From left: Jeremiah Fraites, Wesley Schultz, and Neyla Pekarek. Photo by John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe
The Lumineers, comprised of guitarist Wesley Schultz, percussionist Jeremiah Fraites, and cellist Neyla Pekarek, performed a stripped-down version of a handful of songs off their self-titled album "The Lumineers," including their hit “Ho Hey,” for RadioBDC before heading over to play the House of Blues while in Boston. After the set, Boston.com sat down with the band's founding trio to ask a few questions about Boston, songwriting, and their thoughts on social media. Group members Stelth Ulvang on piano and mandolin and Ben Wahamaki on bass were not present for this show. Read more about The Lumineers at bostonglobe.com: The Lumineers put unique shine on folk rock.
Boston.com: RadioBDC launches Monday. What are your thoughts on Internet radio?
Schultz: One of the first stations to play us was KEXP...they set the bar really high. [Internet radio] is kind of a natural progression.
Fraites: I think everyone thinks it's a negative thing. But it's not. Internet-based radio alludes to the private lifestyles people have.
Boston.com: What are your thoughts on Boston? Can you share any Boston memories with us?
Schultz: We played a show at PA's Lounge in Somerville. We opened for Faces on Film.
Fraites: We did a blog the next day. Band in Boston. Look it up. [Also,] I remember I was walking on a bridge and my fedora fell off, I don't know what bridge.
Boston.com: For new fans, describe your sound. Is it pop, folk, rock?
Schultz: We just prefer to let people sort that out. You don't want to put something in a box.
Boston.com: Can you tell new fans something they should know about The Lumineers right now?
Pekarek: I think it's great for people to get out to the live shows.
Fraites: We never thought "Ho Hey" would turn into what it's turned into. Come to a show.
Schultz: It's really been nice for people to buy the whole record. Fans know the record and that's been really refreshing.
Boston.com: Reviewers are calling your lyrics memorable. Who writes your songs and where does your inspiration come from?
Schultz: Jer and I write the music together and I write the lyrics. A lot of it is a combo -- it's your own life, creating a character you think is interesting ... There
is no certain formula to it. Just whatever resonates with us.
Boston.com: Right now you have almost 74,000 people following the band on Facebook and more than 15,000 following on Twitter. How does social media affect your relationship with your fans?
Fraites: I don't think we're a band that wants to be known for cool tweets. We want it to be sincere. Some bands think they are too cool for school (for social media). And I used to think that way. Not anymore.
Schultz: There's a certain level of connection and intimacy. But it can't be confused with truly knowing a band. Our main goal is to play shows and play music.
1982 - the collaborative hip-hop project of Lawrence native Termanology and producer Statik Selektah - released a new visual to their track "Everything." Shot in Florida, the video features a track from their latest album, "2012."
You can also check out the duo's recent interview with The Boston Globe.
[Tonight, Boston-based band Mean Creek finish up the final leg of their US tour with Counting Crows, and band members are offering a glimpse of life on stage and in the van on the band's biggest tour yet. Read the first post from bassist Erik Wormwood about returning to Boston, a second installment from drummer Mikey Holland about Foxwoods and Atlantic City, and then a check-in from the south by singer and guitarist Chris Keene. Holland follows up with this dispatch from the Tabernacle in Atlanta, Ga., where the band played Friday night.]FULL ENTRY
Josh Haner/The New York Times
George Lewis Jr., who dispenses lo-fi pop goodness as Twin Shadow, has announced he will release his second album, "Confess," which will be released by indie label 4ad in the states on July 10. The album will drop in the United Kingdom on July 9.FULL ENTRY
[This week, Boston-based band Mean Creek finish up the final leg of their U.S. tour with Counting Crows, and MC bassist Erik Wormwood will offer a glimpse of life on stage and in the van on the band's biggest tour yet.]
Mean Creek has been writing, recording, and playing shows for the better part of 6 years. In 2010, Adam Duritz saw us play a CMJ showcase put together by Ryan Spaulding and DigBoston. We became friends with Adam, he has come to see us play and let us crash at his apartment when we are in town
Of course we were ecstatic to open for the Counting Crows. We all have very powerful early memories of listening to their first record when we came to musical consciousness in the early 90’s.
Touring has long been a major goal for us, but there are aspects that are challenging as well. We all have jobs that are not easy to leave and we have to cross our fingers and work extra hard to make sure we don’t lose them to pursue our musical goals. We have had to make some pretty gnarly drives to keep up with the Crows’ buses on our jaunt across the country. We traveled across the U.S. in just over a week playing shows. We would see the desert one day and a snowstorm the next. Feeling exhausted and weary became the norm.
