December 30, 2013

Today's Hotness: School Shoes, Withered Hand, Tadoma, Mutes

School Shoes

>> We're increasingly spoiled by the tremendous surprises dropping under our noses over at Bandcamp. Sure, a flat vinyl circle is always going to be our preferred media, but these days nothing is as immediate and sudden as the sensory blitzkrieg and subsequent rush of a digital taster from a hot and fresh band. Boston's latest bedroom dream-pop export School Shoes last month propounded via Bandcamp a perfect pair with its demos "Cults" and "Dress." The brainchild of a gentleman named Ty Ueda, School Shoes' two tracks fuzz and crackle with delicious analog enthusiasm. Both feature such expansive and pristine hooks that even in their demo-ish state they already feel Captured Tracks-ready -- even arena-ready -- in spirit and scope [and remind this blog’s executive editor of a certain incredible Portland, Ore.-based indie rock foursome -- Ed.]. Opener "Cults" is unapologetically exuberant pop. Commencing with a taut, picked guitar riff and snare-centered beat, the tune echoes turn-of-the-decade Brooklynites Beach Fossils with the twitchy anxiousness of the instrumentation. After a dreamy opening, Ueda's voice enters, and it's a real stunner: clear and expressive, but with enough deep cool to keep the frumpy taste-makers happy. Better still, the voice provides a great focal point as the tunes confidently reveal themselves, jangling from a bed of reverb and delay and driving a gently lifting chord progression in the chorus. "Dress" opens with more primal hisses and ramblings before embracing a classic indie two-chord pull and push whose persistence and quiet passion echo the Belle & Sebastian outlier from 1996's Tigermilk, "Electric Renaissance." New-wave bass and double-tracked vocals emphasize the tune's charm, which is amplified further still by the instrumental interplay. All of the instruments work in concert as though School Shoes was a complete live band with multiple personalities, which is very impressive. Stream both tracks below, and click through the embed to grab the demos for further future untethered enjoyment. -- Edward Charlton

>> It amused this reviewer more than a little when he first read that new Slumberland signees Withered Hand are promoting their forthcoming sophomore long-player, New Gods, with a song called "Black Tambourine." The tune even features Pam Berry of the very same dreamy and legendary institution from which that name is borrowed! However, as soon as the track in question is heard, it's apparent that it is no simple-minded act of hero worship, but rather a promising introduction to a Scottish artist by the name of Dan Willson. Mr Willson creates what Scotsmen toiling in indie rock do best –- honest, inviting pop music in the vein of Teenage Fanclub. If Withered Hand's previous album Good News is any indication, however, the project is a unique signing for Slumberland, seeing as that record featured a much heavier folk-rock sound. However, "Black Tambourine" may prove that Willson has set his sights on the sounds of the '60s; the track is a shockingly good exercise in power pop. Opening with cheery snare work and bouncy bass, the song structure belies the lyrical concern: aging and doing so with grace. "I'm older now, but I feel the same, but I'm not the same," sings Willson, offering a sentiment with which many can surely relate. Ms. Berry delicately accentuates his vocals, then offers greater support in a series of subtle choruses. These sneak up on the listener with their tunefulness -- much in the same way the organ creeps in to nearly match the volume of the fuzz guitar solo by the conclusion. "Black Tambourine" may be a bit of a grower, but when that moment arrives, one won't forget it. With the announcement of New Gods for early next year, 2014 is already proving to be another exciting and unexpected chapter for such Slumberland. It's also worth noting that this is the second release to be released in partnership with U.K. imprint Fortuna POP!, which this year co-released Weird Sister by Clicky faves Joanna Gruesome. So you know, all very good signs. Listen to "Black Tambourine" via the embed below, and buy it from ITunes here. -- Edward Charlton

>> What does Tadoma sound like? It's a great question, because even after spending some time with Nascent Zones, the recently self-released odds-and-sods collection from Philadelphia electronic producer and Tadoma mastermind Joe Patitucci, a simple answer is hard to pinpoint. In 2008 this blog described the music as "Boards Of Canada meets More-era Pink Floyd." But this recently issued collection of never-quite-finished tracks tickles the brain while recalling a broader variety of musical and cultural touchstones. Indeed, Nascent Zones features such a diverse array of instrumental approaches that there is really -- to embrace the hackneyed phrase -- something for everyone here. Some of the loop-heavy tracks nearly approach hip-hop, such as the bouncy opener, while the more ambient pieces often incorporate orchestral elements that only increase their size and scope. Mr. Patitucci describes the idea behind Nascent Zones as "a place or zone you enter and as these zones I am making available are somewhat unfinished, it only seemed appropriate that I use this name." Unfinished or not, many of the tracks feature transporting instrumental melodies and warm, analog production that feels especially cozy in headphones. Two compositions toward the front end of the set, "Rover" and "Contact," express Patitucci's strengths by pairing simple yet non-traditional guitar work with carefully calibrated vintage synths. "Rover" begins with a de-tuned strum that recalls dream-poppers of yore -- and the many whirring noises, simple drum pads, and clean, bleeping sounds remind this reviewer not only of Stereolab or Seefeel, but also of certain moments by the relatively unheralded Philadelphia dream-pop unit Flowchart. "Contact" leans toward early krautrock, as well as the opulent, unfolding guitar tapestries of post-punkers like Durutti Column. Grab all of Nascent Zones for any price here, and stream the entire set via the embed below. -- Edward Charlton

>> There's always moments during the holiday season that grab one sharply by the lapels. Maybe it's the quick pang of nostalgia -- the realization that one's youthful revelry is fleeting. Or maybe, it's a beer in hand and some end-of-the-year reflection during a solitary snowfall. Few music fans go without at least one of those soundtrackable moments this time of year (Boston, you apparently have at least six inches of snow to thoughtfully stand under coming your way Thursday evening), and a recently released single from Birmingham, England's Mutes is perfectly suited for such duty. Helmed by a gentleman named James, as we noted here in April, this project proffers carefully looped electric guitar and subtle, gorgeous melodies that pirouette broadly before fading into the mist they emerged from. The celestial instrumental "Kissing Trees" sparkles quietly, and the entrancing way the guitar tumbles through the melody is proof that quality songwriting always wins. "Memory Serves," which touts spectral and downcast vocals, and echoes Grenadine's chilling 1992 A-side "Fillings," or even a slowed-down take on the hyper-charged hammer-ons of bands like Clicky Clicky faves Algernon Cadwallader or Johnny Foreigner. James' soft vocal establishes a lonely dreaminess, intoning "there's nothing to live for." With all of this in mind, it’s easy to think of Mutes as a sort of John Fahy or Billy Bragg of dream pop -- alone up there on the stage, and all the better for it. Grab the Starvation Age single for any price, and be ready for the next soundtrackable moment. -- Edward Charlton

December 19, 2013

Clicky Clicky Music Blog's Top Albums Of 2013: Dillon Edition

Clicky Clicky Music Blog Top Albums Of 2013 -- Dillon Edition

And here it is, our last year-end list for 2013, this one top albums selections courtesy of our intrepid Staff Writer Dillon Riley. There is noticeable overlap between this list and our own, which we published earlier this week. However, we embrace the differences between the lists even more, as they allow the publication to recognize yet more very worthy acts that didn't rate a slot on Jay's tally. Yet even Mr. Riley didn't have room in the manger for all he hoped to recognize; he extends honorable mention kudos to Medicine (To The Happy Few, released on Captured Tracks), Grooms (Infinity Caller, on Western Vinyl), Radiator Hospital (see Jay's list), Swearin' (Surfing Strange, Salinas Records) and Waxahatchee (Cerulean Salt, Don Giovanni). If you'll allow a brief aside, we're grateful not only to our readers for lending their attention to the publication each day, but also to the rock solid partners we've conned into helping further the mission of Clicky Clicky. So to Michael Piantigini, Edward Charlton and Mr. Riley, this blog's executive editor offers his sincerest, unreserved thanks. We hope you all enjoy their writing half as much as we do. Clicky Clicky will publish little or not at all for the remainder of the year, but rest assured we'll be out here listening to and weighing the relative merits of the new now sounds, and resting up for what is sure to be an exciting and indie-rock filled 2014. We thank you for your continued patronage. Now on to Dillon's Top Albums Of 2013.
1. Krill -- Lucky Leaves -- Self-Released

It physically hurt, having to choose between these jams and those of the equally impressive collection listed just below Lucky Leaves. No other records were more obsessively spun, streamed, talked and/or posted on Facebook/Twitter about, and air drummed along to in class by me than these two beauties. So, the question remains, why place Krill over Speedy Ortiz at the top of the heap? Well, concerned reader, it's simple: while Speedy most definitely delivered an (all-but) unbeatable collection of ass-kicking rock tunes, Krill invented their own sonic world with Lucky Leaves. So, out of pure journalistic obligation, I just gotta side with them. Plus, what other band on this planet or otherwise would release their highly anticipated sophomore LP in a ball of mozzarella for an obscenely high price? Or, for that matter, any price? I thought so. Buy it here.

