October 30, 2014

Review: Ahuizotl | Integrity Is Overrated

American indie fans who know just one thing about Cologne, Germany probably know it as the home of electronic music goliath Kompakt. But in the shadow of that label -- whose aesthetic persistently looks toward a minimalist, abstract and beat-driven future -- a veteran guitar band called Ahuizotl operates within the more traditional framework of indie rock. Although the foursome only just released its long-anticipated full-length debut last week, it has been lurking in the underground in one form or another for about a decade, and has shared stages with such big-font bands as Wild Flag, The Twilight Sad and Zookeeper. The band's sound reaches back yet another decade, something Ahuizotl acknowledges by joking "we're from the '90s." And indeed the act's sound is a reverent love-letter to the losercore of yore. But most importantly, its new set Integrity Is Overrated contains great songs, including a progressive epic that suggests one exciting possible future for a band whose work is firmly rooted in the past.

Opener "Ghosts Of Departed Quantities" commences with a plodding analog synth figure that perhaps winks toward Cologne's electronic overground, but the stilted lick is gradually subsumed into a clockwork arrangement of spiky guitar and bass. The interlocking parts suggest the efficiency of '90s German/Danish noise-rock heroes 18th Dye, but guitarist and fronter Barry Langer's understated yet emotive vocals -- which enter with the first verse -- are more reminiscent of those of indie hero J. Mascis, and indeed a Dinosaur Jr. influence (sans the mind-blowing guitars solos) permeates Ahuizotl's entire album. Using Dinosaur and its American underground peers as guideposts, the German act's music presents as pretty conventional guitar/bass/synth/drums stuff. But just as with Mr. Langer's relateable, everyman accounts of relationships breaking down, the magic is in the details. From the drum break of "Perfect Day," to the terrific back-to-back sequencing of the quasi title track "Movie" and "Everybody's Breaking Up So Why Don't We?," the arrangements are economical and well-balanced, the performances remarkably tight. To be sure there is a touch of Teutonic precision to the proceedings, but Integrity Is Overrated is not without its own earnest passion.

As alluded to supra and elsewhere, the set's crowning achievement is the slyly titled eight-minute song suite "I Wanna Be Ignored." Its first three minutes are textbook Ahuizotl, but from there the exploration begins: first with a tense vamp that quietly intensifies into a full-blown guitar rave-up for the next two minutes, and then the song gently and gracefully decomposes into a jazzy jam marked by seeping feedback, what sounds like vibraphone, and light guitar leads. It's an extraordinary effort from the band, and one we hope might be considered a model for similarly adventurous work in the future. Ahuizotl bookends "Ignored" with two of the best tracks from its 2012 Lice EP, "Self-Made" and "Slide," making the back-half of Integrity Is Overrated particulary rewarding, and raising the spectre that fans who purchase the set on vinyl may wear out side B before side A.

Integrity Is Overrated was released by Tumbleweed Records Oct. 24, and Ahuizotl feted the set with a record release show at Cologne's King Georg club the following night. The album is available in a limited edition of 250 vinyl 12" records and as a digital download, both of which can be purchased via Ahuizotl's Bandcamp yert right here. A video for "Ghost Of Departed Quantities" was shot in early September, so remain vigilant and your attention should be reward before too long, we expect.

Ahuizotl: Bandcamp | Facebook | Internerds | Soundcloud

October 24, 2014

Review: Roomrunner | Separate EP

If you've read anything about Baltimore noise-rock unit Roomrunner, and we're guessing you have, you know people can't seem to stop saying that the foursome loves the '90s rock. The band was practically suffocated with comparisons to Nirvana and assertions that it loved grunge during its last album cycle, although we have half a memory of a sticker applied to the face of the LP that suggested Roomrunner had a pretty solid sense of humor about it. After all, what's a band to do -- at least people are paying attention, right? Well, what Roomrunner did was evolve, and to an impressive degree, in fact, as evidenced by the foursome's fourth release, the terrific and massively listenable Separate EP.

The tunes on the short set tout a less dense, more nimble mix of elements, an apparent byproduct of all four members of Roomrunner contributing to songwriting for the set. In effect, the new dynamic masterfully frees the band from the glue trap of its earlier super-saturated, sludgy sound. Where Ideal Cities was an unrelenting listen that regularly featured overwhelming fuzz, Separate is marked by a notable amount of space within even more sophisticated and tuneful compositions. Sure, no one will ever call songs like the new one "Push Down & Turn" spare, but the mechanistic EP closer "Slow" is almost as airy and fluid as a Pinback song, and shows the remarkable degree to which Roomrunner's reality is greater than its supposed influences. On "Slow" Bowen presents a lower, gravely voice, before the song shifts into a bombastic, Weezer-styled chord progression appointed by simple, effective vocal harmonies that trail off in a series of surprisingly contented "doo doo doo doos."

The more balanced -- dare we say separated -- mix of Separate de-emphasizes guitars, or at least loud distorted ones, leaving room for different tones and textures to reveal themselves. Maybe they were there all along, hiding in the corners, paved over in album mixes by colossal guitars and explosive, room-filling drumming. Speaking of, notable EP opener "Ms. DNA" is packed tightly with some chunky, floor-stomping 4/4, but veers into a nifty 7/4 bridge. Fronter Denny Bowen smartly matches his nasal, distorted vocal to the tune serrated riff during the verses, making the song a fairly irresistible calling card for the collection. Dynamite preview track "Chrono Trigger" and its no-less-awesome-but-more-ridiculously-titled successor "ESPN Zone," instead of looking across the country (and the decades), seem to find inspiration in more proximal D.C. post-hardcore acts like Jawbox -- which, incidentally, was fronted by the EP's producer, J. Robbins -- or Shudder To Think. As the EP winds down the band continues to fluidly shift gears, executing some exciting dynamic shifts and entertaining some lighter, occasionally even jangly guitar. It's a new morning for Roomrunner, and we are very stoked to hear the next full-length set.

