June 23, 2016

Today' Hotness: Eros And The Eschaton, Ghost Orchard, Landing

Eros And The Eschaton -- Weight Of Matter (detail)

>> Inspired dream-pop concern Eros And The Eschaton's second LP, due later this summer, is heralded by the surprisingly brash and altogether thrilling preview rocker "Rxx." After a bright, uptempo introduction, the song deftly shifts into a spiky, punky verse featuring an arresting vocal by co-founder Kate Perdoni, whose delivery ranges from delightfully bratty to pensive as she mythologizes a restless life on the road and the band's conception (at the climax she erupts "I started this band from a traffic jam when I was trying to find my way back to Canada!"). Formerly based in North Carolina but now operating out of Colorado Springs, Colo., Ms. Perdoni and partner Adam Hawkins now count among their number drummer Alex Koshak, bassist Ryan Spradlin and keyboard player Mitch Macura. The quintet's forthcoming album Weight Of Matter is said to be strongly influenced by Neil Young & Crazy Horse, but if "Rxx" takes a cue from Mr. Young's wide-ranging career, it would have to be Young's weird, new wave and experimental pop phase (he was a proponent of and sometime collaborator with DEVO, our older readers might recall). Even that feels a stretch, though, and it really makes no difference, as "Rxx" is so potent a single that it needs no RIYLs to prop it up. While the subdued dream-pop of songs like "You Know I Do" and "Don't Look So Sad" from Eros And The Eschaton's early day feels remote here, the big dynamic drumming, anthemic synth lines, spindly guitars and rich feedback in "Rxx" make for a very potent sound that presents exciting opportunities for the band. Bar/None releases Weight Of Matter Aug. 19 on vinyl and CD and pre-orders are being taken for the set right here. The band celebrates the record with two shows at the end of August in Colorado Springs and Denver and also performs in Denver this Saturday; all dates available at press time are listed below. Stream "Rxx" via the Soundcloud embed below. In related news, Weehawken, NJ-based Bar/None this past March celebrated its 30th anniversary, a very notable achievement indeed, and there are retrospective blog posts and a link to a label comp that are definitely worth checking out right here.

06.25 -- Denver, CO -- Westword Music Festival
07.30 -- Denver, CO -- Underground Music Fest
08.05 -- Colorado Springs, CO -- Fine Arts Center
08.26 -- Colorado Springs, CO -- Flux Capacitor (Record Release Show)
08.27 -- Denver, CO -- Larimer Lounge (Record Release Show)

>> Grand Rapids, Mich.-based Ghost Orchard's latest set, Bliss, is a veiled and smothered bedroom dream-pop wonder that has already soundtracked many a late night to devastating and lonely effect. Led by Sam Hall, the project enlarges the scope of similarly bleary solo work of artists like Astrobrite, Atlas Sound and the recently reviewed Flout for an adventure in woozy, driving sound design, not to mention yearning and youthful lo-fi contemplation. Short and sweet songs like "Seperate" and "Sorry" pair distant percussion to textured and tasteful guitar chords for a contemporary take on the "hypnagogic pop" genre which came to the fore with rise of Ariel Pink and other deconstructed songsmiths. Mr. Hall's mid-range vocals serve as another yawning instrument more than a direct lead, but his pleasant tones nonetheless complement the auditory universe he contrives. Loveless-styled instrumental segues bookend "I Saw You Floating," "Sleepover" and "Wisher," and these run into other pieces, adding to the intimate, toy-instrument song-cycle vibe conjured here effectively. While this style of music has been tackled by many, Hall's inoffensive and rounded mid-heavy production and original instrumentation prestidigitate a boyish wonder that circulates through much of Bliss' 13 songs, making the collection an ideal choice for lazy, searching summer evenings. Take this moment to act decisively, however, as Orchid Tapes' recent second pressing of 100 cassettes is likely to disappear as quickly as this piece can be read. Do it: grab Bliss now on tape or as a digital download right here, lest you have to wait for round three. -- Edward Charlton

