January 29, 2016

Today's Hotness: The Fuzz, Gold Muse, Lubec

The Fuzz -- The Root of Innocence (cover detail)

>> While media reports decry the slow-down of the Chinese economy, the vast nation's production of top-tier indie rock seems to continue unabated. Or at least that's the impression we get based on the output of de facto flagship label Maybe Mars, which has a dynamite 2016 planned. Among the label's first releases of the year is the long-player The Root Of Innocence from indie rock quartet The Fuzz (a/k/a Chinese Fuzz or Fazi). The 11-track set was released Tuesday, and the lead preview track was the dreamy, synth-led treat "0909 II." The song's icy keys and sparkling guitars communicate a love of '80s UK darkwave, perhaps even an affinity for A Flock Of Seagulls. We admittedly know little else about The Fuzz, but comparing two versions of the band's "Control" -- one from a 2014 compilation and the other from the new record -- gives some indication of the band's artistic development. The compilation version (from Maybe Mars' collection The XP Sound Vol. 1) is a big, guitar-driven rocker. But this version that opens The Root Of Innocence is more atmospheric, reverberant and mysterious. The English language Internet tells us The Fuzz hails from Xi'an, capital of the northwestern Chinese province of Shaanxi (thanks Wikipedia!). The Fuzz will tour China in March and April to support the release of The Root Of Innocence, according to Maybe Mars, and the tour aims to visit about 40 cities. The band also intends to record its next record during the tour. If you happen to have the good fortune to be in China this spring, keep an eye out for the band. For the rest of us, streaming The Root Of Innocence will have to tide us over for the time being.

>> Relatively new 'gaze-pop four Gold Muse this week released a second digital single, which is not only notable for its great songs, but also because it shows a promising level of productivity for the Boston supergroup. Considering the easy pace at which certain of Gold Muse's members' other bands have released music, fans have reason to be pleased. As we've reported elsewhere, Gold Muse formed only last year, and is comprised of current or former members of Swirlies, Soccer Mom and Earthquake Party!; it took Soccer Mom about five years to release its only LP, and in about the same amount of time the still-quite-active Earthquake Party! has released but six songs. Gold Muse's rate of output appears Pollardian by comparison! The act's terrific "Kiss The Sun" b/w "Your Floral Crown" digital 1-2 presents a decidedly moodier side of the band, in contrast to its terrific first single. Deb Warfield's vocals and the exercised bass in the verses of "Kiss The Sun" deliciously echo classic Unrest, although the frantic jangle and explosive distortion of Dan Parlin's guitar propel the song somewhere altogether more dynamic. Darker still is the Parlin-sung "Your Floral Crown," which is led by an ominous, ascending synth melody buoyed by parallel bass work from Will Scales. Reverbed guitar sparkles faintly in the mix of the chorus, while a characteristically desperate vocal from Parlin is foregrounded, and the song soars to a dramatic conclusion across the back of some droning guitars and Justin Lally's bashing of the drum kit. It's a very strong single, and Gold Muse thankfully already has plans for a third, which it will begin work on this very weekend at Norwood, Mass.'s storied Hanging Horse studio. Which is not the only thing in Gold Muse's date book for the next 48 hours: indeed, Sunday the band plays night #4 of Magic Magic's current residency at Boston's Great Scott rock club (also on the bill are Boston treasures Hallelujah The Hills and Twin Foxes). Coincidentally, at Hanging Horse Gold Muse will work with hitmaker/engineer Bradford Krieger, who is presently playing in Magic Magic (in addition to his own project). It's all very serendipitous. Get that feeling by streaming "Kiss The Sun" b/w "Your Floral Crown" via the embed below, and click through to purchase the tunes.

