SHOW PREVIEW: The Strypes
   So, what were all of you guys doing when you were 17 years old? Were you playing in a rock band, traveling the world, and performing on David Letterman? Didn’t think so. But, for the four members of The Strypes, that is exactly how they’re spending their teenage years. Formed in 2011 in Cavan, Ireland, The Strypes are singer Ross Farrelly, guitarist Josh McClorey, bassist Peter O’Hanlon, and drummer Evan Walsh. Their sound is gritty, fast-paced, and draws inspiration from 1970s rock bands like The Rolling Stones. Their genuine, unvarnished sound is particularly surprising given their young ages. Farrelly’s swagger is mesmerizing and gives the impression he’s been a frontman for much longer than 3 years. The band’s single “What a Shame” is a growling condemnation of major record labels set to a fun, danceable track. The Strypes’ debut album, Snapshot, is a short (only 35 minutes) but incredibly memorable raucous trip that leaves you wanting more. 
-Janice Freeman
The Strypes will perform at 9:30 Club on August 19.

SHOW PREVIEW: The Strypes

So, what were all of you guys doing when you were 17 years old? Were you playing in a rock band, traveling the world, and performing on David Letterman? Didn’t think so. But, for the four members of The Strypes, that is exactly how they’re spending their teenage years. Formed in 2011 in Cavan, Ireland, The Strypes are singer Ross Farrelly, guitarist Josh McClorey, bassist Peter O’Hanlon, and drummer Evan Walsh. Their sound is gritty, fast-paced, and draws inspiration from 1970s rock bands like The Rolling Stones. Their genuine, unvarnished sound is particularly surprising given their young ages. Farrelly’s swagger is mesmerizing and gives the impression he’s been a frontman for much longer than 3 years. The band’s single “What a Shame” is a growling condemnation of major record labels set to a fun, danceable track. The Strypes’ debut album, Snapshot, is a short (only 35 minutes) but incredibly memorable raucous trip that leaves you wanting more. 

-Janice Freeman

The Strypes will perform at 9:30 Club on August 19.

JOE’S JAZZY JAUNTS: Jeff Ballard Trio & Jenny Scheinman

Supergroups are a long held tradition in rock, but they have their place in jazz as well. In some cases, we can look back at the members of an ensemble and say “That was a great lineup!” (The quintets of Miles Davis come to mind) In others, a cast of musicians will look around and see who they’ve always wanted to play with, then unite. Drummer Jeff Ballard’s trio is a recent example of this.

Ballard, at age 50, has been on the scene for some time and played with a variety of important figures. He is probably best known for his work in the trio of Brad Mehldau, a versatile pianist. That group has tackled everything from Charlie Parker to Soundgarden, with an equal amount of precision.

In 2006, Ballard formed his own trio with alto saxophonist Miguel Zenón and guitarist Lionel Loueke. Both of them come from outside the US— Zenón from Puerto Rico and Loueke from Benin—and bring in elements of their native traditions.  All three musicians are adaptable to the point that they can draw from that reserve of knowledge for the purposes of conversation, rather than competitive showmanship. I heard Ballard speak a few months ago, and it was particularly clear that learning from foreign cultures excites him.

In January, the group put out its first album, titled Time’s Tales. It’s truly a melting pot, bouncing from style to style. The first track, “Virgin Forest”, features extended jams over a bed of skittering African rhythms. Ballard gets to show off the drum kit he put together for the occasion, mixing traditional percussion with more regional fare. You know that peppy sound you loved when Vampire Weekend mixed it with indie rock? Come here for the source.

Zenón showcases the Caribbean with an arrangement of “El Reparador de Sueños.” The song, by the Cuban composer Silvio Rodríguez, is a catchy little burst of sunshine. Loueke provides a soft repeating figure, while Zenón’s melodic line lounges over it. Ballard moves in the background, going from hi-hat taps to a martial snare beat.

The most intriguing inclusion on the album is a cover of Queens of the Stone Age’s “Hanging Tree,” which comes roaring in out of nowhere. Even with limited instrumentation, the group does a convincing hard rock impression. Loueke, usually reserved, lays on the distortion and Van Halen-esque shredding. Zenón’s sax measures up pretty evenly with Josh Homme’s vocal range, and he lets loose an impressive solo of his own.

For jaunt number two, I’m going to jump over to something completely different, and cheat a little. Violinist Jenny Scheinman has done some excellent work in a certain corner of the jazz world, focusing on original compositions and integrating a folk sound. She’s also worked with everyone from Wilco guitar wizard Nels Cline to Metallica.

