October 29, 2009

Today's Hotness: Projekt A-ko, Pants Yell!, Shout Out Louds, She Sir

>> We were rapping with our tweeps last week on the Interzizzles about the wonderful Glaswegian indie rock trio Projeckt A-ko, who released the superlative full-length Yoyodyne this past spring. The discussion reminded us that when we had communicated with band fronter Fergus Lawrie last he had mentioned that writing and recording for a new Projekt A-ko was already in the works. We checked back in with Mr. Lawrie last weekend, who provided us with an update on all things A-ko. Recording started a year ago at The Diving Bell studio in Glasgow, at which time drum tracks for five cuts (including the oft-discussed cover of the amazing Drop Nineteens classic "Winona") were recorded. In August Projekt A-ko returned to work and committed to tape bass and rhythm guitar tracks for the aforementioned five cuts, and the band hopes to finish eight songs by Christmas. The plan is to record some additional songs in 2010 and aim for a June release. Lawrie reports that the new songs are "heavier and deeper" than the material on Yoyodyne, and offers My Bloody Valentine, Sonic Youth and Smashing Pumpkins as reference points for the sound. Touring is still not in the cards for Projekt A-ko, sadly, as the band members have other commitments, although Lawrie notes he has felt conflicted when turning down gig and tour offers. While we wait for new Projekt A-ko music, here's an awesome non-album track called "Our Teenagers Need Healthy Touch."

Projekt A-ko -- "Our Teenagers Need Healthy Touch"
[right click and save as]
[buy Yoyodyne from the band right here]

>> Cambridge, Mass.'s own twee pop stars Pants Yell! will release their fourth album (and Slumberland Records debut) Received Pronunciation Nov. 10, and the trio is promoting the release with the MP3 "Cold Hands." Our quick and first impression of the track is that it's not immediately hooky, but the production is spectacular and tight and the guitars are heavier and generally sound amazing. Pants Yell! hit the road the day after release day for a nine-day tour of the mid-Atlantic and Northeastern United States. We're posting the tour dates below.

Pants Yell! -- "Cold Hands" -- Received Pronunciation
[right click and save as]
[buy Pants Yell! records from Newbury Comics right here]

11/11 -- Bronxville, NY -- Sarah Lawrence College
11/12 -- Philadelphia, PA -- University of Pennsylvania
11/13 -- Washington, DC -- Black Cat (SLR 20th Anniversary show)
11/14 -- Brooklyn, NY -- Bell House (SLR 20th Anniversary show)
11/15 -- Bethlehem, PA -- Secret Art Space
11/16 -- Cambridge, MA -- Zuzu
11/20 -- Portland, ME -- Space Gallery
12/05 -- Brooklyn, NY -- Bruar Falls

>> Swedish indie pop phenoms Shout Out Louds return with its third full length Work, which will be issued by Merge on Feb. 23 in the U.S. The set was recorded with Phil Ek, whose work you know from classic albums by Built To Spill, Modest Mouse and Unwound. You can watch a short preview promo of Work right here. Shout Out Louds' sophomore set Our Ill Wills was released in 2007 and the record closed with the amazing brooder "Hard Rain," and we are hoping as hard as we can hope that the new record will pick up where "Hard Rain" left off, because that track is amazing.

>> We ran this out our Twitter feed the other night, but it is worth repeating here that Austin, Texas-based shoegaze luminaries She Sir have pushed the release of their sophomore set Go Guitars to next summer. But in the near-term the band intends to issue the four-song, digital and vinyl Yen EP, and you can hear two of the tracks "Ginger" (sadly not a Lilys cover, but still exceptional) and "Lemongrass" at the band's Internet Home Page right here.

October 27, 2009

Be Prepared: Calories | Let's Pretend That We're Older EP | 11 Nov.

There are number of important thing to note about Birmingham, England-based power trio Calories' forthcoming EP. But most important of all of these is, yes, that is a denim CD sleeve. With a real badge affixed to it. Hats off to Big Scary Monsters for this awesome package (a co-release with Smalltown America, which released Calories' full-length debut), which reminds us of the good ol' days of the music industry being fun, awesome, and ready to dole out all manner of crazy stuff. Like the inflatable sheep Epitaph Records sent us in 1995 to promote one of its releases, a sheep with, ahem, special properties for people who really like sheep, well, too much. Anyway, back to Calories. Another remarkable thing about this EP, slated for release Nov. 11, is that it does not include that as-yet-unreleased-but-wholly-awesome track "Drink The Potion" [video]. What Let's Pretend That We're Older does include is four tracks, none of which will be on Calories' next record:

1. Let's Pretend That We're Older [right click and save as]
2. Arm A Leg
3. Expect The Language
4. Hands Off...

As you can see from the hyperlinked text about, the labels in question are giving away the title track for free. Fans lucky enough to catch Calories in the next few weeks can purchase the entire EP in person, otherwise you've got to order that stuff from BSM or STA. As for "Drink The Potion," we're hopeful that the tune will be on Calories' second record, which is titled Habitations, which we are told will be released in March on Smalltown America.

28.10 -- Brighton -- Audio
04.11 -- York -- City Screen
05.11 -- Nottingham -- The Bodega
06.11 -- Brighton -- The Freebutt
07.11 -- Southampton -- Lennons
08.11 -- Reading -- Oakford Social Club
09.11 -- Birmingham -- The Flapper
10.11 -- London -- The Barfly

Calories: Internerds | MySpace | YouTube | Flickr

October 25, 2009

Footage: The Answering Machine's "Emergency (Acoustic In New York)"

Very nice rendition of this album cut from the band's barn-burning 2009 debut Another City, Another Sorry. Read our review of the record right here.

The Answering Machine: Internets | MySpace | YouTube | Flickr

October 23, 2009

Clicky Clicky Music Blog's Top Albums 2000-2009

The span of years roughly book-ended by the launches of Napster and Spotify -- a decade during which many perpetually proclaimed the album format dead -- was crammed with crates and crates and crates and crates of compelling music. And why wouldn't it be? Ones and zeroes do not obviate humanity's innate need to rock. But that is a subject for another day. Today, as part of Deckfight's ongoing Albums Of The Decade Blog Tour, we force ourselves to choose the 10 best of the last 10 years. For weeks we've debated how to weigh the best versus the most representative versus the most influential and so on. It's difficult stuff to parse, but we think ultimately what it came down to was giving respect where respect was due for songcraft, innovation and gusto. While we offer our picks for 10 best records below, we are not ranking them, as simply making the cut is the honor here. What is below is listed alphabetically.

In case you are just catching up, yesterday's Albums Of The Decade Blog Tourist was Eric from Can You See The Sunset From The Southside, and you can read his list right here; Monday you can check out Brendan from Count Me Out's list right here. And for those of you who want more in depth discussion of our favorite songs and records of the last 10 years should listen to our four-part appearance on Jay Kumar's Completely Conspicuous podcast [part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4].


