The Decemberists Play “Make You Better”

What_A_Terrible_World,_What_A_Beautiful_WorldListen to this track by Portland Oregon indie-folk paragons The Decemberists. It’s “Make You Better”, the new single off of the upcoming album What A Terrible World, What A Beautiful World, due out on January 20. The record and single is a return to the field after a rest since 2011’s The King Is Dead.

Side projects ensued during the planned hiatus period, including singer Colin Moloy’s series of Wildwood books, which he creates with his wife, illustrator Carson Ellis. But, a return to the Decemberist fold was always in the cards. As you can tell, it was worth the wait. Read more

Meat Puppets Perform “Swimming Ground”

The Meat Puppets Up On The SunListen to this track by stylistically diverse and under-the-radar-influential trio from Phoenix, Arizona Meat Puppets. It’s “Swimming Ground”, a single released in advance of their 1985 album Up On The Sun, and eventually appearing on that record, too.

The band originally started out as a Southwestern representative of the west coast hardcore scene. But, their interests in roots music and in psychedelia helped them to forge a style of their own beyond that. Yet, even if they weren’t really a punk band in the end, they certainly took some very important notes from the punk ethos.

One of those things is singing about what’s around, writing about subjects that are perhaps not the most tried and true when it comes to popular songwriting, and using what’s on hand to do it, including the limitations of one’s own voice. This song is a good example of that, exemplifying a DIY, make your own rules approach with which punk is associated.

But, in this case, it was seen to be in opposition to the aesthetics of punk at the same time. Read more

The Sea & Cake Play “The Colony Room”

Oui The Sea and CakeListen to this track by pop and jazz-inflected concern from Chicago The Sea & Cake. It’s “The Colony Room” as taken from their fifth record Oui released in 2000.

The Sea & Cake is something of a supergroup of sorts with each member stemming from local bands on the Chicago scene, including Archer Prewitt of the Coctails (guitar, vocals), Sam Prekop (vocals, guitar) and Eric Claridge (bass and synths) of Shrimp Boat, and John McIntire (drums) from Tortoise. The album was something of a comeback for the band, since all of the members had side projects to pursue after their last one from 1997, The Fawn. 

But, what did all of those projects bring to this song once The Sea & Cake reconvened?
Read more

June Tunes Digest 2014

Summer is the time for new tunes! It’s like a rule or something.

So, as we proceeded last year with the Delete Bin June Tunes Digest, so do we do so this year with a selection of new tunes from bands and songwriters who deserve your attention. Some you may already know. Some you may be discovering for the first time. Either way, you win.

Summer faeries

As we did last year, we’re going to make an exception to the “10 songs” format too. This is 16 songs, good people, 16 songs of goodness freshly baked for the summer of 2014 which is just around the corner. Think of it as a mix tape made just for you.

And as per usual, this list of tunes represents various points along the pop music spectrum, and is listed in no specific order, as is the custom on the ‘Bin. See which ones resonate with you the most.

Take a listen!

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“Summer Lane” by Owenstone

LA-based Owenstone deliver this summer anthem, with a touch of modern psychedelia, a dash of Far-East flavouring, and (to these ears) a bit of an ecstatic ’80s bombast too.  This track comes from their recent self-titled EP which you can learn all about when you slide along to owenstone.com.

“Love Is A Madness” by No Sinner

Vancouver-based rock ‘n’ roll band No Sinner is fronted by rip-roaring 26-year old R&B vocalist Colleen Rennison (spell her last name backwards …), who takes her love of classic R&B-influenced rock and channels it through an impressive set of pipes to deliver the real thing herself. This track is from the upcoming record Boo Hoo Hoo, out June 24 – that’s this Tuesday! Check out nosinner.com for more.

“Get With You” The Damn Truth

Incendiary vocals, ’60s-style garage-punk energy, and LUST. What is more summery than that, good people? This single is the new one from Montreal’s The Damn Truth, which for a limited time you can get for free on their site, thedamntruth.com.

