May 31, 2008

Today's Hotness: Johnny Foreigner, She, Sir, Armalite

>> This is our 900th post. And that only counts Blogger posts. Factoring the old home-made Comcast sites and posts to Junkmedia's World Of Sound blog and various other stints and guest positions and, well, we sort of wonder whether we would have been better off devoting the time to learning tennis or something. OK, that's not true. We like rock.

>> If you live in the U.K. you have many things for which to be thankful, nationalized health care among them. But also there is the small matter of the release of Birmingham, England indie titans Johnny Foreigner's full-length debut. Waited Up 'Til It Was Light is released by Best Before Records Monday. We haven't heard the set ourselves (well, at least not all together in a row with the CD case in our hands), but the acclaim seems largely positive, although not as effusive as it was for the release of the band's annihilating Arcs Across The City EP. Even so, it is understandable that faced with the task of releasing its first full-length, the trio might end up with one or two tracks that are less than stellar in the running order. That said, Waited Up 'Til It Was Light is some 13 songs in length -- the band could have easily held some back, but that's never been Johnny Foreigner's style. The deal has always been that the band writes songs and presents them and fans listen to them. Recall that this is an act that gave away a 16-song demo for free, and at least in the good old days would just email the tracks to you. So despite some criticism of certain tracks on the new record (even we are not crazy about "DJs Get Doubts," although there was a time when we were on the fence about "Henning's Favorite," which of course we grew past), we remain largely excited to hear the entire thing from start to finish. And with huge tracks such as "Salt, Pepa And Spindarella," "Eyes Wide Terrified" and "Our Bipolar Friends," Waited Up 'Til It Was Light already has hits to spare. Speaking of "Eyes Wide Terrified," the band recorded a version of the track last fall for a Radio One session and we, uh, borrowed it from the band's MySpace player for safe-keeping. It is slightly different from the album version, and we're posting it below. It's brilliant, and every time Alexei gets to the lines "I'm not that lucky, these t-shirts don't fold themselves" we get chills.

Johnny Foreigner -- "Eyes Wide Terrified" -- Radio One session
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[buy Waited Up 'Til It Was Light from RecordStore.Co.Uk right here even though with the exchange rate suckage; and the economy generally in the crapper; and with the fuel crisis likely never resolving because we are all fat slobs who can't ride a bike; you should instead use the money to buy groceries or a hand-cranked radio or whatnot]

>> Austin, Texas-based shoegaze supergeniuses She, Sir are featured here in a new interview segment at something called Vimby. The core duo of Russell Karloff and M. Grusha discuss its glorious 2006 EP Who Can't Say Yes and the forthcoming full-length Go Guitars. Having loved and lost a great shoegaze band many times before, we are slightly concerned, as the new set is apparently a departure from the '90s-referencing shoegaze sounds of the EP and will feature fewer guitars and broader instrumentation, including brass and woodwinds. "On the newer stuff we're doing, you know, we're sort of taking it back even further, trying to bring back a real sort of vintage, kind of a '60s sound, you know, trying to bring back a lot of that professionalism I think has somehow been lost since the '60s," Mr. Karloff tells the invisible Vimby interviewer. The apparent stylistic shift conjurs memories of RIDE's unforgivable 1994 mis-step Carnival Of Light. That said, we haven't heard any of the forthcoming She, Sir and it could very well be amazing. It certainly sounds interesting. "I'm hoping that there won't be much guitar in this at all, which I'm looking forward to as a contrast from the EP," Karloff continues in the video. "We're bringing in flutes, oboes, I think there's going to be an accordion in there, french horn, in addition to that we'll have a stack of vocals, you know, females, guys, crowds."

>> Hardcore supergroup Armalite -- which features former Fracture/Atom And His Package dude (and hockey fan) Atom Goren and that guy Dan Yemin who is in every great Jersey hardcore band -- will play a rare show at Richmond, Virginia's Best Friends Day festival. Curiously, the festival is actually three days long, Friday Aug. 15 through Sunday Aug. 17. This is the festival's eighth year, and seventh with music; more details here. Armalite's Armalite was one of our favorite records of 2006; read the whole list here.

Armalite -- "I Am A Pancreas (I Seek to Understand Me)" -- Armalite
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[buy Armalite from No Idea Records here]

May 28, 2008

Today's Hotness: Community Gun, The Orchid Highway

Community Gun
>> We've consumed some writing on the Internerdz that suggests that sounding like The Libertines is a bad thing. Or, more precisely, we think the beefing we've read is that there were too many British acts trying to sound like The Libertines for a while. Frankly, we hadn't noticed, and we think that if anyone should have a complaint along those lines, it should be about all the bands that seemed to spring up in the wake of Bloc Party's huge success with very Bloc Party-influenced tunes. Anyway, there is a band in some part of New York called Community Gun. And while the quartet has a few different things going on (including a "blues thing" and a "Tom Waits thing") the stuff of theirs we respond to the most is the upbeat, gritty rockers. And yes, that stuff sort of sounds like Pete Doherty's Libertines. Below we've posted the concise, mumbling Community Gun stomper "Wasted." The band is giving its entire EP away for free, so if you dig the track, grab the whole thing at the link provided.

Community Gun -- "Wasted" -- EP
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[download the entire EP here]

>> We typically steer clear of the teeming throngs of powerpop acts because often we have trouble finding something more interesting than obvious Beatles influences in the music. That said, we've kept an ear on what the Rainbow Quartz label releases ever since they put out a Lilys record; the fact the label has released albums from hometown friends The Get Quick doesn't hurt, either. All that said, we're grooving to the forthcoming self-titled set from Vancouver's The Orchid Highway. The quintet, which features the three brothers MacDonald, releases its record June 10 (although elsewhere the release date is given as May 13). And curiously, despite the band apparently forming in 1994, this is its debut long-player. The lead single and blogosphere-approved promo track "Next World" presents a winning concoction of punchy bass work, 12-string and tremelo-wracked guitars and vocal harmonies. While we also like the rocker "The Medicine Tree" and the slower ballad "Let's Stay In Instead," The Orchid Highway isn't a bulletproof set -- we're not crazy about the lead track "Sofa Surfer Girl." Despite our wish that the band sequenced the set differently, there's still a bunch of good Revolver-referencing powerpop to be had here.

The Orchid Highway -- "Next World" -- The Orchid Highway
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[pre-order The Orchid Highway here]

>> Just about a week after griping about the lack of a sophomore set from left coast nu-gazers Darker My Love, we are in receipt of news about said record. It is titled 2; it was produced by one of the cats in Silversun Pickups; it may or may not include contributions from recently acquired organist/clavietist Will Canzoneri; and it will be issued by Dangerbird Aug. 5. The first single from 2 is "Blue Day," and it is being made available in the extremely unhip Windows Media Audio format. So unhip is the format, in fact, that we aren't offering up the track. Just stream it at the band's MySpace dojo right here. "Blue Day" certainly grooves, and there is a screamy guitar solo that is awesome but mixed too low. Speaking of, the mix is patient and the song builds nicely at the end of the bridge. "Blue Day" kind of reminds us of the second Stone Roses record -- not bad, just not what we expected at first. We'll be interested to hear more.

Darker My Love -- "Blue Day[stream]" -- 2

May 27, 2008

YouTube Rodeo: Hip Young Things' "Gizmo" Live

Readers may recall we included under-known German act Hip Young Things in a recent Muxtape, and truth be told we mention the band every year or two because of our affinity for their 1994 set Shrug, and because we figured out several years ago that the band included future Schneider TM principal Dirk Dresselhaus. But we digress. It never occurred to us to look for video clips of Hip Young Things until this evening. But here they are performing the upbeat strummer "Gizmo" at a club that we presume to be in Germany. The performance isn't all that remarkable, but the existence of the footage is. That said, the clip has some amusing footage inserted. And we are always amused how 20-something indie rockers the world over tend to look the same no matter what country. Anyway, enjoy the tune.

