July 18, 2015

Today's Hotness: Benjamin Shaw, Funeral Advantage

Benjamin Shaw -- Guppy (crop)

>> Benjamin Shaw is a favorite of this blog, and longtime readers will recall that the Londoner's music can be dark and challenging, as well as stunningly beautiful. Mr. Shaw's latest release, his fifth long-player by one count, is amusingly titled Guppy, a name that suggests something cute and inconsequential, adjectives that reasonable minds will never apply to Shaw's music. Guppy presents a series of contemplative, textural compositions and recalls his two most experimental releases, 2010's sinister wonder Rumfucker and 2013's increasingly abstract Summer In The Box Room [review]. The set opens with the gloomy, doomy dirge "Pride Of Canada," a side-long wink at Shaw's Canadian roots; the feedback and throbbing parts momentarily for a couplet from Shaw, resumes, then recedes for more sly lyrics and an unsteady denouement. "Good Arrows" patiently thrums a bass line out into eternity -- through occasional clouds of spectral voices and implied, supporting chords -- and echoes the work of classic Louisville post-rockers The For Carnation. Despite Guppy's ominous opening, there are moments of uncharacteristic serenity (the first in the catalogue to our memory) in the poignant, affecting "Fishing With Dad (No Dad)." The number asserts itself mildly via impulses of piano, pizzicato strings and streaks of field recordings that conjure reveries of a long-gone dawn in a perhaps never-was great outdoors. The collection ends very strongly with the beautiful, almost benevolent droner "Not Today, Satan," whose persistent density makes for a neat bookend to a fairly magical record. Tokyo-based microlabel Kirigirisu released Guppy July 13 in a limited edition of 72 compact discs and as a digital download; the CDs are hand-numbered, packaged in a paper sleeve, and come with two stickers, which we recall is the standard deal with Kirigirisu releases. Purchase Guppy in either format right here, and stream the entire collection via the Bandcamp embed below. We feel compelled to remind readers that Shaw's There's Always Hope, There's Always Cabernet, released by Audio Antihero, was our third favorite record of 2011 [list]. Also worthy of note in these electronic pages is another Kirigirisu release issued July 13, Nathan Derr's Abscessant. Mr. Derr hails from Portland, Ore., home of our beloved Lubec among, of course, many others, and his new collection of nine ambient compositions is perfect for late night zones or leisurely days at the library. Abscessent is available in a limited edition of 50 CDs and you can stream the entire set via the second embed below.

>> If you don't yet know the name Funeral Advantage, and you are a reader of this blog, well, that's pretty weird. But -- to the extent they exist now that the band has been championed in the normo-o-sphere -- the young band's days of relative anonymity are numbered and grow short, as the dazzling debut long-player Body Is Dead from the dream-pop act masterminded by Tyler Kershaw is poised to break big this summer. The collection is heralded by two terrifically appealing preview tracks, "Sisters" and "Gardensong." The former is a forthright and uptempo pop gem with whispered vocals and gently stuttering guitars in the verse that blends youth and longing right there with the lightning in the proverbial bottle; its timeless chorus breathes over linear guitar leads and burbling synths, and really could go on forever with nary a complaint from the Clicky Clicky mindhive. Despite its (Cure-esque) title, "Gardensong" is less precious, but no less affecting. The dashing tune is led by bright guitars and a sturdy drum track into a palpable mist of clean reverbs. Both numbers are undeniable hits, and at the moment there is no record we are more exited to hear this year. Body Is Dead was performed, written and recorded by Mr. Kershaw, and features additional vocals from Chelsea Figuerido. The 10-song set -- which takes its name from its 10-minute-long closer -- will be released on 12" vinyl, cassette and as a digital download Aug. 28. The vinyl will be available in a limited edition of 300 pieces (200 pressed to black media, 100 pressed to "dirt maroon") from the New York-based label Native Sound; a domestic cassette release (limited to 100 pieces, 80 "red glare" and 20 "darcia?") is being handled by Boston's own Disposable America, and a cassette version will also be available in Japan via Miles Apart. Funeral Advantage previously released a number of EPs and split singles with Caténine and Former Ghost, and completists will be pleased to learn that The Native Sound has packaged all of this up into special "Starter Packs" that can be ordered in tandem with Body Is Dead right here. For those who want to try before they buy, there is a fair amount to listen to at the act's Soundcloud page right here. Stream "Sisters" and "Gardensong" via the embeds below. Watch a fairly devastating video directed by Wooden Grain Films for "Sisters" from the new record right here.

