February 28, 2013

YouTube Rodeo: Veronica Falls' Crushingly Perfect "Teenage"

Some songs are so good they can, if only for a few moments, give you your youth back. Or, for you youngsters, they are so good that they become your youth. You won't even know it for years, but one day you'll put on Veronica Falls' brilliant sophomore set Waiting For Something To Happen and the second track will roll into the speakers and boom, it's just like Chuck Bartowski flashing The Intersect. And so the purpose of this weblog post is four-fold. First, to tell you what we just told you. Second, to celebrate the fact that we finally dragged ourselves into a brick-and-mortar store earlier today to pick up Waiting For Something To Happen, because those goddamned Pantsfork Advance album streams don't last forever and we love indie pop. Third, to tell you that we just spent the last half-hour watching live clips of "Teenage" on YouTube (the clip above is tops, despite it's middling image quality, but this one and this one are also quite good). And finally, Bostonians should know that Veronica Falls' U.S. tour begins in D.C. on March 6 and arrives in Boston a week from Saturday for a hotly anticipated show at Great Scott. We speculate that venue likely will not be able to hold the band the next time it comes through town as we expect that their collective star will only continue to rise on the strength of the new record, which is so much preciously beautiful and jangly lightning in a bottle. Tickets for the show March 9 are still available, but we would not be surprised if that stopped being the case this time next week, so plan wisely. Waiting For Something To Happen was released by Slumberland Records Feb. 12 and you can buy it directly from the label right here; the London quartet's self-titled full-length debut was issued in 2011.

February 27, 2013

Today's Hotness: Chandeliers, Universal Disappointment Sponge, Best Practices

Chandeliers -- Monday EP

>> Boston's dark and stormy noise pop concern Chandeliers -- who also will not be playing the newly announced Boston Calling festival Memorial Day Weekend -- returned a couple weeks ago with new music under the deceptively mundane title Monday EP. The actually quite electrifying five-song set picks up where the trio left off with last year's brilliant Big-Shot Weekend cassette. Meaning the band's frenetic intensity, characteristically murky vocals and fiery guitar work remain intact and propel these five new compositions to such great heights. Opener "Swim Gym" sets a brisk pace (indeed, none of the songs here runs more than 152 seconds), thrashing through a waltz-timed bridge underpinned by crushing drumming. "Temperance" lightens the mood substantially, showcasing the band at perhaps its most straightforward and melodic. EP closer "Not Smart (Just Well Educated)" commences with bright, lean lead guitar, but plunges quickly into a pool of reverb and jangle interrupted only by the recurrence of the bright opening theme. It's worth emphasizing how fiercely independent Chandeliers are, as this is yet another dynamite collection that the band self-recorded, self-mixed and self-mastered. Monday is available to stream now at Bandcamp, and the band aims to have it released on 7" vinyl, which we hope means there is a label out there smart enough to recognize these guys are the realest of real deals. Stream Monday via the embed below.

>> Fans of Fashoda Crisis earlier this month were gifted a cracking collection of songs from band fronter Sim Ralph's slightly less vitriolic but entirely more mad side project Universal Disappointment Sponge. The new Essex, England-based concern wasn't exactly a secret, as there had been scattered mentions among the more recent social media missives from Fashoda Crisis, but we certainly didn't expect the five-song set Time To Surrender Puny Earthlings to drop into our digital laps last week. The short collection was recorded in January and is presently available as a pay-what-you-like download that comes packaged with guitar tabs and lyrics, a nice embellishment that we'd certainly like to see more of from bands. Along with Mr. Ralph, who's commanding vocals are plainly evident here, the new quartet includes vocalist Chrissy, bassist Dave and drummer J. The first number on the EP, "The Lost Art Of Steeplejacking," begins with some sort of ranting about tapes, an a capella chant backed by screaming, which ushers in a start-and-stop stone groove and layered guy-girl vocals that approximate some form of dementia. Things get weirder and more rocking from there. The subdued verses of "Lemon The Pole" are feints that set off heavy, wiry choruses, which of course leads to a breaking of the fourth wall, and some dialogue ("look, the pole's not going to lemon itself"), before the song leaps back into a grinding, heads-down boogie. Universal Disappointment Sponge have lined up a handful of gigs beginning in late March, and should you be lucky enough to be based in the UK we exhort you to get out and see what they've got up their musical sleeves. In the meantime, treat yourself to the stream of Time To Surrender Puny Earthlings that we've embedded below for just such a purpose. Fashoda Crisis' most recent output is the Jowls Of Justice EP, which was released digitally to the Bandcamps of the world in mid-January; check it out here.

