August 31, 2008

Today's Hotness: Ringo Deathstarr, Superman Revenge Squad, Psapp

Ringo Deathstarr
>> Two of our favorite acts, Ringo Deathstarr and Superman Revenge Squad, have recently posted new material for streaming at their respective MySpace drive-thrus. Austin-based shoegaze celebrants Ringo Deathstarr, which commenced a rare but short strand of tour dates last night, has just uploaded two tunes, including the JAMC-ariffic "In Love" and the pop-ambient dreamer "Summer Time." The latter track is almost a shoegaze revision to the standard "Girl From Ipanema," while the former track is in the mold of Jesus And Mary Chain's controversial single "Reverence." If we recall correctly, the two tracks are intended for a forthcoming single or EP. The Deathstarr's planned live dates include three very rare East Coast engagements in Baltimore, Washington, D.C. and New York. Frankly, we're astonished that no one booked the quartet in Philadelphia or Boston while it is out this way. But the world is a crazy, mixed-up place, innit? View the planned live dates here.

Superman Revenge Squad, for its part, has also added two new tracks to its MySpace dojo. One is the folksy strummer "Pupkin," and the other is the likely quasi-title track (that is, the title is in the lyrics, but is not the song title) to a forthcoming full-length from Ben Parker's solo entity. This second track, "I'm Gonna Go To Bed And When I Wake Up I Gonna Be Someone Else," opens with a characteristic spoken proclamation and segues into the manner of desperate strummery to which we've grown accustomed by following Mr. Parker's music for a little over a year. The tune also delivers one of Parker's typically self-eviscerating closing lines: ..."and looking back you weren't as useless in the sack as you gave yourself credit for." As usual, talking about Superman Revenge Squad has led us down the black hole of listening to Nosferatu D2's "A Footnote" on repeat. Nosferatu D2 was one of Mr. Parker's former bands, and as "A Footnote" is likely one of the best songs written in this decade, we're posting it below for what feels like the hundredth time.

Nosferatu D2 -- "A Footnote" -- Nosferatu D2
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>> In early July we told you that Psapp would release its third record The Camel's Back later this year. Well, things have changed somewhat. While the U.K. release date Oct. 27 remains, the early November North American release has been pushed back to Jan. 20 according to an email from the quirky, London-based electropop duo. Another new bit of information: the first single from the record is "The Monster Song," which Psapp alleges is "a hugely catchy pop number, life affirming and vast." The single will be promoted with an animated video slated for release "soon." You can pre-order the U.K. version of The Camel's Back from Domino right here. There are several Psapp tracks we can't get enough of, and one of these is "Curuncula" from the act's 2004 set Tiger, My Friend. Below we're posting a recording of Psapp performing the number on radio broadcaster KCRW's Morning Becomes Eclectic program in 2006.

Psapp -- "Curuncula (Live)" -- Morning Becomes Eclectic, 14 June 2006
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[by Psapp records from Newbury Comics right here]

August 29, 2008

That Was The Show That Was: Xiu Xiu at the Paradise

Xiu Xiu at the Paradise Rock Club, Boston
To paraphrase the late Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart, we can't tell you what psychodrama is (never fear, Wikipedia can: "In psychodrama, participants explore internal conflicts through acting out their emotions and interpersonal interactions on stage."), but we know it when we see it. And we saw it Wednesday night when Oakland, Calif.-based indie trio Xiu Xiu passionately delivered a set of its beautiful, harrowing, exploding noise-pop at Boston's Paradise Rock Club. Beyond its truly exceptional cover of Joy Division's wonderful guitar anthem "Ceremony" and several tracks culled from blogs, we aren't overly familiar with Xiu Xiu's repertoire. But Xiu Xiu's performance was quite literally spectacular (that is, "dramatically daring and thrilling"), so the set was very satisfying to behold even for a basically uninformed fan.

Mr. Stewart's group is currently completed by Caralee McElroy on harmonium, melodica and percussion and Ches Smith on drums and percussion. As the set progressed Mr. Smith's performance in particular became increasingly intense, and he often rose from his drum stool and assisted the exorcism of Stewart's (seemingly myriad and deadly serious) demons by slamming a series of cymbals. But it was nearly impossible to look away from Stewart, whose theatrical tenor readily careened between a mournful murmur and a full-throated condemnation. McElroy, by contrast, cooly switched among her instruments and offered lead and backing vocals in an understated manner. We were pleased to hear "I Do What I Want, When I Want" from Xiu Xiu's most recent set Women As Lovers, which was released by Kill Rock Stars in January. The Urban Legend, our connect for a much-appreciated guest list spot, was particularly jazzed by a re-worked version of "Fabulous Muscles."

Xiu Xiu had just been in Boston in May, and that proximity may have precipitated the relatively light turn-out last night. Even so, the floor in front of the stage was filled with scores of solemn, angular-haired fans. You can look at a few additional pictures we took during the show right here. Xiu Xiu's tour continues tonight at Bowery Ballroom in Manhattan. The remaining two weeks of tour dates are posted below. Finally, because it is one of our favorites, we're posting the aforementioned cover of "Ceremony" below (which we found at this Spoilt Victorian Child post back in the day).

