May 30, 2011

That Was The Show That Was: Get Help with E.R. and Soccermom

Thursday night at PA's in Somerville, Mass., three of Boston's best -- we're fudging New York/New Jersey-based Get Help's geographical bona fides here on purpose because of history, man -- brought their A game for an evening packed cheek to jowl with rock that howled. Beatings co-fronter Eldridge Rodriguez stuck the landing on a gripping and occasionally curious set that drew heavily from his superlative 2011 solo long-player You Are Released. The collection grafts onto Rodriquez's characteristically intense guitar shouters electronic beats and samples, and it was interesting to see drummer Dennis Grabowski, who also detonates the cans for The Beatings, play to electronics triggered live by a guy that we assume was Ray Jeffery, co-producer and recording engineer for You Are Released (among other E.R. recordings) brother Dave Grabowski (formerly of Scuba, now of Midriff Records' own Louder My Dear, which features Dennis Grabowski on guitar). Those electronics also writhed in the breaks between songs like a dimly lit pit of snakes, limning the already dark tunes with an ethereal, unsettling dimension. The set was highlighted by Mr. Rodriguez, resplendent in a white suit, delivering a scalding iteration of "Run MF Run;" the live rendition was augmented with a new bell sample and the explosive choruses were gratifying.

Gracious hosts for the evening Get Help obliged listeners with a set almost solely drawn from the quartet's wonderful sophomore record The Good Green Earth, although said set closed memorably with the undeniable, pogoing title track to its 2008 debut The End Of The New Country. Unsurprisingly, the highlights of the set otherwise were our favorite tracks from The Good Green Earth: closer "Crooked Streets" -- rendered here without the sadly beautiful organ backing -- and the strident strummer "You Should Be Home By Now." We'd like to see these guys play more often.

You Should Be Home By Now by Get Help

Jamaica Plain-based Soccermom brought the evening to a kaleidoscopic close with a dazzling set forged from dense guitars and desperate vocals. The quartet, fronted by longtime scenemaker Dan Parlin, was simply brilliant, regularly bending over-driven chords and slide guitar around a decisive rhythmic attack. New drummer Justin Kehoe, he formerly of The Migration Trap, was remarkably fluid and understated behind the drum kit, and seems to be a perfect complement to the extant Soccermom alchemy. We heard new material in the set and it gives us high hopes that the band will garner the recognition it deserves very soon -- if only from the legions of music fans out there waiting for a contemporary take on early Lilys or early Polvo. Soccermom intends to issue later this year a 10" EP titled You Are Not Going To Heaven, and we've heard some of the recordings and they are terrific. If you haven't heard the band's debut single, here's one of the tunes.

Soccermom's "High On Dad"

E.R. and Get Help fans can catch Mssrs. Rodriguez and Skalicky in their natural habitat fronting The Beatings this Friday -- while R.S.V.P.s last -- in Charlestown at an event being helmed by the RSL Blog. So get with that. Soccermom returns to the stage Saturday night at The Beachcomber in Quincy, and again July 16 at Precinct in Somerville, Massachusetts for the Guillermo Sexo record release party.

May 23, 2011

YouTube Rodeo: Johnny Foreigner's "With Who, Who And What I've Got"

Filmed live at the Birmingham, England-based noise pop titans May 9 show at AZ in Aachen, Germany. If, like us, you are saying "where the hell is Aachen?" the answer is halfway between Antwerp and Wiesbaden, right on the border where Germany meets Belgium. Don't say we never learned you nothing. Speaking of our favorite English act, how badly do we want one of these arts and crafts sets? Limited series of 25, includes the comic. And a beermat from Aachen. See how we brought that full circle? Watch this space, but make sure to save one for us.