Scheinman’s latest album is this year’s The Littlest Prisoner, which isn’t really jazzy but has the mitigating factor of being really good. She does more singing than on previous albums, displaying a restrained but focused vocal approach. She also has some excellent collaborators, including guitarist Bill Frisell and drummer Brian Blade.

Lead single “Run Run Run” provides an even mix of elements. Blade provides a quick patter on the snare, serving as a perpetual motion engine. Frisell gives minimal but effective harmonic support, as is his wont. Scheinman’s lyrics carry knowing words of caution for a lover who’s scared to commit. She busts out an instrumental solo in the middle, and it’s callback to those days when players had to package their best ideas in 16 bars or less.

If the current trend of Americana in popular music is your thing, give this one a shot. You won’t get massive anthems, but you will expert playing and quiet intelligence. And an exploration of Scheinman’s career will lead you in all sorts of interesting directions.

-Joe Ciccarello 

THIS ONE TIME AT BANDCAMP: Volume 4
This week’s picks are for the melancholy in all of us.
<a href=”http://fakeblood.bandcamp.com/album/lame-death” data-mce-href=”http://fakeblood.bandcamp.com/album/lame-death”>lame death by fake blood</a>
Fake Blood - Fake Blood is the bedroom project of a nineteen year old from New Jersey named Laura. The cool indifference of her monotone vocals and simple guitar tracks are somehow pregnant with raw emotion. There are a lot of lo-fi recordings on Bandcamp that sound very much like Fake Blood, but something about those three songs on lame death has me completely enamored and interested to see what other music she will put out.
<a href=”http://cigarette.bandcamp.com/album/gush” data-mce-href=”http://cigarette.bandcamp.com/album/gush”>’gush’ by cigarette</a>
Cigarette - These DC natives put out folky lo-fi psych-rock full of a melancholy that’s easy to sway to. Their album gush is an easy listen that you could get lost in for hours. The tracks are long (one nears the seven minute mark) and layered with a complexity that slowly builds. The music is beautifully sad, but with that all-important glimmer of hope.
<a href=”http://flashlighto.bandcamp.com/album/the-truman-sho” data-mce-href=”http://flashlighto.bandcamp.com/album/the-truman-sho”>The Truman Sho by Flashlight O</a>
Flashlight O - Earlier this spring, I saw Flashlight O perform an in-studio session at WMUC and instantly fell in love. Not only is he pretty cute, but his fuzzy lo-fi tracks commanded attention through the power of minimalism. The solo project of Colin Alexander of Spook Houses uses sparse production and deep vocals that remind me vaguely of Jeff Mangum. He croons from our backyard in Baltimore, and his latest album is called The Truman Sho.
-Sydney Sanial (@sydneysanial) 
Suggestions or submissions for the next “This One Time at Bandcamp”? Send them in!

THIS ONE TIME AT BANDCAMP: Volume 4

This week’s picks are for the melancholy in all of us.

Fake Blood - Fake Blood is the bedroom project of a nineteen year old from New Jersey named Laura. The cool indifference of her monotone vocals and simple guitar tracks are somehow pregnant with raw emotion. There are a lot of lo-fi recordings on Bandcamp that sound very much like Fake Blood, but something about those three songs on lame death has me completely enamored and interested to see what other music she will put out.

Cigarette - These DC natives put out folky lo-fi psych-rock full of a melancholy that’s easy to sway to. Their album gush is an easy listen that you could get lost in for hours. The tracks are long (one nears the seven minute mark) and layered with a complexity that slowly builds. The music is beautifully sad, but with that all-important glimmer of hope.

Flashlight O - Earlier this spring, I saw Flashlight O perform an in-studio session at WMUC and instantly fell in love. Not only is he pretty cute, but his fuzzy lo-fi tracks commanded attention through the power of minimalism. The solo project of Colin Alexander of Spook Houses uses sparse production and deep vocals that remind me vaguely of Jeff Mangum. He croons from our backyard in Baltimore, and his latest album is called The Truman Sho.

-Sydney Sanial (@sydneysanial) 

Suggestions or submissions for the next “This One Time at Bandcamp”? Send them in!

VOTD: Mark Lanegan Band, “Sad Lover”

Moody singer Mark Lanegan has fashioned a career out of pairing a Tom Waits growl with elements of hard rock and 90s grunge. In his new video for “Sad Lover,” he couples this sound with slowly evolving glimpses of a bleak landscape.

The opening of the video sets up a sense of steady motion, syncing drums and distorted guitar with a shot that glides over a set of train tracks. It then shifts to views of the outdoors as seen from a moving vehicle, each partially obscured.  The looming clouds in the distance reflect the lover’s vision of a “looming hurricane disaster”.

As the video progresses, the visual palette extends beyond shades of gray. Lanegan’s mention of a “red sun” prompts a neat shot of that object framed in a corner of the screen between blocks of shadow. Dark blues also come in and enhance the feeling of melancholy.

