musings from boston

screams, whispers and songs from planet earth

Category: Indie Music (Page 1 of 68)

Kirk Starkey Pays Homage to Ancient Acoustic Traditions and the Digital Age

KirkStarkey

The cello is one of my favorite instruments. In fact, of all the stately orchestral instruments, it may well be my most favorite. Mournful, soulful, melancholy — it’s often heard at times of sadness, to commemorate a dark day or to mark someone’s passing. In the case of Hamilton, Ontario session cellist, composer and producer Kirk Starkey, the cello is an orchestra unto itself, with many moods and personalities. His latest recording with George Crotty, Vidi Aqam is distinctly modern, yet also timeless. It’s classical. A little jazzy. Computer literate, yet deliciously steeped in tradition. Mournful, yes, but also hopeful and upbeat.

The merging of old and familiar with new and surprising extends to Starkey’s instrument and his method of performance. He plays a Bohemian cello (c.1775) which he then samples and uses to accompany himself. It’s a very cool concept, and not one you’re used to seeing with a traditionally classical instrument. You can see how elegantly this can be done in a 2016 performance for 93.3 CFMU, in their first episode of Sound + Silence, a showcase for local Hamilton artists. Starkey performs with his ‘cello of multiple personalities’ at McMaster’s Convocation Hall.

For Vidi Aqam, all tracks were written and produced by Kirk Starkey and George Crotty. It was recorded and mixed at the Wolftone Music Laboratory in Hamilton, Ontario.

Kirk Starkey: web | twitter | instagram | bandcamp | soundcloud
George Crotty: web | soundcloud | facebook | youtube

share this: Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail

Amanda Palmer Takes a Powerful Stand for Motherhood and Compassion

Amanda Palmer - Mother video

Let’s face it, compassion is hard. Mirriam-Webster defines compassion as “sympathetic consciousness of others’ distress together with a desire to alleviate it.” One naturally feels compassion for obvious victims — a child who is killed by an assassin’s bullet, sporting event participants being indiscriminately mowed down by an angry foreigner or poor people who are marginalized by greedy corporate interests. But what about the perpetrators? Do you ever feel any sympathy for them? If you’re like most people, probably not. After all, they’re hateful, depraved individuals who carry out horrible acts of violence and injustice. It takes an objective, godlike view from way above to begin to have compassion for those who do harm to others. Or, at the very least, it takes an insatiable curiosity about what drove them to their behavior, and a desire to do something that stops hate and violence at its source.

Amanda Palmer is no stranger to controversy. She obviously has no interest in living a safe, non-confrontational life. In my opinion, that’s the very definition of an artist. From early on in her career, she engaged in what might be considered risky behavior, such as standing on a box in the middle of Harvard Square in a bride’s dress, handing out flowers. Years later, she wrote “A Poem for Dzhokhar,” a contemplation about one of the Boston marathon bombers. She was hacked. She was threatened. It didn’t go well. And why? Because she had a highly unpopular take on those tragic events in 2013. Amidst all of the grief and anger, Amanda wondered what might have caused Dzhokhar Tsarnaev to do what he did.

In her latest artistic offering, a beautiful cover of Pink Floyd’s song “Mother” (from their epic album The Wall), Amanda is joined with a cast of gifted musicians and actors. The video is powerful and poignant, with her eagle eye focused like a laser on our current president and his administration.

Watch the video first, to the very end (that’s important; you’ll see why), and then read her ‘straight up, no bullshit’ Newsweek interview.

Tyrants and murderers aren’t born that way. Something happens to them in their lives to turn them from innocent young children into people whom most of us feel aren’t deserving of our love and compassion. I strongly believe, as does Amanda Palmer, that until you get to the source of an illness, you will never truly rid yourself of the symptoms. Depravity is a disease that is fast overtaking the world we live in. At its core, no doubt, is a lack of proper nurturing, which all plants, animals and especially humans require to live healthy, productive and loving lives. It’s something that a mother innately understands.

web | facebook | twitter | youtube | newsweek interview

share this: Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail

1971 Honor a Friend in “Anxiety (In the Depths of Northwestern Ontario)”

1971

Before introducing you to the music of Northwestern Ontario-based band 1971, we first must delve into this area’s rugged beauty. For that, we defer to Montreal artist, musician and writer Kate Erickson, who reviewed the band’s self-titled EP in 2010. She begins the piece with this introduction:

The landscape of Northwestern Ontario has a weight to it; from the ancient mass of the Canadian Shield underfoot to the ponderous silence of the boreal forest, there’s something about this region that naturally conveys a sense of heaviness.