The Separate EP was released Tuesday via Accidental Guest on 12" vinyl or digital download; you can acquire the vinyl right here and the ones and zeroes right here. A bunch of live dates are posted at the act's Bandcamp right here; assuming you are reading this review the moment it goes live, you are probably missing Roomrunner's hometown show tonight, but the act is slated to perform in America's Living Room, a/k/a The Silent Barn in Brooklyn, tomorrow night, Oct. 25. -- A Dillon Riley and Jay Breitling joint

Roomrunner: Bandcamp | Facebook

That Was The Show That Was: Roomrunner with Shannon And The Clams | Great Scott | 17 June

October 23, 2014

Today's Hotness: Happy You, Nothing, Crying

Happy You, Giggle, detail

>> Far be it from us to invade the purview of the artist, and tell her or him what to do. All the same, and as much as we absolutely love it, wouldn't the terrific new record Giggle from New York dream-pop septet Happy You be even more terrific if it were sequenced in reverse? Turn the record on its head, and it leads off with the angular, It Hugs Back-esque stunner "Chummy," with its wonderfully melodic and relatively mellow chorus, and then slides into the set's cracking title track right in the crucial number two slot. And how could you not want "Giggle" in at number two? With another undeniable melody mainlined via breathy vocals, ample fuzz and ethereal feedback gently leads the song up to a near dead-stop. There a curious and quiet bridge -- reminiscent of early Mercury Rev -- introduces an ecstatic, but all-too-brief sax solo that foreshadows (if you are going by the Clicky Clicky-approved alternate sequence) the totally bananas sax playing that sets off the buzz-sawed strummer "Blood Blood Blood." Alas, as Giggle was already issued digitally Tuesday, and vinyl pre-orders are already being taken for a planned Dec. 5 LP release date, our proposed running order will remain unofficial. But you could also do a lot worse than starting your record off as Happy You does, with the optimistic and giddy blaster "La La La Summer," which casts a spell with charming and innocent lyrics "summer's coming and we're hoping that its good" and "spitting in the wishing well is better than goodbye." Frontwards or backwards, Giggle is a very rewarding listen, and we're hopeful the act makes a trip to Boston before too long. There appears to be a local connection, too, as Coaches' Brady Custis is listed as an additional performer at the Happy You Bandcamp, which we highly recommend you visit forthwith to grab the download and pre-order the 12" vinyl. The first edition of the LP is 300 pieces pressed to random-colored vinyl. Happy You's next show, according to the banner at its Facebook dojo, is tomorrow night at a house in Boerum Hill, Brooklyn, so, uhhhh, ask a punk? While you sort that out, stream all of Giggle via the embed below.

>> Earlier this month Philly's resident existential noise-thugs Nothing unleashed to the wilds of the Internets their first new original material since their crushing debut LP Guilty of Everything. The song, a dense, chugging number entitled "July The Fourth," arrives as half of the band's contribution to a split 12" due from Run For Cover Nov. 18. The other side of the platter features tunes from the self-described bad boys of nu-gaze, Whirr. "July The Fourth" is the short set's final cut, and it sheds the hazier gloom found elsewhere in favor of a more charged and chaotic, twin-guitar attack. We still fondly recall with precise detail seeing these acts at Boston's Great Scott last year. Nothing's Domenic Palermo wildly stage dove into a crowd of, errr, no one, and Whirr played so loudly the walls and ceiling ominously shook all around us. And so we are collectively psyched for this split 12", which will be released in an edition of 5,000 pieces with an etched B-side available in myriad color options (black appears have already sold out, but pink, baby blue, cream/green, and green/baby blue/yellow starburst apparenty remain). The media in question comes packaged with a special behind-the-scenes DVD titled In The Studio that we presume captures aspects of the recording sessions, which will surely prove entertaining and/or illuminating. Stream "July The Fourth" via the embed, and pre-order the record right here directly from Run For Cover. -- Dillon Riley

>> In other Run For Cover news: Crying, the chiptune-oriented trio that includes LVL UP's Nick Corbo and Whatever, Dad's Elaiza Santos along with a (figurative) cat named Ryan, disclosed that it will release a first set for RFC imminently, a double EP titled Get Olde/Second Wind. The release combines the first physical manifestation of the Purchase, New York-based threesome's 2013 debut on the A-side with with a brand new six-song companion EP on the flip of a single LP. The band is already streaming one of the new songs from Second Wind entitled "Batang Killjoy." The briskly paced and fresh-faced tune proffers a sharper, crunchier edge than the balance of the material on the relatively light Get Olde, replacing the former's dream-pop sheen with slicker alt-rock riffage. The tune also has one of the most romantic lyrics we've heard in a while: "yr girl is in the pew / I feel insane sitting next to you." You can pre-order Get Olde/Second Wind from Run For Cover right here. The set is available in an edition of 1,000 pieces pressed to blue, pink, white and blue/pink starburst media. Crying will go out on tour Nov. 11 with Modern Baseball, Knuckle Puck and Somos, a tour that last more than a month. The road show rolls into Boston Dec. 14 for what will surely be a hot evening at the olde town's fabled Paradise Rock Club; the show is all ages and doors are at 6PM. Grab tickets for the show here, and stream "Batang Killjoy" via the embed below. -- Dillon Riley

October 21, 2014

Review: Happy Diving | Big World

San Francisco sludge-pop upstarts Happy Diving first breeched our radar at the onset of the year via a digital/cassette EP, but the East Bay act is poised to decisively put its stamp on 2014 with an ear-pleasing, skull-pounding full-length debut titled Big World. Due Nov. 4, the record bears all of the hallmarks of a contemporary classic indie release: recorded quickly (two days); with a hot shot up-and-coming producer (Jack Shirley of Deafheaven, Joyce Manor and Whirr fame); backed by a rising area imprint (Father/Daughter Records). Oh, it also rocks.

