Posts Tagged ‘Boston’

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Boston duo Vundabar released their fourth studio album earlier this year, “Either Light”. On the same day, they postponed the majority of their headlining tour in support of the album from March to July. The record comes at a difficult time for everyone, and the music industry taking an especially notable hit. In a world shrouded in darkness, Either Light serves as a beacon of hope, grappling with the existential nihilism on everyone’s mind with the help of twinkling guitars and frontperson Brandon Hagen’s unique vocal delivery.

Many rock bands make the pivot to synth-pop—with varying degrees of success. Though my perception of them is skewed by their scrappy, rambunctious live shows, Boston indie rockers Vundabar were actually the perfect candidate for this pivot, given that their previous albums had hints of surf, new wave and post-punk—all especially danceable forms of music. The band’s latest album, “Either Light”, which dropped earlier this year, sees them dive headfirst into the pop world—drum machines, sequencers, layered vocals, synths and all. When the sassy, melodic promo single “Burned Off,” came out a few months ago, I was blown away, but I hadn’t returned to the rest of the album until now. While “Burned Off” offers wonderfully over-the-top new wave vocals likely Brandon Hagen’s best and most emotive lead vocal performance to date “Petty Crime” is indie-dance-meets-punk-pop gold and “Never Call” has one of the most earworm-y riffs I’ve heard this year. As playful as it is, it’s also particularly wistful and mature in sound and sentiment, recalling Echo and the Bunnymen, Talk Talk and XTC at times—it’s a slick record, but it also has the girth of catchy, dynamic songwriting behind it.

‘Either Light’ out March 13th 2020 on Gawk Records

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Week #7 of Lockdown brings a beautiful lullaby, and one of the most thoroughly covered songs ever written. I heard it first from Mama Cass on her very great album “Bubblegum, Lemonade &… Something For Mama“, some time maybe a 100 years later, I sang it with my friend Will Dailey at a show curated by our mutual friend (and Will’s longtime drummer/collaborator)) Dave Brophy, the theme of the night being rock singers singing jazz standards. So when this one was suggested as a cover for this series by my dear pal Vicky Salipande (and few after her), I immediately thought of Will as guest artist. He is one of my favourite collaborators and hangs ~ crazy talented, and a big heart of gold.
Every week (and always) I’m blown away by the tracks Joe and Russell send me, and this week is particularly over-the-moon beautiful. Our bonus track this week is an instrumental version of this same song, because I want you to hear it. (And give you space to sing it yourself.)
In lockdown, Will has been fundraising (significantly) for non-salary venue staff, musicians, and the community of Chelsea, with his streaming Isolation shows ~ as well as creating a fundraiser to be broadcast on June 9th called “All In For Chelsea”, a live concert that will combine music performances and short interviews with people on the ground who are working to lift up the hardest hit community in Massachusetts, and which will benefit the Chelsea One Fund. www.facebook.com/willdailey
This week’s donations will go to NAACP Legal Defense Fund.
Sending you all the usual hopes for health and love, and Justice.
xx,
Tanya, Joe, Russell, and this week’s guest ~ Will Dailey
 

Released May 31st, 2020

Tanya: vocals
Joe McMahon: upright bass, piano
Russell Chudnofsky: acoustic guitars
Will Dailey: vocals, dreamy electric

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Galaxie 500 formed in Boston, MA in 1986 and comprised vocalist/guitarist Dean Wareham (a transplanted New Zealand native), bassist Naomi Yang and drummer Damon Krukowski, long time friends who first met in high school in New York City before all three attended Harvard University. Wareham and Krukowski initially teamed in the short-lived Speedy and the Castanets, which split after their bass player experienced a religious conversion; upon re-forming, the duo recruited Yang to play bass, although she had no prior musical experience.

Named after a friend’s car, Galaxie 500 began performing live throughout Boston and New York before recording a three-song demo tape which they sent to Shimmy Disc honcho Kramer, who agreed to become the trio’s producer. In early 1988 the single “Tugboat” was released, followed by their full-length debut album “Today”.

After signing to the U.S. branch of Rough Trade, Galaxie 500 issued 1989’s “On Fire”, including the single Blue Thunder. After a limited-edition 7″ vinyl release featuring live renditions of Rain and Don’t Let Our Youth Go To Waste released through Bob Stanley of Saint Etienne’s Caff Corporation recorded at CBGB’s, the group returned in 1990 with “This Is Our Music”, including the single Fourth of July and a cover of Listen, The Snow Is Falling. Following a subsequent tour, Galaxie 500 disbanded after Wareham phoned Yang and Krukowski to say he was quitting the group.

