September 29, 2012

Rock Over Boston: Corin Tucker Band/Versus/Speedy Ortiz

[Corin Tucker Band with Versus and Speedy Ortiz at TT The Bear's Place, Cambridge, MA 9/28/2012.]

Corin Tucker Band: Intertubes | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube
Versus: Facebook
Speedy Ortiz: Facebook | Bandcamp | Twitter

September 28, 2012

New Music Night DJ Sets | River Gods | 27/28 Sept.

New Music Night 7, River Gods, Cambridge, Sept 27/28, 2012
Here are the songs we played whilst manning the figurative decks tonight/right now/last night in the booth at the fabulous River Gods in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Avail yourself of all the relevant linkage; if you have any questions or want to know more, hit us on Twitter or drop a comment. We may or may not do Spotify playlists of these sets in the coming days and post links here; watch this space. Also, please click over to Bradley's Almanac and check out Brad's playlists for the 9PM and 11PM hours, which we expect will be posted imminently.

Set Two/Jay -- 10PM

1. Her Parents -- "Justin Vernon" -- Physical Release
[blogged / stream / buy]
2. The Raveonettes -- "Downtown" -- Observator
[blogged / album stream / buy]
3. Big Wave Riders -- "Waiting In The Wings" -- single
[stream / buy]
4. Guillermo Sexo -- "Bring Down Your Arms"
[EXCLUSIVE studio mix of new tune that will feature on the band's forthcoming LP]
5. Everyone Everywhere -- "No Furniture" -- Everyone Everywhere (2012)
[review / album stream / buy]
6. Hop Along -- "Laments" -- Get Disowned
[one of the best records of the year that we haven't written about / blogged / buy]
7. Swearin' -- "Movie Star" -- Swearin'
[another awesome record we haven't had time to review / stream / buy]
8. She Sir -- "You Could Be Tiger" -- single
[blogged / download]
9. Lubec -- "Wilderness Days" -- Wilderness Days
[title track to brilliant odds n' sods collection due any day / blogged / buy]
10. Airiel -- "Flashlight Tag" -- Kid Games
[blogged / stream / buy]
11. You're Jovian -- "And Now" -- Stereochronic
[blogged / download / buy]
12. Youth Pictures Of Florence Henderson -- "All I Remember Is Punk Rock" -- Small Changes We Hardly Notice
[blogged / stream / buy]
12. Los Campesinos! -- "Tiptoe Through The True Bits" -- Hello Sadness outtake
[so wonderful / download]
13. Dikembe -- "Not Today, Angel" -- Broad Shoulders
[review / album stream / buy]
14. Infinity Girl -- "Please Forget" -- Bedroom single
[alternate take of "it" band's devastating tune, performing Friday at Radio / stream / download]
15. The Welcome Wagon -- "High" -- Precious Remedies Against Satan's Devices
[sweet little Cure cover / stream / buy]

Set Four/Jay -- 12AM

1. The xx -- "Reunion" -- Coexist
[hopefully this leads to more steel drum in indie rock / buy]
2. Sun Airway -- "Close" -- Soft Fall
[devastatingly catchy single / blogged / album stream / buy]
3. Ringo Deathstarr -- "So High" -- Mauve + Bonus Tracks
[this might have been a Japanese b-side? / buy]
4. Statikluft Recordings -- "Battery Ida" -- single
[stream / download]
5. Future Carnivores -- "Drugs (Demo)" -- Unreleased
[blogged / stream / download]
6. Tadoma -- "4th of July jam pt. 3"
[the sound of summer in Philly / stream / download]
7. Sun Stains -- "Honeylake" -- Sun Stains
[stream / download / buy]
8. Panda Riot -- "Serious Radical Girls (SPC ECO Remix)" -- single
[blogged / stream / buy]
9. Fridge Poetry -- "Crash Down (Demo)"
[blogged / stream]
10. Divine Fits -- "The Salton Sea" -- A Thing Called Divine Fits
11. Big Science -- "No One Ever Wakes Up" -- Difficulty
[criminally overlooked record, so brilliant / stream / buy]
12. White Laces -- "Invocation" -- Moves
[review / buy]
13. R.M. Hendrix -- "Lipstick And Perfect Hair" -- Pink Skin EP
[stream / buy]


14. Joey Fourr -- "Play With Yrself" -- Crack Is Wack EP
[more zany pop goodness from Tubelord dude / buy]
15. Orange Blossom Flyover -- "Near Beyond Alone" -- Gypseyeyed Stars Astir
[blogged / stream / download]

September 26, 2012

Turning Gold: The Clicky Clicky Interview With Golden Gurls' Andrew Mabry

Golden Gurls, live at Ottobar, Baltimore, MD, August 2012, photo by Patrick McCann

[Photo Credit: Patrick McCann] Earlier this year Baltimore-based indie upstarts Golden Gurls seemed to drop out of the sky like a house onto a witch, sporting an inexplicably well-conceived and awesome debut long-player [review]. But shoot the breeze with fronter and guitarist Andrew Mabry for hours as we've done in recent weeks, and it is apparent that the excellent Typo Magic is the product of decades of music-making, music fandom and immersion in ancillary underground culture. Mr. Mabry has put in the hours: if Indie Rock was a Fortune 500 company, CEO Ira Kaplan would have given him a gold watch for his service years ago. From his early days in Michigan to his current turf in Baltimore, from clerking record stores and pursuing skateboarding to stints in bands including post-rockers Moscow Telephone and Left Channels, Mabry has done the band thing, the music thing, the life thing. His is a musical world view shaped by the greats, Unwound, Polvo, Seam, and on and on and on. And it's all led up to Golden Gurls and where the band is now, Van treads on Typo Magic but fingers stretched out in the direction of a planned sophomore set whose recording will begin later this year. The trio will be in Boston Friday anchoring a stellar bill at Radio in Somerville during the recurring Tiger Mountain dance party. We put a bunch of questions to Mabry recently to learn where his band was coming from and where it will go. We strongly encourage you to get out to see Golden Gurls this Friday, on an epic bill with Connecticut rockers Suicide Dolls and local heroes Soccer Mom and Infinity Girl.
Clicky Clicky: One thing I never really got to the bottom of when reviewing the record: where does the title come from? Is it just a reference to the misspelling in Gurls?

Andrew Mabry: Typo Magic is a reference to any typo that is just so magical you leave it in the text. I have done it so many times at work (I type like crap) and on my cellphone that I pushed for that to be the title, and, yes, I felt like it was only fitting considering how we're spelling the name of our band.

CC: So, kind of like painter Bob Ross' "happy accidents" then. Do you embrace chance in either composing or recording your music -- I'm sure I'm misusing the term here, but kind of like John Cage's "chance operations?" Or is your approach to songwriting fairly formalized?

AM: Well, actually we write our songs to be more open-ended, some of them are more set in stone like "Tidal," and others like "End Of The War" war are sort of ever-evolving in structure. We wrote "Double Negatives" in the studio, that song was just a riff I was playing around with that happened really fast and we liked it enough to put it on the record.

