March 31, 2010

Today's Hotness: The Lodger, Bettie Serveert, Superman Revenge Squad

>> Leeds, England-based pure-play indie pop concern The Lodger are back next week with a delightful new piece of aural heaven, the single "Have A Little Faith In People." The track is culled from the quartet's forthcoming third long-player Flashbacks, which will be released at the end of April. "Have A Little Faith In People" makes us long for the early days of MTV, a time when the rising television channel was heavily attuned to the new wave of music coming out of the UK. Of course, The Lodger is likely more interested by the underground, Postcard Records sounds of that era rather than the stuff that actually made its way to American teevee screens. But even so, there is something about The Lodger's fresh, clean and unadorned (save for some tasteful, buoyant brass) guitar pop here that makes us nostalgic. "Have A Little Faith In People" will be issued in the UK 5 April on This Is Fake DIY and in the U.S. the following day digitally via Slumberland Records. The Lodger's debut Grown Ups was released in 2007, and it was followed by Life Is Sweet in 2008. Catch the stream of the forthcoming single below.

>> Dutch indie rock lifers Bettie Serveert have always been fond of presenting their songs in different styles, or at least running through them as simple acoustic versions. Heck, their last album, 2006's Bare Stripped Naked, was based in part around this notion. It recast a few songs from their past -- and future, since "What They Call Love" is remade as a rocker on their new album. So here we have this rough-and-ready take of their new Pharmacy Of Love track,"Semaphore." It may be stripped of the studio sheen and killer drums, but it still retains its urgency. Read our review of Pharmacy Of Love right here. -- Michael Piantigini

Bettie Serveert -- "Semaphore (Acoustic Version)"
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[buy Bettie Serveert records from Newbury Comics right here]

>> According to this blog post top English songwriter Ben Parker's Superman Revenge Squad is preparing the release of Dead Crow Blues EP, which will apparently include the songs "Playing God Games," "An Old Man Flicking Through A Pornographic Magazine," "The Summer We Finally Cut Our Hair" and "An Endless Bottle Of Blood-Red Wine... Whistling Into The Abyss." Superman Revenge Squad recently performed those and the older cut "I’m Gonna Go To Bed And When I Wake Up I'm Gonna Be Someone Else" for a video podcast, the details of which podcast are still being sorted. But Superman Revenge Squad's planned EP sounds very exciting, not only because it will include recent collaborator Martin on cello, but also because Mr. Parker hopes to feature his brother and former Nosferatu D2 bandmate Adam on drums on one track. Artwork for Dead Crow Blues has already been secured from Dave Broadbent, whose work you will know from the 2009 Nosferatu D2 release We're Gonna Walk Around This City With Our Headphones On To Block Out The Noise [review here]. Parker and Martin have also been asked to soundtrack a film, but there are few details available about that.

March 29, 2010

Review: Lali Puna | Our Inventions [MP3]

According to its label, Lali Puna's fourth full length Our Inventions addresses modernity and "the driving forces of progress and technological obsession" -- themes that the Munich-based electropop quartet has plumbed since at least its 2001 sophomore set Scary World Theory. If there is an unexpected change manifested in Our Inventions it is the return of a softer tone and predominantly electronic palette. The change is perhaps too easy to associate with fronter Valerie Trebeljahr having become a mother for the first time since the release of the band's last record, but it also offers a ready raison d'etre for Lali Puna's retrenching its music nearer the minimalist style of its debut full-length, 1999's startlingly excellent Tridecoder. There is something to be cherished in the quiet and peaceful that new parents likely appreciate more than most.

The subdued tone contrasts sharply with the quartet's prior full-length, 2004's almost boisterous (and certainly Notwist-like) Faking The Books. That thrilling collection was replete with big guitar chords that complemented surprisingly well Ms. Trebeljahr's trademark electronics and wispy vocals. It targeted unpopular regimes and Orwellian corporations; we consider the set a strong rebuke of the U.S.-led "war on terror," and it is impossible not to recognize as criticism the coopting of a then-current Microsoft ad tagline for the chorus of the excellent (pardon this) rocker "Metronomic." There are hints of that outward-facing, critical voice on Our Inventions, such as the ominous, dense mid-album standout "Safe Tomorrow" (in which Trebeljahr repeatedly warns "never going anywhere" over pulsing laptop beats and droning synths). But for the most part the new set is the most insular and intimate since Tridecoder. Opener "Rest Your Head" and closer/album highlight "Out There" could prove serviceable as lullabyes.

Fans unfamiliar with Lali Puna's catalog prior to Faking The Books may find the limited dynamics on Our Inventions puzzling. But despite a mesmerizing (and perhaps hyperbole-deflecting) consistency across its 10 tracks, there is a degree of sophistication in the compositions that emphasizes that, in its 11th year of releasing records, Lali Puna continues evolving. Trebeljahr's quiet, breathy delivery is as arresting as ever (particularly on "That Day," which touts a Depeche Mode-mode rhythm track), and the intelligent electronic textures that underpin her pensive, quietly anxious tunes continue to present a captivating focal point. The wonderful unspoken truth of the music on Our Inventions is that, in fact, it is not minimalist at all: every synth tone or electro beat hides beneath still more layers of sound, be they understated guitars, chopped up vocals or more synths and beats.

