April 24, 2015

Review: Ava Luna | Infinite House

For the uninitiated considering the group on proverbial paper (is paper still a thing?), Ava Luna should never work. The Brooklyn quintet's principal songwriters have distinctly different approaches to the band's singular, malleable sound! Their most distinctive sonic influences are R&B and soul music, yet they tour primarily with indie rock troupes! Their bass player keeps a robust tour diary centered on the food they eat on the road! Madness! But the band's air-tight and mesmerizing live shows and catalog of next-level recordings -- including last year's dynamite platter Electric Balloon and now Infinite House, a new collection released this week -- are proof-positive that Ava Luna's music is no haphazard, teetering house of cards.

Ava Luna excels at balancing a fluid and grooved sensibility with the noisier, more angular sounds band principals Julian Fader and Carlos Hernandez routinely commit to tape for acts like Grass Is Green, Krill and Palehound whilst working their day-ish gigs engineering sessions at Brooklyn's Gravesend Recordings. Readers will recall we fell hard for the aforementioned and transcendent Electric Balloon [review], and were particularly struck by the nervy and boundless energy of its first side. That the band has turned around a new record as accomplished and unconstrained as Infinite House in a year is a testament to the powerful fecundity of Ava Luna. To our delight and surprise, Infinite House willingly subverts even the expectations created by the prior record, stretching the band's rubbery aesthetic across eleven tracks that subsume influences as disparate as dub ("Victoria") and house music ("Company").

While its horizons are more expansive and the no-wave and punk undertones of last year's excellent record are smoothed over, Infinite House is no less engaging and beguiling. Where Electric Balloon erupted out of the gate with "Daydream," a whirlwind art-funk number that's probably the band's most pronounced Talking Heads homage, Infinite House commences with the thrillingly unhinged and aforementioned "Company." The at-times cacophonous tune proffers pulsing, synth-led verses that nod in the direction of Stereolab or even Lali Puna, but willfully decomposes in a series of thuds during the smile-inducing chorus. "Tenderize" ups the funk with plucky bass notes that spangle a wash of guitar chords; the groove slowly unwinds in the tune's final minute in a thoughtful instrumental passage that exudes patience and confidence. The word-jazz, beat bouillabaisse "Steve Polyester" follows, echoes the vibe of classic work by Ken Nordine, and is easily Ava Luna's strangest, most alluring recording to date (a terrific, animated video for the tune was released this week and you can see it here). "Coat of Shellac" -- Felicia Douglas' star turn on the LP which you can stream below along with two other tunes -- is the set's catchiest composition, despite subdued verses held aloft by barely-there guitars and one hell of a bass line.

Infinite House is out now via Western Vinyl, and you can purchase a copy of the collection on LP or CD right here. The band embarks on a protracted tour today, which includes a stop on at O'Brien's in Boston's Allston Rock City Saturday; we've included all of the tour dates below. It is also well worth noting that Mr. Fader recently released to the wilds of the Internerds via Bandcamp a very lively and creative solo collection under the nomme de guerre Um Are; the set is called Child Prodigy and we highly recommend acquiring the paywhutchalike collection right here. -- Dillon Riley and Jay Breitling

Ava Luna: Bandcamp | Facebook | Internerds

04.24 -- Durham, NH -- Wildcat Den
04.25 -- Boston, MA -- O'Briens
04.26 -- New Paltz, NY -- SUNY New Paltz
04.28 -- Philadelphia, PA -- The Pharmacy
04.29 -- Baltimore, MD -- Metro Gallery
04.30 -- Washington, D.C. -- Comet Ping Pong
05.01 -- Richmond, VA -- Gallery5
05.02 -- Raleigh, NC -- Kings
05.03 -- Columbia, SC -- Brookland Tavern
05.04 -- Charleston, SC -- Royal American
05.05 -- Atlanta, GA -- 529
05.06 -- Savannah, GA -- Hangfire
05.07 -- Tallahassee, FL -- All Saints
05.08 -- New Orleans -- One Eyed Jacks
05.09 -- Houston, TX -- Walter's
05.11 -- Tucson, AZ -- Club Congress
05.13 -- Indio, CA -- Coachella Valley Art Scene
05.14 -- San Diego, CA -- Soda Bar
05.16 -- Los Angeles CA -- Pehrspace
05.17 -- Santa Barbara, CA -- Funzone
05.18 -- TBA
05.20 -- San Francisco, CA -- Brick & Mortar Music Hall
05.21 -- Oakland, CA -- 1-2-3-4 Go Records
05.22 -- Portland, OR -- Bunk Bar
05.23 -- Seattle, WA -- Cairo
05.24 -- Olympia, WA -- Obsidian
05.26 -- Boise, ID -- Neurolux
05.27 -- Salt Lake City, UT -- TBA
05.28 -- Denver, CO -- Leon Gallery
05.29 -- Lincoln, NE -- 2SMOOV
05.30 -- Chicago, IL -- Observatory
05.31 -- Detroit, MI -- New Dodge
06.01 -- Milwaukee, WI -- The Villa Terrace
06.02 -- Indianapolis, IN -- Joyful Noise
06.03 -- Knoxville, TN -- Pilot Light
06.04 -- Cincinnati, OH -- The Woodward
06.05 -- Columbus, OH -- Double Happiness

April 22, 2015

Review: Wire | Wire

After 39 years and a dozen albums as an on-again-off-again concern, London punk visionaries Wire have finally gotten around to releasing a proper -- albeit Wire-y -- dream-pop album. Though hinted at in classic cuts such as "Outdoor Miner" and "Map Ref. 41°N 93°W," never before has the quartet allowed itself to be so outwardly smooth, melancholy and serene. The new, eponymous 11-track collection integrates the impulses of Wire's exploratory rebirth following 2003's triumph Send into an inviting and cohesive set of mid-tempo songs, some yet bearing the sonic hallmarks of their highly celebrated late-'70s output. But Wire's lofty goal continues to be novelty (in the non-pejorative sense), and so it was inevitable that dream-pop would be way station. That inevitability, however, makes it no less enjoyable.

