November 27, 2014

Today's Hotness: Robert Robinson, Fridge Poetry

Robert Robinson - Connecticut River (detail)

>> We've been listening again and again to a full-length issued earlier this month from a fellow named Robert Robinson called Connecticut River. It's a ridiculously engaging melange of bedroom pop, free-k folk and ambient exploration that somehow becomes more mysterious even as it reveals more and more of itself over the course of repeat listens. Clicky Clicky gets particularly jazzed about acts that create, furnish and inhabit singular sonic worlds, and Mr. Robinson and his Connecticut River Band (we are assuming the band exists, but would also not be surprised were it mirage) beautifully express a certain insularity or reverie with their loose, expansive compositions. Sometimes, as on the meandering instrumental album highlight "Chill Buds" or opener "Hocus Pocus," the songs stretch toward a distant horizon. While "Song for Popop" is a folksy and minimal bit of slow-core that recalls contemporary work by New Dog, the bulk of the proceedings has a free and psychedelic bent that makes the set as unpredictable as it is enjoyable. Indeed, the dazzling "Slice Raga" faintly echoes the finer moments of the Deerhunter oeuvre, and "Birds Majesty" sounds like an outtake from Pink Floyd's The Man + The Journey. Some light Googling tells us the prolific Mr. Robinson is the primary songwriter from long-running Western Mass. psych folk foursome Sore Eros, which is perhaps best known for its 2013 split 9" -- yeah, you read that right -- with notable Philadelphian Kurt Vile. But Connecticut River is so very impressive, it doesn't seem like it is simply tunes that are Sore Eros seconds or cast-offs. The set was released by Northampton, Mass.'s Feeding Tube records as a digital download Nov. 6, and we highly recommend it to your attention. Stream all of Connecticut River via the embed below and click through to purchase.

>> One can never be sure with the Johnny Foreigner folks -- especially as it wouldn't be terribly unusual for the legendary and Birmingham, England-based fight-pop survivors to issue a song for Christmas -- but at least presently it appears that the final release of 2014 from a member of its cohort is Fridge Poetry's slightly delayed but altogether excellent recent EP, Omstart Sessions. Fridge Poetry, as devoted readers know, is helmed by Johnny Foreigner drummer Junior Elvis Washington Laidley, and is a vehicle for Mr. Laidley's visceral and moving electropop compositions, which rely on guest vocalists to write and sing vocal parts. This latest, five-song set is actually a bit more rock- and guitar-oriented on the front end, but settles into a more blissed and electronic vibe on the final two numbers. The EP is highlighted by the bracing and twinkly emo anthem "Like Poetry," which features dynamite vocals from The Weaks' Evan Bernard, and the burbling closer "Waste Time (CrashDown Redux)." An entrancing video for that latter cut was premiered at Punktastic yesterday, and we humbly suggest that after you've wrapped up your business with Clicky Clicky this day you click this hyperlink and take a gander at said video. Other featured vocalists on the Omstart Sessions EP include Clicky Clicky fave Pete Dixon of Calories and Sunshine Frisbee Laserbeam, Saam Watkins of London emo giants Playlounge, Emmalee Lovelace of Lint, Rob Slater from The Spills and Elos Arma. The EP is available as a standalone digital download, and also in a bundle with a t-shirt or three posters; the shirt art and posters were all designed by South African artist Anja Venter. You can peruse all of your purchase options by clicking through the Bandcamp embed below after you've streamed the EP, which is awesome, and what are you waiting for, and et cetera. Omstart Sessions was self-released Nov. 6. Johnny Foreigner released its titanic fourth LP You Can Do Better in March [review].

November 20, 2014

Today's Hotness: Hideous Towns, Her Magic Wand, Primitive Parts

Hideous Towns - Hideous Towns EP (detail)

