April 30, 2014

Regolith A2E2: Sean Tracy Writes Songs Under The Gun

Regolith A2E2: Sean Tracy Writes Songs Under The Gun Sean Tracy likes to do it in the car... recording vocals, that is -- HEY-O! Welcome back to Regolith, Clicky Clicky's 30-day songwriting and recording challenge, wherein we con one woman or man of the indie rock persuasion to let us tag along and take an in-depth look at her or his creative process as they write and record new music from scratch. This is episode A2E2 -- that is "Artist Two, Episode Two" -- wherein Mr. Tracy gives us his mid-project update. You remember Sean, right? The guy who makes the bass noises for Boston anxiety-pop unit Chandeliers and New Hampshire/Boston shoegaze goliaths Bedroom Eyes? We covered all of that in A2E1, which, if you missed it, it's still online right here. There's some pretty interesting insights below. Perhaps our favorite is Tracy's assertion that the project is a lot like a quiz that you've written for yourself. "You know you're the one who made up the questions in the first place, but you still have to think about the answers." Something about that sentiment makes us think of a favorite Lilys lyric, but it also has a ring of truth for those of us who written a song or 10. Check out our full second interview with Sean below, which gives us some sense of what we might be hearing when Tracy turns over the proverbial tapes as his 30 days elapse (at which point we do one more blog post and offer the music via our Bandcamp page, remember? Also, Tracy turns back into a pumpkin). We invite you to dig in to the nitty and gritty below, and be certain to check back for the thrilling conclusion in the coming days. -- L. Tiburon Pacifico
Clicky Clicky: How has the project been going so far? Are you finding it easier or harder than you anticipated? Any particularly big challenges?

Sean Tracy: It's been a lot of fun! Definitely a positive experience so far, but I would say that I'm finding it a bit harder than I anticipated, mostly because I'm now at the point where I'm having to scale down what I wanted to do initially. I'd say that's the biggest challenge, having to sacrifice some tracking/production for the sake of finishing it. I've also had some basic technical issues... a broken microphone, broken headphones, etc.

CC: Tell us about your recording equipment setup. Are there specific reasons you use the equipment and software that you do?

ST: The primary things I've been using to record have been my MacBook and my new USB interface, a Focusrite Scarlett 2i2. It acts as a preamp for a microphone as well as for the guitar, so I've been relying on that for almost everything. I have a microphone that I "liberated" from work that is apparently broken, so I'm most likely (really, really soon) going to borrow or buy another one.

For software, I've been using Logic to record/mix and Adobe Audition for more mixing. I use Logic mostly because I learned how to record with Garageband, which is basically Logic's baby brother, so when I wanted something better, it was sort of an easy transition.

CC: Describe techniques you employ (mic placement, mixing, effects, etc.). Would you use these same techniques if time were not a limiting factor? How did you learn to record this way?

ST: Well, currently the one microphone I have is not working, so I'm thinking of placing it in the trash. [Ba-da-dum~! -- Ed.]

When it did work, I would kinda dangle it over my amp (a Fender Hot Rod Deluxe) to record the guitar because I don't have one of those little mic stands. The original game plan was to use the Focusrite to record one track of DI guitar, and one mic'ed track off my amp to give it a real amp tone with the DI mixed in. Because of the microphone situation, I'm going to probably just use only the DI tracks. This might change if I get the time to try out another microphone, but I'm not really sure yet.

For effects, I have a few pedals that I run my guitar through. Reverb, chorus, delay, echo, fuzz and distortion so far. I also use Logic to add in some digital reverb and compression to the whole mix.

If time weren't a factor, I would probably still do it this way. I think it works really well, especially as a way to dirty up some of the DI tracks. This is my first time recording this way, but I got the idea from Ryan Stack at Format Audio, our recording engineer for the new Chandeliers LP. This is more or less what he did for the bass tracks on the album, and I thought it sounded great, so I wanted to try it out for this project.

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

ST: I guess the one strange thing about me is that I like recording vocals in my car. I get much less background noise/hum that way, and I also don't have to worry about my neighbors thinking I'm a total weirdo/jerk for singing the same part over and over again.

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

ST: For guitars, I've been using a Fender Telecaster, and, in some places, an Epiphone SG. The Telecaster has been the main guitar, but I've used the SG in a couple places to get a kinda crunchier/hotter sound.

For bass, I've been using a Fender Bass VI, an instrument that tends to confuse a lot of people because it has 6 strings. It looks like a baritone guitar, which is what most people think it is, but it's tuned the same as a standard guitar and can be played like a bass or guitar (Robert Smith of the Cure was known to use one). I love how it sounds.

For the drums, I've been using Logic to program beats. I've been mostly trying to get the programmed drums to approximate the sound/feel of a natural drum kit/live drummer, but in some spots I wanted the beat to feel more like a drum machine.

The only other instrument that I may try to use is an old Casiotone keyboard that I have. I think it could be fun to somehow work keys into a couple places.

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

ST: Yes. Well, somewhat. I usually record while I write but that's kind of what I need to do for this project. It's nice to come up with a mostly-structured song before I record it, but with the time limit, I've been finding myself myself just hitting "record" and experimenting until I find an idea I like, and then going from there.

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?

ST: Hard to say. I'd like to think that maybe they would be a little more developed, at least structurally, but I don't know if that would be a good thing or not. Were it not for the time limit, however, I don't think that some of these songs would ever have existed, because it's something that's forcing me to sit down and produce something, and hopefully that's caused me to create something a little different or interesting than I ordinarily would have.

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?

ST: I think of it as more liberating. I tend to work well under pressure... sometimes it's the only way I can actually finish anything. I tend to doubt myself a lot, and there's not really time for that. Knowing there's a deadline is kind of motivating me to be creative, but at the same time, there's not a minimum amount of songs that I have to turn over, so it's almost like taking a quiz that you've written for yourself. You know you're the one who made up the questions in the first place, but you still have to think about the answers.
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April 29, 2014

Today's Hotness: Bully, Palberta, Bored Nothing

Bully -- Milkman b/w Faceblind (detail)

>> When it comes to rocking songs, how does one objectively define a blaster? A banger? A stomper? It's a deceptively interesting question to ponder, even while sober (maybe), but at the moment the easiest answer might be to direct answer-seekers to the electrifying "Milkman" by Nashville indie rockers Bully. The song comprises the top half of the threesome's new 7", which was released April 25 on Chicken Ranch Records with "Faceblind" gracing the flip. The up-tempo (a blaster's gotta be uptempo, right?) "Milkman" metes a master class in how to concoct an A-side, while proffering some of the most riotous guitar pop we've heard this year. Bully's new single follows three pressings of the act's self-titled EP [as we wrote here] with tracks that feature similar sonics but even more power and more purposeful production. This reviewer is not a rich man, but he'd wager a fiver that the two-minute "Milkman" blows up in the underground in the coming weeks. Fronter (and producer) Alicia Bognanno drives the song's propulsive tempo and tried-and-true chord changes with her affectingly raspy soprano, which is reminiscent of that of Juliana Hatfield. Ms. Boganno's would seem to be a voice destined for greatness -- it's equally effective at punk sneers, candy-coated hooks screamed down an ear, and precise self-harmonizing, a rare gift. Also worth mentioning: "Milkman" presents some of the most tasteful cowbell heard in recent memory! "Milkman" b/w "Faceblind" is available in a limited edition of 500 flat, circular vinyl discs. One-hundred-and-fifty of these were pressed to blue vinyl and only three of those remained as of a week ago; the balance of the pressing is on black media. We recommend pre-ordering the new single now via the Bandcamp embed below, as the band's need to continually repress old records should be ample evidence that more and more people are in on this great, perhaps not-so-secret, Tennessee secret [Tennessecret? -- Ed.]. -- Edward Charlton

