Amory Sivertson’s latest release, Human, is a wonderful mix of pop melodies, soothing piano lines and beautiful vocals. Sivertson, an Emerson-college student, is signed to the student-run Emerson record label, Wax on Felt Records.
Drawing on influences from such artists as Feist, Regina Spektor and Ingrid Michaelson, Sivertson manages to craft an album that is at once familiar and yet entirely unique and original. The opening track on the record, Wrap My Arms, is reminiscent of a blues number, infused with gospel and soul. The song, an acapella-style round, displays Sivertson’s vocal range and dynamic capabilities.
The entire album demands a listen, but the twelfth track, Compelling, is one particular instance where Sivertson’s brilliance really shines through. It begins slowly, meticulously building to a Feist/Florence and the Machine-style bridge with plenty of stops and dynamic shifts to get anyone moving up and out of their seat.
Overall, Human is a fantastic collection of songs. Sivertson’s songwriting and orchestration are of a caliber one rarely finds in independent music. Human is streaming (along with her earlier recordings) and available for purchase on her bandcamp site. Act fast – if Sivertson continues to make music sound this good, her songs won’t be available for five bucks for too much longer.--Daniel McMahon
As seen on FOX News in 2010 for a live performance, BR1GHT PR1MATE are one of many artists riding the 8-bit nostalgia wave with their dance-y chiptune style. The Boston duo, made up of singer Lydia Marsala and video gamer James Therrien, currently has a smattering of EPs, covers, video game soundtracks, and other odds and ends, including The Reality Chipmusic Love Industry [REMIXES], the August, 2011 release.
In April 2011 BR1GHT PR1MATE released The Reality Chipmusic Love Industry, a six-song album about “hope, death, sci-fi, businessmen, cooking and reality television,” according to the band. And in response to reaching 300,000 downloads of their music, BR1GHT PR1MATE initiated a remix album featuring electronic artists Decktonic, Smiletron, I am [noun], and Misfitchris. Each of the four tracks on the remix album is a reworking of the original-- BR1GHT PR1MATE’s chiptune and vocal samples are weaved in along with the unique sounds provided by each of the collaborators.
The remixes are restructured versions of the originals with a lot more layering, bringing them away from BR1GHT PR1MATE’s basement party style and making them more dance club ready. Two of the artists put a different spin on Fanfare: Misfitchris of Connecticut gives the song a more full, entrancing sound while New York’s Decktonic plays up the chiptune parts. Providence duo I am [noun] throw some dubstep on Please Me and throw in a totally sweet, out-there electro breakdown at the end. Chiptune artist Smiletron experimented with Reach, taking out the original vocals entirely and adding more clubby elements.--Sarah Ruggiero
BR1GHT PR1MATE will be playing Monday, Feb. 13 at Great Scott.
No need to worry about bland, generic tunes here. If the Darth Vader-esque monologue at the beginning of Raw Milk doen’t grab your attention, hopefully the funky riffs do. If not, check your pulse.
With its colorful album cover displaying exactly what the title says, The Gang of Thieves’ Dinosaur Sandwich Party appears to be the kind of party to end all other social gatherings. The Burlington, VT band came together in early 2009, and currently the band boasts a 50 percent chance of dreadlocks.
Dinosaur Sandwich Party is their second full-length album and was released in August, 2011. The album expertly pens the jam session vibe, full of sweet bass and a mood that sways between upbeat and laid-back. The Gang’s funky rock and roll sound is both bouncy and smooth, but they can also pull off that dirty, old-school rock style, most notably in Necromantic Judo, whatever that song title means. Dharma Dojo hints at Red Hot Chili Peppers, whose vibe pokes its head throughout other points in the album, along with Rage Against The Machine, whose magnetizing riffs obviously reflect back to Gang of Thieves’s style.
The gold star for this album goes to guitarist Nick Wood, whose riffs and solo work glide seamlessly on their own and carry the songs forward on a wave. Wood’s guitar work also weaves well with Michael Reit’s vocals.
Okay, so the lyrics might encroach a bit on cheesiness at times, but the songs never stop being fun. Reit’s fiddle-playing featured in The Bunny Song makes for a pleasantly surprising addition to the track as they close out the album.
The Gang of Thieves, if it was apparent enough in the title track, just want to kick it, and it’s likely they put on the type of live show at which even the most adamantly stand-still-with-arms-crossed folks in the crowd won’t be able to resist some sort of rhythmic movement.--Sarah Ruggiero
We are getting there folks! We just uploaded the full list of artists nominated for our Best of New England 2011 Poll for Emerging Artists. It's in the right column on this same page and also HERE, where you can actually vote. Some bands in the list were selected through a submission process and some others were picked by our jury of local scene-makers, who could freely choose 3 bands each in order of preference. Points were already assigned to each band according to how well they did in the selection process. Now the readers' and fans' votes will also influence the final chart. Each vote will count!
Boston-based rock quartet A Do knows how to rock—hard. Their self-titled album features plenty of hard-hitting rock songs with dark undertones. After listening to the entire album, it became quite clear to me that the band must listen to a lot of Queens of the Stone Age. No – the third track off the album – is a prime example of this dark, QOTSA-inspired sound. Lead singer Adrienne Bel provides her own backing vocals on this song, taking a page right out of Josh Homme’s playbook. Guitarist Derek LeDoux’s performance on this track is quite excellent as well, adding various licks and unison bends throughout the song.
Bel’s vocal performance is the highlight of this record. Her voice is powerful but not too harsh, a trait that is hard to come by in the realm of hard-rock/grunge singers. Her strong voice is enhanced by high-energy guitar riffs and a rhythm section that knows how to hold down a song.
