October 27, 2010

Footage: Yuck's "The Base Of A Dream Is Empty"

We're loathe to post two videos in a row, but of course last night's tribute to Mr. Ruane was unplanned and certainly important. Today we have the video for London quartet Yuck's fantastic, shoegazey b-side "The Base Of A Dream Is Empty." The song is overdriven, melodic and a bit understated, but in a completely wonderful way; download the MP3 right here. "The Base Of A Dream Is Empty" will appear on the forthcoming "Georgia" single being released by Fat Possum in the U.S. Nov. 23 [pre-order!], and it also appears on the Rubber EP being released in the UK this coming Monday by The Pharmacy Recording Company, as we first wrote here earlier this month. Fat Possum intends to release in early 2011 Yuck's debut full-length recording, the title of which has not yet been disclosed.

October 26, 2010

October 25, 2010

Young Adults Record Release Show | Great Scott | 6 Nov.

Yes, we know you're going to go to Guided By Voices the night before, and you'll be in no shape Saturday night to think about being out. But this is a big deal show. Also on the bill are the hotly tipped Girlfriends, scene-makers Doomstar and Earthquake Party. That sounds like a recipe for a sell-out. Young Adults will be hyping the release of their snarling new 12" Black Hole, which is being issued by Prague-based AmDiscs. You've seen them rock basements, you've heard them unleash tsunamis of swear words on live radio. But you've never seen them play a record release show for Black Hole before. Be there.

Today's Hotness: Big Deal, Varsity Drag, The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart

Big Deal
>> We ignore about as many pitches in a day as breaths we inhale, but there are certain folks whose recommendations are lead-pipe cinches, and we got one of those cinchy pitches a few weeks ago about the fast-rising, London-based indie rock duo Big Deal. The pair, whose MySpace URL is charmingingly MySpace.com/WeAreABigDeal, flew onto the radar of the British rock press after only its second show, and Big Deal's debut single "Homework" b/w a cover of Big Star's "13" doesn't even street until 18 Nov. and is not yet available for pre-order. The single, incidentally, will be issued by London's Records Records Records, who you may recall recently issued the completely terrific Superman Revenge Squad EP Dead Crow Blues. Anyway, Big Deal is songwriters and guitarists Kacey Underwood and Alice Costelloe, and the pair's music sounds a fair amount like another hotly tipped London act, that being Yuck, which means Big Deal sounds like Yo La Tengo, in the best way possible.

"Homework" b/w "13" will be released in a limited vinyl edition with "hand finished" artwork (we don't know what that means, but yeah, awesome?), and both tracks are already streaming at the aforementioned MySpace along with three others. NME recently posted the smouldering strummer "Locked Up" as its track of the day, and we're taking the liberty of re-posting the track below because it is brilliant. Big Deal are apparently recording new material with Gordon Raphael, who aging hipsters may recollect was the producer of the early Strokes material; according to Wikipedia Mr. Raphael now works out of Urchin Studios in London.

Big Deal's "Homework," "13" and "Locked Up"

>> An update on the goings-on of hometown indie punk superheroes Varsity Drag is overdue. Sadly, drummer extraordinaire Josh Pickering has parted with the band. Word is -- well, actually we read it here -- that Mr. Pickering has been succeeded on the stool by a cat named Jonas Meyer, who is currently rehearsing with founding member Ben Deily and trusty bassist Lisa Marie Deily. And from the WTF file: Varsity Drag has been tapped to provide music for a forthcoming production of "Hamlet" being staged by an area theater company in 2011. No word what that music will sound like or whether it will be available for general consumption by non-theater goers. Varsity Drag's most recent release was the digital single "White Cat In A Snowstorm," a song originally written and released by UK punkers Ipanema. The song is slated to appear on a comp being concatenated by the Drag's UK label Boss Tunage, but no release date on the comp has been disclosed. Grab the track here or stream it below.

>> Dream pop phenoms The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart will release a sophomore full-length recording on Slumberland Records in March 2011. The album as yet has no title, but a first single, "Heart In Your Heartbreak," will be issued in November with an exclusive b-side. The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart's self-titled debut was released last year, as was the band's Higher Than The Stars EP. The New York-based quartet is on tour through the end of November and you can review all tour dates at the band's Myspace hacienda right here.

