December 31, 2015

Clicky Clicky Music's Top Albums of 2015: Jay Edition

Clicky Clicky Music Blog Top Albums Of 2015 -- Jay EditionWell, here we are at the end of a terrific year in music. Seriously -- not a lot of haters hatin' right now, are there? Not that we ever countenance such nonsense. Our annual refrain is that if you didn't hear any new music that knocked your socks off in a given year, that's on you (to paraphrase Mr. Lydon). 2016 doesn't look like it will disappoint, either. Below we name 10 albums from this year that we deem indispensable. But first a brief aside: one meaningful measure of just how excellent a year it was for music is to take stock of those records that fell just short of making our list. Ten acts whose terrific records and extended plays rated very high at Clicky Clicky HQ, but which ultimately didn't garner a slot, are All Dogs, Courtney Barnett, William Basinski, Beach Slang, Bedroom Eyes, Bully, Coaches, Palehound and BandFFs Speedy Ortiz, and Thin Lips. With that as context, our 10 favorites, the anointed ones, are listed and linked below. Before you dive in, we'd like to offer sincere thanks to you and all of our readers for whiling away the hours in our electronic pages this year. And special thanks to writers Edward Charlton and Dillon Riley, champions each, who help move Clicky Clicky forward year in and year out -- thanks doods. See you all in 2016.
1. Funeral Advantage -- Body Is Dead -- The Native Sound [buy]

We often return to Carrie Brownstein's quote in this 2011 interview, in which she says "'The reason [a given band is] not The Clash is not necessarily because they're not The Clash, but because I don't need them as much as I needed Joe Strummer in 1990.' The way you need and relate to music changes." And we bring that up now because one of the primary reasons we love Funeral Advantage's flawless debut long-player Body Is Dead is that it was exactly what we needed during a particularly stressful time. This is not to discount the understated beauty that permeates every song of the record; indeed, we applauded a number of the songs from Body Is Dead here and here as the summer days waned. Body Is Dead hits an aural sweet spot first charted by New Order and then idly circled by M83. The record has an internal consistency, terrific pacing, very appealing melodies, and significant emotional weight, all of which make it the kind of record you can listen to on repeat for hours on end. Which we did.

2. Infinity Girl -- Harm -- Topshelf Records [buy]

We lived with Harm for so long before it came out that (true story) we jokingly threatened one of the band members when we learned that the album running order we had grown accustomed to would not be the running order of the commercial release. Infinity Girl from its earliest days has consistently made the kind of music to which Clicky Clicky readily and strongly bonds, and Harm is no exception. This is evidenced in part by our selection of the banger "Dirty Sun" as our top song of 2015, but the fact is Harm is so much more than that song. Every tune pulls its weight, and as a set Harm highlights the increased influence on the band of both post-punk sounds and the stronger role of lead guitarist Kyle Oppenheimer as a songwriter. The record is darker and harder than prior efforts, something its title suggests, but it is also Infinity Girl's strongest collection song for song, which renders it indispensable. We're very excited to hear what the foursome does next.

3. Spectres -- Dying -- Sonic Cathedral [buy]

We came across an adjective at some point earlier this year and grew very excited, because 1) we are nerds and 2) we realized it fit into a single word a sentiment that we usually expended many more to describe. The word is "uncompromising," and while many of our favorite records could be described as such, among our favorite albums of 2015 the descriptor best suits Spectres' dark and dense triumph Dying. The record is rife with squalling, brawling guitars that scrape against the stereo field, and the band's wanton and hedonistic embrace of noise is refreshing. But as is characteristic of the key proponents of the approach -- and we're thinking of Sonic Youth here -- it is Spectres' deft control of same that makes its music so thrilling. Dying is tidy when it needs to be, and arty when it wants to be, but never strays so far from the music's psych-blues foundation as to lose focus. The sinister record's seething and brooding so very potent, the cacophony so euphoric, and all of the above makes Dying among the best records of 2015.

4. Krill -- A Distant Fist Unclenching -- Exploding In Sound [buy]

It's hard to write about this record without a sense of disappointment; not because the promise of Krill was unfulfilled, but because fronter Jonah Furman's inward exploration was among the most meaningful exercises in indie rock; how and whether it will continue still seems undetermined (although Mr. Furman has been playing solo shows in recent months). Instead of viewing it through the lens of the threesome's dissolution, it is fairer to consider A Distant Fist Unclenching a rock record, and in that context it is very easy to celebrate, as guitarist Aaron Ratoff's imaginative arrays of notes and incisive chordal assaults, Mr. Furman's elastic and curious bass playing and Ian Becker's drumming make the trio's ensemble playing incredibly exciting. And with such terrific songs with which to work out its weirdness, A Distant Fist Unclenching is both gratifying and unstoppable. Sure, that the band perceived no next logical step beyond this one is sad. But there is something thrilling in the band's willingness to walk away without diluting its power one iota. A Distant Fist Unclenching is the straight dope.

5. Fog Lake -- Victoria Park -- Orchid Tapes [buy]

Haunting and heartbroken, Fog Lake's wondrous Victoria Park feels like standing on the shore and watching helplessly as a ship inexorably sinks below the surface. The vivid yet nostalgic long-player is the handiwork of a one-man chamber-pop project helmed by St. John's, Newfoundland's Aaron Powell. Built up from somewhat androgynous vocals, sturdy piano chords, and sweeping drones that spread across the stereo field like plush carpet, the set is wistful and dreamy and endlessly listenable. And while Orchid Tapes had an incredible year (remember that Katie Dey record?), we'd be hard pressed to rate one of its other releases higher than Fog Lake's textural and engaging tour de force.

6. Stove -- Is Stupider -- Exploding In Sound [buy]

The music of Stove so closely resembles the music we came of age with (Dinosaur Jr., Lemonheads) that we are helpless not to love it. Not that it doesn't have its own arresting personality (by which we mean mastermind Steve Harlett's personality), but even Mr. Harlett's wry and dry wit echoes that of legendary losercore proponent Lou Barlow. Even so, ultimately it is the incredible songs that kept this album in heavy, heavy rotation as soon as Is Stupider was released: not the least of which is the yearning "Wet Food," which is about as perfect a song as any guitar band released in 2015. And maybe 2014, too. Is Stupider keeps on giving, all the way across its 40 minutes. Let it.

7. Hop Along -- Painted Shut -- Saddle Creek [buy]

Hop Along's titanic sophomore set is vivid and electric, filled with spiky guitar work that colors the jagged emotions pronounced by fronter Frances Quinlan, the most captivating singer in indie rock right now. On this record the band introduces as second guitarist former Algernon Cadwallader dude Joe Reinhart (whose label Hot Green issued the first Hop Along LP), and his playing applies crucial new dimensions to Ms. Quinlan and company's music. We turned on to the record later in the year than we should have, and the more we listen the more we believe it should rate even higher on our year-end list. Painted Shut is truly special, endlessly listenable, and a sure sign that Hop Along is making epochal music.

8. Dogs On Acid -- Dogs On Acid -- Jade Tree [buy]

As with Stove's LP mentioned supra, we are extraordinarily predisposed to like this record because of the big guitars and big melodies. It doesn't hurt that this band ALSO includes former members of the mighty Algernon Cadwallader, also mentioned above. Dogs On Acid is a guitar-pop record of the first order, just terrific songwriting that is gracious with the melodies but respectful of the listener's smarts. Big primary color melodies are painted over swinging rhythms and sparkling and imaginative guitar playing, and these conspire to take what at its base is pop-punk music and elevate it to an art form. Perhaps more than any of the other releases on our list, this record is just flat-out and universally enjoyable, the kind of thing you could put in the tape deck of your parents' car with little fear of repercussions. Maybe? Change your life.

9. Colleen -- Captain Of None -- Thrill Jockey [buy]

Otherworldly, thoughtful and textured, Captain Of None overflows with an optimistic belief in the transformative power of music. The set marries mastermind Cécile Schott's adherence to electroacoustics with her deep-rooted love for dub reggae. And while the pairing might seem like a stretch, there is nothing about the mysteriously beautiful Captain Of None that feels forced or anxious. Fluid looping, pensive vocals, and patient pacing make the set the most meditative of all of our year-end favorites. We were delighted to see a follow-up was initially coming along relatively quickly, and although Ms. Schott recently shared that she has had a difficult year that slowed her process on her planned new collection, its seems a new set will be along before too long. Even so, we've still got plenty of dreams to dream along to Captain Of None before we get antsy for new sounds. Highly recommended.

10. Swings -- Sugarwater -- Exploding In Sound [buy]

The marvelous and impressionistic slowcore of the D.C.-based unit Swings is terrifically appealing; it trades in impressively controlled dynamics, rhythms that fluidly flex and contract, and slippery, indeterminate vocals that provide a foil for both. The band's sophomore set Sugarwater feels especially confident, given the performers' relative youth. There is no casting about, no stylistic shots in the dark that indicate Swings yet questions its artful approach to subdued post-punk. The confidence also manifests in nifty production choices, like the autotune on the vocals on the standout preview track "Tiles," or the delicious shell resonance on the snare drum in "Blood On Seersucker," whose title belies the carefree moments provided in the tune's verses. It is not terribly often we encounter a band so young yet so smart, and Sugarwater is all the better because of Swings' fresh approach to songwriting.

December 18, 2015

Clicky Clicky Music's Top Songs of 2015: Jay Edition

Clicky Clicky Music Blog's Top Songs of 2015: Jay Edition

2015 was surely an incredible year for music, with each week delivering exciting new sounds from all corners. Clicky Clicky devoted most of its electronic column inches to acts hailing from the U.S. (and particularly our hometown of Boston) and the U.K., but also featured acts from Australia, France and Portugal, and probably other places we're forgetting. This year, favorite songs were a little more difficult to select than over the past decade that we've been doing this, in part because of the vast amount of great things to choose from (how is there not a Beach Slang or Stove song on this list? Shit is competitive, yo...), and also because we spent a lot of time seeking out records that don't necessarily reveal themselves all at once, records that establish and maintain their own peculiar universe of meaning. Even so, it is most often the case that our favorites immediately rise to the top, and that's true of more than half of the songs below. Some of our favorite records were sleepers, and some songs they contained were more insidious in their efforts to dominate our consciousness and subconscious.