Xiu Xiu -- "Ceremony" -- Chapel Of The Chimes EP
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[buy Xiu Xiu records from Newbury Comics right here]

Xiu Xiu: Internerds | MySpace | YouTube | Flickr

08/28 -- Bowery Ballroom -- New York, New York
08/29 -- Garfield Artworks -- Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
08/30 -- Milo -- Columbus, Ohio
09/01 -- Grog Shop -- Cleveland, Ohio
09/02 -- Crofoot Ballroom -- Pontiac, Michigan
09/03 -- Bottom Lounge -- Chicago, Illinois
09/04 -- House Cafe -- Dekalb, Illinois
09/05 -- High Noon Saloon -- Madison, Wisconsin
09/06 -- Triple Rock Social Club -- minneapolis, Minnesota
09/07 -- Aquarium -- Fargo, North Dakota
09/10 -- Chop Suey -- Seattle, Washington
09/11 -- Backspace -- Portland, Oregon
09/13 -- Bottom Of The Hill -- San Francisco, California

August 26, 2008

Clicky Clicky 200 Steps Into The Light With Archers Of Loaf

Archers Of Loaf -- Vee VeeWe feel our proclivity to tie posts to a news peg has kept us from simply writing about our favorite songs. So herewith we inaugurate a new series called The Clicky Clicky 200. The series casts light upon the 200 tracks that we've listened to most, as tabulated by ITunes. Point of interest: the barrier to entry as we start the series is 27 plays, which is the amount received by track 200, The Association's 1967 pop hit "Windy," a favorite of the missus.

But we're not going to go in any set order, so the first tune we'll write about is actually #198, '90s noise-pop heroes Archers Of Loaf's "Step Into The Light." The song opened the North Carolina-based quartet's sophomore collection Vee Vee, which we were fortunate enough to receive on vinyl for free as part of the spoils of being music director in college. At the time of its release "Step Into The Light" seemed like a departure for the band, whose first album and early singles were less introspective and a touch more straightforward. "Step Into The Light," by contrast patiently plods like a long, measured series of breaths. Fronter Eric Bachmann (now a solo artist) quietly pleads "step into the light, so tired of being in the dark and all alone," but the real grabber is bassist Matt Gentling's mournful holler in the background "step into the ligggggggghhhhhhht!" Bob Weston's wonderfully naturalistic production renders the guitars bristly and the drums crisply boxy (seems like an oxymoron, here it's not), but the composition itself is a slow, airy trudge. Compared to the early Archers Of Loaf material the track borders on cinematic. We're posting the album version and a live recording below; you can also grab it and a whole mess of other free Archers downloads over at the band's Last.fm page. Incidentally, we predict an Archers reunion in the next couple of years, maybe a festival one-off or something. For now, "Step Into The Light" is #198 in The Clicky Clicky 200.

Archers Of Loaf -- "Step Into The Light" -- Vee Vee
Archers Of Loaf -- "Step Into The Light (Live)" -- Tramps, NYC, 26 Nov 1996
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[buy Archers Of Loaf records from Newbury Comics right here]

Archers Of Loaf: Internerds | MySpace | YouTube | Flickr

August 24, 2008

That Was The Show That Was: Varsity Drag with Lump | O'Brien's

Varsity Drag at O'Brien's
We are indignant. Where is the profile for Boston indie rock superlatives Varsity Drag? Sure, we are more than pleased that we are able to stand five feet from Lemonheads co-founder Ben Deily's trio as it performs on one of the smallest stages in its hometown. But as a fan, we are conflicted by the access. Varsity Drag's material is on par with Mr. Deily's best tunes written with the band that made him "famous" (we're thinking "Uhhhh," "Anyway," "Two Weeks In Another Town," the ballad "Postcard"), but his current outfit seems to enjoy greater acclaim in Germany or even Australia than at home. Why Varsity Drag doesn't have the following that would allow it to headline shows at, say, The Paradise is beyond us.

On Friday night the act, anchored by Lisa Deily on bass and explosive drummer Mike "Panama" Quinn, treated a few dozen faithful to spirited takes on half the material from the 2006 set For Crying Out Loud, as well as about as many new tracks (or at least new to us, it looks like all the material is on the out-of-print Ben Deily compilation All These Years Gone By: Selected Songs, 1986-2001) and classic Lemonheads cuts. We always feel especially fortunate to hear the latter material, because -- as we wrote here in February -- by the time we got turned on to Lemonheads Deily had just exited the band, making it impossible for us to have seen him perform the songs created while he was with the act that Evan Dando later rode into the spotlight (Dando's current incarnation of The Lemonheads intends to release an album of covers in September).

As it had when we saw the band at The Cantab earlier this year, Varsity Drag reached back for Lemonheads' "Burying Ground" and "Second Chance," and then it threw in :: clicky clicky :: favorite "Anyway" and "Falling" for good measure. The set commenced with two of the biggest Drag anthems, the scratchy pop delight "Skinny Ties" and the powerfully wistful "Summertime." Not long after the band played its ode to legendary scenester Billy Ruane, who we recently saw storm the upstairs room at The Middle East with a tray of fresh baklava. At O'Brien's we tugged on Deily's shirtsleeve prior to showtime and he reports the band has no live dates booked until November, and he is hopeful to make substantial progress writing songs for the next Varsity Drag album in the meantime.

