New Music | Raccoon Fighter – I’m So Proud

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Yesterday, I instructed you to shake your butt. Today, Raccoon Fighter wants to countermand that order, saying “I don’t want you to shake it no more.” Well, when you listen to their new tune “I’m So Proud,” off their just-released EP Spiral Flag, I say to you: Good luck.

From the first second, you’re going to be, at the least, bobbing your head. Garage guitars with lots of jagged pauses, making me consider changing my air guitar routine in time for the Dark Horse competition (but I won’t, it’s in a week and that’s not enough time), and then distorted vocals kick in and – oh, look, see? You’re shaking it. Again. Just like they told you not to. Tsk tsk tsk.

Get more of this by picking up Spiral Flag right here!

Raccoon Fighter website / Facebook / Twitter

New Music | Moondog Matinee – Put Me Right

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Moondog Matinee hail from Reno. I don’t know much about Reno except for what I know from a Throw Rag song, but going by that metric, this feels just about right. It’s bluesy, singer Peter Barnato’s voice is so gravelly it sounds like he just ate a driveway, and “Put Me Right” is a song about things going wrong.

It starts out pretty subdued; then the horns and “hoo-hoo”s kick in at the chorus and you look up and you see your hands are in the air. I don’t know how it happens either! Things get a little funky farther in, so if you look down and you see your butt is shaking, don’t blame me.

Have yourself a quick little sweaty dance party to “Put Me Right” right now (it’s a sweaty party because it’s about 90,000 degrees out today, obviously – everything you do is going to be sweaty), and watch out for their album Carry Me, Rosie coming out August 25th!

New Music | Big Scary – Organism

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Hardly a band to be nailed down by style, Australia’s Big Scary duo of Tom Iansek and Jo Syme crafted this quirky pop song, Organism, that’s got a dance vibe with little stabs from the deep end of a saxophone. In my head it’s reminiscent of a Menomena tune, and it’s got me dancing in my chair.

The band is taking the song and some others on the road to cut their teeth before recording, and we’ll see them here in Boston at the beginning of October.

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New Music | Yuck – Hold Me Closer

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As soon as you press play, and the distortion kicks in, the fuzz blows into your ears, there’s a pop connection on this new track from Brit rockers, Yuck. I don’t think Yuck is being held back at all from losing their former frontman, “Hold Me Closer,” is a gem, full of those 90s guitars and lo-fi vocals that we’ve come to love (again?!). This track and a handful of US shows is all we know about any upcoming album (out sometime in 2016). I for one need to hear more and would like to see a Boston date as soon as possible.

Yuck’s tour dates:

08/05 Philadelphia, PA @ Johnny’s Brenda
08/06 New York, NY @ River Rocks / Pier 84
08/07 Baltimore, MD @ Metro Gallery
08/08 Raleigh, NC @ Kings
08/09 Atlanta, GA @ The Wrecking Ball

Show Preview | Gaetana Brown

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Friends, this is something special. I have the privilege of inviting you to a solo acoustic show by Gaetana Brown of Little War Twins, on my back porch, on July 31st.

She is touring the region playing house and porch and yard shows, taking donations at each show to fund her tour. And one of those tour stops will be with us, and, hopefully, with you.

Perhaps you’re not familiar with her work. Little War Twins began here in the Boston area as a larger band but has coalesced to just Gaetana on guitar and vocals, and her now-fiancé Trick James on drums (congratulations, you two crazy kids!). They’ve spent the past couple of years traveling the eastern seaboard as musical nomads, and during that time, Gaetana has also begun playing solo acoustic shows of her own material, Little War Twins songs, and other songs that she loves. Expect that mix at the porch show!

Her sound is anchored by a powerful voice; she packs so much emotion and such a big sound into every note. And trying to describe her songs sends me into such a hippie word spiral – words like “magical” and “mystical” and “warm, enveloping cocoon.” But the show isn’t just for unreconstructed old folkies like me – while, sure, this show may be a little bit less hard-driving since it’s just her and her acoustic guitar (and those pipes), there is a strong indie-rock current in her sound, and you’ll feel it in your chest. Have a listen to her performing “Hidden Dark” in the video above to get an idea.

Since this show is literally in my backyard, I’ll direct you to this Facebook event to RSVP. If Facebook is not your jam, you can use the comments of this post to let me know to expect you. As I mentioned earlier, rather than selling tickets ahead of time, this is a donation-based show, so expect us to pass the hat at the end.

I hope to see you there!

New Music | Foxtails Brigade – Far Away and Long Ago

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The members of San Francisco band Foxtails Brigrade are readying the release of their third album and have recently signed with Oakland-based label OIM records. What better way is there to celebrate the happy tidings than to release a spectacular new single and wonderfully creepy accompanying video? After listening to the song, and watching the video a few times, the answer is no other way.