CC: Here's one I always like asking songwriters, because back when I was writing songs I felt like you could never tell whether what you liked would translate. So, the question: do you know when you've written a great hook?

AM: A great hook is totally subjective, [but] I know for sure when I have written something that I would have listened to over and over again at some point in my life. In a general sense, those are the songs I try my hardest to finish and use on our recordings. "Kid Tested," for example, I love that end riff, it really reminds me of so many other things yet none of them at all.

CC: I feel like between "The Wire," that show about cake, and acts like Dan Deacon and Lower Dens, Baltimore has been enjoying an unprecedented cultural relevance in the last five years. Is there any way to account for that, or is it just all serendipity?

AM: Well, this is a hard question to answer. I know a lot of people who play in other bands in Baltimore, this city has a lot of music in it. Lower Dens are just sort of on their own out there. Well, I suppose you can toss Wye Oak in with them. Both of those bands are super talented, but they are totally on their own in terms of sound and what they go after in songwriting. As for "The Wire," I don't know how accurately it portrays this city, as I was never that into it, [although] a good friend of mine's father was in the show. Ace Of Cakes? Or Cake? If there is a cake show that's news to me!

CC: Have you lived in or around Baltimore all of your life? Do you have any recollection of that scene comp Baltimore: The City That Breeds that came out in 1993? There are some great jams on there.

AM: I actually grew up in Detroit, where there were a lot bands influencing me all the time. I know some of those bands on the compilation, though. One of the guys from Next Step Up lives a block over from me. I see the guitarist from Candy Machine around my neighborhood from time to time. Liquor Bike, now that's a band I haven't thought of in years.

CC: What were some of the kind of street-level Detroit acts that inspired you to do what you do? You know, bands that maybe never broke out, but still made you feel like, hey, I can do this music thing.

AM: The bands growing up that really made me feel like anything was possible would be Versus (Teenbeat, Caroline, etc.) [and] His Name is Alive. I used to see [His Name Is Alive's] Warn [Defever] a lot, and talk to him whenever about just about anything musical, and he was totally kind. It's doubtful he would have any recollection of me, but still, what a nice guy. I think back on him in that era and how he was doing recordings with people from the Pale Saints, Ida, Retsin and so on, literally four miles from where I grew up. Another one that comes to mind is Fred Thomas from Saturday Looks Good To Me, seriously one of the nicest guys ever. Watching him take that project from just a solo sort of acoustic thing recorded on a 4-track to where it went was pretty amazing. I was also really into Eric's Trip, I am not sure that I can call them local to me since they were from Moncton, but I definitely saw them often and they left a huge mark on my idea of being in a band. Others I won't go into too much detail on [were] Windy And Carl, Mahogany, Majesty Crush, so on and so forth.

CC: Without going into all the details of how it all came together, I think it is pretty awesome that so many Boston bands were trying to get you on their show for the night you were in town, to the extent that two shows were combined to make it all happen. Is it possible Golden Gurls are more popular in Boston than in Baltimore?

AM: To be honest, I am not sure about that. Is it possible? Certainly. Our entire last year has been this uphill fight with personnel changes, finishing the record, playing shows, trying to have fun with it all.

CC: How much touring have you been able to do behind Typo Magic? Is the trip to Boston part of a set of dates, or is it a one-off? I know your personal life is about to get pretty busy for a while, but are you considering mounting a larger tour to support the record, or are you already looking forward to making the next one?

AM: We haven't played many shows since the record came out. For a while, in 2011, we played all the time, but it dropped off as we got more and more involved with finishing our record. It was a seriously labor-intensive project that took a lot out of us. When we finally put the record out in May we didn't have a bassist and that put a damper on things, not to mention our drummer lives about 2 hours away from where we practice, which is also always difficult to work around. We have an awesome bass player now, though, and we're really happy with everything he has brought to the band. We are playing a few more shows in October and trying to do a few dates in the midwest in the fall. [But] the Boston show is a one off, we have been wanting to play Boston for the better part of a year, but never could pull a show together. This show is exactly what we wanted. Infinity Girl and Soccer Mom are both so awesome. The next record is already scheduled to be recorded in November. I am not sure when it will be finished, but I know we will start it then. We're taking a more personal approach with the follow-up and doing a lot of it at home, but we're using the same engineer we used previously because he's literally the greatest guy we know of to work with. On top of that, he knows exactly what we want out of our recordings.

CC: I know you have a lot of material leftover from writing Typo Magic, because you've told me. Are you the kind of songwriter that will keep that stuff around and use it, or do you mothball stuff that gets stale in favor of newer, fresher stuff you're writing. Are any of the tracks on Typo Magic particularly old?

AM: Typo Magic has songs that span about a two-year period of writing on it. Some of the songs are older, for instance I believe "Kid Tested" is one of the first songs we ever wrote which would make it over 2 years old. Some of the other ones came later like "Tidal," "Excited" and "Providence." I don't like to let songs go unless they really don't fit our sound, that happens from time to time but in general I keep them and continue working on them.

CC: Typo Magic is one of my favorite records of the year, I'm psyched to see you guys play up here. Thanks for taking time out to talk with the blog, Andrew.

AM: Thanks for asking me to do this interview. And thanks for the kind words about our record, it really makes us happy to have it out there and that anyone even listens to it.

Golden Gurls perform at Tiger Mountain Friday night at Radio in Somerville with Suicide Dolls, Soccer Mom and Infinity Girl. Check out a live video of Golden Gurls' "End Of The War," captured in August at Ottobar in Baltimore. Typo Magic is available as a limited-edition CD or name-your-own-price download from Bandcamp right here.

September 25, 2012

Soccer Mom, Suicide Dolls, Infinity Girl And Golden Gurls at Tiger Mountain | Radio | 28 Sept.

Tiger Mountain with Infinity Girl, Soccer Mom, Golden Gurls and Suicide Dolls
This bill. It's too insane. It's the product of some smart people saying, hey, we've got two great bills in the Boston area on Sept. 28, why not graft them together, like, say Rosey Greer and Ray Milland in "The Thing With Two Heads?" It's the product of event planners thinking like music fans, which in this case of course they are, and which is why Friday night's Tiger Mountain dance party is going to be a knock-out. You've got the first area appearance of Baltimore's Golden Gurls, riding high on the strength of their full-length debut Typo Magic. Connecticut's Suicide Dolls are fresh from covering Circle Jerks' "When The Shit Hit The Fan" on American Laundomat Records' "Repo Man" tribute comp, which was released to acclaim last week. Local shoegaze behemoth Soccer Mom is turning out the best live shows of its career, and new Boston sensations Infinity Girl have been delivering devastating performances despite their relative new-comer status. The fact that we'll get to see all of this in the same night is mind-boggling. Don't blow it; get to Radio in Somerville at 8:30 sharp to see Soccer Mom kick off a night that people will talk about for weeks to come. And AND AND tune in to Clicky Clicky tomorrow morning when you get to your desk to read our feature interview with Golden Gurls' Andrew Mabry. And now, how about some songs?

Rock Over Boston: Will Johnson and Anders Parker | Allston, MA | 9.24.12

[Will Johnson and Anders Parker living room show, Allston, MA 9/24/12. Photos by Michael Piantigini].

