November 25, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving From Clicky Clicky (And Moz)

Happy Thanksgiving from Clicky Clicky, Morrissey and Peta2
Between the big Pat Leonard tribute show Sunday night, a dead hot water heater yesterday afternoon, rock team practice last night and a five-alarm fire around the corner at 4AM this morning, we're so far behind this week that we think we'll just bid everyone adieu until Monday. Everybody have a happy one and a safe one, and hell, eat a bird if that is your proclivity: you're good people and you've earned it. As an aside, we'll offer we thought we were all anti-establishment because we make snarky comments about this week's holiday, and then we talked Thanksgiving plans yesterday with our middle-aged plumber, who said she usually goes down to Plymouth to mark the occasion with Native Americans. She might have even used the word mourn. Which, relatively speaking, makes us about as hardcore as Lisa Simpson. Oh well. See you all next week.

November 24, 2008

Review: Pavement | Brighten The Corners [Reissue]

We are crestfallen to find that one of our strongest memories of a grey April day in Budapest, 1997, goes un-documented in a journal we maintained during three months spent loitering in Western and Central Europe. Not long after arriving in that great city we fell in with a scruffy bunch and spent several immensely fun and endless night-days in dark bunker-esque basement bars, mirrored, baroque coffee shops and monolithic, Soviet-styled opera houses. That there is a hole in our written account is somewhat understandable, as the entries for those days offer a litany of consumption: giant $.16 beers, cheap smokes, and eating and sleeping very little. We had made the hard decision before leaving on the trip not to take any music, as we didn't want a set of headphones to get between us and the experience. One of our favorite fellow travelers in Budapest was named James, and he bestowed an incredible, Natalie Portman-esque moment upon us when he reported that not only did he have a Discman with him, but he also had the new Pavement record, Brighten The Corners, which we did not even know had come out. We sat on a top bunk in our dank grey-green dorm room and listened to the album end-to-end, and it blew our mind as perhaps no record had done since leaving university the prior May.

From the ping-ponging opening of "Stereo" through the icy dread of the final moments of the funereal "Fin," we were transported. Some context is important here: our initial assessment of Pavement's prior set Wowee Zowee was not entirely favorable, as at the time -- a time largely spent worshipping Seam, Superchunk and Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain -- we found Pavement's third full-length to be (we'll borrow a comment from a professor's assessment of a contemporanous paper authored by a former housemate here) "willfully obfuscating." Which is to say we found it to be self-consciously jammy and difficult just for difficulty's sake. We've since come to grips with the genius of Wowee Zowee. But the embrace of the relatively straight-forward Brighten The Corners was immediate and welcoming. We we're instantly blown away by "Stereo" and "Shady Lane," and both tracks remain a favorite in the Clicky Clicky household. But most of all we recall sitting on that bunk and listening to "Fin" wash over us with wave after wave, guitar solo after guitar solo, those haunted backing vocals riding low in the mix, and everything receding into that long, inevitable march to the fadeout. It sounded like the end of everything. In a very good way.

Matador Records reissues Brighten The Corners in an expanded, remastered, double-disc edition Dec. 9. The second disc may be our favorite of all the second discs of the Matador Pavement reissues. Miraculously, the label is running a promotion right now whereby you can purchase all four expanded Pavement reissues for $50. This is an absurdly good deal. Here is the link. If, like us, you already had the previous reissues, you can purchase just the Brighten The Corners: Nicene Creedence Edition from Matador right here. Earlier this fall Matador made available its Intended Play Fall 2008 sampler of free MP3s, which included the very fun Brighten The Corners outtake "Cataracts," which we're posting below.

Pavement -- "Cataracts (Unreleased Outtake)" -- Brighten The Corners: Nicene Creedence Edition
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[buy the reissue from Matador right here]

November 21, 2008

Today's Hotness: Swirlies, Pat Leonard, Small Screen Light Show

Swirlies -- Blonder Tongue Audio Baton
>> This is our 1,000th post. Yeah. It would have been nice to have had some big retrospective with shiny pictures and stuff that goes ping to mark the occasion, but then again, that's not our style.

