Sunday, March 31, 2013

Happy Easter. Here's some Bad Rabbits

Regardless of your religious leanings, Easter is synonymous with rabbits, and in 2013 Boston music is synonymous with Bad Rabbits. The post-R&B band is gearing up for a pretty big spring, with an appearance at FEST 2013 in Atlanta on April 15 with Kendrick Lamar and Steve Aoki; the release of their HUGELY anticipated new record American Love on May 14; then a gig to rep their home city as the kickoff act at Boston Calling on City Hall Plaza on May 25.

So while we get all jacked up for that, let's revisit the first two singles from their new LP, "Fall In Love," and "We Can Roll." These rAbbits are many things, but silly isn't one of them.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Vanyaland to partner with MediaBoss Television

Very excited to announce that I have agreed to partner Vanyaland with MediaBoss Television. We'll be working on a series of ideas and productions, led initially by a music video program styled in the flavor of late-'80s and early'90s MTV. It'll include on site interviews, reviews, screenings, and a relationship between MediaBoss and Vanyland content.
And speaking of the blog, stay tuned -- HUGE changes are in store in the coming weeks.

xo Michael

From the MediaBoss Facebook page:

MediaBoss Television is proud to announce our exclusive video production partnership with Vanyaland and Michael Marotta. Stay tuned for music videos, reviews, interviews and more starting in April.

[tonight in cambridge] Guillermo Sexo record release party @ T.T. The Bear's Place

Of course, because Boston's music scene kinda rules in 2013, we're not the only game in town. Across the river indie guys and gal GUILLERMO SEXO drop new EP Bring Down Your Arms on the ol' vinyl spin-span, heading a pretty serious lineup of reckless rock and roll at T.T. The Bear's Place in Cambridge with Young Adults, Bent Shapes and CreaturoS. That's one white hot ticket.

The Sexos teased us with the songs off Arms back in January, and I instantly became smitten with the livewire "Echo Out My Call." Vocalist Noell Dorsey takes on some sort of immortal goddess feel here, and the call-to-arms assertiveness makes it one of the best tracks out of Boston so far this year.

Above photo by P Nick Curran

[tonight in allston] Suede Nite @ the pill

Good Friday rolls around every year, but a great Friday in which Suede's debut LP celebrates its 20th anniversary is a very unique experience. So as the stars align in this Boston nuclear sky, the pill raises a glass to the legendary UK rock band tonight at Great Scott. DJ Ken and I supply the dance party, and we'll feature two live tribute sets to Brett Anderson and the boys. Things are happening. Here's the promo gospel from the pill boston dot com, and apologies for the blatant lyrical references.

friday, march 29

suede nite 

paying tribute to the 20th anniversary of suede’s debut record with live sets from the london pravda and the suedeheads

What does it take to turn you on? Twenty years ago, as it does today, it was Suede’s brash blitzkrieg of a debut album that took us over. Released on March 29, 1993 and having kickstarted the UK’s Cool Britannia revolution that raised two fingers up to the frowny face of grunge, it was Suede’s hyper-sexualized modern glam rock record that shaked to the trumpet in spawning singles like “Metal Mickey,” "The Drowners,” and “Animal Nitrate.”

As fate would have it, two decades later Suede are again igniting a dormant British rock scene, as their brilliant sixth studio album Bloodsports just last week crashed the Top 10 of the UK pop charts. This Friday, the pill salutes one of its favorite bands with two ultra-unique live tribute sets: one from the London Pravda, who walk in beauty like the night and reprise their glammed-out early-‘90s Suede spin initially launched at our 2006 Halloween show; and an electronic-pop turn from the Suedeheads (featuring Sean Drinkwater of Freezepop/Lifestyle) which was conceived in the late-‘90s and has not performed live since.

To celebrate all this love and poison, the London Pravda this week released a cover of Suede’s lost 1996 b-side ballad “Another No One,” and a few weeks ago the Suedeheads posted a startling psycho-for-drum-machine synth-pop romp of the immortal “Stay Together.”

Further augmenting the night as high as the council estates that shine like the morning, resident DJs Ken and Michael V will add extra flash dashes of hit-bit-shaking Britpop classics to our dance party sets, and we’ll screen the Suede music video DVD, Lost in TV, propping up the bar (it looks so easy) with appropriate visuals.

Also be sure to check out Michael V’s exclusive interview with Suede’s Brett Anderson in one of the very last issues of the Boston Phoenix (RIP), where the legendary frontman discusses getting his demon back, the art of the comeback after an 11-year absence, and how Bloodsports truly is the record that should have followed Coming Up in the late-‘90s.

So join this Friday at Great Scott in Allston for Suede Nite at the pill, like big stars in the back seat, like skeletons ever so pretty. Look sharp – because we’re young, because we’re gone. xoxo the pill

Thursday, March 28, 2013

In My Head: Stephie Coplan "Fuck You, Hollywood"

STEPHIE COPLAN is on a rampage.

After demanding "No Assholes on Christmas" and then declaring "I Hate February 14 (Shoot Me)" the Cambridge-to-New York songwriter has got a bit more vitriol to thrown down, and this time she's set her sights out west: "Fuck You, Hollywood" is the tenth effort in her grand plan to release a new song every week, and this one's got a nice little new wave beat to it. It sounds like it could be in a blockbuster rom-com, but we all know better than that by now.

It's a shame WFNX isn't still around, I woulda loved intro'ing this bad boy.

Download the song for the nice-price of fah-free, and peep my Phoenix feature on Copes that ran last year. While she just played a sold-out gig at Brighton Music Hall with Jukebox the Ghost and Pretty & Nice, she and her Pedestrians are back in town May 4 with a show at her old stomping grounds, the Lizard Lounge in Cambridge.

Video rules, too...

[interview] Yes, we love it: Talking dance music dominance with Icona Pop @ SXSW

A lof of bands went down to SXSW earlier this month looking to generate attention. Others, like Swedish pop duo ICONA POP, hit Austin with the buzz wind already at their backs. Their powderkeg electro-pop banger "I Love It" went from being a catchy-cute Summer Anthem of 2012 to an ubiquitous rallying cry for any season, showing up everywhere from indie dance floors to mainstream FM radio to HBO's Girls. It also helped introduce co-writer Charli XCX, she of the 2013-contender "You (Ha Ha Ha)" to a wider, global audience some had been expecting for years.

