Friday, December 29, 2017

End Of The Year mixtape

It's not a Best Of List.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Dharmasoul are the new kids on the block

"Jonah and I first met when we were 15. We were united playing electric blues,"  remembers drummer Kevin Clifford. His Dharmasoul bandmate is celebrated Northeast recording artist Jonah Tolchin who he's been playing with informally for nearly half of his life. "Looking back, I remember thinking (Tolchin) just had this wicked guitar style - and he could play harmonica."

During an hour-long interview I chatted with the pair who are preparing for live dates in support of Dharmasoul's debut album, Lightning Kid. A Kickstarter for the record will power the release, anticipated in The Spring. Everything about the pair and their music are uplifting. 


BLESS YOUR CHILDREN was produced by Jonah Tolchin & Kevin Clifford. It was recorded and Mixed by Pete Weiss at Verdant Studios Mastered by Joe Gastwirt. 

Jonah Tolchin - Electric Guitar/Vocals
Kevin Clifford - Drums/Vocals
Cindy Walker - Backing Vocals
Marie Lewey - Backing Vocals
Brendan Moore - Keyboards
Matt Murphy - Upright & Electric Bass 
Laurence Scudder - Viola

The story of the band's formation begins back in 2016, Tolchin (a former Yep Roc label artist) determined that he wanted to pursue a new solo album. He booked sessions for a new record, which ultimately ended up being used by the duo to record "Lightning Kid" as Dharmasoul. In-conversation as with their music, Jonah and Kevin have great chemistry and flow..

"The two of us were playing out on the road with Helen Rose, " Tolchin remembers. "One night our friend Chris (Freeman) from Parsonsfield heard Kevin and I playing together. He said to me, 'Jonah, this is the best thing I've ever seen you do. This is a band'.. Maybe two weeks later, we were coming up with the name of the band and forming this vision."


A conversation with the pair reveals their influences to be a strange but beautiful mélange of Seventies standbys and classics, electric rhythm & blues, guitar rock and even punk. A musical hodgepodge if there ever was one - with one connecting component: energy.

"What's my ideal Dharmasoul show?" Clifford says, repeating my question back at me. 

"We want the show to be a place where people can expect to groove and let loose! We want people to walk away from our shows feeling uplifted, " he says. "It's almost like concerts can be like therapy. At least they are for us, anyway."

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Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Heating things up with The Z-Boys

SOUNDS ON THE RISE - The Z-Boys are a Newport, RI music sensation. Who the heck are these guys, you ask?

Describing the band's genre can be a little problematic as they're this most perfect crossbreed of sounds including; Surf, Southwest Dance and Latin Country. So crazy, authentic vintage sounds. Right? Well yes, sure, but they're also so much more.

The Z-Boys lineup; Amato Zinno (bass) Ziggy Coffey (drums) and Greg Burgess (guitar) like to describe themselves as a 'power trio' as there's a chance that any live performance could escalate into hard rock epiphanies and heavy metal solos. I am not even kidding. A missive on the band's facebook page says it all: "If you can pick your jaw up off the floor, you may find yourself dancing until the tequila emerges from all your pores." This is a group with three experienced and versed players. Having fun. Gauntlet has been tossed. 

Insane Outlaw Art by Canary Coalmine

The Z-Boys have been added to The Outlaw Roadshow's huge downtown Providence lineup on Thurs, Dec 21 at Alchemy. The show is absolutely free to the public thanks to the support of Loren Hope. We want to thank them and beg you to come to this killer night of music and support amazing music! I think you'll come to agree that The Z-Boys are the perfect addition to an already-stacked night of music.

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Friday, December 08, 2017

Live Act of the Year: Town Meeting

I've literally been all around the world for music over the last two years and I've seen it all. There's nobody out there quite like Town Meeting.. our selection for 2017 Live Music Act of the Year.

Town Meeting in Nashville 

Town Meeting are saints with devils atop their shoulders and wings. With a flurry of mesmerizing, action-fueled folk and having the equal ability to soar with mountain-man gospel, this is authentic, enriching music everyone can love. And as the calendar turns to 2018, we find this amazing act to on the verge of greatness. 

