September 30, 2008

New Johnny Foreigner: "Ghost The Festivals," U.S. Dates

Birmingham, England-based indie rock dynamos Johnny Foreigner recently recorded a 23-minute segment for something called Channel m, operating out of Manchester, England. We're not familiar with the show, but based on its format (bands play live, chat a little, then play live some more) we think we're going to have to see what else they've got to offer. Oh wait, here's the deal about Channel m from its Brightcove profile page: "Channel m is based in Manchester, England and provides programmes for the Greater Manchester community. It is available at, free to air within the Greater Manchester area, on Sky (channel 203) or Virgin/NTL (channel 878)." So there.

Anyway, Channel m had Johnny Foreigner in recently to play a short set, and it is great. Shot with three cameras, the sound is perfect, and the noise-pop trio's performances are solid almost all the way around (there's a little slip during "Eyes Wide Terrified," and the dynamic of "Salt, Peppa and Spinderella" downshifts at the major transition instead of crescendoing). Most exciting is the band, whose excellent full-length debut Waited Up Til It Was Light was finally released in America last week by Nettwerk, plays a new song we've never heard -- or even heard of -- called "Ghost The Festivals," which we expect is about the band's experiences on the European festival circuit this summer and last summer.

There is an interview segment mid-set, but the television presenter doesn't seem to be aware that the trio just snuck a new song on, and therefore he doesn't get any answers for us. But he does elicit from Mr. Berrow a strong defense of mainstream pop-punkers Blink 182. Had Berrow defended any other commercial punk act we'd have raised an eyebrow, but as our esteemed pal The Good Doctor used to make a similar speech about Blink 182 at the turn of the century, we're used to being told there's some quality there. Also in the interview there is discussion of the video for Johnny Foreigner's current single "Salt, Peppa And Spinderella," which was banned in England because it was feared it would cause seizures in epileptics. Alexei cuts in: "Allegedly. It's only [banned] in England. But it's playing on kind of music stations in Japan and America and no one's died yet." Anyway, we've embedded the whole set above, so sit back with a beer or two and have at it. Set list is below. As you can see, "Ghost The Festivals" is the third track, six-and-a-half minutes in.

Johnny Foreigner has also been quietly adding to its U.S. appearances next month. In addition to the band's CMJ date on Thursday Oct. 23 we mentioned previously here, the stellar Birmingham, England-based trio will appear for a KEXP Live Session that same morning at a certain Gibson Showroom somewhere in Manhattan. The following night the trio rocks Fontana's in Manhattan. And Monday, Oct. 27, Johnny Foreigner will visit Philadelphia-based independent broadcaster WXPN to record a live session. All of which leaves us wondering whether we'll be seeing the band in Boston around that time. If not, assuming we've no other commitments we're likely to venture to Manhattan for the Friday CMJ show. Because, you know, we like rock music. We like it so much, here's a live version of "Lea Room" from an XFM radio session early this year. Or maybe late last year.

Johnny Foreigner -- "Lea Room (Live)" -- XFM Session
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[buy Johnny Foreigner music from EMusic right here, or Newbury Comics right here]

Channel m set list:
"The End And Everything After"
"Henning's Favorite"
"Ghost The Festivals"
"Salt, Peppa and Spinderella"
"Cranes And Cranes And Cranes And Cranes"
"Eyes Wide Terrified"

September 28, 2008

That Was The Show That Was: Built To Spill, Dinosaur Jr, Meat Puppets

Built To Spill, Sept. 27, 2008, Boston
We last saw veteran indie rockers Built To Spill so very long ago that we couldn't recall the year and our review of it no longer exists. A search of the Googles reveals that the show was Sept. 18, 2001. Which seems like an odd night to see a show, as it was but a week after Sept. 11. Weren't we all hunkered down in bomb shelters back then? We guess not. We recall the show as being along the lines of the press we've seen for the current tour: nice, but somewhat uninspired. Some lame fan called out for "Free Bird" toward the end of the set that night, and Built To Spill obliged, which was slightly bad-ass. But the emotional high point of the show was the all-too-brief encore, when fronter Doug Martsch returned to the stage alone with an electric guitar and delivered a haunting solo rendition of The Smiths' "This Night Has Opened My Eyes." Another search of the Interwebs reveals this was a favorite of Mr. Martsch's around that time, because he was playing it a lot; here's a video of him playing an acoustic version.

Built To Spill was selected to perform its (in our opinion, relatively bloated) third record Perfect From Now On at last week's All Tomorrow's Parties festival in New York, and Martsch and band tacked on a strand of additional performances, of which last night's show at Boston's Orpheum was one. We've expressed numerous times that we prefer Built To Spill's earlier indie pop material, specifically the band's sophomore set There's Nothing Wrong With Love. That record is love-struck, wide-eyed and optimistic, while Perfect From Now On is heartbroken, darker and bummed-out. Despite its slower pace, its fewer emotional punches are potent, occasionally devastating, and are punctuated by some of Mr. Martsch's best lyrical hooks. We get goosebumps each time we hear the lines "I'm gonna be perfect from now on / I'm gonna be perfect starting now" (from "Randy Described Eternity") and "there's a mean bone in my body / it's connected to the problems that I won't take for an answer" or "let you go to sleep / feeling bad as me" (from "I Would Hurt A Fly"). Still, that Perfect From Now On has steadily developed a cult following, as evidenced by the skinny, t-shirted and flailingly enrapt in attendance last night, is curious to us. Even so, it is our second favorite of the band's records, and we are certainly happy that Martsch -- he formerly of the underrated act Treepeople -- continues to cultivate a young, fervent fan base.

Which brings us to last night. Contrary to the press mentioned supra, we thought the show was fairly gripping -- at least when Martsch was at the microphone. He sings like an agitated Muppet and sweats like an out-of-shape jogger. When delivering lyrics, he fully extends his torso upward and his head tilts off the top of his neck to the right and left as he sings. However, Built To Spill as a band, or at least in this configuration (a sextet anchored by exceptional drummer Scott Plouf, formerly of The Spinanes) exhibits zero stage rapport. The group -- save for Martsch -- largely looked to Plouf for cues, and generally comported itself as if it were a group of session players unfamiliar to one another. For his part, Martsch offered no stage banter and was content to quietly tune his guitar between tunes. That said, there was certainly passion in last night's performance, particularly in the two encores that followed the faithful recitation of Perfect From Now On. Directly on the heels of the album closer "Untrustable Part 2 (About Someone Else)," the band catapulted into a searing, dynamic version of "Going Against Your Mind," the standout cut from 2006's You In Reverse [review here]. We were thrilled that the final song was "Car," from There's Nothing Wrong With Love, which closed out the evening on an upbeat note.