Now, after owning the iTunes singles chart, approaching the million mark on the Streaming Songs Chart, and crashing the the Top 20 of the Billboard Hot 100, Caroline Hjelt and Aino Jawo are getting ready for their biggest gig yet: an appearance tomorrow (Friday) on NBC's Today Show.

I sat down with the duo a few weeks ago, just as SXSW's music stretch was kicking into high gear, grabbing a few seats at the Moonshine patio and discussing the global appeal of "I Love It," their origins, and continuing a long line of Swedish pop music dominance.

[easter tradition] Spinning 'I Am The Resurrection' by the Stone Roses @ the pill

When a dance party exists for more than 15 years, like the pill in Boston has every Friday since 1997, weird little traditions emerge. One of my favorites arrives on Good Friday, Easter weekend, when DJ Ken and I, and before me at the Upstairs Lounge, DJ Jen, close the night with The Stone Roses' "I Am The Resurrection." We'll likely dust it off tomorrow night at Great Scott for our Suede Nite party.

Shout out to our boy JC.

Shit gets me every time.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

[vanyaland presents] RIBS + Color Channel @ Great Scott, 04.20.13

A bit of an advance warning on this, but we're excited to post it: the Vanyaland Presents live music series launches on Saturday, April 20 with RIBS and Color Channel. It's a co-presents gig with the good folks at Bowery Boston, and not only is it RIBS's Chris Oquist's birthday (oh shit jello shots lulz!) but it's also the Boston rock band's tour homecoming after their string of dates with the Joy Formidable. Get into it.


[tonight in allston] Boom Said Thunder record release @ Great Scott

Another day, another awesome record release show at Great Scott. Last night it was Personal Finance, tomorrow night it's Slowdim. But tonight, oh tonight, shit gets very real, as BOOM SAID THUNDER, the cover darlings of my Boston Phoenix Class of 2013 spotlight on the best new bands in town, release their long-awaited debut LP, Exist.

This is music to fuck to.

Here's what I wrote about the fiery bolt-slinging power trio a few weeks ago, as it gets the point across:

"Three members, three words in the band name, and three distinct qualities come together to form the monolithic beast that is Boom Said Thunder. The ground shook with last winter's Boom! EP, and now the earth is set to implode with the March release of Exist. On explosive first single "The Saint," John Magnifico's bass guitar serves as a livewire intro before you're seduced by Will Thomas's ground-pound drumming and Abby Bickel's vocals. Then things fly off the fucking rails. When the diminutive Bickel belts out her lyrics, she's taller than Kevin Garnett in heels, towering over her band's powder-keg rock-and-roll attack. Exist leaves little room to come up for air, but here's an instance where aural suffocation is a good thing."

Tonight's party is augmented by a future-sounds bill with Avoxblue, Nightmare Air, and the Lost Rivers.

Video: Kid Mountain take to the Great Scott patio

Just when you thought last night's Treat Yo Self party presented by Eye Design show was over, headliner KID MOUNTAIN took to the Great Scott patio around 1am and offered up one additional take away song. Boston's music scene has a lot of cool things going for it, but rad acts of spontaneity aren't exactly atop the list.

Here's a sneak-peek at the stripped down performance, which actually happened without the entire Boston police force descending on the corner of Harvard and Comm, or a million neighbors complaining about noise, or someone getting shot or stabbed.

It happened, it was cool, it ended, we all went home. Life went on. Crazy.

Stay tuned for the full video coming soon from our friends in Eye Design.

Dee Tension looking to open live music venue in Lowell

The one and only Dee Tension, a Massachusetts hip-hop renaissance man and former colleague of mine at WFNX, had some pretty cool news this morning regarding a new live music venue in his own city of Lowell. He tipped me off to this weeks ago, but threatened to beat me with a golf club had I spilled the beans (half true, kinda). Now that things are in motion, he's spreading the word on his own.

Lowell has been a growing hotbed of creative music for a while now, with bands like Bearstronaut and Western Education coming out of U-Mass, and and a growing list of others around town like Dumptruck, Hetfield & Hetfield, Shortfuse Burning, and Empty Phrases.

Now the city is about to get a legit rock club run by a legit dude, a dude who has been involved with the Uptown Lowell Music and Arts fest and is pretty much the mayor of the joint. Here's his full announcement:

OK I suppose the cat is out of the bag so I might as well say it myself.

I am in the process of opening a live music venue in Lowell. We have the bands and the fans in and around Lowell and there are great bands in Boston and all over the country who want to play here but don't have a downtown venue dedicated to live original music. I am hoping to make my bar a destination for live music 3 to 5 nights per week.

But I am not official yet. I have a location and an agreement to purchase it. But I need to acquire a liquor license first and that is no guarantee.

So when the time is right I will make a big announcement. I just don't want to jinx it or speak out of turn!

Details and questions answered soon!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

[tonight in allston] Eye Design presents Personal Finance record release @ Great Scott

Pretty cool show going down tonight at Great Scott via the crew at Eye Design, who I believe last time did up the Allston rock club was for the Color Channel record release party. Tonight's edition of Treat Yo' Self is a four star rock banger, led by the dream-pop post-punk glory of ORCA ORCA, who had a pretty good show last month with Beach Fossils, as well as the chill vibes of Kid Mountain, and the noisy-pop of BEDROOM EYES, who the Phoenix named Best New Band in New Hampshire last summer. They have since validated our claim by moving to Allston.

But I'm mostly jazzed up to catch the record release party from the wacked-out PERSONAL FINANCE, a trippy experimental band who drop I.O.U. Mania tonight.

"We recorded the EP entirely at home in my bedroom instead of in a studio like all the other sutff we've done," Personal Finance head dude Patrick Orr (no relation to Bobby) tells Vanyaland. "Our mission was to combine German psychedelic music (or krautrock) with country music. "Christmastime in Peru" [is] an improvised jam that nobody in the band even knew was being taped... then I went back and overdubbed some harmonies and synthesizer and whatnot. But all the lyrics on that one are straight off the dome. We're going to be recording a new full length album this summer."

Word is they made anywhere from 8 to 11 cassette versions of the release. Good thing the internet exists.