Our Inventions will be officially issued by Morr Music in Europe April 9; it will be available in the U.S. on April 27, according to Newbury Comics' web site. The record was "pre-released" to ITunes last Thursday along with an ITunes-only bonus track "See The Wood For Trees," which was previously only available on the "Remember" 7". Fans who purchase the CD or vinyl version of Our Inventions directly from Morr receive a copy of the "Remember" 7" for free, which makes the ITunes exclusivity of "See The Wood For The Trees" seem less and less, well, exclusive. Lali Puna plan a European tour for May and early June, and you can inspect all the dates below.

Lali Puna -- "Remember" -- Our Inventions
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[buy Lali Puna records from Newbury Comics right here]

Lali Puna: Internerds | MySpace | YouTube | Flickr

05.13 -- Conne Island -- Leipzig
05.14 -- Lido -- Berlin
05.15 -- Lagerhaus -- Bremen
05.16 -- Gebäude 9 -- Köln
05.17 -- Übel und Gefährlich -- Hamburg
05.18 -- Ekko -- Utrecht
05.19 -- Cactus -- Brugge
05.20 -- Pavillon Theatre -- Brighton
05.21 -- Le Grand Mix -- Lille
05.22 -- Mousonturm -- Frankfurt
05.28 -- Ampere -- München
05.29 -- Immergut Festival -- Neustrelitz
05.30 -- SC -- Zagreb
05.31 -- Gala Hala -- Ljubliana
06.01 -- Lokomotiv -- Bologna
06.02 -- Spazio 211 -- Turin
06.03 -- Exil -- Zürich
06.04 -- Exit 07 -- Luxembourg
06.05 -- Furia Festival -- Cergy

March 25, 2010

Johnny Foreigner Delivers Digital Versions Of Every Cloakroom Ever EP

Fans of Birmingham, England-based noise pop superlatives Johnny Foreigner who pre-ordered the long-awaited, forthcoming "Every Cloakroom Ever" single found a surprise in their email inboxes Tuesday in the form of links to download digital versions of what is now the Every Cloakroom Ever 10" EP. The collection was originally slated to be a single but got blown out to four tracks after enough fans jumped on board with pre-orders to make the cost structure work. Another cool thing is that the digital version of the EP was delivered as 320kbps MP3s and .WAV files. You might wonder why they bothered with the WAV files -- until you listen to the bass in the WAV file of the title track, which bass sounds as if it will explode through your speakers. So awesome. The physical manifestation of Every Cloakroom Ever has a fuzzy release date, but it is generally expected to ship next month. As the band has spent a fair amount of time in a different hemisphere in recent weeks, and there was touring to take care of prior to that, and given Johnny Foreigner is handling the vinyl release itself through special arrangement with its label Best Before, the extra time to get the product out is reasonable. Especially considering the cover art will include the name of every single person who pre-ordered the physical media, as (we imagine painstakingly) rendered by the inimitable Lewes Herriot.

In addition to the title track, the aforementioned EP contains three b-sides: "For The Chains," "Things I Would Have Swapped For Heart-Shaped Glasses, 2001-2006" and the actually quite wonderful remix of the title track "Ever Every Cloakroom." The remix is notable because fronter and guitarist Alexei Berrow takes the vocals handled by bassist Kelly Southern in the original version and vice versa. Between that and the brilliant production, we humbly suggest that this remix may actually be better than the source itself: maybe. "For The Chains" (lyrics posted here) is driven by Berrow's spiraling spoken lyrics, much like the verse of the "Criminals" b-side "Palace Fires." However, "For The Chains" is somehow more melancholy despite having a bigger electronic beat. The big, airy reverb on the clean lead guitar, some phasing drone and surprise-filled, layered production (that knocking sound tucked into the eaves of the last 30 seconds actually drives us a little batty thinking someone is at the door) makes the amazing track perhaps the most We Left You Sleeping And Gone-ish of anything the band has done in the last five years. "Things I Would Have Swapped For Heart-Shaped Glasses, 2001-2006" (lyrics posted here) opens with a somewhat discordant and Pavement-y riff (delivered at twice Pavement speed) that is sure to make the track a quick fan favorite.

So we know that pre-orders were taken and fared very well. One thing we don't know is if folks who did not pre-order will be able to get their hands on the 10" vinyl. We'll try to get the answers for you.

March 23, 2010

Review: Bettie Serveert | Pharmacy Of Love [MP3]

Bettie Serveert
takes just long enough between albums that every one feels like a comeback. This one especially, because it is so fantastic. Let’s just establish this right off the bat: Pharmacy of Love (Second Motion) is easily the best front-to-back Bettie Serveert album since their 1992 debut, Palomine.

It is true that they can never re-create the soundtrack-of-my-life nostalgia that I have for that album (and 1992 generally, since it was such a major formative music year for me, it being the year of Let Me Come Over, Tossing Seeds and Slanted And Enchanted, among many others), and it wouldn’t be fair to ask or expect it. Even still, Pharmacy gives it a run for its money: it’s sharper, more focused, and more driven.