>> No-wave noiseniks Palberta returned earlier this month with more economical, tweaked tunes on a cassette split titled Special Worship, which features music from the equally madcap New England Patriots on the back side. When we last wrote about the Annandale-on-Hudson, New York-based threesome here in December, the prankster surprises and spooky songwriting on its creaky/jerky/perky debut collection My Pal Berta had successfully loosened at least a few screws in this reviewer's brain. Across five tracks on the new collection, Palberta delivers succinct blasts of wiry, squirming guitar, minimal drum textures and grungy, lo-fi bass. The great groove of "Store" -- a tune that echoes the taut, dry weirdness of Brooklyn-based punk-funk luminaries Ava Luna -- is interrupted in its last ten seconds by serrated guitar strums and high, menacing yelps that suggest a young child's new-found ability to sing with reckless abandon. A delightfully skewed cover of "Hot Cross Buns" takes the tune somewhere it's certainly never gone before. Skittering atop the wonderfully concise compositions are dueling female vocals, which almost seem to play out the roles of Freud's Ego and Id, respectfully. One voice is calm and collected, often evoking the cool, speak-sing street moves of Kim Gordon, while the other trades in bubbly shrieks that imbue the trio's music with much of its chaotic swagger. Palberta continues to tap into something rare with its music, and we recommend you keep an ear on what they are doing. Stream Special Worship via the embed below, and maybe consider buying it at the hilarious and awesome $1,000 minimum. -- Edward Charlton

>> It's not boring, and it's not nothing: it's the latest bit of pleasing downer-pop from Melbourne, Australia DIY pop outfit Bored Nothing, the nom de indie rock of one Fergus Miller. Titled "Why Were You Dancing With All Those Guys?," Mr. Miller's new slow-burner is a beautiful, rainy strummer, flush with delicate electric jangle. High-string whammy bar action floats low in the mix and lends the ballad just the right amount of lovesick tension. Handclap accents on the snare hits and perfect, brief guitar and organ leads say just enough without getting in the way. Additionally, on this track Miller's voice reminds this reviewer of Elliot Smith, but in an alternate universe where the famed singer-songwriter attempted to audition for Slumberland Records after hearing The Aislers Set. "Why Were You Dancing With All Those Guys?" comes in a limited edition of 30 lathe-cut 7" records (housed in sleeves that bear the likeness of cartoon antihero Bobby Hill), which we imagine must be sold out by now. Bored Nothing's Facebook and Bandcamp pages don't state definitively that the packages are all gone (they do state there will be no repress, and the song will never be made available as a download), so who knows. Orders come packaged with a shirt, sticker and letter that are all related to the tune, making the $40 Australian price tag a bit more understandable. Stream "Why Were You Dancing With All Those Guys?" via the embed below, and click through if you feel like trying your luck at getting what may be the very last piece of vinyl. We previously wrote about Bored Nothing here last July. -- Edward Charlton

April 28, 2014

Premiere: Soccer Mom's Crushing LP Soccer Mom

We are exceedingly pleased to premiere today the self-titled, full-length debut from the mighty Boston shoegaze foursome Soccer Mom. More than four years ago, we decided this was an important band, and despite the protracted wait (which was honestly little surprise, given the premise of our first feature on them), here today the quartet resoundingly and at long last delivers on the promise of its clutch of early singles and the crushing 2011 EP You Are Not Going To Heaven. Certainly all that time seems to have been put to good use: Soccer Mom is a painstakingly crafted, likely career-defining collection that positions the act for national attention. The LP contains powerful and beautiful music explosively rendered from charred shadow and blinding light. But the biggest accomplishment of Soccer Mom may be the containment itself: Soccer Mom in effect cages the beast, tidily confining -- without stifling -- the visceral squall of the band's live sets in such a way as to reveal the elegant architecture and compelling emotion that comprise the bone and flesh of Soccer Mom's music.

The album sits in a strange place: it sounds like a lot of things -- Soccer Mom typically draws references to Sonic Youth, My Bloody Valentine, Swirlies -- but very few things in the contemporary soundscape within and without its native Boston sounds like its synthesis of shoegaze, post-hardcore and post-rock. While not overtly mathematic or emo, Soccer Mom wields its very considerable charms not just through raw power but also via big dynamic shifts and face-stinging emotions. One feels it as the towering walls of textural guitar crumble into slowly picked melodies in "Orejas," or while the chords of "It's Probably Not Your Fault" stutter, grind and wantonly feedback in the song's final thrilling minute. It's in drummer Justin Kehoe's clever consolidation of new wave and hardcore playing, which skitters like mechanical mice in "Sundown Syndrome," and routinely spurs jarring transitions. And it's in Danielle Deveau's bass playing, which serves as the still point of turning that anchors the record.

The album's emotional impact is firmly indexed to those big dynamics, a key factor in making the music so engaging, even as it comes in a variety of flavors. There's the cool, clinical reportage of co-fronter and guitarist Will Scales' "Hideaway Sands," or his troubling final understatement ("you don't seem like yourself") in the buzzing and grinding "Open Heart Surgery." Co-fronter and guitarist Dan Parlin's desperate, declaratory vocal in opener "It's Probably Not Your Fault" (a title that feels equally sarcastic and sad, but knowing this band it probably is a sound bite from a reality TV show) is just as affecting as his poignant, introspective query "what's a boy to do, but hang around with you?" in the aforementioned "Sundown Syndrome." Many of the songs on Soccer Mom are burnished by the subtly applied vocal contributions of Deborah Warfield, who has in the past served time with the aforementioned Swirlies and collaborated with former Autochrome fronter Jeff Bartell. Notably, instead of weighing the mix down with yet another element to manage, Ms. Warfield's voice, while often barely there, provides a sense of lightness, that, were this a different kind of album, we might even consider uplifting. We extend kudos to recording engineer Shaun Curran of Somerville, Mass.'s Napoleon Complex for executing a very precise mix that, as we stated stated supra, reveals and even illuminates Soccer Mom's music. The band writes terrific melodies worthy of its oft-cited shoegazing progenitors, and now you know.

Soccer Mom will be released Thursday via the New York-based 100m Records as a vinyl 12", compact disc or digital download. The release is being feted May 3 with a live show at Boston's Great Scott rock club; dream-pop titans Infinity Girl, shoegaze behemoth Bedroom Eyes and indie rock upstarts Palehound also perform, making the evening one of the most rewarding you will likely see in a small Boston club this year. Here's the Facebook event page for the show. We are given to understand Soccer Mom will have merch on-hand, including some fetching shirts, so start saving up your shoe-shine tips now. We'll see you Saturday.

