March 31, 2016

Review: Yr Poetry | Rocket Season EP

We are dogged by an apparently false (or at least presently unconfirmed) recollection of a use of the term "rocket summer" beyond its obvious references within popular fiction and execrable emo. What we recall is a piece of dialogue dubbing "rocket summer" a season in which the lives of a group of young people begin to take off -- you know, like rockets. We thought we'd find the verbiage in the crucial '90s indie-scene film "Half Cocked," whose story features a crash pad called Rocket House, but a repeat screening last week proved fruitless. Instead of continuing to cast about for support for our possibly dreamed-up memory, we're just going to get to these (long-suffering) points: Yr Poetry released last week a thrilling new six-song EP of taut, melodious indie anthems called Rocket Season, and -- as a result -- it is hard not to feel like the project has taken off (slightly adjusted title or no).

Longtime readers will not need the history lesson and can scroll ahead, but neophytes take heed: Yr Poetry is Alexei Berrow and Junior Elvis Washington Laidley of invincible Birmingham, England fight-pop four Johnny Foreigner, although the project is doubly once-removed from that concern via each gentlemen's respective solo endeavor (guitarist Berrow's Yr Friends, f/k/a Yr Dead Friends, and drummer Laidley's Fridge Poetry). Rocket Season, Yr Poetry's second EP, opens on a high with the thunderous basher "Don't Call Me Shirley," a song that tells of a powerful infatuation whose shuddering energy and vivid, desperate vocals echo the electrifying jolt of new, seemingly inescapable love. Given he is endlessly clever, its easy to believe Berrow uses the tune's closing words ("...that boy, still gets you...") as a nod to "Still Got It," the final track of the pair's titanic 2014 debut mini-album No Tribes. Or at least it is easier to believe that than it is to believe that Berrow named a song after a running gag from one of the greatest comedies ever filmed. Either way, the onion-skin layers of yearning and poignancy embedded in the crashing chords and cymbals of "Don't Call Me Shirley" are terrifically affecting.

The EP's 15 minutes transpire rapidly, never presenting a chance to sag, and the tone is generally raw and aggressive: think Johnny Foreigner's thrashing "Who Needs Comment Boxes When You've Got Knives," from the act's triumphant 2010 EP You Thought You Saw A Shooting Star But Yr Eyes Were Blurred With Tears And That Lighthouse Can Be Pretty Deceiving With The Sky So Clear And Sea So Calm [review], and you'll have an idea of Berrow's headspace when writing this short collection. The mid-set charmer "We Are Not The Champions" stands out. The tune condenses the sardonic conceit of Built To Spill's majestic "You Were Right" into a similarly sharp-witted but elegantly architected rocker. It is worth remarking that there seems to be something in the zeitgeist with the sentiment "We Are Not The Champions," as LA's DTCV uses virtually the same title for a completely different rocker on its dazzling LP Confusion Moderne, due next month.

Berrow told Goldflake Paint recently that Yr Poetry is "super proud how [Rocket Season] turned out and vaguely side-eye confident that it stands as a rad piece of music without being propped up by a *side project of.. tag... so who knows, maybe this is our mainstream breakout project." He is an avid reader of sci-fi, so it is very likely the title of the EP was carefully selected, for both its similarity to, and differences from, Ray Bradbury's epochal classic "The Martian Chronicles," whose first chapter is titled "Rocket Summer." Yr Poetry's chosen title if anything is stronger, as it suggests an ability to adapt, and -- importantly -- to return. It underscores the momentum of the project. although that momentum will likely be knocked sidewise with the release of the aforementioned Johnny Foreigner's hotly anticipated next full-length, which may very well street before 2016 burns out.

Rocket Season was recorded over a weekend in Johnny Foreigner's rehearsal space by James and Josh from Mutes; the set was mixed by music-recording-guy extraordinaire Dom James. Yr Poetry self-released Rocket Season as a CD and digital download March 24, and a special pre-order bundle was on offer the week prior to release right here.The bundle included a handmade, numbered and signed CD, an A4 poster, lyric sheet and black t-shirt with a yellow-printed rendering of the collection's ace cover image, but it appears orders are no longer being taken. For those who missed the offer of physical merch, the set should be on Bandcamp soon. For now, stream the entirety of Rocket Season via the embed below.