As with the likely incessant humming inside producer/The Cars guy Ric Ocasek's head, Happy Diving brings the fuzz. Indeed, Big World channels Ocasek-produced touchstones like Weezer's thrilling blue album and Nada Surf's High/Low -- and, to a lesser extent perhaps, Bad Brains' Rock For Light -- into aggressive punk rock forms. With each pummeling chorus, grit and dirt shudders loose from Happy Diving's sustained, high-output sound like the dessicated refuse from sonic flypaper faced with a strong breeze. And so thick rhythm guitars establish a formidable aural wall along the length of Big World. It's perhaps the most pronounced element substantiating the Weezer comparison (although the band's occasional third guitarist is clearly a big fan), although Happy Diving's melodic sense is fairly keen as well. Even so, the constant clipping and in-the-red tones of songs including "Mikey's Rules" and "Weird Dream," all the searing feedback and sustain, evoke something ultimately darker and more dejected than Rivers Cuomo's adolescent observations. Big World highlight "Space Ooze" follows this model, economizing its down-stroked chords to create a compact punk bruiser with thrilling single-note bends, a quick verse, a sore-and-subtle harmonic "oohing" bridge and a slapdash guitar solo. The tune's breakneck pace implies a sense of danger, leading the song somewhere substantially more troubled. In this context, and especially when taking into account the album art, the album title is less optimistic than it is anxious.

Fronter and guitarist Matt Berry's resigned singing does much to establish the disaffected mood of Big World. Mr. Berry's smooth yet sour pipes evoke the characteristic confusions and frustrations of 20-somethings, specifically that state of feeling one way while being pressured to present another. And so Berry's singing injects another dimension to the sweeter melodies of the more pop-oriented "Sad Planet," and imbues much of Big World with greater emotional depth than a superficial read of its songs might otherwise note. Still, song titles like "Always Noon," "Whatever" and the aforementioned quirky, sci-fi referencing duo "Sad Planet" and "Space Ooze," evidence that Happy Diving don't take all of this rock 'n' roll business too, too seriously. So as the listener can imagine the year-old foursome running through its repertoire in a dimly-lit basement -- pissed off and disenchanted with the world, perhaps -- she or he can still also imagine Berry and co. still goofing off and having fun.

Big World will be released by Father/Daughter Nov. 4. Said release is being celebrated with a release party tomorrow night in Oakland, Calif. at 1234 Records; the show includes Fish Breath, LVL Up and Big Ups. The album is available as a digital download as well as a limited edition vinyl 12" pressed to oxblood, oxblood and baby blue splatter, or classic black media, and it appears there are only 100 pieces of each, so be sure to pre-order one while they last via the band's Bandcamp right here. The entirely un-eff-withable Art Is Hard label will release a cassette version of Big World in the UK Nov. 3; there are only 100 of those available. Stream three tracks from the record via the embeds below. -- Edward Charlton

Happy Diving: Bandcamp | Facebook

October 18, 2014

Review: The Hush Now | Sparkle Drive

Lush, intricately layered and introspective, the latest LP from Boston dream-pop veterans The Hush Now is certainly its most finely crafted and perhaps even its most beautiful. It's often an understated collection, to be sure, and it comes from a rarified place for bands, as it is driven by something beyond a youthful hunger, and most bands don't stick around long enough to see what is beyond hunger in their creative wellsprings. But then, The Hush Now don't hold themselves out to be young and hungry, and we don't think the guys will mind us saying so. Instead, Sparkle Drive evidences, well, drive. It presents a band driven by the pursuit of an aesthetic ideal of guitar-pop. The fact that an aesthetic ideal can likely never be achieved, much less agreed upon, makes the pursuit even bolder, almost archetypal, almost quixotic. And -- as fans familiar with the band's ludicrously troubled history know -- such an endeavor is totally The Hush Now. Turn Sparkle Drive up very loud, maybe even don some headphones, and you will hear that even destination-less pursuit can sound absolutely magical.

As did Slowdive with its slowly spinning swan song Pygmalion, The Hush Now, which was launched by guitarist Noel Kelly in the middle of the last decade, confidently banks on the new record's slow dazzle. It's a bit bold, electing to not lead fans by the hand with compact, easy hooks and pre-chewed ideas. Which is not to say that Sparkle Drive, the band's fourth long-player, lacks an exquisite melodic sense or is filled with over-academic or atonal racket -- far from it. Instead, the set largely revels in a mid-tempo mellowness, the band's dearly-held affinity for '70s AM gold meshing perfectly with its love of shoegaze. The first single from the set is lead guitarist Adam Quane's jittery rumination "Arthur Come On, Really You Can't Be Serious," which is an odd choice for a single, but then again Sparkle Drive is sort of an odd record. Tucked away at track seven is the absolute gem "Sorry Sugar Well...," which delivers a classic The Hush Now indie pop song, but with a twist: a delightful -- and occasionally searing -- baritone saxophone lead throughout. There are shuddering moments of greatness on the record, like the triumphant chorus of "Spyglass," sung by bassist Pat MacDonald, or the absolutely smouldering climax of the Adam Quane-sung closer "Eleanor," where tremeloed guitars and gently chanted vocals roil and churn in a manner just shy of violent -- proof that, when it's in the mood, The Hush Now is Boston's preeminent shoegaze act (of course, the band is not so 'gazey that someone shouldn't have commissioned an André Obin dance remix of album opener "Panda"). The album touts a perfect epilogue in the form of a secret track, drummer Barry Marino's incredibly poignant, 80-second solo turn "I'm In A Band." The tune dates back to 2011, when Marino released it as a solo track, and the tune is no less affecting three years later, particularly its final plea: "I am asking, let me have some more time please."

Sparkle Drive is persistently rich and engaging, a testament to the brilliant songcraft and performance chops on display here. And with it The Hush Now has not only fully committed to being a four-headed songwriting hydra, but to deep-dive explorations of mood and sound, having conquered the more mechanical and mundane aspects of being a rock band. The Hush Now self-releases Sparkle Drive Sept. 23, and the record is being fĂȘted with a dynamite release show tomorrow night in Somerville, Mass. at the Davis Square Theater. The evening includes sets by Boston indie pop giants Slowdim and Emerald Comets, a Guillermo Sexo side project led by the inimitable Reuben Bettsak. Price of admission includes a copy of Sparkle Drive on CD, and proceeds from the event are being donated to a multiple sclerosis charity. Full details are right here; while you are digesting those, stream all of Sparkle Drive via the Bandcamp embed below.

