photo by Amanda Paganini (of Kissing Cousins), courtesy of Free Bike Valet
If you’re a faithful reader of musings from boston, you’ll already know 3/5 of Fakers. That would be the Siara brothers (Andy and Joey — the latter of whom has obviously had quite enough of Harvard and Boston’s infamous winters), who won our hearts with the beloved and dearly missed Henry Clay People, and Ben Heywood, who I think continues to be in Summer Darling, yet another brilliant east side L.A. band whom we’ve covered here. Then there’s Travis Shettel (Piebald) and Cameron Dmytryk (Vanaprasta), and what you have is a virtual “supergroup” (though I’m sure they would roll their collective eyes at that moniker). They describe themselves thusly: “2 rock and roll muppets with long hair, 2 tightly wound brothers with varying degrees of social anxiety, and a fatalistic drummer who drinks like a fish.”
Oh yeah, and supposedly they’re quite loud. If that sounds like a good time to you (it certainly does to me), then have a listen to their first single, “$600,” which bemoans the rising cost of living (among other things).
We don’t typically like to compare bands to other bands, so I’ll just say this: those of you who are at all wistful about the loss of the Henry Clay Peeps will have your hearts sufficiently warmed. That is all. The band’s first single, “Personality Voices,” will coincidentally be the first release from brand new label Chain Letter, owned by Heywood and his wife Heather. If you preorder the Fakers 7″ now, you’ll get two bonus songs digitally. The single is available digitally or as a limited edition vinyl 7″ with artwork by Jessica Tosoc. The music was recorded and mixed by S. Foye.
If you’re lucky enough to be in the L.A. area for the Fakers’ August residency every Monday night at the Echo, you can pick up your pre-order there. Otherwise, they’ll be happy to send it to you, and you can then listen to it while you cry pathetically over your geographical misfortune. Their first show will also be featuring Vs Colour, Afternoons (!), Barrows and DJ Chris Ziegler (L.A. Record). Expect an all-star supporting line-up as well. There’s a rumor that the August 31 show will include The Pretty Flowers, Happy Hollows and Western Lows. That’ll teach me for living on the East Coast.
While we’re waiting for the single release (and for Fakers to bring their classy selves East), let’s have a listen to the single’s b-side, “Gold Room.”
Only a band like London-based quintet Feldspar can make a jealous and murderous crime of passion sound romantic. In fact, on much of their recently released EP, We’re Still Together (on Fierce Panda/Fandango), the subject matter revolves around bitterness and despair, with only the wistful hope of salvation. But oh, those harmonies! And those heavenly soaring melodies!
Their five lyrical songs of loss and lament, released through 2014 and 2015, have been gathered here together for your listening pleasure and mournful contemplation. For those in the UK, Feldspar will be performing at the Wickham Festival on August 6.
We’re not victims of circumstance, we’re just victims of missing our cue.”
– Beautiful People
“I went down to the city with its marketplaces, alleyways, its temples and its tower blocks. Where the buildings rise in stacks as if they’re trying to attract congratulations from a magpie god.”
– Hang Your Head
Whether it’s a failed relationship or a failed society, remorse and dismay have never been so elegant.
Who says that Boston bands have “attitude”? Uh yeah, they do. But in the case of Beantown locals Six Times Seven, they also have a powerful and feisty sound that borrows from ’70s metal bands and the heavier end of ’90s alternative rock. Suffice it to say that these guys (and gal) have plenty of bark and bite.
Six Times Seven is fiercely fronted by vocalist and guitarist Stevie Caldwell. Ron Levine is on bass and Dave Zimmerman plays drums. That’s it. And for this muscular power trio, that’s plenty. Their debut EP in 2013 was the wryly titled A Lesbian, a Jew, and a Dave, which demonstrates a healthy dose of wit as admirable as their music. A bad attitude is perfectly fine; a lack of sarcastic humor would be unforgivable for a Boston band. On their latest EP, Ish, they continue their hard, edgy and slightly menacing vibe. It may seem unlikely that a Hole fan and a Hawkwind aficionado would join together to form a rock band, but that’s exactly what happened when Caldwell met Levine in 2011, and the unlikely merging of their particular musical sensibilities, punk fury and musical sophistication, gave rise to something quite interesting.
