Sunday, January 30, 2011

Today's Swell Tune: YVR

  • Band: Hot Hot Heat
  • Album: Future Breeds
  • From: Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
  • Sound: The way I want every night out to feel: post-punk, rock
  • Website:

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Saturday Night Remix: Tell 'Em


Hanni El Khatib, Hitchhiking, and Hernias: Weekend's Here

This is the weekend I move everything I own across the third largest city on the planet by hauling it down to the street, flagging down random passing cars, and arguing with the drivers until they agree take me across town and help with my luggage for 400 rubles or less. Then I take the metro back across town and repeat  steps 1-3 until the old flat is empty. So it seems about right that the elevator is broken and I live on the 10th floor. Jive.

With all that's going on, I'm not sure about internet access these next few days. I've set some posts to a timer, but I set my alarm clock wrong at least twice a week so we'll just see how that plays out. Either way, I'll be back soon. In the meantime, here's Loved One, the new video from Hanni El Khatib who, as you alreadiy know, kicks ass.

Have a better weekend than me, all. Stay cool, hep cats.

Today's Swell Tune: Here's to Us

  • Band:  A Band Called Quinn
  • Album: The Beggar's Opera (available from bandcamp)
  • From: Glasgow, Scotland
  • Sound: A riot grrl at the disco: electro-indie pop
  • Website: myspacefacebook

Thursday, January 27, 2011

The Black Keys vs. Big Boi: Wick-It the Instigator Can Probably Cook Better than I Can, Too

For the record, I am a good cook. Thing is, I rarely remember food until I'm already starving, so by then it's more of a laboratory situation. Crackers with salad dressing? Done it.  Mustard on toast? Sadly, yes. Popcorn with liquorice?
Yeah... I may or may not actually buy the ingredients for that one, now. Awhile back I got it in my head that savoury yogurt should exist, but as it turns out, the fact that it doesn't has nothing to do with a lack of ingenuity in the yogurt industry and everything to do with the reality that yogurt and condiments should never, ever meet. 

So while mixing two good things together might seem logical, it doesn't always make for a gorgeous lovechild. Sometimes you just get relish curdling tomorrow's breakfast.

Luckily some people know better when it comes to experimentation and you can count Memphis-based Wick-It the Instigator among them. He took two of last year's favourite albums-- Big Boi's Sir Lucious Left Foot: The Son of Chico Dusty, and The Black Key's Brothers--and mashed them into The Brothers of Chico Dusty: Big Boi vs. The Black Keys. And it's hard to imagine fans of Big Boi, The Keys, or both not digging it.

It's not unlike The Black Key's Blackrok project, so the idea isn't totally out of left field, but let's give credit where credit is due.--the thing is pretty damn tight. Impressive enough in fact, to have gotten the attention of Big Boi who has plans to work with Wick-It in 2011. So what we have here is less horseradish yogurt and more popquorice/lickorn. Or something you like. Whatever. It's always about you.

The entire album is available for free from bandcamp. Nice.

Today's Swell Tune: Baby Life's Too Short

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Boss Stuff on the Interwebs: Wednesday Links 26/01/11

  • I'm already on the record as saying how much I love a good music documentary. Big Fun in the Big Town goes back to 1986's "up and coming" hip-hop movement in NYC. It features a young  Run DMC, Grandmaster Flash, Ice-T, Biz Markie, LL Cool J ...the list goes on, the documentary looks great, and guerolitomusic just reminded me that the word "fresh" needs to make a comeback.
  • Six months after a cautiously positive review, and just one month after naming it the #2 best album of last year, Stereogum has a nice long article complaining about Arcade Fire's The Suburbs. Not that I care either way, but pick a side. Then just wait for the next single to come out to milk the album for pageviews, like the rest of us.
  • Wondering what "progressive shoegaze" is? Hyperbole will demonstrate with Melbourne band Leagues and a sweet picture of Wonderwoman. 
  • What's Protocol has The Swell Season, The Frames, and City & Colour. Saves me three posts right there.
  • So the creator of the musical abomination that is Glee got pissy with Kings of Leon and Slash because they won't let the show use their music. is the only necessary rebuttal to that bitchery (Spinner

Today's Swell Tune: eventu-a-lee

  • Artist: My Hawaii
  • From: Los Angeles, United States
  • Sound: The artist describes the song concept as  "What if Chuck Berry went to jail in New Orleans and started a prog rock band?". It's like he works here.; Indie pop
  • Website:
  • Download Free: from bandcamp

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Video for No Room to Live is Like Dropping Acid and Watching Take On Me

I move house this weekend, so I naturally started packing today. While this might sound like the doings of a lazy procrastinator, in fact it just proves how ambitious I am, on account of how much harder I will be working around here for the rest of the week. Some Fortune 500 company really needs to scoop me up before this blogging thing takes off.

