Sit down, listen to this: The Albertans

The Albertans

Last Tuesday, I gave you a dance party. Today, I give you something to sit down with and really listen. I’m being a bit selfish, as I can’t really dance because I recently broke my pinky toe and doing such an activity is sadly painful. So I’m making you sit with me. Got that? Good! Anyways, I’ve found the perfect song for sitting and daydreaming this week, so it works out.

The Albertans – “The Wake”

This is one of those songs I’ve been waiting for, and oh it fills me with warmth to just type that. It’s got a groovy bass, fluttering + fuzzy guitars, dreamy vocals, a keyboard pattern that suggests it might be up to no good and simple drumming highlighted by a tambourine. I still can’t completely wrap my head around this goodness. It flows splendidly and has so many layers to unwrap, lyrically and musically. It leaves me with intrigue after every time I’ve listened, I feel like I’m searching for some puzzle piece. They sing of suicide and pressure, so when it all comes together, it’s like you can hear the song’s character(s) opening their eyes.

The band was formed in Vancouver out of members from our prairies and the U.S., but they headed to New York. Now I guess they split their time between the two metropolises. The album that holds this gem of a song, New Age, was recorded in Brooklyn, at Chandelier Studios, and now we have a Canadian tie to the borough’s distinct energy haze.

Just listen for yourself, and join me in my excitement in looking forward to their album. They remind me of Breathe Owl Breathe and Dirty Projectors (a little). There’s also some New Pornographers and Mother Mother similarities in there in terms of the team vocals, but I feel more of a connection to the Albertans than I do with those two bands at this point.

Watch music videos set to old films for “The Wake” & “Megan” & “New Age” and then there’s one of them playing “Mila.”

New Age comes out in Canada on April 19.


Impromptu Tuesday Dance Party featuring First Rate People, Nightbox, Austra and Kidstreet

I think I can finally say I’m almost all healed after Canadian Music Week. So that means, inevitably, that I want to dance to shake the rest off and get back in high spirits. Here are a few tracks that I’ve been playing a lot lately, I think they’ll significantly up your day, week, hour, whatever. Play em in order and you’re in for some crazy fun.

First Rate People funny games

First Rate People – “Funny Games”

I’ve posted on this before and I’ll probably post on it again. It is just so groovy. With mid-tempo beats but slow and sexy vocals, it provides this mix that works up to a pressure point that you can’t wait to explore. I can turn on the bright lights and turn them back off just to prove that I’m still in your life is such a great chorus line. It has this sombre structure, and ends kind of with a hanging heart, but if you’re going to sing about sadness in these times, sometimes it’s just better to do it with some (white kids – who can do it great) danceable soul.

Nightbox bears

Nightbox – “Bears”

*Stream only, although you can download their even crazier single, “Pyramid,” here.

I could have ignored this song for longer in my haze, but when I saw these guys play it live on Friday, I was hooked. It’s been on repeat ever since. It’s young, fresh and the chorus’ synths are so addicting. This song makes me do really embarrassing dance moves in my room, but you know what, it’s too much fun. At least I have the memory of how these guys danced to it when playing it (mostly computer/synth wiz James Shelly going nuts), which is much better than what I can do gracefully.

austra lose it

Austra – “Lose It”

This is definitely a different kind of dance party than the previous two tracks, but it’s something I wanted to make a note of anyway. “Lose It” embroiders Katie Stelmanis’ opera background with a chorus of extremely high staccato notes, and just in those moments paired with glittery synths that feel so black and white, it’s a solo dance party that will leave you swaying with your head feeling like it’s in the clouds. It’s also of note to say that Austra made a huge splash at CMW and likely will at SXSW. Feel it Break is out in May, and I can’t wait to see it blow up, then people in Toronto talk about how they knew her before it blew up. And on that note, I had a great interview with Katie the other day… 😉

Kidstreet x

Kidstreet – “X”

Alright, this is a seriously catchy song. It’s pretty simple in terms of it has a fast club pattern, breakdown with whistles, distorted vocals and singing about sexual attraction. In that way, it’s clearly an awesome dance party song. They even perform it with a lot of energy, enjoyment and wit (as I witnessed at CMW on Saturday). It’s the fact that it’s a band of three siblings singing about wanting someone so bad that usually distracts me, but I try and get past it. I don’t think I’d ever be in a band with my brother singing about something like that, but hey, that’s just my opinion. Thinking about it though, I can see this song going really far, it’s got all the ingredients. Could so see a video with a couple on a dance floor coming together in sweet moves (DANCE moves) to the ‘I want you so bad’ part. Get on it, Kidstreet!

