September 1, 2014

Boston Calling This Weekend: The Replacements Return To Boston For First Show In 23 Years

The Replacements, Toronto, Ontario, Aug. 2013, photo by Brad Searles, used by permission (crop)
[PHOTO: The Replacements in Toronto in Aug. 2013 by Brad Searles, used with permission]

We don't often write about The Replacements here for the same reason people most people don't often write about gravity. The Minneapolis-spawned act is hugely important, but at this point it is largely taken for granted that the quartet's music and attitude underpin just about every square inch of indie rock. Mainstream music fans can certainly be excused for regarding the quartet as a footnote: The 'Mats rated zero gold records; zero platinum records; zero top 20 hits. They were never asked to appear on "The Muppet Show," they were banned from "Saturday Night Live" (think REALLY HARD about that). The band's original lead guitarist is dead, the original drummer would rather be a painter, and the frontman for years said he would rather stay home.

But the legend of the band has grown with each passing year since its roadies bashed out their last notes -- the de rigueur ending of many a Replacements show during the act's original run -- in Chicago on July 4, 1991. And so a funny thing happened on the way to oblivion: it basically became stupid for fronter Paul Westerberg NOT to join up with bassist Tommy Stinson again, along with some trusty old friends, and just take the money (rumored to be in the ballpark of $250,000 per show). And, thank the higher power of your choosing, some of that filthy lucre is bringing the legendary, Our Band Could Be Your Life'd rock act to town for the latest iteration of the Boston Calling music festival this coming weekend.

You've heard the legends, right? The drunken antics, the feces in the elevator, the seemingly intentional torpedoing of big gigs during the band's wild '80s. Indeed, its instincts regularly tilted toward pissing upon the polished loafers of opportunity. And so the seeds of the current reunion weren't sown by promises of the big payoff, or at least not solely so. First Mssrs. Westerberg and Stinson along with founding drummer Chris Mars got together to record two tunes including "Message To The Boys" to entice fans to buy the fairly superfluous 2006 compilation Don't You Know Who I Think I Was? Mr. Mars didn't actually drum on the 2006 recordings -- drumming duties fell to current 'Mats drummer/musical journeyman Josh Freese -- but he did contribute backing vocals. But everything seemed to go well, and well enough that the band set to recording again last year.

It is the recording sessions for the 2013 EP Songs For Slim -- which aimed to raise money to help late-period 'Mats guitarist Slim Dunlap recover from a stroke (founding guitarist Bob Stinson's body succumbed to years of alcohol and drug abuse in 1995) -- that ultimately spurred the band into its present state of sorta-being. Indeed, press for the release of Songs For Slim was almost completely overshadowed by pronouncements from Paul and Tommy indicating that playing shows under the Replacements moniker was no longer out of question. And then the 'Mats tumbled into an improbable new existence, top-lining festivals over the last 12 months, and now -- finally, Finally, FINALLY -- bringing the show to Boston once again.

Looking at this set list of The Replacements' heretofore final Boston show, which occurred all the way back in February '91, one sees the band didn't dip any further back into its catalog than "Within Your Reach," its debut LP and Stink EP ignored at least for the night (Westerberg, we should note for those that don't know, enjoyed a pretty hopping solo career after the dissolution of The Replacements, but he has not played Boston since 2006). Which is something that, unsurprisingly, distinguishes The Replacements of 1991 from the (sorta) Replacements of 2014. While giving the people what they want these days has sometimes required Westerberg to lay on a couch on stage, set lists for all the reunion gigs have included tunes from as far back as the band's first LP, which has thrilled the hardcore fans who have the pocket change to purchase the pricey festival tickets one needs in order to gain an audience with The Replacements these days. Boston fans attending this weekend's Boston Calling festival were asked to part with at least $75 for the opportunity to see The 'Mats Sunday night slotted in between Spoon and The Roots with Nas. Even so, we imagine nary a one will be complaining about the ducats when the band hits the stage.

