May 30, 2014

Today's Hotness: WHOOP-Szo, Dignan Porch, Popstrangers

Whoop-Szo -- Niizhwaaswo (detail)

>> We make no secret of our affinity for the unexpected in music -- hell, even perplexity, in the right frame of mind -- and the latest band to wow us in that regard is Guelph, Ontario-based psych-pop explorers WHOOP-Szo. The act, which just this week self-released their incredibly ambitious and apparently third LP Niizhwaaswo, has spent a substantial amount of time living in "Arctic Canada" among certain Inuit people, and a curious email we received described their latest release as "our third and final document of our adventures" there. The songs on Niizhwaaswo are bathed in a manic, modern psychedelic sensibility; soothing faraway vocals anchor a collection that otherwise readily sprawls in every direction with a sort of aural schizophrenia. While perhaps hard to grasp at first, this is truly rock music that betrays little in the way of traditional influence or stylistic corruption. Instrumental opener "Boat Cave" establishes a mood with long blasts of feedback, organ and all manner of squiggly fuzz sounds, as well as jazzy percussion, all of which serves to introduce the improvisational nature of the band. By the next track, "CSG," group vocals bathed in reverb and atonal chordings make overatures toward a traditional tune, but are ultimately scuttled by metallic chugging, snotty screams and a derailed train ride of moans and yelps. "Myeengun" recalls EVOL-era Sonic Youth, and their bruised and tense no-wave sexuality. Lead single "Jan. 3rd" even more surprisingly peels things back to reveal an acoustic strummer befitting of certain songs in Kevin Drew's repertoire. "I'm Outside Looking In," they sing, on their one truly "normal"-sounding song, and really no sentiment is more fitting, especially considering where this set was recorded. Given the vast amount of terrain it covers, Niizhwaaswo is shockingly brief. In today's ultra-connected era, one expects nearly every musician to have consumed heaps of other styles and touchstones that set general parameters before she or he ever writes a note, but WHOOP-Szo are the exception to the rule. Are these guys the spiritual successors to yesterday's unhinged, experimental improv pop ensembles like The Red Krayola, The Pop Group or Butthole Surfers? Maybe. Either way, we're all lucky that there are still creative minds out there that can so interestingly break free. We highly recommend Niizhwaaswo, which you can purchase here as a beautifully silkscreened, single-sided vinyl LP or digital download. Stream the entire LP via the embed below. -- Edward Charlton

>> Coming June 16th is yet another classy slice of mid-fi goodness from Brighton, England's reliably great Faux Discx label. We speak of the third album from South London-based jangle merchants Dignan Porch, the one-time bedroom pop-ject of one Joseph Walsh (no relation, we're sure) that is now a quartet. Their forthcoming set is called Observatory, and, based on the jaunty pop of the preview track "Wait & Wait & Wait," we expect it will be a fine compendium of the band's signature refined guitar-pop sound. Having already released two albums on New York's renowned Captured Tracks imprint, Dignan Porch are hardly newbies. "Wait & Wait & Wait" is a fuzzy, bouncing and vaguely country-tinged track with a fine dual vocal harmony throughout the verses. The tune touts a fantastic pop structure, with a subtle, sly chorus that sneaks up on the listener. Tasteful guitars never showboat, but instead inhabit the sad, patient groove in ways the Velvet Underground's Sterling Morrison was particularly adept at on those classic live albums. Even more special are the last three chords of the main riff, which are emphasized by the drummer's crash cymbal and effect a great downward run that perfectly highlights lead singer Joseph Walsh's melancholy, choked-up acceptance as he waits, and waits, and, well, you know. Preorder Observatory on 180g vinyl or as a digital download right here. If you want that vinyl, act fast: according to Bandcamp only 36 of the original pressing of 500 flat circular discs remain unsold. Stream "Wait & Wait & Wait" via the embed below. -- Edward Charlton

>> In the run-up to the release of it latest LP, London-transplants Popstrangers have played a perfect inning. The first brace of preview singles, the undeniable "Country Kills" and dark groover "Don't Be Afraid," stepped to the proverbial plate with quality, and a third preview single from Fortuna, the trio's recently issued sophomore set, loads the bases. "Distress," is a delay-soaked classic punk rocker, sporting the band's characteristic textures, a free-wheeling sensibility and a sly chord arrangements. The tune touts fantastic, seemingly off-the-cuff verse melodies that present a perfect aural foil to the song's straightforward guitar strumming. "Distress" builds to a brilliant if cloudy Britpop plea in the chorus ("Why don't we all just stop fighting?") that, interestingly, evokes the more accessible cuts from (formerly) fellow New Zealanders Bailterspace. Indeed, the press materials accompanying Fortuna make light of Popstrangers' transition from their native NZ to London, so maybe, just maybe, said evocation is a friendly shout-out to a life left behind. Popstrangers' grand slam, of course, is Fortuna itself. Released just last week in the U.S. on the increasingly formidable Carpark label, the collection confirms what this reviewer suspected -- Popstrangers are capable of applying their careful sense of texture and production to an entire, dynamic set of songs. Opener "Sandstorm" dramatically shifts between dreamy picked passages and a key-changing strummed chorus. "Tonight" conjures more of the odd, choppy, upfront guitars that made the dynamite album highlight "Country Kills" so thrilling. Closer "What's On Your Mind?" further evidences that this band's boldness at marrying together disparate slices of songs to form unexpected, poppy epics. Carpark released Fortuna May 23; purchase it right here, and stream the entire collection via the Spotify embed below. -- Edward Charlton

