musings from boston

screams, whispers and songs from planet earth

Month: March 2015

Introducing… Man Called War

This crossed my consciousness recently, quiet contemplations drifting by like daydreams, birds across a dreamy cloud-filled sky. Man Called War, brought into being by Boston-based singer-songwriter Rob Kelly, just released what appears to be their debut album, Naked Animals. This quietly compelling album centers around sometimes whispered, sometimes languid vocals and soft acoustic guitar, with touches of strings, other subtle instrumentation and mysterious spoken-word overlays that feel like the endless din of subconscious thoughts. It all creates a powerful hypnotic effect, like an aural black hole. These are contemplations about real-life situations with mythological metaphors and biblical overtones — modern tales through the gauzy perspective of folklore.

Man Called War cites influences as far-ranging as Gregory Alan Isakov, Frightened Rabbit, Nick Drake and The Avett Brothers. They previously released a 3-song demo in October of last year called The Eastern Seaboard Demo, so it seems to be quite early days yet. Looks like we’re off to a very nice start!

“Let your trembling tongue
form holy words.
Let his skin be a blank page
and write new scriptures.

Give up the ghost-
time don’t pay, she owes.”
– Ghost

I’ll leave you with Rob Kelly’s personal take on this auspicious debut — “The album is based off of something I heard once about life in your twenties, ‘I can never decide if I’m an absolutely awful person or the best person in the world.'”

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Introducing… Whirr

I’m not so sure it was necessary for San Francsico/Philadelphia band Whirr to have named this particular song “Heavy.” It is from last year’s album Sway (on Gravefrace Records). As I’m listening to it through my Netbook’s tiny tinny speakers, the thing is massive, pouring out over everything in the room, making the label superfluous. Whirr, too, is well named. Like the musical equivalent of several thick ingredients put on high cycle in an industrial blender, the result is a cacophonous aural assault. But in amongst the sheer density of sound is some pretty, fuzzy melodic shoegaze that swirls all around you, mixing you in so that you lose sense of time and space.

For all the tightness of their sound, Whirr is one of those unlikely bicoastal bands. After touring in 2013 with Philadelphia band Nothing, Whirr bassist Nick Bassett and Nothing’s Dominic Palermo formed Death of Lovers, and Bassett ended up remaining on the East Coast, where he also became Nothing’s permanent bassist. Sway, as a result, was composed on both coasts, with the rest of the band in San Francisco. What ended up happening with that geographically challenging situation has been the entire band contributing to the album’s material and arrangements. Sway was produced by longtime collaborator Jack Shirley.

When you’ve peeled yourself off the wall, have a listen to their lovely 2013 album Pipe Dreams.

Their tour begins in Denver on April 2 and moves across the U.S. to end in Oakland, California on April 25. See below for East Coast dates. At the Cambridge show, they’ll be performing with Adventures and Funeral Advantage. If zoning out while you’re bulldozed by a wall of sound seems like the perfect evening, you should definitely catch these guys. And bring earplugs. With a name like Whirr, it’s bound to be loud. Safety first, folks.

Whirr – East Coast Shows

April 8 – New York, NY @ Baby’s All Right
April 9 – Cambridge, MA @ Middle East Upstairs facebook event :: BUY TICKETS ::
April 10 – Washington, DC @ DC9
April 11 – Philadelphia, PA @ Ortlieb’s (early all ages)
April 11 – Philadelphia, PA @ Ortlieb’s (late +21)

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Introducing… The *First* Aputumpu Music Festival Boston

What began four years ago as a Brooklyn, New York festival for local bands starting to get known in the area has now spread to Boston. The festival organizers felt there was a similar need here for a high profile showcase for smaller bands beginning to receive local acclaim. The first annual (hopefully) Aputumpu Music Festival – Boston is set to take place on Friday, April 10 and Saturday, April 11 at The Middle East Downstairs. It’s a humble beginning that will showcase ten of Boston’s rising stars.

Here’s the line-up, and here’s the ::: facebook event :::

April 10th – 18+ – 7PM
Festival Pass: $30
Early: $15/ $17/ 22
Tickets Day 1: http://tktwb.tw/1AYrJ80

Ripe
Jam band.

Tigerman WOAH
Old-time country.

Evolfo
A group of gypsies fusing of classic funk with high-energy dance music.

Osekre and The Lucky Bastards
Indie pop.

Mad Satta
Eight-piece soul/R&B ensemble that combines old school soul with hip-hop, rock and jazz.

 

Saturday, April 11th – 18+ – 7PM
Festival Pass: $30
Early: $15/ $17/ 22
Tickets Day 2: http://tktwb.tw/1zTNhx1

Debo Band
An 11-member ensembles that performs Ethiopian pop music that combines traditional scales and vocal styles with soul and funk rhythms with instrumentation similar to Eastern European brass bands.

