January 27, 2013

Rock Over Boston: Two Cow Garage | Radio | 01.26.2013

Two Cow Garage at Radio, Jan. 26, 2013

[Two Cow Garage at Radio, Somerville, MA 1/26/2013. Photo by Michael Piantigini.]

Two Cow Garage: Intertubes | Facebook | Twitter

January 26, 2013

Golden Gurls For Damnably U.K. Record Store Day Exclusive

Golden Gurls pimp large

The handy counter at the U.K. Record Store Day web site says it is still more than 80 days away -- too soon to start talking about it? Hell yes -- who needs the holiday creepage, am I RIGHT? Except EXCEPT WAIT -- one of Clicky Clicky's favorite records of 2012, Golden Gurls' self-released 11-song dynamo Typo Magic, is being picked up by U.K. label Damnably for a limited edition Record Store Day exclusive, meaning readers across the pond will finally get a chance to own a physical manifestation of this awesome record (well, CD) without having to go through the hassle of paying international postage on the dealy. This is good news. We reviewed Typo Magic here in May, and then ran a fairly comprehensive review with fronter Andrew Mabry right here in September. The record is filled with dense, snarling guitars and understated vocals, big melodies wedged into some barely controlled energy. It's an incredibly gratifying record that is well deserving of broader acclaim and a U.K. push. Not that Golden Gurls are standing still; at the moment that band is writing songs for a second long player with studio time booked for March. But to all you U.K. youth reading this, we say get on your lorries or your tubes or however you do it and get to your Rough Trades or your Banquets or whoever will be selling the best records on Record Store Day, as we expect those sorts of places are going to be the places you'll be able to score Typo Magic. You want that. Incidentally, Damnably has told us it will also do a Record Store Day exclusive 7" of the Bored Spies release we wrote about Friday; the single will also be released in Singapore, but no one reads us in Singapore. Right? Maybe? Show us a sign, Singapore!

January 25, 2013

Today's Hotness: Screaming Maldini, Bored Spies

Screaming Maldini -- Screaming Maldini

>> Sheffield, England-based pop savants Screaming Maldini have at long last announced a release date for its long-awaited, hotly anticipated debut long-player. The sextet's self-titled set will be issued Feb. 4 by its French label HipHipHip. The 12-song collection will be released on CD, digital and white 180g vinyl. Art on the physical products is in 3D, so 3D glasses are provided. The vinyl issue is a limited edition of 500 pieces that also carries a download card. Screaming Maldini collects choice numbers from the band's repertoire, although we expect all the tracks are newly recorded. Meaning it could be fairly interesting for detail-nerdy fans to compare the LP versions of "The Extraordinary" and "Secret Sounds" to the free downloads the band emailed 'round way back in 2009. But of even greater interest will be the four new songs on the record, "The Awakening," "The Dreamer," "Stutter" and "Four Hours From Now," none of which the heads at Clicky Clicky HQ recall having heard in the past. Screaming Maldini launch a three-week tour Feb. 8 that wraps with what we can only imagine will be an amazing homecoming show March 2. The band recently shot a video for a forthcoming single from the album, which we think may be "The Awakening," but don't hold us to that. You can stream four songs from the collection, all of which we've written about previously at Clicky Clicky if memory serves, via the Bandcamp embed below. Get your pre-order on right here.

>> Seam was a crucial band for us back in the day: when the band's LP The Problem With Me came out we listened to it about 6,000 times. We lost track of what the band and founder Soo Young Park did after about 1998 or so, but if our spidey sense and Google Translate is correct, Mr. Park has just resurfaced as part of the new, transnational three-piece Bored Spies. The act is fronted by Singaporean singer and guitarist Cherie Ko, and also includes ex-Bitch Magnet dude Orestes Morfin and someone credited as Panther Lau, formerly of Seam. According to OtherSounds.sg, Ms. Ko used to play with acts Obedient Wives Club and Pastel Power. If you run Bored Spies' Korean-language web site through Google Translate, Mr. Lau is revealed to be "Sang-Youn Park." We don't think it is too big a leap to assume that is Seam's Mr. Park. All of which is just a distraction from the beautiful, spacey and emotive guitar music that Bored Spies create. The band's debut single "Summer 720" b/w "沙鼠E" was recorded last summer, released today, and is now available for sale via Bandcamp. There is apparently a physical single available somewhere, but we can't turn up the information for it. Grab the stream of both tracks below, and then if you can assure yourself that $2.22 in Singaporean dollars isn't going to break you, we suggest you buy that stuff right up. Bored Spies play two gigs in Barcelona at the end of May, including one as part of the highly touted Primavera Sound festival, and are expected to tour the U.S. in August. Pre-production for a full-length record is reportedly already underway.

January 22, 2013

Soccer Mom, Soft Pyramids, Endless Jags, Boom Said Thunder | TT The Bear's Place, Cambridge | 23 Jan.

