screams, whispers and songs from planet earth

Category: Boston Bands Page 1 of 20

Examining the Mind Debris (and discovering a new band)

Photo Credit: Alejandro Avila Gasperin

Photo Credit: Alejandro Avila Gasperin

“Mind Debris” would be a good way to describe the state of my mental health after the past few years of world events. But Mind Debris is also the name of a pleasantly dreamy Boston-based indie rock band who creates an airy and mind-expanding atmosphere that’s laced with psychodelia and inspired by bands lke Grizzly Bear, Radiohead, UK band Temples and Houstin 3-piece Khruangbin. Mind Debris’ latest release is the Endless single, featuring the lovely compositions “Eons” and “Echoes.” Lyrically, they tackle some deep topics, and musically, it’s pretty and seemingly smooth on the surface, though upon further listening, more complex, layered and nuanced. Much like life itself.

Endless single (Eons / Echoes)

Endless is about the intangibility of knowledge inside and outside of oneself, although it’s overwhelming to be standing in a cloud and not ever be able to fully hold it, nor understand what stands outside of it, it’s completely harmless. – Mind Debris

Mind Debris is the songwriting and production duo of keyboardist Diego Valencia and guitarist Michael Beckhart. They met as students in Boston, bonding over their shared Mexican roots. Their debut EP album, Towards the Sun was released in April of 2018, and is a concept album that examines the philosophy of stoicism, with themes of introspection, duality, and the conscious and unconscious self, explored through metaphors found in nature.

He’s gone and found himself astray
Chasing melancholic dreams
Trapped but flowing in a scheme
– This is Water

Have you ever felt like that? I know I have. This is the sort of music that can be enjoyed and appreciated on various levels — as a gentle and relaxing soundtrack to unwind with after a stress-filled day with an endless barrage of stimuli, or as a deeper contemplation of life’s meaning and value. It’s a way to realign with that which is at our core.

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Why Another Asks Why (the answer is complicated)

Uncertainty, impermanence and the oppressive passage of time — a hungry wolf that chases us down like prey, always vicious and never relenting. Or maybe it’s just me.

Boston’s Why Another takes us down a winding road of wistful inquiry and existential angst with their recent single “Why,” from their ambitious self-titled debut album.

So pretty, so sad. The album begins with somber piano, spirits drifting on the winds and quiet contemplation. As the pace picks up anxiously with visits from electronic demons, the band addresses some of those topics that we’re not supposed to obsess over. You know, like death, anxiety, depression, getting lost (either in a physical or spiritual sense). I often dream that I can’t remember where I parked my car, so I can completely relate to “Only at Night.”

The song “Why” ask those difficult questions and doesn’t really leave us with any definitive answer. As frontman and lead singer Adi Malka explains, “‘Why’ was written about a former band member who made me ask myself questions I’ve never asked myself before in my life.”

The mood ebbs and flows, from serene and melancholy to emotionally distraught, taking the listener through the human plight of chasing after peace and well-being, flailing from the inside, trying to get out of our own heads.

There are no more questions
No one knows what to ask
It feels far, we’re so behind
The answer’s already passed
— I Don’t Mind

“Of Forests and Seas” is a welcome respite from the restless overthinking, and it settles peacefully in the mind like a soothing balm.

The album stretches out luxuriously with gorgeous string arrangements, snippets of screaming or scurrying or dreaming guitars, ambient atmospherics and swirling percussion (such as on the stunning “The Secret” and the complex, overarching and beautifully untamed “The Air”) — it’s quite an adventure.

My street at night
Is full of animals
I clearly
I clearly don’t know how to appreciate what we have
— Here They Are

Why Another’s members are from around the world, though they’re currently based in Boston. They combine a searing rock energy with ethereal electronics and sophisticated composition. The band features Malka on drums, guitar, piano and vocals; Jordan Kerr on guitar and background vocals; Pietro Gennenzi on bass and Armando González Sosto on guitar, keyboards and computers. On this album, they’re joined by a very classy string quartet, and it all works beautifully.

