Here is the latest installment in our periodic series highlighting Boston and New England artists. (View the complete series here.)
There’s something to be said for only speaking when you have something to say. Just ask Amy Fairchild who has just released her first album since 2002. Amy Fairchild is, in fact, only the fourth release of her twenty-year career. Damn if she doesn’t make it count. Over the course of eleven songs, Fairchild offers a mature reflection on romantic relationships. The collection flows with confidence and grace, not to mention a healthy dose of melancholy. If you’re looking for a sharp collection of smart pop songs, this is well worth a listen.
Rose is a fixture on the Boston folk scene, having performed with everyone from Aoife O’Donovan to Lori McKenna (not to mention non-locals like Sarah Lee Guthrie and Rose Cousins). Some of these folks – and a host of others – return the favor on Rose’s debut release.
While Rose puts his guest to fine use, it is his songs that shine the brightest. Many of them flow with a genteel grace, often ushered along by exquisite fiddle and cello.
Despite his usual folk orientation, Rose isn’t afraid to bring the rock, as he does on this stand-out and personal fave. I love how the opening cello devolves into a glorious reverb-drenched mess that resembles an electric guitar.
There have been a rash of great Boston bands reuniting of late. Most of these have been one-off reunion shows that brought a single night of enjoyment to their fans. The Gravel Pit took a different path however. They whipped up a new batch of songs and headed into the studio. The results are now available for all to hear. Damn if the band didn’t pick up right where they left off. Serpent Umbrella is filled with sophisticated yet accessible pop songs.
The gauntlet has been thrown – any other bands care to take the reunion album challenge?
Wake It Up, Jenny Dee and the Deelinquents (from the DeeVeeUs Records release Electric Candyland)
Dee and her Deelinquents are back with another batch of good-time rock and roll. Their single and ep releases over the past year have found them expanding beyond their hallmark 1960’s big band pop sound, a trend that they continue trend here. “Getaway” bursts with a classic Jeff Lynne/ELO vibe while their cover of Sweet’s glam rock “Fox on the Run” is damn good fun. At their core, though, they remain true to their retro pop sound. Horns, harmonies and guitars – what’s not to like?
This is one of those bands that you need to see in concert. Sure, their songs are enjoyable for casual listening. Live, however, they are a force of nature. Lead singer Adam Kazynski bounds around the stage with abandon – beating on a ukulele as his eye glasses fly across the stage. Guitarist Jonathan Feinberg fires off riffs and solos that would make a metal-head grin. Bassist Kevin Landry, who rivals his instrument in height, whips both his bass and his pony-tails through the air while drummer Adam Lentine drives the group forward with a rock-steady beat.
Audio Download: Tigerman Woah, “Guess So – Take Me Home”
One glance at the song titles on Back East should give a good indication of what one will find on Charette’s latest release. “Restless,” “Going Down Swinging,” and “Set In My Ways,” to name just a few, find Charette chronicling characters who are often hardened and defiant. These characters don’t lack for dreams that will likely never be realized, but they find some contentment in their self-awareness. While there isn’t much cheerfulness in these stories, neither is there dejection.
Musically Charette calls to mind rockers like Lucero or Chuck Ragan, the kind of music best accompanied by a shot (or two) or whiskey. He also seems to subscribe to the belief that a little slide or pedal steel guitar generally makes a song sound better. With performances this good, who are we to argue?
Audio Download: Matt Charette, “Restless”
If you’re looking for subtlety, you ain’t gonna find any here. These guys proudly – and loudly — wave the rock and roll flag. Flash of White Light is filled with blaring guitars, pulverizing rhythms and arena-sized hooks. Rock and roll, the way it was meant to be heard.
The Boston-based indie-rockers sure take their time between releases. The Problem With Living in the Moment comes three years after its predecessor which came four years after their debut. This shouldn’t be surprising given the sophistication of their music. Singer Paul Hansen has one of those great pop voices that glide across a song while his bandmates add their own intricate musical touch. This is pop music that is angular yet accessible, challenging yet comforting.
Parts of this cool compilation play like a musical version of telephone. A group of Boston-based bands cover one another, often passing the baton from coverer to coveree. Some play it straight while others re-imagine the songs with dramatic results. Here’s one of my favorites, power poppers the Rationales taking on this gem from busker turned rocker Mary Lou Lord. Proceeds from this collection benefit the Animal Rescue League of Boston.
Hot off the, um, digital press is a new compilation featuring 50(!) tracks from Boston bands. Perhaps a bit light on the twang (Vol. 2?) but nonetheless an impressive snapshot of Boston music today. From the soothing pop of Corin Ashley to the punkish kick of Apple Betty and from the acoustic charm of Nate Leavitt to the metal explosion of White Dynomite, there is plenty to discover and enjoy here.
It feels a bit shameful to single out just a single track from such a massive collection but here’s a buzz-worthy offering from Ruby Rose Fox. Check out the entire release – you’ll undoubtedly find a few new favorites.
Learn more about Keep Safe Boston here. Proceeds from the compilation go to Planned Parenthood of Massachusetts.
About the author: Mild-mannered corporate executive by day, excitable Twangville denizen by night.