They have a pair of shows on the horizon — August 23 at Venu Nightclub in Boston and September 19 at PA’s Lounge in Somerville. Until then, enjoy the delicious angst of “The Devil Rise” from their debut, while the band works on new music for their first full-length release. Stay tuned.
Something thrashy for you on this fine day. It’s a new single from Frantic Sunday, though it’s likely that this Swedish band’s exhuberance runs pretty steady through the entire week. “We’re the Future” portends very good things for their sophomore album.
Frantic Sunday came into being in 2008 and have performed all over Europe, the U.S. and Canada, including many festivals. The released their debut album just last year, but have had several singles and a self-released EP from 2009-2011. Their debut ended up in the #3 spot on the Swedish iTunes chart when it was released. They have a new album coming out in September, produced by Patrik Frisk, and are planning a European tour this autumn with a U.S. tour slated for Spring 2016. Their sound, at least judging from this first single, has a more mature sound and a harder edge which I believe will serve the band well.
It’s the strangest feeling, now that I know you are gone. That you have been gone for 27 years.
All this time I had kept alive a romantic notion, a vision of you in foreign lands — a poet, a pirate, a painter, a writer, a thespian, a sculptor of Raku chess pieces as I remembered from the mid-1970s when I knew you. In the gauzy passage of time and without the inconvenience of truth, I entertained fanciful thoughts. Were you, I wondered, a cloistered writer in a small Vermont village, or a devout monk in an Indian ashram?
The truth had far less romance than my imaginings. I learnt you were gone from a fellow student of our progressive and now defunct high school. You were involved for some years in various performing arts groups, which I knew about. Though in the final years of your life, you weren’t a world-renowned concert promoter or an explorer uncovering ancient mysteries in some remote cave in Fiji, but instead were building model train layouts and custom dollhouses at a hobby shop in Connecticut. I don’t know why this disappointed me. I was even sadder to discover that we lived in the same town for a few years, though galaxies away. None of that matters now, of course.
My parents have two of your Raku pieces, the queen and bishop, in their living room. One was broken by an old boyfriend’s brother, who in a drunken moment, accidentally kicked it, knocking off the perfectly curved top of the bishop, so gently and perfectly formed, full of such grace.
You introduced me and my wide-eyed and clueless peers to Samuel Beckett, Yukio Mishima, William Burroughs, Jean Genet. Had us lie down once, in our woodland mountaintop classroom, and close our eyes while you led us through a guided meditation and then read us a story. I remember a cottage in the woods, a stone hearth and the smell of bacon cooking, as real to the senses as if I were there in the room.
Burroughs gave me nightmares, but I was so enamored with Beckett that I designed my own course (as we were allowed to do in that nutty place), and I read and read and read. I still have those books, yellowed with age and at times with entire pages of text underlined. What was I thinking? I was clearly driven, obviously inspired, worked up to a delirious frenzy, but over what? I no longer remember.
“So it is with time,
that lightens what is dark,
that darkens what is light.”
– Watt, Samuel Beckett
The anxiety, the paranoia, is still there, and ever more deeply ingrained and finely chiseled with each passing year.
“I don’t like those gull’s eyes. They remind me of an old shipwreck, I forget which. I know it is a small thing. But I am easily frightened now. I know those little phrases that seem so innocuous and, once you let them in, pollute the whole of speech. Nothing is more real than nothing. They rise up out of the pit and know no rest until they drag you down into its dark. But I am on my guard now.”