>> So we were minding our own business Saturday at a social event when we happened upon two former members of Boston chimp-gaze superstars Swirlies goofing around in a basement practice space. After convincing said players that in fact the band had had fans, and that we were one of them, we turned to the charming young fellow at our elbow and asked if he knew any of Swirlies' records, to which he replied in the negative. We thought about this later and realized that there is something about being a certain age at a certain time that insulates you from a lot of good music that was created previously. So while almost any music fan can list off certain of the tracks from AC/DC's Back In Black, for example, few could tell you that Swirlies' Blonder Tongue Audio Baton featured a number of amazing tracks, including "Pancake," "Bell" and "His Life Of Academic Freedom." And that's just that one album. So, in the interest of public service to the lower-cased youth of today, we are posting "Pancake" (the original version) and "Bell" below. A funny thing about Swirlies is we were going to draw a parallel between the band and Philadelphia's Lilys concerning how both bands have had scads of members over the years, and when we went to Swirlies' Internet Home Page and scrutinized its bio we learned that the two bands actually have a one former member in common (that would be Mike Walker). While we were at Swirlies Web HQ we were surprised to see that the current iteration of the band will be playing three East Coast dates at the end of February, including a Feb. 28 gig at The Middle East. In other news, apparently a tribute comp is in the offing, which features -- among other things -- a version of the track "Pony" by indie pop luminaries Surefire Broadcast. More info about the comp, which was slated for release this month free via, is here.

Swirlies -- "Bell" -- Blonder Tongue Audio Baton
Swirlies -- "Pancake" -- Blonder Tongue Audio Baton
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[buy Swirlies records from Newbury Comics right here]

>> We admit we can't name a Moving Targets song off the top of our heads, but we've heard the Boston post-punk band's praises sung by many since moving to Cambridge in 1999 including the chaps from Mission Of Burma. As reported elsewhere, Moving Targets bassist (and short-time Lemonheads drummer) Pat Leonard passed away last month, and there is a show in his honor this Sunday at All Asia in Cambridge. Bands confirmed for the evening include Varsity Drag, The Wynotts (ex-Jerry's Kids), American Pulverizer (featuring Marky Mussel and Kenny Chambers of Moving Targets) and many others. The night kicks off early -- 6PM early -- and there is a block of time left open midway through the bill for a special guest appearance. We can only speculate who that might be, although certain bands whose names begin with Mission or Bullet would make for a very exciting surprise. WMBR DJ Joanie Lindstrom -- who is famous to us for once having interviewed Uniform Choice -- will be holding things together between sets. You can inspect the full lineup for the show right here.

>> Earlier this month ExitFare hipped us to Seaham, England-based duo The Small Screen Light Show and its brilliant track "I'm Too In Love." It's catchy as hell, and there is a moment in the chorus that is just like a moment -- a certain defeated vocal phrasing -- in sorely missed Small Factory's cataclysmically awesome "Expiration Date." Anyway, head over to E-Fare here and download it, or stream it at the two-year-old band's MySpace cabin right here. Of course, being small-minded, we are curious whether the duo of Mattie Vant and Becca Young (which is augmented live by drummer Craig Stamp) are romantically linked; they seem too young to be divorced a la Jack and Meg White. But we digress. According to a MySpace bulletin The Small Screen Light Show spent some of the past week in Doncaster recording new tracks with Justin Lockey, who in addition to being a guitarist for bands including the erstwhile Mycodenameis:Milo and British Expeditionary Force has also produced recordings including My Psychoanalyst's stirring "We Disagree" b/w "Panaphobia" single and tracks by Late Of The Pier, Hot Club De Paris and Bloc Party. Anyway, back to one of the first points we made, if you aren't familiar with Small Factory, they were superb, and Old Fart At Play just reposted its overview of the band, so have at it here.

November 18, 2008

CC200: Pedro The Lion's "Bad Diary Days"

Pedro The Lion
We have to listen very hard now to David Bazan as he sings this spare heartbreaker to hear in his voice the overtones of Lou Barlow that caused us to believe that "Bad Diary Days" was a Sebadoh track when we first heard it. This happened as we were cruising northward through the broadcast range of The University of North Carolina's WXYC in the late summer of 1998, and we were transfixed by the voice. "Bad Diary Days" lays bare the narrator's simple but devastating memory of discovering his lover's infidelity. We also have to listen very hard to notice where those extra two beats cap each progression, because the flow now seems so natural. It's a testament to Mr. Bazan's vivid, direct songwriting that "Bad Diary Days" is so sad sometimes you just don't want to listen to it. Even so, the track, from the flawless Pedro The Lion full-length debut It's Hard To Find A Friend (originally released on Made In Mexico, which folded at the tail-end of the 20th century, then reissued on Jade Tree in 2001), is No. 181 on the list of our 200 most-listened-to tracks, also known as the Clicky Clicky 200.

