Tuesday, November 27, 2007

The Shondes launch Chanukah and onward tour, debut album compared to Sleater-Kinney, Patti Smith and Rasputina to follow.

“Ready for an indie break out....radical politics, inspired riffs, textured harmonies and pure sex appeal“ – Curve Magazine

“Seamlessly fusing art and politics” – Punk Planet

“Hard-driving, politically savvy rock ‘n roll” – Flavorpill

“A powerful new sound” – Heeb Magazine

The Shondes, a Brooklyn, NY quartet taking its name from the Yiddish word for “shame” or “disgrace” has launched a winter tour to preface the release of its debut album, The Red Sea produced by Tony Maimone (Pere Ubu, They Might Be Giants, Book Of Knots) in early 2008. The Shondes’ dramatic rock has been compared to Sleater-Kinney, Patti Smith and Rasputina, but audiences tend to marvel at the band’s urgent, genre-breaching live sound. The Shondes -- Temim Fruchter (drums/vocals), Louisa Solomon (bass/vocals), Ian Brannigan (guitar) and Elijah Oberman (violin/vocals) -- quickly gained popularity in its native city thanks to its complex melodic song structures combined with rich, intertwined vocals.

The Shondes’ songwriting fuses the various musical traditions of feminist punk, classical, Jewish and queercore, while the band’s vocal melodies move effortlessly from anthemic to haunting -- textured by the distinct qualities of each of their voices. The result is a unique sound that is both heartbreaking and hopeful. The high energy of its live shows bring audiences along for the ride, with audience members often singing along and swaying to the punchy rhythms and soaring melodies.

From its formation, The Shondes has maintained a rigorous tour schedule including two national tours, a Midwest mini-tour, regular east coast dates, and festivals such as North by Northeast and Homo A Go Go. The group has shared the stage with indie luminaries Electrelane, Erase Errata, Amy Ray, Mecca Normal, Joe Lally of Fugazi and Lesbians On Ecstasy, among others. The band also organizes events, often in partnership with local activist organizations, such as the Jews Against The Occupation Chanukah Ball and the Sylvia Rivera Law Project’s Valentine’s Day Party. The Shondes’ debut album, The Red Sea will be released on January 8, 2008, following its nationwide winter tour.

The Shondes Live:
11/28 Ann Arbor, MI TC’s Speakeasy
11/30 Bloomington, IN Rhino’s
12/01 Madison, WI The Annex
12/02 St. Paul, MN Big V’s
12/05 Seattle, WA The Crocodile Café
12/07 Olympia, WA Le Voyeur
12/08 Portland, OR Mississippi Pizza
12/12 San Francisco, CA Annie’s Social Club
12/14 Santa Barbara, CA TBA
12/15 San Diego, CA TBA
12/16 Los Angeles, CA Echo Curio Gallery
12/19 St. Louis, MO The Bluebird
12/22 Louisville, KY The Rudyard Kipling
12/23 Chicago, IL Schubas

The Red Sea Album Tracklisting:
Release Date: January 8th, 2008
Stream The Album HERE

01. Don’t Look Down
02. Your Monster
03. Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow (MP3)
04. Winter
05. Let’s Go
06. I Watched the Temple Fall
07. At the Water
08. What Love Is
09. The Mother and the Colony
10. Don’t Whisper
11. The Start of Everything

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Tuesday, November 13, 2007

80’s Psychedelic Death Rock group Soul Merchants reissues legendary discography.

Soul Merchants’ music is best described as the band dubbed it 20 years ago: psychedelic death rock. On the surface, one could consider the quartet Denver’s version of Sisters of Mercy, but even in the ‘80s these guys were too old to be the new hip goth act and their ‘60s psych and ‘70s glam influences shined brightly over the darkness. Too punk for the goths and too goth for the punks, Soul Merchants never fit well into the scene yet still collected a devoted fan-base during its brief 1985-’87 tenure. After an exhausting two years with over a hundred songs recorded, Soul Merchants threw in the towel and performed its final show at the inaugural South By Southwest music festival in Austin, TX.

This double disc set (a 15-track sampler has been issued to the media) contains 80 minutes of music on each disc, compiling the best material from the group’s four-track recording sessions. The songs come from Soul Merchants’ cassette releases only, as the Gates of Heaven LP will likely be reissued as its own entity in the future. Each song was remixed and remastered from the original tapes at Absinthe Studio by former Soul Merchant Bob Ferbrache.

