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Blue Mermaid, Portsmouth,

Ben Alexander and Kevin Lucey start
playing to a full house of people finishing up dinner and others sipping
and slugging their first beer of the night. I can tell these guys are
two separate acts who are supporting each other. They’re playing an
easy-going folk style, kinda like a mellow Arlo Guthrie. Kevin is the
more serious of the two—Ben sometimes goes for the easy laugh. They
bring up Julie Alexander to do some singing (yep—she’s Ben’s sister)
on “Baby I Love You” (should I be worried about incest?). The audience
is extremely attentive, listening closely to the somber “Shady Grove”
and “Train Bound for Heartache.” Sister Julie comes up again being
followed by another Julie (Zook) on violin. The two Julies sing
excellently together on a Latino number sung in Spanish—then the Zook
Julie follows it up with another Spanish song—it’s like someone
accidentally sat on the remote and switched us to the Spanish channel.
The audience lavishes them with praise.

The last time I was up in Portsmouth
I saw a radio station advertising in the local weekly listing their
top ten and Peter Moore’s CD was number three. Despite that, the beer
drinkers are growing louder. When Peter’s not playing in Count Zero,
he does his solo thing on piano and bass drum. Peter is a superb musician
and tonight he shows that he also knows his way around a crowd. He nonchalantly
introduces himself—“Hi, I’m Peter. What’s your name?” and
proceeds to run though tunes from his award-winning solo release,
One Ride
. I’m use to hearing the full arrangement production of
songs like “I Know Someone Who Wants You,” Sister Sunshine” and
“If Heaven Ever Knew,” so they come off pretty raw, counting more
on Peter’s loose, yet superb, technical execution, than the lavish
treatment they get in the studio. He throws in some newer and older
songs, “Vacuum Cleaner” and “Here Comes Another Day.” The former
is derived from Plato’s Republic, in which it’s believed
we’re all living in a cage and that very few ever get out. The latter,
written in 1987, although one of the most memorable of the night, is
nothing like the band he was in at the time (Think Tree). “Shock of
the New” displays Peter’s ability to play the roles of different
characters in the same song. He ends with “The Romance” from
One Ride
, where he puts a tambourine on the floor to add that ever-needed
snare hit on two and four. Ultimately, Peter Moore is worth driving
over an hour for—One Ride is worth even more. (T


The Middle East Downstairs,
Cambridge, MA

The Crash Kings feature brothers Tony
and Mike Beliveau from Andover, MA who, not too long ago, moved to L.A.
and have been creating a pretty big buzz in the music scene. Their song
“It’s only Wednesday” just appeared in the movie Zombieland
and even more recently, grunge-god, Chris Cornell joined them on stage
to perform a version of Black Sabbath’s “War Pigs.” The music
is upbeat and surprisingly dense for just a three piece. The beats are
heavy enough to make John Bonham proud. The club is packed to the gills
and the crowd loves every minute of it. While the Crash Kings play a
style of high energy, metal-infused rock, the really neat thing is that
they don’t have a guitar, even though it sounds as if Eddie Van Halen
himself was onstage shredding away. Instead, Tony Beliveau does it all
on an instrument called a clavinet, a keyboard instrument that has strings
like a guitar braced by a metal arm that serves to bend the strings,
much like a Floyd Rose or a whammy bar. Pretty cool. Its good to see
when a couple of local boys do good. (Kier Byrnes)


The Cantab, Cambridge,

I figured I was overdue
for some local music, so I went to the Cantab for a Neon Nite show.
Waiting for the first band, I recognized the Dawgs playing on the house
system, and asked Mickey Bliss about it. Turns out it was an advance
CD, but also he said Phil Haynen had passed away recently. Sorry
to hear that.

Up first are the Varmints,
whom I don’t get to see very often and always enjoy. Billy Borgioli
and Fred Evicci aptly handle their Gibsons, Dan McCarthy slams the Ludwigs,
and Josh Bloomer rocks on bass. They’re out of the gate with
“Boston Cream,” “Talk Talk,” “Rosalita,” and old chestnuts
“Open Season,” “Baby’s Off Her Rocker,” “Don’t Make Me
Wait.” Very cool set.

Corolla DeVille has
songs written by Phil Haynen (“Heartbeat” and the newer “Telephone”),
that complement their own. Rock chicks Lisa Conolly, Betsy Sears, and
Cindy Bugden sound more polished every time I see them. Their
fill-in drummer, Poppy Seed (Psychedelic Relics), cruises through “Junkyard
DeVille” and “Lady Kenmore.” They’re talkin’ about the North
Shore (my neighborhood) in “Pink Triple Decker.” People are
sayin’ Lisa’s vocals are impressive.

