LIBRARIANS WITH HICKEYS (Akron, Ohio)
LIBRARIANS WITH HICKEYS, having crawled from the wreckage of a post-industrial Akron, Ohio, decided to stick around and form a band. Because what else are you gonna do?
Digging deep into the wellspring of power pop for inspiration, with a shot of indie rock, they have released two singles in their narrative arc, with much more already in the wings. The most recent Big Stir Records release “Black Velvet Dress” b/w “Alex,” has received world-wide airplay and rave reviews, with both sides widely hailed as highlights of the Big Stir Singles: The Third Wave CD. And on top of it all, they're a hell of a live band, working their local scene and beyond in a style that's all too rare in the days of isolated home recording, In short the Librarians are all-arounders in a way that makes them a band after our own hearts, and, we feel confident, yours as well.
The band started off 2019 with their self-released debut single “Until There Was You” and “And Then She's Gone” which showcased the twin guitar jangle and chime of Ray Carmen (vocals, guitar) and Mike Crooker (guitar, vocals), the propulsive groove of Andrew Wilco (bass) and the rhythmic backbone of Rob Crossley (drums). On BSR's side of the ledger, credit goes to label founder Christina Bulbenko's keen midwestern ears for catching those tunes early on and recognizing the Librarians as kindred spirits in musical aesthetics, community ethos, and good old fashioned heart and soul. The band's banner year, and the tunes they are busily crafting for their debut album (due in 2020 on Big Stir) more than bear her instincts out.
“For anyone out there who may still, for some unfathomable reason, question the power and the glory of the three-minute four-chord p-o-p song done right, “Black Velvet Dress” will in no way fail to raise you off your settee and shove things direct towards the nearest Volume UP knob,” opines Gary Pig Gold of The Rock and Roll Report. “Nostalgic? No. The word would be timeless.” We couldn't agree more, and for Librarians With Hickeys, that time is clearly now.
Band photo: Grace Carmen
Librarians With Hickeys
BIG STIR RECORDS proudly announce the August 14 release on of LONG OVERDUE, the debut album from Akron, Ohio's LIBRARIANS WITH HICKEYS, on CD and Digital Download and available for pre-order at www.bigstirrecords.com/store now. Featuring an even dozen freshly-bound guitar-pop titles, Long Overdue is aptly (and slyly) titled: the band has taken extra time to craft a full album's worth of songs that could all be released as singles (and a few that already have been, to great acclaim). In the long run, it's worth the listener's time to invest and listen to the record as a whole... we're sure you will feel the same rush as you did when you got your first library card!
To extend the literary metaphor, Long Overdue is a virtual how-to manual on how to craft the textbook-perfect guitar-pop debut. It's a stack of tracks the likes of which might have felt at home in 1979 amongst the sterling first albums from The Records, The Beat, 20/20 and The Knack, each stuffed with should-be hits. And our Librarians – starting with the foundation of the twin jangle and strum of Ray Carmen (vocals/guitar) and Mike Crooker (guitar/backing vocals), the groove of Andrew Wilco (bass) and the rhythmic backbone of Rob Crossley (drums/piano) – meet the halcyon standard of that benchmark year handily. To be sure, they nod back to the earlier Beatles/Byrds/Big Star classics, and forward to the later likes of Teenage Fanclub and The Posies, but we at Big Stir, careful only to apply the term when it truly applies, can in this case assure you that, yes, it IS power pop.
That LWH would deliver such a record was always in the cards, if you'll pardon yet another pun. Long Overdue builds on the momentum of their first two Big Stir Records singles (“Until There Was You” b/w “And Then She's Gone” and “Black Velvet Dress” b/w “Alex”) which received world-wide airplay and rave reviews. They're all here – with the ringing jangle and choirboy harmonies of the two A-sides bookending the album – and they're joined by the lead-off single “That Time Is Now” (featuring guest vocals from LA-based pop chanteuse Lisa Mychols) and seven more tunes belonging on the same shelves as the band's storied influences. The Librarians' core gift for melody and dual-guitar chime are what caught the keen Midwestern ears of Big Stir Records founder Christina Bulbenko, and the seemingly endless string of potential A-sides set co-founder Rex Broome into that 1979 all-killer, no-filler frame of mind in recommending an album. But this is pure-pop-for-always-people, as the cross-generational arrangement and production choices attest. Take, for example, the Farfisa-laden garage-rock charge of the Nuggets-ready “Leave Me Alone”, rubbing shoulders with “Be My Plus One”, a lighthearted, sunshine pop tune, complete with ukulele in a Macca-meets-Tiny Tim (somewhere in the tulips) kind of way. Add in the New Order-esque throb of Andrew Wilco's lead bass and the synths that shape “Silent Stars”, and the borderline yacht-rock of “Next Time”, a tune that might've gone missing from a John Hughes soundtrack, replete with saxophone and a Simmons electronic drum break, and the picture comes into focus. It's the full, rich history of melodic rock music, all happening at once.
