December 30, 2011

Clicky Clicky's Top 10s of 2011: MP edition

[Photo of Shit Horse at Habana Bar, Austin, TX 3/16/2011 during SXSW. Photo by Michael Piantigini.]

Twenty aught-eleven was one of those star-aligning years that gifted me with tons of music I like - This year's list is admittedly pretty heavy on my wheelhouse veterans, but how lucky to still get such strong stuff from bands like Buffalo Tom, Five Eight, and the friggin' Feelies! Having taken to heart The Long Winters' John Roderick's admonitions on top 10 lists (and let's hope he gets that new album out in 2012), I offer these 10 for '11 in alphabetical order. Tune in to Clicky Clicky Radio next Thursday, 8-10 pm eastern, and I'll play lots of stuff from these and other great 2011 releases!

Buffalo Tom Skins (Scrawny)
With guitars big and autumn gentle, these beloved Boston mainstays returned with their strongest album in years, and one that could stand up to the reminiscing of their 25th anniversary celebrations later in the year (reviews: night 1/night 2/night 3). [review/buy]

Eleventh Dream Day Riot Now (Thrill Jockey)
Chicago's legends-in-certain-circles take their time and make records when they're ready. Riot Now turns up after a five year gap and Rick Rizzo's feedback and Janet Beveridge Bean's harmonies were worth every moment of the wait. [buy]

The Feelies Here Before (Bar/None)
This year's lottery of unlikely new albums was won by The Feelies who, speaking of gaps, waited 20 years to make their new one. And it sounds just like The Feelies - and I mean that as high praise. [review/buy]

Five Eight Your God Is Dead To Me Now (Iron Horse)
Long-running Athens, GA stalwarts Five Eight take a stand on their 2011 album. They may offer more grown-up perspectives, but never grew out of a youthful existential dilemma. If we're being honest, who does? They continue to strike a nerve. [buy]

Fucked Up David Comes To Life (Matador)
Huge. Just... HUGE. [buy]

The Rationales The Distance In Between
The debut full-length by these Boston Americana-rockers is a warm, guitar comfort food blanket with pop hooks that keep the songs in your head. [buy]

R.E.M. Collapse Into Now (Warner Brothers)
Admittedly, sentimental reasons might have been reason enough for me to put the final R.E.M. album on the list, but this is legit - Collapse Into Now is great on its own terms and is the best R.E.M. album since at least 1996 (put another way: their best in a generation!). A worthy swan song for a band that spent most of their last 15 years in the wilderness. [buy]

Kurt Vile Smoke Ring For My Halo (Matador)
Wherein which Kurt Vile continues to outdo himself with his best batch of songs yet. In the alt-rock (and what-have-you) world, producer John Agnello's credits are untouchable: from Dinosaur Jr to Drive-By Truckers and Sonic Youth to Son Volt (among MANY other greats), he has helped shape the sound of alt rock (and such) for more than a generation. Here, he translates Kurt Vile's stoner daydreams into a lush, earthy headphone cinemascape. [buy]

Wild Flag Wild Flag (Merge)
OK, I'll admit it - if I were numbering the list, this'd likely be number one with a bullet. Has anything so highly anticipated delivered so solidly? Don't see how it would be possible to see them live and not think they're huge rock stars. Now if we can only get people to stop yelling "put a bird on it" at their shows. [buy]

Wussy Strawberry (Shake It)
Wussy's been quietly churning gems out of Cincinatti for a decade (much like co-gutarist/vocalist Chuck Cleaver's band Ass Ponys did for the decade before that), and Strawberry just about snuck out in the last month or so. It's both barnstorming ("Pulverized," for one) and beautiful ("Magnolia," for another). Do your ears and soul a favor and go buy this now and then make your way through the rest of the catalog. [buy]

Bubbling under:
Office of Future Plans - S/T (Dischord)
Obits Moody, Standard and Poor(Sub Pop)
Megafaun - S/T (Hometapes)
And, let's face it - pretty much everything else Merge produced this year, especially Wye Oak's Civilian, Apex Manor's The Year of Magical Drinking, and Mountain Goats' All Eternals Deck [buy]

My 11 favorite shows of '11, in brief and chronological. A bit heavy on the SXSW, as you can see, but it was a fun one:
-Reigning Sound at the Magic Room Gallery - February 17, 2011 [review]
-Shit Horse at Habana Bar - March 16, 2011 (SXSW) [photos]
-Wild Flag at The Parish - March 18, 2011 (SXSW) [photos]
-Eleventh Dream Day at Yard Dog - March 19, 2011 (SXSW) [photos]
-Alejandro Escovedo at The Continental Club - March 20, 2011 (post-SXSW) [review/photos]
-Joe Pernice/Scud Mountain Boys at the Lizard Lounge - August 25, 2011 [review/photos]
-Jeff Mangum at Jordan Hall - September 10, 2011 [review]
-Tommy Keene with Doug Gillard at Church on September 11, 2011 [photos]
-The Low Anthem at Somerville Theatre (and outside) - October 20, 2011 [review]
-The Hush Now/Soccer Mom/Chandeliers at Precinct - October 22, 2011
-Buffalo Tom at Brighton Music Hall - November 25, 2011 (25th Anniversary shows, night 1) [review]

-Michael Piantigini

December 28, 2011

Varsity Drag with Chin Strap, Suicide Dolls, and 7CS | Church of Boston | 29 Dec.

Varsity Drag close out 2011 at Church, December 29, 2011
You know you want to. Facebook Event pagina right here.

Clicky Clicky's Top Albums Of 2011: Jay Edition

Clicky Clicky's Top Albums Of 2011 -- Jay Edition
And here we are at the end of 2011. If you had told us a year ago that the things which transpired this year were coming, we would not have believed you. While for much of the year, and much to our frustration, music had to take a back seat to real life, that only increased its importance to this writer. Cross-country flights soundtracked by Broken Shoulder. Getting up to speed mornings listening to Rival Schools. Quiet weekends with J Mascis, summer vacation with Algernon Cadwallader and The War On Drugs, doing dishes with the The Henry Clay People. And when we could, we saw shows that kept us smiling long after they were over, not the least of which was the seismic bill we co-presented in late October featuring The Hush Now, Soccermom and Chandeliers. We even found time to draft major pieces on favorite acts Haywood (here) and Johnny Foreigner (here). But largely constraints on our time and tons of stress often meant quality over quantity when it came to the blogging life; fortunately in 2011 there was no shortage of exceptional music to keep us sane. Below are our favorite 10 records of the year. We are very excited for what 2012 will bring, even if it only brings a little more time to catch up on everything we didn't have time for in 2011. Thanks for reading. Stick with us, there's a lot more Clicky Clicky where this came from.
1. Johnny Foreigner -- Johnny Foreigner vs. Everything -- Alcopop!
Now that it's here, it's hard not to feel like everything was leading up to it, from the band's very first single in 2007 onward. Johnny Foreigner vs. Everything is a fully DIY proposition that is remarkable in its vivid realization -- especially considering the small amount of money involved in creating it. It's also a defiant statement from a band that has fought for everything it has got, including its continued existence. As fronter Alexei Berrow told us here in October, "It feels like there are a lot of people waiting to be like 'O Johnny Foreigner fucked up, inevitable, how predictable.' Vs. Everything is us making these possibly imaginary folks eat their stupid words." And, man, the record delivers the fire and hope, the desperate melodies and sublime sentiments. If you haven't already, make sure you hear the best record of 2011.
[review / buy / Spotify]