Lanegan makes an appearance about halfway through, looking appropriately grizzled. He’s dressed in a black suit and shades, with a nondescript high-rise in the background. He could be a man standing with grim resolve in opposition to a harsh world, or he could just be a total badass. It doesn’t really matter which.

The video as a whole is more concerned with creating a vibe than tell a story. The gradual pace meshes well with the warm bed of fuzz laid down by the guitar and bass. The fragments of color complement the hints of earnestness that enter Lanegan’s voice. I tend to prefer when videos adopt a less is more attitude, and this one uses that to good effect.

-Joe Ciccarello

KEEP YER EYES PEELED: Modern Baseball

Okay, so maybe I’m weird, at least in terms of musical taste. If you have a lot of ex-girlfriends and sing in a whiney pitch, I’ll probably like your band. Layered over noodle-y guitar riffs? Sigh, you’ve got me.

Modern Baseball is no exception. Discovered on my Joyce Manor Spotify radio station (no, it’s okay. My eyes are also rolling into the back of my head.), this Philly-based pop-punk band released Sports in 2012, followed by You’re Gonna Miss It All this year. Both completely rule; they’re ripe with nods to Say Anything, Motion City Soundtrack, and other contemporaries like the Front Bottoms. Songwriters Brendan Lukens and Jake Ewold capture what it means to be an early 20-something in 2014 better than most. Consider the first track on Sports, “Re-Do” (I’ve kindly included it for you above). In verse one, they sing “We’re pissing away our time, cause we’re pissing away these beers.” Later, it gets better: “The ‘future freaks me out’ but I guess I could just curl up in a ball and think.” Those of you, myself included, recently graduated from college should sink back and relax at this sentiment. You’re not alone in your millennial angst. No one else knows what’s going on either. 

-Mandy Brownholtz 

mandybrownholtz.tumblr.com

AS HEARD ON TV: “It’s Alright Baby” by Komeda on Gilmore Girls

I would be remiss not to include Gilmore Girls in this column, as it is my absolute favorite show ever. The dialogue was fast and witty, the acting was always on point, and the character relationships were identifiable to adolescent girls as well as moms of the early 2000’s. Amy Sherman-Palladino wrote a script that contained more literature, TV, film, and music references than any other show I’ve watched. As a middle school Gilmore Girls junkie, many of the allusions went over my head, for instance comments about RuPaul or obscure Henry Miller novels did not spark any sort of “Aha!” moments. However now as a more culturally seasoned person in my twenties, any time I re-watch an episode, I say things like, “Oh my god, they referenced Toni Morrison’s Beloved. I just wrote a 3,000 word paper about that for my English seminar!” Additionally, the myriad of music references and music playing in each episode prompted one of my college roommates and I to spend several hours making the ultimate Gilmore Girls playlist that contained everyone from The Bangles to Carole King to Rancid to The Shins to Beck to PJ Harvey. The playlist was titled “Oy With The Poodles Already” and if you don’t get that then I’m sorry, you may need to redo your childhood.

Possibly my best musical discovery from Gilmore Girls, although it’s hard to choose, was Komeda’s “It’s Alright Baby.” I don’t know much about Komeda aside from I love this song a lot, they’re from Sweden, and the band’s music was in an Old Navy commercial. “It’s Alright Baby” was featured in the episode when the guidance counselor condemns Rory for being antisocial, which then leads to her briefly joining a scary almost cult society, but thankfully at the end she resumes spending lunch alone with her Walkman (remember those?), listening to this great Komeda song. The video is strange, the lyrics don’t totally make sense, however the chorus is a solid reminder, “Woo hoo, it’s alright baby/ It’s a crazy world, it’s a bit absurd.” So yeah, chill, things are nuts and you’ll be fine… maybe.

