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Sand Reckoner- Self-titled

Sand Reckoner’s self-titled debut full-length release is as genre-bending as anything they’ve done to date. This three-piece, Boston-by-way-of-Pennsylvania band has been making a name for itself in the psychedelic indie underground but their debut proves that they are much more than a throwback to the late sixties and early seventies. Sure, there are healthy doses of Crazy Horse, early Pink Floyd and Blue Cheer, but there’s also an equal measure of Thurston Moore (of Sonic Youth) and the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion (minus their trademark irony). Each track moves deftly from one influence to another while remaining a cohesive piece of work. The record opens with the rolling, bluesy “Shooting Bullets”, their most Zeppelin-esque track, moving on to the Neil Young influenced “Morning Star”, an acoustic guitar and harmonica-centric ballad. “The Darkest Dye” could be a lost track from The Band, while “Flesh and Bones” is the bastard child of Jon Spencer and Jack White. And here we are, not quite halfway through the record. Later in the album “Terror in the Massanutten Part I” is a surf-rock, spy movie theme song custom made for driving fast with the windows down. The Thurston Moore influence makes its first appearance on “The Deserter” and sticks through the rest of the album. It is most welcome in “No One’s Veil”, a nearly seven minute trip through all manner of psychedelic influences—call and response verses, guitar noise breakdowns, Pink Floyd-ian, dreamy “woo-ooh” choruses. Many thanks to Sand Reckoner for providing the template for a modern psych revolution. Hear it for yourself at Sand Reckoner’s Bandcamp page. -George Dow

Onslo- A Taste of Purple

For their 6th, ONSLO drop a bite-sized bomb of post-punk, prog-rock goodness. While channeling equal parts King Crimson and Mars Volta, most of the seven tracks clock in at two minutes or less, an amazing feat given the denseness of their songs. As with all of ONLSO’s releases, it’s difficult to tell if the band is dead serious or completely filled with irony. Tracks like “Can You Beat Up A Murderer?” and “I ♥ My Golden Retriever” are delivered with bombastic, wrenching choruses. Their instrumental tracks resemble classical fanfares filtered through the mind of a 12-year old punk rocker. At the end of the day it matters little whether ONSLO are utterly sarcastic or wholly earnest since the songs they deliver are so completely original and filled with hooks. You’ll find yourself leaving this ten minute EP on repeat just to keep the goodness going.

Download A Taste Of Purple at http://onlso.bandcamp.com. -George Dow


Caliph -- June 1 Middle East Review

Hip-hop artist Caliph set the stage on fire during his performance at The Middle East Downstairs on Friday, June 1. Hailing from New Bedford, MA, Caliph brings a rare combination of energy, excitement and raw talent to each of his performances, and this show was certainly no exception. While the bill for the night consisted of more than ten Boston-based artists—including one dance company—Caliph proved to everyone in attendance that the Whaling City deserves to be represented in Boston.

Caliph’s air-tight flow and super-fast rhymes were only out-shined by his on-stage antics. It was tiring just watching him as he moved about the stage. Jumping up and down, running back and forth, spinning around with arms out-stretched, it was more like watching an aerobics class than a rap show.

In addition to the killer performance by Caliph, I was impressed by the on-stage collaboration and the genuine interest that each artist showed in what the other performers were doing. I have never seen such enthusiasm and respect from one artist to another. Usually, you go to super-hip “indie” shows around the city and everyone is too concerned with themselves to pay attention to the other acts. At one point, every performer on the bill (plus several of their closest friends) was up on stage, dancing and singing along to the choruses of whoever happened to be performing at that moment in time.

Overall, this was an excellent performance and I will certainly be keeping an ear out for what Caliph will be doing next. --Daniel McMahon


The Dying Falls -- Driftwood

There is something magical in the display and rendering of nostalgia. The Dying Fall’s LP, Driftwood, channels nostalgia from every pore and every crevasse. The album plays as a myriad of send offs: homages to lost loves, depression, childhood, teenagers. Even the overall background sound of the album sounds old. The Dying Falls create a unique, but very familiar underground sound. The title track “Youth Goes Bad,” plays like a dusty old Talking Heads album cut. Throughout Driftwood, there is a strong underground presence very similar to the kind shown in the eighties. Echoes of Sonic Youth and The Pixies are spread across this album, “Old Prisoner’s Song” in particular seems to have crawled right out of 1987.

