September 27, 2016

Review: Lubec | Cosmic Debt

Dreamy underpop heroes Lubec return this week with a compelling sophomore sinfonietta, a collection that sees the Portland, Ore. trio table some of the widescreen optimism of its titanic 2014 full-length The Thrall to engage darker, more domestic themes. Although the relatively concise new set Cosmic Debt doesn't sprawl in the same attractively bohemian manner as The Thrall, it nonetheless presents arresting, figurative diversions into rawer emotion and almost provocatively dense production, as well as somewhat more literal diversions in the form of interstitial instrumentals that enhance the set's quasi-narrative arc. The true surprise of Cosmic Debt is not that it expands Lubec's already expansive view of guitar pop, not its beauty, sophistication or ready appeal, but rather that the whipsmart threesome does so many new things despite the record's smaller scale.

Cosmic Debt succeeds at being much more than a transitional effort, but is largely focused on difficult interpersonal transitions. It commences as if waking from a dream, with the steady, serene fade-in of "(high blood pressure)." The composition includes a pastiche of disembodied voices, including a decontextualized remark about the '90s that recalls the opening of Mogwai's classic "CODY." It's a transporting beginning, whose full potency is realized by the segue into "Clipped Wings." While that tune's title echoes somewhat the Icarus imagery from The Thrall's sparkling "Sunburn!," it also announces certain stylistic hallmarks of the album: a nearly saturated stereo field, Caroline Jackson's weighty and distorted piano, dueling and harmonized vocals, and thoughtful guitar playing. The most distinguishing element of Lubec's sonic arsenal, Ms. Jackson's booming, distorted piano, works in tandem with Matt Dressen's tasteful drumming to power the compositions, while fronter Eddie Charlton guitar playing applies more delicate textures. Dylan Wall's big, full production is most apparent in the ambient thrum that populates the space between the instruments and supplies substantial heft to Lubec's songs. Indeed, big reverbs magnify the restlessly creative trio's playing to such an extent it sounds as if it could blanket a large theater; fans can only hope Lubec's fortunes afford it that opportunity.

Lead single "Hard Potential" touts a driving rhythm and breathy vocals from Mr. Charlton, both lures difficult to resist, but the percussive bridge and cheese-grater, bending harmonics suggest the unease of Pac Northwest fellows Modest Mouse. The heretofore uncharacteristic angst on Cosmic Debt rings most true in the thrilling title track, whose serene but truncated verses give way to Charlton and Jackson confessing a seemingly generational bewilderment -- in what may be the band's most punk moment -- "I feel my cosmic debt, I don't know what it is!" Closer "Embers" -- shared with the universe by our friends at Post-Trash Monday -- stands particularly tall. While the tune deals with a particularly meaningful parting, in true Lubec fashion the song focuses on aftermath without dour mourning. Sure: the figurative and titular embers may not provide salvation, but damnation and purgatory are not Lubec's style. Here and elsewhere Cosmic Debt addresses the chasm between youthful optimism and idealism and the sometimes cold reality and necessary pragmatism that come part and parcel with maturity, but the band's resolve for positivity remains.

Cosmic Debt feels like an important step toward Lubec establishing a national profile, and certainly underscores that Lubec casually sips beers from a cooler at the vanguard of American guitar pop. Cosmic Debt will be released Sept. 30 by the Boston-based now label Disposable America; the set is available for pre-order now in a preposterously limited edition of 100 mustard yellow cassettes and will also be on offer as a digital download. An all-ages release show is slated for Saturday, Oct. 1, at Black Water in Portland, with support from fellow scenemakers Two Moons, Talkative, Dog Thieves and Radler. Stream the aforementioned "Hard Potential" via the embed below, and click through to pre-order your copy of Cosmic Debt. We are hearing chatter about an east coast tour this winter, so watch this space for all of your latest and greatest Lubec news.

