December 15, 2009

Today's Hotness: Varsity Drag, State Champion, Screaming Maldini

>> Christmas has come early for fans of Cambridge, Mass.'s superlative pop-punk trio Varsity Drag, which has posted for free a recent radio session recorded on the heels of an October jaunt across the pond. The band, fronted by Ben Deily, is offering via Bandcamp free downloads of 13 tunes committed to tape (well, probably not tape) Oct. 28 at Tufts University's WMFO. As the band had just come off the road (and had recently kicked some nasty colds), the performances are particularly tight and confident. With the energy and gusto on display here, the live performances of tracks from The Drag's new album Night Owls give many of the recorded versions a serious run for their money. This is particularly the case with "Richard's Gone" and "Night Owls." We're offering the latter track as an MP3 below, head over to the Bandcamp site via the link supra and grab the rest of the set, you will be glad you did. C'mon, c'mon, let's stay up all night.

Varsity Drag -- "Night Owls" -- Live Owls: Varsity Drag Live on WMFO
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[buy Varsity Drag music from the band right here]

>> We've received an unusual amount (meaning "some") very good unsolicited pitches of late. How about we tell you about one? There is a newish combo out of Louisville, KY (birthplace of Slint, among many others) called State Champion that will put out next month a full-length called Stale Champagne, the title of which is as best as we can tell a play on the band's name. The eight-song set -- State Champion's fourth if you count a bunch of demos collections and small-run releases that have preceded it -- will be released on vinyl only by the Sophomore Lounge label, which we've also never heard of. But all of that information is secondary to the following: Stale Champagne is a gritty collection of zealously delivered and countrified indie rock tunes that will remind listeners of Palace Brothers and Okkervil River (incidentally, Stale Champagne was produced by Palace sideman Paul Oldham). And Deer Tick. It's really good stuff, although we have not yet fully digested it. Fronter Ryan Davis kindly is allowing us to share up a track, so we're posting the rollicking set-closer "The Years" below. Stale Champagne is out Jan. 26.

State Champion -- "The Years" -- Stale Champagne
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[buy earlier State Champion recordings via Sophomore Lounge right here]

>> Word from futurepop savants Screaming Maldini, who we've curiously not mentioned in ten months, is that the Sheffield, England-based sextet has signed with Oxford-based Alcopop! records. Alcopop! will release in February an EP of Screaming Maldini tracks including some of the demos we were treated to early this year, as well as some new tracks. According to band member Nick, Screaming Maldini hopes to record a full length by the end of 2010, and the sextet has amassed scads of tracks that the band is eager to get out there. Incidentally, the band is giving away a secret Christmas present at its Facebook page right now, so you should head over there and see what you can score. We first wrote about Screaming Maldini here in February.

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