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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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OTP -- Record Release at Middle East Up 9/9/2011

Local folk-punk act OTP headlined the Middle East upstairs last Friday night to celebrate the release of their new record, Where/We’re/Found, and regaled the surprisingly visceral crowd with some shiny new material. The album features 100 different album covers which were all colored in by mentally challenged adults, and was mixed and recorded by Luke Sullivan of Left Hand Does. The band shared the bill with Jay Knox Sherman, City of Squares, Adam and the Waxmen and Trebek, playing to a sizable crowd that seemed to be thoroughly enjoying themselves. While it’s pure folly to try and deduce who came to see who, one thing that I can state with absolute certainty, is that nobody left early.

Click here to read the rest of the OTP show review by Andrew Jeromski.


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OTP -- Record Release at Middle East Up 9/9/2011
- by Andrew Jeromski

Local folk-punk act OTP headlined the Middle East upstairs last Friday night to celebrate the release of their new record, Where/We’re/Found, and regaled the surprisingly visceral crowd with some shiny new material. The album features 100 different album covers which were all colored in by mentally challenged adults, and was mixed and recorded by Luke Sullivan of Left Hand Does. The band shared the bill with Jay Knox Sherman, City of Squares, Adam and the Waxmen and Trebek, playing to a sizable crowd that seemed to be thoroughly enjoying themselves. While it’s pure folly to try and deduce who came to see who, one thing that I can state with absolute certainty, is that nobody left early.

OTP is led by frontman Garrity Collins on lead vocals and guitar, Lincoln Smith on bass and Kevin Kupillas on drums. They’ve been around for a few years now, forming in 2007, and previously concocted several releases possessing a pleasant mix of intelligent, highly-personal lyrics and infectious, simple melodies tinged with a razor’s edge of punk aggression.

Many a band who fall under the dreaded folk-punk banner can hardly play their instruments—either through lack of any discernible musical ability or crippling chemical dependency. OTP—which may or may not actually stand for “off the porch”—displayed symptoms of neither aforementioned malady. Quite to the contrary. They showed a complete control over the chosen weaponry of their trade.

Frontmen in the folk-punk genre often fall into the “yells really loud and looks somewhat badass” category, but Collins comes across as a profoundly honest singer and the songs strike me as more “from the heart” than the self-indulgent fare that is often on the menu within the genre.

Smith and Kupillas contribute backing vocals and harmonies and do so admirably, while doing their part to help produce the band’s sound, which can get quite heavy, at times, for a three-piece. For me, however, the sound was at its best when Collins was using his amplified acoustic guitar rather than his standard electric. It just seemed to fit.

If ever there was a version of punk for adults, and people who, at least, occasionally bathe, OTP embodies it. The crowd looked about as likely to start a riot as the cast of Golden Girls, there wasn’t the slightest whiff of politics in the air and the most overtly “punk” thing that happened all night was Collins breaking a string during the opening number. That being said, the atmosphere matched the music perfectly. OTP, rather than being the soundtrack to malicious destruction of public property, seem like the band you put on when it’s time to turn all that aggression inwards and hit the bottle.

While the band successfully avoids the pitfalls of its genre, it also shares much in common with the finer practitioners of it. The poetic storytelling of Shane MacGowan and The Pogues, the semi-romantic themes of Billy Bragg and the frantic desperation of Tim Barry’s Rivanna Junction.

Make no mistake, OTP is legit. Far from being the typical standard-bearer for the folk-punk genre that I feared, the band is comprised of actual musicians making actual music, and making it the right way.

As long as bands like OTP are still out there, I have no problem admitting that I have, perhaps, been a bit hasty in writing off folk-punk as an anachronistic and increasingly irrelevant genre, as, judging from the band’s show at the Middle East, there is still much
work of substance and merit to be had within.

Being proved wrong has never been so gratifying.

 

OTP


 
 
 

 

OTP
Where/We're/Found

otp

 

 
 
 

 

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


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