Engineers

I knew absolutely nothing about this band prior to listening to this album. The only reason the name was familiar was due to a remix of ‘Blue Light’ they contributed to Bloc Party’s Silent Alarm Remixed. The remix stripped the song down to its basics, focusing on Kele Okereke’s vocals and the dreamy atmosphere suggested by the keys, as opposed to the rock n’ roll crescendo found at the end of the album version. Since I probably listened to the remix more than the original track, I went into this album with moderately high hopes.

Three Fact Fader is Engineers’ second studio album, their first for Kscope. If I was looking for one word to describe this release, it would be hypnotic. This is classic dream pop, through and through, with touches of shoegaze. In the vein of The Album Leaf’s In a Safe Place, Engineers have created an album best listened to either late at night or when lost in thought.  Vocally and even stylistically, I can draw a parallel to M83. Just to be sure my ears aren’t deceiving me, I can confirm the two bands do share a producer in Ken Thomas.

First track and single ‘Clean Coloured Wire’  brings thoughts of My Bloody Valentine to the forefront. The following track ‘Sometimes I Realize’ is almost uncharacteristically upbeat for the album, but it contrasts well with the other, more sombre tracks. The album is at its best when embracing the spacey atmosphere that comes with their genre, particularly on tracks like ‘Brighter As We Fall’. Tracks occasional venture into more bombastic territory, as on ‘The Fear Has Gone’. What starts as a few chords on strings swells into an explosion of sound. I’d be remiss if I didn’t reference the band’s name in some manner, but true to their title, this album feels expertly designed and crafted, not a note out of place.

Engineers – Sometimes I Realize
Engineers – The Fear Has Gone
Bloc Party – Blue Light (Engineers ‘Anti-Gravity’ Mix)

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— , July 26, 2009    1 Comment

The festival concert is an interesting beast. They beguile you with their attractive band list (which look oh-so-impressive on the back of a t-shirt), their free-spirited collective nature between music lovers (slash, mass gathering of musical hippies/hipsters), and the promise of an excellent juxtaposition of genres. Although, there’s always another side. Between ferocious heat, growling crowds, and overpriced couscous, the three-day festivals bite back with a vengeance. Perhaps after a few different festivals, one acquires a sense of what they want over the course of the musical extravaganza, and not all of these expectations can be met. A few quick notes about Primavera Sound:

The setting: Fórum, by the Mediterranean Sea in Barcelona, Spain. The gusts of salty breeze were refreshing, but didn’t compensate for the lack of luscious grass as at Coachella or the abundant shade at Chicago’s Lollapalooza. Pavement ground covered with empty beer cups and cigarette butts just isn’t the same. Although the side program held in Parc Joan Miró – in an oasis of palm trees and a more personal feel with the band – was a different story.

The timing: Aside from the side-program, the shows didn’t start until the late afternoon/early evening. Likely, this is to avoid the stifling heat of the midday. That, and the Spaniards do things late (DJ Medhi’s set started at 4:30am!). I have mixed feelings about this. While I prefer the nighthawk approach, I think it leads to a tighter schedule with very unfortunate show overlap. On that note…

The scheduling: Oh God, why? Why were The Pains of Being Pure of Heart playing the same time as Carsick Cars, who were cut short by My Bloody Valentine? Gang Gang Dance with Sonic Youth? (Sarah’s personal nightmare). Andrew Bird and Phoenix? Deerhunter with my only opportunity to eat during the night? Sigh. It happens every time.

Continue Reading ‘Primavera Sound’ Concert Feature »

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— , June 8, 2009    10 Comments

Primavera es está en el aire, spring is in the air.  In Spain, anyway. (Thanks for Marc for the correction… clearly, my Spanish still has a ways to go!) Considering the pilgrimage to Coachella was a bit unmanageable this year, my summer concert festival will be Barcelona’s Primavera Sound 2009. The three-day tunesfest takes place may 28 to 30 (next week) and features a indie-packed international crew that will make your head spin. There are few names on the playbill that we haven’t yet spun here at Ca Va Cool, (as well as some old classics) so I thought I would do the honours and throw the records in the jukebox for all to hear. And, there’s a selection of favourites for good measure.

Download | Primavera Sound Festival 2009 Preview

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01 | Girls – Lust for Life / Lust for Life EP / 2009

Talk about an ingenious way to prevent pirating: Band name = Girls. EP name = Lust for Life. Search results = sketchy. I’m not even sure how to buy this EP, owing to my fear of opening any of the Google hits. But this track holds a lot of promise for the San Francisco group; irony, clarity, and levity. If anyone discovers the proper way to buy this album, comment away.

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02 | A Certain Ratio – Teri / Mind Made Up / 2008
03 | A Certain Ratio – Do the Du / Do the Du 12” / 1981

One of the original Factory Records post-punk bands, A Certain Ratio were featured in one of the best music movies ever, 24 Hour Party People. While maybe not explicitly named as one of the forerunners in the Madchester scene, they followed the wave by making the move into house music. Their most recent releases have been more-or-less modernized versions of their original sound, with some exceptions (like the dreamy ‘Teri’ included here).

Continue reading Primavera Sound Festival 2009 Preview »

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— , May 23, 2009    5 Comments

This year’s mixtape is ready for you to download. The two disc set is packed with 2008 favourites from all of our writers.

Download: The Ca Va Cool Mixtape 2008 – Disc 1

01. She & Him – Why Do You Let Me Stay Here?
02. Hot Chip – Ready for the Floor
03. Chad VanGaalen – TMNT Mask
04. Bloc Party – Signs
05. Mystery Jets – Young Love feat. Laura Marling
06. TV on the Radio – Family Tree
07. DeVotchKa – Transliterator
08. Wilco w/ Fleet Foxes – I Shall Be Released
09. Wolf Parade – Soldier’s Grin
10. M83 – Graveyard Girl
11. Albert Hammond, Jr. – GfC
12. Vampire Weekend – Walcott
13. Brendan Canning – Churches Under the Stairs
14. Cut Copy – Lights and Music
15. Los Campesinos! – This Is How You Spell…

Download: The Ca Va Cool Mixtape 2008 – Disc 2

01. MGMT – Oracular Spectacular
02. Passion Pit – Sleepyhead
03. Born Ruffians – Little Garçon
04. The Clips – Space Kidz
05. The Radio Dept. – Freddie and the Trojan Horse
06. Bon Iver – Re: Stacks
07. Lykke Li – Dance Dance Dance
08. Portishead – Machine Gun
09. No Age – Eraser
10. Plants and Animals – New Kind of Love
11. Bodies of Water – Gold, Tan, Peach, and Grey
12. Fleet Foxes – Oliver James
13. Deerhunter – Never Stops
14. Santogold – Creator
15. Beast – Ashtray

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— , December 24, 2008    4 Comments

Wild Beasts

At the end of each year I delight in reading a ton of “best albums of the year” lists on blogs and in magazines to find everything that I’ve missed over the year. I think I listened to quite a bit over the last 11 and a half months, so I’ve decided to publish my own best of 2008 this time around. It was a hard to choose, but I finally got it down to 20.

20 | Wild Beasts – Limbo, Panto

I’m starting off my top 20 list with some fauve British guitars. I’ve been following Wild Beasts from their early EPs and singles and what’s great is that they didn’t lose their raw sound on their debut album, Limbo, Panto. Angular guitars, falsetto vocals, and unconventional percussion make this a weird but rewarding listen. Matisse would be proud.

(more…)

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— , December 16, 2008    10 Comments