“On The Line” by The Red Rails

Ottawa’s The Red Rails rock the classic  power trio dynamic with this effervescently ferocious single that displays the band’s chops, but not at the expense of their deft hand at songwriting. This song serves as the harbinger for the upcoming full-length A Living Fiction, due to drop on July 15. Find out more about the band by mosying on down to theredrails.com.

“Never Thought This Would Happen” by The Arkells

Hamilton Ontario band who deal in enormous pop hooks and songs that make you wonder why no one thought to write them before, The Arkells present  guitar pop with sweeping strings, descending Lennonesque chords, and soaring vocals. This is music made for radio and for summer, too. What, I tells ye, is not to love? This is the first single as taken from their most recent record High Noon, their third, and a song I got to hear them play live at CBC Live this year, held at Deer Lake Park,  just up the road from where I’m writing this. To catch up with the Arkells, head on over to Arkells.ca.

“Follow The Blood” by Nine Sons of Dan

New South Wales Australia’s Nine Sons of Dan deliver this title track to their newest EP that should be all over the radio everywhere. If it isn’t, demand your money back, kids. This is a song built for mainstream appeal, unabashedly pop and that is full of alternative rock gravity, delicate strings, and all-around aural sunshine. Learn more about them at ninesonsofdan.com.

“Mary” by Ivory Hours

London Ontario’s Ivory Hours deliver buoyantly melodic pop music that doesn’t shy away from the darker end of the human experience spectrum. This is the title track to their recent EP, a song about friendship, losing one’s way, and the effect that one’s choices have on the those who care about them. But amidst the emotional gravity, they don’t forget to write a good tune ready for radio play. Learn more about them at ivoryhours.com.

“Just Say Hello” by Lyonn

Every summer romance needs a theme song, and this could be it if yours is of the unrequited variety. Lyonn (aka Tyler Gelrud) splits time between Orange  County, CA and Knoxville TN, crafting acoustic pop music with a punch as featured on his latest EP Promenade.  Get the latest news at LyonnMusic.com.

“Sparks” by Boreal Sons

If wistful art rock with ecstatically shimmering atmospheres is your idea of what will kick off your summer, then Calgary’s Boreal Sons is here to put the capital “R” back into Romance for you. This is a track from their most recent full-length record Threadbare. The band recently completed dates in Britain, after a cross-Canada tour. You can learn about their adventures at borealsons.com.

“With Haste” by Future History

Toronto’s Future History mix warm acoustics with echoey post-punk production to create darkly compelling pop music. This is the first single off of their latest record Lungs that was recorded clubhouse style in an abandoned hermitage in rural Ontario. You can watch the video for the song here, featuring that same rural Ontario setting.

“Iranians” by DAVIDS

If retro-futurist synthpop with a dance feel that is only rivaled by its sense of atmosphere is your thing, than Toronto’s DAVIDS (not “Davids”, and certainly not “David’s”, I’m told…) is here. This is the lead track from the EP 0613EP, characterized by European-style electronics that hearken back to a time of analogue grooves and icily compelling pop hooks. Like the band on Facebook.

“Little Earthquakes” by Imperial Mammoth

Summer is time to dance to something poptastically life-affirming. This is one of those ones made to sing along to while you’re dancing. This track by LA-based electronic pop duo Imperial Mammoth is set to become that summer anthem to which to move one’s feet, taken from their album Gold Confetti, released this coming Tuesday, June 24th. Visit the band’s website at imperialmammoth.com for more.

 “Giving Life To The Greys” by Daysdeaf

Atmospheric soundscapes mixed with a kind of hazy R&B feel is what typifies this single from the album When Color Lost Light. The band hail from Toronto, with an ear for experimental texture, perfect for sultry summer evenings kicking back. You can like Daysdeaf on Facebook.

