November 1, 2012
>> It's taken for granted at this point, to the extent that anyone really talks about it anymore. But the best part about music blogging is the band that randomly emails you, that says "check us out," and that is totally awesome. It might happen two or three times a year. The last one that blew us away was our beloved Infinity Girl (who, of course, next week will open Clicky Clicky Music Blog's Community Servings benefit show at Great Scott in Boston). But last month brought another, Portland, Maine-based indie rock upstarts Endless Jags. The sextet self-released a self-titled EP Oct. 16, and it is packed with dynamic, emo-tinged guitar pop driven by fronter Oscar Romero's impassioned vocals and overdriven by big melodies. The short set was recorded in part and mixed by Shaun Curran at Napoleon Complex in Somerville, Mass. Trivia hounds will recognize that studio as the same that produced Clicky Clicky favorites Soccer Mom's brilliant debut single and towering 2011 EP You Are Not Going To Heaven. Pegging Endless Jags' sound causes one to grasp in a lot of different directions: there's the care-free energy and care-full emotion of the music echoes that of Mock Orange's stellar First EP; the Farfisa that colors large portions of Endless Jags has not been so brilliantly deployed in indie rock since Rocketship's mind-erasingly good A Certain Smile, A Certain Sadness; Mr. Romero's voice is not unlike that of The Walkmen's Hamilton Leithauser. But it is the combination of these elements that makes the EP so potent, from the big crescendoes in opener "Seen Men" to the careening eponymous tune "Endless Jags." We can't wait to hear more from these guys: Endless Jags is a hit!
>> Parakeet, the side project of Yuck bassist Mariko Doi, last week quietly unleashed to the wilds of the Internet a stream of a new EP titled Shonen Hearts. If our minimal understanding of Japanese remains intact, we think "shonen" means "boy," so make of the title what you will. The music on the collection is delightfully smeared and grungy guitar pop. The lead track "Tuomono" layers rich, gritty guitar and bass over a simple rhythm and creates giddy forward movement by overlaying punchy melodies. The title track is a blissful confection that recalls The Primitives. The rest of the collection similarly pits noise against pop; it's not overtly Yuck-y, but there is an element of obviousness and inevitability that makes Shonen Hearts a rewarding listen. The London-based trio's short set is due Nov. 19 as a limited edition gold (we assume gold-colored, not, like actual gold) cassette available exclusively from Rough Trade in the UK. Pre-order Shonen Hearts right here, right now. Parakeet over the weekend played two UK shows with The Walkmen (there's that band name again...); the trio embarks on a short strand of tour dates Nov. 11 with the hotly tipped Diiv, which tour includes stops in Berlin and Cologne in Germany, Kortrijk, Belgium and two dates in London. Parakeet debuted with a single in April, "Tomorrow" b/w "Paper, Scissors, Stone," that we wrote about right here.
>> We've slept on it for weeks ands weeks, but the forever-solid Terry Banks and his band of merry indie veterans in Dot Dash returned last month with a cracking sophomore set, Winter Garden Light, that we've been spending a good deal of time enjoying. Yeah, the title sounds like an installment in the Dragonlance fantasy franchise, but we assure you: this is a very fine collection of indie pop tunes from a coterie of top-shelf scene veterans of bands including Julie Ocean, The Saturday People, Tree Fort Angst, Modest Proposal and legit hardcore legends Youth Brigade. Mr. Banks, et al., craft quality guitar-pop tunes that plant one foot in the future whilst dangling the other in the band's collective college rock past. And like Wire, from whose song Dot Dash takes their name, the D.C.-based act's approach is simple: each tune is an astutely realized nugget of punky songwriting relying on a few chords, aggressive bass work, and swoon-inducing backing vocals. "Writing On The Wall," a stand-out cut from Winter Garden Light, commences with an arresting bass descent paired with Banks' pleasant power-pop patter. Trebly, slapping rhythm guitar follows the vocal, as Banks peels off anthemic lines that penetrate your head like "a penny for your thoughts, my kingdom for a horse." The song closes with perfect snare rolls and a great guitar breakdown evidencing the band's tasteful deployment of delay and minor keys. Winter Garden Light is available now from The Beautiful Music label. -- Edward Charlton
>> Avid readers will recall that a month ago we wrote about the crushing forthcoming single from Clicky Clicky faves Soccer Mom. At the time we could tell you about "Brides" b/w "Canoe," but we weren't able to share any music with you. That's just no way to leave things. So fortunately we're now able to share with you a stream of "A Canoe Shy" (that's the full title of the tune, yeah) below. The song highlights the Boston quartet's dense, punishing guitar attack, features one of founder Dan Parlin's most affecting vocal melodies, and is also notable for being the first official 'Mom release featuring Mr. Justin Kehoe pounding the skins and hardware. As we said last month, Soccer Mom plays a very hot bill Monday at Great Scott in Boston, an evening that features the hotly tipped Tamaryn and west coast shoegaze luminaries Young Prisms. "Brides" b/w "Canoe" will be released by 100m Records the following day, and you can pre-order your copy right here if you aren't able to get to the show to buy one straight from the band.