September 30, 2010

And Then Some Days We Get Awesome Mail 8

Castevet -- The Echo And The Light
Chicago-based, fourth-wave (count on your fingers and start with Embrace or Rites Of Spring...) emo superheroes Castevet finally released its The Echo & The Light EP on 12" in mid-August. The set was originally set to see release on Big Scary Monsters early in 2010, but the quartet and label parted ways before the set hit racks, which created an opportunity for Tiny Engines to step in and deliver an expanded, re-recorded version of the goods (the iteration contemplated for release by BSM only had six tracks). You remember Tiny Engines, right? They released that amazing Everyone Everywhere full length earlier this year? Good times. Anyway, we had forgotten about the Castevet record until a very promising box arrived on our doorstep about a week ago. As you might have guessed, said box contained Castevet's fiery opus, which sounds wonderful on vinyl. It sounds wonderfuller on thick white vinyl, we might add. Approximate the joy we've been getting listening to the band's melodic, screamy and intricate jams by hitting the stream of the sparkling opening anthem "Six Parts Summer" below. Buy the EP from Tiny Engines right here. We first wrote about the band in February here.

Castevet's "Six Parts Summer"

September 29, 2010

Rock Over Boston: Bobby Bare, Jr. and Blue Giant | Middle East | 9.28.2010

[Bobby Bare, Jr. and Blue Giant at the Middle East, Cambridge, MA 9/28/2010. Photos by Michael Piantigini]

Bobby Bare, Jr: Intertubes | MySpace | Twitter
Blue Giant: Intertubes | MySpace | Facebook | Twitter | Tumblr

September 28, 2010

YouTube Rodeo: Yuck's "Suicide Policeman" Live

From the band's Sept. 7 set supporting arena rockers Modest Mouse at the Melkweg in Amsterdam. London-based Yuck plays a few U.S. dates next month, including an Oct. 20 show in Boston at Paradise Rock Club opening for dream pop sensations The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart. That's a hot bill. We're hoping our blogging schedule frees up shortly so we can get back to more regular publishing alongside Mr. Piantigini. But in the meantime you'd best mellow out with Yuck. Tickets for the Oct. 20 show can be obtained here from TicketKnob.

September 27, 2010

Rock Over Boston: Come and Wussy | TT's | 9.26.2010

[Come and Wussy at TT The Bear's, Cambridge, MA. 9/26/2010. Photos by Michael Piantigini]

Come: MySpace | Matador
Wussy: Intertubes | MySpace | Facebook | Twitter

September 26, 2010

Rock Over Boston | Teenage Fanclub at Royale | 9.25.2010

[Teenage Fanclub and Radar Brothers at Royale, 9/25/2010. Photos by Michael Piantigini]
Teenage Fanclub are one of those bands that are so irresistible that when you see them you wonder why you listen to anyone else.

Unfortunately, getting that feeling from them is all too rare these days, since they are apparently on a quinquennial album release schedule with even more rare visits to Boston. Scotland is far away, but one of them lives in Canada now - that's either an improvement or even worse. I suppose this makes it all the more special, though I will still selfishly pine for more.

Strummy pop songs with soaring harmonies are the stock and trade of a whole movement of bands, but so precious few manage to join the ranks of power pop's inspirational guiding lights. Teenage Fanclub are certainly followers of Big Star, Badfinger, The Byrds, and (of course) The Beatles, but they also now continue to inspire countless bands who've followed them.

They're here in support of their understated grower of a new album, Shadows (Merge), but only played four from it - three of those being the album's biggest highlights: "Sometimes I Don't Need To Believe in Anything," single "Baby Lee," and "When I Still Have Thee." The latter being a Teenage Fanclub classic of the highest order. They should re-press their 2003 best-of just to include it.

Already on that list is the inspirational "Ain't That Enough" from 1997's Songs From Northern Britain. I defy anyone not to feel optimistic when hearing Norman Blake, Raymond McGinley, and Gerard Love harmonize it's chorus "Here is a sunrise Ain't that enough/True as a clear sky, ain't that enough." We got that and more: the sweet "Your Love Is The Place Where I Come From," an epic "Everything Flows," and, from 1991's watershed Bandwagonesque, "Alcoholiday," "Star Sign," and the I-still-can't-believe-I-Saw-It-On-Saturday-Night-Live set-closer "The Concept."

I can't imagine anyone left disappointed. This was a crowd-pleasing hits set, but it's been so long, we sorely needed it.

Radar Brothers sounded great, but played their mellow pop to a mostly-empty room, much like Versus did earlier in the week. The 6:45 (nightclub!) set time can't have been fun for them, but people gotta dance, I suppose.

