November 12, 2009

Live Review: Reptar

The Secret Squirrel // Athens, GA // Sept. 29, 2009

The Secret Squirrel, an Athens resident’s home-turned-concert-venue, sprung to life Sept. 29 as Reptar was about to hit the stage. Staying true to their faithful followers' expectations, the band once again delivered a top-notch performance. Reptar cranked out their captivating electronic-pop, with lively synth lines and contagious beats that kept the crowd dancing the entire set.

Members Graham Ulicny (guitar, vocals), William Kennedy (keyboards), Ryan Engelberger (bass) and Andrew McFarland (drums) thought the crowd was so wonderfully raucous they decided to hold a dance competition, to which the winner received a golden spatula. The ease with which Reptar was able to form a formidable connection with their crowd only added to the enthusiasm of the already electrical ambiance, as if those in attendance needed anything other than singer Graham Ulicny’s talents for entertainment.

A fairly accurate description of the Secret Squirrel venue would be "garage-sized." Yet, this contributed nicely to the feel that everyone knew everyone else, and Reptar were just coming around to see their old, close friends, to hang out, and rock out. The environment was laid back – no bouncers, no one to take tickets or monitor who came and went – not to mention the stage was barely raised, further solidifying the fact that Reptar were just one with the crowd. Even if you were to step outside for a quick breather, you’d still be able to get a clear glimpse of the band through the doors. If the goal for concert attendees was to come out on a school night, hear some Reptar at their best, meet some new folks, and dance like mad for the golden spatula, then anyone who was there would rave that the night was a wild success.

-Review by Amy Ishii; photos by Parker Feirbach

News: Folk Music History Month in Harvard Square

A collaborative of members from the New England Folk Music Archives and the Harvard Square Business Association, called Forever Young, have launched a Folk Music History Month in Harvard Square for November.

The celebration includes a series of multimedia events involving Harvard Square storefronts and restaurants. The “Community Gallery Window Project,” displayed inside stores, features vintage photos, folk art, and folk music history ephemera from private collections and artists who spent time in the area. Some of the musicians captured in the photos include Janis Joplin, Arlo Guthrie, Pete Seeger, Bob Dylan, Tom Rush and Taj Mahal.

There's also a variety of shows throughout the month, including “Brunch with the Folks” on Nov. 15, where a number of bands will be featured from brunch to dinnertime at a number of different venues. Other events include “Irish Music in Boston,” a discussion and performance at Tommy Doyle’s on Nov. 19; a screening of the film “Festival!” at the Brattle Theater on Nov. 22; and folk music every night through the end of November at Club Passim on Palmer Street.

News: Another SXSW deadline approaches

Deadline for discount registration to attend South by Southwest 2010 is this Friday, Nov. 13. Register now and save up to 25 percent off the walk up rate.

Also, those looking to market their business at SXSW can save 10 percent on marketing assets by registering by this Friday!

SXSW takes place in downtown Austin this year March 17-21.

November 11, 2009

Live Review: Serena Ryder

Chop Suey // Seattle, WA // Oct. 24, 2009

I am in shock. I never thought I’d say this, but I just might end up enjoying alt-country. Serena Ryder, though probably on the poppier end of the folksy singer-songwriter genre, could be my personal gateway drug into a world of acoustic guitar and lyric driven rock.

Her set started off with simply her and the mic on stage. Unaccompanied, she let her soulful voice do all the introductions, captivating the crowd with her shockingly powerful, gravelly wail. Vocally, Ryder proves herself a talented and versatile singer: never too loud, never too soft, demonstrating control over every resonating note and guiding you along a musical journey with ease.

