November 29, 2012

Varsity Drag, The Suicide Dolls, Unholy III and The I Want You | Midway Cafe, JP | 1 Dec.

Detail from AC/DC's Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap LP

Rock fans, lend us your ears. Yes, yes, we stole the image above, for you young people that there is a detail of the cover art from AC/DC's brilliant 1976 set Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap. But that's not why we've called you here. You are no doubt aware of the big, big rock show tomorrow evening, that being the apparently not-yet-sold-out Dinosaur Jr. bill at The Paradise, a show that will most certainly sell out now that The Sinclair has had to postpone the competing Titus Andronicus bill. But perhaps you are less familiar with your options for Saturday? This will not stand, because there is a mighty, mighty show occurring down in Jamaica Plain at Midway Cafe Saturday night.

Top-lining the evening are indie punk stalwarts Varsity Drag, Clicky Clicky faves who many readers likely saw early this month delivering a dominating set -- basically spur-of-the-moment -- at the big Clicky Clicky Community Servings Benefit Show. We heard two new numbers from Ben Deily and his henchpersons that night, and the band is promising to play some other newies this weekend to boot. Varsity Drag has recently gone back into the studio with storied producer Tom Hamilton, so it would seem the beast is stirring once more. Speaking of things beastly, that brings us to the main support for the night, Connecticut's own stoner punks The Suicide Dolls, who impressed us greatly -- particularly their totally sick drummer -- at the Tiger Mountain show in September. Also performing Saturday are The Unholy III, which features punk lifer Kevin Stephenson formerly of The Shods and et cetera, as well as garagey Boston upstarts The I Want You, whose recent video for the tune "Three Short Days" kept us amused for easily about that long a few weeks ago. Let us not belabor the point. This is going to be a hot one. Hit the embeds below for a taste of what you've got coming to you, then click over to the Facebook event page to digest the deets and pledge your allegiance.

November 28, 2012

Today's Hotness: Hush Delirium, Infinity Girl

Hush Delirium -- Taster LP

>> While certain indie rock elder statesperson are content to mount nostalgic (and sometimes quite lucrative) reunion shows, Mark Gardener of early 90's British shoegaze titans Ride has taken an interesting alternate route. After an "exile" from music following the dissolution of Ride, and with only sporadic forays since, Mr. Gardener has returned -- not with a band, however, but rather as co-curator of a music and art collective called Hush Delirium. The cohort's aptly titled debut The Taster is a self-released effort (and for a limited time, free to download here) bearing a nifty premise. Musicians within the collective each compose an atmospheric piece that is then used as inspiration for a painting. The result is a multimedia installation that tours galleries bringing shoegaze-inspired aural headspace to arts patrons, and presumably anyone else who walks through the door. Among others, the collective features the art of Hush Delirium founder Simon Welford, whose artwork is likely familiar to Ride fans. Other participating musicians include Adam Franklin of Swervedriver, Aziz Ibrahim of The Stone Roses and Dean Garcia of Curve, making this elite new club one of the swirliest and psychedelic currently going. Gardener's own piece on The Taster, "3rd Floor Elevation," grooves on a Brian Jonestown Massacre-styled, heroin-cool groove, while Mr. Ibrahim's "Heavens Rain" is a meditative sitar instrumental that echoes the wanderings of The Rolling Stones circa Their Satanic Majesties Request. The Cult of Dom Keller and SPC ECO (a moniker used by the aforementioned Mr. Garcia) turn in more traditional songs. One of the real gems on this set, however, is Jaq Gallier's rainy, female-led "Wild Is The Wind." Opening with ambient vocal sibilance and lilting background hums, the brief, almost-folksy tune works marvels with a gentle minimalism. Overall, The Taster is a great introduction to a hopefully thriving multimedia enterprise from an exciting community of artists merging their influences and styles as a means of looking forward instead of back. -- Edward Charlton

>> Boston-based shoegaze giants Infinity Girl today revealed details about a forthcoming EP. The quartet will self-release next week the short collection Just Like Lovers, which includes five songs and is the band's second official release of the year; the quartet issued its brilliant full-length debut Stop Being On My Side in May [review]. The new set (whose cover art you can inspect here) includes the tunes "Untitled (July)," "Taking Nothing," "Read Yr Mind," "Summer Gold" and "Not My Hang," and it will be feted with a sure-to-be-tremendous release show next week featuring Boston(-area) scene luminaries including power blues drone lords The New Highway Hymnal, noise rock behemoths Soccer Mom and the brilliant guitar wranglers Speedy Ortiz, who Monday celebrated the anniversary of the band's very first show. The release show next week at TT The Bear's Place in Cambridge, Mass., may be one of the few remaining times we'll see Infinity Girl before drummer Sebastian Modak leaves the country for an extended period, so all the more reason to get out and see this ridiculously great slate of bands. Full details of the show are at this Facebook event page, so click over and pledge your allegiance. We are given to understand that Just Like Lovers will be mastered between now and next week, and we hope to have some sort of music to share with you before too long. In the meantime, there's always Stop Being On My Side, which we encourage you to revisit via the embed below.

November 27, 2012

Rock Over Boston: Ted Leo With Bent Shapes | 26 Nov.

[Ted Leo and Bent Shapes at a house show in Brighton, MA to benefit 826 Boston on 11/26/2012. Photos by Michael Piantigini.]

November 26, 2012

Reviewed: Big Dipper, Banquet Hall

Big Dipper Crashes On The Platinum Planets' second track should have been its first. It's a lament, but also a prayer of sorts to activate the muse for this, the first new Big Dipper album in over 20 years (sort of) - hoping for "voices that guide a rising chorus that opens wide!" So goes Gary Waleik's "Robert Pollard," which worries that a classic era of songwriters like namechecked Paul McCartney, Brian Wilson, Jagger-Richards, and Newmans both Randy and Colin, is coming to end and all hope lies with Guided By Voices oracle Robert Pollard (who also created the album's cover art) may be the last man standing to carry the torch. The merits of that argument are called into question by its very existence as "Robert Pollard" is catchy as hell.