Packing or not, I did find the time to watch this video about fifteen times. It's Times New Viking's No Room to Live, a song we posted some time ago. But I'm posting it again, because I'm not sick of it yet and the new video is tops. 

According to Vimeo, each frame of  was “… printed from real video, then hand drawn, colored, or decorated and put back together.” About 40 artists participated in the project, re-rendering nearly 3,000 stills. Well worth 2:39 of your time:

Today's Swell Tune: Baby Drugs

  • Artist: Tristen
  • Album Eager for Your Love (EP); Charlatans st the Gate (LP) out Feb 1
  • From: Lansing, Illinois via Nashville, Tennesee; United States
  • Sound: Makes you want to go out, become an addict, and fall in love. Adorable.; "neo-traditionalist" pop
  • Website:
  • Download Free: ↓↓↓

Monday, January 24, 2011

The Coachella Lineup is Out but I'm Not Even Going to Bother

I'd planned to give the Coachella lineup and then write a little something to go with it. Suffice to say, it would have been both hilarious and thought-provoking.

But then things in this city got a bit ugly today, and I really could not be bothered. Sorry guys.

Instead, I'm just going to post it:

Lots of amazing stuff, but no big surprises. I'm sure a lot of people were hoping for the Bowie rumour to be true.

Also unfortunate: you'll see that contrary to rumours, It's Always Sunny in Philidelphia is NOT  going to be doing a live show. And that's all the excuse I need to post the following video. I know I could do with a laugh.


Monday Morning Cover: Dancing in the Dark

Amy MacDonald

Bruce Springsteen

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Today's Swell Tune: The Mermaid Parade

  • Band: Phosphorescent
  • Album: Here's to Taking It Easy
  • From: Brooklyn, New York, United States
  • Sound: To quote a friend: "if you can listen to this song without wanting to cry, you have no soul"; indie folk-rock, alt country
  • Website:

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Friday, January 21, 2011

Screw Quantum Mechanics:Summer Fiction is Timeless

Yesterday, someone super-duper sent me this:

There are actually multiple issues of this.

If I am to understand correctly, such was the magnitude of the "men in belted sweaters" trend that it required a series of publications on the phenomenon.


It got me thinking on the topic of timelessness--or lack thereof--on the very day I finally gave the entire Summer Fiction album a whirl. How appropriate. Because lemme tell you, Summer Fiction is no belted man-sweater.  

Though the hopelessly pretty self-titled debut was released just last month, there's nothing "this year" about it. Actually, there's not a whole lot anchoring it to this decade. While it seems the Philadelphia-based artist (Bill Ricchini) is striving for an early-to-mid 1960's feel, the entire album is really an homage to pop music of the last fifty years in general. It offers equal parts 60's crooning-quirk, 70's folk-reflection, 80's intensity, 90's melancholy and 00's tongue-in-cheek. Even the cover art can't really be dated. Summer Fiction is timeless in the most literal sense that its songs truly belong in no place and no time. 

And for that very reason, it's a good bet that you'll still be listening to this five or ten years from now.

You can download it now on bandcamp (including a free single), and keep up via the website.

Friday's Forgotten Song: The Ruling Class


Thursday, January 20, 2011

If I Used the Phrase "Band to Watch" I Would Use it Here: Wildlife

Referrals and listening, listening and referrals. If you don't like it, don't start a music blog. Because people will send you songs and you will have to listen to them. A lot.  

Honestly, most don't make it past ten seconds. Of those that do, most will still get turned off after about a minute. They're not usually bad. It's just that an overwhelming majority of them suffer from what I think of as a lack of balls. When a musician is afraid to commit, you can hear it in the music. I mean, if you're going to do it, for the love of god do it.  

