April 30, 2012

Rock Over Boston: Archers of Loaf Weekend | Middle East

[Archers of Loaf and Pipe at the Middle East, Cambridge, MA. 4/27/2012. Photos by Michael Piantigini.]

Archers of Loaf: Intertubes | Facebook

[Archers of Loaf and Pipe at the Middle East, Cambridge, MA. 4/28/2012. Photos by Michael Piantigini.]

April 25, 2012

Guillermo Sexo with Marconi, The Red Heroine, The Milling Gowns | Radio, Somerville | 26 April

Guillermo Sexo, April 26, Radio

Boston, you're spoiled by the amazing indie rock in your everyday environs -- particularly this week. Not only was there last night's reportedly epic (according to our sources) Young Adults/Bedroom Eyes/Chandeliers gig, but tomorrow dream pop leading lights Guillermo Sexo perform at Radio with the just-slightly-off-center indie rock combo Marconi, The Red Heroine and The Milling Gowns [Fakebook event]. The latter two acts are new names to us, but the former, oh the former. For starters, Guillermo Sexo has recently been nominated by The Boston Pheonix as the area's best live act, and singer Noell Dorsey tipped for best female vocalist. Add to that the fact that the quartet's performance tomorrow, because of a scheduling issue, will be a special acoustic set as a trio showcasing some new material alongside the old (the band plans to begin recording a fifth full-length in June). It's a singular sort of presentation for the band's music, and they'll be opening the evening, so get there early. One last thing: we understand Guillermo Sexo will have a new song out next week, a cover, on a certain compilation that people are starting to talk about. So it's an especially exciting time to see them. We reviewed Guillermo Sexo's fourth long player Secret Wild right here last July. Below is a stream of one track we're fairly certain you WON'T hear tomorrow, Secret Wild's musique concrète closer "Industry."

And a brief word about Marconi: these guys have been on a ton of bills we've seen over the last year, and we like them more every single time we see them. Placing one's finger on the precise source of the quintet's appeal is tricky, but we think a lot of it can be chalked up to singer Luke Kirkland's crooked smile as he languidly looses lyrics from amid the band's engaging indie rock constructions. The band apparently has new music in the offing that will arrive sometime this spring, and we're eager to hear it.

April 24, 2012

Show Us Yours #14: Screaming Maldini

Screaming Maldini in the practice space, panorama stylee
Right, well that was a long three years, yeah? Since our last Show Us Yours feature, #13 from Richmond's Lubec, who are now Portland's Lubec? Can you remember that far back? The feature takes Clicky Clicky readers right into the practice spaces haunted by our favorite bands so we can all get a sense of where the musical magic is made day in and day out. Show Us Yours is back in a big way at Clicky Clicky, and we can't think of a better act to kick it off than the Sheffield, England-based maximalist pop colossus Screaming Maldini. We put our somewhat dusty but still quite trusty battery of questions to the sextet, and Nick Maldini (lead vocals) and Jonny Maldini (keys) graciously supplied characteristically charming responses. According to a recent press release from the band's French label HipHipHip, Screaming Maldini's hotly anticipated debut full length will be released in that territory in the fall and will be titled Life In Glorious Stereo is as yet untitled; the release will be teased May 28th with a single that may or may not be for the song "Life In Glorious Stereo." The band is signed to the fabulous Alcopop! Records for the U.K., in case you didn't know, and we expect we'll see similar news from them in the coming weeks and months. For now, read on to learn about Screaming Maldini's close proximity to the Sheffield United pitch, the band's plans for the album and an answer that will most certainly incite Gina Maldini to clobber Mssrs. Nick and Jonny.

CCMB: Why do you use this space?

We started using this space when Tim joined the band to play drums in the band for the band. He also plays for another band in Sheffield called 7 Black Tentacles and they were already using this space. As his kit was there and we needed somewhere to go, we thought, why not? It's right next to Sheffield United football (soccer!!) ground. It's a bit of a centre for hip bands in Sheffield and it's also the base for a company that makes and distributes an uber hip free magazine for South Yorkshire. We feel cultured being there. Sort of.

CMB: Explain how an idiosyncracy or quirk of this space or a former practice space has affected a song (or even your overall sound).

