May 3, 2012

Today's Hotness: Johnny Foreigner, Veronica Falls, Hallelujah The Hills

Johnny Foreigner's Arcs Across The City

>> In a surprise announcement Sunday, Birmingham, England-based noise-pop titans Johnny Foreigner announced it has expanded its core group to a quartet, and that longtime collaborating visual artist and sometime accompanist Lewes Herriot is now an official member of the band. Mr. Herriot's art has graced every Johnny Foreigner release since its stunning debut EP Arcs Across The City [review] was issued in November 2007. There's no news as to how Mr. Herriot will make his first musical mark with the band on a recording, but Johnny Foreigner's best of 2011 full-length Johnny Foreigner vs. Everything [review] is poised for re-release as a double LP this summer and Mr. Herriot will certainly appear with the band during touring that will coincide with that release. Of course, musical collaboration between the former trio and Herriot is not without precedent: devoted fans will recall video footage of Lewes performing the second guitar part to the show-stopping conclusion to the crowd-pleaser "Salt, Pepa and Spindarella" (the YouTube of which, of course, we can't find now). We know you haven't uncrossed your fingers since we requested you do same about a year ago, but keep those digits twisted in hopes the mighty Johnny Foreigner will make it to America for some live dates once the double LP is out. In the meantime, how about you stream "The House Party Scene Is Killing You?" It's the b-side to "Our Bipolar Friends," which was the first single whose art Lewes designed, yeh?

>> After a delightful Slumberland debut last year, Veronica Falls are back with a new 7" on the storied label this month. Like most everything else this band has concocted to date, "My Heart Beats" [no embed available, so click that] is a great slice of revivalist indie-pop, original in its composition, yet evocative of classic influences. The London-based four-piece are presumably at work on a follow-up to the self-titled 2011 debut, and the new A-side suggests a move away from the Velvet Underground-inspired strumming of songs like "Come On Over" and across the noise-pop spectrum to the sounds of mid-'80s My Bloody Valentine. Happily, Veronica Falls hit the nail on the head, with a a great take on the sugary, all-too-rare, uptempo MBV songs that directly preceded Isn't Anything (think "Thorn" or "Drive It All Over Me"). They wisely bring the vocals up a bit in the mix to maintain the tune's momentum, while showcasing satisfying co-ed counter melodies in the chorus. Add to this a few superlative guitar breakdowns during the intro and bridge, both reminiscent of the simple, yet effective note bending of Methodrone-era Brian Jonestown Massacre. Could we ask for anything more? Veronica Falls have succeeded in creating a pleasant, collectible release that will tide over fans that await the next LP. Purchase the single here. -- Edward Charlton

>> Mark your calenders. Come May 22nd, the world shall receive the third full-length from Boston's Hallelujah The Hills, No One Knows What Happens Next; the set is already available for pre-order on the group's bandcamp page via Discrete Pageantry Records. We've previously gushed about the septet here, and have listened along as the act earned treasured-band status among many. The pre-released single "Get Me In A Room" expands the legacy and lays a firm foundation for the forthcoming collection. This clear and crisp production opens with a choice four-note bass line that lurches into a strong tom-driven groove appointed with sharp, downbeat guitar notes backed by trebly piano. Later there's a guitar solo the way a solo should be; rough and piercing, with plectrum plucks audibly emphasizing the song's desperation and release. The clarity and purposefulness of each hit and string reminds this reviewer of scenemates Age Rings and their focused musical ruminations on a musician's lifestyle enshrined in beasts like "Rock and Roll Is Dead." Atop Hallelujah The Hills' impressive instrumental work rests Ryan Walsh's speak-sing vocals, which succesfully forge attractive and slightly absurd lyrical combinations. "Get Me In A Room" showcases a degree of craftsmanship that not only results in a sincere and personal whole but also ensures that the forthcoming album will have lasting replay value. Catch the band on one of their East Coast tour dates listed here. -- Edward Charlton

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