"The point where our personal narratives meet is all about change -- moving on and keeping it interesting for ourselves," guitarist and singer Colin Newman said recently in a press release. "We're in it for the long haul and this is a one-way trip." With that mission statement in mind, and, with touring guitarist Matt Simms (also of the massively under-rated It Hugs Back) now officially contributing to the group, the new disc wastes no time in throwing up an array of guitar textures both intricate and transporting. The band seems to have challenged itself to write clean and catchy numbers that draw great strength from their economy, and the results have certainly resonated with the record-buying public in the U.K., where Wire is the band's first album to chart in nearly 30 years.

Opener "Blogging" not only offers observations that hit a little too close to home for this reviewer, but also finds the band exploring a bluesy, deep groove that, dare we say it, approximates a simple sensuality similar to that of Violator-era Depeche Mode. The ensuing tune "Shifting" reinforces the steady, cleanly produced drum sound that dominates much of the album, while also highlighting the band's melodic gifts. Newman has always excelled at simple and elegant vocal melodies, and of this we are reminded here by his softly sung refrains of "gave you one more chance." By the third number, "Burning Bridges," it is clear just where Wire are journeying on their "one-way trip." A suitably dreamy video for the stand-out tune was released to the wilds of the Internerds earlier this week; watch it here.

The hook-laden "In Manchester" deploys prickly and warped lead guitar notes, which blend with subtle synth and drummer Robert Grey's ever-upfront hi-hat and snare work. "Octopus" raises the intensity a bit, with abrupt bursts of fuzz and chord changes that carry an energy straight out of Chairs Missing. "High" pits arpeggiated effects and synth strings against a traditional punk beat, and in doing so marries Wire's trademark brevity to a more shoegazey vibe. Interestingly, Messrs. Newman and Simms close some songs out with zipping and sizzling lead guitar effects that recall what My Bloody Valentine used on its cover of the aforementioned "Map Ref. 41°N 93°W" -- the Lovetone Meatball envelope filter, to be exact -- suggesting that Wire may have internalized the work of some of the very artists they had originally influenced. Perhaps, this feedback loop is what ultimately defines the album, since Newman and company sound more at ease than ever simply taking delight and relaxing in their own starry quirkiness.

Given the stunning results here, we are hopeful that Wire represents yet another new beginning for the the band, as the record manages to be cohesive, yet a great accompaniment to just about any mood. Wire was released this week via the band's own Pink Flag label; order it right here. The band is presently touring the UK through the end of the month, and embark on a two-week strand of dates in the U.S. at the end of May; full American dates are listed below. -- Edward Charlton

Wire: Facebook | Internerds | Soundcloud

05.26 -- Portland, OR -- Dantes
05.27 -- Seattle, WA -- Nuemos
05.29 -- San Francisco, CA -- Slim's
05.30 -- Los Angeles, CA -- The Echoplex
06.02 -- Cambridge, MA -- The Sinclair
06.03 -- Brooklyn, NY -- Music Hall of Williamsburg
06.04 -- New York, NY -- Bowery Ballroom
06.05 -- Philadelphia, PA -- Union Transfer
06.06 -- Washington, DC -- Black Cat
06.08 -- Cleveland, OH -- Beachland Ballroom
06.09 -- Detroit, MI -- Majestic Theatre
06.10 -- Louisville, KY -- Headliners
06.11-13 -- Chicago, IL -- DRILL:CHICAGO

