New Music | Trails and Ways – Jacaranda


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I’ve been combing through my Music Savage inbox opening email submission after email submission, in an attempt to find my summer album of 2015, and ladies and gentlemen I believe my search has finally ended. I present to you Oakland, California 4-piece Trails and Ways.

Bandmates Hannah van Loon (guitar/synths), Keith Brower Brown (guitar/synths), Ian Quirk (drums), and Emma Oppen (bass) are set to release their debut full-length album, Pathology, out 6/2 via Barsuk Records. The latest single is the spectacularly dance-fueled, ridiculously catchy number “Jacaranda,”  a song meant for repeated listens while driving with the windows down, or swinging from the branch of a flowering tropical tree, either one works.

Along with the latest single we also get to highlight the brand-spanking new video for an earlier single, “Skeletons,” which features a post apocalyptic world and robotic dance moves from French artist Arthur Cadre, a perfect combination. 

Trails and Ways’ music takes the wistfulness of youth, those days that seem to stretch on and on, when everything mattered so much and nothing mattered at all, and wraps it all up into shimmery pop hooks to be delivered right to your summer soul.

The band hits the road in support of the new record and will have a stop here in Boston at Cafe 939 on June 19th.

Pre-order Pathology / Tour / Facebook / Twitter

Photos | The Tallest Man On Earth + Madisen Ward and The Mama Bear @ The Orpheum

The Tallest Man On Earth at The Orpheum
Photos by Boston Concert Photography

Last Thursday we had the opportunity to sit in on two fine acts who will be donning the grounds of Fort Adams for the Newport Folk Festival come July. Having jumped on the tickets during a pre-sale, we had one of the best seats in the house for an intimate show with the rest of the folks at the Orpheum. Read On »

Review | Secret Club – Apocalypse Meow

Secret Club

Nashville’s Secret Club have three major things going for them right away on this album: the name of it is Apocalypse Meow, for heaven’s sake; the entire album seems to be predicated around the theme of “dirtbags”; and they have a theme song. If you’re in a band, and you don’t have a theme song, rethink your priorities and write one immediately. It’s also got one of my favorite rhymes ever, “It’s Armageddon / if you’re not home by eleven” – that’s so good it makes me mad that no one else already thought of that.

We first got acquainted with Secret Club when they released their awesome song “Why Can’t Friends Just Kiss on the Lips Sometimes?” That may not be a completely dirtbag sentiment, but it probably fits in: they’re not trying to be tied down, man! They just want a little makeout session. For extra dirtbag points, the makeout session could occur behind the dumpsters of the strip club, but who knows? Maybe it’s super sweet in a field full of wildflowers.

And speaking of strip clubs, we’ve got ’em, in the title track, the theme song, “Secret Club.” The premise is that there’s a secret club of people who know someone else’s dirty little secret, but they can’t talk about it – like if, say, your best friend’s sister is stripping and he doesn’t know about it. You can’t very well tell him, right?

So, ok, that’s dirtbaggery. And so is passing out with 40s in your hands, in “I Do What I Want” (good luck not saying that in a Cartman voice – “whatevah! Whatevah! I do what I want!”). So is getting high to deal with Ohio (“Toledo”). And so is having a racist girlfriend you can’t break up with because her dad will kill you (“Circle K”). That song gave me problems at first, because come on, you can’t have the shout-along chorus be “K! K! K!” I can’t get behind a bar full of people hollering that out, even if the song is in jest. But the premise of the song is in jest; consider it like the Dictators’ “Master Race Rock.” If you don’t listen closely, you might think they mean it, but that’s the opposite of what the song is actually about. I still think they should maybe not play it live, though.

They slow it down some, too, but that doesn’t lose any of the lost kid truculence for being slow. “My Friend Angie” does this amazingly; it’s a paean to… maybe guitarist Angela Plake, or maybe another Angie, who is “the baddest of asses” and stays up late wearing black and being tough as nails, but it sounds like a lullaby. Um, but maybe a lullabye for adults. Those little hype-man interjections (“Tell ’em what you’re like, Annnnngie”) are delivered in a sexy snarl turned way down to an almost soporific level… almost.