2. Speedy Ortiz -- Major Arcana -- Carpark

What more can be said about this record that hasn't been dished already? The culmination of 1,001 basement gigs, a couple incredible singles and a legend-forging EP, Speedy Ortiz's meteoric rise, and the parallel ascension of the scene that birthed them, has been one of 2013's greatest success stories. Another release as good as this (and I'm expecting their forthcoming EP to slay based on the single), and we may have to declare Massachusetts the new indie rock mecca. Buy it here.

3. My Bloody Valentine -- mbv -- Self-Released

C'mon, like this one wasn't gonna make it... I, like many reading this, stayed up half the night on that fateful February evening waiting for the My Bloody Valentine website to gain its footing so I could get my metaphorical hands on these sweet, sweet digital goods. And, uh, no disappointments here. A basically flawless album from one of the most influential bands/sonic auteurs/musical masterminds of all time, mbv picked up right where the final flickering beats of "Soon" left off, despite the two-decade-plus gap. I was there at the House Of Blues gig, too, and in some ways I'm still recovering from it as I type these words -- emotionally at least. "Wonder 2" still induces vertigo when I slap it on the turntable. Buy mbv here.

4. Joanna Gruesome -- Weird Sister -- Slumberland

Complete with a mythic origin story (click and control-f for "anger"), a record bursting at the grooves with energy, and a deliriously bad name, Joanna Gruesome had me captivated long before they blew up at CMJ this fall. An arresting concoction of power-twee hooks and searing, noise-pop guitars, this Cardiff quintet's music presents a perfect yin-yang of indie rock goodness. Sure, they come off a little bookish at the onset with "Sugarcrush," but by "Secret Surprise" frontwoman Alanna Gruesome -- yeah they adopted band surnames a la The Ramones, as well as a certain other Cardiff-based indie pop sensation -- apparently bins her anger management training and embraces some good ol' fashioned violence as she dreams of pulling teeth from an ex's mouth. Joanna Gruesome is another band you can file under Dill-core for sure. Buy Weird Sister here.

5. Ovlov -- am -- Exploding In Sound

am, the debut LP from these Newtown, CT fuzz-rockers, was a near-revelation upon its mid-summer release. Delivering on the promise of their early EPs, Ovlov's current all-Hartlett lineup -- brothers Steve, Theo, and Jon -- is easily their best to date, one that takes frontdude Steve's compositions to dizzying heights. And yet, on an album filled with such intense, unrelentingly overdriven guitar anthems, it's the record's most restrained track, the lumbering "Where’s My Dini?," that shines brightest. At least to me. Whatever, the stratospheric launch around the 1:07 mark during "Blue Baby" stands as my favorite musical moment of the year, too, so what do I know? Buy am here.

6. Deerhunter -- Monomania -- 4AD

Here's why I will always love this band: fresh off their biggest release yet, 2011's gorgeously atmospheric Halcyon Digest, one would expect Deerhunter -- seemingly on the cusp of widespread adoration -- to drop another set of articulate dream-pop tunes. Instead we got Monomania, a haphazard collection of brittle, lo-fi, junkyard-rock, and a bizarre-even-by-Bradford Cox-standards appearance on Jimmy Fallon's late-night gabber. These songs are all splintering guitars and jagged-edge vocal squawks about motorbikes and obsession, a perfect backdrop for Deerhunter's most American-sounding effort yet. The kicker is the record's best song, Lockett Pundt's turn at the mic for "The Missing," is far more Lotus Plaza than Deerhunter: a perfect exception to the rules set forth by the Monomania's skewed aesthetic. Buy it here.

7. Smith Westerns -- Soft Will -- Mom + Pop Music

Speaking of smart, well-crafted indie music, these Chicago dudes kick up a pristine blend of guitar-pop, trading in angular guitars and restrained rhythms for Day-Glo keyboard melodies and glam-rock bombast. How the first single from Soft Will, the deliciously juvenile "Varsity," hasn’t appeared on more (read: any) best song lists for 2013 is beyond me. I guess people don't put as much of a premium on clean-cut pop melodies as they used to. No matter, I get the feeling this band will continue to quietly release 10-song batches of exacting, sugary-sweet angst like this one well into the future. After all, they're barely out of high school. Buy Soft Will here.

8. Bent Shapes -- Feels Weird -- Father/Daughter

Allston basement heroes done good, a classic story archetype you'll find with some regularity within this list. With their debut LP Feels Weird, indie-pop heroes Bent Shapes compiled and cleaned up a proverbial murderer's row of tracks they'd released in various formats (and production fidelities) to create a collection for the ages. A pre-release P-Fork album stream helped build buzz and landed them favorable reviews across the board, and their release show at Great Scott was one our favorites of the year. Not a bad year for the artists formerly known as Girlfriends, I'd say. Buy Feels Weird here.

9. Youth Lagoon -- Wondrous Bughouse -- Fat Possum

You wouldn't know it from the sound of his early singles, but Trevor Powers is quite the arranger. Where his debut under the Youth Lagoon moniker, The Year of Hibernation, exuded hushed tones and reverb-heavy keys, Powers went HD on this affair, trading up for expansive, panoramic production and hard-hitting live drums. This was far and away the best pure psych-rock album released in 2013; not bad considering this year also saw The Flaming Lips release a 24-hour-long song inside of a gummy skull head [total Krill wannabes -- Ed.] and a full-album tribute to The Stone Roses. A sparsely attended afternoon set at the first Boston Calling didn't do Powers justice, 'cause he brings the proverbial it live, too. Buy Wondrous Bughouse here.

10. Pity Sex -- Feast of Love -- Run For Cover

This record had all the trappings of what my friends call a "typical Dillon album:" Blown-out guitar production? Check. Boy/girl call-and-response vocals? Check. A mash-up of two classically "indie" sounds? Check. And last, but not least, a groan-inducingly un-Googleable name? Why, of course. Suffice to say, I fell hard for this Ann Arbor quartet's razor-sharp emo-gaze, and early album highlight "Keep" is still a go-to for my own version of the Seth Cohen starter kit. Buy Feast Of Love here.

December 17, 2013

Clicky Clicky Music Blog's Top Albums Of 2013: Jay Edition

Clicky Clicky Music Blog Top Albums Of 2013 -- Jay Edition

More so than in any of the 13 years in which we've devoted too much time to writing about music, it feels silly to pick the best of it for 2013. So much of what we heard this year was wonderful, and the year certainly exceeded our expectations. This despite our fervently held belief that there is *always*, every year, an abundance of excellent music waiting to be discovered; the trick is finding it. Which is kind of why this blog is here. And while we struggled with tough decisions that excluded deserving acts including Fat History Month, Heyward Howkins, It Hugs Back and Bent Shapes from the final top 10, well, dammit, rules are rules. We're going to have one more year-end list coming by the end of the week, top albums selections from our indefatigable Staff Writer Dillon Riley. Before we let you get to Executive Editor Jay's picks below, we want to take this opportunity to thank you for reading Clicky Clicky Music Blog. We try to do things a bit differently here, by offering more insight and analysis, more background and context. We hope the quality of the product makes reading about music here something you value. And another quick thanks for everyone, both bands and fans, who supported the Lilys comp And I Forgot A Long Time Ago How You Feel, as well as the Community Servings benefit show we presented last month. Music is important; we believe that with every fiber of our being. It matters. Below is a list of the albums that, in Jay's estimation, mattered the most in 2013.
1. Speedy Ortiz -- Major Arcana -- Carpark Records

While success outside the four corners of the record sleeve isn't something our year-end lists take into consideration, it's hard to draw any conclusions other than 2013 was owned by Speedy Ortiz, one of the hardest-working rock bands in the rock music-making business. Within the four corners of the record, it is easy to hear why: Speedy Ortiz makes the sophisticated sort of guitar music we want to listen to a lot. Indeed, Major Arcana, with its full-frontal guitars, churning rhythm section and engaging articulations of frustration and decathection, is immediate and gratifying. To paraphrase a singer from a different band discussed below, there ain't a stinker on it. We reviewed Major Arcana for Vanyaland right here in July; buy it from Carpark Records here.