It wasn't until returning to our brick-oven walk-up in South Phildelphia that summer in 1998 that we had an opportunity to figure out who was behind this entrancing song. The track was being spun on Drexel's WKDU and we got the DJ on the horn, who imparted that the band was called Pedro The Lion (at first we thought he said Pager The Lion, which confused the hell out of us, so we asked him to repeat it, which he did with Albertsonian intonation). Of course Mr. Bazan took his band to greater heights over the ensuing eight years until the Pedro The Lion moniker was formally retired in 2006. Bazan continues to record and tour, and his first record as David Bazan's Black Cloud (which is almost as awesome a band name as J Mascis + The Fog, but not quite) will be released on Barsuk in early 2009. More details about the record and its contents are posted at the Wikipedia page for Bazan here. Read all Clicky Clicky 200 posts right here.

Pedro The Lion -- "Bad Diary Days" -- It's Hard To Find A Friend
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[buy It's Hard To Find A Friend from Jade Tree right here]

November 17, 2008

Today's Hotness: Faunts, Primitive Painters, Adebisi Shank

>> Tomorrow Edmonton-based indie quintet Faunts issue a digital-only set of remixes, the more ethereal of which (Mark Templeton's gauzy remix of "Places I've Found" in particular) were the perfect soundtrack for Sunday morning coffee. The obviously titled Faunts Remixed contains 14 tracks pulled from the band's first two records, High Expectations/Low Results and the M4 EP. Remixers include Cadence Weapon, a fellow from the jarringly named Shout Out Out Out Out and Faunts themselves. Friendly Fire is offering two MP3s to tease the release, and we're posting them below. The act intends to issue a new full-length collection, Feel. Love. Thinking. Of., in February 2009. The original version of "Memories Of Places We've Never Been" was issued on the aforementioned High Expectations/Low Results, and also previously appeared on the Friendly Fire Recordings Sampler 2007.

Faunts -- "Memories Of Places We've Never Been (TH White Remix)" -- Faunts Remixed
Faunts -- "M4 (Part II) (The Paronomasaic Remix)" -- Faunts Remixed
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[buy Faunts Remixed from Friendly Fire right here]

>> We previously discussed Orange County, Calif.-based indie rock sextet Primitive Painters here in early 2005 (we regret saying its music was "a bit wimpy" -- if we had a do-over we'd say something like "heart-on-sleeve"). Now that there is news of a new full-length from the act, let's review: Primitive Painters recorded a really great demo called Dirtclods in the early '90s that sounded like the atmospheric British guitar rock of the day injected with a bit of SoCal punk energy. The band caught the ear of UK label GT's, and rerecorded the stuff from the demo, added some more stuff, and released a debut that was also called Dirtclods. This led to some confusion for us when we upgraded from our cassette dub to CD a couple years ago. We were puzzled upon receiving the CD that the songs sounded different, and it turns out our cassette was the demo, which we learned a couple years back when we pinged singer Dennis Crupi. Primitive Painters broke up in 1997, but Mr. Crupi and founding bassist (and now guitarist) Patrick Homa reconstituted the act in 2002 with a clutch of new players. Around the same time the band was named one of the 129 greatest bands from Orange County and released the short set EP33. Its new collection, Say It 'Til You Mean It, was self-released earlier this month, and while we have only heard what's posted at Primitive Painters' MySpace hacienda, we feel pretty comfortable saying its best stuff is even better than the best old tunes. Where the Dirtclods demos were fairly spare, the production on Say It 'Til You Mean It is lush, in places particularly imaginative, and there are tons of big guitars and bigger melodies. The updated Primitive Painters sound is reminiscent of "Regret"-era New Order, although obviously without Peter Hook's trademark bass noodling. Anthems like "Harm" and the New Order-referencing "Throw Your Heart To The Wind" establish a new beachhead for Primitive Painters. The sextet celebrate the release of Say It 'Til You Mean It with a show Dec. 6 in Fullerton, Calif.