In the top supporting slot for the night was recently resuscitated Massachusetts power-pop quartet Lump, who turned in a surprisingly sludgy and rocking set. We're not sure if all the sludge was intentional, as the sound guy was inattentive enough at first to leave guitarist Rock's (no surname for Mr. Rock) mic out of the mix for the first few numbers. In reviewing our pictures from the night (flickr set here) we were amused to see that between the rocking out, the shorts and the lighting that Lump reminded us a little of Helmet, visually. In reality Lump is sonically more akin to bands like Small 23. We aren't overly familiar with Lump's repertoire, but we showed up hoping to hear the classics "13" and "Tatters" and we weren't disappointed. And closer "Primrose" was an immaculate noisefest that hope to witness again sometime soon. Lump is writing new material and aims to cut a new record as soon as it has enough new material to fill it. For now, head over to the foursome's MySpace dojo to stream the musical goodness.

Varsity Drag -- "Summertime" -- Live On WAAF, 2008
Varsity Drag -- "Skinny Ties" -- For Crying Out Loud
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[buy For Crying Out Loud from the band right here]

Varsity Drag: Internets | MySpace | YouTube | Flickr

August 21, 2008

YouTube Rodeo: Dinosaur Jr.'s "Puke And Cry" Live


A complete face-melter of a performance. We had forgotten all about the HBO show "Reverb." Not that we ever saw it broadcast, but the head WMG press guy we used to deal with back in the day was also the producer of the show. Sent us a VHS of a Built To Spill performance, he did, if memory serves. That's probably around the house somewheres. Anyway, we spent most of Wednesday evening watching Ride and Stone Roses clips, but somehow ended up back looking for Dinosaur Jr. clips from the Green Mind era. We were not disappointed. We'll be seeing Built To Spill and Dinosaur Jr. with Meat Puppets here in Boston next month. Yay.

August 19, 2008

Venice Is Sinking Re-emerges With Two New Records

veniceissinking_georgiatheater
[CORRECTED] So it took us several days but we've finally digested the lengthy email we received last week from Athens, Georgia's Venice Is Sinking. The superlative chamber pop quintet first hit our radar when some blog or other posted the demo track "Undecided" in early 2006. The song ended up on the full length Sorry About The Flowers the same year. In May 2007 the band began working on a follow-up, and after some protracted recording, line-up changes and other real-life business had its collective way with Venice Is Sinking, said follow-up is completed. It is called AZAR, and new tracks from the record are available for streaming at the fivesome's MySpace cabin here. When it rains, however, it pours: Venice Is Sinking has just finished mastering still another record. This set of even newer material was recorded live to two mics at the Georgia Theater in Athens, and the sessions were engineered by former Mercyland dude/Sugar bassist David Barbe.

So when will all this music be released? Venice Is Sinking isn't saying, although the email promises more information next month and perhaps only half-jokingly threatens a double album release on the order of Use Your Illusion, or more aptly Springsteen's Human Touch and Lucky Town one-two punch. The Georgia Theater record may even be released first. In the meantime, you can check out some spacey, solemn and beautiful new tracks (as well as some tour dates) at the aforementioned MySpace outpost. One new An older track, "Pulaski Heights" has been made available for download through CNET's Download.com, but we'll save you the trip and post it below.

Venice Is Sinking -- "Pulaski Heights" -- AZAR Sorry About The Flowers
Venice Is Sinking -- "Undecided (Demo)"
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[watch the Venice Is Sinking MySpace dojo for ordering information]

Mercyland -- "Who Hangs Behind Your Eyes?" -- Spillage/Life Before Sugar Ryko comp
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[buy Spillage at MusicStack.com right here]

August 18, 2008

In The Studio With... The Hush Now

In The Studio With... The Hush Now
Music bloggers get invited to rock shows. It's a regular occurrence. And so -- when it is a band we like and we're not feeling lazy -- we cover them, either on our own dime or on someone else's. But we'd never been invited into a recording studio during our stint as a music blogger prior to receiving an invitation from new Boston-based indie rock quartet The Hush Now. Despite not yet releasing its debut, the band, fronted by songwriter and guitarist Noel Kelly, is already hard at work at recording a second set. As we had just reviewed The Hush Now's self-titled debut and found it really enjoyable [review here], we took up Mr. Kelly on his offer and sat in on sessions Thursday night. The recording of the new record has not been without a little drama. The basement room of the Charlestown recording studio the band was using flooded out not long after tracking began.

This seems to have been taken in stride, and as we settled into a black leather couch in the back of the control room last week basic tracks were already complete and Mr. Kelly was beginning vocal tracks. So for a couple hours -- while also joking around with bassist Mike DiMinno, drummer Barry Marino, keyboardist Kurt Schneider and producer David Newton (formerly of late '80s Sire act The Mighty Lemon Drops) -- we listened in as Kelly did takes of a soaring, guitar-heavy anthem titled "The Atheist." Surprise, surprise, there's a religious theme to the track, a theme the guys joked would bolster the case for reserved seats in hell. The tune touts big crescendoes, not unlike the preview track "Traditions" from The Hush Now, which we're posting again below. No word on when the band's sophomore set will be released, but since The Hush Now is still mid-album cycle with its debut, we expect it will be sometime in 2009. We'll keep you posted.

