February 28, 2006

Review: Okay Paddy | The Cactus Has A Point

It seems like everybody is sleeping on the debut full-length from Okay Paddy, much as we were until Sunday evening when we finally popped the disc in. And whoa -- the Scranton, PA-based quartet's The Cactus Has A Point, which streeted today, is our first great surprise of the year. Okay Paddy's sort-of surreal power pop is framed in interesting production and wallpapered with irresistable, swaying pop hooks that reference or recall things like The Beatles, Weezer ("Your Bar's On Fire," particularly), Teenage Fanclub ("Gas Money"), the late lamented The Bigger Lovers -- basically all things indie, pop and delicious. This description of the record's contents from the coffee-loving band's site is so great we're just going to reprint it verbatim: "The songs are about things like non-verbal communication, going on thinking the whole time, worrying near to death, and exchange rate feelings." All that in 10 tracks clocking in at about 28 minutes. You can stream four tracks at the band's MySpace yert, and you can download three cuts from the band's web site here. Definitely try to track down the mellow strummer "You Never Worry" and the Matthew Sweet-esque stomper "Where's The Taste." Really, you should just buy the record. The band has a handful of dates over the next couple months, so if you are just gonna sit there and wait for the record to arrive anyway, try to get out and see them if you are situated in PA or NY.

03/03 -- Khyber -- Philadelphia, PA
03/04 -- St. Mary's Center -- Scranton, PA
03/11 -- The Bog -- Scranton, PA
03/12 -- Pete's Candy Store -- Brooklyn, NY
03/18 -- The Globe -- Bethlehem, PA
04/06 -- M Room -- Philadelphia, PA
04/20 -- Temple Ambler -- Ambler, PA

Today's Hotness: Dinosaur Jr., Trans Am, Asobi Seksu

>> Esteemed music rag Billboard made a boo-boo in its item about Rhino's planned reissues of the first two major-label Dinosaur Jr. records. "Feel The Pain"? Not on Where You Been. Never was. And we see now that the error has been edited out of the piece. Good work, editors. Anyway, the reissues of 1991's Green Mind and 1993's Where You Been will be expanded for release May 16, although the bonus stuff seems downright paltry compared to the bar-setting Cure and Pavement reissues of recent years. Still, we might have to pony up for the reissue of Where You Been just to get the alternate version of "Keeblin'" it will include, since that is our favorite Dino Jr. jam. And a 10-minute live version of "What Else Is New?" That sounds like it will be amazing. Rhino will also issue a live record of J. Mascis' first live solo acoustic date in 1993. Full details here. We still have Spin's review of Where You Been in a scrapbook somewhere that has a graphic with the haunting lyric snippets: "I know you're out there... where you been... you're the only one..."

>> A lot of buzz in the last 24 hours or so about Hummer's unsuccessful courtship of indie acts. Seems the military-complex spun-off, gas-guzzling vehicle maker wanted a hip edge to its marketing and was hoping to license tracks from notables including Trans Am and others. Despite the stack of cash Hummer was offering, all the indie rockers told Hummer to go take a flying f-, err, they told them to go away. There's full details and commentary in this ILM thread, including some discussion of the practice of creating music for commercials from one of the Matmos chaps.

>> You know what's hot? The two new songs we were allowed to preview from the forthcoming Asobi Seksu record Citrus this afternoon. The first track, "New Years," has a bridge that takes the band's crushing sonic assault to a new level. The second track, "Thursday," has a lighter touch but an equally compelling melodic approach. As soon as we get the high sign we'll let you know where you can hear the tunes. Citrus streets May 30 on Friendly Fire. Asobi Seksu, with a new-ish and gritty rhythm section in tow, heads out on the road next week for over a month. Here are the dates.

03/06 -- New York, NY -- Bowery Ballroom
03/07 -- Norfolk, VA -- Relative Theory
03/08 -- Washington, DC -- DC Nine
03/09 -- Chapel Hill, NC -- Local 506
03/10 -- Wilmington, NC -- Soapbox
03/11 -- Atlanta, GA -- Drunken Unicorn
03/12 -- New Orleans, LA -- One Eyed Jacks
03/13 -- Baton Rouge, LA -- Red Star
03/14 -- Houston, TX -- Walter's on Washington
03/17 -- Austin, TX -- Elysium
03/18 -- Dallas, TX -- The Cavern
03/21 -- Tucson, AZ -- Club Congress
03/22 -- Costa Mesa, CA -- Detroit Bar
03/23 -- Goleta, CA -- Mercury Lounge
03/24 -- Los Angeles, CA -- The Echo
03/25 -- Santa Cruz, CA -- The Attic
03/27 -- Seattle, WA -- Sunset Tavern
03/28 -- Portland, OR -- TBA
03/29 -- Eugene, OR -- Luckey's
03/30 -- San Francisco, CA -- Noise Pop
03/31 -- Bakersfield, CA -- Gigantic Vintage
04/01 -- Phoenix, AZ -- Modified
04/04 -- Austin, TX -- Emo's
04/06 -- Memphis, TN -- Young Ave. Deli
04/07 -- Chicago, IL -- TBA
04/08 -- Detroit, MI -- Magic Stick
04/09 -- Rochester, NY -- Bug Jar

Review: Make A Rising | Rip Through The Black Hawk Night

The foldout inlay of Make A Rising’s June 2005 release Rip Through The Black Hawk Night features a staged photograph of five masked people artfully arranged in a surreal living room scene. This portrait is an apt visual representation of the Philadelphia act’s self-described “avant chamber rock.” Songs are composed in incongruous movements with abrupt shifts between complex, classically scented string arrangements, cacophonic layers of discord, indie rock drone, folk melodies, and occasional overtly fragile indie-pop bedroom crooning.

