June 27, 2012

Pre-Orders Available Now For Johnny Foreigner's Johnny Foreigner vs. Everything Expanded, Double LP Reissue, Acquire With Extreme Prejudice

Johnny Foreigner's Johnny Foreigner vs. Everything Double LP reissue pre-orders are on offer now

At long last, the best record of 2011 is seeing release as double LP package including b-sides and a bonus "making of Johnny Foreigner" sticker book. The inimitable Alcopop! Records today began taking pre-orders for its very deluxe limited edition reissue right here. Above this text we've posted the complete external art for the gatefold LP version of Johnny Foreigner vs. Everything, which Alcopop! gave us an exclusive on this morning, so you've already seen it if you monitor our Twitter feed or follow our Facebook page, and if you don't, well, you're seeing it now. Last year we called the record "an immaculate, career-defining effort" and "beautifully conceived;" we reviewed it here last November and posted here a very in-depth interview regarding same with Johnny Foreigner's Alexei Berrow, Junior Elvis Washington Laidley and Kelly Southern.

To promote the reissue one of the contextual b-sides from the album cycle, "The Hand That Slaps You Back," is available to stream and download for free via the embed below. The song was the b-side to the lead (dual skateboard sticker) single from the album, "(Don't) Show Us Your Fangs," which was issued Sept. 12 of last year, according to our own trusty archives. There's so much more to write about the band's awesome goings-on (like, 'hey, new website!'), but we'll cut to the chase for American fans: yes, there is talk in an email from Alcopop! of "an extensive tour of the UK and USA in the Autumn" (emphasis mine). We've even heard whispers about a potential US tourmate, which if true will surprise you momentarily and then you'll be like "oh, that totally makes sense." So anyway, buy the double LP, it's awesome, and worth the expense of getting two or three copies on import, easy. The double LP version of Johnny Foreigner vs. Everything streets July 16 or July 16-ish.

June 25, 2012

Today's Hotness: Markus Mehr, Joey Fourr, Eagulls

Markus Mehr -- On

>> Although Clicky HQ typically focuses on matters guitar and pop -- whatever that means these days -- we also enjoy the kaleidoscopic world of electronic music, and we're endeavoring to re-engage with it editorially after some time away. We've warmly received the new full-length from Augsburg, Germany-based ambient electronic artist Markus Mehr. Out July 17th on Hidden Shoal Recordings, On is Mr. Mehr's third record working under his own name; it is filled with immaculately constructed instrumentals, appointed with imaginative instrumentation and illuminating samples, that are as soothing as they are transporting. While much non-"pop" electronic music is rooted firmly in repetition, Mehr impresses with his ability to proffer a different approach to his craft with each song here. Lead single "Flaming Youth" doesn't develop dramatically, with its buzzing stereo entrance and a locked-groove horn sample instead steadily exhaling and inhaling across seven minutes. The intro evokes the summertime sounds of a busy bug zapper, before settling into a lush and beautiful motif that recalls the Canadian-metropolitan beauty of certain Broken Social Scene instrumentals. The real gems of On are the one-two punch at the close of the record. The aptly titled "Monks On The Beach" presents an ethereal chant smothered with static and multiple tracks of childish conversation tied together with a subtle, distorted bass guitar pulse. The song builds to the massive finale "Tunnels," itself a gradually swelling behemoth. Chirping phasing sounds give way to a persistent three-chord piano figure that suddenly yields to a series of gargantuan distorted piano slams. With each strike Mehr subtly tweaks the fuzz with flanges and clipping until the tempo climaxes and the song implodes. Like a lot of the best artists within this genre attracting wider audiences (Fennesz, Eluvium and the great William Basinski to name a few), Mehr is able to infuse his art with cool effortlessness and power sufficient to hold a mirror to the listener's soul with a series of patient epiphanies. Buy On from Hidden Shoal right here and download "Flaming Youth" via the embed below. -- Edward Charlton