The Hush Now: Bandcamp | Facebook | Internerds | Soundcloud

Previous Coverage:
Review: The Hush Now | Memos
The Hush Now Play The Pill | Great Scott, Boston | 12 August
Be Prepared: The Hush Now | Memos | 27 Sept.
Catching Up With Depeche Clicky: Hush Now Piece In The Boston Phoenix
The Hush Now Prep Memos, Remastered Constellations Due June 14
That Was The Show That Was: The Hush Now | Great Scott | 2 August
That Was The Show That Was: The Hush Now | Great Scott | 6 March
Review: The Hush Now| Constellations
YouTube Rodeo: The Hush Now's "Constellations"
Today's Hotness: The Hush Now
Back To Now: The Hush Now Interview With Noel Kelly
In The Studio With... The Hush Now
Review: The Hush Now | The Hush Now

October 16, 2014

Today's Hotness: Radiator Hospital, Red Sea, Steve Hauschildt

Totally insane four-way split with Radiator Hospital, Krill, LVL UP and Ovlov, detail, transform

>> Punk-pop saviors Radiator Hospital already put out one of the great power-pop releases of the year with its life-affirming Torch Song LP [review] over the summer, but the remarkably prolific operation led by Grand Rapids, Mich.-bred Sam Cook-Parrot just let loose to the indie-verse another great pair. Mr. Cook-Parrott and co. contributed two tunes to a towering four-band split from the un-eff-withable tag-team combo of Exploding In Sound and Double Double Whammy. The two Radiator Hospital tracks, "Half Empty" and "Now & Then," fall in line with the folk-y lo-fi detours that spangle last year's full-length tour de force Something Wild [review], our formal introduction to Philly collective, but are notable in that neither tune features Cook-Parrott on lead vocal. Featured alongside Radiator Hospital on the aforementioned split 7" are Boston bugcore provocateurs Krill, fuzz dynamos LVL UP and guitar-band goliaths Ovlov, making the four-way split a proverbial dream team of indie rock bliss. Those who monitor our social media spew closely have already heard Krill and Ovlov's offerings, but everyone can hear them again via the Soundcloud embed below, as well as the tunes from Radiator Hospital and LVL UP. Score the record from Double Double Whammy right here. Blue-and-yellow vinyl platters are already sold out, but the 7" is still available pressed to yellow or blue media; vinyl orders ships next month, while the digital release was earlier this week. Also of note is Mr. Cook-Parrott's current solo tour with the equally solo Allison Crutchfield of Swearin'. Local fans would be wise to note that said tour slides into the Boston area tomorrow night for a show at the Democracy Center in Harvard Square; it wraps two days later in Brooklyn. Details for the Cambridge show -- which also includes Dessert First and Pre Studded Cardigan -- can be found right here. -- Dillon Riley

>> We were bowled over by the Yardsticks for Human Intelligence EP, Red Sea's early 2014 collection of four two-year-old tracks which together formed the perfect calling card for the mysterious Atlanta-based indie rock act's skewed songcraft. Drawing from the cold but brilliant guitar sound of Women's masterful Public Strain album, Red Sea's EP arrived seemingly out of nowhere to establish the band as both highly adventurous and as possessing distinctly original songwriting. And, just as Yardsticks revealed a mysterious, guitar-driven universe contained therein, so too does the band's striking recent release In The Salon. The short set, which surfaced via Bandcamp way back on Sept. 8, is a genre-expanding effort that explores new applications of drum, bass and synth elements while also nudging the band's production into more precise focus. It is an extraordinarily singular set which boldly challenges traditional rock constructions with jazzy flourishes and unexpected twists, while still being able to get the head nodding in the same manner as, say, Talking Heads, Joy Division and Prince. Red Sea recorded In The Salon's seven tracks live in the studio, and man, the tightness, clarity and ferocity of its complex pieces are breathtaking. Opener "Life Image Module" touts sweetly sung vocals, two guitars and a bass that all seem to be playing slightly off from one another. That dynamic, of "disconnected connectedness" is an important element of In The Salon. During both "On The Marble" and "Participation" Red Sea skitters around the time signature, guitar strums and snare hits coming in front of or behind the beat, ultimately building a larger groove or melody by wholly unconventional means. "Participation" is the stunner of the set, sounding like a long lost, experimental pop piece by the two Davids in their '70s prime (Byrne and Bowie, of course) [Also, we'd argue that Red Sea's dazzling no-wave groover "Chance Arrest" would simply not be if Byrne and Robert Fripp hadn't first offered the blindingly brilliant "Under Heavy Manners." -- Ed.]. The deep, tuneful vocals and clean and jagged guitar hooks contrast against mind-blowing stick work, wherein the drummer diverts the snare in and out of time within certain bars, as if an old Aphex Twin sound card sprouted arms, grew sentient and developed a taste for the region's prized peaches. And that fantastical image, really, sums the EP up. In The Salon is the collective effort of a group of musicians so clever, they both playfully and nobly taunt listeners to join them as they dive into their own confounding, extrasensory universe. Stream the EP via the embed below and click through to purchase. -- Edward Charlton

