July 31, 2008

YouTube Rodeo: Lilys Live On Top Of The Pops

Well here's something we've never seen before. Kurt Heasley's Lilys performing "Nanny In Manhattan" live on Top Of The Pops. We had been laboring under the belief for many years that TOTP performances were always mimed (hence this classic Nirvana clip), but Heasley and gang were most certainly tearing it up live on February 20, 1998. We keep a pretty regular vigil over Lilys clips posted to YouTube, but it seems like since we last checked in a few hot new clips have popped up. This link, for example, points to a clip of the band miming the same track nine days prior to the performance above for something called The Jack Docherty show. If you can't get enough of the track, here is a live performance recorded the same year at Schuba's in Chicago.

Lilys -- "A Nanny In Manhattan (Live)" -- Schuba's, Chicago, 2003
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[buy Lilys records from Newbury Comics right here]

July 30, 2008

Today's Hotness: Up Up Down Down, The New Year

>> We haven't paid much attention to the awkwardly monikered but absurdly talented indie rock act Up Up Down Down Left Right Left Right B A Start since naming their Worst Band Name Ever record one of our favorites of 2007 [list here, review here]. So we were shocked to see the sad news at the band's MySpace dojo that Up Up Down Down will break up Aug. 16 after playing two final shows that day and the day before. The Jersey-based quintet (whose lineup has changed often over its 10 years of existence) has since canceled what was to have been an acoustic show Aug. 15, leaving only the "rock show" at The Auction House in Audubon, NJ on the 16th as the band's swan song. We've never seen the band -- which is fronted by guitarist, singer, and recording studio owner Steve Poponi -- so we are seriously considering... well, with the price of gas... and the fact that day is a certain blogger's wedding anniversary... anyway, we're thinking about it. The band is that good. Here's how we summed them up last year:
"...small anthems -- songs that wave their flag vigorously but refuse to show off with extraneous verses and choruses when one of each, at most two, will do. Earlier Up Up Down Down Left Right Left Right B A Start tunes such as the 86-second masterpiece "Please Come To Me" [above] from Perris, CA have crescendoes that explode like a tray of wine glasses striking the floor; the fist-pumping 2001 cover of Straight To The Point's "Straight To The Point" borders on screamo. In contrast, the exquisitely produced and hilariously titled collection Worst Band Name Ever features ten tracks that further the band's trend toward a gentler sound."
Up Up Down Down touring compadres Tie These Hands are flying in from Lincoln, Nebraska to open the show. The set list for the night is being concocted already, and a draft is posted at the aforementioned MySpace page. Yet another reason why this show is so tempting. Up Up Down Down Left Right Left Right B A Start maintains a web site here where there are scads of free MP3s to download. We recommend the band's catalogue across the board, but here are a few amazing cuts to get you started.

Up Up Down Down -- "Melanie Flury" -- Girls Names EP
Up Up Down Down -- "Out To Get Me" -- The Internet EP
Up Up Down Down -- "The Red Loop" -- Worst Band Name Ever
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[buy Up Up Down Down records from the band right here]

>> Slow-core survivors The New Year have issued a third and final video trailer for their forthcoming third album. It's short and sweet and it's right here. The song in the soundtrack plots a familiar waltzing course while a dense, hoary fog blows in front of and among a stand of trees. The band's self-titled set will be released by Touch + Go Sept. 9. We reviewed The Kadane Brothers' recent Boston show right here a couple weeks ago (the brothers comprise the core of The New Year, as they previously comprised the core of the late, lamented Bedhead). The New Year will promote The New Year with a strand of live performances in mid-October, and we've posted the dates below for your reference.

10.10 -- Music Hall of Williamsburg -- Brooklyn, NY
10.11 -- The Middle East -- Boston, MA
10.12 -- The Livingroom -- Providence, RI
10.13 -- Club Metronome -- Burlington, VT
10.14 -- Le Divan Orange -- Montreal, QC
10.15 -- Lee's Palace -- Toronto, ON
10.16 -- The Pike Room -- Pontiac, MI
10.17 -- Empty Bottle -- Chicago, IL
10.18 -- Maintenance Shop -- Ames, IA
10.19 -- High Dive -- Champaign, IL
10.20 -- Grog Shop -- Cleveland, OH
10.21 -- DC9 -- Washington, DC

>> Believe it or not, there is still a little more Johnny Foreigner news in the can. Well, despite what all the start-ups thought during the dot-com boom, a web site launch is not news. Even so, we think it is notable that the Birmingham, England-based indie rock trio finally has an official web site separate from its trusty MySpace hacienda. That said, the new JohnnyForeignerMusic.com is not the band's first attempt at a stand-alone site; we recall short-lived incarnations with URLs like johnnyforeigner.tk and johnnyforeigner.moonfruit.something, one of which was the place to snatch the zesty demos collection I Like You Mostly Late At Never. The new site appears to be the product of the band's recently announced North American deal with Nettwerk, as it seems solely aimed at promoting the domestic release of Waited Up Til It Was Light (available digitally from last week, in stores in October). Right now it features a stream of the forthcoming single "Salt, Peppa and Spinderella," buy links, and links to the band's various outposts in the social networking world. But here's hoping there will be much more in the future.

July 29, 2008

Today's Hotness: Futureheads, Frightened Rabbit, Johnny Foreigner

>> Up until about a month ago the name Dolby Anol would have simply been part '80s new wave icon, part gibberish to us. But then the name became attached to one of the remixes on the forthcoming Johnny Foreigner single "Salt, Peppa and Spinderella." And somewhere thereafter we learned that Dolby Anol was the nom de remix of a duo that includes at least one member of Glaswegian fight pop septet Dananananaykroyd, whose angular, intense indie rock references some of our favorite D.C. post hardcore sounds. We were very interested, then, to receive this afternoon another Dolby Anol creation, a remix of jittery indie rockers The Futureheads' recent single "Radio Heart." The remix is a fairly in-your-face deconstruction of the dynamic, syncopated jam, the video of which you can watch right here. The remix of "Radio Heart" is successfully transformed by big beat production and electrobass; its release into the wilds of the Internerds is intended to promote the Aug. 4 release of The Futureheads' next UK single, the anthemic "Walking Backwards" [stream it at Youtube here].

More remixes are expected, and a quick trip to the Dolby Anol MySpace wigwam turns up evidence that the duo has also remixed the Sunderland quartet's track "Crash." The Futureheads' third record This Is Not The World was released on its own Nul Recordings label in May. For Dananananaykroyd's part, as we reported over the weekend the band will record with Hoboken-based The Machine beginning in mid-August. Upon returning to the U.K. the band is slated for two tours, one with Johnny Foreigner and another whose headliner is still the subject of rumor. The rumor that appeared in our comments (more on those below) was that the headliner will be Foals, but like we said, that's just a rumor.

The Futureheads -- "Radio Heart (Dolby Anol Remix)"
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[buy Futureheads records from Newbury Comics right here]

>> Online video site Switchburn has posted three very compelling clips of Selkirk, Scotland's Frightened Rabbit performing last month at The Mohawk in Austin. "The Modern Leper," "Fast Blood" and "I Feel Better" are all given the customary deluxe three-camera treatment. We watched "The Modern Leper" and found it to be a somewhat more reserved rendition than we've seen from the chaps on a few occasions here in Boston. Even so, superlative drummer Grant Hutchison occasionally seems one capricious impulse away from laying waste to his kit, even as he eases back somewhat. Watch all three clips at the links above, you won't be disappointed.

>> Since we already broke our promise to ourselves not to mention Johnny Foreigner for a week a couple paragraphs above, we may as well report some interesting tidbits that popped up into our comments the other day. If Mr. Anonymous is to be believed, then the forthcoming 10" "Salt, Peppa and Spinderella" single that will be issued in September is being released on "Pac Man-yellow" vinyl and in a limited edition of 500. Of those 500, only 400 will be going up for sale. Which kind of makes you wonder what they are doing with the rest of them. Hopefully sending at least one to us, and perhaps the remaining 99 go to other members of the press. Doesn't seem like the best way of covering your costs, giving away 20% of your inventory. But as the single potentially serves a dual purpose of promoting the U.K. and North American releases of the Birmingham, England-based trio's fantastic debut Waited Up Til It Was Light, perhaps there is a method to the madness.

