screams, whispers and songs from planet earth

Month: June 2013 Page 1 of 2

Lucas Biespiel and his Dangerous Gentlemen ~ “Preacher”

Here’s a nice wind-down from your crazy week. Lucas Biespiel and his Dangerous Gentlemen have just released the first single titled “Preacher” from their debut album, Stories of Your Sorrows, which is due out October 1. The upcoming EP is described as “a series of monologues by different characters in a play. Each song acts as a soap box for each character to tell you their story.” Their music is bluesy and soulful with earthy, ageless vocals and tasty guitar licks that slide down like honey. It’s nicely crafted with percussive flourishes (rather than just “drumming”) and closely-knit vocal harmonies. This is good… really good.

Lucas, originally from Portland, Oregon, is a singer-songwriter, guitarist, keyboard player and violinist, formerly the lead singer of the Backyard Blues Boys. He moved to Boston to attend Berklee, and met up with the other members of his current band, Dangerous Gentlemen (that would be Sean Oliver on bass, Sam Small on electric and lap steel guitars and Griffin Davis on drums). He also runs his own label Blue Brick Records. You can learn more about his history, his thoughts about creating music and his future plans on Rose Rundown. For now, have a listen.

facebook | twitter | bandcamp | Blue Brick Records

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Introducing… Broadheds (catch ’em while you can)

Hey all. Here’s a scrappy and charming little outfit from California called Broadheds who released their debut (and only?) album back in April. It’s all about nervous energy and angst, from a distinguished group of gentlemen giving full rein to their “inner teenage boy.” On guitar and vocals is Peter Walker, formerly of The Eulogies and also co-founder of that highly esteemed Eastside L.A. label Dangerbird Records, which I’ve been meaning to profile for years and will be doing so shortly. Along with Walker, Broadheds boasts an all-star lineup — drummer Denny Weston, Jr. (The Kooks, Earlimart), bassist Justin Meldal-Johnsen (M83, Beck, Nine Inch Nails) and sax player James King (Fitz and the Tantrums). The fifth member of the band is visual artist Mark Todd, whose artwork is featured in a 64-page book that accompanies their album. Mark’s artistic vision was also an important part of the recording process.

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They’ve only intended to perform a handful of live shows, so if you’re in or around San Francisco on July 10 and you like what you hear, you’d best get yourself to Cafe du Nord while you’ve got the chance! Walker is apparently already writing again and thinking about his next project.

“Nothing is easy, nothing that I care about.” Indeed.

web | facebook | twitter | soundcloud | youtube | dangerbird records

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Thick Shakes’ new single “Polyommatus Blues”

Into the garage we go for the new single from Boston’s own Thick Shakes, “Polyommatus Blues.” Gritty. Noisy. I like it. They’re playing Saturday night (6/15) at O’Brien’s Pub in Allston with Flavor Packets, The Little Richards and Cutting Room Floor (queer feminist punk from Ohio) (that’s their description, not mine). This is their only summer show, so get on it. Oh, and here’s the Facebook event. Peace out.

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Introducing… Balto (from Portland, Oregon)

Dan Sheron (photo by Benedict Evans)

Dan Sheron (photo by Benedict Evans)

Based in Portland, Oregon, Balto is a folk music collective led by Daniel Sheron. Their latest album is Monuments, released last September. Balto has interesting beginnings. Daniel Sheron left his home in Moscow, Russia to go on a “vision quest” of sorts into Siberia. During his travels in that desolate region, he wrote songs about the people and places he encountered. In 2010, he found himself in a Brooklyn basement with a group of friends, and what came out of that was an album called October’s Road.

After their first national tour in 2011, Daniel moved from New York to Portland, Oregon, performed on his own and wrote songs for the next release. The band came together again last June to record the six songs with producer Jeremy Backofen (The Felice Brothers, Mice Parade, Gregory and the Hawk). Balto’s music is Americana with a bit of an edge and some compelling storytelling that feels very personal. It’s pretty with acoustic guitar, mandolin, banjo and closely-knit harmonies, but it’s rather sad as well. Have a listen.

East Coast shows

6/19 Cameo Gallery (10:30 pm) – Brooklyn, NY – 93 N6th Street (w/ Bird Courage)
6/20 Wormwood Park (7:30 pm) – Boston, MA – A St and Wormwood St (organized by New Music Cooperative) (Free)
6/21 Lickety Split – Philadelphia, PA
6/29 Rockwood Music Hall Stage 2 (6 pm) – New York, NY – 196 Allen St. (Free)

See Balto’s site for full tour schedule

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Introducing… We Are The West

Here’s something absolutely stunning for you tonight. We Are The West are the Los Angeles-based acoustic guitar and upright bass duo of John Kibler and Brett Hool. They record and perform in “natural places” to, in their words, “use sound and space to create an experience that is welcoming and honest.” Their mission to bring their music into common (and uncommon) places has meant gigs in shipping containers and storm drains, sheep farms and abandoned convents… and they have a “residency” (so to speak) in an underground parking garage of a Santa Monica office building on the Saturday night before every full moon. The just recently released their second EP installment of a four-part album, entitled We Are The West II (listen below). It was recorded in a Western New York barn, which is probably one of the more conventional place they’ve played.

