April 30, 2013

Show Us Yours #14: A Giant Dog

A Giant Dog's Practice Space, Superpop, Austin, Texas

[Yes, somehow, miraculously, after a four-year hiatus, we are resuscitating our ancient feature Show Us Yours, wherein Clicky Clicky asks notable bands about where they make their magic: their practice spaces. It has always fascinated us to no end to see where bands spend their time shaping their sound, and that curiosity has only intensified now that we're 10 years removed from playing in our last (relatively) serious band. Let's dig in. -- Ed.].

We were compelled to check in on Austin-based garage punks A Giant Dog earlier this month after listening to their completely arresting new collection Bone three times in a row. With our inbox constantly overflowing, we don't ever listening to *anything* three times in a row these days -- unless it's a vinyl 12" we're too lazy to pull of the turntable -- so we knew the quintet was one worth digging into a little deeper. Bone, a melodic and driving collection of shouty garage-rock anthems, was issued two weeks ago on Tic Tac Totally and the quintet is out on the road this month promoting its release. Indeed, A Giant Dog will perform at O'Brien's Pub in Allston Rock City this coming Sunday on an insane bill with Earthquake Party, Idiot Genes and Ex-Magicians. Not only is that Cinco De Mayo, but, well, this band is awesome, so if you are fortunate enough / young enough / stupid enough to use Cinco De Mayo as a reason to be out drinking on a Sunday night, why not smarten up for a second and see a kick-ass band while you are at it. We were fortunate to be able to wrangle A Giant Dog fronter Sabrina Ellis to share a little bit about the good-looking practice space pictured above, as well as the optimal activity to accompany listening to A Giant Dog's concise rockers and the band's potential demise (that last one, not really). Bone, A Giant Dog's second full-length, is available now via Midheaven right here, and we've embedded a stream of the entire album below the interview. If you need to be sold on the record before diving in, we suggest starting with the fiery, completely non-P.C. album closer "Teasin' Ass Bitch." Bon appetit!
Clicky Clicky: So why do you use this space?

Sabrina Ellis: This space is my husband Seth's recording studio [Superpop! -- Ed.] and also side B of our duplex. We bought the place condemned and turned it into a recording studio. A Giant Dog practices here because it is paid for and we're a bunch of broke-asses. Also, the air-conditioning doesn't hurt.

CC: Is there an idiosyncracy or quirk of the space that has affected one of your songs, or even your overall sound?

SE: The violent orange of the walls has us writing some disturbing material lately. Horny and deranged material. Our former space was the garage at the Giant Dog House. The garage is definitely what gave us our garage sound. The garage is like the vagina of a house. The hot, dark place where music embryos grow.

CC: You walk into your space. What's the first thing you smell?

SE: Incense. To cover the weed smell. Because The Bad Lovers were just recording in here. There's also this awesome, musky, old tube amp smell at Superpop.

CC: I remember a friend telling me about 20 years ago that the perfect rock song length was the amount of time it took to smoke a cigarette. I think at the time he pegged that at about three-and-a-half minutes... which, now that I think about it, seems kind of fast. But he was a heavy smoker. Anyway, most of your songs are around two minutes long. What's the perfectly suited activity to accompany one's listening to a single song from the new record?

SE: At about two minutes each, our songs are perfectly timed for a young man's first sexual encounter.

CC: You're out on the road for a couple weeks. Besides the tour, what do the next six months look like for the band?

SE: Pretty bleak, to tell you the truth. I sense a huge falling-out between the members of A Giant Dog on this tour. We wont be able to handle the pressure or the fame. Decade-long friendships are about to be torn apart on this bitch. We'll get a little crazy one night and do and say some things we'll regret. We wont be able to look each other in the face anymore. The next 6 months will see us on individual downward spirals, wondering what went wrong. Common story. What a shame.

A Giant Dog: Bandcamp | Facebook

Previous Show Us Yours episodes:
Shapes And Sizes | Dirty On Purpose | Relay | Mobius Band | Frightened Rabbit | Assembly Now | Meneguar | Okay Paddy | Charmparticles | Calories | Sun Airway | It Hugs Back | Lubec

April 29, 2013

Today's Hotness: White Laces, Wild Nothing

White Laces -- Deep Moves(detail)

>> Richmond-based dream pop luminaries White Laces today issued to the wilds of the Internerds a digital single for the tune "Deep Moves." Attentive fans will recall the chilling space-rock number was at the vortex of the band's seemingly slept-on but quite engaging digital-only live EP from earlier this year titled //////Interzone. The live EP is still available at Bandcamp right here, and if you missed it definitely do the due diligence, because it showcases the key creative tension in the band's work, namely the collision of disciplined minimalism and free jamming. White Laces' new studio rendering of "Deep Moves" extends the live composition by an additional 77 seconds, during which the quartet surfs wave after successive wave of the tune's icy vibe, which is powered by spiraling guitar lines and deep, mellow synth filling out the mid-range. White Laces make their live return to Boston May 26, when the quartet will grace the stage at Great Scott with bands that are good, although looking at the Great Scott web site it appears the supports have not been confirmed. We've embedded both versions of "Deep Moves" below; the new studio version will be released as a 7" single -- with the tune "Ascend" on the flip -- later this summer on a label to be determined. Both tracks were recorded at Mystic Fortress in Roanoke, Virginia, for those of you who know the commonwealth well. The last time we caught up with White Laces in Boston -- which may be the last time they made it to Boston -- was at a JP house show in July 2011, and they were incredibly loud and very good. We reviewed White Laces full-length debut Moves right here last August.

>> Sticking with sounds out of Virginia, we were also jazzed by the new direction evident in a bouncy, sax-studded preview track issued last week by Wild Nothing. The new tune, "A Dancing Shell," is part of a forthcoming seven-song EP titled Empty Estate that will be released by Captured Tracks May 14. Wild Nothing mastermind Jack Tatum recorded the extended play collection over the course of 10 days in Brooklyn in January with Al Carlson at Gary's Electric; the complete track listing appears right here. While Wild Nothing built its brand on mannered, melodic dream pop, "A Dancing Shell" marks a surprising turn for the act. It's a mid-tempo, robot-dance-friendly panorama of sparkling synth, choppy rhythm guitar and saxophone which perceptibly echoes The Radio Dept.'s "Heaven's On Fire." The new tune certainly suggests the rhythmic focus of, say, Tom Tom Club, as opposed to the more streamlined sounds on Wild Nothing's acclaimed 2010 debut Gemini. It's the kind of zag we like to hear from a band -- especially when they pull it off. Empty Estate is already available for pre-order via ITunes, for those of you who still enjoy shopping at ITunes. For its part, Captured Tracks is selling the EP in limited edition 12" LP and CD bundles (which are packaged with an obi strip, illustrated insert, red vinyl, poster, hand numbered envelope, 2x sticker pages, button and slap bracelet), as well as in a conventional LP/CD permutation. Stream "A Dancing Shell" via the Soundcloud embed below.