April 11, 2015

Today's Hotness: Flout, TV Wonder, William Basinski

Flout / Art Is Hard 2015 release schedule continues to hace calor

>> Our last Today's Hotness focused on Art Is Hard Records' terrific spring schedule, and it turns out this post just drives the point home even further. Much is said of the sound of lo-fi indie music, but often not enough about the philosophies underpinning the stylistic choices. It seems that out of all of the thoughtful articles praising a guitar fuzz or in-the-red cymbal sound, too few ever ask why. Enter Weymouth, New York home-recorder Flout (a/k/a John DeRosso) and his new Gims cassette, which hits shelves on May 15th via the aforementioned Art Is Hard. On the hook-saturated, 11-song set (which clocks in at a leisurely 22 minutes), Flout doesn't just wrap his concise, heartfelt miniatures in the warm glow of DIY, he wears them like a badge of honor and even tells you how he pulled it off. Just look at the label's bandcamp page, where Flout's simple explanation of his work illuminates the appeal of the realism of DIY. "I wouldn't change a thing," he says of the collection. "The constant clearing of my throat, my cat meowing after track 1, the footsteps of my roommates on the hardwood floors present on many tracks, the shouts of seamen on the Titanic attempting to avoid an iceberg at the end of track 7, and all of those other 'blemishes' encapsulate the cathartic days and nights recording this fledgling body of work." Gims, we would like to think, celebrates place and setting when it comes to home-recording. It also minimizes the time between that initial bolt of inspiration for a song idea and the moment that it gets bottled up in a recording. As a result, a fresh energy is manifested in tunes including highlight "filiale," which at times sounds like a contemporary folk tune, a delicate fuzz guitar lamentation and a rhythmic incidental piece before erupting into a celebratory chorus in the final seconds. "Salad Supper" makes use of DeRosso's spot-on shaker and tambourine percussion and occasional electric guitars to nearly sound like a full band. Opener "Poor Kid" not only expertly uses that aforementioned cat sound, but also delivers a jangly, strummed verse that foregrounds DeRosso's rich and smooth baritone -– perhaps the best part of the Flout sound. Indeed, his stretched, held vowels and dejected melodies bring to mind new Clicky faves Swings, especially in their "pleasantly downcast" affectation. This reviewer will go as far as to hope it's a new underground vocal trend that might eventually replace the hollow, post-Arcade Fire "whoas" which have clogged many speakers the past few years. It certainly all feels more real, and in this genre, that’s always been the point. Pre-order Gims right here. -- Edward Charlton

>> It's no secret that we’ve been longtime fans of Brighton, England's Faux Discx label. The enterprise's consistently tasteful roster of contemporary post-punk and indie pop regularly wows, and its signing of Dutch quartet TV Wonder indicates that 2015 looks to be another great year for the label. The foursome's debut EP Bird Songs proffers high-quality, spiky and at times discordant guitar-pop; it was released as a four-song cassette and digital download March 30. The band solidified while its members booked and presented shows in Amsterdam, and in all likelihood that environment influences TV Wonder's scrappy sound, which touts a warm, analogue haze and recalls both the hey and day of alternative guitar rock. Opener "Into The Deep," a highlight of the EP, commences with an angular guitar riff that beckons the rest of the band, which dives in with a slash-and-burn skronk that echoes Sister-era Sonic Youth. The vocals of Marijn Westerlaken and Tibor Bijl charm, and carry a more natural feel than most post-punkers purvey, while their mildly accented English provides a distinctive timbre. The influence of Canadian heavies Women looms over the proceedings -- and, this reviewer can think of no recent group more worth studying -- but the Dutch four never resorts to copying. Instead, we get great dynamics, as in the outro of closer "Prime Steps," which latches on to a deep, lockstep groove. Order Bird Sounds on limited-edition white cassette with clear case (100 copies) or as a digital download right here; we highly recommend checking out the entire thing via the Bandcamp embed below. -- Edward Charlton

>> Some artists are considered one-hit wonders, still others considered to have created a defining work. And while drone sculptor William Basinski is decidedly in that latter category, we can all imagine the possible frustrations and (at the very least mental) challenges an artist can face creating work in the wake of a so-called "defining work." Which is a long way of saying, for music fans who may not have Mr. Basinski's name at top of mind, where does one go when one has created what is perhaps the defining drone release of the last fifteen years, as Mr. Basinski did with his tragic, beautiful and solemn The Disintegration Loops albums (which were reissued for their 10th anniversary in 2012). Basinski released a set in 2013 called Nocturne that somehow evaded our critical attention, but we were very pleased to learn about his latest collection, which will be issued on 180g, white vinyl May 25 by Temporary Residence, Ltd. The new set is titled The Deluge, and it includes three compositions: a title track, "The Deluge (The Denouement)," and "Cascade." A companion CD and digital issue goes by the title Cascade, comes out a month earlier, and may or may not feature a different running order -- the notes from the label are a bit confusing on that point. But one of these tracks, or at least a portion of same, was released to the wilds of the Internerds recently, and it is phenomenal. The delicate, poignant, soul-touching "Cascade" twinkles and breathes and spreads in every direction, and sounds as if it is built up from layers of short, meandering piano key caresses and buttressed with delays, reverb and natural signal distortion. An excerpt of the tune can can be streamed via the Soundcloud embed below, and purchased on LP here and CD right here. Without the tragic context that surrounded The Disintegration Loops, perhaps The Deluge / Cascade will not find as large an audience. But it is nonetheless terrifically affecting, and we highly recommend it to your attention.

April 6, 2015

Review: Greg Lyon | Landlocked To The East

Boston scene veteran Greg Lyon has been getting it done since the late '90s, fronting acts including Pending Disappointment and playing sideman to local legend Eldridge Rodriguez and, more recently, the mighty The Beatings. As a solo artist in recent years, Mr. Lyon has (somewhat ironically) revealed more and more of himself the further he recedes into the shadows of the scene. Metropolis-straddling label Midriff Records whisked out Lyon's stirring solo debut Nowhere Near Poughkeepsie in late 2010, and the set brightly illuminated the depth and breadth of Lyon's songwriting via skeletal balladry, folksy musings and post-punky strummers. But live shows were few and far between, and after contributing a sparkling, blissed-out cover of "Paralyzed" (and smashing cover art) to Clicky Clicky's 2012 Ride tribute comp NOFUCKINGWHERE, Mr. Lyon vanished from the public eye... err... ear.

