Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Reviewed :: Mars Classroom - The New Theory of Everything

Late last year when it was announced that Robert Pollard had a recorded an album's worth of material with Gary Waliek of our beloved Big Dipper we nearly fell out of our chairs. But after we gave it some more thought we realized that this dream team collaboration, made perfect sense. After all we witnessed Pollard's Big Dipper fandom first hand when he tapped them to open a show at The Paradise for his Boston Spaceships in 2008. Not to mention that he was perched at the side of the stage for Big Dipper entire set that evening, showing his obvious appreciation. Was it that fall evening in Boston that the seeds of Mars Classroom were planted? Who knows. More importantly what would the pairing of the magnanimous Robert Pollard and Gary Waliek, founding member of both Volcano Suns and Big Dipper sound like?

Rest assured, Mars Classroom works on every level. With assistance from Pell Mell's Robert Beerman , Pollard and Waliek have issued an instantly satisfying collection of mostly chiming guitar power-pop with a few curve balls to keep us on our toes. The album works so well because of the pristine and varied guitar driven underbelly that Waliek provides throughout, which allows Pollard to insert some of his most direct and stirring melodies. The New Theory of Everything is book ended by two of Pollards most instantly satisfying tracks. The title track had us reaching for the repeat button from fist listen and the albums final track, Wish You Were Young is a gorgeous, albeit melancholy gem, that reminds us a bit of the quieter moments from GBV's 2001 TVT released, Isolation Drills. But our odds on favorite track is the jagged Pre Meds A Trip which finds the trio upping the noise and prog factor all the while pummeling you with blistering pop hooks. But then again this record has a habit of revealing a new favorite with each listen.

Depending on who you ask you might get a slightly different answer, but to say that Robert Pollard has been on hot streak over the last few years is a gross understatement and Mars Classroom manages not only to continue the streak it manages to raise the bar a bit. Tell you're old college buddies, you know the ones you talked into that GBV reunion show, to pay attention, Mars Classroom is the Pollard pop record they've been waiting for, and frankly so have we. Let's hope this is not the last we hear from Mr's Pollard, Waliek, and Beerman as Mars Classroom because it's too good to be a passing fling.

Buy it via The Factory of Raw Essentials

Friday, March 25, 2011

Reviewed :: The Grownup Noise - This Time With Feeling

Boston's baroque pop stalwarts, The Grownup Noise are poised to celebrate the release of their second long player, This Time With Feeling on Saturday with an impressive line up at The Middle East. More on that in a bit. First allow us to provide the obligatory back story. The Grownup Noise formed in 2005 after Adam Sankowksi (bass/vocals) and Paul Hansen (guitar/vocals) paths crossed while attending Berklee College of Music. They released their self titled debut in 2007 and now four years later the band are about to drop This Time With Feeling. The album was recorded in and around New England and according to the press released some of the albums vocals were tracked in Hansen's bathroom. The album was mixed in North Carolina by studio engineer/producer Scott Solter (The Mountain Goats/Spoon), who also provides additional instrumentation to several of the albums tracks.

For the past several weeks I've been struck by the simple beauty of This Time With Feeling. From the very first listen I connected immediately with lyrical imagery of looking back on our youth as well as to present, to the struggles or adulthood. There's something incredibly honest and comfortable about these songs, something almost familiar. The albums rich textures are in large part due to each member being a gifted multi-instrumentalist, it's also what gives the album a true collaborative feel. on This Time.., the Grownup Noise deftly tread the line between Folk and Americana to reveal 12 complex and engaging pop songs. Some of our favorite moments come when Paul Hansen's croon is complemented by the angelic voice of Katie French(cello) on a handful of the albums tracks. With the should be hit single Just So You Know as well as our personal favorite Six Foot Solemn Oath, The Grownup Noise have issued a record that's both irresistible and eclectic, not to mention completely addicting from the very first listen.