The third slot brings
the latest version of Kenne Highland, and it’s starting to heat up
in this little cellar. Early numbers include “Empty Heart”
(old Stones), an old Creedence song, and then come some Kenne originals.
Standouts include “She’s My Best Bette” and “She’s My Aquarian
Angel.” He turns the mic over to Mo on guitar and Jo on tambourine
(get it, MoJo working) for a few tunes, including “These Boots Were
Made for Walkin’” and Big Brother’s “Piece of My Heart” before
closing with a Dylan/Hendrix medley.

I decide to hang out
for the last group, Port Charles Quintet, and I’m glad I do. I recognize
Cam Ackland (ex-Prime Movers) and I’m happily surprised that he’s
fronting this band with Dennis McCarthy on drum kit. Cam still sounds
great and soon the floor is hopping with what cougars remain here. High-energy
originals give way to a walloping version of the Remains’ “Why Do
I Cry.” Also sprinkled in is “Government Center” by Jonathan Richman.

Hats off to Nancy Neon
and Mickey Bliss for keeping the old school- style Boston rock shows
going. I feel recharged as I hit the expressway north and head home.
(Steve Martel)


Studio 99, Nashua,

From Georgetown, MA,
I drive to Nashua, NH, via Cambridge, MA (to attend Asa Brebner’s
art show opening at Passim) and poor planning lands me about 20 minutes
late for Studio 99’s early starting time of 7:00. I stroll into a
medium-size room with folding chairs covering two-thirds of the space;
the other third is the stage area. On the stage side sit two guitarists,
spread out about 10 feet apart, performing “Ashland,” a mellow Jeff
Beck-like instrumental. There’s no singing here. On left is Jimmy
Gaudette, playing his ’56 natural sunburst Gibson ES125 hollow body
with F holes, and on the right is Mike Loce on a ’71 Les Paul Recording—a
guitar that has as many switches and knobs as a cockpit. These guys
are both above-excellent guitarist. They swing into “Red River Valley”—though
they call it “Merrimack River Rock.” The show is a study in pure
guitar sounds. They close the show with covers of Gordon Lightfoot’s
“Sundown” and the Ventures’ “Walk Don’t Run.” I think I
have to go home now and work on my guitar skills.

Okay, I decide to stay to see Kate Taylor, who also performs tonight
as a duet with Billy Derby—another guitarist who puts me in awe of
his playing. Kate plays an acoustic in most of her songs too, but, when
she doesn’t, Billy has no fear in taking solos that leave wide-open
space for you to feel the beat—not as easy as it sounds. Kate is a
wonderful storyteller between songs—her daughter pleaded with her
not to play “Don’t Break Two Hearts” before her wedding—the
opening line is “Stop the wedding!” She learned about carny barking
at the Martha’s Vineyard annual agricultural fair and found it a place
full of romance to be had. The title of her latest CD is Fair Time,
and she plays the title track. She and Billy do almost all their recording
in Billy’s home studio in Bedford, NH. One highlight is their
soul groovin’ version of Ike Turner’s “You’re Just a Fool”—made
for a duet to sing. Kate tells a touching story before “Red Tail,”
a song about her late husband, Charlie Witham, and the embodiment of
his spirit in the red tail hawk, who would circle the sky during family
occasions. With “Soap Opera Life” and “King of the Pond” the
story telling is as much a part of the show as the musical performance.
After the duet ends with “Auld Lang Syne,” Kate heads right into
the small audience and chats with everyone individually. This was a
very special night. (T Max)


The Middle East, Cambridge, MA

This is my second trip
to Radar Recordings’ Last Night on Earth show, this year being their
seventh. These shows are always a who’s who of Boston’s experimental
and instrumental scene, and I’ve got high expectations.

Animal Hospital, Kevin
Micka’s one-man band, takes the stage. There’s about two thirds
of a drum set in front of him as well as a folding table that’s buckling
slightly from the weight of all the effects pedals and loop stations.
A white sheet is hanging behind him, and a camera is pointed towards
his rig of effects, providing a cool real-time video projected behind
him. He grabs his guitar and blankets the crowd with layered textures
and ethereal soundscapes, reminiscent of Brian Eno or Hammock. The crowd
is having trouble getting into the ambient stuff. About halfway through
his set he introduces more beats, and the crowd is starts to dig it.
He loops drums and builds guitar harmonies on top, creating a wall of
sound that is impressive for a one-man band. Animal Hospital seems to
be more on the side of performance art, but it’s well done.