Now comes a vibrant and long-awaited sophomore set, some two years in the making, wherein Lyon directed his attention to a backlog of what turns out to be very impressive material. The new collection Landlocked To The East presents a huge step forward for Lyon in terms of arrangement and production. You'll note we are not saying he proves himself here to be an even better songwriter. This, of course, is almost certainly empirically true, but the fact is that Nowhere Near Poughkeepsie was filled with great songs, and wrongfully slept-on by many. If anything, Landlocked To The East evidences Lyon's greater confidence in his own songwriting chops, or -- at the very least -- that taking two years to make a record very much agrees with him. Whatever the truth may be, on the new set Lyon presents lusher sounds and increasingly nuanced arrangements, which together conspire to make Landlocked To The East a very rewarding listen. The highlight of the set is the opener "Western Ave Drug Mule," an almost-seven-minute number whose final, slowly spinning five minutes sound like one long chorus. A kick and snare drum finally arrive at the close of the fourth minute, ushering in a firm cadence over which layers of vocals pile up, merging with cycling harmonics and faux strings to form a dizzying mesh that falls away abruptly to reveal the acoustic strums underpinning the composition at the close of the song.

The excellent, uptempo rocker "Vast Departures" is also notable for its rich layers: maracas put a finer point on the driving rhythm after the first chorus; the second chorus swells with subtle synths; and a final verse briefly permits spectral voices to cross the stereo field unfettered. All these little layers, all the nuance, echoes the shifting and detailed beauty of the early Mercury Rev catalog, although Mr. Lyon's songwriting remains rooted in a folksy realism (exemplified here, perhaps, by the three-quarter-timed, harmonica- and piano-appointed strummer "If I Could Sing") that leaves no room for that act's unbridled psychedelia. But even Lyon's more folk-leaning material -- such as "Sorry Virginia" -- touts an aural fullness that is the hallmark of this impressively varied collection. Close seconds for best tune on Landlocked To The East are the smoothed-out, poignant ballad "Shiny New Caps" (a perfect candidate for the b-side to "Western Ave Drug Mule," were a single from the collection ever be pressed) and the yet-more-subdued, piano-led and impressionistic number "I Have Bottomed Out."

We're very pleased to be able to premiere two of the aforementioned tracks, namely "Western Ave Drug Mule" and "I Have Bottomed Out," both of which you can stream via the Soundcloud embed below. The entirety of Landlocked To The East will be available to stream via the Midriff Records blog here from tomorrow, and we recommend you click that link and spend some time with the record once the Brothers Keiber, the proprietors of Midriff, get their act together and get the stream active tomorrow. Midriff is not fond of doing pre-orders, so sit patiently on your hands and wait until next Tuesday, when you will be able to purchase Landlocked To The East from Midriff as a digital download via the label's digital storefront right here.

Greg Lyon: Bandcamp | Faceblah

Prior Coverage:
Clicky Clicky Music Presents... N O F U C K I N G W H E R E : 11 Boston Bands Perform Ride's Classic 1990 Album
Greg Lyon with Soccer Mom | PA's Lounge, Somerville | 4 December
Be Prepared: Greg Lyon | Nowhere Near Poughkeepsie | 4 Dec.

April 4, 2015

Clicky Clicky Presents (Another) The Class of 2015

We're less than a week away from the kick-off of Boston's legendary annual battle of the bands, The Rock 'n' Roll Rumble. Now in its thirty-sixth year, the event pits 24 acts against one another in a friendly competition that results in one band being crowned champion, and a whole bunch of people having a real good time. Contending acts tend to be well-established, and as a group are referred to as the "class" of the given year. The Class of 2015 isn't as long on Clicky Clicky faves as prior classes have been, although we certainly hope to see Soft Pyramids, Drab and Nemes do well. Clicky Clicky, of course, tends to focus on newer bands making sounds that sit squarely in the indie rock/post-punk wheelhouse. We've alluded in recent pieces to a new wave of acts we're excited about rising up from the Boston underground, and we figured now was as good a time as any to formalize our thoughts on the matter. It's not necessarily a counter-narrative to The Rumble; after all, all music fans want people to like and support pretty much all music. So, if you like, think of this as a look into the crystal ball at acts that could be Rumble contenders in the future.

We prefer to think of the acts highlighted below -- up-and-coming dream-pop quintent Californian Sleepovers, shoegaze luminaries Dæphne and Elizabeth Colour Wheel, and upstart emo polymaths Shark Rock! -- as the freshest now sounds of the Boston underground. These are acts still tracking demos in their apartments, (mostly) sheltered from the relatively cavernous rock clubs and dank basements where Boston’s tremendously fertile ecosystem germinates, all messing around within vaguely related shoegaze/emo genres. The sharing of members, friends, and bills among them helped us connect some dots and were, in part, the inspiration for this feature. We should say the feature is not exhaustive: despite popping onto our radar in 2013, we're sort of lumping Julius Earthling in (mentally, anyway) as a Clicky Clicky Class of 2015 act; and we're starting to feel the same way about Burlington, Vermont's Sleeping In. But for now, read up on the bands below, whose futures are looking pretty bright, if not quite so Rumbly just yet. -- Dillon Riley and Jay Breitling

