AFTER PSYCHOSIS: Expect the new Hallelujah the Hills disc to sound like John Lennon if he were drinking buddies with Robert Pollard.
Ah, wintertime. It's dark, it's cold, it seems like you might lose a few extremities to frostbite on the way to the club. You know what? Just go for it. Every time you glance down at that three-fingered hand, you'll recall that amazing night you trekked to Great Scott, walking the 66 route because the bus never came, just to watch your friends cut open the first crate of CDs at their release party and get your hands on the first copy. Here's a quick rundown of some of the bands for whom we're most looking forward to cursing the gods of wind-chill.
It's been awhile since Kevin Micka blessed us with a full-on ANIMAL HOSPITAL record. Like, 2004? Really? We've been watching his Flickr account for evidence of studio work for a while now. Solo recording stints in Oakland, San Francisco, Boston, and West Virginia (in a deserted old bank on the Ohio River) are finally going to see the light of day — Micka and his Frankensteinian setup of homespun drum loops and spider-webbing guitars will fill out two gloriously layered and dreamlike full-length records this year. The first, Good or Plenty, Streets and Avenues, comes out January 30 on Mutable Sound. The second, Memory, comes out March 3 on Barge Recordings.
Mona Elliott put in years with smoky balladeers Victory at Sea, but it hasn't taken us long to get to her new band's second full-length. TRAVELS, her duo with Anar Badalov, only played a few shows stateside plus a quick European tour last year before cocooning again in their home studio to elaborate on the soft, pulsing little world they began mapping out over muffled bleeps on their debut. This one's got a little more dynamics — more acoustic drumming, more gnarled guitar fits — but the restrained, brooding emotional masochism is familiar. It's called The Hot Summer, and they're releasing it themselves — the CD release show is February 14 at P.A.'s Lounge with Animal Hospital, Arms and Sleepers, and Mary Page.
It hasn't been in vogue to bounce around all retro-style to ska-punk in years, yet here we have HAVE NOTS, Boston's resident trilby-wearing greasers, whose boisterous following makes most bands' fans look like badge-holders at a Sudoku convention. Have Nots have been festering in town since 2006, playing a rock solid mix of gruff alleyway punk that hasn't been done this well since Rancid reinvented it on Let's Go. They recorded their debut album, Serf City USA, last summer at Cambridge stronghold New Alliance, with the release planned for a throwdown at T.T. the Bear's on January 23 with the Allstonians, New Alibis, and the Glow.
COBER, a slowly evolving solo project from Seattle transplant Sheila Bommakanti, is quietly becoming one of Boston's most stoic oddities — one girl, two Marshall stacks, a load of looping pedals, and one double-necked Gibson SG guitar. Bommakanti's been honing the quaalude dirge of this project to a monolithic crawl for years, gradually shifting through band lineups and schemes over several albums, but she's stripped it all back down since coming to Boston. After working the kinks out, she went back to Seattle to record the latest, The Western Cutter, and is celebrating its release here at T.T.'s on January 22 with Via Audio, Modern Skirts, and Jaggery.
Cober is loud, but would you believe a band called SUMMERDUCK might be the loudest thing in town right now? The brand new four-piece cobbled together by ex-Night Rally bassist Farhad Ebrahimi combines big old sludgy guitar dissonance and feedback with extra-slow, sub-Melvins tempos (remember when the Melvins were a benchmark for being slow?) and harmonies so weird and deliberate that you can't help but suspect that your mind is being slowly outmaneuvered. The album, Good Luck, Summerduck, is in mastering stages as we speak, after which they plan on sending it out across the interwebs for free with a Creative Commons license ASAP.
On possibly the complete other end of the spectrum, goobery indie pop quintet the TOOTHACHES are releasing a 7-inch on Brooklyn labels Total Gaylord Records and Hugpatch next month for their songs "Sucker Punch" and "The Lucky Ones." The record is a quasi-throwback single that takes you back to the catchy-punctuality of Elvis Costello, mid-'90s guitar pop, Cyndi Lauper, and that time when glockenspiel mixed with grimy Nuggets-style garage rock (was that actually a time?). Math the Band and the Bynars join them for the release party on February 19 at Great Scott.
The ladies of APPLE BETTY, maybe Boston's most unapologetic of ham-fisted basement power chord rock-and-roll outfits, have spent the fall patching together Streakin' Across the Sky, which is set for a messy crash landing at the Middle East Upstairs on January 10 with fellow booze rockers the Big Disappointments, Miss Fairchild, and Quincunx. Apple Betty have been learning on the job for years — this gnarly one-two affair has been like throwing Ramones and Go-Go's stem cells into a dirty Petri dish.