Will Johnson: Internets | Facebook | Centro-matic
Anders Parker: Internets | Facebook |
Anders Parker's new project Anders and Kendall: Tumblr | Facebook

September 24, 2012

Review: Ringo Deathstarr | Mauve + Live In Portland, Sept. 20

Ringo Deathstarr -- Live in Portland, Sept. 20, photo by Matt Dressen, used with permission, all rights reserved (detail)

[PHOTO: Matt Dressen, used with permission] Austin-based shoegaze titans Ringo Deathstarr left an indelible mark on Portland, Ore., Thursday night, during an electrifying performance supporting the trio's second full-length, Mauve. In contrast to the protracted span between the band's first EP and first long-player, Mauve arrives this week not terribly long after the trio's acclaimed 2011 long-player Colour Trip [review]. The new collection reiterates The Deathstarr's knack for taking wisps of dream-pop and shoegaze nostalgia and refining them to the point of orderly perfection. Beyond just a showcase for kicking ass, Mauve evidences the group pushing the boundaries of its songwriting, establishing a new beachhead among harder rhythms and melodies more dependent on crystalline vocals.

While band leader and guitarist Elliot Frazier regularly receives the lion's share of attention for his songwriting and attitude, the spotlight on Mauve -- due Sept. 25 on Club AC30 and Sonic Unyon -- seems to be more shared than ever between all three members. For example, Mauve opens with the brilliant "Rip," which situates Ringo Deathstarr bassist Alex Gehring front and center, not only as a vocal presence, but also with her fuzz bass often beating out the guitars in terms of volume. Indeed, her bass work drives much of the album and, instead of sticking to driving root notes this time around, her work is heavy, delightfully approaching grungy post-hardcore territory.

Ringo Deathstarr refuse to be hamstrung by the parameters of what can be a narrow genre, and instead embrace a variety of possibilities and directions, such as when the threesome cast their gaze toward methanol-drenched, trip-hop jams. "Brightest Star," the album's longest song by over two minutes, slinks under looped guitar drones, while Frazier and Gehring's harmonies implore amidst bedside drama. "Fifteen" and "Please Don't Kill Yourself" trade in seasick, queasy guitar noise and drum progressions that, taken together, are appealingly weird and psychedelic.

While exploring the slower tempos, deep grunge vibes and electronic elements, the band retains the chops to produce the Frazier-fronted, two-minute barnburners upon which Ringo Deathstarr built its brand. "Slack" may be one of the best of these; here Frazier amazingly takes a slot-car racing metaphor (perhaps?) and throws it up against hormonal dream-punk. And, of course, there's the signature whammy chords and some hardcore tempos to give the monster an immediacy that only this band seems to be able to pull off so consistently well. With this one song alone, the Texans prove they can get more popular, change lineups, tour the world, but still remain the beautifully disaffected punks early press was eager to paint them as.

The band's live performance Thursday at Slabtown in Portland presented a positive prologue to this week's album release. The set was appropriately heavy on new material, and showcased how well the songs stand up in a three-piece configuration in a dank punk bar with poor sound. New song "Girls We Know" was fueled by Gehring's subterranean bass filtered through some odd pulsing pedal that induced feedback and myriad kaleidoscopic squeals -- not the normal approach to the four-string. Colour Trip classics "Kaleidoscope" and "So High" were met with massive audience response. "Rip" owned just like it does on record. Even "Starrsha," from the band's self-titled 2007 EP, made a quick appearance to appease the old-timers. It bears noting the quite impressive array of guitars and alternate tunings Frazier employed, a sign of highly evolved musicianship that perhaps belies the band's punk overtones.

The band was in great company Thursday. The evening, presented by Seattle shoegaze label Neon Sigh, included Portland-area revivalists Sundaze and WL. Both acts' clear, effects-heavy sets suggest evidence that the Pacific Northwest sips from the same potions as the Texas heroes. Buy Mauve from Sonic Unyon right here. -- Edward Charlton

Ringo Deathstarr: Internerds | Facebook | YouTube | SoundCloud

Selected Previous Ringo Deathstarr Coverage:
YouTube Rodeo: Ringo Deathstarr's "Kaleidoscope"
YouTube Rodeo: Ringo Deathstarr's "So High"
YouTube Rodeo: Ringo Deathstarr's "Imagine Hearts"
Today's Hotness: Ringo Deathstarr
Ringo Deathstarr Will Storm Japan, U.K., Issue "You Don't Listen" Single
Ringo Deathstarr "In Love" b/w "Summertime" Due 9/14
Today's Hotness: Ringo Deathstarr
Today's Hotness: Ringo Deathstarr
Clicky Clicky Music Blog: The Best Records Of 2007

September 23, 2012

New Music Night 7 with DJs Brad Almanac + Jay Clicky Clicky | River Gods | 27 Sept.

New Music Night 7 Escape From Kitteh's Death Robot
Didja miss us? Well, no matter, we missed you, and so New Music Night returns for its seventh manifestation this very Thursday, Sept. 27, at River Gods in Cambridge, Mass. Here's the Facebook event page. Your DJs continue to be Brad of Bradley's Almanac and Jay of Clicky Clicky. It all happens from 9PM-1AM. You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say or do can and will be held against you in a court of law. You have the right to an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be provided for you. Do you understand these rights I have just read to you? It's not just the place to be, it's the place to listen. Also, beer. For a sense of what you're getting into, check out Brad's playlist from the May event, or our own. Solid. Sold? Thinking about it? Here's the Facebook event page. We've had a long summer off and our coffers are overflowing with delicious, high-value, new and newer indie rock, so come hear the best of what indie rock has had to offer during the last five months. You'll like the way you look, I guarantee it.

River Gods
125 River Street
Cambridge, MA

Accessible via Red Line at Central Square.

Footage: Lilys' "February 14th" Live at Chickfactor | Sept. 22

Video of last night's Lilys set at the Chickfactor 20th anniversary show in San Franciso at the Rickshaw Stop courtesy of superfan and friend-of-the-blog @MGrooves.

September 21, 2012

Today's Hotness: Earthquake Party, Pile, Screaming Maldini

Earthquake Party! -- Let's Rock, OK? (detail)

>> Earthquake Party! is back with three new songs spanning four minutes total, a brutalist pop assault that is somehow impossibly more raucous and frantic than the Boston trio's dynamite Vs. Pizza three-song cassette of a year ago. While the young band does not have a large catalogue of original recordings, it has certainly maximized them: Vs. Pizza was followed in the spring by a convulsing, electrifying video for its lead tune "Pretty Little Hands." The pressurized, careening kineticism of that video persists on the new, triple A-side cassette Let's Rock, OK?, which features the blistering hot numbers "Little Pet," "Hello Weirdo" and "One More Night Could Ruin Us." "Little Pet" recalls vintage Slumberland Records acts, but all three tracks earn the A-side demarcation as the Soundcloud embed below attests. The songs were recorded live to two-track, half-inch tape Aug. 25 at Allston's Mad Oak Studios, and the energy level is so high the tape can barely contain them. Let's Rock, OK? is available in a limited edition of 34 pieces being sold on the trio's current minitour, and we imagine those cassettes are long gone. The imprint Mystic Steamship Co. will sell a second edition of 100 cassettes plus digital download from Oct. 5. Earthquake Party! plays a homecoming show at Great Scott this coming Tuesday, then unwinds another short skein of dates skipping down to Atlanta and back in early October, before returning home once more for shows at The Rosebud in Somerville Oct. 13 and at Great Scott Oct. 18. All that touring costs money, and Earthquake Party! are running a very modest Kickstarter campaign to amass funds for gas, food and lodging. Premiums start for backers pledging at least $5, and run the gamut from a personal postcard from the road to an entire meal delivered to you. Check it out here, and toss some scratch the band's way if you can to help guarantee they'll actually make it back, yeh?