>> It's been a while since we've heard from dream-pop heroes Lubec, but the brilliant Portland, Ore.-based trio return at long last next week with an EP it has been teasing since last summer. Dubbed Concentration and featuring pop hits "Late Bloomer" and "Many Worlds" ahead of the title track, the initial plan was for a vinyl and cassette release (as we wrote here in July), but plans on the former fell through. The music, of course, was very much worth the wait: the three songs on Concentration continue Lubec's winning ways, all sparkling guitars and massive melodies and the dueling vocals of guitarist Eddie Charlton and keyboardist Caroline Jackson. "Late Bloomer" in particular feels like a milestone for the band, with Ms. Jackson's vocals in particular literally and figuratively echoing the classic Slumberland sound, and Mr. Charlton's splashes of guitar and expansive, reverbed picking leading the songs through effervescent verses and arresting choruses to a deliciously jammy final minute marked by deftly arranged dynamics where big strums and explosive drums from kit-minder Matt Dressen trade off. Touchy Feely releases Concentration in a limited edition of 100 cassettes on Feb. 5. Lubec plays a release show for the cassette that very evening at Portland hot-spot The Know with support from Post Moves and Seattle's Versing, and full deets for that show are right here. Lubec plans a return to the studio in March to begin recording an LP with producer Dylan Wall that will be the follow-up to the band's titanic album The Thrall [review], which was among our favorite albums of 2014. We're hopeful Lubec will get out for another east coast jaunt this summer; keep hope alive by streaming the terrific "Late Bloomer" and "Many Worlds" via the embed below, and click here to grab your copy of the tape before copies are gone.

January 22, 2016

Today's Hotness: Halfsour, Fall Seattle, Rocketship

Halfsour -- Tuesday Night Live (cover detail)

>> We suppose there might be some quibbling, especially as how one defines "big" or "Boston" has some bearing on the matter, but it seems indisputable anyway that the first big Boston album of 2016 comes courtesy of Halfsour. The trio's terrific debut long-player Tuesday Night Live, which streets next week, boasts scads of brisk tunes fizzing with hooks. The first preview track "Porch Sittin" presented a hardscrabble garage sound a la Parquet Courts, but the great strength of the set is its variety of approaches to power-pop (emphasized by the traded-off lead or doubled-up vocals from Zoe and Matt). An outsized melody, caffeinated strumming and explosively boxy snare conspire to make set highlight "Pop Art Pop Tart" a breathless banger. The song careens from verse to pre-chorus to chorus, marrying scritchy guitar chords to just enough jangle to conjure thoughts of Peter Buck. The swinging hip-shaker "Pleasantly Whelmed" also shines brightly, and hints perhaps at Halfsour's purported small-g genesis as a Guided By Voices cover band. The verse of the slow-burning, syncopated "I.K." recycles the classic Beatles "Ticket To Ride" riff, and bursts its seams coming out of a manic chorus with an angular guitar solo that buzzes like a fridge. There's just a lot to like. Tuesday Night Live will be released in a limited edition of 300 LPs and (virtually) unlimited CDs by Jigsaw Records Jan. 29; pre-order the set right here. In addition, Baltimore-based Nebraskan Coast is doing a run of cassettes for Tuesday Night Live, so watch this link for availability, quantity, color, etc.; the label has also done tapes for Princess Reason and Wildhoney, in case you were wondering. Halfsour previously released via Ride The Snake a dandy of a split EP with Boston luminaries Reports in late 2014, which you can purchase from Jigsaw right here.

>> We're longtime fans of Brighton, England's Faux Discx label, in part because the outfit supplies a keen look into a vital slice of the UK underground. Interestingly, the label's latest is shining a light on a terrific act native to these United States, namely Reston, VA space-pop foursome Fall Seattle. The act's self-titled debut, due next month, was two years in the making. And the wait was worth it, based on three very dreamy preview tracks that cast big guitars and sublime melodies within songs the hint at a firm push-and-pull between dream-pop and reigned-in, post-punk influences. The brisk opener "Carol" pairs punchy bass and clangorous, chiming guitar stabs for a spiky composition perfectly topped by a charming, adenoidal tenor. Fall Seattle quickly turns lush on the succeeding track, the winning "Wanda Jackson," which sets sparkling guitar leads against murmured vocals to deliciously gauzy effect. The glimmering strummer "Time" feels especially romantic and recalls the understated and underrated California Snow Story, an act that, incidentally, recently announced its return. An earlier version of "Time" from 2014 is also well worth a listen, although there are few if any structural differences between the two versions, and the differing production values reveal nothing revelatory; it's just a good song that you should listen to more than once, yeah? Faux Discx releases Fall Seattle Feb. 5 in a limited edition of 100 cassettes, and you can already pre-order one right here. Hit the embed below to stream the aforementioned three cuts, which also happen to open the record. We don't see any information about a release show or touring, but we suspect if you watch the band's Facebook dojo information will be forthcoming. Fall Seattle formed in 2012.

