The Doctors Fox play a wholly unique brand of indie rock. It brings in elements of alt-folk, funk, garage guitar tones, ska, and alternative rock a la its days of yore. But despite the various rhythms, textures and influences, it all has a distinctive sound, cemented by the melody-oriented lead vocals ("Sarah" has gotten stuck in this writer's head more than once).
It fits then that the band has put together an awesome and hugely collaborative residency for the month of September over at The Savant Project. The four nights are all headlined by The Doctors Fox and include one other special musical guest each. Additionally, there's a local artist spotlighted each evening, and his or her art will be hanging to see and to buy! It's a thoughtful approach to a residency that should benefit greatly from the mix of art on display and the mix of friends and fans in attendance.
If that all didn't sound good enough, they're all free. So take your admission cash and put it in the donation bucket, and/or support a local artist by buying a disc or artwork.
The Honors release their debut EP, "xoxo," Friday at Great Scott. The EP is riddled with hooks, often sounding like retro pop filtered through modern sensibilities: the vocals in the opener, "New Girls," are a well-timed and thoughtfully catchy corner-of-the-eye glance at new romance, yet they're soaked in reverb and play against short bursts of distorted guitar. The songs are punchy and concise, with a solid, danceable rhythm section and some nicely playful guitar lines. It's the relationship between oldschool songwriting and newer sonic textures that seems to guarantee an electrifying live show. The vocals often steal the limelight - there's a serious ear for melody evidenced here - and it's the verse of "Call Me From California" or the chorus of "Driven By Strangers" that will leave the club with you.
Their EP release show is part of a Pill event, so take your dancing shoes and expect there to be plenty else to stay on the floor for.
On Friday night, a warm and welcoming crowd filled the Lizard Lounge’s intimate basement room for a homecoming concert of sorts for former Cambridge singer/songwriter (and current Brooklyn resident) Jason Myles Goss. Goss performed with his 4-piece band in a show that also featured local supporting acts Dietrich Strause and Beth Colegrove.
Colegrove kicked off the night, and despite her admission that she was still recovering from bronchitis, she managed to subdue the crowd with her bubbly voice and confessional, intimate songwriting style. Standouts included the upbeat tune “Yellow Canary” and a delicately picked rendition of Leonard Cohen’s break up ode “Hotel Chelsea #2”.
After a short break during which the crowd continued to swell, singer/songwriter Dietrich Strause proved himself a rising local star by bringing the boisterous crowd to a hush with his opener, the understated ballad “Susquehanna” from his debut album. He just as quickly brought the crowd back to life with “Nuns With Guns," a foot stomper featuring nimble finger picking and pointed social commentary ("Are we swimming for the next war / or treading for our lives?"). Several upbeat numbers followed, including a two-step take on Bob Dylan’s “Buckets of Rain," and alternated with more intimate ballads that showcased Strause’s excellent guitar playing and smooth, straightforward vocal delivery. The highlight of the set was a track from Strause’s forthcoming second album, a driving bluesy number called “Brickyard,” which was intercut with a completely acoustic rendition of Paul Simon’s “Graceland” that again brought a noisy crowd to dead silence for nearly the entire song - an impressive feat for a Friday night at the Lizard Lounge.
Finally, headliner Jason Myles Goss took the stage with his roots rock outfit. The bass player rocked one of the best handlebar moustaches I have seen in a while, a fact which led my companion to comment, “With a moustache like that you know these guys will be legit.” Sure enough, Goss’s anthemic and energetic songs were catchy and memorable from the very first listen. The band was tight and well balanced, giving Goss plenty of breathing room for his mellow and well worn vocals to drive hook-filled tunes like “Come Back To Me” and “Heavy." Each of his bite sized portraits of city life went down smooth with just enough grit and emotion to keep the audience enthusiastically riding along, so that by the time the crowd starting shuffling out after 1 AM, it felt more like breaking up a party among friends than ending a show.
The two musicians take different but complementary approaches to folk rock. Goss has a lush, full approach, with full-band kicks and strong vocals. The once Cambridge-based artist (now working in Brooklyn) uses his ear for dynamics to spotlight memorable melodic hooks. Strause, on the other hand, conveys a just-for-you intimacy, his thoughtful chords and structures supporting his clear and present voice. Deft fingerpicking gently propels many of the songs, creating a timeless and warm atmosphere.
Boston Band Crush's One Night Band 2010 is this Saturday, 8/21! Boston Band Crush, a Boston-based music blog, launched its first One Night Band in August of last year to great success.
The event is fashioned after the Rock Lottery, which had happened in Seattle and Denton, Texas. The idea: Take a bunch of local musicians, throw them into randomly selected groups, and give them a day to write music as a band.
It's only fitting that Boston Band Crush, a blog highly reflective of the collaborative, social and fun elements of Boston music, should bring it home. "I loved the idea and wanted to bring it to Boston," says Ashley Willard of BBC. "I think the coolest thing is that it brings musicians together who wouldn't normally cross paths."
BBC's version features forty Boston musicians grouped into eight bands of five. They have about six hours to complete four songs - three originals and one cover. Then they hit the Middle East Downstairs in the evening to showcase their day's work - the good, the bad, and, if last year is any indication, the improbably amazing.
As with last year's, your ticket will not only grant you access to this incredible event, but it will also support Zumix, a local organization working for music education. "We were worried we wouldn't draw enough to pay for the room," Willard reflects. "But we ended up almost selling it out and raising $1600 for Zumix." And if that isn't enough of a bonus, if you're one of the first three hundred one night fans to enter the Middle East Downstairs, you'll get a gift bag full of local music cd's, stickers, and other swag from bands all over the Boston music map.