>> While the name of Connecticut-based drone-rock four Landing has registered on this reviewer's radar in years past -- perhaps due to its prior association with labels as esteemed as K and Geographic North -- its music had eluded our ears until the recent lead-up to its latest album, Third Sight. That collection hit racks earlier this month on CD and green vinyl LP via El Paraiso Records, but indeed the band's legacy stretches back almost two full decades to 1998. Third Sight is a four-song platter of head music characterized by a psychedelic and ambient narcotic lull, one akin to those conjured by legendary hitmakers Spacemen 3, Stars of the Lid and The Warlocks. Landing achieves this through the use of pristine and full production, as well as a distinct, major-key howl. The collection, recorded as part of El Paraiso's Impetus series, aims for the tranquil yet hallucinogenic side of Landing's sound with protracted, ruminative songs and serious pedal work. The lead preview track "Delusion Sound/Third Site" (split into two tunes on Spotify) presents soft, delayed vocals that intertwine within a drift of synthesizer patches and slow-burning feedback. "Facing South" highlights spewing, long-timed drone pedals and bongo-esque percussion to establish a meditative, instrumental trance, while closer "Morning Sun" aims for middle ground between the two, before female vocals pour a little bit of light into the composition. Much of Third Sight comes across as tempered experimentation and improvisational, but the focus with which Landing tackles its craft makes for a compelling album that, we'll speculate, likely sounds massive on vinyl, the manner of consumption this music seems clearly intended for. Order Third Sight here or check out Landing’s impressive and substantial body of work at their Bandcamp page. -- Edward Charlton

June 17, 2016

That Was The Show That Was: Destroyer | Oval Space, London | 15 June

That Was The Show That Was: Destroyer with Ryley Walker | Oval Space, London | 15 June

[PHOTO: Theo Gorst for Clicky Clicky] Vancouver indie rock luminaries Destroyer arrived in London Wednesday for a sold out, one-off show that is likely to be one of their last in support of 2015's excellent album Poison Season. Since the set's release, the consistently evolving now-octet has developed a live set it hardly seems possible to better. This reviewer would be tempted to say this is what 20 years of touring does, but only a foolish man would try to finitely categorize a project that is constantly shifting in form and style. Indeed, the Destroyer that ruled the stage at London's Oval Space this week is markedly different from its initial lo-fi iteration, which was responsible for 1996's We'll Build Them A Golden Bridge. Mercurial mastermind Dan Bejar writes lyrics awash in irony, contradiction and potent symbolism, and at turns Wednesday evening he appeared to embody all of these.

Like the songs themselves, Mr. Bejar's performance is both louche and pained. On "Song For America," a standout tune from Destroyer's tremendous 2011 collection Kaputt, the band locked into a gently propulsive groove as the fronter sang to the assembled Londoners, "I wrote a song for America, they told me it was clever, who knew." As he ended the line, Bejar swept his arm across the stage with the flare of a classic rock 'n' roll showman, a gesture further emphasizing the brilliant irony of the line. The theatrical turn was immediately juxtaposed by his next move: kneeling and obscuring himself from most of the crowd.

SImilarly, throughout the evening Bejar conducted himself as a self-conscious performer given to bouts of showmanship. The occasional extroversion was occasionally physical, but predominantly vocal, as he chose to pack the bulk of his theatrical impulses into his words. During "Savage Night At The Opera," he was almost spitting them out, while still savoring their grandiosity: "Let's face it, old swords like us have been born to die, it's not a war till someone loses an eye." When he led the crowd to the song's climax, singing "drop the loop and then go wild," the band took over as a buccaneering guitar solo accelerated above tranquil keys. Better still was Bejar's muttered "aw shit here comes the sun," during a thumping rendition of "Dream Lover." As the trumpet rose to crescendo upon crescendo, Bejar muttered and then yelped the line. His appearance was as de rigueur indie rocker –- skinny jeans and a loose fitted shirt –- but he sounded like a matinee idol worn down by serial nights of excess. When the band glided through "Girl On A Sling," it felt as though Bejar should have worn a bow tie and double-breasted blazer. The song's extended intro permitted the flautist and trumpeter to display magnificent musicianship, and their notes were looped and distorted through various effects creating a soundscape that mutated from ambient to glitchy while remaining captivating and bold.

