July 28, 2010

Message Received: The Answering Machine Storm California

Last week we told you the news about The Answering Machine's forthcoming record (that it's done; that it's called Lifeline; that it will be released worldwide in January). But we didn't tell you about a quick burst of live engagements the Manchester, England-based quartet has lined up later this week in California. Inspect the dates below, and if you are a left-coaster, plan accordingly.

07.29 -- Private Party in Chinatown -- Los Angeles, CA
07.30 -- Club Underground at The Echo -- Silverlake/Los Angeles, CA
07.31 -- The Fox Theater Rooftop -- Pomona, CA
08.06 -- The Glass House -- Pomona, CA

And so what of this video above? We'd heard tell that The Answering Machine had done a live session of some sort earlier this year featuring a collaboration with one-time Charlatans UK (that's Charlatans to you non-Yanks) fronter Ian Burgess. Then, like most everything else, we forgot about that, and went on to thinking about things like, you know, other indie rock. But it turns out The Music Slut has turned up the clip above. You'll see The Answering Machine backing Burgess as he murmurs his way through Buzzcocks' "Just Lust," which most of us recall as being a track pretty deep into the running order of the terrific comp Singles Going Steady. Since you asked, our favorite Charlatans jam is "Then," and the video for that is right here.

July 27, 2010

Clicky Clicky Presents At 3PM: Mogwai in "BURNING"

[We are pleased to welcome to these digital pages the writing of noted raconteur and multi-instrumentalist L. Tiburon Pacifico, whose affinity for the post-rock juggernaut Mogwai is unsurpassed in our personal experience. We asked Mr. Pacifico to pen an introduction to the film that you can read while you wait for the minutes to tick down until showtime, which is, of course, 3PM U.S. East Coast time. Enjoy the show. -- Ed.]

Yes, it's filmed in black and white, with an unsteady hand and a focus that often refuses to hold its place. Yes, its setting is none other than the oft-maligned hipster mecca, Williamsburg, Brooklyn, NY. And yes, the filmmakers actually trim the beginning off of (gulp) "Like Herod," the 12-minute-plus epic from the Scottish quintet's revered 1997 full-length debut Young Team. But make no mistake: this film offers a very insightful glimpse into a band that has been "quietly" pushing their own envelope for the past 15 years, particularly when it comes to their live shows. While it certainly is no substitute for (the sensory overload that is) seeing Mogwai live, it ought to be more than enough to trigger nostalgic heart palpitations and pulse quickenings for those who have seen them. And for those who have yet to, this should be enough to incite a riot of curiosity that gets you out the next time they grace our shores... -- L. Tiburon Pacifico


Pre-order one of the many configurations of Mogwai's Special Moves bundle (which packages the film and an attendant CD in a variety of ways) right here.

July 26, 2010

RSL Blog Presents The Hush Now 2 Aug. Great Scott Boston

Today's Hotness: Soars, The Grownup Noise, Sleepies

>> We were surprised to see that rising dream-pop concern Soars is based out of the Lehigh Valley in our native Pennsylvania, because the only products of that area of which we are familiar are the decidedly not-dream-pop acts The Original Sins/Brother JT and Weston. And the last time we were in the Bethlehem/Allentown area we were staying in a hotel packed with kids in town for a hardcore festival. So we dashed off a communiquĕ to our source in Bethlehem, and he assured me that, indeed, things are happening there, good things, shoegazey, psychedelic things. After berating our source for not apprising us earlier, we sat down with Soars' pending self-titled full-length. We can report that it is wonderful -- better than even the very nice preview track "Throw Yourself Apart," posted below, indicates. Across the record there's substantial nuance both in dynamics and style, including a throw-back Gothic gloom that we don't hear many of Soars' musical peers referencing these days. Soars will be released by La Société Expéditionnaire Oct. 5 on CD and colored vinyl. The quartet has a half-dozen live engagements confirmed, and we're posting them below.

Soars -- "Throw Yourself Apart" -- Soars
[right click and save as]
[pre-order Soars from La Société Expéditionnaire right here, eventually]

08.10 -- Gooskies -- Pittsburgh, PA
08.11 -- Ball Hall -- Chicago, IL
08.13 -- Glasslands -- Brooklyn, NY
09.30 -- The Burners -- Bethlehem, PA
10.01 -- Glasslands -- Brooklyn, NY
10.20 -- CMJ Showcase -- New York, NY

>> We were minding our own business a year ago seeing favorites Varsity Drag along when we realized we were witnessing a pretty impressive performance by an opener with which we were completely unfamiliar. The band was The Grownup Noise, they were (are) local, and they were kicking off a national tour. We exchanged raised eyebrows of approval with Mr. Piantigini, and made mention of the set right here. The Grownup Noise's music is a little more singer-songwritery than what we typically go for, but we find it compelling nonetheless, and stand by our assessment from exactly one year ago today, except for maybe the Buckner part: "The band blends the voice of Richard Buckner, the cello work from Built To Spill and indie hooks filtered through a cracking pop sense, which for some reason made us think of Paul Simon." Coincidentally, The Grownup Noise are about to head out on tour -- its fifth -- again, and bassist Adam Sankowski has shared with us the quartet's pending EP Shall We?, which it will be promoting while the finishing touches are applied to the band's next full-length (both the EP and full-length were recorded with Scott Solter, who has also worked on records you've heard by Spoon and Okkervil River). Shall We? is replete with light, bright and mostly piano-led indie pop. We're a fan of all five songs, particularly "Six Foot Solemn Oath" and its vocal interplay between fronter Paul Hansen and cellist Katie Franich. But below we're posting the solo, guitar-centric ballad "Outside," which conveys a resonant poignancy and solitude, and also features a memorable phrase we've always loved from All About Chad's "I Can't Sleep." The Grownup Noise kick off its tour with a local gig July 31 at Lizard Lounge, and we expect you'll be able to buy the new EP from them that evening. Full tour dates are posted at the band's MySpazz.

