Thursday, June 30, 2011

"Loud as Fuck": An Interview with Young Adults [Part 1]

Last year when we heard the demo from Young Adults our jaws were on the floor. A true eureka moment for sure. That 5 track demo sounded as if it could have been recorded in a shipping container, not in a dingy Allston basement by the brothers Villon, Chris and Kurt respectively with Dimitri Swan. That was part of it's charm, lo-fidelity raucous post-punk and dirty riffs with a propulsive rhythm section. Back in November Young Adults delivered their full length debut, Black Hole via Prague based Amdiscs. Black Hole features the re-recording of the five demo tracks as well as five new compositions. With a little more focus and the trios ragged wall of noise Young Adults owned one of the most impressive debut in recent memory.

Over the past week we have been conducting an interview with Young Adults fronter, Chris Villon via email. Due to the band being in a state of flux with the departure of their bassist, Chris thought it would be best not answer those questions related to the current state of the band just yet and we completely understand that and respect his decision. However Chris did give us some insight into his bands new recordings as well as what we can expect from Young Adults first Boston show with new bassist Daniel O'Neil. So without further delay we're proud to present part one of our interview with Chris Villon.

The Ash Gray Proclamation: Back in May a new song, Stasis found it's way onto YouTube, that track seems to offer a hefty upgrade in aggressive sonic textures, even more so that those found on Black Hole. Is there intent to push the bands sound into a heavier direction or is Stasis just one color from the bands changing canvas?

Chris Villon: There has always been the intent to keep our band heavy in some way, so Stasis is really just par for the course. But yeah, that one is particularly aggressive. We need that energy to keep ourselves going!

AGP: You've been part of the close knit Allston scene since the band formed in 2009, what can tell us about how the things have changed in your backyard since starting Young Adults.

CV: Boston/Allston's scene is always changing and taking new shapes. This past year saw cool bands both new and sorta-new making moves: Quilt, Arvid Noe, Skimask, MMOSS, Girlfriends, Doomstar!, Thick Shakes, Soccer Mom, Night Fruit, just to name a few.... There has been good support for touring acts as well. I saw Brilliant Colors (from SF) the other week in an Allston basement and they rocked my socks off. Great Scott continues to be our favorite venue for independent music, and Brighton Music Hall is doing a good job getting the 'upper-tier' indie acts to come and play in Boston.

AGP: With appearances at Deep Heaven Now and last winters round-robin style, Underground Summit, your band has a strong connection with DIY scene in Boston/Allston. Can you tell us how you came to be involved in those worthwhile events?

CV: I can trace both of those events to two passionate individuals: Jinsen Liu of 28 Degrees Taurus who as far as I know singlehandedly put together the DHN fests for the past couple of years, and Dan Shea of Bodies of Water Shows who has contributed to a plethora of amazing shows and fests. Both Jinsen and Dan are fans of the band and we deeply appreciate their support. Passionate, selfless, energetic people are what keep scenes alive and help them flourish. Boston would not be the same place without these people! Props to Sam and the Boston Counter-Cultural Compass too!

AGP:What bands do you tell your non-Boston friends that they must go see when visiting?

CV: In addition to the bands already listed, Neptune and Helms need to be seen. Hopefully Helms is at work at a new album as we speak.

AGP: We were immediately drawn to the band based on what we thought we heard, Husker Du/Dinosaur/Mission Burma and how the band transformed those influences into something unique. How have those influences (and others) shaped the sound of Young Adults?

CV: Bob Mould helped shape a lot of other bands' guitar tones and I am no exception. It's so true. As I went along playing louder and louder music, I kept thinking "Bob Mould, Bob Mould." Haha. All of the 80s and 90s indie bands that came from hardcore and punk roots are definitely in the DNA of our music, no doubt. We owe them a lot to not just ape their sound. We want to contribute in anyway that we can to the awesome legacy of American indie rock.

: How did the Young Adults/Ringo Deathstarr pairing come about?

CV: I've been a fan of theirs ever since I saw them play at Tufts University with the Psychic Paramount years ago. Amazing show. Loud as fuck. I couldn't stop listening to their first EP and I desperately wanted them to come to Boston again. Fast forward about two years and we ended up playing right next door to them at SXSW! I asked Daniel, the drummer, to please stay for our set and check us out because I felt that he'd get us. He was psyched after our set and I told him that I'd stay in touch. This show is pretty much for Ringo Deathstarr.

AGP: What can we expect from your performance at Great Scott this Saturday?

CV: It will be our first Boston show with our new bassist. It's gonna be loud as fuck all over. Come out!

