June 30, 2010

Footage: Poole's "Supermerica"

You know, you think you know everything there is to know about a band (or at least everything you want to know), and then something happens to make you realize that's pretty impossible. Such is the case with D.C.-based (we thought it was Harrisonburg, VA, but we're too lazy to dig out a 7" to check that) indie rock act Poole, which between 1992 and 1999 released a series of albums and singles on the dearly departed Spin-Art label. We were a pretty hardcore Spin-Art devotee in 1993 or 1994, about the time we enountered Poole's amazing -- AMAZING -- "Mary Shakes Her Hair" b/w "Car" and "Meredyth On A Monday" single. The full-length Alaska Days followed, from which the pop confection "Supermerica" is taken, although two of the aforementioned single tracks were re-recorded for the set as well.

But what is interesting -- well, to us, and beside the fact that this isn't the most obvious track to get the video treatment on the record -- is that the version of the track in this video is different from the album version. The video version has a completely new and pleasantly chunky synth line riding the mix, the vocal is boosted, and the guitars sound as if someone took the two-inch tape and ran it back through the mixer with the "grunge radio unit" button depressed. But really, it's that synth line that is the big surprise. You, dear reader, have probably heard neither version, but we recommend you feast your ears and eyes on the power pop bliss out above. It makes us miss the '90s a lot. Buy Alaska Days used and cheap cheap at Amazon right here.

June 29, 2010

Footage: Yuck's "Weakend"

The saddest video with a hand puppet you will ever see. "Weakend" is the title cut from a forthcoming cassette EP which will be released by Mirror Universe Tapes. As of now there is no release information available at the Mirror Universe site; the label operates out of Charleston, South Carolina, and we're pleased to see the Yuck gospel is reaching elsewhere into the U.S. London-based Yuck has also made the track available for download, but we're saving you the trouble and dropping a SoundCloud embed below.

Yuck's "Weakend"

Today's Hotness: Footnotes, Superman Revenge Squad

>> We were inspecting the pending live engagements of Philly-based emo heroes Everyone Everywhere when we stumbled upon their recommendation that fans might also dig a band called Footnotes. The Clementon, NJ-based duo -- whose members appear astonishingly young -- somehow concocts Kinsella-influenced guitar music from just a single guitar, drum kit and vocal. The songs are necessarily lo-fi a la Japandroids, and the rhythms go wobbly now and again, but the results are still impressive. Footnotes plans to release sometime this summer a new EP charmingly titled Summer Shit; the collection is currently being mastered, according to this recent Tumblr post. The pair completes a short strand of tour dates this evening in Watertown, CT -- a/k/a the hometown of our former housemate Franklin Trench -- playing with Merchant Ships, Prawn and The Guru. Summer Shit will likely be available in a limited physical edition, and Footnotes plans to sell the set -- recorded at Gradwell House in New Jersey, otherwise known as the studio run by some of the Up Up Down Down Left Right Left Right B A Start guys -- digitally at Bandcamp and elsewhere. What is especially exciting is it appears Footnotes are giving away every single previous recording digitally right here. Here's a hot track from the 2009 collection Everything Last Year to get you started.

Footnotes -- "It Get's Better" -- Everything Last Year
[right click and save as]
[download all that Footnotes goodness right here]

>> Fret not, Ben Parker devotees. Despite apparent quiet, the Superman Revenge Squad fronter reports that the duo has completed work on the planned EP Dead Crow Blues, which is slated for release by Smalltown America date TBD. According to a MySpace bulletin posted here, the final track destined for the EP was finished two weeks ago and now the short set is being mixed. Parker has also begun playing guitar with a surprisingly ace new act called The Jonbarr Hinge, and has contributed one track, "De La Fonte," to the fledgling outfit led by Sam Pluck Feezal. At first blush we'd say that The Jonbarr Hinge is a bit reminiscent of early (i.e. awesome) Built To Spill; check out the new act's MySpace page here. We predict The Jonbarr Hinge will be signed to an indie label by the end of the summer.