May 29, 2014

25 Years Of On The Town With Mikey Dee with Butterknife, Corin Ashley, The Wrong Shapes, The Rationales and The Shods | TT The Bear's | Tonight

25 Years Of On The Town With Mikey Dee with Butterknife, Corin Ashley, The Wrong Shapes, The Rationales and The Shods | TT The Bear's | 29 May

A great number of things conspire to hold the vibrant Boston music scene aloft like Lando Calrissian's Cloud City. Sure, people and even institutions do come and go, but certain of them endure, and constitute a superstructure that lifts all of us invested in the music community here. A key piece of it all is local radio -- often college radio, but we can't forget our friends that have festooned the commercial spectrum past and present. We're, of course, talking about our beloved Pipeline on WMBR, Anngelle Wood's Boston Emissions on WZLX, and even the upstart VanyaRadio. And we simply can't have this conversation without talking about WMFO and its long-running program On The Town with Mikey Dee. The show, which sadly lost its namesake due to illness in 2003, tonight celebrates at TT The Bear's Place a quarter-century of providing a platform for local acts to perform live on the air and cast their sizzle across the airwaves to the rock and roll people, the kids, and the occasional interested hound dog, even. Sound engineer and polybandist (we just made that up) Joel Simches has curated tonight's bill, which features the classic power pop of Corin Ashley, the dreamy and tribal ruminations of The Wrong Shapes, the anthemic emo of Class of 2014 Rock And Roll Rumblers Butterknife, the ready-steady rock of The Rationales and punk rock from the nearly-as-old-as-the-show The Shods.

As part of the anniversary celebration, the audio vaults were raided and the result is a two-CD compilation of songs recorded live on the show; not coincidentally that collection, titled Live From Studio Dee: The Very Best Of On The Town with Mikey Dee, is available starting today. Rock fans can stream selections from the set via the Bandcamp embed below. Proceeds from the sale of the CDs get poured right back into the coffers of WMFO, which in turn will pour more music right down your earholes daily, so everyone wins, right? Right. Here's the Facebook event page for the show, which we heartily endorse. Those interested in receiving extra credit are directed to the second embed below, via which you can stream an electrifying, cello-fied 2009 live set performed for on On The Town by Clicky Clicky faves Varsity Drag.

May 28, 2014

Regolith A2E3: Sean Tracy Presents Dye's Alone

Regolith A2E3: Sean Tracy presents Dye's Alone (detail)

Did you feel like we left you hanging? We apologize for the delay, but a bunch of real-life stuff got in the way of our publishing this, the final installment of Sean Tracy's plunge down the time-sensitive cataracts in the songwriting challenge barrel we here at Clicky Clicky call Regolith. We think you are going to agree it was worth the wait, however. We are very pleased to be able to present to you today the fruits of Mr. Tracy's labor, which he is attributing to his project Dye (which, of course, we first told you about here in A2E1). It's an EP titled Alone, a particularly fitting moniker, as Dye typically includes Tracy's cohort Sam, but here of course, per Regolith rules, does not. The Alone EP contains five concise compositions touting gauzy rhythm guitars, gently perforating leads and bass work, a warm low end and spectral vocals. The short collection is shot through with a sedately stunned vibe, not unlike that of The Cure's 17 Seconds, but its compositions are more densely populated by guitars, hinting at Tracy's love of C86 and shoegaze sounds. Alone is eminently listenable, and while in the interview below Tracy expresses dismay at the quantity of material he was able to complete in 30 days, there is no questioning its quality. The EP is streaming at the Clicky Clicky Bandcamp page and also embedded at the foot of this post. Read and listen on. -- L. Tiburon Pacifico

Clicky Clicky: So how did it go? Do you consider the results a personal success? A failure?

Sean Tracy: It went all right. I feel pretty good about it, but there a ton of things that I wanted to do over [or] add. I wrote 12 songs and I'm turning in four-and-a-half, so...

CC: What were the biggest challenges and frustrations?

ST: The biggest challenge was definitely recording the vocals. Personally, I'm not someone who is much of a creative writer, so writing lyrics is typically something I dread/dislike very much. Just getting the time to record them was hard enough, but then getting vocal takes that I actually felt good about was a different story.

CC: How were you able to work around or overcome these challenges?

ST: I'd say the second thing is closer to what happened. I pretty much had to write stuff as I recorded it, and even while I typically do that, I would still have [other] ideas that were literally more thought-out than I had for this project. At the end, I had gotten to the point where I was having to write vocals/lyrics and guitar parts at the same time.

CC: What song do you think came out the best?

ST: That's a hard question, probably "17." I spent the most time on it, and gave it the most thought out of any of them. To me, it seems like kind of a weird one, but I was really happy with how the instrumentals came out, if nothing else.

CC: What song or songs do you wish you'd had more time to work on? Do you see yourself re-doing any songs in the future, in any of your bands?

ST: The song I wish I had more time to work on was "Ripped." Lots I wanted to try out for that one that I just didn't have time for. And... maybe? Not in the immediate future.

CC: Are there any songs you did for this project that you couldn't re-create live?

ST: I guess the answer to that is, um, all of them, at least not without at least 3 other people to play them with me...

CC: If there was one person or piece of equipment you could have brought in for the project, who or what would that have been?

ST: If i could work with anyone else I'd probably have to say my friend Sam Glassberg, who I used to be in a band with. I feel like we could probably have written a full album if that were the case.