>> Maybe in the "Punk Rock Academy" conceived by the late, lamented Atom And His Package, Pile's new single, the curiously twangy and tense post-hardcore bash-and-pop "Prom Song," would actually be played at the prom. The displays of power in Boston-based Pile's tune gradually obliterate the swaying verses and serene, melodic passages under a pummeling of guitar, bass and drums that hits like an animated .gif of a tsunami: serially, relentlessly. As with the old chestnut "Stairway To Heaven," prom-goers would have to sort out what to do when "the fast section" (or in the case of Pile's jam, the bass-chugging, cymbal-smashing, lead guitar-lashing final 90 seconds) commences, but that's why they invented punch bowls, people. "Prom Song" is taken from Pile's forthcoming third long-player Dripping, which Exploding In Sound will release Oct. 23. The record will be available as a download, digipak CD and a limited edition of 500 vinyl pieces (the first 100 orders will be fulfilled with white vinyl, and apparently the white vinyl is nearly sold out). The quartet rounded out a tour earlier this week in Philadelphia, but it has three Massachusetts dates in the coming weeks: Great Scott in Boston Sept. 27; O'Brien's in Boston Oct. 13; and Sierra Grille in Northampton Oct. 18. A tour to support the release of Dripping commences Oct. 20 with Pile's appearance at the much-anticipated Gimme Tinnitus / Exploding In Sound CMJ Showcase. Pile's debut LP Jerk Routine was issued in 2009; the second LP Magic Isn't Real materialized the following year.

>> What this complete insanity coming from the Screaming Maldini camp? Apparently the second single taken from its forthcoming self-titled full-length debut for the song "Summer Somewhere" will be released via "uber-limited-edition sunglasses!" This according to a recent Facebook status update. The venture has Alcopop! Records proprietor Jack 'Pop's fingerprints all over it, don't it? We've previously written about the single here, so no need for us to reiterate. But seriously? A single on (or via, anyway) limited edition sunglasses! Very impressive indeed, lads and lasses, very impressive.

September 19, 2012

And Then This Happened: The Greatest Shirt Ever, or Deerhoof Rock The Middle East, Cambridge, MA | 18 Sept.

Deerhoof captured live in concert by friend-of-the-blog Joshua Pickering. View his entire portfolio right here. San Francisco-based Deerhoof are on the road for much of the rest of the year supporting the release of its twelfth full-length, Breakup Song, which is available from Polyvinyl Record Co. right here.

September 18, 2012

Original Lemonheads Dando And Deily Reunite For Ryan Adams-Produced LP Featuring Juliana Hatfield, Blogger Dreams Realized

[PHOTO: Dando and Deily in 2010 by Joshua Pickering, used with permission]

Perhaps it's not a bombshell on the order of the Mittens video, but Ryan Adams' tweet last night announcing he is producing a new Lemonheads record featuring both Evan Dando AND Ben Deily, as well as Juliana Hatfield on bass, certainly shook the earth for music fans. We caught up with Mr. Deily this morning, who confirmed the news and told us he will fly to Los Angeles tomorrow to begin tracking songs to tape. Perhaps a recorded reunion of the O.G. lineup of Lemonheads was inevitable, following the long-awaited live reunion of Mr. Dando and Deily at the 2010 SXSW festival that we wrote about here. But Deily tells Clicky Clicky the recording plans with Adams -- who will also drum on the planned album -- only solidified after he received a call from Dando three weeks ago. "Of course, my piss-poor listening skills being what they are, I misunderstood initially and thought the date [to record] was November 20th... and was panicking anyway, [regarding] song development," Deily said. "Then, of course, when I realized (about a week ago) that I had ONE WEEK to buy a ticket, get time off and write as many half-decent songs as I could, then, well, I just relaxed. Because of course THAT'S IMPOSSIBLE."

Dando, Deily and Ms. Hatfield have already demoed an unknown number of songs, and folks luckier than us have heard them. Given the very compressed timetable for writing material before tape starts rolling tomorrow, it's certainly likely that the storied act will revert "back to the punker sounds," as Adams tweeted. As everyone over the age of 35 knows, Hatfield played on Lemonheads' commercial breakthrough It's A Shame About Ray, which celebrated its 20th anniversary last year. That record followed the band's excellent, but wrongly overlooked, major label debut Lovey by two years, which in turn arrived a year after Deily left Lemonheads in 1989 to commit to academics at Harvard. As Clicky Clicky readers know, Deily has been musically active in the interim with projects including Pods and his current vehicle Varsity Drag. Things have been relatively quiet in the Varsity Drag camp, however, since the release of the excellent long-player Night Owls in 2009 [review]. The most recent new music from Deily came in the form of a score to a 2011 production of Hamlet in Boston, some of which can be heard at Soundcloud here. A version of The Lemonheads featuring Dando and Hatfield has a tour booked next month supporting Psychedelic Furs, and full dates are posted below. We will certainly keep you abreast of the progress being made on the new album as we are able. For now, treat your ears to some classic tunes.

10.12 -- St. Louis, MO -- The Pageant
10.14 -- Minneapolis, MN -- First Avenue
10.17 -- Royal Oak, MI -- Royal Oak Music Theatre
10.19 -- Glenside, PA -- Keswick Theatre
10.20 -- Port Chester, NY -- Capitol Theater
10.21 -- New York, NY -- Best Buy Theater
10.22 -- Washington, -- @ Howard Theater
10.24 -- Asheville, NC -- Orange Peel
10.25 -- Atlanta, GA -- Variety Playhouse
10.27 -- St. Petersburg, FL -- State Theatre
10.28 -- Miami, FL -- Grand Central
10.29 -- Orlando, FL -- House of Blues

September 15, 2012

Review: Everyone Everywhere | Everyone Everywhere (2012)

We flip through Martin Esslin's "The Theater of the Absurd" occasionally, driven by a recollection of how the book miraculously seemed to illuminate everything -- not just theater, not just literature -- when we read it a couple decades back. Criticism of texts concerned with the innate absurdity of the human condition and the inane social constructs created to deal with it: it seemed like the ultimate decoder ring for a disaffected late teen.

