Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Neil Diamond

"Pretty Amazing Grace"
If you're only familiar with Diamond's hammy pop hits, it's time to take a closer look at the iconic singer's work. A new album out next Tuesday, "Home Before Dark," shows a return to creative form, particularly on this plangent and nostalgic acoustic lament. Hear it at neildiamond.com

Tuesday Picks

DANCE
Hundreds of dancing queens throughout the city have been primping in the mirror for weeks now in preparation for tonight's performance by Sweden's Euro-beat, electro-pop diva Robyn. They've got good reason to be excited too; Robyn, who you may remember from her brief foray into Stateside pop stardom with hits like "Show Me Love" has been on a fierce resurgence with disco anthems like "With Every Heartbeat" and "Who's That Girl" finally being released outside of Sweden in the past few years. Her latest US release, "Robyn," comes out today! Consider us breathless. 18+. 7 p.m. $15. The Paradise, 967 Commonwealth Ave., Boston. 617-931-2000. ticketmaster.com

SCIENCE
Roughly 540 million years ago the diversity of animal life on earth increased at an extraordinary rate. This period known as The Cambrian Explosion produced a wide range of bones and fossils from which scientists today have pieced together an approximation of this biologically complex era. It's a "unique episode in Earth history," says Charles Marshall, professor of Biology and Geology at Harvard, "when essentially all the animal phyla first appear in the fossil record." Marshall gives a lecture tonight, titled "Thinking Outside the Fossil Record: Explanations for the Cambrian Explosion of Animals." Free. 6 p.m. Harvard Museum of Natural History, 26 Oxford St., Cambridge. 617-495-2773. hmnh.harvard.edu

FOOD
No matter how exotic or high end the restaurant, it's almost impossible to find a place that isn't showing the Red Sox on the TV on any given game night. For some people that's annoying. Not us. Who wants to engage in conversation anyway? In years past it may have seemed incongruous, but now that we've got our boys Matsuzaka and Okajima on the mound, taking in a game at a sushi bar seems a little more thematically relevant. With their Green Monster (asparagus tempura and cucumber, wasabi flying fish roe) and Red Sox MakiMaki (salmon, asparagus, cream cheese and tobiko) Samurai Boston seems like the perfect changeup. Catch the hometown nine against Toronto tonight. Samurai Boston, 827 Boylston St., Boston. 617-236-7672. samuraiboston.com



Saturday, April 26, 2008

Barcode: Cuchi Cuchi

BaWith its ornate fixtures, stained glass windows, and servers dressed like flappers, Cuchi Cuchi revels in a sort of post-Prohibition era old-Hollywood charm. The bar isn't entirely of this world, however, straddling the line between vintage style and progressive eclecticism.

The pisco sour (Macchu Pisco, lemon juice, egg white, $10) with its traditional Peruvian brandy and egg-white foundation, is a highlight. "The key is to shake it to get it nice and frothy," said bartender Josh Parra. For those of you looking for more protein in your alcohol, here's your drink: a sour, grapey froth.

The Dipthong - that's a pair of vowels joined together to form a single sound, for those of you rusty on your phonetics - (lemon vodka, half lemon wheel dipped in coffee and sugar, $9) is as fun to drink as it is to say. "It's a variation on a lemon drop shot," explained Parra, presenting two Art Deco-style shot glasses in the shape of clinging nude figures (bottoms up, indeed). It's a drink in two movements: bite the lemon for a one-two-three punch of bitter coffee, sweet sugar, and tart citrus, then do the shot.

A long list of freshly muddled fruit drinks highlights Cuchi Cuchi's reliance on natural flavors. The Black Dahlia (muddled blackberries and kiwi, lemon juice, Absolut Currant, apricot brandy, $11) was a smooth push of apricot in a dark and seedy glass. The Thai martini (muddled lemon grass and basil, citrus vodka, champagne, $11) proved yet again the versatility of basil in cocktails. It's always a good sign when we're too busy drinking a martini to take many notes - suffice to say this one was finished quick.

Cuchi Cuchi, 795 Main St., Cambridge. 617-864-2929. cuchicuchi.cc

Boston Globe


Friday, April 25, 2008

HANGING WITH... Jim Courier

The tennis great proves he's game for anything at Kings Bowling Lanes

It wasn't exactly Plimpton strapping on the pads for the Detroit Lions or Mailer stepping into the ring, but on this night, at long last, I was going to have my chance to go toe to toe with a sports legend. I had thrown down the gauntlet, and my challenge was accepted by four-time Grand Slam winner Jim Courier, the former number one tennis player in the world.