That being said, the reality is that this is an amazing tour for us. The crew and band have been unbelievably helpful and generous. The 45-minutes we get to share our music to a very open and supportive audience, as well as watching the Counting Crows perform, is the highlight of every day. This is why we bust our asses.
Playing Boston was a culmination of all these dichotomous feelings. Before each show, Adam is gracious enough to introduce us to the crowd, which gives us a tremendous boost of confidence. As the stage manager was trying to rush us on the stage last night, our singer/guitarist Chris Keene’s mom stopped us on the ramp. I introduced her to Adam. As she shook his hand, she thanked him for the opportunity he had given to us. She told him Chris has been playing in bands since he was 11 and that this was his dream. Her voice was sincere, full of emotion; she was on the verge of tears.
Adam graciously thanked her, and then looked at us as she left and said, “That was awesome.” Chris laughed with happiness and without embarrassment as we took the stage. Later in the set, Chris dedicated our new song ‘Young and Wild’ to three friends he had grown up playing music with. I thought I heard his voice waver with emotion and it was palpable how important this was to him, and to us all.
If you're one of the lucky ticket-holders heading out to see Annie Clark (a.k.a. St. Vincent) tonight at Royale, consider grabbing that parking spot a little early.
We're going to guess that Edrych yn Llygaid Ceffyl Benthyg wasn't on your shortlst of favorite records from 2008, but the EP was a stunning little introduction to Welsh songstress Cate Le Bon. Since then, she's collaborated with the likes of Gruff Rhys, Boom Bip, and Megan Childs of Gorky's Zygotic Mynci. Despite her biggish peeps, she keeps to a smallish sound -- one that reminds us that intimacy is never that far from discomfort.
Fans of Camera Obscura and/or certain formulas of Robitussin will delight in the slack autumnal pop of "Puts Me To Work," an early charmer off of CYRK, her sophomore effort, due January 17, 2012.
Cate Le Bon plays a sold-out show at Royale tonight with St. Vincent.
If you're not one of the lucky ones cramming in to see Pokey LaFarge tonight at Passim [see James Reed's preview here], or riding the snake to the ancient lake with psychsplorers Dead Meadow and the Black Angels at the Middle East (the former of whom just released a feature-film-slash-album worth...vibing out to), consider tonight an opportunity to get familiar with Boston's own Destry.
Formed when guitarist/vocalist Michelle DaRosa left behind prolix post-punk-popsters Straylight Run to go solo, Destry finds DaRosa teaming with longtime chum Tyler Odom (of Cassino), as well as Sam Means of The Format, Nico Childrey (also of Cassino), and DaRosa's Straylight bandmate, bassist Shaun Cooper.
The result is crisp, clean, indie-folk that more people ought to hear pronto. "Leave the Light On" is DaRosa in a rollicking mode; "Don't Break My Heart" finds her as convincingly seductive as sunshiney. "Into The Rain" -- a live version of which is above -- is sad like a sad song should be ("I'm a tree selling leaves to pay the rent"), but satisfying and warm like a freshly ironed sheet.
[Great Scott, 1222 Commonwealth Ave., Allston, 9 p.m. Tickets: $10. 617-566-9014, www.greatscottboston.com]
It's the closest, most monstrous music festival for Boston music acts to partake in -- and for local fans to commute to. It's the College Music Journal Music Marathon
(CMJ) and it kicks off on Tuesday.
Here's a sampling of Boston artists playing in the Big Apple during the 5-day fest.
Berklee CMJ Music Marathon 2011 Showcase
A prominent display of local talent at CMJ, the Berklee showcase is in its 5th year at the festival, and displays some of the school's best talent. Here's the lineup:
[Bowery Poetry Club, 308 Bowery, Friday, 6:30 p.m. - 11:30 p.m. Tickets: $10, free with CMJ badge.]
The Outlaw Roadshow
This locally booked unofficial showcase is hosted by the Boston-based music blog Ryan's Smashing Life, along with publicity companies AnnieRock and Green Light Go, and indie label Tyrannosaurus Records. Bands from across the country are booked for this lineup, including two from Boston: indie dance rock band, Gentlemen Hall(who recently won the Billboard & Chevy Battle of the Bands), and "old soul rock n' roll" act Oldjack.
