April 4, 2015

Clicky Clicky Presents (Another) The Class of 2015

We're less than a week away from the kick-off of Boston's legendary annual battle of the bands, The Rock 'n' Roll Rumble. Now in its thirty-sixth year, the event pits 24 acts against one another in a friendly competition that results in one band being crowned champion, and a whole bunch of people having a real good time. Contending acts tend to be well-established, and as a group are referred to as the "class" of the given year. The Class of 2015 isn't as long on Clicky Clicky faves as prior classes have been, although we certainly hope to see Soft Pyramids, Drab and Nemes do well. Clicky Clicky, of course, tends to focus on newer bands making sounds that sit squarely in the indie rock/post-punk wheelhouse. We've alluded in recent pieces to a new wave of acts we're excited about rising up from the Boston underground, and we figured now was as good a time as any to formalize our thoughts on the matter. It's not necessarily a counter-narrative to The Rumble; after all, all music fans want people to like and support pretty much all music. So, if you like, think of this as a look into the crystal ball at acts that could be Rumble contenders in the future.

We prefer to think of the acts highlighted below -- up-and-coming dream-pop quintent Californian Sleepovers, shoegaze luminaries Dæphne and Elizabeth Colour Wheel, and upstart emo polymaths Shark Rock! -- as the freshest now sounds of the Boston underground. These are acts still tracking demos in their apartments, (mostly) sheltered from the relatively cavernous rock clubs and dank basements where Boston’s tremendously fertile ecosystem germinates, all messing around within vaguely related shoegaze/emo genres. The sharing of members, friends, and bills among them helped us connect some dots and were, in part, the inspiration for this feature. We should say the feature is not exhaustive: despite popping onto our radar in 2013, we're sort of lumping Julius Earthling in (mentally, anyway) as a Clicky Clicky Class of 2015 act; and we're starting to feel the same way about Burlington, Vermont's Sleeping In. But for now, read up on the bands below, whose futures are looking pretty bright, if not quite so Rumbly just yet. -- Dillon Riley and Jay Breitling

Californian Sleepovers

Californian Sleepovers is a five-piece ensemble whose dual, boy-girl vocal attack is the salient marker of its sound thus far. Despite being together for little more than a year, the group has crafted a remarkable, expansive and blissed out sound reminiscent of that of international dream-pop phenoms Big Deal. A central figure in Californian Sleepovers -- and, indeed, in the scene this feature memorializes -- is Nick Paredes, who both plays in the band and serves as the quintet's in-house producer. Scan whatever "liner notes" you can find for the music released to date by the bands included in this piece and you'll likely to find Mr. Paredes' name listed somewhere therein. We're given to understand that his own Projectorhead Studios was recently menaced by an apartment fire and subsequent flooding in Allston. In addition to the obvious ways, this is particularly unfortunate, as the pad seems to serve as a de facto HQ for many in Clicky Clicky's Class of 2015. We wish the residents of said apartment luck in finding a new home, and hope said home allows for those affected to continue to help shape the loud rock sounds of the day. In the meantime, we have Californian Sleepovers' debut EP Back In My Day to consider. The three-song set presents infectious, gaze-y pop that plays fast and loose with rhythmic stability. The band's forthcoming gigs include a house show somewhere in the Greater Boston area with Dæphne and a show at O'Brien's April 21 with Elizabeth Color Wheel. That latter show is billed as a sorta fundraiser for Projecthead, so your price of admission is certainly money well-spent. Below, peruse some short notes about the band and stream and download the aforementioned EP.
CC: Who does what when you guys make the rock sounds?

We're a five-piece band. There's Nick Paredes on the electric ukulele, Kevin Schlotterback on guitar, Ryan Higgins on bass and Wil Tecla plays the drums (& the cymbals). Charlotte Wright and Nick Paredes team up on vocals.

CC: Where and when did Californian Sleepovers form?

The band originally formed in the fall of 2014, but has since had new members added to complete the sound. We hail from Boston, Massachusetts, but the members come from all over the US.

CC: How would describe your sound, that is, if you have a singular one you've settled on?

Our sound is still evolving at this point, but we've relied on a shoegaze-y description for ourselves so far.

CC: Have you played many shows yet? If so, how have they gone?

We've had one show so far, that went well! Now that we've released our EP, we're looking to book more.

CC: Tell us a bit about the EP.

Our first EP is called Back In My Day. It was self-recorded & mixed by us in Nick's apartment.

