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

Photos + Review | Andrew Combs @ Atwood’s Tavern

Andrew Combs at Atwood's Tavern
Photos by Boston Concert Photography

On Tuesday, June 16th the music loving folks of the greater Boston area who gathered at the fantastic Atwood’s Tavern were treated to a night of genuine country charm and twang from Tennessee troubadour Andrew Combs and his terrific band. The Texas-born singer-songwriter currently calls Nashville home and his love of his adopted city was clear on stage that night, as each song made everyone in attendance feel like true southerners for a spell.

With two stellar albums, an EP, and a number of singles to select from, the setlist hit all the right notes. The bona fide country-rockers rocked, the folk-twinged numbers rolled, hell even the snozberries tasted like snozberries! Wonkinean references aside, the point I am trying to get across is that Andrew Combs live on stage delivers on everything you expect from a musician so perfectly in tune with his surroundings, and his guitar. Combs and his bandmates play with the same fire in front of 100 people in an intimate venue as they do for 1,000 festival goers in a vast field.

Touring in support of his new album, All These Dreams, released in March via Coin Records, the set featured a number of new tunes that had the Combs’ crowd singing along and raising their drinks as if it were not a weeknight. Kicking off the show with the boot-scootin’ track “Foolin’,” the boys switched gears quickly to a few quieter numbers, “Heavy,” and “Please Please Please,” off of the debut record Worried Man. After a quick apology for the softer songs (none was needed) they went into my favorite from the new album, “Strange Bird,” which features some of the finest whistling this side of a certain Andrew Bird.

With some deep cuts thrown in (much to the audience’s liking I must point out) and the always crowd pleasing closing number, “Emily,” our hearty Bostonian souls were transported to the Music City, and the small Atwood’s Tavern stage seemed as large as the Grand Ole Opry.

Check out the videos and photos our very own Steve Benoit took of the evening. We were lucky enough to catch a great new song titled “Silk Flowers” that you can enjoy below. Be sure to catch Andrew Combs live when he rolls into your town…you won’t be disappointed!

Andrew Combs – Silk Flowers – Atwood’s 06.16.15
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Andrew Combs – All These Dreams – Atwood’s 06.16.15
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Andrew Combs – Strange Bird – Atwood’s 06.16.15
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Video | Shannon and the Clams – Corvette

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Shannon and the Clams are costumey. Shannon and the Clams are 50s-ey with shimmering surfy guitars. Shannon and the Clams are a good time, if “Corvette” is any indication.

Not that the song is one big party. It’s wracked with loneliness and regret, about something that felt like the real thing but turned out to be just another sham. But the sound and the performance make me feel like their shows are riveting, and they have plenty of upbeat songs to get everyone at your dance party doing the Monkey.

But let’s talk about this video. It pulls in 3 time periods, by my count – it starts out looking like what music videos would look like if they existed during silent film times (I know that doesn’t make much sense but stay with me), gets cartoonishly, garishly 50s when singer Shannon Shaw is tooling around in a Corvette with her fella, and then, when she’s “waiting for a Corvette that never comes,” she’s in a depressed, washed-out, post-bust small town – any town where the boom of the 50s has cratered and never been built back up. This is smart pop and sad pop and sometimes it’s weird pop, and you need it.

Shannon and the Clams are heading out on tour shortly in support of their latest album, Gone by the Dawn; they’ll swing through Boston on October 19th, at Great Scott. At least one of their tour dates is with John Waters. John Waters!

Shannon and the Clams website / Facebook

Review | Love Love Record Release Party w/ Tanya Donelly, The Needy Sons, Jenny Dee & The Deelinquents

 

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On the last Saturday in May the one and only Lizard Lounge threw a ginormous record release party to celebrate Love Love’s eponymous debut album and pretty much all of Boston’s best musicians showed up to support the well loved-loved duo. If you are from these parts, and have a musical pulse, you know just how exciting it is to see all of your favorites in one club, on one stage, playing songs that make your head and heart soar. All the bands are friends, and all that friendship poured out into the audience in waves of hometown rock n’ roll goodness.

Kicking off the local music festival was Massachusetts muse Tanya Donelly. When you think of the bands that put New England on the indie-rock map she was in three of the most beloved, and to be able to see her play in such an intimate venue is one of the best things about living in this city. It was pretty clear that everyone else in the crowd felt the same way the moment Donelly and her band (which includes husband Dean  Fisher of The Juliana Hatfield Three) took the stage. Playing songs that spanned her illustrious career, including “Slow Dog” from Belly’s Star album and “Mass Ave” from her recent EP Swan Song Series (Vol. 1), the set electrified the space.