It is from a place of heaviness and great beauty that 1971 releases the song “Anxiety (In the Depths of Northwestern Ontario).” It was written for their friend, bassist and founding member of the band, Cameron Glen Cranston, who passed away in February at the age of 25.

Artistic grace can arise from tragedy and loss. The music and video begins serenely, driving down a foggy road. Casually filmed home movies show friends on a nature-loving road trip through beautiful mountain vistas, Canadian countrysides and pristine lakes. But then the reality of their friend’s affliction comes screaming through, in memories and in music, forever woven into the idyllic scenes. Their song builds into a driving punk-laden anthem with the inescapable truth, “all our bodies, all our bodies will decay, before you find your answer.” The unrestrained angst ebbs and flows, ebbs and flows, as it does through the lives of its sufferers. The effect is powerful, and it’s a poignant tribute.

This song is being released along with two others as their last recordings with Cameron. This EP, titled “No Matter Where You Go, There You Are,” will be available on December 1. The EP features two demos they recorded for a grant and one of their lost friend’s songs. “Anxiety” was written for their beloved bandmate during a difficult time, when he was still here. This EP can be preordered on bandcamp as a 7″ vinyl record, or it can be ordered as a physical cassette from Art of the Uncarved Block. You can also preorder it on iTunes.

We really hope this release properly puts this band to rest and we hope it touches some people who might have experienced something similar to what we went through. Cameron was a great musician and an inspiration to a lot of people he knew. He deserves to be heard and remembered. – 1971

web | facebook | twitter | instagram | bandcamp | soundcloud | tumblr | youtube | art of the uncarved block

share this: Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail

CHANCES takes us on a modern journey to the Himalayas

Chances2

Rishikesh is a city nestled in the Himalayan foothills of northern India, known as the “Yoga Capital of the World.” It is one of the holiest places for Hindus, visited by saints and sages since ancient times as a place to meditate in search of higher knowledge. “Rishikesh” is also the latest single from CHANCES, a Montreal trio that blends indie-pop, a touch of electro and distinctly Indian melodies. To listen to their hypnotic music is to take a pilgrimmage to the Himalayas in a high-powered spaceship.

This clever animated video, a Nintendo and ancient India mashup, is by Philippe Blain. As for the inspiration behind the song:

It’s about choice and intention. The intention to trust your instinct, and to align action with thought. The song’s driving rhythm continually pushes forward, the vocals play off each other in a sort of call and response, the synths spark up a colourful chaos. All of that is built around a loop of voices recorded on iPhone on the banks of the Ganges in the holy city of Rishikesh, India.

The Ganges River and an iPhone. A mysterious, ancient culture and our curious, technological future meet at a strange crossroads, centering around the human experience and the human voice. The repeated refrain “How you gonna decide, how you gonna choose?” suggests a crossroads and a quandry. What to do? The musical meditation — part dance track, part Hindu mantra — advises the listener to “say what you mean, mean what you do” and to move “out of the fog, into the flow.” It’s good advice.

Chances

It’s tempting to say that this band came together just last year in Montreal by chance, though their fruitful collaboration was more likely fated. Connecting old and new, Chloé Lacasse and Geneviève Toupin, singer songwriters and pianists, plus drummer Vincent Carré, have created something magical. The unique blend of cultures and influences in their music likely arises from the English, French-Canadian and Metis backgrounds of the trio. Their first two singles, “Shine” and “Leave the Light On,” were released earlier this year.

As the Hindus’ sacred elephant Ganesha disappears into the mist, CHANCES leaves us with these words of wisdom:

Trust the flow.

Don’t think about the odds.

web | facebook | twitter | instagram | bandcamp | soundcloud | youtube
::: BUY or LISTEN TO Rishikesh :::

share this: Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail

Lavender Child searches for truth amid ‘Happy Illusions’

LavenderChild

“Happy Illusions” by Lavender Child is inspired by unsettled feelings bubbling up from a feel-good outdoor music festival. Among lush forests, magical trails, enchanting art installations, nature and music, the narrator wonders about the honesty and integrity of those in attendance. What happens when you take a utopian setting and add the human element? Confessions of love flowed in this idyllic scene, but were they to be believed? And how did the unknown nature of people’s hearts affect the natural environment? Lavender Child’s search for authenticity comes across strongly in this examination of human interaction with each other, and with nature.