2. Krill -- Lucky Leaves -- Self-Released

"Just go ahead, climb into my head," is what Lucky Leaves seems to say, leaning down and tipping its comically over-sized cranium toward you, snapping the clamps behind the ears upwards and open, and lifting off the top. "It's kinda weird in here," it goes on, although it is kind of hard to tell whether the record is talking to you or itself when it says that. "Never mind the other dude in there, he's harmless. He's actually got a pretty good band, you should check them out... though he said something about them breaking up? Half the time I don't know what he's on about." We reviewed Lucky Leaves here in June; buy it here (and tick-tock: we're given to understand there are fewer than 40 copies of the first vinyl pressing left for sale).

3. Veronica Falls -- Waiting For Something To Happen -- Slumberland

This was our go-to record for the first half of 2013, and we continue to put it on often. Eminently listenable British guitar pop. The songwriting on the album is so strong that the album feels like a singles compilation. What's more, Waiting For Something To Happen features one of the very best songs of the year, the wistful ode to young love "Teenager." The nagging question of seeing this record at number three on the list is whether that placement, ultimately, can be traced to the enjoyment we got seeing or otherwise interacting with the members of the bands mentioned above. Whatever the reason, the aggregate play counts across ITunes, etc., don't lie. This record is so good even Clicky Clicky Mom liked it when it was played during her visits to HQ; a fairly rare feat, this liking (it was accomplished previously by two admittedly amazing records, Okay Paddy's The Cactus Has A Point -- link -- and Spoon's Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga). Buy Waiting For Something To Happen from Slumberland right here.

4. My Bloody Valentine -- mbv -- Self-Released

We recently discussed mbv with a friend, specifically its surprise release -- and everyone's mad dash to the My Bloody Valentine web site to purchase and listen to this tremendous new collection -- and how that release has been one of the very few communally shared experiences in modern indie rock. That pulse-pounding excitement was totally appropriate, especially given how great mbv is, and the dissonance of that excitement butting up against such a serene-sounding album opener, "She Found Now," perhaps only heightened the experience. My Bloody Valentine's follow-up to its legendary Loveless is terrific, offering not only familiarity (with its cooed vocals and bending guitars), but also an explanation of sorts ("In Another Way" manifests Kevin Shields' purported fixation with jungle, albeit years and years and years after that fixation was a topic of conversation). As gratifying as mbv is, perhaps most gratifying of all is Mr. Shields' uncompromising approach to the business of music; we'd say "outspokenness" if perhaps he spoke more often, although the interviews he's given over the past year are all amazing. Shields' is a singular sonic vision, and hopefully one that will be as inspiring to bands as Loveless has been. This 2013 collection extends and burnishes the deep MBV legacy; buy it here.

5. Los Campesinos! -- No Blues -- Wichita/Turnstyle

Big, bold and beautiful is what this is. While we are still unsettled by the revelation that No Blues was almost not made (the band had apparently considered hanging up its boots), that doesn't in any way diminish how enjoyable it is. Indeed, it's as accomplished a collection as Cardiff-based Los Campesinos! has made. The singles still punch hard, the album cuts are just as rich and soundly conceived. Fronter Gareth Campesinos' lyrics remain sharp and affecting, a feat all the more impressive given his stated practice of writing them as late as possible into the recording process. Let us not overlook just how neat a trick it is that so many of the lyrics center around football, yet still communicate as strongly as when he addresses affairs of the heart (perhaps it is no trick: football -- that's soccer to you, Yank -- is an affair of the heart to Gareth). The single "Avocado, Baby," with is ridiculously catchy chant, just missed our year-end songs list, and other album highlights include "Cemetery Gaits" and "What Death Leaves Behind." We reviewed No Blues here last month; buy it from the band right here. Los Camp play a rare Boston date next month.

6. Radiator Hospital -- Something Wild -- Salinas

Now that we have published our year-end songs list, wherein we disclosed that we favored this collection over even the dynamite releases by scenemates Swearin' and Waxahatchee, it's probably little surprise to find Radiator Hospital sitting here. Call it pop-punk, call it emo, it doesn't matter: Something Wild is fun and emotional and engaging (not that those aforementioned collections from the respective bands of the sisters Crutchfield aren't these things; we just listened to Something Wild more, and math counts). Our own Dillon Riley reviewed the set right here in July; buy it from Salinas records here.

7. Calories -- III -- Self-Released

Here is the third of three self-released records on our year-end list, which, of course, says something about the Music Industry of Today. However, this is not the place for a dissection of the challenges faced by bands trying to sell music. Even so, when something as objectively super and as wildly ambitious as Calories' III isn't the subject of a label bidding war, we start to wonder what the hell is wrong with the world. III is the foursome's most confident and rewarding to date, building up from the stoney foundations of the monolithic post-punk of its early years to embrace looser structures and more varied aural topographies. Somewhere along the way Calories started to sound haunted; at the same time the band started to engage a yen to fluidly jam across larger and larger stretches of time. Now vocals are subdued, guitars are just as likely to be acoustic as electric, but the potency of Calories music is not diluted. The greatest cut from III, the amazing, 10-minute closer "Tropics," is almost an album unto itself. The tune commences with broad distorted chords, crashing symbols and forefronted oohs, shifts into a steady four-four rocker for a minute, and then transforms into a spiraling, poignant final movement that stretches across almost eight minutes. That tune in and of itself is worth about 10 bucks, but you can download III from Bandcamp here in exchange for as much money as you care to pay for it.

8. Ovlov -- am -- Exploding In Sound

The conventional wisdom among the indiescienti is that -- from a label standpoint -- 2013 belonged to Exploding In Sound Records, who issued not only Ovlov's am, but also Fat History Month's blindingly brilliant Bad History Month, and Kal Mark's Life Is Murder, among other fine sound recordings. Ovlov's noisy hooks on am are undenible, despite the aural sludge in which the Connecticut trio encases them on belters like "Nu Punk" and the cataclysmic opener "Grapes." Vintage Dinosaur Jr. is a popularly applied reference, but Ovlov's vibe is less backwoods goth and more conventional (the opener's melody, reinforced by backing vocals from Speedy Ortiz's Sadie Dupuis, echoes great tunes by more pop-leaning Clicky Clicky faves The Wannadies and Projekt A-ko). The music on am shakes and shudders with desperate energy, fuzz flies off the guitars and cymbals, and the whole waxy ball of wax is anchored to punishing snare hits and fronter Steve Hartlett's Mascis-esque yowl. All of which makes the record endlessly listenable. Buy am from Exploding In Sound right here.

9. Guillermo Sexo -- Dark Spring -- Midriff Records

Diving deeper within to explore sounds and textures in the studio, Boston psych-rock unit Guillermo Sexo yet maintain an admirable level of focus, which is brought to bear on the urgent and dreamy material on its fifth long player Dark Spring. The remarkably varied album touts two seven-minute-plus opuses (inluding "Meow Metal," which was recognized in our year-end, best songs list) that speak to the band's confidence and willingness to stretch out and chase ambitious ideas. The set's first third, however, features a slate of immediate and more concise rockers. The collection has a classic '70s feel, adventurous and with an almost narrative quality, making it perhaps the most "albumy" album on this year-end list. We reviewed Dark Spring right here in September; buy it from Midriff right here.

10. Joey Sweeney -- Long Hair -- La Société Expéditionnaire

Long Hair is like an old friend, almost literally: Joey Sweeney's only other solo set, the excellent Heartache Baseball, was released in 1995. That's basically a lifetime ago, during a figurative pause between his most well-known bands Barnabys and The Trouble With Sweeney, the latter of which released its final recording almost a decade ago. This new and fresh solo collection has shed the youthful confusion, dyspeptic romances and coffee nerves that concerned Mr. Sweeney as a younger songwriter. Long Hair, instead, is confident and amused by life, and only a little world-weary. The well-measured, nicely orchestrated set distills decades of Philadelphia's rock and pop into nine songs that feel like a memoir: here is the park where the toughs trashed Sweeney for having new wave hair; there is the bar where the sweetest romantic conquest lifted a heavy heart. The record is highlighted by what might be the most direct piece of songwriting on the set, "Records And Coffee," Sweeney's ode to reliable comforts -- which is what Long Hair turns out to be. Stream selections from the record below, or the entire shebang gratis via this link to Buy Long Hair here.