It's all the hits that will fit, encompassing psych rock swirl (“Obsession”, which wouldn't be complete without a backward guitar solo from Crooker), the Plimsouls-like rush of “Poor Reception”, the postpunk drive of “Looking For Home”, and what Mike DeAngelis of There Once Was A Note calls “a power pop reinvention of The Beatles’ 'She’s Leaving Home,' with 'oooooohs' and chiming guitars” on “And Then She's Gone”.
For all the diverse stylistic flourishes, LWH stick firmly to the sonic blueprint – two guitars, bass and drums, and harmony vocals – established on their debut single “Until There Was You”. Lyrically, the song ponders a “what-if” scenario wherein Nick Drake snapped out of his depression, met someone who changed his life, and didn't die. It led off the recent Big Stir Records: The Sixth Wave CD and it leads off Long Overdue, because, as the saying goes “you dance with the girl that brought you” and this song made everything else happen in its wake.
That includes the other single sides (who can tell the A's from the B's?) that've preceded the record... we know they're gold. “ “Alex” is “a very lovely dreamy jangly indie-pop song,” (Kim Hatten of Bliss Aquamarine in the UK) evincing “the exceptionally ethereal sheen of, say, the (Buffalo) Springfield or even The Who at their most subtle and nuanced” (Gary Pig Gold of The Rock and Roll Report). And Gold sums up the album-closing “Black Velvet Dress” – and perhaps the whole of Long Overdue itself – as well as we could hope to:
“It's the power and the glory of the three-minute four-chord p-o-p song done right... 'Black Velvet Dress' will in no way fail to raise you off your settee and shove things direct towards the nearest Volume UP knob... Nostalgic? No. The word would be 'timeless'.” And so it is, all of it. Throughout Long Overdue, the band never forgets that the song comes first, and one thing remains consistent – handclaps. And tambourines! And hooks, and harmony... and much more, all of it making this record one to check out, and perhaps hold onto well past its return date. Librarians With Hickeys will forgive you.
Until There Was You 3:060:00/3:06
That Time Is Now 3:080:00/3:08
And Then She's Gone 3:350:00/3:35
Be My Plus One 2:540:00/2:54
Next Time 3:070:00/3:07
Leave Me Alone 2:430:00/2:43
Poor Reception 4:030:00/4:03
Silent Stars 3:060:00/3:06
Looking For Home 4:320:00/4:32
Black Velvet Dress 3:140:00/3:14
That Time Is Now (Big Stir Digital Single No. 84)
Librarians With Hickeys
LIBRARIANS WITH HICKEYS invite you to check the first single from their just-announced debut album LONG OVERDUE before the CD is released. It's a pair of unique sides that make up the next Big Stir Digital Single, out Friday July 31 at www.bigstirrecords.com/big-stir-digital-singles and available for pre-order now. The A-side is “That Time Is Now” featuring LISA MYCHOLS, and the B-side is an exclusive, brand-new non-album track whereupon the LWH cover no less than THE BANANA SPLITS on “I Enjoy Being A Boy (In Love With You)” in grand psychedelic style, making this an essential companion piece to the forthcoming album.
This is the third Big Stir single from Akron, Ohio's finest guitar pop combo. They've all led up to the August 14 release of the cleverly-titled LONG OVERDUE, an album that stands among the classic power pop debut records of the late '70s and early '80s (think The Records, The Knack, Paul Collins' Beat, and 20/20) as a stack of nothing but should-be-hit singles. As such, a duet is all but inevitable, and LA's own LISA MYCHOLS – whose solo records and work with The Masticators and most recently The Seven And Six have earned her a place in the Southern California pop pantheon – does the honors on “That Time Is Now”. It's a ringing triumph of a radio-ready single and sure to be the highlight of the summer: a hopeful and jangling anthem of empowerment that is, if anything, more needed this year than ever.
The absolutely delightful B-side, specially recorded for this release, is another animal altogether. It launches from the already surprisingly psychedelic blueprint of the original version of “I Enjoy Being A Boy (In Love With You)” by The Banana Splits, the titular fictional funny-animal-costumed band from the late-60s Hanna-Barbera/Sid & Marty Krofft kids' variety show. We recommend you hit YouTube for a reminder of just how trippy this tune already was before hitting play on the Librarians' version, which takes its hypnotic swirl to an even deeper and more mesmerizing place and sets a new benchmark of sugary heaviness for the band itself!