>> Given the great degree to which we've enjoyed the music the label puts out (seriously, have you heard this?), it is surprising we're only just now mentioning Art Is Hard's delightful biweekly 5" Pizza Club single series (each pizza-printed CD comes in a limited physical edition of ONE in a handmade pizza box). One recent track from the series has burrowed particularly deeply into the Clicky Clicky hive mind, the lightly psychedelic single "Cross Dresser" from Joey Fourr, a nom de rock of Joseph Prendergast, fronter of English alt-rockers Tubelord. The single is a galloping indie rocker with a trampled lead falsetto vocal and very cool production flourishes. Starting with a dance floor-ready electronic beat and distorted rhythm guitars, the tune showcases an insistent lead riff that repeatedly crops up throughout. And what a lead it is, effectively winning the award for the "What Instrument Is Making That Weird Sound?" category. Like some sort of hell-bent whistling, the genius of "Cross Dresser" is in how hard it is to place the source material. Is that a maniacal guitar? A broken synthesizer? The lone physical manifestation of "Cross Dresser" is of course sold out, but the song will appear in/on an upcoming Joey Fourr zine/EP titled How To Buy Happiness from Art Is Hard, so stay tuned. The Pizza Club series is worth following not just for the quality of the tunes offered, but also the sheer generosity of a label that is so willing to give away quality tunes twice a month. We're currently unable to make the embed of "Cross Dresser" work, so make certain to do yourself a favor and get the track for free right here. -- Edward Charlton

>> Leeds-based rockers Eagulls recently announced a self-titled 12" vinyl EP for release July 16th on the Sexbeat Records imprint whose lead track "Coffin" is a unabashed, collar-grabbing, big-guitar anthem. Like the critically acclaimed newcomers Iceage, Eagulls top precise drumming and hotly-recorded, progressive guitars with classic punk yelping, all on display here with "Coffin," an embed of which is below. The opening guitar riff sets things up with an inviting and detailed flange that falsely advertises as a Catherine Wheel song before the rhythm section snaps listeners to attention. The self-described "progressive punks" would seem to be part of a rising European scene of tough yet intellectual rockers that borrow as much from America's post-hardcore heritage as their own dreamier and excogitated indie pedigree. And perhaps the song is a narrative for this generation of European indie bands: with a crumbling EU economy, mass unemployment and other tensions continually pervading every facet of life, what's a young person to do but sit in their room and come to terms with the fact that it's a different world than was promised, much as Leeds' post-punk godfathers Gang Of Four did three decades ago. The Eagulls EP comes on green vinyl and features a poster drawn by the band themselves. Order direct from the label here. -- Edward Charlton

June 21, 2012

Review: Arc In Round | Arc In Round

Philadelphia-based Arc In Round's forthcoming full-length collection ensconces the progressive dream pop heroes within the pantheon of top-tier, contemporary shoegaze acts while further illuminating aspects of its craft. The self-titled effort, available June 26th via La Société Expéditionnaire, combines some of the best tracks from the prior EPs II and Diagonal Fields with new material to form a cohesive set featuring fronter and guitarist Jeff Zeigler, co-vocalist/instrumentalist Mikele Edwards, bassist Josh Meakim and drummer Matt Ricchini's singular brand of shoegaze. Arc In Round was a long time coming, but it was definitely worth the wait.

The new set opens with the snare-heavy blast of "II," which showcases a prominent dimension of the Arc In Round aesthetic: effected, quickly strummed guitars play against shifting time signatures, while Zeigler and Edwards' low harmonies recall the perfectly-stirred and effeminate vocal union of My Bloody Valentine. Album highlight "Spirit," one of the best cuts from Diagonal Fields, projects a strong bass-heavy groove to buoy an upper-atmosphere dance with the muse of the Dirty Projectors. Impressively, the emotional timbre of Edwards' lead vocal here so closely mirrors Zeigler's more spectral voice that at times hers seems like a pitch-shifted copy of his, layering in a slightly dystopian undercurrent to the proceedings. Another album highlight, "For Concern," unravels into an awe-inspiring math-rock interpretation of early 90's shoegaze, colored with electic piano and guitar effects that recall the alien worlds of songs like the aforementioned My Bloody Valentine's "Blown A Wish."

