musings from boston

screams, whispers and songs from planet earth

Month: May 2013

Introducing Hands (from Los Angeles) ~ Synesthesia & tour

photo courtesy of David Morrison

photo courtesy of David Morrison

Looks like we’ll be on a little “Eastside L.A. kick” for a few days. Hands actually began in Philadelphia with Geoff Halliday on vocals and keyboards and Ryan Sweeney on guitar, but then migrated to Silver Lake, where Sean Hess (drums) and Alex Staniloff (bass) joined them and all apparently partook of those mystical underground spring waters that make bands in this particular neighborhood of Los Angeles really, really good. This is exuberant synth pop that wouldn’t be unwelcome by fans of Passion Pit, Foster the People — or the 1980s, for that matter. This is some good bouncy stuff for moving around to in a sweaty club.

Although they only just became a band last year, they’ve already played at SXSW, CMJ and DeLuna Fest, and have had some considerable mainstream media attention. This includes ABC News’ “7 Emerging Artists On The Rise,” The Guardian’s “New Band Of The Day” and Time Magazine’s list of “11 bands you don’t know (but should).” Last month, they released their debut full-length, Synesthesia on Kill Rock Stars.

One stand-out track for me is “Brave Motion,” which also comes with a pretty awesome video. Check it out. They’ll be stopping off in Boston (Allston) at Great Scott on Tuesday night. See their East Coast tour dates below.

And speaking of Passion Pit, living in the Boston area as I am, I would be remiss in not including Hands’ remix of Passion Pit’s “It’s Not My Fault.” So here it is.

Upcoming Shows

6/1 New York City, NY @ Glasslands
6/2 Philadelphia, PA @ Kung Fu Necktie Doors @ 8pm
6/3 New York City, NY @ Pianos Doors @ 7:45pm
6/4 Allston, MA @ Great Scott Doors @ 9pm
6/5 Montreal, QC, Canada @ Il Motore Doors @ 8:30pm
6/6 Toronto, ON, Cananda @ The Drake Hotel Doors @ 8pm
6/7 Pittsburgh, PA @ 6119 Penn Avenue
From there, it’s on to the Midwest and West Coast. For their complete schedule, see their website

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The Happy Hollows ~ “Endless” (from upcoming new album!)

photo by Fisher Phillips

photo by Fisher Phillips

How I love this Eastside L.A. band, and this new song foretells wonderful things about The Happy Hollows’ upcoming album, Amethyst, which is due out July 30 on Pesky Fruit Music. According to Pinpoint Music, the album was recorded with producer Lewis Pesacov (Best Coast, Fools Gold) at Black Iris studios in Echo Park and Infrasonic Sound in Los Angeles, and apparently they’ll be introducing some synth and drum machine sounds into the mix with Sarah’s delicious guitar shredding. Sounds interesting! For now, here’s “Endless” — and stay tuned! Here’s hoping for some East Coast tour dates when Amethyst comes out…

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The Bats – Spring 2013 U.S. Tour!

Heads up, New Zealand Flying Nun indie pop fans! We have a real treat coming right up on the horizon. Direct from Christchurch, The Bats are here for a 12-date tour across the U.S., stopping off in Boston at the cozy Great Scott this Sunday (June 2). Not only are The Bats one of the legendary bands from back in those heady ’80s. Along with bands like The Clean, The Chills and The Verlaines, they defined that classic “Flying Nun sound” — pretty, chiming, jangly guitar-based pop music that dances happily around positively dismal lyrics. Love it.

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Starlight Girls’ 7×3 – a Xiu Xiu collaboration

Here’s a little departure for me from what I typically post, but I really like this one. It’s the new single from Starlight Girls, which was produced by Xiu Xiu’s Jamie Stewart. This song is the A-side of a glow-in-the-dark star wheel 7″ record that they’re putting out on Brooklyn-based Ooh La La Records. Try this one out for a sultry and sensuous groove in which to begin your week after the long holiday weekend. Niiiiiice.

P.S. to NY’ers – they’ll be at Glasslands Gallery in Brooklyn on 7/2.

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The Airborne Toxic Event in Boston & Burlington: All Good Things Great and Small

Boston House of Blues

Boston House of Blues

This is to be a tale about an epic performance in a big hall, and those little things that most people will never notice. The massive preparation and myriad of minute details of a touring rock ‘n’ roll band, and the inexplicable magic of people reaching a place of connection in a piece of music.