[Arlene’s Grocery, 95 Stanton St. Friday, 12 p.m. - 6 p.m. Free.]
Other Boston bands to watch out for at CMJ:
The Boston-based minimalist pop band Gem Club will play Lame Fest II: Eclectic Boogaloo (presented by Sub Pop and Hardly Art Records) on Thursday night.
[Mercury Lounge, 217 E. Houston St. Thursday, 8 p.m.]
Boston based electro-pop group Bearstronaut plays its official CMJ Showcase on Saturday.
[Kenny's Castaways, 157 Bleecker St., Saturday. 8 p.m.]
Connecticut-based pop duo Mercies, made up of former members of the Dear Hunter, will play the Big Picture Media Showcase on Friday night, along with Boston solo rock act Grygiel.
[Sullivan Hall, 124 Sullivan Street. Friday, 8:05 p.m. Tickets: $10, free with CMJ badge]
For full official showcase schedule, check out the CMJ Music Marathon website.
To find out about other CMJ unofficial showcases, check out this list compiled by myfreeconcert.com.
- ANNA MARDEN
Tom White for the New York Times
With: Guards and Writer
At: Brighton Music Hall, Sunday
The music of Cults have enough of the trappings of 1960s girl groups – glockenspiel parts, beats snatched from the Ronettes and the Shangri-Las, a thick echo suffusing the whole shebang – that it's tempting to categorize them as eager devotees. But there was something missing Sunday as the band (bumped up from a duo to a five-piece) played the Brighton Music Hall. That something just might have been magic.
Certainly, they were given no help by the sound mix, which was uniformly terrible from the openers on down. Feedback was rampant, and the reverb was so oppressive that what might have been intended as a wall of sound was a river of murk instead. The handclaps that kicked off opener “Abducted” were just about the last things to come through with their edges intact.
But Cults revealed their own weaknesses throughout their brief performance. Key among them was frontwoman Madeline Follin. A bland singer of no special ability or tone, she had a marked tendency when raising her voice (as in the choruses of “You Know What I Mean” and “Rave On”) to sound more petulant than emphatic. The only time she displayed any discernible attitude was during the slow, bluesy “The Curse"; when she swayed her hips with the beat, she came off not sultry so much as tacitly threatening.
The rest of Cults gamely soldiered on, but none of the group's songs was ever more than the sum of its parts. The plonky bass of “Most Wanted,” the frantic, high-fretted tremolo picking of “Never Heal Myself” and the alternating vocal between Follin and guitarist Brian Oblivion on “Bumper” all sounded perfectly nifty without adding anything in particular. Cults ultimately seemed to be simple twee indie pop along the lines of Tennis, dolled up in girl-group clothing.
Whether the echoey guitars were intentional or just a result of the mix, opening band Writer sounded like a two-person Walkmen with tighter songs. Following them were Guards, who were boppier (even as they dipped into elements of psychedelia and sludge rock) and, with their constant and effusive thank-yous, unfailingly polite.
Marc Hirsh can be reached at email@example.com.
At: House of Blues, Saturday
In the current musical analogy, laptops are the new guitars, and electro is the new indie. For Crystal Castles, who performed at the House of Blues on Saturday night, it's also the new punk.
The brash Toronto duo punch a defiant fist straight through any meaningful genre boundaries whenever they take the stage – sometimes literally, as in one case of onstage fisticuffs last year. Controversies like that and others including feuds with tourmates, a generally surly and indifferent attitude toward the press, and the occasional canceled gig over sound complaints make it clear this isn't your mother's polite keyboard music.
At its harshest, you might not even call their throbbing synth pulses, chopped-up sample assault and glitchy video game soundtrack explosions music at all. That's the point precisely, and what made their performance on Saturday -- complete with seizure-inducing strobe lights, and the maniacal stage thrashing of wraith-waif vocalist Alice Glass, who roared like an adorable dinosaur hatchling on songs like "Doe Deer" -- so hypnotic to a sold-out all-ages crowd of futuristic ballerinas from space in warpaint makeup and their be-hoodied, but barely bewhiskered boyfriends.
