November 30, 2009

Playlist: Indie Rock vs. Baby Wakefulness, Vol. 1

This is currently the go-to soundtrack to our efforts to get our baby girl to go to sleep and stay asleep. A sad by-product is the fact that we are starting to get sick of a lot of these songs, some of which have been favorites forever and ever (we first got The Glove record around 1989 or 1990, for example). That said, we still find almost all of these to this day to be very moving in their way whenever we stop and sit and listen to them go by on the IPod docked in the nursery. The Logh and Spent tracks in particular are sublime and evocative. We've started piecing together a second mix for nighttime in the nursery. But for now, this is on heavy rotation.

1. The Glove -- "A Blues In Drag" -- Blue Sunshine [AmazonMP3]
2. Sam Prekop -- "A Cloud To The Back" -- Sam Prekop [Emusic]
3. The For Carnation -- "On The Swing" -- Marshmallows EP/Promised Works [Emusic]
4. Esquivel -- "Snowfall" -- More Of Other Worlds, Other Sounds [AmazonMP3]
5. Haywood -- "Plow" -- We Are Amateurs, You And I [Emusic]
6. Logh -- "The Big Sleep" -- A Sunset Panorama [Emusic]
7. Mogwai -- "Christmas Song" -- Mogwai EP+6 [AmazonMP3]
8. Jon Brion -- "Spotless Mind" -- Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind [AmazonMP3]
9. Jon Brion -- "Phone Call" -- Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind [AmazonMP3]
10. Jon Brion -- "Bookstore" -- Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind [AmazonMP3]
11. Archer Prewitt -- "Along The Coast" -- Gerroa Songs [Emusic]
12. Drop Nineteens -- "My Aquarium" -- Delaware [AmazonMP3]
13. Spent -- "Brighter Than Day" -- Songs Of Drinking And Rebellion [Emusic]
14. September 67 -- "Bring Back The Weight" -- Lucky Shoe [Emusic]
15. Lilys -- "Kodiak (Alternate)" -- Send In The Subs [Unreleased/MP3]
16. Velocity Girl -- "Wake Up, I'm Leaving" -- Simpatico! [AmazonMP3]

November 26, 2009

Review: Varsity Drag | Night Owls [MP3]

It neither sounds like it was recorded in a metal shipping container, nor does Night Owls completely hew to the straight pop-punk for which Varsity Drag fronter Ben Deily has long been known. But beyond the fully actualized production and more thoughtful compositions, fans of Mr. Deily's music will recognize a more subtle difference between the 2006 set For Crying Out Loud and his reconfigured Cambridge, Mass.-based trio's new collection. Simply put, For Crying Out Loud was an "if" record, but Night Owls is a "then" record. The former's biggest tune "Summertime" commences with the line "if you'd be mine, I'd find the time..." That record's opening anthem "Skinny Ties" is entirely predicated on supposition: "I'd give up all of my skinny ties, give up cheese omelets and curly fries..." Where Deily does not yearn on For Crying Out Loud ("the place just ain't the same without Billy Ruane..."), he cracks wise, sending up the last decade with "1999." Throughout Deily maintains a wish or a laugh's distance, stays to the left side of the comma.

Night Owls, by contrast, opens with the lyric "And so the years went crashing by..." and then examines various crashes one after another. And with that declaration Deily steps over the comma into the hindsight of unenumerated mornings after (or, more likely for a night owl, afternoons after) and confronts his emotions straight on. Calling Varsity Drag's new record introspective doesn't go far enough to describe some of the psychic scab-ripping herein. While Deily doesn't name names or proffer genesis stories, the meaning of lyrics including "I let you down to save myself... like an animal" is not cloudy. That said, it isn't all fear and (self-)loathing: the title track describes the phosphorescent glow of a new relationship with sentiments so positive they approach a giddy serenity. What does this difference between Deily's "if" and "then" worlds signify? Maturity? Personal peace? We'll leave that for individual listeners to ponder.