Speaking of madness, we were minding our own business today perusing EBay when we noticed that some one is selling here an unplayed copy of Johnny Foreigner's debut single "Sometimes, In The Bullring" b/w "Camp Kelly Calm" for the equivalent of $99.38 plus another $20 or so for shipping, which makes us feel all the more fortunate that we have a copy. The band has recorded "Bullring" an almost incalculable number of times, and it appears on Waited Up Til It Was Light. "Camp Kelly Calm" is a little more of a rarity, so here is a nice rip sent to us by the chap who put the single out.

Johnny Foreigner -- "Camp Kelly Calm" -- "Sometimes, In The Bullring" b/w "Camp Kelly Calm"
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[buy Johnny Foreigner recordings from EMusic right here]

July 28, 2008

Today's Hotness: Superman Revenge Squad, The Diggs

>> Superman Revenge Squad recently recorded a radio session for Earwax Radio and Wax-Music has posted here a stream of the show. Even better the site has posted an MP3 of a solid take on the Croydon, England-based band's -- well, Ben Parker's, as he is the sole member of his Squad -- track "Idiot Food." This performance is particularly notable because Mr. Parker -- usually the best kind of dark and cynical pessimist -- here sounds almost optimistic. This is nowhere more true than when he intones the final words "we're both doing fine / and this song means nothing." The recording isn't as sharp, production-wise, as the version released earlier this year as a digital single by the God Is In The TV 'zine, but that's to be expected from a live recording. Even so, we remain steadfast in our conviction that Parker is one of the biggest talents in contemporary music in the U.K.

Superman Revenge Squad -- "Idiot Food (Live)" -- Earwax Radio Session
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>> Brooklyn-based trio The Diggs recently recorded a session as one of WOXY's Lounge Acts and you can stream the whole session right here. We reviewed the band's record Ctrl-Alt-Del here in March (we first wrote about the act here in February) and found the set to be an arresting revisitation of the desperate second-wave emo sounds of Mineral and Sunny Day Real Estate. WOXY has posted two MP3s of songs that were album highlights and both exhibit a band that swings, performing with a little looser in vibe than the some nearly overwrought recordings on Ctrl-Alt-Del. "Careen" is almost jaunty, breezy, at least until the song strides into its denouement, during which singer Timothy Lannen becomes almost frenzied as he recites "there are thoughts that seldom survive." Download it and the track "Brigante" at the link above.

>> We want to briefly note the end of the blog The Dead Part Of You, which we started reading about year ago. We will especially miss the show reviews, and here is hoping Mr. Dead Part finds inspiration to blog in the future.

July 26, 2008

Johnny Foreigner's "Salt, Peppa and Spinderella" Unleashed

>> Those readers who don't conscientiously watch the comments to our items likely missed an anonymous post from someone who certainly sounds like he or she knows that of which he or she speaks. And in that post our commenter stated the reason Best Before Records pulled the video for Johnny Foreigner's "Salt, Peppa and Spinderella" (it of course has since been posted to Vimeo after being leaked by the cats at DrownedInSound; we've posted it atop these paragraphs) was to afford Pitchfork the opportunity of an exclusive (Pfork ran with it very early this morning). Seems a little like kowtowing the The Man. But as a rabid fan of Johnny Foreigner, we suppose if it takes an exclusive with Pitchfork to break them in North America, so be it. Anyway, not long after NME published this item about "Salt, Peppa and Spinderella," the forthcoming third single from the Birmingham, England-based indie rock trio slated for release Sept. 8 in the UK. The item states that the Bloc Party remix of the song was actually the handiwork of Bloc Party's angular-haired guitarist Russell Lissak. What's confusing is the short NME blurb then states that Lissak remixed a different song called "Bravado." Which is it? Fortunately NME gives the last quip to Johnny Foreigner fronter Alexei Berrow, who jokes "We're flattered [Lissak] would remix a little band like us," he admitted. "Can we go on tour with them now please?" Johnny Foreigner's debut full-length was released digitally in North America earlier this week; buy it from EMusic right here.

>> And another thing: our commenter confirms that indeed, Glaswegian septet Dananananaykroyd will be recording their debut full-length for Best Before Records with producer The Machine. The sessions will run from Aug. 18 to Sept. 8, and directly thereafter band will embark on consecutive UK tours. One of the tours will be with labelmates and indie rock superheroes Johnny Foreigner. Dananananaykroyd's Sissy Hits EP was finally released on Holy Roar Records recently after a long delay; you can buy it from EMusic right here.

July 23, 2008

That Bachmann Sound And That New Liz Durrett Record

We are only just beginning to digest Southern gothic songstress Liz Durrett's forthcoming full length Outside Our Gates. One thing made an immediate impact, however: the similarity between the cut "All Of Them All" and "I Can't Breathe," an astounding and affecting instrumental situated deep within Barry Black's 1995 self-titled set. And there is a connection. Barry Black, in the event you did not know, was a relatively short-lived project of then-Archers Of Loaf fronter Eric Bachmann, he who currently toils under the moniker Crooked Fingers and his given name. Mr. Bachmann, it turns out, produced and arranged Ms. Durrett's Outside The Gates, which will be released by Warm Electronic Recordings Sept. 9, and we have to believe it was his influence that is manifested in the guitar clangs that loop in the background of "All Of Them All" (a similar device can be heard in the knock-out Crooked Fingers jam "The Rotting Strip," now that we think on it a moment). Durrett's bright strummer with soulful strings is a clear standout among the 11 tunes that populate her new set, which was recorded in the spring of this year in Athens, GA (you can see some pictures from the session at Durrett's web site here).

We first encountered Durrett's work in 2005 when Warm issued her collection Husk, which we reviewed here for Junkmedia's World Of Sound blog; Durrett released The Mezzanine in early 2006 and we really thought we reviewed it -- but we can't find any evidence to back up our assertion. Nevertheless, her strong, chalky alto voice makes a strong impression. Bachmann also has a new record in the works: Crooked Fingers will issue Forfeit/Fortune Oct. 6 without the assistance of a record label.

Liz Durrett -- "All Of Them All" -- Outside Our Gates
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[buy Liz Durrett records from Newbury Comics right here]

Barry Black -- "I Can't Breathe" -- Barry Black
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[buy all manner of Eric Bachmann-related records from the man right here]

July 22, 2008

Today's Hotness: Frightened Rabbit, TVOTR, Johnny Foreigner

>> Drowned In Sound reports here that Selkirk, Scotland's finest, the indie rock foursome Frightened Rabbit, will issue a third single to support its superlative sophomore set The Midnight Organ Fight [read our review here]. Due Sept. 22 in the UK is the uptempo rocker "I Feel Better" backed with our favorite track from the record, the infectious and relatively swinging piano-pounder "The Twist." The Midnight Organ Fight, incidentally, has finally been issued on vinyl, although label Fat Cat's web site says the 12" issue is already sold out just via pre-orders. Or at least we think that is what they mean. Hard to say. Either way, getting one bought, boxed up and shipped to the States is likely prohibitively expensive. We reviewed Frightened Rabbit's July 1 Boston show right here. The quartet begins successive tours of Ireland and the UK in early August, and then it plays several European dates in early October. Consult Frightened Rabbit's itinerary at it's MySpace hutch right here. How about a classic?

Frightened Rabbit -- "The Greys" -- Sing The Greys
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[buy Frightened Rabbit records from Newbury Comics right here]

>> NME reported here today that TV On The Radio will release its third full-length Sept. 23 in the U.S. The set is called Dear Science, -- sadly, that comma is part of the title, which puts it on par with names as cool as *NSYNC, in our humble opinion. The Brooklyn-based act's previous record was the highly acclaimed Return To Cookie Mountain, which was released in 2006. TV On The Radio teased the release of that record with a performance at Boston's City Hall Plaza two years ago, which we reviewed here. The quintet is currently giving away for free at its MySpace dojo the jitterfunk track "Dumb Animal," which is new to us but was apparently originally issued as a b-side on the sold-out "Province" single released last year by 4AD. Have a listen.

