March 13, 2013

Today's Hotness: Barry Marino, Big Deal, Business Models

Barry Marino

>> While Managing Editor Michael P. continues to manage SXSW, the everyday business of the blog goes on... This Today's Hotness is brought to you by the letter "B," in alphabetical order, sorta...

>> For the second year running, multi-instrumentalist and video director extraordinaire Barry Marino (who is perhaps best known to Clicky Clicky readers as drummer for Boston indie rock heroes The Hush Now) wrote and recorded an entire album during the month of February. This year's effort culminated with the release last week of the sparkling and curious eight-song collection February 2.0. Apparently the exercise is a bit more formalized than we had realized previously, as Mr. Marino's impressive feat is part of something called RPM Challenge, an event that encourages participants to record in a mere 28 days either 10 songs or 35 minutes of original material. Like his solid 2012 collection I Made These Gems In A Month, the new set strikes a balance between serene folk, hazy contemplation and upbeat electronic experimentalism, suggesting influences like Mazzy Star and U2 along the way. Up-tempo highlights "Level Planes" and the not entirely reassuring "We're Not Going To Guam" employ dance-ready rhythm tracks to anchor surreal, at-times-unsettling sentiments (the latter tune includes the brilliant line "half the stuff he says goes way over my head, the other half goes way, way over"). "The Subway Ninjas," a song apparently about being stuck on the subway with a jerk, a song that Google Translate improbably indicates is sung in Esperanto, uses bright guitar leads and a female guest vocal to conjure a breezy, South American vibe. Closer "White Knuckle" quietly echoes the verse of the aforementioned Irish quartet's "Ultra Violet." February 2.0, as well as the rest of Brooklyn-based Marino's work within and without The Hush Now, routinely finds ways to impress without being flashy or pedantic. Instead, there is a patience and ease to the music that somewhat downplays the cleverness and lucid imagery that are Marino's true hallmarks, all of which makes February 2.0 well worth your time and attention. We most recently heard from Marino in late 2012, when he sang the lead vocal for The Hush Now's annual holiday single (Marino also shot and starred in this video for the tune). In related news, The Hush Now is preparing the release of "Arkansas" as a digital single in the UK, to be followed by a digital UK release of the quintet's superlative 2011 long-player Memos. Incidentally, Marino is not the only member of the quintet releasing solo music these days: lead guitarist Adam Quane issued Tuesday a new collection of vibrant, textured psychedelia called O Orpheus Singing under his long-running No Evil Star moniker. You can check that out here; in the meantime tuck into Marino's February 2.0 via the Bandcamp embed below.

>> Big Deal announced last week it will release April 23 "In Your Car," the first proper single from the London-based dream-pop pair's planned sophomore set June Gloom. The captivating track maintains the act's new, noisy posture established via the early album two preview tune "Teradactol" last year. However, "In Your Car" ably harnesses the volume and attitude of "Teradactol" but successfully channels it into Big Deal's melodic and characteristically poignant pop. Indeed, the breezy, wistful chorus ("driving in your car / I wanna be wherever you are...") fits comfortably within the band's canon, particularly the music from Big Deal's brilliant full-length debut Lights Out. And perhaps it is just the title suggesting the correlation, perhaps it is the jarring opening notes, or perhaps it is the sweeping synth in the chorus, but we sense the second single also throws an affirmative nod toward Boston's own '80s pop legends The Cars and their tune "Just What I Needed." Sure, it's a fairly jarring evolution from the quiet, pretty harmonies and delicate guitar work of the band's debut single "Homework" from a few years ago, but those harmonies and Big Deal's deft ability to sound like it is constantly telling secrets persists even with the duo's contemporary "big band" sound. Mute will release "In Your Car" as well as the aforementioned full-length; June Gloom is slated for release June 4. As we reported here last month, Big Deal principals Alice Costelloe and Kacey Underwood have buttressed Big Deal's personnel with the addition of a rhythm section, which -- for the album sessions anyway -- included drummer Melissa Rigby. It's unclear who is playing bass with the band, or whether Ms. Rigby is part of Big Deal's touring unit, but we expect all of this will be revealed in time, as the presser announcing the single promises live dates will be announced soon. In the meantime, why not stream "In Your Car" over and over and over again as we have been doing?

>> Mr. Charlton was not overstating it during his assessment of the new Purling Hiss tune when he referred to a "strong wave of municipal all-stars" rising up out of Philadelphia these days. Indeed, the mental laundry list we maintain of Philly acts we need to monitor grows almost daily. At the top of the list today is Business Models, the new endeavor from ex-Algernon Cadwallader bassist and fronter Peter Helmis that also counts among its number former members of Ape Up! (Nick) and Man Without Plan (Barclay). The self-described "post-pop-punk" trio has released to Bandcamp under the title Room preliminary mixes of four songs from a "forthcoming bunch of songs." The music maintains the melodicism and energy of Algernon Cadwallader, but eschews that band's intricate guitar work in favor of chunky guitar chords. The resulting tunes recall the city's best West Philly-styled punk and brings to mind in particular Clicky Clicky faves Armalite, whose self-titled 2006 set was among this blog's favorite of that year. We strongly suggest streaming Room via the Bandcamp embed below -- it is all killer and no filler. The trio played some tour dates in Boston and Amherst earlier this month, so we expect that might be the last we see of Business Models until a record comes out, but who knows. Here's a video of them playing "The Aptitude," one of the four jams from Room.

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