April 30, 2007

Review: Auto Interiors | Let's Agree To Deceive Our Best Friends [MP3]

Auto Interiors -- Let's Agree To Deceive Our Best FriendsThe name Auto Interiors sounds like the title to a late '80s Rush album or a Gary Numan cover band. But no, it is the moniker of an arresting power-pop quartet operating out of Cambridge, Mass. After being contacted by a friendly Rykodisc rep about the nearly decade-old band and checking them out, we were easily sold by its hooky compositions. Still, it took a while to quantify what we enjoy about the band. Part of it is obvious: the vocals of Eric Waxwood and the chunky guitars are aurally similar to those of another important Boston act -- Buffalo Tom (incidentally, Stereogum has information about the forthcoming Buffalo Tom set and an MP3 here). But there is another element pervading Auto Interior's hummable tunes, and after some consideration we think we can name it: it is a detached, vaudeville tunefulness (check out "Small Death") of the sort prominent in the songwriting of Franklin Bruno, he best known for his work in Nothing Painted Blue. Based on the band's MySpace dojo, we think Auto Interiors would argue its compositions are more Beatles and Kinks homage (check those "ahhhhhs" on "I Suppose," which is available for download at the band's MySpace hizzy) than Tin Pan Alley-tinged.

Either way, we're talking about eminently listenable music -- we're just embarrassed someone had to point out something to us that has been right under our proverbial noses as long as we've lived in Boston. Let's Agree To Deceive Our Best Friends, the band's sophomore set, is packed tightly with catchy tunes, 11 in a mere 34 minutes, so make sure to hit the repeat button on your IPod as it blows by all too quickly. The band will be performing live on Boston radio station WBCN Sunday May 6 at 10PM, for those of you who still quaintly adhere to terrestrial radio. To catch AI live any time soon, your best best is a gig at Piano's in Manhattan May 10. Auto Interiors' Let's Agree... was released by Rykodisc March 13. The set ends big with the uncharacteristically dark and dense strummer "Green Arrow," a bracing psych-rock amalgamation that sounds like equal parts Yo La Tengo and The Cult, which we're posting for a limited time below.

Auto Interiors -- "Green Arrow" -- Let's Agree to Deceive Our Best Friends
[right click and save as]
[buy Auto Interiors music from Newbury Comics here and Rykodisc here]

Auto Interiors: InterWeb | MySpace | YouTube | Flickr

April 29, 2007

Today's Hotness: Photon Band, Dinosaur Jr., Last.FM

Photon Band>> Remember a couple months ago when we posted here that long-running power-pop concern The Photon Band was about to release a five-song EP called Get Down Here In The Stratosphere? Well, the initial March 8 release date came and went, but a new MySpace bulletin promises the set should be available at unnamed digital storefronts this coming week (perhaps it will even end up in the Philebrity Player?). We'll let you know when we see it pop up. Philly-based Photon Band, fronted by one-time Lilys-member Art DiFuria, also plans to release a full-length set in June called Back Down To Earth. Not up on your Photon Band lore? The act's first release was a very good single on Darla "747 (Don't Worry)," which was issued in 1996. You can learn more here, and you can snag most if not all of the band's catalog from EMusic (incidentally, "747" also appears on the compilation Our Own ESP Driven Scene). If we had to pick a favorite Photon Band cut, we'd be forced to pick two. Here they are, for a limited time:

The Photon Band -- "Jealousy" -- All Young In The Soul
The Photon Band -- "Genius" -- Oh The Sweet, Sweet Changes
[right click and save as]
[buy Photon Band records from Darla here and EMusic here]

>> This simple Q+A at Exclaim! -- probably executed via email -- is one of the more insightful interviews with guitar god J Mascis that we've read. And we're not just saying that because he professes an affinity for the erstwhile teen soap "Dawson's Creek." Mascis discusses his own, shall we say, unique conversational style. He also states that he likes that he hasn't committed suicide yet, he was both pleased and disappointed by an appearance with Tony Bennett, and on and on. There is really interesting information here, and the reason we are fairly certain it was done via email is because any journalist that doesn't pose a follow up question to Mascis' mentions of suicide and Lollapalooza should be fired for not doing their job. Dinosaur Jr. performs on Letterman tomorrow night, and then the trio's excellent new record Beyond will street Tuesday. We reviewed the record here early in the month. It's awesome.

>> We've followed with some interest the rise of Last.FM, so we were especially interested to read here at Digital Music News that preliminary acquisition discussions between it and Viacom have floated a valuation of $450 million on the British company. While current exchange rates make that only 225 million pounds or so, it is still an impressive figure representing a whole lotta scrobbles. In February we speculated here that Last.FM is a likely acquisition target. Our guess for a logical suitor was AOL, and we would be surprised to learn the AOL and Last.FM haven't had any contact. While you ponder the fate of Last.FM, how about checking out our profile?

>> On The Download has the trailer for that documentary of the Silver Jews tour of Israel here. Dig it.

April 28, 2007

Saturday Night's Alright For Frightened: New FR Live Set

Frightened Rabbit
[Greetings music fans. We apologize for the recent pause -- we've been dealing with a robbery at :: clicky clicky :: world headquarters, and we've also been enjoying some weekend guests. And, incidentally, as we write this, we are suffering through some intensely bad smells coming out of one end of our greyhound -- we'll let you guess which end. Anyway, let's talk about rock music. -- Ed.]

This one almost slipped by us: Glaswegian indie rock savants Frightened Rabbit are selling via EMusic MP3s of their performance at South By Southwest last month. Interestingly, the label listed at the EMusic page is Self Starter Foundation -- a hint of things to come, perhaps? Even more interesting is there is a fiery live performance of the trio's newer track "Fast Blood," which is one of a series of demos that found their way into our hands recently via a kind benefactor. The tail end of the recording contains hysterical banter about Bob Dylan and bat poop, and then the band hops into a thumping version of "Music Now." The highlight of the short set is a frantic rendition of the excellent cut "The Greys." Just download the whole thing, it's hot. In case you missed Stylus's recent survey of the band, which includes a few MP3s from the band's excellent 2006 release Sings The Greys (still not released in the states, but we're hearing a release could occur this fall as a set-up for the issuance of Frightened Rabbit's planned sophomore set), you can check it out here. Finally, here is the band's excellent new-ish track "My Backwards Walk," which they've been offering via their MySpace hutch for a few weeks.