December 16, 2013

Clicky Clicky Music Blog's Top Songs Of 2013

Clicky Clicky Music Blog Top Songs Of 2013 -- Jay Edition

So, songs. Songs out of context, for the most part, if you adhere to the belief that the album is, to bastardize The Bard, the thing. And though we cling to the primacy of the album as an Art Form -- admittedly probably out of a nostalgia for the linear listening of our youth -- we can't ignore our fixation with the song. Which, now that we think about it, is sort of a life-long pursuit. Countless are the hours we've spent across more than three decades BUTNOTFOURYETSHUTUP picking the hits, either by making mix tapes (dicatphonin' The Beatles LPs off the record player, tapin' off the radio, yo) or sequencing DJ sets, and of course there's this here blog. Clicky Clicky's entire premise is picking the hits, at least as we hear them, and under cover of this overlong and unnecessary paragraph we bring you our favorite 10 songs released in the calendar year 2013. Now sounds all, but as we think about the selections below it occurs to us that we like many of these "now sounds" for some wispy connection they give us to things we've loved in (or about) the past. The rush of adolescent infatuation as portrayed by Veronica Falls' "Teenage," the boundless psychedelic reach of Guillermo Sexo's guitar-heavy head piece "Meow Metal," and everything in between -- each one connects strongly with us, and we hope you will consider these songs, and perhaps find a favorite among them you've not encountered previously. Our albums list will follow later this week. Thanks for reading Clicky Clicky in 2013; you're all stars.
1. Veronica Falls -- "Teenage" -- Waiting For Something To Happen

Sing now, muse, of the innocence, mystery, freedom and longing of adolescence, and the safe little bubble that it all transpires within. From behind a coy fringe of hair Veronica Falls' Roxanne Clifford earnestly delivers the lyrics to "Teenage" -- which charm us more and more with each listen -- and memorably harmonizes with co-fronter and guitarist James Hoare. With its indelible melodies, big guitars, noodly leads and a simple, steady rhythm, "Teenage" is quintessential indie rock, a timeless single, and our favorite song of the year. Buy Waiting For Something To Happen from the consistently amazing Slumberland Records right here.

"...driving late at night, I'll let you listen to the music you like..."

2. Radiator Hospital -- "Our Song" -- Something Wild

We suppose this is the flip-side of the coin vis a vis the idealized teenage love story conveyed in our selection above. But damn it if it doesn't have pep and charm, despite its vivid recounting of a relationship coming apart. Folks looking for some representation of the crucial West Philly scene in this year's list (you know, Swearin', Waxahatchee) will have to just accept that we listened to the Radiator Hospital record more [we reviewed it here], as great as Surfing Strange and Cerulean Salt are. Some of that has to do with timing, of course: as stated in years past, our year-end lists are heavily weighted toward aggregate play counts for current-year releases. So, albums that come out earlier in the year are rewarded if they've got staying power, which we think counter-balances a temptation to be totally high on the latest thing at the end of the year, to the detriment of the early releases. But discussion of that hokum obscures just how memorable and accomplished Something Wild and, in particular, "Our Song" are. Go ahead, try to listen to it just once. Buy Something Wild right here.

"...sometimes I hear you crying alone in the shower, and I don't make a sound..."

3. Krill -- "Theme From Krill" -- Lucky Leaves

As we've said in prior years, a lot of the entries on our year-end songs list get there because they are songs that we couldn't stop singing to ourself while doing all manner of mundane things, changing diapers, walking dogs, retrieving the car after a long day in the office. And while there are probably very few Krill fans in the high-rise office building that contains the door upon the back of which we hang our coat each morning, we heard more than a few folks from "the scene" singing "Krill, Krill, Krill forever" to themselves this year. It's a bizarre -- and bizarrely catchy -- anthem about the division of the self, the thinking behind which fronter Jonah Furman has explained here and elsewhere. We'd say something here about the difficulty and rarity of catching that sort of musical lightning in a bottle, but most Clicky Clicky readers have already heard the new Krill single, which is strong evidence that the band's facility for writing hooks around engaging ideas and concepts thrives. But the one in "Theme From Krill" will likely not be forgotten any time soon. Stream it below, and buy Lucky Leaves right here.

"...and I got sick of him, and he got sick of me..."

4. Speedy Ortiz -- "No Below" -- Major Arcana

We pegged this loping waltz, which ended up being the second single from Major Arcana, as a favorite during our very first listen to the pre-release promotional copy of Speedy's brilliant full-length debut (which debut has sparked the quartet's meteoric rise into the national consciousness, tours with The Breeders, Los Campesinos!, Stephen Malkmus and the like). "No Below" is not as gnarly and confident as "Tiger Tank," not as unhinged and exciting as the final chaotic moments of the album closer "MKVI." Instead, it's got a lot of patience. And a lot of space that leaves room for fronter Sadie Dupuis' vocal -- so small in that first verse, with the slightest vibrato to her elongated vowels -- to draw you into her confidence and then bore right into your soul. It's a(n apparently) confessional, outsider ballad. The final minute bursts open with several bars of big guitars and then a few more quiet lines from Dupuis before the song winks shut. Perfect song-writing, memorializing some little moments, dynamiting others. Buy Major Arcana from Carpark right here.

"...spent the summer on crutches, and everybody teased..."

5. My Bloody Valentine -- "She Found Now" -- mbv

The opening moments of this tune are tattooed on the minds of the long-suffering and totally amazed My Bloody Valentine fans, a vast international horde that early this year shared in a too-rare Internet-age communal experience: the shock and awe of the surprise release in February of the London act's 22-years-in-the-making sequel to its legendary Loveless LP. After clawing and scratching our way onto a web site crumbling under the fan demand, the first of the spoils was the beautiful "She Found Now." The tune whispers reassurance to us as the soft fuzz of the bass wraps listeners in a warm embrace, chiming guitars arcing, bending and layering. One of the larger tragedies for young people is the realization that people we love inevitably change; whatever the reason ultimately was, My Bloody Valentine didn't evolve in any sort of jarring manner, delivering a sublime set of recordings, "She Found Now" included. Buy the record from the band right here.

" could be the one..."

6. Fleeting Joys -- "Kiss A Girl In Black" -- digital single

For the last seven years the one shoegaze act that consistently filled that My Bloody Valentine-shaped hole in our heart was Fleeting Joys. And as none of us knew at the onset of 2013 that MBV was preparing its surprise release, we were relieved when Fleeting Joys issued this new single in the first week of January. The intoxicating "Kiss A Girl In Black," all buzz-saw, bending guitars and murmured vocals, raised our hopes for yet more music from FJ with the indication at Bandcamp that it was taken from the band's forthcoming third long-player. Just about a year later we are still waiting (sound familiar) for that third LP, but that wait has been tempered by dozens upon dozens of listens to the stunning "Kiss A Girl In Black," which is embedded for streaming below. Click through the purchase the track.


7. Karl Marks -- "Out In The Deep" -- Life Is Murder

Karl Shane's acoustic performance of this number at Great Scott in July at the Major Arcana record release show was riveting. The song, a spare and gothic lament, is mournful yet electrifying. And when Mr. Shane goes for those desperate final lines after fomenting a storm of grungy guitar and exploding drums, the hair stands up on the back of our neck, every time. In his review, our scribe Dillon Riley highlighted the fact that there is a fair amount of humor to be found in the LP this song arrived on, but we don't hear any of that on "Out In The Deep." Gripping and dramatic, the song is the closer on Kal Marks' 2013 collection Life Is Murder; buy it right here.

"...and I will fall from a great height..."

8. Hallelujah The Hills -- "Honey, Don't It All Seem So Phony" -- Portrait Of The Artist As A Young Trash Can

Historically, we think we can all agree that new material worked up to make an odds 'n' sods compilation more attractive to the music consumer often tends to be nice but not completely remarkable. Remember that relatively recent 'Mats song "Message To The Boys?" It's good, right? But it probably is the last thing to come to mind when you think of The Replacements. Well, by way of contrast, this Hallelujah The Hills track, which made its first appearance on just such a compilation released in May, is a three-alarm fire of what fronter Ryan Walsh calls "chord-based cosmic Americana." Lines of smart lyrics levied rapid-fire over top strident strummery, "Honey, Don't It All Seem So Phony" wins with its witty recitation of failures, foibles and, sort of hidden right there in plain sight, some true unvarnished sentiment. Mr. Walsh takes the song out with a soaring call to arms, but at that point he doesn't have to sell hard: he had us from the first line. Buy Portrait Of The Artist As A Young Trash Can right here.

"...I saw you breaking down in a magazine, and I never told a soul what it meant to me, now I'm on a mission fueled by LSD, trying to break these patterns..."

9. Slowdim -- "Up Stream" -- Slowdim

Another tune with a hook that just won't leave us. We probably could have mastered a foreign language if we had otherwise used the time we spent this year just singing to ourselves the line from the pre-chorus of "Up Stream," "it's OK if you can't remember." The song is a big, bright rocker with great vocal harmonies and clever composition, showcasing what many around these parts know well: Slowdim fronter Paul Sentz is a crazy talented songwritin' mofo. "Up Stream" opened the band's self-titled full-length debut, which was released in March. Buy Slowdim right here.

"... it's ok if you can't remember your name..."

