January 15, 2014

Today's Hotness: Happy Diving, Bully, Johnny Foreigner

Happy Diving (detail)

>> If you missed the tight swell of hype last fall, then Father/Daughter's quiet release this week of a blistering and delicious EP from San Francisco sludge-pop upstarts Happy Diving comes as a revelation. The new East Bay quartet's four-song set, which was tracked live in October at San Francisco's The Atomic Garden, was issued digitally Tuesday but will be available on cassette Feb. 18 (according to this Facebook post there are some designs on releasing the thing on vinyl, as well). Desperate, distorted and melodic, Happy Diving's tunes certainly have a sonic contemporary in those of Connecticut phenoms Ovlov, and like the 'lov the California band employs a tried-and-true template first forged by Dinosaur Jr. on You're Living All Over Me and reiterated by the highlight of Weezer's spotty career, "Tired Of Sex." The self-titled collection blossoms out of 10 seconds of feedback and then energetically chugs through 11 minutes of massive hooks encased in a formidable aural crust (think cobbler, not crème brûlée). Amid spindles of feedback, the slowly grinding chords and bass of "Sincere" lay the foundation for a surprisingly light, somewhat detached vocal. "Complacent" is a rager in the vein of Dinosaur's "Raisans," albeit a little spookier given the reverb Happy Diving cloaks the lead guitar in. All four songs are remarkably strong and none surpasses 200 seconds in length. Happy Diving presently have three local dates (local being San Francisco) booked: Jan. 24 at Bottom of the Hill; Feb. 1 at The Fortress; and March 21 at The Rickshaw Stop (with the white-hot Perfect Pussy top-lining). Those of us not based on the west coast will have to make do streaming Happy Diving via the embed below over and over and over while we wait for something else to happen; a music video for closer "Never Been" is apparently in the can, so we'll keep an eye out for that.

>> ​​Nashville-based guitar-pop newcomers Bully this week began selling a second pressing of its winning self-titled debut 7" EP. The original issue of Bully was self-released in October, sold out quickly, and earned spots on a mess of best-of-2013 lists. And it's easy to hear why, as the band's peppy guitar pop recalls the youthful rockage of The Juliana Hatfield Three or even '90s Philly indie pop heroes Moped. Opener "Brainfreeze" crushes it right from the start, with a hip-shaking groove and rubbery guitar progression grounding fronter Alicia Bognanno's malleable alto. "Sharktooth" layers in more guitars and backing vocals to set off dense choruses from contemplative verses. Ms. Bognanno charmingly stutters into a giant chorus in the hook-heavy strummer "Poetic Trash" that closes the short stack. The new edition of Bully, available in a mere 100 units, contains the same four snappy rockers as the original, is pressed to seafoam-colored vinyl and housed in a fold-over sleeve. Bully plans to sell the seafoam spinners during a slate of tour dates supporting Those Darlins later this month, but it appears it can also be purchased by through the bands Bandcamp right here. Despite performing its first show less than a year ago, Bully has already supported a number of hotly tipped guitar-pop bands. This Facebook status suggests the band was already mixing some new music (unless it remixed Bully for its second pressing? That seems unlikely) before Christmas, so hopefully it won't be long before we here more from these talented young'ns. Bully will play this year's annual SXSW music confabulation, so if the band is not coming to you in the next couple weeks, perhaps you can go to them, should you be fortunate enough to have the wherewithal to get thee to Austin come March.

>> Birmingham, England-based noise-pop titans Johnny Foreigner disclosed Sunday its long-awaited fourth long-player will be issued in March. The set, the title of which has not yet been publicized, will be released by longtime label partner Alcopop! on LP and CD in the UK, and in Japan by Tokyo-based Vinyl Junkie. There will apparently also be some sort of fantastical deluxe edition ("we created an entirely probably fictional city for the whole mess to live in."), which we will of course buy, because Johnny Foreigner is awesome. There are more details at the tumblr post linked supra, which also suggests the collection contains 10 tracks and a bonus track. UK tour dates like these (which we assume are proximal to the aforementioned LPs release date, and most of which include support from nu-slackers Radstewart) are already starting to pop up online, although the quartet's official itinerary has not yet been announced formally. Johnny Foreigner also intends to visit Japan, Europe and its beloved South Africa later in 2014, and South African video-keytar ninja Ben Rausch will join the band for some or all of the pending UK and European shows. It's literally been years since we've been in full-on gonzo Johnny Foreigner hype mode, and, frankly, it feels good to be back. Will we resuscitate KeepingSomeDarkSecrets.net? Uh, no. But will we bring you all the pertinent info and then some on this most important of releases? You bet your bippy. While we wait around for the news to trickle out in dribs and drags, why not revisit this primo comp of b-sides collected from the years 2008-2010? It's a fine way to spend some time.

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