Frightened Rabbit -- "My Backwards Walk" -- MySpace
[right click and save as]

[buy Frightened Rabbit music from EMusic here, the only place cool enough to sell it right now]

April 24, 2007

Today's Hotness: Lilys, Dinosaur Jr., Qui

Lilys -- Tone Bender EP>> Hot blog Built On A Weak Spot here examines Lilys' stellar 1992 debut In The Presence Of Nothing, and offers up a few MP3s to boot. The record is obscenely out-of-print, but there are used copies out there. In the comments to the post we advised interested parties to track down the Lilys' superlative and even more rare Tone Bender EP, the main selling point of which is the track "Eskimo." The track isn't available on CD anywhere else, so far as we know. We think we've posted "Eskimo" before, but for those of you who haven't heard it, here it is once again for a very limited time. The Tone Bender EP was released by Summershine but we are not sure which year -- likely 1993, but that's just a guess. Anyway, we wrote about the EP previously here. The excitingly rejuvenated Slumberland Records site is hosting MP3s of other tracks from the EP including "February 14th," which we've linked below as well.

Lilys -- "Eskimo" -- Tone Bender EP
Lilys -- "February 14th" -- February 14th b/w Threw A Day 7"
[right click and save as]
[buy Lilys records from Newbury Comics here]

>> Speaking of buying music, we are very excited about the Other Music digital store that is online here. Idolator breaks down the salient whys and wherefores here. Basically, the tracks are encoded at a very nice 320Kbps and retail for about $1.11 a piece. We already ran over to try to buy a digital version of Kompakt's Pop Ambient 2007, which we accidentally purchased on vinyl from Forced Exposure. Anyway, we were all set to punch in our credit card information at Other Music Digital when we glanced at the page URL and noticed the usual HTTP as opposed to the secure HTTPS. The site's FAQ states that it uses SSL to protect transactions, but we weren't about to give our credit card number without double checking. We wrote to the customer service address and we'll let you know if we learn anything interesting.

>> According to the industrious folks over at FreakScene.net, alternative rock behemoth Dinosaur Jr. is slated to perform on The Late Show With David Letterman on April 30. That happens to be the eve of the release of the band's fantastic new set Beyond, which we reviewed here. The FreakScene freakers also tracked down a clip of J Mascis performing on Norwegian television recently. It's a little tricky to access, and in fact we couldn't quite figure it out, but if you've got some time to kill, the details are in this thread.

>> Just a bit of a follow-up on our item from last night: we had no idea today would be the day that Qui news was going to break, but broke it did less than 24 hours after we mentioned them in the intro to yesterday's A Silver Mount Zion review. Anyway, Pitchfork reports here that the band has signed with Touch And Go and will issue the set Love's Miracle Sept. 11. Amazingly, the set will include a cover of Pink Floyd's epic "Echoes." Wild.

>> Pun Canoes just published a lengthy interview here with the filmmakers of the excellent documentary "American Hardcore," which we wrote about previously here and here and here. Worth sitting down and spending some time with, and if you haven't seen the documentary and are a fan of any sort of modern alternative music, well, you have to see this.

April 23, 2007

That Was The Show That Was: A Silver Mount Zion | Colmar, France

A Silver Mount Zion as shot by Flickr user Mr Pilou Face May 23, 2006
[PHOTO CREDIT | Indie rock vagabond Lars Ro, one of our oldest friends, returns to the electronic pages of :: clicky clicky :: with this performance review of Canadian post-rockers A Silver Mount Zion. Mr. Ro is a veteran of numerous indie acts, the longest-running being Sfu-ma-to, and he recently opened a show for SMZ in Lausanne; Ro also operates Purr Mama Resistor Records. Ro previously reviewed a live performance of David Yow's new endeavour Qui here, months before most publications knew Qui from a Cuisinart. -- Ed.]

Last night, as the septet A Silver Mount Zion took the stage of Le Grillen in the French city of Colmar, Jessica Moss and Sophie Trudeau assumed positions flanking the stage like violin-bearing angels. And then new tune "13 Blues for 13 Moons" commenced apocalyptically, before shifting into a serious Hendrix-esque riff and building into pure, bucking rock. Drummer Eric [sorry, Eric, we don't know your surname -- Ed.] appeared possessed, despite being a relatively new addition to the band. "Mountains Made of Steam" [the inspiration for the so-named fan site] was super-hushed, illuminating how the crowd tonight seemed to be tamer than most on this tour so far. Sweeping, cresting waves of overlapping violins, cello and contrabass gave way to the klezmer-like "Lai lai lai la lai." As was band progenitor Godspeed You! Black Emporer before it, A Silver Mount Zion is a master of shifting dynamics. Ms. Moss even contributed some Sigur Ròs-esque screams into her violin.

The loose and dissonant passages of new composition "Engine Broke" were perfectly suited to Eric's percussive blasts: epic soundscapes which would do Wilhelm Wagner proud. Lyrics like "building trainwrecks in the setting sun" invoke fitting images for our age. "Take These Hands & Throw Them In The River," the only oldie-but-goodie of the set, kicked off with strings that sounded like air-raid sirens. I could literally feel my guts turn, and had a sense of what a young miss in Brussels meant when she characterized SMZ's music "distressing." Onwards to chugging rock, into a feedback fest and finally an avant-garde symphony. The new hit "1 Million Died To Make This Sound" started off in a similarly unsettling manner, navigating experimental waters and then entering medieval plainsong territory. (I found myself wondering if one million notes were being played in the song, being quite exhausted after a near-sleepless night...)

Six songs might sound like a short set, but considering the lengths of SMZ's opuses, think again. The encore consisted of "Blind Blind Blind" [YouTube], with the stated preference "we want punks in the palace" falling on eager, anyone-but-Sarkozy ears (it was election day in France this day). It was a powerhouse of a song, sliding down chutes and up sonic ladders again. I was wondering why I wasn't crying to the refrain of "some hearts are true" as I usually do, and then they suddenly began streaming down. The audience's final applause was quite impressive, so maybe Colmarians aren't as tame as I'd first feared. -- Lars Ro.

