April 28, 2008

Today's Hotness: Drop Nineteens, The Elevator Drops

Drop Nineteens -- Delaware
>> The spoken-word bit in M83's swirling joy of a new single "Graveyard Girl" continues to remind us of a similar (but better) spoken-word section in the middle of Drop Nineteens' peerless droner "Kick The Tragedy," the dramatic centerpiece to the Boston quintet's amazing and out-of-print 1992 Caroline Records release Delaware. Feast your ears below; the bit we're talking about comes about five-and-a-half minutes in. M83's Saturdays=Youth came out earlier this month and the French act will tour selected North American markets between May 20 and June 7. At no point do we expect M83 will play any Drop Nineteens tracks, although that would be awesome. Particularly "Ease It Halen" [thanks for the copy edit, Good Doctor]. For those not familiar with Drop Nineteens, the chimp rock survivors-turned-shoegaze matinee idols-turned Pixies worshipers issued two records and two EPs between 1992 and 1994 before disbanding. Folks with a yen for more can likely track down BBC sessions and even the very, very good Mayfield demos if they look around long enough.

Drop Nineteens -- "Kick The Tragedy" -- Delaware
[right click and save as]
[buy -- for a stiff premium -- Delaware from MusicStack here]

>> Something that has been lost in the shuffle here in the last couple of weeks is a brief notice from the mysteriously there-and-then-not-there, possibly re-animated Boston power pop trio The Elevator Drops. According to a MySpace bulletin, the band had accidentally been selling at ITunes since Christmas the demo mixes for the recently issued fourth full-length OK Commuter instead of the finished recordings. The problem has since been rectified, and the band quips that anyone who mistakenly received the demos now are in possession of a collector's item. Those who mistakenly received the demo mixes are invited to write The Elevator Drops at the band's MySpace garage in order to receive satisfaction in the form of a password to a secret site that contains the correct version. The trio has yet to tour in support of OK Commuter, but we certainly look forward to seeing The Elevator Drops live when they do.

>> We've spent a substantial amount of our leisure time recently exploring the possibilities of ditching ITunes in favor of MediaMonkey as we look toward what software we will install on our new machine once it arrives. MediaMonkey -- recommended to us by the boundlessly wise Mr. Pixelnated -- does a lot of things, but one of those things that will have substantial amount of application for us is the ability to transcode files on the fly (such as the Drop Nineteens track above, incidentally). As we've bemoaned in our suddenly weekly Muxtape posts, we ripped a lot of our music to AAC files when we purchased our first laptop of the modern era in 2003. That's become more and more problematic in situations where MP3s are required. So there. Check out MediaMonkey yourself at the link supra if you are as much of a contrarian as we are.

April 27, 2008

Today's Hotness: The Halo Bit, Poole, Johnny Foreigner

>> The truth is that for the indie music fan the Internet provides solutions to most problems. Access to releases, or at least information about releases, is usually never more than a Google search away. That said, one problem that prevails -- and that we already discussed in last week's post about Silkworm -- is the lack of availability for sale proper digital versions of vinyl singles. In most cases when we've ripped vinyl the result has been less than satisfactory. But that problem presumes we own the record we're interested in. Alas, small labels that never really made any money in the first place might not see much point of going to the trouble of getting their releases digitized for sale online. And, alas, there are several instances in which we'd argue that an original mix for a vinyl single is superior to a subsequent mix or recording made available on CD. All of this is a long way of saying we sure wish someone would make available the singles issued by the now-defunct but once-crucial indie Spin-Art. Our own vinyl rips of the label's superlative singles from the Alex Kemp-fronted The Halo Bit ("Stay Away For A While" + 2, SPART 12) and Virginia's Poole ("Mary Shakes Her Hair" + 2, SPART 15) don't sound all that great. Maybe we need to get one of those USB turntables. Anyway, here are the aforementioned jams, as ripped by us, for what it's worth. Do you have a better-quality rip of these singles? Drop us an email, and secure our undying gratitude. Incidentally, the image above is a poorly rendered excerpt from the cover of The Halo Bit's nice full length -- we were too lazy to scan the sleeves for either of the singles tonight.

The Halo Bit -- "Stay Away For A While" -- "Stay Away For A While" b/w "Peggy + Helen" and "Dad's House"
Poole -- "Meredyth On A Monday" -- "Mary Shakes Her Hair" b/w "Meredyth On A Monday" and "Car"
[right click and save as]
[hunt for the singles at MusicStack here and here]

>> We had an inkling based on activity we were seeing in our hit logs and these posts at Death To Music and Keep Hope Inside confirm that Johnny Foreigner's Waited Up Til It Was Light has leaked. Considering promos were being offered a week or so ago -- which we're still crossing our fingers that we might receive -- the development is no surprise. DTM's Tom did the yeoman's work of doing a quick track-by-track assessment, but we've only scanned it, as we want to preserve the rush we'll surely get when we hear the full record for the first time.

April 26, 2008

Oceans Never Listen To Us Anyway: Muxtape Numero Tres

Oceans Never Listen To Us Anyway: Clicky Clicky Muxtape No. 3
Kids hip to the Twitter feed got the early word Thursday, but now the rest of you can spend an hour or so listening to and generally pondering our third Muxtape. The same caveat applies; that is, we were surprised and disappointed at how much of our music is encoded in the AAC format and therefore not eligible for uploading to Muxtape. That said, it has become another facet to the game of creating the mix. Looking over this one a couple days later, we're not sure of the order in a couple spots, and the Cherubino track might rock a little too much for this mix. But it is what it is. Here is a link to the Muxtape, and below are remarks for each track:

1. Galaxie 500 -- "Ceremony (Live)" -- Copenhagen
(Listened to this live record incessantly around the time we started dating the missus. Dean Wareham really takes things higher when he finishes out the lyric and goes to the solo to bring the song home. But isn't there a second guitar here all of a sudden, backing him up during the solo? Did Kramer step up on stage to fill out the sound there? Dunno. We'll have to go back to the liner notes. Incidentally, the interview segment Wareham did last month on WMBR to promote his recently issued memoire "Black Postcars: A Rock And Roll Romance" was very enjoyable, insightful, and we look forward to reading the book.)