May 22, 2011

Today's Hotness: The Answering Machine, Christie Front Drive

The Answering Machine
>> The news is going stale at this point, but we'd be remiss if we didn't mark the passing of beloved indie-pop luminaries The Answering Machine. The Manchester, England-based foursome posted a handwritten letter to its web site Monday morning disclosing that -- after six years -- its members have ceased making music collectively and under the The Answering Machine brand name. A vinyl release of the band's recently issued sophomore set Lifeline [review here] -- previously rumored to be announced this spring -- will now be realized as a posthumous release as a thanks to fans. When we saw the note first thing Monday we were startled, but the news also placed Lifeline in an interesting perspective. On the whole, the set's tone and tenor was resigned and sometimes sad, and you have to wonder if thoughts about the future of the band were already crystalizing during the recording sessions. Either way, Lifeline's introspective tone was far removed from the scritchy, exuberant and wide-eyed guitar pop of the band's cracking full-length debut Another City, Another Sorry [review here]. Both are great albums, of course, and we encourage you to obtain them if you have to this point disregarded our prior exhortations. The Answering Machine, we salute you. We are sad to see you go, and we look forward to any new musics your various components create. Let's feel the face-melting title track to Another City, Another Sorry together one more time, shall we?

The Answering Machine - Another City, Another Sorry by HeistOrHit

>> It's an odd coincidence that fewer than 12 hours after we were cuing up the amazing Boys Life/Christie Front Drive split 10" -- and posting a video for one of the songs to Facebook -- we encountered news at BrooklynVegan that Christie Front Drive will reunite for at least one show, which show will take place in July in Brooklyn to celebrate Magic Bullet Records' reissuing of the Christie Front Drive discography. The Denver-based quartet previously reunited for a single show in 2007 after initially shuffling off this mortal coil in 1997. If you don't own this record (released on the legendary Crank! label), well, then we feel really, really bad for you.

May 21, 2011

The Hush Now Prep Memos, Remastered Constellations Due June 14

The Hush Now Prep Remastered Constellations, 'Atheist' Single
Boston's The Hush Now are poised to unleash a double-barrelled blast of swirling dream pop in the form of a third full-length and a completely remixed and remastered second iteration of its sparkling 2009 sophomore set Constellations. The new record is titled Memos and it is slated for a September release date; the quintet hopes to promote the release with an ambitious tour later in the fall. Constellations -- which the band will offer for free download via its web site from June 14 (Flag Day!) -- was remixed by Benny Grotto at Allston's Mad Oak Studios; Grotto recorded Memos and also was responsible for mixing The Hush Now's 2010 EP Shiver Me Starships. The revamped Constellations includes the heretofore unreleased outtake "The Atheist" but leaves aside original album-closer "Carousel." Also new is a surprisingly hot dance remix (yeah, you read that correctly) of the song "Thorns" created by notable Australian producer and songwriter Tony Cvetkovski.

Longtime readers may recall our first encounter with The Hush Now was during the sessions for the sophomore record, specifically while founding member Noel Kelly was laying down the vocal for "The Atheist." We are pleased to learn the soaring, horn-spangled number is getting the digital single treatment, and you can stream the track via the Soundcloud embed below. Train your gaze, if you have not already done so, on the art for the single above, which was created by Allston's Doug Gately (not Don -- Ed.). A fellow named Jared Tharp crafted the updated art for the remixed Constellations, which you can also see above. The Hush Now play a record release show to celebrate the re-issue June 18 at O'Brien's Pub in Boston with locals The Susan Constant.

The new version of Constellations is intended to help build hype for Memos. The sessions for the new record -- which is being mastered by Jeff Lipton at Peerless -- wrapped very recently and yielded 13 tracks recorded in a breathless eight days. Ten of the tunes will appear on Memos; the remaining tracks will be released as one-offs for various purposes which will become apparent to you. So are you ready to rock?.