It's really, really cold and cramped in there (despite the picture, which makes it look palacial! bit of iphone panorama fun!). So, to keep warm, we have had to invent this busy, energetic music. Bigger and warmer, we might sound more like Ed Sheeran. We do a lot of rehearsal in my bedroom as well. I've got a studio set up up there (we recorded most of the tracks up here) and it's really cosy and a nice atmosphere to work in. And if we get horny, there's a bed, so it's great. It's mostly Gina that gets horny.

CCMB: You walk into your space. What's the first thing you smell? Why?

Tim is usually teaching drums in the space for an hour before we rehearse, so the air is normally well and truly infused with his distinctive aroma(s) by the time we arrive. He prides himself on the various smells he can concoct from different orifices on his body. And it also smells like weed (the practise room, not Tim). None of us partake, but someone in the building does. All the time. It smells.

CCMB: It seems as though Screaming Maldini has picked up the pace a bit in terms of recording and releasing music. Is the band more focused and active in this respect now, or does the fact you've now got label bosses to please in the UK and France make it appear that more is happening when actually, you know, it's the same old same old?

For the last 6 months, we've been concentrating on finishing the debut album. It was a bit of a slog in the end, and mixing wasn't the easiest process (it went through three people in the end -- including ourselves -- to try and get it right). It's all mastered and ready to go now and we're really happy with the results. It sounds really big and exciting. There's a single soon and the album is slated for the Fall. Basically it's all finished and we're just concentrating on building buzz again before we release it. The labels were happy to trust us with all the creative stuff so we were pretty free just to get on with it.

CCMB: What do the next six months look like for Screaming Maldini? Is a trip to the States in any sort of band long-term timeline?

The next 6 months will see us release a single or two and the album. Finally hit the road in a more long term way (noth UK and Europe) and just play to as many people as we possibly can! It would be amazing to come and play in the States and hopefully SXSW will be on the cards next year -- see you there? we definitely owe you some drinks! It would be interesting to intersperse the set with "Man vs Food" style challenges. That should add a bit of spice to the shows!

Screaming Maldini: Facebook | YouTube | Bandcamp

Selected Prior Screaming Maldini Coverage:
Clicky Clicky Top Albums of 2010
YouTube Rodeo: Screaming Maldini's "Restless Hearts And Silent Pioneers"
Footage: Screaming Maldini's "Secret Sounds"
Be Prepared: Screaming Maldini | And The Kookaburra | 22 Feb 2010
Today's Hotness: Screaming Maldini

Previous Show Us Yours episodes:
Shapes And Sizes | Dirty On Purpose | Relay | Mobius Band | Frightened Rabbit | Assembly Now | Meneguar | Okay Paddy | Charmparticles | Calories | Sun Airway | It Hugs Back | Lubec

April 20, 2012

Review/Preview: AM Stereo

Their albums aren't particularly easy to find, their gigs are somewhat irregular, and they don't even list their names on their CD cover, which I suppose why AM Stereo bills themselves as the "Purveyors of Boston's Finest Disaster Rock since 1998."

I've been a fan and follower since some these guys were in Crazy Alice and my old band were on the undercard to them at a couple of nights at the late, great (in a manner of speaking) Bunratty's circa 1992. That disaster rock ethos has been there all along, which is probably why we identified with them. Looked up to them, even, having just arrived in Boston from the hinterlands of north central Massachusetts. We revered Superchunk and the Replacements so much that we needed Crazy Alice to show us that we, too, could be fuck-ups and still rock like our indie idols.

Four albums later, that band eventually folded, but their core soldiered on as AM Stereo and the imminent release of their new album makes four for them as well.

When You Wish Upon A Bar is a big, fat rocking good time that doesn't stray far from a well-worn and reliable path. There are hooks: you'll find yourself shouting "tonite, tonite, tonite tonite tonite is the night" from "Tonite" for days. There are drunken laments that we can all relate to like "run out of liquor, should run out on you" from "I'll Leave The Light Off For You;" and there are just plain ragers like "The Way I Say Hello." All that 'Chunk and 'Mats is still there, but it's very much AM Stereo's deal: this is self-deprecating, grimy, cry-in-your-beer, ham-and-egger rock with that slightly aggrieved Boston bent.