May 25, 2008

Muxtape No. 7: Talked Myself To Sleep

Malevich_Landscape_With_Yellow_House-DETAIL[IMAGE: Kasimir Malevich "Landscape With Yellow House," courtesy Wikimedia Commons] We're back on the allergy medicine this week, so we are sort of floating in space, which we think this mix suggests. Which begs the question: why we didn't include anything from Spiritualized's Ladies And Gentlemen, We Are Floating In Space? Alas, hindsight is 20/20. Here is the link to our weekly Muxtape.
1. Frightened Rabbit -- "The Twist (Demo)"
(A kool kat out there in musicland sent us a bunch of demos that Frightened Rabbit had recorded for the excellent set The Midnight Organ Fight, which was released in April. Or was supposed to be issued in April, the date was pushed back, but we're fairly certain the record is finally out now. The band plays Great Scott in Boston Monday night, which normally would be an ideal time for us, but sadly the show conflicts with a visit from Clicky Clicky Mom, so we are going to pass as much as it pains us. We've already heard rumors of the band's return to town for another date, so we'll just have to redouble our efforts then. Anyway, about the demo: we love the little piano twitter laid over the thrumming rhythm.)

2. Mantissa -- "Modesto" -- Building A Working Model
(We wanted to include this jam here because there is a chord change in the chorus similar to one in the Frightened Rabbit tune. Also it is an under-rated track from an under-rated album made by one of the most recognizable singers in indie rock. Chicagoland indie rock fans may recall Brian McGrath's rasp from the excellent and similarly under-known trio Wendyfix. "Modesto" is not one of the "hits" from Working Model, but placed in a new context it is a surprisingly vital indie rock number.)

3. The Halo Benders -- "Bomb Shelter Part 1" -- Don't Tell Me Now
(Time was we thought this pairing of Beat Happening's Calvin Johnson and Built To Spill's Doug Martsch was too much of a clash. But Don't Tell Me Now collects so many irresistible tracks we've come back to it regularly over the last decade. As an added bonus, in the second chorus that woman with the heavenly voice from, ummm, Heavenly chimes in.)

4. The Royal We -- "All The Rage" -- Single
(Delicious single released last September from a Glaswegian septet whose story we think goes a little like this: band forms, agrees to break up after releasing a record, band garners fans with single and charisma, band releases record and breaks up, true to their word. This number has sass, pep and hand-claps to spare, and there is actually an entertaining video for it to which you can watch here).

5. Haywood -- "Come On Tell The Truth" -- We Are Amateurs, You And I
(One of the many fine moments recorded by Haywood Mach II on its first posthumous release. We remember one of the guys deeming this track as having the "classic Haywood" composition and vibe, and perhaps that's true. Although we don't hear any of the cute half-smiles in the lyric here that Mr. Pauly often uses to shade the emotion of a song. So in a sense this song is an unflinching hard stare at a disappointing situation. Which fits, considering the song's quiet demand for an answer.)

6. Swearing At Motorists -- "Being In Love"
(If memory serves, at one point Swearing At Motorists' Dave Doughman moved to Berlin, Germany and started recording songs in the Weinmeisterstrasse Ubahnhof rail station after it shut down for the night. And we have to believe that this track is a result of one such recording session (although the track wasn't on Exile On Gipsatrasse -- link), what with the amazing reverb and ambient noise. A fairly harrowing take on being consumed by love, but beautiful as well. Well, we just actually did the research and apparently the track is a cover of a song by Songs:Ohia and was issued on a comp. Who knew?)

7. Hurl -- "Dual Showman" -- "Madison Earful" single
(Devastating slowcore. Noisy bookends. Seems to recast the emotions of the Swearing At Motorists track as bold, quasi-Suprematist slashes of melody. Single released on My Pal God, one of the few labels that makes its vinyl singles from the '90s available digitally.)

8. Bottomless Pit -- "Human Out Of Me" -- Hammer Of The Gods
(The pop-and-lock layers of guitar and bass in "Dual Showman" suggested this number to us. Except there is an ease to the rhythm that injects substantially more levity into the proceedings. Bottomless Pit tours this summer and is about to released an EP titled Congress. The extended player will contain the tracks "Red Pen," "Fish Eyes," "Pitch" and "Angry Swan." It is available for pre-order now, will be issued digitally by Comedy Minus One June 1, and will be available on vinyl (with CD included) July 16 directly from the band. If you pre-order prior to June 1 you get the vinyl and CD and shipping for $9.50 total. More info here.)

9. Bloc Party -- "Like Eating Glass" -- Silent Alarm
(This one's a rocker, and we figured we needed to throw a rocker in right here.)

10. Slicker -- "FrustRache" -- The Latest
(Exquisite minimal electronic jam from the son of the guy who made all your favorite '80s movies. One of those records we first heard on the hi-fi at a record store (the erstwhile Harvard Square location of Other Music) and purchased on the spot. The Latest captured the zeitgeist of the times as far as electronic music goes, although we've never claimed to have more than a cursory mastery of what's going on in the scene. Recommended if you like Bruno Pronsato and vice versa.)

11. Benge -- "Eve's Escape Valve" -- Meme Tunes
(More minimal, yet more lush and with more melody. A good allergy medicine anthem. Again something in the rhythm and chimes suggested the next song to us.)

12. Althea And Donna -- "Uptown Top Ranking"
(A sunshiney pop reggae gem apparently cut by two teenage girls in the late '70s. The pair was the youngest duo to ever reach the top of the British pop charts, which they did in 1978. There seems to be a fair amount of disagreement about whether the one woman's name is spelled with an "i" or an "e," although this very informative Wikipedia entry claims that the dual spellings were a mistake that somehow didn't stop the record from charting.)

May 22, 2008

Today's Hotness: Bridges And Powerlines, Darker My Love

Bridges And Powerlines
>> [PHOTO: Ana Blohm] One record we've been enjoying no small amount recently was sent to us by the fellows in Bridges And Powerlines. The set is called Ghost Types and it is filled with big, melodic rockers. Point of interest: Keyboardist and singer Andrew Wood sounds inescapably like Robert Pollard in places, but that, of course, is a plus. Musically the three-year-old foursome leans heavier on synth in places than GBV ever has, but Bridges And Powerlines is no synth-rock act. Instead, the band crafts strident numbers with balanced arrangements that allow push and pull between guitar, bass and synth, with urgent vocal harmonies embellishing the entire proceedings. And there's still room for some quirk, like the stumbling, "Caterpillar"-esque piano in the verse of "Half A Cent" (or did we just hallucinate that?). Album closer "The Last Equation" simply smokes. Another favorite, "Middle Child," swoops in and out on fuzzy synth slithers and then drops nicely into a rocking gear with a descending vocal hook that sounds lifted from the old, good R.E.M. The band has graciously allowed us to post that track, so grab it below and have a listen. Ghost Types was issued April 22 on Citybird.

Bridges And Tunnels -- "Middle Child" -- Ghost Types
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[buy Ghost Types from Insound right here]

>> We've been waiting so long -- so very long -- to hear the follow-up to Darker My Love's self-titled set that we'll take anything at this point. While it may not be true, we feel like we hear from a publicist every few months promising that the thing is coming out, yet still there is nothing. Given the precarious position the record business has found itself in this decade, perhaps it should be no surprise that we finally are hearing something from the L.A.-based nu-gaze rockers via a sneaker company promotion. PF Flyers has partnered with Dangerbird Records to promote "the archival release of the 1956 Bob Cousy All-American," and as part of the promotion four bands including Darker My Love have recorded a version of a song originally released in 1956. DML's tune is a slow, reverby take on Sanford Clark's rockabilly hit "The Fool," and it is totally righteous in a sorta Mogwai (i.e. stoned), sorta Spiritualized (i.e. reverent) kinda way. We're posting "The Fool" below; three additional tracks from other Dangerbird acts can be had right here. And for the record, we reviewed Darker My Love's self-titled set here in 2006.