1. The Books -- Lost And Safe -- Tomlab (2005)
The Books: Internerds | MySpace | YouTube | Flickr | Buy

No matter whether you are gauging by songcraft or innovation, The Books deserve recognition for writing some of the most amusing, compelling and beautiful compositions of the decade. In particular we find Lost And Safe's closer "Twelve Fold Chain" incredibly moving. Here's a digested version of what we said in our review May 10, 2005:

Even on this, their third album, The Books sound like they've got secrets to tell. But the most solid clues they offer on Lost And Safe are fragments of dreams, stream-of-consciousness queries and allusions to spiritual questing. An intricate mix of serene vocals, spoken word samples, understated clattering percussion, guitar and cello, the duo's music is enchanting and hypnotic. "A Little Longing Goes Away" opens the record with soft vocals swathed in reverse reverb, making lines like "our minds are empty / like we're too young to know to smile" sound like prayer.

All musical elements are expertly but gently balanced like a series of birds on a wire. Although not overtly apparent, the band's lyrics, in addition to being spiritually inquisitive, can be quite funny. This is most apparent during the act's current live show, during which video accompaniment emphasizes the graduate school-level word play that characterizes songs like "Smells Like Content" and "An Animated Description of Mr. Maps." No matter the context or what you call it, The Books are in relatively uncharted territory with bountiful potential in every direction. Although Lost And Safe would be a crowning achievement for any band, The Books show no sign of running out of beautiful musical ideas to convey.

2. Destroyer -- Destroyer's Rubies -- Merge (2006)
Destroyer: Internerds | MySpace | YouTube | Flickr | Buy

We didn't review this record upon its release (or ever). As with songwriter Dan Bejar's finest efforts, the record is self-referential, inscrutable, beautiful and biting. Destroyer's Rubies in particular seems like a record ripe for academic examination. But no matter how layered or diffracted the narratives, the songs themselves are hook-filled, generously melodic and wholly rewarding. Bejar's smarter-than-you lyrics, singular vocal delivery, and attention to production detail make all of his records great -- Destroyer's Rubies is exceptional. What else is there to say? We recently saw Bejar perform solo in Boston, and for much of the performance we were thinking how we wished he was performing with a full band. But even performing solo with a weather red acoustic under spare spotlights the songs were completely arresting.

3. The Hold Steady -- Separation Sunday -- French Kiss (2005)
The Hold Steady: Internerds | MySpace | YouTube | Flickr | Buy

This list is not really about success stories, but The Hold Steady's sophomore set certainly qualifies as one, and -- of course -- one of the biggest of the decade. The burgeoning blogosphere was alight with praise when this was issued, and although our first inclination was to ignore the band because of the bountiful praise from seemingly every corner (we're contrarian like that), we were an embarrasingly ready convert when we finally stopped to listen to Separation Sunday. And what's not to like? As Mr. Kumar states, The Hold Steady is like Jim Carroll fronting Thin Lizzy playing Bruce Springsteen songs. Like the aforementioned Mr. Bejar, Hold Steady fronter Craig Finn is an amazing lyricist and he crafts on this record an amazing, conceptual collection that follows the rise and fall and rise again of certain gutter-frequenting, drug-gobbling drifters. Mr. Finn and his cohort take these losers and wring from them incredible tales of spine-tingling desperation and redemption. Also, there's a whole hell of a lot of rock music on this record, including the highlights "Your Little Hoodrat Friend" and "Stevie Nix." Ground-breaking? No. Awesome? Yes.

4. Johnny Foreigner -- Grace And The Bigger Picture (2009)
Johnny Foreigner: Internerds | MySpace | YouTube | Flickr | Buy

Did you think a guy who co-operates the Johnny Foreigner fan site Keeping Some Dark Secrets wasn't going to pick a Johnny Foreigner record for his list? There are so many reasons why this record is awesome, front to back, but here is just one: on the rare mornings where we walk to the subway, ride the subway, and then walk to our office, it takes exactly one run through the entire record to get us from door to desk. Wonderful. Here's a digested version of our review from Sept. 28, 2009:

Grace And The Bigger Picture is pointedly heartfelt, jubilantly aggressive, road-weary and resigned all at once. The record is populated with wistful ideals of home ("we'll throw parties in the yard") and amazing letdowns ("all we have is miles and wires and all I am is calls tomorrow"), but there are also wonderfully carefree moments, as in the almost blindingly brief "Kingston Called, They Want Their Lost Youth Back." [The record] is painstakingly crafted, deeply layered, and hangs together as a collection more firmly than even its ambitious predecessor. The narratives sparkle like dizzying mosaics comprised of thousands of digital snapshots. Themes appear and re-appear, e.g. the clarion call "some summers!" in "Feels Like Summer" resurfaces in "The Coast Was Always Clear;" "More Heart, Less Tongue" is transmogrified into "More Tongue, Less Heart;" the breakdown to "Custom Scenes And The Parties That Make Them" even repurposes the breakdown from the band's break-out single "Eyes Wide Terrified;" and keen ears seem to hear the familiar cry of "Amateur! Historian! shouted in the closing moments of the squalling anthem "Dark Harbourzz." But even more impressive than the whole are the parts, as there is a remarkable compositional cleverness in certain of the songs that points to an ever sharpening songcraft among Berrow and company. This is no more apparent than within the almost linear, structure-flouting gem "Custom Scenes And The Parties That Make Them." Best Before Records releases the record 26 Oct. in the U.K.

5. The Mendoza Line -- We're All In This Alone -- Bar/None (2000)
The Mendoza Line: Internerds | MySpace | YouTube | Flickr | Buy

After it had exhausted a Superchunk fixation, a record label and Athens, Georgia, and before its late embrace of a rootsier sound enamored a major rock critic or two, this always-at-the-brink-of-destruction collective created this wondrous, sweet full-length. A slapdash concoction of literate, lo-fi balladry and everyman indie rock channeled through three songwriters is remarkable perhaps mostly because, like the band itself, We're All In This Alone somehow manages to hang together. All at the same time the proceedings sound like the end of the '90s, point toward the ascendency of the band's adopted hometown of Brooklyn and presage a decade that once more embraced folk rock. It's a weird record, but it's a fantastic record, held aloft by great songs including the devastating "I Hope That You Remember To Forget." Of course, The Mendoza Line did not survive this decade, but part of the magic of We're All In This Alone is that the record sounds like a band with a world of possibilities in front of it, which was fairly accurate in the year 2000.

