Monday, August 31, 2009

Kevin Hearn & Thin Buckle Never Sleep

Never thought I'd be doing a Barenaked Ladies-related post, but Hearn's is the most insidiously catchy tune I've recently caught. So now I'm passing on the benign virus, which is really an air-borne ear-infection from the new album Havana Winter. The simple keyboard riff will be stuck in your head, and the fragile vocal melody and hand-claps round out a sure-fire hit in Scruffy's universe.

You can download this tune here. If you're quick, you can download another tune, Coma, from Local Vertical, who inform that Lou Reed has provided the stutter-scream guitar near the end of the tune. Huh? Lou Reed's a sideman for Hearn now? Well, no, Hearn's been playing in Reed's band, as well as performing on Garth Hudson's latest album (more info on that can be found here). Hearn also managed to get Mary Margaret O'Hara and Chantal Kreviazuk on Havana Winter. All of this while still a member of BNL? Clearly the guy never sleeps.

Buy Havana Winter at Hearn's site or at Six Shooter Records.

Friday, August 28, 2009

The Name Game Vol.3: Sea Wolf, Wolfmother, Wolf Parade, We Are Wolves

Photo by bobster 855 from here.

Has every possible band name based on the English language been used already? Probably not yet, but the tipping point may be coming soon. This series of posts is being created to ensure you can tell the which from the what when that catastrophe finally occurs.

I've mentioned in a couple of previous posts that the amount of bands with "wolf" in their moniker or song title or album title was getting outrageous. It's finally time to delve into a few of those lycanthropes.

Sea Wolf seems to be a fellow based in Los Angeles named Alex Brown Church and whomever he gets to play along. He takes the cake, because he's got this ultra-catchy ditty called You're a Wolf.

New album White Water, white Bloom is out September 22nd. You can get a free mp3 of bonus track Stanislaus here.

Wolfmother is a band from Australia that embraces 70s rock icons like Deep Purple, Sabbath, etc. Here's lead Wolfie to explain the band himself; I think he loves Spinal Tap.

This one sounds a bit like White Stripes, though, don't it?

For some reason Wolfmother always make me think of Danzig's Mother - remember that one? It went a bit like this:

Wolf Parade is a Montreal-based band featuring Dan Boeckner (Handsome Furs), Spencer Krug (Frog Eyes, Sunset Rubdown, Swan Lake), Dante DeCaro (Hot Hot Heat, Johnny and the Moon), Hadji Bakara, and Arlen Thompson. I am immensely enjoying Handsome Furs lately, so Wolf Parade is like a bonus because I missed out on them previously. Free mp3s are available for you here.

Wolf Parade should not be confused with another Montreal wolf band, We Are Wolves. Ultra-small drum-kit (or non-existent and replaced with electro-drums), squelchy, distorted synths, squalling guitar, fuzzy bass, rock vocals that might fit on a Turbonegro record instead of cold robot voices - compelling oddities, these chaps. And judging from the video below, bandmembers seems to have a sense of humour, which could probably serve Bono & Co./Coldplay/etc well. Imagine a world where artists couldn't play their music until audience members hit the target with a baseball to drop them into the watertanks, and even then they had to play underwater. These guys are dedicated! Plus they give info on their website in both French and English, which is cool and pretty damn Canadian (the lyrics are sometimes in French, too, which is all right with me).

We Are Wolves Fight & Kiss from Dare To Care Records on Vimeo.

Also, the band clearly does some wild shows -check out these photos by Patrick Cormier taken from That's the band playing on a platform hanging from a crane way up in the air.

Caution: the following should contain a nude mammal/general weirdness warning. Sounds a bit like a more tuneful Pere Ubu.

We Are Wolves Coconut Night from Dare To Care Records on Vimeo.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

New Band Alert: Bad Lieutenant and Them Crooked Vultures

I see that a guy named Bernard Sumner has a new band called Bad Lieutenant. Formerly Sumner was in a semi-popular combo called New Order, a little group named Joy Division, and a pretty okay basement band called Electronic. You can hear the first single, Sink or Swim, here, sounds like good pop (as well as..well, Brit Pop). Blur's Alex James and Stephen Morris (New Order and Joy Division) also play on some tracks.

Here's an acoustic version of Sink or Swim (sorry it cuts out near the end).

Is it just me, or is Sumner staring to look a teensy bit like Paul Williams?

No? Throw big glasses and a wig on Bernie, and voila! No? Okay, maybe it's just me.

Stereogum also wants us to know about another new band. Them Crooked Vultures is Josh Homme, John Paul Jones, and Dave Grohl. Never heard of 'em, but the following clip sounds a bit like Queens of the Stone Age meets Zeppelin.

This Grohl guy usedta be in Probot, which looks like Lemmy, a bunch of Suicide Girls, and a coupla sidemen to me.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Eels Give Live In-studio Tunes Away

Eels are getting in on the music-giveaway game, with 5 songs performed in the studio (by main Eel E alone, actually) free for you to download here. A 12" vinyl version is also available for pre-order here, which includes extra song "The Longing"; it'll be out September 1st.