-Michael Piantigini

Teenage Fanclub: Intertubes | MySpace | Twitter | at Merge
Radar Brothers: Intertubes | MySpace | at Merge

September 25, 2010

Today's Hotness: The Henry Clay People

The Henry Clay People
>> Remember The Henry Clay People, supercool resuscitators of rock & roll, restorers of credibility to Los Angeles as a breeding ground for compelling music in this crazy post-pre-post-pre-post-Van Halen/Jane's Addiction world that we all live in? Well, the quintet is currently touring the U.S. in support of its addictive sophomore full-length Somewhere On The Golden Coast, which was issued June 8 by TBD Records [review]. Said tour will bring the ten-legged rock machine into the Boston market for what promises to be a thrilling headline set at T.T. The Bear's Place Oct. 17. To whet your proverbial whistles The Henry Clay People are offering a free download of the tune "Switch Kids" to all takers, come what may. We don't think the song has ever been properly released before, although it was part of a May 15, 2010 Daytrotter session that you should really download right here. This is a studio recording however, and the verse features the act at perhaps its most aggressive, pounding guitars at octaves like the late great Pilot To Gunner. And then there is a cool, burbling, backwards guitar effect breathing in a caesure at the end of the second minute. Hit the download below, you'll be glad you did. And, look, some promo house has put all of Somewhere On The Golden Coast up on Soundcloud to stream. You should hit that, too.

The Henry Clay People -- "Switch Kids"
[right click and save as]
[buy Henry Clay People music right here]

Somewhere on the Golden Coast by C3 Artist mgmt

September 23, 2010

Rock Over Boston: Superchunk | Versus | Royale | 9.22.2010

[Superchunk at Royale in Boston, MA 9/21/10. Photo by Michael Piantigini. A few more from the night here.]
Remember that feeling you used to get as a teenager when you'd go to the Worcester Centrum kinda early to see... let's say Van Halen, and on the scoreboard they'd be running through the stuff coming up there, and it would eventually cycle back around to Van Halen and everyone would go crazy? That's how I felt in the hours leading up to Superchunk's return to Boston.

No, they never really broke up, but this still felt like an event. Hell, they've been away about as long as Pavement (that is, a lifetime), and look at those guys. Those of us still suspicious of (though often giving in to) nostalgia are fortunate that Superchunk is supporting their excellent new album, Majesty Shredding (Merge), which has been so warmly received that the Boston crowd knew and loved the new songs enough that they were cheering for tracks like "My Gap Feels Weird" and "Digging For Something" nearly as much as many of the oldies. This is a great sign. Hopefully Superchunk will take it that way too, and keep this going.

But yes, they did play "Slack Motherfucker," too, which is a stone-cold, capital-A Anthem every bit as much as, say, "Born To Run," even if most people don't know it (whoever they are).

The crowd was oddly low-energy in the early going (I'm very disappointed in us for not going more crazy for "Seed Toss" in the two-slot), but Superchunk inevitably powered through it; Laura Ballance's pogoing and Mac Macaughan's manic energy that had him covering a lot of stage wound up the crowd enough that there was (of course) plenty of pogoing, a bit of a pit going for a while, and even a solitary stage dive. Just like back in the day. How great it was, also, to see Jon Wurster drumming his "regular" gig again after spending the last decade making comedy and drumming with everyone from the Mountain Goats to Aimee Mann to Bob Mould.

Mixing it up really well, the band drew pretty evenly from their entire catalog, eventually playing tracks from each of their albums with the exception of 2001's underrated Here's To Shutting Up. The encore brought a trio of cool local tributes: Mac Macaughan's recounting of a time that Boston scene godfather Billy Ruane told him that their new album at the time was nearing "Buffalo Tom-level intensity;" and covers of Sebadoh's "Brand New Love" (a long-time Superchunk cover), and 80's Boston punk legends SSD's "Glue." Late set explosions "The First Part" and "Package Thief" cemented the deal.

It's way too easy to make jokes about shows like this having early set times due to the ages of those involved, but Superchunk rendered them null and void, and with the manic aural adrenaline shot "Precision Auto" for a closer, it's doubtful anyone could go right to bed afterwards, no matter the age. (See the full setlist below).

Versus had the unenviable task of opening up this event, but I was nearly as excited to see them as the headliners. Their last time in town was at the shows for the celebration of the 25th Anniversary of Jon Bernhardt's time on WMBR's essential Breakfast of Champions morning show. Which is only appropriate, because I first heard Versus' "Silver Vein" on Bernhardt's show all those years ago, but they're now firmly on a comeback trail of their own behind their own great new album On The Ones And Threes (Merge).

