June 29, 2006

From The Admin Cubicle: We're Back

From The Admin Cubicle: We're BackWe're back from holiday in Jamaica. Apparently the East Coast was so swamped with rain recently that USAir cancelled a flight or two yesterday just out of habit. Thanks, doods!! Anyway, we're pleased as punch with our guest posters and we hope you enjoyed reading their contributions half as much as we did when we finally got our heads working this morning. We've a mountain of email to get through, so we're going to ease back into :: clicky clicky :: day-to-day operations gradually over the coming long weekend. Check in periodically, as we expect we'll have things humming along pretty well come Sunday or Monday. In the meantime, why don't you plough through some of the Jon Brion demos recently posted over here at jefitoblog that our man MLE alerted us to.

June 28, 2006

Guest Post Pants Party: Blame Canada

As June winds down, most Americans turn their thoughts to family gatherings and backyard barbecues for the Fourth of July long weekend (although some poor schmucks like yours truly have to work on Monday). Similar plans are being hatched north of the border, but for a different national holiday: Saturday is Canada Day. As a native of the true north strong and free, I thought I'd provide the denizens of clicky clicky land with some Canadian content before Senor Breitling returns from his tropical sojourn.

For a relatively small nation (33 million), Canada has certainly made a large impact on the music scene. There are the well-known (Bryan Adams, Celine Dion, Gordon Lightfoot, Joni Mitchell, Barenaked Ladies, Rush), the cheesy (April Wine, Aldo Nova, Men Without Hats), the less well-known in the U.S. but popular in Canada (the Tragically Hip), and of course, the recent string of great indie bands and their various offshoots (Broken Social Scene, the Dears, Stars, the Stills, Black Mountain, the New Pornographers, Feist, Metric, etc.).

All these bands are worth checking out. I'd to throw a little spotlight on the band Sloan, which in its 15-year career has been a major-label darling, a has-been, and currently an indie act toiling in relative obscurity. Originally out of Halifax, Sloan was signed by Geffen in the early '90s when somebody decided Halifax was the "next Seattle." Other bands to emerge from that scene include Eric's Trip and Jale. Their 1992 debut album saw the band melding power pop with Sonic Youth-esque feedback. Smeared caught some MTV and radio play with the single "Underwhelmed," but the band quickly faded from sight. Sloan didn't help matters with its 1994 followup Twice Removed, which featured a quieter, Beatles-influenced sound with contributions from all four band members. The band was dropped from its deal and actually broke up (although that may have been to get free of Geffen) before re-emerging in 1996 with the outstanding One Chord to Another. With no radio or video exposure to speak of in the U.S., the band has continued to produce excellent albums (four studio, one live and a greatest hits collection) and tour regularly. They're currently in the studio preparing a September release. As Kurt Loder used to say, "DO check them out" in this 1996 performance on the old MTV show Oddville of "The Good in Everyone":

June 27, 2006

A Guest Post: Great Expectations

Greetings and salutations, oh faithful readers of one of my favorite blogs, the ol' Clicky Clicky. While Jay's away, he asked me to site-sit for a day, and I was more than happy to oblige. Anyone that keeps tabs on my permanent residence, Bradley's Almanac, knows that getting even one weekly post outta me is a stretch. So it's no small feat that you're reading these words right now.

As we near the end of June, the halfway point of ought-six, we brace ourselves for the imminent deluge of "Best Albums Of The Year So Far" lists. If music blogs love one thing, it's little lists of favorite discs. The top-tens and top-twenties of 2005 started popping up so early (and so often) last year that I burned out on 'em before '06 even started. By the time I started to prepare my own, I realized I just didn't care anymore... for the first time in five years, I didn't do it. The early-birds sucked out all the fun, some coming even far before Thanksgiving, as if they used the appearance of Christmas decorations as a starting gun.

So in advance of all the 'Best So Far' lists you'll soon see, I thought I'd do something a little different for my Clicky Clicky guest-post, and talk about some albums that I'm most looking forward to in the second six months of 2006 (and in some cases, beyond). Some have solid release dates, others don't, and still others may wait until next year. Whatever the case, all give me high hopes...

Scheduled releases...
  • Sparklehorse | title tbd | September 2006 (tenative)

    As the little bird says, Mark Linkous has finished the next Sparklehorse album, and it will tentatively be out in September. Some words from the site: "Contributors and Collaborations on the new LP include Dangermouse, Christian Fennesz, Scott Minor, Stephen Drozd, Dave Fridmann, Sophie Michalitsianos, and Johnny Hott. The new LP also includes an unreleased song from 'It's a Wonderful Life' featuring Tom Waits on piano." Bound to be brilliant.

  • Yo La Tengo | "I Am Not Afraid of You and I Will Beat Your Ass" | September 12th, 2006

    When James McNew joked that 'IANAOYAIWBYA' could be the title, who thought it would stick? Not me, but I love that it did. As they said "fifteen new songs, no covers", and one of them is the already shared MP3 'Beanbag'.

  • The Album Leaf | "Into the Blue Again" | September 12th, 2006

    Given that I've loved everything AL mastermind Jimmy Lavalle has put out, I expect the next full length to treat me no differently. Judging from the first preview track, 'Red Eye' (stream it on MySpace), my expectations are quite safe.

  • Kristin Hersh | "Learn to Sing Like a Star" (tentative title) | Late '06 / Early '07

    In Kristin's words, it's been mixed and mastered, and should now be in the hands of 4AD for a fall/winter release. Drums by her Throwing Muses bandmate (and one of my rhythmic heroes) David Narcizo, sure-to-be-beautiful string arrangements by the brilliant McCarricks. I absolutely can't wait for this one. The Muses will reunite this summer for a couple shows, and Kristin's current rock-vessel, 50 Foot Wave, will be opening up. After that gift, I'm looking forward to some solo K shows, and whenever the album arrives, I expect it will be a big part of my winter soundtrack.

  • Tara Jane O'Neil | "In Cirles" | September 12th

    Her solo work since Retsin & Rodan has improved with every release (and it was good from the get go), so I'm really psyched for album number four. Still haven't picked up her recent import EP, 'A Raveling', but the song clips on the Brainwashed site and at Darla are very promising.

  • Pernice Brothers | "Live A Little" | September 2006

    Yup, the latest news from Pernice headquarters is the title and a release month now that the tracks are mixed. More words from the latest update: "The lineup this time around included Peyton Pinkerton, James Walbourne, Patrick Berkery and Bob Pernice on their usual instruments, with Joe Pernice playing bass in addition to the stuff he usually does. Kara Pernice Coyne and Anne Pinkerton make vocal appearances. And Mike Deming did the string and horn arrangements. That’s right, strings. And horns." Sounds good to me.