The Grownup Noise's "Outside"

>> Garagey pop-punk trio Sleepies got in touch this month to introduce themselves, and we've listened to their recent self-titled set quite a bit. What we keep returning to over and over is the raucous closer "Housewife." The song commences with a shouted count-off and then unleashes a scritchy torrent of uptempo rock that reminds us of very early Superchunk a touch. The chorus is a shouter, a real beer-hall anthem. Sleepies was released by the band in May, and you can buy the set directly from them right here. The trio was cool enough to permit us to offer "Housewife," surely its strongest calling card, so check it out below. Sleepies has two hometown shows on the books: Aug. 4 at Death By Audio and Aug. 13 at The Acheron, both in Brooklyn.

Sleepies' "Housewife"

July 25, 2010

And Then Some Days We Get Awesome Mail 5

That, friends, is a t-shirt bearing the logo and slogan of the quality indie label Audio Antihero. The label is perhaps best known for issuing the never-before-released Nosferatu D2 full-length We're Gonna Walk Around This City With Our Headphones On To Block Out The Noise, which we reviewed here last year. And because he is a totally class chap, label manager Jamie Halliday included his ticket stub to the recent epic Wichita Recordings Wichiten birthday celebration, specifically the night that Los Campesinos! and Johnny Foreigner played, when he shipped off the shirt we recently ordered. Audio Antihero sells CDs, of course, but we should point out that it also sells shirts for its acts in addition to the one pictured above. Why not throw some money at Mr. Halliday by buying some shirts?

July 24, 2010

Footage: Screaming Maldini's "Secret Sounds"

Holy mackerel, how did we miss this? We've raved about Sheffield, England-based prog pop consortium Screaming Maldini before, and we knew the stunning young sextet had filmed a video in February, but we're only now just seeing it. The clip, as astute headline readers have already gleaned, is for the song "Secret Sounds," one of the standout numbers from the band's excellent 2010 And The Kookaburra EP released on Alcopop [review here]. Last month Screaming Maldini posted four new tracks to its MySpace dojo, and we advise you to check them out posthaste, as they are characteristically brilliant. Here's "The Albatross" from the aforementioned EP; thanks to Saam at Faded Glamour for doing the original file upload.

Screaming Maldini - The Albatross

Today's Hotness: Johnny Foreigner, Guillermo Sexo, Calories

>> [Photo ganked from the Johnny Foreigner Facebook page] Noise pop superheroes Johnny Foreigner are "50% finished" with a new EP, we were surprised to learn earlier this week via this blog post. We have no information about who will be releasing the EP, when it will be released, or what is on it. But here are some dots you can try to connect. First, there's this quote from the blog: "We're undecided if the lead-off single should be a standard yay happyclap pop song (for The Radio to pick up on and make us famous) or a depressing slow song (cos The Radio pretty much ignores us whateverr, and we're all growd up and mature now)." The Birmingham, England-based trio recently (finally) shipped its Every Cloakroom Ever 10", which the band self-released with the blessing of its label Best Before. We also know that Johnny Foreigner is planning a make-or-break U.S. tour, perhaps touring alongside notable Leeds-based indie trio Sky Larkin, which will release its stellar sophomore set Kaleide Aug. 9 as we noted here. And based on reporting by our KeepingSomeDarkSecrets colleague Luke Cotton, we know the names of two more as-yet-unreleased new Johnny Foreigner tracks: "The Wind And The Weathervane;" "Harriet By Proxy." And of course Johnny Foreigner earlier this summer released to the Internerds an amazing version of "With Who, Who And What I've Got," which we would expect the band will properly record in non-8-bit version. So that's three tracks, which could be most of an EP right there, yeah? An EP that might be sold on a fall tour, yeah? Anyway, watch this space for tour news, some unreleased video, and the like. Get excited people.

>> We say this constantly, but we're constantly surprised to find bands we like right here in our own proverbial back-yard (frankly, we find ones we don't like with terrifying ease, although it was *sort of* nice to hear that Jerry Garcia Band cover last night). We were inclined to ignore a recent pitch about a Boston-based act named Guillermo Sexo, because, really, doesn't that sound like it is going to be a dude in a gold lamĕ speedo singing lounge versions of Madonna songs? But, in fact, Guillermo Sexo makes compelling guitar music the likes of which we are constantly on the hunt for in Boston. The quartet released in June its third full-length Vivid Nights, and you can stream the whole thing gratis at this Bandcamp page. Vivid Nights contains a number of great songs, and we're posting the rocker "Neon Lights" below. The tune reminds us a bit of the aforementioned Sky Larkin -- because the lead vocal is handled, presumably, by Noell Dorsey rather than fronter Reuben Bettstak -- paired with some mid-period New Order chiming guitar and Kiss Me Deadly-ish sass in the chorus. That said, "Neon Lights" isn't stylistically representative of the entirety of Vivid Nights, which elsewhere embraces early Blonde Redhead-grade psychedelia (such as on the Guillermo Sexo track "Puppies To Rock"). Guillermo Sexo's previous full-lengths are Oh Wow, released in 2007, and Magic Lanterns from 2008. The band currently has no pending live dates posted, but we'll keep an eye out.

