Weekly Last FM Roundup! New feature!

A few years — and websites ago, TWM had  a weekly piece, written by Terri, called Track-Fu.  It consisted of Terri to about 30 minutes worth of tracks and writing reviews of them, eventually picking a winner and a loser.

The feature was quite popular, but as TWM grew and the site changed, we just couldn’t keep it up.  But in light of my new love affair with Last FM I thought I’d bring something like it back.

Here is how it is going to work: I’ll go to the Last FM page for a random band that I like and click their radio player.  That will then play songs for me that the site has associated with the band I choose.  I’ll write about the songs that come up here.  Could be cool, I think.  Today I used Black Hat Brigade‘s radio player.  I hung out with them on the weekend and so they were fresh on my mind.

Cancel the Astronauts – Country Song: Synth-heavy indie pop from Edinburgh.  Maybe too synth heavy? When the synths kick in, they are easily the loudest thing you can hear, but they are otherwise non-existent throughout the rest of the song.  I also am not thrilled with the vocals here.  This song is alright, it just isn’t making me want to run out and spend a bunch more time checking out their other tracks.

And Selby Jase – My Pills and Slack: A very dry, almost spoken style of delivering the vocals throughout.  Digging the piano part quite a bit.  Sort of has hints of the National mixed throughout, I think.  This is definitely a song/band that might not immediately stand out to you, but I could see it really growing on me.  I’ve always enjoyed this singing style.  Added them to my library, see if it develops like I think it might.

The Amsterdams – Taking Care of Anna: This band hails from Bucharest – interesting!  This isn’t drastically new; it is very Franz Ferdinand-sounding to me.  Still, just because it is derivative does not mean it isn’t worth listening to.  What’s the last good band you’ve heard from Romania?  I’ve never heard one, and these guys are tight and very catchy.  Nice guitar build-up leading into a call-and-response style vocal at the end.  First track on this list I”m going to love.  (“Loving” is how you let Last FM know that you dig something.)

Our Books and the Authors – Kids: Super-long band name and four-letter songtitles sometimes bugs me.  This is an act from Montreal who put a debut about a year ago.  Never heard of them before.  Songwriting style is a bit pretentious.  You could argue that about a lot of music out of Montreal, but when they do it right that pretentiousness is actually a good thing for the song.  This guy has said “it’s cold outside” about 30 times.  Not very good.

Coco B’s – Bluebird: Has a bit of an Elliott Smith style to the vocals that I pick up right away.  This is a nice way to start.  Reading about the band, they’ve been working with one of the Two Gallants on production.   Two Gallants are a criminally underrated band, in my opinion.  These guys are a bit older than your typical up-and-coming indie band, so it makes sense that they often get compared to stuff like the Lemonheads.  The Lemonheads are that generations Wolf Parade or Arcade Fire.  Song ended too quick.  Would like to hear more, so I added them to my Library.

The Burning Hotels – Yellow Eyes: I like the band name quite a bit, but this is another very derivative-sounding, dancey indie-rock band – except this one has more of a Killers thing going on than a Franz Ferdinand.  That is even worse.  Clearly Last FM files Black Hat Brigade under dance-rock because their player is firing off a lot of songs like this.  Well, aren’t I smart?  Reading about the band, their EP was mixed by a guy from the Killers.  I basically hate this song/sound.

Alvarez Kings – The Sequel:  This is brand spankin’ new music right here from the UK.  Haven’t put out a debut anything as of yet.  But they did play SXSW, so they must have friends in the right places.  Nineteen-year-old Dan would have liked this alright, I think.  But 28-year-old Dan prefers songs that have something unique about them.  Another dance-rock song, but none of the ones I have heard have been as snappy or catchy as the Amsterdams were.

We’ll Make it Right – Some Day: Well, this sounds nifty.  Quirky pop, jazzy vocals, bizarre background doo-wop style vocals.  Apparently the album was recorded in a week in Amsterdam.  The vocals sound pretty female, but my crack research team (me) has found out they are male.  This is snazzy, though I do wonder if repeat listens would show that I’m more into the quirkiness and that the substance ultimately isn’t that strong.  But I’m willing to find out.  Add to Library.

The Balconies – Lulu:  Well, anyone reading TWM who doesn’t know about the Balconies is probably reading the wrong website.  This is the first band that Black Hat’s player has given me that I’ve actually seen live before.  The Balconies played their first Toronto show at Rancho via Sari Delmar’s AudioBlood showcase.  They were awesome then, and it was easy to imagine them becoming fixtures in the local music scene.  A few short years later, they are buzzing harder than anyone.  This isn’t my favourite of their tunes, but it does show the range of the band.  The recording is top-notch.

Oberhofer – I Could Go: Solo, electronic heavy indie-pop from Tacoma.  Song started and I figured it was an instrumental-electro act a la Fourtet.  But now it has broken into Wolf Parade-style vocals.  That is a cool combination, actually.  This is the closest sounding band to Black Hat Brigade that’s come up so far.  This is why Last FM is so friggin cool.  Song could potentially use a bit more variation in the vocals.  But that’s nitpicking.  I loved it.  Wonder if I could book it?

Round Up:

Tracks Loved: Oberhofer – I Could Go, The Amsterdams – Taking Care of Anna

Added to Library:  And Selby Jase, Oberhofer, We’ll Make it Right, the Amsterdams

Tracks disliked: Alvarez Kings – The Sequel, The Burning Hotels – Yellow Eyes


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