February 25, 2007

Today's Hotness: Mates Of State, Armalite, Lovely Feathers

Mates Of State -- Live 2005>> Sorry for the couple days' worth of nothing. Monday night we took care of a bunch of administrative stuff and did some heavy listening. Last night we got a surprise invitation to see the Boston taping of This American Life. Host Ira Glass and friends are on a brief tour right now to promote the forthcoming debut of the This American Life television show (really) on Showtime. The taping was great and will air March 17 -- we know nobody ever does anything on March 17 and are sure you will all be home listening to public radio that day.

While the theme of the show was TV, there was actual music content, which is the reason why we can mention all of this here. Opening and closing the show was wife-and-husband duo Mates Of State, who played several times throughout the program as well. We had streamed some of their tracks before, but nothing we heard made an impression. The live performances last night definitely sold us, however. There were two or three fetching originals including "Like U Crazy" [QT video here], depending on how you count, and covers of Nico's "These Days" and Phantom Planet's "California," a/k/a the theme song to the recently defunct teen soap "The O.C." As it turns out, Ira Glass is a huge "O.C." fan. If you get the Showtime on your television set, we highly recommend the show, clips of which were screened last night in between the typical slate of stories. Anyway, Mates Of State's most recent release Bring It Back was released last March on Barsuk. How about some MP3s courtesy of the Barsuk site?

Mates Of State -- "Think Long" -- Bring It Back
Mates Of State -- "Fraud In The '80s" -- Bring It Back
[right click and save as]

>> According to a MySpace bulletin Armalite drummer Jeff Ziga [pictured here] has fracture bones in his hand. As a result the pop-punk supergroup, which rarely performs live, will not be playing the Philadelphia show March 10 that we first wrote about here. The band expects Mr. Ziga's hand will be healed in about six weeks, and hopes to reschedule the show for around then. Armalite's self-titled release was one of our favorite records of 2006. You can buy it here and download two MP3s to boot.

>> You Ain't No Picasso reports here that Montreal-based pop weirdos Lovely Feathers have finished recording a sophomore set. The band hopes the record will be released this summer. A check of the Equator Records web site reveals, well, it reveals nothing, as it is under construction. We seem to recall it being under construction a year ago as well. We reviewed Lovely Feathers' debut here last March.

>> Hey, EMusic is selling Frightened Rabbits' Sing The Greys with a bonus track. It also appears as if EMusic has licensed for sale the entire Slumberland catalog, which is great. It means that you can go right over there and purchase Lorelei's amazing Asleep EP and the whole Slumberland catalog. Anyway, expect to see more about Frightened Rabbit here in the future, as we've tapped them as one of the acts to participate in the second wave of our Show Us Yours feature.

YouTube Rodeo: BURN's "Godhead" Live In Philadelphia

We love YouTube. This is sort of an obvious statement, but we'll make it anyway: there are things on YouTube that you never thought you would ever get a chance to see. Today's example is the high-quality live video of New York hardcore behemoth BURN performing "Godhead." By the time we got into New York hardcore it was on the wane. We think BURN had already broken up (well, sort of, according to Wikipedia) and its successor acts including BURN singer Chaka Malik's Orange 9MM was already gearing up to release its debut EP on Revelation, which in our opinion is the best thing the band ever did. Anyway, Malik is one of the best singers hardcore ever produced, up there with Pat Dubar, Rollins, Mackaye. And although every second and every lyric of BURN's song "Drown" is classic, perhaps the ultimate snippet is Malik howling "HEAR ME. I'M CALLING OUT" from the song "Godhead," also from the aforementioned BURN EP. The moment never fails to raise the hair on the back of our neck. And we never, in a million years, thought we'd ever actually see it live. But thanks to YouTube, we've got the next best thing. And it happens at 2:47 into the clip we've posted above. This is a little too heavy for a Sunday morning. But it is also undeniable. It's also a relatively deluxe three-camera job, a level of quality rare for hardcore videos. BURN reformed to record an album Cleanse earlier in this decade, but we're not sure what its members are doing now.

[Buy the BURN EP from Revelation here]

BURN: InterWeb | MySpace | YouTube | Flickr | Wikipedia

BONUS VIDEOS: Frail in 1995 [clip]. Youth Of Today performing the classic "Disengage" on a reunion tour date [clip].

February 24, 2007

1/7th of Einstellung's "Sleep Easy Mr. Parker" And More [MP3s]

Einstellung performing liveAs a general rule we don't memorialize here every single move of the bigger names in music, as there are enough more widely read publications -- and enough wannabes that will recycle their coverage -- around the blogosphere doing that sort of thing. So instead we endeavor to offer a different perspective, focusing on either acts to which we have pledged our undying love or to up-and-comers who distinguish themselves in a way meaningful to us. Two of the better ways for a band to gain our attention is to share a unique vision (a certain Ted Minsky record jumps to mind) or to offer something really outside the proverbial box. And so it was that we read with great interest about a band from the UK that released a 28-minute, limited edition single as their debut, performed it once live and then vowed to perform it never again. It's a move that takes the fetishism of limited edition singles and extends it into the live forum. Not a completely new idea, as every farewell tour from The Who and The Stones has at least partially built its success on a possibility of finality.

Anyway, we received email earlier this month from a chap representing the interests of Birmingham, England's -- yes, Birmingham *again* -- quasi-kraut-psych act Einstellung. It's true, the act had recently issued a 28-minute single, "Sleep Easy Mr. Parker." The track melds NEU!'s organic drone with some early Gilmour-era Pink Floyd, specifically the pastoral psych sounds evoked by that guitar legend's slide guitar work. When Einstellung's "Sleep Easy Mr. Parker" builds to its most tumultuous sections it reminds us of Dead Meadow. We've been given permission to post an edit of the track below (incidentally, you won't hear the slide guitar work in the edit, as it occurs in different sections of the track), and atop this item is a photo from the recent live debut and final live performance of the track. In addition to the edit of "...Mr. Parker," we're also offering the first track from Einstellung's full-length Wings Of Desire, which was released in September on Australia's Chatterbox Records. Dig it:

Einstellung -- "Sleep Easy Mr. Parker (Edit)" -- Limited Edition Single
Einstellung -- "Tot" -- Wings Of Desire
[YSI links; just click]

