May 6, 2014

Today's Hotness: Sunshine Frisbee Laserbeam, Goodbye Childhood, R.M. Hendrix

>> For those of you who didn't see us trumpet its existence over on the Fakebooks yesterday, the video above is for the lead track from a tremendous new EP from Birmingham, England-based noise-pop luminaries Sunshine Frisbee Laserbeam. We introduced you to the then-trio last fall, when it self-released a cracking self-titled full-length debut. Sunshine Frisbee Laserbeam is comprised by former Calories and Distophia guy Peter Dixon, and chaps named Andrew Bullock, Ralph Morton and, more recently, David Bentall. The new EP, which as far as we can tell carries no title and no hard release date, touts five characteristically concise, desperate and tuneful rockers and picks up right where Sunshine Frisbee Laserbeam left off. That's not the most insightful analysis, but when a band -- or really, a cohort of men that configures itself in ever-increasing combinations (more on that below) -- does so many things right so consistently, the work needn't always be labored over. "Auto," the song featured in the video above, is briskly paced, urgent and repetitive ("auto" is short for "automation," after all), bludgeoning the refrain "in auto" repeatedly at the end of the second minute just prior to a tearing lead guitar line. The tune presents an electrifying amalgamation of punk bombast confronting Teutonic minimalism and efficiency, and there is perhaps a larger point to be made about its mechanistic rhythm, the themes of alienation and boredom in the video, and how that relates to Marx's ideas about how industrial machinery alienates the worker (see, for example, something like "As a result of machinery, displaced workers are not so quickly compensated by employment in other industries but are forced into an expanding labor-market at a disadvantage and available for greater capitalist exploitation without the ability to procure the means of subsistence for survival.") But it also just rocks, as does the blazing, 106-second follow-up "Castles And Kings." Indeed, there is nary a loose thread or dropped stitch in any of the EP's five songs. The EP is available for pre-order here in two bundles. The first is limited to 50 orders, and includes 7" vinyl, CD, A3 poster, t-shirt and instant download for £10; the second offers only the 7" and CD for £6. We suspect the former iteration is already sold out, but try your luck, what the hell, right? Like sound but hate pictures? You can stream "Auto" via the Soundcloud embed below.

>> If you clicked the second hyperlink above and revisited our initial coverage of Sunshine Frisbee Laserbeam, you are familiar with our being overwhelmed by the many projects that have descended from the late, great Distophia and its most successful offspring, Calories. Fortunately, and not surprisingly, all of these related acts make excellent music. Yet one more new project was revealed last month, when Burning Alms/Calories doods Andrew Bullock and Thomas Mark Whitfield unveiled Goodbye Childhood. The duo bowed the project with a self-titled, downloadable EP in late April. The music is reserved and spare, lacing together canned beats, acoustic guitars, murmured vocals and atmospheric synths,into a curious yet enticing product that at least superficially calls to mind Elliot Smith and The Notwist. The delicate and waltz-timed meditation "Lock Up Your Son" may be the most affecting of the short set, with gentle lyrics and pretty acoustic guitar meandering first into a stiffening drone, then a crackling rhythm track. A new band and EP were not what we had been expecting from Mssrs. Bullock and Whitfield. The pair's Burning Alms has had a full-length titled In Sequence waiting in the wings to be unveiled for about six months, we reported here and here in February and December respectively. Is that LP still in the offing, or has it been subsumed within the catalogue/repertoire of Goodbye Childhood? We really have no idea. But confusion is certainly nothing new when it comes to the supernumerous spawn of Distophia. We can only wait and see, and while you do so, take a listen to the entire Goodbye Childhood EP via the embed below.

>> Wade in deep with us, indie rock fans, deep into the new collection from Boston-based graphic designer and music DIY-er R.M. Hendrix. Mr. Hendrix's new full-length Urban Turks Country Jerks carries 11 tunes and captures in its broad embrace classic shoegaze and Britpop sounds. Heretofore, the cuts "Wasted Summer" and "In This Daydream" from the collection have been designated as singles from same, and there are very nice video clips for them here and here respectively. But it is at the far end of the collection where we find two tunes that, in our humble opinion, cry out for single treatment; hear us out. Were we to don our A&R cap -- which we do enjoy doing now and again -- we'd advise releasing a vinyl 7" with the terrific, buoyant strummer "Those Were Dark Days" on the A-side, and the instrospective coldwave dreamer "Frost Heaves" on the flip. The former song is a very pleasant reminder of the late-career classic "Stormy Weather" from Echo And The Bunnymen, and succeeds on the strength of Hendrix's even vocal, big guitars in the chorus and a bouncing beat. The latter tune is a perfect foil, desolate and icy, the cool side of our proposed aural McDLT. Fortunately all of Urban Turks Country Jerks is available to stream on Soundcloud, and so you can weigh the merits of our imaginary single via the embeds below, or click this link to hear the whole shooting match. Urban Turks Country Jerks was released April 28 by Dallas-based Moon Sounds Records on CD or as a digital download. We previously wrote about Hendrix's Pink Skin EP here in 2012. Hendrix, formerly of indie rockers Flannery, has been producing music for almost two decades at this point -- at least one song at his web site dates back to 1996. Peruse his entire catalog right here.

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