Soccer Mom: Facebook | Tumblahhh | Twonger

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April 23, 2014

Fear Of Men, with The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart and Ablebody | Brighton Music Hall, Boston | 24 May

The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart, Fear Of Men and The Able Body | Brighton Music Hall, Boston | 24 May

Pop fiends, here's your warning: UK-based dream-pop trio Fear Of Men slide into town tomorrow night and bring along an arresting, aqueous sound that has found favor with folks at Clicky Clicky HQ. The jangly and light Brighton, England combo forms the creamy middle of a formidable bill cookie-sandwiched by Brooklyn indie pop heroes The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart and Ablebody, the primary musical vehicle of The Pains' on again/off sideman Christoph Hochheim.

Fear Of Men, touring their expansive and freshly released Kanine Records debut LP Loom (by our reckoning 2013's Early Fragments compilation doesn't qualify as such), provide companionship to The Pains on the second leg of the Brooklyn act's North American trek ahead of the May 13 release of Days Of Abandon, its forthcoming third LP. Fear Of Men formed in 2011 and garnered raves early on with a smattering of demos and 7" singles released on a variety of UK labels including Clicky Clicky faves Italian Beach Babes and Too Pure. The aforementioned Early Fragments collected much of this early work, and was Fear Of Men's first release on Kanine. For its part, The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart are touring with a revamped lineup, with only earnest frontman Kip Berman remaining from among the personnel that recorded 2011's life-affirming LP Belong for the very highly esteemed Slumberland label. Word in the digital underground [oh how I like to funk thee -- Ed.] is that Days Of Abandon marks a sea change for the band, so tomorrow's show presents your chance to gain an advance look at The Pains Mach II.

From Boston, the three acts head westwards and back; they wrap the tour in a few weeks at New York's delightful Bowery Ballroom, and the full remaining tour itinerary is posted at the foot of this piece. Details of Thursday's Brighton Music Hall show can be inspected right here, and Fear Of Men's Loom can be purchased directly from the band right here (a two-color vinyl version was on offer from Kanine for Record Store Day, so if you are lucky/particularly motivated you may be able to track one down). A single from Loom titled "Luna," was issued April 7 by another Clicky Clicky favorite label, Art Is Hard, and we've posted an embed of the tune below for your listening pleasure. If you've got the scratch to purchase the single as an import, it is pressed to a 5" flexi-disc (!) and packaged with a 20-page 'zine and, well, that's awesome -- buy it here. Below that stream is another for the tune "Alta/Waterfall," whose mesmerizing hooks and beautiful vocals make the song among the most fetching of the year to date. Kanine Records released Loom yesterday. Below the Fear cuts is the absolutely snappy and '80s-tastic recent single from The Pains, "Simple And Sure;" a slightly darker second single "Eurydice" was released to the wilds of the Internerds more recently, but we're not posting it as the Soundcloud stream seems borked. Finally, we also present for your edification Ablebody's eery and sparkling forthcoming A-side "After Hours," which will be released May 20. -- Dillon Riley

04.24 -- Brighton Music Hall -- Allston, MA
04.25 -- Le Belmont -- Montreal, PQ
04.26 -- Horseshoe Tavern -- Toronto, ON
04.28 -- Empty Bottle -- Chicago, IL
04.29 -- Triple Rock -- Minneapolis, MN
05.02 -- Fortune Sound Club -- Vancouver, BC
05.03 -- The Vera Project -- Seattle, WA
05.04 -- Holocene -- Portland, OR
05.06 -- The Independent -- San Francisco, CA
05.07 -- Troubadour -- Los Angeles, CA
05.09 -- The Casbah -- San Diego, CA
05.10 -- The Crescent Ballroom -- Phoenix, AZ
05.11 -- Sister -- Albuquerque, NM
05.13 -- Larimer Lounge -- Denver, CO
05.15 -- The Record Bar -- Kansas City, MO
05.16 -- Zanzabar -- Louisville, KY
05.17 -- Rumba Café -- Columbus, OH
05.18 -- Club Café -- Pittsburgh, PA
05.19 -- Johnny Brenda's -- Philadelphia, PA
05.21 -- Rock 'n' Roll Hotel -- Washington, DC
05.22 -- Bowery Ballroom -- New York, NY

April 22, 2014

Mean Creek Local Losers Release Show With Pile, Ovlov, Heliotropes, The Young Leaves | Middle East | 25 April

Mean Creek Local Losers Release Show With Pile, Ovlov, Heliotropes, The Young Leaves | Middle East Down | 25 April

We admit that we've always been a bit uneasy about the unabashed sincerity of local indie rock luminaries Mean Creek's music. It's really our own hang-up, and one not worth dwelling on here, and the eight-year-old act's hook-heavy new set Local Losers -- a collection of scruffy tunes whose swell and sweep subsumes years of FM ministrations of Bruce Springsteen, The Monkees and The 'Mats -- provides all the incentive anyone should need to enlist in the Creek Army. Local Losers arrives and departs with the economy of a major carrier's passenger jet, touching down with the fist-pumping, feedback-spangled howler "Cool Town," catching a smoke in the pilot's lounge along with "My Madeline" (whose woozy, bending guitar leads and invigorating harmonies make the tune an album highlight), flipping through magazines over a jumbo vodka tonic while some guy shouts in your ear about the Massachusetts border, and then going wheels up again with the dreamy, yearning closer "Teenage Feeling." That final tune finds fronter Chris Keene sounding particularly vulnerable, maybe even a little scared that the FAA might breech the cockpit and ask him to blow a breathalyzer. The album proceedings are thrillingly brisk (no song goes past the crucial three-minute mark, a calculus once tied to analog jukeboxes and full-flavor cigarettes, a metric that would seem to have outlasted both), richly melodic and persistently rewarding, and the cats over at Old Flame, who released Local Losers April 8, are likely feeling pretty smart right now. Mean Creek's set was issued in a limited edition of 300 LPs pressed to 45RPM 12" flat circles of vinyl [get it], as well as CD [boink] and digital download.

Oh, right, that flyer up there... yeah, Mean Creek is having this totally epic release show Friday night in Cambridge, with a ridiculously stacked bill the very sight of which should induce queasiness and/or hyperventilation. When was the last time you saw heavyweights Pile, Ovlov and The Young Leaves all on one bill? We're looking forward to hearing new music from the lot of them, and particularly The Young Leaves, whose 2010 LP Life Underneath -- now available as a free download -- has recently gone back into heavy rotation at Clicky Clicky HQ. And Heliotropes, too? The Brooklyn-based fuzz docents are the wild card act for us, as we have no more than a passing familiarity with them, but, we mean, seriously: just look at that bill. Just look at it. Here's the Facebook event page -- how about we leave you with some streams and we circle back up Friday night at the Middle East? It's the right thing to do and the tasty way to do it.

April 21, 2014

Five: Projekt A-ko's Yoyodyne

There has been a 57:32-sized gap in the 21st century Internet for years, and it has been a source of regular disappointment, not being able to easily recommend to the attention of friends one of our very favorite records, Glaswegian noise-pop act Projekt A-ko's titanic 2009 full-length Yoyodyne. The album was released five years ago yesterday, and while we have very happy personal associations that go along with the record, Yoyodyne is remarkable for a number of reasons any indie rock fan can grasp: amazing hooks, massive guitars, visionary songcraft, engaging dynamics and mind-boggling lyrics. We named it our second-favorite record of 2009 here, and band fronter Fergus Lawrie kindly wrote a track-by-track guide to the record for Clicky Clicky readers here back in the day.