July 17, 2015

Today's Hotness: Fog Lake, Sediment Club, Blank Realm

Fog Lake -- Victoria Park (crop)

>> A year in the making, Fog Lake's terrific long-player Victoria Park arrived late last month, and it sounds like the cool morning before a stifling hot summer day. The release, the third long-player from the St. John, Newfoundland-based act, is informed by both a beautiful melancholy and an ungraspable yet quenching nostalgia. Fog Lake is centered around the songwriting of talented introvert Aaron Powell, whose music here drones and hums, presenting spectral voices and thrumming piano chords and more than a little mystery in a blurry but entrancing pastiche that recalls the dark wonders of Cat Power's "What Would The Community Think?," for example. Fog Lake began as a solo project for Mr. Powell about seven years ago. Historically, he has written and recorded alone, but this changed with Victoria Park, on which he was abetted on Victoria Park by the synth playing of Kenney Purchase on a few songs (Powell also relies on additional players when performing live). The collection is consistently enchanting, but points of interest include the relatively uptempo and anthemic "Antidote," whose drone is spangled by distant snare and Powell's reedy tenor. The highlight of Victoria Park is the absolutely haunting, poignant album closer "Dog Years," a mesmerizing video for which was released to the wilds of the Internerds earlier this week; we strongly recommend you watch that right here.Orchid Tapes released Victoria Park June 30 in a limited edition of 115 white cassette tapes; unsurprisingly, it is already sold out. Orchid Tapes was quick to bring to market a second edition of its other recent hit, Katie Dey's tremendous asdfasdf [review], so it is very likely a second edition of Victoria Park will materialize shortly. In the meantime, stream the entire, excellent release via the Bandcamp embed below.

>> Like Empire State noiseniks Palberta, New York City-spawned no-wavers The Sediment Club bring a refreshing, random logic to its DIY house-show squealing, traits that make the veteran trio's careening, desperate music the perfect summer spazz-rock cocktail to complement the season's scorching weather and bizarro political times. Lead single and title track "Psychosymplistic, Psychosymplastic" unravels the act's curious madness in grand, pounding fashion. The swooping, elastic bass, staticy noise-guitar and Austin Sley Julian's yelping vocals contribute equally to the tune's chaos. The result is an aggressive listen sans many of the typical trappings peculiar to aggressive punk music. Mr. Julian's intensity and the ridiculous lines of the chorus challenge listeners to consider what precipitated such a pleasingly ramshackle -- yet air-tight -- attack. How did The Sediment Club get to this? What's beyond life's random accidents and puzzling combinations of sound and action? Maybe, just maybe, that's all life really is, and The Sediment Club are here to soundtrack the gradual melting of all preconceived notions into a dense, modern soup. Psychosymplistic, Psychosymplastic will be released by Wharf Cat Records July 24 on limited edition LP, CD and digital download. The LP is available in an edition of 100 pieces with hand-screened sleeve art; the CD is packaged in a special clamshell case with fancy sticker and apparently noteworthy bar code? Pre-order any of the formats right here. The Sediment Club formed in 2008 and touts a formidable back catalog of LPs, EPs, tapes and singles, much of which appears to be listed at its web dojo; check it out. The band plays a house show in Boston at something called Scorched Ear tonight -- ask a punk for deets. Listen to "Psychosymplistic, Psychosymplastic" via the embed below. -- Edward Charlton

