musings from boston

screams, whispers and songs from planet earth

Month: May 2014

Delta Spirit blows the roof off The Middle East Downstairs (and has a new album coming soon)

Boston (and Cambridge) loves Delta Spirit. After Tuesday night’s FREE concert at The Middle East Downstairs, Bostonians are also quite fond of StubHub and Pandora, as they co-sponsored quite an amazing party for us. In addition to this free show with such a stellar band, there was also an open bar, complimentary posters (that were silk screened on site) and t-shirts. How could this not be great?

This wonderful evening was part of StubHub’s Next Stage Concert Series, which will also be stopping by Nashville and San Francisco. Their mission is to present “emerging artists in iconic clubs in exclusive live shows across the nation.” Nice.

It probably makes sense that Matt Vasquez and the boys have recently relocated to Brooklyn from Los Angeles. Though I have no doubt that their West Coast fans were sorry to see them go, the experiences I’ve had with them clearly show a bigger East Coast following. The last time I saw them, it was in Costa Mesa supporting Airborne. Despite being 45 minutes south of L.A., that OC audience was completely clueless as to who they were. Having seen the band about a week before at The NINES Festival in Devon, MA in front of a delirious crowd, all I could do was shake my head in disbelief.

Here now, back in Boston, they were clearly in their element, playing for a large number of fans who were there for the band first and the free booze second. Not to say that the open bar didn’t contribute to the mile-long line that snaked down Mass. Ave., but there were plenty of fans who had braved the rain and were pressed up against the stage, singing and swaying along. Their set was deeply satisfying, even given The Middle East’s abysmal basement acoustics. It was an overflowing basket of delectable classics — “Parade,” “Strange Vine,” “White Table,” “People C’mon,” “Trashcan,” “Children,” “California” and my teary-eyed favorite, “People, Turn Around” (which was performed as a triumphant encore – see below). They also unveiled three new songs from their upcoming album, Into the Wide, which is due out September 9, and which seems to be very much worth waiting for. They played “Live On,” “Language of the Dead” and “The Wolf.” It was a muscular and exhilarating performance; they’re definitely one of the finer live bands out there.

Setlist: Strange Vine, Tear It Up, Live On, Parade, Empty House, Language of the Dead, White Table, Money Saves, The Wolf, People C’mon, Bushwick Blues, Trashcan, Children, California // People, Turn Around

Here’s a teaser for the new album.

And here’s another teaser: Matt said they’ll be back in September.

Other videos filmed: Parade | White Table | People C’mon



Delta Spirit: web | facebook | twitter | youtube

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Boston’s Kristen Ford Sets Out on the Road with Dinosaur

Listening to Kristen Ford’s just-released album Dinosaur, the initial thought that came to mind — my first impression, if you will — was “strength and courage.” It comes across in the music with clear ringing guitar melodies, in comes through lyrically, and it’s especially evident in her powerful voice. If you enjoy listening to music that has an edge with an air of gutsiness and determination along with melodic prettiness, then definitely check this one out. After you listen, purchase a copy and support this fine musician on her musical journey.

The album was recorded with producers Dan Cardinal (of Josh Ritters’ Crew) and Jesse Ciarmataro (AKA Qwill) at Jamaica Plain’s Dimension Sounds.

Speaking of strength and courage, Kristen is poised to leave Boston, her home and music community for the past four years, to set out on the road full time. She and her band will be performing at the JP Block Party on June 15th, but after that, it’ll be Philly, Pittsburgh, Canton (OH), Columbia (MO), Middleton (WI)… see her tour schedule to see if she’ll be dropping by your town. It’s a massive thing, to believe in yourself and your music enough to make that big leap for 100% commitment, and we wish her well.

web | twitter | soundcloud | bandcamp | youtube

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Introducing… Talisco (from France)

From Paris-based indie label Roy Music comes some mighty impressive music from Talisco, who have just released their debut album, Run. I’m not sure what to make of this rather disturbing and haunting short-film (see below), but I have no doubts whatsoever about their music, which is exuberant, exhilarating and in places, breathtaking. There’s an expansive Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros/Of Monsters and Men aesthetic, steeped in traditional folk, but with an electro sort of candy coating. Pretty spectacular and quite addictive, actually.

