Monday, April 30, 2012

DEBUT: The Lights Out "One Way To Die"

World Premiere!
mp3 from the new LP
"On Fire" is out 6/1/12

Boston is a fast-moving, rapidly developing music scene these days. And without a compass it's easy to lose one's direction. One thing hasn't changed since for this music blogger in the six years I've been writing about our beloved scene and sharing our music with the world - The Lights Out, formed in 2005, continue to offer up perhaps the best live shows in New England. They are consummate rock professionals and probably certified black belts in Fun Rock.

The characters on stage instantly become friends with the audience. And the walls dividing strangers at their shows fall away. I call it "The Lights Out" Effect. That entertainment doesn't end on the stage. There was that personals ad which drew a lot of stares and clicks (you can imagine it, band looking for new fans, that kind of stuff... priceless) and then there's the amazing and kind of outlandish band photos (two of which accompany this piece.) This is a band that takes rock and fun, very seriously.

As fun-loving as this foursome are, their fierceness at playing rock cannot be undersold. (I know it sounds trite - but when I think of these guys I think of the cinematic setting on fire of guitars, action-packed bank robberies, and demolition derby!) Each member of The Lights Out Each is a technician in their own right. That again shines through on the new record, "On Fire," an LP which won't see the light of day until June 1st.

The songs and influences here span several genres: modern rock, arena rock, country, glam and soul - making "On Fire" the band’s most textured effort to date, and the first using keys and synths. There's an urgency on this one as well - perhaps to beat the end of the world - or at least so they can get on the 2012 soundtrack. Today we have the first single for you, "One Way To Die." Can't wait to hear what comes next! The Lights Out are definitely someone you should know and One To Watch in 2012.

Web/ Fb / My / Tw

Sunday, April 29, 2012

RSL presents OldJack, Cask Mouse & a Mystery Band - May 12th

A Night of Musical Adventure
Sat 5/12/12 at Radio Bar
21+ 8pm - just $8 RSVP

Two of Boston's Brightest and a MYSTERY Third!

original design by Nicole Anguish

MYSTERY BAND - One of my favorite bands. Most of you have never seen them play live before. We can't tell you anything yet. Well worth the price of admission on their own (and more) and then there's the matter of two exceptional Boston acts...

The Region's Best Rock & Soul...

"Take a Bow" is new and an OldJack original.
The track was produced by Will Dailey & recorded by Scott Riebling

As Good As It Gets Right Now - Depending on your music tastes, OldJack could be the best live band in New England right now. I put them in the Top 5 without hesitation. I'm delighted to have helped serve up to massive audiences at both CMJ and at SxSW - but let's be clear: they delivered big time! The band is much, much bigger than our small stages. The light is burning bright and you should catch it whenever you can!

Single Release - On Saturday, May 12th, OldJack will be unleashing their new single, "Radio" at the club of the same name. This should be really, really good.

Stoke the Fire - There's a pretty extensive new OJ piece worth a read on Bill Copeland Music News. While much of the piece serves as an introductory piece, there's some new light shed on the band's recording of "Take a Bow" and a few colorful insights offered by Old Jack's Dan Nicklin.

/ Fb / Sb / Tw

Brilliant New Sounds - A light shines brightly on Cask Mouse these days. The band proved to be one of the standouts of this year's Rock 'n Roll Rumble. The summer ahead promises to be an exceptional opportunity for them to gain a strong foothold here in Boston. [Editor's Note: bonus points for the stand-up base. But this goes without saying... apologies.] For those reading this from outside Boston, take heed! This is some good sh*t...!

Meet the Band - With love and respect for the art of songwriting enjoyed by generations, Cask Mouse sifts the sand of time to bring alive new stories of American life with the love and craftsmanship that made this country what it is today. Its members draw from all aspects of their diverse musical and geographical experiences to truly express emotion and tell untold truths. With a sweeping love for all music they find themselves meandering the genres of country, folk, rock n’roll, rhythm and blues, gospel and soul.