As we stated supra, the differences between the aforementioned sets are not limited to more intense lyrical themes. On Night Owls Mr. Deily -- now abetted by Lisa Marie Deily on bass guitar and Joshua Pickering detonating the cans -- reveals musical ambitions that fans were likely unaware that the punk statesman harbored. Old timers will recall Deily's affecting acoustic ballad "Postcard" from the latter days of Lemonheads Mach 1 (and featured on last summer's live release from Varsity Drag). On Night Owls Deily offers "Postscript," a Bacharach-esque and lush guy-piano-strings number. It is apparent that Mr. Deily has been thinking about making these songs nearly as long as he has been feeling them, and while he selected former Lemonheads producer Tom Hamilton to mind the faders and the knobs, Night Owls is a significant sonic step forward for Deily. The smart chord and key changes, keen production details and more orchestrated compositions make that plain. The vocals buried in the background of "Animal" are genius (particularly at the line "I know I failed my darling"), the layered acoustic and electric guitars of "Richard's Gone" deliver a completely satisfying, crystalline crunch, the aggressive attack of "In This World" (whose guitars recall Rush's "Fly By Night" in brief moments) entirely gratifying. Varsity Drag recently returned from two weeks in another country (namely the U.K.) and -- although there are no pending live dates currently listed at the band's MySpace dojo -- the trio is presumably now plotting the promotion of Night Owls to fans in the States.

Varsity Drag -- "Animal" -- Night Owls
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[buy Night Owls from the band right here]

Varsity Drag: Internerds | Bandcamp | YouTube | Flickr

Previous Varsity Drag Coverage:
Be Prepared: Varsity Drag | Night Owls | Date TBD
And Then This Happened: Varsity Drag | Middle East Rock Club | 8/7/09
Remarks: Varsity Drag, Grownup Noise, Winterpills
Review: Varsity Drag | Rock and Roll Is Such A Hassle: Live in Europe
Varsity Drag @ Cantab Lounge, March 2009
Varsity Drag @ O'Brien's, August 2008
Varsity Drag @ Cantab Lounge, February 2008
Free Range Music: Varsity Drag, May 2006

November 23, 2009

That Was The Show That Was: Sonic Youth, The Feelies | Wilbur

[PHOTO CREDIT: Michael Piantigini | We welcome back to these digital pages longtime friend and occasional contributor Jay Kumar, who you may recall hosts the podcast Completely Conspicuous. -- Ed.]

The last time I saw Sonic Youth was way back in October 1995, when the band was already considered the elder statespeople of alt rock/punk/grunge/whatever. I was supposed to see them play at Avalon (now doing business as House of Blues) on Lansdowne Street in Boston, but the surprise success of their single “The Diamond Sea” caused the promoter to move the show to the larger Orpheum Theatre. In my late 20s at the time, I was struck by how many really young kids (i.e., pre-teens) were there, drawn by the radio edit of the aforementioned 19-minute song.

The audience at Sunday night’s SY near-sellout show with The Feelies at the Wilbur Theater had a decidedly different look: a mix of aging hipsters, college kids and the occasional pre-teen. And while the band is decidedly older -— all five members are 47 or older -— they rock as hard as they ever have.

Touring behind The Eternal, the band’s first release on Matador, SY played a 90-minute set that included pretty much everything from that album. The new material was strong, with “Anti-Orgasm” a standout with its cascading waves of noise. In addition, the band sprinkled in some classics from the 1980s: “Tom Violence” and “Shadow of a Doubt” from Evol, “Stereo Sanctity” from Sister, “Cross the Breeze” and “The Sprawl” from Daydream Nation and the scorching show closer, “Death Valley ’69” from Bad Moon Rising. Interestingly, the band didn’t play any material off its nine major-label albums. For those folks disappointed that they didn’t get to hear “Kool Thing” or “100%,” there’s always YouTube.

Guitarists Thurston Moore and Lee Ranaldo were in peak form, alternately bashing out violent riffs and coaxing squalls of feedback from their guitars. Moore especially was animated, jumping around and looking like he was going to jump into the crowd at times while playing at the edge of the stage. Pavement’s Mark Ibold has taken over bass duties, which freed up Kim Gordon to play rhythm guitar or just focus on vocals, although she still played bass on some songs. Drummer Steve Shelley was impressive, whether he was hammering away on the harder stuff or creating a psychedelic mood on songs like “Shadow of a Doubt.” Perhaps in a nod to the sheer volume of songs the band has written, a roadie brought out lyric sheets that were taped to the stage for Moore, Ranaldo and Gordon for the older material.

