Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaur’s new single, “Trouble”

Opening with long drawn-out sounds of horn followed by a simple, mellow, and steady beat, is the opening to UK’s finest (Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaur’s) new single “Trouble.”  Followed with a smooth sounding voice of TEED’s natural hymns, he serenades about the trouble of infatuation. In the midst of the story lies light retro-infused beats with serious echoes and harmonization.

If this track doesn’t make you move and motivate you to sing along, I don’t know what would. His voice is not only contagious, but his easy-going sound is a breath of fresh air from many other strikingly heavy-bass electronic artists.  TEED has exploded within the blogosphere and it’s obvious why.  He has paved the way for a new refreshing sound of dance music and I’m anxious to hear what is next single has in stores for us.

If you want a spin on the song, check out the other remixes of “Trouble” from artists, Lapalux, Jamie Jones, and Chad Valley.

Big Troubles – Romantic Comedy review

What will Big Troubles sound like five years from now? Ten years? Fifteen? With bands that have logged decades in the business it’s easy now for all involved to look back and understand how each one came about in the context of a particular era in music, how each influenced, and was influenced by, its contemporaries, and how each cultivated its own identity across time and genres.

Big Troubles have committed two years so far. A drop in the bucket, though an eventful drop, to be certain. New Jersey natives Alex Craig and Ian Drennan began recording music on their own in their bedrooms, added two more members and cut a debut album, Worry, late last year and a second album last month.

Genre-wise, Big Troubles are pop-rock. And yet it possesses that rare ability to draw out the best aspects of the musical movements that preceded it. The result is something unlike the current commercial pop music. It shows a deeper appreciation of music.
Stylistically, the new album, Romantic Comedy, doesn’t differ from Worry. Both albums owe a great deal to 80s synth-pop, grunge and post-grunge alt-rock and ambient and chill-out music. Craig and Drennan trade vocalist duties and sing with a breathy, far-away tone that could have been employed, at one time or another, by acts as diverse as The Cure, The Gandharvas, Smashing Pumpkins, Beck or Nada Surf.

Technically, Romantic Comedy is head and shoulders above Worry. Due to the limitations of available equipment, the vocals on the first album are all but lost amidst the swirl of fuzzy guitars, keyboards and pre-programmed drum beats. Romantic Comedy’s higher production value allows Craig and Drennan’s starry-eyed, yet well-written lyrics to stand out against the echoy, uptempo compositions.

The album is a lot of fun and comes across as the soundtrack to a summer romance or road trip while still channeling the young-adult emotional turmoil brought about by facing an increasingly uncertain future.

So what will Big Troubles sound like years from now? One hopes the band continues to develop its sound and identity by incorporating the best parts of future musical styles, whatever they may be.

Elliott Brood – Days Into Years review

From the opening chords of Days Into Years, the third full-length album from Toronto-based folk-rock outfit Elliott Brood, you feel like you’ve been listening to it forever. And I was able to listen to it repeatedly for days without feeling like it was “played out”. This isn’t to say that the album is a classic that will never get old. Rather, it’s so easy on the ears that it blends into the background and becomes a sort of white noise. I found myself irritated not by the sound of of the band, but by the fact that I tuned out almost immediately.

It would seem that Elliott Brood are something of a national treasure in training. At least on paper. They are a CBC Radio favourite and they played at the Olympic Village for the 2010 Winter Olympics in British Columbia. Their debut album, Ambassador, was nominated for a Juno in 2006 and they won the Galaxie Rising Star Award that year for Best New Artist. Another Juno nomination came in 2009 for their sophomore effort, Mountain Meadows, which was also shortlisted for the coveted Polaris Prize.

I wanted so much to love this album, the idea of which was so endearing. As the story goes, Elliott Brood were on their first European tour in 2007, when they happened upon a cemetery in France for Canadian soldiers who had died in battle during the First World War. Profoundly touched, the band vowed to make an album drawing from the experience and honouring fallen soldiers. Now how can you not want to get behind that??

