June 29, 2008

Today's Hotness: The Jesus And Mary Chain, The Sea And Cake

The Jesus & Mary Chain
>> As a teen few things fired our imaginations more than Barbed Wire Kisses, the B-sides compilation from the notoriously surly, riot-inciting and now reunited Scottish act The Jesus And Mary Chain. The remarkable collection is stuffed with narcotic melodies and blasts of static and sonically references Bo Diddly and The Beach Boys. After exploring bands whose music we had presumed to be so extreme as to approach unlistenable -- and finding that in almost every instance that simply was not the case (Minor Threat, Public Enemy, for example) -- we were thrilled by the challenge posed by the dense, dark, trebly tracks of the aforementioned set. We remember circa 1989 an ill-fated vacation (mountain house with a toilet that flushed directly into the yard) during which we had this in our Walkman for days on end. Strangely, it was many years before we hunted down any of the rest of JAMC's catalogue, although we are certain we heard Psychocandy many times before shacking up with Mrs. Clicky Clicky, who has the title in her collection. Anyhoo, it was with great interest that we read Billboard's piece published here Wednesday that describes the forthcoming JAMC box set The Power Of Negative Thinking: B-sides And Rarities. The set will be issued by Rhino Sept. 30, and according to Billboard it is like Barbed Wire Kisses on steroids. Nineteen of 20 Barbed Wire Kisses tracks -- including our favorite, "Everything Is Alright When You Are Down" -- make the cut for inclusion among the box set's four discs, as do a number of previously unreleased tracks. The full track listing is at the link above. The Jesus And Mary Chain play four west coast dates in the U.S. in mid-July; check out the dates here.

>> Given our deep affinity for the band's mid-'90s output, we are always eager to give another record from The Sea And Cake a listen. And while we grow increasingly skeptical as years pass that a new set will resonate as strongly with us as The Biz or The Fawn, stranger things have happened. So we were excited by this news at Pantsfork that the Chicago quartet featuring Sam Prekop and Archer Prewitt will issue Oct. 21 the curiously titled Car Alarm. Longtime label Thrill Jockey will do the honors. You can review the track listing and album art for the band's seventh set, and read some fairly repetitive remarks (TJ, let us know if you need an editor), right here.

>> Some show listings at Earfarm remind us that Icy Demons will issue its third long-player next month. We initially wrote about it early last month here. The post-rock outfit's Miami Ice will be released on its own Obey Your Brain imprint, and the collection features contributions from Tortoise guitarist Jeff Parker and bassist and Prefuse 73/Sam Prekop collaborator Josh Abrams. Icy Demons will play Boston's Great Scott July 27, and if you are out on the Cape that week, fret not: the band plays The Beachcomber in Wellfleet the night before.

>> During our stint at the beach Aquarium Drunkard was getting things done. The blog published a very good interview with Julie Ocean and the first part of an interview with The Hold Steady's Craig Finn. We highly recommend reading both here and here respectively. Fun fact from the Finn feature: J. Mascis plays banjo on the forthcoming Hold Steady set Stay Positive, which is out next month.

June 25, 2008

From The Admin Cubicle: We Are On The Beach

Well, not yet. And not this beach. This beach is in France. And one can not drive to France from here, at least not in a single day. But anyhoo, we are going to the beach for the next few days to listen to indie rock with our toes in the sand. We'll be back. Next week look for a review of the Frightened Rabbit/Oxford Collapse show, among other things.

June 24, 2008

Today's Hotness: Darker My Love, Shannon McArdle

>> We give a resounding "yes" to the new Darker My Love video, despite the frustrating tempo. The song would be much more forceful with heads-down, four-on-the-floor drumming, but instead -- and somewhat surprising, in a good way -- DML's drummer lays down a loping mom-ma dad-dy with paired snare strikes on the twos and fours. That coupled with the echo on the vocal and a somewhat unsynchronized playback of the audio and video of the stream above makes the song somewhat disorienting. We just streamed "Two Ways Out" again with headphones on and realized that we must have had a bad stream before, because everything synchs up and makes a lot more sense. Weird. And we haven't even discussed the visual shtick, which takes that great Doors album cover, pulls it apart and reconstitutes it as a loose mobile of faces, hands and instruments. It's particularly neat-o when the band suddenly looks as if it is falling (reminds us of the great Cars video). As we reported here late last month, the L.A.-based quartet will issue its second set 2 Aug. 5 on Dangerbird. Between now and then the band has lined up a smattering of tour dates on the west coast. Darker My Love commences a tour supporting The Dandy Warhols Sept. 9. The acts play The Wilbur Theater in Boston Sept. 16. All tour dates are posted at the band's MySpace hacienda right here.

>> As we are still eagerly awaiting official word from Bar/None Records about the purported reissues of The Feelies catalog, we excitedly scanned an email from the venerable label this morning. Alas, there was no Feelies news. However, we were surprised to read therein about a forthcoming solo set from former Mendoza Line principal Shannon McArdle, whose debut long player Summer Of The Whore will be released Aug. 5. The set was realized last summer in the wake of Ms. McArdle's split from The Mendoza Line and ex-husband/bandmate Timothy Bracy. Bar/None characterizes the set as emotionally raw, which is really saying something, as the final Mendoza Line release 30 Year Low [our review here] was widely received as a "break-up record." Two tracks from Summer Of The Whore are posted here at McArdle's MySpace dojo and they sound terrific. Mendoza Line collaborator Adam Gold engineered the project and collaborated on arrangements, and so there's no big shift in tone or style -- the tracks sound, for lack of a better term, Mendoza-esque. The strident strummer "This Longing" is, however, relatively lush, and "Poison My Cup" hinges on some nice reverbs and murmured vocals. Brooklyn-based McArdle's set will be heralded as part of a triple record release party Aug. 19 at Mercury Lounge in Manhattan; Bar/None acts Starling Electric and Hotel Lights will also be celebrating new records.

>> You can get two things done today. You can buy the new Camper Van Beethoven set Popular Songs Of Great Enduring Strength And Beauty, which concatenates hits, near-hits and should-have-been hits including re-recorded versions of classic numbers from the band's Virgin Records releases. And then you can also write your congressman or Sir Richard Branson or EMI or whoever it is that won't return to the band the rights to said Virgin records. And when you write or call or email you can tell them to get their crap together and make it so that Our Beloved Revolutionary Sweetheart and the crucial (CRUCIAL) Key Lime Pie get reissued. Preferably expanded, too. Anyway, if you do those two things you'll have had a pretty full day. Anyhoo, one of the re-recorded jams was "When I Win The Lottery." Here's an MP3 of a great version of the number from the Live Music Archives at Archive.org.

Camper Van Beethoven -- "When I Win The Lottery (Live)" -- Live At Pipeline, Oct. 4, 1990
[right click and save as]
[buy Popular Songs Of Great Enduring Strength And Beauty here]

>> Wow.