We are pleased to be able to offer up a pair of tickets to The Album Release Show that also features, Kingsley Flood, Spouse, & Joe Fletcher & The Wrong Reasons at The Middle East as well as two copies of the new album. Yes, you and your +1 will both get a copy of This Time With Feeling. If you wish to enter, just send an e-mail to ashgrayproclamation.com with The Grownup Noise in the subject line. Due to the show being tomorrow we will announce our winner today at 5PM. Good Luck

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Transmissions :: Double Dagger

Whenever we get the opportunity to share anything from the world of Baltimore's Post-Hardcore wizards Double Dagger, we jump at the opportunity. This video was shot a couple of nights ago by a fan named Rob Brulinski. That same evening an other fan reportedly not Rob shot video with the web cam on his Macbook. Why haven't we attempted this yet? Probably because we're not sure how we'd explain our laptop being smashed to bits to our bosses and significant others. If you're looking for a crystal clear recording of this band, look elsewhere. However if you would like to witness the glorious chaos of a Double Dagger show, look no further.

*Not recommended for those prone to motion sickness

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Transmissions :: Crystal Stilts

Brooklyn's Crystal Stilts are ready to drop their new LP, In Love With Oblivion on April 12th via Slumberland Records. Through the Floor is the second single taken from an album that we can't wait to get our mitts on. They continue their minimalist approach to all things Crystal Stilts in this video in an almost non-video, instead letting the excellence of the track speak for itself.

Friday, March 18, 2011

The Return of Comet Gain

For the better part of two decades England's shambolic pop pioneers, Comet Gain have been churning out endearing and highly influential records of lo-fi pop.But the band's been a ramshackle affair from the beginning, something the bands founder refers to as the Comet Gain Curse. Since forming by David Feck in 1993 the band has gone through several line up changes, in fact as they're constituted today Feck is the only original member. Not to mention the frequent label changes, Comet Gain has released albums for Beggars Banquet, Kill Rock Stars, What's Your Rapture? and on May 16th they will release their seventh long player, Howl of The Lonely Crowd via their new and hopefully long-term label Fortuna Pop!.

The album features a heavy weight production team anchored by Edwyn Collins
(Orange Juice), with assistance from Ryan Jarman (The Cribbs), Brian O'Shaugnessey (My Bloody Valentine/Primal Scream) and Alisdair MacLean (The Clientele). Partially recorded at Collins' West Health Studios, Howl Of The Lonely Crowd is the bands first official studio LP, since 2005's City Fallen Leaves and follows 2008's superlative compilation Broken Record Prayers. We assume you prefer to get bad news from us at the end of a post,so here goes, it saddens us to inform you that as of today there is no word of U.S. release date. But we're hopeful that one of America's esteemed independent labels will step up and find a place on their rosters for one of Britain's best and as far as we can tell criminally under appreciated bands. C'mon Matador, Merge, and Slumberland Records, (to name but a few) we're counting on you.

Comet Gain have given the privilege of debuting the first track from the album, Working Circle Explosive to Clash Music. You can grab it here.

[Video] Comet Gain - You Can Hide Your Love Forever

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

We Were There :: Telekinesis|The Love Language| & Slowdim @ T.T. The Bears

There's something utterly unique about seeing bands play inside the confines of T.T.The Bears place in Central Square. Weather it's the history of the room, we once saw Paul Westerberg perform under the alias Thadeus Moonbeam to a packed house of 250 sweaty patrons in 93'. Or perhaps it's the fact that you can find the evenings performers hanging out at the bar pre and post show. Or is it the fact that we have yet to see a sub par performance at 10 Brookline street?

As you may have read on these pages last week we were eager to witness the first ever live performance from Slowdim. The Boston trio ran through their recently released Spirals EP and displayed their penchant for smart indie pop. The band began their set as duo with fronter Paul Sentz and bassist Karina Dacosta covering some the bands quieter material before drummer Ethan Cannon joined in for the remainder of the set which culminated with a jaw dropping version of Don't Cough me Out. An impressive jumping off point from one of our city's most promising new bands.

We were vaguely familiar with North Carolina's The Love Language going into this show, however what had heard we liked. Live the band jettisons the mid-fi sounds of their debut, in favor gothic twang and classic pop hooks. A performance that caused us to make a trip to the bands merch table for a copy of their Merge Records debut, Libraries. Something we should have done months ago, shame on us.

