December 29, 2006

From The Admin Cubicle: The Slow March Of Progress

Aloha readers. Welcome to the redesigned site. Well, the redesign is a work-in-progress at this point, but we figured we'd just dive in headlong and go live with what we have now and tweak it over the next 10 days or so as we settle into 2007. There are still a couple additional graphic elements we are considering, and the sidebar is still a bit of a mess, but whatever. We'll be back after New Year's with new content. In the meantime, we'll continue tinkering here behind the curtain. -- The Management.

December 20, 2006

Year-End Wrap Party: Eight Records You Should Have Heard In 2006

Year-End Wrap Party: Eight Records You Should Have Heard In 2006This is our second annual list of records that music fans should have heard this year, or should seek out now that we've stamped them with our seal of approval. We pointedly do not dub these records "best of the year," although in many cases we feel that this is true. No, this list is created with the intention to highlight sets overlooked or ignored by the MSBM (tm), the Mainstream Blog Media. Our list, for example, does not contain the Joanna Newsom record. Or The Decemberists record. Even the excellent Asobi Seksu record Citrus, which we've championed since its beautiful package crossed our threshold last spring, does not make this year's list, as we feel that it has garnered the attention it has deserved now that it has made higher-profile lists. Our goal is to highlight lesser-known titles and to get people to hear them. The records warrant the attention, that we promise. If you'd like to see our list for 2005 that we posted at Junkmedia's World Of Sound blog, hit this link. And now, this year's models, in roughly alphabetical order:

1. Armalite -- Armalite -- No Idea

>> What It Is: Clever, economical pop punk with bright harmonies and layered guitar lines.

>> Why We Don't Think People Were Listening: Only six hits at Hype Machine, the most recent being from March 12 (Hype Machine didn't start picking up our feed until Oct. 1, so our posts aren't included in this total). By way of comparison for Armalite's self-titled set and the rest of our selections, Sufjan Stevens is the most blogged about artist on Hype Machine, with some 10 pages of hits each holding something like 30 hits or so. No review at Pitchfork.

>> Why You Should Hear It: Key dudes include the wildly entertaining Atom Goren (formerly of Fracture and the various iterations of Atom And His Package) and Dan Yemin (formerly and once again dude behind Lifetime and Kid Dynamite). And they made a great record.

Armalite -- "I Am A Pancreas (I Seek To Understand Me)" -- Armalite
Armalite -- "Entitled" -- Armalite
[right click and save as]

Armalite: InterWeb | MySpace | YouTube | Flickr


2. The Beatings -- Holding On To Hand Grenades -- Mid Riff

>> What It Is: Professed Mission Of Burma acolytes render intelligent tunes with walls of blistering guitar.

>> Why We Don't Think People Were Listening: Only 10 hits on Hype Machine, and only one in the six months following the initial release of the record in January. No review at Pitchfork.

>> Why You Should Hear It: Holding On To Hand Grenades is very ambitious, and not just because it has like 16 songs on it. The music is dense and dynamic. Read our full review here.

The Beatings -- "Feel Good Ending" -- Holding On To Hand Grenades
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The Beatings: InterWeb | MySpace | YouTube | Flickr


3. Daylight's For The Birds -- Trouble Everywhere -- This Generation Tapes

>> What It Is: Airy dream pop with surprising structures anchored to stirring melodies by two compelling female vocalists.

>> Why We Don't Think People Were Listening: It came out very late in the year. Only three hits on Hype Machine, not including our post Nov. 9. No review at Pitchfork, although there is a mention in the newswire.

>> Why You Should Hear It: This set comes across particularly strong as a whole, and we listened to it in its entirety perhaps more regularly than any other record since its release. This is one of the strongest dreampop/shoegaze titles of the year (along with the aforementioned Asobi Seksu, among others).

Daylight's For The Birds -- "To No One" -- Trouble Everywhere
Daylight's For The Birds -- "Worlds Away" -- Trouble Everywhere
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Daylight's For The Birds: InterWeb | MySpace | YouTube | Flickr


4. Fields -- 7 From The Village -- Black Lab

>> What It Is: Acoustic pop that laces together seemingly ancient British psych folk with modern trappings like hot female Northern European synth players.

>> Why We Don't Think People Were Listening: There are dozens of hits at Hype Machine, and many of the bigger blogs endorsed the band. But although the coverage was there, we can't help but feel that the band deserves greater kudos for 7 From The Fields. Reviewed at Pitchfork, but it wasn't a markedly positive review.

>> Why You Should Hear It: The seven-song set showcases a sonic breadth that is surprising for a debut from such a new band. Not long after forming this quintet was the subject of a pretty heated bidding war, and it is easy to hear why on this EP. And while the dark arboreal folk leanings are compelling, the band can clearly write big winning indie pop such as "Brittlesticks." Read our full review here.

Fields -- "Brittlesticks" -- 7 From The Village
Fields -- "Song For The Fields" -- 7 From The Village
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Fields: InterWeb | MySpace | YouTube | Flickr


5. Haywood -- As Long As There Is Track I Will Not Go Back -- Unreleased

>> What It Is: Unreleased posthumous tour de force is one of a series of tour de forces. Haywood was the biggest secret of the late '90s, crafting intricate vignettes about different ways of living with a broken heart ("Take An Inventory," "My Self-Empowerment Song"). Not reviewed at Pitchfork, or anywhere. This record doesn't exist. Yet.