TV On The Radio -- "Dumb Animal" -- Province 7"
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[by TV On The Radio records from Newbury Comics right here]

>> As of last night, Johnny Foreigner had yet to officially unveil the video for its forthcoming single, the gargantuan "Salt, Peppa and Spinderella." The video clip appeared online briefly about a week ago, and then was pulled just as a MySpace bulletin was circulated by label Best Before saying the video would be released this past weekend. Well, the weekend has come and gone. The single will be issued Sept. 8 as a 10" with three remixes, including one concocted by countrymen Bloc Party. Hear any interesting stories about Bloc Party fronter Kele Okerere? [Oh Lydon, we're so disappointed]. Anyhoo, "Salt, Peppa and Spinderella" is the third and likely final single from the Birmingham, England-based trio's debut full-length Waited Up Til It Was Light, which is available digitally in North America today. Yes, you read that correctly. We checked EMusic, ITunes and AmazonMP3 last night, and no one had the digital files live yet, although Amazon was clearly ready for the clock to strike midnight. A physical release for North America is slated for October; we reviewed the import here last month.

>> According to this blog post, Glaswegian septet Dananananaykroyd will apparently record their debut full-length for Best Before Records in New York, just as labelmates Johnny Foreigner did a year ago. We can only speculate the hotly tipped, Dischord-reminiscent act will also work with The Machine, the Hoboken-based producer who spun the knobs and situated the mics for the recording of Johnny Foreigner's spectacular Waited Up Til It Was Light. When that's confirmed or denied, we'll pipe up.

>> We're certainly no Facebook superuser, but we still feel like it should be patently obvious what the popular Facebook music app iLike does. But either it doesn't really do anything interesting, or we just totally don't get it. This story at Digital Music News refers to iLike as a "profile and discovery platform," which in our opinion means it does the same thing the rest of the Internet does. Most striking is iLike chief exec Ali Partovi's assertion therein that "[i]n some ways, streaming is the new downloading." We've heard this before, from the digital music service Rhapsody, who incidentally provides the back-end for many iLike services through some sort of sub-license. Interesting thing about Rhapsody is it just recently announced it would be selling untethered MP3 downloads. So it would seem to us that downloading is the new downloading, yeh? We just don't get it.

July 21, 2008

Review: Azeda Booth | In Flesh Tones [MP3]

If there is anything startling about the relatively chillaxed Calgary-based quintet Azeda Booth, it is that its singer is an adult male. Jordon Hassock, to be precise. This is likely not news to already-confirmed fans of the band (it already has an EP under its belt and In Flesh Tones will be in stores Tuesday). But those coming to Azeda Booth with fresh ears will likely presume that the distinctly distaff, ethereal vocals emanate from someone more like Blonde Redheads' Kazu Makino or one of Múm's Valtýsdóttir twins. That latter act (along with groops like Lymbyc Systym) is a good reference point for the hazy and cool ambient electronic sounds that populate In Flesh Tones. While the beats can get fairly aggressive at times (particularly on the curiously titled "John Cleese"), the prevailing mood of the set is serene. The short instrumental "East Village" and the stuttering, melodic (and slightly spooky) gem "Numberguts" stand out, the former beautifully transitioning into the latter. Azeda Booth currently has no live dates posted at its site or MySpace casa, but we presume the quintet -- which apparently began as a duo comprised solely of principal members Mr. Hassock and Morgan Greenwood -- will be coaxed into nightclubs come fall to promote the set. Revered label Absolutely Kosher will release In Flesh Tones; the recorded music concern is also home to Sybris and Okay. The aforementioned EP, the self-released collection Mysterious Body, is currently sold out, but an outfit called Lakesong Press intends to produce a reissue.

Azeda Booth -- "Ran" -- In Flesh Tones
Azeda Booth -- "Dead Girls" -- Mysterious Body EP
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[buy In Flesh Tones from Absolutely Kosher right here]

Azeda Booth: Interwebs | MySpace | YouTube | Flickr

July 20, 2008

Speaking In Code Electronic Music Doc Complete, New Trailer

We've followed with interest via MySpace bulletins and email updates for seemingly all three years of its incubation the progress of the electronic music documentary "Speaking In Code,". Hell, we even threw in a small amount of cash during one of their pleas for funding. So we were pleased when it was announced last month that the film was complete. "Speaking In Code" is the labor of love of Boston filmmaker Amy Grill, who is the partner of electronic music impresario and music critic David Day. The theme conveyed by the trailer -- paraphrased anyway -- is people giving their lives over to a style of music for which mainstream international acceptance seems closer everyday. The film features already huge names in minimal -- and particularly European -- electronic music, including Ellen Allien, Apparat, Michael Mayer and Wolfgang Voigt. A recently launched web site for the film can be found at this link, where you can also see a list of the acts whose music is featured in the film. "Speaking In Code" has been screened by certain select lucky few (Beatport has a review here), and as of last month it was being submitted to certain international film festivals.

July 17, 2008

Today's Hotness: The Replacements, Johnny Foreigner

The Replacements, Bob-era
>> Venerable U.S. music publication Billboard today published details about the next slate of Replacements reissues, which will be released by Rhino Sept. 23. The four records represent the storied Minneapolis quartet's major-label efforts, namely the albums Tim, Pleased To Meet Me, Don't Tell A Soul, and the highly under-rated final set All Shook Down. Each record comes with its own complement of bonus tracks, just like the four Twin-Tone era issues released earlier in 2008, and you can read the highlights at Billboard right here. We are particularly excited to hear the demos for "Torture" and "One Wink At A Time," the latter track featuring the amazing opening line "The magazine she flips through is the special double issue..." Equally enticing is the prospect of new recordings from bandleader Paul Westerberg, who according to cryptic blog posts and published reports will release this Saturday new recordings for the knavely sum of $.49 per track at his web site. It has been widely reported, perhaps most recently in this May "Spin" article, that Westerberg has given something on the order of 60 new tracks to his manager, and one can only speculate that the material that will be made available this weekend is culled from that.

>> So we still haven't received the presser from Canadian-based label group Nettwerk about the North American release of Johnny Foreigner's terrific full-length debut Waited Up Til It Was Light. But fortunately there remain web sites out there that -- for better or worse -- continue to publish press releases verbatim. So thanks to that, and to Google, we've found the release here and learned the following compelling information. While the physical release of the full-length will not be in stores until October (precise date not specified), the set will available through digital storefronts including ITunes July 22. That is _next week_, give or take three months before the real thing hits racks. This is a smart play by the notably forward thinking label Nettwerk, because every day that Waited Up Til It Was Light is building hype in North America but not available for sale is another day during which the young and the savvy will just illegally download the set for lack of any available affordable commercial option (we can speak from experience when we say buying the import is muy, muy caro). The record was issued in the UK June 2, so it is -- at least occasionally -- out there to be had digitally despite management's best efforts. While you're counting down the hours until you can buy the record next Tuesday, we recommend reading the latest diary entry from Johnny Foreigner fronter and guitarist Alexei Berrow. You can check that out here. We reviewed Waited Up Til It Was Light here in June, and we reviewed Johnny Foreigner's American live debut here in December. A video for "Salt, Peppa and Spinderella," the forthcoming third single from the full-length, is expected to be available (again) at YouTube sometime this weekend.

July 16, 2008

Today's Hotness: Fleeting Joys, Hush Now, This Town Needs Guns

Fleeting Joys
>> Something we did not know until about 9:40 Tuesday night: shoegaze geniuses Fleeting Joys are about to release a new record. It may or may not be titled Occult Radiance, and it is set for release on Fleeting Joy's own Only Forever label Aug. 11. Best of all, the Northern California duo has posted a megamix of sorts of samples from all the tracks on the album as an MP3 at its blog. We'll save you the trip over there by reposting the thing below. For those unfamiliar with the band, Fleeting Joys are pretty much at the top of the heap as far as practicing Loveless-disciples are concerned. One can only imagine what band principals John and Rorika -- who are abetted by drummers Chris Woodouse and Matt McCord as needed -- must think of the recent resuscitation of My Bloody Valentine. Fleeting Joys' 2006 full-length Despondent Transponder recently sold out of an additional pressing, according to the Only Forever web site. We made a brief mention of Despondent Transponder here two years ago. Why not check out the new album preview below?