Cask Mouse
Album / Fb / Tw

Saturday, April 28, 2012

RSL presents Ocho de Mayo - 4 Stellar Bands, $8

Music Event of the Year!
Get in on RSL's #Ocho Party

The Adventure Continues.... First there was CMJ: The Outlaw Roadshow entertains 600 music fans in New York City. Then there was SxSW: The Outlaw Roadshow entertains 4,500 fans in Austin, TX. This May 8th... we've returned home to Boston - back for Ocho de Mayo! It's a show that's half party, all rock 'n roll. What you are about to take in is probably the best weekday music showcase Boston's seen so far this Spring...! Come to the Ocho.

original design by Erin Genett

from Boston, MA

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One of New England's Best Rock Bands (I've got them entrenched in the top 3) isn't slowing down. The Wandas' self-titled record in 2011 was so good (RSL Best of 2011) the group found sponsorship, a big tour bus and adventures around the country. One of my all-time favorite memories of SxSW will be partying with these guys and Dawes...

With a renewed sense of direction, a few home-cooked meals and a bottle of whiskey tucked under each of their arms, The Wandas are back in town + ready to boogie down this May 8th. Be ready for the unexpected!

from Chicago, IL

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Just having left Chicago for their national tour, Archie Powell & the Exports have made a career of grafting prismatic power pop and sardonic, dark looks at the world with massively addictive pop and rock songs with hooks galore. They make it look simple; Powell is incapable of writing an un-danceable tune, whether he turns a jaundiced eye on the culture of self-medication or whipping up a 3 minute heist story.

Great Ideas in Action (out May 1, 2012) is the band’s third release of deceptively sophisticated songs. This will be their first time through New England with these songs in tow. Ocho de Mayo is starting to look like a must, isn't it?

from Toronto, On

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"Whoa, Are You Kidding Me?" Those are my words. It was mid-afternoon in downtown Manhattan and it was too early for me to be drinking whiskey. But there I was, watching Sandman Viper Command tear a hole in the roof of Arlene's Grocery during a CMJ show. I knew then we would meet again and so shall you...

In the beginning, the four best friends who make up the ambitiously named outfit (Rob Janson, Aaron Harvey, Dan Reardon, Matt Meyer) locked themselves up for days in their parents’ basements practicing and refining demos, only emerging when they had stumbled upon the most perfect blend of garage pop/guitar fuzz rock this side of the border has heard in a long time.

from Boston, MA

Web / Fb / Tw

Probably "the" feel-good band right now in Boston. I've been in Streight Angular's corner for a while now. Every show is an event and every single one is a little different. With friends regularly joining in on the fun a set is includes performance art, body paint, neon lights beads and a lot of singing. I wasn't sure if I could do the Cinco de Ocho show without them, good thing we don't have to face that dark reality. Seriously fun!

let's keep it good + keep it going!

Friday, April 27, 2012

Heroes of Popular Wars - American Loser

Sounds You Should Know
... New in moving pictures

artist: Johannes DeYoung: "Ego Loser"

If you like swirling atmospherics in your music, this might the next band for you. I've been listening to Heroes of Popular Wars for the last couple years. Sometimes that dissonant emotive smoke and haze is absolutely perfect to express what's going on. "American Loser" is a great example of the static-y shoegaze etherea this band can cook up. Love the bonus percusion and organ on this one. Definitely a winner.

And as for the S2K-edited music video (follows) - with it's series of arresting images - it's a worthwhile companion to the lyric's critical satire. All in a day's work for this band! Someone You Should know.

Album / Web / Fb / Tw


Underground Sounds
by Tim Osbourne

Tim Osbourne is a Music writer in the UK.
He covers emerging artists for

York's own Idiophonic makes dark electronic pop akin to underground US sensations The Dresden Dolls and ex-pat progressive maestro Martin Grech. There's something innovative and truly blissful about this sound and the self-released 2011 album 'Black House', that keeps the listener motivated, and keeps them engrossed right from the opener "Clockwork" to the closing self-titled tune.

