February 27, 2009

Show That Was Mini: The Swirlies | Johnny Brenda's

Damon and Adam of The Swirlies, Johnny Brenda's, Philadelphia, February 26, 2009, photo by Matt Graves
Word from our operative MGrooves, who attended last night's kick-off of The Swirlies' mini-not-reunion tour at Johnny Brenda's in Philadelphia, is that the show was awesome. The band opened with "Bell," and The Swirlies apparently were in such fine form that there was no noticable rustiness beyond some tuning and fussing -- and, really, depending on what year you've seen The Swirlies last, that's a good show -- despite it being five years since their last shows. They played for 90 minutes! The set leans heavily toward Blonder Tongue Audio Baton and They Spent Their Wild..., but there were some tracks from Cats Of The Wild in the mix as well. The Swirlies closed with a seven-minute version of "Sunn" that was captured to video, and we're hoping to post that video clip atop this item as soon as it is online. MGrooves reports the following tunes made the set, although not in this order:

Vigilant Always
Jeremy Parker
Wrong Tube
Sound of Sebring
Two Girls Kissing
San Cristobal de las Casas
Le Bag
One Light Flashing I Love You

Today's Hotness: Swirlies, Screaming Maldini, Bricolage

The Swirlies -- What To Do About Them
>> We're getting excited for chimp-rock standard bearers The Swirlies' show Saturday night at the Middle East, and it would seem the Internet is also in the grips of a minor bout of Swirlies-a-mania. No fewer than three outlets previewed the upcoming shows Thursday, including Philebrity and Boston's Weekly Dig and Bostonist publications. We have an operative based in San Francisco who flew east to catch two of the shows, last night's set at Johnny Brenda's in Philly -- apparently The Swirlies' first show in five years -- and the show Saturday. We're hopeful that said operative will file a review with us that we'll try to get online Friday night. Saturday will not be our first time seeing the band -- we think it will be the third. The first time was at the Indie 500 festival in South Jersey in 1993, and then we saw them in a West Philly basement sometime between then and 1996. Even so, if our recollection is correct, we've never seen The Swirlies get through an entire performance, so anticipation runs high. As Philebrity points out, a large portion of the band's catalogue, including the indispensible Taaang! releases, are available for free download at the band's site here. To get you started, here are a couple of our favorite tracks from the excellent What To Do About Them, which was released in 1992.

Swirlies -- "Chris R." -- What To Do About Them
Swirlies -- "Upstairs" -- What To Do About Them
[right click and save as]
[a whole lotta free Swirlies here]

>> It's been a month since we first got an email from Nick of the Sheffield, England-based maximalist pop trio Screaming Maldini, and we're somewhat surprised that it has taken so long for us to make mention of the band's orchestral tunes. Not completely surprised, however: Screaming Maldini is doing something fairly singular by mixing the widescreen ADD tendencies of Scritti Politti and electropop savant Max Tundra with the vintage soundtrack work collected on that The Sound Gallery comp -- and then there's a bit of Frank Zappa thrown in as well. It's quite difficult to peg. But we think you will be completely sold, as we were, by the wondrous tune "The Extraordinary," which we're posting below. There's not a lot of information about Screaming Maldini out there, but the other blogs [ploing! bonk!] that have picked up on the band note the trio are students and certain of them are former members of an act called Situationists; they spent a lot of the summer of 2008 in a Sheffield recording studio; the act is currently unsigned and prepping a touring unit for live dates. Highly recommended. Download away!

Screaming Maldini -- "The Extraordinary"
[right click and save as]
[stream more amazing cuts at Screaming Maldini's MySpace here]

>> And one more from the U.K., Glasgow specifically, to round out the week. We are thrilled by the scritchy, post-punk sounds of Bricolage, one of the most recent signings to resurgent indie label Slumberland. A label, we might add, that has one of the best rosters going right now. Bricolage, a quartet, has released four singles since forming in late 2005, and Slumberland will issue the band's self-titled full-length April 14. The obligatory promo MP3 is "Turn U Over," an arresting up-tempo slab of indie pop that was released as a single in November. The tune may not be as strong as the fireball "Footsteps," the band's debut single released by Creeping Bent which reminds us of The English Beat and Haircut 100. You can watch the video for "Footsteps" right here, and as it turns out there is a fair amount of Bricolage videos at YouTube, so fix yourself a drink and settle in.

Bricolage -- "Turn U Over" -- Bricolage
[right click and save as]
[watch Slumberland's web site for pre-order information]

February 26, 2009

That Was The Show That Was: Ben Kweller | Somerville Theater

Ben Kweller live on this tour by Flickr user Eytonz, used under Creative Commons license
[PHOTO CREDIT: Eytonz @ Flickr | We are pleased to once again present to you the work of friend and former editor The Good Doctor. While he does not contribute often enough, The Good Doctor has previously graced these pages with reviews of a couple Yo La Tengo shows. He is a direct and opinionated writer in the best sense: below he deems a large group of strangers to be surprisingly homely, much to our amusement. -- Ed.]

I’m 41 and don’t do much of anything in part because I have a house and a little boy and a long-hours desk job, but mostly because I’ve done enough. I've seen a zillion bands and now I really just don’t care, except about a few artists -- and Ben Kweller is one of them.

So has my perspective been poisoned by Hollywood because now I stay home and watch attractive people in TV shows and movies –- or is the health of today’s modern show-goer in horrible distress? Or was it a phenomenon of this particular artist’s audience? Allow me to be blunt: are Ben Kweller fans hideous or what? If you were casting that scene in a movie where someone is accidentally drugged and everything they see gets all wiggly and everyone around them gets in their face, but it’s in slow motion, and the sound gets all slowed down, and they look a little bit like evil clowns but without make-up or hats –- that’s what the lobby at this show looked like. I couldn’t believe it. It was terrifying.

