February 28, 2008

Clicky Clicky Hardcorner: Life's Blood's "Left Me Behind"

Life's Blood Live
[PHOTO CREDIT] So a few weeks ago we watched the seminal punk-umentary "Another State Of Mind" for a second time, and for the first time in more than a dozen years. The film -- which is surprisingly well-crafted considering the shoestring budget floating the entire proceedings -- memorializes a 35-city Youth Brigade/Social Distortion tour that transpired in 1983. The highlight of the film is where everything falls apart and Youth Brigade and Social D's Mike Ness are forced to hunker down with Ian Mackaye and Minor Threat at Dischord house for the better part of a week before throwing in the towel. Actually, the real highlight is when one of the guys demonstrates the various versions of moshing.

But as a 30-something, one thing struck us square between the eyes after watching the movie: there is a reason that straightedge hardcore, launched of course by the aforementioned Minor Threat, was not popularized by or even popular with 40-something investment bankers. That reason, of course, is youthful idealism, which surrounds the sub-genre like a moat. An argument can be made that the youthful idealism is actually naivete. But, more importantly, the context and content of straightedge hardcore was decidedly reactionary (and local, but we can explore that topic another time). Most of that reaction was manifested as anger or at least aggression targeted at one time or another at small men with big mouths, betrayal, alcohol and drug users, rivals and so forth.

But we think perhaps the most potent hardcore songs are ones that target the things that threaten the fabric of the subgenre, this aforementioned youthful idealism: change and, more specifically, maturity. It is for this reason we think one of the most affecting straightedge numbers is Life's Blood's "Left Me Behind." As an adult it is hard not to see a more universal sentiment expressed in singer Jason O'Toole's throat-shredding and surprisingly poignant recrimination: "You grew up and left me behind. You. Left. Me. Behind." According to this Wikipedia page a label called Prank Records has acquired the rights to the Life's Blood catalog and intends to re-release it. At least one member of Life's Blood went on to play with Born Against, among other acts. The Middle Aged Youth web site posted an excellent item here about Life's Blood here in 2005 -- make sure to read into the comments for a surprising amount of up-to-date information from the people that were there. The picture above was taken from the Middle Aged Youth page and used after unsuccessfully attempting to secure permission, so we hope using it is cool.

Life's Blood -- "Left Me Behind" -- Discography [Vermiform, 1993]
Life's Blood -- "Never Make A Change" -- Discography [Vermiform, 1993]
[right click and save as]
[Out of print. You're going to have to search around.]

February 27, 2008

Today's Hotness: Fields, Johnny Foreigner, The Notwist

>> Now London-based indie rock act Fields has resurfaced with news about line-up changes and a new record. Fronter Nick Peill reports via MySpace bulletin that lead guitarist Jamie Putnam has left the quintet, and a new line-up will greet fans when Fields tours to support its forthcoming sophomore set. Peill and drummer Henry Spenner shortly embark on a trip to New York, where the duo will apply "finishing touches" and mix the songs. The as-yet-untitled collection was tracked during the last few months in a bedroom studio referred to as The Woods which the band cobbled together in Peill's East London apartment. The resulting music is allegedly "less dense and more optimistic." As we liked the density, we're not sure what to think about this. Watch Fields' MySpace wigwam for demos of the new material soon. We reviewed the band's 7 From The Village EP here, and named it one of our favorite records of 2006 here. Then the band finally played Boston last May after releasing their somewhat over-polished debut Everything Last Winter, and we reviewed the show here. In case you've forgotten what all the hubbub is about, here's the band's sublime indie pop strummer "Brittlesticks."

Fields -- "Brittlesticks" -- 7 From The Village EP
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[buy Fields records from Newbury Comics right here]

>> So, remember Johnny Foreigner? Biggest band in the world right now, yeh? The Birmingham, England-based trio's forthcoming single "Our Bipolar Friends" b/w "The Houseparty Scene Is Killing You" -- which we wrote about exhaustively [1, 2, 3] last month -- will finally be issued by Best Before Records March 10 on 7" vinyl and via digital storefronts. The vinyl is limited to 1,000 copies, and 200 of them are signed. A MySpace bulletin from the band suggests pre-ordering from RecordStore.co.uk here to get your hands on a signed copy, so perhaps in our haste to pre-order last month (from HMV) we inadvertently screwed ourselves. Oh well. If you keep your fingers crossed and wish really hard US fans may be able to snag the digital version of the single at EMusic, as the band's stellar 2007 EP Arcs Across The City was sold through the site despite Johnny Foreigner having no US label deal in place. Directly following the single release Johnny Foreigner will be wowing crowds in America at the annual South By Southwest music industry confab, and we noted the specifics here last week.

>> The increasingly indispensible Notwist-Ultras blog has posted fresh information here about the still-untitled forthcoming set from Bavarian futurerock geniuses The Notwist. The band's new record will be issued in Germany on City Slang May 2, and will feature 11 tracks. You can read all the track titles at the link above, as well as some roughly translated impressions of each song as published recently by a German blogger named Walter Wacht, who was afforded the distinct pleasure of a preview listen. May is not so far off... although we don't relish the prospect of paying import prices. Which label will step up and release the set in North America? Whoever it is, we likely won't be able to wait for the deal to be worked out, so we're beginning to horde spare change now. Them Euros are 'spensive.

>> We've already written our review of standout Glaswegian trio Frightened Rabbit's forthcoming sophomore set The Midnight Organ Fight. The record is dynamite. But as the disc isn't out for another six weeks or so, we're holding off on posting it. Although we hate to keep things sitting around, so we imagine we will run it next week. In the meantime you can watch a new video for the hot track "Head Rolls Off" right here.

