Burial & Four Tet

Late last week, news emerged that the previously anonymous yet still reclusive dubstep producer Burial (recently discovered to be a low key Londoner by the name of Will Bevan) and eclectic electronic mastermind Four Tet (Kieran Hebden) would be releasing a split 12” on Hebden’s TEXT label called Moth / Wolf Cub. Very little information has been released on the project as of yet, but a copy of the full A-Side has been floating around online, along with a clip of the B-Side.

Burial & Four Tet – Moth
Burial & Four Tet – Wolf Cub (Preview)

Listening to ‘Moth’ and ‘Wolf Cub’, it becomes difficult to tell which one is the Burial track and which is the Four Tet track, or if, as I sincerely hope, the two producers are working together. The glitchy electronic melody found on ‘Moth’ automatically reminds me of Four Tet’s previous work, particularly on Everything Ecstatic, while the “girl next door” vocal samples and beat are unmistakably a contribution from Burial. This confusion is furthered on ‘Wolf Cub’, where a driving dubstep beat ripped from Burial’s self titled release is paired with digitally manipulated chimes that scream of Hebden’s recent work with Steve Reid. While I’m guessing that ‘Moth’ is a Burial track and ‘Wolf Cub’ is a Four Tet endeavor, I sincerely hope that the two are collaborating on the same tracks. If Burial and Four Tet have worked together on these tracks, this means that two of electronic music’s most original and engaging producers may have subsequent releases in the works, together. Get excited.

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— , May 5, 2009    5 Comments

The Burning Hell

It’s rare to find a band that surprises, excites, makes you think, gets you dancing, and causes unstoppable fits of laughter. The Burning Hell does all of these and then some. Lead singer/songwriter Mathias Kom may say that his band is dorky but I would have to disagree. The Burning Hell are the coolest kids around.

To try to describe the nature of The Burning Hell’s sound would be unjust. You will have to trust me and give them a listen. But to describe their intellectual and darkly humoristic lyrics, I hunted down Mathias Kom to ask him about his songwriting.

At the very outset Mathias made it clear to me was that his music has only three themes: death, things, and conferences. The first two of these shouldn’t come as a surprise; they are themes found in just about every artist’s music. But conferences? In truth, until relatively recently, Mathias taught history. As such, he is very interested in conferences (what historian wouldn’t be?); not only in how they produce important historical decisions, but more especially in the social anthropology occurring in the backrooms and behind the official text. Mathias told me that, “it is impossible for a conference to be anything but exciting and dynamic.” And he means it. If you ever have the pleasure of seeing them perform live you will question your life and wonder why you don’t attend more conferences. Here, about the Berlin Conference of 1884-85, from Baby released March 17, is ‘The Berlin Conference’.

The Burning Hell – The Berlin Conference

Mathias’ other major interest is death; talking about death, deconstructing it and proving that death is not necessarily an end. In our conversation he told me that he sees death as being a product of North American culture; that our obsession with health and fitness and living our lives stems more so from our fear of death than our embracing of life. Honestly, I find many of the Burning Hell’s songs on the subject pretty macabre, but to give you a taste here is ‘Dance, Dance, Dance’ from their album Tick Tock.

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— , April 13, 2009    3 Comments

The Rural Alberta Advantage

Paradoxically, amidst a particularly challenging recession, The Rural Alberta Advantage hasn’t faltered. Alas, economic musings of the aforementioned province may find a better place in The Globe and Mail as Paul Banwatt, Amy Cole, and Nils Edenloff only produce indie rock. Nils Edenloff, a scraggly, bearded, bright-eyed man, is responsible for the bands strained vocals that are giving Jeff Mangum a run for his money. As the only member with a distinct Albertan upbringing, Nils may appear enigmatic given that it is difficult to establish what spans a greater range – his vocals or the narrative of his hometown, Fort McMurray.

The now Toronto-based band released their debut album Hometowns in January, released being a misnomer as the album had no official method of distribution. Through word of mouth, Hometowns garnered an eMusic feature and the site offered the album as an online release – it has since ballooned to become the most successful eMusic Select album of all time. The Rural Alberta Advantage opened for Grizzly Bear at the South by Southwest Festival this year and will be touring the United States this summer; have I mentioned they are still unsigned?

The Rural Alberta Advantage has the ability to paint pictures of heartbreak in the northern prairies, the warmth of the Rocky Mountains, and capture the charm of a small mining town. It feels as if the band is capable of anything but insincerity. The trio combines playful rhythms that mirror their energetic, almost youthful naïveté with an earnest compassion. Their lively demeanour, layered rhythmic sections, and enchanting hometown tales aim for a welling heart and lead it to embrace the advantages of growing up in Alberta.

