musings from boston

screams, whispers and songs from planet earth

The Art of the Con: Donald Trump, Narcissistic Personality Disorder and the Divided States of America

In the past year, I have probably read more political commentary than I have over the course of my lifetime. It’s not that I wasn’t interested in politics and society before this election, but for a variety of reasons, this election cycle felt far more important and personal, and got me to questioning where exactly I stood on the bloody battlefield.

This article has been several months in the making. I’d start, then stop, then start again. The target kept moving. Every news article about Donald J. Trump, every nutty thing that emerged from his mouth, every media outcry, public reaction and friend’s Facebook post, and I would be rethinking my perspective. In the end, what I thought would be a philosophical view from high above the fray, as an impartial observer, became a hard look around myself, at the convictions and beliefs of friends on both sides of the divide, at self-righteous liberals in my own family and at the world outside my strange bubble. Because, as progressive and enlightened as we may like to think we are, we all live within our own self-created reality and, increasingly, in “reality bubbles” that only serve to reinforce our world view.

As the dust begins to settle, I see blindness and intolerance on both ends of the spectrum. I make no attempt here to arrive at any truths or come to any definitive conclusions. These are only observances. Read on Medium.com.

Walter Sickert and The Army of Broken Toys – Up to their Old (New) Tricks with Come Black Magic!

Walter Sickert & The Army of Broken Toys (Courtesy of Jenny Bergman)

Walter Sickert & The Army of Broken Toys (Courtesy of Jenny Bergman)

Performing LIVE at The Sinclair on Friday, September 9 with Ruby Rose Fox and Mount Peru == ::: BUY TICKETS NOW!! :::

Now for something entirely different. Well, not so different if you’ve been a regular reader of Musings from Boston, as we’ve often spoken fondly of Walter Sickert and The Army of Broken Toys. As always, they’ve been up to crazy big doings. Their amazing new album Come Black Magic will be officially unveiled at The Sinclair in Cambridge in what promises to be one of those legendary events that people will bragging about having been at years from now. The new album was premiered with a fascinating profile of and interview with the band by WBUR’s The ARTery.

As I’m racing to get this posted, all I will say about this fine music is 1) It’s ever bit as powerful and completely overwhelming as anything this phantasmagoria of a musical theatre troupe has ever done, and then some and 2) you might not want to listen to it just before you go to bed.

Get thee to The Sinclair on Friday night in your most exotic finery. And sweet dreams.

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Introducing… The Motivated Sequence

It’s a strange juxtaposition at first, the swelling strings and campy vintage sci-fi footage. But when the storyline kicks in for the title song from the debut album The Science. The Fiction. from Boston-based The Motivated Sequence, it makes a lot more sense.

“I am the science, I am the fiction, I am the novel that’s poorly written
I am the silence, I am the sound, I am the one that you never found
I’m the horizon, I am the shore, I am the calm just before the storm
I am the science, I am the fiction, I am the novel that’s poorly written

I stretch my arms down the East Coast to reach the conclusion
that no one really knows where they came from or where they are going
but they know the places that they miss the most.”

– The Science. The Fiction.

In this first single and throughout their ten-track album, there’s a feeling of melancholy and disconnectedness, despite the poppiness and hopeful exuberance of the lush strings, jangly guitar, organ melodies and driving percussion. There’s just something in lead singer Zach Burt’s voice that’s vulnerable and compelling. It draws you in to his story which, truth be told, is a little sad. It speaks of relationship misfires, miscommunication and disillusionment. In light of this, the clips of hapless travelers lost in space, floating around with their antiquated equipment, is perfectly apt.

The Motivated Sequence will be releasing the album at their record release show on November 2nd at the Middle East Upstairs (the show starts at 7 p.m.). Before that, they’ll be playing at O’Brien’s Pub on September 20th. Meanwhile, you can listen to the single on Spotify or check it out on Soundcloud.

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Introducing… The Runouts and Feculent Creatures

No, this isn’t an article about the current election season and all the incessant tweeting, baiting, name-calling and general appalling mayhem that has infected our daily existence. But you could be forgiven for thinking it was. No, The Runouts is a dirty, thrashy Boston punk band and “Feculent Creatures” is their wonderfully-titled single from their debut album, Pet Noises to be released September 8.

Feculent creatures
they walk among us, some disguised as children
abominable bipods
they’ve learned our ways, and they’ve formed their own culture
how did they do it
right under our nose? We should’ve sniffed out these monsters
sliding out of their dark, slimy tunnels
loudly spewing waste from their faceholes

I wish I could laugh, I wish I was kidding
but I feel I’ve got to stay vigilant
I thought I was jaded, I thought I was a cynic
was gonna check myself into a clinic
but I saw one day, through my mind’s x­ray, much to my dismay
all these people have shit for brains

you better watch out or you’re gonna turn into a feculent creature

here we go, the cycle never ends
I hate all of you, I hate you all

– Feculent Creatures

Wait a minute, maybe this is about Donald Trump supporters? In any case, it’s 2:01 of good ol’ “I’m from Boston, go f*ck yourself” brilliance. You know, maybe I actually do like living here. Or sometimes.