Californian Sleepovers

Californian Sleepovers is a five-piece ensemble whose dual, boy-girl vocal attack is the salient marker of its sound thus far. Despite being together for little more than a year, the group has crafted a remarkable, expansive and blissed out sound reminiscent of that of international dream-pop phenoms Big Deal. A central figure in Californian Sleepovers -- and, indeed, in the scene this feature memorializes -- is Nick Paredes, who both plays in the band and serves as the quintet's in-house producer. Scan whatever "liner notes" you can find for the music released to date by the bands included in this piece and you'll likely to find Mr. Paredes' name listed somewhere therein. We're given to understand that his own Projectorhead Studios was recently menaced by an apartment fire and subsequent flooding in Allston. In addition to the obvious ways, this is particularly unfortunate, as the pad seems to serve as a de facto HQ for many in Clicky Clicky's Class of 2015. We wish the residents of said apartment luck in finding a new home, and hope said home allows for those affected to continue to help shape the loud rock sounds of the day. In the meantime, we have Californian Sleepovers' debut EP Back In My Day to consider. The three-song set presents infectious, gaze-y pop that plays fast and loose with rhythmic stability. The band's forthcoming gigs include a house show somewhere in the Greater Boston area with Dæphne and a show at O'Brien's April 21 with Elizabeth Color Wheel. That latter show is billed as a sorta fundraiser for Projecthead, so your price of admission is certainly money well-spent. Below, peruse some short notes about the band and stream and download the aforementioned EP.
CC: Who does what when you guys make the rock sounds?

We're a five-piece band. There's Nick Paredes on the electric ukulele, Kevin Schlotterback on guitar, Ryan Higgins on bass and Wil Tecla plays the drums (& the cymbals). Charlotte Wright and Nick Paredes team up on vocals.

CC: Where and when did Californian Sleepovers form?

The band originally formed in the fall of 2014, but has since had new members added to complete the sound. We hail from Boston, Massachusetts, but the members come from all over the US.

CC: How would describe your sound, that is, if you have a singular one you've settled on?

Our sound is still evolving at this point, but we've relied on a shoegaze-y description for ourselves so far.

CC: Have you played many shows yet? If so, how have they gone?

We've had one show so far, that went well! Now that we've released our EP, we're looking to book more.

CC: Tell us a bit about the EP.

Our first EP is called Back In My Day. It was self-recorded & mixed by us in Nick's apartment.

CC: What's next?

Sleepovers, bowling, band practice. We're actually working on a four-song split with [our friends] Elizabeth Colour Wheel, and we're working on a music video soon [It's at the top of this feature -- Ed.]. Also, we'll be featured on a shoegaze/dream-pop compilation coming out of Hacktivism Records!


As we remarked in one of our Top Songs of 2014 roundups, coverage of Dæphne's fuzzy, uniformly thrilling four-song demo was curiously absent from much of Boston's music media. Be that as it may, the Family Vacation EP, and especially its majestic third number "Driving Down a Country Highway Blasting Weezer," is a winner. Immaculately recorded (considering it is referred to as a demo), the set showcases fronter Alexa Johnson's moony emo-isms, steeping them in layer upon layer of sepia-toned fuzz. Dæphne's improbably potent sound -- at once totally modern and positively nostalgic -- would mesh nicely with those of the artists in the stable of Allston indie heavyweights Run For Cover Records, something we noted previously. For now, Dæphne's music has found a home with forward-thinking Texas blog/label collective Funeral Sounds, from which you can acquire a cassette of Family Vacation right here. We're given to understand the band is playing a house show somewhere in the near future, as well as a stacked showcase at Out Of The Blue Too Gallery in Cambridge. Below are additional particulars about the quartet, and make sure to stream Dæphne's stunning demo below those.
CC: Who does what when you guys are making the rock?

Alexa sings, Laura plays bass, Ryan plays guitar, and Julian plays drums.

CC: Where and when did the band form?

[We] formed in boston in March 2014.

CC: How would describe your sound, that is, if you have a singular one you've settled on?

Smashing Pumpkins with a good singer.

CC: Have you played many shows? If so, how have they gone?

We've played around 20 shows, most have been good except one at O'Brien's where we played at midnight and no one was there.

CC: Tell us a bit about the Family Vacation demo.

It was recorded in one day in an apartment with our old drummer and no click.

CC: What's next?

World domination...

Elizabeth Colour Wheel

Attentive readers will recall that we premiered the debut, eponymous EP from this fantastically named quintet just a few weeks back. A bracing four-track sampler characterized by the band's deft balance of tension and release, as well as fronter Adessa Campbell's chilly, arresting vocals, Elizabeth Colour Wheel's short-player is already one of the more remarkable things we've heard this year. As of this writing, the EP has yet to see a physical release, but we're given to understand that a run of tapes is forthcoming via a new outfit called Braindead Media. Elizabeth Colour Wheel also recently went into the 88.1 WMBR Pipeline studio for a session, which was a suitably raucous time, and you can download a recording of that right here. As noted supra, the band's got an upcoming gig on April 21 at O'Brien's in Allston Rock City, and details for the event are right here. Scroll down for a little Q+A and another shot at the stream of the excellent EP.
CC: Who does what when you guys make the rock sounds?

Adessa Campbell – Lead Vocals/Fiddle; Alec Jackson – Keyboard/Synth/Guitar/Backing Vocals; Billy Cunningham – Bass; Emmett Palaima – Guitar; Nate Patsfall – Drums. CC: Where and when did Elizabeth Colour Wheel form?

We started about a year ago when we met in Boston. We're originally from all around the states... Utah, New Jersey, Montana, Texas, and Virginia.

