Sunday, December 21, 2008
Soooo... how 'bout that New England weather? I felt the novelty wear off after about the 40th straight hour of snowfall. Yeesh.
I titled this a 'fiver', but it's gonna end up much longer. Hey, no complaints outta you.
File under EPIC: Kristin Hersh's rumble-rock power-trio 50 Foot Wave has just unleashed a massive new recording entitled "Power + Light", streaming in all its glory on their CASHmusic site. It's an awe-inspiring, 26-minute, prog-punk epic in multiple movements, and it simply kills. Kills even harder with headphones.
A bit of backstory, something I didn't ever share on the 'Nac as there weren't proper words, and it took quite awhile to sink in -- my own 2008 began with one of the most unique musical experiences I could imagine: I was invited to hang out in a studio with a couple other Throwing Muses / Kristin Hersh fans while Kristin not only worked on some new songs (including the now-released "Morning Birds" and "Around Dusk"), but reworked some Muses classics with drummer David Narcizo. It was an invitation that I actually hesitated to accept, knowing how stressful studio time can be, not wanting to intrude on a situation that could be inherently uncomfortable. But my name was drawn randomly from hundreds of fans who had put any amount of money in Kristin's listener-supported tip jar, and having met both her and her husband-slash-manager Billy a bunch of times over the years, I trusted that the potential for awkwardness was minimal. How could I possibly say no to such luck, to hanging out with a couple of my musical heroes, to watching a guy play drums who was one of the very reasons I started playing my own in the first place? So my hesitation was fleeting.
It was a beautiful January day, a relatively short drive down to Stable Sound Studio in Portsmouth Rhode Island, and ended up being a simultaneously surreal and totally comfortable experience. Our hosts (including owner/engineer Steve Rizzo) were more than gracious, the environment perfectly relaxing (with comfy couches and a window view of the adjoining, horse-filled stable), and the music made within was magical. Steve entertained with details of what had long ago gone down in that space, including the recording of some early Throwing Muses work. Unsurprisingly, hearing some old Muses faves (like "America (She Can't Say No)", "The Letter", "And A She-Wolf After The War") stripped down and reinterpreted (to provide backing for Kristin's one-woman-show "Paradoxical Undressing") produced chills, but my mind was most blown by a special preview of a just-finished number: 50 Foot Wave's "Power + Light". I stood there for nearly a half-hour in total amazement, asking questions afterwards about the recording (yes, it was all in one take), and dying to know when/how it was going to be released. Billy said plans weren't finalized, but he hoped to do something unique, and it's been a long year waiting to see those plans revealed.
So far, aside from the now-available stream, the only facts are these: In a matter of days it should be available for download, and additionally, there will be a way to pre-order four different editions of colored vinyl (black, magenta, yellow and cyan). I'll be eagerly awaiting further info, which should appear shortly on the new forum at KristinHersh.com.
In addition to that hearty dose of 50'~, there's some other great news for Kristin followers: The return of Throwing Muses. A trio since Tanya Donelly bowed out in 1992, the band (including drummer David and bassist Bernard Georges) will embark on their first live dates in awhile next year, including a stop at All Tomorrow's Parties in the UK in May (invited by curators The Breeders), and more relevantly for yours truly, a Boston area show at the Middle East in Cambridge on Saturday, March 14th (the location leaves open the possibility of a Tanya cameo... just sayin'). Tickets will be available via Ticketb@st@rd and the Middle East box office (no fees!) starting next Friday morning, December 26th. And get this: openers include 50 Foot Wave, with K and Bernard pulling double duty that night. Wonder if they'll dare to run through "Power + Light" for us? Now that'd be something.
And just in case you haven't been paying attention: Kristin Hersh has released a full album's worth of fantastic solo material via her own CASHmusic site over the past year, one song for free download each month, all to be gathered on an eventual CD release. Like I said, it's all free, although donations are highly encouraged (and that's exactly how I got randomly selected to hang in the studio last January).
Mary Timony, who's long been releasing solo material since Helium's disbandment, is back with a new combo called Pow Wow, and they make their debut tonight in DC at Comet Ping Pong, with The Felt Letters opening. If you're down there, and end up going (um, you should), they're on first at 9pm. Mary's on guitar and vocals, Jonah Takagi (Garland of Hours) is also on guitar, Winston Yu (a name that should sound familiar to Bostonians) has keyboard duty, and the drummer is Darren Zentek. Looks like they've got another DC show on January 10th at the Black Cat, so I'm hoping a northeast trek will happen at some point. Can't wait to hear what they sound like.
