Phoenix

The Garrison at Fort York has become the go-to festival grounds in Toronto this summer, and with good reason. Avoiding the annoyance of getting to either Downsview Park or the ferry to Toronto Island, Arts&Crafts’ inaugural Field Trip provided a great showcase for the label’s roster and the treat of seeing You Forgot It in People performed in its entirety by Broken Social Scene.  Add the multitude of food options, great beer provided by Amsterdam Brewery, and other events, and it proved the grounds could be used with great success. The Toronto Urban Roots Festival was a different beast, stretched over four days, but it managed to weather a torrential downpour on the final day, ending with a triumphant set by Belle & Sebastian. So when the Grove Music Festival was forced to evacuate its original location in Niagara-on-the-Lake (while losing acts like Bob Mould and Macklemore), it seemed the infrastructure for a successful day was already in place.

However, the Grove Music Festival proved to be a poor facsimile of previous events, suffering from several disappointing developments. The set times for Palma Violets and Wavves were swapped with zero notice. Drinks were available for the ridiculous price of $11 a can, while the only water available was some sort of strange brand of “sport water.” The Jagermeister tent in the middle of the crowd served to block sightlines, and was complete with staff obnoxiously squirting passersby with super soakers on a rather mild day. There was a lack of merch from any of the headliners, to the point where the tent was selling discounted Edgefest shirts from a few days before. The forty minute set times for the likes of Hot Chip, Girl Talk and the Gaslight Anthem were ludicrously short. Earl Sweatshirt’s 20 minute set was its own joke. But most damning of all was the atrocious sound mix. The vocals were muffled and at times inaudible, particularly during Hot Chip’s otherwise stellar set. These issues seemed to be fixed by the time Phoenix hit the stage, but it cast a pall over the day. The other gripes could have been forgiven had the sound not been an issue.

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— , August 9, 2013    Comments Off on The Grove Music Festival

Rather than having a semantic argument about whether 2009 or 2010 was the end of the last decade, Ca Va Cool yet again brings you its top albums of the year. Through our patented, painstaking, super-secret process, we have separated the wheat from the chaff to bring you twenty of this year’s finest albums (and Sufjan Stevens). Albums 20 to 11 come today, with the top ten being revealed on Friday. Without further ado, here is the bottom ten.

Released on Secret City Records

20. Diamond RingsSpecial Affections

The first of several one-man bands in our 2010 list, Diamond Rings is the brainchild of John O’Regan of the D’Urbervilles. In his Diamond Rings persona, Johnny O discards the post-punk mentality of his primary band with a spunkier, glam-rock approach. Special Affections strikes a fine balance of new wave pop with darker moments, distinctly glam but without the corniness that dogged the genre in the ’80s. The catchy hooks are never lost behind the synth, driven by punchy and endearingly DIY GarageBand drum beats. All of this punctuated by O’Regan’s direct and personal lyrics, emoted with his surprisingly throaty voice. In the end, Diamond Rings’ debut sounds like a less punky Pete Shelley, or a less cheesy Gary Numan, and ultimately a more fun John O’Regan. — Sabrina Diemert

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— , December 20, 2010    1 Comment

It should be quite clear to anyone who has been following my mixtapes over the last year that I suffer dearly from SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder). While I’ve tried many a remedy, the only medication that seems to work is a carefully constructed playlist which bridges the transition from one season to the next. So what you’ll find in this installment of my seasonal mixtape series is a trip through the denial of the season’s change to a few songs that sound like the early Winter months, some that echo the deepest doldrums of January, and a few sweet tunes to welcome Spring along. Thank you for allowing me to spread my med-cin with you all once again.

Download | The Soul’s on Ice Mixtape

1. Jonathan Boulet – A Community Service Annoucement

Jonathan Boulet came onto my radar a few months ago when Kanye West took a break from blogging about uncomfortable but aesthetically immaculate lounge chairs and scantily clad video ho-fessionals, long enough to plug Boulet’s video for ‘A Community Service Announcement’. The video is justifiably sick, playing like a game of capture the flag gone horribly wrong, though I have no idea how it, or the song’s lyrics and title, relate. Boulet’s first album is making its rounds in Australia, and will likely see the light of day sometime up-over, this year.