2. Lilys -- "Salad Bar" -- The Station Tapes demos
(Rare, unreleased Lilys demo recorded in Gaithersburg, Maryland in 1991 in a basement studio. Really sublime stuff, sounds Ride-influenced. It is a shame the song didn't get a proper re-recording in Lancaster, PA where and when the sessions for In The Presence Of Nothing were done. It seems like Lilys-leader Kurt Heasley has been doing some cleaning out of the proverbial closets of late, what with the offer for sale of virgin copies of Eccsame The Photon Band recently. Perhaps he'll get together some odds and sods sets -- we're sure there's got to be acres of demos and outtakes.)

3. The Mendoza Line -- "Now Or Never Or Later" -- 30 Year Low
(Heart-stopping, slow burning demo version of a track that was featured on the Slow Dazzle record, which featured the now dissolved partnership of Mendoza Line fronters Tim Bracy and Shannon McArdle.)

4. David J. -- "I'll Be Your Chauffeur (Original Version)" -- Songs From Another Season
(No rhythm section on this version. Another classic mixtape track from a gentleman who know lives in parts unknown and who had ripped out the only working bathroom in his house around the last time we spoke. The other version of the track will always signal autumn for us, but this more subdued take seems more dreamy and optimistic. Very tasteful saxophone here.)

5. Girlfriend 2000 -- "Ladybug"
(Unreleased track from a former combo of our once and current bandmate Jeff Stern, whose songwriting prowess should be supported by copious grant funding so he can just do it full time. Although he'd probably use the grant money to make a movie. Even so, this track continually reveals itself in different shades of emotion every time we listen to it. Very tasteful organ here.)

6. Gravel -- "Yesterday" -- International Hipswing comp
(This song is pretty flat as far as structure and production goes, but it captures a cat-gray, flannel-shirted mood of isolated desperation common among indie boys of the age at the time.)

7. Cherubino -- Car Wreck -- Bird
(This record was treated poorly by Pitchfork when it was released about six years ago, and we think it deserved better based on the two very strong songs on the set. "Car Wreck" is one of these. The band featured Haywood drummer (and, truly, one of only two people you should ever call if you need a drummer, since he's tops) Rob V playing bass and hitting the backup vocals. Keep talkin' 'bout it, keep talkin' 'bout it.)

8. Destroyer -- "I Want This Cyclops" -- City Of Daughters
(We made this muxtape the day this very good Catbird Seat item was posted about Destroyer's large, but mostly new fanbase. The only reason we were cool enough to know about Destroyer early was because we know a guy who knows a guy, and that second guy was/is a partner in Misra Records, and that first guy one day gave us a handful of Misra CDs for free out of the trunk of his car. One of those records was Streethawk: A Seduction, which is a splendid recording and features some very compelling and Bowie-tastic tunes. "I Want This Cyclops" we got from some blog, perhaps the late, lamented Mystical Beast.)

9. Ambulance Ltd. -- "Stay Where You Are" -- Ambulance Ltd. EP
(This songs seems to be singular in the Ambulance Ltd. catalog, as if they wrote it, realized it was awesome, and then decided they didn't want to be pigeonholed by it. Which is a shame, because if Ambulance Ltd, which has undergone some lineup changes in recent years, created entire records of subdued pop gems such as this, they would be our favorite band. Sadly, the long introduction is excised for the video, which is otherwise a pretty nice piece. As it stands, "Stay Where You Are" is at the top or very near the top of the list of most-played songs in our ITunes. More recently the band issued a set that included a cover of Pink Floyd's "Fearless," if memory serves.)

10. Boys Life -- "Two Wheeled Train" -- Boys Life/Christie Front Drive split 10"
(Another song with a long introduction, and a song with a huge payoff. This one cataclysmic in scope. At the climax, about two minutes in, hair on our arms stands up. Every time. And then this song has a weird outro, as if the storm has passed and the clouds are breaking up.)

11. Sunset Rubdown -- "Shut Up I Am Dreaming Of Places Where Lovers Have Wings" -- Shut Up I Am Dreaming
(We used to see the word "restraint" bandied about a lot in relation to one of our favorite bands back in the day. This is not that band, but even so this song epitomizes restraint. Which is why "Shut Up..." has such a huge payoff when it finally gets to the second go-round of "oceans never listen to us anyway." It's a musical journey, and when you get there, it is immensely enjoyable.)

12. Adrian Crowley -- Trilogy -- A Strange Kind
(If not the perfect mixtape beginner, then certainly the perfect mixtape ender. Ambient washes. Sad/creepy piano.)

April 23, 2008

Today's Hotness: Jim Guthrie, Carrie Brownstein, Mystery Jets

Royal City with Jim Guthrie
>> We received two separate email blasts today regarding the new act Human Highway, both of which, we might add, arrived after we already saw the "news" in our RSS reader. We put the word news in quotations because it was apparent from reading the item and the emails that the former was rather lazily cribbed from the latter. Normally we don't let this sort of writing get to us, but we found this particularly offensive because the press releases and the "news" both failed to mention what Human Highway principal Jim Guthrie accomplished prior to his 2004 solo set Now More Than Ever. In addition to releasing other very fine solo sets, Guthrie was one of the main fellows in the exceptional alt.country act Royal City [pictured above]. It's all at Wikipedia here; how quickly people forget. We had the pleasure of seeing Royal City topline a bill that also featured The Trouble With Sweeney in, oh, 2001 or so. We're posting a starkly beautiful Royal City track and a sublime Guthrie solo joint below, in case you are not familiar with the gentleman's work. Back to today's news: Guthrie has reunited with former Islands bandmate Nick Thorburn to form Human Highway, which will issue Moody Motorcyle Aug. 19 on Suicide Squeeze.