Fleeting Joys -- "Occult Radiance 4 (album preview)"
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[buy Fleeting Joys recordings from the band right here]

>> We were pleased to receive the thumping, guitar-drenched yearner "Traditions" from fledgling Boston act The Hush Now. The tune firmly situates the trio among this year's burgeoning crop of nu-gaze acts (we're thinking The Diggs, City Breathing, some others). "Traditions" has a huge chorus, is stretched across soaring melodies, and seems to find some common ground between House Of Love and our oft-cited faves Sunny Day Real Estate. The Hush Now has a mile-long biography about which it is hard to tell which way is up. What you need to know is singer Noel Kelly lived in L.A. until his old band -- named after the best Ocean Blue record -- broke up. Then he crashed his car into a church and not long after moved to Boston, where he wrangled up three very capable sidemen to fill out The Hush Now lineup. The band will issue a self-titled, 10-song debut in October. We're posting "Traditions" below.

The Hush Now -- "Traditions" -- The Hush Now
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[keep an eye on Newbury Comics for the record this fall]

>> Since we harbor a constant and unshakable belief that somewhere out there is a new, unknown band that will blow our minds even more than the last new, unknown band, it's little surprise that this actually happens now and again. We guess despite our generally surly disposition, we're sort of optimists when it comes to indie rock. We recently had an email from Oxford, England's Big Scary Monsters label offering up an MP3 from an Oxford quartet called This Town Needs Guns, and we like what we hear. The band professes a very strong Kinsella influence at its MySpace drive-thru (the list of its influences: Owls, Ghosts and Vodka, American Football, Make Believe, Maps And Atlases, Owen). That professed influence is strongly manifested in This Town Needs Guns' music, which is clotted with wonderfully intricate and lyrical guitar noodling and confessional vocals. This Town Needs Guns will issue what appears to be its UK debut full-length in October; the foursome already appears to have a full-length out in Japan and Australia (wait, what?) a few singles and an EP to boot. We spent a pleasant 20 or 30 minutes at the band's MySpace last night and it sounds like its small repertoire is packed with quality jams. Here's one now.

This Town Needs Guns -- "Baboon" -- Animals
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[buy This Town Needs Guns records right here]

July 15, 2008

Today's Hotness: Fields, Mercury Rev

>> Loyal readers may recall that six weeks ago we guest posted at Keep Hope Inside, which along with Another Form Of Relief pretty much holds it down for us as far as British music blogs are concerned. Keep Hope Inside celebrated its second anniversary by asking like-minded souls to post about their favorite British record of the prior two years. And while we weren't too good at following directions -- we picked an American EP released by a British band -- we deemed London-based Fields' excellent 7 From The Village EP as our favorite (non-Johnny Foreigner-issued) record while also throwing in our take on the band's major label debut Everything Last Winter. The guest post, now that we re-read it, is pretty comprehensive. So check it out here.

All of the blather above is just background and context for some real news, which is that we received through proper channels this afternoon a brand new and apparently finished track from Fields. It's called "Worst Love," and it's a low-key but well-appointed and orchestrated acoustic strummer with some bleepy sections, pianos, lead guitar lines, more bleeps, and so on. One thing that it definitely is: an improvement on the demo of the track that has been posted at Fields' MySpace since March, which we wrote about here. The new version of "Worst Love" benefits from real drumming and instrumentation gently situated throughout a stereo field that seems to waver from a light gravitational push and pull among twinkling electronics and natural reverbs. We're still hopeful the band has another urgent uptempo rocker like its now-classic "Brittlesticks" up its sleeve, but "Worst Love" ain't too shabby. The tune will be on Fields' forthcoming sophomore set, which is as yet untitled but expected to be in stores (at least in the UK) by the end of the year. Grab the MP3 below and revel.

Fields -- "Worst Love" -- Preview MP3
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[buy Fields records from Newbury Comics right here]

>> A new Mercury Rev track made the rounds of the Internet today, and we love its decidedly non-organic feel. As the band's music retreated from the early, guitar-driven semi-psychedelics of the early record Boces and into the contemplative, more traditional balladry, we were slightly disappointed. Sure, there are few songs released in the last decade more beautiful than "Holes," from Mercury Rev's breakout 1998 set Deserter's Songs, but we love the overblown early tracks like "Bronx Cheer," "Something For Joey," and "Snorry Mouth." The new track is called "Senses On Fire," and while it is not a return to form in the sense that the tune sounds like something from Boces, it is a pronounced step away from the naturalistic Mercury Rev sound that won the act substantial acclaim. Instead, "Sense On Fire" deploys drum sequencers and an arsenal of synths to create something approaching a dance track. Really. The vocal does little more than repeat the title over and over again, but singer Jonathan Donahue's voice is very pleasantly reminiscent of David Goolkasian of The Elevator Drops, and honestly if we hadn't been told beforehand we probably would be more likely to believe "Senses On Fire" is an Elevator Drops track than a Mercury Rev track. Hit this link and snatch the file from Pantsfork and hear it for yourself. Mercury Rev intends to release two records on Sept. 29; Strange Attractor will be given away for free, and Snowflake Midnight is going to cost you -- unless you steal it off the Intertubez.

July 14, 2008

Bloc Party, Others Remix Planned Johnny Foreigner Single

Screen cap from forthcoming Johnny Foreigner video
[SCREEN CAP from YouTube] Another day, another Johnny Foreigner update. The Birmingham, England-based indie rock superheroes have disclosed that the b-sides to its forthcoming 10" single "Salt, Peppa and Spinderella" -- yes, the trio is now sort of an answer to Black Flag's age old question -- will be three remixes. Collaborators meeting the challenge of remixing the pulsing anthem include Bloc Party (a partnership that underscores that Johnny Foreigner's profile is definitively on the rise), Dolby Anol featuring Acrnym (otherwise known as some or all of the members of new label-mates Dananananaykroyd) and Nibiru, a recording engineer who has worked with electronic music luminaries Sasha & Digweed. We are surprised that Los Campesinos! don't get a shot at a remix, but perhaps the Cardiff septet will be tapped for something else down the line. The 10" is due in stores in the U.K. Sept. 8. In case you've yet to hear it, the track is posted at the band's MySpace yert.

The jumpy video for "Salt, Peppa and Spinderella," shot early last month, is already on YouTube now, although embedding is disabled was available at YouTube early Saturday but has since been removed. We watched it several times and sent the link out to the Twitter faithful. We also grabbed an embed code using some schmancy Firefox plug-in or another that we bet would enable us to post the clip here, but since so much trouble has been gone to to ensure that it doesn't get seen until next weekend we don't want to post it and bum anybody at the label out. We can tell you this: the video was shot with a regular still camera and, apparently, the resulting photos were painfully stitched together under the direction of a fellow named Tim Mattia, who has also directed clips for Blood Red Shoes, Biffy Clyro and other bands who we have heard of but whose music we can't say we recall hearing. Folks who poke around can find a screen cap from the video at YouTube, which we've posted above.

July 13, 2008

That Was The Show That Was: Bottomless Pit, Kadane Brothers

Bottomless Pit
The Kadane Brothers, perhaps better known as principal members of sublime flagship slow-core act Bedhead and its successor The New Year, have written so many great songs but released records so infrequently that last night's performance was something of a constant surprise. Several songs into a quiet set during which Matt and Bubba Kadane played guitars and sang sans rhythm section the brothers reached deep back into its catalog to unearth the frankly sublime track "Crushing," released on Bedhead's 1994 stunning full-length debut WhatFunLifeWas. We had hoped against hope that the duo would perform the title track to 1996's The Dark Ages EP, but this treat definitely sufficed. Mssrs. Kadane and Kadane did open their set accompanied by journeyman guitarist Chris Brokaw on the track "The End's Not Near" [for which a video was recently released; watch it here]. The penultimate song of the set was "18," our favorite New Year track -- except for perhaps "Gasoline," which was also performed. The New Year will issue its third full-length, and first since 2004's The End Is Near, September 9. The set features drumming by Mr. Brokaw and bass courtesy of Saturnine's Mike Donofrio; a fellow named Peter Schmidt, whose name is not familiar to us, also plays guitar on the album. It appears the new set is self-titled; you can review the track listing at Touch And Go's web site right here.