6. Meneguar -- I Was Born At Night -- Troubleman Unlimited (2006)
Meneguar: Internerds | MySpace | YouTube | Flickr | Buy

With the ascendancy of the related, more psych-leaning project Woods, and with silence from the band going on uninterrupted, we are starting to believe we may have seen the last of our beloved Meneguar. Which is a shame because the Brooklyn-based quartet's brand of desperate, shouty, smart and guitar-driven indie rock pushes all the right buttons for us, and we see no American successor really taking up the banner for the style. I Was Born At Night, so good it was issued twice, is seven anthems brimming with brawling attitude, splendid guitar interplay and heavy dynamics pounding home hooks galore. And it all comes down to the "The Temp," a fist-banging shouter about dead-end employment (or something -- who knows?) with a killer chorus that out-Slack Motherfuckers Superchunk's renowned "Slack Motherfucker." We recall that at one point Troubleman Unlimited had posted the MP3 for "The Temp" as a promo track, so here it is in all of its glory. Actually, this is the mix from the original Magic Bullet release -- retro!

Meneguar -- "The Temp" - I Was Born At Night
[right click and save as]

7. The Notwist -- Neon Golden -- City Slang (2003)
The Notwist: Internerds | MySpace | YouTube | Flickr | Buy

When we mentioned innovation supra, The Books weren't even the first band to come to mind. Instead we thought of The Notwist, and how in the wake of this landmark release that melded laptop electropop and indie guitar music suddenly, for at least a year, every one tried to replicate the Weilheim, Germany-based quartet's sound. Only by watching the amazing "On | Off The Record" DVD does one develop an appreciation for just how difficult an undertaking such replication would be (the opening seconds of the album were incredibly difficult, actually impossible, to perform), which is why -- despite seemingly providing the formula for an aesthetic perpetuated by labels like Morr Music for years afterwards -- so few acts came close to The Notwist. Even more amazing? The band's astonishing, dub-injected, Wii-dazzled live show, which we caught for the second time a year ago, makes Neon Golden and it's excellent successor The Devil, You & Me seem pale in comparison. But at the warm, digitally-pulsing heart of Neon Golden are 10 incredible, catchy songs delivered in Markus Acher's emotive deadpan murmur.

8. Spoon -- Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga -- Merge (2007)
Spoon: Internerds | MySpace | YouTube | Flickr | Buy

Flawless, every song, from a songwriting and a production standpoint. Endlessly listenable. As we said here in our Best Records of 2007 wrap-up:

We listened to this record over and over and over: in the car; in the office; in the kitchen. It's exceptional. Taut, glistening pop-rock, touches of spacey, warts-and-all production, and hooks galore. The songs all flow with an ease, an internal logic that is so finite that each tune seems representative of what indie rock is, at its core. If (when?) space aliens come to the United States asking about indie rock, perhaps the most obvious example to hand them is Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga.

9. A Weather -- Cove -- Team Love (2008)
A Weather: Internerds | MySpace | YouTube | Flickr | Buy

Digested from our review posted Feb. 10, 2008 right here:

Portland, Ore.-based A Weather's beautiful full-length debut has a persistent but slippery allure. Populated almost entirely with murmured bedroom ballads driven by brushed drums, guitar and electric piano, the set somehow succeeds in not repeating the same tricks over and over again.

Is there a voyeuristic attraction inherent in pretty songs delivered in hushed tones simultaneously by male and female singers? Or is there something universal -- an inverse of voyeurism, in a way -- conveyed by these intimate, poignant tracks that make them so arresting. What we are certain of is that sping-tingling moments are frequent on Cove: when the ride cymbal pulses louder and louder during "Shirley Road Shirley" as fronter Aaron Gerber and drummer Sarah Winchester desperately assure "I swear, you won't even know I'm there;" when the duo stingingly confesses during "Oh My Stars" that "sometimes it's hard thinking about how the plans we make won't happen;" when the pair utters during "Spiders, Snakes" the unfathomably sweet sentiment (for those of us of a certain age, anyway) "I want to have you again, listening to Bedhead."

10. Yo La Tengo -- And Then Nothing Turned Itself Inside Out -- Matador (2000)
Yo La Tengo: Internerds | MySpace | YouTube | Flickr | Buy

When your band puts out what is arguably the best record of 1997, what is the likelihood that only three years later it will release one of the best, if not THE best, records of 2000? This doubt is why we were quite ready for Yo La Tengo's And Then Nothing Turned Itself Inside Out to be a disappointment. But it was nothing of the sort. Opening with the Mogwai-toned spook droner "Everyday" and closing with the 17-minute spectral masterpiece "Night Falls On Hoboken," the record provides easy exuses for lapsing into over-the-top praise. This is simply a perfect record, and we'd argue it is downright better than the admittedly fine records that the trio has released since. In addition to the droners we already named, And Then Nothing Turned Itself Inside Out also carried the sugary, caffeinated rocker "Cherry Chapstick," the marvelously affecting ballad "Tears Are In Your Eyes" and some bossa-tinted toe-tappers "Let's Save Tony Orlando's House" and "You Can Have It All." For the rest of the decade Yo La Tengo delved into murky sounds, garage rock and shiny pop, but when we think of the band, we think of And Then Nothing Turned Itself Inside Out.

October 19, 2009

Reader Rewards: Win Tickets To See Raveonettes In Boston Tomorrow!

The Raveonettes by Camilla Stephan
[PHOTO CREDIT: Camilla Stephan] We've always been suspicious of national ticketing and events concerns, because, well, it's hard to see what they are doing for concert-goers at the local level. Any convenience the former provide those unwilling to make the trudge to the venue or the small network of retail outlets that once serviced the needs of ticket seekers (does anyone sleep out all night on the sidewalk outside Mad's Records in Ardmore, PA to buy tickets any more? Anyone?) is typically eliminated by fees and bad vibes. The larger live events concerns, well, their ability to bring big names to fans is certainly appreciated, but the benefit they bestow on local acts is hard to quantify. But here's a slam dunk for Clicky Clicky readers: a nice rep from Live Nation recently asked us if we wanted to give away tickets to readers, and we of course said hizzell yizzeah. Which is a long way of explaining why we have two tickets for Tuesday night's Raveonettes show at Boston's Paradise Rock Club up for grabs.

The first person to email us (address is linked in the sidebar) the name of her or his favorite Raveonettes tune gets the pair. The Danish/New York-ish duo, in case you didn't know, is supporting the release of its new set In And Out Of Control, which was issued by Vice Records Oct. 6. The collection, the duo's fourth, plays up the band's tuneful, Spector-ish attack. This is somewhat to the detriment of the band's fondness for regularly spreading out blankets of blissful white noise. But our initial streams of In And Out Of Control make us nearly as excited about it as we were about the band's prior effort, Lust, Lust, Lust (one of our favorites of 2008, particularly the track "Dead Sound"). Anyway, the first person to email us as directed above is our winner, and we'll update this space once the tickets are gone. We'll be giving away tickets to Thursday night's Atlas Sound show at The Paradise later this week, probably via Twitter, so if you aren't already following us @clickyclicky, get with that. [UPDATE: Congrats to reader Dave, who won the Raveonettes tickets!]