Unfortunately, Days Into Years is nothing to write home about. Within its genre, it fits in but fails to stand out. The standout track, “Northern Air”, feels like a weekend trip to the cottage in a beat-up Volkswagen with your best friends. A long weekend. An honourable mention goes to “If I Get Old”, about a soldier’s sweet dream of living the simple life.

Lonely Dear – Hall Music review

Abba. H&M. Peter, Bjorn and Ikea. Sweden just won’t quit. Nor will Emil Svanangen. Also Swedish. Svanangen left behind a career as a pro-cyclist to make music, reincarnating himself as Loney Dear in the early 2000s. Apparently, Loney Dear hasn’t heard of writer’s block. Between 2003 and 2006, the singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist would self-release four albums; The Year of River Fontana, Citadel Band, Loney Noir and Sologne. So began the underground buzz that caught the attention of Sub Pop in 2006, and with the re-release of Loney Noir in 2007, the blogosphere lit up and Loney Dear got his big break stateside.

He has since moved on to decidedly lower-key Polyvinyl Records, on which 2009’s Dear John was released and most recently, Hall Music.

The first thing you need to know about Hall Music is that Loney Dear has been feeling emotional. He’s going to talk about his feelings, which may tug at your heartstrings. It’s going to sound sweet and pretty and hopeful and sad. He invites comparisons to Bon Iver, with heartfelt songs that sound like they were written by someone that needed to be alone for awhile but ultimately longs for companionship. They are also best taken in on a Sunday afternoon when you want to be alone for awhile and have the chance to be.

It is not to take away from his lyrical aptitude, nor his vocal prowess, to suggest that Loney Dear is most invested in the instrumentation of his work. You may not notice it at first, but a number of his songs hold but a couple of phrases, yet when repeated and reinterpreted throughout they gain momentum and stay with you. His use of percussion is especially innovative and there is an orchestral quality to his work that continually surprises.

The opening track ‘Name’ is one of the best, capturing what it’s like to first fall for someone, with a desire pure and simple, uncomplicated by what is yet to come. It serves as an ideal introduction to an album that further delves into the complexities of a relationship as it unfolds. ‘Maria, Is That You’ stands out as the most memorable track, where Loney Dear’s many talents effortlessly collide into something majestic yet understated. Keep listening.

Atlas Sound – Parallax review

Atlas Sound, the acclaimed solo project of outrageously prolific Bradford Cox, has been causing a clamor of eargasms recently with snippets of his highly anticipated new album, Parallax.   For those afraid it won’t live up to the hype, rest assured; Cox makes being sad beautiful.

This is the album where Cox appears to be at his most intimate. On the aptly titled “Doldrums”, Cox sings “there is a story no one likes to tell, it is the story of a little boy who went to hell,” and on “Parallax”, he sings “give me love, give me promises, never go away.” There’s definitely a darker lacquer coating this album. While Cox was never the most jovial of singers, Parallax is perhaps the first album where you can see the doorway that leads to his heart.

While most of the songs are lethargic and beautiful, there is enough swagger here for it to not be pigeonholed. Time and again Cox has proven he has a deep appreciation for different avenues of music and here is no exception; Parallax is a work of art. While Logos was more sporadic and Let the Blind Lead Those Who Can See Cannot Feel was more pastoral, Parallax is by far his most compelling and cohesive album to date.

As the album cover suggests, Cox’s singing style is more akin to a crooner and less as a shoegazer.  Unlike before, Cox’s voice is the focal point on Parallax, and he uses it to great advantage.  Instead of extensivly relying on effects and reverb, Cox guides his voice through a scale of diverse vocal ranges and hits different chords that were almost alien before. There is a certain Baroque feeling to the album, which is cemented with songs like “Terra Incognita” and “Flagstaff”, where the potency of idleness, loss and beauty are deceptively effortlessly conveyed.

