January 30, 2008

Today's Hotness: Destroyer, Islands, Chris Walla

Destroyer, Destroyer, Destroyer
>> Fear not, Boston-based Destroyer fans. We were dismayed that the tour dates Merge distributed this afternoon lacked completely a Boston engagement for Mr. Bejar's flagship ensemble, so we dashed off an email to Merge HQ. Merge HQ responded that booking agents were still trying to get a local date that works for everybody, and that it was not an oversight. So there. Destroyer's forthcoming set Trouble In Dreams will be released by Merge in March.

>> We expect the closing of the major rock clubs on Boston's Lansdowne Street can't be helping matters, and there was new news relating to what heretofore was supposed to be a project combining all the Lansdowne clubs and real estate into some sort of crappy "lifestyle center" or something. Bostonist reported here yesterday that The Boston Globe reported that House Of Blues is "taking over" Avalon and Axis. Somewhere House Of Blues investor Dan Akroyd is twirling a villain's mustache he's grown and waxed lovingly just for occasions such as these, all the while murmuring "eggsellent." Anyway, House Of Blues won't own the clubs, but instead will hold a long-term lease with the property owner, real estate developer Patrick Lyons, who co-founded House Of Blues... wait, what? Speaking of blues, here is the long-gone, Boston-based indie rock juggernaut Come covering The Rolling Stones downer "I Got The Blues." The track closed the quartet's superlative 1992 release 11:11.

Come -- "I've Got The Blues" -- 11:11
[right click and save as]
[buy Come records from Newbury Comics here]

>> Speaking of Boston, hit this link and bow down before the awesomeness that is Mission Of Burma, captured to video by the good people at The Phoenix while performing live at Great Scott earlier this month. The clip for "2wice" is particularly ferocious.

>> The opening of the new Islands track "The Arm" is very promising, and then the disco strings swarm. Man, we hate the disco strings. Otherwise, the song isn't a large departure from the quirky, scruffy indie rock on Islands' 2006 debut, Return To The Sea, which we reviewed here. But we're getting that sneaking feeling that this band is about to pass us by, and we're going to let it. We mean, come on, disco strings? If your name is not Jeff Lynne or if your band is not ELO, you shouldn't be getting mixed up with any of that. Nonetheless, Islands' sophomore set Arm's Way will be released by Rough Trade April 21.

>> At the opposite end of the spectrum, we love the new Chris Walla jam "Sing Again," and think the video posted at Stereogum here is quite entertaining. And some of the noisier production stuff going on in the midst of the catchy track gives us much encouragement that Mr. Walla's comments earlier this month about the forthcoming Death Cab For Cutie set being "polarizing," "dissonant" and "abrasive" weren't just lip service. Incidentally, The Cab Of Death disclosed this week that the title to its forthcoming set is titled Narrow Stairs. You can watch a little video clip hyping the record, which will be released in May, at the band's web site linked supra. It all sounds very promising. You can watch the video for Walla's "Sing Again" via the e-card for his record Field Manual posted here. The set was released this week.

>> More tomorrow about Paul McGuinness' speech at Midem and Say Hi's nice new track "Zero To Love," assuming we can squeeze it in before LOST is broadcast on the television.

January 27, 2008

Today's Hotness: Benge, Superman Revenge Squad, The A-Sides

>> As we loaded up the disc changer this morning with birthday brunch-appropriate Belle & Sebastian, our eyes wandered to the right in the row of CDs and noticed Benge's sublime platter of understated electronic music, Meme Tunes. It's a very fitting record for a quiet morning with a surprise inch or two of snow. Benge -- recommended if you like ISAN or the more bleepy Morr Music acts -- is the nom de clicks of British electronic music veteran and Expanding Records principal Ben Edwards. Meme Tunes was released in 2002 -- some four years after Benge issued a Very Best Of... set -- and we reviewed it for Junkmedia right here. Listening to and enjoying immensely the set this morning inspired us to check in at the Expanding Records web site and it appears Mr. Edwards' output slowed substantially after the release of Meme Tunes. After releasing nine records in six years or so, Benge has only issued one more; a tenth called I Am Nine was released in 2004 (the Expanding site refers to this a Benge's ninth record -- we guess the label doesn't count the Very Best Of... set). Last.FM has maddeningly short samples of the tracks on I Am Nine here. In case it is snowing where you are, here is an MP3 of "Adam-Age Loneliness" from Meme Tunes.

Benge -- "Adam-Age Loneliness" -- Meme Tunes
[right click and save as]
[buy Meme Tunes from Expanding Records here]

>> UK-based online music 'zine God Is In The TV will release a re-recorded version of Superman Revenge Squad's "Idiot Food" Feb. 18 as the fourth installment a free digital singles club, according to this blurb. The track is backed with new versions of "The Angriest Dog In The World" and "When Everyone's Dead." The boundlessly bitter and remarkably verbose Superman Revenue Squad's "Idiot Food" has to be our favorite song with the word "diarrhea" in it. Readers may recall we devoted a fair amount of digital ink to the Croydon, England act and its stellar pre-cursors Tempertwig and Nosferatu D2 last fall here, here and here. God Is In The TV pronounces that the new versions of the tracks sound ace, so we are eager to have a listen when the appointed date rolls around.

>> Philadelphia-based indie rocker The A-Sides launch another strand of tour dates at the end of February in support of their 2007 release Silver Storms, according to this item at Pun Canoes. We still haven't seen the band perform, despite following their trajectory for the last few years. As the dates posted below attest, this tour will not change that -- the band is heading due west from Philly. But one day... Silver Storms was one of a bunch of records we discussed in this post concerning 2007 releases we wish we'd had more time to write about.

