Hey, new music from the Pixies arrived today, the latest in a wave of news that began when bassist Kim Deal announced this month that she was leaving the band. You hear Deal on the funky new one, "Bagboy." Check it out:
Ramming Speed has been grinding it out_ literally_ since 2007, packaging together lacerating drum beats and vocals with flashy guitar parts into compact punk-sized songs. Heavyweight metal label Prosthetic Records caught on to the Boston quintet, and this week released "Doomed to Destroy, Destined to Die," the band's second full-length.
Though unorthodox, Ramming Speed sounds nothing but confident on "Doomed to Destroy, Destined to Die," offering up a relentless assault through 13 tracks covered in about 35 minutes.
The album's title track gets things going and serves as a pretty good harbinger of things to come. A brooding guitar intro quickly snaps into a maniacal gallop atop which singer Peter Gallagher howls and rasps. It's best not to focus too intently on what Gallagher is saying at the expense of missing everything else going on around him; let it suffice to catch a phrase here, a word there while marveling at the knotted vocal melody.
You could actually say the same for any one component of "Doomed to Destroy, Destined to Die" as the record presents best as a whole. The overall tone_ from the aggressiveness of each track down to the song titles ("Anticipating Failure," "Anthems of Despair," "Cretins and Cowards")_ is not open to interpretation; welcome to mean, brutal, and ugly.
But Ramming Speed does build nuance into the record. Guitarists Kallen Bliss and Blake Chuffskin generate a blizzard of thrash riffs and wiry solos. Because the songs thrive on chaos, it's typical to hear a mournful solo lapse into a spastic one, as happens for a nice contrast on "Minister of Truth." You even get a bit of acoustic guitar on "Hollow Giants," but it's more spooky and rickety than pretty.
The band's wrecking ball ferocity is strongest on "Grinding Dissent," easily the feel-doomed hit of the summer so far. Check it out, followed by the likewise grim "Dead Flags":
Just some stuff to get off my chest before heading out to see Come at the Sinclair:
- If you're not checking out Come tonight, consider going to Brighton Music Hall, 158 Brighton Ave., Allston, where Joe Fletcher and the Wrong Reasons, Tallahassee, and Coyote Kolb are playing a fund-raiser for David Lamb of Brown Bird. Lamb was recently diagnosed with leukemia, and shows such as the one happening tonight are popping up to help the musician cover the costs of his treatment. Show time is 9 p.m.
- The first time I met Parlour Bells' front man Glenn di Benedetto he was wearing a disheveled tux and make-up. Claims he was making a music video. Uh-huh. We'll see if that's true with the promised premier of Parlour Bells' cinematic take on "Bachelor Hours" from its album "Thank God for the Night." The video debut happens Friday, June 28, during the Pill dance party at Great Scott, 1222 Commonwealth Ave., Allston. Word on the Interwebs is that the video will screen sometime between 11 p.m. midnight.
- Our pals at Vanyaland have a good story on TT the Bear's' decision to scotch tomorrow's sold-out show with Cold Cave because of controversial opener Boyd Rice. To paraphrase Jake Blues, I hate California Nazis. Check out Vanyaland's story here http://www.vanyaland.com/
TT the Bear's subsequently issued this statement on Facebook:
I helped pull this show together after TT’s cancelled Friday night’s Cold Cave/Boyd Rice show. I’ve seen a lot of support for the decision to cancel, but I’ve certainly also seen a lot of complaints and outrage. That is understandable, people who were excited to see Cold Cave are disappointed and upset. Without going into every boring detail, I will say this: TT’s has been owned for 40 years by a woman, and most of the bar staff are women. Even if that wasn’t the case, for me personally, after doing a bit of research, Boyd Rice isn’t the type of person I want to see performing on that stage. Cold Cave was given the opportunity to play without him, but refused.
I’ve seen more than a few people crying censorship or blathering about freedom of speech. I certainly believe that anyone is free to say whatever they’d like, but freedom of speech is not freedom from consequence. No one is guaranteed a stage and a microphone; no venue is required by the First Amendment to open their doors to any performer for any reason, that’s not how it works. As for the comments that he’s a provocative artist who is provoking a reaction by saying shocking things - yes, he is, and the response he provoked is a cancelled show. Boyd Rice is free to perform at any venue that will have him.
