March 30, 2015

Regolith A3E2: Supriya Gunda Writes Songs Under The Gun

Regolith A3E2: Supriya Gunda Writes Songs Under The Gun

This one reads a bit like a manifesto at times, people, and we love it. Below we have part two -- or in Regolith parlance, that's A3E2, or Artist Three, Episode Two -- of Boston indie scene veteran Supriya Gunda's entry into Clicky Clicky's 30-day songwriting and song-recording challenge. "This isn't the right time and place for regular-ass rock," Ms. Gunda tells us in the midpoint interview below, speaking from somewhere, we imagine, deep inside a zone. "I can't stress the importance of just taking five minutes a day out of your life to breathe deeply, center yourself, and make a fucking dope beat," the proprietress of indie rock concern Digital Prisoners Of War continues. To say we're excited about where she's going with this, based on her focused responses to our informal check-in below about her progress, is an understatement. If you are just joining us, Gunda began her stint as our Regolith artist-in-her-own-residence a couple weeks back; the intro piece detailing Gunda's background and prior accomplishments is online here. Check out the complete interview below to learn more about her old-school, no frills approach, as it certainly gives us a sense of what we will (dope beats) and perhaps will not be hearing (guitar) when Supriya turns over her proverbial tapes at the close of the challenge in a couple weeks. And of course, don't forget to check back to hear the final results. We'll leave the light on for you. -- L. Tiburon Pacifico
Clicky Clicky: How has the project been going to this point? Easier or harder than you anticipated? What have been the biggest challenges?

Supriya Gunda: It's good! It's fun. I don't know [that] I have anything listenable going on but, who knows, maybe I do! It's a surprise! The biggest challenge is the everyday -- waking up, brushing teeth, driving on the Mass Pike westbound, sitting at a desk, eating, sleeping, repeating. But making the time to work on this is a visceral reminder that we only have so much time to work with in the first place. I can't stress the importance of just taking five minutes a day out of your life to breathe deeply, center yourself, and make a fucking dope beat.

CC: LOL, that statement would make a great framed needlepoint. Can you tell us a little about your recording equipment and setup? Are there specific reasons you use the equipment/software that you do?

SG: No need to get techie here -- dusty but trusty Tascam 4-track. $200 work-from-home laptop. IPhone voice memo recorder. Jewel-toned, CVS-brand earbud headphones plugged into the mic input for vocals. Pro gear, Pro 'tude.

CC: Could you describe for us the techniques you are using to get your sounds? Would you use the same techniques if time were not a limiting factor? How did you learn to record this way?

SG: I've been MacGyvering, mostly. You don't learn that in school. You learn that by watching "MacGyver."

CC: Do you have any unusual tricks or rooms/spaces you record in that are exclusive to your home studio?

SG: The bathroom isn't really unusual, but obviously a great place for natural reverb; likewise, under a blanket in bed can make for a great dead space.

CC: What instruments have you been using to this point? Do you foresee introducing others?

SG: I'm using a consumer-grade 1980s Yamaha keyboard and a lot of 'found' instruments. This isn't the right time and place for regular-ass rock. I might go guitar-free altogether.

CC: Do you find that the time limitations change your approach to writing and/or recording?

SG: Yes, in that I don't have time for self-doubt. I need to produce content without stopping to consider whether it is worthy of the world. Which, in turn, gives rise to the realization -- fuck what's worthy of the world. I NEVER have time for self doubt. #yolo.

CC: Do you feel that the songs are turning out differently than they otherwise would if you weren't restricted to 30 days? If so, what do you think would be different about them?

SG: Definitely. To paraphrase Taylor Swift, I think this may be my first real pop album!

CC: What makes you say that?

SG: Because I'm getting down to sick beats.

CC: At this point, do you find the time restrictions to be a hindering your process? Or do you find them to be liberating in some way?

SG: I find it to be very liberating. I crave endgames.
Well, an endgame is what she's got, as Ms. Gunda's time as our Regolith artist-in-her-own-residence draws to a close in a couple weeks, as stated supra. Be sure to check back in for our post mortem interview and the big reveal of Supriya's potentially guitar-free and likely dope-beated (beaten?) new sounds. If you somehow missed it previously, we've embedded Digital Prisoner of War's Casually Defying Physics EP below for your listening pleasure. And if you are just turning on to Regolith and want to click back through prior episodes featuring Guillermo Sexo/Future Carnivores/Emerald Comets guy Reuben Bettsak and Chandos bassist Sean Tracy below.

Previously On Regolith:
Regolith A3E1: Supriya Gunda Is A Songwriter
Regolith A2E3: Sean Tracy Presents Dye's Alone
Regolith A2E2: Sean Tracy Writes Songs Under The Gun
Regolith A2E1: Sean Tracy Is A Songwriter
Regolith A1E3: Reuben Bettsak Presents Emerald Comets' Inside Dream Room
Regolith A1E2: Reuben Bettsak Writing Songs Under The Gun
Regolith A1E1: Reuben Bettsak Is A Songwriter
Introducing... Regolith

March 26, 2015

Review: Happyness | Weird Little Birthday

Often, bands elect to clean themselves up when entering a professional studio, to figuratively comb back their collective hair and don their best shared suit. What are seen as mistakes get edited out, a winning take gets punched in over top of an off-key vocal, or a guitar is redone to scrub out amp buzz and microphone hiss. Others acts, however, take the opposite route, and point to an album that includes random and imprecise moments as an authentic snapshot of the experience, and thus, life. London indie rock trio Happyness seemed to take the latter approach when making its vital and consistently rewarding 2014 album Weird Little Birthday, which -- after a successful year for the band -- arrives in an expanded re-release this week via Bar/None in the United States and Moshi Moshi Records in the UK.

Weird Little Birthday is an exercise in charming, mid-fi messiness, a record that leverages the limits of a traditional three-piece to create sonically rich music that finds fresh poignancy in the mistakes, flubs and the random blurts of feedback that most acts would never think to celebrate. Steeped in the sounds and methods of buzzy '90s indie rock, Happyness incorporates enough modern influences -- indeed, enough of themselves -- to enliven its chosen amalgamation of sounds. The single "Naked Patients" borrows a millenial hook from Jeff Tweedy and then rides a steady, Yo La Tengo-esque bass groove for the duration. But the tune is highlighted by elements that are all Happyness: a swooning vocal in the chorus, and open-ended and jagged guitar soloing, during which fuzz pedals are turned on and off seemingly at random.