The performance of "Chinatown" established a hazy, midnight ambience, a feeling accentuated by lazily strummed acoustic guitar and lonely-sounding saxophone. Elsewhere, the confession "listen, I've been drinking" during "Bay of Pigs (Detail)" felt illuminating; it fit perfectly with the band's smokey-bar-at-midnight aesthetic but also spoke to Bejar's stage persona: a reluctant performer propelled by occasional spells of Dutch courage. While the band often luxuriated in glorious melancholy, it also elevated moments to the point of celebration, exploding into joyous peaks with dueling trumpet and saxophone. Such was the case on first song of the encore, "Painter In Your Pocket," as well as "European Oils." These older songs fit seamlessly within a set that otherwise drew predominantly from Poison Season and Kaputt. Given Bejar's bent for experimentation, it will be fascinating to see where the band's next album takes them. Wherever that may be, assuredly it will only add the mystique the songwriter has created for himself both on record and on stage. -- Theo Gorst

Destroyer: Facebook

Related Coverage:
Clicky Clicky Music Blog's Top Albums 2000-2009
Remarks: Destroyer, Iran, Wooden Wand
Today's Hotness: Destroyer
Today's Hotness: Destroyer

June 14, 2016

Noise-Pop Titans Johnny Foreigner Mark Tenth Year With Colossal Fifth LP Mono No Aware, Due July 8

Johnny Foreigner Announce LP5 Mono No Aware

Birmingham, England guitar-pop legends Johnny Foreigner Monday disclosed they will release Mono No Aware, the fifth long-playing release of its decade-plus career, in the UK July 8 via long-time label partner Alcopop! Records. In the wake of some distro tomfoolery, the quartet revealed the album and its title last month, but few details were available. The news promises to continue to trickle at least for another week, as a message at the band's website suggests a new single, video, and "commerce" (we presume this means pre-orders) will arrive June 20. The same web site refers to Johnny Foreigner's album as arriving in "Summer 2016," so it is entirely likely that release dates for other territories -- the US release will be handled by Philadelphia's Lame-O Records, and the Japanese release by Vinyl Junkie -- will be staggered a bit. Noticeably absent at this point is format information, although a scan of certain gun-jumping ecommerce sites leads us to believe Mono No Aware will be available on LP, CD and as a digital download. Don't count out Disposable America for a tape release, eh guys?

The album's title is loosely translated from the Japanese as "the pathos of things," and relates to an awareness of impermanence that -- according to this blog's executive editor's wide-ranging liberal arts education -- has been a key aspect of Japanese literature and art for roughly the last half-millenium, from The Tale Of Genji to ukiyo-e and manga. Wikipedia breaks it down, dryly: "mono no aware has frequently been translated as 'the 'ahh-ness' of things', life, and love. Awareness of the transience of all things heightens appreciation of their beauty, and evokes a gentle sadness at their passing." Given the tone and content of fronter Alexei Berrow's recent revealing interview with Upset Magazine, its use as the title to Johnny Foreigner LP 5 feels perfectly suited. The record contains 10 tracks, its songs are concerned with the wonderful and terrifying stuff of life, and were inspired by, well, that stuff. A press release announcing (quietly, and basically only to those who found the link on the band's website, which appeared about a week ago) Mono No Aware describes it thusly:
"Johnny Foreigner is Us, the musical. We're not the type of band to spin our personal delights and disasters into PR angles, but it’s all there in what we create. There's births and marriages and drama and death. The casual horror you somehow just get used to in your 30s, and the moments of bliss and clarity you don't (and hope you never do)."
Mono No Aware will be celebrated with release shows in Birmingham and London July 8 and 9 respectfully. The Birmingham date will be particularly amazing, as supports for the evening include Sunshine Frisbee Laserbeam. The track listing from the album is below (there are bonus tracks, but you'll just have to wait to hear about those). Particularly clever fans will note the song that in effect opens the new record, "Undevestator," would seem to reverse the spell cast by the closer of Johnny Foreigner's no-shit-taking tour de force You Can Do Better, which was released in 2014. Mono No Aware is all killer and no filler, and we look forward to you all hearing it. It's the record of the summer, and ever after, amen. In the absence of a new song to share at press time, we're embedding below "Flooding," a rocker from last year's tremendous four-way split on Alcopop! and Dog Knights Productions.

