So yeah, this weekend is insane. Forget about touring bands and national-act blowhards rolling through town armed with a bearded bouquet of ticket fees and endless beer lines, the next few days are all about Boston rock. Here’s our quick recap of the shows we’ll be hitting up, drawn from recent features, Stacked Bills: Winter Preview and Class of 2011: 11 New Bands to Watch, as well as recent blog post and other shit found in both the print and online editions of the Boston Phoenix. Compiling all this took longer than expected, so hopefully it's helpful to someone.
::::: Thursday, January 27 :::::
HANDS AND KNEES + DOOMSTAR! + THE NEEDY VISIONS | Great Scott | 1222 Comm Ave, Allston | $9 | 617.566.9014 or greatscottboston.com
From Winter Preview: Hands and Knees put soul into the holidays with "James Brown Died on Christmas Day," and now the soulful indie-pop band gets Wholesome. Their third full-length after one-album stands with Banazan and Midriff Records, the self-released Wholesome is earmarked to be one of 2k11's finest releases, boasting a sound that recalls a more folkish, stripped down, chamber-pop-leaning Hooray for Earth. Fellow band-to-watch Doomstar! and scene psych veterans the Needy Visions stack the bill in sharp-crafted noise's favor.
From Class of 2011: Every time there was a rad show in 2010, it seemed Doomstar! were on the bill, from helping save Somerville's Starlab Studio over the summer to Young Adults' explosive release-party blowout in November. Last February's Rainbow Bloodsucker was a metallic, tin-can torrent of garage-rocking, surf-pop fury, the title track a Pixies-esque whirlwind of fuck-yes that if spun upward correctly could launch itself into the stratosphere and never come back. Two new jams ("Sea Gull" and "Night at the Movies") were posted on New Year's Day to Doomstar!'s Bandcamp. And to keep themselves busy before recording a follow-up album with engineer Justin Pizzoferrato (Dinosaur Jr., Sonic Youth), two-thirds of the band are booking pRIMORDIAL sOUNDS at Middlesex Lounge, a Wednesday-night weekly that showcases live music while they spin '60s psych and weirdo pop under a projection of lavish and bizarre eye candy. It all fits.
LADY LAMB THE BEEKEEPER + FACES ON FILM | Café 939 | 939 Boylston St, Boston | $12 | 617.747.6038 or cafe939.com
From 50 Bands in 50 States, Maine: Lady Lamb the Beekeeper is energetic. Vocalist Aly Spaltro — who is only 20 years old — sings at max volume nearly all the time. And she doesn't even appear to put that much effort into it. All that power turns an act that could have easily been dismissed as too cutesy for its own good into a genuine force. Note: Also see, down below, Aly's breathtaking performance of "Beluga" from the Billy Ruane Memorial Party in November.
From Luke O'Neil's Cellars By Starlight column, Dec 7: "The record is sort of based on a recurring dream I was having early in the year," says Faces on Film’s Mike Fiore on new album Some Weather. "I was back in the times of the explorers. Or I was one of them. We were moving across new land, conquering, displacing what we found, claiming what was vacant. And it spanned my lifetime: I was young at the beginning and old at the end. I wouldn't call it a concept album or anything, but each song is a little piece of the trip."
::::: Friday, January 28 :::::
RIBS + The Cinnamon Fuzz @ TT The Bear’s | 10 Brookline St, Cambridge | $10 | 617.492.0082 or ttthebears.com
From Class of 2011: Last week, the Village Voice correctly named Train's "Hey, Soul Sister" the Worst Song of 2010 and pretty much declared rock music dead. It's a sentiment we can get behind, except for this noisy racket we hear coming out of RIBS, a Boston rock quartet who, despite being a bitch to Google, are catching attention with a face-forward rock onslaught that's already rendered the easy comparisons to Muse and Deftones passé. This month sees the release of Locrian Singles, a one-two punch of futuristic, star-screaming almost-metal that might enable bassist Blake Fusilier to quit his day job at Redbones (hence the band name). Last year, RIBS quietly dropped the cantankerous British Brains EP and shared the stage with Helmet, but this force is getting louder. Rock's great new hope.