But maybe not as catchy as "Princess Warrior," drummer Jeff Oliphant's highly hummable tribute to cancer recovery. The refrain's plead "help me get back on my knees, I'm begging you, begging you please" is as big a hook as they make 'em. The album covers some wider ground too: Goffrier's "Joke Outfit" has biting guitar and smiting lyrics, and his "Hurricane Bill," "Pitbull Cruiser," and "Happy New Year" are grand, smooth pop. Waleik's "Sarah and Monica" recalls Dipper's longtime (and perhaps over-estimated) association with scientific and extra-terrestrial imagery (c.f. "Lunar Module," among others), but is as much a memory of summers past spent under "constellations in summer skies," though it does ask "is memory matter, in that it can be destroyed?"

Big Dipper Crashes On The Platinum Planet is everything we'd hoped it would be. Full of catchy hooks, idiosyncratic playful guitar jousting, and that essential silliness that make the band what it is. That latter bit may be the most important. Whether it's oddball characters called Lord Scrumptious, or the way Bill Goffrier hesitates while reaching for a high note in your face, or the way his guitar jabs in response to Gary Waleik's, Big Dipper continues to remind us that this whole music thing is supposed to be fun.

The self-recorded album out this week (very limited blue vinyl available here and signed CDs here) is their first since their 1990 major label debut (and finale) and their 1992 breakup. This reunion run started in 2008, when Merge, doing a great public service, reissued the band's Homestead catalog (an EP and two nearly perfect albums), along with a revelatory collection of an album's worth of material recorded but never released after the band's very short major label tenure. That collection, and the band's joyous reunion shows, hinted at what they were still capable of. Now we know for sure.

This is just the latest in a great classic Boston rock renaissance that I've talked a lot about in this space. These last few weeks alone have seen reunions of legends Human Sexual Response (who played literally every song they released in their short 80's run) and 90's indie pop favorites Fuzzy, who played a birthday show for one of their guitarist-singers, along with Tanya Donnelly playing a few Belly hits with Buffalo Tom as her backing band, along with the latter running through a few of their biggies as well.

This isn't just about reunions, though. I always closely associated Big Dipper with their contemporaries The Cavedogs as they trod the same boards around town and were in the same rough neighborhood of 'pop,' but the latter with their own bent and a bigger rock sound and more 12-string jangle. Like Big Dipper, the Cavedogs had their own flirt with the majors that led to their downfall. Their guitarist, Todd Spahr, spent the 90's leading greats Merang and then The Gravy before pulling up stakes and moving to Los Angeles. Save a couple of Cavedogs reunions (like this one a couple of summers ago), we haven't heard from him in awhile.

He finally resurfaces as a member of Banquet Hall, along with a couple of other Boston transplants. Rick Shaw, a criminally under-appreciated songwriter that some called the Godfather of the Northern Worcester County post-punk scene (by 'some' I mean I called him that) when he fronted his early band, Navy Blue Nuns (grab their great compilation here) before leading a couple of quality Boston bands like The Meltaways and Krebstar, handles the other guitar and Paula Kelly, who cut her teeth in cult legends Drop Nineteens and remained a prominent scene figure throughout the late 90's and early aughts, plays the bass and does some arranging as well.

After grinding it out in L.A. clubs for a few years now, the band has just released their debut album, What Could Possibly Go Wrong?, which is the sum of its great parts. Right off the top of it feels so great to hear Spahr's playful jittery guitar chords on leadoff track "Stars After Stars" and Shaw's pop classicist approach to "Puppets," with warm lounge harmonies from the Watson Twins. Later, Spahr's "Urban Renewal" betrays an Elvis Costello influence wrapped in a cozy acoustic guitar, Shaw's "Bells On" is the kind of heart-on-your-sleeve pop song that Boston songwriters (like, say, Buffalo Tom) seem to do so well, and the band resurrects an old Merang single to great effect with lost classic "Drunk and Quartered."

Here, have a listen:

-Michael Piantigini

Big Dipper: Facebook | Twitter 
Banquet Hall: Facebook | Bandcamp

November 25, 2012

20: Lilys | In The Presence Of Nothing

Lilys -- In The Presence Of Nothing

[UPDATED] Lilys' In The Presence Of Nothing is a hugely important record for us at Clicky Clicky HQ, one that features some of our favorite songs of all time. Foremost among these is the album closer "Claire Hates Me," but we also strongly favor the icy, narcotic stunner "Elizabeth Colour Wheel" and even the epic instrumental vibe-out "The Way Snowflakes Fall." Truth be told we had grander plans of memorializing the album's 20th anniversary, but the big-deal (to us) piece we had hoped to publish hasn't yet been delivered, so que sera sera. As we have another "20" feature slated to roll early next month, we wanted to make at least some remarks about In The Presence Of Nothing, the colossal full-length debut of the constantly shape-shifting Lilys, before 2012 gets away from us altogether.

In The Presence Of Nothing is a stone-cold shoegaze classic, one so good that, paradoxically, its brilliant execution may have earned it as much dismissal -- due to its strong, unmistakable and unapologetic My Bloody Valentine influence -- as acclaim. It was co-released in September 1992 by two storied labels, the still quite prominent Slumberland and the now sadly defunct Spin-Art, and it bore the dual catalog number DRYL 020 / Spin-Art 2. Band mastermind Kurt Heasley -- who, as regular readers know, continues to occasionally release Lilys records even now -- regularly changes the personnel of Lilys, but for In The Presence Of Nothing he was abetted by members of Velocity Girl, The Ropers and Suddenly Tammy!, as Wikipedia helpfully points out here. The record is long, long out of print, but we are hoping that some sane individual or group of individuals will one day rectify that. In the meantime, copies pop up on EBay now and again, and we were dumbfounded to see today that one completely INSANE individual is currently selling copy number 1 of the first edition of 500 In The Presence Of Nothing LPs, which affords us the opportunity to show you what the vinyl art and package (as opposed to the CD art above) looks like. Image 1. Image 2. Image 3. Image 4. [NOTE: as KF points out in the comments, all 500 copies of the original LP pressing were labeled "1 of 500," so we are slightly less dumbfounded by the above, but still...]