February 26, 2008

Reader Rewards: Get To Know Say Hi

Electropop ensemble Say Hi, the longtime brainchild of Seattle songwriter Eric Elbogen, play Boston's Great Scott club Saturday night. And to get you in the mood, we are giving away a copy of the band's recently issued fifth record The Wishes And The Glitch. Details on how to win the set are below. But first, a mea culpa: we are, as the kids say, gutted to report that our current cold/flu situation kept us home last night, which afforded us the worst possible view of Ringo Deathstarr's show at Abbey Lounge. We are sure the capital "f" Fates will punish us with reports of a legendary performance, but alas we had no choice. Our illness will also keep us from tomorrow night's Evangelicals show -- another travesty, as we were greatly impressed and rocked by Josh Jones and company when they played at TT's in 2006. We have to believe that we'll be on the mend by Saturday's Say Hi show, which we are looking forward to even more having read Can You See The Sunset From The Southside's review of the recent Say Hi performance at The Beat Room in Chicago. But enough of our yakking. We have one spare copy of The Wishes And The Glitch to give away, and we will mail it posthaste to the first person to send us an email [link at right] with the phrase "Let's Talk About Spaceships" in the subject line. We'll update this item as soon as the disc is claimed. Good luck. If you don't win, you can always stream the record at Say Hi's Virb page here. [UPDATE: Congratulations to reader Keith, who will be listening to The Wishes And The Glitch in short order].

February 24, 2008

Today's Hotness: The Diggs, Zillionaire, Julie Ocean

The Diggs
>> It is to be expected that former Mineral-fronter Chris Simpson would continue to evolve musically, and his recent, folksier indie rock act Zookeeper has its share of great moments. But for those of us who can't loosen our grips on the desperate second-wave emo sounds that Mineral proffered can take solace in the fact that similar new music is being ably churned out by Brooklyn-based indie trio The Diggs. Diggs guitarist and vocalist Timothy Lannen sings in a Simpson-esque (Enigk-esque, as well, now that we think about it) tenor over albeit denser tunes that crest and slope in majestic waves of delay pedal and snare drum. The Diggs' MySpace tent perhaps sums it up best at the "Sounds Like" bullet, where the band has inserted "Frustration and Hope." The five-year-old trio's sophomore full length ctrl-alt-del will be issued by the partly Diggs-run Sugarspun March 11.

The Diggs -- "Recovery Forever" -- ctrl-alt-del
The Diggs -- "Careen" -- ctrl-alt-del
[right click and save as]
[full-album stream -- recommended]
[pre-order ctrl-alt-del from Amazon here]

Mineral -- "Gloria" -- The Power Of Failing
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[buy Mineral records from MusicStack here]

>> The New Granada label obviously has our number, as it pitched an act to us by characterizing it as an amalgamation of '90s indie rock standouts Versus, Codeine and Seam (also Low, but we're not big Low fans -- we might have substituted Unrest if we were making the pitch ourselves). Such characterization is the sort of thing that makes us sit up and take notice, although as always we steel ourselves against possible disappointment if the billing doesn't live up to the hype. Fortunately indie rock quartet Zillionaire have the songs and the chops, and we've been thoroughly enjoying its set The Street Lights Have Been Turned Down. Zillionaire hails from Tampa, Florida, and we must admit being a little surprised, as our conception of Florida indie rock is pretty much Gainesville screamo and, well, that's it. Although we think indie pop luminaries Human Television called Florida home for a time, so perhaps we knew there was more going on. The Street Lights Have Been Turned Down was released Jan. 1. Or it was released Nov. 17. The Internet is fraught with contradictions, no? No matter. The point is you can get the record now, and if you live in Florida you should have some chances to catch the band touring this spring. Zillionaire's mid-tempo swayer "The Gardener" in particular carries the scent of Versus, and we are posting it and two additional tracks below.

Zillionaire -- "The Gardener" -- The Street Lights Have Been Turned Down
Zillionaire -- "The Occasion Of The Water Heater" -- The Street Lights Have Been Turned Down
Zillionaire -- "No Contest" -- The Street Lights Have Been Turned Down
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[buy The Street Lights Have Been Turned Down here]

>> Let's just go for the '90s trifecta today, shall we? What do you get when you combine former members of retro hardcore giants Swiz, dream poppers Velocity Girl and twee standard-bearers Glo-Worm? This is a pretty easy question: you get a new band called Julie Ocean, who first blipped on the radar last May here and here. The D.C.-based quartet will release its debut Long Gone And Nearly There on Transit Of Venus (Trolleyvox, The Shimmers) this spring. We couldn't find a hard release date anywhere online, so just go to the record store every Tuesday between now and mid-June and look for it, mmmmk? Julie Ocean (which would make for a clever billing with The Jane Anchor, no?) has posted two tracks at its MySpace yert that sound not too dissimilar from Simpatico!-era Velocity Girl's overcharged take on '60s-inflected bubblegum rock. Harness streams of "Ten Lonely Words" and "My Revenge" here.

