July 18, 2015

Today's Hotness: Benjamin Shaw, Funeral Advantage

Benjamin Shaw -- Guppy (crop)

>> Benjamin Shaw is a favorite of this blog, and longtime readers will recall that the Londoner's music can be dark and challenging, as well as stunningly beautiful. Mr. Shaw's latest release, his fifth long-player by one count, is amusingly titled Guppy, a name that suggests something cute and inconsequential, adjectives that reasonable minds will never apply to Shaw's music. Guppy presents a series of contemplative, textural compositions and recalls his two most experimental releases, 2010's sinister wonder Rumfucker and 2013's increasingly abstract Summer In The Box Room [review]. The set opens with the gloomy, doomy dirge "Pride Of Canada," a side-long wink at Shaw's Canadian roots; the feedback and throbbing parts momentarily for a couplet from Shaw, resumes, then recedes for more sly lyrics and an unsteady denouement. "Good Arrows" patiently thrums a bass line out into eternity -- through occasional clouds of spectral voices and implied, supporting chords -- and echoes the work of classic Louisville post-rockers The For Carnation. Despite Guppy's ominous opening, there are moments of uncharacteristic serenity (the first in the catalogue to our memory) in the poignant, affecting "Fishing With Dad (No Dad)." The number asserts itself mildly via impulses of piano, pizzicato strings and streaks of field recordings that conjure reveries of a long-gone dawn in a perhaps never-was great outdoors. The collection ends very strongly with the beautiful, almost benevolent droner "Not Today, Satan," whose persistent density makes for a neat bookend to a fairly magical record. Tokyo-based microlabel Kirigirisu released Guppy July 13 in a limited edition of 72 compact discs and as a digital download; the CDs are hand-numbered, packaged in a paper sleeve, and come with two stickers, which we recall is the standard deal with Kirigirisu releases. Purchase Guppy in either format right here, and stream the entire collection via the Bandcamp embed below. We feel compelled to remind readers that Shaw's There's Always Hope, There's Always Cabernet, released by Audio Antihero, was our third favorite record of 2011 [list]. Also worthy of note in these electronic pages is another Kirigirisu release issued July 13, Nathan Derr's Abscessant. Mr. Derr hails from Portland, Ore., home of our beloved Lubec among, of course, many others, and his new collection of nine ambient compositions is perfect for late night zones or leisurely days at the library. Abscessent is available in a limited edition of 50 CDs and you can stream the entire set via the second embed below.

>> If you don't yet know the name Funeral Advantage, and you are a reader of this blog, well, that's pretty weird. But -- to the extent they exist now that the band has been championed in the normo-o-sphere -- the young band's days of relative anonymity are numbered and grow short, as the dazzling debut long-player Body Is Dead from the dream-pop act masterminded by Tyler Kershaw is poised to break big this summer. The collection is heralded by two terrifically appealing preview tracks, "Sisters" and "Gardensong." The former is a forthright and uptempo pop gem with whispered vocals and gently stuttering guitars in the verse that blends youth and longing right there with the lightning in the proverbial bottle; its timeless chorus breathes over linear guitar leads and burbling synths, and really could go on forever with nary a complaint from the Clicky Clicky mindhive. Despite its (Cure-esque) title, "Gardensong" is less precious, but no less affecting. The dashing tune is led by bright guitars and a sturdy drum track into a palpable mist of clean reverbs. Both numbers are undeniable hits, and at the moment there is no record we are more exited to hear this year. Body Is Dead was performed, written and recorded by Mr. Kershaw, and features additional vocals from Chelsea Figuerido. The 10-song set -- which takes its name from its 10-minute-long closer -- will be released on 12" vinyl, cassette and as a digital download Aug. 28. The vinyl will be available in a limited edition of 300 pieces (200 pressed to black media, 100 pressed to "dirt maroon") from the New York-based label Native Sound; a domestic cassette release (limited to 100 pieces, 80 "red glare" and 20 "darcia?") is being handled by Boston's own Disposable America, and a cassette version will also be available in Japan via Miles Apart. Funeral Advantage previously released a number of EPs and split singles with Caténine and Former Ghost, and completists will be pleased to learn that The Native Sound has packaged all of this up into special "Starter Packs" that can be ordered in tandem with Body Is Dead right here. For those who want to try before they buy, there is a fair amount to listen to at the act's Soundcloud page right here. Stream "Sisters" and "Gardensong" via the embeds below. Watch a fairly devastating video directed by Wooden Grain Films for "Sisters" from the new record right here.