CC: How would describe your sound, that is if you have a singular one you've settled on?

The best way to put it would be loud and abrasive guitars and drums with soothing vocals (most of the time).

CC: Have you played many shows yet? If so, how have they gone?

We've played a fair amount in the area, including a small northeast tour when we hit New York and Philly. We actually feel our live show is where people can actually understand what we are about.

CC: We've already given our thoughts about your recent EP, but what else can you tell us about it?

Well as I said before, we prefer our live sound so we recorded the whole thing live with minimal overdubbing (just vocals and some synth parts). We also only tried each song once or twice to keep the "fresh" energy that the early takes tend to have.

CC: What's next?

Future is looking pretty fun right about now. We have quite a few local shows in Boston coming up and we're currently working on booking another tour of the northeast with our good friends in Gamma Pope. We also have a split release in the works with our buddies in Californian Sleepovers and we have a bunch of new material we've been playing, so maybe another EP or possibly a full length will be in the works over summer.

Shark Rock!

Perhaps the most light-hearted of this impressive crop of bands, Shark Rock! are a two-piece that deal in an alternately crunchy and twiddly, yet entirely unpredictable, emo-core sound. Featuring the talents of one member of Elizabeth Colour Wheel, this Berklee-based band -- an important distinction, considering most of these groups also feature Berklee students but don’t quite identify as such -- makes music that rarely ends where it began. There is a lot of quirk, and it is good: among Shark Rock!'s three known recordings is a quasi-cover of "Don't Fear The Reaper" entitled "Sued By The Cult," in which they lift the melody and lyrics from the Blue Oyster Cult classic to illuminate a song ostensibly about actually being sued by the classic rock greats. Maybe? Shark Rock!'s eponymous demo, while mostly an exercise in testing a variety of sounds, is especially re-playable due in large part to the two-piece's keen musicianship, which strikes a bit of a contrast with the demo's admittedly questionable audio fidelity. The pair played a house show tonight, but it probably already happened, so you will have to remain vigilant for your next opportunity to be Shark Rock!ed. Take a look at some consistently great answers from the duo, and stream its demo, below.
CC: Who does what when you guys make the rock and roll?

Mike Costa plays drums. Emmett Palaima plays guitar and sings.

CC: Where/when did the band form?

We met last fall at Berklee. We had talked to each other a little bit beforehand, but mostly we met through the band. I (Emmett) hit up Mike because I had heard he was a drummer that knew what was up, and we started jamming and writing together.

CC: How would describe your sound, that is, if you have a singular one you've settled on?

Haha, maybe Shark Rock? We try to do our own thing more than fit into any genre. The one big thing that we always stick to is that we try and get the fullest possible sound out of only two members. Other than that, the mindset is to just write what we write and to make it as good as we can from there. If we come up with an idea we think would be cool or funny, we usually just go for it, no matter what it is. That's how the "Don't Fear the Reaper" cover in "Sued By The Cult" happened. However, all that said, we do have a heavy tendency towards math rock and noise and are very influenced by bands like Tera Melos, Hella and Lightning Bolt, in terms of rhythm and abruptness. Actually, though, a lot of the harmonic sensibility actually comes from bluegrass being mixed with more modern styles.

CC: Have you played any shows yet? If so, how have they gone?

We've played our first show [March] 15, with The Exploration, Shakusky and Settler. It was in Billy Philhower's awesome basement for a bunch of emo kids. We got a great reception and playing with The Exploration was super cool, so overall we were really happy with how it went, especially for our first show. We also got to borrow this massive Orange cab from Settler, which seemed really appropriate on "Sued By The Cult."

CC: Tell us a bit about your demo, which we love.

Our intent with the demo was mainly to get our music out there so we could start playing shows and letting people know that we're a thing. The way we did everything on it was pretty DIY/lo-fi and not always exactly the correct way of doing things, the drums were recorded by Nick Paredes at Propellerhead Studio in early December, then Emmett added guitars, vocals and additional production over our winter break with the help of our friend Max Deems in Austin, TX, who mixed and mastered it for us. We tried to go for more of a room sound on the guitar so it would fill more space, we had a lot of far mics and at one point were also running it through this little bass amp stuck inside a bathtub. It was kind of difficult to get everything to sound right, but in the end we ended up with what we wanted, a demo that was fun to listen to. We made some tapes that sold really fast, and we're restocking for our next show.

CC: What's next for y'all?

We're recording our first album this summer, entitled Summer's Ending, slated for release in late September to early August, around the time that summer will actually be ending. As opposed to the demo, we're going for more of a high fidelity sound for the album. The goal is to make it something of an epic of the summer, the listening to which will be a really cohesive experience. We're also looking into touring around the same time as the release to support the album, hitting dates around the Northeast, most likely with Macaulay Sulkin. Until then, we're just playing around Boston as much as possible. The next thing we're playing is a house show on April 4 [Sorry this piece didn't publish in time, lads -- Ed.]. We also have a live video in the mixing/editing process we're going to release soon, [which was] recorded by Nate Patsfall and filmed by Sam Colby.