Ferbrache also performed in the experimental band Human Head Transplant simultaneously with Soul Merchants. He subsequently went on to create most music in Blood Axis (a collaboration with Lords of Chaos author Michael Moynihan), joined 16 Horsepower and Tarantella, and filled in for Slim Cessna’s Auto Club. However, he is perhaps best known for his production work for NON, Death In June, Berlin, Bow Wow Wow, and, in Soul Merchant days, The Fluid, Warlock Pinchers and Bum Kon (whose highly-collectible early recordings will also be reissued in early 2008 on Smooch Records.)

1985-1987 Full Album Tracklisting:
Release Date: October 23rd, 2007
Stream The Sampler Disc HERE

Disc One:
01. Crown of Glory
02. Joanna
03. It Hurts
04. Mary Had
05. Lady Godiva’s Diary
06. Save My Soul
07. Mental Clay
08. Anthem
09. Carelessly a Boy
10. Marianne
11. Just One More Favor
12. When I Smile
13. Valentine’s Day
14. Roten Rose
15. The Meek
16. Patrick McCarren
17. Still Waters
18. In the Light
19. Ceremony
20. Atomic Reign

Disc Two:
01. Blue Light
02. Beating Heart
03. Armoured Factions
04. Out of the Shadows
05. The Sea
06. Cold Dark Bed
07. Love
08. Web of Illusion
09. Within Josephine
10. Lucifer’s Gunn
11. Joshua’s Song
12. Nowhere Land
13. I Regret
14. Attics
15. Black Rain
16. Speedboat
17. Say It Isn’t So
18. Cold
19. Kiss the Girls and Make Them Die
20. On Cloudy Days

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Zookeeper receives much praise for Becoming All Things, and announces additional tour dates in support of critically acclaimed debut album.

“On the celebratory ‘Trumpets’ (MP3) and the down-home jam ‘Ballad Of My Friends,’ (MP3) it sounds like the extended family is genuinely enjoying themselves.” – CMJ

“The mournful piano and organ mesh perfectly with acoustic guitars on the hushed hymn “On High,” while the stomping, trumpet-festooned ‘Ballad Of My Friends’ screams pure joy. Just Like in his former bands, Simpson’s wobbly voice always rings true, conveying that his heart is on his sleeve.” – Alternative Press

“It wouldn’t be too far off to call this classic rock done in the 21st Century, with the barnyard drums and Heartland chords… A promising restart for a gifted songwriter, definitely hints at great things to come.” – Lollipop.com

Austin-based band Zookeeper, led by Chris Simpson – the former songwriter and front man for the groundbreaking original-era emo bands Mineral and The Gloria Record – has just announced additional tour dates to round out 2007. See below for a complete itinerary.

This year has been a highly productive one for the group, bouncing in and out of the Top 10 for months as one of the most blogged about bands on the internet according to aggregator elbo.ws. The praise comes on the heels of Zookeeper’s self-titled EP and recently released debut album Becoming All Things. Alternative Press recently featured the band as well, and previous tours with Umbrellas and The Good Life have been enthusiastically received. Those unable to catch the band’s live show on this round of dates can view the group in action HERE and stream Becoming All Things HERE.

More about Zookeeper:
Sometimes, taking a break can be a very good thing. Chris Simpson, former songwriter and front man for two influential late ‘90s bands, knows a few things about breaking up. After disbanding post-punk emo progenitor Mineral just after the band signed to a major, and taking an indefinite hiatus from shoegazer follow-up The Gloria Record midway through recording a fourth record, he virtually disappeared from the music scene for two years.

It is this quiet period of Simpson’s career that has proven his most prolific to date. It allowed him time to step back, regroup, and remember what he loved about music in the first place - penning songs and performing acoustically, just as he had done as a teenager in his hometown of Denver. He bought and became enchanted with a piano. He dusted off record albums he hadn’t listened to in a decade. He found himself, for the first time in years, brimming with ideas and melodies.

Newly inspired, he resumed songwriting, laying the groundwork for a fresh sound that would grow organically out of an informal gathering of new and old friends making music they loved. Eventually the group packed into an Austin studio to record live: loose, impromptu songs replete with shaking tambourines, exuberant horns, honky-tonk keys, and, at alternating turns, lyrical depth and whimsy. They recorded, in part or whole, spanning several months and several studios, over 40 songs. Simpson had fallen in love with music again, simply by stepping away from it.

