Tuesday, April 30, 2013

[tonight in allston] Treat Yo' Self benefit show for the One Fund @ Great Scott, with CreaturoS, Abadabad, raffles, food +++

Today's a travel day for me, heading back to Boston after a grand time in San Francisco, but wanted to give a quick shout out to the awesome One Fund benefit show the fine people at Eye Design are hosting tonight at Great Scott. It's a Treat Yo' Self night, their stellar industry gathering, but tonight tonight everyone comes together to treat others, in particular those affected by the Boston Marathon bombings.

And the all-kindsa-entertainment lineup is what you'd expect from Eye Design: seven great bands, including CreaturoS, Abadabad, and Nervous, as well as three live art galleries, free grub from Boloco and Anna's Taqueria, and Lara Cecilia Diaz on site making fresh donuts and treats. Delish all around.

It's pay what you can, and you can find the full rundown of performers, artists, and raffle prizes here. Doors are at 9pm and it's 18-plus.

Monday, April 29, 2013

[in my head] The Box Tiger "Knives" + Sinnet "Year Of The Whale" // 04.30.13 @ T.T. The Bear's Place

Been all about Toronto bands lately, from the sweaty punk blitz of METZ to Parallels' glitzy dance floor dominance to the '90s alt-rock smile of the C'Mons. Clearly this upturn in the Canadian city's music scene can be attributed to the Blue Jays going back to their classic logo last season, and now indie band The Box Tiger, the best Ontario export since the Leafs handed our city two choice draft picks for Phil Kessel arrives tomorrow night at T.T. The Bear's Place just in time for sooth those pesky Rumble withdrawals.

The Box Tiger have been around since the dark days of the Jays wearing black tops (that's 2009), but this latest single, "Knives," grooves with the urgency of Alex Anthopoulos on the waiver wire. It's a nice guitar-rock throbber that should sound even more alluring live on stage, where singer/guitarist Sonia Sturino hold court.

Usually a band like this would be enough to get us out of the house on a Tuesday night, but the bill is rounded out by some local Vanya faves in power-pop bouncers The Susan Constant (one of my Best New Bands of 2013 in the now-murdered Boston Phoenix), and Sinnet, who also have a tasty new track ready for quench our collective dry thirst for gravelly indie-pop. I've been a fan of Aaron Spransy earlier songwriting work, most notably 2011's Midwest Manners, so it's good to have some new tunes from him and his now-rounded-out ensemble.

Again, great bill all around, and a solid way to close out April. Doors at 8:30, there's an $8 cover, and it's an Indie Rock Ranger gig. Here's the Box Tiger tour poster, but don't spent too much time looking at it, because many of these dates have passed. Sorry.

Tricky announces Boston show, June 14 @ Royale; releases new single "Tribal Drums"

The one and only time I saw Tricky perform live was at Lollapalooza 1997 on Randall's Island, New York, wedged somewhere on a bizzaro lineup that also featured James, KoRn, Porno For Pyros, Snoop Dogg, and Tool. I'm not sure I remember any of his set (I feel like he had some sort of issue with something), and can't even recall whether or not I heard my favorite Tricky song, "Overcome," off 1995 masterpiece Maxinquaye, which has possibly the greatest lyric ever: "And when there's trust there'll be treats/When we fuck we'll hear beats."

That was what, more than 15 years ago (?!), so I'm rather excited to see the trip-hop pioneer born Adrian Thaws is back on the road, in support of new record False Idols (out May 28 via his own label, also called False Idols), and hitting Royale in Boston on June 14. It's a Bowery show and tickets go on sale Friday.

A few weeks ago, Tricky dropped a new track from False Idols, called "Nothing's Changed," and it's definitely some of the best stuff he's done in years.

Here's the second track off False Idols, "Tribal Drums," and in addition to featuring the vocals of Francesca Belmonte, it really has that mid-'90s classic Tricky feel to it.

Doesn't matter if we'll never get another Maxinquaye or Pre-Millennium Tension ("Christian Sands" and "Makes Me Wanna Die" are instant post-high-school get-stoned time-wharp songs for me) because that's pretty unfair to the man. All I want these days is a memorable show without a nu-metal headliner.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

[live review] Eddie Japan stands with Boston, takes home the 2013 Rock And Roll Rumble


There was a moment toward the end of Eddie Japan’s set at the Rock And Roll Rumble finale Friday when frontman David Santos introduced “Fight Song” in a manner which pretty much spot on summed up the rollercoaster ride of this year’s annual celebration of Boston area music. “It’s about sticking together,” he said of the soon-to-be-recorded track, “which is what we’ve done for the last month.”

Santos easily could have been talking about his sprawling, baroque-inspired ensemble, or he might have been referencing the cluster of bands that began to duke it out for the Rumble crown on the first Sunday in April. But what he said no doubt encapsulated what our city has made abundantly clear in these past few weeks. “We are Boston,” the (once more) “Mystery-Shot”-fueled revelers at T.T. the Bear’s Place chanted in unison as the champagne was sprayed on Santos and his crew when Eddie Japan was announced the winner; it was another display of unity in what has always been sort of a warm and fuzzy fest despite its competitive moniker.

Anyone who caught even one Rumble night with Eddie Japan on the bill can tell you they were the outfit to beat. With a sound that would fit squarely in any Tarantino flick (“A Town Called Nowhere”) and a sharp-dressed Santos’ moving like Mozzer, they routinely pulled out all the stops. From a pair of female backup singers that were having just as much fun onstage as those in attendance (infectiously so on “This Married Life”) to the final song introduction of a string section to Chris Barrett constantly slaying on trumpet, few had a chance.

That’s not to say there weren’t worthy challengers. Twin Berlin came through the back door as a wildcard for the second time in this year’s Rumble. There was a good degree of buzz that the rooted in Connecticut alt(ish)/punk(ish) rockers would pull the upset of all upsets -– especially after a Monday night semifinals jaw dropper that ended with singer Matt Lopez sprawled out on T.T.’s beer soaked floor with his baby blue guitar exhaustively resting on his chest. There would be none of that Friday, as for the most part the band played it straight, once more silencing those comparisons to the Strokes with an energy that Julian Casablancas and Co. are typically too bored and detached to muster. This is an act that is still in the midst of an upward trajectory; one that shows no signs of wavering.

Glen Yoder & The Western States were slightly reminiscent of last year’s Rumble winner, Bow Thayer & Perfect Trainwreck. Not so much in down home boot-stomping manner (though there definitely was some of that), nor that they both rock what is these days the underutilized ampersand, but more the way that they had the audience in the palm of their hands with the sonic ebbs and flows. There was some languid guitar soloing on “Not the Man For You,” a song which had jarring bursts of instrumentation that were met with eruptive cheers at each turn. Yeah, there was a good deal of that Neil Young vibe going on, and there were also more raucous Americana moments, like the very Wilco-esque “Just Want You To Love Me.” Yoder looked like he was having a blast, and at the end didn’t seem like they were close to being finished -- all the more reason to catch him at the Lizard Lounge at the end of the month.

While the judges were deliberating or hitting up the photo booth or enjoying the triumph of yet another year pulling off what often looks impossible, 1985 Rumble veterans The Dogmatics busted out of the Wayback Machine to show the upstarts how it’s done. Touted as special guests for the evening, the Dorchester natives played garage-tinged rockabilly like they had nothing to lose -– which of course they didn’t, fitting right in with the genre blendering that the annual event is renowned.

In the end, it wasn’t a shock that Eddie Japan won the whole thing and landed that damn fine booty which includes loads of studio time, professional photography and even hours of free legal advice, but what shone the brightest this year was the spirit of Boston. No, not that overpriced tourist trap on the Harbor, but the strength and backbone that has gotten us through these recent times of trouble. The music scene here is just one tiny faction of what makes this city tick; it’s loud, it’s bratty, and it gives a shit about one another. And while Eddie Japan took the Rock And Rumble 2013, we all took it to another level in pushing through and marching on.

Sentimental? Probably – but true.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

2013 Rumble Revelations // Finals arrive Friday 04.26.13 @ T.T. The Bear's Place

Twenty-one down, three to go. The 2013 Rock and Roll Rumble began 19 days ago, and it feels like an eternity since The Okay Win kicked off preliminary week at T.T. The Bear’s Place in Cambridge. Six prelim shows that highlighted an incredible music scene, two semi-finals gigs that brought that scene closer together, and one postponement that brought a new perspective of community to the entire thing.

