Monday, October 31, 2011
If you are searching for some spooky tunes to accompany your Halloween night, look no further than The Soft Moon. Luis Vasquez already established his ominous droning style on The Soft Moon's self-titled debut album last year. Now, he is unleashing the Total Decay EP on the world which finds him delving even further into the darkside. The four tracks go by in a flash but still leave quite the impression. They couple piercing electronic noise with pulsing rhythms in a manner that suggests Suicide and Joy Division as definite influences. Give it a spin after the jump and watch the eerie video for the title track if you dare .
When writing about Wild Flag, it seems like the critic is obligated to talk about their past projects and the fact that the band is comprised entirely of women. By now, everyone and their mother knows this band is a supergroup featuring singer/guitarist Mary Timony (Helium), singer/guitarist Carrie Brownstein (Sleater-Kinney, Portlandia), keyboardist Rebecca Cole (The Minders), and Janet Weiss (Sleater-Kinney, Quasi, Stephem Malkmus & The Jicks). So while I’m supposed to be talking about age, sex, and past projects, I want to focus on the fact that they simply make great rock and roll music. No matter which way you cut it, their 2011 self-titled debut is one raucous artifact and a damn near instant classic. I had the opportunity to see if they could reproduce the exuberant energy from their debut on stage when I caught them at Paradise Rock Club on October 14th.
I've been fairly obsessed with Suuns (pronounced “Soons”) ever since I saw their mesmerizing video for “Pie IX.” They are one of the more unique musical entities coming out of the great white north. On their debut, 2010’s Zeroes QC, they managed to establish the perfect dichotomy between eerie noise and accessible dance music. I’m writing this on Halloween and songs like “Gaze” could serve as the perfect soundtrack to your night. Having been impressed with their performance at this year’s SXSW, I was happy to once again catch the exciting live act with Valleys and PS I Love You on October 7 at Great Scott.
Wednesday, October 26, 2011
Every blogger has probably thought about starting their own record label at one point. I've been talking about it since I started writing about music in high school. Starting a record label > Talking about starting a record label. That simple equation explains why I am so excited that this dream is coming to fruition. Exploding in Sound Records is a new label co-founded by Dan Goldin of Exploding in Sound, Ty Griffin of Escaping the Ordinary, and yours truly. Together, we make a passion team of innovative thinkers who are ready to make an impact in the ever-changing music industry. We all have extensive experience in the industry [myself holding a degree in music industry] and the hunger to make a difference. I am proud to announce that our first signing is none other than Boston's finest, Pile. I have ranted and raved many times on this blog about the potential the band possesses and now I am ready to do my part in helping them reach it. The full announcement is after the jump along with all of the details.
I'm surprised more bloggers aren't going wild for Dreamers of the Ghetto. At least, they aren't going wild yet. This band has one of the most captivating and anthemic sounds I have heard in 2011. Last week, I put their grandiose Springsteen-esque track "Tether" on the New Track Rundown and this week their song "State of a Dream" is headlining. The band is playing at TT The Bear's tonight (Wednesday, Oct. 26) so any Bostonians reading this before then sound be making the trek over there later. Their set starts at 9:40. I'll be in attendance so you can say hi to your [least] favorite music blogger. Some other exciting new tracks include "Don't Move" from Phantogram which matches the high bar they set with their debut, last year's Eyelid Movies. For the more adventurous listeners, there is the "Mladek," a hefty helping of epic post-rock bliss from Russian Circles. Listen to those songs along with a slew of great new artists after the jump.
The queen of perplexing finger-tagging guitar magic, Marnie Stern, once again stopped by The Middle East Upstairs on September 30th to astonish an audience of adoring fans. This time around, she brought up-and-coming shoegazers No Joy along for the ride. This was an intriguing combination as No Joy would provide a steady entrancing groove in contrast Marnie Stern’s controlled chaos. For those unfamiliar, Stern is not only the premier female guitar virtuoso but she can also outplay anyone currently making their rounds through the music circuit.
Fucked Up put on one of the more memorable performances when I caught them earlier this year. In fact, they are simply one of the best live acts currently touring. There was no way that I was going to miss them when they made their second stop through Royale this year on September 23rd. I was especially interested in the show because of opener Wavves featuring notorious stoner Nathan Williams. He and his band have gone from a musical entity that I absolutely despised to one whose praises I have been singing as of late. It’s rare that a band is able to turn me around so drastically and I wanted to see if I could be won over by their live show as well.