July 17, 2015

Today's Hotness: Fog Lake, Sediment Club, Blank Realm

Fog Lake -- Victoria Park (crop)

>> A year in the making, Fog Lake's terrific long-player Victoria Park arrived late last month, and it sounds like the cool morning before a stifling hot summer day. The release, the third long-player from the St. John, Newfoundland-based act, is informed by both a beautiful melancholy and an ungraspable yet quenching nostalgia. Fog Lake is centered around the songwriting of talented introvert Aaron Powell, whose music here drones and hums, presenting spectral voices and thrumming piano chords and more than a little mystery in a blurry but entrancing pastiche that recalls the dark wonders of Cat Power's "What Would The Community Think?," for example. Fog Lake began as a solo project for Mr. Powell about seven years ago. Historically, he has written and recorded alone, but this changed with Victoria Park, on which he was abetted on Victoria Park by the synth playing of Kenney Purchase on a few songs (Powell also relies on additional players when performing live). The collection is consistently enchanting, but points of interest include the relatively uptempo and anthemic "Antidote," whose drone is spangled by distant snare and Powell's reedy tenor. The highlight of Victoria Park is the absolutely haunting, poignant album closer "Dog Years," a mesmerizing video for which was released to the wilds of the Internerds earlier this week; we strongly recommend you watch that right here.Orchid Tapes released Victoria Park June 30 in a limited edition of 115 white cassette tapes; unsurprisingly, it is already sold out. Orchid Tapes was quick to bring to market a second edition of its other recent hit, Katie Dey's tremendous asdfasdf [review], so it is very likely a second edition of Victoria Park will materialize shortly. In the meantime, stream the entire, excellent release via the Bandcamp embed below.

>> Like Empire State noiseniks Palberta, New York City-spawned no-wavers The Sediment Club bring a refreshing, random logic to its DIY house-show squealing, traits that make the veteran trio's careening, desperate music the perfect summer spazz-rock cocktail to complement the season's scorching weather and bizarro political times. Lead single and title track "Psychosymplistic, Psychosymplastic" unravels the act's curious madness in grand, pounding fashion. The swooping, elastic bass, staticy noise-guitar and Austin Sley Julian's yelping vocals contribute equally to the tune's chaos. The result is an aggressive listen sans many of the typical trappings peculiar to aggressive punk music. Mr. Julian's intensity and the ridiculous lines of the chorus challenge listeners to consider what precipitated such a pleasingly ramshackle -- yet air-tight -- attack. How did The Sediment Club get to this? What's beyond life's random accidents and puzzling combinations of sound and action? Maybe, just maybe, that's all life really is, and The Sediment Club are here to soundtrack the gradual melting of all preconceived notions into a dense, modern soup. Psychosymplistic, Psychosymplastic will be released by Wharf Cat Records July 24 on limited edition LP, CD and digital download. The LP is available in an edition of 100 pieces with hand-screened sleeve art; the CD is packaged in a special clamshell case with fancy sticker and apparently noteworthy bar code? Pre-order any of the formats right here. The Sediment Club formed in 2008 and touts a formidable back catalog of LPs, EPs, tapes and singles, much of which appears to be listed at its web dojo; check it out. The band plays a house show in Boston at something called Scorched Ear tonight -- ask a punk for deets. Listen to "Psychosymplistic, Psychosymplastic" via the embed below. -- Edward Charlton

