Tuesday, November 30, 2010

This Weeks Short Bursts ::

The Return of Bardo Pond & Los Campesinos! give the gift of music.
On January 11th Philadelphia's six headed psych monster, Bardo Pond return with their new self titled long player via the bands new label, London's Fire Records. The album will get a UK release a full month earlier On December 6th. I don't suppose it will do us any good to question release schedules. We're just thrilled that there's new Bardo Pond album headed our way. The new album is the bands follow up to 2006's Ticket Crystals and finds Bardo Pondo in peak form ,delivering 7 tracks of hallucination inducing goodness. The album teaser Don't Know About You find Bardo eschewing the drone that occupied their earlier recordings for harmonious landscapes of crunchy reverb.

Bardo Pond will play All Tomorrow's parties Nightmare Before Christmas curated by Godspeed You! Black Emperor Butlins, UK on December 4th.

Bardo Pond - Don't Know About You

This morning while checking e-mails, and social media updates as we tend to do over our bowl of oatmeal, we were thrilled to find that Gareth Los Campesinos had posted Too Many Flesh Suppers to the Los Campesinos blog as well as Facebook and Twitter for free download. Too Many Flesh Supper is a song LC! recorded during the Romance is Boring sessions, but decided it didn't quite fit in with the rest of the LP. Although the song was issued as a b-side on the Romance is Boring 7", the song had largely gone unheard by many Los Campesinos fans. Until today that is. In addition to that track the bands site features a poster that reads, Heat Rash...coming soon. We're hoping this could suggest a new recording of some kind. But until something official is announced as to what the hell Heat Rash is, we won't pretend to have a clue.

Los Campesinos - Too Many Flesh Suppers

Monday, November 29, 2010

Introducing :: PS I Love You

We were just discussing this segment the other day,commenting on how we we really need to dedicate some more time and space to the discovery of new artists. As opposed to the Discover By Video segment, where we lazily share videos with a brief description in the interest of speedy posting, Introducing is a recurring feature on these pages where we take the time to point your attention to a worthy new musical force and attempt to provide a back story, MP3's, videos, and a little detail on the bands recording and touring processes. In some cases some of you may be already in the know on these artists, but at very least you'll walk away knowing a little more than you did yesterday or you'll hear another track to hook you in. And so the obsession of your new favorite band begins (we hope).

You're probable thinking, enough of the long winded introduction, jeez, we get it. And to that we humbly agree.

About a month ago we stumbled onto Kingston, Ontario's PS I Love You and their squalling pop opus, Meet Me at The Munster Station. Originally slated to be vehicle for multi-instrumentalist Paul Sauliner's pop experiments with guitar loops and keyboards quickly became a proper and dynamic live unit once drummer Benjamin Nelson signed on. Throughout the album, PS I Love You demonstrate a bit of J Mascis like guitar virtuosity over 10 tracks of boisterous pop that makes for the one of strongest debut we've had the pleasure of wrapping our heads around all year.

Currently the duo are giving away digital copies of the title track to the recently sold out Starfield 7" until Tuesday December 2nd. To grab Starfield pay a visit to the bands label Paper Bag Records and provide a few pieces of personal information and just like that through the magic of the internets the track will be yours. You will also be entered to win the Starfield prize pack that include a PS I Love You “Figure It Out” shirt, a poster, and record bag, all designed and hand silk-screened by drummer Benjamin Nelson.

Don't miss the chance to catch the formidable live act, that is PS I Love You, when the duo play Great Scott on December 6th. We recommend thatyou plan ahead and grab tix from Great Scott's preferred ticket vendor, this one should not be missed.

PS I Love You – Live Dates
Nov 30 – Washington, DC – Red Place*
Dec 01 – Philadelphia, PA – M Room*
Dec 03 – Brooklyn, NY – The Rock Shop
Dec 04 – New York, NY – Pianos*
Dec 05 – New Haven, CT – Daniel Street*
Dec 06 – Allston, MA – Great Scott*
Dec 16 – Guelph, ON – Ebar
Dec 31 – Kingston, ON – The Mansion

* with Holiday Shores

When you see the video for Facelove you may have a WTF moment, we sure did and to be fair Paul Sauliner is sporting something that looks like he made in 3rd grade art class. But the song is a blistering keeper, cotton balls and all!