They're at their live best when Richard Baluyut's distortion-drenched guitar cranks up, and we got some particularly great flashes of that with tracks from the new one like the Zeppelinesque riffing of album-opener "Invincible Hero," the epic stomper "Cicada," as well as the title track before they wound down with another rarity, the slow-burn title cut to their 1996 EP, Deep Red.

Versus have a pretty chill stage demeanor as it is, and the early set times didn't do them any favors, as they opened up to a still mostly empty room. This contributed to a mostly low-key set that, like Superchunk's, did warm some as it went on and they played a clutch of their own classics, like the trio of "Circle," "Be-9," and, especially, "River" from 1995 fan-favorite, The Stars Are Insane. These were in short supply the WMBR show, so it was great to have these back on the setlist. Hopefully, their new activity will lead to a return to regular Boston visits? Please?

SCHEDULE CHANGE! Tonight was to have been Bettie Serveert's first visit to these shores in a while, but immigration issues have delayed the Dutch band. Glad to see that it was so quickly re-scheduled, though it is messing with my 90's week some. The new date is Tuesday, November 2nd at TT's. Your tickets are still good! I heaped praise upon their 2010 release, Pharmacy of Love, over here.

- Michael Piantigini

Superchunk at Royale, Boston, MA 9/21/2010:
Why Do You Have to Put a Date on Everything
Seed Toss
My Gap Feels Weird
Cursed Mirror
Detroit Has a Skyline
Fractures in Plaster
Watery Hands
Nu Bruises
Slow Drip
Digging For Something
Driveway to Driveway
The First Part
Package Thief
Everything At Once
Slack Motherfucker

Like a Fool
Brand New Love (Sebadoh cover)
Hyper Enough
Glue (SSD cover)
Precision Auto

Superchunk: Intertubes | Tour Diary | MySpace | Superchunk on Twitter | Jon Wurster on Twitter
Versus: MySpace | Fan Site
Merge Records: Intertubes
Bettie Serveert: Intertubes | MySpace | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube

September 21, 2010

Be Prepared: Young Adults | Black Hole | 6 Nov.

Young Adults -- Black Hole
Rising, Boston-based space punks Young Adults' thrilling full-length debut Black Hole may or may not be one of the best releases of the year, but we think it is unlikely that you'll find better album art in 2010. Just plain beautiful and evocative. But more importantly, Prague-based AMDISCS is offering an early taste of the collection at Soundcloud, and we've plugged in the embeds below so you can stream the tracks "Bummer Summer" and "Drifting." Fans will recognize the former song as the closer to Young Adults' very impressive demos from early 2010. Some of the grit and fog has been scrubbed out of the recordings on the full-length, but the propulsive energy remains, the eery reverb shines more brightly. The cleaned-up sound also imbues the low end with welcome sonic definition. "Drifting" is a new, uptempo and anthemic shouter that fits snugly within the band's catalog, although it does not challenge the parameters Young Adults have established for its music to date.

AMDISCS releases Black Hole Nov. 6, and the band plays a record release show at Great Scott Boston the same night. Pre-orders will be taken beginning next month, according to the AMDISCS site (check out the wonderful interior art here), which states the record will be issued in a limited-edition of 500 gatefold _somethings_ -- we presume LPs. In the meantime, Young Adults will perform live on WMBR's Pipeline! radio program tonight, and a week from tonight they play a hotly anticipated show with Best Coast and Male Bonding at Cambridge, Mass.'s Middle East Rock Club. Best buy tickets now, and get there early.

Young Adults "Bummer Summer" Black Hole LP (AMDISCS) by AMDISCS

Young Adults "Drifting" Black Hole LP (AMDISCS) by AMDISCS

September 20, 2010

Rock Over Boston: 90s Redux | Pavement | Agganis Arena | 9.19.10

Pavement 94 tixNo matter how successful we may or may not be at keeping up with the hip new tunes that all the kids like, the fact is that we all have our defining musical periods in our life, and those periods were most likely in our youth. The bands you somehow managed to get into a club to see even though you weren't yet 21 (or 18, even!); the bands you heard as you struggled to keep the big city college radio station tuned in; the band whose records or tapes you spent hours scouring the city's record stores for; the band you were driving to see packed dangerously into someone's car with 5 of your friends; the band you listened to while you were getting lost; the band you were listening to when you fell in (and out of) love - those are the bands you'll always go back to, no matter what.

You don't really realize it when it's happening, but all these years later, here I am to tell you about how great the early 90's were. And this week is my lucky week, since the Self-Curating Early 90's Festival is finally hitting Boston.