April 27, 2013

Today's Hotness: Tullycraft, Fridge Poetry, Mutes

Tullycraft 2013m(detail)

>> The fact that we haven't bought a Tullycraft record since the release of 1999's singles compilation (fittingly titled The Singles) is more a sign of poor decision making than of a lack of enthusiasm for the delightful indie pop institution. We can still remember the excitement in college back in the dark ages when those first singles were arriving at the radio station, a time when people still somewhat suspiciously referred to Seattle-based Tullycraft as the "new thing from the Crayon guy." Fronted by Sean Tollefson, whose naive, adenoidal vocals were the template for a surprisingly widespread strain of twee pop in the mid-'90s, Tullycraft and its upbeat indie pop would seem to have influenced countless acts that came in its wake, from Belle & Sebastian to Weezer. Tullycraft is now, somewhat startlingly, in its eighteenth year of existence. The band's latest collection, its sixth, is titled Lost In Light Rotation, and it is filled chock-a-block with sweet, concise and pure pop gems. From the fizzing opener "Agincourt" with its addictive bomp and self-effacing pre-chorus ("...I used to be clever but it didn't last...") about staying up late and buying records, to the moderately paced album highlight "Westchester Turnabouts" with its more subdued vocal and pretty harmonies, Lost In Light Rotation is proof positive that Tollefson and company are turning out the strongest material of its career. Which makes it all seem oddly anachronistic in a way: in the world of Tullycraft, it is constantly 1995, love is perpetually innocent, cardigans and thick nerd specs de riguer. The fact Tullycraft is able to do this almost 20 years into its career is a testament to the timeless appeal of undeniable pop hooks, which the quintet conjures with embarrassing ease (or borrows, as is the case of "From Wichita With Love," which appropriates Bobby Freeman's oft-covered 1958 pop classic "Do You Want To Dance?"). Magic Marker released Lost In Light Rotation on blue vinyl April 23; a CD version was issued by Fortuna Pop and a cassette is available via Fika. In addition, Fortuna released the title track "Lost In Light Rotation" as a single (with a cover of Yaz's amazing "Bad Connection" as the flip), and the entire record is embedded for streaming below. No matter what format you prefer, your spring will not be complete without hearing Lost In Light Rotation, so buy it here, here or here.

>> Well it's been eight months in the offing, but Fridge Poetry -- the bedroom pop project of Johnny Foreigner drummer Junior Laidley -- has finally delivered on its long-promised EP Soweto Slo Mo, which will be available via Bandcamp Monday. As we wrote here last August, the project's name is apt, as Mr. Laidley -- in the spirit of Dntel and The 6ths -- produces the music and then invites vocalists in to complete the tracks. Earlier this week Fridge Poetry unveiled a second tune from the four-song EP, titled "I'll See." The song features crushingly sad vocals from Evan Bernard of Philadelphia-based indie acts Dangerous Ponies, The Weaks and seemingly a thousand others. Mr. Bernard's high and lonesome vocal blooms over top of a poignant piano ballad augmented with electronic beats and is digitally delayed and smeared, resulting in a powerful downer that falls somewhere between The Postal Service's "The District Sleeps Alone Tonight" and American Football's "Never Meant." Which we think you'll agree is a very good place to be. Last August Fridge Poetry revealed its debut track "Crash Down," which is also included on Soweto Slo Mo along with two additional numbers, "The Circles" (which, like "Crash Down," features vocal contributions from longtime Johnny Foreigner associate Thomas Sherwood Nicholls) and "First Word" (which actually has four words, all written by Laidley). At the moment two of the songs from Soweto Slo Mo are streaming in full and two are merely short teasers, so make sure to click over Monday to get the entire thing. In the meantime, however, here is the terrifically affecting "I'll See" embedded below. In related news, Laidley and his bandmates in Birmingham, England-based noise pop juggernaut Johnny Foreigner embark on a European tour with loud, strummy pals Playlounge beginning June 7 in Berlin and wrapping two weeks later at a city and venue TBD (the final confirmed date is June 19 in Utrecht).

>> And yet we are not done mentioning Johnny Foreigner. It seems that the band's guitar tech, who we only know by the first name James, has a bedroom pop project of his own called Mutes. The project has just borne fruit in the form of an impressive digital EP titled, well, EP. Mutes jokingly describes itself as "proper B-Town lad-rock grit-pop lash-monster" at YouTube, one of the two places the EP is streaming, but in truth the collection spans pastoral, Flying Saucer Attack-styled shoegaze, spacey acoustic reveries and more straightforward electropop sounds. The highlight of the collection is the curiously titled "M.P.D.G.," a title that reveals little. But the song takes the tambourine-spangled free jangle of The Feelies' "When Company Companies" and tones it down, making it more mysterious and inviting at the same time, like the sound of a far-off, late-night beach party that you can't get close to no matter how long you walk toward it. "M.P.D.G." is trailed by an even quieter and more mysterious (yet mildly psychedelic) number called "Port Sunlight," with inscrutable, echoed vocals and softly bending guitar lines tugging the listener along a beautiful melody buffeted by a light drone in the background. Closer "Smother" is a more uptempo pop number that proves Mutes has more than an admirable skill for crafting quiet psych balladry; instead "Smother" builds a firmament of percolating guitar loops into a colorful cloud while a danceable beat pushes layered vocals and simple, pretty harmonies. This debut collection from Mutes is remarkable, and we hope that EP is but a small taste of what the project has in store; it's certainly one of the best surprises we've encountered yet in 2013. Stream it below.