Though the Make A Rising press materials claim otherwise, some listeners may find it difficult to sense themes building across the disparate compositions. To be fair, the latter songs on the record feature parts that dwell on themes and build into each other moreso than the openers. There is also a consistent live room sound apparent when the chamber and rock instruments are prominent, which serves to pleasingly relate movements across the diverse pieces. Electronic sounds sharply contrast the live instrumentation with vacuum-packed immediacy. The fragile, alto male vocals strike a childlike pose of vulnerability in sound and lyric on many tracks, but never go as far as to culminate or focus a track emotionally. Despite the sonic and lyric references to confessional indie rock and swooning classical music, the record remains artfully contrived and its players masked with so much prog in their program. If you enjoy the idea of your Dvorak, Stereolab, Yes, Flaming Lips, Rachels and Mr. Bungle records arbitrarily edited together into individual tracks, then Rip Through The Black Hawk Night is the album for you. -- Mr. Obb, clicky clicky Correspondent

[Buy Rip Through The Black Hawk Night from Insound]
[Make A Rising at MySpace]

February 27, 2006

Rack and Opinion: Release Date 2.28.06

To the untrained eye, this week's slate of new releases looks a bit weak. But we can pretty safely say you don't want to blow it this week. Just in the last few days we've listened to music from a couple amazing bands of which we had no previous knowledge. Both acts are putting out records this week. No big labels here, so you might have to do a little more digging than usual, but trust us, you're going to thanks us later. So write these down: Scranton, PA-based power pop quartet Okay Paddy's The Cactus Has A Point [Prison Jazz] and Chicago-based quintet Track A Tiger's Woke Up Early The Day I Died [Future Appletree]. There's also a Thurston Moore/Nels Cline thing that looks pretty arresting too. Three's a pretty good list, right? Watch clicky clicky for a review of the Okay Paddy record in the next couple days. And we're pretty sure we'll have something more to say about Track A Tiger before too long. Our complete (short) list of this week's best new releases is below.

Okay Paddy -- The Cactus Has A Point -- Prison Jazz
Ranaldo/Giffoni/Moore/Cline -- Four Guitars Live -- Important
Track A Tiger -- Woke Up Early The Day I Died -- Future Apple

Today's Hotness: Depeche Mode, The Softies, Witch

>> The Depeche Mode catalog is apparently getting the expanded, SACD reissue treatment. The first batch is said to be hitting racks at the end of March and will include 1981's Speak And Spell, 1987's Music For The Masses and 1990's excellent set Violator. A purportedly legit list of all the planned reissues, which will see the light of day in dribs and drabs through November 2006, is at this ILM thread. Depeche Mode is still out on the road supporting its 2005 release Playing The Angel, and has dates scheduled through August.

>> We don't suppose it will be a revelation to anyone that some who market music online engage in less-than-forthright behavior. From trolling message boards to setting up fake web sites, pretty much every sneaky trick that can be done when it comes to pushing pablum on music fans has been done already. You may be surprised to know that there is a trade association of sorts that aims to keep the play clean and the punches above the belt. It's discussed in a recent Nick Sylvester Village Voice piece here. The piece engages in a little bit of inside baseball talk, but that's the sort of thing we dig.

>> Cokemachineglow has a very nice feature on twee heartbreakers The Softies, with MP3s and such to boot. Check it out here.

>> J. Mascis' stoner rock project Witch is playing SXSW after all, according to the festival web site. This is in constrast to what we reported and then unreported last week. For all the latest on where Witch will and won't be, watch this FreakScene thread.

Coming To Your Local Bandstand: Dirty On Purpose

This spring Brooklyn shoegazers Dirty On Purpose will finally get around to issuing its debut full-length Hallelujah Sirens. The four-year-old quartet's set will hit racks in May on North Street. The label also issued the band's Sleep Late For A Better Tomorrow EP, about which we opined on behalf of Junkmedia that it recalls "the work of such touchstone shoegazer acts as Lush or Ride, every number on Sleep Late has big shimmering guitars, heartfelt vocals (though average lyrics) and melodies galore." We've since warmed up to the band a bit more, thanks to a relevant post or two over at Two And 1/2 Pounds Of Bacon. Dirty On Purpose is slated to spend much of March in the van. The tour starts this weekend in Cambridge, MA and all the stops are below.