Kicking off with last Saturday's Pavement show, and continuing Tuesday with Superchunk and Versus at Royale, Thursday with Bettie Serveert at TT's, Saturday with Teenage Fanclub at Royale, and concluding Sunday with Come, this is an amazing week for "college rock"-ers of a certain age (and this isn't even including other period bands like Fountains of Wayne and Guided By Voices that are coming around later in the fall).

Some ten years after their dissolution, it is no surprise that Pavement has become one of the elite bands to transcend their generation and get discovered by the younger fans who are seeking out the roots of the bands that Pavement influenced. Like the Pixies, who they are a few years behind, they have come back headlining much bigger places than when they left.

Though perhaps not quite as strongly as the Pixies, as the Agganis Arena was about 2/3rd full for their visit on their pretty intensive world tour that culminates at the stupid-dumb Matador Records 21st Anniversary party in Vegas at the end of the month that I didn't even want to go to anyway. I must admit that I was ambivalent about this one: Pavement were a bit hit-or-miss as a live band back in the day, depending on Stephen Malkmus' mood, and especially as their career waned. How wrong I was - these guys are focused, and the months the band has spent on the road this year has whipped them into a formidable live unit.

These are arena-rock anthems, as it turns out. Weird album tracks like "Conduit For Sale!" are transformed into ginormous, raging, fist-pumping rockers once the Marshalls are turned up, the nostalgia kicks in, and utility man Bob Nastanovich starts lurching about the stage shouting "I'm tryin'! I'm tryin'!" Pavement's records are full of lo-fi pop and/or clean jangle, so it's been easy to forget what kind of life these songs take on when they've been liberated from their 4 tracks.

The set was front-loaded with energy, hits, and earlier, stronger album cuts and lost a little steam while going past the 60 minute mark and they explored some of less familiar deep cuts and later meanderings. For a band with only 5 albums, Pavement sure has a deep bench when you start adding up EPs and whatnot. When they closed with Slanted and Enchanted's "Here," with it's refrain of "everything's ending here," the crowd seemed satisfied. I was.

"These guys should be huge!" is a common battle cry among the passionate supporters of an under-appreciated band or scene. I'm always cautious about saying it, though, because with that kind of success comes compromise. Why would you want to go see your favorite band in a giant, sterile arena, when you can keep seeing them in whatever club is your second home? It's selfish, of course - Pavement deserves at least this much for the soundtrack they've provided us. For all but the very most successful, being in a band is more about following a passion, and passion often won't pay for your retirement.

- Michael Piantigini

Pavement: Intertubes | MySpace

September 19, 2010

YouTube Rodeo: Superman Revenge Squad's "Dead Crow Blues"

Not that it was ever away -- in fact it seems fronter Ben Parker is busier than ever -- but Superman Revenge Squad is back. Here we have the video for the utterly brilliant lead track to the duo's forthcoming seven-song EP Dead Crow Blues. The song -- inspired by both actual experience and Stephen King's novel "The Stand" -- cleverly pairs Martin Webb's multi-tracked cello and minimal canned percussion, which provides a bed for a characteristically dour but rhythmically interesting Parker vocal, which vocal strikes us as somewhere between Pink Floyd's "Nobody's Home" and U2's "Numb." Seriously. You can almost hear Parker smirk, ever so slightly, which adds interesting emotional dimension to the wonderfully understated song that closes out the EP. The short set was under consideration for release by SmallTown America, but it was disclosed last week that instead Dead Crow Blues will be issued by London-based Records Records Records Oct. 18. The complete Dead Crow Blues track listing:

1. Fairweather Friends
2. The Summer We Finally Cut Our Hair
3. An Old Man Flicking Through A Pornographic Magazine
4. Yeah, This House Is Haunted
5. Playing Good Games
6. An Endless Bottle Of Blood Red Wine... Whistling Into The Abyss
7. Dead Crow Blues

Previous Ben Parker Coverage:
Review: Nosferatu D2 | We're Gonna Walk Around This City With Our Headphones On To Block Out The Noise
Be Prepared: Nosferatu D2 | We're Gonna Walk Around This City With Our Headphones On To Block Out The Noise | 16. Oct
Out: Superman Revenge Squad's "We're Here For Duration... We Hope!"
A Dish Best Served Cold: The Clicky Clicky Interview With Ben Parker
Logorrhea, Pathos and Superman Revenge Squad
Today's Hotness: Tempertwig, Naxos, Joy Division
Every Band I've Ever Loved Has Let Me Down Eventually

September 15, 2010


Johnny Foreigner
And Los Campesinos!' MySpace page already has U.S. dates posted. Terrifyingly, there is currently no Boston date listed. But we're not freaking out yet. Here's a look at the Los Camp MySpace page dates as they currently stand. Coincidentally, the only other time we've ever seen Johnny Foreigner was when they supported Los Campesinos! at Bowery Ballroom in New York in late 2007. Here's a review of that show. We'll get an update together tomorrow with the official show dates, probably well after the complete news has actually broken.