Royal City -- "And Miriam Took A Timbrel In Her Hand" -- Alone At The Microphone
[right click and save as]
[buy Royal City records from Insound here]

Jim Guthrie -- "3 AM" -- Morning Noon Night
[right click and save as]
[buy Morning Noon Night from Insound here]

>> Brief Remarks: 1) We only just yesterday added Carrie Brownstein's Monitor Mix NPR blog to our RSS reader, but the decision has already paid off. Revel in the following quote from this item: "Yesterday was Earth Day and I celebrated it by letting my dog sh*t on a lawn that is full of chemicals. When the owner came out to yell at me, I pointed to the excrement and said, "That is the only natural thing in your yard, Happy Earth Day." 2) We don't know what this is, but it is awesome. 3) Trivia: this woman was in our Music, Recording and Sound Design class at university in the mid-'90s. She was -- and likely still is -- very nice. 4) All your metadata are belong to Sony, according to Coolfer. 5) ExitFare has posted here a recent video from London-based quintet Mystery Jets, and the clip is an excellently absurd send-up of all the amazing new wave videos we watched incessantly on MTV in our youth.

April 22, 2008

Comedy Minus One Hits Refresh On Out-Of-Print Silkworm, Rarities

One of our major concerns about indie rock -- and particularly the beloved early '90s indie rock we were reared on -- is all the music that goes out of print and/or never makes the leap to digital availability. Case in point: right now superlative indie act Lilys are selling the last virgin CD copies of the 1994 masterpiece Eccsame The Photon Band right now via its MySpace yert. According to a MySpace bulletin, the implosion of Spin Art Records "has somehow managed to take the rights and masters for the first 3 Lilys albums down with it." Incidentally, the fall of Spin Art, whose early catalog we hold particularly dear, is perhaps one of the most under-reported and unexplained occurrences in indie music in the last couple of years.

But we're straying far from our point, which is that some people are doing their best to make sure that the exemplary sounds of days and labels gone by continue to be available. One such person is Jon Solomon and his recently launched label enterprise Comedy Minus One. You may recall we reported here in October that CMO was issuing digitally certain records from the fabulous Karl Hendricks catalog, in addition to issuing the CD version of Bottomless Pit's solemn debut Hammer Of The Gods. Well, we received news today that the label is once again stepping into the breach to rescue from undeserved obsolescence a number of fantastic titles related to well-known, tragically scuttled Bottomless Pit-precursor Silkworm. The renowned indie act -- whose drummer was senselessly killed by a suicidal driver in 2006 -- released some records in the early '90s on labels that were not suited for the long haul. Among these is one that Mr. Solomon deems "the best record of the 1990s," Silkworm's black celebration Libertine. Originally issued by El Recordo in 1994, Comedy Minus One has shouldered the responsibility of digitally issuing the set for the first time. The wonderfully written and recorded Libertine contains much top-shelf indie rock music, not the least of which is the unparalleled album opener "There Is A Party Tonight In Warsaw," as well as the tracks "Wild In My Day," "Couldn't You Wait?," "Grotto Of Miracles" and "Cotton Girl."

But that is not all. Comedy Minus One will also issue digitally: the Chokes! EP [link], the final studio recordings from Silkworm tracked during 2005 with Steve Albini at Electrical Audio in Chicago (the set was previously made available on CD by 12XU); Tim Midgett's It Goes Like This [link], originally released in 2002 as part of Three Lobed Recordings' "Purposeful Availment" CD subscription series; Ein Heit's 1997 set The Lightning & The Sun [link] which reunited Silkworm with Joel Phelps; and, finally, The Crust Brothers' Marquee Mark [link], a December 1997 performance at the Crocodile Cafe in Seattle by a band comprising popular solo artists and former Pavement-fronter Stephen Malkmus and the three members of Silkworm.

Comedy Minus One's next physical release will be the Oxford Collapse Hann-Byrd 12." The digital releases noted above will arrive the same month. In the meantime, however, feast your ears on an MP3 from each of the sets.

Silkworm -- "Couldn't You Wait" -- Libertine
Silkworm -- "Bar Ice" -- Chokes!
Tim Midgett -- "Portable Life" -- It Goes Like This
Ein Heit -- "Summer" -- The Lightning & The Sun
The Crust Brothers -- "You Ain't Going Nowhere" -- Marquee Mark
[right click and save as]
[keep checking back at the CMO web sites linked above to see when the buy links go live]

April 21, 2008

Today's Hotness: Judas Priest, Ringo Deathstarr, Johnny Foreigner

>> The first cassette we ever bought was Judas Priest's amazing 1982 fireball Screaming For Vengeance (not to be confused with this). We recall already being familiar with the storied British heavy metal act from our early and incessant exposure to MTV back when it was good and played music videos all day (and sometimes entire live concerts! Really! Its true!). But the truth is that at the ripe old age of eight we probably bought this tape because we thought the cover art was AWESOME (see left). According to Wired, the record is about to endure a more modern first: it will be the first full-length album sold through the online store associated with the video game rock band. Next up will be The Cars' self-titled set and The Pixies' Doolittle. The kids don't know what is about to hit them. The Wired piece downplays the distinction of Screaming For Vengeance being first, saying it was just how the proverbial cookie crumbled. But even so, we take a fair amount of pleasure imagining folks including our young cousins having their minds blown by the opening salvos "The Hellion" and "Electric Eye." Buy the whole enchilada from AmazonMP3 here. Anybody who has been paying attention will realize that the issuance of Screaming via "Rock Band" makes for a pretty canny promotion for the recently announced sixteenth Priest record, the double-album set Nostradamus, which Billboard reports will be released by SonyEpicMegaConglomMusicWidgetReplicatorAndMarketer June 17.