[Buy "Sleep Easy Mr. Parker" from Bearos here]
[Buy Wings Of Desire from Waterfront Records here]

Einstellung: InterWeb | MySpace | YouTube | Flickr

February 22, 2007

Today's Hotness: The Sea And Cake, Assembly Now, Evangelicals

The Sea And Cake -- Everybody>> Head over to Noise For Toaster and get yourself a listen to the three The Sea And Cake tracks posted right here. It is the most "rock"-oriented stuff we've heard from the long-running indie pop quartet since 1995's The Biz, one of our favorite records of the '90s. Band fronter Sam Prekop says as much about the new record, Everybody, in a blurb about the record at the Thrill Jockey site here. Observe: "It’s a rock album,” says Prekop, though its certain that only The Sea And Cake could make a rock album like this. Sam cites rock’s standard bearers The Kinks as an influence on this, “the most straight ahead, even ‘rootsy’ record we’ve ever made." So that excites us. Everybody will be released May 8. Thrill Jockey is taking pre-orders now, which will arrive on your proverbial doorstep with a poster. Cool.

>> Assembly Now, an indie rock quartet operating out of London, has posted two recent singles for download at its web site here. We picked up the first one as MP3s from one blog or another, perhaps our recent favorite Another Form Of Relief? Ah, yes, here it is. The two-year-old act released its first single, "It's Magnetic" backed with "Out On 24s," in August as a pressing of 1,000. It smokes, particularly the first cut. And as it turns out, the second single, which -- if we are reading the site correctly -- is sold out despite only having been released Jan. 29, is also several different kinds of awesome. So we are posting links to its sides "Leah-On-Sea" and "Tenement" for your enjoyment. Really, between Assembly Now and Johnny Foreigner, we're beginning to think we were born on the wrong continent and in the wrong decade. Oh well. Have at the tracks, they're dynamite.

Assembly Now -- "Leah-On-Sea" -- Label Fandango single (sold out)
Assembly Now -- "Tenement" -- Label Fandango single (sold out)
[right click and save as]

>> Oklahoma-based psych poppers Evangelicals have signed with new label Dead Oceans, a recently unveiled joint venture of Secretly Canadian, Jagjaguwar and former Misra label manager Phil Waldorf. The trio's sophomore set The Evening Descends, will be released on the new imprint, whose signings also include Dirty Projectors, Bishop Allen and Iran (which counts TV On The Radio guitarist and singer Kyp Malone as a member). The new Dead Oceans page here has posted a previously unreleased Evangelicals demo "Snowflakes," which we link to below. We previously reviewed Evangelicals' debut So Gone here, and their tour stop in Cambridge, MA right here.

Evangelicals -- "Snowflake (Demo)" -- Previously Unreleased
[right click and save as]

February 21, 2007

YouTube Rodeo: "Steppin' Out" With Sweden's Lo-Fi-Fnk

[UPDATED with correct event information below] We don't really go in for dancefloor anthems these days. But Malmo, Sweden-based electro duo Lo-Fi-Fnk's stomp-and-chant track "Steppin' Out" probably kills in clubs, and we expect every well-appointed DJ worth his weight in Sparks currently keeps this track at the ready. Lo-Fi-Fnk is a six-year-old duo comprised of Leo Drougge and August Hellsing. "Steppin' Out" is the second single (released in Scandinavia only) from the act's 2006 full-length Boylife, which was issued by Moshi Moshi. We far prefer the video linked above to the video for the first single "Wake Up." The latter clip captures the duo committing some hip-hop-cum-Ace Of Base vamping for the camera. It seems a bit silly to us, what with our pronounced Rockist bent. And we think "Steppin' Out" is simply a better song. We particularly recommend it if you like Daft Punk, as the track really reminds us of "Digital Love" once the kick drum commences its thumpety march. Anyhoo, Lo-Fi-Fnk tours the U.S. next month, including a Boston-area appearance at the exquisitely curated Squar3 Middlesex Lounge as part of Make It New March 29. Full tour dates are below, as is an MP3 of "Wake Up," even though we aren't all that crazy about the jam. "Steppin' Out" we could listen to on repeat for hours.

Lo-Fi-Fnk -- "Wake Up" -- Boylife
[just click]

Lo-Fi-Fnk: InterWeb | MySpace | YouTube | Flickr

03/06 -- Los Angeles, CA -- Safari Sam’s
03/07 -- San Diego, CA -- Beauty Bar
03/08 -- Las Vegas, NV -- Art Bar
03/09 -- Vancouver, BC -- Shine
03/10 -- Portland, OR -- Towne Lounge
03/11 -- Eugene, OR -- Indigo District
03/13 -- San Francisco, CA -- Mezzannine
03/14 -- Austin, TX -- SXSW:Stereogum/FADER party
03/14 -- Austin, TX -- SXSW:Super! Alright! Space
03/15 -- Austin, TX -- SXSW:Beauty Bar
03/16 -- Austin, TX -- SXSW:Urban Outfitters
03/16 -- Austin, TX -- SXSW:Factory People/Anthem party
03/17 -- Washington, DC -- Rock’n'Roll Hotel
03/20 -- Charlotte, NC -- Tremont Hall
03/21 -- Atlanta, GA -- Drunken Unicorn
03/22 -- Gainesville, FL -- Common Grounds
03/24 -- Miami, FL -- Post
03/27 -- Toronto, ON -- Drake Hotel
03/28 -- Montreal, QC -- Club Lambi
03/29 -- Boston, MA -- Square
03/30 -- Philadelphia, PA -- PURE
03/30 -- New York, NY -- Annex
03/31 -- Brooklyn, NY -- Studio B

Read this far, did you? Well, as an added bonus, here is a link to a completely different song titled "Stepping Out," a circa 1983 classic from erstwhile angry young man Joe Jackson. Man, we love this tune:

February 20, 2007

That Was The Show That Was: Relay, Lymbyc Systym

Relay at TT The Bear's PlaceWe don't think the guys and girl in Philadelphia's Relay will mind too much if we say the quartet is not exactly Van Halen 1.0 on stage. At their gig last night at TT The Bear's Place in Cambridge, Mass. there were no flaming gongs. No flashy guitar solos. Instead band leader Jeff Ziegler and his bandmates delivered focused, economical versions of a number of tracks from Relay's two 2006 Bubble Core Records releases, Type/Void EP and Still Point Of Turning. And while we didn't keep track of the set list, over the course of their half-hour of stage time Relay delivered several cracking versions of songs that have worked their way into our head over the past several months.