  • Eric Bachmann | "To The Races" | August 22nd, 2006

    The ex-Archers of Loaf leader and the man behind Crooked Fingers sheds band names for his own on his Saddle Creek solo debut. Album cover here, eventual Bachmann website here.

  • Secret Shine | "Beyond Sea and Sky" EP (tenative title) | September 2006

    The surprise return of these self-proclaimed shoegazers was a welcome one, and I was happy to see the quick release of the 'Elemental' EP in February. I thought we might see an eventual album, but since the band is self-financed, EPs are what we're going to get until someone else foots the bill. You can hear samples from that first EP right here, and the next one arrives in September.

Other scheduled albums I'm looking forward to...

In the works...
  • Mary Timony | title tbd

    According to Mary herself, in a recent update at the Kill Rock Stars site, "We are recording basic tracks in the in the beginning of July at Jay Robbins' studio in Baltimore. Then we are doing overdubs at home, and we'll mix in August. Brendan Canty is producing the record." Aces all around.

  • Geoff Farina | a full-band album

    The ex-Karate frontman will take a break from his softer solo side for his next release, according to this news item: "I've started recording some new band-oriented music at Andy Hong's studio (Kimchee) this month, with Luther Gray playing drums. I can't really say much about it until it becomes more definite, but I'm hoping to have a band-oriented recording out sometime early next year."

  • Buffalo Tom | the 7th full-length

    Buffalo Tom are finishing up their not-yet-titled 7th disc, and Bill Janovitz promises "a song or two to post up on the web soon". No news on who will be putting it out, so obviously a release date is up in the air. They've been playing a bunch of the songs live for quite awhile, and the album has some great guests: Mission of Burma's Clint Conley contributes some vocals, Chris Toppin and Hilken Mancini sing together, just as they did back in their Fuzzy days. Hope we hear about a release date sometime soon.

  • Radiohead

    I was pretty well impressed with all the new stuff Radiohead played during their just-ended North American tour, even without the eventual studio-wizardy that will soon be cast over it. According to a supposedly band-issued now debunked MySpace announcement, the eventual album could hopefully won't be their last.

Also in the works, with very tenative release info...

And a few anticipated reissues...
  • Sebadoh | Sebadoh III | August 8th, 2006

    At last, the 41 track, 2-disc set has release dates: July 10th in the UK and August 8th in the US. I lost the jewel case to my original copy many years ago, so I'll be happy to replace it. A bunch of unheard songs and 4-track demos is a hell of a bonus.

  • Tortoise | "A Lazarus Taxon" Box Set | August 22nd, 2006

    This 3xCD/DVD set collects a ton of material, including singles, B-sides, Japanese releases, compilations, and other random rarities. For a complete track-by-track rundown from Tortoise's John McEntire, head to Brainwashed.

  • The Glove | Blue Sunshine (1983)
    The Cure | The Top (1984)
    The Cure | The Head On The Door (1985)
    The Cure | Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me (1987)
    (release dates tbd)

    The reissue of the entire Cure catalog continues with what some fans would call a serious transitionary period. Robert Smith's more upbeat collaboration with Siouxsie & the Banshees' Steve Severin as The Glove didn't reveal its influence until 'The Head On The Door', when the Cure's poppier side resurfaced led to some poppier, more radio-friendly songs. 'Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me' was a more schizophrenic double-disc (and actually the album that brought me fully into the Cure-fan fold), parts of which hinted at the brilliance that was to follow on 'Disintegration'. All these reissues are packed with bonus tracks, and you'll find the full tracklistings over here.

  • The Afghan Whigs | "Unbreakable" Retrospective CD | Late 2006

    A supposed 'greatest hits' from Rhino, but I'll likely only grab it if there's some rarities or previously unreleased material on there (new songs?!). My Whigs collection is all too complete.
So what are you psyched about?

June 23, 2006

Everything Must Go

I've always been attracted to one-man-band recording wizards like Todd Rungren and Prince. The '90s offered up quite a few of these lone geniuses, and Matt Mahaffey is certainly one of the more interesting ones. Born in Kingsport, Tennessee, Mahaffey learned drums at a young age and was already playing in a cover band by the time he was nine.

After Mahaffey enrolled at Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro, he learned how to use a sampler and drum machine, producing tracks for local rappers in his spare time. As Mahaffey explained to Illinois College Bureau reporter Brian Conant, "That was insane. I'd lay beats for $40 cash and would have these 15-year-old kids come to my room with their white girlfriends whose babies were throwing up on my bed while we were laying down the track."

Presumably, Mahaffey used this influx of cash to fund the creation of indie label Spongebath Records along with friends Seth Timbs and his manager Rick Williams. After being kicked out of school for low grades, Mahaffey started focusing on his own music, which he appropriately dubbed Self. Self's debut, Subliminal Plastic Motives was a hit with critics (Ryan Schreiber of Pitchfork gave it an 8.0) and the album was picked up by Zoo for distribution. Two albums later, Self landed on Dreamworks, but never quite sold the number of albums everyone expected him to.

Dreamworks gave Mahaffey the boot around early 2000, but Mahaffey continued to release great records on Spongebath anyways, especially Gizmodgery, an album played on all toy instruments that includes a cover of the Doobie Brothers' "What a Fool Believes." (The album is now out of print and sells for big bucks on Ebay and Amazon.)

For the past six years, a great fansite called Selfies has been handling the Mahaffey estate, and there are tons of great mp3's and articles there. However, Spencer Wysinger, who helps maintain the site, recently wrote a post on the message board that he is leaving, citing "TiVo and my own outside projects" as the reasons. This is a sad day for Self fans, as the site is about as informative and loving as a fan site can be. If you have an interest in creative pop music, I highly suggest you check Selfies out before it goes the way of furniture.com.

Here is one particular nugget, recorded by Mahaffey in an attempt to win back Dreamworks' love in 2001: Self - See if You Swim

June 20, 2006

YouTube Rodeo: Top of the Pops R.I.P.

The Guardian here is reporting in tomorrow's edition that the Beeb is pulling the plug on the television program Top of the Pops. Despite being a little square, the program looms incredibly large in the stories of the punk, new wave and indie scenes. The show has been on the air for 42 years and at the height of its popularity in the 1970s drew as many as 19 million viewers. TOTP has faltered in recent years, but fortunately YouTube has a ready supply of clips from throughout the life span of the show. Here's Nirvana famously not playing along to the soundtrack of their No. 9 hit "Smells Like Teen Spirit" on Nov. 17, 1991. Cobain sings the tune like he's Peter Murphy and doesn't even pretend to play the guitar, with Novoselic and Grohl pretty much following suit. The audience tries really hard not to be bummed. Here's P.I.L. doing "Death Disco" in 1979. Here's The Strokes doing "New York City Cops." Here's Bad Finger doing "No Matter What" in 1970. Here's Yazoo doing "Don't Go" in 1982. Here's The Cure doing "The Walk" in 1983. The quality on that one is pretty bad, but Robert Smith looks so strung out it's probably best that way. And one more: below is The Sugarcubes (remember, Bjork's old band?) doing their excellent track "Hit." The sound and video to that clip aren't even close to synchronized, but we had such a crush on Bjork back then we had to post it. Anyway, so long Top of the Pops, and thanks for all the fish.