>> Texas shoegaze dynamos Ringo Deathstarr perform "Sweet Girl" live in a YouTube clip you can access here. We forgot to toggle down the volume on the video before commencing playback, but we imagine the bassy explosion that jumped through our headphones and caused our ears to ring just now was not unlike the onslaught the audience experienced during whatever show this was. Readers may recall that we reported last month here on the quartet's plans to record new material. We are hopeful that the planned sessions will yield a proper recording of "Your Town," a demo of which the band posted to its MySpace dojo at some point last year. Fortunately for you, we downloaded it while the getting was good. Check it out below.

Ringo Deathstarr -- "Your Town (demo)" -- MySpace download 2007
[right click and save as]
[buy Ringo Deathstarr's self-titled EP from SVC Records here]

>> The Johnny Foreigner-obsessed among you will note two interesting things about the virtual ad slick recreated in this recent MySpace bulletin from the Birmingham, England-based indie rock trio. One, there is a tiny rendering of what is clearly Lewes Herriot-crafted album art for the forthcoming set Waited Up 'til It Was Light. Two, and this is the particularly interesting item, the ad refers to the band's planned debut long-player as featuring the singles "Our Bipolar Friends," "Eyes Wide Terrified"... AND "Salt, Pepa and Spindarella." Don't think that third single has been disclosed elsewhere yet. The single for "Eyes Wide Terrified" streets at the end of May, and the album follows not long after in early June. When will the third single be released? We'll keep our eyes peeled.

>> Seriously, is there anything better than a Philly sports blog that interviews dudes from old hardcore bands about the City's teams? Choketown interviews here David Wagenschutz (Lifetime, Kid Dynamite, every band ever) about his love of the Flyers.

April 17, 2008

Today's Hotness: Muxtape Numero Dos, Silver Jews, MySpace Music

Steady Now Don't Fall Apart -- Clicky Clicky Muxtape 2
>> New Muxtape "STEADY NOW DON'T FALL APART" up tonight here. Again, we were hugely frustrated by the amount of our digital collection that we ripped in AAC. We had really intended to start this mix off with "Cadali" by The Coctails, which is a truly unparalleled beauty of a pop song. But we didn't feel like re-ripping it. Well, now we're changing our mind, because it's really that good. Hold on. Sorry Bikini Kill's "For Tammy Rae," you just got bumped. Anyway, our notes are below.

1. The Coctails -- "Cadali" -- The Coctails
(makes us think of walking past the library and to WESU on a cold winter's day and realizing there's only so long you can ignore the elephant in the room)

2. California Snow Story -- "Suddenly Everything Happens" -- single
(immediately gripping, powerfully melancholy)

3. Barnabys -- "Gargamel" -- Jiffy Boy Records' 10 Cent Fix comp
(so many guitars, so much sitting with legs crossed knowing there's no real reason etc. etc. etc.)

4. Chapterhouse -- "Breather" -- Whirlpool
(sleeper track for us from one of the most important mix tapes we ever received, given to us by a guy who now owns sheep and doesn't really follow music anymore)

5. Daylight's For The Birds -- "To No One" -- Trouble Everyday
(pretty, cinematic, captivating singer)

6. Mobius Band -- "Frozen Lake In Unison" -- Three EP
(those early self-released EPs from Mobius Band are no joke. this song always makes our ears perk up when it shuffles into the mix)

7. Happy Mondays -- "Bob's Yer Uncle" -- Thrills, Pills and Bellyaches
(another classic mix tape cut from a tape received from a different guy who now lives in the middle of nowhere and doesn't really follow music anymore. this song distinguishes itself as being the only Happy Mondays track we enjoy. it occurs to us that the secret theme of this mix might be flute)

8. Jawbreaker -- "Rich" -- Hardcore Breakout USA
(we came to this band late, despite everyone raving in the '90s. we came to this song even later, but it is certainly one of Jawbreaker's best, right up there with "Chesterfield Kings")

9. Finger -- "Ship Full Of Holes" -- Jettison 18 single
(North Carolina act whose single we bought probably because of an ad in the back of Spin or maybe in a hard copy catalog from Alias or Merge or Jettison or Antenna or one of those Carolina labels. All of which reminds us we don't have any Connells in CD or digital form. We'll have to remedy that. This one's a pretty straight rocker, enjoyable nonetheless)

10. Portastatic -- "Look, Honey, Peaches" -- A Day In The Park compilation
(the epitome of sad, lovestruck Mac, in our opinion. Portastatic is too band-y and glossy for us nowadays, and whenever a new set comes out we long for more numbers like this and the stuff on Slow Note From A Sinking Ship)

>> Example of the commutative property of mathematics: we love Babar the Elephant; the cover of the forthcoming Silver Jews record has Babar on it; therefore we love the cover of the forthcoming Silver Jews record, which is titled Lookout Mountain, Lookout Sea. Pantsfork has all the details here.

>> This Wired.com piece contains all the details about the planned MySpace Music service. And you know what? It all sounds boring. Perhaps if MySpace founder Chris DeWolfe offered more than the sort of boasts that a more critical reporter would not accept at face value. Wired touts the interview as "in-depth," but the piece reads more like an email interview conducted by an inexperienced blogger without the chutzpah to challenge DeWolfe's marketing-speak.

April 16, 2008

Where You From? Cracow, Poland! Cracow, Poland!