CC: Did you learn anything about how you write and record music? What specific or quantifiable lesson, if any, did you learn that will help you in the future?

ST: I've learned that I tend to be pretty spontaneous, and that sometimes I have a hard time being my own editor. I guess that's why working with others is beneficial. Having multiple points of view is probably for the best.

CC: If you could travel into the future and speak with the next Regolith participant, what one piece of advice would you give them?

ST: Store all your project files in the cloud forever (I just lost my external HDD and my Macbook, within two weeks of each other. Still trying to get over that).

Normally here we'd tease the next Regolith artist-in-her-or-his-own-residence, but at this point we are still hammering down start dates and batting orders for some prospective participants. In the meantime, get cozy with Alone, and keep an eye out for news about the release of the debut full-length from Chandeliers, which Tracy referenced in A2E1. Chandeliers play a very hot bill in Boston June 7 at O'Brien's, along with Idiot Genes, Flat Swamp and Strange Mangers. We last saw Tracy performing with Bedroom Eyes at the incredible Soccer Mom record release show early this month (which, incidentally, seems like 1,000 years ago now), but Tracy has since left that band.

Regolith A2E2: Sean Tracy Writes Songs Under The Gun
Regolith A2E1: Sean Tracy Is A Songwriter
Regolith A1E3: Reuben Bettsak Presents Emerald Comets' Inside Dream Room
Regolith A1E2: Reuben Bettsak Writing Songs Under The Gun
Regolith A1E1: Reuben Bettsak Is A Songwriter
Introducing... Regolith

May 26, 2014

That Was The Show That Was: Amanda X with Sneeze and Dylan Ewan & The Sulk Scouts | O'Brien's | May 19

Amanda X, May 19, 2014

You may recall that a year ago we sang the praises of the massively fecund Philly indie pop scene in our review of Radiator Hospital's life-affirming Something Wild long-player [review]. Given the fact that our executive editor grew up in the 215, this publication aspires to stay abreast of what is what in the Philly musical underground, and there is definitely a lot of "what" surrounding that city's garage rock three-piece Amanda X. Fronted by guitarist Cat Park, the act proffers a potent strain of hook-heavy punk not far removed from that of erstwhile Philadelphians Swearin'. The most affecting Amanda X songs pit Park's vocals against those of bassist Kat Bean, a pairing that creates strained, distant and almost subversive harmonies.

The trio performed a week ago at O'Brien's in Allston Rock City, billed behind local noise-pop titans Sneeze. We're given to understand that the fellows in Sneeze helped the Philadelphians get on the bill, but we expect Amanda X's star will only continue to rise, and they won't need much in the way of help scoring gigs in the future. Primarily playing tunes from its forthcoming, Jeff Zeigler-recorded debut record Amnesia for the storied Philly label Siltbreeze (which has released notable records for a quarter century from bands including Bardo Pond, The Dead C and Temple Of Bon Matin), Amanda X pressed a fully-realized, confident sound, a sound that carried an even sharper edge, as the date was at the tail-end of the band's now-wrapped strand of North American tour dates. Scattered shows this summer take the threesome to ports of call including NYC's Rough Trade outlet store/concert space June 13 with Tweens and Marnie Stern; Amanda X is also already booked to play Philly's Underground Arts Sept. 11 with legendary Japanese indie institution Shonen Knife.

Not to be overlooked is the fact that Sneeze also have a new full-length on deck; the Justin Pizzoferrato'd (yeah, dude gets his own verb at this point) Wilt will be issued next month on Glory Kid. Based on a brace of thrilling preview tracks, which we've posted below, the set will be a doozy (pre-order here if you know what is good for you). For its set a week ago, Sneeze delivered its characteristically thick, sludgy riffs and shouty, pained vocals, both underpinned by a sturdy melodic sense. The trio plays O'Brien's again next month for the Wilt release show, an evening that also features the ridiculously great Ovlov; full details for that event are right here. That show presently appears to be Sneeze's only engagement of the summer, but our spidey sense tells us there will be much rocking to be done once Wilt actually drops. BUFU Records affiliate Dylan Ewen & The Sulk Scouts opened with its goofball take on retro-leaning girl-group pop and beachy surf music. Sources tell us future Ewen dates include a pair of house shows in late June, so ask a punk for details. -- Dillon Riley

Amanda X: Bandcamp | Facebook | Tumblr | Twitterz

May 23, 2014

That Was The Show That Was: Walter Schreifels | Great Scott | 21 May

Walter Schreifels and band, May 21, 2014

Well, this certainly isn't where we expected to find Walter Schreifels. We don't mean physically, of course -- after all, there he was, hanging out at the sound booth before the show in his grey hoodie, and there he was up on stage plugging in a weird vintage guitar and rocking out. No, we mean stylistically. After blazing trails through hardcore, post-hardcore, indie rock and acoustic folk-pop, Mr. Schreifels has decided to go deep with the latest iteration of his solo guise, back to some of the early sounds that presumably he and many of us grew up with: sludgy, blues-descended proto-metal, a la Black Sabbath and its many followers. And, like we said, it was a surprising place to find Schreifels stylistically, not only because the choice finds Schreifels breeching the barrier represented by the punk revolution of 1976 and 1977 (and the subsequent, perhaps even more crucial, post-punk permutations), but also because working within a proto-metal, groove-oriented idiom seems to impinge somewhat on Schreifels' extraordinary gift for writing melodies. Even so, Schreifels and crew's fearlessly pure, carefree performance of all new material Wednesday night at Great Scott in Boston before an appreciative throng was a delight to behold.