You can download A Silver Mount Zion's April 17 performance, the fourth show of its current strand of tour dates, in lossless audio files at Archive.org here. The remaining tour dates are listed below the requisite links. After these dates the band will turn its attention to completing a live record tentatively titled F*ck You Drakulas, which it hopes to finish by mid-summer according to the band's web site. A Silver Mount Zion plans to tour the U.S. and Canada from late July until early September.

Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra & Tra-La-La Band: InterWeb | MySpace | YouTube | Flickr

04/24 -- Nancy, FR -- L'Autre Canal
04/26 -- Brighton, UK -- Komedia
04/27 -- Colchester, UK -- Arts Centre
04/29 -- Somerset, UK -- ATP Festival
04/30 -- London, UK -- Scala
05/02 -- Sheffield, UK -- Corporation
05/03 -- Oxford, UK -- Zodiac
05/05 -- Hasselt, BE -- Zall Belgie

April 22, 2007

Today's Hotness: Johnny Foreigner (Again), Morrissey

Johnny Foreigner makes the drinky-drinky motion
>> [Yes, we realize this is the third time we mentioned the band this week. Sue us -- Ed.] If you've been a reader for any length of time, you know we will occasionally advise you to drop everything and obtain some music. Most recently we think our recommendation was Ringo Deathstarr. But today we again turn our focus to matchless Birmingham, England-based noise pop trio Johnny Foreigner, which has just posted three new tracks for download at its MySpace manger. The recordings are dramatically cleaner than the band's early demos but still pack a wallop. And the songs are startlingly amazing, particularly "Our Bipolar Friends (Ninja 2)" and "Suicide Pact Yeh," considering the band is sort of due to write a clunker at this point, what with all of the great songs they've been posting lately. We are beginning to worry that if the band keeps giving away all their songs they will never have enough new and unheard for a debut full-length. But anyway, let their potential loss be your definite gain and go download the tracks ASAP. JoFo is awesome and they keep getting better, and with Los Campesinos signed off to Arts + Crafts as of this week, Johnny Foreigner's unsigned days are likely drawing to a close. Maybe we'll have a little fun in the next week or so and tell you what songs we'd pick for a JoFo full-length, which versions and the running order. In the meantime go download these tracks -- they are crucial, spring-finally-comes-to-Boston listening.

Johnny Foreigner -- "Our Bipolar Friends (Ninja 2)"
Johnny Foreigner -- "Cranes And Cranes And Cranes"
Johnny Foreigner -- "Suicide Pact Yeah"
@ MySpace

>> Here's video of living legend Morrissey and band destroying on The Jimmy Kimmel Show in Hollywood Friday night. Two words: trombone solo.

April 20, 2007

Today's Hotness: Up Up Down Down, Los Campesinos

Up Up Down Down Left Right Left Right B A Start
>> We had no idea that post-emo superstars Up Up Down Down Left Right Left Right B A Start were recording a new record, but it's true. The New Jersey-based quintet plans to release a 10-song set next month. No title has been released yet, and no label has been mentioned, so we expect it will be released on the band's own imprint. In the meantime you can help out the Uppers by appearing in a video for one of the forthcoming tunes. According to a MySpace bulletin the band will shoot a video Saturday April 29 at its studio The Gradwell House in Haddon Heights, NJ. The video will be included on the forthcoming record, and the band wants you to know the words if you're going to be in it. You can hear a stream of the new jaunty strummer here -- its got a tricky 11-beat verse and a tumultuous close. And in true UUDDLRLRBAS fashion, it is short and to the point. If you want to hear more from the band, make sure to head over to their MP3 clearinghouse UpUpDownDownloads.com, which we seem to link to every couple months or so whether we need it or not. Here's one of our favorite jams of theirs:

Up Up Down Down Left Right Left Right B A Start -- "Melanie Flury" -- Girls Names EP
[right click and save as]

>> UK-based indie pop septet Los Campesinos have signed with Canadian superlabel Arts + Crafts, according to a MySpace bulletin from the jubilant Brits. The first fruits of the partnership will be an EP released July 3 titled Sticking Fingers Into Sockets, which will be "released in North America and some other places too." Adding more loft to the band's rise is its recent appointment to this year's Lollapalooza line-up. Not sure what all the fuss is about? Well the band has posted a recent single for free download from its web site here -- how about we link to it? And here is a link to a YouTube video of a recent live performance during which the Campies are joined on stage for "You! Me! Dancing!" by folks including our favorite Birmingham noise poppers Johnny Foreigner (well, we think that is what's happening -- the video is small and the people onstage are many).

Los Campesinos -- "You Throw Parties, We Throw Knives"
Los Campesinos -- "Don't Tell Me To Do The Maths"
[these are .zip files; right click and save as]

April 19, 2007

YouTube Rodeo: Brushes with Mercury Rev's "Something For Joey"

Folks not familiar with Buffalo, NY-spawned Mercury Rev's back catalog may be surprised to learn that they once could almost out-Flaming Lips the Flaming Lips. And that at one point guitarist Jonathan Donahue played with the Lips; Rev bassist Dave Fridmann of course has recorded the Lips many times. The Allmusic entry for Mercury Rev is full of other revelations and we recommend reading it. We turned onto Mercury Rev, and this song in particular, long before we became Flaming Lips fans. We were in the brand-new-at-the-time studios of Bucknell University's radio station in late '93 or early '94 when we came across a cardboard box full of discarded promo materials sitting next to a brown plastic trash barrel. These included a demo cassette we still have featuring three tracks from Mercury Rev's sophomore set Boces, "Something For Joey," "Bronx Cheer" and "Snorry Mouth." We've listened to the tape hundreds of times, and yet we'd never seen the video above before stumbling upon it the other night. We didn't watch much TV in the early and mid-'90s, and we think that may be why. Or, perhaps because the video features at least one recognizable porn star, some topless women (tastefully covered with cartoon stars here) and suggestive (if silly) imagery it was never aired in the first place. All the same, this may be one of the best, or at least ridiculously excessive, music videos ever made. Note that this video is on YouTube with the permission of SonyBMG, but embedding is disabled. We guess AOL didn't get the memo on that, eh? Or they have better licensing terms. Here's some more classic Mercury Rev the band is offering at its site, a live performance of "Carwash Hair" from 1996.