None of the small crowd last night seemed disappointed that Relay's particular amalgamation of Krautrock and dream pop doesn't lend itself to flaming gongs and wango tango guitar wankery. The quartet's somewhat icy stage demeanor underscored the atmosphere of many of the songs, and we didn't realize just how much that was so until realizing we were a bit surprised to see Ziegler and band crack into quiet smiles when they had completed the set and were breaking down their gear. Drummer Gerard Angelini has the most extroverted stage presence, and he allowed himself to really attack his drum parts as the set crescendoed. It reminded us of how math rockers A Minor Forest used to situate its drummer at the front of the stage with his back to the audience, and for a moment we considered whether this would work for Relay. Decidedly no, as we think the Relay stage vibe and its music jibe well. Still, those cats in A Minor Forest, at least circa the Inindependence record, were really on to something. As for Relay, its tour continues into early March and wraps up on the 6th in Alabama, at which point the band takes about a week off and then heads to SXSW.

We've read various good things about last night's openers Lymbyc Systym (particularly this item at Bradley's Almanac), but the few songs we heard prior to last night didn't move us. Which is why the electrifying close of the Pheonix, Ariz.-based duo's set floored us. We've always felt that Lymbyc Systym and one-time tourmates Album Leaf's quiet ruminations were virtually indistinguishable, but the cacaphony and clatter of Lymbyc System's finale, all synth feedback and flailing limbs assaulting the drum kit, definitely made a lasting impression on us. One final note: dream poppers Mahogany, who released the very compelling set Connectivity! last fall, canceled their appearance on the bill last night. The very same day we received an email from Mahogany HQ stating the band has just signed on to support some dates on a forthcoming Bloc Party tour of the UK in mid-April.

UPDATE: Here is a small Flickr set from the show for Relay, and another for Lymbyc Systym. Finally, here are some auditory goodies from the Relay catalog, both of which we think we've offered up before, but even so we highly recommend both tunes.

Relay -- "New Domestic Landscape" -- Still Point Of Turning
Relay -- "Context" -- Still Point Of Turning
[right click and save as]

[buy Still Point Of Turning from Newbury Comics here]

Relay: InterWeb | MySpace | YouTube | Flickr

02/21 -- Burlington, VT -- Higher Ground
02/22 -- Buffalo, NY -- Big Orbit's Soundlab
02/23 -- Southgate, MI -- The Modern Exchange
02/24 -- Champaign, IL -- Mike 'N' Molly's
02/25 -- Chicago, IL -- The Empty Bottle
02/26 -- Columbus, OH -- Andyman's Treehouse
02/28 -- Washington, DC -- Warehouse Next Door
03/01 -- Baltimore, MD -- Lo-Fi Social Club
03/02 -- Norfold, VA -- The Boot
03/04 -- Boca Raton, FL -- Dubliner
03/05 -- Tampa, FL -- New World Brewery
03/06 -- Birmingham, AL -- Bottletree
03/15 -- Austin, TX -- SXSW Showcase At The Taproom
03/16 -- Austin, TX -- Lovejoys
03/17 -- Austin, TX --SXSW Move To Philly Showcase

February 19, 2007

Today's Hotness: Jesu, The Cure, Interpol

Jesu>> Word on the message boards, and here at the band's official MySpace dojo, is that industrial metal behemoth Jesu has been unable to secure work permits in time for the start of the tour to support the release of Conqueror, which is in stores tomorrow. The band had intended to launch the tour in Los Angeles the same day, as we reported here as part of our review of the new record last week. According to Jesu, "[t]he band are yet to receive a date of clearance and simply have to wait until they do so before entering the U.S, hence Jesu will not be appearing at any shows with Isis until the permits are available and Jesu can leave England." In related news, Jesu bassist Diarmuid Dalton was refused a work permit for the tour and will not be playing any of the U.S. dates Jesu has booked. A frequent collaborator with Jesu bandleader Justin Broadrick named Dave Cochrane will fill in for Dalton. Likewise, Jesu's drummer Ted Parsons will not make the trek due to family commitments, and his role will be filled by an LA-based drummer for the tour.

>> We really thought The Cure were on producer Ross Robinson's I Am label -- that's what the bio "Never Enough" said when we read it recently, although that is a few years old at this point. Anyway, according this Pun Canoes item The Cure is actually signed to UMG's Suretone label now. There's even a Cure page at Suretone, and the Suretone logo is at the bottom of The Cure's web page. Perhaps it is even on The Cure -- we have a burn from a friend so we only have a general idea of what the physical release looks like. Anyway, since we are talking about them we may as well note that the only live Cure date for the foreseeable future is their headlining slot March 23 at the Ultra Music Festival in Miami, Fla.

>> The forthcoming third full-length from Interpol is apparently titled Moderation and will be released June 5, according to this post at Music Slut. Denizens of the Interpol forums at the band's newly revamped -- or unvamped as the case may be -- web site are less certain. Read more here.

Review: The Notwist | "On | Off The Record" DVD

Because little of what is now considered the blogosphere existed five years ago, it is almost understandable that there is little expression of any institutional memory of the quiet thunderbolt that was the release of The Notwist's sixth full-length, Neon Golden. The set was lauded by many as among the finest, if not the finest, of 2002. Junkmedia, for which we toiled at the time, called the set "a glimpse into the future of pop music." In so-called Internet time, however, 2002 was a few lifetimes ago. Since then countless bands have launched and lost or built and maintained staggering careers. Notable newcomers like Bloc Party have released two albums in the time it has taken The Notwist to -- well, pursue other projects and collaborations and even, in at least one case, start families.

The Notwist's long pause seems to have been too much for fans to bear. News we reported here in December that the Weilheim, Germany-based quartet is finally recording its seventh set met with silence on the blogosphere. The band's Wikipedia page doesn't even contain the news yet (by contrast, an acquaintance told us that the death of pop tart Anna Nicole Smith was added to her Wikipedia page within hours of her demise). The blogosphere, for what it's worth, would seem to be asking "Notwist who?" presuming it knew of them in the first place.