10.08 -- Wrongbar -- Toronto, ON
10.09 -- Maison des Arts de Laval -- Laval, PQ
10.10 -- Higher Ground -- South Burlington, VT
10.12 -- Johnny Brenda’s -- Philadelphia, PA
10.13 -- Toad’s Place -- New Haven, CT
10.15 --- Music Hall of Williamsburg -- Brooklyn, NY
10.16 -- Music Hall of Williamsburg -- Brooklyn, NY
10.17 -- Ram’s Head Live -- Baltimore, MD
10.18 -- Cat’s Cradle -- Carrboro, NC
10.20 -- Variety Playhouse -- Atlanta, GA
10.22 -- Granada Theatre -- Dallas, TX
10.23 -- La Zona Rosa -- Austin, TX
10.24 -- Warehouse Live -- Houston, TX
10.26 -- Firebird -- St Louis, MO
10.27 -- The Blue Moose -- Iowa, IA

September 13, 2010

Johnny Foreigner Cover Sparklehorse, More EP News, Recording In Leeds

Johnny Foreigner
Seriously, the Johnny Foreigner news is coming fast and furious these days. And while there is as yet no American Tour News Explosion Of Death Forever, there is plenty of interest. Like, for example, the band's completely haunted lo-fi rendering of Sparklehorse's "The Most Beautiful Widow In Town." With which, we should add, Johnny Foreigner's new label Alcopop! delivers on its promise of a free welcome-to-the-label-let's-give-away-a-song song. For those of you not hip to the jive, Sparklehorse mastermind Mark Linkous ended his life earlier this year, a tragic move that leaves a legacy of beautiful music, and Johnny Foreigner's tender take certainly does the song justice. Fans will recall the tune follows right on the heels of the epic "Hammering The Cramps" on Sparklehorse's brilliant 1995 set Vivadixiesubmarinetransmissionplot. Johnny Foreigner's take swirls into a beautiful denoument of ukelele and violin and is completely entrancing. Have a listen below.

Johnny Foreigner's "The Most Beautiful Widow In Town (Sparklehorse Cover)"

We're learning more about There When You Need It, the tentatively titled, six-song Johnny Foreigner EP that Alcopop! will release November 11 (or November 18, we're told; just write it big in your calendar so it fills up both squares, yeh). According to a presser circulated Monday, There When You Need It "is not just business as usual, with Alexei Berrow, Kelly Southern and Junior Elvis Washington Laidley busy exploring new sounds on some of these tracks whilst still keeping faithful to that signature JoFo ethos." We don't normally quote from press materials, but based on the mind-blowingly different and beautiful style the trio displays on The Exorcism Project track "199x," it seems like an accurate assessment. And what else? We now know the titles of two more tracks that will appear on the short set: "Robert Scargill Wins The Prize," which apparently is crafted with ukelele and organ, and "Yr. Loved," which is "mostly whispered vocals and harmonics loops." For those of you not glued to Johnny Foreigner's highly informative Formspring, the titular Robert Scargill is some lucky kid who asked that his name get used in a Johnny Foreigner song. So they did it. At the risk of sounding like John S. Hall in "Jesus Was Way Cool," how cool is that?!

Finally, a new Bloggy Foreigner post pegged to the Internet this evening (early morning U.K. time, like, so early, do you guys sleep?) reports that the trio will head to Leeds next week to record a couple songs with Whiskas from !Forward Russia! No word what those recordings will be for, but one has to assume that the band is beginning to demo tracks for Album No. 3 at some point, yeah? Anyway, all terribly exciting.

September 12, 2010

The Grownup Noise | Homecoming Show | Sept. 14

The Grownup Noise -- Homecoming Show -- Sept. 14
Some things are just not for us, and we throw folksy stuff into that category, but in perhaps one of the most tired tropes in writing, we now inevitably state this: The Grownup Noise is kind of folksy, but even so we love it. The latest EP, Shall We?, is a beautiful short set. As we said here in July, "Shall We? is replete with light, bright and mostly piano-led indie pop. We're a fan of all five songs, particularly "Six Foot Solemn Oath" and its vocal interplay between fronter Paul Hansen and cellist Katie Franich." We expect Tuesday night's show at Passim will be wonderful, as the band will be tour-tight after its recent circumnavigation of the continent. Once more for your listening pleasure, here's the solo strummer "Outside."

The Grownup Noise's "Outside" by clicky clicky music blog

Be Prepared: "American Hardcore" Expanded Second Edition | 1st Nov.

