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Revocation resounds on self-titled album

Posted by Scott McLennan July 30, 2013 12:25 PM


Revocation has long been a gem in the heavy-metal underground, first cathcing on in its Boston hometown then drawing a national following; it was no accident that Relapse Records picked up the band once Revocation found its sound with the independently produced "Empire of the Obscene" the group's first full-length recorded by guys who had started working together eight years earlier in an entirely different metal vein and under a different name.

Revocation's new self-titled album_ its fourth full-length_ is due out Tuesday, Aug. 6, and is another purposeful step toward greater acclaim and distinct character. As for the acclaim part, there is no messing with Revocation's sound, driven in large part by Dave Davidson's fierce guitar work that runs from elegant to lacerating. And for character building, "Revocation" shows the band stitching together elements of thrash, tech, and death for a sound not beholden to any one sub-genre of metal nor forced into trying to embrace every sub-genre of metal.

The songs never get too proggy (none of the 10 songs hits the six-minute mark), though each track flaunts blistering guitar work, maybe tucked into a bridge ("Arch Fiend") or tacked onto as an extended outro ("The Gift You Gave"), but there nonetheless.

The band also sounds like it is having a raging good time, taking down religious hypocrites with "Scattering the Flock," lambasting the 1% with "Entombed by Wealth," and letting loose a blast of enviro-metal with "Fracked."

Don't worry, Revocation isn't on a soap box. There are plenty of plain ol' weirdo songs too such as the maniacally paced "The Hive" and alien ode "The Visitation" (and there's a nice flash of humor when a banjo riff pops up for a few seconds in the battle cry "Invidious").
Revocation will play Saturday at the Palladium and release its new album Tuesday

Founding drummer Phil Dubois-Coyne is a relentless engine of double-time beats, but skilled at shaking up the rhythms through different transitions within and between songs. Second guitarist Dan Gargiulo, who came on board in 2010, adds sonic depth to the record, a role he developed through the band's live work. The new album is the first for bassist Brett Bamberger, who provides a subtle link between the guitarists and drummer.

"Revocation" arrives just as the band takes part in the Summer Slaughter tour headlined by Dillinger Escape Plan. That package arrives at the Palladium in Worcester on Saturday.

Here are a few tracks to get you pumped up for the show and the album's drop

Kingsley Flood Newport bound

Posted by Scott McLennan July 25, 2013 12:23 PM

Just a reminder that Boston-bred Kingsley Flood is the first act on the main stage Friday at the Newport Folk Festival. The band will be on at 2:30 p.m., preceding Old Crow Medicine Show, Feist, and J.D. McPherson at Fort Adams State Park (and this is the only day of the fest with tix still available).

Kingsley Flood will be recording a session for Paste magazine while at Newport. The band's busy summer then wends up to Lowell where Kingsley Food opens for Josh Ritter on Aug. 17 at Boarding House Park.

Above is the very un-summery video that Kingsley Flood made for "Sigh A While," which made its debut on the NPR music site. Good stuff all around for these guys and gal.

Fixed Bayonets put punk into pub rock

Posted by Scott McLennan July 24, 2013 11:48 AM

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Fixed Bayonets combines punk honesty with a rock and soul sound. The band plays Friday at Church in Boston.

A haircut and a presidential debate had a lot to do with Fixed Bayonets' arrival on the Boston music scene last year.

It all began when Mike O'Brien went for a trim and Matt Charette was the barber. At the time, O'Brien was winding down his tenure as the guitarist in Murder Mile, and Charette was wrapping up his work with the Scrapes.

"We talked about music and getting together to write some music," O'Brien recalls, mentioning that he and Charette hadn't played together in the past, but just knew each other in passing.

The two veterans of the local punk and hard-core circuit reached out to other musicians and the band formed with Glen Cancelleire on bass, Max Toste on drums, Isaac Sussman on keys, and Zach Uncles on pedal steel guitar joining O'Brien and Charette.

As the instrumentation itself suggests, the band was looking beyond the compact dynamics of punk rock. But the songs this group is making still use the raw and blunt language of punk rock, and the band sounds more passionate than pretty on the first batch of tunes it recorded.

"We want to connect honestly with people," O'Brien says. "I feel bad for kids today who listen to all that auto-tuned music."

Naming the new band was at first proving a problem.

"All of the names we thought of were taken when we checked them out," O'Brien says.

