Photograph by Yuula Benivolski

Photograph by Yuula Benivolski

The twenty albums included in our Best Albums of 2009 list can only cover so much of the music we’ve enjoyed, so to share some more of our favourites from the past year, we present the Ca Va Cool Mixtape for 2009, just in time to close off the year. As always, we thank you for reading and hope you stick around in the new decade. Happy new year.

Download | The Ca Va Cool Mixtape 2009

01. A.C. Newman – Submarines of Stockholm
02. Yeasayer – Tightrope
03. Dog Day – Happiness
04. The Very Best  – Warm Heart of Africa feat. Ezra Koenig
05. Think About Life – Havin’ My Baby
06. Beirut – My Night With the Prostitute from Marseille
07. Tegan and Sara – Someday
08. The Thermals – Now We Can See
09. Timber Timbre – Demon Host
10. Engineers – Song for Andy
11. You Say Party! We Say Die! – Laura Palmer’s Prom
12. The Drums – Let’s Go Surfing
13. Fanfarlo – Luna
14. Julie Doiron – Nice to Come Home
15. Kurt Vile – Freeway
16. Freelance Whales – Ghosting
17. Japandroids – Young Hearts Spark Fire
18. The Raveonettes – Last Dance

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— , December 31, 2009    1 Comment

Team B

Playing with Beirut and Arcade Fire can be a demanding task. Realizing this, Kelly Pratt decided that he should spend his downtime doing something more productive than keg stands. Piecing together songs in moonlit hotel lounges, backstage dressing rooms, and noisy airports, the charismatic Pratt fashioned an album lush with distorted trumpet solos, playful guitar riffs, and meditative piano-driven electronica. The aptly-named Team B consists of a myriad of musicians ranging from members of Beirut and Arcade Fire to LCD Soundsystem and Jealous Girlfriends. Their eponymous debut will be released on May 26 by Tonacity Recordings. I recently had a chance to talk with multi-instrumentalist Kelly Pratt about growing up in Kentucky, the untimely theft of his wife by Beirut, and all the indie rock goodness that is Team B.

Team B – On My Mind
Team B – No Purchase Necessary
Team B – Misma

Jan: You’ve played with Beirut, Arcade Fire and now Team B. Between all these bands how do you gauge success in indie rock?

Kelly: It’s a weird thing, it’s hard to answer, I would consider myself successful to the extent that I’m playing with bands that I love, and people are listening to it and I’m able to support myself financially doing what I love. In the strictest sense of the word, I’d consider myself a success. Other people may view success as being wealthy, or just being able to play a couple of shows now and then. My true answer may be somewhere between those two. As far as me personally, I feel success is being able to play music for a living in a variety of different genres, that’s very important to me. I don’t just like to play one type of music all the time, I think it gets a little boring.

Jan: Team B puts brass instruments in the spotlight, why brass over strings?

Kelly: Well simply because of that fact that my first instrument, well piano was my first instrument, but my first real instrument [laughs] was trumpet. That’s something that myself and my wife Tracy, who is part of the band, spent a lot of time on and studied in college. It wasn’t until later after I moved to New York that I started picking up other brass instruments. Although, while we were in school both of us had to take the courses where you learn other instruments, so both of us learned how to play strings, brass, woodwind, percussion and of course we were taking piano lessons throughout college as well. As far as brass specifically, that’s what I have the most experience in and that’s what comes easiest to me, beyond that Tracy is part of the band and Jon [Jon Natchez – Beirut], well his big thing is woodwinds but he is also a brass player too, you know it comes from there. It’s not like we specifically said “Okay, let’s make brass the most important thing” but that’s just what we feel the most comfortable with, maybe if we were string players the songs would be the same but there would be new string parts instead of brass.

