Between his work in The Doctors Fox, 3dCosby, and his solo project, Daniel Harris has gotten a lot of love over the years from TWRY. Now living in a new city (Philly) with a new project called Akhbar, he’s embracing his sensitive side, embarking on the smoothest drones you’ll ever come across.
After watching the movie Gravity, I’m pretty sure this is the soundtrack I’d want to listen to floating around the earth, watching the sun rise and fall brilliantly during orbit. I just hope they’ve got tape decks in space – this album was recorded direct to cassette, one 23-minute drone per side.
For we mere mortals, the songs make for excellent meditation/background/pre-sleep music, and I promise that’s not code for boring. Just in case you’re not down with popular 80s technology, each cassette comes with a free download card, too. The new album is available precisely now-ish, you can download a preview here, and check out all the social media funsies here:
Check the gorgeous art by a couple monikered BrainTwins, discovered in the Midwest while Harris was touring on the 3dCosby album last summer. The text, though, is all Daniel Harris original. Keep your eyes peeled, Akhbar will likely be making its New England debut in late Spring!
What happens when two bands you can’t miss are both playing the same night? Well, if the set-time stars align in just the right way, you may be able to turn an ordinary concert experience into a Build-Your-Own-Festival, which is precisely what I did this weekend with the sultry Cate Le Bon playing an early show at the Middle East Upstairs, and the dynamic gaggle that is Mother Falcon headlining a late show at Great Scott. Read more
Hating on the BMAs
Local booker Richard Bouchard gave a tongue-in-cheek welcome to Sunday night’s BMAs, declaring it “the least-complained about event of the year!” With enormous bands like Aerosmith, Dropkick Murphys, and Amanda Palmer nominated alongside the Boston little guys, voting almost posed an ethical dilemma – do you vote for Walmart or the Mom & Pop shop? Why are these artists even in the same category? When they announced the nominees and ran through the artists up for awards, nobody cheered for Aerosmith but folks went bananas for Bad Rabbits. Amanda Palmer’s name even warranted a “Boooooooo” that echoed throughout multiple floors at the Liberty Hotel. Eddie Japan frontman David Santos said at the beginning of his set that they were up against Aerosmith and the Dropkick Murphys for Best Live Artist, “so if you voted 6 million times we might have a shot.” Happily, it seems the voting community was ultimately more interested in the little guy, too – Eddie Japan went home with the win.
Supporting Boston Music
Certainly if a band like Bad Rabbits can trounce Amanda Palmer/Dropkick Murphys and Eddie Japan can dethrone Aerosmith, it was a relieving gauge of where Boston stands with its musical priorities. The evening’s best example of Boston Pride existed with the Tuesday Night Recording Club, a blog whose mission is to get local bands together to cover predominantly rock records. It includes Brian Charles, producer extraordinaire, Aaron Perrino, lead singer of the Sheila Divine, Annie Hoffman, bassist for the Field Effect, and local musicians Davina Yannetty & Kenji Ross on Keys/Vocals and Drums, respectively. For the BMAs, though, this band busted out all of the local stops, covering songs by numerous bands with Boston roots, and featured some big-name locals on individual songs – they opened with a Sheila Divine cover of “Hum,” but followed with songs by The Cars, Dinosaur Jr., The Pixies, Bobby Brown, and more, featuring guest leads by Doug Orey from the Field Effect, Chris Keene from Mean Creek, Sidewalk Driver’s Tad McKitterick dressed like a Pimp-style Santa Claus during “My Prerogative,” BMA producer Jake Brennan even guest-led for a stint, and they closed with Buffalo Tom’s Bill Janovitz and Fuzzy’s Chris Toppin for a Scruffy the Cat cover, honoring the recently deceased Charlie Chesterman (the posthumous winner of the evening’s “Unsung Heroes” award). Ultimately, the evening was truly a success for the locals, and TNRC’s set was the highlight of the night.
Besides the Tuesday Night Record Club, nothing like funky solo guitar virtuoso Shun Ng busting out covers of MJ and Stevie Wonder. I’ll get to My Dick in a minute.