Shoney Lamar & the Equal Rights continue their three-date residency at the Precinct on Thursday, August 19th. The residency celebrates the release of the band's new EP, "eat fish and die." (Download their last EP for free here.)
The band's comments are simple: "Shoney Lamar & the Equal Rights made the damn thing and it's awesome." This writer is inclined to agree, but however awesome the recording may be, you better get there to catch it live. Those familiar with Shoney's performances know what kind of red-in-the-face passion to expect, but those who are not shouldn't head to Facebook for photos or YouTube for vids - they should head down to Precinct to be there. You'll be able to leave with your own copy of the EP and stories of the evening to tell to the suckers who missed it.
Starting at 1pm on Saturday, Union Square's PA's Lounge and Precinct host Deep Heaven Now's triumphant return!
The storied festival began in the early 90's, spotlighting some of the best East coast psychedelic bands of the time. It was often held in private loft spaces, and was a merging of auditory and visual arts, augmented by projection videos and lights. It carried with it a strong sense of artistic community - not just by nature of the festival, but, in many ways, inherent to the genre itself.
"I think it's one of the more charming aspects of the ambient/psych/experimental scene," says Jinsen Liu, singer/guitarist for 28 Degrees Taurus, one of two headliners for this year's reboot. "It's timeless and there's far less ageism and boundaries within it. Everyone has something to offer each other."
Liu attended Deep Heaven Now back in its heyday in the late 90's. He was a musician at the time, and the festival was an inspiration for his own music's direction. Now, his band is one of the hardest working acts in Boston, self-funding records and tours, playing out constantly in Boston, and, as individuals, reaching out to collaborate with other local acts.
More than a decade after he bought his first ticket to Deep Heaven Now, he's reaching back to that golden age of psychedelia and bringing the festival back.
"It all started with a conversation at a bar when the idea hit me," he explains. "I think it was just a joke at the time, but the more I thought about it, I felt I could actually make it happen."
"Make it happen" may prove an understatement; the 2010 installment carries the tradition with it, but stands also as a re-imagining. The all-day event, held in Union Square, is a double-venue spectacle. Nineteen bands, from as far as Minneapolis, will contribute their voices, their sets strategically staggered at half hour intervals, so the (rightly) ambitious in attendance can hop back and forth and catch music by every band. One $10 ticket buys you access to both clubs for the entirety of the event, assuring fans get their money's worth and discover some new music as they go.
"The timing was right," Liu says of bringing the festival back. "The scene here in Boston is vibrant and electric enough right now and there's a deep core of talent here within the ambient/psych/experimental genres. But it's still very fractured. [...] I felt I was in the perfect position to bring back the community that was so exciting and cohesive back then. [...] I had trust and familiarity with the veterans and people already established but I also had close ties to the younger kids in Allston coming up. I felt I could be a good bridge."
This year's Deep Heaven Now, with a line-up ranging from days-of-yore psych vets like Abunai! and Bobb Trimble to relatively new acts (did we mention there are nineteen bands?), certainly highlights the overlap between disparate but relevant circles within the scene. What's more, it's also bent on raising awareness of the varied community and bringing new music to new listeners - it's sponsored by Narragansett, it's gotten as much press as anything in recent memory, and it coincides with the annual Rock and Roll Yard Sale.
"When most people look at the line-up, they'll list their top three or four 'must-sees,'" Liu continues. "But I am confident that if people hang around they'll walk away with some favorite 'new' bands they like as well." For those on a schedule, though, Liu points out that a handful of the bands are out-of-towners swinging through for the festival. "Give them a nice warm Boston welcome. Show them where the party is. [...] I'd say see the Roh Delikat and Abunai reunions, too, as you don't know when they'll play again."
Despite all the sex, drugs, and rock and roll, despite the free beer, despite the inevitable after parties - leave it to a psych rocker to get philosophical. "What are we bringing back?" Liu mulled. "Bringin' back some excitement, electricity, community, interesting new and evolving textures, redefining and remaking old established ideas, bringin' back a universal genre.. we're doing this for ourselves and for each other but just also hoping that maybe what we do will attract and inspire some new people too. I was one of those new wide-eyed people back in the late 90's when I attended my first Deep Heaven 5. Now look where I am!"
Saturday's massive Deep Heaven Now revival kicks off on Friday with a stellar warm-up bill at PA's Lounge. The line-up is half Deep Heaven Now featured bands and half not, so expect a great introduction to the festival's music, but not a spoiler.
Headlining the evening is the fantastic Ghost Box Orchestra. They released a new (and mesmerizing) EP mid-July and apparently already have new material to unveil.
It wasn't mentioned in the CD of the Month review, but you can stream their entire album over at their Myspace page. So check out the review, and then go catch up on their music so you can sing along with them. Furthermore, it should be noted that the band does not disappoint live. Their recorded music is represented brilliantly in their performances (they nail those oft-complex vocal harmonies, which can be such a trouble spot for even technically adept musicians), their sets are sometimes laced with impromptu soloing and jams, and their good nature and humor shine through and warm the room.
They play with Portland, Oregon's Archeology. Archeology's earthy, rolling folk is full of peaks and valleys, by turns exciting and quietly captivating. They hit sweet pockets of melody and mood and sound like a grounded foil for The Highway's psychedelia, while still sharing much of the same ground. A great bill.