Thursday, June 30, 2011

Summer Starts with The Connects

The Summer in the City!


catchy as hell

Viral Video is a periodic series we run celebrating music and moving images. Today we introduce you to Mr. Dan and D-Truss whose crunked up take on a hot summer classic will probably have booties shakin' all summer long. The video features a couple of wigged gentleman and a lady who wants nothing more to get her luxury automobile clean. The beats are what's championed and each time you hear this track, we can't escape the feeling that it's getting hot outside! (A whole new meaning to "pimp my ride.") With 40K views in a very short time period, we think this one's going to go viral. At a rumored $1500 price tag for the video that's a big, erm, bang for your buck. (Sorry, couldn't resist.) Download the song, below.

The Connects

Previous Viral Videos:


RSL 2011 Music Picks
Best of the First-Half Nominee...

It gets harder and harder each month to pick the one or two songs - the best album - to bring to your attention. 2011 has been a great year so far for new music. And I know you people are reading and listening. I know you are digesting and I hope you actually help the artists by purchasing the music and the merchandise that helps them continue to make this sensational, heartfelt music. I have had a copy of Eve by Bridges and Powerlines for months now. The band entrusted a copy to me back in the fall and I fell for it almost the very second I popped it in and hit play. There's so many reasons... First off, know that I have been a big fan of the band's fun, quirky and melodic ploddings for 4 years now. (Here's one of my two or three favorite BAP songs from Ghost Types.) Basically as long as I've been writing this website. The band has grown, as have we, but one truth has remained constant despite our trajectories - the emotion and songwriting in their pieces have always stood atop the shoulders of giants. This shit is brilliant.

And while it was really kind of nerdy of me to know who Bridges and Powerlines were in 2006, having caught them at dark music halls and assorted music festivals - YOU should definitely know about this top East Coast band here in 2011. They are amongst the very best indie rock bands east of the Mississippi, maybe in the country.

The material on the new album, Eve, is rich, diverse, and deep. As a music promoter, it has been my distinct pleasure to be able to work with Bridges and Powerlines - always a treat to work with those you admire - but the tables were turned at this year's CMJ Music Festival as Bridges and Powerlines could have been the best band (live photos) to play our stacked Beast of the Northeast showcase. Then we had them back to play RSL's 4-Year Anniversary Party. This is my round about way of making it clear that I'm certainly not doing these guys a favor anymore, their ability shines brightly and I'm merely happy to be singing their well-deserved praises. The latest video, this one for "Mirabell" is below. Buy the album. This is what's coming up next.

Bridges and Powerlines
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Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Must-Have 2011: SLOW RUNNER

RSL 2011 Music Picks
Best of the First-Half Nominee...

One of the Best New Albums of 2011:

Slow Runner - Damage Points

The Spirit of Discovery - Whiskey is one of the most potent alcohols out there and heaven knows it has fueled adventures and caused its own set of unique events in my fun-filled explorations. Even as I prepare to share with you one of the best new projects of 2011, I think back of a particularly golden night of music and ambiance in which whiskey and music filled a particularly dark Boston night. The spirits of music exploration (and the whiskey) were in good supply the evening I witnessed singer Michael Flynn and multi-instrumentalist Josh Kaler completely light up a Hub audience. I stood there, with my mouth open (at least that's how I imagine it) stunned about what I was hearing. Flynn & Kaler, who go by the sound explosion moniker; Slow Runner, have a really great chemistry which compliments their challenging, shifting song structures. I am a guitar guy but even more than that I'm a piano guy. I hide it well, but couldn't this night. The most layered and looped of these Slow Runner tracks plays out like a live jam with a rapper and his crew. But these wild, electronic numbers are stacked right alongside gorgeous melodic presentations your girlfriend would love to receive on her next mixtape. It is just this versatility, talent and wit that caused me to explore their back catalog.

Slow Runner has toured with folks like Josh Ritter, The Damnwells, Say Anything, Built to Spill, Gomez, The Avett Brothers, and Evan Dando, as well as had their music featured on shows like Greys Anatomy and One Tree Hill. You wouldn't know it from talking to these guys. They shrug off the platitudes and would prefer to just play the songs. And play they do. Aided these days by Jonathan Gray (formerly of Jump Little Children) on bass and sometimes with Scott Baumil (formerly of The Young Republicans) on guitar, Flynn & Kaler are capable of creating even more unimaginable sonic landscapes.

