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Old friends, new sounds
Listening to upcoming local discs

Although " cinematic " is a term that’s often been used to describe the noirish soundscapes of the Willard Grant Conspiracy, the prankster-ish Farrelly Brothers aren’t exactly the first filmmakers who leap to mind when one considers WGC’s brand of dread and gloom. And yet, " Soft Hand, " a track from the outfit’s forthcoming and sunnily titled fifth album, Regard the End (due out February 17 on the Ipswich-based Kimchee Records label), is being featured in the Farrellys’ new slapstick farce, Stuck on You.

Regard the End marks WGC’s first effort for the label following a five-year stint on the Salem-based Slow River/Rykodisc imprints. The new album, which features guest appearances by Throwing Muses’ Kristin Hersh and Lambchop trumpeter Dennis Cronin, among others, was recorded before singer-songwriter Robert Fisher’s move from Boston back to his home state of California last year. As with each of WGC’s previous albums, Regard the End has already been released in England, where it’s just been named the #4 album of 2003 by the music magazine Uncut.

A few other old musical friends have releases slated to come out over the next couple of months. After a series of scheduling delays, perennial raunch-rockers the Gentlemen should soon be back among us with You Get What You Pay For (March 16), which will likely be a joint release between Q Division Records and the Gents’ own imprint, the Gentlemen’s Recording Company. Pop-rockers Señor Happy are also set to drop their long-awaited sophomore album, I’m Sorry (February 17), also on Q Division.

On March 2, the precociously prolific popsmith Brett Rosenberg is set to release a mostly solo effort, Shocktwins, on the Cambridge-based Sodapop Records label. Rosenberg’s new disc features drummer Jason Sloan, from his band the Problem, on roughly half the tracks and Problem bass player Geoff Hayton on a couple of others (as well as local-boy-made-good Bleu on piano on the Raspberries-esque track, " Falling in Love " ), but overall the 16-track disc has much more of a homemade man-and-his-guitar approach.

The initial idea for Shocktwins, Rosenberg says, was to demo new songs to shop to a producer, but once he got going, he opted to leave the material — most of it playful, loose, and quickly recorded — as is. It’s a good thing he did, because Shocktwins offers a compelling glimpse of a young songwriter working at a feverish, inspired pace and fully embracing his affection for Beatles for Sale–era Fab Four and Graham Parker/Dwight Twilley–style power pop refracted through a DIY lo-fi lens. Rosenberg celebrates the CD’s release with a two-night stand on March 5 and 6 at the Abbey Lounge.

From the Cambridge-based label Primary Voltage (home to the Pills, the Tint, the Good North, et al.) comes the Charms’ new EP, So Pretty (January 25). The Charms, who originally formed as a lark among friends who shared a sugar-fix addiction to the bubblegum pop of the Ohio Express, recently signed with Primary Voltage after self-releasing a terrific full-length, Charmed, I’m Sure, in 2003. The good news is that So Pretty picks up where its Farfisa-fueled, riff-rocking predecessor left off. The six-track EP storms out of the gate with " I Believe, " keyed as always to singer-guitarist Ellie Vee’s mischievous, libidinous vocals riding atop a garage sock hop.

Fenway Recordings, in conjunction with Q Division, is set to release the benefit Peter Gammons Presents: Hot Stove, Cool Music Volume 1 (January 20). The compilation, which includes rare, unreleased, and exclusive tracks featuring heavyweights like Pearl Jam, the Allman Brothers, and Paul Westerberg as well as such local luminaries as Kay Hanley, Dropkick Murphys, and Peter Wolf, was put together by veteran sportswriter and ESPN commentator Peter Gammons. The disc also marks the recording debut of Boston Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein’s band, Trauser (a cover of Neil Young’s " Rockin’ in the Free World " ), and it features, uh, vocal contributions from Trot Nixon, Tim Wakefield, Kevin Millar, Jason Varitek, David Ortiz, and Doug Mirabelli, all of whom lend their pipes to Gary Glitter’s schlock-rock sports anthem " Rock N Roll " parts 1 and 2. Net proceeds from the sale of Hot Stove, Cool Music will go to the non-profit cancer-fighting organization the Jimmy Fund, the official charity of the Sox.

From Rhode Island’s Wishing Tree label (new home to ex-Moles songwriter-turned-solo-artist Richard Davies, the Clairvoyants, Skating Club, etc.) comes More Happyness (January 20), a new Aluminum Group disc featuring members of Tortoise and the Sea and Cake. The album, which was produced and recorded by the band with John McEntire, is the second part in an intended art-pop musical trilogy that began with 2002’s Happyness (also Wishing Tree). The Douglas Fir are also set to release their full-length debut, When This Wears Off (January 13), on their own Dark Years Records. A CD-release party is scheduled for the Lizard Lounge on January 24.

Issue Date: January 2 - 8, 2004
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