>> Why We Don't Think People Were Listening: While it is roundly excellent, this record also makes the list for a very literal reason. It was supposed to be released this year, but never was. One track was issued on Music.For-Robots v. 1 and made available for download at MySpace, and as a result that one song registered a single hit on Hype Machine in 2006.

>> Why You Should Hear It: As Long As There Is Track... places songwriter Ted Pauly's familiar sentiments in the wider context of an unexpected adult life and changes in attitudes and latitudes. Add in more-detailed, and in one case exploded, pop compositions and you have what is song for song the most interesting Haywood record.

Haywood -- "A Pair Of Tragic Paper Kites" -- As Long As There Is Track I Will Not Go Back
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Haywood: InterWeb | MySpace | YouTube | Flickr


6. Meneguar -- I was A Born At Night (Reissue) -- Troubleman Unlimited

>> What It Is: Heart-on-sleeve and angry compositions from the only band in America that we think really earns Archers Of Loaf comparisons, even though we may be the only ones to make them. And the Archers are just one facet of this act's game, which also draws from near-to-the-street indie punk vibes too.

>> Why We Don't Think People Were Listening: Because you idiots just won't LISTEN!! Seriously, we've been ranting about this band since we first heard "The Temp" more than a year-and-a-half ago. Only six hits for the band at Hype Machine. It must be some sort of vast right-wing conspiracy. Somewhat positive review in Pitchfork, but a relatively low rating.

>> Why You Should Hear It: Did you really think we'd get through this list without mentioning I Was Born At Night? Troubleman Unlimited's reissue makes it eligible for consideration, and since this band seems criminally under-appreciated, we use this opportunity to berate the wider indie kid population for not jocking these guys 24/7 as we do. Read our full review here.

Meneguar -- "The Temp" -- I Was Born At Night
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Meneguar: InterWeb | MySpace | YouTube | Flickr


7. Okay Paddy -- The Cactus Has A Point -- Prison Jazz

>> What It Is: Earlier this year we described this band as a cross between Weezment and Paver and we think that is still apt (KoomDogg mentioned Sloan as another point of reference) and doesn't overstate the serious pop skills wielded by Mike Quinn and company.

>> Why We Don't Think People Were Listening: Only two hits this year for songs from this album. "The Waive," a hot number from the band's very good Hunk EP, also got one hit for 2006 and another for the prior year. No review at Pitchfork.

>> Why You Should Hear It: This record is the reason we decided to make this list again this year. Just amazing songwriting and lyrics. The tune "Gas Money" in particular gracefully equates questions about how to spend all the gas money with the kicker, "all the feelings you'll waste on me." It also works in a mention of a hoagie, which is just one example of the curious smarts on this record. Read our full review here.

Okay Paddy -- "Oo-man, la-world" -- The Cactus Has A Point
Okay Paddy -- "Furrier" -- The Cactus Has A Point
[right click and save as]

Okay Paddy: InterWeb | MySpace | YouTube | Flickr


8. Up Up Down Down Left Right Left Right B A Start -- Girls Names EP -- Gradwell House

>> What It Is: Intricate and powerful post-emo from a group that has mostly stopped touring and gave this most recent set of tunes away for free on the InterWeb.

>> Why We Don't Think People Were Listening: Only 11 hits on Hype Machine, and six of those come from the once great MP3 blog Two And 1/2 Lbs. of Bacon. No review on Pitchfork.

>> Why You Should Hear It: Songs full of yearning with big dynamics and memorable melodies. It's the full package. Check out the YouTube clip below. Earlier this year the band also posted this awesome film short capturing the band recording its live set in the studio for posterity. If the featurette doesn't sell you on the band, nothing will. Except for maybe the MP3s below. Or the YouTube clip.

UUDDLRLRBAS -- "Janet Bateman" -- Girls Names EP
UUDDLRLRBAS -- "Melanie Flury" -- Girls Names EP
[right click and save as]

Two more tunes here.

Up Up Down Down Left Right Left Right B A Start: InterWeb | MySpace | YouTube | Flickr

Our work here is done. See you in 2007.


December 19, 2006

Today's Hotness:, Matador, Bob Mould

>> We've had a drink or two too many out with our boss earlier tonight to finish it, but you can expect our year-end album list Wednesday or Thursday night before we shut down clicky clicky for the rest of the year.

>> Whoah, has anyone noticed the (presumably) new functionality at where if there is a (presumably) free and legal MP3 available for a song in your recently played list, it links to it? Wild. Genius. Anybody looking at our profile right now is able to get their grubby mitts on two quality Okkervil River MP3s. Of course, by the time you have read this we will have synched our IPod once more -- who knows what free rock awaits you now? And wait, if you go here, there is free indie rock galore. Crazy! is really raising its game lately.

>> Matador says bye-bye to Insound here. Maybe those pre-orders will actually start arriving on time now...

>> We think this means you can expect to see Bob Mould on "The Henry Rollins Show" sometime soon.