10. Guillermo Sexo -- "Meow Metal" -- Dark Spring

Our year-end list this year has leaned hard toward songs with hooks versus songs with an intense vibe. Well, here's your intense vibe. An other-worldly, epic prog-influenced rocker, a headphones-required exploration of the places that only the veteran Boston-based psych-pop juggernaut Guillermo Sexo can take you. We've never taken steps to confirm or deny that this tune is just about living with a spooky cat, probably because we're afraid knowing one way or the other might somehow diminish the beautiful mystery painted here with Reuben Bettsak's 10 million guitars and singer/keyboardist/birthday girl Noell Dorsey's entrancing vocals. Despite being more than seven minutes in length, "Meow Metal" is not the longest tune on Dark Spring, but it is perhaps the best at capturing the zeitgeist of what Guillermo Sexo was about in 2013. Dark Spring was released by Midriff in September; buy it right here.

"...I saw you first, I have no idea what you see..."

December 12, 2013

Today's Hotness: Ringo Deathstarr, Boston Does Boston

Ringo Deathstarr -- Gods Love

>> The 2014 album announcements are coming fast and furious these days, with Clicky Clicky faves Speedy Ortiz, Krill and The War On Drugs all making (albeit expected) disclosures of this sort in recent days. We noted yet another over at the Clicky Clicky Facebook page Monday, but given our enduring love for noise-pop heroes Ringo Deathstarr we wanted to reiterate here the news: the Austin-based trio will release a new collection, Gods Dream, in the U.S. in 2014. The set is being released first in Japan Dec. 18 via the Vinyl Junkie label, so if you are in Japan, feel blessed. A preview track, "Flower Power," is already available to people of all nations; in addition to being awesome, the song features guest guitar work from the legendary Swervedriver fronter Adam Franklin (we should note here that Swervedriver also issued to the wilds of the Internerds recently two new songs that are terrific). "Flower Power" opens with two barking guitar chords and a rhythmic red herring; after the first half-minute the song explodes into a four-on-the-floor belter that re-centers the beat and then gets progressively heavier and more manic with each passing bar, until an oasis of melodic, calm interrupts the frenzy and resets the song, allowing it to establish a slow, elegiac groove. This being Ringo Deathstarr, the serenity persists but unsurprisingly crumbles, giving way to a final 40 seconds of grind. "Flower Power" is an auspicious taste of a record we expect we will listen to quite a lot in 2014; there is as yet no information about a label or release date for what is hopefully an inevitable domestic release. Vinyl Junkie's web site indicates the record has nine tracks, including three that are exclusive to the Japanese release, so maybe Gods Dream is actually an EP? Hard to say what a domestic release will look like until it is announced. While we wait, stream "Flower Power" via the Soundcloud embed below. We reviewed The Deathstarr's 2011 debut full-length Colour Trip here, and its 2012 collection Mauve right here.

>> It's the sheer magnitude of the effort that impresses us most about Boston Does Boston, a new, two-disc benefit compilation that features local independent rock combos covering one another's work. Proceeds from the sale of the set will be donated to the Animal Rescue League of Boston, which means the set gets our vote pretty much right out of the gate. Besides the production costs of the CDs, everything else related to making Boston Does Boston happen was donated -- right down to the studio time, the art and the mastering -- which is pretty wonderful, and speaks to the kindness in the music community in our fair burg. The running order of the formidable collection is daisy-chained across 26 songs, with each artist or act covering a song by the next artist/act performing the following track. So, for example, Clicky Clicky fave Ted Billings (who is actually now based in Brooklyn) covers former Elevator Drops guitarist Garvy J.'s "Celebrate," then Garvy J. covers Sarah Rabdau and Self-Employed Assassins' "Pavement Prophet," and so forth. The biggest hooks might just be in I, Pistol's blazing version of The Michael J. Epstein Memorial Library's anthemic "Amylee." Relatively new power-pop act Parks' take on Corin Ashley's "Badfinger Bridge" is another one that will have you hitting the "back" button on your IPod (or having you root around in there for Mr. Ashley's criminally-lost-in-the-shuffle-by-us 2013 collection New Lion Terraces -- hear it at Spotify). Boston Does Boston is a lot of music to take in all at once; perhaps that makes the holiday season the best time to release it, a time when folks might have a chance to put their feet up and really dig in. There will be not one, not two, but three CD release shows, beginning tomorrow night at Brighton Music Hall. Full details of the three events can be found here, here and here, and you can purchase the collection via this Bandcamp page. Can't make it to the show? Want to do more than just buy a CD? There are lots of different ways to support the very good work the Animal Rescue League performs. Read more about that right here.

December 11, 2013

Today's Hotness: Burning Alms, Markus Guentner

2/3 of Burning Alms

>> It feels like a conspiracy. Whenever any one of the three bands that make up the Birmingham, England cohort of Calories, Burning Alms and Sunshine Frisbee Laserbeam does something, it increasingly has become the case that one or both of the other bands follows suit, and in doing so overwhelm hapless music bloggers the world over. Or at least us. And so it was last month we were minding our business one morning when Burning Alms floated a new track, the bludgeoning anthem "Matadors," out into the digital ether. The very next morning Calories dropped a bomb, announcing that it had released for free to the Internerds its hotly anticipated third long-player, III. We've finally caught our breath three weeks later, enough anyway to tell you about "Matadors" (we'll leave a discussion of III for next week). The song charges out of the gate with a bright, open chord that drones into the greedy embrace of a galloping rhythm section. A second chord is momentarily applied at the end of each verse, and then the sprint is on again. In lieu of a chorus, Burning Alms -- which is apparently presently composed of 3/4 of Calories, namely Thomas Mark Whitfield, John Robert Biggs, and uber-producer/former Sunset Cinema Club guy Dom James -- offers only scraping, discordant guitars. It's an exciting exercise despite its minimal approach to melody; instead pace, energy and tension take center stage. If there is an irony here, it's that of the three interrelated rock acts mentioned supra, Burning Alms has heretofore provided the most quiet music (although all of the older tracks have been scrubbed from the Internet), and the most reserved Internet presence (which is an achievement in itself, given that Calories and Sunshine Frisbee Laserbeam do very little to promote themselves). With Calories' III and Sunshine Frisbee Laserbeam's self-titled full-length now out, it would seem the next to drop has to be from Burning Alms. Given how exciting "Matadors" is, we have very high expectations for the full-length, which has apparently was a year in the making and is called In Sequence. Mixing of the album was to have been completed Nov. 30, and we're told the album is done and the band intends to tour to support it in 2014, so now we just wait. Stream "Matadors" via the Bandcamp embed below, and click through to download the track for free. As an aside, we're dying to know why Burning Alms tagged "Matadors" with the word Pennsylvania on Bandcamp... as that is our home state... and they are from England. Always intriguing, these guys.

>> We’re becoming increasingly familiar with the Brooklyn- and Ann Arbor-based electronic label Moodgadget, as their well-curated roster and releases continue to match our tastes well. The label's latest digital release features German ambient artist Markus Guentner, who we have somehow managed to not write about in more than five years. Mr. Guentner's new collection is titled Shadows Of The City, and it is a stirring and introspective set populated by endless, synth-toned skies. While most of the compositions follow a similar route, layering harmony after harmony over several simple chords, each one stimulates a different mood. A highlight of the set, "Ashes," adheres to the drone formula with a steady, unwavering series of icy harmonies that slowly churn and cascade over one another in a peaceful meditation. The full and resonant production leverages well Guentner's facility with blending tones and frequencies, so that circular melodies and rhythms emerge from the gaping expanses that initially confront the listener. As on the title track, Guentner adds a steady drum pulse that tethers the tune to some Euro-house roots -- further abetting the sound of train tracks and swooping flange-synth that glide through the song. Shadows Of The City is best experienced in a single sitting; its 48 minutes are the perfect length for a morning jog, reading break, or headphone experience, with just the right amount of digital, electronic precision and intelligent ambient composing. Purchase the album on iTunes, here. -- Edward Charlton

December 9, 2013

Indie Rock Ranger Holiday Spectacular: Freezepop, Sidewalk Driver, Parks, Animal Talk, Harris Hawk | 14 Dec. | Middle East

Indie Rock Ranger Holiday Spectacular: Freezepop, Sidewalk Driver, Parks, Animal Talk, Harris Hawk | 14 Dec. | Middle East

Maybe, like us, you spend your commutes to and from work car-bound and following pre-schoolers' orders to dial between the two all-Christmas music stations presently on the FM spectrum in Boston, and the idea of more Christmas music makes you want to hit yourself in the head with a hammer. Fortunately, the ideas "holiday" and "music" can be separated, shaken up like a snow globe, and put back together in just a different enough way that you are no longer doomed to Karen Carpenter crooning on both 96.1 and 106.7 at once. Shake them right, wait for the faux snow to settle, and you just might find yourself at Indie Rock Ranger's Holiday Spectacular this Saturday at the Middle East Down. The evening is an auditory five-course meal of homegrown Boston rock and pop from the acts Animal Talk, Freezepop, Harris Hawk, Parks and Sidewalk Driver.