When it was announced pre-set that Glass had broken her ankle, the moan from the crowd seemed to reveal a collective anticipation of some inevitably expected mishap. Her appearance soon thereafter complete with a boot cast and crutch was an impressive relief. On hits like "Crimewave" and "Celestica," Glass summoned all of her 100 odd pounds of furious inhumanity, dancing one-legged, not so much singing as blasting oxygen through a computer. Her wielding of the crutch in the glare of the strobes underscored her cyborg pixie affect. The aggression makes sense; the group's trek through the pixelated soundscape of barely-controlled computer chaos from their two self-titled albums is the contemporary analogue for fighting in a mosh pit, (although there was a regular old one of those as well).
Glass, in what was one of the most heroically punk performances in recent memory, hurtled herself into the crowd, broken ankle and all, and performed entire songs, like the abrasively bewitching “Alice Practice,” on the upraised hands of fans, sounding out the exhalations of a wounded animal robot amidst the entropy of a bouncily cascading synth line. Who needs guitars when you've got that?
Luke O'Neil can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
photo by Adam Conner-Simons
Even with the plethora of big names at SXSW, the focus of the festival ultimately rests in the inexact art of discovering new music. While thousands of late-night revelers peacefully slumbered, Oregon-based outfit Ages and Ages proved a delightful lunchtime treat at Barbarella, with handclaps, harmonies and a battery of shakers and noise-makers figuring prominently on upbeat numbers like “No Nostalgia.”
At the venue's outside patio, Boston folksters David Wax Museum performed a few rambunctious Americana songs as raging heavy-metal bands played at ear-splitting volume on either sides of the tent. Some vocal participation from the audience helped the group somehow overtake all the musical madness around them.
Worcester fuzz-rockers Dom played an unshackled set at Stubb's earlier in the afternoon, rattling the walls with surf-punk gems like “Jesus” (which concerns, of all things, an LSD trip). “It's so sexy to be living in America,” the singer proudly proclaimed. It wasn't clear whether he was being ironic, but the crowd was too busy banging its collective head to care.
Elsewhere, the Under the Radar party – despite its name – managed to reel in some high-profile indie acts, from the warped power-pop of Surfer Blood to the violin antics of Owen Pallett, who looped beats and motifs with fine-tuned dexterity.
Over on the east side of Austin I caught a few songs from Fang Island, a Providence-born band that describes its music as “everyone high-fiving everyone.” (They even requested that the whole Scoot Inn audience partake in exactly that activity halfway through the set.) The group's propulsive instrumentals featured slithery '70s rock riffs bursting into hummable shoutalong choruses, as on the show-closing single “Daisy.”
The French Legation Museum, a historical building that dates back to 1841, served as a beautiful backdrop for the unique sounds of rising talents Cults and James Blake. Both artists came into the festival with only a handful of songs to their names, yet expectations from the press illuminati were at a fever pitch.
Alas, Cults suffered from significant mixing problems that muddied its doo-wop-infused indie-pop. Singles like “Go Outside” and “Curse” lost their giddy girl-group luster with all of the feedback issues and overpowering bass lines.
For Blake, SXSW represents his first American gig outside of a New York show earlier this week. On record, the Brit's slow-building compositions give off a captivating intensity, as he samples, chops and distorts his bluesy white-boy warble into a rainstorm of twitchy electronic soul. That nuance and musical arc didn't take the same shape live – the 21-year-old seemed uncomfortable on-stage, and even tracks like the haunting “The Wilhelm Scream” sounded limp compared to the pristine multi-tracking on the album. Some listeners got restless, and headed back to 6th Street to take in the overload of other acts around town.
AP Photo/Jack Plunkett
“Who are the headliners at South-by?”
People have been asking me the same question for three weeks, and when they are (inevitably) dissatisfied with my answer – a stammering “Uh, well, it doesn't really work like that...” I bring up the Strokes, the rockers who gave SXSW a major jolt earlier in the month when they announced a free concert tonight at Auditorium Shores Stage. Festival-goers didn't disappoint: an estimated 40,000 people trekked across the Lady Bird Lake reservoir for the show.
Outside of an “SNL” appearance and a Vegas gig earlier this week, Julian Casablancas and crew had never performed any of the songs from their upcoming album “Angles,” out Tuesday. While there was space in the 75-minute set for a handful of new tracks – “Life is Simple In the Moonlight” and first single “Under Cover of Darkness" sounded particularly well-honed – the group ultimately relied on fan favorites from “Is This It” and “Room On Fire.”