Arc In Round is informed by the same key influences that have underpinned the band's work since its earlier incarnation in the last decade as Relay, perhaps the most notable of these being -- if you can call it an influence -- Mr. Zeigler's freedom to hole up in his own Uniform Recording studio and precisely sculpt sound with amazing attention to detail. You hear it everywhere, from the swell of the bridge in the second minute of "Spirit," to the Teutonic cool of the distorted tones blaring the melody of "Volume Sets All The Time," to the diaphanous and ethereal untitled third track. Close listening reveals that Zeigler's carefully constructed web of synthetic strings, whooshes, and electronic bubbling plays as strong a role in the music as the more traditional elements (it is worth reiterating here that Zeigler is an in-demand studio engineer and live sound guy perhaps best known for his work with The War On Drugs and Kurt Vile).

Arc In Round is an undeniable and flawless mission statement from a band in complete control of its own sonic world. Buy the new collection from La Société Expéditionnaire right here. The record is being celebrated with a release show at Johnny Brenda's in Philadelphia Saturday night that features a killer bill including Tadoma and Beige. -- Edward Charlton

Arc In Round: Interwebs | Facebook | Bandcamp | YouTube

June 20, 2012

YouTube Rodeo: Boz Boorer's Brilliant "'Slippery Forces"

The undeniably big news this week that pop genius Morrissey will tour the United States this fall (kicking off with a Boston date October 5 at the Wang) has overshadowed the fact that the famous Mancunian's musical director and guitarist Boz Boorer recently issued a cracking single of his own titled "Slippery Forces." The tune is taken from the forthcoming, 12-song solo set Some Of The Parts, which is due out Aug. 31 on Austrian label Fabrique Records. "Slippery Forces" was recorded in Mr. Boorer's own Portugese studio, and it is a graceful, mid-tempo strummer with terrifically precise lyrics that owes a greater debt to The Beatles than Boorer's own notable rockabilly roots. Boorer is a former member of The Polecats (and one-time "The Price Is Right" audience member) and has been with the Morrissey since 1991's Kill Uncle tour. He has three prior solo sets to his credit: 2001's Between The Polecats, 2003's My Wild Life and 2008's Miss Pearl, according to Wikipedia. The clever video for "Slippery Forces" embedded above features Boorer playing every role. Just like the song itself, the video hearkens back to a classic era -- which, in terms of video, is the first five years of MTV. We think you'll agree the aesthetics of both the song and the video are worth emulating. The "Slippery Forces" single is available now and is packaged with a raft of remixes from Christopher Chaplin, Cid Rim, Lovecat and Konsorten TM.

Boz Boorer: Internets | Facebook | YouTube | Twitter

June 18, 2012

Today's Hotness: Screaming Maldini, Bottomless Pit

Screaming Maldini -- Life In Glorious Stereo b/w Minor Alterations out June 18, 2012

>> Well it certainly is glorious, and it is out today: Sheffield, England-based pop savants Screaming Maldini have loosed the lead single from its pending eponymous full-length debut. The single, "Life In Glorious Stereo" b/w "Minor Alterations," is available from the act's French label HipHipHip right here. We've previously heralded the top side of the release, but only more recently have we been able to tuck into the B side. "Minor Alterations" is a mid-tempo but bombastic power ballad, slightly more laid back than some Maldini platters but still all Maldini. The cut features the first lead vocal we've heard from Gina Walters and closes beautifully in a cascade of piano chords and trumpet. And what's more, it's not the only new material currently on offer from the band: Screaming Maldini has been making waves in recent days on the strength of an anthem it released for free to cheer on the English side in the ongoing UEFA Euro Champions football (you know, soccer) tournament. The song, titled "Tyranosaurus Kicks," was celebrated with this zany video, and the track will remain available for free as long as England can keep itself alive in the tourney. England's next match is tomorrow afternoon (U.S. east coast time) against Ukraine, so download this thing and start learning the words. Screaming Maldini will be released in the UK on Alcopop! Records this fall and elsewhere in the world via HipHipHip. Screaming Maldini's terrific ...And The Kookaburra EP was one of our favorite records of 2010, and it was only this past April the band helped us resuscitate our long-standing Show Us Yours feature right here. It's exciting times for the band and we can't wait to hear the long-player.