Soccer Mom, Soft Pyramids, Endless Jags, Boom Said Thunder

We wanted to briefly but heartily endorse this excellent rock and roll program occurring tomorrow at TT The Bear's. It's been a very high priority of ours to see Portland, ME's Endless Jags ever since the sextet delivered its brilliant self-titled EP in the fall. Unfortunately, we're currently battling illness and may have to miss the show, but we exhort rock fans to get out and see what these guys are all about. Exhortation, however, should not even be necessary, as tomorrow's is an exceptional bill, top-lined as it is by Clicky Clicky-faves Soccer Mom and featuring formidable additional local support from Soft Pyramids and the exceedingly fuzzy Boom Said Thunder. Soccer Mom continue to plot a new release and the Facebook indicates they were in the studio in recent days, and you can bet we will keep you apprised closely of their goings-on. We've been waiting for a new collection from Soft Pyramids ever since becoming addicted to their tune "Vaalbara," which was the lead track on As Built PR's 2012 SXSW comp that you can still download right here. The band's most recent release is the "Bad Actors" b/w "Cover It Up" single from last summer. Boom Said Thunder will release a full-length Exist in March; the trio's previously released, propulsive Boom! EP is apparently sold out of physical units, although the digital can still be obtained from Bandcamp via the embed below. Full details at this Facebook event page. Get on the bus, Gus.

Today's Hotness: Winter, Spectral Park, Panda Riot

Winter -- Daydreaming

>> One marvel of the modern age is the speed at which technology continually reinvents ways for artists to conceive, collaborate and record music together. Case in point: Boston's new dream-pop concern, Winter. The band's terrific new EP Daydreaming is a collaboration between Infinity Girl fronter Nolan Eley and singer and songwriter Samira Winter. "She would write the songs, and send me demos she recorded on her iPhone. Then, I would arrange and produce them, record all the instruments and have her come [in and] sing," Mr. Eley told us late last month. The result is a deft synthesis of shoegaze atmospheres and vintage girl-group vocals. What makes the pair's artistic partnership remarkable is how fully-formed and well-realized the songs are: at no point do the four songs comprising Daydreaming sound like anything other than a group that has tested the mettle of the compositions to the point of comfort and ease on stage. Throughout the EP, glassy guitars brush gently against cloudy vocals that sway with a sunny disorientation. Highlight and closer "Nothing" adds bouncy, slinky keyboard textures and buzzing, treble-kicking fuzz before the song breaches a sleepy but catchy chorus. The tune comes undone in a coda that affords Eley the opportunity to stare in the distance with some Loveless-styled reverse guitar washes. Hopefully, Daydreaming is but the first instance of collaboration between a pair that really do work together so naturally. Grab it for any price via Bandcamp right here. Winter makes what very well may be its live debut Jan. 28 at Great Scott in Boston. Dig the Facebook event page right here. Stream the EP via the embed below, and also check out the video for the title track. -- Edward Charlton

>> Southampton, England's Spectral Park raised our eyebrow with news of its upcoming self-titled full-length due next week. Little is known of the zany band's history, beyond a two-song demo on Bandcamp, but the bio on label Mexican Summer's website indicates Spectral Park is actually the product of a lone man, Luke Donovan. Leveraging loops and samples scraped from 45s Donovan liberated from the trash, the result is a masterful fusion of unhinged garage rock and bizarre sound effects. In lead single "L'appel du Vide" (translation: call of the void), a heavily reverbed click erupts into a manic verse and a short, Jefferson Airplane- echoing chorus. The tune then cycles between the two with abandon. Perhaps the label summarized what's going on here best at its web site, calling Spectral Park's music "clear-eyed flower child reveries of pop chaos." Indeed, Mr. Donovan's music would seem to offer a glimpse into a time (in the '60s) when musicians were still astounded and perplexed by analog electronic wizardry (The Electric Prunes, anyone?). The result is Spectral Park at times sounds like MGMT covering lost Syd Barrett cuts. Clicky Clicky applauds the stylish, higher-profile Mexican Summer for taking a gamble on something like this. After all, with the cheesy organs and buried drum beat, "L'appel du Vide" (stream embedded below) may not be very "of-the-moment" for a youth culture that coexists with dubstep -- but perhaps it should be. Mexican Summer releases Spectral Park Jan. 29; buy the vinyl here. -- Edward Charlton

>> >> Rising, Chicago-based dream-pop powers Panda Riot will release Feb. 19 the full-length Northern Automatic Music. Doing the honors will be Saint Marie Records, the outfit that previously issued Panda Riot's exemplary single "Serious Radical Girls," which we wrote about here last summer. A lush and deliriously beautiful preview single from the forthcoming collection titled "Black Pyramids" indicates the band persists in purveying an alluring mixture of electronic drums, shoegaze textures and palpable distortion. The rhythm tracks here are augmented by new addition to the group, drummer Jose Rodriguez. Digital, endless "ahhhs" serve as a returning riff in "Black Pyramid," then explode in the outro. Indeed, the upbeat build to that all-too-brief climax is a highlight of the number, with Rebecca Scott's sweet lilt providing a nice counterpoint to the group's stormy instrumentation. Also, the brief sing-along breakdown evidences atypical aural elements that Panda Riot occasionally incorporates –- always with one eye on the positive ecstasy that the rhythms bear repeating. Pre-order Northern Automatic Music from Saint Marie here, and stream "Black Pyramids" via the embed below. -- Edward Charlton

January 21, 2013

Rock Over Boston: Mission of Burma | 01.19.2013

[Mission of Burma with Reports at the Sinclair, Cambridge, MA 1/19/2013. Photos by Michael Piantigini.]