The Yo La Tengo comparison feels particularly apt, in part because the legendary Adam Lasus -- whose first production credit appears to be YLT's masterful 1992 EP Upside-Down -- mixed Weird Little Birthday, and this record's thick, blocky beats evoke a sense of fun similar to that found in the early releases of Space Needle, another Lasus production credit. But comparing the Londoners' music to that of Hoboken's finest is more apt due to the way both bands allow compositions to spread and breathe into longer, noisier explorations. The finest tunes on Weird Little Birthday are notably long; the transcendent cuts "Weird Little Birthday Girl" and "Montreal Rock Band Somewhere" clock in at over eight and five minute respectively, and provide ample room to both play out beautiful melodic ideas via meandering lead guitar and color and shade with subtle backing vocals and keys.

One of the best, and probably under-appreciated, parts of the Happyness sound are its lyrics, which are packed with great lines, including the snarky and amusing jab "I'm wearing Win Butler's hair" in the aforementioned "Montreal Rock Band Somewhere." That tune and three others are what make the 2015 release of Weird Little Birthdaya so-called "expanded 2.0," and many of these previously served as b-sides to Happyness singles. Elsewhere, opener "Baby Jesus (Jelly Boy)" incorporates widely panned, double-tracked vocals that project a downcast sadness and texture that both disorients and soothes. Preview single "Great Minds Think Alike, All Brains Taste The Same" echoes slacker titans Pavement with its drawled verses (a comparison Happyness is probably as tired of hearing as Pavement was of hearing about its reverence for The Fall), while highlighting the trio's singular deadpan humor and violent imagery. The 2015 release of Weird Little Birthday marks the first time that the collection is available on wax within the good ol' U.S. of A, and you can purchase it from Bar/None right here. We also recommend visually consuming the threesome's new video "A Whole New Shape" which is over at Noisey, and this amazing live iteration of "Montreal Rock Band Somewhere" filmed at SXSW. Stream the entire expanded Weird Little Birthday via the Spotify embed below, and check out all of the band's remaining current U.S. tour dates below that. -- Edward Charlton

Happyness: Facebook | Soundcloud | Tumbledore

Upcoming U.S. Dates:
03.26 -- Boise, ID -- Treefort Music Festival
03.28 -- Los Angeles, CA -- The Echo
03.29 -- Santa Ana, CA -- Burgerama 2015
03.30 -- San Francisco, CA -- Bottom of the Hill
04.01 -- Portland, OR -- Mississippi Studios
04.03 -- Seattle, WA -- The Sunset Tavern
04.04 -- Missoula, MT -- Stage 112
04.06 -- St, Paul, MN -- Turf Club
04.07 -- Iowa City, IA -- Gabe's Oasis
04.08 -- Chicago, IL -- Subterranean
04.09 -- Cleveland, OH -- Happy Dog East
04.10 -- Middletown, CT -- Wesleyan University
04.11 -- Brooklyn, NY -- Baby's All Right
04.12 -- Manhattan, NY -- Cake Shop.

March 25, 2015

Today's Hotness: The Red Cords, Shunkan, Pope

Art Is Hard 2015 release schedule hace calor

>> Art Is Hard turns out quality indie rock on the regular, but the caliber of its slate of 2015 spring releases appears without equal in the UK so far this year. While the Exeter, UK-based label only recently announced its 2015 singles series, the offering is a very fine successor to its previous efforts. Art Is Hard in prior years delivered to subscribers limited editions of fine rock tunes via postcard and pizza box, but this year its singles series offers new music via micro editions of square vinyl (you read that right) hand-cut in America and hand-stamped and hand-numbered by the label (as in years prior, the music will also be offered as a digital download to non-subscribers). The series is unsurprisingly called The Hand Cut Record Club, and its first offering is the garagey rave-up "Scratch It Off" from scrappy Falmouth, England trio The Red Cords. There's a faint echo of Misson Of Burma's rager "Peking Spring" in The Red Cords' undeniable number (perhaps it is because fronter Charlie's voice sounds a bit like Clint Conley's, perhaps it is just that first chord in the chorus), but the hip-shaking tune is probably more evocative of the blunt-force, early aughts sound proferred by White Stripes and The Hives, and is truly more straightforward and pop-leaning. The Red Cords have a couple older EPs on Bandcamp that are probably worth investigating. "Scratch It Off" (is there a b-side? we don't know! the record is square, damn it!) was released March 14. New singles in the series will be on offer every three weeks, which we believe means the next one comes 'round in a mere days, and there will be 15 in total.

All of that might fully occupy a lesser label, but Art Is Hard appears to be going full bore. On April 13 the label will release a new single from Shunkan, a New Zealand-based indie rock quintet centered around recent émigré Marina Sakimoto, who is originally from Los Angeles. Google tells us that band name can roughly translate from Japanese as "an instant" or "a moment." While that suggests a certain degree of ephemerality (and dovetails nicely with our undergraduate study of ukiyo-e), Shunkan's "Our Names" is immediate and vital, and recalls the gutsy sound of Leeds standouts Sky Larkin. Distorted guitars and a firm mid-tempo snare/kick cadence propels the tune as Ms. Sakimoto describes losing control at a house party. "Our Names" is already available for free download via the embed below, but it is also being released in a limited edition of 100 A6-sized comic books, which will run you £3.75. But wait! There's more! Art Is Hard is also prepping the release of a 12" vinyl comp called Family Portrait Pt. II, the follow-on to its sold-out 2012 Family Portrait comp which featured hitmakers of the day including Playlounge and Joanna Gruesome. Family Portrait Pt. II contains a brace of tunes from each of these up-and-comers: Living Hour, Abbatoir Blues, Fruit Bomb and Bruising. Based on the terrific preview track "Steady Glazed Eyes" from Living Hour, one can assume that the Art Is Hard sound is about to get a lot more reverby. The set will be released May 4 on the aforementioned vinyl and as a digital download; pre-order the vinyl right here. Finally, we encourage you to avail yourself of all of the embedded music below. It's first rate.