Friday night, the Finals arrive, with the Dogmatics in tow as the special guest band (avenging their 1985 Rumble defeat to Down Avenue!), and three acts remaining: the rocket-charged rock quartet Twin Berlin (as the wild card), Americana pop hookage of Glenn Yoder & the Western States (semifinals Night 1 winner) and the multi-cultural retro-rock of Eddie Japan (semifinals Night 2 winner). At this point, Eddie Japan is the lone band remaining who got here without the help of a wild card (Twin Berlin in the semis; Yoder in the prelims) so they’ve got to be the favorites going into Friday.

NOTE: If you can’t attend the Finals, the good people at MediaBoss TV will be live streaming the entire event. Details here.

Before we cast this year’s crown, here are a few Rumble Revelations from this corner of the blogosphere, in no particular order after the finalists:


If the Rumble was a High School Yearbook, Eddie Japan would be the faculty section – but true to form, they took everyone to school on the art of performance. Frontman David Santos is a master showman, and every time he belted out a note (in particular on standout "A Town Called Nowhere"), you thought to yourself “Welp, they won this night.” And they did just that twice – and both times by being the opening act. Whether it was Prelims Night 3 or Semis Night 2, the melancholic-yet-impassioned retro-rock of Eddie Japan set a tone early on and raised a baroque bar that was impossible for others to overcome. Chalk it up to experience, or chalk it up to talent.


Glenn Yoder’s name may be on the marquee, but his Western States’ secret weapon is guitarist Jeff Katz. Every member of Yoder’s crew is enjoyable to watch on stage (bassist Cilla Bonne will nod in agreement), but in both Rumble sets it felt like Katz was the glue holding Yoder’s otherwise brilliant Americana songs together. And Yoder’s got plenty: “Everything You Want,” Younger Brother,” and “Pretty Little Girl” all refuse to leave your head after hearing them. But when you’re watching this cohesive unit perform a tightly-knit style of alt-county pop, the lead often comes from Katz.


Twin Berlin don’t sound like the Strokes. I’ve been guilty in the past of throwing this lazy comparison at the Connecticut rock band (disclaimer: I once managed them), but in watching them twice in this year’s Rumble, there’s an aggression and low-end thunder in their live sets that that NYC rarely ever matched. Matt Lopez still has a bit of Casablancas in his vocal delivery, but the rest of the band (with a sound much larger now as a quartet than when they began as a trio) brings an amphetamine-addled garage rock growl that’s Twin Berlin’s and Twin Berlin’s only. I still say Lopez needs to move to Boston, though.


Other random thoughts from my disheveled notebook...

Whitcomb’s Sean Libby is one tough motherfucker. See here. And speaking of Whitcomb, the Portland, Maine band’s new record could be one of the best New England metal releases of 2013. A great starting point for any potential new fan would be the ceremonial “To A Skull.”

The Daily Pravda need to tour the UK. Enough Allston, Somerville, Cambridge; time for London, Manchester, Liverpool.

The Amanda FacePalmer shot is intoxicating, but leaves a bad taste in your mouth.

Ruby Rose Fox might be the biggest name in Boston by this time next year.

White Dynomite’s fluffy white feathers became the herpes of this year’s Rumble. They remained everywhere long after the rock dudes packed up and left.

Unofficial survey of That One Relatively Unknown Band Blowing People’s Minds: Connecticut’s Suicide Dolls, who continue to impress everyone that watches them (at least among my circle of peoples).

Best cover: Lifestyle during their semis set with Ad Frank’s “Winterthru.” But wait, is it a cover when the guy you’re covering is also in your band? I dunno, but it was still way cool. Just like the video.

I’m not sure I can recommend the Mystery Shot at the TTs bar. Apologies to all I forced that one on.

Watching the news broadcast live from Watertown late Thursday night after Lifestyle’s semi-finals set was a very surreal experience. Being in Central Square that night will be something I won’t soon forget.

What else I won’t forget is the camaraderie and cohesion shared among participating bands and scensters this Rumble season. Every night felt like a special gathering, every night felt like you were in the right spot. And T.T. The Bear's Place was a great host; for every Rumble night, and on Tuesday, April 16, when a trio of bands previously eliminated from the Rumble (The Field Effect, Endation, and Ruby Rose Fox), performed at a spontaneous benefit alongside Mean Creek, Earthquake Party, and others to raise money for Mass General Hospital.

Good luck to Eddie Japan, Glenn Yoder & the Western States, and Twin Berlin. May the best band win.

When we all wake up Saturday, we’ll be already counting down to next year (our very early pick for 2014: Allston's Color Channel Hey, the Rumble loves Allston bands, right?).

[tomorrow in allston] Burglary Years, live at the pill @ Great Scott 04.26.13

Back in February, Boston was hit with a blizzard. It was a Friday, and the storm was expected to peak early Saturday morning; but by 8pm that night, it was a total white-out. After talking with Tim the Great Scott bar manager and my DJ partner, Ken, we decided to open the venue and host our weekly dance party, the pill. We made it free, and figured we'd draw a few dozen cabin-fever folks who lived within a few blocks. It was a pretty cool night, much more subdued than usual, much more a gathering than crazy ol' dance party. We all joked that regardless of what happens in Boston, nothing prevents the pill, a party going on 16 years, from hosting its Friday night.

Fast forward to a few months later, and this past Friday we decided to not open. Great Scott remained closed, the pill did not happen (I can't remember the last time that was the case -- maybe September of 1997?). We decided, out of respect to what was happening around Boston, that it was no night for celebrating, even as people hit the streets to misguidedly chant "USA! USA!" It felt like the Pats won the Super Bowl.

So with all that in mind, we are really excited to get back in the saddle tomorrow night. DJ Ken and I will spin the dance party, and we're joined by one of my favorite new Boston bands, BURGLARY YEARS. Check them out below, and our weekly pill promo and a live clip follows after the jump.

::: the pill
::: friday, april 26 :::
::: burglary years :::
back in action with one of our city's finest new modern rock bands; we love you, boston

Boston, how goes it? Thanks to everyone for understanding why there was no event this past Friday, even after the manhunt ended and things settled down. Yes, people were out "celebrating" around when we usually open doors, but we didn't share that particular mindset.

But we’re already looking ahead to this week, and we're back in action this Friday, April 26, with a live set from Boston modern rock band Burglary Years, one of the finest new acts to catch our attention in 2013. Michael V first saw them at T.T. The Bear’s Place in February on a bill with Beach Fossils and Orca Orca, and since then the band’s blissfully detached 2012 demo has been on constant rotation, both on WFNX (RIP) and our personal playlists, and in particular their swirling, dusty single “Lifesaver.” Check out a live clip of it from their November show at the Democracy Center in Cambridge below.

Burglary Years, which feature ex and current members of underground acts like Circe, Debaser, Maura, and more, have been described as everything from dream-pop to shoegaze, but we hear equal traces of shared heroes the Smiths, Cure, and Jesus & Mary Chain in their engaging and warm sound. We even suspect the band’s name derives from the 1998 Morrissey compilation album, but we haven’t been able to confirm such rash suspicions.

As the band prepares a split 7-inch with Procession and a debut LP on Ohio indie label Mayfly Records, we’re beyond excited to have them join us this Friday at the pill.

DJ Ken & Michael V spin the modern indie dance party before and after the band. Yes, it's okay to dance. These are our times. We love you, Boston. xo

[in my head] Jagwar Ma "Man I Need (White Label Version)"

As someone who still spins Britpop songs well into 2013 (the pill, yo, plug plug), it doesn't take much to get me excited about music that harkens back to the Madchester Era. So naturally, it took about 20 seconds of this new single from Australian duo JAGWAR MA to work me up into a mad-fer-it frenzy. All our friends are here -- traces of Primal Scream, the Mondays, the Roses, Andy Weatherall, Ashcroft -- just getting down under to one of the slickest beats we've heard outside the EDM world.

No Boston date yet, but my spies say our city's talent-buying crew have already made contact with Windish, their US agency.

Sweet Mary this is the new Anglophile anthem... especially right before the six-minute mark, when it all goes hazy. From the pill here in Boston to Popscene and the Queen Is Dead out in San Francisco, this needs to own modern indie dance floors this summer. You know, after the Daft Punk & Pharrell joint, of course.

Bump it...

And while we're here, let's check out their first single, "The Throw."

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Stephie Coplan has an announcement + 05.04 @ the Lizard Lounge in Cambridge

Piano-pop princess Stephie Coplan is bringing her Pedestrians back to town May 4 to the Lizard Lounge in Cambridge -- but first, she's got a special announcement for us all. Dig it...

Ahhh, what the shit, that's a bummer. My <3 for Copes + the Pedz runs deep, but no doubt she's on to bigger and better things. Kinda sweet she's ending this chapter of her on-the-rise career with us here in Cambridge. Full circle, yo.