And while we can never regain that feeling of encountering a unified theory of everything within the pages of the book, its summation of Harold Pinter's "The Homecoming," seems particularly relevant to the work of Philadelphia-based emo heroes Everyone Everywhere: "the play presents a sequence of realistic (or at least realistically explicable) events which at the same time could be, might well be, fantasy, a wish-fulfillment dream. On either level the play makes sense. But its poetic force lies in the ambivalence between them."

It's a broad leap, the one that gets you from criticism of modern theater to the key to the latest record by a superlative contemporary punk rock act, but not an impossible one. Everyone Everywhere's wide-eyed observations and elegant arrangements of electric guitars, vocals and harmonies, and rhythm section regularly steer toward the absurd. One of many highlights from the band's first full-length (also self-titled, an especially absurd move post-Weezer), the song "Music Work Paper Work," contains the lyric "look in the mirror and try to raise one eyebrow... it's pretty weird." Out of context it seems like an arch statement, but the majority of Everyone Everywhere fronter Brendan McHugh's lyrics address the mundane and frame it with a sense of innocent wonder. And maybe it's delivered with a wink and maybe it's not: as stated supra, the poetic force lies in the ambivalence. Accepting that ambiguity doesn't render confronting it any less tiring, however, as acknowledged by McHugh's weary yen for escape in opener "I Feel Exhausted" ("live in daydreams / I choose fiction / I feel exhausted"). Indeed, ambiguity (a critic dealing with a larger subject might instead here say modernity) and efforts to confront it echo the attractive, prickly friction between Mr. McHugh's Slacker-styled lyrical bent and the cracking, buoyant punk the quartet (rounded out by drummer Brendan Graham, guitarist Tommy Manson and bassist Scottoline) emits.

The music on the new long-player is as bracing as ever, and it continues to rely on big melodies, pulse-quickening tempos, wiry guitar leads and well-measured dynamics to please the palate of today's discerning indie rocker. Everyone Everywhere has somehow managed to up its already very substantial pop game to Davey Von Bohlen-levels of genius, a prime example of which is album closer "Wild Life," which would have been at home on any of the recent Maritime LPs. Like those of New Order's Bernard Sumner, McHugh's lyrics have historically seemed less than weighty ("Cool Pool Keg Toss Pete" from the 2008 EP A Lot Of Weird People Standing Around describes a really awesome party), but succeed every time because of a throbbing emotional resonance. On the new collection they are perhaps as emotional as the tag "emo" suggests: far from playfully threatening to throw an empty keg and lawn chairs into a pool, McHugh here is anxious, worried, sweating the big things and deeply personal things. The stunning emotional core of the record is laid bare during the chorus to "No Furniture," when -- after describing the atmosphere of a recently cleaned-out apartment, collateral damage to a collapsed relationship -- the rhythm section and guitars back off and McHugh pleads "spare me the car ride home." He desperately reasons "we can move around, do nothing, say nothing" and later, sardonically, "I guess it's fine we can all go and do whatever we want." It's a tragic resignation to a new reality. And it is the sort of powerful narrative that, coupled with the band's increasingly deft composition, leads this reviewer to where he doesjn't want to go, because the assessment oversimplifies the very significant accomplishment that is Everyone Everywhere (2012): the new record is the product of maturity as much as it is a product of skill. Whatever the reason, Everyone Everywhere, self-released by the band last month and available for sale right here on blue-green vinyl and digital download, is a triumph.

Everyone Everywhere: Internet | Facebook | Bandcamp

September 13, 2012

Today's Hotness: Dinosaur Jr., The Album Leaf

Dinosaur Jr. -- I Bet On Sky (detail)

>> The inside baseball on our review of the new and 10th Dinosaur Jr. record that was published by The Boston Phoenix today is that it had a completely different lede for weeks, one that was ultimately too complicated and too long. We had to bin it because it gobbled too much real estate in a 200-word assignment. The lede was something to the effect that "this is not your father's Dinosaur Jr., and isn't it crazy that the band has been around long enough so that the assessment 'this is not your father's Dinosaur Jr.' can literally be true?" I Bet On Sky is an excellent record, and a very good Dinosaur Jr. record, but sonically it is markedly more subdued than the music of the original lineup's first heyday in the mid- and late-'80s. There's great songs and lots of crunching bass here, but no discordant noise, little desperate abandon, fewer of the face-melting guitar solos that fronter J Mascis built his reputation upon. That said, the strength of the record is something that has been there all the time: innately brilliant songwriting and a surprisingly satisfying conventional tunefulness. As we said in the final newsprint edition of The Phoenix that thunked into plastic streetboxes today, "the punk scramble and six-string shred that fans crave is bottled into the uptempo scorcher 'Pierce The Morning Rain.' The set also contains pleasant elements of déjà vu: the piano embedded in brilliant opener 'Don't Pretend You Didn't Know' recalls spectacular moments from the acclaimed 1993 set Where You Been. And, hewing to a tradition that harks all the way back to 1988's Bug, Sky closes with 'See It on Your Side,' a long brooder supporting formidable cascades of blaring lead guitar." That's a lot to like. I Bet On Sky is available now from Jagjaguwar Records here, and you can stream the entire record via NPR right here, or just the first single from the set, "Watch The Corners," via the embed below.

>> Forward/Return, the title of the new, self-released EP from veteran poptronica act The Album Leaf, communicates an influence of travel on the music of longtime band architect Jimmy LaValle. There is more than a little truth to that, as he has gone from being a drummer in the acclaimed post-punk outfit GoGoGo Airheart in the late '90s, to post-rock instrumentalist in Tristeza, to a deal with Sub Pop, to working and touring with Sigur Ros, to having his music featured in shows like "The O.C." and in film soundtracks. That range of experience and relative measure of success make it all the more interesting that LaValle is now self-releasing his music. Perhaps it's further evidence of larger-name musicians embracing the possibilities of the digital age. And perhaps that will increasingly become the (non-?)destination of the journeys undertaken by today's moden working musician. Unlike the big, tense, and melodramatically ambient work of the band's well-known Sub Pop triptych of albums In A Safe Place, Into The Blue Again, and A Chorus Of Storytellers, the lead single from the new collection, "Descent," sounds care-free, even jazzy. It's a windows-down, autumnal car ride kind of electronica. The instrumental song sets up a simple drum pattern the support post-rock-inflected guitar passages and a nice repetition to establish an easy groove. Perhaps a nod to the past and the ground LaValle's covered? It recalls the mighty Hood's 2005 album Outside Closer, and that record's ability to achieve such cinematic and pretty sadness. Buy Forward/Return exclusively from Insound here, and stream the track "Descent" from the forthcoming set below. Our executive editor previously reviewed The Album Leaf's Seal Beach EP for Junkmedia here in 2005. -- Edward Charlton

September 9, 2012

Nosferatu D2 Legacy Revisited, Remastered Recording Of Final Show Now Available From Audio Antihero

The mighty, mighty Nosferatu D2, in their prime

The legacy of largely overlooked but wholly genius indie rock duo Nosferatu D2 has experienced yet another unlikely echo, as an enterprising reporter with PRI's "The World" radio program last month once more amplified the startling singularity of the defunct Croydon, England band. Featuring interviews with fronter Ben Parker, who these days is writing plays and fronting an expanded version of his Superman Revenge Squad, as well as Audio Antihero Records founder Jamie Halliday, the radio piece is embedded below, and is very much worth a listen. We've written perhaps more words than anyone about Nosferatu D2 and Mr. Parker, who formed the band with his brother and largely architected its uncompromising attack: clean but aggressive guitar, thermonuclear drumming and more desperately dark lyrics than often could be contained by the meter of the verses. "The World" reporter Brendan Mattox gets great stuff. Of the band's dissolution in 2007, Parker tells him, "I think I realized how angry we were. And how I almost had to put on this angry persona to play the gigs for Nosferatu D2." And then Mr. Mattox breaks a little news, which is now made manifest: today, almost three years after Audio Antihero launched with its maiden title, Nosferatu D2's We're Gonna Walk Around This City With Headphones On To Block Out The Noise, the label is releasing for free a remastered version of a live recording of the Croydonites' final show.