>> Given Rocketship's primary auteur Dustin Reske is a bona fide pop genius, it's safe to assume that when it feels like his song is trying to make a point, it probably is. The thought came over us as we listened to the act's dazzling new single "Sleeping Pills," a deliriously upbeat and bright pop gem whose lyrics steadily reference certain of the band's classic recordings. When the old album and song titles caught our ear, we took a look to see if the lyrics were on Bandcamp, and we were pleased to find them there. They describe a relationship in trouble, but we couldn't help but wonder if it wasn't Mr. Reske's relationship with the music industry itself that he was actually singing about. An unedited version of an interview he gave last year, posted to the Rocketship web site, details Reske's forthright opinions on the problems with the business of music. Given that, it's easy to construe lines like "We shared 'A Certain Smile...' but you sold everything, it don't compute, now there's just a certain sadness and ambiguities about the loot" in more than one way. Speaking of Rocketship's older stuff, a Kickstarter for the reissue of the band's absolutely titanic 1996 Slumberland LP A Certain Smile, A Certain Sadness on vinyl is said to be starting next Wednesday or Thursday (!!!), and in the aforementioned interview, Reske stated a new Rocketship record titled Thanks To You would follow quickly on the heels of that reissue. If "Sleeping Pills" -- which previously had only been available at Rocketship's surpassingly rare 2014 live dates in San Francisco and New York -- is any indication, the new LP should be very satisfying for fans. Stream "Sleeping Pills" via the embed below, and start scraping together your cash for the big Kickstarter next week.

January 19, 2016

Premiere: The Colonnade's Pensive Troisième Moment

Premiere -- The Colonnade's Pensive Troisième Moment

Boston has long fielded strong indie pop sides, but 2016 feels like a particularly good time for indie fans who prefer their rock guitars set to "jangle." What with the recent emergence of hitmakers Du Vide and Lady Pills -- not to mention the utter brilliance of last year's long-gestated Funeral Advantage full-length debut Body Is Dead -- it's readily cognizable that some of the city's best talent is bending classic indie pop stylings to their respective wills. With that as context, we're pleased to introduce the latest entry into the city's ongoing conversation with indie pop, dreamy quartet The Colonnade's artful and oft-thrilling debut LP Femme.

More specifically, we are pleased to premiere for you the final third of Femme. The Colonnade elected to unveil its set in thirds, or, in the parlance of the band, "moments." The set's final third is replete with instrumental overtures and cinematic vignettes, and is dubbed by the band, Frenchily, Troisième Moment. Despite containing just three concrete tracks, Troisième ably showcases the range of the group's moods and modi operandi. "Abroad" touts a trebly lead riff buoyed by thick, wall-of-sound guitars and a wily vocal hook that in places echoes defunct 'gazers The Depreciation Guild. The Colonnade's "Modern Taste" at first seems a conservative play over a crisp, ride cymbal-driven beat. However, around the three-minute mark the song files a new flight plan and miraculously swells into a full-band, emo-tinged shouter that eventually, wearily peters out. "Dormancy" presents a tidy conclusion: among lazily strummed acoustic guitars and some diaphanous, clean-toned lead guitar, fronter Sean Camargo tucks into a drowsy, bed-headed vocal, a metaphoric wearied crawl to the finish after scaling a near-insurmountable peak.

The Colonnade plays a WEMF-sponsored gig at PA's Lounge in Somerville, Mass. Feb. 4, but sources tell Clicky Clicky that the act also has a record release party planned for Feb. 12 somewhere in the depths of Allston. The event is said to include song-themed specialty cocktails and French New Wave film projections, which sounds like one hell of a party. We suggest eager punters consult a counterculture enthusiast about additional show details. In the meantime, you can acquire a digital download of Femme for the nice price of $3 USD right here. Stream Troisième Moment via the embed below. -- Dillon Riley

The Colonnade: Bandcamp | Facebook

January 10, 2016

The Clicky Clicky Winter Ball featuring Burglary Years, Du Vide and School Shoes | O'Brien's Pub | 13 Jan.