So instead of Cold Cave/Boyd Rice, TT the Bear’s will be hosting a hastily thrown together bill featuring The Luxury, Do Not Forsake Me Oh My Darling, and Cult 45. The cover will be pay what you can, with all proceeds benefitting Rosie’s Place, a sanctuary for poor and homeless women. I’ll sleep fine at night knowing that I can look my female friends and coworkers in the eye.
Even eternal punk rockers the Ramones evolved (a little) across their recorded output, a point Lenny Lashley makes when talking about his new album "Illuminator."
On "Illuminator," Lashley covers more ground than he did when singing and playing guitar in Boston's slash-and-burn punk troupe Darkbuster. The new album, out this week via Pirates Press Records and Panic State Records, is a mix of punched-up rockers, contemplative ballads, and wistful memories.
"It's natural to progress as a musician," Lashley says. "Before, I never a wrote a song that was longer than two minutes and thirty seconds. Now I'm letting the songs breathe and go longer."
"Illuminator" follows a three-song 7-inch that introduced Lenny Lashley's Gang of One. The project was intended to be a singer-songwriter vehicle, but then the music simply grew as Lashley's gang did. Pete Steinkopf of the Bouncing Souls produced the 7-inch and the LP, and played guitar and keys on both. Bouncing Souls bassist Bryan Keinlen and Mighty Mighty Bosstones drummer Joe Sirois also played on the three-song and full-length, with "Illuminator" also drawing additional firepower, such as Bouncing Souls drummer Michael McDermott.
"At first I was doing a record with just me on guitar. Then me being the guy I am started adding here and there," Lashley says.
The whole journey to "Illuminator" has taken more than two years, but it does sound like Lashley has arrived to a point as a writer where he doesn't need to fall back on the raw energy and pranks of Darkbuster.
In turning inward, Lashley delivers songs that touch on a range of subjects spanning youthful hooliganism to the afterlife. "Kingston Rocker" starts the record, springing from Lashley's South Shore hometown (with wry references to the Clash's days in Kingston, Jamaica) and reflects on the singer's own fall and rise. In "White Man," Lashley, who suffered a breakdown while on tour in Europe in 2008, weaves a tale of collapse infused with punk-rock iconography. It's all sharp interplay between the personal and the bigger punk universe.
The origins of "Illuminator" can be heard in "Happily," an acoustic song with a country lope that details a broke down relationship. "U.S. Mail" is the other relationship song, this one a full-blown rocker and a bit more hopeful.
"Illuminator's" acoustic underpinnings also come through on "Anti-Christmas," a dour holiday tale Lashley has performed during a Mighty Mighty Bosstones Hometown Throwdown and says was meant to be in the vein of the Kinks' "Father Christmas."
"It's a sad song, and I know some people don't want to hear sad songs, but not everything is always happy," Lashley says.
"Heaven's Gate" is a stark ballad about, well, the meaning of life.
"I played around with that one arrangement wise, but it's something everybody can relate to, that fear of what happens when you're dead. I know it goes through my head," Lashley says.
Lashley wrote the the freewheeling "Hooligans" in the studio, which is something he has never done before. He had the lyrics about growing up a punk rocker in Boston mapped out, but cooked up the music during discussions with McDermott.
And even though he says the tongue-in-cheek humor of Darkbuster is what he used to trade in, you can't help but appreciate it popping up for a minute on the closing track "Re-Covering."
Lashley is assembling a band for a CD-release show slated for July 12 at the Middle East, 472 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, with the Have Nots, the Scrapes, and Mung.
And then it's off to Europe with the Street Dogs, as Lashley recently signed on to play guitar with those fellow Boston-bred punks. When the Street Dogs return, Lashley will look for more opportunities to play Gang of One shows, which he's done on punk bills and at roots-rock shows.
"I'll take it wherever they want to hear it," he says.
Here's a sample of "Illuminator," which is up on iTunes or can be ordered through Pirates Press at http://www.piratespressrecords.com/
Experimentation and pop music are hardly the peanut butter and jelly of music. When the tuneful turn curious, sometimes you get the Beatles' "Revolver" (and the crowd goes crazy), sometimes you get the Monkees' "Head" (the crowd thinks band has gone crazy).
The Wandas "New Interface (A Design with Friends for the Future)," which comes out Tuesday, June 25, and is streaming here now, is experimentation done right, as the band's more artistic forays add depth and intrigue to the sound without sacrificing the band's core of solid song craft.
