screams, whispers and songs from planet earth

Month: April 2015

Jaggery Presents The Beautiful and the Grotesque: Inspired by Leonardo da Vinci @ the MFA

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Remis Auditorium
465 Huntington Ave – Boston, MA
Friday, May 1st @ 7:30pm | all ages
::: info & tickets :::
::: facebook event :::

It’s high time to check back in with my favorite darkly erotic, harp-wielding, siren-luring, viola-beckoning, piano, percussive and bass jazz-jiving exotic ensemble, Jaggery. They have an incredibly special performance coming up on Friday, May 1st at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. It is called Jaggery Presents The Beautiful and the Grotesque: Inspired by Leonardo da Vinci, an evening of original new music that coincides with and celebrates a visiting exhibit at the MFA of rare drawings by da Vinci.

The show is Leonardo and the Idea of Beauty and it features some drawings that have never been shown before in Boston.

Even by Jaggery’s usual ultra-high standards, this is going to be one damned classy gig. Most all the members of Jaggery have written their own pieces for the show and they explain their inspiration as being “everything from Leonardo’s studies of light and shadow on drapery, his forays into flight and flying machines, his bronze horse statue, an essay regarding correspondence between a music theorist and his portrait painter, to our own interpretation of Renaissance music.”

As it’s all new music, we’ll all have to be delightfully surprised together, but if you’re not familiar with Jaggery’s sensuously dark magic, here’s a little taste from their For The Record [LIVE] recording, released last year.

In addition to brand new offerings from Jaggery (as if that wasn’t enough to entice), they’ll be joined by very special guests Rabbit Rabbit (Carla Kihlstedt/Matthias Bossi), who, for those of you familiar with Mali Sastri’s magnificent Orgs, was renamed Now You for Org: Murder Ballads and Hello Dust for Org: Asylum. Brilliant musicians.

Needless to say, this is going to be an amazing event. Their performance is part of the highly recommended ArtWeek Boston. As they say in their press release, “come party with us like it’s the fourteenth-to-seventeenth century!!!”

And with that I’ll leave you with a pair of mind-melting music videos, to get you all in the mood. See you there.

Jaggery: web | facebook | twitter | youtube
Rabbit Rabbit: web | facebook | twitter | youtube

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Walter Sickert and The Army of Broken Toys – Recent New Arrivals

Photo by Liza Voll Photography, for Company One's SHOCKHEADED PETER

Photo by Liza Voll Photography, for Company One's SHOCKHEADED PETER

It’s been quite a while since we checked in on our favorite darkly enchanted Salvador Dali house band, Walter Sickert and The Army of Broken Toys. They’ve had a busy year so far.

Earlier this month they finished a successful run on their second musical, Shockheaded Peter, and prior to that, while in production, they managed to find time for their tenth anniversary offering in the annual RPM Challenge. It was recorded, mixed and mastered by Walter himself in their home studio. Have a listen to this cornucopia of unearthly delights from deep within their curious jungle.

They also found the time to welcome a new member of The Army into the WireForest, Wednesday Alice Agnes Edrie! We look forward to her future musical and theatrical contributions. No pressure, kid.

web | facebook | twitter | bandcamp | youtube | Walter’s InkDrips

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Introducing… Kosoti

On Kosoti’s newest single “Gone Too Far” (to be released April 27 and produced by Adrian Hall), lead singer and songwriter Allan Hyslop sings about relationship regrets, about how sometimes a situation goes too far to return to the way things were. The music, centered around the soft organic sounds of acoustic guitar, banjo, tightly knitted percussion and vocal harmonies that drift and dance around each other, creates a dreamy and wistful contemplation that perfectly complements the subject matter.

The seeds for Kosoti were sown in 2013 when Hyslop had a near death experience. Understandably, he realized at that moment the importance of doing what he loved, which was writing music, performing and connecting with people. The band was formed, releasing their first songs, “War” and “Pirouettes,” and their debut Cradle EP. They’ve performed sessions for Amazing Radio, BBC Introducing and Metro Radio. In 2014, they released their debut full-length album, which featured an artistically crafted video for the second single “Bark and Sticks.”

As I often say, the true test of whether a band “has it” or doesn’t is when the music is stripped-down to its bare essentials. Check out this exclusive acoustic session for Northern Lights, recorded at the Town Wall Pub in Newcastle-upon-Tyne.

If you’re in the UK, Kosoti has a few festivals and one club appearance scheduled in the upcoming months. See their website for details (or just look at the photo above).

web | facebook | twitter | youtube | soundcloud

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Introducing… Found Audio

Found Audio, presumably from Porchfest, which they'll be playing again next month in Somerville.

Found Audio, presumably from Porchfest, which they'll be playing again next month in Somerville.

Here’s something you don’t hear everyday. Would you like a little synthesizer with your bluegrass? Found Audio starts out sounding like a damn fine folk/Americana/bluegrass band with chipper banjo, foot tapping percussion and homey harmonies. And then the synths start swirling around like a mysterious weather pattern descending upon a tranquil lake. The result is absolutely hypnotic. This, for me, is when electronic music gets exciting — when it’s blended with rootsy, organic materials to lend it a charming sort of humanity. Yes, it sounds like a bizarre love match, but lordy, does it work!