That aside, Mr. Kweller -- who hails from Austin, Texas, and got his start fronting a relatively inspired trio called Radish -- has so many great songs it’s ridiculous. He played tons of them Tuesday night, many newly arranged in the style of his fine new country-flavored release, Changing Horses, released Feb. 3. Kweller worked all of the evening’s guitar chores on an acoustic instrument, achieving heavy sounds when necessary aided by appropriate gear. A highlight of the 90-plus minute set was the new record’s “Gypsy Rose,” a deceptively simple folk number performed with a false ending before tearing into a throbbing coda during which I may have seen God. The set took a quiet and personal turn on “Thirteen,” during a brief but beautiful solo set at the piano. Kweller kept chatter between songs to a minimum, though an explanation as to why he felt a need to re-arrange “Sundress” to ruin what is arguably his finest hook would have been welcomed. -- The Good Doctor

Kweller's tour of the U.S. continues through March 7; in April he travels to Australia and in May he takes the show to Europe. All the dates are here.

Ben Kweller -- Hurtin' You -- Changing Horses
[right click and save as, with a hat tip to Stereogum, who first offered the tune in November]
[buy Ben Kweller records from Newbury Comics right here]

Ben Kweller: Internerds | MySpace | YouTubes | Flickr

February 25, 2009

Introducing KeepingSomeDarkSecrets.com

Keeping Some Dark Secrets -- The International Johnny Foreigner Fan Site
Well, we've been toying with the idea since July 2007, and today we finally have done it: we're launching with our English colleague Luke Cotton a new outlet called KeepingSomeDarkSecrets.com, the international Johnny Foreigner fan site. In retrospect we're glad we didn't call it "A+ No. 1 Super Fun Time Johnny Foreigner Fan Club USA Blog," as we had originally joked two years ago. KSDS, as we've already taken to abbreviating it, will provide all the microscopic Johnny Foreigner coverage you've come to expect here, but it will be better: Mr. Cotton and we envision exclusives, live show reviews, an active fan forum, and so on. The sky is the limit really. As an aside -- hey Europeans? Why haven't you posted any video clips of the current tour to YouTube yet? Get on that.

So the obvious question is "will you still cover Johnny Foreigner here?" And the answer to that is a resounding yes. We plan to cross-post all our KSDS items here, although the posts will go online at KeepingSomeDarkSecrets earlier in the calendar day on UK time, while Clicky Clicky will continue to go online first thing in the morning U.S. East Coast time. When you click over to KeepingSomeDarkSecrets you'll notice we've already cross-posted there all the relevant Clicky Clicky historic posts -- some 60 of them! Anyway, we've got a nice surprise for the official launch of KSDS today in the form of a recently surfaced demo of Johnny Foreigner's "This Trapeze Ball Thought Out," which curiously came tagged with a different title, "rhapsody (rough)." So head on over and check out what we're doing, listen to the music like The Doobie Brothers, and add KSDS to your RSS reader. And now, here is the track that set us and our partner Mr. Cotton down this road in the first place last November, the old demo for "KickKickKick."

Johnny Foreigner -- "KickKickKick" -- I Like You Mostly Late At Never
[right click and save as]
[buy Johnny Foreigner music from Emusic right here]
[Well, would you look at that? Now Emusic has more JoFo stuff!]

February 23, 2009

Review: Calories | Adventuring

Brevity: Birmingham, England-based power trio Calories has it. The act's music is so tightly compacted that even the verses play like choruses, and its entire debut set Adventuring is done almost as soon as it begins. On Adventuring, due March 9, Calories delivers a brisk, exuberant collection of 10 tunes that clocks in at a breathless 23 minutes. All the songs are singalong-able, everything is anthemic and everything rocks.

Calories has been streaming new tracks at its MySpace garage for months, namely the lead track "A Bear, A Bison," "To Encounter A Deer" and the title cut. Spirited fist-bangers all, driven by bassist Pete Dixon's affecting bark, but the trio has kept some cards up its six sleeves. The punishing push and pull of "Caught In The In-Between" -- which recalls the finer early work of '90s D.C. post-hardcore standard bearers Jawbox -- is the most exciting track on Adventuring. The Jawbox reference may not be terribly off the mark, considering the slate of influences at Calories' MySpace reads like a who's who of the American underground of the last 20 years, including Jawbox contemporaries Shudder To Think (whose Get Your Goat album is exceptional), as well as Blonde Redhead, Polvo and Don Caballero. "(See You On The Expedition)," another highlight, rocks very convincingly in 3/4 time.

Adventuring is available for pre-order now right here; fans who pre-order the collection will also receive a bonus handmade CDR containing 26 tracks (!!!) of demos and extras, as well as a digital sampler from the label. All of which makes the 8 pounds sterling sticker price well worth it in our opinion. Calories embark on a short tour supporting Glaswegian indie phenoms Dananananaykroyd March 26, and you can inspect the trio's full itinerary at its aforementioned MySpace. There's no preview MP3 to be had for Adventuring, which is a shame, but we think you'll enjoy the non-album track "Drink The Potion," a live video of which is linked below. Word from the Calories camp is that the tune was written about a month or so after Adventuring was recorded, and it is likely going to be on the trio's next record, which could be tracked later this year. As a sidenote, we'll point out that only recently have we gotten our hands on Calories-predecessor Distophia's absurdly good but never released masterwork Beat Dyslexia. If you do not have this record you should hunt it down with extreme prejudice. It's exceptional, and we're posting the amazing cut "Children Know The Score" below with the hopes that some day the set might get a proper commercial release. Finally, you may recall Calories helped us relaunch our Show Us Yours feature a month ago; here's a link to that.

Calories -- "Drink The Potion" [YouTube]
Distophia -- "Children Know The Score [.m4a]" -- Beat Dyslexia
[right click and save as]
[buy Distophia records at MusicStack here]

Calories: Internerds | MySpace | YouTube | Flickr

February 20, 2009

Johnny Foreigner Is Aces -- New Demos Online For A Limited Time

Johnny Foreigner -- Ghost The Festivals
Well, fans, your favorite Birmingham, England-based noise pop trio this evening put online for two weeks only something called Johnny Foreigner Is Aces (a sentiment we certainly won't argue). Johnny Foreigner Is Aces is not a proper release, but rather a .zip file with two tracks (pure .wav files! awesome!) and two desktop wallpaper images that the band is offering, as we said, for a limited time only. The first track is "Ghost The Festivals," which the band has been playing live for months and months. We think we prefer the live version (we're thinking of the one from New Slang last Nov., or the performance for Manchester's Channel M, specifically), but even so it is really solid -- the chorus in the demo is orchestrated slightly differently, but we expect it will grow on us. The more exciting cut is the second, "Ohai, Sentinels," which is apparently another of the band's catchy rants against the development and gentrification of their beloved hometown.

