April 30, 2010

Everyone Everywhere Blog Tour: "Obama House, Fukui Prefecture"

So, seriously, have you been on the Everyone Everywhere blog tour yet? 10 blogs united to debut one each of the 10 tracks comprising the Philly-based indie punk act's superlative self-titled set due next week? We're the final piece in the puzzle: if you hit all the links below you'll be able to consume some nice bloggin' and pick up the first nine songs from the forthcoming full-length at one and the same time. It's so win-win, we think we should call it win-win-win. MP3s for all the songs will be available at the individual sites for download until May 4, at which time the files get yanked and Pun Canoes begins streaming the record. Clicky Clicky is the last stop on the tour, so if you haven't circumnavigated the links below yet, we'll wait.

01. "Tiny Planet" @ The Ripple Effect
02. "Raw Bar OBX 2002' @ Can You See The Sunset?
03. "From The Beginning To The Tail" @ Built On A Weak Spot
04. "Tiny Town" @ Dryvetyme Onlyne
05. "Tiny Boat" @ Battle Of The Midwestern Housewives

06. "Music Work Paper Work" @ Deckfight
07. "Blown Up Grown Up" @ The Album Project
08. "Fld Ovr" @ Familiarize Yourself
09. "I Feel Fine" @ Reviewsic

Which brings us to track 10, the amazing "Obama House, Fukui Prefecture." This song, perhaps more than any other on Everyone Everywhere's stellar debut, hits a well-defined musical sweet spot of ours: the juxtaposition of almost detached, murmured vocals underpinned by driving, heads-down rock. When fronter Brendan McHugh dreamily professes "I've never built a house myself..." as the band bashes away, guitars blazing, it's magic. It also sort of winks in the direction of the close of the excellent track "Thermal Dynamics" from the act's 2008 A Lot Of Weird People Standing Around EP.

The icing on the cake that is "Obama House, Fukui Prefecture" is a sly little production touch, first encountered by us in the opening track of Death Cab For Cutie's wonderful We Have The Facts And We're Voting Yes, wherein the equalization or mix on the drums shifts from your typical pop sound to a clobbering, roomy treatment. Rather than throwing the switch after the opening verse as Death Cab did, Everyone Everywhere waits until the thundering climax of "Obama House, Fukui Prefecture," knocking the proceedings slightly sideways to delicious effect. Anyway, grab the track at the link below for a limited time, then pre-order the collection at the other link. Everyone Everywhere is available digitally and on limited-edition, colored vinyl (350 maroon, 150 white). The band launches a short strand of tour dates May 7 that includes a Memorial Day weekend stop at Boston's O'Brien's Pub; all of the dates are listed below.

Everyone Everywhere -- "Obama House, Fukui Prefecture" -- Everyone Everywhere
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[buy Everyone Everywhere music from Tiny Engines right here]


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

April 26, 2010

Today's Hotness: Tre Orsi, The Boo Jays

>> You'll be excused for mistaking Tre Orsi's exceptional new rocker for a new, more aggressive track from California-based indie concern CoCo B's. Or even an old track from the late, lamented Lefty's Deceiver. But no, in fact Tre Orsi is Tre Orsi, and you will likely start hearing the name more and more with the release of the Denton, Texas-based indie rock act's debut full length. The collection is titled Devices + Emblems, and it will be released digitally by the rock-solid Comedy Minus One label June 8; the LP version of the record has been available from the band since late March. Devices + Emblems was produced by Bubba Kadane of Bedhead/The New Year fame, which may account for the transcendent guitar tone in the wonderful preview track "The Engineer" that we have posted below. Or maybe it does not account for that, perhaps the Tre Orsi chaps know from transcendent guitar tone, we don't want to short change them. "The Engineer" featured on the recent Matador scene comp Casual Victim Pile, and the band previously released a single "No. 7." The single is appended to the digital release of Devices + Emblems as bonus tracks. Pre-order the record right here.