The Hush Now -- "Traditions" -- The Hush Now
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[watch The Hush Now MySpace dojo for pre-order information]

The Hush Now: Internets | MySpace | YouTube | Flickr

August 16, 2008

Not In America: Hot Club De Paris' "Hey Housebrick"


Observe the video for a wonderful single from Liverpool, England trio Hot Club De Paris released on Moshi Moshi in the U.K. May 25. The tune "Hey Housebrick!," also appears on the band's sophomore full-length Live At Dead Lake, which was released June 16. When oh when will this fantastic record be issued in North America (or, why oh why doesn't some cool benefactor from the UK just send us the best records in the mail)? After all, the record was recorded here, in Chicago with Brian Deck (he formerly of Red Red Meat, he known for producing records by Modest Mouse, Iron & Wine and Chin Up Chin Up). Live At Dead Lake was also issued in a special two-disc edition, the second disc containing acoustic versions of selected tunes as well as videos. EMusic doesn't have anything by Hot Club De Paris save for the single "Will You Still Be In Love With Me Next Year?", which is actually their weakest tune, in our opinion. Still good, but not as good as the rest. Watch more good vids from Hot Club De Paris at YouTube right here.

August 13, 2008

Reader Rewards: Win Johnny Foreigner's Debut Full-Length

Johnny Foreigner -- Waited Up Til It Was Light[UPDATED] So it appears the single for Johnny Foreigner's "Salt, Peppa and Spinderella" has leaked to the Internerds. Or at least we found the eagerly anticipated Bloc Party remix posted here this morning. The track, produced by angular-haired guitarist Russell Lissak, is pretty laid-back and abstract. We had presumed the "SP+S" remixes would be cataclysmic club bangers. And we think we might have preferred that. If we were able to assign the remix job out ourselves we think we would have chosen Nine Inch Nails' Trent Reznor, circa the "Sin" CD5. Or maybe one of those doods in Lords Of Acid. We guess we're showing our age. Oh well -- none of this is the reason we're posting this morning. But while we're talking about it, the "Salt, Peppa and Spinderella" single will be issued on 10" vinyl by Best Before Records in the UK on Sept. 8.

Now to the business at hand. We're lucky enough to have one extra copy -- still in the shrinkwrap -- of the British version of Johnny Foreigner's seriously awesome Waited Up Til It Was Light. We reviewed the record here, and we've got a very strong suspicion it will be our favorite record of 2008, or at least top three. The Birmingham, England-based trio's set was released in the UK in early June, but the domestic version won't be in stores in North America until October (although, according to Wikipedia, the actual date is now Sept. 23). Sure, the album has been available digitally at all the usual digital storefronts for a few weeks. But the tangible artifact is well-worth seeking out (which is why we paid a ridiculous amount for the import) for many reasons, not the least being that it comes with seven different album covers featuring artwork by Johnny Foreigner compadre Lewes Herriot.

Now, normally here at Clicky Clicky we simply just give things away, figuring no one wants to deal with the hassle of filling out a form, or doing a little research, or whathaveyou. That said, we're going to make the winner work for this one a bit. Don't worry, it's nothing hard. The way to win your very own pristine copy of the UK version of Waited Up Til It Was Light is by being the first person to send us an email that contains the names of any three songs released on a single by Johnny Foreigner through the Laundrette Recording Company label. The first person (U.S. residents only, sorry) to email us that information (our email is linked in the sidebar) gets Waited Up Til It Is Light for free. Since you read this far, we'll give you a hint: one of the titles at Wikipedia is incorrect. We'll update this item when there is a winner. Good luck. And just because we can't help ourselves, here is one of our favorite unreleased Johnny Foreigner tracks, which if memory serves was even left off of the I Like You Mostly Late At Never demo. [UPDATE: Congrats to reader Jane, who won the record]

Johnny Foreigner -- "KickKickKick"
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August 12, 2008

Today's Hotness: Geographer, Mobius Band, The Wannadies

Geographer -- Innocent Ghosts>> It seems like recently everything reminds us of The Ocean Blue. First came The Hush Now's self-titled record we reviewed yesterday. And today we consider indie pop act Geographer, which will release next week the full-length Innocent Ghosts. Something in the bright, clear guitar, empty space and reverbs and easy, light vocals suggests to us the first two records of the aforementioned The Ocean Blue. The San Francisco trio's Innocent Ghosts is a little uneven, but a few of the tracks, including the dazzling opener "Can't You Wait," have been sticking with us of late. "Can't You Wait," which was apparently released as the A-side of a single earlier this year, touts a thumping kick drum, crystalline guitar notes, bowed cello and tasteful synths. Fronter Mike Deni's gentle vocal floats just above the mix. Elsewhere a female vocalist takes the lead on certain tracks (it works best on "Underneath My Heart") although no women are listed as current band members, which makes things a little confusing. But Geographer nails it on the uptempo material (including the urgent, synthy "Each Other's Ghost") and particularly on "Can't You Wait." The band has been cool enough to let us offer the track below. Innocent Ghosts will be self-released Aug. 17; Geographer plays a record release show the same day at Cafe Du Nord in its home town.

