Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Daisybones - "Choke"

The latest single from Boston's Daisybone is the kind of indie rock that just isn't made any more. "Choke" starts off fast and furious in the most fun way possible. From there it just goes on a boisterous romp, occasionally slowing down for what may be the chorus. Or it could this part immediately after that turns into a gang vocal. It's an insanely fun and bouncy track, jangly as it can possibly be, and impossibly catchy. And all of this is packed into less than two minutes.

You can listen to "Choke" below. Gold, the new album from Daisybones, will be out on November 9. For more on Daisybones, be sure to check them out on Facebook and Bandcamp. They'll be playing October 20 as part of The Town and The City Festival in Lowell, MA.

Live Shows: Freshgrass Festival 2018, MASS MoCA, North Adams, MA 9/15/18 & 9/16/18

Photo by Ken Sears
Freshgrass definitely has changed since the last time I made it back in 2012. The courtyard where the main stage was is now the smallest stage and the main stage is now in a large field. Well, large compared to a courtyard. As far as an outdoor festival is concerned, it's still relatively small giving the entire fest an intimate feel. The food choices have definitely improved, too. In 2012 we only had the museum cafeteria which quickly ran out of a lot of choices. Now we could choose from a variety of food trucks and caterers spread through the grounds of MASS MoCA. 

I was unable to attend Friday evening, so this will be a Trampled By Turtles free review. I'm going to focus on my favorite aspects of Saturday and Sunday, with plenty of pleasant surprises and new discoveries.

Rhiannon Giddens
Having seen Caroline Chocolate Drops a few times in the past, I fully expected Rhiannon Giddens to be good, even great. Somehow I didn't expect her performance to be one of the best things I've seen in years. Without having to share the spotlight with other singers/songwriters, she was able to fully showcase herself and her immense talents. Her voice is just mesmerizing, and she had the crowd enraptured as she moved from genres (soul, bluegrass, folk, and even some hints of mainstream pop) with ease. Absolute highlights were "Waterboy" and "Up Above My Head" from 2015's Tomorrow is My Turn and an amazing cover of Patsy Cline's "She's Got You," which she just owned. Do yourself a favor and make no excuses next time she's in your area.

Flogging Molly
As the sun started setting on North Adams, the attendees' t-shirts started switching from freshly purchased Trampled By Turtles and other bluegrass/folk festivals to Dropkick Murphys and The Misfits. There were a lot of fans just there for Saturday night's headliners, Flogging Molly. They did have to wait a lot longer than expected. The bluegrass Grateful Dead tribute started twenty minutes late and then proceeded to play long and twenty more minutes into Flogging Molly's set time. Then they had their own sound issues to work out, leading them to start over an hour late. The crowd was tense and restless as the evening wore on, but those feelings were gone as soon as their heroes took the stage. Opening with "The Hand of John L. Sullivan" from 2017's Life is Good they played loudly and furiously for their set. They made no adjustments to their sound to try to fit into the festival like the Pixies's acoustic performance at Newport Folk in 2005. This was a full on electric punk show. Dave King asked if they were bluegrass after a particularly vicious Dennis Casey guitar solo. They inspired what I assume was the first ever Freshgrass mosh pit with favorites like "Black Friday Rule" and "The Likes of You Again." Friday night they played Riot Fest in Chicago, Sunday night they rejoined Dropkick Murphys to restart their co-headlining tour together, but Saturday night they played a little bluegrass festival in the northwest corner of Massachusetts.

I'm With Her
I have no idea how I can describe a folk supergroup featuring Sara WatkinsSarah Jarosz, and Aoife O’Donovan as "surprisingly good," but somehow I'm With Her were surprisingly good. All three of these women are accomplished solo artists, but as a trio they reached otherworldly levels. It might have been how much they truly enjoy playing together. Their joy and enthusiasm was contagious, and each member truly had a chance to shine all on their own. It was one of the rare times when each song was even better than the one before it. The audience just kept getting sucked deeper and deeper into the musical world they created, whether it was one member being able to showcase her own voice and talents or when they were harmonizing together. Their set was truly something special.

