February 28, 2016

Review: Doug Tuttle | It Calls On Me

Doug Tuttle's free-and-easy new solo effort, his second, presents nine concise nuggets of sunny psych-pop, each one highlighting his arrangement chops and smooth voice. Like many albums from artists recording for Trouble In Mind, It Calls On Me applies charming production choices to tried-and-true '60s instrumentation, here resulting in a vibe that is equal parts Laurel Canyon and English folk. Mr. Tuttle's bona fides derive from his previously playing in New Hampshire-based droning garage concern MMOSS, and his new collection distills much of that group's bleary sprawl into economic tunes that shower listeners in analog tape warmth and positive vibes. In an election year contextualized by our crumbling environment, Tuttle's new collection of cool strummers is a most welcome reprieve, although it would stand strong even in a more utopian clime.

Upbeat opener "A Place For You" pairs 12-string strumming to plaintive questions, subtle melodies and judicious tambourine. During its final 40 seconds, a squiggly electric and harmonic guitar solo overruns the tune with a well-placed moment of delirium. It evokes The Monkees's more solemn moments, or a hipper Wilco at its most '60s-informed, or even something by the enigmatic Kelly Stoltz, as the elegant, mid-heavy production suggests the precision of both Stoltz and sometime-Wilco member Jim O'Rourke. It Calls On Me’s title track, an album highlight, deftly weds steady riffing, lo-fi soloing and relaxed vocals to concoct something of a bedroom homage to Blue Oyster Cult's "Don't Fear The Reaper." Which is not something this reviewer knew he wanted... but now he knows.

"Make Good Time" and "Falling To Believe" -- the latter may be streamed below -- will readily appeal to Byrds fans on a Sweetheart Of The Rodeo-inspired kick, while "On Your Way" echoes the hard-to-grasp mélange of sadness and mystery that defined Love's timeless classic Forever Changes. It Calls On Me's closer, "Where Will You Go," breaks from the rest of the album by abusing its vintage fuzz pedal circuitry. Halfway through the song's stirring 68 seconds, a guitar solo materializes, but it is quicklyand memorably de-tuned, and the song rapidly achieves chaos before sputtering out. It's an appealing diversion that stands out in the persistently pleasing collection of songs. After that short blast, one wonders if the smooth, sanded edges of the rest of the album hold its songs back to some degree, but across the proverbial board the craftsmanship is nonetheless impressive. For those wanting an easy-to-digest listen that combines much of what made mid-'60s psychedelia and early-'70s soft rock timeless, It Calls On Me is great place to start. A tour supporting the record closes out tonight in Portsmouth, NH at 3S Artspace with support from Herbcraft. Order the album right here, and stream "It Calls On Me" and "Falling To Believe" via the embeds below. Tuttle's self-titled solo debut was issued by Trouble In Mind in 2013. -- Edward Charlton

Doug Tuttle: Facebook

February 21, 2016

Review: Film School | June EP

Rock historians have yet to come to a final consensus on the now-infamous early-aughts post-punk renaissance, which burned brightly in the American underground and elsewhere for a few years before becoming something of a punch line. Still, it is certitude that for all of the more limp major label cash grabs (which spanned from big dogs like Interpol to smaller acts like Moving Units), there were more noble and original artists digging deeper to develop greater insight into influences that others thoughtlessly incorporated rote. To this reviewer's recollection, no artist of the time established a sounder legacy than San Francisco's Film School, a five-piece led by sole constant member Greg Bertens. Though the band released five albums and an EP during its lifespan, its 2006 self-titled sophomore release on Beggars Banquet best captured both the anxiety and delight of the era in its brilliant songs.

On intricate, thoughtful compositions like "Harmed," "Breet," and the bonus-track/career highlight "P.S.," Film School's eponymous effort combined the throaty lilt of Robert Smith with simple bass lines, a shoegazer's sense of guitar texture and the bummed-slacker vibes of '90s rock (the involvement of Pavement members early on in the Film School discography should not be surprising). Following the release of Film School, the lineup shifted and the album's perfect alchemy would not be replicated. By the time the follow-up Hideout appeared in 2007, the band had moved on to a denser and more ethereal sound, possibly to counter a backlash that the movement as a whole was beginning to experience. The band dissolved four years later, and that was the end of that. Until now.