Lubec: Bandcamp | Faceblorp



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September 21, 2016

That Was The Show That Was: Cymbals Eat Guitars with Wildhoney and Field Mouse | Sept. 16 | Great Scott

That Was The Show That Was: Cymbals Eat Guitars with Wildhoney and Field Mouse | Sept. 16 | Great Scott

[PHOTO: Dillon Riley] Indie rock leading lights Cymbals Eat Guitars are established Clicky Clicky favorites, and its latest LP has only burnished our esteem for the east coast troupe. We last caught them opening for the legendary Bob Mould in 2014, when the fourtet dispensed gorgeous takes on tunes from that year's triumphant Lose -- a record considered, at the time at least, a pronounced "classic rock" pivot away from the band's math-ier earlier efforts. Critics fawned over the set, while sales of the Barsuk-released album were, in a word, underwhelming; some less than stellar touring ensued. Last Friday, however, we witnessed the group in high spirits at a thronged Great Scott on the release night of what should be Cymbals Eat Guitars' true pop breakthrough, Pretty Years.

Cymbals Eat Guitars presented a brilliant night of live rock sounds, including several selections off the already-life-affirming Pretty Years (out now on Sinderlyn). Well-regarded album tasters "July 4th," "Wish," and "Have A Heart" all shone brightly. But a clear highlight was the performance of "Close," the most winsome of the new collection's 10 tunes, whose a massive and charging earworm chorus was thrilling live and ranks among the best you'll hear in 2016. Stream "July 4th," "Wish," and "Have A Heart" via the Soundcloud embed below.

The band also offered a healthy sampling of tracks off the aforementioned Lose, including a towering, noise-addled, and set-ending take on that record's woozy centerpiece "Laramie." The sole concession to the group's earlier records was a midset "...And The Hazy Sea," the Why There Are Mountains opener, which somehow manages to fit in the band's sets despite its gangly pace. In spite of relative commercial indifference, Cymbals Eat Guitars' work continues to place it among the elite song shapers in American indie rock. Whether or not Pretty Years achieves the success it rightfully deserves, we can state with complete confidence that the group has become a crucial live act, a belief Friday's performance only reinforced.

Highly touted Baltimore dream-pop quintet Wildhoney opened the evening with its customary savoir faire. While its first EP for hitmakers Topshelf Records, Your Face Sideways, is a neat primer for the group's preternatural melodic gifts, the combo's greatest composition to date came just this summer via Slumberland's tour de force compilation Continental Drift. "Horror Movie," one of Wildhoney's two glorious offerings on Drift, is pop perfection from the grooves, but its live airing Friday evening presented a sharper edge, with the group's dueling guitars cutting across the mix like sabers.

Another of Topshelf's great indie pop concerns, Field Mouse, batted second in the lineup, fresh off the release of their own fantastic new record Episodic. Field Mouse's Rachel Browne (who recently penned a must-read essay for The Talkhouse about touring with a serious illness) is a collected fronter and perfect foil to lead guitarist Andrew Futral's unmic'd and consistently stoked spokesman. Episodic doesn't stray far sonically from the combo's debut Hold Still Life: short, punchy, and compact pop numbers are the rule on both. The complexity of Field Mouse's songs are even more apparent in a live setting: bright keyboard shades from Browne's sister Robin no longer hide in the background din, and the interplay between the two (and sometimes three) guitars is often thrillingly loud and nearly abrasive. It's a good look for a band whose songs sometimes underplay an inherent turmoil. -- Dillon Riley

Cymbals Eat Guitars: Facebook | Internerds



Related Coverage:
That Was The Show That Was: Cymbals Eat Guitars with Bob Mould | Paradise Rock Club | 12 Sept.

September 17, 2016

Review: Preoccupations | Preoccupations

Preoccupations' 2015 debut (under its previous, controversial nom de post-punk Viet Cong) felt like a New Order-esque re-set following the untimely passing of guitarist Chris Reimer of Women -- the brilliant late-aughts band that first brought Preoccupations' Matt Flegel and Mike Wallace (joined here by Danny Christiansen and Scott Munro) to international (underground) acclaim. On its new eponymous sophomore set the band takes another unpredictable stylistic swerve, possibly in response to widespread criticism concerning the cultural insensitivity of its previous name. The rebrand provided a renewed opportunity for the foursome to reconsider its practice, and Preoccupations capitalized strongly by injecting Preoccupations with a dash of New Wave exuberance and structure that reveals another shade of the dark and classic post-punk sound it has explored since 2008.