But wu-wu-wu-wait there's more. Did you miss your chance to get yourself down to Plymouth this past weekend for The Ash Gray Proclamation's Toys For Tots benefit show? If you did, and even if you didn't, Anngelle Wood's Holiday Toy Drive to benefit the DCF Kids Fund is happening during the Holiday Spectacular as well. If you've got a little extra scratch to spread around to help make the holiday better for a kid getting through a tough situation, pick up a new, unwrapped toy on the way to the show and toss it at host con most and exemplary human Richard Bouchard, who will surely wonder why people are throwing toys at him (SHHHHHH! let's let it be a surprise!). Ms. Wood wisely points out that toys are great, but there are older foster kids out there who might get a smile out of a gift card, electronics, games, art supplies, music, videos, books, clothing, hats, gloves, scarves, stuff like that. Cash is always good, too. Another way to get your money into the worthy hands of DCF is to buy a print of the awesome show poster situated atop this blog post. That'd look good all framed up in the rec room, right? Get one for $10 at the show, and that money goes to DCF courtesy of the good people behind Daykamp Creative.

So what about these rock and roll bands playing? Do they make good rock and roll music? They do! The line-up is tilted toward dance-rock acts that will surely have the joint jumping. But we're particularly interested in the openers, the relatively new hard rockers Harris Hawk, whose sound draws heavily from like-minded bands working between, say, '76 and '86. On their epic jam "Sweetness," Harris Hawk come across like mid-'70s Heart riffing on Zeppelin's "Babe I'm Gonna Leave You," which we think we can all agree is a good thing. But it's the song that leads into that one that first fired our imagination. "Intermissionary" is an atmospheric interlude that functions a lot like Van Halen's "Intruder" on 1982's Diver Down, building tension that is released with the commencement of the ensuing track. We'd be totally stoked if Harris Hawk jammed out on "Intermissionary" for 10 minutes during their set Saturday. Find out if they do just that: buy tickets, buy a gift for the toy drive, and get over to the club when doors open at 8PM Saturday. You can do this.

December 8, 2013

Review: Heyward Howkins | Be Frank, Furness

While the year in music from Philadelphia will be best remembered for exceptional indie punk from ex-bandmate twins, the close of 2013 -- the release of Swearin's awesome Surfing Strange notwithstanding -- belongs to two remarkable folk-rock recordings from a different set of former bandmates, the scene veterans John Howkins, who performs under the nom de rock Heyward Howkins, and Joey Sweeney. We hope to deal with the latter's album another day, before the calendar turns over again.

It seems a rare occurrence that the contemporary music fan can sit back and remark with satisfaction at the maturity of a favorite artist or band. Gone are the days where artists had the financial support to work a masterpiece into the middle of their seven-album deal with, well, whoever. But the outmoded label system isn't even the problem. If anything, maturation itself -- and the tendency of the process to dim or extinguish that lightning-in-the-bottle, the je ne sais quoi, the piss, sex and fire of young acts -- tends to fuck up bands in the end. Often artfulness seems to fall by the wayside as songwriters inevitably want to take a shot at communicating more directly and plainly. Maybe certain fans want that from their favorite artists; this reviewer wants none of it, as such a desire seems to diminish or discourage lively abstraction, musical derring-do, vitality, the very rock and/or roll itself. There are exceptions to this, thankfully, and it is with great satisfaction we listen again and again to Heyward Howkins' latest offering, the fanciful and finely appointed sophomore collection Be Frank, Furness.

We're not sure which is more surprising, that the sophomore set from Howkins has come so quickly on the heels of his 2012 collection The Hale & Hearty [review], or that it is so very good. Mr. Howkins heretofore was best known to many as a guitarist in notable turn-of-the-century indie pop outfit The Trouble With Sweeney, which was ably fronted by the aforementioned Mr. Sweeney. But from a musical standpoint, Howkins was all-but-invisible after that combo folded in the mid-oughts. The release of The Hale & Hearty, however, seems to have opened a floodgate of creativity, such that Be Frank, Furness, is an even stronger, more vividly realized collection. On top of which, Howkins routinely posts additional music in the form of demos and oddities to his Soundcloud page. Whatever is fueling the onslaught, we'll take it.

Be Frank, Furness is balanced, pristine, and filled with bright, melodic and deftly composed pop. The productions are lush, with elements including horns and piano arranged around, but not ruled, by Howkins' guitar work. Mannered lyrics evoke images of chronologically remote, fantastical places, and highlight both Howkins' facility as a story-teller and his yen for regional history (the album's title is a play on the name of renowned Victorian Philadelphia architect Frank Furness, and Howkins is a man who traces his ancestry straight back to a signer of The Declaration Of Independence). The lyrics scan like memoirs from The Gilded Age: the last verse of the lush strummer "Sweet Tea Oleander" opens with the line "let's take a rumble seat up to Maine, we'll brush our teeth with champagne." Howkins' lilting voice and precise but occasionally curious diction limn the songs with an other-worldly flavor, even as the rootsy foundations of the songs reinforce a traditional vibration. Tunes like "Nogales" and "Praline Country" bounce with such a lightness they feel like they'll levitate despite their adornment with horns, harmonies, hand percussion and tremelo. Nearly every element -- the tastefully treated, always glistening lead guitars, the horns, the melodica -- convey a lyrical quality, supplying counter-melody and texture in ways that present almost as strongly as (but without overwhelming) Mr. Howkins' limber voice.

Howkins co-released Be Frank, Furness with BITBY last month; he plays a full-band release show in Philadelphia Thursday at Johnny Brenda's. Supporting acts include Needle Points, Christina Nietzsches. Be Frank, Furness is available as a digital download and in a very limited edition of 200 LPs, both of which can be acquired via Howkins' Bandcamp, which can be accessed by clicking through the stream of the album embedded below.

Heyward Howkins: Bandcamp | Internerds | Facebook

December 5, 2013

Today's Hotness: Palberta, The Derevolutions, Reindeer

Detail of the art from Palberta's My Pal Berta

>> My Pal Berta, the recently issued, self-released and free debut by upstate New York indie trio Palberta, sounds like a well-painted train about to derail: that's a good thing. The young co-eds that make up this no-wavey, dream-pop unit brim with ideas, raw energy and spunky charisma, which all find their way into My Pal Berta, a title which we presume is something of an homage to classic outsider rock act The Shaggs. Pal is an uncompromising assortment of savant post-punk noise moves and oddly heartening and forlorn backing vocals. A highlight of the set, the song "Sweat Pap," rides a deep, commanding bass groove before erupting into an exposition of the diverse elements of the threesome's sound. Soon after the start a duality emerges between the vocals, as a creepy, haunting background harmony underscores the lead singer's manic squeaks, squeals and exclamations. A menacing unpredictability in her leads manages to sound cute and terrifying at the same time. Meanwhile, the atonal guitar work recalls masters of the form, such as The Pop Group and Deerhoof, springing from melodic pings and scrapes to phased blasts of prickly distortion. This art-punk approach, and especially the devastating screams and grunts that eventually emerge, are delivered with such unwavering conviction that we cannot imagine Palberta staying below the radar for long. Like the hotly-tipped NY house-show now act Perfect Pussy, Palberta reveal an anxious and powerful female energy, and we can't wait to hear what happens next. Stream all of My Pal Berta via the Bandcamp embed below, and click through to download the album for any price. -- Edward Charlton

