Saturday, March 29, 2008

Barcode: 33 part 2

In a stunning contradiction of everything we know about the price of cocktails, at $14, the drinks on the menu at 33, the overwhelmingly stylized South End restaurant and lounge, may be under priced. (Not so fast there, 33 owners). Many other progressive bars feature creative recipes, unique ingredients, and talented bartenders, but it's rare that all three meet in a perfect storm of imbibing bliss. Rarer still when those cocktails shock your palate.

The Rangpur Kiwi (below, kiwi and fresh-squeezed grapefruit with pink peppercorn, Tanqueray Rangpur gin) may have been one of the most complex cocktails we've ever had, with multiple flavor and aroma levels still unfolding 30 seconds after we'd taken a sip. The sour kiwi taste came through on the lips, followed by the grapefruit and citrusy rangpur on the back of the tongue. Then, after we'd put the drink down, the pink peppercorn exploded out of nowhere, bringing all the flavors back together with heat and spice.

Likewise the pineapple- and roasted-peppercorn-infused bourbon was breathtaking. Literally. We lingered over its potent aroma throughout our entire stay, continually reminding ourselves of its heady tang, which was something like the blend of burnt wood, fruit, and smoke you get from roasting kebabs over a grill. The taste was equally potent, but smooth, something like a peppery, crisped pineapple upside-down cake. The Pineapple Bomb (infused bourbon, Navan Vanilla cognac, pineapple juice, ground pepper), however, proved to be one flavor too many.

The clean cinnamon and ginger taste of the Raspberry Intrigue (pureed raspberries, spice of cardamom, Effen Raspberry Vanilla vodka, Liquor 43) reminded us of dessert at an Indian restaurant. The Beatnik (Hennessey VS Cognac, Nivan Vanilla cognac, orange marmalade, hint of clove) tasted like Christmas, which is apt, since 33 has so many presents waiting for us.

33, 33 Stanhope St., Boston. 617-572-3311.

Boston Globe

Barcode: 33 part 1

Up with peppercorns, down with pomegranate

Jennifer Harvey, bar manager at 33, answered questions about her creative cocktails.

Q: Tell me about your inspiration for using pepper in so many drinks.

A: It's really not something I go into thinking "yes, I need more pepper!" The pineapple-peppercorn Woodford Reserve bourbon is used as a primary flavor, something to add smokiness, while the pineapple lends a gentle sweetness to the drink, making it a little more inviting. The drink itself was inspired by a chocolate recipe that I had found. The Woodford Reserve on its own has a dulce de leche flavor to it, maybe even a little banana, but a subtle hint of chocolate to it, which is why I figured the flavors of the chocolate would translate to the bourbon as well.

Q: The Rangpur Kiwi is a pretty complex drink. I feel like it unfolds a few different tastes over a minute or so. Is that something you can design it to do, or is it just a fortuitous byproduct of the recipe?

A: The pepper is actually more of a binding agent, leading the flavors to pop, but the pepper itself doesn't come through as much. When people ask me if they can get it with vodka instead of the Tanqueray Rangpur, or without the peppercorn, I almost always have the person try the complete drink first, and probably 95 percent of the time, they love it. If you were to drink it with vodka (even a flavored one) or without the peppercorn, it would come across as very flat. Good, but not memorable. When I came out with this drink, I had a lot of sweeter things on the menu, and I wanted to get away from that a bit, give the people something a little bit tart. It has turned out to be great success.

Q: What do you consider your signature drink?

A: That changes daily. I love the Beatnik right now, even thought the season for that is almost over. ... It just smells like Christmas and leaves me with such a warm feeling (both because of the memories associated and because of the cognac). When I was younger, my mom and I used to put cloves into oranges and hang them on strings around the house in the winter; kind of a homemade potpourri. I wanted to make something that evoked that same feeling. I am actually particularly proud of this drink right now because it won me a trip out to Vail this coming weekend for a Grand Marnier mixology summit.

Q: You think it's hard to stand out with so many people doing creative cocktail lists now?