The Popemobile
Time was the Pope was from Poland, Cracow to be exact. We've been to Cracow. It's a hopping town. Anyhow, now there is a new Pope. He's from Germany, and -- according to press accounts -- he is decidedly less of a "rock star" than his predecessor John Paul II. So apparently JP liked to rock out before he was called up to the bigs. Quirky Montreal-based indie quintet The Lovely Feathers must have been familiar with John Paul's propensity to rock out, because they memorialized him in song, a song, that, incidentally and as we've written before, contains the best shout-out to Cracow ever recorded. What with the morning and evening newscasts this week offering copious coverage of New Pope's visit to America, The Lovely Feathers tune has been constantly in our head since the weekend, so we post it with hopes that it will eventually fade from our consciousness for a while. "Pope John Paul" was issued on The Lovely Feathers debut Hind Hind Legs in 2006; we reviewed that record here. Curiously, we reported here 14 months ago that The Lovely Feathers had completed a sophomore set. So where did it go? There was a cryptic update to the band's MySpace blizznog in November, but still no record. For what it is worth we await its arrival eagerly.

The Lovely Feathers -- "Pope John Paul" -- Hind Hind Legs
[right click and save as]
[buy Hind Hind Legs from Insound here]

April 15, 2008

Today's Hotness: The Replacements, The Feelies, The A-Sides

The Replacements -- I Will Dare b/w Color Me Impressed
>> We devoted a portion of the weekend to cruising ecommerce sites to see if anyone is offering a bundled deal on the forthcoming reissues of The Replacements' Twin/Tone releases. While no one is offering a package deal, the best price we saw was at Newbury Comics, which will sell you the full-lengths for $13.25 and the EP Stink for $11.85 (which still seems absurdly high, since we recall getting this new on CD for like $6.99 at Repo Records back in the day). At least one place was charging list price of $18.98 for the full-lengths. Think it was Amazon. Our point is, why is no one offering a bundle deal like Matador just did with the Mission Of Burma stuff? We came very close to buying the discs off of NewburyComics.com, but then we figured we'd try our luck at the store on release day -- which is 4/22 -- to see if we can't get the discs for $12.99-ish or something. And we just discovered one more incentive via the Man Without Ties blog. Apparently certain stores will have (either for sale or as some sort of premium) a limited edition 7" on offer containing perhaps the two greatest Replacements songs, "I Will Dare" b/w "Color Me Impressed." So we're hoping like hell Newbury Comics has some of those next week, and we're going to try to duck out to the store prior to lunch to ensure we get a shot at it. Read more at the Man Without Ties post here.

>> Speaking of reissues -- here's something that hadn't been apparent to us: readers will recall we first pined for and then briskly reported on the impending reunion of seminal Jersey indie act The Feelies. Well, according to the good people over at 30 Milkshakes, there are also Feelies reissues in the offing. These will apparently be released by Bar/None. The Bar/None web site has nothing to offer on this subject, but we will watch eagerly for more news.

>> Philadelphia indie rockers The A-Sides have three tour dates lined up next week before they go into hiding to create their third set, the follow-up to last year's sophomore set Silver Storms, which was released by Vagrant. The first show is at the Middle East Upstairs in Cambridge, Mass., i.e. right down the street. We're going to make a concerted effort to finally catch The A-Sides live, and if we do go, we're hoping that the quintet plays "Here Or There," a spacey, shoegazey jam that closed out the band's stellar 2005 full-length debut Hello, Hello. Here's an MP3.

The A-Sides -- "Here Or There" -- Hello, Hello
[right click and save as]
[buy A-Sides recordings from Newbury Comics here]

>> So we got hip to 2008 and made a Muxtape. You can rock all 37:26 of it right here. We may make another Thursday night to tide readers over, as we expect to be off-line for the majority of what is a long weekend here in Massachusetts, USA. As of the other night we are also rocking Twitter, if that sort of thing interests you.

April 13, 2008

The Way It Was Wasted: Eric Bachmann's "Web In Front"

We're more than a week late on making these remarks, and they've already been made elsewhere, but Archers Of Loaf's world-shaking "Web In Front:" seminal '90s indie rock single; single that launched a million bands; single that commences a billion mixtapes. Former Archers fronter Eric Bachmann recently visited Spinner's Interface and delivered a wrenching revision of the track with an acoustic guitar. It is posted above. Awesome.

April 12, 2008

Today's Hotness: M83, Johnny Foreigner, Ecstatic Sunshine

>> That new M83 single is brilliant, innit? Less bleary and more pop than the stuff we recall from the prior record, although we must admit having a hard time differentiating M83 and Amusement Parks On Fire in our memories. But "Graveyard" is a perfect synthesis of New Order and The Cure and big melodic washes and ringing guitars that we have been constantly searching for over the last 22 years (we date our interest in indie music to the release of The Cure's Standing On A Beach). Check out the video for "Graveyard" posted above. Mute unleashes M83's fifth studio album Saturdays = Youth, from which the single is taken, Tuesday. M83 plays The Middle East in Cambridge, Mass. Monday June 2; you can review all of the tour dates at the M83 YouTube page here.

Johnny Foreigner -- Eyes Wide Terrifed plus two>> So not only does Johnny Foreigner's forthcoming debut full-length now have a release date, it has a whole other market. The hotly anticipated Waited Up 'Til It Was Light will be issued in the UK June 2. On the same day it will also be issued in Japan on the Fabtone Records label, through a deal disclosed Friday. Fabtone has released in Japan records by notable Western indie rockers Dirty On Purpose and The Lodger. The Japanese release of Waited Up 'Til It Was Light will have two bonus tracks (we bet we know one of them, a cover, just guessing) and shmancier art work. We're sure we'll buy it for a crazy amount off EBay. To punctuate the Birmingham, England-based trio's conquest of Japan it will play the SummerSonic festival in Japan August 9. If you've read guitarist Alexei Berrow's March missive in DrownedInSound you know dude and his honchos Kelly and Junior just rock, smoke, drink and record rock, all with little rest and occasional illness. We can't imagine plying their wares is going to get Johnny Foreigner any more rest, but perhaps they'll be able to sleep on the plane? As we've reported over and over, Waited Up 'Til It Was Light will be preceded May 19 by the single "Eyes Wide Terrified," the video of which we posted below some days ago before our laptop exploded. See this little square picture to the left? It's the sleeve art for "Eyes Wide Terrified." 'Tis small, but it is obviously another Lewes Herriot design that we can't wait to see rendered in a seven-inch square. Anyway, what with the band's third single "Our Bipolar Friends" selling out, here's an MP3.