December 18, 2006

Today's Hotness: Half-Cocked DVD, Evangelicals, Nitzer Ebb

Half-Cocked soundtrack cover>> Whoah, we just learned that "Half-Cocked" is coming out on DVD in February. It is hard to talk about this film without first mentioning its amazing soundtrack, which features Versus, Unwound, The Grifters and hordes of other '90s luminaries. Anyway, this film screened at our small liberal arts college when it came out and all the indie fans dutifully turned out to see our favorite rockers immortalized in tasteful black and white celluloid. Honestly, we can't remember what the movie was about besides a lot of people in Louisville living together in a house and playing rock music. But just that sounds like a pretty awesome movie in and of itself. Fortunately, there's a handy synopsis online here, which reads in part:

"Shot on 16mm black and white film in 1994 in Louisville, Nashville and Chattanooga, Half-Cocked follows a group of kids who steal a van full of music equipment and pretend to be a band in order to stay on the road. The film documents the fertile southern underground rock scene in the mid 90’s. When the film was completed the filmmakers took the film on the road, showing it in rock clubs around the world from Berlin to Taipei."

Anyhoo, we're hoping a promo copy will come through the door sometime early in the new year so we can review it here, so keep your eyes open.

>> Norman, OK's resident psych-pop savants Evangelicals aim to complete a sophomore set The Evening Descends by February and release it by August, according to a MySpace bulletin from the band. The trio describes The Evening Descends as a "night record," which we guess makes sense, what with the title. Tunes expected to make the final cut include "Skeleton Man," "Midnight Vignette" and "Paperback Suicide." Evangelicals expect the new record will also see vinyl release. No word yet on which label is releasing the platter, but we'd guess Misra knows a great act when they hear one and will continue its relationship with the band. We saw Evangelicals play an invigorating set last month, and our review is here.

>> The reunions keep coming. Apparently notable industrial practitioners Nitzer Ebb have reformed. The trio aims to extend the relative success of a recent hits collection Body Of Work 1984-1997 by issuing two new remixes of their standout track "Control I'm Here." More details at this link.


December 17, 2006

That Was The Show That Was: The Lemonheads

As The Lemonheads are one of our all-time favorite bands, it's surprising that we've never seen the act live. And we have to admit we were prepared to be disappointed by mastermind Evan Dando and his current henchmen before we saw the band close its current tour at Boston's Avalon nightclub last night. Perhaps we'd listened to the 1990 Strat's Rat bootleg a few too many times, as we harbored fears that we were going to be in for a sloppy set with unfinished songs, silly covers and air-headed banter. And the botched opening of the show last night, with Dando aborting the propulsive canter of "Black Gown" to switch from Springsteen Telecaster to white SG, made our stomach sink a little. But our fears were unfounded, as Dando et al. blasted through dozens of songs in 90 minutes ending with the hyperkinetic title track to Hate Your Friends right at 10PM, when the club dictates that rockers clear out to make room for the usual late night discotheque crowd.

Dando took the stage in a boxy, green Army surplus coat tightly buttoned all the way up around his neck, a quirky look for a guy that pretty much defined quirk for the so-called Alternative Nation of the early '90s. More quirk: at one point the 39-year-old hometown boy bantered between songs "let's go Sox in '97!" before realizing that an entire decade had passed since that year. Later, introducing the rollicking acoustic segment of the show, Dando excused the digression by saying "It's Sunday night, so..." Of course, it was Saturday night. But those slip-ups are all part and parcel of Dando's buzzy charm. That in tandem with his storied good looks, still intact even after years lost to drug abuse in the later '90s, probably accounted for the notable amount of youngish women in the crowd -- certainly the most women we've seen at an indie rock show in years.

The set was divided into three chunks, two full-band cookies surrounding a 30-minute creamy center of Dando playing solo with a battered acoustic guitar. Highlights of the set unsurprisingly included the bigger Lemonhead hits: the band's energy level noticeably amplified when playing radio-respected cuts including "If I Could Talk I'd Tell You," "It's A Shame About Ray," "Down About It" and "No Backbone." The latter cut was notable because it was one of only several played from this year's The Lemonheads, Dando's first release under that moniker in a decade. While the material from the latest platter received sort of short shrift, otherwise no one record from the band's last 15 years was favored over another. Last night's show, which we attended thanks to the good folks over at Vagrant, was truly a hit parade. The gratified audience showed its appreciation by singing along and dancing all night, both occurring an irritatingly short distance from your humble reporter.

As longtime readers know, our Lemonheads fandom skewers disproportionately to the earlier records Hate Your Friends, Lick, Creator and Lovey. The superficial rap about The Lemonheads is that the band gained the majority of their following with two well-chosen covers ("Luka" and "Mrs. Robinson," the latter of which was sung last night by an odd pairing of men drafted from the audience), and we're sort of chagrined to admit that in our case this is sort of true. When we first spotted a kid on our school bus wearing a Hate Your Friends shirt we found the title shocking and presumed the music would be beyond grating. But when we saw The Lemonheads' video for "Luka" we were sucked in immediately, and the band has been among our five favorites (Dinosaur Jr., Lilys, Lemonheads, Haywood, Superchunk) ever since.

