July 30, 2007

750 Times The Same Song: It's All About The Lilys

Lilys[This is our 750th post. We're celebrating by fixating on one of our favorite bands, Kurt Heasley's long-running musical nebula known as Lilys. As we hold the band in such high esteem, we expect the Lilys' music is a subconscious yard stick we measure everything against. Weird but true. -- Ed.]

We've swapped emails with people lately about the Lilys' transcendent guitar bliss-out "Ginger" being used in the soundtrack to a recent car commercial. We certainly love hearing what is perhaps our favorite song of all time unexpectedly pop up on the TeeVee. Still, we dislike having it tied to the promotion of a luxury brand that the reductionist in us believes exists solely to enslave blah blah blah (incidentally, "Ginger" was also used to promote a popular branded fragrance in the mid-'90s). But we digress. Our point is, we were looking around for the car commercial to post when we learned that the Lilys' MySpace hacienda has been updated of late and is offering for free download the amazing tracks "The Hermit Crab" and "Dandy." The former is from the peerless 1995 record Eccsame The Photon Band, and the latter from perhaps the best EP ever released, 1994's A Brief History Of Amazing Letdowns. To save you the trip, we're posting the two tracks below. Both records were released on Spin-Art and to our knowledge both records are out of print. Fortunately, they are available at ITunes and Rhapsody (come on EMusic, pony up for the Spin-Art catalog -- especially the Small Factory stuff, which no one seems to have digitally).

Curiously, the Spin-Art Records web site seems to have disappeared; the label does maintain a MySpace dojo, but we think eschewing a real web site is an odd choice for such an established label (especially since they haven't logged into their page since April). Did the label shut down when that one fellow started TuneCore? No matter, what is important to know today is that ITunes has for sale the Lilys record The Lilys, which is the UK version of Precollections with three additional tracks recorded with producer Mike Musmanno. This record isn't available domestically, even though it appears Rainbow Quartz was involved with the release somehow, so unless you want to pay import prices, ITunes is your best choice for getting The Lilys. As far as an update on the band, the Lilys' MySpace suggests Mr. Heasley relocated to Florida at some point last year. There's no word about future recordings, although there is one live date listed: Nov. 23 in Somerset, England.

Lilys -- "Dandy" -- A Brief History Of Amazing Letdowns
Lilys -- "The Hermit Crab" -- Eccsame The Photon Band
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[buy Lilys records from ITunes here]

Lilys: InterWeb | MySpace | YouTube | Flickr

July 29, 2007

Review: Okay Paddy | Where You Went? [MP3]

Okay Paddy -- Where You Went?American television's popular adaptation of the British situation comedy "The Office" has improbably brought Scranton, Penn. to the attention of the couch-potato nation, but folks attuned to the indie rock zeitgeist have had a more pressing reason to take notice. Scranton's Prison Jazz label has released great records from acts including The A-Sides (now signed to Vagrant; set to release a sophomore set next month Sept. 18) and the brilliant quartet Okay Paddy. Okay Paddy's debut full-length The Cactus Has A Point was one of our eight favorites of 2006, and this follow-up is equally as satisfying. An EP is typically a way station between albums, but Where You Went? is more of an explanation point. There are some stylistic tweaks and the production of Spinto Band fellow Nick Krill adds more sonic depth and perhaps even a touch of the wacky (are those trombones at the close of "Dumbwaiter"?). But the revelatory tone of the EP renders irrelevant stuffy analysis of artistic development. The band continues to craft songs that tout the melodic strengths of Pavement and Weezer, and Where You Went? is a five-song, feel-good party record for the musically well-appointed.

It opens with "Dumbwaiter," a composition that giddily swings alongside twelve-string exhortation and arresting vocal harmonies. The mug-hoisting track seems destined to be the drinking song of the coming semester, and perhaps intentionally so -- it has been crafted by a band that practices in a bar owned by one of the principals [read our Show Us Yours #8 for details]. The lackadaisical second number "Trounce Him" is a solid strummer with its own bits of glory, including the protracted delivery of the words "Walla Walla" and the unexpected violin and sort-of-expected mandolin. The almost absurdly slack closing track "Open It Up" rocks harder than the rest, riding an "All Along The Watch Tower" vamp in the verse and just hollering through the choruses. That said, it lacks some of the color and intricacy found elsewhere. Still, Where You Went? is more than 80% indispensable, and we believe it can't be too long before Okay Paddy follows former label mates The A-Sides to wider acclaim. Prison Jazz issued Where You Went? last month on no specific date. Folks just turning on to Okay Paddy should head over to the band's Internet Home Page linked below, where you can stream the aforementioned The Cactus Has A Point [review here]. Here's an MP3 of "Open It Up."

Okay Paddy -- "Open It Up" -- Where You Went?
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[buy Where You Went? from Prison Jazz right here]

Okay Paddy: InterWeb | MySpace | YouTube | Flickr

July 28, 2007

That Was The Show That Was: The Beatings | TT The Bear's

The Beatings, TT The Bears Place, July 26, 2007With not a small amount of oddly felt civic pride, we finally saw -- after 18 months of digging the band -- Boston indie rockers The Beatings ply their craft at TT The Bear's Thursday night. The quartet roared through a 10-song set that for us fondly recalled seeing the mighty Superchunk touring On The Mouth in 1993. We're sure that The Beatings long ago tired of Superchunk comparisons, as the groups invite overly simplistic comparison because they share the sort-of classic '90s indie composition of twin guitarists and a woman on bass.

We don't use the 'Chunk comparison to dumb down what we saw Thursday, however, but rather as a shorthand to convey the pogoing intensity, slashing feedback and joy of performing we saw. We suppose if the band wasn't a quartet we could make similar comparisons to Husker Du or the recently re-awesome-ified Mission Of Burma. The larger point to be made is The Beatings trade in rough-hewn and powerfully delivered rock tunes. The odd sense of civic pride? We don't know... The Beatings were so good, we felt glad that they are from Boston. We suppose we should have actually been feeling stupid, since it took us so long to turn on to the band, considering they've been releasing records for almost as long we we've lived in The Hub. But we digress...