Mission of Burma: Intertubes | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube
Reports: bandcamp
The Lyres/DMZ: Intertubes | Facebook

January 19, 2013

Today's Hotness: Varsity Drag, Pia Fraus, Dikembe

Varsity Drag -- Mind Like A Sieve

>> So rarely does a song rate on our proprietary Spicoli/Sneaker Rockness Axis (which, briefly, means a song rocks us so hard that listening to it makes us want to hit ourselves repeatedly in the skull with a sneaker a la "Fast Times At Ridgemont High" protagonist Jeff Spicoli), that we had to look up the small number of instances in our archives (we'll shortcut it for you: 1, 2, 3). But this new number "Mind Like A Sieve" from Cambridge, Mass.-based Varsity Drag is just such a rocker. It's 92 seconds of fourth-gear punk-pop, and it evidences Drag fronter Ben Deily's success at tapping the vibrant well-spring of rockulence that helped him write killer Lemonheads tracks like "Uhhhh" and "Anyway" and "Ever" and etc., etc., about a quarter of a century ago (ummm, holy shit). This new tune features on a forthcoming split 7" EP with a trio called Chestnut Road, and other Varsity Drag recordings on the platter include a cover of Versus' "Let's Electrify" and another new-ish original from Deily called "Particle Horizon (The Dark Matter)." But wait -- there's more Deily! Toulouse, France-based Chestnut Road covers the Cantabrigian's Lemonheads composition "Falling" on their side of the EP, which also includes the absolute belter "Bicycle" (which sounds like Goo Goo Dolls back when Goo Goo Dolls was good) as well as a tune called "Fade." Stream both "Mind Like A Sieve" and "Bicycle" via the Bandcamp embeds below. It bears mentioning that "Mind Like A Sieve" was written for the big Lemonheads reunion record that was announced in the fall to be helmed by Ryan Adams; we're not sure what the status of that is, but we do know that Mr. Adams proposed the last three notes of "Sieve." There is as yet no pre-order information for the EP, but we will certainly update you on that once the information becomes available.

>> We suppose it is a healthy realization, coming to terms with the fact that you just can't hear everything. Even so, it's nice when a label gives you a second shot, which is one of the things we think about when we stream Pia Fraus' amazing "Feeling Is New." The tune lodges breathy vocals within a dense wall of guitars in a very pleasing manner that recalls the best moments from the Chapterhouse catalogue, to pick a random example of vintage shoegaze excellence. "Feeling Is New" is one of 13 songs featured on a forthcoming compilation being released by Portland, Ore.-based Shelflife Records under the title Silmi Island. The set collects songs from the Estonian dream pop sextet's 10-year tenure between 1998 and 2008, during which time Pia Fraus released four full-lengths and a bunch of singles on labels such as Clairecords and Estonia's Seksound. Each song selected for the comp was either re-recorded or remastered for its inclusion here, so even if you were hip enough to know about the band years ago, there still might be something new for you to hear here. Shelflife is co-releasing Silmi Island Jan. 22 with Seksound in a limited edition of 500 LPs with CD included. The CD contains two bonus tracks, including a cover of the title track of My Bloody Valentine's 1987 Strawberry Wine EP (incidentally, the legendary shoegaze act's first release to include Bilinda Butcher). Buy Silmi Island from Shelflife right here, and stream "Feeling Is New" via the embed below. Grab that second chance.

>> Sure, you probably already have the MP3s, but emo label juggernaut Tiny Engines has decided to go ahead and legitimize Dikembe's apparently-controversial-but-probably-not-really debut Chicago Bowls EP by remixing, remastering and releasing the thing on 7" vinyl. The short set -- or at the least the titles to its quite excellent songs -- ridiculously celebrated both the dynastic iteration of the Chicago Bulls and pot smoking and was originally only available digitally when it was released to the wilds of the Internerds in April 2011. Tiny Engines' vinyl reissue has somewhat predictably been given the release date 4/20/2013. We'll let that sink in for a second. The new pressing will also have certain audio clips from the TV show "Freaks And Geeks" removed for licensing reasons, but that detracts not at all from how great the songs are. In other Dikembe news, the Gainesville, Fla.-based emo heroes' 2012 set Broad Shoulders is about to get a second pressing, and the foursome are already writing songs for a follow-up album that could be released before the end of the year. Broad Shoulders featured tons of great tunes, and "Not Today, Angel" was one of Clicky Clicky's favorite songs of 2012, as you can see from this handy list. The band played an early all-ages show in Boston in the first week of January that we had to miss, but we're hopeful the band returns before too long and plays a little later at night. For now, why not stream Chicago Bowls via the Bandcamp embed below. Assuming you don't want to wait until 4:20...