>> A third tremendous new release from mid-February was given unto us by Best Practices, the Providence-based melodic hardcore titans responsible for last year's exhilarating and almost-hilariously brief The EP LP (which we wrote about here a year ago). The quartet released Feb. 19 a soaring new EP titled Sore Subjects; somewhat ridiculously, the new EP is actually about a minute shorter than last year's single-sided, 12-minute opus (which makes us think we haven't heard a band get so much done in so little time since the first couple of Calories releases). The music on Best Practices' new collection, which is available as a pay-what-you-like download at Bandcamp now, fizzes with the same volatile energy and imagination that drives the music of legends like Drive Like Jehu and Fucked Up. But it also echoes '90s indie rockers such as Garden Variety... there's that indie rock peanut butter sneaking into their hardcore punk chocolate (mental note: hardcore punk chocolate would be an awesome album title). Sore Subjects' second tune, "Home For Halloween," pitches the curve via the soft acoustic guitar opening, but the song is quickly overtaken by desperate and almost unhinged vocals and Superchunk-at-doubletime guitars. The EP comes to a thrilling climax in the final minute of closer "Brita'd," when a weirdly scrambled lead guitar line convulses across the top of the mix. The EP was largely recorded at Amherst's Dead Air Studios last June with engineer Will Killingsworth, who we find ourselves talking about more and more here at Clicky Clicky. Vocals were recorded in October and earlier this month at Providence DIY space Squid Amps. The EP LP is still available on 12" vinyl from Tiny Engines right here, although as of this writing there are apparently only 16 copies left, so neither dilly nor dally lest you miss out on this gem. Will someone step up and release Sore Subjects on vinyl? We certainly hope so. Stream the EP below.

February 24, 2013

Today's Hotness: Hallelujah The Hills, Au.Ra, Foxes In Fiction + Benoit Pioulard

Hallelujah The Hills -- The Three Minute Mark

>> We had hoped to have had these remarks about Hallelujah The Hills' tremendous new single prepared in time for our coverage of last weeks' The Unfolding Synchronistic Improbable event, but doing it this way will have to do. The Boston-area indie rock institution led by Ryan Walsh on Valentine's Day released "The Three Minute Mark" b/w "Meet Me In The Car," with the A-side streaming at the act's Bandcamp dojo, where we've listened to it repeatedly for days and days and days. The single is available on limited edition, hand-made CD for five American dollars, and we'd say the A-side alone is worth your Abraham Lincoln. "The Three Minute Mark" -- which actually eclipses that total by about a half-minute -- deftly builds from a tense and quiet initial verse that rises from a cyclical bass line and a single acoustic guitar chord into a shuffling chorus. That shuffle is emphasized by a nifty, tight echo on the snare; by the time that becomes apparent Mr. Walsh is erecting a house of cards from the repeated line "I'll need about three minutes to explain just how I feel for you now" and layered horns, and indeed by the three-minute mark the song is cooking. To paraphrase the famous cigarette jingle, there's a lot to like; stream the tune via the Bandcamp embed below and click through to get your paws on the limited edition, physical article. According to the band, neither "The Three Minute Mark" nor "Meet Me In The Car" will feature on the next Hallelujah The Hills full-length. Hallelujah The Hills' most recent long-player was its third, titled No One Knows What Will Happen Next. It was released last May and featured excellent tunes including "Call Off Your Horses," the awesome video for which you can watch right here. The band, now in its eighth year of rockulescence, tonight wraps a short strand of live dates with a performance at The Rock Shop in Brooklyn, although we can assure you that if you are just learning this now there's little chance you'll make it to the show in time. So there's that. Stream "The Three Minute Mark" below.

>> Remember our post last summer about Exeter, England-based Art Is Hard Records and their "Pizza Club" singles series? Well, that series wrapped up last year, but the clever label is back with another series for 2013. No, it's not more pizza boxes (alas). Instead, for one pound, lucky adherents receive an individualized, band-created postcard conveying a new digital single from the series every three weeks. The first installment, released ON DATE WHAT?, featured the bobbing dream-rock stunner "Morning" by Au.Ra. The Sydney, Australia-based band -- a two piece comprised of Tom Crandles and Tim Jenkins -- score with a slow-burning indie rocker built on a steadily enlarging pile of smooth and silky guitar loops. Previous singles from Au.Ra focused more on melodic electronic elements that echoed work by contemporaries Sun Glitters, or even Starslinger in terms of the instrumentation. But "Morning" evidences a more analog approach to Au.Ra's evolving soundscapes. After some delayed glide guitar in the opening, the band introduces a solid eighth-note bass line that recalls Kim Deal's influence. With this sensual rhythmic drive, the guitarist tastefully goes pedal-crazy on top with blasts of distortion, echoes that plop and fizz, clean strums, and circular melody lines that pile up into an extremely over-driven music box by the tune's close. The song shifts subtly throughout, the singer's vowel-heavy vocals sighing through verse and chorus. What makes the song so pleasing is its own forward groove and how everything within it shuffles. A cursory glance at the Art Is Hard roster should be enough to induce anyone to partake in the "Postcard Singles" club; a second single, from Manchester, England's Sorry, No, has already been revealed, but we’d venture it is still not too late to get in on the action. In a time of declining emphasis on the value of physical media within music, Art Is Hard (along with like-minded peers including, specifically, Alcopop!) deserves all the attention it can get, not just for its solutions to the conundrum facing the recorded music industry, but also for approaching the problem with impeccable taste. Order a "Morning" postcard here and stream the song via the Soundcloud embed below. -- Edward Charlton