This Saturday's record release show is sure to be, ahem, a wicked bahhnburnah (sorry). It's the third installment of Clicky Clicky faves The Beatings-run label Midriff Records' year-long residency at Radio in Somerville. Solo Beating Eldridge Rodriguez opens the night with a set that will feature him shooting a video for "The Shame of the Scene" from last year's excellent You Are Released, so get there early. Noise rockers Ho-Ag take it from there, and also-Clicky Clicky faves Soccer Mom destroy the building to close out the night. I'm assuming.

-Michael Piantigini

AM Stereo: Intertubes | Facebook

April 17, 2012

Today's Hotness: Yuck, Parakeet, Arc In Round, Alarm Bells

Yuck's Chew

>> Rejoice, indie rockers, for Yuck have returned. And, no, not with a re-re-reissue of its exceptionally strong self-titled debut, which was first released in the US in February 2011 and then again in September 2011, but with the new tune "Chew." The mid-tempo anthem shows the band embracing a heavier, denser sound that at times nods affirmatively in the direction of Smashing Pumpkins and My Bloody Valentine. "Chew" is a perceptible step forward for Yuck, and living with the London-based quartet's debut for so long makes the contrast in production and style of the old and the new relatively stark. That said, the elements of "Chew" are still comfortably within Yuck's area of expertise, albeit with the notable addition of tremeloed guitar leads, leads filtered through an octave pedal, and weightier vocal treatments. The proceedings achieve spine-tingling status in the closing moments of the song when a white-hot blast of wah-wahed guitar arrives, and we only wish that the London-based quartet had taken the opportunity to stretch that exhilarating wash of discordant noise into several psychedelic minutes, as Smashing Pumpkins did at the end of its epic "Drown." Have a listen to the embed below. In case you were not aware, Yuck is in the midst of a short strand of US live dates -- halfway through what we are dubbing "the Coachella sandwich" -- and the remaining shows are listed below as well. But wait -- there's more! Have you heard the new single from Yuck bassist Mariko Doi's remarkably good side project Parakeet? It's the rocker "Tomorrow" b/w the delicate and stirring "Paper, Scissors & Stone," it was released April 2 in a limited edition of 300 vinyl singles, and you can buy the thing right here. Stream "Paper, Scissors & Stone" below, it's ace, and makes us wonder why Mariko doesn't get more lead vocals in Yuck.

04.18 -- Santa Ana, CA -- Constellation Room
04.19 -- Pioneertown, CA -- Pappy & Harriet's
04.20 -- Indio, CA -- Coachella

>> Forgive Arc In Round fronter Jeff Zeigler for not getting his long-running progressive dream-pop band's debut full-length out, but he's been sort of busy helming his Uniform Recordings studio and recording incredible music from Philadelphia-based luminaries The War On Drugs and Kurt Vile, and being an in-demand live sound guy. But Arc In Round's long-awaited, eponymous first album is finally slated for release in June on the La Société Expéditionnaire label, as we reported here in January. What's new news is that fans can now hear music from Arc In Round; what's awesome is that it is extraordinary. In fact, the preview track "Hallowed" is an astonishingly beautiful droner in waltz time that displays the kind of impressive sonic depth, clarity and texture that could only spring from the mind of a guy whose recording studio is like an extension of himself. In addition to being entirely engrossing, "Hallowed" is notable for guest performances from the aforementioned Mr. Vile (trumpet) (really) and Pattern Is Movement's Chris Ward hitting the skins. While Arc In Round will be the first long-player from Arc In Round, the band earlier released two EPs (Diagonal Fields and II) in 2011, and a former incarnation of the band named Relay released a long-player of its own, Still Point Of Turning, on Bubble Core in early 2006. Stream "Hallowed" below. La Société Expéditionnaire will release Arc In Round June 5.
  >> We were gutted last year by the surprising dissolution of Glaswegian fightpop juggernaut Dananananaykroyd, but the mourning period may not end up lasting too long. A tweet from Dana's Twitter feed recently brought word that certain members of the sextet -- namely John Baillie Jr., Ryan McGinness and David Roy, and well as Paul Bannon, who played with the band on its final tour -- had reunited to form a new band Alarm Bells, which will make its live debut Thursday in Glasgow at Nice 'N Sleazy's, or so the Internet tells us. A second date has already been confirmed and Alarm Bells is promising that Dana fans will dig what they've got going on. That said, there are some different things happening, as we've read Alarm Bells will incorporate a fair amount of vintage synth into its overall sound, something this video and this photo bear out, kinda. So, unless you are fortunate enough to see these early live performances, the best we can do is wait to hear what comes next. We're excited, as Dananananaykroyd's records were both favorites. We reviewed their final album There Is A Way here last July; Hey Everyone! was one of our favorite records of 2009.