"Some of these songs were played for the first time as a band while we were working in the studio. I think the results are pretty cool and a little more arty," says singer, guitarist, and keyboard player Keith McEachern. And when the follow-up, "Well, how do you not get too arty in the process?" comes up, McEachern replies, "Our roots are in regular rock."
"Regular," though, sounds too tepid; even the Wandas' previous self-titled album that came out two years ago was notable for the freewheeling spirit of the songs. The Wandas all along have created interesting bridges, linking roots music to anthem rock to chamber pop, and so on.
The biggest shift from "Wandas" to "New Interface" is probably the band's willingness to leave more to the listener's imagination. The dreamscape element is strongest on the album's opening and closing numbers, "New Interface" and "My Mourning," respectively. The journey between those two points is likewise full of interesting contours.
"Killer Heart" and "Good Feeling," for instance, conjure Crazy Horse, for completely different and not-so-obvious reasons. The band's generally chill mood turns explosive_ but only for a moment_ with the eruptions of a guitar solo on "Mad Man." One of the first pieces of music the band put out from the project was "Hood River Blues," an effervescent instrumental. Check out the tunes for yourself now (though don't stop reading):
McEachern, guitarist Brent Battey, and bassist Ross Lucivero hopped onto a conference call to discuss the making and release of "New Interface" as well as the band's show Thursday at TT the Bear's.
It was last year after a three-month tour (one of many over the last couple of years) that McEachern and Battey started writing a few tunes, eying the release of a four-song EP.
But more ideas than expected started to surface, and the band ran with it. Instead of thinking about the finished product and planning out each song's sound and arrangement_ which is what the Wandas did for the self-titled album_ the band took its time and tinkered, letting producer Joel Ford help guide the process.
"The last record was done in six days because of all the pre-production we did. This time, we took the opportunity to work on the songs right in the studio. It was very liberating," McEachern says.
Without necessarily following a hard-and-fast plan, "New Interface" ended up with nice flourishes, such as Lucivero's bass work on "Davy Jones' Locher."
"I knew I wanted a bass solo in the song, but just told Ross, 'Do what you do,' rather than writing it out" Battey says.
The Wandas said a lot of ideas just fly around while the whole band is traveling together; a poem may turn into lyrics, or the sights they see may inspire a tune, as was the case with the Hood River in Oregon. And while the herding of those ideas sounds like it was pretty chaotic, the finished product does have a sleek design. That short acoustic number "Velvet Dream," for instance, is the record's de facto "end of side 1."
The Wandas also beefed up their live shows with impressionistic videos played during the band's performance.
"We just started putting videos behind us as we played, and then added lights and a smoke machine," Battey says. "It really worked."
The sound is also fuller as William Bierce moved from drummer to additional guitarist, making room for drummer Greg Settino to join the band.
The Wandas will have this full-on show June 27 at TT the Bear's, 10 Brookline St., Cambridge. Doors open at 8:30 p.m. and Slowdim and Boom Said Thunder are also playing.
The allure of visuals has also prompted the Wandas to release two music videos thus far, one for "Mad Man" and one for "Davy Jones' Locher." Take a look:
I think we're seeing a trend here. Let's hope the Wandas keep 'em coming.
The Wandas new album will be available at https://itunes.apple.com/us/artist/the-wandas/id125445016.
And to the band's doings are online at www.thewandas.com.
Listening to ii nub's "Gradients" feels like eavesdropping on someone else's dream. The music is both easy to grasp and richly layered with subtle use of guitar and drum loops, field recordings, synths, and electronic beats.
"We try to make music that transports you, that lets your imagination take you where it wants to," says Sean Carroll.
Carroll and Luis Fraire formed ii nub (that's pronounced "eye" "eye" nub, rhymes with rub) about three years ago when their other band, Pandas, went on hiatus.
The duo took a monthly gig at a music club in Worcester, which prompted Carroll and Fraire to start crafting new material.
"We just started playing with ideas," Carroll says. "If we found a guitar loop or a synth line that we liked, we'd keep it and build on that."
Carroll and Fraire also kept the visual element that was part of the Pandas' shows in their work as ii nub.