>> Brisbane, Australia four Blank Realm caught our ear recently with "River Of Longing," a kaleidoscopic guitar-pop number that does justice to antipodean nation's infamous psych-tapestry heritage. From its upcoming sophomore album Illegals In Heaven, due out via Fire Records on Sept. 4, the band showcases dynamic and colorful guitar melodies that dance around singer Daniel Spencer's tossed, playful vocals. The knowing, casual allure of Mr. Spencer's delivery brings to mind that of Canadians Kevin Drew and Brennan Canning of Broken Social Scene, the commonality being brutally earnest but inviting melodies. Speaking of melody, that is the name of the game for Blank Realm; at times the band seems to have so many ideas that they nearly overwhelm the comparatively simple chords and structures that underpin "River Of Longing." The song's opening guitar chime provides a sturdy foundation for song's big, wiry hooks, an opening salvo coated in warm delay and echo that not only recalls Johnny Marr's note-dense playing in The Smiths but also something a little more modern, like the halfway point between The Church and the sunny, synthesizer-driven style that usually comes with music that feels this bouncy, sexy and hopeful. Illegals In Heaven was available in your choice of black or limited pink-and-white vinyl, but the limited edition pink-and-white edition has already gone the way of the dodo bird, so, sorry. Pre-order the black vinyl, or the handy CD or digital download versions, direct from the Blank Realm Bandcamp right here. -- Edward Charlton


July 11, 2015

That Was The Show That Was: Infinity Girl, Lubec, Guillermo Sexo, Havania Whaal | Great Scott | 9 July

That Was The Show That Was: Infinity Girl, Lubec, Guillermo Sexo, Havania Whaal | Great Scott | 9 July

We're going to remember this one for a long time. Not only was this big, big, big rock show Thursday night our first-ever IRL meeting with a very old and good friend, it was also our first time seeing Clicky Clicky fave Lubec and now-Clicky Clicky fave Havania Whaal. Our good friends in Guillermo Sexo were reliably spectacular, and shoegaze heroes Infinity Girl were just heroic. Great show, five stars, would recommend seeing again.

But of course there's more to it than that. Openers and Oregonites Havania Whaal was probably the least-known quantity for most folks in Boston -- locale of the first night of HW's tour with BandFF's Lubec -- and a number of folks sidled up to us to remark at how the trio impressed. The band opted for more uptempo and immediate material for its live set, which somewhat played down the band's characteristic darkwave flavor, but revealed in aural glimpses some of the band's more classic influences in Versus and Unrest. Official Show Saviors Guillermo Sexo backlined the entire night with their gear, but perhaps bigger contribution was its amazing set, which was richly textured and firmly dreamy. The band's stock in trade is atmospheric and moody psych-rock, which we've written about here in these electronic pages for years, but even after a decade Guillero Sexo is finding new tricks up their collective and proverbial sleeve. Its set was heavily tilted toward brand-new material, and the second song out of the gate was a stunner, uplifting and transcendant in a way we have not yet heard the band do it. We are eager to hear what comes next; a video for the new-ish tune "Graffiti Skies" is about to be unleashed, so keep your eyes open for that.

Lubec was simply tremendous, a constantly crescendoing miracle of dream-pop, its three players and their playing both perfectly aligned and balanced. The Portland three has played with a second guitarist previously, and we were wondering if we'd miss that element in the mix, but fronter Eddie Charlton's guitar work, keyboardist Caroline Jackson's work holding down the low and and spangling the upper register, and Matt Dressen's sturdy drumming complement each other in a remarkably graceful way. Lubec played the three songs from its hotly anticipated "Concentration" single (which will be out on vinyl and cassette via Like Young and Touchy Feely, respectively) as well as hits from its 2014 masterpiece The Thrall [review]. Finally, Infinity Girl delivered a powerful reminder of just what got these guys signed to Topshelf Records earlier this year. Its dynamic set included classics including "Please Forget" as well as its latest single, but we were particularly thrilled to hear them play what will surely be a monster hit, the uptempo and blurry instant classic "Dirty Sun." Trust us: the song is massive, like Top 10 all-time-favorite-songs massive. Infinity Girl will be back in Boston in early September playing a release show with totes sick support for its tremendous sophomore set Harm, which will be issued by Topshelf Aug. 17 [details].

Lubec and Havania Whaal's tour jogged to the left for a show in Worcester, Mass. Friday and blazed through Brooklyn just this afternoon, and from here on out they are heading due south toward Jacksonville, playing dates en route with Clicky Clicky faves Golden Gurls and Swings. The remaining tour dates are posted at the bottom of this item. We suppose this is as good a place as any to note that Golden Gurls seem to be brushing off the cobwebs and becoming more active again. The Baltimore trio loosed to the wilds of the Internerds late last month a short stack of demos called, unsurprisingly, New Old Demos [link], and we have it on good authority the band has new material in the works, so keep an ear on Baltimore. Well, not all of Baltimore, pretty much just them and a few others, yeh?