Bottomless Pit's set, which sprung directly out of a well-choreographed musical segue that closed The Kadanes' set, was powerful. We hadn't seen the band fronters Tim Midgett and Andy Cohen perform since a Silkworm show in Philadelphia in 1995 or so. Mr. Cohen's guitar work floored us, and fortunately we were standing directly in front of him for the entire set as he let loose with tense, taut, slashing leads and flourishes with his Telecaster. More than anything else, the artfulness of the veteran musicians' performance impressed us -- the lion's share of the live bands we see each year are up-and-coming, and may never develop the poise and chops possessed by the chaps in Bottomless Pit. If they do, they are usually playing rooms that are so large that we can't enjoy the spectacle of their excellent playing. And while we certainly believe Bottomless Pit deserves to be playing arenas and theaters -- we were actually surprised when we realized last night's performance was in the 200-capacity Middle East Upstairs and not in the larger downstairs room -- we felt very grateful to be awash in the blare at a range of a half-dozen feet. The band played much, if not all of the excellent full-length Hammer Of The Gods, then delivered some of the goods from the recently issued Congress EP, and then thrilled the crowd with a new song during what was apparently a very rare encore.

Mr. Brokaw, whose guitar work has been a huge influence on our own playing (despite our relative ineptitude), opened the show last night with a set of his own tunes, including a mile-wide instrumental and a number of tracks from his recently released set Incredible Love. I And Ear Records, which you may recall issued Mazarin's excellent final record We're Already There, issued June 30 fat vinyl version of Incredible Love which you can purchase at his web site here. He also played guitar on the forthcoming Lemonheads record that is due this fall. Located at his web site, Brokaw's touring schedule reads like a Who's Who in indie rock: he'll tour with The New Year in the US in early October and in Europe in November; in August he'll be playing guitar alongside Matador [thanks Jon!] artist Jennifer O'Connor; and like everyone else in North America besides us he will be at All Tomorrow's Parties NY, playing with Thurston Moore.

Bottomless Pit and The Kadane Brothers continue their tour through the 19th of July, and we've posted the remaining dates below; the band's play Montreal tonight. We shot our usual battery of lackluster photos last night and you can check them out here. We stood next to Mr. 'Nac as he recorded the show, and we expect once he gets through his substantial backlog he will post recordings of the excellent show. In the meantime, here's an MP3 from Bottomless Pit's Congress EP, which has been released digitally by Comedy Minus One.

Bottomless Pit -- "Fish Eyes" -- Congress EP
[right click and save as]
[buy Bottomless Pit music from Comedy Minus One right here]

Bottomless Pit: Internerds | MySpace | YouTube | Flickr

The New Year: Internets | MySpace | YouTube | Flickr

07.13 -- Divan Orange -- Montreal, Quebec
07.14 -- Sneaky Dee’s -- Toronto, Ontario
07.17 -- Schuba’s -- Chicago, Illinois
07.18 -- High Noon Saloon -- Madison, Wisconsin
07.19 -- 7th Street Entry -- Minneapolis, Minnesota

July 12, 2008

Johnny Foreigner's Waited Up To Be Released In U.S. In October

Johnny Foreigner
[PHOTO: Amy Bramhall] Pitchfork reported here very non-detailed and seemingly exclusive news Friday that Birmingham, England-based indie rock superheroes Johnny Foreigner have inked an agreement to release their exceptional full-length debut Waited Up Til It Was Light on Nettwerk in North America this fall. As of yet there is no acknowledgment of the deal at the Nettwerk web site, or at the Johnny Foreigner MySpace. But the agreement makes a lot of sense when viewed in the context of this news that MAMA Group, the parent of Johnny Foreigner's UK label Best Before, acquired a 20% stake in Vancouver-based Nettwerk last November for $6M. All of which makes us wonder whether Johnny Foreigner is the "up-and-coming British act" referred to in this Ad Age article last month. And, of course, whether the Nettwerk deal was sort of pre-ordained.

But enough of this biz reporting. Waited Up Til It Was Light, which was issued by Best Before June 2, will be released in the U.S. and Canada in October, although a specific date has not been reported [we reviewed the record here last month]. Looking at our Google Calendar, the set will be in North American retail racks on either the 7th, 14th, 21st or 28th of October. How's that for some crackerjack reporting? We've been told that a potential U.S. tour for late this year has already been dreamed up and scrapped, but we wonder if this news about the Nettwerk deal changes things. Right now Johnny Foreigner's touring commitments, at least those that are enumerated at its MySpace wigwam, are completed as of Oct. 8, when the trio will play a hometown show with Sunset Cinema Club and the bright new Distophia-offshoot Calories. All of which means, possibly -- just possibly -- the band could rock U.S. shores later this fall.

Today Johnny Foreigner play Canterbury, England's Lounge On The Farm festival, and you can see all their tour dates at the above-referenced MySpace. Music fans may recall Nettwerk as being relatively forward-thinking with regards to digital music and the Internet in general. Its director of marketing was quoted recently in a Wall Street Journal piece "Indie Artists Drum Up Corporate Ties," and Nettwerk last week disclosed a revenue sharing and marketing partnership with chat app Meebo; the label also sells music through P2P play LimeWire's music store in addition to the usual battery of digital music storefronts. Nettwerk is comprised of substantial recorded music, publishing and management operations that work with artists including Avril Lavigne, Sarah McLachlan and Josh Rouse. With all due respect to those artists, they don't rock. So here's some rock music.

Johnny Foreigner -- "This End. Is A Beginning (Demo)" -- I Like You Mostly Late At Never
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July 10, 2008

Today's Hotness: Paper Cranes, Meneguar, Psapp

Jay, Cracow, June 1997>> [Photo: The author, as shot by Watson, Cracow, 1997] In the 10 seconds it took us to rise from bed this morning and place ourselves under the shower head, some wiseguy on morning gabber "The Today Show" said the word "eastern;" we don't know if he was saying "Eastern Europe" or "Middle Eastern" or what. But what we do know is that immediately this Paper Cranes jam started playing in our head, and has been there most of the day. Right now we are attempting to exorcise it by listening to the track.

We can't recall where how this MP3 made its way to us, although there is metadata in the file indicating it must have come from AreYouFamiliar.Blogspot.com, which we don't recall ever reading and which hasn't posted an update since 2006. The mystery remains. As best we can tell the band is the same one you can find at this MySpace dojo, although we are not certain. If indeed it is them, The Paper Cranes' current material is decidedly more pop, less rough around the edges and spiky. But certainly worth a listen. But this one below is the jam, at least for frigid winter days, which of course is as far from the weather we have in Boston right now as it could get.

Paper Cranes -- "January In Eastern Europe" -- Demo 2005
[right click and save as]
[buy Paper Cranes records from the band here]

>> Indie punk geniuses Meneguar and freakier/jammier sister act Woods (it's not really a side project, it is really its own thing) have just disclosed some European tour dates that you can view here. None of the dates is in the UK, so we imagine somewhere right about now certain dudes in Johnny Foreigner are cursing their busy touring schedule and likely attendant inability to catch the tour as it wends its way from The Netherlands to the Czech Republic. Remember how awesome Meneguar's sophomore full length Strangers In Our House was? No? Here's a reminder.

Meneguar -- "Paint You" -- Strangers In Our House
[right click and save as]
[buy Meneguar records from Troubleman Unlimited right here]

>> Funny how we just mentioned electrotweesters Psapp the other day during our ramblings about the July Muxtape, and now today comes news that the British duo will be releasing a new record in October. The set, Psapp's third, is called The Camel's Back, and it will be out in the U.K. Oct. 27 and in the States the following week. Domino reissued the band's debut Tiger, My Friend, last November. It has the track "Curuncula" on it, which is divine, and so you should have that record. No word on which label will issue The Camel's Back, but it would not surprise us if it is Domino. Surprised we will not be. So there.

>> Clicky Clicky faves Mobius Band play a free hometown show this Sunday at Music Hall of Williamsburg in Brooklyn. The notable trio is slated to appear around 9PM at what is being billed as a Breeders afterparty. So presumably The Breeders are performing thereabouts that afternoon, perhaps at one of those free outdoor swimming pool dealies? Where's our New York correspondent when we need him/her/it. Mobius Band's sophomore set Heaven was issued last year and was one of our favorite records of 2007. Believe it or not, despite the band tirelessly touring Europe and the UK during the last year, Heaven has yet to be released in the UK. This will allegedly happen "soon." Ahh, soon. Anyway, remember this jam?

