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An Interview with Tennis 0

Posted: April 20th, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: Blog | Tags: , ,

Last month, I had the pleasure of speaking with Alaina Moore, of the indie-pop band Tennis. She, her husband Patrick Riley, and drummer James Barone released their third full-length album in September.

“Ritual In Repeat” is available now, and Tennis will be performing on May 17th at the Great Scott in Allston, MA.

WMFO: How has your process changed now that you’re onto your third full-length album?

Alaina Moore: Weirdly as we wrote our second record, we didn’t experience any kind of sophomore slump—it came super naturally. It was a fantastic experience, we had no problem. People asked about the sophomore slump afterwards and then it was in my head…

When we wrote our third record I had the sophomore slump, once I knew it existed. Anyway, I had basically the worst time ever writing Ritual in Repeat, nothing sounded right, nothing sounded like me, it felt forced. It was such a weird experience, but finally I came across (through the recommendation of a friend) a book called Daily Rituals which delineates the day to day routine of life, and explains the processes of best writers, artists, actors, philosophers…

How did that help you? 

Well, everyone suffers self-doubt and lack of inspiration—grinding it out through the routine is what numbed our minds to get the work done. We had a really strict daily writing routine that changed a lot—read for an hour, write for an hour, play guitar for an hour, play piano for an hour, write some more… All of a sudden all of the songs just started being finished, after 8 months of getting nothing done.

The album is called Ritual in Repeat because that’s what we found, sort of discovering an artist’s daily ritual, repeating it, making the process feel comforting—it began to have a sort of spiritual significance.

Can you tell me a little bit about where you draw your inspiration?

It changes all the time—it’s never the same. Sometimes it’s a book I’ve read, sometimes a new or old album. Sometimes when we’re on tour I start to realize that I want to write a different sort of song, something more rewarding—then we go home and do that. It always evolves, as we do as human beings.

I don’t want to keep writing the way that we were on our first record. What has stayed consistent is newness and change, we go sailing again, and tour is a constant change, it’s helped us keep working.

It’s really wonderful how you describe everything as “we.” How do you and Patrick like to work together? What’s it like working together as husband and wife?

It’s’ a very different sort of “we.” It’s interesting because we feel completely connected, I don’t’ even notice when we say we, we’ve been doing this since the day we met. We do work really hard to maintain autonomy in our writing—we write separately and then once we have our personal ideas on our own we come together and finish it. We are both still pursuing personal things—our tastes have a lot of overlap but also have a lot of disconnect so we work a lot to keep our own ideas. Like any band or any relationship there’s a lot of compromise. We respect that part of each other.

I’m a huge Black Keys fan, so I know that your second album was produced by Patrick Carney, as was Ritual In Repeat. Can you tell me what it was like to work with him?

The first time was an incredible learning curve. I felt bad for him actually, he had to teach us all of these things and there were all of these draining lessons. The second time around we had this report and this trust, we all feel like “Young and Old” is such a great record, so we had that to build off of.

You need so much trust when a producer wants you to do something that is out of your comfort zone, you don’t want to do it. But we have this history that we’re really proud of so we were able to push ourselves with him.

He just knows what it’s like to be a self-made working band, though I don’t want to enshroud that with romanticism… We share that, we aren’t from a cool place, we’re from Colorado and they’re [The Black Keys] from Ohio, we’re not from Brooklyn or something, our families weren’t in bands or anything… We know what it’s like to be poor and confused and mistrusting of major labels and big contracts. This shared history is one of the things that makes things work in the studio. We go to him a lot just for advice or just to complain.

Its funny how it started, we were so ignorant… We just emailed him, we were pretty naïve, just being like, “Hey dude, want to work on our album?” At the same time I’m like, now I would have been way too scared to reach out. It was kind of great how ignorant we were, we weren’t afraid to just ask.

Best advice I could give to anyone: If you want something, just ask. The worst thing that can happen is if they say no. So many wonderful things wouldn’t have happened if we hadn’t been so ignorant and just asked anyway.

I am coming from a radio station; we play an enormous range of different stuff. I’m always looking for new music to play! What bands do you guys listen to?

We work really hard to listen to very obscure music, the word obscure is super relative, but we try to listen to off the beaten path stuff, just because what you listen to it influences your music so much. Sometimes I’ll be writing something and think it’s so genius and then Patrick will come in and be like, “This is a Katy Perry song.”