Opener "Anxiety" churns upon itself in an extended ambient intro before dark synths and fuzzy textures begin to revolve mechanically around Mr. Flegel's low voice. Bright synth notes, entering at the minute-and-a-half mark, illuminate the proceedings and somewhat betray the cold and direct lyrics. Successor "Monotony" takes the approach one step further with billowing and reverberant melody lines and major keys that plot against the bleary song title. The pairing of heavily chorused rhythm guitar -- lurking in the right channel -- and Flegel's considered croon suggests his quartet may be aiming for the morose stateliness of the even-now-underrated The Psychedelic Furs circa Talk Talk Talk. Indeed, at times Flegel's breathless growl is a dead ringer for that of the legendary Richard Butler.

Album centerpiece and highlight "Memory" tackles more dynamic rhythms in its first frame -- a la Viet Cong highlight "Death"-- and also features a super nifty key change at its midpoint; here the band steps back to reveal a modulating synth tone that twists the song up into a falsetto-led groove, further convincing this reviewer that Preoccupations are embracing a subtly more positive and revelatory stance in key moments. The song's ambient outro wisely doubles back to remind the listener that the band have not forgotten their more characteristically pensive contemplation amidst the relative euphoria.

Lead single "Degraded" most closely hearkens back to the massive drum production and propulsive force of the group's first album, but still accommodates its contemporary penchant for single-note, high pitched guitar overdubs in the process. "Sense" uses simple organ and fizzing sound effects for a brief and well-placed change of pace, while "Forbidden" carries on the ambiance into the next track but adds percussion and whirling, carnival-like melodies for another surprising detour that declares the B-side of the record to be just as crucial.

As with every Flegel and Wallace-related release, the closer is always important. On Preoccupations, the band forgoes guitars almost completely for a retro-futuristic pop song that cements the post-Bowie New Wave connection. It's not until a Robert Fripp-styled guitar solo that the instrument even makes an appearance, and there it's in mostly wistful and epic celebration, rather than the morose gloom that had so previously defined this band. This, once more, underscores that Preoccupations has transformed the hurdles that have peppered its path into opportunities to push its boundaries, and as a result the band remains one of the more structurally original and stylistic daring indie rock bands of the day. Preoccupations was released by Jagjaguwar Friday. Purchase it on CD, LP or in a great bundle right here. Preoccupations play The Sinclair in Cambridge, Mass. October 12, and is basically on tour through the end of November. View complete tour dates at the band's web dojo right here. -- Edward Charlton

Preoccupations: Bandcamp | Interpants | Facebook







Related Coverage:
That Was The Show That Was: Viet Cong with TV Ghost, Alosi Den | Great Scott, Boston | 13 July

August 25, 2016

Today's Hotness: Strange Passage, Snowball ii, Mendez

Strange Passage -- Shine And Scatter EP (detail)

>> Our music fandom is reborn with each great surprise, as when the unexpected find flips up against our thumbs in the record bin, or when a sound we love appears out of the blue right in the blog's backyard. This latter circumstance is what has us jazzed lately, said jazz having been sparked when friend-of-the-blog Jeff Breeze sent us a link to a smashing new debut EP from upstart Somerville, Mass. four Strange Passage. The quartet's Shine And Scatter EP echoes the melodic, guitar-centered sound of the turn-of-the-'90s UK with surprising competence and confidence. Indeed, the short set's four songs echo The House of Love and the early RIDE EPs, and -- more contemporaneously -- are startlingly reminiscent of the massively underrated and short-lived aughts combo The Boyfriends. While there is a thread of shoegaze shot through Strange Passage's alluring brand of guitar pop, and Boston continues to have a strong share of contemporary 'gaze practitioners, Strange Passage's music still feels somewhat delightfully off-trend. There are just not a lot of acts out there right now trying to write the next "Chelsea Girl" or "Shine On," are there? Shine And Scatter also boasts some production choices that make the EP feel particularly mature for a debut, including putting an understated, even-keeled vocal up front in the mix. It's a confident, but not showy, move. And so it almost feels as if Strange Passage has foregone the trials and travails of writing a first and second EP, and have just jumped in with a terrific third. Each song is dynamite, but the uptempo rager "Viaducts Burning Down" stands out with its urgent intensity, and the repeated feeling of resolution that comes with each recitation of the title in the chorus. Shine And Scatter was recorded through the late spring and early summer with hit-maker Will Killingsworth at Dead Air Studios in Western Mass. and self-released via Bandcamp Aug. 16. As impressive as its EP is, Strange Passage has yet to play a show; its first live outing is slated for Sept. 30 at The Democracy Center in Cambridge, Mass., where they will be joined by Amherst, Mass. noisemakers Dirt Devil and -- we're told -- others. We're torn about urging everyone out to the show, as every band deserves a chance to get its collective feet under them before being subjected to scrutiny. But all the same, we feel like it's going to be exciting seeing Strange Passage blossom, so, you know, you should probably go. Stream all of Shine And Scatter via the Bandcamp embed below.



