Posts Tagged ‘dagger’

Fishboy at Dagger

You can be forgiven for not knowing about this long-running (well, about a decade) Denton, Texas-based bunch led by erstwhile Eric Michener (aka Eric Fishboy). If I’m counting correctly (using my fingers) this is full-length number four (and a graphic novel/comic book, too) and hot on the heels of their previous one, Classic Creeps that was released in 2011 (and the one before that was 2007’s Albatross; How we failed to Save the Lone Star State with the Power of Rock and Roll). OK, so yeah, the band is big on concept albums and a lot of the time you have no idea what Michener is on about. Re: this new record there is some concept in there though I’m not 100% sure what it is….but I hear something about elephants that turn into ghosts (in fact, speaking of ghosts, one of the best songs on here is “I’m a Ghost”).  Sometimes the band goes off on tangents, but on many of these songs Michener and his crew execute a level of commitment and determination not seen in a lot of indie rock/pop these days. In other words even if you’re not down with the concept album thing , don’t even worry about it, get An Elephant simply for being a record full for rockin’, catchy songs. Other songs worthy of your precious time include “Thomas Alva Waiting,” “Elephant in the Room,” “Dig a Grave: and a handful of others. If you dig most or all of the Elephant 6 catalog (specifically the Apples in Stereo, Neutral Milk Hotel and Of Montreal) then this will float your boat. www.yofishboy.com

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Black Watch at Dagger

After a million records (and nearly as many labels) it seem like L.A. ‘s Black Watch might have finally settled into a label who can take their reins and go (and now I’m hearing that this will be their final record….damn). Of course I’ve probably mentioned that in other reviews (and don’t go calling the band underrated/underrecognized either as leader John Andrew Frederick will let you know they have a press pack the size of a telephone book). So on this, their umpteenth record (their previous record was last year’s THE END OF WHEN) Frederick goes it alone, at least I think so.  Gone is Steven Schayer (previously in The Chills) and in is….I dunno, it only mentions Fredericks’ name on the cd cover. He’s been doing what he’s been doing for over two decades, writing chiming, literate pop songs that swing n’ sway and sometimes bust wide open. Opening title track adds some cool fuzz to the proceedings (while track #2, “There You Were’ is pure fuzz, his Metal Machine Music if you will) and things really pick up on the excellent, jangly “Scream.” He channels his inner Morrissey/Mark Eitzel on “Dear Dead Love” (if either of them were singing of a woman) and brings it all home on the killer “Darling I’ve Been Meaning To.” The second half of the record is just as strong. I’m wondering what Fredericks’ next move will be, I can’t imagine him giving up music all together, I guess we’ll see, but regardless, SUGARPLUM FAIRY, SUGARPLUM FAIRY is a damn good way to go out.

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Lunchbox at Dagger

I’ve always liked this Bay Area indie pop trio (well, husband/wife of Tim and Donna and then whomever on drums…at one time it was my old pal Shannon Handy….this record is mostly just Tim and Donna though) but never went ape-crazy over ‘em like a lot of my pals did. Well, this record is where I go ape-crazy as this is a terrific pop record! They’ve done it….melodies, harmonies, horns, everything (fans of Rocketship will not be disappointed)! It’s their first record in over a decade (Tim and Donna were still making music , but under a different name) Right from the get-go, “Everybody Knows” opens it up with a rush of sugar straight to the brain followed by the slightly less sugary “Tom What’s Wrong?” followed by another pure rush of “Will You be True?” You freaks want more? Check out the righteous,jangly “Another Dancefloor” or the soaring “I Go Mad”, but honestly, there’s not a band song on here. At ten songs in just under a half hour it’s the perfect length for a pop record (IMO) and not a minute wasted. Drop that old Hanna Barbera lunchbox off at the Goodwill and pick this one up, you won’t be disappointed.

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Luxembourg Signal at Dagger

Wow, I loved the 7” from back in April (“Distant Drive” b/w “Wishing Pool” ) both of those songs are on here though not sure if they;re different versions or not. This band, mostly based in Los Angeles, feature most of the members of beloved Sarah Records band Aberdeen. We know that Beth has been singing for year with Trembling Blue Stars while the other members, Johnny, Brian, Betsy and Ginny are all aboard. Wondered about Mr. John Girgus and while he doesn’t play in the band he did do some of this recording (and played on a few tunes. . Unlike the 7” the songs are more atmospheric on here with more room to spread out as they make major use of both time sand space. Some of this even reminded me of Spacemen 3 at times. This is even better than expected , form the druggy “Drowning” to the driving “Wishing Pool” and the gorgeous “We Go on’ there’s seriously not a dog amongst these ten songs. If Beth can get her tail over to the states maybe they can play some shows , which would be seriously great. Two side notes: masterfully co-recorded by Mr. Dave Newton and Dale Crover (yup, that Dale Crover, from The Melvins) plays drums on one song (??!!!). Essential listening.

