November 29, 2010

Today's Hotness: The Hush Now, Sir Yes Sir, Shores

The Hush Now -- On Holiday
>> We saw The Hush Now's final show of the year Wednesday night and the quintet continues to be among the most formidable of Boston bands. We've been holding onto the fivesome's latest holiday jam "On Holiday" because, well, we're trying to hold the line against holiday creep. But now that Thanksgiving is over and done, it is time to confront the sounds of the season. The Hush Now's aforementioned, bossa nova romp approaches irresistible, and we've had the one-song CD-R on repeat in the car for days. "On Holiday" is an uptempo confection that eschews the band's now characteristic wall of guitars in favor of a horn-driven, jingle bell-appointed chorus. We've got to hand it to the boys: anybody can write a holiday jam, but few acts write ones you want to hear over and over. Catch the stream below (and cheers to the RSL Blog for the initial upload). The Hush Now is off for the rest of the year, but we've heard whispers about new music for the new year. So be good for goodness' sake.

The Hush Now - On Holiday by

>> Tip the 40, if you will, for Sir Yes Sir: the London-based noise pop upstarts announced earlier this month that they are breaking up. However, fret not: it sounds like what is really being done -- after five years, one tape, one CD and one CD-R -- is that Sir Yes Sir is scrapping its name and contemplating reconfiguring a little. When we last wrote about the trio in May they were poised to release their debut full-length Reigning Over Silence, which you can stream right here. We had short correspondence with Daniel from SYS after the break-up announcement, and were told the band is considering adding a new member and perhaps changing who plays what instrument. This all sounds like a good thing to us, and as long as the new entity can continue to churn out delightfully tuneful sludge like "Not Excited," which we wrote about here in January, we'll be more than happy.

>> Fans of hardcore and pop-punk know No Idea, the Gainesville, Fl.-based label responsible for superb releases from acts including Armalite, Lifetime and J Church (RIP Lance). The label's aesthetic is well-established, but one new No Idea release from Michigan-based and un-Google-able slowcore duo Shores challenges it, and suggests that No Idea is now about more than, well, all that stuff we mentioned above. Take, for example, the track "Meanwhile" from Shores' debut Coup De Grace, issued by No Idea Oct. 31 in a limited first-run of colored vinyl with a screen-printed cover and download code. It's measured, meditative, melodic and dynamic, and it hits a strident crescendo two-thirds of a way through that recalls certain fine moments from T.W. Walsh and Codeine. No Idea has posted "Meanwhile" as a free download, and it is ripe and ready for your winter playlists. Have at it.

Shores -- "Meanwhile" -- Coup De Grace
[right click and save as]
[buy Coup De Grace from No Idea right here]

November 28, 2010

Greg Lyon with Soccermom | PA's Lounge, Somerville | 4 December

Greg Lyons record release w/ Soccer Mom, December 4, 2010
We speculated here earlier this month that Greg Lyon's debut solo set Nowhere Near Poughkeepsie was going to get lost in the end of the year shuffle. But after spending a lot of time with the record, we're of the belief that the late-year release date perfectly poises the set to settle into your conscience at a very appropriate time: during frozen, still winter days. The pervasive mood of one is wholly appropriate for the other; these are not hot summer party jams, but rather a series of reckonings approached in solitude, teeth about to chatter, hands chilled to the bone as you light your cigarette and set out walking. Even the relatively upbeat title track or the jaunty "Industrial Park"'s sunny dispositions are anchored by wintry piano. Nowhere Near Poughkeepsie will be released by Midriff, but is available now at Bandcamp (hence the stream embed below), so you've got plenty of options to score what is rapidly becoming our go-to record for this, the winter of our discontent.

November 26, 2010

YouTube Rodeo: Ringo Deathstarr's "So High"

The first single from contemporary shoegaze behemoth Ringo Deathstarr's hotly anticipated, long-awaited full length debut. "So High" will be released by Club AC30 in the UK and is due out on vinyl 7" and via digital storefronts Jan. 31. The tune is perhaps the most overtly, delightfully MBV-influenced number the Texas quartet has issued to date. If the rest of the full-length -- titled Colour Trip and slated to hit the new release bin in February -- is nearly as good it will be a formidable record indeed. The Deathstarr is currently in the UK touring, and you should get out to see them now before they are the hottest thing since sliced bread over there and it is a hassle getting into their shows. Full dates are at MySpace here. [via Sonic Masala].