Old-time Boston rock fans will see a familiar face on stage, of course, assuming Dave Minehan is handling guitar duties for the show. Mr. Minehan made his name in the Boston act The Neighborhoods in the early '80s and later as a noted recording engineer around town. And if Minehan's face doesn't ring a bell for the kids in the audience, it's possible that The Replacements will bring along Green Day's Billie Joe Armstrong to help out on vocals and guitar; Mr. Armstrong, as obliquely alluded to supra, has been playing with the group a fair amount this festival season, and his schedule looks clear for a while. If that's a thing you would hope for, then go ahead and hope -- anything to make this week go by faster, yeah? For what it is worth, here is a Clicky Clicky's Choice of 21 favorite 'Mats tunes. Get down front Sunday night to hear some of 'em.

Clicky Clicky's Choice: 21 Favorite Replacements Songs In Discographical Order
//Spotify Playlist//
"Johnny's Gonna Die"
"Kids Don't Follow"
"Color Me Impressed"
"Within Your Reach"
"I Will Dare"
"Favorite Thing"
"Answering Machine"
"Bastards Of Young"
"Left Of The Dial"
"Here Comes A Regular"
"Alex Chilton"
"Nightclub Jitters"
"Can't Hardly Wait"
"Talent Show"
"I'll Be You"
"Merry Go Round"
"Sadly Beautiful"
"All Shook Down"

August 31, 2014

That Was The Show That Was: Perfect Pussy, Joanna Gruesome, Potty Mouth and Love Of Everything | The Sinclair, Cambridge | 27 Aug.

Perfect Pussy at The Sinclair, Cambridge, Mass., Aug. 27, 2014, photo by Dillon Riley

There was a moment very early into Welsh noise-pop quintet Joanna Gruesome's headlining set at The Sinclair Wednesday that emphasized just how important its collective voice is, separate and apart from band's music. Fronter Alanna McArdle, sensing senseless aggression from a certain subset of overzealous concertgoers, stood at the lip of the stage and figuratively shot venom out of her eyes through the extended outro of set opener "Secret Surprise" as she slowly shook her head in disgust [shades of Mackaye in '94, we dare say -- Ed.]. Message received -- by most. By show's end, spurred at least in part by one woman's trip to the hospital, McArdle had again addressed the ever-shrinking pit, this time demanding the bad actors' swift exit from the venue, and to the cheers of nearly everyone in the audience, they solemnly obliged. Good guys win. Three cheers.

Between those moments of punk rock social engineering transpired an extremely impressive set that delivered would-be hit after should-be hit from Joanna Gruesome's boundlessly vital Slumberland debut Weird Sister [review]. While the world awaits a new collection of what will likely be equally exciting noise-pop, the Gruesomes plays the short game, releasing a winning series of split singles, including -- most crucially -- 7" records with fellow fuzz traffickers Trust Fund and present tourmates Perfect Pussy. We were treated Wednesday to the Welsh unit's sides of both singles, including an utterly gorgeous take on "Jerome (Liar)" from the Trust Fund release, a tune that makes a strong case for the argument that Joanna Gruesome has far larger things ahead of them. Following McArdle's call-out near the end of its set, the band ripped through a totally lethal rendition of its undeniable sonic calling card "Sugarcrush," pushing the tune's raging undercurrent into a swell of all-encompassing noise as McArdle coldly stormed offstage well before the beat dropped out. We couldn't help but feel like Boston let the band down big-time.

Prior to that legendary exhibition of noisy prowess, current champions of unadulterated distortion Perfect Pussy unleashed a powerful, sub-30 minute cathartic release of sonic energy. The band didn't really play all that many "songs" -- the bit of music rendered closest to its recorded counterpart was the drifting, confessional "Interference Fits" -- instead choosing to run everything into the ground in two-to-three-minute shifts punctuated by short tuning breaks and occasional thanks from fronter Meredith Graves. It goes without saying that we were stunned at what we believe was Perfect Pussy's first show in Boston at Tufts University last year prior to the release of its Captured Tracks debut Say Yes To Love [review], but Wednesday's performance stands head and shoulders above. Delivering tenfold on every captivating element of Love, Perfect Pussy are a transcendent act whose conviction and commitment to complete aural immolation make its music literally awesome to behold.