Check out this performance of Wasting Time with new bassist Daniel O'Neil recorded just last week during the NYCTaper/Pop Tarts Showcase @ Northside Fest 2011. This entire set can be downloaded over at NYC Taper as of today!

Young Adults performing a new track, Stasis @ Pianos in NYC on April 30th .
Both videos come courtesy of Gimme Tinnitus

Young Adults play Great Scott on Staruday July 2nd with Ringo Deathstarr, Thief Thief, and The Vandelles. Grab tickets here. If you haven't already done so, download the bands demo here and order Black Hole here.

Thank you to Chris Villon and Young Adults for being gracious with their time. Stay tuned for part 2 of this interview sometime in the not too distant future.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Ladybug Transistor & Hallelujah The Hills | T.T. The Bears Place

After a five year absence Brooklyn's purveyors of lush indie pop, The Ladybug Transistor are back and touring in support of their new LP, Clutching Stems out now on Merge Records. The band will play TT's on Thursday along with Boston's inventive pop titans, Hallelujah The Hills who are in the midst of recording their third full length and have decided to take a studio break long enough to play their one and only show of the summer. With considerable assistance from rising locals, Cotton Candy and St. Claire this makes for a formidable line up, not to be missed. Do what's right for America on the brink of Independence Day and be there.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Transmissions :: Boston Spaceships - Let it Beard Trailer

For what is easily our most anticipated release of the year, Robert Pollard's Boston Spaceships have issued this trailer/teaser for the forthcoming 26 song opus, Let It Beard. The double album will be released on August 2nd through Guided By Voices, Inc. and will feature contributions from Steve Wynn (The Dream Syndicate), Colin Newman (Wire), J. Mascis, Dave Rick (King Missile/Phantom Tollboth), and Mitch Mitchell (GBV..duh!). You can expect a review of the album on these pages next month. Until then be proactive and pre- order the album as well as the new kick ass Let It Beard T from The Factory of Raw Essentials.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Today's Short Bursts :: Big Star + Paul Hawkins & The Awkward Silences

For their last performance as Big Star, Jody Stephens, Ken Stringfellow, and Jon Auer were joined by fans and friends that included founding Big Star member, the late Andy Hummel, R.E.M.'s Mike Mills, Sondre Lerche, and Superdrag fronter John Davis, to pay tribute to the life and music of Alex Chilton. Earlier this week Ardent Records issued the first recording from that evenings tribute, via a 7" featuring John Davis' handling vocals on 3 classics from #1 Record.

“The performances really tell the story of what happened and how we all felt about that evening at Memphis' Levitt Shell. The idea of trying to release the show in its entirety was overwhelming in the sense of time and effort needed for all performance clearances. So I thought, first artist first: John Davis was the first of many wonderful guest artists to join us on stage. He wailed on three songs: "In The Street," "Don't Lie To Me" and "When My Baby's Beside Me." These were just the right amount songs (and time) for an EP release. So with mastering engineer Larry Nix and Big Star's engineer, John Fry, and our Neumann cutting lathe all residing in the Ardent Studios building how could we not cut vinyl?
“We hope to release more of the show down the road. Thank you.

-Jody Stephens

All 3 tracks are currently streaming at the Big Star Muxtape Page

Order the John Davis with Big Star 7" at Ardent Music.

We're going to stop asking how they do it and just be glad that London based Audio Antihero continues to release consistently arresting records one after the other. On July 31st the U.K. taste makers will continue that tradition when they deliver the fourth installment of The Career Suicide Series with The Wrong Life, an EP from the newest addition to their formidable roster, Paul Hawkins & The Awkward Silences. Check the two tracks embeded below. Johnny is a bit unsettling with dead pan vocals and guitar squalls used with great effect. Unmistakably British and as awkward as it is brilliant.

Pre-order The Wrong Life EP at Audio Antihero

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Transmissions :: ANTIQUES - ETC

Looking for a band to split the difference between 60's garage rock and 90's lo-fi? Well you've just found em', Cambridge/Brooklyn/Abiline's Antiques will issue their fourth long player, JWNS on June 28th. We recommend you head over to their Bandcamp page and order it up. But in the meantime you might as well stick around and enjoy the bands new video for the track ETC, it's an ethereal garage anthem of crunchy guitars and sugary sweet vocals that hits us squarely in our wheel house.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Introducing :: Iceage

Denmark's rising pubescent punks, Iceage having already taken their homeland by storm over the past couple of years, are now setting their sights on the U.S. with today's release of their debut set, New Brigade on What's Your Rapture? The quartet of 18 and 19 year olds have garnered just comparisons to fellow Scandinavians, Refused [R.I.P.]. But where Refused deconstructed hardcore (with mastery), Iceage injects new life into the cannons of post-punk throughout their jagged and bracing debut. According to the bands blog, it appears that Iceage will be spending the bulk of the summer touring the U.S. with three Boston area dates over the next couple of months. The bands Boston debut comes this Friday when they play Royale with Fucked Up and Jeff The Brotherhood. For optical and aural evidence of what to expect, check the live video of You're Nothing and the embed of album opener, White Rune below and by all means, get their early.