>> Brisbane, Australia four Blank Realm caught our ear recently with "River Of Longing," a kaleidoscopic guitar-pop number that does justice to antipodean nation's infamous psych-tapestry heritage. From its upcoming sophomore album Illegals In Heaven, due out via Fire Records on Sept. 4, the band showcases dynamic and colorful guitar melodies that dance around singer Daniel Spencer's tossed, playful vocals. The knowing, casual allure of Mr. Spencer's delivery brings to mind that of Canadians Kevin Drew and Brennan Canning of Broken Social Scene, the commonality being brutally earnest but inviting melodies. Speaking of melody, that is the name of the game for Blank Realm; at times the band seems to have so many ideas that they nearly overwhelm the comparatively simple chords and structures that underpin "River Of Longing." The song's opening guitar chime provides a sturdy foundation for song's big, wiry hooks, an opening salvo coated in warm delay and echo that not only recalls Johnny Marr's note-dense playing in The Smiths but also something a little more modern, like the halfway point between The Church and the sunny, synthesizer-driven style that usually comes with music that feels this bouncy, sexy and hopeful. Illegals In Heaven was available in your choice of black or limited pink-and-white vinyl, but the limited edition pink-and-white edition has already gone the way of the dodo bird, so, sorry. Pre-order the black vinyl, or the handy CD or digital download versions, direct from the Blank Realm Bandcamp right here. -- Edward Charlton


July 11, 2015

That Was The Show That Was: Infinity Girl, Lubec, Guillermo Sexo, Havania Whaal | Great Scott | 9 July

That Was The Show That Was: Infinity Girl, Lubec, Guillermo Sexo, Havania Whaal | Great Scott | 9 July

We're going to remember this one for a long time. Not only was this big, big, big rock show Thursday night our first-ever IRL meeting with a very old and good friend, it was also our first time seeing Clicky Clicky fave Lubec and now-Clicky Clicky fave Havania Whaal. Our good friends in Guillermo Sexo were reliably spectacular, and shoegaze heroes Infinity Girl were just heroic. Great show, five stars, would recommend seeing again.

But of course there's more to it than that. Openers and Oregonites Havania Whaal was probably the least-known quantity for most folks in Boston -- locale of the first night of HW's tour with BandFF's Lubec -- and a number of folks sidled up to us to remark at how the trio impressed. The band opted for more uptempo and immediate material for its live set, which somewhat played down the band's characteristic darkwave flavor, but revealed in aural glimpses some of the band's more classic influences in Versus and Unrest. Official Show Saviors Guillermo Sexo backlined the entire night with their gear, but perhaps bigger contribution was its amazing set, which was richly textured and firmly dreamy. The band's stock in trade is atmospheric and moody psych-rock, which we've written about here in these electronic pages for years, but even after a decade Guillero Sexo is finding new tricks up their collective and proverbial sleeve. Its set was heavily tilted toward brand-new material, and the second song out of the gate was a stunner, uplifting and transcendant in a way we have not yet heard the band do it. We are eager to hear what comes next; a video for the new-ish tune "Graffiti Skies" is about to be unleashed, so keep your eyes open for that.

Lubec was simply tremendous, a constantly crescendoing miracle of dream-pop, its three players and their playing both perfectly aligned and balanced. The Portland three has played with a second guitarist previously, and we were wondering if we'd miss that element in the mix, but fronter Eddie Charlton's guitar work, keyboardist Caroline Jackson's work holding down the low and and spangling the upper register, and Matt Dressen's sturdy drumming complement each other in a remarkably graceful way. Lubec played the three songs from its hotly anticipated "Concentration" single (which will be out on vinyl and cassette via Like Young and Touchy Feely, respectively) as well as hits from its 2014 masterpiece The Thrall [review]. Finally, Infinity Girl delivered a powerful reminder of just what got these guys signed to Topshelf Records earlier this year. Its dynamic set included classics including "Please Forget" as well as its latest single, but we were particularly thrilled to hear them play what will surely be a monster hit, the uptempo and blurry instant classic "Dirty Sun." Trust us: the song is massive, like Top 10 all-time-favorite-songs massive. Infinity Girl will be back in Boston in early September playing a release show with totes sick support for its tremendous sophomore set Harm, which will be issued by Topshelf Aug. 17 [details].

