Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Justin Vernon's Voice Stands Up Tall Outside Studio

Bon Iver performed last Friday, August 5th @ the Boston House of Blues. Biggest concern was that Justin Vernon's tenuous voice might be too gossamer to stand up on its own and carry the same characteristically raw tune. From the very first note of Perth, the opener, it was clear this fear was unjustified.

Bon Iver made their way through the majority of tracks off their new self-titled sophomore album, just grazing the first album, For Emma, Forever Ago. Cast in hazy blue lights, the band gave the spacious venue a predictably intimate feel. Accompanied by eight or nine (okay, admittedly, the PBRs were flowing) fellow bandmates, the sound was rich as a choir. This new rich sound is a noteworthy departure from the skeletally stripped down sound of the first album.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Bon Iver, Bon Iver: Definitely Not Broken Record

If his first full-length album For Emma, Forever Ago, was cyrogenically-frozen-blue, Bon Iver's second self-titled album is shimmering-gold. The album is quiescent wind chime meets full-throttle marching band in pregnant pauses and unexpected turns.
His 10-track sophomore album is bomb. Vernon has emerged from the heartbreak-hotel-cabin he holed himself up in to write For Emma three years ago and has released a beautiful album heralding renewal.
Released in late June (though iTunes OOPSed and released it a week earlier than it was slated to), highlights of the album include:
Perth (haunting opening guitar crescendos to Mickey Mouse wrastling broomsticks a la Fantastia)
Michicant (throwback to Jeff Buckley's merry-go-round tune in Je n'en connais pas la fin)
Wash. (lighthearted piano pinnacles)
Holocene (slowly growing momentum-turns-tempest)
Bon Iver will be lighting up Boston's House of Blues next Friday, August 5th. The show's been sold out for months. In a righteous move, they made it a will-call show only. This artist continually jaw-drops me with his coolness. I'm considering sleeping on the street like those crazy moms post-Christmas outside Walmart to get a spot front-and-center.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

On a Boat with DeerTick and Gem-of-an-Opener Aunt Martha

On Thursday, July 7th, a buddy of mine and I hopped aboard the Mass Bay Lines for the Rock On! Deertick Concert Cruise. This is a band that first grabbed my attention with their beautiful odyssey-like song These Old Shoes and poignant, gut-wrenching ballad Dirty Dishes. The former is an avowal to get to the singer's love at all costs. The latter is a eulogy to broken love that evokes nitty gritty imagery and sorrow a la Dire Straits Romeo & Juliet. The Providence-born band, which has evolved over the past 6 years, is spearheaded by John Mccauley, with a slingback-bourbon-voiced guitarist who is oddly hot with his hipster trimness and unapologetic fun-loving attitude. They've released three albums since their beginnings in 2004, the latest being the Black Dirt sessions, so dubbed because they recorded it in upstate-NY studio Black Dirt Studio.
As to be expected, DeerTick rocked hard, galvanizing the crowd with their raw energy and guitar work. BUT the highlight for the night was completely unexpected: Aunt Mother, their hands-down-just-bloody-talented opener. Check out some of their songs on their MySpace page (namely, Bloodshot). They've got an unbeatable lineup: violinist Brian Kim (this adds a dimension to the alt-country sound that was magical), unforgivably sick drummer Garret Leahy, and lead singer and guitarist, Tim Noyes, who every woman -- and more than likely man -- mentally disrobed at least once in the night. This is a band that I will be following. Forming in NYC with a diverse range of backgrounds, Aunt Martha has been together for a short two years, but have the lyrical prowess, dedication, talent, energy, and unique sound that bodes well for survival and success.
Check out their first self-released album from 2009 Candy Make and their highly-acclaimed EP Bloodshot released in early 2011. Pick up their 7-song free download of their Abandoned Bedroom Sessions after July 25th. Don't be too cool. It's free.
As for the concert -- get your ass on a boat in the harbor this summer for a concert. We drank myriad Coronas, watched the sun set from the harbor, and sweated and danced with the happiest people in town to amazing tunes. The only downfall was that no one covered I'm on a Boat. But whatever, we were, and we didn't need to be reminded.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Slain by Friendly Fires Sophomore Album Pala

UK dance psychedelic band Friendly Fires is set to release their sophomore album Pala this upcoming Tuesday, May 24th in the US (the Brits are surely already getting down to this with their earlier release this past Tuesday; alas Europe will always be cooler no matter how much tea we threw in the harbor).