PS I Love You - 2012

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Pre-Thanksgiving Rock Show [Giveaway]

Tonight Great Scott plays host to a pre-Thanksgiving show with the recently reunited, The Sheila Divine, Boston's pop-smiths, The Hush Now, and rising locals The Fatal Flaw. As we expected, the show sold-out earlier this week,so hopefully you saw this coming and secured your tickets to this must see show. If not, do not fret loyal readers, we have just been bestowed a pair of tickets to tonight's show. To enter to win just send an e-mail to ashgrayproclamtion.com with Sheila/Hush/Fatal in the subject line. The bands will be collecting canned food for The Greater Boston Food Bank. In a statement on The Sheila Divine's Facebook page they have recommended that you bring cans of tuna and (plastic) jars of peanut butter. Even if you're not able to attend tonight, please stop by and drop off that extra can in your cupboard to help someone who needs your generosity this holiday season

Due to the lateness of this contest we will take entries until 5PM tonight and then announce our winner. Good luck and Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Mission Accomplished :: HTH III

A big congrats goes out to one of Boston's finest bands, Hallelujah The Hills and to all those who heeded the call to arms and wallets by pre-ordered the bands forthcoming long player, at this point simply known as III. Sometime over the weekend the band reached their goal of $5,500 needed to record the new album. The campaign will still accept donations until 5:00 PM today, so although the goal's been reached you can still donate/pre-order what should be a recorded highlight of 2011.

Ryan Walsh has posted a thank you video over the HTH Kickstarter page that gives you a glimpse into his dietary habits, not to mention a pretty special birthday horn solo.

Last week Ryan also posted a live version of Nightingale Lightning by tweeting "Hey, want to hear a live version of a song that will be on album III"?

[MP3] Hallelujah The Hills - Nightingale Lightning
Recorded Live in Toronto, ON 7.14.2010

Friday, November 19, 2010

This Weeks Short Bursts ::

Locals Only: Hands and Knees and Get Help
We have found ourselves spending far too much time on Bandcamp lately. Our latest infatuation is Wholesome, the forthcoming album from Boston's garage pop darlings, Hands and Knees. The 13 track LP features several tracks the band's been playing in their set in recent months, including Throw Me From The Bridge of Flowers, and our current favorite, Sitting at the Piano Disappearing. Wholesome is a worthy follow up to last years superb Et Tu, Fluffy?, and find the local quartet delivering another album filled with concise and cathartic lo-fi pop nuggets. The album will get an official release on January 15th, but for now you stream the album in it's entirety at the a fore mentioned Hands and Knees Bandcamp site, or listen below.

Hands and Knees will play The 201 in Providence on December 3rd with The Invisible Hours.

The duo of The Beatings, Tony Skalicky and Mike Ingenthron of Strikes Again, otherwise known as Get Help will play an afternoon all ages show tomorrow at Cambridge's All Asia. According to the duo's site they have been recording new tracks for the follow up to 2008's The End of The New Century so let's hope album #2 isn't too far off. The show starts at 3PM, be there.

Get Help - Far Away Now

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Discovery By Video :: Lonely Galaxy

Last spring we stumbled on to the music of Londoner, Harry Granger Howell, AKA Lonely Galaxy and his debut release EP1. That offering was filled with devastating bedroom pop including the 7 minute church organ ridden, Have A Heart ,which we found to be completely depressing. We also count it as one of our favorite tracks of 2010. Howell's Lonely Galaxy have returned with aptly titled EP2 to close out the year with another dose of lovesick gloom over sparse arrangements. Check out a track off the forthcoming EP and the Porcelain Raft produced video for Bible Truth Depot above. It's a slow builder that finds Howell employing chiming guitars and organs with a chorus that we haven't been able to get out of our skulls all morning.

Transparent will release EP2 on December 2nd.

Friday, November 12, 2010

This Weeks Short Bursts::

Japandroids, The Radio Dept., & Working For A Nuclear Free City
Vancouver's noise pop stalwarts, Japandroids are back armed with another 7'single. Heavenward Grand Prix b/w Shame marks the third installment of the bands current single series being issued by Polyvinyl. Heavenward Grand Prix is an outtake from the Post-Nothing session and we can't figure out why this cacophonous anthem didn't make the cut. The b-side is a cover of PJ Harvey's Shame. Like the other releases in the series this is limited to 2000 copies. This time around they've pressed it on clear vinyl and can be acquired over at the Polyvinyl Store. The single will also be available at finer digital retailers on November 16th.
[MP3/Stream] Japandroids - Heavenward Grand Prix