A while back I wrote up Personal Finance's crunchy jam "Fact Addict" for le PHX, and here's what became of it:

There’s a lost passage in Bret Easton Ellis’s American Psycho where Patrick Bateman, dining at a highly coveted table at Dorsia, reflects on his wasted time spent in an artsy post-punk band while still attending Phillips Exeter Academy in the late ’70s. Actually, okay, that doesn’t really exist, and Ellis never made Bateman musically savvy beyond an obsession with Huey Lewis. But had the famed fictional serial killer started up a band before attending Harvard, it could have been called PERSONAL FINANCE and sounded much like the two-year-old Jamaica Plain quintet. “Fact Addict,” off last year’s Chump Change EP, is a crunchy modern-rock romper right out of 1982; vocalist and Personal Finance CEO Patrick Orr growls about blueprints, measurements, and US presidents. All that’s missing are mergers and acquisitions. This is not an exit.

In My Head: People At Parties "Mazes"

While I was setting up the Vanyaland soundcloud last night, I stumbled upon a new track posted only three days ago from one of my favorite artists, New York/San Francisco dark dance trio PEOPLE AT PARTIES. They've been rather quiet lately, and the last post to their FB was back in October -- but this new song "Mazes," was just posted a few days ago. It also appears on their homepage, along with little else.

"Mazes," true to form another passionate 3am electronic slow-burner from P@P, and again is led by the haunting vocals of LK Naps, whose damaged Siouxsie fetish I've long appreciated. It's been a few years since the trio blew me away with their demo EP -- tracks like "Happy Birthday" and "Control" are among my all-time faves, and listed the former in my Best of 2011 -- and last I heard from them was a track called "Tides" posted around 7 months ago, also to their Soundcloud.

So what's up? Is a return in order? Or are they just releasing some leftover stuff from when they were more active, around 2011 or so? I'm pretty sure I heard this track and "Tides" in their sets a while back. I can only hope this is a tease, a re-boot of some older material, and more new stuff is on the way...

In the meantime, there's also a video for "Mazes." Very NYC.

Plan of Attack: Pretty & Nice unveil Golden Rules For Golden People + SXSW interview

Today is Holden Lewis' birthday [editor's note: Oh shit!] so there's no better time to map out PRETTY & NICE's upcoming plans for new record Golden Rules For Golden People. It's the fast-action follow-up to last year's tireless Us You All We EP, and while that four-song effort was self-released, GR4GP gets the dual label treatment from Albany's Equal Vision Records and Rory Records, which was founded by Max Bremis of Say Anything.

While the new Pretty & Nice joint is not officially out until April 30, you can hear the whole thing next Friday, April 5, at Store 54 in Allston. That's where the band made sweet sonic love to everyone several months ago by releasing Us You All We and feeding everyone free Boloco burritos. It's good to be back.

With all that info in mind, here's Pretty & Nice's Plan of Attack:

* Friday, April 5: Golden Rules For Golden People listening party at Store 54 in Allston.

* Saturday, April 20: Record Store Day 7-inch release for "Q_Q," limited to 500 copies of black vinyl off Equal Vision. There will also be a music video for this jam. "It will be artfully shot," says the band.

* Tuesday, April 30: Release of Golden Rules For Golden People.

* Wednesday, May 1: Record release party at Great Scott in Allston with Kal Marks and Pattern Is Movement. More to come on this as the date approaches.

Aside from previously-released "Yonkers," the a-side to the Fantastic Artifact 7-inch, the rest of the 11-track album is all new material (though many of the songs have been in the band's recent live sets).

A few weeks ago down in SXSW, I jumped in the Pretty & Nice tour van and did a quick afternoon-drunk interview with the band, after they were done playing at the Basement on 6th and Congress. I had a few drinks already in me, and they had not only just finished another SXSW set, but completed shooting a music video for "Q_Q" at 13 different locations around Austin. So it's one big shitshow. Pardon my language.

Monday, March 25, 2013

[Exclusive Q&A] Scott Lucas assaulted and robbed in Russia; lost voice forces Local H to cancel tonight's show @ Brighton Music Hall

By Michael Christopher

Since breaking onto the scene in the mid-'90s, and bolstered by the hit “Bound for the Floor,” Chicago post-grunge two-piece LOCAL H have been relentless in touring and bringing the rock. Their most recent release, Hallelujah! I’m a Bum, dropped late last year to excellent reviews. Raised by crunching guitar work and the brutal howl of singer Scott Lucas, it’s the type of stuff tailor-made for the road, like tonight’s scheduled gig at Brighton Music Hall.

Except that show ain’t happening.

Name-checking Morrissey and Animal Collective, who have also had to cancel or reschedule dates recently, the band put out a lengthy statement online last week which included a disturbing tale that followed a date in Moscow late last month where Lucas was assaulted and robbed.

“The attacker came up from behind and put me in a chokehold until I passed out,” it read. “When I came to, I was in a stairwell with all of my pockets empty. No phone, no wallet, no cash, and (worst of all) no passport. Nothing. Even my hat and glasses were gone. It wasn't until I found someone to ask for help that I realized something else was gone -- my voice. When I opened my mouth to ask that person to call me a taxi, nothing but a scratchy croak would come out. I touched my throat and could feel that more damage had been done than I initially thought.”

Upon returning to the States, and realizing that rest wasn’t healing like Lucas expected it to, he hit up a voice doctor after a SXSW show by his mellower collective, Scott Lucas and the Married Men. Damage to one of his vocal cords required that it be popped back into place, which just sounds gross. A handful of dates were shelved at first, and then everything up until March 30 was nixed.

I’ve known Lucas for quite a while now, and one thing I’m positive of is the guy does not like to miss shows. He’s played sick, injured through shit weather, so this situation had to be ridiculously serious to warrant these cancellations. Dude just had a vocal cord popped back in, so calling him up wasn’t going to work; we ended up going back and forth through e-mail this weekend and I got the skinny on the extent of the injury, the nightmare of getting home from another country with no money or passport and if there will be a rematch with Mother Russia.

MC: Where is your head at right now - just bummed out, hopeful, pissed off?

Lucas: I feel helpless. And I don't like it. I've lost my voice before -- but I've always been able to work through it. This is something different. And bummed, too, I guess. I don't fucking cancel shows, and to have to do that just sucks. I can do this -- it's just gonna be a bit harder than usual.