April 1, 2015

Show Us Yours #25: Julius Earthling

We had reason to be a little down as the credits rolled on 2014, as a number of our favorite local acts had called it a day. But 2015 has already been marked by a number of exciting new discoveries -- which will be a subject of a forthcoming feature from Staff Writer Dillon Riley in coming days -- as well as welcome returns from... uh... somewhere? This latter designation is almost entirely set aside for rising Boston noise-pop trio Julius Earthling. As we said here a couple months ago, the act kind of dropped of the map after the release of an initial EP titled For: a couple years back. But its very ambitious follow-up, titled NFL Bliss and a real blinder, is so worth the wait. The new EP's six songs show an exponential degree of development both in terms of songwriting and production; perhaps most notable from a rock consumer's standpoint are the collection's bounty of Weezer-grade hooks, Algernon Cadwallader-level vim (particularly on the euphoric strummer "Motorcycle Tricks" and the frantic "575"), and scads of skewed smarts in evidence at every turn. What is responsible for the major step forward for the band, whose roots stretch back to 2009, whose rhythm section has played together since they were young teens, and which almost -- impossibly -- called itself Fetal Castro? We took our questions straight to the act, couching them within the context of our long-suffering Show Us Yours feature, which takes a look at the practice spaces of the hitmakers of the day with an eye toward learning both what makes the band tick, and what their next moves will be. The Earthling's Anthony DeRosa (bass guitar), Cam McClusky (guitar, voice) and Sam Nickerson (drums) were all super gracious with their time, and we think you will agree that this 25th episode of Show Us Yours is among the very best we've ever published.
Clicky Clicky: So why do you use this practice space? What makes it the best space for Julius Earthling right now?

Sam Nickerson: We used to practice at Brighton Sound Museum in a space we shared with some old friends and some fashion punx.

Cam McClusky: Then some of Sam's gear went missing and we got "the boot."

SN: The Roots, The Radicals...

Anthony Derosa: So Brad -- who recorded us and put out our first record -- invited us to Hanging Horse in Norwood.

CM: Which is also a full recording studio and where we recorded NFL Bliss, and our first EP. So it is a hike and hard to schedule sometimes, but there's a triangle window and I'd live [t]here if I could.

CC: Triangle window aside, is there an idiosyncrasy or quirk to the space that has affected the sound of one of your songs, or even the overall sound?

AD: It's a huge room and definitely has a signature sound. You can always tell when someone recorded there. We rolled a Harley Davidson in through the garage doors and recorded it for the intro of "Motorcycle Tricks."

CC: You walk into your space. What's the first thing that you smell?

CM: The control room always smells like Crizz.

AD: Aged trinkets everywhere. Thrift Store Rejects.

CM: That's our next band...

SN: It's in an old industrial area, so maybe poison?

CC: The new EP blows us away, as it is more than just a substantial step forward from the For: EP. It's more like two or three steps forward. NFL Bliss shows so much development, in a number of different areas: more ambitious compositions, more technically proficient, bigger hooks. I guess Clicky Clicky is just interested in how that happened? Is it just a question of having a greater skill set and different influences feeding into the two EPs? Did you sell one or more of your souls?

SN: It all depends on your gait and the size of your steps, really.

CM: I can personally say that I had no idea what I was doing while writing the music music for For:. I did build a massive pedal board between releases, which sucks to carry around, but now there's more cartoon sounds. And I do think For: was more of a feeling-out process, and now, with every song we write, we just try to out-do the one before.

AD: I don't know.

CC: NFL Bliss was originally supposed to be eight songs -- what happened? Holding something back for a possible full-length (we hope)?

AD: We sold the other two to ESPN. I mean HGTV.

CM: "MTV Cribs." But really, we're looking to do maybe two songs on a 7" later in the year.

CC: Had it survived, do you think the level of bliss in the XFL would be higher than in the NFL?

CM: Short Answer: YES. Long Answer: Things just didn't go as planned. If it had managed to survive and prosper the way Vince McMahon intended, we'd be looking at a level of bliss never seen before. Imagine the combination of Wrestlemania and a perpetual, season-long Super Bowl. On a more serious note, The XFL's one and only season was in 2001. I'm not saying all of the blame lies with 9/11, but that definitely didn't help. We let the terrorists win.

SN: The bliss levels in Slam Ball, however: THAT'S another story.

AD: Wrestlemania is on my birthday this year.

CC: All that aside, what do the next six months look like for Julius Earthling? Any plans to get out and tour the EP?

CM: I'm hoping that Natalie Portman will be 6 months pregnant with my child. I can't speak for anyone else in the band on this issue. But yes. More shows in New England for the time being, and hopefully getting on the road late this summer.

SN: Just hoping we don’t end up in court. A great man did say once: "This copyrighted broadcast is the property of the National Football League. Any rebroadcast or reproduction without the consent of the NFL is strictly prohibited."
NFL Bliss was released to the wilds of the Interzizzles March 18, and you can purchase the short set as a digital download or CD and pin combo dealy via the act's Bandcamp right here. The band is slated to play this gig in Allston Rock City Saturday, but thereafter presently has no live dates booked, or at least none that we are aware of, but as you saw above, more shows and perhaps a tour are in the cards for later in the year. We can't imagine this EP won't be enough to net The Earthling a deal to put out that 7" they're pondering, and we will certainly keep you abreast of all developments. Not fully caught up on the long, stuttering history of Show Us Yours? Surf the links below the embed of the EP, which is also a thing you should be hitting "play" on right now, yes?

