Download Bravestation’s new song “Signs of the Civilized”

Bravestation signs of the civilized

Bravestation’s back! After stowing away for half a year, the Toronto band who I feel like describing today as mystical wave rock have put forth their first new offering, “Signs of the Civilized,” from their upcoming album.

“Signs of the Civilized” is airy and promising. It flutters and flaps its wings like a baby bird getting ready for its first take-off while under the tree it sits in, there are fish in a stream swimming down their yearly route as the ground seems to thaw. Bravestation’s rejuvenated, bringing the spring closer to us than global warming already has (and for that I’m thankful, to be honest).

Take a listen to the calm confidence. You can download the track in exchange for your email address.

Album Review: Hooded Fang – Tosta Mista

hooded fang tosta mista

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Tosta Mista is the album of my summer 2011. And not only is it summery in a breezy, surf rock, fun, light-hearted party kind of way, or even the I feel like I’m on vacation with the Brady Bunch way, but it also dons the air of the ’50s, a time of nostalgia, polka dotted dresses, bowties, pumps and lots and lots of dancing. Sounds good, right? Right.

So Tosta Mista is clearly a grand old time, we will boogie oogie oogie like the best of ‘em when it marathons itself through every rotation. But one of the most notable qualities of the album is the change in this Toronto band’s sound. (Perhaps this has something to do with the main songwriters also having a surf rock sideproject, Tonka Puma.) Since last year’s cleverly titled Album, they’ve sped up, grown up and got down to business. Album was long-listed for this year’s Polaris Prize, but frankly, as much as I loved that album too, I wish it was this one that got the nomination. Listening to Tosta Mista blows Album right out of my mind. It’s sharper, wittier, faster, more refined and more aware of itself. The lyrics are snarky and memorable, filling songs with stories of love and hate and phrases like “legs like stems” and “gypsy gnome.” They’re thoughtful and point blank, something you can appreciate out of a song and write down as a note for later.

Tosta Mista is only 22 minutes long. And that includes three tracks of the same running trance interlude 30 seconds-long or less. So the album as a whole starts to feel like it’s racing itself to the clock towards the end until it’s broken up by one of the interludes or even the swoon and croon melody of  “Den of Love.” The start of the album is the strongest, with “Clap,” “ESP,” “Brahma” and “Tosta Mista” all proving themselves as groovy gems. “ESP” is the best out of those, with “Tosta Mista” a close second.

Overall, Tosta Mista is a great album, showing significant growth and achievement for this band who just a year ago were still trying to rev themselves up in the local scene. I think we can say now they’re abandoning the “cute” moniker they were given with Album (I am guilty of saying such as well, but I was honest and still back that) and I assume that was a big goal of theirs. I also can honestly say I hope this boosts their live performance, as it hasn’t been their strongest suit when I’ve seen them in the past, but I think a cleaner sound could mean a cleaner set, easier to play through. I’m intrigued to see them again. I just hope that when I do see them play Tosta Mista they’re donned in ’50s garb.

Hooded Fang play as part of SummerWorks festival with Steven McKay on August 5. Let’s all dress up and get ready to tap that jukebox.

Tosta Mista came out this week, but you can hear the party for yourself, the band is streaming the album on their Bandcamp page.

Watch Nightbox’s new video for “Pyramid”

Nightbox

The lads of Nightbox premiered their official music video for “Pyramid” via this week’s episode of The Wedge on Much Music. Now we have it via YouTube. Just in time for the weekend, as this is that cute dancey party track you’ve been waiting for. Watch the five-piece revel in colour and imagination at an old, abandoned house and in a field (it looks cooler than how I’ve described, honestly).

Pyramid can be heard on the band’s debut EP and as a single, downloaded for free.

The band will open for the Radio Dept at the Horseshoe on Sunday.

Watch Austra’s new video for “Lose It”

austra

I’ve been listening to the new Austra album Feel it Break a lot lately (out May 17 via Domino/Paper Bag). I find it very hard to turn off somewhere before it actually ends. I’ve even sat and waited through it because it’s so good I don’t want to let it go. The band’s Toronto CD release is May 19 at Lee’s Palace, and tickets should still be on sale. Gotta say, Feel it Break seems to only be on the cusp of breaking out still, and it will, so keep a lookout. Here’s hoping that it makes its way onto the upcoming Polaris Prize long list.

Before your eyes scan down to the wacky new video for their second single, “Lose It,” here’s an article I have with lead singer Katie Stelmanis on queer identity in indie music and her love of Beth Ditto on Spinner. I was really glad I could write this, and there’s more on the band coming soon from me, I believe.