The new album doesn’t disappoint: Lead vocals Ed Macfarlane is back with his spacey voice, Edd Gibson (guitarist) brings it with his same head-bobbing, foot-tapping riffs, and – my favorite element on the new album – Jack Savidge offers some drumlines that will amp your heart’s BPM. While the lyrics may not be the most profound, they’re certainly universally applicable.

The action item from their first, self-titled album was: Simon Says, 'Dance, dammit.' Without a doubt, the second album's command is the same, and is sure to catalyze some hot kinesthetics. “Blue Cassette” begins at an nostril-scrunchingly, skeptically slow pace but quickly opens up with a verifiable “This is my heart on fire!” chorus line that rocks. “Hawaiian Air” offers that high-energy drum beat and flies high with ethereal lyrics and sound. A distant-cousin-throwback to their first album, “Pull Me Back To Earth,” sounds more familiar in lyrics and beat, which is a welcome reminiscence.

The first single off the album “Live Those Days Tonight” recommends to listeners “Don’t hold back!” Our heads, shoulders, knees, and toes will be sure not to hold back from boogeying when Friendly Fires command the stage next Friday, May 27th @ the Paradise.

Pala streaming on Hype Machine

Great YouTube mix replete with live and studio recordings

Pop Wreckoning's 3-part Interview with FF Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

UK's Prized Foals = Best in Show

On Monday, May 2, when I headed to the 'dise to see the Naked and the Famous, Freelance Whales, and headliner Foals, the latter was the band I was least excited about. To me, they'd sounded a little flat in their two albums, Antidotes and Total Life Forever. If you've felt the same way listening to their tracks please do the following: Chuck, incinerate, destroy these preconceptions and get your ass out to their next show. The Foals are raw, wild, and jam harder and better than any band I've seen live in months. After pondering why they sound smaller on their albums than their true-larger-than life status, I've concluded they are so hot and SO good, it's impossible to contain them in an inanimate object like a CD or MP3 file. Hopefully their next album does justice to their true talent.

Opener Naked and the Famous didn't show up to open due to illness, but Freelance Whales seamlessly hopped on stage and gave the Foals a worthy opener. To the starstruck fan in the audience who shouted "I LOVE YOU" lead singer Judah Dadone replied a bashful and perfectly timed, "I really, really have ... strong feelings for you." They were a pleasure to watch, galvanizing the crowd from the first moment with their enthusiastic "Generator First Floor" a song peppered with a hot xylophone melody.

Despite the fact that, according to Dadone, it was their seventh time playing Boston in twelve months, Freelance Whales offered a fresh, mellifluous performance, punctuated with sick drumlines, vocals, accordion, and watering can (!?). Best picks of their set list include: The Great Estates, Ghosting, Broken Horse, and Hannah. Dadone revealed that after touring, the band's headed home to work on their second album (the first being Weathervanes). It's definitely one to wait for with bated breath.

After an, ahem, incredibly thorough sound check, the Foals took the stage. They exploded with "Blue Blood" to the delight of Foals zealots in the crowd. They played on early through technical difficulties with bassist Walter Gervers's guitar, following lead singer/guitarist Yannis Philippakis's no-big-deal suggestion, "Come on, let's just jam." It's rare for me to truly enjoy a long-ass jam, but their set was punctuated by these sporadic crescendoing sessions that I literally never wanted to end. I think we were all hoping there'd be some sort of Star Trek, Rip Van Winkle vortex that would suck us in where we'd listen to Philippakis's insane, kinesthetically unbelievable guitar rifts endlessly. The British, Oxford-formed band works effortlessly together and has a palpable, beating-heart energy. It helps that diminutive Philippakis is on the lunatic fringe, climbing into the lights to play during Spanish Sahara, flinging the microphone and its stand around stage, beating the big single drum on center-stage a la some sort of primal pyro-tradition song and dance. No one wanted the show to end, and truly my ears and soul are still ringing.

Key tracks include: Everything they played, but if I must be more specific: Spanish Sahara, Red Socks Pugie, and Olympic Airways. My three favorite moments of the show: Realizing the keyboardist was playing in polka-dotted socks without shoes, seeing a fan inconspicuously plucking and swigging one of the guitarist Jimmy Smith's un-touched Coronas off-stage, and witnessing Philippakis's entire Tasmanian Devil, seizure dance repertoire.