Federator No 1
An afro-pop/world music band comprising members from Soulfege, Shake Senora, Rebel Tumbao, Iyeoka, and more.

Atlas Soul
Performing original music that celebrates polyrhythm & melodies rooted in the Afro-Mediterranean traditions and blend them effortlessly with deep jazz, funk and intelligent hip hop.

Kina Zoré
A six-piece band led by Mozambican songwriter Helder Tsinine that plays electric African rhythms with triumphant horns and uplifting vocals.

Lamine Toure and Group Saloum
An Afro-pop band founded by world-renowned griot percussionist Lamine Touré, They fuse Senegalese mbalax with elements of jazz, funk, reggae, and Afrobeat.

 

The Aputumpu Music Festival Boston: official site | facebook | twitter

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Introducing… Kat Quinn

photo by Erika Rae

photo by Erika Rae

When a heart-tugging voice, hard-hitting lyrics and poignant imagery combine, it can be a powerful force. “Phoenix” is a compelling piece of storytelling from Marblehead, Massachusetts native Kat Quinn. This exquisite song comes from her third EP, due out this summer. The video, directed by Ryan Nocella and produced by Gold Street Collective, juxtaposes a vintage romance in its blossoming, falling apart and aftermath with Quinn in the present day, surveying and coming to terms with the damage, eloquently portrayed as she wanders wistfully through a derelict house. It is a visceral soundtrack to her brutally honest insight. She indeed rises from the ashes of that broken romance as she’s shown running carefree through an open field, baggage cast off and freed from her memories.

You can purchase “Phoenix” on iTunes.

Kat Quinn moved the New York in 2011, changing her musical hobby into a profession and teaming up with producer Peter Calo (Carly Simon) to record her debut EP, Exhale and with Adam Rhodes (Bon Iver) on Kind of Brave. She gained national attention when she recently appeared on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon in his “Battle of The Instant Songwriters.” She was one of three people who were given a title and less than an hour to compose a song around it. Her on-the-spot song was “Clouds Are People Too.” In the past several years she has found her voice, a blend of exuberant folk-pop and introspective storytelling built on the solid foundation of complex emotions.

Quinn has just released her next single, “Going Home.” It’s perfect timing, too, as she’ll be returning to her hometown of Marblehead on Friday, April 3 for a special performance at the intimate Me and Thee Coffeehouse. Tickets are available here.

She’ll also be performing at Postcrypt Coffeehouse in NYC on 3/28 and at Seamstress in NYC on 4/9.

“Your words fall as softly as a bomb
And I survey the damage after you’re gone
Your words fall as lightly as a brick
And I wish I hadn’t walked right under it

Your eyes warm me like a house of snow
And I spent months shivering, wondering why I’m cold
Your eyes are cozy like a kitchen knife
And I wish I hadn’t cut myself so many times

Your hands hold me like a slip ‘n slide
And I think I deserve a safer places to hide
Your hands comfort me just like a gun
And I wish that I had been brave enough to run

I need somebody who loves me more
Than half of the time
I need somebody who loves me more
Than some of the time

Your love saved me like a broken raft
And I clung steady like I wanted to sink fast
Your love saved me like a wild flame
But I won’t lie with the ashes you laid
No I will rise stronger than yesterday”

– Phoenix

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Introducing… ColorGrave

The cover photo for ColorGrave’s debut single, “Fever Dreams” shows a couple’s bed, two pillows side by side. Both literal and symbolic, it is a place of intimacy, but also a place where one surrenders to the wills of Morpheus and the power of media-induced temptations on the sleep-liberated mind. One’s conscious desire to remain faithful to one’s partner does battle with subconscious fantasies and buried desires. Such is the subject matter of this moody and pensive Boston band’s first release.

“Fever, let me be, don’t fill my sleep with others, she’s what I’ve always dreamed of.”

Mind you, I use the word “moody” is the best possible way. There some darkness and melancholia here, but the vocals are intensely personal, inviting and enveloping like a warm blanket. ColorGrave is the duo of classically trained vocalist Thomas Morris and producer Rob Wu (drums, guitar and programming). Their blend of digital sounds with analog instruments gives the music a lush and welcoming quality. Their plans for 2015 and into the future are to release a series of singles, remixes and other content. For now, you can hear “Fever Dreams,” written and produced by ColorGrave and engineered by Eric Mitchell (NU.F.O.) on Souncloud or on Spotify.

