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Last Month's Top Sellers

1. ARCADE FIRE - Everything Now
2. BROKEN SOCIAL SCENE - Hug Of Thunder
3. WAR ON DRUGS - A Deeper Understanding
4. GRIZZLY BEAR - Painted Ruins
5. BADBADNOTGOOD - Late Night Tales

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FEATURED RELEASES

Friday
Jul132007

ARTHUR AND YU - In Camera

arthuryu-in%20camera.jpgThe debut release from Sub Pop's new imprint Hardly Art, In Camera is an album which is quietly making waves. Arthur and Yu are the childhood nicknames of singers Grant Olsen and Sonya Westcott. It's a moniker that makes sense, as much of In Camera has the youthful naivete that served forefathers Galaxie 500, The Pastels and Yo La Tengo so well. With plenty of acoustic guitar, melodica, glockenspiel and bells, the record sits well in the "twee" section with enough country longing to keep its sweetness just the right side of sour. An endearing, lovely grower.

Tuesday
Jul102007

URDOG - Garden of Bones

36440_108.jpgThis band from Providence, RI is no longer together. This is unfortunate because they are great live and I would have liked to have heard a new album. They're a great example of contemporary prog-psych from the states; creepier, weirder and more lo-fi than trad psych/prog. They run with the likes of other Providence favourites like Lightning Bolt and Papperad, Kites, et al - and it shows for the fact that the music is interesting and a little strange, yet ultimately very enjoyable.

Tuesday
Jul102007

SPOON - Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga

spoon-gagagagaga.jpgSpoon's 2002 release, Kill The Moonlight, saw songwriter Britt Daniel's career go from major-label pop casuality to indie-rock's patron saint of economy. It was a happy twist of fate that so gifted a writer got the second chance denied many others. It is an opportunity that he seems determined not to waste. Not that Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga gives off an air of desperation. Rather, Daniel and his cohorts ply their craft with such skill and fluidity that their records appear effortless. Endlessly hooky and the bearer of subtle intelligence, Ga is yet another great Spoon record. Enough said.

Tuesday
Jul102007

INTERPOL - Our Love To Admire

interpol-our%20love.jpgOn their third album, NYC's Interpol serve a quiet notice that their days of being lazily compared to Joy Division, the Smiths, Chameleons, et al, should be put to pasture. Sure, those links remain, but the band is now firmly in command of a sound that is immediately identifiable as their own. Our Love To Admire is a potently slick album, even by their standards (you can almost hear the snapping of surgical gloves as album plays...). The band displays great confidence in their appeal, never condescending to produce an obvious single on this major-label debut.
Tuesday
Jul102007

ULRICH SCHNAUSS - Goodbye

schnaussu.-goodbye.jpgEver since My Bloody Valentine broke-up/retired/went-into-hiding, barely a month goes by before another band is christened heirs to their ethereal throne. Now, I'm not saying Ulrich Schnauss is the next MBV (he lacks their powerful multi-guitar attack), but his music has a similar effect on the body and soul. The long-awaited follow-up to 2004's excellent A Strangely Isolated Place, Goodbye is an album that doesn't so much play as it does drift out of your stereo. Give this album a few spins, and that drift becomes a gorgeous fog which you'll quite happily allow to fill the room.

Tuesday
Jul102007

ST. VINCENT - Marry Me

st.vincent-marry%20me.jpgCredit to Sufjan Stevens: the man knows a great singer/guitarist when he sees one. First we had Shara Worden (AKA My Brightest Diamond), now Annie Clark is St. Vincent, a Stevens and Polyphonic Spree alum who is more than worthy of the spotlight herself. Unlike the operatic powerhouse of Worden, Clark's pipes are more delicate and layered in recording. Her guitar playing is truly impressive, both tasteful and explosive as the moment demands. Marry Me is a superb collection of keen, whimsical, ambitious pop music; a far rarer find than its unfettered cover suggests.

Monday
Jul092007

JUSTICE - †

justice-t.jpgThere is a music gene over which the French maintain a puzzling monopoly: the electro-funk dance gene. Many of the country's best acts, from Air to Phoenix, have a relationship with dance music which is far less self-conscious than that of their North American counterparts. Inside of worrying about whether or not it's kitsch, Justice revel in the pure sonic power of their robot music. The result is their relentless debut: † ("cross"). Alongside song titles of such weight as "Genesis", "Let There Be Light" and "Waters of Nazareth", come titanic, inventive booty-shakers that refuse to sit still.  