Darker My Love -- "The Fool" -- PF Flyers Modern 56 Promotion
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[more free rock and roll music right here]

>> Former Small Factory/Godrays fronter Alex Kemp has just posted a new track to his MySpace dojo right here. "From Someone Who Knows" has a jazzy piano lead and omniscient strings riding the mix, but at its core there's Mr. Kemp strumming a guitar and, if you want, you can sort of hear a Small Factory song hiding in there. But the thing is, this arrangement is really good. It feels nice and full like a plastic bag holding cool water. It's been a while since we checked in on Mr. Kemp's goings on, so there are a few other tunes posted at MySpace that were new to us. One we've heard before, "Misery Of Others," is available for download, so we're posting it below. The sum total of all this new music gives us hope that this guy will finally get a record out. As we reported here many moons ago when we wrote under someone else's shingle, Kemp had been playing with Chicago synth-poppers Assassins.

Alex Kemp -- "Misery Of Others" -- MySpace download
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While You Were Out: The Return Of Belaire

>> Could there be more be any more synths in the newest iteration of Austin, Texas-based synthpop act Belaire? When we last wrote about the band here two years ago it had just gone on hiatus and had intended to complete a full-length follow up to the very nice self-titled 2005 EP. Funny thing about the band, which we think has shared members with Voxtrot at some point: according to this post Belaire was the whole reason we broke down and joined MySpace in 2005. Anyway, apparently the planned full-length was released while our eye was off the ball: it is called Exploding, Impacting and it was issued in 2007 on Indierect (and we just mail-ordered it).

The latest and greatest about the band is that it has a new line-up: a quintet including three synth players, a bassist/guitarist and a drummer. The act played a reunion show at the Mohawk club in Austin last month, and it plans to head out on tour next month; full tour dates are below. The video clip above is from the reunion gig, wherein they play the EP highlight "Back Into The Wall." Head over to Belaire's MySpace wigwam here where you will find all manner of new music -- at least new to us -- to listen to. Below we've posted the bouncy and curiously acoustic guitar-led delight "You Really Got Me Goin.'" Although now that we think about it, "Ces Mots" from the EP had acoustic guitar in it. Anyhoo, here is your indie pop.

Belaire -- "You Really Got Me Goin'" -- Exploding, Impacting
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[buy Belaire records from Indierect right here]

06/10 -- Emo’s -- Austin, TX
06/25 -- Star Bar -- Atlanta, GA
06/27 -- Cake Shop -- New York City, NY
06/28 -- Market Hotel -- Brooklyn, NY
06/29 -- The Red and The Black -- Washington, DC
06/30 -- Go Bar -- Athens, GA
07/19 -- Pitchfork after-party in Chicago -- Chicago, IL

May 20, 2008

Free Range Music: Spiritualized, The Futureheads, The Cure

>> Hey, remember when we'd do all those Free Range Music posts listing off worthwhile album streams and such suchness? Those were good times, right? Let's endeavor to resuscitate that, shall we? Jason Spaceman fans will be pleased to know that they can stream the new Spiritualized set Songs In A And E at the band's MySpace apothecary right here. It is funny, the little ways in which Mr. Spaceman -- or his label's marketing department -- trades on the man's past. For example, said MySpace page describes the act as Psychedelic/Experimental/Rock. And while we wouldn't quibble with that last genre, until the third track "Death Take Your Fiddle" the new record sounds like a straight, slightly overblown Britpop record, with the accent on pop. Thankfully, the proceedings get a lot more interesting very quickly, but are we over-generalizing if we say that Songs In A And E sounds like it could have been written and produced by Damon Albarn? This is not a slag; longtime readers will recall The Good, The Bad & The Queen's self-titled set was one of our favorites of 2006. But back to Spiritualized: as we are starting to come back around about saxophone in rock music, we're pleased to hear some bumping up the close of "I Gotta Fire." Songs In A And E will be issued in the U.S. by UMG May 27, and we think we might actually buy this one.

>> By supplying with a fake name and email address (call us Karl) one can gain access to streams of all the songs on the forthcoming set from fidgety Brit indie quartet The Futureheads. Unfortunately you will be forced to stream it in the relatively intolerable Windows Media Player, but what are you going to do, right? Anyway, we heard this morning on WMBR the second track from the forthcoming set, "Walking Backwards," on WMBR as we were shuttling to work and we were pleased to hear some of the vim and vigor of the 'Heads of old. Well, 2005 or so. So going through all the trouble of defrauding MTV and launching your Windows Media Player is worth it just to hear this song, although the title track with its waltz time pummellation in the chorus may eclipse it as the best number on the record. The Sunderland-based act issues its third set This Is Not The World on its own Nul Records on May 26 in the UK; not sure of the U.S. release date. The set was preceded by the single "Radio Heart," which of course you can stream at the same web site. Here's the link.

>> Don't feel bad if you are not among the cool kids that already know Bradley's Almanac is hosting here the entire three-hour live set performed by legendary alternative act The Cure in Boston earlier this month. It's filled with highlights, not the least of which is a scorching "From The Edge Of The Deep Green Sea." The epic-length set list is filled with gems. Anyway, in case you didn't know you can download the whole shebang right here. But if you are like us and are sick of downloading stuff unless you actually need to, let it be known you can also just stream the whole set at Hype Machine right here. Radical.

>> Speaking of free, we still have one copy of the forthcoming Julie Ocean record Long Gone And Nearly There waiting to be given away to the first person who emails us with the phrase "Ghost In The Mirror" in the subject line. C'mon, people, this isn't hard, and the disc is sitting on our desk at work waiting to go in the outbin. You can do this. Our email is in the sidebar.

May 19, 2008

YouTube Rodeo: Under-Rated Dinosaur Jr. Or "Whatever"

We remember that, when it hit retail racks, the Dinosaur Jr. EP (or was it marketed as a maxi-single? we think it was) Whatever's Cool With Me had a sticker on the shrink-wrap that clearly stated that the contents were absolutely NOT a new record. Being old and jaded we now wonder whether that was more for the benefit of the label, you know, whether they were just making sure J. didn't get the set counted as an album under the terms of his deliverables of his contract. But at the time we thought it was weird and a little unnecessary. Granted there were a lot of songs, a lot of great songs, some old and some new, on the short stack. And the cover picture of the grumpy, cute dog was a delight to behold. But still, we just didn't think anybody was going to mistake this for a new Dinosaur full-length. And the relatively remarkable sea change that Where You Been would manifest makes the idea sorta laughable that Whatever's Cool was the follow-up to the equally strong but in a sorta different way major label day-bew Green Mind. But now we're just blathering. The point of this post is exactly this: this is a really weird video for a really great song that we don't think gets enough props within the Dinosaur Jr. canon. Incidentally, the band kicks off the first of two legs of a European tour tomorrow night in Cologne, Germany.

Today's Hotness: Ned's Atomic Dustbin, Josh Rouse

>> [PHOTO CREDIT: Steve Gullick] We always feel like we have to defend our appreciation for Ned's Atomic Dustbin. We certainly can understand any sort of criticism of the N.A.D. t-shirt we once owned, particularly after we cut the sleeves off, but we expect such a fashion disaster can be chalked up to the confusing times. Mind you, this was an era during which we briefly owned purple overalls (they were "grungy," not "hip-hoppy"). For serious. But anyway, Ned's wrote some great indie rock songs, not the least of which is "Happy" from the band's 1991 full-length debut God Fodder. Twitter scrapers have seen the glee we experienced digging up video clips for the track Saturday. And so it was we stood up and took notice when the venerable NME reported here that the band would reform for a gig this winter. Of course, in perusing the offerings on YouTube Saturday that news is somewhat deflated by the fact that -- based on the videos we found -- the band had already reformed and played at least two gigs (Glastonbury, Stourbridge) last year. In fact, according to Wikipedia, the band plays a Christmas show *every year.* So there you go: a short story about N.A.D. reforming that is not really even a "story" at all in the journalistic sense. Oh wait, according to MySpace this year's reunion is, in fact, notable, in that it features the OL, a/k/a The Original Lineup. More details here. And here are links to the aforementioned clips that we enjoyed viewing: 1, 2.