Featuring beautifully arranged strings, which waltz around lead singer Laura Weinbach’s haunting voice, the imagery in the video perfectly blends the band’s orchestral sound with the eerie visions created by Dominic Mercurio, drummer for the band and director of the nightmare.

I’m pretty excited to hear more from the upcoming new album and happy to be able to share “Far Away and Long Ago” with you fine people! I just know it will turn your Wednesday blahs into Wednesday Adams.

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Review | Metric @ TD Garden

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Or, How I Spent My Canada Day.

Seriously, what could be more appropriate than watching one of your favourite Canadian bands (note correct spelling) on Canada Day, from the floor of a hockey stadium? I guess I could have been doing it while swigging a Kokanee or shoveling poutine into my mouth, but those weren’t options on the table.

I’ve been a big fan of Metric since the early 2000s, when a friend turned me onto them via a mix cd in college (welcome to the most early-2000s sentence you’ve read today). Not to say I’m an obsessive fangirl or anything, but my air guitar song this year was an edit of “Empty,” so draw your own conclusions, I guess. Anyway, it’s great to see bands whose quality you’ve always known about be recognized by a wider audience. I got to witness some kids encountering the band for the first time and being instantly converted to fans. They also started yelling “HAPPY CANADA DAY!” which was nice of them.

The first song they played, “Stadium Love,” was the last song they had played the last time I saw them here, a few years back, which was a neat little loop to execute. I commenced losing my mind immediately, throwing my fist up from the first chorus, singing along, the whole thing. And when the song ends on Emily Haines’ bell-clear tone ringing out, my heart just soared out of my chest and up to the rafters and through all the sports banners and then came gently back down to rest.

The setlist was focused mainly around the two most recent albums, Synthetica and Fantasies, with some new stuff off the upcoming album, Pagans in Vegas, mixed in. But whichever songs they played, it was impossible to tear your eyes away from the stage. At one point, Haines suddenly had a cape on – a gauzy, floaty purple behemoth that trailed after her and flew up into the air over air vents that I couldn’t see from my vantage point. Capes: why not more?

I was fortunate enough to be on guitarist James Shaw’s side of the stage, so I got to watch him take great joy in playing, and doing all the sweet moves I hoped he would, being someone who pretended to play his same instrument on one of his same songs. I wonder if that’s an honour or a huge embarrassment that he’ll be teased about on tour forever, to find out that someone air guitared to him. I’m hoping for the former, but I get it if it’s the latter.

Speaking of playing guitar, at one point, Haines picked up her guitar and asked the crowd if any girls in attendance played. The cheer could, honestly, have been louder – step it up, young ladies of Boston, and also enroll your little sisters (or daughters) in Girls Rock Camp – but it was heartfelt from those girls who could boast of guitar prowess, and the rest of the women in the room were instructed to give it a try. I would amend that to say that you could also pretend to play guitar; that’s pretty fun as well.

I obviously need to get my mitts on the new album the moment it comes out, and you probably do too. You can pre-order it here. In the meantime, you may also enjoy the video for the new single, “The Shade.”

Metric website / Facebook / Twitter

Review | Sugar and the Hi-Lows @ Great Scott

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If there’s anybody reading this who lived in JP more than say 3 or 4 years ago, you’ll know the special appeal of Sugar and the Hi-Lows. See, there was this grocery store called the Hi-Lo, and it was kind of iffy some of the time – once I found a meat package with a bone poking out through the plastic, and you had to be really selective about your produce – but it was cheap and it served the community for decades, and it had a super sweet 60s sign. Naturally, it got bought out and turned into a Whole Foods.

I hope that this band does not get turned into a Whole Foods.

Let’s back up. Last week, I went down to Allston to see Sugar and the Hi-Lows at Great Scott. They were supported by fellow Nashville artist Marc Scibilia, with whom they have made a little tour family. It was sweet to see how much they enjoy each other’s company.

Scibilia got the evening started with a bluesy number that actually did not set the tone for the rest of his set at all (although it did prefigure Sugar and the Hi-Lows!). After that one was out of the way, his set swung between cheery, low-key, beachy numbers and uptempo 80s-inflected pop, with one important exception: he covered “This Land is Your Land,” and you might be thinking “who covers that? Is this a campaign rally?” but you are wrong, he had this whole minor-key thing going that imbued it with so much sarcasm and grim truth that it was perfect. It would have been pretty tone-deaf to sing it straight at a time like this, when the truth of just whose land this land is is being brought to the forefront, so I appreciated this take on it a great deal.