Schedule conflicts have conspired to keep us from seeing Dinosaur Jr., one of our five favorite bands, since a wonderful in-store set in Cambridge in June 2007 [review here]. The trio turned in a thrilling, hits-packed performance last night, and we were as surprised as anyone to end up with one of drummer Murph's sticks when he lobbed it into the crowd at the close of their alloted time. Had instinct not kicked in, we're fairly certain the stick would have lodged itself in our left eye. We're building up something of a collection of band memorabilia, as we ended up with one of Lou's bass picks after it was flicked into the audience at the in-store [see our review of the show for a scan]. Anyway, Dinosaur Jr. last night played a loud and exciting set. It seemed to take J a bit of time to build up a head of steam as far as his soloing went, but by the time the band played "Pick Me Up" from last year's excellent collection Beyond [review here], the notes started coming rapidly and furiously. As best as we can recall, the band began with "Sludgefeast," "Been There All The Time" and "Back To Your Heart." The set closed with "Mountain Man," and the encore was "Just Like Heaven." In between Dinosaur played "The Wagon," "Freak Scene," "Out There," "Feel The Pain" and the aforementioned "Pick Me Up." It was awesome.

Doors last night were scheduled to open at 7:30 so we figured we had at least until 8PM before The Meat Puppets took the stage. We figured wrong. By the time we got seated the band had already played a few numbers. Luckily, as we got settled in our awesome second-row, center seat [thanks to KoomDogg] The Meat Puppets kicked in to "Up On The Sun," our favorite song of the band's. The trio, fronted by Chris and Curt Kirkwood, strung together a handful of tunes with echoey space jams, hitting a number of career highlights along the way. We shot a number of typically mediocre pictures of the show last night and you can view the entire set right here. If you are thirsting for audio, we recommend checking in with NYCTaper, who recorded the show the preceding night. Built To Spill's set is posted here; Dinosaur Jr.'s set is posted right here. Built To Spill heads to Europe Oct. 1 for five weeks of tour dates, and you can check out the entire itinerary at the band's MySpace casa right here. Here are a couple Dinosaur Jr. MP3s for readers who actually slogged all the way through.

Dinosaur Jr. -- "Freak Scene" -- Bug
Dinosaur Jr. -- "Pick Me Up (Live)" -- Urban Outfitters In-Store, June 11, 2007
[live recording courtesy of Bradley's Almanac]
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[buy Dinosaur Jr. records from Newbury Comics right here]

September 26, 2008

Today's Hotness: The Coctails, Los Campesinos, Ulrich Schnauss

The Coctails
>> Wha? Apparently defunct indie pop superlatives The Coctails are reuniting to perform at the group's former label's Sweet Sixteen party tonight; there are a few more details here at the Carrot Top Records site. Said party will occur both tonight and tomorrow at Chicago's The Hideout, and proceeds after expenses will benefit the Accelerated Cure Project for Multiple Sclerosis. To catch you up, The Coctails were Chicago pop icon Archer Prewitt's band prior to his joining Sam Prekop in The Sea And Cake. There is a very informative Wikipedia entry right here, and we highly recommend it to your attention. Most importantly, The Coctails released several wonderful records during its initial seven-year run between 1988 and 1995, the most wonderful perhaps being its self-titled set. That collection was released on CD in 1996 and opens with an amazing quartet of songs, "When I Come Around," "Circles," "City Sun" and "Cadali." Because it is one of our very favorites, here is "Cadali."

The Coctails -- "Cadali" -- The Coctails
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[buy Coctails records from Carrot Top right here]

>> Things we're not sure we knew about Cardiff, Wales-based indie pop septet Los Campesinos!' forthcoming sophomore set We Are Beatiful, We Are Doomed include: it will be released Oct. 27; it will not be promoted with any singles; it will have a single world-wide pressing and when it sells out it will be deleted; it will be packaged in a rectangular box; the box will also contain a DVD containing a self-made documentary of summer festival dates in Norway and Japan; the box will also contain a 30-page 'zine and exclusive poster. What's more, Los Campesinos! is touring the UK and Ireland in October with Times New Viking and No Age, and the three bands have created a web site at that aspires to be the hub for all things related to the tour. Apparently there are myriad opportunities for fans to publish their own editorial and visual content to the site, and the site will also act as a clearinghouse for contests and insidery-information. Three tracks from We Are Beautiful, We Are Doomed are already streaming at the band's MySpace dojo right here, including the surprisingly dense and glorious title track, so check 'em out.

>> Something else we didn't know: London-based label Independiente will make available Oct. 17 remastered and expanded versions of two records from electropop genius Ulrich Schnauss. Far Away Trains Passing By, originally released in 2001, will be packaged with a bonus disc, and 2003's A Strangely Isolated Place will include two bonus tracks. In addition to the physical articles, both sets will be available via the usual digital music storefronts. The reissue of Far Away Trains Passing By appears to have the very same track listing as the 2001 Domino issue in our collection, except the Independiente version contains one additional track on disc two, "A Million Miles Away." Disc two of that collection deserves special notice because it contains our all-time-favorite Ulrich Schnauss jam, "As If You've Never Been Away." The bonus tracks included with the reissue of A Strangely Isolated Place are two remixes by former Cocteau Twins guy Robin Guthrie for the tracks "Gone Forever" and "On My Own." This week Independiente issued the digital-only Schnauss EP Stars, and to celebrate all of this the label is letting fans download "A Letter From Home" from A Strangely Isolated Place for free, so have at it.

Ulrich Schauss -- "A Letter From Home" -- A Strangely Isolated Place [2008 Reissue]
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[pre-order Ulrich Schnauss records from Independiente right here]

September 25, 2008

Today's Hotness: Stricken City, Asobi Seksu, GAS

Stricken City
>> Stricken City's forthcoming second single "Lost Art" reminds us of a charming blend of Haircut 100's new wave pop and Kiss Me Deadly's dancable indie tunes. The track has a bouncy rhythm, plucky bass rides high in the mix and singer Rebekah Raa's clear, bright voice recalls that of Bow Wow Wow fronter Annabella Lwin. Blue Flowers Records will issue the London-based quartet's single -- which will be backed with a new version of the track "The Traveler" -- in the U.K. Nov. 17. Stricken City's debut single "Tak O Tak" b/w "Bardou" was issued by the label Adventures Close To Home Recordings July 28 and the pressing of 500 copies has already sold out (which makes you wonder why ACTH isn't releasing the second single, right?). The A-side of that single boasted a pulse similar to "Lost Art," and we think you'll agree after listening to the latter cut that the band is on to something good. Stricken City plays London tonight and plans to announce a strand of UK tour dates in the near future.

Stricken City -- "Lost Art" -- "Lost Art" b/w "The Traveler"
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[pre-order "Lost Art" b/w "The Traveler" right here]

>> Speaking of forthcoming singles, New York-based dream pop heroes Asobi Seksu will issue "Me & Mary" b/w "Breathe Into Glass" Nov. 18 on Polyvinyl. The A-side will appear on a forthcoming full length that Polyvinyl plans to release in early 2009; the b-side is a non-album track. Like the duo's fabulous 2006 sophomore set Citrus, the as-yet-untitled new full-length collection was produced by Chris Zane. The forthcoming single will be available as a vinyl 7" and via the usual digital music storefronts. Finally, Asobi Seksu commence a two-week tour of North American Oct. 17; the tour's second stop will be the following night at T.T. The Bear's in Cambridge, Mass. Check out the entire slate of dates at the band's MySpace drive-thru right here.