“Elephants” by Fire/Works

Montreal’s Fire/Works deliver a moody, folky and cinematically evocative single in this track. This is a forerunner to their upcoming album Shenanigans. Look for the album in the Fall, folks! In the meantime, you might as well like the band on Facebook.

 “Zion” by S’Ambrosia

S’Ambrosia hails from Nairobi in Kenya, following a similar path to India Arie and Jill Scott despite the considerable physical geography that separates those artists from her. This is wistful acoustic pop with soul overtones, not to mention overt gospel elements that makes this tune a modern hymn without forgetting to be sonically interesting, too. Hear more at the S’Ambrosia YouTube channel.

“Phantoms And Friends” by Old Man Canyon

“Don’t let the ones that wanna steal your dreams away … just laugh and let it go”. Good advice this summer, with Old Man Canyon’s (otherwise known as singer-songwriter Jett Pace and his band) recent single as taken from the EP which is cleverly entitled Phantoms And Friends. The band is currently on tour with Foster the People, no doubt enjoying some pumped up kicks of their own. Check out oldmancanyon.com to stay up to date.

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Right, so there we have it summer people!

What’s your favourite track? What tracks can you recommend from a local band in your area that aren’t on this list?

Speak, good people! And otherwise,

Enjoy!

Hushdrops Play “Tomorrow”

Hushdrops Tomorrow LP coverListen to this track by Chicagoan power-psych trio and returning pop contenders Hushdrops. It’s “Tomorrow”,  the lead track from their most recent double-album, and long awaited follow-up to 2003’s Volume 1Tomorrow.

This new record is a double, and expands on the band’s well-observed synthesis of ’60s psych, orchestral pop, British Invasion-inspired power pop, and jagged MBV drone-distortion melodicism across a generous 21 tracks. Tomorrow was a long time coming (as it were!), with each member of the band involved in various side projects over the years, touching on other acts including Veruca Salt, Plush, and The Waco Brothers. As mentioned, a wide spectrum of rock music tradition is touched upon here.

This opening and eponymous track reflects an interest in riff-driven rock music from multi-instrumentalist and singer  John San Juan, singer and drummer Joe Camarillo, and bassist Jim Shapiro, and delivering what a listener might expect to hear when catching the band live on the floor. But, since that spectrum is pretty wide, it’s really only a part of the whole story.

I had the chance to talk with John San Juan and Joe Camarillo from Hushdrops via email about their return to the studio, about the creation of a follow-up record with a pretty wide span of time having passed, and about re-engaging and re-inventing what Hushdrops means in 2014. Here’s what they said.

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Spring For Tunes 2014

Spring is here.

Weather is getting balmier, days are getting longer, and around here cherry blossoms are on everyone’s mind, and on most people’s driveways. This is the season of renewal, of new beginnings. So, maybe it’s time to inject some new tunes into our lives in celebration of a season.

Spring faeries
image: sofi01

With that in mind, here is a selection of musical goodness from many locales and across the pop music spectrum for your consideration. May the sounds you find here be like April showers on the cold stony ground of a winter of discontent – and we had a cold one, didn’t we? As the buds on the trees begin to manifest, get these tunes into your brain through the buds of the ear variety.

Here …

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“Young and Lazy” by The  Matinee

Kicking things off is a Tom Petty-esque tune as produced by Hot Hot Heat’s Steve Bays (the rest of the record was produced by Los Lobos member and legendary sessioner Steve Berlin!), delivered by Vancouver roots and classic rock up-and-comers The Matinee.  The song is the opening track as taken from the band’s debut record, We Swore We’d See the Sunrise which you can buy on iTunes. If you’re looking to ride into the sun of a new season, this is a stellar place to start.

“Friends” by Fast Romantics

Fans of the Super Furries take note with this track from Calgary’s Fast Romantics, specializing in a similar art-rock via post punk pop architecture. The song is taken from their recent record Afterlife Blues, their second. For more, check out the official video to their single “Funeral Song“.