As the full moon is just around the corner, so is their next gig. They’ll be performing at The Parking Garage beneath the Office Building on the corner of 7th Street and Santa Monica Boulevard this coming Saturday, June 15, with a very special guest, New Zealand songwriter Greg Johnson. And it seems they’re playing an actual venue on June 19 — The Orpheum Theater in Flagstaff, Arizona with Nicki Bluhm & the Gramblers. That should be an unusual experience for them.

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JBM (Jesse Marchant) – “Stray Ashes” & tour

JBM a.k.a. Jesse Marchant released a pretty, dreamy and haunting album called Stray Ashes (on Western Vinyl) a little over a year ago. He’s currently touring and will be coming to the East Coast for a few shows in July, so I thought I’d share a few luscious tracks to ease you into your week.

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Upcoming Shows

(select dates – see JBM’s site for full schedule)

6/13 San Francisco, CA (w/Cayucas) – Rickshaw Stop
6/17 Portland, OR (w/ Cayucas) – Mississippi Studios
6/19 Seattle, WA (w/Cayucas) – Barboza
6/28 Minneapolis, MN (w/Cayucas) – 7th Street Entry
7/3 Boston, MA (w/Cayucas) – Great Scott
7/5 New York, NY (w/Cayucas) – Mercury Lounge

You can purchase “Stray Ashes” here: digital release | CD, vinyl

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Introducing… American Authors


Here’s a band that at first listen was maybe a little “mainstream alternative” for my tastes, but damn, this is pretty contagious stuff. I was about to write that American Authors was “Brooklyn-based,” and indeed they are now, but apparently they are actually Boston escapees, having met while all the members were students at Berklee. Ok, so I won’t hold that against them [that’s a JOKE, Bostonians…]. Previously known as The Blue Pages, they went through a name change in 2010.

They signed with Mercury Records in January and released their debut single, “Believer,” in March and another single called “Best Day of My Life” was used in a Lowe’s ad. Nice start, guys. Album forthcoming. They’re on tour; click on the photo above for dates.

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Boston Calling Music Festival 9/7 & 9/8: Tickets On Sale Now

Tickets have just gone on sale TODAY for the Boston Calling Music Festival which takes place September 7 and 8 at City Hall Plaza, so I thought I would commemorate the occasion by having a brief look at the Boston bands that will be opening up the festivities on each day. Over the weeks leading up to it, I’ll be doing little profiles about some of the “non-headliners” performing, since that’s how I am here, and it’s actually a pretty diverse and interesting line-up.

I’ll begin by profiling the two Boston bands who open things up on each day. I’ve heard some people comment that it’s a little odd not to have the Boston music scene more strongly represented at a festival that calls itself “Boston Calling.” While I tend to agree, this is also the first festival we’ve had here in Boston, right downtown no less, and there’s always a future (one hopes) to grow and improve. The first festival had two local bands, this one has three (yay Passion Pit!). Maybe the line-up can be expanded, extended into before and after-parties, whatever. Better not to boycott, but to engage in discussion. Off soapbox, on to the music.

You Won’t :: Saturday ::

I’m really happy to see the Boston-based duo of Josh Arnoudse and Raky Sastri a.k.a. the totally charming and really great indie folk outfit You Won’t opening things up on Saturday. The band came into existence in 2011 and released their debut album Skeptic Goodbye (Old Flame Records) in February 2012. This was followed by a U.S. & Canadian tour, a bunch of glowing reports in places like NPR and The New York Times, and more touring this year supporting the likes of The Lumineers, The Joy Formidable and Josh Ritter. Nice to see they’ll get some more high profile exposure with this festival.

Upcoming shows: 6/17 Toad’s Place, New Haven, CT (w/The Joy Formidable) | 6/18 Port City Music Hall, Portland, ME (w/The Joy Formidable) | 6/20 House of Blues, Boston, MA (w/The Joy Formidable) | 7/31 Downsview Park, Toronto, Canada (Edgefest)

Bearstronaut :: Sunday ::

There really isn’t a more perfect band to kick off Sunday’s dance party than Boston’s own Bearstronaut. Polished and well-produced synth-pop with hints of electro, R&B, Britpop, the 1980s… basically a bouncy, happy affair. They released their debut EP in 2009 and were the inspiration for a homegrown record label, Vanya Records, founded by Michael Marotta (the pill, WFNX). Their Moniker single was released on vinyl by Vanya, as was last year’s EP Paradice. Bearstronaut have perform with Passion Pit, fun., Bad Rabbits, St. Lucia, Surfer Blood and others. And in September, they’ll get to kick off quite an inspired Sunday line-up for dance music, hip-hop, R&B, electro and synth-pop aficionados.