June 19, 2006

YouTube Rodeo: Sonic Youth's "Incinerate"

We've been watching YouTube for days to see when someone would finally upload this clip of Sonic Youth totally nailing "Incinerate" live on "The Late Show With David Letterman" last week. A real hot performance, particularly into the third minute when Thurston starts scritching it high up on the neck of the guitar and then plummets down to that open low D at the start of the next section. Hot hot hot. Check it out. "Incinerate" is from Sonic Youth's Rather Ripped, which streeted last week.

Rack And Opinion: Release Date 6.20.06

The Submarines -- Declare A New State!Let's face it: any week that follows the release of a rightfully lauded Sonic Youth record is going to be a let-down as far as new releases are concerned. That's pretty well supported by the fact that we aren't posting a Free Range Music today featuring AOL's weekly clutch of pre-release album streams: they're just not offering anything that catches our fancy (although we can point you to a bit of pre-release Sufjan Stevens right over here). Even so, there are some new titles in racks tomorrow that should entice the intrepid indie shopper. Frank Black is back with a two-disc collection, and The Submarines record we reviewed a couple months back here is finally seeing the light of day. As far as old stuff goes, UMG's Fontana label is reissueing The Jam's 1977 record This Is The Modern World. Personally, we're Compact Snap! kind of people, but we can't imagine that you wouldn't be pleased as punch with this record. Rhino's got a Luna best-of up for sale as well. Those records and one other comprise our picks for the week. All are listed below with links going to relevant commercial opportunities with favorite

Frank Black -- Fast Man/Raider Man -- Back Porch
Black Helicopter -- Invisible Jet -- Ecstatic Peace
The Jam -- This Is the Modern World -- Fontana
Luna -- The Best of Luna -- Rhino
The Submarines -- Declare a New State! -- Nettwerk

June 18, 2006

Show Us Yours #2: Dirty On Purpose

Show Us Yours #2: Dirty On Purpose, Brooklyn, NYWe couldn't be more pleased with our second installment of the Show Us Yours feature, this one featuring Brooklyn-based indie rockers Dirty On Purpose. The band is just about to issue its debut full-length Hallelujah Sirens, which you may recall :: clicky clicky :: reviewed here about a week ago. Turns out, a feature that looks at bands' practice spaces is pretty much tailor-made for an act like Dirty On Purpose. According to guitarist George Wilson, the band constructed its own space -- and a control room for recording demos, and even bedrooms -- in a Brooklyn warehouse. Crazy right? Here's what George shared with us. [photo credit: Gregory Wilson -- check out his web site, his pics -- especially the one of the beaten-up Marshall amp and head -- are awesome]

1. Why did you choose/why do you use this space?

Last year my brother Greg, our friend Mack, Oliver from A Place To Bury Strangers, Joe (from Dirty on Purpose) and myself found this huge old gutted warehouse space along the waterfront in Brooklyn. It had running water, sketchy electricity, plenty of mold and that's about it. On the plus side though, it was cheap, and there are no neighbors. We moved in right away. We piled all our stuff on one side and power-washed the whole thing, painted, and started building. It took us 2 months to get the basic structures in place. We used brick walls for the practice space because it keeps the space cool in the summer and doesn't really need any further sound proofing, so it ends up being far less expensive than standard sheet rock walls with insulation. But it was months more to get bedrooms, the 2nd floor and heat all in place. It was a very long and cold winter. But now we've got a large space in the house with a separate control room so we can get decent demo recordings whenever we want. We even did some of the tracking for Hallelujah Sirens there. The space is officially called "Death By Audio" (DBA) after Oliver’s pedal company.

2. Explain how an idiosyncracy or quirk of this space has affected a song (or even your overall sound).

I guess we've always had a rather large rehearsal space. Before we had the space at Death By Audio, we were in a 540 square foot space in Greenpoint, Brooklyn -- again something that we built ourselves on the cheap. But the last one was really built much more like a tree house. DBA is more like a bomb shelter. I think having the space that we do affords us the opportunity to really hear what's going on musically in the room. There is room for the music to breathe a little. Most of the other spaces I've been in feel like a ventilation shaft. You can't really hear the complexity of what's going on.

3. You walk into your space. What's the first thing you smell? Why?

The coffee mug on the floor next to my amp. It's still almost half full of cold brown liquid. But over the past week or so, it's accumulated a dozen or so cigarette butts. The consistency has changed gradually to that of a thick dark syrup with a few clumps of cottage cheese. There's a grey mold growing among the butts. Is the cup even worth salvaging at this point? Then we come to Doug's naked feet. They do not help the situation.

4. Which do you like more: U2's The Joshua Tree or The Police's Synchronicity?

I guess Joshua Tree is maybe a better record, but right now I think I'd rather hear The Police.

5. What do the next six months look like for your band?

Our first LP comes out in less then two weeks [ed. -- June 27 on North Street]. We're starting a six week tour in July, and then another in October. I don't really know what's going to happen. I guess we'll fill up the time in between with writing and trying to make rent.

[Read Show Us Yours #1: Shapes And Sizes here]
[Pre-order Dirty On Purpose's Hallelujah Sirens here]

From The Admin Cubicle: Guest Bloggers Forthcoming

Yes friends, the summer wedding season is upon us, and beginning later this week we will be sunning ourselves on a tropical beach for a little while as part of one such celebration. In our absence we've arranged for you to be entertained by some of our notable contemporaries. They are: our former Junkmedia colleague Mark Griffey, who currently maintains the Tiny Idols blog and curates the Tiny Idols series of indie rock compilation CDs [Vol. 2 streets in August]; Mr. 'Nac himself Brad Searles, he of the widely read Bradley's Almanac, which is the best blog for keeping current on indie rock shows coming through Boston as well as plain old indie rock news in general; and finally, our former Webnoize colleague the KoomDogg, a/k/a the operator of the April Wine, Bea Arthur and ice hockey-obsessed Kumar's Blizznog. We're very gratified these chaps have agreed to pitch in during our absence, and we recommend you begin reading their blogs now if you don't already so you'll be up to speed. We'll be here for a little while longer, and we'll be back before the end of the month, so you won't have too much time to actually miss us. In the meantime, stay tuned for a hot Show Us Yours featuring Dirty On Purpose as well as our other typical early week fare.