Guillermo Sexo - Neon Lights

>> [UPDATED] Back to Birmingham, England, then, for more news about power trio Calories' forthcoming sophomore set Basic Nature, which is due Sept. 13 on Tough Love in a combined vinyl/CD/digital download package that will apparently be limited to 500 pieces. Meaning we should really go pre-order before we post this. Hold on a moment. Right then, Calories has begun posting (sadly un-embeddable) streams for certain of the tracks from Basic Nature at this web site, where currently the curious can hear what we believe will be the first single "FFWD" as well as the songs "Thirteen" and "The Brink." "FFWD" is textbook Calories: concise, anthemic, wholly rocking; the single will be released digitally Aug. 30 and will be promoted by via video clip as well. "Thirteen" is a cover of Big Star's sweet acoustic ballad, a song choice that surprisingly eschews the usual anthemic bludgeoning doled out by the threesome (seriously, do we have to post the live video of "Drink The Potion" again?) and heads into Alex Chilton-ish territory [Thanks to Alexei Berrow for pointing out this is, in fact, a cover, something we were too daft to check before we published -- Ed.]. We presume Calories will tour with abandon come September, and we do something like praying with the hopes that they will come to America a bit, too.

July 22, 2010

Get Fired Tuesday Afternoon For Watching The New Mogwai Movie Here

That's right, folks. We're not 100% sure how it works, but if you come to Clicky Clicky (or, as it turns out, to our top-serious favorite blog Bradley's Almanac) Tuesday afternoon at 3PM you will be able to watch a live video stream of the new Mogwai film "Burning." The movie captures the revered Scottish post-rock goliath perfoming live at Music Hall Of Williamsburg in "early 2009." Our intrepid Senior Mogwai Correspondent L. Tiburon Pacifico has had his eyelids bolted open "A Clockwork Orange"-style in recent days writing up an intro to the film, which we'll post along with the live stream at exactly 3PM U.S. East Coast time Tuesday. In the meantime, there's plenty of information about "Burning" to be had on the Interzizzles, as the film was released in the U.K. earlier this year. Haven't seen the trailer yet? It's spine-tingling. Seriously, the trailer will blow your head off. Anyway, we look forward to your seeing the movie here or at one of the other 44 (literally) web sites hosting the thing next week. The screening is followed by a live Q+A with film director Vincent Moon and Mogwai's Stuart Braithwaite.

July 20, 2010

Rock Over Boston: Alejandro Escovedo | Middle East

Alejandro Escovedo[Alejandro Escovedo at the Middle East, 7/19/2010. Photo by Michael Piantigini]

Aging rockers of all stripes: you're on notice.

At nearly 60 years old, Alejandro Escovedo puts his more successful contemporaries - the kind of bands that fill (or don't) much bigger venues named after banks and cable companies - to shame. Still turning out songs and albums that are still vital, still rocking, and most importantly, still hungry, Escovedo hit the Middle East last night in support of his back-to-basics rocker of a new album, Street Songs of Love.

The man spins classics - and even the new ones are classics. Escovedo's the kind of songwriter who pulls songs out of the air that surely have always been there. Set opener "Always A Friend" must be from the 70's, right? And that raging closer, "Real Animal" must have been from his Stooges-era punk days? No - amazingly, they're both just from 2008's Real Animal. And, yeah - that randy, suggestive pop number "Anchor" is from the new one. All this is no last gasp, either; I regret even be taking this angle here, because his age is incidental, and last night's energetic set gave no indication that we should expect anything less than this sort of thing for a long while still.

Dedicating the new album's ode to a now-romantic punk era "Down In The Bowery" to his punk-rocker son, Escovedo talked of his son's assertion that his father's music is old music for old people. Maybe so, but if we're all half as hungry for life at that point, we'll be doing all right.

-Michael Piantigini

Alejandro Escovedo: Tubes | Facebook | MySpace | Archive.org

July 19, 2010

Review: The Books | The Way Out

While it doesn't sound the way we had guessed it would, experimental folk copy-pasters The Books' latest surreal set The Way Out is the act's most emotionally direct work yet. It has been five years since the itinerant duo released its beautiful third full length Lost And Safe, but the career caesura does not appear to have affected its approach to creating captivating, inscrutable music. This despite the fact that the poignant, spine-tingling and almost sample-free closing cut on Lost And Safe was a relatively conventional ballad, which we had assumed was a harbinger of things to come from the band. We were wrong. Instead, The Way Out finds The Books retrenched in its familiar mesh of absurd found sounds, field recordings, acoustic instruments, beats and occasionally spiritual lyrics.

It took seeing The Books live (in 2005, as referenced in our review of Lost And Safe here) for us to realize how central humor is to its music. We had previously recognized the quirk, but the visuals the augmented duo used to accompany its mesmerizing, extended musical koans in a live setting made plain that The Books are as much amused by life as they are amazed by it. Perhaps because of that experience we find The Way Out to be the most humorous of The Books' four iconoclastic full lengths; one listen to the hilarious amalgamation of kids goofin' called "A Cold Freezin' Night" bears this out. But it's not just the humor that is more potent: "I Am Who I Am" is stunning in its cold aggression (well, relative aggression). While we recognize that The Books are satirizing the quasi-dictatorial/actually kind of pathetic declarations that are sampled, the song is uncharacteristically dark, but thrillingly so. "I Am Who I Am" features a male voice emphatically ranting over a jungle-ish rhythm track and something like electric bassoon drones; the result sounds like something created by Pailhead, the amazing '80s collaboration between Fugazi fronter Ian Mackaye and Ministry's Al Jourgenson.