Next up on the Boston band bill was Bill Janovitz’s latest project The Needy Sons, a band consisting of the Buffalo Tom vocalist and guitar player, Mike Gent (vocalist/guitarist of Figgs, The Gentlemen), Ed Valauskas (bass player of The Gravel Pit, Jenny Dee and The Deelinquents), and Eric Anderson (drummer for Jenny Dee and The Deelinquents). Playing an eight song set of new material and covers, which included a track titled “The Swimmer” that may be released on a new Buffalo Tom album, Janovitz and crew rocked out like a band that has been together forever. They were joined by Tanya towards the end of the set for a cover of Carley Simon’s “Your So Vain,” a song which pretty much begs for a sing-a-long, and the audience obliged.

The evening’s guests of honor, Chris Toppin and Jefferson Davis Riordan, took the stage to rousing applause as the band squeezed in to fill up the floor. A three-piece horn section joined the duo, along with bass, drums, and slide guitar, to bring the songs on the debut album to life. Toppin is well known for her time with 90’s dreamy alt-band Fuzzy and her indie-rock sensibility is stronger than ever with her newest project. Formed in 2013, Love Love is the sound of two extremely talented singer-songwriters, joining together in life and music, to create songs that bring out the best in both artists. The set focused largely on the new release and the chemistry between bandmates was evident right from the start. They are currently working on a national release, so until you can buy the album you can listen here.

Closing out the night was hometown favorite Jenny Dee & The Deelinquents, yet another band consisting of members who have made names for themselves in other well-known bands such as Papas Fritas, The Gentlemen, The Rudds, and The Gravel Pit. In fact, Ed Valauskas has played a part (either performing or producing) with almost every band/musician on stage for the show. Jenny and the crew were in fine, 60’s pop, form on every number and everyone in the venue was clapping and dancing along. The Deelinquents have honed their live show so perfectly the 8-piece band could perform in a closet and still be perfectly choreographed.

I feel bad for those that missed out on this party. All of these great local musicians in one place, switching back and forth between bands as effortlessly as good friends do, and rocking the night away. It was a helluva time!

Hey look… I took some snaps of the fun.

 

 

Show Preview | Hot Chip @ House of Blues Boston

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England’s electronic engineers of dance-rock, Hot Chip, will be energizing an elated crowd of Bostonians tomorrow night at the House of Blues and your mission, should you choose to accept, is to get yourself on down to Lansdowne Street and join in on what is sure to be a good time.

Touring in support of the newly released album, Why Make Sense?, the band has been assimilating fans by the masses with their patented brand of hypnotically-introspective, synthesized grooves that continuously flow from stage to crowd like an astral river of energetic sound.

Witness this sensory overload for yourselves this Thursday night when Hot Chip take over our fair city for an evening of rock n’ roll meant to get your heart-rate elevated and pulse pounding. Make sure your Fitbits are set accordingly.

Here’s a video of Hot Chip performing “Huarache Lights” at BBC 6 Music Festival 2015 if further evidence is needed on why you should attend.

Door Time: 7:00pm Show Time: 8:00pm. All Ages.

London musician Sinkane opens. Get there early and check him out!

Show and ticket information

Hot Chip 2015 Tour Dates

New Music | The Afternoon Edition – Canyon Lights

The Afternoon Edition

Really really loving the sounds coming from New York’s The Afternoon Edition, and their new single “Canyon Lights.” The band consists of brothers, Connor and Shane Noetzel, and friend Bryan Gallio, who are modernizing a sound honed from Americana forebears The Byrds or the Band, and rolling in more contemporary balladry with small flourishes and tinges of country. It’s a nice mix, that has some strong popular appeal and only whets our appetite for more from the band.

Look for “Canyon Lights” to appear on the bands upcoming release Fallow, out this summer.

More from The Afternoon Edition | Web | Facebook | Twitter

New Music | Shopping – In Other Words w/ b-side You Are A Sort (Don’t Call Me)

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I was recently lamenting with friends on the state of post-punk bands and specifically how the latest album from Wire, one of my all time favorite bands, didn’t really capture that distinct, gnarly tone which was so representative of the sound in the mid to late 70’s. Not that it’s a bad record in any way but perhaps it is no longer up to the bands that paved the way to keep the momentum up.

Shortly after this conversation I received an email about a debut album from a new London trio who go by the name Shopping and I knew that while the godfathers of post-punk started it all, it is now up to the younger generation to keep it alive and kicking. Consumer Complaints was self-released overseas last year under the band’s DIY label, MÏLK Records. The album received it’s US release via FatCat Records this week and it has taken the music blogosphere by storm.