Though you can probably get the gist of what this band is all about from this one brief, beautiful frantic outburst, here’s the lowdown —

“Though The Runouts are known as a band that likes to have a good time (see: “The Runouts do Drunk History,” featuring lead singer Nolan Hill attempting to explain the Monica Lewinsky scandal while highly intoxicated), their lyrical content shows that the band has a definite message that they’d like to get across. On top of their pop-punk-esque music, the band features angry, sometimes downright hostile lyrics attacking society, religion, the family unit, consumerism, 9-5 culture, and everything else that has typically been held sacred under the American sun.” (from their press release)

Pet Noises was recorded, mixed, and co-produced by Richard Marr at his Galaxy Park Studios in Watertown, MA. The album was mastered at Peerless Mastering in Boston, MA by Jeff Lipton and his assistant mastering engineer Maria Rice. The album’s cover art was designed by Johnny “Peebucks” Bonnel from punk-pioneers the Swingin’ Utters, one of the band’s major influences.

If this seems to fit your mood at the moment, you can download “Feculent Creatures” for free from the band’s Soundcloud page. They also have a mini-tour of the East Coast coming up, with the official CD release show on Saturday, October 1 at the Cantab Lounge in Cambridge, with Mercury on Mars, Carissa Johnson, and DCDR. See their FB events page for details.

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Brooklyn Doran and The Villain

We first introduced you to Canadian musician Brooklyn Doran a few short months ago, but as her debut album These Paper Wings is due out on September 9, we’re revisiting this talented songstress to pass along a lovely second single from this upcoming release. It’s called “The Villain” and it stirs up some strong emotions about a relationship misadventure. It’s sad, but out of pain comes renewed strength and determination.

The music on the 7-track album straddles the line between folk and adult contemporary, but with a sharp edge and a strength of spirit not always found in the former and typically never found in the latter. As she describes it, the songs each represent a different time and place in her life within the past three years, and are about the different stages of being in love (or out of love). The video was filmed at Scarborough Bluffs in Toronto by Public Space Productions, created using a series of cinemagraphs.

Doran will be touring around Canada to support These Paper Wings, starting with an album release show on September 10 in Toronto at The Drake Hotel with Ukae and A Fellow Ship. For more information and a complete listing, see Bandsintown.

Track Listing

  1. Not the Time
  2. Sing Me Your Song
  3. I Found A Home
  4. Paper Wings
  5. Haunt Me
  6. The Villain
  7. Say The Worlds

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Introducing… Sofia Härdig

“Low and Slow,” the first single from And The Street Light Leads To The Sea (Solaris Empire), is anything but. From the beginning, this song by Swedish multi-instrumentalist and singer/songwriter Sofia Härdig is adreneline-pumping, edgy and tightly wound with considerable muscle and fury.

The upcoming album, due out October 28th, was recorded in Tambourine Studios. This first single promises a wild ride from the quartet — Härdig on vocals, guitar and synth; John Essing on guitar and synth; Per Svensson playing bass and Knut Finsrud on drums. It was mixed by Damian Press and produced by Damian Press, Sofia Härdig and John Essing. Mastering was done by Hans Olsson Brookes.

Known in her native Sweden as the “rocktronica queen of experimental music,” Härdig has collaborated with Bob Hund, The Hellacopters, Boredoms and Yoshimi P-We (Free Kitten). She has also opened for Stevie Jackson (Belle and Sebastian) and Lydia Lunch. Listening to Härdig’s lusty vocals, you can definitely hear how she’d be a natural opener for an artist with the gravitas of Lydia Lunch.

Of her inspiration and artistic vision, the artist says, “I find beauty in flaws and that which is not perfect is what excites me, I love the unusual, the unexpected, untrained and unplanned.”

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Introducing… Darling Cora

Darling Cora (a.k.a. Darlene Cuevas) has a secret weapon — it’s an impossibly supple voice that conjures the mysteries of the ages. It soars, glides and flutters overhead with the grace and fluidity of birds whle deftly accompanied by electric and acoustic guitar and strings with occasional touches of soft percussion that combines the best of classical, folk, jazz and shades of world music visited by exotic gypsies from a bygone era. Her astonishing debut album, Heart Strung Out, is a rich bouillabaisse of all these ingredients, yet the music never upstages her hypnotic vocals. Instead, it complements her beautifully, creating magical settings for her to truly shine.

As the album flows, just when you think you’ve figured out her sound, she suddenly surprises (such as with the tremendous power and passion of “Three Pennies Faling” and “Charade”). The album spans a range of emotions. As the artist herself explains, her debut is about “a young woman figuring out matters of the heart, especially to do with love — the good, the bad, the sweet, and the ugly. I wrote about different facets of loving, and how its lack or excess can wear upon the heart and psyche.”

