A Canadian Hottness Returns: Clues

Photo by Yannick Grandmont

Lately I had been pondering about where the best music this decade, and especially recently, had been coming from internationally. For most of the history of pop music, the UK has been the dominant country in producing the new hits. But around the time Nirvana and Seattle blew up in the ’90s, the tide began to turn, although even that decade still saw plenty of great acts spring up from the UK (i.e. Radiohead) to compete. Now as this decade begins to close, it is hard not to agree that while the US’s dominance may be waning in terms of economic power and such, we have become the empire of new quality music. There is still plenty of good new music coming from the UK worth checking out, but I wouldn’t even put them in the #2 spot anymore. America’s hegemonic musical dominance is now being challenged right across the border to our north, as Canada has become second in the world now when it comes to producing stellar tunes.

Certainly The Arcade Fire and Broken Social Scene are owed a lot to helping give Canada the cred they needed to become our partners in this indie music revolution, but a little, now defunct band named The Unicorns may be the most important band in Canada’s ascension to indie greatness. Unfortunately, the flash of brilliance that was The Unicorns didn’t last very long and the band broke up shortly after releasing their instant classic Who Will Cut Our Hair When We’re Gone? Nick Thorburn and Jamie Thompson (briefly) went on to start Islands and Thorburn has enjoyed success from that as well as plenty of other side projects, but there was another genius in that band that I hadn’t heard anything from until a few weeks ago. The new self-titled debut album from Clues sees Alden Penner return from obscurity again, and this time he is joined by a new cast including Brendan Reed, who happened leave his older band, The Arcade Fire, just in time to miss their meteoric rise to fame and glory with Funeral.

Whether you were a Unicorns fan or not, there is a lot to love on this new Clues album. I put it up there on the same level as the new releases from veterans like Grizzly Bear, Sonic Youth, Dirty Projectors, and St. Vincent as far as being one of the best records to come out in this Spring/Summer release season. Certainly those familiar with Penner’s previous work are going to hear obvious connections, but Clues is much more than Unicorns 2.0. It seems he has been able to mature as a songwriter without completely growing up and abandoning the magic that made him a superstar in the first place.

So I urge you to jump on the bandwagon with me now, and don’t forget that Clues will be at the Drunken Unicorn June 12th.

Clues : Perfect Fit

Clues : Cave Mouth

Buy Clues

Clues website

Video for “Haarp”:

“Remember Severed Head”:

“Perfect Fit”:

Bonus, here is some Unicorns jams:

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A Random Mp3 Trilogy: The Mars Volta, Islands/Beck, Sunset Rubdown

The Mars Volta @ The Tabernacle (9/24/08)

Octahedron, The Mars Volta‘s 5th full-length album, drops June 23rd and already a handful of tracks from it are floating around the web. Where Bedlam in Goliath was a successful continuation of their winning formula, this new album might see TMV take a new turn. Here is what Cedric Bixler-Zavala said about it:

“We always threatened we’d make a pop record. We wanted to make the opposite of all the other records we’d done. Sometimes it’s good to get rid of an old audience…because they know what to expect. And I’m sure whatever audience we get from this album, we’ll disappoint them with the next.”

I’m guessing there is a little sarcasm in that statement, although a few of the tracks I’ve heard certainly sound a little different. But I doubt too many TMV fans are going to be disappointed with the first single from Octahedron:

The Mars Volta : Cotopaxi

The Mars Volta myspace

Islands @ SXSW 2008

Another classic Beck album just got an expanded reissue. This time it was the 1994 K Records release One Foot In The Grave, which was recorded in Calvin Johnson‘s basement and features appearances from him as well as members of Lync, Built To Spill, and Presidents Of The United States of America. I absolutely love this Beck record, so I have been really enjoying listening to the reissue. It seems Islands are excited about it also because they recently posted a great cover of one of my favourite tunes from it on their myspace:

Islands : Cyanide Breath Mint (Beck cover)

Buy One Foot In The Grave Expanded Reissue

Buy Arm’s Way

Islands myspace

Beck myspace

Sunset Rubdown @ The Earl (9/24/08)

Sunset Rubdown‘s newest album, Dragonslayer, hits stores June 23rd, and from my first listen to it, it is going to be another amazing edition from Spencer Krug and company. But before I throw it in my heavy rotation and talk more about it, I still haven’t gotten over my obsession with their first record. I have been listening to it endlessly for months now after finally discovering it 3 years late, so here is the last epic track from it for you:

Sunset Rubdown : Shut Up I Am Dreaming Of Places Where Lovers Have Wings

Pre-order Dragonslayer

Sunset Rubdown website

Don’t forget Sunset Rubdown will be at the Drunken Unicorn June 16th.