The sound? The sound is dirtbag rock, obviously. It’s dark, it can be fuzzy and messy, it has a thumping beat, it’s delivered with a curled-lip sneer. It’s got some noticeable surf elements, but like maybe they listened to the Ramones a lot before picking up a surfboard. And then decided not to go surfing anyway because that’s for hippies.

Apocalypse Meow comes out June 16. No doubt when it comes out, they’ll tell you where you can get your grubby little hands on it, via one or more of these fine pieces of internet. In the meantime, I’m sure there are some dirtbag-approved activities you can do to pass the time. Grow a blond mustache and play horseshoes in jean shorts, or something.

Secret Club website / Facebook / Twitter

New Music | Panic Island – We Start Fires

Panic Island

What starts out with sparks and then builds up, getting bigger and bigger until it’s about to get dangerously out of hand and people are hollering in a crowded theatre – fire, right? WRONG. This song. Well, and also fire.

Panic Island is from London and they love them some rock and roll. You can just hear the leather jackets through the speakers in “We Start Fires.” And what’s a little casual pyromania between friends? In fact, I think I ought to put this on the playlist for the backyard parties we’ll be having this summer where we break out the fire pit. It sounds like a great soundtrack to actually burning stuff – listen and try not envision bonfires.

The new Panic Island EP, “Cabin Fever,” comes out on May 18th. Buy it and run around your house (or work, or public street, I’m not here to judge) with your shirt pulled over your head yelling “FIRE! FIRE!” in a Cornholio voice.

Panic Island Facebook / Twitter

New Music | King of the Travellers – Trenches

King of the Travellers

Let me begin by saying you should feel really lucky about the hacky joke I spared you about Perth’s King of the Travellers. Instead of a dad-level attempt at humor, you can instead find out what it would sound like if you filtered Gogol Bordello through Australia. Give a listen to King of the Travellers’ “Trenches” – about a bunch of soldiers left behind after the war’s passed them by. It’s a drinking song, obviously.

This is not the first band I’ve heard try to capture that same “gypsy punk” weirdness, stay true to their own sound, and also incorporate Eastern European, Romani, and folk traditions… but they’re the first ones I’ve heard do it right. Maybe because the “staying true to their own sound” part involves singer Nathan Hull’s chesty hollers.

I can just bet these guys put on a huge party of a live show. I don’t know if they’re going to swing through this way – Australia is far, in case you didn’t know, and Perth is even far from the rest of Australia (geography lesson! You’re welcome!) – but if they do, your plans for the evening are already made.

Photos + Review | Pokey LaFarge + Caroline Rose @ The Sinclair

Pokey LaFarge at The Sinclair
Photos by Boston Concert Photography

It was about the point when I noticed the gigantic bottle of whiskey on stage that I knew where this night was going to go.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s start from the beginning. Last Thursday night, at The Sinclair, I was lucky enough to see one of my favorites, Caroline Rose, share a bill with the inimitable Pokey LaFarge. I know other members of the team here were well familiar with him and loved him already, but I was a newcomer. And now I am a convert. But I’m getting ahead of myself again.

Let’s get back to the beginning. Caroline Rose and her band took the stage all dressed in her signature “FUCK FEAR” shirts, except for herself. I love her ongoing war against fear; there are a lot of small and large ways in which everyone is afraid every day, and you often only realize how crippling it was when you stop.

She launched right into “Blood on Your Bootheels,” the leadoff track from her latest album, I Will Not Be Afraid (there’s that fear thing again). Cartoon hearts immediately started streaming out of my eyes and I was singing along – really, dear reader, I invite you to come to shows with me all the time, but it’s probably super embarrassing to be with me, so bear this in mind. For a minute I thought she was going to play the album in order, since “Tightrope Walker” was the second song, as it is on the album, but she broke from that path and played a mixture including songs off her first album, new stuff, and old-but-never-released stuff. If you aren’t familiar with her, her sound ranges from surfy to bluesy to flat-out, gut-true howls, and she throws a little tremor into her voice that does the opposite of making her sound weak. Instead, she sounds like she is vibrating with emotion: rage or frustration or need. She is a lot of power in what used to be called “a little slip of a thing,” and if you don’t know, get to know. Here.