So while the Infinity Girl track below was immediately addicting and we've listened to it scores of times, the Colleen track and others like it snuck up on us, suddenly and surprisingly dropping into our brain out of our mouth during a quiet dog walk or long commutes in the car. No matter how they got there, all 10 songs listed below are a part of us now, and we'll always associate them with 2015. We hope you enjoy them as much as we do. Keep an eye open for our year-end albums list, which will be along sometime in the run-up to Christmas, but in the meantime we invite you to rock out to Clicky Clicky Music Blog's Top Songs of 2015: Jay Edition, either a la carte via the individual embeds below, or via this both handy and dandy Sporkify playlist (which sadly but necessarily omits the cracking Hard Left track, which is presently unavailable via the service). We salute the bands below, and we thank you, dear reader, for passing the year with us. There's a lot coming up from Clicky Clicky in 2016, so remain vigilant.
1. Infinity Girl -- "Dirty Sun" -- Harm [buy]

"Dirty Sun" emerges from noise and feedback and then swells into shape on the back of Mitch Stewart's driving bass melody, which is truly the secret sauce of this, Infinity Girl's most potent pop moment since the towering "Please Forget" that featured on the band's 2012 debut Stop Being On My Side. "Dirty Sun" is even more vibrant, its crackling pace providing an irresistible pull that never betrays the listener. The Brooklyn foursome's characteristically colossal guitars and fronter Nolan Eley's cool vocal acquit themselves wonderfully, and it is the latter that supplies the strongest, if most understated, hook. Mr. Eley's narrative of a love going off the rails effectively captures the teetering feeling where romance goes from intoxicating to irreparable. That the band can make it all sound so arresting is a testament to the pop smarts that help make Infinity Girl one of today's most exciting indie acts.

" said you were OK, but I don't buy it, you used to get excited..."

2. Funeral Advantage -- "Gardensong" -- Body Is Dead [buy]

It's soothing and fantastic, and appointed with glistening guitars. It's dense but light, basks in airy reverbs and touts curiously affecting robot-voiced verses. It's "Gardensong," and it stands out like a crown jewel even on one of the year's standout records, the Boston dream-pop heroes' debut long-player. Fronter Tyler Kershaw's vocals are heavily veiled within the song's dreamy, trance-like state, but enough of them bob above the steady waves of crystalline, delayed guitars and the surprisingly crispy beat to indicate affairs of the heart are at issue. A glance at the lyrics reveals lovers at an impasse, a place where the thing that they both want is not the right thing. The still sweetness of that resignation is nearly as fetching as the song's melody, which is gently arrayed along layered guitars and bass whose sounds seem to stretch to a sunny horizon, despite Mr. Kershaw's downcast lyrics.

" if you’re not there then I'm not there / so just close your eyes..."

3. Dogs On Acid -- "Let The Bombs Fall Off" -- Dogs On Acid [buy]

Love can bring you down, but "Let The Bombs Off" feels like a celebration, despite the desperate times conveyed in its lyrics. Perhaps we can attribute that to the singular imaginary Philadelphia that exists in our head and heart; collectively, the city's indie rockers seem to have historically colored their lovelorn sentiments with a certain determination to live on -- it's just part and parcel of the city's DNA. Indeed, on "Let The Bombs Fall Off" Dogs On Acid fronter Peter Helmis (ex-Algernon Cadwalader) sings of wishing he was a widow ("'cause then I'd know that you're not coming back") and crashing his dream car ("just to see you shake"), but with a delivery that is more determined that dour. The song's chugging rhythm, deliciously chunky bass and bright guitar work don't take a backseat to the vocals, however. The splashes of bending guitar in the chorus recall the heyday of the absolutely brilliant Meneguar, but truly every second of the tune is paved gutter-to-gutter with hooks.

"...blowing up my whole vicinity / I'm learning to stop worrying..."

4. Fog Lake -- "Dog Years" -- Victoria Park [buy]

This song is absolutely devastating, and in our estimation is the most devastating song of 2015. "Dog Years" is a bottomlessly poignant chamber-pop ballad from Canadian outfit Fog Lake; its whispered vocals carry a patina of menace limned by droning strings that unspool across a bed of watery piano chords. The narrator sings from a place of desolation, but the song's understated but haunting melody hints at the possibility of salvation, especially as a curtain of angelic keys swallows the song. Whether or not deliverance is ever achieved is as much as mystery as how it could have been achieved, but the understated melodrama of "Dog Years" is nonetheless perfect, and makes for a terrifically affecting piece of work.

"...haven't you heard / I know everything / I've heard angels calling me..."

5. Swings -- "Tiles" -- Sugarwater [buy]

At its best the curious music of Swings presents terrifically appealing shards of forgotten dreams, and "Tiles" is certainly the D.C. trio at its best. The song feels extracted from fleeting waking moments, when your subconscious rapidly falls away just as it reveals some deeper truth with its fading mirror. At least, that's as good an explanation as any for what is going on here, as fronter Jamie Finucane's elastic vocals are notoriously unparsible, much in the way Elizabeth Fraser's were in the front end of the Cocteau Twins catalogue. The skeletal pulse of "Tiles"'s arrangement and its cycling, ascending, straightforward melody erected from bass and guitar quarter notes set a sturdy table for Mr. Finucane's lyrics, which almost wink as they don apparent (if not actual) vocoder, change shape as vampire does to bat, and flitter off into a mysterious firmament that is distinctly the band's own.

" hundred percentaaaaaa WHAT THE FUCK IS HE SINGING I DON'T EVEN KNOW..."

6. Hard Left -- "Kicking It Off" -- We Are Hard Left [buy]

As social challenges have mounted during this century, it has been persistently disappointing that indie rock has not responded in kind with calls to arms, with ideas, with possible leadership toward meaningful joint solutions. You might be asking, well, why should they? To which Clicky Clicky says, why shouldn't they? Instead, macro political issues were largely ignored -- and we are not the better for it. It's an idea we discussed with comrades Mike and Tim from Hard Left here last spring, around the time of the release of the Oakland-based quartet's cracking full-length debut. Album highlight "Kicking It Off" is both exhortation and affirmation, a vow to act, and we're hopeful that it can be a model to the wider independent music community, that eventually the song will be perceived as the tip of the spear. Hard Left here delivers an uplifting, energizing banger descended straight from the day of Joe Strummer and The Clash, big fuzzy guitars, vocals that testify, beats that bang. Heed the call. Start today.

"...making do with what we didn't choose..."

7. All Dogs -- "Flowers" -- Kicking Every Day [buy]

There is magic in big guitars and steady harmonies and yearning sentiments: it's an age-old recipe, to be sure, but one that still can yield spine-tingling results when applied by skilled songwriters and performers. Columbus, Ohio four All Dogs certainly capture the lightning in the bottle here with "Flowers," although it is difficult to pick just one track from the band's terrific long-playing debut Kicking Every Day. Here the band seems to strongly channel classic Superchunk, but it is fronter Maryn Jones' charming, poignant vocal that is impossible to ignore. At fewer than 140 seconds in length, this song perhaps more than any other on our list likely keeps fans' fingers poised just above the play button and ready for another go, as 5, 10 and 20 listens just isn't enough. Gold.

"...our bodies are longing for things you don't know..."

8. Colleen -- "This Hammer Breaks" -- Captain Of None [buy]

Hand percussion like heavy steady rain (perhaps struck off her favored instrument, the viola de gamba), and quietly chanted vocals that layer and diffract, render Colleen's "This Hammer Breaks" eery and enchanting, much like the rest of her excellent 2015 set Captain Of None. The record explored mastermind Cécile Schott's love of dub reggae music, which is reflected her in the delays and reverbs that push and pull on the percussion and vocals here. The second half of the composition dives deeply into a polyrhythm and cleverly leverages production elements to render something mysterious and maximal from relatively minimal instrumentation. Squeaky, spacey tones overtake the songs and pulse through the final minute of "This Hammer Breaks," and it seems as if the entire composition is sucked down a drain at its close, adding to and not detracting from a truly mesmerizing listen.

" never know what's in the heart..."

9. Krill -- "Phantom" -- A Distant Fist Unclenching [buy]

It turns out Krill in one very real sense is not forever. And we had a hard time choosing just which tune from its 2015 swan song represented the whole of the band for Clicky Clicky. A strong argument could be made that "It Ends" hosts a multiplicity of meanings that make it a strong proxy for the set. But Krill has always been about the investigation, and so ultimately we chose the song that opens, rather than closes, A Distant Fist Unclenching as one of our favorite songs of the year. The song's rocking middle third, with bashing percussion and fronter Jonah Furman's exercised vocal, is especially engaging, but it is the song's understated coda -- and Mr. Furman's incisive questions that plumb the parameters of one's internal and external lives -- that is startlingly thrilling in its bare truth.

"...what is the proper orientation of the world to me? and does it have to be to me..."

10. Spectres -- "Blood In The Cups" -- Dying [buy]

Albums this purposefully dark can feel campy, but there is no wink and nod to be found on Spectres' stunning full-length Dying (winks and nods seem reserved for the band's videos and social media posts, which are regularly deliciously funny and irreverent). While still boasting the Bristol, England-based foursome's characteristic, Sonic Youth-indebted aural assault, "Blood In The Cups" is among the set's most melodic compositions, and its balance of beauty and firepower is terrifically compelling. Spectres' greatest skill is conjuring visceral moodscapes with its music, and "Blood In The Cups" exemplifies this, stretching anxiously but languorously across almost eight minutes with a psych-blues derived sound that recalls LA's The Warlocks. With its pulsing bass, spectral vocals, and maelstroms of guitar, "Blood In The Cups" presents a perfect storm, while highlighting Spectres' terrific vision and control.


December 13, 2015

And Then This Happened: Noise For Toys II with Elizabeth Colour Wheel, Coaches, Kindling, Gold Muse | Make Out Point | 12 Dec.

[PHOTOS: the great Jay Kumar and the Clicky Clicky Photo Desk] Now that was a spectacular rock show; all the A games were brought. More words later... perhaps? Happy holidays to all, and thanks to everyone who brought a toy that will certainly make the season brighter for a kid in need. And especially heartfelt thanks to those who made the drive, shared their gear, arranged for the space, and gave of their enormous talent. Stars all. See you next year for NFTIII. Pencil yourselves in for the Clicky Clicky Winter Ball in January, and keep Feb. 27 open for a very, very special Clicky Clicky event.

December 8, 2015

Noise For Toys II: Elizabeth Colour Wheel, Coaches (EP Release), Kindling, Gold Muse | Make Out Point | 12 Dec.