>> Thanks to the work of stalwart wide-angle outlets like The Wire, local Boston outlet Anti-Gravity Bunny and even Tiny Mix Tapes, artists branded with unpopular identifiers such as "ambient," "experimental," and "drone" receive a not insignificant amount of attention in this here Internet age -- perhaps not on par with that of today or tomorrow’s Pitchfork darling, but certainly greater than non-pop-oriented-or-derived artists received in the era of paper-only publishing. Or so it seems. The jury is out as to whether the greater exposure has translated into more artists working in these areas of specialization, but a swelling tide of tonal recordings rises to the ears of interested, aware listeners these days. One recent effort from Warren Hildebrand, a/k/a Foxes In Fiction, and Thomas Meluch, known better by his nom de music Benoit Pioulard (who will soon release his latest album Hymnal on Kranky), has captured our attention. "Ground Glass" is the A-side of a forthcoming single the pair will release next week via Wool Recordings, and it suggests a drifting, scraping shell of half-remembered dream-pop in the best way. Opening with a distant synth patch and a scratchy sample of a woman's confusion, the song abruptly blasts into a swirling, directionless fuzz. Anchored by a reverberated strum and a gorgeous, deep-voiced vocal, "Ground Glass" modulates infrequently, but even so beckons listeners to get lost in the rich tones and a carefully concocted floating effect. The bold, churning motion of the distortion as it decays and collapses is another remarkable element that makes the piece so enjoyable. In sum, the number suggests to this writer what might result were Austinites She, Sir to take a stab at the drum-less, gothic work of the groundbreaking lovesliescrushing. "Ground Glass" b/w "Etalon" will be released Feb. 28; you can stream the A-side below and pre-order the vinyl here. Speaking of both Benoit Pioulard and Anti-Gravity Bunny, the latter recently celebrated its five year anniversary with a free digital comp featuring a cracking collection of droney stuff including an apparently exclusive jam from Benoit Pioulard; grab that comp right here. -- Edward Charlton

February 22, 2013

Rock Over Boston: The Unfolding Synchronistic Improbable

[The Unfolding Synchronistic Improbable with Ho-Ag (CD release), Hallelujah The Hills (Single release), and Dear Leader at Oberon, Cambridge, MA. 2/21/2013. Photos By Michael Piantigini.]

Ho-Ag: Intertubes | Bandcamp
Hallelujah The Hills: Intertubes | Facebook | Twitter | Bandcamp
Dear Leader: Intertubes | Facebook | Twitter

February 20, 2013

Young Adults, Suicide Dolls, Earthquake Party, Soccer Mom | TT The Bear's Place, Cambridge | 21 Feb.

Young Adults, The Suicide Dolls, Earthquake Party and Soccer Mom, TT The Bear's Place, Feb. 21, 2013

Stand up and be counted, for what you are about to receive. Gadzooks. It's gigs like this that make us wish we had our own gig rating system. But what would be the top rating? Would it be something empirically awesome like AC/DC's cannon blasts, which would sit atop a range of discrete things each less empirically awesome than the last? Or would it be an award of a number of the same empirically awesome thing, like one Van Halen flaming gong is worst but 10 Van Halen flaming gongs is the best? Clearly, we have a lot of thinking to do. But whatever that hottest rating would be, tomorrow night's show at TT The Bear's Place would absolutely warrant it. Don't let that innocent little flyer above with the candy hearts fool you: these bands are going to blow your face clean off your head, in the nicest way possible. First up are Clicky Clicky faves Soccer Mom, whose dense guitar assault and desperately delivered tunes make the quartet one of the most compelling bands in Boston. Earthquake Party and its convulsive, over-fizzed indie pop follow, and are in turn followed by Connecticut stoner-punk heroes The Suicide Dolls. Top-lining the bill and closing out the night are the Allston-spawned, reverb-eating indie punk titans Young Adults, who will be celebrating (and vending to willing purchasers) their stellar Born In '91 EP (which we wrote about here last week). In sum, this is an evening of rockutainment from which you may never recover. Ear plugs will likely not be enough; you may want to consider ear plugs as well as some sparring headgear to protect your dome whilst you headbang your life away. This will happen. You can thank us later. Now how about some songs?