Fortunately this epic contest didn't take place on the tennis court. I'm not an idiot. Instead we decided on a more level playing field, one on which I might actually have the slimmest prayer of avoiding embarrassment: the bowling lanes. Now that's something I have experience in; after all, I've seen "The Big Lebowski" like 50 times. And in the immortal words of Walter Sobchak, "This is not 'Nam. It's bowling. There are rules."

If you've ever been to Kings Bowling Lanes in Boston, you know that it's not entirely conducive to heated competition. It's a whirling maelstrom of energy, with pulsing lights, booming music, and flickering video screens. In short, a sensory onslaught. My only regret was that the 10-year-old version of myself couldn't have been there to see how awesome the future turned out to be.

Nonetheless, I steeled myself against the overload and tried to put my game face on. Unfortunately the completely affable Courier, 37, cofounder of Inside Out Sports & Entertainment and the Outback Champions Series, was way too laid back to take the bait. At first anyway. (Expect a bit more edge when the New York resident comes back to compete against the likes of Pete Sampras and John McEnroe for the Champions Cup Boston starting Wednesday.)

"I'm moderately pathetic. You'll enjoy how un-athletic I am," he assured me while lacing up for the match. Entering the names of our group - a number of publicists and friends joined in on the competition - proved to be the most complicated task of the night. Courier settled on the handle "GUTTERTIME", while I, keeping with the Lebowski theme, chose "The Dude."

I explained to Courier that all of my pregame smack talk was just hot air. Did that change his mental preparation?

"The fact that you suck means we can compete," he said, selecting one of the boulder-size balls from the rack. Most of them were quite heavy, he pointed out, with large holes - "which is good news, because I have fat fingers."

The game began without much fanfare, as Courier coached the entourage on some of the mechanics of their throws. For his part, he nailed a pretty difficult split to score a spare right off the bat. Lucky, I told him. "I'd rather be lucky than good," he said. After I'd had my shot - let's just say it was less than graceful - he came out on the lane to talk about the mechanics of spin.

Shouting over the booming bass, standing in the light of the fluorescent gutter markers, we figured out that there's little relation to the spin you'd put on a tennis ball.

After I choked on picking up a spare, I tried to blame it on the music. "Men At Work will throw you off every time," he joked. "Why don't you put down the notepad, stop working, and start playing." Good idea. Game on. Well, for a minute anyway. The final scores were less than stellar. "I'm not going to print these," I said. "You have to. Journalistic integrity," he said.

Fine. Courier: 129, O'Neil: 85.

But Marky Mark saved the day. Spurred on by his set of crunches in the "Good Vibrations" video playing on the screen above our lane, we racked 'em up for one more round. This time it was going to be serious. "I was flatlining till he came on," Courier said.

After I jumped out to an early lead with my first two strikes of the night, Courier came back. Superior conditioning? Fewer beers? Hard to say. Ultimately, the game came down to his final throw. Needing only an eight to beat me, he selected the ball, eyed the pins, and began his stride.

The ball curved to the right, hesitating on the lip of the gutter, then danced in a gentle spin back toward the middle. A cheer went up from our crowd. Time slowed down. Then, the explosion.

Final score: 135, 135.

Boston Globe

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Record Store Day

Like an e-mail from a long-lost ex, Record Store Day was designed to remind shoppers around the world that record stores still exist. But to judge by the crowd for the festivities at Newbury Comics in Harvard Square, it may not have been necessary. People are actually still buying records at stores. No joke.

“I come here all the time to get records,” said one 20-year-old customer. She was browsing on the outskirts of a paparazzi scrum surrounding local art scamps the Dresden Dolls. Throngs of creatively dyed and bespectacled kids took turns mugging with a curiously lingerie-clad Amanda Palmer. Drummer Brian Viglione pressed the flesh while his playlist of Ministry and Cansei de Ser Sexy (CSS, yo) kept domes ringing. With units moving like this, it’s too bad the band can’t hang out every day. “In some way, shape or form, the drive to go pick up an actual piece of music will always be around,” offered Viglione.