It is fortunate then that late last year "On | Off The Record," a documentary film chronicling the protracted creation of Neon Golden, was released on DVD. Even so, it is a documentary film in the same sense many of us probably first became aware of such things: as a narrow, almost academic, look at a somewhat esoteric thing -- in this case the writing and recording of an experimental electropop record. As such it is not a film you can casually recommend to your mother. But for an avid music fan, and particularly for fans of late period Notwist, the film is a bit of a Rosetta Stone.

"On | Off The Record" engages in varied levels of scrutiny that mirror the deceptively complex song constructions on Neon Golden. It was culled from 120 hours of footage shot over 70 days during the 15 months that The Notwist gestated the set. The filmmakers are not afraid to focus on minutia, including the recording of extremely complex cello parts, contract deliberations and even some footage of the CDs being pressed. And somehow when taken together the different vignettes -- of reserved, small-town musicians doing phone interviews from behind a bar in a darkened pub, of two brothers intently listening to demos on a personal computer in a home-office, of pranksters shooting one another in the face with water pistols during a photo shoot -- transform like a Chuck Close portrait from discrete mosaic into a smooth picture of intelligent songwriters and arrangers pushing and embracing the boundaries of popular music.

Toward the end of the film Markus Acher expresses a sentiment that drove the making of the record, one that permeates both its production and the lyrics. "Nobody is allowed to makes mistakes anymore. Nobody wants these strange freaks any more. [But] I think it's important to have guys like that, where you don't always immediately understand everything they do."

The band's dogged attention to detail is the product of considerable focus on their craft. When an interviewer asks the Achers whether they have any hobbies outside of music, the query is met with puzzled silence. Then, Micha cautiously ventures, "Hobbies?" as if the idea is completely foreign. [To drive home the point, the film cuts to the brothers playing trumpet and drums respectively in a jazz ensemble on a platform outside a museum -- it is later disclosed that gigs such as that helped finance the marathon recording of Neon Golden]. It's a brilliantly understated bit of comedy, and it is not the only one. Later during a montage of the Acher brothers doing a series of 47 press interviews, the duo look at turns skeptical, bemused and bored with each successive question. And for the most part the Achers never say a word; they devote most of their energies to quietly quibbling over whose cup of coffee is whose and sitting uncomfortably weathering the barrage of questions.

Watching hired hand Sebastian Hess lay down the incredibly syncopated pizzicato cello track at the beginning of "One Step Inside," and witnessing the prior discussion of the virtual impossibility of actually being able to play it in time, is fascinating. It's what passes for drama in a documentary geared toward music nerds. Hess ends up having to record the track bar by bar and having it laced together in the computer. "It's a question of concentration," he says. "You can do it for three of four bars, but then you can't concentrate any more, and you're no longer fast enough." This, in essence, is what makes Neon Golden the landmark recording, state-of-the-art at the time, it was considered when it was released. In the age of Web 2.0 and ubiquitous music blogs, it is easy to forget the state of music only five years ago. To watch "On | Off The Record" is to watch a band realigning the parameters of pop music while, in their small way, making the impossible possible.

"On | Off The Record" trailer.
The recording of "Off The Rails."
Stream "Trashing Days" at the Domino USA site here.

The Notwist: InterWeb | MySpace | YouTube | Flickr

[buy "On | Off The Record" from CitySlang here -- note that the DVD was supposedly region-coded "0," meaning the disc should play in any DVD player. However, our Sony DVD player would not play it, and as such we had to watch the disc on our laptop.]

February 18, 2007

Today's Hotness: The Get Quick, Photon Band, J. Church

>> A recent post at Rainbow Quartz states that Philadelphia-based power pop geniuses The Get Quick have turned in to the label the follow up to 2005's How The Story Goes (not, uh, And The Story Goes, Rainbow Quartz...). No word on a release date for the new set yet, but we've sent an email off to the lads in the band -- which features Erik Evol and Mitch Joy formerly of MantaRay -- to see what else they can tell us. Bandleader Evol was once rumored to have a stockpile of cassettes with about a hundred demos on them, so keep your fingers crossed for a triple album. The band shot a video for the track "Lose It All," which we've posted atop this item. Finally, you can download some tunes from the quartet's Rainbow Quartz debut:

The Get Quick -- "New Plimsoles" -- How The Story Goes
The Get Quick -- "Seem" -- How The Story Goes
[right click and save as]

>> While we're on the subject of Philadelphia acts (though, when are we not?), long-running indie rock concern The Photon Band says "for the first time since 2003, [it] will play out more regularly, and [release] new material." To that end the band, fronted by Art DiFuria, has recorded a new five-song digital EP titled Get Down Here In The Stratosphere. One track from the EP, unsurprisingly titled "Stratosphere," is streaming here at the band's MySpace yert. The set will be available for purchase beginning March 8 at the usual online music storefronts.

>> The first new J. Church record in three years is now available for pre-order here and will be released March 13. The pop-punkers' set is titled The Horror Of Life and features 16 cuts, including the preview track "Vampire Girl Prefers Me Alive," which has been floating around the Internet for quite a while at this point. And it is only seven bucks! J. Church fronter Lance Hahn has battled severe health problems of late, which we've noted here and here. So you should buy at least two copies of the record to help him out. Also well worth tracking down is the amazing compilation Nostalgic For Nothing. Anyway, here is "Vampire Girl..." for those of you who didn't snatch it the first time we posted it.

J. Church -- "Vampire Girl Prefers Me Alive" -- The Horror Of Life
[right click and save as]

>> Singer songwriter Jana Hunter will release a sophomore set on Devendra Banhart's Gnomonsong label in April. There's No Home was recorded over the course of two weeks in Houston in September and October. Ms. Hunter's prior Gnomonsong release, the dark collection Blank Unstaring Heirs Of Doom, was compiled from many years' worth of recordings; we reviewed it over at World Of Sound here in December 2005. There's No Home, despite its downer title, is described as more "extroverted."