They come from the land down under, but their name is lifted straight from a track on The Sundays' legendary debut Reading, Writing & Arithmetic, which is the reason why Melbourne foursome Hideous Towns first caught our eye. The quartet's stirring shoegazey ballad "Undone" is set to feature on a forthcoming Beko Records comp titled Oz Do It Better Vol. 2, which is slated for release in 2015. But a little Googling tells us that the swaying noise-pop gem was included on a self-titled, debut EP Hideous Towns self-released just last month, and you can stream the entire short set via the Bandcamp embed below. We recommend you do, as the Aussie act -- which has apparently only been playing shows about a year -- certainly channels a Sundays vibe, although the dense guitar work and pretty vocals on "Undone" and elsewhere on Hideous Towns aren't as uniformly intricate or fluid as those of Sundays' David Gavurin and Harriet Wheeler, respectively. We admit the comparison is an unfair one, and we should be clear that the merits of Hideous Town's EP are many and should be celebrated separate and apart from the work of the UK legends (who are apparently a functioning operation again, we learned in recent days). Where The Sundays are more literal and dour, the Aussie act is more abstract and aggressive. "Undone" and its shuddering, gigantic chorus is undeniably the highlight of Hideous Towns, but the song's beauty and majesty are recreated on the succeeding track "Devolution," and the vocal harmonies in the relatively spare and placid closer "Pets" are riveting and affecting. Hideous Towns fête their self-titled EP with a release show Saturday night at Boney in Melbourne; the bill also includes Bad Family, Zig Zag and Basic Spirit. We imagine most readers aren't going to be hopping a plane to make the show, so take comfort in the fact that the favorable exchange rate means you can get the EP for less than a buck a song in USD. We think you will find that to be money well spent.

>> Who remembers 2010? Anyone? Maybe a few of you? No... OK. Well. Way back when we devoted some of our attention to the Parisian dream-pop project Her Magic Wand, which had just self-released a notable EP titled Catch A Rainbow. We were surprised to get an email from mastermind Charles Braud earlier this month, reporting that a new single from Her Magic Wand was in the offing, and directing our attention to the understated, perhaps Dntel-inspired electro anthem "Everything At Once." Mr. Braud tells us that "Everything At Once" concerns itself with the phenomenon of synesthesia, which he ably defines as "a neurological phenomenon in which stimulation of one sensory or cognitive pathway leads to automatic, involuntary experiences in a second sensory or cognitive pathway and where letters or music can be perceived as inherently colored." The lyrics do much of the heavy lifting in driving this point home, but really it is Braud's dreamy delivery amid stormy, electric crescendoes that provides the most exciting moments of "Everything At Once." The song chases a desperate electro pulse, the rhythm tracks drawing out cool synth chords that deeply layer as the canned beats pile up and white out in the tune's smouldering choruses. The tune is a taster for a forthcoming full-length set recorded over the course of 10 months and mixed last summer by Stephane "Alf" Briat, who has worked with basically every French rock act you could name if given 30 seconds. We certainly recommend the single to your attention, and you can stream it via the Soundcloud embed below; click through a link there to purchase that jawn from Apple's ITunes digital music store.

We feel compelled to mention here that at this point Apple = "The Man;" the company presently touts a market capitalization of $676 billion dollars and recorded a net profit of $8.5 billon dollars for its 2014 fiscal fourth quarter closed Sept. 27. Read about the alleged human rights abuses attributed to the company right here. If we choose to, we can make the world a better place. How's all of that for a tangent?

>> Nervy and spikey post-punk has been the Brighton, England-based Faux Discx label's stock-in-trade, and it is backing a winner in a forthcoming single from the sorta supergroop Primitive Parts. The trio is comprised of a who's who from label affiliates Cold Pumas, Sauna Youth and Male Bonding, and its new offering is the single "TV Wheels" b/w "The Bench," which you can stream in all of its glory via the Bandcamp embed below. B-side "The Bench" in particular is a strummy and cool hip-shaker, just a little bit of attack on the guitars, tambourine and hand-claps driving an inevitable groove toward a gloriously rudimentary guitar solo that emphasizes the band's garagey bona fides. "TV Wheels" would sell tens of thousands of singles if it were a new Dandy Warhols song, but we don't imagine that Faux Discx will be able to keep the single in stock no matter who recorded it, as the two-minute tune is air-tight (indeed, some pre-orders have already shipped). Primitive Parts previously issued in February its debut single "Open Heads" b/w "Signal" on Sexbeat, and also had its cover of The Yummy Furs' "Chinese Bookie" featured on Faux Discx's 2013 comp Collective Hiss. Faux Discx releases "TV Wheels" b/w "The Bench" Monday as a 7" single in a humble paper sleeve with insert, pressed in a limited edition of 300 pieces. Primitive Parts are planning a UK tour for 2015. We previously wrote about Cold Pumas here two years ago; the act disclosed in September it had recently wrapped recording on its own sophomore effort.