Boston Calling: web | facebook | twitter

You Won’t: web | facebook | twitter | bandcamp | soundcloud

Bearstonaut: web | facebook | twitter | bandcamp | tumblr | soundcloud

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The Parson Red Heads ~ The “6” EP & West Coast Tour

One of my West Coast faves, The Parson Red Heads have just released an EP called “6” (which inexplicably, if you order it from iTunes, has 7 tracks on it…). During spring of last year, the band was in Type Foundry Studio in their hometown of Portland with Scott McCaughey and Adam Selzer, recording their new album Orb Weaver, which will be released this fall. The other big news from last year is Brette and Evan’s son George, who “was released” in the fall. For now, the EP is out to give us all some lovely tunes to hold us over until the album. Not surprisingly, it’s beautiful. Have a look and a listen below.

If you’re on the West Coast, drop in and see them somewhere. They’ll make you feel happy.

“6” track listing: Kelly Blair Bauman / Christine / The Moon Is In Your Eyes / Times / Red Quilt / Crying Days Are Over / Wedding In the Round


6/6 Eugene, OR | 6/7 Davis, CA | 6/8 Merced, CA | 6/9 San Francisco, CA | 6/11 Costa Mesa, CA | 6/12 San Diego, CA | 6/13 Los Angeles, CA | 6/14 Las Vegas | 6/15 Scottsdale, AZ | 6/16 Ventura, CA | 6/17 Felton, CA | 6/18 Chico, CA ~ see their website for details!

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Breaking News: Literary Luminaries Converge in Little Rock ‘n’ Roll Dive

photo by Kirsty Bennet

photo by Kirsty Bennet

featuring Dan Kennedy, Ophira Eisenberg, Ben Greenman and Christopher Monks
The Middle East (Upstairs)
Saturday, June 8, 2013
7pm (6pm doors) | $10 | ::: BUY TICKETS :::

Boston has an illustrious intellectual and literary tradition. Among those who have lived and written in and around the city are Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (Cambridge), Anne Bradstreet (Salem, Charlestown, Boston, Cambridge), Sylvia Plath (Boston), e.e. cummings (Cambridge), Ralph Waldo Emerson (Concord), Nathaniel Hawthorne (Salem), Robert Frost (Lawrence), Anne Sexton (Newton, Lowell, Boston, Cambridge), Jack Kerouac (Lowell), Oliver Wendell Holmes (Cambridge), Kahlil Gibran (Boston) and though Baltimore claims Edgar Allan Poe, he was in fact born in Boston. Our city also has a rich rock ‘n’ roll history: Nervous Eaters, Mission of Burma, Pixies, Morphine, Jonathan Richman and The Modern Lovers, Human Sexual Response, Willie Loco and the Boom Boom Band, Rob Zombie, Tracy Chapman, Dresden Dolls, Aerosmith, The Real Kids, Passion Pit… So it’s strangely appropriate that such a distinguished group of fertile minds would be gathering at one of our skanky rock clubs to read from their works.

Dan Kennedy

The missing link between indie rock club and high brow literature might well be New York-based writer Dan Kennedy’s 2008 memoir “Rock On”, about his marketing job at one of the music industry’s corporate monsters, Atlantic Records. He’s a contributor to GQ and McSweeney’s, and is host of The Moth storytelling podcast. His most recent novel is “American Spirit”. :: twit ::

Ophira Eisenberg

Ophira Eisenberg hosts NPR’s rambunctious weekly trivia game show, Ask Me Another, is performer and host of The Moth and has performed on The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson, VH-1, Comedy Central, E! Channel and Oxygen Network. Her writing has been featured in “I Killed: True Stories of the Road from America’s Top Comics,” and US Weekly’s Fashion Police. This year, she released her debut memoir, “Screw Everyone: Sleeping My Way to Monogamy”. :: twit ::

Ben Greenman

As an editor of the New Yorker and renowned author, Ben Greenman has written essays, music criticism and fiction that has appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Paris Review, McSweeneys, Zoetrope: All Story and Opium. His books have included “Superbad”, “Superworse”, “A Circle is a Balloon and Compass Both: Stories About Human Love” and his rock star novel, “Please Step Back”. He also contributes to the audioblog His latest work, recently released, is “The Slippage”. :: twit ::

Christopher Monks

Christopher Monks is editor of McSweeney’s Internet Tendency and author of “The Ultimate Game Guide To Your Life”. His writing has appeared in print and online journals including The Morning News and McSweeney’s, and yes of course, he tweets as well.

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