June 17, 2006

The Week That Was: Eric Bachman, Voxtrot, Helmet

Eric Bachmann>> PunkNews reports that Crooked Fingers principal and former Archers Of Loaf fronter Eric Bachman will release a forthcoming solo set on midwest emo standard bearer Saddle Creek. The set, which Bachmann apparently wrote while living out of his tour van last summer and then recorded in a seaside hotel, is titled To The Races and it will hit racks Aug. 22. More details here and here.

>> While there's no corroboration at the band's web site yet, Austin, Texas-based anglophiles Voxtrot have signed with Beggars Group imprint Playlouder, according to BrooklynVegan here. The band is the label's second signing -- the first was Serena Maneesh.

>> Roadrunner's Blabbermouth.net here reports on the new record coming from Helmet on Warcon Enterprises. Curiously, the report states Helmet is recording again with Wharton Tiers to "return to the organic sound the band is known for." What? We haven't listened to a Helmet record since Betty, but we certainly wouldn't describe the band's sound as "organic." Paige Hamilton's group's breakthrough Meantime was lauded for its viciously mechanistic sound. Anyway, whatever. Hear three new songs at the band's PureVolume page here.

>> There were two very good features this past week. First, the Wall Street Journal here profiled recommendation engines including Pandora here. Well worth a read. Six years ago when we were covering this technology for the ill-fated digital music rag Webnoize.com these technologies were envisioned as playing a big roles in the nascent digital music services. While the technology has obviously made a niche with streaming music services, it doesn't seem like it has made any inroads with a la carte download services, including the market leader ITunes. Maybe we're just not seeing it. But anyway, the WSJ piece is a good snapshot of the current state of recommendation engines. The second feature of note is Pitchfork's in-depth discussion with Destroyer's Dan Bejar. This guy's genius status is pretty well-accepted, but that doesn't make reading him talk here about songwriting and indie music in general any less pleasurable.

>> We never knew that the title to Rocketship's absolutely essential A Certain Smile, A Certain Sadness was borrowed from an Astrid Gilberto record of the same name. Or so we believe based on this listing at Darla.com. Incidentally, Darla here is giving away a free MP3 from each of its last 15 releases. If you are among the couple dozen people who have made their way to :: clicky clicky :: via a Google search for the new Manual record, you are going to be pretty pleased to see an Manual MP3 there.

>> In our humble opinion Stereolab made one completely perfect album, Dots & Loops, and if you have that there isn't much of a need for any of their other records. If you feel the same way but want to get an overview of what the band has done throughout its entire major label career, Rhino's got you covered. According to Pfork here the reissue label will release a 'Lab anthology entitled Serene Velocity Aug. 22. More details here.

June 14, 2006

YouTube Rodeo: Palace Brothers' "Come In"

It's hard to believe this sort of thing was ever played on MTV, but the bug in the corner of the screen shows that it is in fact the case that this Palace Brothers video did grace the teen culture eroder's airwaves. We guess stranger things have happened -- we rushed to get through the gates early at Lollapalooza 1994 in Philadelphia because Oldham and co. were opening the second stage that day. Anyway, we've always had a soft spot for this tune, particularly the line, "It's back to Egypt, you are going."

Review: Archie Bronson Outfit | Derdang Derdang

Archie Bronson Outfit -- Derdang DerdangThere's blues, there's boogie and there's dread. And we suspect the music blognoscenti largely won't know what to think when gritty Brit combo Archie Bronson Outfit's Derdang Derdang finally streets stateside in August. Fortunately, we got in on the ground floor when we reviewed the band's debut here last year, and knew what to expect. It's not that the music on Derdang Derdang is very unusual, but it is sharply anachronistic, evoking as it (and its predecessor Fur) does the bar-blues sounds that grooved guys with surnames like Mayall, Beck and Iommi some 40 years ago. Still, it is more than the curious non-timing of the trio's sophomore set for Domino that may raise an eyebrow. The very character of the record, which vacillates between the yowling of a man on the edge ("Rituals") to go-go dancer boogie (the infectious, bouncing single "Dart For My Sweetheart" [video]), is harder to pigeonhole than a single listen might suggest.

Opener "Cherry Lips" packs enough Freudian apprehension into its lyrics to give an undergraduate solid term paper fodder. The pessimistic and primal howler "How I Sang Dang," segues into the dark downer "Rituals," during which singer Sam Windett's howls will make you wonder just how many steps away from the first Black Sabbath record are we, really? The song's deliciously unsettling vibe is driven home by psycho wailing reed playing by secret fourth Outfit member Duke Garwood, whose evocative playing pops up here and there on the record's 11 tracks. If forced to bluntly bullet-point Derdang Derdang we'd offer "British bar-blues act exorcises desperate anxiety and achieves remarkable drum sounds on second record." But, as "Dart For My Sweetheart" attests, there is a fraternal lightness to the set, too. We advise you to carry this disc around with you all summer to bars so you can drink along with it and plumb its depths.

[pre-order Derdang Derdang from Insound here]

June 13, 2006

Coming To Your Local Bandstand: The Mendoza Line

The Mendoza LineIn less than a fortnight literate and scruffy, capital-"A" American bar band The Mendoza Line will hit the road for an all-too-brief 12-date U.S. tour in support of their 2005 tour de force Full Of Light And Full Of Fire. The band has a Replacementsian relationship with the stage, but since their touring seems to have grown less frequent we must implore you to show up to take in what very possibly could be something special. We regret that we'll be attending a wedding the night the vagabonds roll through Boston, because we'd give our left arm to hear the band lay down a rockin' version of the Tim Bracy-sung scorcher "Name Names." Or to hear Shannon McArdle's eerily threatening "Mysterious In Black." And also, that Paul guy is really funny. If you aren't familiar with the band (we concede it is possible, although unwise), hit their MySpace drive-thru here. Then scrutinize the dates below and see how you can fit The Mendoza Line into your early summer.

06/24 -- Athens, OH -- Union Bar
06/25 -- Chicago, IL -- Schubas
06/28 -- Des Moines, IA -- Vaudville Mews
06/29 -- Lawrence, KS -- Replay Lounge
06/30 -- Springfield, MO -- Randy Bacon Gallery
07/02 -- Denton, TX -- Rubber Gloves
07/03 -- Austin, TX -- Hole in the Wall
07/04 -- Baton Rouge, LA -- Red Star Bar
07/06 -- Atlanta, GA -- The Earl
07/07 -- Athens, GA -- Tasty World
07/08 -- Columbia, SC -- Art Bar
07/15 -- Boston, MA -- Great Scott

Rack And Opinion: Release Date 6.13.06

Meneguar -- I Was Born At NightSo here it is, perhaps the biggest release day of the spring. Not a lot of mystery left, given the ready availability of album streams for the major issues of the week. That said, we don't think that The Replacements best-of set Don't You Know Who I Think I Was? is a gimme. Serious music fans should already own all of The Replacements records, and if they don't they should concentrate on filling out their collections rather than spending cash on a best-of. Sure, the new songs are OK, but we don't think in the age of the Internet many fans are going to buy a collection just to get two new songs unless they are totally out-of-control completists.

