January 19, 2013

Today's Hotness: Varsity Drag, Pia Fraus, Dikembe

Varsity Drag -- Mind Like A Sieve

>> So rarely does a song rate on our proprietary Spicoli/Sneaker Rockness Axis (which, briefly, means a song rocks us so hard that listening to it makes us want to hit ourselves repeatedly in the skull with a sneaker a la "Fast Times At Ridgemont High" protagonist Jeff Spicoli), that we had to look up the small number of instances in our archives (we'll shortcut it for you: 1, 2, 3). But this new number "Mind Like A Sieve" from Cambridge, Mass.-based Varsity Drag is just such a rocker. It's 92 seconds of fourth-gear punk-pop, and it evidences Drag fronter Ben Deily's success at tapping the vibrant well-spring of rockulence that helped him write killer Lemonheads tracks like "Uhhhh" and "Anyway" and "Ever" and etc., etc., about a quarter of a century ago (ummm, holy shit). This new tune features on a forthcoming split 7" EP with a trio called Chestnut Road, and other Varsity Drag recordings on the platter include a cover of Versus' "Let's Electrify" and another new-ish original from Deily called "Particle Horizon (The Dark Matter)." But wait -- there's more Deily! Toulouse, France-based Chestnut Road covers the Cantabrigian's Lemonheads composition "Falling" on their side of the EP, which also includes the absolute belter "Bicycle" (which sounds like Goo Goo Dolls back when Goo Goo Dolls was good) as well as a tune called "Fade." Stream both "Mind Like A Sieve" and "Bicycle" via the Bandcamp embeds below. It bears mentioning that "Mind Like A Sieve" was written for the big Lemonheads reunion record that was announced in the fall to be helmed by Ryan Adams; we're not sure what the status of that is, but we do know that Mr. Adams proposed the last three notes of "Sieve." There is as yet no pre-order information for the EP, but we will certainly update you on that once the information becomes available.

>> We suppose it is a healthy realization, coming to terms with the fact that you just can't hear everything. Even so, it's nice when a label gives you a second shot, which is one of the things we think about when we stream Pia Fraus' amazing "Feeling Is New." The tune lodges breathy vocals within a dense wall of guitars in a very pleasing manner that recalls the best moments from the Chapterhouse catalogue, to pick a random example of vintage shoegaze excellence. "Feeling Is New" is one of 13 songs featured on a forthcoming compilation being released by Portland, Ore.-based Shelflife Records under the title Silmi Island. The set collects songs from the Estonian dream pop sextet's 10-year tenure between 1998 and 2008, during which time Pia Fraus released four full-lengths and a bunch of singles on labels such as Clairecords and Estonia's Seksound. Each song selected for the comp was either re-recorded or remastered for its inclusion here, so even if you were hip enough to know about the band years ago, there still might be something new for you to hear here. Shelflife is co-releasing Silmi Island Jan. 22 with Seksound in a limited edition of 500 LPs with CD included. The CD contains two bonus tracks, including a cover of the title track of My Bloody Valentine's 1987 Strawberry Wine EP (incidentally, the legendary shoegaze act's first release to include Bilinda Butcher). Buy Silmi Island from Shelflife right here, and stream "Feeling Is New" via the embed below. Grab that second chance.

>> Sure, you probably already have the MP3s, but emo label juggernaut Tiny Engines has decided to go ahead and legitimize Dikembe's apparently-controversial-but-probably-not-really debut Chicago Bowls EP by remixing, remastering and releasing the thing on 7" vinyl. The short set -- or at the least the titles to its quite excellent songs -- ridiculously celebrated both the dynastic iteration of the Chicago Bulls and pot smoking and was originally only available digitally when it was released to the wilds of the Internerds in April 2011. Tiny Engines' vinyl reissue has somewhat predictably been given the release date 4/20/2013. We'll let that sink in for a second. The new pressing will also have certain audio clips from the TV show "Freaks And Geeks" removed for licensing reasons, but that detracts not at all from how great the songs are. In other Dikembe news, the Gainesville, Fla.-based emo heroes' 2012 set Broad Shoulders is about to get a second pressing, and the foursome are already writing songs for a follow-up album that could be released before the end of the year. Broad Shoulders featured tons of great tunes, and "Not Today, Angel" was one of Clicky Clicky's favorite songs of 2012, as you can see from this handy list. The band played an early all-ages show in Boston in the first week of January that we had to miss, but we're hopeful the band returns before too long and plays a little later at night. For now, why not stream Chicago Bowls via the Bandcamp embed below. Assuming you don't want to wait until 4:20...

1 comment:

DanP said...

I've just looked at Pia Fraus' Facebook photos and I have to say, this is one of the *cutest* bands ever, just about as cute today as when they were youngsters. That in itself is an accomplishment. Not to trivialize the discourse here on the blog, IMHO cute can be deep!

Thanks for bringing a quality 'gaze artist of whom I'd previously been unaware to my attention. Indispensable blog you have here. I'm going to look into acquiring Silmi Island. Best regards!