Geographer -- "Can't You Wait" -- Innocent Ghosts
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[buy Innocent Ghosts from the band once it is released]

>> WinnieCooper.net's The Interview Show has a fairly funny interview with Clicky Clicky faves The Mobius Band posted at its site right here. The interview covers a lot of familiar territory and rehashes the press materials that promoted the band's excellent 2007 release Heaven. But the band is amusing and open to answering the questions, so even if you know Mobius Band frontwards and backwards as we do, it is still a good way to spend a half hour.

>> Speaking of favorite bands, if these pictures [1, 2, 3, 4] are any indication, apparently Swedish indie pop giants The Wannadies recently performed live despite being on hiatus for years. Or maybe the pictures are old? Our Swedish is not good (well, non-existent), and there is no information at the band's MySpace hacienda. Just look at the pretty pictures and then watch the video for their best song "Hit" right here. We wonder who directed this video, and why that person doesn't direct every single music video ever made.

>> RCRDLBL blog has a new MP3 from The New Year's forthcoming self-titled set for the track "The Company I Can Get." The track is solid, certainly no great surprise except perhaps for the more prominent piano track. But alongside the MP3 the blog has posted separate interviews with primary band members Matt and Bubba Kadane that are well worth reading. Check it all out here.

August 11, 2008

Review: The Hush Now -- The Hush Now [MP3]

Recently constituted Boston quartet The Hush Now trade in light but dense guitar pop in the mold of the great U.K. guitar bands of the mid- and late '80s. Bands like The House Of Love, as well as certain American successors including The Ocean Blue and Poole. All of which makes The Hush Now's self-titled debut -- perhaps with the exception of odd, throw-away Irish folksy bookending tracks that continue to perplex us -- a very enjoyable way to spend three-quarters of an hour. Mid-tempo strummer "Vancouver" provides a schematic of what the band is about: melodic guitar lines cascade, Weezer-y synths underscore, hands clap time and lyrics float gently. The rocking album highlight "Sadie Hawkins Dance" is an irresistible bit of bubblegum-leaning romance featuring fronter Noel Kelly's understated but yearning murmur ("who said I didn't want what you wanted?"). Online promo track "Traditions," which we first wrote about here last month, has a hypnotizing verse that somewhat softens the chorus' demand "just sit down and shut up, and don't speak 'cause there's nothing wrong." The syncopation of deep track "Roleplay" recalls The Ocean Blue's "Marigold," from that band's landmark record Cerulean (which, incidentally, was the name of Mr. Kelly's previous, Los Angeles-based band).

The Hush Now will be self-released in late October. The band already has its sights set on a follow-up, which it begins recording this week with producer David Newton (formerly of The Mighty Lemon Drops). We'll be dropping in on the sessions and will file some sort of report thereafter. In the meantime, check out the upbeat (and particularly Poole-ish) throbber "Sadie Hawkins Dance" from the forthcoming debut, which the band was cool enough to let us offer to you.

The Hush Now -- "Sadie Hawkins Dance" -- The Hush Now
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[watch NewburyComics.com or the band's MySpace dojo for pre-order info]

The Hush Now: Internets | MySpace | YouTube | Flickr

August 9, 2008

That's No Moon: Ringo Deathstarr Heads East


Austin-based shoegaze dynamos Ringo Deathstarr have dates booked early next month in New York (The Cake Shop, Sept. 4) and Maryland (University of Maryland, Sept. 6). Which Boston-area nightclub is going to step up and give these guys a local date while they are out here? Hell, we'll even drive to Providence if need be. More exciting than the announcement of East Coast dates is the soundtrack to the clip, which would seem to be an excerpt from a track from The Deathstarr's forthcoming EP. We can't wait to hear more.

August 8, 2008

Today's Hotness: Sunny Day Real Estate, Max Tundra


>> In some ways, this song was pretty much the end of music. The video above is fabled second-wave emo foursome Sunny Day Real Estate captured live on MTV's "120 Minutes" in 1994. The clip was alluded to by MTV's Subterranean Blog, which recently has been going a long way toward making us not loathe the network. We'll, we expect we'll continue to loathe the network, but at least the online piece has been wiping away some of the tarnish. It appears that the embed code they offer is not a true embed, so if you click on the video above be prepared for a little trip over to MTV.com. It is well worth it, fortunately. Although fronter Jeremy Enigk's voice doesn't seem up to the challenge during this performance. But, even so, this song is amazing. Not quite as amazing as the devastating closer of Diary, "Sometimes," but pretty damn close. If you are one of those odd people that don't own Diary, you need to really take a hard look at your priorities.