Thousands have been exposed to Town Meeting's music when they opened for Bob Dylan, Sturgill Simpson and Willie Nelson. But it's the small concert halls where I found their performances to be the most inspired. 

Lauryn Sophia photograph

Town Meeting have made a commitment to performance that's proven time-and-again at their live shows. And thanks to the internet and a whole lot of word of mouth praise, this well-kept secret's not much of a mystery these days.

Town Meeting is Brothers Luke Condon, Russ Condon and Brendan Collin, Dean Adrien and Tim Cackett. Our "Live Act of the Year," Town Meeting also earned "Roots Act of the Year" at the New England Music Awards and collected two Boston Music Awards nominations. 

a sold out show in Portland this month

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Tuesday, December 05, 2017

Q&A with Boston's Mirabella Brothers

Already recognized with two Boston Music Award nominations and a number of Best of 2017 nods (here's our album review), The Rationales stand atop an impressive list of contemporary acts in the Northeast today. 

That's where I caught up with David and Mike Mirabella, the brothers at the center of The Rationales. We soon got to talking about all-things creative, songwriting and a brief debate between the brother about who released the best record of 2017. 

David and Mike Mirabella in the city this week. 
The Rationales are up for two Boston Music Awards.
Sandra Miller photograph

RSL: Guys, fantastic record - Upstream is one of my very favorite albums of the year. Congratulations. So David, from our previous discussions, I know you were writing everything. Has anything changed? I know this album was a little different, a bit more collaborative. Was relinquishing that role, as sole creator, difficult or was it liberating?

David: In the past, most songs I’d bring in were not so collaborative until the arrangement phase. That’s when everyone adds their own parts and put their stamp on it. Making it a Rationales song. Recently that’s changing as Chad has started bringing in some amazing music that I’m adding other parts and lyrics to. So the next record Will be more truly collaborative.  

RSL: Okay, that's the perfect time to ask a question of you Mike. You sang on "Climb The Ladder" during the bridge of the track. What was it like having a larger role on this record? How did that work out? 

Mike: Dave brings the songs into the practice room with an "open invite" to put our own stamp on the songs. Sometimes that can be as simple as an idea to put a pause before a chorus or in the case of this album it was a lead vocal. The vocal line just fell from the sky and into my head. 

David: "Climb the Ladder" is a good example of how things can go. I come up w something, hit on a melody and the song follows. More often than not I record it on the phone, develop an arrangement and bring it to the band. We rearrange it together with people adding parts to what framework I bring. Ladder started out similar. I had the riff one day and came up with the verses and chorus. I loved the idea of a “leaving in the fall” song. The riff just felt like a deep cut Aerosmith/driving back roads of NH sort of thing. 

RSL: Let's listen to it and see if we can get a sense of what you're talking about. 

David: I was so excited about this song I brought it to the band with only a rough idea for a bridge finished. After a week of working on it, I said, this doesn’t feel special: and asked Dave Lieb to take a crack at it on Piano, he threw out one of my chords and added that half time feel, and bang! We had that Piano breakdown - before we had made it thru a couple times mike was coming up with the part Mike sings over it and it just all fell into place from there. 

Mike: My lyrics just seemed to fit in real nice over what Dave Lieb was playing on keys. To me, whats most important is playing to the song.

David: Yes, and it’s like this little collaborative cinematic mini song that lives inside a song I came up with. I think it makes both parts better to exist alongside each other.

RSL: Great stuff guys. Okay, this one's sure to be interesting. Who are you favorite musicians? Who influences you (together or apart) as you make the music we know as The Rationales?

David: The Stones, Dylan, all projects by Jeff Tweedy, David Lowery, and Greg Dulli, Buffalo Tom, Beatles, the band, big star, the church, Aerosmith, Radiohead, poi dog pondering, The Jayhawks, Matt Pond PA, The Weakerthans, Nada Surf, and David Baerwald, etc.etc etc. But those are the ones I think you can hear in our music.