03/04 -- TT the Bear's -- Cambridge, MA
03/05 -- La Sala Rossa -- Montreal, PQ
03/06 -- Lee's Palace -- Toronto, ON
03/07 -- Mohawk Place -- Buffalo, NY
03/08 -- Brillobox -- Pittsburgh, PA
03/09 -- The High Five -- Columbus, OH
03/10 -- Mac's Bar -- Lansing, MI
03/11 -- Empty Bottle -- Chicago, IL
03/13 -- Duck Room -- St Louis, MO
03/14 -- Conservatory -- Oklahoma City, OK
03/15 -- Hailey's -- Denton, TX
03/16 -- SXSW Convention Center Day Stage -- Austin, TX
03/17 -- Spiro's -- Austin, TX
03/20 -- Young Avenue Deli -- Memphis, TN
03/21 -- Earl -- Atlanta, GA
03/22 -- Local 506 -- Chapel Hill, NC
03/23 -- Satellite Ballroom -- Charlottesville, VA
03/24 -- Otto Bar -- Baltimore, MD
03/25 -- DC9 -- Washington, DC

Review: Man Man | Six Demon Bag

Man Man wants to play shaman to its listeners, leading us in a mad circle dance around a fire, a bar, an asylum or a whisky jar. On its recently issued sophomore set Six Demon Bag, the Philadelphia-based quintet pulls out all the stops to portray such "insanity:" pervasive carnival/gypsy backbeats; Sousa march bass lines; Eastern European and low French folk melodies; alternately growling, chanting and squealing vocals; bursts of discordant odd-time breaks; etc. However, on the record anyway, the architecture is too sound, the band too tight and well-ordered to be a genuine expression of the insanity or depravity or chaos or even of the frenzy Man Man puts on. While the music aptly signifies frenzy, insanity and depravity with virtuosity, the recording fails to embody and become these forces.

Man Man's cabaret-rock raucous sound will please listeners with a taste for the theatrically macabre. The band's commitment to its sound and outrageous musicianship could earn it a seemingly desired place in any carnival or gypsy caravan. But those who prefer the more soulful weirdness of folks who sound as if they have not chosen their lives as freakshows may be disappointed. The Man Man live spectacle, which earned favorable reviews at 2005's CMJ and SxSW festivals, likely achieves what the Six Demon Bag suggests. The record, issued last week on Ace Fu, documents the compositional elements of ritual mayhem, but lacks the risk in its performance. Risque perhaps, but not risky. When you see the shaman’s act as an act, he loses his power. -- Mr. Obb, clicky clicky Correspondent

[Buy Six Demon Bag at Insound]

February 26, 2006

American Hardcore On YouTube

One of the last chapters of the book "American Hardcore," recently adapted and released as a documentary film under the same name, details how hardcore finally made its way into the popular consciousness via television portrayals. Ill-informed episodes of "Quincy" and "CHiPs" apparently instilled alarm in parents and others outside the scene. Punk band Fear's 1981 performance on Saturday Night Live didn't help matters as far as public perception goes. Infamously and as detailed in the book, John Belushi and/or SNL producer Lorne Michaels invited hardcore kids from D.C. onset to rock out during the performance. According to estimates in "American Hardcore," set damage cost estimates ranged from $100 to something like $200,000. One of those taking part in the mayhem is Ian Mackaye of Dischord/Minor Threat/Fugazi/The Evens. John Joseph of Cro-Mags also reports being in the crowd. Fortunately for you, YouTube has the video. It's stagedive-arific! We also found a link to a piece of an episode of "Quincy" that may be the one referenced in "American Hardcore." Apparently one of the extras used in the punker scene was American's sweetheart Courtney Love. Here's the link for that.

Fear -- Saturday Night Live television performance, Halloween 1981.

Administrative Bidness: A Sassier URL

Well, at least a more easily remembered uniform resource locator. We've entered into a compact with the gremlins who hold aloft and arrange the pictures and text inside your computing lightbox. They have made representations to us that from now on readers may access clicky clicky music blog (which you are reading now) via the decidely more flashy URL http://www.clickyclickymusic.com. Please feel free to adjust your bookmarks accordingly. Or not, the old address will work fine, too.

-- The Management

February 25, 2006

Free Range Music: Low Skies' "Levelling"

"Levelling" has the kind of production where you feel like you can hear into every corner of the room. It's probably an aural illusion, but having so much headspace in the track allows the brushed drums to stoicly proceed while reverbed guitars face off against one another from opposite corners of the room. The track's dusty evocation, particularly the verse's two-chord trudge, suggests stifling heat and windless days spent awaiting impossible resolution out in the American plains. Low Skies singer Chris Salveter has a voice like Anthony Kiedis or Bono Vox's, but probably not in the way you're thinking (although it is interesting to think what would have happened to U2 had it taken its fixation with America as captured on Rattle And Hum and followed its vaguely bluesy, roots rock direction toward something like "Levelling"). Anyway, here Low Skies, a Chicago-based quintet that formed in 2000, display none of U2's bombast. Instead, the act seems resigned to slowly try to quit you from behind fences erected by the first few Palace Brothers singles. "Levelling" is taken from Low Skies' sophomore release All The Love I Could Find, which was issued on Flameshovel earlier this week. This MP3 comes courtesy of our friends over at Insound, and you can find several more at the act's Flameshovel page here.