Mercury Rev -- "Carwash Hair (Live)" -- Houston, TX 2/8/1996
[right click and save as]
[buy Mercury Rev records from Newbury Comics here]

April 18, 2007

Clicky Clicky Parade Of MySpace Stars vol. 2 -- Updates

Johnny ForeignerThere's news in the world of two acts we previously profiled here in Clicky Clicky Parade Of MySpace Stars vol. 2. Read on.

>> Birmingham, England-based noise pop heroes Johnny Foreigner have been voted into the final round of a competition in the U.K. called The Road To V. The contest bestows upon the victor a slot performing on a certain stage at an event called V Festival, which occurs in mid-August and is sponsored by the mobile phone service prong of Sir Richard Branson's decentralized Virgin empire. The next step of the competition to determine the lucky V Fest performer has Johnny Foreigner and 13 other finalists performing live on the teevee in the UK for a panel of judges -- hopefully that video ends up on YouTube. In the meantime, the act's second proper release, a split single with Sunset Cinema Club on Laundrette Recording Company, will be released May 21. The record features each band playing one of their own ("Yes You Talk Too Fast" and "Down On The Farm" respectively) and one of the other band's tunes, much like the excellent 1994 Archers Of Loaf/Treepeople split on Sonic Bubblegum we mentioned previously here. You can already stream the cuts at Laundrette's MySpace shed here, and they are flipping brilliant. And did we mention the art for the Johnny Foreigner/Sunset Cinema Club split is 3-D and the single comes with 3-D glasses? Nutty. The release is limited to 500 copies, so start limbering up those ordering fingers when May rolls around. In the meantime, Johnny Foreigner offers a few downloads at its MySpace hut, a couple of which we've pulled down and put back up for you at the links below.

Johnny Foreigner -- "Sometimes In The Bullring"
Johnny Foreigner -- "SofaCore"
[right click and save as]

>> Indie rock quartet Darling Nerves, which we saw play a hot set in early February, has parted ways with drummer Caryn Havlik. Ms. Havlik will reportedly be devoting her full attention to pursuing her passion for dog racing (as the owner of a retired greyhound, we can say this is a passion we don't share). The remaining members of the Brooklyn-based combo, which features former Phantom Tollbooth guy Gerard Smith on bass guitar, is auditioning drummers. Hit up their MySpace pad here if you think you've got the skin-slamming skills or if you want to bask in the glory of their indie fuzz.

April 17, 2007

Review: The Sea And Cake | Everybody [Stream]

The Sea And Cake -- EverybodyAnticipating the release of a new record from The Sea And Cake is a ritualized experience for us, during which we wait in uncertainty like Pozzo and Lucky for signs of a return to one of the band's landmark recordings. In 1995 and 1997 the Chicago-based quartet issued back-to-back records that are pillars of indie pop, the guitar-oriented The Biz and the electronically textured The Fawn. Over the past decade we've done two things more than we'd care to admit: listen relentlessly to those records, and hope that the four horsemen of the indiepopalypse (Mssrs. Prekop, Prewitt, McEntire and Claridge, each Chicago music luminaries in their own right) would finally concoct a third perfect record mining one or both of those records' styles. Today we can report after a four-year wait (since the release of the band's prior effort Oui) that the quartet's forthcoming collection Everybody is as close to a perfect guitar-pop album as The Sea And Cake has crafted since The Biz.

While maintaining a characteristic understated sophistication, the set is touted as The Sea And Cake's "rock record." And indeed the group's gentlemanly pop here is propelled by punchier rhythms and occasionally aggressive -- well, relatively -- performances and production. "Left On" pulses with the inevitability of vintage kraut rock and occasionally unleashes avian shrieking and feedback in what may be the heaviest Sea And Cake tune ever tracked. The show of strength is bracing, but it is little surprise when the band retires to its pop boudoir as the song recesses into silence. "Crossing Line" bursts open with an abundance of sonic fizz in the form of a fuzzed out guitar, resulting in another near-brash track from a group that typically maintains a sort of polite decorum with its compositions. The Sea And Cake states Everybody is relatively straightforward and live-sounding and that there are fewer overdubs than on their other collections. That may be so, but there are still many nice production touches, such as the electronic flourishes in the denouement of the irresistible sorta title track "Lightning."

Everybody will be released May 8; a deluxe gatefold LP will include a 16-page booklet that we imagine will be a delight to behold. The Sea And Cake plan a substantial strand of tour dates beginning May 14 in Vancouver. The full tour is listed below, as is a stream of the African high-life tinged "Exact To Me."

The Sea And Cake -- "Exact To Me" -- Everybody
[it's a stream, just click, and get ready to adjust your volume]
[buy Everybody from Thrill Jockey here]

The Sea And Cake: Interweb | MySpace | YouTube | Flickr

05/14 -- Vancouver, BC -- Richard's on Richards
05/15 -- Seattle, WA -- Neumo's
05/16 -- Portland, OR -- Crystal Ballroom
05/18 -- San Francisco, CA -- Bimbo's
05/19 -- Los Angeles, CA -- The Troubadour
05/20 -- Los Angeles, CA -- The Troubadour
05/21 -- Solana Beach, CA -- Belly Up
05/31 -- Chicago, IL -- Empty Bottle (Two Shows)
06/02 -- Toronto, ON -- Mod Club
06/03 -- Montreal, QC -- La Sala Rossa
06/05 -- Boston, MA -- The Paradise
06/07 -- New York, NY -- Webster Hall
06/08 -- Philadelphia, PA -- Theatre of Living Arts
06/09 -- Washington, DC -- Black Cat

[Click here for European tour dates]

April 16, 2007

Today's Hotness: Wilco, Pole, Amazon, MySpace

Wilco -- Sky Blue Sky>> Alt-rock gigantes Wilco have certainly got album marketing down to a science. Chromewaves here points us to a feature in Billboard that discusses the act's forthcoming record, Sky Blue Sky due May 15, and it lists off various planned sales permutations. The most appealing to us is the audiophile-grade vinyl that comes with a copy of the CD included. Not because we are a real vinyl devotee -- we're not, despite the fact that we continue to accidentally order LPs instead of CDs every now and again (resulting in our receiving a vinyl version of Kompakt's amazing Pop Ambient 2007 10 days ago). No, the reason we really like the vinyl-with-CD package is because these days we don't really do much with CDs anymore after ripping them to our hard drive, so getting the vinyl as a bonus means we can occasionally throw the record on or frame the album art if it jazzes us in real life. In addition to the vinyl/CD release, there will be a deluxe CD release that includes a DVD with a making-of documentary entitled "Shake It Off;" ITunes gets an exclusive outtake to go with its sales of the record; "indie coalitions" -- which we presume means Insound, Other Music and the like -- will sell a version of Sky Blue Sky that comes with a bonus disc with outtakes and live performances. The Billboard article is very good; read the whole thing here. And of course you can already stream Sky Blue Sky at Wilco's web site here, where they are also hosting a download from the record, a zip file containing the song "What Light."