February 18, 2013

Today's Hotness: Bedroom Eyes, Fat History Month, Yawns

Bedroom Eyes

>> At long last we have new music from Boston shoegaze dynamos Bedroom Eyes, an act that was sidelined for months when its second guitarist suffered a broken hand last fall. That guitarist has now left the band and after briefly considering augmenting the remaining three-piece with a keyboard player, Bedroom Eyes has elected to continue on as a trio. Earlier this month the act updated its Bandcamp offerings with a new demo of a song called "Ripe," its first recorded effort in the new trio configuration. The tune commences with a clean, articulated guitar melody and bright bass, suggesting, albeit momentarily, that Bedroom Eyes may have changed its approach to the art of rocking. But that moment is fleeting, as the bending, buzzsaw guitars and floating vocals that characterize the band's powerful prior work quickly move front and center. It's a welcome return from one of the brightest stars in the constellation of Boston shoegaze. Download or stream "Ripe" via the Bandcamp embed below. The band has an EP's worth of new material under its belt and hopes to get that music recorded in a proper studio or to at least self-record and issue some tunes via a cassette. Bedroom Eyes released its stellar full-length debut What Are You Wrong With last summer, and we reviewed it right here.

>> Revered Boston indie rock duo Fat History Month delivered a twofer at the beginning of the month with the announcement of its sophomore set Bad History Month and an expanded cassette reissue of the duo's first single, "Safe And Sound." The new long-player is a co-release of Exploding In Sound and Sophomore Lounge, two of America's finer labels, and will be issued to the masses April 1. The Bad History Month LP ("the last one was our comedy album. This one's a tragedy," the act quips at Bandcamp) is heralded by its alternately swirling and angular title track, a characteristically entrancing three-minutes-and-change of deconstructed cow-punk which you can stream via the embed below. The 12-song LP is being pressed in a limited edition of 500 discs and comes packaged with a letter-sized, 26-page illustrated lyric sheet/coloring book, with art by Adric Giles. Pre-orders are being taken now with the inducement that those taking advantage will receive a single MP3 download (presumably of the title track, but who knows?) to tide them over. Hidden Temple Tapes is doing the honors for the reissue of "Safe And Sound," and the new cassette version contains two additional songs from the sessions that produced the original sides, as well as five more songs -- the "Mummy Demos" -- from the pair's first recording session in 2007. Get all the deets about the "Safe And Sound" cassette right here. Fat History Month embarks on a massive, five-week U.S. tour with labelmates Pile March 22; full dates are at its Bandcamp page right here (scroll down, money). Fat History Month's titanic debut full-length Fucking Despair was issued by Sophomore Lounge in September 2011.

>> We do sincerely hope that you were watching the Clicky Clicky Facebook page earlier this week when we gave big ups to the new song/debut video from Glaswegian indie sensations The Yawns. The quintet, which we turned on to after scenemates The Cherry Wave referred to them recently, on Valentine's Day offered up the new tune "Full Of Admiration" via a fairly demented video clip that you can watch right here. "Full Of Admiration" opens with a pretty bass melody but is quickly overtaken by jangly guitars and spectral vocals -- including some beautiful falsetto melodies -- set adrift in a thick cloud of reverb. The delicate but damaged pop song -- which will feature on The Yawns' next long-player -- reminds us of the apparently-still-a-band-all-these-years-later Norman, Okla.-based psych pop savants Evangelicals, who slipped off our radar a few years ago. The clip for "Full Of Admiration" features band members lounging in a tub of God-we-hope-that-is-beer, snorting glitter, and eating fried egg out of a handmade Valentine that was too big for the mail slot. In short: it's fucking brilliant. We know little about The Yawns beyond the fact that it features former members of Copy Haho -- once part of the short-lived but very promising Awesome Pals collective, right? -- and GoldFlakePaint picked the band's self-titled 2012 full-length debut as one of the best of last year, but we are very eager to hear and see what the fivesome does next. You can stream "Full Of Admiration" via the Bandcamp embed below.

February 16, 2013

Today's Hotness: Big Deal, Youth Pictures Of Florence Henderson, The Nimbleines

Big Deal by Malia James

>> [Photo Credit: Malia James] Internationally sourced and London-based indie rock duo Big Deal disclosed earlier this week that it will release a sophomore set, June Gloom, June 4th. Which, you know, thank God it's actually being released in June, because, duh, am I right? If the spelling-challenged preview track "Teradactol" that first appeared online in November is any indication, the new collection promises a new, noisier and louder sound for the heretofore relatively reserved pair of Kacey Underwood and Alice Costello. June Gloom was produced by Rory Attwell, whose credentials include production work for Yuck as well as the recently released triumph from London's Veronica Falls. Underwood and Costelloe are abetted in the creation of the record by drummer Melissa Rigby (according to SPIN) and an unidentified bass player, yet another indicator that the softly forlorn Big Deal that first revealed itself with the skeletal and haunting single "Homework," released by Records Records Records in 2010, is a thing of the past. Or at least not quite so softly forlorn. June Gloom will be released by Mute and touts 12 tracks in total, and you can stream and download "Teradactol" via the Soundcloud embed below. A video for the first single from June Gloom has been filmed and, according to Big Deal's Facebook page, it will be unveiled soon. The duo's enchanting first full-length Lights Out was released via Mute in the US in January 2012, and we kicked its tires for readers right here.