While the album has a purposely glacial opening fade-in that may stymy impatient listeners (an homage to bygone Boston chimp rock heroes Drop Nineteens and the title track to that band's watermark 1990 LP Delaware), Yoyodyne presents an embarrassment of hits, all in a row, straight across the record. Commencing with the alternately skittering, dreamy and thunderous "Hey Palooka!" and closing with the uncharacteristically spare, powerfully poignant and horribly resigned ballad "Don't Listen To This Song," it's impossible for us to pick favorite tracks from the album. But we've certainly got favorite moments, moments we carry around with us every day. There's the break-down at the beginning of the second verse of "Palooka!," when Mr. Lawrie sings "and all the stars are out, they kiss you on the mouth, they kiss you on the...." There's the repeated observation "every day you fail" in "Nothing Works Twice;" the barreling beginning of "Supertriste Duxelle;" and the repeated exclamation "Dear God" in "Here Comes New Challenger!" (the second of two songs on the album whose title contains an exclamation point, from an album on which every song title could just be piles of exclamation points). The album does not let up.

Maybe you've noticed: we unreservedly love Yoyodyne. Sure, it reminds us of spring, it makes us think of the birth of our daughter, but most important of all it is fucking awesome. So awesome, in fact, that we asked Lawrie personally if we could post the record to YouTube for a while so people could have a listen and then buy it. It's excellent, and people need to hear it, and we are thrilled to have received his consent in time to post the record for this anniversary. While a follow-up was mentioned as soon as Yoyodyne was released, and in the intervening years has apparently been started and stopped numerous times and as recently as two years ago, and there is a fairly active rumor mill regarding new music from the trio, there has not yet been any formal successive release from Projekt A-ko. Mr. Lawrie's interests have led him deep into both documentary work and Glasgow's improvised noise scene, and besides a thrilling cover of Drop Nineteens' "Winona" that was emailed to certain fans years ago, the wait for new music from the act has been, well, a wait. But we'll always have Yoyodyne, and we continue to be hopeful that we have not yet heard the last from Projekt A-ko.

Buy Yoyodyne here.

Projekt A-ko: Facebook | Last.FM | MySpace

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April 19, 2014

Review: Playlounge | Pilot

We devote an inordinate amount of time to thinking about sound, the intentions behind deliberately expressed noise, the emotions achieved with aggressively cacaphonous indie rock. One unsurprising conclusion that we return to again and again is that often less is more. This determination is vital to approaching Pilot, the full length debut from London fuzz-rock pair Playlounge, a record that exhibits the great lengths an act can go with only four arms. Much like the best tunes on Blame Confusion, the recently released debut from sonic kinsmen Solids, on its long-player Playlounge achieve a cavernous boom-bap with little more than a few guitar overdubs, sizzling, cymbal-centric drumming, palpable, in-the-red distortion and tastefully applied reverbs. Importantly, Playlounge's blunt attack and appealing songcraft distinguish Pilot from even Solids' undeniable LP and similarly superlative contemporary guitar-pop.

Rather than trot out lively indie rock signifiers under a thick haze, or charm its way via shambolic song structuring, Pilot comes out guns ablaze, barely able to keep up with its own breakneck pace. Few records this year will sound as good blaring from a pair of external speakers in an otherwise empty bedroom/air guitar rehearsal space -- trust us, we would know. The biggest hooks come early and often, with guitarist Laurie Foster typically concocting even more melodies with his six-string than drummer Saam Watkins does with his often buried vocals. Album opener "I Am Lion" and infinitely spun preview track "Zero" -- which teases with chords that hint at Yo La Tengo's towering pop classic "Sugarcube," and hey look rad vid -- in particular pack plenty of ideas into mini-epic song suites.

The context of the rising success of their pals, Topshelf signatories Nai Harvest, draws the significance of regularly thrilling Pilot into sharper focus. That, along with the breakout success of noise-pop greats Joanna Gruesome, may lead neophytes to declare there's a bona fide movement going down across the pond -- although Clicky Clicky readers have seen regular coverage of these sorts of sounds from deep inside the fertile UK scene for something like eight years at this point. Indeed, heady, noisy, emo-gaze recordings have been crossing the Atlantic for years, and we don't expect that to abate any time soon. But Playlounge's maximal minimalist sound is very now. As of now, that act has no announced plans to tour America, but we hope that that will change soon; the duo has a half-dozen engagements pending in the UK and will announce additional late May dates soon. For now, pick up a copy of the Pilot on pink-with-glitter or pink-blue smeared vinyl via Dog Knight Productions right here. The record was available with an alternative cover in the UK today for Record Store Day, but those are now long gone. Stream "Zero" and "Wave And Waves And Waves" via the Soundcloud embeds below. -- Dillon Riley

Playlounge: Internerds | Bandcamp | Facebook | Soundcloud | Twitter

April 17, 2014

Regolith A2E1: Sean Tracy Is A Songwriter

Regolith A2E1: Sean Tracy Is A Songwriter

He rumbles the thunderstick for Boston anxiety-pop phenoms Chandeliers, he blasts the bottom end for Boston-and-New Hampshire-based shoegaze goliaths Bedroom Eyes, he does a bunch of other stuff, too. And now Sean Tracy is doing Regolith, Clicky Clicky's still new-car-smelling, month-long songwriting challenge. Attentive readers will recall it was just last month that we unveiled the results of Regolith Series 1, which featured scene stalwart Reuben Bettsak, and which produced this pretty dynamite collection of music (some of which will be performed this Sunday). We are very excited to have Mr. Tracy as our next songwriter-in-his-own-residence for this tripartite series. He's a New Hampshire native that has been keeping it real in the greater Allston/Brighton for several years, and we've been a fan since way back in 2010, when we put Chandeliers on a very hot bill at Precinct in Somerville, MA. As we mentioned supra, Tracy is also now playing bass in another Clicky Clicky fave act, Bedroom Eyes, which just released a totally sick new track called "Wild Sins" that we've embedded below. Incidentally, both acts he now plays with contributed tracks to our 2012 RIDE tribute comp NOFUCKINGWHERE. We think membership in two of the city's best bands is reason enough to bamboozle a gal or guy into doing Regolith, don't you? Either way, Tracy graciously has taken up the gauntlet and recently began work in earnest. We'll be sure to keep you apprised, as is the Regolith way, but before we go too much further, let's get acquainted. -- L. Tiburon Pacifico
CC: What is happening with your various projects right now?

ST: Chandeliers is coming out with a full length LP this year. It's 12 tracks we recorded in January, that were written over the last two years or so. I'm really excited about it, and can't wait to put it out. We're doing a 2-day trip [this] week, out to Connecticut and Philadelphia, two places we have never played before, and planning a longer tour once we have records to sell.

Bedroom Eyes just released a single for a compilation and, besides that, we're finishing up some material that was tracked before I joined the band. That should be out soon. Besides that, we're writing new songs for an EP that we'll hopefully record later this year.