>> That LA dream-pop concern Snowball ii jumps styles with its new album and latest single "I Doughnut Want To Live" is little surprise, given band mastermind Jackson Wargo may consider notable shape-shifter Kurt Heasley's long-running, magical Lilys one of his lodestars. Snowball ii's clever February 2016 debut long-player ? was often a devoutly shoegaze affair, and its most recent music prior to "I Doughnut Want To Live" were spooky, ethereal covers of Lilys' "Black Carpet Magic" and "Day Of The Monkey" for Colorful Acts: In The Presence of Lilys, a Lilys-themed compilation issued by The Blog That Celebrates Itself over the summer (for short-tenure Clicky Clicky readers, if the prospect of a Lilys comp excites, you should also check out our own). And while much of the Snowball ii's forthcoming sophomore set feels influenced by Sufjan Stevens, the appealing ballad "I Doughnut Want To Live" stands apart in the new collection. The deceptively serene song is built up from patient acoustic guitar strums and glistening leads in the verse whose optimism plays against Mr. Wargo's somber confession in the chorus ("'cause I don't think I can love her like I did before."). "I Doughnut Want To Live" is the first taste of Snowball ii's long-player Doughnut Holes, which the band recorded and produced at its own The Doughnut Shop studio and will released via its own Doughnut Records Sept. 16 (sense a theme? -- Ed.). Snowball ii celebrates the record with a release show the same day; a third Snowball ii LP is slated for 2016 release as well. Stream "I Doughnut Want To Live" via the Soundcloud embed below.



>> Singer and songwriter Gregory Mendez has made a bunch of music over the years, and a fair amount of it with input from The Superweaks' Evan Bernard, among others. Projects including Airport and Getting Sick eventually led to a well-received singer-songwriter thing under his own name, perhaps out of a desire to simplify. That presumed yen is manifested both in Mr. Mendez's new moniker and music; his latest effort Phone Records is attributed to the yet-more-concise Mendez, and the self-released collection features nine tunes tracked to a smartphone app. We mention the means of production here not to encourage folks to start sending us an avalanche of crap they made on their phones, but to underscore that it is still novel to encounter a recording made on a phone that is this good. The trick, of course, is to start with great songs or song ideas, as Mendez does. Phone Records presents what may be an unanswerable chicken and egg question: is the intimacy of these recordings enhanced by capturing the bedroom sessions on a phone's tiny microphone? More likely the production is just a side-effect of making do, but there is substantial charm to the feeling of "being there" as Mendez plies his trade. Songs including "Try" and "Control" firmly echo the balladry of early Elliot Smith (although the latter tune cleverly incorporates the synth melody from Soft Cell's iteration of "Tainted Love"), but Phone Records' more dynamic tunes, such as the shuffling, early Yo La Tengo-styled "Stained Glass Boys" and "Gum Trash," are its strongest. Album closer "The Drug Trafficker's Daughter" feels demo-ish in the way one would expect a phone recording to be, but that's the other side of the "hey-this-was-recorded-with-a-phone!" coin: some stuff feels like an idea waiting for fuller treatment. But the bulk of Phone Records feels accomplished, evidence that while Mendez may be seeking simplicity, his songcraft remains robust. Stream the entire thing via the Bandcamp embed below; the cassette-inclined will be pleased to know they can get a limited edition physical artifact from Houston-based Some Weird Sin Records right here.