Then during one of the debates between Mitt Romney and Barack Obama during last year's presidential campaign, inspiration struck O'Brien when the two candidates began sparring over defense spending.

"Obama had that line about there being a lot less bayonets today, and I immediately texted the guys. Bayonets was taken as a band name, but we searched around and found 'Fixed Bayonets,' a 1950s movie with James Dean," O'Brien explains (it was actually Dean's first film appearance) .

The songs that Fixed Bayonets recorded thus far show the band tapping soul and country influences for a concoction it is calling pub rock 'n' roll. Sussman's keyboard and organ work is prominent in the mix, giving Fixed Bayonets a distinct, rich sound,

"For Mom" is a blanket apology to all mothers, while "21 Guns" is a rebellious, rollicking anthem, and "Beginning of the End" is full of misfit ache. The songs are fleshed out and demand some listening attention, not just some mosh action.

"I think this is just a natural progression for me and Matt having come up through punk rock and wanting to keep some of that in the music," O'Brien says. "By accident, we can play our instruments a little better now,"

Fixed Bayonets is playing best it can on Friday, July 26, at Church, 69 Kilmarnock St., Boston. The show begins at 8 p.m. and features Goddamn Draculas, Never Got Caught, Cradle to the Grave, and Dumptruck.

Chucklehead's funky reunion

Posted by Scott McLennan July 23, 2013 12:50 PM

Members of the Chucklehead family, from left, Brian Gottesman, Huck Bennett, Meyer Statham, Eben "Eb-Tide" Levy, Mick Demopolous, and Erik "Erock" Attkisson (Photo by David Rengel)

Chucklehead isn't calling its first shows in 16 years a band reunion, but instead a funk family reunion. That's because everyone who played in Boston's wild funk-meets-hip-hop troupe during its original run from 1988 to 1997 will be on board for the Chucklehead shows happening Friday at the Beachcomber in Wellfleet and Saturday at the Middle East in Cambridge.

The reunion concerts will feature Eben "Eb-Tide" Levy on guitar, Brian Gottesman on vocals and keys, Meyer Statham on vocals and trombone, Erik "Erock" Attkinsson on drums, Huck Bennett on vocals and baritone sax and percussion, Mick Demopolous and Dave Rengel on bass, John "Scooter" Schachter on vocals and trumpet, Lenny E Len the Pirate King on tenor sax, and Robert "Biscuits" Nahf III on alto sax.

For some of these musicians it will be the first time sharing the stage, and the reunion is pulling in players who have since scattered from Boston to New Mexico, Georgia, California, New Jersey, and Maine.

But regardless of which lineup of the band a member belonged to or where he comes from now, there is an overriding Chucklehead ideal to abide by.

"I think it's why we have such a loyal following. We were playing funk and hip-hop live, and we were doing it while grunge was ruling the scene," says Levy when he and Gottesman were reached by phone while heading back from a rehearsal over the weekend. "People were shocked to see kids rapping and playing live drums. This was all before the Roots and bands like that caught on."

Chucklehead was known for its showmanship as well as for its musicality. The band stole a page from P-Funk and wore outlandish costumes on stage, creating a look that matched its irreverence.

"We were either 15 years too early or 15 years too late," Levy says.

In its time, Chucklehead released three albums and developed a reputation for its live shows that attracted followers from a then-fledgling jam-band scene. Chucklehead's creative style and obvious playing chops earned it a spot opening for Phish on New Year's Eve in 1990 at Boston's World Trade Center.

"We were playing long-form songs and our own brand of freak-out music," Levy says (and a lot of it can be heard on archived soundboard tapes).

Another memorable moment from Chucklehead's heyday occurred when a cease and desist letter arrived from Pillsbury demanding the band stop making T shirts with the Doughboy posed in a manner that Gottesman says the baked-goods company found objectionable.

"We did a gig with KRS-One at Brown (University) and the next night he was on the 'Arsenio Hall Show' and all of his dancers were wearing the shirts of the Doughboy grabbing his business," Gottesman recalls, noting that it didn't take long for an angry letter to arrive from the Doughboy's handlers.

Gottesman also reports a smooth transition back into the Chucklehead catalog.

"When it comes to the rhythms, we've picked up right where we left off," he says.

And even though a lot of the music was made in the moment, Gottesman says those archived concert recordings have come in handy for checking out various arrangements any one song underwent.