>> We were pleased to encounter a notice recently from Brooklyn imprint Air Texture informing us that the ambient electronic musician Steve Hauschildt is co-curating the upcoming Air Texture Volume IV digital compilation. A nifty idea, the Air Texture series selects two experimental artists to compile a two-disc mix that includes both new works by the curators as well as other pieces that tickle their fancy. Air Texture Volume IV, which is co-curated by a producer named BNJMN, features two tracks from Mr. Hauschildt bookending the first disc, including the preview track "Watertowers." The glistening instrumental commences with what sounds like accelerated insect noises before introducing Hauschildt's familiar, arpeggiated synth work. The piece not long after settles on a group of interlocking synth textures that at different times evoke classic house music and the icy shoegaze of mid-period M83, all while still functioning in its entrancing, ambient context. Although the piece deviates little throughout its six minutes, it establishes a transporting, positive groove that challenges the listener to reconsider what constitutes dance music. What is EDM without the constant serial pulse of the drum machine? It's something that electronic producer Kaito explored more than a decade ago with the brilliant pair of records Special Life and Special Love [link, link]. But it's also probably something very much like "Watertowers," which you can stream via the embed below. Air Texture Volume IV will be released Nov. 3; pre-orders for the collection are not yet live, but we advise you to watch this space. Hauschildt embarks on a European tour Nov. 1, and all planned dates are listed right here. We last wrote about Hauschildt here in July 2013. -- Edward Charlton

October 14, 2014

Show Us Yours 22: Coaches

Coaches practice space, October 2014, transform

While this blog's executive editor's ability to see shows has been heavily curtailed this year, our operatives are still out in clubs and passing back word of (figuratively) the good, the bad and the queen on the regular. When things come up more than once, it certainly gets our attention, and so the second time someone pinged us to say "you really need to see this band Coaches," we decided to check in with fronter and guitarist Brady Custis to see what the Boston noise-gaze quartet has cooking, and where it does that cooking, in the context of our long-running Show Us Yours series of practice space-centric profiles. Coaches bowed with the crushing shoegaze face-scraper "AmIsAreWasWere" early in the summer, but the massive tune and its more nuanced instrumental b-side are all we've heard thus far. Mr. Custis, the act's chief songwriter, tells us the band works slowly, deliberately, and as inspiration strikes. They do so in a beery space with ill-suited decorations and nifty freight elevators over in Charlestown. From there, Coaches is working on an EP at the moment, although there's no timetable for release just yet. Read on for yet more detail about where Coaches makes the rock, how they make the rock, a show at Charlie's Kitchen next week and a planned Toys For Tots benefit that you will be hearing more about late in the year. We're grateful to Custis for his time and thoughtful answers, and certainly recommend that you press play on that Bandcamp embed below before you start reading our interview.
Clicky Clicky Music Blog: So why do you use this practice space?

Brady Custis: Like most bands around Boston, we just kind of stumbled upon this space [out] of necessity. You can't really exist as a loud band these days in the city without [a space] unless you're extremely lucky with neighbors and whatnot. After asking around, this [place in Charlestown] was the cheapest one we heard of. My girlfriend's co-worker at the time actually already had the space and was looking for another band to help split the cost, so we moved in.

CCMB: Is there an idiosyncrasy or quirk to the space that has affected the sound of one of your songs, or even the overall sound of Coaches?

BC: Consciously, the space affects the bands sound ... in that it's a bit alienating in there, sometimes in an endearing way. The space just has absolutely nothing to do with us. We were the last band to move in and there's all this hippy shit on the walls and beer bottles and trash everywhere. We're not about to clean up someone else's trash [Stay strong, comrades! -- Ed.], so it just sits there getting kicked around for the most part. To that degree, it makes playing in there pretty funny and helps us not take ourselves too seriously. We can be making all this dark brooding noise and look up and see some overly-trippy tapestry and it just makes us roll our eyes and brings us back into reality.

Subconsciously, I don't know if its the weather or what, but I think the place has these days where it sounds great and days where it sounds terrible. If it sounds terrible one day it could make a really cool idea sound bad and we'll scrap it because we're completely unaware of how the space is affecting our decisions. Alternatively, it can make a decent idea sound incredible just because the harmonics all blend together well for that part in that room and that room only and we could end up keeping something sub-par for a little while.

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

BC: Spilled beer and body odor. I'm sure we contribute to that at least in part, but we like to blame it on whoever was in there before us just as a nice band bonding exercise before we all get down to business. I hope the band that comes in after us blames us just the same.

CCMB: You only have a small number of songs out in the wild for public consumption presently. Is songwriting something that happens quickly for the band, or is the process time-consuming, even laborious? Assuming writing is happening, are you stockpiling tunes for an LP yet, or do you have your eye on some shorter releases in the nearer term before making the leap to making an album?

BC: I go through periods of heavy songwriting followed by heavy down time. Because of that, we end up arranging way too many songs at once and it gets really hectic. When we're smart we take one song and rip it to shreds finding every good possibility and go from there. That way we can have a decent-sounding song by the end of the day. When we do it wrong, it can take weeks to find something we like. Working for so long on one thing only makes it harder to be happy with the way it turns out because you feel so far removed from it after a while.

We have plenty of songs just dying to be heard and it's honestly kind of hard keeping them tucked away. But I've been of the opinion recently that in the modern world an album is something you release when people are ready to listen. We have a lot to say, but it's just not worth it to throw these songs out there and have it be ignored. For that reason I think EPs and singles are where we're headed until we have a large enough audience or a label, or whatever convinces us it's worth it to release an LP. Regardless, I'm having fun reading short stories as a way to better understand the intricacies of what makes a compelling EP. Four songs is pretty much the most anyone wants to hear from a band they aren't being told to like anyway.

CCMB: We know you have the show coming up on the 20th at Charlie's Kitchen in Cambridge, Mass. Beyond that, what do the next six months look like for Coaches?

BC: An EP is in the works, hopefully coming out in the next couple months if we can find some way to actually get it printed. Beyond that, I'm in the process of organizing a benefit show in December called Noise for Toys. The basic premise is instead of paying ten at the door everyone brings a toy worth at least $10. After the gig I'll take them to what seems to be the most reputable and locally oriented toys for tots campaign in the city and drop off everyone's donations.
Coaches' next live date is next Monday at Charlie's Kitchen in Cambridge, Mass., supporting a bill toplined by psych-rock giants Guillermo Sexo and also featuring Peachpit. The show is notable as being the last to feature long-time Guillermo Sexo drummer Ryan Connelly on drums. Mr. Connelly is leaving to focus on other things, we are told; he also drums for cosmic Americana superlatives Hallelujah The Hills and seems to keep quite busy otherwise. Despite Connelly's departure, the Guillermo Sexo juggernaut shows no sign of slowing, and promises a new single, video and even a full-length in 2015 are all in the offing. But we digress...

