Category Archives: music

Lovers’ rock

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Drug Rug
When we first started doing press, that’s all people wanted to talk about. And we were like, “Fuck, that’s so annoying.”

Despite their fatigue with the topic — being in a relationship that exists within a band (or vice versa) — Sarah Cronin and Tommy Allen (who’s quoted above), of the Cambridge-based, Beatles-esque, lo-fi rock band Drug Rug, are surprisingly welcoming and amicable when I visit them at their Inman Square apartment on a Friday afternoon. Cronin and Allen know what I’m there to talk about, but apparently they’re not holding it against me.

Their frustrations are understandable. Much like Jenny Lewis would rather not be known for her childhood acting gigs — starring in Troop Beverly Hills and The Wizard and Jakob Dylan probably wishes just one journalist would neglect to mention his legendary-rocker father, most couples in bands don’t want the “couple” part to loom over the “band” part. But like rock musicians, music journalists are always looking for hooks, and romance is a tempting element to any band’s narrative.

Still, there’s telling the story, and then there’s selling the story — for example, an early press release described Drug Rug, much to their chagrin, as a “magical love duo.” Even for Cronin and Allen, though, the line between bandmates and boyfriend/girlfriend is often vague, and sometimes nonexistent.

Read the full article here.

Mixed media.

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A still from E.J. Barnes’ animated short, The Leatherwing Bat

Last Saturday’s mixed-bill affair at the Papercut Zine Library was a strange hybrid of contemporary salon, multimedia talent show, and impromptu modern-dance class (with instructions to move our bodies “like fire”). Around these parts, such an event may be possible only at Papercut, the volunteer-staffed ‘zine-lending venue that occupies the creaky, wood-paneled first floor of the Democracy Center on Mount Auburn Street in Harvard Square.

At first, wandering in felt like trespassing on a stranger’s house party. Folding chairs littered a back room where the performances took place, the audience strolling in and out in the course of the evening. Unpretentiousness was a theme of the night. When Zine librarian Rachel Suskewicz instructed us to sing along with one of her sparse folk tunes, we did so ungrudgingly. After her set, a man in a gray hoodie assured us with endearing concern: “In case you’re confused, don’t leave yet! There are plenty more acts to come.”

And there were.

Read on here.

Dodos and other news.

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FOLKY, NOT FOLKSY: Sarah Palin couldn’t compete with the Dodos last Thursday.

Even though the Dodos’ show a week ago Thursday at the Museum of Fine Arts sold out, the San Franciscan duo were aware of a conflicting engagement. “Welcome to the 2008 Vice-Presidential Debates,” singer Meric Long joked with ironic solemnity.

The timing was all the two events had in common. Whereas Sarah Palin spewed folksy, confused verbiage, the Dodos (signed to Les Savy Fav’s Frenchkiss Records last December) played endearingly folk-y music — acoustic guitars and percussion, peppered with avant-garde elements — for a stuffed Remis Auditorium. And unlike their flightless namesakes, they often seemed on the verge of flying off, that due in part to Logan Kroeber’s frenzied drumming (augmented by a clattering tambourine strapped firmly to his shoe). Long sat hunched over his guitar, as though channeling the energy to keep up with Kroeber, alternating between quick strums and even quicker fingerpicking. Percussionist Joe Haener, who’s accompanying the band on tour, hopped in to give a metal trash can a whack or plunk an enormous xylophone.

Read more here.

PS – The answers. Sarah Vowell voiced the character Violet in The Incredibles. Juana Molina voiced Elastigirl for the Argentinian dub of the film.

PPS – Age Rings’ new singles, “Rock and Roll is Dead,” and “Caught Up in the Sound” are officially out! Largehearted boy has already caught wind of them. Check the songs out here, and come see their single release show with Hooray for Earth, Viva Viva, DJ Die Young, and Baltimoroder this Saturday at Great Scott!

Rock and roll is dead.

I made a poster:

The show by street artists that’s not about street art… sort of.

Photo by Hargo

Photo by Hargo

You could say I’m slightly obsessed with the Wall in Central Square. It’s sort of the same way I feel about certain bands, or certain musicians. Like when I’m watching a really phenomenally great band, and it’s maybe a band that not many people have heard of, or that isn’t making any money really (that’s pretty much everyone nowadays), and I get to witness That Moment. The moment where someone is just totally and completely lost in the music – hunched over, or crawling on the floor, or shaking their head, and sweating, and just totally oblivious that anyone is watching, because they are so absorbed and enamored by what they are creating, and I’m sort of caught up in it, too – well, those are my favorite moments. It’s amazing and slightly overwhelming, even just to witness, especially when it’s people I know or am friends with, because I feel suddenly feel so in awe of them that I don’t even know what to say afterwards. “Great show?” “Thanks for spilling your guts out on stage for no apparent reason other than just to do it?” And this is what makes me love music.