2. Benjamin Shaw -- There's Always Hope, There's Always Cabernet -- Audio Antihero
While this list of favorite records for the most part illustrates which albums we listened to most in the last 360 or so days, it also speaks loudly about what we value in the music we spend our time with. Benjamin Shaw's There's Always Hope, There's Always Cabernet is perhaps the best example of what we value most: an artist with a singular personality, a unique vision or world view that is ably and creatively captured in the stereo field. Mr. Shaw's chamber pop showcases a charming dourness and humor, cloaked within deftly arranged guitar, piano, strings and ambient curiosities. His vocal delivery is remarkably personal, and the resulting collection here is as cozy as it is ghostly. Each song presents soft and sharp elements, like a bag full of knitting, while making sure that there are as many melodic hooks as there are noisy cul-de-sacs. It's enchanting, and it is easily one of the best of the year.
[preview / buy / Spotify]

3. Age Rings -- Black Honey -- Midriff Records
The one that almost got away, Black Honey was shelved for more than a year during its difficult gestation. Somehow band fronter Ted Billings was able to gather up inspiration that had sifted through his fingers and complete the collection, some four years on from its inception. It's a marvelous, rootsy rock record with a vast arsenal of hooks supporting Mr. Billings' raw, heart-on-sleeve sentiments and wry sense of humor. Black Honey is a thrilling collection, from the bombastic openers "Rock and Roll Is Dead" and "Black Hole" to the haunting closer "Caught Up In The Sound." It was a real feather in local dynamo Midriff Records' cap to be able to put it out, and it feels like a gift every time we listen to it.
[review / buy / Spotify]

4. Destroyer -- Kaputt -- Merge Records
Oh, how we loved this one from the very first time we put it on, perhaps the most obvious sign that even before we climbed all the way up the umbilical noose of '80s MTV, we were immersed irretrievably in early '80s commercial radio. It bothers us that Kaputt is viewed by many as tongue-in-cheek (the video for the album's title track didn't help matters), as we genuinely love the recycled soft-rock sounds and "Miami Vice"-cool found on the record just about as much as all the "critically compliant" Brotherhood vibes. Of course, embossing Destroyer auteur Dan Bejar's characteristic witover top of Kaputt's confections makes it that much more irresistable. Every song on the record is a hit, and it is at the top of mind every time we sit down to put on a record. Another Bejar coup.
[buy / Spotify]

5. The War On Drugs -- Slave Ambient -- Secretly Canadian
We listened to this for hours and hours in the middle of a hot summer, and it reminded us of the boiling South Philadelphia summers of our mid-20s. The city's unbroken mesh of hot brick rowhouses, each one its own oven, windows thrown open to the constant street noise, noise that buzzes like the constant aural din that underpins Slave Ambient. A din, we'd argue, that is like a dialect unique to Philadelphians. We long for our days in that city often, and in a way Drugs fronter Adam Granduciel has given us the gift of hearing a piece of our history again amid his hypnotic, mesmerizing creation. Slave Ambient's icy coctail of Philly FM radio and motorik reverie gets better every time we indulge it. Each time we put the collection on we nudge the volume knob northward to sit back and bathe in a Bartowski-esque Intersect of musical data points, freejacking decades of Petty, U2, the Dead and on and on and on and on...
[review / buy / Spotify]

6. Algernon Cadwallader -- Parrot Flies -- Hot Green/BSM
More Philly, people. This time it's fist-banging anthems, lightning in a bottle, youthful vigor. Few things make us wish we were young again, but Parrot Flies is one of them. Somewhere in all the caterwauling and rocking out, there is a well-spring of positive vibes so potent that it not only has the ability to brighten our days now, but also to inspire in us the strange belief that we could go back and enjoy by-gone days more if only we had had Parrot Flies on one side of a C-90 stuffed in the dashboard tape player. Emo the way it was meant to be written and performed by dudes who do it themselves, from recording to touring to releasing their record. To steal a line from Stars, "when there's nothing left to burn, you have to set yourself on fire." Algernon Cadwallader live it, and Parrot Flies is so much delicious proof.
[review / buy / Spotify]

7. The Hush Now -- Memos -- Self-Released
They did it. The Hush Now's third record is a triumph of melody, of songwriting, of will. For years the band has been slugging it out in Boston, turning in increasingly dominating live sets, and finally, with Memos, the band released a recording that matched in execution the passion and energy characteristic of their visceralperformances. And beyond Memos just sounding good and feeling good, it touts the best set of songs the quintet has turned out yet, from the jaw-dropping ballad "Sitting On A Slow Clock" (which featured on our year-end songs list here) to the scorching guitar pop anthems that the band has made its stock-in-trade, Memos delivers, and we can't imagine the overground won't come calling for these guys soon enough.
[review / buy / Spotify]

8. Ringo Deathstarr -- Colour Trip -- Sonic Unyon
It took four years to get it, but we can't say it wasn't worth the wait. On the tail of an increasingly convoluted string of singles and EPs (different collections in the USA, UK and Japan with different configurations of songs, something of a collector's nightmare), Austin-based noise pop behemoths Ringo Deathstarr finally issued a debut full-length. It's an arresting amalgamation of shoegaze, punk and even dance-pop, and it's awesome. The trio is having better luck in other markets (it just toured supporting Smashing Pumpkins abroad and had a few dates in Japan with Johnny Foreigner), but Colour Trip gained some significant traction for The Deathstarr here. And we ask you, what's not to like? The record is a perfect calling card for the band's power, style and attitude, and listeners that write the band off as a My Bloody Valentine clone are both missing the point and just not listening.
[review / buy / Spotify]

9. Soccer Mom -- You Are Not Going To Heaven -- 100m
...the power and the glory, forever and ever, amen. You Are Not Going To Heaven is an exhilarating collection, from the Sonic Youth-styled buzzsaw of "(A) Natural History" to the blackout bludgeoning of the final 30 seconds of "Southern Bells." All six songs here are dynamite. Perhaps the only thing more exhilarating is experiencing the quartet's firestorm live. We honestly feel bad for any band that has to follow these guys on a bill, because after The 'Mom levels the crowd with its blissful and desperate noise (via Dan Parlin's mad-dog death-grip head shake, the steady cool of guitarist Bill Scales and bassist Danielle Deveau, and drummer Justin Kehoe's octopus arms), that show's over, man. It's just over ("...grab your stuff and go and nobody goes to jail..."). This EP is huge, and we can't wait for the next batch of recordings. Boston's next big thing keeping getting better, if not nextier.
[preview / buy / Spotify]