A few months later, after Wareham formed his new band, Luna, Rough Trade went bankrupt, and with the label’s demise went the trio’s three albums, as well as their royalties.

In 1991, at an auction of Rough Trade’s assets, Krukowski purchased the master tapes for the group’s music, and five years later the Rykodisc label issued a box set containing Galaxie 500’s complete recorded output; a previously unreleased 1990 live set, dubbed Copenhagen, followed in 1997. In the meantime, after first resurfacing under the name Pierre Etoile, Krukowski and Yang later recorded as Damon and Naomi; additionally, the duo served as the rhythm section for the Wayne Rogers-led Magic Hour.

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For the first time ever on vinyl, a special limited edition of Galaxie 500’s only live recording, “Copenhagen” . Galaxie 500’s last show of their last European tour was captured to 24-track tape by Danish National Radio on December 1st, 1990, and first released (on CD only) by Rykodisc in 1997, following the success of their 1996 box set reissue of all Galaxie 500’s studio albums.

Copenhagen “is a bullet to the head of those who maintain that the band was best heard on record,” as critic/sage Byron Coley has written.”It is abundantly clear, as the trio spirals through an inspired set of covers and originals, that the introverted disengagement of their early live work has been replaced by a unique, powerful and controlled presence that allows them to deliver the goods emotionally as well as sonically. The blend of heart and hand is stunning.” Mark Richardson wrote in Pitchfork: “The live album, Copenhagen, which is heavy on songs from This Is Our Music and in almost every case improves upon them, turns out to be the ideal closing chapter.

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During the 1990 show in Denmark, Galaxie 500 play magnificently to what sounds like a pretty small crowd. But that small crowd is into it. Sometimes bands work like that.They never made it big, but during their short run, Galaxie 500’s often quiet and always beautifully rendered music had a profound impact on a few people, including this writer. It needs to stay out there, where it has a chance of finding a few more.

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An official Record Store Day release, co-sponsored by Dogfish Head Craft Brewed Ales, who are releasing a limited edition Danish-style beer to enjoy alongside, and staging a RSD 2020 live tribute to Galaxie 500 at Brooklyn’s Rough Trade Records featuring Magnetic Fields, Xiu Xiu, Surfer Blood and others.

Recorded live by Danish National Radio, 1990, This 3-sided double LP (side 4 is custom etching) Limited edition of 2000 black vinyl copies. 

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Memory looms large on Horse Jumper of Love’s hypnotic sophomore album, ‘So Divine,’ but it remains elusive. Throughout the record, tiny snapshots from the past float to the surface, baring themselves for brief moments before diving back into the ether. Like abstract collages, the Boston-based three-piece’s songs jumble richly detailed scenes and vivid imagery, papering over one moment with the next until each string of seemingly unrelated thoughts coalesces into a breathtaking work of art, one that reveals deep truths about ourselves and our psyches.

“A lot of these songs are about making small things into huge deals,” says guitarist/singer Dimitri Giannopoulos. “They all start with these very specific little memories that, for some reason or another, have stuck in my mind. Memories morph and change over time, though, and they become freighted with all these different meanings. We’re constantly adding to them.”

The same could be said of Horse Jumper of Love’s music. Giannopolous wrote much of what would become ‘So Divine’ as a teenager, carrying the tunes with him as skeletal demos for years before bringing them to his bandmates (bassist John Margaris and drummer Jamie Vadala-Doran) to flesh out in the studio. Even then, the songs continued to grow and mutate, with the group recording multiple iterations of the album as they experimented with tempo and technique.

“I’d dropped out of college and was living at home when I first started writing these songs,” Giannopolous remembers. “I was staying up all night recording in the basement because I didn’t feel like I had any other options. It was either make music or feel terrible about my life.”

Giannopolous found kindred spirits in Margaris and Vadala-Doran, and after moving out on his own, he officially launched Horse Jumper of Love in 2013, taking the group’s moniker from a Latin phrase that had gotten more than a little lost in translation. The band would spend the next three years refining their studio craft and live show, garnering a devoted following playing DIY gigs around New England as they climbed their way into what Pitchfork described as “the top tier of the Boston house show scene.” In 2016, they released their self-titled debut to rave reviews, with NPR praising the band’s “slow, syrupy rock songs” as “cautiously measured and patiently curious” and Stereogum hailing their “delightfully distorted mess of energy.” In 2017, the group released a vinyl and digital re-issue of the album along with a limited edition demo anthology.

