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Off the beaten shows this week with Hayley Thompson-King and Marissa Nadler - tonight 3/7 @ the Plough & Stars + 3/8 @ 826 Boston - debut tracks!

Posted by Jonathan Donaldson March 6, 2013 11:44 AM

banditas.jpgIf you are hunting for cool little shows this week like a Frenchman hunts for truffles, here are a couple of selections to make things more interesting. Tonight, singer/guitarist Hayley Thompson-King of excellent blues/garage/harmony trio Banditas continues her residency at Cambridge's Plough & Stars with her solo project Love-Up Time (a sometimes-duo with White Pages' Simon Simard). Joining her tonight will be Northhampton artist Jeremy Dubs, who is a close associate of Frank Black.

marissa.jpgTomorrow stoic folk songstress Marissa Nadler will charm party-goers for a few brief numbers at 826 Boston in Roxbury for a reading with the Rumpus and McSweeney's in celebratation of AWP Conference week. Nadler's brief set, before she heads off on a European tour (which includes a much anticipated stop for the singer in Turkey) will break-up readings by Roxane Gay, Amy Fusselman, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Thomas Page McBee, and Paul LeGault. Charming-riffic!

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Electro-popping and breakfast muffins - New and newer releases from Bearstonaut and Stereo Telescope

Posted by Jonathan Donaldson February 28, 2013 05:39 PM

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When I need to get up, I need two things to make the magic happen. Caffeine and music. Caffeine is my drug (and I bet it's safely yours too), but it's still worthy of Rick James at his most ambitious. In terms of music (my other fix), it's got to be either punk, rockabilly or electro-pop--that lovely little subgenre born out of '80s new wave and '90s techno whose clean lines and smooth sheen feel so good in the morning before that cynical side kicks in.

One record of recent note in this department comes from Bearstronaut (whom I have written about here), who recorded their dazzling Paradice EP (released Nov 2012) largely in their apartment--though you would never guess that was recorded in anything other than a limo with a portable studio roaming London in the middle of the night. Another dandy comes now from Stereo Telescope (whom I have also touched on here) who are just now in the process of letting music listeners like you and me pry the secrets of their debut LP On and Running (Released Jan 2013) away from their warm vibrant mittens.

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Sarah Rabdau (and 149 other Boston artists) team-up to interpret Beck's new "Song Reader" @ Somerville Theatre - 2/28

Posted by Jonathan Donaldson February 27, 2013 06:20 PM

dowepage.jpgPere Ubu's David Thomas once said something about how the Beach Boys' unreleased Smile album was the greatest album of all time because it only existed in the imagination of the listener. Now, that mischivous offspring of the Fluxus movement, Beck Hansen, has one-upped the Beach Boys by releasing an album that actually doesn't exist at all. Released in December of 2012, Beck's Song Reader is the first album to my knowledge to only be released as a book of sheet-music (released by McSweeney's), and the first to not only exist in the imagination's of its listeners, but via the interpretations of its listeners. In addition to the book, Beck also put up the website Songreader.net where fans can download sheet-music and upload their versions. Talk about crowd-sourcing. None of this really comes as a surprise from a guy who sounded so much like Serge Gainsbourg on 2002's Sea Change that he eventually scored the gig of working with Gainsbourg's daughter. To say that he likes to play in the spectrum of interpretation/ pastiche/plagarism/reappropriation would be an understatement, and so sharing that with his fans seems like a natural progression. Tomorrow night, 2/28, at the Somerville Theatre in Davis Square, 150 or so Boston musicians and dancers will come together to interpret the 20-song "album" in a two-hour performance that will be sure to intrigue both Beck fans and non-Beck fans alike. After all, this might turn out to not sound very much like Beck at all. A 50-person choir? Burlesque dancers? Sounds more like the kind of musical hot mess that is built precisely for a one-time only, no holds-barred performance.

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What the Ho-Ag?!? - Boston Prog-Math-Metal-Spaz-Rock band releases new album TONIGHT @ Oberon

Posted by Jonathan Donaldson February 20, 2013 06:52 PM

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Ho-Ag. It's a band name that gives you no warning as to what the music is going to sound like on the inside. A good omen, to be sure. My first thought was that is was related to MOAB (the infamous mother of all bombs), but as it turns out, it's actually an obscure astronomy reference that I'm simply not smart enough to explain.

