January 28, 2011

YouTubeRodeo: David Wax Museum's "Born with a Broken Heart"

We had previously been wowed by locals the David Wax Museum's set opening for The Low Anthem last year at the Paradise, but we're just now getting to this recently released video for their new album, Everything Is Saved, which they are releasing on February 8th. It's a great song and really captures their spirited olde tyme folky spirit. See for yourself!

Judging by their NPR/World Cafe/Mountain Stage/Daytrotter momentum, 2011 is going to be a big year for them. They're on my SXSW list too.

-Michael Piantigini

David Wax Museum: Intertubes | Twitter

January 27, 2011

Rock Over Boston: Robert Plant | House of Blues | 1.26.2011

[Flier for the Boston Tea Party for May of 1969. Not a terrible lineup.]

Led Zeppelin played Boston three times in 1969, according to LedZeppelin.com: the first was a 4-night stand in January at the Boston Tea Party, the second was a 3-night stand in May again at the Tea Party (see the schedule above), and the last a single night at the Boston Garden in October.

In May of '69, the Tea Party moved from their 53 Berkley Street digs to 15 Lansdowne Street. A building that housed a succession of night clubs before being dismantled a couple of years ago to make way for a slick new mega House of Blues. (More on the Boston Tea Party here).

Robert Plant
took note of this coming full-circle moment at his gig there on that spot on Tuesday night. And, really, he could not seem more happy about it. Spurning the massive glorious spectacle and payday that the Led Zeppelin tour everyone wanted and expected after their '07 London reunion gig, Plant instead decided that he'd be much happier doing this: making a great folky-bluesy Americana record and doing a club tour. Bravo to him for it. As I complained about in the Plant entry in my 2010 top 10 list, why do all these big classic rock acts continue to insist on the ginormous stadium spectacle that they can only pull off with lots of production gimmickry and dubious musical compromises?

But Plant knows the score - his voice is better suited for what he's doing now than putting it through the rigorous demands of a Zeppelin tour. That's a respectable decision in my book.

His handpicked Band of Joy for this tour is the same one he made his recent album of the same name with, and they're a great band to be making traditional American music with, most notably Buddy Miller, a great guitar player and songwriter in his own right, has been a sideman to Emmylou Harris and Steve Earle; Bostonian Patty Griffin sings some sweet harmonies, but is a well-established folkie; and Darrell Scott (who also spent a few years in Boston) was a great utility man, playing pedal steel, banjo, and extra guitar. Each of them took a turn fronting the band (sort of like Ringo Starr's All-Star Band, but good), and Darrell Scott's entry made me want to investigate further. Drummer Marco Giovino is apparently from the Boston area as well - it's all about us!

The set was naturally heavy on the band's great recent album of mainly covers of standards and other songs obscure, oddball, and otherwise. I was wondering how many people in the audience knew who Low is? Not many, I'm guessing, though the band's version of "Silver Rider" is honest and vibrant. The spark in Miller's guitar playing drove a lot of the show, but was not so flashy to compete with Plant and Griffin's sweet harmonies. There was plenty of gently re-arranged Zeppelin material that worked really well for this band. Stuff from III was an obvious choice, and "Tangerine" and especially "Gallows Pole" were highlights, as were "Ramble On," and a rave-up of "Rock and Roll."

Hell, he even made "Tall Cool One" sound pretty good. But where was the rap part?

-Michael Piantigini

Robert Plant: Intertubes

January 24, 2011

Playlist: Mean Creek | Bigger Lovers | ACL | Merge | R.E.M.


Ye olde series of tubes is serving up quite a bit of great new (and old) music at the moment, so I thought I'd round some up:

MEAN CREEK: The local flannel rockers have their terrific new Hemophiliac EP up at the low, low price of whatever you wanna pay. This is especially nice of them, since they had to back off their plans to record a full-length when they found themselves without any financial support for the recording. It is entirely self-funded and recorded in NY with John Agnello, who has produced many rocking albums in your collection. So download it, learn it, love it, and then go celebrate it's release this Saturday, 1/29 at the Brighton Music Hall with Taxpayer, Girlfriends, and Dirty Dishes.