As she straps her guitar on, she transforms into a fiery entity with melodies flowing from her fingertips and a staggering amount of performance energy, bouncing up and down with every strum. Lyrically, it’s no surprise her fanbase is predominantly female. They say that “hell hath no fury as a woman’s scorn” and many of her songs drip with that scorn and frustration over the opposite sex, but don’t be expecting any feminist angrygrrls to show up anytime soon. It’s more like 20- to 30-somethings that feel the way she’s feeling and Serena simply puts their feelings into song. My highlight for the night was a song called “Stumbling Over You,” but the singles “Little Bit of Red” and “All for Love” proved strong performances as well. Honorable mention goes to “Brand New Love” for being the song that captured my attention early in the set.

-Review and photo by Rosalie Anne Cabison

Live Review: Eyehategod // Goatwhore


The Middle East Downstairs // Cambridge, MA // Oct. 25, 2009

Heads were banged, beer cans thrown, and bodies thrashed in a maelstrom of metal. When Goatwhore and Eyehategod came to the Middle East Downstairs, shit got rocked.

Goatwhore came to the stage as conquering warlords in search of Satan with their own special brand of punk-influenced black metal. The energy in the room peaked as lead singer Ben Falgoust battled and screamed his way to the edge of the stage where many a pumping fist and devil horns awaited. Throughout the chaotic set, Falgoust seemed to be rallying the crowd to him with a joyous anger, high-fiving anyone in the crowd who threw up a hand and throwing his long hair out in maximum head-banging capacity. Bassist James Harvey and drummer Zack Simmons stayed tight and controlled through fast and complex changes that Sammy Duet could choose to accent or shred over.

Lit cigarettes dangling from their lips, Eyehategod let feedback take over the room for a few minutes before bringing down the hammer with the brutal “Take as Needed for Pain.” Slower and heavier than the opening acts, the music became a death swagger that pulled you in and held you under until you found yourself fighting for air in an ocean of distortion and anger. Every punctuated bass note became the swing of an opponents fist, the vibrations of sound became the quiver of anger boiling up inside, begging for a release. Pushed to its limits, the crowd exploded into pits whenever the band deemed it fit to open up into faster (but no less heavy) riffs. Lead singer Mike IX Williams spoke aggressively between songs, never letting the feeling of doom lessen until after the set when he thanked everyone for coming. As the band lit up fresh cigarettes and left the stage to get a brief rest before an encore, one drunk fan shouted an appropriate summation of the night: "Fucking Metal!"

-By Garrett Frierson; photo by Max Braverman

November 9, 2009

New records in the office today

The Silent League- But You’ve Always Been the Caretaker
Real Estate- Real Estate
Jen Ghetto- Sadstyle (reissue)
La Palabra- Musicholic
Surfer Blood- Astro Coast
The Sea Navy- Memory Matches
Austin Crane- Place at the Table
The Yule Logs- The Yule Logs
Bone Cave Ballet- The Echo of Entropy
Brian Larsen- Breaking
Lunar Sway- Where the Birds Don’t Fly
Justin Levinson- Predetermined Fate
Bacchus King- Bacchus King
Shawn Harris- Echoes of Autumn
Retribution Gospel Choir- 2
Unsparing Sea- In the Diamond Caverns
Morwenna Lasko & Jay Pun- Chioggia Beat
Jerry Velona- Random Emotion
Paul Masson- Paul Masson
Wave Array- Cheapjack Moon
Timi Conley- Nerd Sexy
Shovelman- The Dirty West
Black Taxi- Things of that Nature
Tiny Fires- Tiny Fires
Winterbloom- Traditions Rearranged
Beach House- Teen Dream
Joey Barnes- Always
Patrick Rock- When All Else Fails…
Cadillac Jones- Rhythm Method
Carnivores- All Night Dead USA
Scott Krokoff- A Better Life
Amy Speace- The Killer in Me
Kirsten DeHaan- Thorns on a Crown
Kobo Town- Independence
Useless Beauty- Sugar Crush
The Mercury Program- Chez Viking
Gold Standard- Gold Standard
The Plague Years- We Are at the End of All That Is
Mascara- Fountain of Tears
Johnny Stranger- Galacticus 9
Fredrik- Trilogi
Soulsavers- Broken
Farm- The Cave
The Gilded Palace of Sin- You Break Our Hearts, We’ll Tear Yours Out
Merrick Section- Merrick Section
Hurricane Bells- Tonight is the Ghost
The Novels- Paper Cliché
Lightning Bolt- Earthly Delights
Capibara- Wildcat
PPR- Breakfast
PPR- Crab
Finfangfoom- Monomyth
High Priestess- Faerie Archives Volume 1