Low Skies -- "Levelling."
[right click and save as]
[Buy All The Love I Could Find from Insound]

Review: La Rocca | Sing Song Sung EP

We're often drawn to thickly applied guitars and big melodies, and Irish quartet La Rocca's debut EP pushes our buttons a bit in that regard. The title track of its Sing Song Sung EP, released earlier this month, is catchy and earns points for brevity. But the EP skids into some trite territory. La Rocca's biggest sin is writing a song about keeping a diary -- always bad songwriting turf unless you are Morrissey or Belle & Sebastian -- and attendant WB network-ready over-emoting during "Sketches (20 Something Life)." Even so, there's a great hook in its chorus under urgently delivered vocals. "Home" also has a lot of itself on its sleeve, but in a manner pleasantly reminiscent of The Alarm. You can skip EP closer "Cambodia," a story-song of sorts that seems to drift lyrically toward something like Ginger Baker's odd 1994 solo track "East Timor." Sing Song Sung EP was produced by Tony Hoffer, who twisted knobs for Belle & Sebastian's recent collection The Life Pursuit. La Rocca's full length The Truth streets May 23 on Dangerbird. Our take: the set will rate with Modern Rock radio programming computers, not so much with indie fans.

[Buy the Sing Song Sung EP at Insound]

February 23, 2006

Coming To Your Local Bandstand: The Joggers

Lovably angular indie rock quartet The Joggers will take to the streets for its first tour of the year in the second week of March. The jittery Portland, Ore.-based act released its remarkably solid second effort With A Cape And With A Cane last fall and is riding the positive buzz all the way to several South By Southwest dates and beyond. "Beyond" being Missoula, Montana and other hotspots in the middle of the country. And then there's a whole other tour with Pretty Girls Make Graves later in the spring. Anyway, in Internets time last fall was like 75 days ago. So in the event you need to be sold all over again on the altogether excellent musical juggernaut that is The Joggers, avail yourself of this MP3 that StarTime International was kind enough to send along. The track is "Since You're Already Up" and it is a sing-alonger, hand-clapper and fist-banger all rolled up into one song. And the glorious guitar tone! We forgot how much we liked this. Tour dates below the MP3 link, dig?

The Joggers -- "Since You're Already Up."
[right click and save as]
[buy With A Cape And With A Cane from Insound]

03/10 -- Davis, CA –- ASUCD
03/11 -- San Francisco, CA -– Bottom of the Hill
03/12 -- Los Angeles, CA –- The Echo
03/13 -- San Diego, CA –- The Casbah
03/14 -- Tuscon, AZ –- Vaudeville Café
03/16 -- Austin, TX –- Vice Kills Texas at the Long Branch Inn
03/17 -- Austin, TX –- East Side Scootenany at Red’s Scoot Inn
03/17 -- Austin, TX –- Moonshine Patio Bar & Grill
03/18 -- Austin, TX –- SxSW Showcase at Red Eyed Fly
03/19 -- Houston, TX -– Walters
03/21 -- Atlanta, GA –- The Earl
03/22 -- Chapel Hill, NC -– Local 506
03/23 -- Washington, DC –- The Black Cat Backstage w/Georgie James
03/25 -- New York, NY –- Rothko w/Georgie James
03/26 -- New Haven, CT -– Bar Night Club w/Georgie James
03/27 -- Cambridge, MA -– The Middle East w/Georgie James
03/30 -- Columbus, OH –- The High Five w/Oxford Collapse
03/31 -- Chicago, IL –- Schuba’s w/Oxford Collapse
04/01 -- Milwaukee, WI -– Cactus Club w/Oxford Collapse
04/02 -- Minneapolis, MN -– Triple Rock Social Club w/Oxford Collapse
04/03 -- Fargo, ND –- The Aquarim
04/04 -- Billings, MT -– Casey’s Golden Pheasant w/Pelican
04/05 -- Missoula, MT –- Higgins Alley Upstairs

Today's Hotness: The Futureheads, Loose Fur, Destroyer

>> Man, we love us some Futureheads but we have to say we're dismayed at the band's deployment of this "secret tour" chicanery, the same bozo move The Strokes pulled late last year. It’s a lame device. Just to be clear: if your tour was truly secret, no one would come and you would not make any money and it is possible you would then starve or become very cold and damp. You wouldn't be able to afford smokes. Also, your van would run out of petrol because you wouldn't be able to feed the machines the oil magnates use to extort money from us. Oh, rue the day your record label talked you into this dumb idea, Futureheads. That said, here's the scoop for people who can't wait for someone else to post the details tomorrow afternoon: go to the Futureheads web site Friday, complete a word search (?) and the dates will be revealed. The Futureheads' sophomore release News And Tributes will hit racks in May.

>> Brooklyn Vegan here points to a video hosted by YouTube for a song from the forthcoming Loose Fur record. The video, for the relatively strong track "Hey Chicken," splices together a bunch of action shots from that old kids show "Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers." It's pretty fun. Loose Fur's sophomore release Born Again In The USA streets March 21 on Drag City. We've had our hands on the set for a while and it is not growing on us. It's strongly beholden to classic rock, with some experimental scrambling here and there. We'll give it a couple more chances.