With his drum kit front and center Telekinesis mastermind Micheal Benjamin Lerner took to the stage flanked by Bassist Jason Narducy and guitarist Cody Votolato to put the cap on a Merge-centric evening. Drawing heavily from the excellent and just released, 12 Desperate Straight Lines LP, as well as selected tracks bands self titled debut. The band tore through a raucous and exhilarating set only slowing occasionally for Lerner to pick up a guitar as he did for I Saw Lightning and to assemble his buddies in The Love Language for a blistering cover of the GBV classic Game of Pricks. The evening was put to bed when Telekinesis returned to the stage one last time to play Coast of Carolina which prompted everyone in the room to raise a glass and sing along with Lerner's every word. A sweaty beer drenched Tuesday night never sounded better.

*photos taken with one of our crappy smart phones, due to the SLR being on the fritz.

Slowdim|The Love Language|Telekinesis

Monday, March 14, 2011

Transmissions :: Times New Viking

This just released short film, from Columbus OH, lo-fi goliaths,Times New Viking features a few samples of the bands forthcoming Merge Records debut. These tracks as well as the previously shared No Time to Live sound decidedly more melodic and dare we say listener friendly, while maintaining they're DIY charm. Dancer Equired will be released on April 26th. The band is headed to Austin later this week to play 5 shows at this years SXSW, lets hope it won't be too long until TNV returns to the Boston area.

March Live Dates:
13 | Birmingham, AL, Bottletree
14 | Little Rock, AR, Sticky Fingerz Rock ‘N’ Roll Chicken Shack
15 | Beaumont, TX, Victoria House
17 | Austin, TX, East Side Drive In (Pitchfork #offline)
18 | Austin, TX, Urban Outfitters Back Lot (Ground Control Touring party)
18 | Austin, TX, The Parish (Merge Records showcase)
19 | Austin, TX, Home Slice Pizza (MXTS - Music by the Slice)
22 | Nashville, TN, Mercy Lounge
23 | Asheville, NC, Grey Eagle


Forthcoming :: Lets Wrestle

Certain bands leave their mark on very first listen. These are the bands that freeze you ever so briefly in time. You remember exactly where you were and what you were doing when you first heard their music . Lets Wrestle came along just when I needed them most, I had recently been laid off and working a horrible stop gap, pay the bills job. The bands debut resonated with me and as a result became my go to album that year. So I'm thrilled to be able to share the news of the bands new LP. On May 17th London's skewed pop stalwarts, Lets Wrestle will issue Nursing Home their second long player via the impeccable Merge Records. The album was tracked last year at Electrical Audio in Chicago with Steve Albini and features the bands now signature dim world view and razor sharp wit. Last week the trio shared up the album track Dear John, a jarring and unrelenting slice of noise pop. To follow the transcendent, In The Court of Wrestling Lets is no small task, but if Dear John is any indication it certainly sounds like they're up for the challenge.

Let's Wrestle - Dear John


Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Introducing :: Slowdim

It's not all that often that we get witness a bands first ever live performance. Sure we've had the good fortune to catch some national acts as they've made their first Boston performances. But this is a horse of a different color. Boston's ascending indie pop trio, Slowdim hit the stage at TT The Bears tonight as part of a Merge-centric line-up that features North Carolina's The Love Language and Seattle's pop treasure,Telekenesis. Slowdim is the brainchild of Paul Sentz (This Car Up) who wrote and recorded the bands debut EP in his apartment during one of Boston's most brutal snow filled winters in recent memory. The band also features drummer Ethan Cannon and Karina DeCosta (28 Degrees of Taurus). Slowdim released the Spitals EP last month via their bandcamp page for low price of $5.00, we recommend you grab it immediately. The band will hit the TT's stage at 9PM for their first public performance, but get there early for a chance to grab a FREE 3-song tape that band will be handing out to the first 25 people through the door. Be there.


Monday, March 7, 2011

Transmissions :: Bird of Youth

Brooklyn's rising folk pop ensemble, Bird of Youth have recently recorded an acoustic video series to tease the upcoming release of their Will Sheff [Okkervil River] produced debut album, Defender, which will be released on May 24th. Bird of Youth is fronted by former music journalist, Beth Wawerna and features contributions from members of The National, Nada Surf, The Wrens, and The Mendoza Line. Check out the bare bones and gorgeous version of the album track, The Great Defender, above.