musings from boston

screams, whispers and songs from planet earth

Month: February 2016

Vandaveer’s “A Little Time Off Ahead” Video

Though we first introduced you to Vandaveer back in December, their album The Wild Mercury is now out, along with a really sweet (but ultimately kinda sad) video for “A Little Time Off Ahead.”

The video features the considerable talents of frontman Mark Charles Heidinger and director/animator Michael Lloyd.

“My goal for the video was to evoke the feeling of a children’s book as a complement to the song’s lyrics and melody,” declares Lloyd. “Both literally in the story arc and stylistically through a cut paper style and simple lines in the animation. Weaving elements of the real world with fantastical adventures, I hoped to convey a world and story that feel both timeless and contemporary, touching on the universal sentiment of longing for the ones we love.”

At the risk of dating myself horribly, the animation for me is kinda reminiscent of the Dire Straits’ “Money For Nothing” (remember that, kids?). If you do the crime, you do the time. And sometimes even if you don’t do any crime, you do the time. Alas.

Upcoming Shows

4/8 The Southern Cafe & Music Hall – Charlottesville, VA
4/12 Columbus Theatre – Providence, RI
4/13 Atwood’s Tavern – Cambridge, MA
4/15 Union Hall – New York, NY
4/16 Club 603 – Baltimore, MD

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Sarah Neufeld (from Arcade Fire) unveils a new solo album & spring tour!

With all of the majesty of her violin playing in Arcade Fire and soaring into the stratosphere with ethereal soundscapes and wordless, soaring vocals, Sarah Neufeld carries us along on a mysterious journey in her sophomore solo album, The Ridge, just released today on Paper Bag Records. The music plays like a breathless soundtrack for an adventure movie set in windswept deserts and distant galaxies. She coaxes many different sounds and textures from her luscious violin, tastefully accompanied with percussion and her own angelic volcals to provide depth and additional colors without taking anything away from the focal point of the soaring, gliding strings.

She’s joined on the album by fellow Arcade Fire bandmate Jeremy Gara on drums and percussion. Saxophonist Colin Stetson, who collaborated with Neufeld on last year’s Never Were the Way She Was, contributes brief exotic interludes performed on a lyricon, a mouth-controlled synthesizer. Her debut solo album was Hero Brother, released in 2013. The Ridge is a gorgeously imaginative collection. It’s intriguing from beginning to end, but personal favorites are in the middle, starting with the starkly fresh, original and minimalist “The Glow,” moving through the otherworldly, hypnotic “Chase the Bright and Burning” and ending with “A Long Awaited Scar,” which to me sounds like a symphony of joyously fluttering birds, slowly developing into a woodland cacophony. The album concludes on a somewhat somber and wistful note with “Where The Light Comes In.”

Neufeld will be bringing her stunning new music across the U.S. and Canada for a spring tour.

Tour Dates

March 22: San Francisco, CA – Swedish American Hall
March 24: Portland, OR – The Mission Theater
March 25: Seattle, WA – Columbia City Theater
March 28: Golden, BC (CA) – Civic Centre
March 30: Saskatoon, SK (CA) – The Bassment
April 1: Winnipeg, MB (CA) – West End Cultural Centre
April 3: Minneapolis, MN – Cedar Cultural Center
April 5: Milwaukee, WI – Colectivo Coffee
April 6: Evanston, IL – Space
April 7: Chicago, IL – Virgin Hotel Chicago
April 9: Toronto, ON (CA) – The Rivoli
April 10: Montreal, QC (CA) – La Sala Rossa
April 11: Quebec City, QC (CA) – Anti
April 13: Portsmouth, NH – 3S Artspace
April 14: Boston, MA – Cafe 939 @ Berklee
April 15: New York, NY – Le Poisson Rouge


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Introducing… Drangsal

Would you care to join us in a little 1980’s style ear candy? We’re not typically the sort of publication that likes comparing bands to other bands, but for German one-man-band, indie artist and producer Drangsal, his influences are quite obvious, in a most respectful and delicious way. So let’s just say that if you enjoy bands like The Cure, Joy Division and Depeche Mode, we have a very new artist to highly recommend. His debut album is called Harieschaim, and it comes out on April 22 on Caroline International. For now, enjoy the lead single, “Allan Align.”


Drangsal (a.k.a. Max Gruber) is now based in Berlin, but he was born in a small town once known as Herxheim (now Harieschaim). It was a place used for ancient ritual, where mass graves were found in an 1996 excavation. The inhabitants were believed to be part of a skull cult that engaged in ritual cannibalism. A proud heritage if I ever heard of one. This is not to say that his music is necessarily morose, but it’s certainly something interesting to keep in mind as you listen.