June 28, 2010

Review: Oval | Oh EP [MP3]

Oval -- Oh EPYou'll be excused for thinking Oh is an engaging album of truncated remixes of Tortoise's 1998 masterwork T.N.T. Something in the live drum sound and generous amount of aural white space -- particularly in the four-minute album opener "Hey" and the clattering vibe-out "Grrr" -- that characterizes Oval's recently issued EP certainly suggests the intricate meditations of the storied Chicago post-rock unit. But, of course, Oh is the somewhat startling and curiously satisfying return of minimal electronic music luminary Markus Popp's Oval project. The EP sold out well before its release date.

The contrast between our favorite Oval track and the material on this teaser for Oval's forthcoming full-length could not be more stark. Oh is crammed with concise song sketches, the longest being "Hey." Most of the 15 tracks, however, are shorter than two minutes, and as such Oh is over almost as soon as it begins. At the other temporal extreme is our favorite Oval composition of all time, the beautiful, 24-minute droner "Do While," which was released on the set 94 Diskont in 1996. "Do While" breathes gently, it establishes its own climate, it sounds like the soundtrack to a movie about blood cells. While Oh seems tightly focused -- and in total is only 58 seconds longer than "Do While" -- it is hard to get a sense of what that focus might be given the brevity. More important, perhaps, is what the contrast between the longer forms and Oh's outbursts signifies in terms of Mr. Popp's artistic vision.

Minimalist music is often describes as being concerned with iterations, repetition and gradual change. Popp's prior Oval efforts were meticulously crafted, heavily analyzed, anchored in technology and Popp's own innovative software and programming. According to the press materials heralding the arrival of Oh, Popp now purposefully utilizes commercially available and relatively outdated hardware and software, and "performs" each track "live" (terms in quotes because the press materials seem to posit that these terms have been rendered obsolete) and even improvised certain of them. None of that may be apparent from just listening to Oh. But one can't help be left with a sense that each composition on Oh itself is an iteration, and that Popp has not abandoned iteration as a tool for composition, but instead emphasizes it even more by parsing each one into its own titled song.

Thrill Jockey intended to release Oh June 15 in a limited vinyl edition of 1,000, but the record sold out in pre-orders; the 70-track (HOLY CRAP! -- ed.) double LP O is slated for release September 7. Thrill Jockey has kindly furnished us with a track from O, "Ah!," which you can download below.

Oval -- "Ah!" -- O
[right click and save as]
[pre-order O from Thrill Jockey right here]

Oval: Internerds | MySpace | YouTube | Flickr

June 27, 2010

Wilco, The Books For Solid Sound Fest in Western Mass

Solid Sound Festival. August 13th through 15th. North Adams, Massachusetts. Complete details here.

June 19, 2010

That Was The Show That Was: New Pornographers at House of Blues

newp[The New Pornographers at House of Blues, Boston, MA; Friday, June 18, 2010. Photo by Ric Dube]

When a band piles on as many tracks on a record as the New Pornographers and wants to recreate the records on stage they'll have to pile the musicians on stage proportionally, so it should surprise nobody that up to nine Pornographers took the stage at a time at this show. What are they, E.L.-fucking-O.? I don't want to sound like one of those people who shits all over a band just because they're very popular because they were actually great, but there's something a little creepy about an act that puts this much effort into limiting their live sound to what happened on their records.

The statement that kind of a performance makes is that their recordings are as much a part of the composition as any other part. And that is just as well because this was clearly what the audience who showed up for this show came to hear anyway, who I would put into three weirdly diverse groups: guys in blazers who learned of the band from 30-second clips of songs heard in a profile on NPR; rock geeks who collect both all of their b-sides as well as comic books; and the most interesting fan segment, hoards of teenagers who leaped and danced as the band began each carefully reproduced LP cut. This was arena rock and the audience loved it.