Yr Poetry: Bandcamp | Soundcloud

Related Coverage:
Today's Hotness: Fridge Poetry
Johnny Foreigner Side Project Tsunami: New Music Pending From Yr Poetry, Yr Friends and Fridge Poetry, Hear Titanic "Still Got It" Now
Today's Hotness: Fridge Poetry
Today's Hotness: Fridge Poetry
Today's Hotness: Fridge Poetry
Today's Hotness: Yr Friends
Today's Hotness: Yr Friends
Today's Hotness: Yr Dead Friends

March 25, 2016

Premiere: Civic's Confident, Questioning "Rocking Chair"

Premiere: Civic's 'Rocking Chair'

[Image: detail of photo by Andre Rober Beriau] Two premieres in one week? Sure, why not. Longtime readers might do a double-take for this one, as we rarely stray from post-punk or more abstract electronic sounds here at Clicky Clicky, and the terrific new track below from Boston's Civic instead fits more comfortably under the descriptor Americana or folk-rock. But IRL you'll find this blog's executive editor tuned to WMBR's Lost Highway Americana and roots show every Saturday morning, so these sounds aren't exactly outside of our wheelhouse, either. Which makes for a long and irrelevant introduction to the very fine new song "Rocking Chair" from Civic. The quartet gradually arranged itself around the songwriting of singer and guitarist Dana Osterling early in 2015 and played its first show with its present line-up -- albeit still under Ms. Osterling's name, as the group had not arrived at the Civic moniker -- at the dearly departed T.T. The Bear's last May. The foursome is gearing up to release a debut EP titled Things With Feathers next month. We are pleased to premiere for you today the heartfelt strummer "Rocking Chair," the fourth track from the six-song set.

The song stages Osterling's voice up front and above picked acoustic and wisps of pedal-steel before marshalling a cracking snare to drive the mid-tempo song through sincere verses and choruses. Within the latter, Osterling muses on the place of the natural and mundane within grander, spiritual schemes. The melody and easy beat are arresting, but so are the little details: how Osterling's vocal vibrato is echoed by a vibratoed guitar flourish in the chorus; the classic sound of slap-back on her vocals; the subtle organ coloring the edges of the mix. Like Kathleen Edwards? Well, then, you're going to like this. Civic self-releases Things With Feathers as a CD, limited-edition cassette and digital download April 8, and the band will play what amounts to a release show with Minneapolis' Little Fevers April 6 at Atwood's Tavern in Cambridge, Mass. Long-time readers may be interested to note that Civic practices in the same building as Clicky Clicky faves Hallelujah The Hills, whose practice space was the subject of our wildly popular Show Us Yours feature back in late 2013. Civic tracked a bonus track for the physical copies of the forthcoming EP live to tape there, and also recorded some overdubs there, so we suppose a small huzzah for Puritan Garage is in order. Stream "Rocking Chair" via the embed below. There will be no pre-orders for Things With Feathers, so click here April 8 to set yourself up.

Civic: Bandcamp | Facebook | Internerds

March 21, 2016

Premiere: Pleasure Gap's Ambitious, Ranging Scatter

Pleasure Gap -- Scatter (detail)

Manchester, NH indie rock five Pleasure Gap returns next week with its third full-length, an eight-song set impressive in its ambition and range. The collection is called Scatter, the music it contains bucks simplistic categorization, and we are pleased to premiere the entire thing for you today via the embed below.

