January 20, 2010

Today's Hotness: Red Pens, Calories, The Labor Daze

>> Delightful Minneapolis-based noise pop duo Red Pens have it, and they are about to share it, and it is great. The act's full-length debut Reasons has a high anthem quotient and is packed with fizzing pop songs constructed out of drums, guitar and vocals. And then the whole shebang is swathed in dense, "Sister Ray"-ish fuzz. And while using The Velvet Underground as a reference point these days has sort of lost all meaning (ditto for Sonic Youth and The Beatles: virtually meaningless, people), it isn't entirely off-base either. Red Pens' limited personnel -- the band is guitarist and lead vocalist Howard W. Hamilton III and drummer Laura Bennett -- imbues its songs with the sort of primitive vibe of certain Velvets material. A fleshy embrace of grimy distortion, smart vocals and blissful melodies also recalls The Manhattan Love Suicides, for those of you hip to the now sadly defunct Leeds noiseniks. Album opener "Hung Out" is a clear winner, and we're sharing the track below. We also highly recommend the brooder "Weekends," which is slotted midway through the record and touts a big dynamic chorus. Reasons will be issued by Grain Belt Records Feb. 18; it appears the set was previously released in one form or another Sept. 15, 2009.

Red Pens -- "Hung Out" -- Reasons
[right click and save as]
[buy Reasons from Grain Belt Records right here]

>> A helpful commenter points us to pre-order information for the forthcoming split single from Calories and William, which is slated for release Feb. 8. As big Calories fans, and as especially big fans of the Birmingham, England indie rock trio's tune "Drink The Potion," it is their side of the single we are primarily excited about. In addition to "Drink The Potion," Calories' plane also includes the track "Mortal Boys;" William's tunes are "Dilettante" and "Lustreless." The split is being issued by Tough Love in a limited edition of 500, and it is apparently the label's second in a series of double A-sided singles. According to the Piccadilly Records pre-order page for the single, William apparently sounds like 1/3 D. Boon, 1/3 straightedge and 1/3 Stinson brothers, which sounds incredibly enticing to us. Pre-order the single here.

>> Peppy, North Jersey-based indie foursome The Labor Daze is the latest act to send us a surprisingly good unsolicited submission. The band's five song Laika EP overcomes opaque production with solid songwriting somewhat reminiscent of the now sadly defunct, Michigan-based indie pop geniuses Rain Is Wet. Laika succeeds with its earlier, scritchier tunes "Introduction" and "Whitebread Standard," but slumps a bit when The Labor Daze delves into the heavier riffage elsewhere. It's probably too early in the band's career for it to have fixed on a signature sound, so it is anybody's guess whether the lighter pop will triumph over the cockier material in the long run; more optimistically, perhaps The Labor Daze will find an exciting way to meld the two. No matter, there are some nice moments on the EP, and the entire thing can be downloaded via a link at the band's MySpace dojo. We're posting "Whitebread Standard" below.

The Labor Daze -- "Whitebread Standard" -- Laika EP
[.M4A file; right click and save as]
[download the entire EP via the band's MySpace]

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