1. Mounts Everest
2. Undevestator
3. I Can Show You The Way To Grand Central
4. The X and the O
5. Don't, Just Don't
6. Our Lifestyles Incandescent
7. The Worst Of Us
8. Into The Veldt
9. If You Can't Be Honest, Be Awesome
10. Cliffjumper
11. Decants The Atlantic

Johnny Foreigner: Bandcamp | Facebook | Internerds

Prior Johnny Foreigner Coverage:
Postscript: Johnny Foreigner's "Stop Talking About Ghosts" Review: Johnny Foreigner | You Can Do Better Review: Johnny Foreigner | Names EP
Review: Johnny Foreigner | Johnny Foreigner Vs. Everything
Cut The Rope And Jump Off: Johnny Foreigner On Alternate Timelines, Optimism And Everything
Review: Johnny Foreigner | Certain Songs Are Cursed EP
Review: Johnny Foreigner | You Thought You Saw A Shooting Star But Yr Eyes Were Blurred With Tears And That Lighthouse Can Be Pretty Deceiving...
Review: Johnny Foreigner | Grace And The Bigger Picture
Review: Johnny Foreigner | WeLeftYouSleepingAndGoneNow
Review: Johnny Foreigner | Waited Up 'Til It Was Light
Review: Johnny Foreigner | Arcs Across The City EP
That Was The Show That Was: Johnny Foreigner | Bowery Ballroom

June 13, 2016

Today's Hotness: California Snow Story, Dikembe,
Gold Muse

California Snow Story -- Some Other Places (crop)

>> It's been nigh on a decade since we last had something substantive to say about indie pop luminaries California Snow Story, but that's not because we took our eye off the proverbial ball. Indeed, the Scotland-based act has been on hiatus pretty much since we first wrote about them here in 2007. But its timeless, genteel pop has stuck with us, particularly 2007's terrific tune "Suddenly Everything Happens," so our desire for new California Snow Story material has never waned. We were jazzed to see bread crumbs on social media late last year suggesting the band's return, and said return transpired late last month, when its winsome, understated sophomore long-player Some Other Places arrived. The set opens with the breezy strummer "Motorway," whose instrumentation and poignant melancholy establish an appealing mood that persists across every one of the albums' 10 tracks. Escapist reveries and optimistic longing rule the day, something underscored by even the song titles: "Our New Sun," "Her Ocean Airport," and "Railway Station," to pick a few. That latter track is an album highlight; it foregrounds acoustic guitar, and its simple vocal harmonies and electric leads tidily punctuate a perfect pop gem whose cool air echoes -- among other things -- the sound of contemporary groovers Ultimate Painting. California Snow Story was formed in 2001 by Camera Obscura co-founder David Skirving, who was later joined by Spanish vocalist Sandra Belda Martãnez, Japanese keyboardist Madoka Fukushima and, occasionally, drummer and vocalist Melanie Whittle. Shelflife Records released Some Other Places as a digital download May 27, and it can be purchased via California Snow Story's Bandcamp wigwam right here. The band has indicated a release on vinyl remains a possibility, so keep an eye on its Facebook page. Shelflife previously issued the band's One Good Summer EP in 2002; the band's debut LP Close To The Ocean was released on Letterbox Records in the UK and Philippines in 2007. Stream all of Some Other Places via the embed below.

>> Due to work commitments, the mighty Dikembe's new releases and tours tend to come at this time of year, something that helps set a rhythm to our modern lives. So there was a certain satisfaction that accompanied the news that the Gainesville, Fla. emo goliaths will release next month a new LP Hail Something, the band's third and its first to be released domestically via its own Death Protector Collective subscription service. The set was preceded by a flexidisc single touting two ferocious album tracks "All Wrong" and "Awful Machine." "All Wrong" is remarkably effective given its concise build and straightforward, three-chord foundation; Dikembe's finely tuned dynamics and fronter Steven Gray's mournful growl apply all the color the song needs, and the results are spine-tingling. "Awful Machine" stretches out a bit further and touts chugging guitars and splashy cymbals. But its fine appointments in the second half -- the dry acoustic guitar and the undertow of delayed and reversed guitars -- proclaim the strength of the quartet's composition. A third new tune, "Just Explode," is also streaming at Bandcamp, and you should be able to listen to all three via the embed below. If you'll indulge the tangent, artist-based subscription services are something that we've followed (and certain of our esteemed colleagues including the great Koomdogg have written about) since the turn of the century. In those early days, technical glitches created hurdles to providing really fulfilling digital subscriptions, but the march of technology would seem to have alleviated most old concerns. So in a way it is surprising more artists don't avail themselves of this type of platform, and we're hopeful to see more efforts like Dikembe's emerge. Hail Something will be released in the U.S. July 12; the set will also be issued on Dog's Knight in the U.K. and Lost Boy in Australia. Lucky American fans will be able to see the act perform live during an 11-day jaunt that kicks off July 18 in the nation's capital; full dates are posted below. We previously reviewed Dikembe's debut LP Broad Shoulders here in 2012 and sophomore set Mediumship right here in 2014.