Last spring Sweden's dream pop charmers,The Radio Dept. released their third and totally fantastic Clinging to a Scheme LP to nearly unanimous critical praise. Now the band are scheduled to tour the U.S. this winter, complete with a show on February 4th at The Middle East.This will mark the bands first proper tour of America in the bands 15 year existence. Although they've played shows on our shores before, those can be described as sporadic at best. In addition to the upcoming tour the band has just released the Never Follow Suite EP, a limited edition 12" that includes two new tracks and a remix of the EP's title track. As if that wasn't enough, The Radio Dept. have just announced the upcoming release of Passive Aggressive: Singles 2002-2010 , which as the title suggests compiles the bands first 8 years on Labrador Records . The 2 disc 24 track set will be released on January 2th via Labrador/Caroline.
[MP3/Stream] The Radio Dept. - Never Follow Suite (Never Swallow Fruit Dub Pistol Disco Remix)

Lastly, we would be remiss not to at least mention the terrific new album from Manchester, England's, electro-post rock leaning, Working For A Nuclear Free City. WFANFC released the sprawling, Jojo Burger Tempest back in September and for what ever reason our copy sat on our desk until earlier this month when we wised up and gave it spin. 15 tracks of the album appear on disc 1 while the title track occupies disc 2, clocking in at an epic 30 minutes. The album has proven a little hard to locate in the brick and mortars, but it can be found over the band label, Manchester's Melodic Records.

Working For A Nuclear Free City - Pachinko

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Discovery By Video :: Big Troubles

Our recent introduction to Jersey's rising, noise pop kids, Big Troubles has been a rewarding one. The band have recently released their debut long player, Worry on New York indie, Old English Spelling Bee. Over on the bands Myspace page they site such lo-fi pop luminaries as , Lilys, Guided By Voices , and Tobin Sprout as influences. That alone was enough to get us to listen, however it's the bands inventive delivery of those influences that kept us listening. Bite Yr Tongue [posted above] is fairly good representation of the bands infectious noisy pop sound. You can hear the bands debut LP streaming over at their Bandcamp site or even better, order it up over at the Old English Spelling Bee Shop.

Monday, November 8, 2010

We Were There :: Guided By Voices

The Paradise Rock Club| Boston, MA|11/05/10
It's taken us a couple of days to get our shit together enough to put together some assemblance of a review for the glorious night of rock we witnessed courtesy of GBV's "classic line up" on this past Friday night. Walking into the newly renovated Paradise, I could already hear the GBV chants, the energy in the room was at fever pitch with a good 30 minutes to go before the bands scheduled start time. After the farewell Electrifying Conclusion tour in 2004, I never thought I'd see Guided By Voices play live again, let alone the line-up responsible for the bands ascension from the basements of Dayton, OH in the early 90's the same line-up responsible for the recording of Bee Thousand, Alien Lanes, Under the Bushes Under The Stars as well a slew of superb EP's. So when it was announced over the summer that Guided By Voices circa 96' would be headlining Matador 21st anniversary party in sin city. I was hopeful that the one off date would evolve into a full fledged tour, luckily for me and anyone else who couldn't make the Vegas trip that's exactly what happened. And so on the final weekend of The Hallway of Shatterproof Glass Tour GBV were back in Boston.

"The classic line up" featuring Bob Pollard, Mitch Mitchell, Tobin Sprout, Greg Demos, and Kevin Fennell hit the stage armed with a hit list of 39 songs that they would tear through in just over two hours. They were received by a mostly joyous crowd, save for a couple of nitwits throwing punches in front of the stage, seriously dudes if you can't conduct yourself in these situations STAY HOME! Having been checking out set lists over the past few weeks, I was a little surprised when I heard the opening chords of Striped White Jets for the bands opening song. However it works like a charm as an opener. From there Bob Pollard led the band through a lengthy set and as per usual his in between song banter was side splitting and spot on "we killed shoegaze and brought back harmonies", that they did. Tobin Sprout took a few turns at the mic which featured a couple of my favorite moments of the night especially during a fantastic late-set version of Dodging Invisible Rays. Toward the end of the night which consisted of several beers and tequila Pollard and GBV managed to keep the train on the track during the bands three encores that culminated with the set closing performance of Weedking. Long Live Rockathon, no more like Long Live GBV!

As the band walked off stage to the sound of the sold out crowd going ape-shit, myself included, I was overcome with the feeling that I had just seen something truly special and something I'll probably never see again, but then again, if this reunion has taught us anything it's never say never.