Live Review: Manque // Sweet Talk // Please and Thank Yous // Slingshot Dakota // Cloud Mouth

The Please and Thank Yous

Summer Camp // Chicago, IL // Tuesday, Oct. 13

Summer Camp probably hosts the largest volume to venue size ratio in the history of venues. Save the opener, everyone who played this show played mind-blowingly loudly in the most intimate space I've ever been in. The stage was on the same level as the audience space and bands were free to set up their equipment and interact with the crowd however they liked. It was like I was incubating in the opposite of a sensory deprivation chamber. A recommended experience for sure.

Manqué opened the set intimately by drawing the crowd around her and embarking on a string of simple and intensely personal songs. Sounding a bit like Hannah Jones of the Ghost Mice doing '90s slowcore, Manqué played completely without amplification or pretense with the attitude of someone sharing songs for a group of close friends. Her lyrical melancholia ranged from the sweet-and-silly, i.e. "I think your heart's in the wrong place / maybe somewhere between your spleen and kidneys," to the straight-up heartbreaking: "Please don't break our suicide pact, because if I have to do it alone, I'm not going to be happy." The sincerity was at once disarming and endearing.

Sweet Talk

Next to take the stage was Sweet Talk, a two-piece who delivered a driving performance. The amplification absolutely overpowered the small space in which they played. The heavily fuzzed guitar vibrated at such a frequency as to make it feel
like there were little worms made of steel wool copulating in my eardrum. It was loud as loud gets and ear-bleedingly good. The band's singer-guitarist slung himself over the mic screaming, while the drummer played fast and shoeless behind.

The Please and Thank Yous infused their set with hints of old-school punk. Without letting up on the loud, they had a more nonchalant vibe in contrast to Sweet Talk's utmost urgency. Their song structure owed a good deal to '70s punk roots, which their singer/guitarist silently acknowledged by wearing a Ramones shirt.

Slingshot Dakota

Setting up the room so that they were centered and the audience had to cluster around them in a circle, Slingshot Dakota gave a full-length foreword to their performance,
fraternizing with the crowd by discussing their evening at the Chicago Diner, their awesome waiter Don and the giant peanut butter shakes. With just a drumkit and a heavily distorted keyboard (never has that much fuzz been laid over a synth), they went on to deliver some of the most awesome electropunk I've ever had the luck of hearing. Carly Comando sang over her keyboard while Tom Patterson pounded out pantsless beats (he had on bike shorts) and sang backup across from her. The two (who are also a couple – hooray rock love!) tended to look right at each other while performing song after electrifying song. The music just kept exploding out from these guys – you'd be hard-pressed to find a two-piece deliver a more energetic set.

Reverting to the stage, Cloud Mouth rounded out the night with a solid set. Their sound bordered on the art-punk and avant-garde as they navigated some unusual song structures, but they never veered into the pretentious. The distinct and varied guitar riffs and basslines, as well as the proximity of their guitarist to their bassist, made it feel almost like there was a duel going on, but I couldn't tell you who won. It was a pretty close match. I felt like I was in the presence of a sound too big for the venue, a sound meant to echo in long halls, but at the same time, Summer Camp's tightness provides an intimacy that you don't get anywhere else. There's something about watching bands play a few feet away, especially when those bands are filling the space with sound that makes just about everybody's head explode from awesomeness overload.

-Sasha Geffen