From Off The Record, Oct. 5: It's not every day a glossy, neon-lit, new-wave pop band cite Peter Steele as an influence and inspiration. But not only is the Cinnamon Fuzz's debut EP dedicated to the late Type O Negative frontman, his vampiric vocal delivery is also eerily — and oddly — present in the band's saccharine-smacked standout single, "Reboot My Heart." The track is not about Steele's April death from heart failure but rather a cleverly written ode to computer-programmer geek love. Lines like "Reboot my heart/Because of you I can restart" and "Let's fall in love to interface/We'll share cyberspace" are rendered even more l33t with a Cars-esque '80s synthesizer squeal, but the track keeps its high-tech cheek in check just enough to prevent an overfried sonic motherboard. If they still made teen movies and today's version of Jennifer Love Hewitt were about to walk awkwardly into a wild house party looking for a dude upstairs wasting time on the internet (likely stalking her on Facebook), "Reboot My Heart" would soundtrack it. But Cruise of the Century isn't the EP equivalent of some fleeting internet meme. Enhanced by the slick production of Anthony J. Resta (Duran Duran, Scissor Sisters) at his Bopnique Musique studio in Boston, it's a five-song joyride — complete with vintage DeLorean DMC-12 pictured on the album cover — through love-sick city streets drunk on smooth pop-music craftsmanship. Vocalist/guitarist and chief songwriter Jonah Burstein smartly drops the Steele vocal shtick on "Mixed Up Obsession," a shark-toothed, post-punk twirl waltzing confidently across the dance floor, and "Now I Know" is a squeaky-clean power-pop reminder of the long-forgotten early promise of the Rentals. Although Steele might have publicly scoffed at an '80s sound fit for the Pretty in Pink high-school-hallway scenes, turns out he influenced more than just the metal kids.
TRABANTS + BEWARE THE DANGERS OF A GHOST SCORPION + THE INFRAMEN | Rosebud Bar, 381 Summer St., Somerville | January 28 at 9 pm | 21+|$5| 617-440-6284 or rosebudbardavis.com
From Barry Thompson's Off The Record review, Jan. 19: Only the future knows whether Boston's Trabants made a commercially savvy choice by disseminating a record of scorching surf rock during one of the snowiest winters in memory. Will attendees at the release show later this month (January 28 at Rosebud, natch) buy music that reminds them what it's like when it doesn't totally suck outside? For that matter, how will those accustomed to the roller-coaster punk of local power trio Ketman react to Trabants' instrumental retrophilia? Although a change in style and method required a rebrand from Eric Penna - assisted by his regular Ketman running buddies and a few others adding auxiliary spice- it seems the same underlying philosophy applies to both bands. Ketman pluck a concept out of the æther of their collective unconsciousness and turn it into a punk song. Trabants cull a mood from something like a spaghetti western or a Frankie-and-Annette flick, establish a riff to serve as its appropriate avatar, and blow it up with solo freakouts and slow-burning crescendos. More often than not, the results echo songs everybody remembers from the Pulp Fiction soundtrack by otherwise obscure cats like the Lively Ones and Dick Dale. I suspect that's pretty much the idea.
::::: Saturday, January 29 :::::
MEAN CREEK + TAXPAYER + GIRLFRIENDS + DIRTY DISHES | Brighton Music Hall | January 29 | 158 Brighton Ave, Allston | $10 | 617.254.9743 or brightonmusichall.com
From Winter Preview and 8 Days A Week: If the Brighton Music Hall truly wants to be a player not only on the national circuit but also on the local scene, it all starts right here. In a show that could put the former Harpers Ferry space back on the map, four of Boston's aces throw down in the local gig of the winter. Former Phoenix cover darlings and rock-and-roll beasts Mean Creek lead the charge with the release of their Hemophiliac EP, but any of the others on the bill — the tried-and-tested indie pulse of Taxpayer, the garage ruckus of Girlfriends, or the rock slickness of Dirty Dishes — could equally headline this joint by Independence Day.