April 24, 2013

Today's Hotness: Los Campesinos, ISAN, Speedy Ortiz

Los Campesinos! -- It's A Good Night For A Fist Fight (Detail)

>> Cardiff-based indie pop heroes Los Campesinos delivered in a big way today on a surprise they've been teasing for a couple weeks. The news is the sextet is releasing a new live set titled It's A Good Night For A Fist Fight, and based on the preview track, a cracking version of "We Are Beautiful, We Are Doomed," it would seem the record is going to be a fireball. It's A Good Night For A Fist Fight was recorded live at Islington Assembly Hall in London on December 15th of last year (the collection takes its title from a lyric in the band's thrilling hand-clapper "By Your Hands"). According to this tumblr post, the London date was actually the band's second try at a live recording, an earlier attempt planned for a show in Seattle, WA in the US was scotched for reasons Los Campesinos doesn't elaborate on. The London show -- 21 songs across 90 minutes -- was played to a sold-out crowd of 800 fans; the performance was the final show to feature Ellen Campesinos, and it also featured an appearance by Aleks Campesinos, who left the band three years prior to concentrate on academics. It's A Good Night For A Fist Fight is available for pre-order now for five British pounds, and the files will be emailed to purchasers May 4; the band is also selling a poster print and various cool t-shirts that can be bundled with the album, so make sure to look over all of the offerings at its Big Cartel yert. Pre-orders are rewarded with an immediate download of the final song of the main set, "Baby I Got The Death Rattle." In what is perhaps even more exciting news, the band says it will begin recording its fifth record in June; its prior two records, Romance Is Boring and Hello Sadness, each landed prominent spots on Clicky Clicky year-end lists. Pre-order It's A Good Night For A Fist Fight right here, and stream the slamming version of "We Are Beautiful, We Are Doomed" via the Soundcloud embed below -- and scream along with the crowd when the line "THERE IS NO FUCKING FUTURE" rolls around.

>> We've found ourselves revisiting recently a lot of records that were released around the time we first began writing about music in earnest about 11 years ago. We were very excited at the time about the rising tide of IDM and ambient/minimalist electronic producers and electropop acts, many of which we first discovered by watershed compilations from Berlin-based label Morr Music such as the brilliant Slowdive tribute set Blue Skied An' Clear. A relatively veteran act of the then burgeoning electropop scene was the UK duo ISAN, which was founded in 1996 and is comprised of members Antony Ryan and Robin Saville. Morr Music has just announced it will re-release the pair's 1998 full-length debut Beautronics as a CD, and -- for the very first time -- vinyl. The vinyl issue will is a very, very limited gatefold double LP; it was previously made available on Record Store Day earlier this month, and at the time it drafted its press release Morr only had 30 copies left in its own warehouse. Samples of the entire 19-song album can be streamed via the player at this page, and a complete stream of the set's penultimate track "Xylomat" can be streamed via the Soundcloud embed below. "Xylomat" is a spare, echoing confection with subtle melodies whose click-pop sound was pretty much a template for quality ambient electronic and IDM music of the five years following its release. According to ISAN's web site, the song was one of four previously unreleased tracks added to Beautronics for this release. The duo, of course, continues to keep busy, and it recently composed music for a film soundtrack and last month released an EP of analog cassette loops titled Descette on a one-sided 12" via SecretFurryHole. Pre-order Beautronics from Morr via the ANOST store right here. Highly recommended.

>> Hotly tipped indie rock foursome Speedy Ortiz announced Tuesday that its pending debut full-length Major Arcana, which we first mentioned here a month ago, will be released by D.C.-based indie stalwart Carpark Records. While Clicky Clicky still mentally associates Carpark with the more experimental releases of yesteryear from acts such as Greg Davis and Ecstatic Sunshine, the label has been hitting hard more recently with the aggressive and guitar-centered sounds of Popstrangers and Cloud Nothings. In that latter context, of course, Speedy Ortiz is an obvious choice for the label, not to mention a feather in its proverbial cap. Carpark will issue Major Arcana, a 10-song collection, July 9. Next week the Northampton, MA-based quartet release the 7" single "Ka-Prow" b/w "Hexxy" via Inflatable Records, pre-orders for which are now being taken right here. The single is available in a limited edition of 500, with 40% of the vinyl coming in some combination of "piss yellow" and blue. Speedy Ortiz is in the middle of a stretch of tour dates that has them on the road through Sunday, and its live commitments going forward includes not only a stop at our alma mater's own WestCo Cafe in Middletown, CT May 8, but also a Boston show at Great Scott May 15. Stream the brawling gem "Ka-Prow" via the Soundcloud embed below.

April 22, 2013

The Boston Music Community Responds, And The Hush Now's "Marathon Day"

The Hush Now -- Marathon Day

There's a story we think of often, when, in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, Bruce Springsteen was apparently out and about and someone driving by spotted him and shouted from their truck, "Bruce, we need you!" Such is the power of music, and people's visceral, often umbilical, relationship to it. Music comforts. Music uplifts. Sometimes it does the best it can to solve problems. And of course it can bash and pop and do all those other things we love about it. The whole of Boston and the immediately surrounding region was shaken badly last week by the marathon bombings and the desperate manhunt that followed four days later. But the city and its people responded with dignity and resolve, especially Friday. Especially Friday. Boston has responded in other ways as well. As we've already mentioned on Facebook, we were awed by the Boston music community's immediate and powerful response, its willingness to offer comfort and aid to the families of the fallen, to the wounded, to one another. To the soul of the city. There was Tuesday night's amazing benefit at TT The Bear's, planned and staged in only a handful of hours, that raised almost $8,000, money that was walked in to Mass General Hospital the next day and donated by Richard Bouchard and Michael Marotta on behalf of the music community. We can't really think of anything more DIY and punk rock and, well, awesome than that. Problem identified. Plan made. Plan executed. All in about 24 hours.

That show is but one of many efforts made by the Boston music community. There is a cascade of announcements of benefit shows. Everyone is pitching in, from Anngelle Wood and AudioCotton's We Are Boston t-shirt (which, we think we saw this morning, have already raised thousands for One Fund Boston), to Allston Pudding's goliath digital mix tape, from Dan Blakeslee's heart and bridge design (which ended up behind the stage for the Fleetwood Mac show, amazingly), to all the merch sales from individual bands put toward putting Boston back together. We are amazed at the depth and breadth of the will to give, the drive to help, individuals looking for ways to do what they can. The terrible events of last week drove The Hush Now to write a spare, affecting ballad about the resolve of Boston and its inhabitants, titled simply "Marathon Day." "I was honestly at a loss, so I did what made sense to me," guitarist Noel Kelly told us in an email. The initial demo, which we first heard Thursday, was so intimate you could hear the high harmonics coming off the acoustic strings as Mr. Kelly strums his way, picking over how to process the tragedy that took place across town. A fuller of the song was recorded yesterday, and the process by which it was done is quite interesting to us. But we'll save that for another time. There is a moment of silence today at 2:50, one week after the bombs exploded on Boylston Street. Two victims are being memorialized today, and laid to rest, too soon, too young. Our thoughts are with them and with our city. The Hush Now and Clicky Clicky Music Blog strongly encourage you to donate what you can to the newly established One Fund Boston if this song moves you, or if it doesn't. You can stream and download "Marathon Day" via the Soundcloud embed below.