10. Los Campesinos! -- Hello Sadness -- Arts & Crafts
In some way it is difficult to believe that the band that issued the scruffy Sticking Fingers Into Sockets EP in 2007 is the same act that crafted Hello Sadness. But there are a lot easy retorts to that sentiment, too, namely, well, it's just not the same band. The amount of living Tom, Gareth and the rest of Los Campesinos! have crammed into the last five years -- even if measured only by the 75 songs in our ITunes, you know, "band living" -- is quite astonishing. Hello Sadness is so emotionally broad and deep it is like the world's oceans, once you're in the water, it's just water going on forever, amazing songs like "To Tundra" and "Hate For The Island" so breath-taking there's no swimming across. There is a theoretic line between pop and art and this record is perhaps most remarkable for making that theoretic line so wide as one can not be pulled apart from the other at all. Amazing songs, amazing lyrics, so purposefully rendered.
[preview / buy / Spotify]

December 19, 2011

Out Now: Eldridge Rodriguez | Christmas On The Allston-Brighton Line EP

Eldridge Rodriguez -- Christmas On The Allston-Brighton Line
We made the coctails strong, we got the fire on... So let us be the latest to add our voice to the chorus of approval for Eldridge Rodriguez's jaunty holiday EP, Christmas On The Allston-Brighton Line. The three-song set -- the first in an annual series envisioned by the Boston-based feel-bad-pop luminary -- is as singular and as exciting as The Waitresses' "Christmas Wrapping," and as beautifully somber and evocative as Ted Pauly's "Christmas Eve, Molly Pitcher." Christmas On The Allston-Brighton Line caps a big year for Boston- and New York-based Midriff Records, which among other things also issued Eldridge Rodriguez' You Are Released in March. Mr. Rodriguez' live performance of You Are Released's "Run MF Run" was a highlight of the many shows we took in this year.

This new EP is led by the ridiculously catchy incantation "Baby, I'm Alone Tonight," which would be a certifiable hit in the overground were it dropped in the lap of a Top 40 "artist." As it is, the mid-fi production suggests the song was kind of dashed off. This isn't meant as a criticism; on the contrary, it suggests ER can bash out great songs with embarrassing ease. We picture him sunken in a worn, upholstered Bunker chair in his living room, fuzzy bunny slippers up, lazily surfing channels with the remote in one hand while he jots lyrics on the subscription card torn from a magazine and itches at his NicoDerm patch with the other hand. As clever a set of lyrics as ever turned out by Mr. Rodriguez, paired with cascading piano and guitar lines, makes the song a joy to play over and over again, and as we quipped to ER earlier today, the song cries out for a video treatment.

Christmas On The Allston-Brighton Line touts two additional numbers, the bouncing, roller-disco anthem "Christmas Eve (At The Old Country Buffet)" and the mellow gold of the snowy title ballad. The three songs come packaged with downloadable caroling sheets and alternate digital covers for all your desktop wall-papering needs. Buy the whole tomato at the Midriff store for three American clams right here; if you want to screw ER out of a little scratch you can instead buy the thing from any of the major digital music storefronts, which of course will take their cut and plow their record profits into price-checking jerkphone apps that will drive your friends' stores out of business. So, you know, whatever. When you coming back? When you coming back? When you coming back? When you coming back?

Stream "Baby, I'm Alone Tonight" via the embed below.

Eldridge Rodriguez: Hahahahaha | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube

December 14, 2011

REPOST*: Clicky Clicky's Top Songs Of 2011: Jay Edition

Clicky Clicky's Top Songs Of 2011 -- Jay Edition
[*We accidentally deleted this post from late December; here it is in all of its glory once more. -- Ed.]
Well, rock fans, it was a really strange year, one in which we personally and professionally -- and, yes, even to a certain extent here on the blog -- accomplished a great many big things. And all the ups and downs -- transcendent live sets on local stages, solitary post-midnight walks across frozen parking lots in the midwest -- had their soundtrack. Below are our picks for the 10 best songs of the year. These, as usual, are largely determined by our raw ITunes playcounts, although we also gave a little more weight to recent releases that would have been otherwise penalized by coming along later in the year. The list, most of all, is a chance to point to standout songs, regardless of whether the records they are sourced from garnered a slot on our year-end albums list, which we hope to publish before 2011 is gone.

There is an almost complete Spotify playlist of all the tracks that you can access right here; we say almost complete because for whatever reason Spotify doesn't have or won't recognize The Hush Now's wonderful 2011 set Memos. In the few instances possible, we've augmented our copy with embeddable streams, as well, which among other things affords you the opportunity to listen to a nice live recording of Ringo Deathstarr's superlative dream-pop ode "Kaleidoscope." We're already looking forward to big things in 2012. Thanks for reading,and keep an eye out for our aforementioned year-end albums list -- as well as a list or two from Mr. Piantigini -- in the coming days.

1. Johnny Foreigner -- "You vs. Everything" -- Johnny Foreigner vs. Everything
[listen at Spotify]

We struggled over the decision to make this song our song of the year, as opposed to "Alternate Timelines Piling Up." And what it came down to is that while "Alternate Timelines..." is stunningly beautiful and sad, "You vs. Everything" is a self-empowerment song. It's up-tempo. And we need all the adrenaline we can muster these days. Johnny Foreigner is no stranger to anthems, but here the band has finally gone ahead and pointedly created a break-neck paced, fist-banging anthem for you and me. It's one highlight from their year-topping third full-length Johnny Foreigner vs. Everything, which we reviewed last month right here.

2. Rival Schools -- "The Ghost Is Out There" -- Pedals
[listen at Spotify]

Our love for the chorus of this song is boundless. The melody, the ease with which fronter Walter Schreifels looses the syllables from his lips with his immeasurably emotive (tired/sad/happy/wistful/learned/heartbroken) and scratchy voice, the lyrics: it all kills us every time. Remarkably evocative, and yet we haven't any real idea as to what this song is about. But that is a sure sign of excellent songcraft -- the emotion and melody are extremely potent even if the intent is equally as fuzzy. Sing with us, now: "floating in spaaaaaace, the ghost is out there, so you're not alone." We didn't review Rival Schools' 2011 record Pedals, but it kept us company on a lot of cold winter mornings in a far-off place early this year.