Grab advance tickets here.

For Boston: Always My City dance music benefit compilation to raise money for the One Fund

Last week Allston Pudding organized 130 Massachusetts bands for a massive compilation to benefit Boston's One Fund, which is aiding victims of the Boston Marathon bombing. While that effort is gaining national and international recognition, another collection of music is gaining traction out of our town: Beantown Bogiedown's Always My City, which compiles 33 artists from across the New England dance music spectrum.

There's really a lot to digest here, and a true spectrum of EDM sounds, from the "My Boo"-sampling Chadley ("Gimme A Call") to the drum-n-bass of Prism ("Voices Of Life") to an old personal fave of mine in M.O.O.N. ("Follow Me"), who goes a bit smoother here than the usual stormy techno Stephen Gilarde is becoming known for.

I'll be honest, I don't know too many of the artists here, but among the stuff I'm hearing for the first time, I really love Ian Stone's mechanical electro-house track "Get Stoned" (I really miss this sound, which was everywhere a few years ago) and the dubstep vibes of Noya's "As A Whole."

But hey, that's the point of compilations, right? To hear something previously not on your radar.

That it's all for a good cause -- all proceeds go to the One Fund Boston -- makes it sound even better. Like the Allston Pudding comp, it's yours for just $1 (or more). Full track list after the Bandcamp jump.

1. Chadley - Gimme A Call
2. Bass Glutton - Booty Pie
3. Class Action - Weekend (Casual Encounters Edit)
4. Dbow - There's A Feeling
5. Wattie Green - Testify
6. Nick Jagger - That's What's Up
7. Sameer NYC - EverBody Was Frequin
8. Dusty Digital - Anticipation
9. Cata6 - Long Way Home
10. Pat Fontes - 2 Step Eddie
11. Eric Rigo - Requiem
12. Kerry Leva - The Way Out is Through
13. Harlock - Beyond Me
14. M.O.O.N - Follow Me
15. Prism - Voices of Life
16. AxH - Untitled
17. Audio Funktion - Funk Destroyer
18. Harlock - Fire Everything
19. Ian Stone - Get Stoned
20. Noya - As A Whole
21. Colin Domigan - The Artist Formerly Known As Dole
22. Bass Glutton - Cold Fresh
23. Cougar Bait - Jasmine's Carpet
24. Noremac - Boss Town
25. Mindstream - Space Dusted
26. Cirrus - The Fold
27. EHT - Sunrise
28. Fuzzy Fotch - Your Mom (Instrumental)
29. eelko - Brain Dance
30. n0ms - Grind
31. Darko - Buttons
32. JSTJR - Make it Drop
33. Wheez-ie - Holup

[new music] "Steev Millar" by Z*L / record release May 10 @ Radio in Somerville

Listening to that new GVSB we just posted reminded me of the new self-titled record from Boston trio Z*L, released yesterday via Midriff Records. They were supposed to have their release party this past Friday at Radio, but we all know what went down that day, so like everything else around town it was postponed.

While we await the re-sked date of May 10, also at Radio and featuring Thalia Zedek, You People, and Do Not Forsake Me Oh My Darling, the album's release trudged forward this week (available at the Midriff online store, and iTunes). And we've been buzzing to the low-highway speed groove of "Steev Millar," a guitar-gasmic hummer of a scab-picking tune that's already one of our faves of the year.

Formerly called Lucky Dragon, Z*L are Jack Knife on drums, Isabel Riley on bass/vocals, and the great, if not criminally underrated, Ian Adams on guitar/vocals. Adams' incredible 2009 solo record was a soulful departure from his heavier work in Rock City Crimewave and 8-Ball Shifter, and while it successfully helped me get over a breakup (like the Daily Pravda's "Dead House," I would play Adams' "A Man Possessed" and the title track as the ex-lady packed up her shit and left our apartment) it's good to see Adams rocking the fuck out again.

And here, he's at his slow-cigarette-drag finest. The pace of this song is quite alluring.

[in my head] New song from Girls Against Boys, "It's A Diamond Life"

So I woke up this morning to a new track from GIRLS AGAINST BOYS, the NYC/DC band's first new material in at least a decade. It's like going downstairs to check the mail and as you wipe the nightsnot out of your eye, you unexpectedly see an old friend waiting at the door. Very cool. Then you scan the old friend up and down and think "Shit, you look great." And then, "Uhhhh, why are you here?"

This new GVSB track, "It's a Diamond Life," via Soundcloud, looks and sounds pretty fab, a fairly by-the-numbers full-frontal-awesome that retains the band's trademark crunch. According to P4k, the song might or might not be on a new EP due this fall, around when the band wraps up a 15-date European run and hits the States for a trio of gigs: Sept. 11 at New York's Bowery Ballroom; Sept. 12 at Johnny Brenda's in Philly; and Sept. 13 at a to-be-announced venue in DC.

Of course, no Boston date... yet. In the meantime we're left with a gritty new tune that makes it feel like the mid-to-late-'90s all over again. Time to dust off Freak*on*ica.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

[awesome video alert] Andre Obin "The Arsonist" / 04.24.13 @ Great Scott

Andre Obin's music has always made for potentially great videos. The Boston electronic music producer [Disclosure: I consider him a good friend and last released released his "Valencia" 7-inch through my record label] creates lush, provocative sounds that I always tended to hear better with my eyes closed, allowing my mind to wrap itself around his beats, synths and morning-star voice.

Now with the latest single off his March record of the same name, "The Arsonist," premiered this morning by Prefix Magazine, pairs Obin with Boston visual artist Aaron Eskeets of meetyourbeat.com, and the video is an appropriate sensory-overload of colors and on-stage clips. Its brightness fits the song well; a kaleidoscopic five-minute daydream of glitchy sights is soundtracked by Obin's distinct dance music for the immobile.

Obin's previous video was a black-and-white Eastern Bloc espionage epic for "Valencia" that was masterfully directed by Theodore Cormey, so this back-to-basics approach works well to keep pushing Obin's dark techno to a global audience.

Catch Obin live with a full band Wednesday night at Great Scott in Allston for the Bynars record release party.

RELATED: April 2, 2013 -- In My Head: The Bynars "All I Wanna Do Is Have Some Fun Tonight"

Monday, April 22, 2013

Ghost Box Orchestra announce record release party details: May 10 @ the Middle East

A few weeks ago we got all worked up over a taste of the new GHOST BOX ORCHESTRA record, Vanished. "Vader" was the lead track, and it was a menacing tune that showed a more darker side of the veteran Boston psych band. We described it as such: "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." We literally could not wait to get the rest of this sonic head trip lodged between our ear holes, and now we have a set date to dance with the rest of the sure-to-be-amazing record: Tuesday, May 14.

That's the official release date for Vanished, but no doubt we'll hear most or all of it in live, human form on Friday, May 10, when GBO celebrate their latest effort among friends and foes at the Middle East in Cambridge. Also on the record-releasing bill are Animal Hospital, Royal Wedding, and Ocular Audio Experiment. A DJ set from Ian Lawrence of Brobots, Soulelujah, and Barge Recordings keeps the music going after the bands until the Mid East kicks everyone out.

Get your Facebook RSVP on here.

And get back into the "Vader" below.

RIP Chrissy Amphlett of the Divinyls

Pouring one out this morning for Chrissy Amphlett of the Divinyls, who passed away yesterday age 53 as a result of "the effects of breast cancer and multiple sclerosis," according to her husband quoted by TMZ.

I really loved this song and video back in 1991. I might have only been 12-years-old, but it was an integral part of my MTV upbringing. It was another example of me being a pre-teen metalhead, and thinking to myself: "But I only like heavy music, why do I love this song so much?"

More than 20 years later and this song is still amazing.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Rumble Semifinal Night 2 re-scheduled to Monday, April 22 @ T.T. The Bear's Place

There were many cancelled and postponed events last night around Boston, and for good reason. Around the time a decision needed to be made on whether or not to host a show, party, event, whatever, Boston was engaged in a citywide lockdown. And while the situation resolved itself around 9:30 pm, leading many out into the streets to "celebrate," by then it was too late to reverse decision and suddenly open shuttered businesses. One of the first shows to announce postponement yesterday was the Rock N Roll Rumble, whose semifinal Night #2 was set for T.T. The Bear's Place in Cambridge.

Most of us were not yet settled emotionally from the night before, Thursday evening, where news of an MIT incident started circulating during the Daily Pravda's set, and things culminated after Lifestyle's headlining performance with the entire room watching the news broadcast, live from Watertown, on the TTs bar television. The 7-11 that was involved in the madness is a few blocks from the venue, but I really don't think anyone at the Rumble knew exactly what was going on. I walked outside to Brookline Street at one point, I think just before Lifestyle, and there were choppers over Central Square. It was an insane night.