Currently based in the Toronto area, Darling Cora has a pair of shows coming up — at The Cameron House in Toronto on September 23 and at the Red Brick Cafe in Guelph on October 8.

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James Edge and the Mindstep – “Four Two Four”

Previously introduced here at Musings from Boston, James Edge and the Mindstep find their strength and their voice in seemingly chaotic joinings — classical strings and modern jazz improvisation, chamber pop and unsettling lyrics, homey folk music and a confrontational punk attitude. This results in music that is highly listenable yet at the same time, complex and challenging. Their second single from upcoming album Machines He Made (due out later this year) is titled “Four Two Four,” and it’s scheduled for release on September 23 on Folkstock Records.

(from the press release): “Order becomes disorder and harmony springs from chaos… perverting the country shuffle into something darker and more abstract… snippets of melody are distributed like splashes of colour in a Pollack painting.”

“Four Two Four” is tightly wound music, highly dependant upon the skilled dexterity of all the players, threatening to come off the ramshackle rails at any moment. Lyrics are obscure enough to leave themselves open to interpretation, yet are laced with macabre imagery for a vaguely sinister tone. All this serves to keep the ears and the mind alert and fully engaged.

The players are: James Edge (acoustic guitar, vocals), Andy Waterworth (double bass), Avvon Chambers (drums) and Howard Gott (violin). The song was recorded by Tom Aitkenhead at Milk Studios, mixed by Tom Aitkenhead and James Edge and mastered by Ade Emsley at Table of Tone.

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Introducing… MYRKUR, from black metal to a mausoleum

Listening to the stunning new acoustic album by Scandinavian musician MYKUR, which glimmers with angelic women’s voices, classical guitar and instrumentation, would never guess that this beautifully enchanting spiritual sojourn was created by a woman who typically performs black metal. Mausoleum (Relapse Records) is aptly named, as it was recorded live in the historic Emanuel Vigeland Mausoleum in Oslo, Norway. The music is a stripped-down, dramatic rendition of 7 songs from her critically-acclaimed debut album released just one year ago, M, one new song and a Bathory cover. In this concert, she’s accompanied by the renowned Norwegian Girls Choir.

As you listen, imagine the backdrop — “a cold, dimly-lit tomb covered in morbid frescos that depict the circle of human life from conception til death.” Her voice is haunting and breathtaking; the minimalist acoustic accompaniment is delicate, powerful and sublime; the acoustics are superb and befitting the voices of angels.

MYRKUR is the one-woman project of the Danish composer classically-trained multi-instrumentalist and songwriter Amalie Bruun. She combines the raw fury of black metal bands such as Darkthrone and Ulver with ethereal beauty derived from nature. MYRKUR is signed to indie label Relapse Records.

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Says Ronley Teper and The Lipliners, Have Faith

Even without its accompanying psychotropic video, a mixed-media crazed cacophony masterminded by Davide Di Saro, the song “Faith” by Ronley Teper and The Lipliners is a very curious creature. It has a magical fairy princess vocal that innocently winds its way into the subconscious — “here comes faith, like a river to the soul,” while the music slowly builds into an ‘everything-but-the-kitchen-sink circus tent orchestra with a choral accompaniment of woodland hippies. The video itself, comprised of pencil and water color drawings, flash animation and 3D graphics, has a kind of Beatles ‘Yellow Submarine’ vibe, though perhaps with just a tinge of madness.

The message is of hope and faith in the face of unavoidable change toward the unknown. Here is the story of this fantastic voyage:

“The adventure unfolds among a living landscape representing the paradoxical friction of force between our real world and dreams to achieve. Within this world we gracefully follow a fantastical character roaming with his soul, toward an unalloyed river which streams silver shimmers of faith and optimistic peace. Ultimately the adventurous soul, embarks on a floating mountain disappearing in the distance while we learn how to respectfully pose an eternal farewell to what we have left behind.”

The video is part of an 8-year collaboration between Di Saro and Ronley Teper, performance artist turned musician. Their trilogy of animated films (this is the first) came out of massive upheaval in her life — a time when she got rid of everything from her clothes and belonging to her nostalgia and memories. The song “Faith” was a reminder to herself to accept the changes that ushered in a new chapter in her life and to overcome them.

Originally from South Africa and raised in Toronto, Ronley began playing guitar in high school to accompany her poems and monologues. She released her debut Stories From The Tray in 2001, which told the story of a naive waitress serving unsavory customers. Her follow-up, Cornered In The Alley, explored both universal love and everyday love, with all its ugly and beauful experiences. In her work with her many collaborators, she experiments with music as performance art.

Teper collaborates with a revolving cast of Canada’s finest artists in the indie music scene (in addition to puppets) to create art that combines poetry, comedy, magic, theatrics and good old-fashioned storytelling. In her new album, 20 short musical monologues are featured that were workshopped during improvisational shows where she and her musicians create startling new musical worlds.

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