Johnny Foreigner -- "Our Bipolar Friends" -- "Our Bipolar Friends" b/w "The House Party Scene Is Killing You"
[right click and save as]
[buy the entire single at EMusic here]

>> The smoldering track "Herrons" from Baltimore trio Ecstatic Sunshine's newly released sophomore collection Way has been moving us this morning. We never reviewed the band's 2006 debut on Carpark, but we certainly listened to it a lot. And while Freckle Wars featured tunes constructed by trebly, slithering guitars, "Herrons" displays a decidedly murkier -- even Fennesz-esque -- Ecstatic Sunshine. The band's recently enlarged line-up (it had formerly been a duo) apparently hasn't resulted in more slithering. In fact, at this point the act touts only co-founder Matt Papich on guitar, while co-founder Dustin Wong and new-ish Kieran Gillan wrangle electronics and loops. "Herrons" was recently PantsCasted and you can catch the stream at IMeem here. Highly recommended. You can download Freckle Wars and the acclaimed EP Living from EMusic here, and we don't expect it will be too long before you can get the three-track full-length Way -- which was issued by Cardboard Records Tuesday -- there as well. Ecstatic Sunshine will be on tour from April 17 through May 17. There's no Boston date among those currently booked; review all of the dates at the band's MySpace cabin here.

>> As we reported previously, Glaswegian indie rock quartet Frightened Rabbit will return to the U.S. next month to support the release of The Midnight Organ Fight. The dates have now been disclosed and we post them below as a public service. The boys curiously start things off and round them out in Ohio on May 28 and June 11 respectively. Between those two dates Frightened Rabbit heads up and down, but not to either coast. Anyway, The Midnight Organ Fight will be released digitally this week; a manufacturing delay apparently is keeping the physical product off of North American shelves until April 29, which means you can use your tax return to pick it up. We reviewed the band's two recent Boston shows here and here respectively, and in the event you missed it, here is our review of the new record.

05.28 -- Cleveland, OH -- Grog Shop
05.29 -- Chicago, IL -- Double Door
05.30 -- Madison, WI -- High Noon Saloon
05.31 -- Minneapolis, MN -- 400 Bar
06.01 -- Chicago, IL -- Do Division Festival*
06.02 -- Kansas City, MO -- Record Bar
06.04 -- Dallas, TX -- Granada Theatre
06.05 -- Austin, TX -- The Mohawk
06.06 -- Houston, TX -- Walters
06.07 -- Baton Rouge, LA -- Spanish Moon
06.09 -- Birmingham, AL -- Bottletree
06.10 -- Nashville, TN -- Exit/In
06.11 -- Columbus, OH -- The Basement

April 9, 2008

Today's Hotness: The Swimmers, The War On Drugs, Meneguar

The Swimmers, photo by Dawn Walsh>> [PHOTO CREDIT: Dawn Walsh] Philadelphia indie rock upstarts The Swimmers recently completed a small strand of tour dates, but the quartet is continuing the good vibes by sharing a cracking live recording of their March 22 show at The Hideout in Chicago. The audio is clear and punchy and the performances are sharp. The live set is largely comprised of tracks from the band's long-awaited and recently released full length Fighting Trees, which we reviewed here in early March. The Swimmers harness the rootsiness of Wilco and the economic pep of Spoon, and as such it is unclear to us why the foursome doesn't enjoy a higher profile outside of Philadelphia. Check out the live version of "Pocket Full Of Gold" posted below, and if you're jazzed also hit the link for a .zip file of the whole show, which closes out with a pleasantly ragged version of the Hall & Oates chestnut "Rich Girl." If you can't get enough of that live stuff and you are in Philadelphia Friday you can catch the band at Johnny Brenda's with BC Camplight and The Capitol Years.

The Swimmers -- "Pocket Full Of Gold (Live)" -- Live at The Hideout, Chicago, March 22, 2008
[right click and save as]
[to get a .zip file of the whole show right click on this link]
[buy Fighting Trees from Newbury Comics right here]

>> Thanks to the Internet, we are more able now to consume Philly-reared musical victuals than we were when we lived there in the late '90s. It also helps that we have money now, we suppose. We're tempted to turn Today's Hotness into an all-Philly edition so we can talk about the new Windsor For The Derby tracks and the review of the Yah Mos Def record at PantsFork, but we see some other things we need to get to, so a little bit about the recently reissued -- and free -- 2006 EP from Philly quintet The War On Drugs will have to suffice. Incidentally, The War On Drugs likely hit our radar via coverage in the inimitable Philebrity.com. But it was when we saw this item at BrooklynVegan saying the act -- which recently signed with Secretly Canadian -- was giving away a free EP that we finally checked out the band. And you know what? The Barrel Of Batteries EP is dynamite. Mixing laid-back Byrds-ish strummery and vocals with some rich production flourishes and the occasional odd interstitial, the small stack of tunes is a promising harbinger of what a planned full-length Wagonwheel Blues will bring. To whet your whistle, we've posted below an MP3 of "Arms Like Boulders," a different version of which will appear on the full length, which is slated for release in June. If you dig that you can snatch a .zip file of the entire EP at the other link below.