>> Only one email today was able to tear us away from our obsessive consumption of news concerning the U.S. political campaigns and economy, and it was in German. Fortunately, with a little help from Babelfish, we think we are able to tell you that electronic music luminary and Kompakt co-founder Wolfgang Voigt will perform for the first time under his GAS moniker in Leipzig, Germany Sept. 28. Cologne-based Voigt has a number of different aliases, but has apparently never performed any of its music live. Unless we are misunderstanding our translation. Readers may recall that one of the nicer surprises earlier in the year (before the world went crazy) was the five-disc GAS box set; more recently Voigt issued a collection of photographs in a book titled "Wolfgang Voight -- Gas." We were turned on to GAS sometime before that via Kompakt's absolutely delightful Pop Ambient series of blissed out ambient electronic music. We're posting one of our favorite cuts below.

GAS -- "Pop" -- Pop Ambient 2005
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[buy GAS and Kompakt music from EMusic right here]

September 23, 2008

Philebrity Does God's Work, Captures Lilys Video At ATP

If you watch this video of Lilys performing their classic "Ginger," you will achieve total consciousness at the 3:57 mark. Yeah, we know we just posted another video of band leader Kurt Heasley performing this solo recently. But we don't care. Hopefully all this activity will inspire Mr. Heasley to write another record. 2006's Everything Wrong Is Imaginary was very much slept on by the indie populace.

Today's Hotness: Manhattan Love Suicides, This Town Needs Guns

The Manhattan Love Suicides -- Burnt Out Landscapes
>> When we last checked in on British noise-pop dynamos The Manhattan Love Suicides here in April, the Leeds-based foursome had just issued its Clusterf*ck 7" EP. And at the time we advised folks to watch EMusic and wait for the four songs to show up in the handy MP3 format, because digitizing vinyl is wicked frustrating, yeh. After that we forgot all about the EP until today, when a MySpace alert notifified us that the band had just uploaded a new track from a recently issued compilation titled Burnt Out Landscapes. The compilation -- which was issued by Magic Marker June 2 or Aug. 12, depending on which release date you choose to believe -- is available at EMusic right here, and better still it appears to include all the cuts from Clusterf*ck. All told, Burnt Out Landscapes features 27 tracks including radio sessions and alternate versions including the divine cut collection-closer "Life In Vain." The Manhattan Love Suicides are giving away one of the tracks, "Heat And Panic," for free at its MySpace longhouse. We'll save you the trip and post it below, but definitely hit the link to EMusic to grab Burnt Out Landscapes, because the dozen tracks we've heard so far (damn EMusic account doesn't roll over for another five days) are entirely compelling.

The Manhattan Love Suicides -- "Heat And Panic" -- Burnt Out Landscapes
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[buy Manhattan Love Suicides music from EMusic right here]

>> Time was Pink Floyd's Animals was our favorite record. We were probably 12. We can't remember the year exactly, but we can recall a family vacation to Florida and having to share a double bed with an older brother who did not fully appreciate the awesome air guitar we were unleashing before falling asleep at night with the aforementioned record blasting into our skull via a third- or fourth-generation cassette Walkman. Anyway, this paragraph is not about that record. It's about the Oxford, England quartet This Town Needs Guns, which releases its own record titled Animals in the UK Oct. 13. The set, which we think is the first full-length release from the quartet, contains 13 tracks named after various mammals (and a crocodile, and possibly a marsupial). Faithful readers may recall we posted the track "Baboon" right here in July. The label Big Scary Monsters has made available a second preview MP3 titled "Chinchilla." The cut bolsters our appreciation of the band, which incorporates the exciting guitar work of erstwhile American indie acts American Football and Owls into its own sturdy modern emo framework. "Chinchilla" also touts a punchy drum beat in the verse that seems to constantly threaten to slip off the beat. It's a very enjoyable way to spend four minutes, and we highly recommend this track.

This Town Needs Guns -- "Chinchilla" -- Animals
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[pre-order Animals from Big Scary Monsters right here]

>> Matablog has posted here the tracklist and cover art for the recently announced Belle And Sebastian compilation The BBC Sessions, which will be released by Matador Nov. 18. The set features two discs, the first concatenating BBC radio sessions recorded during the bands "golden age" (in our opinion), 1996-2001. The second disc, dubbed Live In Belfast, contains selections from a December 2001 live date in the nominal city. Personal favorites are strongly represented, with "Seymour Stein," "Sleep The Clock Around" and "Like Dylan In The Movies" appearing on the first disc, and the devastating "The Model" and "The Boy With The Arab Strap" appearing on the second disc. Matablog promises more information and some preview MP3s, so we'll keep our eyes peeled. And maybe we'll watch that Belle And Sebastian DVD from five or six years ago again soon.

September 22, 2008

CC200: The Mendoza Line's "The Kissing Rocks" With Radio Banter

The Mendoza Line -- On Stage Dying
[Photo: "William H. West's Great Achievement, The Storming of San Juan Hill." copyright 1899. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress.] This live recording, on which the defunct Mendoza Line is augmented by Misra labelmates Summer Hymns, is from the preliminary, Salty Records version of the band's 2004 odds and sods collection Sent Down To AA. More importantly, it is #60 on the Clicky Clicky 200 [read all CC200 posts right here]. Well, that's probably not more important, but it is germane, as it is the reason we discuss the tune today. The climax of the song -- one of seven the band logs in the aforementioned collection of our favorite 200 tracks -- softly collapses into a loose pile of quiet undulating guitar lines after hypnotizing for several minutes. Such collapse did not have far to fall, as the airy layers of guitar, bass, organ, glockenspiel and murmured lyrics are at times just barely held aloft by accented drumming and maracas. Plus, as history has shown, The Mendoza Line existed in an almost constant state of falling apart.

The interview clip that overtops this recording's opening seconds was taken from an appearance on radio broadcaster WMBR on April 24, 2003 prior to a club performance the same night. In fact, we were the one who captured the interview off the airwaves and handed it to the curator of Sent Down To AA [thusly we earned one of our several cherished liner note thank-yous]. The entire interview is hysterical. Our favorite quip is band fronter Tim Bracy's response to the radio host's [we believe it was Keith Sawyer of the Thursday edition of the Breakfast Of Champions show] question "When did [The Mendoza Line] first become a band to you guys?" Mr. Bracy's response: "I don't know. We're hoping it'll kick in tonight."

For those of you keeping score at home, the actual Misra release of Sent Down To AA has a different running order than the Salty Records version. Misra's official release includes a demo of "Under Radar," a live, country-fried version of "Dollars To Donuts," "Trading Deadline," "Whatever Happened To You?" and "The Kids Are Out." Those tracks displaced "Closer To Me" and "Make It Art" from the Salty running order. There is a further curiosity in the Misra liner notes, which state "more Mendoza Line curios and anomalies may be heard on It'll Be The Same Without You: AA Vol. #2. To our knowledge that collection was never released, although it may have been compiled. We've sent an email to see what we can learn about it. It is possible that the collection was rolled into a rumored Mendoza Line box set that never came to fruition. Which is a shame.