The foursome blasted through a career-spanning set (set list below, transcribed from a not-quite-legible sheet guitarist Tony Skalicky worked from, so we're not certain of all the titles). One highlight among many was a new, dare-we-say poppier number that the band had only practiced twice called "Cam New" (as in, Cameron's new song). It's upbeat, has a melodic bass line and is fairly straightforward, and we're hopeful that it will appear on the next Beatings record. Another brighter bright spot was the concise scorcher "CoIntelPro," from 2006's excellent long player Holding On To Hand Grenades. That record, incidentally, was humorously plugged by bassist Erin Dalbec in a lull during the set, who then teased herself for sounding like Kasey Kasem. We're linking to a pair of songs below that The Beatings played Thursday. And here is a Flickr set of photos we shot during the show. Keep your eyes out for a new full-length from the band by the end of the year, as well as a new EP from Beatings guitarist ER's side project of the same name we first mentioned here last month.

The Beatings -- "CoIntelPro" -- Live On WBCN Boston
The Beatings -- "Twins" -- Italiano
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[buy Beatings recordings from Midriff Records here]

Summer (?)
Scorched Earth Policy
Shark Attacks Are On The Rise
Cam New
Burn Down The Jungle
A Responsible Person

The Beatings: InterWeb | MySpace | YouTube | Flickr

July 26, 2007

Today's Hotness: A-Sides, Kevin Drew, Armalite

The A-Sides>> Word on the street, or at the least at the bottom of this blog post, is that Philadelphia indie rock phenoms The A-Sides will tour extensively in October. Vagrant will issue the band's sophomore set Silver Storms Aug. 28. Well, actually, Spin.com today says here that the set will now be issued Sept. 18, as does the band's web dojo; not so much their Virb page. Things change. Incidentally, Spin.com, which named The A-Sides their band of the day today, thinks the band sounds like The Shins and Modest Mouse. Uh, what? Either way, make sure to hit that link to Spin.com supra and grab the MP3 for the newish track "Diamonds." Speaking of The A-Sides, we'd never seen this live footage of the band playing "Cinematic" last January at Philadelphia's 700 Bar. The A-Sides are in Boston at the Middle East Aug. 9. We'll be there.

>> This new video for Broken Social Scenemeister Kevin Drew's "Backed Out On The..." that features J., Murph and Lou from Dinosaur Jr. is getting a huge !!hell yeah!! from us (note the crazy exclamation points for added jazz). Pitchfork has the video posted right here. Drew releases his inelegantly titled solo set Broken Social Scene Presents: Kevin Drew, "Spirit If..." Sept. 18 on Arts & Crafts.

>> Pop-punk supergroup Armalite, which features Atom Goren of Atom And His Package and a bunch of other famous-type Jersey hardcore kids, doesn't want you to forget that they are playing a rare live show Aug. 10. at the First Unitarian Church in Philadelphia. So don't. Armalite's self-titled debut was one of our favorite records of 2006; we had occasion to dine with Mr. Goren in May and he said there are currently no plans for a second Armalite set, as the guys are all busy with other things. So this show is as good as you're gonna get. Someone please take video. And here are some MP3s:

Armalite -- "Entitled" -- Armalite
Armalite -- "I Am A Pancreas (I Seek To Understand Me...)" -- Armalite
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[buy Armalite from No Idea right here]

>> Merge Blog has just posted here two acoustic cuts from Swede pop sensations Shout Out Louds. One of the cuts is the infectious bouncer "Tonight I Have Leave It," which we wrote about here a couple weeks back. The other is called "Impossible." Both songs were part of a radio session recorded by LA-based commercial rock station Indie 103. We can't get either of the files to open, but perhaps if you check back later the Merge web gremlins will figure out what the problem is.

>> Fun fact from a recent Brian Baker interview that Pun Canoes links to here: apparently DC hardcore legends Minor Threat have sold between 800,000 records and a million records over the last quarter century or so, according to Mr. Baker's estimate. Not too shabby for guys who have never once cowtowed to The Man. We salute you, Minor Threat.

>> Believe it or not, we are actually going to get out and finally see The Beatings tonight, speaking of our favorite records of 2006. We'll have a full report over the weekend.

July 24, 2007

Today's Hotness: Eddyfink, Takashi Murakami, Meneguar

Eddyfink>> [PHOTO CREDIT] The brilliant Keep Hope Inside podcast turned us on to this band Eddyfink Monday. So we went over to their MySpace page Monday. On Monday the British quartet posted a message to its MySpace saying it had broken up. Talk about missing the party... Anyway, the band this spring had submitted a song for a contest in the UK for a mobile phone service that answers questions that you text in, or something, and Eddyfink's submission was chosen as one of the ten best. And you know what, the song is great. It's called "Will I Get Through The Day Without Being Kicked In The Knickers?" and you can download it for free right here along with the tracks of the other finalists. We'll save you the trouble of clicking over and just re-post the Eddyfink track below. It is even a bit better than the tracks on the only other proper release we could find for the band, the Immuno EP available via ITunes.

Eddyfink -- "Will I Get Through The Day Without Being Kicked In The Knickers?" -- AQA 63336 Greatest Questions
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>> We aren't big into visual art, but one of the guys we dig on heavily is Takashi Murakami, whose solo show we saw at Boston's MFA in 2001. The New York Times refers to him as "Japan's answer to Andy Warhol," which we can sort of understand, with some reservations (including precisely which culture pioneered factory-type art production, which culture's art first dealt in repetition of images, but we digress...). We expect not many American mainstream music fans knew of Mr. Murakami before today. But that number will grow exponentially with the release of the next Kanye West album, apparently, as Murakami created its distinctive sleeve design. You can have a look at it over here at The Gum In Stereo. For a look at more of Murakami's work, hit this link; Wired printed a very good feature about him several years ago that is still online here. We're heavy into the Mr. D.O.B (and particularly the amazingly titled print series he is featured in, "And Then, And Then And Then And Then And Then."), and we're heavy into Murakami's theory of the "Superflat," which is sort of amazing since we have zero familiarity with manga (don't really know where to begin; studied pre-modern woodblock prints in undergrad). But that's probably enough art talk for one day. Needless to say, the crass commercialism of Kanye West's music is nicely complemented by Murakami's ideas of art as commodity.

>> We don't know if we've actually reported the release date for the forthcoming Meneguar record Strangers In Our House. A recent posting at the band's web site says the set will be on shelves in early October, which we suppose means either Oct. 2 or Oct. 9. And which we suppose means the record will arrive just in time to be ignored on all the critics' year-end lists. No matter. A message at Troubleman Unlimited's site posted last week says that Strangers In Our House is going to be its next project after a short summer hiatus. We can't wait to hear it.