November 17, 2014

Show Us Yours 23: Night Mechanic

Night Mechanic

We turned on to Portland quartet Night Mechanic early this fall, after seeing the act was sharing a record release show with Clicky Clicky faves Lubec. It took us a while to get back to and plug into the record, Night Mechanic's third, but we're glad we did. Day Surgery touts an engaging, jittery and melodic sound reminiscent of Keep It Like A Secret-vintage Built To Spill, Wolf Parade and even Michigan-based, MySpace-era also-rans Rain Is Wet. We suppose the band is unusual in the sense that its primary singer and lyricist is its drummer, Andre Coberly, who delivers emotionally charged sentiments over top of persistent new wave beats. The angular guitar melody of the verse and totally-going-for-it chorus of opener "Plywood Association of Nuts & Bolts" was enough to sell us on the whole package, which stretches out into territory both epic and majestic by the time the moving closer "Petite Bronze" winds down. All of the above prompted us to check in with Night Mechanic for our periodic Show Us Yours feature. Guitarist and keys wrangler Patrick Bayliss was kind enough to show us around the band's practice space, give us a feel for its particular environment, and to entertain our questions about what the street-level scene is like in the band's heavily touted hometown. We thank Mr. Bayliss for his time, and encourage you to click play on Day Surgery and listen along as you read about where Night Mechanic makes the rock. The band is already hard at work on a planned fourth set, so we expect this is not the last you'll hear from these guys.
Clicky Clicky: So why do you use this practice space?

Patrick Bayliss: It's a 24/7 access space. Due to our schedules, we normally aren't able to get together until 9 at night, so being able to play until midnight or 1 a.m. on a Tuesday is really important. We used to take turns practicing in each other's basements but we didn't get as much time as we wanted to keep playing. We also wore our poor roommates' patience thin. My old house getting burgled didn't help with keeping it in the basement (luckily no gear was stolen). We needed to move into a space and they're tough to come by out here -- it was actually a pain in the ass trying to nail one down. Luckily, we found this one, [and] we've been here for a few years now.

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

PB: It's a fucked-up old warehouse (a weird Frankensteined/Lego kind of building) in an industrial part of Northwest Portland -- really weird structure. That alone jives with Andre's crazy lyrics. It's a pretty gritty building, which isn't a bad thing for a rock and roll band, so I think that atmosphere contributes to us banging it out and not being distracted, so we focus on the music -- playing loud and hard. Those elements kind of fit with our "working late" rock vibe. Our actual space in the building sounds pretty good, which is our favorite aspect about it. It must be something about the weird cork-board walls and the old carpet that absorbs the sound nicely... but it also gets hot as balls in there when we get going. We kinda like that, though. That sweaty environment helps make for a basement show vibe while we practice, which is great since our shows are about energy and feel (and for better or worse, volume).

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

PB: Man musk, stale beer, old wood, amp tolex. One time there was some fruit in there that no one claimed, so it stuck around for a while. Glad we finally got rid of that shit. Some buddies of ours practice in a spot a couple doors down -- sometimes it smells like them... [LOL -- Ed.]

CC: Portland was heavily hyped at the tail-end of the last decade as having a very vibrant creative community and being very band-friendly. As with everything, public interest waxes and wanes and moves on to the next thing. Is it just the interest that has waned, though, or do you all perceive a difference between Portland today and the Portland of, say, 2010, in terms of being a place that nurtures bands? Feel free to lie if you are tired of bands moving to town...

PB: A bit of both. Maybe people got tired of hearing about it. It's a double-edged sword. On one hand, it's really great having so many creative people and so many great bands -- who doesn't like having a lot of awesome shit to go check out? On the other hand, it can be tough to rise above the noise because there's so much of it. There's always some hot new thing that can grab anyone's attention that seems like it just started last month and now it's huge.

Without trying to sound like an asshole, the quantity grew so the quality may not seem as rich as it did before -- but that's just because it isn't as obvious, since it's grown exponentially. Sometimes you have to look harder for the really sweet stuff, and the hype you mentioned doesn't have time for that. There are so many great fucking bands in this town, but on the other side of that coin, sometimes I feel like "the scene" lapped itself or can't keep up with itself all the time. Since there are so many goddamn bands out here, perhaps the sheer volume of it diluted or kind of cannibalized that special vibe/feeling you mentioned and described as waning. That's no one's fault, since everyone is contributing, but since it continued and grew for so long the feeling is bound to change or kind of blend in together a bit. Who knows. At least here in town I feel like maybe people are just getting tired of hearing their friends talk about one of the six bands they're in ("man, i saw you play on Wednesday and Saturday this week -- and you really want me to go see you on Monday, too?").