Levy calls this weekend's shows an "experiment," one that may pave the way for continued Chucklehead music.

"What would our older selves be doing in this idiom, writing new songs and re-interpreting the older ones?" he asks. "It's an excellent way to have a midlife crisis."

The "crisis" begins at 8 p.m. Friday, July 26, at the Beachcomber in Wellfleet, and resumes at 8 p.m. Saturday the 27th at the Middle East downstairs in Cambridge.

Here are a couple of reminders of Chucklehead's Boston Music Award-winning sound:

Malick returns with Luxury Wafers crew

Posted by Scott McLennan July 18, 2013 04:51 PM

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Peter Malick, left, seen here with drummer Butch Norton, is the voice of experience at Luxury Wafers, a record label promoting new talent and independent-minded music.

The last time that guitarist Peter Malick played in the Boston area, the Brookline native was at the original House of Blues in Harvard Square introducing a bright, young, and then-unknown talent by the name of Norah Jones to his audience.

Malick, who for several years has lived in Southern California, is hoping to bring his old hometown crowd ahead of the curve once again as he presents Courtney Jones (no relation to Norah) and Spencer Livingston in concerts Sunday at the Wonder Bar in Allston and Monday at Club Passim in Cambridge. Malick and drummer Butch Norton plus bassist Jon Ossman are also part of the package tour traveling around New England and New York this month.

Jones and Livingston just released albums on the Luxury Wafers record label that Malick started with his wife, Landry. The music-minded couple launched the label after Peter's last recording studio was taken by eminent domain to make way for a new school in Los Angeles. Malick and his wife first started recording and videoing musicians who they enjoyed, using their home studio and posting the performances on a blog, which evolved into the Luxury Wafers record label.

"I like writing songs, playing guitar, and producing records, so this has been an education," says Malick, who got his start in the late 1960s playing guitar in a band with Willie Alexander. "It's been grateful, the response this has been getting."

Malick was a teen when he started playing a revived "Bosstown sound" brand of rock, then gravitated toward the blues. He became a member of John Lee Hooker's East Coast band and played guitar in the original James Montgomery Band when it signed to Capricorn Records. Fast forward to the '90s, and Malick was leading his own band and doing production work. In 2000, Malick moved to New York City and met Norah Jones, whom joined his group and appears on the album "New York City."

The reputation Malick earned for ushering Jones along attracted singer Courtney Jones to him.

C. Jones says that she and Malick wrote a song every day in preparing her album "All the Things That Fall."

"I took a collection of songs that made sense as a gut feeling," Jones says of piecing together her new album.

She credits Malick for shaking up the piano-driven sound of the debut record she put out two years ago, resulting in an album that builds on that base with a fuller sonic spectrum.

"Peter would play chord on guitar or a loop on the computer that I'd like, and I'd say, 'Wait!' and start working off of that. It was like you see on the detective shows when someone is cracking a safe and turning the dial until they hear a click," she says.

"All the Things That Fall" is an assured set of songs that offers up crisp observations with a smooth delivery. Songs span the allegorical "Cathedral" to the wry "Afterthought."

"I'm not heavy-handed. That's not my personality," she says. "If you want to listen to this album in the background, you can, and it will sound good. But if you want to dig deeper, there are layers to uncover."
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Courtney Jones

Saying that her music has sometimes been called too pop for a songwriter's project and too songwriter-y for a pop project, Jones is a perfect candidate for Luxury Wafers' independent spirit.

Jones' record came out on July 16, the same day Luxury Wafers released Spencer Livingston's "Grow," which is heavier on the twang and roots rock by comparison. The label also recently put out Malick and drummer Butch Norton's experimental instrumental album "Duets From the Spin Dry Cycle."

Jones, Livingston and Malick had a few joint songwriting sessions to suss out their compatibility as tour mates. Happy with the results, the Luxury Wafers road show will be at the Wonder Bar, 186 Harvard Ave., Allston on Sunday, July 21. Music starts around 8 p.m. Then the Luxury Wafers crew crosses the river for a show at 8 p.m. Monday the 22nd at Club Passim, 47 Palmer St., Cambridge.

"We're breaking the old model," says Malick. "There are more opportunities, though less money. That separates out the people who got into it to balance a spreadsheet."

Jazzing up the Bard

Posted by Scott McLennan July 15, 2013 02:41 PM

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The Shakespearean Jazz Show on stage last spring at the Cutler Majestic Theater. (Tripp Clemens photo)

To beat, or not to beat.