American Hardcore -- Expanded Second Edition
We've written about the 2006 documentary film "American Hardore," and former D.C. hardcore show promoter Steven Blush's excellent book that was the foundation for the film, many, many times. We feel that the book is an incredibly important documentation of the American musical underground of the 1980s, and we learned volumes when we read the first edition (which frankly, is SO MUCH BETTER than the movie). And so we were thrilled to see that a second, expanded edition of Mr. Blush's book will be released by Feral House Nov. 1. This second edition includes interviews with 25 new subjects, more than 100 pieces of additional art, new band bios and augmented discographical information. All told the second edition is about 80 pages longer, meaning even if you have and love (as we do) the first edition, the second edition is no less crucial. Perhaps most exciting of all, Blush will do a few readings to promote the second edition in New England in early October; complete dates are listed below. You can read an excerpt from the book right here, which excerpt describes the Western Massachusetts hardcore scene and Dinosaur Jr. precursor act Deep Wound. The second edition is on sale now for $23 and you can order the thing from Feral House right here.

10.07 -- Portsmouth, NH -- Portsmouth Public Library (7PM)
10.08 -- Worcester, MA -- Worcester Public Library (3PM)
10.09 -- Portland, ME -- Portland Public Library

September 11, 2010

Review: Calories | Basic Nature [MP3]

The fact that this record was originally to be titled Habitations and released months ago on an entirely different label doesn't necessarily account for a more-pronounced emotional polarization in Calories' music, but it is an interesting parallel. Heretofore the Birmingham, England-based post-punk threesome was known for power, economy and exuberance. Calories' revelatory 2009 full-length debut Adventuring conveyed a sense of optimism and possibility. By contrast, Basic Nature is more emotionally complex and more texturally varied, and the record carries a weightier sense of reckoning and resignation (indeed, even the album titles connote disparate temperaments). Sure, the manic, fist-banging first single from Basic Nature, "FFWD," as well as the exhilarating, would-be title track "Habitations," hew closely to Calories' familiar, post-punk sound, but the cares and worries that elsewhere populate Basic Nature suggest the optimism of Adventuring has been tempered, that Mssrs. Dixon, Biggs and Whitfield have taken the measure of people and are less than confident with the results. People let you down.

The set pieces that bookend Basic Nature and carry its title underscore the primitive that lurks beneath. The first is a boxy aural assualt of a bass-and-drums vamp, the second a bloopy, loping pastiche that fades into a decaying drum pattern. And then there is "Altitude Sickness," an almost disorientingly sweet acoustic ballad ("there's peace at this altitude"); a second acoustic track "The Offer" is no less affecting. The chorus of "Endlessly In Light" is almost painfully tender (despite the opening and closing lyric "you were wrong, you were all wrong, we were fine"). Of course, as referenced above, there is still plenty of upbeat material. The blistering, quasi-opener "You Could Be Honest" is perhaps the band's most desperate shouter to date, and bassist Pete Dixon's vocal expresses bottomless (and, at the song's climax, literal) regret.

Despite the broader palette of sounds and styles on Basic Nature, we wouldn't say that band has loosened up or settled down. It's more like you turned them into thick panes of glass, laid them out on a table and bludgeoned them with a hammer for a little bit: the shards spread a little. However one characterizes the changes, Calories' music remains tightly focused and the act continues to champion brevity. "Habitations," at 3:44, is the threesome's longest recorded composition to date, eclipsing Adventuring's closer "Forests Of Varg" by an entire second. Tough Love Records releases Basic Nature in the U.K. Monday. Below is a stream of a non-album track to whet your collective aural appetite.

Calories - 'Incredible Visions (Never Amount)'
[pre-order Basic Nature from Tough Love Records right here]

Calories: Internerds | Facebook | YouTube | Flickr

Previous Calories Coverage:
Footage: Calories' "FFWD"
Today's Hotness: Calories
Be Prepared: Calories | Basic Nature | 13 September
Today's Hotness: Calories
Review: Calories | Let's Pretend That We're Older EP [MP3]
YouTube Rodeo: Calories' "Forests of Varg"
Review: Calories | Adventuring
Show Us Yours #10: Calories

September 10, 2010

Everything Is Alright Forever: Johnny Foreigner Signs To Alcopop! Two Releases Planned, Ghosts Sell Out, American Tour Announcement Imminent