Enumerating the many reasons this record is special to us seems to straddle the line between pointless and self-indulgent, so we'll avoid getting too deep in to the underbrush in that regard. But we will say Lilys' full-length debut is among the records that changed our relationship to music forever, by showing us that excellent music wasn't only made by people you'd never meet in places you could never go. Music could be learned, amazing records could be made in places like Lancaster, PA -- as In The Presence Of Nothing was -- and not just in sterile, thousand-dollar-an-hour studios in New York, Los Angeles or London. That a more-than-reasonable fascimile of the sound on Loveless could be created for what has been rumored to be a tiny fraction of the budget of MBV's magnum opus, by dudes that you could go see play in local clubs: that was a mental game-changer for us. It brought it all home. It gave us the gumption to pick up a guitar, to have a much deeper relationship with music than we had previously. So happy belated 20th birthday, In The Presence Of Nothing. And goddammit, nobody outbid us for that number 1 LP, okay? Download two tunes from the album below courtesy of the very cool people at Slumberland Records.

Lilys -- "Tone Bender" -- In The Presence Of Nothing
Lilys -- "Claire Hates Me" -- In The Presence Of Nothing

November 22, 2012

Midriff Residency Night X: Home for Little Wanders Benefit With Soccer Mom, Eldridge Rodriguez, Ex-Planets, Relations

Midriff Residency Night X: Home for Little Wanders Benefit Show With Soccer Mom, Eldridge Rodriguez, Ex-Planets, Relations

We're grateful. You're grateful. It's Thanksgiving. Let's keep that feeling (sans the awful stomach pain we have right now) alive for a few days, long enough for you to drag your weary, overstuffed frame to Radio Saturday night for the latest installment of Midriff Records' year-long residency. This particular event is the 10th of its kind, but it is a special kind of special in that it serves both as a memorial of sorts for a friend dear to the Midriff camp who recently died, as well as a benefit for a cause close to that friend's heart, Boston's Home For Little Wanderers. Allow us to crib from The Home's web site for a moment: "The Home for Little Wanderers provides a seamless continuum of vital programs and services for every stage of child and family development. For more than 200 years, we’ve earned a reputation for doing whatever it takes to strengthen vulnerable families and keep children safe in their own communities, even when they don’t have family support. Serving children and youth from birth to 21, The Home makes a positive impact on over 7,000 lives each year through a network of services including behavioral health, therapeutic residential and special education, adoption and foster care. In addition, a number of innovative programs provide specialized assistance to youth transitioning to adulthood from state systems of care."

That's real shit. Important shit. Those things alone should be enough of an inducement to guarantee your patronage Saturday, but on top of it being a benefit for a good cause in honor of a righteous dude, you will also be rocked by Clicky Clicky faves Soccer Mom and Eldridge Rodriguez along with Ex-Planets and The 'Mom's 100m Records labelmates Relations. E.R. will be performing hits from his repertoire of The Beatings, Eldridge Rodriguez and No Love songs accompanied on the piano by Mel Lederman, also of the No Love cohort and formerly of Victory At Sea.

These Midriff residency nights have been, as our friend BRD has been known to say, something other than else. If you missed the Halloween show last month (as admittedly we did), you missed E.R. and friends including The Beatings' Erin Dalbec and Soccer Mom's William Scales doing a cracking set of Pavement covers. Fortunately, some enterprising individual recorded the set, and you can hear the entire thing via the Soundcloud embed below. We're also posting streams of Soccer Mom's recent cataclysmic single "A Canoe Shy" b/w "Brides," which is 31 flavors of awesome and which can be purchased via 100m Records right here. So chew on that along with your leftover turkey for the next 44 hours or so. Then get yourself to Radio Saturday night. Here's the Facebook event page, too, wherein you can pledge your allegiance.

November 20, 2012

Today's Hotness: Pile, Calories, Sunshine Frisbee Laserbeam

Pile -- Dripping

>> We've been meaning to circle back to our recent feature in The Phoenix on Pile, the Boston indie rock quartet whose formidable LP Dripping was released late last month. As the band plays a hotly anticipated tour homecoming show Wednesday night with now-band Metz and Northampton-based leading lights Speedy Ortiz, we figured there's no time like the present. Our conversation with Pile founder and fronter Rick Maguire was both long and interesting. He hand-rolled and smoked cigarettes, we drank some beers, we talked about music, it was delightful. One of the many things we didn't have the space to hammer in our Phoenix piece that we found remarkable was Mr. Maguire's understandable yet surprising lack of familiarity with acts from the late '80s and earlier '90s that Pile sounds like. Sure, he knows Jesus Lizard, Polvo and the like exist. He's even heard some of their records a bit. But Maguire said he wasn't conversant in their music. And then he said (well, we're paraphrasing) what we thought was a particularly smart thing: he said at this point he didn't WANT to know those bands' music well, he wouldn't want to be influenced one way or the other by hearing them at this point. We like that, that independent thinking, that drive to be pure. You can stream Dripping via the Bandcamp embed below; buy it from Exploding In Sound Records right here. It's a great record, dark, drop-tuned, regular outbreaks of mayhem, melody, aggression. The show tomorrow night is going to be awesome. Hit the Facebook event page here for details and to proclaim your faith.

>> Birmingham, England-based indie punk quartet Calories have revealed more about what they are doing these days, and how they are doing it, dispelling some of our questions about the recent revelation of Burning Alms yet adding new questions. So, for starters, Calories announced it will issue sometime around Dec. 1 a new EP titled "DMT," and there is an ace video for the strikingly effervescent tune right here. According to the band, the video had 1,000 views in just five days, which is none too shabby. As you can hear from watching the zany, "Benny Hill"-esque clip, "DMT" has a lighter touch that Calories' heretofore characteristic dense, blunt and forceful attack. Indeed, "DMT" is downright jangly. What else? Well, a Facebook status from the band refers to not one, but two new side projects. There's Burning Alms, which we already wrote about here last month, which is referred to as Thomas Whitfield and John Biggs'. But there is also a new bass-less project being helmed by Calories bassist Pete Dixon called Sunshine Frisbee Laserbeam, who is joined by two chaps Andrew Bullock and Ralph Morton. Sunshine Frisbee Laserbeam has apparently been busy making rock and rock videos as well, as evidenced by this recent video for the very great tune "Halloween." So chew on that, why don't you? No word yet on what formats Calories' "DMT" will be available on or what label will release it, but we'll keep up our vigil and bring word about the EP when we can. In the meantime, how about streaming Calories most recent, and quite excellent, full length Basic Nature via the embed below?