The Hush Now's "The Atheist"

The Hush Now: Internerds | Facebook | YouTube | Flickr

May 15, 2011

Today's Hotness: Gold-Bears, The War On Drugs, Yuck

>> Oh man we love this new Gold-Bears tune "Record Store," and we have high hopes for the rising, Atlanta-based quartet's full-length debut Are You Falling In Love? The album was released earlier this month by the obviously dominating and awesome Slumberland Records (although a note at the web site indicates the vinyl version is delayed until June 7). "Record Store" radiates a classic Slumberland sound saturated in fuzzy guitars, espousing big melodies, and rocking most steadfastly. Gold-Bears, who play PA's Lounge in Somerville, Massachusetts Wednesday, formed in 2010 and the band centers around songwriter Jeremy Underwood, formerly of the act Plastic Mastery (555 Recordings/Magic Marker Records). If the rest of the record sounds anything like the song embedded below, we imagine we'll listen to Are You Falling In Love? until people are sick of being around us. Buy the record from Slumberland right here.

"Record Store" by Gold-Bears

>> While we've been looking the other way, Philadelphia's The War On Drugs has been up to a lot. The remarkable folk-rock droners recently announced they would issue a sophomore full-length Slave Ambient Aug. 16 on Secretly Canadian. The collection -- which will be issued as a 45RPM double LP, as well as in those new formats the kids like -- was recorded in a number of places including Jeff Ziegler's Uniform Recording studio. Secretly Canadian is offering the tune "Baby Missiles" as a teaser for the new collection; fans will recognize the rhythmic foundation as very similar to the uptempo shuffle of "Taking The Farm," a stand-out track from The War On Drugs' superlative debut full-length Wagonwheel Blues, which was one of our favorite records of 2008. "Baby Missiles" updates the prior track with some "Walk Of Life"-style synth lines, some Springsteen-esque harmonica wail and a touch more frenetic energy. Taken in sum, the tune succeeds in making us want to hear the rest of Slave Ambient post-haste. In other news, The War On Drugs issued last fall a second EP Future Weather, which completely passed us by, and you can buy that thing right here.

The War On Drugs -- "Baby Missiles" -- Slave Ambient
[right click and save as]
[pre-order Slave Ambient sometime soon from Secretly Canadian right here]

>> We've been remiss in noting that London-based indie rock upstarts Yuck will self-release a double A-sided vinyl single June 27. The young outfit's release touts a non-album track "Milkshake" etched into one face; the grooves on the other face will recreate the sounds of the song "Shook Down" -- from the band's excellent self-titled debut issued by Fat Possum Feb. 15 -- when it is correctly scratched by a "stylus" or "needle" affixed to the tone arm of a record player. Not sure why Fat Possum did not issue this single, but perhaps Yuck's was a one-album dealy, or maybe Fat Possum just didn't want to participate in the vinyl release. The quartet returns to the U.S. in mid-July for two weeks of dates beginning at the Pantsfork festival in Chicago and ending with a date at The Troubador in Los Angeles July 30. "Milkshake" is a pretty strong guitar jam, and if you want to do the proverbial try before you buy, hit the Soundcloud stream below. We think you'll dig it. The inimitable Ric Dube -- host of the delightful More Lost Time podcast -- reviewed Yuck's recent Boston show right here in late April.

"Milkshake" by Yuck

May 14, 2011

Review: Manorlady | Home

We may be even more surprised than you to learn that a very promising shoegaze act resides in Charlottesville, Virginia, USA. In a less-than-well-planned move after graduating college, we temporarily settled in C-Ville. We were very pleasantly surprised to find touring indie rock acts came through town (Archers of Loaf, Jeff Mangum, Cat Power, Versus, Godrays, Dirty Three, Trans Am, Sebadoh, Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, et cetera) with thrilling regularity. And we were even more surprised to find some home-grown talent there that we became fast fans of (namely September 67). But there were no local acts during our brief tenure that approached -- or really, even acknowledged -- the density and textures of shoegaze. This was, after all, a town to which people made pilgrimages to see the mecca that was the bar that had once been tended by Dave Matthews, where one didn't have to hang around too long before spotting Silver Jews' David Berman walking on the downtown mall. But, after all these years, it would seem that Manorlady's notable debut full-length Home is proof that things are changing in the 'ville.