“Dreamtrain” by Lily Virginia

Like a moment in the day when you feel the first drops of spring rain, Lily Virginia’s “Dreamtrain” provides a melancholic backdrop  for a new season. This song is gauzy, atmospheric, and gossamer-delicate, but with a quiet strength that makes it a heartfelt reflection on lost love. For more information, check out this interactive page that allows you to delve even further into this tune, and what inspired it.

“Last Time You’ll Say Goodbye” by Mortimer Nova

Close-harmonies and expansive arrangement help to characterize this tune by Tampa Florida’s Mortimer Nova, led by head writer and guitarist Michael Vilches. The song is taken from their album Terminal, taking in an orchestral -folk approach that seems to evoke an idealized era of lushly realized pop music.

“Under The Wire” by Running Red Lights

If you prefer your pop by way of Buckingham-Nicks, this tune by Toronto’s Running Red Lights is your springtime excursion to a classic period of rock radio that sings in the 21st century. This song appeared as a sample two-fer, and as a forerunner to their full-length record There’s A Bluebird In My Heart. You can buy the record at iTunes.  

“Dream of Delia” by The Citradels

If three-to-four minute pop feels somewhat limiting, how about some neo-psychedelic drone rock for a change of pace? That’s where Melbourne Australia’s The Citradels have carved out a niche, marrying fuzzy psych with a variety of textures that stretch out a bit more, with eerie atmospheres and hypnotic soundscapes. This track is taken from their most recent record, Droned and Rethroned.

“That’s The Way I Wanna Do It” by The Pinecones

What would happen if you took power pop, added some strings, and some Brill Building era Carole King-like melodic instincts? Well, imagine no further with Toronto’s The Pinecones. This song is taken from the band’s succinctly named full-length, Ooh!

“Is This Love” by Life Leone

Life Leone delivers the dry-and-crunchy post punk hooks  you crave that culminates in a distinctive California desert-rock sound that he’s crafted into his own musical signature. This song is taken from the new release Comes Crashing In. You can learn more about Life Leone and his music here 

“Honest Living” by Supastition

Rap has a history in social commentary, with personal stories mirroring the stories of whole communities. That tradition lives and breathes on this track by Greenville, North Carolina-based Supastition. This track beams with throwback textures of classic R&B, infused with candour, controlled rage, and ultimate optimism as taken from the Honest Living EP.

“Numbers” by Grand Splendid

Montreal’s Grand Splendid make multi-textural guitar pop that transcends eras, mounted on an anthemic scale yet without the self-aggrandizing bombast. This is the title track from their self-produced mini-album Numbers, a sonic backdrop for those spring days where the sun can be seen as peering through a bank of clouds, on the verge of breaking out.

“ef-fort” by In Snow

For sounds that suggest a narrative but without the lyrics, Birmingham Alabama’s In Snow provide it with interest. This track is taken from their EP of the same name, dealing in atmosphere, tension and release, and subtle instrumental interplay. Fans of Mogwai in particular should press “play” immediately.

“And Still We Move” by Crissi Cochrane

For a feel of classic soul melded with a 21st century indie sensibility, Windsor Ontario-based and Halifax Nova Scotia-born Crissi Cochrane delivers a humid, horn-laden treasure chest of sound. This track is the single as taken from her recently released album Little Sway, a release driven by the beating heart of Detroit soul delivered with subtlety and laid back charm sung in her own voice.

“Rotation” by Ummagma

Electronic soundscapes and dream pop textures are what characterizes the music of Canadian-Ukrainian duo Ummagma. This is a single, a double A-side with another song of theirs – “Live and Let Die” (not the song you’re thinking of!).  In addition to their recorded output, the band won the Alternative Eurovision in 2013. But, maybe the biggest feather in their cap is working with Robin Guthrie of Cocteau Twins, who re-mixed a track, which is due soon.

“Ghost of June” by Dylan Starrs

Literally hooking into a dynasty of country music tradition with this song in particular, Texas native and L.A-based singer-songwriter Dylan Starrs plays to that tradition, and yet with a distinctive voice of his own. This song comes from his full-length record The Swill To The Swell.