Openers The Feelies drew some of the older audience members, similar to its reunion show at the Roxy in October 2008. Although much of the younger crowd at the Wilbur were unfamiliar with the band, which only has four albums and hasn’t released one since 1991, the older fans were shouting encouragement throughout the 50-minute set.

Singer-guitarist Glenn Mercer said few words between songs but bounced frenetically around the stage as he played his similarly winding solos. Thanks to a muddy sound mix, however, Mercer’s already subdued vocals were barely audible. Rhythm guitarist Bill Million (who one audience member rightly noted bears a striking resemblance to talk show host Jerry Springer) kept the jangly chords going and provided occasional backing vocals along with bassist Brenda Sauter. Stanley Demeski was a powerful presence on drums while percussionist Dave Weckerman intently played a variety of instruments including drums, tambourine, cowbell and blocks.

Highlights included “The Time is Right,” a new song the band played last October in Boston, “Too Far Gone” and the one-two punch of “Raised Eyebrows” leading into the sped-up strumfest of “Crazy Rhythms.” Hopefully, the band will release some new material soon because they’ve obviously still got the goods.

The Feelies have been playing sporadic shows in conjunction with the recent reissues of their albums Crazy Rhythms and The Good Earth. No further dates have been announced. Sonic Youth, however, were slated to play another show at the Wilbur with openers the Meat Puppets and Cold Cave.

One note about the Wilbur: What’s up with the byzantine series of checkpoints, wristbands and holding pens that the venue concertgoers undergo? There had to be 87 people staffing this event, and it just resulted in absurdly long lines for the restrooms and overall confusion. And on top of all that, they collected everyone’s ticket stubs. Weak. -- Jay Kumar

Sonic Youth: Internerds | MySpace | YouTube | Flickr
The Feelies: Internerds | MySpace | YouTube | Flickr

Previous Sonic Youth Coverage:
Today's Hotness: Sonic Youth, Jai-Alai Savant, Thrill Jockey
Industry Watchdog: Sonic Youth, UMGI, Gawker Media
YouTube Rodeo: Sonic Youth's "Incinerate"
Review: Sonic Youth | Rather Ripped

Previous Feelies Coverage:
Review: Velvets | Big Star | Feelies | Pixies
That Was The Show That Was: The Feelies At The Roxy
YouTube Rodeo: Half-Way To The Feelies And "Higher Ground"

And Then This Happened: Sonic Youth, Feelies | Wilbur | 11.22.09

Sonic Youth and the Feelies at the Wilbur Theatre, Boston, MA; 11/22/2009; Photos by Michael Piantigini

November 21, 2009

Review: Calories | Let's Pretend That We're Older EP [MP3]

OK Calories EP review go the idea of a Calories EP is sort of laughable because the brilliant Birmingham, England-based power trio's no-bullshit approach to melodic, sculpted punkwhatever already ensures that there will be no dillying or dallying among the proceedings and the band's debut full-length was 10 songs long but a blindingly paced 23 minutes short so a four-song EP could almost theoretically take you just one cigarette to listen to the whole thing, or even a negative amount of time, yeah? The title track to Let's Pretend That We're Older is an end-of-the-night beer hall anthem, well, more contemplative than that, but the point being if we were pretending we were younger this is the song that we'd dial up every night with our last dollar for the jukebox and pound our thick-bottomed mugs to the shellacked tabletop along to as the barkeep reaches behind the dusty venetians and kills the window fluorescents and props open the door with a tired and meaningfully silent getthefuckout. Paradoxically the best track on this EP is buried in the side B track 1 slot were this a vinyl release, "Expect The Language" of the four tunes here best conveys Calories' characteristic panoramic optimism and that feeling that this day is going to be your day, which the substantially darker "Let's Pretend That We're Older" lacks a bit. In sum the EP is a fine collection to tide over fans who frothed at the debut Adventuring and are chewing fingers down to wrists waiting for the threesome's next full-length, which we are told will be issued in March by Smalltown America under the title Habitations. Let's Pretend That We're Older was co-released earlier this month by the aforementioned Smalltown America and Big Scary Monsters; the thing is being sold in a limited-edition denim sheath with a badge pinned to the front, the awesomeness of which need not be expounded upon. Mysterious commenters tell us that Habitations will be preceded in the new year by a single released by Coventry-based Tough Love Records for "The Mortal Boys" b/w "Drink The Potion," the a-side of which will appear on Habitations.