January 16, 2013

Who Could Say No? The Clicky Clicky Interview With She, Sir’s Russell Karloff

She, Sir, photo by Aubrey Edwards

[Photo: Aubrey Edwards] In our attention-deficient indie rock universe, where "flavor of the month" has devolved into "flavor of the day," music fans all too often encounter artists willing to sacrifice aspects of their art to the hype machine. Afflicted acts evince over-confident songwriting, album-leak scatter shots and hackneyed imagery. It's gotten to the point that when a band invests completely, humbly into their art alone, the audacity of such an act makes them stand out. Which brings us to Austin-based dream pop heroes She, Sir. The act first caught Clicky Clicky's attention five years ago with its self-released 2006 debut Who Can't Say Yes. The record introduced to the indie cognoscenti the band's careful integration of shoegaze and dream-pop elements, as well as an academic approach to composition that challenged fans to rethink the boundaries between genres.

After years of little word and almost exclusively local shows, She, Sir released the Yens 7" in 2010 on Japan's Happy Prince record label -- further proof of a broadening, if still decidedly underground, appeal [review]. A compilation album, Ev’ry Thing In Paris, followed, and anticipation for new music simmered on. With the band's considered approach, fans were safe in assuming something special must be coalescing behind the scenes, and this was confirmed in December with the announcement that the long-planned long-player Go Guitars will be released in 2013. Based on two advance tunes -- the funkier "Condensedindents," and the non-album gem "You Could Be Tiger" -- Go Guitars would seem to be an even further refinement of She, Sir's determined vision. Clicky Clicky's Edward Charlton recently spoke with She, Sir guitarist, vocalist, and co-songwriter Russell Karloff about the progress toward the new album, lessons learned in getting to this point, tricks-of-the-trade and even a "lost" first EP.
Clicky Clicky: Russell, thanks for chatting with us.

Russell Karloff: Yeah, no problem. We're really excited about the new stuff we're working on.

CC: We’re really pumped for Go Guitars, and it feels like the She, Sir story so far has been building up to its release. In what ways are you excited about what you're creating now, and how has the inspiration and history of the group factored into it?

RK: Yeah, it certainly does feel like everything's been leading up to this release. It’s like we've just been refining our sound over the years. The first record feels like it adheres to a genre; us being influenced by a handful of bands at the time: My Bloody Valentine, Slowdive, Ride, etc. With that first record, we ended up walking out of the studio with a pretty original sound, but it wasn't exactly the record we felt ourselves capable of. With our next release, the Yens 7", we switched it up and started reworking our process from the ground up, starting with bringing in a wider range of influences. The result, though a very short 4-song release, felt much more ambitious to us and was closer to the type of sound we'd set out to achieve.

CC: It seems like the new album is taking the results of Yens as a template and expanding on it?

RK: Yeah, exactly. The now nearly finished album keeps with the Yens producer Erik Wofford (Explosions In The Sky, Voxtrot), who we knew could give us the sound we were after. It also continues to refine our writing process in terms of incorporating wider influences. As where Yens was a little lighter, more acoustic in feeling, Go Guitars brings back the dense, heavy guitars we first introduced on Who Can't Say Yes. It's really a blending of everything we've learned over the years. At this point, we're experienced enough to know exactly what it is we want to do, and we finally know how to achieve it.

CC: That's got to be a great feeling.

RK: It's a good place to be. Most of the stuff on those first two releases feels very exploratory to me now as I listen back, but that has resulted in some pretty good songs too!

CC: So, as you were writing and exploring, how did lineup changes occur from Who Can't Say Yes up until now? It appears you now have a larger and more consistent lineup than in the past, at least based on the latest band photos.

RK: A lot of people don't know this, but M. Grusha and I recorded an entire She, Sir EP up in Minneapolis about a year before Who Can't Say Yes was recorded. We had the great fortune to work with Christopher McGuire (John Vanderslice, The Mountain Goats), who was our drummer at the time. This was a great learning experience for us, in terms of learning about what we wanted out of the recording process, and what we wanted when working with other musicians. The album was ultimately scrapped because of production concerns, as we weren't getting the type of sound we wanted. We learned early on to be insistent with the sound you want and to be specific in what you require from the musicians you surround yourself with.

Anyway, we ended up moving to Texas later that year and starting over from scratch with a new EP, with new songs. We met Rick and James Vehslage (guitar and drums on Who Can't Say Yes) soon after arriving in town and they really helped us get the sound we wanted. We hit it off and before we knew it we were recording most of that record in their living room. Actually, it was about this time we first conceived the Go Guitars full-length. For so many different reasons, ranging from bad luck to pure idiocy, we had a bunch of lineup changes throughout the next few years. Mostly Grusha and I used this time to rework and refine our sound, getting closer to what we were after all along. Finally, our good friend Jeremy Cantrell (whose guitar work we'd admired for some time) agreed to join the band and that was the turning point for us. It is important to have a solid core of musicians in a band that have played together and known each other for a long period of time. Soon after, we were pleased to add drummer David Nathan to the group. We've all been playing together for a long time now, and it helps that we're all really good friends.