The set represented the act's complete catalog, drawn heavily from the first half of each album, as if frontman Carl Newman is well aware that these are the tracks that fans gravitate toward before a New Pornographers records begins to sound all samey: Sing Me Spanish Techno, Up in the Dark, Myriad Harbour, Use It, Crash Years, Adventures in Solitude, Jackie Dressed in Cobras, All the Old Showstoppers, Sweet Talk Sweet Talk, Go Places, Jackie, Moves, Your Hands, Twin Cinema, My Shepherd, The Laws Have Changed, Silver Jenny Dollar, Mass Romantic, Bleeding Heart Show, Challengers, Slow Descent Into Alcoholism, Testament to Youth in Verse.

Vocalist Neko Case threatened to beat the shit out of an audience member who threw a CD on stage; sideman Daniel Bejar fulfilled his expected role by wandering around like a charmingly eccentric vagrant, pausing occasionally to thumb a guitar with his back to the audience; and a Dixie riddle cup of Jack Daniels costs 8-fucking-50 at the goddamn House of Blues, where Karen commented it's like seeing a show at TGIFridays.

Seattle-based the Dutchess and the Duke opened the show with extremely pleasant melodic folk rock, followed by San Francisco's the Dodos, who were also great and sounded like they probably come across even better on record.

-Ric Dube

Ric Dube is the host of the More Lost Time podcast.

The New Pornographers: Internets | MySpace
Dutchess and the Duke: Internets | MySpace
The Dodos: Internets | MySpace

June 17, 2010

YouTube Rodeo: The Henry Clay People Cover The 'Mats, Op Ivy

You'd think after the debacle posting The Henry Clay People's "Your Famous Friends" last week we'd be wary of posting another clip by the band. But you'd be thinking wrong. The L.A.-based act recently performed a live set at Fingertips, which we think is a record store somewhere, and at some point requests were taken, and the result is the awesome video above wherein The Henry Clay People tackle The Replacements' "Can't Hardly Wait" and -- astonishingly -- Operation Ivy's "Knowledge." Check it out. The Henry Clay People will play in Boston June 27 as part of commercial radio broadcaster WFNX's Clam Bake event, the details of which you can peruse here. We reviewed the band's recently released sophomore full-length Somewhere On The Golden Coast right here late last month.

June 16, 2010

Today's Hotness: Grown Ups, She Sir, E.R.

>> [PHOTO CREDIT: Ryan Bach] You don't need us to tell you one of the biggest stories in the musical underground this summer is the Cap'n Jazz reunion shows. But it is worth reminding indie rock fans that the seminal second-wave emo band's exuberant and angular style of indie rock has been embraced by many contemporary disciples. One such act is Chicago/Indiana-based emo superlatives Grown Ups, whose new full length More Songs is the maiden U.S. release of the rock-solid, U.K.-based label Big Scary Monsters. More Songs, which Big Scary Monsters released May 18, contains newly recorded versions of four songs from the band's 2009 Songs EP, alongside six brand new anthems. One of the new tracks, "Pears," began streaming a couple months ahead of the release of the new record, and the band's publicist has given us the exclusive go-ahead to post the track here. "Pears" surfaces from harsh feedback and sinewy, tangled guitar lines and blossoms into a composition that cycles through jitters and crescendos. It's a fist-pounding, crowd shouter. It's the summers of your youth in convenient pill form; if you are living through your youth now, well, turn this up.

Grown Ups' "Pears"
[buy More Songs from Big Scary Monsters right here]

>> Austin-based shoegaze geniuses She Sir disclosed here early this month that tracks from its jaw-dropping full-length debut Who Can't Say Yes and from its recently released Yens EP are being collected on a forthcoming set titled Ev'ry Thing In Paris. The material from She Sir's Who Can't Say Yes has been remastered, and Ev'ry Thing in Paris also contains a re-recorded version of the 2006 tune "You Can't Change A Thing." Sadly, the collection will initially be available only in Japan and Asia on Happy Prince Records, which releases the record July 14. A European release is in the works, and a limited number of copies of Ev'ry Thing In Paris will be set aside for sale to American fans, presumably through the Internerds. Japanese fans or those brave enough to try to buy something through a web site written mostly in Japanese will be able to buy the record from Nature Bliss right here. If you find that too daunting, don't despair: the entire thing has been posted for streaming at Last.FM right here. Make sure to click here to look at the sweet packaging.