October 22, 2010

The Devil, The Hush Now And You

The Hush Now -- Please Mephistopheles

There is an element of camp, ever so slight, in The Hush Now's wonderful, new and Halloween-appropriate jam "Please Mephistopheles (Leave Me Alone)" that reminds us of the songs in "The Grinch Who Stole Christmas" or even "101 Dalmations." Singer and guitarist Noel Kelly indulges a grittier, bluesier vocal style throughout, which probably is what we're reacting to. Of course, one need not be overly familiar with Mr. Kelly and his background to know that he would have a number of good reasons to be singing this song in earnest. Which maybe is the trick and the treat: while listeners will likely respond to the seasonal aspect of "Please Mephistopheles (Leave Me Alone)," the fact is that Kelly likely damn well means it when he delivers lyrics like "I know your coming for me some way / Until that day I'll always be on the run."

Even the recording of the track met with some difficulties -- we can't recall exactly what Kelly relayed to us recently, but we think it was something to do with entire tracks from the recording getting zapped and having to be recorded at a new studio on short notice. Musically the song is another interesting turn for the increasingly formidable Boston-based quintet: it leads off with a reggae-esque lope and elsewhere cleverly conceals some terrific guitar effects in the periphery. The song got its live debut at the band's send-off, EP release show we attended early this month [photos]. The Hush Now has just returned from a quick strand of tour dates that took it out to Chicago, and it plays a CMJ showcase early today at the Knitting Factory in Brooklyn. The Hush Now released its Shiver Me Starships EP Sept. 28, and you can stream the whole shebang right here.

The Hush Now's "Please Mephistopheles (Leave Me Alone)"

October 21, 2010

YouTube Rodeo: Lilys' "Ginger" Live And Awesome

[Via Philebrity] Great indie rock song, or GREATEST indie rock song? We seriously ponder that. If Lilys leader Kurt Heasley hadn't also written the timeless and beautiful guitar dreamer "Claire Hates Me," or the entirety of the sublime full length Eccsame The Photon Band, it would be a slam dunk to call "Ginger" a crowning achievement. This clip was filmed in the '90s at Philadelphia's 3rd Street Jazz and Rock, which we believe has been defunct for many years. "Ginger" is the lead track on the now criminally out of print A Brief History Of Amazing Letdowns EP, which streeted in 1994. The rights to that EP, as well as Eccsame, apparently have disappeared into a legal vacuum left after Spin-Art Records folded, meaning legitimate reissues of these incredibly important records may never happen. Sad.

October 20, 2010

Today's Hotness: Captain Polaroid, The Answering Machine

Captain Polaroid
>> Devotees of lo-fi stalwart Captain Polaroid likely weren't expecting a shimmering shoegaze ballad with a convincingly Death Cab-esque vocal layered over it when they downloaded the Birmingham, England artist's recently issued Beat Nostalgia EP4. But that's what they got with a newly recorded version of "Jigsaw Of Planet Earth." Add in a spoken vocal track a la Michael Stipe in R.E.M.'s "Belong," and Captain Polaroid has turned out one of his most stirring tracks to date. All the more surprising because Mssr. Polaroid's brand of scrappy, home-recorded guitar pop tends to be more direct and dynamic. On "Jigsaw Of Planet Earth" a simple melody and punchy drum groove lay back and let the gorgeous guitar tone and tremelo effect breathe out and in and out and in, buoying the vocals on a dense curtain of guitars. We've embedded "Jigsaw Of Planet Earth" below; the original version -- a devastatingly sweet, whispery acoustic ballad -- appeared on Captain Polaroid's Pro Action Replay EP released in 2007 [stream it here]. You can stream the entire Beat Nostalgia EP4 here or download it here; it was released October 1. Captain Polaroid is now taking pre-orders for the Beat Nostalgia Surival Kit, a physical release that gathers two tracks from each of the five Beat Nostalgia EPs (there is as yet one more forthcoming) together with demos, a lyric book, badge, t-shirt transfer and various oddities, all for 10 pounds. Full details here.