>> We Hear: that the new Julie Doiron is really great; that the leaked Modest Mouse is either incredibly disappointing, if you are a message board denizen, or is pretty OK, if you are Stereogum; that if you put the name of a popular band with a hotly anticipated record about to come out in a blog post along with the word "leak" your traffic gets a boost. Got an item for We Hear? Send it to wehearclickyclicky (at) gmail (dot) com.

February 15, 2007

Today's Hotness: Swirlies, Logh, They Might Be Giants

The Swirlies -- 1993>> There is more Swirlies music available for free download here than you can shake a stick at. A couple years ago Bradley's Almanac pointed us to this page that hosts some more obscure Swirlies music, you know, radio sessions and the like. Well, we stumbled upon the link again recently and discovered that now the erstwhile Chimp Rock superheroes are offering entire albums, including 1996's They Spent Their Wild Youthful Days In The Glittering World Of Salons and something called Damon Andy Rob Ron: The Yes Girls that we can't wait to explore. As an added bonus, here's a link to the video for the Swirlies jam "Bell." We think we posted this a few months ago, but we dig it. And would you look at that -- there's a Wikipedia page for Chimp Rock.

>> Swedish indie rock act Logh's forthcoming set North is now available for pre-order here. As an added inducement, those who pre-order the record will receive a signed copy the very day it is released in Sweden March 28. Not sure if that applies if you are ordering it from overseas. But perhaps. Anyhoo, the first 50 who pre-order the set will also receive a Logh-branded ice scraper. A more timely piece of schwag we can not think of.

>> We love this quote from They Might Be Giants' John Flansburgh, as published by the St. Louis Post Dispatch here and as first spotted at Largehearted Boy here:

"Depending on how you count them, this is either our 12th or 13th album. Unless you are in the business of conspicuous reinvention, it's hard to know how to approach your 12th or 13th album. But it's fair to say this is one of the strongest 12th or 13th albums to come out in a very, very long time."

>> We've seen Idolator have some success with this, and we used to keep a Wish List on our MySpace which met with some success. So we'll try again here: Does anybody have Blonde Redhead's "Jetstar" from the Zero Hour comp Threadwaxing Space Live The Presidential Compilaton 93-94? There's actually a really good Azalea Snail song on that comp, too. Anyway, if any of you kids out there has the song, let us know. We'll try to return the favor.

February 14, 2007

Review: Jesu | Conqueror

Jesu -- ConquerorConqueror, the amazingly prolific Justin Broadrick's latest set under the moniker Jesu, is a headphones record. Not because it is stacked with sonic trickery, but because the songs convey a sense of narcotic, dreary solitude. So go ahead, put it on and stare out the window all morning. Conqueror's eight tracks are filled with loudly understated and wintry mecha-sludge regularly appointed with high keys and pensive, airy vocals. Album highlight (and closer) "Stanlow" comes across as a stripped-down and gestural demo version of The Cure's soaring "Plainsong" [aside: given the direction of the most recent, nu-metalized Cure record, and the fact that The Cure has two more records on its contract with producer Ross Robinson's I Am label, Robert Smith could do a lot worse than getting Broadrick involved on the production end -- come on Bob, make it happen]. Broadrick, born in Birmingham, England -- seriously, what is it with Birmingham this week? -- is perhaps best know as the guy behind Godflesh, and he has played in other acts including Napalm Death.

But back to Conqueror. While it is filled with grand music, its sometimes lifeless rhythm tracks can be rigid, which gives parts of the record a formulaic feel. Thankfully, the formula works. The set streets Feb. 20 on Hydra Head. Jesu, whose lineup includes drummer Ted Parsons and bassist Diarmuid Dalton, will support the release with extensive touring in the U.S. The jaunt will be Broadrick's first to the states since touring here under his Techno Animal guise six years ago. We've posted the dates at the bottom of this item. And, incidentally, we love that this record isn't even out yet (well, in the States at least) and a guy (our apologies, YouTube guy, who is not teen-aged at all -- cherish your youthful looks!) has already posted clips of himself playing along to the title track at YouTube -- check it out [clip] [clip]. And here's an MP3 courtesy of the cool kids over at Insound.com:

Jesu -- "Old Year" -- Conqueror
[just click]

Stream the entire record here.
Download the title track at Jesu's MySpace outhouse here.
Pre-order Conqueror here.
We reviewed Jesu's Silver EP here last year.

Jesu: InterWeb | MySpace | YouTube | Flickr

02/20 -- Spaceland -- Los Angeles, CA
02/22 -- Casbah -- San Diego, CA
02/23 -- The Clubhouse -- Tempe, AZ
02/24 -- Launchpad -- Albuquerque, NM
02/26 -- Conservatory -- Oklahoma City, OK
02/27 -- Ridglea Theater -- Fort Worth, TX
02/28 -- Emo’s Alternative Lounging -- Austin, TX
03/01 -- Numbers -- Houston, TX
03/02 -- Spanish Moon -- Baton Rouge, LA
03/03 -- Bottletree Lounge -- Birmingham, AL
03/05 -- The Social -- Orlando, FL
03/08 -- 40 Watt Club -- Athens, GA
03/09 -- Tremont Music Hall -- Charlotte, NC
03/10 -- Alley Katz -- Richmond, VA
03/11 -- 930 Club -- Washington, DC
03/13 -- Theatre of Living Arts -- Philadelphia, PA
03/14 -- Irving Plaza -- New York, NY
03/15 -- Emos -- Austin, TX
03/16 -- SXSW -- Austin, TX
03/17 -- The Middle East -- Cambridge, MA
03/18 -- Theatre National -- Montreal QC
03/19 -- Barrymore’s -- Ottawa, ON
03/20 -- Opera House -- Toronto, ON
03/21 -- St Andrews Hall -- Detroit, MI
03/22 -- Metro -- Chicago, IL
03/25 -- Triple Rock Social Club -- Minneapolis, MN
03/26 -- The Picador -- Iowa City, IA
03/27 -- Granada Theatre -- Lawrence, KS
03/28 -- Marquis Theater -- Denver, CO
03/30 -- In The Venue -- Salt Lake City, UT
04/01 -- The Big Easy -- Boise, ID
04/02 -- The Big Easy -- Spokane, WA
04/03 -- Neumo’s Crystal Ball Reading Room -- Seattle, WA
04/04 -- Hawthorne Theatre -- Portland, OR
04/06 -- Bimbo’s 365 Club -- San Francisco, CA
04/08 -- Henry Fonda Theatre -- Los Angeles, CA

February 13, 2007

Today's Hotness: Fields, Johnny Foreigner, Rival Schools

Fields>> Remember Fields? Sure you do. We reviewed their 7 Songs From The Fields EP here in October, and named it one of our favorite eight releases of 2006 right here. Well the at-least-partially-Birmingham, England-based indie pop quintet has finished its debut full-length and it is titled Everything Last Winter. The band is working on getting the artwork together and then they will embark on a headlining tour of the UK in April. Although if you check in at Fields' MySpace shed you will see that they have a substantial amount of live commitments booked between now and then as well. We clearly live on the wrong side of that big watery thing.