Coaches: Bandcamp | Facebook | Internerds

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 | Seeds Of Doubt | The Cherry Wave

October 11, 2014

Today's Hotness: Benjamin Shaw, The Sun Parade

Benjamin Shaw -- You & Me EP, detail, transform

>> Our natural inclination is to slag off Audio Antihero for releasing a single for the best song from its recent Benjamin Shaw release some six months after said release, but of course the little London label that could has beaten us to the punch, pre-emptively dubbing the single -- actually an EP -- a "cash-in." Despite the weird timing, the You & Me EP is neither a crass money grab nor a strategic misstep, as Mr. Shaw's stand-out tune -- which we spotlighted in our review of the charming full-length Goodbye, Cagoule World in April -- is supported by three exceptionally good cover versions from others unfortunate enough to be tagged with the descriptor "Audio Antihero artist." Indeed, Shaw's marvelous, wry and jaunty original is complemented by terrific and distinctly different versions from Jack Hayter, erstwhile Bostonian Cloud and Broken Shoulder. One of our favorite musical elements of the original is the burbling synth line, which recalls Hypo's amazing "Nice Day." Cloud has taken that piece of the tune and layered delicate layers of icy guitar and angelic, edgeless vocals over top. Mr. Hayter toys with the meter of the lyrics and renders the tune as a Joe Cocker-esque sea shanty, his papery tenor speeding up and slowing down over alternately syrupy and sticky pedal steel. Experimental droner Broken Shoulder plays to its formidable strengths, rounding out the EP with a strong, other-worldly and five-minute-plus rendering that sounds like the scattering remnants of a dream about the original song. Audio Antihero released the You & Me EP Oct. 6 as a digital download, and we unreservedly recommend it to your attention. Stream the short set via the Bandcamp embed below, and click through to purchase for the ridiculously reasonable price of £1, which you should do, before Jamie Antihero starts talking about shutting down the label again.

>> Oh, how we have forsaken The Sun Parade. The Northampton, Mass.-based quartet's terrifically catchy Heart's Out EP was released a month ago, and the set's immediate and revved-up folk-rock tunes have been in steady rotation at the Clicky Clicky dojo ever since drummer Noam Schatz dropped the record on us a few weeks back. Mr. Schatz, long-time readers will recall, previously detonated the cans for the late, great Mobius Band. Schatz has spent time with a bit of musical this-and-that since the end of Mobius Band, but The Sun Parade is the first touring act he's joined up with since the mid-ish oughts. The Sun Parade was out last month with the popular-with-many-people-and-now-Boston-Calling-veterans Lake Street Dive, and we can't imagine its snappy numbers didn't find favor with the headliner's audience. The foursome's Beatles-fed Americana foregrounds sturdy vocal harmonies in its big choruses, punctuates its point with scads of scritchy rhythm guitar, and applies some pretty ripping lead guitar now and again, too, while all the while Mr. Schatz's physical playing spurs the compositions ever onward. EP highlight "I'm Still Here" works itself toward a frenzy in its final quarter, as does the groovier cut "A Plane To New Zealand," but the former tune's crafty chord changes and fluid harmonies in the chorus make for ready hooks that will be hard for listeners to shake. While out on tour The Sun Parade recorded the obligatory Daytrotter session, so if you chew through Heart's Out and need more music, keep your ears open for that. The act has scattered live engagements during the remainder of this fall, including a show in Providence next weekend, and you can check out all show dates right here. Stream the title track to Heart's Out via the Bandcamp embed below, and click through to stream the whole magilla and to purchase the short set on CD or as a digital download. It's worth reminding you that Schatz isn't the only Mobius Band alum with new music out there: last month we reviewed Cookies' excellent LP Music For Touching right here. That act is led by former Mobius Band fronter Ben Sterling.

October 10, 2014

Today's Hotness: The Cherry Wave, The Manhattan Love Suicides, Weird Womb

The Cherry Wave -- Whitey single, detail, transform

>> Glaswegian shoegaze demigods The Cherry Wave this week fired a shot across the bow, issuing to the wilds of the Interzizzles the first preview track from its sure-to-be world-eating debut LP Avalancher. The set is slated for release in November, and the new tune culled from it, "Whitey," has us amply excited. When we last checked in with the quartet in August, all that we knew about the forthcoming LP was that it will close with a nine-minute epic titled "Fuzzthrower." "Whitey," by contrast, is compact, kinetic and markedly tuneful. The song evidences that The Cherry Wave seems to have struck an admirable balance in its aural mix: while tunes from its prior EPs often featured crushing walls of guitar, the guitars in "Whitey" are relatively reigned in, allowing room for crisp drumming and steady, impressionistic vocals to find equal footing in the stereo field. The overall effect recalls somewhat the work of North American contemporaries Ringo Deathstarr, with whom, coincidentally, The Cherry Wave played a show late in the summer. Almost abruptly as it starts, "Whitey" winks out. Stream the tune via the Bandcamp embed below, and click through to download the track in exchange for a dollar amount of your choosing. As we said in August during Show Us Yours 21, we expect Avalancher to hit and hit hard, so if you are not yet versed in the wonders of the Wave, now's the time to get into it. Bring on November.