November 25, 2010

Today's Hotness: New Years Evil, Misra Lemonheads, Annabel

New Years Evil / The Black Tambourines split art
>> Some things just sound classic. A forthcoming split single from Plymouth and Portsmouth, England-based Art Is Hard Records touts music that could just have easily have been produced by indie acts in 1992 as 2010, right down to production values, big guitars and general attitude (confusion, disappointment, heartache). This is a good thing. The A-side of the single features Exeter, England trio New Years Evil's squalling and enchanted anthem to disaffection "Shame," and the flip touts Falmouth, England's The Black Tambourines' decidedly surfy, definitely Slumberland-y "Tommy." Certainly The Black Tambourines must be aware of the seminal D.C. indie shoegaze pop act Black Tambourine, as "Tommy" is awash in the latter band's reverb, distortion and pep. "Shame" b/w "Tommy" will be released by Art Is Hard Nov. 29 on 7" vinyl. The single comes packaged with a 5-track digital EP, 'zine and photo print. The digital EP contains the aforementioned tracks as well as The Black Tambourines' "Youth" and "Let You Down (Reworked)" as well as New Years Evil's "Echo Canyon (home demo)." We don't imagine they are making a ton of these, so you'd best pre-order right here. The stream of New Years Evil's "Shame" awaits your attention below.

New Years Evil's "Shame"

>> [EDIT 2: Hold on, don't get too excited -- it seems the email in question may not have meant what we thought it meant. -- Ed.] The recently resuscitated Misra Records will release a compilation of old material next year, which old material will be selected by certain bands, including Lemonheads, which we presume to mean Evan Dando. The end. Since we rarely write about the band outside of the context of our beloved Varsity Drag, you probably aren't aware that Lemonheads are among our top 10 favorite bands, all time. We don't follow what the modern day Lemonheads and Mr. Dando do that closely, but we were very excited by an email we received today that states Lemonheads will cover a Mendoza Line song for a forthcoming compilation entitled, somewhat clunkily, Misra Records Presents: An Artist-Curated Misra Legacy Compilation. The Mendoza Line are another top Clicky Clicky fave, so the prospect of the defunct indie rock concern's music being recorded by another revered artist is most welcome. We have no idea which song Dando takes on, but here are five Mendoza Line tunes we'd love to hear him record:
1. "I Hope That You Remember To Forget"
2. "Road To Insolvency"
3. "Rats Alley"
4. "Dollars To Donuts"
5. "We'll Never Make The Final Reel"
The compilation is slotted to hit sales racks just prior to an early March release by recently resuscitated Misra's Southeast Engine. Curiously, among other cover combinations that will apparently appear on the comp is one in which one-hit-wonders Black Kids cover supremely under-appreciated and now-defunct Mobius Band. Wild, man, wild

>> The more we listen to Annabel's "The Forgetting Of Names And Faces," the more we can't get enough. The tune is the lead track of the Kent, Ohio quartet's forthcoming 7" EP Here We Are Tomorrow. The EP is packed with hook-filled, sing-along-able lo-fi indie punk. It will be released Dec. 14 by Tiny Engines -- the label responsible for Everyone Everywhere's self-titled, best-of-2010 emo tour de force -- in a limited edition of 500 (300 on blue vinyl and 200 on maroon vinyl packed with hand-screened and hand-numbered inserts). Pre-order Here We Are Tomorrow right here. It's the right move. Speaking of Everyone Everywhere, the band and Annabel play a show in Philadelphia Friday night at ZAK House. We don't know where that is, but we bet you could figure it out in the event you need to be rocked tomorrow.

Annabel by Ben Hendricks

November 20, 2010

Weekend | Young Prism | Young Adults | O'Brien's | Nov. 22

Weekend with Young Prism, Young Adults
This will be a barn-burner. And barring any unforeseen circumstances we'll be there, finally seeing Young Adults for the first time. Very excited. This will sell out. Buy tickets here.

YouTube Rodeo: Johnny Foreigner's "The Coast Was Always Clear"

Still epic. In fact, perhaps more epic than ever. Live at Plug n' Play, Reading, Nov. 18, 2010.

November 18, 2010

Essay: The Club Is Open

Guided By Voices
[Mitch Mitchell of Guided by Voices at The Paradise, Boston, MA, 11/5/2010. Photo by Michael Piantigini. More here. || We are pleased to welcome to these digital pages the writing of friend Cathy Piantigini, whose last name should look very familiar to regular readers. We've been dying to have Ms. Piantigini write for the publication since we read this terrific essay about seeing Bill Janovitz at Toad in Cambridge, Mass. We look forward to more well-ordered words from her. -- Ed. ]

Buzzards and dreadful crows
A necessary evil, I suppose
There’s something in this deal for everyone
Did you really think that you were the only one?

-Bob Pollard


My husband closes the door on the residuals of our Friday night dinner at home: dishes drying on the rack, spent bottle of wine in the recycle bin, homemade walnut basil pesto with sausage lingering in the kitchen.