>> We keep an eye on the efforts of indie folkster Josh Rouse, whose records Subtitulo and Country Mouse, City House are downright pleasant listens. So it was with interest that we read of Mr. Rouse's subscription service. This sort of digitally facilitated artist/fan relationship was something that interested our editors (and us) when we toiled away at a dot-com at the turn of the century. At the time the men at the vanguard of the movement were Todd Rundgren (hello, it's him; his dealy was called PatroNet), Robert Fripp (his dealy was called Disciplined Global Mobile) and Pat DiNizio of The Smithereens (we can't remember what his dealy was called). Anyway, according to Coolfer, Rouse's enterprise is called Bedroom Classics Closet Archives and it features a members-only download site including access to music and video for more than 100 songs. Certain subscribers get access to special albums and EPs. There are different membership tiers planned, although right now the only tier apparently available is $100 per annum. All very interesting, and the kind of thing we'd like to see a few of our favorite artists do. Read more details at the Coolfer post here. And here's the lead track from Mr. Rouse's 2005 set.

Josh Rouse -- "Quiet Town" -- Subtitulo
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[buy Josh Rouse records from Newbury Comics here]

>> As we tick down the days until June 2, when Johnny Foreigner's full-length debut hits stores in the U.K., we have been trying to ignore the leak of the album to the Internerds. But, in the interest of science, of course, we've heard a couple of the tracks. None of them have blown us away, but they are solid. We expect we'll be excited about the whole thing when it arrives, along with the single of "Eyes Wide Terrified," which we think streets tomorrow. Since we've ordered both the record and the single from the U.K., who knows when they will actually arrive, but it can't possibly take any longer than HMV. So we wait. One bright spot was guitarist and singer Alexei Berrow's song-by-song rundown of what to expect on the Birmingham, England-based trio's full-length, Waited Up 'Til It Was Light, which was published in Drowned In Sound here last week or the week before. It has somewhat taken the mystery out of the songs, but we expect they will stand up just fine without the added mystique.

>> Emusic's 17 Dots blog reports here that the digital music service will soon offer the catalog of highly regarded German electronic label Kompakt. We are excited about this because we are eager to acquire the five or so editions of the annual Pop Ambient compilation that we don't own. They were just so expensive as imports we gave up the chase, even gave up the scouring of the EBays and et ceteras of the electronic realm. 17 Dots says the acquisition of the catalog will be gradual, but, hey, we're patient.

May 18, 2008

Muxtape No. 6: The Plans That Had To Fall Through

Lefty's Deceiver -- Cheats (detail)
The weekend winds down at :: clicky clicky :: headquarters, but not before a new Muxtape has been posted for your listenification. Our thoughts, impressions, false memories and alleged recollections are below, and you can listen to the whole shebang right here.
1. Flaming Lips -- "Hit Me Like You Did The First Time" -- Hit To Death In The Future Head
(If you listen, this song has everything: piano, strings, slide guitar. And a provocative title to be sure, but at this stage in the band's career this was relatively tame, and the lyric makes it all innocent enough. Thrash is largely dialed back on this tune and what you have isn't an ode to masochism, just a whimsical, almost romantic request regarding those early days of a relationship. Or something. Flaming Lips gained acclaim at the end of the '90s, but more and more we believe people paid attention at the wrong end of the decade.)

2. Love As Laughter -- "I Am A Ghost" -- Laughter's Fifth
(We appreciate blunt declarative writing. This is one of the reasons we like legal writing. And of course the Wall Street Journal. Hell, it is the main reason we like Minor Threat's "Filler." This song is a far cry from "The Youth Are Plastic" and "Singing Sores," tracks from the band's debut in the mid-'90s. Here we have a scruffy, no-frills indie rocker with a great introduction -- a great set up for the ensuing bash n' pop. "I float throughout your house at parties." More people should be paying attention to Love As Laughter, whose sixth set is slated for release later this year.)

3. Karl Hendricks Trio -- "The Overweight Lovers" -- The Jerks Win Again
(We really wanted to post "The Summer Of Warm Beer," but the track -- from the same 2003 set -- is 13 minutes long and way over Muxtape's 10MB per track limit. But this song has its own substantial charms and presents a serviceable representation of the meandering electricity and riffage that characterizes this fine record.)

4. Lefty's Deceiver -- "Ex-Patriots" -- Cheats
(The final incarnation of Lefty's produced its most straightforward collection of songs. The lyrics on Cheats are compelling and particularly evocative, although the gut-level attack of early genius tracks like "H to Hg" is not left out either. It is hard to pick a favorite from Cheats, what with the hypnotic nostalgia of "Years And Years Ago," the affecting yearning of "East Coast Traffic." The chorus of this number provides us with the title of this Muxtape. The band reunited around last Thanksgiving for a single show and we missed it because we were out of town, which was disappointing. That said, there have only been a handful of shows that were as exciting as the record release party for the band's debut 45, which we did see, so we've got that going for us.)

5. Wendyfix -- "Over + Upward (Ridge)" -- King Size Demos
(A quick waltzer and a highlight of the esteemed and mostly unreleased discography of this erstwhile Evanston, Ill.-based trio. Particularly as the second verse rolls around the bass and guitar complement each other wonderfully in carrying the melody. Little idea what singer Ted Pauly is on about here, but we always thought it was something along the lines of construction equipment coming and leveling a nice place and replacing it with a newer, less nice place. "Powerless to stop progress..." and all that. Look for the video on YouTube.)

6. Luna -- "Sideshow By The Seashore" -- Live
(Originally on the self-titled EP whose cover took cues from the now largely forgotten soundtrack to the film "Kids." An EP we'd like to acquire in the popular compact disc format. Although the live set from which this track is taken is no slouch and has a whole lot of super tracks. We really like the lyric in here "all the comforting words provide no comfort." A sentiment that has been abstracted in countless other indie songs, here Wareham just comes out and says it.)

7. Lilys -- "Your Guest And Host" -- Eccsame The Photon Band
(A friend familiar with the early Lilys catalogue recently expressed some reservations about Eccsame The Photon Band, and we think this is too bad. The record is really a fully realized work of genius, not the least of which because of some uncompromising, spacey production. Although superlative songs certainly don't hurt, right? Few if any have presented a confidence-inspiring track list for this set, which includes a handful of interstitials. As such, every time we re-rip this CD (we're upgrading tracks to 192Kbps a bit at a time) the suggested track listing comes up slightly different. We ask this on the blog almost weekly, but when will someone figure out how to rescue the rights to the Lilys Spin Art catalogue from whatever bankruptcy-inspired purgatory contains it and offer up expanded reissues?)

8. Yo La Tengo -- "Tiny Birds" -- Summer Sun
(This record is relatively maligned within the Yo La Tengo canon, but there are actually quite a few tracks we come back to, particularly this one. Is McNew singing this one? We can't say his name any longer without thinking of the Danish band Mew and laughing, but that is another story altogether.)

9. Human Television -- "Look At Who You're Talking To" -- Look At Who You're Talking To
(Nice string arrangements here. Members of Human Television were part of one of the more recent iterations of Lilys. This track and the band's "In Front Of The House" share some lyrics, and we've always wondered which song came first. The latter tune is an upbeat indie popper, markedly different in tone from what is going on here. To quote John Bender in "The Breakfast Club," feeling bad feels pretty good.)

10. REM -- The Wrong Child -- Green
(Album track from the popular American alternative rock act Rapid Eye Movement, or something like that. The piano, twelve-string and strings do a good job of keeping the mandolin in check. Stipe's layered vocal is pretty affecting, particularly when he hits the chorus. We're not crazy about the soaring "okayyyyyyyyyy," but we expect that the lyric "I'm not supposed to be like this" resonated strongly with the late teen crowd when this set was released. It certainly did with us.)

11. Karate -- "What Is Sleep?" -- Karate
(Question number one on this Muxtape. We don't have any larger reason for including it here -- we're not suffering from insomnia or anything. We just think people have forgotten that the first few Karate records were filled with great songs. We saw Karate in 1997 before going to Europe back during the time when it was a four-piece act and they really tore it up. This number has arresting dynamics: the jarring breaks and the songwritery verses present a hard contrast; a love song you can rock out to; an indie power ballad. Not the mixtape-for-your-girlfriend slam dunk that "Today Or Tomorrow" is, but still a dynamite track.)

