August 8, 2012
Today's Hotness: She, Sir, Velcro, Quicksand, Occurrence
>> For most music fans, there are usually one or two bands so beloved and pure that with each new second of recorded sound they offer, the results feel like a lovingly wrapped gift from an old friend. Here at Clicky Clicky HQ, one of those groups is Austin's thoughtful and restless She, Sir, which is touting a new, free digital single "You Could Be Tiger," available here. Like most long-term relationships, a fair amount of patience is required in order for things to bloom, and the quartet -- founded by the duo of Russell Karloff and M. Grusha -- are no exception. Unconcerned with churning out rushed laptop sessions or pointless album filler, She, Sir is devoted to the cult of the song, fervently, almost spiritually, calibrating and exploring tones, drum patterns and complex academic harmonies in order to perfectly realize their psychedelic mini-suites. Schedules, studio money and the disposable hustle of contemporary indie rock be damned; there are more timeless motives at play here. "You Could Be Tiger" is the best summation of the band's approach yet, highlighting She, Sir's talent for pounding instrumental passages and quick verses and refrains in less than two-and-a-half minutes. Like the material on 2010's Yens EP [review], "You Could Be Tiger," which will not be included on a planned LP, further refines the band's ability to mix its established avant tendencies (dream-pop textures, complicated time signatures and unique alternate tunings) with '60s-inspired psych-pop songwriting. Along with the band's usual delicate analogue production, the highlight here is the gorgeous 12-string acoustic melody and outro solo which repurposes jangle rock touchstones like The Byrds and later, The Rain Parade and mid-period Lilys. It’s all just further testament to how this band, like their hero Brian Wilson, exudes the prodigal coolness of a visionary lost in a room full of instruments, in search of some greater truth. The She, Sir web site notes that new singles from the planned album will materialize later in the year, so here's hoping that the presents keep on coming. -- Edward Charlton
>> It's time to acknowledge that there is simply something in the water in Australia and New Zealand to account for that corner of the globe's glut of quality guitar-pop songwriters producing innocent, unpretentious and glistening nuggets of indie pop, year in and year out. The Clean, The Go-Betweens, The Lucksmiths, Eddy Current Suppression Ring, the list goes on. And now add to it newcomers Velcro, a Melbourne-based trio that trades in mellow and ramshackle strummers of the Aussie variety. As much is clear based on the strength of the act's forthcoming debut EP Dreamboat, due Aug. 13 on cassette from the new London-based Njord imprint. Velcro bucks today's typical indie-rock production trends by featuring a very dry run-through of their occasionally Pavement-esque songs. The snare drum is front and center, with no affectations. The electric guitars cut through with plenty of attack and each string in the chords can be heard individually. And fronter Curtis Wakeling’s warbly Grant McLennan-by-way-of-Adam Green vocals offer up pure sincerity. Title track "Dreamboat" opens the EP with an up-front, diving female vocal hook, but the tune hinges on the descent into the second part of the chord progression, where things go from plucky and melodic to punchy and throbbing; the repeated low chords approximate a snap of the senses after a mid-afternoon daydream. The Dreamboat EP is available from Released By Njord for four pounds, and you can click through the Bandcamp embed below to purchase. Fans who are wholly smitten may want to peruse Velcro's own Bandcamp page, which appears to feature a mess of additional songs. -- Edward Charlton
>> From the "This Is Awesome" department comes word that the kind folks at ShopRadioCast (and, in Canada, Dine Alone Records) will reissue post-hardcore standouts Quicksand’s 1993 masterpiece Slip. The re-release will be pressed onto crisp 180-gram vinyl in a limited edition of 1,500 pieces and will be available Sept. 11. Fans will be excited to learn that Quicksand's undeniable cover of The Smiths' "How Soon Is Now?," originally released as a b-side to the "Dine Alone" single, is included on the reissue. Domestic punters so inclined can choose between red-and-black or green-and-yellow swirled LPs (Dine Alone is selling the good ol’ black). And the whole she-bang is remastered! The blogosphere was set abuzz in June when the band reunited to play a one-off show for Revelation Records’ 25th anniversary. Now the band has just announced a show in Brooklyn for Sept. 25, the night after a previously announced date at Bowery Ballroom in Manhattan; Quicksand are also slated to perform in Los Angeles at FYF Fest in September. Is there more to come? We don't know, but we do know that fronter Walter Schreifels is very busy, and apparently too busy to release his hotly anticipated second solo record any time soon. In the meantime, pre-order Slip at ShopRadioCast and pass the wait by screaming "Head To Wall" in the car, because that's what this reviewer plans to do [I'd choose "Too Official." -- Ed.]. -- Edward Charlton
>> Cambridge, Mass.-based electronic concern Occurrence, the long-time musical outlet of playwright and deeply cool dude Ken Urban (who, among other things, indirectly introduced us to Superchunk in 1992), has officially annexed frequent collaborator Wayne S. Feldman into the band. Mr. Feldman's musical pedigree is both long and curious, but most recently he has helped Mr. Urban mix the last two Occurrence records and contributed guitar and sonics to the band's contribution to Clicky Clicky's Ride tribute compilation Nofuckingwhere, the track "Nowhere." Feldman also starred in the crushingly poignant, Jeff Stern-directed video for Occurrence's "Bleeder," which you can watch here. Mssrs. Urban and Feldman are currently writing and recording a new record, but you can stream their exquisitely dark take on "Nowhere" below.