June 23, 2008

Muxtape No. 11: You Better Memorize This Face

Vulcan Death Grip
[ART: C. Jones] And here we are up to Muxtape No. 11, which -- if we say so ourselves -- benefits greatly from a recent spree of ripping CDs to the new laptop. It's been far too long since we had listened to the entirety of the Owls and American Football records, both just exemplary from end to end. You can sit back and listen to the Muxtape at this link, and our musings regarding same are below.
1. Superchunk -- "Seed Toss" -- Tossing Seeds: Singles 89-91
(This is arguably the best Superchunk song, although we do entertain arguments in favor of "Makeout Bench" and "On The Mouth," which of course was not found on the album of that name but on the single for "Mower." Fuzz bass. Stand-offish Mac. Now that we think about it, "On The Mouth" is such a barn burner here's an MP3 of it. Right click and save as: Superchunk -- "On The Mouth" -- Incidental Music; buy Incidental Music from Newbury Comics here.)

2. ...And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead -- "Relative Ways" -- Source Tags & Codes
(This record was an atom bomb when it came out. Is there a line that looms larger in the Trail Of Dead pantheon than "It's OK, I'm a saint, I forgave your mistake?" Maybe. This record still holds up, although listening back to it we are struck with how loud the majority of it is. With all the discussion of listeners getting fatigued from listening to records mastered so loudly, it makes us wonder if that is why Source Tags & Codes fell out of favor with us for a couple years.)

3. Flin Flon -- "Rimouski" -- Chicoutimi
(Bass bass bass bass, bass bass bass bass, bass bass bass bass, bass bass bass bass. While we'd like to leave it at that, it is hard not to acknowledge the dizzying panning of the guitar at the very end. Sorry to detract from your spotlight, bass.)

4. Robert Fripp & David Byrne -- "Under Heavy Manners" -- God Save The King
(More bass and guitar, but different. A blog posted this a few years back, and it never fails to blow us away when we hear it. Byrne's performance in particular, commencing with the demented clarion call "Trumpets! I can hear trumpets!," is a delight to aurally behold.)

5. Bridges And Powerlines -- "The Maine" -- Ghost Types
(The tempo and stabby guitar at the beginning of this track somehow make this transition work. We've said it before, but we'll note again that the singer for this outfit has a voice that really reminds us of Robert Pollard. This one's got a big chorus and that sneaks up on you. With headphones on an acoustic guitar emerges in the left channel, and the drum production makes us think -- weirdly, of course -- of "Out Of Touch" by Hall & Oates. But then again, as a child of the golden age of MTV (truly, this actually had a golden age, we know it is hard to believe), Hall & Oates are frequently on our mind.)

6. Owls -- "Everyone Is My Friend" -- Owls
(Victor Villareal schools all guitarists on Owls' only long-player released five years or so ago. So much nuance, so much texture, so much melody. One album where the awesome song titles are actually matched by the quality of the songs. The set also features some of the best Kinsella lyrics. To whit: "I've been inventing you, and I continue inventing you.")

7. Night Of The Brain -- "The Theme" -- Wear This World Out
(The indie rock act of Super Collider's Cristian Vogel. This track is from an album that came out a little over a year ago, when we wrote "'The Theme' is very strong, a dreamy tune driven by a thumping bass line and draped with various computer-crafted textures.)

8. Lilys -- "Colorful Acts" -- The Lilys
(The Lilys was released in the UK and largely correlates with the U.S. release Precollections. That said, mixes are different and there are a couple different tracks, including this one. Nice drum production here. The hi-hat and an acoustic guitar are perfectly layered. Some surprisingly funky bass licks in part here. There's no overt hook in "Colorful Acts," but the whole thing works because, well, it's Heasley.)

9. All About Chad -- "I Can't Sleep" -- Something Pretty Beautiful compilation
(Here's a hook. We took to this track instantly when All About Chad's Down In Front was issued on Big Pop in the mid-'90s, but only when You Shall Know Our Discography posted this compilation did we realize that it had seen earlier release. Nothing too fancy, just good indie pop. We like when he sings "and I count the voices in my head, the sirens in the street...".)

10. American Football -- "Never Meant" -- American Football
(An excellent record we had forgotten about a bit. Tons of guitar. We're not sure if the words "honest" or "honestly" is in this song, but the words are repeated throughout the record and continually reinforce the earnest-and-sad-indie-boy tone throughout. We love the drums on this too, particularly the warm decay of the toms after the little opening pile-up. And when that very high clean guitar lick comes in at what must be the chorus, it is transformative. Goosebumps. Genius.)

11. Bonnie "Prince" Billy -- "Untitled" -- The Letting Go
(The final track to this set, which we finally purchased in a fit of post-"Old Joy" pro-Oldham sentiment. We probably react to this song most strongly because it reminds us most of the great Oldham records from the mid-'90s we love so much. Also, this sounds like The Dirty Three at first. And then there is the untidy but affecting staggered pairing of the vocal and guide vocal. There is a lot going on in this track, but it is still probably at least 50% silence.)

12. E.L.O. -- "Can't Get It Out Of My Head" -- Greatest Hits Vol. 2
(And somehow this sums it all up. A great Jeff Lynne ballad. This record was one of the three primary cassettes that were ever-present in the family car as we grew up, and all the frequent drives to get allergy shots from our pediatrician run together into one long memory of ELO, Don McLean and Frank Sinatra. We also recall one of our brothers changing the word "head" to "butt" at one point. Oh, the comedy of young boys.)

June 21, 2008

Today's Hotness: The Seascape, Frightened Rabbit, Feist

The Seascape
>> We've got ExitFare to thank for bringing upstart indie pop trio The Seascape to our attention in April. The young Darien, Connecticut-based act has posted a new track, "Things To Do," to its MySpace hutch. It's a deliciously scritchy number that echoes notable English post-punk. "Things To Do" teases with cascading arpeggiation and then dives into a punchy series of verses and choruses held aloft on a familiar Mancunian bass bounce. The tune bridles the enticing sprawl of earlier tracks The Seascape sent us, but is no less punchy. And the singer -- we're not sure which of the three band principles is the fronter -- sounds increasingly sure without approaching cocksure. The Seascape's development is particularly exciting, as the gents -- as far as know -- are all still in their teens, are already making notable music, and have potentially many years ahead before they have to hitch up to a corporate feedbag and throw money down the ol' mortgage chute. We look forward to hearing more, but for now catch the stream of "Things To Do" at the link below.

The Seascape -- "Things To Do (stream)" -- MySpace

>> Selkirk, Scotland's Frightened Rabbit continue to circumnavigate North America in support of its recent release The Midnight Organ Fight [review], and there is no shortage of bloggilation occurring in its wake. The quartet will perform during an acoustic set Sunday The Midnight Organ Fight in its entirety; the performance will occur at Long Beach, Calif.'s Fingerprints record store at 2PM. Fans who'd like to make the scene must RSVP by telephone. Talk about old, old fashioned. Fronter Scott Hutchison recently gave an interview to the blog I Am Fuel, You Are Friends that you can read right here. Therein Mr. Hutchison describes his writing process, what it's like performing wrenching material now written about experiences that grow ever more remote and his coloring-book strategy. Frightened Rabbit recorded a session for KEXP in Los Angeles on the 18th which will likely be available for streaming from the archives in a matter of days. The band plays Cambridge, Mass.'s T. T. The Bear's July 1 with new SubPop signees Oxford Collapse. We'll say it again: that's a hot line-up. We reviewed previous FR shows here and here. If you haven't done so yet, how about a taste of the FR?