Weighed down by a week spent catching busses, buying bananas and toilet paper, running miles on wet sidewalks made slick with falling leaves, and putting a combined 70 hours of our lives toward pensions, we lumber to our Civic. Not even out of our driveway, we're already hoping Commonwealth Avenue will take pity on two aging indie rock fans and offer up a parking spot so that we don't spend twenty minutes looking for one.

We're going to see Guided By Voices on their Classic Lineup Reunion Tour, which means everyone present will be a little older, a littler grayer, a little wistful. The show is at the beloved Paradise Rock Club, recently renovated, much to the dismay of my husband and I, and we duly note each other's complaints as we grumble our way to the bar.

The last song of the opening band sounds slick and boring, and is immediately followed with chants of GBV! GBV! GBV! when it ends. At the bar, we start catching up with friends we’ve grown accustom to standing shoulder-to-shoulder with these past two decades. They, too left creature comforts -- children, sofas, DVRs -– reckoning the value gained in getting lost in sound.

We spend the time between bands talking about buying and refinancing homes, the not-so-impossibility of running marathons, budget cuts, and some random shows we were luckily just old enough to get into at The Channel, may it rest in peace.

The club is as packed as it ever will be for a show.

I take the earplugs my husband hands me, not that I have a choice; he has a habit of checking to make sure they're in and will pinch me repeatedly if I'm caught without. A friend will see this, lean in and say something like, “Yeah, it's a good to...these days...hearing...,” but I can't hear him that well because I’m wearing earplugs.

"He's relentless," I shout, thumbing at my husband, and we look over to watch him, oblivious of our exchange, talking to another friend and sipping his beer.

Finally the band’s signature neon sign hanging on the stage comes to life: The Club is Open. The band takes the stage and instantly beer bottles are thrust skyward, along with fists. The moment of collective love and escape has arrived. The people pressed around me, jittery and anxious only moments before, suddenly seem to melt into each other as they slap one another on the back, clinking bottles and such. Someone, somewhere, is smoking pot. A pal from college comes up behind me, slings her arm over my shoulder, and I remember the quarter barrels ushered into her dorm room that I, the slack resident assistant, chose to ignore.

By the second song my earplugs are out and I am falling for the guitar player, Mitch Mitchell. Doused in cigarette smoke and tattoos, he makes me swoon with every windmill he strums off a guitar that is truly an extension of his body. He smokes through the night, this creased, leathery strip of a man, jumping up and down with an agility that ignores his paunch; cigarette dangling from his lips the entire time, it was occasionally necessary to put it back in his mouth by a guy whose only job seemed to be having the next cigarette lit and at the ready.

At some point Mr. Mitchell acknowledges, “the fine looking pussy in the audience.” All 8 out of 840 of us. I feel my cheeks flush, and can't even pretend to be offended, even when he goes on to tell us all where he wants that pussy. I watch him having the time of his life, glad to be back on a stage he hasn't stood on in 14 years, leaving the band that long ago.

Fanning myself, I turn to my husband, fortunately not beside me, as he notices my lack of earplugs, and I mouth to him, “Can you believe this?!?” and turn back to my highlight of the week, while he shakes his head, bemused. Later I grab his shoulder and exclaim, “Michael, I'm dying!” forever grateful for his tolerance of my stage crushes.

The night is like an express train I was relieved to already be aboard because it is nonstop. Passengers are driven through 39 anthems, most barely two minutes in length, and the conductor pauses just long enough to take a swig of beer before introducing the title of the next song. At times veering on wrecking, it makes the ride even more thrilling.

Near the end of the night, the singer, Bob Pollard, tells us he just turned 53 and, “So fucking what.”


He is drunk and telling us that it was Guided By Voices who single handedly saved rock and roll from the shoe-gazing bands of the 90s, and there isn't a single person in the audience who will argue with him, rabid My Bloody Valentine fans, like myself, included.

I think about Pollard and my swoon-worthy guitar player and how these shows are probably the only times they are given free reign. After the tour, I imagine they go back home to significant others who keep close eyes on how many drained bottles of beer sit atop kitchen counters. Maybe no one's keeping count and they're drinking alone.

The next day my husband gets a text from another friend at the show who I remember looking over at a few times during the night, as he stood there stoically, like a gargoyle protecting his patch of floor, and wondering if he was having a good time:
Man, how fucking awesome was that show? If we had to go to war against other countries using only rock shows as the weapon, I'd make GBV the main show in our arsenal. So glad I went.
It has been four years since Bob Pollard decided to put Guided By Voices to pasture. We had been missing him and his band for four years and they had been missing us: the audience in every city that welcomes their vices. He calls us kids, and as my husband pointed out, he's like our drunk uncle, if that drunk uncle is in a band that has really amazing songs. -- Cathy Piantigini

November 16, 2010

Today's Hotness: The Low Anthem | Parting Gifts | Apple on Apple |

The Low Anthem[The Low Anthem at the Paradise, Boston, MA 4/20/10. Photo by Michael Piantigini.]