Lubec and Havania Whaal's tour jogged to the left for a show in Worcester, Mass. Friday and blazed through Brooklyn just this afternoon, and from here on out they are heading due south toward Jacksonville, playing dates en route with Clicky Clicky faves Golden Gurls and Swings. The remaining tour dates are posted at the bottom of this item. We suppose this is as good a place as any to note that Golden Gurls seem to be brushing off the cobwebs and becoming more active again. The Baltimore trio loosed to the wilds of the Internerds late last month a short stack of demos called, unsurprisingly, New Old Demos [link], and we have it on good authority the band has new material in the works, so keep an ear on Baltimore. Well, not all of Baltimore, pretty much just them and a few others, yeh?

Big thanks go to Carl, Jesse and Dan at Great Scott, as without their support there'd have been no show and that would have been super-sad. Now is probably an opportune time to mention that this Clicky Clicky Presents thing is sort of happening, and will continue to happen, and we're planning a bunch of first-rate rock events straight through into the new year, which year will include a certain blog's 10th anniversary, based on the most reliable metric of measuring such things. Anyway, keep your gaze trained on this page, our Facebook dojo and Twitter outpost. You'll be glad you did. Now why don't you go grab another beer and stream the songs below?

Infinity Girl: Bandcamp | Facebook
Lubec: Bandcamp | Facebook
Guillermo Sexo: Bandcamp | Facebook
Havania Whaal: Facebook | Internerds

Lubec / Havania Whaal Tour Dates:
07.12 -- Philadelphia PA -- Bourbon & Branch
07.13 -- Baltimore MD -- Reverb
07.14 -- Washington, DC -- The Pinch
07.15 -- Norfolk, VA -- The Taphouse
07.16 -- Raleigh, NC -- Prisma Video
07.17 -- Asheville, NC -- Mothlight
07.18 -- Athens GA -- Flicker Bar
07.19 -- Jacksonville FL -- Burro Bar w/ Round Eye

July 4, 2015

Today's Hotness: Flying Saucer Attack, Happy Diving, Mourn

Flying Saucer Attack -- Instrumentals 2015 (crop)

>> A particularly cultish corner of the experimental rock music world was driven to hysteria month ago when it was finally announced that Flying Saucer Attack, one of the finest shoegaze/drone concerns of the 1990s, would release Instrumentals 2015 on Drag City Records this month. The new collection, due July 17, will be the band's first in 15 years! The apparently aptly titled, 15-song set features pieces recorded by fronter David Pearce (partner and vocalist Rachel Brook presumably sits this one out) to analog tape and CD-R at his home, a medium which served the band well on landmark static-und-drone releases Further and Distance. With hopes of appealing to both die-hard fans and those unfamiliar with the its catalog, Flying Saucer Attack's two preview tracks gently lull the listener while providing windows into Pearce's thoughtful and powerful sound world. "Instrumental 7" opens with smooth, mid-range guitar feedback that dramatically shuts off briefly at various intervals. As each drop-out occurs, swells of supporting notes join the feedback tone to establish additional new harmonies. Second single "Instrumental 4" takes a different approach, instead employing ear-splitting cascades of feedback and slowly plucked single-note guitar leads to slow time and space to a hypnotic background whir. With each track, the subtle mastery of the dynamics is first-class. Like another dreamy '90s shoegaze group, Auburn Lull, did last year with its magnificent Hiber cassette, the inimitable FSA have reappeared to show the seemingly burgeoning legions of bedroom drone instrumentalists how things are done. Pre-order Instrumentals 2015 on 12" vinyl, CD or cassette from Drag City Records right here. Both "Instrumental 7" and "Instrumental 4" can be streamed via our curiously but purposefully narrow YouTube embeds below. -- Edward Charlton