Noise For Toys II: Elizabeth Colour Wheel, Coaches (EP Release), Kindling, Gold Muse | Make Out Point, Boston | 12 Dec.

It feels good to give back. And as we age, and recognize how we've relied on others to carry us through the times we needed carrying, that good feeling only grows stronger each time we are able to give. Sure, our virtual lives at times seems like an endless chain of crowdfunding requests, some laughable, others heart-wrenching. But that's for good reason: at its best, the "crowd" is strong, and can accomplish amazing things. Sadly, it seems sometimes the idea gets lost, or at least seems so self-evident as to go unheeded, that the community exists for the benefit of the community. While it may not be apparent on a daily basis, our fortunes all rise and fall together. And a little help from everyone can go a long way.

Take toys. A toy for a kid that has less and needs a little more can mean the world, the difference between hopelessness and hope. To try to help tip the scales toward the latter for as many young people as possible this holiday season, we've once again banded together with our good friends from noise-rock five Coaches and South Shore music blogging standard-bearer The Ash Gray Proclamation to parlay our collective affinity for independent music into something bigger and better: Noise For Toys II. The show is this Saturday at 8PM at Make Out Point, which is an alias for an alternative show space. To get the address, hit us up or ask a punk. While that might seem a touch complicated, the overarching idea is simple. You bring an unwrapped toy to this incredible rock show, we do what needs doing to get it into the hands of a kid, and you get to see four of the finest underground rock acts the region has to offer. Coaches will play, of course, and we've tapped other hitmakers of the day for the event, as well: No Idea recording artists Kindling, rising dream-core goliaths Elizabeth Colour Wheel, and Gold Muse, the recently commissioned collab featuring members of Soccer Mom, Swirlies and Earthquake Party!.

This bill is almost too good to be true. Readers will recall from this piece last week that Coaches is celebrating the release of its terrific new EP Shush as part of the show. Additionally, Western Mass. bigs Kindling are packing up their three-guitar attack and towering wall of sound and trekking to Boston for the show. Released just last month, the quintet's stormy Galaxies 12" touts four tunes that build off its early, Velocity Girl-inspired sound and rev it up with blunt, punky energy. Elizabeth Colour Wheel's recent ascent continues unabated; its very successful 2015 included the release of a debut EP (which Clicky Clicky premiered right here), some well-received singles (including the holiday-themed Dolly Party cover embedded below) and many mesmerizing live shows. Gold Muse just in the past week released to the wilds of the Interzizzles its debut digital single, "Easy Dance" b/w "Sometimes Smiling," and it is light, nimble and intoxicating. The pop-leaning sound may be a bit of a surprise given the combo's component parts, but with ready hooks, fluid dynamics and Deborah Warfield's inviting vocals, each song is a winner. So yeah, we think the show is going to be really great.

Look, we recognize our game is indie rock, and our day-to-day is not about curing society's ills. But at its heart indie rock is optimistic, in that we all believe there is a better way to make, live, and breathe music. There are kids out there that need a reason to be optimistic, too, some sign that there are people out there pulling for them. Let's be those people. And let's rock Saturday night. Let's rock most steadfastly. Stream tunes from the four bands via the embeds below.

Elizabeth Colour Wheel: Bandcamp | Facebook
Coaches: Bandcamp | Facebook
Kindling: Bandcamp | Facebook | Internerds
Gold Muse: Bandcamp | Facebook

December 4, 2015

Today's Hotness: Coaches, Du Vide, Big Nice

Coaches -- Shush EP (cover detail)

>> It's been some time since we last heard from shoegaze luminaries Coaches, but that's little surprise. In our interview a year ago with band mastermind Brady Custis, he said Coaches works slowly and methodically. Add to the mix that the band in the past year relocated to Brooklyn and changed up the lineup (for example, drumming duties are now executed by Infinity Girl cannoneer Seb Modak), and one gets a sense of how the quintet has filled its days. But at long last it has announced it is releasing Shush, a dynamic, dynamite and highly textured EP of big-guitar post-punk, later this month. The four-song set explodes out of the gate with back-to-back thrillers. First comes the feedback-spangled, fuzz-bass fueled rocker "That Not This;" the tune starts smart and gets smarter, injecting hard rhythmic changes that culminate in a muscular groove. This is followed by the first preview track from the short set, "Elizabeth Warren," which is refreshingly what one hopes it will be: a raging rocker detailing an infatuation with the wonderful and wise U.S. Senator from the great Commonwealth of Massachusetts. It's safe to say this is the only song you will hear that says longingly of Warren, "Elizabeth, the trouble is you're for the people but I'm just one person." The more subdued but no less engaging "Blond Cop," which alternates between slinky and roaring, and the relatively ambient gloomer "Death Etiquette," round out the EP, and these tunes are similarly strong. And so while Shush is a late entrant in 2015, it surely counts among the best EPs of the year. The increasingly crucial Disposable America label releases the set in a limited edition of 100 pink or yellow cassettes Dec. 11, and you can pe-order a copy right here. Coaches fêtes the release of the EP at the recently announced Noise For Toys II, a Toys For Tots benefit house show in Allston Rock City Dec. 12. The bill also features Western Mass. 'gaze heavyweights Kindling, Boston's rising demigods Elizabeth Colour Wheel, and Gold Muse, the new project featuring members of Soccer Mom, Earthquake Party! and Swirlies. For venue details, ask a punk; in the meantime, go buy a new, unwrapped present for a kid, as that is the preferred entry fee to the big, big rock show. Stream the aforementioned "That Not This" and "Elizabeth Warren" via the Bandcamp embed below. We last wrote about Coaches a year ago here, when we got a look around the band's rehearsal space for our Show Us Yours feature.

>> We're very taken with the gentlemanly pop sound of Boston trio Du Vide. Indeed, not since the heyday of local legends Pants Yell! have we been so hopeful about the state of the city's indie pop. The threesome's recently released sophomore EP Clutter features three accomplished compositions that exhibit terrific playing and songcraft. Opener "The Hell It Is" blends elements of slowcore and coctail jazz drumming and guitar work with introverted, downcast vocals whose vibe suggests Chet Baker and Sam Prekop, while being more sonically akin to those of Conor Oberst. The song hits a firm crescendo and is carried off by one big guitar chord. The succeeding tune "A Sharp Inhale" ups the rock quotient at first, but then vacillates between explosive and delicate moments, highlighted by big emotive singing at one extreme and velvet soft drumming at the other. The pretty, acoustic ballad "Word Vomit" provides the EP's final word, where somewhat morose lyrics share space with thoughtfully layered guitars. The lyrics are particularly strong, grabbing the listener with elongated vowels and presenting some small truth writ large: "it's been a long weekend, a long night so far..." According to this recent Facebook post, Du Vide is nearly finished recording a debut long-player, which we're very keen to hear. The band's next live appearance will be Jan. 6 at Arlene's Grocery in Manhattan, but we've got it on pretty good authority that you'll be able to see the band live not long after that back in Boston, so stay tuned. Clutter was released to the wilds of the Interpants as a digital download Nov. 2; stream the entire thing via the Bandcamp embed below, and click through to download it for any price. Du Vide's prior EP In Hiding was issued as a digital download in May, and the band has also released two digital singles, all of which we'd rate as crucial.

>> Bradford Krieger is a number of things: one-time talent booker at River Gods, operator of Hanging Horse Studios in Norwood, Mass. (where he has recorded hitmakers of the day including Dirty Dishes, IAN and Horse Jumper of Love), and now those of you keeping score at home can also mark Mr. Krieger down as the man behind Big Nice. That a studio guy would also make music is little surprise; that his apparent first outing so deftly packs great detail (such as the vocal harmonies in the Flaming Lips-echoing tune "Upwards," or the backwards stick strikes of "Vino") into relatively spare arrangements is quite noteworthy. The aforementioned tunes feature on a recently released short stack simply titled EP1, which was released to the wilds of the Internerds as a digital download Nov. 4. Krieger coaxes some very nifty sounds, but tastefully downplays them: the second minute of the jaunty instrumental "Vino" builds upwwards from a sturdy 12-string melody line, then throws octave pedal into a knot of particularly slippery guitars. The gently swinging "Ta Dum" underscores the EPs fresh, snappy vibe, bashing and popping its way toward a series of chords played on an organ that meander away like one affected by dementia. Closer "Moss" is not only the most conventional tune of the set, but also its highlight: not bad for a casual strummer that clocks a mere 87 seconds. Stream the entire kebab via the Bandcamp embed below, and click through to download for any price. And keep your fingers crossed that Big Nice eventually manifests itself as a live entity. We'll be waiting.

November 24, 2015

Review: Ringo Deathstarr | Pure Mood

Is it still too early in dream-pop's current swell in popularity to proclaim a band the "Wilco of shoegaze?" Such a mantle might not yet fit Austin, TX noise-pop goliaths Ringo Deathstarr, but it nevertheless illustrates the liminal point the act occupies as it issues its tremendous new album Pure Mood. Across its four-album run (including 2011's Sparkler singles collection), the trio has established itself as reliable producers of potent, thoughtful rockers that faithfully honor established shoegaze conventions with artfulness and a bit of humor. Pure Mood is a perfect summation of Ringo Deathstarr's strengths, but it also raises the question: where does the band go from here?

And perhaps this is where Wilco could point the way. Obviously recruiting guitar virtuoso Nels Cline can only be done by so many bands... But by albums four and five, Jeff Tweedy and company famously transformed with Yankee Hotel Foxtrot and A Ghost Is Born by not only revealing more of themselves, but also by mixing up their influences to concoct an avant and abstract challenge to its prior oeuvre. Is it time for the Texas titans to inject more vulnerability or experimentation into its work? The latter is already happening in certain corners of Pure Mood. Indeed, its most thrilling moments are when Ringo Deathstarr defies expectation, as in "Dream Again," one of the few songs on the new collection where the band allows the piece to unwind in its own fashion, rather than choosing the easier exit via dramatic buildup or ignition of a holocaust of distortion and other effects. Album highlight "Stare At The Sun" slinks by on a delicate guitar bridge-plucked groove that not only sounds unlike anything that has been played by a shoegaze band before, but also manages to be both emotionally stimulating and entirely impossible to predict as the piece shifts to a shrill and danceable anthem of a chorus. It's a highly imaginative moment for the band, but also a glimpse of one possible future for an act that may be approaching an inflection point.