Friday, June 17, 2011

This Weeks Short Bursts :: The Wave Pictures + Are Ess

After 10 years and over 30 releases Wymeswold, England's confessional pop stalwarts, The Wave Pictures issued their first stateside release last year, with the double LP and completely essential, Instant Coffee Baby and If You Leave it Alone. With their new offering and superbly titled, Beer in The Breakers The Wave Pictures will once again be playing shows on U.S. soil later this year. Beer in The Breakers finds the trio staying true to their previous releases, while at the same time propelling their sound forward with sardonic tales of mundane British life and the lo-fi aesthetic they've crafted over the past decade. With recording assistance from Daren Hayman of Hefner, The Wave Pictures tracked the new album in a single day. Check the album's second single and the Ben Reed directed video for Blue Harbour below.

Order Beer in The Breakers at Moshi Moshi Records or finer digital outlets.
Live photo courtesy of Celina Bordino.


The Wave Pictures - Blue Harbour

Our latest local discovery and current listening obsession is Cambridge based Are Ess. The brainchild of Robert Sergel, Are Ess have recently issued their self titled debut EP, which you can download for free via the Are Ess Bandcamp page. The seven song EP was written and recorded by Sergel at Bug Hill? After a google search came up empty we're guessing Bug Hill is of the home studio variety. Either way the Are Ess EP is a literal hook fest of fuzzy pop and shoegaze prowess and so completely deserving of your attention.

Robert Sergel is also responsible for the Eschew comic series.


Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Reviewed :: Louder My Dear - What's The Matter With You, Rock?

Louder My Dear is Boston's rising electronic/indie pop outfit, fronted by former Scuba founder David Grabowski. After the unfortunate demise of his former band, Grabowski armed with an albums worth of new matterial and with some assistance from Mike Quinn at Sommerville's Moontower Studios, began recording the tracks that would eventually become Louder My Dear's debut. Once the LMD line-up was solidified with Dennis Grabowski from Boston's post punk titans, The Beatings, Jason Macierowski on Bass, and Jim Greenleaf on Drums the band started playing shows in and around Boston to concordant praise.

What's The Matter With You, Rock? is an ambitious blend of electronics, sheets of distortion, and intelligent lyrics, not to mention deftly executed pop hooks. With a buoyant piano line, horn accompaniment and the opening line "please don't tell me you're pregnant" With A Dancer is the ace in the deck, it's stark lyricism is balanced beautifully by the tracks breezy and varied instrumentation. Throughout What's The Matter With You, Rock? LMD call upon an expansive palate of influences , from Swervedriver to Underworld without ever coming off as copyists, quite the opposite actually. The album closes with Little Boats, an austere acoustic strummer that utilizes nautical imagery with devastating effect. I can't say it's a grower if I've been listening to this album on a daily basis over the past couple of weeks now can I? But I will say that once What's The Matter With You, Rock? takes hold it won't loosen it's considerable grip. A wholly enjoyable and sparkling debut.

What's The Matter With You, Rock is available now at Louder My Dear's label home, Middriff Records. You can also listen to the album in it's entirety below.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Transmissions : Copy Haho - Hometown Video Guide # 2

A video guide to the town of Stonehaven #2 from COPY HAHO on Vimeo.

Back in April we told you about the forthcoming LP, from Scotland's pop phenoms, Copy Haho. Ahead of the June 20th release of the bands self titled debut and in an attempt to drive tourism, they've recently offered a second video to show us around their hometown of Stonehaven.

You can pre-order the album through the bands recently launched Slow Learner Records/Big Cartel. The deluxe vinyl package includes among other things, postcards from picturesque Stonehaven.

