May 16, 2013

Today's Hotness: Big Deal, Hex Map

Big Deal -- Dream Machines (detail)

>> We hear singles. Like Gary Coleman's character in the 1981 comedy "On The Right Track" could see winning racehorses. So we weren't too surprised when, just hours after we filed our copy with Vanyaland for our review of the new Big Deal record, which review pegged "Dream Machines" as an album highlight, it was announced that the song would be the second single from the new set. As we said here in our review of the London-based duo's June Gloom, which streets June 4 on Mute, the "[b]ig-beat album highlight 'Dream Machines' somewhat surprisingly pushes a message of cultural disengagement with the Leary-esque lyric 'what you wanted and what you chose, you can't have both... I've been dreaming of dropping out...'" The pair's words are set in a beautiful firmament of short tremeloed guitar snips refracting in a hazy reverb, but when the chorus kicks in thick chords buttress principals Kacey Underwood and Alice Costelloe's gentle voices and push the song straight into anthem territory. The composition wins with a simple, clattering rhythm track almost begs for a remix -- and we hate remixes. Anyway, it is a brilliant choice for a single, although perhaps a less conventional pick than the hook-ridden pop of "In Your Car," which got the nod as the first single from June Gloom. The record is available for pre-order now on vinyl, CD and digitally via this link, this link, or that link, respectively. There is also a limited edition of signed vinyl and CDs that ship with a t-shirt iron-on, which is pretty cool. Big Deal perform at this Saturday's The Great Escape festival in Brighton, England, plays three dates in France at the end of the month, and then spends the first half of June touring about the UK. No U.S. dates have been announced yet, but we're hopeful the band will plot a jaunt on our side of the ocean. In the meantime, stream the terrific second single "Dream Machines" via the Soundcloud embed below.

>> Boston-based post-rock concern Hex Map have been dormant for some time, but the band is poised for a big return with a live date Friday and a new, sophomore colection coming next month. The duo of Mike Gintz and Nick Burgess (a lineup that enlarges to a quartet for live shows) are preparing to release in June the moody and measured long-player Ruin Value. Hex Map packs the new collection with tense, industrial (and almost post-apocalyptic) assemblages of guitar and percussion. Opener "The Black River" boasts a bludgeoning attack and restrained but reverbed vocal as evocative as an early Black Sabbath number, despite the modern, architectural vibration. But that song's weight and force -- elements that return later in the record on the uneasy arcade game console rocker "Rat King" are just two of the ways Hex Map fabricates the rock. Elsewhere electronic flourishes spangle the stereo field, or a vocal is pushed hard toward Layne Staley-esque degrees of desperation. Album highlight "November 17" strikes a juxtaposition against "The Black River," as it touts a gentle vocal, a reliable 5/4 groove and a more fluidly articulated melody, resulting in a track that echoes Radiohead circa Amnesiac. The band was cool enough to allow us to post "November 17" via the embed below. Ruin Value is available for pre-order right now via Hex Map's Bandcamp wigwam right here; the eight-song collection is on offer as a vinyl LP (in a limited edition of 150 copies pressed to translucent media) or digital download. Hex Map is playing its first show in almost a year Friday at O'Brien's Pub in Allston Rock City with Leagues, Rozamov and Mooncusser; check out the deets via the Facebook event page right here. Ruin Value will be self-released by the band June 14.

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