The best news, aside from the impending release of the album itself, is that even in these pandemic-challenged times, LIBRARIANS WITH HICKEYS are already looking forward and producing new music beyond what's on their sterling debut (we've heard some of it and it's all up to the standard set by LONG OVERDUE). And they've always been a great live band, so it's to be hoped that with these inspiring tracks seeing release and a growing catalog of fine originals, the band will not only be recording new material but back on stage, and even on the road, as soon as safely possible. In the meantime, they're offering up some of the most exciting recordings of the year, and we at Big Stir are thrilled to be bringing them to you!
Until There Was You (Big Stir Digital Single No. 61)
Librarians With Hickeys
The 61st Big Stir Digital Single of the Week is the second “Single of the Week” from Akron Ohio’s LIBRARIANS WITH HICKEYS! “Until There Was You” b/w “And Then She’s Gone” will be available for download Friday, February 21st and this duo of wonderful songs is available for pre order now! Just head on over to www.bigstirrecords.com/big-stir-digital-singles
LIBRARIANS WITH HICKEYS crawled from the wreckage of a post-industrial Akron, Ohio, and decided to stick around and form a band because… WHAT ELSE ARE YOU GOING TO DO???
Digging deep into the wellspring of power pop for inspiration Librarians With Hickeys added a 150-proof shot of indie rock, and have released two singles in their narrative arc. According to those in the know, there is much more music waiting in the wings. Last Summer the group brought you “Black Velvet Dress” b/w “Alex,” (Big Stir Digital Single #34. Both songs have received world-wide airplay and rave reviews, with both sides widely hailed as highlights of the Big Stir Singles: The Third Wave CD. On top of it all, they're a hell of a live band, working their local scene and beyond in a style that's all too rare in the days of isolated home recording – in short the Librarians are all-arounders in a way that makes them a band after our own hearts, and, we feel confident, yours as well.
The band started off 2019 with their self-released debut double “A” side single “Until There Was You” and “And Then She's Gone” which showcased the twin guitar jangle and chime of Ray Carmen (vocals, guitar) and Mike Crooker (guitar, vocals), the propulsive groove of Andrew Wilco (bass) and the rhythmic backbone of Rob Crossley (drums). On Big Stir Records’ side of the ledger, credit goes to label founder Christina Bulbenko's keen midwestern ears for catching those tunes early on and recognizing the Librarians as kindred spirits, in both musical aesthetics and the community ethos. Their banner year, and the tunes they are busily crafting for their debut album (due in 2020 on Big Stir) more than bear her instincts out.
“For anyone out there who may still, for some unfathomable reason, question the power and the glory of the three-minute four-chord p-o-p song done right, “Black Velvet Dress” will in no way fail to raise you off your settee and shove things direct towards the nearest Volume UP knob,” opines Gary Pig Gold of “The Rock and Roll Report.” “Nostalgic? No. The correct word would be timeless!” We at Big Stir Records couldn't agree more. For Librarians With Hickeys, the time is clearly now!
Because the band finds it difficult to continue writing about itself in the third person, here are other people – who are not us, – saying nice things about the band.
Gary Pig Gold / The Rock and Roll Report For anyone out there who may still, for some unfathomable reason, question the power and the glory of the three-minute four-chord p-o-p song done right, “Black Velvet Dress” will in no way fail to raise you off your settee and shove things direct towards the nearest Volume UP knob. “I heard you were giving a funeral today” may indeed be the first words voiced here, but what follows instead is a deceptively cheery deep breeze through all the brightest and the best of a circa-’78 playlist from your most trusted music geek’s audio closet. Nostalgic? No. The word would be “timeless.” N.B.: stay tuned for the coda too. Meanwhile, “Alex” sports the exceptionally ethereal sheen of, say, The Springfield or even The Who at their most subtle and nuanced …and the concluding 30 seconds are just about the most gorgeous I’ve spent all year. Oh! and Hunt down then repeatedly hear these Librarians’ “And Then She’s Gone” b/w “Until There Was You” as well. And let’s all hope their long-promised full-length album isn’t much longer overdue.
Mike DeAngelis / There Once Was A Note Librarians With Hickeys, “Black Velvet Dress”…Haven’t met the band personally, but I’d bet the farm that they’ve spent some quality time listening to Bob Mould. It has that propulsive, high octane feel of Sugar, and even some of the more melodic Husker Du tracks. Explosive, yet tight power pop. “Alex”…Haight Ashbury, The Ed Sullivan Show on a black and white TV, and those cool Roger McGuinn shades while David Crosby sings harmony vocals. This one will take you back to all of that. Fantastic track.