I’ve always thought of these Dutchpersons as a great guitar band. Palomine’s warm strummy jangle just felt and sounded real, like you were there in the basement with them. Dust Bunnies’ “Geek” amped it up and still takes my breath away. I guess that’s why I got impatient with some of some of the band’s more meandering mid-period, especially when they brought in more electronics (like on some of 2005's Attagirl, say) . The songwriting was a bit less consistent – though there were certainly plenty of gems throughout. It feels like they’ve been searching for something, and Pharmacy of Love seems to bring it all into focus.

Driven, yes, by those beloved, though sharper, guitars, but especially by explosive new drummer Joppe Molenaar – the Betties sound more like a hungry young band with something to prove and less like a band 20 years and 8 albums in (the rest of the band, singer Carol van Dyke, guitarist Peter Visser and bassist Herman Bunskoeke, have all been on board since the beginning).

I could highlight each track from this album of energy and spark, but I’ll settle on three: If there were any justice (but I know there really isn’t), the album’s single and leadoff track, “Deny All,” would be the giant hit of the summer. The propulsive rhythm (with the aforementioned explosive drumming), the catchy chorus – isn’t rock and roll due to come back again? “The Pharmacy” feels epic, though more by its drama than by its length. Driven (yes, again) by an insistent drum pattern, the track starts otherwise sparse, adding tension by synth before finally resolving into a driving beat topped by guitar freak-out. And “Change4Me,” with van Dyke’s sweet vocals and its laid-back, strum could have been on Palomine.

I friggin’ love this record.

Also: don’t miss the iTunes-only “Deny All” EP – there’s a non-LP track and a couple of alternate versions that are worth the extry couple bucks.

They seem to be doing lots of touring, but no word on a US trek just yet. In looking at their schedule, I wouldn’t count on it until the fall. And, say, that's when Teenage Fanclub are supposed to hit the US in support of their finally-announced new album, Shadows. Just sayin'. -- Michael Piantigini

Bettie Serveert - "Deny All" - Pharmacy of Love
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[buy Pharmacy Of Love from Newbury Comics right here]

Bettie Serveert: Intertubes | MySpace | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube

March 22, 2010

Reader Rewards: Beach House, Ted Leo, Los Campesinos!, Shout Out Louds

We haven't forgotten about you, you who love the indie rock as much as life itself. Time was we were giving away a lot of tickets for Boston area fans. Good times, right? Well the good times are back, beginning later this week, when we will be giving away the first of several hot pairs of tickets to soak in the now sounds at Paradise Rock Club. The first pair on offer will be to see Baltimore dream pop duo Beach House's sold-out show this coming Sunday (March 28). We also have a pair of tickets for each of Ted Leo with Obits (April 10), Los Campesinos! (April 24) and Shout Out Louds (May 6). So much good rock that it somewhat boggles the mind. So how do you get a chance at these? You need to follow us on the Twitterz, where our handle is @clickyclicky, and where we will a couple days before each show 1) give fair warning that we are about to give the tickets away to one lucky winner, 2) give the tickets away to the first person who replies or DMs us and 3) announce the winner. It's fun, it happens fast, and it is efficient. So start following us, already! Look for the Beach House tickets to get given and gotten sometime Thursday.

Rock Over Boston | The Clientele, Field Music | Great Scott | 3.22.10

The Clientele with Field Music at Great Scott, Allston, MA 3/22/2010. Photos by Michael Piantigini

March 21, 2010

Today's Hotness: Captain Polaroid, The Answering Machine

>> [IMAGE CREDIT:] Birmingham, England-based lo-fi stalwart Captain Polaroid Sunday put the finishing touches on his tribute to Mark Linkous, in the form of a cover of Sparklehorse's wonderful, poignant "Ghost Of His Smile." As this is our favorite Sparklehorse song, we jumped at the chance to offer the track, and were pleased when Mr. Polaroid gave his assent. And so we offer below Captain Polaroid's spot-on take on this wonderful track. Mr. Linkous took his own life March 6; he was 47. Read Ben Sisario's memoriam in the New York Times here. Captain Polaroid also recently covered Pavement's "Here" as part of Filthy Little Angels' Pavement tribute compilation we wrote about previously, errr... here.

>> We tweeted this last week but it is worth reiterating: Manchester, England-based guitar pop foursome The Answering Machine have built their own studio, in which the act intends to record a planned sophomore set. Band fronter Martin Colclough will produce. This all according to a blog post from the band you can read here. The Answering Machine has been writing new material, and we hope that -- as in the past -- demos make it online for public consumption. After demoing many tracks with Tony Hoffer a couple years back, a handful were posted to the band's MySpace. Glancing through our ITunes, we see that some demos (both Hoffer and pre-Hoffer) never made it on to the The Answering Machine's superlative first full-length Another City, Another Sorry, including the wonderful "Romantic And Square," "Time" and "The Photographer." We'd really like to see at least the first of those pop up somewhere down the line. The band's debut was one of our favorite albums of 2009, and we reviewed it a year ago right here.