Wildlife doesn't have that problem. Their Toronto-based indie rock is energetic, to-the-point, and not afraid of going in 100 percent. With a hint of punk edge, they drive though every song like they love what they're doing and they really, really mean it. They don't even seem to have the occasional "meh" number-- all the tracks make it past 10 second mark with ease. 

If I had to give you a "sounds like" I'd say maybe a less-groomed Arcade Fire, Wolf Parade, or Hot Hot Heat. But believe me, in a few years, people might just be saying "sounds like Wildlife." These guys definitely have it in 'em.

You can get their debut album Strike Hard Young Diamond on bandcamp, where they've also been cool enough to give you three free tracks. Stalking can be done on myspace, facebook, or twitter.

Today's Swell Tune: Bag of Bones

  • Artist: Lalagray
  • Album: Devil's Nest
  • From: Dallas, Texas, United States
  • Sound: Bayou Regina Spektor; indie pop
  • Website:

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Boss Stuff on the Interwebs: Wednesday Links 19/01/11

  • From their hometown of Lucerne, Guerolitomusic brings you post-punk/new-wave/mad-80's band Dans La Tente. Check it out, because who can hate the Swiss? Really. Unless you've been stabbed by a well-crafted pocketknife, I guess. Then you get a pass.
  • Thanks to insomnia, Damien Is Listening To found this 17-minute Radiohead (re)mixtape, cementing my belief that without insomnia the blogosphere would not exist. Also, not without desperate cravings for attention.  
  • Breaking More Waves investigates whether 2011 is the beginning of the end for dubstep, then gives some Skream and Example downloads that'll make you hope not. 
  • Little Reviews does a... little review of The Love Language's lo-fi, indie pop album Libraries. Sachez que le site est français, mais la plupart de la musique est en anglais. Good stuff all around.
  • The Morning After Pill has the video for Not in Love.  It features neither Crystal Castles nor Robert Smith, but if you have a thing for pictures of pretty girls as seen through a coma haze, this is your lucky day.
  • You know those thirty-five inexplicable cable shows about cake? Well I guess an appearance by Pavement might make one of them suck less. If not, then at last you can watch one of the eleventy-nine shows about bridal dresses. (Stereogum)
  • Speaking of tv, Ultra8210 has The Black Keys vs. Vampire Weekend competing in a "sell-out-off" on The Colbert Report. I'd tell you why, but frankly, if you haven't clicked by now, there's no helping you.

Today's Swell Tune: Clean

  • Band: Olenka and the Autumn Lovers
  • Album: and now we sing
  • From: London, Ontario, Canada
  • Sound: Like Ra Ra Riot channelling The Cranberries. Or vice versa.; indie rock
  • Website:

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Today's Swell Tune: Paulins

Monday, January 17, 2011

Musicians are People Too: Interview with The Conduits (Exclusive)

As an expat, I spend half my social life trying to maintain contact with people up to nine time zones away. It can be tricky.

Sometimes it's fantastic; at a sober noon on a Sunday the facebook statuses of friends back home begin changing to dramatic drunken ramblings about how life, love, and humanity in general hate them because they're going home alone. On the flipside it can suck; one apparently math-challenged buddy texts me almost exclusively at 3am my time, and gets promptly pissed when I don't respond.  So I'm acutely aware of the difficulties of long-distance communication; anything more complicated than birthday wishes or sexts is rarely worth the time.

That makes The Conduits' work all the more impressive. In love with their track Up and Down, I was amazed to learn that Toronto-based Chris Postill and San Francisco-based Heather Mauch have never even met in person. They found each other on a musicians' website and decided to corroborate on one song. That song turned into The Conduits. 

Heather, Chris, and I shared a Moscow-to-Toronto, Toronto-to-San Francisco, San Francisco-back-to-Moscow interview to discuss it all. So what follows is really two interviews between three people who have never met each other.

Mr. Shuffleupagus
You have to admit that your system is unique. How do you do it? What is the system exactly?
Chris Postill: I’ll give you that it is slightly unconventional but certainly not all that novel an idea. I think a lot more people are doing this than it seems. The truth of the matter is that we don’t have a system at all, one of us comes up with something and sends it to the other, who adds something. We really haven’t discussed what our sound should be or any of that stuff; up to this point we have just dug what the other adds. I have no idea what sort of music Heather listens to.
Heather Mauch: Usually how it works is he sends me the instrumentals with light vocals in parts, and I fill in all the blanks. He is really quite talented! In any case, we pretty much just try to take it as it comes now.