A horn, a horn. My kingdom for a horn.

OK, I'll stop, and assure you that the Shakespearean Jazz Show will have a far more sophisticated twist than the above when it merges traditional New Orleans jazz and various Shakespearean passages during performances July 18 and 19 at the Paramount Center in Boston.

The Shakespearean Jazz Show is a tale of two cities (OK, now I'll stop). First there is New Orleans, where the show's main creator Alex Ates was born and raised. Before he became a student at Emerson College, Ates learned a few things back home while acting in a Shakespeare company and absorbing the jazz created in his hometown's French Quarter.

"There was a frustration with the Shakespeare I was performing not being relevant to a contemporary audience," Ates recalls. "Then I'd go to the French Quarter, and the musicians were working in a tradition, pretty much playing the exact same songs each time they performed, but it was always energetic and exciting and connecting with people. How do you get that kind of excitement with Shakespeare's texts?"

It was a question Ates carried with him into his junior year of college when he was on the board of Emerson's Shakespeare company and under a bit of pressure to come up with a performance idea.

A case of homesickness probably never paid off so well for a student.

"I just decided to put Shakespeare's text with the New Orleans jazz," he says.

What he found is that the music lets the words simply fly. He also found that Shakespeare's lyrical writing fit into a musical model quite nicely, so there was no real tweaking of the sonnet verses and dramatic lines used in the performance.

The theater-arts major enlisted musical collaborator Patrick Greeley to compose music. The performance ensemble grew to include musicians, dancers, actors, and puppeteers. Ates and Greeley reached across town to Berklee College of Music to fill out the ranks of the so-called Nine Worthies (a name taken from "Love's Labour's Lost").

As the project has grown and solidified, Ates says he could not be more pleased with the integration of the jazz musicians and theatrical team.

"I think we're redefining each discipline by using the other," he says of the music and theater collaboration that isn't really traditional musical theater.

The Shakespearean Jazz Show made its debut in the basement of an Emerson dorm in Dec. 2011. And since then, made its way to bigger stages in Boston and into a Shakespeare festival in New Orleans.

The Shakespearean Jazz Show is back home for shows at 8 p.m. Thursday and Friday at the Paramount, 559 Washington St., Boston. You can order tickets from the the Shakespearean Jazz Show's web site.

And like jazz itself, the Shakespearean Jazz Show is never the same twice.

"Our attitude is that anything is fair game," Ates says. "A huge component of jazz is improvisation, and we've adopted that philosophy. We can tinker because we trust each other."

To that end, you'll see every member of the ensemble_ the musicians, the dancers, the actors, the tech crew_ on stage all the time for every performance.

While Ates graduated in May, much of the 15-person ensemble is still in Boston and attending school, so the future for Shakespearean Jazz Show is still tied to a schedule of studies, finals, and the like.

But what Ates does know is that Shakespeare can be sprung from the academic trappings the student-turned-producer first found the Bard.

"In New Orleans, the music on the street is being made for the people," he says. "In theater, 'populist' is a negative for some reason. But in this case, it makes the text engaging."

Dead Boots kicks off tour in Cambridge

Posted by Scott McLennan July 11, 2013 01:42 PM

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Dead Boots is, from left, Ben Tileston, Tony Perry, Adrian Perry, and Lou Jannetty. The band's new album is out July 16.

The Beatles didn't start with "Sgt. Pepper's;" the band got there over time with each previous album leading up to the masterpiece.

It's a point that Adrian Perry makes in a conversation about his band Dead Boots and its new album "Verónica." Perry wasn't trying to put his band on par with the Beatles, but instead explaining how bands mature and evolve, creating new sounds without forsaking old ones.

And that's pretty much what is happening on "Verónica." Before this album, Dead Boots made three full-lengths under the name TAB the Band, which came together in 2006. In the beginning, the Boston-by-way-of-Duxbury band consisted of brothers Adrian and Tony Perry on bass and guitar, respectively, and Ben Tileston on drums. With each project, the group moved a bit further from the crunchy blues rock of its earliest work, absorbing more power-pop influences you can trace back to Cheap Trick and the Kinks, as well as a bit of garage-rock tumble and glam-rock swagger.