March 17, 2010

Review: A Weather | Everyday Balloons [MP3s]

Perhaps the greatest challenge for thoughtful songwriters is to write compelling songs about relationships that don't bluntly reiterate the trite tropes of unrequited love, failed love or the teen ideal of infinite love. Yes, we know your baby done you wrong, up and left you, and/or won't text you back. But what about songs that address living in love, what people in relationships do to fill their days, ward off the doubt? Some songwriters can do it well, once in a while. Only the best songwriters can do it consistently and make those efforts sound effortless. Slow-core upstarts A Weather, led by singer and guitarist Aaron Gerber, did it across its entire 2008 debut record Cove. The set, which we named one of the best of the last decade here, is a quiet, beautiful and intense recitation of sweetly whispered secrets.

The Portland, Ore.-based quintet return this month with the charming Everyday Balloons. In contrast to its debut, the music on the new collection is relatively (relatively) cacaphonous. Gerber and his cohort -- while still nodding in the sonically disciplined direction of one-time tourmates The New Year and, on "Seven Blankets," to the long-gone Codeine -- have filled out the compositions on Everyday Balloons and expanded their dynamic range by deploying piano, more electric guitars and more assertive drumming. There is even (thrilling) guitar feedback in certain places. While the new collection is louder -- the album shudders to a close with the stirring climax of "Lay Me Down" -- it remains characteristically mesmerizing, paralleling the fevered state Gerber references in the exhilarating album opener "Third Of Life" ("and I thought I was hot stuff/but it's just that I was burning up...").

That said, the changes do alter the tone we had grown accustomed to from A Weather. The broader instrumentation and increased volume more fully illuminate on Everyday Balloons what was obscured in the dark corners of Cove. Beyond tone, the new set addresses broader themes with a sort of natural realism we associate with writers like Sherwood Anderson. Everyday Balloons focuses tightly on elevating the mundane and holding it up as a thing of beauty. Its songs limn in crisp detail quiet, unremarkable domestic moments and diurnal ephemera that in aggregate comprise a wide-eyed, brighter -- but still troubled and questioning -- outlook. The aforementioned "Third Of Life," in the midst of its observations about the fleeting nature of time, describes positioning a bed pillow, brushing teeth. The piano-led ballad "Midday Moon" sung by percussionist Sarah Winchester (whose enchanting vocals, we should note, provide counterpoint to Gerber's on nearly every A Weather track) begins with a rumination about cleaning a bathroom. The brilliant album closer "Lay Me Down" rides a melodic spiral of picked guitar and chimes, but makes time to analyze the act of "tucking back your hair/right behind your ear."

A Weather embarks on a North American tour to support the release of Everyday Balloons April 10. The band plays Somerville, Mass.'s P.A.'s Lounge April 19 with Drew O'Doherty supporting.

A Weather -- "Giant Stairs" -- Everyday Balloons
A Weather -- "Third Of Life" -- Everyday Balloons
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[buy Everyday Balloons from Team Love right here]

04.10 -- The Woods -- Portland, OR
04.12 -- Kilby Court -- Salt Lake City, UT
04.13 -- Hi Dive -- Denver, CO
04.15 -- Vaudeville Mews -- Des Moines, IA
04.16 -- 400 Bar -- Minneapolis, MN
04.19 -- P.A.'s Lounge -- Somerville, MA
04.20 -- Apohadion -- Portland, ME
04.21 -- The Lamb Abbey -- Montpelier, VT
04.22 -- AS220 -- Providence, RI
04.23 -- Union Hall -- Brooklyn, NY
04.25 -- Galaxy Hut -- Washington DC
04.26 -- Joe Squared -- Baltimore, MD
04.28 -- Off Broadway -- St. Louis, MO
04.29 -- The Czar Bar -- Kansas City, MO
04.30 -- Jackpot -- Lawrence, KS

A Weather: Internerds | MySpace | YouTube | Flickr

Previous A Weather Coverage:
Today's Hotness: Calories, William, Lali Puna, A Weather
Be Prepared: A Weather | Everyday Balloons | 2 March
Clicky Clicky Music Blog's Top Albums 2000-2009
Clicky Clicky's Top Albums Of 2008
Review: A Weather | Cove [MP3]

March 16, 2010

The One Thing At SXSW Worth Seeing: Original Lemonheads Ben Deily And Evan Dando To Reunite After Two Decades

[PHOTO: Joshua Pickering, used with permission] After two long decades apart original Lemonheads principals Ben Deily and Evan Dando will reunite in Austin Thursday at the annual South By Southwest music confab. Beyond solid confirmation floating amongst our social networks, we have no further details (no venue, no time). But we suspect that if you monitor something like the Varsity Drag Twitter feed, you'll find details spring up -- hopefully before show time. Boston-area fans had been expecting to see Varsity Drag perform an acoustic set Thursday at the Somerville Armory, but obviously that gig has been scotched in favor of the hastily planned, history-making event.

