Sometimes, there’s too much good music. Mixtapes are a chance to pick and choose from the spectrum of too muchness and bring friends and readers some of the best of what I’ve heard recently. But sometimes there’s still too much, which is why I decided to split this mix into 2 parts, or ‘sides’, if you will. Part 1 is California Sunrise, because as you’ll learn quickly in the captions below, California has inadvertently become a major theme in my listening choices as of late. Like past mixes, this one’s heavily influenced by how I feel with the on-set of my favourite time of year, and is an effort to share a soundtrack perfect for your sun-kissed days and sweaty nights. Stay tuned for part 2 next week.

Download | California Sunrise Mixtape

Blackbird Blackbird – Sunspray

As promised, this mix comes chock-full of Californian inspiration. ‘Sunspray’ starts the trend, with band Blackbird Blackbird hailing from San Francisco. Since March of last year, they’ve steadily released a series of EPs leading to this March’s Summer Heart full-length. My favourite track by the band comes from their second EP Let’s Move on Together. The unintelligibly faint vocals layered overtop synths create a delicate yet danceable tune, seemingly made for an intimate slow dance in a sea of raging fast-dancers.

Continue Reading ‘California Sunrise’ Mixtape »

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

— , July 11, 2011    3 Comments

Photograph by Annabel Mehran

The year 2009 will be remembered for many things, including the divorce of Jon and Kate Gosselin, Tiger Woods’ infidelity, and of course, the introduction of Keyboard Cat. But aside from those momentous events, some decent music was released. As the year draws to a close, we here at Ca Va Cool continue our list-making ways to bring you our favourite albums of 2009. Through an intense, scientific process, we have distilled the vast amount of quality releases into an essential brew of twenty such albums. Old favourites share space with relative newcomers in the first half of our list.

Sunset Rubdown

20. Sunset RubdownDragonslayer (Jagjaguwar)

Spencer Krug has solidified his position as wizard of the indie world with the release of Dragonslayer. Conjuring up mythical beasts and inspiring a belief in whimsical folklore, all while contorting vocals entangled with punchy keyboards. Dragonslayer is Sunset Rubdown’s white rabbit in the top hat. The witty experimentation paired with outstanding hooks forms an album that is both accessible and multifarious. Dragonslayer compiles an unparalleled consistency as the eight tracks serve as standalone sensations while weaving an outlandish fairytale. The record has the capacity to immerse listeners and encourage exploration. Sunset Rubdown uncovers a new adventure with each thumping refrain of ‘Idiot Heart’ or the possessed chanting of ‘You Go on Ahead (Trumpet Trumpet II)’. The quintet’s unpolished finish on the album prides itself on the kinks in their armour and much like a good fairytale, each scrape, bruise, and bump has its own merit when fighting dragons. — Jan Kucic-Riker

Continue Reading ‘Best Albums of 2009’ Feature List »

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

— , December 21, 2009    Comments Off on Best Albums of 2009, Pt. 1
Photograph by Karen McBride

Photograph by Karen McBride

Back in July, as I perused the Mememachine, I came across a cover of the insanely infectious ‘Sleepyhead’ by Passion Pit. I was interested to see how the song could possibly be covered with its fat layered synths, Irish harp samples, and window-breaking falsettos. It certainly was not the typical candidate for a remix, let alone a cover. To my sweet surprise, a band I had never heard of had breathed new-gentle life into the track through its lead singer’s delicate, trained vocals and the use of xylophones, a cittern, a violin, and what looked like an old as nails Casio MT45. The band turned out to be Run Toto Run, an up and coming trio from the burgeoning music scene of Manchester, and the song turned out to be one of my favorites of the Summer.