BE PREPARED: Rhode Island's soul-piercing, magic-conjuring, Americana (in the purest sense) purveyors The Low Anthem have just announced Smart Flesh, the follow up to the widely acclaimed Oh My God Charlie Darwin, which topped my 2009 favorites list. Recorded in what appears to be a cavernous, haunting (if not haunted) space in an old pasta sauce factory, the handful of tracks that the band has played live or teased online (see below) hint at further exploration the quieter parts of the landscape.

Smart Flesh
is out February 22nd on Nonesuch, there's no single just yet, but "Ghost Woman" is a strong contender. And there's lots more fun in-the studio stuff here, here, here, here, and here.

The Low Anthem: Intertubes | Facebook | Twitter

THE PARTING GIFTS are the the latest project from Oblivian and Reigning Sound frontman Greg Cartwright, this time in collaboration with the Ettes' Coco Hames along with Raconteur Patrick Keeler, Black Key Dan Auerbach. The result is their cool new LP Strychnine Dandelion (In The Red) that doesn't stray so far out of their comfort zone, and ours: these are just great strummy garage poppers (along with a few rockers) that are worthy of both of their main gigs.

Parting Gifts: Facebook
Reigning Sound: MySpace
The Ettes: Intertubes | MySpace | Facebook | Twitter

HOT APPLE-ON-APPLE ACTION: The sort-of big music news of the day was that The Beatles are finally on iTunes. Big whoop, right? There was a lot of backlash on my social networking platforms - and it's true that it's hard to believe that anyone who wanted Beatle music was seriously waiting around for this to happen. But, it had to happen eventually, especially since we seem to be in the waning days of physical media (resurgent vinyl notwithstanding). Hard to blame Apple (both of them) for trumpeting the news. Now, with the complete catalog "Box Set" going for $150 on iTunes, I feel a little bad for people who shelled out $280 for this, since they've essentially paid $130 for a plastic apple. On the other hand, both the stereo and mono box sets are going for $129 on a major online retailer, so why wouldn't you do that? Those box sets are pretty sweet.

Anyway, the big Apple news by my reckoning, though, was the reissuing of a chunk of Apple Records' non-Beatles catalog. Which has been out of print and pretty scarce since their last early 90's reissue. Remastered by the same team that did all The Beatles campaign, the handful of Badfinger and Billy Preston titles I've heard all sound as great as those of their label bosses'. The easy must-gets: Badfinger's pop classic Straight Up and Billy Preston's soulful Encouraging Words. The label-wide compilation Come And Get It: The Best of Apple Records, is a great primer and an interesting peek into what was going on in that universe at the time.

Apple Records has a slick new website too.

In other Beatle news, while I'm at it:
Paul McCartney's new reissue campaign (on his new coffee-fueled label) kicked off with multiple configurations of Band On The Run. The album sounds as great as ever, again remastered by the above team, but the DVD's inclusion of a period TV special One Hand Clapping with it's live-in-the-studio performances was the big draw for me.

The post-Thanksgiving "Black Friday" holiday shopping kickoff is a little less soul crushing this year thanks to the full on deluxe vinyl replica reissue of George Harrison's masterpiece All Things Must Pass on the 40th anniversary (minus a day!) of it's original issue. The original 3-LP boxed set isn't too terribly difficult to find used, though they're usually a bit beat up. So, mastered from the original analog master tapes, getting a clean copy of this sounds like a good 'un to me.

-Michael Piantigini

YouTube Rodeo: Big Deal's "Homework"

This autumn, millions of teens will fall in love. Let's say 5% of those kids are indie rockers. And let's say 1% are plugged into the newest sounds coming out of London. "Homework" -- which the gorgeous video above was released to the Internerds to hype Monday -- will be their song. Decades from now, they'll hear it, the debut single from rising indie duo Big Deal, and think back on that lost love. "Homework" is a beautiful, yearning, delicate composition that will transport you to the most vulnerable points of your various adolescent love affairs for two minutes and thirty-eight seconds. "Homework" b/w "Thirteen" (yes, the ubiquitously covered Big Star jam) was released yesterday on Records Records Records Records in a hand-titled, hand-numbered edition; buy the single right here. A second single featuring tracks unknown will be released by an as-yet-undecided label early next year, and we imagine a full-length must be coming at some point before 2011 has worn itself out. As we wrote here last month, Big Deal are apparently recording new material with Gordon Raphael, who aging hipsters may recollect was the producer of the early Strokes material. We can't wait to hear it. In the meantime, stream all the currently known Big Deal tracks below.