A: I think the competition in the industry only leads to greater things. There are times that I make something, only to find it on a menu someplace else (well, something similar) and I then have to go back and kick it up. There are a lot of things that I have done that have come out wonderfully, and some things that have been total crap. At one point, I tried to make a drink based on the mirepox sauce that kitchens use…total failure. But another time, I made one that was like bruschetta that was absolutely divine -- sort of a light, refreshing bloody mary. There are things on the drink menu that aren't me. The 33-tini, belonged to my predecessor. I don't think I would ever have the kind of taste buds to put out a drink based in pucker. The pomegranate cosmo is also something that is kind of past its time; even if it wasn't on the menu, people would ask for a pomegranate drink of some sort.

Q: Are these the type of drinks you would normally have if you went out drinking?

A: I love trying other people's cocktails when I go out. You can never tell just from a description on a list what exactly you are going to get. Even with the same cocktail, two bartenders, trained the exact same way, will still find a way to make things differently. I tend to stick with not overly sweet items. If it's loaded with pucker or a neon color, I probably won't be drinking it anytime soon. And because I am very prone to migraine-based hangovers (what a twisted world, huh?), I usually limit myself to one "fun drink" and then stick with vodka (Zyr, or Kettle One) and soda for the duration

Boston Globe

Friday, March 28, 2008


They’re still submerged

Tulsa get headier with next release

If you thought the songs on “I Was Submerged” — the debut EP from the sonically adventurous, and exceptionally hyped-up Boston trio Tulsa — were expansive in their washes of pedal effects, furious drum rolls and meandering guitar complexity, then you won’t be surprised by their plans to go even further down on their next full length. So explains the band’s singer, guitarist and songwriter Carton Tanton.

It seems like it might be tempting to let your songs grow out of control. Do you force yourself to rein them in?
In the past I have, but for the next record it’s probably going to be like eight or nine songs, because they’re going to be long and they’re going to be really spaced out. They’re going to make the EP look like pleasant, easy listening. It’s going to go a lot crazier. ... That’s a product of playing live more. When we play live, by the time I get into a song it’s over. The atmospheric approach to how the songs sound, that’s just the way I feel about music now.

Do you think your songs would lose their meaning without the atmospheric stuff you talk about?

No, because I still write songs on the acoustic guitar. It’s just that, once other people start playing along with me they just change, because it’s louder or you click on the
delay pedal.

Tulsa has been getting a lot of comparisons lately. Do they seem accurate to you?
I think we get compared to bands because of the reverb on my voice. A lot of people say it’s like My Morning Jacket or Band of Horses. I don’t really like either of those bands. I think they’re really boring and just clinging onto the reverb. I think the press just hears the reverb, and goes, “Oh, they must like this band.” And I don’t.

Now you’re giving me quotes!
[laughs] I have nothing against those bands, I just find them boring.

What makes your band any different than those ones?
I don’t know. I’m not good at defining what we do better than other bands. Who knows, maybe we do sound like Band of Horses. I hope not.

Monday, March 24, 2008

AP 100 Bands You Need to Know #2

HQ: Montreal
CHECK OUT: Tomorrow Starts Today (Militia Group
ROCKS LIKE: U2, Oasis, The Killers

Sure, check out all the other bands on this list, but any one of the breast-beating, stadium-sized anthems on the debut record from
Mobile would probably be the best song on every other album. The moving melodrama of "See Right Through Me" in particular, with its charging piano stabs and heroic choral sweeps is the type of song that makes you want to rip your own heart out. "The first time we played that song we knew it had a lot of power and passion," said the understated singer Mat Joly. The band, who've scored a Juno Award and a few radio hits at home, still haven't made their inevitable dent here. "We've always had ambitions to be a worldwide band," explained Joly. "We're on an indie in the States, but we have a big, more mainstream sound. We don't have a sound that only relates to hipsters. We can touch a lot of people." One down, few million to go.