Ohmpark’s Guide To Twitter & Musicians

The social networking website Twitter has blown up hard in 2009, so hard that it is already experiencing a Vampire Weekend-esque backlash. To illustrate just how intense Twittermania ’09 has been, the site grew by 33% in January, 55% in February, and 131% in March of this year. I first got introduced to Twitter by some of my tech savvy friends a little over a year ago, and back then having a few thousand followers was unreal, and now that douchey Punk’d guy is closing in on 2 million. But before the hype, the site started out as an efficient communication network for web 2.0, early adapter bloggy types. When I first started using it, the website would crash and go down every single day and i still liked it. Suddenly in 2009 the thing has gone mainstream with Oprah and CNN using it, so since I have been a fan of Twitter for some time now, I figured I would talk about how my music obsessed self uses it to help out the clueless.

First for the noobs, Twitter is micro-blogging. You post something that is 140 characters or less, and people “following” you can see what you post. It is basically a glorified status messages, like what Facebook, Gmail, or AOL use. Here is a good article tracing back the history of status messages. So what is so great about a status message website?

140 characters may seem like a small amount of data to be meaningful, but a tweet can pack a serious punch. Sure there are people who tweet some really boring garbage, but, you don’t have to follow them. And yes, the word “tweet” gets really annoying fast, but there cool things possible with it. I’ve seen news stories broken by people on twitter because other journalists couldn’t get access (think Gaza, India, Madagascar). Thanks to url shorteners, Twitter is used heavily to refer people to more extensive content of interest. If you are following the right people, you basically have an RSS feeder with editorial. In otherwords, Twitter helps you keep up with all the cool things going on in Internetland. For example, I follow many larger music news sites on Twitter, and those sites tweet about news stories I am interested in so I don’t miss anything.

Probably my favourite thing is, unlike Facebook and Myspace, Twitter connects people based on the content of what they are talking about, rather than static information contained in a profile. I don’t know about you, but most of my Facebook friends end up being people I already know in real life, like random people I barely even knew in High School and could honestly care less about now. I have rarely, if ever, made a new, worthwhile connection through Facebook. In contrast, most of the people I follow on Twitter I did not know before I connected with them in the virtual world. I have made so many great connections with interesting people via Twitter who I wouldn’t even know existed without it.

With respect to bands and musicians, there is a lot of potential in Twitter. Fans always yearn to have meaningful connections with the artists they love, and with technology those artists can give their fans unprecedented access. A great example of getting the most out of new/social media was Deerhunter‘s utilization of a blog, which expanded their fanbase and strengthened the connection between them and the fans they already had. Exactly how artists can make Twitter work for them will depend on the creativity of the artist in using it, but there is no doubt in my mind that many artists will benefit from using it. Others agree.

So for those of you that are either artists looking for good examples of how to use Twitter, or you just want some cool people to follow, here are my favourite 3 tweetmaster musicians and why I enjoy following them:

Edward Droste of Grizzly Bear @EdwardDroste

Droste seems to be the most genuine, accessible musician on Twitter. He talks about random things he and the band are doing. He actually responds to random people. He’s everything a stalker could hope for. One of the fun recent things followers have been able to enjoy is his attempt to get Snoop Dogg to remix/collaborate with Grizzly Bear:

Just gonna keep trying to get snoop’s attention with my twitter spirit. Where there’s a will there’s a way. Right @snoopdogg?

It is really meta to stalk someone as they are stalking someone else.

Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails @trent_reznor

It is hard for me to think of another musician who I enjoy hearing talk about things more than Trent Reznor. He always has a very insightful opinion. He also utilizes technology better than anyone, so naturally he is a Twitter superstar. He has been giving away backstage passes to fans via Twitter. He has been talking about his struggles with Apple over a NIN Iphone app. Here are a few choice tweets:

Kutcher / King / DiddyDumDum on CNN doing everything in their power to make Twitter seem as un-cool as possible.

…now maybe I shouldn’t have taken that fourth viagra…

starting to lose control of body functions, may have just pulled a Fergie and peed in my pants a little.

