June 30, 2014

Today's Hotness: You're Jovian, My Psychoanalyst

You're Jovian -- Whalehead

>> It's been quite some time since we've heard new things from Virginia Beach-based dream-pop savant Elliot Malvas, who creates sublime music under the moniker You're Jovian. And so we were quite excited to receive an email last week with information about the new tune "Whalehead," which we are premiering here tonight and which you can stream via the Soundcloud embed below. The song is layered with guitars that shimmer and bend around Mr. Malvas' gentle vocals. Once "Whalehead" finds its rhythmic footing, after about a minute of atmospheric build-up, its measured strumming and understated singing call to mind the finest moments in the Swirlies catalog, or -- given its insistent rhythm -- perhaps even a heavily psychedelic take on the music of Versus. "Whalehead" turns on the tension between Malvas' opaque, tight strums and his spectral voocals; it's certainly a very listenable number and hopefully it is also a harbinger of increased activity from You're Jovian. Malvas tells us he will be out performing solo gigs this summer, but this will not be a guy-with-guitar thing. Instead, Malvas has recorded the bass and guitar parts of the songs in his set in single takes, and he plays those back on stage through bass and guitar amps respectively while playing the drums live and singing. Which sounds pretty damn compelling. If you can't get enough of that You're Jovian stuff, Fun/Not Fun records released this past spring a cassette and digital download imaginatively titled Demos. It appears the cassette was issued in an edition of 25 pieces, but there is nothing at the Fun/Not Fun page indicating the cassette is sold out, so perhaps you can still snag one right here (where you can also stream the fine tune "Share Yer Moon" via an embed). There is some talk of an east coast tour this fall for You're Jovian, so if you are good little girls and boys Malvas may come right to your town (especially if you book him, hint, hint). We previously wrote about the band in mid-2012 right here.

>> There's a span of years in one's life during which summer feels infinite. That feeling, of course, ceases, and that's among the bummers of real life (trust us, kids, one day you'll be old like your trusty executive editor...). But a new full-length from Derby, England's cinematic dream-gazers My Psychoanalyst practically bursts with that feeling. Which is somewhat amazing, as the sort of fertile optimism its presence here implies is something one would associate with a greener band. But My Psych, as fans are wont to call them, are a seasoned quartet a decade old. Its sparkling new and self-released collection Choreomania has been in the can for at least a year, and previously went by the decidedly un-optimistic name Don't Try (and, since you didn't ask, an equally appropriate yet Pavement-referencing title would be Watery, Majestic). Choreomania, seemingly so named for literal dance crazes that transpired in the middle ages, can be gentle ("So Much Stuff," which touts heavenly "ahhhhhhhs" and is like the second coming... of Chapterhouse), majestic ("Lobadibin," which faintly echoes The Fixx's classic "Stand Or Fall") and even aggressive ("Fist Of Herring IV"). Often it is all of these things at once, as is "Clump Soul," which was issued as a digital single a year ago. My Psychoanalyst's Choreomania takes a marked turn toward harder-edged sounds in its final third. This doesn't make the set disjointed, however; instead, it gives the proceedings a narrative feel, like it is heading toward something. Listeners, however, are never quite delivered to a final destination, as closer "Admission" stretches into the aforementioned infinity for a solid and beautiful eight minutes, perhaps returning listeners to the dream-state or fugue-state that enveloped My Psych in the four years between last year's digital single and 2009's Piecemeal & Envy. Whatever it does, "Admission" has become one of our favorite tracks of the year. Choreomania was released today and it is a tremendous record; calling it a return to form misses the mark, as we're fairly certain it is the band's best record to date. Stream the entire full-length via the embed below, and click through to download the release, which is priced at paywhutchyalike. We last wrote about My Psychoanalyst seven years ago, right here.

June 28, 2014

Introducing Clicky Clicky Live / Here's Episode 1 Featuring Dikembe's Steven Gray

This is our 2,000th blog post... thank you, thank you... no, really, you're too kind. Anyway, we had really hoped to have something special lined up for post number 2000, but we didn't have high hopes. But then it just so happened that this inaugural edition of Clicky Clicky Live slid right into place. And there was much rejoicing. We're extremely excited about this feature, in which the Clicky Clicky brain trust will interview the hitmakers of the day about what's happening right now out there in indie rock. The cool thing is that the interviews happen live on the Internet, and if you catch the link in time, you can see us work our magic without a net, as it were. And then the interviews are archived, and we post them right here. Cool, right? Staff Writer Dillon Riley was our first man with the baton, and he had a virtual sit-down yesterday afternoon with Dikembe fronter Steven Gray. Clicky Clicky holds the indie punk heroes near and dear based on their terrific debut EP Chicago Bowls and powerful first full-length, Broad Shoulders; that record's "Not Today, Angel" was one of our favorite songs of 2012. Dikembe is slated to release later this summer a sophomore set titled Mediumship via Tiny Engines, which we think will make a lot of waves given the underground's warm embrace of emo records of late.

Mr. Gray told Dillon yesterday the band is particularly excited about the new collection because it was envisioned and created as a whole; whereas Gray feels Broad Shoulders sounds like a bunch of songs just slapped together, he states the new set isn't something that listeners will really want to skip around in. Mediumship has got a beginning, middle and end, and hearing Gray talk about it made us that much more excited about it. Two songs are already in the wild, the mid-tempo rager "Gets Harder," and the prettier and more pensive "Hood Rat Messiah," and both can be streamed via embeds below. But first, turn your attention to our interview above. Gray also talks about trying to keep his rocker secret identity on the downlow in the workplace, obstacles and bonuses when it comes to touring, and the general vibe of the major annual Gainesville punk festival The Fest. Clicky Clicky is super grateful to Steven and Tiny Engines for assenting to the interview. Dikembe plays Boston's Great Scott July 20 with Weatherbox and New City Ghost, which is right around the corner, so you'd best get yourself ticketed. And while you're in a mood to part with your dollars, pre-order Mediumship right here. Just last month Dikembe released via Tiny Engines a split with The Jazz June, and that is certainly something you'll want to check out, too. Dig it. And keep your eyes open for more Clicky Clicky Live segments very soon.