MC: Do you think you were targeted, or was this just a random mugging?

Lucas: Targeted? No. But that guy definitely saw me coming.

MC: How were officials over there -- did they seem overly concerned or was it a sense of, "Oh well, just another tourist who wasn't paying attention."

Lucas: There was a bit of that. And I couldn't really get mad about it -- because, in a way, they were right. It was kinda funny, actually. This one guy at the embassy just shook his head and said, "My friend. This is not Florida. This is not Texas. This is MOSCOW! You have to be careful." I was like, "Great advice -- now that I don't have anything left to steal. Can I get a new passport now?"

MC: I know you had a hassle and a half getting back -- what hoops did you have to jump through with no passport to get back?

Lucas: Had to go to the embassy first to get a new passport. Since I didn't have a visa, they suggested I go to the police station and fill out a police report. We went to the station -- which was just a shack, really -- and the door guy was packing an Uzi. Kinda freaked me out. They weren't too keen about filling out a police report -- they were like, “It's gonna be more trouble than it's worth and you're not gonna get your shit back anyway.” I didn't care. I just wanted to get on the plane. So, finally they agreed to make out a police report that said I wasn't mugged and that I just LOST my passport. Their words were, "It wouldn't be good for Russia and it wouldn't be good for you."

Cryptic, yeah. But again -- I didn't care as long as it got me on the plane. So, cut to the next day and a flight attendant is holding the flight for me and running me through the airport to get to the gate -- it was real Argo shit. We get stopped at passport control -- who, as far as I'm concerned, other than the mugger, are the only real cocksuckers in this story -- and they stop us because I don't have a visa. The promoter of the show tries to explain to them what happened and we show them the police report. But they didn't care and put me in a room for a couple of hours. At this point, my flight was long gone. Fucking heartbreaking. So, finally they give me back my passport and tell me everything's fine and that I could've gone all along. They knew everything was in order but they wouldn't take any responsibility. It was too late anyway and I was left with a useless ticket. So we went to the head of Polish airlines -- who was awesome. He spoke every language fluently and was super smooth. He was like a Christoph Waltz character. He took pity on me and got me another flight for the next day. It had a 12 hour layover in Warsaw -- but I wasn't going to complain. Yeah -- it was definitely a pain in the ass.

MC: What exactly is involved in "popping" a vocal cord back into place?

Lucas: I'm not sure I wanna find out. One of the doctors I saw was concerned that one of my vocal cords might have been out of joint. But we're not so sure that's the case, anymore. It looks like we can avoid surgery.

MC: Your singing style with Local H is well documented -- lots of high register screaming -- is there a real fear that you won't be able to do that anymore?

Lucas: There is. We'll see. I may be entering the Tom Waits phase of my singing career. I could do worse.

MC: What exactly is the latest medically -- have you gotten the second opinion?

Lucas: They've got me on steroids now and we're working on bringing the swelling down; just trying to accelerate the healing.

MC: Absolute worst case scenario, do you have to indefinitely shelve Local H and focus on the less vocally taxing Married Men project?

Lucas: That's a worst case scenario? Come on. The Married Men aren't THAT bad! But yeah, that's when I first realized how much trouble I was in -- when I went to SXSW with the Married Men a couple of weeks ago. I knew my voice was weak -- so I put together a set for the Married Men with songs that feature vocals in a lower register. Something that I knew I could get through. And that worked out fine. But when I tried the same thing with an acoustic set of Local H songs at the festival -- I realized I was fucked. I just couldn't do it. And this was just an acoustic set. Having that range -- that whisper to a scream thing -- that's what I love about both bands, really -- the ability to do both. But where I could get away with a limited range in a Married Men set -- there's really no way I could do that with Local H. It's just too physical. What could I do? Sing everything an octave lower? I wouldn't sit through that. Why should I expect that of anyone else?

MC: You mentioned Morrissey in the statement, given his recent ailments and cancellations, do you think he should just come to grips with the fact that this whole vegetarian things isn't working and he needs to eat better?

Lucas: What are you talking about? Meat is murder. Haven't you been paying attention? We'll all be eating soylent green soon enough -- so you might as well enjoy your delicious vegetables while you still can.

MC: I know this a bit like asking Mrs. Lincoln how the rest of the play was, but how was Russia other than this bullshit?

Lucas: Great. Met some wonderful people. Red Square was amazing. Taught some Russians some knock-knock jokes -- I don't think I've ever laughed so hard.

MC: After the mugging you didn't have to wait in any lines for bread and cheese did you?

Lucas: I didn't have any money. I would've waited in line for anything.

MC: Do you think, as a country, they're still pissed about how they basically lost the Cold War because of Red Dawn and Rocky IV?

Lucas: WE should be pissed. Those movies suck. To have ourselves represented by a shitty Rocky movie?!? I'll take Tarkovsky any day. You know... it's not like Red Dawn is a classic -- but at least John Milius was behind it. And that dude is awesome AND batshit crazy. He wrote Apocalypse Now, directed Conan, AND was the inspiration behind John Goodman's character in The Big Lebowski. Plus -- Red Dawn was the first PG-13 movie, although I suppose that's a dubious honor.

MC: Finally, the question on everyone's mind: Russia v. Scott Lucas...will there be a rematch?

Lucas: Sure. Why not? How many people get to go to Russia -- much less PLAY there? Obviously, I wish this hadn't happened. But it's not Russia's fault that I wasn't watching my back as closely as I should have. It's great to be able to play music for people who don't even speak the same language as you. It makes the world smaller -- and that's always a good thing.

No make up date for tonight's Brighton Music Hall show has been announced. Refunds are available at point of purchase.

In My Head: Cold Cave "People Are Poison" // 06.28.13 @ T.T. The Bear's Place

Back in the '80s, people were just people. Now in 2013, they're straight up poison, and it's a sentiment we can't really argue with. Last week dark-pop project COLD CAVE released a new track, "People Are Poison," and it continues Wes Eisold's brilliant transformation from hardcore screamer (American Nightmare, Give Up The Ghost) to electronic visionary. It was also a good week for Cold Cave fans around Boston, as Bowery Presents announced a the band's return to town, Friday, June 28 at T.T. The Bear's. Seems like forever ago they played the pill.