Scatter commences with the mournful epic "Therapist," which deliberately interlaces guitar and bass lines, cycles through thoughtful tempo and rhythm changes, and detours almost too briefly for an arresting, harmonic-spangled interlude. Indeed, the compelling bones of Scatter are its complex arrangements, which eschew standard verse-chorus-verse construction in favor of rambling forays. Here and elsewhere across the album, fronter Ryan Egan's high and lonesome vocals slide around his range, sometimes depositing mumbles a la Modest Mouse's Isaac Brock, and at others delivering adenoidal expostulations after the fashion of Alec Ounsworth. The result is a record with notable range, as adept at delivering the garagey, Pavement-ings of "Merkle" (that's no typographical error referencing the German Chancellor, but rather the last name of Pleasure Gap bassist and co-founder Sean Merkle), as it is the vestigially metal, melodramatic "Dumpster Dreams." But the track that shines brightest on Scatter is the smoothed-out, mid-tempo ballad "Murder Me Gently," which bobs and weaves along to prominent slide guitar, swaying gently -- as one would expect -- in subdued, heartfelt choruses that take on increasing color in the final minute via multiplying layers of moving, melodic, low-octave guitar work.

Midnight Werewolf releases Scatter March 29 as the third and final monthly installment of the label's Triple Threat series of cassette releases; it is available for pre-order now in a limited edition of 100 light pink cassettes in hand-crafted, hand-numbered cases, which come bundled with stickers and pins. Scatter will also be available as a digital download. Pleasure Gap plays on a particularly hot bill next month at O'Brien's in Boston's Allston Rock City enclave, a benefit for the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. The show transpires April 23 and also features hitmakers of the day and Clicky Clicky faves Funeral Advantage, Burglary Years and Kitner; full event details are right here, and Pleasure Gap's complete slate of upcoming shows is listed below. Pleasure Gap's first long-player Tropical Barn was self-released in 2013 [link]; a sophomore set Cream Wave arrived last summer [link].

Pleasure Gap: Bandcamp | Facebook

03.23 -- Manchester, NH -- Fuzz Hut
04.15 -- Providence, RI -- AS220
04.17 -- Dover, NH-- Wrong Brain HQ
04.23 -- Boston, MA -- O'Brien's
05.06 -- Portland, ME -- Geno's
05.07 -- Winooski, VT -- Waking Windows
05.08 -- Albany, NY -- The Tree House
05.09 -- Brooklyn, NY-- Palisades
05.29 -- Manchester, NH-- Fuzz Hut

March 12, 2016

Review: Horse Jumper Of Love | Horse Jumper Of Love

The rise of Boston slowcore trio Horse Jumper Of Love has perhaps surprised extra-scene observers whose attention was trained so firmly on luminaries such as Speedy Ortiz and Krill that they could not perceive the threesome at the fore of the inevitable, inexorable next wave swelling in the distance. But now that the trio's transcendent, self-titled debut long-player is here, Horse Jumper Of Love's preeminence is undeniable, no matter the vantage point. Its Horse Jumper Of Love is among the enigmatic band's first forays into full-band recordings, yet it shines brightly as both a statement of purpose and resolute expression of a startlingly whole and uncompromising aesthetic.

Horse Jumper's roots date to at least 2013, when principal songwriter Dimitri Giannopoulos' skeletal demos began cropping up on the Internet. Not long after the threesome gelled, it developed a reputation for delivering expansive, cathartic live sets. It is little surprise each member of the trio has a role in producing the new record’s mysterious, off-kilter sound. Jamie Vadala-Doran's beguiling and restrained drum work stops, starts and stutters without ever truly derailing, while John Margaris' minimal, haunting bass playing and backing vocals provide crucial ambiance; together, the rhythm section lends Horse Jumper's compositions a tangible -- if incalculable -- sense of danger. At the center of all this rests Mr. Giannopoulous' cryptic and often elliptical songcraft and playing. A deft guitarist, his short ringing leads pendulate between delicately understated and furiously heavy, often within the same song. Giannopoulous’ iterates and reiterates sonic and lyrical motifs, imbuing his plainspoken but philosophical musings on existence and the space we occupy with substantial weight.

Take for example the early preview track "Spaceman," a buoyant, crawling number presumably about existing separate and apart from public convention. Giannopolous sings of his America towel -- a reference to the tune "July 5th" -- and wields it as much as a literary device as a lyric. While we won't presume to speculate on its true meaning within the Horse Jumper narrative, its repetition suggests the towel carries some deeper importance. Horse Jumper Of Love's closing track "I Love You Very Much Forever" -- which again echoes "July 5th" – is actually a substantially slowed reformulation of the early Horse Jumper demo "Heathen." In addition to these internal references, certain songs point to the world outside the instant record as well. The short, instrumental interlude "I Want To Paint Horses... And To Have A Horse" recalls the ambient aspects of the 2015 demo collection Ur Real Life Dress. Horse Jumper Of Love’s "Bagel Breath" and "DIRT," arguably the set's two strongest tunes, are also culled from previously released demos; here they are given graceful full-band reworkings that thrum with copious distortion.

