October 24, 2015

Today's Hotness: Nosferatu D2, Mooncreatures, Myrrias

Nosferatu D2 -- Older, Sadder, Wiser (detail)

>> We've got mixed feelings about the latest Audio Antihero release, as the collection -- an EP titled Older, Sadder, Wiser featuring the final uncollected rarities from the legendary and short-lived Croydon, England duo Nosferatu D2 -- seems too fitting a bookend to the-little-label-that-could's six-year run, and we'd prefer that this not be the end. Not that it has announced it is closing up shop, but proprietor Jamie Volcano recently quipped in a promo email that he doesn't know how many more birthdays Audio Antihero has left, and we know that he's got a lot happening in his non-label life. No matter what it may or may not portend, Nosferatu D2's Older, Sadder, Wiser is a treat. The short set contains six non-album cuts -- numbers that appeared on comps, a demo version of the terrifically affecting "Springsteen" and the previously unreleased and never-performed "Don't Try To Wake Me" -- and is surely a must for completists as well as Parker-ophiles (and honestly, anyone who counts herself a Parker-ophile is almost certainly a completist, yeah?).

The collection opens with the blistering salvo that heralds "The Kids From 'Fame'," a tune that jarringly downshifts, Adam Parker's explosive drumming adopting a martial cadence to underpin brother and fronter Ben Parker's incisive ruminations on the early '80s. The ND2 catalog is packed with Clicky Clicky favorites, but perhaps our favorite rarity, "A Man At War With Himself," is also included here. In a 2008 interview with Clicky Clicky, Ben discounted the idea that certain of his songs are autobiographical, but given the powerful angst that characterizes his music, listeners can be excused for thinking the song is particularly personal. "A Man At War With Himself" also features one of the duo's most melodic choruses -- or is it a bridge? a coda? -- and concerns itself with listening to Prince's Purple Rain ("...tonight he's got Purple Rain on the stereo again, this is how it sounds when doves cry..."). It's golden. The EP ends where our love affair with the outfit began, with the sublime, poignant rocker "A Footnote." The paean to obsessive music fandom is an all-time favorite, and having the demo version of the track be what is likely the final word from the band wraps up Nosferatu D2's career in a classic, almost literary way. Audio Antihero released Older, Sadder, Wiser as digital download Oct. 16, and you can stream or download the entire thing via the Bandcamp embed below. The label also reissued last week on aesthetically pleasing tangerine cassette tape Nosferatu D2's sole, legendary and posthumous LP We're Gonna Walk Around This Town With Headphones On To Block Out The Noise [buy!], which of course we originally reviewed right here way back in 2009. Finally, Audio Antihero has also brought to the Interzizzles in association with these releases a quality video artifact, a rarely-if-ever and likely never-before-seen-by-you-in-the-passive-voice video of Nosferatu D2 performing a heroic live set at something called MalcFest in Croydon circa 2006 or 2007. While the entire video is crucial, this link will take you to the beginning of the aforementioned, incendiary "Springsteen," which we think you will find quite bracing.

>> The great Kurt Heasley, something of a spirit guide for Clicky Clicky, said in an interview with us last year that "you get into the game of expectations, then you get into the game of disappointment." Even so, it *can* be quite enjoyable when our expectations get bonked on the nose just a bit. Take the recently issued first long-player from London "reverb-pop" concern Mooncreatures. We've tracked the act here in our electronic pages since June 2012, and over the intervening span Mooncreatures has worked within the gauzy, moody realm of atmospheric dream-pop. However, with its latest release Night Guides the act injects garage-rock and gentle '60s psych sounds into its aesthetic. Mixing in these recognizable tropes dilutes somewhat the aura of mystery the act established on three earlier EPs, but it's possible these elements are meant to serve the record's understated but nifty thematic concept, which concerns a doomed 20th century expedition ("...the band perished that winter under circumstances that are unclear"). Whether or not that's the case, the cool '60s vibe of the rock-steady nodder "Guilt Chills" works well, and the song is a winner, with one gently rippling reverb shrouding the even vocal while another magnifies clear, clean and linear guitar leads. Other styles also crop up across the record: "Disaster" elevates Mooncreatures' historically more sedate sound nearer to the realm of an aggressive shoegaze strummer, while nodding toward the "classic" Mooncreatures sound by incorporating apparent field recordings. The set closes with the upbeat "Circumstances Are Unclear," a 92-second anthem that layers electric and acoustic guitars but eschews rhythm tracks; the tune would sit nicely under a closing montage as the credits start to scroll up the screen, and, again, given the album's concept, that may be its aural intent. Beko Disques released Night Guides in a limited edition of 200 CDs and as a digital download Oct. 15. Purchase and stream the entire collection via the Bandcamp embed below. According to a brief -- and hopefully entirely fictional -- narrative at the foot of the Bandcamp page, this is the band's final album. We expect that's just part of the artificial myth of the album, as now is certainly not the time for Mooncreatures to call it quits. Night Guides is the band's -- now expanded to a five-piece -- most ambitious and accomplished work to date.

>> It's been a year-and-a-half since we last wrote about Philadelphia's standout darkwave quartet Myrrias, an act featuring former members of notable combos Arc In Round and Break It Up, among others. This isn't to say we've completely fallen down on the job of covering them. Indeed, the foursome would seem to favor quality when it comes to the age-old quality vs. quantity binary; only recently did Myrrias issue a second digital single, which contains three tunes, "All Alone," the Nico cover "60/40" and "On Your Own." The ominous lead track -- marked by bumping bass playing and angelic vocal harmonies -- is a new version of the final cut from Myrrias' first digital offering, Endless Winter Session, which we wrote about here in the spring of 2014. The most stirring track on the new single may in fact be the icy, pensive closing instrumental "On Your Own," a reverie of synths that echoes faintly the New Order classic "Elegia," but delivers with richer, denser tones while teetering between tense and placid moods. Myrrias self-released the "All Alone" single via Bandcamp Sept. 29, and the set was recorded and co-produced by scenemaker and go-to guy Jeff Zeigler (who still hasn't found time to finish that solo record...). Sadly the short set may be the last featuring the band's original lineup, as drummer Casey Bell has relocated out of state and indeed basically all the way across the country (according to this solid piece), leaving the remaining trio to soldier on backed by a drum machine, at least for the time being. Stream and purchase the three songs via the Bandcamp embed below. Two of the tunes from the single, "All Alone" and "60/40," were recently performed as part of a radio session for WXPN's The Key, and that session was released to the wilds of the Internerds here earlier this week and is also recommended listening. Myrrias completed a short strand of tour dates with Clicky Clicky faves White Laces earlier this fall; its next live date is in Philadelphia tomorro afternoon as part of Dilworth Park's OctoberFest.

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