– Malone Dies, Samuel Beckett
You cast me and my inner demons in a 2-person play, you and I. It was an honor, a privilege. You saw me as a writer, an actress, one of your shining stars, even though I never saw myself that way. I don’t recall the play, but we were to perform it in front of the entire school, parents, friends — until the administration deemed it too risque and pulled it from the evening’s program. I was devastated.
Once on campus, you presented a formal Japanese tea ceremony for your fellow teachers, students and parents. It was elegant, otherworldly. You brought us all into that sacred space and I was entranced by the idea of an altered state of reality, without the need of hallucinogenic substances. Just tea. And tea bowls. A scoop, a whisk, a piece of cloth. Ritualized sharing and reverence.
My parents drove me to your friend’s house, somewhere in the wilds of Northern Connecticut. The astrologer. He read my chart and made predictions. I have an old cassette tape somewhere. It was my first foray into self-examination, self-discovery, the esoteric arts, that would soon become a life-long passion. You were there for that, too.
Flash forward nearly 40 years — FORTY! I’m in my monthly spiritualist salon, in the parlor of our hostess’s old Victorian home, and she’s giving our close-knit group personalized mediumship readings, as is our custom. She comes to me and brings through someone named Robert. Bob. I don’t know any Bob in spirit. None of my deceased relatives have that name, nor any living ones either. I’m perplexed, as she’s usually spot on. Only now does it slowly dawn on me. The message? That I’m weighted down with a terrible burden, and I need to drop it and stop worrying, continue to develop my gifts.
Something tells me that this new song from Coastwest Unrest’s fourth release, Black Desert Sweet Mojave (due out July 28 on Reclaim Records) won’t be getting a whole lot of commercial airplay. Which is a shame, really, as “All the F*ck You’s” is a beautifully melodic and poetic little beast of a number.
Coastwest Unrest has been around since 2009 with some personnel changes over the years, but centers around bothers Josh (drums) and Noah (vocals, guitar) Dickie. Their prior releases are Songs from the Desert (2009), Old Weird America (2010) and High Times on Lowly Streets (2013). They have a pretty irresistible vibe going, whether it’s something in a rootsy Americana vein or more “high desert” and owing quite a bit to their Las Vegas home. What ties it all together are intriguing lyrics and Noah’s low, relaxed and warm vocal style a la Matt Berninger.
For those on the West Coast, they have some shows coming up — Seattle on 7/21, Eugene on 7/22, Boise on 7/24 and Elko, Nevada on 7/25.
Good heavens, where to begin? T.T. the Bear’s Place in Central Square, Cambridge has been a beloved member of the Boston music scene family since 1973. Dark and divey, this intimate 300-capacity club has hosted notable legends from Boston and beyond — The Pixies (who recently performed there again in a surprise gig), Lemonheads, Arcade Fire, Dropkick Murphys, Dinosaur Jr., Mission of Burma, Jane’s Addiction, Brian Jonestown Massacre, The Shins, Scruffy the Cat and many more. They’ve also hosted many up and coming bands from around the world. They were also the proud home of Boston’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Rumble from 2011-2015. [And as my friend, esteemed poet, psychic and past-life regression therapist Victor Robert Venckus pointed out, they were also home to Stone Soup Poetry for a number of years.]
The only good news out of this is that they’re going out with a bang rather than a whimper with a Farewell Blowout week-long+ celebration that will see quite a few local legends, with many performing together on the same bill. Due to the heavy demand for these really low-priced tickets, all sales are in person at the box office (7pm – closing), with a small amount of tickets put aside for “first come, first serve” the night of the show. The final evening on the 25th with Scruffy the Cat is already sold out, but there will be limited tickets available at the door.
There are many others far more qualified to sing the praises of T.T.’s, since I only arrived to Boston in 1992 and for the last 10+ years have lived in the wilds of the North Shore, not getting in as often as I used to. However, I’ve covered quite a few of their shows here on ‘musings,’ so here’s a few personal highlights.