>> Beatings co-fronter and solo rocker Eldridge Rodriguez returns this month with a new EP titled There's No Gray Area, No Middle Ground... You Are a Thief. The four-song release was recorded between sessions for The Beatings' triumphant sixth full-length Late Season Kids and the forthcoming E.R. full-length You Are Released. We've only listened to the EP a couple times so far, but fans are going to be very pleased. It's hard not to dub "They Do It In Spite Of Us" the hit of the EP, what with the lyrics concerning monkeys throwing feces, and the giddy piano and (we presume, faux) maniacal strings. Great stuff. Midriff Records releases There's No Gray Area, No Middle Ground... You Are a Thief June 29.

June 15, 2010

Review: Pernice Brothers | Goodbye, Killer

If you’re keeping score at home, I still haven’t caught up enough to have read last year's Joe Pernice novel, It Feels So Good When I Stop, but I have already read his most recent book, which he reluctantly (unwillingly, perhaps) co-wrote with his manager, Joyce Linehan. Pernice To Me is, as Pernice describes it, a “libelous” chronicle (via a compilation of Linehan’s @Ashmont Twitter updates) of the period of time between the release of the novel and its corresponding soundtrack and the making of the Pernice Brothers’ newest long-player Goodbye, Killer in Linehan’s Dorchester attic (both are out today on Ashmont).

If you believe everything you read – and it is important to note again that Pernice strenuously warns against this – the recording of this album seems unlikely to have been so successful. It is indeed the loosest, least self-conscious, and most varied Pernice Brothers album yet. I mean this in the best possible way: this casual style loosens up Pernice’s song craft in a way that puts across a personal vibe that hasn’t always come across on the earlier records.

But before we get to that: it generally takes a back seat to Pernice’s songwriting, but it must be mentioned that there’s some really cool guitar moments on Goodbye, Killer courtesy James Walbourne (also of the Pretenders) and/or Actual Pernice Brother, Bob (there’s no specific credit breakdown, and I don’t want to guess): the lusty solo on “Jacqueline Suzanne,” the searing leads on “Something For You” that could have been on Bandwagonesque, the perfectly wrapped solo on lead-off track “Bechamel” that would have had George Martin himself beaming down from the Abbey Road control room, and the perfect slide solo that again recalls George Harrison - but this time his 70’s-era – on “Not The Loving Kind.” These are just the beginning of the way the sum of this collection makes these individual moments stand out.

Naturally, there’s some great harmony-laden pop - “Something For You” could be that long-lost Teenage Fanclub outtake – but even these are shaken up a bit here; “The Great Depression” is all arpeggiated jangle pop chords in the verse, but goes to a theatrical falsetto call-and-response chorus that’s weird but works. The perfect and stellar closer “The End of Faith” is classic twelve-string acoustic jangle, but with a Big Star’s Third sort of melancholy that is hard to do right. Pernice does.

These tracks stand out even more than they might have on previous Pernice Brothers albums since they’re surrounded by tracks like the strummy, can’t-be-broken-down-in-a-family-newspaper leadoff track “Bechamel,” which contrasts its sweet-harmonied chorus with an oddly aggressive vocal in the verses that makes its suggestiveness a bit unsettling; and the relating of the pursuit of a well-read object of desire with a blazing and appropriately lascivious guitar solo that makes the dynamite “Jacqueline Suzanne” a sort of New Wave-meets-ZZ Top affair; and the old-timey “We Love The Stage,” (which we can only take as sarcasm since it has been declared that there are no current plans for a tour), and the Faces (think Ronnie Lane, and not so much Rod Stewart)-Jayhawks flavored title track.

The common thread to it all, of course, is Pernice’s particular melodic style and literary wordplay. It is the rare lust song indeed that has the narrator longing to be a “book in her hand.” A sign of maturity, or are we all just getting old?