Johnny Foreigner -- Exorcism Project
Sometimes being in a different time zone from your favorite band cuts your way, and some days you find yourself chasing the news cycle because you are slaving at the day job while said band finally divulges closely guarded secrets. But perhaps you've been shackled to a desk and monitor yourself, in which case this is the news: Birmingham, England-based noise pop titans Johnny Foreigner announced today it "walk[ed] away from doing a third record with Best Before" and instead will issue its "next couple of releases" on the charming Alcopop! label, home to indie standouts including prog pop geniuses Screaming Maldini. Oxford-based Alcopop! will release in November a six-track Johnny Foreigner EP on 12" vinyl presently germinating under the working title There When You Need It. The trio will promote the 12" -- which it describes as "a schizoid collection of 6 songs that have no common theme apart from us thinking they fit together, like a photo scrapbook of summer adventures or some weird dream where the scenery changed and you didn't notice" -- with a U.K. tour supported by now-labelmates Stagecoach. The 12" package will also include a postcard for each song designed by longtime Johnny Foreigner visual collaborator Lewes Herriot, and the band also recently sent away to have made certain Grace And The Bigger Picture-themed badges Mr. Herriot designed some time ago. According to Johnny Foreigner's epic-lengthed missive here, three of the songs are in a drop-D tuning, and those were recorded by off-again, on-again producing type Dom James, and another of the songs is "probably the loudest we've ever been;" other songs were recorded in bedrooms.

Additionally, Johnny Foreigner promises next week to announce details of a years-in-the-making U.S. tour -- we can't wait. In other news, Johnny Foreigner put up for sale briefly today a run of 20 plush ghosties that can be seen here; the ghosts sold out in a half-hour, sadly, but the band has hinted at a second run. The ghosties came with lyrics, other stuff, and a download of a new track called "199x," which is "a sad new song we made especially for this project that you can't hear anywhere else." The song is unsurprisingly wonderful, but then actually it is also wonderful in surprising ways. Singer/guitarist Alexei Berrow takes a different, gentler, layered approach to delivering the lyric, the song is anchored by a few different piano tracks and mellow acoustic guitar and we think an unamplified electric guitar, and super minimal non-percussion. It is fragile and beautiful and it almost hurts to listen to it, and at the same time the track sounds fresh and like your oldest friend at the same time. An unqualified, stunning victory.

More bulletins as events warrant.

September 8, 2010

Be Prepared: White Laces | Self-Titled EP | Late October

White Laces -- White Laces EP
Richmond-based noise luminaries White Laces will release in late October a stirring, self-titled 12" EP. The short set is being released by Whole Ghost/Shdwply and it can be pre-ordered right here. Those who pre-order the 12" will receive digital versions of the EP's five tracks as well as other unspecified bonus stuffs. White Laces will tour to support the release of the EP, but then get right back to releasing new music. A single is expected on the recently commissioned Richmond indie label The Acme Thunderer, and an unspecified number of music videos to accompany tracks on White Laces are also in the works. This is technically your second warning regarding White Laces; the first came late last month in the context of this announcement of the forthcoming Lubec EP. White Laces has posted a goodly amount of material to Soundcloud, and we've embedded below the cascading anthem "Sick Of Summer" below. We previously wrote about White Laces' HSAL #9 EP here in April.

Sick of Summer by White Laces

September 7, 2010

Today's Hotness: The Hush Now, Partied Hard Comp, Clean Equations

The Hush Now -- Vietnam Giraffe single and Shiver Me Starships EP
>> New in town? No plans this evening then? Well scrape together what passes for your forms of ID and beer money and head over to All Asia Cafe in Cambridge, Mass., where beginning at 8PM or so you can participate in the filming of a video for The Hush Now's forthcoming discoteca-tastic single "Vietnam Giraffe." The single and the EP it comes from, Shiver Me Starships (art above), will be self-released by the dream pop quintet Sept. 28. Both will be available digitally for free from, and for local currency at local retail music concern Newbury Comics. Also on Sept. 28 The Hush Now perform live on WMBR's legendary local music program Pipeline! The band plans two record release shows, one at The Living Room in New York on Sept. 24, and the other a ticketed, intimate and exclusive performance at Allston, Mass.'s Mad Oak Studios, where Shiver Me Starships was mixed. Clicky Clicky will be giving away via Twitter one pair of sure-to-be-coveted passes to the Mad Oak release party later this month, so you'd best start following us now, eh? In the meantime, and we're not 100% certain this is kosher, but some chap has posted the entirety of Shiver Me Starships to Soundcloud. In the interest of science, we're embedding the whole thing below. Dig.

The Hush Now - Shiver Me Starships EP - Advance Stream

>> Congratulations to Big Scary Monsters are in order, as the Oxford, England-based indie today announced its breathtaking 100th release. Not unlike Darla Records' Darla 100 in terms of ridiculously awesome scope, BSM 100 is Partied Hard [art], a 20-track DVD/nine-track CD combo release that is available now but will only be sold through Oct. 24, at which time the release will be deleted, wiped from the face of the Earth, rendered kaput, you dig? The DVD features performances by BSM luminaries such as Walter Schreifels, emo superlatives Grown Ups and Irish spazz-core standouts Adebisi Shank. The full track listing and pre-order information are at this link.