Friday
Jul062007

A BAND OF BEES - Octopus

bees-octopus.jpgWhile never receiving the avalanche of ink that accompany so many of their British contemporaries, The Bees (or A Band Of Bees as they are legally known in North America) continue to make some of the best pop records in that country. Considering their shameless genre-hopping and 60s/70s faithful production style, maybe they're just too much of a chameleon to be pinned down. Like its eight-armed namesake, this album has its hands everywhere at once: pop, soul, reggae, folk, country, you name it. Its saving grace is that no matter what shape it takes, the melody remains primary.
Friday
Jul062007

TIMBER TIMBRE - Medicinals

timber%20timbre-medicinals.jpgThe second album from Toronto songwriter Taylor Kirk feels far removed from this part of the world. A near-perfect blend of closing-time New Orleans jazz horns and Appalachian porch-folk suffering from sun-stroke, Medicinals is all haze and the cracks of light which illuminate it. While only a half-hour long, the album is deeply engaging and stays with you long after it ends. Pairing songs about winter, devils, and spells with this sort of music is nothing new, but Kirk takes to it like an old soul. The result is an album which is short, but never rushed: simply lovely.

Thursday
Jul052007

EUROS CHILDS - Chops

euros%20childs-chops.jpg

From the visual pun of the cover art to titles like "Stella Is A Pygmy" (Parts 1, 2 and 3!), the former Gorky's Zygoti Mynci leader is still forging his own little surreal and charming sound world.  With his solo debut, he proves the breakup of his former band was a good move, following their dreary swan-song, Sleep/Holiday.  Recorded mostly by himself, Childs employs mostly acoustic guitars and layered keyboards to his deranged songs, ranging from half-minute loony tunes to longer hypnotic pieces based on repeated mantra-like lyrics. 

Thursday
Jul052007

THE WHITE STRIPES - Icky Thump

white%20stripes%20-%20icky.jpg

I'll start with the warning that the White Stripes are one of my favorite bands so I may be a bit biased. With that being said this record is amazing!!! After changing things up with the previous album, Get Behind Me Satan, they have returned to the crunching guitars and insane riffs that made me love them in the first place. Even with a return to the old sound, the record sounds fresh, new, and, to my surprise, even comedic, as heard in the hilarious "Rag & Bone" where the pair go searching for garage sales and free junk. A must-have for any fan and a nice intro for those unfamiliar with the pair. 

Thursday
Jul052007

ANTON BRUCKNER/SIMON RATTLE - Symphony No. 4

bruckner-symphony4.jpgThe Wagnerian magnificence of Bruckner's Symphony No. 7 was a revelatory discovery for me last year so I decided to explore some of his earlier symphonies.  Symphony No. 4  took the composer seven years(!) to complete and what a struggle it must have been.  It contains everything I love about Bruckner, slow quiet moments and massive wall-of-sound climaxes.

Wednesday
Jul042007

RAISING THE FAWN - Sleight of Hand

raising%20the%20fawn-sleight.jpgSleight of Hand's opening chords ring out with a reverb-drenched urgency that announces the arrival of The Fawn's fourth and best full-length yet. Never short on ambition, the band's switch from longer pieces to more concise structures shows them at the top of their game. The album covers a broad spectrum, from tender falsetto acoustic numbers such as "Two Wives", to the heavy rhythms and rich harmonies of "Palace Gates". The crowning achievement is "Cypress Fields", whose booming bass and polyrhythmic drumming see-saws from primal breakdowns to harmony-laden pop.

Wednesday
Jul042007

AMIINA - Kurr

amiina-kurr.jpgThis Icelandic quartet gained quiet fame as the string players on albums by fellow countrymen Sigur Ros. Despite a long history with that group, Amiina had up until now only released a pair of EPs. Their debut full-length, Kurr, proves to be worth the wait. This album draws from a palette wider than that of your typical string quartet. In fact, the strings rarely assert themselves; the most obvious voices here are that of bells, water-drop keys, flute, horns, singing saw and classical guitar. The result is an ambient instrumental record which sits bewitchingly between eras: both modern and ancient.
Wednesday
Jul042007

LOS CAMPESINOS! - Sticking Fingers Into Sockets EP

campensinos-sticking.jpgWales. Consistently in the shadows of Ireland, Scotland, and ol' mother England, this small country has still managed to produce some high-quality pop acts over the years. Now enter Welsh septet Los Campesinos!, a new signing to Toronto's well-loved Arts and Crafts label. These kids fling themselves into college pop abandon, complete with a gleeful cover of the Pavement classic "Frontwards." The EP is all enthusiasm and breathless youth and while it's a little early to tell whether they'll add to their country's distinguished history, their debut is fun like a carnival and contagious like a cold.