Alternative Press

AP 100 Bands You Need to Know

The Virgins
HQ: New York City

CHECK OUT: '07 (self released ;
ROCKS LIKE: Jonathan Richman, The Bee Gees, Flight of the Conchords

Sorry, haters everywhere, but The
Virgins' seemingly have it all. The strength of the artfully disinterested, lo-fi indie on their debut EP -- not to mention heir apparent status to the LES hipster throne -- jumpstarted a leap to Atlantic Records for their forthcoming record amidst a hail of fawning press coverage (like this). And for good reason: "Rich Girls," a bouncy, shambling, disco-bass party jam dripping with wry sarcasm is the catchiest song of the year. No joke. While they still haven't figured out exactly what they sound like, said singer Donald Cumming, expect plenty more dance grooves. "I've always gone to nightclubs and danced since I was kid," said the one time Ryan Mcginley model unashamed to admit he spent the day at home watching Walter Matthau movies. "It just made sense that we would make music that we could hear when we went out in our daily lives to clubs and parties, not just music you could listen to at home."

Alternative Press

Xiu Xiu at the MFA

The inventive sound of artistic defiance

Xiu Xiu

At: Museum of Fine Arts, Friday night

Framing a performance within the conceptually charged environs of a museum lends even the most pedestrian of rock bands a certain Duchampian patina of artistry. For the eclectic San Francisco noise act Xiu Xiu, whose explosive performance on Friday at the Museum of Fine Arts delighted a sold-out, creatively be-sneakered crowd, no such contextual piggybacking was required.

The four-piece band, which spent an hour torturing atonal cacophony and wildly inventive sounds out of the kitchen-sink setup, may well have supplied each member of the audience with an "ART"-engraved mallet with which to keep time on their skulls, although it wouldn't have been easy to keep up with drummer Ches Smith, a tornado of flailing limbs spindling, mutilating, and manipulating his tricked-out kit. Meanwhile, the band laid down dissonant melody lines of bowed string stabs and keyboard pyrotechnics. Whether it sounded more like corny theatrical effects or the world-changing collision of tectonic plates depended on your tolerance for the avant-garde.

Vocally, the tempered quiet and blustery caterwauling of songs from the band's recent "Women As Lovers" were striking and gorgeous. Switching between two voices like stepping on an effects pedal, the musically bipolar Jamie Stewart moved from morose, whispered introspection to a torrent of violent upheaval. Detours into a sort of operatic camp style were mercifully brief.

A third dynamic found the band ripping through variations of British post-punk style, bass and rhythm bounce only slightly obscured by their incessant tinkering. A careful parsing of the songs' layers might have revealed Stewart's bridled sense of song craft, and even - gasp! - a hook or two. Perhaps Stewart's Bauhaus T-shirt was meant to serve more as a statement of purpose than fashion.

The overall effect was that of a nervous waking dream. Dreams are, of course, disjointed and non-linear by nature, but the bold artistic defiance of Xiu Xiu gave voice and shape to that nightmarish void.

The charming and charismatic Thao Nguyen and the Get Down Stay Down couldn't have provided a sunnier juxtaposition with their immensely likable set of jangly hand-clap pop buoyed by Nguyen's plangent vocals and affable star quality.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Barcode: Venetian Moon

A very full Moon

A recent trip to Venetian Moon was a study in excess: huge dinner entrees, an expansive multi-level layout (the mod lounge area downstairs is something of a design-fetish explosion, with sleek black-and-white leather couches and fish-tank flat screens), a gaudy pyramid of bottle bling behind the bar.

Most imposing, though, was the martini list, weighing in at some 60-plus libations.

The Concord (UV Grape Vodka, Pucker's Grape, grape juice, grape sugar rim, grapes; $10 like all the other drinks we sampled), was poured from a martini shaker tableside - a nice touch. There was none of the promised grapes in the drink, which may be emblematic of the problem of keeping so many specialty garnishes in stock at once. All the same, this alcoholic melted popsicle was a hit, unlike the Dreamsicle (Olifant Orange and Vanilla vodkas, Sogno di Sorrento, Crema Mandarello, Disaronno Amaretto, orange juice, cream, vanilla sugar rim) which lacked the complexity, or the thick consistency, that so many ingredients might suggest.

The Banana (Olifant Vanilla vodka, Cruzan Banana rum, Crème de Banana, fresh banana puree, banana sugar rim), Very Berry Blue (Stoli Blueberi vodka, blueberry juice, blueberries), and Tangerine Blossom (Hangar 1 Mandarin Blossom vodka, Patron Citronge, tangerine juice, cranberry juice, tangerine sugar rim) were all variations on the same syrupy concept. Each may have been fine solo, but in succession they became too similar and sugary.

