while the Bloc can write a better tune than Death From Above; assuming this is true, it only makes sense that DFA1979 performing a Bloc-written song makes for a winning combination. Just a thought.

2. The Arcade Fire - Born On A Train (Magnetic Fields) [Download] [Original]
Though never recorded on an album, The Arcade Fire's lovely rendition of Magnetic Fields' already-brilliant 'Born On A Train' can be caught on the KCRW's "Morning Becomes Eclectic" radio show, which typically offers some wonderfully rare goodies from Canada's best indie groups. This particular offering is especially wonderful: replacing Stephin Merritt's trademark dark voice/keyboard noise style for the usual Arcade Fire magic with orchestrial-like richness, the group thankfully delivers all the way, making the reworking very, very close in beauty to its predecessor.

1. !!! - Take Ecstasy With Me (Magnetic Fields) [Download] [Original]
It's odd that a seemingly "classic" indie band such as the Magnetic Fields can be covered so consistently well so often without a bunch of offensively bad rehashes clogging the canon. Maybe we're lucky that reliably high-quality groups like The Arcade Fire and !!! are the ones doing the covers and not lousy no-names looking for a notorious hit by covering much-loved artists (cough, Matt Pond, cough); we're fortunate, because of this, to be graced with covers that instead of trying to best the originals, work surprisingly well in surprising ways. Such is the case for !!!'s simply wonderful take on perhaps the best Fields song, Take Ecstasy With Me: fittingly trippy electronics flesh out the once-consice track into an expansive 8-minute odyssey, rich with innumerable vocal tracks (they blend so bloody well you can't tell if it's two or two hundred voices) and spacey noises. Where Merritt's song evoked the subdued trance of a two-person trip, !!!'s seems infinitely larger, as thought the setting were moved from inside a van to outer space. The result it spectacular and almost magical, in a weird kind of way. A great cover by a great band of a great song by a great band. Wonderful.

And that's about it, really. I'm sure I've missed some great tracks, so feel free to add to the list.

Download:
TV On The Radio - Staring At The Sun
Diplo - Hollaback Girl
Neutral Milk Hotel - In The Aeroplane Over The Sea
Matt Pond PA - In The Aeroplane Over The Sea
Streets - Banquet
Bloc Party - Banquet
Xiu Xiu - Ceremony
Joy Division - Ceremony
VitaminsForYou - No Cars Go
The Arcade Fire - No Cars Go
Le Tigre - Deceptacon (DFA Remix)
Le Tigre - Deceptacon
Death From Above 1979 - Luno
Bloc Party - Luno
Arcade Fire - Born on a Train
Magnetic Fields - Born on a Train
!!! - Take Ecstasy With Me
Magnetic Fields - Take Ecstasy With Me

Buy:

Magnetic Fields - Holiday
Le Tigre - Self-Titled
Vitaminsforyou - I'm Sorry For Ever and For Always
The Streets - A Grand Don't Come For Free
Neutral Milk Hotel - In The Aeroplane Over The Sea
The Arcade Fire - Funeral
13 comments