Do you find the system works with or against the "creative process"? 
Chris: I think it’s great. When I sit down to work on a new Conduits idea I have this foggy idea of what we've made in the past and what I think Heather would like to build on; but seeing as I don’t know much about her at all, the Heather I’m trying to write for is just this ghost I’m guessing at and I think that’s where the fun comes from. The Conduits its sort of us both working with someone else who is a big bag of mysterious who-knows-what.
Heather: Haha, I agree. We both don’t know each other and are far apart, which as its plusses and minuses. In a sense, yes, we are both working off of our false perceptions of one another, but I also like to think that in some ways the music speaks true to who we are. If we weren’t somewhat similar, then we probably wouldn’t have been able to make good music, right? I think if we met we’d probably get along pretty well.

Did you think that the arrangement would last this long? Why do you think it has?
Chris: Nope! It was supposed to be one song. I think it has lasted purely because people seemed to dig what we made, which motivated us to want to make more. It’s good fun, people seem to like it, it seems worthwhile. I also have a crush on the way Heather sings…..
Heather: I am blushing! The good thing about this project is that we had no expectations for it – just two people who wanted to make music…and kept on doing so! So, flexibility has been key.

Finding yourself working so far apart, what do you think keeps you in sync?
Chris: Ahaha often times nothing. That’s probably the biggest obstacle. We both have lots going on and The Conduits often falls to the background. Every once in a while we catch each other on Gmail chat and say ‘We’ve got to make a new song’. It’s tough to both get on the same page at the same time.
Heather: Yeaaahhhh…I often times am apologizing for Chris for being so busy with school/work. Also, I let a friend borrow my mic and it got lost. Yikes! So I am working on getting a replacement ASAP!

The Impossible Question: How would you describe your sound?
Chris: Tinkery experimental pop. I am obsessed with found sounds, I go out at 3am when the city is quiet (and when I can get myself out of bed that early) and bang on stuff with my portable recording unit and then try and work those sounds into songs. I really want The Conduits to feel like we meet in some little nook tucked away in some corner of the internet and make music out of all the objects, toys, etc. that we find there. It’s a pretty romanticized image…
Heather: Romanticizing is okay as long as you are aware it is happening, I say. I’d describe our sound as innocent but not naively so; vivid, and awake. There is a certain quality to our songs that is very playful – but there are also darker undertones in the lyrics and whatnot. I think that is what makes them likeable – listeners can relate to either or both dimensions of the songs.

Cliched question that everyone wants the answer to anyway: where do you usually find inspiration? 
Chris: Always in the morning… I think I have mild OCD. I wake up and have too much coffee and then get excited about something. Then I’m stuck on it for days. I neglect my actual work (actual meaning, the stuff that pays my rent) because I get obsessed. Just trying stupid things and then trying to work those stupid things into sorta cool things. Simple answer, getting up early and copious amounts of caffeine.
Heather: I actually don’t like to force things. At all. If I do, then the song sounds rather silly and fully of clichés. I write whenever I feel the compulsion to, which isn’t every day at all – but here and there I think of little tid-bits while I am walking to school or to the coffee shop, and I jot them down on paper or write texts to myself on my phone. That way I know I can go back and gather up all the small pieces and make them into a bigger, more complete concept.

Who are you listening to right now? 
Chris: Older Mum (Icelandic band) stuff, trying to steal ideas for a new EP… Lately whenever lyric-heavy stuff like Leonard Cohen or Bill Calahan comes on at random, I’ll let the whole album play through. My old roommate and I have a weird soft-spot for Antony & The Johnsons that we’ve been reliving recently.
Heather: Been listening to Andrew Bird, Weezer, and Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. Also, I have been meaning to listen to more of The National – love his smooth, deep, rich voice.

Whose style/ trajectory do you admire? 
Chris: I like people who are subtle.
Heather: I enjoy subtlety as well, and tend to stray away from the radio. However, I don’t want to completely forget about the pop/mainstream of music, so every now and then I’ll tune in just to keep up to date. As for role models…or picking favorites even…I’m no good at that... I am always going back and forth with artists – for a while I was into Owen, Damien Rice, Iron and Wine, Against Me!, the Promise Ring, and others, and I would listen to them every day over and over. Now they are sort of background artists that I’ll revert back to as a sort of comfort food. I like to try to listen to new things every day, though. My boyfriend introduced me to some artists from the S.F. Bay Area from a label called Anticon Records...Check them out!