The drink list - like Venetian Moon itself, which could be a great Italian restaurant (the food and service were both outstanding), or martini lounge, or nightclub, but not all three - seemed to suffer from the weight of its ambition. A bit of editorial restraint is always a good thing; when high concept stands in for substance, a lot can be lost in translation.

Venetian Moon, 680 Main St., Reading. 781-944-3633.

Boston Globe

Friday, March 21, 2008

Between the Trees

Read Between the Trees

The group of Orlando high school buddies who make up Between the Trees seem to have that rarest of major label rock star qualities: humility. It comes through on their album, “The Story and the Song,” a collection of oddly sincere, punchy pop rock hooks. Bassist Jeremy Butler tells us how he does it.

I heard you guys blew your first big label showcase.
We were pretty nervous, of course. We were up in New York for the first time, and there were a bunch of people in suits just staring at us. It just fell apart, man. Definitely one of the worst shows we’ve ever played.

None of you could play your instruments when you started. Do you feel like you’ve finally mastered them?
It takes a whole lot to master an instrument, and we’re all far from that. But judging from where we first started, it’s a huge difference for sure.

There seems to be a real sense of sincerity to your music.
We try to write about our life experiences. Our lives have been filled with hope and compassion for others, so we embrace it. We hope people receive it well, and so far, it seems like they have.

Boston Metro

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The Fatal Flaw

Fans of local synth-punks The Information, like yours truly, were stoked when we heard 411 guitarist Zack Wells had signed on with recent San Fran transplant Joel Reader of The Plus Ones and seminal left coast punks The Avengers, for a "super group" called The Fatal Flaw. "I knew I wanted to start a band with him from the moment I landed in town," Reader told me recently. Dave Bryson (Son Volt) and Josh Megyesy (The Burning Paris, On Fire) round out the lineup. I rolled over to Barefoot Studios in Brighton last Saturday to check in on the progress they'd made on a forthcoming album. Think the big melodies of Weezer or Jimmy Eat World, but with the traditional pop-punk elements twisting and turning on complex chord changes and inspired vocal choices. "In general, the songs betray my love for a big melody and my love for big guitars," Reader explained. Alongside Jared Marsh from Boston favorites Taxpayer, who spent the day regaling us with his uncanny Desmond from Lost impression, Reader invited me to lay down some background vox. The result: a few of the most, um, notable "who-who-ohhs" you'll ever hear. "I try not to be hopelessly post-modern," he said. "But they say to write what you know, and what I know about most is pop culture, rock music and being in a band. Three of the songs you sang on," he told me, were "'Don't Start Believing' 'Where's Izzy?' and 'Stab the Speakers,' and they all happen to reference other, much more famous rock bands." "Where's Izzy?" is the hit. It's a hard-charging but melodic lament about the loneliness of being Axl Rose, with big dangling open notes upon which Reader & Co. spent the day draping a series of rich harmonies. However, it was with "Stab the Speakers" that Reader and I came to a bit of a head. It's funny, he said, that I had to sing "a song about how much I hate Panic At the Disco when you in fact love Panic At the Disco." True. Embarrassing, but true. Although when he stepped out of the room I convinced the engineer to let me record some subliminal commercial teen emo propaganda. No one messes with my fake friends Panic At the Disco. Not even my real friends.

[The Fatal Flaw with The Great Bandinin, Emergency Music, The Sunsets Quick. Sat. 3.22 9pm/18+/$9. T.T. The Bear's. 10 Brookline St., Cambridge. 617.492.2327.]