April 15, 2012

That Was The Show That Was: Small Factory Reunion Show | The Met, Pawtucket | 14 April

Small Factory reunion show, The Met, Pawtucket, Rhode Island, photo by Jeff Breeze used with permissioin
[Photo Credit: Jeff Breeze] A hipster in a bandana, a tight Deer Tick t-shirt, and girls jeans cut through the crowd heading for the bar. He was so out of place it was tough not to notice at this show, since nearly everyone else crowding into The Met in Pawtucket had seen Small Factory before, and it had been 17 years since their last show. The people were all the same, most wearing t-shirts of the same vintage, though restraining a few more beer bellies. Both opening bands, Flower Gang and Honeybunch played their first shows in just as long. On stage, the band looked remarkably preserved, with guitarist Dave Auchenbach even sporting the same Ramones-esque haircut. Only bassist Alex Kemp's graying temples reminded the crowd of how much time had passed.
With this being their hometown (ok, the club used to be in Providence) reunion gig and the last of a short string, the band was as chatty with their between-song banter as ever. When drummer Phoebe Summersquash launched directly into the clicks of “Valentine” as the the last chords of “Hi, Howard, I’m Back” [video 1; video 2] faded, Alex halted progress asking, “Why are you in such a fucking hurry?” The casual pace made the gig feel as though you were hanging out in the living room with some friends rather than being in a club with 500 other people all reminiscing together, wishing that we could find more music that holds this sort of lasting grip.
With a set that clocked in at just under an hour, everyone was left with a song or two they wish the band had played. Small Factory seemed invigorated by the chance to play these songs again and hang out with old friends, but they had played all they had re-learned. The trio made it through these near-forgotten songs with only one big halting stumble (in the midst of “Howard”). The soundmen valiantly kept the feedback (from ringing cymbals) at bay while allowing Phoebe’s harmonies to be heard.  Mostly there was a life to these songs that made it seem as though the band had merely picked up the pause button for a moment and gave the crowd a lucky chance to witness it.
Before the set closer “Suggestions,” Auchenbach mentioned that it was the song that he would share with people who wanted to know what Small Factory was all about. It was his response to Kemp earlier in the set revealing that “Happy To See” was the number he felt the band just kept trying to rewrite. While both of those songs set the template for what the band was, their encore of “Junky on a Good Day” into “Last Time That We Talked” was a perfect example of the tension and release that made Small Factory a band that shouldn’t be forgotten.  Shows like this should keep people talking. -- Jeff Breeze, Special Correspondent
Small Factory: Internerds | Facebook | YouTube

For When You Cannot Land
What To Want
I'm Not Giving Up
Happy To See
Hi, Howard, I'm Back
Bright Side
Versus Tape
I'm Not Afraid

Junky On A Good Day
Last Time That We Talked

April 13, 2012

Review: fIREHOSE and FOOD

Somewhere in a Massachusetts landfill there's a calendar with the words "Mighty Fuckin' Hose of Fire" written on a then-upcoming 1992 date where a stop on fIREHOSE's Flyin' The Flannel tour was due at Boston's Paradise. Such was the excitement of my college radio/college band/college leisure time cohort. Their live shows raged - explosive displays of virtuosic exploitations of punk rock basics exploded into bewildering free jazz riffing and half-spoken lyrics.

So is it time for a critical reassessment reaffirmation of fIREHOSE? Hell, yeah it is. To the rescue is the occasion of the just-released "lowFLOWs" the Columbia anthology ('91 - '93), a compilation of the whole of the band's pair of major label albums (the last of their output), Flyin' The Flannel and Mr. Machinery Operator, along with some crucial period EP, b-side, and compilation tracks, live and studio, and the band's first tour dates in nearly two decades.