Clad in his standard black leather jacket ensemble, Casablancas gave an inspired frontman performance, his hair blowing in the breeze like some indie-fied L'Oréal commercial. He's grown as a singer, nimbly shifting between lounge croon, arena-rock bombast and unhinged howl. Things reached a fever pitch in the encore, as a cascade of fireworks illuminated the skies over Lady Bird Lake, the last clanging notes of “Last Nite” reverberating across the water and onto downtown Austin.
photo by Rahav Segev
A few hours later, a chaotic game of musical chairs was at play: with Lupe Fiasco losing his voice and Cee-Lo unable to make it to Austin, the Rolling Stone/Atlantic Records party roped in new headliners B.o.B. and Janelle Monáe to perform alongside Wiz Khalifa. The replacements filled in admirably, even if the crowd at La Zona Rosa seemed a tad disappointed to not be singing along to Cee-Lo's obscenities.
photo by Rahav Segev
B.o.B, who in the space of a year has gone from “the guy who did that song with the Paramore chick” to a prolific hip-hop hit-maker, brought a lot of elements to the stage: he sang, rapped, played guitar, and energized the crowd with the help of his high-octane live band. He sped through his radio singles, like the Rivers Cuomo collaboration “Magic,” the Bruno Mars-assisted “Nothin' On You,” and, of course, “Airplanes,” while also playing deeper cuts like “Voltage,” which interpolates the funky clavinet riff from Led Zeppelin's “Trampled Underfoot.”
photo by Rahav Segev
Janelle Monáe, meanwhile, exhibited an immaculate degree of showmanship that had been lacking all night. Her rubber-band-tight eight-piece band was decked out in white dress shirts, black bowties and top-hats – an ode to the past that seemed oddly apt in its jarring opposition to Monáe's theatrical, futuristic R&B. While the bass and guitar frequently threatened to overtake her vocals, she proved a transfixing presence on stage as she switched outfits, threw on masks, experimented with different cadences and jump-roped from genre to genre.
[A previous version of this post erroneously referred to the Strokes as "British rockers." Haircuts aside, they are not.]
photo by Adam Conner-Simons
AUSTIN, TX -- While Bostonians celebrated their Irish heritage today, over in Austin all eyes were on the equally debaucherous affair known as the South by Southwest Music Festival (SXSW). The annual five-day event, which kicked off Tuesday, showcases a dizzying amount of music, with 2,000 bands playing hundreds of venues.
The first two-and-a-half days have already seen an ungodly number of surprises, including the Foo Fighters playing new tunes at a secret show at Stubb's Bar-B-Q and Jack White busting out an acoustic guitar for a set of stripped-down White Stripes songs in a parking lot on 4th Street. On Wednesday night, Duran Duran repped for the “aging fiftysomethings” demographic, showing up bands 30 years its junior with a propulsive set that kicked off its looming world tour.
At the 512 Bar earlier on Wednesday there was a younger, home-spun vibe with Converse/DigBoston's “Boston to Austin” party. A stacked line-up of local outfits like Dirty Dishes and Mean Creek steamrolled through concise 25-minute sets in front of an almost entirely new audience. The acts, while frazzled by the non-stop gigging around town, were downright giddy about having a showcase centered around Boston talent.
"It's been complete chaos, running from show to show,” said Kingsley Flood lead singer Naseem Khuri. “But it's great to have an event like this that will make people take notice and help put Boston on the map.”
The diverse musical mix spanned Mystery Roar's throbbing disco-funk and Viva Viva's explosive garage-rock. Bodega Girls ran through a few club-ready tunes from its cheekily-titled new EP “Et Tu Bootay?”, which has a record release March 30 at Middlesex Lounge in Cambridge.
Kingsley Flood, meanwhile, delivered some foot-stompin' roots-rock with the occasional trumpet solo performed from within the crowd. Busting out tracks from last year's “Dust Windows,” the sextet revived the sleepy early-afternoon audience and set the stage for concerts for Dirty Dishes and Viva Viva.
"I don't wanna go home,” Khuri sang halfway through the show, and, with a rapt group of newfound Kingsley Flood fans soaking in the music, you can't quite blame him.
Elsewhere, listeners looking for a break from the unending parade of white guys playing guitars took solace in the rollicking R&B of Raphael Saadiq, who steamed up the windows and classed up the joint with a smooth late-afternoon show at Cedar Street Courtyard for Filter Magazine's Culture Collide party.