Nick Thorburn of Islands @NickfromIslands

My favourite twittering artist is Nick Thorburn. He comes up with really random, hilarious things to say that make me laugh out loud all of the time. The dude could be as good a comedian as he is a musician. Recently he posted a bunch of fake covers to the next Islands record:

http://twitpic.com/3xi7n – NEW “ISLANDS” ALBUM COVER + TITLE REVEALED!!!!

http://twitpic.com/40c0m – “ISLANDS” NEW ALBUM + TITLE REVEALED FOR REAL THIS TIME!!!!!!!


Here are some other funny tweets:

Went to the extenz party at sxsw last night, and i thought that the line up would have been, you know, bigger

Apparently if i go to exit 27, make left, go to roses parking lot and leave lights on, i will get a blow job.

I’m so behind the times I just now got a case of the SARS

Fuck, you know you’ve made it when Denny’s is following you.

Ok, so if you are into music and are looking for some folks to follow, here is some reference material for you:

International/National artists I recommend following:

Akron/Family @akronfamily
Andrew Bird @andrewbird
Blitzen Trapper @BlitzenTrapper
Evangelicals @evangelicals
Final Fantasy @owenpallett
My Brightest Diamond @zosima
Pearl Jam @PearlJam
Sonic Youth @thesonicyouth
St. Vincent @st_vincent
The Decemberists @colinmeloy
Tokyo Police Club @TokyoPoliceClub

Atlanta Bands on Twitter:

Adam Bruneau of Kiwis @adambruneau
All The Saints @allthesaints
Attention System @AttentionSystem
Attractive Eighties Women @aewsome
Club Awesome @clubawesome
CJ of A Fight To The Death @mediahostage
Dead Confederate @DeadConfederate
Dres Tha Beatnik @dresthabeatnik
Eric of From Exile @ericguenther
Janelle Monae @JanelleMonae
Judi Chicago @JudiChicago
Jungol @Jungol
Le Castle Vania @LeCastleVania
It’s Elephant’s @Itselephants
Lions And Scissors @lionsandscissor
Nerd Parade @nerdparade
Nerdkween @nerdkween
Tealights @TealightsBand
The Constellations @_constellations
The Orphins @The_Orphins
This Piano Plays Itself @ThisPianoPlays
Thy Mighty Contract @thymighty
Today The Moon, Tomorrow The Sun @TodaytheMoon
Venice Is Sinking @veniceissinking

Atlanta Music Scene Tweeters I Recommend Following:

Atlanta Music Guide @atlantamusic
Bean Summer @Beansummer
Cable & Tweed @cableandtweed
Criminal Records @criminalrecords
Dominick Brady @DomBrady
Drive A Faster Car @driveafastercar
Drunken Unicorn @drunkenunicorn
Eskimo Kiss @eskimokiss
Fear Of Arthropods @juliareidy
Have You Heard @adamtrimble @usersname
Indie ATL @indieATL
Indie Music Tech @duncanfreeman
Kiss Atlanta @kissatlanta
OK Productions @OKProductions
Pine Magazine @pinemagazine
Premier Events @premierevents
Star Bar @StarBarAtlanta
The Earl @EARL_EAV
The Happenstance @thehappenstance
The Leila @theleila
Ticket Alternative @MyTATix
Tight Bros Network @tightbros
Vacation Gallery @vacationgallery

And obviously, we are tweeting too:

Davy Minor @Ohmpark
Clint Miller @badclinty

I’m sure I’m leaving some folks out, so who do you like to follow on Twitter? Leave your suggestions in the comments…

My Favourite Songs of 2008: Ohmpark Mixtape #6

So here is a playlist comprised of many of my favourite songs from the year. Not all of my favs are here, but I think all of the essentials are in it. I tried my best to build this as a flowing playlist more than just a collection of songs, so the order and even some of the selections reflect that. I really need to do more mixtapes. Based on Hypemachine/elbow popularity, I know everyone loves that Fleet Foxes song, but I decided instead to treat you to a better song from one of the bands that FF is ripping off. Anyways, here is an hour and half of the best songs of 2008. Jam them hard while you can, because in about 3 days they aren’t hip anymore:

Islands : The Arm
Sigur Ros : Gobbledigook
Atlas Sound : Recent Bedroom
Kaki King : Life Being What it Is
MGMT : Weekend Wars
Department of Eagles : No One Does It Like You
Animal Collective : Water Curses
Antony And The Johnsons : Another World
Mount Eerie w/ Julie Doiron & Fred Squire : Voice In Headphones
My Morning Jacket : Touch Me I’m Going To Scream pt. 1
Beach House : Used To Be
Portishead : The Rip
Summerbirds In The Cellar : Now We Are Ugly Inside
Hot Chip : One Pure Thought
M83 : Kim & Jesse
Bon Iver : For Emma
Plants And Animals : Guru
Destroyer : Shooting Rockets (From The Desk Of Night’s Ape)
Deerhunter : Nothing Ever Happened
…And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead : The Betrayal Of Roger Casement And The Irish Brigade