Pure Mood embraces influences both unexpected and logical. The grungy chords and steady, pounding drums of the Elliot Frazer-led "Never" and "Heavy Metal Suicide" echo Alice In Chains and relatively recent tourmates Smashing Pumpkins, specifically those bands' presentation of punk-derived energy in the context of big, polished productions. Even so, The Deathstarr knows better than to let go of its own strengths. For example, the relatively more aggressive and bass-forward sound introduced with its 2012 long-player Mauve [review] persists on the new collection. Bassist Alex Gehring, Mr. Frazer's longstanding musical foil, handles vocals on many of Pure Mood's softer songs, where her clear, euphonious tones shine brightest. There she is right at the outset of the record on the aforementioned stunner "Dream Again," gracefully harmonizing and doubling her vocals. And "Boys In Heat" and "Acid Tongue" underscore just how adept Ringo Deathstarr is at crafting the sorts of woozy, mid-tempo whammy-bar workouts characteristic of much of the Texans' 2011 debut, Colour Trip. Beyond these songs' inherent beauty and majesty, it is impressive just how fertile this territory is for the band: while in a sense the sound is Ringo Deathstarr's bread and butter, the threesome never feels like it is repeating itself because of the bracing, brisk and pop-leaning aspects of its songwriting. Pure Mood was released Friday by London-based Club AC30 in two separate colors of vinyl, on compact disc, and as a digital download. Unfortunately, it appears that the vinyl is already sold out, but the CD can be snatched up right here. -- Edward Charlton

Ringo Deathstarr: Bandcamp | Facebook | Soundcloud

Prior Ringo Deathstarr Coverage:
Today's Hotness: Ringo Deathstarr
Today's Hotness: Ringo Deathstarr
Review: Ringo Deathstarr | God's Dream
And Then Some Days We Get Awesome Mail 13
Review: Ringo Deathstarr | Mauve + Live In Portland, Sept. 20
YouTube Rodeo: Ringo Deathstarr's "Kaleidoscope"
YouTube Rodeo: Ringo Deathstarr's "So High"
YouTube Rodeo: Ringo Deathstarr's "Imagine Hearts"
Today's Hotness: Ringo Deathstarr
Ringo Deathstarr Will Storm Japan, U.K., Issue "You Don't Listen" Single
Ringo Deathstarr "In Love" b/w "Summertime" Due 9/14
Today's Hotness: Ringo Deathstarr
Today's Hotness: Ringo Deathstarr
Clicky Clicky Music Blog: The Best Records Of 2007

November 18, 2015

Review: Bedroom Eyes | Honeysuckle

Standard bearers for unyielding, big-guitar shoegaze in Boston would seem to be hard to come by these days, with many of the genre's key regional proponents shutting down, migrating elsewhere, or mutating. The newer school of Boston 'gaze is tempered with pastoral passages, post-rock dynamics and more distinctly American production aesthetics, and the richly melodic, guitar-drenched sound purveyed by now-resuscitated legends RIDE and My Bloody Valentine would seem to have somewhat fallen out of favor. However, that all changes next week, when Bedroom Eyes return with a commanding sophomore set. The Boston foursome's new long-player Honeysuckle -- its first in three years -- places Bedroom Eyes at the vanguard of the city's big-guitar scene, poised for a breakout into the broader American underground on the strength of its moody, sonically aggressive and vividly rendered songs.

Honeysuckle is intoxicating, and its uptempo material particularly so. Buzz-sawing album highlight "Plain Heir" hits like a tsunami of swirling, bending guitars, with deep reverbs elevating the drums and characteristically smeared vocals in the mix. Similarly powerful is "Gypsy," whose churning, distorted guitars and breakneck pace are all blitzkrieg and no ebb. That pacing and surprisingly compact compositions establish a tension with the richness of Honeysuckle's arrangements and production, and this tension is at the core of what makes the set so entrancing. The effect is amplified by the fluidity between tracks; while the album doesn't quite have a continuous mix, songs flow and breathe into each other. Indeed, Honeysuckle employs two beautiful interstitial instrumental compositions to link key tracks like so much edgeless watercolor. First, the arpreggio-led, narcotic revery "(Highsummer)" ties the aforementioned "Plain Heir" to the pretty, mid-tempo anthem "Wild Sins," a tune whose thunderous choruses are set off by dreamy passages of layered guitar leads. The final third of the record is unstoppable; there the interstitial "(Deepwinter)" is sandwiched by the fiery, indefatigable belter "Lorraine" and the tremendous closing title track, which alternates between glimmering verses that call and shuddering choruses that respond.

Part of the narrative pushed with Honeysuckle is that the collection represents a "painstaking reworking" of the Bedroom Eyes sound. Nonetheless, it is striking how our review of the band's spine-tingling 2012 debut could very well apply to the new set. All of the visceral guitars, spectral vocals, saturated emotion and crackling energy the band presented on What Are You Wrong With persist here. Perhaps the production is where the foursome's game feels most stepped-up, particularly the vocal treatments, and a sonic wholeness across the record achieved by a honey-dripping, sub-aquatic ambiance. Despite its familiar building blocks, the new record by any metric is a distinct step forward. Sure, Honeysuckle arrives in the wake of a lineup change and an earlier scrapped LP session, but the painstaking reworking would seem to have rebuilt a reliable foundation, not reconfigure the band's sonic DNA. Whatever; the results speak for themselves.

Honeysuckle is a towering collection, a masterstroke, and so we are very pleased to premiere for you today the entire album via the Soundcloud embed below. Midnight Werewolf Records will release Honeysuckle in a limited edition of 100 cassettes Nov. 24, and the label is already taking pre-orders right here. The release is the first in a series of three cassettes that the label will issue over consecutive months featuring Boston acts (subsequent tapes feature Charles and Pleasure Gap). Honeysuckle will also be available on CD, and the band has already been selling it at shows. Bedroom Eyes just wrapped a short strand of live dates that took it as far south as Richmond; the band's next area show is Dec. 5 at Firebrand Saints in Cambridge, Mass. with Burglary Years, Summer of Aden and Babydriver. Bedroom Eyes also performs the following week with Porches at UNH in Durham, NH, and you can read more about that right here.

Bedroom Eyes: Bandcamp | Facebook

Previous Bedroom Eyes Coverage:
Today's Hotness: Bedroom Eyes
Review: Bedroom Eyes | What Are You Wrong With
Bedroom Eyes Record Release Show With Sneeze, Lube, Kal Marks And Big Mess | O'Brien's | 9 July
Clicky Clicky Music Presents... N O F U C K I N G W H E R E : 11 Boston Bands Perform Ride's 1990 Album
Young Adults, BDRM Eyes, Chandeliers and The Living City | The Box Fort, Allston Rock City | Jan. 28
Today's Hotness: BDRM Eyes

November 16, 2015

A Very Clicky Clicksgiving with Philosophical Zombie, Prom Night, New Dark Arts | O'Brien's Pub | 18 Nov.

A Very Clicky Clicksgiving with Philosophical Zombie, Prom Night, New Dark Arts | O'Brien's Pub | 18 Nov.

As mentioned previously, yr friends here at Clicky Clicky are putting together a series of now-sound rock shows at famed neighborhood establishment O'Brien's Pub in Allston Rock City. The next entry is this Wednesday, when we will be complicit in presenting three new Boston acts on the club's famed corner stage. We're calling this one A Very Clicky Clicksgiving and you are all cordially invited to come early, stay late and drink a beer (if you are so inclined/legally able). Bring some earplugs, cause it'll get loud. So what's on auditory tap?

Top-lining the event is the garagey indie project Philosophical Zombie, the latest outing from scene veteran Ted Billings, formerly of Age Rings and Slater. Wednesday's show serves as the Boston record release party for PZ's bracing debut long player Loneliness Is Blue And Not Blue. The collection presents something of a slightly more spontaneous approach to Billings' music, although it does not sacrifice any of the immense songwriting talent that has made him a person of interest on this blog during the last several years; indeed, Billings' last Age Rings record and the solo record that closely followed were among Clicky Clicky's favorite records of 2011 and 2012, respectively. The rap is that the 10 songs that comprise Loneliness are the results of a writing exercise, and, with the encouragement and blessing of the fine folks behind Killer Wail Records, are presented mostly unretouched. Which is not to say that the record feels rushed or even incomplete -- quite the contrary -- but rather that it brims with potent urgency emphasized by an in-the-red production style. Loneliness Is Blue And Not Blue's best moments, such as opener "All Men" and "Father John," are fuzzy and distorted but never hazy, propelled by driving, insistent rhythms toward ready hooks. Closer "Wedding" tops both with Billings' shouted and sharply panned vocal tracks heard bouncing between shards of heavy down-stroked guitar. It's a dizzying effect that again meshes well with the live, fresh feel of the recording. Loneliness Is Blue And Not Blue is out now via New York based Killer Wail, and we are pleased to present below a stream of "Ash And Her," a more tender moment from the set that still leans heavily on guitars. Digital copies of the record are on offer right here.