 I played in/play in a band called Dye (briefly, emphasis on briefly, called Kardashians). It's now mostly a recording project consisting of me and my friend Sam. We played two shows before he moved to the west coast and we have yet to release anything, but have 6-7 recorded songs that I really hope we will release this year. We practice as much as we can given the distance, maybe 2-3 times a year.

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

ST: I play guitar (7 years), bass (5 years), and I can play drums a little. I have a kit, but don't really (never) play it. I can also "play" keyboard, if pressing keys and hoping they make pretty sounds counts as playing... [it does. -- Ed.]

CC: How long have you been writing music?

ST: I guess ever since I got my first guitar. I always tried to write my own parts, really simple ones at first, even though I couldn't really translate the ideas into actual playing. I actually sort of learned how to write songs by recording my own stuff with Garageband when I was around 19 or 20, and that's when I started messing with multi-tracking, learning how to mix audio, junk like that. And then after being in a band that worked on songs together, and seeing how that process went, I kind of eventually started working on more complex parts and full songs of my own.

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

ST: Very, very many. I guess the biggest influences are my favorite bands, mostly jangly guitar bands from the '80s, and c86 bands: McCarthy, The Bodines, The Smiths, The Jesus & Mary Chain, My Bloody Valentine, '90s Slumberland stuff, especially Black Tambourine and Henry's Dress. Early Modest Mouse, '90s Kinsella-sphere emo, like Cap'n Jazz, American Football, Joan of Arc (that first album), The Promise Ring, and other stuff like Sunny Day Real Estate, Braid, early Fugazi, and older punk bands like Minor Threat, Bad Brains and The Wipers. For more contemporary stuff, Grouper, Deerhunter and Broadcast. Is this too many? [No. -- Ed.]

 I've also got a real place in my heart for old doo-wop stuff, like from the '50s and '60s. Not that I think that sound influences what I write, but I really admire how simple, in terms of structure and lyrics, that most of those songs are. But you can still tell there's real emotion that goes into it.

CC: How would you describe your songwriting (not recording) process. Are the songs 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?

ST: Well actually, I write quite a bit by recording. If I have one or two parts that go together, I'll record it and listen for how another part might work its way in there. Hearing something play back usually helps me decide what works and what doesn't, and where structural things and transitions should go. It feels a lot different playing a song vs. hearing it recorded. It's almost like how I "proofread" a song.

 Typically I'll have a few parts that will not really have a set order/duration, but almost always the part that comes to me first ends up being the chorus, and I kind of work the other parts around that.

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?

ST: Most of the songs that I write, I write by myself, so this is actually somewhat normal for me.

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

ST: My bedroom/apartment, and maybe some in my practice space.

CC: What are your goals/aspirations for this project?

ST: My goal is really to push myself outside of my comfort zone, and by that I mean, actually PRODUCE something. Since I was 19, I have started writing and recording literally dozens of songs, some finished, many more unfinished, but zero that I've formally released. It's partly an insecurity thing, but it's also an attention span/schedule thing: I have ADHD, I work full time, I play and practice in two bands, and I have a girlfriend. There's not a lot of time in between for me to focus on songwriting, and this is a really good excuse for that, and it's just a cool idea for a project, too.
What else can we tell you? Here's the Face book deets for that show Chandeliers are playing in Philly Saturday night: all of our Philadelpia pheoples should hit that. The threesome is back in Allston Rock City April 30 supporting this bill at O'Brien's toplined by Streight Angular. Enough of my yakkin', how about some songs?

Related Coverage:
Today's Hotness: Bedroom Eyes
Today's Hotness: Chandeliers
Review: Bedroom Eyes | What Are You Wrong With
Bedroom Eyes Record Release Show With Sneeze, Lube, Kal Marks And Big Mess
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Young Adults, BDRM Eyes, Chandeliers and The Living City | The Box Fort, Allston Rock City | Jan. 28
Today's Hotness: BDRM Eyes

April 16, 2014

Today's Hotness: White Laces, Fennesz, Hymnals

White Laces -- Skate Or Die (detail)

>> It's a bit of an understatement to say things have timed out pretty nicely for White Laces of late. Hot on the heels of finishing the recording of a sophomore LP with renowned Philadelphia producer Jeff Zeigler in December, the hotly tipped, Richmond-based futurepop four was selected to support The War On Drugs' current U.S. tour, which has its penultimate stop at Boston's Paradise Rock Club tomorrow. Reviews of the Laces' supporting slots have been solid, and we've heard reports that the guys have stayed healthy and sane (and, importantly, literally on the road, when that sort of thing counted). But for those not lucky enough to be on the tour rout, the most exciting thing of late coming out of the White Laces camp is the first taste of the forthcoming LP, Trance, a bombastic, kinetic and fluid groover called "Skate Or Die." The sounds are bigger, fronter Landis Wine's vocals more desperate, and one can literally hear the band expanding on its sonic proposition, becoming bigger and bolder, on the new tune. There are as yet no public plans for the release of Trance, but the looks and listens White Laces have been garnering on the current tour -- the band's first circumnavigation of the U.S. -- will likely prove invaluable when it comes to finding a home for the collection. So get to the Paradise early on Thursday, Boston -- you will be glad you did (at least for now, tickets remain available). Last we saw the act live, it was playing a third-floor living room in J.P. in 2011, so needless to say the band has already come very far; we expect the next year will bring more of the bigger and better. Press play on "Skate Or Die" via the embed below and get ready to rawk. We reviewed White Laces debut long-player Moves right here in August 2012.

>> A reader tipped us off to the presence on YouTube of a new Fennesz song titled "Liminality," which is a slowly spiraling delight of fuzzy electric guitar and icy electronic tones. The 10-minute meditation is the third to surface from the forthcoming, seven-song collection Bécs, which will be released by Editions Mego on LP, compact disc and as a digital download April 28; Pantsfork premiered the substantially more ominous "The Liar" here in February, and the escapist fantasy "Static Kings" here in March (although the author of the latter piece seemed unaware of the former). Bécs is Vienna-based Fennesz' first solo long-player in six years (although the song "Sav" is co-written by Cédric Stevens), and it is apparently intended as a follow-up to Fennesz' ground-breaking 2001 collection Endless Summer. "Liminality" certainly seems akin to the music from that tremendous earlier LP, in terms of tone and texture. Loosely gathered electric guitar notes cluster together into jangling, fuzzy chords, and then billow loosely in the composition's quieter moments, in much the same way Bill Frisell's guitar is at its most beautiful when it just serenely sustains. Those quieter moments eventually recede as Fennesz constructs a wall of melodic distortion that undulates and ripples like the surface of a warm pool of water. It's a mesmerizing piece, one that is distinctly Fennesz. Pre-order Bécs right here, and stream the stunner "Liminality" via the embed below, while it lasts.

>> So you're one half of rad indie rock duo Kindling, and your partner in crime is out of town for a week: what do you do? Make monolithic, fuzz-blasted rock music, that's what. Seven days to himself was enough of an opportunity for Stephen, the surnameless male component of the Western Mass.-based act Kindling, to dream up "When You're Away," which he has released here under the moniker Hymnals. It's unclear how active this project will actually be, dependent as it would seem to be on Gretchen Kindling's travel schedule. The duo certainly has kept busy since we first wrote about the band right here last month. Although progress on the pair's ever-expanding demos set Spare Room would seem to have stalled, in fact the apparent inactivity is the result of the fact that Kindling has a four-song 7" in the offing, according to this Facebook status. They are still finishing up vocals, so there's no telling when we might hear this 7", so it's nice to have a new little sumpin' sumpin' from Hymnals to tide us over. Stream the blunt, concise swirl "When You're Away" via the embed below.