Local Natives’ first ever Boston show, in the dead of winter, with two other L.A. favorites, The Union Line and Voxhaul Broadcast – 1/17/2009
“Better late than never. Work obligations, the oppressive cold bearing down, and all that. But last Sunday, a distant and rapidly fading memory now, I braved the elements (snowy, windy and cold as they were) to see three really great L.A. bands at T.T. The Bear’s Place in Cambridge. And as I so often am at these times that finally inspire me to get my ass off my small island and down from the North Shore into the city, I was cold, lonely and bereft of inspiration, desperately in need of an indie band live music fix. These guys really delivered for me.” Read more >>
Happy Hollows’ debut Boston appearance, with two Southern rock bands – 10/18/2009
“Toward the end of my ‘Silverlake East Coast Revue’, there was this marvelous miracle of an appearance by highly regarded (and rightly justified!) eastside L.A. band, The Happy Hollows, at our lovely little dive, T.T. The Bear’s Place in Central Square. I don’t know how on earth they got plunked onto a bill that sandwiched them between two swampy Southern rock bands, but bless all the pagan gods that they did. [as Sarah said to me afterward, “we were the odd ducks in the middle”. Odd and immensely talented ducks, I’d say!]” Read more >>
Crooked Fingers – 11/6/2011 (covered on Ryan’s Smashing Life)
“Many indie rockers, when looking for a breath of fresh air away from their main band, will gravitate towards folk-informed singer songwriting, and rootsy alt-country. It’s a yearning for something stripped-down, more personal and self-contained, simple and emotionally direct. It’s a desire to get back to basics, and to find that connection with traditional storytelling and down-home comfort food for the spirit. Elder statesmen such as Woody Guthrie, Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash, Townes Van Zandt, and Steve Earle light the way. But few can really pull it off, to ingest and then transform those influences into their own voice. Eric Bachmann is such an artist, and at the risk of coming off as corny, I felt like I was in the presence of a really old soul at T.T. the Bear’s Place.” Read more >>
Rock ‘n’ Rumble Semi-Finals Night #1 – 4/12/2012 (covered on Ryan’s Smashing Life)
“We’re getting down to it, folks. No more messing around, the gloves are coming off, and Boston’s music fans were treated to ferocious jams on Thursday night, as preliminary winners fought hard for a place in next week’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Rumble finals. There was ferocious 50s-style garage rock on the front end, hardcore headbanging on the back end, and sandwiched in-between, a rather breathless battle between the considerable musical prowess of Bow Thayer and Perfect Trainwreck, and the elegant old-timey Americana of Cask Mouse.” Read more >>
The Drowning Men – 11/11/2012
“I had seen The Drowning Men on several occasions as support for The Airborne Toxic Event, mostly in larger venues. I had become so accustomed to seeing/hearing them take over the room and captive big crowds in a big space, that nothing quite prepared me for the sonic onslaught of that huge sound of theirs in the small confines of T.T. the Bear’s Place. This is a happy problem to have—being too good for a small venue. As Nato himself said, when headlining, they’re still a “small band,” though they sure as hell don’t sound like one.” Read more >>
And speaking of Ryan’s Smashing Life, there was that highly esteemed Boston music blog’s 4-Year Celebration —
Oh, T.T.’s, with your dank and cozy vibe, wall-bursting sound and dodgy lighting, I shall miss you. 🙁
Wednesday July 15 (last “regular” show)
Air Traffic Controller w/ Purples (Philly), Gladshot (NYC) and People Skills (NH)
8:30pm doors | 18+ | $10
Thursday July 16 – Wolf’s Farewell to TT’s Party
with the Legendary Vudu Krewe (9pm) & special guests Jenny (Dee) D’Angora, John Powhida, Amber Casares (8:30pm); Fireking (Asa Brebner, Kevin Connelly, Jittery Jack, Anthony Kaczynski) (7:30pm); Michelle Paulus (Dents), Ramona Silver and more!
7:00pm doors | 18+ | music starts at 7:30pm | FREE!