Perhaps in acknowledgement of the legacy of Film School, the band's circa 2006 line-up returns a decade later with the new four-song EP June. The digital release presents the same crystal clear guitar delays and snappy drums, while gothic distortion tones dominate. On opener "City Lights," an epic crescendo of fuzz and cymbals sets the scene. Evoking a night's drive on the Pacific Coast Highway, the tune at least metaphorically assesses the journey of its members; Bertens' echoed vocals join in for a brief refrain. "Give Up" reintroduces the driving post-punk bass and drum work that marked many of Film School's best uptempo tunes; a pinging guitar line in the right channel adds just the right amount of retro and spacey futurism. "Waiting On A Cause" hints at a loungey groove and delivers requisite surf guitar lines. In its simplicity, space and mysterious-yet-hummable chorus, "Cause" is the track that best recalls the sound of 2006 in its yet under-appreciated glory. Bertens mostly sticks to the smooth and silky singing style of the band's later years and slower tracks, and (sadly) eschews the cool croon he commanded so well on the self-titled album (perhaps that smacks too much of the era still). Otherwise, June is a solid rock release worthy of Film School's excellent arrangement and production talents, a release that serves not only as an album teaser, but as proof that the classic lineup's chemistry was no fluke. Purchase June from the band's website right here. -- Edward Charlton

Film School: Facebook | Interpants

February 16, 2016

Premiere: Mutes' Hook-Laden Negation "Less Existence"

Mutes -- Inertia EP (detail)

Mutable Birmingham, England guitar band Mutes returns this month with an appealing new set that pushes out against the project's stylistic boundaries. Indeed, mastermind James Mutes jokes the short collection Inertia should have been called James Gets A Synth. But despite an IDM-acknowledging introductory track and some prominent electronic flourishes throughout, synth isn't actually the hallmark of the record: it's acoustic guitar. Inertia foregrounds James' acoustic playing in the delightful, finger-picked and delicately buzzing "Soft Spots" as well as the easy strummer "Killing Speed." We are pleased to premiere for you today the deceptively bright track "Less Existence." The acoustic-led tune touts the aforementioned electronic flourishes as well as vocal harmonies, and it is the most uptempo and groovy spot on the EP. The breezy vocal melody -- and particularly the head-bobbing, hook-laden negation "...the problem is I don't exist..." -- recalls the strong songs long-gone Philadelphia indie heroes Mazarin (recently reincarnated as the current and delightful concern Light Heat) proferred at the turn of the century. Inertia also boasts dazzling ambient passages, and strings a number of these together to form the cinematic "Long Wave Goodbye," which is so evocative a closer you can easily imagine production credits floating upwards across the picture plane. The most haunting track on the EP might be the shimmering, crookedly waltzing mood piece "Incidental Host."

It bears mentioning that Inertia is a solo collection. While James has built up a stable of players to support his songwriting over the last year or two (including the great Junior Laidley of Brit guitar-pop titans Johnny Foreigner) Mutes has evolved into a project that can and will change shape around the songwriter, in much the same way our beloved Lilys is mastermind Kurt Heasley and a rotating cast. So with its latest release Inertia, Mutes reverts back to its original sole proprietorship, and -- interestingly -- in doing so the music Inertia presents is reminiscent of the act's persistently dreamy, self-titled debut EP from 2014. Inertia will be self-released as a digital download Feb. 23, and digital pre-orders are already available via Bandcamp right here. Mutes begins recording a new full-band album this week in London, and all proceeds of the sale of Inertia help bankroll the new album sessions. James Mutes will perform a solo set to open the mighty Ringo Deathstarr's March 9 show in Birmingham; Clicky Clicky faves Yr Poetry, the collaboration of Johnny Foreigner principals Alexei Berrow and the aforementioned Mr. Laidley, is also on this incredible bill. Stream "Less Existence" via the embed below.