In an interview with Michael Marotta in Vanyaland, Wu explains the inspiration:

“The song is sung from a male’s perspective and every time the chorus hits, he’s trying to remind himself to wake up and not get sucked into the fantasy — or in the figurative sense, the over sexification of America, which includes unobtainable body shapes, polish, Photoshopped faces. All that stuff isn’t real.”

Boston-area music fans will have their introduction to this promising band very soon, since ColorGrave will be performing their debut show on April 19 at The Middle East Upstairs, as part of the Lysten Boston Anniversary Show that also features Miss Geo (EP release), Casey Desmond and Connecticut band Child Actor. That’s some line-up!

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Kristen Ford’s “Radio” from her upcoming album “Tighten It Up”

We’ll start off a series of Boston artists with a former Boston artist, a recent defection to Austin. Kristen Ford, whom we’ve covered before, has released the first single from her upcoming live video album titled Tighten It Up. On this new album, multi-instrumentalist Ford explores the musical possibilities of live looping as a one-woman-band, adding guitars, pedal effects, drums and her vocals into the mix in ever flowing, creative ways. No editing, no studio magic, no auto-tune; what you see is what you get. At a time when nearly everything is processed and filtered, it’s refreshing to see an artist confident enough to work without a net. You watch as it unfolds and her smooth style draws you in, as does her personally invested lyrics. Her no-nonsense style comes through loud and clear in this format, adding to the poignancy of her music.

Tighten It Up was written and produced by Kristin Ford, engineered and mixed by Dan Cardinal (Josh Ritter, Lake Street Dive, Ray Lamontagne) at Dimension Sound Studios in Jamaica Plain, MA and mastered by Ariel Bernstein, with video production by Cable Line Entertainment. The video album is available on Pivotshare and the audio release (digital or CD) is available on her bandcamp. She’s currently out on the West Coast performing. See her schedule for a list of dates.

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Teddybears and Baby Trish ask “What’s Your Problem?”

If you’re a regular Musings from Boston reader, you’ll know that I don’t often cover rap music or techno. You’ll also know that I cover Grammy Award winning mainstream artists even less seldom. I’m going to have to make an exception in both cases for three bears from Sweden and a little girl from Jamaica. This song called “What’s Your Problem” is the brainstorm of Swedish hip-hop/electro/Brit-pop/indie/rave/whatever trio Teddybears with the help of an amazingly talented 12-year-old girl called Baby Trish. It has become a huge sensation in Sweden, with a live appearance at Grammisgalan, the Swedish equivalent of the Grammy Awards.

What makes the song even more special (I mean, apart from a 12-year-old Jamaican girl expertly rapping to a hypnotic electro-pop song performed by three Swedish men in suits wearing bear heads) is that it’s a song with a mission: to fight against prejudice, inequality and racism, and to support understanding, open-mindedness and tolerance. This is a little girl and three bears with an important message, to challenge people “to truly look beyond skin colour, hear beyond genre and focus on what matters most: the core of their message!” They also want everyone to know that the power is theirs to take charge of their lives, make their own decisions and make a difference. The song is out now via Stranded Records/Polydor Swede. You can grab it from iTunes.

Teddybears, originally a grindcore group called Skull, features Jocke Åhlund, Klas Åhlund and Patrik Arve. They have worked with artists as diverse as Iggy Pop, Cee-Lo, Madonna, Flaming Lips, Daft Punk and Snoop Dogg. They’re among the first to cross musical boundaries, combining rock, hip-hop, pop, electro and dancehall music to create their own wacky sound. They’ve been nominated for a Grammy twice and have won nine Swedish Grammys. Teddybears first met Baby Trish when she was just 9 and already performing around Jamaica.

From the press release:

What’s Your Problem? is not a just a single. It is a whole movement which even comes with its own instruction manual:

  1. Ask yourself this: What’s your problem with someone of different gender? What’s your problem with someone of different skin colour? What’s your problem with someone of different religion? What’s your problem with someone different? What’s your problem?
  2. Ask yourself again: No really, what is your problem?
  3. Press play.

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Seasons Gets Ready to Release their Debut Album!

Big doings going on for Highland Park, Los Angeles band Seasons. Their debut album Everything Changes is set for release on March 31, and you can watch the video for the latest single, “Coppertone.” It’s a celebratory tone that begins in an electronic synth-pop sort of way and happily mutates into a full-on band sound with happily shouted harmonies and dueling violin and horn (and everyone else). A glorious celebration is most definitely in order, since the last time we checked in with this fine ensemble was last summer and we were talking about their debut album due out in the autumn. Yeah, shit happens, but here we are with the release now imminent, and it’s a happy day indeed.

The band is currently in residency at Harvard and Stone in Los Angeles playing FREE SHOWS every Tuesday.

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