>> We're in receipt of some new, unfinished recordings from our latest music crushes Johnny Foreigner (also from Birmingham -- funny that). Just excellent stuff. We forgot to mention the other day that the band is all over the YouTube with live performances and practice space jams. On the downside the audio of some clips is pretty bad. But on the upside, when was the last time your favorite band basically just ran a camera every time they did something and offered up the clips for you to watch? It's almost like Johnny Foreigner are the most Web 2.0 savvy band out there, except having corresponded with them we can report that they are just excited about what they are doing.

>> Speaking of things you can't actually listen to yet (we're three for three tonight, no?), we read a rumor last night that Walter Schreifels' Rival Schools project is recording a third record. Yes, they apparently recorded a second record but never released it [see footnote #5 here]. And by apparently we mean we are listening to it right now. In addition to Schreifels, who has also logged time in legendary heavy acts Gorilla Biscuits and Quicksand, Rival Schools included -- at least at the time of its 2001 debut United By Fate -- veteran hardcore drummer Sammy Siegler (Gorilla Biscuits, Youth Of Today, Judge, Shelter) and guitarist Ian Love (BURN). According to fan site UnitedByWalter.com, Schreifels currently lives in Berlin and is recording a solo record. He paid a visit to Spinner.com's Interface in October -- check it out here.

February 12, 2007

Today's Hotness: Armalite, Music Videos (Duh), Ringo Deathstarr

Armalite Live -- Courtesy Flickr User ReadySteadyJedi[PHOTO CREDIT] >> Pop-punk supergroup Armalite is playing a show. Doesn't sound too newsy, does it? But the band never plays, you see. So if you know what is good for you, get yourself to Philadelphia March 10 -- in the afternoon, no less. The band features Lifetime/Kid Dynamite guy Dan Yemin and Atom Goren of Atom And His Package/Fracture fame (not Fraction, R5 -- or is that a joke?). The Ratchets and The Ergs are also on the bill. Armalite released its self-titled debut on No Idea a year ago Wednesday and it was one of our eight favorite releases of 2006. How about some MP3s?

Armalite -- "I Am A Pancreas (I Seek To Understand Me)" -- Armalite
Armalite -- "Entitled" -- Armalite
[right click and save as]

>> Struggling and increasingly musically irrelevant MTV Networks hopes to weaken YouTube's stranglehold on online video by distributing its content -- including these really cool things called music videos -- via its own web properties. The Viacom division disclosed the move in this Reuters story this afternoon, although few specifics are included. Content licensing discussions between Viacom and Google's YouTube recently fizzled, and unnamed analysts claim MTV's new plan is just vaporware aimed at giving it leverage in further negotiations.

>> Every once in a while we advise you to drop everything and check something out. This is one of those times. Check out one of the latest signings to Spoilt Victorian Child Records, Ringo Deathstarr. Do it. Do it.

>> This is worth passing along, even though it is old news. It was new to us, however, since we are really bad at reading our local alt weeklies. Anyway, for you Bostonites who don't know him personally: You know that really tall guy who is always at the shows you go to? Turns out The Boston Phoenix ran a whole article about him in October. And he's in a band called The Big Disappointments. And had we known that we would have stayed to watch him play Friday, as The Big Disappointments headlined that Darling Nerves show we saw. Thanks to BrighAAAAm for the link.

February 11, 2007

Today's Hotness: Radiohead, Dinosaur Jr., Willow Warbler

Radiohead, courtesy of Flickr user Brad Searles>> [PHOTO CREDIT] Will the new Radiohead record be released August 6? Amazon.co.uk thinks so. Then again, they also think the long-awaited record will be issued by EMI, and we can't imagine Radiohead would re-up with them. Anyway, have a look here. [Via].

>> In addition to being able to pre-order the forthcoming Dinosaur Jr. set Beyond [links below], folks in Japan can also purchase a CD single. Or at least that's what we think the page here is saying. It looks like the A-side is "Been There All The Time," and the flip is "Back To Your Heart." Start digging in the sofa cushions for some yen. Beyond is scheduled to be released in the U.S. May 1 on Fat Possum. We have an MP3 from the record posted below.

>> Robin Saville, one half of deliciously sleepy British electronic duo Isan, has a newish solo project called Willow Warbler. You can listen to three cuts at the project's MySpace hacienda here. It doesn't sound that far removed from Isan, honestly, although the acoustic guitar on "Magpie" stands out. Isan's most recent full-length Plans Drawn In Pencil was released a year ago.

>> Readers in the Boston, MA metropolitan area should know that the Museum of Fine Arts' indie rock music series returns next month. Acts slated to perform include Dane heavyweights Under Byen, Frida Hyvonen, former Luna luminaries Dean & Britta and Amiina, a quartet best known for supplying strings to recordings by Icelandic big shots Sigur Ros. Full details on the series are online here.

>> Bob Lefsetz + Clap Your Hands Say Yeah!! = FITE.