February 20, 2008

Today's Hotness: Destroyer, Johnny Foreigner, Jakobinarina

Destroyer -- Trouble In Dreams
>> We received this week promos for two hotly anticipated records: Destroyer's Trouble In Dreams and Frightened Rabbit's The Midnight Organ Fight. We'll have reviews of those in the coming weeks, but right now we'd like to draw your attention to the most recent Destroyer promo track, "Dark Leaves Form A Thread," because it is the rockingest thing songwriter Dan Bejar has done in some time, and it is undeniably catchy. The tune is ideally situated as Trouble In Dreams' second track, although we question whether it should have opened the set, which Merge will issue March 18. It probably doesn't make sense if you consider the album as a whole, as putting "Dark Leaves Form A Thread" in the no. 1 slot might suggest to listeners that the entire record will be characterized by snare-cracking anthems with edgeless roller rink synths, searing guitar and even some occasional feedback. Sadly, this is not the case. In fact there are quite a few tracks on Trouble In Dreams with no drumming to speak of, if memory serves (we've only listened to it about three times so far). Anyway, sequencing the number in the second spot probably doesn't misrepresent the record as an uptempo rockfest, but the track is so flat-out enjoyable we would have been tempted to lead with it if we were Mr. Bejar. Which, of course, we're not. Here's the song.

Destroyer -- "Dark Leaves Form A Thread" -- Trouble In Dreams
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[pre-order Trouble In Dreams from Merge right here]

>> Speaking of exceptional independent rock music, are you hearing this?! We mean, really, where is all the chatter about the new version of Johnny Foreigner's "Salt, Pepa and Spindarella" that is blowing our head off every time we don the headphones? The lucky thousands who will attend next month's South By Southwest music festival in Austin, Texas, USA have at least two chances to see the stellar Birmingham, England-based indie rock trio. March 12 the band plays an ASCAP showcase at Dirty Dog Bar in the evening, and on the following day it plays an acoustic set as part of an afternoon jawn sponsored by XFM. Speaking of dates, Johnny Foreigner have 37 show dates posted at their MySpace hacienda right now. That is a little ridiculous -- who do they think they are, The Police?

>> Have Icelandic indie rock wunderkinds Jakobinarina broken up? We can't read Icelandic, but that seems to be the gist of this MySpace message from the band. Of course, the same MySpace page has live dates posted through the end of this week. So who knows. This Wikipedia entry for Jakobinarina reports the act will break up in March. Anybody hip to Icelandic jive who can give us a rough translation of the MySpace message linked supra should leave a comment. The Icelandic sextet -- whose members were all under between 17 and 21 -- issued its debut, First Crusade, on Caroline/Regal/12 Tonar in October. You can hear a number of tracks at the band's MySpace dojo. The writing may have been on the wall for months, as the last time we wrote about the act in mid-November was when young UK indie rockers The Video Nasties announced Jakobinarina had cancelled a tour for which The Video Nasties were to have provided support. If indeed Jakobinarina is no more, we look forward to whatever the band's songwriters concoct next. And we'll be keeping our eyes out for a cheap copy of First Crusade.

February 18, 2008

Today's Hotness: The Get Quick, Superman Revenge Squad

>> El Ted unearthed the video clip above from Philadelphia glam-rockers The Get Quick, which has heretofore eluded our attention for some six months. Perhaps the most amazing thing about the clip (given the likely early hour of the performance) is it evidences band fronter Erik Evol playing the same guitar that he has been playing for at least fifteen years; while it is hard to tell from the clip, the ax used to be cherry red. Anyway, the clip finds the quartet -- including former Kam Fong drummer Colonel Mike Boran on rhythm guitar -- running through "When I First Saw You" last August on the Philadelphia NBC affiliate's "10!" morning show, of all places. The Get Quick issued its sophomore set See You In The Crossfire last May, as we noted here. While checking out "When I First Saw You" we noticed there is another clip we hadn't seen: here is the band performing The Beatles' "She Said, She Said" at Johnny Brenda's in Philadelphia last year. All of this Get Quick rock and roll has us listening through the cuts in our personal larder of GQ material, so here's a juicy outtake from the sessions that produced the band's very nice 2005 debut How The Story Goes.

The Get Quick -- "Out Of Time" -- How The Story Goes (Outtake)
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[buy Get Quick records from Newbury Comics right here]

>> As we noted here previously, today God Is In The TV 'zine issues Superman Revenge Squad's "Idiot Food" as a free digital single. The track is backed with "The Angriest Dog In The World" and "When Everyone's Dead" and you can snatch all three songs right here. In the event you didn't heed our assessments previously, Superman Revenge Squad principal Ben Parker's prior acts Tempertwig and Nosferatu D2 were also very good and there is a lot of material from those bands freely available around the Internetses that is more than worth the time to track down.

>> Manchester, England indie rockers The Answering Machine report they are demoing material with an eye toward a summer full-length debut. Production on the planned record will begin in April or May, which suggests to us that a fall offering is much more likely. In the meantime notable Internet radio operation WOXY has apparently played fairy godmother to the quartet and is supporting in some fashion -- we'd guess financially -- the band's appearance next month at the annual South By Southwest music industry confab in Austin, Texas. Readers may recall a similar bit of help from Urban Outfitters getting Scottish indie trio Frightened Rabbit to the conference last year. Expect a WOXY session from The Answering Machine to be recorded during its week-long sojourn to SxSW.

February 17, 2008

That Was The Show That Was: Varsity Drag | Cantab Lounge

Varsity Drag, Cantab Lounge
Oh the cumulative hours -- possibly days -- we spent in our adolescence singing along to the songs of Ben Deily. Mr. Deily co-founded and co-fronted The Lemonheads with that better-known alternahunk in the mid-'80s, and Deily's heartfelt pop-punk compositions were highlights of the band's earlier, edgier catalog. Prompted by a viewing of the video for The Lemonheads' take on Suzanne Vega's "Luka" that made its way onto "120 Minutes" or "IRS's The Cutting Edge" (or whatever the only good show on MTV was called besides the old "Saturday Night Concert"), we engaged with The Lemonheads catalog and were attracted immediately to Deily's "Ever" and "Anyway." By the time we were hip to Deily's jive, however, he had already left the band and Evan Dando was about to release his exceptional major-label debut Lovey, which in our opinion is vastly superior to the breakthrough set It's A Shame About Ray (incidentally, the best Dando track, "Paint," is exiled to the relatively hard to acquire Favorite Spanish Dishes EP -- but we digress from that admitted digression).