>> Word of mouth still matters, and in our over-shared era of overwhelming, quasi-social noise, it is perhaps more important than ever. Exhibit A is New Orleans power-trio Pope, who were brought to our attention by a noted Boston musician and fellow music fan a couple weeks back. Pope's ferocious debut album Fiction was released March 10 by Community Records. Blazing with '80s- and '90s-indebted noise-pop tunes that nearly all hover around the pop-crucial three-and-a-half minute mark, the collection pairs understated male vocals with pounding rhythms and hardcore-derived Marshall overdrive, which suggests all of the following: that Pope knows its way around the first third of the Dinosaur Jr. catalog (there's a tune on Fiction called "Bug," after all); that just maybe Pope is the southern U.S. answer to Canada's lauded Weed; or that Pope is some heretofore unknown cousin to the now late and lamented Ovlov (who announced they would definitely be disbanding -- they mean it this time -- Saturday). While most tunes in the New Orleans act's twelve-song set hew to the same structure –- little introductory fanfare, straight into a towering verse, short-and-sweet, etc. -– it's still easy to pick "Fast Eddy" as the highlight of the bunch (and not only because that was a childhood nickname of this reviewer in his early days of owning a BMX bike). The cut presents with tasteful and unusual chordings during the opening, and later, amid cymbal heavy drum blasts and churning distortion, dry vocals impress due to being both deep and seemingly strained, which creates a cool, mournful effect. Fiction is remarkably consistent and is definitely one of the best new indie-punk records we've heard to date in 2015. All of which makes us here at Clicky Clicky hope for more tips as good as the one that turned us on to Pope -- keep 'em coming! Order Fiction on vinyl from Community right here; the LP's first pressing is 500 pieces in purple and clear mixed vinyl. Houston-based Funeral Sounds issued Fiction on cassette in an edition of 100 clear cassettes with lilac print, in case moderately anachronistic media is your thing, and you can buy one of those right here. Or you can download it for free at Bandcamp here, whatever. Stream the whole coconut via the Soundcloud embed below. -- Edward Charlton

March 19, 2015

Today's Hotness: Football, Etc., Diocese, Goodly Thousands

Football, Etc. -- Disappear EP (crop)

>> Houston emo veterans Football, Etc. have been a known quality around Clicky Clicky HQ for quite some time, and yet here we are just now finally devoting some virtual column inches to them. Over the course of a six-year history, the trio has issued a series of well-received 7" singles and LPs on respectable labels Texas Is Funny and, more recently, the un-eff-withable Count Your Lucky Stars. Across those releases the group chased and most often found a familiar and comfortable sound, one that draws equally from late '90s emo stars like Rainer Maria and the precise brilliance of The Spinanes' early output. And along the way Football, Etc. has proven itself one of the most consistent acts, and as a result its profile continued to rise as those emo revival trend pieces start to pile up. Count Your Lucky Stars this week released Football, Etc.'s latest effort (at least digitally, read on), a very potent EP titled Disappear EP. The four-song 7" contains the three-pieces' strongest work to date, although it doesn't attempt to recreate the wheel. What Disappear delivers is four urgently melodic numbers that glide along fronter Lindsay Minton's clean Telecaster tones despite the persistent unease in her lyrics. Ms. Minton's voice is devastatingly poignant on the opening cut "Sunday," a tune in which she imagines erasing herself to feel better. Everything seems to fall into place on Disappear, which was recorded with the legendary J. Robbins. Stream the entire EP via the Soundcloud embed below, and order it from CYLS right here. The 7" -- which is available pressed to classic black or milky-clear-with-orange-and-blue-splatter media -- was slated for release this week. However, according to the label, pressing plant delays related to the bothersome Record Store Day glut has pushed back the shipping date about a month, which means the band will likely have already been overseas for its short Japanese tour and back before the 7" records ship domestically. In the meantime, fans who made the trek to Austin for the annual South By Southwest branding confabulation had a few chances to catch the band, and Football, Etc. is planning additional U.S. tour dates for the summer. -- Dillon Riley

>> In reviewing its debut LP Detergent Hymns here in January, we noted that Swings are a prolific bunch. This was even more true than we realized at the time, as it turns out that two of the Swings cohort, fronter Jamie Finucane and drummer Dan Howard, log time with another act based out of Oberlin College. The act is presently called BBC America, and we hesitate to call it a Swings side-project as the aforementioned dudes make up the act's rhythm section. Notably, an older and very short-lived iteration of BBC America art-rocked most steadfastly under the name Diocese; was fronted by a woman named Mia Rosenberg; and recorded a self-titled debut that has been making the rounds among the indiescenti of late. Ms. Rosenberg and her singular, elastic voice has migrated west to pursue more pastoral pastimes, a precipitating factor for the name change, but what Diocese left behind after a scant four months shuffling off this mortal coil is a strong eight-song document that relies on some of the same slow-burn intensity and loose instrumental interplay fans have discovered on Detergent Hymns. The sonic freak-out that punctuates the coda on the stunning second track "Matthew Walker" pulls off seething rage in a way few bands that play, moody atmospheric rock such as this can. Stand-out tune "Spoken To" deconstructs before your very ears, but is practically on fire when riding a charged 5/4 meter whose ol' push-and-pull drops off a cliff at the tune's sudden end. Diocese's electric and meandering self-titled effort is being issued posthumously by micro-indie Como Tapes in a limited edition of 75 hand-dubbed, teal cassettes (ask your moms how they work yo) and digital download; order the former here or get the latter for zero American dollars here. And while you can no longer experience the wonder of seeing Diocese live, BBC America (remember them, from the beginning of this paragraph?) are alive and kicking, with guitarist Mike Stenovic up front singing in place of Rosenberg. The act kicks off a short tour tomorrow alongside the also aforementioned Swings. There are two college shows in the Boston-ish area at the end of March (approaching!), so you oldsters start applying your Just For Men now. Inspect all of the tour dates below, and hit the stream of Diocese below that. -- Dillon Riley and Jay Breitling