Deily left Lemonheads in the late '80s just prior to the band's superlative major label debut Lovey, for which Dando assumed the helm of the group, which group would ascend into the wider public consciousness on the strength of the excellent It's A Shame About Ray (Ms. Juliana Hatfield's vocals on "Rudderless" still give us chills) in 1992. As clicky clicky readers know because of our microscopic coverage of the act, Deily launched his most recent band Varsity Drag earlier this decade and has two wonderful full-lengths and assorted live sets to show for it. The Drag still breaks out Deily's Lemonheads classics, and we're posting one below to celebrate the occasion we sadly will not witness.

Varsity Drag -- "Uhhh (Live WMFO)" -- Live Owls: Varsity Drag Live on WMFO
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[buy Varsity Drag records from the band right here]

March 14, 2010

Review: Frightened Rabbit | The Winter Of Mixed Drinks [MP3]

Selkirk, Scotland-based indie goliaths Frightened Rabbit's third full-length ("moving-on record") gracefully extends the themes of the band's widely lauded [including here] sophomore opus The Midnight Organ Fight ("break-up record"). But the broader context of the band's recordings and live appearances underscores that the Frightened Rabbit of today is a vastly different varmint than the one we first encountered more than three years ago. The Winter Of Mixed Drinks completes the band's incremental evolution from indie rock band -- with the emphasis on "indie" -- to a pop band. How you feel about the quintet discarding most of the darkness and aggression of its earlier work and lushly orchestrating the new, arena-scaled anthems on the recently released third full-length may slant your feelings about how the beloved act has changed during the last seven years. But by any measure, even long-time fans will find The Winter Of Mixed Drinks to be a remarkable collection.

We readily admit that we miss the old days, when Frightened Rabbit was so tightly wrapped in the sweaty sheets shrouding the dead romance plaguing fronter Scott Hutchison that the band visibly throbbed with angst. The Hutchison brothers' impassioned performances during the first few Boston shows we saw appeared existentially cathartic, to the extent that second guitarist Billy Kennedy's even-keeled strumming and leads were almost comically stoic by comparison. Still, we begrudge neither the band's trajectory, nor the warm embrace it enjoys from burgeoning legions of fans. It is an unenviable task navigating the narrow stripe among the split camps of fickle fans who will just as readily damn a band for changing as they would damn them for stylistically sitting still. Frightened Rabbit succeeds by continually tinkering and experimenting, by expanding the soft boundaries of its sonic realm.

You don't have to listen hard to Mixed Drinks to hear that fronter Scott Hutchison's facility with songcraft remains impressively deft, that the songs themselves continue to be colored by a confessional tone and emotional urgency. The pop, of course, is obvious -- you've surely already heard the uptempo strummer "Nothing Like You." But from the shimmering tremelo curtain that reveals the opening, spine-tingling anthem "Things" to the handclaps and saxophone that ushers out the stirring album closer "Yes I Would," Hutchison's increasingly ambitious arrangements are more crisply realized, more densely rendered on The Winter Of Mixed Drinks. The aforementioned "Things" is so layered with vocal harmonies one hears more voices the harder one listens. "The Wrestle" features orchestration and production so skillfully arranged that a listener feels like he could dive into it, swim straight down, and never reach the bottom. "Skip The Youth" doesn't end so much as it dramatically decomposes like some kind of Victorian-era mechanical man. FR's prior full-lengths both touted notable interstitial song bits, and the new record is no different: "Man/Bag Of Sand" repackages pieces of "Swim Until You Can't See Land" into an ethereal, droning wonder.

Fat Cat Records issued The Winter Of Mixed Drinks March 9. The band will be in America for the annual South By Southwest confab next week, but then heads to Europe for a series of dates. Frightened Rabbit returns to the U.S. for Coachella April 17, and from there embarks on a five-week North American tour. All tour dates are listed at the band's MySpace domicile right here. Frightened Rabbit performs at Paradise Rock Club in Boston April 29.

Frightened Rabbit -- "Swim Until You Can't See Land" -- The Winter Of Mixed Drinks
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[buy The Winter Of Mixed Drinks from Newbury Comics right here]

Frightened Rabbit: Internets | MySpace | YouTube | Flickr

Selected Prior Frightened Rabbit coverage:
FR Live at Great Scott, January 2009
FR Live at the Middle East, October 2008
FR Live at TT The Bear's, July 2008
FR Live at the Middle East, March 2008
Review: Frightened Rabbit | The Midnight Organ Fight
FR Live at Great Scott, November 2007

March 9, 2010

Be Prepared: Everyone Everywhere | Self-titled | 4 May

It's been a long winter, and we expect you're ready for the malaise to dispel. Maybe you've been downsized. Maybe your lady up and left you because she says she "could never love you like she loves Scott Baio." Maybe you've been kicked in the gonads one time too many. Fortunately, Philadelphia-based emo superheroes Everyone Everywhere have been thinking ahead to the care-free days of summer, and specifically how you'll need a soundtrack for good times and warm weather. While you won't be wrong saying Everyone Everywhere reminds you of The Promise Ring, we think it's more correct to say that this band, and this forthcoming set, sounds like summer. And so the quartet will release its full-length debut via Tiny Engines May 4th. The new set, which comes in the now-almost-imperceptible wake of the 2008 7" EP A Lot Of Weird People Standing Around, will be made available digitally and on limited-edition, colored vinyl (350 maroon, 150 white). Pre-order Everyone Everywhere right here. In the meantime, the band is cobbling together a strand of tour dates to support the record. We're pleased to see at least some of them are slated for "venues" in the Philly 'burbs near where we ourselves were born and raised (Grand Slam USA? Isn't that the indoor batting cages?). Inspect the full itinerary as it stands now below.