Western MA garage-punk standouts Potty Mouth performed second on the bill, with new guitar player Ali Donohue from Fleabite in tow, and proffered an array of as-yet-unreleased tunes. Readers will recall we delivered a positive assessment of Potty Mouth's still-rad debut Hell Bent via Vanyaland last year, but the act's newer jams are poised to substantially raise its game. Largely doing away with the brittle, surfy lead guitar lines scattered across Hell Bent in favor of a increased heft and melodic chug, the songs practically beg for Justin Pizzoferratto's production, which we're given to understand is Potty Mouth's next move, and a smart one at that. Chicago-based one-man-band Love Of Everything -- or for those in the know, Bobby Burg of Joan Of Arc fame -- opened the night mixing live guitar, bass, and synth loops with found percussion and camera flashes, among many other things. His songs are pure jangle-pop beauty, and Mr. Burg's live show is a horse of a different color, entirely, and commenced a near-perfect night of music quite nicely. -- Dillon Riley

August 28, 2014

Today's Hotness: Ahuizotl, Glish, Ultimate Painting, Enchanted Hunters

Ahuizotl -- Integrity Is Overrated (crop)

>> It's been more than two years since we first turned onto Cologne, Germany-based noise pop band Ahuizotl. Back in early 2012 we were significantly jazzed by the foursome's Lice EP, and we've been eagerly awaiting new material ever since. Our patience is finally being rewarded, as the quartet at long last announced last week that its debut long-player Integrity Is Overrated will be released Oct. 24 on the Cologne-based imprint Tumbleweed Records. The first preview of the forthcoming set is the quasi-title track "Movie," a compact and downcast slice of strummy guitar-pop that reiterates the best aspects of the tunes on the Lice EP, namely foregrounded guitars, precise rhythms, dreamy synth and yearning vocals. This is not to say that Ahuizotl doesn't have any new tricks up its collective proverbial sleeve. We've had a secret listen to another album track, "I Wanna Be Ignored," an ambitious, eight-minute pop suite that finds the band pushing at the boundaries of its sound in exciting ways. Looking at the 10-song track listing for Integrity Is Overrated, it appears two tunes from Lice also made the cut for the new collection, "Slide" and "Self-Made." All of which adds up to our being very stoked to hear the new set. Stream "Movie" via the embed below, and we'll make certain to alert readers when pre-orders begin for Integrity Is Overrated.

>> While many shoegaze fans hold the synthetic and textured sounds of landmark records such as My Bloody Valentine's Loveless and Slowdive's Souvlaki to be the highest ideal (and justifiably so), this reviewer prefers his dream-pop to work in the scrappier, home-grown vein. The smashing new single from New Orleans five-piece Glish hits right in that mythical sweet spot and is one of the best tracks of its kind to arrive this year. "Stu Hunkington," from the quintet's debut self-titled full-length out on Texas Is Funny Nov. 4, is an exercise in punky, whammy-bar delirium. The tune operates in a joyous, full-bore manner the likes of which have not been heard since perphaps the Swirlies' colossal 1993 full-length album Blonder Tongue Audio Baton (the actual pinnacle of the genre -- wink). Opening with a choppy, oblong two-chord riff, the song launches into a whirlwind of hardcore-influenced drumming, close-but-far vocal harmonies and a clean drum production style geared more toward capturing Glish's house show-styled combustibility more than any attempt at a delicate, dream-like environment. The best part of "Stu Hunkington," though, is surely what's going on in the left speaker. There, the lead guitarist's squealing and squelching lead notes not only drive the composition, but they inject just the right amount of chaotic danger to offset the open-vowel singing and skyrocketing kit. Think of it as a lone, unpredictable gale force wind interrupting the serene drift of a high-altitude balloon. Watch the Texas Is Funny digital storefront here for details on how to order Glish, as those details certainly should be cropping up soon. Stream "Stu Hunkington" via the embed below. -- Edward Charlton

