musings from boston

screams, whispers and songs from planet earth

Month: September 2016

Introducing… Dark Mean

Dark Mean

The gentle, laid back Canadian indie folk band Dark Mean must have been named by an anagram aficionado, as they are neither dark nor mean. Actually, Billy Holmes, Sandy Johnston and Mark Dean (a.k.a. Dark Mean, get it?), on their new song “Settle Down,” sound quite light and pleasant, if perhaps a bit wistful. A pretty guitar melody ambles along in a acoustic folksy vein, with a shuffling drum beat and mellow vocals drifting in like a soft daydream. With a simple, sweet piano melody and cymbal flourishes, the dream expands and carries you off. It’s a soothing balm for our harsh, chaotic world.

This past year, the band has been “quietly chipping away” in the studio. Based in Hamilton and Ottawa, they’re accustomed to extended breaks and collaborating via cell phones, Skype calls and filesharing, so coming together for a proper session is something special. For an indie band, balancing everyday life and band life isn’t easy, amidst busy schedules and the occasional show tossed in the middle. But when they do manage to create music together, if the result is something as satisfying as this, then it’s definitely worth the wait.

This new song was recorded, mixed and produced by Michael Kaire and mastered by Brian Lucey at Magic Garden Mastering.

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Introducing… WTCHS

What begins as a deceptively simple gothic minimalist dirge slowly builds into a hypnotic oddessey that travels through exotic goth, free jazz, industrial, experimental noise soundscapes. With a barrage of sound that ebbs and flows like insistent ocean waves, just four words and a few subtle variations on “you own your bones,” the attentive listener is teased, confirmed, queried, seduced, challenged, stirred to action, soothed.” The repetition with its gradually evolving complexity is as revelatory as a classical Phillip Glass or Terry Riley piece. This is headbanging, cleansing, trance-enducing, life-affirming, meditative music of the highest order.

“You Own Your Bones” is from their debut album She Walks, She Creeps, which comes out on October 28 on Sonic Unyon. The vinyl release is limited to 500 copies worldwide, and you can order that or a digital copy (vinyl comes with a digital copy as well), directly from Sonic Unyon. The song was recorded in one take, and is their first new music in more than two years after various line-up changes. The video was filmed and edited by Mitch Fillion, and the music was recorded and mixed by Sean Pearson at Boxcar Studios.

In an Exclaim interview, this Hamilton, Ontario band explained the gestation of their album. “Recording this record become our therapy. We didn’t care about how long or when it was going to be finished. The urgency, the chaos amongst the songs are real. It was our anxieties, our demons that sit amongst the endless layers of frenzied guitars, using suitcases for drums at times, mellotrons, and a brass section to create something that was boiling on the surface. It’s like we were given a second chance, a much needed change to bring an ounce of peace to our aching, tortured souls.”

“acceptance, acceptance of yourself and others amongst the chaos of the universe. you answer to no one but yourself.”

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Bridges and Powerlines’ National Fantasy

photo by Mara Abols

photo by Mara Abols

Brooklyn’s Bridges and Powerlines are releasing a new album in October called National Fantasy (Devise Records). This album was two years in the making. Kieran Kelly, who worked on Sufjan Stephen’s Illinoise, produced it, Mattie Safer (The Rapture) contributed backing vocals, and it’s a lovely thing indeed. In fact, there’s a positive, upbeat vibe here that’s not unwelcomed. A little vintage, easy-going, fuzzy and feel good — not to mention those pretty harmonies throughout.

National Fantasy is their third full-length album. Their debut, Ghost Types was released in 2007, followed by Eve in 2011. They’ve toured extensively with bands such as The Antlers, HEALTH, Chappo and Clues. More recently, while they were working on this new album, they were also building their own professional recording studio and, if that wasn’t enough to keep themselves busy, they opened a live music venue, Gold Sounds, in the Bushwick area of Brooklyn.

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Walter Sickert and The Army of Broken Toys – Up to their Old (New) Tricks with Come Black Magic!

Walter Sickert & The Army of Broken Toys (Courtesy of Jenny Bergman)

Walter Sickert & The Army of Broken Toys (Courtesy of Jenny Bergman)

Performing LIVE at The Sinclair on Friday, September 9 with Ruby Rose Fox and Mount Peru == ::: BUY TICKETS NOW!! :::

Now for something entirely different. Well, not so different if you’ve been a regular reader of Musings from Boston, as we’ve often spoken fondly of Walter Sickert and The Army of Broken Toys. As always, they’ve been up to crazy big doings. Their amazing new album Come Black Magic will be officially unveiled at The Sinclair in Cambridge in what promises to be one of those legendary events that people will bragging about having been at years from now. The new album was premiered with a fascinating profile of and interview with the band by WBUR’s The ARTery.

As I’m racing to get this posted, all I will say about this fine music is 1) It’s ever bit as powerful and completely overwhelming as anything this phantasmagoria of a musical theatre troupe has ever done, and then some and 2) you might not want to listen to it just before you go to bed.

Get thee to The Sinclair on Friday night in your most exotic finery. And sweet dreams.

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Introducing… The Motivated Sequence

It’s a strange juxtaposition at first, the swelling strings and campy vintage sci-fi footage. But when the storyline kicks in for the title song from the debut album The Science. The Fiction. from Boston-based The Motivated Sequence, it makes a lot more sense.

“I am the science, I am the fiction, I am the novel that’s poorly written
I am the silence, I am the sound, I am the one that you never found
I’m the horizon, I am the shore, I am the calm just before the storm
I am the science, I am the fiction, I am the novel that’s poorly written

I stretch my arms down the East Coast to reach the conclusion
that no one really knows where they came from or where they are going
but they know the places that they miss the most.”

– The Science. The Fiction.

In this first single and throughout their ten-track album, there’s a feeling of melancholy and disconnectedness, despite the poppiness and hopeful exuberance of the lush strings, jangly guitar, organ melodies and driving percussion. There’s just something in lead singer Zach Burt’s voice that’s vulnerable and compelling. It draws you in to his story which, truth be told, is a little sad. It speaks of relationship misfires, miscommunication and disillusionment. In light of this, the clips of hapless travelers lost in space, floating around with their antiquated equipment, is perfectly apt.

The Motivated Sequence will be releasing the album at their record release show on November 2nd at the Middle East Upstairs (the show starts at 7 p.m.). Before that, they’ll be playing at O’Brien’s Pub on September 20th. Meanwhile, you can listen to the single on Spotify or check it out on Soundcloud.

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