Kim Hatten / Bliss/Aquamarine Ray Carmen... leads Librarians with Hickeys, who appear here with “Black Velvet Dress” which combines atmospheric indiepop with powerpop oomph, and “Alex,” a very lovely dreamy jangly indiepop song. Definitely a band I'm keen to hear more from.
Malcolm X Abram / Akron Beacon Journal Librarians with Hickeys, a group of power poppers... who make melodic rock ‘n’ roll without, as the name implies, taking themselves too seriously. “Black Velvet Dress,” ...groove on the peppy, snappy, guitar-driven tune that kind of reminds of early 1990s “college rock. The B-side “Alex” has a breezy, jangle-pop groove and Carmen’s high tenor voice is soothing. Big Stir Digital Single #61 “Until There Was You” b/w “And Then She’s Gone” by Librarians with Hickeys to be released Friday, February 21st, 2020, available for pre-order RIGHT NOW!! -- www.bigstirrecords.com/big-stir-digital-singles
Black Velvet Dress (Big Stir Digital Single No. 34)
Librarians With Hickeys
LIBRARIANS WITH HICKEYS are the stars of this week's BIG STIR DIGITAL SINGLE! Credit the keen ears of BSR co-founder Christina Bulbenko for tuning in to the Akron, Ohio's classic-but-timeless power pop sound even before their debut double A-side starting commanding the airwaves of some of our favorite DJs, and pinning them down for this equally-brilliant followup pairing. “Black Velvet Dress” b/w “Alex” are out Friday, July 12 and available for pre-order now!
LIBRARIANS WITH HICKEYS having crawled from the wreckage of a post-industrial Akron, Ohio, decided to stick around the Midwest and eventually formed a band. They paradoxically could only have come from both 1989 and 2019, both of which are true.*Digging deep into the wellspring of Power Pop for inspiration, with a shot of Indie Rock, “Black Velvet Dress” b/w “Alex” marks a Big Stir Records chapter in the Librarians With Hickeys narrative arc, building on the momentum** of their debut single “Until There Was You” and “And Then She's Gone” which showcased the twin guitar jangle and chime of Ray Carmen (vocals/guitar) and Mike Crooker (guitar/backing vocals), the melodic groove of Andrew Wilco (Bass) and the rhythmic backbone of Rob Crossley (drums). “Black Velvet Dress” charges straight out of the blocks with a snare fill and feedback that signals that it means business. The opening couplet announces “I heard you were giving a funeral today / you were mourning the death of another morning alone.” Then, in the chorus, the instant after the insistent title hook and sing-a-long harmony vocals delivers the goods, Crooker channels his-inner Brian May with a guitar line he's been dying to use since 1974. Watch your step, as the bridge sets-up an emotional big-bang payoff with smashed glasses littering the floor. “Alex” switches gears, building from its acoustic intro into a mid-tempo jangle with Carmen's haunting layered vocals ethereally guiding the song. The atmospheric “jack-in-the-box” piano and violin leads the song into a hazy reverb-drenched fade-out worthy of a David Lynch film. Lyrically, both songs feature protagonists talking to themselves in mirrors – “Alex” poignantly follows an overheard conversation of a man struggling overcome self-doubt in the face of adversity and to convince himself (and the listener) to stand up for his dignity and well-being. “Black Velvet Dress” comes at it from a different angle, with our heroine not having any of it and putting on her “best party dress” and having a hell of a time for herself and nobody else. For this recording, the band employed its usual DIY approach in the “studio” (a.k.a. Mike's family room) which involves a Rube Goldberg-like contraption that utilizes a dodgy laptop computer, some ancient software and a pile of gaffer-taped microphones, situated right next to the year-round Christmas tree and a seemingly endless pile of cassettes demos left over from mysterious time-travelers from 1989*** They are hard at work on a full album which should be done... soon. * (The short version is Mike and Rob played in a band together, and Ray managed them for a short while. Then Mike produced a record for Ray who had his own prolific solo career. A few years later Rob and Drew played together in a completely different band that Mike also produced. Then many years later Mike, Rob and Drew were in yet another completely different band. Finally, Ray, Mike, Rob and Drew all joined the same band at the same time. The longer version is much, much more complicated and involves a flow chart that Pete Frame would throw his hands up in despair at – and therefore, can't be reproduced here). ** (The worldwide response to that first single was surprising to the band, who assumed that there must be another band with the same name who happened to release a single with the same song titles at the exact same time. When informed this was not the case, they were still not convinced. However, it was only when Big Stir Records offered to release their next single, that they began to come around to the idea that all of the airplay and positive reviews were true, although Rob still makes a convincing case for Doppelgangers). *** (It turns out under later inspection that they were in fact Crooker's demos from 1989, but he has no recollection of writing or recording them, leading to the obvious conclusion that he was replaced by a time-traveler.)