The record's peculiar cover art -- a scrawl that recalls the visuals for UK fuzz-rock troupe Yuck's early (and far superior) releases -- and accompanying vivid narrative feel of a piece with Horse Jumper Of Love. It also underscores the band's singular personality, a trait mostly ignored by appraisals of the record thus far; indeed, Horse Jumper Of Love has drawn quizzical comparisons to acts as divergent as Alex G and Radiohead. In our estimation, Horse Jumper Of Love is doing something that, while not entirely new, certainly distinguishes the act from its peers. The band's determination to plot its own course is far more praiseworthy than which indie rock critical touchstone a particular journalist feels they most closely approximate. Horse Jumper Of Love is out now on cassette via Disposable America and Gawk Records and can be purchased right here or here. Sources tell us that the tape is already on its second pressing. Stream three songs below, and peruse the band's pending tour dates with Soft Fangs, virtually pasted below. -- Dillon Riley

Horse Jumper Of Love: Bandcamp | Facebook | Soundcloud

March 10, 2016

Today's Hotness: What Moon Things, Family Video

What Moon Things' 'Party Down The Street'

>> Last week brought the first official new sounds from What Moon Things since the trio moved from upstate New York down to Brooklyn, the compelling darkwave number "Party Down The Street." Sure, there was the nice short stack of spacey jams casually and digitally released at the end of 2015 entitled, well, Space Jams, which fans shouldn't overlook and which also offers some indication as to which label might release the three's planned sophomore full-length. For sheer drama and major hookage, "Party Down The Street" -- which will likely feature on said forthcoming LP -- can't be beat. The song's arrangement comfortably sprawls through breathy verses (that exhale apparent reverse reverb), and anthemic, noisier sections where guitars swirl over the song's mechanical rhythm track. In said verses, Mr. Harms' vocals are impressionistic and emotive, but when he bellows "my face lit up like a question mark" the narrative focuses and the song catches fire. It also doesn't hurt that "Party Down The Street" echoes not just a little vintage and celebrated sounds from bands including The Cure. The tune closes with a tasteful, downbeat denouement, pulsing kick and boxy electro-snare into a roomy reverb while guitars slowly unwind the melody. No release date or title for What Moon Things' next record have been announced, but the band is presently on tour and we expect fans are hearing some new songs out there in the rock clubs of the American South as the Things venture to and from the annual SXSW music confabulation (Arkanas tonight! Full tour dates below). Hot Grits released What Moon Things' self-titled debut full-length in June 2014 as a vinyl 12", CD and digital download; that LP is presently in its second pressing. Stream "Party Down The Street" via the Soundcloud embed below.

3/10 -- Maxine's -- Hot Springs, AR
3/11 -- Denton 35 FEST -- Denton, TX
3/14 - 3/20 -- SXSW -- Austin, TX
3/21 -- Gasa Gasa -- New Orleans, LA
3/23 -- Blind Mule -- Mobile, AL
3/24 -- TV Land -- Tallahassee, FL
3/25 -- 1904 -- Jacksonville, FL
3/27 -- Will's Pub -- Orlando, FL
3/28 -- Tin Roof -- Charleston, SC
3/29 -- Brookland Tavern -- Columbia, SC
4/1 -- Slingshot FEST -- Athens, GA
4/4 -- The Camel -- Richmond, VA
4/6 -- Songbyrd Cafe -- Washington, DC
4/7 -- Old Mogul Theatre -- Montclair, NJ