April 16, 2013

Today's Hotness: Royal Wedding, Halasan Bazar

Royal Wedding -- Inhabitants(detail)

>> Bursting forth with the ferocity of Link Wray's meanest, tobacco-spitting moments comes Boston's Royal Wedding. The trio's dilapidated, guttural, rockabilly skronk quickly drew us into its latest release, Inhabitants, which was released to the wilds of the Internerds last month. The EP, available as a pay-what-you-like download from Bandcamp right here, touts six skeletal and electrifying numbers. Echoed, harsh and dangerous-sounding effects fly from each instrument, but paint-by-numbers rock-shock sleaze Royal Wedding is not. Each song from the threesome's EP carries wisps of driving, atonal no-wave, like opener "S.C.U.M," the primal intensity of which recalls O.G. heroes like Mars or early Sonic Youth in the clean, serrated chops of tangled guitar. Elsewhere, singer Eric Boomhower's voice delightfully proves to be a dead-ringer for Thurston Moore at his most engaging on Royal Wedding songs including "Inhabitants" (which calls to mind Moore indulging Ramones-referencing yelps and vocal ticks in the late '80s). Royal Wedding's "This Many Phases" boasts such colossal delay on the mix in its early moments that the song nearly assumes a dub reggae posture. It's no secret that this reviewer greatly appreciates the repurposing of genre signifiers within a broad spectrum of popular styles. It's this ever-evolving conversation that creates most worthwhile contemporary music. It's also the stylistic bent that makes Royal Wedding's no-wave rockabilly fusion deserving of all the attention and praise it can get. Somebody get this band in a studio with Wharton Tiers! Royal Wedding play this Friday at Cambridge, MA's Plough And Stars, and the next day the act joins Clicky Clicky-approved garage ravers Thick Shakes at Collective A Go Go in Worcester. In the meantime, stream the entirety of Inhabitants via the Bandcamp embed below. -- Edward Charlton

>> With some bands, sometimes it seems they have arrived on the scene via time machine. Halasan Bazar of Copenhagen is one such act. The quintet's latest album Space Junk, available for sale on vinyl right here via the Crash Symbols label, features on its cover a rendering of a futuristic farming-colony starship. It's not, however, toward the next space age that these men are headed, but rather some imagined one from an increasingly remote past. Indeed, the group of visionary tunesmiths sounds straight out of San Francisco, circa 1966. With a warm, jangling acoustic drive, Halasan Bazar repurposes the idealistic folk-rock synonymous with a bygone California, and augments it with modern hypnagogic tape warbling and gooey, spaced-out vibes. Further bolstering that concoction is singer Fredrik Eckhoff's bouncy and playful spirit, which helps the five-piece breathe new life in to both the musical past and present. Space Junk is highlighted by "Sometimes Happy, Sometimes Sad," which leaps into the stereo field with thoughtfully delayed guitar leads, cheapo keyboard lines and lo-fi fuzz. Mr.Eckhoff's Neil Young-evoking slacker croon makes the tune as bittersweet as its title tidily suggests. Elsewhere, the album plumbs more mellow depths with delicate, subdued and echoed folk numbers. Closer "Ease Up" is the best of these, touting a crisp, circular lead guitar guiding soft, beautiful melodies; the songs captures an intimate spirit reminiscent of certian numbers on Velvet Underground's serene third album. Halasan Bazar counts itself one among a growing number of European bedroom recording acts that smartly appropriate elements of the 60's pop avant-garde and re-interprets it via a youthful, weirdo aesthetic that sparks new sounds and songwriting perspectives. With the Elephant 6 scene somewhat dormant -- beyond Of Montreal's funk and soul exploits -- and the latest wave of garage-revival big dogs such as Ty Segall apparently more focused on the pounding hiss of the usual chords, one hopes more acts on our side of the pond will wake up and smell some of the same acid as Halasan Bazar. We'd suggest you pull the couch out into the back yard, get comfortable, and stream all of Space Junk via the Bandcamp embed below. -- Edward Charlton

April 15, 2013

Rock Over Boston: Rumble, Night 6

[The Boston Rock 'n' Roll Rumble, Preliminary Night 6, at TT The Bear's Place, Cambridge, MA. 4/13/2013. With a pre-Rumble visit with Mellow Bravo at the Middle East Downstairs. Photos by Michael Piantigini].

Parks: Bandcamp | Facebook | Twitter
Jack Burton vs. David Lo Pan: Bandcamp | Facebook | Twitter
Ruby Rose Fox: Bandcamp | Facebook | Twitter
The Daily Pravda: Bandcamp | Facebook | Twitter

Rock 'n' Roll Rumble: Intertubes | Facebook | Twitter
Boston Emissions: Intertubes | Facebook | Twitter
Rumble history: Wikipedia

April 14, 2013

Today's Hotness: Brenda, Lubec, Johnny Foreigner

Brenda with Winter and Olde Growth Cola at Zuzu April 15, 2013

>> While its counterpart in Oregon continues to be a hotbed of indie rock (more on that below), Portland, Maine has also been producing a steady stream of quality acts and recordings. In just the past year that city's Coke Weed and Endless Jags have released a tremendous record and EP respectively, and this Tuesday veteran indie quartet Brenda returns with a long-awaited sophomore record titled Fix Your Eyes. The 10-song collection echoes somewhat the aforementioned Endless Jags EP, as the two bands share some members and, likely as a result, distinctive Farfisa organ playing. But whereas the relatively new Jags' material is largely driven by guitarists Oscar Romero and Tyler Jackson, DJ Moore and Josh Loring write the bulk of Brenda's tunes. So there is a bright line distinguishing Brenda's music from that of Endless Jags, as the former band takes inspiration from vintage rock 'n' roll such as Buddy Holly as well as contemporaries The Walkmen (one only need hear the title track to Fix Your Eyes to appreciate the latter influence), while the latter band touts a more emotional immediacy reminiscent of Broken Social Scene. Brenda's approach can be more temperate, but Fix Your Eyes doesn't skimp on rockers: the best evidence for this is the undeniable, galloping hip-shaker "Hard Pleaser," which touts caffeinated strumming, spiraling Farfisa melodies and fizzing tambourine that together drive the song inevitably toward dance-floor nirvana. The similarly uptempo hand-clapper "Not My Friends" takes a more soulful approach but incorporates more finely articulated guitar leads that wind around the dizzying Farfisa like coiling snakes. As the image above somewhat attests, Brenda plays a free show at Zuzu in Cambridge, MA tomorrow night, at which it will no doubt delight with some of the tunes mentioned above on a bill that also features upstart dreamers Winter, who we wrote about here in January, as well as Australia's Olde Growth Cola. And then of course, Fix Your Eyes is released the following day with Teenarena Records out of Rochester, NH doing the honors. Pre-orders for the set are already being take right here; the LP is available on red vinyl, and a limited number of fans who pre-order will receive a t-shirt as well as a pin and patch. Brenda's debut full-length Silver Tower, which caught the ear of some guy named Jeff Tweedy and resulted in the band playing the Solid Sound Festival, was released in June 2010 and is available via Bandcamp right here. Stream "Fix Your Eyes" from the new collection via the Bandcamp embed below.