You can purchase the ditital album (name your own price) on Bandcamp or stream it on Spotify.

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Inside Brody Thomas’s Perceptive Stream of Consciousness

Think of Brody Thomas as a 21st century beat poet. He’s thoughtful, vulnerable, eternally on-edge and a little paranoid. As he moves through our world, he picks up today’s fears and phobias, echoing them back to us like a reinforcing mantra.

Everything good that happens to me, is because of me
Everything bad that happens to me, is because of me
Because of these facts, I know that I have what I have
Because I’m supposed to have that
Nothing happens just to happen.

Have you ever thought that we create what we see?
And we see and we dream like deja vu,
except that the place you’ve been before only exists
because of you. – Wanted

This spoken word contemplation floats the idea that our thoughts create our reality. If that’s true, at the very least, we’d better be damn careful of the thoughts inside our heads. The idea of self-creation, if you stop to think about it a bit, can be either empowering or terrifying.

Brody Thomas, a Boston-based musician, has been at it for just five years. Everything is potent metaphor, including the title song of this EP, “Jellyfish Stings & Sunburns.” It’s just life, really — those things that bite hard and other things that stay with you, permanently coloring your world view. The minimalist instrumentation points out the stark beauty and truth of Thomas’s lyrics, which are like religiously chanted meditations. Little snippets bubble up like crystal gems.

I wish that I was small enough to fit under your breath,
’cause then I’d hear all of the whispers
and I’d know just what you meant
when you said you’re fine.
I’m realizing now that if I’m begging for metal
then I’ve got to love the rust.

“Hoodie” is about learning to wait, accepting imperfection, embracing change, one’s thoughts versus one’s projected self, crippling insecurity and self-loathing, all expressed through the poignant metaphor of a beloved blue hoodie that doesn’t fit quite right.

In “Bugs,” our fearless protagonist steps outside of himself to wonder about the personal life of that insignificant little bug we just mindlessly squashed.

“Rain” contemplates the loss of one of our senses (the sense of taste, for example), and through this mental exercise, another observation pops up –

Everything I want, wants something in return
Do we forget one thing for every new thing that we learn?

“Cancelled” likens a life to a television show that’s had “a few good seasons and cameos,” but is now possibly past its prime. The title song, “Jellyfish Stings & Sunburns” metaphorically speaks of being transparent and vulnerable like the sea creature, with the sun as a source of (spiritual?) nourishment —

When the sun stops giving you light, the darkness starts to feel alright.

This deceptively simple 7-song collection of contemplations poses many intriquing questions — the kinds of questions that can keep you up at night. Thanks, man. It also feels like the tip of a much larger iceberg.

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Walter Sickert & The Army of Broken Toys Get Cozy Under Your Covers

Having been released at the start of this fast-moving year, this one nearly got by me. I’d glad it didn’t. Boston’s own Walter Sickert & The Army of Broken Toys has always been a personal favorite. This charming collection of cover tunes, appropriately (and somewhat menacingly) titled Under Your Covers, is a loving tribute to a diverse selection of fan favorites — from Iggy Pop’s “The Passenger” to Destiny’s Child’s “Bills, Bills, Bills” to “The Toys Go Winding Down” by Primus. The choices were specially requested by the band’s Come Black Magic Kickstarter backers.

Having pulled up some of the originals to hear how the Broken Toys’ re-imagingings compare, I can happily report that these songs are performed with due reverence, yet with the Toys’ trademark Gothic elegance and ominous magnificence. It’s “all hands on deck,” with Mr. Sickert on vocals, piano, guitar, effects and programming; Edrie playing with her ‘broken toys’: Rachel Jayson wielding viola and melodica; jojo the Burlesque Poetess making magic on uke and flute; Matt Zappa on percussion; Brother Bones on guitar; Mike Leggio with both stand-up and electric bass; and the legendary Mary Widow lending her vocals and mandolin. It’s a potent witches’ brew.