Mutes: Bandcamp | Facebook

Prior Mutes Coverage:
Show Us Yours #28: Mutes
Today's Hotness: Mutes
Today's Hotness: Mutes
Today's Hotness: Mutes

February 15, 2016

Clicky Clicky Music Blog Is 10

Clicky Clicky Music Blog Is 10

Well, no, not just yet. But on Feb. 26, 2006, or thereabouts, we waved goodbye to the fine folks at Junkmedia.org and began writing here under our own shingle. We'd had a personal blog here or under a clunky AT&T URL (dial-up, fool!) since 2000, but early in 2006 we looked at the future and wondered something akin to what the Red Stockings of the era were thinking: why not now? Why not us? Autonomy appealed to us, we gave it a go, and here we are 10 years and some 2,150 or so blog posts later. A great many terrific writers helped us along the way, including upstanding citizens (and one French national) Michael Piantigini, L. Tiburon Pacifico, Jay Kumar, Ric Dube, Nick Lorenzen, Michael RobbGrieco, Brad Searles, Mark Griffey, Jeff Breeze, Vanessa Deroo and D.P. Dean. And of course we would be nowhere without the indefatigable efforts of current long-tenure writers Edward Charlton and Dillon Riley. So many thanks to all, but especially you, the readers. It seems ridiculous to think that we'll do this for another whole decade, but for the time being we aren't going anywhere. There is just too much rock to rock.

Speaking of which, and as you might have gathered from the hot graphic above (featuring Mark from "G-Force" / "Battle Of The Planets," for those of you not as nerdy as us at the turn of the '80s), we are having a rock and roll show at the end of the month to celebrate our decennial. Topping the bill at Out Of The Blue Too in Cambridge, Mass.'s lovely Central Square are Boston fight-pop heroes Earthquake Party!, whose long-germinating full-length will hopefully feel the warmth of daylight sometime this year. Shoegaze titans Bedroom Eyes and upstart 'gaze-punk outfit Blew will also perform, and we're not ruling out a last-minute addition should a Clicky Clicky fave come knockin'. We're also sorting out someone special to provide interstitial and post-prandial auditory delights from the proverbial DJ booth, so expect an announcement on at least that in the coming days.

We've also been cooking up some other stuff to mark the anniversary. This link, for example, will take you to a Spotify playlist representative of the Clicky Clicky Sounds Of The Decade. It's not wholly comprehensive, of course, as it only contains what music is presently available on Spotify. And it is long on older sounds and short on more recent stuff, as we figured most of you know what has been "up" in more recent years. We've been thinking about creating a hard-copy 'zine to hand out at the show mentioned supra, and perhaps soliciting guest listicles of one sort or another from writers. But in all likelihood, the Spotify playlist is all we'll get done in the next two weeks, as we're always looking ahead, and only look back in rare instances like these. No matter. Clicky Clicky is 10. Hope to see you at the show in a couple weeks. Here's the Facebook event page where you can pledge your allegiance. Thanks for reading Clicky Clicky Music Blog. Here are a few of our guiding stars, all released on Slumberland a distressingly long time ago, now out-of-print, but never far from our thoughts.

Velocity Girl -- "My Forgotten Favorite" -- "My Forgotten Favorite" / "Why Should I Be Nice To You?"
Whorl -- "Maybe It's Better" -- "Maybe It's Better" b/w "Christmas"
Lilys -- "Claire Hates Me" -- In The Presence Of Nothing

February 12, 2016

Clicky Clicky + The Colonnade Present 'The Speakeasy' | Femme LP Release Show with Big Boy Club and Du Vide

Clicky Clicky + The Colonnade Present 'The Speakeasy' at Ol' Yeller | Femme LP Release Show with Big Boy Club and Du Vide

Attentive readers will recall that we premiered here last month the final third of Boston indie-pop upstarts The Colonnade's stirring debut LP Femme. The long-player is among the stronger introductory statements we've heard in some time, and features 10 whip-smart, widescreen, and slightly off-kilter guitar-pop numbers set off by three tasteful and artsy interludes. Clicky Clicky, never content to simply catalog the now-sounds of today and tomorrow, are pleased to co-present the band's release gig tomorrow night at Ol' Yeller in Allston Rock City.

