November 3, 2008

Today's Hotness: It Hugs Back, Revelation Records, Henry Rollins

>> Letting go is hard to do. Especially when one of your favorite bands makes a groundbreaking recording, and then follows it up with something unexpected and dramatically different. Fans of the mercurial and chameleonic Lilys know what we are talking about. And to a certain extent we felt the same way when Dustin Reske of '90s dream pop heroes Rocketship left the world of sunshiney guitars to explore a more electronic palette. Last week we found something that filled the crater of certain unmet expectations whilst minding our own business listening to WMBR's delightful Breakfast Of Champions radio program. And that something is the latest single from It Hugs Back, "Work Day," the video of which we've embedded above. The Kent, England-based quartet's new single certainly reminds us of Rocketship, although in exploring its back catalog over the weekend it is notable that there is even a touch of Mission Of Burma to be found among the band's four prior singles. It Hugs Back isn't easily pigeonholed, however; "Early Evening" opens as an acoustic ballad that gradually gains steam and transforms into a light chime-studded rocker with overtones of Sufjan Stevens and Gastr Del Sol. "Work Day" was released by 4AD Sept. 29; 4AD and Too Pure, which put out the band's first four singles, merged in June. Another single is in the works, and both it and "Work Day" will appear on a planned 2009 debut full length release on 4AD. It Hugs Back's first four singles were collected up in April on The Record Room, which was issued on CD and in a limited-edition canvas bag, but can also be downloaded right here at EMusic. Highly recommended. Here's the A-side to its first single, the sold-out "Lights In The Trees," which was initially released by Too Pure in October 2006.

It Hugs Back -- "Lights In The Trees" -- "Lights In The Trees" b/w "Soft Spot"
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[buy It Hugs Back records from the band here or EMusic here]

>> Speaking of EMusic, there was a recent notable addition to the digital music storefront's offerings, the Revelation Records catalog. Revelation pretty much cornered the market on New York Hardcore and the bands that sought to continue its legacy. Among its titles are astonishingly good releases that every fan of heavy music should own, including the crucial first Texas Is The Reason single [link]; Youth Of Today's final and un-eff-withable "Disengage" single [link]; and Burn's chillingly awesome self-titled EP, featuring "Drown" [link]. Noticably absent? The first Shelter record, which featured Ray Cappo backed by members of 76% Uncertain.

>> We don't get IFC on our living room lightbox machine. But if we did, we can only think of one thing we'd watch on it, which is Henry Rollins' talk show. This month IFC is rolling out three new episodes of "Henry Rollins: Uncut," including a show looking at New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, a show capturing Mr. Rollins doing his talking show in Northern Ireland and a show during which Rollins tours a South African Township. Clips of all three shows, as well as a heralded show filmed in Israel, is combined with clips from Rollins doing his spoken-word bit live in an amusing 20-minute video you can watch right here. If you've see Rollins on a recent talking date (we saw him in 2006) some of the stuff late in the video will be familiar to you. That said, his story of meeting his idol Ted Nugent is one of a few that is easy to watch over and over and over. And it has historical import, as Mr. Nugent's teetotaler status was a direct inspiration on the straightedge hardcore movement.

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