When it was time begin work on ‘So Divine,’ Horse Jumper of Love headed south and set up shop at Big Nice, a riverside warehouse-turned studio in Lincoln, RI. While many of the tracks they planned to record dated back to Giannopolous’ youth, several were so new that they hadn’t even been demoed yet, offering up a blank slate for the band’s methodical sonic explorations.

“We decided to go in blind and just see what would happen,” explains Giannopoulos. “The studio was this really great and open environment with incredible gear, so everyone felt totally free to try whatever they wanted.”

The result is a record that breaks new ground even as it stays the course, emphasizing the band’s keen eye for detail and muscular arrangements. Songs develop at a glacial pace, progressing forward with almost imperceptible momentum as they carve deep canyons and valleys through walls of solid rock.

“My approach to songwriting has always been really gentle,” says Giannopoulos. “Everything starts with an acoustic guitar, but then I bring the music to Jamie and John and they really beef it up. I love everything they do, so production is a joint effort between all three of us.”

The record opens with “Airport,” a mesmerizing tune that builds from a whisper to a roar as washed out cymbals and fuzzy electric guitars swirl into a frenzied maelstrom. The song proves to be an ideal entry point for an album all about the power of escalation, about the ways tiny, seemingly inconsequential moments can snowball into profound revelations in our mind. Spilled yogurt leads to an existential crisis on the driving “Volcano,” while a childhood day at the beach turns into an out of body experience on the hazy “Poison.”

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“Who isn’t freaked out by life as a teenager?” Giannopoulos recalled in an interview with the popular Boston blog Allston Pudding. “I had a phase when I was sixteen or seventeen where I thought nothing was real. Like, I thought I was living in a constant dream…I needed a way to cope with that, so I wrote these songs.”

Giannopoulos’s lyrics are brief but dense, often without a rhyme in sight. Some songs gush with a beat poet’s stream of consciousness, others consist only of a single recurring line recited over and over like some sort of abstract prayer. With an unhurried, deliberate delivery, such phrases seem to gain new shades of meaning with each repetition, or at the very least, challenge us to create our own.

“There’s not [just] one message,” Giannopoulos told WRBB, suggesting that in the end, no matter what you think the band’s songs are about, you’re right.

Perhaps that’s ultimately the divinity to which the title refers. What’s more holy, after all, than drawing meaning from the mundane? The memories we carry with us are not fixed, but fluid, able to change shape and fill whatever purpose we assign to them. Horse Jumper of Love aims to do precisely that with their music, and it’s a divine thing indeed.

Originally released June 28th, 2019

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Hello, and welcome to Sunday Series No. 5!
I’ve been reading a lot of Wallace Stevens in the past few days, and I keep coming back to a poem called The House Was Quiet and The World Was Calm (opposite to current experience) and this bit in particular:  “The words were spoken as if there was no book, Except that the reader leaned above the page,

Wanted to lean, wanted much most to be The scholar to whom his book is true, to whom,The summer night is like a perfection of thought. The house was quiet because it had to be.”

I love this image of leaning into something that you know will lead to growth, something true. I won’t wax on about Bob Dylan’s impact on my love for lyrics — endless others have expressed what he’s given to us far more eloquently than I ever could — but the leaning reader in this poem pretty well describes how I have always listened to him. Like reading a great book — that rush of receiving a perfect string of words. I always lean in.

Released May 17th, 2020

“Knockin‘ On Heaven’s Door” (Written by Dylan)

Tanya: vocal, guitar
Russell Chudnofsky: acoustic guitar
Joe McMahon: piano
Dean Fisher: snare, tambourine
Lilia Halpern: vocals, guitar

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This week’s chosen song track, The Pixies’ Here Comes Your Man, was requested by our friend Steve Gisselbrecht, in honour of his husband Tom Wethern’s birthday. I love these two people, and feel so happy and honored to help Steve wish Tom a Happy Birthday in this way. And joining us this week are our supah special guests, some of my sisters from Band Of Their Own ~ Gail, Hilken, Magen, Kay, Melissa, Michelle, JenD, Amy! Also joining is guest drummer and producer Dave Brophy, man of many talents and awards. (And one of the funniest people I know.)