Backup Singers/Pinup-girl Hair/Matching Outfits
Or some combination therein, regardless of musical genre. New personal goal: own one part of an identical dress set. Happy to take those bowtie dresses off your hands, TNRC ladies…
Orchestra and Band instruments
Between Big D & The Kids Table, Moe Pope & Quills, Barrence Whitfield, and 11-piece Women of the World, I counted 1 Trombone, 2 Saxophones, 2 Violins, and a Flute. Women of the World also rocked a Euphonium, which may not be an orchestra/band instrument, but dammit, I’m counting that shit anyways.
About a third of the night’s acts featured some sort of live DJ as a part of their act – props to Soulelujah who closed the night spinning actual vinyl.
Getting off the stage and into the crowd
Because the stage just couldn’t hold the awesome. Or maybe because they got confused about what constituted the stage.
But seriously – why was the lighting so bad? Nearly all of the acts in the Esplanade Room were playing in a weird shadow that made it feel like you were in some sort of bizarre attic lair. Pro tip: a better lighting rig, and for god’s sake an air conditioner, would do wonders for this room.
Awkward Artist/Stage Match-ups
The labyrinth that is The Liberty Hotel makes it a little difficult to get up to the Esplanade room, so if they moved some of the bigger tickets to the downstairs it would’ve been less difficult to barrel through the Function Room. Considering Bearstronaut and Bad Rabbits are big enough to have played Boston Calling and won awards this year, Bearstronaut was beyond packed in the tiny Esplanade Room while Barrence Whitfield’s set looked a little lonely on the second floor, and it was impossible to permeate the Bad Rabbits dance party to get around from My Dick to Potty Mouth and Coyote Kolb. Also – My Dick, despite being rather silly, should’ve definitely been in the Liberty Ballroom – everybody wanted a piece of My Dick, and its audience was massive.
A band who does glorified karaoke by replacing every other word of famous songs with “my dick” never stops being funny. For the curious, their set included such classics as “My Dick” instead of “My Girl,” “Dancing in My Dick” instead of “Dancing in the Dark,” “Everybody Have Dick Tonight” instead of “Everybody Have Fun Tonight,” “Dicks of Gold” instead of “Fields of Gold” (personally I’d hoped for Fields of Dick instead, but they did at least sing about Dicks of Barley), my favorite – “Fast Dick” instead of Tracy Chapman’s “Fast Car” (best line: My dick in a market as a checkout girl), and for our International friends, “Mi Pinga” instead of “La Bamba.” I’m really glad I got to see My Dick in the spotlight, since My Dick was quite the spectacle. It’s pretty easy to laugh at My Dick, and maybe My Dick’s performance was just mediocre, but I could’ve easily spent even more time with My Dick. Honestly? The whole room was pretty amped about My Dick too, chanting for My Dick to keep going, which in turn made My Dick go at it even harder, even though by the end My Dick was pretty hot and sweaty. All in all, My Dick had a blast, and so did everyone who got to experience My Dick in action. My Dick definitely gained a few fans after its performance, and I’m excited to spread the gospel of My Dick to the Boston music community.
Music Drives Us
Arguably the biggest winner from the night was for Music Drives Us, a local music non-profit that supplies grants for music programs for those in need. All proceeds from the event go toward the Music Drives Us Foundation, and while I have yet to see how much was raised for this year, last year they donated a walloping $65,000 to the charity. For all of the complaining people do about this event, ultimately the BMAs are fueling the local music scene with their charity work, and are helping the scene stay alive for generations to come. Now quit whining and go vote for Eddie Japan again – it’ll take a bit to reach 6 million votes by 2014.