Yuck’s self-titled debut was my favorite record at the halfway point of the year and has managed to maintain that position ever since. Anyone who has read this blog in the past knows my affinity for 90s alternative and no one captures the golden age of that sound like Yuck. Having seen an impressive set at SXSW earlier in the year, I was ready to see them in a more intimate setting at TT The Bear’s on September 22nd. The group just released the deluxe version of their debut which includes a disc containing six additional tracks. They played several of these at the show and left a permanent impression on everyone who was in attendance.
It had been over two years since I had seen Cymbals Eat Guitars. At the time, the band stood out as one of the groups that were carrying the torch for 90’s indie rock bands like Pavement and Built to Spill. The same is true today except with their latest release, Lenses Alien, they are able to take a few steps out of the shadow of those two bands. The record presents a more mature group of musicians who have honed their craft and formulated a voice of their own. It is one of the standout records of 2011. It is also the reason I was so excited about catching their show on September 20th at Brighton Music Hall.
Tuesday, October 18, 2011
Since last I checked in with Occupy Boston, the movement faced some serious trials and tribulations. I stopped by again on Saturday, October 15 and caught a moving performance from Hallelujah the Hills. The people at the occupation were as jubilant as ever and seemed to have only become stronger and more organized. What better way to keep spirits high than a riveting performance from one of Boston’s finest? Hallelujah the Hills were the perfect accompaniment to the breezy autumn night and the kindred spirits fighting tirelessly for a more equitable future. Music and important societal movements have always gone hand in hand and I couldn’t be more grateful that artists like Jeff Mangum, Amanda Palmer, and Hallelujah the Hills have performed in solidarity with the Occupy protesters. It is shaping up to be one of the most important movements of my lifetime with a chance to establish real progressive change.
It seems like every year Los Campesinos! release an album that goes largely unnoticed. They have been one of the most consistent bands and have maintained their creativity across all albums. “By Your Hand” was released last month as the first taste from their latest effort, Hello Sadness, to be released on November 15. The catchy little number is laced with their signature dry wit and is the perfect lead-off track for this week’s new track rundown. It is followed by one of the year’s best singles in “Dawned on Me.” Wilco’s newest album, The Whole Love, was a stunning surprise when it was released. It strikes the perfect balance between accessible songs like the aforementioned track and the big, bold Americana sound that we have come to love from the group. It lives up to the hype of being their best effort since Yankee Hotel Foxtrot. Speaking of a big and bold sound, one of my favorite new bands, Dreamers of the Ghetto, have quite the anthem in “Tether.” Let me say that if you long for epic folk rock anthems of Bruce Springsteen, you may have found your new favorite band. These guys may be taking cues from The Boss but they aren’t slaves to one particular sound. With “Tether,” they are able to display strong songwriting skills while morphing their noticeable influences into a unique voice of their own. All this and more can be heard in the playlist below.
Friday, October 7, 2011
Many people have been asking where the music has been for the Occupy protests. As you can see from my previous post, Jeff Mangum took everyone by surprise when he performed at Occupy Wall Street on Tuesday night. Today, Occupy Boston had their own special guest in the form of Amanda Fucking Palmer. She performed several songs with her trusty ukulele and it was quite a special moment. Her wit and charisma shined as she ran through songs with her shadow cast below signs that read “Have fun” and “We are the 99%.” In honor of Jeff Mangum’s performance, she began with a cover of Neutral Milk Hotel’s “Two-Headed Boy.” The set also included a “reimagining” of Rebecca Black’s “Friday,” the clever innuendo-laden “Map of Tasmania,” a unique take on “Free Bird,” and a rendition of Billy Bragg’s “The World Turned Upside Down.” The highlight of the set, though, was a new song tentatively titled either “The Ukulele Anthem” or “Play Your Ukulele”. It suggested that many of the world’s problems could be solved by picking up the ukulele and learning a few songs. Let the ukulele revolution begin!