02/20 -- State College, PA -- Bar Bleu
02/21 -- Cleveland, OH -- Grog Shop
02/22 -- Bloomington, IN -- Bear's Place
02/2 -- Chicago, IL -- Subterranean
02/24 -- Ames, IA -- Maintenance Shop
02/25 -- Milwaukee, W -- Mad Planet
02/26 -- Minneapolis, MN -- 7th Street Entry
02/27 -- Omaha, NE -- Slowdown
02/28 -- Lawrence, KS -- Replay Lounge
02/29 -- Denver, CO -- Hi Dive
03/01 -- Salt Lake City, UT -- Kilby Court
03/04 -- Portland, OR -- Holocene
03/05 -- San Francisco, CA -- Bottom of the Hill
03/06 -- Costa Mesa, CA -- Detroit Bar
03/07 -- Los Angeles, CA -- Spaceland
03/08 -- Upland, CA -- The Wire
03/10 -- Tucson, AZ -- Plush

>> We'll be back Wednesday.

January 26, 2008

Today's Hotness: Johnny Foreigner, Varsity Drag, Frightened Rabbit

Johnny Foreigner>> Superlative Birmingham, England indie rock trio Johnny Foreigner is now streaming its explosive forthcoming single at the band's MySpace dojo here. As we've noted previously, "Our Bipolar Friends" b/w "The Houseparty Scene Is Killing You" will be released by Best Before Records March 10. You can already pre-order the single from HMV.com right here, which we did the other day despite the abysmal exchange rate and air mail charges. Careful reading of the recent flurry of MySpace bulletins come from the band and label yields other tidbits of information. The forthcoming full-length is as-yet untitled, although the most recent message from the label suggests the set might be self-titled -- or maybe the author just likes to put single quotes around the band name for some reason. We could certainly come up with several title suggestions (One More Failed Suicide Attempt, or Tape The Letterbox Shut, and so on). More importantly, the band reports just finishing the recording and mixing this week, which would certainly seem an important step in getting the thing released and into our stereo. The very good news is the band is coming back to America; the bad news for us is that the "several" dates are at South By Southwest, which is decidedly not driving distance from Boston. Maybe they can squeeze a Boston or New York date in on their way back from SXSW? Check out all the band's tour dates with Los Campesinos! and Young Knives here. Lastly, we love this ad slick at left that the band is using right now that is a variation of sorts on the art for the single. The disgruntled ghost in the foreground is our favorite.

>> We question whether we'll have the energy after a late night last night, but Ben Deily's Varsity Drag performs at Midway Cafe in the Jamaica Plain section of Boston tonight. Deily, readers may recall, co-fronted the early, punker iteration of The Lemonheads with Evan Dando, and in our opinion contributed some of the strongest material to the classic sets Hate Your Friends, Lick and Creator. Varsity Drag performs a lot of this early Lemonheads material [YouTube clip from a recent European date here], and we are determined to see the act live at some point. Varsity Drag released For Crying Out Loud in 2006. Based on the absurdly high prices for used copies we've found online ($17-$50), it would seem the record is out of print, which explains why we can never find it at Newbury Comics. Damn it. Fortunately you can stream a lot of the tunes at Varsity Drag's MySpace wigwam here.

>> Not sure if we've reported this before: Glaswegian powerfolk trio Frightened Rabbit's sophomore set The Midnight Organ Fight will be released on Fat Cat April 1. The title comes from a line in the dramatic number "Fast Blood," which fans may recall was first released digitally via EMusic as part of a stellar, powerful live collection of recordings made at last year's SXSW. Angry Ape has a full run-down here on the run-up to the release, which includes the release March 3 of a single for the fantastic number "Heads Roll Off." The surprisingly danceable number will be backed with a tune we've yet to hear, "Set You Free." The Ape also has a track listing, and we're pleased to see "The Twist" and "My Backwards Walk" making the cut. The cataclysmic shouter "The Modern Leper" leads off the record, and the good people of IODA PromoNet are hosting an MP3 of the track that we link to below.

The Midnight Organ FightFrightened Rabbit
"The Modern Leper" (mp3)
from "The Midnight Organ Fight"
(Fat Cat Records)

More On This Album

>> Shape-shifting pop genius Kurt Heasley makes another rare appearance with his band Lilys tonight in Joshua Tree, California. We'll be scouring YouTube for clips tomorrow.

January 22, 2008

Review: "Inside The Smiths" DVD

Nearly as legendary as the music of The Smiths itself is the acrimonious relations between the principal members of the Manchester quartet. Particularly germane here is the discord between the rhythm section, comprised of drummer Mike Joyce and bassist Andy Rourke, and the chief songwriters, the enigmatic fronter Stephen Patrick Morrissey and guitar hero (and now Modest Mouse sideman) Johnny Marr. For a primer on the State of All Things Legal Regarding The Smiths read this 2005 missive that Morrissey posted to superlative fan site True To You. The relations between the factions of the defunct group, which fractured 21 years ago, is paramount in contextualizing "Inside The Smiths," released today by MVD.

The documentary is presented from the vantage point of Mssrs. Joyce and Rourke, a point emphasized repeatedly by odd interstitials of a weathered bass guitar flying through cityscapes. It only takes seven minutes for Mr. Rourke to raise the issue of the lawsuit. And the lawsuit, we expect, is a primary reason why there are no actual Smiths songs used in the documentary. The legal hurdle must be responsible for the curious spectacle of Mr. Rourke playing the bass part to "There Is A Light That Never Goes Out" halfway through the film while he listens to the song on headphones, so that all the viewer hears is his live bass playing, and not the full composition. And so the soundtrack to "Inside The Smiths" is comprised of quasi-Smiths musical wallpaper from the "fifth Smith," Aztec Camera guitarist -- and Smiths second guitarist on the The Queen Is Dead tour -- Craig Gannon, with additional contributions from The Doves and New Order bassist Peter Hook's act Monaco.