Big thanks go to Carl, Jesse and Dan at Great Scott, as without their support there'd have been no show and that would have been super-sad. Now is probably an opportune time to mention that this Clicky Clicky Presents thing is sort of happening, and will continue to happen, and we're planning a bunch of first-rate rock events straight through into the new year, which year will include a certain blog's 10th anniversary, based on the most reliable metric of measuring such things. Anyway, keep your gaze trained on this page, our Facebook dojo and Twitter outpost. You'll be glad you did. Now why don't you go grab another beer and stream the songs below?

Infinity Girl: Bandcamp | Facebook
Lubec: Bandcamp | Facebook
Guillermo Sexo: Bandcamp | Facebook
Havania Whaal: Facebook | Internerds

Lubec / Havania Whaal Tour Dates:
07.12 -- Philadelphia PA -- Bourbon & Branch
07.13 -- Baltimore MD -- Reverb
07.14 -- Washington, DC -- The Pinch
07.15 -- Norfolk, VA -- The Taphouse
07.16 -- Raleigh, NC -- Prisma Video
07.17 -- Asheville, NC -- Mothlight
07.18 -- Athens GA -- Flicker Bar
07.19 -- Jacksonville FL -- Burro Bar w/ Round Eye

July 4, 2015

Today's Hotness: Flying Saucer Attack, Happy Diving, Mourn

Flying Saucer Attack -- Instrumentals 2015 (crop)

>> A particularly cultish corner of the experimental rock music world was driven to hysteria month ago when it was finally announced that Flying Saucer Attack, one of the finest shoegaze/drone concerns of the 1990s, would release Instrumentals 2015 on Drag City Records this month. The new collection, due July 17, will be the band's first in 15 years! The apparently aptly titled, 15-song set features pieces recorded by fronter David Pearce (partner and vocalist Rachel Brook presumably sits this one out) to analog tape and CD-R at his home, a medium which served the band well on landmark static-und-drone releases Further and Distance. With hopes of appealing to both die-hard fans and those unfamiliar with the its catalog, Flying Saucer Attack's two preview tracks gently lull the listener while providing windows into Pearce's thoughtful and powerful sound world. "Instrumental 7" opens with smooth, mid-range guitar feedback that dramatically shuts off briefly at various intervals. As each drop-out occurs, swells of supporting notes join the feedback tone to establish additional new harmonies. Second single "Instrumental 4" takes a different approach, instead employing ear-splitting cascades of feedback and slowly plucked single-note guitar leads to slow time and space to a hypnotic background whir. With each track, the subtle mastery of the dynamics is first-class. Like another dreamy '90s shoegaze group, Auburn Lull, did last year with its magnificent Hiber cassette, the inimitable FSA have reappeared to show the seemingly burgeoning legions of bedroom drone instrumentalists how things are done. Pre-order Instrumentals 2015 on 12" vinyl, CD or cassette from Drag City Records right here. Both "Instrumental 7" and "Instrumental 4" can be streamed via our curiously but purposefully narrow YouTube embeds below. -- Edward Charlton

>> This publication was properly bowled over by Happy Diving's Father/Daughter-released debut long-player Big World last fall, and last month's news that the group are already set to return with a fresh 7" on the mighty (and getting mightier) Topshelf Records is certainly cause for celebration. Out July 17 on a variety of colored wax, the East Bay, Calif. band's preview single offers up two great, humid, chugging sludge-pop jams. A-side "So Bunted" recalls the Big World standout "Space Ooze" with its atypical structure, dense chordings and bummed-out vocals, while further pressing those signifiers as some of the band's greatest strengths. After a brief opening comprised of post-Blue Album guitar wailing, the group scales back to a single verse where guitarist/singer Matt Berry's plaintive, bruised vocal details a relationship gone as sour as the minor-to-major power chord changes that keep the song both murky and anthemic. Recorded in just four hours at The Atomic Garden with go-to California heavy-rock producer Jack Shirley (Deafhaven, Whirr, Joyce Manor), the two-minute piece is perfectly rendered in all of its live-sounding, signal-clipping glory. Happy Diving stay true to their monolithic approach to twenty-something, house show angst, and it promises even more fuzz-fest payouts on their next album, which at this rate of productivity just might be here by 2016. Pre-order "So Bunted" from Topshelf right here, and catch the band on its upcoming tour, the dates of which are listed out below. Stream "So Bunted" via the Soundcloud embed below. -- Edward Charlton