Weekly Dig

Be Your Own Pet

Be Your Own Pet
Get Awkward
Sophomore effort from actual sophomore-aged punks
Cramming 15 songs into 30 minutes and change leaves little time for screwing around, and true to form, each track here is a blistering burst of chaotic energy cast off like a half-smoked cigarettes. But surprisingly there is a breadth of influence throughout, even if the energy level rarely falls below absurdly scorching and the sonic approach remains a consistent fuzzy haze. Spitfire singer Jemina Pearl and band are still acting out like the neglected, snarling younger siblings of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, particularly on album opener “Super Soaked,” but they take detours into a mellower sixties style surf rock on “Becky,” channel the Motown punk of the Detroit Cobras on “The Kelly Affair,” Brit pub-punk on “Bummer Time” and a toss off a metal nod to Quiet Riot on “Twisted Nerve.” It’s a testament to the young band’s precociousness that they’ve managed a maturely realized take on reckless abandon. (Ecstatic Peace/Universal;

Alternative Press

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Freeloading: Autechre

"IO" by Autechre

Dropping you midstream into a diabolical video game soundtrack, the chopped-up, robot monster vocals, evil carnival keyboard runs and arrhythmic percussion static may throw you off balance here, but it's a rewarding challenge, like beating the mini-boss at the end of the level.

Boston Globe

Tuesday Events

Wednesday is the new Sunday.
“Modern electro music now comes packaged as pop songs,” explains Michael Marotta of his new dance party Audiogasm. “Which is what has helped the genre cross over to the indie rock crowd.” The longtime promoter of the popular Brit indie dance night the Pill at Great Scott expands his operation a little further down Harvard Ave., taking over O’Briens on Tuesday nights. “The music is sleazier, synthier and more robotic than the standard Pill set list,” he says. “Plus it's a good excuse to get glammed-up on the dance floor on a Tuesday night.” 21+. 9 p.m. $6. O’Briens, 3 Harvard Ave., Allston. 617-782-6245.

Tomorrow’s stars today
Think it’s tough getting tickets for games at Fenway? You should try getting in to see the Lowell Spinners. The Class-A Affiliate of the Red Sox are on a 308 game consecutive sellout streak, dating all the way back to 1999, long before some former Spinners you may have heard of like Jonathan Papelbon (2003), Jacoby Ellsbury (2005), Kevin Youkilis (2001) and Clay Buchholz (2005) were even a gleam in Red Sox Nation’s eyes. Individual tickets go on sale as of today, available only at the team website. Box office and phone sales begin March 31. 978-459-2255.

A man of words
They’re going to have to start inventing new awards if poet John Ashbery -- winner of the Pulitzer Prize, National Book Award and National Book Critics Circle Award and basically everything else -- keeps going at this clip. Tonight Ashbery receives the 8th Annual Robert Creeley Award and reads from his work, including, perhaps, a few lines from “A Man of Words.” “All diaries are alike, clear and cold, with/ The outlook for continued cold. They are placed/ Horizontal, parallel to the earth,/ Like the unencumbering dead. Just time to reread this/ And the past slips through your fingers, wishing you were/ there.” 7:30 p.m. Free, tickets required. R. J. Grey Junior High School Auditorium, 16 Charter Rd, Acton. 978-264-9641.

Boston Globe

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Justice for all

Like pretty much everyone else we know, we were surprised to find out tonight's Justice and Busy P show at the Paradise is completely sold out. And we'd been practicing our disaffected French robot dance moves all week! Fortunately Movement, a party thrown by DJ David Dancer, has popped up to fill the void in our electronic hearts. "I am basically going to play a ton of French electro," says Dancer. "Techno, modern electro, indie dance tracks, and classics for others who were too sleepy to get Justice and Busy P tickets before they hit eBay." Looks like justice, and Justice, will be served after all.21+ 10 p.m. Free. Alchemist Lounge, 435 S. Huntington Ave., Jamaica Plain. 617-477-5741.

Boston Globe

Barcode: Casablanca

While Casablanca's bright yellow walls, gently spinning ceiling fans, oversized clay-potted ferns, and wicker awning-covered dining tables may not instantly transport you to a steamy North African port city when you step inside the longtime Cambridge favorite, the exotic trappings are departure enough to feel as if you've at least transcended the miserable Harvard Square winter.

The large wooden bar, downwind from an open kitchen window pumping out wafts of smoky aromas into the basement-level room (Rule No. 47: If you have to walk downstairs to get to a bar, it's probably a good one.) serve as a constant advertisement for Casablanca's Mediterranean menu, the highlight of a recent trip. Ana's Short Rib, (caramelized onions, balsamic vinegar, soy sauce, garlic, $14) being the most decadent and outstanding example of their tapas, many of which were well-suited for the spice of the cocktail menu.