Inside The SmithsAll that aside, Joyce and Rourke's willingness to share details and take viewers on tour of the places where important events transpired makes "Inside The Smiths" immensely watchable. For those of us hardly of an age to have much firsthand experience of the rapid rise and fall of The Smiths between 1982 and 1987, eyewitness accounts of incidents such as Rourke's heroin problem and ejection from the band; Marr's surprise departure from the band and Morrissey and Joyce's efforts in its wake; Joyce's tales of ingesting psychotropic mushrooms just prior to auditioning for the band; and a brief, tantalizing look into a cardboard box of Joyce's at 56 cassettes of never released material and other such fodder is really quite interesting.

Of course with all band members still living the discussion of a reunion is inevitable. The filmmakers let much of the pro-reunion sentiment come out of the mouths out of incidental commentators, some wide-eyed scribe and a San Francisco street busker, although Joyce and Rourke aren't above mentioning that such an occurrence isn't out of the question. Even so, the yearning for a reformed Smiths comes off alternately as very naive or coldly calculated, depending on who's talking about it. Certainly Joyce and Rourke have much to gain from simply the possibility having currency among fans. Rourke sums up at one point, "I'm still kind of picking up the pieces, now, do you know what I mean? You know, I've been in a lot of different bands, but I suppose I'm still picking up the pieces from that day when The Smiths split up." Given reports that Morrissey turned down millions of dollars to participate in a reunion last year, the safe money is on no reunion. And with Morrissey turning out the best music of his post-Smiths life on his most recent set, The Ringleader Of The Tormentors, who can blame him?

Purchase "Inside The Smiths" from MVD right here.

January 20, 2008

Today's Hotness: David & The Citizens, Small Factory, Silkworm

>> Friendly Fire Records brings news that Swedish indie pop luminaries David & The Citizens have returned with a free four-song digital EP entitled I Saw My Reflection And I Didn't Recognize MySelf. The set -- self-released about a month ago in tandem with fronter David Fridlund's birthday -- contains four piano-anchored winners whose strongest tracks are the dark, cinematic ballad "Anything" and the opener "With Every New Day." Both tracks are certainly worth a lot more than free, but who are we to refuse the largesse of the prolific Mr. Fridlund? The former song reminds us obliquely of Shout Out Louds' epic album closer "Hard Rain," at least in tone. According to a jpg'd letter in the .zip file that contains the songs [1, 2, 3], David & The Citizens at this point is simply Fridlund, as his band members quit en masse last February. But Fridlund is adamant that David & The Citizens is still an entity until he himself quits the band, an action he strongly considered but ultimately rejected last year.

We most recently wrote here about David & The Citizens on the occasion of Friendly Fire's U.S. release of Until The Sadness Is Gone in late 2006. Well, in the interest of accuracy and now that we've actually looked, we most recently wrote here about the availability of the band's Stop The Tape! Stop The Tape! at EMusic around the same time. The entirety of I Saw My Reflection And I Didn't Recognize Myself is available as a zip file. The link is posted below, along with an MP3 of "Anything" to whet your appetite. David & The Citizens' web site contains a bounty of music you can stream and download; hit this link and be prepared to lose the better part of an hour.

David & The Citizens -- "Anything" -- I Saw My Reflection And I Didn't Recognize Myself
[right click and save as]
[download the entire EP as a .zip here]
[buy David & The Citizens records from Adrian Recordings here]

>> In the wake of our referencing Small Factory and The Godrays last week we've come across a couple things of interest. First, our friend Matt has posted streams of the two Small Factory full-lengths I Do Not Love You and For If You Cannot Fly here and here respectively. So if you are trapped at your computo and need some exemplary indie rock, there you go. Another thing: while we linked to the Sit-N-Spin label page for The Godrays last week, we made no mention that there are three MP3s posted there from the Godrays final EP Well Composed Death Notice, including the powerful closer "Shark Shaped Ship." We'll post that track below, but hit the link supra to grab MP3s for "Hope This Makes Sheryl Crow Happy" and "Poor Grace" from the EP. And finally, we were able to track via New Jersey's Greatest Living DJ a copy of the "Small Factory Live!" VHS a year or two ago. After some delay, H-Dawg From Accounts Receivable was able to get the VHS converted to DVD for us, and we're thinking that some time soon we'll try to get the thing ripped and posted to YouTube. We've never ripped video before, so if anybody can bullet point it for us in an email, that'd be hot.

The Godrays -- "Shark Shaped Ship" -- Well Composed Death Notice
[right click and save as]
[buy Godrays recordings from Sit-N-Spin here]

>> Habitual readers know that we here at Clicky Clicky keep one eagle eye steadily on Bradley's Almanac, for obvious reasons. We're here to remind you to maintain a zen-quality focus on the site for a post relating to some outstanding acoustic -- and at least for us hard to find -- Silkworm recordings that Mr. 'Nac and we had occasion to discuss over the weekend after said songs popped into our head. We had had the four songs on a tape back in the day, but found ourselves coming up short when perusing our two beer boxes full of cassettes.

January 17, 2008

Today's Hotness: Ringo Deathstarr, The Notwist, Daytrotter

>> Ladies and gentlemen, we present to you above the new Ringo Deathstarr video for the Jesus And Mary Chain-arific track "Some Kind Of Sad." It's quirky, in kind of a "Lovecats" vein. Scroll down to our earlier item listing The Deathstarr's upcoming tour dates. The other really good video we encountered today is for the new Morrissey jam, "That's How People Grow Up," which will be included on a forthcoming hits package from the fabled former Smiths fronter. The clip makes us want to see him perform even more than when we posted (and unposted) "The First Of The Gang To Die" here. Watch "That's How People Grow Up" at Pantsfork here.