“Carnival” is the first single from their upcoming album called Locomotive Earth, which is set for release this summer. Allston-based Found Audio is led by singer, guitarist and songwriter John Bragg. Their first album, Chalk, was released in 2011. After their debut, they added a banjo, keyboard/synth player and a new bassist for the current incarnation. Their new album is a full-band collaborative effort which blends together a diversity of musical styles. Some might label it “psychedelic bluegrass,” but I just call it a logical progression — traditional sounds gone off to explore strange new galaxies.

If you’re in the Boston area (more specifically, Somerville), Found Audio will be playing Porchfest on Saturday, May 16th, which sounds like a pretty amazing event. They’ll be performing at 23 Thorndike Street. Support this fine band and many others!

web | facebook | twitter | bandcamp | soundcloud

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Introducing… The Interlopers

This one’s for the older folks out there who fondly recall live shows of the 1970s with big horn sections and lots of harmonies. In an admission in which I am about to date myself horribly, the first concert I ever attended was Blood Sweat and Tears, and The Interlopers are strongly reminiscent in both sound and spirit. Other obvious influences include Stevie Wonder, Chicago, Steely Dan and Dave Matthews Band. It’s a sophisticated jazzy R&B mix with some pretty stellar skills. Their musical prowess is easily explained by their Berklee College pedigree, and the smooth vocals, harmonies and horns are a nice upbeat change from the admittedly darker hues I often find myself wading in these days. Enjoy the warmer weather and enjoy this fine Boston-based band.

They’ve just begun recording a series for YouTube called #RedLightSessions which involves recording snippets of recent pop tunes while performing in city crosswalks — a brave feat when that crosswalk happens to be Harvard Square!

The band’s next performance is at Brighton Music Hall on May 2nd with West End Blend and NOVI.

web | facebook | twitter | bandcamp | youtube

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Busker Diaries #3: Introducing Stephen Paul Taylor

So long as Busker Diaries keeps churning out documentaries about absolutely fascinating street musicians, I’ll keep featuring them here on ‘musings.’ They’re now three for three. The Daily Dot first wrote about Berlin street musician Stephen Paul Taylor last December, talking about his anti-establishment “Everybody Knows Sh*t’s F*cked” performance. A short while after, Busker Diaries decided to do one of their web documenties about him. They follow him from his street corner to his first German television show. Through the documentary, he “tells about his alter egos, self-fulfillment and how the internet hype changed his life.” It shows him performing on a Berliner U-Bahn train.

Tyler is a synth-pop artist with decidedly ’80s sensibilities (think Depeche Mode, B-52s, Talking Heads) with a touch of ’70s glam thrown in for good measure. He’s been making music since 2012, with performances around Berlin and in Finland, Austria, Belgium, Holland and Switzerland. He has a new album coming out, Single and Seventeen, set for release on SPT Records on June 1.

Busker Diaries films mini-documentaries about street performers, telling their personal stories and highlighting their music, introducing them to the world through the Internet. You can donate to the cause and recommend musicians to be profiled.

Stephen Paul Taylor: web | facebook | twitter | bandcamp | soundcloud | tumblr

Busker Diaries: web | facebook

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Introducing… The Quins

I don’t often cover classic rock here on musings, so when I do, you know it’s something quite special. From Boston’s South Shore (East Bridgewater, to be precise), The Quins have such a smooth and seasoned sound in every possible way that it’s difficult to believe that A Tale of Love and Evil is their debut album. I honestly don’t know what to mention first. Is it the sparkling lead guitar riffs and jaw-dropping soaring-to-bluesy-to-gospel vocals that recall some of rock’s legendary voices? Could it be the perfectly tight rhythm section, expert harmonies, sophisticated composition or stunning sound? It’s probably all of that, really. Hard-rocking tunes come up against bluesy laments, with tasteful muted horns sprinkled in here and there to produce a rather remarkable album. Even the lyrics, which I almost always complain about, have a lot more going on than your typical classic rock song (“And these thoughts running through my head, they make me feel like I’m some kind of foreigner” – The Valley). Again, and I can’t express this strongly enough — judging from my usual tastes, I shouldn’t like this, but I really, really do. That’s probably the highest praise anyone can give. There are nice little touches on occasion (those horns, for one) that push this ever so slightly into the alternative column, but it’s still, at its heart, seriously jamming classic rock.

I’m clearly not the only one who’s impressed with The Quins. They recently scored Best Album of the Year at the 7th Annual Limelight Magazine Music Awards. The band features Quincy Medaglia (lead guitar, vocals), Robbie Sturtevant (rhythm & lead guitar, vocals), Jon LeCours (bass) and Tyler McLean (drums, vocals). The album, which it beautifully put together, was recorded and engineered by Brad McCarthy at Stillpoint Sounds Studios (Brockton, MA), with additional promotion and support from Midday Records (Providence, RI). If you’re on Boston’s South Shore or up for a little drive, they’ll be performing at The Tinker’s Son in Norwell on Wednesday, April 8. There’s the promise of more shows coming up this year, so follow them on Facebook for details. Definitely a band to watch, no doubt about it.

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