October 26, 2012
Today's Hotness: Lilys, Popstrangers, Burning Alms
>> Lilys is a Clicky Clicky All-Time Top Five Band, so we get very worked up when the nomadic act, led by chameleonic mastermind Kurt Heasley, gets around to releasing new music. And finally, after almost seven years, we've got some: here comes Lilys' meandering pop masterpiece "Well Traveled Is Protest," one side of a split single being released by Virginia's Speakertree Records Nov. 13. You may recall Speakertree as the outfit that released White Laces' excellent full-length debut Moves this past summer [review here]. "Well Traveled Is Protest" opens with a simple ascending acoustic guitar, not surprising as the most recent Lilys live appearances have just featured Mr. Heasley and an acoustic guitar. The song, however, quickly starts adding layers -- a chunky beat, solemn organ tones, backing vocals, backwards guitar lines, something that sounds like marimba, lyrical imagery that is both concrete and fractal at the same time. It's an arresting pop creation of the highest order, the sort of thing you'd expect Syd Barrett could have created if he had had his head a little more together. Sonically the tune rests comfortably within the canon of the band's mid- and late-period work, somewhere between, say, the completely insane sole major label record The Three-Way and the stoned slackness of Precollections. Here's hoping the single is a harbinger of much more new Lilys music to come, as Heasley's works are all treasures. Pre-orders for "Well Traveled Is Protest" b/w "Comb My Hair," a tune by Brooklyn's Big Troubles, are being taken at Speakertree's blog right here, so click over and buy right after you click play on the embed below of the Lilys tune.
>> We'll say it again: there’s just something about New Zealand and Australian-bred guitar pop that is so well-conceived and realized we suspect some secret magic must be at work. Or, perhaps, it's a unique regional psyche that accounts for the antipodeans' rich heritage of deft, twee hooks and scraggly guitar anthems? Regardless, the highly regarded label label Flying Nun has been doing their illustrious thing for more than three decades now, and one of its previous signees, Popstrangers, are poised to extend the legacy with the Feb. 26, 2013 release of the appropriately titled Antipodes, via Carpark. Based on the preview track "Heaven," Carpark's Todd Hyman (who Clicky Clicky will forever insist on referring to as "former Wendyfix drummer") is about to release a brilliant record. "Heaven" launches with a treble-kicking blast of unidentifiable electric noise, and then dives into chunky power pop palm-muting. Fronter Joel Flyger’s soft, emotion-laden vocals slink in and out of the verses' swing. Then comes a grand slam of a chorus, in which Mr. Flyger compellingly loops the first part of each line. It’s a dreamy, pleasingly disorienting moment, one that recalls American space cadets All Natural Lemon And Lime Flavors and its nasally melodic approach. "Heaven" is a certified psych-pop hit that plays up Popstrangers' Kiwi roots. The trio enjoyed a successful run of appearances at this month's CMJ New Music Seminar in New York, and we look forward to a chance to see them should they make it up to Boston the next time they hit The States. Keep an eye here for pre-order info. "Heaven" is embedded below, clear your schedule because it is all you'll want to listen to for days. -- Edward Charlton
>> Birmingham, England-based indie punk giants Calories are not exactly publicity hounds, despite making a couple of our favorite records of the last five years or so [this one, this one]. Our recollection is the band's last full-length, 2010's excellent Basic Nature, was promoted almost entirely with cryptic tumblr posts. So it should be little surprise that a new side project, apparently comprised of Calories guitarist and vocalist John Biggs and drummer Tom Whitfield, surfaced about two weeks ago with no announcement whatsoever. The project is called Burning Alms, and a Google search tells us little beyond the fact that the name is probably a reference to the 2004 Papa M singles and b-sides compilation Hole Of Burning Alms. Confusing the matter further is the fact that a message posted to a Facebook event page for Burning Alms' only second-ever gig states that "Burning Alms are now now 3/3 of Calories EXCITING!!!" Burning Alms made its live debut a week ago; its second show was Tuesday. The timing of all of this is curious, as Calories just last month came out of hibernation to issue into the inter-ether the barn-burning new track "Summer's Not." So what the hell is going on? Why do we have two bands with the same dudes in them each making awesome music, when we could just have one band containing the same dudes making awesome music. We don't know! But there are two excellent Burning Alms songs available now at Soundcloud, and we are especially taken with the most recent, a ballad titled "Run Straight On The Asphalt." Dig it below.