3. Benjamin Shaw -- "Home" -- There's Always Hope, There's Always Cabernet
[listen at Spotify]

There's Always Hope, There's Always Cabernet will be lucky if it garners footnotes in the year-end lists of the wider, music-writing masses. But the fact is that as soon as we heard the record we sort of felt like someone had handed us a suitcase stuffed with a massive amount of unmarked bills. Or kittens. Well, ghost kittens. With bloody fur around their mouths. Dressed up as tiny little brides and grooms, top hats and veils, little holes for the tails, the whole bit. But anyway, Benjamin Shaw's record is a massive achievement, one that offers a singular but remarkably whole and detailed world view. That is no more apparent than during this epic song. We've seen other writers discussing Mr. Shaw's record that seem to suggest that the rich sonic appointments get in the way of the presentation, of, presumably, Shaw's voice and acoustic guitar. We vehemently disagree. The production on Cabernet is magically vivid and balanced and perfect, as "Home" perhaps best exemplifies.

4. Los Campesinos! -- "Hate For The Island" -- Hello Sadness
[listen at Spotify]

Gareth Campesinos! continues to decry when necessary the application by misinformed writers of the label "twee" to his band's music. Perhaps if he could get everyone to listen to "Hate For The Island" as many times as we have, he can save his breath and go back to tweeting about football and dames. The song is perhaps the most convincing argument that can be made to support the idea that while Los Campesinos! clearly began it's career as scrappy indie poppers, the band's present and future is more cerebral. This song is almost art rock, and the artfulness with which it is made speaks volumes about the massive talent that is propelling the
collective into a band middle-age that seems more promising with each new record.

5. The Hush Now -- "Sitting On A Slow Clock" -- Memos
[listen at Soundcloud]

The show-stopper from the band's best-of-2011 album isn't a big guitar anthem -- well, there are those, too -- but this bar room ballad, the definitive live version of which the band delivered to open its triumphant tour homecoming show in October. We've written for years about The Hush Now, and have seen them at least a dozen times live, but the band was still able to surprise us with this heart-string tugger. When the horn solo gently nudges itself in the door, it reveals a heretofore unrevealed facet of the band. Fronter Noel Kelly, who provides the horn solo here, probably can't rival Chet Baker on brass, but certainly the vocal performance on "Sitting On A Slow Clock" is worthy of the classic Chet Baker Sings. We reviewed Memos here in September.

6. Ringo Deathstarr -- "Kaleidoscope" -- Colour Trip
[listen at Spotify]

Another of noise-pop phenoms Ringo Deathstarr's perfect pop songs, in the mould of its early gems "Sweet Girl" and "Your Town." As the band broadens its pallet to incorporate more dynamic, electronic rhythms and bassist Alex Gehring's vocal contributions become more prominent, it is nice to hear that fronter Elliot Frazer is still willing and able to return to this creative well, apparently at will. Slowly spiraling guitar chords, yearning vocals, simple but unbeatable melodies. "Have you seen her, she's a kaleidoscope...?" Perfection. Check out this awesome live version from last summer. We reviewed Colour Trip here in May.

Ringo Deathstarr - "Kaliedescope (Live)"

7. Age Rings -- "Caught Up In The Sound" -- Black Honey
[listen at Spotify]

Sadness and beauty and inevitability, this song's packed with all three and sheds chunks of all of them as its spring-loaded trudging drives the tune from behind a curtain at stage left, across the spotlit center stage, only to disappear behind the curtain at stage right, like a four-minute Beckett play. From its recursive opening lyric to the gently twirling backing vocal that carries it out, "Caught Up In The Sound" is a breathtakingly vivid, down-in-the-mouth love song. As we observed in our review, the song is the perfect closing track to the Midriff re-release of Age Rings' Black Honey, which we reviewed here in October.

Age Rings - Caught Up in the Sound

8. Destroyer -- "Kaputt" -- Kaputt
[listen at Spotify]

We were really afraid this record was going to get hated on by the wider critical populace of the Internerds, as we'd seen (and heard, on the Sound Opinions podcast) some express distaste for the latest collection from Dan Bejar's Destroyer. Not because we need to have our love for this validated -- the relative anonymity of certain of our selections are certainly a testament to that. But as we were saying to the Koomdogg during a forthcoming episode of the CompCon podcast, we just found it hard to believe that a songwriter known to be a shapeshifter (in the same vein as our hero Kurt Heasley of Lilys) was going to be penalized for making a record that many would prefer to pigeonhole derisively as "soft rock." Our pal Bill from Soccer Mom actually has a great genre identifier for the smooth sounds of Kaputt -- "errand rock" -- which references the music his mom played in the car during his suburban upbringing. We totally get that. But we also think that there is a sufficient amount of New Order present in Kaputt along with the other smooth sounds to satisfy even the snootiest indie rocker. Either way, the collection is wonderful, and its dreamy chorus immediately wormed its way into our head and has never left. "Sounds, Smash Hits, Melody Maker, NME, all sound like a dream to me..."

9. Algernon Cadwallader -- "Cruisin'" -- Parrot Flies
[listen at Spotify]

All of this song is wonderful, and, indeed, all of Parrot Flies is wonderful. But this song has a moment, a huge, huge moment, that makes it the defining song Algernon Cadwallader's sophomore set. It's when the singer is shouting -- and he's always desperately shouting -- something like "and there's nothing bittersweet about that, and now something, something something something THE CHINATOWN BUS something something something" etc. Having never taken the Chinatown bus, we don't know why we find the reference so evocative, but we do. Something about the freedom to make mistakes, the freedom of being young and unencumbered by Life's Big Things. Something about joy, which is something that pervades not only this song, but the whole of Parrot Flies. We reviewed the record here in August.

Algernon Cadwallader - Cruisin' by bsmrocks

10. The Henry Clay People -- "The Honey Love He Sells" -- This Is A Desert EP
[listen at Spotify]

This is a pretty damn excellent song, life-affirming in its outrageous pacing and punchy delivery. But what perhaps makes this so invigorating, such a breath of fresh air, is that we swear mere months before this EP came out, The Henry Clay People announced something like a hiatus from music. And as we quipped elsewhere, we're glad the hiatus didn't "take," because this song is a barnburner.

December 8, 2011

Night Fruit "Dark Horse" Single Release Party at The Pill | Great Scott, Boston | 9 December

Night Fruit single release party at The Pill, December 9, 2011
The local Internerds are aglow today with talk about Boston dream-pop trio Night Fruit's new single and the release show for it tomorrow night at Great Scott. The buzz is deserved, as the carefully sculpted and beautiful "Dark Horse" is an arresting piece of work. Spiraling and shimmering guitars and big vocal melodies from fronter Amanda Dellevigne make for a winning concoction of blissed, upbeat pop that gracefully decomposes in the song's final minute. A sure sign that the band is firing on all cylinders right now is that the B-sides are equally delicious, even if they employ the same alchemy; any of the tracks could be the lead number. "Paper Thin" succeeds on its strident rhythm and more buoyant, strong singing from Dellevigne, while "Bittersweet" uses a somewhat lighter touch in the verse to set off some squalling guitars in the breaks. Night Fruit previously released the EP Triangles in July 2010, a more gothic, Cocteau-inflected short stack -- highlighted by the tense closer "Lover" -- which you can snatch from Bandcamp for free right here. Night Fruit performs during The Pill dance night at Great Scott tomorrow night. You can stream the entire new single via the Bandcamp embed below, and also purchase the collection at the same link. Pre-orders shipped today, but we bet you all the fake Gingriches you've got that you can get your Romneys on a hard copy tomorrow. Here's the Facebook event page for the show.

