October 19, 2013

Today's Hotness: The Wolfhounds, Soltero, Household

The Wolfhounds'

>> Long-time readers are well aware of our penchant for big-guitar belters, and a forthcoming single from veteran UK indie rockers The Wolfhounds authoritatively delivers the goods. The band first formed in the mid-'80s before folding around 1990, and those first five years yielded many things, of which perhaps the best is the towering second single "The Anti-Midas Touch." The band reformed in 2005 to mark the 20th anniversary of its first single, and the next year played a 20th anniversary celebration for the seminal NME "C86" compilation, according to our shadowy friends over at the Wikipedia. The Wolfhounds' latest, "Divide And Fall" b/w "The Ten Commandments Of Public Life" is being released digitally Oct. 28 via Oddbox Records, and pre-orders of the limited edition of 300 blood-red vinyl 7" discs will ship out on or around Nov. 4. The single's very formidable A-side is rough, desperate and melodic, and recalls the best of Superchunk's first four years. "The Ten Commandments Of Public Life" is more subdued, contemplative and psychedelic, and stretches across more than five minutes that somehow still feel too short. This single is the band's second of the year on Oddbox; in January the label released The Wolfhounds "Cheer Up" single, which boasts four songs and is apparently still available on vinyl. Based on a tweet from Oddbox Thursday, the forthcoming single is already at least half sold-out on pre-orders, so you'd be well-served to get your order in sooner rather than later. Could there be a full-length in the offing? We certainly hope so, because this latest single is among the best music The Wolfhounds have recorded in any decade. Stream "Divide And Fall" b/w "The Ten Commandments Of Public Life" via the Bandcamp embed below, and click through to order a copy before they go the way of the dodo bird.

>> It's hard to believe, but it's been 11 years since we first saw long-running, itinerant indie pop concern Soltero. It was a memorable night, headlined by the then-still-unsigned but already-incredible Mobius Band, and punctuated by our first experience standing near the late, great Billy Ruane as he was going off, charging around in front of the band at various acute angles, driven by the music. Soltero was terrific, with fronter Tim Howard practically shaking as the songs flowed through him, and we distinctly remember turning to a friend after the band finished up the brilliant "The Moment You Said Yes" and one of us making a favorable comparison to Elvis Costello. In the many years since then, Mr. Howard has lived in two more major mid-Atlantic metropolises, as well as North Carolina and Central America, and he's released just about as many records as he's had residences. The moving around suggests a restlessness and yen for adventure that can be heard in the music of Soltero's latest collection, the short set Jamming The Gaydar. The patient and mildly spooky opener "In The Sun" is pocked with hand percussion and muted guitar, while its melody glides along on flotillas of organ, droning tenor saxophone and cascading guitar lines. Album highlight "Big Satellite" commences with a wistful guitar melody and organ, then blossoms via layers of guitars and stacked sax tracks into something like a more reserved scale model of a weighty Built To Spill-styled jammer. Jamming The Gaydar is a very rewarding (and, incidentally, very seasonally appropriate) collection that showcases Howard's songwriting and arranging acumen, and it is available now as a free download -- at least for now -- via Bandcamp. We've embedded the entire record for your perusal below, which we certainly recommend to your attention.

>> Paul Simon once wrote "my life is made of patterns that can scarcely be controlled." One careening cycle that this reviewer has observed in his brief time was the rise of and retreat from the popular consciousness of lean, taut, and danceable post-punk. Indeed, the first four years of the present millennium were a glorious time for that particular aesthetic, until over-exposure eventually got the best of the movement and it fell from fashion. Absence, of course, can make the heart grow fonder, and so we were pleased to recently happen upon Household, whose preview single "A New Leaf" serves not only as a nice taste of their upcoming, six-song EP -- titled Elaines and due on Dull Knife Records -- but also as a pleasant reminder of the finer points of upbeat indie. In the wake of the Brooklyn combo's 2011 debut full-length Items, the band continues to nip and tuck at their core sound. "A New Leaf" presents pared-down instrumentation, resulting in a complete excision of excess notes or drum beats. And yes, while the rigid guitar lines and Wire-styled strums of the chorus recall the clean Telecasters of the kinetic punk of yore, or even a peppier Young Marble Giants, Household still manages to imprint their own identity on its music. Much of the vocals, dry production, and DIY slinkiness have more in common with many of the earnest female-led outfits within the Pacific Northwest scene, like Grass Widow, Chastity Belt and myriad other basement dwellers and K Records signatories. Taken in sum, the complete package inspires the need to bob the head and shake the hips a bit, and provides a refreshing twist to a familiar sound. Elaines was originally slated for release Nov. 5, but a manufacturing error has delayed the release of the vinyl until Nov. 30. Pre-order the EP from Dull Knife right here, and stream "A New Leaf" via the Bandcamp embed below. -- Edward Charlton

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