>> Revered indie rock institution Bottomless Pit disclosed last week to its email list that not only was new material "under development," but also that its catalogue was being bundled into a limited-edition, gatefold double-disc collection for release in Japan titled Lottery 2005-2012. The band, of course, notably features former members of legendary Chicago indie rockers Silkworm. Its prior releases, the Hammer Of The Gods and Blood Under The Bridge full-lengths and the Congress EP, are joined in the new collection by three previously unreleased songs "State I'm In," "The Colchis Eagles," and "Winterwind (Fast)." A limited number of copies of Lottery 2005-2012 are available to domestic fans directly from the quartet and from top-notch indie Comedy Minus One here. It was announced today those three new tracks will be made available digitally July 17 by Comedy Minus One, in the event you don't want to re-buy a boat-load of music you already own. But for Silkworm fans who have (bizarrely) not yet connected with Bottomless Pit, the new collection is a quick way to get up to speed. We reviewed a stirring Bottomless Pit show in Cambridge, MA here back in July 2008, and very much look forward to our opportunity to see them again.

June 14, 2012

Review: Infinity Girl | Stop Being On My Side

Upstart Boston quartet Infinity Girl last month quietly released a dominating debut, a seamless collection of 11 shoegaze songs that evidences a remarkable facility for recreating the cacaphony, exhalation and swirl that are hallmarks of the genre. The great paradox of apparent success for shoegaze adherents is that successfully emulating the sounds of its most prominent forebearers doesn't afford contemporary bands the opportunity to establish a singular personality upon which to trade. But on its long-player Stop Being On My Side, Infinity Girl with some regularity fearlessly steers into the genre's margins, where listeners can hear the band starting to plot where the past ends and Infinity Girl begins.

That the Boston act has produced something this good only six months after playing its first show is astonishing. Stop Being On My Side is stacked with anthemic, guitar-drenched and melodic noise-pop the likes of which we haven't heard since the last Fleeting Joys record. The Bostonians' "Please Forget" is textbook shoegaze in the very best sense, spiraling, dense and emotionally engaged. The beautifully blurred verses of "By Now" set off triumphant, swooning choruses punctuated by octaved guitars approximating clarion blare. The most immediate numbers impressively channel the classic sound of recently reactivated titans My Bloody Valentine (the shape-shifting "Pulling A Smile From A Drawer;" the sculpted, fiery album opener "Poppyblush"), but there is substantial charm to be found in the songs that echo the sounds of less obvious progenitors such as Yo La Tengo ("Even If"), Velocity Girl ("Cellophane And Gold") and even Pavement (compare the meandering denouement of "Cannons" to the bridge of the fabled slackers' "Starlings In The Slipstream")

Infinity Girl's remarkable acuity for echoing My Bloody Valentine is all the more notable because it goes beyond a recreation of the elder band's sonics. Perhaps more than any peer in recent memory, Infinity Girl succeeds at emulating the Dublin-spawned act's sensual/sexual appeal where most contemporaries often present cold and detached. It's in the pulsing breaths of the bending chords of "By Now," and the insistent, quietly violent arc of feedback throughout "Even If," which spreads like a line of skin appearing from beneath an unstoppable tear in a black stocking. And, if we are hearing the (naughty) lyrics correctly, it is explicit in Infinity Girl's "Void."

But as stated supra, it is when Infinity Girl incorporates elements of ancillary styles such as power-pop ("Cellophane And Gold") and even emo (the startling shouts that punctuate "Cannons" also puncture the mesmerizing record's fourth wall somewhat) that the proceedings begin to take on a unique flavor, and the resulting hybrid that populates Stop Being On My Side brims with melodic and textural possibilities. Infinity Girl self-released the set via Bandcamp May 8; check out streams of "Even If" and "By Now" below. The foursome's next local live dates are at Precinct in Somerville Aug. 4 and TT The Bear's in Cambridge Aug. 30. If they can do it again like they did it last time, those shows will definitely smoke.