Longtime readers will recall we were thrilled to discover Deily's most recent musical return in 2006. But for some reason we mistakenly presumed after perusing his web site that when he mentioned living in Portland, that meant Portland, Oregon, you know, where all your favorite stars of indie rock live (Malkmus, Daniel, etc.). So we didn't harbor any hopes of seeing Varsity Drag any time soon. Turns out, of course, that Deily lived in Portland, Maine, and now his advertising career has brought him back to Boston. And so it was that Varsity Drag topped a bill last night in our 'hood, so we strolled down in time to catch a volatile set from rawpowernewwavegrungerevivalists Perennials and then one from the Drag itself.

The trio opened its set with should-be-hits from its potent 2006 debut For Crying Out Loud and closed out the night with a handful of Lemonheads tunes. It was nice to hear that Deily's papery tenor can still hit all the notes, and the only downside to the rollicking set was a dodgy patch cord that dropped the sound coming from Deily's Gibson SG now and then. The surprise of the night had to be newish drummer Mike Quinn, whose effortless and fluid playing style and obvious enthusiasm was particularly infectious. When Deily led the band -- which also includes wife Lisa flanking on bass guitar -- through the Creator classic "Two Weeks In Another Town," the person with the widest smile in the room was Mr. Quinn.

We snatched the set list on our way out the door, and it is scanned and posted below. Varsity Drag has no further live dates announced, but watch the band's MySpace dojo for inevitable updates. A larger question remains: is there another Varsity Drag record in the offing? We snapped some photos during the set that you can look at here. Below we are posting an MP3 of the melodic VD anthem "Summertime," as well as Deily's early Lemonheads gem "Uhhh."

Varsity Drag -- "Summertime" -- For Crying Out Loud
The Lemonheads -- "Uhhh" -- Hate Your Friends
[right click and save as]
[buy For Crying Out Loud from the band right here]
[buy Lemonheads records from Newbury Comics here]

Varsity Drag: Internets | MySpace | YouTube | Flickr

February 16, 2008

Today's Hotness: Wendyfix, Destroyer, Woods [UPDATED]

>> As you can see from the video above, Wendyfix-amania has taken firm hold at I Am Not Afraid Of You, resulting in the YouTubalization of the extant music videos for the defunct mid-'90s indie rock trio. The clip supra is for the track "Swinging Softly" and features nice performance footage -- well, staged performance footage, but still, it's all we've got -- of the act within a concept piece (the concept of which we've never quite fully grasped). The payoff shot of the cardboard figures rotating on the turntable and their shadows stretching across the ceiling steals the show. In fact, we would have liked to have seen more of that in the clip. Once you've watched "Swinging Softly," you can hit this link to view the video for "Pillowhead." Formerly this one was only available via Yahoo's Launch.com. Given the cuts that are going on in the Yahoo Music franchise of late it was probably high time to get "Pillowhead" available on a different channel. One mystery remains: what is the alleged third Wendyfix video? We'll just have to wait and see. UPDATE: Well, we didn't have to wait long, as the RSS reader just bubbled up the final video for the tune "Ridge." Check it out here.

>> As Mr. 'Nac also noted here in his Friday Music Miscellany, a Boston (well, Boston-ish) tour stop for Destroyer has finally been set. Dan Bejar and his cohorts will play The Middle East in Cambridge April 21. And speaking of Merge acts and the Middle East, new signees Wye Oak, who we wrote about here last month, will perform at the club Friday, Feb. 22. With big shows from Ringo Deathstarr, Say Hi and Evangelicals the following week, we're not sure if we've the stamina to add a fourth to our slate, but we're strongly considering. Wye Oak's Merge debut streets April 8; Destroyer's Trouble In Dreams will be in stores next month.

>> Meneguar's creepier, folksier side-project Woods launch a rare strand of tour dates next month to support the forthcoming release of Woods Family Creeps. Woods counts among its numbers Jeremy and Christian from Meneguar, and its touring unit also includes Meneguar's Jarvis Taverniere. Woods Family Creeps will be issued by Portland, ME-based Time Lag Records, although we could not find a release date anywhere. Confirmed tour dates are listed at Woods' MySpace lean-to here. Speaking of Meneguar, a review of the FuckItTapes and Woodsist web pages reveals a listing for a forthcoming LP titled The In Hour to be released as Woodsist 013. No release date was immediately discernible for that, either.

February 13, 2008

Today's Hotness: Johnny Foreigner, Wendyfix, The Replacements

Johnny Foreigner
>> Indie rock superheroes Johnny Foreigner have revealed the title to their forthcoming full-length debut. Waited Up 'Til It Was Light will be released this spring on Best Before Records. The release will be preceded March 10 by the single "Our Bipolar Friends" b/w "The Houseparty Scene Is Killing You," as we reported here previously. If our almost wall-to-wall Johnny Foreigner coverage over the last year isn't enough to convince you, then let us speak plainly: this record will be a phenomenon. The other exciting piece of news is that the Birmingham, England-based trio has posted a track from the new set at its MySpace drive-thru here. It is called "Salt, Pepa and Spindarella," and it is a monster. Largely driven by synth pulses and boxy drumming across taut, daisy-chained verses, the rhythm hypnotizes. And then, at two minutes and six seconds... big, giant walls of face-melting guitar, a mile high and a mile wide. It is utter brilliance. Stop reading this and go listen now.