The War On Drugs -- "Arms Like Boulders" -- Barrel Of Batteries EP
[right click and save as]
[download the entire EP as a .zip file from Secretly Canadian here]

>> Brooklyn-based indie rockers Meneguar were responsible for our favorite record of 2007, and we've known for some time that more recordings are in the offing. And although we've stumbled across some things on the Internets over the last couple months -- and memorialized said things here and here -- we've been in the dark about what the band would be releasing when. Well, our RSS percolated up two items from the band yesterday. First, Meneguar has released via its own Rear House label the vinyl-only full-length The In Hour, which is available for mail order directly from the band [details here]. The record purportedly showcases the foursome switching up instruments and creating a spontaneous, self-recorded set. Meneguar itself characterizes The In Hour as "a serious departure," but contends the recordings "hold true to the band's undeniable pop sensibility." Needless to say we mail-ordered it straightaway. In other news, the band has uploaded to YouTube a video [linky linky] for the new track "Some Other Life." Frankly, we don't think the video is much to shout about, although once certain of the actors don full-body cat costumes things improve dramatically, in a creepy, "The Shining" sort of sense. If anything, the video is important because it is the only chance you have to hear the track without hunting down the band or ordering the vinyl or hanging out at its MySpace wigwam.

April 7, 2008

YouTube Rodeo: Johnny Foreigner's "Eyes Wide Terrified"

Tireless indie rock superheroes Johnny Foreigner sprung the video for its brilliant, brilliant forthcoming single "Eyes Wide Terrified" on a largely unexpecting public this morning and the clip -- posted above -- is tops. Melding tasteful performance footage in a darkened studio (kinda reminds us of this, but, you know, we're old) and cohort Lewes Herriot's entertaining ghost cartoonimations, the band's first proper video even has a bit of a surprise ending (one, incidentally, that mirrors somewhat the perhaps even more brilliant clip for Los Campesinos!' maddeningly good pogofest "Death To Los Campesinos!"). And when the one blue ghost sings backup, you will laugh. The single for "Eyes Wide Terrified" will be released by Best Before Records May 19, we learned yesterday. We've discussed the single ad nauseum already, but if you've missed it scroll down to learn about the b-sides and such.

One final Johnny Foreigner note: the band is finally selling merch right here. Given the woeful state of American currency right now, we're not sure we can justify spending more than USD$30 on a t-shirt. But that doesn't mean we didn't already try to buy one. We sort of got hung up in the buying process, but we expect those of you reading this babble in England will have an easier go of things.

April 6, 2008

Review: Julie Ocean | Long Gone And Nearly There [MP3s]

Julie Ocean -- Long Gone And Nearly ThereThe very idea of Julie Ocean -- that is, roughly, Velocity Girl + Glo-worm + Swiz = awesome rock band -- is so enticing that the contrarian in us almost hoped that it didn't work. But the relatively new quartet succeeds marvelously, as evidenced by the exuberant and winsome indie pop on Long Gone And Nearly There. The band's sunny sounds most obviously reference predecessor Velocity Girl, whose immensely powerful second single "My Forgotten Favorite" (which easily places among our 10 favorite songs) gave way to more traditional pop efforts further along the arc of the '90s act's career. The guitar tremelo that opens and closes Julie Ocean's anthemic "Here Comes Danny" in particular reminds us of Velocity Girl. Under the gloss, smile and "woo oohs" of "Looking At Me/Looking At Your" and "My Revenge" pulses the caffeinated energy -- and certainly the conciseness -- of mighty late '80s hardcore act Swiz, which counted among its members Julie Ocean drummer Alex Daniels.

But the overarching element of Julie Ocean's music -- broad, bright melodies delivered with an irresistible guitar-pop fizz -- overshadows the vestigial artifacts of those predecessors. While nothing on Long Gone And Nearly There is overdone, just about everything leaves you wanting more. The set carries only two songs over three minutes in length, and the whole of the record's 10 tracks transpires in less than a half an hour, so you will be restarting Long Gone about as often as you would flip a vinyl record. We estimate conservatively that we've listened to this record 40 times since receiving it, and we have little doubt that our experience won't be unique once Long Gone And Nearly There hits racks next month. Philadelphia's Transit Of Venus label releases the record May 29. You can stream it in its entirety at Last.FM right now. Click here for those streams, and click below for an MP3 and videos.

Julie Ocean -- "#1 Song" -- Long Gone And Nearly There
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[pre-order Long Gone And Nearly There from Transit Of Venus here]
[pre-orders ship May 20]

Julie Ocean -- "Ten Lonely Words" [video] -- Long Gone And Nearly There
Julie Ocean -- "Bright Idea" [video] -- Long Gone And Nearly There

Velocity Girl -- "My Forgotten Favorite" -- "My Forgotten Favorite" b/w "Why Should I Be Nice To You?"
[right click and save as]
[buy Velocity Girl recordings from Newbury Comics here]

Julie Ocean: Internets | MySpace | YouTube | Flickr

April 5, 2008

Today's Hotness: She, Sir, Deadbeat, The Radishes

She, Sir
>> [UPDATED: See End Of First Paragraph] If this photo (not the one above) is legitimate -- and we have no reason to believe otherwise -- then superlative Texas shoegazers She, Sir must have recently recorded a live session for Internet radio streamer WOXY.com. This is terrifically exciting because the band released in 2006 a seven-song set, Who Can't Say Yes, that was a flawless concoction of sounds made famous (to us, anyway) by Ride and Lilys. As we reported here in January, She, Sir has been working on a new record titled Go Guitars with the assistance of producer Erik Wofford (Explosions In The Sky, Voxtrot). We inspected the WOXY Lounge Acts page and there is no indication of when the She, Sir session will be posted, but we'll keep our eyes on it. In other news, the band reports at its web site that it has been auditioning candidates to serve as a permanent rhythm section, replacing a rotating cast of players. Hopefully the move to a permanent lineup will result in some East Coast touring. In the meantime, enjoy the stellar lead track from Who Can't Say Yes. Update: so it turns out the picture linked above was in fact old, and the She, Sir WOXY session was recorded last year. We've added a direct link to an MP3 of the session below, and we're downloading it now to hear it.