August 17, 2016

Review: Happy Diving | Electric Soul Unity

San Francisco power-rock five Happy Diving return this week with a stirring long-player whose mutability and periodic lightness leaven the act's heady mix of bracing power and ready melody. In terms of sonic development, the progress feels fairly conventional for a second album, but just because the path is well-trodden does not diminish the act's cracking songwriting. Indeed, Electric Soul Unity collects 12 tunes ripe with gritty, fuzz-caked power chords, tastefully bummer vocals, and newfound nuance that expands the quintet's domain in welcome ways.

Opener "Bigger World" both references the title of the band's 2014 debut on Father/Daughter Records [review] and assures fans that Happy Diving very much understands a formula that has worked so well for them. Commencing with a blast of mid-range guitar feedback that abruptly tosses the listener into the take, "Bigger World" descends into a finessed, palm-muted chug that emphasizes the heavy low end that made Big World such a favorite in the underpop underground. "Don't Be Afraid of Love" follows and makes plain that Happy Diving has no intention of softening its sound or increasing the clarity of production. As with its earlier material, the band's noisy sonic signature feels well-designed to transport listeners to some ideal house show environment, where shuddering amps and the thump of the kick drum reverberate from concrete walls and ratty rugs.

It's not until fifth track and highlight "Head Spell" that the band deviates from its tried and true. Here strummy and clean grunge chord progressions and dynamic blasts of distortion echo second-wave '90s alt.rockers Cracker and, well, Everclear with carefully considered, beautiful sadness. The relatively spare approach offers just enough space within the production to reveal more tenderness than the Bay Area bombers' usual two-minute fuzz blasts typically allow. "Head Spell" proffers a big-tent take on the '90s-rock revival that embraces the cheesier songwriting of the more commercial end of the era. Why not?

The back half of Electric Soul Unity features still more surprises that make it the stronger side. "The Call, It Thunders" features some of Happy Diving's best lead guitar hooks, while "Pain Country" takes another run at the quieter electric style of "Head Spell." "Unknown Feeling," a 104-second acoustic (!) solo number, is the album's biggest surprise, and stands in stark relief sonically while suggesting an affinity for aspects of Lou Barlow's catalog. To close the proverbial circle, the riffage resurfaces with closer “River Will Flow” (whose opening suggests Dinosaur Jr. interpreting "Don't Fear the Reaper"). The final cut offers another welcome addition to the mix, some slight dual-singer harmony that modulates the album's otherwise monochromatic vocals.

Speaking of, a monochrome feel represents Electric Soul Unity's sole Achilles' heel. Despite the efforts to vary the album's feel and flow, the persistently pounding Blue Album rock guitars can dominate to such an extent that some of the nifty songwriting on this Jack Shirley-produced set is obscured. Still, Happy Diving's successful revision of classic '80s and '90s indie rock not only reframes great moments of the era, but also presents fans broader opportunities to connect with the band. When in doubt, just play the thing real loud: it's rock and roll. Electric Soul Unity is slated for release Friday on black, white, or coke bottle clear vinyl, CD, cassette or digital download; pre-order the collection in any format right here from our friends at Topshelf Records (which also released Happy Diving's terrific "So Bunted" 7" last year). Happy Diving is in the final leg of a lengthy U.S. tour, and the dates for the final two weeks are posted below. Get to the gig. -- Edward Charlton

Happy Diving: Bandcamp | Facebook



08.17 -- Bloomington, IN -- Jan's Rooms
08.18 -- Eau Claire, WI -- Vivian House Concerts
08.20 -- Minneapolis, MN -- Dead Media Records
08.21 -- Sioux Falls, SD -- Total Drag Records
08.24 -- Calgary, AB -- Tubby Dog
08.26 -- Vancouver, BC -- Antisocial Skate Shop
08.28 -- Seattle, WA -- Neumo's
08.29 -- Portland, OR -- The Know
08.30 -- San Francisco, CA -- Bottom Of The Hill

Related Coverage:
Today's Hotness: Happy Diving
Review: Happy Diving | Big World
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July 24, 2016

Today's Hotness: Ski Saigon, Urusei Yatsura, Mincer Ray

Ski Saigon -- Brings The Storm Cloud (detail)