Freelance Whales
Doris Cellar (accordion, vocals, guitar)
Chuck Criss (keyboard, xylophone)
Judah Dadone (lead vocals, guitar)
Jacob Hyman (drums)
Kevin Read (guitar)

Yannis Philippakis (lead singer and guitarist, big drum player)
Jack Bevan (drummer)
Jimmy Smith (guitarist)
Edwin Congreve (keyboards)
Walter Gervers (bass)

Foals set list
Blue Blood
Olympic Airways
Total Life Forever
After Glow
Black Gold
Red Socks Pugie
Spanish Sahara

French Open
Two Sets Twice

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Submarines Ignite Brighton Music Hall on Tour Touting Newest Album Love Notes / Letter Bombs

The Submarines lit up (literally: see Christmas lights and star-spangled glitter cutouts) Brighton Music Hall on Monday, April 25th. They were ushered in by openers Yellowbirds - the alias of former Apollo Sunshine founding father Sam Cohen - and Nik Freitas, the latter whom has been touring with the Subs for the last two weeks.

Cohen demonstrated laudable prowess on his electric guitar and was backed up by solid drums and bass. I will definitely be checking out Yellowbirds' schedule around New England as he shows off his newest album, the Colors. Freitas strummed some sweet melodies on the guitar, but it was an abruptly mellow turn from Yellowbirds' bass-thumping beats.

Then, the Submarines popped on-stage in true indie, DIY style. Just minutes before they perform, beautiful bombshell and co-lead vocals Blake Hazard is happily stringing lights on stage like a little kid to a Christmas tree in winter. I think it's safe to say that the sparkling glitter stars on her xylophone, the lemon-shaped maraca, and Christmas lights are her additions to the set -- not the idea of her counterpart, guitarist, vocals, and husband, John Dragonetti.

It's been the best of times and the worst of times for this musical couple over the years, whose romance first ignited in, fancy that, the city of Boston. Their beautiful, fresh lyrics chronicle the twists and turns their relationship has taken over the years. Knowing this history, and listening live in a venue as intimate as BMH, invites you deep into the show and band.

The mix of professionalism and whimsicalness of the Subs was a perfect potion. Hazard was the spokesperson, wooing the crowd with excited comments and her sparkling personality. The drummer didn't stop smiling the entire time, nor did the bassist; Dragonetti kept it cool for the most part but was clearly happily rocking out. Their music is animated by unparalleled energy, amazing guitar work, and an unconventional use of xylophone and tambourine.

You, Me, and the Bourgouisie was the track that motivated me to go to Brighton to see them in the first place. I walked away with five new tracks that I'll be proselytizing to friends and family: Birds (great guitar intro by Dragonetti), Ivaloo (a street in Somerville friends of the band named their baby), The Thorny Thicket, Xavia, and 1940.

To Hazard's seeming dismay, a fan in the crowd begged for the aforementioned song 1940 during the encore. After a moment of indecision, the band acquiesced. The tone of the song was strikingly different; darker and bass-ier, wholly seductive with its gloomier undertones. The song, though Hazard was principally reluctant to sing it, showed off the dimensions and passion of her voice in a way that hadn't been manifest before. It's a throwback to darker times, conjuring images of bootlegging moonshine in the night, or catching a voyeur outside your window. Hot.

Lastly, as part of a tribute to their newest album, love, and conflict, the Submarines are carrying a box where audience members, after the show, can pick up a note paper entitled "Love Note" or "Letter Bomb" and write a note to their "favorite enemy." These notes will wind up somewhere on the Facebook.

During the show, Hazard said they've had to learn how to say "We are the Submarines" in Spanish and French during this latest tour. "But here we are at home, and we're the motherfuckin' Submarines!" she cried happily. No matter how you say it, the Submarines rock.