Tre Orsi's "The Engineer"

>> In addition to being a holiday and a time of year, Halloween is also a state of mind. We know this because Mrs. Clicky Clicky is all about Halloween no matter what the calendar says. She would seem to have a kindred spirit in Naveed Mir, the sole proprietor of the Portland, Ore.-based spooky surf-psych band The Boo Jays. Mr. Mir's own Astrodorque Records will issue June 24 The Boo Jays' four-song single Happy Halloween on cassette and 7" glow in the dark vinyl. It's a little B-52s, a little Bauhaus, and more than a little awesome. Reverbed, bending guitar chords, eerie vintage synth and quietly growled vocals are the pleasantly recognizable psych signifiers for "Creepy Crawlin'." But the song we like best is "We Drank Your Blood With The Owls," which leads off side B of the planned release. The uptempo track rides breakneck drumming while Mir offers some of his hookier vocal and organ melodies. All the while a lead guitar line ripples under the weight of something like overdriven Small Stone under a canopy of crash cymbal. It's a hot track. Mir has graciously consented to let us give the track away here. Check it out, and if you dig it, order the vinyl here.

The Boo Jays' "We Drank Your Blood With The Owls"

April 23, 2010

Today's Hotness: Pernice Brothers, Yuck, White Laces

>> The muse has led indie rock veteran Joe Pernice from the damp, nicotine-stained Americana of Scud Mountain Boys through lush and crystalline New Order-influenced territory and into the singer-songwritery companion album to his charming 2009 novel "It Feels So Good When I Stop." Little did we expect that the Toronto-based artist -- who once called Massachusetts home -- would come roaring back with the rocker posted below, "Jacquline Susann." The tune, from the forthcoming fifth Pernice Brothers set Goodbye, Killer is long on organ drone and jangly guitar and touts a fringe of straight British Invasion pop sounds. It reminds us of the stark stylistic change Lilys underwent between the mind-alteringly good Eccsame The Photon Band and the vintage Kinks-channeling tour de force Better Can't Make Your Life Better. Ashmont Records will release Goodbye, Killer June 15, and we have no way of knowing whether the 138-second rocker "Jacquiline Susann" is representative of the entire set. But we really don't care -- it's great. Have a listen.

Pernice Brothers -- "Jacquline Susann" -- Goodbye, Killer
[right click and save as]
[buy Pernice Brothers music from Joe Pernice's site right here]

>> Impressive young London-based indie rock quartet Yuck totally has our number, having hit us square between the heart and soul with each of the four demos we've heard. The band's latest effort is the ballad "Suicide Policeman," and it was posted for free download at its web site earlier this week, and it is brilliant. We have here yearning Yo La Tengo-esque vocals, tremelo'd guitar, enough grit around the edges to make the entire proceeding evoke all the best in early '90s indie rock. And then when you think you've got the track pegged, enter the horns! According to It's Getting Boring By The Sea, our source for all news Yuck, the band has just been brought on to support a Dinosaur Jr. tour date in the U.K. Not too shabby, particularly since this act only has one single to its name right now to our knowledge (and it is only a split). But we love what they are doing, and we love "Suicide Policeman." Download the track below.

Yuck -- "Suicide Policeman" -- Demo
[right click and save as]

>> Devoted readers may recall our review of Virginia-based indie rock concern Cinemasophia's third and final full length Fits + Cycles last year. The band has since splintered and singer/guitarist Landis Wine has launched a new project, White Laces. Based on what we've heard, White Laces is a little more aggressive, a little more lo-fi and a little more tuneful than Cinemasophia. Mr. Wine has graciously consented to allow us to offer a stream of the new track "Motorik Twilight," which will be released on an EP digitally and on audiocassette May 11 by Lynchburg, VA-based micro-indie Harding Street Assembly Lab. The noise-pop song, which throbs in 3/4 time and touts a lo-fi attack that suggests Guided By Voices under a crippling load of psychedelics, is one of four on the HSAL #9 EP. Curiously, we don't perceive at all the Teutonic rhythm that is the song's namesake, but even so we think you'll enjoy this freak-out a great deal. The rest of White Laces' year sounds busy; it includes some short stints on the road as well as getting back in the studio to record a planned 10", as many as two 7" singles and perhaps another cassette release. For now, catch the stream of "Motorik Twilight" below.

