pick a piper: all her colours.

Long story short: I’ve been waiting three years for Pick A Piper to release a full length album. And my dreams are coming true.

Pick A Piper - All Her Colours cover

I first wrote about Pick A Piper three years ago, and since then they’ve maintained a justifiable position of glory in my regular iTunes rotation. Created by Caribou’s Brad Weber, he oversees the highly collaborative outputs of Pick A Piper with friends like Angus Fraser, Dan Roberts and Ruby Suns’ Ryan McPhun. The first glimpse into the new record came two months ago with the release of Weber and McPhun’s track “Lucid in Fjords.”


Then the gifts kept coming, and three weeks ago they announced their first full-length LP “All Her Colours.” I mean, c’mon: the album has “colours” in the title. It’s like they’re doing this just for me! Though I fell in love with Pick A Piper because of their randomly complex beats and use of eclectic organic sound-makers (find me anything as dance-worthy that also has a glockenspiel in it, I dare you…), Weber has a deft ear and his recent shift to more production-based, synthetic sounds has only served to make the new tracks even more exciting. He’s playing again with one of my favourite themes in all of art – the digital organic – and here he creates, twists, delays and reverbs lines of aural magic that, though digital, sound like they were first formed in nature. The kind of fantastical magical nature you usually only to get to visit while dreaming or high or both.

I’ve waited to post about the new record hoping we’d get a video to promote the release, and today, oh happy day, they delivered a visual just as complex and interesting as their music. Directed and animated by Matt Yarrington and Sara Winters, the video for the album’s title track “All Her Colours” (with fellow Caribou member John Schmersal on vocals) is the perfect animated trip. Any video with a heroine who mixes her own potion in a blanket fort in the park and ends up riding prisms through outer space is right up my alley. I already loved the video, but I loved it more after reading some of Yarrington’s background for the vid as told to MTV Hive“It is intended to portray color and light itself, personified as a female human and broken into a collection of archetypal aspects of the ‘oneself,’” he says. “Each color is like a vital center of the whole. The shadow character is the negative aspects of a ‘Macrocosmic Oversoul,’ who, in an effort to harness the power of light and wreak havoc, has trapped ‘White Light’ in a prism and refracted her into the individual colors of the visible spectrum.” 

So, basically, I love Yarrington as much as Weber now.

“All Her Colours” is out on Mint Records on April 2 and is up for digital/vinyl pre-order now.

london grammar: hey now.

london grammar: hey now

2013 is only a few hours old and already it’s brought my favourite song of 2013. Funny how that works. I am riding tonight’s festivities into my bed and listening to one track, over and over, and it’s making my (new) year.

Out of nowhere comes “Hey Now”, the debut single from a enigmatic London-based trio London Grammar. I’m pretty good at the internet, but that’s all I can discover about them. Their YouTube has one video (a still of this one cover image over “Hey Now”), their Facebook says that they’re “recording”, and their Twitter basically says that… they’re recording. (Also, they tweeted at Sound of Arrows, so that’s a wonderfully good sign.) I’m complaining about none of this, because if they’re creating anything nearly as mystery-filled and infinitely listenable as “Hey Now” I am in desperate, desperate need of whatever it is. London Grammar… teach me music with words I don’t even know yet.

friendly fires + david lewandowski: hurting.

Friendly Fires are a reliable go-to, a steady member of a stable of cherished artists who I know will deliver how I like it each and every time. “Kiss of Life” is one of my have tracks ever, and it’s Chris Cottam-directed video makes me want to dance. While waving palm fronds around. I knew the Fires and I were on the same wavelength when they chose an image from Sølve Sundsbø’s Perroquet series as the cover for their 2011 album Pala (which, not to brag, but I totally blogged about back in 2008), so I knew we had the same taste in photography. Having the same taste in photography is like taking the carpool lane right into my heart. Click here to once again ogle its gorgeousness.

Today’s video for “Hurting” – the third single from Pala – is no visual disappointment. Sure, we’ve got a hot hipster broad/love interest with a disturbingly elastic neck, but the real draw here is lead singer Ed Macfarlane limping through his love and throwing his boogie down in an attempt (much like the mating dance of birds, which leads us back to parrots – I’m seeing a synergy here!) too woo her. And by “woo”, I mean “prove cool enough for,” because she kinda looks like a bitch. Which is really to say, if Ed Macfarlane wanted to dance with me, I wouldn’t say no.