CC: Nice to hear that it's leveled out. We wanted to focus some on the She, Sir composing process and the production aspect of the recordings, which has always been superb. First off, we can remember press for Who Can't Say Yes mentioning you and Grusha's academic background in regards to music. What's the story there? And how did that experience play into what you wanted the band to be?

RK: Grusha and I met in college in a music composition course. There aren't a lot of people interested in that type of thing, so we immediately bonded. In fact, we were both writing classical music -- string quartets, symphony orchestra pieces -- long before either of us ever had the idea of writing pop music. I feel that is a strong difference from where we come from compared to most others. We are interested in things like voice-leading, harmony, structure, and counterpoint. That's where we started out and that's basically still how we approach writing She, Sir songs. The guitars, drums, and vocals format is incidental.

I feel like most pop music, since its inception, has been built around the idea that anyone can understand it. Vocals are in the forefront and the chords of a song are easily delineated. With She, Sir, the music is dense, the chords are ambiguous at best, and the vocals are often low in the mix -- treated as just another instrument at our disposal. We hope the music can be viewed from a distance, judged as a whole, and unable to be easily dissected into components. Really, we feel that shoegaze and Motown records have these qualities in common and are two of our favorite styles.

CC: Is there a normal composing routine for a She, Sir song? We've always had the impression that you guys very careful and deliberately consider every part of the piece. Can we get a peek into that process?

RK: Yeah, that's true. You tend to go with the process that works best for you at the time. Back during Who Can't Say Yes, Grusha or I would usually have about 90% of a song completed in fine detail before showing it to the others to complete it. Sometimes, I'd write something I didn't really feel too strongly about and would come very near to throwing it out, but it would get saved at the last minute by someone else who believed in it.

"It's My Way of Staying Connected" is a good example of that. It wasn't until we got down to Texas, and started playing with Rick and James, that that song was resurrected. The point is, you can never ever assume to know when you've written something good. You have to be open to other people’s input. You have to allow other people to add to and critique songs, even if you've written 100% of it and don't want to change a thing. Other people approach things with fresh ears and must be part of the process. With this in mind, our writing process for Go Guitars has been much more democratic. These days, I often get together with Jeremy or Grusha to go over a rough idea before a song is anywhere near being finished.

I think we've settled into a process similar to what most bands find to be most productive: getting together with a group of people you trust musically in a room filled with instruments. As I said earlier, it is important to have high expectations for the group you're working with... but it is equally important to be flexible and open to new ideas.

CC: She, Sir has maintained a very full, saturated analog sound all along, without the usual trappings. How does the studio factor in to the process? Where's that rich reverb coming from? How much do you invest in amps and guitar pedals?

RK: A lot of bands that get lumped into the shoegaze genre, as we have, accomplish their wall of sound with a ton of pedals and big-sounding amps. For us, it isn't like that at all. While we still care to achieve that big wall of sound, we do it differently. We tend to use only a handful of pedals. Largely, the density of our sound is derived from intricate arrangements. We prefer to layer several instruments together, all doing something unique and contrapuntal, to create a wall of sound as opposed to running one instrument through an array of effects. We also value economy in our recordings. Every detail is deliberate and complementary; you'll never find a part that is needlessly doubled or just big for the sake of size.

Really, the reverb and delay effects are incidental. Again, as I said earlier, we hope our songs can be viewed from a distance, as a whole. Reverb and delay are natural tools that help us blur the lines and achieve this effect. We love a lot of shoegaze bands, but we don't really want to emulate them or their approach. Again, Erik Wofford understands this and has helped us in the studio at every step. It is easy to over-produce or under-produce a band like us, but we've had long conversations about what it is we're after in the studio. When we're in the studio, Erik is just like a member of the band. We bounce ideas off of each other and veto each other. Plus he has a plate reverb the size of most peoples' mattresses.

CC: Favorite guitar tunings?

RK: Who Can't Say Yes has tunings all over the place...EADG#BE, EADG#AE, DADG#AF#. There are a few standard tuning songs, too. Yens is mostly in standard. For Go Guitars, we mainly prefer EADG#BE.

CC: So, with all this leading up to now; what are your favorite things about Go Guitars? What other nuances are you excited for people to hear? The funk inspiration in "Condensedindents" was surprising, but totally natural. What else can we expect to hear on the album?

RK: Mainly we are excited to be working on a full-length release in general. Our previous efforts have been EPs -— either conceived that way or truncated for whatever reason. We've always valued diversity, reach, and overall cohesiveness in our releases. With this full-length, we finally have a format that allows us to really dig in and exposit these ideas. As you said, we're bringing in some deeper rhythm and bass elements. This includes bands like Fleetwood Mac and Prince. We're also really inspired by more recent groups like The Go-Betweens and The Eaves.