We say fearlessly pure because Schreifels made no effort to curry favor with the crowd by playing anything from his deep, deep catalogue, which stretches back to 1987 when he began writing songs for New York Hardcore legends Gorilla Biscuits. Instead, Walter succinctly -- and confidently -- introduced a series of new songs (with his typicaly boundless charm, of course), one after the other, about 10 in total. That's about as many songs -- we'd venture -- as might comprise a forthcoming album? A planned Schreifels solo set for years has been referred to under the title Jesus Is My Favorite Beatle (see third item here), and it could be that is what fans were treated to the other night. Song titles we can recollect from the show include "Basic Cable," "Hyacinth" and "36 Chambers." We previously reviewed a solo performance by Schreifels right here in Sept. 2011.

Schreifels' present band features ex-members of New York hardcore mainstays Bold, Cults and Youth Gone Mad (although second guitarist Paul Kastabi looked a LOT like Styx' James Young), and Wednesday's show was the third of four dates (the final date was last night in Philadelphia at The Barbary) lined up to showcase this new band and the new material. One very enjoyable aspect of the set was how fresh and exciting the experience of playing the music seemed to be for Walter and the band. There was a lot of glee shared in quick glances between drummer Drew Thomas and Schreifels after many of the songs, and while there was a negligible amount of tentativeness, as well, that only added to the thrill of the show. For the most part the band executed some very tight dynamic changes, while also slowing down to work grooves and establish atmosphere with some more improvisational solo and noise sections. It's a far cry from the light, amazing pop songs on the 2010 solo set An Open Letter To The Scene, which we reviewed here, and which we named our second favorite record of 2010, and which you may stream via the embed below. But the fact that Schreifels can so deftly and convincingly shift styles without losing any of the appeal inherent in his songwriting is a tribute to his skill as a musician, and puts him in a rarified strata of songwriter populated by Clicky Clicky favorites like Kurt Heasley, among very few others. We eagerly await an album announcement.

Walter Schreifels: Interzizzles | Facebook | Soundcloud | Twixels

May 20, 2014

Today's Hotness: Hallelujah The Hills, Luke Kirkland

Hallelujah The Hills -- Have You Ever Done Something Evil (detail)

>> Hallelujah The Hills' new record Have You Ever Done Something Evil? commences as a fully involved house fire, with snare drum barking from behind a curtain of dense electric guitars in time to the declamations of fronter and band mastermind Ryan Walsh; the proverbial roof of the opener, "We Are What We Say We Are," caves after about 100 seconds, as Mr. Walsh pleads his case directly, but quietly, into the camera lens, a thumb and forefinger at the lip of the lens and his other hand pressed reassuringly against the shoulder of a shaken camera operator. The song eventually burns itself out, but its euphoric rush and poignant ebb color the entirety the the five-piece's new record like a new red t-shirt in a load of whites. "We Are What We Say We Are" is an auspicious beginning to the Boston quintet's new and fourth collection, which the act released last week on its own Discrete Pageantry imprint. For months the set was going by the working title Do You Have Romantic Courage?, as we reported here in October, and that title survives, attached to another tune found within the cracking collection. The album highlight may actually be the more subdued ballad "MCMLIV (Continuity Error)," which is illuminated by Walsh's gently delivered, honest vocals and electrified by controlled crescendoes from the players. Like that song, Have You Ever Done Something Evil? isn't flashy, there's no gimcrackery here. Instead we have a showcase of exemplary songcraft -- the stuff that actually puts air in the bellows of a band built to last -- and vibrant performances. And while there was a laundry list of concerns for Walsh and band to grapple with over the last year or two (quitting a long-held job to focus solely on writing and recording; potentially voice-altering surgery; possible -- but unrealized -- pitfalls with crowdfunding; whether the band had good stuff left in the tank after releasing career-defining singles; and errrm... we dunno... extreme-energy cosmic rays?), Have You Ever Done Something Evil? delivers uniformly terrific results. Hallelujah The Hills is presently at the front end of a short west coast tour, and will play a hometown release show May 30 at Great Scott in Boston. The event also features sets from Tallahassee and Thick Wild, and starts late but apparently promptly at 10PM; there are full details right here. While you ponder that and other possible futures, stream the entirety of Have You Ever Done Something Evil? via the embed below, and click through the purchase on compact disc or as a digital download. We interviewed Walsh here last October for Show Us Yours #19.

>> The memory grows dim -- and we've determined over the years that quite a few of our memories aren't even real -- but nonetheless we're fairly certain that the first act we saw on the non-stage at the late, lamented Union Square rock club Radio was the Boston quartet Marconi. And while we didn't ever direct our full critical attention at the band, we did make this brief aside here two years ago: "Placing one's finger on the precise source of the quintet's appeal is tricky, but we think a lot of it can be chalked up to singer Luke Kirkland's crooked smile as he languidly looses lyrics from amid the band's engaging indie rock constructions." We've learned recently that Marconi has gone the way of the dodo bird (there are two splendid final recordings here and here), and that Mr. Kirkland has undertaken some solo work that promises to explore markedly more electronic textures. He is releasing the new music under his own name, and our first taste of same is the meditative pop mirage "My Southern Guides." Our immediate and somewhat odd reaction is that the patient and vivid song plots a middle ground between LCD Sound System's "I Can't Change" and Level 42's "Something About You." "My Southern Guides" is both lighter and more fluid than either of those touchstones, but Kirkland's ambition is no less grand. The song steadily swells, from a beat and vocal to an arrangement lush and distinctly retro-modern -- something like a bygone, Jetson-ian vision of a future that never came to be (perhaps that is what made us think of Level 42?). "My Southern Guides" is part of a planned collection of tunes Kirkland calls Jet Black Eggs (another song title); he does not intend to release these new songs as an album, but he does consider them a series. We recommend you watch this space for more new music, and stream "My Southern Guides" via the embed below.