07.18 -- Comet Ping Pong -- Washington, DC
07.19 -- Aviv -- Brooklyn, NY
07.20 -- Amityville Music Hall -- Amityville, NY
07.21 -- PhilaMOCA -- Philadelphia, PA
07.22 -- The Mr. Roboto Project -- Pittsburgh, PA
07.23 -- Mahall's -- Lakewood, OH
07.24 -- Downstairs (at SubT) -- Chicago, IL
07.26 -- Nostromo -- Nashville, TN
07.27 -- The Shark Tank -- Tallahassee, FL
07.28 -- Loosey's -- Gainesville, FL
07.29 -- Will's Pub -- Orlando, FL

>> Boston noise-pop leading lights Gold Muse recently released to the wilds of the Internerds a third digital single, just in time to help promote their very enviable slot opening for Philly 'gaze gigantes Nothing at Cambridge's Sinclair last weekend. Both new numbers, "Trick Of Time" b/w "Waves," are jarringly urgent, pretty, dark, and bracing. Continuing a trend first charted on "Kiss The Sun" earlier this year, the visceral rocker "Trick Of Time" features increased vocal interplay between Deb Warfield and guitarist Dan Parlin. That said, no song element is superfluous, and every one feels necessary: Justin Lally's syncopated drumming, William Scales' rapid-fire bass line, the skeletal guitar, the bending synth tones. At greater than six minutes, "Waves" is the foursome's longest foray to date, and it manifests certain of the band's post-rock impulses. The rhythm plods at first, the arrangement -- anchored to a dry acoustic guitar -- is spare, and the vibe is morose. But Ms. Warfield's simple organ enters at the midpoint and transforms the song into a rarified elegy that suggests turn-of-the-'70s Pink Floyd in the best possible way. It's a new direction, and both songs present exciting new ways forward for Gold Muse. Moreover, the release represents a bit of a departure for the band process-wise, as these are the first songs the band recorded with area hit-maker Brad Krieger. Indeed, the sessions, if memory serves, were the last done at Hanging Horse studios original Norwood, Mass. location. There hasn't been any indication of when Gold Muse's next release or live performance will transpire, but we will certainly keep readers apprised. In the meantime, listen to the terrific "Trick Of Time" b/w "Waves" via the Bandcamp embed below.

June 7, 2016

Premiere: The Rutabega's Ruminative, Majestic "Lip"

Premiere: The Rutabega's Tempestuous Epic 'Lip'

South Bend, Indiana-based pair The Rutabega makes music that answers the musical question "why don't people make music like that anymore?" Not that the band's very appealing sound is dated. Indeed, despite undercurrents of earnestness and optimism -- of the sort that marked a certain stripe of DIY two decades past -- it can't be accurately termed a throw-back, either, especially given the fact that the long-running project founded by guitarist/singer Josh Hensley has been doing its thing for 15 years. Most of that time Mr. Hensley operated The Rutabega as a sole proprietor, and he drew acclaim in the early aughts via a split EP with Owen that made its way to Polyvinyl in 2004 (only two 12"s left at press time!). Five years ago The Rutabega doubled its population with the addition of spitfire drummer Garth Mason, and the band's purview expanded more than commensurately. It is downright witchery that a two-piece band can create music with such epic grandeur. Part of that can be attributed to big arresting melodies that echo hitmakers including The Wedding Present and Guided By Voices, and part to the intoxicating degree of vim present in the tunes.