Set List Boston 11/5/2010
Striped White Jets
Echos Myron
Exit Flagger
Pimple Zoo
My Impression Now
Goldheart Mountaintop Queen Directory
Hot Freaks
Shocker in Gloomtown
A Good Flying Bird
My Valuable Hunting Knife
Cut-Out Witch Play
Watch Me Jumpstart
Awful Bliss
14 Cheerleader Coldfront
Closer You Are
Lethargy Play
Queen of Cans and Jars
Break Even
Matter Eater Lad
Tractor Rape Chain
Buzzards and Dreadful Crows
Bright Paper Werewolves
My Son Cool Play
Gleemer ( The Deeds of Fertile Jim)
Unleashed! The Large Hearted Boy
Gold Star for Robot Boy
I am a Scientist
Game of Pricks
Smothered in Hugs
A Salty Salute
Postal Blowfish
Hey Aardvark
Quality of Armor
Motor Away
Encore 2:
Dodging Invisible Rays
Don't Stop Now
Some Drilling Implied
Encore 3:
Johnny Appleseed
Weed King

Video of GBV Performing Buzzards and Dreadful Crows at The Paradise on 11/5/10 furnished by Narlus. Great quality audio and video from a night we won't soon forget.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

The Ash Gray Proclamation Proudly Present :: An Inteview with Tobin Sprout

It still seems a little surreal to be writing about the reunion of Guided By Voices' classic line up in 2010. We just assumed that after Bob Pollard disbanded the final incarnation of the band in 2004, that would be that. So when it was announced that GBV was reuniting, let alone the 1992-1996 line up we were more than a little excited. This weekend marks the final weekend of The Hallway of Shatterproof Glass Tour and tomorrow night the band (finally) return to Boston for a sold -out show at The Paradise, the very same room where we saw our first GBV show back in 95'.

Along with Bob Pollard, Tobin Sprout played a pivotal role in the sound of the band during this period as the bands resident 4-track engineer, multi instrumentalist, and he also contributed a bunch of timeless pop songs to the GBV cannon. It's hard to imagine what albums like Bee Thousand and Alien Lanes would sound like without his contributions.

A few weeks ago we were given the opportunity to interview GBV's Tobin Sprout and we jumped at the opportunity to talk about the current tour, Tobin's career as painter, childrens author and solo artists as well what it's been like to be back on stage with Bob Pollard, Mitch Mitchell, Kevin Fennell, and Greg Demos.

A big thank you goes to Tobin for taking the time to answer our questions and granting our request for this interview, hopefully I didn't come off like a total fan boy.

*Spoiler alert: the following interview contains set list information, so if you're going to either the Boston or New York shows this weekend , you've been warned.

Bryan Hamill: What inspired the reunion of the classic GBV line up, was the Matador @ 21 show in Vegas the catalyst for getting back together?

Tobin Sprout: I don't think the reunion would have happened without Matador asking us to headline their 21st anniversary show in Vegas. After that was in play the tour just made sense in that we would be practicing for one show, so why not do more? We were getting some lucrative offers from around the country, everyone in the band was ready and willing to do the tour. Bob sent out the set list and a month or so later we were together at Mitch's (Mitchell) practicing. There were a few big GBV fans in the room so when we had trouble remembering how to play one of the songs they would show us. I think they knew the songs better than we did. For the most part we had played the songs so many times on tour that it was like riding a bike, my hands just knew where to go. When Bob asked me if I would be interested in playing the shows I didn't even have to think about it, how could I say no to the time of my life? We're all still healthy, we have nothing to prove, the GBV fans are wigging out, it's gravy.

Bryan: How much time went into rehearsing for the Matador show and the subsequent tour?

Tobin: Bob sent out a song list to all of us,my son made a CD of all the songs to use to practice, but later I used the the internet. I could just go to YouTube and watch myself play them. For the most part they came back pretty quick, we had played them so many times during the tours in the 90's. The rest of the band got together a few times without me. I drove down to Dayton a couple of weeks before the tour to practice with the band and we also practiced the day before we left for the tour. Dallas and Austin were a bit rough here and there, but each show got a little tighter.

Bryan: What has it been like playing shows with Bob, Mitch, Keven, and Greg after all these years?

Tobin: It feels like we've picked up where we left off. Except for physical changes, we're all the same people. We all got along then and we get along now. I think it's easier now because we're all established in our own lives. We also have Rich, Darryl, Taz, and Steve (our road crew) to make life a lot better.

Bryan: With all the line up changes over the life of Guided By Voices, what makes this incarnation so special?

Tobin: There were line ups before this one, but this is the line up that was introduced to larger audience when Propeller sort of launched GBV into the rock world. From the first shows in Dayton, Columbus, CBGB's to the Scat tours and on until the last at Edgefest 96. This is, for the most part the line up on Bee Thousand, Alien Lanes, and Under The Bushes Under The Stars. I think people want all the pieces in place, all the original parts. Not to take away from the line ups after 96, it just seems to me the first line up becomes the face of the band.