Having started on the rocky road to success as a solo artist, it wasn't always easy for the thoughtful Idi and his alt-pop sounds, struggling away to produce and create his own music and playing all of the instruments to see his vision realised. After playing select live shows on his own using just a keyboard and backing track, with the addition of a guitarist, the artist (also known as Karl Jenkins) started to realise that it might be necessary to get a full band together to be taken seriously in the mainstream (of course, we're not saying that it's the only way to do it!) and as a result of incorporating drums and bass, the sound has been seriously rocked up and given a whole new more powerful direction.

There's nothing overly soft about this material, only well-written tracks with added acoustic drum grit and raging bass. Don't doubt that there is something special on offer here, and with a national tour on the horizon, catch Idiophonic at a small showcase near you for next to
nothing, because you can expect much bigger things as we get stuck into 2012.

Album / Web / Fb / My / Tw

Thursday, April 26, 2012

New from Boston's MUY CANSADO

New Music this Week!
Someone You Should Know

It's about time we heard something new out of Muy Cansado, one of my favorite Boston three-pieces. The rock outfit have been flying beneath the radio recently but that's because they were working on some new songs (debuting this evening) and a new video (also premiering tonight). Take a listen to the music. Check the band out on facebook and leave them a message. If you are reading this from the greater Boston metroplex why not head to Somerville's Davis Square Theatre tonight to catch Muy Cansado in a sweet four band lineup with Mount Peru, Stereo Soul Future & Wrong Shapes. [Facebook Event Page] That's a lot of music for the $7. The new music video gets premiered and Muy Cansado have assured me everybody will leave with download cards for the "Not for Nothing" single. Can't beat it with a stick.

Muy Cansado
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Wednesday, April 25, 2012

7 Movies at the Independent Film Festival Boston (Apr 25 - May 2)

7 film trailers and a breakdown of IFF Boston's best 
Read About It on Bradley's Almanac

The Independent Film Festival Boston
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Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Rock 'n Rumble Semi-Finals Night #2

Live Impressions
by Nick Parker

by Chris March
April 13th, 2012


I came to this second Rumble semi-final already a little weary. I had been there to see Bow Thayer and Perfect Trainwreck's win the night before (and what would turn out to be the wildcard performance of Motherboar too), and I was suffering from 'Rumble fatigue.' This might have been my own 'decrepit, aging writer' condition of course, but after four so different bands during Semi-Final #1, I craved some musical tranquility... I was not destined to get it.

Sherman Burns

The show appeared to begin with more of the withering metal blast that Motherboar had executed so well at the end of the show before. Sherman Burns had gone through from the same preliminary round as Motherboar too (in a night that must, I guess, have been a absolute torrent of sound), suggesting perhaps that Metal was the genre of this year's competition.

Sherman Burns
facebook / twitter / bandcamp

As the set progressed though, I began to feel that Sherman Burns showed that reductive talk about 'Metal,' like talk about any other category of music of course, was bound to elide the nuances of each good band that plays it. Sherman Burns played heavy music certainly, but not the same kind of material as Motherboar. Their dynamic range was reminiscent of bands like Scotland's Biffy Clyro. Their song structure too, shifted in pace and energy (but not in commitment) throughout.

Ghosts of Jupiter

Ghosts of Jupiter were the second on, and things turned rather more moody as they played. The crowd certainly seemed engrossed with sweeping scale of the band's song construction. Their warm bass-end heavy tone, led not in small part by bass player Tommy Lada (who was later to return to play for Garvy J's band too), made for a set suffused with 'Southern' charm.

Ghosts of Jupiter
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The Rationales

The Rationales were clearly a band that many were pulling for from the start, and with good reason. A staple of the Boston music scene for some years now, this band are clearly a polished operation, their music a little reminiscent for me of 90s guitar pop 5-piece Screaming Trees. The night seemed to build up as their set did.