A Do is currently in the process of preparing a new album that is set to drop this year.--Daniel McMahon
Newton, Massachusetts-- a suburb of Boston-- has repeatedly ranked as one of the nation’s safest and wealthiest cities of its size. It also happens to be the spawning place of one of the most hilariously diabolical bands in the nation, or even the world, although that ranking may be harder to prove statistically. The village pride of West Newton, Anal Cunt was led by the late vocalist Seth Putnam from 1998 until 2011, with an ever-changing lineup and a hiatus or two along the way. In June, 2011, Putnam died of a heart attack at the age of 43, but toward the end of his life, he put together what would be Anal Cunt’s lattermost, fully authorized set of recordings.
The Old Testament is a collection of the noisy grindcore band’s most archaic material along with rare and live recordings, released by Relapse Records in November, 2011. Released as a two-disc set, the collection includes their very first demo, which was recorded in April of 1988 but went unreleased until now. Also included are the 47 Song Demo (1988), 88 Song EP (1989), 5,643 Song EP (1989), Another EP (1991), Unplugged EP (1991), and Live EP (1991). Live recordings include shows in Germany and Indiana, and there is also material from several of their 7” splits as well as from The Masters of Noise compilation album. The set also features original liner notes by Putnam.
Anal Cunt are not family friendly, and they’re in your face about being politically incorrect, but in a way that is equal parts metal, awesome, and chuckle-worthy. They grabbed attention with their offensive song titles and lyrics, but these traits mostly appeared in their works after what is included in The Old Testament. Songs included in their early EPs are untitled and lack lyrics entirely, but the band still fit the humor into: Sporadically throughout TOT recordings, Putnam will shriek “Eeenie meenie minie moe,” which also happens to be some of the only decipherable words uttered during a song. And at the beginning of their Schwäbisch Hall, Germany live set, Putnam calmly announces “We’re The Beatles,” before launching into the first noise orgy. Also, listen for an incredibly brief MC Hammer cover in their 7” split with Psycho.
The many albums featured in this set are filled with songs that come as very brief, assaulting blasts with little semblance of form or rhythm. Songs often begin with some heavy, slow chords, and soon after explode into hellish chaos accompanied by Putnam’s varied guttural noises. This may last for around thirty seconds, and then they’ll launch into another one that’s basically indistinguishable from the last. But that’s the point: to make songs that are anti-everything that would typically constitute a song. If there were ever a sudden-death match between a dinosaur and Satan himself, the 5,643 EP might be what that sounds like. Anal Cunt’s early-day material is the most turbulent and cacophonous of their already extreme catalog, whereas later on the band began to incorporate more structure, riffs, and lyrics into their songs. While it is definitely an acquired taste sort of band in general, The Old Testament provides an extensive display of the infamous band’ most deviant and raw works-- you know, before they got all soft in later years.--Sarah Ruggiero
Tonight kicks off Lilia Halpern's Monday night residency at PA's Lounge this month. A veteran of the Boston music scene and founder of the band Incinerator, Halpern sat down with me last week for an interview.
Boston’s By The Throat’s four-song EP Riders of Boards provides standard fare for the mischievous skate punk. While they are self-advertised as hardcore punk, they can’t quite be categorized under the same umbrella as other current hardcore punk bands. Rather, their style is defined more by hardcore punk roots of the seventies and eighties-- they cite Minor Threat, Black Flag, and early Replacements among their musical influences.
But without getting too wrapped up in genre-labeling, rowdiness outweighs heaviness on Riders of Boards. The title track could very well be the theme song to a cross between Rocket Power and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles with its rampant, testosterone-pumping urgency and skate manifesto lyrics like “And if there’s a bowl we’re gonna carve it / And if I get air I gotta method.”
Besides shredding, their songs go into subject matter such as beer, challenging the status quo, and getting even. Indian Summer Revenge takes advantage of catchy guitar fills, but when the band members shout “We want revenge!” in unison, it doesn’t sound as viciously convincing as it could.
The biggest strength of these four tracks is in the band’s straightforward punk aggression, but there’s still room for them to go louder, harder, more distinct. While the lyrics seem a bit generic and under-developed, the three-chord energy works for them. The band members-- who go under the names of Biff, The Muscle, Brat, and Dimwit-- convened in 2010, bringing with them experience from various other punk outfits including The Dimwits, The Acro-Brats, Buried in Leather, and Blood Vessels. Riders of Boards is the follow-up to their self-produced EP One Good Night.--Sarah Ruggiero
I'm always impressed when I hear a band that knows exactly how, and when, to play their instruments. That may seem like an odd statement, but I'm sure everyone has heard those groups that feature three-minute mediocre guitar solos and a slightly off-time rhythm section. Lowman's newest release, EP!, reflects expert musicianship and a knowledge of that elusive art of knowing when -not- to play. The lead guitar knows exactly how to complement the overall sound of the album, while also recognizing when it is appropriate to wail for a few seconds. I particularly enjoyed the opening track, "Balloon Boy," with its Spoon/Ben Folds piano-driven influence. Two other versions of the same song are included on EP!, "Balloon Boy (reprise)" and "Balloon Boy (full length)." I thought that the full length version was the most dynamic, with an extended guitar solo bleeding into total chaos at its conclusion as the entire band enters into full-on freak-out mode. Overall, I found Lowman's EP! to be quite an entertaining collection of songs. If you like hearing bands that really play as a cohesive unit (as opposed to four or five guys separately rockin' out), you'll love what Lowman has created. --Daniel McMahon