Dikembe: Bandcamp | Facebook

Previous Dikembe Coverage:
Today's Hotness: Dikembe
Clicky Clicky's Top Songs Of 2012: Jay Edition
Review: Dikembe | Broad Shoulders

June 25, 2014

YouTube Rodeo: Ovlov's "The Great Crocodile" Live At Little Elephant

[UPDATED: They un-broke up. Go back to whatever it was that you were doing.] In retrospect it seems a bit corny, but we read this book by Richard Bach as a tween that made a big impression on us at the time called "Jonathan Livingston Seagull." What we recall is that each time the eponymous protagonist achieved some sort of perfection in terms of his chosen avocation (flight), he was elevated or reincarnated to chase more profound ideals. We here at Clicky Clicky prefer to think that is what is happening to Ovlov, the Connecticut indie rock institution that called it quits today. Never forget.

Ovlov's "The Great Crocodile" is part of a split single with Little Big League due later this summer on Tiny Engines. Pre-order the single here.

June 24, 2014

Today's Hotness: Johnny Foreigner, Fashoda Crisis

Johnny Foreigner -- Always The Barmaid Never The Bar (detail/transform)

>> A new release from Clicky Clicky top-faves Johnny Foreigner turns any day into Christmas, and when the release is dropped on us as a total surprise, well, it is that much more enjoyable. So imagine the glee we felt Monday morning heading back to work/drudgery after a delightful holiday at the beach when an email from Bandcamp announced the arrival of AlwaysTheBarmaidNeverTheBar -- Live Recordings 2013-14, a new live album from the Birmingham, England-based noise-pop titans. The title of the 19-song set is self-explanatory: the collection indeed does contain live recordings captured during the last 18 months, a period of time during which Johnny Foreigner gestated and released its triumphant fourth LP You Can Do Better [review/postscript]. AlwaysTheBarmaidNeverTheBar features recordings of a number of tracks from that LP and its precedent, the 2012 Names EP, but if anything the collection is remarkable because of how well it covers the quartet's 10-year career. Sure, there's nothing from the band's "lost" first full-length WeLeftYouSleepingAndGoneNow, but there is a cracking version of the early, early tune "Candles," which was part of the Every Day Is A Constant Battle compilation that was, along with the rest of the band's rarities, gussied and put on Bandcamp back in 2010. The legendary "The Coast Was Always Clear" is included, as are cracking versions of older singles "Dark Harbourz," "With Who, Who, And What I've Got" and "Eyes Wide Terrified." Perhaps even more exciting than the breadth and depth of AlwaysTheBarmaidNeverTheBar are the blazing and tight performances. The pulsing live version of the terrifically affecting "Riff Glitchard" may in fact be definitive, and the dynamic and seemingly effortlessly great iteration of "To The Death," fronter Alexei Berrow's chronicling of living in the wake of a friend's suicide, is also a marvel. The band's personality shines in smatterings of hilarious stage banter. And the whole damn set is available as a pay-what-you-like download, which is totally amaze considering the quality and quantity here. That said, Johnny Foreigner do have something new for sale, in the form of a new You Can Do Better T-shirt, the purchase of which also entitles the buyer to a download of the new, four-song Candyland session, which was recorded live in the band's studio in Birmingham. Details on the shirt/session deal are right here; listen to all of AlwaysTheBarmaidNeverTheBar -- Live Recordings 2013-14 via the Bandcamp embed below and click through to give the band some money for it. Our highest recommendation.

>> Early this month we had an editorial powwow with Mr. Charlton about the then-new Hard Left single and the discussion turned to our increasing disappointment with the lack of political engagement in contemporary indie rock. During the exchange we grasped for examples of bands doing such work these days (in addition to Hard Left, of course, which has since announced a second, equally potent single). We did come up with a couple of course, but for some reason we didn't recollect at the time one of the strongest exemplars: the mighty Southend-on-Sea, England-based agit-punk concern Fashoda Crisis. The trio Monday released its third long-player, a brawling yet sophisticated 11-song set of filth and fury titled Almost Everyone is Entirely Average at Almost Everything. We recall an article in the Philadelphia Inquirer about the surprising popularity of Jane's Addiction (this was around the time of the release of Nothing's Shocking), and that the article included a fan quote dubbing Jane's "thinking man's metal" or some (gender-insensitive) such. Well, Fashoda Crisis certainly qualifies as "thinking man's punk." Its thrilling collection commences with the incisive line "amnesiac electorate you have relapsed and left us with a system that worships television politicians," and proceeds from there scooping out satire, manifesto and social criticism to any takers. Fronter Sim Ralph characteristically berates the objects of his white-hot ire in a vitriolic voice not unlike that of Black Francis at the Pixies-man's most unhinged. Mr. Ralph is no slouch when it comes to "unhinged," either: Fashoda Crisis' "Everything: The Musical," a highlight of the new album, features the comically bizarre, syncopated lyric "don't question my version of events, I'm wearing pajamas." Underpinning the anger and weirdness of Almost Everyone is Entirely Average at Almost Everything are tight, dynamic performances and intelligent songwriting. It makes the set indelibly refreshing, not only because it dares to rouse some rabble, but because it is so well-executed and well-conceived. Almost Everyone is Entirely Average at Almost Everything was released digitally by Fashoda Crisis Monday, and will be issued on vinyl later this year; fans who purchase the digital download receive a £7 discount on the LP when it is ready to ship. The set is on offer now in various bundles via Bandcamp, with added inducements coming in the form of t-shirts and posters and badges for the discerning punk fan. Fashoda Crisis are slated to perform July 5 at The Ace Hotel in Shoreditch, London, and Aug. 28 at Gwidhw, Cardiff, for those of you reading these words from the opposite side of the Atlantic. In the meantime, soothe your savage breast with the sounds of Almost Everyone is Entirely Average at Almost Everything via the embed below. We last wrote about Fashoda Crisis here in late 2012.