CC: Lastly, any tour plans lined up for the album release?

RK: We might put the show on the road at some point around the record release, but for now we're mostly trying to gain interest from labels that may be able to help us with more substantial arrangements in the future. All of our concentration really is on finishing this record. Though we've mostly finished the writing for it, there are about a million things yet to record in the studio.

CC: Well, the blog is looking forward to it. Good luck!

RK: Thanks!
She, Sir: Bandcamp | Facebook | Internet | YouTube

January 14, 2013

Review: Guillermo Sexo | Bring Down Your Arms EP

[UPDATED] Boston psych-pop veterans Guillermo Sexo Wednesday (yes, Wednesday) release a short set of new material that crackles with vitality, the three-song Bring Down Your Arms EP. The collection is a harbinger of the quartet's forthcoming fifth full-length, which is titled Dark Spring and will (appropriately) be released later this spring. The first two tracks of the EP, the strummer "All Whispers" and the more mysterious "Echo Out My Call," were initially intended for a double A-side digital single, but fortunately for fans the band decided more is in fact more and created the EP. The patiently intensifying dynamic of "All Whispers" definitively indicates Guillermo Sexo is operating at the top of its game not only from a songwriting perspective, but also while working in the studio. The song steadily ratchets up the tension, so there is a robust contrast between the easy bounce of the first verse and the thundering, final chorus. After a remarkable, wiry solo from guitarist Reuben Bettsak deliciously slips around the beat, singer Noell Dorsey shouts "I wanna let you know;" her shout lights the fuse for the brief explosion of distorted guitar and ebbing feedback that closes out the number (and which also reminds us that Justin Pizzoferrato, who has pushed buttons and ridden faders for the significantly loud Dinosaur Jr., as well as Thurston Moore, Young Adults, Speedy Ortiz, engineered the sessions that produced Bring Down Your Arms and Dark Spring).

"Echo Out My Call" touts spine-tingling verses spread across expanses of bashed quarter notes. Its chorus' memorable melody and pleasantly scritchy guitars strike a pleasantly jarring contrast with the bright guitar melody that begins the title track, which closes out the EP. "Bring Down Your Arms," which we were privileged to debut during New Music Night 7 last September, pairs a pretty, cascading guitar melody with an entrancing, meditative chorus to create one of the quartet's best songs to date. We expect fans will be able to order Bring Down Your Arms via Bandcamp sometime in the next 36 hours, and we will update this item with an embed of the EP and a buy link as soon as they are available. There is, of course, plenty other Guillermo Sexo to be had, not the least of which is the band's previous long-player Secret Wild, released in July 2011 [review here]. Guillermo Sexo also contributed last year the lead track to Clicky Clicky's Nofuckingwhere compilation, the details of which are right here; while we're waiting for the EP to appear online, why not stream the foursome's cover of Ride's "Seagull" via the embed below? UPDATE: the EP is live, stream it below and buy it here.

Guillermo Sexo: Bandcamp | Facebook

January 13, 2013

Today's Hotness: Benjamin Shaw, Lubec

Benjamin Shaw -- Summer In The Box Room (detail)

>> London-based propagator of beautiful noise Benjamin Shaw will release Feb. 25 a new collection titled Summer In The Box Room on the newly minted Glass Reservoir Records. A preview track, a spooky, discordant instrumental titled "Oh Jesus, Close The Curtains," was posted to Soundcloud in the last day or so. The song arranges a series of drones and some three-legged-cat piano into a curiously gripping, quasi-cinematic sequence of audible events. Mr. Shaw's last full-length recording, There's Always Hope, There's Always Cabernet, was issued by clever facsimile of a record label Audio Antihero in 2011; we dubbed it a "[h]opelessly beautiful, crumbling chamber pop masterpiece" and named it as one of Clicky Clicky's favorites of that year. Concerned about a potential blow to Audio Antihero's roster, such as it is, we traded messages with the label, which assured us Mr. Shaw has not abandoned ship and the label and Shaw continue to discuss working together on future projects. Summer In The Box Room's art is already posted to the Glass Reservoir Records web site right here, and a detail of same is posted above this item, but order details for the record are as yet unavailable. In the meantime, there is an album trailer of sorts at YouTube here. Watch this space, or one quite similar to it, for further information, and stream "Oh Jesus, Close The Curtains" via the embed below.

>> Portland, Ore.-based sculpt-pop concern Lubec has placed online for a limited time two brilliant demos of songs from the band's planned sophomore set. The unsurprisingly sonically adventurous tunes include the chugging, anthemic hand-clapper "Adam" and "Many Worlds," a dense strummer with attractively layered vocals. The pair are offered at no charge -- get them while the getting's good! Lubec's full-length debut Wilderness Days compiles a dozen early tracks from the band's oeuvre and recently began shipping to fans after various production delays, as attentive Clicky Clicky readers know. Publicly available details of the forthcoming long-player are few and far between, but the notes to the demos do report the set is "currently being engineered and produced by Robert Comitz at the Frawg Pound in Portland, OR. To be completed Spring, 2013." Spring, my friends, is not terribly far off. Start getting excited now.