Other trivia? The band first three records were released on Kindercore, and said records are out of print, and if you want to buy a copy of Like Someone In Love right now at it will cost you $55.50. Thing is, just the title track is almost worth that amount of money. But we digress. "On Stage Dying" is a phenomenal ballad, it's #60 on the Clicky Clicky 200, and we've posted it below. The Mendoza Line disbanded early last year after the dissolution of the marriage of Bracy and co-fronter and songwriter Shannon McArdle. Ms. McArdle released a nice debut solo collection, The Summer Of The Whore, last month on Bar/None.

The Mendoza Line -- "The Kissing Rocks (Live, w/ Summer Hymns)" -- Sent Down To AA (Salty Records version)
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[buy Mendoza Line records from Newbury Comics right here]

The Mendoza Line: Internets | MySpace | YouTube | Flickr

September 19, 2008

Today's Hotness: Report Suspicious Activity, TV On The Radio

Report Suspicious Actity -- Destroy All Evidence
>> Our complaints about the lack of contemporary, politically charged hardcore music continue to go largely ignored. Thankfully, Vic Bondi and J. Robbins' Report Suspicious Activity is on the case. Has it been more than a week since this whole "lipstick on a pig" nonsense transpired in the American political sphere? It certainly hasn't been much longer than that, which makes it all the more remarkable that Report Suspicious Activity has already recorded a track responding to that empty furor and the empty politician that inspired it. The track dubs Ms. Palin "George Bush in a skirt," so if that isn't the sort of sentiment that sits well with you, well, you probably wouldn't be here in the first place. The tune is available for download at the foursome's MySpace compound, but we'll save you a trip and post it below. Do make certain to go to the quartet's MySpace wigwam, because another new song, "1-800-DESTROY" has also been posted and is even more of a barnburner. Thank you, Mr. Bondi, et al., for taking the time to put one of America's important natural resources -- hardcore music -- to use at a time when it is most needed. Because we'll never stop loving it, we're also posting Report Suspicious Activity's "Subtle." Alternative Tentacles released the band's sophomore set Destroy All Evidence Aug. 18.

Report Suspicious Activity -- "Lipstick On A Pig" -- MySpace track
Report Suspicious Activity -- "Subtle" -- Report Suspicious Activity
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[buy Report Suspicious Activity records from Newbury Comics right here]

>> By the time you read these words MySpace will have been streaming in its entirety the madly anticipated new record from TV On The Radio for hours and hours. And Stereogum says here you can already stream the deluxe edition of the album at Last.FM right here, so hold on while we click over. Wow, wait until you hear "Crying." Dear Science, will be in stores Tuesday -- and we will most certainly make a special trip to buy it during our lunch hour that very day. People are already throwing around album of the year accolades, which isn't terribly surprising considering how strong Return To Cookie Mountain was. We noticed that a promotions company has set up a number of prominent music blogs with vinyl copies to give away, so if you've got a turntable you should hit up the Googles to avail yourself of such an opportunity. The Brooklyn-based quintet commences a long strand of tour dates tonight in San Diego; the tour wraps in Europe Dec. 5. You may inspect all the tour dates at the aforementioned MySpace dojo right here. TV On The Radio plays the Wilbur Theater in Boston Oct. 13, but we may have to pass as we'll be seeing The Feelies and The Notwist on the two preceding nights.

>> Pitchfork threw a little love -- just a little -- in the direction of our favorite British noise-pop stars Johnny Foreigner. The Bloc Party remix of "Salt, Peppa And Spindarella" got the Forkcast treatment here, which we suppose means it is now cool for us to post the track as well. We still await delivery of our copy of the vinyl version of "Salt, Peppa And Spinderella," but it shouldn't be too much longer. What else can we tell you? There's not much else new to know about the band. We made an insprection of the Nettwerk web site recently to see if we could find an actual North American release date for the band's forthcoming full-length debut Waited Up Til It Was Light. And while we found nothing definitive about a date, we did learn that Johnny Foreigner's label in Canada is Nettwerk Productions, but in the U.S. it is Nettwerk Records LLC. Fascinating, right? Whatever, here's the remix.

Johnny Foreigner -- "Salt, Peppa And Spinderalla (Bloc Party Remix)" -- Salt, Peppa And Spinderella 10" single
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[buy Johnny Foreigner music from EMusic right here]

September 18, 2008

Review: Pidgeon | Might As Well Go Eat Worms [MP3]

Pidgeon -- Might As Well Go Eat WormsThe long-awaited sophomore set from San Francisco quintet Pidgeon is not groundbreaking, but it is refreshingly raw and uncompromising. The seven-year-old act employs a broad scope spanning intense screamo and quietly haunting, melodic sections that recall early Smashing Pumpkins. Mostly, Pidgeon is heavy. The bootcrunch of its three-guitar attack gives the choruses of "California (Is For F*ckers)" the impact of a flurry of bodyblows, an impact not diminished by the sweetness of the layered vocal lines. The brilliantly titled "Kafka Does His Shopping From Home" thrashes through an old school hardcore-influenced verse that could have been lifted from the mighty California straightedge act Uniform Choice. Might As Well Go Eat Worms is Pidgeon's first record since the 2004 debut From Gutter With Love. The quintet completed the new record in 2006, but untold hardships kept it from being released for two-and-a-half years.

Despite the various styles of the band's three singers -- whose outputs range from blackout-inducing yelling to the angelic singing of sole female member Valerie Iwamasa -- Might As Well Go Eat Worms offers a steady stream of satisfying, hair-raising moments. There's the Queen-esque twin-guitar solo in the midst of "The Gimmick Monster," and then the beautifully pastoral coda that consumes the final minute of the same song. "Hail To The Coke Nose" is a Black Sabbath-inspired riff-fest that may very well result in some head-banging. If there is a hit song on the record, it is the anthem "Helpless," which has an exhilarating chorus where the breathless vocals are so raw they almost crack. The track builds from a narcotic dream-state to that explosive crescendo over the course of seven minutes. Absolutely Kosher releases Might As Well Go Eat Worms Sept. 23. This is also the same day that the next slate of Replacements reissues, the latest TV On The Radio record and Johnny Foreigner's debut are in stores, so you're going to have to cut a lot of lawns this weekend. Plan accordingly. While we'd like very much to offer you an MP3 of "Helpless," Absolutely Kosher is offering "California (Is For F*ckers), and who are we to look a gift horse in the mouth?

Pidgeon -- "California (Is For F*ckers)" -- Might As Well Go Eat Worms
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[pre-order Might As Well Go Eat Worms from Absolutely Kosher right here]

Pidgeon: Internets | MySpace | YouTube | Flickr

September 16, 2008

Yr Keeping Some Dark Secrets But You Talk In Yr Sleep

Johnny Foreigner conquer Japan, here performing "Cranes And Cranes And Cranes And Cranes" at the Summersonic festival last month. As we reported last week, the Birmingham, England-based trio will be in New York Oct. 23 for the CMJ New Music Seminar Conference Or Whatever They Call It Now. Snagged this off their MySpace dojo, which is the best place to keep up with said band's goings-on.