The new body of work – the recently released Zookeeper EP and this scintillating debut LP, Becoming All Things (Belle City Pop!) – boasts a supporting cast of musicians comprised of former Mineral and Gloria Record members and new collaborators (indie-folk artist Alex Dupree, Sad Accordions, and Zykos), and brings Simpson back to his roots. It is this self-possession gained from solitude, this tipping of the hat to where he’s been while moving assuredly forward, that gives Simpson’s latest offering its buoyant, timeless appeal.

“I’m just thrilled to have another entry in Simpson’s canon. He’s been gone too long and this is a welcome return from one of my favorite songwriters.” – Liepaper.com

“…some of the jangliest, loose-limbed pop music of the year so far. In just one listen, you’ll get a taste for his spirit and passion about music.” – Quick Before It Melts

Zookeeper Live:
11/24 Houston, TX The Proletariat
11/26 Atlanta, GA The Earl
11/27 Chapel Hill, NC Local 506
11/28 Washington, DC Red and Black Bar
11/29 New York, NY Piano’s
12/05 Chicago, IL The Beat Kitchen
12/06 Des Moines, IA Vaudeville Mews
12/07 Bloomington, IN Bear’s Place

Becoming All Things Tracklisting:
Release Date: November 6th, 2007
Stream The Album HERE

01. Snow In Berlin (MP3)
02. On Madison Way
03. Trumpets (MP3)
04. Ballad of My Friends (MP3)
05. Boy and The Street Choir
06. Al Kooper’s Party Horn
07. Everyone’s A DJ (MP3)
08. On High
09. Becoming All Things (MP3)
10. Born With Things To Do

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Monday, November 12, 2007

Clipd Beaks “...encapsulates all the complex emotions and paranoia that comes with being young in 2007.”

“Experiencing ‘Black Glass’ (MP3) — or any track on Hoarse Lords, really—without being half in the liquor-store bag and surrounded by others in the same or worse condition is a disservice to Clipd Beaks’ groove spew.” – Paper Thin Walls

“Clipd Beaks are profoundly intense live. They have the power to elicit something very rare in an audience,” says the band's label head Mookie Singerman of Lovepump United (HEALTH, Genghis Tron) when asked what sold him on signing the band and releasing it’s new album Hoarse Lords. The album is out on November 13th and Clipd Beaks is currently touring across America. See below for dates.

“I happened to hear Clipd Beaks rather randomly on MySpace and I was immediately taken by how simultaneously lush and noisy they were,” Singerman says. “I couldn't help but think of the first time I had heard Sonic Youth or My Bloody Valentine. The songwriting seemed so mature and they had such a good grasp on their own unique sound -- this is of course having very much to do with the fact that they’ve been playing music with each other since they were kids.”

“We (Singerman and business partner Jake Friedman) went to South By Southwest incredibly excited to see this band. And then they played. And it was fucking mind blowing -- the dark, swirling, alienated feel of their live set encapsulates all the complex emotions and paranoia that comes with being young in 2007.”

And what does Clipd Beaks have to say for itself? When guitarist Greg Pritchard describes the band’s sound as “the anxiety of five boys growing into men in the strange last days of American Empire,” he's not kidding. The men of Clipd Beaks met as boys -- bassist Scott Ecklein and drummer Ray Benjamin at the age of seven -- and have made music together ever since.

It's no wonder that in an interview with The Fader recently, Pritchard described the recording of Hoarse Lords as a situation that only true brothers could muster: “It’s all totally written on the spot as the four of us together. I don’t really play music except when I’m with everybody else. This is what we do when we hang out as friends. We’re going to get a case of beer and play some music.” Read the entire interview with The Fader HERE.

Experience the band that the LA Weekly calls the “supermax-tight monolith monsters of psychedelia” and which XLR8R says “...makes you feel grateful just for being alive.” Clipd Beaks is on tour now.