I see now that Talisco is actually a French singer-songwriter, which makes this a solo project and all the more remarkable.

As for purchasing his music, I’m not sure about that iTunes France link above. You might want to try the Roy Music store, where you can purchase the debut album and also the first EP, My Home.

If you’d like to catch one of his/their shows, I’m afraid that for the time being, you’ll have to live in France, Switzerland or Germany. But if you do live in one of those places (or are visiting on holiday this summer) see the complete schedule. And definitely keep an eye (and ear) out for this one.

web | facebook | twitter | youtube | Roy Music | interview

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Celtic Revelry, Wayward Pirates and a Theramin: Flogging Molly and The Drowning Men at the Boston House of Blues

Nato Bardeen and friend of The Drowning Men

Nato Bardeen and friend of The Drowning Men

This is one of my infamous “long after the fact” reviews (Febuary 26, as it happens), but I felt it deserved some mention. For an atomic blasting off of cobwebs formed over a long hard winter, there was no finer lineup. The show was headlined by the Celtic punk band of gypsies, Flogging Molly. You’d be hard pressed to find a more appropriate ensemble to heat up a cold Boston night. Not being at all familiar with them (apart from from a misinformed idea of merely a drunken and rowdy Irish rock band), I was very pleasantly surprised. Don’t get me wrong, they are a rowdy Irish rock band, but they’re a whole lot more than just that, encompassing traditional Celtic instruments, noble values and awareness of sociopolitical issues — proud champions of the working man (and woman). No disrespect to the capacity crowd of drunken revelers who playfully moshed, brawled and toasted each other with hoisted drinks throughout the evening, but I’d love to see these guys do a quiet acoustic set sometime, with their banjo and bodhran, uilleann pipes, violin, accordion and tin whistle. They’re truly a class act.

The Drowning Men were the reason I came into town. I’ve loved these guys for a few years now. It was an inspired pairing of kindred spirits, apart from the fact that they’re on Flogging Molly’s own label, Borstal Beat Records. These bands work phenomenally well together. What more can I say about The Drowning Men that I haven’t said before? Their music is the sonic equivalent of an adventurous and slightly askew ocean voyage aboard a wayward schooner. By the end, you’re left feeling intoxicated, exhilarated, satiated… and a little dizzy. Suffice it to say they most certainly delivered this night.

Opening the evening was Lenny Lashley’s Gang Of One (previously the lead singer and guitarist of Boston punk band Darkbuster). He was great as well, performing no-nonsense, heartfelt music that appealed to this hometown crowd.

Other Drowning Men videos: Smile | Rita/Courageous Son







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Introducing… Milky Chance

photo by James Kendall

photo by James Kendall

What is this? Minimalist dance music? Alternative folk? Reggae? A pair of Germans doing a stoner parody of all three? And what’s with the band name, anyway? Milky Chance? It’s got 40 million views on YouTube, that’s what.

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Introducing The I Want You… Ah Really

photo by Christine Verret

photo by Christine Verret

Here’s some cool sounds for a warm spring or summer day (hang on, Boston, we’re getting there). The I Want You wants you to listen to their new EP, Ah Really. Ok, so that was a little too obvious. These guys are bright and colorful, from their sound, which is buoyant, spacey and punk-psychedelic, to their website, which is all about television color bars and crazy crayon rainbows. Ah Really has crazy colors too. There’s petulant punk and pretty melodies in the title track, and languid and dreamy vocal harmonies in “Queen Celeste” that almost sound Beatlesque. “Drifting” is exactly that, with the persistant percussion holding things together while the music and vocals weave in and out and meander around. “Not Giving It Up” is a compact gem, with its off-kilter vocals and bits of melodic dissonance that makes the song utterly delightful. “Total Disaster” throws everything out there, ending in wonderfully unhinged mayhem.