>> We were thrilled to read at trusty DrownedInSound that plunderphonic-laptronic-electro-whosey-whatsis act Max Tundra will finally release a new record later this year. Max Tundra is a pseudonym for London-based electronic pop supergenius Ben Jacobs, who has titled his third full-length Parallax Error Beheads You. Mr. Jacobs has been promising a new record for more than two years. Parallax Error Beheads You will be issued by Domino in the U.K. Oct. 13. A single for the track "Will Get Fooled Again" will be issued Sept. 29. A quick spin around the Internets produced no release information for North America, but we'll keep you posted. The most recent Max Tundra longplayer, the sublime Mastered By Guy At The Exchange, was issued eons ago in 2002. However, it was simply the provocative title to 2000's Some Best Friend You Turned Out To Be that first lured us into Jacobs' world. He is giving away the synthy banger "Cabasa" at the Max Tundra MySpace hacienda, but we'll save you the trip and post it below. Max Tundra will tour the UK with Hot Chip from mid-October.

Max Tundra -- "Cabasa" -- Mastered By Guy At The Exchange
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[buy Max Tundra records from Insound here]

>> A new School Of Seven Bells track premiered at Stereogum Thursday, and it is a wonderful piece of beat-driven dream pop. The track, "Half Asleep," will be released as a single (backed with the subdued electro-folk number "Caldo") Sept. 16; those who pre-order through the Ghostly Store or Insound will receive codes for free downloads on the day of the release. The songs will also appear on the full length Alpinisms. The full length and the single will be released by Ghostly. School Of Seven Bells is fronted by Alejandra and Claudia Deheza; the latter woman was formerly with the exemplary dream-pop act Daylight's For The Birds. School Of Seven Bells performs at The Middle East in Cambridge Nov. 18 with M83, making the bill easily the dreamiest of the year in Boston. You'd best buy tickets now, as M83 already sold out the club earlier this year.

August 7, 2008

Today's Hotness: Lemonheads, Bob Mould, Superman Revenge Squad

Evan Dando of The Lemonheads
>> We're finding it hard to get excited about the forthcoming Lemonheads record, which is called Varshons and will be released by Vagrant on Sept. 13. That's because, as Pun Canoes reports here, the set features no new Lemonheads tracks (penned by fronter Evan Dando or otherwise). Instead Varshons collects Dando's versions of 11 songs popularized by artists including longtime Dando influence Gram Parsons, Wire, Christina Aguilera and Leonard Cohen, among others. Making it somewhat less of a Lemonheads affair are guest vocal performances from celebrities Liv Tyler (who is admittedly quite musically pedigreed) and Kate Moss. While we loved Juliana Hatfield and Belinda Carlisle's contributions to the Lemonheads catalog, those women are, you know, actually musicians. Check out the full track listing for Varshons right here. The Lemonheads' previous record was a self-titled set recorded with former Descendants Bill Stevenson and Karl Alvarez; it was released in September 2006. The buzz on the Lemonheads forum is that Mr. Dando continues to write songs for a new album. We reviewed a December 2006 Lemonheads show right here.

>> We were very tickled to see revered solo artist and former Husker Du and Sugar fronter Bob Mould give props to Ringo Deathstarr at his blog yesterday. They were very understated props for the Austin-based shoegaze outfit, but they were props nonetheless. The primary purpose of Mr. Mould's post was to offer details about his next record. The set will be issued on Anti- in February 2009 and it is in Mould's parlance a "guitar record." A tour will follow the release. Mould's implicit praise for The Deathstarr (and, incidentally, the San Antonio/Austin representing act Honey Thief) inspires fantasies in us of 1) his new record featuring a heavy shoegaze sound and 2) his taking Ringo Deathstarr on tour with him. How awesome would that be? About as awesome as the track below, we reckon. We reviewed Bob Mould's "Circle Of Friends" DVD here in October 2007; Mould's most recent record District Line was issued on Anti- in January of this year.

Ringo Deathstarr -- "Sweet Girl" -- Ringo Deathstarr EP
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[buy Ringo Deathstarr from Spoilt Victorian Child Records right here]

>> Superman Revenge Squad recently recorded 11 tracks that are being considered for release as an album tentatively titled This Is My Own Personal Way Of Dealing With It All. The songs were recorded by a fellow named Simon, who traveled recently to the Squad's home base in Croydon, England to do the session. No word on which tracks were recorded and when we might be hearing them. But we don't imagine it will be too long. Superman Revenge Squad is the solo project of former Tempertwig and Nosferatu D2 fronter Ben Parker. Parker plays what is now a rare full-band gig in two weeks to celebrate his birthday; the band will include Mr. Parker's brother and longtime former bandmate on drums, as well as a cellist, according to this blog post. Superman Revenge Squad will also play a gig in Berlin this fall.

>> British regulatory body OfCom has banned Johnny Foreigner's video for "Salt, Peppa and Spinderella" from being broadcast on MTV2 and other outlets because it is feared the jittery clip for the forthcoming single could incite seizures in epileptics. This all according to a MySpace bulletin from Alexei Berrow, fronter of the Birmingham, England-based indie rock behemoth. DrownedInSound runs down all the major details right here.