July 23, 2007

NotYouTube Rodeo: Dinosaur Jr. Live At Amoeba Music

Indie legends Dinosaur Jr. played an in-store May 15 at the San Francisco outlet of the renowned retailer Amoeba Music, and we learned today via the FreakScene message boards that two video clips are available to stream. So here is the newish mellow strummer "This Is All I Came To Do" and the sludgy, powergoth classic "Gargoyle." The first cut is from the band's recent comeback triumph Beyond, which we reviewed here. The latter tune is from the band's 1985 debut. Note the close-ups of the Mascis-designed Nike shoes in the clip for "Gargoyle." Dinosaur Jr. is touring the world through the end of the summer, and has been on the road for some time already; full dates for shows in Europe and the Far East are posted here. The band returns to the states in time to appear on Conan O'Brien's late night gum-flapper Sept. 3.

Incidentally, if you click around through the menus at the Amoeba site you'll find that there are quite a few videos available, including a pretty hot montage of interview and live footage with TV On The Radio that is well worth watching here.

July 22, 2007

Show Us Yours #9: Charmparticles

Charmparticles practice space, Portland, Oregon[After a several-month hiatus, our Show Us Yours feature returns. Links to prior episodes are at the bottom of the piece. -- Ed.]

When we were coming of age, Portland, Oregon was known to us (incorrectly, as it turns out -- thanks for the comment, Potatoes! Sorry Mr. Tate, et al.) as the home of mind-incriminating rockers Queensryche. But in the last decade or so -- as the musical underground clawed its way toward the mainstream, and as the mainstream plummeted toward the offensive mediocrity of the lowest common denominator (babes x beer = party) -- indie bands in Portland have distinguished themselves. Nowadays Decemberists, Dandy Warhols and Quasi are household names among most indie fans. The Portland scene supports a diversity of styles, and its premiere dream pop band may very well be Charmparticles.

Currently a trio that fuses the best parts of acts like Starflyer 59 and The Cranberries into a single, focused package while remaining loyal to its shoegazing roots, Charmparticles has just self-released its slightly foreboding ("Rarest Numbers," "Battersea"), sometimes aggressive ("Get Your Complex On") sophomore set, Alive In The Hot Spell. This spring we discovered the five-year old band while streaming music via Pandora. Entranced by the sounds of the bending guitar chords on one of its earlier tunes, we checked in with bassist and vocalist Pamela Rooney to see where the band does what it does for this edition of our voyeuristic, practice-space fixated feature Show Us Yours. What we learned is that cement can't protect you from either the heat or the cold; that Charmparticles' song writing has changed over time; and that angel-voiced Rooney doesn't believe in ghosts.

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

We had another space in the same building that was a small and lightless box. When this one came up for rent we grabbed it. It's got decent views of downtown and windows that open. Very important in the summer, very crappy in the winter.

2. Explain how an idiosyncrasy or quirk of this space or a former practice space has affected a song, or even your overall sound.

The whole building is the former headquarters of the Oregon Portland Cement Company. It's an old building and made entirely of (you guessed it) cement. It's blazing in the summer and frozen in the winter, so we've spent many nights either bathed in our own sweat or exhaling streams of steam. Summer and winter practices are often made as short and productive as possible for this reason. There's a rumor that the place houses plenty of ghosts of workers who died with lungs full of concrete dust. I'm not so much one that goes for ghosty stuff, but it's a creepy building and we've freaked ourself out a couple of times when loading our equipment in after a show. Eerie. Creepy.

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

Dust and beer. It's dusty and there are plenty of empty beer cans.

4. It's been three years since your last EP, and it was two years between The Scenic EP and Sit Down For Staying. Despite the pauses between releases, many of the band's stylistic elements have remained constant. What are the biggest changes between the band that wrote that first EP and the band that wrote Alive In The Hot Spell?

The easiest changes to identify are those of line-up. There were four of us and a different drummer for The Scenic EP, then a new drummer for Sit Down For Staying, and then we lost a guitarist for Alive In The Hot Spell. The songwriting process was completely restructured for this last record, and I think in the years between Scenic and AITHS, we've just found ourselves a little more, both musically and personally. We're a little more focused and a little more easygoing now than we have been, and when we finally took some pressure off of ourselves, songs started rolling in. BUT, we still love reverb and delay, so those elements will probably make us sound sonically like us for a time to come.

5. We discovered your band via the Internet radio service Pandora. With the threat of a new royalty scheme being enacted and destroying Internet radio as we've known it, we were wondering if you have any thoughts on how its potential demise will affect Charmparticles?

Yes, I have plenty of them. I feel pretty certain that Pandora and SomaFM (and plenty of other stations) have broadcast our music to a broader audience than we could have ever hoped to with day jobs. I get a few emails a week from people that have heard us on Pandora or Soma. I don't mean to state the obvious, but it can stand the emphasis: The internet as a free and available communication medium has been a boon to so many independent musicians/writers/artists (and independent music in general) that watching it become yet another outlet available to only those with abundant resources is utterly heartbreaking. I really did think it would stay good.

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

We'll be having a little tour here, a little songwriting there (once the space cools down!). Generally flying by the seats of our pants until we settle down long enough to record again.


Charmparticles' Alive In The Hot Spell was released June 29. You can buy it at CDBaby right here, or stream cuts at the band's Virb page here or MySpace dojo linked below. Below that are listings for three shows the band has booked for next month.

Charmparticles: InterWeb | MySpace | YouTube | Flickr

08/04 -- Portland, OR -- Doug Fir Lounge
08/17 -- Seattle, Washington -- Skylark
08/18 -- Portland, OR -- Someday Lounge

Previous Show Us Yours episodes:
Shapes And Sizes | Dirty On Purpose | Relay | Mobius Band | Frightened Rabbit | Assembly Now | Meneguar | Okay Paddy

July 19, 2007

Review: Bad Brains | Build A Nation [MP3]

As "American Hardcore" author Steven Blush stated in his book, "East Coast hardcore begins with Bad Brains." For us, objectively situating the hardcore progenitors' latest comeback record within the continuum of their work is problematic. This is primarily because we possess only passing knowledge of the legendary quartet's spotty '90s output, and the bulk of our affinity for the band is based on the self-titled set, the demo collection Black Dots, and some cuts from the amazingly titled I Against I that made it on to one of the best mix tapes we ever received. So... we can't tell you for a fact that the new set Build A Nation is Bad Brains' best record in 20 years (and might be their most balanced ever, save for perhaps the "Pay To Cum" single, which was backed with the outstanding reggae cut "Stay Close To Me"), but that's our belief. Megaforce Records released Build A Nation June 26.