03.17 -- The Fire -- Philadelphia, PA
03.26 -- Grand Slam USA -- Malvern, PA
03.27 -- AVA House -- Philadelphia, PA
04.03 -- MacRock -- Harrisonburg, VA
04.23 -- (House Show) -- Malvern, PA
05.07 -- Fennario -- West Chester, PA
05.08 -- Charm City Art Space -- Baltimore, MD
05.11 -- Kung Fu Necktie (Record Release Show) -- Philadelphia, PA
05.22 -- Bushwick Music Studios -- Brooklyn, NY
05.29 -- O'Brien's Pub -- Boston, MA

March 7, 2010

That Was The Show That Was: The Hush Now | Great Scott | 6 March

[UPDATE: Now includes The Hush Now's South By Southwest schedule below. -- Ed.] Some serious woodshedding in recent months and key lineup changes have elevated Boston-based indie pop concern The Hush Now from surprisingly-good-under-the-circumstances to downright formidable. Where previously the band in the live setting somehow over-achieved while admittedly under-rehearsing (typically due to a revolving door of sidemen), Saturday night the band was confident and more than capable. In short, they killed it. If bandleader Noel Kelly and his cohort can recreate Saturday's spirited set six times over during that many planned gigs at South By Southwest, The Hush Now may finally garner the level of awareness -- even acclaim -- that it deserves.

Late in 2009 Mr. Kelly was faced with yet another vacancy in the lineup when the band's former bassist decamped to Philadelphia. Only months prior he had to replace a lead guitarist, and fortune certainly shined upon Kelly when he was able to bring affable, imaginative lead player Adam Quane aboard. But perhaps an even more important acquisition was bassist Pat MacDonald, whose playing Saturday night reminded us of how a good rhythm section should work. In indie rock it is de rigueur for bass players to do their own thing, which usually means players foregoing the rhythmic portion of their role in favor of filling out the low end and occasionally augmenting melody. However, Mr. MacDonald thrilled us by not only being completely fluent with the repertoire, but even more so by playing directly to (and at times smartly against) The Hush Now's brilliantly understated drummer Barry Marino. We literally hadn't seen this sort of ball-in-socket playing since the short-lived career of the incredible Joey Sweeney Rock Band in the mid-'90s, which featured Brian McShane on bass and Rob Viola on drums. With MacDonald and Marino playing as a unit, The Hush Now now has dazzling sonic dimension over and above (or more accurately, under and below) the Kitchens Of Distinction-style wall of guitars and synth and impassioned vocals. As nice as the band's two self-released full-lengths are, suddenly The Hush Now is a band that needs to be seen -- and heard -- live.

As the evening was intended to celebrate the release of Constellations, The Hush Now's sophomore set released locally in mid-2009, the performance Saturday drew largely from that collection. The single "Hoping And Waiting" was given a lively reading, as was the title track and the under-rated album cuts "Smokescreens" and "Thorns" (a download of which we are offering below). Later in the set The Hush Now pulled out "Traditions," a highlight of the band's debut self-titled set, and if memory serves the band closed with a new track ridiculously titled "Stu-stu-studio." Kelly tells us that the band intends to post video blogs from South By Southwest, and we are hoping that a fair amount of live footage makes the cut. We don't yet have the band's Austin appearances in hand, but we hope to post them soon. The Hush Now plans at least two stops on the way to Austin to promote Constellations, and those live dates are posted below.

The Hush Now -- "Thorns" -- Constellations
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[download the entire record here]

The Hush Now: Internerds | MySpace | YouTube | Flickr

03.12 -- Uncle Mike’s -- New York City, NY
03.14 -- The Khyber -- Philadelphia, PA
03.17 -- Black Ice (5:15PM) -- Austin, TX [SXSW]
03.18 -- TRF Outdoor Complex (12:00PM) -- Austin, TX [SXSW]
03.18 -- The Side Bar (4:00PM) -- Austin, TX [SXSW]
03.19 -- Pure (2:00PM) -- Austin, TX [SXSW]
03.20 -- Mugshots (5:00PM) -- Austin, TX [SXSW]
03.21 -- Cheapodiscs (In-store, 4:00PM) -- Austin, TX [SXSW]

Previous Hush Now Coverage:
Review: The Hush Now | Constellations [MP3]
YouTube Rodeo: The Hush Now's "Wishing You A Very Merry Christmas"
YouTube Rodeo: The Hush Now's "Constellations"
Today's Hotness: The Hush Now
Back To Now: The Hush Now Interview With Noel Kelly
In The Studio With... The Hush Now

March 4, 2010

The Hush Now | Great Scott, Boston | 6 March

Constellations CD Release1_crop
The Hush Now, Boston's shape-shifting and somewhat reclusive indie pop juggernaut, is finally getting around to having a record release party for its solid sophomore effort Constellations. Longtime readers will recall that the band is somewhere in the midst of fronter and primary songwriter Noel Kelly's five-year plan, and that Mr. Kelly isn't afraid to work multiple records at the same time. So, really, it should be no surprise that The Hush Now is having a record release party almost five months after the local release of Constellations. Given the unique way Kelly conducts business, we wouldn't be surprised to learn that he's got one or more new records in the can already. But that is just speculation.