>> The persistence of bass player jokes is one of those modern mysteries. After all, examples of notably talented bass players that can write songs aren't all that hard to come by: there's that McCartney guy, that Tweedy guy, and locally in Boston, just off the top of our head and only picking one, there's Jenny Mudari from Feral Jenny and Bent Shapes (whose album release show is tonight in Allston Rock City, doncha know?). As it turns out, Clicky Clicky faves Fog Lake have a talented, songwriting bass player as well. Her name is Jen King, and her project Family Video last month issued an understated but fierce set of indie pop songs called Places To Sleep. Sure, the St. John's, Newfoundland-based act's music isn't as deeply haunting as that of Fog Lake, but it is similarly affecting and occasionally even as downcast. Family Video's 11-song set features scruffy, guitar-centric songs that bash and pop through spare arrangements and echo in places the confessional songwriting of Liz Phair and the fizzing verve of Tiger Trap. Asymmetrical opener "You In The Night" morosely plods through pretty, chiming verses in the first 90 seconds, but soars for the final two minutes on the strength of spiraling, melodic lead guitar and steady synth tones. The cracking album highlight "My Sister's House" showcases buoyant bass playing and glistening guitar jangle, and escalates into a proper rave-up spangled by an urgent quarter-note cadence on the snare in its final third. "Winter Shadow" -- as well as its more poignant, delicate, acoustic iteration "Winter Shadow (Revisited)" -- presents Ms. King voicing the unguarded, forthright request "won't somebody smack me and make me feel realize..." The song's emotional heft compounds as its lyrics cast in different directions for deliverance from loneliness (it also references listening to the radio, which always gets songwriters a check-plus from Clicky Clicky's executive editor). Places To Sleep was recorded to and mixed on a four-track machine, and Fog Lake's Aaron Powell contributed synth to three cuts and vocals to the tune "Empty Bed;" he's also mentioned in the song "Aaron In The Basement." Family Video self-released Places To Sleep to the wilds of the Internerds Feb. 16. Stream the entire collection via the embed below and click through the purchase it as a paywhutchyalike download.

March 4, 2016

Review: New Dog | Teeth Marks

The implication of the name New Dog, at least in the context of the old proverb, is that it can indeed learn new tricks. And while the new long-player from the so-named, Somerville, Mass.-based act doesn't stray wildly from the course plotted by two fine, noir-tinged and tension-filled predecessors, it feels brighter, louder, more potent and in places even inviting.

Perhaps it is more a question of a new outlook, rather than new tricks, but that question as yet yields no definite answer. Band mastermind Anar Badalov stated recently that the 10 songs that comprise Teeth Marks took shape quickly and with relatively surprising ease, such that only now, with the benefit of distance and time, are the songs' meanings revealing themselves to him. As before, Mr. Badalov's vivid lyrics present as closely delivered confidences, but therein there seems to be a new sense of contentedness, which suggests Badalov -- or at least the characters that populate his Sherwood Anderson-esque constructions -- is certainly learning something.

The album's quicker writing process (it's only nine months since New Dog's last record was released) didn't result in more spare compositions, surprisingly enough. Instead, Teeth Marks presents a fuller sound rendered from Badalov's characteristic blend of voice, guitar and piano. He expands his aural comfort zone via additional layers of each, finely appointed with reverbs and subtle synth swells. The record opens with "3 A.M.," a fleeting ode to infatuation ("I'll tell you anything you want to know, if you just let me walk you home") that commences with a burbling electric piano trill that wobbles like a plate spinning on a stick. "Home By Five" details the simple satisfactions of domesticity over skeletal guitar work delivered in 3/4 time ("I wear my ring but it's never too tight... life is boring, isn't it?"). The album highlight "Here All Days" introduces sturdy rhythm tracks and what feels like an inevitable cloud, the stark, dark admission "all the people that I love, I can count you on one hand, the other one I keep in my pocket." According to Badalov, the tune -- which includes the lyric that became the album title -- is loosely based on his time as a cubicle dweller ("all the hours I've been losing at my desk, you can empty the trash but you can't undo the rest..."), and also contemplates fulfilling commitments. Its restlessness recalls the nocturnal meditations of last year's excellent album Classic Ballroom Dances [review], as does the menacing distorted electric piano and fits of feedback that open the succeeding song, "Lover's Palm."