We were holding out hope to hear some of those old songs last night, and Dando didn't disappoint, offering an acoustic version of "Stove" and the set closer "Hate Your Friends." We would have eaten ours and Ms. Clicky Clicky's empty plastic beer cups if we had been treated to "Year Of The Cat" or "Paint," but we certainly would have enjoyed it. While we're talking about the acoustic set, another highlight was Dando's cover of Noise Addict's "I Wish I Was Him," a song written about Dando by Australian (then-)teen phenom Ben Lee some 11 years ago or so. Another surprise was the weighty version of "Style" that opened the second electric portion of the show -- we enjoyed it but it isn't the sort of Lemonheads tune we expected to survive in set lists some 12 or 13 years on. The full Boston set list is at the bottom of this post. The Lemonheads won't be off the road for long, as another leg of the tour kicks of at the end of January and run through much of February. Full dates are below the set list.

If there was a disappointing aspect to the show, it was the fact that Dando's admitted drug abuse of the last decade and perhaps just the march of time has crimped Dando's vocal range. The high vocal lines of "It's A Shame About Ray" and "If I Could Talk I'd Tell You" were veered around, and to our ears it sounded like Dando had capoed his acoustic take on "Into Your Arms" into a more easily sung key. As both left-handed bassist Vess Ruhtenberg and drummer Devon Ashley ably delivered harmonies elsewhere throughout the night we would have liked to have seen them sing into the breech, as it were.

As rock solid as the mercenary rhythm section of Ruhtenberg and Ashley was, at times it lapsed into robotic delivery of the beats and low end. Considering Dando's groove can waver outside the lines, this might have been a musically defensive move on their part. Even so, Dando's sidemen acquitted themselves marvelously, plying the right harmonies and powering some varied dynamics into Dando's simple but amazingly catchy compositions. Word on the EvanDando.Co.UK forum is that Vess and Devon will be playing on a planned new Lemonheads record.

EvanDando.Co.UK forum member Logan put up several clips on the YouTube here, and one of these clips is a bit of "Hate Your Friends" posted atop this item. We forgot to put the memory card in our digital camera before we got to the venue last night, so we've no picture of our own to put up there. We'll update this review with a picture from Flickr once a good one shows up we can obtain permission to use.

The Lemonheads: InterWeb | MySpace | Flickr | YouTube

>> Set List (thanks to EvanDando.Co.UK poster SparkyHorse for keeping track):

Black Gown
Down About It
Turnpike Down
Bit Part
It's A Shame About Ray
Ride With Me
Baby's Home
It's About Time
No Backbone
My Drug Buddy
Let's Just Laugh
Great Big No

Being Around
Frying Pan
I Wish I Was Him
The Outdoor Type
Favorite T
Into Your Arms

Mrs. Robinson
If I Could Talk I'd Tell You
I Just Can't Take It Anymore
Hannah & Gabi
Big Gay Heart
Hate Your Friends

>> Upcoming 2007 Tour Dates:

01.25 -- Carrboro, NC -- Cat's Cradle
01.26 -- Charleston, SC -- The Music Farm
01.27 -- Athens, GA -- 40 Watt Club
01.28 -- Charlotte, NC -- Amo's Southend
01.30 -- Jacksonville, FL -- Jack Rabbits
01.31 -- Orlando, FL -- The Social
02.01 -- Ft. Lauderdale, FL -- Culture Room
02.02 -- St. Petersburg, FL -- State Theatre
02.03 -- Tallahassee, FL -- The Beta Bar
02.05 -- Birmingham, AL -- Zydeco
02.06 -- New Orleans, LA -- House Of Blues
02.08 -- Houston, TX -- Scout Bar
02.09 -- Austin, TX -- Emo's Alternative Lounging
02.10 -- Dallas, TX -- Palladium Ballroom
02.13 -- Memphis, TN -- Young Ave. Deli
02.14 -- Nashville, TN -- Exit/In
02.15 -- Maryland Heights, MO -- Harrah's Casino
02.16 -- Indianpolis, IN -- The Vogue
02.17 -- Milwaukee, WI -- Shank Hall
02.19 -- State College, PA -- Lulu's
02.20 -- Millvale, PA -- Mr. Smalls
02.21 -- Baltimore, MD -- Ottobar
02.23 -- Brooklyn, NY -- Southpaw
02.24 -- Hoboken, NJ -- Maxwell's

>> For The Records reviews The Lemonheads' 12.12 performance in Toronto here.

>> Wow, you read all the way to the bottom! Here's an MP3 of "No Backbone" from The Lemonheads recent self-titled release.

The Lemonheads -- "No Backbone" -- The Lemonheads
[right click and save as]


December 13, 2006

Today's Hotness: Bloc Party, CitySlang, Ryuichi Sakamoto/Alva Noto

Bloc Party -- A Weekend In The City>> Angular post-punkers Bloc Party, whose hotly anticipated and recently leaked sophomore set A Weekend In The City will be released next month, has initiated a video podcast series to promote the title. The first of a half-dozen episodes allegedly shows the band working on the record at a studio in Dublin. We're downloading the thing now, so we can't say what else happens. But an email from the band suggests future episodes will show the band finish the record and tour, and along the way new tracks will be debuted on the 'cast. Curiously, the video podcast is "brought to you by icast" -- ICast to us is a local company that flamed out during the dot-com boom after being acquired by CMGI, a holding company which itself sort of flamed out after acquiring the naming rights to the stadium where the local NFL franchise plays. Maybe "icast" means something different in British? Anyway, you can subscribe to it here. If all that sounds like a lot of work, you can just go to here and watch the making of the band's recently issued video for the tune "The Prayer."