There are no soothingly seductive songs like “Quick Canal”, or instantly catchy ones like “Walk About”. Instead, what you have is Cox’s own perfected style that is both painstakingly delicate and oftentimes maudlin.  Parallax is not only Cox’s best, but also an easy contender for album of the year.

Honheehonhee Interview

Montreal indie electro-pop five-piece, Honheehonhee Prepare to Release their debut album “Shouts” November 22.

If there’s one band you should be listening to it should be the most talked about Montreal band of 2011 right? Right! And this ain’t an overstatement people. Throw in some energized indie-pop, a splash of playful synths, mix in some damn-catchy melodies and coat with electrifying live performances and you got yourself, Honheehonhee.

A complete hell of a good time.

From this hot Montral indie,electro-pop five-piece, come  “A. Is For Animal” the anticipated first single from their forthcoming debut album, entitled Shouts (which will be released on-line, November 22nd). An absolute favorite of mine, “A. Is For Animal” comes with its very own killer video.  Fresh off their performance at Halifax Pop Explosion, be sure not to miss Honheehonhee live on their Fall “Shouts” Tour.

So, give the readers a little background on yourselves, and we’ll go from there.

Honheehonhee, and our debut album “Shouts” (out November 22nd online), is Greg Halpin, Stefan F.-Gow, Matt Raudsepp, Erin Halpin, and Marc Danson. We are a five member rock band from Montreal, QC, Canada.

Tell us a little about the history behind the band.

We’re all little boy best friends plus a sister. The only thing preventing us from being any closer is our inability to communicate via telepathy. We’ve been playing music together forever, as far back as elementary school. Greg used to play drums, we all used to play acoustics at one point, Erin played bassoon once upon a time, I’m still trying to push for everyone wearing tap shoes on
stage. All these various iterations of bands came and went, but it was always the same people. Last year we realized we had never recorded an album, so we changed our name, wrote totally new and different songs, and made it happen. Honheehonhee was born.

For those who have not heard of Honheehonhee, what would you tell them? What are your inspirations?

Honheehonhee is a nearly-nude frisbee game in the snow. The only reason we are in a band is because it’s fun for us. We are inspired by people and things that are exciting and honest. If an audience member ever stripped down and threw around a frisbee during our show, we’d love them for life.

What is one thing die-hard Honheehonhee fans do not know about you?

We email Yao Ming every day with requests for him to drop everything and become our manager. Similarly, Muggsy Bogues only gets a single text message from us per year.

Your debut record, “Shouts” is set to be released on November 22nd,What can people expect?

People can expect the record to sound much like our live show: jangly, jumpy, jaguar-like, jittery, jammy, jesty…etc (pretty much any “j” adjective you can think of. Weird huh?)

Is there a story behind the title?

There isn’t any actual story behind the title. It was a word that we actually kind of stumbled upon during numerous, late-hour, round-table discussions of the album. The album has a lot of these kind of animalistic, kind of beligerent sounding background vocals parts that can be characterized simply as cries or shouts. We didn’t like the word “Cries” because we didn’t want ourselves to come across like a bunch of whiny babies so we settled on “Shouts”.

If you had to sell the album on one track which one would it be, and could you tell us a little about that track?

Probably “A. Is For Animal”, not just because our parents like it but because it seems to be the track that resonates best with a room (parentless) full of people. There are a bunch of  hooky musical parts that can get stuck in your head as well as a few falsetto bits dispersed throughout the song that make it a little different sounding than other tracks on the album. Even though it feels like we’re describing a Bee Gees record, we’d like to assure everyone that IT DOESN’T SOUND ANYTHING LIKE THE BEE GEES.

What has the release meant to you on a personal level?

The release truly means everything to us. We’ve been carrying this record in our bloated uterus for about a year now and, having nurtured it for all this time, we’re finally ready to deliver this sucker! We couldn’t be more proud with the way it turned out and would especially like to thank our engineer/co-producer Greg Smith for his invaluable contribution to the record.

What has been the highlight of your career so far?

Probably this question since you referred to it as a career.