There’s an easy urban whimsy going on here; it’s sunset-lit, street-wise and dance-y. And if you’re wondering why that cube is so next level good, look no further that director David Lewandowski, who, in case you don’t know, worked on a little piece of mind-altering, visual magnum opus/digital genius I like to call Tron: Legacy. (Say what you want about the plot, the 3D animation was without peer.) Click here to see some highly-detailed posts and videos about his work for that film.

+ via Antville

sticky monster lab: the loner teaser.

As Mrs. Peacock said during the dinner party in Clue, “I mean, I have absolutely no idea what we’re doing here. Or what I’m doing here, or what this place is about, but I am determined to enjoy myself. And I’m very intrigued, and, oh my, this soup’s delicious, isn’t it?”

So, soup aside, we find ourselves watching Sticky Monster Lab’s trailer for a “new animation and compilation album” called The Loaner. Much like Mrs. Peacock (and you’d be surprised how often I find myself genuinely thinking that), I’m very intrigued.

I’ve been a fan of designer toys and monster for as long as I can remember, and here they are: animated, in a digital world, living their lives. The ultra-digitized animation style is one of my favourites, and when it’s done as well as this I get giddy. These monsters are on point.

Alright, The Longe, I’m not sure what’s happening yet, but your teaser is triumphant. Consider me teased! I anxiously await the end of November 2011, when all will be revealed.

Also, I’m not sure who the loner’s little pink animal friend is, but it reminds me of that episode of Futurama where Fry finds out the dog he thought forgot about him spent the rest of his life waiting for him to come get him. It’s called “Jurassic Bark,” and if you want to weep until all your innocence is lost, I suggest you go watch it.

the sound of arrows: wonders.

Swedish 80s dream-pop duo The Sound of Arrows just tweeted the link to their latest video. “Wonders”, fresh of their just-released, highly-buzzed about debut full length album “Voyage,” delivers everything we’ve already come to crave from them. Long story short, they sound like unicorns playing synths riding through space dust, on their way to watch The Neverending Story with David Bowie. While drinking Crystal Pepsi… sitting on a couch made of clouds and dollar-store laser beams. Walkin’ on sunshine, and don’t it feel good.

I’ve had a mild to mildly unhealthy obsession with them since falling crazy in love with their video for “M.A.G.I.C.”

And, um, no big deal, but I’m now tweeting with them about the video. Day = made. Oh, and if you’re looking for me, I’ll be busy being friends with them now. Stefan and Oskar are stand-up gentlemen.

glasser: ring.

Never underestimate the power of good cover art. I might have passed over Glasser if I hadn’t been stopped dead in my tracks by the gorgeous cover, below, to her upcoming debut album “Ring.” And that would have totally been my loss, because Glasser is basically now my favourite new thing.

The home-project pseudonym of “one-woman orchestra” Cameron Mesirow, Glasser first got some buzz after releasing her debut EP “Apply” in May 2009. Recorded in Garage Band, she clearly showed right out of the gate a natural ability to make the rough edges endearing.

But “Home”, the recently-released first single from “Ring”, is what really got me excited. The audio evolution from her EP seems so natural and the imperfect wooden percussion; swelling synth chorus; swooping strings; and dreamy, chanty call of Glasser’s voice has been on heavy rotation in my brain since I first heard it. Like siren song, I can’t shake it. And that’s a good thing.

“Ring” comes out Sept. 28 from True Panther. Pre-order here.

Here are two grainy, misty, analog-feeling vids for two tracks from her EP “Apply”:

“Apply” directed by Jacinto Astiazarán

“Tremel” directed by Sarah Enid Hagey

Via Pitchfork.

s. carey: in the dirt.

Interesting that two of the freshest, most exciting new sounds I’ve heard lately are both from percussionists in established acts doing the solo thing. A few month’s ago was the first EP from Caribou drummer/percussionist Brad Weber’s side project Pick A Piper, and now Bon Iver’s drummer/pianist S. Carey comes to the table with his solo project “All We Grow.”

Coincidence? Methinks not. It feels to me like the percussionists think about music a little differently. Rhythmically, sure, but I think all that time spent, literally, keeping time, gives them a separate approach when they expand to creating the whole sound. With the best of rhythm – a pulse, a throb, a gait – that’s finally being allowed to express its own freedom and reach out.

The first track, “In The Dirt”, is percussive with the piano and dreamy throughout. Again, it has a tone that repeats but in a way that feels like coming back to something you love rather than being stuck in the same place. A fresh familiarity. It’s the difference being the sound of being home and the sound of just being.

“All We Grow” is out Aug. 24/10 on Jagjaguwar.

Via andrewformayor.

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great lake swimmers + nir ben jacob: river’s edge.