>> Bradley's Almanac's excellent 2008 preview contains some particularly exciting news for us: there will be a new Notwist record this spring. At least according to the Notwist-Ultras.com blog, which we had never encountered before. A post there in late November reported that the recording was completed and that the set was being mastered in November and December 2007. The name of the new set, which will be The Notwist's sixth, has not yet been disclosed, but it will likely be released by City Slang in April or May. Longtime fans will be interested to note that founding drummer Martin Messerschmidt has left The Notwist, and that drumming in the new record was executed by Masha Qrella and Saroos timekeeper Andreas Haberl. Mr. Haberl will also drum on planned German tour dates. We reviewed the excellent DVD "On | Off The Record," which memorialized the making of Notwist's superlative 2002 set Neon Golden, right here last February. The Notwist contributed to the excellent Morr compilation Putting The Morr Back In Morrissey, which was released in 2000. We're posting their selection, a clicktronic instrumental called "Scoop," below.

The Notwist -- "Scoop" -- Putting The Morr Back In Morrissey
[right click and save as]
[buy Notwist recordings from Newbury Comics here]

>> We think the sidebar to this Des Moines Register piece about Wolfgang's Vault's purchase of a majority stake in Daytrotter.com has the most interesting information. Daytrotter plans to record more well-known artists (Death Cab For Cutie and Stephen Malkmus are offered as examples); remove older recordings from the web site and sell them as high-quality MP3s; and press certain recording sessions to limited edition (500-1,000 copies) vinyl LPs. Which all sound like excellent ideas to us. Kudos to you, Daytrotter.

January 15, 2008

Coming To Your Local Bandstand: Evangelicals, Ringo Deathstarr

Ringo Deathstarr
>> [photo credit: Ringo Deathstarr live by Fred Holten]

>> So remember the other day when we were noting that conspicuously absent from the press info surrounding the impending release of Evangelicals' sophomore set was any tour dates? For a reminder, scroll down. It turns out we were just slightly ahead of our time, as a ridiculously thorough tour has just been announced. Evangelicals will bring their traveling circus of psych rock to the Middle East in Cambridge Feb. 27; the full itinerary is below. As we stated in our review of a 2006 show, "the difference between Evangelicals and the rest of the bands that you see in the middle of a bill on a Wednesday night at an established rock club in a major American city (besides the fact that Evangelicals are awesome), is that the band brings its own smoke machine. And red and green lights and piles of plastic flowers."

02/15 -- Columbia, MO -- Mojo's
02/16 -- Lexington, KY -- The Icehouse
02/17 -- Nashville, TN -- The End
02/18 -- Athens, GA -- The Caledonia Lounge
02/19 -- Mt. Pleasant, SC -- Village Tavern
02/20 -- Norfolk, VA -- The Boot
02/21 -- Arlington, VA -- Iota
02/24 -- New York, NY -- Mercury Lounge
02/25 -- Philadelphia, PA -- Johnny Brenda's
02/26 -- Hamden, CT -- The Space
02/27 -- Cambridge, MA -- Middle East
02/28 -- Princeton, NJ -- Terrace Club
02/29 -- Brooklyn, NY -- Union Hall
03/01 -- Buffalo, NY -- Mohawk Place
03/02 -- Toronto, ON -- El Mocambo
03/03 -- Cleveland, OH -- Beachland
03/04 -- Bloomington, IN -- Waldron Arts Center
03/06 -- Urbana, IL -- Canopy Club
03/07 -- Chicao, IL -- Schuba's
03/08 -- St. Louis, MO -- Bilken Club
03/09 -- Springfield, MO -- Randy Beacon Gallery
03/10 -- Norman, OK -- Opolis
03/11 -- Dallas, TX -- The Cavern
03/12 -- Austin, TX -- SXSW
03/13 -- Austin, TX -- SXSW
03/14 -- Austin, TX -- SXSW
03/15 -- Austin, TX -- SXSW
03/17 -- Tucson, AZ -- Plush
03/19 -- Los Angeles, CA -- Silver Lake Lounge
03/20 -- Visalia, CA -- Howie & Sons
03/21 -- San Francisco, CA -- Hemlock Tavern
03/23 -- Seattle, WA -- Nectar Lounge
03/24 -- Missoula, MT -- Badlander
03/26 -- Salt Lake City, UT -- Kilby Court
03/27 -- Denver, CO -- Hi Dive
03/28 -- Omaha, NE -- Waiting Room
03/29 -- Minneapolis, MN -- Nomad
03/30 -- Milwaukee, WI -- Cactus Club
04/01 -- Dekalb, IL -- House Cafe
04/02 -- Madison, WI -- Club 770
04/03 -- Iowa City, IA -- The Mill
04/04 -- Lake Forest, IL -- The Chapel
04/05 -- Beloit, WI -- Beloit College

>> That Evangelicals date in Cambridge we note supra sounded dangerously close to the date of shoegaze dynamos Ringo Deathstarr's area appearance, so we surfed over to the band's MySpace tent to make sure we weren't heading for a conflict. Fortunately, we're not. As you can see below, Ringo Deathstarr will be blowing the walls down at the Abbey Lounge in Cambridge Feb. 25. It seems the end of February will be quite a busy time for :: clicky clicky :: live show reportage. When it rains, it reports (Colbert pronunciation, please). The Deathstarr will be hopscotching here and back to Texas via Brooklyn at the end of next month, and all current live commitments are listed at the bottom of this item. The band's eponymous EP was among our favorite records of 2007. One tune you won't find on that excellent EP is the demo for "Your Town," which the band is once again giving away at MySpace. We'll save you the trip and post it below. We're not sure how many Small Factory/Godrays fans we have out there, but the breathy vocal of "Your Town" reminds us very much of the odd and beautiful Godrays song sketch "Carkeys, Ponytail and Gum" that closed out the Providence, RI-spawned act's enjoyable Songs For T.V. Stars. Oh how we miss the combined efforts of Alex Kemp and Phoebe Summersqash. To prove it, we're posting that Godrays song below as well.

