Weekly Playlist #21: New Hampshire edition with the Migs, Betty Nico, Howling Boil, Pleasure Gap

The past couple of years have been kinda rough for New Hampshire music. Bands are leaving town, venues are closing, and college kids won’t listen to anything that doesn’t have a bass drop in it. But 2013 just might be the year things start looking up. Believe it or not, New Hampshire has a vibrant music scene, however decentralized and rural it may be, and bands are finally starting to poke their heads out and show themselves. Already there have been countless releases that are on New Sampshire's heavy rotation playlist, with hopefully many more to come.

The Migs - “Pretty Ricky”

THE MIGS are keeping Dover's dive bars and Barrington’s backwoods house parties alive with their truly authentic garage pop tones and energetic stage presence. “Pretty Ricky” crackles and peaks with tape distortion and an unbeatable groove. The Migs have indeed done it again, and you can stack this track high on top of the dozens of other equally convivial anthems in their catalog. The gang goes through frequent lineup changes, but currently their core consists of singer Keven Lareau, ex-New Highway Hymnal guitarist Lukas Gouldreault, and drummer Craig Kowalchuk, an explosively entertaining trio. If you’re not sold on garage rock surf punk bands because you think they’re corny or something, you should get a grip, because no one’s having more fun than The Migs, unless its the crowd at their show. Definitely catch them the next time they’re in Boston, but please don't steal them from us.

Betty Nico - “What You Don’t Know”

Though they are younger than most NH bands, surf pop BETTY NICO continue to mature with every release. Born in seaside Portsmouth NH, Betty Nico has developed a carefree west coast attitude, tinged with New England cynicism. Most songs are written and sung by lead vocalist Rachael Ponce, with the occasional Weezer-esque goofball tune by guitarist Ezra Cohen. “What You Don’t Know,” the second track from their third release Cool With Whatever, is a slower, heavier song than the rest:

I don’t wanna think about tomorrow-
So I’ll put my blinds down and go back to bed-
I am always awake and restless-
What a mess I have made from my mistakes-

This is some pretty apathetic stuff from a band who probably have 25 years to go before they hit their mid-life-crisis moments. The lyrics would seem more reclusive and angsty if they weren’t so mellowed out by the hang loose riffs and beachy rhythm section. The water’s cold ‘round these parts, but people still go surfing.

Howling Boil - “Second Chorus”

HOWLING BOIL has brought glam jock bar rock into a new realm. You can no longer hear their earlier recordings on their bandcamp page, and it’s a shame you’ll never hear how raw and weird they used to be. Their new full-length, Maiden America, is regrettably over polished, but what really makes these guys shine is the intense focus on melodic and harmonic detail that drives the songs. It was hard to choose a track that fully explored what Howling Boil has to offer, but “Second Chorus” comes pretty close. Washed with chorus guitars, clever chord progressions, and a swayingly bright hook. just one of many great tracks from their debut LP.

pleasure gap - “telephone"

The name PLEASURE GAP may make some people cringe and others turn with raised eyebrows. Sorry pervs, but the name according to vocalist Ryan Egan refers to the state of depression as a gap in time. I sense some irony, but I would worry more about how great “telephone” sounds late at night with a pair of headphones. This level of quality songwriting doesn't come around often. Egan’s voice is reminiscent of Cold War Kids’ Nathan Willett, but with less soul and darker vibes. “telephone” starts cheerfully, but soon begins to lose itself in the wilderness. After abandoning the rigid verse/hook structure of the modern pop song, it wanders further; loose, swaying guitar riffs blend into hyperactive dance beats, all with a steady pulse, seemingly endless. Egan says that the band is currently rehearsing with a violin, keyboardist, and trumpeter. Pleasure gap will only improve their songwriting and instrumentation until you will have no choice but to pay attention to them.


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