Doomstar! is a change
of pace for sure. They’ve got a big sound for three guys, and their
energy is huge. Surf-rock drums pound through every track and the bass
thumps on every beat. The crowd really gets into it, even though the
band is not what anyone expected. The vocals have lots of “woo-hoo’s”
and “eh-oh’s,” and everyone in the club bobs their heads and smiles.
Their sound is hard to put a finger on, something like a mix between
the Hives and the Surfaris, maybe with some early REM. It’s original,
whatever it is, and I like it a lot. Their energy is unwavering, and
they break in the set only once to coordinate a shot or two. They’ve
got a very genuine vibe to their music and performance. They seem out
of place on the bill at first, but by the end of their set everyone
seems glad they got to meet Doomstar!

Constants, the band
in charge of Radar Recordings and the Last Night on Earth event, take
the stage to big hometown applause. They’ve been whittled down to
a three piece since their first album, but they’re still one of the
louder bands in Boston. Their echoed guitar riffs are a good base for
the songs, and their overall compositions are progressive without sounding
arrogant. Will Benoit provides smoky vocals that seem to be just out
of reach, almost in the back of the mix. Phil Jamieson from Caspian
joins the trio on stage for a song, adding to the incredible volume.
Did I mention it’s loud? At times, there are long instrumental breaks
in their songs that develop into well-crafted grooves. They play with
a good energy and seamlessly transition into complex time signatures
without sounding awkward. They end their set with the thunderous “Passage”
and have the whole crowd swaying and nodding their heads, this being
their heaviest song of the night.

It’s almost midnight
when Caspian packs onto the stage. With three guitarists, a bass player,
and drums, Caspian seem to be the only band in Boston to top Constants’
volume. They start their set off huge, building up melodies and harmonies
with their three guitars. Caspian is all-instrumental, but their songs
don’t seem to have much room for vocals anyway. Their touring guitarist,
Jonny Ashburn, steps onto the stage halfway through for a song. That’s
four guitars, for those of you counting at home. They build up giant
walls of sound, and knock them back down again with well-written interludes
and touching melodies. As they play, it becomes more and more apparent
that Caspian is no one trick pony and their songs are more than just
gigantic crescendos. They end their set by looping harmonies on top
of one another, and then putting away their guitars in exchange for
snare drums. The song slowly fades out and finishes off with a five-man
drum solo—it’s something to be seen for sure. (Alex


Plough And Stars, Cambridge MA

Two days before Christmas
and I’ve already got my present. Yep, it’s true—much like the
universe itself, the Downbeat 5 are expanding! With Jenny Dee &
the Deelinquents traipsing all around these days, it’s only fair there
should be a JJ Rassler showcase–if only to maintain the delicate balance
of time/ space/ reality. Thee Cuban Heels are JJ (gee-tar and vocals),
Mike Yocco (bass and vocals), Jeff Norcross (drums) and Julian Hammond
(second guitar and vocals). Essentially the current DB5 line-up, in
other words. The sound however is something else—less a garage and
R&B cross pollination and more a mixture of a wide range of styles:
some soul-ish, some kinda jazz-ish, some country-ish and some beyond.
My pre-show expectations were that this would be a vehicle showing off
JJ’s spectacular rock ’n’ roll guitarsmanship, but instead it’s
a vehicle showing off his musical versatility (what
can’t he play?), and that’s a big surprise. Another
surprise is that while his vocals are perfectly capable, he relinquishes
half the lead vocal chores to Mike (who’s also fine here). There are
plenty of originals (one being a slow and sultry version of DB5’s
“Number One”) and plenty of amazing cover selections, too. As is
evident with both DB5 and thee Cuban Heels, nobody picks covers better
than JJ Rassler (okay, with the possible exception of Dave Edmunds).
Tonight for sheer coolness we’ve got “Tell Him” (original by ’60s
quasi-girl group the Exciters), and for pure obscurity we’ve got “Why
Don’t You Love Me” (from Alice Cooper’s first band, the Spiders!).
You can’t beat that! This is the band’s debut show, and it’s a
great start (Frank Strom)