June 21, 2014

Today's Hotness: Alex G, Basement, Camera Shy

Alex G -- DSU (detail/transform)

>> Philadelphia's Alex Giannascoli is a young man at a threshold. That he is a young man is not entirely why people are interested in him, although his growing profile as a purveyor of fine lo-fi indie pop is informed by a certain ordinariness, which we don't use pejoratively in the least. He's the boy-in-the-dorm-room-next-door, in a sense. The earnest, enigmatic wunderkind known to music fans as Alex G has seen his low-key pop project go from cult fave to, well, an even bigger cult fave in what feels like a matter of months. The recent release of his first-ever vinyl full-length, the wistful, mysterious DSU, has precipitated a gradual unveiling of the soft-spoken musician. Not unlike Frankie Cosmos' Greta Kline, Mr. Giannascoli toiled in obscurity for years creating an extensive catalog to little fanfare -- until recently. His singular songcraft, however, increasingly spurred significant word-of-mouth, and even endorsements from now-label mates Elvis Depressedly and Ricky Eat Acid, as well as a curious boomlet of exploratory profiles including an excellent one from Jersey Beat. As a result, Alex G seems positioned to break out in spite of himself, if not into a wider consciousness in the indie rock world, then certainly into notoriety among lo-fi adherents. Not unlike the songs he pens, Giannascoli comes across like a passive, hyper-aware dude and other recent sit-downs with Impose and The Fader reinforce this, painting him as a talented, if unsure millennial. While he's tagged with comparisons to Phil Elvrum's The Microphones and Mount Eerie, Alex G's homespun indie-pop -- typically recorded with little more than a computer and a duct-taped microphone -- resonates with a singular domesticity and intimacy, despite occasionally inscrutable lyrics. DSU is available now on vinyl and as a free download via Orchid Tapes right here; you can stream it via the Bandcamp embed below. Alex G is touring this summer, and is presently slated to perform at Roggies in Brighton in August -- that date may or may not get moved given the venues's current shutdown. Query a counterculture enthusiast. -- Dillon Riley

>> One thing we can all agree on is that a number of bands signed to the venerable Boston indie label Run For Cover have a very loose understanding of the term "hiatus." This week saw the release of Scranton-based punk collective Tigers Jaw's Charmer, a record that came to fruition in spite of (or perhaps because of) a significant lineup change and subsequent hiatus notice (it also happens to be the band's strongest work to date). In the fall of 2012, Ipswich, England-based post-hardcore heroes Basement countenanced a similar inflection point, and elected to put the band on ice in favor of school and work endeavors. Earlier this year, however, Basement surprised fans by announcing reunion shows in the states, Australia and Japan. The dates sold out quickly, proving that fans continue to carry a torch for the band. In tandem with these shows, the wuintet has announced the arrival of its first new material since 2012's Colourmeinkindness in the form of a three-song EP entitled Further Sky. The first, and likely only, preview tune from the EP is the stunning and pretty "Summer's Colour," wherein the band slightly subdues its heavy guitar attack in favor of a denser chug more characteristic of the space-rock vibe of unsung '90s heroes Failure. Britpop fans will be delighted to learn the new short set also includes a cover of the Pulp classic "Animal Nitrate." Preorder Further Sky via Run For Cover right here. Basement will perform at The Sinclair in Cambridge, Mass. in late August. It's a killer lineup including RFC affiliates Pity Sex and Superheaven, as well as the mighty Ovlov, and the show -- as well as all of the rest of the US dates, apparently -- is already very, very sold out. Stream "Summer's Colour" via the embed below and kick yourself repeatedly. -- Dillon Riley

>> In other RFC news, Jack-O-Lantern, the debut EP from the upstart dream-pop combo Camera Shy, is slated for release next week. The act features current Whirr/Nothing/Death Of Lovers guitarist Nick Basset alongside former Whirr vocalist Alexandra Morte. The duo takes a decidedly more delicate, candied approach to the dream pop template than that of the related acts: in the context of Camera Shy finds Mr. Bassett sticks mostly to acoustic strums with the occasional bright and clean electric guitar noodling, and Ms. Morte's vocals are up-front and unmarred. Unsurprisingly, Camera Shy is widely considered to be Bassett's most accessible project yet, and while we feel the huge melodies found on Whirr's debut Pipe Dreams were very appealing and fairly conventional (albeit loud), we understand the sentiment. If Camera Shy ever decide to play some shows its music will likely be delivered well under the sonic pain threshold, which will feel sort of novel in contrast to the work of Bassett's present "day-job" band Nothing. Two gentle and sunny preview tracks, "Spin Me" and "Come Around" can be streamed via the Soundcloud embeds below. Preorder Jack-O-Lantern on Halloween-themed vinyl -- obviously -- from Run For Cover right here. -- Dillon Riley

June 19, 2014

Today's Hotness: Lubec, Las Ligas Menores, Braid

Lubec -- Almost Vincent (detail/transform)

>> There are few releases as hotly anticipated by this blog's executive editor as the forthcoming sophomore set from Portland, Ore. guitar-pop visionaries Lubec. The long-awaited collection is titled The Thrall and it has gestated some 18 months or more in the quartet's collective mind-womb [wasn't that a The The record LOL/ugh -- Ed.]. The appearance of a new preview track -- the amazing "Almost Vince" -- is cause for celebration, not only because the song is amazing, but also because the Bandcamp page that houses the jam states The Thrall will be released in Summer 2014. Summer, if you don't know, begins Saturday and ends in September, meaning that sometime in the next 90 days or so the rock action is go. Lubec's aforementioned "Almost Vince," unveiled last week, is an impressively architected and jangly strummer that flirts with two tempos in the first 30 seconds before coming to rest upon an upbeat pace that anchors fronter Eddie Charlton and organist Caroline Jackson's diaphanous vocals. The song features a very smart, almost linear arrangement and widescreen melodies, and decomposes into a dazzling coda in its final quarter. There feedback slowly swirls like smoke, spare guitar notes pulse, elegant piano ascends and subdued drumming gently floats the song in for a landing. We are not yet aware of any additional information regarding the release of The Thrall, but we've heard what may be the final version of the set and it is astonishing. The collection was engineered and produced by Robert Komitz at the Frawg Pound in the band's hometown, as we noted here in April 2013. We world-premiered the title track at New Music Night 14 in January. And we will be certain to hip you to firm release information once we've gotten clued in. But budget now some future attention for The Thrall -- it is filled with tremendous songwriting and imaginative arrangements, and we think the long, long wait will prove to have been well worth it. Stream "Almost Vince" via the Bandcamp embed below and click through to download.