Johnny Foreigner -- "Salt, Pepa and Spindarella" [Stream] -- Waited Up 'Til It Was Light

>> The Internets sometimes make it so easy for indie rockers. Hot on the heels of our posting the band's only proper release here last week, former Haywood fronter Ted Pauly has posted the entire, roundly excellent discography of his old band Wendyfix at his blog. Those of us who were fans when Wendyfix was actually an operating band had to beg to dub the recordings from cassette to cassette, then listen to them on cassette for the years to the point of cassette degradation, at which time we had to beg for digital versions of the recordings. But now, today, all that is Wendyfix is just there for the taking, nicely collected and tied up with a bow, right here. Mr. Pauly has bestowed the title Building Microphones & Megaphones: Everything Ever, 1992-1995 upon the collection. The running order differs from the straight discographical order of the King Size Demos (which we first wrote about here three years ago, having first written about Wendyfix here four years ago), for the four or five of you out there in possession of them. On the upside, the absolutely indispensable "Pillowhead" is included in the collection. So, Wendyfix newbies, you are about to learn the simple pleasure of the buzzsaw distortion that drives the Brian McGrath-sung, now-title track "Microphones & Megaphones," the boundless bummer of "Pillowhead." These are magic times we live in. We're posting below the aforementioned title cut to maximize the possibility you'll hear that delicious distortion.

Wendyfix -- "Microphones & Megaphones" -- Building Microphones & Megaphones: Everything Ever, 1992-1995
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>> We had intended to write about the long-awaited and much anticipated Replacements reissues last night, but we suppose there was just one distraction too many. The long and the short of it is that one-time manager Peter Jesperson has helmed the reissues of the Twin-Tone material, which has been respectably expanded with rarities and which will be released by Rhino April 22. You can bet we will make the lunchtime run across the street to Newbury Comics that day. The Sire Records releases are also being expanded and are to be reissued in October. This is all very exciting, although as we quipped to the 'Noizers over email today, we had finally broken down and completed our collection of used CD versions of all the albums just last month only to discover now that the reissues are coming. Oh well. Full details are located in this Man Without Ties blog post, this Billboard piece and this Pfork item.

>> This sort of x's and o's journalism stuff still catches our eye. Pun Canoes publishes an item about a new The Clash documentary (we already own four -- how many more does the world need?) here yesterday at 9PM. This afternoon Billboard publishes an article here reporting the same thing online and claims the item is an exclusive. Weird. Billboard must not have Pun Canoes in its RSS reader.

February 12, 2008

Today's Hotness: Mobius Band, Dirty On Purpose, Neptune

Neptune -- Gong Lake
>> So we didn't have to wait until Thursday to learn cyborg rockers Mobius Band's aforementioned surprise after all. As we suspected, and as the band hinted, the surprise is recordings from Mobius Band's recent woodshedding in Western Massachusetts collected under the titled Love Will Reign Supreme EP. The EP is comprised of six covers including versions of Daft Punk's undeniable dance anthem "Digital Love," Neil Young's "Razor Love," Bob Dylan's "I'll Keep It With Mine" and Daniel Johnston's "True Love Will Find You In The End." Which is proof, in case you didn't already know, that Mobius Band are bigger music nerds than you. Love Will Reign Supreme will be available for free (and with cover art) at the band's web site on Thursday. It is unclear whether the tunes will continue to be available thereafter, so it'd be best for you to make a mental note to snatch them that day. As we noted previously, Mobius Band begins a seven-week UK-and-European tour Feb. 21 in Dublin. Since the band is kicking it old school with its choice of covers, how about some old school Mobius Band? Here is the original version of "Taxi Cab," from the band's self-released 2002 EP Two.

Mobius Band -- "Taxi Cab" -- Two
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[buy Mobius Band records from Newbury Comics here]

>> Dedicated readers may recall in December when we reported that Brooklyn shoegaze quartet Dirty On Purpose would be releasing a series of four digital singles via the irritatingly spelled rcrdlbl blog. Well, it turns out the second single is now available, and the series of singles is now being referred to as the digital-only free EP Dead Volcanoes -- although now that we look at the ID3 tag for the first rcrdlbl release, "Leaving," we see the information was there all along. The new song is called "Hard To Tell You" and you can download it here. It is surprisingly anchored by acoustic guitar and has bleepy synth tucked into its eaves. And, frankly, it doesn't approach the sublime bliss-out that is "The Audience In The Room" from Dirty On Purpose's recently issued Like Bees EP. But the folksy vibe and neatly organized layers of sound complement each other and give the song an interesting early '70s feel.

>> Finally, we'd be remiss not to mention the Neptune record release show Saturday at Great Scott in Boston, because the bill is one of the best to come around in a while. Noise-rock behemoths Neptune will be supported by the unhinged and angular rock of Helms, among others, which makes this pretty much the best show this month. A second Neptune record release spectacular will occur Sunday in Providence, RI at AS220 and the official street date for the trio's forthcoming fifth set Gong Lake is the following Tuesday, Feb. 19. As we noted here in November, the new set will be issued by Radium/Table Of The Elements as part of the two-record deal announced in August 2006. Neptune will tour for much of March to support the release of Gong Lake, and you can check out all the dates here.

February 11, 2008

Finding Diagram: Ambient Act Dissipates, New Projects Materialize

Between its web hacienda and MySpace dojo exemplary but sadly defunct abstract dreamers Diagram are giving away a motherlode of music, including all of its excellent three-song History Of The White Flag (Figure 2) EP, released in late 2005. Like many great Philadelphia acts, we first learned of Diagram via the also sadly defunct WhyMe? podcast. Our fandom for the band was rekindled upon hearing a track from their first EP, Fig. 1, bitcast as part of the latest Local Support podcast. The most-recent missive from the trio of Joe Patitucci, David Bohl and Alex Tyson at the Diagram web site indicates the band was to spend the first few months of 2006 writing and recording a new collection of songs.