The Clicky Clicky Winter Ball featuring Burglary Years, Du Vide and School Shoes | O'Brien's Pub | 13 Jan.

Hey, we made it -- it's 2016! Pat yourself on the back. You know what? You deserve a night out, a real good time with three of the finest bands currently patrolling Boston. It just so happens we can help you with that, as this coming Wednesday, Clicky Clicky's series of rock shows at O'Brien's Pub in Allston Rock City rolls on with a slate so strong it makes us giddy. The evening -- dubbed The Clicky Clicky Winter Ball by The Don of Clicky Clicky Presents -- is top-lined by 'gaze-pop concern Burglary Years, and also includes rising indie pop combo Du Vide and dream-pop upstarts School Shoes.

So what can you expect? Nothing less than hot rock aplenty, mon ami. Burglary Years' 2015 set 100 Roses has been on steady rotation here at HQ for a couple months, and we are very excited to see cuts from the dreamy five's recent record performed live, particularly the uptempo, reverberant jangler "Hey Do You Want To Come Over?" The tune, which hints at a bit of an Echo And The Bunnymen influence, has "hit" written all over it. A second cassette edition of 100 Roses -- limited to 100 pieces that include a lyric booklet, alternate cover and three previously unreleased demos -- is due Feb. 26 from Disposable America; the album had been tipped for a vinyl release via UK-concern Dog Knights Productions, but that has apparently fallen through, so all you label guys out there looking to pick up a hot release, well, you just landed on Boardwalk. Open thy wallet.

As for the supports, we wrote about Du Vide right here in December, not long after the release of the trio's terrific short stack Clutter. The act would seem to have one foot firmly in the Chicago school of '90s indie pop, and strolling through Du Vide's entire catalog is amply rewarding. The recent EP's opener "The Hell It Is" is terrifically affecting, so we suggest you click on the Bandcamp embed below to get familiar if you are not already. Du Vide is nearly finished a debut long-player, and we hope the band will have some new songs in the quiver for us to enjoy Wednesday. For those of you keeping score at home, Wednesday is but the third show since John from Horse Jumper of Love has signed on to play bass for the act, as Du Vide's prior bass player moved south recently. We were fortunate to premiere one of School Shoes' only releases to date, a stellar summer single we wrote about right here in June. Wednesday will be the band's first show in at least a year, so we are especially stoked to see them play. Like Du Vide, School Shoes has been working on a record, but it is unclear how far along the process is. But if you want a bit of perfect sad sunshine, we highly recommend you check out the band's undeniable gem "Cults" via the embed below. What else can we tell you? As the powers that be have dubbed this a Winter Ball, we hope to see some semi-formal garb, although that is certainly not required. What's most important is the gift of your presence. So come on, pilgrim.

Burglary Years: Bandcamp | Facebook
Du Vide: Bandcamp | Facebook
School Shoes: Bandcamp | Facebook

January 4, 2016

Today's Hotness: Pete Astor, Black Seas, Your Friend

Pete Astor -- Spilt Milk (cover detail)

>> It was The Loft and The Weather Prophets, more than any other single Creation Records band, that were responsible for turning this reviewer on to the wealth of great material that arrived via the imprint prior to My Bloody Valentine's revolutionary 1987 EP You Made Me Realise. The earnest and driven jangle of songs like "Up The Hill And Down The Slope" and "Almost Prayed" combined the clean drive of The Velvet Underground circa their self-titled 1969 third album with a homespun, plainspoken honesty that felt both welcoming and timeless. When we received word that Slumberland Records would release a solo album by Pete Astor, the fronter of the aforementioned Loft and Weather Prophets, we were sold right away. Called Spilt Milk and due on white vinyl Feb. 12, Mr. Astor's latest is a ten-song set that illustrates his firm command over the style and feel that made his early work so charming. Produced in part with James Hoare of cherished contemporary hitmakers Veronica Falls, Ultimate Painting and Proper Ornaments at Mr. Hoare's London-based home studio, Spilt Milk's music offers a similar warm and classic pop essence, one that hugs the listener like the trustiest worn cardigan. The record's first preview single "Really Something" immediately assures listeners that Astor's songwriting prowess remains honed; here and there his subtle, delicate throat croaks and cracks, conveying to each verse lyric some significant weight, before a deceptive chorus swoops in. The second preview taster for the LP, the ode to onanism "My Right Hand," incorporates VU-styled boogie alongside all manner of historical and cultural references to weave a complex yet exceedingly pleasant love song that passes by so briskly it begs for multiple, smiling repeats. We have heard the rest of the album, which is dynamite, and our assessment is that Spilt Milk makes a strong case for the best kind of later-life artistic statement. While Hoare's playing is all over the record -- he laid down guitar, bass, drums, keyboards and backing vocal tracks on the set -- and other players include legends Pam Berry (Black Tambourine) and Jack Hayter (Hefner) among others, the record never forgets the building blocks upon which Astor's legacy is founded, and not only celebrates them, but also has fun on its own terms, too. Stream the aforementioned "Really Something" and "My Right Hand" via the embeds below, and pre-order the album from Slumberland right here. Note that the set is a co-release with Fortuna Pop, which will issue Spilt Milk across the proverbial pond a day prior. -- Edward Charlton