The Who’s “Baba O’Riley” is given a harsher modern industrial makeover, with male and female warrior vocals making this 47-year-old song seem starkly relevant. Powerful vocals and strings plus driving percussion adds immense tension to the disturbing lyrics of “Chaos & Confusion.” In “Bills, Bills, Bills,” the Army conjures a completely different song and mood, threatening serious damage and retribution. One can hardly expect to improve on Iggy Pop’s masterpiece, “The Passenger,” and in fact, I would normally cringe at the very thought of a cover of one of my Top 10 songs EVER. However, Mr. Sickert and Company do this song justice and are very faithful to the original and respectful of the Master. Rachel’s mournful gypsy viola is a gorgeous addition that I’m sure Jim would highly approve of.

At the risk of insulting hardcore fans, I won’t say which cover versions are, in my humble opinion, far superior in style and depth to the original. Several of them are. Run, don’t walk, to their Bandcamp page, name your price and download this eye-opening yet nostalgic and loving tribute. And be sure to click into each song’s page, so you can enjoy Walter’s mind-melting original art. They’re the perfect visuals for this magical mystery tour through our musical past.

Track Listing

Who We Are, from The Hunger Games: Catching Fire – Original Motion Picture – Imagine Dragons (2013)

The Toys Go Winding Down, from Frizzle Fry – Primus (1990)

The New Zero, from How We Quit the Forest – Rasputina (1998)

Baba O’Riley, from The Kids Are Alright – The Who (1971)

10538 Overture, from The Electric Light Orchestra – Electric Light Orchestra (1971)

Chaos & Confusion, from Space Age Senior Prom – Zerobot

Bills, Bills, Bills, from The Writing’s on the Wall – Destiny’s Child (1999)

The Passenger, from Lust for Life – Iggy Pop (1977)

Trip, from Wake No More – Porcelain

Don’t Come Around Here No More, from Southern Accents – Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers (1985)

Kingdoms & Castles, from The Triples – Abbie Barrett

Freaks, from Secret Samadhi – Live (1997)

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The Campaign Begins Now: Bees Deluxe and Flippin’ for the Blues


Here’s a wonderfully cool idea. Boston-based acid-blues band Bees Deluxe is taking their deep bluesy groove on the road to get out the vote and support Democratic (blue) candidates in their attempt to flip political districts from red to blue. They’re calling this noble cause Flippin’ for the Blues (get it?).

These guys are extremely soulful and accomplished musicians. Check them out.

First up is an event for NH-1 candidate for congress, Maura Sullivan. She’s a former Assistant Secretary of Veterans Affairs and senior Pentagon official in the Obama Administration, Marine Corps Veteran, and candidate for Congress in New Hampshire’s First District. This event takes place in Portsmouth, New Hampshire on Friday, August 31 at Cisco Brewery. From there, it’s Syracuse NY, Allentown PA, Harrisburg PA, Cleveland OH, Columbus OH and Albany NY for various local candidates. For more information and advance reservations, see the official website.


Help support this great cause — Donate To Their Kickstarter Campaign!

At the Portsmouth event, Bees Deluxe will be supported by the Jugghead Band, and after a few words from the candidate, the band will perform. Their set will include original songs from their new CD, Voice of Dog, along with their own interpretations of the music of B.B. King, Amy Winehouse, Billie Holiday, the Meters and other world class musicians. The band features Conrad Warre (lead guitar, vocals), Carol Band (keyboard), Allyn Dorr (bass) and Paul Giovine (drums).

If you like what you hear of Bees Deluxe, you can stream the new album on Spotify or purchase it from Amazon.

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Jason Ebbs Pays Homage to some Familiar Villains

Original photo by Ingrid Angulo

Original photo by Ingrid Angulo

Ah, the exuberance of youth! At the tender age of 20, Bostonian Jason Ebbs is already writing and singing rambunctious rock and cheery pop songs about feeling isolated and relationships gone wrong. On his debut EP, Familiar Villains, there’s a grungy garage tune with a bit of experimentation (“Stone in the Road”), dreamy indie-pop (“First Trip to the Ocean” and “Atlantic Pathfinder”) and charmingly folksy storytelling (“Average Joe”). But a standout track, in all its goofiness, is “Please Have a Seat (on a Cactus).” For a ‘she done me wrong’ song, it’s a pretty funny one.