>> We're pretty dang excited for the debut full-length from Ultimate Painting, the London superlative-earning duo of Jack Cooper from Mazes and James Hoare of pace-setting pop heroes Veronica Falls. The pair recently shared a new track from their upcoming self-titled debut, which is due Oct. 28 via the wonderful Trouble In Mind records. That new song, "Winter In Your Heart," provides still further evidence that Ultimate Painting's album will be a real gem. While there is really nothing new to add to our prior report beyond this new tune, we felt compelled enough by its gentle, breezy savoir faire to highlight it for our readers. Similar to what we said about the Ultimate Painting's title track in July, "Winter In Your Heart" explores the group's keen grasp of Velvet Underground-styled pop dynamics. Indeed, "Winter" has the same pure, undiluted warmth that makes the VU's self-titled third album such a timeless treat. It also sticks closely to a formalist song structure, while the up-close texture to the guitars (you can see the strings) and the simple, assured backing vocals lend the song a communal, happily-stoned jam-session vibe that eschews the seriousness of a lot of contemporary indie music. Keep your eyes peeled for the album pre-order details here, and we'll promise to do the same. While you wait, stream the terrific cut "Winter In Your Heart" via the embed below. Incidentally, we're growing impatient for news of new music from Veronica Falls, whose outstanding Waiting For Something To Happen was one of our favorite records of 2013. Here's hoping that, after the Ultimate Painting album cycle is complete, it is not a long wait for news of something new from Veronica Falls. -- Edward Charlton

>> Gdansk, Poland's Enchanted Hunters recently issued to the wilds of the Interzizzles its Little Crushes EP, an exotic, loungy indie-pop offering that sits just right as the lazy days of summers reach a final, comforting end, martini in hand. The four-piece is following up 2012's Peoria album with the new collection, which showcases a unique, woodsy spin on very European music. The tune "Hel" juxtaposes brushed drums with faraway, reverberated finger slides and a wordless vocal melody. Enchanted Hunters go all-in at the end of the track, too, when some unexpected jazz flute closes out the charming piece. EP highlight "Topiellica" makes room for chorused electric guitar, which glides underneath the gorgeous (and presumably Polish-language) layered vocal melodies. The combined effect transports one to a back alley jazz club, as if led by the hand of Bjork or Stereolab's Laetitia Sadier. As with the aforementioned Stereolab, Enchanted Hunters dwell on -- even delve into -- the little details, such as the watery, synthesized strings that play about during the verses of that song. Opener "Sonny" relies on the patterns and figures of various non-percussive instruments to anchor catchy vocals, culminating in a breezy sing-along during the final 30 seconds. It's in moments like these, it becomes apparent that the band is confident enough in its songcraft to not only be mindful of such subtleties, but also keep listeners intrigued throughout all of Little Crushes. Listen to the entire EP below, and buy it right here. -- Edward Charlton

August 27, 2014

That Was The Show That Was: Grooms with Hooray For Earth | ICA, Boston | 22 Aug.

[PHOTOS: Quinn Banford, special to Clicky Clicky] In a perfect world, Brooklyn-based dream-pop concern Grooms would be a band on a massive upswing. We hate to classify them as "underrated," as we wish continued success for them and every other act we ramble on about on the Clicky Clicky-sphere, but the Azerrad-approved touring threesome's colossal 2013 LP Infinity Caller failed to breech the overground despite critical acclaim and even a nod from Speedy Ortiz's Sadie Dupuis. New York synth-rockers Hooray For Earth had the band join them on tour for close to a month this summer, including a penultimate stop in Boston Friday night for the similarly penultimate evening of the Institute for Contemporary Arts' current Wavelengths series, which has also featured, among others, the legendary Dean Wareham and notable electronic artist André Obin.