"People Are Poison" is the black-fisted b-side to the new Oceans With No End release on Salem-based Deathwish recordings, and it's a motherfucker of a goth rock ripper. At first the Jesus And Mary Chain comes to mind, especially with the vocals and the cascade of noise that twists and turns throughout the four-minute track. But there's also a massive Sisters of Mercy vibe as well, an acceptable sonic spinoff of "Lucretia My Reflection."

Want to play a fun game? Sing "Dive, bombers, and Empire down!" right at the 1:43 mark.

Regardless, this track is fucking incredible. Eisold is an evil-pop genius.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Someone put the last Boston Phoenix issue on eBay...

... aaaaaand someone bought it. For $15. Plus $5 shipping.

What is this I don't even. To quote Phoenix editor Carly Carioli, "Maybe we haz biz model after all."

I guess it's cool, but still kinda weird. I suppose there are a bunch of people outside of Boston who would like to either A) Get their paws on the final issue and B) See for themselves the glossy magazine we relaunched as back in September. Hey, people: if you want any copies of the Phoenix, holla at ya boy. Maybe the Goth Issue will jump in value if Peter Murphy keeps getting arrested. Maybe the Britpop Anthem issue will be in demand now that Noel Gallagher and Damon Albarn have made peace. Ok, maybe not.

People always want the last of everything. The only thing that sucks is that we had no idea this was the last issue while we were putting it out. While I stand behind every music section I assigned, compiled, and edited each week, I will admit this was a strange, maybe disjointed week of coverage. For fuck's sake there was a lead feature on KMFDM (though I was proud of my "A drug against bore" headline). A What's F'N Next on Disclosure. A lead album review on Marnie Stern. Cellars by Starlight local column on Schooltree (who was also my final guest on WFNX's Boston Accents).

Of course, we never got a chance to put to print the following week's issue, which was a bit more cohesive and boasted now-online-only features on Fidlar, Thao & The Get Down Stay Down, an interview with Rex of Pantera (the follow-up to our crazy Phil Anselmo Q&A from the second Metal Issue), a Cellars on Slowdim, album reviews by BrownBird and Wavves, and of course, my interview with Brett Anderson of Suede. Woulda been cool to see that one on a magazine page.

Oh well, whatever forever.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

[tonight in Allston] Walter Sickert & the Army of Broken Toys record release @ BHM

Totally intended on giving this more love on the blog yesterday, but time is a cruel mistress that bows down for no suddenly-fairly-useless music writer. However, I did pimp Walter Sickert & the Army of Broken Toys new record Soft Time Traveler in my recent Boston Phoenix spring preview, and tonight the collective is at Brighton Music Hall in Allston to give it a proper birth. So...

WALTER SICKERT & THE ARMY OF BROKEN TOYS :: Late last year, Walter Sickert & the Army of Broken Toys established a goal of $6600 for new record Soft Time Traveler. Five days before Christmas, the goal was reached, and at press time, the self-described steam-crunk collective had raised nearly three times that, with 248 backers. That's nearly enough to fill Brighton Music Hall. But we're not sweating it; support from the Field Effect, Ruby Rose Fox, and the Rationales is enough to make this one monster Boston-soundtracked Saturday-night throwdown. :: March 23 :: Brighton Music Hall, 158 Brighton Ave, Allston :: 9 pm :: $14 :: 617.779.0140 or

RIP My Chemical Romance

Pouring one out on this somber Caturday for MY CHEMICAL ROMANCE, who abruptly called it a career last night. I've always said that if I was born ten years later than I actually was, MCR would have been my Suede, that one band I was super obsessed with as a teenager. Instead, I just got to appreciate them from the sidelines.

I also consider "Helena" to be the finest music video of our time, and I'll fondly remember watching it a million times a day on repeat with my boy Max at his Cleveland Circle apartment several years ago. We were definitely too old, even at the time, to be fanboying out like that. So it goes.

Three cheers for sweet music, and so long and goodnight. You repped Jersey proud.


A few Valentine's Days ago I guided the oh-so-controversial Top 100 Emo Songs in the Boston Phoenix (haha). Here's what I wrote about our Number Fucking 1, "Helena."

1. My Chemical Romance | "Helena" | From the album Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge (2004)

What’s the worst that we can say? No. 1 in our emo countdown isn’t about a jilted lover’s broken-hearted Swiss army romance but two band members’ late grandmother. New Jersey’s much-maligned My Chemical Romance are crowned king of this list via this epic and indispensible 2005 single off Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge, landing in the Top 10 of nearly all our contributors. Its glory rises at the first swipe of smeared guyliner: the incredible music video’s funeral scene and dance choreography was a saturation point for mainstream emo culture. Gerard Way mirrored a generation through aesthetic and attitude, and this prime example of the aughts Hot Topic-ization of rock and roll is mitigated by the fact that MCR were only trying to write their own “Aces High” by Iron Maiden. So long, and goodnight. _Michael Marotta

Friday, March 22, 2013

Advance warning: Thee Open Sex // 03.31.13 @ O'Brien's Pub in Allston

Next week, at some point, I might go deeper into this new record from Indiana's THEE OPEN SEX, which just came out a few months ago on Magnetic South. The twisted Midwestern garage rock droners are in our fair 'hood of Allston on Easter Sunday, March 31, on a pretty killer bill with Major Stars and psych dudes Sand Reckoner, who I profiled in the Phoenix last year.

The seven songs on this self-titled record are nicely sunburned neo-psych rock, and while the opening tracks like "Peanut Butter" and "I Do Not Know What" are cagey buzz-hummers right off the bat, things really get sticky on "Live Dead," a nearly-seven-minute campfire jam that rises up into head trip seance territory. This shit might be enough to get Jesus to rise up again in the evening (I assume he rose in the morning? I have no idea. In any event we'll all be floating.)

This band is gonna do dirty nasty things to OBs next weekend, and I already can't wait. Props to Kevin Fowler of everydayisamixtape for the directions this morning. I love this shit.

the pill 03.22.13: The Floating Heads EP release dance party, tonight @ Great Scott

It's been two weeks since I've been able to spin at the pill, and one week since I lost my job. So it's pretty fucking obvi that I'm looking forward to tonight's dance party, which features added electro-pop stylings from The Floating Heads. Thanks to Chris Ewen for holding it down for me last week, and you can dance to his sets every Saturday night at Heroes at TT The Bear's.