>> Oslo-based emo heroes Youth Pictures Of Florence Henderson this week relayed news that its 2005 debut Unnoticeable In A Tiny Town, Invisible In The City has been remastered and will be reissued in March on 180g vinyl by Doognad Records, also based in Norway. The set is available in a limited edition of 250 black LPs, and fans can get one via Doognad's Big Cartel dojo right here for the princely sum of 20 Euros, which according to the Googles Saturday afternoon equals USD $26.76. We're not saying Unnoticeable In A Tiny Town... on 180g vinyl isn't worth that kind of coin, we're just reporting here, folks. According to a Facebook post, the record was remastered by Will Killingsworth at Amherst, Mass.'s own Dead Air Studios. Older and hipper Clicky Clicky readers may recognize Mr. Killingsworth's name from his years playing guitar with screamo giants Orchid (readers may also recall Bedroom Eyes and Best Practices have both made exemplary records at Dead Air). Youth Pictures Of Florence Henderson's most recent release, the 10" EP Small Changes We Hardly Notice, was released last summer and included the stunning opener "All I Remember Is Punk Rock." The set was one of our favorite releases of the year (although, as we got it on vinyl, its aggregate ITunes playcount didn't rate the EP for inclusion in our 2012 year-end list). Small Changes We Hardly Notice was issued domestically by emo powerhouse Count Your Lucky Stars Records -- keep your fingers crossed that the label might get some stock of the reissue of Unnoticable, so you don't have to eat some pesky international shipping. Since it is one of the greatest things since sliced bread, stream the tune "All I Can Remember Is Punk Rock" via the Soundcloud embed below. If you'd like to listen to the old master of Unnoticeable In A Tiny Town, Invisible In The City, it is available for streaming right here at Bandcamp.

>> There is a slippery but quantifiable charm to the debut digital single from the new oddball electropop duo The Nimbleines, who recently revealed themselves via the 12" extended mix of the tune "Let's Play Leaving." The song traverses some varied terrain while hewing closely to some familiar touchstones, laying in gentle vocals, synths and electric rhythm tracks that at different times echo vintage DEVO or Yo La Tengo's "Year Of The Shark." Even with the synth and programmed beats there is a lo-fi aura to the tune that gives it an earthy appeal; The Nimbleines certainly are not taking a sterile approach to the production values, something that we appreciate. The band is comprised of Boston musician and music journo Jonathan Donaldson, who some may know from his work from the delightfully quirky guitar act The I Want You, and Columbus, OH-based James Goodman, a fellow heretofore unknown to Clicky Clicky. The Nimbleines characterize themselves and an electropop/psych act, and its Facebook page indicates a full-length is planned. We don't feel the psych stewing on "Let's Play Leaving," just light, hooky, '80s-referencing synth-pop, so we'll be curious to hear more from the pair. In the meantime, the delicate hooks that cycle through the verse and chorus of "Let's Play Leaving" will give your ears plenty to contend with. Stream and download the tune via the Soundcloud embed below.

February 12, 2013

Today's Hotness: Young Adults, Bozmo, Silkworm

Young Adults -- Born In '91 EP

>> Boston-spawned indie-punk titans Young Adults at long last today made an enhanced version of its electrifying Born In '91 cassingle available as a five-song digital download and (limited edition) CD. The original version of Born In '91 was issued last summer as a cassette sold at the trio's live shows, but the 2013 version is not just easier for the non-tape-obsessed to use. It also touts some newly recorded guitar tracks on the title track and the opener "Context," as well as a "more chaotic-sounding mix courtesy of Justin Pizzoferrato," Young Adults guitarist Chris Villon told Clicky Clicky earlier this week. "The cassette versions are like 'lite' versions of these!" The new-and-improved Born In '91 EP was to have been made available via Bandcamp Feb. 14, but the set was already online as of this morning and you can stream the entire thing via the embed below. The balance of the EP program consists of additional tunes "Spectre," "College Rock" and "Stasis;" fans will recall the cassingle contained only "Born In '91," "Context" and Young Adults' blistering cover of Ride's "Decay," which originally appeared on Clicky Clicky's Nofuckingwhere compilation released in May 2012 [download the comp here]. Young Adults will sell the limited edition CD version of Born In '91 at three shows lined up for the final weekend of February (the CD version comes packaged in a slim DVD case with lyrics and art). The first of these shows is a headline slot Thursday the 21st on an epic TT The Bear's bill that includes Connecticut legends Suicide Dolls, the very hotly tipped Earthquake Party and the mighty Soccer Mom. Dig the Facebook event page for that show right here. Young Adults' previously issued full-length, Black Hole, was released by Prague-based AmDiscs in 2010.