The Colonnade are joined by two young acts also poised to leave their stamp on 2016: indie pop luminaries Du Vide and Big Boy Club. The former act is fresh off an appearance at Clicky Clicky's December Winter Ball at O'Brien's, where its uneasy but uncluttered guitar-tistry was well received. Du Vide picked up the Clicky Clicky seal of approval earlier that same month when we appraised its recent Clutter EP right here. Big Boy Club is more of an unknown quantity here in these electronic pages, but we do know the combo features the talents of the heroic rhythm section of Clicky Clicky faves Elizabeth Colour Wheel. While probably the slackest of the cluster of bands orbiting thatlatter group and Dent, BBC's Joe Sutkowski proves himself an adept songwriter whose talents can't be obscured by the band’s goofy streak. We recommend you check out the tune "TRU To The Team" and feel the feels.

BUT WAIT THERE'S MORE. Tomorrow's event promises a "speakeasy" theme, in line with The Colonnade's classic, monochrome aesthetic. Punters with a thirst will be able to partake of specialty, song-themed cocktails (The Adolescent, The Commemoration, The Modern Taste) made to order while live jazz selections are performed by friends and collaborators between sets. Not familiar with the venue? Ask a punk or hit us up; additional details are at this Facebook event page. And before hitting the gig, get into its headspace by streaming Femme via the embed below, and click through to acquire a digital copy for the nice price of three dollars American. -- Dillon Riley

The Colonnade: Bandcamp | Facebook

Du Vide: Bandcamp | Facebook

Big Boy Club: Bandcamp | Facebook

February 7, 2016

Today's Hotness: Seeds Of Doubt, Flying Saucer Attack, The Ghost Of Electricity

Keel Her / Seeds Of Doubt split

>> London indie pop four Seeds Of Doubt have released another winner, although this one is not exactly new. The newly available split titled Let The Ghouls Out, which features three songs from our heroes along with three from The Big Smoke's Keel Her, was apparently slated to come out on Portland, Ore.'s Gnar Tapes in 2015. However, the release never materialized ("the tape machine broke?"), so now Seeds Of Doubt has pushed the EP out to the Internerds via its Bandcamp page in order to focus on releasing fresher material via the label this year. Seeds Of Doubt's side B is packed with scritchy post-punk, from the tumbling 90 seconds of "Mirror" to the more pop-leaning and uptempo rocker "Waiting Room For The World," which echoes the sound of the efficient aughts guitar-pop heroes Art Brut. Closer "Stay Classic" sticks with the same recipe but boasts a more muscular beat and bigger guitars and fronter Chris Hopkins deliciously starts to lose his composure as the song careens into its final third, where rock-steady bass guides a tight jam toward a cracking denouement. The song is the clear highlight of the Seeds' side. Keel Her's tunes incorporate fronter Rose Keeler-Schäffeler's expansive but simple organ into her quintet's otherwise classic indie pop sound. Opener "Typical World" boasts a moody verse, but brightens with each peppy chorus, and "Call Me Back" sparkles from within a well of reverb while a cleanly distorted lead slices through the mix like bagpipes. The A-side closes with the terrific "Forced Tradition," a tune about an "awful job" Ms. Keeler-Schäffeler previously held (a version of the song was also recorded for Marc Riley's BBC 6 program late last year). Seeds Of Doubt's most recent prior release, SOD's Law, slipped by us in December; we wrote about another EP, Audible Human Repellent, here a year ago. Attentive readers will recall that Seeds Of Doubt showed us around their rehearsal space in Show Us Yours #20 back in May 2014. We look forward to hearing more from both SOD and Keel Her.

>> Revered indie label Drag City announced last week it will reissue on vinyl two classic titles from Bristol, England 'gaze/drone legends Flying Saucer Attack. The static-und-psych landmarks Further and Chorus have been unavailable as LPs for at least a decade, and their return to the 12" format transpires March 18; the records were originally released in April and November 1995, respectively. Drag City pushed the cut "In The Light Of Time" out to YouTube last week to promote Further, which was FSA's sophomore release, and "Feedback Song" to promote Chorus, and you can stream these via the embeds below. "In The Light Of Time" is basically a classic English psychedelic folk song enshrouded in ambient guitar noise. The tune creeps into being with lightly fingered acoustic guitar and masterminded David Pearce's serene vocals, which are obscured by swelling, shimmering delayed guitar and feedback. "Feedback Song" opens all the band's characteristic channels at once from the outset, blending feedback, ride cymbal, universe-sized delay on edge-less electric guitar, gentle acoustic guitar fingering and meditative vocals. It's a thrilling presentation of both delicacy and power at one and the same time. Eventually slide guitar establishes an almost tidal ebb and flow to close out the track. Buy Further on LP, CD or as a digital download here; buy Chorus as an LP, CD or digital download here. Back in the day -- and in the era of auto-reverse -- Clicky Clicky's executive editor dubbed these titles to a single audio cassette, so they are inextricably linked in our mind. After a long period of inactivity, Flying Saucer Attack returned last summer with the set Instrumentals 2015, which Senior Writer Edward Charlton wrote about right here.

