February 9, 2014

Today's Hotness: M.G. Lederman, The Collected Fictions, The Weaks

M.G. Lederman (detail)

>> Indie rock lifer M.G. Lederman keeps busy playing alongside such Boston notables as the legendary Thalia Zedek (with whom he is presently touring) as well as part of the ensemble No Love, but that didn't keep him from recording in late 2012 a new collection with his trio, a sophomore set titled I'm Ghosts. The collection will finally see the proverbial light of day later this month, but Mr. Lederman first made a name for himself years ago as part of respected turn-of-the-century Boston outfit Victory At Sea. In that trio, Lederman played bass next to the haunting Mona Elliot (the band, among many other things, released a very fine split single with the phenomenal Helms). I'm Ghosts presents a transporting half-hour of music; the surprise of the set is that it flies by so fast, given the deep, dark vibes contained within. The songs are built around Mr. Lederman's work at the piano and his gravelly voice (which now and then reasonably approximates that of Lou Reed, or a suicidal Neil Diamond), and present beery glimpses of relationships run afoul, of tired lives in the city. I'm Ghosts reaches a thrilling crescendo with the bar-room belter "Restaurant," an anthemic tune that repeatedly bends the hook from The Supremes' classic "I Hear A Symphony" to drive a tight and anxious ode about how summer isn't an escape for everyone, but rather something to be escaped from. The tune touts the album's biggest chorus, one that attests to the set's punk heart: "I'm sitting in Mass Ave traffic covered in sweat, after working all day in a restaurant wishing that this summer would end." The album's biggest moment, however, comes at its close, where Lederman delivers the crushing ballad "Union Square." To begin, the song establishes a sedate, dreamy atmosphere with a spare snare cadence, quietly flowing piano and single guitar notes. Verses gently swell, careful to not betray the torpedo coming from below: an explosive, face-stinging coda carrying the realization, "Why'd you go to bed so early? You must have been pretty sick of me." "Union Square" is both a career-defining song and a raw psychic wound, the kind you train your mind to skirt around with hopes it will eventually fade away. Midriff Records will release I'm Ghosts as a digital download Feb. 25; the record is presently streaming via the Midriff blog right here. M.G. Lederman play a release show to celebrate the record Feb. 19 at TT The Bear's Place in Cambridge, Mass., and evening that also includes sets from respected rockers The Rationales, indie pop sensations Reindeer, and Thick Wilde. M.G. Lederman's debut What Ifs And Bad Memories was released in 2010.

>> The Collected Fictions are an exciting young three-piece hailing from Manchester, England, whose fresh-faced indie pop compares quite favorably to the decades-old sounds it emulates, from acts like The Clean, The Pastels and Aztec Camera. The act formed two years ago as a vehicle for the songs of guitarist Paris Thompson, and four of these songs have found a home on a ridiculously listenable self-titled EP that surfaced on Bandcamp late last month. Mr. Thompson shares writing credits on the EP with bassist Daniel McMillan, and the trio is rounded out by drummer by Isaac McInnes, who recorded and mixed the The Collected Fictions EP. "It Don't Matter Much" is the collection's lively opener, which touts a low, thrumming verse that recalls Unrest's fantastic "Yes, She Is My Skinhead Girl;" bright chords and Thompson's wispy vocals dramatically elevate the chorus and alter the secretive tone of the tune. Indeed, Thompson's voice has an instantly relateable quality, drawling words just slightly, occasionally stretching vowels away from the frame of the words that contain them and into another strand of melody, as in the tune "Talk." The closer "Wait" perhaps best showcases Mr. McMillan's agile work on the bass guitar, which certainly recalls the almost lyrical playing of the bassist for legendary Mancunian forebearers The Smiths, Andy Rourke. And here in "Wait" Thompson's pleading may be at its most affecting. The trio's short set is available as a physical CD in a very limited edition of 100 pieces via the same Bandcamp page; an earlier track, "See Through You," was posted to Soundcloud last year but appears to have been sucked back into the cosmos, so completists among you, deep breath, exhale. Or ask around? We are blown away by how good this early effort is from The Collected Fictions, and are very eager to here more from these fellows. Stream the entire EP below, and click through to download.

>> The Internet is not real life, and really we should all be doing something better with our time most of the time. But we are human: we are weak. Which, surprisingly, is not the segue we're going to use to talk about young Philadelphia indie heroes The Weaks. Instead, let's back up to earlier this week and one of the Interpants' many tempests in a teapot, that piece in Noisey about how the Philly punk scene is the best one in America right now. Clicky Clicky has always championed Philly and its underground, since the city is where our executive director once called home; we remember the hype about The Hooters, we remember the hype about The Interpreters, we've seen the hype come and go. But we think, despite the obvious faults of the Noisey piece, the biggest thing it got wrong was omitting The Weaks from its roll-call of prominent contemporary punk acts. Readers here have seen that band name a lot, and hopefully are intimately familiar with at the very least The Weaks' transcendent contribution to last year's Lilys tribute comp. And while there has been a steady stream of new songs from The Weaks for the last two years, the combo has only recently solidified a live lineup and begun playing shows. This week the act issues its first physical product, a masterful set of guitar pop titled The World Is A Terrible Place And I Hate Myself And I Want To Die that showcases the mighty chops of chief songwriter (and former Dangerous Ponies cats) Evan Bernard and Chris Baglivo. From the shimmering chorus of the big strummer "Nietzsche's Harvest Song" to the earnest pop of the undeniable closer "Dunce Pageant," the compact and potent jams grip your ears and don't let go. The six-song collection will be released Tuesday by Lame-O Records as a one-sided 12" vinyl disc, with a screen-printed flipside, in a limited edition of 300 pieces. Deluxe packings of the LP come with handmade hot sauce and an awesome t-shirt, but the best stuff is right there on the record: big melodies, big guitars, ridiculous hooks. The entire shebang is streaming over at Brooklyn Vegan, and while we are loathe to point you over there to a land characteristically overrun by caustic, misogynist and homophobic troll commenters, well, you don't have to read the comments to get all this rock into your life. And you need it. So go get it. Then buy the 12" right here for eight clams. You're welcome.

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