>> The New York Times here profiles Destroyer and mastermind Dan Bejar. The thesis of the informative piece is that Bejar will never crossover and in fact takes steps to willfully sabotage his own prospects for stardom. We liked the rundown of all the self-referential lyrics, as we hadn't realized that was as prevalent in Bejar's writing as it is. It's pretty funny. And lines like this, from the new record's title track, are just sublimely pointed: "Quiet, Ruby, someone's coming, approach with stealth/Oh, it's just your precious American underground, and it is born of wealth/With not a writer in the lot." Stings a bit, eh, indie rock?

February 22, 2006

Review: His Name Is Alive | Detrola

Veteran indie act His Name Is Alive, the 16-year-old musical enterprise of Michigan's Warn Defever, released its delicious sixth record Detrola last month. The pleasantly scattered set opens with a bit of an anomaly, a Celtic-sounding drone ballad. But for the most part the record's music fits into two general piles: techno-driven workouts (see the scrambler "After I Leave You" and the nicely naughty "In My Dream") and '70s AM Gold-inspired pop rockers (the irresistable "Get Your Curse;" "I Thought I Saw" in particular recalls The Carpenters). The simple tremeloed guitar in album closer "Send My Face" may in fact be the most gorgeous thing on the record, but it faces strong competition from the talents of three female vocalists used on Detrola. Particularly affecting is the work of Andrea (a/k/a Andy FM), whose yearning delivery on "C*A*T*S*" is especially compelling, although she is strong everywhere on the record. Erika Hoffman's voice energizes the almost-show tune "You Need A Heart," which would be a great track for Tin Man to sing in the indie rock version of "The Wiz." Detrola, released on the band's own Silver Mountain imprint, displays a broad range but is surprisingly listenable across the board. The band has the following tour dates set for March.

[Buy Detrola from Insound]

03/11 -- Ann Arbor, MI -- Blind P.
03/16 -- Austin, TX -- Habana Calle 6
03/23 -- Los Angeles, CA -- Knitting Factory
03/24 -- San Francisco, CA -- Café du Nord
03/25 -- San Francisco, CA -- Café du Nord
03/27 -- Portland, OR -- Doug Fir
03/28 -- Seattle, WA -- Neumos

The Amen Break Is Everywhere

This link found the other day over at BoingBoing points to an absolutely fascinating documentary/video installation about the "Amen" break, a break beat from a 1969 B-side by soul act The Winstons that has been sampled so often in so many scenarios that filmmaker/narrator Nate Harrison believes the beat has entered into a "collective audio unconscious." Harrison offers clips of the beat being used by 3rd Bass ("Words of Wisdom"), N.W.A. ("Straight Outta Compton") and Mantronix ("King of the Beats"). The beat is the primary foundation for Jungle music. Frankly, the beat's ubiquity as described by Harrison is astonishing. A heavy-duty music fan may have spent the equivalent of entire days of their lives listening to the beat in various iterations. Squarepusher used it in '97, Hrvatski in '98. There's an Internet radio station that plays an endless loop of music based on the beat. The beat is everywhere, it's like oxygen. Hit this link and watch the video. It is the most interesting piece of media you will consume this month, easily. Oh, and The Winstons? They've apparently never made a cent off the beat being sampled. Harrison goes further, finding versions of the beat actually being sold by third parties who have never licensed it.

Today's Hotness: Twilight Singers, The Cure, Bad Brains

>> Billboard reported here Wednesday that Greg Dulli, who in the late '80s and '90s led alt.rock heroes Afghan Whigs, has completed his fourth record as Twilight Singers. The forthcoming set Powder Burns will street on One Little Indian May 16. The record has 12 tracks and features contributions by Ani DiFranco and former Whigs bassist John Curley. Dulli plans to debut the material during two shows at SXSW and he will support it with a couple dozen dates beginning May 20 according to the Twilight Singers news page here.

>> It's a twofer for Billboard today. Turns out that for some reason Rhino is reissuing the first four Cure records March 28, despite the fact that all of them were reissued in awesome remastered and expanded versions last year. Rhino's reissues are remastered and include new photos and full song lyrics. I can't think of why this would appeal to anybody as long as the expanded versions are in print, but perhaps there is some solid business motivation here I am not seeing. Here's the Billboard report [second item].

>> Word on MySpace is that the original Bad Brains are back and touring and have a new album in the can produced by Beastie Boy Adam Yauch. This sort of sounds like old news to me, but perhaps I am getting it confused with the recent shows the band played with Cro-Mag John Joseph. Keep your eye on the Bad Brains MySpace site for further bulletins as events warrant.

>> Finally, it turns out all but one of the Witch dates we posted last night (see below) are confirmed, per the band's press guy. The first date, March 18 in Austin, Texas, is apparently not happening, and as such we've put a line through the listing. That said, if you see four guys walking around Austin that day with hair in their face and they are carrying gear, it might be a good idea to follow them. You never know.