3.20 -- Gambier, OH -- Kenyon College w/ Sports, Sidebitch
3.21 -- Pittsburgh, PA -- w/ Sidebitch, Glowworms, Blod Maud
3.22 -- Harrisonburg, VA -- Crayola House
3.23 -- Washington DC -- w/ Two Inch Astronaut, Rye Pines, Something Sneaky
3.25 -- Montclair, NJ -- House Show w/ CAVE WETA (NO SWINGS)
3.26 -- Brooklyn, NY -- Aviv w/ BIG UPS, Kissing Fractures
3.27 -- Somerville, MA -- Tufts University w/ Vundabar
3.28 -- Worcester, MA -- Clark University w/ Amanda X

>> The glistening sound of '80s UK guitar pop is alive and well, well, just across the Irish Sea. Dublin trio Goodly Thousands, which formed five years ago in Dundrum, Ireland, exhibits a persistently bright jangle on an EP set for release later this month. The four-song collection is titled Sunshine Hair and its title track is just as its name suggests: breezy and beautiful. The tune succeeds in a big way on the strength of restless and sparkling 12-string guitar picking, crisp drumming and fronter Colm Dawson's emotive tenor. Along with "Sunshine Hair," the EP offers the tunes "Walking Home," "Kiss Me Upside-Down" and "Ponytail." Shelflife will release the Sunshine Hair EP March 24 in a limited edition of 300 vinyl 7" records and as a digital download, and you can pre-order a copy right here. Goodly Thousands' debut single "Honest" b/w "I Wish" was issued by Shelflife in 2013, and is nearly sold out at this point (although different versions of those two tunes and two others are available for free download at Goodly Thousands' Bandcamp right here). Stream the irresistible "Sunshine Hair" via the Soundcloud embed below.

March 16, 2015

Regolith A3E1: Supriya Gunda Is A Songwriter

Regolith A3E1: Supriya Gunda Is A Songwriter

Geology, as Ellis Boyd Redding taught us, is the study of time and pressure. If that is enough to shape one kind of rock, Clicky Clicky wondered, would it work on another?

Well, that was a long, dramatic pause, yeah? We refer, of course, to the gaping crevasse of time between the last installment of Regolith, our 30-day, tripartite songwriting challenge we introduced here a year ago, and this new one. As much as we are pleased to announce the return of the feature, we are even more pleased to have as our latest participant Boston scene veteran Supriyah Gunda, proprietress of indie rock concern Digital Prisoners Of War, former bassist for Boston indie pop heroes Bent Shapes, and formerly of more rock outfits than is practical to enumerate here. Digital Prisoners Of War self-released its debut EP Casually Defying Physics last fall, four tracks fizzing with hooks and featuring Ms. Gunda singing and playing everything but the drums. Folks will be interested to learn below about the songs whose drum tracks were laid down by a legendary drummer, but the short stack of tunes has much to offer on its own terms, from the big anthem "Last Resort Method" to the steady swing of the three-quarter timed "Kill Whitey." You can stream the entire EP via the embed at the foot of the piece. In our intake interview for Regolith 3 below we get the basics from Gunda -- where she's from and where she's been -- and make inquiries about how she plans to attack our challenge, which asks aspirants to commit to writing and recording as much new material as they can in a one-month span. The results of this challenge are then posted over at the Clicky Clicky Bandcamp page. Gunda's month as our artist-in-her-own residence is already underway, and we'll check in with her again in a couple weeks for a progress report, and then present the fruits of her labor a couple weeks after that, as that is how Regolith rolls. In the meantime, after reading our brief interview with Gunda below, we invite you to revisit the results from Regolith artists one and two, Reuben Bettsak and Sean Tracy, whose recorded work is here and here respectively. -- L. Tiburon Pacifico
Clicky Clicky: Hey Supriya. Where are you from, and where do you currently reside?

Supriya Gunda: The long answer is that I've never truly felt "from" anywhere, and I currently reside in a state of proto-Nietzschean metaphysical homelessness. Short answer: I'm from Danville, New Hampshire, and currently reside in Boston, Massachusetts.

CC: What are your musical endeavours, currently?

SG: Right now I am Digital Prisoners Of War, which is a moniker that has been used as a blanket statement for my solo endeavors for... about 54.8% of my life at this point, which is terrifying. I released an EP called Casually Defying Physics in the fall, recorded with Justin Pizzoferrato (Kim Gordon, Potty Mouth, Speedy Ortiz, Krill, i.e. one seriously prolific motherfucker) at Sonelab in Easthampton, Massachusetts. This is the first song on the EP, "Béla Bar Talk." It is about, like, an amalgamation of common themes, including the Hungarian composer and ethnomusicologist Béla Viktor János Bartók, drunken one-off hookups and a deeply pervasive sense of existential loneliness. Murph from Dinosaur Jr. ended up playing drums on this track, I played all the other things alone. Existentially alone.

CC: What is happening with Digital Prisoners Of War right now?

SG: Currently, I have a proper live band featuring Tommy Palmer on bass (Babydriver, Hats And Glasses, Spirit Kid) and Dan Madden on drums (Four Eyes, Laika's Oribit, Daniel Striped Tiger). They are my Grohl and Novoselic. Our next show is March 18 at O'Briens in Allston, Mass. with Julius Earthling, Laika's Orbit and Grave Ideas. Hopefully tour this summer. Hopefully a full length before then. Hopefully more!

CC: What bands have you played in previously?

SG: Most recently I've played in Lost Twin and Bent Shapes, less recently played in Hats And Glasses, Thousands, Earth People Orchestra... as with most Boston area musicians, the list could go on forever. Honestly, at this point, I don't want to be in anyone's band. I want to be in MY band.

CC: So what instruments do you play? When did you start playing them?

SG: Not drums. Constantly learning that the hard way. I do however have plenty of drum machine apps for emergencies.

CC: And how long have you been writing music?

SG: Well, the earliest archive of music I've written is saved to floppy disk, if that's any indication.

CC: What are your songwriting influences? Do you feel like there's an influence on these songs that is obvious to you but might not be necessarily apparent to a listener?