Corndogorama 2008 Friday (Day 2)

After late starts from the Ohmpark crew all around, we raced through thick Atlanta traffic to make it in time to catch Twin Tigers. It was an intense drive across the city that included me lighting my hair on fire with a malfunctioning cigarette lighter, but we were jamming the new Sorry No Ferrari CD I picked up at their show Wednesday night, and it was the perfect soundtrack for the journey. We arrived just in time and I really loved Twin Tigers. They sort of reminded me of Deerhunter a bit. Very nice shoegazey stuff with everyone trading off vocals. Very much a highlight of the day for me.

Click here to read the entire post…

What Up In The ATL?

Corndogorama is the best local music fest in Atlanta, so that is the biggest deal this week. We will have our guide to Corndog’ soon, but there is also a ridiculous amount of other great shows going on in town this week, so here’s some:

Tonight I urge you to catch Times New Viking, The Preakness, Gold Painted Nails at The Earl.

The Preakness : Demons

Wednesday night I’m going to catch the Russian Circles, Daughters, Sorry No Ferrari show at The Drunken Unicorn.

Daughters : Recorded Inside A Pyramind

Thursday night Daniel Johnston will be at The Variety Playhouse.

Daniel Jonston : True Love Will Find You In The End

Friday night Islands will be at The Masquerade. It is also the last ever night of Decatur Social Club. I’m going to try and hit both of those and Corndog’, so that should be a long day and night.

Islands : The Arm

Saturday night Frightened Rabbit will be at The Drunken Unicorn.

Frightened Rabbit : The Modern Leper

Sunday night you can catch Zechs Marquise (featuring members of The Mars Volta) and 13 Day Mission at an early show at The Ozone Lair.

A Random MP3 Trilogy

Here are a few of the hott tracks rolling around the big series of tubes:

There’ a new Beck album produced by Danger Mouse about to hit stores soon. Rumours say it could suddenly drop from the sky like In Rainbows or the new Nine Inch Nails albums, but not necessarily for free. It is tentatively titled Modern Guilt and is supposed to have a ’60s psychedelic feel. I’ve even heard rumours that Cat Power appears on it. I’m excited:

Beck : Chemtrails

Ratatat is another great artist with a new release dropping this summer. Everyone I know has fallen in love with these guys since their 2006 Classics blew up. In addition to creating high quality, crowd pleasing original instrumental jams, they do some stellar remixes, Volume 2 of which you can download for free from their myspace. LP3 hits stores July 8th, and here’s a preview:

Ratatat : Shiller

Finally, I have been jamming the new Islands album, Arm’s Way, hard since it came out yesterday. It certainly has its share of flaws, of which most everyone reviewing is paying a lot of attention, but there are a plethora of amazing things going on that have me hooked. Just like how many people who loved the Unicorns didn’t like the direction Islands took things originally, many people who were really into Return To The Sea may not have wanted them to go they way they did for this one, but if you take it for what it is, it kicks some major ass. They just did a Daytrotter session, including a Brian Eno cover, that you can check out here, but here’s a really different version of “The Arm” from it:

Islands : The Arm (Daytrotter session)

Albums I Love: Return To The Sea

After catching Islands a couple of times at SXSW, I have been on a serious tear with them lately. There is something special about an album that I can legitimately get obsessed with two seperate times. From the ashes of The Unicorns when Alder Penner left the band, Nicholas Thorburn and drummer Jamie Thompson formed Islands in 2005, and they recorded this instant classic album. Featuring guest appearances from members of Arcade Fire and Wolf Parade, I think that Return is a paradigm of how great music has become this decade. If you’ve never tried this one out, jam these tracks and videos and then go pick it up:

Swans (Life After Death)

Of course the reason I bring this up is because Islands are about to release their follow-up album to this one, Arm’s Way, on May 20th. Jamie Thompson left the band between the two LPs, so now Islands seems to be completely Nick Thorburn’s own project now, with a retooled band around him that sounded incredibly tight at SXSW. Here is another track that is floating around the Internets from the upcoming album:

I’m getting very excited about this one. The Islands are on tour as of next week and their last date is here in Atlanta on May 26th at The Masquerade. Don’t miss it. Here is the new album cover to ponder:

Videos: Islands at SXSW (3/13/2008) Cedar Street Patio

If there is one band that SXSW got me re-obsessed with, it is Islands. Return To The Sea has been back in my rotation and I am eagerly awaiting the new album. Here are some vids from one of my favourite shows in Austin:

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SXSW 2008 Day 2: Thursday

Yesterday I started my day at Emo’s, but it was so crowded and I wasn’t really digging the bands I heard so, I dipped out across the street to the Brooklyn Vegan party at Emo’s Annex (there are about 700 different Emo’s venues) because the BV party the night before was so much fun. I caught a band called WHY? that was pretty good.