On their new record, World Destroying Zig-Zags, Boston's Ho-Ag deliver a mother of a record by capturing the intensity and quizzical nature of good science fiction riddle, whilst maintaining the day-glo poster ambience of the perma-stoned teenager's bedroom where such theories might be contemplated.

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Shepherdess meets Corin Ashley - Q&A (+ Record Release parties!)

Posted by Jonathan Donaldson February 14, 2013 05:57 PM

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Welcome to installment #4 of Frankenstein meets the Wolf Man--where unrelated Boston musicians are asked to review each other's records. I am your friendly moderator (I like to think of myself as more of a Jack Kirby than a Stan Lee in terms of famous team-ups). In this installment we have two outstanding records from artists that take us deep into Boston's past and future. The first is from the Hilken Mancini-led Shepherdess. Mancini was a member of the great Boston '90s indie-rock band Fuzzy and has been active since in not only bands but also endeavors such as Girls Rock Camp Boston. As Shepherdess is a trio, to say that it also features Emily Arkin (the Operators) and Allison Murray (the Clear Deigns) would be a misnomer. I'm Saving Myself for Shepherdess would certainly not exist without all of them....And then over here we have the new record from alternate-dimension pop idol Corin Ashley, who is still quite giving birth to a promising solo career after rocking the '90s and part of the '00s with Boston power-pop legends, the Pills. Ashley's New Lion Terrace was brought to life over the past couple years in recording sessions near and far--from Q Division to London's Abbey Road (yes, crosswalks and Apple Scruffs).

This post comes in advance of two release parties--Shepherdess Saturday at the Cantab in Cambridge (see details below) and Corin Ashley Sunday at Johnny D's in Somerville. But now enough talking: commence rocking!

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Tonight's flights - Margaret Glaspy EP release at Passim | Doctors Fox + New Beard at the Milky Way

Posted by Jonathan Donaldson January 31, 2013 05:25 PM

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Tonight on Cambridge (my side of the river), folk singer/songwriter Margaret Glaspy will be celebrating the release of her debut EP, If & When, up at Club Passim. Folk is a pretty big bucket these days (always was, I guess), but Glasby has a unique skill set that sets her apart from a huge pack and makes her record worth repeated listens. I'll give you a hint--it has a lot to do with that studied guitar-playing of hers.

Merrily, Inbound Sounds is happy to give away a pair of tickets to the first enterprising reader to respond to my friend Scott Pollack via his email by 7PM.

Down yonder in Jamaica Plain, the most excellent Doctors Fox will be presenting their Broolyn-based friends, New Beard at the Milky Way. New Beard generate a sound spectacle that I predict will be as fun to describe as is to listen to--but don't take my word for it...because I just might not have the words.

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Extra letters spell rock fabuloussness for MMOSS and CreaturoS

Posted by Jonathan Donaldson January 28, 2013 08:00 PM

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Two bands that I have enjoyed muchly in the live setting recently are MMOSS and CreaturoS--both of whom happen to have newish records of notable quality from late 2012. Granite-staters MMOSS peddle pensively-gentle, yet krauty/expansive-psych interspersed with bursts of pop, while locals CreaturoS (former members of Doomstar!) flip the switch with an alkaline blues explosion of fun-n-stun rock & roll.

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King Richard's Fair - blogger-turned-booker Richard Bouchard gives the lay of the land for local music at TTs

Posted by Jonathan Donaldson January 17, 2013 06:10 PM

profile picture.jpgWhether or not you know him personally, Richard Bouchard is as ubiquitous at Boston shows as the late Billy Ruane. The Merrimack Valley native is best known for the immense amount of work he did for the recently closed Boston Band Crush music blog where he made a name for himself for his tireless support of the Boston rock scene. Bouchard is also notable for being a consummate hat-man, and in my book is noteworthy for being one of the most passionate music scenesters in town who is not in cahoots with his own musical projects. Bouchard annouced this week that he's going to be assuming the role of local booker at Cambridge's TT the Bears where he hopes to fill in nights that are not occupied by national touring acts with the best the Boston rock scene has to offer. Here are some chestnuts from our chat.