>> We've got the typical love-hate relationship with music PR types, but there have certainly been situations where we've been downright grateful for the right pitch at the right time. For example, we had no idea that Barry Black was Eric Bachmann of Archers Of Loaf until somebody (probably the guy from Alias) got us on the phone and made us pull the disc from the mountain of submissions clogging the college radio music director's office in 1995. Similarly, and more recently, we would not have turned onto the jangly, Kinks-styled brilliance of formerly local (but now Berkeley, Calif.-based) garage rock heroes Bozmo were it not for an unexpected email from a Boston PR concern (we think it was from Sippy Cup Everything). Around the time of the exchange, Bozmo -- the vehicle of mastermind Bo Moore -- had just put out its wonderful long-player Hosanna In The Highest [at Bandcamp here], and after spending an entire evening streaming it over and over off Bandcamp we plunked down for the vinyl, and have been a satisfied customer ever since. Now Bozmo is back with an intoxicating single featuring the overdriven stomper "B A Tree" on the A-side. The tune touts a thunderous call-and-response verse that layers even-more-crushing guitar over crushing guitar, while organ struggles to get atop the mix to join the clattering snare beat and terrific vocals and harmonies. The flip is the more subdued "Lakehouse," a song laced with buoyant 12-string leads that spiral off mild clouds of psychedelia and prop up a gentler, more wistful, but no less affecting vocal. "Lakehouse" apparently also features playing from the aforementioned Earthquake Party's drummer Josh "J-Raff" Carrasco. Taken in sum, "B A Tree" b/w "Lakehouse" is our favorite single of the year to date, and it is available to download from Bandcamp for free/paywhutyalike, so get yourself on that immediamente. Allston Pudding premiered the video for "B A Tree" earlier this month; check it out right here.

>> To the extent that there was a cat and a bag, and the cat was in the bag, well, now that cat is out of the bag. What? We're talking about Comedy Minus One Records finally coming out and saying what its social media tidbits have been suggesting for a while now: that the label is preparing a deluxe reissue of Silkworm's towering work of genius, the 1993 LP Libertine. The release, to come later this year, will apparently be made manifest in various packagings including a double LP, and there will be various tiers of pre-order delights on offer. Comedy Minus One aims to include among these a download of live versions of the songs from the LP, but the label has come up short in its hunt for recordings of "The Cigarette Lighters" and "Oh How We Laughed." so, if you have recordings of these songs, Comedy Minus One wants to hear from you. Click the hyperlink above or shoot an email to Clicky Clicky Executive Editor Jay and he can put you in touch. For those of you who don't know, Libertine is a startlingly beautiful record that features classic, unfuckwithable Silkworm jams including "Wild In My Days," "Couldn't You Wait?," "Grotto Of Miracles," "Cotton Girl" and "There Is A Party Tonight In Warsaw." Fans of the band should also be made aware of the pending release of the apparently exhaustive documentary Couldn't You Wait? The Story Of Silkworm, which we believe is being released as a download this month. Full details, as well as scads of excellent video clips, teasers and outtakes, can be found at the documentary's Facebook page right here.

February 7, 2013

Review: Screaming Maldini | Screaming Maldini

When we sit around and think about what the inside of Screaming Maldini fronter Nick Cox's head must look like -- something one does after listening to great quantities of his brilliant, Sheffield, England-based sextet's euphoric, exuberant pop -- we imagine something like those bizarre animations Terry Gilliam contributed to "Monty Python's Flying Circus." Indeed, Mr. Cox and his cohort's music is filled with wonder, whimsy, and a feeling that the possibilities are limitless ("but sometimes it's glorious / and sometimes this city shines on us," so goes a verse to the single "Summer Somewhere"). And so it was with no small relief that finally, some four years after first popping onto our radar at Clicky Clicky, Screaming Maldini finally delivered unto us this week a full-length debut, simply titled Screaming Maldini. The arresting collection bursts with the band's singular brand of maximalist, kaleidoscopic pop and features a dozen prog- and vintage exotica-tinged tunes that are deftly composed and meticulously arranged, from the five-part vocal harmonies to the bright, detailed arrangements of guitars, keys, horns and percussion. The record proves definitively and twelve times over that, for Screaming Maldini, no detail is too small, no melodic idea too big: there are more ideas in one of its songs than most bands generate over the course of a career.

The well-sequenced collection touts an inexorable rush and push that draws listeners in and speeds them along, even across a sea of odd time signatures and some charming but more downtempo ballads. With considerable pomp (but never pompous), Screaming Maldini opens with the latest single, the euphoric, exuberant "The Awakening." It is one of four tunes that will be new to ardent fans, as the balance of the songs were previously issued as singles, b-sides or EP tracks. That said, there is a cohesiveness to the full-length; we wouldn't go so far as to say the collection is greater than the sum of its parts, but we will say that its parts do make for a brilliant whole. The order is front-loaded with the singles "The Awakening," "Life In Glorious Stereo," and the aforementioned "Summer Somewhere," then jumps to new recordings of two tunes from the band's triumphant And The Kookaburra EP [preview], "Secret Sounds" and "I Know That You Know That I Would Wipe The Snowflake From Your Eye." This latter track, somehow never a single, is one of the most sublime in the band's catalog, and features some incredible lyrical pay-offs including the drawn-out, titular declaration. Top it off with the gentle chorus, quietly urging "slow down, slow down" amid muted horn and staccato guitar, and you've got classic Maldini brilliance.