We found a record store/label that has posted samples from each song on The Way Out to Soundcloud, and so we've embedded the series of samples below. Please support The Books and pick up this very special record July 20 (tomorrow) when it is released. Or, of course, you can buy the thing from the duo's new label, Temporary Residence, right here. The Books have booked an uncharacteristically long (we think) strand of tour dates to support the release of The Way Out, and all the dates we are aware of as of this writing are posted below. Boston-area readers should make special note of The Books' appearances at Wilco's Solid Sound Festival next month and at The Somerville Theater in October.

[pre-order The Way Out from Temporary Residence Ltd. right here]

The Books: Internerds | MySpace | YouTube | Flickr

08.13 -- Solid Sound Festival -- North Adams, MA
09.04 -- ATP Music Festival -- Monticello, NY
09.29 -- The Trocadero -- Philadelphia, PA
09.30 -- 9:30 Club -- Washington, DC
10.01 -- Sheafer Theater -- Durham, NC
10.03 -- Variety Playhouse -- Atlanta, GA
10.04 -- Square Room -- Knoxville, TN
10.05 -- Jefferson Theater -- Charlottesville, VA
10.21 -- Somerville Theater -- Somerville, MA
10.22 -- Pearl Street -- Northampton, MA
10.23 -- Cabaret Mile End -- Montreal, QC
10.24 -- Capitol Music Hall -- Ottawa, ON
10.25 -- The Mod Club -- Toronto, ON
10.26 -- Crofoot Ballroom -- Pontiac, MI
10.27 -- Ladies Literary Club -- Grand Rapids, MI
10.29 -- Vic Theater -- Chicago, IL
10.30 -- Cedar Cultural Center -- Minneapolis, MN
10.30 -- Cedar Cultural Center -- Minneapolis, MN
11.13 -- Zankel Hall -- New York, NY
11.30 -- Palace of Fine Arts -- San Francisco, CA
12.03 -- Aladdin Theater -- Portland, OR
12.04 -- Moore Theatre -- Seattle, WA
12.05 -- Vogue Theater -- Vancouver, BC

July 18, 2010

YouTube Rodeo: Johnny Foreigner With Gareth Campesinos! "Criminals"

Oh like we weren't going to re-post this here. The video is a little blurrier than we typically like to post, but otherwise the quality is quite good: the sound actually remarkably listenablem the camera work as steady as events likely allowed. And then, of course, there's Gareth Campesinos! killing it alongside our heroes Alexei, Junior and Kelly. "Criminals" was a single from Johnny Foreigner's, ahem, criminally under-rated sophomore set Grace And The Bigger Picture. Both Johnny Foreigner and Los Campesinos! played Thursday night as part of Wichita Recordings' multi-night 10th anniversary celebration. And while we understand Los Campesinos!' performance was top-notch, after seeing this video we are actually sort of kicking ourselves for not dropping a portion of our life savings to get to England to see this. It's that good. Anyway, fingers crossed that the proposed Johnny Foreigner tour of the United States this fall actually comes together. And, of course, for those of you feeling a bit of deja vu, you are correct, this is not the first video you've seen with Gareth joining Johnny Foreigner. This is.

Today's Hotness: The Vaselines, The Hush Now, The Answering Machine

>> Chances are if you are of a certain age, say, mid-30s or younger, you know The Vaselines because they were covered notably by alt-rock tent-raisers Nirvana. As the Glaswegian indie pop legends were originally together for fewer than four years during its original voyage and issued only two EPs and a full length (and those four years were more than 20 years ago), it's understandable that many don't actually know the genuine article. But as with many by-gone acts, the idea of playing together again became too big to ignore for the duo (later a quartet). After reforming and performing a small number of shows over the last three years, The Vaselines have recorded and will release a long-awaited second full-length, Sex With An X. Sub Pop will do the honors and the set streets Sept. 14. We were minding our own business late last week listening to WMBR and we were struck by a perky and undeniable pop number that turned out to be The Vaselines' new gem "I Hate The '80s." The contrarian in us loves the fact that the band refuses to romanticize the '80s ("you want the truth, well this is it... the '80s were shit."). While we wouldn't agree that the decade was shit as The Vaselines assert, we do loathe contemporary acts who weren't alive in the decade in question affecting what they perceive to be an '80s sound and thinking that such window-dressing excuses said acts from writing good songs. But we digress. Check out the stream below.

The Vaselines - I Hate The 80's

>> We've got your first taste of the forthcoming Shiver Me Starships EP from Boston dream-pop upstarts The Hush Now. The current iteration of the quintet has established itself as the most formidable yet fielded by founding member Noel Kelly. And on the new EP, recorded throughout June and July in a suburban Boston studio, The Hush Now articulates a denser guitar attack and increasingly accessible pop hooks. "Big Awesome" in particular pulses behind enticing curtains of melodic guitar (do we need to bring up the Kitchens Of Distinction comparisons again?) and then memorably transitions into a huge bridge at the end of the third minute. But "The Other Ones," is being singled out for promo purposes and it is easy to hear why: alternating scritchy and then orchestral guitars, roller rink keys, and a bouncy and upbeat rhythm. We think we've already seen this one live, and as the band's confidence has grown, its ability to imagine and then convey grand musical gestures has grown with it. The soaring conclusion of "The Other Ones" is ample evidence. Boston-area music fans can see The Hush Now at an RSL Blog-curated show at Great Scott Boston Aug. 2. Shiver Me Starships is slated for release in late summer.