>> Notable European label CitySlang has finally launched its own ecommerce operation, SlangStore. The label states it sells vinyl, MP3s and DVDs via the operation, and even promises sales of rarities, limited edition, tour-only and out-of-print titles. And they take PayPal. Sweet. Hopefully Santa saw that new Notwist DVD on our list.

>> Speaking of commerce, the latest missive from Warp alerts us to the existence of some things we did not know existed. First, there is a DVD of Alva Noto and Ryuichi Sakamoto performing their genius minimalist electronic set from 2005 Insen. Insen Live, as the DVD is called, includes a performance from 2006 at the Sonar Festival in Barcelona. The DVD is in Dolby 5.1 sound, features unreleases tracks "Xerox" and "Barco," and touts a laser-engraved cardboard package that we're sure is dreamy. Hey Santa, pick us up one of these, too. Also on sale at Warp is Fennesz' Endless Summer Definitive Edition, a remixed and expanded version of Fennesz's star-making electronic masterpiece originally released in 2001 on Mego. Bonus tracks include "Badminton Girl," which was previously only available on a split 12" released in 2001, and a previously unreleased track "Endless."


December 12, 2006

From The Admin Cubicle: Slackin'

Our apologies for the relative paucity of posts. We spent the better part of an hour tonight explaining to Clicky Clicky Mom how to attach pictures to an email over the phone, eating up some real primo bloggamafying time. We'll get back on the stick, promise. In the meantime it is worth noting that we'll be offline for most of the last 10 days of the year as we will be traveling throughout the Northeast for the various year-end holidays. We have had a re-design in the works and we're hoping to unveil it Jan. 1, so there, now you've something to look forward to. OK. More and better bloggage tomorrow.


December 11, 2006

Today's Hotness: Morr Music, Joy Division, Meneguar

MOrr Music>> Germany's (and Thomas Morr's) Morr Music is the latest label we've become aware of to stream its music for free at Currently Morr has posted here about 10 records or so, including Electric President's excellent self-titled set along with records from classic Morr artists Ms. John Soda and Tied And Tickled Trio. The label has pretty much had the market cornered on amazing electropop since releasing Lali Puna's Tridecoder in 1999 (and perhaps longer, but that was the first we heard of it, after a fortuitous recommendation at Darla). Earlier this fall we noted here that Labrador was promoting a Mary Onettes single by streaming it for free at In unrelated Morr Music news, soothing British electronic duo Isan recently scored a film entitled "Greetings From Earth." You can watch the film (and presumably hear the music) by following this link to its logical conclusion. Isan released its most recent full length Plans Drawn In Pencil on Morr early in 2006. Incidentally, Morr also put out Lali Puna's excellent Scary World Theory, from which the MP3 below is taken. Highly recommended.

Whoah! We just checked into the Lali Puna web site and it turns out lead singer Valerie Trebeljahr and her partner/bandmate/Notwist genius Markus Acher just had a baby girl named Noriko last month. Our congrats to the lucky couple. And congrats to all of us, because the site also notes the The Notwist are recording new material. The band all but dropped off the face of the Earth after touring their 2002 masterpiece Neon Golden to death. The band has a web cam or a very long animated .gif going at its web site that shows the band in the studio with the sound of bird calls looping. Wild.

Lali Puna -- "Nin-Com-Poop" -- Scary World Theory
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>> There are a couple cameraphone videos an extra on the set of the forthcoming Joy Division biopic shot of the actors portraying the band cutting loose and playing a couple songs for the extras. Here's a clip of the end of "Transmission" and the beginning of "Leaders Of Men." And here's a clip of the "band" performing part of "Digital." According to the film Control is still in post-production, and no release date has been set. The movie's official web site states it is coming in 2007, so keep your fingers crossed.

>> Clicky Clicky fave feel-bad indie rockers Meneguar last week reported at its old web site/new URL that it is currently mixing a new record. As usual, stay tuned here for coverage of even the most miniscule moves by the band, since we are totally obsessed.


December 9, 2006

Today's Hotness: The Beatings, Bob Mould, Modest Mouse

The Beatings>> Clicky Clicky's most neglected band The Beatings, whose 2006 record we enjoy greatly but who we can't seem to actually get out of the house to see play a show, was recently featured on the Band In Boston podcast. The band delivers eight tunes, including a pretty soulful version of "Upstate Flashbacks." The local act performs semi-acoustic and with an organist sitting in for bassist Erin Dalbec, giving the proceedings an unusually rootsy feel. Typically The Beatings bring more of a Mission Of Burma-influenced, in-your-face assault (in fact the band is interviewed in the Burma documentary we reviewed here last week), and to prove it we're pointing to an MP3 below. And you can snatch down the MP3 or subscribe to the podcast here. We reviewed The Beatings' Holding On To Hand Grenades here at the beginning of the year.

The Beatings -- "Feel Good Ending" -- Holding On To Hand Grenades
[right click and save as]

>> In a move reminiscent of the bizarro-world occurrence of Superchunk opening for relative youngsters The Get Up Kids several years ago (described by Superchunk's Jon Wurster here), Bob Mould reports here that the Bob Mould Band will support Clap Your Hands Say Yeah!! for a New Year's Eve show in New York City. In case you've been under a rock for the last week, The Clap announced details about its sophomore set and posted two new MP3s. You can find them everywhere, so there's no need for us to point to them here.