Calories -- "Let's Pretend That We're Older" -- Let's Pretend That We're Older
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[buy the EP from Big Scary Monsters right here]

Calories: Internerds | MySpace | YouTube | Flickr

Previous Calories Coverage:
Be Prepared: Calories | Let's Pretend That We're Older EP | 11 Nov.
YouTube Rodeo: Calories' "Forests of Varg"
Review: Calories | Adventuring
Show Us Yours #10: Calories
Todays Hotness: Fields, Johnny Foreigner, Calories

November 18, 2009

Coming To Your Local Bandstand: Lilys' California Mini Tour

Well, they didn't take the stage for either of the Slumberland shows last weekend, but Kurt Heasley and his current cohorts (who knows who that is; the band's redesigned MySpace hacienda is cool-looking but fairly fact-deficient) will be trekking through several towns in California next week. As this is an extremely rare treat, it is a cause for some celebration. Lilys are also playing All Tomorrow's Parties Nightmare Before Christmas thing curated by My Bloody Valentine in England on 6 December, which of course is already sold out.

November 17, 2009

Footage: Lorelei Cover Lilys' "February 14th" | Slumberland 20th Anniversary

Inveterate, jet-setting shoegaze junky and friend of Clicky Clicky mgrooves flew in from the left coast for the Slumberland 20th Anniversary shows in D.C. and Brooklyn last weekend, and captured the video above of Lorelei encoring with former labelmate Lilys' kaleidoscopic debut single. It's not the entire performance (the beginning is cut off), but it is quite awesome, and we suspect that if you watch until the huge transition at 2:30 you're mind may be blown. So while our dream of Lilys performing a surprise set during the celebration did not come to pass, the seminal Slumberland act was still represented. Lorelei delivered six other tracks, according to this set list also sent along by mgrooves, including the Clicky Clicky fave "Mostly I Sleep" and the classics "Float My Bed" and "Stop What You're Doing." "February 14th" was released as Slumberland's DRYL-7 in March 1991; the single is out of print. As we told our Twitter homies recently, NYCTaper was at the show Saturday night and recorded all of the sets. Pop over to NYCTaper now for live offerings from The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart and a sorta reconstituted Henry's Dress here and here respectively.

Lilys -- "February 14th" -- "February 14th" b/w "Threw A Day"
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[buy Lorelei records from Slumberland right here]

Rock Over Boston | drivin n cryin | TT the Bear's | 11.15.2009

[Photos by Michael Piantigini]

It would be easy to go on for a thousand words about drivin n cryin (in fact, when I started this review it was starting to look like I would), because theirs has been a long and complex story since singer-sonwriter Kevn Kinney and bassist/mandolinist Tim Nielsen released the first album with the band's first lineup, 1986's Scarred But Smarter. So let's boil it down. Here's what you need to know: drivin n cryin are a part southern rock, part country rock, part folk rock, and part hard rock working class band from Atlanta, GA. They like folk music as much as they like the Stooges, and Aerosmith as much as country music.

And why not, right? That leads to glorious live shows that start with balls-out rockers like "Detroit City" from their great new album Great American Bubble Factory, and end with their sing-along country anthem "Straight To Hell" from their 1989 classic Mystery Road. That's how it went Sunday night at TT the Bear's, where drivin n cryin played a more-than-generous two hour set to a modest - but rabid - Sunday night crowd, their first in the area since they supported their self-titled last album opening for The Who's Quadrophenia redux tour stop at Great Woods in 1997.

That gave them plenty of time for a survey of the band's entire career as well as Kinney's solo career (the line between which has always been blurred). The fan favorites were all there: the hooky southern rock of "Honeysuckle Blue" and deep cut "Peacemaker" from 1989's Mystery Road; the hard rock riffs of the title track and "The Innocent" from the 1990's commercial stab at glory that was Fly Me Courageous, the working man angst of "Scarred But Smarter" (more or less the template for Kinney's songwriting) from their 1986 debut; and - of course! - the can't-do-anything-right staple "Straight To Hell." In between there were oddball covers: Nirvana's "All Apologies," sung by drummer Dave V. Johnson, the Dictators' "I Stand Tall" (which is on the new album), and the Beatles' "Why Don't We Do It In The Road;" the latter of which, bizarrely, was interpolated into "Straight To Hell." Latter-day guitarist Mac Carter beefed-up the rockin' stuff, added color to the quiet stuff, and played a particular beauty of a solo on the the non-album gospel/blues jam apparently called "Blues On Top Of Blues." All the while, Kinney was our charming host, weaving stories into the intros and breaks of songs making the whole thing feel as much like a back porch hang as rock rave-up.