Frightened Rabbit -- "Head Rolls Off" -- The Midnight Organ Fight
[right click and save as]
[buy The Midnight Organ Fight from Newbury Comics right here]

>> >> Posted here is a good Billboard profile of Arts + Crafts Records that examines what Feist's commercial success is enabling the label to do. We suppose someday we should buy a Feist record, if only because our man BW is a fan and we've enjoyed her appearances on late night television. Feist will be in Boston July 8 with the excellent Juana Molina, playing the open air mega-tent venue named after a bank overlooking the harbor. You know the one. Anyway, that also seems like an excellent bill.

June 18, 2008

Muxtape No. 10: The Same Records, The Same Shoes

Here is the long-promised explication to the most recent Muxtape, which we posted over the weekend. You can listen to it right here. And in fact we highly recommend that you do.
1. Elvis Costello and The Attractions -- "Welcome To The Working Week" -- My Aim Is True
(The most obvious mix starter ever? Ah, but it took us until Wednesday to post this, so it is likely you've already been welcomed to the working work by someone else. Short, sweet, hooks, social criticism. Why is this song never covered? It's dynamite. And it's got some great "oohs" in it).

2. Embrace -- "Building" -- Embrace
(The original emo band -- unless Rites Of Spring or Faith formed first? No matter. Embrace was Ian Mackaye's project between Minor Threat and Fugazi. This is one of the act's better tracks, although "Last Song" is probably their defining statement. Mackaye's singing in the first two verses is, well, a little wimpy, although we suppose the whole point was about being direct in dealing with emotional material. Anyway, things gradually build -- no pun intended -- and eventually we're treated to the Mackaye howl we've all come to know and love.)

3. Loomis -- "Conquistador" -- You're No Tiger, Meow, Meow, Meow
(Amazing post-hardcore track from midwestern act that reformed late last year for one reunion show. This number opened the band's 1996 set, and is an incredibly satisfying rocker in that "bad things happen to me" or "I am ill-equipped to thrive in contemporary society" sort of vein. "Conquistador" has a vocal melody that is never far from our memory.)

4. Bettie Serveert -- "Kid's Alright" -- Palomine
(Such a delicious guitar riff opens this one. We love the high bending pull that signals things are coming around again, and we were particularly thrilled when we figured out the tuning for this as a relatively new guitar player. Highlight from an amazing record whose execution seemed effortless. Palomine is the last rock record to have really amazing dynamic range, which is a weird thing for us to note when we consider the album, what with all the remarkable tracks it contains. This veteran act still soldiers on, but we're always most inspired by the electric sunshine on this set.)

5. Fields -- "Isabel" -- 7 From The Village
(Now London-based Fields is about to return to playing live at the end of this month with a new lineup. The quintet -- which may or may not be a quintet any longer -- led by Nick Peill released this remarkable EP in 2006, and we wrote about it recently here as part of our guest blogging stint over at Keep Hope Inside. This is one of the hotter numbers from the set, and we are eager to hear what the act's new record will sound like, despite not being that into some demos we hear earlier this year.)

6. Gastr Del Sol -- "Eight Corners" -- Unsorted
(This song should be the whole Muxtape. No, no, we should just go to Half.com and buy all the Gastr Del Sol records we don't have. Anyway, this song name-checks Western Avenue, and many other avenues. Given Gastr's Chicago orientation, we don't imagine the Western Avenue that is a couple blocks from where we are typing, but even so our ears perk up every time this number shuffles on. After the brief lyrical introduction this turns into a hypnotic, spare piano exercise that draws you further and further down the rabbit hole. And then suddenly, woodwinds and electronic bleeps. Astonishing.)

7. Dosh -- "The Magic Stick" -- Wolves And Wishes
(Here we are at the center of the concept we were most interested in exploring with this Muxtape: that the new Dosh record -- which is excellent and which we fear we'll never find the time to review -- rests somewhere along a heretofore unimagined axis between Gastr Del Sol and Caribou. Doesn't this Dosh track seem of a piece with the Gastr number? We think so. Dosh is Martin Dosh, sometime sideman to Andrew Bird and an accomplished multi-instrumentalist in his own right. Dosh has released a number of records, but prior to hearing a track from the new record on WMBR some weeks back we'd never heard of him. We need to "get out more," musically.)

8. Caribou -- "Eli" -- Andorra
(Not sure if this song sells the whole axis idea we posit above, but it is one of our favorites from Andorra. The guitar lick it rides in on really sounds like the beginning of The Notwist's song "Neon Golden." Speaking of, The Notwist record came out Tuesday, and we hope to get out of the office at lunch tomorrow to score it at Newbury Comics.)

9. Creeping Weeds -- "Long Way Down" -- Creeping Weeds EP
(An odd Southern California '70s rock vibe permeates the verse of this very nice rocker from this Philadelphia-based act discovered via Jon Solomon's roundly excellent This Is Local Support podcast. Creeping Weeds also have a full-length called We Are All Part Of A Dream You're Having out; this EP was from 2004, if we recall correctly. We think the west coast psych/respectable Eagles feel makes it a nice pairing with the Caribou track.)

10. Archer Prewitt -- "Final Season" -- White Sky
(Mr. Prewitt never executes the way we'd like him to. This is primarily because his gentlemanly pop doesn't have much edge to it. But darn it if the songs don't stick in our head all the time. We just recently re-ripped In The Sun to our hard drive and listened through it for the first time in years. We bought the disc along with Wilco's Being There on a business trip to Kansas City 11 years ago and whiled away many, many autumn hours in a downtown office building listening to those discs. Strangely happy memories, perhaps because this is strangely happy music.)

11. Johnny Foreigner -- "Absolute Balance" -- Waited Up Til It Was Light
(We had to include this track, which we singled out in our review of the record last weekend. When singer Alexei Berrow starts shouting in the middle distance at the end of the track it gives us goose bumps. Johnny Foreigner trades almost exclusively in anthems, and few of them get more anthemic than this. Five solid minutes of joy.)

12. Diagram -- "Remember The Days" -- History Of The White Flag EP
(We thought we'd round out the mix by extending the ethereal joy of the Johnny Foreigner track with even more shoegazing electronic brilliance. Diagram broke up a couple years back, and we did this blog item in February where we caught up on what music the various members are making now. Which reminds us -- we think another similar and very good Philly act Relay is opening the Frightened Rabbit/Oxford Collapse show here in Cambridge, Mass. July 1. That's a hell of a bill).

