Thursday, May 24, 2012
Speedy Ortiz are set to unleash their Sports EP to the world on June 5th. It will be available through Exploding in Sound Records on limited edition vinyl or you can buy the intangible version via your favorite digital distributor. Exploding in Sound Records is, of course, a venture co-founded by your editor here so I would be remiss if I didn't say: Just get the damn vinyl! It comes with a download anyway and you get an awesome looking record and artwork to hold in your hands while listening. Now that that unpleasantry is behind us, I will say Sports is irrefutably one of the year's best releases. It contains five tracks of delightfully wry lyrics, winding guitars, and gripping rhythms. But don't take my word for it; The Boston Phoenix has already started generating buzz with this wonderfully written piece. The release show will be on Wednesday, May 30th at O'Brien's Pub in Allston, MA with Grass is Green, Young Adults, and Arvid Noe. It a veritable smorgasbord of sensational Boston acts. You should already know that Speedy Ortiz are a killer live act and I hope to see all you there next week. If you want Speedy Ortiz to come to your town or you are just feeling generous, the band needs help procuring a van and are offering some enticing incentives. Full details on the release and a free download of the irresistible single "Silver Spring" after the jump.
I have to admit that upon first listening to Father John Misty's debut Fear Fun, I was left unimpressed. It may have been my high expectations. After all, the band was formed by singer J. Tillman, who played drums in Fleet Foxes and left that band to pursue this project. Fear Fun is a classic grower and with repeated spins, it has become one of the year's most rewarding albums. These songs need to be intimately absorbed as a whole. In this manner, you really start to understand this collection of stories telling the trials and tribulations of trying to "make it" and the things one does to survive. These are Tillman's tales of self-deprecation and self-destruction written under the guise of Father John Misty and filtered through the smoke and booze of the thousands of rock 'n' roll icons that came before him.
Thursday, May 17, 2012
From one of my favorite stories of the week, the picture above is the band Here We Go Magic on the road after they picked up a hitchhiking John Waters (Pink Flamingos, Cry-Baby). Guitarist Michael Bloch explained the ordeal:
There's a hydro-fracking boom in western Pennsylvania. You can't get a motel room. We had to drive til 4AM, and finally found a Days Inn in eastern Ohio. Getting back on the highway this morning, there was a man at the side of the on-ramp with a sign that read "to the end of Rte 70." Jen [Turner, bassist] wanted to pick him up, but we drove past him. As we passed by, our sound guy said "John Waters." Luke said, "Yep, definitely John Waters." We got off at the next exit and circled back. He was still there. We pulled up, opened the door and asked where he was coming from. "Baltimore," he said. And we said "Get in, sir."Always the provocateur, filmmaker John Waters explained why he still hitchhikes revealing:
I still do hitchhike-- it's a great way to meet people, and to have sex.Of course, this was reported in every corner of the blogosphere. What was failed to be mentioned was that Here We Go Magic released on of the must-hear records of 2012 and it is available to stream for free.
Dense shoegaze guitars and atmospheric synth effects fill "Skin Graph", the opening track of Silversun Pickups' third album, Neck of the Woods. The songwriting is dark and moody, giving the impression that you are lost in the woods and can be attacked at any moment. The cinematic approach is amplified with a screaming siren sound not unlike the one heard at the end of the trailer for Prometheus. It is somewhat unsettling and warns the listener that this is going to be a more adventurous album than their past efforts. The single "Bloody Mary (Never Endings)" is every bit as compelling as their breakout hit "Lazy Eye" and has a haunting chorus that ropes you in immediately. It is also a shining example of one of the band’s greatest strengths: their driving rhythm section. Throughout the record, the plodding bass lines from Nikki Monninger mix with the forceful drumming of Chris Guanlao to drive the record forward with boundless intensity.
Thursday, May 10, 2012
Pontiak is a psychedelic rock trio comprised of brothers Van (lead vocals, guitar), Jennings (bass, organ, vocals), and Lain Carney (drums, vocals). I made a last minute decision to catch their set on April 29th when they stopped by Church and I was rewarded handsomely with an inspiring set. Their latest record, Echo Ono, has spent a great deal of time on my turntable and their performance reaffirmed the incendiary force of songs like "The North Coast" and "Across the Steppe".
Out of a basement in Somerville, MA comes Alam No Hris, the debut from Krill. The trio of Jonah Furman (vocals/bass), Aaron Ratoff (guitar), and Luke Pyenson (drums) have crafted a catchy garage rock album that is very much indebted to the Pixies. Since first hearing them, I have become quite smitten with these tunes and they have been on constant rotation. The danceable jangle of "32 Teeth" reminds me of Clap Your Hands Say Yeah and Furman's warbly vocals definitely further that comparison. Hell, even the crappy album cover reminds me of CYHSY's debut.
I've seen Future Islands a few times before but I was still eager to see them headline the show at Paradise Rock Club on April 28th. The band has been one of my favorites for the past two years and they have been steadily garnering fans with their unparalleled work ethic. I was especially excited for this show because of the excellent openers, fellow Baltimore natives Ed Schrader's Music Beat and Boston basement vets Skimask. It's always great to see a band rise to bigger venues and get a chance to give their all to a larger audience. Future Islands did not disappoint; in fact, they were on an entirely different plain that night.
Monday, May 7, 2012
Friday brought the sad news of the passing of influential hip-hop artist and entrepreneur Adam Yauch, who performed with the Beastie Boys under his stage name MCA. The Beastie Boys were among my first true musical loves. Ill Communication was one of the first albums I had ever purchased and I still have that same copy today. I’m looking at it sitting on a shelf on my desk as I type this. Although the copy is virtually unplayable, I can’t bring myself to get rid of it. I must have carried that everywhere I went for years and played it to every one of my friends ad nauseum. Along with Green Day’s Dookie, it was the soundtrack to my youth. But my obsession didn’t stop there. I followed the band throughout their career, loving each unexpected turn that their music took. Hot Sauce Committee Part Two was one of last year’s best records and is a shining example of how MCA was able to kick out the jams right until the very end.
There are a handful of punk bands that I still listen to consistently. It's been awhile since I had closely followed the hardcore punk scene but I still find myself going back to the early albums from Bad Brains. I never thought I would actually have the chance to see them perform. When I heard that they would appear at Paradise Rock Club on April 16th, I knew it would be one of the year's must-see performances. The show sold out almost immediately after tickets went on sale, but I was lucky enough to snag one. Thirty-some years after their formation, Bad Brains showed an audience at Paradise why they are still one of the most talked about hardcore punk bands.
Hopefully, you are a religious fundamentalist that has stumble upon this review because of the title. Well, there's no reason to get upset (I know how easy it is to set you fundies off). The title is simply a reference to the incredible lineup of psychedelic rock that I witnessed on April 12th at Church. The semi-religiously monikered The New Highway Hymnal kicked off the night followed by hypnotic space rockers White Hills and the intoxicating retro rock of Sleepy Sun. It was a fantastically blasphemous night of repenting, PBR in hand, while enjoying a sermon that included deafening recitations from the gospel of rock 'n' roll.