January 10, 2013

And Then Some Days We Get Awesome Mail 14

Lubec -- Wilderness Days and bonus material

Behold! The long-awaited, ridiculously deluxe Wilderness Days LP by Lubec finally arrived on our doorstep yesterday, and it is a monster. The LP itself is blinding white and about as thick as the filling in an Oreo. The t-shirt, which we are presently wearing, is understated cool. There's notated lyric sheets, inexplicable vintage photos and negatives, a hand-written poem, and something like a hand-crafted spiral scorebook/notebook thingy made partially from Uno cards that has the lyrics to the chorus of the title track arrayed in one-word bites across the pages of the book. And while there is a notation in the package that we were fortunate enough to receive copy 1 of the limited edition of 300 LPs, the coolest thing about it all is the most self-evident thing: when we put this thing on our turntable, it plays the awesome music from the album! We reviewed Wilderness Days here in November. Get your copy -- with all the extra fixin's -- right here, right now, while they last.

January 7, 2013

YouTube Rodeo: Skyjelly Floats Through "Providence"

Long-running experimental/ambient guitar project Skyjelly appears at Cambridge, Mass.'s illustrious All Asia Cafe tomorrow night for the venue's apparently weekly psychedelic program Scooby Snacks. We honestly don't know a whole lot about Skyjelly beyond the nagging memory that the project has some relation to the totally quality veteran indie act Wheat. Which may or may not be true, our mind likes to make up convenient "facts" now and again. Honestly, it's the music that matters: if you want in on some serious vibe music tomorrow night in Cambridge, we think you obviously want to go with a night called Scooby Snacks. Music starts at 9. For a taste of what you're in for, we're posting an appropriately placid video for Skyjelly's stingingly beautiful droner "Providence" above. You can also stream the thing -- which was apparently recorded live at a performance at RISD in October and features accompaniment by Caitlin Strokosch on cello-- at Soundcloud right here, if that's your thing. Things.

January 5, 2013

Today's Hotness: Fleeting Joys, Mona Elliot

Fleeting Joys -- Kiss A Girl In Black

>> Northern California-based shoegaze heros Fleeting Joys work slowly, methodically and largely out of sight. It can be frustrating for fans; indeed, social media appearances are almost as infrequent as new music is released. However, our near-vigil waiting for new sounds from the now-trio has finally been rewarded, as yesterday Fleeting Joys announced the release of a digital single titled "Kiss A Girl In Black," which the band promises is taken from a long-awaited third full-length record. The act -- which according to its Facebook page now includes presumed drummer Matt McCord alongside the founding duo of John and Rorika Loring -- released the transcendent Occult Radiance in 2009 [review]. We deemed the record to be "a masterpiece of sculpted guitar and angelic vocals," and it made Clicky Clicky's 2009 year-end albums list, and Fleeting Joys followed it up in 2010 with a third reissue (this one Japanese) of the band's amazing debut Despondent Transponder. So it's been nearly four years since we've heard anything new from the band, but "Kiss A Girl In Black" is certainly worth the wait the single boasts massive, bending guitars and dreamy vocals, Fleeting Joys' stock-in-trade. The slowly spiraling buzz-saw six-strings are a delight on the ears, and if the rest of the planned third full-length is even half as good as this, it will certainly be one of the best of the year. And yes we know it is only the fifth day of the year. Stream "Kiss A Girl In Black" via the embed below, then click through and get the track in exchange for a cool 100 cents American. Highly recommended.

>> Indie rock lifer Mona Elliot is probably best known for her time in the acts Victory At Sea and, more recently, Travels. But over the last year Ms. Elliot has been slowly trickling out solo songs via Bandcamp, and the most recent two have particularly set fire to our imagination. Last July she released the tune "Heart And Mouth," and the accompanying image at Bandcamp immediately caught our eye because it is a map of Block Island, and more likely than not we were on Block Island when she released the song, right above the letter "o" in the word "Rodman's" on the map. Weird, huh? Earlier this week Elliot made available a new track, "Invisible Ties," a beautifully spare, characteristically haunting ballad about connection and loss accented with dynamic backing vocals and mournfully shaded by ambient noise. We don't have any idea whether "Invisible Ties" or any of the other recent solo tunes are leading up to a lengthier collection of songs, either under her own name or with Travels, but we are certainly eager to hear more from Elliot. Travels' Bandcamp page refers to the band in the past tense, we just noticed, although a Facebook status from last May states the act was writing a concept record and looking forward to recording. The duo's most recent release was a limited edition 7" single featuring a cover of Daniel Johnston's "The Sun Shines Down on Me" on the A-side issued in December 2011; Travels third long-player Robber On The Run was released in 2010. Victory At Sea, incidentally, played a one-off reunion show as part of a benefit Nov. 7. Catch the stream of Elliot's "Invisible Ties" below, and click through to get the tune as a free download: it's most definitely one to cherish.