Speaking of Twitter, The Raveonettes recently disclosed it will give away a different pair of tickets, and those tickets come with a backstage drink with the band prior to show time. All fans need to do is tweet the date on which they’d like to see the band, along with a new merch idea, making sure to include the hash-tag #ravestour. The band will select the winner at random and alert the lucky someone in each city via direct message two days before the show. This, of course, is awesome, and makes our ticket offer feel a little inadequate. We will make sure our ticket offer seeks the appropriate counseling. But if you are thirsty and love The Raveonettes, you should really give that a shot. Remaining tour dates and MP3s below.

The Raveonettes -- "Suicide" -- In And Out Of Control
The Raveonettes -- "Last Dance" -- In And Out Of Control
[right click and save as]
[buy Raveonettes records from Newbury Comics right here]

The Raveonettes: Internerds | MySpace | YouTube | Flickr

11/06 -- SEATTLE, WA -- NEUMO’S

October 18, 2009

And Then This Happened: For Amie Breast Cancer Benefit with Colin Clary, Drew O'Doherty, Travels

Not pictured are these other kind performers supporting the effort: Broken River Prophet, Kristin Hersh and Bill Janovitz. We were surprised at how much fun an afternoon indie rock show where everyone brought their kids was. We'd like to see more of that happen, if only because it means we could finally blend kid time and rock club time. The short review is that Colin Clary was endearing, Drew O'Doherty's playing was mesmerizing and voice as killer as always, and Travels were even better than we had hoped. We left before the bigger names hit the stage, but had a really great time. If you couldn't make the show, you can still make a donation to a very worthy cause right here.

October 14, 2009

For Amie: A Breast Cancer Awareness Benefit | Oct. 17

All the info is there in the poster. Interesting fact: we've never seen Bill Janovitz perform, not solo, not with Buffalo Tom, not with Crown Victoria. So we're actually really looking forward to this for more than just a chance to get out and support friends and a good cause. We've never seen Ms. Hersh either, although her bands don't loom nearly as large in our musical past as does Buffalo Tom. That band's "For All To See" from the No Alternative comp is as perfect an indie rock number as has been recorded, and there are tons of great songs spread across albums like Big Red Letter Day, Sleepy Eyed and Smitten. If you haven't been keeping up with Mr. Janovitz lately, his blog is always interesting and entertaining. Even better, he has been recording and posting cover tunes for about a year, if not more. We're posting a couple of our favorites below. We'll note for the record that right after Palace released Hope we stole the opening line for "Agnes..." for one of our own songs, brazenly, blatantly. And we'd do it again. See you Saturday afternoon at the Middle East.

Bill Janovitz -- "Agnes, Queen of Sorrow (Palace Music cover)" -- Cover of the Week
Bill Janovitz -- "Johnsburg, Illinois (Tom Waits cover)" -- Cover of the Week
[right click and save as]
[buy Buffalo Tom records from Newbury Comics right here]

October 13, 2009

Be Prepared: Nosferatu D2 | We're Gonna Walk Around This City With Our Headphones On To Block Out The Noise | 16. Oct

The best six pounds sterling you will spend this year will get you Audio Antihero's remastered reissue of the mighty (and depressingly defunct) Nosferatu D2's only long-player, We're Gonna Walk Around This City With Our Headphones On To Block Out The Noise. This re-release of the Croydon, England based duo's set is something of a relief to us here at Clicky Clicky HQ. That's because we've been told by a fellow with Audio Antihero that the label was launched in part just to make this reissue available, which means that there is at least one dude out there who is as obsessed with Mr. Parker and his songwriting as we are (and perhaps even more so, as quite literally Audio Antihero is putting its money where its mouth is).

Anyway, you can pre-order the thing via PayPal right now, here's the link, scroll down, spend the money now and thank us later. This is the record that has the amazing tracks "A Footnote," "Broken Tamagotchi" and "It's Christmas Time (For God's Sake)" on it, among others. Audio Antihero is offering "Springsteen" as a promo track, which we are posting below for those of you who didn't download the record from Last.FM back when the old version (which we think was self-titled at the time) was available for free download. But anyway, Parker, holy Jesus, this guy can write songs ("A Footnote" is the band's crowning achievement), and particularly lyrics, and with his brother Adam slaying the drum kit behind him the Nosferatu D2 was simply unbeatable. Here's the full running order:

1. Broken Tamagotchi
2. A Footnote
3. Colonel Parker
4. Flying Things and Pests
5. I Killed Burt Bacharach
6. 2 People, 0 Superpowers
7. Mojo Top 100
8. Springsteen
9. We'll Play The Power of Love by Frankie Goes to Hollywood A Thousand Times Tonight
10. It's Christmas Time (For God's Sake)

Nosferatu D2 -- "Springsteen" -- We're Gonna Walk Around This City With Our Headphones On To Block Out The Noise
[right click and save as]
[buy the record from Audio Antihere right here]

Previous Ben Parker Coverage:
Out: Superman Revenge Squad's "We're Here For Duration... We Hope!"
A Dish Best Served Cold: The Clicky Clicky Interview With Ben Parker
Logorrhea, Pathos and Superman Revenge Squad
Today's Hotness: Tempertwig, Naxos, Joy Division
Every Band I've Ever Loved Has Let Me Down Eventually

October 11, 2009

Varsity Drag UK Tour Diary 6: Cymru am byth! Abbys, tea, on to Cardiff & disco fever...

On our way to beautiful Cymru (Wales, for all you illiterates), we make a stopover to marvel at the excellently-maintained Tewkesbury Abby.
drag1 drag2 drag3
Josh snaps some illicit pictures--you're supposed to buy a camera license of some sort for a vast sum, but as we all know, Josh is a rebel who lives by his OWN rules, etc, etc.
Then we repair to a nearby teashop for our long-anticipated full-on cream tea--with PLAIN scones, thank you very much, no fruit in them--which for some reason, despite being in a kingdom of tea, we had so far failed to procure. It was all we had waited for and more. If clotted cream were this easy to get ahold of in the States, I have no doubt we'd all be swiftly bound for morbid obesity.
drag5 drag6
In Cardiff, our bill at Clwb Ivor Bach includes the vastly talented Bedford Falls--another BossTuneage artist, natch--with newlywed frontman Tom Willecome, our old pal from last tour, greeting us at the venue. They play a great set, as do the Mags. Both the sound and the crowd were more than respectable. I have some great--albeit shouted, and all-too-brief--conversations with a couple of fans I've been corresponding with in Wales for some time. Good times.

And of course, afterwards came the ultimate in zaniness: as soon as the 11 o'clock "curfew" struck, the PA was swiftly bundled away, a dance floor cleared, and a DJ in the corner began what was to be the evening's 3 or so hours of dance club. Swept up in the moment, we all proceed to get down with our modestly bad selves--(NB: copious photos were taken, and some may actually escape suppression)...