The two tunes were recorded and mixed by Sunset Cinema Club's Dom James at Bridge Studios Annex 2 and in Dom's new bedroom last month. According to the liners that came in the .zip the tunes are on a tour-only CD-R Johnny Foreigner will be selling at its shows for the foreseeable future, that apparently also contains three additional tracks "taken from our bootleg archive." Which brings us to a request -- if you get to a show on the band's upcoming tours with Sky Larkin and 100 Reasons and are flush with enough cash, please Please PLEASE buy two extra copies and then email us at the address in the sidebar. We've a mate in the UK who will receive shipment of same on our behalf, we'll totally pay you back, and we'll potentially set you up with some exclusive stuff in return related to a new super secret (for another week or so, anyway) Johnny Foreigner-related endeavor we've undertaken. Make it worth your while, yeh? Tour dates here.

Johnny Foreigner -- Johnny Foreigner Is Aces [zip file]
[right click and save as]

Today's Hotness: Postulat, The Answering Machine (Again)

>> We've received a lot of emails lately about two of our favorite '90s acts, Kam Fong (really, two emails recently) and Small Factory. As we quipped to one of our correspondents, we are ready for the Small Factory reunion. Just sitting here waiting for it. Ready. Waiting. Pretending it's sunny, even... Anyway, while a reunion of the Providence, RI-spawned trio seems unlikely, we were excited to see action at SF bassist and singer Alex Kemp's MySpace dojo. Mr. Kemp, now the creative director of a music production company and based in Los Angeles, reports in a bulletin that he has formed a new project that goes by the name Postulat with Norwegian singer/songwriter Kristin Øhrn Dyrud. The band name sounds kinda European techno or darkwave hip-hop or math-rocky, right? It turns out Postulat is none of these things. Instead, the duo offers densely arranged, somewhat reserved rockers and uptempo pop ("Magic World," "Say You Will"). The production is pretty glossy, sometimes clever. Kemp's vocals are evenly weighted with Ms. Dyrud's, and otherwise largely stick in the background, although he gets a verse in the bouncy "Say You Will." The pick of the six songs posted at Postulat's MySpace lean-to may be the quiet, bleep ballad "Gift," which we recommend you go stream straightaway.

>> If you couldn't tell from all our recent posting and Twittering about Manchester, England-based indie pop phenoms The Answering Machine that we are excited about their debut record, well, you just haven't been paying attention. We were bantering with a fellow from their label today, who was cool enough to extend to us permission to post the title track of the quartet's forthcoming full-length Another City, Another Sorry. You'll recall we pointed here to RockSellout's post with that very MP3 in it early this month; if you didn't heed our exhortation to go download the track then, we insist you do it now below. Another City, Another Sorry will be released by Heist Or Hit Records in the U.K. in May. As we reiterated Wednesday, the album is preceded by the exceedingly excellent single "Cliffer" Feb. 9, which can already be purchased in the U.S. at Rhapsody.com.

The Answering Machine -- "Another City, Another Sorry" -- Another City, Another Sorry
[right click and save as]
[watch the Heist Or Hit site for pre-order information]

>> While it seems patently obvious to those of you paying attention to such things, we thought we'd point out this week had the first new release day of the year we were very excited about. We've been too busy to get out and buy records, but when we do we'll definitely be picking up Morrissey's Years Of Refusal and Psapp's The Camel's Back. Psapp's next single will be for the album track "I Want That," and the duo is currently working on a video to promote the tune. The single will be released in the UK on March 30. You can get The Camel's Back at EMusic right now.

February 18, 2009

Today's Hotness: The Answering Machine, Superchunk, Stone Roses

>> For those of you who don't read something called Record Of The Day magazine, which we freely admit we don't, you may have missed this Feb. 5 issue of its weekly magazine (we know, a weekly version of a daily, we're confused too) in which our humble blog was profiled. We endeavored to be interesting, and are not sure we succeeded, although we don't think our case was helped by how our remarks were edited to fit in the news hole. But the most important takeaway from the interview is our answer to question three, in which we name The Answering Machine's debut full-length Another City, Another Sorry the most likely thing to break big in 2009. The video for the track "Cliffer" -- which will be released March 9 as the first single from the full-length, and which will probably sell out in no time -- is embedded atop this item. We heard from our man MGrooves Monday night that folks in the U.S. can already purchase the digital version of the Manchester, England quartet's single via Rhapsody.com right here, right now. We downloaded it last night and it is massive: gigantic guitars, big hooks, it's the whole package. The b-side "Your Home Address," a demo of which we've been digging for months and months, is also really enjoyable, although its more mid-tempo attack is eclipsed somewhat by the energy of "Cliffer" (not to mention the energy of the title track to the full-length). Anyway, our point is this track is awesome, the full-length is going to be huge, and enjoy the video.

>> We really feel the music zeitgeist is tipping back toward our tastes in indie rock. One sign of this is news Tuesday from Pantsfork that legendary indie rock foursome Superchunk will issue a new EP April 7 called Leaves In The Gutter. Will it be as good as the "Mower" b/w "On The Mouth" single from 1993? Probably not. But maybe, just maybe, it will be. What we do know, according to the Pantsfork item, is that the EP will have five tracks, including two version of "Learned To Surf" and one cut ("Misfits & Mistakes") that was previously issued on vinyl in 2007. Speaking of "Mower," did you know the band offers that track for free download at its site right here, along with a handful of other excellent tracks? Well now you do. Here's "Mower" and "Watery Hands," because, you know, why not?

Superchunk -- "Mower" -- On The Mouth
Superchunk -- "Watery Hands" -- Indoor Living
[right click and save as]
[buy Superchunk records from Newbury Comics right here]

>> Since we've already fallen down the rabbit hole of oldies, we thought we'd throw out there that we're pleased that The Stone Roses' superlative '89 self-titled debut will be remastered and reissued some time this year as a box set. This according to the NME here. We can't imagine what if any rarities could be packaged with the box that haven't already made the rounds of fans several times over, but that is no matter. What is important is that the record gains currency with new fans who may not have discovered it yet. It is truly a wonderful record.