The Hush Now's "The Other Ones"

>> According to a post on the band's revamped web site, The Answering Machine's hotly anticipated sophomre set is completed and titled Lifeline; it is tentatively schedule for worldwide release in January. The Manchester, England-based indie pop luminaries recorded the set themselves with fronter Martin Colclough in the produder's chair. The band reports songs on the new record include a title track, "Anything Anything," "My Little Navy," "Hospital Lungs" and another titled "3 Miles;" another new track, "Winter Without You," is apparently Sonic Youth influenced and may or may not have made the final cut, according to this interview given to Live4Ever. Writing "3 Miles" apparently touched off a streak of songwriting that helped the act complete the record. "there’s a noticable 'dance' element to the songs, in the vein of The Whitest Boy Alive," Colclough told Live4Ever. The Answering Machine's bracing debut Another City, Another Sorry remains widely available, including at Bandcamp here. We reviewed Another City, Another Sorry here; it was one of our favorite records of 2009.

July 16, 2010

And Then Some Days We Get Awesome Mail 4

Yeah, we know we've shown you this art before, or at least some of you, but our copy of Johnny Foreigner's hotly anticipated, long-awaited Every Cloakroom Ever 10" finally arrived in our mail today. You may recall the art features the name of every person who pre-ordered the record, which is pretty awesome, and our name is situated right at the center in the left margin on the front cover. Aces. According to this blog post which surfaced on the Interlosers earlier this evening, there are actually some copies of the 10" left and the Birmingham, England-based noise-pop titans will likely throw what little was not pre-ordered into its online merch shop sometime soon, which merch shop is right here. So if you haven't gotten a copy of the disc yet, there is still some hope.

Johnny Foreigner played Wichita Recordings' Wichiten 10-year anniversary celebration last night with Los Campesinos! and Frankie & The Heartstrings, and according to the buzz online the night was a raving success. Johnny Foreigner has four more festival dates booked this summer, which we hope leaves them with plenty of time to work on Album No. 3 and a planned U.S. tour which we hope will occur this fall. Haven't yet heard the band's most recent, freely distributed piece of genius, "With Who, Who And What I've Got?" Catch the stream below.

Johnny Foreigner - With Who, Who And What I've Got by Wichita Recordings

Be Prepared: Calories | Basic Nature | 13 September

Sophomore full-length from the other greatest trio out of Birmingham, England. The 15-track Basic Nature will be issued by Tough Love Records in the U.K. Sept. 13. Pre-order the set here. The exciting, surprisingly groovy (in the motorik sense, that) new song "The Brink," presumably taken from the forthcoming collection, has recently begun streaming at Calories' MySpace dojo right here. We've never learned exactly what happened, but the three-piece's sophomore set was initially to be called Habitations and was expected to be released on Smalltown America in March of this year; that never happened. Tough Love released a Calories/William split earlier this year containing the Calories track "The Mortal Boys."

July 15, 2010

Now Sound: Varsity Drag's "White Cat In A Snowstorm"

Fans of Boston-based indie punk pace-setters Varsity Drag have been tantalized for months with the prospect of the release of the trio's take on "White Cat In A Snowstorm." The song was originally released by defunct U.K.-based Drag labelmates Ipanema, whose fronter Darren "Wiz" Brown died suddenly in late 2006. The song made its way into Varsity Drag's live sets as far back as April, when we saw the band deliver a thrilling headline set at P.A.'s Lounge in which the song was an electrifying highlight [review here]. Varsity Drag finally released the track today to its Bandcamp domicile and you can download "White Cat In A Snowstorm" right here for free or a fee, depending on how altruistic you're feeling at the mo'. We've embedded a stream below.

We won't say the song is surprisingly heavy, because really, the band's live shows have been bringing more and more energy every time we've seen them over the last year or so. But it is, in fact, heavy (and we suppose it is a bit surprising, since the song was tracked in fronter Ben Deily's home studio). Mr. Deily's guitar tone has a crunchy metal edge that he doesn't often indulge, and certain sections with precise dynamics (particularly drummer Josh Pickering's cymbal grabs at 1:20 or so) complement well the aggressive edge. Varsity Drag's "White Cat In A Snowstorm" is slated to be released on a long-planned compilation being put together by the threesome's U.K. label Boss Tunage, and Varsity Drag has toyed with the idea of releasing the tune later as part of an EP that would also include outtakes from the sessions for its most recent full-length Night Owls, which was released in late 2009 [review here]. The band's only current live commitment is a show at Maxwell's in Hoboken, NJ, Aug. 26.