Courtyard C
What was once the main stage is now the smallest stage used to showcase the Freshgrass awards finalists. It was a tiny area that seemed to be used more for some of the food vendors and picnic tables. Attendees just stopping to enjoy a meal ended up discovering some of the best performances of the weekend, and I spent far more time here than I expected. 
I checked out Heather Aubrey Lloyd at the recommendation of my wife's friend, and was fully sucked into her performance. She has an immensely powerful, soulful voice that refuses to just be background music. She started her set off playing a cajon and singing, and after that she went to her guitar. She definitely falls on the mainstream side of the singer/songwriter spectrum, but she is one not to be missed.
I accidentally found Lauren Pratt while roaming the galleries of MASS MoCA. She was in a dimly lit gallery exhibiting The Lure of the Dark which was perfect for her. Playing quietly in front of a painting in a darkened room is perfect for her. Her voice is stunning and powerful in her quiet use of it. She played a set of intimate and personal songs that entranced me enough to skip the Indigo Girls's set to see her main performance at Courtyard C, although she advised against it.
North Adams's own Izzy Heltai was an artist I discovered while stopping for lunch. His entire delivery was completely original. I hate to use the word quirky since that usually means some level of tongue in cheek and he was completely earnest. His style of pure folk is definitely accessible, but just slightly unique enough to even satisfy jaded music fans.
Ghost of Paul Revere are an absolute blast live. They play pure roots/Americana rock based music with just the slightest hints of a punk rock attitude. They prefer emotion and fun over playing fancy just to show off and were a small party for the group of fans hanging out to watch them. In a weekend of virtuoso performances, just music for the sake of a good time was much needed.

First Listen: New Releases for 14 September

Artist: Low
Album: Double Negative
Quick Description: Latest anticipated album by the slowcore indie act.
Why You Should Listen: Low has been required listening for close to two decades.
Overall Thoughts: To say this is one of the more highly -anticipated releases of the fall would be an understatement. Low has a very clear aesthetic, and they have deviated from it twice – once in Drums and Guns, a great record with a lot of challenging bits, and now this. In a way, if Low were to produce their idea of Kid A, it might sound a bit like this. It’s abrasive and weird, it has an almost David Lynchian feel to the entire atmosphere. A few songs in, I was not on board. Toward the end, I was still unsure as to whether this was brilliant or absurd. The only thing we should be able to agree upon is that it is musical art in the very sense of it, and while it may not be the best of the week (or even necessarily good after we collectively give it a few more listens), it is something that will have people talking about it later.
Recommendation: Definitely a must listen, the question instead is how much it will work for you.

Artist: Orbital
Album: Monsters Exist
Quick Description: Latest from the British electronica royalty.
Why You Should Listen: Orbital continues to be the most important electronic act in the world.
Overall Thoughts: Their first album in some time, it’s very much an Orbital album. They have kept their sound current enough, but we are still talking about an act that has stubbornly held to its sound even while the electronic landscape has changed. I liked this a lot, but I might rank Orbital as my favorite electronic act so I’m biased. Either way, they haven’t lost it.
Recommendation: Give this a listen.

Artist: Jack Drag
Album: 2018
Quick Description: First album in 16 years from the lo-fi indie star.
Why You Should Listen: Jack Dragonnetti is a great songwriter.
Overall Thoughts: If I have one complaint of sorts with the trends in music as of late, it’s about the relative dearth of power pop we’ve been hearing. Thnakfully, we have bands like Jack Drag taking up the mantle and providing us with a solid listen. While this does veer off a little bit into some 60s/70s-rock diversions at times, the end result here is absolutely something worth hearing.
Recommendation: Add this to the rotation.

Artist: Dilly Dally
Album: Heaven
Quick Description: New album from the indie alt-rock act.
Why You Should Listen: Their debut was really, really solid.
Overall Thoughts: I really enjoyed Dilly Dally’s last album, and the new album is also solid while still providing some sound growth. Definitely more mature, certainly more interesting, and I look forward to hearing whether there are some pieces that jump out at me.
Recommendation: A good listen this week.