-Emily Hirsch

ALBUM REVIEW: The Antlers, Familiars
How can you tell that a band is growing up? I promise this isn’t a dumb joke where the punch line is “they start getting AARP letters.” To me, it’s the use of negative space – embracing the idea that silence can be just as much of an instrument as anything turned up to 11. Why do you think Springsteen’s “I’m On Fire” is widely considered one of his greatest songs? It’s all about restraint as a show of force.
So by that metric, The Antlers must be mature as all get out. Their June release Familiars is less guitar-driven than their past work; there’s room to breathe. Even the song titles (single words, as with their 2009 offering Hospice) tell just enough of the story to make you press repeat. But don’t mistake their breathy sonic cosmos for a lack of complexity – drummer Michael Lerner adds texture by giving his many rhythmic tools all a shot, similarly to the infamous Kings of Leon tune “I Want You.” Darby Cicci works overtime playing not just Beirut-tinted trumpet, but bass, keyboards, and synths, which range from swirling spaceship to Sunday church. And Vocalist Peter Silberman is no stranger to diverse instrumentation, pairing his powerfully conservative vocals with heavily reverbed, slightly jazzy guitar work.
This record is full of regret and hard-earned advice given to a blurry audience, culled from lonely years on the road. Take “Hotel”: “When I check out / It won’t matter how my name’s spelled / Cause when you pass through / You only keep what you can’t sell” croon-wails Silberman, whose sexy, mournful falsetto gives the songs just the right touch of wintry soul. The stilted piano “Doppelgänger” has a fun house effect, only strengthened with the mirroring of Z-era My Morning Jacket “ooh”-ing. “Surrender” sounds like a super mega chill Vampire Weekend. “Refuge” sounds like a slightly less sad Shy Girls. Pretty much all of the songs borrow from the xx. You get the idea – these Brooklyn boys have perfectly captured a lazy, weary Manhattan afternoon. The genius of these hooks is not in their Top 40 brashness, but in their subtlety; instead of boring the listener after spin #4, they get settled in and truly stick.
-Kelsey Butterworth
The Antlers will perform at 9:30 Club on July 25.

ALBUM REVIEW: The Antlers, Familiars

How can you tell that a band is growing up? I promise this isn’t a dumb joke where the punch line is “they start getting AARP letters.” To me, it’s the use of negative space – embracing the idea that silence can be just as much of an instrument as anything turned up to 11. Why do you think Springsteen’s “I’m On Fire” is widely considered one of his greatest songs? It’s all about restraint as a show of force.

So by that metric, The Antlers must be mature as all get out. Their June release Familiars is less guitar-driven than their past work; there’s room to breathe. Even the song titles (single words, as with their 2009 offering Hospice) tell just enough of the story to make you press repeat. But don’t mistake their breathy sonic cosmos for a lack of complexity – drummer Michael Lerner adds texture by giving his many rhythmic tools all a shot, similarly to the infamous Kings of Leon tune “I Want You.” Darby Cicci works overtime playing not just Beirut-tinted trumpet, but bass, keyboards, and synths, which range from swirling spaceship to Sunday church. And Vocalist Peter Silberman is no stranger to diverse instrumentation, pairing his powerfully conservative vocals with heavily reverbed, slightly jazzy guitar work.

This record is full of regret and hard-earned advice given to a blurry audience, culled from lonely years on the road. Take “Hotel”: “When I check out / It won’t matter how my name’s spelled / Cause when you pass through / You only keep what you can’t sell” croon-wails Silberman, whose sexy, mournful falsetto gives the songs just the right touch of wintry soul. The stilted piano “Doppelgänger” has a fun house effect, only strengthened with the mirroring of Z-era My Morning Jacket “ooh”-ing. “Surrender” sounds like a super mega chill Vampire Weekend. “Refuge” sounds like a slightly less sad Shy Girls. Pretty much all of the songs borrow from the xx. You get the idea – these Brooklyn boys have perfectly captured a lazy, weary Manhattan afternoon. The genius of these hooks is not in their Top 40 brashness, but in their subtlety; instead of boring the listener after spin #4, they get settled in and truly stick.

-Kelsey Butterworth

The Antlers will perform at 9:30 Club on July 25.

NEW TRACKS: Saint Pepsi, “Fiona Coyne”

In a post-Random Access Memories scene, electronic music has leaned towards a groovier, old-school dance feel, almost returning to the simple, danceable purity of before the dubstep invasion. To many of his rapidly growing fanbase, Saint Pepsi makes music that does what Daft Punk’s latest could have achieved: return to an old-school feel without losing the cutting edge of modern electronic music technology. The rising Boston DJ and songwriter incorporates elements of funk and disco into his sleek, deeply catchy electro-pop while maintaining a fresh feel on “Fiona Coyne,” his self-described “single of the summer” and new fan favorite. Unlike many modern DJs, Saint Pepsi sings the words to his own song, keeping the vocal delivery melodic without overuse of reverb. He leaves the effects to the music, adding up to an irresistible beat that will get you moving without feeling like you should be twenty years older.

-Asher Meerovich

MUSIC MONDAY PLAYLIST: Emily’s Picks

Here are some recent-ish things I’ve been listening to lately and wanted to share. I start it off with soon to be everyone’s favorite indie electro pop group, Sylvan Esso, and finish with a group that I discovered because the band name is just so rad, Chamomile and Whiskey. There is no theme per say, aside from these are ten tracks that if played in sequence can make a Monday more than tolerable, maybe even cheery. Enjoy!

-Emily Hirsch