May 17, 2014

Show Us Yours 20: Seeds Of Doubt

We've missed the Show Us Yours feature, and we hope you feel the same way, especially seeing as we've gone to the trouble to bring you this, its TWENTIETH installment. So today we look across the ocean -- for the first time in five years -- to the UK, where in London upstart indie pop four Seeds Of Doubt are honing a guitar-pop sound that embraces aspects of vintage U.S. surf and relatively contemporary Pacific Northwest garage. We first encountered Seeds Of Doubt early this year, when it released its fetching DCP EP on Italian Beach Babes (we've since learned what the acronym stands for: De Crespigny Park). The act features Chris Hopkins on guitar and lead vocals; Ed Shellard on lead guitar; Ashley Hassell on bass; and Max Hart on drums. Seeds Of Doubt practices and cuts demos in a flat shared by Hopkins and Mr. Shellard, and you can click through shots of the space above. Since the release of DCP, the quartet has been writing for a new EP and planning summer live dates, and it also released a short, nifty collection of outtakes from DCP as well. During recent recording sessions, Seeds Of Doubt tracked a new version of the older cut "Spout Control," a scritchy, uptempo rocker that recalls the tremendous Seattle act The Fall-Outs; that tune will feature on a planned comp from Italian Beach Babes, and you can stream it at the foot of this feature. With so much going on, we thought it would be a good time to check in with Seeds Of Doubt to learn about where it makes its magic, the influence of Australian indie acts on its evolving sound, and what the apparently fashionable drug of choice is in rural England. Mr Hopkins reveals all of that and more, and we are grateful for his gracious responses to our questions, which are below.
Clicky Clicky: So why do you use this practice space?

Chris Hopkins: Because we are little paupers and have no money.

CC: Is there an idiosyncrasy or quirk of the space that has affected the sound of one of your songs, or even Seeds Of Doubts' overall sound?

CH: When I'm recording demos I try and play the drums quite quietly because I'm always worrying about the neighbours... luckily they haven't complained yet, though.

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

CH: Haha, probably smoked fish. Its so damp in the house, the food smells linger for days.

CC: Switching focus to the music, the gentle vibe and distinct lead guitar lines in "There You Go" and now "Running" makes us think of early '60s U.S. surf music, and that made us wonder whether there is a tradition of that musical style in the UK at all, or if it is a distinctly American thing? Maybe it's not fair to test your music history with such a specific question... and obviously there are more dimensions to your music ("Enough Is Enough" and "Green Triangle" portray more traditionally post-punk sounds, for example), but that odd little slice of it interested me.

CH: Ed came up with those leads bits, pretty sure he's never listen to early '60s surf music, though. I think those kinds of guitar parts mostly filter through to us from a lot of the current Australian rock scene, Scott and Charlene's Wedding, The Twerps, Dick Diver, etc. I'm not aware of any exclusively surf stuff from the early '60s in the UK, there were a lot of garage vibes going on, though. The Kinks and Ray Davies are a huge influence on me.

CC: You've recently begun recording a new EP, so I'll assume the writing is pretty well done. Do you see the work you are doing now with the new material as trying to accomplish something different musically than the stuff released on DCP early this year? Seeds Of Doubt doesn't strike me as a band that is going to suddenly start making jungle or ska records or whatever, but can you can see your releases as particularly distinct, whether because of influences, subject matter, or increased chops?

CH: We've been using a proper studio called Sound Savers in East London, so I think we've moved away from any nostalgia-heavy stuff a bit. We re-recorded an old song ("Spout") whilst doing the sessions for the new stuff, and it just sounded a bit like dad rock radio or something, because the overly nostalgic tape feel had been taken away. I think we've just got a bit better as a band and are able to write more complex songs now, and people will be able to hear that. Fundamentally though, it is still just rock music.

CC: Your aim is to tour once the planned EP is in the can. Have you played many shows outside London, or will the dates largely be new markets for Seeds Of Doubt?

CH: We played this show in Stroud, Glostershire, because our drummer is from there, it is pretty funny, proper farmer country. It was in a pub owned by this really nice sort of ex-rocker guy, he was super cool and the show was really busy. We got paid for the show and the money smelt really strongly of this nasty drug called mephadrone that is really big down there, people had obviously been hoofing it up in the toilet all night in-between paying for their beers. The tour should be hilarious, no one will know us but our music is pretty accessible, so hopefully it will be ok.

CC: Thanks for taking the time to speak with us!

CH: No problem, great to have some overseas attention! Cheers!