-Michael Piantigini

Pernice Brothers: Intertubes | MySpace | Facebook
Follow the latest adventures of Pernice To Me on Twitter: @Ashmont

June 11, 2010

Today's Hotness: Buffalo Tom tonight at the Paradise

Buffalo Tom at the Paradise, 6/26/2009[Last year's Buffalo Tom show at the Paradise, Boston MA 6/26/2009. Photo by Michael Piantigini]

In this post-millenial era, it may not be so obvious what are the side projects and what are the main gigs for self-described “part time man of rock” Bill Janovitz and his cohorts in Boston-via-UMASS local heroes Buffalo Tom. The reality is that it's all side project at this point, the band having long settled into domestic life and day jobs - er, make that careers - that involve an actual paycheck.

But that’s ok – so has the fan base that have been following them since their self-titled debut album from 1989 or even the ones that they picked up on the bigger commercial breakthrough that their 4th album, 1993’s Big Red Letter Day and its exposure on TV’s My So Called Life. And there’s certainly nothing wrong with having a day job and making music – that’s what most bands do, right? Buffalo Tom always had sort of a band-next-door-made-good kind of quality to them – they’re like us, we’re like them. They sing about day-to-day stuff we know about. There was never any phony rock star mystique. There still isn’t. Now, we may be a bit older, wiser, busier, but we still like to crank up Let Me Come Over whenever we can.

After supporting 1998’s Smitten, the band layed low but never really broke up, even though many thought they had - there was a particular Somerville Theatre gig in 2001 that, for no specific reason, everyone in attendance seemed to be assuming was their last. Thankfully it wasn't, but the band layed pretty low for a several years, usually playing one or two local gigs a year. Janovitz, in particular, kept pretty busy during this time by playing residencies, making solo albums, making Beatles albums with Graham Parker, writing books, etc.

Finally in 2007, the layoff ended and the band released the excellent Three Easy Pieces, which both felt informed by the influence of the intervening years and also like they never left. Clusters of tour dates followed, including a SXSW set that felt like a comeback event. Us Bostonians in the crowd may have known better, but it felt great anyway. The return to playing with regularity had them sounding as great as ever.

Tonight, they play the Paradise with Yep Roc-ers Peggy Sue just a couple of weeks shy of a year since they last played there. This could be just a warm up for another period of sustained activity, too – as Janovitz has been reporting on his blog (and Colbourn on the band’s message board), they’ve finished another new album, so we will anxiously be hoping to hear lots of new stuff interspersed with classics like "Taillights Fade" and "Birdbrain." Hey, how about “Your Stripes” while you’re at it?

-Michael Piantigini

Buffalo Tom: Intertubes | MySpace | Facebook | YouTube | Kitchen Door (exhaustive fan chronicle)
Bill Janovitz: Intertubes | Blog | MySpace | Facebook | YouTube

June 9, 2010

Be Prepared: Tiny Idols Vol. III, Transmissions From The Indie Underground 1991-1995 | 6 July

The rejuvenated Snowglobe Records returns next month with the third installment of its increasingly crucial Tiny Idols indie rarities compilations. And Vol. III is a doozy, featuring seminal tracks from important but under-appreciated acts including Small Factory, Poole, Fudge and The Coctails. The series is curated by our former Junkmedia colleague Mark Griffey, and based on the track listing he has certainly outdone himself once again. Tiny Idols Vol. III: Transmissions From The Indie Underground 1991-1995 will be released July 6 on Snowglobe Records, but you can already pre-order it at this link. Here is the full running order:

1. Sardina -- I'll Be Around
2. Small Factory -- What To Want
3. Vacation Bible School -- Sugar Juice
4. Hazeltones -- Delirious
5. The Coctails -- 2000
6. It Thing -- Send
7. Poole -- Loon
8. The Christines -- Too Close
9. HoneyBunch -- Endure Me
10. Witch Hazel -- Just Don't Try
11. Apollonia Heck -- Today is a Fine Day to Die
12. Radon -- Kibbles and Bits
13. Glue -- No Surprise
14. Honda -- Bruce Jenner
15. Zoom -- Balboa's Cannon
16. Zen Frisbee -- Crazy Steven
17. Baldo Rex -- The Girl With 10,000 Holes
18. Kicking Giant -- Satellite
19. Crayon -- Pedal
20. Her Tears -- Ultra Crush
21. Fudge -- Girlwish
22. Aleka's Attic -- Senile Felines

