musings from boston

screams, whispers and songs from planet earth

Month: March 2013

Nightmare Air Debut Album & Tour!

IMPORTANT: SHOWS AFTER 3/29 DURHAM, NH HAVE BEEN CANCELLED DUE TO AN IMPENDING AIRBORNE TOXIC EVENT (TOUR) (congratulations guys!)

A noisy and beautiful psychedelic assault comes to Allston tomorrow night.

Nightmare Air is a band I’ve written about before in musings, as part of my annual Eastside L.A. Roundups. They’re noisy, spacey, psychedelic, powerful, and they just released their debut album, High In The Lasers. It’s an otherworldly adventure from Dave Dupuis (guitar, vocals) and Swaan Miller (bass, vocals). Both have a rich history in L.A. bands—Dave is in the band Film School, and Swaan put out an acoustic album in 2003, later released on Important Records. Jimmy Lucido joins them on drums for a full sonic assault and a wall of glorious space and distortion. Vocals veer from ethereal to paint-peeling, and the effect is hallucinatory. It was mixed by Dave Schiffman (Nine Inch Nails, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, The Mars Volta) and mastered by Howie Weinberg (Nirvana, Sonic Youth, The White Stripes). They’re currently on tour across the U.S., about midway through (having just performed sold out shows in Cali with The Wedding Present and with fellow L.A. Eastsiders The Happy Hollows. Next up are visits to Boston, Brooklyn, New Hampshire, Maine, the Midwest and Denver, beginning tomorrow night at Great Scott in Allston.

They began back in 2008 after a Film School tour, releasing their debut EP in 2009 and touring the U.S. and Canada in support of it. They pulled off quite a feat last year for a little indie band, embarking on a 3-1/2 month, 9-country world tour with no label and no booking agency, and even before their debut album. Happily, they now have a label—two, in fact. Their debut is available from Vinyl Junkie in Japan (with alternate artwork and bonus tracks), and Saint Marie Records everywhere else. Shake off those winter cobwebs in a major way, and go see them live if you can.

web | facebook | twitter | YouTube | Filter Magazine interview (Nov. 2012)

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Mary Alouette brings gypsy jazz with a dose of electronica to the Cantab Thursday night

Next Thursday (March 21), Cantab Lounge (d.b.a. Club Bohemia) will experience a metamorphosis, turning into a gypsy jazz club of the 1930s, though with a distinctively modern twist. NYC-based Mary Alouette brings her band into town to celebrate the release of her new EP, The Lark. It follows her 2012 debut, Midas. If this were just a sassy jazz album with dazzling classical/gypsy guitar picking and a sultry and passionate vocalist, it would be wonderful. However, there’s something quite unexpected added into the mix on the new songs—a love of electronica.


Her passion for synths, beats, loop pedals and drum machines seems a bit strange when you consider her degree in opera and classical training as a vocalist. She merges all this with the gypsy guitar style of Django Reinhardt to create something quite magical. Her new album, recorded at ishlab studio in Brooklyn, is due out this month. It features an eclectic array of intrumentation—acoustic and Moog electric guitars, Moog Voyager synthesizer, loop pedals and drum machines and double bass— blending the boundaries between dance music, gypsy jazz and dreamy pop. Alouette regularly performs her gypsy jazz repertoire, and also works as a multi-instrumentalist, composer and assistant producer at ishlab, working with Daniel Lynas (A$AP Rocky, Das Racist, Neon Hitch, Skrillex). She’ll be performing with her band on Thursday night at 11pm at the Cantab’s downstairs stage.

web | facebook | twitter | bandcamp

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Introducing… Rice Cultivation Society

Hello everyone, I recently discovered something very beautiful. Since 2005, Rice Cultivation Society has been one guy (Derek Smith) living in Long Island, putting out lo-fi DIY home recordings. On his latest album released back in January, Sky Burial, he decided to bring a few friends in. The result is this gorgeous extended daydream that begins with some truly lovely John Fahey style acoustic guitar strumming and layered vocals, and then goes off into a multicolored guitar, percussion and strings-driven kaleidoscope. Folk, experimental, space music, orchestral—whatever the hell it is, it’s beautiful. Oh, and there’s some achingly lovely fragile vocals (as on the closing “Fading Stars”) that brings to mind Elliot Smith. Bejeebers, this is good.

As for their/his band name, apparently it’s a reference to a Tibetan tradition of allowing predatory birds to eat a corpse, as opposed to the more traditional burial or cremation practices. Even better. Sky Burial itself is an examination of the mystery of death, inspired by the myth of Icarus.

As fate would have it, this had been sitting in my inbox for a few months and I finally got around to listening tonight. Lo and behold, they’ve just announced a tour! Sadly, oh so sadly, they (so far) aren’t coming to Boston, but I’ll let you know where they are going. Definitely check them out if you can. And run right over to their bandcamp page and scoop this up.