What excited us most about The Rutabega's forthcoming fourth long-player, titled Unreliable Narrator and due later this month on Comedy Minus One, is the band's fearless willingness to go long. Rounding a tad, half the record's eight numbers meet or exceed the six-minute mark, and its massive emotional centerpiece "Lip" swells and sighs across nine terrific minutes; we are pleased to premiere that particular song for you today. The panoramic composition gently sparkles through its ruminative first quarter, then spreads figurative wings in ensuing sections haunted by dense shimmer here and motorik minimalism there, all driven by firm tempo and rhythm changes. While the biggest big guitars and Mr. Mason's hardware provoke the song's most spine-tingling moments, these are set off by Hensley's perfectly understated recitation of certain parameters of isolation ("...it's an empty world without you here, I'm not getting to it, right out to the lip...") in a tenor reminiscent of that of Elliott Smith. The sum total feints in the direction of Built To Spill's acclaimed Perfect From Now On or some deliciously hypothetical iteration of Neil Young and Crazy Horse, but the reality is "Lip" resides in a universe of The Rutabega's own creation.

Comedy Minus One releases Unreliable Narrator June 24 pressed to a limited edition of vinyl LPs; the first 250 of these are pressed to clear media bearing black streaks (observe), and additional LPs are available in classic black. Unreliable Narrator will also be released on CD and as a digital download. Pre-orders are on offer right now and those availing themselves of that opportunity will be rewarded with a download of certain acoustic demos titled Unreliable Sketches. The band intends to fête the release of the record with a show July 2 at Vegetable Buddies in South Bend; the bill also features 2 Big 2 Be Buried and The Columbines. Stream "Lip" via the embed below. The peppy rocker "Shiny Destination" was previously pushed out to the public earlier this spring, is available on limited-edition white 7" from Triple Eye Industries, and a delightful, puppet-packed video for same can be viewed right here.

The Rutabega: Facebook | Internerds

June 2, 2016

Previewage: You're Jovian Returns With Sparkling Pop "Revelations," Tour Hits O'Brien's Pub June 6

You're Jovian's Sublime, Sparkling Pop Gem 'Revelations'

From an outsider's perspective anyway, You're Jovian feels like an intermittent project, so it is cause for much rejoicing when the Virginia Beach, VA shoegaze four surfaces. Although the band led by fronter and guitarist Elliot Malvas seems to come and go, it makes up for its ephemeral nature by routinely recording incredible songs. Over the weekend the latest iteration of the quartet (which has been together since November) took to the airwaves of Norfolk, VA's WODU for a live session. There You're Jovian premiered new tunes "Ball And Chain," "Pieces" and "Endless Possibilities;" that latter tune echoes in a pleasant way the sound of early Lilys circa the bootleg The Station Tapes, for those of you keeping score at home. One new number you didn't hear was the uptempo and bright gem "Revelations," which is, well, revelatory, and available now as a digital single on Bandcamp courtesy of the good people of Funny/Not Funny Records. It rides a cycling 12-string lick supporting sentimental lyrics and tasteful backing "ooohs" and "las." The chorus has a massive but soft hook, and then, suddenly, the song ends -- all too soon. The cleaner, more "pop" production feels like a fresh path for You're Jovian, and perhaps nods to anglophile influences held dear by Mr. Malvas, who told WODU the band is working on writing more constructed music that a live ensemble can really get behind.

Sadly, based on other remarks during the radio session, the band isn't playing "Revelations" on this tour, but there is other new music to be heard, although the only way you can acquire it -- for now -- is to go to a show. Fortunately, a very rare tour kicks off tonight, and those able to see the band rock should be able to get their hands on a new show-only cassette titled Singles. You're Jovian performs at O'Brien's Pub in Boston's Allston Rock City neighborhood Monday (that's June 6) with The Guilloteenagers and Motto; you can buy tickets ahead right here. Fans not in Boston, or even fans in Boston, should try to be in New York the prior night, as You're Jovian is slated to perform there with with colossal Clicky Clicky faves Infinity Girl. In unrelated, Post-Tour But Still A Big Deal Show News, You're Jovian will open Kurt Vile & The Violators' July 25 show at The NorVA in Norfolk, VA. Hot, right? Stream "Revelations" via the embed below, and be ready to stream it several more times right after that: it's that good.

