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A Heart is a Spade: Xiu Xiu Debuts New Video
A Heart is a Spade: Xiu Xiu Debuts New Video


November 2013
Wooden Shjips
"Back to Land
"
mp3

Hailing from San Francisco, psychedelic group Wooden Shjips, has just released their newest album Back to Land. The album brings together a sound crafted from inspirations that range from psychedelic music to classic rock.

The album is an entire trip in itself.  One can hear hints of 80s music, classic rock, and modern garage rock styles in the record, but they always resolve back to their classic psychedelic sound. With tracks like “In The Roses,” which brings a very spacey, low volume vocals, and a lo-fi sound that is not too cheesy or under produced. to “Ghouls,” which is a much faster, much more psychedelic rock sounding song that takes influences from classic rock guitar chords, while still utilizing classic psychedelic synthesizers.

Most songs on the album carry a jam-band sound, without becoming too abstract or getting too carried away. And in some cases, the music is so vast in genre diversity, one is surprised at the resulting sound, such as in the track, “These Shadows”, which starts off with an extremely catchy intro guitar riff and carries a vague David Bowie meets Velvet Underground sound.

“Back to Land” is a great piece of work that utilizes the potential of each member of Wooden Shjips effectively and thoroughly.

Most importantly, “Back to Land” is an experimentation of how far the psychedelic genre can stretch while still successfully staying true to its roots.


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Absolute Flavor -- 1000 Years of War

Some music is characterized by a seamless fusion of subtle musical influences that, in the end, makes for a style unlike any of its constituent parts.  That is not the case with Allston avant-rap group Absolute Flavor's new LP, 1000 Years of War.  On the album, rather than achieving a unique sound by the elegant appropriation of small bits and pieces of different genres, the group instead makes its mark by mashing together the loudest and most obvious parts of those different genres, frankensteining together an album that encompasses a crazed and harsh landscape of sound. 

Flavor is set up as a three-emcee rap group, though at points they depart completely from anything related to hip-hop.  Their sound alternately bears resemblance to the following, among others: Metallica, Beck, Deltron 3030, Dr. Octagon, Dan Deacon, Plastic Beach, Black Moth Super Rainbow, and, at least for a couple songs, Tom Waits. The group jumps schizophrenically between these hugely varying styles on twenty four (mostly short) tracks, which together amount to one exhausting assault of an album for the listener.  The only noticeable trend seems to be frequent, short rap verses, and a tendency to abruptly break into ejaculations of heavy metal, as if to perform a rude awakening after their tangents into mellow electronica, ambient noise, and standard rock may have lulled the listener into relaxation.  The group's prerogative seems to be to combine shock-value art with mutated forms of popular music's conventions, with the result being that some songs are perfectly nice and appealing to mainstream indie sensibilities; others are wholly grotesque; and most of them are somewhere on the scale in between the two extremes of taste. 

There’s a loose, largely nonsensical lyrical theme involving apocalypse, consumerism, robots, etc. (i.e. Deltron, Plastic Beach) and sadistic, almost sci-fi sexism (i.e. Dr. Octagon) but it does not govern the overall effect of the album, as the huge instrumentation and production establishes dominance over the literary facet almost immediately. The rapping itself is highly varied in content and quality -- unsurprising since it's a project of three musicians who profess not to even like rap music, or listen to it very much.  At times they range into an affected "non-rap" style that recalls current-day avant-garde rappers like Lil B.  Other times they throw down solid verses that are clearly the result of some study of great rap and its best practices.  Other times it's unclear what is happening.  One thing that does become clear, though, early in the album, is that it's not music that is intended to be considered by the normal standards of hip-hop.  Rather it uses the act of "rapping" in its most narrow, stripped down definition -- removed (not fully, but as much as is possible) of its obvious cultural connections and connotations -- as a tool by which to pry into other styles of music and see what happens when they mix. 

The album is definitely worth hearing just for the novelty of its ambition, peculiarity, and unapologetic intensity.  But for a listener who typically gets off listening to music that can be described as "difficult," 1000 Years of War might be a sublime aural event that breaks new ground at the intersection of avant-garde insanity and established musical foundations.  Or it might just be offensive.  Better just to try it out and see.