>> Bueons Aires-based indie concern Las Ligas Menores recently issued a brilliant self-titled full length, and every Clicky Clicky reader needs to hear it. While we admit to having a very limited understanding of the lyrical content, which is delivered in Spanish, the quintet's superlative songwriting, strong performances and emotions require no translation. The act is comprised of four women and a guy and touts two guitars and keys, so Las Ligas Menores have a relatively broad sonic palette with which it concocts its fairly conventional indie pop tunes. What makes the straightforward compositions so arresting are the fivesome's great melodies and balanced approach. There is a firmer rock groove to "Hoy Me Espera," while opener "Renault Feugo" -- which we assume is named for the '80s vehicle of the same name -- is rolls along a buoyant bass line and tambourine cadence, with Nina Carrara's keys and Anabella Cartolano and Pablo Kemper's sparkling guitars pushing an instantly memorable melody. Ms. Carrara's keys lay a foundation of drone under the tune "A 1200km," which reminds us of Stereolab's amazing cut "1000 Miles An Hour." The album ends very strongly with the seemingly Velvet Underground-inspired "Tibet" and the smoking album highlight "Miércoles." Overall the set has a sunshiney feel, and we are having a lot of difficulty listening to anything else during our current beach holiday. If Google Translate has not led us astray, the set was recorded and mixed by Jose Maria D'Agostino at the Moloko Vellocet studio between April 2013 and March 2014; Mr. D'Agostino and the band co-produced. Vocals were recorded at Ion Studios in February 2014, and the set was mastered by Daniel Osorio at Angel Studio. All of Las Ligas Menores is a treat, and it is available to download for free, so really, there is no reason not to get in on this. Stream it via the embed below, and download it right here.

>> We were first introduced to second-wave emo heroes Braid the old-fashioned way: via a mixtape sent by a friend at Northwestern in late '94. But it was the quartet's invigorating, desperate sophomore set Frame And Canvas, released in 1998, that really captured our imagination, and it was a constant friend at the turn of the century. It held much market share (of ears) in our household as one side of a dubbed cassette, and it had the distinction of being among the first things we burned to a CD via a CD burner we installed ourselves into a desktop PC back when there was no such thing as USB and installing drives in desktops was a thing that people did. But we digress. Urbana-based Braid's star shined brightly in the wake of Frame And Canvas, but the band went the way of the Dodo Bird by the end of the 20th century. And although we still blast "First Day Out" and "The New Nathan Detroits" now and again, we were pleased to see the news last month that Braid was back. The foursome actually reconstituted back in 2010, released an EP in 2011, and toured in 2012 (and apparently in 2004?), but 2014 sees the Braid releasing its first long-player in 14 years. Emo superpower Topshelf is doing the honors, releasing the all-new set No Coast July 8; the 12-song collection is already available for pre-order as an LP, CD or digital download right here. The title track commences with a jazzy syncopation, but rapidly revs up into a pretty and uptempo chorus with tidy vocal harmonies and an undeniable vocal hook. It's classic Braid, and we have to say we are pretty well stoked to have the band back. Stream "No Coast" via the Soundcloud embed below. A tightly wound second song, "Bang," was premiered by National Public Radio last month and can be heard right here. Braid performs at the Brighton Music Hall in Boston on July 24, along with Marietta and A Great Big Pile Of Leaves, and we expect that will sell out, so maybe commit to this thing now, yeah?

June 17, 2014

The Wrong Shapes Record Release Show with The Grownup Noise, Patrick Coman | Club Passim | 18 June

The Wrong Shapes Record Release Show with The Grownup Noise, Patrick Coman | Club Passim | 18 June

We referenced it last week at the tail end of our review of The Wrong Shapes' delightful full-length debut, but it bears repeating: the Boston chamber-pop duo perform tomorrow night at the legendary Club Passim in Harvard Square. We'd venture to say that we haven't seen a show there in, oh, 15 years, but our recollection is the club retains a feel of old Cambridge, you know, ivy, cigarettes, berets, counterculture, counter-counterculture, horticulture. But we digress. We think you will find The Wrong Shapes every bit as enjoyable in the flesh as you do in the MP3, and so we recommend the show to your attention. You will see plenty of the distaff portion of the pair tomorrow, as cellist Rachel Barringer also abets the also-billed The Grownup Noise, the Boston folk-pop quintet most famous (not really) for distressing us with a cover of an early '90s hip-hop song (okay, that actually happened).

Fortunately, The Grownup Noise's top-shelf songwriting, and said songs' potent emotional payload, make the band very easy to like. Exhibit A is the thrilling final two minutes of "Six Foot Solemn Oath," which features a cracking vocal arrangement winding around a brushed shuffle and amid gentle piano. It's perfection, and it is the sort of thing that makes us ask The Grownup Noise when it will have new music to hear; it's most recent collection This Time With Feeling was released in 2011 (which, now that we look, was also the last time we saw the band). Americana artist Patrick Coman rounds out the bill tomorrow night, and full details of the evening are available right here at this Facebook event page. Spend some time with the embeds below, and then consider making the scene. There is, of course, no shortage of great shows tomorrow, so if you can't drag your ass to Harvard Square or if Passim sells out, consider checking in on Boston dream-pop veterans The Hush Now down the road at TT's, or anxiety-pop titans Chandos across the river at Church. On to the streamable music, indie rock aficionadoes!

June 16, 2014

Review: Little Big League/Ovlov | "Year Of The Sunhouse," "Pure Bliss Choices" b/w "The Great Crocodile"

The venerable Tiny Engines label will release in August a split 7" featuring tremendous tunes from Philly indie-rock dynamos Little Big League and Connecticut fuzzmasters Ovlov. Two-thirds of the record has been in the wild for some time, in the form of advance streams of Little Big League's "Year Of The Sunhouse" and Ovlov's possibly career-defining tune "The Great Crocodile," and just today the final piece of the aural puzzle was revealed. We feel pretty comfortable saying that if you buy just one split single this year (which would be weird, but let's not make this about us...), this is the one.