Artist: Emma Ruth Rundle
Album: On Dark Horses
Quick Description: New, buzzworthy album from the singer-songwriter.
Why You Should Listen: No one is quite like Emma Ruth Rundle.
Overall Thoughts: Rundle is sneaky good at what she does, with a sort of grit to her recordings that make her stand out. This might be my favorite release of hers yet, with some solid tunes on here to go along with her established presence.
Recommendation: Don’t miss out.

Artist: The Goon Sax
Album: We're Not Talking
Quick Description: New album from an act fast becoming a blog favorite.
Why You Should Listen: You miss the indie rock of my college years.
Overall Thoughts: We’ve been waiting on this one here, and 2002 Jeff thinks this would have been one of his favorites. In 2018, it feels very derivative of a lot of the experimental indie pop of 15 years ago, but there’s something to be said about what is old being new again.
Recommendation: Give it a listen.

Artist: Guerilla Toss
Album: Twisted Crystal
Quick Description: New album from the abrasive alt-rock act.
Why You Should Listen: It's really appealing if you give it an honest shot.
Overall Thoughts: GT Ultra was a solid record with some staying power, and this new effort doubles down in all the best ways. It’s brash and up front, it doesn’t try to be something it isn’t, and it ends up being a super great listen. GT may be an acquired taste, but if you’ve gotten there you’re enjoying the ride.
Recommendation: A great listen this week.

Of note:

* Lola Foy - Bigger Brighter (Dreamy, fragile folk music with a lot of great moments)
* Emma Louise - Lilac Everything (Weird concept album complete with downpitched vocals. Didn’t work for me)
* Daniel T. - Heliotrope
* Active Bird Community - Amends
* The Chills - Snow Bound
* Paul Weller - True Meanings

Seven Song Albums:

* Sarah Davachi - Gave in Rest
* Cold Beat - A Simple Reflection


* Aphex Twin - Collapse
* Troi Irons - Antihero
* Sleaford Mods - Sleaford Mods
* The Mutineers - Threshold
* First Aid Kit - Tender Offerings

Also out:

* Basement Beehive: The Girl Group Underground
* We Were Promised Jetpacks - The More I Sleep the Less I Dream

Monday, September 17, 2018

The Beths Are Playing Atwoods????

Photo by Amanda Cheng
Atwood's Tavern in Cambridge, MA has become one of the go to places for roots/Americana music in the Boston area. Just about every night of the week you can head over there and have an idea of what you're going to see. That's why I was so surprised to see that New Zealand's The Beths are playing there on October 10. The Beths are decidedly not a roots act, and we've been loving their debut album Future Me Hates Me, calling it one of the best albums of the summer. Their fuzzy, loud, and melodic indie rock may be a bit jarring to regulars at Atwood's, and we can't wait to be there.

You can pick up your ticket to see The Beths at Atwood's Tavern on October 10 here. It's not often a band comes all the way from New Zealand to play an 85 person club for $10, so you'll want to get these ASAP. If you need more convincing, check out their new video for "Little Deaths" below. If you're not in the Boston area and want to check out The Beths near you, head over to their website for their current tour dates.

Friday, September 14, 2018

The I Want You - "Some Psychics"

Just five months after their latest release (April's All Beat Up), Boston's The I Want You are back with a new EP and video. "Some Psychics" keeps the power pop sound that we love from The I Want You, but it's not the typical 70's power pop sound most people go for. This one is pure early 80's power pop. The video intentionally looks like early MTV, and as far as the song itself goes, think of a dirty sounding Elvis Costello. It sounds sleazy the way tv shows like Three's Company look sleazy now. The song is about various types of psychic power and figuring out if the powers come from the head or the heart. 

You can watch the video for "Some Psychics" below. Some Psychics, the EP, will be available tomorrow, September 15. (I guess no one told them about Fridays being global release days?) You can get it on the band's Bandcamp. For more on The I Want You, check out their website. If you happen to be in the Boston area, they're playing on the 15th at Sally O'Brien's with The Ghost Truckers and The Ramp Ups.