12. Eddyfink -- "Will I Get Through Today Without Being Kicked In The Knickers?"
(Question number two on this Muxtape. A hook-laden, jittery number from a now defunct act written for a compilation that celebrates a British telephonic information service. From what we recall you could either ring or text the service and it would provide an answer, for free or for a nominal fee. No matter. We love the paranoia of the title question -- not too mention the chorus's "I can't take this anymore" -- and we love thinking about what the person working the phones that day would think upon receiving such a question. The world view of the comically victimized makes for a very fertile set of parameters from a narrative standpoint. Surprisingly deft vocal harmonies for a rock band that isn't, you know, The Eagles, too.)

May 16, 2008

Today's Hotness: Lilys, Robert Pollard, Camper Van Beethoven

Lilys -- In The Presence Of Nothing
>> [UPDATED AGAIN] What you are looking at above is the Holy Grail. More precisely, it is a picture of a vinyl version of Lilys' 1992 masterwork In The Presence Of Nothing. We think you can tell it is the vinyl version because the cover art is different from the CD. In fact, 1992 being 16 years ago, we can't definitively say whether we've ever actually seen this cover art before now (even the official Slumberland Records discography only shows the art with which we are exceedingly familiar). Needless to say, this record is rare, having only been issued in an edition of 500 copies on vinyl (although the Slumberland site makes an ambiguous reference to a later vinyl edition from Spin Art that had "a normal LP picture sleeve;" according to this may have been a 1998 vinyl reissue -- did that actually happen?). And needless to say we are torn about whether we should bid on this or not. This may be our only chance to ever aquire this record, for which EBayer Mr--Morgan currently stands to reap USD$61, plus $4 for shipping. And currently, we twiddle our thumbs and watch and wait. Here's a marvelous track from the set below; you can download the amazing track "Claire Hates Me" at the Slumberland page here. [UPDATE: This ended up selling for USD$76 plus at least $4 shipping. Dang...][According to commenter Mike -- perhaps it is even Slumberland Mike? -- this cover above was from the 1998 reissue, so that must have been what the chap was selling. The original 1992 issue was a numbered edition of 500. And if anyone has one in good condition to sell us, you know where to reach us].

Lilys -- "Elizabeth Colour Wheel" -- In The Presence Of Nothing
[right click and save as]
[out of print. perhaps you can get a copy at MusicStack here?]

>> Seriously, how many hooks are in the newish Robert Pollard jam "Weatherman And Skin Goddess"? Every line is a hook. It's ridiculous. We were (obviously) taken with "Gratification To Concrete," which we posted last weekend. But "Weatherman And Skin Goddess" is like a five-and-a-half-minute-long concept record. It was initially issued on the eponymous EP as the first release of Mr. Pollard's newly minted Guided By Voices Records, but we didn't hear the track until digging into the promo of the forthcoming full-length Robert Pollard Is Off To Business on Thursday night. That full-length will be issued June 3. Brilliant, brilliant stuff. We uploaded "Weatherman And Skin Goddess" to our sadly neglected Imeem profile, so you can click here to catch a stream of the song. For those of you in the mood to download, has a whole sack of MP3s, including the very good "Supernatural Car Lover" from last years solid release Normal Happiness. If you missed it the first time around, check it out now.

Robert Pollard -- "Supernatural Car Lover" -- Normal Happiness
[right click and save as]
[buy Robert Pollard releases from Rockathon right here]

>> Legendary "college rock" band Camper Van Beethoven is marking a quarter century of existence by releasing a hits collection called Popular Songs June 24. The set includes original and re-recorded versions of classics including "Take The Skinheads Bowling," "All Her Favorite Fruit" and "When I Win The Lottery," among others. Five songs originally released on the Virgin-issued sets Our Beloved Revolutionary Sweetheart and Key Lime Pie were re-recorded because Virgin refused to allow them to be included in the set, which will be issued by Cooking Vinyl. We sure wish some agreement could be reached regarding those Virgin titles, because if any two albums (well, besides the two My Bloody Valentine sets that will be reissued next month) were screaming to be reissued, it is those two. We promise we'll buy them, Mr. Branson. Here's our favorite CVB jam as offered by's Live Music Archive.

Camper Van Beethoven -- "All Her Favorite Fruit (Live)" -- Catalyst, Santa Cruz, CA, July 20, 1989
[right click and save as]
[get the whole set from the Live Music Archive here]

May 15, 2008

Reader Rewards: Win Julie Ocean's Long Gone And Nearly There

>> [UPDATE: We have a winner -- congratulations Jake Oomar!]One of the bigger records of the year to date is Julie Ocean's immaculate indie pop gem Long Gone And Nearly There. The D.C.-based act's debut long-player isn't due in stores until May 27, but as of today it is available on ITunes and EMusic. Readers may recall we reviewed the record here in early April, at which time we said -- among other things -- that "the relatively new quartet succeeds marvelously, as evidenced by the exuberant and winsome indie pop..." Through the magic of multiple publicists working the record -- which is being released by Philadelphia powerpop label Transit Of Venus -- we've got a copy to give away and we're giving it away right now. The first reader to email us (our email is in the sidebar) with the phrase "Ghost In The Mirror" in the subject line will receive a brand spanking new copy of the CD from us in the mail next week. It's that simple. We'll update this item as soon as there is a winner. If you're itching to see Julie Ocean -- which incidentally features former members of Velocity Girl, Glo-worm and Swiz -- ply their pop in a live performance, the band has two live engagements booked: a CD release show at Iota in Arlington, Virginia on the 6th; and a gig with Half Japanese at Rock And Roll Hotel in D.C. July 11. If you want to try before you buy -- or try before you win -- here once again is the MP3 for the infectious toe-tapper "Number 1 Song" below.

Julie Ocean -- "Number 1 Song" -- Long Gone And Nearly There
[right click and save as]
[buy Long Gone And Nearly There from EMusic here]

Julie Ocean: Internets | MySpace | YouTube | Flickr

May 13, 2008

Today's Hotness: Maybe It's Reno, CocoRosie, Nosferatu D2

Maybe It's RenoMaybe It's Reno
"Gravestones and Christmas Trees" (mp3)
from Maybe It's Reno
(Teenbeat Records)
Buy at iTunes Music Store
More On This Album

>> We were holding the new record from former Unrest bassist Bridget Cross in our hands Sunday and we opted to put it down in order to get deluxe editions of certain records we name below. Well, we also put it down because it was selling for $13, which for a cheapskate like us with a substantial music buying habit is 30% more than we are comfortable spending on a single CD. But anyway, after hearing the promo track "Gravestones And Christmas Trees" and streaming samples from Ms. Cross' new set under the moniker Maybe It's Reno we are strongly questioning that decision, as the music is superlative. Cross is joined on the self-titled set at various times by her former Unrest bandmates Mark Robinson, who also runs Teenbeat Records, and drummer Phil Krauth. Everybody thank IODA Promonet for the MP3 on the count of three: 1, 2, 3.

>> We have strong opinions about luxury brands, particularly relative to their utility and perceived importance in a world filled with catastrophe, disease and starvation. If you think we're being overly dramatic we invite you to click over to The Washington Post web site to look at the photo stream it posted today of body parts and shattered buildings in China. All that said, this animation created to glorify a certain "high-end" "fashion" "line" is mesmerizing. And the soundtrack was created by Brooklyn-based sister act CocoRosie. The duo's most recent set The Adventures of Ghost Horse And Stillborn was issued by Touch + Go in April 2007. You may recall this song being on it.

CocoRosie -- "Rainbowarriors" -- The Adventures of Ghost Horse And Stillborn
[right click and save as]
[buy CocoRosie recordings from Newbury Comics here]

>> This Crave item about new and improved Tamagotchis seems an appropriate enough reason to post the mighty Nosferatu D2's incredible "Broken Tamagotchi." So here it is below. Holy cow that band -- now sadly defunct -- was good. You can download a whole mess of Nosferatu D2 stuff from the band's Last.FM page here. And for those of you not familiar with our prior posts praising all things Ben Parker [1, 2, 3], you can follow Mr. Parker's latest musical exploits as Superman Revenge Squad here.