It's possible that people came out chasing/trying to have that "Portland" sound, and perhaps focused on that too much rather than just trying to do something they think is cool for it's own sake, you know? Whatever that produces would be easy to move away from. But due to the volume of bands and cool contributions, there are a lot more different kinds of sounds now than there used to be, so maybe that consciousness (or that "Portland sound") changed because it can't be recognized as the same thing since it changed -- and since it changed, the attention moved away because it wasn't as easily distinguishable. The city itself doesn't physically grow or expand enough to keep up with the influx of people who move here so that probably is the same for the music -- so perhaps the mother's milk ran a little dry... she just had too many pups and couldn't keep up with them all. But, despite that long tangent, there still is a ton of awesome music happening out here right now, and probably always will be.

CC: What do the next six months look like for Night Mechanic? Are there plans for getting out of town and touring to support Day Surgery?

PB: Right now we're having fun writing and practicing. We have a handful of new [songs] that we're tweaking and are currently throwing more on the pile. We're just having a good time and trying to write as much as possible between Blazer games. We did have to cancel some Seattle stuff in September when the record came out, so hopefully we'll be able to make that up and get back up there to play some shows -- maybe play around the Northwest some -- but no serious touring. We're looking forward to coming up with new songs and doing the next record.
Night Mechanic: Interzizzles | 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 | Seeds Of Doubt | The Cherry Wave | Coaches

November 13, 2014

That Was The Show That Was: Peter Hook & The Light | Royale | 8 Nov.

[PHOTOS: Quinn Banford, special to Clicky Clicky] Fact: it's really hard to stay objective in regards to one of your heroes. New Order was, and in all honesty continues to be, a crucial band for the associates of Clicky Clicky Music Blog, and the sheer ridiculousness of seeing Peter Hook play Brotherhood, one of our favorite records of all time, was not lost on us Saturday night. What's more, Mr. Hook and co. did us one better: he and his outfit The Light (which includes Hooky's son, Jack Bates, on bass) opened for themselves with a handful of tunes from that other world-conquering band he was in, Joy Division. And so we descended upon Boston's Royale early Saturday evening to soak in sounds that in many ways make us what we are.

Opening with "No Love Lost," a selection from Joy Division's astonishing debut EP An Ideal For Living, the seven-song taster set spanned the Mancunian act's tragically short walk across the proverbial stage. One could deem it a primer for the budding Joy Division fan were it not for the fact that everyone in the full house already knew every last word. The band also offered "Transmission," "Shadowplay" and "Decades" in succession, a weighty run of tracks that stand among the truly essential post-punk documents.

Following an absurd pre-recorded stage announcement, the New Order section of the program took over. As noted above -- and on the ticket, mind you -- the band ran threw Brotherhood first and in its exact order, although all the advance warning didn't stop a few fans from crying out for "Ceremony" just two songs into the main event. We're particularly partial to the record's opening brace of tunes, but were just as willing to jump around to "Bizarre Love Triangle" as any other member of the decidedly mature crowd. Indeed, it should be noted our royal we that evening (including shadowy CC mercenary Quinn Banford) were among the few millennials taking in the show. Hooky and his cohort paused briefly following the final reverberating tones of "Every Little Counts" before reclaiming the stage to perform New Order's absolutely essential LP Lowlife front to back. The ping-ponging synths that herald the opening of "The Perfect Kiss” were precisely recreated to great applause, and the song was a notable high point of a performance filled with highs. Hooky and the boys returned yet one more time to run through a jaw-dropping encore featuring a gleeful rendition of "Blue Monday," a selection that elicited some truly inspired dancing from the crowd.

By 9:30 p.m. we were shuffled out the door so the club could change over and cater to a younger nightclub crowd that, were this 30 years ago, likely would have had a few New Order tunes waiting for them among the DJ's cache of 12 inches. The cycle of life... The full set list from Saturday night's show -- to the extent the running orders of the albums aren't internalized as part of your DNA at this point -- are viewable right here. Peter Hook & The Light's tour continues west until they land in Hawaii at the end of the month; thereafter the act heads back to the UK in December, and on to Australia in February. Dates can be found right here. -- Dillon Riley

Peter Hook & The Light: Internerds | Facebook

November 12, 2014

Premiere: Hoax Hunters Unveil Dambuilders Covers Project, Mini Doc Lauds Bygone Boston Phenoms

