September 25, 2015

Today's Hotness: Johnny Foreigner, Presents For Sally

DK082: Playlounge / Doe / Johnny Foreigner / Doctrines - Split 12' EP (detail)

>> Today is a lot of things. Like this happened and this happened and this happened. But today was also the day that UK It labels Alcopop! Records and Dog Knights Productions released a terrific quad-split 12" featuring Clicky Clicky all-time-faves Johnny Foreigner and regular-time faves Playlounge, along with top peer acts Doe and Doctrines. Each band contributes two exclusive tracks, and Johnny Foreigner's "All Yr Favourite Bands Are Dead" and "Flooding" are the first new songs we've heard from the band since the release of its titanic 2014 LP You Can Do Better [review]. We've been able to listen to "All Yr Favourite Bands Are Dead" for months since the split LP was announced, and it delivers in a big way. The tune is a fetching and waltz-timed admonition that firmly pokes at the eyes of bands that re-form only to parade past glories. And while it can be hard to swallow given such criticism potentially condemns greatest-of-all-time rock combos The Replacements (who, of course, already kind of condemned themselves), Archers Of Loaf, and Pavement, it is still harder not to sing along with Johnny Foreigner's incisive and typically weapons-grade chorus "no new songs, we'll just play the old ones, once a strident voice turned to karaoke." It is well worth noting that the Doe, Doctrines and Playlounge tunes on the split that are streaming now all rock hard, and we are eager for our copy to arrive in the mail so we can hear all eight cuts. The record is available now on yellow 12" vinyl from Alcopop! and orange 12" vinyl from Dog Knights, and we expect it will eventually be available as a digital download, as half the songs are sitting right here at Dog Knights' Bandcamp dojo. £10 will get you either 12", but £18 will get you both, obsessives, so hit up the Alcopop! store before these are all gone. Stream four of the eight aforementioned songs via the Bandcamp embed below. While we've got you here, we would also like to report that there is a new tune from Yr Friends out there in the digital ether available for ear huffing. Avid readers will recall that Yr Friends is the (increasingly active) solo vehicle of JoFo fronter Alexei Berrow, and the project landed a terrific cover version of All Saints' "Pure Shores" (also embedded below) on a recently issued digital compilation called Sad Girls Clubbing, which can be downloaded for free right here. Readers will likely also recall Mr. Berrow collaboration with JoFo drummer Junior Elvis Washington Laidley's Fridge Poetry project, which is brilliantly called Yr Poetry. There is apparently a new Yr Poetry EP in the works, so life will continue to be pretty grand for some time.

>> To what can we attribute the rhythmic bounce that propels "Wishawaytoday," the deliriously great summer single that served as the harbinger for Presents For Sally's recently released sophomore set Colours & Changes? My Bloody Valentine's blindingly brilliant "Drive It All Over Me" is an obvious reference point, but we suppose the rhythm also echoed prominently within the Madchester sound that followed on its heels at the dawn of the nineties (think Northside's woozy banger "Take 5," The Wonderstuff's earth-shaking "Caught In My Shadow"). Ultimately, from whence it sprang is no matter: "Wishawaytoday" is fantastic, and we suppose the delicate, shifting vocal harmonies in the verses may actually be the most arresting thing about the tune. Also notable is the record's richly ethereal title track, which again applies a dance-able beat but also emphasizes the Bristol, England-based gaze trio's strengths composing beautiful ambient instrumentals. Colours & Changes elsewhere is filled with spectral vocals and crumbling guitars and strong vibes, with the pensive "Sing" approaching but not quite matching the giddy appeal of the aforementioned single. Saint Marie Records released Colours & Changes Sept. 11 as an LP, CD and digital download. All three formats are presently available via Darla Records' digital storefront; the 250-piece color vinyl edition is apparently nearly sold out, so act fast if you are so jazzed. Presents For Sally formed in 2009 and issued its debut long-player A Touch of Joy, A Touch of Sadness the following year; the threesome has also issued a few singles and a compilation track. Stream "Wishawaytoday" via the Bandcamp embed below, and watch a video for the cut right here.

September 15, 2015

Clicky Clicky Presents: A Very Clicky Clicky September with Dæphne, Elizabeth Colour Wheel and Beeef | O'Brien's Pub, Allston | 16 Sept.

Clicky Clicky Presents: A Very Clicky Clicky September with Dæphne, Elizabeth Colour Wheel and Beeef | O'Brien's Pub, Allston | 16 Sept.

In case you've not yet heard, yr friends at Clicky Clicky are putting on some rock shows in glamorous Allston Rock City™ this fall and into the new year. The first is tomorrow night, when rock fans who assemble at O'Brien's Pub can catch an evening of now sounds from jangle-mongers Beeef, stormy shoegazers Elizabeth Colour Wheel, and the pensive dream-pop purveyors Dæphne.

Beeef, a new-ish act that counts among its number journalist Perry Eaton (Allston Pudding,, released unto the Interwebs last spring a strong, eponymous EP that paired irrefutably catchy surf-styled guitar licks with Mr. Eaton's lively paeans to Boston living. While all four numbers on Beeef are winners, the one jam to rule them all is "Dogshit Paradise." Here the band steers an efficient and sturdy bass line through an extended workout as Eaton waxes on the mundanity of morning commutes and dirty student domiciles.

Attentive readers will recall our previously spreading the good news far and wide about Elizabeth Colour Wheel, and not just because their name totes references blog forever faves Lilys. There was this piece, and then there was this piece; good times. Having seen the quintet rock basements and Berklee parties within and without Allston, we can confirm that its live set can be transcendent, and so we are pleased to also have Elizabeth Colour Wheel on the bill tomorrow.

As with ECW, we dubbed Dæphne a Boston band to watch based purely on the strength of a formidable four-track demo, this one surfacing late last year. We went so far as to deem their tune "Driving Down a Country Highway Blasting Weezer" one of the best of 2014. Dæphne is hatching plans to ditch the best coast for a life anew out west and we will wish them great success in their future endeavors when the time comes. But in the meantime there is rock to be rocked (not to mention, apparently, a debut LP to release), and we are pleased to host the quartet for what may or may not amount to one of its last gigs in town.

There might be an additional detail or two at this Facebook event page, but that is largely the size of it. We beseech you to come early tomorrow, maybe enjoy a beer or two if you so choose, and then of course stay late. In that exact order. Also bring earplugs. If you've not yet memorized the three EPs referenced supra, we have embedded them below for your listening pleasure. -- Dillon Riley

September 13, 2015

Today's Hotness: Funeral Advantage, Her Magic Wand, Break Up Flowers

Funeral Advantage by Chris McKenna, 2015 (detail)

>> We've persistently loved our idea of what M83 could be more than we actually loved M83 itself. The France-spawned but now LA-based project helmed by Anthony Gonzalez edged close to some sort of New Order-ish ideal (of an electropop band that irresistibly incorporated guitars into a dreamy sound) with its 2008 breakthrough Saturdays = Youth, and particularly its arresting single "Graveyard Girl." But Gonzalez had and has his own desires and agenda, and while these led him to great success with his succeeding albums, they never quite intersected with what we wanted the band to be. This continually crossed our mind in recent weeks as we listened obsessively to the flawless debut long-player from Boston dream-pop gigantes Funeral Advantage. The 10-song set Body Is Dead would seem to take "Graveyard Girl" as a stylistic jumping-off point to a certain extent, and the results are perfection. We discussed two preview singles, "Sisters" and "Gardensong," here in July. But the entire record is replete with dramatic and melancholy dream-pop the likes of which aptly soundtracked certain of our John Hughes-accompanied youths. Body Is Dead opens with the sparkling, perhaps Bloc Party-inspired "Equine," which whispers its secrets into delays and reverbs while a crisp beat propels the proceedings. "Should Have Just" similarly murmurs sweet nothings a la Mr. Okereke, but the tune is spangled by steady tambourine and clean, mesopheric guitar leads. The 10-minute-plus title track warrants special notice because it takes the rhythmic and melodic elements of the rest of the record -- not to mention the serene romance -- to a logical compositional terminus, successfully applying same to create a protracted, steadily spiraling composition of pop ambience worthy of the Kompakt series (someone please commission Axel Wilner for a 20-minute remix of same). Body Is Dead will rate high in our annual year-end list of best albums. The collection is available now on LP and as a digital download from The Native Sound here, and in a limited edition of 100 cassettes from Disposable America right here. Stream the entire, stellar collection via the Bandcamp embed below.