The winner was announced after the last band played, I think just before 1am, but I'm unsure how many people heard it: Glenn Yoder & the Western States took home the prize, and deservedly so. Guitarist Jeff Katz stole the entire evening with his efforts, and roots-rock gems like "Pretty Little Girl," "Everything You Want," and "Younger Brother" (one of my favorites from any '13 Rumble band) showed why Yoder's Western States could win the whole thing. All are off his recent LP< Javelina.

But now that the dust and panic has settled, perhaps unsurprisingly, the Rumble is one of the first events to announce their new rescheduled date for Night 2, keeping the rock moving forward: Night 2 of the semis will go down Monday, April 22. Same bat-channel.

It'll feature previous Rumble prelim night winners Eddie Japan, Camden, and the New Highway Hymnal; wild card band Twin Berlin; and a new twist due to scheduling. There was a show already planned for Monday at TTs, but coincidentally, the headliner is a Rumble alum and efforts have been combined.

Here's word from Anngelle Wood:

In an effort to make good on the date as soon as possible, and fit it in before the scheduled Finals on Friday, April 26, we are pleased to announce that we will resume the Semifinals this Monday night!

We worked it out and TT the Bear's was able to come up with a timely resolution. Randy Black (who is a 1982 Rumble winner with his band Limbo Race!) and his band the Heathcroppers have been invited to do a special opening set. Many thanks to Randy, as well as Brendan Boogie and the Broken Gates and Tsunami of Sound, for graciously allowing us to have their previously scheduled night. Thank you, Richard Bouchard, thank you, Kevin Patey, thank you Bonney Bouley. We really appreciate it.

Due to the special circumstances of changing dates and out of state travel, the wildcard band Twin Berlin has been moved from the first slot to the last. Rather than upset the entire night even more, I made the decision to swap the two bands. Probably another first for the Rock 'n' Roll Rumble history books.

Please support all of these bands - for their graciousness, for their flexibility, and for their understanding.

Here's the night's lineup:

8:45pm - Special opening set by Randy Black and the Heathcroppers

9:30pm - Eddie Japan

10:15pm - The New Highway Hymnal

11:00pm - Camden

11:45pm - [Wildcard] - Twin Berlin

[tonight in allston] Vanyaland presents: RIBS, Color Channel, Year Million @ Great Scott

As we around Boston pick ourselves up and dust ourselves off after one of the most heartbreaking and surreal weeks in our city's history, a return to some sort of normalcy is in order. And for many of us in our Boston music community, that normalcy involves attending live shows. So I'm excited and proud that Vanyaland is teaming up with Bowery Boston tonight for the RIBS homecoming show at Great Scott. Also on the bill are Color Channel and the Year Million.

When we all set this up a few weeks ago, the event would serve as both RIBS' first show back in Boston after their tour with Joy Formidable, and the relaunch party for our new music website, the new Vanyaland 2.0. After last week's tragedy and unforgettable days that followed, including yesterday's manhunt and citywide lockdown, we've delayed unveiling the new site (I just don't have the self-promotional cheerleading in me right now).

But the show! The show will go on.

And it's a good one: RIBS' mechanical rock and roll is even more polished after fine-tuning their craft in the road, and their 2012 record Russian Blood was one of my favorite releases of last year; Color Channel bring an instant-dance-party live energy to any room, their Pyramid Of Love EP a true Saturday night electroni-funk fever; and The Year Million's towering post-prog pop-rock is as uplifting as it gets, as they're still riding high off the recent release of Broken Circuits.

Here's a preview of each band, see you in Allston. Boston Strong.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Boston Bruins fans singing the National Anthem, last night @ TD Garden

This is a music blog, based in Boston, and what happened last night at TD Garden sent chills down my spine. I'm a hardcore New Jersey Devils fan, born and raised, but no doubt I'm rooting for the Bruins, from last night through the playoffs. Because We Are Boston.

What a display last night by the Garden faithful. I get chills every time I watch it, and I've watched it many times since last night.

130 Strong: Allston Pudding's Marathon Relief Benefit Mixtape to raise money for the One Fund

The Boston music scene continues to amaze and inspire.

Tuesday morning, the Allston Pudding music blog put out a call for submissions for a charity mixtape, with the funds raised going to the victims of Monday's marathon bombings. Forty-eight hours later, and the result is massive: a 130-track (130!!!!) compilation, featuring everyone from Speedy Ortiz to Parlour Bells to Kingsley Flood to Mei Ohara to Fedavees to Plumerai to Nemes to Slowdim to Freezepop to Mellow Bravo to... oh my goodness just read the full track list below. It's huge. It's overwhelming. It's Boston.

And it's for a great cause.

All proceeds are going to the One Fund Boston, and anyone can donate the mix for as little as $1 (quite a deal). Anyone donating $10 or more are entered to win a sweet Allston Pudding sweatshirt, which is guaranteed to get you laid instantly wherever you wear it.

"Enormous thanks to all who contributed to this," wrote the Pudding this morning on their site. "Boston Music 4ever."

I'm not religious, but a-fucking-men.

Full track listing after the Bandcamp jump.

1. Kal Marks - Born Again 2. Speedy Ortiz - Bigger Party
3. Krill - The Troublesome Horse Gets The Milk
4. M. Reverdy Rhodes - My Bird
5. Hall Of Mirrors - Keep
6. Mean Creek - Do You Know
7. Duke & The Drivers - What You Got
8. Vegans - Sandslash
9. Trophy Lungs - Exit 28
10. The Box Tiger - Knives
11. DadFight - Patty Hearst
12. Chris North - Thanksgiving Day
13. The Deep North - Wake Up
14. Twin Berlin - Kill This Low
15. Red Oblivion - Simple
16. Andrew and The TV Cowboys - Sun Damaged
17. Bearstronaut - A Better Hand
18. Ruby Rose Fox - Old Fashioned
19. Old Abram Brown - Summer Home
20. Chandeliers - Temperance
21. Ian James - No Harm
22. Billy Dodge - Reach
23. Supermachine - Broken
24. Jones & Burns - Pack What You Can Carry
25. FEDAVEES - Prettybirds, Fly
26. Fishing The Sky - Sven
27. The Homing Bureau - To Only Have Come Back
28. Grey Season - Winter That Wasn't
29. Parlour Bells - Airwaves
30. Cowgill - Plans
31. The Interrobang - Zirconia
32. Found Audio - Queen of the Road
33. Endation - Sex Partner Sex
34. The Difference Engine - The Day That I Forgot You
35. Plumerai - Trip
36. Preacher Roe - Elise Elise
37. The Strange Avenues - Passing Time
38. The Daily Pravda - Holidays on the Run
39. Eddie Japan - A Town Called Nowhere
40. Moniker - Burn This City
41. The Life Electric - Carried Away
42. The Michael J. Epstein Memorial Library - The Violinist
43. Cahill - Tired Man
44. Rob Potylo - Quiet Desperation
45. Peter Campbell - Good Heart
46. The New Highway Hymnal - Out With The Lights
47. Kingsley Flood - Sun Gonna Lemme Shine
48. Big Girl - Broken
49. Brian Carroll - Devil Won't Get Me Down
50. Frank & Dependent - Earthworm Smoothie
51. Green Line Inbound - Mars
52. Brenda - Fix Your Eyes
53. Glenn Yoder & The Western States - Row
54. Cease the Wheels - Downcity Armory
55. The Field Effect - Headwrecked
56. Adam Jensen - Redemption Man
57. Nemes - Everest Isle
58. Eksi Ekso - Traitor Traitor
59. Muy Cansado - Not For Nothing
60. Idiot Genes - Drunk Consistenly
61. Aloud - Justice & Forgiveness
62. Mei Ohara - Deep Sea Vinyl
63. Guillermo Sexo - Emerald Comets
64. Velah - Glass Heart
65. Airport - I Got Love
66. Adam PC - Yeah Fuckin' A Right!
67. The Moan - You Ain't Mine
68. The Adventures Of - Edges
69. Bunny's A Swine - Greetings From The Bottom
70. Black Norse - Kill The King - Reign of Fire
71. The Milling Gowns - Arc & Pale
72. Alen of Dale - Morning Light
73. Slowdim - Uh Oh
74. Whysowhite - Get Busy
75. J / Q - A Savior Of My Own
76. Ginger Ibex - Catnip
77. Brighton MA - Good Kind of Crazy
78. Wide Iris - Tomorrows
79. The Suicide Dolls - Brand New and Close By
80. Dead Cats Dead Rats - Bad News
81. Modern Lighting - Grey Skies Tiny Stars
82. Ryan Scally - Near Beyond Alone
83. The Novel Ideas - The Field
84. Snow's House - Walk
85. Rebuilder - Heroes to a Sun
86. Friendly People - New York
87. Lara Ewen - One Day
88. The Rare Occasions - Scarlet Lies
89. The Spearmint Sea - Two
90. School for Robots - Insomniac
91. Banquet Hall - Ruins
92. Machines Learning - SatAMcoffee
93. The Russians - Sober and Un-Upsetting
94. Faux Ox - Colourform
95. Freezepop - Peptalk
96. Mount Peru - Psalm
97. The Hollow Sound - Cope
98. Ruby Ridge - Don't Turn Around
99. Mellow Bravo - When Im In Pain
100. The Electrical Fire - Rhythm of My Heart
101. Devil and a Penny - Steamboat
102. Eric Baro - In Love With A Broken Heart
103. Future Carnivores - Twice
104. Michael Maloney - Back To Boston
105. Satellites Fall - One Night
106. The Bynars - All I Wanna Do Is Have Some Fun Tonight
107. Howling Boil - Brighton, 1983
108. Butterknife - Coattails
109. I, Pistol - I Don't Care
110. Zip-Tie Handcuffs - Book Worm
111. The New Warden - Long Walk Home
112. The Blind Woods - Two Fish
113. The Saints of Sorrow - We Carry On
114. Walter Sickert & The Army of Broken Toys - Radioactive Brush
115. Sawtooth - Boston, Je T'aime
116. Eros and the Eschaton - Carry The Water
117. Nervous - Decode
118. Blue Moon Harem - Finland
119. EXH4LER - Skinny Girl From New York
120. Kangaroo Court - Unplanned
121. Axemunkee - Acid DJango
122. Royal Wedding - S.C.U.M.
123. Strange Mangers - Handmaids
124. Jay Wightman - I'm Green
125. The Shills - Move A Mountain
126. Courters - Dead Eye
127. Ryan Jackson Troika - Sink Piles
128. Marc Pinansky - Back In Boston
129. Bear Language - Mary Go Round
130. Sand Reckoner - Too Many Voices