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Have a stiff drink with Christian McNeill - 1/12 @ the Paradise (Hot Stove)

Posted by Jonathan Donaldson January 10, 2013 08:34 PM

Normally, the rock-meets-baseball 'Hot Stove' event is not something I pay much attention to, anymore than I would want to watch rock musicians taking batting practice. However, for a unification of musical friends past and present (this year's event features members of Letters to Cleo, Belly and Buffalo Tom, as well as Cooperstown), 'Hot Stove' is pretty tough to strike out. OK, I'm being funny (being cut from the 9th grade baseball team never went down easy). The line-up includes a special set from one Mr. Christian McNeill (he of Hybrasil) who has recently re-emerged after a decade with a fine new band (Sea Monsters) and album, Everything's Up For Grabs--which is due for national release on Feb 2nd. christianlores-qdivision-2_3_11-1911.jpg

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Chomping on First Night 2013 - Because culture is like vegetables, and vegetables are YUM!

Posted by Jonathan Donaldson December 29, 2012 09:19 AM

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First Night is an annual all-day event held in Greater Boston on New Years Eve that celebrates the generosity and vibrance of the Boston arts community. It's a day that begins with art, movies, free tours, dance, and puppet shows and ends with music and fireworks. It's also a great opportunity to stalk me if you want to follow me around all day. It's New Year's Eve--put a cheese ball and some crackers in your purse and meet me at the MFA at 10AM. You can check out the full First Night schedule here, but here's my agenda.

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Jaggery wows and flutters tonight @ Oberon - 12/20

Posted by Jonathan Donaldson December 20, 2012 12:32 PM

untitled.bmpTonight in Harvard Square's Oberon Theater, Jaggery will perform as one of the acts in a performance called Org: Last Day on Earth which has a theme somewhat related to the Mayan version of the Y2K bug.

As tongue-in-cheek concepts like joking about the end-of-days have become as ironic as an ingrown toenail, it's important to remember that music, if not the medium, can always be worth venturing the unknown for.

If a volcano the size of Rhode Island started to erupt, I wouldn't go and see Jaggery tonight, but under any other circumstances, seeing them is a delight. At the center is the mercurial magesty of Singer Mail (piano/vocals), who is not so much mercurial for her moods as in the conventional sense of the expression, but more for the molten metallic drip that her vocal phrasings weave around the rhythms of the music.


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Breaking World Records (or something like that) with Bang! Bros and Cotton Candy

Posted by Jonathan Donaldson December 12, 2012 03:57 PM

fingernails2.jpgAdmit it, we all looked in admiration and horror at fingernails man in the old Guinness Book of World Records. Today is a new era, where everyday people just like you too can try and break a world record too! Today, Boston electro-smash duo Bang! Bros are actually trying to break the Flaming Lips record by attempting to play 12 shows in 12 different cities within a 24 hour period (get it? 12/12? Oh, and the Flaming Lips record was 8). Meanwhile, Cotton Candy have released their newest LP, Off-the-Hook and Out-of-Control, with 33 tracks clocking in at just shy of 17 minutes. That's got to be a world record, or something?

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Other kindsa bad girls - Bad Girls Upset By the Truth - @ Johnny D's - 12/11-12/12

Posted by Jonathan Donaldson December 7, 2012 03:18 PM

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Just in time for a break in the run of the Slutcracker across the street at the Somerville Theatre comes a two-night run of Jo Carol Pierce's Bad Girls Upset By The Truth. The humorous production splices country-tinged ballads with dramatic monologues that explore one woman's realization of the "truth" about love.

Unlike Slutcracker (which I love too), Bad Girls reminds us that not all bad girls are created equal. Not all of them are raging extroverts, or conventionally sex-positive, or are particularly socially well-adjusted for that matter. Sometimes that geek girl with the ugly sweater is just that, a geek girl with a sweater--and that thing ain't getting whipped off to a disco soundtrack.

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The instrumental pleasures of the Invisible Rays and the Weisstronauts @ Armory - 12/6 and Midway - 12/7

Posted by Jonathan Donaldson December 5, 2012 02:10 PM

ventures.bmp In that tiny splinter of time that existed between the great first wave of American rock & roll and the British Invasion, there was a place and time for the brief rise of the instrumental group. Outfits like the Ventures and Shadows helped paved the way for the unit-mentality and melodicism of the Beatles, and surf-guitarists like Dick Dale were of course hugely influential on left-coasters from the Beach Boys to Jimi Hendrix. Two of Boston's best instrumental groups have events this week, and despite all the differences in their sound and philosophy, they have more in common than I first would have guessed.