February 17, 2009

Today's Hotness: The Hush Now, Cinemasophia

The Hush Now, Feb. 12, 2009
>> We were very impressed by The Hush Now's record release show last Thursday night, and only work and a trip over the weekend kept us from offering something more like a proper review. There are a couple important things to note that underline the fact that The Hush Now is a band to watch. First, this was technically the band's live debut. And we don't just mean this particular line-up of the band, we mean it was their first gig, and The Hush Now was very convincing: no muffed cues, no noticeable botching of anything, just big guitars and big anthems. Second, bandleader Noel Kelly told us prior to the show that the quintet had only rehearsed four times. Third, despite it being the band's live debut (we don't think a radio session with Pipeline! earlier in the week counts), the room in front of the stage at TT's was filled -- a bit shy of packed. We've been in that room a lot of nights with bigger bands drawing fewer people, so the turnout -- for a band whose players describe themselves as hermits -- speaks to a level of interest that we expect even surprises Mr. Kelly. The Hush Now played rockers including "Sadie Hawkins Dance," "Pining," a new and unfinished tune "Constellations" and debut album highlight "Traditions" (the last track featured a vocal cameo from very cool original Hush Now bassist Mike DiMinno). In lieu of further discussion we offer this link to a Flickr slideshow of snapshots we took during the set. The Hush Now's next gig is May 1 at TT's, as part of a fine evening curated by Bradley's Almanac.

>> If you read yesterday's feature about Lubec and were intrigued by the idea of the band having a more established, sonically similar scene peer in Cinemasophia, you are not alone. We spent a fair amount of time Monday night listening to the tracks at the latter act's MySpace outpost and we like what we heard. Cinemasophia is a five-year-old quintet. Unlike Lubec, the act has a couple releases under its collective belt, and Cinemasophia will release a long-labored-on (the band was mid-way through recording it 13 months ago) new collection, Fits & Cycles, April 7 on Little Black Cloud. Fits & Cycles was recorded by Richmond engineering mainstay John Morand at Sound Of Music and mastered by Alan Douches at West West Side. Cinemasophia intends to digitally reissue its two prior full-length efforts, Dialectic and Whole Ghosts, sometime in 2009. Currently floating about is a tour-only EP with some of the new material already on it (the track listing is posted at the Little Black Cloud MySpace wigwam right here, as is a stream of the new track "Detailed Night" -- stick around and listen to the tremelo-tastic beauty by Ringfinger, "Four Misused Letters"). Tour? Why yes, Cinemasophia have a handful of dates booked over the next two months, including a couple at the end of this week in New York. We're posting all of the band's dates below some free downloads we found at Last.FM. We particularly dig "Humming & Entropy," which explodes after about ninety seconds into a big crescendo of distorted guitar, and generally sounds a fair amount like Lorelei. Dig it.

Cinemasophia -- "Humming & Entropy" -- Dialectic
Cinemasophia -- "Buried In Blooms" -- Whole Ghosts
[right click and save as]
[buy the Cinemasophia CD EP from Little Black Cloud here]

02/19 -- The Cake Shop -- New York, NY
02/20 -- Secret Show in Brooklyn -- Brooklyn, NY
02/22 -- The Reservoir -- Chapel Hill, NC
03/26 -- Johnny Brenda’s -- Philadephia, PA
03/27 -- The Czar -- Richmond, VA

>> Superman Revenge Squad's second full-length will be recorded live next month during an appearance in April and be titled We're Here For Duration, We Hope if all goes as planned. Squad mastermind Ben Parker also reports here that he intends to begin playing with a drummer and cellist, which conjures some interesting, perhaps even exciting, possibilities. Superman Revenge Squad's This Is My Own Personal Way Of Dealing With It All was one of our favorite records of 2008. We interviewed Parker here in October.

February 16, 2009

Show Us Yours #13: Lubec

Lubec in their practice space
It is no secret we love the band Lilys, so we generally sit up and take notice when we get an email from a band that leads off with something like "we love Lilys." Which is basically what Richmond, VA-based shoegaze/psych-pop quintet Lubec did, and so here we are today to share with you their excellent de facto single "Gang Knife Battles." We like to feature new and upcoming bands at :: clicky clicky ::, but we think Lubec may be one of the newest, as it hasn't yet released anything. But they will apparently issue sometime this year a self-titled EP that was recently recorded with John Morand (Sparklehorse, September 67, Labradford) at Sound Of Music in Richmond. What else do we know? Certain of the members of Lubec used to be in the defunct act Tallest Highest. That's about it. As we really feel like this band is on to something, we touched base with Lubec's guitarist/singer Eddie Charlton and drummer/singer Brandon Martin to get a read on Lubec, its native Richmond and its practice space.

CC: Why did you choose/why do you use this space?

EC: Basically, [because] Christians are nice folk. In Williamsburg (where we practice), spaces are next to impossible to find. Eddie had a connection through a previous band to the Baptist Student’s Union (a seven-degrees-of-separation-type deal). Kids live there and everything, but they’ve been oh-so generous in letting us use their large common room with the PA system.

CC: Explain how an idiosyncracy or quirk of this space or a former practice space has affected a song (or even your overall sound).

EC: We don’t say fuck in our songs anymore because we’re afraid of being baptized.

CC: You walk into your space. What's the first thing you smell? Why?

EC: The place smells like an office... because it kind of is. I mean, we miss the beer/piss/vomit/gasoline smell of typical practice spaces, but Christians have a cleaning service, and it ain’t bad.

CC: We were surprised to learn about Lubec, particularly that you embrace the shoegaze sounds of one of our favorite bands (Lilys). Without making any enemies, can you give us an overview of the indie rock scene in Richmond right now (ahhh, what the hell, make an enemy or two)? The only thing we know about the scene is Avail and Carbon Leaf, so we've always assumed that all bands in Richmond sound like Avail or Carbon Leaf. Are there a lot of bands into the shoegaze thing and heavy guitar pop sounds, or is Lubec more the exception than the rule?

EC: Ah... you overlooked possibly Richmond's greatest musical export: GWAR. Plus, don't forget Lamb of God! But seriously, Richmond is a strange town, musically speaking. Hardcore music is huge, and there are lots of small venues that cater to that scene. But Richmond does have some great guitar pop bands. There is a band out of Richmond called Cinemasophia that we are friendly with that has a bona fide shoegaze/math rock thing going on. Prabir and The Substitutes seem to dig that sound as well, we’d like to play with them. Richmond's indie rock problem is an overall lack of cohesion. There is almost too much diversity. The bands that share certain sonic similarities just don't stick together. To be honest, we’re considering moving to another city sometime in the summer.