>> And now back to the other Portland. Earlier this week Oregon-based guitar pop heroes Lubec unveiled a new song from its planned sophomore LP, which now has a title: The Thrall. The new tune, "Local Celebrity," boasts some huge moments, such as when it hits a crushing bridge in the third minute and then winds itself up into a hotly paced closing section touting a burly guitar solo soaring above a neatly ascending keyboard line. The paired vocals of guitarist Eddie Charlton and keyboard player Caroline Jackson soar in the song's huge choruses. "Local Celebrity" was engineered and produced by Robert Comitz at The Frawg Pound and mastered at Stereophonic, all in Portland. The Thrall is expected to be released before the end of the year, or at least we expect it will be, because we want it that way. In January, Lubec shared for a limited time two demos of other songs that will likely feature on The Thrall, namely "Adam" and "Many Worlds." Lubec's full-length debut Wilderness Days was released at the beginning of the year and compiled a dozen early tracks from the band's oeuvre; we reviewed it here. Stream "Local Celebrity" via the Soundcloud embed below.

>> Birmingham, England-based noise-pop titans Johnny Foreigner let slide a tantalizing tidbit earlier today when it disclosed that six recipients of its recent limited-edition photo sets were going to receive among their spoils "weblinks to some exclusive new art and lyrics from our next record." The sets, photographs from the quartet's epic tour of North America last fall augmented with exclusive art created by guitarist and notable artist Lewes Herriot, were released (so to speak) in March alongside digital-only offering Manhattan Projects and sold out almost immediately, such that Clicky Clicky HQ missed its chance merely in the space of time it took our Executive Editor to shovel a jar of baby food into Clicky Clicky Baby Unit 2. We wrote about all of this here and here. People who know say that Johnny Foreigner aim to release two more things this year, one a single in early summer and presumably the other will be the full length mentioned between the quotation marks supra. Because its triumphant last album Johnny Foreigner Vs. Everything [review] was released twice (the second go-round being a wonderful 2x12" reissue), it is easy to forget that it came out in 2011, and given the band's usual break-neck pace at creating music, it is almost surprising it has been that long. We are, needless to say, stoked for the new one, and will keep you apprised of all the minute details regarding same. While we wait, how about taking a listen to that practice room recording of the band covering American Football's beautiful and tragic "Never Meant" via the embed below?

April 13, 2013

Rick Over Boston: Rumble Night 5


Boston Rock 'n' Roll Rumble preliminary night 5 winners White Dynomite at TT The Bear's Place, 4/13/2013.

April 11, 2013

Today's Hotness: Colleen, Army Navy, The Bilinda Butchers

Colleen -- The Weighing Of The Heart(detail)

>> Given how strongly we were moved by her recordings in the middle of the last decade -- even naming one of her records among the best of 2005 -- we have a hell of a time keeping up with Colleen, the project of one-time (and perhaps current, we've really lost the thread here) French school teacher C├ęcile Schott. But by a stroke of good fortune we saw Colleen's name dropped in a Facebook status posted today by UK electronic music heroes Isan, along with a link to Fact's exclusive on a new Colleen track, "Push The Boat On To The Shore." The song is from Colleen's forthcoming fourth full-length The Weighing Of The Heart, which will be released by London's Second Language Music May 13. In 2005, we called Ms. Schott "an iconoclast whose singular style seems predisposed to produce resplendent music." Based on an album sampler we've embedded below, that is still completely the case. Colleen continues to create placid, textured, thoughtful and otherworldly electro-acoustic music consistent with her first three records and various EPs and one-offs. Criminally, Clicky Clicky last wrote about Colleen here some six years ago, although fortunately it appears Colleen has not released a full-length since then, based on a glance at her discography. Still, there is plenty of music to catch up on, and we certainly will keep a much closer eye -- well, ear -- on Colleen going forward; it's not worth the risk of missing such intelligent, pure and beautiful music. Check out a sampler of all 11 of the tracks from The Weighing Of The Heart below. We can't find a buy or pre-order link at the Second Language site, but we're hopeful the record will get a domestic release, as The Weighing Of The Heart has "potential album of the year" written all over it. And, well, we don't want to pay import if we can help it. If you are interested in learning more about Colleen, we highly recommend revisiting Ben Sterling's excellent 2004 interview with Schott for Junkmedia right here.

>> We struggle to understand Los Angeles and its indie rock community. The city is linked so strongly to the music industry, has such as rich history of music, and yet in the last decade we can only think of one truly excellent band from LA, The Henry Clay People [Exh. A]. Whenever we've mentioned this in casual conversation (and we readily admit this all may just be ignorance on our part), people always remind us of the very good indie pop act Army Navy, to which we typically say something brilliant like, "Oh yeah, right!" Well, this time it was the band itself offering a friendly reminder in the form of a delectable new freebie. The nine-year-old trio fronted by Justin Kennedy earlier this month issued the digital single "Pickle," a gently rocking number populated with glistening guitars and gorgeous melodies. The swaying strummer hints at a strong appreciation for the Sarah Records aesthetic, perhaps hints a bit at the resolute poignance of Small Factory, and is eminently listenable -- a perfect spring time jam. "Pickle" is a precursor of Army Navy's forthcoming third long-player. Its most recent full-length collection, The Last Place, was issued in 2011 on EMusic's Selects label and the band's own imprint, The Fever Zone. No additional details are as yet available about the forthcoming record beyond the fact that it is already mixed (at least in part by the great Adam Lasus, legend) and expected to be released this year. While you wait, stream and download "Pickle" via the embed below. Also below you will find a stream of Army Navy's cover of Yaz's extraordinary electropop ballad "Only You," which was released as the B-side to the threesome's "World's End" 7" released in August 2012. Army Navy offers up a straight, guitar-centered version, but for those of us old enough to be haunted by the original, its well worth listening.