February 21, 2006

Review: Witch | Witch

There's nothing particularly distinctive about Dinosaur Jr. fronter and guitarist J. Mascis' drumming, despite drums being the instrument he initially cut his musical teeth with while playing in the early '80s Western Massachusetts hardcore act Deep Wound. Far from innocuous, certainly, but it's not like each snare crack screams out "J!" "J!" "J!" either. As such, there aren't any real Dinosaur Jr.-ish fingerprints on the eponymous debut from stoner rock purveyors Witch, a combo in which Mascis once again mounts the drummer's stool. But then again nobody said Witch was simply the J. Mascis show. The coven also includes bassist David Sweetapple as well as considerably younger cats Kyle Thomas and Asa Irons of Vermont free-folk octet Feathers on vocals and guitar respectively. The whole package is mid-tempo, smokey and sludgy, and it calls to mind the more mystical side of early Black Sabbath (the Witch track "Changing" even seems to give a nod to Sabbath's classic "After Forever," which has been covered by krishnacore act Shelter and Biohazard among others). "Hand of Glory" roars to conclusion with some screaming lead guitar and is an album highlight, as is opener "Seer," a seven-minute epic packed with van-rocking guitar that swirls like bats overhead as it navigates a nefarious bridge at about the five-minute mark. Witch streets March 7 on Tee Pee Records. Dino Jr. fan site FreakScene.net's forums seem to have some solid data on Witch live dates, which have to be wedged in whenever possible inbetween the spate of Dinosaur Jr. dates that are now inked. We're working on confirming these, but they look pretty reputable:

03/18 -- Redrum Annex -- Austin, TX
03/22 -- Black Cat -- Washington, DC
03/23 -- NorthSix -- Brooklyn, NY
03/24 -- Abbey Lounge -- Cambridge, MA
03/25 -- Iron Horse -- Northampton, MA
04/29 -- Wesleyan University -- Middletown, CT

Today's Hotness: Matthew Herbert, Eels, Neil Young

>> Pfork touted this exclusive Tuesday on news about British electronic provocateur Matthew Herbert's forthcoming !K7 set Scales. Herbert is known for didactically conceptual records, and has undertaken sonic explorations of consumerism, domesticity and the human body in the past. Scales concerns "the idea of distance in our lives." This doesn't sound like the words of a guy known for sticking it to The Man. Fear not. Herbert also offered this in his email swappery with Pfork: ""My goals, as always these days, are to bring down Tony Blair [and] the American empire, a withdrawal of troops in Iraq and bring[ing] about an end to our reliance on oil." Expect a double A-sided single in May for the tracks "Movers and Shakers" and "Harmonize." A second single will street in July, a month before Scales' release date.

>> PunkNews here points to a stream of the new Eels record With Strings: Live At Town Hall. If you can stop listening to Destroyer and the Lilys records you bought today, check this one out. The only track we've heard so far features a vocal that is very Eric Bachmann. Well, Eric Bachmann doing his Neil Diamond thing.

>> On the heels of Buddyhead's posting three tracks from Neil Young's rare 1973 record Time Fades Away earlier this month, Scenestars ups the ante by streaming the whole damn thing. It's seriously top shelf. Here's the link [scroll to the bottom of the item]. Time Fades Away is a live record committed to tape during Young's Harvest tour, during which Young stymied audiences by playing only brand-new unrecorded material instead of crowd-pleasers like "Heart of Gold" and such. Time Fades Away was never released on CD, but the recordings Scenestars is streaming are pristine -- there is no indication they are ripped from vinyl at all, which makes us wonder if someone has gotten their hands on the master reels. Here's the track list:

1. Time Fades Away
2. Journey Through The Past
3. Yonder Stands The Sinner
4. L.A.
5. Love In Mind
6. Don't Be Denied
7. The Bridge
8. Last Dance

>> Hype merchants Billboard and NME breathlessly reported here and here respectively that Radiohead are embellishing an old number from the OK Computer days called "Nude" as part of its current recording efforts. NME insists fronter Thom Yorke has confirmed the song will be on the band's forthcoming set, but doesn't back up its assertion at all.

Coming To Your Local Bandstand: Mogwai

Scottish post-rock dynamo Mogwai hits U.S. shores next week to support the March 7 release of the act's new skull-crushing Matador release Mr. Beast. The 11-year-old quintet's latest record, its fifth full-length, is "only about 25 percent" noise, according to some musings of guitarist and vocalist Stuart Braithwaite posted at the Matador web site. In the event you've been sleeping on this one, head over to the Matador MP3 page and check out "Folk Death 95," a track from Mr. Beast. To get the kids pumped up Mogwai Monday released a new digital single, a live version of "Glasgow Mega-Snake," recorded in London in January. You can snatch it at places like ITunes. Here are the dates:

03/01 -- Chicago, IL -- Logan Square Auditorium
03/02 -- Columbus, OH -- Wexner Center for the Arts
03/03 -- Lexington, KY -- The Dame
03/04 -- Charlottesville, VA -- Satellite Ballroom
03/06 -- New York, NY -- Avalon
03/07 -- Baltimore, MD -- Sonar
03/08 -- Chapel Hill, NC -- Cats Cradle
03/09 -- Asheville, NC -- Orange Peel
03/10 -- Nashville, TN -- Mercy Lounge
03/11 -- Atlanta, GA -- Whirly Ball Atlanta
03/12 -- Atlanta, GA -- Whirly Ball Atlanta (matinee)
03/14 -- Houston, TX -- Numbers
03/15 -- Austin, TX -- Stubbs

February 20, 2006

So What Else Is New With Alex Kemp?