Boston, MA

It’s a cold wintry night with the
first snow of the season. While some may choose to avoid the snow, a
crowd of souls dares to make their way to Copperfields in Kenmore Square,
heaving snowballs to and fro along the way in their quest to find pure
rock ’n’ roll. Inside the room is warm, the beers are cold and the
band is kickin’. Around the stage is a crew of dedicated fans of the
North Lot dancing and having an awesome time. There are a few diehards
that are even singing along with the lyrics. The music is a blend of
soul, funk, punk and more, a complete amalgamation of all things rock.
Accordingly, the band, like true professionals, delivers the up-tempo
rhythms and crystal perfect harmonies with guileless ease. There are
plenty of girls in the front that sure do look like they are appreciative.
The melodies fade from the amplifiers after the band plays its last
song with everybody eagerly looking forward to this group’s next performance.
(Kier Byrnes)

Pop Overthrow (day three)

Church, Boston, MA

This is the seventh
year that David Bash has held his International Pop Overthrow festival
in Boston. I moved here about 30 years too late, but the IPO gives me
a taste of a great era for music in Boston. The openers, the Bittersweets,
have returned to the stage after a fifteen-year hiatus.

As you can imagine,
the meeting of the minds of Sal Baglio and Jon Macey, the main men of
the Stompers and Fox Pass, yields shimmering pop with a dark underbelly.
While I’ve been a long time fan of Macey’s songwriting, there’s
something about working with Baglio that spurs Macey to new heights,
both musically and lyrically. The portraits that they carve are finely
chiseled. Their characters are deep thinkers and intense feelers who
have been sucked dry by love or addiction. Speaking of addiction, “Louie
Goes to the Rainforest In Search of God” is the most honest portrayal
of heroin addiction you are likely to hear.

Pastiche appeared on
my radar screen as early as 1976 with a cool pop-rock song, “Flash
of the Moment.” Tonight, three original members—Ken Scales (vocals),
Mr. Curt (guitar), and Ron Marrick (keyboards) are joined by Jim Clemens
(drums), Billy Carl Mancini (guitar), and Glenn Williams (bass). Pastiche
opens with the quirky pop perfection of “Psychoblonde” written by
Marc Thor and Nola Rezzo. Wow! It’s been decades since those two have
been blips on my radar. Just moments into the set, Scales proves himself
to be a dynamic performer. As I watch Scales, Danny Elfman of Oingo
Boingo comes to mind, but Scales comes off as just as dynamic, just
as theatrical, but much more authentic. As the 1980 WBCN Rumble winner,
Pastiche was very influential on local bands and the new wave scene
as a whole. My ears prick up to try to discern the lyrics in the Scales/Hallen
tune, “Terminal Barbershop” and the Curt Naihersey penned “Talk

When I see Anthony
Kaczyski in the audience, I think that he looks like a writer and/or
a film director. This doesn’t happen to me very often, but I’m thinking,
“This is someone I should know!” When Fireking takes the stage, I
notice that Anthony is the band’s singer/ guitarist. He has a Love
(as in the Arthur Lee group) sticker on his guitar and I say to Blowfish
Boston Groupie News) “That can’t be a bad sign!” The presence
of Fireking at IPO proves that the festival is not limited to pure pop
bands because Fireking is a kickass, ballsy power trio. Kacynski and
company are originally from Detroit and bring to mind the Stooges and MC5.
The bass player, Drew, provides the necessary sensual throb. Smitty,
the drummer, looks fantastic in his gigantic navy blue fez with its swaying
tassle. These guys have a different feel from the other bands except
1-4-5 and the Varmints with whom they felt a kinship. I can not only
imagine a Fireking/Varmints bill; I demand it!

It’s no secret that
I’m a long time admirer of Fox Pass. I’ve seen them evolve from
their hard rock phase in 1976 to their slick, variety show phase in
1977 to their return to their garage roots circa 1978. Back in the day,
Jon Macey always wanted a bass player like Steve Gilligan. Drummer Tom
Landers is a heavy hitter, a real team player that gives the band a
new energy. Macey and Michael Roy teamed up in the early seventies to provide
the band’s solid core. Tonight Fox Pass delivers a nice balance of
tunes from their self-titled debut album and their upcoming
“Fly Away From Me” is a poetic portrayal of unconditional love.
Roy sings lead on “Front Page Girl,” a real rave-up. “Downtown
Talk” is a fist-pumping anthem about addiction from Macey and Roy’s
stint in Tom Dickie & the Desires. Check out

Blowfish gives me some
background on 1-4-5, showing me some pix he took back in the day. It
takes me awhile to realize that I’m familiar with singer, guitarist
Paul Armstrong from the Syracuse power pop group, the Flashcues who
had a cut on the Bomp compilation
Waves. Ducky Carlisle, the drummer is a name I recognize
as the producer from the studio, Room 9 From Outer Space. It was also
a pleasant surprise to realize their bass player Dave is from the Riviera
Playboys from Rochester, NY. I like how their MySpace page describes
1-4-5 as “no bullshit rock ‘n’ roll with hooks.” Billy Varmint
comments on their strong driving beat and the cool sound that Armstrong
is wringing out of his guitar. These guys are avid Heartbreakers’ fans
and you can certainly hear that in their blasting guitar and machine
gun drums. They play all their crowd pleasers including “Let’s Groove,”
“Couldn’t Say No,” “Are You Ready,” and “Afterschool.”
Can’t wait to see 1-4-5 again!