When we last checked in on Grooms in October, they were headlining a tour supporting the aforementioned Infinity Caller. At the ICA Friday the act revisited a few tunes from the collection, including a particularly vital take on "Lion Name," but focused primarily on delivering new tunes from an as-yet-unreleased new record that has been teased in various social media posts. These newer tunes retain and build upon the things we've come to love most about Grooms: the precise, almost prose-like lyrics of fronter Travis Johnson, inventive and atmospheric guitar interplay and a steady rhythmic approach, which taken together plays at times like a smart, modern take on the sound proffered by Kitchens Of Distinction decades ago. Tunes we know and love, like the Infinity Caller highlight "Very Very Librarian," mixed well with Grooms' newer compositions and made for a more than satisfying opening set. Purchase Infinity Caller from Western Digital right here; two tracks from the record are embedded below.

Hooray For Earth's headlining set affirmed the quartet's status as a big-time and pop-friendly indie rock band. While sound problems hampered momentum early on, the band found its footing in plenty of time to deliver a strong performance, and even had a cool visual display going on the ICA's roof. Tracks from the act's recently released Racy, which minimizes the dancier outliers of its debut in favor of a more guitar-charged attack, rang out into the summer night and elicited the strongest reactions from the crowd. Racy was issued by Dovecote Records July 29, and it can be purchased right here; stream the bouncy single "Keys" via the Soundcloud embed below. The show, held out of doors at the ICA, was an all-around delight, and we can only hope the ICA brings Wavlengths back in 2015. -- Dillon Riley

Grooms: Bandcamp | Facebook | Internerds

Previous Coverage:
That Was The Show That Was | Grooms with Young Adults, Chandeliers, Vegans | Great Scott | 9 Oct.
Young Adults, Grooms, Ovlov and Soccer Mom | Great Scott, Boston | 11 July

August 26, 2014

Premiere: Big Mess' Pummeling You Are My Sunshine

Big Mess -- You Are My Sunshine

We are pleased to premiere for you today the majestic and gritty debut full length from Lowell, Mass. and Boston-based trio Big Mess. You Are My Sunshine touts six monolithic instrumentals. And while there are no vocals on the three-year-old threesome's set, that does not mean its music is not lyrical. Indeed, the imaginative shifts from spare to saturated give You Are My Sunshine something like a narrative flow. We've seen the descriptors "doom" and "metal" tagged to the music of Big Mess, but the trio's writing is at once too melodic and too graceful to really fit those adjectives well. Sure, aesthetically certain elements of those styles are present here -- in Olivia Close's gut-rumbling bass and more generally the flattening weight of the act's favored mid-tempo battery -- but the more melodic passages of songs like "Headbone" and the playful (but poky) bounce to the curiously titled "Pounding Piss Touch" give the proceedings a pleasantly slack overtone, as well. The trio may be at its most thrilling as it pursues its most minimal tendencies: the final half of closer "New World Order Blues" works a totally sick, Shellac-esque groove with a single note repeated before returning through a tight feedback portal to an earlier motif.

You Are My Sunshine was recorded in July 2013 at Dead Air Space with Will Killingsworth, whose name we mention again here because we continue to encounter it in the credits of great records. This particular record will be released by Midnight Werewolf Sept. 16 in a limited edition of 300 multicolored 12" vinyl records; the set is also available as a digital download, and both the visceral and the virtual versions can be pre-ordered right now via the Midnight Werewolf Bandcamp wigwam right here. The threesome also intends to sell a self-released cassette version. Big Mess embarks on an ambitious month-long U.S. tour beginning Sept. 2, and all dates are listed below. At press time some of those dates lack a venue name, but we expect if you ask a punk in any of those various locales it won't take you long to ascertain the 20 of the show in your town. With all that said, we invite you to get your Tuesday off to an earth-shaking start by hitting the embed below and taking your first listen to You Are My Sunshine. Fans take note: despite the Sept. 16 release date, Midnight Werewolf tells us that Big Mess will have copies of the LP with them from the very beginning of the tour (WHAT UP ALBANY), so start saving those nickels.