April 22, 2010

Rock Over Boston | The Low Anthem | 4.20.10

[The Low Anthem and David Wax Museum at the Paradise Rock Club, Boston, MA 4/20/2010. Photos by Michael Piantigini]

Still riding the cresting wave of well-deserved acclaim for Oh My God, Charlie Darwin, the album they self-released in 2008 and later re-released on Nonesuch in 2009 (and this humble blogger's favorite album on last year), The Low Anthem returned to Boston's Paradise Tuesday night as headliners after supporting Blind Pilot at the same venue just a few months ago.

Spreading out on the Paradise's stage, Low Anthem's junk shop goldmine of instruments traditional and odd painted a unique picture warm and familiar enough to feel classic, but evolved enough to feel like they've found a new way into your soul. Their amazing field organ, harmonium, singing saw, and Jocie Adams' clarinet and ghostly bowed crotales over Ben Knox Miller's gently plucked acoustic guitar and Jeff Prystowsky's stand-up bass are all arranged with wise economy.

They're not simply milking Charlie Darwin on this tour, either. There's a new album apparently planned for fall release, and the band previewed several of these beauties as well, most notably the handful that had the band huddling around an old-time single mic setup at the front of the stage that emphasized their easy harmonies. After laying this meditative groundwork, the moments where the band cuts loose, like on their amped up cover of Tom Waits' Jack Kerouac cover, "Home I'll Never Be," were welcome and elating relief, with Adams revealing herself a belter.

Low Anthem draw you in with whispers and connect with quiet intensity in that rare way that lulls rock clubs. All that shattered the rapt silence was a couple of particularly prolific photographers with sharp elbows and the loudest imaginable shutters, who took what sounded like 8000 shots over the course of the 90 minute set (really? Still taking shots by the dozen during the encore?). But even this wasn't enough to break The Low Anthem's deep spell.

-Michael Piantigini

The Low Anthem: Intertubes | MySpace | Twitter

April 20, 2010

That Was The Show That Was: A Weather at P.A.'s Lounge

It's rare that we see an act struggle with deficient live sound because it is too quiet. But despite a rough start mapping the shortcomings of the house sound system, A Weather's show at P.A.'s Lounge last night was uplifting, mesmerizing and poignant all at once. The Portland, Ore.-based quintet was touring as a trio using freshly hatched live arrangements situated around guitarist Aaron Gerber and drummer Sarah Winchester's murmured harmonies and Mr. Gerber's finger-picked guitar arpeggiation. Its hour-long set passed without any sense that the band was lacking component parts. If anything, playing as a lean, taut three-piece reigned in the relatively lush arrangements from A Weather's excellent, recently released sophomore record such that the songs were more in line with the sparse, haunting music from its 2008 debut Cove. The new collection Everyday Balloons was released by Team Love March 2 [review here].

The set largely drew from Everyday Balloons, and opened with the song "Giant Stairs." Highlights included the stunning closer "Lay Me Down," which dramatically heaved and sighed as the song collected and dispelled tension. The re-arranged "Midday Moon" was absolutely spine-tingling. The performance featured Ms. Winchester standing behind her spartan drum kit clutching her hands as if in prayer while Gerber and bassist Lou Thomas laced together accompaniment that on the record is solely piano. A Weather also played "Spiders, Snakes," the opening cut from Cove, the Codeine-esque "Seven Blankets" and "Happiness," among other tracks. One beautiful song caught our attention because it was unfamiliar with us, and featured a line something like "if this is going to make me stronger, I'd rather stay weak a little longer." We look forward to discovering what that is.

A Weather's tour continues through April 30; all of the remaining dates are posted below the interview with Gerber we posted here last week. A final word about the show: we think it is safe to say you know you have proverbially arrived in the Boston scene when scene-maker Billy Ruane interrupts your set to offer some comments and make an announcement. Welcome to the scene, A Weather. We very much look forward to seeing you again.