November 18, 2012

Review: The Snowy Owls | Within Yr Reach EP

Richmond, Virginia-based shoegaze quartet The Snowy Owls popped onto our radar about a year ago via the compelling digital single "Yr Eyes." The tune has proven to set the template for what has followed, as the dark, hazy promise of its JAMC-inflected fuzz and echo feels fully realized on the foursome's excellent new EP, Within Yr Reach. The act self-released the 30-minute set earlier this week and feted it with a release show in its hometown Friday night. Its eight songs double down on the band's '80s alternative rock and darkwave influences, presenting an affecting amalgamation of the early music of The Cure and The Chameleons that is as remarkable for its songwriting as it is for its consistent, pervasive tone. The Snowy Owls have a world view, and it is dark, concise, guitar-drenched and weirdly beautiful.

Within Yr Reach commences with one of the collection's two short intrumental tracks, "Pilcrow," a slow march of gauzy, reverbed chords from which catapults the firm beat of the title track. The song "Within Yr Reach" echoes It Hugs Back's early single "Other Cars Go," but eschews that band's motorik rhythmic tendencies in favor of just a touch more swing. Perhaps the best example of The Snowy Owls' relatively straightforward approach is the jaunty, feedback spangled rocker "Fortunate Isles," which trades on a sturdy rhythm, a simple arrangement of over-driven guitars, bass and drums, and well-conceived production, all of which highlight the fact that when you've got a great song with a great melody, there's no need for the extreme and heavy-handed auditory trickery many shoegaze acts favor. The foursome's respect for solid basics extends to a certain extent to fronter Matt Klimas' lyrics, which balance blurry abstraction and literal clarity, and even repeat certain imagery, to plot in simple terms the dimensions of an idealized -- if unconsummated -- relationship across the EP's eight songs. Within Yr Reach succeeds because the arrangements are relatively spartan, allowing each instrument to tumescently billow within the open aural space, even as Mr. Klimas and his band of merry men wash everything with reverbs and regularly distress the guitar leads with barely controlled distortions.

Brilliant and patient album closer "Falling" emerges from an elastic bass line into the sort of dysphoric dark vibe that made The Cure's Faith and Pornography so terribly affecting. Guitars gather for the chorus in proportion to the deepening reverb on Klimas' murky vocal. The play between the steady inevitability of quarter notes and so much saturated reverb, along with the song's wistful melody, makes it a fitting final statement for Within Yr Reach. Thanks to the good graces of Mr. Klimas, we are able to offer you a free download of the track, which you can snatch at this link. Stream the entire, excellent EP via the Bandcamp embed below; you can buy the collection at Bandcamp for a scant $3 American dollars for a limited time.

The Snowy Owls: Internerds | Facebook | Bandcamp | Twitters

November 16, 2012

Review/Preview: Eddie Japan | Modern Desperation Part 1

All the buzz in Boston rock this week is on Eddie Japan, who have been making the radio and blog rounds as they prepare to celebrate their new EP, Modern Desperation Part 1, tomorrow night at Cambridge's cozy Lizard Lounge.

Confidence ripples throughout these five tracks of tight pop - some driving, some jangly, all ambitious - that could only be have been made by a collection of scene veterans, several of whom are holding it down in more than one band.

The EP's anchor is undeniably showstopper "A Town Called Nowhere, " which every review will call "cinematic." I'll join them, because that's surely apt for this widescreen epic. Its a swing-for-the-fences arrangement of Spaghetti Western strings and horns and harmonies that hold aloft an ace vocal from songwriter David Santos.

Tomorrow's show will likely be one of the few - or only - times club-goers will get to see the full arrangement in person, as Eddie Japan augment themselves with a string section for their release party. It'll be a packed show, too, with The Daily Pravda and Gene Dante and the Future Starlets rounding out the bill. Grab yer tickets here.

The album is available now at many of your favorite digital outlets. Stream the entire thing via the Bandcamp embed below.

-- Michael Piantigini

Eddie Japan: Intertubes | Facebook | Twitter | Bandcamp

November 14, 2012

Review: Johnny Foreigner | Names EP

Daniel. Lauren. Tom. Sam. Jonny. Chloe. Sophie. These are the names of Names, the stormy new EP from Birmingham, England's noise-pop goliaths Johnny Foreigner. At bottom, the short, searing collection comprises four catchy, intricate songs, extending the sci-fi ARG soap opera futurepop themes of the band's dominating 2011 full-length referenced below. But Names is more than that: it's a renewed challenge from a band operating at the top of its game, a quartet brandishing kaleidoscopic, quasi-fictive anthems bent into denser and ever more sophisticated shapes by the out-sized songwriting talents of fronter Alexei Berrow and his cohort. As we've come to expect from the incredibly prolific and reliable act (which, among many other things, released Clicky Clicky's favorite album of 2011, the full-length Johnny Foreigner vs. Everything), the briskly paced songs bristle with hooks, melodies and ideas. Condensed and potent, the set contains no ballads, and each of four possible tunes carries the characteristic concoction of desperation and bravado that we first noted upon the release of Johnny Foreigner's first EP, Arcs Across The City, in late 2007 [review].