The Rationales
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Garvy J and the Secret Pockets of Hope and Resistance

Garvy J and the Secret Pockets of Hope and Resistance, who came on to huge fanfare from a packed TTs, and seemed to head up the evening with a confidence so solid that their victory quickly seemed assured. There is no question that the band produce song after song of immersive rock, but in some ways it was their determination and poise that led them to a place in the finals. We will see if they can repeat this feat when confronted by Bow Thayer's incredibly professionally crafting sound, and Motherboar's furiously energetic set.

Garvy J

Monday, April 23, 2012

Dig That Too

From the Mailbag
New and Right Now

So, here's the deal. I can't begin to listen to, digest or publish everything we receive. About once or twice a month in 2012*, I will be randomly opening new mail and so long as the stuff is potentially of interest to our music-crazed audiences, we'll publish it. This week, was an easy pick as we found the throwback sound from Wisconsin youngsters NEON much to our liking. Check out the music video by Director Nick Walsh below. (*or as often as I remember to do so... Ed.)

Neon are offering up a free download of the same and it's one catchy number. Let's keep our eyes (and more importantly, our ears) peeled for more from this lot!

free mp3 download

Recorded and mixed at Matt Olson's Ghost In My House Studio in Onalaska, WI.


Sunday, April 22, 2012

Levon Helm at Life is Good 2011

Remembering The Music
Rest In Peace, Levon Helm

Photos by Kira Doucette
Words by Julie Stoller

Live from Life is good 2011
Prowse Farm - Canton, MA


A few words on Levon's passing from Life is Good's James Macdonald:

"In the winter, as I sat down with Bert and John Jacobs to discuss talent for that September’s Life is good Festival, there was one name that kept rising to the top of the “must have” list - Levon Helm. You consider booking certain acts for different reasons…some look forward, others reminisce, all hopefully inspire and others just land in a category called “legendary” – and Levon Helm was squarely in that space. Levon Helm was a product of a time in America that is long gone now…and was disappearing then..." [full open letter]

AN ALL STAR PERFORMANCE - The Band’s classic “Ophelia” got the rambunctious New Orleans brass band treatment, and they performed other old favorites such as “This Wheel’s On Fire” (written by Rick Danko and Bob Dylan, on Music from Big Pink, 1968), “Long Black Veil” (also on Big Pink, written by Danny Dill and Marijohn Wilkin), and “Tears of Rage” (written by Dylan and Richard Manual, which appeared on The Basement Tapes). These classics were joined by a satisfying collection of R&B, country, folk, and some piano-driven honky tonk blues, creating an atmosphere of joyous celebration.

For the last part of their show, Levon's Band were joined by member of the Boston Pops, with guest conductor Daniel Bernard Roumain, who briefly put down his baton to pick up a fiddle (oh excuse me, a violin; I suppose in this case it’s not polite to call it a fiddle…). If an extraordinary group of performers could sound even more extraordinary, then this was it. The sound was overflowing with richness, starting with an acoustic folk ballad, beautifully executed and sweetly sung with three-part harmony.

A survivor in every sense of the word, Helm battled throat cancer in the late 1990s and underwent radiation treatments, steering clear of any singing for several years. His voice miraculously returned and though rough and raspy now, he contributed a few solo verses, most notably during their brilliant finale of The Band’s “The Weight,” which sounded great and inspired wild cheering of appreciation.


Several performing shared the singing duties, including Ray LaMontagne, who was invited on stage for a handful of songs. His Joe Cocker-invoking vocals are genuine and deeply soulful, and he came back on a bit later for his own heartfelt, bluesy set, closing out a weekend of spectacular music in grand style.