>> Now that My Bloody Valentine has finally delivered a sequel to Loveless after two decades, the burden of creating the next great follow-up arguably falls to the beloved Australian electronic troupe The Avalanches. Their 2000 classic Since I Left You not only was borne from strife similar to that which resulted in Loveless, but also the record from the Aussies similarly rewrote the rules of a genre and then -- abrupt silence. The wait continues, of course, but a recent single from an act called The Derevolutions reintroduces a similar sense of sample-heavy adventure that certainly calls to mind highlights of The Avalanches repertoire. The Derevolutions, as best as we can tell, hail from Northampton, Mass., and have been steadily releasing fresh slices of delicious sample-delica for months. Each song to date has featured fetching, new wave-inspired artwork, but otherwise carries nothing in terms of discographical detail other than a Mediafire link and a pointer to Facebook. That intentional anonymity only serves to heighten the mystique, in our opinion. Perhaps the best of The Derevolutions' small but blossoming catalog is the intoxicating "We Found That Beat." The tune rides an endless hook on its way to revealing a brilliant mixologists' song suite. "We Found The Beat" is more than just a killer groove, though: bouncy, bright guitars and echoey strings slide up against the undeniable Roland-808 backbeat to produce a syrupy bump-and-grind that induces serial head-nods, if not outright rug-cutting. Chirpy, cheerleader-esque vocals announce each new chorus and echo the kinetic and exuberant toasting of another early 21st century outfit, The Go! Team. The Derevolutions sugar-pop smarts and air of mystery make the act one to watch for 2014 within (and without) the increasingly thrilling Massachusetts music scene; two even newer tracks, the tropicalia-tinted "Crazy Janey" and the near-deliriously great "Pascualita," were recently added to this Soundcloud page (although now the latter has disappeared again... more mystery...), which we recommend monitoring closely. Stream "We Found That Beat" via the embed below, and click through to download it and the rest of The Derevolutions' brilliant offerings. -- Edward Charlton

>> It's very gratifying to see (well, hear) a longtime musical hero return from a prolonged absence with music that immediately lives up to their back catalog. It happened just last year with Kurt Heasley and his Lilys, via an amazing single "Well Traveled Is Protest" (not to mention Lilys' recently unveiled interpretation of the classic carol "Good King Wenceslas," which is streaming right here). "Well Traveled" reinforced the promise that the passage of time does not have to tarnish a unique mind. We feel the same excitement about Boston dream-pop luminary Seana Carmody and her new supergroup, Reindeer. The quartet, which also includes former members of Scarce, The Bevis Frond and Overflower, dazzles on two new tracks in ways similar to the mighty Swirlies of yore. "Tony," one of the aforementioned pair which surfaced at Bandcamp last month, is a subtly rolling, psychedelic indie pop strummer. Commencing with Carmody's cooing and reverse-delayed purrs, the tune quickly establishes a simple structure -- basic, yet rich with detail in the perfect tone of the guitars. Thereafter, Carmody's familiar lead comes into focus; time has not changed its innocent, child-like timbre and inflections. After the second minute, the song subtly slows in tempo and the guitars take on the same compressed and warbled vibrato character that coursed like blood throughout Swirlies' tremendous BlonderTongueAudioBaton. "Tony" is immediately joyous, albeit perhaps in a hard to define way (that may have more to do with nostalgia than we'd like to admit, since that makes us feel old). The second track, "Blue & White," is perhaps even more affecting, with a wistful melody, denser guitars and a more poignant vocal. Each song is available for a dollar at Bandcamp, and worth a lot more. Buy two, three, even ten copies, as perhaps that money will go toward a future Reindeer album that will bristle with more of these great compositions. We've embedded both tracks below for your auditory enjoyment. -- Edward Charlton

December 4, 2013

We're Trapped Inside The Song Where The Nights Are So Long: Clicky Clicky Speaks To Krill's Jonah Furman About Deep Shit Like Divisions Of The Self And The Beast Within

[Images by Jonah Furman and Noah Furman] Time And Relative Dimension In Space is a mouthful of words, which is why it is almost always acronymed, but it has some bearing here, so please indulge the introductory tangent. It's a fictional thing from a teevee series and series of books, the TARDIS is, and on the outside it appears to be a large phone booth (it's not a proper phone booth, but most of our readers are American, so let's just go with "phone booth"). The important thing to know for now is that while this time-traveling, spaceship thingo appears to be the size of a phone booth on the outside, it is (as a result of unspecified extraterrestrial magic/technology) impossibly larger on the inside. Which is a lot like the music of Krill, the Boston-based post-punk trio whose music angularly jangles and thumps while the fronter, the titular Jonah Furman whose name you see above, sings about bugs and fear and loathing and psychological mutineering and negating the self and Dostoevsky -- the harder you listen, the bigger (and deeper) it all gets. Which is, coincidentally, a lot like what we experienced when we cobbled the interview together.

Cards on the table: this was conceived as a bit of a perfunctory exercise. We're friends with the fine people at The Ash Gray Proclamation blog, who are hosting a benefit show this Saturday for Toys For Tots down in Plymouth, MA. So we thought, hey, let's see if we can help promote the cause by running a timely feature with one of the bands. Synergy! Shake your groove thing! Having vibrated heavily to Krill's 2013 LP Lucky Leaves [review here], the choice of who we wanted to interview was easy. However, the incredibly forthright and thoughtful responses below from Mr. Furman -- who is quick to emphasize he is but one of three dudes who comprise Krill, and that Krill is not "his" band -- exceeded our expectations for the feature many times over, and it became clear very quickly that this interview was going to outsize the convenient excuse upon which it was premised. Indeed, the exchange below prompts that jarring realization that, at least for Furman, the music of Krill is not as much about self-expression as it is a framework used to explore big ideas about philosophy and life. The ideas Furman spit-balls in response to our clumsy interrogation are so large and pure they potentially seep into everything, their ontological protoplasm sliming and absorbing by (our own excited) extrapolation things as far-flung as Bad Brains' I Against I and Silver Jews' Starlight Walker, not to mention works by David Foster Wallace and Dostoevsky, and on and on and on. The ideas extend, we are told infra, to Krill's forthcoming EP, Steve Hears Pile In Malden And Bursts Into Tears, which was formally announced today over at the Gum de Stereo. We're grateful to Jonah for the generous gift of his time and the focus and attention he brought to our exchange. As we mentioned supra, Krill performs this Saturday at the New World Cafe in Plymouth, MA as part of For All Good Kids, The Ash Gray Proclamation's Toys For Tots benefit show that also features Hallelujah The Hills, Guillermo Sexo and a special opening set from The Hush Now's Noel Kelly. The show will rage and all the details are right here. Now, on to the interview with Krill's Jonah Furman.

Clicky Clicky: 2013 was probably something of a mindfuck for Krill. Early in the year the band was confronted with the prospect of Lucky leaving, the band's future was uncertain, you lived in a mansion and then you didn't live in a mansion. Now, at the other end of the year, the LP is out to not-insignificant acclaim and you are signed to Exploding In Sound and presumably you are not homeless. If Present Day Jonah could pull some sort of tesseract move right now and go back in time to talk to Endless Winter 2013 Jonah, would you tell yourself "everything is going to work out?" Would that have been the most important thing for the band to know?

Jonah Furman: man, knuckle deep on the first one, good. yeah well hm, let's see. the whole story of krill's history is so tangled as to be boring and i always have trouble answering the q of "when did the band start?" but september/october 2012 was definitely our first tour and the first time that krill was our main thing. i was broke as hell and depressed and my girlfriend had just moved to siberia and i started reading a lot of dostoevsky that december, and listening to [Fat History Month's] fucking despair and thinking about will, commitment, suffering, weakness, and krill. i was constantly talking about breaking up the band and that was months before luke got into grad school. 'theme from krill' was [a] half painful cynical thing about the band breaking up, the twisted bug in me that tends to self-destruction, and then it was beautifully reinforced by 'lucky leaving,' which he announced in february. the other half i guess is the hopeful side, saying 'tho it's over this moment will be tattooed in time forever' and alluding to how we did sort of create a whole universe of meaning for ourselves, thus the self-reference (which i could go on and on about). anyhow i'm not really answering your question am i. what happened? so luke said he was splitting & at first we were thinking that'd mean a 'hiatus' but aaron and i didn't want to do that so we decided either we'd break up or we'd find a new drummer and then ian came along and moved out to boston and the engine churned on. without getting too personal about stuff, life is surprisingly, shockingly the same between November 2013 and November 2012 ~~ living in the Whitehaus (a different sort of mansion) with no heat (same as last winter) with USD $11 in my bank account, feelin sorry for myself like a chump. More blogs have written about the band and we play more and better shows now, and, yeah, like i said, the engine churns. So it's not like we're livin it up by any means, but yeah, I guess the external validation has helped a bit? How do I not sound like a whiner? But also what I wanted to say (god this answer is too long) is that the suffering and the is-krill-gonna-break-up thing was crucial to the whole thing, and for a while (to our detriment, in trying to get labels to release it) we called LL a concept album about our band breaking up. & truth be told, the next thing, Steve Hears Pile etc...., is also about breaking up ~~ so who knows? Good thing i can't teserract, i'd fuck it all up.

CC: In "Theme From Krill" we learned there is a bug inside the narrator. Lucky Leaves was initially sold as a USB lodged in a cheeseball. And the forthcoming EP is about two dudes who are apparently inside a Pile song, at least in a manner of speaking. All of which makes me think of the Silver Jews song "New Orleans," where in the coda Mssrs. Malkmus and Berman chant "we're trapped inside the song" over and over. That would be a great song for Krill to cover, incidentally. But it also makes me think about how Krill likes to think about things that are in other things, sometimes hiding, sometimes revealing. So far this is a pretty terrible question, right?