When ii nub performs Sunday at Lily Pad in Cambridge, impressionist videos created for the 15 tracks on "Gradients" will be on display as Carroll tends to his baritone guitar and its effects and Fraire controls the keys and triggers the loops and samples.
"Being an instrumental band with a cinematic feel, we just thought it was important to have the videos be part of the live show," Fraire says.
The CD "Gradients" likewise links visuals to sound, as the cover features 15 snapshots that correspond to each track, though whatever meaning ii nub attaches to each pairing is more cryptic than literal.
The album has three distinct sections, each one tied up by a composition titled "Knots." Each of the "Knots" is identical in length and bears the same melody, though each is presented with different instrumentation or sonic timbre. Carroll says he got the triptych idea from Andy Warhol portraits.
"I saw three identical pictures of Mao Tse-Tung, though each was done with a different color," Carroll says.
Even though the music has an ethereal quality to it, the mood and structure are held together by design. Fraire and Carroll will play "Gradients" in its entirety, careful to include all of its layers, even when a songs pull together 20 or 30 individual tracks.
"We're presenting it as a whole original composition," Fraire says, adding that with ii nub he and Carroll have found a way to bridge the experimental with the accessible. "We keep it not too demanding. It's a pleasant listening experience and certainly a little more focused than things we've done before."
ii nub is performing at 7 p.m. Sunday, June 23, at Lily Pad, 1353 Cambridge St., Cambridge. The show begins at 7 p.m. Here is a recently completed video for the "Gradients" song "Wrong #"
The Boston metal trio Scourge jumps in the blender on its new 8-song album, "Clarity." And while the band uses prog, thrash, and death-metal influences across the album, it also manages to stay relentlessly grim, so there's never a feeling that Scourge is bouncing around or unfocused.
Of course there may be times you wished you could escape the dark clouds that immediately gather on the instrumental opener "Moment of Impending Doom" and set the album's mood.
Guitarist Jeremy Pastrick and bassist Jon Huntley inevitably push songs into dark, downward spirals. Their shared vocals are raw and brutal throughout, recounting all manner of misery and torment.
There's more than one way to get to hell on "Clarity." "I Will Burn" shifts between quicker blasts of thrash and lumbering doses of doom. The towering riffs that launch "To the Gallows" use power metal to provide dynamic contrast for the dirge-summoning vocals.
Pastrick takes his flashiest solo on "Awakened Through Death," but for the most part works in lockstep groove with Huntley and drummer Nate MacMillen. MacMillen's rapid-fire delivery adds an element of chaos to the proceedings.
The 7-1/2-minute "Crowned' is the album's centerpiece, bringing the ache and pain of "Clarity" to full boil. But rather than dwell, the band follows "Crowned" with the hardcore-influenced number "Without Mercy."
Despite the diversity at play here, Scourge knew what it is was doing in naming this collection of songs "Clarity" as a big picture emerges from the maelstrom.
Scourge is playing a CD-release show Thursday, June 20, at TT the Bear's, 10 Brookline St., Cambridge. Tester, Forevers' Fallen Grace, and Seren are also on the bill. Show time is 8:30 p.m.
Here's "I Will Burn" from "Clarity"
The musicians in Full Tang know their way around a world beat. They all played in the Fela Kuti-inspired Superpowers band, and two are active in the Debo Band, whose music is grounded in Ethiopian pop.
But unlike the 11-member sprawls of the Superpowers and Debo Band, Full Tang is a four-piece, and as such is a bit more nimble and able to make dynamic pivots the larger bands would have more difficulty pulling of.
"We can do things that get a little more noisy, like 'Pre/Post,'" says Full Tang guitarist Ryan Dugre, referring to the lead-off track on the band's debut CD "Intangible."
Dugre and his band mates_ Adam Clark, Danilo Henriquez, and Eric Lane_ released "Intangible" late last year but didn't have an opportunity to push the record like they wanted to, and if any record deserves a second look, "Intangible" is it.
The music moves from the aforementioned rockier terrain of "Pre/Post" into the psychedelic swirl of "Purple Sky." An icy touch of prog shapes "Baktun 13"; there is a jazzy approach to a cover of "Sleep Walk" ; and the band's reggae influence blossoms fullest on Ansell Collins' "Nuclear Weapon."
Clark doubles on bass and percussion, Lane on keys and sax, and Henriquez on drums ad trumpet, so there is a lot of seat changing during a show to capture the tones and textures of the recorded material, Dugre says.