August 5, 2008

Today's Hotness: The Hold Steady, Report Suspicious Activity


>>We love this song. This performance by The Hold Steady of "Constructive Summer" was shot on a rooftop under a setting sun and presumably in the band's hometown, Brooklyn. The rendition in the clip, posted here to Pitchfork.TV Monday, is a little sleepier than the hard-hitting recording that opens the band's recently issued Stay Positive. But the band seems to enjoy giving "Constructive Summer" a more leisurely workout, and even a lighter pace can't dull how wonderful this track is.

>> After Brooklyn-based hardcore foursome Report Suspicious Activity issued its excoriating anthem "Subtle" in 2005 we breathed a sigh of relief. Relief because it seemed that a contemporary hardcore act -- albeit one that included scene legend Vic Bondi, formerly of Articles Of Faith -- was finally standing up and taking direct shots at a government administration that deserved much more criticism and rancor than had been lobbed at it to date. Report Suspicious Activity singer Bondi offered this insight in the excellent "American Hardcore" documentary about life during the Reagan Administration, and it seems equally apt these days: "Everyone was saying it was 'morning in America.' Someone had to say, it's fucking midnight." "Subtle" offered such a wake-up call. Sadly, the song didn't snowball in popularity and incite a critical re-thinking of government among the American people. But Bondi and his cohorts (including J. Robbins) are about to give it another go with a sophomore record called Destroy All Evidence, which will be released by Alternative Tentacles Aug. 18. You can hear two tracks from the set at the band's MySpace drive-thru here (we think we already wrote about these late last year, they're not as aggressive or inspiring as "Subtle"), and you can check out the awesome cover art here. And just because we can't get enough, here's the song we can't stop mentioning, along with another, ahem, choice hardcore number.

Report Suspicious Activity -- "Subtle" -- Report Suspicious Activity
Uniform Choice -- "Screaming For Change" -- Screaming For Change
[right click and save as]
[buy Report Suspicious Activity records from Newbury Comics here]
[buy Screaming For Change from MusicStack.com right here]

>> Welsh tweecore septet Los Campesinos! will release its second full-length of 2008 in North America in November, according to a post at its web site. The set, titled We Are Beautiful, We Are Doomed, will appear on Arts + Crafts, as did its delightful precursor Hold On Now, Youngster... Wichita will release the UK version of the new, 10-track record Oct. 13. It was produced by John Goodmanson in Seattle in June; Mr. Goodmanson has worked previously on records by Bikini Kill, Blonde Redhead and Sleater-Kinney. You can view the track listing at the band's web site here. Los Camp -- who are currently in Japan with Johnny Foreigner for the SummerSonic festival -- are giving away at their MySpace dojo the track "Death To Los Campesinos!," so we're posting it for download below. Enjoy.

Los Campesinos! -- "Death To Los Campesinos!" -- Hold On Now, Youngster...
[right click and save as]
[buy Los Campesinos! records from Newbury Comics here]

>> Because we tagged an MP3 in a way that bugs us, and that file was the last recording released by Mazarin's Quentin Stoltzfus, we've had in our mind the question "what's going on with Black Stoltzfus?" for quite a while. Black Stoltzfus being the name Mazarin chose after some hosers used legal threat to force the band to abandon the name. Over the weekend we hit the Googles and learned that Stoltzfus and accomplices unknown (the Black Stoltzfus MySpace outhouse lists one other member, Mickey Walker) are building a studio wherein they plan to record a new record. We found the info here at the old Mazarin web site, where we also learned that the name Black Stoltzfus is also likely to be discarded, which is fine with us, since we didn't care for it. An interview published here in June by Lunapark6 contains information that the band intended to record new material last month with an eye toward completing a record this fall for a Spring 2009 release. We await it eagerly.

August 2, 2008

Muxtape No. 14: Get Back Devil, Messy Devil

kamfonglovesme1_crop
And so here we have the August Muxtape. We pondered a couple days ago doing a blog post called "Where We're From" or something to that effect, and discussing therein some of the bands that really fired our imaginations and relationship with music when we were a high schooler, and even young college student. As you'll see below we name a number of acts from Philadelphia and its suburbs that inspired us to play and generally cultivate a fathomless interest in indie rock as a younger man. Some of these bands were our peers, some friends of friends... of friends. You'll even hear some of our inebriated hollering in the first track. Of course, there are a couple tunes we've thrown in from later years and even contemporary releases just because they are great. Happy August.
1. Kam Fong -- "Get Behind Me (Satan)" -- Unreleased
(Is there anything more satisfying than an open E major chord that just hangs there and sustains? Well, yeah, there's the rest of this song, the first verse of which describes salvaging major appliances from the trash. We can say from firsthand experience that the vocals were tracked on a very hot day around an open mic in a small stuffy living room while pulling off a milk jug of moonshine; hence the last verse. We're always happy to have an excuse to proselytize The Fong, so here's a download of the track above || Kam Fong -- "Get Behind Me (Satan)"; right click and save as || and here is an early, raw and extremely red-lined mixdown of the basic tracks in case you want to, we dunno, cut your own vocal || Kam Fong -- "Satan (Instrumental)"; right click and save as||.)