Sounds like a talk show, doesn't it? Anyway, a couple months back I stumbled upon the musical whereabouts of Alex Kemp, he the former bassist and singer for Small Factory, he the former Godrays guitarist and singer. We reported here at World of Sound that Mr. Kemp is now playing bass with Chicago electropop outfit Assassins, and bemoaned the fact that the act does not display a lot of Kempage. Imagine my surprise when the man himself popped a virtual note in my electronic mailbox shortly thereafter with news of Kempage aplenty. Kemp tells us he is almost finished recording a solo record, but has made no effort to find a label as of yet. He plans to start gigging the material with drummer David Suycott, bassist Rodney Jones and Erron Williams on keys -- Mr. Williams, incidentally, happens to be the brother of Destiny's Child's Michelle Williams. In addition to that and his work with Assassins, Kemp also has a new project called Bait and Switch and a bunch of other work producing and mixing acts.

For a taste of Kemp's solo stuff, check out his MySpace outhouse and his personal web site, where you will find new music that takes the songwriting you know and love and makes it over with elements of dance and R&B music. It's a curious mix, but it works, particularly on "Northside Black." Another MySpace track, "I Thought We Hated L.A.," hews closer to Kemp's '90s material and ruminates over the wreckage of a broken relationship. There's more booty at Kemp's personal site, where you can stream "Your Understand Face," which has some cool electric piano and the great Samuel Beckett-esque line "in spite of the movement we stay still instead." "Another Jail" touts intricate, polyrhythmic drumming and a surprising smooth jazz feel. "Hang w/Clique" is the track that is the most overtly R&B influenced to us, although it hits a crescendo at the end that forces the handclaps to share room with synths and a buried but wailing guitar. Like I said: It's a curious mix, but it works.

Rack And Opinion: Release Date 2.21.06

It's a big week for new releases. Merge likely has big ideas about how well Destroyer's new joint is going to do, and for good reason. Yeah, that guy at Pitchfork gave it an 8.5, but be a free-thinker and/or just take our word for the fact that the set is the best Destroyer's done so far. Call it space rock, call it unfortunately conventional, we don't care. Another seemingly known known (yes, that's two "knowns," Donny Rum-style) is the Arctic Monkeys record Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not. In case you weren't paying attention, the Brit act's debut full-length became the fastest-selling debut ever or something like when it streeted in the U.K. earlier this year. Our call? It's more fratty Franz and it's a pretty enjoyable listen, based on the tracks we have heard so far. Finally, we've told everybody who will listen that the new Lilys record is the best set Kurt Heasley has created since Better Can't Make Your Life Better came out 10 years ago. Those titles and others comprising our best bets for your shopping trip this week are listed below. Links point to related commercial opportunities with your old friends Insound. Have at it.

Arctic Monkeys -- Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not -- Domino
Eef Barzelay -- Bitter Honey -- SpinArt
Bloc Party -- Helicopter EP -- Dim Mak
Chicago Underground Duo -- In Praise of Shadows -- Thrill Jockey
Coldcut -- Sound Mirrors -- Ninja Tune
Destroyer -- Destroyer's Rubies -- Merge
Eels -- Eels with Strings: Live at Town Hall -- Vagrant
Lilys -- Everything Wrong Is Imaginary -- Manifesto
Supersilent -- 7 -- Rune Grammofon
Victory at Sea -- All Your Things Are Gone -- Gern Blandsten

February 19, 2006

Today's Hotness: Psapp, Sixty Five Roses, Four Tet...

>> Brooklyn Vegan is the first I've seen to point out that electro-twee duo Psapp will release a new set called The Only Thing I Ever Wanted May 22 on Domino. There are two new cuts posted at the U.K.-based act's MySpace casa here. One, titled "Tricycle," will be issued as a vinyl single in mid-April. Another Psapp cut posted at theirSpace is "Cosy In The Rocket," the theme song to the TV surgery 'n' sex drama "Grey's Anatomy."

>> Red Eye Distro and something called The Splinter Group will issue March 21 a comp to benefit the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. The record, called Songs For Sixty Five Roses, includes Two Dollar Pistols covering Superchunk's "Driveway to Driveway," a guy from 7 Mary Three covering the 'chunk's "Mower" and Portastatic covering Ryan Adams' "Oh My Sweet Carolina." Chief Crooked Finger/former arch Archer Eric Bachmann appears on the record as do Carolina notables Tift Merritt, Caitlin Cary and others. More info right here.

>> Domino wants you to know that Four Tet's Kieran Hebden has recorded two improvisations with drumming legend Steve Reid, who in the course of his career has pounded skins for legends like Martha and The Vandellas, Miles Davis, Fela Kuti and James Brown. The pieces are being released as The Exchange Sessions Vol. 1 & Vol. 2. Vol. 1 streets Feb. 27 and Vol. 2 is tentatively slated to drop later this year. More info at this link.

>> Astralwerks has posted a video for The Concretes new track "Chosen One," which is the first U.K. single for the forthcoming record In Colour that streets in U.S. April 4. The video concept reminds me of that old Tears For Fears video for "Sowing The Seeds Of Love." Anyway, here is a hi-fi Real link for the video, and here is a hi-fi WM link. Incidentally, Astralwerks also has videos up for chanteuse Beth Orton's new song "Conceived" [Hi-fi Real link. Hi-fi WM link] and for The Juan Maclean's "Less Than Human" [Hi-fi Real link. Hi-fi WM link].