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]

April 19, 2010

Everyone Everywhere Everywhere With Everyone: Blog Tour Starts Today

We're batting clean-up for a blog tour promoting the forthcoming, superlative full-length debut from Philadelphia-based emo superheroes Everyone Everywhere. Readers may recall that we've been anticipating this one for about six weeks, and while the May 4 release date draws nearer, there is still waiting to be done. But the quartet's label Tiny Engines has come up with a jazzy way to promote the release: namely, 10 blogs over 10 days will each post one of the 10 tracks from the self-titled set. "B-b-b-but Clicky Clicky," you are saying, "doesn't that mean they are giving away the whole damn record before it even comes out?" Well, yeah, it does mean that. But the tracks will all come down on or before the release date proper, so you have to stay on top of this thing. Which you will, because the record is awesome; Tiny Engines is doing you a favor, and who are you to look a gift horse in the mouth?* Anyway, we'll be posting our favorite song from the record, the closer "Obama House, Fukui Prefecture," Friday April 30. But the blog tour begins today at the blog The Ripple Effect. Other participants include Can You See The Sunset From The Southside?, Built On A Weak Spot, Dryvetyme Onlyne, Battle Of The Midwestern Housewives, Deckfight, The Album Project, Familiarize Yourself and Reviewsic. Everyone Everywhere has booked a fistful of live dates between now and the end of May, and we're posting them below for your reference.

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

(* Seriously, what's your problem?)

April 16, 2010

Today's Hotness: Projekt A-ko, Superman Revenge Squad

>> Fans of Glaswegian indie rock heroes Projekt A-ko received a thrill Sunday when an email went out to purchasers of the band's towering 2009 debut Yoyodyne. The email included a link to an only-recently completed cover of Drop Nineteen's landmark tune "Winona," which was featured on the erstwhile Boston band's 1990 Caroline Records debut Delaware. The email from Projekt A-ko also announced the band was taking pre-orders for a planned sophomore set that is to be complete by the end of the year; 10 pounds gets the you the record shipped anywhere in the world. If you want to get in on the pre-order action, here is a Paypal link. Buy early and buy often! The Scottish trio released its debut full-length almost exactly a year ago on April 20, 2009.

>> We saw some message board chatter earlier this month that the planned new EP from superlative English songwriter Ben Parker's Superman Revenge Squad will be issued by the label Smalltown America. And it turns out that chatter is in fact true, according to Mr. Parker, who we emailed for more information. Parker reports that Smalltown America is definitely interested in releasing Superman Revenge Squad's planned Dead Crow EP, which we first wrote about here in March. However, the EP had yet to have been recorded when we corresponded with Parker, and he noted that there's always a possibility the label might not like it once it's done ("it's probably the most down-beat stuff I've written," says Parker). We're thinking that's fairly unlikely. Superman Revenge Squad released two records last year, Hmmmmm... Meet the 'All New' Superman Revenge Squad and We're Here For Duration... We Hope! Additionally, the sole full-length recorded by Parker's prior act Nosferatu D2 was finally issued to substantial acclaim the same year [review here].

April 13, 2010

Even When You're Bent Like A Swan: The A Weather Interview

Portland, Ore.-based A Weather are presently waist-deep into their second U.S. tour, which is supporting the release of the slow-core revivalists superlative sophomore set Everyday Balloons [review here]. Everyday Balloons seems mildly obsessed with sleep, and the narratives all seem as if they could have been written solely about what can be seen from a bed by a window. The new collection is lusher, denser and even relatively kaleidoscopic compared to the stunning, quieter debut album Cove, which we named one of the best of the last decade right here. A Weather plays P.A.'s Lounge this coming Monday, and so we thought we'd check in with fronter Aaron Gerber for insight into the new record and the band's prior experience touring. Mr. Gerber very graciously met our cascade of questions, and our exchange appears in lightly edited form below.
CC: You mentioned that growing up as a young person in Maine you'd travel down to Boston for rock shows. What was the first show you saw here? See any heroes?

AG: I believe the first show I saw in Boston was Ida and Low playing at the Middle East. I was probably 16 or so at the time and there was some difficulty in actually getting into the show as it was 18 and over. The owner drew huge x's on my hands with permanent marker and made me stand by the door the whole performance. After the show we took a big group picture with both the bands. Somewhere there still exists a black and white photo of myself as a 16 year old posing with the members of Low and Ida. Other memorable [shows] include: Sunny Day Real Estate, Arab Strap, Wheat and of course Bedhead.