And then Pokey LaFarge took the stage. He strolled on out looking for all the world like he was straight out of central casting for a midcentury country crooner. But his band ran the gamut: hair-grease aficionados and horn-rimmed glasses to beardy backwoods types, and their music crosses the range too, through ragtime and the kind of jazz people’s mothers used to warn them about, to blues-tinted country and what I can only call “party music” – which I know is woefully nonspecific, but try and listen and not start partying. Indeed, a whole lot of boogieing was going on. People were dancing with the one that brung them, some people were dancing with someone who didn’t brung them, and some people like me didn’t bring anyone so we were dancing by ourselves. A little bit. Too much and you look maladjusted. Anyway, they played nearly all of the new album, Something in the Water, which means that it sounds like all those things and more.

The energy level was high from the first. It took about a song and a half for him to steal the glasses off an audience member’s face and strut about the stage in them (they suited him, too!), and then jumped off into the crowd and got feisty with the people. I am all for any show that makes the crowd shriek with sudden exhilaration. And I am all for any show that has a family-sized whiskey bottle for onstage swigging, which they then pass into the crowd. Sadly not near me.

I need to tell you about Pokey LaFarge’s face for a minute. He’s got the sort of face where it takes a good long while for a smile to get started and it spreads gradually from his eyes to his mouth to his whole face, and you might expect a guy like that to have some slow jams in his pocket. You would not be disappointed. Then again, he also plays some songs that sound like perfect old-time stripper music, so maybe it isn’t all perfect for serenading your sweetheart with. Maybe you can think of another use case for those songs.

Before we go any further, though, speaking of romance reminds me of something that happened. Pokey LaFarge’s band includes a young woman named Chloe Feoranzo on the saxophone and clarinet, and she came up front to sing a duet with Pokey. And when she did this, some Romeo in the audience decided now was the time to profess his love to her, and to propose marriage. Loudly. Repeatedly. Into a hushed room waiting for the song to start. Gentlemen, we need to have a chat about how you can show your appreciation for ladies performing onstage. Instead of demanding their individual attention, and the attention of everyone in the room, you can clap and cheer when they do something impressive, like everyone else does. But don’t be like the guy who decided the best time to cheer for Caroline Rose was when she bent down (in a skirt) to fix something with her pedals. I hope she kicks his teeth right down his throat, and if she doesn’t have the time, I’d be happy to help out. Now that we’ve got that handled, let’s get back to the party and have a good time, ok?

New Music | Pale Honey – Tease

Pale Honey

Swedish duo Pale Honey’s self-titled debut album was released yesterday in the UK on Bolero Recordings, and is out today in the states via Instant Records. To celebrate we have the fantastic new track to share with you all titled, “Tease,” and it is three minutes of rock n’ roll that comes at you slowly at first, teasing in its subdued sparsity until the drums kick you in the eardrums and the synth-laser sounds bounce through your head.

Although this is only their first album, Tuva Lodmark (guitar / vocals) and Nelly Daltrey (drums) have a keen understanding of how to create songs that fill up your speakers with the electrified attitude and self-assurance of a band with a number of hit records to their name.

Pale Honey will unleash the fierceness upon England when the duo perform for the first time in London on May 20th at the Islington. When the dust settles they will head back to Sweden as rock n’ roll conquerors, Pale Vikings if you will. Here’s to hoping they set sail for our shores one day soon.

Facebook / Twitter / Buy Pale Honey

Photos | Joe Pug + Field Report @ Brighton Music Hall

Joe Pug at Brighton Music Hall
Photos by Boston Concert Photography

This past Thursday night, Joe Pug and Chris Porterfield of Field Report brought a little bit of late July to Brighton Music Hall.