Across town, a post-Hooray-for-Earth-performance lull settled over the celebration at the chain’s Newbury Street location along with the proverbial dust kicked up by the band’s amplifiers. Punk tots on Razor scooters, sunburned townies, and co-eds swooshing around in freshly busted-out sundresses, bones still buzzing, snaked through the aisles. Bass player Chris Principe soaked it all in. “I do both: go to the store and download.” (That’s a huge relief, because I’ve been meaning to steal his band’s record on-line for a while now.) Nearby, two high-fiving bro-man dudes fired up their fist-pump turbines for an impending set from recent Rumble also-rans Clouds.

Back in Harvard, a shift change found kids punching out to make way for a gang of dad-rockers who browsed the CDs with the type of casual deliberateness it takes decades of record shopping to master. The crowd, and many of the hairlines, had thinned, the schwag table was decimated, and the balloons were deflated. But when Dennis Brennan and his band kicked into a sick roots-rock groove, it was enough to remind us why they built places like this in the first place.


Boston Phoenix

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

K'naan

"Soobax"

The Somalian born K'naan weaves a defiant protest joint out of his distinctive fusion of hip hop and African rhythms. Surprisingly it's a remarkably danceable party track too -- probably because we can't understand Somali. Although perhaps the disconnect is the point.
myspace.com/knaanmusic

Tuesday Picks

MUSIC
All that whistling can take a toll on you. Peter Moren should know. The man behind last year's breakout hit "Young Folks" from Moren's day job Peter Bjorn & John, set sensitive, be-sweatered hearts aflutter the world over with his twee, infectious blowing. Moren took some time apart from the band to lay down an album of wistful, delicate indie folk. The result, "The Last Tycoon," just out on Quarterstick Records, finds Moren playing everything from guitar and drums to harmonica , vibraphone and, perhaps most importantly, the handclap. He performs tonight. 18+. 9 p.m. $12. Middle East Upstairs, 480 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge. 617-864-3278. mideastclub.com

BOOKS

As far as rhetorical devices go "he's one of the good ones" doesn't have such an illustrious history. And when it comes to affixing the words good and Republican together anywhere in the same sentence, well, it's usually unthinkable. But former Rhode Island Senator Lincoln Chafee may just fit the mold. That's largely because he didn't actually fit into any of our readily available political molds in the first place. He captures that spirit in the title of his book "Against the Tide". We wish we could say its look at a supplicant Congress and willful and out of control President found the book filed under fiction. He reads from and signs copies of the book today. 1 p.m. Free. Borders Bookstore, 10-24 School St., Boston. 617-557-7188. bordersstores.com

DANCE
Bootie Boston
, a monthly mashup dance party at the Middlesex Lounge, is about "mixing and matching every conceivable musical genre, era, and style into one big party where everyone feels welcome," says co-host DJ BC. This month's special guests are local ska-punk heroes Big D and the Kid's Table, who recently collaborated with BC on a mashup record called "Strictly Mixed & Mashed." It's one of the first legal mashup records to date, says D vocalist Dave McWane, who'll perform alongside his band's horn section with BC tonight. "The night reminds me of the old sound system, dancehall nights Jamaica was known to have in the 1960's," he says. "It will be completely off the hook." 21+. 9 p.m. - 1 a.m. Free. Middlesex Lounge. 617-868-6739. bootieboston.com

Boston Globe

Monday, April 21, 2008

Monday Picks

ART
Bringing together work from collections from around the world, incorporating familiar masters as well as lesser known artists, the exhibit El Greco to Velázquez establishes a clearer picture of the period of Philip III's rule of Spain between 1598–1621. Included in the exhibit are such beloved masterpieces as El Greco's stunning Baroque landscape "View of Toledo" and Velázquez's realist portraiture "Luis de Góngora y Argote." In conjunction with "Spanish Spring" the Museum's restaurants Bravo and Galleria will feature Spanish inspired menus as well. $23. $21 seniors and students. Museum of Fine Arts, 465 Huntington Ave. Boston. 800-440-6975. mfa.org