With "Year of The Sunhouse," fronter Michelle Zauner and co. channel the electrifying sprawl of the foursome's terrific 2013 long-player These Are Good People, whilst simultaneously tightening the space surrounding the act's dueling guitars. Essentially the tune delivers 2:10 of unmitigated hook, and -- despite that fidelity to and focus on the said hook -- "Year Of The Sunhouse" is perhaps their most expressive track to date. The song gives voice to Ms. Zauner's convictions about her future and contrasts them against the apprehension of those around her. Just today LBL premiered its second tune from this doozy of a release, "Pure Bliss Choices," over on Wondering Sound. The slightly longer workout boasts the same cutting guitar work and evocative imagery upon which the band has built its reputation. The song's double-barreled chorus delivers ringing distortion alongside a wholly arresting vocal melody.

Ovlov's side, "The Great Crocodile," plays out like a response to its titanic full-length am's finale "The Great Alligator." It is a towering, six-minute tour de force, rife with riffage seemingly cloned from the classic Dinosaur Jr. release You're Living All Over Me, with chugging rhythms courtesy of Ovlov's current all-Hartlett-all-the-time back line. The recording is the first to feature the relatively recent 'lov addition, second guitarist Morgan Luzzi, who has been performing with the Hartletts of late. Of all the Exploding In Sound bands, Ovlov has always seemed most suited to emo comparisons, so its pairing on the split platter with LBL makes a lot of sense. The Nutmeg staters make further inroads into that scene this summer, as future dates include shows with Topshelf's Donovan Wolfington and Run For Cover's (recently reactivated) Basement (that's a house show in JP and opening slot at the Sinclair, respectively). "Year Of The Sunhouse" and "Pure Bliss Choices" b/w "Year Of The Crocodile" is available for pre-order now in a limited edition of 1,000 flat vinyl circles with a groove cut in each side. The pressing includes 125 opaque bright orange singles, 225 opaque bright yellow singles, 300 translucent peach singles, and 350 boring old white singles [completists can get all four for $20 but, really, will four copies of the same single really fill that void in your life? -- Ed.]. Pre-order yours from Tiny Engines right here before they disappear. We last wrote about Little Big League here in November, when the quartet played a hot and local show with Paws and Idiot Genes. More recently, Zauner released under the moniker Japanese Breakfast a collection of seven solo tracks written as part of a blog exercises; check out the excellent Where Is My Great Big Feeling right here. -- Dillon Riley

June 12, 2014

Today's Hotness: Auburn Lull, Jawbreaker Reunion, Gingerlys, Hard Left

Auburn Lull -- Hiber (detail/transform)

>> We have not yet familiarized ourselves with the ample back catalog (it stretches back to 1999) of the perfectly monikered, Lansing, Mich.-based ambient drone outfit Auburn Lull. But if the magnificence of the quintet's latest cassette is any indication, such an exploration will be well worth the time. New release Hiber is the act's first in six years and it is out now on the immaculately conceived Geographic Northern label -- whose products are as gorgeous and special on the outside as the sounds contained therein. And praise be to Eno, what sounds they are! Hiber contains five mostly instrumental tracks (a Will-o'-the-wisp female vocal occasionally appears), two of which are shorter pieces that bridge between three protracted drone suites. Opener "Moterm" melds guitars and synths into the round, sustained tones of a woodblock, mapping the general approach of Hiber as impressively calibrated guitar pedals create masterful texture, depth and space in refreshing ways with each new song. The opener leads into "CA1," wherein a gentle, alien motif iterates across a bed of icy, echoed guitar leads and warm hums. The track evokes the delicate silence of a winter's first snow, gentle reflections of a crisp, sunny day, or caverns of warmth in a freshly made bed. Later, the title track introduces a screwy piano to the mix, unfolding a complicated pattern of single left-hand notes that arguably resemble some section of a solo rendition of a Debussy number -- if ole' Claude had been a shoegazer. Auburn Lull save the best for last, as "Static Partition" makes for fascinating, stereo-panned ear candy. Bizarre, tremolo effects pitch over backwards while a bright, siren-like lead dances between the strange rhythms. White noises and found sounds creep in through the gaps and valleys of the arrangement -- specks of detail that come and go as each song awakens, breathes, and dies. You can hear the entire new collection via the Soundcloud embed below. Buy the tape, limited to 100 copies encased in blueberry-colored plastic, from Geographic North right here. -- Edward Charlton

>> From the same Bard College house show circuit that likely birthed the terrifically original lo-fi rock of the repeatedly Clicky'd Palberta come cohorts Jawbreaker Reunion, whose latest release recently found its way to our inbox. The awesomely titled Lutheran Sisterhood Gun Club materialized in late May as a pay-what-you-like download at Bandcamp, and it is filled with warm, surfy, girl-group-referencing rock. It brims with memorable melodies, especially in the vocals of co-fronting Jawbreaker, Lily. Her lyrics regularly focus on humorous and awkward moments of collegiate life, as in party stompers like "Jeggings," "Bear and Loathing," "Straightedge Revenge" and "Friends Theme Song." Every member of the band contributes to songwriting, and each of the aforementioned tunes perfectly pairs carefree instrumentation with snarky lines that must work wonders during a dimly lit house show. It's when the band looks beyond goofball antics, though, that a certain bruised emotional core reveals itself. Album highlight "E.M.O." in particular is terrifically affecting, with innocent, verses transitioning to a great, high-hat filled chorus. The spiraling lead guitars and haunting lyric "I don't want to wait anymore" elevates the band from a fun, party-rocking concern to an act whose melodies melt hearts. As with aforementioned peers Palberta, there is just the right amount of recklessness to Jawbreaker Reunion's tunes to lend a bit of crackling chaos to their characteristically straightforward pop structures. It's the sum of all of that -- the chaos, the accessible emotional payload, the sheer youthful fun of it all -- that ultimately distinguishes Lutheran Sisterhood Gun Club and makes it something you will press play on over and over again. Listen to the entire set via the Bandcamp embed below. -- Edward Charlton

