Monday, June 4, 2012

TotW: Youth Without Youth

It's true that Metric's albums seem to burn fast and bright for me, but while they do... what a sight. That said, I've loved every little sound bite that has come from their forthcoming album, Synthetica (out June 12), and I've been really enjoying their previous album, Fantasies over the last week, so maybe they're just more of a seasonal band for me?

Whatever the case, this new, heavy -rockin' track, Youth Without Youth isn't so much an evolution as it is a union of the band's earlier, almost punk, sound with the electro -heavy beat of their most recent album. Although it comes in at just under four minutes in length, it's driving drum beat never lets up, so it feels more like a two-minute attack. Emily's vocals are up front in the mix, which is just perfect here.

The band is promoting some sort of "internet hide & seek" game right now in anticipation of the album and there have been tons of audio snippets released over the last month or two. They've made the cover of Exclaim! magazine this month, and the article that goes with that coveted spot discusses a lot of the 'making of' kinda details for this new album.

It sounds like another strong release from this band. We'll find out for sure next week... but until then, give this track a listen (if you haven't already).

» Listen: Metric - Youth Without Youth

Wednesday, May 9, 2012


Here's something that'll make your head spin, just a little... you know how when you're taking a photo you need to focus your image before you take it? What if you could leave that decision to after you'd taken the shot? What if you could decide to re-focus a picture you'd already shot? Enter the Lytro light field camera.

The secret to this idea of focusing and re-focusing an image after it's been shot is in the way it's shot. I'd try to explain in my own words, but I think the website does a better job of it:
Recording light fields requires an innovative, entirely new kind of sensor called a light field sensor. The light field sensor captures the color, intensity and vector direction of the rays of light. This directional information is completely lost with traditional camera sensors, which simply add up all the light rays and record them as a single amount of light.
So, with all of this data stored in this image file, you can adjust the focus -- quite dramatically -- after you've taken the shot. Both the blog for this product and the how-to videos talk about staging a photo or looking for a specific type of shot to take to get the most out of this camera... it's not the sort of thing that works well when you take a picture of two people standing next to each other against a wall, for example. You need to establish the various depths-of-field in the shot in order to really see it work.

Monday, May 7, 2012

TotW: Ropes That Way

So, getting back out of that dream-pop, electro-pop vibe that I've been featuring here for a few weeks, let's pick a bit of a sludgy blues-rock track.

Enter the Dirty Ghosts. I don't know a lot about this band -- okay, almost nothing -- but I like what I'm hearing. I'm a sucker for this dirty, muddy guitar-tone and the female vocals are perfect on this track; raw, honest and just a little strained. There are a lot of sounds and instrumentation going on here and there, but it never seems forced or overwhelming. As a whole, the song has a great, steady driving beat to it that just pulls you along and that chorus -- "...and I'll never gonna leave you with a rope " -- just gets lodged in your ears for hours.

It sounds familiar and fresh at the same time; it's got a bit of a 90s grunge sound, without sounding re-hashed. It's a great song to crank on your way to the beach or a night out. And, if you still enjoy music videos, this one has officially been posted to YouTube for your viewing pleasure.

» Listen: Dirty Ghosts - Ropes That Way

Monday, April 30, 2012

TotW: White Doves

Disco. There, I said it. But never forget that the classic, Pink Floyd's Another Brick in the Wall (pt. 2), is also recorded with a disco drum beat... and, I mean even the Glee kids got over disco the other week, so you can to.

That said, while Toronto's Young Empires obviously has disco influences, this isn't some sort of nu-disco EP. This song, White Doves, the lead single from the band's 7-song EP, Wake All My Youth, is perhaps the least disco-esque track on the album, but it's got a great summer, pop-dance, electro- groove that just carries you along for a few minutes. A perfect 'summer night' song for the coming season. The vocals are just right in the mix, not too hard to hear, but not over-powering the song either.

Looking at the last few TotW posts, I'm obviously on-board with this electro-indie-pop sound that is happening right now; if you haven't jumped in yet, this is as good a track as any to start with. You can stream the whole album on the band's website, or check out most of it on their Radio3 band page (linked below).

» Listen: Young Empires - White Doves

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

TotW: Be Patient

I am swamped at work and have no time to be writing this, and it's Tuesday (not Monday), but this song/album just has taken me by storm. It's fantastic, and I don't even think I know why.

