January 9, 2014

Today's Hotness: Joey Fourr, Poledo, Owls, Speedy Ortiz

Art Reeks (detail, Radstewart cover)

>> Loyal Clicky Clicky readers last year no doubt noticed our regular coverage of the releases from Exeter, England-based Art Is Hard Records, a little label that had a terrific 2013. The concern Wednesday announced its latest endeavor, an ambitious split 12" to be issued in tandem with Glasgow imprint Reeks Of Effort. The LP -- the existence of which was first tipped in the NME in early December -- is cheekily titled Art Reeks, and it features songs from rising UK noise-pop heroes all Radstewart, Joey Fourr, Pinact and Poledo. Each of the four bands has a pair of songs on the 12", and two tunes, Joey Fourr's "Born Slippery" and Oxford-based Poledo's "King Of Cool," are available to stream now ahead of a March 3 street date for the set. We've followed the meandering musical path of Joey Fourr pretty closely around these parts, and while a recent very grungy release felt a little hollow, the yearning strummer "Born Slippery" featured on Art Reeks is understatedly urgent and wholly affecting, touting a simple, danceable beat and some tidy harmonies. Poledo's preview track is a guitar-heavy and shouty blazer that, despite the band's Dinosaur Jr.-referencing name, seems to instead take a page from the Superchunk playbook. Which we think everyone agrees is a good thing. Reeks Of Effort, for those not in the know, is a small indie run by members of the white-hot noise-pop combo Joanna Gruesome; that act's Weird Sister LP was among Clicky Clicky's favorite releases of 2013. Incidentally, Joanna Gruesome also contributed two tunes to Art Is Hard's first quad-split, the Family Portrait 7" issued in June 2012 (which also featured Playlounge, Gum and Keel Her). Art Reeks will be pressed to white vinyl in a limited edition of 300 relatively flat circles and placed in hand-numbered sleeves. Pre-order the set via this link, and stream "Born Slippery" and "King Of Cool" via the embeds below, and sit back wait to see what voodoo Art Is Hard comes up with next.

>> The debut LP from Owls was really the last time we kept close tabs on the brothers Kinsella and basically the entire Cap'n Jazz cohort save for Davey von Bohlen, whose tuneful bands Maritime and the defunct The Promise Ring are unceasingly delightful. We were as surprised as the next guy when it was disclosed two years ago that Owls had re-formed, although we suppose nothing should have surprised us after the Cap'n Jazz reunion shows of 2010. So maybe we're just stupid and/or short-sighted. Whatever our problem might be aside, Owls have finally disclosed it will issue a second long-player, simply titled Two, via Polyvinyl March 25th. Two will be issued on all the currently acceptable media, including vinyl and cassette, and pre-orders -- including a number of compelling bundle options -- are being taken right here. The first 800 copies of Two sold will be pressed to orange vinyl, which around Clicky Clicky HQ is actually a pretty enticing product feature; some additional quantity of records will be available at retail on light blue vinyl. The original Owls LP - which was reissued on vinyl a couple years ago -- is a beautifully jagged collection of post-punk, and one we listened to constantly throughout the early 2000s. Hopes for the new collection are high, and the preview track "I'm Surprised..." is quite promising. The tune feels slightly restrained, in the sense that it is more formal and less loose than the free-wheeling and beautiful weirdness that was the hallmark of the self-titled collection. Fronter Tim Kinsella is reliably odd, but keeps his characteristic caterwauling in check, taking a more contemplative tack and pushing out syllables largely in-time to the chugging bass line. A swell of feedback balloons toward the close of "I'm Surprised," but it politely fails to overtake the proceedings. Even if there is no more explosive fare on Two, it's still a delight to have these guys (or rather, this particular combination of these guys) back. Stream "I'm Surprised..." via the embed below.

>> Honestly, we were going to try to ignore for the time being the release of "American Horror," the second "single" -- which these days is apparently a term equivalent to "promotional track," the latter being a term we prefer here at HQ, because a single to us is a thing you can buy, a thing that carries a catalog number, like FAC-13 or DRYL 11, not just a thing you can hear on the Internet, but we digress, see how we digressed? -- from Speedy Ortiz' forthcoming Real Hair EP, which is due next month on Carpark. We wanted to ignore "American Horror" temporarily because we're weeks away from drafting a complete review of the brilliant quartet's four-song EP, but this song is just so massive we can't help but engage with it at least superficially now. Indeed, we're compulsively listening to the thing over and over. And over. "American Horror," which leads Real Hair, is an explosive and noisy (and, we should say, radio-ready) gem, shot through with unforgettable melodies. The lyrics deal with watching a loved one struggle with mental health issues, and despite the seriousness of the subject matter fronter Sadie Dupuis is still able to forge perhaps her most undeniably sing-alongable chorus since the "Taylor Swift" single, no small feat. "...BABY YOU FEEL SO CRA-ZEEEE..." See? Stream the track via the Soundcloud embed below. And if you still haven't pre-ordered Real Hair, Jiminy Crickets, what the hell is wrong with you? Pre-order right here (more orange vinyl!). Speedy Ortiz is out on tour now and pretty much forever; we look forward to seeing them open up for Los Campesinos! Jan. 21 here in Boston at the Paradise Rock Club.

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