JF: this question rules. actually asking about like 'what are your songs about?' which is pretty crucial for a band that writes songs that mostly are about stuff. i don't know that Silver Jews song, I'm gonna listen to it now.

OK i got distracted and wasted 30 minutes on the internet. where were we. ah, yeah. that's a great question. i mean, maybe it's not a great question but it's talking about actual interests and yeah i'd say krill lyrics are deeply concerned with stuff 'in' other stuff, mostly split versus whole selves, being torn or being unified, which just today i was thinking about how maybe that'll be the next krill full-length theoretical scaffolding -- r.d. laing's 'the divided self', f.m. dostoevsky's raskolnikov, d.f. wallace's lane dean jr., drew beckmore's 'everything unseen'. i could go on and on but maybe won't. i'll talk krill theories all day long though, helps me figure out what they actually are. incidentally you got me back on one of my favorite songs, silkworm's 'couldn't you wait.'

CC: Before we jump topics, what else can you tell me about Steve Hears Pile In Malden And Bursts Into Tears? We know it's an EP, we roughly know the larger concept at work, and we know it will be released on vinyl and digital. Did anything surprise you about the EP, after you had recorded it and were able to sit back and listen to it straight through?

JF: i can tell you lots of things about the EP, way more than you'd care to hear. first to answer your q: i'm sick of the fuckin thing by now and can't really stand to listen to it anymore after mixing, mastering, all that. it's to some extent an artifact, being Luke's Final Act before he left the band. i don't think it's all that cohesive as a 'concept album' and there are 1 or 2 tracks that didn't make the cut that would've fleshed out the concept but basically... I ripped the title from this weird academic exegetical essay called "Dostoevsky Reads Hegel in Siberia and Bursts Into Tears" by F. Laszlo Foldenyi (sp.?) that basically talks about how Hegel said history doesn't happen in Siberia and how Dost likely encountered that bit of Hegel while he himself was in fact in Siberia and the idea is that Malden is Siberia to Allston's Germany and Steve and Mouth are these two kids who live together in Malden and want to form a band and be friends with Pile but are so deeply in their own way and so outside of the 'scene' and 'conversation.' I mean it goes quite a bit deeper than that, and more tangled, in that the character's names and basic positions are ripped from a Pile song, "Steve's Mouth," in which there's this great line: "Steve woke up sitting on his own head, sobbing, couldn't breathe. He had a dream that Mouth died because Steve had to eat." -- which, yeah, again is about self-destruction, divisions of the self, your Mouth separating and being treated as a whole full entity... I don't know, the idea was that Steve is this infinite outwardness, wanting to form this band and go on tour with Pile but feels crushed by the external world, like he can't possibly match up, and Mouth is this infinite negativity, wanting to kill himself or leave boston or basically just abandon all dreams. which, you know, are two factors krill dealt with and deals with a lot... i don't know. it's not really a cohesive thing, like i said, but it's sort of about krill, pile, dostoevsky, boston, and depression, in five disjointed tracks.

[Here comes the worst segue you will ever read in an interview published in this or any publication in the post-Gutenberg-era -- Ed.]

CC: So you're playing this Toys For Tots benefit show Saturday. Can you remember as a kid having an obsession with a particular toy? In your experience, with regards to toys or otherwise, have you ever gotten something you wanted badly, and then realized that wanting it was actually more satisfying than having it?

JF: used to play a lot of magic cards as a kid. one time i bought a pack and told my parents, after the fact, that i didn't really want it and they asked why i bought it and i made up an excuse about how maybe one of the cards could be valuable and i could sell it and then my dad sort of tore me a new one about how gambling works and i remember him taking out a pair of dice and showing me what an idiot i was. what you say about wanting is more resonant, of course, and maybe a shitty thing for me to talk about as a person who comes from a privileged suburban background, the mechanics of wanting, but yeah, makes me think about DFW's thing about how there is no reciprocal feeling of success to match the aching desire of fame, addiction, achievement, progression, ascent. but fuck, jay, probably not cool to tell the tots the toys will solve nothing, that the beast is yourself and you cannot be sated, right?

CC: Clicky Clicky can magically turn you into Oprah. If we did, in fact, turn you into Oprah, and you were able to give a single gift, any gift at all, to an entire studio audience of deserving kids in need, what would you pick for them?

JF: funny how quickly, when ian asked me the other day what i want for hannukah, i blurted "$5k" and how deeply that resonated with all three of us. capitalism (or current dearth of capital to my name) has maybe temporarily sullied my capacity for appreciating/remembering the wonders of the gift economy but i really do think that's one of the Ways Out of the dilemma of the split, self-negating self. fuck am i talking about. crayons & paper should be enough.

CC: I'm intrigued by your speculation, or at least optimistic positation, which is surely not a real word, that the gift economy, or the wonders thereof, is a potential solution to the split, self-negating self. Because I think this is important. Do you think the solution for peace in the house of the divided self is... kindness? altruism? Or, I guess to stay more true to the line of your response, having the capacity to appreciate/recognize kindness or altruism?

JF: At the end of college i was working on this thesis that i abandoned, sort of about a lot of things, many threads of which have surfaced in krill stuff over the past couple years. I guess the idea, most broadly, was an investigation (but more navel gazing) into the move from ends to means, or "the eclipse of ends" (which is how I saw it put in a book just yesterday (this stuff still, as you can see, deeply occupies me)). so it was this elaborate thing about how economic/cultural/ethical/communicative translations have fucked up our relationship to any sense of value, and the next step would be to see maybe how one could maybe traverse these occluded paths to value w/o being naive or regressive. Or maybe by being naive/regressive, not sure, I'm still totally fuzzy on it. But the cheesy and simplest example i came up with is how currency translates objects into a commensurable value (exchange-value), overpowering the sense of the object as the thing that it is -- a chair = $ instead of a thing to sit on, yknow? All this stuff is hamfisted and overly academic, and part of my whole problem with the thesis itself was that what I'm interested in is mostly the human experience of these shifts (if they're even valid at all) rather than their intellectual history. Anyhow, through some twists and turns, largely centered on the totemic figure of David Foster Wallace (but other stuff in moral philosophy and elsewhere) i got hooked on the now-a-little-played-out idea that if you have a system of means that swallows all, the only way to destroy or overcome that system (w/o being naive or regressive) would be to turn it against itself; thus people talking confusingly about dfw 'ironizing irony' (& the other example that comes to mind is this metaethics thing that would take slightly longer to explain) and also, in my opinion, ideas about self-hate, self-incrimination, knowing-you-are-fucked, because your only tool against your fucked self is your fucked self, the self having eclipsed all other things.

Ultimately, tho, I'd say that dfw (and levinas and Dostoevsky and other important people i feel namedroppy for bringing up) resorts to something that maybe is naive or regressive but somehow i don't think it quite is ---- because it still is the form of self-negation, just reformulated, turned inside out, into other-affirmation, through love, god, 'the other,' communitarianism. i guess maybe the next thing, for me, would be that once you've revived this loving muscle and can flex it a bit, maybe maybe there is some place in the deep distance where the golden rule can be flipped, once you've already loved yr neighbor as yourself (and get over the embarrassment of typing that) you can turn it around and love yourself as your neighbor. So: eventually the split self becomes a way to come back to a liveable self-love (or at least non-self-hatred).

Oh, how we enjoyed doing this interview. There are a number of other questions we'd like to put to Jonah (1. there is an underlying presumption here that a divided self is necessarily a bad thing, and a thing that needs to be remedied -- what if it is the natural state of being? Is there a way that it can not be a negative? 2.) Where does religious faith fall in the mechanics of remedying the divided self -- which, again, we are not sure is something that necessarily is unnatural and needs to be remedied? Is using religious faith "naive" or "regressive?"). But we'll save those for another day. Steve Hears Pile In Malden And Bursts Into Tears has five songs and will be released by Exploding In Sound as a vinyl 10" and digital download Feb. 18; you can pre-order the short stack (as well as a couple rad t-shirt designs) via Krill's Bandcamp dojo right here. The blazing, punky title track was loosed to the wilds of the Internerds today as a preview, and for now you can hear it over at that big web site. Krill has a number of other confirmed shows on the horizon beyond Saturday's engagement at The New World Tavern in Plymouth, which of course you should go to, because we said so. For example, the trio is also part of Allston Pudding/EIS's cataclysmic New Year's Eve bill in Boston over at Pizzeria Regina in Allston, which also features Grass Is Green, Kal Marks and Two Inch Astronaut.