June 17, 2008

Today's Hotness: The Hold Steady, Dananananaykroyd

The Hold Steady
>> We twittered this yesterday or the day before upon receiving our third comment from the curious blog policing outfit Web Sheriff relating to Brooklyn's finest, The Hold Steady. The Web Sheriff has been leaving comments here (and we are sure elsewhere) thanking us for not posting any pre-release material from the quintet's Stay Positive, which is available digitally from today and sees physical issuance next month. After thanking us, Web Sheriff launches into a curiously loquacious bit of marketing, noting that Stay Positive is available to stream in full at The Hold Steady's MySpace dojo and at NME; that the single "Sequestered In Memphis" has been available to stream; and, well, you can read the whole thing right here. What's odd is that the message crosses a line from the usual nanny-ish policing into, well, something approaching positive. It is so strange that we wonder if the whole thing is a piss-take and a play on the new album's title.

All of which brings us back around to an update on our original item: it appears that EMusic is not selling Stay Positive today, as had been a plan for a while. We guess Vagrant realized that selling unprotected MP3s at EMusic for $.25 per song -- at least at our subscription level -- while selling less desirable, DRM-hampered tracks for $1 a piece at ITunes didn't really incentivize fans to buy at ITunes' higher price point. Indeed, AmazonMP3 -- which sells unprotected MP3s for $.89 a pop -- doesn't have Stay Positive yet either. All of which reminds us of a funny gag with Big Al Dunbar in the popular situation comedy "What's Happening." But anyway, our point is we hope to never buy another .M4A file again in our lives if we can help it. So we'll wait until July 17, when we'll get the physical release and the various bonus tracks Billboard told you about here last week. The Hold Steady is playing some sort of private show at The Paradise Rock Club in Boston on June 26 that has something to do with Going.com. In fact, we joined Going.com to figure out how we could get into the show, but still haven't figured it out, which isn't that big a deal because we'll be on vacation that week. The Hold Steady kicks off a seven-week strand of tour dates in Baltimore June 27; check out all of the band's tour dates and catch the stream of Stay Positive at the aforementioned MySpace location.

>> Although we'd heard rumors late last week and caught a glimpse of confirmation via the label's MySpace casa over the weekend, it wasn't until very early today that Best Before Records sent official word that it had signed Glaswegian indie rock luminaries Dananananaykroyd. We first wrote about the act here in April. Better still, two-drummer-touting Dananananaykroyd's long-delayed Sissy Hits EP -- which has languished for months and months due to the insolvency of its previous label Jealous -- has finally been issued, not by Best Before but by London-based Holy Roar Records. At six songs selling for five British pounds, this will be an expensive import for U.S. fans, whose numbers will surely be legion once people start picking up the bracing, Dischord-ish post-hardcore anthems these six kids are putting down. You can stream four tracks from Sissy Hits at the sextet's MySpace outpost right here, and better still you can download the thing from EMusic right here. Do it! NME reported last week that the band -- which has recently weathered some line-up changes -- will be recording its debut full-length in August. In case you're not reading between the lines, Dananananaykroyd now is on the same label as our beloved Johnny Foreigner. Keep your fingers crossed for a U.S. tour.

June 15, 2008

Review: Johnny Foreigner | Waited Up 'Til It Was Light [MP3]

They are no longer merely one of Britain's most tireless (and gin-swilling) touring rock concerns: Johnny Foreigner just released what is to date the record of the year. The Birmingham-based trio's massive debut long-player is thronged with careening guitar anthems, its 13 tracks shot through with typewriter ribbon-lengths of lyrics that collectively present a contemporary mythology of the band's beloved city. And they're all whip-smart: opener "Lea Room" -- named for the trio's van driver -- leads with the line "OK, flattery will get you everywhere, we're bored" and slyly warns "get out before the ship goes down." The listed closer "Absolute Balance" evidences singer Alexei Berrow's admiration of Craig Finn and The Hold Steady, as the track transmogrifies the Brooklyn act's "Killer Parties" into a summation of the experiences caged within Waited Up Til It Was Light. There is plenty of clever: the brilliant hidden song at the end of the album is titled "The Hidden Song At The End Of The Album" (the pop gem was issued previously as part of the demos collection I Like You Mostly Late At Never with the title "This End. Is A Beginning.").

The truth is we steeled ourselves to the possibility that Waited Up Til It Was Light would not live up to the expectations set by Johnny Foreigner's superlative 2007 EP Arcs Across The City. This was for a few reasons. We met the band in New York just as they wrapped the sessions for the full-length, and they were all sick. The band also made what seemed like an unusual choice for producer: while most of our favorite American indie acts worked with Agnello, Albini, Robbins or Weston, Johnny Foreigner threw its lot in with The Machine, a producer whose prior credits included Clutch and Armor For Sleep. Our concern was that he might go too far scrubbing up the trio's sound. And then the initial critical reception for the record in the UK was solid, but not ecstatic.

Happily, our fears were unfounded: Waited Up Til It Was Light is not slack, sanitized or suppressed. Instead the tracks burst with lacerating guitar, blissful feedback, tight vocal interplay and harmonies, and a fair amount of shouting. Overt production trickery is limited to some segues between tracks and some squishing and looping of guitars. Gang choruses (not our favorite) are deployed here and there, but given the band's camaraderie with Cardiff, Wales indie pop concern Los Campesinos! -- leading proponents of the gang chorus today -- we are not surprised to hear some influence manifested (the latter act was actually slated to come and provide backup vocals for "The Hidden Track..." but were apparently waylaid by a late plane). The denouement of "Absolute Balance" recycles the smacking, canned drum beat from "Salt, Peppa and Spinderella" (and the bridge of "The End And Everything After") before closing out with a rant from Berrow buried among vapor trails of guitar that loop off into the periphery of the left channel while a simple, poignant piano figure closes out the primary proceedings.

Songs start, stop, stutter and slam. Lyrics continue to memorably concern themselves with themselves, as well as pointy-shoed scenesterettes, retail wage slaves, and the rest of the frothing mass of the night-clubbing class. Berrow's words regularly penetrate the fourth wall and double back, dragging within their orbits failed romances, scene seances and social criticism. In the stellar "Cranes And Cranes And Cranes And Cranes" Berrow bemoans the impact of imperial barmen ("your boyfriend owns the bar we drink, your boyfriend owns everything") and urban gentrification ("why'd you want to live there if there's nothing but housing?") on Birmingham.

After signing to Best Before the trio's Arcs Across The City EP [review here] and "Our Bipolar Friends" single made it into the U.S. market laterally via EMusic, but the faucet seems to have been shut off, so you'll need to order Waited Up Til It Was Light from the U.K. or Japan. While you wait for that to arrive, read Alexei's song-by-song explication of the record at Drowned In Sound here. The set was issued June 2. The third single from Waited Up Til It Was Light will be for "Salt, Peppa and Spinderella," a song that surely will launch the phrase "turn on the real drums" among the hipster class when it is released Sept. 1 with the requisite remixes (we'd be shocked if one such remix didn't come from within the Los Campesinos! camp). Johnny Foreigner films the video for the track in London next week before launching headlong into the summer's endless strand of festivals. You can review all of the band's live engagements at its MySpace domicile right here.