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It turns out that both the Weisstronauts' Pete Weiss and the Invisble Rays' Rafi Sofer are both recording engineers/producers in the New England area. A pretty significant point to have in common other than the way they look in reddish lighting based on the pictures included here! Sofer works in Cambridge at Q Division, while Weiss runs Verdant up in Vermont. Could it be that each formed his instrumental band a decade or so ago (the Weisstronauts in '99 and the Invisble Rays in '01) to escape the musical ego machine that is best embodied by the persona of the lead singer? There might be a bit of truth to that.

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Lounge axe drops on Somerville @ Radio - 11/29

Posted by Jonathan Donaldson November 29, 2012 12:42 PM

I might not have a 740AM tattoo, but I l do love lounge music. In fact, it's one of those things like being a Yankees fan or a vegetarian that I imagine would be sometimes hard to explain. Things that I like about being a fan of lounge music though are easy to list. For one, I have my pick of the litter at the Goodwill. Also, at record fairs, I can make a b-line for the Bacharach, Chris Montez, Doris Day and Anita Kerr records without having to bump elbows with other grubby collectors. The fact is, nobody wants this stuff. Lounge music is the punchline of every musical joke, the easiest genre to parody, even perhaps when you think about, the last line of parodying that anyone can cross. After all, what lends itself to that dreaded apparition of a 'medley' better than a baby grand and a shimmery dress?

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Lounge is easy to bully because it's just like that geeky guy with the glasses at the piano-- clear, nuanced, vulnerable, fun, sexy...well, all these things. But, it's also one of the all-time great musical genres for lovers of pure music.

Tonight, Rock 'n' Roll Rumble maven and WZLX DJ Anngelle Wood will be fulfilling a long-held dream by launching Lounge Act, a series of lounge inspired music from local Boston bands, at Somerville's Radio. Tonight's show will feature Ruby Rose Fox, SPF 5000 and Goddamn Glenn and the Parlour Bells Players. I asked each of these parties what THEY think of when they think of lounge music. Here is what they had to say.

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Parks and Broken Toys- new tracks in the Inbounds Sounds playground (exclusive!)

Posted by Jonathan Donaldson November 20, 2012 02:50 PM

WalterSickertandtheArmyofBrokenToys_PhotoByHansWendland.jpgI'm not sure which of these statements is true. 1. These days musicians have to be everything to get noticed. 2. These days musicians are everything. 3.These days musicians have to get noticed. Sometimes being involved in the press link makes me a little confused on this point. In the end it doesn't matter who you are. You're all going into the great cosmic shuffle of my jukebox where there you will stay.

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Two bands that will be pushing a new hook when they drop their new records this year are Parks and Walter Sickert & the Army of Broken Toys. Parks is the new band from Oranjuly's Brian King, who aside from adopting a new sound (less retro, more 'now') has retired Oranjuly and has a new band with former members of the Motion Sick (Matt Girard), Stu Dietz (This Blue Heaven) and Brian Fitch (Spirit Kid). For the Army of Broken Toys, it's a grand new concept album titled Soft Time Traveler (love that title) which they plan to turn into a multi-media affair and hopefully a fabulous tour (investigate their Kickstarter here).

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Instant music scene – Boston Music Awards preview tonight @ Red Star Union – 11/13

Posted by Jonathan Donaldson November 13, 2012 01:09 PM

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For anyone looking to get themselves inebriated and/or acquainted with the Boston Music scene on short notice, now is your big chance.

Tonight, Red Star Union in Cambridge’s Kendall Square will present a preview to the 25th annual Boston Music Awards (to be held December 2nd at the Liberty Hotel) featuring performances from New Artist of the Year nominee Fat Creeps, Metal/Hardcore Artist of the Year nominee Mellow Bravo, and Electronic Artist of the Year nominee Bearstronaut.