CC: What's next?

Sleepovers, bowling, band practice. We're actually working on a four-song split with [our friends] Elizabeth Colour Wheel, and we're working on a music video soon [It's at the top of this feature -- Ed.]. Also, we'll be featured on a shoegaze/dream-pop compilation coming out of Hacktivism Records!


As we remarked in one of our Top Songs of 2014 roundups, coverage of Dæphne's fuzzy, uniformly thrilling four-song demo was curiously absent from much of Boston's music media. Be that as it may, the Family Vacation EP, and especially its majestic third number "Driving Down a Country Highway Blasting Weezer," is a winner. Immaculately recorded (considering it is referred to as a demo), the set showcases fronter Alexa Johnson's moony emo-isms, steeping them in layer upon layer of sepia-toned fuzz. Dæphne's improbably potent sound -- at once totally modern and positively nostalgic -- would mesh nicely with those of the artists in the stable of Allston indie heavyweights Run For Cover Records, something we noted previously. For now, Dæphne's music has found a home with forward-thinking Texas blog/label collective Funeral Sounds, from which you can acquire a cassette of Family Vacation right here. We're given to understand the band is playing a house show somewhere in the near future, as well as a stacked showcase at Out Of The Blue Too Gallery in Cambridge. Below are additional particulars about the quartet, and make sure to stream Dæphne's stunning demo below those.
CC: Who does what when you guys are making the rock?

Alexa sings, Laura plays bass, Ryan plays guitar, and Julian plays drums.

CC: Where and when did the band form?

[We] formed in boston in March 2014.

CC: How would describe your sound, that is, if you have a singular one you've settled on?

Smashing Pumpkins with a good singer.

CC: Have you played many shows? If so, how have they gone?

We've played around 20 shows, most have been good except one at O'Brien's where we played at midnight and no one was there.

CC: Tell us a bit about the Family Vacation demo.

It was recorded in one day in an apartment with our old drummer and no click.

CC: What's next?

World domination...

Elizabeth Colour Wheel

Attentive readers will recall that we premiered the debut, eponymous EP from this fantastically named quintet just a few weeks back. A bracing four-track sampler characterized by the band's deft balance of tension and release, as well as fronter Adessa Campbell's chilly, arresting vocals, Elizabeth Colour Wheel's short-player is already one of the more remarkable things we've heard this year. As of this writing, the EP has yet to see a physical release, but we're given to understand that a run of tapes is forthcoming via a new outfit called Braindead Media. Elizabeth Colour Wheel also recently went into the 88.1 WMBR Pipeline studio for a session, which was a suitably raucous time, and you can download a recording of that right here. As noted supra, the band's got an upcoming gig on April 21 at O'Brien's in Allston Rock City, and details for the event are right here. Scroll down for a little Q+A and another shot at the stream of the excellent EP.
CC: Who does what when you guys make the rock sounds?

Adessa Campbell – Lead Vocals/Fiddle; Alec Jackson – Keyboard/Synth/Guitar/Backing Vocals; Billy Cunningham – Bass; Emmett Palaima – Guitar; Nate Patsfall – Drums. CC: Where and when did Elizabeth Colour Wheel form?

We started about a year ago when we met in Boston. We're originally from all around the states... Utah, New Jersey, Montana, Texas, and Virginia.

CC: How would describe your sound, that is if you have a singular one you've settled on?

The best way to put it would be loud and abrasive guitars and drums with soothing vocals (most of the time).

CC: Have you played many shows yet? If so, how have they gone?

We've played a fair amount in the area, including a small northeast tour when we hit New York and Philly. We actually feel our live show is where people can actually understand what we are about.

CC: We've already given our thoughts about your recent EP, but what else can you tell us about it?

Well as I said before, we prefer our live sound so we recorded the whole thing live with minimal overdubbing (just vocals and some synth parts). We also only tried each song once or twice to keep the "fresh" energy that the early takes tend to have.

CC: What's next?

Future is looking pretty fun right about now. We have quite a few local shows in Boston coming up and we're currently working on booking another tour of the northeast with our good friends in Gamma Pope. We also have a split release in the works with our buddies in Californian Sleepovers and we have a bunch of new material we've been playing, so maybe another EP or possibly a full length will be in the works over summer.

Shark Rock!