Levon Helm Band
Web / Fb / Wiki

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Levon Helm at Newport Folk 2010

Remembering The Music
Rest In Peace, Levon Helm

Dear Friends,

Thank you fans and music lovers who have made Levon's life so filled with joy and celebration... he has loved nothing more than to play, to fill the room up with music, lay down the back beat, and make the people dance! He did it every time he took the stage... We appreciate all the love and support and concern." - From his daughter Amy, and wife Sandy

Levon Helm Band
Web / Fb / Wiki

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Rock 'n Rumble Semi-Finals Night #1

Live Impressions
by Julie Stoller
by 5342 Studios
April 12th, 2012

Bow Thayer and the Perfect Trainwreck!


We’re getting down to it, folks. No more messing around, the gloves are coming off, and Boston’s music fans were treated to ferocious jams on Thursday night, as preliminary winners fought hard for a place in next week’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Rumble finals. There was ferocious 50s-style garage rock on the front end, hardcore headbanging on the back end, and sandwiched in-between, a rather breathless battle between the considerable musical prowess of Bow Thayer and Perfect Trainwreck, and the elegant old-timey Americana of Cask Mouse.

Thick Shakes launched right into it, with Lindsay ‘s tough-chick vocals and Tim and his guitar careening dangerous around the stage, towering menacingly above the audience at the front, and then unexpectedly jumping in. Loud with relentless energy, everyone thrashed it out, with a cool vintage organ fury throughout. And what they perhaps lacked in delicacy and polish, they made up for in sheer enthusiasm, Tim succinctly summing it up and the end by collapsing onto the stage at the end of a frenetic fit.

Thick Shakes

Bow Thayer

Bow Thayer and Perfect Trainwreck once again brought the level of the proceedings up a notch… make that a really big notch. The audience was simply blown away by their sophisticated arrangements and perfectly paced set that mixed it up between rollicking hillbilly mountain jams and sprawling, dreamy forays that focused on the beautiful interplay of Bow’s warm vocals and electric banjo and Chris McGandy’s mesmerizing pedal steel. James Rohr, as he was the last time, was a mad genius on organ and piano. They have this soulful synergy, evident by how incredibly tight they sound and how smoothly they interact. This was especially true on one particularly awe-inspiring jam, with Bow on banjo, Jeff on drums and Jeremy on bass working it into a most serious groove, becoming one soul.

Bow Thayer and Perfect Trainwreck
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Cask Mouse

Next up was Cask Mouse. They quickly captivated the room with their sweet down-home folky-Americana that speaks of a simpler time. Their joy of performance and love and appreciation of their audience (largest of the evening) and deep respect for each other was as endearing as their music. They shared lead vocal duties, each with their own unique personality, like Bonnie Parks’ gentle country chanteuse on one tune, and earlier on in the set, playful and coy with a fun kazoo solo. Highlights included the times when they stretched into expansive, heartwarming 3-part harmonies, delightfully meandering pedal steel and the audio-visual enjoyment of ‘big man’ Joe, arms covered in tattoos, alternately sawing away at and coaxing beautifully delicate melodies from his fiddle. Though they complimented Bow Thayer and Perfect Trainwreck (“my goodness, those boys can play”), I felt that Cask Mouse gave them a run for their money.

Cask Mouse
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I don’t think anything could have prepared me for Motherboar. Let’s just say it was sensible planning that put these boys on last. The crowd had thinned a bit but it soon became clear that those squeezed up to the front of the stage were devout Motherboar believers. It was a pummeling attack of hardcore headbanging, mind-melting, metal cacophony, superb musicianship, spewed and flung drinks back and forth from stage to pit, and audience members taking turns at shrieked vocals - a mini-Mayhem Festival, if you will. Hard, heavy, and uncompromising, I must admit I’m not typically a big fan of the genre, but I found myself transfixed. There’s no arguing with greatness.

facebook / twitter / bandcamp

Winners of the evening, not surprisingly, were Bow Thayer and Perfect Trainwreck, who are now headed to the finals. However, speculation abounds about the “wildcard” band to be added to next week’s grand finale. Who could it be? Motherboar, perhaps? [Editor's Note: Yes it was Motherboar who advanced to the finals.]