>> You owe it to yourself to click this link and witness the COMPLETE. ROCK. MAYEM. perpretrated by Irish spazz-core trio Adebisi Shank in glorious full-screen video. How much speed are these guys on? How does guitarist Lar get those crazy sounds out of his arsenal of pedals? Why didn't several of the audience members' heads just explode like so many M80'd melons? We simply can't process this. This 16-minute set captured Oct. 17 at The Fighting Cocks in Kingston, England is the most bonkers thing we've seen in we don't know how long. So many questions. Why is the bass player Vinny wearing a full head veil? Did the BeatCastTV editors add some sort of strobe effect to the footage and speed it up, or is this band just going off like crazy? Spectacular, and a little more ear-friendly than fellow English grind merchants Rolo Tomassi, whom we've been meaning to mention in these electronic pages lately.

>> Notable ghost logos: Ghostly International. Johnny Foreigner. Larytta.

November 13, 2008

Today's Hotness: Simon Says No!, Sexy Kids, Dark Beaks

Simon Says No!
>> [Photo Credit: Pettri Lamula] That large, booming rock noise you hear coming from Norway is very likely Simon Says No!. The young, Oslo-based four piece has taken the whirlpool swirl of Sweden's fellow countrypersons Sereena Maneesh (remember them?), layered on a bit more pop gloss and added more depth with clever production. Formed in early 2006 when British-born [sorry, we were supplied erroneous information -- Ed.] guitarist Simon Oakland and guitarist and singer Ruben Nesse split from the hardcore act Jeroan Drive, Simon Says No! shuffled through a couple different rhythm sections before the current lineup gelled. Along the way the fledgling band released a couple tracks on cassette ("Midnight Romance," "Para Cirkus!") that caught the ear of radio programmers at a popular Norwegian radio station, which apparently sparked a great deal of local interest in the group. More recently the quartet set about recording an EP, and the results are four arresting, guitar-drenched anthems that can be heard at Simon Says No!'s MySpace tent right here. "Shiver" shakes with a stuttering syncopation and a melodic curtain of single guitar notes that ping pong quickly across the aural plane. Layers of tremeloed-out guitar join the mix mid-way through and eventually mellow out the tension with a false ending -- and then the beat is back. "Ahoi De Angst," the title track to the EP that will be issued in Norway in January (domestic plans are being kept close to the vest), gives a firm nod in the direction of Simon Says No!'s hardcore roots. It is the melodic fist-pumper "Sleeping Heart," however, that has "radio hit" written all over it, and thanks to the band's management we're able to offer the track to you below.

Simon Says No! -- "Sleeping Heart" -- Ahoi De Angst
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>> Resurgent indie label Slumberland appears to have another winner on its hands in the form of a forthcoming single from Sexy Kids. "The sexy who, now?" you are probably wondering. Well, Sexy Kids was born out of the planned obselescence of The Royal We, a Glaswegian septet we mentioned here in May for doing two notable things. The first notable thing was releasing the deliriously fun single "All The Rage," whose video you can watch right here, in September 2007. The second notable thing The Royal We did was vow to break up as soon as it recorded and released a full-length, which it did. Following the dissolution of The Royal We three members moved along to form the aforementioned Sexy Kids, whose debut single "Sisters Are Forever" will be issued by the aforementioned Slumberland this very month. It could be out now, for all you know. Because Slumberland is cool, you can download an MP3 of the single already, and we've posted it below. Additional information about Sexy Kids is hard to come by, but based on some photos at the band's MySpace yert we harbor a suspicion that its membership may be greater than the three Royal We expatriots. We suppose when the band blows up more information will be forthcoming. For now, just dig on this delicious track.

Sexy Kids -- "Sisters Are Forever" -- "Sisters Are Forever" b/w "Drown Me"
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[buy "Sister Are Forever" from Slumberland right here]

>> There's been emails and subsequent blog posts circulating the Interhooziewhatsis in recent days concerning an act called The Dark Romantics. This band may or may not be good -- we have yet to check. But we admit experiencing some disappointment upon realizing that the band in question wasn't the one we thought it to be at first, namely Dunedin, New Zealand's The Dark Beaks. We first wrote about the trio here in March 2006, and we still consider the trio's track "Dream About You" a nice piece of work. Here it is once again.