Infinity Girl: Internerds | Facebook | Bandcamp | YouTube

June 12, 2012

Today's Hotness: Superchunk, FOTL, D n' C, dB's

Good week for the new stuff this week. All out today in your favorite music boutique or online merchant:

 Hey, guess what? That magnificent comeback album from Superchunk that we all loved so much? It's already two years old! Hopefully we won't have to wait another Wrens album-gap until their next one, but in the meanwho, Superchunk kicks off your summer square on the nose with the new single "This Summer" (Merge), a sort of rock version of "Nightswimming" with heavy guitars and a heavier heart. It's paired with a distorted, more menacing take on Bananarama's "Cruel Summer" that mightn't blow your mind, but is great fun, nonetheless. The bonus track on the digital download that comes with the 7" is an acoustic take of the A-side that, in this more simplistic setting emphasizes the wistfulness even further.
 Superchunk: Intertubes | Twitter

Its been three years, meanwhile, since a Future of the Left full length - not that they haven't been busy what with worldwide touring, lineup changes, and an EP (last year's Polymers Are Forever) that hinted at some changes. Frontman Andy Falkous' throat-shredding roar seemed slightly more reserved. A physical limitation? Evolution? Maturity? The answers come today with The Plot Against Common Sense (Xtra Mile), but they've really been there the whole way. FOTL has, on the surface, been walking a fine line - if you're not paying attention, you're going to miss the point - or the joke (or both) - and maybe dismiss some of their stuff as testosterone-fueled rants of little consequence.

But they've always stretched beyond all that. Primitive, sometimes punishing synths, layered vocals, alternate tunings, and an occasional yearning for the epic have kept nudging them forward. And they've always had hooks too, but here there's a continued evolution in melody and harmony - hell, "Goals in Slow Motion" is downright poppy. And oh, how satisfying that obliterated bass line is. The new album will still keep us all going with the halting, crushing rhythms and cutting,  commentary that we're all still counting on, but with a new feel to the grooves with new bass player Julia Ruzicka. So give it your full attention. The Plot... demands it - and deserves it. Better yet, see them live and all will become clear.

Future of the Left: Intertubes | Facebook | Twitter
Check out their new video at Rolling Stone.
Previously: And Then This Happened: Future of the Left, The Beatings

 Drivin n Cryin launches year-long series of EPs today with Songs From The Laundromat. They say each release will emphasize a different part of their sound (the more self-explanatory Songs About Cars, Space and The Ramones is next, followed by Songs From The Garage and a yet-to-be-titled 4th EP), but to these ears, Songs... covers the length and breadth of their career nicely. "Dirty" is a greasy piece of nasty business and it, along with "Ain't Waitin' On Tomorrow," sound like they came from a better, less self-conscious version of 1993's Smoke, "REM" is a great call-out, in-joke tribute to that band (R.I.P.) that will put a smile on the face of anyone who got into Drivin' n' Cryin' via R.E.M. back when when the former's Mystery Road tour crossed paths with the Green tour. and "Clean Up" is sort of a platonic ideal of Southern Rock (mine, at least). A strummy gem that wouldn't sound out of place on a college radio station in Athens or Chapel Hill in the late 80's or early 90's (by maybe, say, The dB's? It might be frontman Kevn Kinney's finest song in years. Drivin' n' Cryin's 21st century renaissance rolls on.

drivin' n' cryin': Intertubes | Facebook | Twitter
Previously: Rock Over Boston | drivin n cryin | TT the Bear's | 11.15.2009

The dB's name may have continued a bit longer, and front-duo Peter Holsapple and Chris Stamey may have collaborated in the intervening years, but what we have here is the band's first proper full length studio album since 1984.  Falling Off The Sky (Bar None) is nothing short of a relief - a strummy, hooky jangle of pop that once ruled "college rock." It's a long overdue fresh fix.

The dB's: Intertubes | Twitter

- Michael Piantigini