This self-titled debut from Paper Beat Scissors came out a few weeks ago, and I heard a track on the Radio3 "New Release Tuesday" show that liked... but then I don't remember having heard it again until last Thursday, just before the long (Easter) weekend.  And then, I heard it again this morning and have found it streaming on-line and not stopped listening to it.

I've seen it listed as a folk album, but it's certainly not your grandfather's folk music.  Tim Crabtree himself (aka, Paper Beat Scissors) claims to be an 'electro-hobo from Nova Scotia'... and this seems much more fitting. While it's certainly not rock music, it's an inviting mix of acoustic guitar, electronic ambiance and haunting vocals.

There are a few tracks up on the artist's Radio3 page, and you can heard the whole album through Tim's own page (via Bandcamp, it appears). So, do yourself a favour and go take a listen... it's a wonderful album and I think it promises amazing things in the future.

» Listen: Paper Beat Scissors - Be Patient

Monday, March 12, 2012

TotW: The Kids Were Wrong

This is totally one of those songs that just crept up on me. I heard it, kinda liked it... then heard it a few more times, still enjoying it... then found myself singing/humming it... then I had to hunt it down and buy the album.

Memoryhouse are art-/space-pop duo, composer Evan Abeele and photographer Denise Nouvion, from Guelph, Ontario. According to the band's bio, the project started out as a creative outlet for the two of them; more of a multimedia music+imagery project than a 'proper' band.

Given their background, it's not surprising that they've crafted this wonderful, ethereal look and feel to everything they do. All of the album art, the photos on the new website, etc., all have this fantastic otherworldly feel to them; this haze that just makes it look dreamy. It's also a perfect companion to their music. This isn't rock 'n roll by any means.

Simple drum beats sit behind layers of synth and reverb- and chorus- drenched guitars, all supporting Denise's bright, simple, honest vocals. It's certainly not as slow as some dream-pop out there, which is nice. It's not rushing anywhere, but it's not simply floating along either. There is a lofty, positive vibe to everything going on here, which is great. As I said off-the-top, this was a band who I've been floating along with for a year or more, but this new stuff just got under my skin, in a good way. For comparison, sound-wise, I would put these guys in the company of M83 and/or B.C.'s Teen Daze, if that's any help.

» Listen: Memoryhouse - The Kids Were Wrong

Wednesday, March 7, 2012


I've been using an Android -based phone for a few months now; I finally upgraded from my old QWERTY phone that had treated me so well for 3+ years as part of a family-wide phone update. However, it occurred to me that I had yet to feature an app here, of any sort. So, let's change that...

...introducing: Pixlr-o-matic, part of the Pixlr family of photo editors by Autodesk Inc. (makers of AutoCAD, 3DS Max and Maya). Although recent reports of Instagram coming to the Android platform seem more believable than all the previous reports, I stopped holding my breath a long time ago. So, in my search for a similar app, I found this one.

Unlike Instagram or other popular camera apps, this one is based on post-production of an image, rather than in-camera, on-the-fly editing or manipulation. At first, I wasn't really sold on this idea, but in hindsight, I'd much rather have a 'true/clean' copy of the image that I can later layer effects on, than only having the one distressed, bordered image that I can never clean-up or apply different effects to.

It's a simple enough application to use, having three layers of effects that you can choose to apply to any photo in your gallery: colour overlays, lighting effects and borders. Each one of these layers has a number of selections from which to choose; the app has also recently added a large number of additional layer sets (e.g., soft colour overlays, fire lighting effects) that you can install, from within the app, for free. When you've decided on how you want your image to look, you can save it back to your gallery as a seperate file. This app does lack the dedicated on-line social media community that Instagram has, however, you can choose to share your finished photographs through a number of existing services.

Furthermore, if you were a fan of Picnik (on the web) previously, you've no doubt heard that it's being closed down (on April 19, 2012, and absorbed into Google+ somehow); if you like what you see in this Android app, Pixlr is on the web too and includes many more features that you can enjoy and experiment with.

It's a free, ad-free, download on the Android Market (and is also available for iOS). Go check it out!

» Found at: Android Market - Pixlr-o-matic