SG: I'm sure it's the opposite -- a listener is probably far better equipped to spot my influences than I am. I was recently asking for help choreographing something for a video, and I asked for something of the same ilk as a blackmetal Kate Bush, so maybe that's an influence. So many of my peers are influences, maybe not musically, but it's really an inspiration to see my friends waking up and doing it, not eating or sleeping for it, working-after-work for it, sacrificing any sense of stability for it, just needing it. It's an influence to see an influx of women coming to the forefront right now and saying, "fuck the man's songs, I'm writing/recording/producing/promoting my own." In that way, sooo many of my buds are an influence. You're probably seeing their names buzzing around all over your social media feeds right now. You'll probably keep seeing their names for years to come.

CC: How would you describe your songwriting (not recording) process. Are the songs conceived of first, or planned out? Or is the process more organic, with single chords or melodies developing into parts, which then develop into songs? Or do you have a back catalog of riffs/parts/progressions that you mix and match until they find a home?

SG: I get anxious, I get a song stuck in my head that doesn't exist yet, and I try my damnedest to get it out of there so I can get some damn peace and quiet.

CC: Do you normally write your songs alone, or are you used to writing with others? Will this project change the way you typically write?

SG: I normally write songs very, very alone. So this project actually introduces a third-party influence that I don't usually have -- you.

CC: Where will you be doing your writing and recording for this project?

SG: Under a blanket, primarily.

CC: What are your goals for this?

SG: To be forced to work with limitations. The more crayons in your crayon box, the less creative you need to be. I just need a couple crayons and a hard deadline and I'll feel free. Attachment = root of all suffering, et al.
Gunda's next Digital Prisoners Of War shows are doozies. As mentioned supra, this Wednesday the act is on the bill for the big Julius Earthling EP release show at O'Brien's Pub in Allston Rock City [deets]. And on March 23 Digital Prisoners Of War support indie pop royalty in the form of Radiator Hospital at an undisclosed location in the Greater Boston area. Check the details of that gig here maybe? Be sure to keep an eye out for Regolith blog post A3E2 (that is, "Artist Three, Episode Two") coming in a couple weeks.

Previously On Regolith:
Regolith A2E3: Sean Tracy Presents Dye's Alone
Regolith A2E2: Sean Tracy Writes Songs Under The Gun
Regolith A2E1: Sean Tracy Is A Songwriter
Regolith A1E3: Reuben Bettsak Presents Emerald Comets' Inside Dream Room
Regolith A1E2: Reuben Bettsak Writing Songs Under The Gun
Regolith A1E1: Reuben Bettsak Is A Songwriter
Introducing... Regolith

March 11, 2015

Today's Hotness: Paul De Jong, Hop Along

Paul De Jong-- If (crop)

>> The name Paul De Jong is perhaps lost on many, especially as the heyday of the stunning project with which he made his name becomes increasingly remote. Even saying "Mr. De Jong is one of the main two dudes from The Books" will likely need to be followed up with "no, no, the other dude." But indeed he is the amazing cellist and curator of found sounds whose work remarkably colored The Books' brilliant compositions. Notably, De Jong will next month release his first solo effort, the 12-song set If, which presents the first new music we've heard from De Jong in five years. If's proverbial apple does not fall far from the tree, as two preview tracks indicate there is plenty of smart music and solid wonder yet present in De Jong's musical world. Lead preview track "Auction Block" opens as a pastoral instrumental, complete with samples of crickets chirping, while gentle piano figures waft under fiddle playing that transforms from tentative trills to a full-on hoe-down groove. Sturdy percussion tracks and De Jong's characteristically absurd audio samples take hold of the composition and steer it toward an indeterminate conclusion, reminding us that The Books never provided answers so much as they offered incredibly beautiful questions. A video for "Auction Block" was premiered today by NPR and you can watch it right here. A second preview track, "This Is What I Am," is significantly more dense, and perhaps to an extent that will surprise fans, as there is little open space for DeJong to interject into the composition the awe and whimsy people associate with his work. By no stretch is it an unsatisfying song, however, and repeated listens reveal stacked depths of intrigue tucked among the cycling drum fills and swelling voices. Interestingly, the tune's title is perhaps a sidelong declaration in response to the startlingly dark cut "I Am Who I Am", a highlight of The Books' final record. Temporary Residence Ltd. will release If April 28 on vinyl, CD and (presumably) as a digital download. A 200-piece limited-edition vinyl pressing comes on black media, the "standard edition" is pressed to amber media, and you can pre-order your copy right here (note: pre-orders ship out April 14). We reviewed The Books' final record The Way Out here in 2010.

>> Hop Along burst onto the scene a few years ago on the strength of its swaying belter "Tibetan Pop Stars," one highlight from the then-trio's electrifying debut LP Get Disowned. The set was a perfect showcase for the ragged, desperate singing of Philadelphian Frances Quinlan, and this blog was particularly taken with a deeper cut on Get Disowned, the more subdued and melodic "Laments," which we named one of our favorite songs of 2012. The song's progressive structure, delicate pianos and percolating melody proved Hop Along packed as much grace as it did power. Both of these are on full display in the fantastic new song "Waitress," a preview track from Hop Along's forthcoming sophomore set Painted Shut. Between the release of the two records, Hop Along added ex-Algernon Cadwallader guitarist Joe Reinhart to the lineup fronted by Ms. Quinlan on guitar, which includes brother Mark Quinlan on drums and Tyler Long on bass. Mr. Reinhart's sparkling guitar-playing shines brightly in the right channel of "Waitress," but there is still plenty of room for Frances' voice to soar. Stream the utterly exhilarating rocker "Waitress" via the Soundcloud embed below. Another change for the band is it signed with midwestern indie giant Saddle Creek to release Painted Shut; the band's debut was released on the Algernon dudes' own Hot Green imprint. The 10-song Painted Shut is slated for release May 5, but pre-orders will ship April 21. To say the record is hotly anticipated is an understatement: a deluxe edition of the LP pressed to white-with-pink-haze media sold out in hours. Fortunately, Painted Shut can still be pre-ordered here on vinyl, CD and as a digital download. In case you missed it (or didn't check the CC Facebook page that day), Ms. Quinlan recently partnered with Philly emo heroes The Weaks to record a rocking cover of Songs:Ohia's "Peoria Lunchbox Blues" for a Jason Molina tribute comp; you can stream that jam right here. Hop Along heads out on tour at the end of March supporting run of a dozen dates toplined by Philly scenemates The War On Drugs; the band embarks on its own three-week headline tour the day Painted Shut is released. Look for your town on the band's own list of dates right here.