Mobius Band -- "Hallie" -- Heaven
[right click and save as]
[buy Mobius Band records from Misra here]

>> At least one reader out there likes to tease us about our affinity for the various bands of Ben Parker, including Superman Revenge Squad and the mighty Nosferatu D2. So for him, here is a link to a blog post from Mr. Parker indicating a Nosferatu D2 reunion of sorts is planned for a gig to take place on Parker's birthday. A few more details here.

>> We would have loved to hear Modest Mouse cover almost the entirety of Built To Spill's unparalleled There's Nothing Wrong With Love. Alas.

July 8, 2008

Coming Soon: Karl Hendricks Trio's Gesture Gets Digital Reissue

If one song can sum up the mid-'90s, or more precisely all the stand-out losercore for riot nerrrrrds committed to magnetic tape therein, a strong argument can be made that Karl Hendricks Trio's cataclysmic, bilious "Foolish Words Of A Woman In Love" is such a song. The tune -- from the Pittsburgh-based act's ace 1995 set A Gesture Of Kindness originally pressed to CD by Fiasco and later by Spirit Of Orr -- features Mr. Hendricks at his most acerbic, lyrically. You may recall we wrote about it before here. Every moment of this song seethes, from the opening line ("I listened to 'Wild Horses' forty-seven times in a row still trying to figure out why you had to go") to the sledgehammering coda ("Did you just change your mind? Or were you lying to me the whole time? Was it someone else you were thinking of or just the foolish words of a woman in love?"). In keeping with the heavy vibe, it sounds like there are 15 guitar tracks on this number, and the entire proceedings threaten to combust at any given moment (which, incidentally, they do during "Your Damned Impertinence," which closes out Gesture in apocalyptic fashion). Jon Solomon's increasingly important Comedy Minus One enterprise -- which recently issued a limited edition Oxford Collapse 12" Hann-Byrd -- digitally issues a remastered version of A Gesture Of Kindness this month. We just checked EMusic (and ITunes, and AmazonMP3) and the set is not available yet (although For A While, It Was Funny is, and we've only ever had that on cassette, so yay for us).

Anyway, "Foolish Words" is but one highlight of the collection; also on board is the devastating "The Scoffer's Reply" and "King Beds And Morning Coffee." The digital release also includes two additional tracks: "Coming In September" and "They May Be Paper," where were released as opposite sides of a single around the same time as Gesture. While A Gesture Of Kindness is really a record that deserves to be owned in a physical format, Mr Solomon once again makes his nation proud by providing the important service of making available to the disaffected masses an important Karl Hendricks recording. We reviewed Mr. Hendricks' most recent set, The World Says, here in May 2007. For now, feast your ears on some "Foolish Words."

Karl Hendricks Trio -- "Foolish Words Of A Woman In Love" -- A Gesture Of Kindness
[right click and save as]
[buy A Gesture Of Kindness from EMusic here soon]

Karl Hendricks Trio: InterWeb | MySpace | YouTube | Flickr

July 7, 2008

Muxtape No. 13: Make Those Horses Jump Through Hoops Aflame

First things first: with this 13th :: clicky clicky :: Muxtape, we have decided to now create new mixes monthly instead of weekly. This is partly because we feel like we've been reviewing fewer records because of the process of putting the mix together over coffee on weekends. It is also because come this fall we'll be lucky if we can get a monthly mix up let alone a weekly one. We may or may not have mentioned this, but much like it was last fall, :: clicky clicky :: will be largely dormant in September and October because of a very intense work project that will stretch from mid-September until around Thanksgiving. Unless we find someone we trust to steer the blog during that time, there likely won't be much to look at here (although we're hopeful we'll be able to keep our Twitter feed fairly lively).

Anyway, Muxtape No. 13. We're not sure if there is a theme, but there are a few tracks from the excellent Lounge Ax Defense & Relocation Compact Disc compilation from 1996. It includes a number of hot numbers including Guided By Voices' "Under A Festering Moon" and Seam's "The Prizefighters," both of which you can stream along with the rest of the Muxtape at this link. The playlist and more exposition about the various tracks below.
1. The Feelies -- "It's Only Life" -- Only Life
(We were gripped with a mild case of Feelies reunion-a-mania of late, although not so gripped that we made the trip to New York to see a show. But we took the reunion as an opportunity to re-rip our Feelies discs and revisit them in turn. We turned on to the band when Only Life was released in 1988 based on a review in Spin. An odd place to start with the band, but we were 14 at the time and therefore not really musically aware during the band's earlier (non-)heyday. This is the opening track, and it is fair to say it drew us in immediately. The rest of the record took a bit longer to grow on us, but it became a favorite. We remember re-discovering it during a drive through western Carolina sometime in the last decade.)

2. Palace Brothers -- "Horses" -- Lost Blues And Other Songs
(This track has one of the most unabashedly awesome guitar solos in recorded music. Which is strange, because Will Oldham's music typically never stresses guitar pyrotechnics. But after the p'ar-fully mournful verses the solo is especially transforming. Wait for it, and then turn it up loud. And during the solo the sound of the guitar pick strumming the acoustic playing rhythm starts to sound a little like buried hand-claps. Weird.)

3. Seam -- "The Prizefighters" -- The Lounge Ax Defense & Relocation Compact Disc
(Typically exemplary and quiet seething from Soo Young Park and Seam with a verse that alternately waltzes and inevitably builds. Never quite explodes, but it is still very satisfying. The second guitar in the second verse does something unusual and we don't know what the effect is. This track is so good we're going to post the MP3 as well right here: Seam -- "The Prizefighters" -- Lounge Ax Comp. Right click and save as.)

4. The Magnetic Fields -- "Too Drunk To Dream" -- Distortion
(A drinking anthem from the luckiest guy on the Lower East Side. After having this title written in our little spiral notebook of records to buy (yes, we've got one) for months, we finally remembered to pick it up at Newbury Comics last week after popping in for the Liz Phair reissue. We had high hopes, as one reviewer at the time of Distortion's release made the blasphemous assessment that the set was better than The Jesus And Mary Chain's Psychocandy. Well, it most certainly is not. That said, it is an interesting experiment for Stephin Merrit and there are several tracks that are very good, including this one.)

5. Meneguar -- "Freshman Thoughts" -- Strangers In Our House
(At home the press gets hold of freshman thoughts, they give your sad life away. We realized recently that we'd made little comment about the Meneguar vinyl-only release The In Hour which was released this year. That's primarily because we rarely listen to it. The production is a bit frustrating, and of course we don't have it digitized, so we usually just reach for Strangers, which you will recall was our favorite record of 2007. "Freshman Thoughts" is still ace, and will always be ace. Whoa -- we just got a MySpace bulletin from Meneguar and apparently The In Hour is now available as a CD. Guess we'll have to buy it so we can rock out to it properly.)

6. Paul Westerberg -- "Something Is Me" -- 14 Songs
(We love this song exclusively for the lyric "Something went wrong, my name is Paul." Blitzed genius from the former fronter of The Replacements.)

7. Psapp -- "Tricycle (Live)" -- Morning Becomes Electric Radio Session, June 14, 2006
(Kind of a jarring gear change from the Westerberg cut, but there you go. Galia Durant's voice is so pretty it hurts. This one has a great lyric as well: "I drag my feet and drag us down, you don't want me around..." As the title suggests this is from a radio session which is surprisingly solid considering the band has taken tunes composed electronically and rendered them very nicely with acoustic instruments.)

8. Shannon McArdle -- "Poison My Cup" -- Summer Of The Whore
(We mentioned this track within last week's Muxtape. We love the increasingly dense production here: big toms, big guitar reverb, lurking distorted guitar. And then the airy, buried backing vocals. And then the brief teases of bass guitar. McArdle's vocal is one of her most fetching. Very much looking forward to this record.)

9. Preston School Of Industry -- "The Spaces In Between" -- Goodbye To The Edge City EP
(Quirky space pop from Pavement's Spiral Stairs. This is his best track from any of his bands, in our opinion. Just one hook that spills everywhere with vim and vigor. We wish this song was about 30 minutes long, and maybe had a remix by KLF. That'd be hot.)

10. The Raveonettes -- "Blush" -- Lust, Lust, Lust
(Frightened Rabbit's Imeem guest list contained a Raveonettes track and reminded us of how taken we were with the record earlier this year, when it had almost exclusive ownership of our car CD player. Wall of sound. Distortion. Perhaps this should have been sequenced next to the McArdle track. Oh well.)