You don’t have any moon rocks to hold yourself down
I’m hanging up on Mars but you’re stuck on the ground
I’m in the mountains of Saturn looking down at your face
While you’re crying in the desert cause you left me in space
I know it’s all an act
Cause you treat all our fights like it’s practice
So please, have a seat on a cactus

Ebbs is a Northeastern University student and independent artist who has been making music for more than 10 years (9 or 10 years old? not too shabby). He’s inspired by the classic rock and psychedelic music of the ’60s and ’70s, which he blends with modern styles and sensibilities. He started releasing music in November of last year and the EP came out in mid-May.

Familiar Villains (is this a pointed reference to old girlfriends? I wonder…) can be streamed on Spotify or listened to and purchased (name your own price) on bandcamp.

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Miele Explores the Human Condition and Offers Sweet, Flowing, Therapeutic Sustenance


Music, for me, has always been therapeutic, a way to cut through unpleasant, undefinable emotions to get at the underlying truth of a situation and be more in touch with myself. Boston’s Miele likely understands this on a deeper level than most, since the band is entirely made up of mental health and special education professionals. Their music focuses heavily on mental health themes, such as in “Anxious Ghost,” a single from their upcoming Kickstarter-funded debut full-length album, Transience (out June 22). The song was first premiered at Sound of Boston.

“Anxious Ghost” begins at a frenetic pace and varies between edgy nervous energy and slow yet tightly-wound moodiness. It is the perfect musical expression of an anxiety attack, and feels like both a raging battle and an exploration of the darker mysteries of human existence. The ghost is one’s anxiety that haunts the spirit and lingers inside.

Miele formed in 2014, when therapist, keyboardist and lead vocalist Melissa Lee Nilles met fellow therapist and guitarist Joseph Spilsbury in graduate school. Miele, Italian for honey, is an appropriate name for the band, both as an apt description for Nilles’ velvety, supple vocals — and because the band is known for drinking the yummy substance from the stage. Their fans even bring them treats.

Musically, the band is beholden to no singular style, but instead they honor wherever the personality of the song takes them. At times, it’s hard-driving rock with propulsive drums and electric guitar; at other times, the music is slow and dark, melodic and mysterious, with gently picked guitar and piano trickling like a meandering stream. Nilles’ vocals travel effortlessly through their many moods — frantic and biting, forceful and determined, melancholy and dreamy, exotic and magical. It is one wild ride through the ebbs and flows of human experience.

The complexity, depth and fast-changing moods of the songs on this ambitious first album makes perfect sense for people who work closely with human emotions. Besides which, any band that has a song titled “Klonopin Automatons” (a standout track in a sea of discoveries) instantly has my heart. They describes the inspiration behind their album thusly:

As a unifying artistic vision for the album, Transience aims to explore the passing of ephemeral experiences such as anxiety, dreams, love affairs, travel, connection, existence, and the creative process.

The band has played Boston-area venues such as the Middle East Downstairs, ONCE Lounge and The Plough and Stars, and they’ve received airplay on WMFO, WAAF, WEMF and elsewhere. They’ve also gotten some attention from WBUR, The Boston Globe and Cambridge Day, in their efforts to save Cambridge rehearsal space EMF from closure.

Miele celebrates the release of their debut album on June 22 at The Burren, along with other female-fronted bands Man Trouble and Boketto The Wolf.