“The Verge” by Juleah

Neo-psychedelic excursions are the speciality of Austrian musician Julia Hummer AKA Juleah. This is the opening track to a 5-track EP Entangled and Entwined, mixing guitars, with electronics, dreampop, and the blues.  For you visually-oriented music fans, here’s the video for the song.

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So, there they are; tunes for spring, a soundtrack to the green shoots and brightly-headed flowers bursting up toward a warming sun.

What do you think? What are your favourite tracks? What’s the weather like in your neck of the woods?

Tell me all about it! And happy spring!

Enjoy!

New Year, New Tunes 2014

Happy New Year, ‘Binners! Here’s hoping you had a nice holiday, and/or are continuing to have one. Whether you’re still on holiday, or are contemplating having to go back to work, a few new tunes couldn’t hurt either way, right?

Well, then. Here you go; a number of tunes from the best minds in pop music with whom perhaps you’re not altogether familiar. But, you can solve that by perusing the tunes below, clicking ‘play’, and perhaps discovering the best music you’ve heard all year – so far!

Snow Fairy
image: katmary

Fill your boots!

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1.”Helios” by Raleigh

Kicking things off is Calgary’s Raleigh, most certainly one of my favourite Canadian bands. I got to interview them a couple of years ago when they put out their debut. This one is the lead track off of their sumptuous follow up, Sun Grenades and Grenadine Skies.

2. “Fall Of The Summer Heart” by The Foreign Films

Art-pop vehicle The Foreign Films led by multi-instrumentalist and songwriter Bill Majoros will follow up 2007’s Distant Star, after a number of stellar EPs. Look out for that later in the year. In the meantime, this track is practically an EP all in one; a multi-layered series of songs within a song inspired after a tour of the UK.

3. “Butane Brain” by The Almighty Rhombus

Dark and angular, yet also bright and poppy all at once, here’s my favourite track as taken from Sudbury Ontario’s The Almighty Rhombus’ Lucid Living full-length. Light it up!


4. “6 Year Vignettes” by Vast Robot Armies

Sumptuous, ambitious and slightly on the proggy side if I might be so bold, Vast Robot Armies (under the creative direction of songwriter Jason Thompson) evoke a sort of Porcupine Tree-esque approach to bold, and epic scale music that still hits the pop spot. This track is taken from the most recent full-length, Goodnight Myopia.


5. “Fortunate Boy” by Dave Rave

Dave Rave is a local legend on the Southern Ontario music scene and beyond, having exercised his capacity for pop music of all kinds of sub-categories, including a stint in punk-pop daddies Teenage Head. As a departure from that sound, this track hits on a late-70s singer-songwriter feel with jazzy flourishes, taken from his most recent release Memphis Midnight.


6. “Button” by Colornoise

But, maybe all of these gentle, radio-friendly pop hooks need to be tempered with something more avant-garde. This band from Costa Rica delivers all of that, but keeps the hooks blended in quite nicely, thanks.


7. “Origin of Water” by Nheap

If soundtrack-y Sylvian/Sakamoto-influenced instrumental pop turns your crank, then this will help you start the year off right. This track is taken from Italy’s Massimo Discepoli, aka Nheap’s, latest record Flying In The Silence.


8. “A Freckle In Time” by The Sunshine Dreamers

If sunshiny psych (from the Mid-West!) is your favourite way to begin a new year, then what are you waiting for? This is the closing track to The Sunshine Dreamers’ record Good Morning Afternoon. Get your lysergic pop fix!


9. “Wasted” by Dog Day

Transporting yourself back to that classic late ’70s punk sound is easily done with this track from Halifax, Nova Scotia; Dog Day. It was offered as a free track from the band’s recent record Fade Out.


10. “Spaceship X” by Sun Stone Revolvers

If Apocalyptic Pop isn’t a genre, it’s possible that Toronto’s Sun Stone Revolvers have just invented it with this track as taken from the album after which it’s named – Spaceship X.