The Moroccan Mule (Level Swedish Vodka, ginger beer, Baharat spice, $9), was a powerfully effervescent and extraordinarily spicy variation on the Moscow Mule. Its blend of cumin, coriander, nutmeg, and cinnamon flavors forcefully reacted with the ginger base.

The Spiced Hard Cider (fresh apple cider mulled in-house, Woodford Reserve Kentucky Bourbon, cinnamon and brown sugar rim, cinnamon stick garnish, $9) was another sturdy, fortifying treat, with a foamy froth from the shaken cider, and a natural oakiness coming through in the bourbon.

The only drawback in these two drinks came in their rather drab, almost tossed together presentation over ice in short water glasses. Drinks served in tiny martini glasses, or a brandy snifter (the VS Sidecar, Courvoisier VS Cognac, Cointreau, fresh sour, and a splash of orange juice, sugar-rim, $9 was nicely balanced between sour and sweet) weren't much to look at either. "It's just their throwback, old-school style," explained our companion. "It's pre-SUV culture, a more European/Mediterranean approach."

"Everything," she said, "doesn't have to be super-sized."

Casablanca, 40 Brattle St., Cambridge. 617-876-0999.

Boston Globe

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Guide to Boston Rock Clubs

It is important to remember that except for those accidental lapses into sincerity where you're actually interested in the music being performed that night, most of the time going to a rock club is simply a way to reinforce the preconceived notions you already have about yourself, or who you'd like to be, and then broadcasting it to members of the opposite sex. Make it easier on yourself by aligning your show-going with this 100% scientific, totally accurate stereotype guide

Much like having some really bad tattoos, going to Great Scott in Allston can help you blend into a variety of hipster sub-species. Consider this venue a gateway into Boston's anglophile, Pitchforkian-indie nerd and noise/art rock scenes. Smoke cigarettes outside affecting a pose of either hopeless indifference, intellectual superiority or hyper-positive excitement. This crowd blends in at the 18+ Middle East in Central Square as well; a great place for people who either really love indie rock or really hate it. The distinction isn't that important though, because every night of the week the club gives them ample opportunity to complain about how this horrible show sucks, or how this awesome show is so much better than the normal sucky show. Win/win for everyone.

The demo skews a lot younger and more eclectic at P.A.'s Lounge in Somerville. Some of the fans of the experimental and punk bands here make the coolest TT the Bear's crowd look like Godsmack steakheads. TT's (another 18+ venue in Cambridge) is a great club when you're new in Boston. Fans here are superficial enough to need to catch the next big thing on the way up, but dedicated enough to stick around when the band comes back through on their inevitable descent. It's like Boston in a nutshell right there.

Speaking of pretentious, the cozy basement at the Lizard Lounge is a beacon for pontificating chin strokers, heart-broken acoustic girls and people who studied music. Substitute vegan pizza enthusiasts for drunk hippies and you've got Club Passim in Harvard Square. The crowds at both clubs skew towards thirty and over. Perhaps you can try the decidedly hipper, and younger scene at the Milky Way in Jamaica Plain, where lesbians and the women's studies majors who envy them rock out and go bowling.

Think you're a tough guy? The relatively intimate O'Briens (by intimate we mean sweaty) in Allston draws an ecclectic crowd of Boston diehards (Patriots fans, metal enthusiasts) and colorful locals who enjoy most of the hard rock show from the bathroom stalls. Down the street ,Harper's Ferry is thick on the ground with white hats grooving to mash potato rock and DMB cover bands. Very popular among the area college students.

Elsewhere, the older crowd at the Abbey Lounge in Somerville gathers fans of Boston's best power-pop and garage-rock and "the way it used to be around here, man."

On the bigger side in Boston, the Avalon is popular among the gay crowd and the alphas whose hyper heterosexuality comes almost full circle into straight drag. This cavernous 19+ disco hot spot is also host to popular national bands as well. Seriously though, you've never seen so many regular people. Nearby the Axis empties out area Hot Topics and Warped Tour chat rooms when the hottest commershaleemo bands come through town for all ages shows. Bring your kid brother when he comes to visit. The stately Orpheum Theater attracts a crowd of ancient people who buy tickets to shows 6 months in advance. You'll want to catch the odd major headliner (Morrissey, Beck) anyway. The 18+ Paradise draws similarly diverse crowds from all the nearby schools. BU and BC kids dominate this stretch of Commonwealth Avenue, and the national and international blend of indie faves and modern rock radio bands at the 'Dise makes it the rare venue where almost all of Boston's rock scenes collide.
to some of Boston's rock clubs.

