Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Benjamin Grenville Back in Roman Traffic

Roman Traffic made the announcement this week that singer Benjamin Grenville is back with the band. I always had a hard time picturing Roman Traffic without Ben so I am excited to see the immensely talented vocalist is now back in the fold. Best of all for you readers, their material with Ben is available for free download at their bandcamp site. You can also stream some tracks below. This also gave me the opportunity to dig up a demo for their track "Breach" which I recorded with the band back in 2007 as some pre-production work. You can hear my questionable recorded skills below. As typical, I didn't have to ask for many takes from Ben; the vocal tracks speak for themselves.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Marnie Stern and Tera Melos Finger Tap Their Way Through The Middle East

On March 6, I had the privilege to see one of my favorite modern guitarists when the lovely and talented Marnie Stern played The Middle East Upstairs alongside Boston up-and-comers Drummers and insane technical wizards Tera Melos. It was to be a night of mind-blowing guitar wielding and complex musical arrangements. This was not one to see if you were looking for a typical show or accessible music. Most of what was presented that night would probably make the casual listener uneasy but it sounded ideal to my ears.

Rival Schools Teach Brighton Music Hall How to Rock

Around the time of its release in 2001, United by Fate, the debut from supergroup Rival Schools, was my absolute favorite record; I couldn’t get enough of it! As the years went by, I was left waiting for the follow-up and subsequently my listening habits took me away from the group. A decade later, Rival Schools have finally released their sophomore record, Pedals. It is an excellent return to form and besides contributing new favorites to my rotation, it had me revisiting the excellence of United by Fate. When I heard that the band would be touring, I knew I had to catch their live show when they came to town on March 5 to play at Brighton Music Hall. I almost skipped the show since I didn’t have a ticket and I was kicking ass at pool next door at The Silhouette but I decided I would see if there were still tickets available at the door before their set. I could not be happier that I did. 

Grass is Green Rock Sidehatch and Release Chibimoon

On March 4th, I had the chance to catch Grass is Green when they performed at Sidehatch’s complex for a pre-SXSW party. The group was hot off their east coast tour and you could hear that they were now a road tested band. They played a tight set of tunes from their debut, Yeddo, which was one of my favorite releases of 2010, but the highlights came from watching them perform new songs from their recently released record, Chibimoon. Below is a video of the band performing "Ste 007" from Yeddo as well as a stream of Chibimoon. You can catch them at SXSW this year if you are lucky enough to be making the trek down to Austin, TX. God knows, I wish I were going...

Out from the Inbox: DOOMSTAR!, RIBS, The Devil Whale, and Eksi Ekso

I've largely ignored the inbox associated with this blog (sorry, bands and PR folk!). Today, I took the time to skim through what I have been sent thus far in 2011 and there is some excellent stuff that needs to be heard (and a lot of crap that I'm ignoring - sorry again, bands and PR folk!). Below are some up-and-coming bands that I think are worth giving a spin. The image above, which I find to be quite awesome, is the cover to Eksi Ekso's new album, Brown Shark, Red Lion.

Cave In Strip Down at Great Scott

Keeping with the theme of seeing my all-time favorite bands performing special sets, I had the extremely rare opportunity to watch Cave In play a stripped down set at Great Scott on February 10. They were a last minute, surprise addition to the Wino / Scott Kelly show but they definitely stole the spotlight for me. This was quite the treat since they played "The Calypso" and "Everest" from the Tides of Tomorrow EP. These are songs that I never thought I would see live since the band returned to their metal roots and never play material from that era, which is much more accessible. The delicate versions of the aforementioned songs sounded incredible and the group did an excellent job of creating a full and captivating sound with the minimal approach. The set was preceded by a short, three song set by frontman Steve Brodsky. He began with an impressive cover of Still Life's "Sometimes". He then played an excellent new song called "Muddy Jar" and a Willie Nelson cover before bringing the band on stage. Videos of the event are below.

The Dismemberment Plan Confront The Ice of Boston

I thought I would write a few words about some of my favorite concerts so far in 2011. The first one of significance is The Dismemberment Plan on January 28 at Paradise Rock Club. The Dismemberment Plan has long been a favorite of mine and I was not about to miss the rare opportunity to see them live on their reunion tour when it stopped in Boston. The show had long been sold out but I was determined to get tickets. This meant spending the entire week frantically searching for tickets on craigslist that fit my modest budget. It was tough going but I found someone that wasn’t trying to capitalize on the high demand and just wanted to sell the tickets to a fan for face value. I made the voyage to pick up the tickets mid day and gratefully exchanged the cash for tickets for myself and a friend. The anticipation for the show was almost unbearable for the rest of the day.