CC: You must have been terribly excited to do those 2008 tour dates with The New Year after having been a fan of Bedhead. As I think that was the first A Weather tour, did you learn anything from the Kadanes about life on the road?

AG: Yeah, that was our first tour outside of the Northwest. We were so fortunate to be asked to join them. It was a little surreal at first. We quickly discovered that, aside from making really great music, they were also really great people. You're always hoping that your heros will be decent people and it makes everything that much nicer when they are. All of the guys in that band were unbelievably supportive of A Weather and actually seemed to be legitimately into our songs as well. I remember after one particularly difficult show we had in Arizona Matt Kadane gave Sarah and I an encouraging back stage pep talk. They all kind of took us under their collective wing. As you are probably aware, in one song off of Cove we mention Bedhead. On Everyday Balloons I managed to sneak "the new year" into a lyric. The Kadane brothers better start another band before we record our third album.

CC: Moreso than with Cove, we continue to grapple with what certain of the new songs are communicating. Compositionally and musically, Everyday Balloons is a little more accessible and less stylistically restricted than the quiet music of Cove. But lyrically things seem even more open to interpretation. When you were writing these songs, did you think you were taking a new or different approach to the lyrics than you had previously?

AG: As a songwriter I'm never quite sure what will stick and what will sort of slide down the wall. One of the more interesting aspects of reading reviews of the record is seeing how listeners interpret the lyrics and attempt to summarize a given song. A lot of people think I'm writing exclusively relationship or break-up songs, and though I can see why they might say that, I do think Everyday Balloons covers more diverse thematic ground. I don't intentionally try to obscure my lyrics; if they are perceived as cryptic it might be due to my disinterest in linear narrative and my inability to stay with one idea or theme for more than a few lines. My favorite writing always hints at rather than completely reveals. I find it more fun to leave some of the work to the listener to draw his or her own connections between images and statements. That said, I do strangely feel like Everyday Balloons is more coherent and planned in terms of themes and motifs than Cove was.

CC: So what about all the guitars on Everyday Balloons, anyway? Not that it is like a Metallica record, or anything (far from it!). But was there a specific revelation or occurrence that made you think, "this next record is going to have more guitars, it's going to be louder."

AG: I made the switch from electric to acoustic a couple years ago before our tour with The New Year. Since our other guitar player Aaron Krenkel wasn't able to accompany us on most of the trip, we adapted the arrangements to play as a three piece. It made sense to play an electric guitar if there was only to be one guitar in the band (a bit fuller sounding with more dynamic possibilities). I also never had a really good pick-up for the acoustic and it was always a pain to get it loud enough without feeding back. It just seemed easier to play through an amp and have more control of the sound. When we started working on the songs for Everyday Balloons it was a progression of how we'd been performing live for the past six months or so. A lot of the songs came out of that slightly dirty guitar tone (that spot between clean and distorted) where there is the potential to go both quiet and loud. I've always been a fan of melodic feedback and ebows too, so playing electric allowed me to indulge in those sounds and explore some new textures that aren't on Cove. But also a lot of the songs on Everyday Balloons are based around the piano, too.

CC: So what is the touring line-up for A Weather this go-around? Will Mr. Krenkel be making all the dates?

AG: Unfortunately not. Aaron K. has some real life commitments to attend to, namely a new baby. It will just be Sarah, Lou and I again on this tour.

CC: What was the process like writing arrangements for this tour? Was it frustrating to have less at your disposal, or perhaps liberating because of the opportunities few moving parts may present? Were there some things that you tried to make work that just wouldn't?

AG: It has been fun to reinterpret these songs for a more minimal set up. The songs on Everyday Balloons have more layers to them than then ones on Cove, so it's been interesting to strip away the layers and see how little we can get away with while still maintaining the essence of the songs. At some points I'm trying to approximate the parts of two guitars with one and that has been challenging, trying to play both the chords and the melody simultaneously, but at other points you just have to embrace the limitations, go with the sparseness and not worry about trying to fill in all the negative space. Often the negative space is pretty useful as a gradation of the dynamics.

CC: What can we expect to hear in your live set? Will you will be doing material from Cove as well as Everyday Balloons? Are you hauling around a piano so Sarah can do "Midday Moon?"