>> This reviewer thought himself familiar with all of the deepest voices in rock. To be sure, since the the late '70s post-punk wave that lifted up the distinctively down-tuned larynxes of Ian Curtis, Robert Smith, Ian McCulloch and Morrissey, there has been a wealth of dark crooners at work in the genre. But, outside of perhaps the death metal scene (and setting aside the masterful grandfather of them all, Scott Walker), no voice has been as strikingly bottomless in recent memory as that of the singer of shadowy London dream-pop concern Black Seas. The mysterious ensemble, which largely eschews most online social media and whose only member we can prove exists is a fellow named Stav who once corresponded with Clicky Clicky, released late last year at long last a stirring self-titled debut EP. The six-song release follows -- after a lengthy pause -- a series of excellent digital one-offs, some of which it contains. Black Seas commences with the highlight "Laurie," which balances the kind of seasick tremolo abuse inspired by Loveless with the gloomy, violent and abstract sexuality of Xiu Xiu. The song is a slinky wonder, opening with a rolling drum beat before the brackish singing presents front and center with literate and colorful lyrics that raise more questions than answers. "There will be sentries in the shadows," the singer warns. While this sound has served well fellow Brits The Horrors -- especially on their Geoff Barrow-produced Primary Colours -- Black Seas opt to inhabit and intellectualize their frigid dystopia rather than aim for the arena rock rafters at every available moment. Its an ideal environment that fully bears the weight of a leaden voice. No less affecting the band's menacing eponymous track, a version of which we played during a New Music Night three years ago. Surprisingly perky bass playing underpins vast scraping guitar chords, while the singer stirringly emotes. The EP takes a turn for the more pop and upbeat with "Golden Child," although Black Seas employs the same building blocks to get where it needs to go. Clicky Clicky is very hopeful the appearance of this EP is a sign that the act will become a more active concern in 2016, as its music is terrifically compelling. Stream Black Seas via the SoundCloud embed below. -- Edward Charlton

>> Your Friend -- not to be confused, of course, with Alexei Berrow's similarly terrific solo project Yr Friends -- is the brainchild of Kansas-based songwriter Taryn Miller, and her early work garnered sidelong notice in these electronic pages (or at least our Facebook page), but we now have occasion for a more thorough examination: the debut Your Friend long-player Gumption, which arrives at the end of the month. The first preview track from the collection is "Heathering," which gently sways, brightly sparkles and lushly drones under Ms. Miller's rich, searching vocal. Videos of Miller performing live a year or two back impressed because of her ability to build up layers of loops to create compelling compositions as a solo performer. While she continues to occasionally perform solo, "Heathering" feels free from any constraints whatsoever. Gumption was recorded at the Rare Book Room in Brooklyn with studio founder and producer Nicolas Vernhes, who has also worked with Animal Collective, Deerhunter and The War On Drugs. The album is due Jan. 29 on vinyl 12", CD and as a digital download. Pre-order the set right here, and stream the aforementioned "Heathering" via the SoundCloud embed below. Your Friend plays the Middle East Downstairs April 12 as part of a big-ass spring tour, supporting Alex G and Porches; we implore you to make a note to arrive early to see Your Friend, because that's the smart move. Your Friend's Domino debut, a self-recorded EP titled Jekyll/Hyde, was released in early 2014.