Seeds Of Doubt: Bandcamp | Facebook | Soundcloud

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 | A Giant Dog | Bent Shapes | Krill | Golden Gurls | Earthquake Party! | Hallelujah The Hills

May 12, 2014

YouTube Rodeo: The I Want You's Play-Full "Ah Really"

It's the patience and the pulse, the interplay between the steady stream of solemn organ and the awl-punch of the bass playing, that draws us in to the new guitar-pop nodder "Ah Really" from un-peg-able Boston four-piece The I Want You. The song is the title track to a forthcoming six-song EP from the combo, and as you've no doubt gleaned from the big rectangular box above, the act has also concocted a video clip to promote the tune. While not as insanely ambitious as The I Want You's prior video for "Three Short Days," the new clip makes a not insignificant amount of metaphorical hay about games and relationships with its time-elapsed, stationary shots of three people playing Settlers Of Catan. At some point there is a small toy jeep and battleship on the gaming table, which is either some meta-joke about board games, or Settlers Of Catan is a lot more interesting than we'd be led to believe. But let us not let a cat crossing the table or some glimpses at "The Simpsons"-patterned pajama pants distract us from what's really important here, which is a very solid rocker whose downward-spiraling melody is as poignant as The I Want You's arrangement is methodical. The act does a surprisingly wide variety of things well, and its studied synthesis of pre-punk and post-punk sounds makes for some very smart results all across the EP; make sure to throw ears on the agitated lead guitar work in the opener "Off And On. And stick around for the cracking yearner "Drifting," which may actually be the strongest tune on the collection, and which may or may not contain the amazing lyric "I'm gonna come down from the superglue." The I Want You fĂȘte the release of the Ah Really EP June 4 with a show at Cambridge, Mass.'s Middlesex Lounge. The evening includes performances from the mighty noise-pop concern Reports as well as Spirit Kid. Full details about the night are right here. In the meantime, you can stream the entire EP from The I Want You via the Bandcamp embed below, which is an advisable course of action.

The I Want You: Internerds | Bandcamp | Facebook

May 11, 2014

Today's Hotness: Gold-Bears, Bozmo, Mincer Ray

Gold-Bears -- Dalliance (detail)

>> From its humble beginnings, the Slumberland Records catalog has always possessed a great spiritual unity, and an argument can be made that the revered label's aesthetic, as mapped by its recent output, is becoming more outwardly emotional and mature. It's in the remarkably affecting, folk-inspired rock of Withered Hand, and it's in the dazzling, exuberant new single "Simple And Sure" from The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart (who, strangely, are releasing the full-length that contains the single via a different label, Yebo). And it's also in the sparkling anthems of Atlanta-based guitar-pop giants Gold-Bears. That quintet's sophomore effort Dalliance will be released June 3 -- incidentally, the day after the band performs at Cambridge, Mass.'s Middlesex Lounge with local indie pop standouts Bent Shapes and shoegaze titans Soccer Mom [dee-tails]. As with another upcoming SLR band, The Proper Ornaments, Gold-Bears' two preview singles (the latest being the cascading, co-ed rush "Yeah, Tonight") draw from the '60s-influenced side of Slumberland's classic pop aesthetic, while pushing the emotion to the forefront in less usual ways. The first single "For You," is a step forward for Gold-Bears, particularly in terms of both audio fidelity and composition, when compared with the five-piece’s delightful 2011 debut. The song's impact is predicated on minimal, Ramones-inspired power chords and a thoughtful arrangement. What might at first seem a continuation of the band's frustrated, punk-ish yelp-pop in the tune's first half, though, shifts suddenly to a succession of refreshingly clear moments of triumph. At roughly the half-minute mark, a piano smartly lays a wedding-bell progression against the grind of the band, and emotionally flattens everything in the song's proverbial path. It's a simple move, but when that instrument counterbalances the fierce chord progression, it sets up a tight-throated rush that suddenly imbues aggressive lines like "You're a mistake" with a serious twist. Have you ever watched a song grow up before your very eyes? Spend three minutes with this one for sure: you can stream it via the Soundcloud embed below, and pre-order Dalliance from Slumberland right here. -- Edward Charlton

>> The madcap psychedelia lives! If our readers were truly in tune with this reviewer's taste, they would know he is very excited about the forthcoming cassette from Boston-born and now Berkeley, Calif.-based Bozmo. The set is called Leather Umbrella and it is due any day now on the un-Google-able Peaking Pear Records. The collection -- which was recorded entirely by Bozmo principal Bo Moore to a Tascam 388 -- presents a classic case of hard-shifting mod that chases it's own fascinating logic. The title track from the album has been loosed to the wilds of the Internerds for a couple weeks; it's a Revolver-esque jaunt through fields of poppies that features bouncy harmonized lead guitars and delicately picked verses that serve as a perfect foil to the bubbly guitar work that bookends the piece. Adorning the snappy composition are great, prominently mixed tambourines and period-correct vocal delays that neatly wrap the production in perfect 1967 indie dressing. While "Leather Umbrella" cycles resolutely between its A and B sections without further development, the overall energy and neat melodic flourishes recall our beloved Lilys circa Better Can't Make Your Life Better. That's high praise from this publication, don't you know. We've had an opportunity to delve into all of Leather Umbrella and are pleased to report that its contents are uniformly terrific, and, in fact, the brightest spots arrive back-to-back in the middle of the record. Here we find the mid-tempo strummer "Cheap Blue Memory," a slightly downcast mood piece with excellent lyrics, gentle vocal harmonies and an amazing, warped guitar solo. That tune is followed by the fuzzed-out pop triumph "Perry And The Vest," with high-voltage harmonies in the chorus and another, albeit briefer, transcendent guitar solo. The two tunes each clock at about three minutes and cry out for release as a vinyl 7", so if you've got unspent student loan money burning a hole in your pocket maybe now is the time to flush your future down the toilet and start your own indie label. While you ponder that exceedingly questionable advice, stream and download "Leather Umbrella" via the embed below and watch that Bandcamp page for information about the Leather Umbrella cassette, which may possibly be your most prized possession this summer. -- Edward Charlton