Follow Up: Chris Zane On "Look At Who You're Talking To"

Human Television -- Look At Who You're Talking To
Readers will recall our Clicky Clicky 200 post a couple weeks back about Human Television's transcendant little ballad "Look At Who You're Talking To," the title track to the band's sophomore set which ranks 86th in our countdown of our most-played/most-enjoyed tracks. In the item we speculated about the genesis of the very nice and emotive string arrangements in the song, which in our opinion seemed a little too nice to have sprung from the mind of someone unfamiliar with orchestral composition. And it turns out we were right. Upon reading our rank speculation, producer Chris Zane dropped us a quick note with some hard facts about the sessions he helmed during the recording of Human Television's Look At Who You're Talking To. Mr. Zane reports that when finishing the tracking, Billy Downing, the band's primary songwriter, still had a bit of a song, "In Front Of The House." left over that Zane fancied. So Zane brainstormed recording it with just acoustic guitar and voice, and then adding in the strings. And, indeed, as we noted earlier this month the strings were arranged by a John Fields, but not the John Fields we referenced in our earlier item. Instead, the Mr. Fields in question was "a guy working at an ad agency in midtown," Zane recalls.

The producer said he played Mr. Fields Nick Drake, or something like the work of the tragic British singer/songwriter, and instructed him to "rip this off, long notes only, nothing shorter than a quarter note." After some minor tweaking, some heavy string talent was brought in from a city orchestra and paid cash to run through the parts while Zane rolled tape. The strings were recorded in about six takes. And while that was occuring Zane thought to capture some video, which makes up the bulk of the video that topped our original post. On a related note, our favorite radio personality also read the post and brought to our attention that Philadelphia trio RunRunner had covered Human Television's "In Front Of The House," the fraternal twin of "Look At Who You're Talking To," during a radio session broadcast by Princeton University's WPRB in January 2007. As luck would have it, the cover ended up in our inbox late last week, and we're posting it below. We don't hear much about what RunRunner is up to these days, but hopefully they are working on a follow-up to its self-titled debut, which we reviewed here in April 2007.

RunRunner -- "In Front Of The House (Live)" -- WPRB Radio Session, Jan. 16, 2007
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[buy Human Television records from Newbury Comics here]
[buy RunRunner music from EMusic here]

September 15, 2008

Today's Hotness: Sea And Cake, All Tomorrows Parties, Bob Mould

>> The new video for veteran, Chicago-based indie rock act The Sea And Cake's "Weekend" is very good -- but the song itself is amazing. The track, from the band's forthcoming long-player Car Alarm, is perhaps the most sonically forthright return to the blissed-out electropop sounds captured on the quartet's peerless 1997 effort The Fawn. This is interesting, because when we reviewed the quartet's previous record Everybody here in April 2007, we noted that the collection reminded us of one of our two favorite records from The Sea And Cake to date, The Biz. The Biz is more guitar-oriented than its successor The Fawn, and we're wondering if Car Alarm might similarly be more electronically oriented than Everybody. We suppose time will tell. And while the video -- posted here to Pitchfork.TV last week -- complements very well the tune's carefree feel, it is hard not to just focus on the gorgeous melodies floating among a clutter of digital tones and held aloft by persistent acoustic guitar strumming. The Sea And Cake's eighth record in fifteen years, Car Alarm will be released by Thrill Jockey Oct. 21. More details and ordering information is online right here. Below are The Sea And Cake's fall tour dates, which include a show at The Middle East Rock Club here in Cambridge, Mass. Nov. 12.

09/27 -- Chicago, IL -- Symphony Center
11/07 -- Philadelphia, PA -- First Unitarian Church
11/08 -- Washington, DC -- Black Cat
11/10 -- New York, NY -- Bowery Ballroom
11/11 -- Brooklyn, NY -- Music Hall
11/12 -- Boston, MA -- Middle East
11/13 -- Montreal, PQ -- La Sala Rossa
11/14 -- Toronto, ON -- Lee's Palace
11/15 -- Chicago, IL -- Empty Bottle
11/28 -- Portland, OR -- Doug Fir Lounge
11/29 -- Seattle, WA -- Chop Suey
12/02 -- San Francisco, CA -- Great American Music Hall
12/03 -- Los Angeles, CA -- Troubadour
12/04 -- Los Angeles, CA -- Troubadour
12/05 -- Pomona, CA -- Glass House
12/06 -- San Diego, CA -- Casbah

>> Esteemed independent radio broadcaster WFMU will air and stream certain live performances from next weekend's sure-to-be monumental All Tomorrows Parties Festival, which is being curated in part by legendary shoegaze quartet My Bloody Valentine and includes performances by it, Dinosaur Jr., Lilys, Mercury Rev, Polvo, Yo La Tengo and many others. WFMU has not yet received permission from all performers to bitcast and broadcast their performances, but it is working on securing as many assents as possible. A list in this blog post seems to say that we'll be able to hear sets from many of the bands we listed above, as well as sets from Bob Mould, Low, Brian Jonestown Massacre and others; hit this link to see what is hopefully an expanding roster. We're gutted to have to miss this festival, so the fact that WFMU has stepped into the breech for all of us out here in radioland is greatly appreciated.

>> Speaking of Bob Mould, the storied songwriter and former fronter of Hüsker Dü and Sugar will publish an autobiography in the fall of 2010. Mr. Mould has signed and agreement with Little, Brown to release the book, which will be written in tandem with veteran rock journalist Michael Azerrad. Mr. Azerrad previously wrote the excellent "Our Band Could Be Your Life" as well as the highly regarded "Come As You Are: The Story Of Nirvana." One of our favorite Mould jams is "Celebrated Summer," which was released by Hüsker Dü as a single in 1984 to promote the album it was released on, the epic New Day Rising. Since the autumnal equinox is just a week away, the song feels appropriate. Enjoy.

Hüsker Dü -- "Celebrated Summer" -- New Day Rising
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[buy Bob Mould, Sugar and Hüsker Dü records from Newbury Comics here]

>> Our friend BrighAAAAm has been talking about The Flaming Lips' movie-in-progress "Christmas On Mars" for about seven or eight years. And, after seeing some tantalizing footage in the band documentary "Fearless Freaks," the feature film is finally upon us. It apparently began screening recently in New York, although the possibility of a broader release may be hamstrung by the fact that Lips fronter Wayne Coyne insists that the film only be viewed in a special screening room with a custom sound system. Earfarm has more details and awesome video clips right here.

September 11, 2008

Review: Get Help | The End Of The New Country [MP3]

Get Help -- The End Of The New CountryThe release (well, pending release) of New York duo Get Help's solid debut is as good an occasion as any to give thanks for the stalwart musicians out there who make dependable indie rock. Not dancepunk, not nu-rave, not electroclash, not... well, you get the picture. There are now countless bands, and many of them chase countless, cycling trends. Thankfully there are still plenty of acts making great music without aping the latest tight-legged or baggy-arsed hype-riders. Like The New Year. Like Thalia Zedek. And like Get Help.