07/15 -- Oakland, CA -- One Fam
07/17 -- Portland, OR -- TBA
07/18 -- Olympia, WA -- Old School Pizzeria
07/19 -- Seattle, WA -- Office Space
07/20 -- Vancouver, BC -- Alf House
07/21 -- Victoria, BC -- The Mirancave
07/23 -- Santa Rosa, CA -- The Funk Den
07/24 -- San Francisco, CA -- Thee Parkside
07/25 -- Santa Cruz, CA -- Cafe Pergolesi
07/26 -- Los Angeles, CA -- The Echo
07/27 -- Corona, CA -- Sinbad's Hookah Lounge
07/28 -- San Diego, CA -- Che Cafe
07/29 -- Merced, CA -- Tigers & Daggers Records
09/04-09/06 -- Berkeley, CA -- Resurrect Cali Fest @ 924 Gilman

>> This reviewer admittedly missed Mourn's Captured Tracks-released self-titled debut album, which was issued in February, but the quartet's wickedly quick follow up Gertrudis 7" was enough to send us back to listen to it. The much-hyped Catalonian co-ed punk group apparently represent a rising wave of young Spanish punk which has greatly excited tastemakers including Captured Tracks' Mike Sniper, and A-side "Gertrudis, Get Through This!" certainly bears out that heightened interest. Opening with a kinetic, prickly guitar riff, the song highlights the cool vocals of Carla Perez Vas, which echo those of the band's idols including PJ Harvey and Sonic Youth. Building in tension as the instruments remain sturdy and straight, Ms. Vas breaks from a clear and upfront coo to a desperate chorus that brings to mind other European positive feminist punk outfits such as Welsh powerhouse Joanna Gruesome. While straightforward in its construction, the song shifts so dynamically into the "get through this!" chorus that the youthful angst of Mourn arrives in ear canals completely, precisely. Album number two will certainly not be slept on after a wake up call like this, and a release date has been tentatively scheduled for this very month. In the meantime, grab the single digitally via Steve Jobs MegaCo. right here. -- Edward Charlton

June 28, 2015

Clicky Clicky Presents: Infinity Girl, Lubec, Guillermo Sexo, Havania Whaal | Great Scott, Boston | 9 July

Clicky Clicky Presents: Infinity Girl, Lubec, Guillermo Sexo, Havania Whaal | Great Scott, Boston | 9 July

We promised an official announcement weeks ago when the date gelled, but, well, we've been busy, you've been busy, Mercury was in retrograde, etc. But here we are, with the big, big official announcement of our second Clicky Clicky Presents event (if you count the Together series as one thing) of 2015: July 9. Great Scott rock club in Boston. Infinity Girl. Lubec. Guillermo Sexo. Havania Whaal.

Es correcto! That's just 10 days hence. And these bands have stuff going on. Shoegaze titans Infinity Girl recently announced they had signed with Topshelf Records, and its sophomore album Harm will be released in August. The Brooklyn four's first preview single made a splash on the Internerds, and we can assure readers that any other preview singles -- should they come along -- will also blow minds. Portland, OR dream-pop gigantes Lubec are prepping a new vinyl and cassette release featuring the tunes "Concentration" and, as the embed below illustrates, "Many Worlds." Boston psych-pop stalwarts Guillermo Sexo launched early this month a very, very cool video for its new tune "Graffiti Sky," which is the first taste of its forthcoming sixth long-player Eclipse, due this fall, likely on the Midriff Records imprint. And Havania Whaal just loosed to the wilds of the Interpants an engaging, moody concept record titled 13 A.D. And not only does this particular bill epitomize the descriptor "stacked," it is the first night of Lubec and Havania Whaal's East Coast tour, which will dreamily blitzkrieg venues from Boston to Jacksonville over the course of 10 big nights; full tour dates are right here. Look for posters trumpeting the Boston date around town now, designed by Lubec drummer Matt Dressen and now situated in your general vicinity and visual field courtesy of the skilled hands of Staff Writer Dillon Riley.