February 10, 2007

Clicky Clicky Parade Of MySpace Stars vol. 2

Johnny Foreigner's Kelly>> Until the unfortunate leak of the Dinosaur Jr. record this week, the newest music we were most excited about was from Birmingham, England trio Johnny Foreigner. Equal parts Built To Spill circa the gritty The Normal Years and energetic contemporary UK post-punk such as The Rakes, Johnny Foreigner crafts electrifying tunes that feel compact and sprawling at the same time. There are four tracks at the band's MySpace berth, and you can download all of them, which we highly recommend doing despite the fact that the tracks are ripped at a woefully low bitrate. We've swapped some emails with a fellow representing the band who hopes to get us some better-quality files, which we'll post if permitted. Currently Johnny Foreigner has but one single under its belt, but a new split single is to be issued next month on Sheffield-based Laundrette, complete with handmade 3-D artwork and 3-D glasses. In the meantime, the band is touring throughout the UK, and the dates are posted at MySpace. Check out these downloads below to hear what everyone else will be buzzing about several months from now. Well, it looks like you can no longer hotlink to MP3s at MySpace, which we guess is perfectly understandable, so just hit the links above and go get the files yerself.

[Update: OK, we're now fully obsessed with Johnny Foreigner. We just poked around and you can download five MP3s at their web site, and two MP3 samples of their first single "Sometimes In The Bullring"/"Camp Kelly Calm" (released in October) from the Laundrette site here -- and for those of you keeping score at home, yes, "Sometimes In the Bullring" does appear to be the same song as "Yes! You Talk Too Much" [oops, we think we mislabeled some files -- those songs are absofrably not the same song, we even had confirmation from the band]. OK, now we really should do something more productive with our Saturday than go deeper down the rabbit hole of fanaticism for this band... at least for now. But would a U.S. label please sign these guys ASAP?]

[UPDATE 2: We can't stop listening. We can't. Figures, as the band mentions Meneguar in their bio. They may be the only ones who like Meneguar more than we do.]

>> London's The Draytones have a shaggy British Invasion sound that, while not particularly innovative, moves us. The forthcoming single "Keep Loving Me," rides a lunging chord progression for several glorious, mop-topped minutes. You can stream the song at the trio's MySpace flat here. It features the vintage production move of hard-panned instrumentation, something The Beatles did often. So it's drums in the right earphone, guitars in the left and bass and vocals tussling between your ears. And then there's the backwards guitar tracking. "Keep Loving Me" is available for pre-order, and will be released Feb. 26 on 1965 Records in a vinyl edition limited to 1000 copies. 1965, for you indie purists, is related to Sony BMG in some manner. The Draytones are currently touring all about the UK, and you can find the tour dates at their aforementioned MySpace digs.

>> We stepped out last night with BrighAAAAm to see the latest project of one of the former members of fabled '80s indie act Phantom Tollbooth, and we liked what we heard: dueling vocals, big guitars, the occasional burst of math and kick-ass drumming. The newish act is called Darling Nerves, and they've got several tunes over at their MySpace diving bell here. We struggled last night for descriptors for the Brooklyn-based quartet, but we can say the band has a very engaging early '90s indie rock fuzz going on. We're certain there were dozens of band with a similar sound when we were in college, but we're hard-pressed to think of an appropriate analog. Magnapop? Tsunami? Bettie Serveert? None of those are quite right, although the latter circa Palomine may be the closest we get. Anyway, head over to their MySpace and check out in particular the standout track "Roy Orbison." It's gloriously melodic and the instruments and vocals are all over each other in a cool way. The band has two shows on the horizon, so check MySpace to see if they'll be near you.

February 8, 2007

Don't Call It A Comeback, Dino Jr.'s "Been There All The Time" [MP3]

Dinosaur Jr. -- Original Lineup, 2007[UPDATED with a hosted MP3 that won't expire too quickly, album art and links to pre-order the album] Good things do come to those who wait. We had email today from some folks representing the interests of Fat Possum saying thanks for not posting any leaked tunes from the forthcoming Dinosaur Jr. reunion record that permeated the Internets yesterday. No problem, we said. Then they gave us permission to post the song "Been There All The Time" from the new record. And then we were psyched. The tune is an upbeat rocker with tons of shredding guitar, perhaps not as dark as the best Dinosaur Jr. stuff, but you gotta remember, this is music coming from a guy who recently wrote a CD of devotional jams about a living saint famous for hugging people.

Dinosaur Jr. -- BeyondAnyway, "Been There All The Time" bears some resemblance to J's amazing cut "Same Day," which opened the first J Mascis And The Fog record More Light and heretofore has been in our opinion the best tune J has written this decade. The great news? There are many great songs on Beyond, and, to use a technical term here, the record has us completely stoked. Just wait until you hear the guitar solo on "We're Not Alone." But we're getting ahead of ourselves. The bad news? Beyond is still some 10 weeks off from being released May 1 on Fat Possum. Pre-order the record right here -- it may be the best Dinosaur record since Where You Been. What a day, huh? The only thing that'd make it better is if we could get some of the awesome silver Nike hi-tops J designed. Anyway, we know what you want, so here it is.

Dinosaur Jr. -- "Been There All The Time" -- Beyond [pre-order]
[Updated hard link -- thanks to a particular upstanding citizen]

Dinosaur Jr.: InterWeb | MySpace | YouTube | Flickr | Wikipedia

February 7, 2007

Today's Hotness: Ian Svenonius, Will Oldham, Dinosaur Jr.

>> After revisiting former Nation Of Ulysses/Make Up fronter Ian Svenonius' acting work in the DVD edition of "Half-Cocked" [read our review of the DVD here] we were particularly jazzed to learn more about his new talk show, which we first mentioned here in September. Anyway, the talk show is called "Soft Focus" and it is part of Vice Magazine's new online video play VBS.TV. The first episode of "Soft Focus", linked above this item, features Mr. Svenonius interviewing none other than Will Oldham, who is one of the weirder dudes out there. The interview was filmed in front of a live audience at the Guggenheim Museum and it is chopped up into four easily digestible chunks. And to be honest, Oldham often is more in control of the situation than Svenonius, who seems to be trying to play things like a mellow Tom Snyder. Things we learned about Oldham: he idolizes Lon Chaney as the Werewolf and Bill Bixby and Lou Ferrigno as "The Incredible Hulk;" he likes to drink coffee with Sambuca in it before every show; he hates Nina Simone but loves Madonna. And stick around to the end to have all your perceptions about dolphins shattered.