The web site of Boston- and New York-based indie rock giants The Beatings continues to offer its message, "welcome to the country." So it is hard not to view the title The End Of The New Country as a sort of response, what with 50% of Get Help being comprised by Beatings guitarist and co-fronter Tony Skalicky. There is definitely a sense of old endings and new beginnings baked into the tracks on The End Of The New Country, particularly the anthemic rocker "Red Jacket Orchards" (a real place, incidentally -- the weird thing is we found that reference totally by accident) and the pensive strummer "Life Is Full Of Surprises." The other half of the the duo -- which is augmented for live performances by various labelmates and cohorts -- is Mike Ingenthron of Strikes Again. All three of the aforementioned acts record for Midriff Records, a bi-city collective formed by The Beatings seven years ago. With all those tight relationships in place, it is little wonder that Mssrs. Skalicky and Ingenthron's record doesn't stray far from the Grade A indie rock The Beatings trade in, but it is certainly more than a small comfort.

Like the solo efforts of The Beatings' Eldridge Rodriquez, Get Help doesn't fully embrace the kinetic squawl and electric snarl the characterizes the most compelling Beatings tracks. Instead, The End Of The New Country is as much as collection of moods as it is a group of songs. To that end, Get Help deploys reverbs, acoustic guitars and keys ("Travelers Shave Kit," "Punishing Good Deeds") with the same facility as the distortion levied in the balls-to-the-wall title track. As far as points of reference are concerned, the ballad "All Else Fails" is reminiscent of Yo La Tengo's "Tears Are In Your Eyes," as is the looping guitar at the close of the aforementioned "Travelers Shave Kit. The breezy rocker "It Begins Well" sounds like newer New Radiant Storm King. Mostly of course, Get Help's music sounds like good indie rock. Midriff Records releases The End Of The New Country Oct. 14, and the band will perform a record release show at Great Scott the following night. Now get a load of the title track.

Get Help -- "The End Of The New Country" -- The End Of The New Country
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[pre-order The End Of The New Country from Midriff right here]

Get Help: Internerds | MySpace | YouTube | Flickr

Related Coverage:

That Was The Show That Was: The Beatings | TT The Bear's
That Was The Show That Was: E.R. | TT The Bear's
Review: Eldridge Rodriguez | This Conspiracy Against Us
Review: The Beatings | Holding On To Hand Grenades

September 10, 2008

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

>> Holy crap! All of our favorite bands popped up on the radar today. Like this video above of The Heez, a/k/a Lilys main man Kurt Heasley, performing "Ginger" recently at some sort of 'zine storefront. And whoah, we think we just heard through the haze of our noise-canceling headphones a Lilys song being used in the episode of "90210" Ms. Clicky Clicky is watching as we type this -- that can't have happened. The video clip posted supra was unearthed by and first posted here by Philebrity yesterday. It features a slightly slowed-down and surprisingly hypnotic acoustic (and truncated -- the first verse is not part of the clip) take on the song made famous by an apparel and scent brand in the '90s. "Ginger" is the opening track to A Brief History Of Amazing Letdowns, which is one of the best EPs ever released. Of course, it is now out of print, and the bankruptcy of Spin Art Records seems to have doomed any hopes of ever getting the record reissued. You know what would be awesome? If Mr. Heasley pulled together all the old personnel (over the last 17 years there have been something like 70 different members of Lilys) and re-recorded the albums, like Camper Van Beethoven just did with certain tracks from its Virgin releases. Heasley is giving away several at the Lilys MySpace, but we'll save you the trip and post some below. Lilys are scheduled to perform at the forthcoming All Tomorrow's Parties event in New York being curated by My Bloody Valentine.

Lilys -- "Ginger" -- A Brief History Of Amazing Letdowns
Lilys -- "Dandy" -- A Brief History Of Amazing Letdowns
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[buy Lilys records from Newbury Comics right here]

>> Thanks to our anonymous tipster who early yesterday hipped us to the fact that Johnny Foreigner had just updated its MySpace yert to show that the Birmingham, England-based indie rock trio will perform at CMJ in Manhattan next month. The trio will perform at something called the Levi's Fader Fort on Oct. 23. A quick trip to the Googles shows that a similar fort was erected during South By Southwest this past spring. Brass tacks: will folks need a CMJ wristband for this? Seems unlikely. It may not matter, as we're not sure if we've got the work vacation days to make it down to Manhattan for the show anyway, but crazier things have happened. Johnny Foreigner's spastically good Waited Up Til It Was Light is released domestically by Nettwerk Sept. 23.

>> It would seem to be the era of the surprise album. Although today's news that superlative Scottish indie rockers Frightened Rabbit will release a live record Oct. 21 was presaged by a new MySpace profile graphic, which gave us pause when we saw it earlier this week. So, yes, Frightened Rabbit's Liver! Lung! FR! live set -- technically its second, if you count this piping hot live release issued through EMusic last year -- will be on shelves in a scant six weeks thanks to its label Fat Cat. When we wrote about the band just last week we had noted the fact that the only new product Frightened Rabbit would have to shill when it arrived in the U.S. for a tour next month was a new single featuring "I Feel Better" b/w "The Twist." Those are hot numbers, but having a whole live album to sell at a kick-ass live show seems like a much better idea. We're hoping that the band is traveling with copies of Liver! Lung! FR! prior to its release, because the quartet performs here in Cambridge Oct. 19, two days before the official release day.

>> Today we heard for the first time (in recent memory anyway -- we have a sneaking suspicion the CD lurks somewhere in the collection) Chappaquiddick Skyline's cover of New Order's amazing tune "Leave Me Alone." Not long after hearing the song we came across this scant item at AngryApe that states Rhino will reissue Sept. 28 (in the U.K. only?) the first five New Order records (from Movement to Technique) in expanded versions including a second disc of b-sides and demos and all that jazz. All that jazz that makes us crazy wondering whether we'll need to buy these, should they come to rest in American racks. It's bad enough The Replacements and The Cure have bled us dry in the last couple years (although we can't wait until Sept. 23 to get the next slate of 'Mats stuff), but now the Mancunian quartet -- which has already released a countless number of hits collections and box sets over the years -- feels the need to go into our wallets again. And we'll probably let them.

>> Speaking of The Cure, Geffen claims that the veteran English alt-rockers currently have four singles in the Billboard Top 20. This astounds us. Especially because we recall only really liking one of said singles. All four tracks will appear on The Cure's forthcoming 13th album 4:13 Dream, which will be released by the aforementioned label Oct. 28. Bradley's Almanac's recent recording of The Cure's live performance in Boston was so good it made us wish we had made the jaunt over the river to see it ourselves, and we very much like the currently lineup of the band, which includes stored sidemen Simon Gallup and Porl Thompson back on bass and guitar respectively. So we're hoping we'll like the new record. The Cure release next week an EP titled Hypnogogic States containing remixes of the first four singles; the list of remixers is frankly sad, save for post-rock act 65DaysOfStatic. On the bright side, all artist royalties from the sale of the EP go to support the International Red Cross.