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Ouch! The I Want You Gets All Beat Up


Have you ever felt that life just keeps punching you in the face? Jim Gerdeman of the Boston band The I Want You knows that feeling well. Their new song “All Beat Up” was written as part of the annual RPM Challenge that has artists writing and recording an entire album in the month of February. The video portrays singer/songwriter Jim Gerdeman getting the sh*t kicked out of him. But no worries, kids, this was an entirely artistic and not physical brawl, conceived and directed by the band’s 8-string bassist and producer Blake Girndt (who is also a member of Walter Sickert and the Army of Broken Toys. The video features some very realistic and disturbing “makeup” from violence artiste JoJo Lazar (also of the Broken Toys). It’s upsetting to watch, but as the protagonist readily admits, it’s his own fault.

As Gerdeman explains,

In a world of so much conflict and social media hosility I think it’s easier than ever to feel beat up by it all. But for me personally I tend to beat myself up worst of all and it’s impossible to get a restraining order on oneself.

The latest incarnation of The I Want You includes Gerdeman on vocals, Girdnt on 8-string bass, Jeff Norcross(Weisstronauts, Betty Goo, Paula Kelley) on guitar and drummer Chris Walsh(Speedfossil, Bittter Bastids). They’ll be releasing more singles and videos in the coming months. You can see their other inventive videos on YouTube.

You’ll find the “All Beat Up” single on Bandcamp, along with two interesting B-sides. “Come On’ was inspired by the Marjory Stoneman Douglas students in Florida and their gun control activism, while “The Rise and Fall” is a very clever tribute to David Bowie. It’s a comprehensive biography in song that encorporates elements of his life, music and stylistic phases. Very nicely done, boys.

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Maxwell Bailey — Love and Music in the Face of Hate

Maxwell Bailey

photo by Brandon Keith

Think of Maxwell Bailey’s smooth-as-silk falsetto vocals and gentle, loving guitar picking as a soothing balm against all the hate and sadness of today’s world. In “Melody,” a song from his soon-to-be-released In Between Live EP, he contemplates what can be done to fight against the endless waves of violence, hatred and intolerance. He finds his answer in his music, which he sees as an expression of his love that he tries to send out into the world.

“What type of melody can encapsulate the enmity, pity and pain we feel? How can a word be sung and spoken in love translate to medicate our wounds?”
— Melody

I wrote this song in response to America’s issue with hate. After dozens of mass shootings, incidents of police brutality, terrorist attacks and the general negligence of the less fortunate that we’ve all seen in this country, it can be hard to feel like anything an individual can say or do will have any sort of lasting positive effect. I’m a songwriter, but what good is a song in the face such tragedies? After months of writer’s block at the time, I penned these lyrics in search for an answer to this question. Through the songwriting process, the answer I came up with was, of course, in the form of more questions: ‘When we wave our lights and sway, what does it fix today? Does it make us feel inside? Help us feel alive?’ Life is a complicated web of cyclical emotions. Some good. Some bad. Many indifferent. What I found out from writing this song is that there’s good and bad in all of us. Every perspective sheds unique light on situations. Perhaps, that’s something we all can rally around. Sometimes, at least for me, confusion is comforting. We don’t know the answers, but pushing love out into the world can’t hurt.

Bailey is a Boston-based artist who sees himself as more of a communicator than just a musician, with songwriting as an outlet and a way to connect with other people. His EP was filmed live at an AirBnB in Roxbury. It’s folky, jazzy and soulful, with articulate lyrics, in search of some answers for life’s most difficult problems. Above all, how do we stay in a place of serenity, with chaos all around us, so that we can radiate positive feelings out into the world?

In addition to being a singer songwriter and guitarist, Bailey is also an MC and music promoter. He hosts weekly open mic nights every Sunday at 6B Lounge on Beacon Street in Boston, and the Noise Floor Sessions concert series at various Boston area venues. Focused on showcasing local musicians, Noise Floor Sessions has a six-month residency at Aeronaut Allston (and various pop-up Allston locations).

On June 20, they’ll be hosting Jakals, Caleb Gore and Maxwell Bailey’s EP release party. To keep apprised of future sessions, sign up to be put on the mailing list.

The In Between Live EP will be released on Spotify on June 15.

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Introducing… The Northeastern Railroads


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

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