AG: We are playing mostly songs from Everyday Balloons, but maybe one or two from Cove. No piano and not even bringing the Rhodes this time around. It's just electric guitar, bass and drums. It's funny you mention "Midday Moon," as earlier today we worked out an arrangement for guitar and bass. Though it would be cool to ride into a city with an upright piano strapped to the roof of our mini-van we decided to travel light this tour. A toy piano will make some appearances as well.

A Weather play P.A.'s Lounge in Somerville, Mass. Monday April 19; they are joined by Drew O'Doherty, The Acre and Bell And The Bees. All remaining tour dates are listed below.

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]

04.15 -- 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]

April 12, 2010

Be Prepared: The Henry Clay People | Somewhere On The Golden Coast | 22 June

LA-based indie rock saviors The Henry Clay People will issue their long-awaited third full-length June 22. The five-year-old foursome, anchored by brothers Joey and Andy Siara, layer a southern California cool over the sort of bar-wrecking sounds of mid-period Replacements. Perhaps there is a sort of wink and nod in the direction of Pavement's straighter stuff circa Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain, but frankly we don't hear that too much. What we do hear is the sort of vibrant, catchy and unpretentious rock music that should have a universal appeal. You like Springsteen or The Hold Steady? You'll like these guys. Somewhere On The Golden Coast packs 11 songs into just a bit more than 30 minutes. You can listen to it while hashing out who has to get up and walk to the gas station for the next 12-pack.

April 11, 2010

Rock Over Boston | Ted Leo and the Pharmacists | 4.10.10

[Ted Leo and the Pharmacists at the Paradise Rock Club, Boston, MA. 4/10/10. Photos by Michael Piantigini]

April 10, 2010

That Was The Show That Was: Varsity Drag, Soccermom | PA's Lounge

[UPDATED with Varsity Drag set list below] Varsity Drag's fiery Friday night headlining set at PA's Lounge was notable for a number of reasons. First, the Cambridge, Mass.-based indie punk stalwarts have maintained the edge to their live show that they brought back from their fall UK tour. Second, the band has apparently fully integrated charming cellist Aliah Rosenthal into its stage show, adding a surprising new dimension to songs we'd never heard him play on. And for fans afraid that the addition of electric cello can only portend ill, un-rocking things for Varsity Drag: fear not. Mr. Rosenthal most certainly rocks.

It was also notable that The Drag played not one of fronter Ben Deily's classic Lemonheads cuts. We suspect that says more about the depth and quality of the Varsity Drag catalog at this point than it does about Mr. Deily's affinity -- and the collective affinity of fans -- for the older tracks. And while our calls for "Ever" at the close of last night's set went unheeded, we were more than pleased with the final selection, Varsity Drag's infrequently aired, wholly gripping cover of The Cure's annihilating "Push" from 1985's The Head On The Door record. As part of its UK label's 20th anniversary Varsity Drag has also been working up and recording a cover of Ipanema's "White Cat In A Snowstorm." The Drag's live performance of the tune was searing, and we look forward to hearing the recording of the track. According to this recent interview Deily gave, Varsity Drag is planning an EP that will contain the Ipanema cover as well as four bonus tracks from the sessions for the band's superlative 2009 long-player Night Owls [review here].

Soccermom, who we profiled here earlier this month, were a revelation. The quartet's quietly determined stage presence belies its dense, visceral guitar attack. Indeed, the recordings we've heard that will grace Soccermom's forthcoming debut single only approximate the squawl and punch of the live renderings of Soccermom's compositions. The tracks on the single, "High On Dad" and "Bill Cosby In Glamorous Chains," bring to mind the relatively more controlled and architected sounds of Polvo. But Soccermom on stage through brute guitar force earn comparisons to the music of the earliest incarnation of Lilys (1991-1992) and even Rodan, although perhaps with less of the melodic sense of the former or the dynamic rhythms of the latter. We look forward to seeing these guys a lot more in the future. Soccermom is slated to play O'Brien's May 5 as part of the E.R. residency.