ROCK
Everyone knows George Washington was heavy into classic rock, but John Adams, he was always more of the electro type. Dude repped some of the earliest dance nights in Boston back in the day. His funky ghost sweats one out at the 4th annual Fenway Recordings Sessions Patriots Day Blowout. Brooklyn's Foreign Islands hold this one down with their spitting synth punk and dirt bag disco beats. Dance for your country. It's what Adams would have wanted. 18+. 7 p.m. $5. Great Scott, 1222 Commonwealth Ave., Allston. 617.566.9014. greatscottboston.com

MARATHON
We all want to get involved in the marathon somehow. Some of us, the crazy people, actually train to run the thing. But the rest of the regular folks, well, we like to use this historic display of heroic strength and endurance as an excuse to drink beer and eat. Put us in the latter category. Problem is, it tends to get a little crowded and pricey down around the finish line. Atlantic Fish, however, will be one of the only spots open to the public without a cover charge that day. While the athletes can worry about finishing the race, we'll be content trying to, err… finish items off their special menu like the Marathon Lobster Roll. Reservations required. Atlantic Fish, 761 Boylston St., Boston. 617-267-4000. atlanticfishco.com


FOOD/BOOKS
The last time we tried to bring an open bottle of wine into a book store, they kindly escorted us to the exit. No such problem today at Harvard Bookstore's Taza Chocolate Demo and Tasting, one of the store's new monthly informal get-togethers. Somerville's Taza makers of the only 100% stone ground chocolate in the country, will be on hand with a chocolate-making demo. Sip wine, sample the locally made chocolates, and try not to spill anything on the books -- apparently that makes people a little edgy. 7 p.m. Free. Harvard Bookstore,1256 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge. 617-661-1515. harvard.com

HISTORY
Hate to break it to all of our former American History professors, but the exact details of the Battle of Lexington and Concord are escaping us at the moment. Was that the one where Ben Franklin wrestled a grizzly bear in the harbor? We may never know. Anyway, the more factually oriented among us can get a more accurate approximation of what happened when the Lexington Training Band reenact the battle that started the Revolutionary war. Oh… so that why they call it Patriot's Day? The battle begins at 5:30 a.m., but there's a full day of festivities planned including parades and other Colonial reenactments. Man on bear action not guaranteed. Lexington Center, Lexington. battleroad.org

Boston Globe

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Barcode: Tang

We've sort of lost track of exactly what it is kids want to be when they grow up. Paris Hilton? A rapper? A rapper on a Paris Hilton album? Whatever it is, it certainly lacks the gravitas of our childhood dreams: We wanted to be an astronaut - at least when we weren't thinking about stuffing our faces with sugar.

A few sips into the Lost in Space martini (Stoli Orange, Triple Sec, Tang; $8) at Red Fez, and we found ourselves lost not in space but in a haze of childhood memories, memories of warm summer days playing baseball, swimming at summer camp, drinking the official powder-based "fruit juice" of the space heroes, getting cavities filled. The bracingly sugary drink is a fan favorite, explained bartender Dan Driscoll. "People who have a sweet tooth go right after it." You'll need one to finish it. It's got a fluorescent Nickelodeon color and a sugary punch, but the Tang-coated rim of the glass tightens things with a mouth-puckering tartness. It's akin to chasing a shot of vodka with a pull off an orange pixie stick.

At Tremont 647, the Tremont Tang (house-infused papaya vodka, fruit juices, bubbles, Tang; $7) was a bit rounder. The key, said bartender Gretchen Knapp, "is putting the Tang in the drink, not just on the rim." The fruit juices and papaya flavor even out the sharp bite of the Tang, but it's a formidable sugar explosion nonetheless. Still, there's something irresistible about it. It's one of the most popular drinks on the menu, said Knapp. "People see it and say 'Is that Tang!?' and then five people will order them." They'd better not overindulge though, because, much like snacking on sugary candy all day, drinking more than one of these might ruin your appetite.

Red Fez, 1222 Washington St., Boston. 617-338-6060. thered fez.com. Tremont 647, 647 Tremont St., Boston. 617-266-4600. tremont647.com

Got an idea for Barcode? Send it to lukeoneil47@gmail.com

Boston Globe

Friday, April 18, 2008

Piebald

Now it’s curtains for Piebald

After 15 years, Andover’s finest hang it all up this weekend

PROFILE. A lot has changed for Piebald since they first started in Andover, Mass. some 15 years ago.

“When we were first starting, demo cassettes were how you got your new music out there,” says drummer Luke Garro. “Only bands that were on labels had actual CDs.”