TT’s Farewell Blowout
Friday, July 17 – Saturday, July 25
Friday, July 17
The Upper Crust (midnight), Last Stand, Stop Calling Me Frank, The Bristols, Reid Paley, Pooka Stew…plus special guests!
presented by PBR | 8:00pm Doors | 18+ | $15
Saturday, July 18
TBA 7/16 5:30pm – It has just been announced that indeed, Mighty Mighty Bosstones will be playing an 11pm set at T.T.’s, coming directly from their support gig with Foo Fighters! They’ll be performing with “special guests” (maybe the other support on that bill?). In any case, you can only get on the list here. It’s $20, with no actual tickets. Your name will be at the door and you’ll need ID. The show is 18+.
At press time, we have no idea who will be playing on Saturday. However, Boston heavyweights Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Mission of Burma and Dropkick Murphys all happen to be performing with Foo Fighters at Fenway Park this weekend. Just sayin’.
Sunday, July 19
The Daily Pravda (1am), Bearstronaut, Animal Talk, Spirit Kid, TBA, The Luxury, Paddy Saul… plus special guests
presented by PBR | 7:00pm Doors | 18+ | $12
Monday, July 20
Mike The Considerate & The Interns (midnight), TT’s Staff House Band!, Mary Lou Lord (with Annabelle Lord-Patey), Jules Verdone, Matt & The Lower Standards (9pm)… plus special guests!
presented by PBR | 8:30 Doors | 18+ | $10
Tuesday, July 21
Runner & The Thermodynamics (midnight), Thalia Zedek Band, The Dazies, Evan Dando, Willy Mason, The Grownup Noise (acoustic set)… plus special guests!
presented by PBR | 8:00 Doors | 18+ | $12
Wednesday, July 22
The Lights Out (midnight), Ad Frank & The Fast Easy Women, Parlour Bells, Francine, Cujo (featuring Jen Trynin)… plus special guests
presented by PBR | 8:00pm Doors | 18+ | $12
Thursday, July 23
Harris (1am), Emergency Music, Vic Firecracker, Orbit, Field Nurse featuring TT’s bartender John!, Atomic Spectra (featuring members of Taxpayer & Aberdeen City)… plus special guests
presented by PBR | 7:00pm Doors | 18+ | $15
Friday, July 24
The Dogmatics (1am), The Neighborhoods, Howie & The Scrapes, Martin & Morrell (members of The Neats & Del Fuegos), Bleu… plus special guests
presented by PBR | 8:00pm Doors | 18+ | $15
Saturday, July 25
Scruffy The Cat (midnight), O Positive, Randy Black & The Heathcroppers (with Willie Alexander)… plus special guests
presented by PBR | 8:00pm Doors | 18+ | $15
Hey, don’t be down on this bright, sunny summer day (or cold winter day, if you happen to live in New Zealand) — You Are Beautiful! No, this isn’t a New Age affirmation; it’s the latest single from L.A. indie folk outfit The Herbert Bail Orchestra. They’re not exactly an orchestra of the classical variety, but the Americana-with-horns sound on this song is lush, full and celebratory. It’s a joyous and upbeat track that will definitely raise your spirits. Download it free from Soundcloud.
The Herbert Bail Orchestra’s debut EP was in 2011, which was followed up in 2013 with a full-length album The Future’s In The Past. At different times, you’ll catch glimpses of DeVotchKa, Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros and Lord Huron, with lusty vocals, strings, horns, accordion, tinkling piano, life-affirming choral uprisings and driving percussion. Fans of Gogol Bordello, Of Monsters and Men and performers of that ilk should also take note of these guys. They’re the musical equivalent of The Wild West.
Last year, they collaborated with award-winning director Björn Rühmann on a music video triology inspired by three songs from their album. Part I: The Nature of Things, explores the journey of a man and his dog on their final road.
