Big Stir Records announces the much-anticipated return of LIBRARIANS WITH HICKEYS, back for 2022 with their new album HANDCLAPS & TAMBOURINES. The record, featuring the lead single “Ghost Singer”, sees release October 14 on CD at record stores worldwide and streaming everywhere, with pre-order options live now at www.bigstirrecords.com
and all major online retailers. It's the followup to their breakout debut album LONG OVERDUE and delivers all the hooks, melodies, spiraling guitars and rhythmic charge that the first record, as well as last year's hit double A-side teaser single “I Can't Stop Thinking About You” and “Stumbling Down Memory Lane” -- both included here – have left fans worldwide anticipating.
There's something in a name, and Akron, Ohio-based indie popsters LIBRARIANS WITH HICKEYS both made and earned theirs in 2020 with a string of hit singles and their acclaimed debut album LONG OVERDUE on Big Stir Records. On a pop rock scene where too many otherwise fine bands stick to the playbook of one particular subgenre or decade, our Librarians – singer/guitarist Ray Carmen, lead guitarist/vocalist Mike Crooker, bassist Andrew Wilco and drummer Rob Crossley -- write, play, sing and record like they have shelf upon shelf of pop-rock history tomes at their disposal. As for the eyebrow-raising “With Hickeys” bit, if it bespeaks a certain amorousness, that passion is there in the grooves of the band's tunes to0: to paraphrase Jonathan Richman, they're in love with modern rock and roll, and you can hear it on the new album HANDCLAPS & TAMBOURINES.
LWH themselves call the new album “the perfect album for your next rock-and-roll book club meeting with the band's melodic muscular indie pop (coffee and snacks not included)” and true to their word, they deliver twelve tracks that draw on their encyclopedic engagement with the full and rich history of rock with hooks, harmonies, ringing guitars and (yes) handclaps and tambourines. Confronting the twin specters of the so-called “second album syndrome” and the protracted pandemic era head-on, the band recorded an entire second album, and then threw it out. Handclaps & Tambourines is actually their third album – meaning we can avoid the dreaded term “sophomore” – but we’re calling it their second one. Got it? Good. Now let's head into the stacks and peruse the tracks – and sounds – on offer.
Is it power-pop? The answer is an emphatic yes, but a timeless variety that's delightfully impossible to pin to any timeframe. The band's trademark soundscape – a twin-guitar sheen worthy of The Church or the Chameleons topped by Carmen's inviting tenor coo – evoke the heights of '80s college rock. It's abundantly displayed on songs like the anthemic garage-wall-of-sound of “Can’t Wait ‘Till Summer” with its ringing harmonics, and the 2021 hit “I Can't Stop Thinking About You,” where the shimmering riff and the vocal melody chase each other to halcyon heights. But you'll hear '90s indie rock lovingly sound-checked on tracks like the instantly memorable lead single “Ghost Singer” (with Christina Bulbenko and Rex Broome of The Armoires joining Crooker as the ethereal Greek chorus) and “I See You” (just listen to that rhythm section kick).
Elsewhere the sounds of the glitter-pop '70s flamboyantly manifest themselves: “Lady Overdrive”’s glam-rock will wash you out to sea in a tidal wave of woozy feedback and lead guitarist Mike Crooker's wah-wah guitar. Speaking of glam, Crooker makes his lead vocal debut on “Over You” (glitter, high heeled boots and face paint not included)! And there are nods aplenty to the '60s roots of the form of which LWH are such scholars and masters, as on the Rec-Room Crew pop of “Me And My Big Mouth”, inspired by Carmen’s obsession with the Monkees. Be sure and listen, too, for Ray’s whirly tube solo on the Banana Splits-trapped-on-a-merry-go-round psychedelic bubblegum pop of “Fairground”. And the opening barnstormer “I Better Get Home” rocks a 60’s Hammond organ and cheerleaders sugared-up on…something (probably Starbucks).
Lyrically, too, there's a wistful tinge of times gone by, manifesting itself itself in the fine ballads that are among the record's most timeless passages. “Stumbling Down Memory Lane” is a poignant ballad about the uncertainty of getting older in a troubled world, missing musical icons who are no longer with us, and friendships torn apart by the the political landscape of 2016-2022. “The Last Days Of Summer” is a lush autumnal track about welcoming the changing of the seasons, and features the haunting viola of Larysa Bulbenko (The Armoires) lending the tune a pastoral, British folk rock feel. And “When We Were Young” is the band’s lighter-waving anthem – a look back at their younger days when they could stay out all night playing in bars with their friends and then get up and go to work the next day on two or three hours of sleep. Like the album's sound, it's a portrait of then, now, and the days between all at once.
HANDCLAPS & TAMBOURINES is a worthy successor to Long Overdue, proving that even though they're old enough to know better, they still play way too loud for the local library’s summer reading club party. But the global indie pop scene knows what to expect from LIBRARIANS WITH HICKEYS, and the new album delivers it in volumes. Turn it up, because it's one for the ages... and, with its kaleidoscope of sounds and classic songwriting transcending the generations, one for all ages.
released October 14, 2022
Produced & Engineered by Mike Crooker at Uneven Tracks & Ray Carmen at Batteries Not Included
Mixed by Mike Crooker
Mastered by Jeff Koval at Sta-Level Recording
Ray Carmen: Vocals, Backing Vocals,Guitars, Keyboards, Whirly Tube, Tambourines
Mike Crooker: Guitars, Backing Vocals, Keyboards, Vocals on "Over You", Handclaps
Rob Crossley: Drums, Percussion
Andrew Wilco: Bass Guitar
With special guests:
Larysa Bulbenko: Viola on "Last Days Of Summer"
Christina Bulbenko & Rex Broome: Backing Vocals on "Ghost Singer" & "Last Days Of Summer"
(all appear courtesy of The Armoires & Big Stir Records)
The Farrel Cats (Andrew Farrel, Rachel Watson, Grace Carmen): Backing Vocals on "I Better Get Home"
Band Photography: Grace Carmen
All songs (Carmen/Crooker/Crossley/Wilco) BMI
except "Can't Wait 'Till Summer" & "Me And My Big Mouth" (Carmen) BMI
Thanks to: Our Families, Larysa, Christina, Rex & the entire Big Stir Family, Tiki Underground, Jilly’s Music Room, Brad Savage, Chad Miller & the staff at The Summit!
©2022 Librarians With Hickeys
℗2022 Big Stir Records