Motherhood - "Pick of the Pugs"

Photo by Emulsion Lab
I'm pretty sure Motherhood are the first band we have ever covered from Fredericton, New Brunswick. (Being American, I'm not even sure I could find New Bruswick on a map...) The band have recently released a new single, "Pick of the Pugs." It tells the tale of a painter who starts heavily drinking after a break up and ends up painting the outside of his ex's house. Of course, he claims he's not bothered by the break up. The song has the indie rock feel of the country side of Pavement, but only if they were heavily influenced by oompah bands. 

You can listen to "Pick of the Pugs" below. The song is available now via Bandcamp. For more on Motherhood, check out their website. We included the tour dates on their press release below the song.

Sept 17 - Saratoga Springs, NY @ Desperate Annie's
Sept 18 - Philadelphia, PA @ Kung Fu Necktie
Sept 19 - New York, NY @ Piano's
Sept 20 - Buffalo, NY @ Steak & Cakes house show
Sept 21 - Fitchburg, MA @ House show
Sept 22 - Portland, ME @ Waking Windows Festival
Sept 23 - Brooklyn, NY @ Cobra Club
Sept 24 - Philadelphia, PA @ Pharmacy
Sept 26 - Hadley, MA @ Motor Goose Inn
Sept 27 - Troy, NY @ River Street Pub
Sept 28 - Winooski, VT @ Gloom Garden (7pm)
Sept 28 - Burlington, VT @ Radio Bean (11:30pm)
Sept 29 - Montreal, QC @ Pop Montreal (w/ Wolf Parade)
Oct 10 - Vancouver, BC @ Red Gate
Oct 11 - Abbotsford, BC @ CITR Presents
Oct 12-13 - Kelowna, BC @ Breakout West
Oct 20 - Halifax, NS @ Halifax Pop Explosion
Oct 26-27 - Caraquet, NB @ Festival 506

Friday Freebie: Walter Sickert & The Army of Broken Toys - Under Your Covers

Considering how much I love free music and covers, and how obsessively I follow Walter Sickert & The Army of Broken Toys, I can't believe this one slipped by me. Every so often Walter Sickert & The Army of Broken Toys will allow their fans to choose songs for them to cover via their Patreon. The latest batch has been made available to us all. Under Your Covers is a twelve song collection that runs the gamut of what you'd expect from a fan chosen covers album. There are the covers that were obviously carefully chosen specifically for the band (Rasputina's "The New Zero," Primus's "The Toys Go Winding Down" which could easily be the name of a song by The Army of Toys...), classic rock favorites ("Baba O'Riley" from The Who, Tom Petty's "Don't Come Around Here No More," "10538 Overture" by Electric Light Orchestra), and then the ones that are just fun (Imagine Dragon's "Who We Are," "Bills Bills Bills" from Destiny's Child). There's also a great cover of the Iggy Pop classic "The Passenger." 

You can listen to Walter Sickert & The Army of Toys's cover of "Bills Bills Bills" below. Under Your Covers is available now via Bandcamp for a "name your price" download. As always, if you choose free, be sure to give them a follow on Facebook or Twitter. It's only fair after all. If you have the perfect song for them to cover next time, be sure to check out their Patreon. Maybe we can finally force them into that Bell Biv Devoe cover they keep teasing...

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Moviestar featuring Professor Elemental - "The Present"

Last year we informed you about Moviestar, which I'm sure you remember are a three piece band from the planet Fenris in the future. They are back with a new single, and this time they've enlisted the help of Professor Elemental. Professor Elemental is described as a "steampunk-rapper," so I'm fully invested in this collaboration. Considering how their previous songs were such a bizarre mix-up of styles, adding in a steampunk-rapper should make it even crazier, but "The Present" is much tamer than expected. I mean, sure, it's not a top 40 song, but it's fairly comparable to later era Brit-pop than I'd expect from a band from the planet Fenris in the future. Hopefully that doesn't sound too negative, since "The Present" is a pretty great song and has me dreaming of a Moviestar/Professor Elemental co-headlining tour.