Bryan: You wrote some of my favorite Guided By Voices songs, which ones have you been preforming on this tour?

Tobin: Gleemer, Dodging Invisible Rays, and A Good Flying Bird. We also do an acoustic set which includes Awful Bliss into 14 Cheerleader Coldfront. Keeping the harmonies going we go into Quality Armor (a Bob song). I've also done Atom Eyes alone in Austin or Dallas.

Bryan: With the release of your first childrens book, Elliott and your recently released album, The Bluebirds of Happiness Tried To Land On My Shoulder you have been keeping busy, how do you decide where to focus your creative energy.

Tobin: Right now the energy is going to music. I hadn't written a lot of music for a few years. Mostly I focused on painting and the writing of Elliott and the chapter book I hope to follow up called April and Elliott. About a year ago I made myself sit down and write songs. I think I was afraid I wouldn't be able to do it anymore. But after a few days it began to come together again. Elliott was my first attempt at writing a book and it was a learning experience for me. I think what I learned has improved the way I write lyrics. You only have so many lines in a song, so every word counts.

Bryan: Do you have any plans to record another solo record or perhaps compete a sequel to Elliott in the near future?

Tobin: I just released a single and I plan to write a lot of music after the GBV tour. Being away from writing music for awhile makes it feel new. I think you have to focus on what's exciting to you, because it shows in the work. Right now music excites me, next month, year, whatever, art or writing will.

Bryan: The newly launched GBV Digital is offering live recording from the current tour, does the band have any other plans to release additional recordings either from this tour or from the archives?

Tobin: All the shows are being recorded and can be downloaded at GBV Digital. There are also tentative plans for the release of GBV live shows that could include what ever I find when I go through hundreds of 4-track tapes I have as well as some remixes, outtakes, and unreleased tracks. At this point we have no plans to record new material.

Bryan: What's been the biggest difference between playing shows on this tour and the GBV tours you played on 14 years ago?

Tobin: Sleep number beds, we've been staying in really nice places.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Reviewed :: Clinic - Bubblegum

It was just after the new millennium when I discovered Liverpool’s noise makers, Clinic. With the release of the bands 2000 full length debut, Internal Wrangler, I was hooked on my very first listen. That record was like nothing my ears had heard before, equal parts post-punk and kraut rock played with vigor on vintage instruments. They sounded like they came from another planet. They followed Wrangler up in 2002 with the arguably stronger and Grammy nominated Walking with Thee. A record that retains the bands fuzzed out experimentalism but offered listener friendly melodies. What came next was in a word, confusing. Although the band never made a bad record, the albums that followed seemed a little uninspired and stagnant. Although I would revisit those early releases frequently, I shied away from the bands newer material. That is of course, until now.

Prior to the release of Bubblegum, Clinic’s sixth and to my ears, finest record to date, Clinic promised reinvention. At first I took that with a grain of salt, but once I heard it I was sold. By marrying acoustic guitars, dulcimers, and mandolins with the bands signature sound, the band has delivered an inspired and ambitious record.

The album starts out with I’m Aware also the first single taken from Bublegum. It’s a somber and hazy pop song that finds Ade Blackburn vocals offering solace with the lyric “in the dark, you’re never gone”, the gentle vibes our supported by backing harmonies on the track. Elsewhere the band punches up the distortion on Lion Tamer, a song best described as classic Clinic, propelled by Carl Turney’s pounding drums and Blackburns’ fuzzed up vocals. The gorgeous hushed folk of Another Way of Giving might just be Bubblegum’s finest track, however this record has a knack of giving us a favorite new track with each listen.

Clinic have fulfilled their promise of reinvention with an album filled with lush psychedelic pop and a literal dose of feral noise. Bubblegum is assessable, engaging and a pure jaw dropper of a record.

Bubblegum was released by Domino Records on October 5th and can be purchased at the label's store, brick and mortar shops, or your favorite digital retailer.

Clinic play The Paradise on Monday November 8th with The Fresh & Onlys and Viva Viva.

Clinic - I'm Aware

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

New & Free :: The Decemberists

The King is Dead, the just announced sixth album from Portland, OR's The Decemberists will be released on January 18th. The band have just posted Down By The Water for free download over at their site or you can just grab it below, we're good to you like that. The track finds the band shedding the prog rock of The Hazards of Love in favor for straight ahead folk pop. A welcome return, playing to the band strengths.