A Grand Production

It’s obvious that a lot of forethought goes into The Airborne Toxic Event’s live shows. There’s the planning of the set list, which on this current tour to support their new release, Such Hot Blood, seems to mutate not only to keep things fresh for the band and for the “frequent flyers” in the audience, but also to reflect particular local favorites and tweeted requests as they come along. Additionally, set lists are adjusted “on the fly” to accommodate mood shifts and atmospheric changes in the venue. Seriously. You rarely if ever see that level of attentiveness on the part of a touring musician. For a full stage performance like the House of Blues in Boston, there’s the stage set, which for the last few tours has been minimalist but incorporating the emotionally-charged, instantly recognizable symbols from their debut album. Those leafless winter trees and the injured bird who flies bravely on despite being pierced through by one of life’s arrows are a metaphor for the band’s central theme of enduring hardship and dancing through disaster. There’s even synchronized lighting, which helps turn a cool rock show into musical theater, complementing the orchestral arrangements and poetic lyrics and visuals. All of it comes together to bring the audience along on an emotional journey. Each song is a mini soundtrack unto itself for a loosely choreographed act of a play where band members move between instruments, interacting with the fans and with each other. Nothing less would be fitting to introduce such a dramatic and emotional album.

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Boston Calling ~ May 25 & 26 ~ welcome to the city’s first rock festival!

Boston Calling
City Hall Plaza, Boston
May 25 & 26, 2013
::: buy tickets :::
(VIP tix only)

Saturday, May 25

Fun. ~ The Shins ~ Marina and the Diamonds ~ Matt and Kim ~ Portugal. The Man ~ Cults ~ Ms Mr ~ Bad Rabbits ~ St. Lucia

Sunday, May 26

The National ~ Of Monsters and Men ~ Young the Giant ~ Andrew Bird ~ Dirty Projectors ~ Ra Ra Riot ~ The Walkmen ~ Youth Lagoon ~ Caspian


So I would be remiss in not acknowledging and commemorating the City of Boston’s very first music festival. Boston Calling is a 2-day extravaganza being held May 25 & 26 at City Hall Plaza, right in the center of Boston. For anyone who attended WFNX’s ‘Best Music Poll’ show back in 2009, this is a really cool location for live music. They also happen to have a pretty stellar line-up, no doubt due to the involvement of the National’s Aaron Dessner, who helped to curate. There are two local bands on the bill as well (which doesn’t always happen at these sorts of things — instrumental group Caspian (from Beverly) and Bad Rabbits (from Boston).

Unfortunately, after I’ve just hyped it like that, regular tickets and passes are completely sold out. However, if you’re well-heeled and enjoy the ‘Rock Star Treatment,’ you can still get single day or weekend VIP passes, which include your own entrance, VIP lounge access, food and a private bar, private restrooms and some festival swag. See the line-up below and check out a few of the featured artists performing. Happy Festival, Boston!

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If you’re going to see Airborne tonight… (get there early)

Just a quickie this morning to say how excited I am to see another band this evening… Kodaline. They’re from Ireland, they sound very lovely, and they’re opening up the show for The Airborne Toxic Event tonight. I’m pretty sure the show is sold out, but you might want to check Ticketmaster, as a handful were recently released. Check out this amazing song and video from Kodaline, and if you’re going tonight, be sure to get there early to the House of Blues so you can see this fine band. Doors are at 7pm, show at 8.

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Nightmare Air Return to Boston (well, Somerville actually)

Ah, the ups and downs and overall strangeness of being in an indie rock band. One day, it’s supporting The Airborne Toxic Event in big sold out love fests and the next, it’s a hard slog middle slot at the living room-sized P.A.’s Lounge in that hipster enclave, Somerville. Actually, I think P.A.’s knocked a wall down recently, so make that a large living room. If you need to have your face melted with a densely layered psychedelic-tinged full-on noise party, Nightmare Air can most definitely help you out.


They released their debut album back in March, and have some East Coast and West Coast dates planned for this month. Go see them. At P.A.’s they’re listed as second band up after Joe Turner & the Seven Levels. Tennis System is headlining. For now, turn up the volume on the video below, and imagine what this will sound like in a small room. Yowsa.

5/8 – PA’s Lounge – Somerville, MA – w/ Tennis System (L.A.), Heaven (NYC) and Joe Turner & the Seven Levels
5/9 – Shea Stadium – New York, NY – w/ Tennis System and Dead Leaf Echo
5/10 – Union Pool – New York, NY – w/ Tennis System and Heaven
5/13 – The Barbary – Philadelphia, PA – w/ Tennis System
5/15 – On the Rox (The Roxy) – Los Angeles, CA
5/20 – The Echo – Los Angeles, CA – w/ Torches (residency)
5/30 – Silverlake Lounge – Los Angeles, CA – w/ United Ghosts (residency)
6/14 – Toronto, Canada – NXNE Festival

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Tennis System | Heaven | Joe Turner & the Seven Levels | Torches | United Ghosts | Dead Leaf Echo

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