The ensemble is currently working on a collection of songs for a release next year. Meanwhle, if you like what you hear, you can purchase The Future’s in the Past on iTunes. A vinyl version is available on their bandcamp. And check out this wonderful acoustic version of “Hold Your Own.”
In the video for “Hold On” from Los Angeles-based We Are The West, it feels as though you’re peeking through a keyhole into someone else’s daydream. It was filmed in Malibu in collaboration with Clifford Cruz, and is inspired by Stanley Donen’s 1974 film, “The Little Prince.” In that story, a young prince from a distant asteroid falls to earth and lands in the desert, where a stranded pilot finds him. It’s a philosophical tale illustrated in watercolors that speaks of the strangeness of the adult world. The video has a similarly eerie and otherworldly feel, as the song seems to convey its own strangeness in a life examined, softly and honestly told, with a distinct sense of sadness and disillusionment. It ends with the plea to “hold on,” which hangs unanswered in the air.
The song is from their 3-track EP Regards, released last November. A special edition of the EP is available on cassette via Touch Tapes. According to the band, it includes “a fifteen minute Side B amalgam of sounds and songs of our past, present, and future.”
We Are The West features Brett Hool (vocals, guitar) and John Kibler (bass, vocals), with friends Elizabeth Goodfellow (percussion, voice) and Marië Abe (accodion) joining them on “Hold On.” It includes a cover of “The Thin Red Line,” written by songwriter Michael Bush, which features Dina Maccabee on violin. The title track has Jesse Olsen Bay on pump organ and Elizabeth (Beth) on cymbals. This experimental folk duo (and friends) have become known in L.A. for their stirring and intimate storytelling and the unusual venues they perform in, which have included shipping containers, abandoned convents and an underground parking garage in Santa Monica, where they’ve held a monthly concert series with other Los Angeles luminaries such as Aaron Embry and Lord Huron.
We Are The West (whom we first wrote about in 2013) are playing a rare performance on the East Coast at a Lysten Boston Presents show at The Middle East (corner) on Monday, July 13, along with Honeysuckle and Heather Woods. Considering their history, this will be a rare opportunity to see this underground ensemble above ground.
Golden Summer Tour 2015
7/9 Strand Theatre, Buffalo, NY
7/10 House Concert, Hudson, NY
7/11 Troost, Brooklyn, NY
7/12 Rockwood Music Hall – New York, NY 7/13 The Middle East (corner) – Cambridge, MA
7/15 The Whistler, Chicago, IL
7/17 Scottish Rite Temple – Sante Fe, NM
7/18 Firecreek – Flagstaff, AZ
7/25 Underground Parking Garage – Santa Monica, CA
8/06 UC Berkeley Redwood Grove Concert Series – Berkeley, CA
On “Morning Is Leaving,” the first single from Sara Forslund’s debut album Water Became Wild, her voice is barely a whisper, yet she immediately commands your attention. Mystical and intimate, she’s minimally accompanied by a simple piano melody. Other songs on the album, just released on VOLKOREN, feature cello and trumpet in addition to piano. Water Became Wild was produced by Forslund and fellow Swedish musician David Ahlen, mixed by John Wood (Nick Drake, Pink Floyd, Richard Thompson, Fairport Convention, Cat Stevens), and is available from VOLKOREN (CD – Digipack in Europe) and from Time Released Sound (CD – limited edition – U.S.).
Forslund’s melancholy imagery and spiritual introspection is perhaps inspired by her father, a priest in the small Swedish village of Borgvattnet, who offered to exorcise the ghosts from the village’s haunted vicarage. Now based in Stockholm, Forslund began in the folk band Birch and Meadow, where one can hear the seeds of her unique style being sown. They released their debut album Butterflies and Graves, but a concert by singer-songwriter Gareth Dickson (and subsequent introduction to the music of Nick Drake) inspired her to strike out on her own. She has performed in Sweden, the U.K., Australia and New Zealand.
If you live in Sweden, the release party for Water Became Wild on July 5. See the Facebook event for more information.