Mean Creek: Bandcamp | MySpace | Tumblr | Facebook | Twitter |

: This favorite Philly pop outfit called it quits five years ago, apparently leaving their own unfinished EP behind. They've just now got around to finishing it with Papas Fritas-frontman/Jenny Dee and the Delinquents-sideman Tony Goddess behind the board. It's out February 1st, but you can get track #2, called "Little Giant," from it now for nuthin'. The relatedly awesome news is that they're also reissuing their long out-of-print 2001 debut, How I Learned To Stop Worrying, on vinyl (as well as digitally) and WITH bonus tracks, on March 8th. They're doing a hometown gig at Johnny Brenda's on March 12th, and seem to be leaving the future open ended.

The Bigger Lovers: Intertubes | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube | MySpace

: These local legends are getting ready to release their new album, Skins, on March 8th as well, and they've already previewed a pair of great tracks on the intertubes: "Arise Watch," and "Guilty Girls." Fortuitously, the BBC has their rockin' July 16,1990 Peel Session at 26:13 into the stream on this page. That's some big-ass SG rock right there. Meanwhile, Bill Janovitz continues his "Cover of the Whenever" series with Merle Haggard and Elvis Costello covers in the past week.

Buffalo Tom: Intertubes | MySpace | Facebook | Twitter
Bill Janovitz: Intertubes | Blog

R.E.M.: They've just announced that they shan't be touring behind their upcoming record, Collapse Into Now - also to be released on March 8th (this is sounding like a really good day). Disappointing, but for now we can take solace in how great the new tracks they've been doling out on-line sound. You can hear "Discoverer," "Oh My Heart," "It Happened Today," and "Mine Smell Like Honey" over at REMHQ right now, and they've just put up "Uberlin" at the HuffPo (for some reason) this morning. So far it's been a mix of the talky vocals of latter-day R.E.M., the edgy guitar return of Accelerate, the catchy poppy moments they managed to squeeze onto the regrettable dark period, and, with "Uberlin" the welcome return of some of the folkier elements of Out of Time and Automatic For The People.

SONIC YOUTH and BLACK KEYS: The PBS institution Austin City Limits has been including more and more indie and alt rock (or whatever genre name you think is appropriate) and making me feel almost as uncomfortable about my age as NPR has by including more and more bands that I like. This week, this means that Sonic Youth is on. You can watch the whole episode that they share with the Black Keys here. Don't be afraid to dig through those archives, either. Lots of great full episodes in there, including recent shows by Cheap Trick, Alejandro Escovedo, and Spoon, as well as 1974's premiere episode with Willie Nelson.

MERGE RECORDS: They really ought to just sell subscriptions where you just get all of their releases, because they've been that consistent. Streaming right now at the Merge homepage are upcoming releases by Apex Manor, the new project by former Broken West guy, Ross Flournoy (which is terrific), and East River Pipe. Meanwhile, label bosses Superchunk have just done a session with Chicago Public Radio's Sound Opinions (see?!) from which there are also some great videos over here.

-Michael Piantigini

January 20, 2011

Rock Over Boston: Hallelujah The Hills, Capstan Shafts | TT's

[Hallelujah the Hills and Capstan Shafts at TT the Bear's Place, Cambridge, MA 1/18/2011. Photos by Michael Piantigini.]

As if I needed another reminder of the big, wide world of the rock music and how easily the music-obsessed among us can feel ashamed of not knowing of a band - even obscure ones - along came Blog Master Jay (Breitling) to turn me on to the Capstan Shafts' fantastic Revelation Skirts album from last fall. A great rock and roll album touching on a few familiar influences - I kept hearing people say Guided By Voices, and sure, I hear that tunefulness and economy, I also hear the hooky and muscular guitars like some Replacements, I hear some English pop like the Smiths, and I also hear a little bit of late 80's/early 90's Carolina pop like Guadalcanal Diary or the Connells.

Turns out that Revelation Skirts represents the Capstan Shafts' pretty marked evolution from lo-fi bedroom pop to big 'ol rock band. Up until last year there wasn't really even a band, just a serious stack of home-recorded gems from mastermind Dean Wells. Even now that there is a band, they don't have a ton of experience as a live band and further, the version touring now is a 3-piece, down from the 5-piece (or 4-piece? Hm. Wiki says 5, Facebook says 4) that was apparently playing together last year.