March 10, 2015

Premiere: Boston Shoegaze Upstarts Elizabeth Colour Wheel's Stormy, Eponymous EP

Elizabeth Colour Wheel -- Elizabeth Colour Wheel

From our vantage here standing on the beach of Boston indie rock (shivering), we see out in the middle distance a new wave of shoegaze forming and heading toward shore. In a way it's not a moment too soon, as the city has had to say goodbye in the past year to stalwart acts -- Clicky Clicky faves all -- Soccer Mom, ambient punks Young Adults, and perhaps (perhaps) even The Hush Now. But the new wave is breaking, and its most promising sounds are presently being emitted by the upstart quintet Elizabeth Colour Wheel

Those finely attuned to Clicky Clicky's affinities will immediately recognize that band name as the title to one of the best songs on the debut LP from our much, much beloved Lilys. So one might argue that Elizabeth Colour Wheel's music could sound like broken glass sliding across the bottom of a cardboard box and we'd still love it. But two solid digital singles in the last eight months proved that the band -- fronter/fiddler Adessa Campbell; multi-instrumentalist Alec Jackson; bassist Billy Cunningham; guitarist Emmett Palaima; and drummer Nate Patsfall -- have the goods, and we are very pleased to be able to premiere for you today ECW's eponymous first EP.

The four-song collection leads with the thunderous "Turbulence," whose opening chug and grungy descent belies the serene verses that follow, and whose moody darkness recalls the work of erstwhile Charlottesville, VA 'gazers Manorlady. "Out Of," which was separately released to the wilds of the Internets both last week to tout the coming EP and as the digital b-side to Elizabeth Colour Wheel's first single, is immediate, recklessly paced and illuminates the five-piece's post-punk edge. The tune also implements what may be the most rocking use of violin in Boston indie music since the days of the late great Dambuilders, courtesy of Ms. Campbell. However, Campbell's assured alto is an even stronger focal point of the fledgling act's music. Her dreamiest vocal is the placid zen center of the relatively jaunty rocker "Lucid," which alternates floating verses and thrashing sections and perhaps most convincingly echoes the influence of the aforementioned Lilys' LP In The Presence Of Nothing (which we're still hoping will be re-released soon). Elizabeth Colour Wheel's enigmatically titled "23" introduces brief vocal harmonies, but the true highlight is the spine-tingling, early Flaming Lips-styled psychedelic freakout in the tune's fifth minute, where Ms. Campbell's unhinged screams send the song reeling.

As referenced above, the quintet released "Out Of" as a single last week, and it is crucial you hit this link and grab it because the virtual b-side "Sugar Cubee" is adventurous, blissful and terrific, and (shockingly) does not appear on the EP. Elizabeth Colour Wheel's next show is in Boston March 27 at an undisclosed location; ping the band or ask a punk for the 10-20. And now, we invite you to listen to Elizabeth Colour Wheel.

Elizabeth Colour Wheel: Bandcamp | Facebook | Soundcloud

March 9, 2015

Review: Winter | Supreme Blue Dream

Samira Winter and Nolan Eley's rich musical partnership tomorrow returns at long last, and as promised, with the release of the pair's wholly charming first dream-pop long-player, Supreme Blue Dream. While the set is being released under the Winter b(r)and name, Ms. Winter relentlessly gigs with a fresh cohort of players now that she has relocated from Boston to Los Angeles, and even Mr. Eley no longer calls Boston home (although he remains on the east coast). None of that change, however, and none of the 2,800 miles that now separates the erstwhile bandmates, has disrupted the duo's facility for casting classic pop hooks in inventive dream-pop settings.

Ms. Winter's seemingly effortless and pleasantly pure songwriting is not new to Clicky Clicky readers, no matter the alias. And she doesn't dramatically change up her game on Supreme Blue Dream. Here she is consistently arresting as a vocalist, particularly on the album highlight "Some Kind Of Surprise." She lifts the boundlessly romantic ballad up and up with a committed performance, elongating her vowels as if she knows each breath makes the song more and more buoyant. Her final line "I'm just sitting lonely looking into nowhere waiting for some kind of surprise" hangs in the air as the accompaniment drops away, equal parts vulnerable and ready to take a risk.

The songwriter/producer dynamic is considered a commercial-radio pop phenomenon, and is less prevalent (or at least less visible) in indie pop. But given the perfectly synthesized results in evidence here and stretching back to the debut Winter EP, we're game to hear more of it. While this may change now that she has assembled a band on the left coast, Ms. Winter typically works with producers; her sparkling solo set Tudo Azul from last summer was produced by Rodrigo Lemos in Brazil, for example.

Eley, who Clicky Clicky readers know primarily from his work fronting Brooklyn's devastating shoegaze unit Infinity Girl, performed, recorded and mixed all of the music for Supreme Blue Dream's 10 songs. He chases solid, song-serving instincts that surprise without shocking, and excels in applying varied and thoughtful textures to -- and amplifying moments and moods in -- Ms. Winter's compositions. Supreme Blue Dream is introduced with a burbling, melodic jumble of synth tones that precipitously slips beneath swaying synth and guitar chords that are foundation of the solid opener "Someone Like You," and a similar electronic fantasia is presented in the deep-album cut "Don't Stay Away." "Crazy" bobs along on top of heavily distorted guitar chords and ringing feedback that echo the joyful cacaphony of The Magnetic Fields' delightful Distortion album. A perky, canned beat provides a particularly delicious foil for the sampled alto saxophone on "Strange Emotions," which is also appointed with curious voices lurking in the channels in its final moments. Similarly spectral sounds haunt the stereo field of the hypnotic, bilingual incantation "Like I Do." While their manifestations are relatively subtle given their even weighting in the mixes, Mr. Eley is similarly creative in his treatment of Ms. Winter's vocals, which were sung on the West Coast and sent through the Intertubes for Mr. Eley to integrate into the tracks.