"Verónica" also fully incorporates rhythm guitar player Lou Jannetty into the band, so in many ways it just seemed time to shake off the "Tony-Adrian-Ben" monicker and recast the group as Dead Boots.

Dead Boots releases "Verónica" on July 16 via iTunes and pretty much anywhere else albums can be downloaded. The band begins a tour to promote the new record on Saturday, July 13, at the Middle East, 472 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge. Rachel Taylor, the Rationales, Blackboard Nails, and Midnight Spin are also on the bill. Doors open at 8 p.m. and the $10 admission includes a download code for "Verónica."

As is usually noted in any coverage of the Perry brothers, it is now time to mention that their dad is Joe Perry of Aerosmith. And to the brothers' credit, they have been very good about not riding his coattails or fleeing from his shadow.

Tony says Joe will pop in and listen to new tracks out of genuine interest, but doesn't meddle.

"I think he's just more interested in seeing what his kids are doing. He does help more in teaching us about all the background stuff that goes on in the music business, but I wouldn't call him a stage mom," Tony says.

And in Papa Joe's eyes, the kids must be alright. "Verónica" is a smart and infectious record that comes out on the frenetic blast of "On the Rocks" and "Saturdays." Those and a handful of other uptempo rockers match smooth pop passages with rougher, punkier points of contrast.

Around mid-point on the 13-track set, Dead Boots offers up "I Believe in Love," and the songs following that take on a broader sweep and in some cases a darker tone. The progression is subtle, setting up the melancholy ballad "Love Without a Fall" and artful finale "Bullfighter" (a song Adrian calls the moral center of the album).

"We started out playing for fun, and it was simple blues rock," Adrian says. "This record retains some of that, but now we can pull off more serious and more sophisticated stuff . We just couldn't have written 'Bullfighter' on our first record."

And by "serious" and "sophisticated" Adrian means clever and textured; there's nothing on "Verónica" you'd call forced or stuffy. Tony handles a lot of the studio production, combining vintage gear_ which he claims forces you to play a certain way_ with modern technology to cook up a sound that is contemporary but also aware of its roots.

Check out the current single "Saturdays" to hear what I mean:

Dave Alpert's mostly acoustic 'World'

Posted by Scott McLennan July 9, 2013 10:37 AM


Dave Alpert may have stripped down his sound on the 6-song "My World" E.P., but there's nothing really "light" about the project.

Credit Alpert's blunt honesty_ whether telling you how he feels or describing a scene_ for giving "My World" its heft.

The title track opens the record on a prickly note as Alpert catalogs a fistful of stereotypes in a manner that shows how easily "my world" can become isolated from the real world.

Alpert doesn't brood long, though, shifting gears into the fun mandolin-and-banjo spiced "Postwoman." Move over Lovey Rita, Alpert has found a new public servant to desire.

"Shuffles the Clown" is the record's other character piece, and in this one Alpert tells the tale of a bullied kid who grows up to become the guy who makes other people laugh, wrapping it all in a bittersweet tone.

Alpert takes on a more personal tone with "That's Why I've Got to Leave," "A Long Long Way," and "Find My Way Back To You." In each case you can hear how Alpert subtly shades his work. "That's Why I've Got to Leave" has the saddest resolve, while "Find My Way Back to You" leaks optimism despite similarly dire romantic straits.

Alpert's earnest tone is burnished by an all-star cast of players that includes Sean Staples on mandolin, Steve Mayone on guitar, James Rohr on keys, Eric Royer on banjo, Dan Kellar on violin, Lou Ulrich on bass, both Chris Anzalone and Andy Plaisted on drums, and Kay McKinstry on back-up vocals.

Alpert and his live band (bassist Chuck Vath, guitarist Mike Castellana, drummer Anzalone, and mandolinist Staples) celebrate the release of "My World" with a show Thursday, July 11, at Atwood's Tavern, 877 Cambridge St., Cambridge. The music gets going around 10 p.m. and The Wild Sea is also on the bill. The $5 admission includes a download code for "My World." If you can't hit the show, you can check out the record on Alpert's Bandcamp site.

Here's "That's Why I've Got to Leave"

Say hello to This Blue Heaven's 'Juliet'

Posted by Scott McLennan July 8, 2013 06:33 PM

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This Blue Heaven returns with new music. The band_ from left, Travis Richter, MacKenzie Outlund, Stu Dietz, and Aaron Rosenthal_ will be at Brighton Music Hall on Saturday. (Photo by Bethany Krevat)

"Goodbye Juliet" isn't just the first of four singles that This Blue Heaven is releasing over the next couple of months; it is the first piece in a puzzle the indie-pop band devised in the three years since releasing "Spinning and Shining."