Varsity Drag: Internerds | Bandcamp | YouTube | Flickr
Soccermom: Internerds | MySpace | YouTube | Flickr

April 8, 2010

Today's Hotness: Men Called Him Mister, Young Adults, Four Eyes

>> Long-time readers will be aware of our great love for the wildly under-appreciated indie rock act Haywood. Our boundless affinity for the defunct Brooklyn-via-Philly-via-St. David's/Villanova/South Devon/Wherever Ariel Lived quartet is perhaps rivaled only by that we have for Johnny Foreigner. And so it was an unexpected collision of worlds when we saw that the one-show-only supergroup Kannberg 1664, which features at least one member of Birmingham, England-based indie titans Johnny Foreigner, will share the bill at an upcoming Pavement tribute show in London with a Madrid-based band called Men Call Him Mister. The latter act's name, you see, is taken from the title of Haywood's superlative sophomore full-length released in 1999 on Self Starter Foundation [buy!buy!buy!]. And so we were compelled to contact Men Called Him Mister to get the scoop on why a band in Madrid is named for what is, let's face it, a sort of obscure American act.

It turns out that indeed the three-year-old band takes its name from the Haywood record; that a British fellow named Ian who is one-fourth of Men Called Him Mister saw Haywood play while he was in New York in 1999 or so; and that Ian counts the record among his favorites. So, really, the story is quite straightforward. We checked out the Men Called Him Mister MySpace yert and were pleased to find that we dug its music, which sounds a little bit like old Notwist crossed with Crayon. Ian was kind enough to send along some music for us to share, so catch the streams below. Make sure to listen through to the end of "Thousand Eyes," which is like three songs jammed into one composition. The Pavement tribute show transpires Saturday 8 May in Brixton, it is called Pavement Ist Rad! and there are full details right here.

Men Called Him Mister's "Make It Loud" and "Thousand Eyes"

>> If you weren't glued to your radios March 14, or even if you were, you may have missed upstart Boston-based noise-pop luminaries Young Adults delivering a fizzy, reverbed-out performance on WERS, the Emerson College radio station. As we reported last month, Young Adults have only been together about six months but have already recorded an impressive demo that we first wrote about here. And now there's this entertaining, expletive-laden radio session. The trio opens with "Let Us Out," and also plays "Bummer Summer" and "Impression." There is some fairly informative interviewing as part of the in-studio visit, although our fair radio host sticks with the basics like how the band formed, its influences, et cetera. According to its MySpace dojo, Young Adults next appearance will be at something called the Boston Underground Summit April 24 in Jamaica Plain, Mass.

>> And if you did listen to the Young Adults radio session, you likely heard the band mention its indie punk and apparently Dinosaur Jr.-influenced scene contemporaries Four Eyes. The terms "indie punk" and "Dinosaur Jr." never fail to draw our attention, and after a bit of googling we found ourselves at a Four Eyes Muxtape page. After hearing the fine rock posted there we got in touch with the band forthwith. We learned that Four Eyes has only been around since November, but it has already recorded tracks for a debut 7" that should be available very soon. Nick and Will Foureyes sent along the song "Anchor Home" (posted below) to share, which based on the metadata will be on the aforementioned 7". The track is an uptempo, scritchy rocker with a bouncy snare beat and tons of fuzzy guitar, guitar everywhere like a cotton candy machine gone haywire. To kind of short-hand it for you, Four Eyes' "Anchor Home" sounds a bit like Voxtrot's "Wrecking Force" if Voxtrot had a jazzy lead player and played with a lot of balls. Four Eyes wanted us to point out that if you want to order the 7" -- and we think you do -- then you should hit them up at foureyestheband@gmail.com; tell them Clicky Clicky sent you. Four Eyes has a few upcoming Boston-area gigs that we are posting below as well.