Lavender Child is the project of Caitlin Comeau-Jarvis, a Toronto-based artist. She creates ethereal dreamscapes while guiding her listeners to “reconnect with nature, community and themselves.” In “Happy Illusions,” gentle piano, strings and percussion set a reverant tone, while the artist’s otherworldly voice plays delicately at the edges and then soars like a bird. For the video, she worked with Toronto director Dylan Mitro, who conceptualized the stunning video.

Comeau-Jarvis explains the song’s inspiration:

The unsettling ambivalence of the place came from the juxtaposition between the people and the peaceful surroundings. My head spun from the irony both in relationships to nature and each other. I heard so many people say that they loved one another, which conceptually was beautiful but realistically had me questioning the authenticity of the community… ‘Happy Illusions’ is a song about the experience of love and the human connection to nature and whether that connection can be genuine when under the influence.

“Happy Illusions” is the debut single from her forthcoming EP, Reflections.

facebook | twitter | instagram | soundcloud | youtube

share this: Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail

The Rebel Light asks, “Where Did All The Love Go?

The Rebel Light

And that’s a damn good question. In The Rebel Light’s latest video for “Where Did All The Love Go?”, the Summer of Love Magical Mystery Tour Bus takes a drive through the treacherous landscape of a nasty co-dependent relationship. It’s all peace, love and painful existential inquiry, set to a ’60s summery soul vibe.

Oddly (or perhaps not), we seem to check in with The Rebel Light every year or so, in darker, drearier months. I imagine it’s because the New England winter is rough and we need their California easy-breezy sunshine. We first introduced this L.A. indie pop band in January 2013, passed along their song “Strangers” in December 2015 and marveled over their “Goodbye Serenade” newsreel in late November of last year. It’s been a rough haul in 2017, so I guess that’s why we’re a bit early.

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

share this: Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail

LegPuppy and their Nasty Masterpiece: Selfie Stick – Narcissistic Prick

LegPuppy

Selfie Stick — Narcissistic Prick. Well, isn’t this a timely piece of social commentary. And, much like the object of their vilification, the ubiquitous selfie stick, their deeply disturbing video for this scathing assessment of our narcissistic national pastime is something you can’t seem to turn away from, despite your better judgement.

LegPuppy is an electro punk quartet from South London. To get the inevitable “how did they get that name name” question out of the way, it was at a house party in Wales, with attendees name-dropping band monikers. Darren Laurence (songwriter, synths, drum machines, sampler and vocalist) tossed out “Leg” and Claire Jones (songwriter, vocalist, keyboards and acoustic guitar) fired back with “Puppy.” Fortunately, an equally acerbic band followed.

Claire is a classically trained guitarist, published author and solo artist. Oh, and she has a doctorate degree. Darren, no slouch himself, is a freelance designer with a radio show on Artefakto Radio and DJing experience for some of London’s premiere clubs. The other two band members? A former touring artist and label executive and a trainee actor and performance artist.

Traveling around London and looking to give your twisted inner child a well-deserved night out? LegPuppy has some shows coming up in the U.K., so follow them on Facebook for more information. Word has it that they’re an amazing live band, and how could they not be?

web | facebook | twitter | soundcloud | bandcamp | spotify | google play

share this: Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail

Introducing… Minor Birds

Minor Birds

To give yourself over to the music of Minor Birds is to feel yourself in graceful flight across a wide expanse of open sky. Make that a sky under the cool, watchful eye of a full moon, with a crisp autumn breeze. Their Alchemist EP is a hypnotic weave of baroque-style classical piano, mournful cello, minimalist percussion and soaring, supple vocals that beckon you to follow them into a magical soundscape.

Minor Birds, based in the San Francisco Bay Area, is the artistic project of singer-songwriter/pianist/multi-instrumentalist Chelsea Wilde. This classically trained pianist is self-taught in other instruments such as guitar, banjo and accordion. Since childhood, she has composed and performed music. Tragic life events in 2008 was the catalyst by which Minor Birds was hatched, exploring life’s darkness and myticism. Her music spans various genres, including baroque pop, folk rock, electronica and even grunge. Her expressive voice can be sultry, theatrical and explosive, refined and sophisticated, dreamy and solemn.

Earlier Minor Birds releases include Live at Metate Hill Lounge, Light as a Feather/Straight as an Arrow and Hold Back All My Dark.