Nightfruit: Internerds | Facebook | Bandcamp | YouTube

December 5, 2011

Rock Over Boston: Dear Leader | Brighton Music Hall | 12.04.2011

Dear Leader
[Dear Leader at Brighton Music Hall. Photo by Michael Piantigini. A few more here.]

Boston rock stalwarts Dear Leader have been laying low for the last little while, apparently gestating or something. What we last saw as a traditional rock and roll four piece has emerged from the cocoon with 4 guitar players, 2 keyboard players (one of them adding some accordion for good measure) and their bass and drum rhythm section.

They already sounded pretty huge. Aaron Perrino's nuclear power plant of a voice and knack for the anthemic is more Dear Leader's (and his other band's, The Sheila Divine, about whom more in a moment) trademark and signature sound than any number of guitars could ever hope to be. Their new songs, sprinkled throughout, gave a hint of what's to come though. Powerful as ever, the wider instrumentation makes a more nuanced bed for The Voice. It will be especially interesting to hear it all on a tape (as it were).

But first, as we were told from the stage, there's a new Sheila Divine album in the pipeline. I don't have an release date for you, but the proliferation of individual tracks available over on their Bandcamp page - several of which are available as freebies - find them as in as fine a form as ever.

The record release party is on the books for February 4th at the Paradise. There seems to be a lot of great rock music plans for the new year already.

-Michael Piantigini

Dear Leader: Facebook | Twitter | MySpace
The Sheila Divine: Bandcamp | Fanpage

December 3, 2011

Today's Hotness: Fashoda Crisis, The Hush Now, Adamada

Fashoda Crisis, Live, Sometime
[Photo: Fanny Von Beaverhausen] >> Essex, UK-based smartpunx Fashoda Crisis earlier this evening celebrated the release of their sophomore set Him They Make Learn Read. The official release date for the collection Him They Make Learn Read was 21 Nov., but pre-orders were still being taken up to today; fans who oblige receive an immediate download of the album, the video for "Animals" we posted here in August, and a lyric book. The album touts seven bracing and shouty rockers that lean heavily toward social commentary as declared by the commanding voice of fronter Simeon Ralph. Meaning you can think when you are banging you head, or when you are pointing your finger and singing along, you've got something to point about. We'd have liked to have been in England tonight for this one. If you've not yet availed yourself of the pleasure, stream Him They Make Learn Read right here.

>> The album cycle for Boston guitar-pop luminaries The Hush Now's best-of-2011 Memos [review here] has run its course, and the band's usual, welcome battery of holiday singles are upon us. Fans likely already have laid ears on the quintet's Halloween offering "The Legend Of Dudley Town," but fresh from the fryer is "Happy New Year, Dear." As the title suggests, this is the band's soundtrack for your year-end bubbly popping. Why not pour a drink now and have a listen to get yourself warmed up for the end of the last night of the year?

>> Here's another Hush Now-related item. While recent remarks on the Facebooks suggest that the lads are starting to focus on a fourth full-length, lead guitarist Adam Quane has released an album from "a belated project from a few years back" to the Internets, Adamada. The collection Spilling Upwards is stocked with eminently listenable tunes marked by a grungy psychedelia, but it's not without its pop moments, however: every time "June Tigers" comes on our IPod we think it is a very weird Death Cab For Cutie song. The catchiest moments on Spilling Upwards are likely found in the track "Designed By My Heart," which pairs cooly delivered vocals with spacy guitar leads resulting in a concoction that is as much Alan Parsons Project as it is The Cure. All of this record is quite good, check it out below.

>> Hardcore/post-hardcore journeyman Walter Schreifels plans to finish the follow-up to his amazing solo record An Open Letter To The Scene this month, according to this item at Pun Canoes a couple weeks ago. Mr. Schreifels hopes the collection, which he has been calling Jesus Is My Favorite Beatle, will be ready to release in the spring of 2012. We hope so, too, as Open Letter was our second-favorite record of 2010. Of the planned collection, Schreifels says "It's [a] more rootsy, borderline (don't be scared) country record for me."

November 28, 2011

Rock Over Boston: Buffalo Tom 25th Anniversary | Night 3

[Buffalo Tom and guests at the Brighton Music Hall, Allston, MA 11/27/2011. Photos by Michael Piantigini.]

Night 1 coverage here and night 2 is here.

"Did you come here to remember, or to forget?" - Buffalo Tom's "It's You"

And so a terrific weekend of sweaty, feedback-drenched rockstalgia came to a close and Buffalo Tom blew out the candles on 25 years. Night 3 didn't have as many surprises and guests as the first two nights, but the diehards - many of whom were there all weekend - didn't need any gimcrackery. The A-level Buffalo Tom set was plenty great on its own. "Fortune Teller," "Sunday Night" and "Torch Singer" (not "Torch Song," as one drunken, confused punter kept asking for Saturday night) were welcome set additions, as was the rarely played "Porchlight." A popular singalong around my household, its rarity is usually blamed on drummer Tom Maginnis' apparent dislike of playing it. To add insult to injury, Janovitz and Colbourn had a lot of fun at his expense, reminding everyone of Maginnis' being the target of Sassy Magazine's "Cute Drummer Alert" back in 1992 (1991? something like that).

It's worth noting that only a couple of songs from their most recent pair of albums got aired and that's a shame. Three Easy Pieces and Skins are as worthy as anything else in the catalog and, as fun as it is to look back, the present ain't exactly slouching (at least where Buffalo Tom is concerned).

An important element was missing all weekend - especially Sunday, the last night: Billy Ruane. A staple at Buffalo Tom shows since the beginning, he could always be counted on to commandeer the stage to exhort the crowd into calling the band back for another encore. They dedicated "Larry" to him last night, but that there was only one encore was in itself a fitting tribute.

There were some pro-looking cameras around on Friday and Saturday, so here's hoping they'll share all that soon.

Buffalo Tom at Brighton Music Hall 11/27/2011:
Arise, Watch - with Mike Gent
Fortune teller - with Mike Gent
Sunday Night
Kitchen Door
Would Not Be Denied - with Chris Keene from Mean Creek
Sodajerk - with Aurore Ounjian from Mean Creek
Torch Singer - with Tanya Donelly
Don't Forget Me - with Tanya Donelly
It's You
Late At Night
Velvet Roof
Taillights Fade
Seeker - with Mike O'Malley and Mike Gent
Frozen Lake - with Tanya Donelly

Buffalo Tom: Tubes | Facebook | Twitter

-Michael Piantigini

November 27, 2011

Rock Over Boston: Buffalo Tom 25th Anniversary | Night 2

[Buffalo Tom and guests at the Brighton Music Hall, Allston, MA 11/26/2011. Photos by Michael Piantigini.]