Jigsaw of Planet Earth by Captain Polaroid

>> We've been waiting and waiting to finally have the time to tell you about the new single from Manchester, England-based indie rockers The Answering Machine. The tune is called "Animals" and it is available for free download from a Bandcamp page the quartet has erected here; a Soundcloud stream lurks below. A far cry from the scritchy, Strokes-channeling guitar pop of The Answering Machine's early days, "Animals" sounds as if it could have been lifted from the catalog of Swedish indie pop sensations Shout Out Louds. Although there is precedent for the soulful synth-pop in The Answering Machine's catalog: the closing track from the band's debut full-length Another City, Another Sorry [review here], "You Should Have Called," was more reserved than the rest of that album and drew heavily on '80s roller rink pop sounds. "Animals" will apparently be issued as part of a planned EP that will include a song rescued from the dustbin of the Another City, Another Sorry sessions called "A Courtyard;" the EP will likely be available through ITunes, according to this blog post from the band. As we reported here in August, The Answering Machine intends to issue its sophomore set Lifeline worldwide in early 2011. The band launches a short strand of tour dates across the U.K. tomorrow, and takes to the road in Europe next month. View all the tour dates here.

The Answering Machine - Animals

October 19, 2010

That Was The Show That Was: Greg Dulli with Craig Wedren | Brattle Theater

Greg Dulli -- Brattle Theatre, Cambridge, MA October 18, 2010
In the alternate universe that holds underground rock 'n' roll music in its loving embrace, there is the equivalent of a Great American Songbook. And in that songbook there are many, many tracks written by Greg Dulli. The former Afghan Whigs fronter, now helming Twilight Singers but performing largely acoustic last night with two sidemen, enthralled the fortunate packed into a sold-out, 235-capacity movie theater, sharing a career-spanning set that was only upstaged by the man's rapier wit. Dulli recounted having seen the film "Kiss Of The Spiderwoman" at the same theater on a date many years prior; offered comical excuses as to why he could not perform his nearly peerless song "The Killer;" called out an audience member for checking his email during a song; and was just generally hysterical throughout. The quote of the night, offered prior to a spirited rendition of the classic Twilight Singers jam "Forty Dollars," had to be this: "There are certain songs you can write any old time. Then there are certain songs you can only write when you’re really high on cocaine."

But the songs, oh the songs. Dulli offered timeless cuts including "Teenage Wristband" and "Follow You Down" from 2003's Twilight Singers set Blackberry Belle; "Summer's Kiss" from Afghan Whigs' 1996 epic Black Love; and at least one tune from a forthcoming Twilight Singers set expected to street in early 2011. Despite performing on acoustic guitars, with certain accompaniment from cello and violin provided by a cohort from New Orleans, the set's energy was high. Dulli performed for about 90 minutes and offered a final encore from behind an electric piano. We had never seen Dulli perform live before, and while we were disappointed to not experience "The Killer," the show was still a treat from start to finish. Check out the full set list right here, as snagged by the inimitable Bradley's Almanac.

Opening the evening was former (although he argued still current) Shudder To Think fronter Craig Wedren. Mr. Wedren makes his living now primarily (if not entirely) by writing songs for television and film. That's a far, far cry from the days when Shudder To Think was releasing music on the top-notch D.C. label Dischord Records. The only other time we'd seen Wedren perform was when his old band opened for Fugazi at City Gardens in Trenton, NJ in the summer of 1993; at the time Shudder To Think was out promoting its wonderful Get Your Goat record [buy it, it's awesome]. We lost touch with Shudder To Think once the act signed to a major label (there was a time when we were young and stupid and signing to a major was an unforgivable crime against the underground), so we were not familiar with the majority of the material Wedren performed with acoustic and electric guitar (looping and harmonizing against his own vocals, which was really terrific to watch) last night. But what we found particularly remarkable was that it seems Wedren has been able to preserve in his contemporary, "commercial" work a certain amount of the angularity and dissonance that made early Shudder To Think such a joy to hear.

Dulli's tour continues through late November and complete dates are listed here at the Summer's Kiss fan site. Wedren's stint on the road with Dulli ends Saturday, according to these dates posted at Wedren's web dojo.