CC: What do the next six months look like for Lubec?

EC: We have finally gotten everything together to record a full-length album this spring in our own studio (oh no...). We really just want to play as many shows in the area as possible and hopefully organize an East Coast tour in May/June. We're writing a lot of new songs, and we're all just really excited to be playing with each other. We're just having a blast working out group harmonies and screwing with all the cool sounds. It's nice to have it all finally come together!

Lubec -- "Gang Knife Battles" -- Lubec EP
[right click and save as]
[EP forthcoming]

Lubec: Internets | MySpace | YouTube | Flickr

Previous Show Us Yours episodes:
Shapes And Sizes | Dirty On Purpose | Relay | Mobius Band | Frightened Rabbit | Assembly Now | Meneguar | Okay Paddy | Charmparticles | Calories | Sun Airway | It Hugs Back

February 11, 2009

Today's Hotness: Algernon Cadwallader, Bill Janovitz

>> Be Happy Records has reissued the debut "demo" 7" from Philly-based emo superlatives Algernon Cadwallader, and so we are finally initiating coverage of the act with an emphatic "buy" rating. A 2008 re-pressing of the release, originally issued in 2006, sold out briskly. The disc includes four tracks, "Second Rate Machines," "Breath Wish," "Look Down..." and "Sailor Set Sell." Those unfamiliar with the act(which in the excellent video clip above is a four-piece, but at its MySpace lists itself as a trio?) will be surprised to learn it sounds very convincingly like the fabled Kinsella-led second-wave emo goliath Cap'n Jazz. Which is a long way of saying that Algernon Cadwallader is awesome. Be Happy also sells a full-length from the band titled Some Kind Of Cadwallader, which sold out of its initial April 2008 pressing of 1,096 units (uh, random) and is now available via a second tranche of 1,100 made available last August. A 7" for "Hot Green" is expected soon, although not so soon that you can pre-order it anywhere. That piece of vinyl will be packaged with a CD of the tracks and other unspecified "extras." Who doesn't love extras? Anyhoo, the band makes a return to live playing later this month; Algernon Cadwallader had been sidelined since early November, when drummer Tank broke his ankle 12 days into what was to have been a nine-week U.S. tour. Check out the awesome clip of the band playing "Serial Killer Status" in Amherst, Mass. last June. We've posted the confirmed forthcoming dates below. We're actually hoping to get the band on-board for a Show Us Yours feature, but so far every time we've tried to message them via MySpace News Corp.'s awesome web site blocks my message because it considers it Spam. Awesome web site you got there, Rupert...

02/21 -- Lingerie Room -- Harrisburg, PA
03/11 -- Danger Danger -- Philadelphia, PA
03/14 -- Stomping Grounds -- Lancaster, PA

>> If you have yet to catch on to what Bill Janovitz -- who you may know better as the guitarist and singer in Buffalo Tom or the fronter of Crown Victoria -- is up to, it is time to seize the day. Mr. Janovitz has been posting at his blog a dazzling selection of acoustic covers over the last few months as part of his series Cover Of The Week. If anything the cuts are amazing because he has selected some of our favorite songs, including The Replacements' "Little Mascara," Palace Music's "Agnes, Queen Of Sorrow," Tom Waits' "Johnsburg, Ill." and, most recently, The Clash's "Straight To Hell." Get thee to this link and start following along or RSSing or whatever it is the kids do these days. We recall listening to a pre-release version of "Agnes, Queen Of Sorrow" in our dog Matt's mother's driveway in Amherst, Mass. when we were still in college together, and the song has been a favorite since Oldham uttered that first line. Janovitz most certainly does the song justice, so we're posting it below. Janovitz has a residency at Toad in Cambridge, Mass. every Saturday night of this month, and we're holding out hope that we'll actually make it to one. All those dates are in our sidebar, which in case you haven't noticed has had a little something called Clicky Clicky Club Picks in it since the beginning of the year.

Bill Janovitz -- "Agnes, Queen Of Sorrow" -- Cover Of The Week
[right click and save as]
[buy Buffalo Tom records from Newbury Comics here]
[buy Bill Janovitz and Crown Victoria records from Newbury Comics here]
[buy Palace Brothers records from Newbury Comics here]

>> We can report that one additional 2009 vinyl release alluded to by Austin, Texas-based indie juggernauts Ringo Deathstarr last week will be issued by UK-based SVC Records; it remains unclear whether there will be others. SVC, which originally issued the band's exceptional 2007 self-titled EP, will offer this spring or summer a two-song 7" from The Deathstarr. The band is said to have plans to finish recording the tracks sometime soon. Notably, the single will be SVC's first vinyl release. The label expects to offer records from Sky Drops and The Vandelles prior to the single hitting racks. As we reported here last week, Maryland-based indie label Fan Death will reissue (and issue on vinyl for the very first time) Ringo Deathstarr's excellent Ringo Deathstarr EP as a hot pink 12" in a limited edition of 500.

February 10, 2009

Back To Now: The Hush Now Interview With Noel Kelly

The Hush Now
For a band whose history notably features a major car accident and a flood, guitarist and singer Noel Kelly's The Hush Now certainly seems to operate as agent of Fate's whimsy. Which is why we were surprised when we checked in with Mr. Kelly recently ahead of Thursday's record release party for the Boston-based quintet's well-received, self-titled 2008 debut. Surprised because Kelly talks of a five-year plan and of having songs ready for a third record, despite the fact that as of this writing he had not finished a second that was begun last summer prior to the release of The Hush Now. Kelly -- whose music recalls '90s indie pop stars Poole and Sire-signed stand-outs The Ocean Blue -- plans to complete tracking for album 2 this weekend, and speaks with striking confidence about making things work on his own terms with a new band content to ignore the music industry ladder historically seen as the best way up.
CC: We met last summer and you come across as a mellow but passionate guy. That said, there are a lot of things about The Hush Now that are kind of topsy-turvy. You began recording your second record last summer months before you formally released your first. Before finishing your second record, you put together a different line-up of the band. Has anything about The Hush Now gone the way you planned?