>> You can't turn around without seeing the leaked Guns 'N' Roses stuff on the Internets. I've heard it, and it is not good. It sounds like Axl heard that lame '90s band Stabbing Westward and thought they were the future of music. Damn...

Review: Aloha | Some Echoes

Aloha's fourth full-length Some Echoes thrives on understated tension emphasized by persistent marimbas, thoughtful guitar and deft drumming. The geographically challenged, nine-year-old quartet converged on Arlington, VA to track the 10-song set, which continues down the somewhat more pop-oriented course the band has charted for itself since 2004's fantastically titled Here Comes Everyone. Traces of the act's prog-leaning, Genesis-reminiscent flavors found on 2002's Sugar still persist, but Aloha is starting to cop from the other dial and bleed into the sort of '70s AM sounds the Flaming Lips currently embrace. In fact, Aloha singer Tony Cavallario's voice sounds very similar to Wayne Coyne's on Some Echoes' stirring ballad "Ice Storming." Some Echoes streets April 11 on Polyvinyl, and the band will tour to support it throughout much of March and April. You can find two tracks from the forthcoming record at Aloha's MySpace pup tent. The first is the stutter-stepping "Your Eyes," which you can download, and the second is the absolute best jam on the album, "Weekend." Incidentally, this latter track reminds us of The Cab of Death's high-quality indie rocker "For What Reason," which was on 2000's We Have The Facts And We're Voting Yes.

03/08 -- Buffalo, NY -- Kitchen Distribution
03/09 -- Cleveland, OH -- Grog Shop
03/10 -- Lansing, MI -- Mac's Bar
03/11 -- Chicago, IL -- Hideout
03/12 -- Columbia, MO -- MOJO
03/13 -- Oklahoma City, OK -- The One Fourteen
03/14 -- Dallas, TX -- Gypsy Tea Room
03/15 -- Austin, TX -- Emo's Jr.
03/16 -- Austin, TX -- The Parrish
03/17 -- San Antonio, TX -- Blacklion
03/18 -- Houston, TX -- Walters
03/19 -- Little Rock, AR -- Vino's
03/22 -- Columbus, OH -- The High Five
03/23 -- Pittsburgh, PA -- Garfield Artworks
04/08 -- Harrisonburg, VA -- Macrock
04/09 -- Washington, DC -- Warehouse Next Door
04/10 -- New York, NY -- Mercury Lounge w/ Voxtrot
04/11 -- Buffalo, NY -- Mohawk Place
04/12 -- Cambridge, MA -- The Middle East
04/13 -- Cromwell, CT -- Cromwell Knights Of Columbus
04/17 -- Wilmington, NC -- The Soapbox
04/21 -- Gainesville, FL -- Common Grounds
04/24 -- Athens, GA -- Caledonia Lounge

Seriously Sweden, Stop Being Awesome, or In Re: Aerospace

I was minding my own business late last month shopping for the recent Hisoft EP over at Darla when I was confronted with the fact that ordering only the EP didn't meet the $10 minimum the online storefront requires. So I browsed a bit and ended up deciding to try out, unheard and unseen, the 2001 debut of Swedish quintet Aerospace. As it turns out Aerospace is bitchin,' in its own cardigan-and-glasses sort of way. The act renders glistening, sugary and guitar-focused indie pop with a twee bent. You're not going to hear anything on their debut The Bright Idea Called Soul that you've never heard before, unless you are only 12 or didn't listen to any music between 1993 and 1995, but everything you'll hear is riveting and unabashedly melodic. If you dig stuff like Crayon or All About Chad or early Small Factory or really, any denser, more rockin' twee stuff, you need to check this out, if you are as far behind the Aerospace curve as I have been. Labrador has an MP3 of the track "The Only Things We Share" from Bright Idea right here. It's not my favorite cut from the record, but hey, are you going to turn down free Swedish indie pop? I didn't think so.

That is all.

February 18, 2006

"Now repeat after me: is it for this I have hunted?" -- Destroyer

So there's been a change of plans, droogies. After a bit of soul searching I've decided to return to clicky clicky and make it my primary vehicle for writing about music. I will continue my nascent tenure MP3 blogging with the Two and a 1/2 Pounds of Bacon crew, but I've decided that after more than three-and-a-half years, 104 reviews and features and more than 360 blog posts, it's time to try going about this in different ways. For a look back at my writing tenure at Junkmedia, this link will give you a list of all the reviews I've penned for them since July 2002.

For those of you familiar with my work at Junkmedia's World of Sound blog, you already know what you can expect in this space going forward: music news, reviews and opinion, just like it says up there at the top of the page.

That is all.

February 9, 2006

"I keep busy baby, I keep bizz-ayyyyy." - Tim Fite

Just a quick note to say I'm doing the MP3 blog thing over at Two and a 1/2 Pounds of Bacon. I think my first post is going to have a little KF in it.

This space will be reserved for bulletins of a personal nature such as this. As always, my primary online homes right now are Junkmedia's World of Sound blog (where I will soon have a lot of company once the JM06 redesign is executed) and at my MySpace dojo.

That is all.