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
Jamie Lidell’s 2013 S/T album Jamie Lidell combines the Motown soul of early albums Jim/Multiply and the technologic fanciness of Compass, though a little dancier than the former and a little less aggressive than the last. In either case, I was expecting a somewhat more mellowed album would likely mean that his performance may have mellowed over time, too. Sorely mistaken but solidly thrilled, Lidell prevailed as a true neofunk mogul at Brighton Music Hall, rocking a floor-length raincoat and drenching it from the inside with the hot-blooded steam of vitality. Read more
In the same way that I’m a sucker for a man with a beard, every music lover has a trigger that makes them far more likely to fall for a song. For some people it’s handclaps, for some it’s beachy oohs and aahs, for some it’s a heavy-dropped bass, take your pick. For me, though – it’s looping. If a musician knows how to live-loop a song with skill, it’s the umami of the concert-going experience. For those who aren’t familiar with the concept, a performer will break songs into segments, and will utilize fancy shmancy gear (this is a technical term) to record these parceled phrases one piece at a time. Ideally without breaking flow of the song, the performer will play back the piece they’ve just recorded and harmonize with it, add in bass/drums/other instruments, and continually forge together each sector of the song until it hits its saturation point. It adds an entirely separate sense of construction and dynamism to the songs at hand, and transforms otherwise pleasant songs into an extraordinary art form. Read more
It’s no secret that I was mostly underwhelmed by the music that got cranked out in 2012. I spent my fair share of time devouring and digesting tracks from artists across genres, but only a handful supplied any urgency to explore beyond the first song. Caveman was one of the few bands to give me pause. The second I streamed “Old Friend” off their breakout album, CoCoBeware, I was captivated by the atmospheric mood resonating in their music. With the announcement of their impending S/T album gearing up for release in early April, their second single, “In The City,” has been circulating the media junket, and equally as compelled by this piece as the original release, I jumped at the chance to see these guys live. Read more
The scene was rife with sequins and faux leather at the 25th annual Boston Music Awards, held festival-style in the Liberty Hotel, all proceeds from the show benefitting the non-profit local organization MusicDrivesUs.Org. While trying to navigate to the different concert rooms in this prison-turned-hotel sometimes felt like weaving through an Escher painting, the acts ran the gamut and made the foot traffic well-worth enduring.