The new set features visceral and largely glossless production courtesy of Beastie Boys' Adam Yauch. Bad Brains sets the tone right from the opening, with the classic two-chord bludgeoning of "Give Thanks." And the relentless, 104-second title track -- which has three words of lyrics -- slams with an energy that is hard to believe, considering the age of the players involved. And then "Let There Be Angels (Just Like You)" increases that intensity even more. That said, Build A Nation also thrives on variety, as several dubby reggae cuts are also prominently featured. "Roll On" wafts out of headphones with fat bass notes and pulsing organ and guitar lines. H.R. is even more inscrutable than ever; on "Natty Dreadlocks" he name-drops Soul Brains, starts in with something about "rub-a-dub," and, well, we've already lost him. The lyrics are more transparent are when religious themes are the focus. They don't get more obvious than the half blistering thrasher, half spiritual chant "Give Thanks And Praises," an MP3 of which we've posted below.

Also of note is this interview the band did with Spinner's The DL web program, which tantalizes with some live footage from one of the band's recent, curious performances on a cruise ship. Definitely worth watching, although we are disappointed there wasn't more live footage -- the little bit that is there is heavy. The band currently has only two more shows booked in support of Build A Nation; check out the dates here.

Bad Brains -- "Give Thanks And Praises" -- Build A Nation
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[buy Build A Nation from Newbury Comics here]

Bad Brains: InterWeb | MySpace | YouTube | Flickr

All The Dreams You Gave Up On, Other Things You Might Have Done

The Mendoza Line -- Live at Lizard Lounge in Cambridge, Massachusetts>> Word on the street -- well, in our email -- is that all of the Mendoza Line tour dates we reported about here last week are canceled, despite the fact the dates are still posted on Misra's web site. The TT The Bear's date in late August we've been looking forward to for a while has been excised from TT's web site. And that's all we're going to say about that. The Mendoza Line releases its final record, 30 Year Low, on Glurp Aug. 21. Incidentally, tonight's headline is from our favorite Mendoza Line song, 2000's "I Hope That You Remember To Forget." You can stream the track on Rhapsody here, but you should really just buy the record its from, We're All In This Alone, from Newbury Comics here. In our opinion it is the best Mendoza Line record.

>> Brit post-rockers 65DaysOfStatic's show in Boston last night didn't go off, and the band will miss others due to problems obtaining visas for the U.S. tour. Drowned In Sound reports here that shows in Washington, D.C. and Brooklyn are also in jeopardy, but the quartet hopes to be in the United States in time to pick up the trail at Richmond, Virginia's Alley Katz Saturday. Full tour dates are posted at the band's MySpace casa here. We posted MP3s and a stream of 65DaysOfStatic's most recent album here last week. Yesterday we bought overly expensive tickets to see the band open for The Cure at Boston's Agganis Arena in September.

>> This item isn't completely aligned with tonight's theme of cancellations, but we were tickled to read at Stereogum that our favorite nightly news broadcaster, NBC's Brian Williams, is a bit of an indie rocker and has opinions on the work of musical luminaries including Interpol, Feist and Cat Power. Read the Stereogum item here. Getting back to the theme, maybe somewhere is BW's past he had to give up on his dream. Of ROCKING OUT. Woahhhh.

July 17, 2007

Things To Look At With That There Computer Of Yours

Michael and Andy of Silkworm>> The most intense thing you'll see today is Tim and Andy of Silkworm's performance from last fall's Touch + Go 25th Anniversary Weekend. The storied label just posted the video a few days ago, on the second anniversary of the tragic manslaughter of Silkworm drummer Michael Dahlquist. Here's the link to the video. Hat tip to the "Couldn't You Wait" documentary's MySpace hizzong.

>> OMG J MaSCIS RIDES A BIKE!!!!111 In Australia. And has encounters with cute little fury things. Serious.

July 16, 2007

Big Day Coming: Pinback, Young Marble Giants, Shout Out Louds

>> Heard that new Pinback single? It's an uptempo rocker. Here's the stream. You can also buy the single from Touch And Go's online store. The track will be included on Pinback's forthcoming full-length Autumn Of The Seraphs, which is scheduled for release Sept. 11. The duo is planning a tour to begin that month.

>> Also coming Sept. 11 is the domestic release of the reissue of post-punk notables Young Marble Giants' only proper album Collossal Youth. The reissue contains the British trio's singles as well, and as such is titled 'Colossal Youth' & Collected Works. Limited editions of the reissue contain a third CD of 1980 Peel Sessions, making the set a complete collection of the band's recordings. If you're not excited yet, check out the e-card being promoted by Domino UK here. Awesome.

>> We don't know why, but we liked this new Shout Out Louds tune a little when we got the advance of the Tonight I Have To Leave It EP, but after we watched the video we started to like it a lot. Doesn't make much sense, but there you go. Maybe its because there's something about singer Adam Olenius and the video's random nautical theme that reminds us of Jason Schwartzman's Max Fischer character in "Rushmore." Check out the video below. The Swedish quintet releases its sophomore album and Merge debut Our Ill Wills on, you guessed it, Sept. 11. The Shout Out Louds are currently in the U.S. for a short series of dates on the east and west coasts; check out the band's tour dates here. Since you read all of that, how about an MP3 of "Tonight I Have To Leave It"?

Shout Out Louds -- "Tonight I Have To Leave It" -- Tonight I Have To Leave It EP
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July 15, 2007

Today's Hotness: Helms, Interpol, Archers of Loaf

Helms live photo courtesy of Brad Searles[PHOTO CREDIT: Brad Searles] >> We were intent on seeing Friday night's Callum Robbins benefit without writing about it. Sometimes we just like to go to shows without constantly considering "well, how are we going to describe that?" But, as usual, we feel compelled to discuss the show, held at Somerville, Mass.'s P.A.'s Lounge and arranged by former Karate band leader Geoff Farina. The bill had Drew O'Doherty opening, Mr. Farina and indie rock journeyman Chris Brokaw supporting as a duo (with a record of interpretations of folk and blues classics on the way), angular rock luminaries Helms supporting and noise provocateurs Neptune top-lining. As we've seen Neptune a couple times [one, two] previously, we ducked out before they began. But we were especially impressed with Mr. O'Doherty and Helms. The former is a very compelling singer-songwriter with an effortless baritone not dissimilar to that of Richard Buckner. He had been an unknown quantity to us before Friday evening despite some glowing (and, it turns out, well-deserved) praise coming from The 'Nac.