>> Much is made about the sound in dream-pop and shoegaze, from plaudits for its ethereal release to complaints about "buried vocals," but surprisingly few realize just how sexy the genre can be. For the properly attuned, it can be easy to identify a distinct femininity permeating many tunes. Hell, one could argue that Cocteau Twins and My Bloody Valentine redefined sexuality in pop music. Regardless, that influence has been snatched by certain bands, who have run off to the best parties, leaving stray vinyl behind like photo albums of that one perfect night. You just had to be there. Enter The Bilinda Butchers. Taking their name from one of indie rock's most graceful and mysterious sex symbols, the San Francisco-based duo proffers incandescent, soft-focus party songs on its latest single, "The Lover's Suicide!" b/w "Love So Estranged," which was released early last month. Yes, that B-side is a cover of a song released on a split single by '90s dream-pop legends Rocketship. The A-side is giddily paced and coated in just enough lo-fi studio fuzz and odd warping in the background to approximate quite well the rush of youthful and inebriated celebration. That splash of water at the beginning? It's not dour rain, but rather the fountain outside of the casino, because once the hi-hat beat and driving bass line come in, the intention is pretty clear. The singer's soft vocals bring to mind The Pains of Being Pure At Heart, while the strange, quarter note siren noise that enters a little more than a minute into the tune indicates the band knows its way around some exotic effects pedals. As is often mentioned by this reviewer, the dream-pop and shoegaze scene is regularly plagued by artists that have little substance beneath the dialed-in tones and obvious fretwork generating half-baked ideas that feign some epic purpose. We remain hopeful that the modus operandi of The Bilinda Butchers -- who work as hard to move people's feet as they do to get them to stare downwards -- can be a model for another wave of dream-pop acts. "The Lover's Suicide!" b/w "Love So Estranged" is available as a digital download via The Bilinda Butchers' Bandcamp right here; a vinyl 7" was released by the band's European label Beko, but it has already sold out. Stream "The Lover's Suicide!" via the Bandcamp embed below. -- Edward Charlton

April 9, 2013

Today's Hotness: Silkworm, Frightened Rabbit, Rodan

Silkworm -- Libertine (detail)

>> Although we first wrote about the news here in February, Comedy Minus One today finally revealed the details about its pending reissue of Silkworm's towering 1994 full-length Libertine, and it is going to be a whopper. Longtime Comedy Minus One fans will recall the label actually first reissued Libertine as a digital download in 2008, something we wrote about right here. But the definitive reissue formally announced today that will arrive in stores this fall presents a lovingly curated and exhaustively sourced version of the last record that Silkworm recorded in its original four-piece incarnation, prior to the departure of Joel R.L. Phelps. Comedy Minus One will issue Libertine, Silkworm's third record, as a double LP packaged with a CD containing a brilliant acoustic set recorded for Marco Collins that was released as a single in the mid-'90s. The records are pressed to 150 gram vinyl at 45RPM. The reissue touts all-new artwork plus liner notes from Silkworm's Tim Midyett; it was remastered by Bob Weston and pre-orders for three different permutations of the collection are being taken from now until June 11. The baseline offering is the double LP and CD for $20; for an additional $20 fans will get an exclusive t-shirt along with the double LP/CD package, and for $75 big American dollars fans get all of that plus rare bootleg audio as an additional digital download, a white label 12" of the material offered on the CD in the other packagings, and an exclusive photo print. All of the details and a link to pre-order are laid out at Comedy Minus One's web site right here. Libertine is considered by some as the greatest record of the 1990s, so choose wisely and allow us to remind you that, as always, Comedy Minus One ships pre-orders usually well before the records arrive in stores. To whet your appetite, below are streams of "Couldn't You Wait?" from the LP as well as a live version of "Grotto Of Miracles," recorded May 15, 1994, that is part of the "bootleg" audio included in the premium tiers.

>> Fat Cat Records last week announced it would make available on vinyl for the very first time Frighten Rabbit's titanic 2006 debut long player Sing The Greys. The 12" vinyl will be released in May as part of Fat Cat's reissue campaign for the Selkirk-spawned indie rock act's first few records. Prior to the May re-release of Sing The Greys, that album's 2008 follow-up The Midnight Organ Fight [review] will be reissued April 20 on vinyl for Record Store Day in the U.S. in a limited edition of 500 double albums packaged with exclusive art prints; the second 12" record of the two-record set will be Quietly Now!, the 2008 Frightened Rabbit live album that we've always called Liver! Lung! FR! [review], 'cause, you know, that is what the cover says. The Midnight Organ Fight/Quietly Now! package will also be available in the UK for Record Store Day in an edition of 1,000 pieces. According to the Fat Cat web site, the double LP will then be made available again from May 7 in a limited edition of 1,500 copies that will be sold without the exclusive 12" x 12" art prints. Frightened Rabbit, of course, now records for a major label; its most recent album Pedestrian Verse was issued earlier this year on Atlantic Records. The band is currently touring the U.S. and by all (social media) accounts FR delivered thrilling shows in both Boston and Philadelphia; the U.S. tour wraps Saturday with a sold-out show in Dallas, and then FR has two weeks off ahead of two weeks of shows in Australia. Wanna hear some new FR? Stream "Backyard Skulls" from Pedestrian Verse via the Soundcloud embed below.

>> Fans of top-shelf early '90s post-punk got a strong jolt across the bolts last week when Quarterstick/Touch And Go announced it will release in June Fifteen Quiet Years, a collection of singles, compilation tracks and a previously unreleased Peel Session by the legendary Louisville juggernaut Rodan. The band existed only briefly, from 1992 to 1994, and sadly two of its principle members have already shuffled off this mortal coil at altogether much-too-young ages. The music collected on Fifteen Quiet Years was never easy to acquire in the first instance, so the fact that this compilation now exists will be exciting for the Rodan fans out there whose sole copies were crappy rips sourced from Napster or Audiogalaxy at the turn of the century. All of the music on the comp was remastered in 2009 by Bob Weston along with Rodan guitarists and singers Jeff Mueller and Jason Noble; Mr Noble succumbed to synovial sarcoma last August, and original Rodan drummer John Cook died in February 2013. Fifteen Quiet Years will be sold as a vinyl LP or CD, and each comes packaged with codes for a digital download of 10 bonus live recordings hand-selected by the band. We were fortunate enough to see the band perform at an intimate house show in the very hot summer of 1994, a happenstance that was just a case of being in the right place (Princeton) at the right time. Not too long after the band splintered and its members went on to perform in equally notable successor acts including June Of 44, The Shipping News, Rachel's, The Sonora Pine and Retsin. Quarterstick/Touch And Go will release Fifteen Quiet Years June 11. We have to believe a reissue of Rodan's sole full-length, Rusty, must also be in the offing, as the album's tracks are conspicuously absent from this campaign. The record will be 20 years old next year, so the safe money is on a reissue of Rusty in 2014. Pre-order Fifteen Quiet Years right here, a hyperlink at which you will find a stream of Rodan's powerful instrumental "Darjeeling," which first appeared on Simple Machines Records Inclined Plane 7".