In the years since the band broke up, it's bassist Mike Watt and drummer Ed Hurley's earlier band the Minutemen who get all the books (Michael Azzerad, who contributes the liner notes to the collection, took the title of his seminal Our Band Could Be Your Life from a Minutemen lyric), and film documentaries (the also crucial "We Jam Econo"). I'm not going to say it's not justified - the Minutemen were groundbreakers, for sure - but, hey, let's not forget about fIREHOSE.

Legend has it Ohio's Ed Crawford (later known as Ed fROMOHIO) showed up at Mike Watt's San Pedro, CA home in 1986 in an effort to drag Watt out of the depression over the death of his best friend and Minutemen partner d. Boon and back into the music that so clearly defines his life. It seems like we all - Watt included - owe him a lot of credit for his persistence. Crawford's more straightforward songwriting and power chords made a great foil for some of Watt's less rock material and his power-chorded guitar playing gave fIREHOSE a bigger, tougher sound. Their three albums on SST - Ragin', Full On (1986), If'n (1987), and fROMOHIO (1989) - are as important to a generation as Double Nickels on the Dime was to the generation prior and it further spread the Minutemen's legacy in the process.

Getting short-shrift, then, are the albums they made after jumping to major label Columbia in 1991 just at the dawn of the Nirvana era of the mainstreaming of "college rock." Upon retroactive re-inspection, '91's Flyin' the Flannel and '93's Mr. Machinery Operator show an interesting evolution of their sound - some of it simply due to an apparently bigger recording budget. Flannel's opening declaration "Down With The Bass" still sounds bigger and bolder than anything that came before. From there, the highlights on that one pile up: the toe-tapping "Can't Believe," their arguably definitive version of Daniel Johnston's "Walking The Cow" (though I still go for the chord organ and boom-box original myself), the driving "O'er the Town of Pedro," and the classically Crawfordian "Lost Colors."

Swan song Mr. Machinery Operator is an even bigger surprise. Produced by J. Mascis, it crackles with a new immediacy. The guitars are bigger and there're more of them - including guest spots by Mascis, Nels Cline, and Superchunk's Mac Macaughan. And there's that distinct Mascis' distinct drum sound - along with a backing vocal by him - that becomes especially prominent as the album settles into track 2, "Blaze." That one, and another one of Crawford's, "Witness," are as good as anything they ever did. Watt tracks like "Herded Into Pools" and "Disciples of the 3-Way" seem to hint at the type of stuff he would do as his solo career got going. Is it as important as If'n or Double Nickels? Of course not, but it's a hell of a lot better than its reputation and deserves the second look this set affords.

The remastering of these albums already recommends the set, and the stray compilation tracks and unreleased live tracks are great to have as well, but the appending of the long out-of-print 1992 Live Totem Pole EP makes it truly indispensable. Recorded live in LA the year before, the 7 tracks - mostly covers - are a worthy testament to their explosive live act. There's not too many bands covering Blue Oyster Cult, Superchunk, Butthole Surfers, and Public Enemy in one show, but here they are. West Coasters are getting to see that all again right now (and judging by the postings on the Internet Archive, it's going quite well). Here's hoping I'll be able to pencil the "Mighty Fuckin' Hose of Fire" on my calendar again soon.

And where have they been all my life since? Bassist Mike Watt (no less a legend now as then), master of the spiel and thudstaff, continues to be an inspiration and a creative force, most recently of his latest "punk-rock opera," Hyphenated-Man among many other projects including membership in The Stooges. Crawford and Hurley haven't exactly been absent from the music world, but they've certainly spent most of the intervening years in support roles, like Crawford's stint in Whiskeytown and Hurley's in Red Krayola.