11. “1994” by Ben McKenzie

When you’re starting a new year, sometimes you need an anthem. Ben McKenzie’s “1994” may be that anthem, easily suitable twenty years into the future in 2014 (is it twenty years already? How did that happen?). This track is taken from his most recent EP Stand Down Son.

12. “Grand Tracadie” by Newsmen

Toronto’s Newsmen have managed to create effervescent power-pop meets art rock by mixing in a level of complexity that doesn’t interfere with its pop appeal. No small feat! This is their most recent single.

13. “The Tourists” by Clockwork Noise

A new year can be uncertain, and events can change direction at any time for ill, but also for good. So, here’s a soundtrack to all that in the closing song from the album Whethermachine,  a pop-hook laden noise-rock feast if there ever was one by Ireland’s Clockwork Noise.

14. “The Family Tree” by Unconditional Arms

Under the name Unconditional Arms, post-rock composer Jeffery Wright created an album of soundscapes in honour of his newborn son Owen (born in August of 2013) appropriately entitled Kinship . Instrumental, and emotionally evocative, this track also manages to sing with a pop music spirit.

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And there  you have it, Good People; a veritable smorgasbord  of musical delights to help you kick off your 2014. Which one’s your favourite? Tell me all about it in the comments section!

Otherwise, thanks for staying tuned! More to come all year long!

Enjoy!

June Tunes Digest 2013

Summer is nearly upon us! And so, summer tunes are required. There have been a lot of requests from cool bands from all over to get their songs included here on this here pop music blog. It’s a huge honour to be asked!

Dancing June Tunes

In the spirit of the oncoming summer season, I thought I’d present a digest of tunes from a few acts who’ve turned my head in the last few months. So here are some highlights for the Delete Bin’s June Tunes 2013!

Usually, I try and make lists of 10. But, I’ve kicked that format to the curb this time around. I just couldn’t say no to any of these. So, there’s 14 big tunes to savour, good people! It’s like a ready-made summer compilation album!

What do you think ? Read more

Metric Play “Combat Baby”

Listen to this track by Torontonian nu-new wave musical quadrangle Metric. It’s “Combat Baby” a single released at the end of 2004, and eventually featured on their second record Old World Underground, Where Are You Now? the following year.

It’s quite a statement to make. But, I feel that Metric is most interesting band in Canada, and in a great of deal of other countries too, to have grown to prominence in the 2000s. So, take that Arcade Fire. They certainly don’t appear to be running out of creative steam, going from strength to strength. “Combat Baby” is one of their earlier singles, and just listen to it; full of post-punk texture and pure pop hooks, while somehow not betraying one aesthetic over another. Magic.

Another thing that it notable about this band is that even if they follow a number of existing musical threads, there is something about how they process them that allows the band to come off like they are cutting their own trail through the indie wilderness, rather than regurgitating what has come before for an audience that may be unfamiliar with the source material. In this alone, they are in a league by themselves. And how do they prove that here? Read more

New Hands Plays “Tulips”

Listen to this track by electronically-inclined indie-rock band New Hands. It’s “Tulips”, an outlier song to their planned full-length lp, currently in gestation.

The album is  scheduled to be released next year, as the five piece band and their producer Michael Keire (Apostle of Hustle, Wildlife, Dark Mean) take their time to bring the music to its full potential in the studio.

Such has been the approach for this single, a tale of relationship vulnerability (“Shake your head and hold my hand, say I’m still important “), punctuated by sound that mixes rock instruments and post-punk synths.

The pitfall to this approach, if not seeking out a cold and alienated vibe, is losing the balance between a precise, cut-glass sound that this strain of rock music requires, and a warm recording that invites a listener into it. To my ears, and probably yours too, the band has managed to achieve that balance.

New Hands’ bassist Evan Bond explained it to me, via email. This is what he said: Read more