April 14, 2013

Today's Hotness: Brenda, Lubec, Johnny Foreigner

Brenda with Winter and Olde Growth Cola at Zuzu April 15, 2013

>> While its counterpart in Oregon continues to be a hotbed of indie rock (more on that below), Portland, Maine has also been producing a steady stream of quality acts and recordings. In just the past year that city's Coke Weed and Endless Jags have released a tremendous record and EP respectively, and this Tuesday veteran indie quartet Brenda returns with a long-awaited sophomore record titled Fix Your Eyes. The 10-song collection echoes somewhat the aforementioned Endless Jags EP, as the two bands share some members and, likely as a result, distinctive Farfisa organ playing. But whereas the relatively new Jags' material is largely driven by guitarists Oscar Romero and Tyler Jackson, DJ Moore and Josh Loring write the bulk of Brenda's tunes. So there is a bright line distinguishing Brenda's music from that of Endless Jags, as the former band takes inspiration from vintage rock 'n' roll such as Buddy Holly as well as contemporaries The Walkmen (one only need hear the title track to Fix Your Eyes to appreciate the latter influence), while the latter band touts a more emotional immediacy reminiscent of Broken Social Scene. Brenda's approach can be more temperate, but Fix Your Eyes doesn't skimp on rockers: the best evidence for this is the undeniable, galloping hip-shaker "Hard Pleaser," which touts caffeinated strumming, spiraling Farfisa melodies and fizzing tambourine that together drive the song inevitably toward dance-floor nirvana. The similarly uptempo hand-clapper "Not My Friends" takes a more soulful approach but incorporates more finely articulated guitar leads that wind around the dizzying Farfisa like coiling snakes. As the image above somewhat attests, Brenda plays a free show at Zuzu in Cambridge, MA tomorrow night, at which it will no doubt delight with some of the tunes mentioned above on a bill that also features upstart dreamers Winter, who we wrote about here in January, as well as Australia's Olde Growth Cola. And then of course, Fix Your Eyes is released the following day with Teenarena Records out of Rochester, NH doing the honors. Pre-orders for the set are already being take right here; the LP is available on red vinyl, and a limited number of fans who pre-order will receive a t-shirt as well as a pin and patch. Brenda's debut full-length Silver Tower, which caught the ear of some guy named Jeff Tweedy and resulted in the band playing the Solid Sound Festival, was released in June 2010 and is available via Bandcamp right here. Stream "Fix Your Eyes" from the new collection via the Bandcamp embed below.

>> And now back to the other Portland. Earlier this week Oregon-based guitar pop heroes Lubec unveiled a new song from its planned sophomore LP, which now has a title: The Thrall. The new tune, "Local Celebrity," boasts some huge moments, such as when it hits a crushing bridge in the third minute and then winds itself up into a hotly paced closing section touting a burly guitar solo soaring above a neatly ascending keyboard line. The paired vocals of guitarist Eddie Charlton and keyboard player Caroline Jackson soar in the song's huge choruses. "Local Celebrity" was engineered and produced by Robert Comitz at The Frawg Pound and mastered at Stereophonic, all in Portland. The Thrall is expected to be released before the end of the year, or at least we expect it will be, because we want it that way. In January, Lubec shared for a limited time two demos of other songs that will likely feature on The Thrall, namely "Adam" and "Many Worlds." Lubec's full-length debut Wilderness Days was released at the beginning of the year and compiled a dozen early tracks from the band's oeuvre; we reviewed it here. Stream "Local Celebrity" via the Soundcloud embed below.

>> Birmingham, England-based noise-pop titans Johnny Foreigner let slide a tantalizing tidbit earlier today when it disclosed that six recipients of its recent limited-edition photo sets were going to receive among their spoils "weblinks to some exclusive new art and lyrics from our next record." The sets, photographs from the quartet's epic tour of North America last fall augmented with exclusive art created by guitarist and notable artist Lewes Herriot, were released (so to speak) in March alongside digital-only offering Manhattan Projects and sold out almost immediately, such that Clicky Clicky HQ missed its chance merely in the space of time it took our Executive Editor to shovel a jar of baby food into Clicky Clicky Baby Unit 2. We wrote about all of this here and here. People who know say that Johnny Foreigner aim to release two more things this year, one a single in early summer and presumably the other will be the full length mentioned between the quotation marks supra. Because its triumphant last album Johnny Foreigner Vs. Everything [review] was released twice (the second go-round being a wonderful 2x12" reissue), it is easy to forget that it came out in 2011, and given the band's usual break-neck pace at creating music, it is almost surprising it has been that long. We are, needless to say, stoked for the new one, and will keep you apprised of all the minute details regarding same. While we wait, how about taking a listen to that practice room recording of the band covering American Football's beautiful and tragic "Never Meant" via the embed below?

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