What can fans expect in the near future? (What is your tour looking like?)

A sweaty mess.  We’re playing 10 more dates across Canada over the next few weeks.  At each one of these shows people can expect to see us sweat more than we ever have. Incidentally the volume of sweat that comes out of us tends to be directly related to the amount of fun we’re having.

Where do you see yourself and the band in ten years from now?

President of the universe.  Or maybe driving a fleet of solar powered city buses called Sunheesunhee (if they exist).

You can give them a shout at: honheehonhee@gmail.com Or follow them on Twitter: @honheehonhee

www.honheehonhee.com

Tour Dates:

Oct. 21, 2011: Halifax Pop Explosion/Osheaga Presents @ The Seahorse (Halifax)

Oct. 24, 2011: Baba’s Lounge, w/ Mindwaves + Colour Code (Charlottetown)

Oct. 25, 2011: CEGEP Champlain St. Lawrence (Quebec City)

Oct. 27, 2011: Casa del Popolo, w/ Reversing Falls + Topanga (Montreal)

Oct. 29, 2011: Rancho Relaxo, w/ Papermaps + The Love Machine (Toronto)

Oct. 31, 2011: Mansion House, Indoorshoes.ca Halloween party (St. Catharines)

Nov. 5, 2011: The Apollo, w/ Jean-Paul De Roover (Thunder Bay)

Nov. 8, 2011: Lo Pub, w/ Haunter + Enjoy Your Pumas (Winnipeg)

Nov. 10, 2011: Wayne-Stock (Calgary)

Nov. 14, 2011: Wunderbar, w/ Service Fair (Edmonton)

Nov. 15, 2011: O’Hanlons (Regina)

Nov. 18, 2011: Club Lambi ALBUM LAUNCH, w/ Sunfields (Montreal)

Nov. 22, 2011: Rivoli, w/ Modernboys Moderngirls + The Elwins (Toronto)

Iration: Lei’d Back Tour

Iration: Lei’d Back Tour 2011

I light up a cigarette and my hands shake, partially because I’m standing outside the Hawthorne Theater in the pouring rain and partially because I’m anxious and nervous to conduct an interview with one of my favorite bands, Iration. Reggae music has common connotations to the outside world: Bob Marley, smoking weed, and Island life. And though all these things are relevant entities to the basis of Reggae, some do not realize that this kind of music is not only complex, well-written, and unique; it is one genre of music that can instantly alter your emotional state and transport you some place happier, a place where you aren’t afraid to be free. This soul-altering experience I speak of is a place that the music of Iration has helped me, and many others, travel to.

Iration is made up of Joe Dickens, Adam Taylor, Cayson Peterson, Kai Rediske, “King,” and Micah Pueschel all of whom are Hawaiian-raised, but are currently based in Santa Barbara. The members have known each other since high school, but did not begin playing music until they were in college at the University of Santa Barbara or Pomona College which is where lead singer and guitarist Micah Pueschel attended. They started experimenting with music and jamming together for fun which eventually led to them forming a cover band playing Bob Marley and other roots Reggae artists. “Iration” can be found in two Bob Marley songs, Roots and Positive Vibrations which is where they derived their name. From there, they were able to book local functions and gigs in Santa Barbara, and once they began songwriting, they decided to pursue music further.

Before attending the show, I was fortunate enough to be able to meet and speak with guitarist Micah Pueschel about songwriting, what it is like to play in Portland, and what is in the future for Iration. Iration has played in Portland over five different times, playing previously at the Hawthorne theater and the Roseland theater, where they played last year with Rebelution who are close friends of the group and also based in Santa Barbara. Throughout the years, Iration has toured with Pepper, the Expendables, Ballyhoo!, Passafire, and many others. They also opened for Kings of Leon several years ago at the Santa Barbara Bowl, which was Pueschel’s favorite live show that he has attended. His biggest inspirations come from bands like the Beatles who he refers to as, “his Gods,” and Weezer for songwriting.