I'm especially excited to learn that in Pittsburgh, Ed Crawford, joined by Gumball's Eric Vermillion and The Cynics' Mike Quinlan, have put together a new band called FOOD. Their first release, the EP Four Pieces From Candyland (3 or 4 songs, depending on the format) is imminent on Phatry Records. Lead track "Santa Maria" is a dynamite, charging rocker that settles into a chiming guitar groove, "Jesus and Johnny Cash" is a country stomper, while ballad "You Don't Know" would've sounded at home on either of the fIREHOSE albums collected above. Bonus track "Like A Leaf In The Wind" (the CD has 3 tracks, the digital version - including the one included with the 7" vinyl includes this 4th track), sounds just like classic alt-rock that would sounded right at home coming from our college radio station through our cheap boom box at the aforementioned college apartment. Whether or not the fIREHOSE reunion turns into a regular thing, a Crawford-led band is a good thing to have back.

-Michael Piantigini

MIKE WATT: Hoot Page
fIREHOSE: Tour Diary 2012 | Internet Archive Live Downloads
FOOD: Facebook | Bandcamp | Intertubes

April 8, 2012

That Was The Show That Was: Swervedriver | Doug Fir | Portland, OR | 4.5.12

[Swervdriver at the Doug Fir Lounge, Portland, OR, 4/5/2012. Photos by Edward Charlton]

Thursday night saw the arrival of reunited shoegaze titans Swervedriver in Portland, Oregon at the immaculate Doug Fir Lounge. The band was met with a rapturous audience of hardcore fans who stood in awe to the muscled, blissed-out swirl unleashed, as the band played favorites from their solid '90s discography. The night was made special by the fact that the group were unencumbered with the tedium of converting new listeners -- it was just time to celebrate.

The Portland stop was one in a recent string of U.S. dates, part of a reunion that has been going strong since 2008 when Swervedriver came together again following their initial 1989-1999 run. Debuting on the infamous Creation Records with the "Sun Of Mustang Ford" single, the band launched into the '90s with the highly acclaimed albums; Raise and Mezcal Head. These established their sound -- heady and pounding distorted rock that seamlessly blended the band's love of muscle car culture with washes of effects paired with leader Adam Franklin's smooth, cool vocal work. Like many bands of this era, the group signed a major label deal during the grunge explosion and nearly became a household name (on the strength of singles like "Duel" and "Last Train To Satansville"). While the mainstream recognition they deserved mostly eluded them, the group cultivated a loyal college-based audience that has stuck with them to this day. Following a string of quality albums throughout the decade (along with label and distribution problems along the way), Swervedriver cemented itself as one of the more lauded bands to emerge from the original shoegaze/alternative era.

As the packed crowd awaited the arrival of the band on stage, numerous guitar-techs and sound men arranged the Swervedriver arsenal of Marshall stacks (R.I.P.) and long chains of pedals that circled around in a bleeping, colorful array; it was apparent that a serious guitar band was about to hit. The Doug Fir was a perfect venue for this sort of thing, dark and stylish, and designed to look like a "Twin Peaks"-styled bachelor pad: the walls lined with actual tree trunks, neon lights built into the floor and a classy, smokey, mirrored bar. Everything was ready.

As the heroes entered stage, the room erupted, many began yelling song titles before the act even picked up its instruments. Guitarists Adam Franklin and Jimmy Hartridge, along with bassist Steve George and stand-in drummer Mikey Jones ripped into "Sci-flyer" after a simple hello. What followed was a strong set balanced with a number of deeper cuts. For the first few songs, Mr. Franklin's leads were mired in effects pedal problems. This was unfortunate, as it diminished the impact of some of the best songs, including the dark and mysterious "Scrawl and Scream." Making up for this was Mr. George's thick, heavy bass. Anchored with deep, low notes, his playing really brought the heaviness the band is known for, and his playing absolutely punished his battered black Fender Jazz. After a few words with a tech, the visibly upset Franklin finally remedied his technical issues, resulting in a fuzzy punch that made the following "Never Lose That Feeling" the highlight of the night. The sudden improved fidelity drove the crowd nuts. One younger, boyish member of the crowd quite amusingly went ape as Franklin hit pedals that made all sorts of wild whooshing sounds. With an impossibly big grin on his face, the fan began dancing as if someone had set fire to his feet. Franklin periodically muttered thanks in a grumbly, heavy accent that was surprising to be heard right after his very clear American-sounding singing voice.