Set list:
Peace and Hate
Swimming Pool (a song about love in the city, according to Hazard)
Tigers (SO much energy)
Ivaloo (named after a street in Somerville)
Brighter Discontent (Hazard soloed this for the most part)
The Thorny Thicket
You, Me & the Bourgeoisie
The Sun Shines at Night


Saturday, April 23, 2011

Bon Iver's Self-Titled Album to Release in the US June 21

Lead singer for Bon Iver, Justin Vernon, is a prophet. His music reaches great heights in his sporadic soprano and plumbs great depths with haunting guitar riffs, unexpected melodies, and eviscerating lyrics on love and loss.

A Wisconsin native, during his teens and college years, Vernon formed the bands Mount Vernon and DeYarmond Edison (Vernon's two middle names) with friends in Eau Claire. Meeting success in Wisconsin, the band headed for Raleigh where they released two albums, but eventually parted ways after five years of playing together. That break-up, alongside Vernon's break-up with a girlfriend, catalyzed Vernon's 3-month hibernation in a log cabin in Wisconsin, during which time he churned out For Emma, Forever Ago. Listen to this stripped-down, haunting album and you will understand why the world has turned purple in the face holding our breaths for the next album from Bon Iver. Not to be overlooked, Bon Iver's EP Blood Bank, released in 2009 with four tracks, was beautiful but far too brief.

After collaborating with Kanye West on My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, releasing two albums as Justin Vernon Self-Record and Hazelton, and myriad other side projects, Bon Iver's label Jagjaguwar is set to release the band's second full-length album Bon Iver on June 21. If you can't wait, take that trip to Europe you've been pondering so you can get it a day earlier ... I might.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Lord, I'm a Fool for an Old School Freight Train

Looking for Ben Harper on Grooveshark during work the other day, I stumbled upon Old School Freight Train, a seismic, otherworldly bluegrass band that has literally left me with an unquenchable thirst for more. Alas, this band is the J.D. Salinger of the Interweb, and seems to have disappeared circa 2006 with their last album Six Years. I seek in nooks and crannies for the last droplet of information in the canteen and come up parched.

Things we know:
The band formed in 2003 in Charlottesville, VA.
The lead vocalist and guitarist's name was Jesse Harper.
They may have toured with Josh Ritter, which makes them 700 times cooler than they are already.
They covered Ben Harper and Coldplay in CMH's Pickin' On series.
And. The band is the smoothest fucking bottle rocket of bluegrass I've ever heard.

The Pickin' On series was an idea drummed up by CMH Records's David Haerle (son to co-founder Martin Haerle) where bluegrass bands paid tribute to well-established rock, pop, and country groups. But, contrary to the series' name, there's no heckling or noogies -- it's pure idolatry to the musicians and bands they riff on. How can a cover take you to a new place? you ask. It's a cover -- it's recycling, rehashing. The answer is OSFT, who cover Ben Harper and Coldplay better than Ben Harper and Coldplay could cover themselves, and in a sixth dimension -- another realm. The melodies are larger than life and crescendo up and down like a catarata; spine-tingling and mystical. These are instrumentals, I might add, which is even greater adversity training and deserves bigger props for the successfully beautiful sounds.

Once clicked, OSFT's official page (according to Wikipedia) brings you to a site with a big picture of marshmallows. So, where did you go Old School Freight Train? This girl wants to know. And also wants a smore.

For the real deal, go to and check out OSFT Pickin' On Series: Pickin' On Ben Harper. Tracks "The Woman in You" and "With my Own Two Hands" = divine.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Feel Like It's New Year's Every Day: Listen to Macklemore

Seattle mc Ben Haggerty, who goes by the moniker Macklemore, has got a special something, a sonorous centrifugal force that pulls you in to its beautiful, incisive orbit. This draw results from a combination of refreshingly honest lyrics, a frank willingness to reveal personal and intimate nooks and crannies, relatable storytelling, and unexpected turns in his tracks. If you were lucky enough to snag a ticket to his show this Wednesday, April 13 at the Brighton Music Hall in Boston, consider it your Willy Wonka golden ticket of spring 2011.

To explain the title of this post, New Year's Day is how I feel when I hear Irishman Macklemore's lyrics: It's time to make resolutions to be better, and to just be in a pure and beautifully present sense. It's like we're watching a crysallis break open and out comes Macklemore. And his songs make us feel like we can do it too -- that we can be the best version of ourselves. These realizations have not spontaneously generated in moments of cartoon-lightbulb-switched-on-over-the-head: Some have been hard-earned through tough bouts of substance abuse, an issue he chronicles in Otherside, meaningfully employing RHCP's same-titled track in the song.