In recent times, Gruber’s father was a pub owner who recorded mixtapes to play in his establishment, providing his son with his earliest musical introduction. The young boy became enamored with English music, MTV, Marilyn Manson — and ended up leaving his quiet town to seek his musical fortune. After travels through Landau, Mannheim and Leipzig, he ended up in Berlin, meeting up with musical comrades such as producer Markus Ganter, and then set out to work on his debut album. There is some darkness inside him, an abyss, but he turns the pain into expressive music.

“If I told people on the street about what’s going on inside me, I’d have issues — but when I sing about it, it makes people dance. And at the end of the day I’d rather give them something to be happy about than something that harms them. It’s as if I put all the bad stuff into a tube and what comes out on the other end is something that people like — that seems like a nice thought to me.”

Drangsal has a bunch of shows coming up in Germany, including several festivals. Support him if you can!

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Introducing… Dead Trains

photo by Humar Miranda

photo by Humar Miranda

If anyone out there is feeling the winter blues or feels otherwise frozen in their lives, here’s something that’ll kick out those cobwebs. Dead Trains are from Boston, but their country blues stomp sounds more Mississippi Delta than Mass. Ave. There’s a rambunctious hyperkinetic edge, though, that fits right in to this town’s punk rock traditions. In their official video for the first single from their upcoming album Country Road Bound, they take us around town and show us basement band life, Boston’s approach to sanitation pick-up and the city’s nighttime entertainment choices.

“County Road Bound/Mean Town Blues” begins with the album’s title track and then seamlessly morphs into the band’s interpretation of Johnny Winter’s “Mean Town Blues.” Their music features fast tempo changes, irregular chord progressions and adept pacing that gets the blood flowing. Plus the fact that I’ve always been a sucker for slide guitar.

The band debuted in 2013 with their Break ‘Em On Down 4-track EP, following it up with another EP in 2015 called 32/20, while touring extensively on the East Coast and beyond. On the new album, which they’ll be releasing independently on February 26, they continue their edgy/shuffling Delta punk-blues style with decidedly down-on-their-luck lyrics (what else would you expect from a punk rock/blues trio, love songs?). The album includes their take on Suicide’s 1977 track, “Rocket USA.” On the closing song, “Fire Next Time,” they drop the tempo down for a gorgeous slide guitar bluesy lament. The album title itself is a nod to traditional blues lingo. “Country road bound” means that you’re likely to do time in a road prison due to crimes you’ve committed (or those you plan on committing).

The second single from the album, just released a few days ago, is “Going Down To The River.” The trio (Matt Axten – guitar and vocals, Natan Keyes – bass and Steve Olsen – drums) will be performing at the Out Of The Blue Gallery on February 26 for their record release show, along with Miracle Blood, Dirt Naps and Crow Feeder.

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Kaki King and Her Guitar: The Neck is a Bridge to the Body

photo by Marla Aufmuth

photo by Marla Aufmuth

We first came upon Kaki King’s guitar sorcery back in 2010 when she stunned a roomful of clubbers at The Middle East Downstairs. Though we’ve lost touch since then, she never stopped releasing albums, performing with artists such as Foo Fighters and Timbaland, contributing to TV and film soundtracks and delighting audiences. Last year, she released The Neck is a Bridge to the Body, a multimedia tribute to the love of her life, the guitar. This Brooklyn-based guitarist and composer extraordinaire will be performing this work around the U.S. beginning February 21 in Ardmore, PA. The show uses projection mapping in a dazzling display while Kaki spins her own magic. Here’s a taste of the sort of thing you can expect, and you can also watch her discuss her inspiration and vision. She’s definitely a hypnotic performer (even when I saw her 5+ years ago), and this promises to be a breathtaking performance.

(from her official site): “Created in collaboration with Glowing Pictures — best known for their work with such artists as Animal Collective, David Byrne & Brian Eno, Beastie Boys, and TV On The Radio — The Neck Is A Bridge To The Body lays bare The Guitar’s inner life and protean power, its incalculable possibility and perpetual presence in our deepest unconscious.”