And you'll get a chance to see that for yourself on Thursday, June 20, when Full Tang returns to the the Middle East in Cambridge. People's Champs, Brother Sam Slideshow, and Ultratumba are also playing. The music starts at 8:30 p.m., and the Middle East is at 472 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge.
Full Tang took shape after Superpowers dissolved in 2010. Dugre says the quartet delved more deeply into contemporary Zimbabwean music_ learning the guitar-picking style that emulates the traditional thumb piano, for instance_ and layered on other rock influences from outside the Afro-pop world.
"I guess it's hard to say what it is exactly, which hasn't helped," Dugre says. "But as a listener, you'll be hearing a lot of different styles brought together."
The band members honed their sound while living together in Roxbury, and three still do, while Dugre recently moved to New York City. While Henriquez and Clark_ Full Tang's main songwriters_ still play in Debo Band, Dugre says Full Tang has been able to keep working on new songs and may start a new round of recordings in August.
People's Champs is also an offshoot from the Superpowers, though its new single "Humanity" underscores the new outfit's soul influences. And Brother Sam Slideshow is a more pop-oriented duo.
Dugre says Full Tang likes mixing up its shows, as happy to play with garage rock and lo-fi acts as with other Afro-pop bands.
"We enjoy all kinds of music," he says.
And you can't help but notice that listening to "Intangible."
Here are a couple of tracks from the album:
The solitary songwriter is no myth based on the life of Brian Wilson. Pull back the curtain on some of the great indie pop coming out of Boston, and there stands the writer, often the one constant in a revolving cast of musicians bringing the songs to life on records and at shows.
Musician and journalist Jonathan Donaldson is luring some of his fellow pop-smiths out of the woodshed for a unique gathering Friday, June 14, at the Lizard Lounge in Cambridge. Corin Ashley, Scott Janovitz, Emeen Zarookian, and Brian E. King will join Donaldson for three "rounds" of song swapping.
In the first round, the players will perform their songs on piano and acoustic guitar, with each artist taking a turn and maybe the others jumping in with a little accompaniment. Round two will feature duo performances, and for the finale, the five writers will be a band, playing their original songs and covers.
"It's great to hear any ideas," Janovitz says of working with this ad hoc group, which wasn't about to wing the "band" portion of the show and has had a rehearsal to better learn the collective repertoire. "I may hear a melody line or an arrangement idea, and that's really helpful."
And while the writers themselves act as sounding boards for each other, the audience should be able to get a sense of the diversity beneath Boston's broad indie-pop umbrella.
Janovitz's last album with the Russians, "Crashing the Party," had a strain of glam detachment in it. Donaldson's new work with the Nimbleines is pop with a psychedelic gleam. Zarookian's recent outings with Spirit Kid boast a crisp, cool sophistication. Ashley's recently released "New Lion Terraces" was partially recorded at Abbey Road studios in London and includes the single "Badfinger Bridge," which says a little about the direction the former Pills leader was heading in with this project. With the band Parks, King, formerly of Oranjuly, is working on a full-length album, and the first couple of songs released boast a big, open sound.
The influences coursing through the combined efforts of these writers are not surprising: the Beatles, Kinks, Big Star, Beach Boys, Posies, and so forth. But this is a crew smart about advancing the pop, not wading in it.
"There was a point where some in the pop scene were slavishly trying to recreate pop moments of the past," Janovitz says. "I think with this group, you're seeing people trying to do something new."
Zarookian is among those in this writers group working on a new album, so this song-swap will be a bit of a workshop for him. Like Janovitz, he looks forward to seeing what is to be gained by working with people who are not totally familiar with his work nor typical collaborators.
"In this situation, there can't be egos," Zarookian says. "Sometimes I have trouble teaching other people the parts to my songs. But in a situation like this do I worry about the intricacies of the original recording, or let someone bring their own thing to it? I think sometimes you can come up with something new and like it."
Zarookian's love of pop is longstanding; he cites Oldies 103 as the favorite radio station of his youth.
"I loved '50's rock and doo wop," he says. "Then in middle school, I discovered the Beatles, and since then just followed a natural progression through the '60s, '70s, '80s, and 90's. I do like everything. I'll listen to metal and electronic music and find value in it."