There are several songs that feel unique simply to The Dying Falls. “The Sun Shines For Everyone (But Not For Me),” sounds wholly original. The most spontaneous and loudest track (in terms of original identity) would be the album closer “Injury.” “Injury” clicks right off the bat, and the sound that comes off this song, needs to be duplicated in later efforts by The Dying Falls. Driftwood is an album of nostalgic and underground charm.--Casey Lowrey


The Deli Kansas City is born!

Deli Readers,

In our plans of constant expansion of our coverage towards new music scenes, admittedly Missouri wasn't the top priority, but since we found some seriously committed partners over there (the awesome people at the Midwest Music Foundation) we decided to launch a Deli Kansas City web page! While working on the site we have actually discovered a very lively scene with some really cool bands. Go ahead and explore it!

The Deli's Staff


ONSLO -- March 9, 2012 @ The Dirty Douglas

The plan was to meet the guys from ONSLO at The Dirty Douglas in Lowell and chat before their set. I fell in love with ONSLO after reviewing their 2011 EP, Quartumdimensio AEdificium, with its utterly crazy melding of Weezer, Descendents, and Frank Zappa (I know… it feels strange even typing those bands in the same sentence).

Ethan warned me that “it’s kind of a DIY space” when he gave me the address. I drive by the address once, then twice, then again a third time...

Click here to read the rest of George Dow's interview with ONSLO.


 

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ONSLO -- March 9, 2012 @ The Dirty Douglas
by George Dow

The plan was to meet the guys from ONSLO at The Dirty Douglas in Lowell and chat before their set. I fell in love with ONSLO after reviewing their 2011 EP, Quartumdimensio AEdificium, with its utterly crazy melding of Weezer, Descendents, and Frank Zappa (I know… it feels strange even typing those bands in the same sentence).

Ethan warned me that “it’s kind of a DIY space” when he gave me the address. I drive by the address once, then twice, then again a third time. All I see is a triple decker on the corner of an intersection. I dial Ethan up and confirm that, yes, the triple decker on the corner is, in fact, The Dirty Douglas. I meet the ONSLO boys, Ethan (guitar), Aaron (bass), and Floyd (drums) in the driveway. They guide me up a narrow, unfinished, staircase through a kitchen stacked shoulder-high with empty beer cans and pizza boxes, on into a living room area. We sit down to talk. Given the choice between a broken piano stool and a torn, over-stuffed chair, I choose the broken stool. The shade of the overstuffed chair reminds me of vomit and semen. The broken stool at least has a vinyl cushion. It’s probably less likely to transmit disease.

We start with how ONSLO came to be. Aaron tells me, “We’ve been a band now for 6 years. We’re about to release our 6th EP. We’ve been friends for a long time.”

Ethan drops more detail, “Ethan and I have known each other for probably nine years. We’ve played together in a few bands. And I’ve known Floyd all that time. It came a time when we just wanted to do something new. We wanted somebody to play drums and he wanted to play. The crazy thing is, Floyd is a better guitar player that any of us. His parents sent him to school for four years for guitar and now he’s a drummer, endorsed by a drum company. Me and Chris are from Leominster, MA and Aaron is from Bolton, MA. Bolton is where we practice and record and do all of our business—we have a little headquarters in Bolton.”

On record, ONSLO are a schizophrenic mess of styles, impossible to pin into one category. One second it’s prog-rock bombast, the next it’s hardcore punk, followed by nineties-style alt-rock. A discussion of their influences explains the schizophrenia but does little to help categorize their sound.

Floyd may be a flower-child at heart, “I’m a very sixties-influenced guy. Anything groove oriented. If it has a groove, it’s good.” Aaron, on the other hand leans in a completely different direction, “For me it’s a lot of early nineties stuff. A lot of Amphetamine Reptile bands, all the Touch & Go stuff.”