>> Too often we have turned on to bands just as they are about to toss themselves into a pile of mothballs, and only very rarely have we experienced the thrill of getting one of those bands back. The band's original run was from 2006 to 2009, and a scan of the CC archives suggests we turned onto them about a year before they called it a day. So last week's expected announcement about the forthcoming reunion record from The Manhattan Love Suicides was quite a thrill. The Leeds-based foursome's comeback LP is titled More Heat! More Panic!, and its preview track "(Never Stop) Hating You" is a sure bet to inspire some of each, with its JAMC-inspired guitar cacaphony and candy-coated singing delivering an arresting blend of noise and melody. More Heat! More Panic! is a co-release of brilliant London label Odd Box Records and veteran U.K. label Squirrel Records, which we believe is run by Darren Lockwood and Caroline McChrystal of Manhattan Love Suicides. A limited number of red vinyl+t-shirt bundles alotted to Odd Box sold out in just a day when they went on offer earlier this week, but the Internet tells us that Squirrel still has a couple. Otherwise, a larger number of black vinyl+t-shirt and digital+t-shirt bundles -- as well as simple straight black vinyl or download options -- remain available for pre-order. The release date for More Heat! More Panic! is presently listed at the Odd Box Bandcamp as 26 January 2015, which is a terribly distant date. While away some of the hours in between by streaming "(Never Stop) Hating You" via the Bandcamp embed below.

>> Is there no half- or dim-witted publication out there that won't ridiculously assert that garage rock has "returned?" We find it hard to believe that we've actually progressed so far, as a culture, that this hasn't happened more recently, since it seemed like an almost annual occurrence during the first five years or so of this young century. We don't give any credence to such an assertion, of course: long-time readers know well our position, that there is always excellent garage rock happening (or polka, or trance, or string quartets, et cetera), one just needs to seek it out. But with the recent successes of the widely touted Parquet Courts, L.A.'s Meatbodies, Baltimore's Second Best Westerns and now Weird Womb, we're pleasantly surprised some neophyte -- or, more likely, dozens of neophytes all stealing furtive glances at each other and texting together but not actually talking because real life is scary -- isn't declaring garage rock is "back." Weird Womb's Laziness EP, which was issued by the Boston- and New York-based indie Midriff Records late last month, certainly packs enough beery bashing and blunt-force hooks to legitimately excite the sensibilities of any rock fan. The Brooklyn-based and Arizona-bred foursome's six-song set shakes with a fun, wholly unpretentious energy for almost 16 entire minutes, then it ends because fuck you. The massive EP highlight "Luxury Punks" hits hard with a three-chord assault punctuated by fronter Dakota Pollock's slacker hollering, which sounds always at the verge of an slippery, universe-unlocking, last-call-fueled revelation. Weird Womb play a hotly anticipated local show at Great Scott in Boston Oct. 27, on a bill top-lined by The Wytches; the band has a number of other dates lined up presently, that will lead the band on an unsteady march out to Lexington, KY and back for a pair of obligatory CMJ shows. Midriff released Weird Womb's Laziness EP Sept. 23 on vinyl and digital download, both of which can be ordered directly from the Midriff High Command right here. Try before you buy? Why, sure you can -- the entirety of Laziness is posted to Soundcloud and can be streamed via the embed below. Sounds great right now, will sound even better at the bottom of a 30-pack of Genny Red cans at 3AM on a Sunday morning; choose wisely.

October 6, 2014

Johnny Foreigner Side Project Tsunami: New Music Pending From Yr Poetry, Yr Friends and Fridge Poetry, Hear Titanic "Still Got It" Now

Yr Poetry -- No Tribes

Remember the mid-summer news, that two Johnny Foreigner-related side-projects were Voltron-ing together to form still another permutation? Well, even if you don't, the fruits of the union of Johnny Foreigner guitarist and singer Alexei Berrow's Yr Friends project and drummer Junior Elvis Washington Laidley's Fridge Poetry project -- which operates under the nomme de guerre Yr Poetry -- are due Oct. 10 in the form of a cracking mini-album titled No Tribes. The raw and ready seven-song set was recorded with long-time engineer Dom James and will be released via the Yr Friends Bandcamp as a digital download and hand-made, limited-edition CD with booklet like it's the year 200x. Given the slack and subdued vibe of Yr Friends, and the burbling emo-tronics of Fridge Poetry, No Tribes is actually a bit of a surprise. Rather than expressing an average of the two side projects' sounds, the short set is, well, a complete face-rocker. Explosive standout "Bae Ruthie" is massive, with crushing distortion in the lead guitar riff (a sort of inside-out rendering of the riff from Johnny Foreigner's titanic 2010 rocker "Who Needs Comment Boxes When You've Got Knives"), breakneck drumming and Mssrs. Berrow and Laidley desperately harmonizing on the ridiculously catchy chorus "is that all you've got to say?" Impossibly powerful and poignant hooks seem to come to Berrow with disturbing ease, or at least ludicrous frequency, and closer "Still Got It" powerfully delivers with the repeated declaration -- delivered over a storming flurry of strumming and thrilling battery of snare and cymbals from Mr. Laidley -- "I survived a pop-punk summer, shiny heartbreak on the radio." The tune is on par with legendary JoFo album closers "The Coast Was Always Clear" and "Absolute Balance," and is definitive proof that Yr Poetry and its music shouldn't be treated as a secondary effort: No Tribes is the real deal. It is unclear whether we can expect to see Yr Poetry performing live again; our recollection (which may be faulty) is there was a single live performance over the summer. Johnny Foreigner are preparing for a short jaunt to South Africa at the end of the month, and there have already been rumblings about making a fifth proper full-band LP, so the band remains busy.

But not too busy to keep Yr Poetry's component parts from releasing even more new music shortly. Yr Friends' Yr Friends Don't Care What You Look Like EP was to have been released earlier this week, according to a recent email blast, although we have as yet not seen the project hit the Interwhatzitz (although, as we note below, Goldflake Paint has a taste). The new EP comes relatively hot on the heels of another EP issued in August called Yr Friends Ruined It For All Of Us, notable not only for being terrific (the tune "Hella Negatives (Version 2)" is dazzling and delicate and so, so pretty), but also for the inclusion of a cover of Hole's "Malibu." The same recent email blast to the JoFo list last week stated Fridge Poetry will release a new EP Oct. 15 titled Omstart Sessions. Given the title, we can only imagine the material contained therein will have been recorded at the aforementioned Dom James' Omstart studio in Birmingham, England, which as we failed to mention supra is the hometown for everyone we've been talking about here. Fridge Poetry's prior efforts -- particularly its collaborations with The Weaks' Evan Bernard -- have rocked most steadfastly, so we are eager to hear these new songs as well.