>> It's not uncommon for this American blogger to wonder about and perhaps glorify the life of ex-pats. For one thing, there's the suggestion of European jet-setting, or contemplative Far East sightseeing, but even more so, there's the thrill of making a fresh start somewhere challenging and different. Our urge is heightened by our recollection that Berlin indie rockers Mincer Ray counts among its number not one, but two American ex-pats apparently in search of some great truth about scratchy, trad-sounding indie rock. Mincer Ray recently completed a new, long-playing collection, Fellow Traveler, which is available to download now for any price via Bandcamp. What quickly becomes apparent when playing the ten tracks is the extent to which the group has surpassed the delightful Guided By Voices-inspired lo-fi of 2012's Ray Mincer, which we wrote about here. The new set is more scattered but no less creative, at turns surprisingly rootsy and soulful, and at others sonically aggressive. "Couch Neighbor Catherine" and "Bassmaster" trade in shambolic loose strums that remind this reviewer of Pavement at their most country-inclined, or Palace Brothers at their most precise. "A Pickaxe From My Mom" and "Grand Tunk Plastic Lake" are both bits of classic, Yo La Tengo-styled indie. Instrumental "Great Trunk National Park" evokes Fugazi at their most willfully sloppy and the shape-shifting, instrumental closer "Das Grune Tor" utilizes a distorted whammy to great effect. Sure, the Berliners often evoke their touchstones, but the sense that they're having a blast and tapping into something pure makes one curious as to what great truth they've uncovered during their international adventure. Download Fellow Traveler via the embed below; it's for you. -- Edward Charlton

May 8, 2014

Today's Hotness: Bad History Month, Darren Hayman

Bad History Month/Dust From 1,000 Yrs split cassette (detail)

>> The Gospel According To D. Boon posits an axis bridging the chasm between New Wave and The Truth, along which we reckon the lion's share of unremarkable rock and roll acts lies squarely in the middle. However, fans of Boston indie rock can be proud of the fact that the city is home to a small number of acts whose songwriting situates them directly on the dot representing pure Truth. Chief among these -- along with Clicky Clicky fave bugcore heroes Krill, it should be noted -- is Bad History Month, the present solo iteration of the visionary duo Fat History Month led by songwriter Jeff Meff. Bad History Month's deconstructed cow-punk expertly renders wholly engaging and artful songs that are heavy on quiet, shuddering revelation. The preview track to the band's forthcoming split EP, "Staring At My Hands," is a prime example of the breathtaking results Mr. Meff can achieve by creatively arranging deceptively minimal sonic elements (drums, guitars, piano, feedback, voice) around startlingly conscious musings on mortality and solitary existence. Lyrics like "nervous outside of a bar, focus on a single star until it disappears, reaching for the comfort of just how small things are" splays open the idea of our intrinsic alienation like a butterfly pinned to a mounting board. Mr. Meff, like Krill's Jonah Furman, seems to conjure songs and articulate ideas from directly within the listener's brain, which is a strange point to make, but it's the best way we can presently think of to describe just how real, pure and true his musical ideas are. "Staring At My Hands" is taken from the forthcoming Famous Cigarettes split EP, which contains 40 minutes of new music from Bad History Month and Dust From 1,000 Yrs and will be released by Exploding In Sound as a limited edition cassette and digital download June 10th. The split will also be issued as an LP Aug. 4 via Limited Appeal; the pressing is on "mystery color" vinyl and comes packaged with a Colorful Camel poster, which in our estimation doubles the potential copyright infringement liability associated with this release. Bad History Month plays an EP release show June 9 show at Charlie's Kitchen in Cambridge's Harvard Square, and then embarks on a massive, two-month nationwide tour that wraps on or around Aug. 5. The dates are all posted right here (scroll down); all of that seems so very far away, but just think of the fruitful hours ahead you have to ponder your own fragile mortality? Stream "Staring At My Hands" via the Soundcloud embed below, and then pre-order Famous Cigarettes in your format of choice right here. We last wrote about Bad History Month -- then Fat History Month -- here a year ago February.

>> It's been more than a decade since Darren Hayman fronted the popular UK indie pop concern Hefner, but that distinction still follows him around despite a thriving solo career that is already 10 albums deep. Another sort of notoriety is at the heart of Mr. Hayman's latest solo collection, the minimal experimental synthesizer opus Wembley Eiffel Tower. The album pays tribute to the quixotic 19th century innovator Sir Edward Watkin, an Englishman who -- among other things -- attempted to erect a tower that would rival Paris' Eiffel Tower while drawing people to London's Metropolitan train line. The construction of the edifice was ultimately a failure spectacular enough to attract both some amount of ridicule and the attention of Mr. Hayman, who dedicates his 47-and-a-half minute synth composition to "Watkin's Folly." The most interesting thing about Wembley Eiffel Tower is that it is, in effect, the sound of an analogue modular synthesizer playing itself. Hayman employed such electronic curiosities as a programmable scale generator and clock divider to instruct the machine how to behave given certain conditions; he then recorded the results uninterrupted to six tracks, applied some reverb and mixed them. The result is a peaceful but mildly sinister meditation that recalls the soundtracks of certain British television programming that made its way to American public broadcast networks during our youth (the one thing we can identify for certain is "Dr. Who," but we are sure there are many other programs that fit the bill). Whatever your reference point for it, Wembley Eiffel Tower's attraction is a persistent cool vibe that at one and the same time feels dreamy and functional. Wembley Eiffel Tower will be released by Glass Reservoir Monday in a limited edition of 100 compact discs with a handmade cover carved by Mr. Hayman as well as digital download; we just looked and the CDs sold out on pre-orders, so NO SOUP FOR YOU. But you can stream the entire recording via the Soundcloud embed below, and pre-order the download right here.