>> Shelflife Records will release July 8 Valley Stream, New York indie-pop outfit Gingerlys' debut EP, Jumprope, which features four perfectly realized, fizzy strummers. The opening title track lays the foundation for the entire short programme, but the EP really takes flight during its second song, the beautiful, uptempo "Summer Cramps," which echoes wonderfully the detached dreaminess of Chapterhouse's legendary 1991 album opener "Breather." Gingerlys' high-pitched, simple synth lines run over top electric and acoustic guitars while dynamic drumming steadily pushes the buoyant jangle to the edge of panic. Maria Garnica's lead vocals provide a catchy, sultry counterpoint to the relatively clean-cut, conventional instrumentation. Often, her wordless oohs and ahs are the best hooks on the disc, and they are the source of so much of what lends the quintet's tunes a sensual dimension. Her ever-present pillowy synth lines anchor the songs, and remind this reviewer of The Wake's epic 1985 album Here Comes Everybody. Closer "Set You Off" increases the guitar interplay with colorful, chorused leads, and emphasize the dual vocals of Garnica and songwriter Matt Richards, as well, imbuing the proceedings with even more of a C86-revival feel. Fans of The Pains of Being Pure at Heart or Minks take note! Consider grabbing for this great introduction to Gingerlys instead; Jumprope is available in a limited edition of 300 vinyl singles and as a digital download. Pre-order the EP from Shelflife right here and stream it via the Soundcloud embed below. -- Edward Charlton

>> "What's that sound? Boredom!" So goes the refrain of "What's That Sound?," the electrifying debut single from Hard Left, a Slumberland Records supergroup featuring members of Boyracer, Manatee and #1 Smash Hits. The recording sounds as fun as it must have been for this group to conceive. The single, released through the label's Soundcloud account and embedded for your consideration below, is a wonderful throwback to primo early punk, with growled backing vocals a la Gang Of Four, and three chords wrapped in just the right amount of vintage fuzz tone. The band inhabits the retro sound, and leverages its bombast to carry youthful and vibrant political messages to an indie rock community that (in our opinion) collectively could use a lesson in the importance -- nay, necessity -- of protest and politics in music. That said, it's a touch funny to hear these folks in a band like this, as in their youth certain of them were busy providing an alternative to this type of music within the Washington, D.C. -area. But desperate times call for desperate measures, right? Let's hope there is more like this coming, both from Hard Left and others, because -- as the band reminds us -- "Suck-cess is not far away!" Listen via the Soundcloud embed below. -- Edward Charlton

June 10, 2014

Review: The Wrong Shapes | Reverse The Phase

The unlikely but bewitching pop sounds of Boston duo The Wrong Shapes endlessly blossom across the 10 songs of this full-length debut, like a fractal opening into perpetuity. The evocative music wrought by wife-and-husband unit and city scene veterans Rachel and Bo Barringer may be limited in their capacity to illustrate infinity only by their minimalist framework. But even so the collection's thrilling aural reach exceeds its grasp, and taken in sum its songs are much more than an illumination of thousands of small gestural iterations. While touchstones such as the music of Arthur Russell and certain solo work of David Byrne feel obvious, there is nothing obvious about Reverse The Phase. The charming set's mystery, beauty and even sedate pageantry distinguishes The Wrong Shapes' work even within the exceedingly rich Boston music ecosystem.

The Wrong Shapes weave hypnotic compositions from resonant bowed cello, skeletal guitar leads, hand and canned percussion and gentle vocal arrangements. From these elements the pair conjures stirring pop moments, as in the buoyant (and obliquely Jim Morrison-referencing) album highlight "Alright, Alright." But the pair's greater achievement may be the thrumming ambience that cloaks the entirety of Reverse The Phase -- particularly its brilliant instrumental "Actual Girls" and transcendent closing title track -- in a bright and optimistic psychedelia. Perhaps it is the feel conveyed by the attack of the bow across the cello string, but there is a physical dimension to certain of the playing, as well, which firmly roots songs like "My Laugh Is Simple, Your Hips Are Complicated" to a more distinct reality. Ms. Barringer's cello work, in particular, suggests a laborer's craftsmanship, despite an overall soft affect to the music of Reverse The Phase. The Wrong Shapes, fortunately, do not make the listener choose between pop or psych or ambient or rooted: the aesthetics co-exist -- even seamlessly merge -- in a way that suggests, well, the ideal of a marital partnership. Such an abstracted assessment may overlook the humor in the act's music (the song title "My Aim Is Terrible," of course, is a winking riff on the Elvis Costello lyric from "Alison.") and minimize the duo's brilliant composing and arranging. Indeed, there is much to hear in this record, which seems to find new ways of revealing itself with every listen.

The Wrong Shapes self-release Reverse The Phase today as a digital download. The duo fetes the new collection with a release party June 18 at the legendary Club Passim in Cambridge, Mass. The show includes sets by Boston folk rock leading lights The Grownup Noise, for which Ms. Barringer also plays cello, as well as Patrick Coman and the Lo-Fi Angels. Complete details can be found within this Facebook event page. Reverse The Phase is available for purchase right here, and you may stream the entire set via the Bandcamp embed below.

The Wrong Shapes: Bandcamp | Internerds | Facebook

June 8, 2014

Today's Hotness: Samira Winter, The Bilinda Butchers, Kittyhawk

Samira Winter -- Tudo Azul (detail)

>> We noted here in our electronic pages last fall the departure from Boston to the west coast of dream-pop luminary Samira Winter. In the intervening months she has kept busy, putting together a new band, germinating new demos and executing fairly regular gigs in and around Los Angeles and, more recently, up the coast. A trip early this year went south to Ms. Winter's native South America, where she played a handful of shows and, somehow, managed to find enough time in Curitaba, Brazil, to record a superlative, short set of sparkling music, which will soon be released on cassette by LA's Lollipop Records. The collection, Ms. Winter's first solo release, is titled Tudo Azul, which (the Internet tells us) literally translates to "all blue," but figuratively means something more like "everything's cool" to Brazilians. The title certainly jibes with the EP's sunshiney, carefree vibe, which is readily accessed despite the fact that three of the four songs on Tudo Azul are sung in Portuguese. The title track leads with a descending melody that hints at the first tune on Ms. Winter's band Winter's debut EP Daydreaming, which we wrote about here in January 2013. "Tudo Azul" soon reveals itself via a lightly syncopated rhythm and hand percussion, embedded keyboard tones and organ, and tidy vocal arrangements. And, of course, pretty guitars. Every song is a winner, but opener "Eu E Eu" brings the most sizzle, with its snappier tempo, crashing cymbals and overdriven guitar in the verse. The sessions for the EP were produced by a fellow named Rodrigo Lemos and engineered by Lucas Pereira, who we mention by name here because, really, these are presently the only two names we know in Brazilian indie rock. Tudo Azul is available in a bundle that includes a limited edition CD, t-shirt, and "surprise goody." If you hate waiting and/or surprises, the EP is also presently available as a free download via Bandcamp, at least ahead of the cassette release on Lollipop. The label issued a cassette version of the aforementioned Daydreaming EP late last year; it is now sold out. Ms. Winter's music is a delight and with each successive release her rise seems all the more inexorable. So why not like now the thing that everyone else will be liking two years from now?