2. Empire of the Sun – Without You

Staying in Australia, and propelling the denial of Winter along, is ‘Without You’, my favorite track from Empire of the Sun’s – now old – debut. Drawing comparisons to MGMT, Empire of the Sun have been everywhere as of late, showing up on Jay-Z’s Blueprint III last year and getting a shout-out on HBO’s Entourage as being Jamie-Lynn Siegler’s favorite band, which really begs the question “is Entourage the new ‘OC’?” in terms of it’s music referring power – and is Jamie-Lynn the new Marissa Cooper, in that leaving the show may find her as an actor out of work (via St. Vincent). Think about it.

3. Gorillaz – On Melancholy Hill

The ever-secretive and animated Gorillaz have a new album out this Spring, and this is my favourite track on it. The track is mellow synthpop that can be read as a commentary on over-consumption and materiality leading to doldrums, or simply as a jam that can be jived to no matter what you’re feeling. I prefer the latter. Dance now, deal later.

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— , March 30, 2010    10 Comments
Photograph by Bevis Martin and Charlie Youle

Photograph by Bevis Martin and Charlie Youle

Hot Chip are back, and they’re much the same as they’ve always been. The past year has found them covering both Vampire Weekend and Joy Division, so the time is ripe for some original material. One Life Stand was billed as a slightly more downtempo album after the exuberance of Made in the Dark, and while there are moments where the band experiments with some new styles, the title track finds them remaining within the confines of their familiar bouncy electro-dance rock. While I fully expected to fall instantly in love with this album as I have with their previous efforts, my reaction is far more conflicting than I expected.

There are several songs I absolutely love, first and foremost ‘Alley Cats’. Hot Chip first hooked me with their slower numbers, like ‘Boy from School’ and ‘Crap Kraft Dinner’, and ‘Alley Cats’ is just as moody, wistful, and wonderful as its predecessors. The New Order-esque ‘I Feel Better’ is another standout. You could argue any electro/rock/pop band today has been influenced by New Order and you’d probably be right, but the use of synthesizer on this track blended with more traditional Hot Chip elements works incredibly well. Joe Goddard takes lead vocals on ‘Take It In,’ where he poses somewhat tedious questions like what to do after watching Wheel of Fortune, contrasting with the soaring harmonies of the chores, making a great closing song.

On the other hand, One Life Stand gets bogged down by two tracks that jump out as being terrible. ‘Slush’ finds Alexis Taylor inexplicably setting a Jackie Gleason quote to music, though I think incorporating the phrase “Bang, zoom, straight to the Moon!” would’ve been a better tribute to the love of Ralph and Alice Kramden. Honeymooners references aside, the song causes the album to lose a ton of momentum, and along with the Euro-dance track ‘We Have Love’, feels rather out of place. Of course, two songs can’t break an album, and by all accounts One Life Stand is still pretty good, but Hot Chip have set the bar so high that it comes off as slightly disappointing.

Hot Chip – Alley Cats
Hot Chip – Take It In
Hot Chip – I Feel Better

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— , February 9, 2010    Comments Off on Hot Chip: One Life Stand

Dan Deacon

Hey y’all. It’s been a while since my last mixtape but I promise this one is wicked awesome to make up for the past few months. I’ve been busy with final exams and…graduating. So, if you’ve graduated, this is in dedication to you! And if not, it’s in dedication to you anyways! To summer and adventures! Let’s celebrate! In the words of ‘Ye: “Yes, barely pass any and every class, looking at every ass, cheated on every test. I guess this is my dissertation. Homie this shit is basic, so welcome to graduation! Get on down!”

DownloadWelcome to Graduation Mixtape

Pet Shop Boys

01 | Pet Shop Boys – Did You See Me Coming?

Despite the fact that Yes is Pet Shop Boys 10th studio album, they show no signs of slowing down powering out hits like this one. The entire album is great to listen to and ranks right up with their previous release Fundamental that gave synth pop a new face of minimalism. This track destroys the dance floors and will be Pet Shop Boys’ next single from Yes!

Röyksopp

02 | Röyksopp – The Girl and the Robot

Aaaah how we all love Puffball Mushroom (way to represent in costume Torbjørn)! Junior is an album that slightly moves away from the more downtempo ambient tendencies of Melody A.M. and the Understanding with songs like ‘Happy Up Here’, ‘Tricky Tricky’, ‘Vision One’, and this one, ‘The Girl and the Robot’. Watch the video for the latter below. It totally kicks ass and gets me excited for a potential Röyksopp tour…if the stage set up is anything like the one in the video, I will be so stoked! I love Robyn too, she knows how to shake it.

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— , May 25, 2009    3 Comments