Our boogie shoes now reduced to mere smoldering soles, it's time to find sleeping quarters. Jim and Jamie kindly offer their house, which turns out to have been a brothel in a former life. (Apparently, such was its notoriety that at one point the new owners had to hang a sign outside reading: "This is NO LONGER a brothel." One can only imagine the awkward conversations at the door, punctuated by resolute head-shaking, late at night...)

Nice place. Too bad we don't have more time for Wales, but this 8-Day Express Crazy Train ain't stoppin' for no one...

COMING NEXT: Midsomer Norton, our radio debut, and cozy cavern the Wunderbar!

[originally posted here]

Varsity Drag: Internerds | MySpace | YouTube | Flickr

October 9, 2009

Varsity Drag UK Tour Diary 5: the road to Leamington Spa; owls gone wild; open-mic madness!

[Photo Credit: Joshua Pickering] This morning, Josh purchased one of those traditional newsboy-type "flat hats": he now looks a proper bloke. Indeed, if he takes my advice and shaves his chin, he'll be sporting the full-on Lemmy whiskers by the time we hit Leeds.

On the road again by midday, we discover an odd accessory in the van: one of the fold-up tables is equipped with an attached mirror. As in, a horizontal mirror, glued down to the table. Hmmm. The mind reels with whatever depravity the actual owners of this borrowed van must be up to... at least, that's what the owls think, as they proceed to crush up some sugar, roll up a 5-pound note, and enact a tableau of debauchery. (Josh took pictures.)

Leamington Spa's The Robins Well turns out to have a unique way to load-in: via one of those foodservice lifts that you pile up with palettes of frozen shrimp or cans of tomato sauce... or, in our case, Marshall stacks and piles of drum cases. It's all dealt with in remarkably short order: the damned thing actually works pretty well.


TOUR GOSPEL 101: To be on the road is to live an existence punctuated by the sudden, desperate need for commonplace objects... which simply aren't there to be had. A coat hanger. A piece of scotch tape. A plastic cup. A magic marker. All of these homely items would be so EASY to lay hold of -- if you were at home. But you aren't. Instead, you're desperately canvassing your bandmates and billmates, or scouring the backroom of some dingy rock venue, thinking: There's just GOT to be small piece of wood here I could use for a shim. A matchstick? A toothpick? ANYTHING!

These moments can lead to new and exotic torrents of invective, kinda like the dad in Jean Shepherd's "A Christmas Story" with his cursing-raised-to-an-art-form. My recent favorites have encompassed a fairly wide swath of expletives -- I am, after all, a man of catholic taste -- such as the "f*cking f*ckjam!" and "f*cking C*CK!" Of course, when brevity isn't called for, there's always "MOTHERF*CKING F*CK F*CKITY-F*CK F*CK!" to fall back on. "Son of a mother-f*cking f*ck-jam" neatly sums them all up, its sweet cadences truly capturing the unique hassle that is this rock and roll thing.

It was just such an echoing symphony of curses which accompanied my realization that one of our precious coat hangers (with which we showcase the t-shirts for sale) had bit the dust, snapping off at the bend. Can I fix it with tape? Charlie from the Mags simply bends it a bit more, and manages (barely) to get it to hang from the weird netting on the wall behind the merch table. Problem solved, for the moment.

Before our set, Josh has discovered a (much more robustly attended) "open mic" night upstairs in the venue's restaurant/bar area, and proceeds to grab a guitar and throw down such classics as "Wanted Dead Or Alive," "Close To You," and Journey's "Separate Ways"... the crowd goes wild, and he gets some free drink tickets (which is more than either band has been offered, or will be offered). Alas, his exhortations to the crowd to join us downstairs are largely ignored [Where are the flipping YouTube clips of this, Deily!! -- Ed.].

The show is fun, albeit tiny (and apparently unpromoted, alas) -- we declare it an "open rehearsal," and proceed to cover off on a few songs we haven't tried yet, figuring, "who cares?" Good to get some rehearsal in. We meet a few lovely folks including the phenomenal Miss Nick (who made off with our set list!)... and sold a few CDs to boot, so who's complaining?

Evening ends up at the Best Western somewhere not too far away. Clean beds, towels, fabulously overpriced internet -- all the better things. We are contentment itself. -- Ben Deily

COMING NEXT: Cymru am byth! On to Cardiff, and a night of boogie fever...

[originally posted here]

Varsity Drag: Internerds | MySpace | YouTube | Flickr

October 8, 2009

Rock Over Boston | Bob Mould | Paradise

[Photos by Michael Piantigini]

One of the most amazing shows I've ever seen was Bob Mould's stop in Boston on the Black Sheets of Rain tour. That album is arguably his darkest and most chilling - he's working something out on it, and by showtime, he was still working on it. When he took the stage and strummed the opening chords to "Wishing Well..." Well, "strummed" doesn't do it justice, because I don't know if I've experienced three more profound chords. He may as well have punched each one of us in the gut. There was an electricity that was palpable in Citi (as it was known before it became Avalon - and that wasn't a corporate name, by the way) that was exhilarating and draining. I am not kidding when I say the show could have ended right then and we all would have felt like we got our money's worth.

This wasn't that show.

I'll admit that it has been taking me a long time to come to terms with the evolution of Bob Mould. I still don't know if I'm there. I haven't really embraced any of this decade's worth of his albums (though this year's Life and Times is certainly a step in the right direction). The influence of his DJ life on his music of the rock variety has been bumpy; was laughingstock Auto-Tune ever really a good idea? It's on the new record, even, though mercifully toned down compared to the last couple. I'm sure he doesn't care - why should he? He doesn't owe rock music any more than he's already contributed, and I wouldn't expect or want him to keep re-making the same record.

Which is part of what makes the set list for the recent tours, including last night's stop at the Paradise, such a surprise. It's all about giving the people what they want. Who'd a-thunk that, say, The Who would play more songs from their new record last time they came through town than Bob Mould did last night? Only four songs came from the new one, including the great single "I'm Sorry, Baby, But You Can't Stand in My Light Anymore." And what's more, only "Circles," from 2005's Body of Song even came from this decade. Going all the way back to 1984 for the opener, Zen Arcade's "Something I Learned Today" set the pace for the most energetic set from Mould I've seen in years. Material from 1989's Workbook got a particularly strong workout: "Wishing Well" had some snarl though "Poison Years" didn't quite give the chills it once did. Sugar was well-represented by b-side "Needle Hits E," and crowd-faves "Your Favorite Thing" and "Hoover Dam." Ultimately, it was hard to argue with the four-song set closing Husker Du assault.