Worthy Polaris Prize-nominees Great Lake Swimmers are one of my favourite bands of all time.  Their music is like acoustic air. It’s billowy and expansive and makes you feel like flying. I don’t have enough organic expletives to express my love for it. If I ever get married, it will be to a track from their brilliant 2007 album “Ongiara.” I won’t say which one, because it’s mine, but if I ever have a boyfriend who figures it out I’ll go down on one knee there and then.

Their latest, 2009’s “Lost Channels” makes me feel everything good and slow in the world. It’s sunshine and fresh-mown grass and cold beer and long eyelashes and that feeling that when you’re done what you’re doing you’ve got somewhere better to go – all rolled into songs.

Matching the subtlety and earthy eloquence of “River’s Edge”, director and animator Nir Ben Jacob has created a video inspired, literally, by wood. Carved and thatched, the visuals unfold and evolve like building blocks and move in time with the track like musical carvings. The result is a gorgeous vid that reaches out, like branches, and wraps itself around you.

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I found this quote from Jacob on Video Static. It made me love the video even more:

“About a year ago I stumbled on these old wood-chip plate compositions my late grandfather made. They’re a beautiful example of early Israeli-Yemenite art. As soon as I saw them I knew I had to animate them. They had been in storage for decades so it meant a great deal to bring them out and breathe life into them. This was an opportunity to not only contribute to his work, but also expose it to the audience it never had. It is the official video.”

If you’re into Jacob’s style, then check out his equally killer vid for The Walkmen’s “On The Water”:

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eric whitacre: lux aurumque.

My head is filled with so many thing right now. This, hands down, is one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever heard. And the genesis of how it came to be makes it even more beautiful.

Los Angeles-based composer and conductor Eric Whitacre has taken the notion of crowd-sourcing to a new level. An artistic, sincere, sonically communal level. He used his blog, his Facebook page, and YouTube to audition hundreds of singers to virtually perform his newest choral work, “Lux Aurumque.” The chosen 185 vocalists, from 12 different countries, were sent the sheet music and each individually videoed themselves performing their part. Whitacre and his team then synched them together and created a video of a virtual choir, complete with all the singers, in video form, standing like a choir with a video of Whitacre himself conducting from the centre.

The result soars. There’s no other word for it. I pressed play and the world slipped by and I felt like I was nowhere and everywhere at once.

To me, the formation of the choir itself is such a lovely metaphor in itself: instead of just coming together vocally, this group was brought together across the means of separation that held them apart – distance, language, and the reality of their lives – to be brought together by a common love of singing and a common access to the internet. The digital world has the possibility to unite us in so many new ways.

Humbly, I don’t love the annotations at the beginning of the vid (I think they’re tacky and amateurish) and the purple and blue “lights” are sort of killing me (though I get that it’s reminiscent of choir theatre lighting, which isn’t always the greatest). I would LOVE to see what a real motion designer would do to create a visual interpretation of the virtual choir that’s as exquisitely haunting as the sound of it. For some reason, director Asif Mian is the first one that popped into my head. I’d kill to see Mian create a video for something like this.

Via Mashable

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pick a piper.

Caribou is easily one of the best things that’s happened to music in the last ten years. I remember where I was sitting the first time I heard “Melody Day” and tripped over myself to find out who was making that colossal, layered, glorious mash-up of sound. I didn’t think it could, but it gets better, courtesy of Caribou drummer Brad Weber…

Pick A Piper is a collective from Weber along with Angus Fraser, Dan Roberts, and Clint Scrivener. They leave no sonic stone unturned: flute, trumpets, glockenspiel, flutes, hand claps, bells, and basically anything you can hit to make a sound. But more than anything it’s the percussion assault that gets you. Their music doesn’t just have a beat, it’s multi-rhythmic. It’s expansive, it’s communal. It feels put together from the best parts of a bunch of disparate sounds that only make sense when they’re together.

It feels like it could be chanted. It loops and soars and doesn’t sound like it will ever need to stop, because it’s nothing as easy to know as lyric-chorus-lyric-chorus-bridge-chorus. It’s timeless, like it might have just been dug out of the ground, and it’s also joyous, like it might have been passed down to them from generations. It sounds like happily putting your arm around someone when you’re drunk and staring into a campfire.

So far they’ve only released a 4-song EP, I’ve listened to it constantly for two days. I demand a full-length album. …Please.

For now, stop what you’re doing and listen to my favourite tracks, “Dene Sled” and “Hallam Progress”:

Plus check out a grainy, colourful, almost pre-digital looking video, directed by Weber himself, for their single “Rooms.”

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