January 2, 2013

Seven Things We Love About The Newly Posted Demos For Varsity Drag's 2009 Set Night Owls

Varsity Drag -- Night Owls demos

More delicious spoils appeared on Soundcloud this morning, barely 12 hours after we sang the praises of the web site and its burgeoning aural treasure trove in our post last night. Anyway, below we have embedded a stream of the original basement demos to Varsity Drag's splendid 2009 full-length Night Owls. Long-time readers will recall we liked this record very much, and if you weren't an adherent to Clicky Clicky lo those many years ago, have a look-see at our review right here. Perhaps the demos aren't necessarily revelatory in the lightbulb-over-the-head sense, but it is remarkable how well-developed the songs are, and how great the recordings are considering the modest set-up Mr. Deily describes here. There's a lot of power and texture here, and in some ways the demos have more of each than the final, finished product. The occasion for the posting of these demos is to serve as a bit of a "hey, listen to this while we finish some new stuff we're working on," which is just fine by us -- four years between full-lengths is just too damn long, guys. Anyway, we made some non-comprehensive notes as we listened earlier today, and we present them in list form and in all their unvarnished glory below. Catch the stream at the foot of the post; the properly recorded version of Night Owls is available for streaming and purchase right here.
1. The articulated, spectral and somewhat burbling backing vocals and harmonies in "Animals," particularly the chorus. And how the demo just falls off a cliff, as if the tape spun loose from the reel. Well, we just listened again before posting this piece, and it sounds like the MP3 has been fixed/replaced with a more complete take, so scratch that stuff about spectral, burbling, tape spinning loose, etc.
2. More spectral backing vocals on this version of "Night Owls," carving previously unheard melodies, particularly in the song's final moments.
3. The dense wall of electric guitar in the verse of "In This World," the slap-backed harmonies with the lilt at the end of each line, and the unhinged, bending electric guitar as the song emerges from the bridge.
4. The wonderfully overstated metal crunch of the rhythm guitar in "Long Way Home," and the shimmer and waver of the guitars as they fade behind the final cymbal crash.
5. The fun and surprisingly pretty, tossed-off electric guitar leading into the bridge of "Richard's Gone."
6. The gently chorused guitar at the opening of "Galaxies," the crunchy rhythm guitar in the second verse, and the subtle synth line beautifully buttressing the song's final choruses.
7. Deily's voice trailing off at the end of the second line of "Morning."

January 1, 2013

Today's Hotness: It Hugs Back, Black Tambourine

It Hugs Back -- detail from Recommended Record art

>> Hot on the proverbial heels of releasing the best holiday EP of 2012, Kent, England-based noise pop superlatives It Hugs Back have disclosed it will release its third long-player in March 2013. The forthcoming set is titled Recommended Record, it touts 10 tunes clocking in at 35 minutes, and it was recorded in the summer and fall of 2012. A bracing and brief teaser track from Recommended Record, "Go Magic!," is available to download for free right now -- right click and save as on this link while it lasts. During its 146 seconds the song harnesses the kraut rhythms and kinetic drive of the holiday EP's lead track "Snow Angel," but uses these to propel a more mod-inspired droner featuring a slap-backed lead, fizzing organ and sweet background harmonies. The Kentish quartet's sophomore set, Laughing Party, was issued on Safe And Sound Records last spring. It Hugs Back singer and guitarist Matt Simms may or may not be better known for his gig as touring guitarist for the current iteration of the legendary UK post-punk band Wire. Even so, Simms' own act has consistently delivered excellent, dreamy and slightly dark pop; It Hugs Back's brilliant, Yo La Tengo-esque song "Work Day" even got a little nod from Pantsfork back in 2009.

>> We're sure that if we still trolled message boards as we did years ago when we had less going on we'd see the sort of discussions about the importance of Soundcloud that we think the service deserves. It's not simply the technology we love, but also that it attracts folks like Archie Moore, a man whose C.V. includes stretches with all-time-greats Velocity Girl and Black Tambourine, among others, and it is this latter, massively influential band we're thinking about today. That's because Mr. Moore recently posted the first demo version of the Black Tambourine track "By Tomorrow," and it is wonderful. Moore mans the bass, Mike Schulman the guitar, Pam Berry takes the vocal and Brian Nelson works the kit. The song was one of several demoed in Northern Virginia in Oct. 1990; the session was engineered by a fellow named Ken whose mother's basement was used to house the proceedings. "By Tomorrow" was the lead track of a Black Tambourine EP released by Slumberland Records in Nov. 1991 as DRYL-9. We're hopeful that Moore and others will continue to unearth recordings such as these, as it rewards our deeply held belief that important, amazing music from our favorite bands continues to sit out there waiting to be revealed. As part of the Chickfactor 'zine's 20th anniversary celebrations last year, Black Tambourine temporarily un-retired in 2012 to release the wonderful OneTwoThreeFour double 7", which featured the band covering four Ramones tracks; more info here.