April 8, 2013

Rock Over Boston: Rock and Roll Rumble, Night 1

[Night one of the 2013 Boston Rock and Roll Rumble. Photos by Michael Piantigini.]

We can all look to Boston's Rock 'n' Roll Rumble for a reminder of why we participate in music - and particularly local music - in the ways that we do. Whether we're playing music, DJing, writing about music, or just making rock clubs our second home, that impulse to share and share in the music that moves us is what gets us off the couch on a Sunday night (on Mad Men season premier night, no less) and connect with not only the sticky floors of our feedback-filled dreams, but friends and sounds old and new.

But the Rumble belongs to the bands. All of them. Winners and not-winners. I again had the honor of participating as a judge, and it was no less difficult than last year to have only one winner. The somewhat understated The Okay Win opened the night with their solid, engaging indie sound that doesn't beat you over the head with their 3 guitars; Cancer Killing Gemini swung for the fences with an aggressive, driving assault by a rhythm section that will not be denied; and Velah's slow-burning, finely-crafted pop made a convincing case to close it all out; but, just before that, New Highway Hymnal had one of those sets that just got down to business and never looked back through deep psych waves of reverb cut through only by saturated, pulsing bass lines and drums that swung. Their no-nonsense hit-and-run took the night (Haverhill represent!) and to celebrate you can grab their most recent album, Whispers, for free (name-your-price) right over here.

And this was just the beginning. Still five more nights of preliminaries to go, all of it at TT The Bear's, a Boston rock institution in its own right. See you out there:

Monday, April 8:
9:00 Endation
9:45 The Deep North
10:30 Herra Terra
11:15 Camden

Tuesday, April 9:
9:00 Eddie Japan
9:45 Supermachine
10:30 Glenn Yoder and the Western States
11:15 Blackbutton

Thursday, April 11:
9:30 Mount Peru
10:15 Whitcomb
11:00 Lifestyle
11:45 Twin Berlin

Friday, April 12:
9:30 Coyote Kolb
10:15 The Field Effect
11:00 The Suicide Dolls
11:45 White Dynomite

Saturday, April 13:
9:30 Parks
10:15 Jack Burton vs. David Lo Pan
11:00 Ruby Rose Fox
11:45 The Daily Pravda

Thursday, April 18:

Friday, April 19:

Friday, April 26:

- Michael Piantigini

New Highway Hymnal: Bandcamp | Facebook | Twitter | Tumblr
Velah: Intertubes | Bandcamp | Facebook | Twitter
Cancer Killing Gemini: Intertubes | Bandcamp | Facebook | Twitter
The Okay Win: Intertubes | Bandcamp | Facebook | Twitter

Rock 'n' Roll Rumble: Intertubes | Facebook | Twitter
Boston Emissions: Intertubes | Facebook | Twitter
Rumble history: Wikipedia

April 7, 2013

Today's Hotness: William Tyler, Life Model, 28 Degrees Taurus

William Tyler -- Impossible Truth (detail)

>> More music taste-makers should look past the gloss and acknowledge the spiritual connections between all types of music; they're never as different as radio programmers and the guys who magic marker shelf dividers at the record store would have you believe. This idea is reinforced by Merge's recent release of William Tyler's Impossible Truth, a tasteful and gripping collection of solo guitar compositions. The double LP, released March 19 in the U.S. and April 29 abroad, avoids the pitfalls of virtuoso showcase; instead, the pieces are restrained, structured and brim with thoughtful layering and emotive chord sequences. Indeed, Mr. Tyler can say anything with only the basest metallic vibrations, and his tune "Cadillac Desert" serves as a fantastic introduction. Opening with an orchestrated two chord chug, the song recalls the majesty of Joy Division's "Atmosphere," albeit as filtered through the drop tuning carnival and clang-drone of classic Cale-era Velvet Underground. The song drifts gradually into mid-'70s Laurel Canyon folk serenity via delicate picking and distant slide guitar. Still, "Cadillac Desert" never completely sheds the sense of power that defines its opening moments, although it re-focuses eventually into a questioning introspection. Tyler is as much a skilled arranger and producer as he is a guitarist, managing to sound forward-thinking despite a relatively traditional approach. And so Impossible Truth is a record for spring afternoons, preferably with a book and wine and the scent of freshly mown grass. It is also already one of 2013's most beautiful albums. Stream "Cadillac Desert" via the Soundcloud embed below, and buy the record from your friends at Merge right here. -- Edward Charlton

>> Now that the hype surrounding My Bloody Valentine's shocking return has abated, shoegaze devotees can return their attention to listening to and appreciating music being created by newer bands working with the sound in singular and revealing ways. Glaswegian noise-pop upstarts Life Model released April 1 its eponymously titled EP, and the opening number "Glazed" quickly caught our ear. Driven by a baggy Madchester-rhythm, Life Model further appoint the song with a Kim Deal-evoking, root-note bass line and gratifying amounts of fuzz. Underneath it all is storming, clean drumming that seems taken from the mixing boards of Marc Waterman and his god-like production of Ride's towering Nowhere. Floating above is fronter Sophie Evans' voice, and hers is a commanding performance that is dreamy yet full of presence. Taken in sum the sound hearkens back to the more neon, liquid, colorful, and outwardly sexy generation of noise-pop bands working at the turn of the '90s, groups that brought an otherworldly element to the quiet-loud pop formula propounded by the Pixies. And so Life Model show that there’s still a lot of life within an area of danceable dream-pop that references the work of previous heroes. "Glazed" certainly suggests that the quintet's splattered, sensual take on things will make a long-player a record worth partying to. For now, Life Model is certainly about 18 minutes well-spent. The EP, issued by the U.K.-based Viscerality label, is available on a limited edition purple cassette and as a digital download via Viscerality's Bandcamp page right here. Stream the EP via the embed below and then click through to order. Life Model plays a hometown show May 21 with the hotly-tipped Bleached. -- Edward Charlton

