August 24, 2013
Today's Hotness: Winter, The Snowy Owls, Krill
>> We've been looking forward to the opportunity to put this blog post together because of the obvious parallels between the first two items. So here we have it: two Clicky Clicky faves, bearing wintry names, heading into transitions, while putting out killer summer jams for the discerning indie rock aficionado. Let's start local with the new digital single from Boston dream-pop lumnaries Winter. "Alligator" was unveiled last week and the bittersweet ballad may very well be the charming quartet's strongest to date. It comes, however, in the wake of fronter and namesake Samira Winter's disclosure that she will soon relocate to the west coast. The band -- which includes Infinity Girl's Nolan Eley and Kyle Oppenheimer as well as 28 Degrees Taurus's Ana Karina DaCosta -- played its final Boston shows (for now, anyway) this past week. The good news is Ms. Winter and Mr. Eley intend to continue their collaboration despite the long distance, and based partcularly on the strength of the "Alligator" single (although the rest of their catalog is quite good, as well), we're relieved: theirs is a fertile musical partnership that we'd hate to see scrapped. Interestingly, while the song bears Mr. Eley's increasingly cognizable, atmospheric production, the composition is actually co-written with Cloud's Tyler Taormina and a fellow named David Broyles (with whom we are not familiar), and the song addresses Ms. Winter's feelings about the move west. Attentive readers will recall that Cloud and Winter are both part of the Practice Room Records collective, and Ms. Winter and Mr. Taormina attended university together in Boston. "Alligator" is a lush, melodic ballad featuring Ms. Winter's most confident vocal, and, between the song's pulsing bass line and her voice, we're reminded of Joan Jett's 1981 cover of "Crimson And Clover." It's not a perfect comparison, by any stretch: where Ms. Jett brought her tough edge to the Tommy James and The Shondells classic, it is hard for us to imagine the laid-back Ms. Winter being interested in being any tougher than, say, Oz's Glinda The Good Witch of the South. Anyway, with "Alligator"'s cascading vocal hook in the chorus, easy girl-group bounce and a frenetic guitar solo from Mr. Oppenheimer, the song is one that won't be quick to leave your head. It is the group's second digital single of the summer; we wrote about "The View" right here in early July. Stream "Alligator" via the Bandcamp embed below, and see the band (in trio formation) perform the song during the recent Boston Fuzzstival here. Tangentially, let us also note Cloud's coup this week of having the "Mother Sea" single reviewed in Pantsfork; we wrote about the song here in early July as well.
>> Our second summer offering from a wintry act is The Snowy Owls' terrific new Summer EP. The Richmond shoegaze foursome's short collection was released to the wilds of the Interpants Aug. 13 and features the songs "Feels Like Summer," "What Summer Is for," "All Summer Long," and "Next Summer." We're confident you'll identify the theme here. The music is languidly paced and relatively loose compared to the darker, more formalized and restrained compositions found on the band's 2012 Within Your Reach EP, which we reviewed here. The lazy, estival vibe of Summer does not, however, result in more spare and less urgent music. In fact, the surprise here is that -- despite the sense we get that the new EP came together quickly due to the recent departure of drummer Brandon Martin (formerly of another Clicky Clicky fave, Lubec) -- Summer is bigger, denser, prettier and more anthemic. It gives us the sense that The Snowy Owls are just at the cusp of something very exciting indeed. While all of the EP is delightful and makes us think at times that it is not unlike a Jesus And Mary Chain record slowed down, Summer goes supernova at the close of the second minute of "Next Summer." There the song begins to endlessly reach out in every direction into a reverb that becomes increasingly saturated with technicolor guitar feedback and ringing cymbals. It is a beautiful, beautiful thing, and certainly the high point to date of The Snowy Owls' repertoire. With the EP completed and released, the act is now focused on finishing a full-length record, according to this Facebook status update. In the meantime, the quartet -- now featuring James O'Neill behind the drum kit -- will play Richmond's Fall Line Festival Sept. 6 and then make an appearance the following day at the annual Hopscotch music festival in Raleigh, NC. Listen to Summer via the Bandcamp embed below; you'll be glad you did.
>> While Mr. Riley touched on it briefly in his review of the Bent Shapes album release show, we wanted to expand upon what is up with Jamaica Plain-based bugcore champions Krill. The trio disclosed earlier this month that 1) it recorded a number of new songs at Silent Barn in Brooklyn and 2) founding drummer/gourmet Luke Pyenson is leaving the band to study in London for a year. Mr. Pyenson is playing two final gigs with Krill, the first at Great Scott Friday with Diarrhea Planet and So So Glos, and the second a beach-stravaganza with Speedy Ortiz at The Beachcomber in Wellfleet, Mass. the following night. While Pyenson's departure is no small change for the tight-knit trio, Krill will not be sidelined for even a moment. The band hits the road for an extensive tour throughout September with new drummer Ian Becker, an old friend of Krill guitarist Aaron Ratoff and bassist Jonah Furman who grew up with those gentlemen in the same Chicago suburb; Mssrs. Ratoff and Becker have played together in a band previously. The first date of the vaguely square-shaped Krill tour is Sept. 4 in Philadelphia, and the itinerary includes stops down the east coast, a westerly wandering across the south, determined meandering northward up the midwest, and some spry maneuvering back east. As for the new songs, they are said to be inspired by characters in certain songs of Boston indie rockers Pile (who will play on an awesome bill with Obits this fall). There is a new Krill video you should attend to with your eyes and ears; it features the song "Theme From Krill" from the band's recent tour de force Lucky Leaves and can be experienced by clicking this hypertextual "link." We reviewed Lucky Leaves right here in June.