Here's the promo gospel for tonight's party, from the pill boston dot com:


The Floating Heads are ready for their close up. The Boston electro-pop duo of Jessica Sun Lee and Leo White have a bit of a history around town, and with each other. Besides being, well, married, they’ve been known for musical dalliances in our city and beyond, showing up here and there with the likes of Stereo Soul Future, Secret Satellites, and most notably, at least to our modern indie dance party, indie rock glitter-slingers the Sun Lee Sunbeam.

The ‘Beam was a frequent guest of the pill for many years, celebrating a few record releases and even performing as Elastica at our 2008 Halloween party. Now, Jessica has traded her guitars for synths and a bass, and after initially launching the Floating Heads as a bedroom-born solo project, she’s enlisted Mr. White for added textures and increased depth in their glossy electronic banger compositions (hey, it’s better than newlywed house chores) that will be a perfect complement to our dance party structure. Together, Sun Lee and White re-polished the Floating Heads' earliest tracks and present them to the masses this Friday at the pill.

Sizzling fuzz-bombs like “Beautiful Girls,” “Sundown,” and especially “Lifelike Living” were a favorite of Michael V’s Boston Accents radio show on WFNX (RIP), the latter earning Song of the Day honors and added acclaim and fanfare. And speaking of Michael V, he’s back in town this week, returning to the pill booth alongside DJ Ken after a week at SXSW down in Austin.

Friday’s release party with the Floating Heads kicks off a four-week stretch of live guests at the pill, including next week’s Suede Nite with the London Pravda and Suedeheads, the Boston debut of Lovelife (ex-Viva Brother and Mirrors) on April 5, then the atmospheric post-punk of the Milling Gowns on April 12. Spring is nearly here, and the pill is ready to bloom again.

Look sharp xo the pill

Ryan Walsh takes care of the empty red Phoenix boxes

I've been greatly enjoying everyone's salutes, eulogies, and memories of the dearly-departed Boston Phoenix. But Ryan H. Walsh of Hallelujah the Hills wins the top prize by placing these Public Service Announcements all over town. Maybe we should just give him a red box of his own.

Pretty awesome.

Awesome Video Alert: Herra Terra "Reason To Lose It" 03.22.13 @ Ralph's Rock Diner

Like a fucked up iPod commercial from the 2000s, where the music isn't Jet but rules instead, where the people get face-bombed with glitter-liquid and don't dance like idiots, and where they're all colorfully naked instead of drowned out silhouettes shilling product, HERRA TERRA's new music video for "Reason To Lose It" is pure visual stimulation for a futuristic peep show. Sit back, zone out, and pop off. The song, the latest galaxy-pop offering from their Hyperborean EP, nicely rises and drops along with the Torey Champagne-directed clip, taking Herra Terra's roller-coaster synthpop and giving you something to stare at inside your helmet screen as you're rolling face through the cosmos.

(Also, I'm sure everyone's YouTube ads vary based on what location they're viewing this from, but mine keep saying "Find the #1 plumber in America" and that works perfectly. And hilariously.)

Herra Terra crashes the Rock and Roll Rumble next month at T.T. The Bear's Place (a stacked Night 2 on Monday, April 8 alongside Camden, the Deep North, and Endation), but not before releasing Hyperborean officially tonight in their home zone of Wormtown at Ralph's. It's a very Boston-flavored affair with support from Vanya favorites RIBS, Animal Talk, and Coralcola. Then a week from tomorrow they hit up Fete Lounge in Providence with Lovelife (ex-Viva Brother and Mirrors), Ravi Shavi, and the Kolour Kolt.

No Boston date announced just yet (WTF?), but I'd gladly take that Worcester show any day of the week.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Rad new shit: Ghost Box Orchestra "Vader" / 03.23.13 @ P.A.'s Lounge

If you're gonna name your new song "Vader," that shit better be pretty menacing. Boston psych collective Ghost Box Orchestra have always been about the sonic desert-road journeys, and more of a mind fuck than hate fuck, so there's never been anything inherently evil about their music. And yet "Vader," the first track off May's Vanished LP, is just that: a feral groan trudges forward over mechanical doom for more than seven minutes, and terror unfolds slowly until you're just consumed by a swirling, ominous sound. There's a brief moment of air right around the middle, like when an enraged maniac lifts your head momentarily out of the toilet just before he shoves your grill back underwater, if only so you can look into his eyes one last time before you die. It's a bit uneasy, then, that this is slated as Track 1.

GBO hit the road for a string of dates starting tonight at the Sierra Grill in Northampton, then hit Philly tomorrow night, and swing back to our hood with a gig Saturday, March 25 at PA's Lounge in Somerville. Bring a weapon for self-defense.

Tonight in Cambridge: Class of 2013's Deep North and Susan Constant, with Parlour Bells and Arcane Comedy @ the Middle East

A few weeks ago at Great Scott our pals in Eye Design hosted the Color Channel record release party, and since Abadabad and Early Nineties were on the bill, the Boston Phoenix threw its support behind it as a showcase for Class of 2013, my annual wrap up of the best new bands in town. A few weeks later, another show with some additional C13 energy hits the Middle East in Cambridge, as tonight Class of 2013 acts The Deep North and the Susan Constant take to the upstairs on a bill with WFNX BFFs Parlour Bells. It's definitely some shit I'd be yelling about in three hours if I still had a radio show. [Note: The Arcane Comedy is also on the bill, but I have to plead ignorance on that one. But hey, that's why we go out, right, to hear new shit? Word. Also their website looks like the Lizard Lounge's homepage, and that's cool.]

It should be good times at the Mid Easy, and I'll be bouncing back and forth from next door: The Susan Constant are powered by frantic indie-pop energy, the Deep North by lush rock orchestration led by vocalist Rebecca Frank, and Parlour Bells by a crisp noir-pop that's a rather fragrant side of glam rock's 24-hour diner. Well, that and Goddamn Glenn Di Benedetto. I wrote about their ace new EP Thank God For The Night when it was released a few weeks ago. Its moonlight dance still prances in my dome.