So, yeah, I was expecting a mightier rock band when they hit town last night at TT's in their first ever visit to the Boston area - maybe, like GbV, a band that re-cast the earlier home recording stuff as big rock anthems. This wasn't quite that. Stripped down and almost timid, the trio stripped the already simple songs down to their basics. This wasn't at all a bad thing once I re-adjusted what I thought they sounded like. Starting early and finishing early, with little in the way of shenanigans, the band flew through all the songs they knew, according to Wells. Most of the rocking was driven by their great drummer, Patrick Long. It was a great, charming 35 minute set of 2 minute pop gems (and one of them, Wells promised, was "nearly three minutes," even!).

I'd still like to see a 5 piece version, but that's probably not an economical way to tour the country at this stage, unfortunately.

Hallelujah the Hills
remain a Boston juggernaut - one that I have taken for granted far too much in the last year or so. But I've learned my lesson. Another band that gets the Guided By Voices comparison due to some of their tracks' lo-fi leanings, they blow them all away in their mighty and sometimes bombastic live sets.

Holding nothing back and peppering us with new tracks from their upcoming single (apparently being funded by a mysterious benefactor, according to stage comments from frontman Ryan Walsh), as well as from their next, Kickstarted, album, Hallelujah The Hills turned in a hell of set for a random rainy, slushy, nasty January Tuesday. Their schedule looks a bit light at the moment, but they are squarely back on my radar.

-Michael Piantigini

Hallelujah The Hills: Intertubes | MySpace | Facebook | Twitter
The Capstan Shafts: Facebook | MySpace | Twitter

January 8, 2011

Footage: Lubec's Completely Genius "Cherry Adair"

As we said elsewhere, this is "the definition of epic new dream pop." From the Richmond act's superlative debut EP Nothing Is Enough!, which you can buy here, here and here. Absolutely worth the $6.

January 1, 2011

Out: Dave Brigham's (C)Rock Stories: Million-Dollar Tales Of Music, Mayhem And Immaturity

(C)rock Stories: Million-Dollar Tales of Music, Mayhem and Immaturity
What you see above is the culmination of a lot of work performed by a guy who, truth be told, is pretty instrumental in this blog even existing. Dave Brigham is one of two editors we worked under during our alleged "professional" "writing" "career." His encouragement and editing, along with that of our mutual friend Ric Dube, transformed our writing from something we wanted to do into something actually worth reading, lo the many years ago when we all toiled in the news pit for sadly defunct dork-com Webnoize. And, in fact, there is some overlap in the chronology here, because when we were writing for Mr. Brigham 10 years ago, he was just getting started on the series of short stories that mutated, slowly, into (C)ROCK STORIES: MILLION-DOLLAR TALES OF MUSIC, MAYHEM AND IMMATURITY. We don't just give anyone all caps. Dave gets all caps. And NSync doesn't get that goddamn asterisk, EMusic doesn't get a goddamn small "e," and et cetera, because Dave said so, forever and ever, amen.

To hear Dave tell it (he appeared on Jay Kumar's Completely Conspicuous podcast to discuss the book last month -- part one, part two), the collection pictured supra has changed greatly over the years since he began ordering the words, but we recall reading early drafts and liking them a great deal. Does the finished product -- part fiction and part memoir and centered around one man's love of underground and hardcore music and attendant misadventures -- answer such age-old puzzlers as "how come you don't rock the stripe no more?" or address the irritated refrain "But I sent it to Dave Brigh-AAAAAm?" Perhaps it does. Perhaps it does not. We don't know, as we haven't read the thing. But our recollection of the early drafts is of a well-paced series of vignettes involving punk rock, van travel, drinking, punk rock, drinking, punk rock and Athens, Georgia. That's more than enough entertainment for one collection of short stories, if you ask us. But you don't need to ask us, you could just read the first two chapters, which are available as a PDF right here.

Purchase (C)ROCK STORIES: MILLION-DOLLAR TALES OF MUSIC, MAYHEM AND IMMATURITY from BookLocker.com right here in paperback or downloadable e-book PDF blah blah blah for your portable lightbox. And here's a tune by one of Dave's favorite acts to get you in the book-buying mood: MDC's "Corporate Deathburger."