What is a gimme this week is the Sonic Youth record, which is great. We're also hyping the Troubleman Unlimited reissue of the Meneguar record I Was Born At Night this week, because after talking about it for most of the spring we forgot to actually select it as a pick when it came out last week. Or at least we think we did. Anyway, those records and the rest of our picks for the week are listed below. Links go to relevant commercial opportunities with our former racquet stringers over at Insound.

Foundry Field Recordings -- Prompts/Miscues -- Emergency Umbrella
The Futureheads -- News and Tributes -- Vagrant
Meneguar -- I Was Born At Night -- Troubleman Unlimited
The Replacements -- Don't You Know Who I Think I Was? -- Rhino
Smog -- Rock Bottom Riser EP [video, other video] -- Drag City
Sonic Youth -- Rather Ripped -- UMG

June 12, 2006

Today's Hotness: Thom Yorke, Big Sleep, Fleeting Joys

Fleeting Joys -- Despondent Transponder>> Tell you what, if you haven't hit up the Spoilt Victorian Child post here that includes info about and an MP3 from new (to us, anyway) shoegaze superheroes Fleeting Joys, definitely check it out. We were made instant believers, hit all the MySpace streams and mail ordered the record all in the space of about 10 minutes.

>> NME reports here that Radiohead fronter Thom Yorke will promote his solo record The Eraser with an appearance on IFC's "The Henry Rollins Show" July 15. Rollins' show archives its musical performances here, and while we are on the topic we'll divulge that we are particularly looking forward to a June 24 performance by Dinosaur Jr. We don't get IFC, so we're psyched we can catch the musical guests on the old Interweb. Incidentally, Yorke's The Eraser streets next month on XL.

>> Former Haywood lead guitarist Danny Barria's current project The Big Sleep has signed to French Kiss. More details here at BrooklynVegan.

>> Joan Jett apparently plays The Replacements' "Androgynous" as part of her set, or at least she did the night the New York Times sent a scribe over to catch her live. The full report is here.

>> We can't remember where we saw it first, but in case you missed it, IndieWorkshop's got the news here that former Velocity Girl fronter Sarah Shannon has signed to Minty Fresh.

Review: Dirty On Purpose | Hallelujah Sirens

Dirty On Purpose -- Hallelujah SirensYou should be excited about the forthcoming Dirty On Purpose debut full-length Hallelujah Sirens, and here's why: Opener "No Radio" sounds a lot like vintage Flaming Lips, specifically "Kim's Watermelon Gun." Well, OK, there's more to be excited about than that, but that will be the first thing you think after you put the disc on. Dreamy Brooklyn quartet Dirty On Purpose's entire forthcoming record is a solid set of moody, guitar-geared indie rock numbers, many of them beautiful and affecting ("Fake Lakes," "Kill Our City") and some with engaging compositional touches ("Always Looking," "Always Looking 2"). There's even a surprising bit of what we'd guess is a classic Neil Young influence in the gut-twisting (nod to Ted-o, there) ballad "Lake Effect." We're particularly pleased with the rockin' new version of the soaring cut "Light Pollution" [YouTube video here], the demo of which we've had for several months courtesy of one MP3 blog or another.

We'll admit to being a bit frustrated with some restrained production, which occasionally quashes dynamics to highlight other (sometimes tangential) instrumentation. The big guitars on "Marfa Lights," for example, get pushed out to the fringe of the stereo field and down low in the mix to the benefit of the drumming and bass playing. More simply put, there are many places we'd like the songs on Hallelujah Sirens to go to 11, but they don't always make it. Also we'd like to hear the thin vocals on the otherwise stirring "Your Summer Dress" and "Car No Driver" beefed up. That said, we are very big fans of the music on Hallelujah Sirens. After all, you just can't keep good songs down. The record, our newest :: clicky clicky :: Now Sound Fave, hits racks on North Street June 27, but is already for sale at EMusic and the sweatshirt vendor-spawned AmpCamp. Dirty On Purpose hits the road in the wake of the record's release -- dates below.

06/29 -- Mercury Lounge -- New York, NY
07/05 -- First Unitarian Church -- Philadelphia, PA
07/07 -- The Century Lounge -- Providence, RI
07/08 -- Great Scott -- Allston, MA
07/09 -- Bar Nightclub -- New Haven, CT
07/15 -- Siren Music Festival -- New York, NY
07/18 -- Andyman's Treehouse -- Columbus, OH
07/19 -- WOXY.com Lounge Act -- Cincinnati, OH
07/19 -- Southgate House -- Newport, KY
07/20 -- Firehouse -- North Manchester, IN
07/21 -- Beat Kitchen -- Chicago, IL
07/22 -- 7th Street Entry -- Minneapolis, MN
07/23 -- The Aquarium -- Fargo, ND
07/28 -- Bottom of the Hill -- San Francisco, CA
07/31 -- Kilby Court -- Salt Lake City, UT
08/01 -- Hi-Dive -- Denver, CO
08/05 -- San Diego Street Scene Festival -- San Diego, CA

[Pre-order Hallelujah Sirens from Insound here]

Free Range Music: The Juan McLean, Small Sins, Cat Power

Small Sins -- Small Sins>> This week's batch of AOL Music pre-release album streams offers little in the way of surprise. Two of the bigger releases of the summer, if not the year, are posted (Sonic Youth's Rather Ripped and the new Replacements best-of collection), but we've already pointed you to streams in previous weeks. So, frankly, if you haven't heard them by now, you haven't been doing your homework.

There are other records of note, including The Juan McLean's two-disc '80s electro party Visitations. Fun fact: apparently Turing Machine drummer Jerry Fuchs drums with The Juan McLean, or so saith Pfork in a news item this morning here. Anyway, the download-only album Visitations is an aurally interesting set of spacey 4/4 disco comprised of numerous remixes and a new track here and there. It's worth a listen. We didn't expect much of anything from the heretofore-unheard-by-us Small Sins, whose self-titled set is also in the AOL corral this week, but we were pleased by the very pleasant, understated synth-oriented indie pop it contains. Incidentally, AOL Music thinks Toronto-based Small Sins (the brainchild of one Thomas D'Arcy, who has enlisted four collaborators for touring, which the band is doing for several weeks beginning today) sounds like Radiohead -- this couldn’t be further from the truth. But if you like what Jimmy Tamborello has been up to for the last several years (The Postal Service, James Figurine), you will like most of this record, which is being released on Astralwerks. Definitely check out the cut "All Will Be Fine."