Nosferatu D2 -- "Broken Tamagotchi" -- Nosferatu D2
[right click and save as]
[download an album's worth of amazing material from Last. FM at the links above]

May 11, 2008

Muxtape #5: Just Like You Said, Everything Is Happening

As promised to Twitter scrapers and Facebook noseys, here is the link to the new Muxtape. Assorted notes and musings below.
1. Come -- "Yr Reign" -- Don't Ask, Don't Tell
(In an era of good feel-bad songs, this one might take the cake. Perhaps the closest Come gets to sounding like Nirvana, with the same sort of primordial, the-gods-are-against-me pathos. The title to this Muxtape comes from the terribly affecting lyric in this number. This song is a four-minute rain of sledgehammers with the word "BUMMER" embossed on one of the long dimensions.)

2. Moped -- "Does Your Back Hurt?" -- It Won't Sound Any Better Tomorrow
(We saw what might have been the final Moped show at Philadelphia's Silk City Lounge. They may or may not have opened for Idaho, those dudes with all the custom four-string guitars. We requested this song. And then they played it. And for a moment we had the world by the tail. This whole song is a best part, but perhaps the best part of the best part is the screamed backing vocal in one of the final verses. Exhilarating. We used to scream along in our silver Volvo sedan after charging 12 packs of beer to the family gas card when we were sequestered in Virginia. A memory that makes us wonder where our copy of Bardo Pond's Amanita is.)

3. Drop Nineteens -- "Delaware" -- Delaware
(Title track from important record from erstwhile Boston act. Not as catchy as "Winona" and not as epic as "Kick The Tragedy," but even so this song provides the blueprints to the exceptional first iteration of this band. With My Bloody Valentine reunited and hosting that jawn in New York state in September -- which we can't go to because of work -- and with Lilys now on the bill, the only thing that would make our non-attendance at the event more tragic would be if Drop Nineteens reformed to play this record front to back.)

4. Kimbashing -- "Ultraeasy" -- Parades Of Homes EP
(We loved the K logo this band used. The act featured future members of every Philly band except the ones you were in. We recall there was a Pro-Teen single these guys did that had a blue sleeve, and if you really want to be our friend you'll email us MP3s of that. There also may have been a 10-inch, although we may be confusing Kimbashing with Buddy Sevaris on that one. Anyway, this song requires playback at heroic volumes so the churning muck of the guitars rises to waist-level. An argument could be made that this is the best track on the Parade Of Homes vinyl EP, as Haywood's "Devon Lanes" ends up sounding relatively one-dimensional compared to the exceptional material that followed it, and Barnabys/Sweeney never quite got a version of "Tiny Ships" recorded that matched the live versions we witnessed.)

5. Drunk -- "Gizmo" -- A Derby Spiritual
(Mrs. Clicky Clicky says this song sounds like it should have been on "The Muppet Movie" soundtrack. And of course she's right. Incidentally, word is our boss' cousin, who you know from popular movies and television programs, has inked an agreement to write a new script for the Muppets film franchise. Anyway, back to Drunk. This track graced an early Jagjaguwar release. When we lived in Virginia the dude who ran Jagjaguwar was the graphic designer at the arts weekly where we sold classified ads. We can't remember any of the other tracks on the record, as this song eclipses them all.)

6. Hip Young Things -- "Gizmo" -- Shrug
(This German act's record seems largely overlooked, which is too bad. It was released around 1995 and is on par with the 18th Dyes and occasionally even the Pavements of the era. We select this one because it is good, and also because it is interesting to hear two songs named "Gizmo" in a row. Every band should have a song named "Gizmo.")

7. The 6ths -- "Falling Out Of Love (With You)" -- Wasps' Nest
(Dean Wareham sings Stephin Merrit, to thrilling effect, if your idea of a thrill is hearing songs that are sad delivered by a guy who does deadpan better than most, probably without trying.)

8. Ted Minsky -- "Porque No Hablo" -- Madame Le Ted
(A curveball track from a record filled with curveballs. We've searched the Internetz now and again to see if Ms. Minsky ever released another record besides this one on the Austrian Angelika Kohlermann label, but we never find anything. Which is too bad. This record is special.)

9. Spoon -- "Me And The Bean" -- Girls Can Tell
(Many of the songs on this Muxtape were selected in response to having watched the popular film "There Will Be Blood" Friday night. The line "I have your blood inside my heart" in this track has particular relevance. We just received our copy of the vinyl reissue of Girls Can Tell and have been enjoying it thoroughly.)

10. Blonde Redhead -- "Jetstar" -- Zero Hour Threadwaxing Space compilation
(The stylistic development of Blonde Redhead is fairly remarkable if one stops to think about it. Nothing they've done this decade has really resonated with us, but there was a time in the mid-'90s when the band was dark, dangerous and boundlessly sexxy with two x's. That time was probably after this song was recorded, as we pinpoint it to the material released on the peerless La Mia Vita Violenta record. But still, this is a stirring ballad.)

11. Crooked Fingers -- "When U Were Mine" -- Reservoir Songs
(Bachmann's spin on Prince's classic is revelatory. Great backing vocal in here. If anything, Bachmann's sorrowful take seems more appropriate to Prince's tale of the lover that would not be controlled, and the lovee too weak-willed to do anything about it.)

12. Palace -- "You Have *** In Your Hair And Your D*ck Is Hanging Out" -- Arise Therefore
(This is one of the songs that plays in the movie adaptation of the sequel to your life. Incidentally, you've been chosen as an extra. You have just been told off in the hotel lobby right in front of all the bellboys and the over-friendly concierge. She walks out. This is the saddest song ever recorded, and something about the weird mix of Oldham's voice, the creaky first-wave drum machine, guitar, piano and Albini's spare production gives this the song the impact of an entire shelf of books collapsing on your heart.)

May 10, 2008

Today's Hotness: Robert Pollard, The Replacements, Big Science

Robert Pollard
>> Still catching up... We were minding our business early last week listening to the "tape delay" of one of the prior week's episodes of WMBR's crucial "Breakfast of Champions" program when a tune caught our ear. It was distinctly Pollardian, and so it was little surprise when the DJ back-announced that the track was from a forthcoming Robert Pollard solo set. We made a note to look for more info on the Internet, but before we even had a chance to sit down and look an email had already hit our inbox with the details. Indeed, Mr. Pollard will issue a new solo set Robert Pollard Is Off To Business June 3, and it will be released on his own new label GBV Records. Pollard's previous four records were released on Merge, and probably all within one twelve-month period, given the man's ability to churn out records like most of us churn out blog posts. Anyway, the track that caught our ear is titled "Gratification To Concrete," and it is the promo track for the new set. Download at will.

Robert Pollard -- "Gratification To Concrete" -- Robert Pollard Is Off To Business
[right click and save as]
[pre-order Robert Pollard Is Off To Business here]

>> Interesting grab bag of news for the taking in this Man Without Ties post. To whit: the reissues of The Replacements catalogue will not be available at ITunes (and presumably no other digital music storefront) prior to the release of the Sire titles in September; and apparently Paul Westerberg has taken up ice hockey. More notable tidbits at the link supra.

>> Chicago-based sort-of newcomers Big Science was slated to play its first show Friday night. Not a big deal in and of itself, as new bands play first shows somewhere every day. But the quartet's blend of Big Country hooks and Talking Heads-ish radio pop sensibilities make us believe Big Science will break big at some point. The band, which sprung in part from the ashes of defunct San Deigo post-hardcore act The North Atlantic, recently made its MySpace offerings downloadable, and we recommend snatching them all. To get you started here is the demo for the tune "My Career As A Ghost."

Big Science -- "My Career As A Ghost" -- MySpace demo
[right click and save as]
[more at the band's MySpace tent here]

>> So our initial excitement about Jim Guthrie's new project Human Highway is tempered by the two tracks recently posted at the band's MySpace yert here. "The Sound" is a playful strummer with a canned beat that sounds a bit like '80s TV show soundtrack music. It's something like Men At Work, but without Colin Hay's voice and personality. The second track, "Sleep Talking," seems to reimagine Modest Mouse's "Sleep Walkin'" without any of Isaac Brock's pilled-up melancholy. On the whole the songs seem to lean more in the direction of the prior work of former Islands guy Nick Thorburn, who is the other principal member of Human Highway. We'll be interested to hear what else the act has to offer, but for now we're not sure if it is going to excite us at all. The duo's full-length Moody Motorcycle will be issued by Suicide Squeeze Aug. 18.

