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.
Over recent years, the sprawl of the Boston Music Awards has been steadily moving out of the conservative, rock-heavy center and deeper into the various penthouses and alleys of the Boston music scene. The nature of Boston as a stepping-stone towards other markets makes this challenging. The BMA's even have a (somewhat tongue-in cheek) category called Best Boston Artist who Doesn't Live in Boston, with nominees such as Aimee Mann and Mike Viola. However, a look at this years' Artist of the Year nominees says a lot about what Boston is accomplishing in 2012. On the extremes you've got polar opposites like Ethiopian-pop band Debo Band (on Sub Pop's world music imprint, Next Ambience) and Berklee/Youtube/Kiss 108 band Karmin. In between you've got Amanda "I knew her when" Palmer and local club scene ardents and any-day breakouts Mean Creek--it's a diversification that is equally reflected as you edge down in to the more localized, individual genre categories as well.
To underscore the diversity of the various categories, tonight’s event will feature three of Boston’s most-read music critics presenting a band they love. In fact, all three writers probably love all three bands, but that's a story for later on. The Boston Herald’s Jed Gottlieb will present fancy-riffing hard-rockers Mellow Bravo. The Phoenix’s Michael Marotta (also of ‘FNX’s Boston Accents and Vanya Records) will present garage rockers, Fat Creeps. Finally, the Globe’s Luke O’Neil (also of the can’t-miss blog, PTSOTL) will present electro-pop outfit Bearstronaut.
On the surface, it might sound like a hodgepodge bill, but in reality, the major players on the Boston scene listen to and pay attention to a much wider variety of music than some might think. Punk-aficionados are penning missives on the virtues and evils of Karmin. Palmer's Kickstarter-takeover gets more philosophical ink than a Diesel Cafe barista. Debo Band packs shows with rock fans who have probably never even heard one of the legendary Ethiopiques compilations that inspired Debo to perform. For good and bad, Boston has made strides to become more open than 10 or 20 years ago.
This kind of openness starts with writers like the Globe's James Reed who are willing to take Bieber seriously at TD Garden all the way down to the adventurous who find the addresses to clandestine shows featuring bands with puzzling names like Fat Creeps. "At a time when a lot of music is starting once again to become over-produced, over-hyped, and over-everything'd, Fat Creeps strip rock and roll down the way it should be and allow the songs to stand on their own merit," says Marotta, who could almost be attacking the likes of Karmin with these words meant to praise Fat Creeps. But those who know him know that he loves his girl-pop just as much as he loves his Brit-pop, psych-rock and electro (the upcoming Bearstronaut EP will be on his Vanya label). Different flavors for different days.
If you ask O'Neil, he might tell you that the 'differences' between the scenes in town and maybe even popular genres in general right now are less important than people like to think they are. "I think that from the outside looking in, a band like Bearstronaut (who celebrate the release of their latest Paradice EP tomorrow at TTs) gets lumped into the "electronic" tangle because they use synths and triggers and their songs are danceable and such," says the writer via email. "But that's really no different than a lot of bands working right now. When you compare them to actual electronic producers, they're a rock band. I suppose it puts them in a fun space that both ends of spectrum can enjoy."
Across town at the Herald, Jed Gottlieb wants to assuage the fears of those who think that the Boston pendulum has swung too far from the heart of rock & roll that originally put us on the musical map. "Indie pop, electro, punk, garage rock is everywhere -- and it's awesome," says Gottlieb. "But if you miss rock 'n' roll, if you miss the Stones, Deep Purple, Guns N' Roses and blow-your-doors-right-off rock & roll, you won't get better than Mellow Bravo."
RSVP here (free!)
Boston Music Awards Maven's Choice
Featuring Mellow Bravo, Beastronaut, Fat Creeps
Red Star Union
ONE KENDALL SQUARE, CAMBRIDGE MA. 02139
Nov 13th, 2012
@ 8PM - 11:15PM
Hosted by Jake Brennan, Producer, Boston Music Awards
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About the authorJonathan 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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