Sure, a lot has changed for the band in the intervening five years: Johnny Foreigner now boasts a different U.K. label (Alcopop!), a U.S. label (Swerp), and a second guitarist (Lewes Herriot, perhaps best known to date as the guy responsible for all of Johnny Foreigner's art from the blistering "Our Bipolar Friends" single onward). But the heart of the band -- its desperate energy, disarming sincerity and brilliant songcraft -- has yet to falter. "Maybe Daniel's All The Push I Need" opens the EP at break-neck pace, 140 seconds of sputtered lyrics, stop/start dynamics, and slashes of guitars spraying every which way. "Killing In The Name" does its best to pull itself apart with lyrics that almost fall out of meter, and lyrics that shout other lyrics down ("you don't get to say it! you don't get to say it!"), while at the same time keen attention to vocal harmonies and a quiet and sweet guitar section impose order where possible. That order is challenged by dense salvos of chords in the final third that do much to perpetuate an intensity that makes Names fly by in what feels like an instant. "O When Will This Honeymoon End?" is less chaotic and places great emphasis on vocal hooks and melody, and the repeated lyric "all these nights and all these chances" repeats in cascades to a calming conclusion, the kind and meaning of which one can't remember upon waking. The set closes with the brilliant anthem "3 Hearts," with its affecting confession "stop making sense, god knows I've tried." The song succeeds in reframing and restating the themes of the collection, has a nifty false ending, and is yet another marvel of clever composition.

And so Names does its job: we can't wait to hear more from the quartet. Not all four songs from Names are on offer in a single package; to whit, a t-shirt and digital pack from the band's American label exclusively includes "O When Will This Honeymoon End?"; a badge set and digital pack from the U.K. label exclusively includes "Killing In The Name." However, it is quite simple to get whichever extra song you need as a stand-alone download, so the minor inconvenience -- while still admittedly inconvenient -- is easily dispelled. Names was released by Swerp and Alcopop! Oct. 27; buy it via the links supra and stream it in its entirety via the embed below. Johnny Foreigner continues its trek across North America, the so-called Vs. The Atlantic tour, the dates of which you can review here at Facebook. The tour has been augmented with an additional slate of Canadian dates which are posted in this recent blog post from the band.

Selected Prior Coverage:
That Was The Show That Was: Johnny Foreigner | Bowery Ballroom
Review: Johnny Foreigner | Arcs Across The City EP
Review: Johnny Foreigner | Waited Up 'Til It Was Light
Review: Johnny Foreigner | WeLeftYouSleepingAndGoneNow
Review: Johnny Foreigner | Grace And The Bigger Picture
Review: Johnny Foreigner | You Thought You Saw A Shooting Star But Yr Eyes Were Blurred With Tears And That Lighthouse Can Be Pretty Deceiving...
Review: Johnny Foreigner | Certain Songs Are Cursed EP
Review: Johnny Foreigner | Johnny Foreigner Vs. Everything

November 12, 2012

Today's Hotness: Pacific Strings, Cold Pumas

Pacific Strings -- Woodgate Valley

>> UPDATED: For a while there Berlin-based Pacific Strings seemed willfully obscure, as there was barely any information about the act beyond its Bandcamp page. But Clicky Clicky doggedly pursued the truth on the Internerds, and we are now able to penetrate the entrancing haze surrounding the band largely thanks to the small indie Cass Flick Records. Belfast-based Cass Flick is selling a "super limited" edition cassette version (as well as digital download) of Pacific Strings' brilliant full-length debut Woodgate Valley; the release date is Nov. 19. A cached Last.FM page -- the live page has since been edited -- reports Woodgate Valley is "a concept record about love and god. In addition, soda and tommy wright III." We can't begin to tell you what that means. What we can tell you is that we now know the names of the people behind this beautiful, mysterious record: Daniel John Boyle, Florian Zeisig and Maggie Buck Armstrong, of the UK, Germany and USA respectively. We don't know a thing about the latter two, but we've got an inkling that Mr. Boyle may be the same fellow who was a founding member of Clicky Clicky faves Johnny Foreigner, and apparently our belief about "Mr. Boyle" (we are told this is a pseudonym) is incorrect, so let's make it three for three: we don't know these folks. According to the Cass Flick Big Cartel page for Woodgate Valley, the trio formed "in early 2012 after a chance meeting on a bus, recording the eight song mini-album in a summer house on the Polish border after only a few months together. The three [members] share vocals and instruments to create a sinuous, multi-layered yet accessible sound, a combination in their own words of 'pop obsession and new world atmospherics.'"

The effortlessly gorgeous record -- one of the best of the year -- is rife with soft focus reverbs that envelope the tunes like so many blankets in an unheated apartment, yet never disrupt the head bobbing grooves. While much of Woodgate Valley aims for the female-led sensuality of Mazzy Star, opener "Ithaca, NY" emphasizes a different strength. The male lead on the tune has a great voice that brings to mind that of The Magnetic Fields' Stephin Merritt and provides the perfect foil for the song's pillowy guitar loops and vocal blips. Album highlight "Do You Love Me?" touts a simple, beautiful melody, is relatively uptempo and features a fetching vocal from Ms. Armstrong; it is all delivered in such an understated manner that it is one of the best songs of the year. Sleepy, but insistent, Pacific Strings nonchalantly exhibit such a complete mastery of songcraft and mood that we're particularly excited to hear what they do next. Pre-order Woodgate Valley right here. -- Edward Charlton and Jay Breitling

>> That a post-punk renaissance is in progress overseas right now is self-evident and undeniable, with bands like Iceage, Male Bonding, as well as the previously Clicky'd Eagulls and Bos Angeles all channeling the genre's tense, violent passions. It's unsurprising, as this new generation of bands comes of age in a global economic slump not unlike that of the Thatcher-era Britain that informed key progenitor Joy Division's digitally-smeared masterworks. Come now Brighton, England's Cold Pumas, who heretofore have been responsible for a steady trickle of singles and comp appearances. The trio's newly minted debut full-length, Persistent Malaise, is a brilliant collection of tense rhythms and disciplined guitar and bass work. Lead single "Sherry Island" storms out of the gate with a tight, hypnotic groove that trades on the sort of kraut-beat that is so much the rage these days in psychedelic circles. The tune's simple two-note guitar motif in the intro hops in and out around the thudding bass-line until the steadily slowing tempo grinds the affecting clang and drone down to a halt. Cold Pumas singer Patrick Fisher's vocals are pleasantly reverberated and wistful, contrasting pointedly with the mechanical gyrations of the guitar, bass and drums. Album cut "The Modernist Crown" is denser and more melodic, with vertiginous guitar chords bending in the chorus, but the motorik rhythm continues to anchor the proceedings. Persistent Malaise was issued by Faux Discx, Gringo Records and Italian Beach Babes Nov. 5 in a limited edition of 500 LPs -- of which apparently only 46 remain -- as well as CD and digital download; here's a link to where you can buy, buy, buy. Cold Pumas are presently only gigging in the UK, but we're hopeful this wonderful full-length might put enough wind in their collective sail to get them to the States before too long. -- Edward Charlton