I’m not willing to let it go though. There’s more to what’s going on in their music—so I press the issue with Aaron, asking about the jazzier influences apparent on their most recent releases. “Oh, that’s a direct result of their listening to lots of Frank Zappa over the past two or three years,” Aaron concedes. “One of my mother’s boyfriends gave me a copy of The Mothers' Live at the Fillmore when I was 13 or 14 and I only just rediscovered it within the last couple of years. It was just one of those reinvigorating things when I realized how awesome it was. You know, King Crimson is another huge influence as well. ”

ONSLO play music so bombastic and filled with prog-rock tendencies that it’s sometime hard to pin down whether they’re completely, straight-faced serious or dripping with venomous sarcasm. After a hearty round of laughter Ethan pipes in, “Well, it’s both. When we play, it’s all about having a good time. But when it comes to the band business, it’s just that, all business. We know when to just go off and we know when to keep it real. We do this because it’s just a lot of fun.”

Both the band’s musical proficiency and their knack for good times come through in their recordings. “Well, I think that all comes through because we record everything ourselves,” Aaron tells me. “We have the luxury to take all the time we need. Our studio and office is a 19th Century carriage house with 20 foot ceilings.” Ethan adds, “We’re basically at home when we record. It’s like we’re in our living room, not in some studio where we’ve never been before. Everything we do is like sitting on our couch watching TV.”

This revelation leads to a round of discussion about their unique recording situation. “I have enough experience working in studios to know what to do and use the room and what we have around us to get a reasonable end product,” says Aaron.

Floyd adds, “And our equipment has always been improving as we’ve gone. We now have so much better stuff to work with.”

“Another thing we do use analog tape. We mix everything down analog. That’s become a huge thing too,” Aaron explains. “We do use digital to record. Then we take it outside of the box. The luxury to do multiple vocal takes, to go through and do the cut and edit.”

As a final thought, Ethan adds, “So we do go to digital but it’s still one take, play it straight through. We don’t cut and paste. No click track. We just use a natural feel.”

I’m curious what the community of bands that ONSLO travels with looks like. “Big Mess are good friends,” Aaron tells me. “In fact both Big Mess and Séance [who also played this night]—I’ve recorded some of their releases. We’re out three or four times a week. Last night was weird. Basically we saw this common area of a dormitory living room turned into a strip mall. Since we played there last they put in like a Taco Bell and a Sal’s Pizza. So it became this whole sad thing. We’re playing and staring at the Taco Bell. But it was fun. We saw Fat History Month, another band we’ve played with a couple of times.”

Since we’re sitting on the top floor living space of this triple decker in the heart of Lowell, I’m curious about the performance space. “The last time we played here we had a pig pile instead of a mosh pit,” Floyd explains.

“Yeah, and someone brought a bunch of onions too,” Aaron says with a smirk. “It was a big sweaty basement that smelled of onions. Our amplifiers smelled like onions for months.”

The descriptions do little sate my curiosity so we retire to the basement where the bands play. I immediately understand why the “pig pile” replaced the mosh pit. After navigation the creaky staircase in near-pitch blackness we arrive in the basement—and it is just that—a basement. Complete with pipes overhead and structural poles all around. The ceiling is little more than six feet high with pipes meandering all around. It’s impossible to spend more than ten minutes in the space without cracking your head.

ONSLO take the “stage” (well… there is no stage. I guess it’s more accurate to say they take the floor) and roll through a blistering set of tunes, pulling from each of their five EPs. The twenty-or-so kids there to witness the assault are provided with a prog-rock-hardcore treat as ONSLO nail every song. They deliver a lesson in playing for the love of it. There’s certainly no money to be made in this basement—instead it’s all about the music, making new friends, and converting new fans.

 


 

 
 

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Quartumdimensio ᴁdificium

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Bearstronaut -- Painted in the Dark

One night when living in the dorms, by some stroke of misfortune, I strayed from the usual cast of characters only to find that they, for once, had adventured into the basements of Allston. They detailed, this one Sunday in particular, one of the greatest nights, set to live music. Of course, I was nowhere to be found that evening.

I was mystified. Was it true? What kind of music, in Allston, was being produced, that could capture the hearts of your average, Lady GaGa-worshipping, college girls? The heroes of my musically disinterested friends? Bearstronaut.

Click here to read the rest of Madi Silvers' review of Bearstronaut.


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