Sunday
Jul012007

BARR - Summary

barr_summary.jpgIntense, casually over-articulate confessional monologues mainly spoken and occasionally sung by one Brendan Fowler (apparently he used to rap). Imagine Miranda July or Khaela from The Blow performing motivational speeches trapped in Phil Elvrum's body backed by drums, piano and bass playing in 5/4 time and you're almost there... 

Saturday
Jun302007

KAREN DALTON - In My Own Time

karen.jpgKaren Dalton is a folk singer, and banjo player  from the 60s who shared the stage with the likes of Bob Dylan and Fred Neil. Dalton did not write her own songs, but was  unique because of her haunting voice, which was often said to be folk music's answer to Billie  Holiday.  Her bluesy voice has a rare beauty that is both delicate and intense. Her cover of gothic folk classic "Katie Cruel" is haunting,  and "Take Me" has the power to break anyone's heart. If you don't know her already, check her out!

Friday
Jun292007

YAALA YAALA RECORDS - Various Releases

pekos%20yoro%20diallo-st.jpg          va-bougouni%20yaalali.jpg          daouda%20dembele-st.jpg

Founded by Jack Carneal, an American who moved to the Mali town of Bougouni in 1999, the new Yaala Yaala label is dedicated to unearthing a very different side to the music of this African nation than the Western world is used to seeing. It makes sense that this label's albums are being released in partnership with U.S. indie stalwart Drag City, because its three introductory releases are to the World Circuit/Nonesuch catalogue (home to Mali's best known international artists) what Drag City, et al are to pop music's major labels. These three albums have no track listings, minimal artwork, and have been recorded on boomboxes simply for the sake of archiving a moment. There are two self-titled albums by Pekos/Yoro Diallo and Daouda Dembele, and a compilation entitled Bougouni Yaalali. Each of these albums is raw and pure, devoid of the sterile touches of a Western producer or studio. Microphones squeal with feedback and distort as the vocalists get excited and the results are field recordings of great impact and excitement. In this light, a debate has been made as to the validity of the work of people like World Circuit producer Nick Gold or Ry Cooder and whether their presence was something of a disservice to the integrity of Malian music, polishing it for Western consumption. That seems a touch elitist and reactionary, as though you can't enjoy both (which of course you can!). One thing is for sure, if the work of Rokia Troare, Oumou Sangare, Salif Keita and their peers has ever felt a little too safe for your liking, these recordings will blow your mind. Even if you are a fan of those artists, these albums provide a superb counterpoint. After a history of Steely Dans, the West may finally be getting its peek at some of Mali's Velvet Undergrounds. Excellent news!

Wednesday
Jun272007

UNWOUND - Leaves Turn Inside You

unwound-leaves%20turn.gifOne of my faves from 2001. A 14-track double album, this was the seventh album by Olympia Wash. art-punk trio Unwound and it represented a dramatic shift away from start-stop, screaming aggression toward an ever-evolving patchwork of many styles. While all of the songs fit loosely under a melancholic umbrella, the songs vary from single-note drones, post-rock crescendos, pounding rockers, and psychedelic pop explorations. Sadly, Leaves also proved to be the group's swansong, but like Refused's The Shape Of Punk To Come, it's kinda difficult to dispute going out on such a high.

Wednesday
Jun272007

YESTERDAY'S NEW QUINTET - Yesterday's Universe

yesterday's%20new%20quintet-universe.jpgUnderground hip-hop producer Madlib has proven one thing beyond second guessing; his record collection is much better than yours. What makes him so compelling is that he is able to parlay this encyclopedic knowledge into recorded works that are more than just genre studies or carbon copies. Simply put, the man makes endlessly playable albums. Yesterday's New Quintet's latest offering, Yesterday's Universe, is by turns crisp, driving, mellow, spacious and all while fitting into the parameters of top-notch funk and jazz grooves that hip-hop artists have been sampling for decades.