You're Jovian: Bandcamp | Facebook | Soundcloud

06.02 -- The Blind -- Virginia Beach, VA
06.03 -- Tea Bazaar -- Charlottesville, VA
06.04 -- Paradise Lost -- New Brunswick, NJ
06.05 -- Shea Stadium -- Brooklyn, NY
06.06 -- O'Briens Pub -- Boston, MA
06.07 -- Kung Fu Necktie -- Philadelphia, PA
06.08 -- TBA -- Washington, D.C.
06.09 -- Golden Pony -- Harrisonburg, VA
06.10 -- Charlie's American Cafe -- Norfolk, VA

Today's Hotness: You're Jovian
Today's Hotness: You're Jovian

May 30, 2016

Review: Elvis Depressedly | Holo Pleasures / California Dreamin'

Some three years on from its original release, revered Boston label Run For Cover Records is reissuing the EP that first brought mid-fi hitmakers Elvis Depressedly to the blogosphere's attention. This go-round the short set Holo Pleasures is packaged with California Dreamin', a second EP of music written almost contemporaneously with the first whose half-dozen numbers are only now getting their first pressing to wax. The resulting quasi-long player is remarkably consistent given it was pasted together ex post facto, and will appeal to both new and old fans.

While it would be two additional years until Elvis Depressedly broke through with its seventh LP New Alhambra, the release of Holo Pleasures in 2014 garnered some buzz upon its initial release; it still holds up as a fine collection of pop songs, each one melting with a woozy melancholy. Opener "Okay" underscores band mastermind Mat Cothran's affinity for a gloomy lyric, as he sings of "true love [turning] to sickness." Tropes of isolation, love gone wrong and death recur, lending the set a pleasing -- albeit dark -- consistency. "Inside You" perhaps best encapsulates the now-trio's aesthetic, as Mr. Cothran sings of the track's subject being "loved to death." Here Elvis Depressedly combines its morbid streak with a fascination with fated love. Both suit the act's bedroom pop sound (what else is there to do but morbidly fantasize when in one's room?). Elsewhere "Pepsi/ Coke Suicide" echoes the weighted strumming of My Bloody Valentine's "Sometimes," and marries those off to glacial synths befitting mid-period The Radio Dept. And highlight "Weird Honey" carries the feel of a Flying Nun oddity, and then clipped vocals and a jaunty arcade theme that sees the song out. It's all fabulously bleak and equates to an elongated, metaphoric stroll through the drizzle.

Considering the quality of Holo Pleasures, one might reasonably question the necessity of tacking on California Dreamin' to the proceedings, or if their inclusion devalues the original set of songs. But there's real continuity to the two sets of songs -- reinforced by the tasteful melancholy -- that makes a strong argument in favor of the new package. The succession of the latter's opener "Angel Cum Clean" following Holo Pleasures' closer "Thinning Out" feels seamless. The lyrics to "Angel Come Clean" mine fairly dark territory, an account of drug use while listening to bands named after drugs, which is recounted over atop the wasted elegance of a woozy synthesizer. "Thinning Out" arrives in a similar state of forlorn dreaminess; although its lyrics aren't as intelligible, it also ends with a sound reminiscent of a toy keyboard melting. Granted, the two tracks use different hues and tones to arrive at roughly the same color, and this is the case throughout. "Up In The Air" ends the collection with its vaguely trance-esque keys reverberating in a manner suggesting loneliness. As Cothran sings "everything I knew is up in the air," one feels the uncertainty of "Okay" all over again, unaltered by any intervening epiphanies. Sure, the new release's decidedly depressing tone -- and one's enjoyment of it -- rests upon one's taste for such a gloomy reverie, especially given that summer is just about upon us. Although chances are, if you enjoyed Holo Pleasures, then you'll find little at fault with its new home alongside sister tracks. Run For Cover issues Holo Pleasures / California Dreamin' June 3 in a limited edition of 3,000 vinyl LPs pressed to baby blue in bone, half oxblood/half olive and green with grey splatter media. The release will also be available as a CD, cassette tape and digital download; all formats can be pre-ordered right here. -- Theo Gorst

Elvis Depressedly: Bandcamp | Facebook | Tumblahhh