Rock Artist of the Year: Deer Tick
Reviewed by: Dorise Gruber
With blue lights blazing on a slick-suited trio of men, one armed with a partial standing drum kit, one with guitar and pedal board, and one with both, they start with a few echoing minor chords and crisp marching snare before the Lucius ladies traipse onto stage. Holly Laessig and Jess Wolfe don identical blonde-banged-bobs, Cleopatra eye makeup, twin plaid schoolgirl rompers, and mirrored dance moves. Not actually related, they look like new-age indie fembots, presuming new-age fembots come equipped with more clothes, more class, more talent, and fewer bionic nipple barrel guns. Read more
Reviewed by: Dorise Gruber
Chicago neo-soul artist JC Brooks, accompanied by his studio-tight backing band The Uptown Sound, brought an indie twist to classic vintage Motown at Brighton Music Hall last Thursday. Brooks, a skyscraper of a man both in stature and personality, has the charisma of James Brown, the poise of a human statue, the finesse of Otis Redding, and in his own words, the “sweat like Sam Jackson in ‘A Time to Kill.’” Despite an audience age span of roughly 30 years, JC Brooks & The Uptown Sound were still able to electrify the lot of us into collective unabashed flailing, though from stage-front Brooks easily outstripped us with his sweet ‘n dirty moves. Read more
Reviewed by: Dorise Gruber
I’m not generally the kind of person that follows a band around while they tour, but I’d had Houndmouth on my radar after seeing their Wilco/Billy Bragg A.V. Undercover appearance, thus while vacationing in Arizona a couple weeks ago scooped the opportunity to see the band play Tucson’s Club Congress – a venue perhaps the size of Great Scott but with moody red lighting more apropos of The Paradise. With an audience so spare that it hardly comprised a minyan, lone female vocalist Katie joked, “I feel like we should all be on a first-name basis.” While on the brisk desert evening they put on a solid show, that performance was a mere honey drop to the Winnie-the-Pooh sized tub of energy at last Thursday’s Newport Folk Festival-sponsored jaunt on Royale’s stage. Read more
Reviewed by: Dorise Gruber Read more
The sun may be setting on summer, but Sinnet’s not ready for you to put away the bikinis and beach umbrellas quite yet. They just dropped a bright new EP, Year of the Whale, a radiant follow-up to 2012’s moodier Midwest Manners.
Spransy has traded crawly chords for catchy cadence, highlighted most acutely at the beginning of the final(and title) track, “Year of the Whale.” It starts in a hollow, echoey sounding room with a simple piano in the style of the last LP, when in-jumps the caffeinated disco drums, effortless bass, and bubbling guitar, carrying off into a full-on pop-rock song. Considering what a departure the new sound is from the old, they may as well have just pulled down your underwear and screamed “gotcha!” before running away laughing. Sinnet’s evolving style coats still-haunting lyrics and beautiful melodies in a rich new glaze, glowing with precious dregs of the season’s warmth.
Don’t miss the EP release party this Saturday, August 17th, at Great Scott, where you can pick up the new digital release. Better yet, grab yourself the 7” limited-release vinyl pressing and keep your Allston street-cred in tact.
Reviewed by: Dorise Gruber
Listen up greasers and paper shakers, quit toolin’ around in your hopped up wheels and check it: this band out of Portland is boss, and I’m wiggin’ out over their new album! I’m gonna play their record at the soda shoppe on my next shift. My candyass boss is gonna flip his lid! Hey man, don’t be such a square – if you don’t love ‘em, look – I’ll let you gimme a wet willie.
With Sallie Ford decked in a vintage blue dress, polka-dot keds, flashy cat-eye specs, and a mint chocolate chip Fender, her style and knee-swivels were certainly consistent with her sound – a modernized 60’s doo-wop/rockabilly/surf-pop blend with vocals that crossed somewhere between a less quirky Regina Spektor and a less deranged Karen O. That’s not to say that Ford is just a neutered version of these two women – she’s not without her own eccentricities – a mix of flirty, grungy, and hip that oozes Portland. What could easily become kitchy or ingenuine never crosses that line – she’ll toy with country ballads like in “Paris,” give tongue-in-cheek nods to 60s bubblegum like in “Do Me Right,” make you swoon with sultry tracks like “They Told Me” and “Shivers,” or just give some good ol’ fashioned in-your-face tough-chick badassness like in their single “Party Kids.” If Ford were straight-up copy-catting the sound of half a century ago it’d be easy to balk, but she rarely lets her voice get too saccharin or cloyingly cutesy, instead rasping at the ends of most phrasing. She mixes in just the right amount of fuzz and filth to elevate it from gimmicky to fleshy, and in that repurposing she proves herself a true Portland starlet. Read more
It was an emotional night to see a show in Boston on Saturday. With the Marathon bombing on Monday, a lockdown the day before and the cancellation of all shows in the area, it was questionable as to whether or not this concert would even take place. Lone Bellow female vocalist Kanene Doheney Pipkin even commented on the extreme energy of the crowd, “did somebody just let you all out of your houses?” The bands were sweet to us and present with the high-running emotions of the night’s audience. Opener Twin Forks even began the night with a short Augustana cover of “I Think I’ll Go To Boston” to pay respect to the crazy week we’d all just endured. Read more