The Dark Beaks -- "Dream About You" -- Spill Your Heart
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[buy Dark Beaks music from CDBaby here]

November 12, 2008

Today's Hotness: The Futureheads, Fields, Asobi Seksu

The Futureheads
>> You know what totally smokes? The forthcoming Futureheads single "I Wouldn't Be Like This If You Were Here." The high-octane slammer hearkens back to the Sunderland-situated quartet's amazing 2004 full-length debut. The single will be issued Dec. 8, but you can already hear a crappy-sounding stream of the track at the band's MySpace dojo here. The Futureheads embark on a three-week tour of the U.K. and Ireland with clicky clicky faves Johnny Foreigner at the end of the month. We weren't all that certain of the pairing, but now that we've streamed "I Wouldn't Be Like This If You Were Here" a few times and hear The Futureheads are back with their A game it is starting to make sense. Full tour dates are listed at the aforementioned MySpace page. The Futureheads released its third set This Is Not The World on its own Nul Recordings label in May; we reviewed the band's July 2006 Boston gig here. We just remembered something Johnny Foreigner and The Futureheads have in common: both acts have been remixed by Dolby Anol. Here's the remix of "Radio Heart."

The Futureheads -- "Radio Heart (Dolby Anol Remix)"
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[buy Futureheads records from Newbury Comics right here]

>> London-based indie rock foursome Fields Tuesday cited label negotiations as the precipitating factor behind the cancellation of a planned strand of November tour dates. The cancellation isn't quite as interesting as the fact that Fields, which was apparently the subject of a bidding war in the U.K. in 2006 after playing only a small number of shows, is -- according to a MySpace blog from fronter Nick Peill -- "in talks with a new record label." The band's full-length debut Everything Last Winter was issued by Warners in the UK; in our opinion it did not live up to the promise of the mysterious, stellar preceding EP 7 From The Village. As we reported here in October, Fields had intended to issue its sophomore set Hollow Mountains in March 2009 (after previously hoping it could be out by the end of this year). However, the aforementioned label negotiations could push back the release of the long-anticipated set. Strangely, a second MySpace blog posted Tuesday made it sound as if a new label deal was already in place, and that it was the new label's decision to scotch the dates. "We have been trying to get the label to organise some shows for us for months now and the decision to pull this tour was not that of the band." Drama!

>> News circulated Tuesday that Asobi Seksu's forthcoming third full-length us titled Hush. We had reported here in September that the New York-based dream pop duo would issue the new set in early 2009, and Asobi Seksu now says the release will be in March, which we expect is timed perfectly with the annual South By Southwest confab. As we had also reported previously, Hush will be preceded by the single "Me & Mary" b/w "Breathe Into Glass" Nov. 18. For you vinyl-ophiles, the band's supremely great sophomore set Citrus will finally be issued on vinyl Nov. 25 by Friendly Fire. More details and the Hush track listing can be found in this Pitchfork item.

>> Pun Canoes here points to this recent post on The Lemonheads' blog, in which band leader Evan Dando explains the delay of the planned covers album Varshons, which was to have streeted in September. The set will apparently now be released in March, Mr. Dando says.

November 10, 2008

Today's Hotness: A Weather, Like A Fox

>> We've started considering what our year-end lists will look like, and one of the more difficult decisions is going to be where in the top five to place A Weather's Cove. We think the set is flawless, but the question that we'll grapple with over the next several weeks is whether the inspiration we derived from it exceeds that of other releases (the identities of which devoted readers can likely posit). We received A Weather's amazing debut late last year, reviewed it here in February, and it was officially released in March on Conor Oberst's Team Love imprint. It is a quiet, intimate and boundlessly sweet stunner. And yet the band has, likely unintentionally, remained somewhat enigmatic because of a very, very low profile. Sure, Pantsfork reviewed the record. But while A Weather toured the west in September, the Portland, Ore.-based quartet/sometimes quintet has never made it to the east coast in support of the record. At least as far as we know, and despite two band members being from New England and a third from Baltimore. But we continue to hope that we'll catch A Weather performing someday. Embedded above is the cute video for the album closer "It's Good To Know," which features prominent contributions from some stuffed animals, which puts the band on twee-ness par with London-based Psapp. Check back next month to see where Cove ends up on our list of the Best Records Of 2008.