Greg Dulli: Internerds | MySpace | YouTube | Flickr
Craig Wedren: Internerds | MySpace | YouTube | Flicker

October 16, 2010

YouTube Rodeo: Thunder Power's "Home Office"

Our confidence that Omaha-based Thunder Power would finally write another song we really like has finally been rewarded. Two years ago the quintet popped onto our radar with the superlative, Belle & Sebastian-esque strummer "Take A Hike" [video here]."Home Office" touts the same winning formula which pairs Kacynna Tompsett's affecting voice and able indie pop backing, and the track is from a split 10" the collective is promoting called Hearts Intersect. You can buy the EP from distributor Saddle Creek right here; the split -- which carries three songs from The 1959 Hat Company on the b-side -- was released in May by Slumber Party Records. In case you missed "Take A Hike" when it was all the rage in 2008, here's a stream scraped from SoundCloud. Thunder Power is currently on tour in the midwest and you can see the dates at the band's MySpace wigwam right here.

Thunder Power's "Take A Hike"

October 15, 2010

Today's Hotness: Johnny Foreigner, Mobius Band, Yuck

Johnny Foreigner -- You Thought You Saw A Shooting Star But Yr Eyes Were Blurred With Tears And That Lighthouse Can Be Pretty Deceiving With The Sky So Clear And Sea So Calm
Oh, the things we haven't had a chance to report during our very busy last several weeks. Let's catch up together, shall we?

>> Birmingham, England-based noise pop titans Johnny Foreigner are presently in the midst of their first full tour of North America (mostly the U.S.), where they've been supporting the truly terrific Los Campesinos! But the big news is the announcement of two releases on new label Alcopop! The first is an EP confoundingly titled You Thought You Saw A Shooting Star But Yr Eyes Were Blurred With Tears And That Lighthouse Can Be Pretty Deceiving With The Sky So Clear And Sea So Calm, and it contains six songs: "The Wind And The Weathervanes," "Who Needs Comment Boxes When You've Got Knives," "Elegy For Post Teenage Living (Parts 1 and 2)," "Robert Scargill Takes The Prize," "Harriet By Proxy" and "Yr Loved." Alcopop! will issue the EP in November in physicial and digital editions, but the EP is already available to North American ITunes shoppers [LINK] as a way to harness the hype the band hopes to generate during the current tour. The physical release of You Thought You Saw... will feature unique art for each unit shifted, which art is being crowdsourced from actual photos being submitted by fans. More deets about that right here. The second release Johnny Foreigner will do with Alcopop is a split single with new labelmates Stagecoach. The split, limited to 500 copies and carrying a Nov. 15 release date, features each band performing one of their own songs as well as one song by the other act. Johnny Foreigner's contributions are the new track "Tru Punx" and Stagecoach's "Good Luck With Your 45;" Stagecoach turn in what is apparently an amazing acoustic version of Johnny Foreigner's "Salt, Peppa and Spinderella" and the new track "Not Even Giles (... Would Say We'll Be OK)." The two bands tour the UK from 18 November through 11 December, and you can see all the tour dates here at ThisIsFakeDIY. Pre-orders for the Johnny Foreigner EP will be taken imminently; the JoFo/Stagecoach split will be sold on the bands' tour, but we have it on good authority there will be some copies stocked in the Alcopop! store and Banquet Records is already doing pre-orders as well.

>> Reformed post-rockers/electropop geniuses Mobius Band officially announced its hiatus. This is sad, in a rented hatchback. The very fine trio has released to date two excellent full length recordings and a seemingly endless number of EPs, and we're sad to see the band taking an indefinite break, although that break has been going on for what seems like a couple years at this point, so it is not exactly a shock. Each band member continues pursuing musical interests. Guitarist Ben Sterling's Cookies project already has a 10" record on offer with the tracks "Summer Jam" b/w "Throw A Parade." The a-side sounds very much of a piece with the Heaven-era Mobius Band stuff, and features a very solid female vocalist whose identity we don't know. Both tracks can be downloaded or streamed at the Cookies web hacienda right here. Ah, what the hell, here's the link to the .zip file, have at it, music aficionadoes. Cookies will make its live debut Nov. 5 in Manhattan at Mercury Lounge. Mobius Band drummer Noam Schatz -- seriously, the drummingest mofo you will ever meet, by the way -- has a new project LOLFM and an album of electropop gems titled We Are Its Waves freely downloadable from Bandcamp right here. Bassist Peter Sax also has free rock on offer under the nom de rock Ladies And Gentlemen; check out "Up To Us" here and "What You Could" here. All of these new musics have their charms, but we certainly harbor hopes the trio will be reconstituted at some later date. Mobius Band, we salute you.

