musings from boston

screams, whispers and songs from planet earth

Month: March 2017

Introducing… The Northeastern Railroads

NortheasternRailroads

With all the heavy shit going on in the world right now, sometimes you just need to zone out with some pleasant dream pop. So, if you’re feeling rather overwhelmed and yearning for simpler times, The Northeastern Railroads can help you out. This shoegazy goodness is courtesy of Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Tony Moureilles. He has just released his debut album, quite aptly named Hope, which is something we could definitely use more of. The first single is “Wet Streets Before Dawn.”

The album was engineered, mixed and mastered by Ian Van Opijnen, who previously worked with Boston’s Funeral Advantage. He and Moureilles shared producer duties. As for the album cover, I’m not so sure that a half empty beer glass is the best illustration of “hope,” but keep in mind that this is, after all, a Boston band. Maybe that glass is actually half full? Nah.

The Northeastern Railroads had their premiere in January of last year. Their musical inspiration comes from bands like The Radio Dept., Slowdive, Ride and The National.

You’ll find Hope here (sorry, couldn’t resist). The limited edition CD includes lyrics and notes. If you’re in the Boston area and would like to catch the band live (Moureilles has a few friends who join him for shows), they’ll be in the following places:

​Saturday, April 22, 2017 – Out of the Blue Gallery, Cambridge, MA
Saturday, April 29, 2017 – East Coast Block Party in Lawrence, MA
​Sunday, April 30, 2017 – The Plough and Stars, Cambridge, MA
Saturday, June 3rd, 2017 – PA’s Lounge, Cambridge, MA

web | facebook | twitter< | bandcamp | soundcloud | instagram | youtube

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Emay releases Ilah and the video for Bakkah: The History of Humankind

Emay

Last year, we introduced you to the powerful social commentary of Emay (Mubarik Adams), a hip-hop and experimental artist from Ontario, Canada. His new album, just released, is Ilah (on Star Slinger’s Jet Jam label). It picks up from where lead single “Israfil ‘angels trumpet'” left off — trying to make sense of a senseless world, envisioning a society where one can be the master of one’s destiny and not a victim of circumstance. In other words, it’s about life. His breathless prose is startling in its literary prowess and poetic deliverance. Phrases twirl around the musical accompaniment like beautifully twisting vines. They rise elegantly from the rich compost of hypnotic beats, experimental soundscapes and otherworldly voices, woven together like a timeless tapestry. The listener is alternately drawn into the depths of aural seduction and then popped awake with a powerful metaphor or turn of phrase.

“As a son, I inherited heavy talismans.
Pallid, invalid purposes. Set for the many challenges.
Studied what He told us and parroted many passages,
Only to duck embarrassment – Barren of any sacrilege.
Required to wear tradition as a blindfold.
Only admire, never petition when a lie is told.”
– Son

“The History of Humankind” is exactly that — a modern chronicle of civilization, with a sharp eye and piercing perception. As he catalogues humankind’s accomplishments and failures with adept precision in an abandoned gas station, an urban soldier in riot gear performs fragmented krumping like an alien sign language.

“To me the video is a battle displaying my ideological development and the conflict of ideas taking over and building off of one another. Much love to Aaron Hall and Dujean Williams for creating that with me. My beliefs and ideas about the world are constantly evolving and developing; this isn’t an overnight process, but one that takes a decade or maybe even a lifetime.” – Emay

Consider distilling the works of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, Noam Chomsky, Dostoevsky, Lenin, Kwame Nkrumah plus the writings of the Quran into a rap/hip-hop album, and you’ll begin to comprehend the headiness and ambition of a work like this. An interview Adams gave to The Paper Street Journal delves into his inspiration, from religious texts to political leaders to grassroots social movements. He offers up no answers, just an avalanche of questions and the intense desire to stimulate dialogue.

“My goal for this project was to depict the progression of my ideological development as a child up until now as an adult. My main focus being to depict how one’s experiences directly influences one’s ideas about the world.” – Emay

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Introducing… Singer Soldier

Singer Soldier

“Bones to Ashes” comes from the second Singer Soldier album, Illusions of Stability. It is a song of fragile beauty, beginning with softly strummed acoustic guitar and delicately floating male/female vocals. Chiming guitars and steady, purposeful percussion follow, as the story is told of a haunted soul (“When I close my eyes, I pray to god I will survive”). From snippets of lyrics like “time to move on, time to be strong,” one surmises this is about a failed relationship, but it’s a pretty song that sparkles with determination and hope. Toward the end, the guitars melt into a hypnotic electronic trance, perhaps signaling a “moving on” of sorts.