The difference-maker on this tour is the hardest working man in show business, Jon Wurster. Mould introduced him as "direct from Comedy Central," because 24 hours earlier, he was in New York drumming with the Mountain Goats on the Colbert Report. Between that, his comedy career with Tom Scharpling on WFMU, and all the recent activity of his "regular" gig with Superchunk, it is hard to fathom how he keeps up. You'd never know he did anything else but drum with Bob Mould though, as he clearly is having a blast doing it. He's probably the most fun drummer to watch since Keith Moon, singing along, pulling faces, and just his general enthusiasm. It'll be disappointing if we find out he's on 'roids. His spirit is infectious: Mould was loose and cracking more than a few smiles throughout the set.

As unsure as I am of Mould's recent material, I am just as skeptical of shows like this where the pander level is high. I didn't get into Bob Mould the entertainer. I got into the Bob Mould who gut-punched me. In the end, though, the energy and enthusiasm of a good night like last night gave the songs enough life to remind us where they - and we - came from. - Michael Piantigini

Bob Mould: Internets | MySpace | Boblog | Flickr | YouTube

Bob Mould at the Paradise, Boston, MA 10/7/2009:
1. Something I Learned Today
2. A Good Idea
3. Argos
4. Needle Hits E
5. Your Favorite Thing
6. Life and Times
7. The Breach
8. I'm Sorry, Baby, But You Can't Stand in My Light Anymore
9. Wishing Well
10. See A Little Light
11. Hoover Dam
12. Sinners and Their Repentances
13. Hardly Getting Over It
14. Poison Years
15. I Apologize
16. Chartered Trips
17. Celebrated Summer
18. In A Free Land

19. Circles
20. If I Can't Change Your Mind

October 7, 2009

Varsity Drag UK Tour Diary 4: Norwich: worsening sound systems, improving sound; Maisy the dog!

The local promoter/sound guy/general welcoming committee is a fine chap named Dempsey, who ushers us into The Marquee's performance space... as close to a cavern as one could realistically expect to find above ground. Actually, it's pretty darned cool: kinda looks the generic movie set for the underground-rock-club-where-the-bad-kids/vampires/drug-lords-hang out-after-hours... Black walls of stone and brick, black ceiling somewhere above, cement floor, a ramp and balcony where the entrance is with the requisite rails made of pipe (black as well, of course). Bad ass.

And strangely enough, the aging-looking PA and the somewhat bizarrely-placed monitors (off to the side, looking as crumbling as the rest) provide the best sound we've had yet on stage. Go figure.

Along with a local punk band, we're treated once more to a set of Beverly Kills -- alas, probably the last we will witness for a while -- and the Mags throw down with their customary fury. We pull out a couple of ones we haven't played yet for the set. All in all, I feel measurable improvement each time we play: by the time the tour is over, as is customary, we'll be $#@ing tight enough to go out on tour! :-)

At evening's end, Dempsey kindly invites us to stay at his place -- just a "few minutes away" -- so, loaded with our knapsacks and rolling suitcases, out we trudge into the misting Norwich night. What seems like endless hours and a maze of nightime British streets later, we descend into a garden-level apartment of remarkable coziness to meet Maisey, the dog of the house. We get many wags of approval, and as we settle in the living room she makes the rounds of laps, patiently indulging us as we coo and squawk and make those dumb noises people make at dogs. Josh declares her to be "a perpetual motion dog" -- as a senior lady she does have a touch of palsy -- but most of the wiggling seems to be sheer enthusiasm.

There seems to be some sort of on-demand music video catalog service on the TV, so the shout-outs begin -- NWA, Elvis Costello, The Jam, and many other faves are screened... but long before that party is over, L & I have repaired to the vacant room next door to deploy our newly-bought sleeping bags.

(Only, what -- FIVE shows to go? This is gonna be over before we know it. D'OH!) -- Ben Deily

COMING NEXT: the road to Leamington Spa; owls gone wild; no stage, but one heck of a lift.

[originally posted here]

Varsity Drag: Internerds | MySpace | YouTube | Flickr

October 6, 2009

Johnny Foreigner Issues Free EP, Tours, Makes Americans Sad

So, as you all know by now, we were right when we said we're all just bricks in the wall. Also, we were right when we said the big surprise alluded to by Team JoFo last week was the remix EP, which as you can see from the art above seems to have an alternate name, yeh? We think we actually prefer Night Cartridge/Rage Cub EP to the name that seems to have won out over it, namely Gin Dagger Cite Her Bar Cut EP. The thing is seven tracks long, it is freely available here if you give a working email address, and apparently every 50th person to download the EP gets a pair of free concert tickets. Exciting stuff. The music on the EP is really quite good, as far as remix EPs go. Personally we're not crazy about the hip-hop remix of "Feels Like Summer," but we won't deny that its SoCal Snoopilization is actually pretty fun. As our tastes skew more ambient, we are very big proponents of Junior Foreigner's remix of "More Heart, Less Tongue," as well as Response's Cycle Mix of "More Tongue, Less Heart." One thing not readily available with the EP is the art, but Johnny Foreigner has thoughtfully remedied that by posting it here.

What else can we tell you? Johnny Foreigner's Grace tour is now in full swing and as best as we can tell the best way to monitor it remotely is to watch Twitter. We try to re-tweet anything particularly interesting, so if you are hip to the Twitter jive follow us @clickyclicky. The Birmingham, England-based noise pop trio issues the second single from the forthcoming long-player Grace And The Bigger Picture next week, when "Criminals" sees digital release with two b-sides as we previously reported here. Grace And The Bigger Picture will be released in the UK Oct. 26 on Best Before Records [review here]. Now now about some free remixes?

Johnny Foreigner -- "More Tongue, Less Heart (Response's Cyle Remix)" -- Gin Dagger Cite Her Bar Cut EP
Johnny Foreigner -- "More Heart, Less Tongue (Junior Foreigner's Remix)" -- Gin Dagger Cite Her Bar Cut EP
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[download the entire EP right here]
[buy Johnny Foreigner music here and here]

Varsity Drag UK Tour Diary 3: The Magnificent & excellent van...punk & disorderly in Peterborough

Sunday dawns to another post-rock tableau of sleeping bags, snoring folks and sun creeping into the DS/Georgie house in beautiful Cambridge. Today is the scheduled arrival of The Magnificent, the kindly benefactors who will be supporting us for the next week with van, navigation, and gear.

We meet James, Matt and Charlie, who are obviously as great a bunch of fellas as we could hope to be trapped in close quarters with. Best of all (well, for me, at least) James and Matt have contrived to supply me with a freshly set-up SG, which plays like a dream. We share a few pints and some veggie sausages and mash at the Portland Arms, to which we must now bid a fond, if temporary, farewell. Outside, we greet the touring van, which is most excellently set up -- with facing seats in back, train-car style, as well as some fold-out table sort of things.

