June 25, 2012

Today's Hotness: Markus Mehr, Joey Fourr, Eagulls

Markus Mehr -- On

>> Although Clicky HQ typically focuses on matters guitar and pop -- whatever that means these days -- we also enjoy the kaleidoscopic world of electronic music, and we're endeavoring to re-engage with it editorially after some time away. We've warmly received the new full-length from Augsburg, Germany-based ambient electronic artist Markus Mehr. Out July 17th on Hidden Shoal Recordings, On is Mr. Mehr's third record working under his own name; it is filled with immaculately constructed instrumentals, appointed with imaginative instrumentation and illuminating samples, that are as soothing as they are transporting. While much non-"pop" electronic music is rooted firmly in repetition, Mehr impresses with his ability to proffer a different approach to his craft with each song here. Lead single "Flaming Youth" doesn't develop dramatically, with its buzzing stereo entrance and a locked-groove horn sample instead steadily exhaling and inhaling across seven minutes. The intro evokes the summertime sounds of a busy bug zapper, before settling into a lush and beautiful motif that recalls the Canadian-metropolitan beauty of certain Broken Social Scene instrumentals. The real gems of On are the one-two punch at the close of the record. The aptly titled "Monks On The Beach" presents an ethereal chant smothered with static and multiple tracks of childish conversation tied together with a subtle, distorted bass guitar pulse. The song builds to the massive finale "Tunnels," itself a gradually swelling behemoth. Chirping phasing sounds give way to a persistent three-chord piano figure that suddenly yields to a series of gargantuan distorted piano slams. With each strike Mehr subtly tweaks the fuzz with flanges and clipping until the tempo climaxes and the song implodes. Like a lot of the best artists within this genre attracting wider audiences (Fennesz, Eluvium and the great William Basinski to name a few), Mehr is able to infuse his art with cool effortlessness and power sufficient to hold a mirror to the listener's soul with a series of patient epiphanies. Buy On from Hidden Shoal right here and download "Flaming Youth" via the embed below. -- Edward Charlton

>> Given the great degree to which we've enjoyed the music the label puts out (seriously, have you heard this?), it is surprising we're only just now mentioning Art Is Hard's delightful biweekly 5" Pizza Club single series (each pizza-printed CD comes in a limited physical edition of ONE in a handmade pizza box). One recent track from the series has burrowed particularly deeply into the Clicky Clicky hive mind, the lightly psychedelic single "Cross Dresser" from Joey Fourr, a nom de rock of Joseph Prendergast, fronter of English alt-rockers Tubelord. The single is a galloping indie rocker with a trampled lead falsetto vocal and very cool production flourishes. Starting with a dance floor-ready electronic beat and distorted rhythm guitars, the tune showcases an insistent lead riff that repeatedly crops up throughout. And what a lead it is, effectively winning the award for the "What Instrument Is Making That Weird Sound?" category. Like some sort of hell-bent whistling, the genius of "Cross Dresser" is in how hard it is to place the source material. Is that a maniacal guitar? A broken synthesizer? The lone physical manifestation of "Cross Dresser" is of course sold out, but the song will appear in/on an upcoming Joey Fourr zine/EP titled How To Buy Happiness from Art Is Hard, so stay tuned. The Pizza Club series is worth following not just for the quality of the tunes offered, but also the sheer generosity of a label that is so willing to give away quality tunes twice a month. We're currently unable to make the embed of "Cross Dresser" work, so make certain to do yourself a favor and get the track for free right here. -- Edward Charlton

>> Leeds-based rockers Eagulls recently announced a self-titled 12" vinyl EP for release July 16th on the Sexbeat Records imprint whose lead track "Coffin" is a unabashed, collar-grabbing, big-guitar anthem. Like the critically acclaimed newcomers Iceage, Eagulls top precise drumming and hotly-recorded, progressive guitars with classic punk yelping, all on display here with "Coffin," an embed of which is below. The opening guitar riff sets things up with an inviting and detailed flange that falsely advertises as a Catherine Wheel song before the rhythm section snaps listeners to attention. The self-described "progressive punks" would seem to be part of a rising European scene of tough yet intellectual rockers that borrow as much from America's post-hardcore heritage as their own dreamier and excogitated indie pedigree. And perhaps the song is a narrative for this generation of European indie bands: with a crumbling EU economy, mass unemployment and other tensions continually pervading every facet of life, what's a young person to do but sit in their room and come to terms with the fact that it's a different world than was promised, much as Leeds' post-punk godfathers Gang Of Four did three decades ago. The Eagulls EP comes on green vinyl and features a poster drawn by the band themselves. Order direct from the label here. -- Edward Charlton

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