On March 5, 2007, the band performed on a bill with two other then-young acts that have since gone on to much wider acclaim: Los Campesinos! and Sky Larkin. No one apparently knew at the time this was to be ND2's last show, and the cracking bill speaks optimistically about the prospects for all three acts. Los Campesinos! had just release a debut single and was weeks away from signing with Arts & Crafts. Notably, Gareth Campesinos! was an ND2 fan and championed the act's full-length upon Audio Antihero's release of same in 2009, giving the full length what was likely its biggest boost up until "The World" aired its piece a couple weeks ago. Much like We're Gonna Walk Around This City..., the live show recording was previously available -- at least back in 2007 -- as a free download on Last.FM, although, originally the opener "Colonel Parker" was omitted because the first few seconds weren't recorded. Audio Antihero has enlisted label signatory (and brilliant recording artist in his own right) Benjamin Shaw to remaster the live set, which is now available for free download right here. Considering the basic manner in which we expect this audience recording was made, the sound quality is quite good, and we highly recommend you acquire this important document of an amazing act. It includes tracks not present on Nosferatu D2's sole release (although completists will recognize certain of them from compilations released in recent years). Chief among these rarities is the taut rocker "Man At War With Himself," an unforgiving and desperate tune splattered by drums that abruptly halts well short of two minutes after hinting at a chorus that ends before it becomes obvious. It's a special song from a remarkable snapshot of a band taken from us before its time. Listen to "Man At War With Himself" via the embed below, then click through the get the entire eight-song set.

September 7, 2012

Today's Hotness: The Raveonettes, The Cherry Wave, Videotape

The Raveonettes -- Observator (detail)

>> We won't go so far as to say we dislike The Doors, as we spent far too many happy times with family in our formative years listening to the act to turn our back on them. There are even songs we look forward to hearing, such as "The WASP (Texas Radio and The Big Beat)" and "Love Her Madly" (particularly the piano playing on the latter cut). But the bloated blues often purveyed by the band now sounds lazy, and the faux mysticism and sophomoric intellectual tripe offered by Jim Morrison, well let's just say that ever since we turned onto alternative and punk music in the mid-'80s we haven't had any time for that. We bring this up because, as we referenced in our review of the new Raveonettes record Observator published by The Boston Phoenix this week, we had a moment of genuine fear that The Doors' influence on Raveonettes songwriter Sune Rose Wagner might alter his band's terrific and fizzy noir pop. In collecting materials as part of our research for the review we noted Mr. Wagner more than once professing taking inspiration from Morrison and company, and we were concerned that influence would manifest itself audibly on Observator. Fortunately, that didn't happen. As we summed up in the Phoenix: "Instead, The Raveonettes here plot the aural dimensions of a timeless autumn. Ever-present reverb casts long chiaroscuro shadows across undeniable pop hooks in uptempo strummers 'Downtown' and 'Till the End.' Observator's melancholy California come-downs are equally arresting, including opener 'Young and Cold,' one of three songs featuring piano (a first for the Raveonettes, now six albums deep" into its career. Read the entire review right here. Observator is a very rewarding collection perfectly suited to the change in season that is just about upon us. Stream the album cut "Observations" via the Soundcloud embed below, or stream the entire record over at right here. The Raveonettes will perform at Boston's Paradise Rock Club Oct. 7; buy tickets here.

>> The delightfully gnarly noise-pop on the recent self-titled EP from Glasgow's The Cherry Wave captured our interest, as it fires aural pleasure centers first activated in our brains more than two decades ago. Much is made of the more produced and synthetic qualities of My Bloody Valentine’s Loveless, particularly by the many shimmering bands whose work interprets it. However, considerably less focus is placed these days on the early arc of MBV, and the sounds that the fabled act explored before releasing the aforementioned, genre-defining album. It's a shame too, as it's one of the best damn moments in rock music's endless evolution. MBV’s earlier recordings don't hide the band's love of the scuzzy American indie and hardcore underground, inspired as they were by noise rockers like Sonic Youth and Dinosaur Jr. In turn, of course, My Bloody Valentine influenced countless others, including The Telescopes, The Ecstasy of Saint Theresa, and later Male Bonding, and now The Cherry Wave. The Glaswegian quartet, which played its first live gig only last month, extends the fine tradition with its five-song, aggressive and noisy set that affirms once more the practice of marrying blissed chord structures and dejected vocals to punky angst. Opener "Doe Eyes" touts enthusiastic and scraping guitar tracks so clotted with rich grit that they sound three dimensional. Overly dry drum tracks offer an unexpected and interesting contrast to the faraway reverb and trebly guitars on songs such as "Indian Summer." That initially might seem like a music production no-no, but it ends up grounding the mix and emphasizes the dangerous teen-hardcore aspect that lurks throughout this release and gives it real spirit. Grab this "gaze-punk" release from Bandcamp right here for a grand total of... nothing! The EP is slated for physical release on cassette next month via Good Grief (which, we presume, is this). A new EP is expected from The Cherry Wave in December, according to a post on Facebook. -- Edward Charlton

>> Pleasant surprises abound on This Is Disconnect, the full-length debut self-released by Chicago-based guitar-pop quintet Videotape Sept. 4. First there's "Static," the earworm that opens the set, which we discuss further below. Then there's the clear, yet maxed-out production that isn't afraid to keep the guitars panned and big in a way that would make Butch Vig flash a smug smile in his mid-'90s flannel factory. And finally, singer Sophie Liegh's assured vocals are a real treat, pairing less typically feminine affectations and modest allure with precise melodies. Videotape exudes a workman-like quality that doesn't seem as evident in indie music these days as it was in decades past. Of course, this reviewer is thinking of female-fronted mainstays like Throwing Muses or The Breeders, and how those groups never overshadowed their focus and taste with mystery and empty style. Sure, the Chicagoans trade in carefully conceived guitar effects and minor chords, but only to the extent that they serve the song toward building clean and pounding tracks that can appeal to anyone. Aforementioned highlight "Static" doesn't eclipse the two-minute mark, but manages to corral therein a choppy and danceable guitar lead, a demanding verse melody, sudden tempo breaks and an ethereal bridge. "No One" offers hard-hitting grunge slinkiness that somehow still feels fresh (the tune also borrows a fair bit of the great riff from Lilys' slacker-oddball "Evel Knievel"). Elsewhere, "The Creeps" captures what it must be like to have Florence And The Machine attempt the riot-grrrl-politik that characterizes Sonic Youth's Dirty. With all those pop smarts paired with such brevity, one could say that Videotape is a dream-pop analogue to Clicky Clicky-approved indie poppers Hospitality. Based on the strength of This Is Disconnect, it is certainly an exceptional band with big and open aspirations, and we're hopeful that any success they enjoy is indicative of a larger cultural shift toward their noble thinking. Buy the album via Bandcamp right here. -- Edward Charlton

