Welcome to the second in a periodic series of playlists showcasing artists from my hometown of Boston.
You Were Drunk, Rose Polenzani with Session Americana (from the self-released When the River Meets the Sea)
Polenzani does a periodic showcase at the Lizard Lounge in Cambridge. It is quite the affair as she invites friends and strangers to join in on her songs, their songs and choice covers. It is always a special evening. I don’t recall the first time I heard this song – it could have been when members of Session Americana joined Polenzani’s show or perhaps it was an occasion when she guested at one of their shows. Whichever the situation, it was a remarkable performance. Polenzani’s voice is magical – and Session Americana’s accompaniment sublime – on this tender tale of heartbreak.
Audio Download: Rose Polenzani and Session Americana, “You Were Drunk”
Chaperone, Watts (from the self-released On the Dial)
If you’ve ever in the mood for an unbridled rock and roll extravaganza, it’s hard to go wrong with Watts. With riffs big and bold, the band hearkens back to the good time era of rock and roll when bands like Cheap Trick ruled the radio airwaves. The times may have changed, but dueling electric guitars backed by a pounding rock beat will never go out of style.
Audio Download: Watts, “Chaperone”
Talking To Yourself, The Russians (from the self-released Crashing the Party)
I like how this track begins with an ambling melody touched with melancholy. As the song progresses, however, it builds into a more muscular power pop song with shimmering harmonies. It becomes intoxicating, really.
Audio Download: The Russians, “Talking To Yourself”
Troubled Shoes, Highway Ghosts (from the self-released After All This Time)
Alright, so this album came out in 2009. I’m a bit late to the party but I finally caught a performance by this Boston-based quartet several few weeks ago. This track, in particular, caught my ear with a melody as catchy as it is forlorn.
Audio Download: Highway Ghosts, “Troubled Shoes”
Angel on my Shoulder, Melvern Taylor and his Fabulous Meltones (from the self-released Fabuloso!)
Taylor’s bio sums up his style succinctly: “Melvern Taylor writes happy songs about miserable people.” His twice-monthly residency at the Cambridge club Toad never disappoints, particularly when he launches into this classic. “It’s a bad day for the angel on my shoulder, the competition is winning me over…”
Audio Download: Melvern Taylor and the Meltones, “Angel on my Shoulder”
Cut and Run, The Gilded Splinters (from the self-released Cut and Run)
I wrote about these guys in the last Boston playlist, but they’re back with an impressive new release. This track was an immediate favorite, the perfect showcase for the band’s ragged energy and rock and roll fervor.
Audio Download: The Gilded Splinters, “Cut and Run”
Beertown (with You Gotta Fight), Session Americana
Ah, Session Americana. It’s hard to fully appreciate this band’s musical talents. They can take on just about any song – from Prince’s “Pop Life” to AC/DC’s “Highway to Hell” – with impressive results. If you haven’t already experience Session Americana, here’s a great introduction: their own “Beer Town” that segues into a rockin’ acoustic version of the Beastie Boy’s “You Gotta Fight (For Your Right to Party).”
About the author: Mild-mannered corporate executive by day, excitable Twangville denizen by night.