There's a bumper sticker about being old and having seen all the cool bands. Maybe you've seen it. In our mind the saying applies more to the generations above our own; our aunt mentions having seen Janis Joplin, and that seems like, you know, something. But we guess we've seen some stuff, and we have very fond memories of seeing a few Dambuilders shows in the mid-'90s, circa the release of the band's triumphant major label debut Encendedor!. We recall in particular an amazing show with The Grifters in Bethlehem, PA; that act was touring its Crapping You Negative LP and Dambuilders violinist Joan Wasser jumped onstage with the (recently busy) lads from Memphis for at least one song and had electrifying chemistry up there with the band -- a bonus on top of Dambuilders' own amazing set. We're put into the frame of mind to reminisce over such things by a delightful mini documentary put together by Hoax Hunters guitarist and noted photog PJ Sykes; we are premiering the film today atop this jumble of words. We are also exceedingly chuffed to premiere one of two covers recorded as part of the apparently Dambuilders-approved project, namely Richmond shoegazers Snowy Owls' collaboration with scenemates Positive No on a beautifully icy iteration of the Boston-by-way-of-Honolulu act's tremendous "Shrine." Bouncy and irresistibly hooky in its original incarnation, Snowy Owls and Positive No's version burns slowly, brightly, its subdued vocals and snare drum cracks shrouded in a soft haze of bending and saturated guitar. If anything, the slower tempo makes the track even more beautiful, and we encourage you to stream it via the embed below.

Those in the know know that Hoax Hunters' cover contribution to the project was already premiered last week over at the fine ChunkyGlasses publication. If you happened to miss it, well, we've got you covered. You can hear the Richmond post-punkers' explosive take on Dambuilders' "Smooth Control," the lead track from the band's 1995 set Ruby Red, via the embed below as well. The mini doc features footage of Hoax Hunters -- abetted for this outing by former Ted Leo bandmate Marty Key and highly touted vocalist Anousheh -- tracking the song at Scott's Addition Sound in Richmond. That performance footage is of the classic early '80s MTV variety, the sort of stuff we eat up, and we think you will enjoy seeing Hoax Hunters absolutely burn the tune down as the tape rolls under the record head. The mini doc allows that Dambuilders weren't as widely regarded as some of the current crop of reuniting acts, but we think the proof of their greatness is in the songs; excellent songs are excellent whether or not the teeming masses pay heed. And Dambuilders wrote way more than their share, including "Smell", "Colin's Heroes," and "Mississippi" -- those are just the first that come to mind, and should give folks just turning on to the band some things to hunt down. Hoax Hunters' "Smooth Control" and Snowy Owls/Positive No's "Shrine" are available for purchase as a digital download via the Cherub Records Bandcamp for two big American dollars right here, so after you watch the mini doc and stream the tunes via the Soundcloud embed below, click over and buy that jawn.

Hoax Hunters: Bandcamp | Facebook | Internerds
Snowy Owls: Bandcamp | Facebook | Internerds

Related Coverage:
Video Premiere: Hoax Hunters' Fiery Fireball "Erase"
Review: Hoax Hunters | Comfort & Safety
Today's Hotness: The Snowy Owls
Review: The Snowy Owls | Within Yr Reach EP

November 9, 2014

Today's Hotness: Crayon, Rocketship, Gretchen Lyme, Bare Pale

Crayon -- Brick Factory reissue (detail)

>> A dusty blue, early '90s Toyota Corolla: we can picture it in our head, we can smell it, we can see the cassette tapes it contained. And when we think of riding in the great Pete Torgo's car during our later college years, we think of Crayon's "The Snap-Tight Wars," a tremendous, hook-laden indie-pop classic we likely listened to often traveling north and south through New England lo those many years ago. In hindsight, the trio's song presents as a relic of its time: indeed, our (basically) middle-aged self is not as comfortable with the nakedly heartfelt lyric "I wore you as an emblem of, as a badge of my worth" -- delivered in bassist and fronter Sean Tollefson's distinctive, adenoidal vocal -- as our romantic and stupid 20-year-old self was, but such sentimentality at the time scanned as powerfully real. Now it seems representative of a sweet naïveté that perhaps hits a little too close to home when we honestly appraise our 20-year-old self. But of course, that is only one part of "The Snap-Tight Wars," whose cracking drumming, pulsing bass lines and squalling guitar in the chorus reveals a punk heart and renders the song a most-serviceable rocker. The production is lo-fi but clear and electric, and the song was perhaps the first major calling card for the little band from Bellingham, Washington. Or at least it was for us. "The Snap-Tight Wars" appeared on Crayon's terrific, sole full-length release Brick Factory, which is being reissued Tuesday by Athens, Georgia's Happy Happy Birthday To Me Records. HHBTM's reissue -- which at least roughly coincides, mathletes, with the record's 20th anniversary -- is actually Brick Factory's first release on vinyl; the 2014 issue has been pressed to yellow media in a limited edition of 500 pieces, and is also being released as a cassette. Purchase of the LP includes a digital download of 21 bonus tracks -- tracks from 7" singles, comps, 4-track demos and never-before-heard, unreleased songs -- and deluxe pre-orders include yellow vinyl, a cassette and button and apparently even more songs. The very fine people of Crashing Through Publicity have secured permission for us to offer a stream of "The Snap-Tight Wars," which is embedded below, and we highly recommend that if you have not yet gotten with the now sounds of 1994, get with them now and pre-order Brick Factory from HHBTM right here. Crayon did not survive 1994; Mr. Tollefson and drummer Jeff Fell not long after formed the consistently excellent indie-pop juggernaut Tulleycraft, which we wrote about here in these electronic pages as recently as April 2013, when the act released its wonderful sixth LP Lost In Light Rotation.