By late afternoon, we're off to Peterborough for the all-afternoon-into-the-evening "Punk & Disorderly" extravaganza at The Park's Club Revolution, or, more properly (apparently) "Club Revolution at The Park." Whatevs. There's another slate of excellent bands, including -- once more -- Beverly Kills, Southport and Vanilla Pod! As for our hosts The Magnificent, the acquit themselves according to their name: a power-pop/punky trio, they're as good a match as we could have hoped for, and play a fantastic set -- looking forward to getting to hear it a bunch more times...

With Aston and so many of his stable of bands in attendance, it's basically Old Home Day for us 'Dragsters. Rather cavernous place, but comfy -- plenty of room for merch setup and cozy corners in which to recline, scarfing down Indian food from one of 18 joints on the same block. My tuning pedal expires on stage with some minor drama, but this is rock & roll, and you all know how THAT is. :-)

Josh drinks the blue beverage (called "WKD," I believe) behind the bar which I had dared him to do: I have a sip at his insistence, and it's not half-bad -- more like two-thirds. No injuries sustained. But I'd hate to imagine what more than one of these ghastly things would do to the human head.

Back to Cambridge at a reasonable hour, somehow. Guess we're getting in the groove. -- Ben Deily

COMING NEXT: Norwich--the madness continues...

[originally posted here]

Varsity Drag: Internerds | MySpace | YouTube | Flickr

October 5, 2009

Varsity Drag UK Tour Diary 2: The Portland Arms rocks our world... Joshua arriveth... show no. 1

Our first actual day (that is, the first not addled by sleep deprivation-induced auditory hallucinations) dawns in the UK to find us at DS and Georgie's place, tucked into our customary room -- which we notice is now equipped with an economy-sized plush owl, whose goggle-eyed & deranged gaze tells us we're clearly among friends.

Cambridge -- which of course we never even really had a chance to see last time -- is pretty amazing, what with the punts all over the Cam, and the castle-like 800-year old college buildings constantly on every side. There's also a clock -- said to be one of the most accurate in the world, for what it's worth -- topped by a hideous insectoid-racheting thing: think HR Giger's pocketwatch, only 2 meters tall. We get lunch at a joint called the Anchor, which proudly claims via several prominently-placed placards that Syd (née "Sid") Barrett hung out there constantly as a young man, listening to the live music which ultimately (the sign goes on to claim) inspired him to biff off on his own musical thing. Er, Happy Atom Heart Mother's Day to you, the Anchor.

Later in the day, our Boss Tuneage label honcho/president and chief impresario Aston Stephens and wife Julie arrive, bearing gifts: t-shirts, and a box each of For Crying Out Loud, Rock & Roll Is Such A Hassle and... as my heart pounds in anticipation... one which is revealed to contain freshly-pressed copies of [the forthcoming long-player -- Ed.] Night Owls. I hold it in my living hand! Triumph! My life has not been in vain.

This evening, we get the luxury of being audience rather than entertainer, and enjoy a fantastic slate of bands at the Portland Arms, including a brace of label-mates: Vanilla Pod and Southport (featuring the remarkable Simon Wells, formerly of Snuff). After the show, 'round midnight, Josh rolls in with bags in tow, apparently none the worse for having run London's gauntlet of treacherous, malevolent old ladies.

Next day, after a somewhat (expectedly) rowdy evening spent with DS and Georgie's placed filled to the rafters with Southport and us, we're up and preparing. A few million revisions later, we've got a set sorted that seems to balance old stuff (the first record, and the live record we probably should be promoting) as well as the brand new stuff that we've felt compelled to unleash so precipitously on the world. Sigh, 2 records out within 4 months of each other makes for this kinda balancing act, gaah. :-)

The Saturday night lineup at the PA is a fabulous (and resoundingly gyno-centric) array of bands including Tiny Tigers, We Rock Like Girls Don't, and Beverly Kills -- fronted by our very own Georgie! Upon taking the stage for our set at evening's end, I feel compelled to apologize to the audience for Josh and I not being girls -- but at least we have Lisa's cred to warrant our presence on a stage graced by such feminine rock power.

An incredibly loud set, but the audience seems psyched as hell, bouncing all over the place and cheering, so who's complaining? In tribute to Josh's quasi-religious pilgrimage here to the Portland Arms, we play our Soft Boys cover -- after all, Robyn and the boys recorded a live record in this very room. (Josh has punctuated the last 24 hours or so by glancing around whilst repeating, in somewhat stunned tones, "Hey, we're in England. I can't believe we're in England. I can't believe we're at the Portland Arms.")

The usual after-party and after-after-partys rage on, but L & I manage to crank up the white noise machine and hit the sack. After all, tomorrow is another working day. Albeit the Lord's one. -- Ben Deily

COMING NEXT: We meet our great benefactors, The Magnificent...a most excellent van...punk & disorderly in Peterborough!

[originally posted here]

Varsity Drag: Internerds | MySpace | YouTube | Flickr

October 4, 2009

Varsity Drag UK Tour Diary 1: Hyper-organized travel; an interlude of violence; Cambridge at last!

[Photo Credit: Joshua Pickering | As big fans of hometown heroes Varsity Drag, we weren't going to let the little fact that the band is touring the UK, which is, of course, on the other side of an ocean from here, keep us from providing some coverage. Fortunately for us, fronter Ben Deily agreed to keep a tour diary of the trio's jaunt around the UK. Here is the first installment. -- Ed.]

So, you know those people who are SO organized that it's a bit irritating? What with the lists, and the spreadsheets, and the minutely-arranged schedules?

Well, at least for one brief, shining moment, that was us: during the 48-hour countdown to departure, Lisa and I find ourselves methodically ticking things off of "to do" lists with a blind fury--and unnerving regularity. How can this be going so smoothly? Our suspicions are aroused. Our paranoia notwithstanding, it would seem the rock gods are smiling on our endeavor.

Virgin Atlantic provides a swell ocean crossing, and some nice little red socks. I wake up a few times midflight to see the grinning, jabbering face of Richard Branson leering back from the tiny video screen in the seat back in front of me...has his ego no bounds? (There's even a little cartoon of his visage on the little gift sack with a toothbrush etc in it.) Hmmm, I guess if I was a champion balloonist/corporate master of the universe, I'd be equally enamored of myself.

Heathrow: after nearly in hour in the customs line (it musta been a particularly busy day--the nice passport lady said as much), we find ourselves standing somewhat dazedly in the main concourse, looking in vain for the Underground. Suddenly, a middle-aged battleaxe of a woman with steely gray hair rolls her baggage cart up behind Lisa, precedes to actually HIT her in the shoulder with a jabbing finger motion, and barks "You're blocking the way!" We stand there stunned, as she wheels swiftly out of sight down a ramp. Once I realize what's happened, of course, it's ON like Donkey Kong: a swift pursuit follows, and we've caught up in a few minutes. (Fortuitously, she's headed toward the Underground, leading us to our destination.) I run up behind her and punch HER in an identical fashion to the blow she delivered to the hapless Lisa, and shout, "Oi! You! You're the woman who just assaulted my wife."