Macklemore tackles tough themes like this with an uncharacteristic and unapologetic attitude. Produced by Ryan Lewis, "Wings" is a verbal tapestry woven with anti-consumerist threads through a cool and hypnotically riveting childhood story. The chorus of children singing in the song lend an eerie and poignant element that takes the song to a whole new level.

Irish Celebration, a track that's sure to be a winner with our ubiquitous McDonoughs and McVarishes in Boston next Wednesday, implores listeners to carpe diem the hell out of life and “Live tonight cause you can’t take it with ya.” It's a celebration of heritage, life, struggles overcome, and of course, a little beer and whiskey. We can dig that in Boston -- consider Brighton Music Hall your open-armed Ellis Island next Wednesday, Macklemore.

A few more tracks/video not to miss:
Download a few tunes from KEXP courtesy of NPR:

Friday, March 25, 2011

Cold War Kids Live: We're Dying for More Saint John

Some music junkies bitch about bands sounding the same way live as they do on their album. Some music junkies bitch about bands sounding completely differently than they do on their album. Me, I'm undecided.
I've been undecided since this past Tuesday, March 22, when I saw Cold War Kids at Boston's House of Blues. I wanted to come to a conclusion before posting but I just haven't. One thing I can say with swagger and veritas: Nathan Willet's voice is infallible and spine-tinglingly true to the sonorous timbre of his voice on CWK's albums. Is it a sad testimony to the state of today's music that we are SO overjoyed when we realize the same amazing voice we heard on the album can stand without the crutches and prosthetic limbs of studio "treatment", by itself, unaided on-stage? In any case it was a beautiful, auditory restoration of faith.
The band jumped onstage modestly and down to business after a quirky, engaging turntablist opener Baths (the latter who, despite having a deluge of a cold in his nostrils as evinced by his tissue usage, got the entire audience tapping their feet and jigging side to side with his energy, arm-flail dance, and sometimes aquatic, sometimes puerile, sometimes intergalactic mixing). CWK immediately drew the crowd in with their opener "Royal Blue," a dynamite stick of a song on the new album, Mine Is Yours, released in January 2011.
The quartet -- made up of Willet (lead vocals), Matt Maust (gangly bassist), Jonnie Russell (guitarist and vocals), and Matt Aveiro (drums) -- weaved their way without much ad-libbing through the next twenty or so songs on their set. Their set list drew mainly from Robbers and Cowards and their new album, while they shied away from many tracks off Loyalty to Loyalty.
The whole two hours passed by delightfully and far too fast. Aside from Maust's random and amusing karate-chop kicks to Willet's derriere along with his rhythmic wave-like dancing, the band stuck to the gig without drama, without much interaction with the crowd, and without much deviation to the way their tunes sound on their albums. But then. THEN came the encore. And it seemed like a back-stage mad scientist/shaman had given the band a musically virile potion to slurp down before coming back on stage.
They took a softer approach at first with Fashionable, then We Used to Vacation and, then, in the most artistic demonstration of Newton's Third Law of Motion I saw all night, they let loose with Saint John, a fantastic soul tune about poor "Old Saint John ... just waiting for a pardon" on death row. CWK got a little funky, a little edgy, and seemed to shake off a few extra layers they'd been wearing during the show. Infuse a little more of that funky, contents-of-Pandora-madness throughout the show and my ambivalence over the original quandary of this post melts away...

Baths. I didn't give Baths the proper credit above. The man was loveably gracious, and a true sound ringmaster to a high-flying range of beats and strands.
Animals -
Apologetic Shoulder Blades: (Trippy, fantastic, vocal kaleidoscope looping)

Cold War Kids Set List (Possibly Incomplete and Shuffled. My pen ran out halfway through.)
Royal Blue - (Live KCRW)
Finally Begin
Hang Me Up to Dry
Skip the Charades
Louder than Ever
Cold Toes on a Cold Floor
I've Seen Enough Video
Golden Gate Jumpers
Sensitive Kids
Audience - (Music Video)
Hospital Beds - (Live Reading 2007)
Flying Upside Down
We Used to Go on Vacation
Saint John - (Live: A Takeaway Show. Literally)

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Josh Ritter & the Royal City Band: A Welcome Tempest of Sound

Last night, Friday, February 11, 2011, Josh Ritter & the Royal City Band threw down at the House of Blues in Boston on Lansdowne Street. His opener, Scottish Scott Hutchison from Frightened Rabbit, admirably carried an empty stage with his broguish croons and playful banter. It's the first opener I've seen in a long time where the audience was actually plugged in and straining their ears to hear.