Big City Rockers feature
original Atlantics members Tom Hauck and Fred Pineau. Blowfish enlightens
me that BCR are dong Atlantics material exclusively and “note perfect”
at that. Blowfish says that they succeed at recreating the Atlantics
experience. Patrick Moyihan, the bass player who has impressed me with
Two Saints and Tenafly Vipers, always brings the rawk!

The Stompers are up
next and judging from the crowd’s reaction, the band’s appearance
has been eagerly awaited. In the late ’70s/early ’80s when the new
wave bands were donning skinny ties, Sal Baglio and company were laying
down rootsy Americana rock ’n’ roll. The Stompers may get lumped
in with the Bruce Springsteen/John Cougar camp, yet Baglio’s pop songwriting
instincts have always been sharp. Baglio’s songs are well-crafted
and melodic. Moreover his onstage demeanor is the same as offstage—warm,
approachable, and real.When Baglio invites people onstage to sing along,
the stage is filled with members of Pastiche, Bird Mancini, Fox Pass,
Jetset, etc. The Stompers bring rock ’n’ roll to the party and they
bring the party to rock ’n’ roll. (Nancy Neon)

with JOE (Summer Villians)

Middle East
Christmas Party

Middle East Downstairs,
Cambridge, MA

Nabil and Joseph Sater
prove once again to be the most generous club owners in the area, throwing
a major party complete with food, drink, and entertainment for hundreds
of invited guests. After I wash down a healthy portion of Middle Eastern
cuisine, Three Day Threshold takes the stage with an extra member (Joe
from Summer Villains). Lead singer Kier Byrnes adorns a Santa hat and
is the perfect host asking the audience to give it up for Nabil and
Joseph and the entire staff of the Middle East. Then the band proceeds
to play an entire set of rootsy party songs from their holiday album—the
highlight being “I Want a Zoo For Christmas”—a
type song with all the
sounds of the animals—sort of a modern day “Old MacDonald”—and
I’m told there’s even an animated video of the song online!
Live, the band has help with all those animal sounds from three of Santa’s
sexiest helpers. These babes in red and white have the moves, the looks,
the acting, and I could go on and on about them, but I need to focus
on the band. Oh yeah, 3DT does one non-holiday song from their upcoming
Straight Outta the
—and that was “My
Favorite Titty Bar”! That must be where Kier picked up these Santa
Helpers—did I say they were sexy?! What a great way to get into the
holiday spirit.
(T Max)


Midway Café, Jamaica Plain, MA

Well, high fa lootin’,
root beer shootin’, sarsaparilla through the nose spouting—I am
indeed back, in resplendent, respectful Jamaica Plain at the plush very
exclusive nightclub known as the Midway. Just flew in to catch this
batch from Cali, jet setter that I am. Rotten Drunk is drumming for
a new band, the Doll’s Eyes, and Sarah, (who’s 6’9” in her heels)
bends down to give us big hugs, but jeepers creepers there’s a McGunk
with the drunk and that’s an extra special added plus! They make some
noise and it seems all right. Actually, the Irish/Punk influence of
the McGunks is more attuned to early ’80s English punk in the Doll’s
Eyes—at least that’s what Slimedog says. We both say it’s spiffy.

Next up are the Spoilers,
Slimedog’s favorite, but he’s passed out vomiting on his knees in
the men’s room stall, head passed out against the bowl while other
patrons are pissing on him. So let’s just say he would’ve had a
much better time seeing this band. They rock, they punk, they rule!

Then it’s this 007
Hundred Club band that is made up of secret spies or agents or something.
They play noise like the other bands but actually sound like they’re
playing the same song at the same time! This is something I believe
all the bands should do. But really they are very tight and energetic
and put on the best performance of the night. Meanwhile club owner Dangerous
Dave is shooting plastic missiles at unsuspecting patrons and feeding
them psychedelic mushrooms grilled outside. Is there no method to his

Next a raffle happens
and Rotten Drunk is wearing tie-dyed pants and Slimedog’s piss-encrusted
face is pried from the toilet. Andy Slimedog is due back at the prostrate
replacement plant—he works the night shift at so we must leave post
haste. Catch a few tunes by Drago who meld hardcore, punk and what’s
dripping from under the kitchen sink into a totally putrid decaying
piece of cancerous flesh and somehow metamorphose it into a pleasing,
delectable morsel for the palette. Ooh, what exquisite taste!