>> So yeah, remember when that Modest Mouse record was sposed to come out on the 19th of this month? Word on the Filter blog here is it will be more like March. This Modest Mouse Wikipedia entry cites the official Modest Mouse site as stating the album has been postponed until "early next year." We're sure the delay means the record will leak in three, two, one...


December 6, 2006

Tell The Miss Alans That They Are The Only One [MP3]

The Miss Alans -- LedgerA funny thing about mix tape culture is the strong associations drilled into your mind about how two songs just must go together because you've heard them that way on a cassette that you played to death. It's the sort of thing that we suspect happens less and less as we all increasingly interact with music digitally, and not in the linear, Side A/Side B world of cassettes and vinyl. Anyway, last week as we were getting blown away by that live Texas Is The Reason material we posted, it triggered a memory of a song from a long lost mix tape. The memory was of an act whose name had the word "Miss" in it (but wasn't erstwhile Northampton, Mass. act Miss Read), sounded like The Stone Roses, and put out a 10" record in 1995 or 1996. Stumped as to the band's identity and with only a melody and snippets of lyrics to go on, we drafted an email to our former college radio cohorts. And as we expected, as soon as we pressed send on the email the name of the band popped right into our head. Never fails.

The Miss Alans, according to their Trouser Press entry here, were formed at Fresno State University in California and owed a great debt to R.E.M. (we still contend they sound like The Stone Roses without John Squire). We were only familiar with The Miss Alans' Big Sun 10" released on Mach in 1995, but after the band dropped off our radar it re-released most if not all of that EP on the 1996 full length Ledger. Ledger, incidentally, was issued on once and future Gang Of Four and Intel man Dave Allen's World Domination label, which also released much if not all of the catalog of under-rated Philly indie rawkers Latimer around the same time. Anyway, after the name "The Miss Alans" popped into our head we did all the research that resulted in this entry, and we also ordered a used copy of Ledger for *a cent* plus shipping off the Internet. The set is really pretty good, although the high points are almost solely the cuts from the Big Sun EP, at least at first listen.

Anyway, here is an MP3 of the song that started us down this line of inquiry in the first place. And to bring the item full circle, we are also posting an MP3 of the song that in our mind will always be inextricably related to "Big Sun" because of their being adjacent to one another on the mix tape referenced above: Boys Life's "Two Wheeled Train," from the amazing and out of print Christie Front Drive/Boys Life split 10" issued by Crank! in 1996 or so. "Two Wheeled Train" is a capital R Rocker, and for months and months after the record came out we would scream along in the car to the line "WITH THE RADIO OOOOOOONNN, YOU MAKE THE WHEEEEEEELS TUUUUUURRNNN."

The Miss Alans -- "Big Sun" -- Ledger
[just click]
[buy Miss Alans stuff from Music Stack here]

The Miss Alans: InterWeb | MySpace | YouTube | Flickr

Boys Life -- "Two Wheeled Train" -- Christie Front Drive/Boys Life Split 10"
[just click]
[buy Boys Life stuff from Crank! A Record Company here]

Boys Life: InterWeb | MySpace | YouTube | Flickr


December 5, 2006

Review: Not A Photograph | The Mission Of Burma Story [DVD]

Not A Photograph: The Mission Of Burma Story"Imagine if you could go back to something that was totally amazing 20 years ago and basically, it's not the same culturally, the world is completely different, but that thing is pretty much where you left it... I cannot think of too many opportunities in life where that happens," enthuses Fenway Records head and former Geffen A&R guy Mark Kates toward the end of "Not A Photograph," the Mission of Burma documentary issued late last month on DVD by MVD. That sense of awe and wonder regarding the reanimation of noise rock legends Burma several years ago permeates the indie star-studded film and giddily carries it aloft for most of the movie's 70-odd minutes.

If there is a problem with "Not A Photograph," it is that (through no fault of the filmmakers) there is no clean arc to the Mission Of Burma tale, and the film's opening and closing credits bookend what is an increasingly incomplete segment of the story. Mirroring somewhat the manner in which the band broke up too soon in its career (to soon for fans, anyway), the documentary stops short of portraying the band's protracted success recording and touring following the reunion shows (to whit, earlier this year Burma birthed its second post-posthumous set The Obliterati to critical raves, and the band has just announced several January shows). The film is hampered by its boundaries, featuring interviews that underscore the uncertainty of the future of a band that has since carpe diem'd with increasing aplomb. And so "Not A Photograph" must grapple with the question of how do you film a documentary about some reunion shows when in fact the story of Mission Of Burma in this decade is one of resumption. It's the narrative difference between raising a man from the dead and reanimating a caveman (well, three cavemen) from a glacier.

Even so, the film is an enjoyable document of a time of unbridled excitement within and about the band, capturing in one place vintage and reunion performances and never-before-seen rehearsals. The film's buoyancy has an inverse: toward the end of the film drummer Peter Prescott talks about how the members are uncomfortable with the critical and public adoration, "Deep down inside we feel like we don't deserve it." Mr. Prescott also confesses to being frustrated at the thought of returning to the relative anonymity of his other musical pursuits once the Burma reunion subsides. Fortunately for him and all of us, the juggernaut continues to roll.

