January 29, 2016
Today's Hotness: The Fuzz, Gold Muse, Lubec
>> While media reports decry the slow-down of the Chinese economy, the vast nation's production of top-tier indie rock seems to continue unabated. Or at least that's the impression we get based on the output of de facto flagship label Maybe Mars, which has a dynamite 2016 planned. Among the label's first releases of the year is the long-player The Root Of Innocence from indie rock quartet The Fuzz (a/k/a Chinese Fuzz or Fazi). The 11-track set was released Tuesday, and the lead preview track was the dreamy, synth-led treat "0909 II." The song's icy keys and sparkling guitars communicate a love of '80s UK darkwave, perhaps even an affinity for A Flock Of Seagulls. We admittedly know little else about The Fuzz, but comparing two versions of the band's "Control" -- one from a 2014 compilation and the other from the new record -- gives some indication of the band's artistic development. The compilation version (from Maybe Mars' collection The XP Sound Vol. 1) is a big, guitar-driven rocker. But this version that opens The Root Of Innocence is more atmospheric, reverberant and mysterious. The English language Internet tells us The Fuzz hails from Xi'an, capital of the northwestern Chinese province of Shaanxi (thanks Wikipedia!). The Fuzz will tour China in March and April to support the release of The Root Of Innocence, according to Maybe Mars, and the tour aims to visit about 40 cities. The band also intends to record its next record during the tour. If you happen to have the good fortune to be in China this spring, keep an eye out for the band. For the rest of us, streaming The Root Of Innocence will have to tide us over for the time being.
>> Relatively new 'gaze-pop four Gold Muse this week released a second digital single, which is not only notable for its great songs, but also because it shows a promising level of productivity for the Boston supergroup. Considering the easy pace at which certain of Gold Muse's members' other bands have released music, fans have reason to be pleased. As we've reported elsewhere, Gold Muse formed only last year, and is comprised of current or former members of Swirlies, Soccer Mom and Earthquake Party!; it took Soccer Mom about five years to release its only LP, and in about the same amount of time the still-quite-active Earthquake Party! has released but six songs. Gold Muse's rate of output appears Pollardian by comparison! The act's terrific "Kiss The Sun" b/w "Your Floral Crown" digital 1-2 presents a decidedly moodier side of the band, in contrast to its terrific first single. Deb Warfield's vocals and the exercised bass in the verses of "Kiss The Sun" deliciously echo classic Unrest, although the frantic jangle and explosive distortion of Dan Parlin's guitar propel the song somewhere altogether more dynamic. Darker still is the Parlin-sung "Your Floral Crown," which is led by an ominous, ascending synth melody buoyed by parallel bass work from Will Scales. Reverbed guitar sparkles faintly in the mix of the chorus, while a characteristically desperate vocal from Parlin is foregrounded, and the song soars to a dramatic conclusion across the back of some droning guitars and Justin Lally's bashing of the drum kit. It's a very strong single, and Gold Muse thankfully already has plans for a third, which it will begin work on this very weekend at Norwood, Mass.'s storied Hanging Horse studio. Which is not the only thing in Gold Muse's date book for the next 48 hours: indeed, Sunday the band plays night #4 of Magic Magic's current residency at Boston's Great Scott rock club (also on the bill are Boston treasures Hallelujah The Hills and Twin Foxes). Coincidentally, at Hanging Horse Gold Muse will work with hitmaker/engineer Bradford Krieger, who is presently playing in Magic Magic (in addition to his own project). It's all very serendipitous. Get that feeling by streaming "Kiss The Sun" b/w "Your Floral Crown" via the embed below, and click through to purchase the tunes.
>> It's been a while since we've heard from dream-pop heroes Lubec, but the brilliant Portland, Ore.-based trio return at long last next week with an EP it has been teasing since last summer. Dubbed Concentration and featuring pop hits "Late Bloomer" and "Many Worlds" ahead of the title track, the initial plan was for a vinyl and cassette release (as we wrote here in July), but plans on the former fell through. The music, of course, was very much worth the wait: the three songs on Concentration continue Lubec's winning ways, all sparkling guitars and massive melodies and the dueling vocals of guitarist Eddie Charlton and keyboardist Caroline Jackson. "Late Bloomer" in particular feels like a milestone for the band, with Ms. Jackson's vocals in particular literally and figuratively echoing the classic Slumberland sound, and Mr. Charlton's splashes of guitar and expansive, reverbed picking leading the songs through effervescent verses and arresting choruses to a deliciously jammy final minute marked by deftly arranged dynamics where big strums and explosive drums from kit-minder Matt Dressen trade off. Touchy Feely releases Concentration in a limited edition of 100 cassettes on Feb. 5. Lubec plays a release show for the cassette that very evening at Portland hot-spot The Know with support from Post Moves and Seattle's Versing, and full deets for that show are right here. Lubec plans a return to the studio in March to begin recording an LP with producer Dylan Wall that will be the follow-up to the band's titanic album The Thrall [review], which was among our favorite albums of 2014. We're hopeful Lubec will get out for another east coast jaunt this summer; keep hope alive by streaming the terrific "Late Bloomer" and "Many Worlds" via the embed below, and click here to grab your copy of the tape before copies are gone.