What do you think the most exciting current trend in music is? And the worst? What trends do you predict?
Chris: I really can’t comment. I’m sort of tired of hearing about Kanye being a genious?! There’s so much music being released that its become really easy to ignore the lemons. I think how your music is produced is becoming more and more something artists are playing with, and that’s sort of interesting.
Heather: The most exciting trend…hmm. I guess it would be the fact that the underdogs are starting to get more play. Take us, for example, a small band who uses the internet as our medium, and we’re getting blogged about all over the place. It’s weird, but also neat. The internet opens up a whole new door though…sometimes good, sometimes bad. But on the whole, it’s working for us, so that’s okay!

What advice do you have for other DIY artists?
Chris: We haven’t really been successful enough to offer any advice. Try to be experimental but not for its own sake?! 
Heather: haha, yeah I agree. Be humble. If you get too ahead of yourself…well, it might fall apart.

What are you planning for the future? Meeting, I presume? Then what?
Chris: We’ve actually never discussed the idea of meeting. I’m a bit afraid to. We might not get along?! I fear it wouldn’t be as fun to hear what Heather has come up with if I knew about her life and personality. Again that’s the romance of this whole project, right? I think we find this way of collaborating just as interesting as everyone else, so we might be a bit hesitant to change that....There will definitely be at least a new EP in the next little while. We've had a few quick chats about concept-ish albums.
Heather: I think we’d get along! I’d like to just keep going in the direction we are going. Experimenting! Taking it one song at a time.

And the Lightning Round:

Quick and honest--what's the last song you listened to?
Chris: “Girlfriend Is Better” – The Talking Heads
Heather: “The Lyre of Orpheus” – Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds

What is the first album you ever owned? And the last album you got?
Chris: I have no idea. I hardly know what I did yesterday… I remember a cassette tape when I was young with Crimson & Clover on it… I liked that crazy flangey tremolo guitar.
Heather:  Ummm…pretty sure it was Chumbawamba’s Tubthumper as my first album. Last album? Patti Smith’s Easter.

Musical era you'd most like to time travel to?
Chris: If I wasn’t also required to murder Germans in cold blood, I wouldn’t mind tearing up the dance floor to the Glenn Miller Orchestra with a hot tamale in the 40’s.
Heather: Hmm… I’m not really sure. The 60’s-70’s had some awesome music. I mean…disco! Also I love Cat Stevens and the singer/songwriter era.

Who is your favourite artist of all time?
Chris: I listen to a lot of music, much of which is bad.  Very tough. Tom Waits is my dad (of course he is pretty much everyone’s dad, isn’t he?). Howlin Wolf is my uncle... Thom Yorke is my asshole little brother…
Heather: Yeah, Tom Waits! Amazing. Like I said before, though, I am not good at picking favorites. I plead the fifth!

Do you have a musical pet peeve? Something when you hear it, you turn off the music immediately?
Chris: I hate generic lyrics; large abstract ideas... I’d rather listen to a song about your desk than your true love. I like music that has a lot of character about it, concrete real life stuff made poetic with music.
Heather: Generic lyrics definitely upset me, too. Stereotypical or egotistic vibes also frustrate me.

MP3s: Death of the music industry or music industry wild west?
Chris: I doubt we’d be releasing music at all if it weren’t for MP3’s so I guess its pretty obvious where our loyalties lie on that point.
Heather: I am very undecided about this…like I said before, and like Chris said, mp3s are how we get by. But I can see why those who came from before mp3s up to now would be pissed off...Every now and then I get the urge to load a real-life cd into my car stereo. 

Would you like to say hi to your parent/partner/secret crush?
Chris: My mum birthed me.
Heather: Matt! (My boyfriend) Hello.


My thanks to Chris and Heather for adding one more person to the musical daisy chain and taking on this interview. But not for reminding me about the existence of Chumbawumba. That song will never leave my head now.

To contact The Conduits:


And since today is Monday and we like covers here on Mondays, this is The Conduits doing Journey (available on the bandcamp)

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