In more recent years, Piebald, who play their final two shows this weekend, went on to release a series of increasingly complex punk tinged pop records like the recent “Accidental Gentlemen,” and became pioneers in the eco-friendly touring movement with their reliance on bio-fuel alternatives. “Converting our twelve passenger van to run on vegetable oil in 2005 and doing our first tour on it,” was one of the highlights of their run, says Garro.

The band spent under $400 on their entire U.S. tour. It was a few years before that, though, that they realized they had something special. In 2002, “we sold out the Worcester Palladium at 2,200 people. That made me be like ‘holy s---!’ I think we’re a real band.”

Not for much longer, unfortunately. On tour last fall, Garro says, the decision to end things just clicked for all of them at once.

“We didn’t even need to really have a discussion about it. It was just kind of known through all of our collective minds.”

Garro says he wishes he had known about the power of momentum during the band’s early years.

“It’s important to follow the energy while it’s there and to take on opportunities as they come,” he said.

Piebald may not have always gotten the credit they deserved for hashing out the type of shouty, anthemic indie rock perfected on their ’02 classic “We Are the Only Friends That We Have,” but for many young bands, they’d prove the blueprint for wry, witty, and yet still often sentimental post-hardcore.

“Have you ever heard of the ‘Piebald Syndrome’?” Garro asks. “Alternative Press used the term first, but it had always been something we were aware of ... It means an influential band that played with a number of bands in their genre that went on to become huge acts ... I don’t think our sound was ever catered for mainstream appeal.”


Thursday, April 17, 2008

Black Helicopter

Somehow we've been missing out on the grimy, wry indie of Black Helicopter all these years. The veteran group of Boston rockers bring '90s stoner sludge back to the fore, and probably eat little shits like you for breakfast. They play with stoner rock demi-gods Dead Meadow on 4/20. Coincidence? Of course not. Bassist Zack Lazar cracked wise with us this weekend.

I HEARD YOUR NEXT RECORD IS GONNA BE CALLED THE GUY WHO FORGOT 9.11. HOOOF. THAT'S THE BEST NAME EVER.

How absurd is this whole "Never Forget 9.11" garbage? Is there anyone on the face ... like if someone saw that shit go down on TV I'd say they're not gonna forget it anytime soon. So the whole notion of some random dude "forgetting" 9/11 is hilariously funny to me ..."Oh yeah that 9.11 ... I TOTALLY FORGOT ABOUT THAT." I came up with this whole concept for the artwork and all that and when I laid it out for the band they were like, "We don't have any songs about 9/11 so it doesn't make sense." I was all OK whatever our last album was called Invisible Jet by the way and had no songs about anything remotely related to aircraft or Wonder Woman.

SERIOUSLY THOUGH, 4.20, WHAT DO YOU THINK IT'S GONNA BE LIKE TO GET SMOKED OFF THE STAGE BY DEAD MEADOW?

Eh, we've been blown out of the water by better bands. Actually we've been smoked by worse bands too. Meh ... it's gonna be like every other show, I guess.

I WENT TO A BBQ AT YOUR HOUSE ONE TIME AND IT WAS PRETTY NERVOUS.

That's how it works when you show up empty-handed.

Weekly Dig

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Girl in a Coma

Girl in a Coma, it’s serious

San Antonio trio on writing, being raised on the road, and Morrissey

INTERVIEW. Note to musicians of the future: When you name your group after one of the more beloved songs by one of the most influential bands of an era, people are going to ask you about it. Forever. No relief then for San Antonio’s Girl in a Coma, who have shackled themselves in perpetuity to our man Morrissey and The Smiths.

But while they do share some lyrical motifs: dead rock stars, Oscar Wilde and woe begotten romances, the similarities end there. The music on this noisy three piece’s debut “Both Before I’m Gone,” is a whirl of crashing chords and jerky rhythms, torn apart at the seams by the lovelorn, harrowing drama of vocalist Nina Diaz. Her older sis, drummer Phannie Diaz, spoke to us about nominal, and familial, baggage.