If you’re trying to write something original or new you have to dig really deep—you can’t make something out of nothing, art and music is a conversation. We try to listen to really niche things because we want to bring things that are less explored territory, to bring new stuff to the forefront.

After all of this work and change, where do you see your music going?

I think that for our next album I think we’re starting to realize how really important and integral the live element of being a band is to being successful these days—you have to tour a lot more than you used to in order to succeed, to keep afloat. Normally, I would write thinking of me in my room writing a song to record, but now it is to writing to play it all over the world. I have to write something that’s more engaging, more of a narrative, and more performative.

The next thing is a really long sailing trip—after writing this next record it’s time to recalibrate and go back to that really reflective place. We want to re-center and find that place again and see what we have after that.

We’re going to go away for awhile, go back to sea, ready for the next stage of our career.

 

 

Rx Bandits Impress at The Sinclair 0

Posted: April 12th, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: Blog

Fans that came to see Rx Bandits on Wednesday, April 8th at the Sinclair in Cambridge were treated to an excellent performance from beginning to end as we saw a strong showing from every act.

Cayetana was the first opener, and they brought an easygoing stage presence with them. The frontwoman commented that the first show that she had ever attended was to see “The Pharmaceutical Bandits” (Rx Bandits’ former moniker). The three-piece, all-female outfit from Philadelphia played straightforward hard rock with lots of energy, the perfect first opener and excellent beginning to the show.

The next band was A Great Big Pile of Leaves, and the crowd reception to the indie rock group was so positive that one got the impression that many concertgoers were there to see them instead of the headliner. This made for a very strong set from the Brooklyn band. A lot of their set consisted of their most recent release from Topshelf Records, “You’re Always On My Mind.” The crowd was screaming the words along with the band for their last few tracks, which only set the scene for a killer set from Rx Bandits.

The indie-prog reggae-rockers (along every genre in between) opened with “Ruby Cumulous”, the first full-length track off their most recent album “Gemini, Her Majesty”. They played a few songs from this album, getting the 500-strong crowd moving and dancing all the way. There were some moshers in the front, but the mostly young, low-30s crowd danced harmoniously, enjoying the music.

The highlights of the night from Rx Bandits included excellent renditions of “Apparition” (reggae chops combined with a hooky chorus), “Wide Open” (hard-hitting), and “…And The Battle Begun” (fast-paced and complicated). The real treat of the set was when frontman Matt Embree slowed it down and played a cover of Bill Withers’ famous track, “Ain’t No Sunshine” in his own style.

Overall, the show was worth the price of admission and all three bands come recommended.

A Brief Glimpse into The “Get Hard” Press Tour 0

Posted: April 5th, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: Blog, Reviews | Tags: , ,

Somewhere in between trips to SXSW and appearances at the Comedy Central roast of Justin Bieber, Will Ferrell and Kevin Hart, the stars of Warner Brothers’ new comedy Get Hard sat down with a group of college reporters to discuss the film.

Ferrell and Hart were both predictably charming and affable, cracking jokes between themselves, lauding praise on first-time director Etan Cohen, and responding to questions covering a breadth of topics.

In a sense, they compose themselves in much the same way throughout the film — this is not Ferrell or Hart at their most brash, both turning in performances that are about what you’d expect from them at this stage in their careers.  Unfortunately, this laissez-faire approach ends up hurting the movie more than it helps it. Hart in particular is likable as the emotional center of the film, but neither star is able to elevate the movie beyond its rather odious premise: Successful hedge-fund manager James King (Ferrell) is convicted of a series of embezzlement and fraud charges and sentenced to 10 years in a maximum security lockup.  Because his thoughts immediately turn to an inability to handle 10 years of prison-rape, he offers his car washer Darnell (Hart) $30,000 in exchange for a month of prison readiness training, based on the assumption that Darnell had spent time in prison. (When Darnell tells his wife about the new arrangement, she presses him for more explanation on where that assumption comes from: “I was being black,” he responds). And that, sadly, is where most of the film’s humor come from.

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This is the kind of movie where one type of joke is hammered into your skull so many times you almost give up questioning the setup out of pure exhaustion. If you wanted to know how King, who we’re repeatedly told is brilliant (he holds a degree from Harvard Business School and makes partner at his investment company) is dumb enough to make repeated assumptions and continually mis-read social cues, you’re going to have a tough time digging through ethnic and rape jokes to find an answer. A trip to a gay hookup spot designed to teach King how to properly fellate a fellow inmate (because, the film reasons, this will prevent him from being raped) similarly relies on gay-panic humor and a full-frontal semi-erect penis as a sight gag.