Nearly $8,000 raised for Mass General Hospital at T.T. The Bear's Place Tuesday night

I was giving an interview to WBUR Tuesday evening when I made some variation of the following comment: "Some of us are doctors, some of us are counselors, some of us aren't. I'm involved with the music scene, and what I do is music." We were just about to open doors at TT The Bear's Place in Cambridge, a room Richard Bouchard and I secured just five hours earlier, to host a benefit show for the victim's of Monday's Boston Marathon bombing.

And already the response was overwhelming.

The lineup went beyond music, but the music was pretty incredible: Mean Creek, the Field Effect, Earthquake Party, Endation, Ruby Rose Fox, Dan Nicklin of Old Jack, Cameron Kieber, and Brendan Boogie.

The venue, TTs, donated the room, and its owner, Bonnie Bouley, an additional $500 contribution. Bartenders donated all their tips, more than $1300. All merch sold from the bands was donated to the cause, almost $300. And a raffle -- which featured everything from Red Sox tickets to gift cards to an online class at Berklee -- brought in more than $950.

At the door, we set up a Pay What You Can system: anything from $1 to more, handled anonymously. The door man said he noticed many people quietly stuffing $20 bills into the donation box. Incredible.

Yesterday, Richard and I brought a check for $7,740 to Mass General Hospital, and donated it to MGH's Emergency Medicine Fund, which they said would have the most impact on Monday's events. The check was signed, "from the "Boston Music Scene."

Thank you, Boston. xo

PHOTOS: Mick Murray @ For Boston /// Daykamp Music @ For Boston

Here is the final breakdown of Tuesday's fund raising efforts:
$4,175 at the door
$500 from TT's owner Bonney Bouley
$500 from Defunct Tees
$957 from the raffle
$1,337 from the bartenders (who all donated their tips)
$271 from band merch

Total $7,740

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

[tonight in cambridge] FOR BOSTON benefit show @ T.T. The Bear's Place

I still can't fully wrap my head around what happened yesterday at the Boston Marathon. My adopted hometown of 13 years is truly my home, and will be for the rest of my life. I love it here. I love this city's music scene. I love this city's passion for sports. It works for me.

And people cope with hardship in different ways. I'm involved with the music scene, and one way I can help is through music. So I'm teaming up with Richard Bouchard (Indie Rock Ranger) to help organize the FOR BOSTON benefit show tonight at TT The Bear's Place, the home of the Rock and Roll Rumble, which picks back up on Thursday.

About two hours ago we got word that a touring show scheduled for TTs tonight had been cancelled, so we rallied up some of our friends for a last-minute fund raiser to benefit Massachusetts General Hospital.

Join us for music from Mean Creek, The Field Effect, Endation, Dan Nicklin of Oldjack, Cameron Keiber of the Beatings/Eldridge Rodriguez, and more. I'll DJ a few sets as well, the usual stuff you hear at the pill.

Doors at 8pm, it's 18+, and it's Pay What You Can. Seriously, pay $1, pay $20, it's up to you. We're happy to report that 100% of the door will be donated to MGH on behalf of the Boston music scene. Vanya Records and the Field Effect will also donate 100% of sales from all merchandise to the cause.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Boston, I love you

I've been a resident of your city for 13 years, and nothing has ever felt more like home.

We are Boston. <3

Let's "Get Lucky": Daft Punk broadcast pop's first Song of the Summer contender

If you know pornography only when you see it, then likewise, you know the annual Song of the Summer when you hear it. Two years ago it was "Midnight City" by M83 (which got a late jump, first surfacing in July 2011) , then last year it was the now-ubitquitous "I Love It" by Sweden's Icona Pop. Hell, "I Love It" is a song so still on fire it threatens to be this year's SOTS for the mainstream (I heard a Boston-area Top 40 DJ call it just that a few days ago, damn, and after the NBC The Today Show appearance and Girls cameo, there's no sign of slowing down).

Well, after this weekend, we have a one-minute glimpse into what is the first contender into the 2013 SOTS sweepstakes: French electronic duo Daft Punk's collab with Pharrell and Nile Rodgers on "Get Lucky," which on Saturday night was teased both on the big screens at Coachella in the California desert and on small screens around the world during Saturday Night Live. Leave it to Daft Punk for stealing Coachella headlines without even performing, and getting late-night SNL viewers all worked up twice now.

Good god of fuck, this is some white-hot stuff. This is massive, a party record barreling toward Earth, and having picked up huge momentum in the last 48 hours. Pop armageddon awaits.

Any why? Because you instantly want more. Cue AT&T girl: "We want more we want more."

Also because the snippet is incredible, and already racking up nearly a million YouTube views.

With all the hype and advance promo, I was just about getting tired hearing about the new Daft Punk record. This immediate wiped away all the annoyance and just enraptured me. I can't wait for May 21, when Random Access Memories is released, via Daft Life Limited/Columbia Records.

Happy 47th birthday to Samantha Fox

Solid day for birthdays today, a pool of blown-candle fun that includes James Franco and Ilya Kovalchuk. But the one that caught my attention, the same way she caught my eye as a pre-pubescent boy growing up on Long Island in the late '80s, is SAMANTHA FOX, who today turns 47 years young. Honestly, I'm kinda surprised is still alive.

Oh, Sam, you taught me a lot about sexuality when I was 10 years old, and I'm still kinda fucked up over it. I always joke that Belinda Carlisle was my first celebrity crush, but Samantha Fox was probably the first woman I ever wanted to sleep with. And I was way too young to be thinking about that kinda shit. Regardless, the top shelf of the magazine rack at the stationary store on Bay Shore Road once held all of my dreams and fantasies hostage.

But beyond that, this is also one of those moments when I look back, think of all the various shades of rock and metal I was listening to at the time (Manowar, Slayer, Skid Row, Faster Pussycat), and wonder if the seeds to my obsession with dance-pop were planted without me even realizing. I had 1988's I Wanna Have Some Fun and 1986's Touch Me on cassette. Then again, Top 40 pop music is easy to listen to when you're beating off to the Spencer's-Gift-bought posters on your wall.

Friday, April 12, 2013

[tonight in allston] The Milling Gowns @ the pill

Excited to welcome The Milling Gowns to the pill tonight, a nice gloomy post-punk/pop session fit for a rainy spring Friday night. Check out the promo bio from the pill boston dot com, and see you in a few hours at Great Scott.

The Gowns' 2012 EP Something Dangerous Loves Me was one of my favorite releases of last year...