Johnny Foreigner -- "Cranes And Cranes And Cranes And Cranes" -- Waited Up Til It Was Light
[right click and save as]
[buy Waited Up Til It Was Light at RecordStore.co.uk right here]
[buy Arcs Across The City and "Our Bipolar Friends" from EMusic here]

Johnny Foreigner: Internets | MySpace | YouTube | Flickr

June 14, 2008

That Was The Show That Was: Mission Of Burma | Paradise Rock Club

Mission Of Burma, Paradise Rock Club, Boston, Massachusetts
It is consistently tempting to lead a piece about a Mission Of Burma show with some acknowledgment of the band's age. This, of course, is due to the fact that few -- if any -- bands have been able to write strong material and offer electrifying performances into middle age (of course, the band did have a nineteen-year break). Today's elder statesmen of commercial rock (Mick, Keef, Pete, Paul, Bob etc.) are largely expected to underperform, and endeavor in excercises that only occasionally redeem themselves. But Mission Of Burma's remarkable resuscitation in 2002 has proved so artistically successful that it calls into question not how is it that one of the best bands going be comprised of middle-aged guys, but why is it that so few performers of the vintage of Messrs. Conley, Miller and Prescott produce -- and recreate live -- compelling, intelligent and powerful music? Put more simply: why does everybody else who sticks with rock music for the long haul suck, when Burma made it look so easy last night?

Thursday night was the first of a handful of dates this summer during which Mission Burma performs one of its two landmark pre-caesura commercial releases in its entirety. Our friend KoomDogg attended Thursday night's re-enactment of Signals, Calls & Marches and dubbed it a "kicking of the ass" in an email to us the next morning [read his review here]. At 11:30 last night the storied Boston trio hit a spine-tingling crescendo as it powered through "That's How I Escaped My Certain Fate" and closed its performance of its 1982 full-length Vs. The deservedly hyped performance of the album front-to-back was the centerpiece of about 90 minutes of music that included two encores. The performers were loose, Prescott was typically loquacious and irreverent, old scenesters were in the house (and on-stage between sets) and Burma did not disappoint anywhere along the sonic strand from "Secrets" to "Fate;" "Weatherbox" got a particularly bracing workout. The encores included "Devotion" from Signals, Calls & Marches and highpoints from the band's 2004 set The Obliterati "2wice," "Spider's Web" and "Let Yourself Go." All the while the band hopped, howled, swore, stomped and grew sweat circles across their shirts.

Mission Of Burma continues its sporadic schedule of promotional dates for the reissues tonight in New York; we've listed all the dates we're aware of below. We shot some pictures of last night's show and you can check them out here. We're no great shakes with a camera, but this should give you an idea of what it was like pressed against the front of Conley's side of the stage with the house-sound woofers pushing the air so hard at pants level that our pants were jarred with each kick drum thud.

Mission Of Burma -- "This Is Not A Photograph" -- Signals, Calls & Marches
[right click and save as]
[buy the reissues of Signals, Calls & Marches, Vs., and The Horrible Truth About Burma from Matador right here]

Mission Of Burma: Internets | MySpace | YouTube | Flickr

06/14 -- Bowery Ballroom -- New York, NY (Signals, Calls & Marches)
06/15 -- Bowery Ballroom -- New York, NY (Vs.)
06/27 -- First Unitarian Church -- Philadelphia, PA (Signals, Calls & Marches)
06/28 -- Black Cat -- Washington, D.C. (Vs.)
07/18 -- Pitchfork Festival -- Chicago, IL (Vs.)
07/19 -- Bohemian National Home -- Detroit, MI (Signals, Calls & Marches)

June 11, 2008

Review: Sebadoh | Bubble And Scrape [Expanded Reissue]

The story of Sebadoh, like that of sorta-precursor Dinosaur Jr. which featured 'Doh principal Lou Barlow on bass guitar, hinges on the interplay of different personalities, or -- to put it more simply -- who was in the band when. And so for the same reason certain people prefer Gary Young-era Pavement, our tastes for all things Sebadoh tend toward recordings made with original member Eric Gaffney. Yet paradoxically it is not because we are such big fans of Mr. Gaffney's compositions (each member of Sebadoh writes and sings his own material). Instead, we feel like his influence raises everbody's game, or at least provided a quirky spark that bled through everyone else's material. Perhaps we are reacting a little too strongly -- even now -- to the eventual, ahem, wimpiness we perceived in Barlow's ballads going forward. However, on Bubble And Scrape, the final Sebadoh release featuring Mr. Gaffney, all three songwriters -- including Jason Loewenstein -- are in the proverbial zone. Ballads rock, rockers rock, everything rocks. It's a brilliant record, and despite the conventional wisdom that favors Sebadoh III, it is in our opinion the best Sebadoh record.

It is notable that Bubble And Scrape flows as well as it does, because poring over the original liners after more than a decade without giving them a thought reminds us that the songwriters roughly take turns contributing a single's worth of tracks. Barlow leads off with "Soul And Fire" and "Two Years And Two Days," then Gaffney gets in a couple hits. Loewenstein bats cleanup with another pair and then the cycle roughly repeats. Since he wasn't an original member, it is curious that our favorite Sebadoh track is Loewenstein's "Happily Divided" (followed closely thereon by many other numbers on this record, including "HomeMade," "Two Years And Two Days," and "Think (Let Tomorrow Bee)," which are all Barlow jams). This may be because his compositions here split the difference between Gaffney's cracked compositions and Barlow's increasingly, errrr, songwritery songs.

This expanded reissue packs in nearly as many bonus tracks as there are originals, and many of these are dynamite, including demos or alternate takes of "Happily Divided," "Soul And Fire," "Sister," "Flood" and "Bouquet For A Siren." The additional version of "Happily Divided" stands out as a highlight, deliciously adorned as it is with out numerous out-of-tune guitars, glass-shattering quasi-snare and tambourine percussion, and stoned/depraved backing vocals. The original lineup of Sebadoh will perform the whole of Bubble And Scrape July 18 in Chicago at a music festival sponsored by Pitchforkmedia. Domino releases the deluxe reissue of this absolutely essential '90s indie rock album July 8.

Sebadoh -- "Soul And Fire (Acoustic Demo)" -- Bubble And Scrape [Expanded Reissue]
Sebadoh -- "HomeMade (Live)" -- The Offramp, Seattle, WA, 8/6/93
[right click and save as]
[pre-order Bubble And Scrape from Newbury Comics right here]

Sebadoh: Internerdz | MySpace | YouTube | Flickr

June 10, 2008

Today's Hotness: Frightened Rabbit, Kompakt, The Breeders

>> Last.FM here has an exclusive on the new Frightened Rabbit video for the wonderful and romantic b-side "Set You Free." But we're embedding it above because, well, you're already here, aren't you? The song was the flip to the Selkirk, Scotland-based quartet's "Head Rolls Off," which was issued March 3. "Set You Free" is apparently a cover by a '90s club music act N-Trance, which we did not know until reading FR's MySpace bulletin. Further, the video for "Set You Free" apparently is a bit of an homage to the original video. We haven't seen the original video, but we find it hard to believe that it is any better than what is above. Frightened Rabbit's latest single, "Fast Blood" b/w "Soon Go," was issued in North America today, or so the Fat Cat label would have us believe. The band makes its return to Cambridge, Mass. July 1, when it will play at TT The Bear's Place with The Oxford Collapse. We'll be there, and we may have a ticket or two to give away when all is said and done. We'll let you know, OK?