>> This publication was properly bowled over by Happy Diving's Father/Daughter-released debut long-player Big World last fall, and last month's news that the group are already set to return with a fresh 7" on the mighty (and getting mightier) Topshelf Records is certainly cause for celebration. Out July 17 on a variety of colored wax, the East Bay, Calif. band's preview single offers up two great, humid, chugging sludge-pop jams. A-side "So Bunted" recalls the Big World standout "Space Ooze" with its atypical structure, dense chordings and bummed-out vocals, while further pressing those signifiers as some of the band's greatest strengths. After a brief opening comprised of post-Blue Album guitar wailing, the group scales back to a single verse where guitarist/singer Matt Berry's plaintive, bruised vocal details a relationship gone as sour as the minor-to-major power chord changes that keep the song both murky and anthemic. Recorded in just four hours at The Atomic Garden with go-to California heavy-rock producer Jack Shirley (Deafhaven, Whirr, Joyce Manor), the two-minute piece is perfectly rendered in all of its live-sounding, signal-clipping glory. Happy Diving stay true to their monolithic approach to twenty-something, house show angst, and it promises even more fuzz-fest payouts on their next album, which at this rate of productivity just might be here by 2016. Pre-order "So Bunted" from Topshelf right here, and catch the band on its upcoming tour, the dates of which are listed out below. Stream "So Bunted" via the Soundcloud embed below. -- Edward Charlton

07/15 -- Oakland, CA -- One Fam
07/17 -- Portland, OR -- TBA
07/18 -- Olympia, WA -- Old School Pizzeria
07/19 -- Seattle, WA -- Office Space
07/20 -- Vancouver, BC -- Alf House
07/21 -- Victoria, BC -- The Mirancave
07/23 -- Santa Rosa, CA -- The Funk Den
07/24 -- San Francisco, CA -- Thee Parkside
07/25 -- Santa Cruz, CA -- Cafe Pergolesi
07/26 -- Los Angeles, CA -- The Echo
07/27 -- Corona, CA -- Sinbad's Hookah Lounge
07/28 -- San Diego, CA -- Che Cafe
07/29 -- Merced, CA -- Tigers & Daggers Records
09/04-09/06 -- Berkeley, CA -- Resurrect Cali Fest @ 924 Gilman

>> This reviewer admittedly missed Mourn's Captured Tracks-released self-titled debut album, which was issued in February, but the quartet's wickedly quick follow up Gertrudis 7" was enough to send us back to listen to it. The much-hyped Catalonian co-ed punk group apparently represent a rising wave of young Spanish punk which has greatly excited tastemakers including Captured Tracks' Mike Sniper, and A-side "Gertrudis, Get Through This!" certainly bears out that heightened interest. Opening with a kinetic, prickly guitar riff, the song highlights the cool vocals of Carla Perez Vas, which echo those of the band's idols including PJ Harvey and Sonic Youth. Building in tension as the instruments remain sturdy and straight, Ms. Vas breaks from a clear and upfront coo to a desperate chorus that brings to mind other European positive feminist punk outfits such as Welsh powerhouse Joanna Gruesome. While straightforward in its construction, the song shifts so dynamically into the "get through this!" chorus that the youthful angst of Mourn arrives in ear canals completely, precisely. Album number two will certainly not be slept on after a wake up call like this, and a release date has been tentatively scheduled for this very month. In the meantime, grab the single digitally via Steve Jobs MegaCo. right here. -- Edward Charlton