>> Mere days ago we made a sidelong reference to San Francisco dream-pop act The Bilinda Butchers, and now, as if on cue, we've got new music from the trio. It's spirited new tune "Edo Method" is anchored by fuzz bass and sharp rhythm tracks, which serve as a sturdy foundation for a percolating guitar melody and yearning vocals. The song is our first taste of the act's forthcoming debut full-length Heaven, which will be issued by Orchid Tapes July 15. Despite the name of the label, Heaven will be available domestically as an LP pressed to white vinyl in a limited edition of 250 pieces; every 50th order (so, you know, 50, 100, etc.) will received a bonus in the form of a test pressing of the collection. Fastcut Records will release a CD version of Heaven as well as a 7" in Japan. Heaven is a concept record concerning the diary documenting the tragic life of a woman living in late-Edo period Japan. It's unclear whether the conceit of the album is fictional, and you can read more about it here, but it sounds like everyone dies in the end, and it doesn't get much more real than that, eh? BOOM. Blew your mind, didn't we? Despite that downer, "Edo Method" is a tremendous, emotionally affecting and feedback-spangled jam, and one that abides by the adventurous pop aesthetic of the band of The Bilinda Butchers' namesake, which if you don't know, is My Bloody Valentine. We previously wrote about The Bilinda Butchers and their excellent single "The Lover's Suicide!" (whose B-side featured a cover of Rocketship's "Love So Estranged"( right here in April 2013. Pre-order Heaven from Orchid Tapes right here, and stream "Edo Method" via the Soundcloud embed below. The Bilinda Butchers have two dates booked around the release of the LP, July 17 at The Chapel in San Franciso and July 20 at The Echo in Los Angeles, and we're going to go ahead and assume that these are release shows, so plan accordingly.

>> Can we make an entire Hotness blurb based on the flimsy premise that one band is not a different band? Well, let's see. If there is a moral to the story, we suppose it is that if you cover the hits of Thompson Twins you are probably going to get our attention. Such was the case with a band called Kitty Hawk, who not only take their name from a place at which we vacationed in the late '70s, but who also covered Thompson Twins' "If You Were Here" for the 2005 American Laundromat Records compilation High School Reunion: A Tribute To Those Great '80s Films. The comp notably features former Blake Babies/Lemonheads guy John P. Strohm, Matthew Sweet and Frank Black, among others. But that's not the point of this blog post. The point of this blog post is we were very surprised to see last week that emo powerhouse Count Your Luck Stars Records had signed a band called Kittyhawk. And we thought to ourselves, "nah, couldn't be..." And it turns out we were right. The two-words-and-a-space Kitty Hawk eventually changed their name to Kitty Karlyle and we will now let them gracefully slink away from this blog post. The one-word-no-space Kittyhawk, it turns out, is actually something of a supergroup based in Chicago fronted by sometime Into It. Over It. collaborator Kate Grube; the quartet also features members of leading hitmakers of the day Dowsing, Joie De Vivre and Pet Symmetry. More importantly, Kittyhawk is fucking awesome. Its songs from a four-way split with Droughts, Frameworks and Prawn released in late 2013 tout big guitars and ample application of glorious feedback and guitar chords that just hang there in silence and lead lines that spiral around the terrifically poignant narratives put by Ms. Gruber. Count Your Luck Stars will release Kittyhawk's full-length debut Hello, Again Oct. 14th, which seems like a terribly long time to wait. That said, there is a whole lot of back catalog in the form of split singles and an EP to tide you over, all of which you can listen to at the foursomes Bandcamp dojo right here. Better still, for local folks anyway, is that you -- YES YOU -- can see Kittyhawk this coming Wednesday night at Roggie's. That's called serendipity, FOOL! Stream the amazing tunes "The Daily Dodger" and "Food Fight" below, and then get thee to Roggie's midweek to be rocked most steadfastly.

June 6, 2014

Idiot Genes, Chandos, Flat Swamp, Strange Mangers | O'Brien's Pub | 7 June

Idiot Genes, Chandos, Flat Swamp, Strange Mangers | O'Brien's Pub | 7 June

Is this the last show flyer you'll see that refers to Boston anxiety-pop heroes Chandeliers by that name? Maybe! Attentive fans likely saw the threesome announce a name change late last month, and know that henceforth the act will be called Chandos (look, we already put it in the headline). We'll leave it to you to speculate for yourselves why a band might make that kind of change, although if you've ever googled them you've already figured the easy part of it out. And, really, it's what's on the inside that counts, right gang? Whether their amps have "Chandeliers" or "Chandos" stenciled on there matters little; it's the trio's characteristic jittery jangle that puts the proverbial asses in the figurative seats. Which is hopefully where they'll find you tomorrow night, specifically at O'Brien's Pub in Allston Rock City. There Chandos anchors a ridiculous evening of aural entertainment that also includes fuzz-faces Idiot Genes -- one of the first signings to the new Eye Design Records label -- as well as candied-punk purveyors Flat Swamp and the more progressive, twinkly indie rock of Strange Mangers.