June 7, 2010

Footage: Yuck's "Automatic"

At least right now we think we prefer the earlier demo track of this song that freely circumnavigated the Internerds earlier this year. But the London quartet's new (we assume) recording of the ballad is still affecting, and the inevitability of this video footage complements well the emotional weight of "Automatic." Yuck has been recording a debut full-length, we believe, and we'll be excited when we are able to share news of same. We first wrote about the band and "Automatic" here in February.

Footage: The Henry Clay People's "Your Famous Friends"

[UPDATED]Best. A big gas-face to The Henry Clay People for advertising the availability of this video this morning or late last night, and then making the video private only after we posted it here. We suspect it is because they gave a certain web site exclusivity on the video release. Either way, we're going to let this post sit here in hopes that it will re-activate in a week or so. In the meantime, go out tomorrow and buy the band's new record, it's full of hot rock songs. We reviewed it here last month.

June 6, 2010

Today's Hotness: Whistle Jacket, Whirl

>> We walk the streets of this city every day and we still don't know where all the bands spring from. Well, we do, of course, but we're constantly surprised when we encounter another one we like. And we certainly like the quirky pop of Whistle Jacket, which has just self-released an eighth full-length called Hello Heart. The collective is fronted by Michael Leyden, who long ago must have grown tired of hearing the adjective quirky attached to his work. But Mr. Leyden's high, nasal vocal delivery -- reminiscent, yes, of Alec Ounsworth -- and jangly, jaunty accompaniment (somewhere between early Small Factory and Hands And Knees) certainly fits the bill. The proceedings are a little too chamber-poppy to be dubbed pure twee, but there is a light-heartedness throughout Hello Heart that makes the record incredibly listenable. The fact that a message board poster two years ago dubbed Whistle Jacket "fascinatingly bad" only adds to the mystique (the message boarder goes on: "Every time [Leyden] opened his mouth it came as a shock. Every single time. It was amazing"). Maybe the band just can't get it together live, maybe it can, but Hello Heart is absolutely worth a listen. The opening track, "Microphone," disturbingly opens with a suggestion of Sting's "All This Time," but fret not, it passes, and once the beat comes in the track ascends into poignant, whimsical indie pop heaven. Amen.

Whistle Jacket's "Microphone"

>> We present your new shoegaze crush, Whirl -- not to be confused with Whorl [gratuitous link to page containing MP3 of one of our favorite songs of all time]. The former act, a Northern California-based sextet, recently self-released its debut EP Distressor, seven tuneful tracks swirling neck-deep in guitar attack with ethereal vocals bobbing along the top of the mix. The demo can be freely downloaded here, and cassettes of same are available directly from the band for USD $2 if you email them at the address listed here. You're wondering where this lines up with the classic shoegaze canon, so we'll tell you: we hear Chapterhouse and Slowdive, and we expect you'll hear the same. Distressor broods and shudders and nods and, as we noted supra, swirls. Nick from Whirl was cool enough to allow us to give away a track, so we submit below for your approval the thrusting standout "Meaningless."

Whirl's "Meaningless"

June 3, 2010

And Then Some Days We Get Awesome Mail 3





Okay, not a lot to look at, yeh, what with the white label and all. But this is a test pressing of the long-awaited "Every Cloakroom Ever" 10" EP from Birmingham, England-based indie goliaths Johnny Foreigner. The art you see in the third shot is a copy of the "Eyes Wide Terrified" single that mysteriously found its way into the package. But anyway, the "Every Cloakroom Ever" EP: it's is coming to your house soon.

Varsity Drag, with Lemuria, The Young Leaves, The Cold Beat | Great Scott