Kaki King Tour Dates

Feb 21 – Ardmore, PA Ardmore Music Hall
Feb 22 – Vienna, VA Jammin Java
Feb 24 – Northampton, MA Iron Horse Music Hall
Feb 25 – Rochester, NY The Little Theatre
Feb 26 – Albany, NY The Egg Performing Arts Center
Feb 27 – Rockland, ME Strand Theatre – Rockland, Maine
Feb 28 – Lowell, MA Root Note Studio
March 5 – Los Angeles, CA Los Angeles County Museum of Art


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Happy Hollows finds their “Way Home”

Photo by @eric_kelly

Photo by @eric_kelly

Just a ‘musings quickie’ tonight, to pass along the Happy Hollows’ pretty and sad new song, “Way Home.” But it’s ok; Happy Hollows are old friends of ours, so it’s cool. Why pretty and sad? Because at the root of Sarah’s luscious swirling guitar, elegant synthesizers, driving percussion and her captivating mystic banshee vocals is a melancholy tale about being away from home, on the road, and coming back to find that things have changed. It’s a lonely feeling of being tired, adrift and disconnected from previously familiar people and places. There’s a yearning for what once was, but there’s no going back. Stunning song, guys.

Sarah is joined by Charlie Mahoney (bass, synths), Matthew Fry (guitar) and Dan Marcellus (drums), and the song was produced by Lewis Pesacov (Best Coast). With the layers of synthesizers recreated live with the help of MIDI tracks and Ableton, all the parts, including vocals, were recorded in the studio in a single take. Pre-order the single now — it’s out February 23.


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Introducing… Tristan Bouchard

Photography by Stephanie Burgos Rodriguez

Photography by Stephanie Burgos Rodriguez

Sometimes it takes a catastrophic event to put one’s life into suddenly sharp focus. For Boston-based Tristan Bouchard, it was witnessing a fatal accident of a fellow college student on Commonwealth Avenue. The experience was traumatic for him, leading to a struggle with PTSD, which he was only able to alleviate through his music.

But this talented singer-songwriter didn’t just stop with self-healing. He took it one step further, allowing the pain to inspire and fuel his music. The need to share what he was feeling helped him to overcome crippling stage fright. After performing these new songs for audiences, he recorded a 3-song EP, Little Nights. “I Will Not Go To Paris,” both the song and the sweet homegrown video, feels like a young man discovering himself, figuring out his boundaries and deciding what’s important to him and what’s not. Bouchard’s warm vocals are beautifully accompanied by his expressive piano playing and soft melancholy violin.

Last year, he started an Indiegogo campaign to raise funds for a full-length album, to be called Blue Nights. Part of the proceeds will be donated to support McLean Hospital where presumably he received some important support of his own during his time of crisis. Though he did meet his funding goal, it appears you can still become involved in this extremely worthwhile project.

Just released yesterday was the first single and video from the forthcoming album. Warning: it’s not for the faint of heart. This stunning acapella performance piece is like a modern-day Appalachian dirge or old negro spiritual set in today’s incomprehensible world.

Tristan Bouchard will be performing at the Middle East Corner on Wednesday, April 6. See him if you can and show your support for this fine artist.

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Introducing… Adam Stafford

“Atheist Money,” from Adam Stafford’s forthcoming album, Taser Revelations (March 21, on Song, by Toad Records), begins innocently enough. You wait for the expected pop vocal to kick in, but then, at the 17 second mark, what comes along instead is a weird and unsettling “percussive pong” sort of thing. After that, it’s a steady driving guitar melody and then when Stafford’s vocals do come along, they’re like one more pleasant instrumental interlude, warm and bluesy.


More guitar trickles in, vocal harmonies, a synthesizer melody and possibly other things, in and out, ebbing and flowing, like interesting guests drifting in and out of a room at a party. The result is massively hypnotic as the song floats along, taking on different colors and shapes as it passes by.

This is Stafford’s first album since his widely acclaimed Imaginary Walls Collapse (2013). It features producer and multi-instrumentalist Robbie Lesiuk on various instruments (including organ, piano and steel drums), Greggor Douglas (Roland Juno/omnichord) and Anna Miles, previously of Maple Leaves (harmony vocals).

A musician, filmmaker and founder of Wise Blood Industries independent record label, Scotland-based Stafford has released several solo albums that include “Awnings” (2009), “Miniature Porcelain Horse Emporium” (2010), “Music in The Mirabel” (2010) and “Build a Harbour Immediately” (2011) which can be downloaded at Wise Blood Industries.

His live performances combine post-punk, soul, pop and experimental a capela. He has some shows coming up in the UK and Scotland beginning at the end of February. See his official site for details.

Taser Revelations track listing

Side A
1. Let a Little Love Inside
2. Phantom Billions
3. Atheist Money
4. Black Lung Applications
5. Unknown Swimmers

Side B
1. Railway Trespassers
2. Taser Revelations
3. Bracelet Dream of the Shadow
4. The Penumbra

::: PURCHASE CD or VINYL :::


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