Big Deal preview by Tim Chester NME

November 15, 2010

Today's Hotness: LoveLikeFire, The Answering Machine

>> In the context of this publication, anyway, LoveLikeFire has wanted for attention. This is in large part due to our deep affinity for the San Francisco dream-pop quartet's labelmates, the ace British indie pop outfit The Answering Machine. In our minds LoveLikeFire has to date existed as "The Band That Is Not The Answering Machine On Heist Or Hit." To be sure, that wouldn't be the case had we connected with LoveLikeFire's first record, 2009's Tear Ourselves Away, which we did not for some reason. Things have changed, however, as we've been streaming a lot LoveLikeFire's forthcoming sophomore set Dust and it is tops: a wonderful, reverby record of guitar pop with strong female vocals out front that in places owes as great a debt to mid '80s Cure as it does to its scene contemporaries. In between the first and second record there were some major personnel changes for the band, and a new approach to recording (the new collection was produced by drummer David Farrell), and LoveLikeFire's updated approach is substantially more appealing to us. You can stream the entire collection below, and we recommend that you do just that. Dust was released digitally in the U.S. Oct. 26; it wil be released in the UK Nov. 22.

Dust by LoveLikeFire by HeistOrHit

>> Since we've already name-dropped The Answering Machine twice above, let's just go there. The Manchester, England-based foursome (five, if you count new "touring member" Luke Bellis) has posted to its web site a terrific, electropop remix of its recent single "Animals." The production is very mid-oughts Morr Music: chiming tones, delicate but occasionally busy rhythms. The synth-led, '80s roller rink pop-referencing original version of "Animals" is compelling, but we missed the guitars, and the remix -- posted below -- goes to the logical solution, namely that "if we're not going to give you guitars, let's just go to the complete opposite end of the spectrum." With thrilling results, in our opinion. The remix also is in a different key and touts re-recorded vocals, and the overall effect emphasizes a pronounced feeling of regret not nearly as palpable in the original. Have a listen below, and check out a video Gemma Answering Machine put together right here. The Answering Machine's sophomore full-length will be released in a number of territories (the phrase we've seen is "worldwide," but really, is the record going to be available in Myanmar? Ghana?) in early 2011, and it is called Lifeline.

The Answering Machine - Animals (The Answering Machine Remix)

November 10, 2010

Footage: Yuck's "Rubber" [NSFW]

Every new song we hear from London-based indie upstarts Yuck is the newest reason why we love the band. And while the quartet has been giving away "Rubber" for free since October, only today did it drop this visually stunning and curiously provocative video for the track. The clip conflates lingering and rapidly looped footage of dog grooming with lingering footage of a woman washing herself in a shower. It's just weird. But the images have that super crisp quality that you'll remember started cropping up in MTV videos of a certain late era. The song, of course, is perhaps the sludgiest thing Yuck has offered to date, and it is the lead track to a 12" EP released by The Pharmacy Recording Company in the U.K. on Nov. 1. That label will also issue Yuck's debut full-length in the U.K. in early 2011; Fat Possum recently signed Yuck for North America, and will release the full-length here around the same time, as we reported here last month. Fat Possum releases the single "Georgia" b/w "The Base of A Dream Is Empty" in the U.S. Nov. 23 [pre-order], and we posted a video clip for the b-side right here recently. If you have a little extra time, watch this very good video interview with Yuck's Daniel. Two things we did not know: drummer Johnny is actually American, from New Jersey even. And Daniel is heavy into Silver Jews.

Rubber by Yuck

November 8, 2010

Rock Over Boston: Guided By Voices | Paradise | 11.05.2010

Guided By Voices[Guided By Voices at the Paradise, Boston, MA 11/5/2010. Photo by Michael Piantigini. A few more photos here.]
Guided By Voices in 2010 might be what it would be like if your drunk uncle’s band had really, really amazing songs.

On December 31, 2004, with the name being more brand than band at that point, Bob Pollard retired the final lineup of Guided By Voices with a delirious 4-hour set in Chicago. Judging by The Electrifying Conclusion (Plexifilm), the DVD account of that night, it’s a wonder anyone survived.

But survive they did, and here they are. Owing largely - much like this year’s Pavement reunion - to the fact that Matador Records asked them headline their big 21st anniversary shindig in Vegas (grrrr). Pollard credited Matador’s founders the other night, telling us “they’re not stupid.” Apparently not - unlike Pollard's last few tours, as well as recent visits by this lineup's contemporaries like Teenage Fanclub and Superchunk, Guided By Voices’ Boston date sold out instantly. As it should have, since this is this particular sub-culture's Beatles, Stones, and Replacements all rolled into one.