Wilco -- "What Light" -- Sky Blue Sky
[.zip file; right click and save as]

>> Speaking of Pop Ambient 2007, another disc we received in that shipment was Pole's Steingarten, which Stylus reviews here today. After the disappointing foray into soundtracking a bland rapper on Pole's last outing, Steingarten is a refreshing return to Stefan Betke's dreamy electrodub. We reviewed Pole's 2003 self-titled effort and the EPs that preceded it for Junkmedia here, here and here. Anyway, how about an MP3 from the new and thoroughly satisfying Pole jawn?

Pole -- "Sylvenstein" -- Steingarten
[right click and save as]

>> Amazon.com may finally enter the digital music game next month, after at least seven years of speculation. Billboard reports here that the digital storefront may launch a service next month that will likely include DRM-free Classical music licensed from Universal's catalog. Here's hoping Amazon has gotten its digital act together significantly since the TV On The Radio pre-order debacle we ranted about in all of these places (1, 2, 3, 4). The Billboard article has interesting background about a scuttled launch of the Amazon service last year, as well as additional information about license negotiations with other labels that turn on wholesale pricing and bitrates.

>> This Wired article claims MySpace owns 81% of the social networking market. Interesting, considering our perception is that MySpace is sort of on the wane. Facebook, which we've never even looked at because, well, we're old, owns 10% of the market. There's no overt music angle to the story, just thought it was notable that MySpace's grip on the so-called social networking space is more robust than we had assumed. Now everybody switch over to Virb already.

April 14, 2007

Today's Hotness: Andrew Bird, Guitar, Mazarin, Mogwai

>> We'd never considered that multi-instrumentalist Andrew Bird's music was something we'd really like to see performed live, but that was quickly changed by his trio's performance on "Letterman" earlier this week. We watched the tightly wound and ticking performance of his delightful tune "Plasticities" several times before banishing it from our TiVo, and we've posted the TouYube clip above even though we expect it will be yanked due to the Viacom lawsuit any moment now. What we find exciting, besides Bird's performing quirks, is his and his sidemen's buzzing performance. Bird and his drummer in particular regularly switch among an array of instruments within their reach. When Bird isn't loading violin samples into a pedal, playing guitar, striking a xylophone or singing, he also throws in some whistling. It's fun to watch, and it has made us want to see more. Bird's latest set Armchair Apocrypha -- the set on which "Plasticities" appears -- was released by Fat Possum last month, and KoomDogg reviewed it for us here. Here's an MP3 of another cut from the record:

Andrew Bird -- "Heretics" -- Armchair Apocrypha
[right click and save as]

>> The last couple of releases from electropop act Guitar have snuck up on us. Word of Michael Lueckner's latest (and fifth, so we guess that would be four that have snuck up on us, including two that were only released in Japan) set under the Guitar moniker comes to us via this post at the solid Missouri-based blog Built On A Week Spot. The post contains the track "Sine Wave," which marks a bit of a return to the guitar-drenched sounds of early tracks such as "House Full Of Time," although the guitars rest in the background and give ample room for a rickety, popping percussion track and vocals. Anyway, the new set is called Dealin With Signal And Noise and it will be released May 15 on Onitor. The label also released Guitar's sophomore set; its debut Sunkissed was issued on Morr Music in 2002 and we reviewed it here for Junkmedia.

>> The artist/s formerly known as Mazarin (explanation here) are enjoying a bit of an afterlife courtesy of lifestyle brand Puma. The shoe and apparel maker is using Mazarin's "For Energy Infinite" in this new television commercial that you may or may not have seen. Us, we haven't seen it. The song is from Mazarin's excellent 2005 release We're Already There, which we reviewed for Junkmedia here. In more important news, leader Quentin Stoltzfus says the band is writing new music, trying to come up with a new band name, and plans a new MySpace and web site for the future.

>> In addition to the forthcoming Dinosaur Jr. show that we can't believe will be an in-store at the Urban Outfitters in Harvard Square (and have you seen this awesome video yet?), there are some other sorta different music events in Boston on the horizon. The new ICA will be screening the "Zidane: A 21st-Century Portrait" documentary May 6 and 10. The film features a soundtrack by Scottish post-rock behemoths Mogwai. You can watch eleven clips from the film here; you can buy tickets here.

April 12, 2007

YouTube Rodeo: Japonesian Ball Foundation's "Another Girl..."

We're sure you've heard The Only Ones' "Another Girl, Another Planet," and likely you've heard The Replacements cover of the song. If you're very, very lucky, you've heard the American Ruse's cover, too, which was released on 7" by Sympathy For The Record Industry in the '90s (if anyone has a digitized version of this, please get in touch with us). All that said, we'll venture a guess that few of you have heard the song as covered by the curiously and/or ridiculously named Japonesian Ball Foundation. Google turns up very little about the band, incidentally, except that its 2002 release may or may not be called Soul Flower Union, and this song appeared on it. Oh yeah, and the cover is racy to the point of being NSFW.

April 11, 2007

Today's Hotness: Operation Ivy, Dinosaur Jr.

Operation Ivy>> Operation Ivy's Energy will be reissued in remastered form on Rancid Records May 1, according to Pun Canoes. The erstwhile Berkeley, Calif.-based band, which is pretty much the first and last word in ska-core, existed for only a couple years before breaking up in mid-1989 after turning down a recording contract from EMI. Members of Operation Ivy went on to form Rancid, a largely forgettable commercial punk rock act. Energy was most recently available via Lookout! Records, but was pulled from the label in the wake of Lookout!'s well-publicized financial problems. You can pre-order the new version right here.