Mike:  My early influences include everything from The Beatles, Zeppelin and Tom Petty to Peal Jam, Weezer, and Jimmy Eat World. These days I find myself rotating through lots of The Decemberists, John K. Sampson, Nada Surf, Jason Isbell, and Counting Crows.

RSL: So I've already communicated that I love your record and it's one of my favorites of 2017. Do you each have a record that you would encourage or readers to go out and pick up?

Mike: For me it's The Nashville Sound by Jason Isbell and The 400 Unit. Fantastic front to back.

RSL: Such a great choice. That album is on my Best of List as well. Now I get to pose the same question to you David. What'll it be? 

David: Without a doubt based on impact and time spent listening: In Spades by Afghan Whigs - just so epic and emotional. I love the cinematic world (Greg) Dulli creates in his songs. I marvel at how he can rock so hard and be so atmospheric all at once.

RSL: Guys, thank you so much for sharing. Hope folks take a few minutes to get to know your music and enjoy "Upstream." It's a brilliant record and I cannot wait to see what comes next. 

Among the Best that Boston has to offer: The Rationales 
The Rationales are: Chad Raleigh, Adam Hand, David and Mike Mirabella, Sean Black and Dave Lieb.
Kevin DeLue photograph

Upstream Album Review

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Sunday, December 03, 2017

Matt York - Between The Bars

BEST OF 2017 - A year removed from touring the United States behind a country-inspired rock album, Matt York has offered up a sublime and brilliant new fusion record, Between The Bars, offering up songs and new traditions taken from the four winds. The results are inspired.

"All Over The Town" is a hybrid song with elements of The Hold Steady with guitar and bass (Joe McMahon) reminiscent of some of Ryan Adams' finest arrangements. "September's Coming" could have come from a Matt Logan Vasquez (Delta Spirit/Middle Brother) jam session. "Honkeytonk Hangover" is a glorious, slow-moving beast with 70s style and soul. It's a self-effacing ballad - if there is such a thing. I just know it works really well. And those are just the first three songs on the new record.

The patchwork-quilt of Between The Bars succeeds in part due to the oversight of the gifted Dave Brophy, who produced, mixed and mastered the record for York - who has really come into his own and should be counted among the very best in the Northeast today.

"When The War Began" is a raucous, upbeat vaudevillian affair about the battle within and the line in the sand that separates past and future tense.   

Matt York is One To Watch. This is an ambitious songwriter who's already moved on from this record and is already working on a whole new set of songs, but you would do well to spend some time here and linger for a while. Winning stuff. 

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Songs for the Super Moon

We know Full Moons effect the ocean tides and animal behavior. Police, Fire and Health workers will all tell you lunar cycles drastically impact human beings. A Super Moon is when the Moon's orbit takes it its closest position to our Earth. It's brighter and more impactful than at any other time.

At this moment, our moon is about 15% closer (therefore appearing larger) and about 30% brighter than usual. This one's is a full moon, a super moon and as the last winter moon of 2017, and therefore carries the meteorological title "The Cold Moon." That's a lot of lunar light.

Saturday, December 02, 2017

Dude York Break Up The Holidays

Holidays are intended to be real and metaphorical playgrounds for the children but generally speaking, kids grow up and a lot of people suffer during the holidays. That suffering comes in the forms of family disorder, relationship stresses, and abject loneliness. Who better to help seize the day than a rock band? The role of Drunken Santa this year will be played by Dude York. 

For the unacquainted, the Seattle three-piece have been a mainstay on the indie rock radio (including the Outlaw Roadshow podcast the last year-plus) and have now settled into the kind of creative place that lets them do a record like Halftime for the Holidays

If you love sugary-sweet vocals, breakup ballads and stabbing rock guitar, this rock band's the one for you.  The video for "Break Up Holiday" was directed, edited and animated by Sean Downey. Oh yeah, and good luck with your holiday pal.

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