While it's been a while since the band has been active beyond handfuls of shows in the southeast, it helps that they've released such a strong new album, (Whatever Happened to The) Great American Bubble Factory. The power-popping title track adding a new wrinkle to the band's sound with horns heralding over the insistent rhythm. Inspired Kinney's purchase from a dollar store a bottle of bubbles for his grand-daughter, "...Bubble Factory" is the sort of blue-collar rumination on which Kinney has long mused (as he points out, "if you can make it there, you can make it here"), and "Preapproved, Predenied" and "This Town" ask similar questions. Rockers like "Detroit City," a tribute to the likes of the Stooges and the MC5, "Get Around Kid," and "Trainwreck," along with folk rocker "Midwestern Blues," a reprise from an earlier Kinney solo album, and the strummy mandolin-flavored "Don't You Know That I Know That You Know?" help balance the record and keep things from getting too heavy.

This is a great, old-fashioned, unapologetic, rock and roll record with its heart in the right place and a drum stick on the bell of a ride cymbal at all the right times. It feels like it was always in the band's catalog.-Michael Piantigini

drivin n cryin: Internets | MySpace | YouTube | Twitter | Facebook

drivin n cryin at TT the Bear's Place, Cambridge, MA 11/15/2009:
1. Detroit City
2. Scarred But Smarter
3. (Whatever Happened to The) Great American Bubble Factory
4. With The People
5. The Innocent
6. Preapproved, Predenied
7. I Stand Tall
8. Paid In Full
9. Honeysuckle Blue
10. Let's Go Dancing
11. All Apologies
12. Peacemaker
13. Don't You Know That I Know That You Know?
14. A Good Country Mile
15. Let Me Down
16. Dirty Angels
17. Fly Me Courageous

18. Blues on Top Of Blues (?)
19. Straight To Hell/Why Don't We Do It In The Road

November 14, 2009

YouTube Rodeo: Johnny Foreigner's "All Mosely Gardens" Rehearsal

We're working on a write-up about this song for Sweeping The Nation's "Noughties By Nature" best songs of the decade thing. Yeah, surprise, surprise, we're writing about Johnny Foreigner again. This is one of our absolute favorite songs (statistically, it is our favorite song), and this very intimate rehearsal video is something we always rediscover every few months. Missing some of the spacey backing vocals and other extras from the version that most have heard. Despite failing to land this performance, the video is incredibly charming.

November 11, 2009

If We Ran The World: Slumberland Records 20th Anniversary Edition

Venerable indie pop label Slumberland Records marks its 20th anniversary with special shows in Washington, D.C. Friday night and Brooklyn Saturday night. Full details and links to tickets can be accessed right here. We recall early on in the buzz for these events discussion of secret guests or special guests or some such, but looking at those line-ups, well we think it would be hard to do better than early Slumberland stalwarts The Ropers and Lorelei, who are already slated to play. The latter band, in particular, is near and dear for us, because we think Lorelei's Asleep EP is among the greatest EPs of the '90s (don't get us started). Even so, if we ran the world, and if the artists we are about to name could of course be bent to our will, here is what you'd see. Everything listed in the line-ups linked above, plus Plus PLUS (keep in mind this is all fantasy, it is not even conjecture, we are just totally making this shit up): Friday night would include Lilys performing their classic Slumberland/Spin-Art co-released In The Presence Of Nothing in its entirety; on Saturday night Rocketship would reform and deliver all of A Certain Smile, A Certain Sadness plus the singles of that period. And that's what would happen this weekend if we ran the world. Earlier today Pop Tarts Suck Toasted posted a great interview with Slumberland ringmaster Mike Schulman; check it out here.