Ms. Winter and Eley probably had no idea how much many of us would be needing this record right now (given the snowpocalypse) when they were making it. There is a sunshiney, estival ease to Supreme Blue Dream, a coolness that unsurprisingly persists throughout the Winter catalog. It is emphasized, perhaps, by the repetition of the word blue on Ms. Winter's two most recent outings (recall her aforementioned June 2014 EP is titled Tudo Azul). Supreme Blue Blue Dream will be released tomorrow by L.A.-based indie label Lolipop Records on vinyl, CD and cassette and as a digital download. Pre-orders were not offered and there is presently no way to buy the set on the Lolipop web site as far as we can tell, so we suggest checking back later in the week. While you wait, stream the swaying lead single "Someone Like You" via the Soundcloud embed below. The current band incarnation of Winter includes guitarist Matt Hogan, bassist Edward Breckenridge and drummer Christina Gaillard, and it embarks Wednesday on a tour down to and back from the annual South By Southwest corporate branding exercise. Full tour dates are listed below.

Winter: Bandcamp | Facebook | Instapants | Soundcloud

03.11 -- Santa Ana, CA -- Wayfarer
03.12 -- Phoenix, AZ -- Time Out
03.13 -- El Paso, TX -- Monarch
03.15 -- Marfa, TX -- Padres
03.16 -- San Antonio, TX -- 502
03.17 -- Austin, TX -- Hotel Vegas
03.18 -- Austin, TX -- Hotel Vegas
03.19 -- Austin, TX -- Whip-In
03.20 -- Austin, TX -- Reverb Records
03.22 -- Houstin, TX -- Walters
03.23 -- Dallas, TX -- Pariah Arts
03.24 -- Albequerque, NM -- Sisters
03.25 -- Flagstaff, AZ -- Firecreek Coffee
03.26 -- Las Vegas, NV -- Bunkhouse

Prior Winter Coverage:
Today's Hotness: Samira Winter
Today's Hotness: Samira Winter
Clicky Clicky's Choice: Our Abridged Version Of Samira Winter's Song A Day... Did You Know That's A Thing?
Today's Hotness: Winter
Today's Hotness: Winter
Premiere: Winter's Dreamy, Innocent "Bedroom Philosophies"
Today's Hotness: Winter

March 5, 2015

Today's Hotness: Nic Hessler, Swervedriver, Shores

>> Brooklyn label Captured Tracks is known for a stable of artists that methodically appropriate the sounds of a certain era and imbue them with modern sensibilities. Until this point, the analogue in question has predominately been late-'80s British alternative rock, a proclivity apparent in the watery shimmer of notable CT bands including Wild Nothing, Blouse, Beach Fossils and DIIV. We're now five years on from those acts' first releases, and it seems that Captured Tracks' aesthetic center has moved commensurately forward in time as well. Enter recent signatory Nic Hessler, a solo artist whose upcoming album Soft Connections streets March 17. Mr. Hessler actually first signed with the label as a teenager in 2009 under the name Catwalk, but he was apparently waylaid by illness not long after and was less active until more recently. Nevertheless, the spirit of mid-'90s power-pop looms large in Hessler’s bright and light preview single "Hearts, Repeating." The tune opens with crisp acoustic guitar chased by a meandering 12-string lead, conjuring a sound the echoes backdated major label pop perfectionists such as Del Amitri and Matthew Sweet. A second preview track, "I Feel Again," boasts an even bigger, '90s modern rock radio sound. The dry, up-front presentation even recalls production work of the period, Butch Vig-inspired studio practices that many of the aforementioned acts gravitated toward. Hessler applies a wistfulness and dreamy style to both tunes that makes them of a piece with the work of his Captured Tracks peers, so the label's stamp of quality persists. It is interesting to observe that the indie world now includes a generation of artists as removed from -- yet inspired by -- the early to mid-'90s as the groups that ushered in the post-punk revival roughly a decade ago were removed from the sounds that turned them on. We eagerly await the "post-punk revival revival" if it means we'll hear more songs as considered and well-constructed as "Hearts, Repeating" and "I Feel Again." Pre-order Soft Connections on CD, LP and cassette right here. -- Edward Charlton

>> Man, remember a month ago? February 4, 2015 will go down as the day that this reviewer finally decided to appreciate at least certain aspects of rock band reunions. Maybe it's the history degree on the wall, or maybe it's just having seen too many legacy-blighting cash-ins (*cough*Pixies*cough*) to think such enterprises ever do justice to the original, youthful identity of the project. But, back to Feb. 4th. Diehard shoegaze enthusiasts and readers of this blog might remember that day as when Swervedriver's "Autodidact," the second single from the resuscitated act's comeback effort I Wasn't Born To Lose You, first hit the Interwebs. The ultimate take-away from that fateful Wednesday was this: we may age, but Swervedriver do not. Or at least they seem to have not -- changing hairstyles aside. The song (along with previous single "Setting Sun") sounds as if it could be from the Mezcal Head sessions of 1993, which were overseen by legendary producer Alan Moulder. And that, dear reader, is a very good thing. Opening with a nifty, two-chord riff that switches from a major to minor key, "Autodidact" is strong evidence the band has lost not one iota of its expertise with layering guitars and initiating dazzling guitar interplay. The tune launches a couple of serene verses before shifting into a separate instrumental groove, coupling a steady beat with synthetic feedback squalling effects that build and build before the opening riff returns and births the song anew. Structurally, it is not far removed from "Duel," arguably the band's biggest hit from the first run. But rather than reiterating any previous glory, "Autodidact" feels like a natural addition to the Swervedriver's laudable canon, despite the band's 17-year pause. And that's the best part of "Autodidact" -- it's what fans wanted. There is no watered-down, over-polished production, they haven’t lost the excitement with their youthful noise, and Adam Franklin's vocals still sound as assured, crisp and American-drag-racer cool as they did in those earlier, dreadlocked days. They simply don't mess with the formula, perhaps mindful of exactly what earned them their fans and wise enough to be unafraid to stare it head on. I Wasn’t Born To Lose You was released this week via Cobraside Distribution, and you should purchase a copy right here. The band is out on tour in the U.S. of A. now and we've pasted all the remaining dates below; Swervedriver launch an 11-date tour of the UK in May, if it ever comes. Stream "Autodidact" and "Setting Sun" via the embeds below. -- Edward Charlton