What is fact is that this show is Saturday night, and that The Hush Now has authorized us to give away three CD/shot glass combo packs to help promote the show. So here's the deal: the first three fans to send us an email (to the address linked in the sidebar) with the subject line "Don't Think About Tomorrow" will win one of these combo packs, which you can either pick up at the show this weekend, or The Hush Now's winged monkeys will mail it to you. How's that for awesome? The band has been giving away Constellations for free from its web site right here, so if you are not yet a believer, hit that link. To whet your appetite we're posting the excellent title track below. We reviewed Constellations here last August.

The Hush Now -- "Constellations" -- Constellations
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[download the entire record here]

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Previous Hush Now Coverage:
YouTube Rodeo: The Hush Now's "Wishing You A Very Merry Christmas"
YouTube Rodeo: The Hush Now's "Constellations"
Today's Hotness: The Hush Now
Back To Now: The Hush Now Interview With Noel Kelly
In The Studio With... The Hush Now
Review: The Hush Now -- The Hush Now

March 3, 2010

Today's Hotness: Pavement, Everyone Everywhere, Yuck

The charmingly monikered Filthy Little Angels label released Monday its long-anticipated, freely downloadable Pavement tribute compilation Show Me A Word That Rhymes With Pavement. While the collection is uneven, it is not all that much more uneven than historically notable (or at least the first three at the top of mind) tribute comps Step Right Up, Give Me The Cure or Homage. The repertoire on the Pavement comp, of course, is untouchable, but certain of the covers struggle (some fail) to convey either the emotional heft or the Shakespearean wise fool tone set down by Mssrs. Malkmus and Stairs and their cohort. That said, there are sterling covers to be had here, including Mascot Fight's delightful "Carrot Rope" and Olympic Swimmers' moody (moodier?), droning take on the gem "We Dance." Another highlight of Show Me A Word That Rhymes With Pavement is Benjamin Shaw's haunting interpretation of "Starlings Of The Slipstream," from Pavement's flawless Brighten The Corners release. Mr. Shaw's adaptation approaches with a deceptively diminutive scale but builds to a short, tasty cacaphony. Readers may recall that Shaw's I Got The Pox, The Pox Is What I Got EP was released by the fledgling label Audio Antihero late last year. You can download the entire Pavement tribute comp here, but we're offering the cover of "Starlings In The Slipstream" below.

Benjamin Shaw -- "Starlings Of The Slipstream" -- Show Me A Word That Rhymes With Pavement
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[download the entire compilation from Filthy Little Angels right here]

>> We're going to start talking about contemporary emo quartet Everyone Everywhere now and probably not stop talking about them for quite a while. The act is based in Philly and creates music not all that dissimilar to that of defunct emo heroes The Promise Ring, which basically means we are genetically pre-disposed toward loving Everyone Everywhere. The label Tiny Engines will release the band's self-titled full-length on May 4th, and we can already tell you the thing is super. "But Clicky Clicky," you're saying, "we want to get with this band now!" Believe us, we understand. Fortunately for you, web 'zine If You Make It is currently hosting a free download of Everyone Everywhere's very good 2008 7" A Lot Of Weird People Standing Around. The single sold out but more recently was reissued by Evil Weevil, so if you need that stuff on vinyl go here. As for the forthcoming full-length, it can already be pre-ordered from the band's MySpace dojo right here. The vinyl version will be a limited edition of 500, with 350 pressed on maroon vinyl and the rest pressed to off-white. We're posting a track from A Lot Of Weird People Standing Around below because it is awesome.

Everyone Everywhere -- "Cool Pool Keg Toss Pete" -- A Lot Of Weird People Standing Around
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[download A Lot Of Weird People Standing Around here]
[buy the 7" here]

>> So, yes, thank you commenter with the information about the awesome London-based band Yuck, which we first wrote about here last month, and which we now know is a quartet that is sometimes a quintet, two of whom used to be in an act called Cajun Dance Party. We actually discovered some of this for ourselves after scouring the Yuck blog and watching this video of the band playing somewhere at a club called The Lexington. Or maybe the song is called "The Lexington?" The band continues to offer us more questions than answers, but that is how we like it. Yuck issues its undeniable debut track "Georgia," one side of a split single, March 15 on Transparent Records. We are sure we'll have more to say about these guys soon.

March 2, 2010

Rock Over Boston | Demme, Young, and Hitchcock at the Coolidge | WFMU

Jonathan Demme and Robyn Hitchcock[Jonathan Demme talks about his new film and how to shoot Robyn Hitchcock at the Coolidge Corner Theatre, March 1, 2010. Photo by Michael Piantigini]

So hand-held camera fan-shot concert films are a thing now, but most of them aren't directed by Jonathan Demme.