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Hobbes Fanclub at Dagger

Keep an eye out for the Shelflife label, especially this year. While they’ve always had a strong stable of bands, this year with releases by bands like this and the Luxembourg Signal (plus 7”s by Gingerlys and Close Lobsters) is especially strong. The band began in 2008 in Bradford, England by pop lover Leon Carroll. The band had previous releases on Cloudberry and Dufflecoat and then released their debut 7” on Shelflife in 2012. That song is here along with 10 others and there is an eye on strong melodies here. Sure the band could be lumped in with shoegaze bands but unlike a lot of shoegaze band these guys have some of the stickiest melodies around. These songs actually move and don’t just float off to nothingland. The 1-2-3 punch of the first three songs, “In to the Night,” “Stay Gold” and “Your Doubting Heart’ all glaze over the cake that already had some thick frosting on it, but fear not, they don’t run out of gas from there. “The Boy from Outer Space” is the best song that Pains of Being Pure at Heart never wrote (same with “I Knew You’d Understand”). That’s the first five songs and the six others are nearly as good. With songs this good it won’t be long before Carroll jumps into the upper echelon of indie pop songwriters. www.shelflife.com

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Bastards of Fate at Dagger

Where else could a bent bunch like this be from, yup, Athens, GA. Never heard of the label but checked out their site and seems like they have some righteous artists. The band hail from Athens, GA and VAMPIRES ARE REAL …is all over the map. Opening cut “Winter of Our Discontent” is a piledriver (by Greg “The Hammer Valentine) straight to the bleakness of hell, but they don’t stay there. These guys pick themselves up by the bootstraps and chug right into the chirpy “Go No Further” and then into the kinda synthy “Chromosome 1.” Flip the record over and a song called “Ultimate Death” will restore your faith in humanity (so will the final tune, “Optometrist’). Now I need to hear their previous record, 2012’s WHO’S A FUZZY BUDDY (and if you want to know band member’s names go ask someone else cos I have no idea). The back album cover of several cats staring at me kinda freaked me out, I have to admit. Make ‘em stop. No, not the band, the cats! www.oursummerrecords.com

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(Bastards of Fate are from Roanoke, VA!)

Muuy Biien at Dagger

Athens, GA’s Muuy Biien have proven time and time again that they are not the kind of band you bring home to meet mom. Oh sure, their manners would be intact and all but then they’d start discussing the photographic work of Diane Arbus (or the folks of Jodorowsky) and it would be an early dessert night. In other words, they’re a real jolly bunch. On the cover of this record it shows a drawing of a guy who hung (hanged….whatever) himself, chair kicked over and cuts like opener “Cyclothtmia 1” (there’s also a II and III) all dirgey and minor chord-y. “Human Error” tells you what you’ve been doing wrong all these years while songs like “What Isn’t,” “Virus Evolves’ and “Frigid’ are sure to do you in. Seriously though there is a surprising amount of melody in these tunes(and some interesting rhythmic variation). Musically at times I hear the angriest parts of Fugazi (or Rites of Spring). These guys and Iceage should have a showdown (hey, no knives). Someone’s got to win, right?

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Tunabunny at Dagger

Athens’ prolific no-wavers Tunabunny are at it again, presenting their fourth album in as many years, and it’s a stunner. It’s dense, complex, and dark. It’s also easily their most experimental record to date. One minute they’re doing this really great indiepop take on Belinda Carlisle, all sweet harmonies between Brigette Herron & Mary Jane Hassell…until you listen to the lyrics. Dark, dark, dark! I’ve always felt that they’ve had a Raincoats-like vibe, and songs like “Not New Years” and “Chalked Up” sorta prove my point. The opening epic “Airless Spaces,” though, is a very dense experimental number that sort of floats around, while the closing epic, “(They Say) This Is Where Our Dreams Live” is just flat-out creepy. These folk have always been about following their creative muses, and they’ve done just that, coming up with their most compelling music to date. www.hhbtm.com

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