After a pair of stirring ballads -- including the amazing, Gina Walters-sung "Minor Alterations" -- the album closes with the electric, Latin-tinged hand-clapper "Four Hours From Now," which is seemingly equal parts disco, salsa and football anthem. The wide-eyed number emphasizes once more the band's almost unparalleled chops and vim. Screaming Maldini was released Monday by the sextet's French label HipHipHip in a limited edition of white vinyl LPs, as well as on CD and download; the art on the LP and CD packs are rendered in 3D and ship with 3D glasses. Screaming Maldini launch tomorrow night its biggest UK tour yet to support the album release, and for the first time will be bringing along their own sound man -- so look out UK! The tour wraps in a few weeks with a homecoming show at The Harley March 2. Hopefully fans won't have to wait four years for the next one!

Screaming Maldini: Internerds | Bandcamp | Facebook | YouTube

February 5, 2013

Review: Bettie Serveert | Oh, Mayem!

Some bands write half of their album in, or just on their way into, the studio and it really sounds like it: half-assed ideas, dumb lyrics, and generally rushed recordings that just don't work.

Other bands - experienced and confident bands like Bettie Serveert- revel in the pressure. Using the energy fueled by expensive studio hours ticking away to create the direct songs they've been hardwired to deliver. The songs don't need editing, because they're not loaded up with anything extraneous.

So it is with their new album, Oh, Mayhem!, out today in the USA on Second Motion Records. Apparently still propelled by 2011's reinvigorated Pharmacy of Love, they've banged out a quick (under 35 minutes!), dirty, and worthy follow-up. Much of the album was reportedly recorded live in the studio and written under the gun and Bettie Serveert do sound like a well-oiled rock machine here. From the driving, urgent opener "Shake Her," the chaotic "Tuf Skin," and culminating in the Stoogefied "Receiver,"Oh, Mayhem! is packed with rockers (the latter of which was wisely re-appropriated to anchor the new album from a 2011 side project that singer/guitarist Carol van Dyk and lead guitarist Peter Visser led called Me and Stupid, which you can download for free over here). To the album's benefit, they continue to hold at bay the experimental tendencies that caused them to stray a bit from their path in the 00's.

It's hard not to give a lot of credit for this to drummer Joppe Molenaar's continued presence behind the kit. His playing on the title track, in particular, making the case that he's a huge part of this act in the band's career. He's a caffeinated powerhouse who bashes when warranted but knows just when to hang back. Guitarist Peter Visser is assertive as ever, launching power chords and dealing simple hooks, like on "LoserTrack," with equal effectiveness. Carol van Dyke's voice is more commanding than ever, the sweet, shy charm of Palomine now augmented by conviction and nerve - all at once on tracks like the lead single "Had2Byou." And her guitar work with Visser may not be as audacious as the interplay between Television's Verlaine and Llyod or Big Dipper's Waleik and Goffrier, but there's something comforting about the blanket of warm, strummy jangle they lean back on from time to time.

All of those parts come together on the soaring set closer "D.I.Y.," which answers question asked back on the title track - "can you peel off the past?" by showing how vital Bettie Serveert still are.

- Michael Piantigini

Previously: Review: Bettie Serveert | Pharmacy Of Love

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More fun video: Bettie Serveert perform Palomine in its entirety.

February 4, 2013

Rock Over Boston: Big Dipper | 02.04.2013

[Big Dipper and The Zambonis at the Middle East Downstairs, Cambridge, MA., February 4, 2013. Photos by Michael Piantigini]. 

Previously: Big Dipper Crashes on the Platinum Planet reviewed.

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February 3, 2013

Today's Hotness: The Cherry Wave, Calories

The Cherry Wave -- Blush EP

>> It will rapidly become a distant fading memory to some, but there was an entire universe of excellent contemporary shoegaze happening prior to last night's shock midnight release of My Bloody Valentine's mbv. Indeed, notable Glaswegian noise-pop upstarts The Cherry Wave returned Jan. 24 with its second EP of uncompromising shoegaze chaos. The quintet's new, four-song set is titled Blush, and it is both more focused (somewhat ironically, given the quote you are about to read) and more punishing than its formidable predecessor. The band recently told GlasGoWest "[w]e wanted it to sound like what it feels like when you've been up for 24 hours and you think you're hearing things and seeing things, but you’re not really sure whether you have or whether it's the comedown and lack of sleep. We wanted to it to sound like an audio version of that feeling, 6am, sun rising, fuzzy headed, heavy eyelids." The highlight of the EP is the closer "Cave/Wave," a tune driven by crushed drums and spectral vocals that somehow is able to steadily ratchet up the cacaphony straight across the song's nearly four minutes. It's the sort of song that makes you wonder whether the band is ever able to play more than one song live, as its beauty and mayhem suggest an aural self-immolation. The Cherry Wave's self-titled debut EP was released last summer and our own Edward Charlton reviewed it right here. In the intervening months The Cherry Wave was released on cassette and the band added a third guitarist to help fatten its already considerable auditory morass; the band's final show as a four-piece is Feb. 15. Blush is available as a pay-what-you-like download via Bandcamp; you can stream the entire thing below.