>> [UPDATED] Philadelphia-based quintet Like A Fox, the latest vehicle de indie rock of long-time scenemaker Jay Laughlin, issued its sophomore full-length Where's My Golden Arm? last week. The music's kaleidoscopic mash of influences conveys an affinity for David Bowie and T. Rex filtered through modern indie pastiche proponents like Grandaddy and The Elevator Drops. That band leader Mr. Laughlin's singing voice is a dead ringer for that of Grandaddy's Jason Lytle reinforces that comparison song after song on Where's My Golden Arm?, particularly the tracks "On The Way" and the triumphant anthem "Been Sitting Here." Philly indie fans will recall that Laughlin previously fronted New Jersey's Lenola, a band that became dramatically more interesting to us after we learned that Laughlin previously played guitar in one of our favorite hardcore bands, Turning Point. Over the course of nine years Lenola released three full-lengths and scads of EPs and singles, although the final long-player -- a double album -- was only released in Europe and Japan, according to this Wikipedia entry. At any rate, Like A Fox takes Lenola's skewed pop tendencies and layers in light electronic tones and beats, more often than not over a bed of acoustic guitar. Transit Of Venus issued Where's My Golden Arm? Oct. 28, and the label has been cool enough to let us give away a copy of the record. The first person to email us (address is in the sidebar) a message with the words "Golden Arm" in the subject line will receive the CD in the mail from us in short order. In the meantime, here's an MP3 to whet your appetite, again courtesy of the fine folks at Transit Of Venus. [Congratulations to reader Jeff for winning a copy of Where's My Golden Arm?]

Like A Fox -- "Night Person" -- Where's My Golden Arm?
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[buy Where's My Golden Arm? from Transit Of Venus right here]

November 9, 2008

That Was The Show That Was: The Fun Years | The Echo Nest

The Fun Years at The Echo Nest
Only recently did The Urban Legend hip us to The Fun Years, an electrodrone duo whose music not only maps an overlap between the hypnotic iterations of William Basinski and the quieter elegies of A For Carnation but also serially draws comparisons to Wolfgang Voigt's sublime GAS project. After listening to The Fun Years' gauzy music for several weeks, we were surprised to learn that the now bi-coastal concern -- featuring Cambridge-based turntablist Isaac Sparks and California-based guitarist/laptopper Ben Recht -- had booked a live performance in the offices of a technology start-up operated in part by a former co-worker. And so it was that we found ourselves sitting in an office suite in a corner of Davis Square last night for a pleasant hour-longish set. In a recent interview the band made no pretense about its show being a fiery spectacle, but they did promise that they do their thing loudly. And while the set at The Echo Nest wasn't overly loud, it was very satisfying.

The Fun Years architect its somnolent tracks by gradually sampling live and layering snatches of vinyl and guitar, then manipulating those sounds from spare arcs that crest and fall into washes that undulate and phase. The dynamics can be predictable, but that is somewhat par for the course when working in a musical idiom whose foundation is repetition. Some of the more dramatic moments were a couple minor technical snafus during which entire beds of guitar samples -- painstakingly stacked like so many pillows of wind -- mysteriously vanished from the mix. Mr. Recht ably and affably, ahem, rectified those situations and as a result those tracks suffered little loss of altitude. We aren't so fluent in The Fun Years' music yet to know exactly which compositions we heard, but The Urban Legend reports that the band finished up with "The Surge Is Working" ("Oh yeah, didn't you guys get the memo? Ambient rock is the new protest-folk," the band jokes in this recent interview), the closing track from its most recent collection Baby, It's Cold Inside. That record, the duo's seventh in its five-year career, was released by Barge Recordings July 22. UK-based digital music storefront Boomkat named Baby, It's Cold Inside album of the week during the month of September. The Fun Years graciously offer the opening second track from the record as a free download at its site, and we're reposting it below to save you the trip.