Manorlady's chiaroscuro dream-pop -- which attentive listeners will note is sonically akin to that of Pennsylvania-based Soars -- is marked by gothic undertones, often fed with firm guitar leads and anchored by the sort of clunky drum machine that in a certain era almost always boomed within clouds from dry ice. In a couple places it feels thin and the drum programming flat, but that is the exception and not the rule. Indeed, from the guitars-ablaze climax of the curiously titled, de facto opener "Boy And Flippers" through to the end of the 11-song set, there are a number of spine-tingling moments on Home.

The brooder "Trees'" thickly applied guitars, vocal harmonies and varied dynamics make it among the more remarkable tracks. But the towering highlight of the record is "International Boys Club," which launches with the sort of big guitar chords one encounters in a great Morrissey single, before settling on a surfy lead that dances atop of the here crushing electric drums. The whole thing is draped in ethereal vocals, and when that first chorus hits at the end of the second minute you will begin to see the world the way the Virginia-based trio sees it: shimmering and heavy, a little beautiful, a little scary.

Manorlady self-released Home April 23 and you can buy the set direct from the band at its BigCartel dojo right here. The trio has a pretty busy summer planned, and we've posted all the currently booked live dates below, along with a Soundcloud embed of the entire record. Definitely fire it up and listen to "International Boys Club."

Manorlady: Internerds | YouTube | Facebook | Soundcloud

05.28 -- Twisted Branch Tea Bazaar -- Charlottesville, VA
06.22 -- Magnolia -- Charlottesville, VA
06.24 -- Strange Matter -- Richmond, VA
06.25 -- Pterodactyl Art Gallery -- Philadelphia, PA
06.26 -- Mudhouse -- Crozet, VA
07.01 -- Elliot's Revue -- Winston-Salem, NC
07.03 -- Soapbox -- Wilmington, NC
07.07 -- The Happy Dog -- Cleveland, OH
07.08 -- Bar East -- Manhattan, NY

Home by manorlady

May 13, 2011

Review: Sloan | The Double Cross

[We welcome back to these digital pages long-time contributor and friend of the blog Jay Kumar. When Mr. Kumar is not doing tons of stuff that basically makes the rest of us look like lazy asses, he hosts the consistently terrific Completely Conspicuous podcast. Subscribe here. -- Ed.]

Twenty years is a long time to do anything, let alone do it at a consistently high level. But quality is exactly what relatively unheralded Canadian power pop veterans Sloan has delivered album by album since 1991. Over two decades, the band has endured major label flirtations, serious shifts in musical plate tectonics, low record sales, a brief breakup and constant touring. On its new album The Double Cross (out this week on Yep Roc), Sloan serves up another impeccable collection of songs that could comfortably fit in any of the last four decades.

The band has always featured songs written and sung by all four members and The Double Cross is no exception. Album opener "Follow the Leader," penned by bassist Chris Murphy, is an uptempo number that segues into "The Answer Was You," a song from guitarist Jay Ferguson, who writes perfect 1970s AM radio ditties. Guitarist Patrick Pentland contributes catchy riff-rockers, including the standouts "Unkind" and "It's Plain to See." In addition to his powerhouse drumming, Andrew Scott continually contributes interesting slabs of psych-rock to Sloan albums, providing a nice counterpoint to the Beatles and Kiss-influenced offerings of his bandmates. Scott’s "Traces" and "She's Slowin' Down Again" are two more top-notch numbers. The album is full of songs that should be all over the radio, but won’t be.