--Alexander Pinto


CBOP, SUNRAM, New Rock Syndicate (fr. Japan), Major Stars -- Tonight 9/12 @ Precinct

Head over to Precinct in Somerville's Union Square tonight for a night of face-melting experimental psych rock. Local super-group Concord Ballet Orchestra Players will kick off the night followed by SUNRAM (they were the deli's artist of the month in July). Then from Japan, there's the latest project by Masami Kawaguchi: New Rock Syndicate. Last, but not least, expect to be blown away by Boston's Major Stars.

Concord Ballet Orchestra Players (playing first at 8:30)

SUNRAM (members of Ghost Box Orchestra)

New Rock Syndicate (Masami Kawaguchi of Miminokoto, Broom Dusters, LSD March, etc.)

Major Stars (headlining, pictured above)

This is a 21+ event. Admission is $7 and doors are at 8pm.

--Chrissy Prisco


The Wandas -- S/T

The Wandas have just released their second major studio release. On it, they subtly alternate from alt-country shuffles overlaid with pop-rock the way Wilco used to do it back in the day, to more driven straight rock-piano-pop songs that sound quite a bit like most of the rock bands that have achieved pop superstardom in the last ten years or so. They can come off as a bit world-weary, lovelorn, and reflective, but the overall emotional take away from the album is not entirely a sad one.

At this point in the band’s career, musicianship is no longer a question. They have achieved national recognition and plaudits from serious critics, especially for their live act, which is telling of the band’s skill. Their harmonies are pretty as any being written in current rock music and their melodies do exactly what melodies are supposed to: grab initially, appeal intensely, and stick in one’s head. Each of the eleven songs on this album has a standalone quality that would seem to make choosing one release as a single an extremely difficult task.

But given that success, one must also consider the larger artistic goals of the band, rather than focus on the merits of their playing, which is so clearly and easily laudable. One such goal seems to be to foster a theme musical restraint. For players that are quite obviously at the top of their respective games, in writing ability and playing ability and as a cohesive playing unit, the album is remarkably drawn back. (The only exception being the lengthy guitar solo that comprises the second half of the album’s longest, and penultimate, track, Abandon Ship. In terms of pure rock quality, it’s the most exciting part of the album.) It could be their pop prerogative to stay within the bounds of radio friendly songs, but even their closest musical relation, the early Wilco, would let it rip for songs like Casino Queen as they mixed in their ballady country songs. While Wandas’ meticulous neatness has a certain appeal in a Beatles-y “this song is PERFECT!” way, it also risks adding sterility in the context of present day, when by now lots of good bands have been there, done that. Wandas are unquestionably a powerful pop-rock force who could very well break into the main-mainstream, but they would do well to step outside of the parameters they seem to have set for themselves and let the music itself more dramatically reflect the heart-strung emotions of the lyrics and singing, embellishing and adding to them rather than merely complementing.

I’d recommend the album, but I do believe that it’s only a matter of time before everyone will be hearing it.

--Alexander Pinto


Ketman Farewell Show -- Saturday, 9/10 @ Great Scott

Ketman are saying farewell to their friends and fans this Saturday, September 10 at Great Scott. They want to go out with a bang and what better way than to share the stage with a line-up of other amazing local bands? Opening up the night will be Banditas, next up is Battle House, then Ho-Ag (who have not played in a year and a half) will take the stage. Last, but not least, Ketman will take to the stage for the final time.

As a thank-you to their fans, Ketman have released a free retrospective compilation via their bandcamp (or listen to it below).

This show is an 18+ event, starts at 9pm and is $9.

--Chrissy Prisco


Hurricane Irene Vermont Disaster Relief Fund Benefit Concert and Silent Auction 9/11 @ Precinct

Nectar’s Presents: Hurricane Irene Vermont Disaster Relief Fund Benefit Concert and Silent Auction. The event takes place this Sunday, September 11, at Precinct in Somerville's Union Square.