In fact, Di Benedetto and P-Belz guitarist Nate Leavitt were in the WFNX studio a few weeks ago for the Super Bowie Weekend pre-game show, along with the Daily Pravda and Gene Dante, and their acoustic performance of the Duke's "China Girl" was something special. I'm told they've worked it into live sets since then, so we'll see if it gets dusted off tonight.

Get into the jams:

Under the covers: Mean Creek's Chris Keene takes on Potty Mouth

Several years ago I was driving around with Carl Lavin somewhere around Boston and he was lamenting how bands rarely cover current songs, instead it's just shit from like a decade ago, nostalgic trips and tweaks on old favorites from when that artist was younger. At the time, we were listening to the Pixies covering "Head On" by Jesus And Mary Chain.

Lavin would be proud of this sudden Joust of Now, as Chris Keene of Mean Creek has stripped down and re-imagined "Dog Song" from Potty Mouth, off the Northampton garage rock band's 2012 EP Sun Damaged. The whole EP is great, as I named it one of the best records of last year, but this was always my favorite track ("Hazardville" a close second). In a Phoenix feature that ran last summer, Liz Pelly asked the band about the song, and if it had any underlying social meanings of oppression. "A lot of people think it's a metaphor for women being oppressed. I don't ever say that's the wrong interpretation," said Abby Weems, "but I did write it from a dog's perspective."

Keene's "Dog Song" will be included on his upcoming solo record, Dove, out in May.

In My Head: Slowdim "Up Stream" / record release party 03.28.13 @ Great Scott

Ever since I moved to Boston back in 2000, I'd grab the Phoenix every Thursday and read it at the kitchen table of my Perkins Street apartment in Somerville, aided by the Taco Bell + KFC hybrid joint on Broadway. First thing I always went to: the Cellars by Starlight local music column.

Thirteen years later, the final Cellars have been published (online, to be technical, from this week's zombie Phoenix), and it belongs to indie-pop quartet SLOWDIM. One of my ace writers, Jonathan Donaldson, caught up with Paul Sentz and the band a few weeks ago: Cellars by Starlight: The unified melody of Slowdim, March 21, 2013.

As they prep for next week's record release party at Great Scott, with Night Fruit and Fedavees in tow, they've issued the bubbly first track off their debut self-titled record, "Up Stream." Sounds like an afternoon make-out session with the springtime vibes in your mind.

[free download] DJ Knife "Strange Brew Vol. 3" release 03.22.13 @ Good Life

DJ KNIFE is out of control. One of the few DJs around town that can spin any party and adapt to any style from downtown hotspots to Allston DIY spaces (he spun the Phoenix launch party back in September), Knife has now birthed another Strange Brew mega-mix indicative of his schitzo tastes. With 40 tracks mixed super-quick in under 42 minutes, the third installment runs the dance floor course from remixes of Passion Pit to Toto, Jane’s Addiction to Neon Indian, Janet Jackson to Haim, Jamie Lidell to Jay-Z.

What else? “Of course there’s gotta be some trap stuff, a smidgen of classic rock, couple retro tracks and a lotta French sounding dance music,” Knife says.

Remember those “set it and forget it” commercials for the Showtime Rotisserie chicken cooker? This is the DJ mix version of that. Grab the entire mix below, then celebrate its release tomorrow night, March 22 at Good Life on Kingston Street downtown when Knife hits the decks with El Poser and Leah V. They'll be upstairs while Pico Picante rages down below.

Strange Brew 3 Track Listing:
1. Intro
2. Jamie Lidell – Figured Me Out
3. Onra ft. Olivier DaySoul – Long Distance
4. Gigamesh – All My Life
5. Poolside - Do You Believe?
6. Toto – Africa (DJ Ayres Edit)
7. Jane's Addiction – Caught Stealin (Whiskey Tango Edit)
8. Geto Boys – Mind Playin Tricks (Steve1der Remix)
9. Moon Boots – Got Somebody
10. Le Crayon – Lush
11. Kill Paris – Shades Of Funk
12. No Doubt - Settle Down (Baauer Remix)
13. Le Youth – Dance With Me
14. Only Children – Down Fever
15. Grupo Guerra 78 – Soul Makossa ( Whiskey Barons Re-Work)
16. Mat The Alien – Tom Deluxx (Moombahton Edit)
17. Oliver – All Night Long
18. Tony! Toni! Tone! – Feels Good
19. Mr. Vegas – Bruk It Down (DJ Class Remix / Diggz Short Refix)
20. DJ Day – Still Jingling (DJ Day Edit)
21. Pretty Poison – Catch Me I’m Falling (Diggz Short Edit)
22. Fleetwood Mac – Dreams (Gigamesh Edit)
23. Haim – Forever (The Knocks remix)
24. Passion Pit – Carried Away (Viceroy Remix)
25. Penguin Prison – Fair Warning (Oliver Remix)
26. Sneaky Sound System – Big
27. DJ Fashen – Ecstasy
28. Neon Indian – Deadbeat Summer (Skeet Skeet Edit)
29. Brass Knuckles – Lie To You
30. Janet Jackson – Someone To Call My Lover (Top Billin Remix)
31. America – Ventura Highway
32. King L – Val Venis
33. KP & Envi – Shorty Swing My Way (Kid Kamillion Remix)
34. Big Chocolate – Blue Milk
35. DJ Samir - Samir’s Theme (OH SNAPP!! Remix)
36. Jay-Z - Hard Knock Life (Exceed Remix)
37. Jay – Z – Who You Wit (Accro Remix)
38. Nas – The Don (Tom Wrecks Remix)
39. DJ Serafin – Music Sounds Better w/ Blunt Passing
40. Usher – Climax (Flosstradamus & Diplo Remix)

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Thursday 03.21.13: Pretty & Nice + Stephie Coplan + Jukebox The Ghost @ Brighton Music Hall

Now deemed “Buzzworthy” by the good folks at MTV, Boston’s PRETTY & NICE have been on the road prepping new record Golden Rules for Golden People, the Rory Records/Equal Vision Records follow-up to last year’s self-released Us You All We. After their gig exactly a week ago at SXSW at the Basement just off Congress Street (where they wrapped shooting a seven-location music video), I trrrrriiiieeeeeedddddd to get the scoop on the new tunes, and, well, did, in a tour van interview down in Austin, but it's lost in the WFNX black hole. It was cool, I pretended to be Pretty & Nice and Pretty & Nice pretend to be me. More shit that will never air. Vanyaland needs a soundcloud. Note to self.