[Check back through the weekend for continued updates and photos from SXSW 2011]
[Hey folks, we're just tickled to introduce "Hear Here," a new daily feature on the Sound Effects blog. Check in every day to hear a great new song by an artist in town that night. Enjoy! - MB]
I'm not even going to pretend that I can dislodge "If You Leave" from the coiffed heads of frothing OMD fans gearing up for the reunited pop powerhouse's return to form at the Paradise tonight. BUT: I can assure those OMD fans that there's a good reason to show up early tonight -- apart from that "secret" parking spot of yours.
Meet former ballerina Nanna Øland Fabricius, a/k/a Oh Land (that's much easier). Hailing from Copenhagen and currently blowing the holy-heck up, Fabricius offers what I can only describe as a downier take on the recent steely-sweet storm of Scandinavian electro-pop that Robyn rode over to our shores last year. Feather-light vocals, thumping beats and all sorts of synthy thingamadoos are the three main ingredients of her self-titled sophomore release, which drops next Tuesday.
She performed her first single "Sun of a Gun" on Letterman the other night to much fanfare -- with a chorus of floating balloon heads and flashing crags of fake ice, no less -- but this live performance of "Wolf & I," gives a hint of her softer, moodier, smokier side. Get hooked on this song now, and you'll officially be cooler than all of those snotty festival types who will soon claim to have discovered her at SXSW in Austin. You'll be like, "Oh Land? Oh, please. I was on that days ago." And that will feel good.
from "La La Love You"
My mother always told me not to accept gifts from strange men with unintentional-looking facial hair, but Interpol was all up in our inbox today, offering up a free Pixies live EP and video for free download. And all they want is an email address! There's no reason to resist!FULL ENTRY
Idolater, Gawker Media's red-headed music stepchild (full-disclosure: Idolater thinks I need some writing lessons) has a full investigation into the "scandal" surrounding this year's Pazz and Jop music critic's poll.
This could be of interest to you for two reasons: Either you remember Bill Jensen, the purported writer of the missive under discussion here, as the former editor of the Boston Phoenix (double disclosure: I've written for Bill before). Or you just really like gossip. Whatever. Wear your mouthguard -- this is going to get ugly.
I've spent about a week with the new Clap Your Hands Say Yeah album, and I can't say that the trepidation has worn off. Not trepidation vis-a-vis the music (it's as grand and brilliant and engrossing as you'd expect), but trepidation for the band.
To make a short story shorter, "Some Loud Thunder" isn't exactly listener-friendly -- in a way, actually, it's almost listener-repellent. The whole disc is full of sharp edges, rough patches, discordant stretches of noize; occasionally, listening to the thing on my headphones, I wondered if Ounsworth and Clap Your Hands Say Yeah was actually making a conscious effort to shove the listener off their shoulders.
And would you blame them? The self-titled, self-released disc of yesteryear -- one of the best received albums of '05/'06 --- was graceful and melodic and quite beautiful, and it offered itself up to audiences eagerly. It didn't take long for CYHSY to become indie fanboy/fangirl favorites. As far as I'm concerned, from there, Ounsworth had three choices: follow up the self-titled disc with a similar pop-inflected gem (something Ounsworth is perfectly capable of), explore a totally different genre, or write a big, raging punk rawk album and tell everyone, politely, to [expletive] off.
"Some Loud Thunder" is certainly not a pop album, and is mostly a mixture of a sneering push-off and a genre exploration. Gone is some of the melody, some of the expansive, self-mythologizing stories of proms and growing up; in is a song about Satan and then a song about Arm & Hammer.
So the trepidation? Yeah.
Will fans of the band's first album take the time to understand? Will they put up with the electrobabble interludes and Ounsworth's pronounced squeal (even louder --- more pitched --- here than on the debut)? In other words, does anyone have the time to spend lots more time understanding why an indie rock band --- even a very good indie rock band --- is doing what its doing? Lily Allen certainly doesn't require that from her listeners, nor, really, do the Shins. Alec Ounsworth does, and in doing so, he's put a tremendous amount of faith in his listeners. My fingers are crossed for you.
I count my love for the music of Ted Leo up there with other unalienable rights: Life, liberty, the pursuit of "Happyness" (natch) and the ability to use 15 minutes of every workday to watch last night's Colbert report on YouTube.
So when Mr. Leo releases new material, it's not just manna from heaven; it also sends me into lip-smacking, mouth-foaming, paroxysms of joy.
Do you believe the hype? Did I get drool on your sweater?
Listen: "Sons of Cain," from the forthcoming (due in March) Ted Leo and the Pharmacists' album.
Hint: Click the link, and you'll be able to save the track in your iTunes. Don't get greedy.