Whitcomb guitarist overcomes hospitalization to shred the Rumble, plus other thoughts on a drunken, naked, and hair-cutting Night 4

Growing up in the late ‘80s and early 90s, I always tended to love the first song on a cassette’s Side B. It always felt like the best barometer for that album, the band’s real choice to kickstart a string of songs, as opposed to the first track on Side A, which likely was a single selected by the label in order to move units.

With that in mind, the Rock And Roll Rumble kicked off its Side B last night at TT The Bear’s, the second half of preliminary week that continues tonight with a Friday night explosion lineup of White Dynomite, the Suicide Dolls, the Field Effect, and Coyote Kolb.

And it was an explosive re-start with several theatrical subplots: Mount Peru applying a sweet intelligence to crafty roots rock in the opening slot, making us all feel a bit smarter; an eventually victorious Lifestyle attempting to create an electro-pop dance party at a rock fest, showing off veteran pop poise, and charismatic frontman Sean Drinkwater even cutting off his mullet mid-set; and Twin Berlin’s buzzsaw closing tilt, where singer/guitarist Matt Lopez led his ripper garage rock band in stripping down to their underwear (we saw Lopez's bare white ass at the end) and even sharing a between-song kiss with his guitarist. It was definitely the first man-on-man snog of this year’s Rumble, and hopefully won’t be the last.

Oh, then there was the brown-paper-bagged Mystery Bottle at both bars, birthing $3 shot all night (down from $4). I likely drank most of it.

But none of these Thursday night subplots were more impressive and endearing than Whitcomb guitarist Sean Libby holding it down on stage roughly 48 hours after being released from Maine Medical with pneumonia and pericarditis, a serious condition that brings severe chest pain and inflammation around the pericardial sack around the heart. (Vanyaland, MD: I’m not a doctor, but I did stay at a Rock and Roll Rumble last night.)

Last weekend, Libby started to feel ill, coming down with a bronchial infection, fever, chills, and headache. By Monday he was in the hospital.

“I caught a bad cold, and it turned into pneumonia,” Libby told Vanyaland after Whitcomb’s towering metal set, which the TTs stage could barely contain. While his Portland, Maine, bandmates were aggressively blanketing the stage, with Motherboar’s Kenny Irwin joining them at one point for a double-vocal assault, Libby remained still in the far left corner.

“It had no affect,” Libby said of his illness. “I was a bit lightheaded at first at practice. At one point we weren’t sure if we were going to cancel [our Rumble appearance], I thought if I was feeling like this on stage I wasn’t sure. But we really wanted to come down here. We ran through our set twice last night, and by the second time I was feeling better. I woke up this morning and felt a lot better.”

Rumble organized Anngelle Wood told me earlier in the evening that she and the band didn’t want Libby’s illness to have a “sympathy vote” factor with the judges.

But during their 30-minute performance, an odd sound-clash table-setter for Lifestyle’s synthpop, it didn’t matter. Whitcomb’s loud, engaging set was a showcase for what the band does up in Maine, where they take the poems and words of 19th century writer James Whitcomb Riley and create musical themes and storylines set to metal.

Whitcomb confidently previewed new record The Conqueror, out April 20, and one of the EP’s tracks, the magnetic “To A Skull,” was one of the best of the night. They’ll no doubt dust it off again either at next week’s semis (if they secure a wild card slot), or May 11 at their record release party at the Asylum in Maine. They’re also at Ralphs’s in Worcester on June 1.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

2013 Rock And Roll Rumble Halftime Report; Night 4 to 6 tonight through Saturday @ TTs

As the Rock and Roll Rumble rages on tonight at TT The Bear’s for Night 4 of the preliminary round, yesterday was the battle’s traditional Day of Rest. And we sure as fuck needed it. The New Highway Hymnal, Camden, and Eddie Japan took home their respective nights, and will move on to next week’s semis, unless one has a gig up at a seafood joint in Gloucester (maybe Eddie Japan could help open one of those new Asian-Latin fusion hotspots up in Salem).

With the day of rest comes a day of reflection, and here’s the Vanyaland Halftime Report. Yeah it should have been posted yesterday, I know. But allow it to not only collect our scattered thoughts on the first three nights, but rev up the rock engine for this evening’s tilt, starring Mount Peru, Whitcomb, Lifestyle, and Twin Berlin. Side note: Being allowed to witness the conquering heavy metal of Whitcomb right before Lifestyle synth-pops us back to 1988 is going to be an aural mindwarp, and proof positive why this whole shebang rules in the first place.

Random thoughts from the Rumble’s first three nights:

1. No reports of anyone getting laid so far at this year’s Rumble, but the T.T. The Bear’s Place microphone was beautifully fellated during Endation’s opening set Monday night. Singer/guitarist Ants Conley, already blessed with the best hair of the tournament, nearly deep-throated the entire fucking thing during their last song, "Medicine Bed." Clearly, the mic was hard and ready to pop: Endation’s relentless set was a 30-minute crunch lesson in how to kick a room’s ass with nothing but furious, impassioned dungeon music, and it was an unsettling wake-up-call experience for the 9pm early-birds. Between Conley and drummer Matt Graber, no two people in Boston sound larger.

2. Extreme never played the Rumble, but Nuno Bettencourt’s nephew now has: Adrian Bettencourt Andrade is the bassist/keyboardist for Herra Terra, who hit synth-rock cruising altitude almost immediately Monday night and never came down. Also I lost a bet when they set up all their gear within the 15-minute changeover.

3. In my A to Z recap earlier this week I mentioned that Lifestyle’s Sean Drinkwater last played a Rumble in 2001 with Freezepop, and that’s might be some sort of intermission record. Of course it wasn’t, this is Boston, where rock music has existed for 329 years. Eddie Japan’s crew took that shit waaaaay back, as guitarist Eric Brosius once Rumbled with Tribe back in 1988 (good grief, Orel Hershiser was President) and guitarist Bart LoPiccolo did the deed with Scattershot in 1990. There were bloggers in the room who weren’t even alive back then.

4. That wasn’t the only connection to Yesteryear: New Hampshire’s Supermachine earned high marks for a hard rock performance that stood out on Tuesday’s slate, issuing a no-nonsense bar rock approach that skillfully ignored any trend of the past 20 years. Singer David Nebbia was a commending presence, but it was equally hard to ignore guitarist Jay Fortin (and his cool hat) and bassist Paul Jarvis, who both played in Scissorfight, a Rumbler of ‘97. Bonus points to Supermachine for having a song called "Pill Cruise." I take mine every week.

5. In the prediction game, Luke O’Neil is two-for-three in picking Rumble winners so far, his only “miss” being that he didn’t pick any winner from Night 3. EDIT: Looks like Eddie Japan just showed up in his "winner picks," so we'll buy his story that he simply forgot to list them at the bottom. In his tl;dr rundown, he says of EJ: Seem like they have the type of sprawling gimmick that usually goes over well. That a much greater endorsement than the simple "no's" he gave the other three, so we'll accept it. Now back to our regular business... Calling Hymnal and Camden I guess bodes well for Ruby Rose Fox, Twin Berlin, The Field Effect, and Coyote Kolb. The latter two both play Friday so folks there’s your Wild Card.

6. We got the first cover of 2013 on Night 3, when Blackbutton bowed before the Cobain Gods and unleashed Nirvana’s “Breed. Much better than bringing the Dropkicks into this.

7. Speaking of Blackbutton, they were also the first band to provide stage visuals, but weren’t supposed to be. Lysergic Factory Lightshow were hired by the New Highway Hymnal to add trippy sights to the band’s psych-punk sounds, but one of its members blew a drama fuse early Sunday night after a dispute with organizers over setting up a merch table. After tossing vulgar insults at the door guy and telling organizer Anngelle Wood they’d See Her Next Tuesday (spoiler alert: he won’t), the Lysergic dudes left and ended any chance of ever stepping foot inside T.T. The Bear’s Place ever again. In related news, the New Highway Hymnal are currently looking for someone to do visuals for their semi-final appearance next week.

8. The rest of Night 1 went off without a hitch, as the Okay Win took on the dirty business of opening the whole joint with a three-guitar indie-pop serenade. Cancer Killing Gemini’s music continues to soundtrack some fucked up knife-fight space-orgy in my head, and Velah delivered a crisp set that recalled shoegaze without letting that one element define the overall thing. Also, Velah's performance furthers Jen Johnson’s place as one of the most gifted vocalists in Boston.

9. Midway through Eddie Japan’s opening number “Pushing Years” on Tuesday, I literally could not tell if lively frontman David Santos was singing in English or Spanish. It ruled.