She, Sir -- "I Love You, Blowtorch Eyes" -- Who Can't Say Yes
She, Sir -- 2007 WOXY Session
[right click and save as]
[buy Who Can't Say Yes from the band here]

>> We went to EMusic the other night to check out the newly acquired Rolling Stones offerings (oh how we love the live sets Get Yer Ya-Yas Out and Got Live If You Want It) and got sidetracked by the presence on the main page of a newish single from dub-influenced electronic music producer Deadbeat. We've had a thing for the Montreal-based act (actually one dood, Scott Monteith) ever since reviewing the set Something Borrowed, Something Blue for Junkmedia back in March 2004 [review here]. While the single "Eastward On To Mecca" was released by Wagon Repair/Zebralution, we associate Deadbeat with Stefan Betke's ~scape label, which has also released a number of Deadbeat recordings. It is interesting to note that while Betke's Pole project left us cold after the introduction of rapping into a series of EPs in 2005 (and the full-length Steingarten never completely fired our imagination, either), Deadbeat has stuck closer to the dub-influenced sounds that have been one of the more prominent hallmarks of the ~scape catalogue, and thus Deadbeat has also continued to move us with its grooves. If you are a fan, we highly recommend grabbing "Eastward On To Mecca" from EMusic here.

>> The title track to The Manhattan Love Suicides' recently issued, limited edition 7" EP Clusterf*ck is now streaming at Leeds-based Squirrel Records' MySpace cabin here. The band sounds even more like erstwhile Slumberland Records noise merchants Henry's Dress than ever before, and that is a good thing. The Manhattan Love Suicides' EP has four tracks in all, including "Detroit Diesel," "Burning Wire" and "Heat And Panic." So the obvious question now is, "will anybody sell me this thing as MP3s?" Well, let's have a look. Nope. But we bet if you watch EMusic it will eventually pop up here.

>> Readers may recall we reported here that L.A.-based rockers The Radishes would be giving away their forthcoming Strychnine EP for free prior to its April 15 release. Well the band has made good. Hit this link to download four straightforward hard rockers from the quartet. The title track seems to betray a love of taut, sludgy mid-'80s stoner metal, and the tune features a guitar solo courtesy of former MC-5 man Wayne Kramer. The set also includes a slow-burning psyched out cover of the John Lennon cut, "I Found Out," which the deceased Beatle issued on his John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band LP in 1970. We ranted about The Radishes blistering rocker "Hook Me Up" here in November.

>> We were curious about references made to the band Lump when we saw pop-punkers Varsity Drag earlier this year [review], and after corresponding with Lisa Drag and poking around on the Interweb we got turned onto the recently resuscitated '90s indie rockers. For all the guitar distortion and '90s nostalgia you're looking for, look no further than this recently posted video for Lump's rocker "Thirteen." The clip was apparently cobbled together by film students during the band's heyday in and around Lump's Fitchburg, Mass. stomping grounds.

April 2, 2008

Today's Hotness: Dananananaykroyd, The Answering Machine

[PHOTO CREDIT: Jim in Aberdeen] >> We apologize for the inactivity here. Our wireless Internet can't seem to function for more than 15 minutes at a time for some unknown reason. This makes us want to smash like Hulk. We thought upgrading our five-year-old router would solve the problem, but it has not. We may need a new wireless card. But we are due for a new machine at year-end, so perhaps we will just move up the time table on that. On to the rock.

>> Dananananaykroyd. If you don't read Drowned In Sound (which gave the band's forthcoming EP a perfect 10 rating) or any number of UK blogs hip to the underground then this is the first you're probably seeing that name. Stop reading this now and go listen to all the songs on the two-year-old band's MySpace wigwam now. The Glaswegian sextet's music is totally bananas, two-fisted rock pummelation, heavy-hitting but light on its feet. The ill fortune of the take-no-prisoners fight pop band's former label are well-documented; the bottom line is that the fall-out has kept the hotly tipped EP Sissy Hits out of the hands of fans for some time. It is finally slated for release in late April or early May (or even June, depending on which page of the label web site you read) on the London-based indie label Holy Roar. We don't imagine there is a North American label, so you need to budget in some funds to get the import, as this will likely be one of the biggest records of 2008. Dananananaykroyd -- pictured above and which, now that we finally stop to listen, sound like Glasgow's answer to the entirely awesome Meneguar -- have already sold out of two prior singles. Anyway, consider yourselves warned. Here's the triumphant a-side to the band's second single, which you can purchase at EMusic.

Dananananaykroyd -- "Some Dresses" -- "Some Dresses" b/w "Genuines LBS"
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[download the full single from EMusic here]

>> Manchester, England indie pop quartet The Answering Machine have been hard at work tracking demos in a "freezing cold old mill in the roughest part of Salford," according to a recent MySpace posting. The band has recorded as many as 15 tracks with input from L.A.-based producer Tony Hoffer, as those who listened to the band's interview with WOXY that we posted about last week knew already. Hoffer is famed for working with Beck, Air and Belle And Sebastian, among others. The Answering Machine has recorded 15 new demos and three are posted to the band's MySpace dojo. Chief among these is the infectious anthem "Your Home Address," which would make a big splash as a single, we expect. The band has also posted new versions of its first single "Oklahoma" and the track "Oh Christina." We don't know if it has been explicitly stated, but we are hoping all these demos are leading up to a full-length. The Answering Machine have a half-dozen gigs lined up for April, four in London and two in Manchester. Peruse all the dates at the MySpace linked supra.

>> Speaking of Meneguar... the superlative indie-punk quartet will tour Europe the two middle weeks of July. Europe is lucky. Members of the band have also launched a new photoblog (well, today there's a live video of Woods performing "Blood On The Sand" at Big Jar Books in Philly, so we guess it is more than just photos) to document its shows and specifically the acts it plays with. Check it out and add it to your RSS readers here.