NK: Actually, everything is going much better than planned, if you can believe that. I know it probably doesn’t look that way from the outside, but there is a pretty methodical approach behind what probably looks like relative chaos. Other than the scramble with line-up changes (BTW, the new line-up is super -- great people, great songwriters, great musicians – it's always good to know you're the weakest in the room), I think things are really flowing well. I'll attempt to explain though why things seem a bit out of order compared to the usual "band forms, band plays, band records, band tours" paradigm.

I wrote some tunes while living in Portland, OR but I wasn't sure how my sound might translate. I wanted to put together an album and see if there was any real promise there. Although it's not exactly cheap to record these days, it's not entirely impossible. There I was 2 years ago living in a basement (I'm a bit of a recluse), with no money left and I thought, "I don’t think anybody else is going to pay to make this album." So off I went to Boston to find a job that could pay for the album.

The first line-up was a miracle. Moving to a new city and finding musicians who are interested in playing somebody else's music is a really difficult task, especially if you're not quite the social butterfly. Barry, Mike and Kurt just got it. And having Dave Newton, who I was already comfortable with, produce the album just brought everything together. So we knocked out the first album in LA and Joshua Tree. It was like a vacation for me. Good times.

It was at this point (and with Dave's encouragement) I decided to push the album out to the world. I wanted to make sure the effort was more than a vanity project though. After years in [my old band] Cerulean and scratching my head over why we were never able to sustain a higher level of interest, I really backed up and tried to deconstruct not only the efforts of a band trying to gain exposure, but also what I really wanted as a musician and as an artist. In the end, I decided I really just want people to hear the music and if so inspired, maybe come to a show. I had/have no delusions of grandeur with expectations of signing a label deal.

I figured the best alternative was to just invest in myself and the band. So I drew up a 3-5 year plan and pretty much started dumping all my energy and income into The Hush Now. Understanding some of the shortcomings of Cerulean, I decided it was best to always have an album ready to be released. I never planned for The Hush Now's success to be tied to one single album, but rather a succession of albums that gained more and more momentum. So, six months after we finished the first album, I had a new batch of songs ready and we jumped back in the studio. I'm finishing tracking on album 2 this weekend and planning to record album 3 this summer. If all I ever accomplish with any of this is to create some pretty cool music that some folks dig, then I'll consider that success. Anything else is just icing on the cupcake, as they say.

CC: Let's talk about the new line-up. Who do you have doing what in this iteration of the band? Where did you dig them up? Which was the hardest slot to fill?

NK: First, let me say that both Kurt Schneider [who plays keys with Boston indie geniuses This Car Up. -- Ed.] and Mike DiMinno were invaluable in creating the sound on the first two records. Unfortunately, things didn't work out for different reasons –- nothing personal. We're still great friends. That being said, the new line-up is soooo good. I'm really lucky. Everybody has a unique ear and all are stellar musicians. We have a soft spot for similar bands and understand the idea of making music that gets people moving.

John Charpentier I found on Craig's List. He’s a huge Elliot Smith fan and a great guitarist/songwriter. Mike Wittrien responded to an ad as well. Usually finding a bass player is always the most difficult thing in the world. Not only did I find one, but Mike is out of this world. He is a musician’s musician. Barry brought John Millar into the fold on keys. John just fits in really nicely. He's also the youngin' in the band at 22 years old. There were no tryouts or auditions. I just met the guys for drinks and if we hit it off, they were in. I just got lucky that they all turned out to be phenomenal. The spot that worried me the most though, was filling the drummer slot. Barry had originally just come on board for the albums only, but when he decided to join the band full time, it was a huge weight lifted. He really is that fucking good. You can build something around a good drummer. Otherwise, you’re fucked. Now, I just don't want to let these guys down.

Would you say the new line-up has made the material on the self-titled record its own, or is the new Hush Now such a fresh commodity that it is just hoping to just nail the material as it is on the record at the record release show?

With new players, there's always going to be interpretations of the music. It's a fine line. On one hand you want them to recreate the album, but not to an extent where their playing becomes stale. It's always better if a musician makes the music their own in some way so they are playing rather than executing. It's been so long since I've looked at the songs from the first album that I even had to learn the music myself with the band. But I think we're getting there. We're going to be good.

CC: The self-titled record made a respectable showing on the CMJ Top 200, which was quite a feat for a band that at that point, well, kind of didn't exist, am I right? What can you tell us about any plans to get out and tour the record to try to capitalize on the good showing at radio?

NK: Yeah, I was really happy with how well the debut did. We charted in the top 100 for weeks and even started getting spins from commercial radio. The coolest is that Steve Lamacq from BBC 6 is playing us. What an honor, ya know? And you're right, we didn't exist. But that's what's so great about the new media outlets today. If you put together a quality product and get it out there, there's always the chance somebody will pick up on it. The key I'm finding is patience followed quickly by persistence... and getting a great team of folks involved that believe in the music and are self-starters. I think some folks get worried about fucking up or saying or doing the wrong thing. Who gives a shit, really? I always look at problems as something to solve. I work with engineers during the day and they approach problems the complete opposite way. They point out every reason why you can’t do something. That mindset is fucking paralyzing and it drives me insane. Really, what's the worst thing that's going to happen... all lessons learned. Personally, I thrive on scars, because I tend to fuck up quite a bit, but it keeps me energized. As long as you're honest, people will forgive mistakes.

Anyway, off the soapbox... We’re planning shows on the east coast for the spring as well as a couple of tours of England and Scotland (anybody know of cheap fares out there?). Because we all have day gigs, it makes it difficult to take off for months on end right now... but I'm positive that day will come. I'd love to get the guys over to play some west coast shows as well. And of course, we'd love to play the CMJ festival and SXSW next year. Hopefully the new album will create enough buzz to make those a reality.

CC: Can we expect to hear any songs from the second album Thursday night? And what can you tell us about a release date or label for that set?