The Alchemist can be purchased on Bandcamp, either as a digital file or as a 3-song EP CD, with 3-D glasses (a digital download is included). It is also available on iTunes. As we enter into the darker half of the year, stretch out and luxuriate in Minor Birds’ haunting, mesmerizing music, and enjoy a most delightful journey.

As hypnotic and otherworldly as “The Alchemist” is, Wilde says of the title track, “When I wrote this song… I had come to this conclusion that ‘magic’ is a thing we grow out of. I didn’t want to be looked at like magic anymore,” Wilde explains. “I wanted to be looked at like a person with faults. Not some mystical entity.”

Minor Birds will be performing at the Ivy Room in Albany California (near Berkeley) on November 11, and at the Silverlake Lounge in Los Angeles on November 27.

web | facebook | twitter | bandcamp | soundcloud | youtube

share this: Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail

Introducing… Winter Witches

Winter Witches

Photography by Zac Svendsen

As we enter the darker half of the year in the northern hemisphere and the trees, once full of life and bird nests, strike forth with one final brief burst of energy and then dissolve into the stillness of winter, it is time to explore the more thoughtful, withdrawn and melancholy side of human existence. But then again, when isn’t that the case here at Musings from Boston? Winter Witches provides the perfect soundtrack for this time — quiet, thoughtful and reverent.

This South Australian band beautifully brings forth authentic sounds of orchestral, medieval and electronica traditions. Their just-released single, “Train/Water” (Observable Universe) are two stunning compositions of somber piano, strings and soft percussion, with stately, haunting vocals. This duo refers to itself as “a queer conjuring of electronica, melancholia and experimental sound,” and it’s simply breathtaking.

Winter Witches is described as “a creative and life partnership” between Sweeney and Em. Though Australian borne, ancestrally speaking they hail from Germany, Scotland, Ireland, Holland. And for this artistic soul partnership, ancestry is important. It informs their music and their being.

Winter Witches has enjoyed airplay on stations around the world, including Radio Adelaide and 3MDR in Australia, Radio Deepland (Brazil), JXFM Radio Tokyo and Independent Radio Berlin. They have performed around Australia at such events as the 2016 Adelaide Vegan Festival, queer club nights Bona Drag and Wild Style and at the Adelaide Fringe Festival. They’ll be performing in their homeland in December. Although, of course, since this is Australia in the southern hemisphere, it will be at the height of their summer season. One hopes to one day listen to this gorgeous music against a peaceful, solemn backdrop of falling snow.

If you like what you hear, “Train/Water” can be purchased on Bandcamp. These songs were written, recorded, produced and mixed by Winter Witches at Observable Universe Studios, Adelaide, Kaurna Land. The Kaurna are an indigenous people whose ancestral lands include the Adelaide Plains of South Australia.

Winter Witches acknowledges the Kaurna people as the traditional and prevailing custodians of the lands on which this music was created.
— Winter Witches

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

share this: Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail

Introducing… Brenda

Brenda

Frightened of clowns? If so, you might want to view this video from Brenda, for their song “Children,” with a companion. At first glance, it’s an innocent home movie by artist Sarah Ann Watson, filmed at an annual church service in East London to honor Joseph Grimaldi, the father of modern clowing. However, when paired with the song, this friendly gathering takes on more sinister undertones, and as it builds, the viewer is half-expecting this inoccuous scene to turn into some sort of B-grade slasher film. Which it never does, or at least, not that we know about.

On the surface, the song is about friendships, but it’s also about people losing their childlike innocence. It examines the idea of wanting to escape from reality and “run away to a place where it seems as if time doesn’t exist and age doesn’t matter” (such as the circus, perhaps?). As Brenda explains further, it’s a song “about manipulation and the inevitability of growing up.”

Musically, the song starts out childlike, with sweet little girl vocals, which then morphs into something twisted and demented, accompanied by heavy guitar riffs and driving percussion. It goes on to veer dangerously back and forth, creating a stimulating aural experience with a vaguely unsettled feeling. Think of it as psychedelic garage rock with a neurological disorder. It’s captivating, while at the same time unnerving. Much like the vision of people past their prime in white face, round red noses and floppy clown shoes.

Based in Toronto, Brenda has been part of the city’s punk scene since 2015. “Children” is from their upcoming aptly titled EP Creeper, to be released later this year.

facebook | instagram | bandcamp | youtube

share this: Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail

Page 1 of 68

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén