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.