As that was some time ago, we emailed Mr. Patitucci for an update and learned that the band is done and its principals have splintered into other projects. Mr. Tyson plays with the hotly tipped '70s SoCal rock-influenced act Brown Recluse Sings; Patitucci helms the very promising ambient electronic project Tadoma (link; think Boards Of Canada meets More-era Pink Floyd); and Mr. Bohl charts bleepier, more Kraftwerk-informed electronic territory with Map Of The World At Night operating out of Brooklyn. Fans of Boston's Charlene or New York's Daylight's For The Birds should make a concerted effort at collecting all of the Diagram material they can get their hands on. We'll post one track from each EP and a nice Map Of The World At Night cut below. Local fans will be interested to note that Brown Recluse Sings is slated to play PA's Lounge in Somerville, Mass. May 24.

Diagram -- "I Am Not Invincible" -- Fig. 1
Diagram -- "Surrender To Time" -- History Of The White Flag (Fig. 2)
Map Of The World At Night -- "Arp Rhodes Lullabye Rendered 2" -- MySpace download
[right click and save as]
[buy Diagram EPs, well, nowhere -- they're simply not for sale anywhere]

Diagram: Internets | MySpace | YouTube | Flickr

February 10, 2008

Review: A Weather | Cove [MP3]

A Weather -- Cove>> To quote Wikipedia, "Lovers rock is a style of reggae music noted for its romantic sound and content. The style originated in South London in the mid 1970s." But if the tag hadn't already been bestowed some 35 years ago, it would certainly be a ready characterization of the understated sounds of Portland, Ore.-based A Weather. The band's beautiful full-length debut has a persistent but slippery allure. Populated almost entirely with murmured bedroom ballads driven by brushed drums, guitar and electric piano, the set somehow succeeds in not repeating the same tricks over and over again. Team Love releases Cove March 4. It's the first big surprise of 2008.

Is there a voyeuristic attraction inherent in pretty songs delivered in hushed tones simultaneously by male and female singers? Or is there something universal -- an inverse of voyeurism, in a way -- conveyed by these intimate, poignant tracks that make them so arresting. What we are certain of is that sping-tingling moments are frequent on Cove: when the ride cymbal pulses louder and louder during "Shirley Road Shirley" as fronter Aaron Gerber and drummer Sarah Winchester desperately assure "I swear, you won't even know I'm there;" when the duo stingingly confesses during "Oh My Stars" that "sometimes it's hard thinking about how the plans we make won't happen;" when the pair utters during "Spiders, Snakes" the unfathomably sweet sentiment (for those of us of a certain age, anyway) "I want to have you again, listening to Bedhead." According to A Weather's MySpace fort the band is slated to perform six times between now and the first week of May, and we've posted the dates below (we can't imagine a full tour is not forthcoming later in the year). We previously posted the excellent tracks "Spiders, Snakes" and "Oh My Stars" here last month, so we're offering "Screw Up Your Courage" below, although it is our least favorite song on a record filled with great numbers.

A Weather -- "Screw Up Your Courage" -- Cove
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[pre-order Cove via Saddle Creek right here for shipment Feb. 19]

A Weather: Internets | MySpace | YouTube | Flickr

03/04 -- Douglas Fir Lounge -- Portland, Ore.
03/14 -- SXSW -- Austin, Texas
04/12 -- Mississippi Studios -- Portland, Ore.
05/01 -- Boone's Treasure -- Salem, Ore.
05/02 -- Grand Lodge -- Forest Grove, Ore.
05/03 -- White Eagle -- Portland, Ore.

February 9, 2008

Today's Hotness: The Hooters, Spinto Band, Songerize

The Hooters
>> Un.Be.Lievable. Philly-based '80s rockers The Hooters released a new record, Time Stand Still, this week. It looks like you can stream most of it at the band's MySpace dojo here (we didn't think we'd ever type the words "Hooters" and "MySpace" in the same sentence), which we just did. We don't hear pop hits, but the set has an easy folk-rock vibe with the expected but not overpowering religious references. There was a year back there in the '80s when the quintet was bigger than big. We distinctly remember being a kid getting driven to The Mall in the way back of a station wagon the year that the follow-up to Nervous Night was released and "Satellite" was on the radio. A pretty damn good song, and certainly much better than "Johnny B," which one of the articles linked supra contends is something of a phenomenon to this day in Germany. Anyway, a lot of our Hooters memories are tied into being a passenger in the car -- no surprise given our age at the time. Nervous Night was huge one summer during which we drove most every day to the cringe-inducingly affluent "swim club" to which our family belonged. And of course a car plays a prominent role in this video for "And We Danced," which Sony BMG refuses to let us embed for you no matter how amazing the short bridge to the song is. The Hooters' Eric Bazilian ended up moving into a house across the street from one of our girlfriends back in the day, if memory serves.

>> Delaware-proud (Debella-ware, anyone?) indie pop septet Spinto Band -- this decade's Hooters? Man, that would probably be a hell of a touring bill -- is poised to release its eighth long-player this summer. The set is titled Moonwink, and the lads will support its release with a spring tour including the obligatory dates at SXSW, which is fun to type because all the letters are adjacent to each other. Too bad Austin isn't right next to Boston -- which would be particularly awesome not only because of access to primo Tex-Mex, but also because they rhyme. But we digress. No release date or label has been disclosed for Moonwink, according to this bit in CMJ, and the information is conspicuously absent from a presser that was flaregunned Tuesday. But we recall Philebrity reporting in Jan. 2006 [here] that Spinto Band has a 700,000 pound licensing deal with Virgin UK. So don't worry, the guys aren't starving. In fact they displayed an almost absurd degree of pep when we saw them sandwiched between Johnny Foreigner and Los Campesinos! Nov. 30 [review]. Spinto Band's most recent full-length Nice And Nicely Done was released three years ago -- or, roughly 10,000 years in so-called Internetz time -- on Bar-None. Because it never gets old, here is "Oh Mandy."