Exclusive Q&A: Bravestation

Bravestation’s release party for the 2010 EP is tonight at the El Mocambo as part of Two Way Monologues. Opening will be Retro Radio, Old World Vulture and Lovely Killbots. The Facebook invite has more details.

You can stream the 2010 EP in its entirety on Bravestation’s MySpace.

Sometimes when you hear music, you know automatically that you like it. Other times it takes a while to grow on you. Bravestation’s 2010 EP was the former for me. As soon as I started listening to them after receiving an email from the guitarist, Derek Wilson, I was hooked. I’m not sure what compelled me to be more interested in them than anyone else I get emails from (I’m getting to it, patience!), but the fact is it did and I’m glad. Plus, it just so happens that their main influences are some of my favourite artists, such as Foals. You can hear that almost immediately as well – but not in a copycat sort of way (*cough, Fleet Foxes, you are not My Morning Jacket, cough*), more like a really appreciative “this is what I’ve learned” kind of way.

It’s in Wilson’s guitars and Jeremy Rossetti’s drums, mainly, as they quickly flutter up and down (listen to “Colour Us with Youth”). The five song-long EP is an outstanding piece of work. Devin Wilson, the vocalist (and brother to Derek) has an interesting voice and is able to keep up with the quick jolts with his smooth melodies. Andrew Heppner’s synths and keyboards seem to be pretty influenced by the ‘80s, in fact I kind of felt like I was in the old Degrassi episodes for a bit (in a cool way, you know) but they evolve and flow in and out of the rest of the music. In these five songs, it’s hard not to want more from this relatively new Toronto band.

Usually new band EPs don’t sound this good, but these guys have all gone to recording school together. In fact, Bravestation started out as a school project. But as they become more dedicated to this as their collective passion, the value goes up. The 2010 EP is an impressive collection of dream-like reality under bright lights and darkness. As is swirls around you, try to stay stationary, but letting go every once in a while can always be beneficial. Bravestation provide a cool, refreshing sound for Toronto and because of it, they’re destined for great things.

Read on for Bravestation’s exclusive Q&A with RoundLetters on how they got started as a project, their live show struggles, the EP writing process and upcoming goals.

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Exclusive RoundLetters Q&A: Charlotte Cornfield

Catch the Charlotte Cornfield Band play tonight at the Cameron House at 9:30 for $7. Opening will be Bent by Elephants. (Read an interview and review of Bent by Elephants.)

My oh my, Charlotte Cornfield’s Collage Light EP is one of the best recorded pieces of work that I’ve heard in a while. So you’d understand my dismay to find out that it’s been around since 2009, thus a) you, I and everyone else who is only just catching on need a bit of a smack and b) this means it can’t be on my Top 2010 list. But, ah, let’s just think of the positives today.

Cornfield, the 21-year-old singer-songwriter based in Montreal, has made a wonderful EP about failed romance and independence. The seven songs are a perfect balance of dark and light, slow and fast, solo and collaborative. She’s got a bit of that descriptive Canadian rock twang, I think of Sam Roberts at points, and her voice is not like anyone else’s. (It makes me proud to know that Canada produces such amazing female voices.) Cornfield has a full backing band on this album, and she also brings them on tour. Together they are the Charlotte Cornfield Band. Cornfield also plays drums in one of my favourite bands, Bent by Elephants, in which you can see her move with the percussion, letting her lankiness benefit and roll out of her in the beats, a very catching sight. Besides that, she drums in the all female jazz quartet, Takk, which will play in Toronto next week, July 22, at the Trane Studio. It’s safe to say that this lady is impressive.

Collage Light, her second EP, details a romance or two very openly. The descriptions are poetic with just a hint of mystery and a lot of heartbreak. Though exposing her vulnerability, her confidence shines through in the way she performs. Her voice is completely aligned with her guitar, so much so that she considers them one instrument. She can push her voice into high and low places, or lengthen or quicken syllables however she pleases. Her songs are in simple structures, but it’s more so what she’s saying (she really has established herself as great lyricist) and how the band produces the surrounding sound.

Read on to find out how she manages everything, what’s coming up (perhaps a duo team with friend Leif Vollebekk), her upcoming album, and so much more.

Here is the exclusive RoundLetters interview with Charlotte Cornfield.

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