03.06 -- San Francisco, CA -- Great American Music Hall
03.08 -- Seattle, WA -- Neumo's Crystal Ball
03.09 -- Portland, OR -- Doug Fir Lounge
03.12 -- St. Paul, MN -- Turf Club
03.13 -- Madison, WI -- High Noon Saloon
03.14 -- Chicago, IL -- TBA
03.15 -- Grand Rapids, MI -- Pyramid Scheme
03.16 -- Cincinnati, OH -- The Woodward Theater
03.17 -- St. Louis, MO -- The Duck Room @ Blueberry
03.19 -- Dallas, TX -- Club Dada
03.20-21 -- Austin, TX -- SXSW
03.23 -- Atlanta, GA -- Terminal West
03.24 -- Durham, NC -- Motorco
03.25 -- Washington, DC -- Rock & Roll Hotel
03.27 -- Brooklyn, NY -- Music Hall of Williamsburg
03.28 -- Cambridge, MA -- The Sinclair
03.29 -- Philadelphia, PA -- Union Transfer

>> We last caught up with Michigan-based slowcore stalwarts Shores (a what is now shocking to us five years ago) in 2010, when the prolific act's debut Coup De Grace surprised us by coming out on the punk-inclined and entirely legendary Florida label No Idea. It was a captivating thought at the time, as it suggested a universe where Shores' Red House Painters-styled introspection and sparse post-rock moves might coexist with hardcore. Fast-forward five years and multiple albums, EPs and singles, and we now hear Precedents, the slowcore shredders' sorta-new (it was recorded in 2012) self-released set. Featuring seven songs, with the majority over the six minute mark, the album recalls the best moments from bands like Codeine and the aforementioned Painters, but with a little more of a masculine element at times in the steadier, slow-burning squalls. The collection is highlighted by the steadily simmering "Angola," which crests wave upon wave of crash cymbal as a steady undertow of feedback grips at fronter Brian Przybylski's icy, subdued vocals. A video was created for the opening track "Litany," which features some beautiful scenery intercut with a bunch of shots of bearded dudes smokin'. You can look at the video right here. "Litany" works as a fine representation of what Shores does best. After commencing with delicately strummed electric guitars, Przybylski's steady, mournful vocals join in, entering in tandem with an open, solid drum march. After some quick words, the drummer switches to warmly recorded cymbals that parallel a towering bass distortion. The second time around during this B-section bassist Billy Bartholomew achieves the perfect sustain on the pedal to create some interesting oscillation with certain notes -- just one of the little sonic details revealed throughout Precedents, making the release a great comedown piece after listening to something aggressive. And with that observation, No Idea's logic five years ago begins to make perfect sense, although sadly the label doesn't have its stamp on this new collection. Precedents was released on Valentine's Day, and you can stream the entire thing via the Bandcamp embed below. Buy the album for any price right here. Shores are set to wrap recording sessions for a planned fifth full-length, which the band aims to press to vinyl and release later in 2015. -- Edward Charlton

March 3, 2015

Review: Pile | You're Better Than This

There is an eternal unease, a sort of yearning discomfort (or is it a discomfited yearning?), that permeates the music of Boston post-punk titans Pile. Among the foursome's greatest strengths has been the ability to sew that rankled unease into the lining of each of its songs, imbuing each one with a nakedly human dimension that would seem pretty un-rock 'n' roll were it not for the fact that Pile (higher power-of-your-own-choosing bless Pile) hits the sweet spot where power meets smarts as hard as any act since, say, Jane's Addiction released Nothing's Shocking. The throbbing vitality of Pile's music elevates and even celebrates its unease, and never more perfectly than on its agile and potent new full-length You're Better Than This.

What makes You're Better Than This distinct from the band's previous releases (including 2012's towering Dripping, which we reviewed for another publication here) is an adventurous, elastic production and mix. Fronter and guitarist Rick Maguire's opaque, often inscrutable lyrics are levied in palpable Jon Spencer-esque slap-back, the guitars are firmly panned to the edges of the stereo field, and a big, boisterous ambient room sound is pushed up into the mix, amplifying the dynamics of a band already well known for its crushing shock and awe. The more fluid production and a relative dialing back of viscous sludge and distortion lets the music feel lighter on its feet, at fighting weight. You can feel it in the beautiful, 94-second acoustic guitar ballad "Fuck The Police," in the playful opening of the whirling, deconstructed waltzer "Waking Up In The Morning," and straight through to the giddy rush of the album's hidden final tune "Rock 'N' Roll Forever With the Customer in Mind," perhaps a curt nod to Mr. Maguire's day job.

The set opens with the uneven gallop of "The World Is Your Motel," whose immediate, tilting kineticism gives the feeling that one has caught You're Better Than This in medias res -- in the midst of an airing of acute grievances -- or even in flagrante delicto; the tune's cataclysmic final 50 seconds are ignited by one of many soul-searing howls emitted by Maguire over the course of the record. That stentorian yowl, Kris Kuss' explosive drumming, the massive but impressively controlled riffage: indeed, all the hallmarks of a Pile record are present here.

It would be enough for us if You're Better Than This was comprised solely by its (credited) devastating closing number "Appendicitis." The long tune offers a perfect balance of the grace and, ahem, balls that Pile musters with impressive regularity (we'd say ease, but recent interviews confirm our feeling that Maguire would tell us there's nothing easy about it, were we to ask). As the relatively gentle tune crosses the four-minute mark it seems to swallow Maguire whole, as his vocals sink deep into the skeins of guitar lines just ahead of the song's terminus under some final, chunky chords. You're Better Than This was recorded in Omaha and produced by Ben Brodin, whose production credits do not include work with JSBX or Shellac, but do include Conor Oberst, Seahaven and, weirdly, Jazon Mraz.

Exploding In Sound released You're Better Than This on vinyl, CD, cassette and as a digital download today, and you can purchase the record in any of those formats right here. Stream the entire record via the embed below. Pile is now officially on tour forever; click here to see when they stop by to bring its moveable feast to your mom's house. Dinner is served.

Pile: Facebook | Internerds