>> Today is a day for rejoicing, for today the first wave of titles from the catalog of superlative Cologne, Germany-based electronic music label Kompakt and its many affiliates has become available at Emusic. Click this link for EMusic's editorial introduction. Read on for our take on what you should be listening to among the first 17 titles EMusic has licensed. First and foremost is the Pop Ambient series. We're pleased as punch to see that the 2008 edition (the compilation is issued annually and is a reliable source for totally blissed-out electronic Candyland dreams) is available [link] and we used our final 12 downloads of this month's subscription allotment to snag the set, which includes contributions from the usual suspects including Markus Guentner, Thomas Fehlmann and The Field's Axel Willner [remember him?]. Buying the Pop Ambient compilations -- and really any of Kompakt's wares -- is a pricey proposition, what with the exchange rate and the air mail shipping and whatnot. Which is why EMusic's offering is so awesome. Kaito's trancey gems Special Love [link] and A Hundred Million Light Years (link -- the last Kompakt CD we bought, incidentally) also warrant strong consideration. EMusic has said it will continue to add more Kompakt titles in the future, but just in case Kompakt pulls a Rolling Stones you'd best get over there and start downloading you summer beach chill-out jamasauruses. Incidentally, we reviewed Special Love for Junkmedia here a million years ago. And here is a superlative track from our copy of Pop Ambient 2005, Mr. Guentner's skittering dreamer "Innenfeld."

Markus Guentner -- "Innenfeld" -- Pop Ambient 2005
[right click and save as]
[buy Kompakt MP3s from EMusic here]

>> Bradley's Almanac's newly posted recordings of last weeks Breeders show at The Paradise Rock Club have excellent sound quality and the performances qualify as rollicking. And of course the banter is hilarious. Do yourself a favor and make time to listen to the set, which spans the Deal sisters' careers and makes for a bracing listen. Download the MP3s at The 'Nac here or stream the whole joint at Hype Machine right here. Serious American good rock here: "Iris," "Huffer," and all your favorites. Zesty!

June 8, 2008

Muxtape No. 9: Tired Of All The Largesse

Tired Of All The Largesse
Welcome to the weekly Muxtape. More auditory spelunking into the '90s, and into things that sound like they came from the '90s. You can stream all the tracks at this link, and we've jotted some thoughts about each track below, as is our wont.
1. Coco B's -- "Give Up The Money/1982" -- RCRDLBL download
(After learning of the whole Retriever/Coco B's connection last week we dove into the latter band's stuff and have been enjoying it. After our third or fourth run through this track it finally occurred to us why we dug it so much. Put simply, Coco B's 2008 = Haywood 1994. Even one of the Haywood guys think so. This one is a rocker with lots of guitars; it even has a slight hint of something Walter Schreifels-ish in the vocal.)

2. Versus -- "Glitter Of Love" -- Secret Swingers
(A song filled with many guitar lines we stole at one point or another. After re-ripping our Versus records it was hard to pick which track to include. We thought pulling something off The Stars Are Insane would be a little obvious, so here is a superlative mid-period track from the band's 1996 set. Tons of interlaced guitars and gratuitous movie star references. This one has a big lyrical payoff at the end when Richard Baluyut shouts "we can try to pretend that we're still in love.")

3. Clown Down -- "Living Alone" -- Living Alone
(Before the guys in Clap Your Hands Say Yeah!! who are not Alec Ounsworth were in The Clap, they lived in Boston and had a band called Clown Down. We never saw them live but a friend of ours who is a friend of theirs gave us a CD-R of what were purported to be the band's demos. Turns out the demos were this record, the title track of which you can hear here is one hot bummer. Some nice "oohs" in here; it's surprisingly hard to get those right.)

4. Bedhead -- "Bedside Table" -- What Fun Life Was
(Two band names in a row with an internal rhyme scheme. We also recently re-ripped all of our Bedhead and have had a nice time rediscovering certain tracks. This one is amazingly peaceful at first with its smiling little ride cymbal-enabled trudge around the corners of your mind. Of course, the track has a tumultuous ending, but you didn't just think they were going to stand around with all of those Telecasters and not rock out eventually, did you?)

5. Joey Sweeney -- "Largesse" -- Heartache Baseball
(More ride cymbal in here, that must be why we sequenced things this way. We almost went with "My Name Is Rich," which we think about when we're waiting at a bar alone, or "Fixing Coffee," which we think about when, well, that one's kind of obvious. But this quiet number has a nice feeling of resignation to it, and it seems to go nicely with a morning in the middle of a heat wave. We really like the talking in the background toward the end that stretches the space. One of Sweeney's best lines is in here, namely "Why do you want a disease when you know we could get by on a cold?")

6. Sebadoh -- "Happily Divided (Demo)" -- Bubble And Scrape [Expanded Reissue]
(This has always been our favorite Sebadoh jam. The new expanded reissue of Bubble And Scrape is almost out in the U.S. and it is chock full of interesting extras, but perhaps the best is this demo. Although the demo of "Soul And Fire" is nice as well. We had high hopes for Bakesale after hearing "Skull" on the Hotel Massachusetts compilation, but that record never was able to eclipse our affection for Bubble And Scrape.)

7. Come -- "Shoot Me First" -- Near Life Experience
(Relatively rare instance of journeyman musician Chris Brokaw taking the lead vocal on a Come track, which is understandable: Brokaw's voice is adequate, but Zedek's has always been singularly emotive and powerful. And maybe that's why Mr. Brokaw has so many great lines in this song, as at the time he may have had fewer outlets for them. "When you laugh I can see everything I think you used to see in me.")

8. The Sea And Cake -- "The Sporting Life" -- The Fawn
(Bit of a hard contrast here. This track is as light as "Shoot Me First" is dark. It's sort of got the "Thriller" bass line going. In our opinion this song epitomizes the best of the more electronic efforts from the veteran Chicago foursome. The song has especially strong impact in the context of all of the amazing guitar-based tracks on the band's prior set The Biz, a copy of which should exist in every household in America.)

9. Tricky -- "The Lovecats" -- Vulnerable
(A nice cover and an attempt at an appropriate segue to the Willie Williams jam.)

10. Willie Williams -- "Armagideon Time" -- Version Dread Dub Specialist
(The original version of the track made more popular -- at least to us -- by The Clash.)

11. The Remote Viewer -- "It's So Funny How We Don't Talk Anymore" -- Let Your Heart Draw A Line
(Nice emo electronic jam. We should buy this record; can't recall where this MP3 came from.)

12. Seam -- "Autopilot" -- The Problem With Me
(Very purposeful and well-crafted devlopment in this track. Persistent layering. Hypnotic. The soundtrack to the blizzard of 1995.)