The Juan Maclean -- Visitations -- Astralwerks

The Replacements –- Don’t You Know Who I Think I Was -- Rhino/Warner

Small Sins –- Small Sins -- Astralwerks

Sonic Youth –- Rather Ripped -- UMG

>> The 'Nac has Cat Power's recent performance at Boston's Berklee Performance Center. Catch the stream at The Hype Machine here, or grab the MP3s as you read Brad's take on the event here. Anybody else think that tune "Soul Serenade" sounds like Jerry Garcia Band's "Sugaree." Just sayin.'

June 11, 2006

Free Range Music: Joan Of Arc MP3s

Tim Kinsella of Joan Of ArcLove or hate Tim Kinsella's stream-of-consciousness lyrics and jagged singing, his art-rock band Joan Of Arc has written a lot of amazing songs. "God Bless America," for example. Joan Of Arc returns next month with two records. We'll concern ourselves today with Everything, All At Once, which was recorded to 8-track in two bedrooms in the Kinsellas' mother's home (other Kinsellas Mike and Nate play guitars and drum for the combo -- according to the JOA web site Nate is currently serving two months in an Oklahoma jail?). The title of the record, which will be issued on Flameshovel July 25, is somewhat indicative of the process the recording took. Tim tracked guitar and vocals and the rest of the members recorded their contributions later over a nine-month period when visiting the home. The title track is a pretty picture of layered guitar lines and understated vocals, and thanks to the people over at IODA/Promonet you can already download that track as well as another, "Many Times I've Mistaken." The latter cut isn't as immediately memorable as the former, and those who quibble over Kinsella's lyrics will probably find something to quibble with here. That said, we think you'll find both interesting, and the beautiful and skeletal droner "Everything, All At Once" even enjoyable.

Joan Of Arc -- "Eventually, All At Once" (MP3, 192kbps) -- Everything, All At Once
Joan Of Arc -- "Many Times I've MIstaken" (MP3, 192kbps) -- Everything, All At Once

Buy at iTunes Music Store

YouTube Rodeo: Asobi Seksu Live At Joe's Pub

Just to prove that we're doing something this weekend besides watching The World Cup, here's some live video of Asobi Seksu's record release party for their triumphant sophomore set Citrus, which was released in the last couple of weeks. Below the band plays the cut "Thursday" at Joe's Pub in the NYC June 1. You're probably pretty familiar with the track at this point, or at least you should be. We've only been talking about the record for, like, two months. You'll be pleased to see that the band can bring it live. We're pretty bummed that we'll be missing Asobi Seksu's Boston stop at the end of this month, but we'll be on a beach in the Carribean, so it's not all bad. Oh yeah, if you are waiting for the lights to ever come up in this clip, well, it doesn't happen, which causes the camera's auto-focus feature to really struggle throughout the tune. Still, we actually think the play between the lights and the in-and-out-of-focus is pretty cool. See for yourself.

Free Range Music: Say Hi To Your Mom MP3

Say Hi To Your Mom -- Impeccable BlahsLike indie rock clockwork, Brooklyn-based mopers Say Hi To Your Mom are back with a fourth record. The new set, Impeccable Blahs, is allegedly about vampires, if you believe what the band has posted in its FAQ. Not quite a year ago we had some nice things to say about Say Hi's prior effort Ferocious Mopes here, and if memory serves that record also had a track about a vampire, or at least a goth kid aspiring to be a vampire. Imeccable Blahs will be issued on the band's own Euphobia label through an agreement with The Rebel Group label (who have distro via Warner's ADA) July 25. The point of that awkward sentence is that the record is going to get pretty decent retail placement. Still, if you don't trust your local record shoppe, here you can pre-order the set from Insound, which is also offering a discount on the title and kindly hosting "These Fangs." The tune is nothing particularly new or different from band leader Eric Elbogen, but if you liked "Dimensions And Verticals" [right-click and save as] or "Let's Talk About Spaceships" [ditto] then you will dig it. And there is something nice about consistency, no? Say Hi To Your Mom tours throughout the latter half of July with Dirty On Purpose, and then continues the party on into the American south in August. In the meantime, check out the download, linked below.

Say Hi To Your Mom -- "Theses Fangs" -- Impeccable Blahs
[just click, no need to right-click]

[Pre-order Impeccable Blahs from Insound here]

June 8, 2006

From The Admin Cubicle: Slackin'

>> Hey readers. It's us. We're taking the night off to listen to records. Novel idea, right? Fact is, we spend so much time reading and writing, a lot of days the only listening we get done is at the day job, which isn't exactly our full attention. Anyway, to get you through Friday, how about clicking over here to Two And A 1/2 Pounds Of Bacon and checking out two posts we've made there in the last week. The first pairs up a cut from the forthcoming Shapes And Sizes record (we promise we'll stop talking about it. At some point) with the closing cut from Royal City's excellent 2001 set Alone At The Microphone. The most recent post features two shoegaze classics, one from Ride and the other from Drop Nineteens. Looks like much of the weekend weather will be inclement, so don't be surprised if we're back on our blogging game before the weekend is out. Your pal, :: clicky clicky ::

June 7, 2006

Coming To Your Local Bandstand: Lilys

Kurt Heasley of LilysPop savant Kurt Heasley is bringing his latest crackerjack Lilys line-up to the West Coast for two weeks of dates beginning at the end of the month, and yes, we are jealous. We haven't seen the band since they were touring in support of Better Can't Make Your Life Better, and we know from talking to Mr. Heasley earlier this year that he aims to bring the show to Boston sooner rather than later. But still we wait, listening now and again to our copy of Everything Wrong Is Imaginary, which came out earlier this year on Manifesto and will be issued in July in the U.K. Reports on live dates played throughout the early spring were entirely favorable: apparently the current line can both bring the rock and dig into the band's sizable catalog. If you live out west, don't be an idiot, go see one of these shows.