She spins around, clearly surprised, but not in the least intimidated. "Well, you be SURE and tell me if it BRUISES," she squawks in a ghastly midlands accent. "You're really a rather awful person, aren't you?" I reply, still a bit stunned by her unrepentant nastiness. "Yes I am," she replies, trying to navigate her cart away from us along a moving sidewalk. (Clearly, however monstrous this ol' bitch is, she doesn't want any more trouble from us.)

Involuntarily slipping into "Fight Club" dialogue -- it's my weakness -- I shout after her "How's that working out for you? Being an awful person?" "Fine," she shouts back. "Keep it up then," I holler as she vanishes down the tunnel.

After a multiple-stop ride to King's Cross and a train to Cambridge, we catch blessed sight of Georgie (of Beverly Kills), a blonde knight riding a shining BMW station wagon to our rescue. Soon we're ensconced in her and DS Willsher's lovely house, where we enjoyed a fantastic idyll (and showers, and laundry privileges) during our last whirlwind run through Albion. Home sweet Cambridge!

Dave (DS) has even contrived to supply us with some guitars: a Fender P-bass looking thing for Lisa, and a Vox guitar for me. Both play excellently. -- Ben Deily

COMING NEXT: The Portland Arms rocks our world...Joshua arriveth...show number one!

[originally posted here]

Varsity Drag: Internerds | MySpace | YouTube | Flickr

That Was The Show That Was: Dinosaur Jr. (Night 2) | Middle East

[Photo Credits: Michael Piantigini] When it is the mighty Dinosaur Jr. -- a Clicky Clicky Top 5 Band -- the second night of a sold-out two-night stand isn't "everything else." It's a celebration of beloved, ear-bleeding rockers, of losercore hits for riot nerrrrrrds (as the saying used to go), delivered with a visceral punch felt through the 30 or so rows of people that clustered in front of ourselves and KoomDogg as we made the scene almost-too-late but right on time. Opening with the gothic creeper "Bulbs of Passion" and "The Lung" back to back, even an even more reserved than usual J Mascis -- not much of a talker, that one -- couldn't dull the electric thrill of the reunited band's welcome re-return. Our colleague Mike Piantigini noted the exceptional versions of the originally "post-Lou" cuts "Thumb" and "Get Me" performed on Night 1, and we were again treated to the epic tracks. "Thumb," which percentage-wise is more guitar solo than song, was given a stirring reading, despite Mr. Mascis' almost comically dour demeanor.

Ostensively in the proverbial house to promote the trio's latest set of rockers, Farm, Dinosaur Jr. delivered a handful of new cuts, including the upbeat almost-anthems "Over It" [awesome video here] and album-opener "Pieces." The crowd predictably filled the brief pauses between tunes with enthusiastic applause, so Mascis' lack of interest in chatter didn't stick out. Bassist Lou Barlow -- who opened both evenings with his Lou Barlow and The Missing Men, and is promoting a record of his own that streets Tuesday -- was his usual animated self, announcing over and over and over that a particular classic cut that has just been performed had been recorded here in Cambridge, Mass., which he thought was as funny as the fact that the following cut was recorded in Amherst. Perhaps Mr. Barlow was just glad to be back in a city he had called home at one point, as Dinosaur is only relatively recently back from a jaunt abroad which lasted from late August through the end of September. Anyhow, we were glad to have Dinosaur back in our town, and look forward to seeing them a lot more.

Read Mike Piantigini's coverage of Night 1 at the Middle East right here.

Dinosaur Jr. -- "Severed Lips (Live)" -- Daytrotter Session (June 9, 2009)
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[buy Dinosaur Jr. records from Newbury Comics right here]

Dinosaur Jr.: Internerds | MySpace | YouTube | Flickr

Previous Dinosaur Jr. Coverage:
That Was The Show That Was: Dinosaur Jr. (Night 1) | Middle East
YouTube Rodeo: Dinosaur Jr.'s "Been There All The Time" In Paris
That Was The Show That Was: Built To Spill, Dinosaur Jr, Meat Puppets
YouTube Rodeo: Dinosaur Jr.'s "Puke And Cry" Live
YouTube Rodeo: Under-Rated Dinosaur Jr. Or "Whatever"
NotYouTube Rodeo: Dinosaur Jr. Live At Amoeba Music
That Was The Show That Was: Dinosaur Jr. | Urban Outfitters

October 3, 2009

That Was The Show That Was: Dinosaur Jr. (Night 1) | Middle East

Dinosaur Jr., Middle East Downstairs, 10/2/09; Photos by Michael Piantigini

Whose crowd is more enraptured by the sound of "Just Like Heaven?" The Cure's? Or Dinosaur Jr.'s? My money's on the latter. By the time the band got through to this capper of their 80 or so minutes, tonight's adoring crowd went nuts at the sound of that bass line. Sure, Dinosaur Jr. is part nostalgia trip, especially for loooong-time fans -- how could they not be? But the ranges in age at the gig, along with the band's two especially strong albums since reforming the original line-up, make Dinosaur one of the few indie bands of their era that successfully transcend generations. There are plenty of young fans to keep J Mascis in purple high tops for a long time.

Though it seems like Mascis gets all the accolades, the original line-up is as much about drummer Murph and, especially, bassist Lou Barlow. How do you find room between Mascis' 3 full stacks (plus another combo) and Murph's thunder? Partially by fighting fire with fire: Barlow's Marshall half-stack/Ampeg SVT combination deals a wallop; but its Lou's throwing his entire body into his playing -- flailing with the bass and playing huge chords -- that helps put him on equal footing.

This is one of those shows where there will always be some folks disappointed that they didn't play their favorite song, but Dinosaur covered a lot of ground. Half-a-dozen -- most of all the strongest tracks -- from this year's Farm were represented, though I was disappointed that "Been There All The Time" was the lone representative from 2007's excellent Beyond. There were plenty of great oldies, of course: they tore through "Forget The Swan," and "Freak Scene" was every bit the anthem it should be. Post-Barlow (and pre-Barlow, as it turns out) tracks like the epic opener "Thumb," along with "Get Me" and "Feel The Pain," feel a little weird with Barlow playing them (like, why not throw in a Sebadoh song then?), but he puts enough of a stamp on them to make the set a well-rocked full-on career-spanner. Only 1997's Hand It Over went unrepresented, but I don't think it was missed. Watch this space for Jay's report on tonight's show, when Dinosaur plays the finale of their two-night stand at the Middle East. -- Michael Piantigini

Here's the full setlist:

1. Thumb
2. Been There All The Time
3. I Want You To Know
4. Imagination Blind
5. In A Jar
6. Get Me
7. Pieces
8. Plans
9. Feel The Pain
10. Over It
11. Forget The Swan
12. The Wagon
13. Freak Scene
14. I Don't Wanna Go There

15. Kracked
16. Just Like Heaven