The “classic lineup” on the road now is – and always was – a bit rough around the edges. But if you’re looking for precision musicianship, you best look someplace else because Guided By Voices – as the name implies – is about a spirit. Whether Pollard's making records with pals in the basement or dragging those pals on tour for the kids, this stuff connects and makes a club feel like family. Maybe it’s frat rock for music nerds?

One can quibble over who precisely makes up the "classic" lineup (there have been many members), but the period that this tour is covering is incontrovertibly classic: their string of albums from 1992-1996 beginning with Propeller, and continuing with Vampire on Titus, Bee Thousand, Alien Lanes, and Under the Bushes Under the Stars is a staggering 5 album run that is nearly unmatched.

But GBV are a different animal live than on record. Basement cassette four-trackers become windmill-slashing, beer-raising, fist-pumping anthems on stage. However unlikely sounding, "Exit Flagger," "My Valuable Hunting Knife," and "I Am A Scientist" feel every bit as important as any Springsteen anthem when the entire club is shouting along in a boozy bliss. Every song feels like an anthem from this period, and they drew not just from those five albums, but a host of singles and EPs as well. There was a lot to choose from, but when a band is giving you upwards of 40 songs, chances are you'll hear your favorites. That being said, Under the Bushes... felt a little under-represented.

Guitarist Mitch Mitchell - who, by all accounts, seems to be having the most fun on this tour - is so very rock and roll. His late-show stage banter about the, ahem, ladies in the audience (a distinct minority) would have made Steven Tyler blush. In stark contrast, mild-mannered guitarist Tobin Sprout held down the other side of the stage, and his being the George Harrison to Pollard’s Lennon AND McCartney, his songs were a gentle respite throughout the 2-hour set.

Bob Pollard presided over it all, of course. Addressing us, like always, as “kids,” which gets more hilarious with each passing year. Though we all kinda felt like kids for those couple of hours.

Later lineups may have been a little tighter (though some of them were often just as drunk), but this Guided By Voices is the real deal. The hard-partying must be getting tougher, but hopefully they'll survive this round too.

-Michael Piantigini

Robert Pollard/Guided By Voices: Intertubes

Be Prepared: Greg Lyon | Nowhere Near Poughkeepsie | 4 Dec.

Greg Lyon -- Nowhere Near Poughkeepsie
We can't cite you chapter and verse everything that multi-instrumentalist, songwriter and Boston scene stalwart Greg Lyon has done in the last five years or so that we've been aware of his work. But we can tell you that his forthcoming solo set Nowhere Near Poughkeepsie -- whose songs are characterized in promotional materials as stuff that wasn't a good fit for the many, many bands he's played with -- is terrific, from the Grandaddy-esque title track to the stripped strut of the trebly rocker "Trainwreck." The 11-song record, largely recorded in a practice space with whichever cohorts were on hand, will be released by the mighty Boston and New York label concern Midriff Records on Dec. 4. A record release show is slated for the same night at P.A.'s Lounge in Somerville, MA, with support from rising noise rock foursome Soccermom.

The December release date likely means Nowhere Near Poughkeepsie will be passed over as a contender for many year-end lists. Which is a shame, because the depth and breadth of the often sadly beautiful (particularly the ballad "The Best Of Times"), always carefully appointed indie rock Mr. Lyon collects here is worthy of more attention than we fear it will get. The songs eschew the literal and figurative heaviness of Lyon's work with Pending Disappointment, and are more tightly focused and tuneful than what we recollect from his work with other Midriff bands including Spanish Armada. You can stream all of Nowhere Near Poughkeepsie right here, and we recommend you do. These days we think Lyon is most often seen on area stages in his latest role as fifth man with Boston noise rock heros The Beatings, who perform this Friday at the Middle East supporting the completely wonderful Bottomless Pit.

November 7, 2010

Hear It Now: Johnny Foreigner's "Tru Punx"

Johnny Foreigner / Stagecoach split
It's not available for sale until Nov. 15 (and we've learned it will be available digitally via Amazon here, likely elsewhere obvs too). But the lovely folks at Alcopop! just posted "Tru Punx," one of two Johnny Foreigner tracks gracing that band's forthcoming split single with Stagecoach. The song is awesome. You should listen to it over and over again until you get dizzy from not eating or breathing. We've heard pre-orders are booking fast, so if you have not yet given Alcopop! your money for this thing, you'd best do so soon. Here's the link.