It’s not all that bad, however.  Ferrell’s hilariously white-collar prison-yard trash talk (“I hope you brought your rewards card, because the 8th d*** is free!”, “I’m about to put a hashtag on your a** and see how many hits it gets”) and backhanded snipes at Yale offer occasional glimpses of what could be an original take on the setup — but too often the film tosses these ideas aside in favor of easy jokes about people of color, rape, and homosexuality.

You get a sense that Cohen had some legitimate social issues on his mind when making the film; the opening credit sequence shows the disparity in basic living conditions between LA’s wealthy and poor, the ostensible “villain” of the film is a disgustingly wealthy billionaire who buys an entire island as a tax shelter, and King misses the irony in claiming he “never asked for handouts” despite being born to a wealthy family. But nobody involved seems interested in making that kind of movie (Hart and Ferrell, for their part, entertained questions about the prison system and their preparation for the roles, but their responses indicate that research was not a big part of their process). Cohen is ultimately more interested in winding up his two stars and letting them play with the material.  They’re undoubtedly a great comic pair — you can’t help but smiling every time 6’3” Ferrell physically lifts the 5’4” Hart — but in the end, they’re underserved by the script (also by Cohen, along with Jay Martel and Ian Roberts) which settles for a tone that wouldn’t be out of place in any Adam Sandler movie from the 1990s. 

And in the end, this is a Will Ferrell/Kevin Hart movie from the 2010s — at this point, we should know what to expect.

Good news! 0

Posted: March 30th, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: Blog | Tags:

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As Professor Hubert J. Farnsworth would say! I found out that a box set of the “Decline and Fall of Western Civilization”! Its amazing, what started out as a film sponsored by religious groups to warn the youth of the “dangers” of punk music has become a huge cult classic. If you were ever interested in seeing a really young Pat Smear, this is that opportunity. You can also see D.J. Bonebreaks “bedrooom” within a closet. The movie was then followed up with Decline and Fall of Western Civilization the Metal Years. For those who saw the mini series from HBO’s Sonic Highways and were disappointed by their coverage of the Los Angeles music scene. Decline, the Metal Years, more than made up for it. The focus was on the real sleazy L.A. music scene. If you’re a fan of metal, this was must see tv. I had no idea there was a third movie to this set. I’ll have to wait to see how much this goes for when it hits the store June 30th! This is certainly a good excuse to hunt these films down either from your local library or your favorite site you watch movies from. Check it out! It will be the most fun you are legally allowed to have!

Big Data, Live at The Sinclair…in case you missed it 0

Posted: March 26th, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: Blog, Reviews

 

Songs from the Squid Pod airs every Sunday from 3-5pm.
Contact: @squidpodmusic on Twitter or squidpodmusic@gmail.com.

So what was your excuse for not being at The Sinclair Wednesday night, March 25th? The freezing rain just before the 7pm opening of the doors? You still can’t tell if your car is under that pile of snow on the right-hand side of the street or under the one on the left? Whatever your excuse, you’ll soon realize it wasn’t enough after the number of people you come across in the next day or two who rave about the show.

Headlining the show was Big Data, who are coming off the release of their first full-length, 2.0, on March 23rd. Big Data is the brainchild of Manhattan native Alan Wilkis, who now resides in Brooklyn along with the rest of the band, and features the accompanying, siren-sultry vocals of Lizzy Ryan.

Wilkis describes the band name and the focus of the lyrical themes as, “A paranoid electronic music project from the internet, formed out of a general distrust for technology and The Cloud (despite a growing dependence on them).” I had a chance to speak with Wilkis after the show and he elaborated on the concept a little more:

“All the songs are about or inspired by stuff happening in technology…paranoia, privacy, freedom, Edward Snowden, social media. I work with a different vocalist on every song on the recordings and with each person I work with we try to pick some topic and that’s always the jumping off point, but then we try to frame it in the way that you could read it as a pop song, albeit a weird pop song but a pop song, but if you look for it, the double entendres and technological references are in there. You don’t have to read it that way but you can.” Asked about the track, “Business Of Emotion (feat. White Sea),” Wilkis went on to explain, “That was about the Facebook mood experiments that went on in 2013 and popped up in the media in the summer of 2014. Basically what happened was, Facebook conducted an experiment on 700,000 people without their knowing it and the way it worked was that for half of them, for a week, more positive things were showing up in their news feeds and the other half they skewed it a bit more negatively. [Facebook] then recorded what people were then more likely to post in the following week and … people that saw more negative stuff were basically more depressed. So what is basically a big, giant mood manipulation experiment, without anybody’s consent, at least openly, but technically just by signing up for Facebook, they can do whatever they want with you because it’s all buried in the terms of service. Nobody was ‘hurt’ in the process but it’s just sort of horrible knowing that it’s possible…and opens a lot of scary doors that we probably should’ve seen coming.”

Wilkis says that if you don’t know the story behind that song, “It could [sound like] just a generic, stupid, make-you-feel-good song, but it’s very much not about that.” Appropriately enough, Big Data included a great cover of Hall & Oates’ “Private Eyes” which, if they ever release, I will be the first in line to purchase.

2.0, released by Warner Bros., features their standout hit from 2014, “Dangerous (feat. Joywave),” which Wilkis co-wrote with Joywave frontman Daniel Armbruster. Dangerous hit number one on Billboard’s Alternative Songs chart in August 2014 and was featured in an appearance on Late Night with Seth Meyers, accompanied by Joywave.  As Wilkis mentioned above, just about all of the tracks feature guest artists, including Twin Shadow and Jamie Lidell. The music can be described as electro-rock with a rhythm section given as much, if not more, emphasis as the synth/computer loops. Two other previously released EPs from Big Data are 2013’s 1.0 on Alan Wilkis’ own Wilcassettes label and 2014’s 1.6, on Warner Bros., which features remixes of “Dangerous”.

 

The second act featured Minneapolis’ ON AND ON. Their moody-pop synth and guitar rock sound kept you fixated while offering a bit of a change between the first and second acts. Their 2013 debut, Give In, on Roll Call Records, continues to get the attention it deserves, and the crowd’s reaction is all the proof you need. Visit their website to learn more, and check out their single “Ghosts”:

 

Brooklyn’s CHAPPO kicked off the night and helped thaw the crowd with a jumpy and interactive pop, psych-rock sound. Lead singer Alex explained to me his take on the genre-labeling of the band after the show.

“I feel like we get a lot of, ‘It’s hard to pin you guys down, you have a distinct sound, your own thing.’ I’m sure that’s with every band and every genre in some form or another but we sort of lean towards psychedelic rock. I don’t know, it’s got a little ’60s surf-rock meets a little ’70s psych and we throw in a little straight-up rock and a little electronic pop.” I was pleased to hear that, if only for vindicating the first thing that popped into my mind when I heard his unique voice for the first time. Immediately I thought of David Diamond, lead singer of the ’70s rock band The Kings, probably best remembered for their huge hit, “This Beat Goes On/Switchin’ To Glide” from 1980. If you’re still unfamiliar then you know your extracurricular assignment for the day. Unlike The Kings, who were a one-hit wonder, CHAPPO is a band you are bound to continue hearing about.

Their second album, Future Former Self, is to be released on May 9th on Votive Music. Their debut, Moonwater, was released in 2012 on Majordomo Records. Alex also mentioned the handful of EPs floating around on Bandcamp, Soundcloud and Spotify.

Here’s a catchy number from their Moonwater LP, “Come Home” that has passed 300,000 hits on YouTube.

So, if six strings are good …. 0

Posted: March 26th, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: Blog | Tags: , ,

One of the reasons why I subscribed to Guitar World this year was because I wanted to see who the up and coming guitarists are. The latest issue of Guitar World features two new guitarists and a familiar one. The man above is Tosin Abasi who is a monster on guitar! Granted I am a little hesitant when it comes to more than just six strings on a guitar. To me, its just another gimmick. The first time I saw a seven string it was on Steve Vai’s GEM Guitars through Ibanez. Did it make a real difference in his playing? Not really. However with eight strings, now you open yourself to more open chord voicings. I really wish I had the time to invest in playing these instruments. I barely have time for a six string never mind eight. What about the chapman stick? Forget it! Anyway, Tosin’s band is called Animals as Leaders, very prog rock. Don’t let this deter you if you have an aversion to such music, it has a broad definition. It can be entertaining without being wanky. That being said, take some time to expand your mind and enjoy!