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Muy Cansado and Naked On Roller Skates - steel cage match @ the Middle East - 11/9

Posted by Jonathan Donaldson November 9, 2012 02:57 PM

Tonight, two Boston Bands share a dual record release bill at the Middle East Upstairs. And while two will enter, only one will leave. While Mean Gene Okerlund couldn't be reached for his ring-side commentary for what will surely be a steel cage match of rock and wits, Inbound Sounds is doing our best here to interview the contestants and see what kind of smack they have to talk. venturaadonismeangene.jpg

In the red corner, you've got gentle indie country kids Muy Cansado who are releasing their latest full-length, Let It Go. In the blue corner, you've got fist-pumpers Naked On Roller Skates with their new Songs from a Wooden Box EP. I asked Muy Cansado's Chris Mulvey and Naked On Roller Skates' Travis Richter to face off and talk a little smack before tonight's show.

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Homegrown 4 - not quite legalized but definitely therapeutic @ Cambridge Elks Lodge - 11/2 and 11/3

Posted by Jonathan Donaldson October 31, 2012 06:58 PM

276400_363013963784084_1834663462_n.jpgThe Boston Police Department may be cracking down on local house show hosts like Whitehaus and Gay Gardens (chronicled nicely here by Perry Eaton in Allston Pudding) but have no fear denizens of funky music--the festival that represents all the best that the underground has to offer is happening in full effect this weekend.

We are speaking here of course about Homegrown 4--the celebrity baby of Boston's Dan Shea (Boston Hassle/B.O.W. shows) and Sam Potrykus (Boston Compass). Shea and Potrykus aren't just members of Needy Visions, but are also two of the hardest working promoters I've come across in my 20 years as a music nerd.

What do you get when two people who really love music, like, insanely a lot, pool together all of their connections and resources to put on the best music festival of their dream bands? You get Homegrown.

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Ruby Ridge goes under the Knife @ Great Scott ("The Pill") - 10/31

Posted by Jonathan Donaldson October 31, 2012 03:21 PM

RubyRidge.jpgOf all of the bands that will be dressing up and performing the music of other bands tonight in the Boston Halloween tradition, there are no choices more obscure than Ruby Ridge performing as the Knife at tonight's The Pill 10th Annual Halloween Party at Great Scott. Comprised of married couple John and Callan Von Bittrich, Ruby Ridge have both the acumen and set-up to take on the arch-electronica of Swedish brother/sister duo, the Knife, best known for chipping away at rockist barriers with the breakthrough 2006 release Silent Shout.

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What's that musical mountain emerges the distance? Bent Shapes? Sic Alps? - 10/25 @ Radio

Posted by Jonathan Donaldson October 25, 2012 05:48 PM


Lots of good shows have been dive bombing Somerville's Radio lately, and tonight's show will be one of the best. San Francisco's Sic Alps harken back to a time when skinny boys with bad teeth made records and people went to the store and bought them and took them home and played them (wait they still do that?). Their new album Sic Alps (Drag City) is full of the sights and sounds of a warm, cramped dive bar, c.1968. Check it out and notice how "Glyphs" has the sludgey symphonics and lava lamp vocals of Syd's Floyd, minus the gnomes. Then "God Bless Her, I Miss Her" grooves along mid-sweat, like CCR to the Blues Explosion's Mitch Ryder.

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For explorers of sound, Boston's Bent Shapes is one of the other mountain-esque bands on tonight's bill. Formerly known as Girlfriends, the newly re-christened Bent Shapes feature a tighter cleaner sound on their new flexidisc "Boys to Men"/"Brat Poison."

(photo Alex Bloemendal)

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Rick Berlin meets Hey Ice Machine - Q&A (+ CD Release tonight for Berlin @ the Magic Room!)

Posted by Jonathan Donaldson October 25, 2012 10:22 AM

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Welcome to installment #3 of Frankenstein meets the Wolf Man-where unrelated Boston musicians are made to review each other's records. I am your friendly moderator, which I guess would make me more of a Lou Costello than a Bud Abbot. If you catch my drift. In this installment we have Rick Berlin, who is like, Willy Wonka-talented and has been around forever...and then over here very impressive newcomers Hey Ice Machine, who up until recently were known as Shelterbelt (but how new can you be though when your band features members of Fuzzy(!), Frank Smith, Muy Cansado and Mittens?) Both Mr. Berlin and Hey Ice Machine have new records out, discussed below in an exchange between the two parties and in fact, Rick Berlin's CD release party for Rick Berlin and the Nickle & Dime Band's Always On Insane is TONIGHT at the Magic Room in Allston (see details below). As always, my take on the two albums very much informs the questions. But see for yourself just how unexpectedly things play out between Hey Ice Machine's Jonathan Ulman and Rick Berlin. Mwa-ha-ha.