Damage Points is Beautiful - This is an accomplished record - and one that keeps growing on you. None of this, of course, comes as a surprise. It's a natural trajectory album - Slow Runner has only improved since the last I have heard them and this album is the product of that rewarding process. The band and the sound have descended an elegant staircase and are now sipping whiskey with their listeners. The silky smooth, vibrant sounds echo a familiar past and an unknown future but it's an exciting ride I will be making many times this year. To make matters all the more interesting, our heroes have been on tour with the amazing William Fitzsimmons whose new album "Gold in the Shadow" also belongs on our list. This has been one powerful tour.

We find Slow Runner more experimental, more obsessed with beauty and emotion and generally just better in 2011. One of the Best new projects of the year is available for purchase now. Here is my favorite song:

Slow Runner
iTunes / Web / Fb / Tw

Tuesday, June 28, 2011


Photographic Evidence
by Mark Jenko

We Take You There...
The Silver Dollar - Toronto, ON
for NxNE - 06/17/11

One of the Three Best Shows this yr at NxNE

Crocodiles - Hollow Hollow Eyes

So a little about the NxNE festival and about my intentions this year... I had fully intended (as we always do) in seeing a handful of hot new bands I had heard about and never seen. Plans fail just like their makers. But this is a story of success -- I arrived in Toronto with Crocodiles on my musical 'hitlist' and damn didn't they ever hit it out of the park! How redeeming that it ended up being one of the absolute highlights for me this year... One of the best live sets I have seen anywhere in 2011! Sweet, sweet, beautiful success! With favorable comparisons to both Echo & the Bunnymen [our live photos - Ed.] and The Jesus and Mary Chain (two sounds regularly found in my rotation) this San Diego acts may have the most potential of any of the bands at this year's festival. Mark. My Words. ONE TO WATCH

Blog / Fb / My / Tw / Wiki

More from NxNE 2011 is STILL on the Way

Monday, June 27, 2011

Dispatches from Solid Sound

Live from North Adams, MA
Photos by 5342 Studios

ANOTHER YEAR IN NORTH ADAMS - Close to 6,000 music- and arts-crazed enthusiasts from the four corners spent their weekend in the bucolic splendor of the museum-culture and slow pace of North Adams, MA. It was two days of celebration and tranquility curated by WILCO and friends. The Arts, Music & Culture on the menu were impressive. What we didn't expect - and perhaps we should have - was the pounding June rain which dampened the ground intermittently but didn't end the festivities... Concertgoers were driven inside the museum where they took in art until the rain surrendered once again to good times. Children danced, parents mouthed the words, couples kissed and the audience swayed to the songs...

New Zealander Liam Finn stole the show

Liam Finn - "Cold Feet"

Genre-Crasher Jamie Lidell made audiences move!

Life after Sonic Youth: Thurston Moore rocked!

Thurston Moore - Circulation

Cline & Moore are Pillow Wand

Soul Power from JC Brooks & the Uptown Sound

JC Brooks & The Uptown Sound - Alright


Ryan's Top 5 Sets of Solid Sound 2011:
#1 - Liam Finn
#2 - WILCO
#3 - JC Brooks & The Uptown Sound
#4 - The Autumn Defense
#5 - Jamie Lidell

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Art Brut + Reptar at BMH

Photographs by Emma Dessau
Live Review by Nick Parker

We Take You There...
Brighton Music Hall
Boston, MA - 06/20/11

It seems like RSL has been shadowing Art Brut on their current tour. We were there to catch their NXNE show in Toronto last week, and on Monday they joined us in Boston, at the Brighton Music Hall, with support from Georgia's Reptar.

Given that I've seen Art Brut before, Reptar were a surprisingly different band to choose for their support slot. Though full of energy like the bigger band, Raptor played more complex music, with elements like a second percussionist and more than one keyboard to augment their guitar sound, filling the stage with equipment to the point where they could hardly move themselves. Their sound has won them spots on the Governer's Ball festival and Lollapalooza this year. Once they got down to playing it wasn't hard to hear some similarities in the subtle humor of Reptar's music.

Once Art Brut took the stage, the jokes came think and fast. Near the start of the show, singer Eddie Argos told us with a wry smile that the venue was full, despite the ample amount of space around each of us: "It's a fire code issue," he announced. "The venue is actually at capacity. There is a line of people outside trying to get in! If you're writing about the show, please make sure you mention that." [I hope this counts, Eddie] Despite the numerous witticisms, we were left with the impression that Argos was disappointed with the turn out. It was a pity because playing a show on the Monday night in Boston, during the summer, was always going to be difficult.