The Fun Years -- "Auto Show Day Of The Dead" -- Baby, It's Cold Inside
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[buy The Fun Years records from the band right here]

The Fun Years: Internerds | MySpace | Vimeo | Flickr

November 7, 2008

Today's Hotness: Johnny Foreigner, Guitar, Frightened Rabbit

Johnny Foreigner
>> [Image Credit: Lewes Herriot] Believe it or not, there will be a fourth single from Johnny Foreigner's cataclysmically great debut Waited Up Til It Was Light. In the UK, anyway. According to an email, the band's label Best Before will release Jan. 12 the double A-sided single "DJ's Get Doubts" b/w "Lea Room." Which means that five of Waited Up Til It Was Light's 13 tracks will have gotten the single treatment, while, miraculously, some of the best tracks ("Absolute Balance," "This End Is A Beginning") remain relatively, and curiously, uncelebrated. We had written previously here and perhaps elsewhere that the Birmingham, England-based noise pop trio's prior single "Salt, Peppa and Spinderella" was the fourth from Waited Up, but we just went to our discs and checked and, no matter how we count, that doesn't add up. "Sometimes In The Bullring" was released as a single by Laundrette, but that was an older version of the track released prior to the band's signing with Best Before. So anyway, the ballad "DJ's Get Doubts" (which is nice, but not as strong as "All Mosely Gardens" in our opinion) and the raucous rocker "Lea Room" (named for the band's driver/tour manager guy, who can be spotted just offstage in all of those awesome live videos we hyped up on our Twitter feed later last month) are next in the spotlight. No word on when, if ever, any of these Johnny Foreigner singles will be issued in North America, where Waited Up Til It Was Light was issued to zero fanfare in July (well, some fanfare -- our review is here). Incidentally, the same email from Best Before referenced above noted that superlative Glaswegian indie rock sextet Dananananaykroyd has completed recording its full-length debut, and the set is currently being mixed by The Machine in Hoboken, New Jersey.

>> Surfing On Steam reports here that German electrobliss duo Guitar will release a new set titled Come Summer Come Blues early next year. In addition, Clairecords has recently reissued two Guitar sets, 2004's Honeysky and 2005's Salty Kisses, and there is a note at the Clairecords site stating that the label also intends to reissue It's Sweet To Do Nothing. According to this MySpace blog the new set contains eight tracks that apparently harness Guitar principal Michael Lueckner's love of bluesmen Lightnin' Hopkins, John Lee Hooker and Big Bill Broonzy. We reviewed Guitar's Sunkissed for Junkmedia six years ago right here; our first exposure to the act was its contributions to the excellent Morr Music-curated Slowdive tribute comp Blue Skied An' Clear which was released in September 2002. One of the best tracks on Blue Skied An' Clear [review here] is Guitar's MBV-influenced stomper "House Full Of Time," which we're posting below.

Guitar -- "House Full Of Time" -- Blue Skied An' Clear
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[buy Guitar music from Clairecords right here and EMusic here]

>> A propos of nothing... you know what would be a great mash-up? Do the kids still go for the mash-ups these days? We honestly don't know. But anyway, a clever remixer could take B. Fleischmann and Ms. John Soda's absolutely sublime cover of Slowdive's "Here She Comes" and combine it with Frightened Rabbit's stunning "Floating In The Forth" and make something perty. Yeah.

November 4, 2008

Today's Hotness: Thunder Power, Answering Machine, Abbey Lounge

>> Keeping up with the Omaha/Saddle Creek indie rock scene seems complicated and difficult. Or at least it seems that way from a thousand miles away. So many projects, so much overlap in personnel, all of it makes our head spin, and as a result we don't really pay too much attention. However, there is a new EP out today titled Love Yourself released by an Omaha sextet called Thunder Power that certainly warrants consideration. The jewel of the EP's five fizzy pop tracks is "(Why Don't You Go) Take A Hike?" [video embedded above]. The light bounce of the tune -- the acoustic strummery of which reminds us of If You're Feeling Sinister-era Belle And Sebastian -- is counterbalanced by the weary, melancholy vocal of fronter Kacynna Tompsett. Ms. Tompsett's singing voice carries an unplaceable accent and is cradled in a close reverb on these recordings; combined those two things give her lyrics a timeless, yet otherworldly quality. Slumber Party Records, which is distributed by the aforementioned Saddle Creek, releases Thunder Power's Love Yourself EP today. The band already has another release in the pipeline in the form of a planned split EP Friend Ships, which also includes music from British singer-songwriter Alessi Laurent-Marke. That EP will be issued sometime this winter on Laurent-Marke's Zooey Records. Thunder Power was cool enough to allow us to post an MP3, so here is "Take A Hike."