November 9, 2012

That Was The Show That Was: Clicky Clicky Community Servings Benefit Show Thank Yous And Wrap-Up

Community Servings Benefit Show featuring Guillermo Sexo, Johnny Foreigner, Varsity Drag and Infinity Girl

Thank you. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

A lot of people, places and things made this show happen, and they are, in no particular order: Carl Lavin; Kerri Lavin; Joe McMahon; Rafi Singer; Michael Marotta; Jeff Breeze; WMBR; Jed Gottlieb; The Dig; The Phoenix; The Boston Herald; Adam XII; RadioBostonDotCom; Anngelle Wood; WZLX; Nick Lorenzen; Tracy Gibbs; Tim Leahy; Sarafina Scapicchio; Gareth Dobson; Reuben Bettsak and the unearthly Guillermo Sexo; Sadie Dupuis and Speedy Ortiz; all the guys in Infinity Girl, who are the nicest dudes you'll ever meet; superheroes Benjamin Deily, Lisa Marie Deily and Joshua Pickering who together comprise the mighty Varsity Drag and who each deserve special recognition for their help; Alexei Berrow, Junior Elvis Washington Laidley, Kelly Southern and Lewes Herriot all of the fucking top serious Johnny Foreigner cohort, who we are proud to call our friends, including visual fifth man Benjamin Rausch and driver Evan Bernard; Johnny Foreigner's label heads J. Matthew Nix at Swerp and Jack Clothier at Alcopop; Brad Searles; William Scales, whose counsel we rely on regularly; Cameron Keiber; Richard Bouchard; Michael Piantigini; Berklee's The BIRN; Brendan Mattox at WERS. We are sure we forgot some people, for which we apologize, but the risk of forgetting someone is no excuse for not recognizing the rest of you. Cheers. Yr loved, drummed.

Despite the freak snow storm that blew in Wednesday night, the above-referenced show was a smashing success, albeit one scaled back somewhat by three inches of fairly unexpected slushy snow and 60 mile per hour wind gusts. The 100 or so folks who made it to Great Scott in Allston gave not one glaring expletive about what was going on outside once they made it through the doors, as all four bands on the bill turned in thrilling sets. Openers Infinity Girl, the hottest new band in Boston, brought their wall of sound in from the cold and made the dwindling ranks of the unfamiliar realize quickly why the band is becoming an ever-present fixture on bills around town. They normally lead off with "Please Forget," but this night they held it back, like a pitcher making a hitter wait for the fastball. It was a delicious set, and definitely the best we've seen the foursome play to date. Varsity Drag -- a very late addition to the bill after the snow forced Speedy Ortiz to cancel -- took the stage next, no sound check, hardly time for more than a "how's yer mum" as they strode through the doors and pretty much went right on stage, plugged into borrowed gear, and just slayed. Just turned in a murderously good set, filled with Clicky Clicky faves like "Summer Time," "Skinny Ties" and "Billy Ruane." It gets us every time, when they finish that latter song, and drummer Josh Pickering shouts "it's not the same!" Theirs was a commanding performance, and it included "Drowsy Owls" and "Mind Like A Sieve," new songs fronter Ben Deily is contributing to the planned Lemonheads reunion record we wrote about in September here.

After driving across Connecticut in the snow storm, a trek that took the band 10 hours door to door from New York to Boston, Birmingham, England-based noise-pop savants Johnny Foreigner finally made it onstage -- after some real-time soundcheck -- around 11:20. Just as quickly they dispersed from view, and then drummer Junior began the slow piano melody of the band's soul-crushing ballad "Johnny Foreigner vs. You," with fronter Alexei Berrow and bassist Kelly Southern singing the vocal off mic from different spots within the assembled throng, with many of the suddenly-very-young crowd singing along. The band slowly filtered back on stage, and the final note of "Johnny Foreigner vs. You" became the deafening squall of the first notes of the hyperfizzed anthem "Feels Like Summer." From there, the band turned in a shuddering, exhilarating, floor-shaking set for its Boston debut. Other tunes performed include at least two cuts from the brand new Names EP [review forthcoming], as well as classics "Eyes Wide Terrified," "With Who, Who And What I've Got," and "The Wind And The Weathervanes." A colossal rendition of "Salt, Peppa and Spinderella" inspired spirited moshing and generally threatened the structural integrity of 1222 Commonwealth Avenue. Johnny Foreigner closed with the classic early single "Sofacore," and with the final note the band ditched its gear and Ms. Southern led a giddy coalition of the willing back through the crowd and out the front door of the club to make snow angels on the sidewalk. Insane.

Boston psych-rock phenoms Guillermo Sexo, who are finishing up an extremely promising fifth collection recorded with Justin Pizzoferrato, turned in a focused, otherworldly set of hypnotic guitar workouts and steady grooves. It was the perfect way to ground and round out the evening, with singer/keyboardist Noelle Dorsey's incantations and swirling stage presence leading everyone on a journey inward. The quartet delivered thrilling iterations of "Colour The Noise" and "Skyline" from its most recent collection Secret Wild [review here], closed with the bright and elliptical new cut "Bring Down Your Arms," and then closed down the bar with the gang from Johnny Foreigner late, late in the evening. To say we are overjoyed by how the show went is an understatement, as not only was the music incredible, but we raised a nice chunk of money for Community Servings, which, as readers know, provides free nutritious meals to the chronically ill and their families. While Wednesday is just a fading memory at this point, the need for the services Community Servings provides never goes away. There are two ways anyone reading these words can help RIGHT NOW. First, if you are reading this sometime before Nov. 17, go buy a pie from our good friend Nick, who co-hosted the event with us. All of the money from your purchase goes to help feed those in need. If pie isn't your thing, you can click this link and make a donation of any amount to the organization. Finally, clear your schedules for 2013, 'cause were gonna do this again, for sure. How about some music to take us out?