11. Guided By Voices -- "Under A Festering Moon" -- The Lounge Ax Defense & Relocation CD
(At first we were enamored of this track during our college radio years because of the sound of an amp -- and its reverb chamber -- being dropped on the ground in the chorus. Which is what we presume makes the repeated crash in this excellent track. But the tune is more than its window dressing. It's a solid Pollard composition. It sounds like cold beer in a can, and then it wanders off like a purposeful drunk at the end.)

12. Radiohead -- "Last Flowers To The Hospital" -- In Rainbows Disc 2
(Thom Yorke does sad as well as anybody. Probably should have sequenced this next to the Palace track, but there you go.)

July 6, 2008

Today's Hotness: Johnny Foreigner, The Feelies, Ladytron

Johnny Foreigner in 3D
>> So that third single from Johnny Foreigner's amazing full-length Waited Up Til It Was Light? For "Salt, Peppa and Spinderella?" That we previously told you would be out Sept. 1 on Best Before in the UK? Now it is coming out on Sept. 8. The Birmingham, England-based trio will push the single (and the album) with still more in an endless line of tour dates, this time a short strand from Sept. 21 to Oct. 5 with newly minted labelmates Dananananaykroyd. We don't know what the b-side to the single will contain, perhaps a cut from a radio session? Incidentally, have any of you Johnny Foreigner fans out there been catching those UK radio sessions and turning them into MP3s? If so, please send them along. With the difference in time zones it is just too difficult for us to keep track of. We reviewed Waited Up Til It Was Light right here.

>> NYCTaper has the second set of The Feelies' recent show at Maxwell's. We've only listened to the first two tracks, but it seems like a nice recording, albeit a little quiet. Snatch it here.

>> It is with a heavy heart that we note the passing of the excellent music blog You Shall Know Our Discography, which posted this goodbye June 30. The blog posted many rare and many more excellent songs from superlative '90s records and compilations. Most recently it posted about Jiffy Boy Records' thoroughly excellent Ten Cent Fix compilation CD, which features great tracks from Barnabys, Poole, Grifters, Lilys and many others. A tip of the hat to you, Mr. Discography. Your blog will be missed. Here are two of our favorite tracks from Ten Cent Fix:

Barnabys -- "Gargamel" -- Ten Cent Fix: A Jiffy Boy Records Compilation
Slow Children Playing -- "Thirteen" -- Ten Cent Fix: A Jiffy Boy Records Compilation
[right click and save as]
[search the Internerdz for a copy; we couldn't find one for sale anywhere]

>> If we had money to hire a correspondent to cover shows, and he was interested, we would first ask Keith from The Dead Part Of You. His colorful but blunt assessments are a pleasure to read, and we particularly enjoyed his take on the recent Ladytron show at Boston's Paradise Rock Club. Check it out here.

July 4, 2008

Free Range Music: Albert Hammond, Jr., Frightened Rabbit, Lithops

>> [PHOTO: Valérie Jodoin-Keaton] Strokes guitarist Albert Hammond, Jr. in recent years has proven himself a more reliable purveyor of solid indie rock music than The Strokes themselves. This is unfair to the group, of course, which still struggles with meeting the insurmountable expectations set by its stunning 2001 debut. But Mr. Hammond's records sound unencumbered by such concerns and embrace and deploy a broader arsenal of textures and tones, and his forthcoming collection ¿Cómo Te Llama? may be his best yet. Highlights include the straight-ahead rock of "In My Room" and the airy guitar lullabye "Spooky Couch." The latter track rounds out with a kick-heavy drum beat that gives the proceedings the feel of an analogue analog to a B. Fleischmann track, and it is our favorite Hammond track to date. ¿Cómo Te Llama?, Hammond's sophomore effort, will be released Tuesday on RCA/Black Seal, and you can stream the entire set at his MySpace dojo right here. Hammond's solo debut Yours To Keep was released in 2006.

>> Selkirk, Scotland's finest Frightened Rabbit, fresh from rounding out a U.S. tour with final dates in Boston and Brooklyn, has posted a guest playlist to Imeem.com that you can stream right here. Better still is interspersed among the tracks is commentary from band fronter Scott Hutchison and "the rest of Frightened Rabbit, as they're known." The playlist itself is a bit surprising, as it includes selections from acts as wide-ranging as The Band ("Jawbone") and Portishead ("Machine Gun"). And perhaps a little more surprising is when Mr. Hutchison discusses shaving his crotch and going to a Sigur Ros show.

>> You know the big deal that was made about that fellow from DFA creating an exercise mix for Nike? Well, if we had our druthers we'd have farmed the job out to Jan St. Werner based on the strength of his skewed dancefloor/cardio machine banger "Rosa In A Light Speed Vessel." You know Mr. St. Werner's name because he is one half of veteran electronic music pacesetters Mouse On Mars, and you likely recall the duo collaborated with The Fall's Mark E. Smith for the brilliant Von Sudenfed project last year. "Rosa In A Light Speed Vessel," which is a product of St. Werner's Lithops project, smears a lot of slithery abstraction over top of a propulsive beat, giving you a lot to listen to on the treadmill if you feel like listening, and at the very least providing a crushing 4/4 to buoy you along the way. The track is from the set Mound Magnet pt. 2 - Elevations Above Sea Level, which was released in late May on Killer Pimp.

Lithops -- "Rosa In A Light Speed Vessel" -- Mound Magnet pt. 2 - Elevations Above Sea Level
[right click and save as]
[buy the set from Killer Pimp right here]

>> While winnowing out -- or attempting to, anyway -- our inbox this morning we came across music from My Milky Way Arms, a shoegaze trio based in Houston. The act, about which there is fairly little useful biographical information, is currently touring the east coast of the United States to promote a self-titled EP. We streamed the thing this morning [link below] and found its five songs to be very engaging, melodic, swirly and distorted. There is most certainly some (orchestral period) Flaming Lips influence at work, as well as nods in the direction of vintage Mercury Rev and Slowdive. It is the big surprise of the weekend. Check out some MP3s below, and hit the band's MySpace domicile to see if they are coming to your town; The Milky Way Arms play Richmond, Virginia tonight.

The Milky Way Arms -- "Magneto (Aahhh!)" -- The Milky Way Arms EP
The Milky Way Arms -- "Unbearable Lightness Of Being" -- The Milky Way Arms EP
The Milky Way Arms -- "Sunshine" -- The Milky Way Arms EP
[right click and save as]
[buy The Milky Way Arms EP from Milky Syndication here]
[stream the entire EP here]

July 2, 2008

That Was The Show That Was: Frightened Rabbit w/ Oxford Collapse

We aren't naïve enough to believe that last night's magical performance by Frightened Rabbit was more than a single point along an ascending arc. Far from a frog-kissing story, the band has put in the hours and the miles: the Selkirk, Scotland-situated quartet has performed in Boston four times in the last nine months; shifted a respectable number of units of its sophomore set (The Midnight Organ Fight is expected to soon scan into five figures); secured a top 30 showing on college radio charts and a few plays on television to boot; sold out recently the Black Cat Backstage on a Monday night.

All that said, we couldn't help wondering where the hell all the people who thronged the act's headlining set last night at TT The Bear's came from. They sang along. They made surprisingly thoughtful song requests. They loved the band as much as we love the band, a rare occurrence. Somewhere along their recent circuit around North America Frightened Rabbit have become giants. And the more we ponder on it, the more we see signs that the act is on the cusp of breaking in a very big way. It was a bittersweet realization that last night was likely the last time we'll ever see Frightened Rabbit play a club of the size of TT's.

Prior to showtime we had an email from a publicist for the band who noted Frightened Rabbit has gotten better every time he's seen them. And being as jaded, surly and generally contrary as we are, we dismissed the comment as marketing bullrorfle. But after being blown away last night, we have to admit it is true. Where the Hutchison brothers, Billy Kennedy and Andy Monaghan previously scored big points with remarkably impassioned performances, last night there was a lot more going on. Even more exciting than finally seeing the jittery key-pounder "The Twist" and the electrifying "Go Go Girls" performed live (the latter cut was performed with supporting act Oxford Collapse's drummer Dan Fetherston pulled onstage with a floor tom) was an enhanced and palpable musical chemistry among the four players. It manifests itself as ease and confidence, and it precipitated the most nuanced performance from Frightened Rabbit of the three we've seen.