>> Attention Bostonians: Would you buy a car from Dinosaur Jr.? On a Monday? In Harvard Square? On June 11? Well, Mascis and crew won't be selling the cars, they'll be providing the rock that induces fans to be marketed to by newby car brand Yaris, and somehow it all benefits Emerson College's radio station WERS. A few more details here.

>> "Hey, where's Tommy? Someone find Tommy, we're out on the road..."

>> Clicky Clicky Request Line: Does anybody have an MP3 of Citizen's Utilities' song "Chemicals"? We think the version we are half-remembering was a live track from a compilation that was released prior to the band's 1996 full length. Anyone? Hit our email at upper right if you do.

April 10, 2007

Review: Pink Floyd -- Meddle: A Classic Album Under Review [DVD]

Pink Floyd -- Meddle: A Classic Album Under ReviewIn our opinion, the music of Pink Floyd was at its most exciting between Syd Barrett's departure and the release of The Dark Side Of The Moon, when bassist Roger Waters became the dominant voice in the band (to grossly oversimplify the band's output from the mid-'70s through The Final Cut). The stretch of albums and soundtracks from the vastly under-appreciated More to the also vastly under-appreciated Obscured By Clouds captures the band casting about for direction and re-inventing itself several times over, embracing acid rock ("Nile Song"), orchestral psych ("Atom Heart Mother") and piano-driven balladry ("Stay") all between 1969 to 1972. Some compelling ideas from the era, such as the heavy concept piece The Man & The Journey, were never recorded and exist only as bootlegs.

In late 1971 Pink Floyd issued Meddle, its first album that -- based on the hundreds of music collections we've inspected over the last 25 years -- enjoyed fairly broad acceptance among mainstream music fans. Interestingly, that appeal seems heavily based on the strong and continued affinity FM radio has for the album opener "One Of These Days," a track considered by some in the band to be the most collaborative composition it ever recorded. Meddle as a collection flows but is far from homogenous. From the "Dr. Who"-ish space rock of the opener, Floyd leads listeners through the peaceful, pastoral mirror world of "A Pillow Of Winds;" the slow campfire strum of "Fearless" (which memorably closes with Liverpool soccer fans singing "You'll Never Walk Alone;" the cosmopolitan and hedonistic bounce of "San Tropez;" the weird dead-dog blues sketch "Seamus;" and finally the Homeric psych symphony "Echoes." Granted, none of it is overtly challenging to casual music fans, but little of it is Top 40 fodder either. And yet the album reached No. 3 on the U.K. charts.

Pink Floyd -- MeddleAll of which leads to us to the recently issued DVD "Pink Floyd -- Meddle: A Classic Album Under Review," which will be released by MVD Entertainment April 24. We were skeptical of how much we would enjoy this, because we found another video in the series, "Joy Division -- Under Review," very dull. The expert commentary contained there, while credible, offered little compelling analysis or insight (particularly when compared against the relatively gripping Ian Curtis biography "Touching From A Distance" written by Curtis's widow Deborah). Without input from actual band members, there seemed to be little meaningful raw material, making "Joy Division -- Under Review" fall flat under the weight of the sort of musings you hear from dudes with too much time to kill in the record store. And while "Meddle: A Classic Album Under Review" also relies exclusively on talking heads at best offering personal opinion, analysis and insight, and at worst just plain speculating about stuff, the result is much more satisfying. Perhaps it is the tighter narrative or the higher quality of the archival footage.

But also the analysis seems significantly more pithy. The film devotes most of its first half to background about the band, and then gradually contextualizes the album within the Floyd continuum against milestones including "Set The Controls For The Heart of The Sun" and "Atom Heart Mother." There follows a reasoned discussion of whether Pink Floyd should be called a progressive rock band; the importance of that single processed piano note as a jumping off point for "Echoes." The filmmakers also use strong examples to make interesting points, including isolating the two dueling bass parts of "One Of These Days" to contrast the abilities of Waters and guitarist David Gilmour and showing live footage of the actual dog Seamus howling along with the (nice) pair as evidence of the silliness of the track. The DVD is likely too academic for casual music fans, but those with a strong affinity for the Floyd will get something out of watching it.

[Buy Pink Floyd -- Meddle: Classic Album Under Review from MVD here]
[Stream Meddle for free at Rhapsody here]

Pink Floyd: InterWeb | MySpace | YouTube | Flickr | Wikipedia

April 9, 2007

YouTube Rodeo: The Killer Bridge In "Coin-Operated Boy."

We don't follow The Dresden Dolls too closely, which is sort of ridiculous considering they're based in Boston, but we've heard all of the duo's records, including the 2003 live set A Is For Accident [our review is here]. The set introduced us to the band's quirky number "Coin-Operated Boy," a song that is remarkable for two reasons. First, singer and pianist Ms. Palmer and Mr. Viglione, the drummer, do an amazing approximation of a record skipping right before the bridge in the song. If memory serves, on A Is For Accident the skipping is a relatively straight 5/4 time signature. In the live performance we have posted above, the "skip" is even more nuanced (no surprise, since it is several years later) and we can't even count the time straight in our heads. It seems like it is heading toward 5/4 and then Viglione inserts a little roll and it comes off sounding like it is plus or minus a half a beat. It's wild. However, this not the most remarkable thing about the song. The most remarkable thing is the lyrics and their delivery in the self-referential, heart-grinding bridge. Check it out. Here's another live version. Viglione drums his ass off in this one. And there are about 200 more clips on YouTube here. Enjoy.

April 8, 2007

Review: Dinosaur Jr. | Beyond [MP3]

Dinosaur Jr. -- BeyondIf the title to this album were posed as a question, the plausible answers would be many: youthful egos; destructive personal conflict; pretention; expectations. The rejuvenated version of Dinosaur Jr., featuring its legendary original line-up from the 1980s, has been making news for a couple years -- now it is finally making records. Recorded primarily at guitarist and singer J Mascis's home studio in Amherst, Mass., Beyond is a powerful, raw set of tunes. Album opener "Almost Ready" offers a good proxy for a statement of purpose: a succinct, straight-ahead rocker that rides three swiftly cycled chords -- the song has no true B section, just a blink-and-you'll-miss-it bridge before the two-minute mark -- and a few blazing guitar solos for fewer than 200 seconds.