To his credit though, Argos was more than capable of keep us engaged throughout the gig. "Modern Art," one of Art Brut's best known songs, was played with a several minute interlude in which Argos had the audience kneeling down with him on the floor of the BMH, readying ourselves to jump up and shout with him that "Modern Art/ Makes Me/ Want to Rock Out!"


It wasn't all about Argos' improv' though. The band were still as vigorously energetic as ever. What all the band members share is a clear awareness that they are here to entertain us. No overly sincere, overly solemn moments in this set (even when Argos was singer about topics like impotence!). Art Brut consistently make you laugh, and make you move.

Art Brut
Web / Fb / My / Tw

Web / Fb / My / Blog

Saturday, June 25, 2011

One to Watch: EULA

On Further Review
by Nick Parker

OUR INTRODUCTION - When we first heard EULA, at the recent B.O.M.B.fest in Hartford CT, we were impressed by the size of their sound, given they are only a three-piece, and play sparingly simple dirty guitar-punk songs. There recently released album, "Maurice Narcisse," turn out to show this kind of addictive sound in abundance, and lots more good stuff besides.

Their video for Texas Stampede is a good track for them to promote, not only because it's energetic and fun, but also because it typifies lots of the interesting things about this band.

Singer Alyse Lamb screeches "Where were you?" discordantly before the song bursts into a racing punk hook. Another highpoint of the album is "Honor Killer," which shows the band's rather unusual song construction, and the furious overdriven bass tone they commonly use.

EULA ARE ONE TO WATCH - Given their bounding energy, it's a refreshing surprise when, later on in the album in particular, EULA steadily change the direction of "Maurice Narcisse." First they introduce the rather more 'sunny' (in tone if not in subject) "Wake Up," and then slow things down considerably with "Canyon," as song that is more than just filler, but which instead sounds like a quite different band, only recognizable by the persistent dissonance we've heard elsewhere on this album.

This twist in the trajectory of the album concludes with an acoustic song, "Hollow Cave" that demonstrates a depth you might not expect from a band that repeatedly project their feverish punk-pop credentials. Note the poignancy of lyrics like "Knowing it’s the final time/ I'll lay awake by your side," and you'll realize "Maurice Narcisse," and EULA in general, are well worth checking out.

Web / Fb / My / Blog / Tw

Friday, June 24, 2011

The Virus that Changed the World

File Under: Artificial Intelligence
Weaponized Viruses are Very Real

Stuxnet changed our world - overnight

Lights Up by Dirty Bombs
Virus Art by Laura Splan

Like it or not, this is real... Despite all our military spending the world's potentially most deadly foe has been identified and it's little more than smart code. For months, observers on both sides of the Atlantic have been feverishly trying to determine what Stuxnet is. Much of that time was spent deciding just how much to tell people.

Governments worked feverishly to determine just how big Stuxnet really is. And what they discovered was a virus exponentially bigger than anything they had seen before. It has infected computers all over the globe - including major power plants, substations and large sections of private industry here in North America -- and was laying dormant. It was created with a singular purpose in mind. Now the reality is how do we plan to secure ourselves in a world in which such viruses - the real AI - are now a reality? Chilling.

Video Details: Direction and Motion Graphics - Patrick Clair, written by Scott Mitchell. Production Company: Zapruder's Other Films.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Murder Ballads!

What's Next, Live?
By Julie Stoller

Scene: OBERON Friday 06/24/11
Harvard Square, Cambridge, MA
w/ Now You, Jaggery (EP release)
massmouth, aerialist Elena Sanders & more!

You don't want to trust so important a topic as murder to just anyone. The range and complexity of human emotion that leads a person to such an exquisitely perfect, heinous act must be treated with the proper mixture of horror and reverence. What better way to honor and, yes, celebrate the darkest of innermost thought turned into violent action than with a theatrical performance?

"Through music, storytelling, film, dance, and more, artists will share their own murder ballads, offering views from many angles ~ from victim to perpetrator, from revenge to mercy, from the killer on trial to the murderer within."

And who more perfect a curator for this morose multimedia museum than the lovely dark chantreuse herself, Mali Sastri (of Jaggery). Unsurprisingly, Mali has assembled a fascinating group of artists for what promises to be a most memorable evening. Have a look...


Jaggery - Hostage Heart

Breathtaking and dramatic, JAGGERY moves through exotic soundscapes to the sounds of Petaluma Vale's Celtic harp; jazzy, African-tinged percussion and contrabass; and avant-garde classical viola courtesy of Rachel Jayson (who also performs in The Army of Broken Toys - see below). At the center of the churning musical storm is Singer Mali's otherworldly voice - ethereal, ebullient, tempting, and taunting. Recent releases include Upon A Penumbra (2010)and Sp(l)ice (2011), which was created as part of The RPM Challenge 2011. Jaggery's performance this evening coincides with the local release of their forthcoming EP, inspired by Truman Capote's "In Cold Blood". How perfect!