Playing in a band with your sister has to provide for some interesting dynamics. Do you two fight much?
Well, there’s an eight-year gap between us. So when we started it was like, not only are you in a band with your sister, but I was technically also kind of raising her, since we were out on the road so much. She was 13, so I tried to show her life lessons —what’s good and what’s bad — but respecting her in her own way, because she was writing and doing a lot of stuff that people her age were not doing. But now that we’ve grown together, and this is almost seven years later, she’s completely mature and I find myself going to her for advice.

You brought your 13-year-old sister on the road to play rock shows!?
[Laughs.] I just had faith in her. The first time we heard her singing we were completely blown away. Jenn (Alva, bass) and I were trying to start a band at the time. And to hear her come out and show us this song that we thought was someone else’s ... we were like, “We don’t care how old she is, let’s just do it.”

From recording your first EP with Boz Boorer, to touring with Moz himself, to your band name, it looks like you guys are going to be answering questions about the Morrissey thing for a long time. Does that ever get old?
When we first started, we were definitely fanatics. But the thing that sucks about it, and [we didn’t think] about it at the time, people want to automatically compare us to The Smiths or Morrissey, and think every song is a reference to them. It’s not. When we’re writing we don’t say, “This song has to sound like this Morrissey song … ” It’s a completely different vibe. And then he just happened to come to a show, and he happened to like us, so he brought us along. Everyone’s got the Morrissey questions … ‘What’s he like? Give us the dirt.’ and there’s really nothing to say other than that he’s a sweet dude and he liked our stuff. And that’s cool, you know?

Being on Joan Jett’s label, you must get a lot of questions about her, too.
Joan is like a big sister to us. When it comes to the business, being in the industry, all those silly things, we just go to her. She says to always live in the moment. She feels regret, being in the Runaways, she didn’t have time to enjoy what was happening around her. The success she was having. Because being on the go just gets in the way. She tells us to just live in it.

Boston Metro

Club Fuxxx

Comes up for air time

"The room has a pretty grimy feel to it, so we couldn't feel anymore at home," explains Mr. NI$E, promoter and DJ at Club Fuxxx, of his new monthly digs at the Hong Kong in Harvard Square. After years of dirty basement and loft parties—as well as scattered gigs at places like The Middle East, Club ID and Bill's—Dave (aka NI$E) and his partner in insanity, Mike (aka The Kid), are ready to take the act above ground. Sort of.

"For the record, we are not DJs. We are performance artists," says NI$E. That's almost an understatement. At Club Fuxxx you'll find a costumed crew of dancers lifting weights, showering the crowd with glow sticks and brandishing (what may or may not be fake) weapons. "For those who can handle it," he says, "It's an escape from the impotent wiggling that comes from years of dancing to Joy Division and bad techno ... We aren't afraid to play a little top 40, so your average person may get it." There are, however, plenty of others whom the duo aren't interested in, i.e. "people who think that having fun, or smiling, heaven forbid, is anathema to being hip," or people who "spend more time comparing the prices of their designer hoodies than dancing." Fuxxx's musical selections- many of which are drawn from early '90s -make that prospect of standing still near impossible. But, says Ni$E, while there are "plenty of places to hear Rob Base, and most likely from better DJs, there is no other place where people will be assaulted with the fury of a Gwar concert at the same time."


Weekly Dig

Pretendo

"06/06/06"

With a name like Pretendo, you might expect 8-bit sound-effects fiddling, and you'd be right. But they're mixed deep in a hurtling, sludgy guitar blast that hits like the rush of a magic mushroom. Smash your head on the bricks.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Cut Copy

CUT COPY
In Ghost Colours
Indie-dance hybrid
****
Where Australian outfit Cut Copy straddled the line between indie and electro on their stunning 2004 debut Bright Like Neon Love, they eradicate any meaningful distinction between the two in this seamless blend of manufactured and felt sounds. It’s progressive yet retro seeming IDM where propulsive keyboard loops and bass pair up with organic drums and lush vocals with actual, you know, lyrics and hooks. Songs like “So Haunted” exhibit a warmth of tone and texture that draws you in while keeping you moving. It would be easy to imagine many of these songs -- “Unforgettable Season” for example -- being written and performed on acoustic guitar. If you’re looking for a little warm blood pumping through the veins of your dance music as opposed to the droning and repetitive beat sketches that plague a lot of the genre, that’s just about ideal. Every generation, it seems, gets the New Order they deserve, we now have ours. (Modular Recordigs; www.modularpeople.com)