>> We were immediately taken with "The Great Tower," an appropriate spectral deep cut from a new release by Boston outfit The Ghost Of Electricity. Taken from an EP called Bones that was released last week by Spark & Fizz, "The Great Tower" gently attacks with reverse-tracked guitar strums and layered, dreamy, droning vocals. The overall effect is mesmerizing and suggests a marriage of Modest Mouse's fractured folk and Nuno Canavarro's infinitely futurist ambient pastiches. A glance at the lyrics seems to reveal the subject matter is dissatisfaction with spirituality of some form or another, and other song titles from the EP -- "The Ritual" and "The Question" -- also suggest deeper concerns of the soul. Bones, while relatively brief, boasts many curiously arresting moments, including the delightfully aimless guitar lead in the aforementioned "The Ritual" and the clattering percussion break and whispers in the midst of the entirely delightful "The Anthropophage." Incidentally, the percussion tracks on the EP were apparently crafted from sampled sounds of car parts and bones, we suppose striking one another or being struck by something else. The Ghost Of Electricity is the solo vehicle of Ray MacNamara, who also holds down the lead guitar slot in Ithaca, NY's experimental Afro-beat act Big Mean Sound Machine. Bones is available now in a limited edition of 100 dark blue cassettes that will ship Feb. 17, or as a pay-what-you-like digital download. Stream "The Great Tower" via the Bandcamp embed below, and click through to acquire the set in your chosen format.

February 2, 2016

Magic Shoppe EP Release Show with Zip Tie Handcuffs, Bong Wish, S.S. Cretins | Great Scott, Boston | 6 Feb.

Magic Shoppe EP Release Show with Zip Tie Handcuffs, Bong Wish, S.S. Cretins | Great Scott, Boston | 6 Feb.

Maybe you're feeling it? It's like the opposite of a disturbance in The Force: the mesmerizing infinity vibes of Interstellar Car Crash, the new EP from Boston-based quintet Magic Shoppe. The short stack's four tracks bristle with tambourine-bedazzled and dreamy, Rolling Stones-inspired grooves covered in rich and limitless reverbs and guitar effects. At times, the songwriting brings to mind The Brian Jonestown Massacre at Their drugged and Satanic Majesties Requested-best, but the clarity of the performances and updated production outpaces much of BJM's more erratic moments. EP opener "Salventius" interrupts itself after a minute-and-a-half with delightfully warped shoegaze chords, while lead preview track "City Alight" grooves on a sultry guitar line (check out the video for the stirring tune right here). The highlight of the EP is the title track closer, which takes a handful of mid-tempo chords and rides along a drugged and autumnal crest. It's like the first rays of sunshine, an epiphany arriving through the blinds with the morning after a life-changing bender, the taste of too many cigarettes and the worn smell of a leather jacket meaningfully lingering.

Toronto's Optical Sounds releases Interstellar Car Crash as a digital download and white 10" vinyl disc Friday, and Magic Shoppe celebrates accordingly Saturday at Great Scott in Allston Rock City, with support coming from Zip Tie Handcuffs, Bong Wish and S.S. Cretins. Full details for the evening are right here; there are additional release shows in Philadelphia tomorrow at Kung Fu Necktie and Brooklyn Thursday at Palisades. Stream the aforementioned "City Alight," as well as tracks from the supporting acts, via the embeds below. Click here to buy Interstellar Car Crash either as a tangible flat thing or a virtual packet of ones and zeroes. Magic Shoppe first formed in Boston in 2010 and was mothballed for a time before re-constituting itself in 2014, but has still produced an estimable catalogue. The band has an LP, two other EPs and at least one comp appearance under its belt to date. -- Edward Charlton

Magic Shoppe: Bandcamp | Facebook