Along for the ride Wednesday are area indie concerns New Dark Arts and Prom Night, two bands that orbit the same scene-iverse as those Boston acts we highlighted earlier this year in our Class of 2015 overview. New Dark Arts is the newly rebranded, emo-tinged indie rock project from Collin Coviello, a Boston transplant heretofore known for his work in BDAY BOY. Prom Night is a darker, denser, horror film-themed shoegaze project of Elizabeth Colour Wheel principle Mike Costa, who coincidentally also contributes drumming to New Dark Arts. Check out music from both acts via the embeds below. The show's particulars are all laid our in this Facebook event page, but to sum up: doors Wednesday are at 8:30 PM, it’s 18+ and the ticket will set you back eight American dollars. Speaking of tickets, those of you who like to plan ahead may acquire some at this link. -- Dillon Riley

Philosophical Zombie: Facebook
Prom Night: Bandcamp | Facebook
New Dark Arts: Bandcamp | Facebook

Related Coverage:
Review: Ted Billings | American Bedrooms
Today's Hotness: Age Rings
Review: Age Rings | Black Honey (Reissue)

November 14, 2015

Today's Hotness: National Park Service, Floral Print, Light Heat, Sun Gland

Today's Hotness: National Park Service, Floral Print, Light Heat, Sungland

Ever since we turned on to the Lakewood, Ohio-based ambient/experimental concern National Park Service a couple years back, the anonymous, five-year-old act has kept us busy, releasing extensive, quality albums of atmospheric post-everything sounds that, frankly, have just stunned. The music asks more of listeners than pop music or even indie rock, so it might be more easy to take its brilliance for granted. But even so that brilliance -- indeed, we consider National Park Service the Aphex Twin of autumnal folk-drone and melodic ambience -- is underscored once more by Everyday Feelings, a recently issued, 14-track odds 'n' ends compilation of hard-drive rarities from the past year. The collection commences with "Disillusion," a bass-y synth exploration limned with a crisp live drum beat. The composition delivers listeners into optimistic head space, introduces samples of conversation, and then the piece is knocked aslant as it is run through a hi-pass filter before evaporating. The composition "I Have Not Forgotten" presents warped post-shoegaze chords that rumble in the distance while field recordings of chirping crickets and cicadas approach the top of the mix, which surprisingly approximates well the experience of standing in a muggy Southern field next to a highway overpass. "Light Up" is a fully formed post-rock masterpiece of looping guitars and percussion that vaguely resembles the start-up modem sounds of yesteryear. The song packs enough dynamics and continually evolving textures to believably show up on the next Mogwai album. It's that good. Everyday Feelings was self-released as a digital download to the wilds of the Internerds Oct. 11. Stream the entire compilation via the embed below, and click through to download Everyday Feelings for any price. While you're there, be sure to catch up on the other albums as well, especially the recently released '97 Tracer (which we wrote about here) and the undisputed 2013 classic I Was Flying (which we wrote about here). -- Edward Charlton

>> Special things continue to brew in the Atlanta indie rock scene. There a wave of bands proffering mathy, punky post-pop guitar music and bent on rewriting the compositional rules ply their trade via emotive lyrics and clean, disarming instrumental figures. Scene figureheads Red Sea and Warehouse both went big in 2015 with releases that deservedly drew national attention (albeit in the underground). Cresting presently is the trio Floral Print, whose recent two-song digital single more than delivers on the promise of its entirely terrific but undersung 2015 EP Woo [seriously]. The single's de facto A-side "Running Joke" presents dizzying, chipper-to-somber tempo changes within its first minute, but the tune stays anchored to strong vocals and the side-winding melodies of guitarist Nathan Springer. Fans of the masterful post-punk mods Each Other should certainly take note, as the tune contains a similar entrancing logic. Flipside "Alice Arm" at first operates on a lopping Pavement-esque verse (think "Grounded") before interrupting itself repeatedly with dreamy post-rock interludes saturated in heavy delay moves. Both tunes evidence an act with highly imaginative, forward thinking songwriting, firing our anticipation for the planned physical release of these two cuts and possibly more soon via Philly-based tape and vinyl label Bacon Beak Records. If you're lucky enough to be in Atlanta on Nov. 21st, be sure to catch Floral Print with the venerable Swings at the Mammal Gallery. "Running Joke" b/w "Alice Arm" was released to the wilds of the Internerds Oct. 8; stream both tunes via the embed below, and click through to download the set for any price. -- Edward Charlton

>> Perhaps one day erstwhile Philadelphia psych-pop act Mazarin, which released three sparkling and wistful albums between 1999 to 2005, will garner the totality of praise it so richly deserves. That band's towering final collection, We're Already There, adhered to its own singular logic, and in doing so superseded the group's masterful, skittering guitar pop to don an elegant, velveteen shoegaze shroud. The set not only featured a Kurt Heasley (of our beloved Lilys) cameo, but also gave the then-en vogue The Shins a run for their melodically pleasant money, while paving the way for similarly inspired scene contemporaries Dr. Dog. And that's all without even mentioning Mazarin's must-own 2002 "Memories Change In Patterns" single, released on the venerable Sub Pop label. Following this fully realized run? Silence, then an announcement that the Mazarin moniker was surrendered under legal threat to a lame bar band, then a brief name-change to Black Stoltzfus, then... nothing. Mastermind Quentin Stoltzfus thankfully -- and as chronicled here in these electronic pages in 2013 -- resurfaced at long last with Light Heat, a new group featuring key members of Mazarin. As quick as the act's self-titled debut arrived from seemingly nowhere, the band receded back to the shadows, and only the rare blog post provided hope that new music from Light Heat might be forthcoming. Then, just as the aforementioned Lilys was set to launch its short strand of shows in October with support from Light Heat, Stoltzus' act announced The Silver Light Of The Late Night, a new five-song collection. The EP retains Stoltzfus' trademark meandering verse melodies and steady vocals but marry them, at times, to a more neon-lit, club-going, dream-pop aesthetic. The title track opener sets forth a mission statement, layering billowing delay guitar lines atop a ceaseless, clean hi-hat disco beat without ever sounding at all like a follower of the many other post-2005 bands that have charted a similar course. "You Know About Me" interrupts itself with handfuls of bratty garage rock chords but its angular rhythmic gallop persists throughout. "Villains" perhaps best recalls the Mazarin of old, with opening backwards guitar effects and the sturdy, folksy acoustic strums that formed the bedrock of the early Mazarin sound. The gorgeous and gauzy closer "Under The Spell" surveys the events of the proverbial and perhaps titular night, pleased with the results, though no less wistful (get the feels from that guitar solo) than ever before. It's a beautiful ending to the EP, and a reminder of what makes Mr. Stoltzfus such a special songwriter. Let's hope it is also an auspicious teaser for similarly skilled and moving work that will hopefully follow. Listen to The Silver Light of The Late Night via the Soundcloud embed below. Philadelphia fans can see the act this coming Thursday at the Boot And Saddle, when it supports a bill top-lined by the similarly legendary HiSoft. Full show deets are right here. -- Edward Charlton

>> Glaswegian noise-pop goliaths The Cherry Wave are arguably one of the most six-string-centric acts around, as evidenced by its stinging feedback and twisted, distorted chords, so the idea of a solo project from its bass player Billy may seem a dubious proposition on its face. What's this surnameless bass player got to offer, anyway? The answer, it turns out, is quite a lot. Operating under the moniker du rock Sun Gland, Billy purveys refreshingly nuanced and frenetic post-punk. Sun Gland's debut offering is a five-song EP titled Songland (get it). The music switches out The Cherry Wave's devastating feedback swells for angular jabs of minor chords and guitar lines much more in line with experimental post-punkers like Women (and its offshoot soon to be formerly known as Viet Cong), TV Wonder, The Dories and other practitioners, most of whom hail from Calgary, Canada. There is, however, just enough of The Cherry Wave's shoegaze texture to appreciate a connection between Sun Gland and its proprietor's day job. Opener "Miracle of Hate" casts plaintive, far-off vocals against piercing, overdriven blasts of guitar to summon a stunning, funereal stomp. "Glinted" opens with delicately picked, moody guitar arpeggios, but surges with a strong "folding into a light" chorus refrain. EP highlight "Chime" expands on these blueprints, but packs it into a breath-taking, punky minute-and-a-quarter blast. Closer "Ochre" plots a somber, slow-dancing approach for much of its duration, sounding like a more discordant Ride, but one unafraid to steer recklessly toward a locked-groove churn. In all, Songland is a fabulous and promising collection, and one that not only establishes a very separate realm for Billy, but also is equally impressive as nearly all of the instruments are played by just the one dude. Stream Songland via the embed below, and click through to download it for any price. It is very well worth noting here The Cherry Wave's recently issued split single with like-minded noise-poppers Airs.The release includes a brace of tunes from each act, with The Cherry Wave offering two anthems notable for actually feeling, well, relatively -- relatively -- restrained, even conventional. Opener "Still Light" is surely a paint-peeling rocker, but with a more pronounced melodic sense than we've heard from the band before; the blissfully cacaphonous "Swedger" hews more closely to the classic Cherry Wave sound. Airs acquits itself wonderfully with its pair, which curiously includes a high-octane take on the Oasis classic "Supersonic," which somehow comes off even more cocaine-fueled than the original. Stream all of the The Cherry Wave/Airs split via the second embed below. -- Edward Charlton

November 12, 2015

Hallelujah The Hills Marks 10 Years of Cosmic Americana, Tracks New LP, Shares Rejected Album Titles, Rocks Somerville, Mass. Friday

Boston indie rock institution Hallelujah The Hills this month marks its 10th anniversary, no small feat given our society's fractured attention spans and the constant threat of... what's that bullshit called, where the world is supposed... oh right, Rapture. The Rapture, it could kill us all or something, but laughing in the face of non-laughing things resides among the panoply of charms at work in the music of Hallelujah The Hills. The band is four albums and change into a luminous, Chevy Chase-marred, government-surveilled career, and indeed just finished tracking a fifth -- tentatively titled Deluxer Mandatory and slated for release in spring 2016 -- in upstate New York last week. Deluxer Mandatory rolls off the tongue nicely, yes? Sounds a bit like a mid-century sedan model with deep, chrome ashtrays, no? But is it an improvement upon the five rejected album titles that Clicky Clicky can exclusively reveal to you via the video embedded above? Did you just watch that? Did you expect to see that much fur?

Anyhoo, it's gratifying that in this topsy-turvy world things can proceed business-as-usual, but it is important to stop and refl... nah, that's bullshit, too. It's important to play rock shows, dammit, and that is what the band is doing this Friday night at Cuisine En Locale in Somerville, Mass., where the quintet will be joined by Adam Schatz's influential grow-fi outfit Landlady and Eternals. Hit this link for the most complete information one can find about the show without jumping in a TARDIS. Below are a couple embeds of some hot HtH tunes, not our top serious faves, as Bandcamp sometimes is a fickle beast, but each one is certainly very worthy of the HtH name. Dig them. Deluxer Mandatory is available now for pre-order as an LP, CD or digital download right here, where you can also view the 12-song track list and gaze upon the pre-order premiums on offer (note that the raffle mentioned at that link is now over, but you may still pre-order the hell out of the record). And just because we love it, have you seen this video for one of Adam Schatz's other projects, The Shoe-Ins? So, to review: album coming; pre-order album; watch short video clip; attend rock show. You can do this. We can help. Call today to find out how.

Hallelujah The Hills: Bandcamp | Facebook | Internerds

Previous Coverage:
Today's Hotness: Hallelujah The Hills
Show Us Yours #19: Hallelujah The Hills
Today's Hotness: Hallelujah The Hills
Today's Hotness: Hallelujah The Hills
Today's Hotness: Hallelujah The Hills
Rock Over Boston: The Unfolding Synchronistic Improbable
Today's Hotness: Hallelujah The Hills
Rock Over Boston: Hallelujah The Hills, Capstan Shafts | TT's

November 8, 2015

Infinity Girl, Kindling, Elizabeth Colour Wheel, Big Eater | Out Of The Blue Too | 8 Nov.