More Clipd Beaks Info, Tools, and Photos:

Clipd Beaks Live:
11/12 Cincinatti, OH Skull Lab
11/13 Columbus, OH Bourbon St.
11/15 Toronto, ONT Sneaky Dee's
11/16 Montreal, PQ Casa del Popolo
11/17 Quebec City, QC Le Bal du Lezard
11/18 Jamaica Plains, MA The Milky Way
11/19 Annadale-on-Hudson, NY Bard College
11/21 Providence, Rhode Island AS220
11/23 New York, NY Cake Shop
11/24 Brooklyn, NY Todd P Show (Venue TBA)
11/25 Philadelphia, PA Queen Sheba II
11/27 Purchase, NY SUNY Purchase
11/28 Washington DC The Bobby Fisher Memorial
11/29 Columbia, SC New Brookland Tavern
11/30 Atlanta, GA Lenny's Bar
12/01 Birmingham, AL Bottletree
12/02 Hot Springs, AR The Exchange
12/04 Houston, TX Proletariat
12/05 San Antonio, TX Rock Bottom Tattoo Bar
12/06 Denton, TX Secret Headquarters
12/07 Austin, TX Emo's
12/10 Phoenix, AZ Modified Arts

Hoarse Lords Tracklisting:
Stream The Album HERE
Release Date: November 13th, 2007

01. Melter (MP3)
02. Wrathscapes
03. Manipulator (MP3)
04. High on Charms
05. Hoarse Lords
06. We Will Bomb You (We Will)
07. Woo Melodies
08. Black Glass (MP3)
09. Let It Win

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Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Sweetheart duo Dan Bejar of Destroyer and Lady Sydney Vermont conjure a timeless collection as Hello, Blue Roses. Debut LP upcoming on Locust Music.

The romantically entwined duo of Dan Bejar (Destoyer, Swan Lake, New Pornographers) and Sydney Vermont (visual artist, Bonaparte vocalist, former Toronto Children’s Choir kid singer) performing under the moniker Hello, Blue Roses have announced the release of their first album. The 13-track debut will be released by Chicago-based label Locust Music. The self-titled disc draws on everything from an unabashed love of 80’s AOR ala Prefab Sprout and Kate Bush to prime Aquarian-age femme folk of the 60’s and 70’s to create an infectious, readymade classic.

Listen to “Shadow Falls” by Hello, Blue Roses HERE.

“When I listen to the sound of it, I hear European pastoral music butting up against a harsh 80’s reality,” Bejar says. “The Hello, Blue Roses songs are completely untethered to any of the bullshit streams coursing through the scene right now. That’s just how Syd writes them; it’s not her fault. They’re completely melodious, but still so strange. It’s a product of not really caring what people think, but still caring a lot about people.”

“Dan supports every strange idea I have ever had,” says Vermont, “and then we craft it into something to our liking. We hear different things in the songs and try to bring both visions into it, which involves a lot of trust and generosity, because we are very different. It makes for an overall eclectic sound, which still has its own organic logic.”

Hello, Blue Roses’ debut will hit stores on January 22, 2008. In the interim, fans can sample exclusive Hello, Blue Roses tracks on a tour-only split 7” with Frog Eyes due out on Absolutely Kosher in December and a split 7” with kindred Locust Music act across the pond, Starless & Bible Black which will usher in the new year in physical form and see digital release around the holidays. The Roses side will feature the band’s eponymous and punctuation-free anthem “Hello Blue Roses” while Starless & Bible Black offer the cut “Calico” -- a newly recorded wintry affair. This release will be strictly limited and will initially be available via mailorder off of the Locust Music website.

Hello, Blue Roses’ decision to team up with Locust Music is totally apropos given the celebrated label’s wide-eyed approach and Hello, Blue Roses’ own deeply accessible but eclectic sound. “The roster seemed impossibly all over the place, and also not tied down to any era or genre,” Bejar says. “But once you start looking at everything they’ve done, it’s pretty impressive and head-scratching.”

“Outside of the influences of 60’s and 70’s singer/songwriters, Bejar and Vermont are touching on some of the popular music of the 80’s that a lot of us 30-somethings have lived with whether we liked it or not,” says Locust label head Dawson Prater of the Hello, Blue Roses material. Prater continues, “At the heart of it, I think all of us have this repository in our heads where popular music takes root and Hello, Blue Roses has gone there in a totally unironic way. Dan and Sydney have recast the sweetness and mismatched optimism of the music of the Reagan era to the way it should sound, the way this stuff often sounds in our heads -- and that’s what timelessness is all about.”

Hello Blue Roses Tracklisting:
Release Date: January 22, 2008

01. Hello Blue Roses
02. Scarecrow
03. Paquita Reads By Candlelight
04. Shadow Falls (MP3)
05. Heron Song
06. St. Angela
07. Coming Through Imposture
08. Golden Fruit
09. Come Darkness
10. Sunny Skies
11. Mediterranean Snow
12. Skeleton Aim
13. Sickly Star
14. Hymn

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