July 14, 2010

Today's Hotness: Women, Superchunk, The Hush Now

wom3[Women at Urban Outfitters Back Lot 3/19/09 during SXSW 2009. Photo by Michael Piantigini]
>> The impressive self-titled debut by Calgary's Women pulled off the difficult and rare trick of taking some easily recognizable influences and spinning them into a sound uniquely the band's own. The new track from their upcoming, second long player, Public Strain (due 9/28/10 on Jagjaguwar), continues in this vein. Hooky, with a Spector-esque wall of sound reverb, "Eyesore" continues Women's apparent quest to redirect the rock lineage of the Velvet Underground back on itself. Or something. -- Michael Piantigini

Women -- "Eyesore" -- Public Strain
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[buy Public Strain from Jagjaguwar right here]

>> For a few, brief shining moments/hours yesterday, indie icons Superchunk were previewing their almost-decade-in-the-making new album, Majesty Shredding, at the Merge Records site. First background-at-work listen sounded good to us, though being already familiar with a couple of tracks -- "Learned To Surf" and "Crossed Wires" graced last year's EP and 7", respectively -- made those stand out the most. If I'd known that Superchunk were just teasing, I'd have paid more attention! They've helped us out a bit, though, by Tweeting a link to a download of the new album's opener, "Digging For Something," which also exists as the A-side of a new 7-incher that is apparently available in limited numbers in record stores (I couldn't find one!) and on the band's upcoming tour, which hits Royale in Boston with openers Versus on September 21st. Jay recently pined for next month's reissues of On The Mouth and No Pocky For Kitty right here. - Michael Piantigini

Superchunk -- "Digging For Something" -- Majesty Shredding
[right click and save as]
[pre-order Majesty Shredding from Merge Records right here]

>> Boston-based dream pop heroes The Hush Now have titled their forthcoming EP. The short set bears the moniker Shiver Me Starships and will (we assume) be self-released by the band on a date to be determined. The mastering of Shiver Me Starships is expected to be completed any moment, album art is in the works, and you can expect to hear some of the new material when The Hush Now plays an RSL Blog-curated date at Great Scott Boston Aug. 2. Longtime fans of the band will be amused/amazed to learn that for the second time in the band's career recording has been impacted by studio flooding. If you come to learn that you live on the same street as singer/guitarist Noel Kelly, you may want to consider moving... -- Jay Breitling

>> If you're like me and the 90's were your musical wonder years - that is, old - then have I got a music festival for you. It isn't a real, actual festival, but one does seem to be curating itself for a stretch at the end of September:

9/18/10 Pavement at the Agganis Arena
9/21/10 Superchunk with Versus at Royale
9/23/10 Bettie Serveert at TT's
9/25/10 Teenage Fanclub at Royale
9/26/10 Come (reunion of all original members) at TT's
9/30-10/1/10 Built To Spill at the Paradise
10/5/10 The Vaselines at the Paradise
10/8/10 Fountains of Wayne at the Paradise

These will help soothe the pain of getting shut out of the rather unbelievable lineup at Matador Records' 21st birthday party in Vegas. Sigh. -- Michael Piantigini

July 13, 2010

Today's Hotness: The Henry Clay People, Pernice Brothers, Mogwai

>>L.A.-based rock saviors The Henry Clay People are giving away for almost-free another track from the act's rousing new set Somewhere On The Golden Coast, namely the rocker "Slow Burn." The "almost-free" of which we speak refers to the fact that you have to give them your email address: only a minor drag when the payoff is this good. "Slow Burn" strides in on some razory slide guitar and settles into the sort of uptempo strummer upon which The Henry Clay People has built its reputation. What is handy is that in this day and age of gizmos and whatzitz the band has created (or more accurately, Topspin has created for the band) a tasty little embed/widget/black magic devil soul stealer so you can cough up your address right here in the box below rather than surf around to their site to look for the thingy. So yeah, there's a black box below, put your email in it, get some free rock and roll music. We reviewed Somewhere On The Golden Coast here in May. The Henry Clay People are in the middle of a tour with Silversun Pickups and Against Me! that continues through early August; inspect all the pending dates here.

>> Other thing to watch for No. 1: we'll be giving away on Twitter (follow us @clickyclicky) Wednesday night a Pernice Brothers prize pack that includes a t-shirt, tote bag and, of course, the band's very solid new release Goodbye, Killer. Michael Piantigini reviewed the record here in June.

>> Other thing to watch for No. 2: we've been back and forth with a publicist about Clicky Clicky being one of a bunch of sites hosting viewings of the forthcoming Mogwai movie "Burning." It appears the movie will be released to selected theaters and for sale in late August with a companion album Special Moves: Live In Brooklyn, NY 2009. If things work out you'll be able to screen the movie at Clicky Clicky sometime before this month is out. If you prefer to see "Burning" in a proper movie house and you live in Boston, you can see it at the Brattle Theater Aug. 28. The film will screen in a number of additional North American cities in August and September, and all the dates are posted here.

July 10, 2010

We Will Tell You These Things About Sky Larkin And Its New Album And Hey How About Some Songs

[PHOTO CREDIT: Liam Henry] We're certainly not breaking news here, especially since the record leaked earlier this month, but it is important to note that Leeds-based indie trio Sky Larkin will release next month its brilliant sophomore set Kaleide. The full-length is not to be confused with the free Kaleide EP the band released in May and is still offering for free download right here; the EP includes the title track, a demo version of the new tune "Spooktacular," and an acoustic version of "Matador," a standout track from Sky Larkin's 2009 full-length debut The Golden Spike.

Kaleide the album is packed front to back with wonderfully realized and deftly arranged guitar pop. The new set was produced by John Goodmanson, who also worked on Los Campesinos!' exceptional 2010 collection Romance Is Boring, and there is a heightened sophistication to Kaleide as far as the compositions and production are concerned that we expect is due at least in part to Mr. Goodmanson. The one-two punch of the opening cuts "Still Windmills" (to be released as a single in the UK August 2) and the title track is undeniable; we are embedding streams of both below. Wichita Recordings will release Kaleide Aug. 9 and you can pre-order it in any of six packings at Sky Larkin's web site right here.