The live songs are available from MySpace Transmissions, where you can see E perform the tunes as well as some interview footage. See E play his beautiful cream-cloured six-string and tickle the ivories. Do you think the big beard helps him sing with such a roughlysweet voice? Here's E and his pretty sky-blue guitar performing My Beloved Monster.

EELS "My Beloved Monster" from The MySpace Transmissio

I gotta admit that although I liked E's solo records in the early nineties, Eels were never high on my list. But looking back now, a new listen to a tune like Novocaine for the Soul reveals a song that's aged pretty well.

The new stuff is even better. Here's In My Dreams from Hombre Loco (another wolf/werewolf reference! Do you think Eels' werewolf-dropping has anything to do with the beard? Post coming soon about all of this wolf and werewolf mania.)

I first really started appreciating Eels when the band released the amazing With Strings: Live From Town Hall. Although not included on the album, here's a Prince cover with strings.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Inward Eye: Saviours of Rock 'n' Roll? Free music, anyway

A few years back I thought Inward Eye could save rock 'n' roll after seeing them open up for a reformed Urge Overkill. I even wrote a blurb for Chart magazine calling them the band to watch, and the boys signed to J Records in 2005 or 2006 (can't remember exactly, it's been so ... long). And then...nothing. The band did the shake and shimmy with record execs who expected something else than was being recorded, and years went by. The Hold Steady came along and saved rock anyway. And by saving rock I don't mean simply making good guitar/bass/drums-based tunes, those will always exist; I mean a band that makes you want to kiss, kill, drink, scream, start a band, pogo, and do it all over gain. Repeatedly. In a live setting, Inward Eye were explosive, with the guitarist windmilling unabashedly, the singer/bassist aggressive and amused, and the not-so-secret-weapon drummer doing his always-entertaining Keith Moon impression. But it seemed like the album would never arrive.

Now it's here. Actually, it's been available on iTunes for a while, but today the physical artifact entitled Throwing Bricks Instead of Kisses is released.

My first response is that the Winnipeg trio's raucous live presence isn't as easy to feel from the recordings. But that's no different from many other artists. Here's album opener Shame.

Looks like some money is being spent on promoting and marketing Inward Eye from Sham's professional-looking vid. The next videos are performance videos, maybe we can feel a bit more of the live electricity. But Day After Day is a pretty smooth-sounding tune, with silky backing vocals and nice organ fills rounding out the raw noise of a bar show.

You Know I Know captures more of the frenzied desperation we've come to expect from the brothers Erickson. Whiny, breathless vocals, tasty drum fills, some noisy Townsend chords - that's more like the twist on The Who we know and love (of course, the boys probably deliberately ditched some Who influences after they played a bunch of shows with the Moon-less and Entwhistle missing tour).

Inward Eye - You Know I Know (Official Music Video) - Click here for more home videos

Anyhow, there's a free 4-song ep waiting for you at the band's website. You can also hear a few older songs such as Carly, Disaster, and I'll Save Myself if you go here and search Inward Eye (and hey, the band description sounds suspiciously like words I wrote about them many years ago). Finally, here's some real live footage including a version of Smokey Robinson's Tears of a Clown that reminds me of The Who covering Summertime Blues or Shakin' All Over.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Rogue Wave - What You and I Have Been Missing (Sort of)

Indieball hipped me to Rogue Wave, a band that at first listen could have fit into the recent Twee Pop post I did for a buddy (any other requests?). I think both the song and video for Eyes could fit that bill.

However, a closer listen shows that Rogue Wave's got a lot more going on. Endless Shovel brings some surprising rock (kinda like Sun Kil Moon with Lily & Parrots), with crashing cymbals and frenzied strumming moving the song to a different level. Everyday could be friends with Fleet Foxes, Lake Michigan hangs out with Elliot Smith, and Sightlines marries Band of Horses beauty with Mercury Rev drama. The latter tune is from the Spiderman 3 soundtrack, which amazes and pleases me - I thought those things were just Nickelback territory, but if kids all over the world are taking in the subtlety and grace of Rogue Wave, there's hope for the world yet. As Tina wrote on Indieball, Rogue Wave is one of those bands you might have heard and enjoyed on one of many movie or TV soundtracks or commercials without knowing it.

Track 1. Endless Shovel
Track 2. Everyday
Track 3. Lake Michigan
Track 4. Sightlines

All tracks above can be downloaded here.

Rogue Wave's website offers some interesting covers, such as Pixies' Debaser and some British band's All You Need is Love, as well as free downloads. You can see some in-studio footage here, I think you'll agree that Zach Rogue has one of the sweetest voices known to humankind - like Ben Gibbard (Death Cab) and James Mercer (The Shins). The band may be headed for the success those two bands have achieved, jump on the bandwagon before it's overflowing.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

New Radiohead EP Wall of Ice? Really?

image from here

According to Stereogum, Sneaky internet snooopers have somehow discovered this image, which looks like Radiohead artwork to me. A new song people are calling These Are My Twisted Words is also floating around out there, and further web digging is now leading some to believe Monday, August 18 will see a new EP called Wall of Ice released on the band's website.