And after speaking with keyboard player Aaron Rosenthal and singer/lyricist MacKenzie Outlund, this puzzle is even bigger than we first imagined.

"Goodbye Juliet," available starting July 9 via This Blue Heaven's Bandcamp page, is the first of four tunes comprising an E.P. whose full title is " still the tulips wave goodbye Juliet into the hurricane." And in total there will be four E.P.s, each with four songs, each song title fitting together into a cohesive line, each line a piece of a short narrative once all assembled.

"It has been fun for me, shameless word-nerd that I am, to play with the lyrics and song titles in ways that relate and bind the songs together," Outlund says via email.

The 16-song cycle relays the tale of a journey, but Outlund says that the particulars worked themselves out in the creative process rather than arriving as a fleshed-out idea.

"The most crucial thing doesn't seem to be writing lyrics or music first, but finding a way to connect with that mysterious creative source, which I think of as 'the blue,'" she says, noting how on "Goodbye Juliet" she matched poetic lyrics that originally came to her while walking across the Mass Ave. bridge with a chorus and melody line cooked up by guitarist Stu Dietz.

The completed puzzle will also contain more than lyrical links, as musical motifs spill from one song to the next.

The new song is also This Blue Heaven's overt pivot from upbeat indie pop to epic pop, where songs have a darker tone and there's a bit more complexity in the delivery.

Underscoring that point, This Blue Heaven brought in the Borromeo String Quartet, an ensemble-in-residence at the New England Conservatory, to play on the four-song suite "Goodbye Juliet" is part of. "On "Goodbye Juliet," you hear the quartet's work subtly woven into the fabric of the song, lifting Outlund's vocals as the song soars toward a finale.

Borromeo Quartet's viola player Mai Motobuchi and Rosenthal are married, and this is the first time the two have recorded together.

"They are like family. It was so difficult to get them on this record because they are so busy, but it was like a dream come true," says Rosenthal, who is a composer by training and finally brought that experience into his rock work. "They were such a good fit because the quartet is always exploring and trying new creative outlets."

Borromeo Quartet's presence also helped This Blue Heaven shift away from the "toe-tapping" earlier songs.

"We created an identity that we're not leaving behind, but evolving from," he says. "We kept a lot of the style and added to it. It's all still pretty melodic, and you can tap your toe to most of it."

This Blue Heaven celebrates the release of "Goodbye Juliet" Saturday, July 13, at Brighton Music Hall, 158 Brighton Ave., Allston. The Motion Sick (which includes This Blue Heaven drummer Travis Richter) is reuniting that night for its first show in three years. Parks, Michael J. Epstein Memorial Library, and Wash Pool are also playing (basically bands the Motion Sick seeded with members).

This may be the first time I've seen such a thought-out concept released in such small bits. But the cinematic sweep of "Goodbye Juliet" is certainly an intriguing start to the process.

"In this day and age, nobody is buying records," Rosenthal says. "With this puzzle idea, I hope people can appreciate one piece at a time."

Awesome Day in (where else but) Allston

Posted by Scott McLennan July 3, 2013 02:04 PM

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Tired Old Bones_ from left Glenn Smith, Bridget Nault, Jesse Sherman, and Neal Johnson_ is intimately tied to Awesome Day (Photo by David Ward)

It's a cookout. It's a concert. It's Awesome Day.

Now in its fourth year at O'Brien's at 3 Harvard Ave. in Allston, Awesome Day is happening Saturday, July 6, its first summer-time running after three spring jaunts.

Why the move?

"That was the first open date when I called the club to book it in February," explains Jesse Sherman. It's a matter-of-fact explanation that echoes the simple design at the heart of Awesome Day; really, could there be a simpler name for an 11-band show that includes food with the price of admission?

Sherman was working at O'Brien's at the time his band Tired Old Bones knew it would need to take a break after the birth of singer and keyboard player Bridget Nault's first child. In planning for one big show with all of the bands Tired Old Bones wanted to play with, Sherman decided that it was insane not to utilize O'Brien's patio and grill that were typically idle.