Lilys -- "Claire Hates Me" -- In The Presence Of Nothing
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[out of print / buy in-print Lilys records from MusicStack here]

Rocketship -- "I Love You Like The Way That I Used To" -- A Certain Smile, A Certain Sadness
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[buy Rocketship records from MusicStack]

November 10, 2009

Review: Nosferatu D2 | We're Gonna Walk Around This City With Our Headphones On To Block Out The Noise [MP3]

Here is England's greatest contemporary lyricist, Ben Parker, coupling his words and fairly singular guitar playing with the punishing drumming of his brother Adam to create perhaps the greatest unheard record of the decade. The contents of defunct duo Nosferatu D2's We're Gonna Walk Around This City With Our Headphones On To Block Out The Noise -- recorded years ago but only now available in stores -- seethe and brood with startling intensity, as Mr. Parker's narrators botch relationships, asphyxiate under the weighty, numbing press of an increasingly homogenized consumer culture, and second-guess their way into oblivion. The songs are uncompromising and raw: drumming is foregrounded and everywhere; torrents of lyrics occasionally unhinge from verses; and there are barely any guitar effects to speak of, save for the distortion and feedback in the stunning track "We'll Play The Power Of Love By Frankie Goes To Hollywood A Thousand Times Tonight."

In the hierarchy of credible angst in post-punk music, there's Morrissey, there's Cobain, there's Ben Parker, and then there's everybody else. Parker spits devastatingly personal lyrics as if they burn his mouth ("at the time I think I just thought they were funny. I guess a lot of stuff happened in those two years," he remarks in the liner notes). Most songwriters are lucky to have one line in a song that hits home; Parker's lyrics and their desperate delivery are all stunning. We're Gonna Walk Around This City With Our Headphones On To Block Out The Noise opens with the line "the only place I feel alone is in your arms," and the record gets increasingly harrowing from there, climaxing in the spine-tingling, final :29 seconds of the track "Springsteen." In those last moments Parker sputters over and over "It's all up here! Point to my head!" before boiling over with two terrifying screams. That the tune is followed by the beautiful, calm opening of "We'll Play The Power Of Love By Frankie Goes To Hollywood A Thousand Times Tonight" is just brilliant sequencing. The record's most immediately satisfying track, "A Footnote," conveys the disappointment of being an avid music fan in a way that could only have been written by an avid music fan: "and every song that makes me cry is embarrassing to talk about, and the worst album will always be the last one..."

We're Gonna Walk Around This City With Our Headphones On To Block Out The Noise was never released during the two-year span (2005-2007) in which Nosferatu D2 was a going concern. And so we were very excited to learn that it was finally to be properly released by the new label Audio Antihero 16 Oct. The set had very nearly been released in 2007, according to Parker, and in fact was so close to being issued that the title was chosen and the art work contracted. Alas, Nosferatu D2's split indefinitely shelved We're Gonna Walk Around This City With Our Headphones On To Block Out The Noise. For a long time the set was available for free download from Last.FM, although the title and art were not included. The title, incidentally, comes from the opening line of a never-completed Nosferatu D2 track, according to Parker. Parker previously fronted the trio Tempertwig and is the current proprietor of the newly dual-member Superman Revenge Squad.

Nosferatu D2 -- "We'll Play The Power Of Love By Frankie Goes To Hollywood A Thousand Times Tonight" -- We're Gonna Walk Around This City With Our Headphones On To Block Out The Noise
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[buy the record from Audio Antihero right here]

Nosferatu D2: Internerds | MySpace | YouTube |Flickr

Previous Ben Parker Coverage:
Be Prepared: Nosferatu D2 | We're Gonna Walk Around This City With Our Headphones On To Block Out The Noise | 16. Oct
Out: Superman Revenge Squad's "We're Here For Duration... We Hope!"
A Dish Best Served Cold: The Clicky Clicky Interview With Ben Parker
Logorrhea, Pathos and Superman Revenge Squad
Today's Hotness: Tempertwig, Naxos, Joy Division
Every Band I've Ever Loved Has Let Me Down Eventually

November 8, 2009

Ringo Deathstarr Will Storm Japan, U.K., Issue "You Don't Listen" Single

We didn't know -- or learned and forgot in record time -- that Austin, Texas-based shoegaze goliath Ringo Deathstarr released a brand-new single Oct. 29. "You Don't Listen" b/w "Every Time I Leave You," was released by Custom Made Music, and the A-side will be on a planned full-length set issued by the band in 2010 (WOOT!) while the B-side is exclusive to the release. The Custom Made web site indicates the release is pending, but only by going to the Custom Made MySpace wigwam can one learn that the single can be purchased via PayPal right now. You can stream "You Don't Listen" at the band's MySpace drive-thru, which we recommend doing, because the track is killer. A little more sheen than the music from the band's excellent eponymous EP and the early demos we've been lucky enough to collect.