Stepping back for a moment, we are extremely happy to be getting so much new music from Johnny Foreigner and its related projects these days. The Birmingham fight-pop heroes recently very quietly passed its 10th anniversary as a band, although a 10th anniversary of bassist Kelly Southern joining up is still a couple years off, apparently feels more like something more worth noting, and is slightly more likely to be celebrated by the somewhat anniversary-adverse act. A recent, somewhat viral Twitter bleep noted with awe how much The Smiths accomplished in just five years; as a fan we're grateful that we are still able to see and hear what Johnny Foreigner are doing 10 years on, and hopefully will be able to say the same thing in another five and perhaps even 10 years. We are pleased to be able to offer a stream of the aforementioned Yr Poetry joint "Still Got It" below. We recommend turning it up quite loud. To hear more newness, check out Goldflake Paint's aforementioned triumvirate of exclusives from the three pending releases right here. And because we're totally jazzed by it right now, below "Still Got It" we're posting all of Yr Friends' Yr Friends Ruined It For All Of Us, as it hit the Internerds whilst we were on holiday this summer and as a result we didn't give it the digital ones and zeroes it deserved at the time.

October 4, 2014

Review: White Laces | Trance

Where do you go? When you've pursued for years a minimalist agenda within the fairly limited framework of a guitar band, when you've refined your sound down to a tight aesthetic kernel that still manages to sound sleek, full and fluid -- where do you go? Well, apparently you go to Philadelphia, which is where thoughtful Richmond space-pop quartet White Laces found itself last winter, recording its sophomore set Trance with studio savant Jeff Zeigler. The resulting record is ambitious and remarkably elegant, filled with shimmer and vim, softly encased in precise delays and reverbs that conjure a steadily breathing aura around White Laces' economical compositions. The music has taken White Laces out of Richmond and Philly and across the U.S. (supporting a peaking The War On Drugs), and where it takes the band next increasingly appears to be within White Laces' own control.

Fans of the band who haven't checked in since its relatively noisy and somewhat less agile self-titled 2010 EP, which was led by the reeling highlight "Motorik Twilight," might not even recognize White Laces' music, so far has it progressed. Those who are just turning on to the act, to whom White Laces is a new, up-and-coming band, are encountering it at perhaps the most opportune time: Trance evidences a foursome cresting, its songwriting inspired, its performances hot, its sounds printed to tape by one of the most creative guys working right now. And while the aforementioned Mr. Zeigler is one of the best getter-of-sounds in the game right now -- from the psychedelic soup of ambient tracks hiding in plain sight on The War On Drugs' 2011 set Slave Ambient to the bright and crisp guitars that led upstart indie-punk trio Break It Up's brilliant "New Penzance" -- the simultaneously more focused and expansive sound he elicited from the White Laces in the studio isn't the only story here on Trance. The fact is that Trance, while a game-changer, does not wholly reinvent the wheel for the band, which established a fertile if spare creative framework with its 2012 debut LP Moves. It's just that Trance consistently -- thrillingly -- presents White Laces' smartest, best musical face.

Lead preview track "Skate Or Die" shudders with passion, from the chiming guitars to fronter and guitarist Landis Wine's unusually rugged and immediate vocal. From incantatory opener "Teenage Brain" -- a sort-of tribal "Everybody Wants To Rule The World" for the disaffected -- through the sedate, thrumming final tune "Strangulation Blues," every measure of the album is more inherently tuneful. With each release White Laces has gone further to divorce itself from genre, but Trance's bracing economy, bright melodicism and the rhythm section's firmly applied timekeeping perhaps counter-intuitively reveals within the band's measured post-punk cool DNA strands twirling back to notable touchstones such as The House Of Love's "Shine On" or even A Flock Of Seagulls' "Space Age Love Song." These referents don't suggest White Laces' sound is dated, but rather that its musical appeal is crossing over from something niche and approaching something out of time, even classic.

Trance is being released by Happenin Records, EggHunt Records and Arrowhawk Records, with each label handling different formats. Alabama-based Happenin releases Trance on CD Tuesday, and is co-releasing the set on vinyl 12" with EggHunt. Richmond-based EggHunt, which just launched this past April, is already offering through its web site 180-gram vinyl pressed to either pink or blue right here. The vinyl edition is limited to 1,000 pieces, with the colors limited to 100 units a piece, topped off by 800 foot-wides pressed to the traditional black media. EggHunt's web site lists the vinyl release date as Oct. 24. Athens, Georgia-based Arrowhawk will release Trance on cassette tapes, but there is as yet no information about when that might be available. For those who missed White Laces' Moves, which we reviewed here in XXX, there is some good news. EggHunt has licensed the collection for a expanded CD release that will be available imminently and is limited to 250 units. The EggHunt CD version of Moves will include two tunes previously available as a cassingle from Treetop Sorbet, "Ascend" b/w "Deep Moves." A third bonus track is included as a hidden track, and to preserve the surprise we won't tell you anything more about that except that a certain very handsome blogger strongly lobbied for its inclusion. Three preview tunes from Trance, "Cruisin'," "Skate Or Die" and "Nothing Clicks," are available to stream via the Soundcloud embeds below. White Laces are expected to announced additional live dates soon, but it will still be pretty busy this month with handful of dates around its home Commonwealth, which are listed below.

White Laces: Bandcamp | Facebook | Internerds | Soundcloud

10.09 -- Strange Matter/Bad Grrrl Anniversary Party -- Richmond, VA
10.17 -- Gillie's -- Blacksburg,VA
10.18 -- Speakertree -- Lynchburg, VA
10.24 -- Broadberry (LP Release Show) -- Richmond, VA
10.25 -- Artistree Festival -- Norfolk, VA
11.14 -- Everybody Hits w/Myrriahs -- Philadelphia, PA