Friday Freebie: A Frightened Rabbit EP

Frightened Rabbit, one of our favourite bands right now here at Cool Kids, have released an EP for your listening pleasure for FREE! You can get it here in exchange for some info. The EP has three tracks, and exhibit the softer – though typically introspective – side of Frightened Rabbit. The best of the lot is “The Work,” which features Scottish folk legend Archie Fisher. Enjoy!

45 rpm: “England” – The National

At the close of 2010, I named Kanye West’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy as the best album of the year. However, ten months into 2011 the album from last year that seems to get the most play around this house is The National’s High Violet. In many ways, High Violet‘s best track, “England,” is the ultimate National song. It begins slowly, moodily building toward a raucous, muscular refrain that is as cathartic as it is catchy thanks to the band’s tight arrangements (and Brian Devendorf’s propulsive drumming). Matt Berringer’s vaguely Stipian lyrics are are typically opaque, evoking grand images of cathedrals, angels, London, and Los Angeles. Breathtaking stuff.

45 rpm: “Akira” – Mishima

Taking their name from the Japanese poet/author/playwright/actor/filmmaker, Waterloo/Toronto-based band Mishima announce themselves with a confident swagger on their debut single “Akira.” With its immediate and rushing chorus of “ain’t nobody gonna slow me down!” the track is a synth-driven funk-workout that moves like a freight train. Reminiscent of Afrika Bambaataa’s “Renegades of Funk,” “Akira” is a cool, cocky, 5 minute sexy dance party. Mishima will be playing at the El Mocambo in Toronto on August 12 with The Ascot Royals and Love Banshee.

45 rpm: “Daydreamer” – Menswear

During the heyday of Britpop, every week there were seemingly endless numbers of like-sounding bands coming out of the woodwork. Menswear were signed to London Records after only three (3!) shows, and their full-length debut, Nuisance, appeared in late 1995. They gained their share of notoriety and detractors by appropriating not only the sound, but the looks of their betters like Blur and Pulp (actually, lead singer Johnny Dean kind of looks like Elastica’s Justine Frischmann). The single “Daydreamer” may be derivative of these bands, but it’s undeniably brilliant. Despite making minor waves with other singles such as “Sleeping In” and “I’ll Manage Somehow,” the band faded into obscurity, and their 1998 follw-up, Hay Tiempo!, was released only in Japan. As it stands, Menswear hold a place as a punchy, 2-minute footnote in the annuls of pop music.

45 rpm: “Every Teardrop is a Waterfall” – Coldplay

If you know me, you know I am not a fan of Coldplay and their brand of white wine/dinner party rock. I do not like Chris Martin’s “rock star” posturing and the fact that he’s married to Gwyneth Paltrow (who cannot cease to annoy me). So this is just an excuse to harp on them, really. This new single, “Every Teardrop is a Waterfall,” (which, as a friend and colleague pointed out, is a punchline in itself) from their forthcoming album sounds as though they’re continuing down the path of 2008’s Viva la Vida. Sounding like some amalgam of Joshua Tree-era U2 and Dream Acadamy’s “Life in a Northern Town,” the video for “Every Teardrop” has an appropriately 80s feel to it, intentional or not. The funny thing is, despite its calculated nostalgic sound and overwrought, goofy, cheeseball lyrics (“I’d rather be a comma than a full stop!”), it doesn’t sound half bad. Actually, it probably would sound pretty good on the radio in 1988 sandwiched between “Life in a Northern Town” and “Where the Streets Have No Name.” Alas, this is not 1988 and I do not listen to the radio, so I’ll probably forget about “Every Teardrop is a Waterfall” and put some U2 and Dream Academy on my iPod.

45 rpm: “Go Home and Dream” – Trap Tiger

Southern Ontario thought-pop/indie group Trap Tiger released one of 2010’s most ambitious (and best) albums with Twisted Shapes. Even with their intricate arrangements on tracks like “Go Home and Dream,” the band never gets wrapped up in naval-gazing or showing off, always keeping a keen eye on their pop sensibilities.

On the Record: Trap Tiger – Twisted Shapes

Trap Tiger are self-proclaimed purveyors of “thought pop,” the kind of smooth indie rock crafted by Minus the Bear or Portugal. The Man, but in a strange way this band is more accessible. Their debut LP, Twisted Shapes, follows their audacious EP Lush Jungles (which is just one marvelous 10 minute track), and expands the band’s sound. Twisted Shapes is a warm and inviting record, all of the tracks are easily accessible, but not in a grating, calculated way; the songs evolve organically and logically.

Twisted Shapes offers a terrific run of four tracks, from “Rattle Me Bones” through “Away with Words,” (the magnificent) “Opera House,” and “Master, Equalizer,” which showcase the band’s off-kilter and unobvious pop sensibilities; the multi-part vocals and harmonies are unpretentious and draw listeners. Yet, the standout track is the epic “Love Riot,” with its sexy guitars and slow-burning build up into a crescendo gang vocals and trumpets. However, Twisted Shapes works best as a whole, almost to a fault. Most of the tracks seamlessly segue into each other, making it difficult to distinguish when one song ends and another begins. Though, this is neither here nor there because being a singles band may not be Trap Tiger’s intention.

It’s a testament to Trap Tiger’s abilities and professionalism that the band sounds so in synch on their debut, effortlessly blending different styles and influences (check out those Jaguar Love “oh oh ohs” on “Master, Equalizer” and the Attractions-styled handclaps and keyboards on “Opera House”), and yet are not derivative of them. Twisted Shapes is an ambitious and accomplished debut from a band with a bright future.

Check them out here:
http://traptiger.com/
http://www.myspace.com/traptiger
http://www.facebook.com/traptiger
http://www.last.fm/music/Trap+Tiger
http://www.sonicbids.com/traptiger
http://radio3.cbc.ca/bands/Trap-Tiger
http://www.purevolume.com/traptiger