>> Well, what do you know? Like an old friend showing up at your front door, Sacramento-spawned dream-pop heroes Rocketship returned Oct. 31 with a new, surprisingly subtle tune. Released digitally on Nonstop Co-Op (an enterprise that appears to be connected to the band in some manner, and whose Bandcamp now contains what appears to be the entirety of Rocketship's catalogue), "That Old Black Magic" also was included on something called A. Kaffer's Halloween 2014 compilation, about which the Internet has basically nothing more to say. Though this reviewer was only previously familiar with the band's mid-'90s output -- most notably its titanic 1996 Slumberland Records set A Certain Smile, A Certain Sadness -- new song "That Old Black Magic" hews close to Rocketship's tradition of technicolor melodies, unadulterated harmonies and pristine pop production flourishes. Incidentally, if you'll permit the tangent, Rocketship's web site contains this exciting nugget: A Certain Smile, A Certain Sadness is to be reissued in the spring of 2015! [We will buy the shit out of that! -- Ed.] The lineup that made the aforementioned collection has long since disbanded, but the project led by pop savant Dustin Reske has been recording sporadically ever since. Now based in Portland, Oregon, Mr. Reske continues to map delicate pop case studies and the deceptively simple and almost overpoweringly sweet "Black Magic" is no exception. Downplaying the band's once-signature organ lines, the song instead complements the foregrounded vocals with rich strings and flutes and a spiraling harpsichord arpeggiation. The result is something more along the lines of a baroque-pop gem than the shoegaze- and noise-pop-indebted sounds of Rocketship's past. Which is in no way meant as a slight; there is a classic wartime vocal group charm and warmth to the new tune. Stream it via the embed below, and click through to download "That Old Black Magic" from Nonstop Co-op's Bandcamp. Rocketship was reconstituted as a live concern last spring, performing pop festival shows in New York and San Francisco, and we're hopeful that this new song (and Twitter chatter about a video) evidences that the act may yet be a going concern, that Reske still has more pop delights to reveal. -- Edward Charlton

>> Given the often isolated (isolating? -- Ed.] nature of ambient and drone music, a recent split-single featuring two particularly creative Glaswegian practitioners of same struck this reviewer as somewhat unusual. The pairing, however, is a great one, and together the mysterious synth artist Mosca and the fuzz-droner Gretchen Lyme proffer eight shifting, bending instrumentals that engage listeners with spooky, mindful zones. Mosca leads the charge with monochromatic yet expansive "Fire," a gorgeous and layered drone seemingly employs random application of pitch shifter to bend the piece in and out of focus. Panned, square-wave fuzz and gradually building volume ultimately overwhelm the aural space, but the piece carries such a cool, mid-range smoothness that it never becomes a chore for listeners. "Impulse" goes a more cinematic route, pitch-shifting an extract of an interview with a notorious serial killer and pairing it with a sad, slowly modulating synth melody that ultimately hones in on the discourse with laser precision, somehow coloring a strange, wistful beauty over a horrible dialogue. Gretchen Lyme's more dynamic tunes, however, steal the show, building upon Mosca's horrorshow blueprint and adding more movement and texture to the proceedings. "EggsEggsPeanutLegs," the absurdly titled standout, achieves this in spades. After a three-minute intro that transports the listener along creepy carnival alleyways, windblown streets and a distant, distorted rock guitar concert, a clattering electronic beat arrives. The rhythm establishes sufficient energy that allows the piece to gradually collapse upon itself in a schizophrenic cycle that shifts between a placid, icy calm and a free-jazz happening. "EggsEggsPeanutLegs" offers the sort of cerebral, unexpected musical twists that mark the best experimental music. Stream all of the self-released digital split via the embed below, and click through to grab the pay-what-you-like download, which was issued to the wilds of the Internerds Oct. 18. -- Edward Charlton