September 5, 2012

Today's Hotness: Night Fruit, Screaming Maldini

>> Cambridge, Mass.-based dream pop trio Night Fruit today unleashed a new single "Human Touch," and no, old people, it's not a Bruce Springsteen cover (although, if you'll permit the aside, the theme is similar, although The Boss could not foresee the dramatic change in the mediation of human interaction the Cantabrigians concern themselves with here). The tune curiously constructs widescreen romance from stabs of icy '80s synth, serial arabesques of bright melodic guitar and deliciously boxy drumming. Foregrounded, of course, is fronter Amanda Dellevigne's unmistakable and bell-clear alto. All told, the composition is more spare than the band's break-out, stand-alone single "Dark Horse," which was released in December, but no less affecting. "Human Touch" is the first single from a planned full-length debut slated for release in early 2013, and Night Fruit is supporting the former release with a week of live dates in California, which we believe represents the band's first foray to the west coast (Night Fruit toured the midwest in April and the northeast more recently). The new single was recorded and mixed by Night Fruit drummer Luke Sullivan and the lush, sensuous accompanying video embedded above was filmed and edited by Barry Marino (better known, for now anyway, as the drummer for Boston's mighty The Hush Now). We love how Mr. Marino makes his lighting dance, and rubs the effect up against shifting focus from the lens. Night Fruit play a tour homecoming show at O'Brien's Sept. 29, and we suspect that will be a very good show, indeed. In the meantime, download an MP3 of "Human Touch" at Soundcloud right here.

Night Fruit: Facebook | Tumblahhhh | Bandcamp | Vimeo

09.15 -- Los Angeles, CA -- Silverlake Lounge
09.16 -- Long Beach, CA -- Que Sera
09.17 -- Long Beach, CA -- Harvelle's
09.18 -- Los Angeles, CA -- The York
09.19 -- San Diego, CA -- Soda Bar
09.20 -- San Francisco, CA -- Thee Parkside
09/22 - Los Angeles, CA - Permnanent Records
09/29 - Boston, MA - O’Brien's Pub

>> Sheffield, England-based pop savants Screaming Maldini have announced the second single from its forthcoming full-length debut will be for the song "Summer Somewhere." Fans may recall the video we posted here early last month of a live performance of the band a capella-bombing a local thrift store with the characteristically asymmetrical pop confection. We are very eager to hear the song with fully realized production, and Alcopop Records and HipHipHip Records will oblige, issuing the single Oct. 15 in the U.K. and France respectively. Presumably the long-awaited, self-titled full-length album we've been waiting for and talking about since April will follow not long after. The single for "Summer Somewhere" will be rounded out by two remixes selected from among those the band is soliciting from fans. The creators of the chosen remixes will be offered slots DJing at a launch party for the single Screaming Maldini is planning for Oct. 13; the event will also feature a DJ set from Oxford legends Foals and a suppporting live set from locals Cats:For:Peru. There's much to anticipate coming out of the Maldini camp this fall, so you'd best just sit down and start anticipating.

September 4, 2012

Review: Bob Mould / Sugar

As the 90's waned, the clumsy term "alternative rock" became essentially meaningless as the music scene it supposedly described continued to evolve and break apart. Artists and fans that were there for the heyday in the late 80's through to the early-to-mid 90's were becoming restless as that period's commercial energy ebbed and began to age out of the demographic. Sure, there was always and always will be an underground, but this particular period saw the mainstreaming of a particular thread of the underground (at least in the U.S. - many of the bigger alternative bands of this time were much more popular in the UK and Europe than they were here). So, by the late 90's, "alternative" might have meant Squirrel Nut Zippers to some people, but it meant Limp Bizkit to others and rarely the twain did meet. Can it be any coincidence that Bizkit's debut, the Zippers' breakthrough, and Bob Mould's The Last Dog and Pony Show all came out within a year of each other?

Mould spent the first decade of this century in a wilderness. He may have found that wilderness beautiful and stimulating to explore, but many of his longtime fans were not willing to follow him there. We'd worried we lost him to the club beats and Auto-Tune that he immersed himself in after declaring he was tired of the rock band life and was ending that period of his career with 1998's The Last Dog and Pony Show

And damn, you know what? He'd earned it. After just shy of a decade of Hüsker Dü and another decade of Sugar and a series of mostly good-to-great solo albums, if Mould just wanted make techno albums, then so be it. I'd rather he be creating what he wanted to create rather than forcing out what he thinks people want to hear. I may not like them, but them's the breaks. And, while it's overstating it to say the he made techno albums, he certainly poured on the electronica with little restraint. A few of those albums from the 2000's have songs that are approximately rock and roll, but there's a heckuva lot of that Auto-Tune and other synth flourishes making that pill bitter to swallow. One example: 2005's Body of Song opens with the rocker "Circles," a song that wouldn't have sounded that out of place on Black Sheets of Rain or some such. It's followed directly, however, by a song called "(Shine Your) Light Love Hope," which wouldn't have sounded that out of place on a latter day Cher album.

He'd been there before. When he followed the dissolution of Hüsker Dü - so firm in their punk legend status - with the Richard Thompson-influenced acoustic-heavy Workbook in 1989, plenty of fans howled then too. But certainly not all. There was certainly precedent for it on Hüskers albums, most obviously with songs like "Hardly Getting Over It." But nothing like that prepared us for the synth-soaked Modulate and the albums that followed.

As the Aughts wore on, there were teases. Both District Line (2008) and Life and Times (2009) were promoted as Mould's return to rock - the latter's artwork recalling Workbook, interestingly. Indeed there are some nuggets in there, but they didn't feel quite right. The loud guitars were there, and yeah, Fugazi's Brendan Canty played the drums, but the club music influence still weighed heavy, and that damn Auto-Tune still sticks in my craw. Would we ever again see that take no prisoners Bob Mould we all fell in love with? And in fear of?

Taking the cues from the lyrics and video to the lead single "The Descent," this new lightning bolt of an album, Silver Age (Merge), is driven by a back-to-basics ethos. It's a risky business for a reviewer to assert an artist's level of inspiration, so driven that will always be by our projections as listeners, but damn if it doesn't seem like Mould has returned to a very comfortable place indeed. So direct and effective are these dozen songs, that it makes all of the music of his previous dozen years seem all the more labored. Why did he work so hard to come up with all of that when he could've just done this?