That Was The Show That Was: The Field | Great Scott

The Field and band
Many fans of electronic music have likely experienced a live performance comprised of little more than a man staring intently at his laptop and at least appearing oblivious to his surroundings. And so the prospect of Stockholm-based Axel Willner's The Field performing its music augmented by a band -- as happened very, very early this morning at Great Scott -- was a particularly enticing proposition. It turns out that the spectacle was still little more than the old man-and-his-machine trope, although Mr. Willner was indeed augmented by two cohorts who shifted roles providing drums, electric bass and a second machine of some sort (a sequencer mixer deck thingy? our knowledge of such hardware is, ahem, minimal). Fortunately, the minimal electronic music that is the musical currency of The Field is indeed sublime. The live sound from our perch directly in front of the house sound desk was visceral and perfect, and the young crowd -- smaller than we expected, given the deserved renown of the performer; how far that performer had traveled to be there; and how rare in Boston such appearances by said performer are -- was well into it.

The only disappointment of the show was its relative brevity. Granted, The Field's compositions regularly stretch past the five-minute mark, and the show lasted some 40 minutes. But even so, we only recall a handful of tracks being administered to the crowd by Willner, et al. According to our sharp-minded show-going cohort The Urban Legend, the set list was:

The Little Heart Beats So Fast
Over The Ice

It felt strange for The Field to be breaking down its gear and leaving the stage a few minutes before 1AM. Perhaps we misjudged and the trio came back for a second set. But it certainly didn't feel like that was going to happen, so we packed it in. No video of last night's show has hit the YouTubes yet, but there is a good, short clip of The Field doing "Everyday" at the Paradise Rock Club in April right here. We shot some pictures last night, and you can view a Flickr slideshow right here.

[Link to song at Imeem removed because the embed broke our layout]
Listen to tracks by The Field at Hype Machine right here.

The Field: Internerdsz | MySpace | YouTube | Flickr

June 5, 2008

Review: Languis | Fractured [MP3]

To paraphrase the great comic, actor and raconteur Jimmie Walker, the central question regarding Fractured is, "what it is?" According to the one-sheet presser, the set collects the first three singles from Languis, as well as various B-sides and
extra tracks. Yet the L.A. foursome's own Internet Home Page refers to Fractured as featuring "15 new songs." The reason the distinction is important is because the most intriguing thing about Languis's new record is the breadth of styles it contains: from dance-floor banger ("Traffic Light") to acoustic strummer ("This Is Not A Test"), from anthemic ambient downer ("In Search Of Summer") to post-transcendental Southern California rock -- right down to the sitar -- ("Page 17"). Such variety would make sense if in fact the record collects various recordings made at different times and reflecting certain stylistic developments. But it would almost be more impressive if the Fractured was conceived as a whole.

There is also the small matter of the set being released by Plug Research, the electronic music label we most closely associate with the soulful bleeps of Dntel and the light techno of John Tejada. With its variety and guitar-driven numbers, we just wouldn't immediately consider Fractured something that Plug Research would release. Then again, over the last several years more and more Morr Music acts have been using acoustic guitar in their recordings, and we used to consider Morr simply a clicktronica label. There are a few highlights on Fractured, including the affecting instrumental "Mending Spear, Part 3," the stunning "In Search Of Summer" (whose sole lyric is "she won't take me back" repeated over, and over, and over -- it's amazing), and the powerful, melodica-driven instrumental closer "Everything We Set Out To Be And Never Did." The band was cool enough to let us offer any track we'd like for download, and so it is with pleasure that we offer below "In Search Of Summer," what with the season almost upon us (in fact, a heat wave is prognosticated for Boston this coming weekend). We reviewed Languis' Other Desert Cities EP two years ago right here. Fractured was released May 6.

Languis -- "In Search Of Summer" -- Fractured
[right click and save as]
[buy Fractured from Plug Research right here]

Languis: Internets | MySpace | YouTube | Flickr

June 4, 2008

Today's Hotness: Coco B's, The Hold Steady, Pink Floyd

Coco B's
>> Loyal readers may recall a couple pleas [1, 2] for MP3s of an old Retriever single from 1995. As we noted in March we finally thought to search for the erstwhile L.A.-based act's stuff on EMusic and turned up a very nice compilation track. And then we forgot about Retriever again until this past weekend, when we wondered what would happen if we simply Googled around a bit for information about the band. And lo and behold, the Internet served up all the information and MP3s we could ask for, and provided links so we could buy even more Retriever goodness. And along the way we learned that Kevin Retriever has a new band you may have heard of called Coco B's, which were featured just the other day here at the RCRDLBL music blog thingamajig. The good news for us is that Coco B's sound just like Retriever, so we're totally on board with the quartet. RCRDLBL has a few Coco B's MP3s you can download at the link supra (definitely pull down and listen to "Give Up The Money/1982," which sounds a bit like a gentler Quicksand). But the link we'd like you to really think about clicking is this one, where you can download a whole lotta Coco B's demos, and also a whole lotta Retriever jams, including the one that got us started on this hunt in the first place, "Q-Tip" (released on a split single with Rock Band #47 in 1995). Since they're offering, we're also linking to "Evil K," the hot number we discovered on the comp at EMusic. Coco B's next gig is June 12 at Alex's Bar in Long Beach, CA.

Retriever -- "Q-Tip" -- Retriever/Rock Band #47 split single
Retriever -- "Evil K" -- Greatest Moments Of Doubt
[right click and save as]
[make yourself happy and buy Coco B's and Retriever records right here]

>> Did you know that The Hold Steady's forthcoming fourth full-length Stay Positive will be issued digitally by EMusic June 17? Well, it looked like it was true for a couple shining days, but now an update to the 17Dots blog indicates that the chaps at Vagrant are having second thoughts. Even so, this updated blog post hasn't completely recanted the claim yet, so there is still some hope that in fewer than two weeks you will be knee deep in Mssrs. Finn and Kubler's freshest batch of boozing anthems. We were not initially taken with the lead single "Sequestered In Memphis" (would it kill you guys to turn up the rhythm guitar just a little more in the verse?) but it has since wangled its way into the forefront of our minds with its ultra-simple lyrical hook. The physical release of Stay Positive is slated for July 15. "Yeah, sure, I'll tell my story again..."

>> We love the weird post-Barrett, pre-Dark Side Of The Moon Pink Floyd catalog, as well as bootleg recordings of the quartet during the period (which were showing up online with surprising frequency this spring). So it was with great interest we read this NME item about Floyd guitarist David Gilmour deigning to perform June 15 with a Floyd tribute act for a performance of the 1970 epic Atom Heart Mother. You know, the one with the cow on it. Atom Heart Mother includes two very long proggy pieces, and then three short songs, one written by each of the writing Floyd members. It is really a wonderful record. One of the shorter tunes is Gilmour's ballad "Fat Old Sun," which was covered by the early '90s Montreal-based four-tracking concern Mennen with great, gritty success. We really thought this track came from a Purr Mama Resistor cassette comp, but we just checked the site and it isn't on any of them. We must have gotten it straight from the source. Check it out.

