Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Unthemed Valentine

>> Featured Artist: Immaculate Machine

A small band out of Victoria, British Columbia (Canada) brought into the Toaster's horizon when they were opening the bill for The New Pornographers on their fall 2005 tour. Their site claims they're known for their "engaging" live shows, more than a bit of an understatement. The audience doesn't know who (s)he should be watching -- the guitar player (Brooke Gallupe) who attacks the mic with his vocal delivery as threateningly as any indie-pop rocker should, the shyish but quirky keyboardist (Kathryn Calder, who is not only Carl Newman's long-lost niece but also the vocalist who will likely fill in for Neko Case for the NPs non-Neko live shows) or the shirtless, show-stopping show-off of a drummer (Luke Kozlowski).

Their 2005 release Ones and Zeroes proved poppy enough for our tastes, but a little thinner and more hollow than the "engaging" live show. It almost feels like a rocked-out Mates of State at points, which is not at all conveyed on stage. On the whole, it's solid, infectious pop à la NPs that make for a damn-good listen. "Phone No." is one of the best on the album, second only to Toaster 2005-charter "No Way Out."

The Toaster especially like the chorus lyric: "Call me up when the feeling strikes you / I'll call you up when I've got nothing to do."

>> Album Lookout: Super Extra Gravity

The Cardigans - Released: Oct. 17, 2005 (Europe); TBA (U.S.) Universal International

The Toaster never really got into the Cardigans back in their American heyday. And until the end of last year, we could have sworn they had either disbanded or died in the same plane crash that took Aaliyah from us. Apparently not.

"I Need Some Fine Wine and You, You Need to Be Nicer" comes out of the school of thought that songs with longer titles not only make the music blogs go bats (So much typing! Well, Cardigans, the Toaster has called your bluff), but also require smaller fonts on the back of your album cover.

It's also the first song the Toaster has posted in which the lead singer issues a number of instructions to the listener as if (s)he were a dog. All we know is this is not what we remember thinking the Cardigans sounded like back when they graced VH-1. And it makes Mister Toaster upset that it's now been four months since the album was released in Europe -- and still no progress on setting a U.S. date?

Now this rocky-glossy little number has been making its way on the Internets for months and even made some year-end lists. The Toaster issues it here in the hopes that it's not that long before Super Extra Gravity makes it into your neighborhood record store (which, for 98 percent of our readers, is Wal-Mart, Best Buy or your turnpike travel plaza of choice).

If you want to buy this album now, you can. Just be prepared to pay that extra shipping (literal shipping...it's got to cross the ocean).

>> Reverting to: 1969

Back when Mister Toaster worked at a record store, one of his bosses made the brash statement that the Kinks were the Beatles except without all the shiny packaging. And, in fact, that made them better than the Beatles.

Clearly, Mister T did not react kindly. It was two years before he actually bought a Kinks album.
While they're no Beatles (come on!), they have made some of the Toaster's Hall of Famers ("Waterloo Sunset," anyone?). Meanwhile, "Victoria" has been stuck in our heads for days. Enjoy.

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