Neil Young Trunk Show isn't strictly speaking fan-shot (well, they're probably fans too, right?), but the effect is similar. Last night at the venerable Coolidge Corner Theatre (who are honoring Demme this year with their 2010 Coolidge Award), speaking before what was described as the final print of the film (though it has been kicking around for nearly a year since it premiered at last year's SXSW), Demme talked about his minimal direction to his camera crew, who he said were all musicians. Shoot what you want for as long as you want. What Demme put together from what they shot can only be described as intimate, trite as that sounds. It is, though, intimate in all the right ways: sometimes you're pumping your fist in the third row, sometimes you're backstage watching the tour doctor help Young out with an errant fingernail, and other times, you're there on stage with him.

Ultimately, though, it's all about that tone. That particular alchemy that Neil Young teases out of his fingers on his strings (he's usually not using a pick), through that mysterious magic industrial pedal board, and through that amp at the back of the stage tha that looks like part of an old console stereo you used to see in your grandparents' attic. There's a good mix in the film of Young's acoustic balladry ("Ambulance Blues,") and, yes, there's a few obvious hits ("Like A Hurricane"), but the centerpiece of the film is the 20 minute "No Hidden Path" from 2007's Chrome Dreams II, which stands up to any of Neil Young's epic guitar orgies. Wish I was at the show.

Demme re-created his Trunk Show approach last night by bringing previous documentary subject and pal, Robyn Hitchcock along with him and inviting anyone in the audience with a video camera to record his performance. We got some decent footage of his one song set of "Born On The Wind" from the new album by Robyn Hitchcock and the Venus 3, Propellor Time. There doesn't seem to be a US release planned for Propellor Time at the moment, but the UK version is being done by Sartorial, so you can check it out over there. It isn't clear how or where to send the footage, but I'll certainly let you know if it gets used!

When was the last time you sat in a theater and watched a whole concert film, by the way? Been awhile for me. For a long time, it seems, these sorts of things are experienced on DVD at home, while you're half paying attention. Worth trying again, I say.

ALSO WORTH YOUR ATTENTION: The radio station that is everything that radio stations are supposed to be, WFMU of Jersey City, NJ, is heard around these parts and worldwide on the internets and on their incredible new version 2.0 of their iPhone app - is just starting up their once per year two-week fundraising drive. Unlike most fundraising drives, WFMU's are a blast to listen to and the swag you get for pledging is nothing short of mind-blowing. I personally can't wait to get my hands on Tom Scharpling's Best Show on WFMU premium the "Chump Steamroller Fun Pack" that features an all-star DVD among many other things (and tune in tonight to hear Ted Leo among other guests), and the CDs curated by Boston-area native Evan "Funk" Davies, and Cherry Blossom Clinic hostess Terre T., among so many others. Oh, look! You can give right here:

-Michael Piantigini

March 1, 2010

Be Prepared: Fleeting Joys | Despondent Transponder [Reissue] | 11 March

California-based shoegaze titans Fleeting Joys announced last week that the duo's stunning, twice-out-of-print full-length debut Despondent Transponder will be reissued with bonus tracks March 11 in Japan on the Thomason Sounds label. The reissue is augmented with two electrifying bonus tracks, "Cross Out My Heart" and "Morphine Drip." Both songs are streaming at Fleeting Joys' MySpace wigwam, and much to our delight the band has consented to our offering "Morphine Drip" as a download, so if you dig the stream come on back and grab the tune. To celebrate the renewed physical availability of the set the band jets off to Japan in early April for a short strand of performances that we would kill to be able to see. So, hey, Japanese readers (reader? oh come on, we must have one!), please shoot video and upload the clips to YouTube or Vimeo or whatnot. We've posted the Japanese dates below.

Despondent Transponder was first released in 2006 and we were hipped to its existence by the one of our favorite old blogs Spoilt Victorian Child (which has since transformed itself into a record label whose roster includes the ridiculously awesome, Austin, Texas-based shoegaze heroes Ringo Deathstarr). Fleeting Joys fans may recall that the label doing the Transpondent Desponder reissue, Thomason Sounds, also did the Japanese release of the band's spectacular sophomore set Occult Radiance. The domestic release of that latter record was one of our favorite albums of 2009, and its track "You Are The Darkness" one of our favorite songs of that year, and, frankly, one of our favorite songs period. Anyway, we honestly have no idea how much the Japanese reissue of Despondent Transponder will set you back, due to our inability to read Japanese. But we can tell you the record is fantastic and maybe you should enlist the services of a Japanese-speaking friend to do some investigating for you; it's that good. For the budget-conscious shoppers among you, both Fleeting Joys records are available from, or, if you'd like to pay a little more, ITunes.

Fleeting Joys -- "Morphine Drip" -- Despondent Transponder [Japanese reissue bonus track]
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[buy the Thomason Sounds reissue of Despondent Transponder here]

04/03 -- Sunsui -- Osaka
04/04 -- Tightrope -- Nagoya
04/05 -- Fever -- Tokyo
04/06 -- Liquidroom -- Tokyo