April 13, 2014

Review: Benjamin Shaw | Goodbye, Cagoule World

It's a long rain jacket, is what a cagoule is, to answer what is likely the first question any American has about this record. The second question is probably something along the lines of "Benjamin who?" Even so, longtime Clicky Clicky readers will recall Benjamin Shaw's sublime 2011 set There's Always Hope, There's Always Cabernet [preview], and perhaps other of his releases. Mr. Shaw, simply put, is among the best London has to offer, a songwriter both morose and sly, a man whose ghoulish songs are stunning, detailed tableaus of rich absurdity, beautiful putrefaction and boundless despair. While it is not sonically as of-a-piece as the aforementioned Cabernet or the fantastic 2013 instrumental set Summer In The Box Room, Shaw's latest long-player Goodbye, Cagoule World is nonetheless a marvel, illustrating both the breadth and depth of the talents of this underlooked fun trick noisemaker.

The record features Shaw's characteristic, charmingly dour reportage on slow doom and slower decay, around which he has arranged into an immersive aural collage a surprising and rich array of exquisitely crafted sounds. There's the lonely vibrato guitar leads quietly hammering themselves in the head, and the demented and aimless saxophone, in "Always With The Drama." The mid-tempo, canned swing of "Break The Kettles And Sink The Boats" hints only slightly at the shuddering boxed rhythm that opens the instrumental "A Day In The Park." But as good as Shaw's instrumentions sound, it is his incisive and decimating lyrics that resonate most powerfully. After a protracted, spectral introduction, the album opener "No One" presents a vivid, indeterminate and potentially terrifying narrative with only a single lyric: "No one can love you like I do, 'cause you never, no you never, leave the flat." Is this a description of a quiet, prim relationship? The quiet taunt of captor to captive? Whatever is happening in the song, it has taken the last great single-lined song -- Built To Spill's towering (and apparently rarely performed) "You Are" from 2001's Ancient Melodies Of The Future -- and bent it tantalizingly toward Shaw's "Endgame"-esque aesthetic.

This is not to undersell Shaw's penetrating wit (we'll leave it to Audio Antihero to do the underselling -- OOOH BURN! -- Ed.). As beautiful and human as the aforementioned moments are, the easy lilt and sardonic lyrics of the booby-trapped "You And Me" make it the closest thing to a pop hit among the songs of Goodbye, Cagoule World -- while, of course and in true Shaw fashion, aiming to torpedo pop convention. Over a serene epilogue, a bed of wavering synth tones that recalls the bed of Hypo's microhouse anthem "Nice Day," Shaw bullet-points the makings of a lamestream lyric: "so here's a line about the system, and here's a line that's quite funny, and here's a pop culture reference, and a lazy refrain, like 'you and me.'" Shaw's distinctly smart and singular voice -- whipsmart and deeply affecting, and we're using "voice" in the figurative sense here -- puts him in the rarified company of non-hitmakers of the day including Krill's Jonah Furman or Los Campesinos!' Gareth Paisey.

Goodbye, Cagoule World will be released as a compact disc and digital download by the aforementioned, venerable mess of a label Audio Antihero April 21. The first 100 pre-orders of either format will also receive a Benjamin Shaw-endorsed stress ball, if they click the correct button on the Bandcamp page here. A stress ball seems rather ridiculous given the transcendent futility consistently portrayed in Shaw's music -- so wait, maybe it's perfect, actually. The release of Goodbye, Cagoule World will be feted at a show April 29 at Servant Jazz Quarters in London, but if you'd prefer not to wait as long as all that, Shaw will also appear Wednesday at London's Ivy House. For the time being, the entirety of Goodbye, Cagoule World can be stream right here at GoldFlake Paint. We've also embedded the title track and "You And Me" for your listening pleasure below.

Benjamin Shaw: Bandcamp | Facebook | Internerds | Soundcloud | Twonger

Previous Benjamin Shaw coverage:
Today's Hotness: Benjamin Shaw
Benjamin Shaw | There's Always Hope, There's Always Cabernet
Today's Hotness: Benjamin Shaw

April 9, 2014

Today's Hotness: Moonbell, What Moon Things, White Reaper

Moonbell -- Afterlives (detail)

>> San Francisco quartet Moonbell make faraway and trippy shoegaze with a very distinctive sound, one that makes the act's long-player Afterlives among the most singular dream-pop albums of 2014 to date. Its 11 songs carry copious reverb on nearly every instrument, and the unexpected wandering bass lines and schizophrenic patterns of this record add to its otherworldly nature. Opener "Never Seems" establishes a mood with loping snare work, and the drifting vocals and strings simultaneously disorient and engage. In an especially cool touch at 1:22, the tune transforms from electric to acoustic -- a solid example of the unexpected elements that Moonbell regularly employ. The title track, an album highlight, goes for a more monolithic approach, with punchy, slightly dissonant bass work reminding this reviewer of the colossal "Periscope" from Lilys' masterpiece In The Presence Of Nothing (which, as we wrote last month, may finally be getting the reissue it so dearly deserves). The vocals, while airy, bear the charmingly innocent and slightly out-of-tune feel of shoegaze greats like The Telescopes and early The Brian Jonestown Massacre -- a welcome revival of the style. Afterlives was released April 1 on the band's own Hypnogram imprint in a limited edition of 100 cassettes and as a digital download; purchase it right here. The entire set may be streamed via the embed below, and a new EP comprised of music recorded during the same sessions as Afterlives is slated for release this summer, according to this interview. Moonbell, which formed in 2010, previously released a digital single "The Golden Hour" and two EPs, Figurine and Parallel, all of which are available as free downloads via Moonbell's Bandcamp yert right here. The two EPs were packaged together for a CD release in 2012. But particularly based on the strength of its newest material, Moonbell's unusual blend of styles and sounds makes it a band to watch. Watch we will. -- Edward Charlton

>> The news was a long time coming, but New Paltz-based noise rockers What Moon Things revealed at last today that it has signed to the new imprint Hot Grits, which will release the trio's self-titled debut LP June 3. It's a record about the making of other records, a record populated by vampires (and which at one point was to have been titled The Vampire), populated by data lint scraped from and used to stuff the taxidermied remains of failed relationships. What Moon Things carries its own specific and murky atmosphere, marked by prickly but patient guitars, wide-hipped reverbs and fronter Jake Harms' existentially uneasy tenor. The eight-song set fluidly slides from moody groove to desperate thrash, making it not only just a little sexy, but also a gripping listen. The spooky preview track "The Astronaut" conveys via giant but spare drumming, percolating guitars and Mr. Harms' emotional, drawling vocals a deep isolation, an outsiderness whose introversion fuels an arresting gravity that draws listeners in. It's a promising single from among a strong set of songs. There is as yet no pre-order information available for What Moon Things, which will be on offer as a 12" flat vinyl disc, compact disc, and, we imagine, digital download. Despite a pretty gnarly injury to Harms' thumb recently, the band embarks on a short strand of tour dates tomorrow, including a stop at Boston's Great Scott next week. We've posted all the dates below, and below that you can stream and download "The Astronaut" via a Soundcloud embed. We first wrote about What Moon Things, "The Astronaut" and the swerving anti-anthem "Squirrel Girl" right here last July.