November 7, 2012

Today Is The Greatest Day

C'mon, Boston. Come party with us tonight. It's for a great cause. All the details are right here.

November 6, 2012

YouTube Rodeo: The I Want You's Gleeful "Three Short Days"

There's a lot to like crammed into this clever clip from garagey Boston upstarts The I Want You, even beyond the obvious cool factor of "hey! Lego animation!" First and foremost is the very snappy tune itself. "Three Short Days" touts fizzing, six-beats-to-a-measure (a la Pixies) verses and sugary, swaying choruses, all kinetically paced and spaced within a sharp 100 seconds flat. The video was painstakingly animated by the quartet's guitarist Blake Girndt along with collaborator Chris Newell, and it is filled with all sorts of funny details. And even some unfunny but impressive ones: we love how the traffic light is swaying in the shot about 30 seconds into song. Oh, right, the song: "Three Short Days" is taken from The I Want You's debut EP The Ocean State, which is being feted Saturday with a release show at Lizard Lounge in Cambridge, MA. The four-piece is also part of a completely killer bill Dec. 1 at The Midway Cafe in JP featuring all-time Clicky Clicky faves Varsity Drag along with the delightfully brutal Suicide Dolls and something called the Unholy III, who sound, uh, scary? Mom? MOM!! But anyway, The I Want You's entire five-song The Ocean State EP is available at the very nice price of you-name-it at Bandcamp right here.

The I Want You: Internerds | Facebook | Bandcamp

November 5, 2012

WEDNESDAY: Clicky Clicky Music Blog Presents A Benefit Show For Community Servings Featuring Guillermo Sexo, Johnny Foreigner, Speedy Ortiz And Infinity Girl

Clicky Clicky Music Blog Presents A Benefit Show For Community Servings Featuring Guillermo Sexo, Johnny Foreigner, Speedy Ortiz & Infinity Girl | 7 Nov. | Great Scott

It is hard to believe, but after a year of planning, the date is almost upon us. This Wednesday -- no matter if tomorrow the guy we love wins the White House of the guy we hate wins -- is Clicky Clicky Music Blog's most important event of the year, a benefit show for the terrific and important local charity Community Servings. In case you missed our original announcement in August, Community Servings is a Jamaica Plain-based organization that delivers 395,000 free, home-style meals to 1,300 people per year, persons who are too sick to cook for themselves or their families. Community Servings cares for clients with 35 different life-threatening illnesses; its service includes a customized, nutritionally-packed lunch, dinner, and snack for sick clients, their caregivers and dependent children, 95% of whom live at or below the poverty level. The group performs a vitally important function supporting those who need it the very most.

So what's Clicky Clicky got to do with this? Well, we wanted to find an opportunity to leverage the blog to make a difference in people's lives, so we got in touch with reps from the organization early this year to pitch the idea of a benefit show, and Community Servings got on board right away. Then we turned around and asked some of our favorite bands whether they'd like to help support the cause, and each one agreed to help right away, without hesitating. From there the idea was off and running. And so, finally, Wednesday will feature a killer night of music, top-lined by local psych-pop veterans Guillermo Sexo, but featuring also the Boston debut of England's greatest contemporary guitar pop band Johnny Foreigner. Speedy Ortiz, who earlier this year were named the best band in Massachusetts by The Phoenix, and new-ish Boston shoegaze heroes Infinity Girl will also perform. It's going to be amazing. Doors at 9.

Tickets for the event are $10, and all proceeds from the evening go to help feed Community Servings clients. Buy tickets here; buy tons of tickets. To help raise even more cash, we will be raffling off prizes including New England Revolution tickets, tickets to the superfun F1 Boston go-kart facility, and even a brand new vinyl copy of Everyone Everywhere's excellent 2012 LP Everyone Everywhere, because, well, they sent us two by mistake. Community Servings is also currently running a larger fundraiser called Pie In The Sky, details of which are here, and show-goers will also have the opportunity to buy pies to help support Community Servings. Pie! Everyone loves pie! Jeepers, we wish we had some pie right now.

What else can we say? Please come. It's going to be awesome. We are beyond excited. Here's the Facebook event page; please RSVP, share the event, and invite all of your friends. Now how about some songs?

November 3, 2012

Review: Lubec | Wilderness Days

Around the time of the release of Lubec's brilliant EP Nothing Is Enough! we heralded the noise-pop act's music as "the definition of epic new dream pop." And while our excitement about the band is more fervent than ever, we think that assessment falls short in one respect: it doesn't convey that the Portland, Ore.-based quartet's music also communicates a charming, classic, early pop innocence. So, "epic" in scope and "new" in terms of, well, newness, yes. But the music is also rooted in and respectfully acknowledges a tradition encompassing Motown, The Modern Lovers and even Lubec fronter Eddie Charlton's beloved Lilys. This is all made more apparent on Lubec's brilliant forthcoming compilation LP Wilderness Days.

Like a Shakespearean mise en abyme, Wilderness Days contains all of Nothing Is Enough! alongside six additional recordings sequenced into a compelling whole. The full-length is intended to capture and contextualize most if not all of Lubec's early work as the band -- which began in Virginia but has reformulated on the west coast -- prepares what it considers a proper first full-length, which it is currently recording. That said, there is nothing in this collection that can be characterized as "improper;" Wilderness Days feels like a single collection of music, not a pastiche. As we've quipped elsewhere, there's only one way Lubec could have improved on Nothing Is Enough!, and that would be to make it longer. Wilderness Days, which features four previously unreleased tracks in addition to the six from the EP (free download here, incidentally), the 2009 teaser track "Gang Knife Battles" and the limited-edition vinyl single "You're A Good Idea (Theme From Lubec)," in effect does just that.