NK: Actually, you'll get to hear a song from the third album. How's that for being fucked up and out of order? It's a great song though that the new line-up had a hand in creating, so we're all really excited about it. It's an exciting indicator of where the music will grow. The new album will be released to radio this coming October with a single dropping in June/July. I have my brother singing opera, my sister on flute and clarinet and brother-in-law on trumpet. I'm pretty excited how the album is coming together. We're going to offer the album for free download again. I think musicians/bands have to start thinking of approaching the "music business" (whatever that is) differently these days. People are going to get the album free anyway, why fight it? And fuck it, I'm not making the music for me to listen to alone. My father made a living supporting a family of six playing gigs. It wasn't a lavish lifestyle, but he did what he loved and we turned out OK. Sure, it wasn't always glamorous for him, but let me tell you, there's nothing like watching your father's Irish band play Michael Jackson's "Beat It." I wish I had that on tape.
The Hush Now plays T.T. The Bear's in Cambridge, Mass. Thursday night. Tonight the quintet plays a live radio session for Pipeline! on MIT's 88.1 WMBR-FM.

The Hush Now -- "Bedtime Stories" -- The Hush Now
The Hush Now -- "Ashes" -- The Hush Now
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The Hush Now: Internet | MySpace | YouTube | Flickr

February 9, 2009

Show Us Yours #12: It Hugs Back

It Hugs Back, The Record Room
We only recently turned on to Kent, England-based indie rock foursome It Hugs Back, after hearing their excellent single "Work Day" on MIT's WMBR radio station late in the fall. The combo's proper full-length debut Inside Your Guitar will be released April 6 in the UK (April 7 in the U.S.) on the esteemed 4AD label, although as of last week It Hugs Back had inventory on-hand and was apparently selling the disc at shows. After picking up the band's singles compilation The Record Room: First Four Singles at EMusic we quickly became big fans, so we were pleased when It Hugs Back singer and guitarist Matthew Simms agreed to show us around The Record Room, the garage space in which the quartet both writes and records and whose name became the title to the singles collection.

CC: Why do you use this space?

MS: This is in my garage... it's perfect. It's always available and I have the shortest commute to work imaginable -- well, when we're recording or rehearsing anyway.

CC: Explain how an idiosyncracy or quirk of this space or a former practice space has affected a song, or even your overall sound.

MS: Being pretty small for all four of us, we have slowly worked out over time how we all best fit in... and still all able to hear everything. We have recorded everything we've released so far in this one room, so I think it has affected every recording... it definitely has a sound!

CC: You walk into your space. What's the first thing you smell? Why?

MS: On a good day... maybe the scent of nice fresh coffee... on a bad day... the not-so-fresh smell of hard work!

CC: Each of your now five singles has a bit of a different flavor: "Other Cars Go," for example, is droney, understated and in places discordant, while the newest one, "Work Day," has a beautiful and muted, '70s AM pop non-attack. You've presumably finished your forthcoming full-length Inside Your Guitar. Does it hang together as a complete, album-length work, or would you say the collection is as varied as your singles have been to date?

MS: The idea was definitely to make the singles as varied as possible and take advantage of the fact that it's only two songs that have to sit well together... while still aiming to sound like us! So for the album we wanted to do the opposite, and take advantage of putting together ten or so songs that run from start to end... We did have a tough time at first working it into a shape that was a coherent listen from start to end rather than a group of singles, especially trying to include all the band's favorites, but we got there in the end!

CC: What do the next six months look like for your band?

MS: The next six months revolve around the record release in April... touring and more touring... everywhere and anywhere!

It Hugs Back -- "Saving" -- The Record Room: The First Four Singles
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[buy It Hugs Back music from EMusic right here]

It Hugs Back: Internerds | MySpace | YouTube | Flickr

Previous Show Us Yours episodes:
Shapes And Sizes | Dirty On Purpose | Relay | Mobius Band | Frightened Rabbit | Assembly Now | Meneguar | Okay Paddy | Charmparticles | Calories | Sun Airway

February 6, 2009

Free-Range Video: It Hugs Back, Johnny Foreigner

>> Pitchfork today got the exclusive on the new video from It Hugs Back for the track "Now & Again." The song, from the Kent, England-based quartet's forthcoming full length Inside Your Guitar, is dense and beautiful like early Stereolab. The video itself is styled like many of the best early MTV clips (perhaps because there was a similar budget?) and features the band rocking out in a warehouse as Tetris-ish wooden blocks do their own peculiar variety of bumping and grinding. We'll be featuring It Hugs Back Monday in the next installment of our Show Us Yours feature. Inside Your Guitar, as we've reported several times, will be released by 4AD April 7.

>> Readers may recall we were very excited to go see Johnny Foreigner play at the annual CMJ music "conference" last fall. And then you may recall we got horribly ill and had to stay in Boston. Or maybe you won't. Anyway, that was no fun. But fortunately for us, when the Birmingham, England-based noise pop titans dropped in to record their radio session with New York-based WNYC someone thought to roll some video tape. The truth is the video quality of the clips we're about to link to is not that great. But the audio is very good, and there is a bit of a surprise as well, in the form of a new tranced-out arrangement for the old Johnny Foreigner single "Sofa Core." The band's most recent single (only released digitally, as it turns out) "DJs Get Doubts" gets a stirring reading, and the band makes an attempt at a refined take on "Salt, Peppa and Spinderella," although the song is much too boisterous to be held back. But let's get to the video: there is no embedding option, so click the hyperlinks to watch "DJs Get Doubts," "Salt, Peppa and Spinderella" or "Sofa Core."

February 4, 2009

Today's Hotness: Ringo Deathstarr, The Answering Machine

Ringo Deathstarr
>> Austin-based shoegaze provocateurs Ringo Deathstarr will take to the road this spring for a strand of East Coast dates leading up to an appearance at the annual South By Southwest music confab in its home town. What's more, the quartet's stunning self-titled EP from 2007 (originally released by SVC Records) will be reissued as a hot pink vinyl 12" in an edition of 500 [doh! not 5000 as we wrote originally! super limited! buy! buy! buy!] by Maryland-based Fan Death Records in March. In a MySpace bulletin Ringo Deathstarr promises additional vinyl releases in 2009, although it offered no further details. It is unclear whether the planned releases would also be issued on Fan Death; the label has or will also put out releases by Philly's Clockclean er, Drunkdriver and The Lampshades. The Deathstarr has no Boston date in its itinerary as of yet, but as we are cursed and always end up sick in bed when the band comes through town, perhaps it is for the best. But you should mark your calendars. We'll use any excuse to post this awesome demo of "Your Town" the band was giving away a couple years ago (just grok our archives for proof), so here it is.