Spinto Band -- "Oh Mandy" -- Nice And Nicely Done
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[buy Spinto Band records from Newbury Comics here]

>> A few words about Songerize. Is this thing brilliant or what? It is bloody drop-dead easy to use. And although it doesn't have any advanced functionality such as playlisting, that very well may be the beauty of the thing. Songerize is a pure diner jukebox with almost endless inventory -- well, endless capacity, anyway. We wanted to hear "Destroyer" by The Kinks, we typed it in and boom. Huey Lewis and The News' "Do You Believe In Love?" or Bold's "Wise Up"? Well, no dice. But The Jam's "Down In The Tube Station," voila! Sure, there is no playlisting, but for people who want to actively consume and not passively consume, it is hard to beat Songerize -- assuming the song is available. Of course, it is probably not even close to legal, but -- as one of our digital music industry pals points out -- it may be the most legal thing that embattled media search engine creator Seeqpod has created (Seeqpod is currently being sued by Warner Music Group). It is interesting to note that Songerize doesn't seem to scrape music that is made freely available through Last.FM. We punched in a few titles by smaller acts (such as Nosferatu D2's genius "A Footnote") that we know that the Viacom-backed and UK-based social music play offers for free and none of the tunes came up.

>> Mobius Band is promising some form of Valentine's Day surprise. We're hoping it is a cover of Robert Palmer's "Addicted To Love." Either way, we're guessing the surprise is something the cyborg-rock trio recorded during the band's recent woodshedding in Western Massachusetts. Of course, the surprise could be anything. Time will tell.

>> Uhhh, given the touring history shared between the bands, the first fellow we'd call to fix this problem if we were Kevin Shields is J. Mascis. Might be hard to fit in his schedule, as Witch is just about to release a new record and tour Europe.

February 6, 2008

Today's Hotness: The Answering Machine, Notwist, Mobius Band

The Answering Machine
>> Manchester, England-based indie pop wunderkinds The Answering Machine have posted a demo of the new track "Romantic And Square" for free download at its MySpace hacienda. The track doesn't stray too far from the dimensions of the band's prior gems, although the end jams out a bit and the entire track is graced by some sublime melodica. The tune is destined to be a hit, and it is perhaps even stronger than the incalculably catchy "Silent Hotels." We're very excited to hear what The Answering Machine does next, and we think the quartet expects to put another demo online at MySpace sometime this week. We'll save you the trip for now and post "Romantic And Square" below. Fans who've found the band's new message boards will find other fans sharing rarities and radio sessions -- well worth hunting down.

The Answering Machine -- "Romantic And Square (Demo)"
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[load up on Answering Machine singles at EMusic right here]

>> The web site for German electropop heroes Notwist has been updated with a video clip of the band watching an orchestra track a dynamic and discordant crescendo. It's likely a taste of what is to come on the band's forthcoming set, which is expected for release this spring. Thanks to the Notwist-Ultra blog for the email tip. Notwist is slated to perform May 9 in Berlin, and we just received another half-dozen European dates in an email from City Slang rendered completely in German. Fortunately for us H-Dawg From Accounts Receivable has ninja-like German capabilities. The email had no new album news, but still, if you are in Prague, Steyr, Ljubljana, Zagreb, Graz or Vienna at the end of April, you have reason to be stoked. We reviewed the excellent DVD "On | Off The Record," which memorialized the making of Notwist's superlative 2002 set Neon Golden, right here last February.

>> Brooklyn-based cyborg rockers Mobius Band are mounting a seven-week tour of Europe beginning at the end of the month. It's the trio's first jaunt across the pond and they have so many dates booked you'd think they were afraid Europe was going to go out of style. The tour commences in Dublin Feb. 21, culminates in Paris April 7, and between the band will make the sort of irregular but somewhat counterclockwise circuit of continental Europe familiar to backpackers the world over. We're too lazy to post the full slate of dates, but we expect they will make their way onto the band's MySpace yert or the Misra web site sometime soon. Personally we're hoping the lads will be able to report back whether in fact Zurich is indeed stained, as Pavement asserted some 17 years ago. Mobius Band will not be going it alone on their trip, but rather they will be supporting Editors as they did previously in America for a series of dates a couple years ago. More recently Mobius Band convened at drummer Noam Schatz's Western Massachusetts abode for some quick recording, and you can read all about that here. Mobius Band released its sophomore set Heaven oct. 2.

Coming To Your Local Bandstand: Ringo Deathstarr

Ringo Deathstarr, East Coast Tour 2008
We've said it before, but we're all too willing to say it again, especially since the band created this nifty graphic. Austin, Texas-based shoegaze behemoth Ringo Deathstarr will play the Abbey Lounge in Somerville, Mass. (literally just over the line from Cambridge in Inman Square) Monday Feb. 25. Other acts on the bill include Quixote, Action Verbs and Or Nothing -- all new names to us. Show time is 9PM, damage at the door is $7. Yeah, it's a Monday night, but you won't be sorry. The Deathstarr has updated its web site with full tour info via an interactive map, check it out here. And who else thinks the band would be very fitting tour support for The Raveonettes? We're digging that new video. Anyhoo, Ringo Deathstarr's self-titled EP was one of our favorite records of 2007; you can read our full list here. And since we're in a giving mood, here's an MP3.