Today's Hotness: Icy Demons, Ringo Deathstarr, 65DaysOfStatic

Icy Demons
>> Bob Extrawack! suggests Oxfam America's Cyclone Relief and Rehabilitation Fund as the vehicle for your donations to help ameliorate the suffering in Myanmar. More info here. And now on to the music...

>> We've got a huge backlog of stuff to share that will probably not be cleared until we get a couple more posts up, so we're just jumping in anywhere. Jazzy post-rock outfit Icy Demons return in July with a third set titled Miami Ice. The Chicago-and-Philly-rooted band's sophomore collection, Tears of A Clone, was issued on Scott Herren's Eastern Developments imprint. But the new nine-song collection will be issued July 15 on Obey Your Brain, a new label set up by Icy Demons bandleaders Chris Powell (also in Man Man and Need New Body) and Griffin Rodriguez (Need New Body, Bablicon). On the new set the pair are joined by musical luminaries including Tortoise guitarist Jeff Parker and Prefuse 73/Sam Prekop collaborator Josh Abrams on bass. You can hear three of the new tracks -- "Spywatchers," "Buffalo Bill" and the title track -- at the band's MySpace dojo here. We reviewed Icy Demon's Tears Of A Clone here in 2006. Here's an MP3 of our favorite jam from the set, the album-closer "The Flea Garden."

Icy Demons -- "The Flea Garden" -- Tears Of A Clone
[right click and save as]
[buy Icy Demons records from Newbury Comics here]

>> A brief note from Texas shoegaze giants Ringo Deathstarr reports the band's planned next release will likely be an EP released digitally and on vinyl. Please, God, let it be 10" vinyl, as that is the coolest vinyl format that is still useful (sorry Boyracer, but that 5" was so small it was hard to keep track of). The quartet is also in pre-production on a new self-made music video, likely for the track "Sweet Girl," although "Down On You" is in the running as well. In the meantime you can watch a nice live clip of the band performing "Sweet Girl" over at Switchburn right here. The Deathstarr's next live appearance is June 3 at Emo's in Austin with the mighty and resurrected Swervedriver.

>> While our familiarity with the band doesn't go beyond a few listens to their first (The Fall Of Math, recently reissued) and last (The Destruction Of Small Ideas) records, we are very surprised about how-dance oriented the new 65DaysOfStatic EP is. Of course, the fact that the EP is titled The Distant And Mechanized Glow Of Eastern European Dance Parties should have been more of a hint than it was. Based on the title -- because even at 34 we still make stupid assumptions now and again-- we were hoping to hear something akin to Silkworm's devastating "There Is A Party Tonight In Warsaw." But Sheffield, England-based 65DaysOfStatic's new EP is as close to a rave mix as we've probably subjected ourselves to in about 15 years. We expect there is a big audience for music of this stripe, particularly across Europe. But we're not feeling it. The quartet this past week commenced a strand of dates opening for legendary alt-rock act The Cure; the tour comes to Boston's Agganis Arena Monday night. The Distant And Mechanized Glow Of Eastern European Dance Parties was issued April 29, and you can stream it in its entirety here.

>> We're just getting going with our new laptop, but here are two things we are excited about: 1) the onboard sound (that is the quality of the sound coming from the built-in speakers) on our new Dell 1720 is far superior to that produced by our five-year-old Dell 5150; 2) the optical drive rips discs at up to 17x, almost three times faster than our old drive. Cool.

May 7, 2008

From The Admin Cubicle: A New Machine For Blogging

Greetings blog fans. We are in receipt of our new Dell 1720 laptop blogging apparatus. We're going to be spending the next couple of days transferring files and getting up to speed on the new machine. We'll see you when we get back.

May 5, 2008

Today's Hotness: Shannon Worrell, Frightened Rabbit, City Breathing

Shannon Worrell
>> While we were mucklucking around the Internerdzez Sunday looking for information about Shannon Worrell (because of our most recent Muxtape) we happened upon Ms. Worrell's MySpace dojo. And there we found information that surprised us: the former fronter of September 67 is making a return to recorded music after about eight years of relative silence. The set will be titled The Honey Guide and one song intended for it, "Driving In The Dark," is posted at the aforementioned MySpace destination. The tune is more traditionally country-sounding than September 67 and Worrell's solo material with which we are familiar. But it's got a good hook and a rich sound. It's no "Little Lantern Face," "Bring Back The Weight" (posted at the MySpace page, grab it) or "Deep Sea Swimmer" (check it out within our most recent Muxtape below), but it is very listenable. We expect Worrell will be playing new material at two upcoming dates in Charlottesville, VA: Tuesday night at Gravity Lounge and May 24 at Satellite Ballroom. We're posting below another track from Worrell's 2000 set The Moviegoer -- we believe this is the unmastered mix as found by Mr. Mystical Beast a few years ago.

Shannon Worrell -- "The Loneliness Of The Long Distance Runner" -- The Moviegoer
[right click and save as]
[buy Shannon Worrell and September 67 records here and here]

>> While researching entertainment options in Aberdeen, Scotland this coming week for our friend The Well-Traveled Texan we checked in at Frightened Rabbit's MySpace page. And lo and behold, we discovered there are additional east coast (U.S.) dates; the band will return to Great Scott in Boston May 26. The Selkirk, Scotland-based quartet previously played the club as a trio in November, and were just in Boston in March after a successful spate of dates at the annual South By Southwest confabulation. We initially posted the dates the band will play when it returns to North America here last month. The dates below are more recent additions. We reviewed Frightened Rabbit's incendiary March show here.

05/24 -- M Room -- Philadelphia, PA
05/26 -- Great Scott -- Boston, MA
05/27 -- Pianos -- New York, NY

>> One of the submissions that has stuck with us in recent weeks has been City Breathing's Look How It's Snowing Upwards, Look How They Move Towards Heaven. The Brooklyn-based dreampop trio contacted us recently ahead of a local gig and we were taken in by what we heard, but too arsed with other things to make the performance. The set has clear standout tracks, namely "Rain And Revolution" and "Footsteps, Leaving The Scene." The former song in particular strikes us each time we hear it as the singer (we can't figure out which one is the singer) incants "remember I remember you" over and over like a solemn prayer. Generally the proceedings remind us of Starflyer 59, but the clean, glistening guitars do also suggest Texans Explosions In The Sky. City Breathing recently sold out its hometown debut and there are nine forthcoming dates booked that we're posting below the obligatory, and very good, MP3.

City Breathing -- "Rain And Revolution" -- Look How It's Snowing Upwards, Look How They Move Towards Heaven
[right click and save as]
[purchase or download for free Look How It's Snowing... at the band's MySpace cabin]

05/07 -- Matchless -- Brooklyn, NY
05/14 -- Matchless -- Brooklyn, NY
05/21 -- Matchless -- Brooklyn, NY
05/23 -- Northside Tavern -- Cincinnati, OH
05/24 -- All Go Signs -- Cleveland, OH
05/25 -- Beat Kitchen -- Chicago, IL
05/28 -- Matchless -- Brooklyn, NY
06/05 -- Glasslands Gallery -- Brooklyn, NY
06/14 -- Club Cafe -- Pittsburgh, PA

May 4, 2008

I Only Talk About You: Muxtape Numero Cuatro

Superchunk -- Indoor Living
We're a little late with the weekly Muxtape, but we hope you'll agree the extra time resulted in an incremental increase in quality. We've unearthed rarities, elevated the under-known or under-appreciated, and celebrated the obviously worthy. Click this link to listen in, and read below for the play-by-play.

1. Mclusky -- She Will Only Bring You Happiness -- Mcluskyism
(at first it is a bit hard to believe that this is from the same band that brought us the undeniable and apocalyptic screamer "Light Saber C*ck Sucking Blues." But the band reveals its true colors with a snicker at the end of this relatively breezy pop gem when it confesses its old singer is a sex criminal. Everybody always asks us whose track this is whenever it comes on. It's that good.)