Ringo Deathstarr -- "Your Town (Demo)"
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[buy Ringo Deathstarr records from the SVC right here]

02/25 -- Emo’s -- Austin, TX
03/06 -- Bar-None -- Virginia Beach, VA
03/07 -- WMUC Radio Session -- College Park, MD
03/09 -- Khyber -- Philadelphia, PA
03/10 -- Mojo 13 -- Wilmington, DE
03/11 -- The Cakeshop -- New York, NY
03/12 -- Death By Audio -- Brooklyn, NY
03/13 -- Basement Speakeasy -- Arlington, VA
03/14 -- Drunken Unicorn -- Atlanta, GA
03/16 -- The Vortex -- Beaumont, TX
03/28 -- Westheimer Block Party -- Houston, TX

>> RockSellout -- which we should point out beat us to press on the Ringo Deathstarr item by a long shot, due to a big work deadline we were saddled with recently -- was lucky enough to come into possession of what appears to be the cracking lead track to the hotly anticipated and dynamite debut full-length from Manchester, England indie pop savants The Answering Machine. The quartet intends to release Another City, Another Sorry on Heist Or Hit Records in May, and the title track is a brash and confident cut that illustrates well the substantial growth the band has sustained. Hit this link and download it -- you will thank us. The first single from Another City, Another Sorry is "Cliffer" and it will street in the U.K. March 9.

February 2, 2009

Show Us Yours #11: Sun Airway

Sun Airway by Mike Fleming [2][Photo Credit: Mike Fleming][Alt Photo 1; Alt. Photo 2] We were as surprised as the next guy when Philebrity broke the news in October that The A-Sides were officially kaput and in its place had blossomed the relatively mysterious electro/psych-pop duo Sun Airway. The act is comprised of former A-Sides singer and guitarist Jon Barthmus and former A-Sides drummer Patrick Marsceill, and we've heard little from the duo since that initial announcement. So we figured it was high time to check in with Sun Airway and see what is going on via our recently resuscitated Show Us Yours series. Among other things, we learned that the guys plan to release a free EP to the Internet sometime in the relatively near future and a full length this summer; that their practice space is more aptly described as a recording space; and that the space is brilliantly monikered. So with our thanks to Mr. Barthmus for playing along, here is Sun Airway in Show Us Yours #11.

Why did you choose this space?

We didn't particularly choose this space... We were essentially kicked out of our last space because the building was trying to attract a more "normal" clientele, and of course these new tenants didn't want live music below them at all hours. There was something about theater companies complaining or something, but there was definitely porn going on somewhere in the building, along with some semi-sweatshops and other art studios. Anyway, the owners of that building had just bought up another random abandoned factory in an even more remote and desolate part of town so they offered us our pick of the new rooms, and then they built it up for us and put power in. There are still very few tenants which is weird because the building is HUGE but our space is amazing and surprisingly conducive to musical activities. Part of our space almost looked like a studio already with a window into what could be a control room. But we just have one band on each side. We currently share the space with Brown Recluse Sings, who are A) a good band and B) good roomies.

Explain how an idiosyncracy or quirk of this space or a former practice space has affected a song (or even your overall sound).

When we moved into the space, we were still The A-Sides and we were just all standing in a big circle trying to practice in the least noisy spot. But once that fizzled and Sun Airway started, we don't really practice. We just record all the time, so we shifted the space into a recording studio. We don't know what we're doing so we built a drum tent, which is now sort of a vocal tent and we kind of just move stuff around and set stuff up arbitrarily and record until we like what comes out. Also, at the moment it is oppressively cold in there so we're kind of just doing quick takes and going with it because it's too cold to harp on it. I guess that could be how the space is currently affecting the music! Too cold to labor over anything!

You walk into your space. What's the first thing you smell? Why?

You walk into our space. You smell mostly construction-type smells. Outside of our door almost everything is unfinished and there's crazy construction dust everywhere. Even though we painted our whole space to make it insanely awesome and even varnished our painted-black floor, the dust seems to get in. On a side note, walking up to our door you see a beautiful image of Phil Collins along with the name Sususudio Studios, Ltd. since that's what we named the place. And that my friends, smells like brilliance.

Getting what ended up being the final A-Sides record out into the world appeared to be a major hurdle for the band, but the relationship with Vagrant seemed like a very positive development. Will Sun Airway be able to benefit from that relationship with Vagrant in any way, assuming it ended up being positive for you guys as artists and touring musicians? When can we expect to hear a full-length from you guys anyway?

I can't say that the relationship between Vagrant and The A-Sides was really positive. I'm extremely grateful that they came along and paid for the record, etc. But something just seemed to be lacking with everything that happened since then. Once a label like that starts to see that they're not making their money back they become impossible to even get a hold of. I think they used up all their effort right away and then gave up. There will be no Vagrant involvement in anything we do moving forward. At the very least though, they did get Silver Storms decent distribution and they probably helped a little bit in getting us on the road. Although our booking agent even said we'd be better off without them, so take that as you will. As far as a full-length from Sun Airway, that should see the light of day hopefully by the summertime. First we're doing a 5-song free downloadable EP which is almost done. Just some more mixing to do. Then we'll just continue recording until we have enough songs for a full length. The songs have all been written, most quite a while ago, but since we're producing it ourselves it's much more of a process. It's not a matter of writing and practicing songs, it's a matter of building a song up until we're satisfied with the results, which is different for us. We're used to going into a studio and hoping for the best.

What do the next six months look like for Sun Airway?

The next sixth months for us will just be a lot of recording and once we have enough material to play a show, we'll have to figure out how the hell we're going to pull any of it off live. Since most of what we're doing is sample-based and electronic beat heavy, we really have no idea how this is all gonna work. But we'll try!

Sun Airway -- "Waiting On You"
The A-Sides -- "Here Or There" -- Hello, Hello
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[buy A-Sides records from Newbury Comics right here]

Sun Airway: Internerds | MySpace | YouTube | Flickr

Previous Show Us Yours episodes:
Shapes And Sizes | Dirty On Purpose | Relay
Mobius Band | Frightened Rabbit | Assembly Now
Meneguar | Okay Paddy | Charmparticles | Calories