"The original grill was a 55-gallon drum cut in half with a fire-escape grate on it. Now there's a real grill and some chairs out there," says Sherman, who now works at Great Scott in addition to playing drums in Tired Old Bones and bass in Never Got Caught.

And thus a tradition was born, one that Sherman tends to as an organizer, promoter, meat buyer, and chef.

And in keeping with the tradition, Awesome Day presents all styles of music. Jim Healey of Black Thai will open Awesome Day at 4 p.m. with his solo material. Then following with a succession of 30-minute sets are Lunglust, Spectre Hawk, No Fun, Tired Old Bones, Eldridge Rodriguez, Z*L, Hey Zeus (whose Ken Cmar makes a grilled meat loaf that has become part of the Awesome Day legend), Goddamn Draculas, Cult 45, and the Humanoids. Approximate set times are online here.

Tired Old Bones, which didn't play the fest last year, is not only back in the lineup but also touting the vinyl pressing of its "Which Way is Home?/ Throw Stones" single

Releasing the single was not so awesome at times. First the band scotched the original recordings it made of the songs. Once satisfied with the quaking, vintage rock tone ultimately crafted for the tunes, Tired Old Bones sent the tracks out for pressing.

"The first test pressing we got back wasn't our band. The second one was done at the wrong speed," Sherman says. "It was a comedy of errors. A symphony of errors."

That behind Tired Old Bones, the band is mapping out a full-length release and working at guitarist Glenn Smith's studio.

The deal with Awesome Day is that ten bucks gets you the tunes and whatever is available on the grill (Sherman says he even stocks a few veggie burgers).

Awesome Day sparked a trend, as Boston Bloghead organized an Aug. 4 Punk 'N' Roll BBQ at O'Brien's. And hey look, Tired Old Bones is on that bill too, maybe becoming Boston's first BBQ go-to rock band.

Sweet mysteries on Speedy Ortiz album

Posted by Scott McLennan July 1, 2013 03:41 PM


Sadie Dupuis sings sweetly on the new Speedy Ortiz album, "Major Arcana," her gentle, calm tone belying the tumult in her poetic lyrics and serving as a contrast to the band's serrated music.

Based in Northampton, Speedy Ortiz makes a brand of artful noise pop that caught on around Boston and sparked a single and EP last year. The 10-song "Major Arcana" lets the band roam even more, accentuating a lighter touch on "No Below" and full-blown chaos on "MKVI."

Typically, though, the songs are not just one thing. Instead, Speedy Ortiz_ rounded out by guitarist Matt Robidoux, bassist Darl Fern, and drummer Mike Falcone_ favors dynamic shifts and turns over smooth, straight-ahead deliveries. On "Tiger Tank," for instance, the music comes crashing in before receding into a hypnotic riff that slowly turns maniacal _appropriate accompaniment to Dupuis' dark lines ("I don't care if they take my legs; I've limped before, I can limp again").

"Cash Cab" is a hectic and knotty; "Plough" is slender and wobbly.


Speedy Ortiz (Shawn Brackbill photo)

But all these different textures still rely on a decent devotion to squalling guitar rock of the sort Dinosaur Jr, Pavement, and Helium deployed in previous waves of indie rock. The burly and banged-up tone suits Dupuis' lyrics, which, while never direct narrative, are vivid and haunting.

It may take a few listens to catch all of the details she weaves into a song, but Dupuis does manage at least one neon line that you immediately notice in a song and becomes its hook. Maybe it's the deadpan delivery of "I've still got plasma coming through" or the steely "You picked a virgin over me," something will inevitably present itself as bait to go deeper into the intrigue Speedy Ortiz crafts across "Major Arcana."

The record is out July 9 on Carpark Records, and Speedy Ortiz is playing a release show Saturday, July 6, at Great Scott, 1222 Commonwealth Ave., Allston. The show is at 9 p.m. and also features Grass is Green, and the Vegans.

Here a couple of tracks off of "Major Arcana":

About the author

Scott McLennan is a Boston Globe music correspondent and previously wrote a music and entertainment column for the Worcester Telegram & Gazette for 15 years. After seeing the band Boston in the Boston Garden as a teenager he never looked back and eventually figured out how to be a professional fan. Scott is very good at writing in the dark. This blog is an ongoing discussion about music happening in and around Boston. Scott will be leading the trek across genres looking for new releases and hot shows as well as just checking in with the people who make Boston such a great place to listen. More »

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