While Chandos and Idiot Genes have been known quantities to us for years -- we last wrote about Idiot Genes here in November, and our coverage of Chandos goes back to 2010, as we said here -- Flat Swamp and Strange Mangers had not yet traversed our ear canals until early this week. We're happy to report both make rock sounds we like. We're particularly interested in Flat Swamp, which features Ovlov drummer Theo Hartlett on the guitar and sing-sing and also counts among its number Grass Is Green drummer Jesse Weiss. You read that right: this band, which is very good and wears its Weezer influence right there on its collective, comically oversized novelty sleeve, has two key players that are also drummers. It kind of takes some air out of all of those old hackneyed drummer jokes, yeah? Maybe they can get Dave Grohl on their next record... In the meantime, we certainly recommend you check out their cassette El Jefe/Nicolas Cage Match, which was released a year ago by Midnight Werewolf, and which contains lotsa windows-down-driving-fast-shouting-along-fist-pumping anthems. You like those, right? Indeed, every act on the bill tomorrow night has something hot for you to hear, so spend some time now with the links below, put on your socially acceptable pants tomorrow, and come check out the show with us tomorrow night. Full details are at this Facebook event page. Support the spleen.

June 3, 2014

Today's Hotness: French Leisure, Dark Blue, Fury Things

French Leisure -- #2 (detail)

>> Following great bands pays dividends in a number of ways, and one of these is getting turned on, by association, to excellent record labels or other bands. Case in point is the French label Beko, which we first encountered sometime in the past year because of its releases by Mooncreatures and The Bilinda Butchers [zing! pow!]. Indeed, the label has been mining some serious quality recently, and thanks to the almighty push notifications of the indispensable Bandcamp we know that one of its latest releases is among its most thrilling to date. We speak of the single #2 from French indie rock trio French Leisure. Band principals Laurent, Elsa and Gaël previously played in the long-running and influential Parisian indie rock concern Acetate Zero, which split in 2011. The trio rotate instruments on the regular, apparently, and hail from various cities -- or have together moved around quite a bit -- as their brief bio notes the act is from "Paris, Nice, Brest, Montpellier, wherever... whatever." The A-side of #2 is the mid-tempo, crisp guitar-driven ballad "Curtains," which calls to mind the patient and melodic indie rock masterpieces of Bettie Serveert or Karl Hendricks Trio. The flip side is the peppy, seemingly Versus-inspired rocker "Inner Shark." It's no stretch to surmise that French Leisure derives a fair amount of influence from classic American indie rock: in a recent interview, the trio reports that its favorite albums include Pedro The Lion's Control, Bedhead's Transaction De Novo and the epochal What's Up Matador? comp from 1997. It is little surprise that French Leisure's first single was titled #1, but what is more surprising is that it was released by Beko only a month ago. Although the band bemoaned in the interview linked supra the slow pace at which they are able to complete material (or at least we think they do -- our command of the French language is abominable), it would seem they are working pretty rapidly to bring the rock music to the people. Beko released #2 May 28; both of its singles for French Leisure are download-only and are available for free, meaning there is really no reason for them to not be in your life. Don't be a dumbass.

>> There's a side of Philly that's never been kinder and gentler, that prides itself on never having been kinder and gentler. And although it is important to note that it is not its only side, perhaps nothing embodied that in the music scene of the City of Brotherly Love in the last decade more than provocative punks Clockcleaner. Confrontational, loved and loathed equally, the band -- which Wikipedia claims was named after a nasty batch of heroin -- nevertheless blazed a wide path over the course of a relatively prolific, six-year career that ended with mercurial fronter John Sharkey reportedly splitting for Australia unexpectedly in 2008. All of that feels long ago and far away, even more so now that Mr. Sharkey has returned with a thrilling new trio called Dark Blue, which appears to have sprung from the ashes of another project called Puerto Rico Flowers. Dark Blue is set to release via Jade Tree July 15 a terrific, sophomore single that is surprisingly reverent to certain postpunk sounds. The waste-of-breath shorthand we've seen on the band so far focuses on Sharkey's baritone and lazily compares it to that of Ian Curtis. But if we're going to make lazy comparisons, folks, let's at least come correct: Dark Blue sounds a hell of a lot like a tougher version of the excellent, Morrissey-approved but sadly defunct UK guitar pop combo The Boyfriends (ploing!), which released its only full-length in 2006. Dark Blue's Jade Tree single features the anthemic, midtempo basher "Just Another Night With The Boys" on the A-side, and a riveting cover of John Cale's "Hungry For Love" on the flip. Both tunes were recorded by Philadelphia's Jeff Zeigler, who seems to have touched every excellent sound recording that has come out of the city for the last few years; a full-length Dark Blue LP is planned, and we're hopeful that Mr. Zeigler's name will appear on the back of that one as well. You can stream both cuts from the single below; we highly recommend that you do. Pre-order "Just Another Night With The Boys" b/w "Hungry For Love" from Jade Tree as a 7" vinyl single or digital download right here. Dark Blue's debut single was issued by the Brooklyn-based label Katorga Works and it can be downloaded gratis right here.

>> Minneapolis-based fuzz-pop dynamos Fury Things have a gift for crafting big, glossy melodies (and also, apparently, covering Hole songs). On its new, three-song release simply titled 7", Fury Things make a dense and gloriously glossy racket. Shoegazy guitars on opener "Leave Winter Behind" shimmer and bend along the crest of a sturdy, tambourine-studded beat. The tune is equal parts sugar and crunch, and it gentle vocal harmonies -- which recall the cracking melodicism of Scottish indie heroes Teenage Fanclub -- work to accent the former. The tempo and energy level steadily increase across Fury Things' three tracks, such that closer "Follow" feels almost out of control, given its peppy pace. Despite the short set's title, we can find no information about a pending vinyl release of the three songs, which are all new. With hooks this sharp, a vinyl issue would certainly seem to be a solid idea, but presently the music is on offer only as a digital download. The aforementioned 7" is not Fury Things' first release: the threesome issued a demo EP in late 2012, and followed it up quickly with a second, self-recorded short stack several months later simply titled EP 2. We'll keep our eyes open for additional information about 7", but don't let the question of its availability keep you from its glorious bash 'n' dazzle: stream the entire deal via the Bandcamp embed below. Fury Things play St. Paul's Amsterdam Bar and Hall June 15 before heading across the border to Calgary for a few dates surrounding the 2014 Sled Island music festival.