It's been a relatively busy fall for the quartet, which Sept. 14 released via UK label Spoilt Victorian Child Records the scorching single "Summer Time" b/w "In Love" (buy! buy! buy!). And the band is about to make what we believe is its maiden voyage to Japan, where it will stomp Yokohama, Osaka and Tokyo like Godzilla, before embarking on a thorough tour of the U.K. We're posting the full tour dates below. Ringo Deathstarr's self-titled EP was among our 10 favorite records of 2007, as you can see here. Readers may recall the EP was reissued on hot pink vinyl by Fan Death Records earlier this year. We don't have a copy of the new single yet and MySpazzz doesn't allow embeds, so we can't post the new single. But here is a stream of "Summertime," the B-side to September's SVC Records single.

11.20 -- Dragon Club -- Yokohama
11.21 -- Kitahorie Club Vijon -- Osaka
11.22 -- Kouenji High -- Tokyo
11.26 -- The Bodega Social Club -- Nottingham
11.27 -- Old Blue Last -- Hoxton, London
11.28 -- Reverence @ ICA -- London
11.30 -- Jericho Tavern -- Oxford
12.01 -- Korova -- Liverpool
12.02 -- Fibbers -- York
12.03 -- Sneaky Pete's -- Edinburgh
12.04 -- Captain’s Rest -- Glasgow
12.05 -- Academy 2 -- Birmingham
12.06 -- Joiners Arms -- Southampton
12.07 -- Brixton Windmill -- London
12.08 -- White Heat @ Madame Jojos -- London

November 6, 2009

The Elevators Drops | One Night Only | Middle East Rock Club | Dec. 18

After allegedly reforming in 2006 only to stealth release a fourth record (if you include the odds 'n' sods collection Epidose 1) more than a year later and disappear back into the ether, storied Boston psych-pop trio The Elevator Drops are reforming for a single show Friday, Dec. 18 at Cambridge, Mass.'s Middle East Rock Club. One odd Tuesday or Wednesday night this band pulled an 18-wheeler on to the lawn of the prominent anti-frat at our undergraduate institution and played one of the most bizarre and amazing sets of music we've ever seen. Allow us to recycle a paragraph from our Nov. 2006 item:

During our senior year in college we were pulled to a show on campus for a band we knew nothing about. The show was in the middle of the week or on a very beat Friday night, and as far as we can recollect there were no opening acts and the show was minimally attended. Which was too goddamned bad because we saw one of the most exciting and bizarre shows of our then 22 or so years. Yes, it was The Elevator Drops, and if we are recalling this correctly the trio showed up to the residence hall hosting the show in a giant, gleaming white 18-wheeled truck. Or at least that is what they pulled away in after the show as we stood with our mouth agape at the wonders we had just witness. You see, when The Elevator Drops took the stage they did so in make-up and in-character as evil clown robots strung out on heroin. Their movements were rigid and pop music glorious and weird. We have always had a hard time explaining the spectacle of the band that night.

All of The Elevator Drops' records appear to be out of print. We're posting a track from Epidose 1 below, which is not really representative of the band's recorded output, but it is a beautiful ambient track that shows how much range the trio had, and just how amazing of a band this really is. Uhh, "was."

The Elevator Drops -- "If You Were Invisible" -- Epidose 1
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[buy Elevator Drops records from MusicStack right here]

The Elevator Drops: InterWeb | MySpace | Flickr | YouTube

November 5, 2009

Footage: Pants Yell!'s "Someone Loves You"

We, of course, think smoking is something that one should not do. But when was the last time you saw a smoker smoking in as cool a fashion as Pants Yell! drummer Casey Keenan? Seriously. But anyway, this is a hot track from the Cambridge, Mass.-based trio's forthcoming long-player Received Pronunciation. The record, Pants Yell!'s fourth, will be issued by the mighty Slumberland Records next week. You can already pre-order that shizz right here.