04/10 -- The Batcave -- Montclaire, NY
04/11 -- Suburbia -- Brooklyn, NY
04/12 -- Upstate Artists Guild -- Albany, NY
04/15 -- Great Scott -- Boston, MA
04/18 -- 158 Salon -- New Paltz, NY
04/19 -- Cameo Gallery -- Brooklyn, NY
04/25 -- Bard College -- Red Hook, NY
05/06 -- Oasis Cafe -- New Paltz, NY

>> Last time we wrote about garage punks White Reaper last August, the Louisville duo was prepping a full-length for a German label. It appears that plan never came to fruition, based on a scan of the label's web site, but there is new music from White Reaper -- now a trio -- in the offing, and on a label much closer to home. The venerable Polyvinyl revealed today that it will release in June a self-titled EP from the threesome. A blazing preview track from the EP, titled "Half Bad," bashes and pops with abandon, and touts a ridiculously keen, burbling organ lead whose space-age vibrato threatens to separate the tones from the speakers of your hi-fi, particularly during the rave-up of the cymbal-soaked final chorus. The six-song EP also features a version of the 2013 A-side "Conspirator," and is available for pre-order now as a 180-gram, clear pink 12" vinyl disc, CD, cassette or digital download. White Reaper will be released June 24; pre-orders will ship June 13, according to Polyvinyl. Stream the blaster "Half Bad" via the Soundcloud embed below.

April 6, 2014

Today's Hotness: Myrrias, Creepoid, Popstrangers


>> Philadelphia's Myrrias is a relatively new quartet which played its first shows late last year, but a short set of demos already has us very excited about the future of the futurepop act. The all-lady combo's "Focus," "Pattern" and "All Alone" were recorded by brilliant Philadelphia producer (and Arc In Round ringleader) Jeff Zeigler, and their fully realized, airy dream-pop suggest that the band has great respect for notable forebears like Lush and Cocteau Twins. A bit of Googleplexing indicates that the foursome is comprised of Philly scene veterans, including fronter Mikele Edwards, who also plays in the aforementioned Arc In Round, and drummer Casey Bell, one cog in the machine of guitar-pop upstarts Break It Up. Myrrias' terrific digital single "Focus" boasts icy and engaging guitar and synth, a galloping bass line, tom-centric drumming, and arrestingly layered vocals (as well as Mr. Zeigler's characteristically rich aural texture). April Harkanson's spiraling guitar work is immaculate, with layers of effects adding a palpable edge and electric excitement to lead guitar lines that seem to grow ever wider and wilder. The dual female vocals are a joy, and the close harmonies remind this reviewer that such an effect is all too rarely employed by today's indie rock bands -- a real shame. Myrrias state the song, and two others available to stream, will feature on an forthcoming full-length, which we are now very keen to hear, so hopefully momentum is in place to get more music in the proverbial pipeline. If this is the future of Philly indie rock, sign us up. Myrrias' next show is in Philly at Ortlieb's May 22nd. In the meantime, all three songs can all be streamed via the Bandcamp embed below. -- Edward Charlton

>> And more from Philly: from our lofty vantage point it appears as if the focus of any purported '90s revival (to the extent such a thing exists -- a discussion for another day -- and as opposed to the '80s Revival -- Ed.) of the last few years has shifted sub-genres: where contemporary acts once doggedly mined the noise-pop and shoegaze sounds of Sonic Youth and My Bloody Valentine and bands like them, downer grunge and sludge rock now seem to be coming into their own as sonic signifiers. "Wet Bread," from Philadelphia nu-gazers Creepoid, is among the latest songs to wow us, and would seem to have identified a cozy place in the middle. Hot on the heels of the band's self-titled sophomore set on No Idea records, this latest cut features on the forthcoming Wet 12" EP. The short set will be available for Record Store Day later this month via the mighty Graveface records. All four songs are programmed on the A-side, the flip features an etching, and the vinyl is hand-poured by Daniel Huffman of New Fumes. "Wet Bread" rolls out a deep, woozy guitar groove like so much thick pink fiberglass insulation, a sound turgid with distortion. Hooky, spoke-sung male vocals guide the verses and harken back to the slinky, reflective and narcotics-infused croon of, although we hesitate to say it, Kurt Cobain (you know, before he would start screaming during Nirvana's choruses). The EP exhibits remarkable diversity amongst its four tunes: "Blinding Halo," a piano-appointed, atmospheric composition, marshals a marching cadence, eerie guitar feedback, and sampled conversation that again reminds this reviewer of Mr. Cobain's wandering surfer drawl. Closer "Truth" highlights Anna Troxell's vocal, mixing it high as half of a smokey duet, amid bent guitar notes and the tune's generally gnarled glory. -Stream "Wet Bread" via the Soundcloud embed below, and get thee to a hip IRL record retailer April 19 to get your hands on the special one-sided 12" -- Edward Charlton

>> New Zealand noisy guitar-pop heroes Popstrangers are extending a very productive streak in the wake of its excellent 2013 album Antipodes (which we wrote about here and here) and a great 7". Last month the trio announced a new full-length, Fortuna, which will be released by Carpark Records May 27. A winning preview single from the set called "Country Kills" highlights a restless band drawing on a wider array of influences. The tune's choppy, two-chord riff and skittering drum cadence in the verse bash out a pleasing if awkward groove, one that is all the more engaging because of its curious posture. Especially pleasing are the slightly dissonant lower notes on the guitar, which counterbalance the higher tones establishing the groove and take a dynamic downward run at the end of each verse. Unsurprisingly for Popstrangers, the chorus touts a pretty-yet-aggressive, anthemic dimension that feels scaled for the arena. A brief bridge unexpectedly and momentarily steers the song into epic dream-pop; the unexpected, cascading and beautiful tumble suggests Fortuna may be the record that cements the Popstrangers as New Zealand's most vital and original contemporary pop artists. Pre-order the 10-song set from Carpark right here, and stream the completely dynamite "Country Kills" via the Soundcloud embed below. -- Edward Charlton

April 3, 2014

Today's Hotness: Faux Fur, Mahogany, Colleen

Faux Fur -- Faux Fur (detail)

>> Calgary guitar-pop quartet Faux Fur would seem to have been tailor-made for the reliable Brighton, England indie label Faux Discx -- and not just because of its name. Indeed, the foursome's off-center, post-punk aesthetic and skewed pop smarts make them a natural fit for the rock-solid label, and are in keeping with certain prior releases lauded by Clicky Clicky. Exhibit A is Faux Fur's scratchy gem "Rough Palms," which alternates choppy strumming and spiky arpeggiation in the foreground while a subdued vocal slouches in the middle of a bright, trebly mix. "Rough Palms" features on Faux Fur's self-titled long-player, which was self-released last year via Bandcamp, where it is still streaming in full. That aforementioned brightness doesn't carry through the entire record, however: instead, much of Faux Fur exists in a pleasantly murky, semi-dream state. Faux Discx will re-release the collection April 28 in a limited edition of 100 grey cassettes and as a digital download. The cassette appears to carry different art than the self-release, but we assume it is otherwise the same delightful 10 songs, songs that crackle with nervous energy, songs that bewitch by holding back just enough to make the crescendo of "Stoop" jarring, and the uptempo rocker "I Saw You Standing" rocking. Faux Fur is a striking little collection; order it from Faux Discx right here, and stream both "Rough Palms" and "I Saw You Standing" via the embeds below.