06/30 -- Panic -- Scottsdale, AZ
07/01 -- Launchpad -- Albuquerque, NM
07/02 -- Larimer Lounge -- Denver, CO
07/03 -- Kayo Gallery -- Salt Lake City, UT
07/05 -- Crocodile Cafe -- Seattle, WA
07/06 -- Doug Fir Lounge -- Portland, OR
07/07 -- Gallery -- Sacramento, CA
07/08 -- Bottom Of The Hill -- San Francisco, CA
07/10 -- The Echo -- Los Angeles, CA
07/11 -- The Casbah -- San Diego, CA
07/12 -- Spaceland -- Los Angeles, CA
07/13 -- The Prospector -- Long Beach, CA

Rack And Opinion: Release Date 6.6.06

Depeche Mode -- Music For The MassesWe've made clear elsewhere that this week's releases are pretty much all secondary to the big one, Psapp's The Only Thing I Ever Wanted. If you hit the AOL Music stream we posted Monday then you may have reached the same conclusion we have, which is that the balance of the British electro-twee duo's album isn't nearly as addictive as "Tricycle" and opener "Hi," the two tunes that received most of the pre-release promotion. That said, the set seems a positive step toward a more sophisticated rhythmic and acoustic sound. So that's our big pick for the week. We have to admit enjoying even more than we anticipated we would listening to the reissue of Depeche Mode's Music For The Masses, so if you are one of our younger readers who doesn't already own the set in two formats, you should definitely toss that disc into your basket too. Those and the rest of our picks for best releases of the week are listed below, with links going to relevant commercial opportunities hosted by our favorite shoeshine guys over at Insound.

Be Your Own PET -- Be Your Own PET -- Ecstatic Peace
Camera Obscura -- Let's Get Out of This Country -- Merge
Depeche Mode -- Music For The Masses -- Sire
Nitzer Ebb -- Body of Work 1984-1997 -- Mute
Portastatic -- Who Loves The Sun -- Merge
Psapp -- The Only Thing I Ever Wanted -- Domino

Today's Hotness: Billy Bragg, Smashing Pumpkins, Funkadelic

Billy Bragg hates The Man>> We’re not a big Billy Bragg fan, but this is interesting: The New York Daily News of all outfits reports here that Mr. Bragg has deleted his music from his MySpace page because his review of the site's terms of service turned up the fact that MySpace asserts that it can exploit posted music in any manner it sees fit without compensating the artist. "The troublesome fine print informs users that by posting any content, 'you hereby grant to MySpace.com a non-exclusive, fully-paid and royalty-free, worldwide license (with the right to sublicense through unlimited levels of sublicensees) to use, copy, modify, adapt, translate, publicly perform, publicly display, store, reproduce, transmit, and distribute such Content on and through the Services.'" A MySpace spokesman states this is all a big misunderstanding. There's more at Bragg's MySpace dojo here.

>> Indie label Alias is apparently alive and kicking again. According to this post at You Ain't No Picasso, the label just signed a new act, Scourge Of The Sea, and said act's record will be Alias' first release in almost a decade. So what? Yeah, sorta. But Alias released a lot of our favorite records in the '90s, including discs by Archers Of Loaf and Barry Black, so we're glad that they're back. Hey Alias, can you bring the Archers back, too?

>> Ex-Jane's Addiction bassist Eric Avery has apparently been jamming with the resurrected Smashing Pumpkins (Corgan, Chamberlain), according to this item at MTV News. Interesting. Speaking of Jane's Addiction, fronter Perry Farrell has apparently signed his latest project, Satellite Party, to some label or other. We hope you've already forgotten about what the rest of the Jane's guys are up to, but if you must know, it's called The Panic Channel and it is lame.

>> Remember a couple weeks ago when we told you about this thing Rhapsody was doing, but that you didn't really need to pay attention for a couple weeks? Well, today is the day that seemingly useless post bears fruit. Hit this link and you can access a pre-release stream of Sonic Youth's forthcoming record Rather Ripped. Yeah, we can't believe it still isn't out yet either. Yeah, we've had it for months, too. No, you can't smoke that in here. But for those pokey SY fans out there, your ship has finally come in. Equally as exciting, Rhapsody seems to have some exclusivity over a spate of Funkadelic album streams, and if you haven't ever heard Maggot Brain, well, you should hear it now, if only for the amazing title track and "Super Stupid." Here's the link.

>> FINALLY -- another long-awaited and amazing Buddyhead gossip update. Rumors include: Slash wanted to take John Squire's spot after Squire left The Stone Roses, and other G 'N' R kerfluffle; Big Black may perform at the Touch And Go 25th Anniversary weekend in September; Albini is recording a forthcoming Stooges record; a forthcoming Bauhaus record is allegedly "KILLER." Click this for the whole update.

June 6, 2006

Show Us Yours #1: Shapes And Sizes

Show Us Yours #1: Shapes And SizesToday we inaugurate a new feature at :: clicky clicky :: music blog called Show Us Yours, in which musical heroes of the day share with us a bit about where they do what they do. Which is to say, we wanted to have a look at where our favorite bands put in the hours slugging it out, trying to find the sound like KISS, thinking that might be a neato way to gain some insight into an aspect of a band's existence that is typically not on public display. We're thrilled to commence the feature -- which we hope to eventually run weekly -- with Canadian quartet Shapes And Sizes, whose forthcoming self-titled debut on Asthmatic Kitty we recently reviewed right here. So anyway, we put the hard questions to singer and bassist Nathan Gage about where the band does its thing, and here is what we learned:

1. Why did you choose this space?

It's actually Caila and Nathan's living room. So I guess we're using it because we don't have to pay for it. But it's pretty nice too.

2. How has an idiosyncracy or quirk of this space affected a song or even your overall sound?

We've actually just relocated to Vancouver, so we're brand new to this space. I'm sure that we will discover its idiosyncracies, but not yet. Our old space in Victoria was also Nathan and Caila's living room.

3. You walk into your space. What's the first thing you smell?

It doesn't smell so bad. If someone's cooking in the kitchen, you'll smell that.

4. The Cure's Boys Don't Cry or Disintegration?

Boys Don't Cry

5. What do the next six months look like for your band?

Our record's being released on Asthmatic Kitty records on July 11th. We have a couple of week-long tours down the West Coast, and a month long tour of the US and Canada from mid-September to mid-October.

Free Range Music: Radiohead In Boston, Be Your Own Pet

Photo courtesy of -- well, lifted from -- Dead Air Space>> Click this link and load up the Hype Machine player and start streaming Bradley's Almanac's MP3s of Monday night's Radiohead concert in Boston, then go here and read Brad's write-up. Hot diggity. Sometimes the action sounds far away, which is odd since Mr. 'Nac was in the second row. All the same, the set is fairly gripping, especially in its second half, from say "Arpeggi" through to the end. Definitely check out "Arpeggi," too, because its arrangment is new to us and features some pretty heavy guitars in sections. Totally ace.

>> PunkNews here points to a stream of Be Your Own Pet's eponymous debut. The act is signed to Thurston Moore's label Ecstatic Peace! Catch the stream here.