Luckily near the front of the stage, my friend and I caught glimpses of Ritter as the back-stage door swung open and shut with busy staff members taking care of last-minute gaffs. We were starstruck (embarrassingly and obviously so) by the omniscient radiance and eagerness scrawled on his sanguine face as he anticipated he and his band's arrival on-stage.

A colleague first introduced me to Josh Ritter through his song "The Temptation of Adam," a lyrically rich story of two lovers entangled in an apocalyptic romance permeated by war. Listening to much of his catalogue in anticipation of the show, I felt sure (and slightly ambivalent about the fact) that the concert would be relatively low-key -- serene guitar strumming and an audience dominated by the female population, aside from the few dudes dragged by their girlfriends for pending doom of Valentine's Day.

False: In terms of the crowd, it was heterogenous both in age and gender. And, though if asked I'm sure they'd deny it today, we spotted some testosterone-crazed frat boys rocking out pretty hard to Ritter's undeniably amorous lyrics. What's more, we were surrounded by folks in their 50s who knew the words to every song. In terms of the ambience: holy. shit. Ritter, true to form, did play some slower songs but, in general, it was an-stage conflagration. How could it not be with a front-man and band like that?

Ritter was sandwiched by Zack Hickman and Austin Nevins, two dependably fantastic guitarists. Hickman, a Salvador Dali doppleganger replete with the wild handlebar mustache, dabbles in guitar, bass, tuba, a little bit of vocal back-up, strings and god knows what else. A Somerville, MA native (what, what) Nevins kept it real with seriously impressive guitarwork, topped off by a regal black Lincoln-esque hat. Then we had Liam Hurley on the drums and Sam Kassirer on the piano, who provided a xylophonically rich backbone all night. Throw in a brilliant brass band that hopped on and off stage periodically, and the result was a show that mushroomclouded the roof off the House of Blues.

Ritter wove his way through beauties like "Cursed," "Harrisburg," and "Lantern." For me, though, the band hit their stride most profoundly through "Rattling Locks" and "Rumors." "Rattling Locks" is an incendiary mad scientist of a song. The band grabs their drumsticks and provides a backdrop of furiously tapping beats, the result an atomic fusion of both jarring and euphonious sound. Ritter goes from shining all American school boy to voyeur peering through a window on a dark and stormy with his ominous voice and sinister lyrics. "Rumors" was a rowdy and feet-stomping time, where the band worked together to create a tempest of irresistible noise, punctuated by the very-true platitude "The music's never loud enough!" to the felicity of the crowd (an f-word which Ritter repeatedly dropped throughout his dialogue, and general stage presence, at the show).

One of the most unique, and special aspects of the show was a little audience participation. In anticipation of this Valentine's Day Brawl tour, Ritter and the band invited fans and concertgoers to send in notes to be read on stage to loved ones. Twice during the show, one of the back-stage guys came out with a hatful of notes sent in, which Ritter read aloud to the amusement of the audience. Alternately hysterical, odd ("I love you like e-coli loves room-temperature beef"), and thoughtful, it embossed the experience as a day of tribute to love, friends and family (whether you're single or not!). Ritter waxed mosaics on the origin of Valetine's Day: men running naked through the streets with leather straps hitting the palms of pedestrian women, the union of Hera and Zeuss, and other possible origins.

In other highlights, the band flirted coquettishly with Talking Heads "Once in a Lifetime" (Same As It Ever Was), paid tribute to our prophetic Velvet Underground with "Pale Blue Eyes," and rounded out the show with "Kathleen," "Galahad" from his new b-side/unreleased LP To the Yet Unknowing World, an Everly Brothers cover "The Stories We Could Tell" with Hutchison, "To the Dogs or Whoever," and, in an ironic gesture in New England in February "Snow is Gone." The brawl continues tonight at NYC's Terminal 5.