Upon hitting high gear, the band tore through a set spanning its entire career, including a new track, "Deep Wound." It fit in perfectly with the older tunes, it may as well have been from an obscure Creation single a decade earlier. Other highlights included an amazing, loud cover of Guided By Voices' "Motor Away" and, of course, the surfy twang of "Last Train To Satansville." They ended their set with the song that began their career, "Son Of A Mustang Ford." With that, they quickly said goodbye to their rabid following, assured that their would be more times to come for a band that has finally seen a decade of hard work pay off.

Opening for Swervedriver were Portland-based Hawkeye. The band, boasting five guitarists and a tambourine girl, was a strong, albeit somewhat unoriginal, '60s psych-revival group in the vein of other Northwest proponents of that druggedly-strummed sound, such as The Brian Jonestown Massacre. Portland has always been a very enthusiastic audience for these kind of group, and the crowd enjoyed their heavy set as much as they did that of the headliners. --Edward Charlton

Intertubes | Twitter | Facebook

Intertubes | ReverbNation | Facebook | Twitter

April 6, 2012

Rock Over Boston: Rock and Roll Rumble, Night 4

[Photos from the Boston Rock and Roll Rumble's 4th Preliminary night by Michael Piantigini.]
I had the honor and privilege of being invited to be a judge at the 4th preliminary night of this year's Rock and Roll Rumble. It was fun to finally be a part of this Boston rock institution, now in it's 33rd year, having been a spectator for most of those 33 years. (After having been associated so closely with iconic radio station WBCN for so many years, its home is now with Angelle Wood's Boston Emissions show on Sunday night's on WZLX). Heart-wrenching too. For all its collegiality and it's primary function as a celebration of the local rock scene, there can still only be one winner.

Night four was arguably the most diverse of the series so far - foot-stomping country-rock harmonizers Cask Mouse, big, heavy-ass thunder-riffers Never Got Caught, glammy art-rockers (with an emphasis on the rock) Parlour Bells, and the shambling (in a good way) garage popsters The Fagettes - and everyone as at the top of their game. At the end of the day, Cask Mouse got the nod from the five judges to advance to next week's semi-finals, but I'm rooting for one of the Wild Card entries to come from this night.

Hell, I wish all of 'em could advance.

Two more prelims to go, plus the semis and the finals - all at TT the Bear's:

Friday, April 6
9:30pm – Pray For Polanski
10:15pm – BrownBoot
11:00pm – Bow Thayer and Perfect Trainwreck
11:45pm – The Bynars

Saturday, April 7
9:30pm – The Grinds
10:15pm – Sherman Burns
11:00pm – Motherboar
11:45pm – Streight Angular

Thursday, April 12
Friday, April 13

Friday, April 20

-Michael Piantigini

Rock And Roll Rumble: Intertubes | Facebook | Twitter

Cask Mouse: Bandcamp | Facebook | Twitter
Never Got Caught: Bandcamp | Intertubes | Facebook
Parlour Bells: Bandcamp | Intertubes | Facebook | Twitter
The Fagettes: Bandcamp | Blogspot | Facebook | Twitter

April 5, 2012

Today's Hotness: Alta Mira, I Am Dive, Lower Dens

Alta Mira -- I Am The Salt
>> Alta Mira heretofore in these electronic pages warranted only a sidelong mention as billmates with local dream pop heroes The Hush Now at PA's Lounge a year ago. But we enjoyed their set and made a mental note to keep an eye on them, and we're glad we did, as the Clifton Park, NY-based indie rock concern has just released to the wilds of the Internerds one of the most delightful songs of the year, a rare, perfect pop song. "Good Enough" delivers bright guitar pop smoothed over lightly percolating bass and tempered with the laid-back tone and overt melodicism of The Sea And Cake. The tune is uptempo, perky, studded with handclaps and dolled-up with quick cascades of "ohohoh" that slide by like ice coming off your roof. "Good Enough" is from Alta Mira's newly minted sophomore set I Am The Salt, which was self-released by the band last weekend. As of today, the rest of the album is available to stream at the act's Bandcamp yert, and we look forward to taking the pulse of the rest of the collection; Alta Mira sounds like they are hitting their stride, just in time to rule your spring time. The band was in the Boston area last month playing at The Rosebud, but hopefully they'll be back sometime soon now that the record is out. Stream "Good Enough" over and over and over via the Bandcamp embed below.