Helms we've been a fan of since the release of 2002's McCarthy, which we reviewed here for Junkmedia. Friday afternoon we'd gotten a tip that Helms guitarist Sean McCarthy had broken his arm, so we were fearful the band might not play and another chance to see them would elude us. But, not unlike when we saw Neptune open for Mission Of Burma, Mr. McCarthy showed up (we heard it was actually a broken collar bone at the show, and not a broken arm, but still), presumably played through considerable discomfort, and kicked a lot of ass along with bassist/wife (we think) Tina and drummer/brother Dan. Helms was an unstoppable force Friday night, humorous between songs but driving and hypnotic when playing. There's no excuse why we've never seen them all these years, but you can bet we will see them again. And we're buying their latest record, 2006's Secret Doors on History Major Records, as soon as we finish writing this. The band is offering the excellent track "It Takes Skin To Win" as a download at its MySpace wigwam here, and it is one of our favorites, so we'll offer it, too, even though we already did about 11 months ago here. What can we say, we can't get enough. Speaking of digital audio, Mr. 'Nac recorded both nights of the Callum benefits and we expect you will have the opportunity to hear them sometime pretty soon over there.

Helms -- "It Takes Skin To Win" -- McCarthy
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[follow the links at the Helms web site to buy their music]

And because we had joked with Mr. 'Nac prior to the show that we'd donate an extra $10 if Farina played the old Karate classic "Today Or Tomorrow" from 1997's In Place Of Real Insight, here's that track, too.

Karate -- "Today Or Tomorrow" -- In Place Of Real Insight
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[buy Karate records from Newbury Comics here]

>> We finally made it to Newbury Comics Thursday for some record shopping. You are reading the words of the man who received the last Interpol/Newbury Comics co-branded pint glass given away as a promo with the sale of the new Our Love To Admire. We also received with our purchase of Interpol's major label debut a vinyl single for "The Heinrich Maneuver" backed with an instrumental version of the album track "Mammoth." And it was by inspecting the vinyl single that we learned that the latest Interpol set was produced with Rich Costey, who around these parts is best known for producing the Lilys' peerless third record Eccsame The Photon Band. Interesting.

>> Other notes from our shopping trip. We had previously stated that the new They Might Be Giants record The Else was produced by Jon Brion. It was actually produced by The Chemical Dust Brothers [DOH!]; we regret the DOUBLE error. We don't know how we got that into our heads. Oh well. We listened to the record and it falls a little flat in our opinion. Interestingly enough, the set comes with a bonus disc that we enjoy more. It's titled Cast Your Pod To The Wind and it's got a bit more quirk, the compositions seem a little brighter and sharper and have a bit more of the duo's characteristic humor. So there you go.

>> Hey, did you know that Last.fm offers on-demand streams of some of the Archers Of Loaf's catalog, including the vinyl singles? Not only that, but also the social networking site offers downloads of a number of Archers tracks, including "Step Into The Light" and "Harnessed In Slums," the first two cuts of the excellent 1995, Bob Weston-recorded masterwork Vee Vee. And certainly if you've never heard "Web In Front" and "Wrong" from the band's debut full length, Last.fm's got free downloads of those, too. "Web In Front" might be the quintessential '90s indie rock track.

>> A couple odd requests: anybody have an MP3 of Lint's one-sided 7" "Fifth Floor," released on Plumb Records in 1996 or so? For those of you who don't recall it, there is more information here, including this description: "Lint is a "supergroup" of sorts. Members of The Swirlies, Spore, Milkmoney, Victory At Sea, SK-70, Landfill, AM Stereo, Grace Budd and more get together to play music unlike anything else they do... every song features a different singer and somewhat different sound." We're also hoping someone has ripped an old 7" by a band called Retriever for the song "Q-Tip." Get in touch if you've got the songs handy. It's been years since we heard them, and we've lost the cassette we recorded them to in college.

July 12, 2007

We'll Take 'Bands Whose Names Start With An M' For $1000, Alex.

The Mobius Band>> Curious... Misra Records sent a MySpace bulletin earlier today with tour dates for all of its acts. And for some reason those Mobius Band tour dates we posted here were on there, too. Mobius Band is also now listed on Misra's tour dates page. We wonder why that could be? Anyway, one thing we forgot to add to our Mobius Band item from the other day was that the band was selected to take part in Stereogum's already acclaimed OK Computer covers project OK X. The trio covered "Subterannean Homesick Alien" and you can download it, and the rest of the covers, right here. [EDIT: Wow, there's actually some ungood stuff on this comp. Definitely check out the Mobius Band, Doveman and Twilight Sad cuts for sure, though].

>> Speaking of Misra tour dates, the venerable label has confirmed more gigs for flagship act The Mendoza Line. We just saw the latest incarnation of the band play at Cambridge's Lizard Lounge in late May and they were great, so we are looking forward to that show at T.T.'s, which occurs one week before the band releases what its web site is calling its "final release," the mini-album 30 Year Low. We reviewed the Lizard Lounge show here. In other Mendoza Line news, Chromewaves here alerted us to a rare update of the Mendoza Line Internet Home Page, which is featuring a few downloads from 30 Year Low, including the excellent title track (which is, incidentally, a bit reminiscent of the band's earlier track "The Triple Bill Of Shame"). Check it out. We'll be posting a review of the record before it streets next month.

The Mendoza Line -- "30 Year Low" -- 30 Year Low
[right click and save as]
[pre-order 30 Year Low from Glurp right here eventually]

08/01 -- Washington DC -- The Black Cat
08/02 -- Knoxville TN -- The Pilot Light
08/05 -- Atlanta GA -- The Earl
08/08 -- Austin TX -- Emo's
08/09 -- San Antonio TX -- Casbeer's
08/13 -- Chicago IL -- Schuba's
08/18 -- Buffalo NY -- Mohawk Place
08/24 -- Cambridge MA -- TT The Bear's

July 11, 2007

Review: Up Up Down Down Left Right Left Right B A Start | Worst...