Wednesday, October 5, 2011
The other day when discussing the Occupy Wall Street movement, I was saying that some musicians need to get onboard and start performing in the crowd. As anyone who knows how to use the internet is now aware, our national media outlets have failed us and have been ignoring what may be one of the most important protests of our time (at the very least, it is certainly a newsworthy event). Shortly after stating that musicians may give the movement the attention that it needs, the internet was abound with rumors that Radiohead would be performing. Those rumors, of course, prove to be false. But on Oct 4th (Day 18 of the occupation), in one of the more surprising stories, Neutral Milk Hotel’s Jeff Mangum performed a set for the activists. The notoriously reclusive musician put on a rare performance of favorites while surrounded by adoring fans who were singing along. Although not the best quality, the video below is still a power watch and an absolutely beautiful moment.
Tuesday, October 4, 2011
Conveyor became one of my favorite new bands with their debut release, Sun Ray, which topped all EPs I heard so far in 2011 in my Mid-Year Report. Their live show further impressed me and established the band as one to watch. The performance matched the energy of the songs on the Sun Ray EP but also left me craving new material. I got my wish as Conveyor recently released two new songs, “Ellery (Carol No. 4)” and “Rosacea (Carol No. 2)”. The tracks find them further exploring folk influences and are draped in gentle acoustic guitars and dreamy harmonies. You can stream them below and also purchase a limited edition handmade cassette package with the aforementioned songs and the exclusive track “Snow Bank (Carol No. 6)”at their bandcamp.
I already named Alabama Shakes a must hear and things seem to be moving quickly for the young group. I can’t think of a band that deserves it more. Their revival of old school blues and soul is simply unmatched by their peers. Every song sounds like the kind of heart-wrenching confessional that a band would save until the very end of a set. I’m not sure there is anyone else currently making music that projects such unbridled emotion as Brittany Howard does in “You Ain’t Alone”. The group has posted their first official release on bandcamp and it is well, well… WELL worth your $4. C’mon, that’s the price of a beer, people. Check out some live performances as well as an interview and introduction to the band after the jump. Press play and get ready for the chills take over your body.
Sub Pop has been on the cutting-edge of indie rock since their inception in the 80s. This year has added countless highlights to their catalog. Last year, the label released Nothing Hurts, a noisy little dream pop album by Male Bonding that hinted at bigger things. That promise come to fruition with their sophomore offering, Endless Now. With this release, Male Bonding have turned down the distortion and turned up the accessibility. There is plenty of fuzz, irresistible hooks, and singalong melodies to be found in the grooves of this record. It starts with the the sun-drenched jangle of "Tame the Sun". The centerpiece, "Bones", shows the group expanding their sound, giving it room to breath and grow while drawing you in as each minute passes. Sub Pop has offered up a full album stream on YouTube which can be found embedded below. It's a fitting way to take in the album since it flows effortlessly from track to track.
Monday, October 3, 2011
On the heavier side of the musical spectrum, I'd like to introduce LaFaro from Belfast, North Ireland. Last year, they released the unrelenting assault of an album that was their self-titled debut and they are already set to batter audiences with another slab of noisy rock and roll. Easy Meat doesn't hold back with it's post-hardcore attack and it is full of bear-soaked metallic riffs and crude observations. The band can churn out some memorable licks and get in a serious groove as evident on the title track. At their catchiest, they recall bands like Queens of the Stone Age and at their angriest they are reminiscent of Helmet or even Shellac. If your looking for music to let out some of that pent up aggression, you'll find the perfect anecdote after the jump.
Dum Dum Girls immediately made a name for themselves with their 2010 debut, I Will Be. The album highlighted lead singer Dee Dee's ability to write catchy lo-fi bedroom rock. The simple tunes had a punk kick but also embraced the melodies of girl groups from the 60s. With their second offering, Only in Dreams, Dum Dum Girls takes this pairing to a whole new level. Filled with punk, surf, and rock influences, the record presents a much more mature approach to songwriting. The production shines as it allows Dee Dee to showcase her vocals more prominently and on tracks like the ballad "Coming Down", it is clear that she has some serious pipes. The album may not be as gritty as the first but songs like "Always Looking" and "Wasted Away" still have plenty of drive. Comparisons to the Pretenders and Mazzy Star are very much warranted. Give it a spin after the jump.