Hugs and kisses to
all you wonderful punks holding up the morals and fiber or our great
prostitution. You make me proud to be a former illegal alien. This was
truly a life affirming musical experience tonight. I could only compare
it to Andrea Bocelli’s Christmas album—high praise indeed! Slimedog
with his vomit and piss-dripping face can only nod in total agreement,
too. Good doggie! (Mrs. Slimedog)


Zombie Apocolypse

Copperfield’s, Boston,
MA 12/4/09

Cool. Cool. Cool. Just
a block out of Kenmore Square, this semi-known hotspot hosts Dark Sky
Productions’ great night featuring three newer bands and the iconic
intensity of Liz Borden’s latest project. Estranged play original
alternative rock and do crafty covers of Scorpions and Foo Fighters
songs: followed by Rocket Rocket, a grunge band in the vein of Stone
Temple Pilots and Soundgarden. They do covers of “Psycho Killer”
and an artsy Doors’ song that are powerful—they set the crowd up
for local legend Liz Borden. By this time, the club has a nice crowd
and when long time scenester sisters Karen and Nancy Greene settle in,
everyone is ready to rock ’n’ roll. The band does songs from their
current CD,
Beautiful, and also includes tunes scheduled for their
next CD, due out in March. The song “Bang Bang” has all of what
you’d expect from one of Liz’s songs: a great, memorable hook sung
in her best sincere (insincere?) vocals. The band also does a great
and timely version of Creedence’s anti-war anthem “Who’ll Will
Stop the Rain?” that goes over well with the audience. And last, the
IZA closes the night with their fast-paced alternative rock/punk. Dark
Sky’s owner Anderson Mar (former Skybar booker/Paul Green School of
Rock G.M.) reminds me about the IZA: “They don’t do any covers,
they just write songs about zombies.” A great club. A great night.
A great show. (AJ Wachtel)



Copperfield’s, Boston

Bulletbreed is my main
reason for coming to Copperfield’s tonight, after weeks of e-mailing
back and forth with them, so I’ve been looking forward to this for
a long time.

Atlas Soul mixes North African and Middle Eastern tunes to the evening.
Sax and trombone solos create some jazz, making a mix that the audience
can’t help but groove to, and a few band members take a break to get
the dancing under-way. These guys don’t just play for the audience,
they engage them, a trait the separates the great musicians from the
good ones. Lyrics aren’t required here—the music itself is enough,
and once the set is over I make my way up to the stage to snag a CD.

This is a hell of a mix considering what’s next. Atlas Soul is flow
and grace, where Bulletbreed, the new heavy metal venture from members
of Never Enough Bullets and the New Breed, is the musical juggernaut
of the night. They draw in the crowd as much as Atlas Soul did, but
for a very different reason. For bands like this I have to get right
up to the stage, earplugs firmly in place, because I know I’ll be
deaf by dawn if I don’t. They blast the audience, then take things
down a rung with some more mellow tunes, the go right back to the blasting.
These guys are currently in the studio working on their new album, and
you can bet I’ll be one of the first to get it.

The Turkeys… hell, I don’t know what these guys are, but they end
the show on a great note. From the faded Ouija board used as a set decoration
to the old rotary phone reborn as a microphone, these guys are a whole
’nother bird. The pace of this six-piece rock band is fast, the lyrics
angry, but I don’t get any real malice from the Turkeys, more of a
sarcastic mocking of the world as we know it. The crowd is thinning
out at this point, but those remaining get right up to the stage. Vocalist
Flagg asks the crowd to help name the songs during the set, while Wes
Brooks does “all sorts of crap,” rocking the flute, trumpet, and
saxophone. The music’s great and even better, the band
sounds like they’ve gone clear around the bend. I like it. (Max Bowen)


Johnny D’s, Somerville,

Tripping Lily is an
attractive four-piece acoustic folk group without a trace of jaded attitude.
The Becrelis brothers, Demetrius and Alex, supply guitar, uke, mandolin,
and vocals; Laird Boles moves the bottom around with his double bass,
and the pretty Monica Rizzio adds charm, vocals, violin, and uke. The
band sings lovely together—soft cool melodies and harmonies. The musical
accompaniment is gentle. The band enjoys watching movies and sometimes
writes songs during TV commercials. “I’m Sorry,” in melody, harmony,
and arrangement, reminds me of the Roches in their serious mode. The
band, using the gather-round-one-mic performance method is easy on the
ears. Their songs have a fresh quality with unexpected rhythmic and
melodic turns to keep me paying attention. They end with “Little Black
Dress,” a bluegrass hopper with the intent to leave the audience on
a high note, but their gentle songs come across stronger. They join
arms and take a Beatlesque bow.