Thunder Power -- "(Why Don't You Go) Take A Hike?" -- Love Yourself
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[buy the Love Yourself EP from Saddle Creek right here]

>> The Answering Machine will likely sign a record deal with the small indie Heist Or Hit, according to a recent blog post from fronter Martin. The fledgling label is based in either Ashford or Middlesex, England -- we don't really understand how British addresses work, we're afraid to admit. Or it is based in London, according to the label's MySpace hacienda. Heist Or Hit's only other signing at the moment appears to be San Francisco-based dream pop quartet LoveLikeFire. As we reported here last week, Manchester-based The Answering Machine is currently recording its debut full-length, whose title is Another City, Another Sorry.

>> We don't know much, but we do know that we are not happy that soon we will have to live in a world with no Abbey Lounge. We've seen a lot of great bands there over the years, including The Kickovers and Neptune and The Farmhands. Sadly, the club will close its doors Nov. 28. More at On The Download here.

November 3, 2008

Today's Hotness: It Hugs Back, Revelation Records, Henry Rollins

>> Letting go is hard to do. Especially when one of your favorite bands makes a groundbreaking recording, and then follows it up with something unexpected and dramatically different. Fans of the mercurial and chameleonic Lilys know what we are talking about. And to a certain extent we felt the same way when Dustin Reske of '90s dream pop heroes Rocketship left the world of sunshiney guitars to explore a more electronic palette. Last week we found something that filled the crater of certain unmet expectations whilst minding our own business listening to WMBR's delightful Breakfast Of Champions radio program. And that something is the latest single from It Hugs Back, "Work Day," the video of which we've embedded above. The Kent, England-based quartet's new single certainly reminds us of Rocketship, although in exploring its back catalog over the weekend it is notable that there is even a touch of Mission Of Burma to be found among the band's four prior singles. It Hugs Back isn't easily pigeonholed, however; "Early Evening" opens as an acoustic ballad that gradually gains steam and transforms into a light chime-studded rocker with overtones of Sufjan Stevens and Gastr Del Sol. "Work Day" was released by 4AD Sept. 29; 4AD and Too Pure, which put out the band's first four singles, merged in June. Another single is in the works, and both it and "Work Day" will appear on a planned 2009 debut full length release on 4AD. It Hugs Back's first four singles were collected up in April on The Record Room, which was issued on CD and in a limited-edition canvas bag, but can also be downloaded right here at EMusic. Highly recommended. Here's the A-side to its first single, the sold-out "Lights In The Trees," which was initially released by Too Pure in October 2006.

It Hugs Back -- "Lights In The Trees" -- "Lights In The Trees" b/w "Soft Spot"
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[buy It Hugs Back records from the band here or EMusic here]

>> Speaking of EMusic, there was a recent notable addition to the digital music storefront's offerings, the Revelation Records catalog. Revelation pretty much cornered the market on New York Hardcore and the bands that sought to continue its legacy. Among its titles are astonishingly good releases that every fan of heavy music should own, including the crucial first Texas Is The Reason single [link]; Youth Of Today's final and un-eff-withable "Disengage" single [link]; and Burn's chillingly awesome self-titled EP, featuring "Drown" [link]. Noticably absent? The first Shelter record, which featured Ray Cappo backed by members of 76% Uncertain.

>> We don't get IFC on our living room lightbox machine. But if we did, we can only think of one thing we'd watch on it, which is Henry Rollins' talk show. This month IFC is rolling out three new episodes of "Henry Rollins: Uncut," including a show looking at New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, a show capturing Mr. Rollins doing his talking show in Northern Ireland and a show during which Rollins tours a South African Township. Clips of all three shows, as well as a heralded show filmed in Israel, is combined with clips from Rollins doing his spoken-word bit live in an amusing 20-minute video you can watch right here. If you've see Rollins on a recent talking date (we saw him in 2006) some of the stuff late in the video will be familiar to you. That said, his story of meeting his idol Ted Nugent is one of a few that is easy to watch over and over and over. And it has historical import, as Mr. Nugent's teetotaler status was a direct inspiration on the straightedge hardcore movement.