 

Singer Soldier is the alternative country project of Nick Marko, a multi-instrumentalist from Detroit, Michigan, who has played guitar, drums and piano for bands like Gutwrench (his first band), The Holy Fire (produced by Flaming Lips bassist Michael Ivins), Leaving Rouge, Singer & Soldier and Levagood. With The Holy Fire, he’s performed on bills with bands such as TV on the Radio, Metric and the Constantines. Marko is also a savvy entrepreneur with his music publishing company ALP Music. His eclectic background includes studying fire science in school and working as a roofer in Texas and as a cook in Santa Monica, California, before focusing on his music full-time. His influences are diverse, from Bob Mould and other indie rock to hardcore punk, thrash and hip-hop. Favorites include Pixies, Ramones, Hüsker Dü, Motörhead, Metallica, Misfits and Public Enemy.

Illusions of Stability features luscious instrumentation — piano, drums, bassoon, violin, cello and mandolin, in addition to guitars. This is certainly not your standard “alt country” music, weaving artfully between alternative rock, alt folk, classical and electronic.

web | bandcamp | youtube | reverbnation | purchase at CDBaby

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Holly Miranda and Friends Record Midnight Oil, for Standing Rock

Midnight Oil - for Standing Rock

This beautifully uplifting song, “Midnight Oil,” was originally written in 1978 by Cris Williamson, an American singer-songwriter and political activist. Fast-forward almost 40 years, and the song is stumbled upon by Detroit-born musician Holly Miranda at an upstate New York record store, just a few days after the Orlando, Florida nightclub shooting. Deeply moved by the song and its message of hope, she decides to record it.

“Don’t let the midnight oil burn low, no don’t let it burn out, let’s see how things turn out in the end.” – Midnight Oil

Miranda learns more about Williamson — that she was a teacher who became an underground folk legend, feminist and activist, founding Olivia Records, the first female-owned and female-focused record label. As the new version of the song came together, with accompanying musicians and The New Asylum Choir, the two women got together to find a worthy cause to dedicate this powerful anthem to. They chose Standing Rock, because of the ongoing need to stop the Dakota pipeline and the importance of safe drinking water, which is about as basic as it gets.

Holly Miranda and Cris Williamson ~ photo by Irene Young

Holly Miranda and Cris Williamson ~ photo by Irene Young

“Midnight Oil” can be purchased at CDBaby, with all proceeds going directly to Standing Rock and the North Dakota Sioux Tribe. A huge assortment of talented musicians volunteered their time and talents to show their support and make this song a reality. This includes Ani DiFranco, Saturday Night Live’s Sasheer Zamata, Jaime King, Kyp Malone (TV On The Radio) and actress Natalie Morales (Parks and Recreation, The Grinder).

Musicians:
Garrett Lewis – Piano
Josh Werner – Bass
Jared Samuel – Mellotron
Jon Ulman – Drums
Maria Eisen – Bari Sax
Ginger Dolden – Violin
Pete Lanctot – Violin
Holly Miranda – Vocal

The New Asylum Choir:
Jared Samuel
Garrett Lewis
Stevie Weinstein-foner
Sasheer Zamata
Ani Difranco
Kyp Malone
Jesse Smith
Nico Turner
Lizz Winstead
Natalie Morales
Laurel Sprenglemeyer
Joan Wasser
Ambrosia Parsley
Ximenia Sarinana
Sally Kohn
Gracie Coates
Rachel Ruggles
Sharon Sulami
Jenny Wade
Cyrina Fiallo
Marnie Herald
Simone van Seenus
Trish Bendix
Jen Rosenstien
Lacey Story
Meg Ghiroli
Jaime King
Libby King

As it stands now, the fight for indigenous peoples’ rights and the universal right to clean drinking water unfortunately seems to be far from over. Take a stand by supporting this important cause and enjoying some fine music at the same time.

Standing Rock: web | facebook | tumblr

Holly Miranda: web | facebook | twitter

PURCHASE “MIDNIGHT FOR OIL” TO BENEFIT STANDING ROCK

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