Boston Metro

José González

"Tear Drop"

After dazzling with his finger-picked deconstructions of songs from the Knife and Joy Division, the Swedish indie-folker turns his extraordinary talents toward Massive Attack, recasting their classic trip-hop elegy as a forceful folk anthem.

Tuesday Events

40 restaurants, one parking spot
With the continued culinary arms race that's consumed the South End - Boston's hip-dining mecca - every day it's harder to figure out where to spend your hard-earned money on expensive entrees and drinks. Tonight's Taste of the South End, with more than 40 restaurants participating, gives you a chance to hit all those hyped restaurants in one shot. We're heading straight for the Beehive, Gaslight, Sibling Rivalry, and Rocca tables ourselves, so save some food for us. The event benefits the AIDS Action Committee. 6-9 p.m. $95, $250 VIP. Boston Center for the Arts, 539 Tremont St., Boston. 617-450-1526.

It pays to be young
We've got some bad news for any newly awakened Rip Van Winkles out there, and really good news for extraordinarily precocious newborn music aficionados. To celebrate the Boston Symphony Orchestra debut concerts of Canadian conductor Julian Kuerti, the BSO is offering a "Pay Your Age" special, and the final show is tonight. Kuerti himself would be in the hole a mere $31 if he weren't on the bill, while pianist Leon Fleisher, who is playing Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 5, "Emperor," would be out $80. 8 p.m. Symphony Hall, 301 Massachusetts Ave., Boston. 617-266-1200.

If you give a kid a book...
Fire up the SUV and pack a few juice boxes for a pregame tailgate party, because best-selling children's author Laura Numeroff, author of "If You Give a Mouse a Cookie" and "When Sheep Sleep," is in town today for a reading and book signing of her latest sure-to-be-children's-favorite, "The Jellybeans and the Big Dance". It's a story about a young group of friends, each as varied and colorful as a pack of jelly beans. Here's hoping none of the kids is anything like those awful popcorn-flavored ones. 4 p.m. Wellesley Free Library, 530 Washington St., Wellesley. 781-431-1160.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Barcode: You know you're in a bad bar if. . .

Faithful readers of Barcode may think this is a pretty cushy job, going out to bars every week on the company's dime. They would be correct. But to find the best bars in Boston, we've also got to suffer through some of the worst. In our research, we've developed a list of scientifically tested indicators that prove a particular bar is not where we want to be.

Giant doormen You know why certain bars employ "American Gladiator" rejects on the door? Because people there get in a lot of fights. Got all your teeth and want to keep it that way? Keep moving.

Triple bypass cuisine We went to a bar for dinner recently that had bacon and cheese on everything. The food at a place like this is bland at best, near-spoiled at worst. And don't even drink the beer, it's probably brewed from ranch dressing.

Too many TVs Big game on? Fine, turn on the box, but endless loops of classic hockey reruns and golf highlights are just making us more stupid by the second, and we've already got the alcohol working on that issue.

Fluorescent lights Simple rule of thumb, if you don't have to squint to read the menu, it's too bright.

Forced fun There's a reason bars resort to gimmicky theme nights, and it isn't because they've already got a line of customers out the door. You can't, as they say, put lipstick on a pig. That means no thinly veiled dance contests that are really excuses to get drunk people to make fools of themselves, no steak-head cover bands, and most important, no mechanical animals of any kind.

Boston Globe

Friday, March 7, 2008


Think all keyboard rock sounds the same? Guess again. Tonight's lineup of Boston bands at the Middle East proves that there's more than one way to skin a synthesizer. Before heading off for SXSW and a national tour, local favorites Freezepop headline with deliriously fun, electro-cute synth-pop. Also on the bill: the Information, with a harder edged style of new wave punk; the Main Drag, whose quiet and complex compositions summon frequent comparisons to indie-electro bands like the Postal Service; and Michael Hensley, who plays dark wave music of a decidedly Depeche Modian stripe. 18+ 9 p.m. $14, $12 advance. Middle East Downstairs, 480 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge. 617-864-3278.