100% of the proceeds will benefit Vermont Disaster Relief Fund. The Vermont Disaster Relief Fund was created by the United Ways of Vermont in cooperation with the executive board of the Vermont Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (Vermont VOAD) and Vermont Emergency Management (VEM) to be used specifically for long term recovery.  The United Ways of Vermont is the fiscal agent for the fund.  Expenditures from the fund will be used 100% for the unmet long term needs of survivors from the Irene disaster, and decisions will be made by Long Term Recovery Committees recognized by VOAD and Vermont Emergency Management.

For more information on the Vermont Disaster Relief Fund, or to donate online, go to http://www.vermont211.org/

The line-up of performers for the day is as follows:
4-4:30pm    - Liz Parmalee
4:45-5:15pm    - Autumn Hollow Band
5:30-6pm    - The Shadow Waltz
6:15-6:45pm    - The Flo
7-7:30pm    - Adela & Jude
7:45-8:15pm    - Po Boyz
8:30-9pm    - The Hornitz
9:15-9:45pm    - Lovewhip?
10-10:30     - Kieran Ridge Band
10:45-11:15    - The Day’s Weight
11:30-12am    - The Rationales (pictured above)

Cost:
Suggested Donation of $10 admission
Tickets will be available in a variety of increments starting at $10 through ticketfly.com.

Silent Auction via Robert from Precinct Bar (to donate items please contact Robert via e-mail.

--Chrissy Prisco


Deli Presents: Leon Rich, Mango Floss, Louder My Dear, Straight to VHS -- Tonight @ PA's Lounge

Head out to PA's Lounge in Somerville's Union Square tonight for a night of fun local music brought to you by the Deli Magazine New England.

The line-up is as follows:

9pm -- Leon Rich (solo acoustic set) (MA)

10pm -- Mango Floss (ME)

11pm -- Louder My Dear (MA)

12am -- Straight to VHS (CT)

This is a 21+ event. Doors at 8pm, $7

--Chrissy Prisco


Baby Barnyard -- Home Recordings

By the time I was done listening to Baby Barnyard’s 6-track compilation, Home Recordings, I was upset with myself. I was unable to recall many specific moments, not because it is stark, but rather it was so easy for me to get lost in thought, which I guess is the purpose of the genre “dream-pop.” However, upon second listen, I prepared myself and fought the urge to drift off to god knows where and listen closely. What was initially an endless pool of ambient layers started to sound like what it really is: a beautiful and floating concoction of slow, moody guitars with distant, sweeping vocals.

Baby Barnyard, the project of singer and songwriter Amanda Freeman, weaves in and out of dream-like trances seamlessly. The album starts with the track Uncertain Principle. The warmth of Amanda’s vocals panning from side to side sends chills down my spine as the guitars scratch and flutter. But just as your eyelids will begin to weigh down, the bittersweet third track Cloudy chimes in as Amanda begins with the hook, “down, up, down, up, up, down, up.” The minimalist song structure is reminiscent of the band Atlas Sound combining a beautiful and catchy vocal melody with simple acoustic guitar and synth, paradoxically instilling feelings of unconditional nostalgia and anticipation.

The album of home recordings is sure to be a great starting point for the talented musician. It will definitely stick with me after my initial lapse in focus. At times catchy, at times captivating, and always flowing. However, my one criticism, no matter how well it flows and grabs you, there feels like there is just a little something missing making it great. Then again, these are just home recordings, so, with that said, I’m more than excited to see her next step and if that next step will make room for Baby Barnyard to grab hold of the monopoly bands such as Beach House and Deerhunter hold on the genre.

--Michael D Giordano


Deli New England EXCLUSIVE: The Hush Now -- "Memos" MP3 Stream

The Deli Magazine New England is eager to present to you, Memos, the title track off the highly anticipated upcoming album, Memos, by Boston's The Hush Now. The album, slated to be released Tuesday, September 27th, is a departure from the band's previous sound. With line-up changes, stylistic changes and just the expected changes that come with growing older and wiser, what comes through is the clarity and honesty with which the band see themselves. Click below to stream, exclusively, the title track. As an added bonus, click here to read Andrew Jeromski's review of The Hush Now's performance at Great Scott on 8/12/2011.

The Hush Now -- Memos

--Chrissy Prisco


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