Big Mess: Bandcamp | Facebook | Tumblaahhhhh

08.29 -- Boston, MA -- O'Brien's Pub
09.02 -- Albany, NY -- The Shred Shack
09.03 -- Mansfield, OH -- Relax, It's Just Coffee
09.04 -- Athens, OH -- The Smiling Skull
09.05 -- Bloomington, IN -- The Cream
09.06 -- Chicago, IL -- Bric A Brac Records
09.07 -- Kansas
09.08 -- TBA
09.09 -- Salt Lake City, UT
09.10 -- Boise, ID -- Bouquet
09.11 -- Portland, OR -- Foggy Notion
09.12 -- Eugene, OR
09.13 -- Northern CA
09.14 -- Stockton, CA -- The Bus Stop
09.15 -- Oakland, CA
09.16 -- San Francisco, CA -- Neck of the Woods
09.17 -- Santa Barbara, CA -- Biko's Garage
09.18 -- Santa Barbara, CA -- 5. 4. 3. 2. FUN
09.19 -- Anaheim, CA -- The Doll Hut
09.20 -- Los Angeles, CA -- House Show
09.21 -- Phoenix, AZ -- The Trunk Space
09.22 -- Santa Fe, NM
09.23 -- Austin, TX -- The Lost Well
09.24 -- New Orleans, LA
09.25 -- Murfreesboro, TN -- Rack City
09.26 -- Asheville NC -- The Mothlight
09.27 -- NC
09.28 -- Richmond, VA
09.29 -- Silver Springs, MD -- Joe's Record Paradise
09.30 -- Philadelphia, PA
10.01 -- Purchase, NY -- SUNY Purchase
10.02 -- Portsmouth, NH -- Red Door

August 22, 2014

That Was The Show That Was: The Dirty Nil with Greys, Sneeze, Blessed State | O'Brien's Pub | 20 Aug.

The Dirty Nil, Aug. 20, O'Brien's Pub, Boston, photo by Dillon Riley

[PHOTO: The Dirty Nil by Dillon Riley] Nothing like a good redemption story, yeah? Wednesday night's Canadian-guitar-slinger-heavy lineup at O'Brien's in Allston Rock City featured Ontario garage rockers The Dirty Nil, who were in town with tourmates/province-mates Greys. Not that either act in particular need redemption, but after a burger-flavored disaster in February, The Dirty Nil surely must have been grateful to finally bring the rock to Boston. We can report that the rock in question was brought, and most steadfastly. The good guys win!

Just this week The Dirty Nil unleashed a two-sided, 7" piece of media via Fat Wreck Chords, and the platter offers a tidy summation of the trio's quick-hit sound. Layers of thick, fuzzy chords and chunky bass lines surround frenetic, short-burst drum fills, while fronter Luke Bentham's unpolished vocals erratically swell into full-throated screams. The Nil deployed both new tunes Wednesday, with A-side "Cinnamon" even eliciting a bit of a sing-a-long among the crowd during its infectious chorus. Elsewhere, the band blasted through some hardcore-influenced and newer (at least to these ears) tunes, as well as few numbers from its scattered short-form oeuvre. The song that struck hardest was "Wrestle You To Hüsker Dü," whose in-the-pocket groove afforded Mr. Bentham the opportunity to let loose with some rock-star stage heroics. Bonus points go to bass player Dave Nardi and his impassioned anti-Tasty Burger rant and related "Fuck Tasty Burger" chant. Not that we wish the burger vendor any ill will, but we do like to see rabble being roused now and then. We've embedded both "Cinnamon" and its flip "Guided By Vices" below, and fans can purchase the 7" or MP3s of same from Fat Wreck Chords right here.

Carpark Records signees Greys closed out the show with its own brand of hyperkinetic post-hardcore fury. Playing tunes mostly from its recently released and blistering debut LP If Anything, the quartet did an immaculate job of replicating the tumescent, near-claustrophobic sound of the record on O'Brien's relatively small stage. Greys wasted no time getting to the should-be-hits, jumping from the buzz-sawing "Use Your Delusion" straight into its fireball LP-opener "Guy Picciotto" and then "Pretty Grim" without missing a beat. Other tunes from the record meshed nicely led up to a well-timed and well-received cover of Mission Of Burma's colossal rocker "That's How I Escaped My Certain Fate," making for a thrilling end to an excellent night of music. Carpark issued If Anything in June, and would be quite pleased to sell you a copy in one or more of a variety of formats that can be considered right here.