>> The forthcoming set from reunited indie legends Dinosaur Jr. apparently leaked this afternoon. Message board buzz is largely positive, with fans gushing about the first three tracks and three tracks in the middle of the record. The record, titled Beyond, will be released on Fat Possum May 1, and a live DVD of the second leg of the band's reunion tour will be issued shortly thereafter. Beyond is the first record released by Dinosaur's original lineup since SST released Bug in 1988. We reviewed here for World Of Sound the December 2005 Dinosaur Jr. show that makes up the bulk of the DVD that will be released in May.

February 6, 2007

Rack And Opinion: Release Date 02.06.07

Peter, Bjorn & John -- Writer's BlockWe're just getting back into the groove with bloggamafying after our crazy week last week, so forgive the absence of yesterday's Free Range Music installment. We'll be posting album streams with our list of this week's most interesting releases below as a way to try to kill two birds with one stone. Definitely hit the links, because there are a few really jazzy records out this week. Perhaps the biggest surprise for us is the Peter, Bjorn & John record Writer's Block. The advance single was admittedly a toe-tapper, but we were feeling a little fatigued with the recent parade of Swedish pop. Then we listened to the record and found it to have a lot more depth than we had assumed. We'd dare say that the boxy production gives the proceedings a curiously spooky vibe, especially toward the end of the record.

A perhaps bigger release this week is the sophomore set from Brit post-punkers Bloc Party. Unsurprisingly, A Weekend In The City trafficks in bombast, but in a reasonable manner. Our impression of the record as we streamed it was that the music is willfully disjointed in places. The production sounds like later, slicker Nine Inch Nails. And "Uniform" [link to a stream in the item below] is a great jam, perhaps the best on the record. You may recall it made a very favorable impression on us when the band broke it out during their Boston appearance last July [review here]. We feel like our comment about the song having a similar vibe to The Cure's Pornography was particularly prescient, considering the ambitious production found on A Weekend In The City. Anyway, those two records are among our picks of the best of the week, all of which are listed below. Hyperlinks go to relevant commercial opportunities with the fine folks over at Newbury Comics. And don't forget to hit those album streams we're linking.

Apples In Stereo -- New Magnetic Wonder -- Simian [stream it!]
Bloc Party -- A Weekend In The City -- Vice [stream it!]
Lifetime -- Lifetime -- Decaydence [stream it!]
Yoko Ono -- Yes, I'm A Witch -- Astralwerks [stream it!]
Peter, Bjorn & John -- Writer's Block -- Almost Gold [stream it!]

Industry Watchdog: WMG/Last.FM, Apple, Bleep.com

>> It doesn't seem like the blogosphere has picked up on the announcement of the Warner Music Group deal with Last.FM yet (oh Coolfer, why must you forsake us for higher education?). We think the deal -- which allows music recommendation / social networking hybrid Last.FM to stream Warner's catalog, and the financial terms of which were not disclosed -- is very interesting. We're not intimate with every function Last.FM offers, but we have been impressed by two things recently. Here we talked about how German electropop dynamo Morr Music had agreed to stream its catalog at Last.FM. And here we took note of how Swedish pop label Labrador [which, incidentally, will issue next week an impressive four-disc comp called Labrador 100 -- perhaps inspired by the excellent Darla 100?] was promoting an EP from Mary Onettes via the web site. We speculated at the time that Last.FM, a privately held operation based in the UK, might make an attractive acquisition to someone like AOL. Certainly the manner in which Last.FM's charting and recommendation engine enables affinity-based social networking must seem a valuable proposition to anyone looking to compete with MySpace or Facebook. Which brings us back to today. The WMG deal seems to signal that at least one major label takes Last.FM seriously as a promotional vehicle for music. The service is definitely one to watch.

>> Does anybody else think it is odd that Steve Jobs made headlines today by telling major labels they should abandon DRM? Here is AP's story. We may be looking at the wrong side of the coin on this one, but it seems to us a primary reason the ITunes music store has been so successful is because its DRM-encoded music can only be played on Apple's snappy, market-leading IPods. In an open letter placed on the Apple web site that admittedly we didn't read, Jobs states "the anti-piracy technology as the main reason music sold through ITunes can't be transferred to other portable players besides the IPod." That sounds like a load of crap. Apple could have designed a DRM that would play on other devices. It didn't. And Apple got very mad every time RealNetworks rejiggered a software that let files encoded in its codec sneak onto IPods, from what we recall. Anyway, enough of that. Buried at the bottom of the AP story is an interesting metric: Jobs states that research indicates 22 out of every 1,000 songs stored on an IPod was purchased from ITunes. That's 2.2%.

>> A fellow blogger pointed out that Warp's Bleep.com digital music store now lets bloggers offer streams of any track the outfit sells. Pretty darn cool. So here's "Uniform" from Bloc Party's A Weekend In The City, which streeted today, and which we'll probably pick up later in the week if a promo doesn't waltz through the door by then.

February 5, 2007

Today's Hotness: The Grifters, Explosions In The Sky

The Grifters>> Former Grifters bassist Tripp Lamkins opens up with all sorts of interesting band trivia on this ILM thread. Lots of discussion of alternate guitar tunings, I-Ching-like songwriting and jam session tricks and UK touring chicanery. Worth reading through, and it will definitely have you digging out your old records. And for those of you who have never heard it, Lamkins plans to add the amazing Sub Pop single "Queen Of The Table Waters" to The Grifters' MySpace dojo here sometime soon. In the meantime, you can download a live version of one of the standout tracks from Ain't My Lookout, the band's first Sub Pop full-length, "Day Shift."

>> Texas-based post-rockers Explosions In The Sky will play on Conan O'Brien's late night gum flapper Feb. 20, the same day its heavily anticipated fourth record All Of A Sudden I Miss Everyone is released by Temporary Residence. The band will tour for much of the spring, with about three weeks of North American dates booked for March. Temporary Residence is offering the track "Welcome, Ghosts" as a download to hype the release. Dig it:

Explosions In The Sky -- "Welcome, Ghosts" -- All Of A Sudden I Miss Everyone
[right-click and save as]

>> Holy crap, the amazing 1991 Sonic Youth/Dinosaur Jr./Nirvana tour film "The Year Punk Broke" is on Google Video. And YouTube here. The effort to get the film released on DVD has apparently been stalled by The Estate of Kurt Cobain, but hopefully Ms. Love's 2006 deal with a business partner to begin exploiting Cobain's work will bear fruit on that front sooner rather than later.