Tru Punx - Johnny Foreigner by alcopop

Today's Hotness: Satellite Stories, The Texas Governor

Satellite Stories
>> For reasons we don't fully understand, bands that arrive on the scene playing excellent spiky guitar-pop tend to quickly discard the style like it was an embarrasing childhood toy. Bloc Party, The Answering Machine and others wasted little time changing the formula that broke them into the consciousness of indie cognoscenti. Well, news flash, rock bands: we happen to like excellent spiky guitar pop, and when you discard the style, it makes us sad. Thankfully, there is a hot young Finnish quartet named Satellite Stories that is currently delivering the goods. The Oulu-based foursome formed only this year, if the rudimentary timeline at its MySpace tent is to be believed (we'll also point out to noone in particular that our college freshman year roommate once went to Oulu and to our knowledge has never returned -- maybe it's the hot rock that keeps him there?). The song "Helsinki Art Scene" is driven by a textbook new wave beat (sixteenth notes on the hi-hat and stuttering blasts of snare), delicious guitars and well-proportioned dynamics. "Mexico" doesn't sound Mexican at all, but instead approximates the jittery pop sound of British wonder-where-they-are-nows Look See Proof, but with dreamier vocals. It's all fantastic, and we recommend hitting Satellite Stories' Soundcloud streams below. The band plays a record release show for its debut EP Nov. 12 in Oulu. No word on how those outside Finland can get the EP, but full show information is posted at the band's MySpace dojo right here.

Satellite Stories' "Helsinki Art Scene"

Satellite Stories' "Mexico"

>> Indie rock savant David Goolkasian has apparently resuscitated his The Texas Governor project, at least based on the evidence of a new digital single bearing the act's name that is now on offer at EMusic and ITunes. For those of you who say "so what," we'll remind you that Mr. Goolkasian once fronted the astonishingly good indie rock trio The Elevator Drops. A new single attributed to The Texas Governor & The Starlight Orchestra, "Angels To Sleep," is 108 seconds of glistening pop swirl pinned to delay-pedaled reggae guitar chords. A quick jaunt over the The Texas Governor's web hacienda turns up news that a third Texas Governor CD, the combo's first since 2005's The Experiment, is being "casually finalized." This is welcome news; the set may or may not be called 13 Totally Broken-Hearted Love Songs. No release as of yet.

November 4, 2010

YouTube Rodeo: Tellison's "Collarbone"

London-based emo standouts Tellison first popped onto our radar when it was announced they would be touring alongside Johnny Foreigner in October 2009. However, by that time the seven-year-old quartet had already issued a full length and numerous singles. Tellison's forthcoming vinyl single "Collarbone" b/w "Mountain" will be released by the increasingly formidable British indie Big Scary Monsters Nov. 22. The single -- available for pre-order here right now -- comes with a digital EP that includes three additional tracks, "Experience," "Edith Wharton (2XL Remix)" and "Collarbone (Rolo Tomassi Remix)." All that for four pounds, although for a bit more BSM will sell you a t-shirt bundle. Tellison recorded its sophomore full-length record from June to August 2010, and "Collarbone" is included on the set, but we haven't turned up any release information -- or even a title -- to share as of yet. If "Collarbone" is any indication, the collection will be a barnburner.

November 3, 2010

YouTube Rodeo: Wrapping Paper's "You Don't Hold Back Anything"

Sometimes it is just nice to see people sticking with it. We downloaded Wrapping Paper's jaunty lo-fi gem "Hold Up The Neon Sign" from the band's MySpace casa way back in 2006, and played the track a fair amount over the last four years. The Sioux Falls-based act, as far as we recollect, is a one-man affair (the man being a dude named Tim, according to an email we received recently) that notably wrote personalized songs for anyone who purchased the Hold Up The Neon Sign EP when it was finally released in 2008. The new news is that Wrapping Paper released late last month a 10-song, digital-only set called Superhero, and those who purchase the collection may once again avail themselves of the customized song offer. Pretty ace, right? Equally cool is the band's new tune "You Don't Hold Back Anything," a delightful, instantly hummable piece of sunny power pop with Beach Boys harmonies and dense guitars. We think we like it even more than "Hold Up The Neon Sign." Dig the video above. Superhero is available through Wrapping Paper's label Giantship Records right here; the entire record can be previewed here.

Rock Over Boston: Bettie Serveert | TT's | 11.02.2010

[Bettie Serveert at TT the Bear's Place, Cambridge, MA 11/2/2010. Photos by Michael Piantigini.]


(See my review of their excellent 2010 album Pharmacy of Love here.)

