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The Great Western States -- Strange Day

Strange Day, the EP by Jared Mann’s project The Great Western States, contains five songs of emotionally-charged, angst-ridden lo-fi. The collection of demos (all songs that Mann had created within the last year) was released by Providence label Blanketfort Records on December 7, 2011.

Mann’s vocals on Strange Day demonstrate bipolarity throughout, as he jumps back and forth between tense, whispery singing and outright screaming. But these extremes come together to form a sound that is vulnerable and honest. Mann ropes the listener in with his sweet, gloomy lyricism as he takes a forlorn look at the tolls of love and loneliness and combines a lo-fi style with experimental, ambient, and indie rock.

Coming Home sets up the EP’s moody vibe with overtones of regret, and Mother (pride) begins quietly, simply, and with tenderness, full of swelling emotions and just enough ambiguity. Gravitational Diseases opens with acoustic strumming and glowing background noise which leads into lofty, echoing voices. The song soon picks up pace, adding drums and more ambience, followed by Mann wailing “Where the hell am I going? Where the hell am I going?”

The changing beat patterns and breaks make Physical stand out, along with lyrics like, “There’s only so much I can do for you physically / Tomorrow when you wake, this will wash away.” On this track, Mann’s vocals go from muffled lo-fi to clean just in time for him to straightforwardly outline his misery. Finally, with its slow piano and murky vocals, Resignation times out at just over a minute, closing the set with just as much disconsolation as it started with.

It seems that part of Mann’s pain comes from the pain of those around him, and not being able to completely heal anybody, including himself. Strange Day explores these complex feelings without wallowing and without feeling contrived. Mann’s efforts as The Great Western States are perfect for a Debbie Downer mood, but Strange Day also makes hints at finding hope somewhere along the way.--Sarah Ruggiero

The Lights Out Announce New Album, Will Preview New Material Next Friday at Church

The Lights Out, announced they will enter the studio at the end of this month to record their first full-length album since 2011’s Primetime.

Back with award-winning producer, Benny Grotto (Aerosmith, The Dresden Dolls), at Boston’s Mad Oak Studios, the band is exploring new textures to make On Fire their most sonically rich effort to date.

The band will test new material on Friday, Jan. 13 at Church of Boston, performing with Paranoid Social Club (featuring members of the Rustic Overtones) and Portland Phoenix “Best Live Act of 2011” winners, The Mallett Brothers Band. It is a 21+ event, tickets are $10.

This March, The Lights Out will travel to Austin, T.X. to preview On Fire at South By Southwest, in preparation for an official album release in the spring of 2012.

--The Deli Staff

Kid Chocolate -- Greatest Hits

If you’re searching for some new songs to add to that ipod you got for Christmas, look no further than Kid Chocolate’s latest release, Greatest Hits. The ten-track album is a brilliant mix of both laid back and upbeat tunes. The opening track, Hardly Ever, reaches out and pulls the listener into a sea of churning guitars and hypnotizing melodies. The entire song sounds like it could be a B-side from some early Black Keys recording, if Dan Auerbach had five too many beers and decided to lay down some vocal tracks.

Upon moving to the second track, the album completely changes direction and breaks out into a rockin’ song reminiscent of the early Kings of Leon days (remember when they actually sounded good?). The songs continue to evolve and change shape as the album progresses, as one can hear in Sea Monster, with its catchy keyboard riffs and reverb-laden vocals that dominate the track.

Overall, I was extremely pleased with Kid Chocolate’s efforts. The band manages to provide an eclectic, yet cohesive, collection of songs that are sure to appeal to a wide range of listeners. You can stream (and download!) all of Greatest Hits for free on Kid Chocolate’s bandcamp site. Be sure to vote for the band in this month’s The Deli New England Artist of the Month Poll as well!

--Daniel McMahon

Llama Tsunami -- Get Serious

Llama Tsunami want to dance with you. If their music doesn’t make you want to stand up and jam with all nine members of this Connecticut ska band, it may be that either A. you take yourself too seriously, or B. you’re intimidated by vocalist Nick Perry’s dance skills, a staple to any show they play. If the answer happens to be A., Llama Tsunami’s album Get Serious is aimed specifically at you. Get Serious isn’t about pretense or obscurity, it’s about keeping it upbeat and fun and Llama Tsunami’s twelve-song album reaches a level of fun that’s on-par with The Aquabats-- maybe it comes with their shared affinity for writing pirate songs. That said, sea bandits aren’t even the most peculiar song subjects on the album. Ernest may be the first song about a gay shark ever to be recorded, and more power to the band for filling that niche.

The lighthearted attitude found in most of their song lyrics pairs well with their catchy riffs and impressive four-piece horn section (two trumpets, a trombone, and a baritone sax), giving the album an all-around happy-go-lucky vibe. The album also keeps a good-natured, sassy sense of humor as it pokes fun at man thongs, emo kids, and themselves, like in the title track lyric: “And our biggest fans are our biggest fans because your mom can’t hate your band.”

Get Serious does have a few changes of pace, though, as in Unraveling, When It’s Over, Swing, and Bite My Thumb, all of which demonstrate more reflective songwriting and moods.

Llama Tsunami are constantly playing shows around New England, their next show is  Sunday, Jan 15, 2012 @ the Waterford VFW in Waterford, CT.

--Sarah Ruggiero

Thick Shakes Announce Northeast Tour in January with Radio Control

Thick Shakes are braving the New England winter (but wasn't it 50 degrees just a couple days ago?) and hitting the road this January with Radio Control for a tour around the Northeast.

Tour dates:
1/13 Flywheel, Easthampton, MA: w/ Missing Data, the Fantasies
1/14 house show, Syracuse: w/ ThoseGhostfuckers
1/15 the Monkey House, Winooski, VT
1/21 131 Washington, Portland, ME: w/ the Restless Shades

The band says they'll be back in Boston in late January for shows that include Ghost Box Orchestra, Royal Wedding & Leagues at the Rosebud, as well as Boston's first Ladyfest.

--Chrissy Prisco


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