May 6, 2014

Today's Hotness: Sunshine Frisbee Laserbeam, Goodbye Childhood, R.M. Hendrix

>> For those of you who didn't see us trumpet its existence over on the Fakebooks yesterday, the video above is for the lead track from a tremendous new EP from Birmingham, England-based noise-pop luminaries Sunshine Frisbee Laserbeam. We introduced you to the then-trio last fall, when it self-released a cracking self-titled full-length debut. Sunshine Frisbee Laserbeam is comprised by former Calories and Distophia guy Peter Dixon, and chaps named Andrew Bullock, Ralph Morton and, more recently, David Bentall. The new EP, which as far as we can tell carries no title and no hard release date, touts five characteristically concise, desperate and tuneful rockers and picks up right where Sunshine Frisbee Laserbeam left off. That's not the most insightful analysis, but when a band -- or really, a cohort of men that configures itself in ever-increasing combinations (more on that below) -- does so many things right so consistently, the work needn't always be labored over. "Auto," the song featured in the video above, is briskly paced, urgent and repetitive ("auto" is short for "automation," after all), bludgeoning the refrain "in auto" repeatedly at the end of the second minute just prior to a tearing lead guitar line. The tune presents an electrifying amalgamation of punk bombast confronting Teutonic minimalism and efficiency, and there is perhaps a larger point to be made about its mechanistic rhythm, the themes of alienation and boredom in the video, and how that relates to Marx's ideas about how industrial machinery alienates the worker (see, for example, something like "As a result of machinery, displaced workers are not so quickly compensated by employment in other industries but are forced into an expanding labor-market at a disadvantage and available for greater capitalist exploitation without the ability to procure the means of subsistence for survival.") But it also just rocks, as does the blazing, 106-second follow-up "Castles And Kings." Indeed, there is nary a loose thread or dropped stitch in any of the EP's five songs. The EP is available for pre-order here in two bundles. The first is limited to 50 orders, and includes 7" vinyl, CD, A3 poster, t-shirt and instant download for £10; the second offers only the 7" and CD for £6. We suspect the former iteration is already sold out, but try your luck, what the hell, right? Like sound but hate pictures? You can stream "Auto" via the Soundcloud embed below.

>> If you clicked the second hyperlink above and revisited our initial coverage of Sunshine Frisbee Laserbeam, you are familiar with our being overwhelmed by the many projects that have descended from the late, great Distophia and its most successful offspring, Calories. Fortunately, and not surprisingly, all of these related acts make excellent music. Yet one more new project was revealed last month, when Burning Alms/Calories doods Andrew Bullock and Thomas Mark Whitfield unveiled Goodbye Childhood. The duo bowed the project with a self-titled, downloadable EP in late April. The music is reserved and spare, lacing together canned beats, acoustic guitars, murmured vocals and atmospheric synths,into a curious yet enticing product that at least superficially calls to mind Elliot Smith and The Notwist. The delicate and waltz-timed meditation "Lock Up Your Son" may be the most affecting of the short set, with gentle lyrics and pretty acoustic guitar meandering first into a stiffening drone, then a crackling rhythm track. A new band and EP were not what we had been expecting from Mssrs. Bullock and Whitfield. The pair's Burning Alms has had a full-length titled In Sequence waiting in the wings to be unveiled for about six months, we reported here and here in February and December respectively. Is that LP still in the offing, or has it been subsumed within the catalogue/repertoire of Goodbye Childhood? We really have no idea. But confusion is certainly nothing new when it comes to the supernumerous spawn of Distophia. We can only wait and see, and while you do so, take a listen to the entire Goodbye Childhood EP via the embed below.

>> Wade in deep with us, indie rock fans, deep into the new collection from Boston-based graphic designer and music DIY-er R.M. Hendrix. Mr. Hendrix's new full-length Urban Turks Country Jerks carries 11 tunes and captures in its broad embrace classic shoegaze and Britpop sounds. Heretofore, the cuts "Wasted Summer" and "In This Daydream" from the collection have been designated as singles from same, and there are very nice video clips for them here and here respectively. But it is at the far end of the collection where we find two tunes that, in our humble opinion, cry out for single treatment; hear us out. Were we to don our A&R cap -- which we do enjoy doing now and again -- we'd advise releasing a vinyl 7" with the terrific, buoyant strummer "Those Were Dark Days" on the A-side, and the instrospective coldwave dreamer "Frost Heaves" on the flip. The former song is a very pleasant reminder of the late-career classic "Stormy Weather" from Echo And The Bunnymen, and succeeds on the strength of Hendrix's even vocal, big guitars in the chorus and a bouncing beat. The latter tune is a perfect foil, desolate and icy, the cool side of our proposed aural McDLT. Fortunately all of Urban Turks Country Jerks is available to stream on Soundcloud, and so you can weigh the merits of our imaginary single via the embeds below, or click this link to hear the whole shooting match. Urban Turks Country Jerks was released April 28 by Dallas-based Moon Sounds Records on CD or as a digital download. We previously wrote about Hendrix's Pink Skin EP here in 2012. Hendrix, formerly of indie rockers Flannery, has been producing music for almost two decades at this point -- at least one song at his web site dates back to 1996. Peruse his entire catalog right here.