Buffalo Tom's 25th Anniversary celebration rolled on last night with night two of their three game series (night one report here). There was no dip in intensity (25 years? No biggie!) and the band dug out a few more nuggets for us diehards. Can't remember the last time I heard them play "Mountains of Your Head" or "Would Not Be Denied" and they were well worth the wait. In fact, there was relatively few repeats, outside of a couple of their firmly ensconced setlist hits.

Bill Janovitz appeared to be having more fun than ever on guitar - shaking, bending, and flailing his SGs, sending them screaming through his pair of Marshall's. J who?

So, no, there was no repeat visit from J Mascis, but Mission of Burma loop man and Shellac (and former Volcano Suns) bassist Bob Weston handled the low end for "Rachael," freeing up Chris Colbourn to be the frontman we didn't know he had inside him. Ted Leo - fresh from a performance at Occupy Boston - reprised his guest shot on "Reason Why," but not before his surprising cameo on "Crutch" (and did another short opening set). Phil Aiken, who put in some time on keyboards with Buffalo Tom back around their Smitten album, sat in on a few songs where those parts have long been missed. Members of Boston anthem-rockers Mean Creek, who opened the night, helped out on "Would Not Be Denied," and "Sodajerk," and Fuzzy's Chris Toppin and Hilken Mancini came back with their repeat business as well.

TV's Mike O'Malley was back for "The Seeker" too - but this time he was fronting a lineup that had two-time Red Sox World Series GM, newly christened Chicago Cubs GM, and recent Boston ex-pat Theo Epstein on guitar, reportedly just back from his high school reunion ("Oh, those old things? Those are just my World Series rings!"). I tried to get a "let's go Red Sox" chant going, but there were no takers.

Series finale tonight. Whaddaya got?

Buffalo Tom at Brighton Music Hall 11/26/2011:
Taillights Fade
Rachael - with Bob Weston
Guilty Girls
Would Not Be Denied - with Chris Keene from Mean Creek
Sodajerk - with Aurore Ounjian from Mean Creek
Mountains of Your Head
Your Stripes - with Chris Toppin
CC and Callas
Darl - with Hilken Mancini
Crutch - with Ted Leo
Reason Why - with Ted Leo
She's Not Your Thing
Arise, Watch
You'll Never Catch Him
Scottish Windows - with Phil Aiken
Treehouse - with Chris Toppin, Hilken Mancini, and Phil Aiken
Wiser - with Chris Toppin and Phil Aiken
The Seeker - with Mike O'Malley and Theo Epstein
I'm Allowed

Buffalo Tom: Tubes | Facebook | Twitter

-Michael Piantigini

November 26, 2011

Rock Over Boston: Buffalo Tom 25th Anniversary | Night 1

[Buffalo Tom and guests at the Brighton Music Hall, Allston, MA 11/25/2011. Photos by Michael Piantigini.]


I can't claim to have been there quite at the beginning, but I'm in for about 20 of Buffalo Tom's 25 years. At that time, there was no streaming advance blog single and to get ahead of the curve on "alternative" rock, so it really helped if you worked on a college radio station. My first Buffalo Tom memory is eagerly huddling in WXPL's production studio with several cohorts to listen to the just-arrived "Velvet Roof" advance single. We listened to it several times in a row, and Let Me Come Over remains one of my all-time favorite albums.

How perfect, then, that they kicked off their weekend-long celebration of their 25th anniversary with a performance of that song every bit as inspired as it was on that single. Then they barely took a breath for another five songs in what went on to be two hours of the most powerful and energetic show of theirs - and maybe of anyone's - that we've seen in ages.

There was a cavalcade of guest stars, but the clear highlight was the producer of their first two albums, Rolling Stone top guitarist lister, and Dinosaur Jr frontman J. Mascis, who joined them to reprise his leads on the first album's "Impossible" for the first time since that recording session (or thereabouts). He stuck around for "Sunflower Suit" and "Birdbrain" and, with that, the show was elevated to a noisy dual guitar bliss blitz. It's almost automatic that they sounded bigger than ever. And pity the poor guy standing next to me roughly in front of Mascis' stack (he only had one of his usual three) who didn't have earplugs and stuck his fingers in his ears for the entirety of those songs).

How do you carry on from there? By turning around and bringing out Belly/Throwing Muse/Breeder/Rhode Islander Tanya Donelly to add gentle harmonies to Let Me Come Over's "Frozen Lake" and her parts of Skins' "Don't Forget Me," along with Sleepy Eyed's "It's You." Ted Leo joined in on "Reason Why," returning the favor of when Janovitz opened for his show and provided harmonies on his cover of the same back in the spring, and scene colleagues Hilken Mancini and Chris Toppin of the late, great Fuzzy added their harmonies to a few more as the night went on.

Though TV's Mike O'Malley doesn't sing in his role on Glee (or so I'm told), he turned a fun and worthy lead on a cover of The Who's "The Seeker" (along with Figg and Gentleman Mike Gent strumming away on acoustic guitar). J. Mascis returned to close out the night guitar dueling with Janovitz on "Cortez The Killer," the guitar solo(s) he was pretty much born to play.

The packed house lingered afterwards, probably stunned by the sonic weapon that is Mascis' wailing (which I hope no one decides to weaponize).

Openers Eugene Mirman and Ted Leo had to fight a non-enthusiastic, chatterbox crowd. Maybe they were all carb-drunk from the holiday? Both are pros and have been there before. Putting comedians in front of rock club crowds is almost cruel, but Mirman was hilarious and added his studied (not exactly) theremin skills to Leo's finale. Leo said he was struggling with a road-weary voice (treating it with a terrifying-sounding Jameson-hot sauce concoction), but you wouldn't have known it when he started singing. His cover of Uncle Tupelo classic "Whiskey Bottle" was as great as it was unexpected.

What else can I not expect? I guess we'll find out tonight!