Web / Fb / Bc / Tw

Walter Sickert & the Army of Broken Toys

Army of Toys - Glass Guillotine

No contemplation of murder would be quite the same without the Victorian gallows humour and accompanying soundtrack of Walter Sickert and The Army of Broken Toys. In the unfathomable depths, those frightening dark recesses of the human psyche, one needs a stalwart guide, and no one is more up to the task than Mr. Walter Sickert and his merry maudlin pranksters, The Army of Broken Toys. Hellfire raging fury and Tom Waits-evoking vocals slip in and out of a thick, pleasing gumbo of instrumentation - accordion, guitars, percussion, standup bass, ukelele, melodica, clarinet... They're a whimsical gypsy wedding band at a dark gothic carnival of Death Eaters. Most recent offerings include SteamShipKillers (2010) and Dream Drome (RPM Challenge 2011). And oh yes, there's the Bunny Collective, whom I assume will be in full attendence. (I won't even attempt to describe them.)

Army of Toys
Web / Fb / Bc / Tw

Now You

The happily married duo of violinist/vocalist Carla Kihlstedt and drummer/keyboardist Matthais Bossi currently perform as NOW YOU. Their music is a collection of mysterious dreamscapes, in a pastiche of styles - jazz and pop balladry, vaguely haunting dance and industrial music, bluesy meanderings, experimental sounds. And a waltz. Instrumentation is as curious as their music: violin, nyckelharpa, pump organ, cajon, Fender Rhodes, foot accordion, bass harmonica. Nothing is off-limits, and nothing is completely as expected. Their collaborations include musical scores for dance and theatre, and their band Cosa Brava with musical heroes Fred Frith and Zeena Parkins. Their latest release is Still You Lay Dreaming: Tales for the Stage, II.

Now You
Fb / Bc

Molly Zenobia

Molly Zenobia's powerful voice moves between jazzy, soulful stylings and Goth, with instrumental accompaniment that's all over the place at once - and it works really well. From piano and cello on her debut, to a crazy mix of piano innards, underwater recordings, Irish Whistle, a Mexican mariachi band, tattoo machine, and a teakettle whistling for her second album, her sound is fascinating and unique. She's currently collaborating with Roedelius on an album, and working on her fourth album with Matt Malley (Counting Crows).

Molly Zenobia
Web / Fb / Bc / Tw

Art Brut tears down the Mod Club

Photographic Evidence
by Mark Jenko

The Mod Club - Toronto, ON
for NxNE - 06/17/11

One of the Three Best Shows of NxNE

Loud and thoroughly intelligent; Challenging, engaging and truly funny... Art Brut's scalding set at the Mod Cafe was like caffeine in the veins. Truly one of the most enjoyable sets of the week - this forty minutes made me a fan for life. NxNE kicked ass and this was one of the reasons why! - Ryan Spaulding

Art Brut
Web / Fb / My / Tw

More from NxNE 2011 is on the Way

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Bishop Allen: Talking Heads cover!

Red Hot Cover Songs
The Best Covers Going...


Bishop Allen - Psycho Killer (live)
photo by Sebastian Mlynarski

I kept the chatter on the track after the song ends,
A reminder that this was recorded in front of a live audience.

My / Tw / Fb

The Road Back to Solid Sound

The Return of SOLID SOUND
Mass MoCA - North Adams, MA
Photos by 5342 Studios

WILCO's Jeff Tweedy @ Solid Sound 2010

Wilco - Is that the Thanks I Get (live on Conan O'Brien)

YES to SECOND HELPINGS - Nearly a year later, the SOLID SOUND MUSIC & ARTS FESTIVAL returns to Western Massachusetts this weekend. The WILCO-curated spectacle of arts, music and culture was a smashing success last year - funneling visitors and their dollars to North Adams, serving up big-time entertainment without stress and toil. It was a win-win for pretty much everybody and as it turned out - one of the best memories I had from a busy calendar year in 2010. The fact that the festival went off without so much as a visible hitch - despite the event's infancy spoke to how well it was planned. The music is really worth the journey...