Continue Reading ‘Team B’ Feature Interview »

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— , April 24, 2009    1 Comment

Imagine a mariachi band waltzing through a native funeral mass, and ultimately wandering off into a club later that evening, coaxed by synthetic overtones and a melancholic vocal part. Then for good measure, add a grinning Zach Condon awaiting the parade in the background with the words, “just because I can” dripping from his lips. The result is March of the Zapotec and Realpeople Holland by Beirut, out now on Ba Da Bing Records.

The first half of the double EP draws inspiration from Oaxaca, Mexico as the composition is aided by the local 19-piece collective Jimenez Band. The familiar trumpets, horns and accordion shine through on tracks such as ‘La Llorona’ and you feel Beirut’s Baltic heart beating through to the culmination of ‘The Shrew’. March of the Zapotec does not feel out of place next to Beirut’s previous works The Gulag Orkestar and The Flying Club Cup, as Condon’s tendencies to explore and re-arrange composition with an exceedingly varied cast are evident in the unrehearsed styling that would typically accompany a Roma wedding band celebrating in the dusty countryside.

Supplementing March of the Zapotec is Holland, a gallant endeavour that would ultimately startle the previously mentioned countryside wedding and have the occupants rushing to the dance floor under a tacky moonlit disco ball. Using his previous pseudonym Realpeople, Zach Condon creates an electronic symphony that leaves established Beirut fans searching the acknowledgments for names such as Jimmy Tamborello. Albeit different, there is something highly gratifying in the medley of synthesizers and drum-and-bass all blanketed in Zach Condon’s uncompromising voice.

Ukulele, trumpet, or laptop Beirut continues to develop with the likes of ‘My Night with the Prostitute from Marseille’ forming an atmospheric sound overflowing with a lyrical warmth. The intriguing double feature depicts a craving to explore, and if anything in a consciously pretentious fashion could end with the scraggy silhouette of Zach Condon mustering up a satisfying, “I told you so” conclusion.

Beirut – The Shrew
Beirut – My Night with the Prostitute from Marseilles
Beirut – No Dice

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— , March 19, 2009    4 Comments

Tapes 'n' Tapes

In order to mark the end of this momentous month, I figured a diverse mix of one-off love and non-love tunes that I really enjoy would be appropriate. First off is from a band that I have previously repped on this site, Animal Collective.  While I stand by my previous statement that Avey Tare is the weaker singer on Strawberry Jam, I picked up the bands previous release Feels, and was blown away by both the uniqueness of his vocals and lyrics, which give an impression of stream of consciousness despite the evident thought that went into the construction of images and metaphors.  Grass is easily the most ‘single-worthy’ track on the record, and for good reason – its beautiful, jarring, and honest.

Animal Collective – Grass

Next up are the sweet European melodies of a 22 year old from New York, Zach Condon, known also as Beirut.  The most recent long player, The Flying Cup Club, is a solid collection of songs.  The word swoon gets thrown around a lot in reference to different music, but I definitely think it can accurately describe this track, A Sunday Smile.

Beirut – A Sunday Smile

Finally Tapes ‘n’ Tapes probably get a bit more attention than they deserve, but its not completely without warrant.  The Loon contains a few throw away tracks, but the majority of the songs really get me, especially Manitoba.

Tapes ‘n’ Tapes – Manitoba

And now for the explicitly non-love songs.  First comes Man Man.  The word crazy, much like swoon, gets overused to describe music, so I won’t use it here.  Instead, I will say this – I am absolutely terrified of Man Man. Stay away from my house, but make more songs like this.

Man Man – Black Mission Goggles

Lil’ Wayne is a God.  No two ways about it.  I can’t express how serious I am when I say this.  This qualifies as a non-love song cause he took Young Jeezy‘s ‘I Luv It’ and turned it from terrible to excellent (PUNtacular).

Lil’ Wayne – Blooded

Finally, this song is a little old, but nothing says ‘love’ like a song about strippers.  Thanks to The Faint!

The Faint – Worked Up So Sexual

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— , March 1, 2008    5 Comments