November 3, 2009

Review: The Swimmers | People Are Soft [MP3]

The title to Philadelphia-based The Swimmers' ambitious sophomore set is not a put-down, it's a poignant acknowledgment of human flaws. Or at least that is the impression we get after listening to People Are Soft, which is starkly different from the band's excellent 2008 debut Fighting Trees. The latter album was a scritchy, upbeat collection of jangly, rootsy indie rockers that sounded like the earliest Wilco records. By contrast People Are Soft is awash in icy, futuristic synths (as in the New Order-y "Anything Together"), electronically augmented rhythm tracks and imaginative production.

The remarkable difference -- production-wise -- can in part be attributed to the fact that between the recording of the two records The Swimmers built their own home studio. And if it wasn't for a freshly realized, pronounced darkness that hangs over People Are Soft we'd chalk up the startlingly dissimilar sonic palette purely to the band's newfound freedom to experiment in the studio without having to worry about paying for all the hours. Album closer "Try To Settle In" certainly takes an everything-and-the-kitchen sink approach while recreating a sound -- one melodically akin toThe Clash's "Hitsville UK" -- that wouldn't be out of place on The Magnetic Fields' recent Distortion. The second track of People Are Soft, "A Hundred Hearts," stomps along with a slight hint of roller disco funk that recalls Lilys' recent dance floor filler "A Diana's Diana" (for that matter, the closing seconds of album opener "Shelter" sound very similar to the closing seconds of Lilys' wonderful "Black Carpet Magic"). The lazery clean, glossy production of the new Swimmers record not only contrasts with the moodier outlook in the new songs, but also places them in the same sort of sonic area as another Philly band that drastically retooled (along with a name change and personnel pruning) from a rootsy sound to a spacey, glossy and studio-influenced one: Sun Airway.

As we alluded to above, even more jarring is the darker vibe of the new record, whose songs in sum suggest a loss of innocence. Where Fighting Trees included wide-eyed and infectious anthems like "Heaven," "Pocket Full Of Gold" and "It's Time They Knew," People Are Soft's post-lapsarian sound is more troubled and reflective. The overdriven rocker (and album highlight) "Drug Party" includes the lines "when they cut me open they'll see why I didn't fit" and "I'm always outside getting sick." These sentiments, that loss of innocence, could easily be a result of the band -- led by Steve Yutzy-Burkey and whose principals met at a small Bible college -- moving to the big city and confronting new, more complicated lives. But if we had to venture a guess we'd say that the new record carries a certain resignation and weariness that manifests itself among 20-somethings when youth and idealism become increasingly distant memories. People Are Soft is released by Mad Dragon Records today. Fighting Trees was named one of our top 10 records of 2008 right here, and we reviewed it here. The band will tour briefly to support the new collection, and Boston-area fans should make a special note about the Dec. 12 date at PA's Lounge.

The Swimmers -- "A Hundred Hearts" -- People Are Soft
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[buy Swimmers records from Newbury Comics right here]

The Swimmers: Internets | MySpace | YouTube | Flickr

11.06 -- Kung Fu Necktie -- Philadelphia, PA
11.07 -- Main Street Music -- Philadelphia, PA
11.07 -- Pianos -- New York, NY
11.13 -- Progressive Galleries -- Lancaster, PA
11.14 -- The Bog -- Scranton, PA
12.11 -- DC-9 -- Washington, DC
12.12 -- PA’s Lounge -- Boston, MA

November 2, 2009

And Then This Happened: Future of the Left, The Beatings

Future of the Left with the Beatings at TT the Bear's, November 1, 2009;
-Photos by Michael Piantigini

Future of the Left f'n delivered. As you can see from the photos, they take no shortcuts, spare no piece of equipment, and are always willing to risk injury in their endeavor to entertain. What you can't see is their sense of humor - Too many bands that are this loud, this unrelenting, and this menacing take themselves way too seriously, and Future of the Left's refusal to do so is part of what makes them such great fun to see.

I am a believer in the Beatings too. It pains me to admit that this was my first time seeing them; it certainly won't be my last.

-Michael Piantigini

Future of the Left: Interwebs| MySpace | Falco's blog
The Beatings: Interwebs | MySpace