You can also view video guide #1 here

Friday, June 10, 2011

This Weeks Short Bursts :: Dananananaykroyd and Stuyvesant

Glasgow's fight pop phenoms are back! Dananananakroyd will release their sophomore set, There is a Way, on their recently launched Pizza College imprint on June 13rd. Unfortunately after an exhaustive search of the interwebs, we were unable to uncover any U.S. release date as of yet. However the album can be ordered through the bands digtal storefront in standard formats as well as deluxe edition that we're opting for, that includes a 2GB USB stick, a Pizza College T, and There is A Way tote. Just because you can never have too many tote bags or T-shirts for that matter. The album was produced by Ross Robinson, the man who twisted knobs on At The Drive In's Relationship of Command, an album that sits firmly in our all time top 20. So this album can't find a U.S. distributor soon enough. You can stream the entire album, both here as well as at Britain's foremost indie authority, Drowned in Sound.

Dananananaykroyd - There Is A Way by WorkItMedia


Hoboken's power poppers, Stuyvesant are set to drop their new long player, Fret Sounds on June 14th. The 10 track album will be issued on Jersey based, Doomsday Records. A play on The Beach Boys seminal recording, the album is filled with rich harmonies, big hooks, and buzz saw guitar play that recalls Husker Du at their absolute poppiest. Sound good? It is. Check out the infectious, St. Cloud as well as the bands brilliant new video for Duly Noted.

Stuyvesant - "St. Cloud" by dromedary


Tuesday, June 7, 2011

The Ash Gray Proclamation Turns 5

In the words of one my musical heroes, Paul Westerberg Time Flies Tomorrow.
It's hard to fathom that five years have passed since we started this blog. Back then it was a solo affair and a new medium for which to channel my passion, opinion, and enthusiasm for most things indie rock. Having just slammed the door on a 8 year run in commercial radio I was ready for a new chapter to begin. From the beginning our unofficial slogan was, "We're not Pulitzer Prize Winners, but we sure do try hard". In all seriousness, we hope you've found something worthwhile from time to time on these pages and we thank you first and foremost for your readership and your continued support.

I'd be remiss not to thank the following for their invaluable contributions over the past 5 years:
My co-conspirator Echoes Myron, the two headed blog monster, Todd Harrington for convincing me to launch this blog in the first place and to all the bands, labels, clubs, and promoters that shared their time and music with us. As well as to my fellow Boston Music Bloggers for setting the bar so high.

Below is a track from Guided By Voices that I found while digging through some old bootlegs that seemed appropriate. During the bands 2001 Isolation Drills tour they covered David Bowie's Five Years a mere 9 times, this is the last time the song was played live captured on the GBV Is The Devil Bootleg. Revel in it's awesomeness.

Guided By Voices - Five Years |Recorded Live in Asheville, N.C. 3/9/2001 by ashgrayproclamation

*as always, if anyone has an issue with this track being posted, please contact us at, and we will remove it immediately.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Transmissions :: Shellac - The End of Radio | Primavera Sound

"Welcome to my top 10, little drummer boy"

This video comes by the good graces Polar1One.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Reviewed :: Robert Pollard - Lord of The Birdcage

For his second solo and fourth overall release of 2011, Robert Pollard went to a collection of previously penned poems, with assistance from frequent collaborator and producer , Todd Tobias and transformed them into a cohesive LP filled with haunting acoustics, frantic power pop, and lush balladry. Having already released high caliber recordings with Mars Classroom (Gary Waliek of Big Dipper) Lifeguards, (former GBV guitarist Doug Gillard), and his own Space City Kicks this year, Pollard is operating with dare I say, surgical focus. [Apologies for the pun readers and uncle Bob, I couldn't resist working that in -Ed.]

Perhaps it was the description of the album in the press release that lessened my expectations, however I wasn't prepared for Lord of The Birdcage to be this good. The album opens with Smashed Middle Finger, at first a gentle guitar strummer, but only to give way to a fist pumping Who-esque romp with a killer chorus "I got a Smashed Middle Finger, I want to give to the world". Elsewhere Pollard delivers earnest and durable melodies. Dunce Codex shares qualities with some of Pollard's best songs, however that never distracts from the infectious and utterly addicting track. Like most releases from Robert Pollard, Lord of The Birdcage rewards the listener on repeated listens, especially on the prog punk of You Can't Challenge Forward Progress, the glam stomper Ribbon of Fat and the gorgeous acoustic ballad, In A Circle. But there's an argument to be made that Pollard saves his best songs to serve as album closers, as is the case with the power pop gem, Ash Ript Telecopter.

It can be daunting to keep up with the Über prolific release schedule of Robert Pollard, but when he continues to record and release consistently rich and engaging material like that found on Lord of The Birdcage, it continues to be (at least for this reviewer), an incredibly rewarding exorcise.

Lord of The Birdcage will be released on June 7th via GBV, Inc. and is currently getting the pre-release stream treatment over at Spinner.