>> When we last wrote about Parisian dream-pop project Her Magic Wand here in these electronic pages in late 2014, the act had just issued "Everything At Once," a single from a planned LP. And while that LP has not yet materialized, the act is set to release later this month its Blossom EP. The short set leads with "Everything At Once," but perhaps more notably the A-side also features a remix of same executed by Grandaddy's Jason Lytle. Somewhat coincidentally, just hours after receiving an email about Blossom from Her Magic Wand mastermind Charles Braud, the Grandaddy reunion was announced; timing! Mr. Lytle's thoughtful and balanced deconstruction of the tune layers in a thin harmony vocal, a recognizable proclivity from the ol' Grandaddy tool set, and elsewhere erects tall walls of dense guitars in the mix. The final minute of the remix swells and burbles with electronic tones, elegantly interrupting the lock-step 4/4 of the original version to create something more nuanced and expansive. The b-side to Blossom features two tunes, "Draw A Line" and "Love Letters," and the entire collection will be released via Darla on 10" vinyl and as a digital download Sept. 18 in the USA (the EP will also be released in Japan and Europe via two other labels). Mr. Braud tells us a full-length is still in the offing, and will arrive Jan. 29. In the meantime, listen to both versions of "Everything At Once" via the Soundcloud embed below, and click here to purchase the collection from Darla.

>> While many in Portland hipster circles continue to champion slick "PBR&B" [Oh my god is that a thing. -- Ed.] acts and clean-cut rock outfits, the city’s DIY scene flourishes unabated in the underground. There a wealth of inventive and expressive guitar pop bands are peaking, achieving a fever-pitch of output, and drawing deserved attention within and without the scene. And there near the fore is the trio Break Up Flowers, whose seven-song, limited-edition cassette Man Made Path streeted Aug. 11 via Brooklyn's strong Mirror Universe Tapes. The matter-of-fact jam "Take Hints" was the preview single from the collection; its spare, gritty guitar and bass lines grind against a steady, tom-heavy beat as fronter Beth Wooten's calm vocals coolly warn "just give me my two cents, just take my some of my hints." Ms. Wooten's singing recalls that marking '90s greats such as Tsunami and the many projects of Mary Timony, as well as modern practitioners such as the mighty Speedy Ortiz – groups literate and thoughtful with a subtle temper and aggression that provide ready inspiration for young women rockers (and, at least in the instant case, by design: Ms. Wooten also heads Portland’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Camp For Girls). Further, Mac Pogue's laissez-faire production work situates listeners in the cassette's earspace like the best of the no-nonsense, realist gurus including Steve Albini. The result? Not only a promising debut from the kind of band we'd like to see more of, but also a hopeful sign of things to come as the reach of the underground extends toward the overground. Man Made Path is available from Mirror Universe now, and you can stream "Take Hints" via the embed below. -- Edward Charlton

September 11, 2015

Premiere: White Laces' Lysergic Video For "Keith Sweat"

Richmond future-pop leading lights White Laces later this fall will begin an extended hiatus from playing live in order to finish writing its next LP. But the cube-gleaming quartet is leaving fans with certain tokens of its spacey affection, including seven shows in the next month, a planned free mini album titled No Floor, and the brand-spanking-new video above for its cracking tune "Keith Sweat." The video presents a study in iterations, almost respirations, as it seems to breathe as motion cycles among its oily layers. The clip was created by friend of the band and first-time auteur Wolfgang Daniel, whose abstract and sensual imagery here represents a bit of a departure from his earlier work, but makes for an engaging accompaniment to White Laces' uptempo rocker. The cascading "Keith Sweat" was a highlight of White Laces' most recent collection, the 2014 breakthrough LP Trance [review], which earned the band both a berth on the Happenin' Records roster and a coveted slot opening for Philadelphia vibe kings The War On Drugs during a U.S. tour last year.