On Saturday in Brighton and Sunday at the Mid East Downstairs, Piebald was shooting video footage for their new "Accidental Gentlemen," which is set for release on Tuesday, the 23rd. (CD release party at the Mid East Upstairs that night. Yow!)
Stopped by the club on Sunday, and picked up (in addition to the excellent "Gentlemen") a new(-ish) disc by rawkers Barnicle (Luke Garro, of Piebald, doubles as Barnicle's drummer.) Some of the clips are available on the band's MySpace page.
In some club-related news, word is the Zeitgeist is about to be reborn in Union Square, near P.A.'s Lounge; the Diesel Cafe, one informant says, is going to split the space with the Zeitgeisters. Also: The Lily Pad, in Inman, looks to be -- after a few weeks of utter reconstruction disarray -- in much better shape. And hey, what's happening with O'Brien's, in Allston? It's all closed up and shuttered-down.
Lots of noise about Ben Folds' gig with the Boston Pops in May. Man. Any predictions?
Also: Soul Touch, at the Middlesex Lounge (on Wednesdays) is winning some converts. If you're into that whole revival thing, this should be next on the checklist.
Also, ALSO: WERS, the best, *best* radio station in Boston -- and chosen wake-up soundtrack for a generation of part-time, low-level local rock critics -- just got with the whole interweb/MySpace thing. Make them your friend.
Last year, when I spoke to Zach Condon, he mentioned that there was an EP floating around somewhere in his head/apartment/studio, or on the pages of his notepad/diary/laptop, whatever. So the "Lon Gisland" collection is now floating around online, although links are scarce (we're nearing the official release date of Jan. 30).
You'll notice, right away, that Condon seems to be experimenting with a spare sound. That's OK, since "Gulag Orkestar," his debut full-length, suffered from a few overwrought marches. I'll willing to bet, anyway, that "Postcards to Italy" was the most popular song on the album because it was the most like a pop song; that, in turn, was because the brass was peeled back enough to expose that gooey, liquidy, warm pop center. Write some more good lyrics, Zach, and victory over the buzz-bin backlash is already at hand.
I'm really fond of the new Hidden Cameras album, "AWOO," which was released by Canadian indie label Arts & Crafts in September. It's been said that Arts & Crafts -- home of introspective acts like Feist, Broken Social Scene, and New Buffalo -- was an odd match for the flamboyant "gay church folk music" of the Cameras. Well, yeah, "AWOO" ain't exactly "You Forgot It In People". But it is an extremely interesting disc, and in that way, it'll probably be scooped up by the same audience fascinated by Leslie Feist's starry-eyed soliloquies. Anyway, the Hidden Cameras play the Middle East on Nov. 14, and you should go. Video and clips here.
A long time ago, I wrote a review of a favorite CD of mine, by the electro-duo The Knife. Due to space constraints, it never got published. But although "Silent Shout" hasn't made an especially big splash on this side of the Atlantic, it was an important album in Europe, where the market is much hungrier for this kind of stuff. Anyway, here's the review. Buy this CD:
“Silent Shout” is new territory for The Knife’s Olof Dreijer and Karin Dreijer Andersson: conceptual art disguised as startlingly vivid freak-out. Dreijer and Andersson are electro anti-heroes in their native Sweden, and in the U.K., where the laptop-pop of 2004’s “Deep Cuts” was a hit. But until now, the duo has been hesitant to assign a personal accountability to their music. They prefer theatrics – The Knife only performs in costumes and baroque masks, like a Euro Gnarls Barkley without the sense of humor. So “Shout” is also an unveiling of sorts. From the horror show vocals of the title track – “In a dream all my teeth fell out / a cracked smile and a silent shout” – to the portentous backbeat of “The Captain,” the album feels like a messy secret, spilled on tape. There is the whispered threat of violence physical (“Marble House”) and emotional (“Na Na Na”). And later, the black humor of the hyper-sexualized “One Hit.” The surprise on “Shout” is The Knife’s apparently newfound ability to flesh out a psychological landscape with more than ambiance: lyrics count here, as do the pulled-like-taffy vocals. When Andersson announces on “Neverland” that she’s “doing it for dollars,” there’s no need for a more explicit explanation. The music has already closed around her like a guilty conscience.