Ringo Deathstarr -- "Your Town (Demo)"
The Godrays -- "Carkeys, Ponytail And Gum" -- Songs For T.V. Stars
[right click and save as]
[buy the Ringo Deathstarr EP here]
[buy Godrays records from Sit-N-Spin here]

01/22 -- Emo’s Lounge -- Austin, Texas
02/09 -- Vortex -- Beaumont, Texas
02/10 -- Emo’s Inside -- Austin, Texas
02/22 -- Brillo Box -- Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
02/23 -- The Tank -- New York, New York
02/25 -- Abbey Lounge -- Cambridge, Massachusetts
02/26 -- Glasslands -- Brooklyn, New York

January 14, 2008

Clicky Clicky Mini-festo: Certain Minor Axioms Of Indie Awesomeness

Certain Minor Axioms Of Indie Awesomeness
Folks who really know their way around the Internetses are likely familiar with Cute Overload's objective Rules Of Cuteness, which turn on such things as ear size and -- in the case of the newly inaugurated Rule #38 -- belly roundness. We've long pondered a similar set of axioms for indie rock, although our criteria are so subjective that it doesn't make sense to apply them on the macro level that Cute Overload does. All the same, there are at least several things we take a lot of enjoyment from in indie rock, and they are 1) when a band namechecks itself (the most prominent aspect of an often entertaining universe of meta references to a song being performed), 2) when lyrics mention the act of listening to records or the radio, 3) when singers plead for the object of their affections to change his or her mind and it seems pretty clear that is not going to happen, and 4) the ludicrously over-loud sonic element.

A band can garner style points with specifically clever application of an axiom. For example, the first two words of dearly departed indie rock supergeniuses Haywood's sublime "Take An Inventory" are quite purposefully "Hey would..." Sticking with the 'Wood, one of the more entertaining applications of Axiom #1 is the first line to the relatively rare rocker "Alpenland," which opens with "Calling down to base camp this is Ted..." Readers of yesterday's post regarding Johnny Foreigner know the trio's forthcoming b-side also hits our first axiom. The Concretes' "On The Radio" fairly bluntly satisifies the requirements of our Axiom #2, but of course the grandaddy of this rule is The Replacements' consistently electrifying and dizzyingly poignant "Left Of The Dial." Or maybe The Modern Lovers' "Road Runner." Axiom #3, the sad little rule that nurses a beer quietly at the end of the bar, is found in the indie wild more more often than you'd expect. Our favorite manifestation is in Lilys' peerless classic "Claire Hates Me," but of course there is always the upbeat Sugar tune "If I Can't Change Your Mind." For Axiom #4, we usually think of the ridiculously loud "YOU!" in Dinosaur Jr.'s cover of "Just Like Heaven," or most of the guitar solos on Jon Spencer Blues Explosion's Extra Width, although it's sadly been years since we've heard that record. Anyway, we'll try to point out these various axioms when they come up in the future. Enjoy these MP3s.

Haywood -- "Alpenland" -- Self-Portrait comp [our version is an unmastered pre-release ca. 1997]
Lilys -- "Claire Hates Me" -- In The Presence Of Nothing [still sadly out of print]
[right click and save as]
[buy Haywood and Lilys recordings from Insound here and here]

January 13, 2008

Today's Hotness: Johnny Foreigner, Evangelicals, Video Nasties

Johnny Foreigner, Our Bipolar Friends b/w The Houseparty Scene Is Killing You
>> Above is the bottom half of the cover art for the forthcoming Johnny Foreigner single for "Our Bipolar Friends" that we mentioned last week (see below). The release date is March 3, not March 5 as we wrote previously. The B-side will be the song "The Houseparty Scene Is Killing You," which you would have thought the band might have saved for the flip of a single for "This Band Is Killing Us." Through the miracle of technology and the kindness of cool people, we've already heard the single (as well as a radio session track that will blow up the hipper parts of the Internet when it gets out there; we'll hold our tongues for now) and it is huge. The single version of "Our Bipolar Friends" has fairly different vocals from bassist Kelly than the demo from last spring, and there are some cool new guitar parts and gang vocals to boot. The mix touts broader separation of the instruments, and none of the energy of the earlier version is lost. The real excitement, of course, is the b-side, which we hadn't heard before (unless they played it during the show in New York? Our memory is fuzzy). "The Houseparty Scene Is Killing You" is awesome, and not just because the band namechecks itself in the lyrics (we are a big fan of this; one day we need to do a post on things such as that which earn big points from us). It's got that characteristic drunk-but-still-standing-up feel, although the shuffling guitar and slightly tempered dynamics result in a mellower attack. Both "Houseparty" and the radio session highlight a gear that Johnny Foreigner hasn't displayed often beyond a handful of demos, and the fact that the trio has yet another trick up its sleeve will pleasantly surprise many. Now wait until March.

>> Have you heard the promo track for the new Evangelicals record The Evening Descends? Fans will recall that "Skeleton Man" was first made available last year as part of the Oklahoma psychers' Daytrotter session. The studio version is an unsurprisingly spiffed-up rendering of the kaleidoscopic anthem. You can hear it and the rest of the record at the band's MySpace teepee here, as Evangelicals just announced it is now streaming the new set there through its Jan. 22 release date. We reviewed the quartet's debut So Gone here, and reviewed their Nov. 2006 show at TT The Bear's Place here. Notably lacking right now is any information about Evangelicals touring plans. They totally killed when we saw them in 2006 and we are eager for another chance. We have to believe a third Evangelicals record can't be too far off, because we wrote here in late 2006 that the band had planned to finish The Evening Descends in Feb. 2007 and had expected to release it in Aug. of that year.