Ringo Deathstarr -- "Starrsha" -- Ringo Deathstarr EP
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[buy Ringo Deathstarr from SVC Records here]

February 2, 2008

Today's Hotness: Say Hi, Wendyfix, Gang Of Four, Meneguar

Say Hi
>> Songwriter and hopeless romantic Eric Elbogen returns this month with his fifth record under the Say Hi To Your Mom moniker. Well, sort of... as we reported here last August, the band has truncated its name to the breezier Say Hi to correspond with the issue of the new set The Wishes And The Glitch Tuesday on the Euphobia label. Ever since the release of the sophomore set Numbers & Mumbles Say Hi could be counted on for one undeniable indie anthem. In 2004 that track was the minorly ubiquitous yearner "Let's Talk About Spaceships." In 2008, it's "Zero To Love." We admit some small concern that Elbogen might not keep his streak of undeniable tracks alive with The Wishes And The Glitch, because the first preview track floated, "Northwestern Girls," was certainly good but seemed to fall slightly shy of great. Well fear not, for the punchy, unsteady and hand-clap-arific "Zero To Love" leaves no doubt. Every time Elbogen sings "this new heart of mine" the whole room seems to bend, and we are surprised to detect for the first time a hint of Morrissey's peanut butter in Mr. Elbogen's chocolate. The Wishes And The Glitch is the first record Say Hi has released since moving from long-time home Brooklyn to Seattle, and the move seems to have facilitated the notable vocal contributions of David Bazan and The Long Winters' John Roderick on the record. Say Hi begins an extensive, six-week North American tour Feb. 16. The band plays Great Scott in Boston March 1, and we'll review the show, schedule-permitting.

Say Hi -- "Zero To Love" -- The Wishes And The Glitch
Say Hi To Your Mom -- "Let's Talk About Spaceships" -- Numbers & Mumbles
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[buy Say Hi records directly from the band here]

>> We've been getting an unusually great number of search hits recently for underfamed, Evanston, Ill.-based '90s indie rock trio Wendyfix, and we thought such interest presented a good opportunity to post the songs from the band's sole single. "Slow" b/w "Silence" was the maiden release of the Spade Kitty label, and it streeted in 1995. The band was fronted by Haywood's Ted Pauly, who we write about here often (and who, incidentally, is also a proponent of Say Hi), and Brian McGrath, who we'd certainly like to write about more; McGrath's (presumably most recent) project Mantissa released a very nice full-length in 2003 [review here] and we've heard nothing from him since. Anyway, Mr. Pauly sings the single's A-side, an urgently sad confessional ("OK, this one's for your birthday, I was wrong...") that bristles with hooks. McGrath's monolithic "Silence" on the flip gradually builds to a cathartic climax during which mostly inaudible vocals finally break through the guitar fuzz. Both songs are posted below. A quick search of the Internets reveals that Spade Kitty continues to conduct business and even launched a new web site a couple years ago. Mr. Pauly, as regular readers know, continues to churn out high-quality music as a solo artist. We failed to mentioned Wendyfix drummer Todd Hyman, who continues to operate labels including the wonderfully eclectic Carpark (Beach House, Ecstatic Sunshine, Montag). There is a very good profile of Carpark and Mr. Hyman here at Terrorbird.

Wendyfix -- "Slow" -- "Slow" b/w "Silence" [SK-001]
Wendyfix -- "Silence" -- "Slow" b/w "Silence" [SK-001]
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[the newest iteration of the Spade Kitty site doesn't sell this. Try Ebay?]

>> There's an interesting fact buried in this Billboard story about reborn post-punk legends Gang Of Four's efforts at creating its first new music in 15 years. Four paragraphs down the piece imparts that original Gang Of Four drummer Hugo Burnham -- who we believe has taught in Boston for many years -- is not involved in tracking for the recording sessions due to an undisclosed health issue. Bassist Dave Allen tells Billboard "Hugo's still involved in some ways, but it's a very personal issue that will be discussed at a later date." Allen has been regularly releasing demo songs via his blog Pampelmoose, and we must admit not noticing any change in drumming. Despite releasing the re-envisioned hits collection of sorts Return The Gift on V2 in 2005 [buy it here for $9], Gang Of Four is currently without a label deal. The band plans to experiment with different distribution ideas, telling Billboard "[w]e might be releasing the first single or four songs for free on the Internet, or on vinyl, or both, and just see what the marketplace is like."

>> We're grateful to blog Raven Sings The Blues for sussing out here what exactly is up with the new Meneguar song "Some Other Life," and the FuckItTapes releases. We're still not clear on is whether the Tone Banks releases were the recordings the band said last year would be released as one-sided 12" on Woodsist. But either way, there's new music, it sounds great, and that excites us. We'd seen the song and visited the FuckIt site a week or two ago, but we couldn't dig up anything definitive about what is going on. We're also not sure whether the new Meneguar tune "Fields Of Gaffney," also available at the band's MySpace drive-thru, is an actual cover of a song by the eccentric two-time bassist of Sebadoh whose solo project had the same name, or if it is an homage of sorts. Either way, it is one of the most interesting Meneguar recordings ever. The biggest question is, will there be a proper vinyl or CD issue of these new tracks? Meneguar's Strangers In Our House topped our list of favorite records of 2007, which you can review here. Finally, the Brooklyn-based quartet has two live dates on the books for March, one in its hometown and the other at the fabled Terrace Club at Princeton University. Hit the MySpace link supra for more info.