This is not the first time I’ve sung for Tom W on his birthday ~ the first time was several years ago at one of Boston’s most loved clubs, Great Scott, one of those special rooms that just feels good and sounds great, and a musical home to some of my favorite people and musicians. Very very sadly, Tim Philbin announced this past week that Great Scott won’t be reopening post-lockdown. This is a deep blow and loss for our musical community, and for Joe McMahon, who was on GS staff.

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From Joe:
“On behalf of our staff, I want to take this opportunity

released May 3rd, 2020

Here Comes Your Man (Black Francis)
The Band:
Tanya: vocals
Russell Chudnofsky: acoustic and electric guitars
Joe McMahon: bass and keys
Gail Greenwood: electric guitar
Dave Brophy: drums
Vocals ~ Melissa Gibbs, Jenny Dee, Kay Hanley, Hilken Mancini, Michelle Paulhus, Amy Griffin, Magen Tracy, Gail Greenwood

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Pandemics rage! Economies totter! Political systems rot! — and the environment circles the drain..Micro-legendary DIY Garage-Pop-Psych provocateurs! Evolutionary genre grinders practicing art-damaged power pop, rock, crunch, jangle and general mind-infiltration..

What better time for The Prefab Messiahs to set it all up, lay it all out, and burn it all down? “21st Century Failure” is a take-no-prisoners anthem tailor-made for those socially isolated moments when only a ranting, post-punk-psych-garage-pop-rave up will do!

The track was performed SAFELY and RESPONSIBLY in three separate SOCIALLY ISOLATED LOCALES by Xeerox Feinberg, Doc Michaud, and Trip Thompson.

Friends, let’s call this situation what it is — a “21st Century Failure”!
That’s also the name of our new track, coming to Bandcamp and all the streamers on April 10th

‘Sun Racket’ is the brand new album from legendary Boston trio Throwing Muses, consisting of Kristin Hersh, David Narcizo and Bernard Georges. The follow up to 2013’s ‘Purgatory/Paradise’ is an outpouring of modal guitars, reverbed shapes, echoey drums and driving bass set behind Kristen Hersh’s well-thumbed notebook of storylines.
A ten-song opus of suitably wrought tales set against a wall of sound that’s at once calm and ethereal before building into glorious cacophonous crescendos.
When Throwing Muses wrote their last album, they were shattered. Pieces were coming and going, elements repeating and charging the whole. “It sounded beautiful jumping around like that”. Two-minute songs reappearing as twisted instrumentals or another song’s bridge.
They mimicked the effect live which kept them on their toes. Whatever was happening was already over in other words. ‘Sun Racket’ is the opposite. It refused to do anything but sit still. It says, “sit here and deal”.
“All it asked of us was to comingle two completely disparate sonic vocabularies: one heavy noise, the other delicate music box.

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Turns out we didn’t have to do much. Sun Racket knew what it was doing and pushed us aside, which is always best. After thirty years of playing together, we trust each other implicitly but we trust the music more” –
Kristin Hersh

Releases May 22nd, 2020

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Boston duo Vundabar (Brandon Hagen and Drew McDonald) released a new album, “Either Light”, today via Gawk Records. On Wednesday they shared one last pre-release single from it, album opener “Out of It.” And then today they shared a video for another song.

Holler Film directed the “Out of It” video, which features the band in the back of a moving car, on a rowboat, and in other situations.

Vundabar will release their new album Either Light the follow-up to 2018’s Smell Smoke, which we called “the intersection of personal and political punk.” The Boston band are sure to deliver more fierce social and introspective rock on their new release, which was produced by Patrick Hyland.

Previously Vundabar shared Either Light’s first single, “Burned Off,” via a playful video for the track. Then the band shared another song from the album, “Petty Crime,” via an amusing self-directed video for the track inspired by The Sopranos. Then they shared another song from the album, “Montage Music,” via a lyric video Either Light the follow-up to 2018’s Smell Smokeand finds the band working with a producer for the first time, Patrick Hyland (Mitski).

Hagen had this to say aboutEither Lightin a previous press release: “The album is about the transitional lightness that follows a period of heaviness. After years of being caught up in a dark period marked by sickness, strife and worry, and using it as the context in which I saw myself, I suddenly found I’d outgrown that story. With that came a feeling of lightness that was opposite the feeling which preceded it.”

‘Either Light’ out March 13th 2020 on Gawk Records