The charismatic Rural Alberta Advantage continues captivating fans and critics leaving us to question whether the Canadian prairies have produced the greatest thing since sliced bread. Nils Edenloff armed with a guitar and voice box alongside Amy Cole and Paul Banwatt bouncing back and forth on percussion march into battle, making believers of those lacking inspiration and speaking eloquently to childhood nostalgia. Some would even say they could take on a full-fledged recession.

The Rural Alberta Advantage – The Ballad of The RAA
The Rural Alberta Advantage – Don’t Haunt This Place
The Rural Alberta Advantage – Edmonton

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— , April 3, 2009    3 Comments

Amidst a plethora of rising international indie stars, infectious reverberating beats and the fantastic favorites, cached on my iPod is a continually growing selection of some softer down-to-earth tunes for all those times when I feel like mellowing down. The next best thing to a good book, a cup of tea and a cozy blanket, there are tons of Canadian folk artists out there that satisfy my needs when I need to take a step away from living life in the fast(er) lane.

What’s great about folk music is the complete lack of pretensions. Often, folk artists are very ‘what you see is what you get,’ whether in their songs, playing shows or face to face. That said, there is one folk artist in particular I would like to introduce everyone to; one of these artists whom, to know their music, is to know them.

Present: Craig Cardiff. It’s not often that one gets the pleasure of meeting someone as genuine, open and honest as Ontario native folk-singer Craig Cardiff. I met Craig for the first time outside of Kingston’s Grad Club on a warm spring evening about a year ago, gearing up to play an intimate show as part of a fundraiser. I can still remember how, relaxed as anything and with pint in hand, he told me about spending the day with his then two-year-old daughter picking up dog droppings from the yard. He said she would trudge around in her rubber boots, stop, point and say “poooo.” He said “pooo” too, in the same pure high-pitched childlike voice.

The way that Craig relates to his listeners, preferring to play intimate living-room shows or in prison cafeterias than to a packed pub, is the same way he writes his music; he holds absolutely nothing back. His music is simple, beautifully melodic and honest. As I’ve heard it described, it can bring you to tears on one song and have you smiling ear-to-ear on the very next.

Craig’s latest album Easter Eggs is a selection of live recordings from his tours through Canada and the States. True to form, the album includes bits of stage banter such as in ‘Circus’ where he tells hilarious stories of (his?) teenage shenanigans and various covers including Dan Bern’s ‘God Said No’. Armed with little more than his guitar, harmonica and loop peddles, Craig brings the atmosphere of his intimate live shows to your headphones. The album does not, however, include beer. Other tracks of particular note include: ‘Grandma’, which I definitely need to listen to with my Grandma, ‘Year of Funerals’, which isn’t actually as sad as it sounds like it would be and ‘Dancing Like Pierre’ which reminds me of impromptu kitchen dance parties.

Craig Cardiff – Dance Me Outside
Craig Cardiff – God Said No

However, as much as I enjoy Easter Eggs I personally prefer (or maybe I’m more used to?) Craig’s latest studio-recorded album Goodnight (Go Home) released in 2007. Goodnight is a very intimate album that brings fuller depth and musical complexity to already phenomenal and heartfelt lyrics.

Craig Cardiff – When People Go

He’s just finished his Canadian tour but if you’re in the need for some down-to-earth chillin’ time, I’m willing to bet you’ll be able to catch one of his shows in your area before too long.

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— , March 30, 2009    5 Comments

interpol1

The ever elusive Interpol have broken their silence to give an update on the recording of their forthcoming fourth album. Word is the songs sound ‘vital,’ and the band looks forward to unleashing it upon the masses to let it ‘swagger and breathe.’

kidding aside, there are few bands I follow with an almost obsessive fervor. Interpol is one of those bands. Never the most prolific band, any sign of new material leaves me terribly excited. I remember the lead up to Antics, scouring the web for any trace of the new stuff, eventually seeing them perform Evil, Slow Hands, and Narc at Curiosa. Direction, the oft-forgotten B-side contributed to a Six Feet Under compilation disc, held me over between albums two and three. In the YouTube age, finding Our Love to Admire material was considerably easier, and hearing Pioneer to the Falls from a poor quality live recording didn’t prepare me for hearing the real thing in person.

As you can imagine, I am rather into Interpol, and through my powers of irrational speculation, I’m going to guess we’ll see a new album by fall of this year, as a similar cryptic message was delivered in the months preceding OLTA’s release. In the mean time, I’ll leave you with some of my favourites.

Interpol – Leif Erikson
Interpol – Public Pervert
Interpol – Rest My Chemistry

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— , March 10, 2009    5 Comments