As part of the Newport Folk Presents series, the two acts—both of whom hit the stage at this summer’s 56th Newport Folk Festival—made themselves right at home in Allston.

Porterfield, sans the rest of his musical companions, opened up the evening with a set of songs and a comforting wit that quickly brought those unfamiliar with the band’s material into the fold. Those of us who were fans of the music before the first strings were plucked were, encouraged to shout out requests (which we did.) I’d wager when Porterfield and his bandmates hit the stage at The Fort, there will be a few more folks shouting out requests.

The night’s headliner and Newport Folk alum, Joe Pug, then proved to the crowd why he’s deserving of a return spot to the legendary festival’s lineup. Touring behind his new album Windfall, Pug and his new-look ensemble (Greg Tuohey on guitar, Matt Schuessler on bass, and Mark Stepro on drums) brought new songs and Pug classics to life with the energy and passion we’re accustomed to seeing from Joe when he’s alone with his harp and his axe.

In short, if this evening was anything like what we can expect to see on the grounds of Fort Adams this year, we’re all in for a musical windfall.

Photos + Review | Tall Tall Trees + Seryn + The Naked Stills @ Great Scott

Tall Tall Trees at Great Scott
Photos by Boston Concert Photography

There’s no other way to put this Boston folks. If you missed last week’s phenomenal show featuring our very own The Naked Stills, Nashville band Seryn, and New York City’s Tall Tall Trees, well then you need to rethink your musical priorities!

On Thursday, April 23rd yours truly, accompanied by the Music Savage photography wizard whose images grace this write-up, arrived at a packed Great Scott, weary from a long week and unsure how we would be able to gather our second wind.

All of that exhaustion faded away the moment Boston boys The Naked Stills took the stage. Kicking off their set with a fantastic cover of Band of Horses’ “Laredo” the band quickly had the home crowd moving and shaking off the work day fatigue. The set-list focused on songs from their debut full length album, Cochecho, including the perfect goodbye to our horrible winter number, “Touchdown in Boston.” These guys are local venue regulars, so be on the lookout for their next show and get yourselves there.

Keeping the momentum going when you are the middle band can be tough in a three act show. This was not the case with Nashville six-piece Seryn. If I were to sum up their performance in two words they would simply be Holy Smokes! The entire band managed to fit themselves, and all of their equipment, on the notoriously small stage and bring the house down with the energetic equivalent of an all out stadium show. They are touring on their amazing sophomore LP, Shadow Shows, which was absolutely made to be played live, with uplifting harmonies and layers upon layers of swirling strings and pulsing beats . Big things, including bigger stages, are in store for Seryn.

Closing out the evening was a veritable virtuoso of banjo badassness otherwise known as Tall Tall Trees. The New York City musician can’t, and won’t, be nailed down by any type of genre qualifying adjectives as he performed with all sorts of light-pulsating gadgets and doohickeys, including a modified toy laser gun. His banjo was one part drum, one part electric guitar, and one part light-emitting diode, all mixed together into one glorious Transformer of sound. We dubbed it “Headbangjo” music. Taking the TTT show solo for the night, Mike Savino occupied every corner of the room, and our heads, with a performance which could be both seen and heard from space.

Check out a brand-spanking new Tall Tall Trees song and a few super-duper snaps of all the fun.
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New Music | Death Valley Girls – Summertime

Death Valley Girls

Do you ever know that you’re going to like a song when you’re like two notes in? Welcome to my life yesterday when I first listened to Death Valley Girls’ “Summertime.”

These bad broads (and one bad dude) come blazing out of LA, leaving, I can only assume, a swath of destruction and broken hearts in their wake. Borne on a wave of surfy, fuzzy garage rock that has been building since the 60s and is now about to crash onto Boston, “Summertime” keeps it simple lyrically so that you can just let it wash over you.

And oh, yes, I did say this wave was going to sweep through Boston. They’re coming to the Cantab on May 15th. I want to go but I’m a little nervous I’m not tough enough. Who wants to come with me?

Death Valley Girls Facebook / Bandcamp