2. Up Up Down Down Left Right Left Right B A B A Start -- Janet Bateman -- Girls Names EP
(not the track we intended to upload -- all those girls' names get mixed up in our head. That said, every track is a winner on this Jersey band's EP, and on most of their EPs and records for that matter.)

3. Superchunk -- Unbelievable Things -- Indoor Living
(Is it a coda? Whatever it is, when Mac gets to the part where he sings "I'm starting to believe," it is transformative. We're still not sure when exactly indoor living was all the rage, but we expect it is popular with different people at different times. No Superchunk album as a whole thrills us the way On The Mouth did, but Indoor Living certainly has its share of high points, although we have to confess weathering some dissatisfaction as the pop tendencies began to creep into Mac's music around this time.)

4. Seaweed -- Bill (Live) -- Internation Pop Underground comp
(this song immediately inspired in us a desire to like Seaweed a lot. But besides this track and the cover of Beat Happening's "Foggy Eyes" on the Fortune Cookie Prize comp, we've never been able to get on board with the band. But the fact that the band has recorded what we consider to be two monumental tracks is no small feat.)

5. The Replacements -- Left Of The Dial (Live) -- More Sh*t For The Fans
(a very nice recording and performance of one of the most important rock songs ever. We hate when people cordon off the so-called "post-punk era" when making such claims. This song doesn't need to be handicapped, it doesn't need you to lace your fingers and give it a boost: it's Beatles good, it's Stones good, it's Zep good, it's Pistols good...)

6. The Joey Sweeney -- Pull The Lever Down -- Girl's High
(oh how we wish this record was released. We finally got nice digital files a couple years ago so we could rock out like it was 1995 every day. Mr. Sweeney had many great performers at his side over the years and a number of notable lineups, but he never rocked before or after like he did when he had a Radnor High School-bred rhythm section.)

7. Vehicle Flips -- Steelers' Fight Song -- In Action
(this song is heavily associated with autumn for us, but it is so good we can't ignore it the other nine months of the year. Perhaps the cold, wet weather this weekend has brought it prematurely to the fore of our mind. In Action is out of print and we had to beg the wider BCO population for a copy several years ago and thankfully someone obliged us. Sturdy indie pop, a bit more grown up than twee. Incidentally, we like to believe there is some nexus between the Vehicle Flips track "Potomac" and Eggs' "Evanston, Ill.")

8. Varsity Drag -- Summertime -- For Crying Out Loud
(we've covered Ben and Lisa Deily's Varsity Drag in recent months, and this song is strong evidence why. The funniest comment about the Drag's 2006 set For Crying Out Loud is "Wow, you can really tell the record was recorded in shipping container." Even the blunt recording can't dull the hooks in this tune, and as the weather warms up, we can't help but sing along even when it isn't on.)

9. Superman Revenge Squad -- Angriest Dog In The World -- God Is In The TV digital single
(unbridled emotion. Remarkably, this song about the angriest dog is among the saddest of the many sad songs written by England's Ben Parker, whose work is regularly stunning and whose musical accomplishments should certainly be more widely celebrated).

10. Hypo -- Nice Day
(this very pleasant electronic track came off a compilation whose title and derivation has long since escaped us. But Google reminds us Hypo, which we think was Japanese or at least included a Japanese singer, recorded for the small Parisian label Active Suspension, which also has released recordings by Domotic. Google also reveals to us that the Active Suspension web site now features a delightful animated Bigfoot. Check it out.)

11. The Warlocks -- Dreamless Days -- Heavy Deavy Skull Lover
(we wish this song was an hour long. So sleepy and reverby and yet riveting.)

12. Shannon Worrell -- Deep Sea Swimmer -- The Moviegoer outtake
(we've never understood what Shannon Worrell is talking about here, but the track itself seems like a lullabye. This track didn't make it on her 2000 release The Moviegoer, and we wouldn't have even known about it if it hadn't been for Mr. Mystical Beast having encountered some CDs out for the trash one day in Brooklyn and deciding to pick them up. Time was we were whiling away our early 20s in Virginia and Ms. Worrell was our boss' wife. Certain folks may recall she formerly was the songwriting and guitar-playing half of the duo September 67. We just learned that she is finally recording a new record; we'll have more about that later in the week.)

May 3, 2008

Today's Hotness: Lilys, The Cure, Glen Campbell?

>> Been busy this week with the day job, a new blog for a service organization, and testing new software for our new blogging machine, which is slated to arrive this coming week. In the meantime a lot has piled up. We guess we've got to start somewhere, so let us just jump in.

>> Alternative rock veterans The Cure aim to build buzz for their 13th full-length set by releasing a series of four singles prior to its release Sept. 13. The singles will be issued the 13th of each month preceding the Sept. date, beginning with "The Only One" b/w "NY Trip" May 13. How many times can we type the number 13 in this item, we wonder? The second single will be titled "Freakshow" and will include on the reverse the number "All Kinds Of Stuff." Incidentally, we just learned the German word for "stuff" the other day and it is really fun to say. But anyway... apparently none of the single b-sides will be contained on the full-length, which will be issued by Suretone/Geffen. The Cure plays commences a strand of North American tour dates May 9 which brings the storied British group to Boston's Agannis Arena May 12. Hit this link to Billboard for full tour dates and what little other details we didn't steal from it. An item below has covers on our mind, so to celebrate the impending tour here's erstwhile D.C. indie rockers The Dismemberment Plan's cover of The Cure's fabulous "Close To Me."

The Dismemberment Plan -- "Close To Me" -- Give Me The Cure compilation (1996)
[right click and save as]
[buy Dismemberment Plan and Cure recordings from Newbury Comics here]

>> You Shall Know Our Discography here has ripped and posted the vinyl version of sometimes-Philly-based Lilys' crucial, out-of-print (and now apparently forever lost through the odd intricacies of a bankruptcy proceeding) EP A Brief History Of Amazing Letdowns. This is likely our favorite record, period. We've even learned to love the closing noise titled "Evil Kneivil;" the population at large will likely recognize the opening track "Ginger" from its odd placement in teevee commercials for a certain luxury car brand and for a popular clothing, housewares and scent brand. Hit this link, download the set, and leave a comment thanking Mr. Discography for his public service.

>> Here's an interesting perspective from Digital Audio Insider. Because ITunes hasn't raised prices for its standard digital music files in line with inflation over the course of its five years of operations, the files it sells are actually becoming less expensive. We expect that greater adoption of broadband and cheaper storage hardware and players will ultimately drive the digital music business toward higher fidelity/lower compression audible media. But then again, it's 2008 and we suspect the market for higher fidelity files made commercially available can only be described best as "niche." That said, in 2003 dollars, which of course none of us has to spend any longer, ITunes downloads now cost a mere $.86. Still, that's akin to waxing nostalgic about how a pack of gum used to cost a dime: it doesn't put any gum in your mouth, now does it?

>> The Paul Westerberg blog Men Without Ties reports here on a No Depression item that says "Rhinestone Cowboy" s(l)inger Glen Campbell will cover the late period Replacements downer "Sadly Beautiful" on a forthcoming collection. The set will be titled Meet Glen Campbell, but it appears it will be comprised solely of covers of songs by folks including U2, Foo Fighters and Nico/Jackson Browne. Two questions: is the album title supposed to be funny? It kind of is. Also: is Rick Rubin behind this? Because it sort of has the scent of Johnny Cash's late resurgence in popularity to it, no?

>> You didn't think we'd post without mentioning Johnny Foreigner, did you? Fans of the stellar Birmingham, England-based indie rock trio can now pre-order the single "Eyes Wide Terrified" from right here. As we've reported previously, the B sides are "I Heard, He Ties Up Cats" and "What Burlesque Won't Stand." The single is released by Best Before May 19 -- about two weeks before the arrival of the band's debut full-length Waited Up Til It Was Light -- and delivery is free, we expect so long as you live in the UK. Given the poor condition our copy of the last Johnny Foreigner single, which we purchased from HMV, we think we'll wait to see who else will sell it to us.