September 9, 2008

CC200: The Dambuilders' "Shrine," A Nationwide Tangent

The Dambuilders -- Encendedor
Melodic bass, crisp snare beats and blasts of guitar and violin. The Dambuilders' "Shrine" has everything (except, as Wikipedia points out, a traditional verse-chorus structure) and the erstwhile Boston-based quartet proves it in its first eight bars. Which is why "Shrine" is #43 in the Clicky Clicky 200. The Dambuilders formed in Hawaii 1989 and broke out in 1994 on the strength of the full-length Encendedor and various strong, contemporaneous singles and compilation appearances. There were quite a few hot numbers on Encendedor (see "Colin's Heroes," "Smell"), but "Shrine" may be the most immediate. The lyric recounts fondly a romance of the Lane Myer/Monique Junet variety, wherein indie rock provides the common ground for the couple. The real grabber of the number, even more so than the exceedingly hooky melody, is the big dynamic changes, particularly that first crushing wall of guitar and violin. There is a very nice bridge section accentuated by pizzicato violin and then fuzz bass. And then the song closes down neatly, making you wish it was at least twice as long. That's "Shrine." It's #43 on The Clicky Clicky 200; read other CC200 posts right here.

It is notable that long before indie luminary Sufjan Stevens release the state-themed albums Greetings From Michigan and Illinois, The Dambuilders launched an effort to write a song for each of the American states (including the stellar "Colorado" and the zesty instrumental "Montana"). We do not know whether the band ever completed all 50 tunes, but we do know that 15 made their way to CD on the 1996 Australian release God Dambuilders Bless America, which we'd love to track down (and which we are surprised to find recently referenced at The Phoenix). What is a shame is that Encendedor is not available at EMusic or ITunes; the latter digital music storefront does have the subsequent albums Ruby Red and Against The Stars, which were released on East/West after The Dambuilders were scooped up by the major label system. Of the Dambuilders alumni, violinist Joan Wasserman has the most prominent profile currently, as her Joan As Policewoman musical project has been well-received. Bassist and singer Dave Derby has charted a solo career under his own named and the moniker Brilliantine, and we enjoyed his 2003 set Even Further Behind. Mr. Derby's latest project, Gramercy Arms, features Dambuilders drummer Kevin March and former Luna guitarist Sean Eden.

The Dambuilders -- "Shrine" -- Encendedor
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[buy Dambuilders records at MusicStack here]

The Dambuilders: Internets | MySpace | YouTube | Flickr

September 8, 2008

Reader Rewards: Win Johnny Foreigner's Single, But Not That Single

Johnny Foreigner -- Salt, Peppa and Spinderella
[UPDATED] Regular readers will be as surprised as we are to learn that we haven't written about Johnny Foreigner for almost a month. For a while it seemed like we couldn't go two days without writing about the Birmingham, England-based noisepop trio, a fact that prompted one of our colleagues to remark that sometimes Clicky Clicky is like a Johnny Foreigner (and Frightened Rabbit) fan blog. We're OK with that. As we stated more than a year ago here, we once considered fairly strongly starting a new blog exclusively devoted to Johnny Foreigner. Sadly, any additional writing endeavors we commence need to be revenue-generating. All these records do not pay for themselves. Except for the free ones. But we digress.

Today in the U.K. Best Before Records releases the fourth and likely final UK single for Johnny Foreigner's superlative debut full-length Waited Up Til It Was Light. "Salt, Peppa and Spinderella," as we've noted many times before, is being issued as a Pacman-yellow 10" with three remixes. We eagerly await our vinyl copy, which apparently was only one of 400 being sold. We are fortunate enough to already have received a copy of the promo CD version of the new single scored off EBay. Don't get overly excited, this is not what we're giving away today. What we are offering up is a spare copy of the promo CD for the first single from the aforementioned longplayer, "Our Bipolar Friends" b/w "The Houseparty Scene Is Killing You," which our Ebay seller was vending together with his copy of "Salt, Peppa and Spinderella." Despite already having the former, we figured what the hell, the extra copy would be something nice to give away to help promote the band to the kids in the U.S. So here's the deal: the first U.S.-based reader -- besides previous winner Jane, sorry Jane -- to email us the names of the parties responsible for the three remixes found on the "Salt, Peppa and Spinderella" single will receive our extra CD of "Our Bipolar Friends." A link to our email address is in the sidebar. We'll update this item as soon as we have a winner.

Speaking of promoting Johnny Foreigner to the kids, we are mystified that we've yet to appreciate any sort of press push for the planned Sept. 23 North American release of Waited Up Til It Was Light. And the page, frankly, still needs to be copyedited. Perhaps the physical release date (which a press release originally gave as "October") has been pushed back until the band can actually make it across the Atlantic to support the release? The album has been available digitally to the domestic market since July, so a sales stopgap is in place, at least. The trio has tour commitments through Oct. 8 with Dananananaykroyd, and then we expect they will set about recording a Christmas single or filming variety show spots for holiday specials like they was the Beatles or something. You can stream all of Waited Up Til It Was Light at Last.FM right here, although the songs are curiously ordered alphabetically rather than the normal running order. We expect it won't be another month before we write about Johnny Foreigner again. In the event you don't yet know what all the fuss is about, here's the A-side of the band's debut single, released on Laundrette in late 2006. [Congratulations to reader John for winning the single]

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

Johnny Foreigner: Internets | MySpace | YouTube | Flickr

September 4, 2008

Fear Of A Rabbit Planet: FR Returns To North America

Frightened Rabbit -- Fear Of A Rabbit Planet
The ascent of Frightened Rabbit, Selkirk, Scotland's finest indie rock foursome, continues unabated. The band's folksy ballad "Poke" soundtracked several minutes of the American teen-targeted soap opera "One Tree Hill" earlier this week -- one can inspect the evidence at YouTube right here. While you're in the video-watching mood, treat yourself to this endearingly earnest fan vid for "The Modern Leper." And for a good laugh, this clip of band fronter Scott Hutchison debating his brother Grant about whether porn can be art is not to be missed. Just when you thought things couldn't get any better for FR, the band announced Wednesday it will support indie veterans Death Cab For Cutie on forthcoming November tour dates in the U.K. Could an invitation to Christmas dinner at Chris Walla's and a record deal with Atlantic be too far behind?

But wait -- we've mistakenly skipped passed more pressing information. Assuming we've counted correctly, in October Frightened Rabbit makes its fifth trip to North America in fewer than 12 months. As we reported here in July, Frightened Rabbit will be touting -- at least in the U.K. -- a newly minted third single from its stellar sophomore set The Midnight Organ Fight, which was released in April. The aforementioned third single will contain the cuts "I Feel Better" b/w "The Twist" [YouTube video preview]. The latter track may be our favorite from the set, so you singles junkies in the U.K. had better start saving your pocket change. The North American tour dates commence Oct. 17 in Philadelphia and wrap in Los Angeles two weeks later. Night three of the tour brings Frightened Rabbit back to The Middle East Rock Club in Cambridge, Mass. To whet your whistle, here's a nice acoustic version of "Head Rolls Off" from an Italian radio session earlier this year.