UUDDLRLRBAS -- Worst Band Name EverNew Jersey's finest angular pop band returns with a full-length tour de force long on brains and hooks and as lean as anything that notably tight-riffed rock act Spoon has issued. And here again we find, as always, small anthems -- songs that wave their flag vigorously but refuse to show off with extraneous verses and choruses when one of each, at most two, will do. Earlier Up Up Down Down Left Right Left Right B A Start tunes such as the 86-second masterpiece"Please Come To Me" [video] from Perris, CA have crescendoes that explode like a tray of wine glasses striking the floor; the fist-pumping 2001 cover of Straight To The Point's "Straight To The Point" borders on screamo. In contrast, the exquisitely produced and hilariously titled collection Worst Band Name Ever features ten tracks that further the band's trend toward a gentler sound. Acoustic guitars play primary roles in the characteristically wistful "Gas Station Hair" and the lighter-than-air "I Am The Island." Piano steps to the fore in the nostalgia-drenched (again, characteristically) "Christmas Eve 1993."

Even so, the record -- UUDDLRLRBAS's second full-length and eighth release, depending on what and how you count -- is not an entirely softer affair. The denouement of "Am I A Cricket?" desperately slams as songwriter and singer Steve Poponi professes "I swore there'd be no complications / but part of my plan was to not have a plan." The song's slithering electric guitars plunge into silence at the far side of its 3:25 seconds, a track length that is several lifetimes in the microscopic world of Mr. Poponi's amazing songcraft, which continues to be perpetually, but not unpleasantly, trapped in a bygone suburban life fraught with relationship trials. "Boise" has a hollered chorus with chugging distorted guitars. Also locked in high gear is "128 Cayuga," a series of melodic spasms pilled-up on snare drums and guitars that chime, pulse and then inexorably chime again. Worst band name ever? Does it matter if your band is among the best American indie rock bands currently working?

We're posting a couple MP3s below (the same we posted right before we went on vacation last month -- consider this your second chance). In addition, the band has several increasingly rare live performances slated for later this month. Sadly, none are in Boston, but we hold out hope they will book more dates; the current dates are below.

UUDDLRLRBAS -- "I'll Thank You Later" -- Worst Band Name Ever [video]
UUDDLRLRBAS -- "The Red Loop" -- Worst Band Name Ever
[right click and save as]
[buy Worst Band Name Ever directly from the band right here]

Up Up Down Down Left Right Left Right B A Start: InterWeb | MySpace | YouTube | Flickr

07.14 -- Studio Luloo -- Oaklyn, NJ
07.15 -- Siren Records -- Doylestown, PA
07.21 -- Absinthe -- Hamilton, ON
07.22 -- S.C.E.N.E. Fest -- St. Catharines, Ontario

July 10, 2007

Today's Hotness: Mobius Band, 65DaysOfStatic, J. Church

Peter Sax of The Mobius Band>> Cyborg rockers Mobius Band disclosed today its sophomore set will be titled Heaven and it will be released this fall (and it will hopefully include a cover of the Bryan Adams power ballad of the same name we used to slow dance to at boy-girl parties in junior high). After releasing several EPs, Mobius Band issued its debut full-length The Loving Sounds Of Static on Ghostly International in 2005. The band made no mention of who will be releasing the forthcoming record, but we've heard some things... Anyway, the trio produced Heaven themselves over the course of 18 months. Mobius Band will play new material at two upcoming gigs, the first at Northampton, Mass.'s The Elevens club Sunday night, and then the second a free show at Hiro Ballroom in New York next Thursday. A fall tour is in the works, during which time the lads will also play a festival in Colorado with a bunch of famous people. We saw Mobius Band for the umpteenth time last September and reviewed the show here.

>> The news that glitched-out post-rockers 65DaysOfStatic will be opening for fellow Brits and alt.rock legends The Cure on a fall tour prompted us to revisit the stream of The Destruction Of Small Ideas, 65DaysOfStatic's third record which was released earlier this year. The band's churning mix of instrumental epics and aggressive electronic textures makes for a very exciting listen, but the overarching thought we are left with each time we stream the set is this: are these guys going to completely upstage The Cure? We guess we'll just have to see. Lest you think Robert Smith is just now, dare we say, jumping on post-rock's train, the Cure band leader noted his love of Scottish dynamos Mogwai more than once in the excellent Cure biography "Never Enough: The Story of The Cure" which we read last year mostly during a day of jury duty. Anyway, here is a stream of the entire 65DaysOfStatic record, and here are some MP3s for you to carry around in your digital player of choice. Finally, 65DaysOfStatic kick off a co-headlining tour of the U.S. that precedes the tour opening for The Cure next week right here in Ye Olde Boston. You can see the full tour dates at the band's MySpace dojo right here.

65DaysOfStatic -- "When We Were Younger & Better" -- The Destruction Of Small Ideas
65DaysOfStatic -- "Don't Go Down To Sorrow" -- The Destruction Of Small Ideas
[right click and save as]
[buy The Destruction Of Small Ideas from Monotreme right here]

>> Brooklyn-based nu-gaze quartet Dirty On Purpose have a series of live dates coming up that we've been looking at in our inbox for quite a while. Here they are. No Boston date, but we're sure we'll see them around these parts again sooner or later.

7/15 -- Maxwell's -- Hoboken, NJ
7/16 -- Johnny Brenda's -- Philadelphia, PA
7/17 -- Black Cat -- Washington, DC
7/18 -- Blend -- Chapel Hill, NC
7/20 -- Wexner Center for the Arts -- Columbus, OH
7/21 -- Uncle Fester's -- Bloomington, IN

>> This was news to us when we got the email from No Idea mail order: a compilation benefitting J. Church mastermind Lance Hahn, who is besieged by extensive and life-threatening health issues and has no health insurance, has been put together by five labels. The set, called Let's Do It For Lance, features about 30 bands covering J. Church (and Cringer) pop-punk classics including "Tide Of Fate" and "My Favorite Place." More information here. J. Church's most recent set The Horror Of Life was released by No Idea last year.

>> Word from people who know is that Philadelphia power-poppers Trolleyvox's next set will be a double album. So there. The band released The Trolleyvox Present The Karaoke Meltdowns last year, and we reviewed it here.