A few weeks later at Lollapalooza, I realized the true magic of the song. As the exhausted, red bull-fueled youth gang that I attended the festival with sat in our hotel room in the wee hours of the night on Day 2, I played Run Toto Run’s cover of the festival’s anthem. By the track’s end, we were all fast asleep with silly smiles on our faces. I realized that unlike the original, Run Toto Run’s cover had the ability to evoke the mood of the song’s title. The cover became the soundtrack to my last waking minutes of each day for a good month and I soon discovered the Plastic Gold EP, a breezy 5 track debut fusing together the instrumentation found on the cover with gentle electronic beats of the Postal Service variety.

I corresponded with lead vocalist Rachael Kichenside to ask about the influence of fairytales on the band’s music, Manchester’s evolving music scene, and what’s to come for the band.

Run Toto Run – Catch My Breath
Run Toto Run – Plastic Gold
Run Toto Run – Good Coat

Sal: First off, who are Run Toto Run and how did you come together?

Rachael Kichenside: Run Toto Run are Rachael Kichenside, Matt Farthing and Mike Kelly. We had a fourth member Cazz until a few weeks ago, but sadly she couldn’t keep up with all we were doing so we’re down to three again. We were all playing in various bands around Manchester and recognized similar sensibilities in each other, so over time we got together and started our own band.

Sal: Toto, the rambunctious Terrier canine from the stories of Oz was one of my favourite characters because he had the ability to speak, but simply chose not to – a playful observer and thinker. How would you say the character of Toto relates to the band’s musical aesthetic?

Rachael: It wasn’t so much the specific character, it was the idea of relating to something whimsical and a bit magical. It was also a bit of a playful thing. We try not to take ourselves too seriously.

Continue Reading ‘Run Toto Run’ Interview »

Tags: ,

— , September 24, 2009    Comments Off on Run Toto Run

Passion Pit

In the fall of 2007 Brooklyn-natives were privy to the exciting new synth-filled sounds of the duo now known as MGMT. The Management, as they were then known, were so unabashedly open about their hipsterness that they quickly began to fill the void that the Steve Aokis and Ed Bangers were losing ability to (because of their newly found mass appeal).  MGMT found its way into obscurest playlists, 2007 year-end lists, every festival on the face of the planet and lemon-flavored-soda commercials, all within months. By the time their debut album Oracular Spectacular actually came out in 2008, it was already being given the “2000 and late” seal by hip youth-gangs who were “into them last year”.

In early 2008 word started spreading like wildfire that the year’s best album had already arrived in Vampire Weekend’s self-titled debut. Music blogs, including our very own, all lit up with excitement about the fresh afro-boho-indie-pop-rock from 4 kids pretentious enough to make any prep-schooler feel like they went to Boston Public and kicked it with the hard knocks – it was just so smashingly original. The tremendous hype was followed quite closely by a backlash strong enough to make it fetch, much like in MGMT’s case, to dislike VW before their album actually came out just weeks later. As this backlash was given time to marinate in music consumers’ minds for months, it was now only socially acceptable to like Vampire Weekend as a guilty pleasure – like these guys were a post-sex tape R. Kelly or something – which resulted in an otherwise great album being left off many year-end best lists, ours notwithstanding.

This brings me to our latest potential victims. Since sometime last Fall, the blogosphere has been atweet about Passion Pit, mostly because of the infectious single ‘Sleepyhead’ off their debut, dorm room-recorded EP, Chunk of Change. Originally recorded by Michael Angelakos as a Valentine’s Day gift for his girlfriend, the disc made its way around the Emerson College campus pretty quickly. Soon enough, Passion Pit had landed a record deal at Frenchkiss, a spot in several “bands to watch” lists in respected publications, and a track feature on a MTV show soundtrack and in an electronics commercial. Since then, they’ve readied their full-length debut, Manners.

Passion Pit – Eyes As Candles
Passion Pit – Little Secrets
Passion Pit – Moth’s Wings

Continue reading ‘Manners’ review >

Tags: , ,

— , June 3, 2009    13 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

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

— , December 24, 2008    4 Comments