Anyway, the new P&N record is not out until late April, but we’ll get a taste Thursday night when our favorite herky-jerky ampersand band hits Allston's Brighton Music Hall with the Charlotte-Zoller-tour-navigated Jukebox the Ghost and WFNX golden girl Stephie Coplan and the Pedestrians, who, as has been well documented, I am quite fond of.

There is seriously way too much going on Thursday night. WTF. We haven't even gotten to the Middle East show. I've been picking unemployment splinters out of my ass all week, and now there are at least four shows I need/want to be at tomorrow night. Dafuq.

In My Head: Petty Morals "Radio Action" / debut gig 04.06.13 @ Radio

"We do not share the values of the establishment. We are not old men. We are not worried about petty morals." --Keith Richards

Continuing the What If theme from the previous San Cisco post, this track embedded below, "Radio Action" from the newly-minted PETTY MORALS, was scheduled to be the Boston Accents Song of the Day on WFNX this past Monday. Obviously, that never happened. Kinda a bumout, as I've been digging this squealing synth-punk number from the moment it found its way into my inbox. It got spun on Accents maybe two or three times before the shutdown.

The ladies of Petty Morals -- who have performed in a host of past and present Boston rock dynamos as Tijuana Sweetheart, Cult 45, Ghost Box Orchestra, and the Grinds -- first met in rehearsals for a Joan Jett tribute show late last year, and after realizing a shared love for a more rock and roll side of synthy disco (think late '70s/early '80s NYC subculture, as well as stuff like the Cars, Le Tigre, and the Sounds) they hatched this new band. A few months later, the Cotton Candy Demos were born.

Their first gig is April 6 at Radio in Somerville, for Jay Allen's 50th birthday bash alongside Muck & the Mires, Dirty Truckers, and Dogmatics. People are gonna eat this shit up.

Thursday 03.21.13 @ Great Scott: San Cisco

So I guess for the next few weeks these posts will be a series of What Ifs. Shows that never happened, songs that never got played, bands not written about blah blah blah all that regretful shit.

But here's something I'm legit bummed about: Aussie pop act SAN CISCO were supposed to perform a private set at the Museum of Fine Arts tomorrow, part of the years-long WFNX sessions that in the past housed the Vaccines, Dropkick Murphys, Airborne Toxic Event, and so on and so on. We were currently in talks to host future sessions with the Breeders and Black Rebel Motorcycle Club. But those, like San Cisco tomorrow, won't ever happen.

In any event, WFNX had been spinning their breakout hit "Awkward" for a while on the stream. People were feeling it.

They are in town to begin with, of course, because they're at Great Scott in Allston tomorrow night, 03.21.13, so we'll just have to settle for a regular ol' plugged-in show. So it goes.

Despite the song title, there’s nothing “Awkward” about San Cisco’s bubbly brand of love-pop, and like the Naked and Famous and Strange Talk, the band is the latest in a string of acts from Australia and New Zealand blurring the lines between indie and electro. Their 2012 Awkward EP was one of the more overlooked records of the year, but I think their 2013 success will more than make up for it.

Later, WFNX. Here's an hour of Merchandise

On my last day of work at the Boston Phoenix (RIP), I went into the WFNX studio, and started spinning songs I merely wanted to hear: Suede (all seven of them), New Order, Pulp, a bunch of Britpop hits from our Top 100 Britpop Anthems of the '90s feature from August 2011.

Then, around 5pm, as my colleagues and I were headed to An Tua Nua for some memorial cocktails, I set Merchandise's 11-minute epic "Become What You Are" on repeat seven times, filling more than an hour, separated only by our robot DJ, 3001, saying "Whatever, man" in between.

That was my sendoff. To quote Carson Cox in my favorite lyrics of the song (at least how I hear them): "I'm a mother's son. I'm a rolling stone. I don't want anything that I have to own."

Peace out, WFNX. <3

Thursday 03.21.13: The New Highway Hymnal @ T.T. The Bear's Place

I'm still suffering from my annual late-March SXSW hangover (and a few other random ailments), but I'm excited to get back in the sonic groove tomorrow night at T.T. The Bear's Place, as the New Highway Hymnal conclude their March tour with a homecoming gig in Cambridge. Yes, what I need to cure this shaz is some dirty psych-punk.

Also on the bill is Crushed Out (formerly known as Boom Chick, word?) and Thunderbloods, a new-ish bluesy bar rock band from my homie Evan Kenney (Bodega Girls, Read Yellow, the Cool Ranch dance night). Here's the Facebook invite.

Hymnal was the second band signed to Vanya Records, and in October we released their debut LP, Whispers. Vinyl available at the show or via our Big Cartel online store.

Reborn. Chapter 2. March 2013

A week ago tomorrow, while I was in Austin, Texas, for SXSW, I learned that my beloved Boston Phoenix would be no more.

Several years ago, while I was a shitty features reporter at the Boston Herald toiling under an even shittier arts editor, I killed off free time and the desire to write about whatever I wanted via this blog, Vanyaland. Since I was hired by the Phoenix in June 2010 to be the alt-weekly's Music Editor (an honor I still hold very dearly), this place became a graveyard, a flyer dumpster for my two other ventures, the Pill dance night (every Friday at Great Scott, yo) and Vanya Records, a record label I launched out of my Allston bedroom in September 2011. After all, the Phoenix hired me in part because of what I'd write about here. So out of respect for their salary sent my way each fortnight, I took all my shit over to 126 Brookline Ave.

Now, with a few days of #funemployment under my belt, I already need a place to collect my ideas and rants, post new music shit I discover, hype rad shows and events, and just keep my brain working and pushing forward. Rest and relaxation are foreign concepts to me. Like sobriety.

So yeah, Vanyaland, I've kinda missed you. There will likely be less reality TV rants and chick strip seahorses tossed up on eBay, but that's cool. Music surrounds my life like never before, and I live among the greatest scene in the world here in Boston.

Here's to another act of ridiculousness.

xoxo Michael Marotta / Michael V