2. Lost -- "After The War" -- Do You Have A Problem?
(Opening track from a cassette release from the first iteration of this band. This tape and Haywood's first 7" affected us a great deal, not only because each is great, but because prior to their release it didn't seem within the realm of possibility that people like us could write their own material and release it. We recall being shocked to see the cassette on the shelf with the rest of the merchandise at our beloved and much-missed first location of Repo Records in North Wayne, and we purchased it immediately (much to the amusement of the guys, some of whom we later befriended). We love the lo-fi production on the Lost cassette, because it packs each track with the sense that they are under some volatile pressure and could burst at any second.)

3. Latimer -- "Start With Me" -- Live From Sour City
(Another heart-felt tip of the hat to the late Geoff Doring. We thought this song stuck out a little bit from the rest of the tracks on this set because of the acoustic guitars. And we swear there's whistling in there around the three-minute mark. So it took us a long time to come to terms with "Start With Me." But it is easily among the best tracks on this ridiculously under-rated record, released on Dave Allen's World Domination label in 1997 or so. It's near impossible to follow what Doring is singing, but the song is an incredibly affecting strand of hooks. What the hell, how about an MP3? || Latimer -- "Start With Me"; right click and save as.)

4. Halogen -- "Graph" -- This Is Harrisburg, Not Topeka
(Had the pleasure of seeing these guys live, and they were really impressive. "Graph" has a little bit of everything and channels Slint in a very effective manner. We love the little hi-hat fill in the first section. But the most gripping thing is the coda, where the singer repeats "summers brown, winters green" like a protective spell.)

5. The Differences -- "The Door To Your Heart" -- Cassette
(So another track like the Lost cut above that made an impression on us because it was another local -- that is, suburban Philadelphia -- band writing and recording their own material during a time when we equated the ability to write music with the ability to saw women in half and pull rabbits from hats. This is not the band's best cut, but it is the only one that remains in our cassette collection. Our memories are almost always of questionable veracity at this point, but compared to the other Differences tracks we recall ("11th Grade English," "Stay") this track is particularly dark. We seem to recall it came from a later set of recordings that would seem to indicate the band had dug back into The Cure's back catalog.)

6. Barnabys -- "Nunas" -- Augustus Loop
(A nice mid-tempo track from a pretty overblown record released on Spin-Art. Superfluous hockey rink organ. Certainly not the first track we think of when we consider the band, but for some reason the opening line was in our head this morning as we ground coffee beans.)

7. Johnny Foreigner -- "I Heard, He Ties Up Cats" -- Eyes Wide Terrified single
(We like this band so much it is embarrassing. We even told them as much when we met them in New York last fall. Right now they are flying to Japan for a string of dates. When we were scouring Ebay recently we found that some of the band's singles had been issued to radio as CDs, so of course we had to have those. The result of which is we can offer you this b-side. We're very hopeful that the physical release of the band's debut Waited Up Til It Was Light, which will occur on an unspecified Tuesday in October, will contain all the various b-sides and maybe even some radio sessions as bonus tracks. But since we can't bank on that, we continue to fuel the British economy by buying all the imports we can get our hands on.)

8. Haywood -- "You Talk Twice" -- Men Called Him Mister
(Wonderful album opener from defunct band's second CD. Would have made much more sense to post a Garden Party track, as that is this band's precursor and it fits better within the theme of the mix. But we love this one, and it's the one we're feeling this morning. We think this would make an awesome cover for Frightened Rabbit to do (get on that boys). Men Called Him Mister has more than its share of amazing lines, but one of the best may be when Mr. Pauly here confides "so sure that we lost it, while I've got my hands in your pockets.")

9. The Grifters -- "Just Passing Out" -- One Sock Missing
(As an adult we're conflicted now about songs that deal with drug abuse and addiction with any sort of favorable stance. Sorry (at least we didn't complain that music is too loud, right?). But even so this track is a beautiful tangle of bass and guitar melodies. And we're very fond of its linear composition, which we blatantly stole for a song many, many years ago. The final seconds where the mix goes kaleidoscopic is so awesome.)

10. The War On Drugs -- "Show Me The Coast" -- Wagonwheel Blues
(Our recent writing doesn't come close to reflecting just how much we like this new record from Philly's The War On Drugs. There's some magical alchemy that occurs when the atmospheric production of the music is paired with singer Adam Granduciel's mix-slicing Petty-doing-Dylan vocals. This track is particularly dense and droning. If we knew more about music theory we might be able to make some assertion about how drone in particular keys works for us. Layered guitar leads create most of the action here, and the overall effect is dreamy. Mr. Granduciel was recently featured in Stereogum's Quit Your Day Job right here, and we recommend reading it.)

11. Ric Dube -- "The Cavanaugh Tree" -- MySpace track
(Friend and mentor Ric Dube is the kind of guy who is into a lot of things, including parenting and Yo La Tengo, but during the last few years he has found time to lay down some tracks, and we are constantly surprised when this comes up in the shuffle to see that the song that just made us think "damn!" is by our pal. We particularly like the cello at the end, it's very George Martin-ish. This fits very nicely alongside the track above, no?)

12. Christopher O'Riley -- "Motion Picture Soundtrack" -- True Love Waits: O'Riley Plays Radiohead
(This song is so sad we often can't bear to listen to it, and O'Riley's version is somehow even sadder.)