There is a Facebook event page for the Boston date, as well, and we encourage you to hit this link and pledge your allegiance now so we know you are coming. And tickets! Buy tickets, tickets for you, tickets for your roommate, tickets for you mom. We'd like that, as the more tickets you buy, the more faith the nice people at Great Scott have in us when we pitch bills in the future. While you wait for the big day to arrive, soak up some sounds from the four bands on the bill via the various embeds below. They will complete you.

Infinity Girl: Bandcamp | Facebook | Soundcloud

Lubec: Bandcamp | Facebook | Soundcloud

Guillermo Sexo: Bandcamp | Facebook | Soundcloud

Havania Whaal: Bandcamp | Facebook | Soundcloud


June 24, 2015

Show Us Yours #27: Mittenfields

We just recorded our mid-year review for CompCon with KoomDogg (here's part one), and we've been figuratively kicking ourselves because we failed to mention a terrific rock record from Washington, D.C. quintet Mittenfields. The band's long-player Optimists was released in late April and it has since become one of those go-to records for us, the kind of thing -- along with Beeef's tremendous Beeef EP, and Colleen's Captain Of None, and a couple others -- that we put on when we want to take a break for the hamster wheel of reviewing things and simply enjoy a listening experience. Optimists is big guitars and wall-to-wall hooks, and it is fraught with terrifically affecting, impassioned vocals the elongated vowels of which echo those of David Byrne. It's not really accurate to call Optimists an emo record, but the more we listen to it, the more appropriate the tag (meant to connote the modern, non-mallpunk sense of the term "emo") seems. But the thing that attracted us to Mittenfields' music is it can't really be pigeon-holed, and we especially love how it doesn't present overt "D.C.-ness." It's just a big rock record with tons of great melodies (driven home by the act's three-guitar attack), and is probably more like Built To Spill's Perfect From Now On than any release bearing the Dischord or DeSoto imprints. Pressed for additional RIYLs, we'd offer Dark Blue and The Boyfriends. But Optimists deserves to be met on its own terms, and we recommend heading directly to the album highlight "Telepathic Windows" -- and its heartbreaking, repeated assertion "you're never gonna get what you want" -- as a great introduction to the band.

Despite having just pushed out its full-length LP, Mittenfields has been around for seven years, its earliest germ springing from a Craigslist ad posted by bassist and singer Dave Mann. The lineup shifted for a couple years, but the act's three-guitar attack -- inspired by a particularly compelling Broken Social Scene show -- gelled around 2010, and now includes guitarists Sam Sherwood, Donald Seale and Michael Ball, as well as longtime drummer Brian Moran. After living with Optimists for several weeks we decided it was high time to get in touch with the band to learn more about how they do what they do and where they do it as part of our long, long suffering featurette Show Us Yours. All of the Mittenfields guys were super gracious with their time, so there's a lot of interesting stuff here, about gentrification, pie, and some upcoming tour dates. Oh, did we forget to mention that dudes practice in the back of a pie shop? Yeah, you read that right. Our advice? Click on the embed at the foot of the post, scroll back up here, and dig in.
Clicky Clicky: So why do you use this practice space? What makes a pie shop -- let me say that again for any readers who were like "wait, what?" -- a pie shop the best space for Mittenfields to practice in right now? This makes me wonder about the noise-dampening qualities of pie...

Sam Sherwood: One of the (many) side effects of the gentrification of so much of DC is that it's pretty tough to find a practice space at all: every commercial or industrial space in town is just waiting to become another small plates restaurant, and bands can't really compete with that rent-wise. And practicing in a house or apartment at the volume level we play at is a non-starter if you don't want your neighbors calling the cops every week.