Having moved the festival up from August to June - grabbing Summer by the throat, the planners for Solid Sound 2011 have a number of big acts (do not miss The Handsome Family, Levon Helm or The Autumn Defense - the wicked side project for Wilco's John Stirratt and Patrick Sansone, amongst many others;) comedy performances, art displays and great pop-up offerings in store for attendees (watching Tweedy get plunged into a dunk tank for charity was wild last year!) this weekend on the 200,000 square foot grounds of the magical property. We're sold.

Solid Sound Festival 2010 - North Adams, MA

Nels Cline

Wilco - I'm the Man Who Loves You
Live at Tanglewood 2008

arrive by Solid Sound bus!
click the bus for details

Solid Sound Passes:
Adults: 3 Day Pass is $124.50
1-Day Pass: Fri - $65 / Sat - $78 / Sun - $65
Kids: 6 & Under are Free

Fri 06/24 - Sun 06/26

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Boston Live Pick of the Week

What's Next, Live?
By Julie Stoller

Scene: Church of Boston Wednesday 06/22/11
evening presented by
(*RSL Best of 2011 Artist)
(*CD release)

Seattle's Ivan & Alyosha (named for the characters in Dostoevsky’s Brothers Karamazov) play soulful folk music with lovely harmonies and lyrics - like the characters in the novel – that question the concept of God and faith. The band played "Smoke & Sand"'s SxSW showcase this year along with NPR Tiny Desk Concerts and a number of other prominent national appearances this year. We just caught them again in Toronto for NxNE and they were just outstanding... This band alone is worth the price of admission!

The crazed and indefinable gypsy circus schizophrenia calling itself Mighty Tiny just released their debut album, White Dog Rough Again. Equal parts Tin Pan Alley and carnival cacophony, with violin and accordion flying amidst unhinged vocals, marching percussion, and a crazed smorgasbord of instrumentation; theirs is a Broadway musical terribly – and deliciously – askew.

Somerville Symphony Orkestar performs Balkan, Klezmer and traditional Russian music in a similarly exuberant, globe-trotting and border-defying style as Gogol Bordello and DeVotchKa, and they will be celebrating their debut album release this evening. It’s a rambunctious, festive affair with sophisticated arrangements and superb musicianship.

Boston Klezmer band, Klezwoods rounds it out with their traditional Klezmer and Balkan music infused with a contemporary sound. This show is going to be quite something.

Weds - 8pm - $13 - 18+

Must-Have 2011: KASEY ANDERSON

RSL 2011 Music Picks
Best of the First-Half Nominee...

Kasey Anderson has returned with a vengence with Heart of A Dog, his best work to date - every bit as winning as 2010's Nowhere Nights (2010 Album Buyer's Guide Selection) but there's a number of areas in which it tangibly exceeds it's predecessor. The first of these is in Anderson's voice and the second (amongst many) is his music character. Already proven himself to be a strong songwriter, this Portland, OR singer-songwriter sees his personality grow outward to match his abilities on the stage. Possibly the next best songwriter in America. (Mark my words.)

Whether he's whooping it up with macho rock n' roll bravado, collapsing into the arms of a lover or challenging the ghosts of country music's past - we find Anderson standing on top. This sampler below showcases Anderson's uncanny ability to light up the imagination of listeners. That's why Heart of A Dog is already a favorite for Album of the Year at this date.

Anderson is always on the move.
Free Download: Friends can now sample some new covers.
The album project is called, "Textiles on Main Street."

Web / My / Fb / Tw

Monday, June 20, 2011

Smoke Fairies at NxNE

Photographic Evidence
by Ryan Spaulding

We Take You There...
The Dakota - Toronto, ON
for NxNE - 06/18/11

YOUR INTRODUCTION TO SMOKE FAIRIES - At school in rural England during the mid-late‘90s, best mates Katherine Blamire and Jessica Davies hoped they’d one day escape their home town and dive headlong into the landscape and myth of America, the promised land of their dreams. Little did they know that by 2010, they’d have lived in New Orleans and Vancouver, recorded with 21st century icon Jack White and toured across continents. And now they’re releasing a debut album that fulfils the promise of their earlier singles.

TONIGHT - Smoke Fairies play Club Passim with Leslie Stevens in Cambridge, MA this evening! This is one of the very few stops on their brief run in the states this time through. Do not miss it!

Tonight! - Jun 20
Club Passim - Cambridge, MA

Jun 21
Rockwood Music Hall - NYC

Jun 22
The Rock Shop - Brooklyn, NY

Jun 25
Open House Festival
Belfast - United Kingdom

Smoke Fairies
Web / Fb / My/ Tw

More from NxNE 2011 is on the Way