The opening grind and throbbing bass line of opener "Star Machine" inspires immediate hope and a growing grin that will have you embarrassingly giddy when drummer Jon Wurster (who's been touring with Mould for the last few years) starts bashing those splashy hi-hats in the chorus. The following title track? Face-melting. The single? Perfect. And so it continues with an energized Mould and his raging guitars, Wurster and his bashing drums, and Jason Narducy's pulsing bass all the way through until the ferocious "Keep Believing" gives way to the album closing epic "First Time Joy." The latter of which appearing to have a teensy touch of that Auto-Tune I appear to be obsessed with, along with a slightly cheesy synth trumpet sound, but here it works. I'm on board. Let's please do this again next year.

Someone on Twitter said that Silver Age is the Majesty Shredding of 2012. That person is correct. Your move, Pixies.

Mould has said that Silver Age was driven in part by his revisiting the music he made with Sugar, his early 90's band, and it certainly sounds that way. Sugar's tenure was brief and perfect; and their pair of albums, EP, and noteworthy B-sides, the first of which was released in 1992, were so perfect, so in my wheelhouse at that moment, that they've been forever encoded in my DNA. It never occurred to me that they could go out of print, and Merge has saved us again by reissuing the catalog this year. Like many artists of his stature coming out of a band of Hüsker Dü's stature, Mould wanted Sugar to be a band. Bassist David Barbe and drummer Malcolm Travis were veterans in their own right and worthy of that task. But like with, say, Wings, some shadows loom too large.

 In '92, Bob Mould was only 5 years out of Hüsker Dü, but a pair of solo albums - a clean break with Workbook and a reclamation via Black Sheets of Rain - had pretty successfully re-framed and re-focused his career on his own terms. Sugar, as the name makes clear, was theoretically all about being a pop vehicle for Mould. There's plenty to make that case, for sure: it doesn't get much catchier than "Changes" or "Helpless." In retrospect, though, there's plenty of overlap. Make no mistake -  Black Sheets... was a seriously heavy record. A downer for some, but with an intensity rarely captured well. Howls of alienation abound, but songs like "It's Too Late," "Out of Your Life," and "Disappointed" pointed clearly in Copper Blue's direction. That debut changed the focus for sure - a lighter, brighter production and an emphasis on hooks shone some sunlight into the Mould's recently dark corner.

Then again, maybe not. A couple of tracks on that debut hinted that the heaviness was still there. Opener "The Act We Act," was one, for starters, but it was especially what was left off that made it clear that maybe not much had changed. The follow-up EP Beaster was made up of Copper Blue outtakes and painted a very different picture. The record's blood-soaked cover, religious themes, and core trio - "Tilted," "Judas Cradle," and "JC Auto" feel like an intense dive deep into Mould's psychosis. It felt almost regressive at the time it was released, but a welcome regression for many who connected with that angst.

Sugar's finale, File Under: Easy Listening, re-established and re-affirmed the band's pop mission and bettered it. It has a clearer, harder sound and a double-tracked vocal sound snuggled inside it all. There's no real evolution here but, with songs as good as these, they clearly hadn't dried up the well yet. As the pop hits go, "Your Favorite Thing" and "Gee Angel" pump up the hooks with a driving, insistent beat, and "Believe What You're Saying" is a breezy gem. Not a clunker in the bunch, save maybe Barbe's "Company Book" - it's a decent enough song, but it feels a bit leaden here among such hyperactivity.

All three of these records benefit greatly from the new mastering. It's a fine line between "bright" and "harsh," and they all leaned towards the latter. The edge has been ever so slightly refined and FU:EL in particular feels a lot more open. Listen often and listen loud, but don't forget to start with Silver Age.

-Michael Piantigini

Bob Mould: Intertubes | Twitter | Facebook | YouTube

September 3, 2012

YouTube Rodeo: Ringo Deathstarr's Tripped "Rip"

PledgeMusic backers are eagerly counting down the days until pre-orders and premiums arrive later this month, but Austin-based shoegaze giants Ringo Deathstarr have already delivered one gift, the video embedded above for the new single "Rip." The tune features on the trio's forthcoming sophomore set Mauve, which will be officially released domestically via Sonic Unyon Sept. 25 as we reported here last month. "Rip" delivers two minutes of fuzzed-out psych, with verses that swirl around bassist Alex Gehring's dreamy murmur and precipitate crushing, concise choruses. Ringo Deathstarr is currently wrapping a South American tour, but local fans will be able to feel this tune melt their own faces Oct. 19 when The Deathstarr headlines the first night of the recurring Deep Heaven Now psych/drone fest on the P.A.'s Lounge stage in Somerville [Facebook event page]. The band will kill the time between now and then with a North American tour that commences Sept. 14 in El Paso and stretches beyond Somerville to a terminal date in Baltimore Oct. 26. Full tour dates are posted below, and European and UK dates will likely follow. Mauve will be available on LP, CD and digital download and can be pre-ordered right here. The 7" vinyl for the "Rip" b/w "Scene" single is exclusive to UK label Club AC30 and is available from Sept. 10; pre-order here. Ringo Deathstarr's debut full-length Colour Trip was one of our favorite records of 2011.

09.14 -- El Paso, TX –- Lowbrow Palace
09.15 -- Tempe, AZ -- Club Red
09.16 -- Los Angeles, CA -- Echo
09.17 -- San Diego, CA -- Soda Bar
09.18 --Long Beach, CA -- Que Sera
09.19 -- San Francisco, CA -- Milk Bar
09.20 -- Portland, OR –- Slabtown
09.22 -- Bellingham, WA -– The Shakedown
09.23 -- Seattle, WA -- Comet Club
09.26 -- Salt Lake City, UT -- Bar Deluxe
09.27 -- Denver, CO -- Lions Lair
09.29 -- Lawrence, KS -- The Jackpot
09.30 -- Fayetteville, AR -- Lightbulb Club
10.01 -- Norman, OK -- Oklahoma University
10.02 -- Springfield, MO -- Highlife
10.04 -- St. Paul, MN -- The Turf Club
10.05 -- Milwaukee, WI -- Riverwest Public House
10.06 -- Chicago, IL -- Beat Kitchen
10.07 -- St Louis, MO –- Plush
10.08 -- Louisville, KY -- Zanzibar
10.09 -- Bloomington, IN -- The Bishop Bar
10.10 -- Dayton, OH -- South Park Tavern
10.11 -- Grandville, MI -- Corner Records
10.12 -- Windsor, ON –- Phog Lounge
10.13 -- Toronto , ON -- The Garrison
10.14 -- Hamilton, ON -- This Ain't Hollywood
10.16 -- Cleveland, OH –- Now That’s Class
10.17 -- Rochester, NY -- The Bug Jar
10.18 -- Easthampton, MA -- The Flywheel
10.19 -- Somerville, MA –- Deep Heaven Now 6 Festival
10.21 -- Brooklyn , NY -- Shea Stadium
10.22 -- New York, NY -- The Cakeshop
10.23 -- College Park, MD -– WMUC
10.24 -- Philadelphia, PA –- Pi Lam
10.25 -- Washington DC –- The Red Palace
10.26 -- Baltimore, MD –- Golden West Cafe