Perhaps the most light-hearted of this impressive crop of bands, Shark Rock! are a two-piece that deal in an alternately crunchy and twiddly, yet entirely unpredictable, emo-core sound. Featuring the talents of one member of Elizabeth Colour Wheel, this Berklee-based band -- an important distinction, considering most of these groups also feature Berklee students but don’t quite identify as such -- makes music that rarely ends where it began. There is a lot of quirk, and it is good: among Shark Rock!'s three known recordings is a quasi-cover of "Don't Fear The Reaper" entitled "Sued By The Cult," in which they lift the melody and lyrics from the Blue Oyster Cult classic to illuminate a song ostensibly about actually being sued by the classic rock greats. Maybe? Shark Rock!'s eponymous demo, while mostly an exercise in testing a variety of sounds, is especially re-playable due in large part to the two-piece's keen musicianship, which strikes a bit of a contrast with the demo's admittedly questionable audio fidelity. The pair played a house show tonight, but it probably already happened, so you will have to remain vigilant for your next opportunity to be Shark Rock!ed. Take a look at some consistently great answers from the duo, and stream its demo, below.
CC: Who does what when you guys make the rock and roll?

Mike Costa plays drums. Emmett Palaima plays guitar and sings.

CC: Where/when did the band form?

We met last fall at Berklee. We had talked to each other a little bit beforehand, but mostly we met through the band. I (Emmett) hit up Mike because I had heard he was a drummer that knew what was up, and we started jamming and writing together.

CC: How would describe your sound, that is, if you have a singular one you've settled on?

Haha, maybe Shark Rock? We try to do our own thing more than fit into any genre. The one big thing that we always stick to is that we try and get the fullest possible sound out of only two members. Other than that, the mindset is to just write what we write and to make it as good as we can from there. If we come up with an idea we think would be cool or funny, we usually just go for it, no matter what it is. That's how the "Don't Fear the Reaper" cover in "Sued By The Cult" happened. However, all that said, we do have a heavy tendency towards math rock and noise and are very influenced by bands like Tera Melos, Hella and Lightning Bolt, in terms of rhythm and abruptness. Actually, though, a lot of the harmonic sensibility actually comes from bluegrass being mixed with more modern styles.

CC: Have you played any shows yet? If so, how have they gone?

We've played our first show [March] 15, with The Exploration, Shakusky and Settler. It was in Billy Philhower's awesome basement for a bunch of emo kids. We got a great reception and playing with The Exploration was super cool, so overall we were really happy with how it went, especially for our first show. We also got to borrow this massive Orange cab from Settler, which seemed really appropriate on "Sued By The Cult."

CC: Tell us a bit about your demo, which we love.

Our intent with the demo was mainly to get our music out there so we could start playing shows and letting people know that we're a thing. The way we did everything on it was pretty DIY/lo-fi and not always exactly the correct way of doing things, the drums were recorded by Nick Paredes at Propellerhead Studio in early December, then Emmett added guitars, vocals and additional production over our winter break with the help of our friend Max Deems in Austin, TX, who mixed and mastered it for us. We tried to go for more of a room sound on the guitar so it would fill more space, we had a lot of far mics and at one point were also running it through this little bass amp stuck inside a bathtub. It was kind of difficult to get everything to sound right, but in the end we ended up with what we wanted, a demo that was fun to listen to. We made some tapes that sold really fast, and we're restocking for our next show.

CC: What's next for y'all?

We're recording our first album this summer, entitled Summer's Ending, slated for release in late September to early August, around the time that summer will actually be ending. As opposed to the demo, we're going for more of a high fidelity sound for the album. The goal is to make it something of an epic of the summer, the listening to which will be a really cohesive experience. We're also looking into touring around the same time as the release to support the album, hitting dates around the Northeast, most likely with Macaulay Sulkin. Until then, we're just playing around Boston as much as possible. The next thing we're playing is a house show on April 4 [Sorry this piece didn't publish in time, lads -- Ed.]. We also have a live video in the mixing/editing process we're going to release soon, [which was] recorded by Nate Patsfall and filmed by Sam Colby.

1 comment:

DanP said...

Thanks Jay!!! I like California Sleepovers and Dæphne quite a bit and having listened to their EPs in full now, haven't had a chance to move on to ECW and Shark Rock! yet. I want to express my appreciation for your work here. I not only find things that I like here, but I actually kinda like some of the writing! Which is unusual. Well, that didn't come out exactly right, I hope you get my positive drift lol....