>> As if we haven't been enjoying enough of a dream-pop resurgence lately in the States, it seems there is mutual appreciation for the form across the Atlantic. Or at least that's what we're led to believe based on what we've heard recently from Spain's I Am Dive. The Seville-based duo has announced it will reissue in the US an EP, Constellations, next week via Norman, Okla.-based Slanty Shanty Records. The band, a collaboration between Seville music veterans Esteban Ruiz and Jose A. Perez, trades in floating acoustics with a tasteful continental, digital sheen. A digital promotional track, "A Morning Walk," commences with a warm, pumping synth line that conjures images of drizzly streets in foreign ports of call. Indeed, despite the pair's Spanish heritage, "A Morning Walk" has much in common with pastoral and downcast Northern English outfits like The Engineers or Epic45, both groups that deliciously combine melodrama with the fuzzy introspection of damp seaside living. Perez's guitar lines melt away into the background, adding a tantalizing layer of delay to the proceedings. At the same time, I Am Dive incorporate the same sort of stark, programmed beeps and whirs that are sprinkled throughout Lali Puna's impressionistic Teutonic mumbles, making the Spanish band's four-song release a very compelling fusion of dream-pop elements that have really only come together in the last decade or so. Stream "A Morning Walk" via the Bandcamp embed below. Constellations was originally released in Spain last year on Foehn Records; it will be released by Slanty Shanty April 10, and you can download it for free right here. I Am Dive already has a new EP, Tides, available at its Bandcamp page and you can listen to it right here. -- Edward Charlton

>> While we've followed the career of Lower Dens' Jana Hunter since her haunting 2005 solo sort-of-best-of Blank Unstaring Heirs of Doom [capsule review], and marveled at the wonderfully small scale of her tour-by-boat in 2006, her current outfit seems poised to break big on the strength of its hotly tipped sophomore set. Indeed, the (lower-cased) hype machine is already cranking up for the upcoming Nootropics, which will hit racks May 1st on Ribbon Music. And for good reason, as the album seems rife with intricate instrumental showcases, judging by the already leaked "Propagation" and first single "Brains" (the two songs feature on a 10" with exclusive b-side "Hours" that Ribbon Music is using to promote the full length; details here). Like Philadelphia's Kurt Vile, Lower Dens' precise attention to detail and devotion to a  peculiar style lends the Baltimore foursome a fair helping of both relevancy and individualism among contemporary indie scene-makers. Krautrocker "Brains" makes a kind of sense, given a peek at the album cover featuring an image of early synthesizer wiring. The song latches on to a groove so quickly the listener simply falls in, while the bass and guitar scratch to the beat rather than strike substantive notes; it truly grabs the ear. Following that intro, open-string guitar leads and synth set up a thick stew for Hunter's continually captivating vocals. As much as Hunter coos, there's also often a distinct growl underneath that injects menace into her performance. As the song reaches its end, "Brains" finally breaks from its held chords, in true Stereolab tradition, while distant siren sounds flitter away. It's five minutes that are over too fast. While we find it hard to believe this quota has not already been met, Ribbon Music has announced that the first 50 pre-orders of Nootropics here at Insound will receive a free ticket to a secret NYC show on April 30th. We last wrote about Lower Dens here in May 2010. -- Edward Charlton

April 1, 2012

YouTube Rodeo: The Hush Now's "Hurry Up And Wait"

Remember last fall? When we ran an extensive tour diary from The Hush Now? And then we presented the Boston dream pop quintet's triumphant homecoming show? Good times. We can't wait to hear new things from the band (and, in fact, there's this new collection from drummer Barry Marino we will write about sometime soon). But in the meantime, spend a peaceful 18 minutes watching the guys hold it together as it traverses large swathes of America.

The Hush Now 2011 Tour Diary

The Road To Somerville: Dispatch 6 (Lexington, KY to Boston, MA)
The Road To Somerville: Dispatch 5 (Milwaukee to Nashville)
The Road To Somerville: Dispatch 4 (Minneapolis to Northfield)
The Road To Somerville: Dispatch 3 (Cleveland to Minneapolis)
The Road To Somerville: Dispatch 2 (Rochester to Cleveland)
The Road To Somerville: Dispatch 1 (Boston to Rochester)

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