>> London shoegaze duo Bare Pale's twisting, turning rock couldn't be more dead-on, in terms of our tastes. The pair's latest effort, the brooding beauty "You Owe Me," lopes forward toward a mid-tempo buzz-kill, its clean and bent guitar strums sounding weighed down by a sense of grief, perhaps destroyed friendship. Down-tuned open chords and distant snare cracks lend the song an indistinct sense of menace and space, despite the relatively pared-down band set up. The three-minute number's strumming pattern and constantly warping notes recall The Swirlies and the legendary Boston act's classic 1993 BlonderTongueAudioBaton anti-anthem "His Love Just Washed Way," particularly in how the tune slowly bends and slides toward a slow-burn catharsis. There's a grittiness in the production, too, that gives "You Owe Me" youthful and homegrown vibes, touches of realism that increase the tune's emotional heft. "You owe me, everyday" the singer almost murmurs, right before the song erupts into a tangle of fuzzed-out guitar perfection. There is as yet no word on a follow-up to the tune -- hopefully a full-length set -- but if "You Owe Me" is any indication, we'll be writing about Bare Pale in these electronic pages again. The act self-released "You Owe Me" as a digital download Oct. 15. Stream it via the Bandcamp embed below, and click through to score the download for a single pound sterling. Bare Pale previously issued a cassette EP titled If It Is in Nov. 2012 and an even earlier demos set, both of which can be still be heard at Bandcamp right here. Bare Pale's next live engagement appears to be a show at London's Sebright Arms Dec. 16. -- Edward Charlton

November 5, 2014

Chandos Sign To Carpark, Rats In Your Bed Due Jan. 27

Chandos by Timothy Daniel Kennedy

[PHOTO: Timothy Daniel Kennedy] Well, the band's tell-tale CMJ label showcase slot came and went, and the news went unannounced, and truthfully we were starting to worry a little bit. But today, finally, Carpark Records revealed that it has signed Boston anxiety-pop heroes Chandos -- the trio formerly known as Chandeliers -- and will release the act's debut LP Rats In Your Bed Jan. 27. The instrumental tracks for the 11-song set were recorded over two days with Ryan Stack at Format Audio in Exeter, New Hampshire, and vocals were cut in the Chandos' trusty practice space. According to the band, Rats In Your Bed will present a slightly more cleaned-up sounds. But not too clean, according to remarks accompanying the track over at Carpark's Soundcloud yert. In a canned quote, bassist Sean Tracy -- who Clicky Clicky readers will recall was the artist-in-his-own-residence for our most recent Regolith feature -- stated, "It's definitely a pretty dirty-sounding record." A review of the track listing for the new record shows a bunch of cuts from the prior cassette releases including "Creepwolf" and "Temperance" have made the cut for the full-length. The cracking first preview track from the set is a new tune titled "...Pretty Sure It's 'Tang Top'", and it doesn't stray too far from the Chandos sound we know and love. With the new tune's near-anthemic choruses, tumbling rhythm tracks and wiry guitar lines, it's little wonder that the label that signed indie heavyweights Speedy Ortiz would get behind Chandos. Pre-orders for Rats In Your Bed are already live via the Carpark web site here, where you can also check out the album art for the set. Pre-orders will ship by or before the release date, and digital downloads will go out the night prior, Jan. 26. We've heard whispers that Rats In Your Bed is next-level for Chandos, and we look forward to hearing the whole dang enchilada. Stream "...Pretty Sure It's 'Tang Top'" via the embed below.