>> Superlative upstart indie rockers Yuck, who make their US debut in Boston at Paradise Rock Club next Wednesday who recently cancelled their planned US dates (see comment), have signed with Fat Possum. The label will release the London-based act's full-length debut -- as-yet untitled -- in early 2011; the set will be issued in Europe by The Pharmacy Recording Company around the same time. Preceding the full-length will be a US single on Fat Possum for Yuck's "Georgia" b/w "The Base Of A Dream Is Empty." The single will be issued Nov. 23; fans, of course, know that "Georgia" was previously issued as a single in the U.K. in March. U.K. fans have a new, 12" Yuck single to look forward to as well: "Rubber" b/w "The Base Of A Dream Is Empty" and "Dark Magnet" will be released Nov. 1 on The Pharmacy Recording Company. If you haven't yet heard "Georgia" in all of its Yo La Tengo-esque deliciousness, feast your ears on this.

Yuck -- "Georgia" -- "Georgia" b/w "The Base Of A Dream Is Empty"
[right click and save as]
[pre-order the single from Fat Possum right here]

October 14, 2010

YouTube Rodeo: Sun Airway's "Put The Days Away"

This clip, directed by Ricardo Rivera of Klip Collective, makes us miss Philadelphia. The song is from rising electropop duo Sun Airway, whose debut Nocturne of Exploded Crystal Chandelier will be released on Dead Oceans Oct. 26 [as we reported here in August]. The song and the video are slow burners, with a big payoff at the end. You can pre-order Nocturne of Exploded Crystal Chandelier from Dead Oceans on CD and LP right here. That's something you should do. After the requisite CMJ performances, Sun Airway is mounting a thorough U.S. tour from Oct. 26, and you can review all of those tour dates at the band's web dojo right here. The duo performs locally at the Middle East Downstairs Nov. 18 with Bear In Heaven and Twin Shadow.

Put the Days Away by Sun Airway

October 13, 2010

Review: Soars | Self-titled [MP3]

Something that may be more surprising than how many excellent records from up-and-comers have hit racks in 2010 is how many excellent shoegaze and dreampop records have been released during the same period of time (Tears Run Rings, The Hush Now, Wild Nothing, that new Yuck jam, and on and on and on). And even more surprising than that is the variety of solutions we're hearing to the shoegaze equation. Time was the Choc/Van/Straw of shoegaze influences (that is, My Bloody Valentine/Slowdive/Ride) were so pervasive that the output of those acts' musical disciples did not stray far from familiar stylistic medians. Fewer still saw fit to map new territories in shoegaze. Which is all the more reason why Soars' self-titled debut, released tomorrow on La Société Expéditionnaire, is so thrilling.

The Lehigh Valley, PA-based quartet (augmented by two samplers) incorporates into its eight-song debut the breathy ambience of Cocteau Twins and, occasionally, the aggressively stunned energy of hugely under-rated Slumberland act Whorl. Canned percussion, Brianna Edwards' vocals drowning in reverb, and echoey guitars are certainly nothing new, but Soars sets itself apart by tinting its music with gothic overtones -- we're thinking specifically here of the trudging chant "Escape On High" that anchors the center of the record -- which we expect only remain in fashion with committed goth or darkwave aficionadoes. It's not quite the sound of depthless (albeit devotedly melodic) dread, but it ain't exactly "Shiny Happy People" either. The juxtaposition of the emotive singing and melodies against fairly minimal programmed beats in the standout song "The Sun Breaks Every Way But One" communicates a feeling of spiritual drift. The verse of the wonderfully narcotic "Ditches" channels Joy Division's towering "Transmission," but Soars lives up to its name with its songs surging, hazy chorus. In all, the foursome's debut is a beautiful, formidable statement of purpose.

Soars has several appearances booked over the next month, including two appearances at the annual CMJ music confabulation in New York; full dates are posted below. While Soars was issued domestically earlier this month, the record will not see release in the U.K. and Europe until December.