>> While the details are so slim as to almost not qualify for a reference in the plural, visionary dream-pop collective Mahogany disclosed this week it will release an EP titled Electric Prisms next month. The (presumably) short set of music will be released May 27, the final night of the act's month-long Tuesday night DJ residency at a hotel in Manhattan. On that final night only, Mahogany will perform live, while shoegazer Tamaryn and a member of Fleet Foxes will execute DJ sets. Mahogany will have a limited number of (again presumably) physical copies of Electric Prisms on hand; pre-orders for a vinyl edition and release via other unspecified formats (wax cylinder? Dataplay?) will begin on or around May 25. We last heard from Mahogany a year ago, when the act (once an octet, now a duo comprised by Andrew Prinz and Jaclyn Slimm) issued the transcendent eight-minute single "Phase Break," which understandably drew raves from our own Edward Charlton right here. Revisit "Phase Break" via the embed below, while we keep our ears to the ground for more details.

>> Electro-acoustic luminary Colleen disclosed to her email list this week that she has begun recording the follow up to last year's magical The Weighing Of The Heart [review]; this in and of itself might not be news save for the fact that there was a six-year gap between The Weighing Of The Heart and her previous collection, 2007's Les Ondes Silencieuses. The planned new record will not only come relatively hot on the heels of the 2013 set, but it will also be the fifth released by Colleen, a/k/a the French-born but now Spain-based Cecille Schott. Ms. Schott hopes the new music will be released in late 2014 or early 2015. And while we don't want to jinx anything, the new album will almost certainly be easier for Schott to make. When she was recording The Weighing Of The Heart, she had to work just a couple hours at a time and late, late at night because her studio was not insulated from the noise of the surrounding streets. However, recently the studio, which Schott has dubbed The White Ark in homage to Lee Scratch Perry, has been (not quite completely) soundproofed, meaning Schott can theoretically choose to work at any hour. What will the new music sound like? We have no idea. The Weighing Of The Heart was notable for its more pronounced rhythms and the incorporation, for the first time, of Schott's serene and light vocals into her songs. Presumably the 2013 record will be a jumping-off point for the new music, but Scott's restless exploration of her muse means no possibility can be ruled out; stream all of The Weighing Of The Heart via the YouTube embed below.

April 1, 2014

Today's Hotness: Soccer Mom, Screaming Maldini, Routine Involvements

Soccer Mom -- Soccer Mom (detail)

>> Based on the math and the recurrent wringing of hands/gnashing of teeth about Facebook page views, roughly 95% of Clicky Clicky Facebook page readers missed our trumpeting there of last week's long-awaited announcement about the pending release of Soccer Mom's full-length debut. Which is quite a long sentence. But, indeed, this is finally, finally happening. The Boston shoegaze giants' titanic first long player is a self-titled, nine-song collection that will be released by 100m Records May 1 as an LP, CD and digital download. As for the music, Soccer Mom presents an impressively realized set of songs, songs that balance delicately the dueling guitars of co-fronters Dan Parlin and William Scales. Texture is a concept the band has championed for years, but the real stars of the new set are the finer melodies, and the distinct (but not stifling) framing these recordings provide (as opposed to the volatile maelstrom of the band's live performances). We don't want to say more than that, as we'll have a complete review of the full record in a few weeks. But it is coming, with all of its bad magic and transformative loss. Ardent fans will note that some of the new songs are already in the wild, with early versions of "No One Left" and "Hideaway Sands" appearing here at Foundwaves last summer, and today here, where "Sundown Syndrome" and "Orejas" were debuted by Allston Pudding. Soccer Mom's catalog to date also includes a vinyl single, the colossal 10" You Are Not Going To Heaven, and last year's desperate and desolate digital single "Brides" b/w "A Canoe Shy." There is as of yet no pre-order information for Soccer Mom, but we've seen evidence that physical copies of the record exist, so all in due time, my pretties... The record will be feted May 3 at Great Scott with a release show featuring the staggering slate of support acts Bedroom Eyes, Infinity Girl and Palehound. For now, how about taking a listen to The Mom's brilliant cover of Lilys' "Ginger," from last year's Clicky Clicky comp? It does a body good.

>> Sheffield, England-based indie pop geniuses Screaming Maldini have loosed to the wilds of the Interzizzles the third in its mysterious and apparently monthly series of free downloads, an effort now dubbed #monthlymaldiniXII. The latest track is the anxious, dreamy ballad "Abyssinia," in which singer Gina Maldini passionately entreats, fiercely fends off desperation. The tune is dark and dynamic, raising itself up from plodding piano chords onto the back of thumping percussion and gang vocals in the chorus. "Abyssinia" carries the sextet's characteristically deft arrangements and sophisticated harmonies, and draws on its familiar horns and key changes, but the compositional skill, a Maldini hallmark, makes the song feel newer and fresher, even among the act's impressive repertoire. Not only did Gina perform the lead vocal of the track, she also wrote and directed the video for the accompanying clip, which you can watch right here. Last month the sextet issued "Bearings," the second tune of #monthlymaldiniXII, which can still be heard right here. This month finds Screaming Maldini heading to Japan for the first time, to support the recent release into that market of the band's stirring self-titled full-length (which we reviewed here a year ago). Two tunes from Screaming Maldini charted in the Tokyo Hot 100, a very respectable achievement for the Sheffield six. We're holding out hope that at the end of the 12-month exercise that is #monthlymaldiniXII there is a physical release of some sort. Call us old-fashioned. And after you're done doing that, listen to "Abyssinia" via the Soundcloud embed below.

>> Is upstate New York having a moment? It's probably always having a moment, right? But, anyway, obv. now-act Perfect Pussy hails from Syracuse, noise-rock upstarts What Moon Things are poised to make a statement and break out of verdant New Paltz later this year, and now comes Routine Involvements, an act that cultivates hooky, crunchy guitar pop from its base of operations in Rochester. Let us consult a map: oh yes, there it is, physically even further west than Syracuse. But sonically -- at least based on the new song "Faux Affections" -- Routine Involvements are considerably more west. That is, if you want to go ahead and compare the four-year-old act (which was formerly known as Stereophone) -- as many likely will -- to Weezer circa the first two albums. The Rochester trio's latest effort is the Future Days EP, which will be released on cassette later this month by Dadstache Records. The six-song set includes the aforementioned "Faux Affections," which follows its chugging bass line and palm-muted guitars through several logical steps, none of which shock, but all of which add up to a bracing bit of scruffy pop. Choruses are big, alluring feedback pools across the floor of the second verse, calm if tense vocals explode along with the guitars in the final thirty seconds. It's a great song, and we're eager to hear more of them from this rock combo. At present there is no information about ordering Future Days at the Dadstache online storefront, but if you keep your eye on that there link we expect it is just a matter of time. For now, stream "Faux Affections" below.