>> Because we grew up in the Philadelphia area and whiled away important portions of our young adulthood in that city's fine rock clubs, we are pre-conditioned to like a lot of the music that comes out of The City Of Brotherly Love. Our eyebrows elevate when we get an email from a Philly band in our inbox, and we're particularly gratified when we find something we like. And we certainly like the reverb-cloaked dreamer "Buried Translations" by the double sextet Clean Equations, which is led by "noisemaker/chemical engineer" Michael Nyhan. A little East River Pipe, a little Galaxie 500, and all compelling, the shimmering chamber pop track is from the band's debut full-length People/Variables. One should at least download the ballad to hear the wondrously sweet string arrangements that bring the song to a swirling, vertiginous close. The 10-song collection was issued by State Capital Records last month on limited-edition blue and black vinyl and digital download; Clean Equations released a self-titled EP in 2009. The double sextet is slated to perform a vinyl release part at Johnny Brenda's in Philadelphia Oct. 2.

Clean Equations -- "Buried Translations" -- People/Variables
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[buy People/Variables from State Capital right here]

September 6, 2010

Review: Line Drawings | Take/Over

What alchemy transforms a good indie guitar band into a great indie guitar band? There must be myriad answers, and, in the case of Line Drawings, fronter and guitarist Pat Haid says it all comes down to the simple fact that the quartet tried harder this time around. But even so the substantial leap forward demarcated by the Sydney, Australia-based quartet's recently issued debut full-length Take/Over sparks speculation: where the hell did these guys come from, all of a sudden?

Crystalline guitars, vocals desperate and resigned, punchy drumming, atmospheric synth: these are the building blocks of a great sound, and Line Drawings arrange same with artfullness and restraint. Sure, it would be foolish to discount the roles respected Australian producer Wayne Connolly's mixing and production and Bob Weston's mastering play in elevating these recordings, but it comes down to excellent songwriting and credible performances. The indie rock concern's self-titled 2009 EP was good (the thing sold out, although Mr. Haid admits it was not much more than a demo), but Take/Over's emotional impact and sparkling production declare the quartet has mastered its form.

All of Take/Over, which was preceded in May by the single "Sleeplines" b/w "Twist And Go (Merry Go Round Version)," builds to the crescendo that is the relentlessly cascading, pensive album closer "Disremembering." As the song enters its thundering sixth minute Line Drawings sound determined to bring resolution to the proceedings by force. The collection commences with the catchy, uptempo and slightly discordant rocker "Fly" and continually lands punches that pack both power and pop sense. "Twist And Go" bounces with a flavor similar to the late, great The Godrays' "Both Your Names (Janus' Creepy Girlfriend)." "Sleeplines" crunches with effortless cool into a powerful chorus smothered under buzzing rhythm guitar and popping and buoyant lead lines that recall the work of Archers Of Loaf's Eric Johnson. Take/Over was issued in June in Australia and New Zealand by Other Tongues; North Americans can buy the set from ITunes here.

Line Drawings - Interstate

High Wires by Linedrawings

Still Frames by Linedrawings

Line Drawings: Internerds | MySpace | YouTube | Flickr

September 2, 2010

And Then Some Days We Get Awesome Mail 7

Karl Hendricks Trio -- A Gesture Of Kindness
No, this is not a reissue. This is original stock, apparently just sitting around in Karl Hendricks' basement, being AWESOME, for the last 15 years. We ordered this last week late last Tuesday and it was in our mail Thursday. That's service. This record is thronged with hits, but we'd never heard it on vinyl before. Having "The Dress You Bought In Cleveland" close out side one and fade into the run-out groove? Sublime. So many awesome songs on this one: "Scoffer's Reply," "Foolish Words of a Woman In Love," the cataclysmic "Your Damned Impertinence." Comedy Minus One will sell you this on vinyl for $13 post paid. You want that. No, no: AMERICA wants that.

Karl Hendricks Trio -- "Foolish Words Of A Woman In Love" -- A Gesture Of Kindness
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[purchase LP or MP3s from Comedy Minus One here, here]

September 1, 2010

Rock Over Boston Wellfleet: Ray Neades | Cavedogs | Lard Zeppelin

[The Cavedogs and Lard Zeppelin (with drummer J. Mascis) at the Ray Neades Tribute Weekend at the Beachcomber in Wellfleet, MA 8/27/10. Photos by Michael Piantigini.]