Soars - Throw Yourself Apart

Soars - Figurehead
[Buy Soars from La Société Expéditionnaire right here]

10.22 -- Bar Matchless (CMJ) -- Brooklyn, NY
10.23 -- Cake Shop (CMJ) -- New York, NY
11.03 -- Garfield Artworks -- Pittsburgh, PA
11.27 -- Johnny Brenda's -- Philadelphia, PA

Soars: Internerds | MySpace | YouTube | Flickr

October 5, 2010

YouTube Rodeo: Ringo Deathstarr's "Imagine Hearts"

Song from the mighty Ringo Deathstarr's forthcoming debut full-length Colour Trip, which (as we reported here in May) is slated for release this fall now slated for release in Feb. 2011 on Club AC30 out of the UK. Vinyl Junkie will release the record in Japan.

October 1, 2010

Rock Over Boston: Roger Waters' The Wall | The Gahden | 9.30.2010

Roger Waters' The Wall
I could not betray my suburban classic rock upbringing by turning down a freebie for this one. Budding music nerds and other social outcasts of multiple generations have spent their afternoons with headphones on thinking Pink Floyd gets it, man - they think the world is as fucked up as I do! Though that really only explains a subset of the people that has given The Wall the staying power to fill arenas again 30 years later. Some people just like getting high, hearing big guitar solos, and having a night out.

The nostalgia factor is an inescapable part of this whole exercise, and it has the rather profound effect of undermining the larger messages that Roger Waters claims to be trying to get across. The part of the story about the division between him and his audience takes a bit of a back seat (he seems to be having too much fun, actually, to really get into that) so the anti-war message is front and center in this year's tour. And there are some truly moving moments of the show where fan-submitted pictures of loved ones lost in conflicts all over the world and throughout history were projected on the screen and on the wall, as well as the well-known viral clips of the daughter being surprised in class of her father's return home from Iraq and the leaked footage of the US helicopter attacks on innocents on the ground there. But that latter clip was shown at the end of a song (er, maybe it was "Goodbye Blue Sky?"), so it meant that it coincided with rousing cheers. "Mother," of course, has the leading line "Mother should I trust the government?" which probably didn't need the line "no fucking way" projected on the wall to get the cheers/jeers it got (in fall 2010, it was also not at all clear who people are jeering. Are they booing Obama? Are they tea partiers? Or just old-school anti-establishment hippies?).

But this is all taking place in an arena named for a bank and covered in corporate logos that people are paying upwards of hundreds of dollars to see. This Dwight D. Eisenhower quote got big play on the wall late in the show:
Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.
...which is great and everything, but how about when water's four bucks a bottle and t-shirts are $60? This is the part where I try to resist saying "welcome to the machine, indeed." (oops.)

That aside (sorta), how was the show? A recent Rolling Stone cover story about the tour was headlined "Waters Reinvents The Wall." Well, not really. In fact, I was looking through the inserts in the live album released in 2000 of the original 1980-81 Wall shows, and was surprised at how closely the production seems to follow the original shows. Presumably the technology now allows for a somewhat easier execution of it, with better quality projections (and one wonders how much easier it is to get away with pre-recorded music as well).

So, you know the deal - if ever there was a genius ready-made arena rock concept, The Wall is certainly it. It was all there: the schoolmaster puppet (photo above), the Gerald Scarfe animations, the pig. They built the wall up in front of the band in the first half, the band played behind, above, and in front of it in the second half. Then it came tumbling down. It does make for neat and ambitious arena rock theater spectacle. That was more than enough for most people. There were soaring guitar solos and the occasional solid groove as the wall went up. The show's only misfire was when Waters addressed the crowd to introduce "Mother." With a show meant to be immersive, this sucked you right out.

So, yes, there were moments where I was able to forget all of the above and be the kid with headphones on again and appreciate the experience. Though that brings up another point: The Wall, for me at least, was always sort of an insular, claustrophobic/agoraphobic experience to some extent. So, while it lends itself so easily to the big stage, it is somewhat at odds with this too.

Cynical? Sure, but I'm judging it on its own terms and giving Waters the benefit of the doubt that he means it when he says this all still means something to him. Does it? Does it mean anything to the audience anymore?

-Michael Piantigini

Roger Waters: Intertubes