I’m so excited about these three that not only did I have to share their lead single, “In Other Words,” with you all, I also had to accompany it with the track’s b-side,  ‘You Are A Sort (Don’t Call Me).” Both contain a fierce driving beat, pulsing base riffs, and guitars sharp enough to slice through a tin can while still being able to precisely chop vegetables razor thin.

Funky, melodic, and mesmerizing. I have played these tracks over and over again. I believe you all will do the same.

Buy Consumer Complaints / Facebook / Twitter

Review | The Shills / Beware the Dangers of a Ghost Scorpion / Nemes / OTP @ Brighton Music Hall

The Shills

Photos: Matt LeBel and yours truly. Assume any good ones are his.

Big fat show last week at Brighton Music Hall. A bunch of local bands took to the big stage in support of local-boys-made-good, The Shills, and the release of their new album, Keep Your Hands Busy Vol. 2. That would be enough reason to go in the first place, but as a bonus, pals OTP opened the show and finally got the big stage and big cheers they’ve been deserving for years. Let’s talk about it!

First of all, when you are accustomed to seeing a band in the smaller, not to say smellier, confines of venues like the Cantab (I still love you, Cantab!), seeing them – hearing them – playing a room the size of Brighton Music Hall makes them sound just enormous. Not bad for a 3-piece.

OTP has been around under many incarnations, with the one constant being frontman Colin Garrity, but I think they’ve arrived at a good spot with Old Hat’s Andy Mac on bass and Andy Billard on drums (that’s right. They are now a two-Andy band. This is experts-only territory). With each lineup change, the sound has shifted a little, and most recently they’ve been playing louder, harder songs – having left the “folk” part of their earlier “folk-punk” in the dust. I was curious to see what this big-league show would deliver in terms of old and new music; they kept it balanced and gave the newcomers to their music a well-rounded education. And, as a little preview of the rest of the evening, they briefly borrowed The Shills’ Bryan Murphy (who had also done a stint drumming for OTP) to provide trumpets and harmonies for a “My Girl” cover.

It’s established, now, that you can’t really take me anywhere; I am an inveterate singer-alonger, and this show was no exception. I had plenty of opportunity, ultimately culminating in one of my favorite sing-along (shout-along?) choruses ever in “Sleep With Your Friends.” And yes, I realize that in the context of having just talked about another song on the same topic, I am setting myself up here as the blog expert on hooking up with your friends. Well, at least on songs about it. My younger, extremely single self would be gobsmacked.

Next up, Nemes, fresh off their run at the Rock ‘n’ Roll Rumble, bringing their brand of radio-ready country rock. They’re cracking jokes and playing surprise covers of “The Lion Sleeps Tonight,” but what I noticed the most was when Dave Anthony played his guitar behind his back. It’s that time of year, after all, and you know I want to see sweet guitar-subtractable moves from everybody all the time.

Beware the Dangers of a Ghost Scorpion took the stage next, probably winning the band name prize for the night – and also the costuming prize for the night. They were all decked out in matching t-shirts featuring what I can only surmise was, indeed, a ghost scorpion. Also, matching bandannas pulled up over their faces, like bandits, which was the first clue that this was going to be an instrumental band. That and the lack of microphones. Spooky instrumental surf. A good time. Look into them.

And, finally, The Shills hit the stage. These guys have been at it for 11 years, perfecting their funk-rock sound, and they’re supporting the release of their 5th album, Keep Your Hands Busy Vol. 2. Their loyal fans were singing and dancing along; it wasn’t just onstage that people were getting sweaty and ecstatic.

One thing The Shills like to emphasize is the variety of their influences; their sound is hard to pin down and draws on apparently everything anyone in the band has ever listened to. Every now and again, you get a ray of plainspoken rock shining through the falsetto-infused funk and soul, which is a nice change of pace. Keeps you on your toes! So you keep doing you, Shills. Keep every last one of your influences and prove what you can do every time you take a stage. They are justifiably proud of their musicianship – talent, and more to the point, skill, is in abundant supply here.

Other highlights included some really strong slug faces and a cover of “Fat Bottom Girls,” which appears to be an absolute guarantee of a crowd losing their mind. Get an idea of The Shills’ own sound, though, with “Oh, This Devilish Place,” and pick up Keep Your Hands Busy Vol. 2 here.

New Music | Rayland Baxter – Yellow Eyes

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Although this tune debuted on NPR last week, it caught my ears again and I felt like I had to share it. It may be one of the best songs we hear this year, with it’s songwriting wit, it’s honeyed melodies, and its ability to slow down time I just couldn’t resist. The music reverberates inside your brain, it’s calming, introspective, and you just wish like a sunny breezy day, that it’d never end. The song elicits an absolute response and it’s the perfect jumping off point for his upcoming record, Imaginary Man, which drops August 14th on ATO Records.