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

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

November 2, 2010

Reader Rewards: Got The Dead Crow Blues... Again

Superman Revenge Squad -- Dead Crow Blues
[UPDATED: Congrats to reader Kevin, he's getting the Blues. -- Ed.] Rising London indie label Records Records Records released Superman Revenge Squad's latest EP Dead Crow Blues a couple weeks back, and we were thrilled when our copy of the wonderfully dour duo's short set arrived early last week. And then we were thrilled again when a second copy showed up. The label's belt-and-suspenders approach to ensuring our order got to clicky clicky HQ resulted in the duplication, and after conferring with the label we have decided to offer up the spare copy of Dead Crow Blues for free giveaway to anyone in North America (if you are in the UK, you know, just buy the record from Records Records Records right here). So here's the deal: the first North American to email us via the address linked in the sidebar with an email titled "I Got The Dead Crow Blues" will win the disc -- we'll update this site as soon as we have identified a winner.

We posted the video for the title track here last month. The more we listen to it the more we feel like it is Superman Revenge Squad's answer to Geto Boys' "Damn It Feels Good To Be A Gangster." Something about the understated, spoken lyrics and the key, we suppose. We found the track posted on Soundcloud, so check out the embed below, but also make sure to listen to Wombat Army's remixes of the tune at this Soundcloud page.

Superman Revenge Squad's "Dead Crow Blues"

November 1, 2010

Review: Johnny Foreigner | You Thought You Saw A Shooting Star But Yr Eyes Were Blurred With Tears And That Lighthouse Can Be Pretty Deceiving...

Johnny Foreigner's guitarist and primary songwriter Alexei Berrow in September summed up the Birmingham, England-based noise pop titans' forthcoming, six-track EP as containing the loudest and quietest songs it has ever recorded. This may be true, but Mr. Berrow's mild description minimizes the completely enveloping moods the music evokes, downplays the exciting developments in songwriting captured in the collection, and only hints at the aural and stylistic variety of You Thought You Saw A Shooting Star But Yr Eyes Were Blurred With Tears And That Lighthouse Can Be Pretty Deceiving With The Sky So Clear And Sea So Calm. The second half of "The Wind And The Weathervanes" is towering and anthemic and atmospheric, weaving together feedback, strings and crashing percussion. The aggressive "Who Needs Comment Boxes When You've Got Knives" points affirmatively in the direction of scene contemporaries Calories as well as hardcore legends Texas Is The Reason. The beautiful, droning closer "Yr Loved" flickers futilely, like a candle drowning in a pool of its own wax, and recalls earlier Smog. "Elegy For Post-Teenage Living (Parts 1 and 2)" is two different songs sewn together, opening as a familiar Johnny Foreigner guitar pop anthem but ending as a light, Dismemberment Plan-referencing dance pop nodder.

Despite Berrow's assertion here in September that the release lacks a theme, the lyrics persistently reflect narratives about letting go and trying to move on (or, pretending to let go and pretending to try to move on). While it perhaps incorrectly posits linearly chronological songwriting, the theme fits nicely, actually, at the end of the sequence comprised by Johnny Foreigner's two full-length recordings: Waited Up Til It Was Light was generally about Birmingham, and Grace And The Bigger Picture was generally about being away from Birmingham and the personal joys and fractures that result. You Thought You Saw... would seem to more closely examine the fractures and contextualize them in a world that has kept going in spite of it all.

It says something about the unchecked creativity and prolificness of Johnny Foreigner that the EP (which at one point carried the working title There When You Need It) doesn't contain what are arguably the best tracks it has released this year to date: the stunning demo version of "With Who, Who And What I've Got" has been freely available for download since May, and the bottomlessly poignant "199x" was given to only the couple dozen fans who ordered plush ghosts as part of the Exorcism Project. That the threesome didn't feel the need to include the two as-yet-unalbumed tracks on the EP underscores that Johnny Foreigner continues to somehow perfect more songs than it has the time and energy to market via what is the (largely dying) traditional music business model. And there is still more unalbumed songs waiting in the wings: fans who submit photos for use as part of the unique, crowdsourced sleeve art for the EP will receive a download code for the track "JFNV" (according to the band "it's pronounced nihonjin no tame no yakei"). Two more tracks grace a split single with labelmates Stagecoach; Alcopop is already taking orders for the single here, and it contains Johnny Foreigner's new "True Punx" and the band's cover of Stagecoach's "45."

Alcopop releases You Thought You Saw A Shooting Star But Yr Eyes Were Blurred With Tears And That Lighthouse Can Be Pretty Deceiving With The Sky So Clear And Sea So Calm as a 12" later this month, but the collection has been available for weeks via digital music storefronts serving North America in an effort to capitalize on Johnny Foreigner's just-ended tour here supporting incendiary Cardiff collective Los Campesinos!

[buy the EP from EMusic | ITunes]

Johnny Foreigner: Internerds | Facebook | YouTube | Flickr