You can watch the video for "The Present" below. For more on Moviestar, check out their website. For more on Professor Elemental, check out his.

Mary Bell - "Be a mom"

Last time we heard from Paris, France's Mary Bell was the 48 second "Band-aid Baby." By that measure, their new single is an epic at just under three minutes. While still thrashy and noisy punk rock, "Be a mom" has a New Wave groove that can't be missed. This new song is no less intense than we want (or need) from a Mary Bell song. Far from it. Despite the groove "Be a mom" still delivers the attitude and aggression that have become Mary Bell's trademark in the short time we've been aware of them. You'll hear this particularly towards the end as the groove begins to fall apart. Instead of ramping up the noise and chaos like you'd expect, the song just kind of stutters out in the best way possible.

You can listen to "Be a mom" below. HISTRION, the new album from Mary Bell, will be available October 1. You can pre-order it now via Bandcamp. For more on Mary Bell, check out their website.

Top 5 Must See Artists at Freshgrass 2018

As we prepare for this weekend's Freshgrass 2018 (checking the weather report every hour, repeatedly listening to the festival's Spotify playlist...), we thought we'd share what we're most looking forward to this weekend. Of course, these could be dropped instantly for another set or by getting lost in the galleries of MASS MoCA, but as of right now, these are our top 5...

Rhiannon Giddens, Saturday, 5:00 pm, Courtyard D
My first trip to Freshgrass included seeing the Carolina Chocolate Drops in 2014. I've been obsessed with them since then, which has included following each member's solo careers. I still haven't seen Rhiannon Giddens solo live, but that will change on Saturday. Her solo work has been a bit more mainstream than Carolina Chocolate Drops and I'm very curious to see how that plays out live. Seeing how Carolina Chocolate Drops stole the entire festival in 2014, this could be the must see of 2018.

Flogging Molly, Saturday, 9:00 pm, Joe's Field
I'm truly curious how Celtic punks Flogging Molly will fit into Freshgrass. The festival is fairly traditional folk/bluegrass, and Flogging Molly was touring with Dropkick Murphys three months ago. Sure, Flogging Molly has more traditional roots than their tourmates, but still... I'm curious to see if they have a more toned down performance like Gogol Bordello did at Newport Folk or if this will be a full on Flogging Molly show. Not to mention that I'm sure they'll have a fanbase that is just there to see them, and I'm curious how those fans will feel about the rest of Freshgrass, like the bluegrass tribute to the Grateful Dead right before Flogging Molly. Saturday night will be interesting...

Twisted Pine, Sunday, 11:45 am, Courtyard D
We adore Twisted Pine's new covers EP, Dreams. Bluegrass covers of popular rock songs most often are a bit too cutesy, but Twisted Pine completely nail these seven songs with their jazzy take on traditional bluegrass. I know, I know... their originals are also wonderful and they're an accomplished band, but I'd be lying if I said I wasn't most thrilled about the possibility of seeing them perform their Blondie and Cranberries covers. 

Leyla McCalla, Sunday, 2:30 pm, Hunter Center
An outdoor music festival isn't typically the place you go to excited to see a movie, especially on a fall day that looks to be as spectacular as Sunday looks. But when they have Leyla McCalla commissioning a new score to a silent film, you head indoors to check it out. I've loved the Freshscores concept since I first heard about it, and checking out Leyla McCalla's (who I first discovered at Freshgrass 2014) performance is set to be a highlight of my weekend.

I'm With Her, Sunday, 4:30 pm, Joe's Field
The term supergroup gets thrown around quite a bit. (We're guilty of using it too much ourselves.) But when a band forms featuring Sara WatkinsSarah Jarosz, and Aoife O’Donovan the term doesn't even come close to how amazing this trio is. Booking any of these artists would be a huge score for any festival, but booking all three to perform together is immense. Seriously, if you haven't checked out their release from earlier this year, See You Around, you need to drop everything and listen to it now. If you already have, we'll see you Sunday afternoon at 4:30!