July 9, 2007

Today's Hotness: Spoon, Fugazi, Christie Front Drive

Spoon>> Have you been saving your shekels (or Koomzles) for the big new release day tomorrow? We'll likely step out for the new Interpol set, hoping that Newbury Comics is offering it at a good discount. In our estimation, however, the biggest release is the new Spoon set, Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga, which we've been listening to daily since the promo arrived. A truly superlative effort, wall-to-wall, song for song, with typically tight, deconstructed pop songs and really engaging production. Our pre-order arrived Saturday. It was packaged with the bonus disc Get Nice, which we can report is almost as forgettable as Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga is unforgettable (sorry guys). It's certainly an interesting listen, but the only track we imagine we'll be returning to is the demo version of "You Got Yr. Cherry Bomb." Anyway, as far as other new releases, we imagine we'll grab the new Buffalo Tom after reading a lot of good things, and maybe the new They Might Be Giants because it was produced by Jon Brion and is supposedly a bit of a rock record. And that'll be that.

Spoon -- Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga [album stream]

>> Pre-orders are now being taken for Glen Friedman's very promising book of Fugazi photos titled "Keep Your Eyes Open." The hardcover streets Sept. 3, costs $30 and includes about 200 images spread across 112 pages. Perhaps equally as exciting is noted raconteur and former Nation Of Ulysses and Make Up fronter Ian Svenonious has penned a 6,000-word essay included in the book. There's more info here.

>> Although the news broke last week, we feel it is worth noting that superlative second-wave emo giants Christie Front Drive will reunite for a single, all-ages performance Sept. 1 at DenverFest III. Needless to say, kids on the message boards are going nuts, and prepping for long drives. The Denver-based quartet broke up in 1998. Its split 10" with Boys Life, released on Crank! in April 1996, is among the best 10" records ever released. The record is out of print -- not sure if that goes for the CD version we picked up several years ago, too. But in the event you've never heard Christie Front Drive, this is our favorite jam of theirs, as we'll throw in Boys Life's obliterating "Two Wheeled Train" from the flipside to boot:

Christie Front Drive -- "Valentine" -- Christie Front Drive/Boys Life split 10"
Boys Life -- "Two Wheeled Train" -- Christie Front Drive/Boys Life split 10"
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>> A local note for Bostonians. After an interminable renovation, one-time dive live venue O'Brien's in Allston Rock City is set to re-open. The only venue we've ever played at twice. More details at The Phoenix here.

July 8, 2007

Johnny Foreigner's 13 Point Plan To Destroy Etc. And So On

Johnny Foreigner[Another week, another update about Johnny Foreigner... it's getting to the point where we are half-considering setting up a separate blog just to cover them, with a wacky name like "A+ No. 1 Super Fun Time Johnny Foreigner Fan Club USA Blog." But on to the news... -- Ed.]

There's almost imperceptible buzz around the Internets that superhuman Birmingham, UK-based noise pop trio Johnny Foreigner is considering at least one record deal. Not much of a surprise, really. We'll let you know how that shakes out. In the meantime, you should really click this link and wade through some hipster ranting on the part of a well-meaning host to get at a mind-bending live clip of Johnny Foreigner performing for the Road To V competition we've written about previously here. The band blitzes through a version of "SofaCore," dangles it a bit in the middle for some skull-mopping, and then brings the tune to its merry conclusion. We wish there was more high-quality live video such as this of the band to be had, but if this label deal thing happens we expect there will be plenty. Anyway, the funniest part of the pre-show interview bit is when the host asks the band why they should win the contest and bass player Kelly blurts out "we shouldn't." Brilliant.

We'd be remiss if we didn't mention that scads of Johnny Foreigner demos (many of which the band has been giving away at its web site for some time) have been packaged up as a 15-song, digital collection of sorts entitled I Like You Mostly Later At Never. You can download it here. For those of you keeping score at home: missing from the collection, based on our thorough record-keeping, is the great (if a little sketchily recorded) track "KickKickKick," but included are two tunes of which we were not previously familiar, "Champagne Girls We Used To Know" and "This End. As A Beginning." Also, the versions of "Yes! You Talk Too Fast," "Balance Comma Girl" and "Ninky vs. Dingle" sound like different mixes (in the case of the first two) or a different edit (in the case of the last one, a Sunset Cinema Club cover). Finally, because we are in a giving mood, here is our current JoFo fave, "All Mosely Gardens," as well as the aforementioned "KickKickKick."

Johnny Foreigner -- "All Mosely Gardens" -- I Like You Mostly Late At Never (Demos)
Johnny Foreigner -- "KickKickKick" -- Demo
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Johnny Foreigner: InterWeb | MySpace | YouTube | Flickr

July 5, 2007

YouTube Rodeo: Assembly Now's "Graphs, Maps & Trees"

We've been saddled with a Tuesday deadline for a week's worth of work at the day job, so things are going to quiet here for a while, with the exception of some action over the weekend perhaps. In the meantime, check out this new video for London quartet Assembly Now's forthcoming single, "Graphs, Maps & Trees," which is released in the UK on Kids Aug. 6. The video seems to be a sort of trippy homage to the weirder MTV videos of the early '80s. Think Duran Duran's earlier clips, or maybe Greg Kihn's. Or The Cars' video with the cartoon fly, "You Might Think." "Graphs, Maps & Trees" is Ass Now's third single. You can download MP3s of the first two, which are barn burners, at the band's web site here. Well, it appears the band has revamped its web site, so those singles aren't there anymore. How about this XFM session we recently posted? Oh, and we just found the links to the MP3s of the first two singles -- they are at the band's MySpace shack right here and at the bottom of the left column. Among other things, we previously featured Assembly Now in Show Us Yours #6 in March.