Like 1999's Between The Bridges and 2006's Never Hear The End of It, the songs here fade into each other, and like those albums, The Double Cross is over quickly, leaving the listener wanting more. And really, that's all you can ask for. -- Jay Kumar

Sloan: Internerds | Facebook | YouTube | Twitter

May 10, 2011

YouTube Rodeo: Point Juncture, WA's "Violin Case"

We're loving the new Point Juncture, WA record Handsome Orders, even more so than their prior set, which surprises us. But we won't get to writing a review of the Portland, Oregon-based quartet's new record until we clear out some other stuff. In the meantime, check out this ace clip above. Handsome Orders will be issued 17 May by Mt. Fuji. Love the track? Grab the MP3 below. We reviewed Point Juncture, WA's prior set Heart To Elk right here in January 2009.

Point Juncture, WA -- "Violin Case" -- Handsome Orders
[right click and save as]
[pre-order Handsome Orders right here]

May 8, 2011

Today's Hotness: Bos Angeles, Hot Molasses

Bos Angeles is better than your band and they have never even played a show
>> Just catching up with the cognoscenti on this one, but am completely bowled over: Bos Angeles, who the hell are you, and why are you awesome? The Boscombe, England-based trio -- comprised of chaps named Dick, Ben and George who apparently "met making ice cream on Bournemouth beach" -- has recorded but a single track, "Beach Slalom," and you can download the thing for free at Bandcamp right here, and we highly recommend you do. The track is melodic and spare in the same way the best, non-synth-oriented early New Order tracks are. Frank Chromewaves did a little legwork and has determined that Bos Angeles is so newly minted that its live debut is still a few weeks away: May 26 in Bournemouth, England on a bill presented by This Scene Isn't Dead. We can't wait to hear more from this act.

>> Somerville-based fivesome Hot Molasses' jittery, smiley power-pop has garnered a number of spins at the Clicky Clicky dojo. The act issued in March a sophomore EP Frankly that isn't easily slotted, and, really, it was the track "Mendoza Lines" from Hot Molasses' debut EP Molassachusetts (awesome name) that made us a firm convert, since we were huge fans of the late great Athens-spawned, Brooklyn-buried indie rock collective The Mendoza Line. Frankly offers a fizzing opener in "Too Many Volts," which touts swerving synth leads and punchy vocal interplay. "YHMT" delivers on the band's promise of treading ground similar to Canadian powerpop superheroes New Pornographers, and you will find yourself hanging on to the tune's huge, bending guitar chords in places. Elsewhere, it is Julia Dickinson's steady alto -- reminiscent of that of Velocity Girl fronter Sarah Shannon -- the provides the focal point. Hot Molasses self-released Frankly March 25; you can download the set from Bandcamp right here. According to Bandcamp, the quintet's next local appearance is July 22 at the Middle East Downstairs (although the date isn't on the Middle East web site yet).

May 7, 2011

And Then Some Days We Get Awesome Mail 10

Johnny Foreigner Frisbeep and t-shirts
This is technically two separate packages, but they came on consecutive days and we think you'll agree there is a theme. So first, we have Alcopop! and Johnny Foreigner's hopefully trend-setting and ridiculously great frisbee EP, Certain Songs Are Cursed. We were wondering exactly how the disc was affixed to the frisbee, as boring as that sounds, and for those of you not fortunate to get this item (it sold out in fewer than 24 hours), here is the answer: there is a spindle off-center on the underside. Fascinating, right? The music on the CD, of course, is the bigger attraction here, and hopefully you've already heeded our review and acquired the music; while the physical item is long gone, the MP3s can be purchased via Alcopop! right here. The last frame of our graphic contains pics of the Birmingham, England-based noise pop demigods' two latest tour shirts, which the band was kind enough to send across the pond in exchange for our American currency. Need some JoFo gear? We thought you might. Check out the tour shirts and et cetera at the trio's BigCartel dojo right here.