Time for the Chandler Travis Philharmonic—and I know to expect musical
tomfoolery packaged in pajama robes and funny headwear. Chandler takes
the stage in a white suit (!) and a tall grey hat. The scruffy bearded
performer gently sings what could be a new Randy Newman tune (it’s
not). He plays his guitar ever so easy, with keys and double bass sticking
right with him. With each passing song, more musicians advance
on the stage until the Philharmonic totals eight. These guys, who look
like the tripping homeless, know how to play without stepping on Chandler’s
gentle touch—a feat a lot tougher than they allow you to perceive.
Chandler claims to be apolitical but uses Obama’s name in a song,
because “it’s a good-sounding name.” “Ticky Don’t Do That”
bounces with the catchiest of melodies. The three-piece horn section
(the June Trailer Dancers) is especially amusing with each player acting
out his own theatrical minor masterpiece. Ah, let’s not forget drummer
Rikki Bates—now she may be the most curious character with a constant
crazed smile that glares right through her drum set. Chandler changes
into his more customary pajama robe (with aid from his singing valet)
and does a little magical miming on the dance floor with his wizard’s
wand. Then he changes to a gold glitter jacket with complimentary Egyptian
gladiator Viking tribal headwear (I think he later told me it was an
Hawaiian wedding crown)—it’s as if a little acid was slipped into
Johnny D’s water tonight—mind you the band’s sound reflects these
images at times. But to give the music a little more reasonable explanation—take
one-half Randy Newman, one-quarter Ray Davies, one-quarter George Carlin
and mix them into the Mardi Gras. But would that make you think of a
solemn rendition of “Bring Back My Bonnie to Me”? There’s a lot
of contradiction going on and a massive amount of variety. Chandler
ends with “Good Bye,” allowing us to reflect on the strange mix
of the whole evening. Oh wait, it’s not over—time to feature the
keys in a rousing Broadway-type show stopper—and then another—one
of my favorites—“How Do You Keep Your Hair So Fluffy?” that may
sound as if Chandler is complimenting his wife—but it’s a song about
his dog. Woo—two and a half hours just slipped by and it felt like
a half-hour set—how many bands do you know that could pull that off?
(T Max)


T.T. the Bears, Cambridge

With a current plague
of disbanding bands reaching critical proportions these days, it’s
nice seeing Killer Abs soldiering on despite the loss of guitarist Michelle.
Not every show is consistently
“wow” (bands that pull that off are the exception, not the rule), but most
of ’em are at least consistently “
yee-haw.” Tonight the Abs are definitely on—probably
drawing energy from the sizable audience, which is tailor-made receptive
for their material. A punk-rock jukebox of covers, they’ve got a cherry-picked
selection of the best material possible, guaranteed to be crowd-pleasing
(they’re your perfect party band). Frontlady Killer Cara has vocals
that are suitably professional, but at the same time have fan-just-having-fun
qualities, which really make them appealing. Time for some original
material, says I—they’re more than up for it.

Old local faves the Cretins continue on in that big tempo/big melody
punk-rock stuff. I’m not 100 percent certain if they’d officially
disbanded or not sometime along the way, so this could well be a comeback
for them (and if not, then they haven’t played much lately). Looks
like previous line-ups with Dilan on vocals and AJ (ex-Mission 120)
on drums—not sure about the bassist, so apologies! They sound sharp,
even playing my favorite from their catalogue—the tragic love lost
tune “Strawberry Trees.” Good stuff.

Bit of confusion on my part regarding the next band—my ears heard
“the Throwaways” and my brain translated it as “the Leftovers.”
Duh. Definitely not the Leftovers! Coming to us from the cold
rocky shores of Maine, the Throwaways remind, me a lot of one of the
first modern era West Coast punk bands, Sweet Baby—fast and loud but
also very chipper and jovial. Y’know, the sorta thing that makes those
hardcore creeps say, “That’s not punk!” It
is, of course, so fuck them.