>> While its Facebook fans can readily recognize the band is at an inflection point, it'd be unfortunate if that completely overshadowed that veteran Boston psych-rock outfit and DIY stalwarts 28 Degrees Taurus issued late last month a pretty, foreboding new digital single "Vast Majestic." The release, which also includes the tunes "Playing With Fire" and "Out Of The Ashes," is a harbinger of a full-length expected to be released later this year. "Vast Majestic" aspires to its title, as Ana Karina DaCosta's chiming vocals -- which will sound very familiar to Slowdim fans, as she also plays bass in that band -- skate across steady waves of ethereal guitar and reverb and into crashing choruses. "Playing With Fire" ups the tempo and the intensity with guitarist Jinsen Liu's vocals shadowing the syncopated drum beat. The brief rocker "Out Of The Ashes" opens with a skittering, hi-hat-pocked drum pattern that recalls The Cure's "Plastic Passion," although 28 Degrees Taurus' characteristic wet and spacey production markedly contrasts with the uncharacteristically dry sound of that early tune by the legendary British act. The Boston trio had intended to make a short tour out to the midwest last week, but a personal matter led to the band having to scotch the jaunt. The band's next local appearance will be April 20 at the rejuvenated and now-thriving Boston-area psych-pop festival Deep Heaven Now. The festival again takes over Somerville's PA's Lounge and Precinct nightclubs and feature numerous Boston noise-pop heavy hitters including Infinity Girl, Night Fruit, Winter and Boom Said Thunder. 28 Degrees Taurus play the midnight slot at Precinct, and it may be one of the last times fans can see the band for the foreseeable future, so definitely put the set on your list. In the meantime, the new single is streaming in full via the Bandcamp embed below; click through to grab the three songs as a pay-what-you-want download.

April 3, 2013

Review: Z*L | Z*L

Defining punk has been a fool's errand since it -- whatever "it" is -- separated itself from glam four decades ago. This is why the discussion is most often left to kids not yet old enough to drive, which is appropriate, since it is primarily the youthful, optimistic belief that punk exists which actually makes it exist. Year in and year out a fresh panel of teens dons Docs and dye jobs and believes, and while gratitude might not be the most obvious reaction, we should be grateful to every last one of them; there's only one way to make old punks. Obviating the exercise of defining the term "punk" is its surprising ductility, which lets it apply broadly and without regard for the revisionist, '80s rock mag orthodoxy fed to kids that posits a Holy Trinity of Damned, Pistols and Clash. Indeed, American bands like X and The Cramps in the west, and Talking Heads and Blondie in the east, laid a much broader -- and, some might argue, more exciting -- foundation for punk rock. Which is a long way of explaining why Boston trio Z*L's self-titled debut is one of the most exciting punk records we've heard in a long while.

Z*L's dark and moody debut full-length stands apart on the strength of the two-year-old act's admirable synthesis of influences overlooked in contemporary music. The act is comprised of former 8-Ball Shifter and Rock City Crimewave guy Ian Adams; bassist Isabel Reilly, formerly of Vera Go Go; and drummer Jack Knife, who previously played with The Ghost Of Tony Gold. And while Z*L may not be mapping a new, unique sound, Z*L confidently distinguishes itself by zagging into doomy rockabilly, wiry post-punk and bluesy psych -- as did certain of those aforementioned American forebears -- while the rest of the pack zigs on autpilot. Z*L catches fire slowly but inevitably, and by the time the cowpunk ballad "Mermaid Knife" rolls around the trio has coaxed a full-on conflagration. The tune is a spare, mid-tempo rumination with harmonized vocals and jangly guitar that swells to fill all of the space in its impassioned choruses. Z*L is ready and able to surprise on an almost-song-to-song basis all the while maintaining focus on rocking out, which makes it pass by surprisingly fast. The trio dispenses doomy, bluesy sludge in "A Town Called Romeo," only to follow it up by desperately bashing through the fuzzed-out, anthem "Black Meds." The album's blunt, melodic opener, "Mike Hill" echoes Jets To Brazil's "Morning New Disease," while the closing ballad "When I Was Dead" solemnly recounts an exhumation before its western twang gives way to a noisy, cinematic denouement that will make you grateful that some old punks still believe.

Midriff Records issues Z*L April 23; the release will be preceded by a certain-to-be-kickass show at Midriff's home away from home, Radio in Somerville, on April 19. Fans who buy the CD at the release show will also receive three very cool posters and a lyric sheet as well, according to the Facebook. The release show also features the legendary Thalia Zedek and her band, so it should be an awesome evening of rock and roll all around (Ms. Zedek, of course, recently wrapped a successful residency at TT The Bear's celebrating the release of her umpteenth solo set Via, which was issued by Thrill Jockey last month, and she will be touring with her stellar '90s band Come later this spring and summer). We're able to offer you a stream of Z*L's "Black Meds" below thanks to the good people of Midriff, so take a listen. Midriff previously released a solo set from Mr. Adams titled Stay Up Late in June 2009, about which you can learn more by clicking this link or this link.

Z*L: Facebook

April 1, 2013

YouTube Rodeo: Fire Island Pines' Transformative "1915"

It takes a half-minute for the song to kick in, and its shifting gray presentation belies the song's sunny disposition, but the video embedded above otherwise makes quick work of reminding us of all the things we love about Fire Island Pines' finely appointed, gentlemanly pop. We were both surprised and pleased to read the Cornwall, England-based sextet has a domestic label deal in place for its new single: "1915" and "Midwest" b/w "Cherry Grove" will be released on an orange vinyl 7" by Minnesota-based Manic Pop! Records April 29. The band trades in gentle, layered and jangly indie pop colored by fronter Anton Rothschild's murmuring-in-his-sleep vocals and some breezy and persistent trumpet leads. Fire Island Pines have posted all three tracks from the single on its Soundcloud page, so we are able to offer you streams of "Midwest" and "Cherry Grove" below in addition to the video of the lead track supra.

The three tunes are remarkable for evidencing what seems like a new-found facility for writing more extended, expositive passages into these noticeably darker (but not quite dark) songs. It is also worth noting that each one of those tracks presents new dimensions of the act's sound: with "Midwest" the mood is unexpectedly tense and harried ("this is not a gas station in the midwest, but I bet you wish it was, because you are an ugly man in an ugly tan and you're doing ugly things..."), and there is woven into the mix some very cleanly distorted guitar that interrupts Fire Island Pines' characteristic jangle. "Cherry Grove" touts a long coda that spirals across a sturdy foundation of percussion and quarter-note guitar strumming, like an early '80s Rod Stewart single taking a pleasantly psychedelic turn. Pre-orders for "1915" and "Midwest" b/w "Cherry Grove" are already being taken right here. We last wrote about Fire Island Pines in Feb. 2012, on the occasion of the release of the sextet's wonderful Rickie Lee Jones EP; we first wrote about Fire Island Pines here in April 2011. Manic Pop! appears to have launched only last August, but has already logged 19 releases to its name, a very impressive feat.