Evangelicals -- "Skeleton Man" -- The Evening Descends
[right click and save as]
[pre-order The Evening Descends from Dead Oceans here]

>> Those of you awaiting news concerning London-based indie rock wunderkinds Video Nasties will be pleased to note that the quintet recorded four new tracks in late December. The desperate rocker "Gobi" has "big single" written all over it. "Stereo" and "Hearts And Bones" are a touch denser and the attitude a bit heavier than the older, fizzy material we harvested from various UK music blogs last year. The new songs have a lot of punch musically. We miss some of the innocence in the vocals of the earlier tunes (those on the new tracks are almost exclusively barked, but not in a bad way), although some of that remains in the Walkmen-esque "Conversation Dies." Video Nasties -- which released The Karl Blau EP in October, right after we first wrote about the band here -- tour the UK throughout February with the hotly tipped (but to our ears kind of flat) Nottingham electropop act Late Of The Pier. You can stream all four new Video Nasties tracks at the band's MySpace yert here. We're particularly fond of the older Video Nasties track "Little Flickers," so here it is.

Video Nasties -- "Little Flickers" -- Southern Demos
[right click and save as]
[buy Video Nasties recordings from Rough Trade here]

January 9, 2008

Today's Hotness: Johnny Foreigner, The A-Sides, The Replacements

Johnny Foreigner at Bowery Ballroom, November 2007>> Surprisingly, given our typical microscopic coverage of all things Johnny Foreigner, we don't think we've yet reported that the Birmingham, England-based trio will release "Our Bipolar Friends" as a single March 5. DrownedInSound notes the release in this interview with fronter and guitarist Alexei Foreigner. We imagine that the single will be available in the UK only, but we're hoping that it will be carried, albeit digitally, via EMusic. Not that we won't buy a hard copy of the import, of course. We're curious as to what the b-sides to the single will be; as of yet there is no info at Index7, the amazing site that tracks the release of singles in the UK. Anyway, we first wrote about the track here back in April, and we still think it is among the best songs Johnny Foreigner has written. For one thing, it's got some of Alexei's finest shoutable lyrics, such as "she said it's written in the stars but I don't look at the stars anymore." We can't be certain the version the band was giving away last April isn't the same one that is to be released in March, so we won't repost it again here. What we will post, however, is the demo version of "Champagne Girls We Used To Know," which we've decided is superior to the commercially available version. It is just intensely frenetic, more overdriven, more lacerated with feedback. Enjoy it.

Johnny Foreigner -- "Champagne Girls We Used To Know (Demo)" -- I Like You Mostly Late At Never demos
[right click and save as]

>> Daytrotter goes an amazing two-in-a-row in posting live sessions by :: clicky clicky :: faves. Here the venerable web site -- which posts recordings made by touring bands who stop by their headquarters -- has begun offering four tracks from exceptional Philadelphia-based indie rockers The A-Sides. The Daytrotter version of "Cinematic" is rendered with a single vocal and acoustic production, resulting in a poignant and understated take on a tune that swirls and is massive on The A-Sides' sophomore set released last year, Silver Storms. Equally sublime and subdued is the quiet take on the album highlight "My Heroes Have Always Been Crazy." That The A-Sides can squeeze its material into different but equally beautiful forms is a testament to the chops of the quintet. Also available at Daytrotter are versions of "Amazing Grace" and "Sinking With The Ship." We strongly recommend you grab them all, as the new arrangements are stunning and the recordings could easily stand as a strong EP. Thanks for rocking us most steadfastly in early 2008, Daytrotter!

>> We're 125 pages into Jim Walsh's "The Replacements -- All Over But The Shouting, An Oral History." And while we'll hold the majority of our comments until we've completed the book, we can report that we had no idea that Buck Hill was a small ski mountain. We guess mountain is overstating it. Anyway, the book is a quick read, although we don't care for the format. More about that another time.

January 7, 2008

Today's Hotness: Lilys, Kolya, Thinking Machines

>> Some good citizen has performed the public service of posting to YouTube a pretty good-sized hunk of sublime indie rockers Lilys performing "Can't Make Your Life Better" during the band's Dec. 21 show at Spaceland in Los Angeles. We've posted the video above. The performance is predictably loose and the video isn't great, but the sound isn't half bad. It is bracing to see bandleader Kurt Heasley putting his excellent material through its paces once more. The clip doesn't include the beginning or the end of the song, which is the quasi-title track from Lilys' triumphant 1997 diving curve-ball Better Can't Make Your Life Better. But even so, it rocks. We're hopeful the recent two-night stand in Los Angeles is a harbinger of more Lilys shows to come, as Mr. Heasley, et al., never made it to Boston in support of the band's most recent record, Everything Wrong Is Imaginary [review], during a two-week tour in 2006. Somewhere along the way we've acquired some audio that purports to be from the band's 2002 performance at Boston's Axis nightclub. So here is a pretty smoking live version of "Shovel Into Spade Kit," another song from Better Can't Make Your Life Better.

Lilys -- "Shovel Into Spade Kit (Live At Axis, Boston)" -- Better Can't Make Your Life Better
[right click and save as]
[buy Lilys records from Newbury Comics here]

>> Notable blog Built On A Weak Spot here shines a light on defunct, angular Boston emo trio Kolya, who we first saw opening for Atom And His Package at Brandeis about seven years ago. The vocal to Kolya's "The Story Becomes The Vehicle" always gives us chills, and we are glad to finally have a digital version, as we for some reason bought a cassette when we saw them way back in the day and haven't bothered to upgrade. The mix BOAWS offers is from the 7" release, and we think our cassette (it has a red insert with a woodcut or something as the graphic... we'll have to dig that up) featured a different version -- we seem to remember the urgent guitar riff being both louder and beefier on the cassette.