While Mascis found major label success in the '90s under the Dinosaur Jr. brand without founding bassist Lou Barlow, and he has a few solo sets under his belt this decade (one of them, More Light, being phenomenal), Beyond feels like a breath of fresh air. It sounds like a fan's fantasy, give or take the odd mystical and country gothic references that characterized the band's 1985 debut. Folks here and there have speculated about Mascis' resurgence being tied to his hiring new proactive management earlier this decade, but the energy on this record doesn't sound like anything that could have been spurred by something as mundane as business interests. Beyond is electrifying. Even Mascis' soloing sounds reinvigorated, especially on "We're Not Alone." At about two-and-a-half minutes into the tune the riffs begin to ecstatically, kaleidoscopically cascade from Mascis' hands. Jack Black's character in "School Of Rock" would deem it a "face melter." It is a highlight of a record long on great songs and short on anything that could be called filler. Beyond, indeed.

A note to folks out there who have been listening to the leaked version of the record: you haven't been listening to the final mixes (just as one frustrated commenter noted here in our item from two months ago). The songs on our official promo version of the record have numerous additional guitar licks and the sound is cleaner and more spatially separated, and the more we listen the more new things we hear. There's clearer percussion, more distinct bass and stormier guitars. Beyond will be released by Fat Possum May 1; you can pre-order the set here. In the meantime, if you haven't already been spinning it non-stop, here is the official promo MP3 from the record. The band hits the road May 10 for a good long tour of North America, and you can view all the tour dates at the band's MySpace shack here. Enjoy.

Dinosaur Jr. -- "Almost Ready" -- Beyond
[right click and save as]

Dinosaur Jr.: InterWeb | MySpace | YouTube | Flickr

April 5, 2007

Review: RunRunner | RunRunner [MP3]

RunRunnerIn a sense, Philadelphia power-pop trio RunRunner is what cross-Commonwealth neighbor GirlTalk would be if 1) Pittsburgh-based and mash-up mad GirlTalk confined itself to underground rock between 1979 and 1987 and 2) actually wrote music instead of pillaging the hottest riffs ready-made from rock classics. That's because RunRunner seems to exclusively write hot numbers, all of which reference best practices from early '80s rock while benefiting from sharp, contemporary production. As a result, there is a pleasant familiarity to every melody throughout RunRunner's tight, self-titled debut. The set was released in October but is only available via digital storefronts (including EMusic, Rhapsody and ITunes).

As you might expect given what we've jotted above, there are shades of the old and new on RunRunner. Opener "False Alarmed" carries a strong whiff of bygone power-pop standouts The Plimsouls (or, dare we say, a tougher Robert Hazard and The Heros?), while the chorus of "Minor Catastrophe" surprisingly recalls contemporary rockers The Jai Alai Savant's reggae-tinged punk [coincidentally, there's more on Jai Alai Savant below]. RunRunner's "Bad Timing" shines because of a soaring chorus anchored by a hint of Descendents-ish, beat-clobbering bass. We're not sure what RunRunner has planned next, but we expect whatever it is will raise the band's profile and give it greater currency outside the invisible shield that encircles Philadelphia at a 100-mile radius and all-too-often snares great indie rock bands (with several recent exceptions and quasi-exceptions). In the meantime, check out this MP3 below, used with permission of the band.

RunRunner -- "False Alarmed" -- RunRunner
[right click and save as]

[buy RunRunner from EMusic here; stream the whole thing at Rhapsody here]

RunRunner: InterWeb | MySpace | YouTube | Flickr

Free Range Music: The Jai Alai Savant's Flight Of The Bass Delegate

The Jai Alai Savant -- Flight Of The Bass DelegatePhilebrity here points us to a full album stream of the new, long-awaited full-length debut from dub-conscious indie punkers The Jai Alai Savant, which you can stream here. Do it -- it is a killer. And the hot tune "When I Grow Up" name-checks our old neck of the woods, the 215. Jai Alai Savant principal member Ralph Darden once rocked out in Philly punk act Franklin. His latest operation (currently a trio, as the "Major Taylor" listed at the JAS MySpace hizzy is Darden's nom de DJ) formed about five years ago and is based out of Chicago. Anyway, the new set is called Flight Of The Bass Delegate and it will be released next Tuesday on City Slang. Apparently GSL already released it stateside earlier this week -- if you are in Chicago tonight there is a release show at The Darkroom. A digital single, for the ecstatic shouter "White On White Crime" [YouTube], will be released April 23. On the 29th the band begins a two-week tour of the UK and Europe, even though it seems like Jai Alai Savant was just there a month ago. Here's a YouTube clip of them live in Amsterdam March 8.

The Jai Alai Savant -- Flight Of The Bass Delegate [album stream]

April 4, 2007

Show Us Yours #8: Okay Paddy

Okay Paddy at The BogWhen we finally pulled Okay Paddy's first full-length The Cactus Has A Point out of our pile of submissions 14 months ago, it knocked our socks off. We reviewed it here. You can imagine our surprise when we learned that the quartet was based in Northeast Pennsylvania, Scranton to be exact, a town we used to wave to from the highway a couple times a year when traveling for holidays. We didn't consider the city any sort of hotbed of rock until we became more familiar with the other releases on Prison Jazz, which put out Cactus. Anyway, when we heard that Okay Paddy was about to release a new EP produced by Nick Krill of Spinto Band, we thought we'd check in with the band to see where they do what they do and what else they have in the works. Guitarist John Parise humored our questions, and our exchange is printed below, along with some forthcoming tour dates and some MP3S to download.

1. Why do you use this space?

We practice at the bar Brian [Craig, Okay Paddy's drummer] owns called The Bog, located in beautiful downtown Scranton. The Bar features a stage and a good p.a. We're able to set up during the day and practice before the neons are turned on. 3/4ths of us work there.

2. Explain how an idiosyncracy or quirk of this space has affected a song.

An idiosyncrasy would be the pole located in the middle of the stage -- really annoying but as a load bearing beam we respect the work that it does.

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

Stale beer. [Shoulda seen that one coming. -- Ed.]

4. We hear a fair amount of Pavement and Weezer in your records. Say Rivers Cuomo and Stephen Malkmus are the two finalists on a reality show of your devising. What would the task be to determine the winner between the two, and who do you expect would prevail?

Something like a T-ball game in which everybody wins. We won't be watching the game.