And that’s the same feeling I get from street art. When you walk into the alleyway by Central Kitchen that encompasses the Wall, it’s like the visual incarnation of that moment. Honestly, I think I have a stronger emotional reaction to the wall than to the Louvre or the nine million churches I was forced to visit for art history classes in Italy. I’ve always been more of a modern/20th-21st century art gal. The Mona Lisa, etc. always felt sort of dead to me, not just in the sense that the artist is literally dead, of course, but it just didn’t really speak to me in any way that later art, also by now-deceased artists like Mark Rothko or Matisse could. Obviously there is a place in this world for fine art; there’s a whole chain of influences in place. But visiting the Wall just feels so now. It’s truly imaginative, put there for no other reason than to create art, and all you have to do to see it is walk down the street.

So, when I heard about the latest show at the Distillery Gallery, in South Boston, I knew I had to write about it – just based on the list of names alone: Hargo, Dark Clouds, Buildmore, Kenji, Noir Boston, Alphabet Soup…

From today’s Phoenix:

Not long after walking into the Distillery Gallery on a Monday evening, Thomas Buildmore removes two painted-over NO PARKING signs that had been screwed into the wall. “This show isn’t about street art,” he says.

If it were, “we’d have some cliché conversation about street art versus fine art.” Moments prior, I’d had that cliché conversation, with Cantabridgian artist Morgan Thomas. We agreed that “Paint It Now” — the show that opens tonight at the first-floor alt-gallery in the Distillery, South Boston’s living space-cum-artistic haven — is street art moved into the fine-art world. It’s just a change of location, with the added luxury of time, which most street artists — who are constantly looking over their shoulders — lack.

Buildmore’s sentiment is a surprising one, given that the show features a dozen or so artists, many of whom use city walls as their canvases. He and Thomas, who are part of a collective called Overkill Studio that’s based in the same building, organized the show with Scott Chase, the director of the Distillery Gallery.

The idea behind “Paint It Now” is simple: give two white walls and an unending supply of black paint to several of Boston and New York’s young artistic talents, and see what happens.”

Read the rest here. (Or come to the opening tonight.) Also, I took a film making class, and made my first ever movie at (you guessed it!) THE WALL. I’ll post that eventually.

Fast and dirty!

It was one of those nights where the Middle East crowd spills onto the sidewalk and then into the street (cars be damned), creating a scene that rivals the one inside the venue. Upstairs, the Seattle-based Sub Pop indie-folk band Fleet Foxes were playing; downstairs the Hollywood art-punk duo No Age, also Sub Poppers, held forth. The rivaling headlining sets from these hot-button labelmates felt just wrong — like your best friend throwing a party the same night as you.

Randy Randall and Dean Allen Spunt, the surprisingly unpunkish-looking pair who make up No Age, were unfazed — then again, there’s probably not much that pisses off two dudes who play free shows at vegan supermarkets.

Read on here.

Wednesday headphone songs

Oh, hello. Here’s a list of songs I’m currently listening to overandoverandoverandover. Some are old, some are new, some aren’t even officially “out” yet. Listen to them with a solid pair of headphones – not earbuds! Why not try the sparkling pair above? – they’re better that way. Sort of like hot dogs are always better at baseball games, popcorn is always better at movies (even when it costs half your paycheck), and coffee is better… oh wait, coffee’s always good. Listen away, friends:

French Kicks, “Abandon” from Swimming

Blitzen Trapper, “The Green King Sings” from Wild Mountain Nation

Beck, “Chemtrails” from Modern Guilt

The Helio Sequence, “Keep Your Eyes Ahead” from Keep Your Eyes Ahead

Faces on Film, “Natalie’s Numbers” from The Troubles

Deerhunter, “Little Kids” from Microcastle

Boards of Canada, “Dawn Chorus” from Geogaddi

Age Rings, “Rock ‘n’ Roll is Dead” from Black Honey (But I’m not allowed to post this one yet, because I don’t have the final version. So you’ll have to trust me – it’s awesome.)