Sky Larkin - Still Windmills

Sky Larkin - Kaleide

July 9, 2010

Be Prepared: Superchunk | On The Mouth [Remastered Reissue] | 17 August

Oh, On The Mouth, how we love you so, ever since we borrowed you from the cool quiet girl on the next cinder block-walled freshman hall over with the coal black-dyed hair and taped you, which girl we secretly credited for the huge gift of turning us on to Superchunk in the spring of 1993. Many, many years later we learned that all along it was our friend Ken's record, and so Ken deserves the credit of pointing us toward Superchunk, which in turn pointed us in the direction of myriad North Carolina bands as well known as Archers Of Loaf or as obscure as Finger. Because of their support slot on the final Replacements tour we were familiar with The Connells first, but their records sounded increasingly tame as we delved deeper and deeper into the heavier and weirder sounds emanating from the somewhat ominously monikered area known as The Triangle. We consider On The Mouth a perfect record; our only quibble is that the amazing, top-10-songs-of-all-time-list, would-be title track was left off the record and included only as a B-side to the "Mower" single.

Merge will reissue On The Mouth, Superchunk's third album, Aug. 17; the same day the venerable label also reissues a remastered version of its stunning, Albini-recorded sophomore set No Pocky For Kitty. That album's opening three cuts may be the best three opening cuts on any record ever. The two records will be available on vinyl with download coupon, on CD and digitally. Both records are already streaming in full for a limited time at the Merge store here and here respectively. If you don't yet own these records, well, we feel sorry for you. Really, we do. You can't live your life that way. Merge wants to help, and is offering a teaser MP3 of the lead track of No Pocky For Kitty, which we're linking to below. Superchunk issues its first new record in nine years, Majesty Shredding, Sept. 14.

Superchunk -- "Skip Steps 1 & 3" -- No Pocky For Kitty (Remastered Reissue)
[right click and save as]
[pre-order No Pocky For Kitty here and On The Mouth here]

Superchunk: Internerds | MySpace | YouTube | Flickr

July 7, 2010

Footage: The Books' "A Cold Freezin' Night"

Via CrashArts' Twitter feed this AM. Record review to come. Local readers can see The Books at the Solid Sound Festival in August or at The Somerville Theater in October.

July 6, 2010

Today's Hotness: Museum Mouth, Pixies

>> Museum Mouth's "Outside" is 117 seconds of indie-punk perfection. Tucked into the middle of the Southport, NC-based trio's solid, self-released full-length Tears In My Beer, the tune leads with the increasingly trendy surf guitar and throbbing drums. "Outside" distinguishes itself, however, with a sing-alongy, bouncing chorus of apologies that recalls the great sounds of the Pacific Northwest underground, circa 1995. Museum Mouth intends to spend most of this month touring, although the itinerary it has posted still looks in need of some filling out. But you can catch then Saturday in Brooklyn (or can you? the date disappeared from the band's MySpazz) and later in the month back in North Carolina; inspect the full slate of dates at Museum Mouth's MySpace dojo right here. Tears In My Beer was released in March.

Museum Mouth -- "Outside" -- Tears In My Beer
[right click and save as]
[buy Tears In My Beer from the band right here for only five bucks]

>> We highly recommend the book "Fool The World: The Oral History of a Band Called Pixies." We were wary of reading another oral history of an indie rock act after finding the Replacements oral history "The Replacements: All Over But The Shouting" very, uh, unsatisfying. But "Fool The World" succeeds remarkably, we think because the quality of the sources is so much better. Where in the 'Mats book most of the band was unwilling to give interviews (founding guitarist Bob Stinson, of course, died 15 years ago), "Fool The World," published in 2006, has all of the Pixies present and accounted for. But better still, there are label folks, tour managers and promoters -- the extremely affable Marc Geiger, in particular, with whom we used to occasionally chat during our reporting days -- who all offer valuable and interesting insights into the rise and fall and rise again of the now legendary and reformed Pixies. However, what we liked most about the book was the very thorough history it provides of Fort Apache, the studio -- actually a series of studios -- where many early Pixies recordings (not to mention recordings by Dinosaur Jr., Radiohead, Uncle Tupelo and Buffalo Tom) were made. Buy "Fool The World" from Amazon right here. And speaking of Pixies, we'd be remiss if we didn't point out that for a limited time Bradley's Almanac is giving away a recording of the quartet's Nov. 28, 2009 Boston performance of Doolittle right here.

July 2, 2010

The Youth Are Getting Restless: Young Adults Plot Debut LP

It's only half over, but 2010 has been a busy year for Allston, Mass.-based indie upstarts Young Adults. After forming late in 2009, the trio quickly captured and released an echoey, careening fuzzfest of a demo, and this month the act plans to head back into the studio to record a full-length already carrying the working title Black Hole. The planned full-length will be issued on a date to be determined digitally and in a limited edition of 500 vinyl LPs by Prague-based promotion and label concern AMDISCS. The sessions for Black Hole are being helmed by Justin Pizzoferrato, who has worked previously in some capacity recording records by alt-rock gods Dinosaur Jr. and Sonic Youth. The recording will take place at Esthudio, the same studio where the Young Adults demo was tracked by Dan Gonzalez early this year. The band's arc is definitely on the rise and we wanted to check in with guitarist Chris, bassist Demitri and drummer Kurt for their perspectives on where they're heading and what their hopes are for the new record.
Clicky Clicky: It seemed like the demo was well received. Were you pleased with how it went over with fans? To the extent you had any expectations at all, were they met?