10. They also had 11 people on stage for their finale, making them the Latin-flavored lounge-pop version of Bang Camaro. Or Polyphonic Spree. Or some other large ensemble band that sounds nothing like Eddie Japan but gets referenced here because music journalism is stupid.

11. A few days ago I went over the importance of having a good song, and the great one that the Deep North performed Monday night. Well Blackbutton has one too in “Still Kids.”

12. Speaking of Night 3, it’s clear that Glenn Yoder can pretty much do no wrong (Except win his night of course, ha!). But the spirited root-rock performance by the former Cassavette and his new Western States was one of my favorites ever for a preliminary round. Yoder’s great song is clear and obvious: the Chevy-baiting Americana jaunt of “Younger Brother” is a pleasurable listen. Bonus points are issued to Yoder’s awesome bassist Cilla Bonnie and her amazing facial expressions. It was a treat watching someone have that much fun on stage.

13. I wasn’t a judge Tuesday night, but I felt like anyone could have taken Night 3, whether it been eventual winners Eddie Japan and their sweat-swinging upbeat pop, the clenched-fist rock of Supermachine, Yoder’s ability to twang in a non-offensive way to folks who just don’t twang, or the gritty grunge guitar pull of Blackbutton, who might have been at a disadvantage going on last Tuesday night, because it was clear the room was fatigued after three impressive performances that ranged the musical spectrum.

14. I was a judge on Monday for Night 2, however, and having the last slot didn’t deter Camden, whose uber-slick brat-rock really stole the show. And that was hard to do with the Deep North, Herra Terra, and Endation all throwing down their own thing. Camden’s songs are as catchy as Tuukka Rask’s glove hand, and no doubt many were singing “Talk talk talk talk / Talking on the telephone” on the rides home to our residential safe spaces.

15. This week rules. Good job, Rumble, good job Boston.

Press paws on this pet project: Boston bands replace musical instruments with cats

Yesterday Boston writer Michelle Buchman passed along a Sports Balls Replaced By Cats tumblr that found many mates on the ol' pitch playing around with kitty instead of that big round thing. Unlike Aston Villa, it was a huge success.

But it seemed Michelle and I had the first thought for a sequel: replacing musical instruments with cats, and allowing Boston to be the first in feline line. Whiskey and boredom is rarely this positive and productive.

Bent Shapes, Quilt, the Field Effect, Speedy Ortiz, Mutual Benefit, Emily Reo, and of course, Michelle -- this meow's for you.

So inspired by my new favorite tumblr, Sports Balls Replaced With Cats (which I will probably forget exists tomorrow) I took some of my favorite Massachusetts area bands and replaced their musical instruments with cats (and one dog, because I like dogs too. Sue me.) Enjoy, everyone. I’m glad my Wednesday evening drinking whisky and photoshopping was well spent.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Final Boston Phoenix "Writers Meeting," tonight @ ZuZu

Today is a Rumble day of rest, but it's also a day of mourning. I'm hosting my final Boston Phoenix "Writers Meeting" tonight at ZuZu in Cambridge. No stories or Top 100 lists or special features to debate and discuss, so we'll all just drink and dance. All are welcome. DJ sets from everydayisamixtape and some PHX peoples.

Hire someone you won't.

[it's free and starts around 10pm]

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

[awesome video alert] Kingsley Flood "Sun Gonna Lemme Shine" / 05.03.13 @ Brighton Music Hall

Boston roots-rock act KINGSLEY FLOOD have a sweet new music video, premiered today by the fine folks at the AV Club, and it's the best clip of a male character wearing a women's dress since Tim Booth of James messed around with gender roles in 1993's "Laid." In fact, this could very well be a prequel.

If it wasn't for that awesome party at the end where everyone is accepting and having fun and holding hands and participating in what seems like one of those Allston DIY concerts the internet is all about lately, this little kid just might end up as an adult in handcuffs and freaking out over failed relationships at his dirty-ass kitchen table. It's a slippery slope, youth. Even more slippery when pirates are involved. Wait, what?

According to AV, which doesn't really get into the whole pirate thing, the "Sun Gonna Lemme Shine" music video "was inspired by a recent New York Times story about boys wearing dresses and features 25 sassy 7-year-olds who might just have a future in music video acting."

Speaking of futures, the Floods have a bright one on the immediate horizon: they're at Brighton Music Hall on Friday May 3 to celebrate the release of infectious new record Battles (it's a re-sked gig after their first attempt was blizzard'ed out back in February), and they make their Newport Folk Festival debut (read: fuck yes) in July when they arrive in Rhode Island to perform along with the likes of Beck, Feist, the Lumineers, Father John Misty, Amanda Palmer, and others.

Fine work.

In My Head: The Deep North "Wake Up" + the impact of a great song (sorta Rumble recap)

Photo by Chrissy Bulakites

Last night, before having the honor of judging Night 2 of the 2013 Rock And Roll Rumble, I sat on a Rock Shop panel talking to bands about how to get press or spins on the radio. I've participated in this discussion before, both at previous Rock Shops and at Berklee College of Music, and my initial response to the overarching question is basic: "Write a great song." It generally gets some awkward, muffled laughs, until the crowd sees I'm serious.

Want to get your band written about: "Write a great song."

Want to get your band heard on the radio: "Write a great song."

Want to get people, writers, DJ booking agents, groupies, anyone, interested in your band: "Write a great song."

I didn't bust out that line last night (I blame my hangover), but I was immediately reminded of it a few hours later when THE DEEP NORTH took the stage as the second act of Night 2. More on the overall night, and thoughts on Sunday's opener, in my Rumble Halftime Report coming tomorrow, but I'm still struck about how a great song transcends everything, from favoritism to fancy press photos or connections or whatever. After a warm opening song to start their set, the quintet then launched into "Wake Up," a majestic, beautifully polished rock anthem that at its peak is as tall as the sky. Rebecca Frank's vocals are engaging; the song just pulls you in. The night ended up going to Camden, whose bratty, speedball guitar-pop was inspired and slung with ease, but I'm sure the Deep North walked away with a lot of new fans. Actually, the galactic electronic rock of Herra Terra and Endation's raw rock crunch served those bands very well, as well. It was a great night of music at TTs.

But yeah, back to the point: you write a great song, and people will notice. And they did. I included the Deep North in my Boston Phoenix Class of 2013 feature based on this song alone.

And Glenn di Benedetto, fellow judge of last night's Rumble, wrote a few minutes ago on Facebook: "This song right here. In Parlour Bells, I value memorable songwriting often with an infectious pop/rock aesthetic, so when a peer band achieves that so wonderfully I can't help but be in awe of it."


Sunday, April 7, 2013

An A to Z guide to the preliminary week of the 2013 Rock And Roll Rumble, tonight through Saturday @ T.T. The Bear's Place


The Rock and Roll Rumble returns tonight for its 34th annual dance, bringing together 24 bands from around New England and allowing them to be part of a friendly competition that beneath the surface is just one big music festival. In joining some other recent Rumble previews that are definitely worth your attention (nice work Allston Pudding and the Boston Herald), here is the Vanyaland A to Z guide of what’s in store for the week ahead at T.T. The Bear’s Place in Cambridge, beginning tonight and wrapping up the preliminary week on Saturday, April 13.


A – A is for Anngelle Wood. The tireless host and organizer of the Rumble has brought it back from the brink of extinction. Her local music show, Boston Emissions, airing every Sunday night on WZLX 100.7 FM, is required listening for what's going on around town. There's a Rumble pre-party tonight around 8pm, so let's raise a glass to all who help put this thing together.

B – B is for Blackbutton (Night 3, April 9). The rock trio's single “Still Kids” is the type of song you’d hear at 3am on MTV sometime in the early ‘90s, right after an Afghan Whigs video. And then you’d wake up the next day and go to Strawberries or Sam Goody to buy the entire CD for $16.99.

C – C is for Cancer Killing Gemini (Night 1, April 7), Camden (Night 2, April 8), and Coyote Kolb (Night 5, April 12). A trio of C bands this year, and they run the sonic spectrum from the galactic post-industrial of CKG, Camden’s speedball indie brat-pop, and the MTV-show-approved burnt-in Americana of Coyote Kolb, which is a nice dark horse pick to play three Rumble shows this spring. Also: C U at TTs, rite?.

D – D is for The Deep North (Night 2, April 8) and the Daily Pravda (Night 6, April 13). Both bands are known for an ambitious, big-room sound, and are both led by dynamic vocalists, from the towering prom-wave belt of the Deep North’s Rebecca Frank to the Bowiean glam-glide of David Jackel of the Daily Pravda.