"Not A Photograph" comes with copious bonus clips of the band in its early incarnation, live clips from various reunion shows and footage of the band tracking songs in the studio for its 2004 set onOFFon. The trailer to the documentary is embedded below, and here is a link to the original version of the trailer. Finally here is an MP3 and a link toward a second MP3 from Burma's most recent record.

Mission Of Burma -- "2wice" -- The Obliterati
[right click and save as]
Mission Of Burma -- "Donna Sumeria" -- The Obliterati
[Get it at the Matador MP3 page]

[Buy "Not A Photograph" here]

Mission Of Burma: InterWeb | MySpace | YouTube | Flickr

January Tour Dates:

01/12 -- The Double Door -- Chicago, IL
01/13 -- E.A.R.L. -- Atlanta, GA
01/19 -- Irving Plaza -- New York, NY
01/20 -- The Paradise -- Boston, MA


Today's Hotness: The Cure, Logh, The Hold Steady, Interpol

The Cure -- Festival 2005>> This one snuck up on us: veteran alternarockers The Cure today released a DVD called "Festival 2005" that captures the band performing live at, you guessed it, a handful of festivals last year. You may recall that for a short time in 2005 the band was performing as a trio, which in our opinion was the most exciting thing the band had done since 1992. Well, "Festival 2005" features The Cure as a quartet comprised of Robert Smith, Simon Gallup, Jason Cooper and the recently returned-to-the-fold Cure veteran Porl Thompson. The 155-minute DVD includes 30 songs, and you can watch the band tear through a raunchtastic version "Never Enough" at this link. In related news, The Cure has just disclosed it will headline the Ultra Music Festival in March. More details here and here.

>> Superlative Swedish indie mopers Logh have completed their forthcoming record and posted a new song sample to get us jazzed. The sample is for a tune called "Thieves In The Palace" and it is distinctly more rocking than the previously posted samples we discussed last month here. Anyway, the new record (title not public yet) will be released in March on Bad Taste records and it will have ten tracks. You can see the titles of the songs that made the cut at the Logh web site here, where you will also find the song samples in the "Audio" section.

>> The degree to which Pfork jocks The Hold Steady verges on embarassing, but even so the interview they are running today with band fronter Craig Finn is very good, and chock full of interesting information. Here are some things we didn't know: The Hold Steady's triumphant Separation Sunday only sold 20,0000 copies and this year's Boys And Girls In America sold that amount in three weeks; Finn works at digital music distributor The Orchard; he has never met his idol Paul Westerberg (of The Replacements). There is also discussion of Finn's writing process (with the priceless quote "...there's never a shortage of material. If we needed to write a song, we could probably go do it right now."), a mystery novel he has been pondering and working with Soul Asylum singer Dave Pirner (who sang the male part on "Chillout Tent," a song which, personally, we kind of abhor). Anyway, it is a very good interview. Read the whole thing here.

>> Pun Canoes reports here that Interpol has begun recording its third record. The band recently signed to Capitol Records, a label that has spent a fair amount of energy snapping up big indie acts The Decemberists and Lily Allen.


December 4, 2006

Year-End Wrap Party: Clicky Clicky's Favorite Tracks Of 2006

The Hold Steady -- Live At The Middle East, October 30, 2006As with any survey, it is the parameters that determine the final product. And so with year-end lists the content is a function of certain limitations. Which is one way of explaining why our list of favorite songs released in 2006 could actually be two lists (but isn't, because, you know, like, who cares, right?), and is tempered with some subjectivity. So the obvious guidelines: the song had to be initially released this year. As such, even though Meneguar's ass-kicking triumph I Was Born At Night was reissued by Troubleman this year, its original release in 2005 disqualifies the remixed version of "The Temp" from making this list. Also, albums that were supposed to be released this year but weren't don't make the list. Which means that although Haywood's "Far Rockaway" and "Your Bag" would technically make our top 10 most-played cuts of the year, the band never actually released their rock-solid posthumous As Long As There Is Track, I will Not Go Back this year. Not on the list. Finally, to make our list more varied, we include only one song from each charting act. Which means that even though Lilys' "Black Carpet Magic" and "With Candy" were near the top, we include only the former.

And so, with caveats voiced, we present to you our favorite tracks of 2006, as determined by overall number of plays this year in our ITunes. But there is one more thing. It should be noted that the relative rank of these songs tells a bit more of a story than you might think. Take for example tracks one and 10: The Hold Steady topped our list despite releasing their record just this fall, while Lilys' "Black Carpet Magic," from a record we received here at HQ in late December of 2005, just squeaks in under the wire. What does that mean? It means that Craig Finn and crew only had a few months to rack up the thirty-something plays that placed it atop this list, whereas Mr. Heasley had the whole of 2006 to garner a still impressive play count. Yes, we played the crap out of The Hold Steady tune. Finally, just a note about a top albums list for the year: we're still on the fence about doing one, but we are leaning towards doing it if only as a means of further emphasizing records we really enjoyed this year that we think got short shrift from the wider blogosphere. Anyhoo, here's the list, with MP3 links to boot -- so get ready to right click and save as.