Boston Globe

Wednesday, March 5, 2008



For decades America has been under attack by an insidious cabal bent on infiltrating the homeland. And they're nearly impossible to detect ... they're Canadians. Making things worse, these Canadians are highly skilled at imitating our culture and serving it back to us, Neil Young being only the most egregious example. British Columbia's Ladyhawk takes many of their woebegone lyrical and music cues from that model, touring the dusty back roads that lead from Young's invented heartland to a scruffy Americana of a more recent indie vintage. This is a record about the quiet loneliness of self-immolation broken up by moments of shouty, noisy, rock defiance and the idea that a ripping guitar solo and busted harmonies can prop up a busted life. It's an ass pocket of whiskey and a midnight highway sense of rock bedlam—disheveled, ambling and broke down as most of this fucked-up country. We probably deserve as much.






Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Brandi Shear: Lullabies

Shearer must shed tear drops of honey with such sticky-sweet vocals on this latte-blues track. If they had quiet, dreamy lullabies this alluring when we were kids, we would never have had any trouble getting to sleep.

Hear it at

Boston Globe.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Barcode: Teatro

We have a rule that you're not allowed to talk about a movie you've just seen until you're at the bar afterward. But we tend to get a little impatient, which is why our recent discovery of Teatro, the Italian restaurant and bar next door to the Boston Common movie theater, is such a great score. Added bonus: The long, narrow room, something of a mix between a train depot, stylish nightclub, and ancient religious temple (it was actually a synagogue in a previous life), seems pulled straight from a movie set. Tonight's plot: a beleaguered but extraordinarily handsome critic laboring against deadline to sample cocktails . . . and save the world! Or just write the column.

The journey began with a fiery, international stranger known as the Caldo e Sporco (Belvedere vodka, pepperoncini, olive brine, $11). "It's a dirty martini without the martini, just the dirt," pointed out our wisecracking sidekick.

The next scene introduced the Winter Citrus Smash (Hendrick's gin, San Pellegrino, Aranciata, blood orange, kumquats, $11), a drink so tasty and fruit-forward we were half finished before we realized it was gin and not vodka. Always a good sign. Gin makes our hero angry.

The Sixth Borough (Basil Hayden bourbon, Navan vanilla-infused cognac, sweet vermouth, rock candy garnish, $11) was Teatro's "twist on the Manhattan," explained the striking femme fatale behind the bar. We let the candy soak for a while to add sweetness. Not that it was needed; the vanilla-infused cognac eased into the normally abrasive bourbon, making it quite drinkable. Quaffable, even. One caveat: We know the cherry somehow gets a dude-pass in Manhattans, but somehow we can't picture any man's man relishing the rock candy swizzle stick garnish. Fortunately there were no tough guys called for in this script.

Teatro, 177 Tremont St., Boston. 617-778-6841.

Originally published in the Boston Globe.

The Raveonettes

Lust, Lust, Lust
(Vice Records)

Essential “Aly, Walk With Me”

Over the course of their four dark and beguiling albums The Raveonettes have enacted a story of time-traveling dustbin junkies haunted by aural artifacts from a distant past. Their fourth record, the stunning Lust, retains the Danish duo’s fetish for early pop harmony and surf guitar, lo-fi insouciant-chic shambles and shoe-gaze buzz in their concise, fuzzy bursts of tragic romance. “Aly, Walk With Me” stitches the band’s m.o. into a hip hop beat and bass groove, then destroys any sense of inevitability with bolts of feedback violence. Here noise trumps beauty, but it’s a close fight, and throughout the record, guitarist Sune Rose Wagner nudges toward the edge of chaos without drowning listeners in a guitar pedal maelstrom. It’s a testament to the band’s charm that he continues to tease such variation out of what could otherwise have been a repetitive formula exercise in archaic audiophilia. Credit much of that to the icy romance of Wagner and bassist Sharin Foo’s echo-chamber harmonies. They flirt in brief, ghostly exhalations before disappearing into history.

Boston Globe.