June 5, 2006

Today's Hotness: Replacements, Logh, Dirty On Purpose

The Replacements -- Don't You Know Who I Think I Was?>> Paul's Page here digests what it believes to be a forthcoming Newsweek interview with Paul Westerberg, who says among other things: More than two songs were recorded during the sessions that resulted in the new Replacements tracks that will be included on the forthcoming best-of; "Message To The Boys" was not written specifically for the best-of, but rather it was written more than 10 years ago and set aside in case the band ever got back together; Tommy is game for a reunion; Fear of jeopardizing his sobriety is one thing that keeps Westerberg from committing to a reunion tour. Anyway, read the whole synopsis here.

>> According to its MySpace domicile, Swedish indie rockers Logh, creators of one of our favorite records of 2005, A Sunset Panorama, have added two new members. And get this: the sextet now includes three dudes named Mattias. We are not making this up. The new and third Mattias (last name Jeppsson) plays guitar, and the other new member is a keyboard player named Karl Arvidson. Logh is currently working on its fourth full-length and hopes to release it by the end of the year. We hope so too.

>> You can already buy Dirty On Purpose's forthcoming debut full-length Hallelujah Sirens at EMusic, and you should. It's good. We got our promo Friday and the record is remarkably solid.

Free Range Music: Depeche Mode, Portastatic, Psapp

Psapp -- The Only Thing I Ever Wanted>> Not a lot of time for exposition this evening as we've a birthday party to attend imminently, but we thought we'd best throw up some Free Range Music for the faithful before it gets too stale. AOL Music's pre-release album stream offerings this week are pretty solid, but we're just going to concentrate on two. The biggest new release this week is Psapp's The Only Thing I Ever Wanted, a peppy and colorful set of fanciful pop. It's actually a bit sad that the British electro-twee duo are best known for creating the song used as the theme to the popular American television medical drama "Gray's Anatomy," because that tune isn't even close to being their best jam. For that distinction we'd suggest "Leaving In Coffins" or "Curuncula," or perhaps "Tricycle," a wistful ballad from the new album.

As far as reissues go, AOL is offering a stream of the remastered Depeche Mode classic Music For The Masses, a hit-littered set that combines some of the band's best songwriting with some of its most creepy sentiments. Like, what is up with "Pimpf"? While you're over at AOL you may want to check out the major label debut from Austin, Texas' Sound Team. We're not big fans, but they turn out some pretty solid indie rock. And the live album from the Todd Rundgren-fronted The New Cars? Well, it kind of sounds like a capable bar band covering The Cars. Which at this point isn't too far from the truth. Our call: Wait for Ric to rejoin the fold.

Psapp -- The Only Thing I Ever Wanted -- Domino

Depeche Mode -- Music For The Masses -- Reprise

>> Want to hear the new Camera Obscura and Portastatic records? Head over here to the Merge home page and scroll down to the appropriately designated badge.

June 4, 2006

Review: Refused | Refused Are F*cking Dead DVD

Refused -- Refused Are F*cking DeadRefused Are F*cking Dead is an overly romanticized but attractively rendered chronicle of the demise of Sweden's most exciting and most widely known hardcore act, Refused. The film suffers from the narration of the unidentified American narrator, whose curiously unqualified insights still succeed in poignantly conveying the emotional weight of watching the downfall of one's heroes of late adolescence, the resultant decathection and gained perspective. And unfortunately, although this is likely because such footage does not exist, the film is more concerned with that downfall than it is with the creation of the band's landmark swan song, 1998's cataclysmic The Shape Of Punk To Come. Instead the film is heavily based on reflective interviews from the band members discussing the band's final tour, an ultimately aborted and disappointing trek through some of the lowest levels of the American underground.

Despite the band's retrospective confessions of being under-rehearsed and completely uninspired, the band's technical skill and fiery political rhetoric still shine brightly on the DVD's live performances. However, a substantial portion of the DVD's live run-through of the aforementioned album is shot with a video camera situated near the drum kit and behind the house PA, meaning almost all of the vocals are lost to posterity, as is the band's superhero stage posturing. The high point of the live performances is the punishing rendition of "New Noise," one of the few moments on the disc when the band undeniably assumes its legendary status and owns the crowd. The clip ends with drummer David Sandstrom passionately sucker-punching his drums. The movie is not all emotional drama: In the live clip for the DVD's title track, singer Dennis Lyxzen's forehead is torn open by the head stock of a swinging guitar, and he is ushered, bloodied and dazed, from the tiny stage. It's hard to watch. Like the death arc of the band it captures, Refused Are F*cking Dead sinks under its own weight, but paradoxically still serves a crucial role as one of few video documents of one of the most important bands Sweden will ever produce.

June 2, 2006

YouTube Rodeo: Swedish Pop Perfection

We have been known to take our affinity for certain Wannadies songs to great lengths. So to answer your questions, yes, that was us sitting in the basement of the hostile in Amsterdam in 1997 all rainy day and rainy night smoking and drinking YooHoo and waiting for MTV Europe to cycle the song "Hit" over and over again. And yes, we did come to your party in 2001 and play "You And Me Song" over and over on the stereo late into the night at high volumes until your roommates got mad. Sorry 'bout that. But really, can you blame us?

June 1, 2006

Review: Shapes And Sizes | Shapes And Sizes

Shapes And Sizes -- Shapes And SizesToday we're sounding the alarm about the latest and greatest Canadian import, Shapes And Sizes, whose eponymous debut streets July 11 on Asthmatic Kitty. The quartet touts three songwriters with next-level compositional chops who craft fractured baroque pop gems not unlike a morose version of fellow countrymen The Lovely Feathers. Shapes And Sizes shares that band and Islands' fondness for working what we here at ::CC:: call "the silly" or "the wacky." Album opener "Islands Gone Bad" is in the proximity of a fugue that quickly makes all of this apparent: the number waltzes in on a weepy Death Cab guitar riff, but eventually morphs into a bass-heavy bouncer with several saxphones skronking away contentedly. "I Am Cold" downshifts the set briefly for a throbbing, Teutonic and minimalist ballad. "Boy, You Shouldn't Have" closes out the record with a delicious and decidedly Royal City-ish power waltz.

Shapes And Sizes has a lot of competition from its aforementioned countrymen for smartest record of the year so far, but the act distinguishes itself with a singular and dare we say jazzy mix of solemnity and wit, a mix that is delivered with ornamentation but without clutter, with purpose but without haste. As such, the record has earned the special designation as a :: clicky clicky :: Now Sound Fave (which means you'll see the record in the right-hand column sometime soon). Asthmatic Kitty's hosting a download of "Islands Gone Bad" and Toolshed's got the horn-and-piano-driven "Wilderness," and we link to both below. If you dig what you hear, the band has also just finished recording its half of a split 7" Asthmatic Kitty will release in the future with Austin, Texas' Weird Weeds on the flip.

Shapes And Sizes -- "Islands Gone Bad" -- Shapes And Sizes
Shapes And Sizes -- "Wilderness" -- Shapes And Sizes
[right click and save as]