Midwest/East Coast Shows

Fri 3/22 Buffalo, NY – Nietzsche’s
Sat 3/23 Columbus, OH – The Summit
Sun 3/24 Chicago, IL – Underground Wonder Bar
Mon 3/25 Chicago, IL – Wise Fool’s Pub
Tues 3/26 Bloomington, IN – Rachael’s Cafe
Wed 3/27 Gambier, OH – Village Inn
Thurs 3/28 Pittsburgh, PA – Howlers
Fri 3/29 Philadelphia, PA – Church of the Advocate
Sat 3/30 Babylon, NY – Twisted Shamrock

facebook | bandcamp | mecca lecca

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Schooltree revisits the ’70s with their rock opera “Rise” – record release party Friday night!

Schooltree Record Release
w/ Count Zero and WANTON REVELRY
Friday, March 15th @ the Lizard Lounge
8:30 doors, 9pm show | 21+, $10 cover
::: BUY TICKETS ::: | facebook event

This is going to be a very special event to celebrate the release of Rise, a modern take on the 1970s rock opera, very convincingly masterminded by the inimitable Lainey Schooltree Steamy Bohemians, Jerkus Circus, Bent Wit Cabaret).


I don’t think just anyone could have pulled this off. Lainey is the prog rock queen of modern times, with her Broadway musical vocals and theatrical cabaret presentation. You only have to know that she’s a fan of both Queen and Steven Sondheim to understand this completely.

On Rise, this musical journey is nothing short of epic and while strongly recalling the piano driven orchestral drama, screaming rock god guitar, vocal histrionics and sweeping harmonies of what was a proud art form of the time, it is also imbued with a contemporary feel. This isn’t just parody (though it did put a big smile on my face upon first hearing). No, it’s an honest depiction of present day struggles through the looking glass of the past, with a strong sense of reverence. As for the doom and gloom subject matter, the breakdown of society, feelings of alienation and loss, hope and salvation… well, all that’s eternal, isn’t it?

I’m unable to share anything off the new album with you (you’ll have to go to the Lizard Lounge on Friday night for that), but if you’re unfamiliar with Schooltree, have a listen below to a performance of “Everyman” from the Lizard Lounge back in February of last year.

This isn’t just any run-of-the-mill record release with any old backing bands either. “Wanton Revelry” isn’t the name of a new Allston punk band; it’s billed as “bombastic burlesque, sexy satyrs, olympian comedy, devastating elegance!” If you’ve been to any Schooltree performances in the past, especially Bent Wit Cabaret events, you will definitely recognize at least a few of these names… UnAmerika’s Sweetheart Karin Webb, Femme Bones, Lolli Hoops, Jade Sylvan, and there will be other special guests as well. Count Zero will close out the evening’s festivities, performing their first full show in almost a year. Definitely something you won’t want to miss.

web | facebook | bandcamp

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The Secret’s Out Now (but you’ll have to wait for the full album)

Ok, that was pretty corny, but inevitable. The Airborne Toxic Event release their teaser EP called The Secret today (3/11), just ahead of their third full-length studio album, Such Hot Blood, which might be out April 16 (no formal date from Island Def Jam). The album was recorded at the legendary Blackbird Studios in Nashville with producer Jacquire King (Of Monsters and Men, Tom Waits, Modest Mouse, Buddy Guy, Cold War Kids, Dawes).


Timeless by The Airborne Toxic Event

I will be reviewing the new album, so stay tuned. But for now… The Secret, locked inside feverish memories, with a sense of urgency and the madness of a remembered love; you can’t hide, and everyone knows everything anyway… Timeless, the enduring soul, visitations from spirit; a close bond that transcends time, ageless, ancient, celebratory, defiant… The Storm, a wistful longing, the yearning not to be alone… Safe, lost in one’s thoughts, in a half-forgotten dream; the past is relived in the telling of a story, with words repeated like a chanted meditation. These songs feel more than ever like a sleepwalk into the pages of a novel, into the author’s memories with a small, focused light left on to guide you. This is poetic folk music infused with a pounding heartbeat and the dramatic flourish they’ve become known for.

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The Next Day: David Bowie’s State of the World Address

[an abridged version is up on Ryan’s Smashing Life]

What is most compelling about David Bowie’s first studio album in a decade, The Next Day, is not the brilliance of this album, but the brilliance of the timing of this album. A key part of Bowie’s genius, from his earliest incarnations to the present day, is his uncanny ability to be at the right place at the right time—with the right musical statement. He has always been the man of the hour, whatever the hour happens to be.

For the past 10 years, our Chief Observer who was always there, holding up a mirror to our hopes and dreams, our fears and insecurities, our pop culture and sacred cows, had covered that mirror with a dark shroud and walked away from public life. He went off to live his life, and left us to live ours, unobserved and unrecorded. But it’s 2013, and Bowie’s back. Why now? Maybe it’s because we need him, or because he needs us. Or it’s that all this clutter and confusion, the growing chasm of human experience and sense of alienation feels too important to be just sitting and watching from the sidelines. Perhaps he feels the need to weigh in and shine his light upon this time in our collective history. Maybe it’s less a concern about legacy, and simply an eagerness to join in on the conversation.

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