Vocalist Kai Rediske and Micah Pueschel do the majority of the song writing for the group, but creating a track would not be possible without equal influence from the entire group, which Pueschel says usually starts simply with an acoustic guitar and is then finished as a group in studio. Pueschel wrote the song Time Bomb, which is the title track for their 2010 album which took a while to record, due to the fact that it was recorded in two sections; the first half in the studio, and the second half after their summer tour in 2009. Though the process was long, this was Pueschel’s favorite album to record. They were able to experiment with synthesizers and new instruments, creating sounds that were unique and unable to be duplicated by keyboard or computer. Through this album, they were able to not only experiment with producing techniques, but with songwriting also. During the time he was writing Time Bomb, Pueschel did not think it should be on the album, but after encouragement from Rediske and the rest of the group, they entered the studio to create one of their most popular and memorable tracks. The song Get Back to Me started as a single hook from Rediske that is now the chorus of the song, and was then pieced together by Pueschel and the rest of the group, becoming another one of the most popular tracks on the Time Bomb album.

It is a given that in any band, equal group participation and collaboration in creating songs and albums is essential. However, the closeness and trust you feel between the members of Iration seems to be a rarity. They truly are a group of close friends who are lucky enough to create amazing music and travel together sharing it with dedicated fans across the country. Though most of the time spent in the different cities is spent preparing for and playing the shows, they do get to venture out and explore as much as they can, and the same is true for their time spent in Portland, Oregon.

Pueschel says Portland is a “cool city,” with great food and funky bohemian vibe. Experiencing the different cultures of each city is a perk of touring, but the best thing is, of course, being able to play music and build lifelong bonds with other bands. The worst, Pueschel says, is being forced to leave behind the people you care about the most, having no normal schedule, and having to “create a routine for yourself to feel normal.” One of his favorite places in the city is the Annex Bar near the Crystal Ballroom because of the late night happy hour which is great for musicians.

Though Iration has gained immense popularity throughout the years, I cannot help but be pleasantly surprised at how at ease I feel while speaking to Micah Pueschel who proved to be a humble, friendly, and incredibly talented man whom I hope I am able to see perform many more times in the future.

The electricity in the air is undeniable, and each person seems more anxious than the next. Finally, after what seems an immensely long intermission, Iration takes the stage. They are dressed in Mexican tuxedos and fake mustaches, creating an alter-ego group, Los Diamantes, for the night. The case of Tecate brought onto the tour bus makes much more sense to me now. It is Halloween, and I’m pleased that Iration has chosen to so enthusiastically participate. La Cucaracha plays, and at the end of each painfully familiar chorus the crowd shouts, “Ole!” in unison with the band. And thus, the show begins. The band begins with the song All in You, a popular favorite from the Time Bomb album and follows with Time Bomb, Get Back to Me, and Electricity to finish the first set.

One of the most amazing things about seeing Iration live is experiencing their fluid transitions from song to song; the show continuing as one complete piece with hardly any interruptions or pauses. My favorite songs to hear live were Summer Nights, which sent the entire crowd into an instant and mutual state of relaxation, and I’m With You which has a chorus as addictive as the guitar chord. Along with playing fan favorites, Iration also was generous enough to share two new tracks that will be on their upcoming album, hopefully to be released sometime in 2012.

No Time, which has a bubbly indie pop intro different from any other Iration song, is Micah Pueschel’s favorite song to play live. He describes the song as a “fresh, fun song with a good vibe.” Their other new track, Undertow, experiments with a heavier electronic element as well as a darker feeling that resonates throughout the song and lyrics. Both of these songs are available free to fans.

Live music is a religion to me, and I cannot express the feeling that I, and other fans, get when experiencing a fun, energetic, and tremendously talented band such as Iration. After finishing up their Lei’d Back Tour with Tomorrows Bad Seeds and Through the Roots, they hope to enter the studio to work on completing their upcoming album. I’ll be patiently waiting for the release, so I can write what I’m sure will be an album review filled with nothing but respect and admiration.