>> One of the more mysterious and evocative projects we've followed here at Clicky Clicky in recent years has been Mooncreatures. Although the music and premise of its final long-player was exciting, we were disappointed when the London band and the LP's fictive narrative intersected in reality, and Mooncreatures announced (sort of?) it was no more. Anyway, band mastermind Rhys Griffiths has returned with the even higher-concept project Ski Saigon, whose debut release Brings The Storm Cloud is due toward the end of the summer. The six-song set is inspired by '60s Cambodian pop music and concerns a fictional historical (wait, what?) narrative about French soldiers tiring of the tropical climate of Cambodia in the mid-20th century and setting about creating indoor snow skiing facilities in Saigon and Phnom Penh. Really, you just read that. Brings The Storm Cloud opens with a short, shimmering audio approximation of those blurry scene transitions in film and TV that suggests the commencement of a flashback. As soon as listeners have oriented themselves to the tune, "Wintergarden," it vanishes, and then the EP begins in earnest with the ensuing, fully realized "Sweet Dreams In The Botanics." The mid-tempo swayer rides a steady canned beat, above which sustained synth and simple guitar chords and a pleasantly lazy lead guitar obscure hushed lyrics. The tune's escapist fantasia is amplified by a 45-second coda wherein the aforementioned synth chords give way to an insectoid drone and -- curiously -- the sound of water (although we expect it is easier to present the sound of water than snow). Art Is Hard Records issues Brings The Storm Cloud Aug. 26 in a limited edition of 100 32-page book/CD bundles, as well as a digital download. Pre-order the book here, and click through the embed below to acquire the digital files. The demise of Mooncreatures felt very premature, and we're quite excited by the possibilities presented by Ski Saigon, either as an ongoing project or at least as a sign that Mr. Griffiths has no intention of quitting music any time. Stream the aforementioned "Wintergarden" and "Sweet Dreams In The Botanics" via the Bandcamp embed below.



>> We've been holding out hope for a good six years that the mighty Glaswegian indie rock combo Projekt A-Ko would return to us. Imagine our surprise when we received word in our inbox earlier this spring that not Projeckt A-Ko, but the trio's notable, '90s-spawned (and we suppose better-known) precursor Urusei Yatsura, would beat the three to the new release bin in September. Well, technically, it's old music, but it is nonetheless exciting. On Sept. 2, the choicest cuts from Urusei Yatsura's highly regarded BBC recordings (which included, among others, five sessions for John Peel and three for Steve Lamacq) will be released as an LP via London's Rocketgirl. The press materials accompanying the announcement speak, with the benefit of distance and hindsight, of Urusei Yatsura's music shining particularly bright when recorded under the constraints radio sessions necessarily present. And it is hard to argue with the results. Fans can hear a particularly fizzing iteration of the rocking 1996 A-side "Phasers On Stun" below. Rocketgirl will release You Are My Urusei Yatsura on 12" vinyl, CD and as a digital download Sept. 2. The LPs are pressed to snappy neon pink media and available in a very limited edition of 300 pieces, so you had better get to pre-ordering if you want this. To be fair to Urusei Yatsura/Projekt A-ko's Fergus Lawrie, he has produced new music over the last seven years, including some engaging "haloed guitar" guitar noise pieces with his project Angel of Everyone Murder. But given the blinding excellence of Projekt A-Ko's sole LP, 2009's Yoyodyne [hypertext!], we remain hopeful that that...erm... project will also be resuscitated. In the meantime, we've the Urusei Yatsura collection to look forward to: stream the aforementioned "Phasers On Stun," recorded for the BBC Evening Session May 8, 1996, via the Soundcloud embed below. Speaking of, fans should pay VERY close attention to the UY Soundcloud, as it features a trove of material, including some cuts found too late to be considered for inclusion on You Are My Urusei Yatsura, like this magical acoustic take on "Burriko Girl."



