February’s arrived, and that means things are thawing out here in good old Massachusetts. In an effort to equally thaw out my music collection from having approximately one playlist on repeat all winter, I’ve been on the hunt for new bands and new albums to keep track of.
An old favorite of mine to find bands has been NPR’s First Listen series, which has historically hosted a lot of amazing albums before they were available for public release – including Grouplove’s Spreading Rumours, among others. Spotify and Pandora also have their place in my heart, shiny bite-sized sampler tables that they really are.
But I’m not here to talk about those. I’m here to talk about my latest online music-aggregating obsession: NoiseTrade.
It was on a sunny afternoon at the Doe Bay Festival on Orcas Island, Washington when I discovered Animal Eyes. They were sandwiched between multiple good acts, and often bands that played in that time slot were forgotten in the mix of so much good talent. But Animals Eyes stuck out to me. I watched and listened with my friends, after each song grinning from ear to ear. These guys were really good. After one song that sounded particularly great, bassist and vocalist Colin McArthur announced, “That was a new one we haven’t released yet called Mushroom Hunter.”
“Mushroom Hunter,” I repeated to myself. I had to own it the second it became available. (more…)
A few weekends ago, Father John Misty performed right near the Tufts campus at the Somerville Theater. After a long solo career as J. Tillman, during which he released seven albums, he “relaunched” under this new persona to release 2012’s fantastic Fear Fun. Perhaps what was most exciting about the night was seeing him so comfortable with the Father John Misty character, and having a clear direction of where he’s going from here.
To start the night, Tillman featured comedienne Kate Berlant. Berlant is a New York City-based performer whose satirical, offbeat style took the audience by surprise. She opens her act by coming on stage with an acoustic guitar. “Oh, a musical comedienne”, most of us thought. Instead, we got a hilarious caricature of self-indulged performers. Her act consists of her intending on “playing a couple of songs” for the crowd, but constantly getting distracted and going off on pretentious tangents about this world we live in and the media and missing someone who you’ve never even met.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned at Tufts, between re-watching Charlie Brown holiday specials, trick-or-treating at Gifford House, and reverting to complete romantic ineptitude, it’s that college kids love reliving childhood experiences. There’s something about acting like a little kid again that makes the foreign environment of a faraway place seem a little more like home. Perhaps WMFO’s “Bouncy Castles” was born out of this mindset.
But in the period between this past Saturday and the most recent time I had been on a bouncy castle, a lot had changed. For instance, if I wait a few weeks, I can get some nylon-string-colored hair to sheepishly crawl from my face. Additionally, I’m not quite the limber young dynamo I once was, running off a seemingly inexhaustible energy source powered by Capri-Suns and Lunchables, immune to any possible injury. In fact, I’m relatively laconic, sheepish in both physical and mental respects.
Nonetheless, I made the trek to the Academic Quad for “Bouncy Castles” and was greeted by roughly what I was told to expect. A bouncy castle, a bouncy obstacle course race thing, some music, and three tables arranged in a triangle with maybe twelve boxes of plain pizza. Like anyone would be, I was eager to get my bounce on and (after taking off my shoes, of course) I hopped right into the castle and bounced for the ten minutes I could bounce before getting kind of tired and also a little bit hungry. I got a slice of ‘za, ignoring the fact that the further bouncing I intended to do would likely not aid my digestion.
WMFO’s Joyce The Voice hosted a big name in the classical scene on her show, The Voicemobile - Martin Pearlman, three-time Grammy nominee and the director of Boston Baroque. He has been conducting since the orchestra’s debut in 1973 as the first baroque orchestra in the US, and they are celebrating their 40th anniversary this season. With the original idea of being an orchestra exclusively made up of period instruments, it has seen massive success and many of its founding members have gone on to direct other ensembles.
Seeing Portland artists Typhoon and Radiation City a few weeks ago was a great experience, so I figured I would keep the theme going by seeing two more bands from area. On Friday, I was lucky to see Portland-based Menomena and The Helio Sequence perform at The Sinclair in Cambridge. It was an excellent night of energetic, experimental indie rock that left me hoping to see them again live soon.
As a co-headlining tour, Menomena and The Helio Sequence have been switching off set spots. In Friday’s case, Menomena went first, opening their set with a quiet introduction with “Ghostship”. Its plodding baseline and drummer Danny Seim’s haunting background whistling (a nice touch from the recorded version) made it a good way to kick off the night. Transitioning directly into another song, or “West” perhaps (which follows on the album), would have been even better.
The genre of blues rock is too often filled with rote twelve bar jams or swaggering cock rock. Savoy Brown’s Raw Sienna is not your typical blues rock album – and, because of this, stands out like an enthusiastic thumbs up. Raw Sienna is filled to the brim with slinky piano riffs, jazzy guitar solos, punchy brass hooks, and even Classical-inspired string breaks (“Master Hare”). What distinguishes Savoy Brown on this album, however, is the chocolate voice of singer Chris Youlden, whether he is moaning in desperation on the opener “A Hard Way To Go,” or seducing his would-be lover on “Stay While The Night Is Young.”
Seattle hip-hop duo THEESatisfaction has been slowly rising in popularity over the last few years. The duo made guest appearances on fellow label mates Shabazz Palaces’ album Black Up and have been contributing steadily to a new era of Northwest hip-hop. Recognizable by their spacey off-balance beats and quick, stream-of-consciousness rapping, THEESatisfaction has an incredibly unique sound.
October 5, 2013: Royale, Boston | A photo-essay
Click on the pics for better quality!
My Sunday was highlighted by the visit of the bands Typhoon and Radiation City to Brighton Music Hall. Being two Portland-area bands that I’ve been following for some time, it was a show I made sure to catch. And the night certainly didn’t disappoint!
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