Here's the full set list:

Buffalo Tom at Brighton Music Hall 11/25/2011:
Velvet Roof
Kitchen Door
I'm Allowed
Three Easy Pieces
Impossible - with J Mascis
Sunflower suit - with J Mascis
Birdbrain - with J Mascis
Frozen Lake - with Tanya Donelly
It's You - with Tanya Donelly
Don't Forget Me - with Tanya Donelly
Reason Why - with Ted Leo
Late at Night
Your Stripes - with Chris Toppin
Darl - with Hilken Mancini
Treehouse with Tanya Donelly, Chris Toppin, and Hilken Mancini
Taillights Fade
Arise, Watch - with Mike Gent
The Seeker - with Mike O'Malley and Mike Gent
Cortez the Killer - with J Mascis

Buffalo Tom: Tubes | Facebook | Twitter

-Michael Piantigini

November 22, 2011

Johnny Foreigner "You vs. Everything" Single/Poster On Offer Friday, Videos Galore

After a small delay (the single was originally to be issued 14 November), Birmingham, England-based indie titans Johnny Foreigner have announced the details of its single for the song "You vs. Everything," a song from the band's best-of-2011 mega album Johnny Foreigner vs. Everything [review]. The digital single comes packaged with a "super highly limited" edition, double-sided A3 print (roughly 11x17; image 1; image 2) created by the band's longtime visual media assassin Lewes Herriot. The single includes not only the rah-dee-ohhh edit of "You vs. Everything," but also the b-sides "PS, Not Soon Enough," "Johnny Foreigner Vs The Hipster Garden Party" and "If I'm The Most Famous (Robot) Boy You've Fucked, Then Honey, Yr In (Robot) Trouble." The video for the truly wonderful "PS, Not Soon Enough" is embedded below. That's all very exciting, right? Well, even more exciting is that "Johnny Foreigner Vs The Hipster Garden Party" is an 18-minute live set of the band performing in someone's garden in France on tour earlier in 2011. Surely you recall this video clip? Anyhoozle, the entire "You vs. Everything" package will be on order from the band's trusty label Alcopop! Records beginning Friday, so don't go all crazy Black Friday shopping at midnight or whatnot and space this or we expect the end result will be NO POSTER FOR YOU (/soup nazi voice). So WATCH THIS SPACE Friday, have your music-buying fingers limber, and go get 'em, indie rocker. In case you missed it, we published an extensive interview with Johnny Foreigner's Alexei Berrow, Junior Elvis Washington Laidley and Kelly Southern right here last month.

November 21, 2011

Clicky Clicky Radio | Playlist and Archive for 11.17.2011

Stream the archive below, (or download it!):

itsnotyouitsme - it might be time to leave this place and go mingle with our heroes - everybody's pain is magnificent (2011)
Future of the Left - My Wife Is Unhappy - Polymers Are Forever (2011)
Mission of Burma - Forget Yourself - The Sound, The Speed The Light (2009)
Soccer Mom - Unwanted Sounds - You Are Not Going To Heaven (2011)
Modifiers - Favorite Waitress - Show And Tell (1998)
Pete Townshend - Get Inside (demo) - Quadrophenia (2011 Director's Cut Box Set)
Eyesinweasel - To My Beloved Martha - Live in the Middle East (2001)
The Housemartins - The People Who Grinned Themselves To Death - The People Who Grinned Themselves To Death (1987)
Male Bonding - Tame The Sun - Endless Now (2011)
Thee Oh Sees - Contraption/Soul Desert - Carrion Crawler/The Dream (2011)
Lambchop - If Not I'll Just Die - Mr. M (2012)
Imperial Teen - Runaway - Feel The Sound (2012)
Hospitality - Betty Wang - Hospitality (2012)

*** Buffalo Tom Tribute in honor of their 25th Anniversary shows at Brighton Music Hall November 25th, 26th, 27th, 2011!!
Buffalo Tom - Deep In The Ground - Buffalo Tom (also on their original demo, 1986ish)
Buffalo Tom - Birdbrain (live) - Taillights Fade UK extended single (1992)
Buffalo Tom - Porchlight - Let Me Come Over (1992)
Bill Janovitz & Crown Victoria - Revealed - Fireworks on TV (2004)
Hilken Mancini & Chris Colbourn - Situations Count! - Hilken Mancini & Chris Colbourn (2005)
Buffalo Tom - The Big Light - Skins (2011)

Grails - Reincarnation Blues - Doomsdayer's Holiday (2008)
Restorations - Val d'Or - Restorations (2011)
Letting Up Despite Great Faults - Teenage Tide - Paper Crush (2011)
Heads on Sticks - Steep Canyons - Brutish & Short (2011)
The Go Round - Angela - Gone (2011)
Caitlin Rose - Shanghai Cigarettes - Own Side Now (2011)
The Wandas - Long Time Running - The Wandas (2011)
R.E.M. - We All Go Back Where We Belong - Part Lies, Part Heart, Part Truth Part Garbage: The Best of R.E.M. 1982-2011 (2011)

-Michael Piantigini

November 18, 2011

YouTube Rodeo: Bandoliers' "May"

We like catchy British guitar pop. This is catchy British guitar pop. Bandoliers is a fledgling trio from Newcastle that released its debut double-A side single "Time" b/w "May" in September; you can download both tracks from Bandcamp right here.

November 16, 2011

Age Rings and Eldridge Rodriguez | Piano's and Public Assembly | 19-20 Nov.

Age Rings and Eldridge Rodriguez, Two Nights, Two Boroughs
New York! The monsters of Boston indie rock are coming for you: two bands, two boroughs, two nights. That would be Eldridge Rodriguez and Age Rings, neither of which include any members of Van Hagar, Saturday the 19th at Piano's in Manhattan, and Sunday the 20th at Public Assembly in Brooklyn. It's E.R.'s first New York show with a new line-up. That's tantamount to juggling flaming chainsaws! Maybe! And Age Rings just released one of the best records of the year. Full show details at the Facepalm invitilation page right here on the Interzuzzzzes. Listen to songs. Be the ball.

Age Rings by "Caught Up in the Sound"

Eldridge Rodriguez - Miss Me When I'm Gone [Live on WMBR Pipeline April 2011] by scubaix

November 15, 2011

YouTube Rodeo: Johnny Foreigner Covering "You Are Invited"

Johnny Foreigner vs. Birmingham vs. The Dismemberment Plan. Live at The Flapper. Nov. 13, 2011. Epic.

November 14, 2011

Clicky Clicky Radio | Playlist and Archive from 11.10.11.

Stream the archive below, (or download it!):

Pink Floyd - Raving And Drooling (live) - Wish You Were Here (2011 deluxe reissue)
Johnny Foreigner - Jess, You Got Yr Song, So Leave - Johnny Foreigner vs. Everything (2011)
Witches - Creature of Nature - Forever (2011)
The Jam - In The City - In The City (1977)
Tristen - Baby Drugs - Eager For Your Love 7" (2010)
The Cinema Twin - C'mon Today - C'mon Today (2011)
Elliott BROOD - If I Get Old - Days Into Years (2011)
Matthew Sweet - Divine Intervention - Acoustic & Live NoiseTrade Sampler (2011) Available free here!
John Wesley Harding - There's A Starbucks (Where The Starbucks Used To Be) - The Sound of His Own Voice (2011)
The Mountain Goats - This Year - The Sunset Tree (2005)
The Black Hollies - Benevolent Beacon - S/T 7" (2011)
Obits - I Want Results - Moody, Standard, and Poor (2011)
TV Casualty - Teenagers From Mars - TV Casualty EP (2011)
Waters - For The One - Out In The Light (2011)
Big Troubles - Misery - Romantic Comedy (2011)
Thee Oh Sees - The Dream - Carrion Crawler/The Dream (2011)
Reigning Sound - Everything I Do Is Wrong - Abdication...For Your Love EP (2011) - Get it FREE HERE!
The V-Roys - Sooner Or Later - Sooner Or Later (2011)
The Glands - When I Laugh - The Glands (2000)
Robert Pollard - Perfect This Time (demo) - (2011)
Pete Townshend - Joker James (demo) - Quadrophenia (2011 Deluxe Reissue)
Radiation City - Park - The Hands That Take You (2011)
Sleeping Bags - Pehr - Sleeping Bags (2011)
Tom Waits - Tell Me - Bad As Me (Deluxe Edition - 2011)
Ian Humberstone - House on The Hill - 7" (2011)
Bill Callahan - Baby's Breath - Apocalypse (2011)

-Michael Piantigini

November 10, 2011

Varsity Drag Top-Lining My Own Worst Enemy Release Show | Precinct | 11 Nov.

