[PHOTO: Ian F. Simpson] >> Hey, remember that forthcoming single "Silent Hotels" from Mancunian trio The Answering Machine we raved about here? Turns out you can already buy it at the ITunes Music Store, even though it isn't supposed to street until Monday. It's an end-to-end awesome indie pop solution, scritchy like The Strokes, but kinda down in the mouth like Haywood. Revel in it. As we mentioned in our earlier item, the curiously drummerless Answering Machine has UK tour dates booked far into the foreseeable future, so if you live over there make an effort to get out and see them so they can earn enough money to come play in Boston.
>> We have to admit we were more than a bit wary of news from Birmingham alt. pop quintet Fields that the act had recorded some sessions with a string quartet. But you know what? The gentler, stringed-up versions are very listenable. With some of the stormy energy dialed back to make room for the sweet string arrangements, there is even more room for showcasing the classic pop melodies that underpin Fields tunes. Sure, there is a lot of terrible deployment of string quartets out there in record store bins the world over. But what Fields have done is far from shlock. There is a slight hint of camp, but mostly the two tunes we sampled just sounded -- we are reluctant to say it again -- sweet. Anyway, here is a link to the revamped version of "You Brought This On Yourself," and here is the revamped version of "If You Fail We All Fail." We reviewed a recent Fields show at Boston's Paradise Rock Club here.
>> We just watched with much interest VBS.tv's 10-part series on dancehall in Jamaica and it is totally worth it, besides a couple slow spots. There is a lot of footage of raw tracks being laid down by up-and-coming artists, a lot of incisive interviews with street-level people involved with dancehall. There are links to all 10 parts here. At least watch the final episode, which we think is "Portland Pt. II." The last 45 seconds, when the immensely hungover reporter points out his carmate has already been partying despite the fact that it is 8:30AM, is hysterical.
>> Brooklyn's Meneguar is booking a U.S. tour for October, according to this MySpace bulletin. Which means the genius indie rock quartet will be logging a lot of miles this fall, as it already plans to be touring Europe and the UK for most of September. We've been sitting on the European dates for a long time, just because the shows are a long way off. But what the hell, here they are. Attention Europeans: Meneguar is among the best we have to offer, so definitely check them out. We reviewed Meneguar's recent show at Tufts University here. It was awesome.
Meneguar Euro Tour
09/06 -- OCCII -- Amsterdam
09/07 -- Paper and Iron Festival -- Cologne
09/08 -- Trainspotting Festival -- Schweinfurt
09/09 -- Carambolage -- Karlsruhe
09/10 -- Komma -- Esslingen/Stuttgart
09/11 -- Rockhall Cafe -- Luxembourg
09/13 -- Sonic -- Lyon
09/17 -- Arena -- Vienna
09/18 -- Kafe Kult -- Munich
09/19 -- K4 -- Nuernberg
09/21 -- Hafenklang -- Hamburg
09/22 -- Vera -- Groningen
09/23 -- ZXZW Festival -- Tillburg
09/24 -- Old Blue Last -- London
09/25 -- The Social -- Nottingham
09/26 -- Social Club -- Leeds
09/28 -- Boom Boom Room -- Dublin
09/29 -- Club Ping Pong @ Liquid Lounge -- Cork
09/30 -- Roisin Dubh -- Galway
10/01 -- Bar Korova -- Liverpool
10/04 -- The Portland -- Cambridge
>> We just got the forthcoming Mendoza Line record 30 Year Low in today's mail. We far prefer the Tim-and-Shannon version of "Aspect Of An Old Maid" to the Will Sheff-and-Shannon version. It's hard to beat Mr. Bracy's weary, cracked voice for the lyrics to that song.