>> Glancing around Built On A Weak Spot again we noticed the blog must have received the same pitch we did from aggressive Philadelphia-based indie threesome Thinking Machines. Thinking Machines' music vacillates between the melodic sonic onslaught of Superchunk and the taut jitters of New York-based Rahim. The trio releases the record A Complete Record Of Urban Archaeology next month, and you can stream the whole set right now at the band's Last.FM page here. We were compelled to stream "Maze," "Waste Of Time" and "Urban Archaeologist" more than a couple times, particularly the latter track, which layers in a punchy 3/4 bass part onto a 4/4 crunchy verse to grand effect. Last week Thinking Machines was giving away "Urban Archaeologist" at its Last.FM page, but it appears they've discontinued that, so here is a stream (click the little yellow triangle button). A Complete Record Of Urban Archaeology is already available at ITunes. [UPDATE: the link to Last.FM was wonking up our columns, so it has been removed. Click the links below to go there and hear the tune].

Thinking MachinesUrban Archaeologist

January 6, 2008

Today's Hotness: A Weather, Mobius Band, Wye Oak

A Weather
>> The final solicitation of 2007 to catch our fancy was a pitch for A Weather, a Portland, Ore.-based quintet. A Weather's serenity and domestic intimacy recall for us the quiet rock of Track A Tiger, although we expect there are more on-point comparisons if we stop and think (perhaps Rocketship crossed with The Softies?). The verse of A Weather's "Spiders, Snakes" quietly marches and purrs and yearns, envisioning a tryst consummated while Bedhead plays on the hi-fi. The chorus offers some relief in the form of bright optimism, or at least some pragmatic pleading for managed expectations. On the whole the track is a perfect love song for the indie-conscious, cardigan-wearing set we struggle to believe survived the mid-1990s. No less affecting is the track "Oh My Stars," whose fractured waltz layers vocals into a spine-tingling minor crescendo in its final minute. Cove, A Weather's debut, will be released by Team Love March 8. The label also released a single by the band, "The Feather Test" b/w "One More One Night Stand," last spring.

A Weather -- "Spiders, Snakes" -- Cove
A Weather -- "Oh My Stars" -- Cove
[right click and save as]
[pre-order Cove from Team Love].

>> Daytrotter commences 2008 correctly by posting this new session featuring Brooklyn-based cyborg rockers Mobius Band. The session features four tracks -- although the ID3 tags suggests a fifth was also recorded -- including "A Hint Of Blood," "Friends Like These," "Hallie" and "The Loving Sounds Of Static." And while we take every opportunity to embiggen the formerly Massachusetts-based trio, the recordings of the first two tracks sound a little flat. The songs, of course, are excellent, each one a highlight of the band's near-decade of existence. But somehow the live mix here makes the songs sound small -- certainly much smaller and less potent than their studio counterparts. Whatever the problems, they are dispelled on the recording of "Hallie," which sounds significantly more peppy, despite the tune's down-in-the-mouth story. And the bluesy, almost Palace-ish rendering of "Static" with haunting and woeful vocal harmonies is a pleasant surprise. Download the tracks from the good people of Daytrotter here. Mobius Band released its sophomore set Heaven on Misra/Ghostly International in October.

>> We checked out Merge's new act Wye Oak on Frank Chromewaves' recommendation and we are saying "yes" to the Baltimore-based duo. Thank god bands are putting feedback back into their recordings. Or at least some of them -- we popped over to the band's MySpace wigwam and some of the other tracks are more basic acoustic numbers. Wye Oak releases its Merge debut If Children April 8. It is touring in an erratic path throughout January (Brooklyn last night, from the Carolinas to Florida next week, and then on to the Pacific Northwest); check out all the dates at the MySpace linked supra. Here is the first promo MP3 for a delightful cut entitled "Warning."

Wye Oak -- "Warning" - If Children
[right click and save as]

>> Death Cab For Cutie guitarist Chris Walla characterizes the quartet's forthcoming release as "polarizing," "dissonant" and "abrasive," according to this Billboard article, which all sounds very promising to us. While we admit to only having heard half of the record, we didn't find much of interest on the popular indie rock band's major label debut Plans beyond "Marching Bands In Manhattan," and the record made us miss the Death Cab of We Have The Facts And We're Voting Yes. Or even Transatlanticism, of which we were surprised to read recently there is some perception out there that the record is slagworthy. What? The Seattle quartet's next record, its second for Atlantic, is as-yet untitled and is slated for a May release.

>> Wow, Warner Music Group's ADA distro arm bought Insound.com, according to this bit at GloNo. Hope all those old school Insound dudes got paid, assuming they are still with the company. The full story, such as it is, is at Billboard.biz here.

January 3, 2008

Best Of 2006 Addendum: She, Sir's Who Can't Say Yes

She, Sir
Is it too late to update our best-of list for 2006? Is it cheating to add a two-year-old EP to our 2008 list? We're certainly skeptical that 2008 will offer many releases that top Austin, Texas-based She Sir's Who Can't Say Yes, which somehow slipped past our radar many moons ago. Until November, in fact, when at a friend's recommendation we purchased the 2006 set. It has been blowing our minds consistently ever since. Coincidentally, the last time we told you to drop everything and run, don't walk, to buy a record was when we first got wind of another Texas shoegazer's beautiful noise (that band, of course, was Ringo Deathstarr). And we're doing it again. You must own Who Can't Say Yes. The band claims that they are almost out of copies, so don't blow this. The EP is a superlative document of '90s-style American indie shoegaze the likes of which you haven't heard since the first Lilys full-length In The Presence Of Nothing. Yeah, we said it.