Varsity Drag, My Own Worst Enemy Record Release Show
To our knowledge, Friday night is your last chance to see Boston's best pop-punk act play before the year is out. See Varsity Drag tomorrow night, before they see you! OPRAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHH YEEEEEEELLLLLLLLLLLL!!!!!!!! Show details at the Facebore Event page here.

Here's The Drag's nod to the late, great Billy Ruane, whose life is being celebrated tonight at Radio in Somerville. Details of that show here.

Rock Over Boston: Wooden Shjips, Birds of Avalon | TT's | 11.09.11

[Wooden Shjips and Birds of Avalon at TT the Bear's Place, Cambridge, MA 11/9/11. Photos by Michael Piantigini.]

November 6, 2011

Review: Johnny Foreigner | Johnny Foreigner Vs. Everything

Spoiler Alert: The chorus of "You vs. Everything" comes back, and when it does it's the greatest moment of the greatest song of the greatest album of the year. In a just world, the song would roll under the credits of dozens of feature-length teen dramedies by the middle of the decade. Or soundtrack montages of the young and the jilted, ditching soul-killing jobs, driving too fast in cars, smashing mailboxes, dreaming big dreams and proceeding with the business of Getting Over It And Getting On With It. In fact, the entirety of Johnny Foreigner's captivating third LP rides a unifying cinematic arc -- it's even divided into three acts -- from the first syllables of the blitzkrieging opening anthem (with the characteristically clunky name) to the final song's final beats winding down like a stiffening tin man.

The collection's cohesiveness is the product of something so very simple, it is easy to overlook it, that thing that elevates Johnny Foreigner Vs. Everything above the Birmingham, England-based indie titans' prior full lengths, that thing that likely makes the wildly ambitious 17-song set the best record of 2011. At bottom what makes Johnny Foreigner's new long-player so special is that it was created completely on the trio's own terms. No deadlines. No budgets. No producers. No one saying "no." As a result of the time and mental headspace this approach afforded the band, Johnny Foreigner Vs. Everything is not only beautifully conceived, but is also a completely unvarnished collection, in the sense that there is nothing that gets between what the band hears in its heads, and what fans hear on the record. It reminds us (although it occurs to us this may not be a real memory, brain is getting weird) of the reason Pennsylvania-based garage-psych legend Brother JT would strip off his clothes on stage: he didn't want anything inhibiting the transmission of the rock from him to the people.

On Johnny Foreigner Vs. Everything the melodies are grander, the emotions more potent, the texture and subtleties more refined. Sure, the record has a concept, but it needn't be speculated on or sussed out: fronter Alexei Berrow came right out and told fans what it was in one of the first interviews of the album's promotional cycle. As Mr. Berrow told Stereoboard in September, Johnny Foreigner Vs. Everything is less autobiographical than the prior two, and concerns itself with "the alternate universe theory; for every decision you make, there exists a world where you made the opposite. There's also internal monologue in the merits of experiencing stuff versus capturing it for posterity. There's some meta-fiction. The overall story is the world's only happy shipwreck, where, instead of drowning, everyone gains the power of flight."

The beating heart of the record, an amalgamation of harrowingly poignant ballads ("Johnny Foreigner vs. You," "Alternate Timelines Piling Up") and the band's characteristic, spitfire guitar anthems ("If I'm The Most Famous Boy You've Fucked, Then Honey, Yr In Trouble," "What Drummers Get"), is of course the songs. The threesome has continued to refine its songcraft while nodding affirmatively to various influences, resulting in the majesty of the grand piano on the ballad "Johnny Foreigner vs. You;" the melodic, Lali Puna-esque blip-pop of "200X;" the soulful brass appointments on "Jess, You Got Your Song, So Leave;" and the subdued, Album Leaf-y tone-and-groove of "Supermorning."

In a very interesting way, Johnny Foreigner Vs. Everything serves as an effigy for bummers. Early in 2011, the band invited fans to submit spoken-word bits about cursed songs, and many if not all of these were woven into sections of the record, to be celebrated, and to be auto da fe'd. The cliche is time heals all, but perhaps Johnny Foreigner has created a faster route to making the stomach-churning irrelevant by voila!-ing them into art. At the same time the process of incorporating these bits captures them for all time, like an insect in amber. Maybe some shit you never get over, it just gets wall-papered over, and eventually the wallpaper is more useful, more interesting, certainly much nicer than the shit under it. Lex, Kel and Jun had their own use for the bad mojo, turning it into three interstitials -- "Concret1" and "Concret2," as well as "The Swell," which ushers in the thrilling final numbers "Like Neverwhere" and the stunningly beautiful "Alternate Timelines Piling Up" -- that portion the record into digestible chunks for the ADD-addled.

Johnny Foreigner Vs. Everything is released tomorrow in the UK by Alcopop! Records; the collection will be followed by the single for the song "Johnny Foreigner Vs. You" Nov. 14. This coming weekend the band launches the album with shows in London and Birmingham; London appears to be sold out, but remarkably there appear to be Brum tickets yet BUYBUYBUY. If you've not done so already, read our comprehensive interview with Berrow, Junior Elvis Washington Laidley and Kelly Southern right here.

Johnny Foreigner: Internerds | Facepalm | YouTube | SoundCloud

(don't) show us your fangs by johnny foreigner

What Drummers Get by johnny foreigner

Selected Prior Coverage:
That Was The Show That Was: Johnny Foreigner | Bowery Ballroom
Review: Johnny Foreigner | Arcs Across The City EP
Review: Johnny Foreigner | Waited Up 'Til It Was Light
Review: Johnny Foreigner | WeLeftYouSleepingAndGoneNow
Review: Johnny Foreigner | Grace And The Bigger Picture
Review: Johnny Foreigner | You Thought You Saw A Shooting Star But Yr Eyes Were Blurred With Tears And That Lighthouse Can Be Pretty Deceiving...
Review: Johnny Foreigner | Certain Songs Are Cursed EP