Frightened Rabbit -- "Head Rolls Off (Live)" -- Live at Maps RCDC
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[buy Frightened Rabbit records from Newbury Comics right here]

Frightened Rabbit: Internets | MySpace | YouTube | Flickr

10/17 -- First Unitarian Church -- Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
10/18 -- Music Hall Of Williamsburg -- New York, New York
10/19 -- Middle East -- Cambridge, Massachusetts
10/20 -- Petit Campus -- Montreal, Quebec
10/22 -- Skully’s Music Diner -- Columbus, Ohio
10/23 -- Metro -- Chicago, Illinois
10/24 -- High Noon Saloon -- Madison, Wisconsin
10/25 -- 7th Street Entry -- Minneapolis, Minnesota
10/28 -- Chop Suey -- Seattle, Washington
10/29 -- Media Club -- Vancouver, British Columbia
11/01 -- Bottom Of The Hill -- San Francisco, California
11/02 -- Bottom Of The Hill -- San Francisco, California
11/03 -- Echoplex -- Los Angeles, California

Selected Prior Frightened Rabbit coverage:

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

September 3, 2008

CC200: Human Television's "Look At Who You're Talking To"

[Update Forthcoming] The second installment of the Clicky Clicky 200 [first post here] jumps ahead 112 spots to 86, where we find Human Television's "Look At Who You're Talking To," the title-ballad to the Brooklyn-based (by way of Gainesville and Philly) quintet's 2006 set. It's about a relationship-ending confrontation. This is sad. And it does a neat job closing out the album by repurposing much of the lyrics from the delightfully upbeat preceding track "In Front Of The House" [video here].

"Look At Who You're Talking To" also has pretty amazing string arrangements, and such strong arrangements aren't something we'd typically assume an indie kid could pull off. The liner notes to the record state that they were the work of a fellow named John Fields. That's a fairly un-Googlable name, but a search turns up hits for a Fields who also worked on records from Clay Aiken, those ubiquitous teen commerce-tainment robots Jonas Brothers and Mandy Moore. So perhaps the guy is a big deal? He can certainly arrange some string. Such arrangement may also have been influenced by Look At Who You're Talking To producer Chris Zane. His is a name with which we're distinctly more familiar. You've heard Mr. Zane's work on records from Asobi Seksu, Les Savy Fav and Tokyo Police Club. One day perhaps we'll be able to track down info about how "Look At Who You're Talking To" was put together production-wise. In the meantime, just sit back and enjoy the poignant track. It is unclear from Human Television's MySpace casa whether the band has plans to release another record, and it lists no upcoming performances. Hopefully, the act will spring new music upon us soon.

Human Television -- "Look At Who You're Talking To" -- Look At Who You're Talking To
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[buy Human Television records from Newbury Comics right here]

Human Television: Internerds | MySpace | YouTube | Flickr

September 2, 2008

Review: And The Moneynotes | New Cornucopia! [MP3s]

And The Moneynotes -- New CornucopiaWe were huge fans of erstwhile Scranton, PA-based quintet Okay Paddy, and when the band's excellent EP Where You Went? [review here] was chased with news the group had disbanded, we were commensurately bummed. The EP presented some headscratch-worthy moments during which Okay Paddy broached surprisingly trad-leaning folk-rock sounds. But for the most part the music still fit within the framework of the Pavement-meets-Weezer brilliance contained on Okay Paddy's ferociously slept-on 2006 full-length The Cactus Has A Point [review here, stream the entire thing at Last.FM here]. The one exception was Where You Went? closer "Open It Up," during which the singer -- not sure who's on vocals there -- affects a drunken Phil Lynott style while the band spreads out and jams on a gritty dirge. With that as the band's final word, it was anybody's guess where Okay Paddy would go next.

While the breakup was surprising, it is not quite as surprising as And The Moneynotes, formerly know as Dr. Horsemachine And The Moneynotes, a project that galvanized in 2006 and released an EP, This Year We Hunt, in 2007. After the release of This Year We Hunt, a founding member of Dr. Horsemachine And The Moneynotes departed; eventually, Okay Paddy fronter Mike Quinn as well as guitarist Pat Finnerty and drummer Brian Craig were brought into the fold and the band name was truncated. The newer band's mish-mash of bluegrass, vaudeville and folk rock can come across as mannered, like an aural costume play (indeed, the band dresses in period garb like early American barkeeps or reporters in its press photos). Fortunately a sense of play -- and some strong melodies -- imbue New Cornucopia! with just the right amount of pep and pop hooks to keep the cheekiness from overwhelming the proceedings. If that doesn't sell you on the band, then this hysterical documentary trailer (real? we don't know) definitely will.

And The Moneynotes' music is even more rootsy and traditional than the most straightforward moments of Where You Went?, although there is an overt sophistication to the compositions that, incidentally, seems to echo the new direction that Delaware septet the Spinto Band has charted (more about them later). Certain vestigial elements of Okay Paddy survive, including wonderful vocal harmonies and melodic moments that soar. But in some cases, as in And The Moneynotes' proggy, Decemberists-esque "The Pirates Confession Part III," so much is going on at once between the key and tempo changes that it is hard to keep up. It may be too much for certain, more pop-devoted Okay Paddy fans, but listeners with broader tastes will find the cleverness bracing. New Cornucopia!, which was produced by Spinto Band's Nick Krill (who also worked on Where You Went?), was issued by Scranton's Prairie Queen Records July 29 [hit the YouTube link below to see videos from the CD release show]. The band will promote the set with a series of live appearances this fall, and we list those below. Also below are MP3s for two tracks from New Cornucopia!, including the delight "My Kid Smokin'," as well as some Okay Paddy classics.

And The Moneynotes -- "Bolinda" -- New Cornucopia! [live video]
And The Moneynotes -- "My Kid Smokin'" -- New Cornucopia!
Okay Paddy -- "Dumbwaiter" -- Where You Went?
Okay Paddy -- "Your Bar's On Fire" -- The Cactus Has A Point
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[buy New Cornucopia! from Prairie Queen Records right here]
[buy Okay Paddy records from Prison Jazz Records here]

And The Moneynotes: Internerds | MySpace | YouTube | Flickr

09/13 -- Cafe Metropolis -- Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania
09/17 -- The Bog -- Scranton, Pennsylvania
09/25 -- Zeno’s -- State College, Pennsylvania
10/17 -- Music Hall Of Williamsburg -- Brooklyn, New York
10/18 -- The Chameleon Club -- Lancaster, Pennsylvania
10/25 -- River St. Jazz Cafe -- Plains, Pennsylvania
10/28 -- The Bog -- Scranton, Pennsylvania
10/29 -- Bar Bleu -- State College, Pennsylvania
10/30 -- Casa Cantina -- Athens, Ohio
10/31 -- Mid City Grill -- Ft. Wayne, Indiana
11/03 -- The Frequency -- Madison, Wisconsin
11/06 -- Al’s Bar -- Lexington, Kentucky
11/07 -- The Green Bean -- Greensboro, North Carolina