Dangerously Delicious Pies has a solid rock and roll pedigree -- it was started in Baltimore over a decade ago by Rodney Henry, the frontman for the Glenmont Popes. They opened their first DC outpost a few years back on H Street NE (pretty much ground zero for the aforementioned gentrification), but the building was bigger than they really needed. Somebody had the excellent idea of putting up some soundproofing in the back rooms, setting up some PAs, and running the extra space as a full-time rehearsal studio. Pie Shop Studios pretty much checks all the boxes: good gear, plenty of nearby bars for pre/post-practice "band meetings", and sweet, sweet (or savory) pie.

CC: Is there an idiosyncrasy or quirk to the space that has affected the sound of one of your songs, or even the overall Mittenfields sound?

SS: The space itself is pretty straightforward -- we wish we had a story about how some weird reverb property of the room inspired the backwards guitar effect on "Doctor! Doctor!" but that would be a lie (I think). Sonically, the most notable feature is the presence of Supreme Commander, who've practiced in the same time slot as us pretty much the whole time we've been there. This is a major bonus. First, they're excellent guys. But also, we can get pretty bogged down in the minutiae of arranging parts for three guitars. When that gets frustrating, it's nice to step outside the room and hear the roar of Supreme Commander down the hall, just kicking ass and not arguing about major 7th voicings.

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

Brian Moran: I do wish I could say delicious pies baking and just waiting to be eaten. Unfortunately, it's not quite so glamorous. The place is very well ventilated for a practice space, and the other bands are respectful, but sometimes you can't shake the smell of sweat from the walls. The load-in area is also in an alley, right next to some big dumpsters, so that smells don't make their way inside the space, [but] can still hang out for a while in your nostrils. But no pies. I think the baking is done in the morning anyways.

CC: I see you've got dates in Arlington, VA this month and next month -- and then a show somewhat randomly in Atlantic City, NJ in Aug. I think that is the first time I've heard of an indie rock show in Atlantic City. Have you played there before? Is there a scene there?

BM: My first show with Dave and Sam was actually in Atlantic City. I'm guessing at the very same venue that we're playing coming up. We had the name Mittenfields, but instead of Mike and Donald, we had a keyboardist and a trumpet player. It was a rather different time. But like many leads we get through Dave, I usually never get much of a grasp on how we gained this contact in Atlantic City. We're playing some sort of festival over there -- from what I understand, the guy runs two festivals a year or so. The shows aren't held in the champagne-of-beers casinos of Atlantic City, but in tiny little bars, just like everywhere else. From what I remember about the Atlantic City show 5 years ago, there was a strong sense of community. I think bands came from all over to play there, but everyone was real cool to each other. I imagine someone's gotta live and play music there though?

CC: We're a very big fan of Optimists here at the blog. The thing that I find curious about it is that there is nothing about it that very overtly screams "THIS IS A D.C. BAND!" While it is definitely noise-pop of a certain stripe, the music on Optimists doesn't betray a huge Dischord, DeSoto or Slumberland influence. Was that a conscious decision at some point, to not sound like "a D.C. band," and to sound more like, say, contemporary hitmakers Dark Blue or The Boyfriends or whatever?

Donald Seale: We didn't really set out to get away from or try to honor the classic DC sound. It's more that it isn't relevant to what we are doing. We all have a few points of musical intersection but we have fairly disparate tastes. We are more worried about the parts fitting together in a way that satisfies us than just following genre conventions. Genre is kind of nebulous anyway. We just want to make memorable music that will have an emotional impact and hopefully be of value to somebody. If we played a more traditional or regional kind of music then the indigenous styles would be more valuable reference points. I personally grew up on punk rock and have a soft spot for all of that stuff, but it was created by a bunch of pissed off kids almost thirty years ago. While we (or more accurately I) am still pissed off, we aren't kids who for some reason are adamant about not ever getting laid or having a drink or just giving it a fucking rest for a minute. That said, the DIY spirit is alive and well in the world of Mittenfields. We do just about everything in-house which allows us the luxury of doing things exactly how we want. In that sense there is a real influence. So I guess philosophically that spirit is alive and well even if isn't immediately, musically apparent. Although, there are still a few spots where banging out some barre chords at an absurdly fast speed speed is really the only viable option. If you listen you'll catch it. Also, I'm still just looking for an excuse to shove a Doc Marten up someone's ass. Maybe we need a more adversarial audience to bring out the punk rock spirit.