04.16 -- Steven Tyler Memorial Pool -- Somerville, MA
04.24 -- O'Brien's -- Allston, MA
05.17 -- Charlie's Kitchen -- Cambridge, MA

Four Eyes' "Anchor Home"

April 7, 2010

Rock Over Boston| Alejandro Escovedo | 4.6.10

[Alejandro Escovedo at the Somerville Theatre, Somerville, MA; April 6, 2010. Photos by Michael Piantigini]

April 5, 2010

The New Sound Of Slack: Soccermom Surfaces Slowly

[Left to right: The chair reserved for William Scales, David Kaplan, Danielle Deveau, Dan Parlin]
In the midst of conversation half of the party at the table in the front of the room pauses at the sound of the beginning of the Dinosaur Jr. b-side "Quicksand," only to realize that the tune on the hi-fi at the subterranean Harvard Square bar early Saturday afternoon is actually David Bowie's "Andy Warhol." Unsurprisingly, minutes earlier Dan Parlin and Danielle Deveau offered in just-about-unison "nineties" as an overarching musical influence shared among the four members of the rising, Boston-based indie rock concern Soccermom. Mr. Parlin, who fronts and plays guitar in the band, explains that, despite a suggestion that early '90s Chapel Hill and Louisville post-rock sounds echo perceptibly in Soccermom's forthcoming debut single, the common ground is just generally "nineties."

On the single, Soccermom sets off new parts and bridges with a patient efficacy, powershrugs into exuberant crescendoes with nonchalance. The song "High On Dad" opens with a pleasantly familiar, Pixies-ish ascending bass line and finally introduces urgent vocals more than three-quarters of the way through. Everything about Soccermom's music seems informed not only by the best music of two decades past, but also a measured, casual attitude toward crafting good music. Soccermom abides.

The band has percolated for about five years, from its earliest days when Parlin began four-tracking in San Francisco following a stint at Mass Art in Boston. He returned to Massachusetts in 2006, but his music rode the jumpseat while he played with Boston acts including E.R., Get Help and The Spanish Armada (all of the Midriff Records cohort). Only after Ms. Deveau, Soccermom's bassist, threw in her lot with the band did the project gain something resembling momentum. Asked why the band has finally gelled, why it is only now getting around to releasing a first single, Parlin and Deveau point to a collective caesura among the various competing projects. In due course fellow E.R. sideman and Spanish Armada principal William Scales enlisted as a second guitarist, and not long after amiable Spanish Armada drummer David Kaplan claimed the drum stool.

Underscoring Soccermom's unhurried nature is that its show this Friday at PA's Lounge in Somerville, Mass. is only the fifth-ish it has played despite debuting live two years ago. Friday's show was to have been a record release gig for the single, which also includes the rocker "Bill Cosby In Glamorous Chains," but certain delays mean a May gig at O'Brien's or a contemplated June live date are more likely to serve that purpose. Either way seems fine with Soccermom. Despite close ties to the Midriff Records, the band is self-releasing the vinyl single, and it expects to have stock in hand by the end of the month. The foursome envisions additional singles down the road, and expresses no sense of urgency to cut a full-length record for now. Soccermom abides.

Soccermom -- "High On Dad"

Soccermom: Internerds | MySpace | YouTube | Flickr

April 3, 2010

15 Years Ago Today: Kam Fong Live On WESU-FM Middletown

[PHOTO: Kam Fong, return of the original line-up, 1997] What becomes clear upon listening to this air-check tape is that the mobile sound guys contracted to transmit WESU-FM's "The Living Edge" radio program over the air from the student center were ill-prepared for the onslaught of The Fong that night. In the post mortem with station staffers there was apparently discussion of the bass signal coming in through the DI box so hot that the engineers couldn't bump the fader on the mixer much above zero for fear of frying the entire board (unfortunately, this resulted in almost no bass making it over the airwaves and into this recording). Given what we know now, this is little surprise. Some time after the show we learned that while friend Clark Wallace was the producer of the radio program in 1995, he was not manning the on-air studio that night. Instead, he was striding up Home Avenue in Middletown, CT toward Wesleyan University's student center to take in the show in-person. Home Avenue, if you look at Google Maps, easily terminates 300 feet from the four- or five-story stone and brick edifice that housed the room being used for the show. Mr. Wallace was still striding up Home Avenue when he heard the mayhem unfolding in the student center.

This is Kam Fong, April 3, 1995.

1. "16+21 (Live)"
2. "Two (Live)"
3. "One (Live)"
4. "Instrumental No. 1/Locusts (Live)"
5. "Fire Song (Live)"