>> The charm of lo-fi, and particularly '90s lo-fi, is that it characteristically sounds thrown together, but still sometimes fumbles its way to transcendence. Sometimes that's just the sound (the example we think of it this Perfect Pussy interview that describes recording clean basic tracks and then layering noise), and sometimes things are actually, you know, thrown together (see every live thing Crazy Horse did with Neil Young). Although we've previously deemed the act mid-fi, Mincer Ray's delightful, be-flanneled recent digital EP Early Morning Am Moritz firmly falls within the latter category. A brief note at the Berlin-based act's Soundcloud reports the short stack of songs was "[c]onceived & recorded to cassette in 3 hours & 47 minutes (more or less)." The collection commences strongly with the yearning, mid-tempo, and alt.-countrified strummer "Everything Is Green," a should-be hit whose straightforward presentation can't hold down the sweeping melody of the big, lovelorn verse. With almost no warning the verse become its chorus, which points to an anthemic, ripping guitar solo that aspires towards David Pajo's amazing face-melter from Palace Brothers' epic "Horses." The balance of Early Morning Am Moritz isn't quite as memorable, although the concise basher "Ned Norris" is bracing to the point of infectious and the loose and gritty "Dine" wouldn't feel entirely out of place on Viva Last Blues. Mincer Ray's EP hit the Internerds in late June, and you can stream the entire thing via the Soundcloud embed below (click through to download all five numbers as .wav files). The set is also now available on cassette via the Chicago and Berlin-based Shaky Tooth Tapes. We last wrote about Mincer Ray right here in 2014.



July 21, 2016

Footage: Aüva's Swaying Surf-Pop Gem "Better"



We've had our figurative eye on Boston indie pop upstarts Aüva for a year or so, ever since turning on to the genteel, large-ensemble sound captured on its 2015 EP Light Years. The young act hit a steady stride straightaway and remained busy and gigging on the regular into 2016, when it settled in to self-record a full-length debut. "Better" is the first single from the sextet's eponymous long-player, and you can check out the video supra. The tune is a swaying, surf-pop gem built up from skittering drums and an insistent bass line, over which clean guitar leads, rhythm-guitar jangle and tasteful, vibrato synth embellishments gently make their case.

The video dabbles with a romantic concept that pairs up co-fronter and keyboard player Miette Hope with the other members of the ensemble, but the real charm is in the faux performance shots, wherein Aüva posse waver between goofing around and playing it earnest. The external shots are particularly compelling, including a dreamy shot of trees, a pastiche in which the band members are lined up against a wall and then shuffled, and a shot of a beer bottle getting smashed in a firepit around which we suspect a number of Clicky Clicky readers (and at least one Senior Writer) have consumed adult beverages. The clip was primarily filmed and edited by Aüva guitarist Jake LeVine, with the help of friend-of-the-band Evan Xiner Hong. Mr. LeVine would seem to wear a lot of hats, as he also mixed the forthcoming record, and pitched in on songwriting and arranging with the rest of the groups's six members.

The single and indeed the entire aforementioned 10-song debut Aüva was primarily recorded in the Boston Conservatory's dance studios; both the single and LP will be available as free downloads Aug. 6. Aüva's intention was to have had a quiet summer, but fortunately for fans things have not gone precisely as planned. Earlier this month a truncated line-up of the band jumped in at the last-minute for an appearance on WMBR's crucial local music program Pipeline (hosted by the inimitable Jeff Breeze). On Aug. 13, the band embarks on a two-week tour that will take it down to Florida and all the way back up to New Hampshire. There, on the 28th, it will play on a beer-branded second stage prior to a performance by the legendary Brian Wilson. Mr. Wilson, in case you don't know, is out playing Beach Boys' Pet Sounds to celebrate the album's 50th anniversary. So, not a bad gig for an indie pop band that formed only 18 months or so ago, yeah? Aüva will be available via Bandcamp, Sporkify, ITunes and Apple Music; whet that appetite with repeat viewings of "Better" and mark down the tour stops below in your daily planner.

Aüva: Bandcamp | Facebook | Internerds

08.13 -- O'Brien's Pub -- Boston, MA
08.14 -- The Gateway -- Brooklyn, NY
08.20 -- The Bends -- St. Petersburg, FL
08.24 -- The London District -- Asheville, NC
08.25 -- Joe Squared -- Baltimore, MD
08.26 -- Firehouse 13 -- Providence RI

Related coverage:
Together Again: Clicky Clicky Presents Two Nights of Adventurous Electronics And Under-Pop May 18+19
Review: The Beach Boys | Pet Sounds [40th Anniversary Reissue]