1. The Hold Steady -- "Chips Ahoy!" [MP3] -- Boys And Girls In America
2. Human Television -- "In Front Of The House" [MP3] -- Look At Who You're Talking To
3. Okay Paddy -- "Fraktur" [Live version MP3] -- The Cactus Has A Point
4. The Lemonheads -- "No Backbone" [MP3] -- The Lemonheads
5. Asobi Seksu -- "New Years" [MP3] -- Citrus
6. The Mobius Band -- "A Hint Of Blood (Demo)" [MP3] -- Website Download
7. Fields -- "Brittlesticks" [MP3] -- 7 From The Village
8. Lilys -- "Black Carpet Magic" [stream] -- Everything Wrong Is Imaginary
9. Snowden -- "Anti Anti" [MP3] -- Anti Anti
10. Destroyer -- "European Oils"[stream] -- Your Blood


December 3, 2006

Today's Hotness: Pop Ambient 2007, TGTBTQ, The Texas Governor

Pop Ambient 2007>> Essential read Brainwashed here alerts us to two new releases for the coming week that we failed to include in our final Rack And Opinion of the year last week, so we acknowledge them here. First, superlative German techno label Kompakt releases Pop Ambient 2007, the annual installment of its ambient electronic music compilation series. We have the 2005 issue (and reviewed it here for Junkmedia) and it is incredibly dreamy. The big draw for the 2007 set (according to the marketing verbiage) is the rare, rare, rare Gas cut "Nach 1912," which has not been released on CD previously. You can stream a sample of it and the rest of the compiled tracks at Kompakt's site here. A second release of note this week that Brainwashed hipped us to is Deadbeat's 12" Version Immersion, song samples and the details of which you can check out here at ~scape. We reviewed Deadbeat's Something Borrowed, Something Blue for Junkmedia here in 2004.

>> We sat on the link to the forthcoming second The Good, The Bad And The Queen single "Kingdom Of Doom" until this morning when we could give it appropriate attention with a cup of coffee and the headphones. And we think it is strong enough to share up, for those of you who didn't hear it at Stereofork and Pitchgum or whoever it was that posted the track earlier this week. We didn't think that much of the song until the smudged guitar drops in right ahead of the chorus, but we were sold right then and there. Hear it for yourself below. The Good, The Bad And The Queen is led by former Blur/Gorillaz dude Damon Albarn and includes Clash bassist Paul Simonon among others. The band's debut will be released late next month.

>> We didn't intend to write about the Texas Governor set we took in last night before we went, thinking it would be nice to see something without feeling the need to analyze it, but a couple things stuck out. First, sometime in the fifteen months or so since we saw the act last they dropped their bass player and band leader David Goolkasian, former bassist for the apparently resuscitated The Elevator Drops, has switched over from second guitar to bass, cutting the quintet to a quartet. Secondly, perhaps as an even clearer nod toward the return of The Elevator Drops, The Texas Governor included the former band's "Be A Lemonhead" in its Saturday set. Finally, intrepid fan H-Dawg From Accounts Receivable posed a question to Mr. Goolkasian after the set regarding the possibility of an Elevator Drops tour next year, and the bassist said no plans were made as of yet. The Elevator Drops will release a fourth record, OK Commuter, Feb 14, 2007.


December 2, 2006

YouTube Rodeo: Texas Is The Reason, Armalite, Meneguar

>> Watch all-too-briefly reunited emo legends Texas Is The Reason completely slay at their reunion gig last weekend. We're not sure about the fashion choice with the scarf on that one guitarist, but the Townshendian windmills are awesome. At the clip atop this item the band runs through the first half of "Back And To The Left," from Texas Is The Reason's sole full-length release, 1996's Do You Know Who You Are. Here's a longer clip of the same song with awful, almost unlistenable audio. Egads, that's some capital "R" Rock music. We hope the band shot the show for a DVD. Anyway, here's an MP3 of "Back And To The Left" in the event you want to try to synch the audio with the video with the shoddy audio linked supra.

Texas Is The Reason -- "Back And To The Left" -- Do You Know Who You Are
[just click / buy Texas Is The Reason stuff from Revelation Records here]

>> Given how rarely the band performs because of various schedule conflicts and health problems, we think it is more than worth pointing to this video of pop-punk supergroup Armalite's October performance in Gainesville, Fla. at Fest V. The clip actually has pretty great audio and video, but because it is shot from the side of the stage instead of the front (where the PA likely delivered the vocals fairly well), there are virtually no vocals to be heard. The band, which features Atom Goren of Atom And His Package/Fracture fame and Dan Yemin of Lifetime/Kid Dynamite fame, performs two songs in this video from Armalite's 2006 self-titled tour de rock. We believe the tunes are "Husker Dave" and "Entitled." Look for Armalite's record on our list of favorite discs of 2006. Hey, that sort of rhymes.

>> Yeah, we know this clip isn't on YouTube, but given the recent acquisition we think we can include it: Hit this link and watch one of the best underground band's in America play to an inexplicably small crowd (six people, maybe?). It's clicky clicky faves Meneguar playing "Kids Get Cut" at the East River Music Project for New York Noise earlier in the year. Incidentally, we always forget about Google Video, and as such we hadn't seen this clip before (although it appears it was only uploaded a few weeks back). But if you hit the link you will find a longer clip (with poorish sound quality) of the band playing several songs at American University in 2005. Definitely watch the cataclysmic one-two punch of "House Of Cats" and "Kids Get Cut," it will give you whiplash. And if you stick around for the last four minutes the band plays the triumphant anthem "The Temp," although the stream jumps around a bit and on the whole we'd say it isn't the strongest performance of the awesome song.