Previous Show Us Yours episodes:
Shapes And Sizes | Dirty On Purpose | Relay | Mobius Band | Frightened Rabbit | Assembly Now | Meneguar | Okay Paddy | Charmparticles | Calories | Sun Airway | It Hugs Back | Lubec | A Giant Dog | Bent Shapes | Krill | Golden Gurls | Earthquake Party! | Hallelujah The Hills | Seeds Of Doubt | The Cherry Wave | Coaches | Night Mechanic | Kindling

March 30, 2015

Regolith A3E2: Supriya Gunda Writes Songs Under The Gun

Regolith A3E2: Supriya Gunda Writes Songs Under The Gun

This one reads a bit like a manifesto at times, people, and we love it. Below we have part two -- or in Regolith parlance, that's A3E2, or Artist Three, Episode Two -- of Boston indie scene veteran Supriya Gunda's entry into Clicky Clicky's 30-day songwriting and song-recording challenge. "This isn't the right time and place for regular-ass rock," Ms. Gunda tells us in the midpoint interview below, speaking from somewhere, we imagine, deep inside a zone. "I can't stress the importance of just taking five minutes a day out of your life to breathe deeply, center yourself, and make a fucking dope beat," the proprietress of indie rock concern Digital Prisoners Of War continues. To say we're excited about where she's going with this, based on her focused responses to our informal check-in below about her progress, is an understatement. If you are just joining us, Gunda began her stint as our Regolith artist-in-her-own-residence a couple weeks back; the intro piece detailing Gunda's background and prior accomplishments is online here. Check out the complete interview below to learn more about her old-school, no frills approach, as it certainly gives us a sense of what we will (dope beats) and perhaps will not be hearing (guitar) when Supriya turns over her proverbial tapes at the close of the challenge in a couple weeks. And of course, don't forget to check back to hear the final results. We'll leave the light on for you. -- L. Tiburon Pacifico
Clicky Clicky: How has the project been going to this point? Easier or harder than you anticipated? What have been the biggest challenges?

Supriya Gunda: It's good! It's fun. I don't know [that] I have anything listenable going on but, who knows, maybe I do! It's a surprise! The biggest challenge is the everyday -- waking up, brushing teeth, driving on the Mass Pike westbound, sitting at a desk, eating, sleeping, repeating. But making the time to work on this is a visceral reminder that we only have so much time to work with in the first place. I can't stress the importance of just taking five minutes a day out of your life to breathe deeply, center yourself, and make a fucking dope beat.

CC: LOL, that statement would make a great framed needlepoint. Can you tell us a little about your recording equipment and setup? Are there specific reasons you use the equipment/software that you do?

SG: No need to get techie here -- dusty but trusty Tascam 4-track. $200 work-from-home laptop. IPhone voice memo recorder. Jewel-toned, CVS-brand earbud headphones plugged into the mic input for vocals. Pro gear, Pro 'tude.

CC: Could you describe for us the techniques you are using to get your sounds? Would you use the same techniques if time were not a limiting factor? How did you learn to record this way?

SG: I've been MacGyvering, mostly. You don't learn that in school. You learn that by watching "MacGyver."

CC: Do you have any unusual tricks or rooms/spaces you record in that are exclusive to your home studio?

SG: The bathroom isn't really unusual, but obviously a great place for natural reverb; likewise, under a blanket in bed can make for a great dead space.

CC: What instruments have you been using to this point? Do you foresee introducing others?

SG: I'm using a consumer-grade 1980s Yamaha keyboard and a lot of 'found' instruments. This isn't the right time and place for regular-ass rock. I might go guitar-free altogether.

CC: Do you find that the time limitations change your approach to writing and/or recording?

SG: Yes, in that I don't have time for self-doubt. I need to produce content without stopping to consider whether it is worthy of the world. Which, in turn, gives rise to the realization -- fuck what's worthy of the world. I NEVER have time for self doubt. #yolo.

CC: Do you feel that the songs are turning out differently than they otherwise would if you weren't restricted to 30 days? If so, what do you think would be different about them?

SG: Definitely. To paraphrase Taylor Swift, I think this may be my first real pop album!

CC: What makes you say that?

SG: Because I'm getting down to sick beats.

CC: At this point, do you find the time restrictions to be a hindering your process? Or do you find them to be liberating in some way?

SG: I find it to be very liberating. I crave endgames.
Well, an endgame is what she's got, as Ms. Gunda's time as our Regolith artist-in-her-own-residence draws to a close in a couple weeks, as stated supra. Be sure to check back in for our post mortem interview and the big reveal of Supriya's potentially guitar-free and likely dope-beated (beaten?) new sounds. If you somehow missed it previously, we've embedded Digital Prisoner of War's Casually Defying Physics EP below for your listening pleasure. And if you are just turning on to Regolith and want to click back through prior episodes featuring Guillermo Sexo/Future Carnivores/Emerald Comets guy Reuben Bettsak and Chandos bassist Sean Tracy below.

Previously On Regolith:
Regolith A3E1: Supriya Gunda Is A Songwriter
Regolith A2E3: Sean Tracy Presents Dye's Alone
Regolith A2E2: Sean Tracy Writes Songs Under The Gun
Regolith A2E1: Sean Tracy Is A Songwriter
Regolith A1E3: Reuben Bettsak Presents Emerald Comets' Inside Dream Room
Regolith A1E2: Reuben Bettsak Writing Songs Under The Gun
Regolith A1E1: Reuben Bettsak Is A Songwriter
Introducing... Regolith