The title track is one of those previously unreleased tunes, and it is massive. The song is built up from a foundation of tremeloed guitar chords and sparkling piano accents to a shuddering, beautiful chorus. The lyric in the verse is the most tender and delicate Mr. Charlton has uttered, then the pre-chorus thunders. It's vaguely shocking that the band has held this song back as long as it has, as it makes perhaps the most compelling statement for Charlton's "sculpt-rock" vision (basically: big guitars + big melodies + adventurous sonic frequency equalizations) as any other track, even the kinetic, guitar-smeared roller-rink stomper "Your Magic Wand" from the EP or "Gang Knife Battles." Because of delays relating to pressing the vinyl, the release date for Wilderness Days has kept moving further away, like a mirage. But at least some fans recently received the "You're A Good Idea" vinyl single, which we've been told would be a harbinger for the shipping of the LP. Pre-orders are still being taken, however, and Wilderness Days is being released in a limited edition of 300 pieces packaged with poetry, sheet music and "clothing and accessories." Get in on the action before there is no longer any action to get in on, is what we'd advise, as we expect demand for the band's music is only going to increase.

Lubec: Facebook | Bandcamp | Interwebs

November 1, 2012

Today's Hotness: Endless Jags, Parakeet, Dot Dash, Soccer Mom

Endless Jags -- Endless Jags

>> It's taken for granted at this point, to the extent that anyone really talks about it anymore. But the best part about music blogging is the band that randomly emails you, that says "check us out," and that is totally awesome. It might happen two or three times a year. The last one that blew us away was our beloved Infinity Girl (who, of course, next week will open Clicky Clicky Music Blog's Community Servings benefit show at Great Scott in Boston). But last month brought another, Portland, Maine-based indie rock upstarts Endless Jags. The sextet self-released a self-titled EP Oct. 16, and it is packed with dynamic, emo-tinged guitar pop driven by fronter Oscar Romero's impassioned vocals and overdriven by big melodies. The short set was recorded in part and mixed by Shaun Curran at Napoleon Complex in Somerville, Mass. Trivia hounds will recognize that studio as the same that produced Clicky Clicky favorites Soccer Mom's brilliant debut single and towering 2011 EP You Are Not Going To Heaven. Pegging Endless Jags' sound causes one to grasp in a lot of different directions: there's the care-free energy and care-full emotion of the music echoes that of Mock Orange's stellar First EP; the Farfisa that colors large portions of Endless Jags has not been so brilliantly deployed in indie rock since Rocketship's mind-erasingly good A Certain Smile, A Certain Sadness; Mr. Romero's voice is not unlike that of The Walkmen's Hamilton Leithauser. But it is the combination of these elements that makes the EP so potent, from the big crescendoes in opener "Seen Men" to the careening eponymous tune "Endless Jags." We can't wait to hear more from these guys: Endless Jags is a hit!

>> Parakeet, the side project of Yuck bassist Mariko Doi, last week quietly unleashed to the wilds of the Internet a stream of a new EP titled Shonen Hearts. If our minimal understanding of Japanese remains intact, we think "shonen" means "boy," so make of the title what you will. The music on the collection is delightfully smeared and grungy guitar pop. The lead track "Tuomono" layers rich, gritty guitar and bass over a simple rhythm and creates giddy forward movement by overlaying punchy melodies. The title track is a blissful confection that recalls The Primitives. The rest of the collection similarly pits noise against pop; it's not overtly Yuck-y, but there is an element of obviousness and inevitability that makes Shonen Hearts a rewarding listen. The London-based trio's short set is due Nov. 19 as a limited edition gold (we assume gold-colored, not, like actual gold) cassette available exclusively from Rough Trade in the UK. Pre-order Shonen Hearts right here, right now. Parakeet over the weekend played two UK shows with The Walkmen (there's that band name again...); the trio embarks on a short strand of tour dates Nov. 11 with the hotly tipped Diiv, which tour includes stops in Berlin and Cologne in Germany, Kortrijk, Belgium and two dates in London. Parakeet debuted with a single in April, "Tomorrow" b/w "Paper, Scissors, Stone," that we wrote about right here.

>> We've slept on it for weeks ands weeks, but the forever-solid Terry Banks and his band of merry indie veterans in Dot Dash returned last month with a cracking sophomore set, Winter Garden Light, that we've been spending a good deal of time enjoying. Yeah, the title sounds like an installment in the Dragonlance fantasy franchise, but we assure you: this is a very fine collection of indie pop tunes from a coterie of top-shelf scene veterans of bands including Julie Ocean, The Saturday People, Tree Fort Angst, Modest Proposal and legit hardcore legends Youth Brigade. Mr. Banks, et al., craft quality guitar-pop tunes that plant one foot in the future whilst dangling the other in the band's collective college rock past. And like Wire, from whose song Dot Dash takes their name, the D.C.-based act's approach is simple: each tune is an astutely realized nugget of punky songwriting relying on a few chords, aggressive bass work, and swoon-inducing backing vocals. "Writing On The Wall," a stand-out cut from Winter Garden Light, commences with an arresting bass descent paired with Banks' pleasant power-pop patter. Trebly, slapping rhythm guitar follows the vocal, as Banks peels off anthemic lines that penetrate your head like "a penny for your thoughts, my kingdom for a horse." The song closes with perfect snare rolls and a great guitar breakdown evidencing the band's tasteful deployment of delay and minor keys. Winter Garden Light is available now from The Beautiful Music label. -- Edward Charlton

>> Avid readers will recall that a month ago we wrote about the crushing forthcoming single from Clicky Clicky faves Soccer Mom. At the time we could tell you about "Brides" b/w "Canoe," but we weren't able to share any music with you. That's just no way to leave things. So fortunately we're now able to share with you a stream of "A Canoe Shy" (that's the full title of the tune, yeah) below. The song highlights the Boston quartet's dense, punishing guitar attack, features one of founder Dan Parlin's most affecting vocal melodies, and is also notable for being the first official 'Mom release featuring Mr. Justin Kehoe pounding the skins and hardware. As we said last month, Soccer Mom plays a very hot bill Monday at Great Scott in Boston, an evening that features the hotly tipped Tamaryn and west coast shoegaze luminaries Young Prisms. "Brides" b/w "Canoe" will be released by 100m Records the following day, and you can pre-order your copy right here if you aren't able to get to the show to buy one straight from the band.