Chandos: Bandcamp | Facebook

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November 3, 2014

Today's Hotness: Screaming Maldini, Mutes, Ancient Babes

Screaming Maldini, Last Day Of The Miner's Strike, detail

>> It snowed here in Boston Sunday, a sure sign that the inevitable seasonal change is coming. But from the standpoint of the blog, there has been even more striking change of late among the constellations of indie rock acts the blog champions. In recent months we've seen Clicky Clicky faves Young Adults and Soccer Mom call it a day, and two additional hometown favorites, The Hush Now and Varsity Drag, are going on hiatus and departing for the opposite coast, respectively. The number of bands shutting down or changing venue feels like an almost generational sea change, and we're left wondering who will be our new obsessions? That feeling was compounded last week with the announcement that Sheffield, England-based indie pop savants Screaming Maldini were hanging up their proverbial boots for good. The act -- then just a trio -- first breeched our radar about six years ago with an email from Maldini mastermind Nick Cox, who invited us to have a listen to hyerpop gems including an early version of the tune "The Extraordinary." The song would later help anchor the band's mind-bending 2010 EP And The Kookaburra, which was released by Oxford indie powerhouse Alcopop!, and additional EPs and an impressive self-titled full-length followed. The band announced early this year a monthly series of free songs, one which we hoped would culminate with some sort of album announcement. But, alas, Screaming Maldini had other ideas. In a statement on its Tumblr last week, the now-sextet stated it would play its final show at Queen's Social Club in Sheffield Dec. 5, with Laurel Canyons supporting. There are a few more installments of the monthly song series to roll out yet, including this month's: a cover of fellow Sheffielders Pulp's "Last Day Of The Miners' Strike." The tune was the only new track included on Pulp's 2002 hits collection titled Hits, oddly enough, and it tells the tale of a labor struggle in the UK three decades ago. One that, Wikipedia helpfully points out, didn't end well for our brothers and sisters in the labor movement. Screaming Maldini's is an appropriately solemn and somber rendition, shuffling drums, slowly rolling piano chords and a strong vocal from Gina Walters, whose exhortations to "lay your burden down" are chilling given the context. Stream the tune below via the embed. We're also including a stream of the band's transcendent pop ballad "I Know That You Know That I Would Wipe Away The Snowflake From Your Eye," because, well, it encapsulates the magic, romance and beauty that came to the band with such startling ease. We don't expect we've heard the last from Mr. Cox, Ms. Walters and the rest of the Maldini gang -- they are just too supremely talented to dissolve into shadow once the stage lights are cut. But, for now, tip a 40 for Screaming Maldini, maximalist pop collosus: they fought the good fight, they transported us to a better place with their music.

>> While the recent news surrounding Birmingham, England-based ambient guitar-pop project Mutes was that it has transmogrified into a full-band enterprise (featuring Johnny Foreigner drummer/Fridge Poetry mastermind Junior Elvis Washington Laidley on the cans, no less), the project's latest release -- a beautifully stirring and delicate EP titled No One Is Nowhere -- remains a solo affair. The seven-song collection wraps ethereal electric guitar loops around gritty acoustic guitar playing, and lays over top James Brown's affecting and spectral tenor. The overall effect is impressionist and wistful, and we stand by our initial comparisons to The Feelies and Flying Saucer Attack, although there is certainly more of the latter here on this new collection than the former. Indeed, the longest tune of the set, the enchanting, six-minute-plus song "Horror," completely eschews recognizable acoustic guitar -- as well as trad song structure -- and instead presents a prismatic mirage of processed and looped melodies and feedback. The gauzy (and even shoegazey) new compositions place a lot of the emphasis on the first-rate melodies and deep zones Mr. Brown is able to conjure. We expect this release may be the last relatively understated collection from Mutes, as all signs point to Mutes 2.0 being a more dynamic and muscular affair. No One Is Nowhere is available as a bundle that includes a Lewes Herriot-designed t-shirt and digital download, and also as a simple standalone download, both of which can be order from Mutes' Bandcamp wigwam right here. Mutes' next live date will be a show Nov. 14 with Clicky Clicky faves Burning Alms at The Oobleck in Birmingham, and we expect that will be quite a good time. Stream all of the tremendous No One Is Nowhere via the embed below, and click through to purchase.

>> Vancouver-based chillwave producer Ancient Babes' latest track "Atlantic Avenue/Street" may have a somewhat inscrutable title, but it is otherwise a slam dunk. Nostalgic and icy and beautiful, the song has the emotional immediacy of a vintage John Hughes soundtrack selection, with pulsing synths underpinning cool, measured vocals. While the rhythm and "bass" tracks in the verses are somewhat plodding and monolithic, something about the airy atmosphere and chilled vocals makes the song blow by fast -- its end always comes too soon and as a surprise. Indeed, the greatest surprise is the song's quiet final 15 seconds, during which the synths and electronic beats recede to reveal what sounds like hidden piano and guitar tracks, which twinkle briefly and then wink out like dead stars almost as quickly as they are uncovered. We suppose that aforementioned surprise is ultimately a sign of a great pop song, and we will be interested to hear what Ancient Babes is able to conjure next. Stream "Atlantic Avenue/Street" via the embed below, and click through to download the track. We last wrote about Ancient Babes at the beginning of the year here, when the band had just issued its dark and dreamy Futuristic Demons EP. While we weren't looking, the highlight of that short set -- a tune called "Occult Commando" -- was given the NSFW video treatment early this past summer. Check the video for the cut out right here.