Infinity Girl, Kindling, Elizabeth Colour Wheel, Big Eater | Out Of The Blue Too | 8 Nov.

Just look at this goddamn show tonight.

Infinity Girl: Bandcamp | Facebook
Kindling: Bandcamp | Facebook | Internerds
Elizabeth Colour Wheel: Bandcamp | Facebook
Big Eater: Bandcamp | Facebook

November 4, 2015

Stop What You're Doing: How Lorelei Transcended Its Influences And Produced The Undersung, Prescient Post-Rock Classic Everyone Must Touch The Stove

Stop What You're Doing: How Lorelei Saw Beyond Itself and Produced The Undersung, Prescient Post-Rock Classic Everyone Must Touch The Stove

[By Edward Charlton / UPDATED] Time, place and personnel. These three elements proved to be everything for Lorelei, a misfit trio of adventurous indie musicians whose debut long-playing album, Everyone Must Touch The Stove, turned 20 years old in September.

The time was the early 1990s, when the so-called alternative ethos loomed over both the musical underground and overground, experiencing its first identity crisis when grunge penetrated the purview of high school dances and topped the pop charts. The place was Washington, D.C., where the narrowly realized punk idealism of the '80s had ebbed, giving way to a fertile and diverse scene whose possibilities seemed limitless in the minds of many of its players. And so it was with the band; Lorelei was a challenged and ever-changing project, which -- through a series of fortunate and formative experiences -- chanced upon the ideal combination of the three aforementioned factors to create an expansive, experimental and startlingly prescient indie rock album. Indeed, the long-player Everyone Must Touch The Stove foretold much of the coming post-rock movement, whose influence helped shape the next two decades of sub-popular independent music. Lorelei continues to perform live occasionally, and is poised to announce at least one special performance for the end of 2015. More about that below.

Following a series of terrific compilation tracks, singles and the beautiful Asleep EP -- recordings whose sounds closely tracked to the group's rapid development and lineup changes -- Lorelei committed 10 of its most refined and experimental pieces to tape at home and Geoff Turner's WGNS studios in Arlington, Virginia in 1994. Released a year later by the esteemed Slumberland Records, Stove was Lorelei's final statement until a 2006 reunion precipitated the 2012 comeback LP Enterprising Sidewalks. Slumberland calls Stove "a brave album, blending together a vast array of sounds into a bold statement of the possibilities of pop and rock, heading off in a hundred different directions at the same time, but still remaining a cohesive whole." Mr. Turner below positively assesses the record as "unyielding." Clicky Clicky does not disagree on either count.

Everyone Must Touch The Stove contact sheet.Opener "Today's Shrug" sets the tone with shifting melodies, guitar feedback and the act's endlessly creative and sturdy rhythm section, all of which underpin evocative lyrics and uniquely emotive vocals. Throughout the album, highly technical, stereo guitar effects workouts ("Thigh For A Leg," "Throwaway," and the otherworldly centerpiece "Inside The Crimelab") mingle with power-pop rockers ("Newsprint," "Stop What You’re Doing") and polyrhythmic acoustic instrumentals and interludes ("Day," "Windmill") for a curiously wandering and dreamy listen that seems to exist both within and without the era in which it was created. Even now, Stove's terrific songwriting and artful textures intrigue new fans discovering the record for the first time. While it is Clicky Clicky's experience that we rarely encounter a musician that says they were directly influenced by the band (even paradoxically has nothing to say about the record), it is pretty much the rule that every musician to whom we have introduced Everyone Must Touch The Stove finds it inspiring. To loosely paraphrase one of them, the time is right to reintroduce this exceptional record to people and give it the critical appraisal it deserves.

We had the honor of speaking this fall with Lorelei drummer Davis White, guitarist/singer Matthew Dingee and bassist Stephen Gardner, as well as revered engineer and producer Geoff Turner, about the creation of Stove, their thoughts on the Mid-Atlantic indie-pop scene of the '90s, and the legacy of the record today. Each of them gave highly considerate and detailed answers to our questions, for which we are very grateful. Our exchanges below transport us back to that hopeful, youthful and, above all else, inventive time two decades gone. Press play on the record and join us on our deep dive into Lorelei's 1995 classic, Everyone Must Touch The Stove.
Clicky Clicky: Tell us about how the band first began.

Davis White (drummer): Stephen and I met at an American University dorm party, in September of 1990. Our bands had played a show together earlier that summer and he recognized me. We hatched a plan to start a band faintly resembling Charlatans UK after Christmas break. Stephen was 14 and I was 29. Neither of us really belonged at such a party, so [it was] quite an unlikely meeting. For brevity and to avoid distraction, we will mostly ignore the myriad early line-ups [of Lorelei] from January to September of 1991 involving (original guitarist) Dave Cerf, Stephen and I. That is a story for another time, and I don't want to short-change all the other fine folks we played with. This period produced our first single "The Bitter Air," so it wasn't a total washout. But I would say Lorelei, as we know it today, began with this post-note from Stephen's mom, "Matt from the Lilys called." It has been folded away in my Boss tuner since that day in August 1991.

The post-it note that started it all.Matthew Dingee (guitarist/vocalist): I guess I shouldn't be shocked that Davis has this note. He and Stephen are excellent documentarians. I will say I was definitely formerly of Lilys by that point. [Lilys mastermind] Kurt [Heasley] had been squatting at my apartment while I was in Lilys, which was an awesome arrangement as far as I was concerned (my parents were less enthused). I learned a ton from him and enjoyed it. But that arrangement came to an end, and shortly after I was told by Archie [Moore, of Velocity Girl] that he was my replacement in Lilys. I only mention this because I cannot recall if it was Archie, Kurt, or Mike Schulman who suggested I call Stephen. Regardless, thanks to whomever pushed me in that direction.

DW: Stephen and I had seen Matt a couple of times in Lilys and enjoyed his playing style, recognizing a major The Cure influence. We were ecstatic when he expressed interest in joining us. Dave had moved away to attend his first year at CalArts. So Matt was thrust into playing our legacy material as the replacement guitarist. We played like this for a couple of months, but the old set wasn't sounding very good. By November we had whittled down to a more productive and satisfying trio. We quickly worked up a new set based around songs Matt had written prior to meeting us. The trio first played a fall concert prom at Stephen's high school. To illustrate the timeline, Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit" was riding high on the top of the charts. Two or three of the high school bands covered the song that night. Matt observed that it was going to be "a hard fight for us to compete with all this grunge."

Stephen Gardner (bassist): I got an early start with music through my older sisters and the typical mid-'80s entry point of The Smiths, The Cure, New Order, etc., choosing to learn bass because one of them said it was "cooler than guitar." I followed them straight to the Dischord scene. People always ask us about being from D.C., and while the music [there] had a huge impact on me, it was the fact that there was this totally youth-organized, completely accessible, all-ages environment of kids doing their own thing that was the biggest influence and created a sense of perpetual possibility. Anyway, by 1990 I had played in a few short-lived hardcore bands and had a show with one of Davis's many other bands, Repercussion, who I had seen several times by then. He, sounding like Joe Jackson and playing a mandolin in a band that was somewhere between thrash and early [Elvis] Costello, was hard to forget. A friend and well-known D.C. photographer, Colby Caldwell, whose photos are on most of the Lorelei records, had gotten me into 4AD stuff and my discovery of a succession of EPs from Lush, Pale Saints, Ride, The Boo Radleys, Slowdive and My Bloody Valentine shifted my whole perception about what was possible -- that there was maybe a way to combine the vitality of Rites Of Spring with the harmonic complexity of The Smiths, all wrapped up in this new depth, texture and space I was hearing on these records. [I was] [c]onvinced I needed to start a new band to make that happen...

CC: What was your experience with the people and places of the Mid-Atlantic and D.C. indie-pop/rock scene from 1990-1996? How do you view that era now? In the context of the label's roster and also in hindsight, Lorelei "makes sense," but at the time did you feel like what you were setting out to do fit well within the regional scene, or did you feel like Lorelei was doing something new and alien?

MD: To us the regional scene boiled down to Dischord and then the labels behind Pop Losers: Slumberland, Teen Beat, and Simple Machines. Within that scene, I was staunchly pro-Slumberland and fairly anti- everything else. Slumberland grew into a tight knit family of friends. Mike and I listened to a ton of records together around this time. It was quite an education. It's hard for me to put into words just how important the relationships built at that time are to me. Slumberland is my tribe and I'm still happy they haven't kicked me to the curb.

Lorelei, practice, 1990s.Lorelei as a three-piece didn't start off too far afield from Lilys, though much less refined. We played with bands on other local labels and enjoyed that. But fitting in was the last thing I wanted to do. To Mike's credit, he didn't seem to worry too much about whether the roster fit together. He put out records by the bands he liked. He just happens to have inscrutable taste and so it all fits together in the end. For example, despite the fact that we sound nothing like Small Factory, I'd go completely mental when they played. They were so good and played with such enthusiasm. I wanted to do that.

SG: For all the freedom and self-expression that was happening in the punk scene in 1990, it was pretty clear that, sonically, there tended to be a pretty narrow universe of acceptable sounds and interests, particularly from fans of that stuff. I was always a bit confused about that contradiction, but it was clear to me from the beginning that Lorelei was not going to fit in there or find much following in those circles. But, through Vinyl Ink, the 9:30, and DC Space, the wider world was right there, and I think probably everyone involved in these "other" D.C. scenes has the same basic story of being turned on by D.C. punk and applying that energy and method to whatever else they were into.

We found our way to Slumberland right away through my job at Smash Records and trips to Vinyl Ink in Maryland. I had met Mike Schulman, who worked at Vinyl Ink, and learned he had a label and of his legendary knowledge of just about every genre and phase of modern music. I think the Jane Pow single was the first Slumberland release I heard and I remember being blown away by "Warm Room." On that alone, Dave, our first guitarist, and I walked to Vinyl Ink one day in the spring of '91 with a demo and handed it to Mike. He was the first person we gave it to and, luckily, he quickly helped us get our first show -- with the Lilys -- and the 7" followed thereafter.