There were new and newly enhanced arrangements on display as well; what has been done with the heart-stopper "My Backwards Walk" is particularly gripping. And perhaps most impressive of all, with the addition of Mr. Monaghan, the live arrangements now come close to re-creating even the more intricate compositions on The Midnight Organ Fight. Of course some things remained familiar. The band closed the show with its incendiary medley of "The Greys" and "Square 9." And drummer Grant Hutchison still threatened to dismember his drum kit at times (particularly during the spectacular rave-up that closes the latter tune), although his playing seems to have become more shaded as far as dynamics are concerned.

It is easier to tell you what the band did not play, rather than what they did. To our recollection there was no performance of "Set You Free," "It's Christmas So Let's Stop," "Keep Yourself Warm," "Floating In The Forth," "Snake" or any of what we refer to as the interstitial compositions (although for a moment we really thought they were going to do "Extrasupervery."). What was played was largely transcendent. "Music Now" really thumped, as did "Old Old Fashioned." After Scott performed "Poke" as a solo encore, the plug was pulled on the show -- even as the other three chaps were taking the stage for who knows what sort of finale. We were hoping for a rendition of the aforementioned b-side "Set You Free," but we suppose we'll never know. We're keeping our fingers crossed for one more tour from the band before the year is out; we're greedy like that.

It is worth noting that Sub Pop signees Oxford Collapse performed an excellent set that is worthy of its own review, especially considering the great cameo Scott Hutchison made for a track whose name we don't know (we plan to scour the Half.com for the OC back catalog after we get this posted). However, time being short, we'll simply weigh in with our approval and pass along that the Brooklyn trio expects to be back in Boston in August supporting its very good set BITS, which will be issued Aug. 5 and already gets a thumbs up from us. We're hoping to cover that show, at which point we can discuss the many finer points of Oxford Collapse. We're posting the BITS preview track "The Birthday Wars," which got a hot workout last night, below. Anyway, our particularly mediocre pictures from the show -- including some of Oxford Collapse's set -- are online right here. Here's your recommended daily allowance of MP3 files:

Frightened Rabbit -- "The Modern Leper" -- The Midnight Organ Fight
[right click and save as]
[buy The Midnight Organ Fight from Fat Cat right here]

Oxford Collapse -- "The Birthday Wars" -- BITS
[right click and save as]
[pre-order BITS from Sub Pop right here]

Frightened Rabbit: Internets | MySpace | YouTube | Flickr

Selected Prior Frightened Rabbit coverage:

FR Live at the Middle East, March 2008
Review: Frightened Rabbit | The Midnight Organ Fight
FR Live at Great Scott, November 2007

July 1, 2008

Muxtape No. 12: Things I Need To Do Before The Batteries Die

Welcome to the weekly Muxtape, or at least the various scattered thoughts centering thereon. Seems like the theme this week is remarkable lyrics. Kind of a general idea, nothing like trying to prove a point about Dosh and Gastr Del Sol as we endeavored to do last week. You can listen to all the tracks here. Read on for our musings.
1. The Mendoza Line -- "Road To Insolvency" -- Fortune
(We're surprised by two things: 1) that Shannon McArdle will have a solo record out before former Mendoza Line and life-partner-in-crime Timothy Bracy and 2) that the songs at Ms. McArdle's MySpace cabin are so appealing. If we haven't come right out and said it before, we'll say it now: we always preferred Bracy's tunes to McArdle's in the Mendoza Line canon. Such as this song "Road To Insolvency." The guy can write amazing lyrics, his singing voice is rumpled to the extent of being wholly ace. But this new McArdle stuff is really very good. We saw Large-Hearted Boy hosting an MP3 from the set today, hopefully have time to do a post about it later this week. Ah, what the hell, we already wrote about the tune last week, so here it is: Shannon McArdle -- "Poison In My Cup" -- Summer Of The Whore; right click on the hyperlink and save as.)

2. The Replacements -- "Staples In Her Stomach (Outtake)" -- Stink [Expanded]
(This is the "bonus" track we were most interested in hearing from the recent Mats reissues, as it had been hyped more than once in the books we've read concerning the erstwhile Minneapolis band. And while it is slightly one-dimensional, it doesn't disappoint. It's was appended to the expanded version of Stink, but seems to be more of a piece with Sorry Ma. Another great lyric.)

3. Nosferatu D2 -- "Broken Tamagotchi" -- Nosferatu D2
(When Ben Parker yowls "the telephone is ringing!" in this track the hair on the back of our neck stands up. No one does literate and terribly exercised like Mr. Parker, whose acclaim falls far short of his immense talent. The title to this Muxtape is taken from this searing tune.)

4. Modest Mouse -- "Whenever I Breathe Out You Breathe In (Live)" -- Bootleg, May 19, Some Year
(Originally on the band's first single backed with "Broke," and while the Modest Mouse catalogue has many, many great songs, we tell anyone who will listen that they've never surpassed the excellence -- or at least the annihilating emotional impact -- of the first single. This live version is a nice take on the recording, and it was posted to some music blog a billion years ago when music blogs were shorter and lived closer to the water.)

5. The Swimmers -- "Pocket Full Of Gold (Live)" -- The Hideout, Chicago, 2008
(So we figured we'd post up another live track. We really like The Swimmers record that was finally released this year. The Philly-based quartet was giving away -- for a while anyway -- MP3s of their show last spring at The Hideout in Chicago. "Heaven" was the "big" track from the record, but we are equally as enamored with this rocker. We enjoy those plinky tones at the beginning, and the drumming on this recording sounds particularly forceful, in a good way.)

6. The Trolleyvox -- "Stomping Grounds" -- Luzerne
(And then we figured we'd keep it Philly style. This is from the T-vox's double set released last year. It's a quiet acoustic and violin-appointed thing, a ruminating vocal. This track is about a million miles away from the vitriol packaged above in the Nosferatu D2 track, and truthfully this seems more like an autumnal jam, but it's so purty we'll just leave it here.)

7. Wimp Factor 14 -- "Rebuilding Europe" -- Some 'zine comp
(We've always preferred the Eggs cover from that band's amazing Exploder! release. But even so, we were always intrigued to find and hear the original, and then it finally was posted to BCO or some such outpost of musical musicery, and we were pleased. This track features one of the best opening lines of the '90s: "I don't want to be part of your Marshall Plan...")

8. Unwound -- "Lady Elect" -- Repetition
(This record came out at the end of our college days and even now seems to sum up that period of time well. But even outside of our own context, Unwound seemed to harness the disaffected zeitgeist of the early and mid-'90s, post-grunge indie northwest. It would seem that when Mr. Cobain died, this trio, who we once saw destroy the Khyber in Philly many moons ago, stepped in to carry the mantle of the broken and disturbed. Love the subtle vibraphone -- we think that's what it is -- at the end of this track.)

9. The Sea And Cake -- "Civilise" -- The Fawn
(We referenced our strong feelings for The Sea And Cake's The Fawn Sunday, so we thought we'd throw in a track here from that excellent album. A nice gentle chorus, and wonderful pattering snare drum in the verse under spare piano and guitar. A very handsome package, and a track that could just have easily been on the more guitar-oriented set The Biz, rather than the somewhat electronically tilted The Fawn.)

10. Yo La Tengo -- "Beach Party Tonight" -- Summer Sun
(We were just at the beach. It was nice. Almost as nice as this top shelf Yo La Tengo dreamer. In a perfect world this song would lull us to sleep every night.)

11. Lifter Puller -- "Nassau Coliseum" -- Soft Rock
(We came to this pre-Hold Steady band way late, we admit. This track is amazing, as amazing as anything Mr. Finn has put his name on since. The relentless listing of cities and towns at the end leads up to a bawdy but stirring finish.)

12. The Promise Ring -- "Best Looking Boys" -- Boys And Girls
(So this sort of acts as a chaser of sorts to Mr. Finn's x-rated proclamation above, as here we have one of Davey Von Bohlen's innocent pop confections. It's no "Red And Blue Jeans," but few songs approach the greatness of that amazing track. So here we send you off with a pop song. Have a nice day.)