The reviews are rolling in after the April release of Boca Chica's latest EP, Jacob With Malaria. Music website The Jangle Box, for one, described the Pittsburgh folkies' sound this way: "Boca Chica sus canciones están a medio camino entre la melancolía, el surrealismo y la oscuridad" (loosely translated: "Boca Chica's songs reside somewhere between melancholy, surrealism and darkness").
Jangle Box, you see, is based in Spain, and the label behind Jacob With Malaria, Eardums Pop, is from Norway. Add in an EP (and a few comp appearances) on Dublin-based Indiecater, and Boca Chica seems to have found an audience abroad.
Eardrums Pop and Indiecater represent a new breed of music distributor: European-based, Internet-only "micro labels," releasing and thoughtfully presenting the music they love, for free.
"'Net labels offer you a lot of freedom while giving you a lot of benefits," says Boca Chica's lead singer and songwriter, Hallie Pritts. "They're all about the love. They want to work with you because they love music and your music in particular."
With each European release, Boca Chica's music has traveled farther across the continent, garnering reviews in Germany, Italy, Ireland and Belgium as well as Spain. For most indie groups mired in the hype-cycle of the American blogosphere, such international attention is nearly impossible to envision.
"It's great to be heard in places we wouldn't have dreamed of before hooking up with these labels," says Pritts. "And the Google translations of our reviews [are] always entertaining."
Boca Chica is gearing up for a tour stateside with Nik & the Central Plains, with a kickoff show at The Smiling Moose on Thu., May 12. The group also recently finished a full-length album, which it plans to release independently this summer.
What about a European tour? "I would really like to," Pritts says. "We don't have any dates [in Europe] yet, but we have big dreams."
BOCA CHICA with NIK & THE CENTRAL PLAINS, STAND. 8:30 p.m., Thus., May 12. The Smiling Moose, 1306 E. Carson St., South Side. $5. 412-431-4668 or www.smiling-moose.net