Local superfuzz maestros Sneeze batted second slinging tunes off its powerful sophomore LP Wilt as well as a handful of yet-to-be recorded tunes slated for a forthcoming release which the trio claimed would be in the public sphere in "a year or two." The more we listen, the better Wilt sounds, and the same can be said for each live show we catch from the trio; buy Wilt from Glory Kid right here. Rising Western Mass. punx Blessed State -- which features at least one former member of erstwhile progressive beard-core foursome They And Their Children -- opened the night with tunes taken from its well-received debut full-length Head Space, which can be purchased here. -- Dillon Riley

August 19, 2014

Today's Hotness: The Hush Now, Brunch

The Hush Now -- Sparkle Drive (detail)

>> Boston dream-pop institution The Hush Now disclosed late last week that it will self-release its long-awaited fourth full-length, Sparkle Drive, next month. The act, now operating as a quartet, has issued to the wilds of the Internet an appropriately sparkling preview track, the mid-tempo strummer "Arthur Come On, Really You Can't Be Serious." The tune gives lead guitarist Adam Quane a turn at the microphone; long-time fans will remember Mr. Quane's vocal debut with The Hush Now was on the jaunty bouncer "Cameraphone," which graced the band's terrific third LP Memos, which we reviewed here in 2011. "Arthur Come On, Really You Can't Be Serious" carries Quane's characteristic quavering vocal and is anchored by rich bass tones and layer upon melodic layer of the band's big guitars. As strong as "Arthur" is, it isn't even the best Quane-sung tune on Sparkle Drive; the album opens with the darker, more ethereal composition "Panda" --which touts a spectacular, glistening outro in its final minute -- which we think will connect strongly with fans when the album is released Sept. 23. The Hush Now has been quiet, but not entirely quiet, in the three years since the release of Memos. Among other things, readers will recall founder Noel Kelly picked up his guitar to write a response to the Boston Marathon bombings, and more recently he memorably covered Neil Young's "Motion Pictures" to promote a show over the summer. Information about a proper Sparkle Drive release show has not yet been revealed, but you can watch the band's Facebook outpost for further bulletins. In the meantime, stream "Arthur Come On, Really You Can't Be Serious" via the Soundcloud embed below.

>> The Internerds went all aflutter a couple weeks back with the news that Krill's dearly departed drummer Luke Pyenson had joined a band in London, that the band was good, and that the quartet had a pretty great song in the fuzzy gem "Sea Toad." All of the above is, in fact, true. But by the time Brunch -- that's the name of the band -- dropped its self-titled debut EP last week, much of the Internerds had already moved on. Which is too bad, because it turns out *all* of the noise-pop upstarts' EP is terrific. "Sea Toad" is a fine calling card, yes, flexing scritchy riffage under a high and lonesome lead guitar and fronter Sean Brook's pliable and evocative baritone. However, the best tune of the short stack is its anthemic centerpiece "Tidal Wav." The tune touts an oversized and yearning vocal hook in the chorus, with verses that remind this reviewer of the patient plod of The Velvet Underground's "Lady Godiva's Operation," while the huge chorus echoes the more contemporary outsidery crunch of Dark Blue or even the shadowy London act Black Seas. The succeeding number "Cordial I" slows the tempo and thins out the sonic picture for quiet verses that set up the aggressive choogle of the tune's final 90 seconds. Surprisingly, Brunch plans to come to the U.S. in late September/early October (according to the act's Bandcamp page) to play some shows, and we're very hopeful we'll see the band right here in Boston playing with Krill, because, you know, that seems like a really obvious thing for them to do, and because we like rock and roll music. You should spend time with the Brunch EP, it's time very well spent, and if you pony up the £3 asking price for either the download or handmade CD, you'll be helping in an albeit small way to get the band across the pond for the aforementioned U.S. shows. Stream the entire EP via the embed below, and then click through to purchase.