Watching these artists break down their songs and recast them in fresh settings may provide some insight into how songwriters spin ideas and influences into tunes that seem to easily sweep us up (which is what at the very least you can count on hearing).
The music on Friday begins at 9 p.m. and the Lizard Lounge is at 1667 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge. Here's a little compilation of the participating artists' work:
Mass, from left, Joey "Vee" Vadala, Michael Palumbo, Louis St. August, and Gene D'Itria. The band is playing a benefit for Boston Marathon bombing victims on Sunday.
Please, it's no longer referred to as "hair metal."
"Melodic rock," is now the preferred term, says Louis St. August, singer for the band Mass.
No matter what we call it, what we're talking about is that sound born in the 1980s, when rock grew slick and showy. Bands were getting power ballads on the radio and playing screaming guitar solos in concert. MTV helped stoke the visual flash that was once the domain of a few bands, such as Kiss.
The Boston band Mass was in the thick of it, releasing "New Birth" on RCA Records in 1985 and landing a hit with "Do You Love Me." In 1988, Mass released "Voices in the Night," an album produced by Stryper's Michael Sweet that earned the band a Boston Music Award nomination for best metal album.
It was nothing but a good time; what could go wrong?
"Grunge killed melodic rock," St. August says. "It wiped out everything in America."
But not in Europe and Japan, where Mass kept its record deals and audiences and was able to ride out the storm before interest back home rekindled, restoring careers for the likes of Cinderella and L.A, Guns.
"Things really picked up four or five years ago after Rocklahoma started. When that festival was drawing 50,000 people a day, promoters realized there is an audience for this music," St. August says, referring to the Oklahoma music fest that started in 2007 and featured Poison, Ratt, and Twisted Sister as headliners.
Mass will be playing similar festivals in Colorado and Nebraska in October, as well as supporting L.A. Guns at a show in September (the band's schedule is online at www.massrocks.com).
"People were missing this music," he says. And without tweaking what it has been doing all along_ two ballads per album; a couple of mid-tempo songs, a couple of "pedal to the metal" guitar blowouts_ Mass is readying its seventh album for release next year.
"We all come from individual places in terms of what we like. We all grew up liking different kinds of music," St. August says of working with guitarist Gene D'Irtia, bassist Michael Palumbo, and drummer Joey "Vee" Vadala. "We're not heavy metal and we're not light metal either. Some of the metal today just sounds like screaming. Our era focuses on melody and lyrics."
Mass is headlining a benefit for victims of the Boston Marathon bombing on Sunday, June 9, at the Hard Rock Cafe in Boston The show begins at 2 p.m. and in addition to Mass features the ChickZ, Amanda McCarthy, Linda Veins, Aaron Norcross Jr. and the Old Dogs, Dookie Houser, the Joe Hart Band, GrandEvolution, Elizabeth Mitchell, and other guests. Tickets are $15 with proceeds going to America's Fund, a charity that supports members of the armed services and established a special fund for victims of the bombing.
Here's a Mass flashback to when MTV used to play music videos:
Closed Casket's new CD "Hell at Capacity" is, as you can imagine, grim; I mean, we just used the words "closed casket" and "hell" in the same sentence.
What isn't so predictable from appearances is the particular blend of influences in this Boston band's work. Everything from old-school thrash, to glorious power metal, to scabby black metal, to sludgy doom, to even a little punk rock bubbles up as the disc's 15 tracks move along.
Closed Casket has a CD-release show Friday, June 7, at the Midway Cafe, 3496 Washington St., Jamaica Plain. The show starts at 8 p.m. and also features Soul Remnants, Dark Was the Night, and Mortuorium.
The album's lead-off track "Pentacle Pentagram" appropriates a prog-rock intro before lurching into the song's aggressive drive. "The Challenge" follows, compressing the dynamics into a tight knot of music. The title track gallops along with riffs and rhythms that Judas Priest fans will dig, but delivers them a little quicker than the old guard typically does, and atop all that, singer Chico barks along to a choppy melody line learned at the Slayer Academy. And from there, "Ride With Us" swerves into a doom-tinged landscape.