E – E is for Endation (Night 2, April 8) and Eddie Japan (Night 2, April 9). Despite being the lone duo in this year’s Rumble, Endation stand to make perhaps the most noise, their sludgy creature-rock might be enough to let the people downstairs at the Middle East hear what’s going on up at TTs for a change. Meanwhile, the crooning Japans have enough smooth modern rock seduction to not only win their night, but convince us to wake up in their bed come morning.

F – F is for The Field Effect (Night 5, April 12). The most fuckable band in Boston is the likely odds-on favorite to win the whole thing, but their rock value plummeted 43% with the recent shuttering of WFNX. Both panties and boxers worn inside TTs and along Brookline Street will disintegrate by the minute-mark of standout guitar-pop gem “Ogunquit, ME.”

G - G is for Group of Death. Every year there’s one preliminary night that could masquerade as the Finals, a stacked four-band bill that puts aside musical diversity for one night and fills the role as simply a killer rock show. And this year, it’s Night 2 on Monday, April 8: The aforementioned Endation, Camden, and the Deep North, as well as...

H – H is for Herra Terra (Night 2, April 8). The techni-color electronicore rocket-ride that is a Herra Terra performance should woo the judges and leave them dizzy. But with only a 15 minute set up between bands, there’s also a chance the Central Mass band performs only two songs before the time their slot time ends at 11pm. So many plugs, so much gear, but with nothing going to waste.

I – I is for the Indefinite Article. Remember that time in 2007 when a white-boy rap-rock group brought a few hundred of their “Indef”-t-shirt-wearing friends to Harper’s Ferry and horrified a whole music scene all the way to the finals, only to be stopped by a classic rock beard-train called Township? Yeah, that happened.

J – J is for Jack Burton vs David Lo Pan (Night 6, April 13). Yeah yeah, the Rumble is a festival, we know, but it's, by birthright, also competition and these dudes already have a Vs in their name. Diversity rears it’s beautiful head when the metal onslaught of JB vs DLP is sandwiched by the very-different-sounding Parks and Ruby Rose Fox on Saturday night. Tune in for the latest episode of When Allston Metal Dudes Invade Cambridge and Stand At The TTs Bar Waiting For Brian E King To Stop Melodi-Fucking Their Denim Jackets, this weekend only in the Rumble!

K – K is for Kenmore Square. The now Disney-fied Comm Ave artery 'hood housed the first two Rumbles at the Rat (that long-gone Boston club that anyone who was there will never let you forget about) in ’79 and ‘80 before moving nearby to the Metro and Spot for the next few years. It then grew so big it hit the Orpheum in 1985, when the legendary O Positive took part and somehow didn’t win it all. Dafuq is that about?

L – L is for Lifestyle. All the kids traded in their guitars for keyboards a few years ago, but oddly Lifestyle is the lone synth-pop representation this year (CKG and Herra Terra do have electronic strains, but fall more on the rock side of the rainbow). Even more odd is Sean Drinkwater’s break between Rumbles: his “other band,” Freezepop, was a semi-finalist in 2001 (won by Bleu). A dozen years between Rumbles, that’s gotta be some sort of record, right? I’m sure some message board knows the answer to this.

M – M is for Mount Peru (Night 4, April 11). There will be a full day-and-a-half of rest before the easy-breezy Americana pop of Mount Peru open Thursday’s slate, and Thom Valicenti’s slide-away songwriting acumen found on last year’s Your Kingdom’s Come Undone EP might be enough to sway the judges early on. It’s also worth noting that Mount Peru’s Mary Flatley also plays in Cat Sounds. #meow.

N – N is for The New Highway Hymnal (Night 1, April 7). Yes, they are on my record label, Vanya Records. Yes, their noisy psych-punk is awesome. Otherwise they wouldn’t be on my label. Duh.

O – O is for The Okay Win (Night 1, April 7). Last year, the Grownup Noise had the opening slot on Night 1 of the Rumble, but had to bail due to a last minute “injury” to one of their members. This year’s the Okay Win have the honor of leading everything off, so we’ll toss them in a padded room and escort them to Cambridge tonight so theuy don’t get hurt. Could there be a Grownup Noise curse? What if all the opening bands sustain injuries and can’t play from here on out? Will there be a spot waiting for them at Capt. Carlo’s? If the Okay Win do get on stage unscathed, the chances of success are good for this indie-folk group; there’s even a sweet Larry Bird reference in their ode to the 1992 Olympic basketball Dream Team, “Good Hustle, Vol. 1.” So if any of the judges tonight are older than 35, that might be tough for the other bands to overcome.

P – P is for Parks (Night 6, April 13). With the first slot on the last night, we’re wading in deep Rumble waters before we get to the pop brilliance of Brian E. King. But that’s no matter. I hate predictions, but the perfect sunshine pop of Parks could (should, would?) win the whole fucking thing. At least they’ll make people smile and hold hands before Jack Burton Vs David Lo Pan punch us all in the balls right afterwards. Yay Rumble.

Q – Q is for Quit. As in, end your set when your time slot is up. There’s a fucking schedule here, everyone gets their 30 minutes to show off their songs, and the musical diversity of the lineups means there’s very little gear sharing and all different kinds of shit to be loaded on and off the stage. Don’t be a dickhead. That’s like, the only rule, outside of “Don’t cover the Dropkicks.” No one likes dickheads.

R – R is for Ruby Rose Fox (Night 6, April 13). A darkhorse candidate to advance, the neo-soul stylings of the Double-R-F will at least cleanse the room of JB vs DLP’s trail of sweat and metal mucus on Saturday. A lounge act with greater urgency, Ruby Rose Fox’s gripping vocals possess the same type of allure as those of Johnette Napolitano.

S – S is for Supermachine (Night 3, April 9), the Suicide Dolls (Night 5, April 12). Only a pair of S bands in this year’s dance, and neither are from Massachusetts. Small Stone Recordings’ Supermachine hail from Portsmouth, New Hampshire, and add some balls to this years class, tossing in some added stoner rock vibes that the judges tend to love. Meanwhile the Suicide Dolls trek up from the Great Highway Buffer State of Connecticut to drop a fireball of glitter-punk perfect for a Friday night spent looking for a fight.

T – T is for Twin Berlin (Night 4, April 11). Yes they sound a lot like the Strokes, and yes they won some weird competition that let them record something and play dress-up in Los Angeles with Travis Barker of Blink 182. But at their best, Twin Berlin are a full-frontal guitar-rock band with enough hooks to last a season of Wicked Tuna. Shame the drummer is a Flyers fan, though.

U – U is Upset. Why are predictions silly? Because every year the winner is a band no one saw coming. You called Vermont’s Bow Thayer & Perfect Trainwreck in advance last year? Prove it and I’ll let you write for Vanyaland. This year’s field, maybe more than ever before, is anyone’s game. There’s a compelling case for all 24 bands, which, now that I type this out, means there won’t be such a thing as an “upset” this year. But I’m not thinking of another “U” blurb so whatever.

V – V is for Velah (Night 1, April 7). And it rhymes with Stella. Or stellar if you’re from New England, and that’s just what Jen Johnson’s new band is. The singer with an enchanting voice that could soothe the mind of an amphetamine addict returns to the Rumble, which she played along with Velah drummer Mike Latulippe while in Static of the Gods back in 2011. A grand band with an opulent rock and roll sound fir for both dreams and nightmares.

W – W is for Whitcomb (Night 4, April 11) and White Dynomite (Night 5, April 12). The two W bands are face-kicking battle-beasts of boozy rock and roll: Maine’s Whitcomb douse Thursday’s fun slate with some major-league riffage, while Allston garage rock overlords White Dynomite take an intoxicated cheetah, dress it up in a fancy white suit, and train it to shit racket-roll bile all over Friday’s friendly slate.

X – X is for the Sex Execs. They lost to Til’ Tuesday in the 1983 Rumble, which also featured the Del Fuegos, Prime Movers, Mickey Bliss, Salem 66, Digney Fignus, Jerry’s Kids, and the Mike Viola Alliance.

Y – Y is for Glenn Yoder & the Western States (Night 3, April 9). The perfect-voiced Yoder has the chops to make a run, and as mentioned before, the judges tend to like the whole Americana thing these days (see Cask Mouse and Bow Thayer last year). But Yoder and his Western States have enough zing and zip to woo the rock-leaning decision-makers as well. Also, Glenn Yoder is dreamy as fuck.

Z – Z is for the Zzzzzzzz. Because we’ll all need some sleep after six great shows in seven short days.


Just kidding predictions are lame. That said, here it goes: Parks wins it all, with Glenn Yoder & the Western States and the Field Effect playing in one hell of a final party on Friday, April 26.

Or not.

Doesn’t matter.

Let's have fun. Boston rules.