Like Trance, the forthcoming No Floor is being produced by Philadelphia studio savant Jeff Zeigler (whose hands and ears have touched almost every major release out of that city in recent years, and whose own heavily anticipated solo record remains as yet unreleased). The mixing and mastering for No Floor are not yet complete, but White Laces aims to offer the short stack as a free download to fans during its upcoming break from playing shows; a limited-edition cassette release is also contemplated. As for the Richmond act's hiatus, it remains to be seen exactly how inactive the band will be during the six months ("We've always been really bad at taking breaks," fronter and guitarist Landis Wine told us), but as fans we certainly hope the break is productive -- and as short as practicable. There are seven more chances to see White Laces in the flesh before it hits the proverbial locker room for a spell, including a day show at the highly regarded Hopscotch Festival in Raleigh, N.C. today; we've listed all the shows -- including a bunch with the stellar Myrrias -- below. Watch the clip for "Keith Sweat" above, and stream all of Trance via the embed below the show listings.

09.11 -- Bad Grrrl/Negative Fun Hopscotch Day Party --Raleigh, NC
09.24 -- Triple Crossing Brewery -- Richmond, VA
09.29 -- Ortlieb's w/Myrrias -- Philadelphia, PA
09.30 -- Balliceaux w/Myrrias -- Richmond, VA
10.01 -- Slim's w/Myrrias -- Raleigh, NC
10.03 -- The Garage w/Myrrias -- Winston-Salem, NC
10.04 -- The Ante w/Myrrias -- Charlottesville, VA

Selected Prior White Laces Coverage:
Clicky Clicky Music Blog's Top Songs of 2014 (Jay Edition)
Review: White Laces | Trance
White Laces Sign To Happenin, Trance Due Oct. 7
Today's Hotness: White Laces
Today's Hotness: White Laces
Today's Hotness: White Laces
Review: White Laces | Moves
And Then This Happened: White Laces | Muthership | 13 July

September 4, 2015

Today's Hotness: Sabonis, National Park Service, Media Jeweler

Sabonis -- Sabonis (detail)

Portland's fledgling Good Cheer Records has in it first year made a name for itself as a bastion for the city's endangered under-age and DIY art communities. For a locale that puts such an emphasis on craft-brewed, alcoholic fun (and the rising rents and privileged patrons that accompany it), there has been a surprising amount of push-back in The City of Roses against some of the more challenging, creative and young individuals around -- a circumstance as unfortunate as it is expected. Thankfully, Good Cheer is fighting the good fight, documenting on cassette some of the more original and energetic guitar-pop bands the city has to offer. Among these is co-ed quintet Sabonis, whose twinkling, self-titled debut EP combines indie pop melodrama with introspective post-hardcore guitar lines. It's a sonic amalgamation that suggests an affinity for the more melodic Mike Kinsella projects, such as Owls and American Football, Clicky Clicky favorites each. The highlight of Sabonis' five-song release is undoubtedly the opener "More Time," in which male and female vocals couple in catchy mantras contemplating an instantly fraying relationship. The clear and sturdy production works wonders to highlight the neatly arrayed triple guitar attack, not to mention the thoughtfulness and subtlety of the lyrics. The deft interplay suggests a unit so capable that it need never resort to heavy handedness. "You left in slow motion, I watched in real time," sing Edward Beaudin and Maya Stoner -– a simple and devastating couplet that emphasizes the group's carefully considered songwriting. The song "Mother Of All Ghosts" rocks to an inevitable tempo, its palpable mesh of guitars and downcast lyrics establishing a mood akin to that of an anxious Interpol b-side Sabonis was issued Aug. 15 in a limited edition of 100 cassettes and as a digital download, either of which can be purchased via the act's Bandcamp dojo. Stream all of Sabonis via the embed below. -- Edward Charlton