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The Upper Crust give MS an indifferent sneer @ the Davis Square Theater - 9/29

Posted by Jonathan Donaldson September 27, 2012 10:18 PM

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[Photo: Jay Elliot]

Right down in Davis Square, some of the best rock & roll bands in Boston will be battling Multiple Sclerosis tonight (Sat 9/29) in the second night of Crash Safely--an annual Boston music scene fundraiser held this year at the Davis Square Theater (formerly Jimmy Tingle's theater) in Somerville. Organizers Amanda Nichols (who rocks triumphantly with MS) and Nick Blakey have upped the ante this year by bringing in court jesters Cotton Candy and none other than the most royalest Upper Crust who promise once and for all to vanquish this sulking beast of a disease even if they have to stay together for another 300 years. Sidewalk Driver, TRiPLE THiCK and Thick Shakes will be rocking with prominence as well.

I stepped into the court of the Upper Crust's Lord Bendover (2nd left) and this is what he had to say.

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Midriff Records and Boston Band Crush celebrate friendship and loyalty at Radio - 9/29

Posted by Jonathan Donaldson September 26, 2012 02:58 AM

Running a record label in 2012 is tough business. Especially when you are a two-man operation doing it on a shoe-string. More especially when you are focused on putting out music by bands and artists that you love. Most especially when no one is buying music anymore, and the value on 'talent' is perceived by some to be at an all-time low behind the ability to put pants in seats (look at the listings at some of Boston's bigger clubs. Not a perfect record).

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This brings us to Midriff records, who also might not have a perfect record in the double-A league of noisy indie-rock that they trade in. But try telling that to label-head Cameron Keiber. All year long, Keiber has been running a 10-year anniversary celebration of the label in the form of a monthly residency at Union Square's Radio--highlighting many of the bands that have graced Midriff's roster, including his own band, the Beatings, who released Midriff's first album Italiano in February 2002.

Previous installments in this residency have featured Midriff stalwarts Age Rings (R.I.P.), Greg Lyon and Louder My Dear. Tomorrow, Keiber has invited Boston Band Crush to help put together a special bill for the September installment of the Midriff residency, as the local unicorn lovers bring the Daily Pravda and Eski Esko to join Midriff's Eldridge Rodriguez (Keiber's post-Beatings project) and Midriff NYC friends, Relations.

I talked to Keiber about what the future holds for Midriff Records and what does it even mean to run a label in 2102 anyway.

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Move over David Byrne and St. Vincent - Will Dailey and Audrey Ryan @ Club Passim - 9/22

Posted by Jonathan Donaldson September 21, 2012 01:33 PM

While some pairings might seem less savory than others, it's a red sky at night for the pairing of Audrey Ryan and Will Dailey, who will play two shows at Club Passim tomorrow night (9/22). photo-1.JPG Ryan and Dailey share a hard drive to find a niche for themselves in the ever-expanding and complex singer-songwriter market. Dailey's last album, Will Dailey and the Rivals, was released in 2011, while Ryan's last album, Siren's, was released just this past June. In addition, Ryan published a book this last April, The Need to Be Heard, which features several interviews with notable music industry artists and figures about the struggle for a place in the world of music.

According to Ryan, the two independent songwriters met a couple of years ago after being asked to do an East Coast tour with the Brew, themselves big fans of both Ryan and Dailey. "Will and I really enjoyed playing/singing on each others songs and have done so ever since when we can," says Ryan. She and Dailey took to doing the odd cover here and there, before eventually sitting in on one another's tunes. It is an affinity echoed by Dailey, who remarks that working with Ryan has helped him open up to a new audience and vice versa. "In this town you can end up playing in the circle too often," says Dailey, who has not only encountered a new audience through this collision, but more importantly, new songs to love. "I'll definitely be doing (Ryan's) 'No Difference,' I can't see myself not doing that one."

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About the author

Jonathan Donaldson is a Boston-based musician, writer, and second-generation music junkie. An Ohio native who moved to Boston in 1998, Jonathan's musical loves include R&B, psych, punk, bubblegum, country, electronic, More »

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