Cave’s “Tiny God” to debut on WMFO 0

Posted: March 22nd, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: Blog

Tomorrow, Monday, March 23, Tufts’ own “tall, grunged-out trio” Cave will be broadcasting their new EP, “Tiny God,” on WMFO’s Funkin’ Gonuts.

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Two thirds of the group, which delivered two hugely well-received performances at Applejam shows this academic year, will be sitting down with WMFO’s Jane Acker to answer the questions that have been on everyone’s mind since the band burst out last fall. Funkin’ Gonuts will be the only place to hear “Tiny God” ahead of its official release, so be sure to tune in at 11 AM sharp so you don’t miss a beat. As always, you’ll find the broadcast at 91.5 on your FM dial in the Medford/Somerville area, or worldwide at wmfo.org.

 

All right now! 0

Posted: March 22nd, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: Blog | Tags: , , ,

andyfraser
Well actually it isn’t, the man pictured above is none other than Andy Fraser. Andy was one of the founding members of the band Free. I loved Free, this is the first band I remember Paul Rogers playing in. The band was phenomenal yet very short lived. The death of Paul Kossoff would ultimately be the literal death knell of the band. I have yet to play “All Right Now”. I guess largely because you can hear this on any commercial radio station. That also happens to be the song Andy co-wrote. He never gained any notariety after his days with Free were done but his legacy with Free will live on literally forever. They were good, solid, rock n roll. Man, I really miss those days alot. Anyway, below is his last interview was from this years after party at the Grammys.

Upcoming Ticket Giveaways 0

Posted: March 12th, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: Blog

 

WMFO is pleased to announce that it is giving away free tickets to TWO great shows later this month!

The first is Perfume Genius, whose album “Too Bright” came out last year to huge critical acclaim.

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Perfume Genius. Photo by Side Stage Collective via Flickr Creative Commons.

He’ll be playing at on March 20th at The Sinclair, at 52 Church Street in Harvard Square. If you’re interested, shoot an email to tickets@wmfo.org to claim those tickets – the first emailer get them both!

The day right after, March 21st, Phoenix band Andrew Jackson Jihad will be coming to the Royale at 279 Tremont St. in Boston. They’re touring in support of last year’s album “Christmas Island,” which likewise got some real positive attention upon its release.

Andrew Jackson Jihad. Photo by Nicole Kibert via Flickr Creative Commons.

Andrew Jackson Jihad. Photo by Nicole Kibert via Flickr Creative Commons.

As with the Perfume Genius show, tickets to see Andrew Jackson Jihad will be given away to the first person who emails tickets@wmfo.org and asks for them.

Stay tuned for more giveaways from WMFO, Tufts’ 100% freeform student and community radio station!

 

Collectors series #1 0

Posted: March 7th, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: Blog | Tags: , ,

somegirls
I’m going to introduce the Collectors series starting now. I will be reviewing albums that I feel should be in everyone’s album collection. Yes, its strictly arbitrary but I think you’ll find most of what appears here is worth the time to check it out. Disclaimer: The artists profiled in the collector series will not be new artists. Its not that I don’t want to review newer artist but I feel someone other than myself is probably better off reviewing the newer stuff. So without further ado, lets move forward.

The Rolling Stones need no introduction. Their career spans over 6 decades! Some Girls, released in 1978 caps what I consider their most successful decade of music. In fact only Tattoo You would be the last listenable album released by the Stones and that was in 1981. What makes this a great album? That’s easy, 8 out of the 10 tracks could have been radio ‘hits’. Track 5 and 8 are the weak songs here. What also makes this a strong album is that not every song sounds the same. Everything from rockers like “When the whip comes down”, “Shattered” and “Respectable, to mid tempo songs “Miss you”, “Beast of Burden” to the slower songs “Just my imagination” and “Far Away Eyes”. “Far away eyes” is a tip of the hat to country music. The country connection being that Keith Richard’s father was a country musician. This is a must have album for your collection.

1. “Miss You” 4:48
2. “When the Whip Comes Down” 4:20
3. “Just My Imagination (Running Away with Me)” (Norman Whitfield/Barrett Strong) 4:38
4. “Some Girls” 4:36
5. “Lies” 3:11
6. “Far Away Eyes” 4:24
7. “Respectable” 3:06
8. “Before They Make Me Run” 3:25
9. “Beast of Burden” 4:25
10. “Shattered”

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Buy the record and support WMFO.