Before the set, Joe Q fills me in on the deal: “This is our pop
tour.” I am confused no end. This is punk rock—that’s pop-derived
music! If it wasn’t, we’d have a shitload of skinheads and skateboarders
on our hands. The Queers’ “pop” set includes practically everything
you’d expect from their
non-pop set (“Love Love Love,” “Granola
Head,” “Noodlebrain,” etc) and caps off with a brief wimpy set
of early hardcore material, which is of course as melodic a take on
hardcore as you’ll ever hear. My issues are with terminology and the
tired old punk vs. pop vs. hardcore dispute—no problems with the band
the set, which is one of the best sounding Queers sets in a long time.
Everybody wins! (Frank Strom)

Precinct, Somerville,

If you plan to celebrate
Sunday Funday right, there’s only one place to end up: Precinct in
Union Square. Of course, Precinct is a great night any night of the
week, with great food and great bands, but tonight is extra special,
with the Seamonsters on stage, as they continue their ongoing Sunday
night residency. Tonight Jesse Dee, another stellar frontman, is tag-teaming
on vocalist duties alongside Christian McNeil. The lineup is a little
different than the review I had written about this band in the last
issue of The Noise, but equally as impressive. As the grooves are laid
out, the crowd collects in front of the stage like moths drawn to a
streetlamp. I too, find myself hypnotized by the rhythmic beats and
the nasty jams. In no time at all, I find myself joining the sea of
Sunday Funday Seamonster fans. There ain’t no better way to lose the
Sunday blues when you party with the Seamonsters. (Kier Byrnes)


The Middle East Downstairs,
Cambridge MA

It’s a Saturday night
and in the dimly lit downstairs of the Middle East, fans are already
piling in to see Mrs. Danvers. I am skeptical about the music a self-proclaimed
lesbian band will bring to the stage—too many bands focus on what
they are instead of their music—but by the end of their first song,
the band has more than changed my mind. Mrs. Danvers’ strangely alluring
frontwoman, Ann Driscoll, kicks off the set with the catchy and upbeat
“Trophy Fuck” to cheers from the audience. Within seconds the 30
feet in front of the stage has turned into one big dancing mess. The
five-piece band is comprised entirely of Berklee students, so you can
rest assured that the music Mrs. Danvers is providing isn’t just pop-rock,
but pop-rock with style. Throughout the set the band’s bassist, Dhyana,
her sweet Mohawk, and her five-stringed friend lay down bass lines that
lend each song decidedly funky undertones. In songs like “Wicked One,”
Randi from Alaska completes the band’s sound with trumpet lines ranging
from smooth and soulful to ska-like pump-ups. Mixing pop, rock, funk,
catchy melodies, fun lyrics, and an all-around cool image, Mrs. Danvers
plays a rocking show that ends all too fast. (Yon Dotan)


Church, Boston, MA

I walk into Church
and already a couple dozen people are there, though the show’s not
for another hour. Travis Deprey, the business manager for Stilrize,
greets me and tells me to expect around 250 people. 250 people! Unless
he has knowledge of bending space and time (or at least the fire codes),
I don’t see that happening. As showtime approaches, however, I see
I wasn’t lied to.

From the T-shirts and general attitude, it’s clear the crowd isn’t
there for the first act, Force the Fallen. They show some love, though,
and the band shows some back, joking that their song “Steamy Nights,”
is about their encounters with Stilrize. They’ve got good energy,
and I can’t help but laugh when lead singer Roger Hagopian jokes that
the story behind the song “I Deserve Better” is about his cat.

Stilrize takes the stage and the crowd loses it. Fists and hands fill
the air, and cameras flash so brightly I wonder which is going to go
first—my ears or my eyes. Eh, screw it, as long as I can hear I’m
set. Lead singer Andrew Deprey’s emotion rolls off every word during
songs like “Lonely Water,” and brothers Dan and Sean Timmins’
accompaniment on the bass and guitar, keep the crowd pumped, while drummer
Mike Ciera knocks me back 10 feet as he slams the drums. The crowd is
so packed I can’t get anywhere near the stage. As the set ends, the
crowd refuses to let the band leave, and Stilrize treats them to a new
song finished the previous day. Like they say, timing is everything.
(Max Bowen)

We get a lot of
calls and emails from bands requesting coverage of their live shows.
Please be advised that shows are never assigned for review. Noise writers
cover what they choose to attend. It’s logistically impossible for
us to honor or acknowledge these requests. The Noise has always had
its ears close to the ground in Greater Boston. If you’re doing something
even remotely exceptional, we’ll be the first to tell the world. If
you’re horrible, same thing.


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