Tried to find a clip of 15 Steps on the Grammys, but a good one seems hard to find. But Thom Yorke's working on the marching band's choreography is amusing nonetheless. Did anyone else think Yorke's serpentine sway looked a bit like Axl Rose's snake swagger?

Friday, August 14, 2009

Mos Def Rocks the Timpani, Cheri Oteri Rocks Simmer Down

Discerning tastemeister Stacey passed on this clip of Mos Def performing Quiet Dog on Letterman. What are those, timpani? I love how Mos Def does the "Simmer down" like those silly SNL skits.

Weezer play your faves

I stumbled across this on Indieball. Weezer covers MGMT's Kids and Lady Gaga's Pokerface (never thought I'd type Lady Gaga - did you?). Now the secret can be told -Rivers Cuomo IS Lady Gaga. Rivers seems like a better dancer, though...Next up, Weezer does the Jonas Bros. and Hannah Montana.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Grand Analog

Althought a few of Scruffy's recent posts have given you mash-ups, Grand Analog offers mash-ups of their own, smoothly weaving rap with pop, soul, reggae and rock elements (even tinges of jazz) like supreme alchemists.

For Scruffy, who grew up on Dad's Elvis, Beatles and Johnny Cash records, urban music has remained somewhat of a mystery. On Canada's prairies, it just wasn't easily accessible. Grandmaster Flash's message left an indelible impression, but it was years before more hooked me. Public Enemy and De La Soul and N.W.A. were all impossible to ignore, along with all of the early rap/pop crossovers that I don't find essential (Tone Loc? Young MC? MC Hammer? Leave 'em in the 80's). I had to learn some more when I had to interview Naughty By Nature and Dream Warriors, but I was still stuck in the rock realm. My musical tastes were formed by my older brother, Creem magazine, and staid rock radio.

But Grand Analog? These guys bring in so many disparate elements I gotta pay attention. Since yesterday was my hometown's summer (it was a one day thing), I wanted to give you the perfect summer song. Here's Electric City (featuring Shad) from the album Metropolis is Burning).

"I was a record-shop nerd with a mission", Odario proclaims, and it's true - you can tell. Catchy chorus, old school keyboard, real drums, fine funkified scratchy 70's guitar - what's not to like? Download here if you like, buy the whole album at discerning music stores anyoldwhere.

Here's the video for Her Daddy (Don't Like Me), featuring a cool Bo Diddley riff, a silky-smooth chorus, some understated acid guitar, handclaps, whistles, and mouth harp, and a fun vibe that's clearly a part of where Grand Analog is at.

Grand Analog have a few tour dates immediately before CMJ in October.

Aug 13: Pawn Shop (w/ Lioness) - Edmonton, AB
Aug 14: Amigo’s (w/ Lioness) - Saskatoon, SK
Aug 15: The Pyramid (w/ Lioness) - Winnipeg, MB
Oct 22: CMJ - Arlene's Grocery - New York, NY

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Klark Kent Kontest

Klark Kent was a guy who put out an album in 1980 called Music Madness from the Kinetic Kid. The bio on the back of the LP cover says the name is pronounced "Klerk Kunt" in "the Welsh fishing village where his psyche first materialized". Kent wrote and performed all of the music on the record, but he certaily wasn't Dave Grohl, Prince, or even Billy Corgan. There are two songs in the player below, Don't Care and Ritch in a Ditch, taken lovingly from the LP with snaps, crackles, pops and hisses intact.

The first person who tells me what Klark Kent's real name is wins a couple of lame CDs I've culled from the collection. If you like the songs and want to download them, go here.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Real Canadiana: Jason Plumb & the Willing

When people talk about consummate Canadian songwriters, Neil Young seems to always pop up. Never mind he's lived in the U.S. for maybe 40 years and often writes about the American government. Others might throw out the Tragically Hip or the Rheostatics. But I'll nominate Jason Plumb as the real deal. Recently Jason Plumb & the Willing released Wide Open: Songs for Sakatchewan, which is obviously a ploy to break it big in the States. Kidding. Plumb's just doing what he does, which happens to include prairie references. It's a cool record because Plumb & the Willing include live versions of some fine songs you probably missed as well as revisit Waltons' tunes such as Empire on the Plains, Wascana, and Middle of Nowhere from the underrated Empire Hotel disc.

Get Drive (live) for nothing here. The next song isn't on the new album, but it was also recorded in my living room. Okay, it wasn't my living room, I think it was Stephen Harper's.

And here we have...a Neil Young Cover! Yes, maybe Mr. Plumb is claiming the prairie singer/songwriter mantle Neil ditched.

Plumb is probably never going to be a rock star, because he won't beat up Perez Hilton, be photographed scarfing drugs with Pete Doherty, Kate Moss, or April Winehouse, or get arrested for beating up a hooker. But he might keep making quality music if you see him live or buy some music from him. Check out a show, he's got a good sense of humour and his band is pretty good, too.

Danko Jones - Sugar High

I like subtlety as much as any yak. But sometimes you just want riffs, rough vocals and the punch of dirty rock 'n' roll. Here it is.

sugar high - Danko Jones

You can download this tune for 0 cents here. Please comment below if you've read this far, your comment is your payment for reading/listening.