From there on, the label and the people interested in it and the bands on it became our home base, both because of and in spite of the diversity on the label. Davis and I still stayed connected to our punk roots all the same, and living in Arlington, Dischord, Teenbeat, and Simple Machines stuff was always around. But, the other Slumberland stuff was surely the least popular of any of the scenes in DC. It's hard to know if we were facing explicit hostility or just indifference, but our entire career was mostly spent playing to 30 people in D.C. However, it's important to remember that despite all these labels and bands coming out of D.C. at the time, it was really a pretty small group of people locally that were coming out to see shows of this punk and indie stuff anyway, so the pot of people who might care was always small to begin with, so we are probably wrong to feel too slighted. Each label tended to have its own core of folks and we'd occasionally politely play together, but the only time I feel like this whole punk/indie community really shared a common scene was when everyone would converge at Fugazi shows.

We were too British for America and not American enough for the UK.CC: How would you describe the progression that the group saw between the "Bitter Air" 7", "Mimesis" from the ...One Last Kiss comp, the Asleep EP and then the full-length?

MD: You can hear the transition on Asleep. Seeing and meeting Moonshake and Stereolab really connected some previously unconnected dots. Specifically, the Krautrock motorik sound connected with "On the Corner," World Domination Enterprises, and Adrian Sherwood. Plus a heavy dose of Beach Boys and The Wedding Present. I was already listening to more aggressive stuff (The Birthday Party, Skullflower, No Wave) and playing with Mike Schulman and Dan Searing in a post-Whorl noise project. By the time we were working on the Asleep tracks, we were trying to accommodate all these disparate sounds and not rule anything out. Despite having the shoegaze label thrown at us, we were hardly staring at our shoes at this point. There was a fair amount of equipment destruction, blood, sweat, and tears. We practiced at least twice a week for several years and played out a fair amount. With the confidence that comes from playing all the time, we had grown more and more adventurous by the time Stove rolled around.

SG: This is when Lorelei starts to sound like ourselves, I think -- plenty of clear influences, but some weird strands of DNA mutating them into something else. All that was influencing our writing in 1993 and when we went to the UK that fall to promote the EP, we had started working on a few Stove tracks, like "A Thigh For A Leg" [and] "Newsprint."

Although the tour was a disaster in many ways -- proving again that I, all of 17, should not have been left to manage most of the booking and business affairs of the band -- it was crucial to the album in two respects. First, we got to meet and see some of our favorite bands on their home turf, which raised our own expectations of what our next release could and should be. Secondly, having met our makers, so to speak, we confronted the reality that we really didn't fit there, either -- we were too British for America and not American enough for the UK. This had the effect of pushing us away a bit from the Asleep songs and our past influences and making us more determined to follow our impulses and play to our strength -- our diversity of interests -- with more confidence.

CC: What was it like in the time and preparation leading up to recording Stove?

MD: It took what felt like forever for anything to come out. Both in terms of how long it took us to create new songs, as well as the length of time it took a release to reach listeners. Thus I didn't want to include anything from a prior release on the album. Lorelei is all about not repeating. We only started repeating set lists recently (because we have less time now to practice now than we did then). In fact, we had lots of songwriting... guidelines let's say... one of which was that Stephen and I very rarely, if ever, intentionally played the same chord or note at the same time. Repeating a track would have been heresy. That said, Stove, like the rest of our output, is hardly lacking in epics. There is a reason there is a track missing from the vinyl: It would not physically fit!

SG: Our first session for Stove was in February 1994, and we had spent the previous fall and early winter, after returning from our UK tour, writing the first batch of songs. Since we wrote collaboratively during practice sessions, the writing process usually took a long time, and I think we felt pressure to get into the studio, both to capitalize on whatever momentum we had gotten from Asleep, and because the clock was ticking on the band. I had deferred college a year in the fall of '93 to keep things moving with Lorelei and work some before hitting the books again. I think we all knew that the band's future was somewhat in question once I left for school, and that this was our chance to make a great LP. Our own expectations were set high, and having developed a better understanding of the recording process and done Asleep with Geoff Turner, we were anxious to try new things out.

Geoff Turner (engineer, producer): In that time period my studio WGNS was recording records for local independent labels like Teenbeat, Simple Machines, Dischord, Jade Tree, et al. Lorelei was a good fit for our place. They were all recording enthusiasts and had their own studio. They were also hopeless record-dissecting geeks. Listening back to the album 20 years later, I'm pleasantly surprised by how unyielding the record is, with odd song structures, abrupt time signature changes, and sonic bombast. It's really epic, but not an album with tons of what you'd call (in early '90s speak) "cross-over potential."

Conflict is how Lorelei works.CC: What was it like recording with Geoff?

DW: I had known Geoff in passing from the '80s hardcore scene. A friend of mine had joined a Dag Nasty offshoot band and they were recording at WGNS. I tagged along. Sitting in the control room, the convenient Arlington location and equipment impressed me. "How do I get Lorelei in here?" I wondered. We had been using a studio in Maryland for "Bitter Air" and "Mimesis." Due to year-long bridge construction it required a very inconvenient drive to get there. The band were reluctant (to varying degrees) when I suggested using Geoff's studio for the upcoming Asleep EP — worried we would end up with an "American-" or "punk rock"- sounding record and wanting to remain loyal to our previous producer. Matt and Stephen were students; being the only full-time worker, I probably strong-armed them into accepting WGNS by refusing to pay for anyplace else. Conflict is how Lorelei works, something the other mates celebrate more than I do. More examples to come, dear interview reader! Geoff quickly won over the guys via a studio tour, and the recording and mixing sessions went well for these four songs.

SG: I was a big fan of Geoff's earlier bands Gray Matter and Three, particularly of Gray Matter's Take It Back EP. It's probably true that I was longing for a Guy Fixsen production -- which we'd eventually get to do on Enterprising Sidewalks -- and depressed that such a thing was obviously impossible when Davis brought up WGNS and Geoff. But from my recollection, I was excited about working with Geoff and secretly hopeful that he'd turn out to be someone from my early cast of heroes that was actually into what we were trying to do. He turned out to be just that, plus exceedingly patient with our strange band dynamic, relentlessly positive, open to trying just about anything, and full of good ideas. He really was a good fit for us...

Stop What You're Doing tape.DW: After [our] sobering tour of England for Asleep -- documented in Robert Salsbury's [tour film] "If You Don’t Try, Nothing Ever Happens" -- we agreed the next step would be an album. There was a feeling that if the band broke up without being able to produce even one album, it would render Lorelei a failure. My slacker job doing graphics at a print shop did not pay enough to record at WGNS again. We borrowed ADATs and microphones from my previous band and did most of the tracking ourselves. We recorded at Stephen's house in the woods of North Arlington. Committed to continue working with Geoff, we were able to do select overdubs and mix the album with him. The first session produced "Thigh For A Leg," "Newsprint," "Windmill" and "Stop What You're Doing." Geoff seemed to enjoy the freedom that came with not making a spartan punk rock record. His own projects Senator Flux and New Wet Kojak were very innovative and somewhat before their time. Geoff saw that we were game for complicated sound-effects and unnatural timbres. Nothing was automated, so the effects were done live during the mix, often requiring three sets of hands and 20 minutes of set-up. There was a look of joy on his face when he heard the finished effect. Trying to keep Geoff happy and hiding any major band dysfunction from him was my goal for a time.

MD: We mixed some of the tracks in Avalon Studio in Bethesda, MD, which was well-equipped. I very distinctly recall that Geoff used every single piece of equipment in the place for the climax of "Crimelab." He genuinely seemed to enjoy that we wanted to push what could be accomplished in a studio at that time. He was a willing and enthusiastic collaborator. Geoff also put up with a significant amount of in-band bickering, which I didn't appreciate nearly enough at the time. Thanks, Geoff! I'm not sure why he tolerated us, honestly. I'm not sure I would have had the patience if I were in his shoes.

WGNS was a comfortable place to record, which is crucial. We didn't have to explain ourselves to Geoff. He got what we were about. So in that way it was huge relief to not have to go into a hostile environment and record. It sounds stupid now, but at the time we really were concerned that if we went to Inner Ear, for example, that our record would come out sounding... not like us. Just getting someone to try what you wanted to try in a studio was not a given. There were plenty of places that would have happily taken our money and not helped us much at all. I can't recall a single instance of Geoff discouraging us from trying something. As Stephen mentioned, Geoff was infinitely patient with us and I'm eternally grateful.

DW: Yes, the second set of songs were mixed four months later at Avalon. Geoff had worked out a deal with owner Steve Murphy to use the studio during down time at a discount rate. Matt had borrowed Stephen's 4-track and composed most of the remaining songs in a couple of weeks. The arrangements were done quickly and recorded at Stephen's house while the songs were still fresh. I was barely able to make it through many of them during tracking, as the drum parts were trickier. "Throwaway" has a particularly bizarre, looping beat, but it wasn't jungle-inspired. The band had rejected my initial, simple 2-4 snare. On the spot I came up with the stupidest rhythm I could think of to appease them. The joke was on me, as it sounded perfect. Matt adjusted his part to fit the new syncopations and off it went.

We had finally achieved a unique band voice.Overdubs were done over the next two weeks. The heavily-layered guitars were tri-amped through a Danelectro 3x10 combo, Acoustic 4x12, and Fender Bassman, live-mixed to one track. Looking at the tracking sheet, we had 4-7 tracks reserved for guitar out of the 16 available tracks on the ADATs. The unusual instruments [borrowed] from the Woodlawn [school] instrument room for this session included a double bass, some tuned woodblocks, conga drum and the Gardner family piano. Through a fortunate error, a cheesy orchestral percussion track on "Crimelab" did not get transferred to the 24-track mixing tape at Avalon.

"Crimelab," "Today's Shrug," and "Quiet Staid Debt," were mixed on a Friday night and Saturday at Avalon. My insistence that we dial-down the excesses on "Debt" -- as I wanted prominent, uncompressed, crystal clear, jazz-drums -- well, it sure put me on the bad side of Geoff and the group. I left the session mid-day, after that track was mixed, having worn out my welcome. "Day," "Throwaway," and "Pillar" were mixed without me. This explains why (among other "innovations") the snare drum is panned 100% left on the last track. Snickering aside, when I first heard these mixes I was struck that the final product "didn’t sound like anything else." We had finally achieved a unique band voice. If it was unmarketable, so be it.

CC: How was the experience of recording the album? Fond memories and stand-out experiences?