>> Well, there was some delay, but it was definitely worth the wait: Birmingham, England-based indie-punk heroes Calories last week issued its eagerly anticipated EP DMT, which we first wrote about here in November. The surprisingly textured, catchy-as-hell lead track is one with which you should all be familiar by now; perhaps you've even seen Calories' skewed but entertaining video for the tune as well. Well, on the EP "DMT" is joined by three additional numbers: the weightier, fuzzed-up chant "Every Day Is A School Day," the nervous and cinematic instrumental "Flickers From The Ochre House" and the hypnotic ballad "Fragments Of Cities (Acoustic)." Brevity, energy and a cracking melodic sense continue to be hallmarks of the Calories sound, but the band is still able to build admirable exposition into the songs. The final minute of "Every Day Is A School Day" features a menacing build-up of buzz-saw guitars that blow past the rhythm section and hang in space for a number of seconds. The final haunting track, "Fragments Of Cities (Acoustic)," is perhaps the strongest of the lot, wherein the band deftly arranges gentle acoustic guitar and organ and voice. We remain quite hopeful about Calories' planned third full-length. When the band issued the freebie "Summer's Not" in October it was billed as a non-album track to whet the whistles for the next record from the quartet, which now counts among its number renowned engineer and former Sunset Cinema Club chap Dominique James. Since then, of course, no long-player has emerged. Fortunately, a Facebook post from the band last week states "the album will 100% come out on vinyl," a good sign that indeed an album is still in the offing. We recently wrote about two relatively new Calories side projects, Burning Alms and Sunshine Frisbee Laserbeam, right here, and we'll try to keep tabs on all the action as we can keep up with it. For now, stream the excellent DMT below; if cassettes are your thing, word is that Stourbridge-based Carnage Club Collective will be doing a limited cassette run at some future date. Calories play London Feb. 10.

February 1, 2013

Review: The Spinto Band | Cool Cocoon

Delaware-spawned indie pop journeymen The Spinto Band are on a roll: in only the past nine months the band has rejuvenated a two-decade career with the slick pop of the full-length Shy Pursuit (preview here), revitalized their own record label and toured extensively. And now the quintet is already back with a new long-player, Cool Cocoon. Picking up right where Shy Pursuit left off, the new collection contains yet more of the band's sparkling brand of well-crafted, classic pop. Cool Cocoon commences with "Shake It Off" (previously reviewed here), a tune that echoes rock-and-roll touchstones without diluting Spinto Band's characteristic cool and charm. That's no small feat, as the hooks here and elsewhere on Cool Cocoon are so universal and saccharine one might think their apparent familiarity would stunt their appeal. But that's just not the case. In fact, thanks to singer Nick Krill's quavering falsetto, the warmly compressed production, and crafty arrangements the act succeeds over and over in delivering unto fans singular pop statements. The Spinto Band's reach never exceeds its grasp.

Known for its bright sound and tumbling tempo changes, Spinto Band sounds best at its most upbeat. "Breath Goes In," "Enemy," and the funkier "Memo" all feature a kineticism that drives the brand's brilliant melodies. Imaginative guitar sounds crash in and out, the drums snap along with only the bounciest of beats, and supporting voices push each hook to maximum lushness. "Na Na Na" not only shows off the retro-bubblegum accouterments with which the group are well-versed, but also features one of many creative guitar solos that populate the album. It's as if the band holds back its meanest, grittiest player until he is about to piss himself, and only then unleashes him for a frenetic, quick flash of a solo, twice as loud as everything else, and gone as soon as it starts. Why don't more bands do that? Perhaps the highlight of the record is "Amy + Jen." Sounding like a strummy cut off The Tyde’s Thrice album, Mr. Krill and company dash off vibrato guitar splashes, choppy acoustics and bursts of buzz-guitar to cook up a classic summery jam. Drummer Jeffrey Hobson's emphasis on the beginning of each imploring chorus punches up the tune and adds to its timeless air.

Cool Cocoon touts an even share of slower numbers that aim for the heart via an expanding vocabulary of studio effects. "What I Love" offers a rising music hall melody and a piano line that recalls the fluttering tenderness of The Rolling Stones’ stone-cold classic "She’s A Rainbow;" the tune includes yet another brilliant guitar flash-solo. The folksy and spare "Look Away" exposes another dimension of the band yet heard. Like many groups trading in indie pop, The Spinto Band can't take credit for inventing the wheel. But the band’s precision and sincere love of rock’s long flirtation with classic pop is more than enough to make Cool Cocoon a keeper. Another album or two of this level of songwriting and the band should start expecting comparisons to Harry Nilsson, Ray Davies, Paul McCartney and their venerated like. Cool Cocoon is released on The Spinto Band's own Spintonic Recordings Tuesday; stream "Shake It Off" via the embed below. -- Edward Charlton

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