Who Can't Say Yes has got murmured vocals, big guitars and melodies and just the right amount of reverb to make the whole set float, when it isn't hitting a crushing crescendo. The EP opens with the gentle rocker "I Love You, Blowtorch Eyes" and unfurls in a series of seven winners from there. The very good news is that according to Russell Karloff, one half of She, Sir's core duo, the band is in the process of recording a full-length record and has contracted for the services of Erik Wofford, a producer who has worked on records by Explosions In The Sky, Voxtrot and Snowden. The proposed set is a concept album titled Go Guitars, and we'll be sure to keep you abreast of information about its release as it becomes available. Below we are posting an MP3 of "It's My Way Of Staying Connected," a track from Who Can't Say Yes that burbles and sways and explodes in very pleasant ways. Do check it out.

She, Sir -- "It's My Way Of Staying Connected" -- Who Can't Say Yes
[right click and save as]
[buy Who Can't Say Yes from the band right here]

She, Sir: Interweb | MySpace | YouTube | Flickr

January 2, 2008

Today's Hotness: Hisoft, The Wannadies

>> We've been informed that Steve Keller -- who had drummed for Philadelphia dream poppers Hisoft as well as the Precollections-era iteration of Kurt Heasley's inveterately chameleonesque band Lilys -- died Dec. 23. Linked above is an undated video of Hisoft performing the amazing track "Josef Albers," which was released as the flip of a single by The Low Numbers, a defunct precursor band to Hisoft. We just got our hands on the song after scouring the Internets for several years; longtime readers will recall these posts. As part of all the snooping about online referenced in those links we got in touch with someone who had a cache of Low Numbers recordings, including the aforementioned "Josef Albers," which we were thrilled to finally receive last week. The aforementioned track was the b-side to the "Telekom" single released on Pittsburgh's Numeric label in the late '90s, although the song clearly maintained some currency with Low Numbers and Hisoft fronter Gerhardt Koerner, as Hisoft continued to perform the number. The act released its sole EP Amateur in 2006 on Chocolate Hearts and if you don't own it you need to seriously reconsider what your priorities are in life. Anyway, sad news. While we don't know if Mr. Keller drummed on the recording, for what it is worth here's an MP3 of "Josef Albers," regarding which there is no information anywhere (we mean anywhere, not GEMM, not MusicStack.com) about purchasing the song or the "Telekom" single. Like many great songs, it would seem to have disappeared with the 20th Century.

The Low Numbers -- "Josef Albers" -- "Telekom" b/w "Josef Albers" single
[right click and save as]

>> It is a strange feeling indeed when one learns that one's favorite acts have been around for 20 years. This landmark is being claimed by :: clicky clicky :: fave Swedish indie rockers The Wannadies. The band's song "Hit" is a high water mark, and the video for same made such a strong impression on us one rainy day in Amsterdam that we insisted on watching MTV Europe until the clip rotated back through the lineup once more. We seem to talk about this song or video at least three or four times a year, and we highly recommend watching the video, as the song is one of a handful that never fail to incite an urge to smash things every time we hear it. Anyway, an email from the band reports that Wannadies will issue an EP of new material this year as well as a hits compilation, although the cool kids among you should already own the self-titled 1997 set that RCA foisted on America that mashed up some Wannadies records and singles and is probably a servicable proxy for a hits collection. Since the last Wannadies record was issued in 2003 fronter Par Wiksten has kept busy producing and writing tracks for acts including Bosses Vanner and Edith. So there. When we learn more about the EP we'll let you know.

January 1, 2008

Today's Hotness: Piebald, Frightened Rabbit, The Get Quick

Piebald>> Two stories of note over at Pun Canoes recently. First, here is news that defunct Boston emo concern Piebald will reform for a single gig April 18 at The Middle East Rock Club in Cambridge, Mass. Piebald most recently called it quits in mid-2007 after releasing its seventh long-player Accidental Gentlemen. In August we took time out here to praise the band's excellent track "'Grace Kelly With Wings," the opening track on the band's 1999 sophomore set. In unrelated news, a 1999 documentary about the New York City hardcore punk scene, appropriately titled N.Y.H.C., is being reissued in a special two-DVD set March 25. The set focuses on acts including Murphy's Law, Cro-Mags, 108, Madball and Vision Of Disorder and includes bonus live footage of featured bands performing complete songs, as well as other bonus footage and deleted scenes. The second disc includes new interviews. You can read more information here and here.

>> So it turns out that, at least according to this post at Hearsay (which points to this post at Scottish music blog The Pop Cop), the forthcoming sophomore set from Glaswegian indie rock trio Frightened Rabbit is titled Midnight Organ Fighting. As we reported here before our year-end break, look for the set to be released in the U.S. in early March prior to the South By Southwest music confab.

>> Action is afoot in the The Get Quick camp. Go to the band's MySpace dojo and stream the scorcher "Change Of Scene," which may be (and certainly sounds like) a holdover from the quartet's former iteration as Philadelphia's MantaRay in the '90s. "Change Of Scene" is pilled up and scritchy attitude and a total thrill ride. While you are over there check out the track "The City Of Perpetual Mist" as well. You'll be glad you gave the band a couple minutes of your time. The band's 2007 set See You In The Crossfire was released to utter silence from the blogosphere (except for our coverage, of course). This is too bad, because there are a number of high points, although the record wasn't as consistent as The Get Quick's 2005 debut How The Story Goes. Here's one track from each record.

The Get Quick -- "The Blinds" -- See You In The Crossfire
The Get Quick -- "Blaue Reiter" -- How The Story Goes
[right click and save as]
[buy Get Quick records from Newbury Comics right here]

>> We are about midway through the eminently readable Motley Crue bio "The Dirt," which made this item at Buddyhead jump out at us. Apparently "The Dirt" is being dramatized for a film expected to be released in 2009. The most interesting thing about that is Christopher Walken is rumored to be committed to portray Ozzy Osbourne. Val Kilmer, who hasn't made a compelling movie since 1985's "Real Genius," may portray delightful Van Halen fronter David Lee Roth, which somehow doesn't seem too far off the mark to us. More info here and here.