A good friend of Sound Effects wrote in today with a heads-up on the Age Rings residency at T.T. the Bear's. (Sorry, Will and company, know there's more to the band than just Ted; that's all I could find on the web.) Here's a Jonathan Perry story on the Rings, and here's the schedule:
Hooray for Earth
Movers & Shakers
October 18 (N.E.S.T. Fest):
Hallelujah the Hills
Christians & Lions
Ryan Lee Crosby
P.S. These dudes rock. Mark your calendar... now.
According to local musician Rachel Koppelman, Cambridge's Lily Pad is being forced to shut by the Cambridge Licensing Board. I'll post again on Monday, but here's an excerpt from a recent email sent to the press, and to friends of the Pad:
the lily pad - boston's beloved forum for original,
creative music - has been forced to cancel all shows
until further notice. due to noise complaints, the
cambridge licensing board is obligated to follow the
letter of the law in serving the lily pad with a
'cease and desist' order.
a hearing will be scheduled and the venue is currently
rallying support from the community. the licensing
committee could not be reached, as it is already
closed for the weekend. we expect to have more
details on monday.
since its opening in march, when it replaced the
zeitgeist gallery, the lily pad has begun to flourish
as a venue honoring creativity and quality by
showcasing the best new original music from boston and
beyond. performers have included the best of the new
york avant-garde, such as the claudia quintet, as well
as members of boston strongholds like reverend
glasseye, humanwine, and the dresden dolls. but
equally valuable are the performers who may have no
other forum in the boston area.
According to a Capitol Records press release, The Decemberists have finished their new disc, "Crane's Wife," and have set a release date of Oct. 3.
Jason Roth, of Capitol, writes that, for "Crane," Colin Meloy and "his fellow Decemberists -- multi-instrumentalist Chris Funk, keyboardist Jenny Conlee, bassist Nate Query and drummer John Moen -- set about creating a rich collection of songs which leap off from the story itself into a deeper, more unpredictable musical world."
Sounds about right.
I've been sitting on this for a day, trying to decide whether or not to share. But a friend shared it with me, and there's good karma and bad karma and then there's just not sharing well with others. So enjoy.
Sorry, no good blog headlines were forthcoming. Anyway, I was looking through the Austin City Limits line-up for this year, which is generally a mixed bag. Most attendees are probably going to be able to do without Los Lonely Boys; and listening to Nickel Creek for extended periods of time is hazardous to your spiritual and emotional health. But Husky Rescue (below) is slated for the undercard, as is the excellent Wolf Parade and excellent-in-a-different way Stars.
In other news, next Wednesday, the 19th, Danielson is playing with funky local performance artists U.V. Protection, at the Middle East. This is a good, and musically stimulating line-up. Kudos to the booker. Not yet sold out, I believe...
"We Jam Econo," the new documentary about the Minutemen, was released on DVD late last month; I finally dug up enough change from in between the couch cushions to walk down to Newbury Comics and buy the thing. I'd seen it before when it was in Boston, but this edition of the film has tons of scrapped-together concert footage and some mid- and late-career interviews with the whole band. Anyway, I think it's on sale at a few places for fairly cheap (only 15 bucks at Newbury Comics, which isn't bad. The Gram Parsons DVD is going pretty cheap there, too).
If you're all interested in the history of punk, "Econo" is a stimulating, if saddening, experience. The whole thing could have used some editing, yes -- Watt does some rambling in the first hour that is explained later, more ably, from sources outside the band -- but the guys behind the film assembled a formidable line-up of supporting interviews.
But if you wear big, thick purple earplugs to rock shows or like your music and movies melodic and consonant and uplifting, skip the flick: like the Minutemen's material, the documentary is spare, in-your-face and noisy.
So someone out there is listening, and they've added a Band of Horses date at the Paradise at the end of this summer. BOH have a good album, which resembles, thematically, Sun Kil Moon; in others, it sounds like just plain ole' Red House Painters. Which is better? Depends on how depressed you are, I guess.
About Sound Effects
ContributorsSarah Rodman is a staff music critic for the Boston Globe.
James Reed is a staff music critic for the Boston Globe.
Jonathan Perry is the Globe's Scene & Heard columnist, covering local music.
Michael Brodeur is the assistant arts editor for the Boston Globe, covering pop music, TV, and nightlife.
Julian Benbow is a staff writer at the Boston Globe, covering sports and music.
Katie McLeod is Boston.com's features editor.
Rachel Raczka is a producer for Lifestyle and Arts & Entertainment at Boston.com.
Emily Wright is an Arts & Entertainment producer at Boston.com.