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

VIDEO: We Are Augustines - Juarez

New Music Video:
Our Favorite Bands

Billy McCarthy of We Are Augustines
at the Paradise in Boston 3-26-12 ~ Chris March photo

Directed by Matt Amato

We are Augustines
iTunes / Web / Fb / Tw / My

RSL Editor's Pick:
Rise Ye Sunken Ships as
2011 Album of the Year

Rumble Night Six Coverage

Live Impressions
by Ryan Spaulding

by Kira Doucette
Night 6 - April 7th, 2012 -

The End of the Beginning of the 2012 Rumble arrived with the onset of Preliminary Night Six. And this lineup - hosted on the only Saturday night of the Rumble, looked to be the loudest and most raucous of the entire affair. As it turned out this was the only predictable element of the entire night..

Motherboar won - powered by the loudest set of the week


On the outside looking in the night offered us one of the best girl-powered rock and performance acts in the region with The Grinds. (We just saw them on New Years and they kicked serious ass.) We knew to expect epic hard rock from underground favorite metal-heads Motherboar and then there was Streight Angular - musicians known as much for their ability to throw down in a party situation as they did musically. (Interestingly, Both of those areas -music and networking- have earned Streight Angular significant gains the last year. They are a band on the rise.) The real wild card for this attendee was Sherman Burns. I had never heard them play a lick before and with all the music still ringing in my ears from SxSW and the week preceding from this year's Rumble - I hadn't had the opportunity to have a listen. (The band's mock publicity shots in Bill Cosby / Grandma sweaters I intuitively suspected was a joke or a ruse..) We were all in for a surprise! This was a night to remember...

On any other night this could have been the loudest set - the guitar was wild, the vocals loud and the drums, pounding. Probably the most rounded act, The Grinds played a huge night of music. They sounded even better than they did the last time I saw them -- and that's all you can ask of any Rumble band... leaving it all out on stage!

The Grinds
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Whoooa! Sherman Burns. You play loud, progressive metal. Evidently a lot of people in the room (many of them clad in black t-shirts, attending to see Motherboar, and who also never seen Sherman Burns) turned to catch what looked to be the pinnacle of volume for the night. Grinding, trudging, the band climbed through a series of guitar solos and strong progressions to reach a series of cathartic heights - before bringing it all back down. Regardless of what becomes of this Rumble - Sherman Burns will end up being one of the winners as they stole the hearts of many attending Motherboar fans - and the respect of the judges...

Sherman Burns

Sherman Burns
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Two things were very clear from the get-go... Motherboar were determined to be the loudest set of the night and the week (they were) and that they were confident of their ability to win. They filled the room with their fans and that kind of enthusiasm is hugely contagious. The guitar and drum frenzy spilled out across the night. Everybody on the block new Motherboar was playing. If you dig metal kids, this is your ticket..

The biggest shift in the room we saw all week long happened then. All the black t-shirts and sweaty metal kids vacated the front of the room and left for the bar. Hipsters and cool kids crowded to the front (this was a real changing over of the room) as Streight Angular set up. Right away it was difficult not to take note of the neon colors and face paint. I called Streight Angular a "party band" at the start of this piece and it's a most apt description. Slowly the members took the stage, one-by-one, adding the elements of music they were responsible for as they joined. Where was Al Polk?

Polk, the singer/ring leader of the band - and probably the wildest SOB we've met in years, was nowhere to be found. The room was dark and the lights on stage were glowing to match the face paint as Al Polk took the stage. The room was full of excitement and the band broke into song. There was a lot of exuberance and yelling as friends of the band joined the stage and tossed out beads and light sticks. Streight Angular is kind of interactive theater.. And this was a wild way to end another epic night of Rumble madness!

Al Polk of Streight Angular

Streight Angular
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