The I Want You features Jim Gerdeman (8-string bass, vocals), Jonathan Ulman (drums), Blake Girndt (guitar, vocals) and Jonathan Donaldson (guitar, casio, vocals). You know a band is serious when their instrumentation includes a casio. They have two local shows scheduled in the next few months. They’ll be at the Middlesex Lounge in Cambridge on June 4 for their EP release show (presented by priMORDIAL sOUNDS), along with Spirit Kid and Reports. On July 2, they head over to T.T. the Bear’s Place and will be playing with Joe Turner and the 7 Levels and Slowdim.

web | facebook | bandcamp | soundcloud

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Introducing… The Echo Friendly

Just a quickie to pass along a rather sad but very nicely done video for a lovely new song, “F*ck It And Whatever,” from Brooklyn-based The Echo Friendly. It comes from their debut album Love Panic, which comes into the world on May 20 via Yebo Records. In their music, the duo (Jake Rabinbach and Shannon Esper) navigate the trecherous seas of relationships and provide an honest, heartfelt narrative accompanied by nice and fuzzy, shimmery and melodic pop sounds. One of the songs on the album, “Same Mistakes,” was used on the first season of HBO’s acclaimed series, “Girls.”

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Owen Tromans ~ Examining the Golden Margins

Owen Tromans

Owen Tromans

Released today is a new album from Owen Tromans (San Lorenzo) called Golden Margins, on Sacred Geometry Records. In the past, he has supported Idlewild, Best Coast and Plush, and he’s been on collections with Mercury Rev and Devendra Banhart. For this new recording, he’s back with his band The Elders.

The music is beautiful and haunting with the sound steeped in the best of British chamber folk and 60s alt-country traditions. If there’s a radio single in this collection, it would have to be “Golden Margins,” which is more upbeat, punchy and lighthearted. And it’s got horns. But for a better idea of what the overall album sounds like, check out the gorgeous Americana melancholy of “Saltwater Curse” or the homey Byrds-esque backporch vibe of “White Candle Road.”


The album was recorded in the middle of winter in Hampshire, England with producer Dan Parkinson. Subject matter varies between the nostalgia of the autobiographical title track and the 17th century witch trials in England (“John’s on the Bridge”, “1682”). Light and dark, like the changing of the seasons. The instrumentation is colorful and varied, providing a rich palette of sounds and textures. There’s acoustic finger-picked guitar, horns, pedal steel, double bass, violin, piano, organ and accordion, and the band is joined by multi-instrumentalist Joe Bennett (The Dreaming Spires, Goldrush). “I Saw Him,” which closes the album, is a soft-spoken stunner.

web | wikipedia | twitter | youtube | soundcloud | Americana-UK interview | sacred geometry records

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Ronny Morris ~ “Built to Last” (Save the Arctic)

May Day seems the right time for this particular video. Ronny Morris is a Danish singer-songwriter who is very involved with environmental activism, working with Greenpeace and SaveTheArctic.org. His music has won awards and has been featured on One Tree Hill, Ghost Whisperer and other TV shows, but at the moment, he’s trying to spread awareness about global warming. He’s releasing three different videos set to his new song, “Built to Last,” one of which features Greenpeace in action (see below). The song comes from his debut album Sweet Silence. All proceeds from the single will be donated to Greenpeace, to support their efforts to have the Arctic declared a global sanctuary. SaveTheArctic.org is working for a ban on offshore oil drilling in the Arctic region and is trying to stop unregulated fishing in the area. They also support setting up a global sanctuary in the uninhabited region around the North Pole, which is pretty much a “no-brainer” at this point.

He’s really serious about this very serious issue, and has partnered with Spotify and YANGAROO to produce videos in different languages to get the message across. This latest one is video #2. You can see the first one on that video page, which features Morris walking around Los Angeles in a polar bear suit, with the original version of the song as the soundtrack. The remixes are available on an 8-track EP and features work by Michael A.M., Ganga, Leon El Rey and Rich Morel aka Pink Noise. You can purchase music and other merchandise from this project and support the vision.

Sign the Petition

If you support the idea of creating a protected global sanctuary around the North Pole, please visit SaveTheArctic.org and sign their petition.

web | facebook | twitter | youtube | savethearctic.org | greenpeace

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