Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Architecture in Helsinki Gets a Contact High

Architecture in Helsinki is back! In late 2008, just over a year after their last album, they released “That Beep”; it caught my attention as I kept hearing it in clothing stores everywhere (??) and I hoped it was the sign of a new album on the horizon. But, time went by and I thought maybe they did make a new album and it got lost in some record label's internal warfare or something, like I've seen happen to many a good album. I still have no idea what happened, but here's “Contact High”, the lead single (technically the second single) off their new album, Moment Bends. Which, by the way is amazing—see the preview below...

Architecture in Helsinki - Contact High (YSI)
BONUS: I just posted the guitar tabs for “Contact High” at UG.

And here's the video, weird and modernist, a perfect fit for the song.

Album Preview
The new album, Moment Bends, plays like they brainstormed some ideas and settled on “let's make it sound like a greatest hits package, except all the songs will be new and ridiculously catchy.” It feels like almost everything on it could be a radio single, but at the same time, all the songs have a different feel, almost like they were from different eras. For example, I'm listening to “B4 3D” right now and it's kind of a mellow 80s ballad with synthy basso profundo vocals. Now I'm listening to “Escapee”, an almost excessively catchy twee-ish tune, despite the fact it has no real chorus. And now I'm listening to “Desert Island” which has dominating synths and an (obviously) tropical feel to it, with a surprising climactic build at the end.

There's enough catchy songs to spready over a decade of albums. They should have called it “Greatest Hits of This Album”. Moment Bends drops everywhere next week, on May 3!

Architecture in Helsinki is touring at home in Australia and then North America over the next couple months. They're stopping in Vancouver on June 5th and I can't wait!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Two Door Cinema Club at Venue

Two Door Cinema Club, young indie rockers and one of the best things to come out of Ireland lately, made their way to Vancouver's aptly named Venue, a music venue that's done a great job of helping the Biltmore pick up the slack left by the closing of Richard's on Richards, but has as much character as its name. Whatever, no one goes to a rock show for the decor, though it does enhance the mood a bit. I don't know why I'm even mentioning this, but I guess I've been going to the Biltmore and Commodore more lately, both of which have a bit of character and history to them.

Speaking of history, Two Door Cinema Club released their debut album Tourist History last year, after making the rounds on music blogs when they signed with the French fashion-label-gone-record-label Kitsuné two years ago. They became a staple of the Kitsuné Maison at the same time Kitsuné was becoming a staple on the bleeding edge of new music trends. Now they've jumped the puddle to North America and have just finished up their first headlining tour here, ending at Coachella.

Two Door Cinema Club's unique glistening electric rock sound is formed around guitarist Sam Halliday and his magical fingers. Have a listen and see (hear) what I mean. It was recorded at the same studio as Phoenix's last album, Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix, and produced by Cassius, who is also responsible for Chromeo's latest album.

The show got off to a mellow start as the young band members, on their virgin American tour, carefully worked the crowd. Bands always seem surprised at how many fans they have up in Canada, but Vancouver always brings it. By the fourth or fifth song, the band had left the awkwardness behind and found their groove. Singer Alex Trimble seems like a shy ginger kid at first, but damn, in the world of indie rock, his voice is transcendent. He is the only ginger with a soul.

During the show, I kept thinking about what I was going to write, when in the world of music, Two Door Cinema Club isn't all that unique and doesn't really stand out in any way. By the end, I realised the way they stand out is not by doing something different, but by doing what they do and being amazing at it. It was like when my friends ask me, “Why do you always order a burger when we go out?” “Because I like burgers and this place does them really well.” I was well satisfied.

If you're in the UK or Europe, check out Two Door Cinema Club at your nearest summer music festival, including Reading and Leeds, Radio 1's Big Weekend, Isle of Wight and Glastonbury.

Ok, I was just about to give you a sample of Two Door Cinema Club, but I literally just got a message as I logged in, saying my posting of their song “Something Good Can Work” from over two years ago was just deleted for infringement. So, sorry Kitsuné, I love you guys and I know you love when we share your music—music blogs got you where you are today—but apparently IFPI doesn't approve.

So here's a sweet remix and a video instead. Disco electro treatment by Mustang and a nice summery video of Two Door Cinema Club's first hit.

Two Door Cinema Club - What You Know (Mustang Remix) (YSI)

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Foals, Freelance Whales and The Naked & Famous at The Commodore

This will not be a concert review of Foals, Freelance Whales and The Naked & Famous.

It's good to be back, Vancouver! I've been on a break, and I was going to return the other night with a (hopefully) fantastic review of one of the Commodore Ballroom's best lineup s this year: Foals, Freelance Whales and The Naked & Famous. But, the night before the show, I was informed that the people organizing the show had cut the entire guestlist. They gave me no explanation, so I imagine they had somehow determined that insulting the press was worth a few extra ticket sales. So, I got to miss one of my most anticipated shows of the year, while my friends, who bought tickets after I introduced them to the bands, went to the show without me. Them's the breaks when you're dealing with the jerks who run the music business. (Except publicists! I love publicists. Their job is literally to make everyone happy; bands, fans, record execs and journalists.)

Now that you know why I don't have a live review for you, there are still three bands that deserve your attention, so I'm going to give them some track reviews instead.

The Naked & Famous - Girls Like You (YSI)
I really should be introducing you to this Kiwi indie rock band with “Punching in a Dream” or “Young Blood”, the two songs that earned them many fond comparisons to MGMT. But, I have played those songs to death, so here's one with a little less radio flavour and a little more beauty. “Girls Like You” builds slowly over three verses before it hits the epic chorus of Thom and Alisa harmonizing with “Don't you know people write songs about girls like you?”

And, here's the really random, low-budget video they made for “Punching in a Dream”.

Freelance Whales - Generator ^ First Floor (YSI)
This band has a lot of variety, blending each song into a different ratio of electropop, indie synth-rock and folk. I suppose I would call them baroque pop—a rock band that likes to use tingly synths and folk instruments like a banjo, a harmonium and a glockenspiel. This song is famous from a Starbucks commercial, so not much more needs to be said. It's unique and it will stick in your head.

The sequel, “Generator ^ 2nd Floor” has a strange and enchanting video. Check it out.

Foals - Miami (YSI)
I still have no clue what "math rock" means, but I'll speculate that the geniuses of Foals devised a secret formula for creating a raw, sexy beat. The “Miami” video is less than sexy, but in a cheeky way. But, I can't show you the video here, due to the bumbling executives at Warner Music Group, so you'll have to find it on your own.