"Joe Brainard's Idea" is comprised of snatches of tangential memories, and was inspired by the titular author's volume "I Remember." The tune ruminates on the push and pull that memories can have as one grows older -- particularly memories that can cut both ways: is it joy or regret Badalov feels as he recalls "outside on a blanket at night, a thousand sparking eyes looking down at us?" The track "Sudden Amnesia" is notable for being the new collection's sole cover; its a composition by poet and literary critic Frank Manchaca. Badalov revealed on Facebook recently that he and Mr. Manchaca have been collaborating on a record titled Laughing Around The Bend that may also see release this year. Teeth Marks closes with the powerfully poignant piano ballad "Would You Let Me In?," a song made all the more poignant by its placement at the end of the record, and the repeated sizzle and snap of closing hi-hat, which suggests one possible answer.

Badalov self-released Teeth Marks in a hyper limited edition of 50 LPs and as a digital download today; Classic Ballroom Dances was released by Kill Rock Stars. Teeth Marks will be fĂȘted with a record release show March 24 at Cambridge, Mass.'s charming bar The Plough & Stars; also on the bill that night is Emerald Comets, a side project of Guillermo Sexo's Reuben Bettsak. Stream all of Teeth Marks via the Bandcamp embed below.

New Dog: Bandcamp | Facebook | Internerds

Prior New Dog Coverage:
Review: New Dog | Classic Ballroom Dances
Together With Together: Clicky Clicky Presents Two Nights of Abstract Electronics And Indie Rock May 12+14
Review: New Dog | Lost Weekend
Today's Hotness: New Dog

March 1, 2016

Premiere: Rick Rude's Bombastic "Stromboli"

Rick Rude's Bombastic 'Stromboli'

A forthcoming, vibrant EP from indie rock combo Rick Rude shows the Dover, New Hampshire five know how to play the angles. Or, we suppose, how to play angularly, in the tradition of the great and greatly exercised rockers of the '90s musical underground. The new five-song collection Mind Cook alternately cools out and rocks out, hinting at jazzy intentions one moment and then exploding into Superchunk-indebted infernos on songs including the bracing title cut. Indeed, Mind Cook exhibits substantial range in the gentle slink of the verses of "54 TLOC" and the subdued closing coming-of-age ballad "Little Boy." Rick Rude seems particularly comfortable establishing calm centers in three-quarter time, as in the aforementioned closer, and these placid moments make their yanging, bombastic complements all the more potent.

The clear highlight of the set is the alternately slamming and noodly ripper "Stromboli," which sits in the center of Mind Cook. The tune thrashes and bops through almost two minutes before unhinged vocals ever-so-briefly plead their case via several strands of elongated syllables. At its most cacaphonous "Stromboli" sonically hints at Pretty Girls Make Graves circa "Speakers Push The Air," but the song's genteel passages are just as important in conveying Rick Rude's playful character. Salty Speakers pairs with Cat Dead Details Later Records to issue Mind Cook as a vinyl 7" March 18, and one can already pre-order the set right here. Salty Speakers previously issued Rick Rude's split cassette with Kiss Concert, which is available from Bandcamp right here. There fans can also find additional EP and singles tracks, as well as Rick Rude's April 2013 debut full-length, Heavyweights. Rick Rude plays Providence this Saturday, and heads out on a week-long tour to support the EP on St. Patrick's Day. All presently known tour dates are below.

Rick Rude: Bandcamp | Internetz | Facebook

03.05 -- Providence, RI -- Viva/Paragon Cafe
03.17 -- Dover, NH -- Wrong Brain HQ
03.18 -- Buffalo, NY -- The Glitterbox
03.19 -- Mansfield, OH -- Relax, It's Just Coffee
03.20 -- Rochester, NY -- The Bug Jar
03.21 -- Cambridge, MA -- ZuZu
03.24 -- Portland, ME -- Hella Good Tacos
05.01 -- Portsmouth, NH -- 3S Artspace
05.06 -- Winooski, VT -- Waking Windows Festival
05.28 -- Portsmouth, NH -- Birdseye Lounge
06.11 -- Peterborough, NH -- The Thing In The Spring Festival