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

A new EP in the spring [Where You Went, to be released on Prison Jazz], possibly a split 7" with The Sw!ms and shows, shows, shows.

04.13 -- Blues Street -- Scranton, PA
04.18 -- Roustabout! -- State College, PA
04.20 -- Johnny Brenda's -- Philadelphia, PA
05.26 -- Test Pattern -- Scranton, PA

Okay Paddy -- "Oo-Man, La-world" -- The Cactus Has A Point
Okay Paddy -- "Furrier" -- The Cactus Has A Point
[right click and save as]
[buy The Cactus Has A Point from Prison Jazz here]

Okay Paddy: InterWeb | MySpace | YouTube | Flickr

Read earlier Show Us Yours features:

#1: Shapes And Sizes | #2: Dirty On Purpose
#3: Relay | #4: Mobius Band
#5: Frightened Rabbit | #6: Assembly Now
#7: Meneguar

April 2, 2007

Today's Hotness: Haywood, Ulrich Schnauss, They Might Be Giants

Haywood>> Get out your Christmas, kids. You can actually now purchase Haywood's "final final" record As Long As There Is Track, I Will Not Go Back from the erstwhile band's MySpace mausoleum -- look for the "buy now" link in the right-hand column. Purchasing the album will set you back $9, but having heard it we can assure you that it is worth at least $12.99. Great value! Awesome indie rock! Wanna hear one of the new tracks? Below we've posted album opener "Far Rockaway." It turns everyday commuting around the boroughs into an anthem ("We.Must.Take.The.A.Train!") but gets in a dig at the same time ("tell me why can't I live my life without all of the things that people say?"). It's classic Haywood. Well, we remember talking with a couple of the lads about how "Come On Tell The Truth Now" from the quartet's prior try at a swan song was classic Haywood. What the hell, here's both songs, so you can have your lively Haywood and your sad Haywood all at once. Why not just make a day of it and take a spin through our small collection of pics of the band here, too.

Haywood -- "Far Rockaway" -- As Long As There Is Track, I Will Not Go Back
Haywood -- "Come On Tell The Truth Now" -- We Are Amateurs, You And I
[right click and save as]
[buy Haywood records from Self Starter Foundation and the band]

>> Billboard today reports here that electronic music impresario Ulrich Schnauss will release his third set Goodbye July 10 on Domino. The set took Mr. Schnauss two years to complete and he spent much of that time adding layers upon layers of sound, which led to big-time headaches during the mixing. "Some of these songs have about 100 tracks playing simultaneously, and I had a lot of trouble getting the balance right." Schnauss aims to build interest in Goodbye by releasing an EP to whet fans appetites; Quicksand Memory will feature "Medusa" from the forthcoming set, another track with Long-View bandmate Rob McVey and two remixes from Robin Guthrie (Cocteau Twins; Guthrie and Schnauss each contributed to the most recent Mahogany set Connectivity!). Here's hoping that at least one of the new tracks is as strong as "As If You've Never Been Away," which is our favorite U.S. jam.

>> BVegan points out here that the forthcoming new set from They Might Be Giants is produced by the Dust Brothers. That sounds pretty darn promising. Which reminds us: in 1990 the ocean levels were rising up because of a brand new record, Flood. Now it's just global warming. Crap. Anyway, the new TMBG may or may not be the band's 13th proper release and it is titled The Else.

>> Take four and watch stoner rock foursome Panthers slam through "Goblin City" during VBS.tv's Soundcheck At The Southpaw web series. It's a hot rocker. Here's the link.

>> Got $1,250 and change to spare? Some one is selling a used but apparently "near virgin" copy of Dinosaur Jr.'s self-titled debut with album art that pre-exists the band being forced to add the "Jr." to its name. Wish the guy -- it's gotta be a guy, right? -- had posted a photo. Check it out here.

April 1, 2007

That Also Was The Show That Was: Meneguar | Oxfam Cafe

Meneguar at Tufts' Oxfam CafeMeneguar's planned 2007 releases are going to be barnburners, if the Brooklyn quartet's unstoppable set Saturday night is any indication. Top-lining a bill that included progressive beard-core foursome They And Their Children and screamo crowd-pleasers Ampere, Meneguar reinforced with its performance our long-held belief that the band should be huge and should be playing to gigantic crowds. We felt lucky to be within jostling distance of bassist Justin Wertz and guitarist Jarvis Taveniere, and expect it will become an increasingly rare opportunity. There is little math or sleight-of-hand to Meneguar's music -- just clever and powerfully delivered indie rock that concocts a winning formula by blending the earnestness of hardcore with the artful noise of storied acts including Archers Of Loaf.

Meneguar opened the show with a dynamic and seemingly unscripted jam (during which the band's furry-faced lead guitarist broke and replaced a string on the fly) and then dove right in with two tracks that were new to us. There followed a rollicking take on "A Few Minutes An Hour" from the band's so-nice-it-was-released-twice short record I Was Born At Night. More new material comprised the bulk of the rest of the set, although the single "Buried A Flower" -- and we think its b-side -- was given an energetic workout and the band closed strong with an electrifying version of "House Of Cats." The tune was delivered extra jagged as Mr. Taveniere broke a string during the penultimate song and was forced to improvise an approximate tuning solution with his remaining strings.

So what else did we learn? Well, Meneguar isn't a tall bunch, as it appeared we were taller than the four members. Also, if you look closely at our pictures of bassist Justin Wertz you will note -- as we did, since he and Taveniere had their backs to us 90% of the night -- that he rocks size 29 jeans. These inane sentences are basically a set-up for us to point to a Flickr slide show of our pics from the gig -- here it is. Meneguar, as we've previously reported, will issue a full-length titled Strangers In Our House and two one-sided vinyl releases later this year. The punktet plans a European and UK tour for the fall, and we are hoping they will also find time to make it back to Boston.

Meneguar -- "House Of Cats" -- I Was Born At Night
Meneguar -- "The Temp" -- I Was Born At Night
[right click and save as]

[Buy I Was Born At Night and "Bury A Flower" single from Troubleman here]

Meneguar: InterWeb | MySpace | YouTube | GoogleVideo | Flickr

Related Coverage:

Review: Meneguar | I Was Born At Night (Reissue/Remaster)
Show Us Yours #7: Meneguar
YouTube Rodeo: Meneguar Unleashes "1,000 Actors"