After that, I decided to just walk up and down the main strip and listen to the music coming from each bar and try to discover some bands I hadn’t heard of. Outside some Irish pub I heard a really intriguing band, so I went inside to check them out. It was a band from Dublin, Ireland called Delorentos. They were total dance-rock, like Bloc Party before they started getting all soft and lame. I got a live video, but Google video is acting hella lame today, so I can’t post the plethora of vids i took yesterday until a later date. But I did manage to find their official video(although I don’t think it is their best song):

After some more walking around I heard another band that sounded promising from a dive called Agave. The Brooklyn, New York trio Appomattox rocked really hard, doing loud post-punky rock.

After that it was time to head back to the Annex, where I caught Men, members of Le Tigre doing the laptop DJ thing. The day before, me and Biggie C were discussing this new trend where bands go DJ and how most of the time they aren’t that good at it, but this was an exception as they rocked the dance floor hard.

After that, it was time for Phosphorescent, one of the artists I was most excited about seeing at SXSW. He put on a great performance, doing much heavier versions of his stuff than I would have guessed considering how soft and low-key the album is.

Near the end of the show, I noticed Matthew Houck kept looking at someone in the crowd and cracking up laughing. I finally heard someone screaming stuff at him and turned around. It turned out to be Miles Seaton of Akron/Family acting like he was an obsessed fan. For the Phosphorescent finale, he came down into the audience and sang to the Akron/Family boys:

After that, we stuck around and caught Holy Fuck. I’m not much of a dancer and these days it takes something really special to get me to throw down, but Holy Fuck is just the perfect combination of dance music and noise for me to get really into it. You ATLiens who will be around town on Monday really need to go down to The Drunken Unicorn and catch them playing with A Place To Bury Strangers and Atlanta’s badasses All The Saints.

After a short break in the onslaught of great shows, I went and caught Islands. They played almost nothing but new material, and it sounds great. I took a ton of videos, so expect those to show up here sometime in the next few weeks.

After that, it was on to Mohawk’s patio to catch one of then night’s best line-ups. I got there just in time to catch the end of another Phosphorescent set, where he closed with a 10 minute vocal looping jam. After that, I discovered another great act from California called Bodies Of Water. Really cool stuff with lots of vocal harmonizations. They will be at The Earl Monday night with Sons And Daughters so there is another hot Atlanta St. Patty’s Day show you can catch.

Then it was time for Evangelicals. I have been in total love with their new album, so I had been really hyped up for this show. They did not disappoint. They came out with massive blacklights and a fog machine, dressed in a style that was half goth, half candy-raver, and went through songs off the new record. Again, expect many live videos to pop up around here in the near future.

Next up on the outdoor stage was Bon Iver. They went through a handful of the beautiful songs on For Emma, Forever Ago, and wow did they sound good. If you have yet to pick up this album, you are missing out.

After that, we switched up things entirely by seeing Indian Jewelry. I would describe their sound as Liars meets Atlanta’s Subliminator. It was a spectacle of strobe lights and minimalist percussionists that were there more to dance than to make music. Very interesting show.

We closed out the night at Emo’s Outside stage. I got there just in time for the end of Islands’ set, but this time they closed with the amazing “Swans (Life After Death)”. Unfortunately, the one dark moment of the entire festival came as some sound guy walked out on stage with a few minutes left in the song right and the PA shut off. They actually cut off their last song. Nick Thorburn found a microphone that was still hooked into the PA and yelled “Fuck SXSW!” Everyone started booing, it was a crazy scene.

After that debacle, We ended our night with an awesome set from Austin’s The Octopus Project.

It’s on to more music, so I’ll holla at you later.

Friday Free-Style

My number one favourite musician, Jim O’Rourke, has a new album coming out this year! He is also reissuing some old stuff. We will celebrate with some Videos:


Performing “Not Sport, Martial Art” & “Fuzzy Sun”:

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