You can stream all of Ritter's music on his homepage:

Saturday, January 22, 2011

A Twist with the Fist: Punch Brothers

String band Punch Brothers headlined Somerville Theatre in Davis Square Thursday, January 13th. The talented quintet is composed of Chris Thile [lead vocals, mandolin], Noam Pikelny [banjo], Gabe Witcher [violin], Paul Kowert [bass], and Chris Eldridge [guitar]. All five are, in their own right, vanguards on America’s bluegrass, folk and country scene, but together, they are a powerful, musical maelstrom. With two records under their belt, Punch and Antifogmatic [a term collaged by the band to signify a hard drink consumed at the start of a rough work day], the band is poised to successfully seduce America on their continuing tour.

In a word, pluck. In not only their stage energy and raucously beautiful voices, but in their staggeringly frenetic fingering of their instruments. Thiles’s tenuous voice worked its way through gems like “This Is the Song,” a tune which transports you to a lonely, pensive walk down a foggy moor, and “Alex,” a melodic passage to memories of relationships and risks. For “Don’t Need No,” a track off their newest album, Witcher stepped in on vocals with his deeper, more guttural voice. It was a pleasure – and a tease, as it was the only tune he took the steering wheel on.

It was a tough crowd too, at Somerville’s near century-old theatre. Derrieres were inexplicably glued to seats. There were vagaries every now and then, some hollers and song suggestions, but other than that, the crowd was flatlined. The only moment the crowd registered a pulse was when the Brothers launched into their rowdy “Rye Whiskey.” The Punch Bros prevailed despite the somnambulant ambience.

At first sight, without having heard a note struck, I confess that I was worried the band might be the ultimate amalgamation of the gentleman’s club-frat meets preppy a cappella group. [What’s wrong with that, you might ask? … If you don’t know, you never will!] This was a tough mold to break, but after the first song, I was sold. Punch Brothers was the sound of stones skipping in a stream, the sound of rain on the roof, the sound of boot-swathed feet tapping magnanimously on a hard floor. They’re playing tomorrow, January 20, in Madisonville, TN at the Monroe Area Council. Get your hair did and your ears waxed and check it.


Punch Brothers Home Page

The Chili Peppers Bustin' Moves and So Many More: 2011 Looks Sunny with 100% Chance of Precipitation in Great Music

This is an EXCITING year already in music. Let's just start with this: For four years, I've convinced myself that the Chili Peppers were never going on tour ever again. This daily, internal monologue-axiom was an effort to stymie any sort of toxic hope that lurked in my bones that they might perform live again. Sure, I heard they were back in the studio ... but with the exit of Frusciante, we had reason to worry that they were shuttered for good, even despite the musical chairs their band has played over the last three decades.

But! now, with Flea tweeting a couple photos taken in the studio and galvanizing the public about the latest album, following their smash double album Stadium Arcadium released back in '06, it's time to allow that ball of excitement to release in my stomach. RHCP is already slated to perform in Osaka Japan, headlining with the Strokes, as well as Rock in Rio this year. Tantalizing.

There are myriad delicious albums to wait for with bated breath this year. Among my most anticipated are the following: My Morning Jacket [THANK you Yim Yames! Evil Urges was sinfully eclectic but it's been too long!], BON IVER [who flabbergasted me by collaborating with Kanye on his new album My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy (Listen here: Lost in the World)], Jane's Addiction, Radiohead, Wilco, Outkast, Fleet Foxes, Lady Gaga [yikes, Gaga, did I really just throw you in so nonchalantly? Whatever -- I'm stoked!], The Shins. If the White Stripes miraculously tuned up their brother-sister-wify-husband-incestuously confused act, we'd have an apocalyptic royal flush.

Play list:

My Morning Jacket: Touch Me I'm Going to Scream If You Don't, Pt. 2; Bermuda Highway; Wordless Chorus

Bon Iver: Skinny Love; Re: Stacks; Flume

Jane's Addiction: Jane Says (Duh.); Been Caught Stealin'

Radiohead: I Might Be Wrong

Wilco: Jesus Etc.

Outkast: Happy Valentine's Day

Fleet Foxes: White Winter Hymnal

Lady Gaga: Teeth

The Shins: Australia; Sea Legs (*still to this day one of the sexiest songs I've ever heard), Phantom Limb

White Stripes: Jolene; I Just Don't Know What to Do with Myself;