CC: We suppose it would be really fun here if your response to that last question was hurt disappointment, like, "Damn it, we were REALLY trying to sound like Nation Of Ulysses!"

DS: Sorry to disappoint you.

CC: So what does the rest of the year look like for Mittenfields?

Michael Ball: More shows, more music. We've got a few local dates lined up, and plan to head up to Atlantic City in early August for an indie rock festival. We are also putting together some dates in the south -- Raleigh, Atlanta, Oxford, MS, and Chattanooga -- in mid-September. Beyond that, there are a few other shows here and there we hope to pick up, but nothing firm just yet. We're already working on some new tunes and trying to keep the creative juices flowing. Don't want to go four years between releases again.
Optimists is available now in a limited edition of 300 vinyl LPs, as well as on CD or as a digital download, all of which one can avail one's self of right here at the Mittenfields Bandcamp. Stream the entire LP via the embed below. As noted above, Mittenfields have two pending live engagements, and details of those dates are noted below as well. Our thanks to all of the Mittenfields guys for playing along and making Show Us Yours 27 a pretty darn good one.

Mittenfields: Bandcamp | Facebook

07.11 -- IOTA Club -- Arlington, VA
08.08 -- The Boneyard -- Atlantic City, NJ

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 | Julius Earthling | Hideous Towns

June 22, 2015

That Was The Show That Was: Viet Cong, Girl Band, Palehound | The Sinclair | 16 June

That Was The Show That Was: Viet Cong, Girl Band, Palehoud | The Sinclair | 16 June

[PHOTO: Dillon Riley] Attentive readers will recall that we were captivated by the initial offerings from then-shadowy Canadian collective Viet Cong. The buzzed-about foursome sprung from the ashes of brotherly outfit Women, but the music on its demo collection-turned-debut Cassette went to significantly darker places than those mapped by the erstwhile act. Exactly one more massive LP -- and, it should be noted, one less-massive tempest in a teapot -- later, and the band's proverbial stock has risen rapidly to a rarified place marked by high-profile festival slots and, if last Tuesday’s show in Cambridge, Mass. is any indication, packed and frantic club tours.

That rapid ascent does not mean the quartet hasn't put in the time. Indeed, Viet Cong has already logged an insane amount of miles on the road, and was in Boston less than a year ago. While the choice of ordering its live set in chronological release order might suggest tedious performance by rote to someone who didn't actually see last week's show, the band played as if free from any long-standing road weariness when it took to the improbably tall stage at the Sinclair in Harvard Square. There Viet Cong breathed vibrancy into tracks off the aforementioned Cassette and its thrilling, self-titled collection released in January. Early highlights "Throw It Away" and "Unconscious Melody" were as elastic and catchy as ever, even as the tunes remain somewhat defined by their influences.

But the set's most gratifying moments arrived when the band dipped into its most recent material. Viet Cong endeavors to bend accepted post-punk templates to its own idiosyncratic vision in the music of its self-titled long player, and the dense sonic world they created there gets stretched to its very limits when presented live. While tunes including "Bunker Buster" that could loosely be described as, well, loose were rendered as taut, danceable salvos at Sinclair, Viet Cong refused to be confined by its compositions. And so the krautrock-y keyboard lead intro to "March Of Progress" was extended into a marathon jam, and the already transcendent, 12-minute long "Death" sprawled into a nearly 20-minute, start-stop noise epic during which guitar strings were literally pulled from frets. This was decidedly NOT the sight and sound of a band bored with a relatively limited oeuvre, and we cannot wait to see what they do with the next batch of songs they tour into oblivion.

Hotly tipped Irish four-piece Girl Band provided touring support, delivering new tunes from a planned debut LP to be released this fall whose fury and creative anti-virtuosity matched the vibe of their singles and EPs. And Clicky Clicky faves Palehound opened with tunes off their now-officially forthcoming debut LP Dry Food, which is due Aug. 14 via hit factory Exploding In Sound. Viet Cong is out now via Jagjaguwar and it is available for purchase right here. Stream cuts from the record, as well as the new Palehound joint "Molly," below. -- Dillon Riley

Viet Cong: Bandcamp | Facebook

Girl Band: Bandcamp | Facebook | Internerds

Palehound: Bandcamp | Facebook