May 4, 2011

Review: Ringo Deathstarr | Colour Trip

Every review of Ringo Deathstarr's dynamite, long-awaited full-length debut Colour Trip could reasonably begin and end with a discussion of the positively terrific dream-pop gem "Kaleidoscope." The crumbling guitars in the verse, the simple cascading guitar lead in the snare-spangled, heart-rendingly beautiful chorus, the pacing and brevity all make the track among the best released by anyone this year. Fronter and guitarist Elliot Frazier's airy vocals here -- and on another standout track on the new collection, "Day Dreamy" -- recall some of the Austin, Texas-based trio's earliest demos, specifically the paralyzingly great "Your Town" and "Sweet Girl." But mostly it is the elements listed supra that make Ringo Deathstarr one of the most formidable indie rock acts of the new millennium.

Listeners will find that the English spelling of the first word of the album title is, of course, no accident. Colour Trip -- thronged with should-be hits, and well worth the long, long wait since the release of the band's debut EP in 2007 -- lovingly borrows from and recreates the sounds of the best late '80s and early '90s UK dreampop and shoegaze. We honestly believe we saw band fronter Elliot Frazier recently and amusingly quip somewhere (it's killing us that we can't find the exact quote again, and Mr. Frazier doesn't recall saying it) in response to a review that his band wasn't re-creating the sounds of 1992, it was pretending 1992 never happened. Or something to the extent. The point is well-taken. What if the ascendancy of RIDE and Slowdive and Chapterhouse and My Bloody Valentine (and to a lesser extent, similarly minded American acts Drop Nineteens and The Swirlies) had gone unchecked? What if American music had not smashed its head on the punk rock and drastically reshaped itself around the sounds of Seattle and Lollapalooza, but instead followed to The Stone Roses and RIDE to a completely different musical valhalla?

Ringo Deathstarr's new collection is thronged with songs that would have been hits in that but-for world. "So High," for example bounces with the energy of the greatest Primitives tunes. But while Ringo Deathstarr is known for hearing loss-inducing and chaotic live sets, the crystalline and balanced production on Colour Trip tempers somewhat the act's characteristic attack (which, of course, deliciously invites listening to Colour Trip at ear-bleeding levels -- recommended). There is still plenty of wonderful, wonderful guitar, however: the acid-rock lead at the tail end of "Chloe" leaps from the dense ocean of fuzz bass and guitar chords and recalls the best freak-outs of The Magic Hour.

We've been writing about the Deathstarr since February 2007, but only in March did Sonic Unyon finally issue the act's first full-length record. Most bands we follow don't even stay together for four years; the fact that it took Ringo Deathstarr that long to craft an LP is a testament to something, although we haven't figured out what yet. Awesomeness? The power of positive thinking? Drugs? The band wasn't just sitting around doing nothing all that time, of course. An earlier EP was issued and reissued in various countries, and a series of singles also filled the gap. According to a Facebook posting or Tweet, which we also can't find (what is our problem?), Ringo Deathstarr has been working on an "un-summery" summer EP. Completion of that new release will have to take a back seat to a whole lot of live dates, which the band has just recently begun announcing. Ringo Deathstarr play with local luminaries Young Adults at Great Scott, Boston on July 2.

Ringo Deathstarr: Internerds | Facebook | YouTube | SoundCloud

Ringo Deathstarr - Imagine Hearts by Club AC30

Previous Ringo Deathstarr Coverage:
YouTube Rodeo: Ringo Deathstarr's "Kaleidoscope"
YouTube Rodeo: Ringo Deathstarr's "So High"
YouTube Rodeo: Ringo Deathstarr's "Imagine Hearts"
Today's Hotness: Ringo Deathstarr
Ringo Deathstarr Will Storm Japan, U.K., Issue "You Don't Listen" Single
Ringo Deathstarr "In Love" b/w "Summertime" Due 9/14
Today's Hotness: Ringo Deathstarr
Today's Hotness: Ringo Deathstarr
Clicky Clicky Music Blog: The Best Records Of 2007