Daytrotter has been on fire over the past few months with excellent live sessions. Check out some stellar performances from Crooked Fingers, Film School, The Broken West, and Wye Oak.
An annual tradition: Jordan Jeffares of Atlanta quartet Snowden has made the 2004 holiday-themed "Licorice EP" available for free download once again. Never officially released, it's got three Christmas songs and an acoustic original titled "China Light". Grab it over on their MySpace page.
Some other Snowden goodness: Their appearance at SxSW last May was documented on video by the crew at Switchburn, and you can check out the multi-camera footage here. All three camera angles are show simultaneously as the band runs through "Anti-Anti", "Like Bullets", "Black Eyes", "Between the Rent and Me", "Candy For Everyone", "Keep Quiet", "So Red", "Innocent Heathens", and "Filler Is Wasted" at Stubb's last May 29th in Austin. So good. Has me hankering for their follow-up to 2006's "Anti-Anti", and odds are high that we'll see it in 2009. The evidence? Snowden in-studio footage shared in August. Teases.
It's official: Live music returns to Lansdowne Street in February 2009 when the new House of Blues Boston opens its doors. The space (which gutted the Avalon, Axis, and more) will fit a sell-out crowd of 2400, and also throws in a restaurant, merch store, and a "VIP Club", whatever that entails. Along with, I'm assuming, some fairly pricey beverage selections and a generous supply of blacklights.
The first batch of shows went on sale yesterday, and includes: Gipsy Kings (2/20), BB King & Buddy Guy (2/22), Jimmy Eat World (2/26), The Disco Biscuits (2/28), Flogging Molly (3/10), The Pogues (3/21), Cut Copy (3/22), John Brown’s Body (4/25), and a 5-night stand from the Dropkick Murphys (3/13-3/17). For more info, check the venue's new site, or their Live Nation location. Already grabbed myself a ticket to that Jimmy Eat World "Clarity" tour... something I'm surprised I found myself doing. Haven't been into the band in a very long time, but I hold that album dear, so I'll be there celebrating its 10th anniversary when the bands runs through it all. Good excuse to check out the HoB's new digs.
If you look at the calendar for Allston venue Great Scott, you'll see that last night, tonight, and tomorrow look like your above-average string of solid local lineups on the cheap (just $5 a night). But what the site doesn't say is that they all take place for a common goal: A three-night celebration marking the 40th birthday of my neighbor and friend, Steve, aka ssg. Maker of chocolate, husband to Weth, and probably the most committed fan of Boston-made music I know. The guy goes to more local shows than anyone who's not paid to do so (i.e. soundmen, bartenders), and I envy both his energy and enthusiasm. So it's unsurprising that so many great local bands are taking part in his extended birthday party.
(poster via quadceratops)
Last night saw Helms, Harris, Faces on Film, and Hangman's Alphabet kick things off. Tonight brings Hallelujah the Hills, Aloud, Nassy, and Ad Frank & Sarah Rabdau. And tomorrow (Monday night), when Steve officially hits the big 4-oh, will feature Tristan da Cunha, Tom Fitzgerril, and the mighty Neptune. Steve is clearly a man of taste. Happy Birthday to ya, neighbor.
Speaking of Hallelujah the Hills, frontman Ryan Walsh sat down to record a little Christmas cover last week for fans, and ended up with... an Innocence Mission cover? Hey, we'll take it...
And lastly, the Wedding Present have just released a digital Christmas single entitled "Holly Jolly Hollywood" (keeping up the LA theme of their "El Rey" album), and it's available via both Amazon, eMusic (both DRM free), and iTunes (blech). Three tracks, two songs: The title cut (a duet with Simone White), an acoustic version with Weddoes bass player Terry de Castro handling the female vocals, and a gentle take on the classic "White Christmas". A video for "Holly Jolly Holywood with Gedge and Ms. White can be viewed here. And its sunny setting makes all this winter white stuff outside that much heavier. But not heavy enough to keep me from Great Scott tonight.
live in cambridge, ma
on november 14th, 2008
previously: joy formidable - boston 2011
recent posts on the 'nac...
on the nightstand
boston-area music bloggers
boston music media