July 4, 2007

Today's Hotness: Zookeeper, Film School, Slumberland Records

Zookeeper>> Longtime readers may recall this post from November expressing surprise at encountering YouTube footage of excellent second-wave emo juggernaut Mineral. The band's 1996 release The Power Of Failing received much play in our old silver Volvo in our final year of undergraduate study. We were equally surprised to get an email reporting that former Mineral (and Gloria Record) fronter Chris Simpson has returned to the world of music after a bit of a hiatus with a new and surprisingly rootsier project called Zookeeper. We've got links to two MP3s below, but make certain you to hit this album stream and listen to the track "Delivery Room," which is our favorite cut on the album. Simspon's ear for a big melodies clearly weathered the hiatus well, and we have to say that the one thing about Mineral's recordings that didn't work for us was all the treble: Zookeeper's broader instrumentation softens the over-all assault. It is a bit jarring to hear Simpson's voice paired with shuffling acoustic guitars and juke-joint organ, but the music is fantastic. Zookeeper's self-titled EP was released last year; a full-length platter Becoming All Things is expected to be released this fall. In a MySpace post last year Simpson stated that he had written and recorded about 40 tracks, so we can likely expect a lot more to come. For those of you itching for some of that old Mineral video footage, here is the band doing the awesome cut "Parking Lot," and Crank! has Mineral music posted here.

Zookeeper -- "I Live In The Mess You Are" -- Zookeeper EP
Zookeeper -- "Tax Collector" -- Zookeeper EP
[right click and save as / buy the Zookeeper EP here]

>> We just got wind of the news that San Francisco-based nu-gaze quintet Film School, which made a big splash a year or two back for being on of the first bands to have the theft of their gear widely written about in the blogosphere (that was weird), have completed a new record. The set is titled Hideout and it is to be released on Beggars Banquet Sept. 11. Hideout was mixed by Phil Ek, who you may recall worked on all the good Built To Spill records. Film School recently added a different rhythm section and a new guitarist, and it will be interesting to hear whether that makes much of a difference. Film School's eponymous full-length debut was released by Beggars last year; it has several standout tracks including "Breet" and "Garrison" that we enjoy listening to with our ears.

>> Speaking of excellent dreampop type stuff, digital music service Rhapsody recently added some of our favorite recordings to its catalog by licensing a bunch of Slumberland Records releases. Chief among these are Rocketship's flawless and crucial 1996 set A Certain Smile, A Certain Sadness, which we can and have listened to on repeat for heroic lengths of time. It's that good. Another one of our favorites is Lorelei's stirring Asleep EP and Black Tambourine's discography. All of the Rocketship record is classic, and make a point to listen to "The Sky Is Falling" from the Asleep EP. And don't forget that Slumberland offers a generous amount of MP3s through its recently revamped web site. Below are a few of our all-time favorites. We remember the chills we got when we heard this first one, in Brookhouser's van. And we clearly remember hearing the second one on WPRB on the way to a gig at Princeton's Terrace Club, and thinking it was so good we may as well just stop making music. And eventually, about 10 years later, we did.

Velocity Girl -- "My Forgotten Favorite" -- DRYL 10 7" (out of print)
Lilys -- "Claire Hates Me" -- In The Presence Of Nothing (out of print, stop at nothing to acquire)
Boyracer -- "The Useless Romantic" -- More Songs About Frustration And Self Hate (out of print)
[right click and save as]

July 1, 2007

Today's Hotness: New Pornographers, A-Sides, Dirty On Purpose

books we read on vacation>> We're back. The Zappa bio we said we'd be reading? Superlative. Chock full of interesting information, and doesn't go out of its way to make Frank Zappa appear any greater or lesser of a man than he was. The Lydon bio? Pretty good. We think our primary qualm with it is the presentation -- the prose seems to be solely comprised of transcribed recordings, which results in very choppy sentences. It helps to imagine Lydon, who fronted both Sex Pistols and Public Image Ltd., speaking the words, and you do get used to it after a while. Still, would it have killed Lydon to have succumbed to great editorial oversight? Actually, given what we read, perhaps it would. Anyhow. Both books are well worth reading.

>> That relative silence you'll hear this week belies the preparation going into what will be a torrent of amazing releases this fall: Interpol, New Pornographers, Spoon, A-Sides, Meneguar, and on and on and on. Right now it seems like we don't have a lot on our plate (the vacation helped), but we expect things are going to be crazy and full of excellent music between now and the end of October. We can't wait.

>> Let's just come out and say it: if you like the peppy new New Pornographers promo track "My Rights Versus Yours," then you will like '70s pop sensations E.L.O.'s "Turn To Stone." The New Pornographers' new set Challengers will be released Aug. 21; Electric Light Orchestra released "Turn To Stone" on Out Of The Blue in 1977. And -- because one of our favorite Philadelphia-based bands just did a WOXY Lounge Act session and will release their sophomore album soon -- let's talk about The A-Sides for a minute. First of all, hit the link supra and grab the band's WOXY session, which includes new tracks from the band's long awaited sophomore set Silver Storms [Vagrant] including "Diamonds." Speaking of "Diamonds," Spinner recently published here a link to an MP3 of the album version of the track (we detest the term "leak" when the track hasn't actually "leaked" in the traditional sense of the term, sorry AOL Music Indi... errrr... Spinner). The song is awesome -- stop at nothing to acquire it. Anyway, if you like British shoegaze dynamo Ride's "Nowhere" (the albumer ender, not the album itself), then you will like The A-Sides' "Here Or There," the album ender from the latter band's debut Hello, Hello. Here's an MP3 and a few streams to illustrate our assertions above.

New Pornographers -- "My Rights Versus Yours" -- Challengers
[right click and save as]
[pre-order one of the various versions of Challengers right here]

[Imeem player removed.]

>> Shoegazy Brooklyn foursome Dirty On Purpose report it is recording an EP with a duo whose production credits include drone rockers Dead Meadow, noise merchants Liars and The National, a band everyone likes but us. An email from Dirty On Purpose states the new recordings sound "like when you're in a room and a loud rock band is playing and it's awesome." Sounds pretty great to us. No word on a release date. Dirty On Purpose's Sleep Late For A Better Tomorrow EP and full-length Hallelujah Sirens were released on North Street in 2004 and 2006, respectively; the label will also release the planned EP.

>> Stars are aligning. It would seem, according to a MySpace missive, that Birmingham, UK noise pop trio Johnny Foreigner have gotten on one of Meneguar's fall tour dates in the UK (posted here, lest you forget). That will be one hot show in Cambridge, England Oct. 4. Now if only we could figure out a reason for our day job to send us to England that week... Meneguar releases its long-anticipated sophomore set Strangers In Our House on Troubleman Unlimited in August. Remember before vacation when we said we didn't know how "limited" the pressing of the European release of the set on Release The Bats would be? Well, our old friend Google reveals only 500 copies were pressed. You can see the track listing and cover art right here.