From Class of 2011: If 2010 was the year of the microgenre, then where were the cutesy mish-mash tags when it came to Dirty Dishes' eclectic and confidently erratic sound, which seems to defy category? Throw in a "-gaze," maybe add a "fuzz-," and tie them to any "-rock" of your fickle choosing — it's no use. The Berklee-skilled art-rock quartet (see? pointless!) began the year opening for Passion Pit at the House of Blues on the strength of a homonymous EP in late 2009. But a craft honed in the basement space of Allston's Wadzilla Mansion is ripe for national acclaim. The Jenny Tuite–voiced Dishes take on 2011 with a headlining South by Southwest gig at the Austin Museum of Art (part of a tight, 12-show SXSW roster) and an EP currently being recorded at Woolly Mammoth Sound Studio in Waltham. Don't try to label it, just enjoy the ride — even the staccato bumps.
ONE HAPPY ISLAND + ALOUD + THIS BLUE HEAVEN + ORANJULY | Lizard Lounge | 1667 Mass Ave, Cambridge | $10 | 617.547.0759 or lizardloungeclub.com
From Winter Preview: In an act of rock diplomacy, Boston indie-pop kids One Happy Island spent the past year performing locally with bands from Australia, Sweden, and the UK. Now they put their goodwill to vinyl with a split, 7-inch release with English trio Standard Faire. On the Sheffield Phonographic Corporation-released Standard Faire on One Happy Island, both bands cover two tracks each from the other, continuing One Happy Island's role as Boston's underground-pop diplomats. As if that wasn't enough, it's also a homecoming for Aloud, who return to Boston after 51 shows across 28 states in two jam-packed months of coast-to-coast touring. Buy 'em a drink.
BAD RABBITS + MYSTERY ROAR + DJ DIE YOUNG | Wadzilla Mansion | Allston | Bad Rabbits also appearing Friday night
From Mp3 of the Week, Jan. 20: Last year, Deftones frontman Chino Moreno dropped by the Los Angeles studio where Bad Rabbits were recording their debut album with New Jack Swing über-producer Teddy Riley. The multi-genre rock band released a video of the visit and revealed themselves as huge fans of the California alt-metal veterans. Then, out of nowhere, a few days after New Year’s, Bad Rabbits dropped this online cover of Deftones’ “Sextape,” turning a slow atmospheric metal jam into one tripped-out mindfuck of sly cool. Despite circulating heavily on the interwebs the past few weeks, it’s still fresh, and maybe the first must-hear Boston track of 2011. While we wait for the new record, catch Bad Rabbits at the should-be-downstairs Middle East upstairs show on February 12 with Ninjasonic, Moe Pope, and Jasmine Solano (Note: or this weekend in Allston basements). Might want to grab advance tickets for that one; in the meantime, snag the “Sextape” MP3 from On The Download.
::::: Sunday, January 30 :::::
BANDITAS + WAKING LIGHTS + MR SISTER + BUNNY'S A SWINE | Great Scott | 1222 Comm Ave, Allston | $9 | 617.566.9014 or greatscottboston.com
From Class of 2011: Although a great deal was made of the late Billy Ruane's affinity for Lady Lamb the Beekeeper, the Boston scenester was perhaps equally smitten with the Cambridge trio Banditas. The 7 am alt-twang of Hayley Thompson-King, Molly Maltezos, and Viva Viva's Dave Cave moves like a séance, as heartbroken Shangri-Las harmonies float like smoke over a crackling campfire. Last year's Get Behind Us EP put Banditas on the local circuit, but a February seven-inch and a debut full-length over the summer, both off local imprint Motorcycle Face Records (Ho-Ag, Needy Visions), will no doubt further our city's growing rep as a town that doesn't need the country to get country, even if our lonely, big-sky moons are only Central Square lampposts.