Mennen -- "Fat Old Sun" -- A Four-Track Joint
[right click and save as]

>> Notable British indie rockers Fields will make their live return at the end of the month, playing the Proud Gallery in London June 28. A MySpace blog post indicates the band will be playing new material. Who's going to YouTube some of that for us?

June 3, 2008

Muxtape No. 8: Let Them Eat Rock

The Upper Crust(jay_elliott)[PHOTO: Jay Elliot] Better late than never, below is the explication for our weekly Muxtape, which went online Sunday. This mix features a number of big rockers, and we'd deem the overall vibe as one of exuberance. That said, the tone cools out as the other end of the mix approaches -- or at least it was intended to. For some reason the last few songs aren't working right now, and in their stead the mix just starts over with "Let Them Eat Rock." But we're OK with that. We've thrown in a couple links to MP3s and YouTube clips in an effort to make up for the technical difficulties and lateness, so read on and start right-clicking links. Finally, here is the link to the Muxtape.
1. The Upper Crust -- "Let Them Eat Rock" -- Entitled
(The introduction to this song, in which the band is introduced, is wildly entertaining. As is this band; The Upper Crust dress like foppish 18th Century French aristocrats. Their stage names include Lord Bendover and Jackie Kickassis. And they sound like AC/DC. Really what else is there to say? This song rocks most steadfastly. Improve your life now by watching the video here.)

2. Latimer -- "Citizen Jive" -- Live From Sour City
(Many drives to, from and around the City of Brotherly Love in the late '90s were soundtracked by this excellent album that melds The Stooges and David Bowie and some other influences into a formidable alloy of indie rock. We don't think Latimer, which was signed to Dave Allen's World Domination label, lasted out the '90s, as we recall seeing what was supposed to be a final show at Philadelphia Khyber Pass about 10 years ago. This number in particular opens the excellent Live From Sour City (which, of course, is not live) and it is an impressive call to arms, or, for us, a call to beers. And, hey, this YouTube thing is amazing: here is a clip we've never seen before -- with miserable sound quality -- for the track "Used Cars" from the same record.)

3. Juliana Hatfield -- "Raisans" -- Forever Baby EP
(Yeah, a Dinosaur Jr. cover. Pretty darn good one, too. Why isn't Dinosaur covered more often? We don't know. Perhaps guitarists are intimidated by Mascis' soloing? This doesn't seem to perturb Ms. Hatfield, who was just introduced to us the year this EP came out via her contributions to The Lemonheads' It's A Shame About Ray. Her vocals make the album for us. "I JUST WANT A BIT PART IN YOUR LIFE!" and all that. And the line "tired of getting high." Anyway, this is a nice take on the Dino classic, and we give a tip of the hat to Idolator for bringing it to our attention a couple years back.)

4. The Get Up Kids -- "Last Place You Look" -- Four-Minute Mile
(This song is huge. The vocal performance is amazing. The production is great. All of the missteps the band made before and after this are completely absolved by this song. When singer Matt Pryor belts those last lines it is among the most exuberant, recklessly in-the-moment crescendoes in rock and roll music. There is a certain caliber of amazing song that towers over the others and instills in us a desire to hit ourself in the head with a sneaker, a la Jeff Spicoli in the popular American film "Fast Times At Ridgemont High." This is one of those songs.)

5. The Strokes -- "I Can't Win" -- Room On Fire
(Relentlessly upbeat. Mrs. Clicky Clicky always thinks this track is "Last Night" when it comes on, which is understandable. The Strokes: where did it all go wrong? A friend of ours saw the band as they were just breaking at a club gig in Chicago before Is This It? came out and likened the experience to seeing Nirvana on the cusp. Not so hot anymore. That said, the first Albert Hammond, Jr. solo record was solid and we are eager to hear the second, which is titled Como Te Llamas? and will be issued July 8. Care for a preview MP3? Here's the track "GfC," which we haven't heard yet, but we will be disappointed if the main chords in the jam aren't the aforementioned G, F and C."GfC" -- well, the link is already dead, so go check at Hype Machine.)

6. Mazarin -- "My Favorite Green Hill" -- A Tall-Tale Story Line
(Fuzzy, swirling, feedbacky bliss. Yeah.)

7. Jets To Brazil -- "You're Having The Time of My Life (Live)" -- Irving Plaza
(Blake Schwarzenbach nails some strong, wry and poignant lyrics here. Right from the great opening line, "When you become a stranger again..." And then "I would start back at the start" is beautifully simplistic wishful thinking. Musically there's nothing fancy going on here. But there are strong melodies and harmonies happening. And some hot drum fills on this live version. We saw Jets To Brazil at TT The Bear's so long ago we can't even remember whether it was before or after we actually moved to Boston in 1999. We certainly wish we could go back in time and see the show again, although it was before Four Cornered Night, the set that included this song, was released. Is it possible that the show was Jets To Brazil with Burning Airlines? Man, what a night that must have been. If only we could remember...)

8. Joy Division -- "Disorder" -- Still
(We're reading a book that collects selections from the 33 1/3 book series and therein is a chapter about Joy Division. It references producer Martin Hannet's errrr... production, particularly the barely perceptible amounts of delay he employed on drum tracks. And so that got us going through our records again, and as always we stop on this version of this song, which is amazing. But what is Hooky doing at the end of this track? We never understood.)

9. My Psychoanalyst -- "We Disagree" -- "We Disagree" b/w "Panophobia"
(Sometimes Johnny Foreigner tourmates single from last year that is very strong. We love the ambient humming that fills the air between the bass and guitar, the boom-boom-bap drum beat, the meditative vocal. A great song by a band we expect will issue a great full-length sometime soon.)

10. The English Beat -- "Save It For Later (12" Mix)" -- What Is Beat?
(Sometimes we just look down and all of a sudden we've brought home some new records and we don't know where they came from. We think this was picked up on our most recent trip to Lancaster, PA at a used store that was selling all full-lengths for $5 or something. This is one of those records we always mean to pick up, because we never actually pull out our tapes anymore. You know, stuff like that Squeeze singles comp. Stuff you should have, but you forget even exists. Anyway, we've loved "Save It For Later" since seeing the video on MTV as a youth. As a freshman in college a billion years ago, we rediscovered the song for a while, and here we are re-rediscovering it.)

11. Mark Robinson -- "Misplaced On The Kitchen Floor" -- Canada's Green Highways
This is a great song. And so is the next one. But we just realized that our Muxtape is messed up. Specifically, tracks 10-12 just play The Upper Crust's "Let Them Eat Rock" when you click on them. And you know what? That is fine with us. The track is crazy good. You need to hear it four times in one mix.

12. Grenadine -- "Fillings" -- Triology 7"
It's really a shame you don't get to hear this quiet, Jenny Toomey-sung meditation on love and dentistry released in 1992, so we're offering an MP3 of it. You'll thank us later. "Fillings" -- right click and save as.