When Sugar and the Hi-Lows took the stage, the very first thing that happened was that Amy Stroup was holding her tambourine all weirdly horizontal, and it was super noticeable, and by the end of the first song we knew why: she hit it, and it was full of glitter, and there was a glitter explosion all over the stage. YES. If you don’t know how I feel about glitter explosions all over the stage, you don’t know what I do for kicks. Side note, this particular glitter explosion/glitter snort won Boston this year.

Their songs are all over town in terms of sound. From country crooners to the fancied-up party vibe of the title track off their new album, “High Roller,” making all stops in between, they kept the crowd hopping except when they slowed us right down. But a highlight was a cover of “Jackson,” which, to be fair, I am nearly always on board with. But theirs was particularly good. Also, I can only expect good things out of a band with a song called “2 Day High.”

I would like to let the band know that when there is a dramatic pause in the middle of a song, as in “I Think I Said Too Much,” that is a perfect time for what The Guilloteenagers have coined as a “beer solo.” You can do it with any drink of your choice; you just spend that pause taking a healthy swig of your hooch. Just think about it, is all I’m saying.

You can pick up the new album, High Roller, right here.

Sugar & the Hi-Lows website / Facebook / Twitter

Video | It Was Romance – Philadelphia

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I’m posting this today for two reasons. One, this video has been out for a hot minute already and I’ve been slacking on posting it, so let’s get this show on the road, but also two, this band is called It Was Romance. You know what else is romance? Gay-marrying the hell out of someone you love. So, as you see, it’s appropriate to share this today and I’m not just super, super late.

It Was Romance is the project of Lane Moore, who is perhaps one of the best and most hilarious people on the planet today. I apologize for the intensity of my admiration, in case she is reading this, because as a stranger that’s probably creepy, but she judged at the Brooklyn air guitar qualifier, so she’s part of the family now.

So let’s talk about the song! “Philadelphia” is so chock-full of aching and longing that it’s surprising how upbeat it is; she describes perfectly the way it is to have a conversation with someone you’re crazy about but maybe haven’t quite broken that news to them yet, where you fill in the blanks of what they said and didn’t say to determine what they “meant,” and who hasn’t done that: “You say that you would miss me so / but not in so many words.” Her voice has this startling, gorgeous twang to it, laid over a velvety foundation, and it sounds like an old-time country crooner signed up for a rock band. The video sees Moore dressing as the cast of Cry-Baby, by which I mean specifically Traci Lords’ and Johnny Depp’s characters, to fantastic effect.

You can listen to (and purchase!) the self-titled album, which came out last month, on the It Was Romance bandcamp, which I recommend. Songs about regret and terrible friends and are-we-or-aren’t-we relationships, plus a Fleetwood Mac cover! What could you be waiting for?

Review | Bully – Feels Like

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Oh, god, I’m in love.

I realize that my experience is not everyone’s. I realize that not all of you are women who grew up in the 90s, and for those of you who are not, this might not be as perfect as it is for me. But a) if you are, come sit by me, and b) if you’re not, give Bully a whirl anyway.

Here’s what you’re in for: Alicia Bognanno’s throat-tearing screams giving way to singing with a delicate, almost girlish quality, sometimes within the same song (shades of the Muffs, and, in terms of vocal codeswitching, the Midnight Creeps). Melodies straight out of 90s alt-rock, which is a compliment, in case you’re wondering. And subject matter ranging from puking in cars to breaking your sister’s arm to praying for your period. Indeed, how could you sing about any of those things without running your vocal cords ragged?

That’s a major theme of this entire album: everything in life is so fraught and so laden down with meaning or memory that it’s almost crushing you, and if you remember being a teenager or a young adult, you remember. The incredible song “Brainfreeze” sounds like a typical story of youthful hijinks, tearing around in the woods and climbing on the roof and whatnot, until you realize that nearly everything she mentions is a close call with disaster and it’s a litany of ways she didn’t die. Do you remember being 12 or so and being on the horrible cusp of everything changing? Some people have to respond by using up all their immortality while they have it, and secretly hoping that maybe they don’t still have it and can escape what is rushing towards them.

Leadoff track “I Remember” rips through 2 minutes of moments from a failed relationship in that blistering scream, to the point that your own throat feels raw after listening, and your soul feels raw as if it had all happened to you.

And you may recall where I stand on bands having a theme song. Well, Bully has a song called “Bully,” dealing with internalizing the things your bully tells you, and I think that fits the bill nicely. The bully is external but it becomes you; if this isn’t instantly familiar, we had a very different time growing up.

Feels Like comes out today! Get it immediately at the Bully website. And consider your needs in regard to seeing them live. You just missed them a week or so ago at the Paradise, and so did I, but they’ll be back as part of the next Boston Calling (the one in the fall). If you, like me, always feel like there’s one or maybe two bands at those festivals you want to see, now you know who the band you want to see next time around is.

Bully website / Facebook / Twitter