Download new songs by Sam Roberts and Liz Powell, Elliott Brood and Racoon Bandit

It’s a pretty blah week, Canada. I don’t have to reiterate all the reasons though, so instead I’ll just give you three glorious new songs to perk up your spirits.

sam roberts band

Off the soon-to-be-released Sam Roberts Band album Collider, here’s “Longitude,” a duet with Land of Talk’s Liz Powell. This is a much better track than the other two I’ve heard off Collider so far, which is both a good and bad sign. Liz’s voice is much lighter than her own work here, and there are nice, dreamy moments when her and Sam’s voices come together. The song also just seems to go back to older Sam Roberts Band sounds rather than whatever they’re trying to do with this new album (and what they did on the previous one). But anyways, what a great mash-up of Canadianness this song is.

mp3 download: “Longitude” — Sam Roberts Band ft. Liz Powell

elliott brood

Elliott Brood have announced that they will be releasing an album later this year, and I am pretty freaking excited. If it’s anything like this first single “Northern Air,” we’ve got nothing to worry about. It’s been since 2008 that we’ve had something new from these guys, it’s about damn time! “Northern Air” is a beautiful five minutes, lead by Casey Laforet rather than Mark Sasso, who sang on most of Mountain Meadows. Honestly, I like Casey’s voice better, so that might be why I respond to this song more strongly. He’s just got this rolling calmness to him, and paired with the banjo, harmonica and the one-twos of the piano and bass, it’s goodness.

mp3 download: “Northern Air” — Elliott Brood

racoon bandit

I’ve recently been introduced to Charlottetown band Racoon Bandit (seriously though, why the typo in the name, band?). I’m only a couple listens in to Into the Hills so far, but I really dig it. It’s got a lot of heart, and this is evident through “Silver Bullet,” a song at a run’s pace that might call upon your memory of Arcade Fire or Plants and Animals. “Silver Bullet” just has this escapist passion to it, like it’s trying to get out, they want to get out, you want to get out, anything, and it sweeps you into wherever it’s going.

mp3 download: “Silver Bullet” — Racoon Bandit (password is Bandit)

Download Youth and Teen Daze remixes of Bravestation’s “White Wolves”

bravestation white wolves

Bravestation‘s on a roll! They announced their “White Wolves” video and UK tour last week (check it) and now we have bumpin’ remixes of the track.

I particularly love the Youth one, which has expanded “White Wolves” into something really danceable. It cut up Devin Wilson’s vocals into ghostly grooves and added more beats, electro swirls and toy-piano like highlights. It’s already been on repeat for me today.

Download here.

And download the Teen Daze remix here, which is a slower and dreamier interpretation.

Three sides to the “White Wolves” tale, not bad, not bad at all.

Download My Morning Jacket’s new single, “Circuital”

my morning jacket circuital

Well it’s been a nice morning already! My Morning Jacket have been sending live recorded tracks in e-letters for the last few weeks as a countdown to their new album Circuital, and today we finally get to hear the title song. Our first peek at the album. It’s seven minutes long and at a moderate tempo, with Jim James bringing back his signature high croon. Oh I’ve missed this voice. Even though now I can’t resist thinking about the American Dad episode when I hear the music (great). “Circuital” is more Americana and much lighter in sound than their most recent works. At times I feel it’s a bit safe, but it’s a pleasant song that I’ll be listening to once in a while nonetheless. I think I’ll always like the MMJ with a sharper edge (even with the peanut butter pudding surprise…), but they have a lot of layers that I like to explore. Circuital will be out May 31. The song will be a Record Store Day exclusive too. The band will make a triumphant return to Toronto’s Kool Haus on July 11 and you better believe I will be there rocking out with my dad (hi dad!).

Download the song, read Jim James’ awesome explanation, hear those live tracks & more on NPR.

What do you think?

Watch Bravestation’s new music video for “White Wolves”

bravestation white wolves

Here’s another Toronto band that I am very proud of. I’ve watched these guys blossom in the last year, from sitting down with them to do a RoundLetters exclusive Q&A, reviewing their 2010 EP for Exclaim, seeing them play numerous times and getting to know them and their style. I see them going up from here. They’re currently locked away most of the time working on their upcoming album and preparing for their UK tour in a few weeks. Like I’ve said before, they don’t know it yet, but I’ll be in a suitcase! Shh.

As far as I remember, the video for “White Wolves” off the EP was filmed in the fall, but we’re finally getting to see it now. It’s a really pretty piece, following a woman who looks like she’s been through a few tumbles as she runs through the woods to and from something. It gives a new urgency to the song, letting the shakiness take on a new thrilling meaning.

Watch the video below:

Download the entire 2010 EP here.

Listen to J.J. Ipsen and the Paper Crowns’s new single, “Da Da Da”

jj ipsen and paper crowns

Today, Toronto is rainy. It is gross, grey and saddening as our sky has been the bluest of blue for the last week or so. Typical weather, but it’s always a bit of a let down.

But then you hear a song like “Da Da Da.” It’s simple folk-pop and it’s just what you need for a few minutes of brightness. It has whistling, a happy piano and the entire band chiming in on the chorus of ‘da da da.’

JJ Ipsen and the Paper Crowns of Guelph will release their debut album Entertainment Ordinaire on April 26 via Label Fantastic!.

mp3 download/stream: J.J. Ipsen and the Paper Crowns –  “Da Da Da”

Download: Teen Daze remixes Said the Whale’s “Holly, Ontario”

I never thought I’d hear gentle Vancouver rockers Said the Whale remixed, but fellow BC buzz man Teen Daze went and did it.

Released this morning, the remix of “Holly, Ontario” revolves on quite a tiny axis, so it’s miles different from its original ( slow, acoustic). I wonder why they went with this song of all songs.

Either way, it’s pretty. So give ‘er a download.

PS – Teen Daze just released a free EP of reworked parts of Geotic’s Mend.

EDIT: My pals Kirk and Bryan have pointed me towards the “Gentleman” remix/mashup of 2009, with clips of Holy Fuck, Shad, MGMT and more. I guess I’m a bit behind the times, folks.