Chris (guitar, vocals): Yeah, we made a racket and people liked it. I'm glad.

Demitri (bass/vox): The main purpose of the demo was to declare our existence as a band, to make some sort of audible shout against the clamor of all the new bands trying to communicate something relevant, or perhaps in a way that is relevant. It was our opportunity to sublimate our somewhat perverted obsession with guitar music by exposing our own collective interpretation of it. So, when the demo received some reviews that basically spit back all of the stuff we spit into it, I can honestly say that I felt somewhat self-affirmed. Some people "get it" I suppose.

Kurt (drums): I think we can all say that we are very pleased with how the demo went over with the small but growing group of fans that we have. It is always pretty rad to have someone tell you that they put one of your songs on their running mix or walking mix. It means people are really digging our music which is just great. I think we have a lot of pride with what we have accomplished and what we are doing. Pair that with all the good blogging and reaction we get from crowds, I would say that almost all of our expectations have been met. We obviously have raised our own expectations and hope to fulfill those.

CC: Tell us a little but about the planned recording sessions in July. How many songs do you hope to get down? Is the goal to get an album's worth of material? Did you learn anything from recording the demo that will help you through the process next month?

Chris: It's a loose concept album and we're shooting for 11 songs with ambient instrumentals somewhere in there to make the album flow. We want a real LP, not a collection of singles. I'm looking forward to overdubs and more room for sonic candy.

Demitri: We are actually recording at Esthudio, which is where we recorded our demo. It’s a really nice home studio in Brighton, MA run by Dan Gonzales and Jeremy Mendacino (guitarist and vocalist of Pretty & Nice). We felt really comfortable in that space because we're friends with the engineers there and the space is cozy and warm, as opposed to an austere, expensive studio that might make us feel stressed or pressed for time. Our friend Mike Caulo, local management and booking dude, recommended that we get in contact with Justin Pizzoferrato about recording our record. After discovering that he had worked on recent Sonic Youth and Dinosaur Jr. records it became instantly clear that we wanted him to help us craft this thing. It’s exciting.

Kurt: I think we learned a lot about recording from our demo, really that art should never be rushed. We recorded 5 songs in one day! I think given the circumstances we put out a great demo and I cannot wait to see what we can do with more time...

CC: It looks like there will be a different engineer for the sessions next month? Any particular reason?

Demitri: We like what Dan G did with the demo. That man is really a savior for us. Whenever we’re in a crunch when it comes to recording, equipment or live sound, he is usually there to extend some degree of help. We are just enticed by the idea of fresh perspective on the 12 inch, especially one that helped to craft Sonic Youth and Dinosaur Jr. records. I apologize for my unabashed love for those bands.

Chris: We contacted Justin P and he immediately was enthusiastic. Based on his experience working with some of our core influences, it seemed like a very fortunate opportunity that we couldn't really pass up.

Kurt: I think this is just an opportunity someone should never pass up. It's very humbling and exciting. It will be interesting to see how Justin P. interprets ours music and the direction he will take it. I think we just wanted a new perspective on our music and see how it goes from there.

CC: Do you plan to self-release whatever comes out of the planned sessions, or has a label expressed interest in getting involved?

Demitri: AMDISCS reached out to us a few months ago about putting out our next release. The same people involved with the label have a blog called All Everyone United, based out of Prague, that promotes somewhat esoteric music projects. After they posted our demo they e-mailed me about the possibility of putting out our first record. Initially I was somewhat sketched. I sat there thinking, “what could a bunch of dudes from Prague possibly want with us?” After chatting with one of the founders of the label on the internet for a while I began to loosen up and really dig those guys. He was telling me about this fest he’s running in July called Creepy Teepee featured bands like Vivian Girls, Male Bonding and Toro y Moi. We shoot the shit about bands fairly consistently. Anyway, they’re solid dudes. We're stoked to be working with them.

CC: I see you'll be playing the Deep Heaven Now festival in August. How did that come about? Any other local shows on the horizon?

Demitri: Jinsen Liu who sings and plays guitar in 28 Degrees Taurus invited us. I’ve seen him around at shows in the Boston area for years so we’ve come to know each other that way. About a month ago he explained that he liked the new band I was playing in and invited us.

Chris: Jinsen is really dedicated to celebrating Boston music, and he is a huge fan of our sound. He thought that we would be a good change-up in the prominently shoegaze/psych fest. I think we might be the most aggressive band on the bill, which is never really a bad thing. As for other shows, we are also playing our friend's birthday gig on August 12th at O'Briens in Allston. His name is Omar and he is one big, beautiful man.

Demitri: We’re trying to stay focused on making this record everything we want it to be. It’d be nice to get invited to play NYC or some neighboring states in August though...

CC: I recall in the interview on WERS you were sort of weighing your options about touring outside of the Boston area. Any plans firming up to take the show on the road?

Demitri: AMDISCS was talking about having us come out to Europe for a little over a month and doing a US tour as well. We’ll see how things roll.

Chris: It's all a matter of resources and organization at this point. Once we're ready, we will let everyone know.

Young Adults' "Let Us Out" from the band's 2010 demo

Young Adults: Internerds | MySpace | YouTube | Flickr

08.07 -- Precinct -- Somerville, Mass. (early set)
08.12 -- O'Brien's -- Allston, Mass.