In the late autumn of 2013, we were bowled over by the Lakewood, Ohio ambient/experimental project National Park Service and its fantastic I Was Flying cassette. The set's mix of pastoral acoustic looping, post-shoegaze delay guitar, synthetic drones and transporting samples was the perfect headphone accompaniment to the season's crisp, cool air and ephemeral longing. Imagine our delight at recently discovering new music from the mysterious act, a recently issued album called '97 Tracer. The seven-song set surfaced in June, but was superseded by a 14-song deluxe version Aug. 11. The physical release of the latter was issued by PSI Labs/Guest Room Records in a hyper-limited edition of cassettes that immediately sold out; a small number of the original seven-song tape -- perhaps from a second edition of 40 -- remain available; both versions are available as a pay-what-you-like digital download. The opening salvo of each version, "So Fucked Up on Drugs," sets the mood, trading in the carefully multi-tracked approach of Flying for something more live and electric. Speaking of flying, it would be negligence not to mention that the track echoes the early work of Bristol, England legends Flying Saucer Attack in the layered feedback chords and clanging strings marking the tune's first four minutes. After that, surprisingly, a live snare presents in the mix, grounding the piece while reminding the listener of The National Park Service's restlessness. Much of '97 Tracer maps a similar aesthetic, inviting the listener into a world of harsh noises that nonetheless retain the curious beauty of the project's previous work. The title track erupts into squeals before etablishing a low hum as the piece burns away via a steadily crumbling fade. While much of the original version of '97 Tracer concerns itself with crushing volume, the deluxe edition's bonus tracks showcase a softer side. "The Moment Has Passed" resurrects the drums of "So Fucked Up" and contrasts them with looping, rickety acoustic guitars. Highlight "Head Injury" behaves similarly, while setting a pulsing, two-chord guitar and piano groove against a dream-pop background, highlighting NPS' elegant melodies. If I Was Flying was the soundtrack to the feeling of the fall, this new release makes the case for serving as the hot and humid accompaniment to the increasingly fleeting dog days of summer; it's a meticulously arranged monument to the introspection of a very certain moment. Stream and download the deluxe version of '97 Tracer via the embed below, or purchase the original on cassette here while supplies last. -- Edward Charlton

>> Santa Ana, California quartet Media Jeweler caught our attention last month with its spastic, jazzy instrumental track "No Exit," one of three striking preview songs from the foursome's forthcoming debut album $99 R/T Hawaii. The LP successfully captures the very randomness its title suggests; it's due Sept. 18 via Brooklyn's Fire Talk Records. The seven-track blast enlists clean, caterwauling guitar leads and drum rolls to ensnare listeners within Media Jeweler's inspired logic and arrangement sensibilities. A press release referenced members emerging from the ashes of a "revolving door big-band," suggesting the members of Media Jeweler share a background in California post-hardcore or emo, and the band's noodling riffage, wanton horn playing, constantly changing rhythms and sharp, destructive drums cause this reviewer to imagine a killer house-show scene germinated its happy-go-lucky, youthful vitality. The aforementioned tune erupts into such an awesome atonal breakdown shortly after the first minute that this reviewer is fully prepared to invoke the name of math rock gods Polvo. The loping "Passport Invalid" fuses chanted group vocals to the controlled disorder, while the third preview tune "Autopilot" injects James Chance-styled free-jazz energy into Media Jeweler's clanging universe via some inspired horn playing, allowing us to posit a thrilling union of Californian hardcore and No Wave. $99 R/T Hawaii touts excellent production work from certain folks that have worked with Battles and Lightning Bolt (very fitting), and a stunning mastering job from XOQ (Liars, Factory Floor, etc.) further embellishes this impressive collection. The album is available now for pre-order in a limited edition of 200 translucent pink or a standard issue black vinyl 12", or as a digital download. Stream the aforementioned three tracks via the embed below, and click through to purchase. Media Jeweler embarked last night on a strand of west coast dates, which can be reviewed right here. -- Edward Charlton