DW: After transferring the ADAT to Geoff's 1-inch 16-track machine, we did a couple of overdub sessions for the first group of songs. I remember walking into his studio and Matt was flat on his back singing "Windmill" into the bottom of a piano. I knew it was going to be a weird afternoon. Stephen directed me to "help unload the car." We doubled-up on marimba, Matt played a dissected Hammond organ that Geoff was fixing, some group percussion was added, [it was all] totally spontaneous and enjoyable.

SG: I remember very little of the first session, but recall that we took over my house for the tracking, with different instruments set up in different rooms so we could experiment with additions once we got basics down. I remember playing the xylophone parts on "Quiet Staid Debt" on my bathroom floor. In those pre-Pro-Tools days, we spent a lot of time getting takes right or overlooking imperfections for the sake of overall sound or feel. Davis did all the engineering, which was a godsend, and I think Matt and I did overdubs separately with him. We had very little money for the band and almost always lost more than we made per show, so the fact that Davis was a good engineer with lots of his own and borrowed gear was a big advantage. If we had had to pay someone to engineer during the tracking phase, we would not have been able to spend nearly as much time as we did on those songs.

MD: I recall that we did the basic tracks fairly quickly because, again, we were playing often at this time, and so the songs were well-rehearsed. Then we spent forever and a day on overdubs because we were definitely in a "more is more" frame of mind. I can only imagine what we would have created if we had access to a tool like Ableton Live back then. We would have gone ballistic.

Then, vocals were also done fairly quickly. I was being petulant and wanted the vocal delivery to feel "live," or at least sound like one cohesive performance. So I think some of the tracks might even be one take. There was a fair amount of punk attitude in me at this time, and I suppose that's where it shows the most. It was like "Fuck it. Doing it in one take. Not worth the time. Let's mix again!" We did not scrutinize every line like we do now. If there is anything I would change about the record, it would be most of the vocals ("Crimelab" and "Windmill" are okay, but the rest could use some assistance).

GT: My memories of recording this album are almost completely fragmented. Obviously this album was mixed in a pre-ProTools, analog console world, so all of the dynamic and tonal changes, shifting effects, and fader moves were mixed down live by hand to the master tape. When I think back to the sessions, I just remember all of us sitting in close proximity over the board debating mix moves. I joined in these debates willingly. There were a lot of manifestos delivered during the sessions, but I don't recall much stress or hassle. They indulged in constant but good natured goading and ridicule amongst themselves, but that was all really funny and OK. I don't remember eating good food or going out much, [so] we must have been working really hard.

"Inside The Crimelab" still stands as one of my favorite mixing sessions and I’ve had déjà vu back to that day while working with other bands. We built this mix that was so geometrically crisscrossed with delay paths and wobbly instrument treatments that it was completely disorienting even to us during the mix. That song still has that temporal rift effect for me listening back 20 years on, the beat and stereo space just seems so bent by the mixing.

Stove test pressing.Matt would go out into the studio, actually I believe we sent him into the tiny studio restroom, to record these crazy emo-fueled shrieking freakouts, like cathartic vocal outbursts. These were overdubs and were mixed in low during the parts of the songs when the guitars detonated your speakers. I can't remember which songs had these screaming tracks, but on re-listening I'm imagining that I'm hearing them on every song all over the album, which is cool.

The band really acted as their own "producer" and by the recording of Stove they had devised an arrangement wherein each band member assumed the role of executive producer for certain songs. So Davis's opinion (for example) was given the most weight for the recording and mixing direction on that particular song and became like his mini-fiefdom. This worked out really well, brought variety to the album and cut the endless discussions and bullying to a minimum.

CC: There seems to be a lot of less-conventional recording techniques and details within the songs, including very uniquely panned tremolos, delay sounds and distortion effects. What’s going on there? What inspired that? How much of it was a reaction to other things happening at the time?

SG: Partly, this comes from just getting deeper into the recording process and listening much more for production. Davis entered the band already knowing what he was doing in the studio, but Matt and I both came to really understand production through recording in Lorelei, which in turn, changed the way we both listened to records and what we wanted from our own. As cliché as it may be, we had come to see the studio as another member of the band and wanted to put that new member to work. The other factor is that we had way more gear at our disposal than normal in the mixing process, so part of this is just the desire to use all the toys we had.

Lorelei, Black Cat, May 1996.DW: Geoff and the band would ponder each of the 16 instrument tracks with a "what can we do to this" attitude. Sometimes, one simple change, such as "Crimelab's" distorted conga drum that Geoff came up with, would redefine the song. This would influence the next effect, and the one after that, until we ran out of patches. The bass guitar was spared any tinkering and had a simple chain throughout. It was recorded direct, then run through a Peavey tube preamp during the mix. Stephen didn't yet have his amazing Acoustic 360 bass "refrigerator" for much of the recording of the album, unfortunately.

MD: I believe Lydia Lunch said something along the lines of "Do anything but start a guitar/bass/drums 3-piece" in regards to the birth of No Wave. I became enamored with the idea that our setup was just done, cooked, over. That resulted in my trying to torture and mutate the guitar sound into something else. Mainly because I could not adequately play anything else, but also because we recognized that mutation in the bands we enjoyed. Look at Slowdive and Seefeel: guitars are certainly there, but they hardly sound like a guitar plugged into a RAT distortion pedal and then into an amp. [T]hat is essentially what most bands around us were doing and I just found that... underwhelming.

But the other thing to mention here is that Lorelei as a three-piece has always had alternately tuned guitars (inspired by Sonic Youth and Bailter Space). "Stale Houses" [from Asleep] is the last song I played a traditional tuning on. I use an open tuning (EAEABE), and that combined with distortion and EQ helps me generate this giant, full sound that lends itself to the effects and manipulation you hear on the record. That sense of experimentation, wanting to have a unique guitar sound, being inspired by noise, controlling and warping of sound is there from the very start and continues through all of our material.

CC: How was the public and critical reception to the album at the time of its release in your view? Was there a tour in support?

SG: We finished mixing the LP in June or July of '94 and it would take over a year for it to come out. Like all of our releases, the time it took to get the record out was a complete killer. These delays were always due to some combo of our incompetence, Slumberland's challenges with money, distribution, etc., and just the way things worked then. My recollection is that the release was essentially ignored. Part of that was our fault. I was already starting my second year of college, so we had really reduced the amount of shows we were playing, plus we had all started other projects to fill in for Lorelei while we couldn't play together. Of course, we didn't have a press or booking agent, and didn't tour for the record because, by then, time was limited and we could never seem to make touring cover our costs. So, it was pretty much destined to fail, but in addition to these self-inflicted factors, I'm sure we faced the normal hostility or disregard we had experienced from most of the US music press. I think The Ropers' All The Time, which was released together with Stove by Slumberland that same week, faced a similar response. While there was some solace in the fact that other great records [of that time] like Bark Psychosis' Hex and Disco Inferno's DI Go Pop... which seemed to be springing from the same well as us, were getting ignored, too, we struggled to understand what to do about it.

CC: So what happened next?

Stove release show with The Wedding Present.SG: We played several shows that summer and fall of 1995 and into the winter with the release of the LP, for which we had a single record-release show in D.C., being pretty sick of the songs by then since they were all more than a year old. We had written a new batch of songs during the summer of '95, most of which we recorded then but didn't mix until 2001, long after we had disbanded. Our last show was in early 1996 in Baltimore at a strip club that had occasional shows. One of my best Lorelei memories was of Matt taking a running leap, guitar-first, into the stripper'’s pole, with the pole working like a giant slide against the fret board. With me back in school in Massachusetts, everyone with new projects, and us with an LP we felt proud of but that failed to register with nearly anyone, it seemed pretty obvious that the time had come to pack it up. Luckily, the end was not acrimonious and, despite lots of challenges between us, I think we all left the band as friends, feeling like we had accomplished something important and with our respect and admiration for each other intact. This was obviously essential to our later work together.

DW: Band activity was next to zero after a brief flurry of shows to promote the album. Tired of dealing with the acrimony, I had adopted a "teamster" persona by this time, contributing only minimally to anything new. We limped along during Stephen's college breaks until Matt decided to move to San Francisco. I was sad to see him go, but relieved the band was over. When I heard the news, I gave out a dramatic 20-second exhale.

MD: We moved apart. I released a Lorelei EP on my label Textilesounds. Then I moved back to the area in 2006 and we made Enterprising Sidewalks, which we hope folks will also find and enjoy over time.

We were there.CC: One of my favorite music articles is Nitsuh Abebe's Pitchfork piece "The Lost Generation," which includes Stove as a defining work of the hard-to-categorize post-rock movement. What are your thoughts regarding that? Do you feel that there was "something in the air" during that time that led to the kind of innovations that he mentions?

MD: It’s nice to be included in the same breath as Disco Inferno, Laika, Pram, Main, etc. I'm not sure I would put Stove at the same level as Laika or Main. They are operating at a different level.

I do rankle a little bit at being put into the "Followers and Fellow Travelers." I don't know which one applies to us, but it feels a bit like the "also rans." I mean, we are American despite not being from Chicago. And if you look at when our record was recorded... there is no way we are a follower of any other American band that you would describe as post-rock. We were recording at the same time as those "Lost Generation" bands. So, for what it is worth, we were there. We were there in that same head space at that same time. You would have had to come to D.C. to see it, but it was here to see.

But in the end we're all quite pleased that the record has found an audience over time. None of the divisions in sound, place, time, [or] label matter as much any longer. At times it was frustrating, but for the most part it was an exciting time to be making music.
It makes sense that a band as forward-thinking as Lorelei would not take much time to pause and consider the nostalgia and historical context of the first chapter of its career. One could argue that this was exemplified quite effectively by its comeback record Enterprising Sidewalks, which further expanded the trio's sounds and philosophies within a contemporary context. This author was also, admittedly, unsure how to cap this interview following their sense that Stove saw little fanfare upon release. It's a shame, to be sure. But, in the weeks following our conversations with the band, a silver lining materialized. Lorelei has just disclosed that -- partially inspired by this interview -- it will play Everyone Must Touch The Stove in its entirety at The Black Cat in Washington, D.C. on Dec. 28. While more details about that special event are forthcoming (and we will be sure to alert you within these electronic pages), it is yet another important step toward ensuring that this special piece of art not only establishes its proper place in the pantheon of innovative rock music, but also bends the ears of a new generation of women and men who -- like the members of Lorelei 20 years ago -- enjoy the thrill of pure discovery. For fans in the market for a copy, Slumberland currently has the CD on sale for a ridiculously reasonable price. If you're not already listening to the record as you read these words, stream the entire set via the YouTube embed below.

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