Closed Casket started in 2004, and bassist Alx explains that each lineup change seemed to bring a new menu of influences. Drummer Sam Casket and guitarist Dan Pardi go back to the band's earliest "horror metal" days. Alx, who joined in 2008 and is also a member of Barren Oak, says he brought black metal and death metal influences to the group, and the addition of guitarist Dan McGrath amped-up the band's modern power-metal sound
Sam Casket says the band scrapped a CD it was working on once Alx and McGrath joined and started from scratch on "Hell at Capacity" to best capture what he describes as a "unique style of metal."
While the band offers up a good deal of sonic diversity, thematically the record has a distinct comfort zone, which isn't really all that comfortable. Songs trade in demonic tales and general societal decay.
After its show Friday, Closed Casket has an October date in Salem (go figure) and is trying to set up and East Coast tour.
Here's a little sample from "Hell at Capacity":
"Come Inside," the second album from Future Carnivores, is full of deception. Those breezy, easy melodies make the music at first feel gauzy and light. But the songs ultimately throb with dark undertones. "The Drugs She Fed You Last Night," for instance, blurs the normal and the debauched. Likewise, the title track is at once inviting and then bitten by angst.
The idea of things not being what they at first seem takes root in the very sound of the music. Clever arrangements layer on the work of two percussionists, busy bass lines, atmospheric keys, and textured guitar parts without making any of the songs feel cluttered.
Singers Bo Barringer and Noell Dorsey intertwine their elongated phrasings into a stylistic thread that runs through the album. Around them, the music moves and shifts like a movie camera swinging from one abstract scene to the next. Sometimes the focus is tight, as in "Grey House," where small details reflect larger problems. Other songs take a wide-angle approach, such as "Twice," which rushes headlong through a mistake-riddled romance.
The album bridges the icy detachment of electronic music with the lushness of chamber pop without lingering in either camp. Instead, the band builds a nice little world of its own design.
Future Carnivores celebrate the release of "Come Inside" with a show Thursday, June 6, at TT the Bear's, 10 Brookline St., Cambridge. Soft Pyramids, Velah, and Milling Gowns are also playing, with the show starting at 8 p.m.
The Ducky Boys are back, broken-hearted but hardly broken. "Dead End Streets," out June 4, opens with three straight shots of bitterness best captured in the line "There's nothing about you I like," all seemingly spurred by love gone horribly wrong.
Of the great street-punk bands that blossomed in Boston in the mid '90s, the Ducky Boys always seemed the ones most willing to make it personal, and that trend carries into its sixth full-length album, and third overall release since regrouping in 2011 after a second hiatus. And like its predecessors, "Dead End Streets" has plenty of fight (and humor) in the mix as well.
The band still embraces punk brevity, knocking out 15 songs in 34 minutes, but the Ducky Boys don't limit their sonic palette. The band is as apt to strum a song on acoustic guitar as it is ready to bash one out fully amped. A slinky organ underscores the blues tone of "The Time We're Given," and that pleasant reggae lilt in "The Advantage" adds an ironic twist to singer/songwriter/bassist Mark Lind's declaration that we're all dancing to that same old boring song.
Lind's confessional-pop leanings shape much of the sound on "Dead End Streets," though guitarist Doug Sullivan offers a fair amount of brash contrast with the tightly coiled and aggressive "Kick" and "The Gravest Generation" (even Sullivan's more contemplative offerings "Disappear" and "The Time We're Given" have a combative edge). Drummer Jason Messina and guitarist Rich Crimlisk complete the lineup.
The title track treads carefully, as in the Ducky universe, music is usually a cure-all, but here Lind opens up about the feelings of futility that a musician_ or any artists, really_ can feel when wondering who really cares. But you have to think the funk doesn't linger, as "Live Forever" and the album closer "'Til the Wheels Fall Off" are wholehearted celebrations of punk and DIY art.
Lind does such a good job capturing a moment in song you wonder how he gets tempted by the easy line on a couple of occasions: the ol' "But for the grace of God" bit in "Up Down and Wrong" and "We're all just human beings" from " 'Til the Wheels Fall Off" are uncharacteristically heavy-handed moments. But consider those minor blemishes in an otherwise sharply crafted package of songs that captures a spirit responsible for first sweeping these guys into music when they were teenagers without forcing them to sound like a bunch of 17-year-olds as they keep making music.
The Ducky Boys are playing Sunday, June 9, at the Middle East downstairs, 472 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge. Swingin' Utters, Goddamn Gallows, and the Welch Boys are also on the bill. Doors for this 18+ show open at 7:30 p.m.