Alternative Press

Story of the Year

STORY OF THE YEAR
The Black Swan
Crowd Pleasers Scream Along
***
On songs like “Wake Up” and “The Antidote” Story of the Year seem determined to recapture some of that fist in the air populist sing-along magic they‘ve scored in the past. Although older fans who may have lost track of the band since their breakout hit “Until The Day I Die,” may be surprised at the consistently hard-edged power throughout. Opener “Choose Your Fate” sets the pace with a gut-shot guttural vocal and glacier-sized walls of guitar. While the band still displays a canny pop ear at times (“Message To The World”), and a deft touch with melodic, expansive choruses that open up from tightly wound guitar lines, the emphasis on The Black Swan rests decidedly on the heft and weight of the hulking metal riffs. (Epitaph; www.epitaph.com)

Alternative Press

Adam Green

ADAM GREEN
Sixes & Sevens
Folkie Flies Freak Flag High
***
Check the sky for locusts, because an album featuring the Moldy Peaches landed at the top of the charts recently. Good timing for ex-Peach Green. Nothing here quite lives up to the giddy brilliance of the Juno soundtrack‘s “Anyone Else But You” (although “Drowning Head First” echoes its lovey-dovey duet delivery nicely) but there’s still plenty to draw hearts around in your 5th period notebook. Green’s spaced-out, folky mugging, cornball anachronistic delivery and minimal bedroom orchestration place him in an entirely alternate temporal dimension on tracks like “Tropical Island,” something straight out of some Elvis in Hawaii Technicolor dream . Like his classic “Jessica Simpson,” it straddles a line between irony and straight-faced oddity so fine it’s invisible. But then you pay attention to the subtlety cracked-out lyrics on songs like “Be My Man” and you realize there’s no other time or place that a creature like Green could exist. Lucky us. (Rough Trade; www.roughtrade.com)

Alternative Press

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

The Duke Spirit: The new American Spirit

It’s impossible to not be moved by the music of The Duke Spirit. Whether it’s in the danceable ’60s pop rhythms, the zoned-out sonic fuzz or the ballsy vocals of soul heroine Liela Moss, the U.K. band trace a pattern of influence from Motown to Sonic Youth with their second record, “Neptune.” Guitarist Luke Ford breaks down their sound.

It seems a lot of bands trade feedback for tunefulness, or vice versa. You seem to be going for both at once.
We all grew up with a love of pop music, things like Motown, old ’60s pop, it’s a common thread for all of us. Then we were kind of at an age with the appeal of alternative bands from the early ’90s. Going to see bands like My Bloody Valentine was mind-blowing. They could switch
effortlessly from really, really strong pop melodies but with an underlying texture.

Most of the American bands I talk to can’t be bothered to string a sentence together about their own music. No such problem with U.K. bands.
I think U.K. bands take what they do awfully seriously. Sometimes a bit too seriously, unfortunately. ... But it’s pretty exciting for me to be talking to a guy from a Boston newspaper. ... We find it hard to be blasé because we want people to find out about our band and hopefully read an interview and say, “Oh, those guys seem to know what they’re talking about. I want to check out their record.”

Have you learned anything from the bands you supported touring the States?
We actually toured a couple years ago with Ted Leo, and we had a friend of ours we met through doing that, a Boston guy, Travis from Piebald. He went out with us, driving us around, showing us how things work over here. It was great. Between him and Ted we learned a lot. Especially Ted, who comes from the sort of hardcore D.C. scene, some-thing we were always into. Just seeing their attitude toward touring. ... There’s no false pretension. ... We hope to bring some of that attitude back home with us.

Boston Metro

Monday, April 7, 2008

Barcode: Liquid Nitrogen

"A normal martini is about 20 percent diluted water," explains 29 Newbury bartender Rob Mannke, pouring a misty batch of liquid nitrogen over a mojito martini (Barcardi, mint, simple syrup, fresh lime, $15). Meanwhile the crowd at the bar is transfixed by the junior high science experiment gone alcoholic. The frozen "smoke" billows out from the glass and onto the bar, enveloping us in a chilling, minty mist.

Freezing the drink this way, instead of with ice, allows for a purer cocktail, Mannke says, and it actually gives the alcohol an icy consistency. It's also a truly beautiful effect, and like a child watching a magic trick, you'll want to say, "Do it again!" "I get lots of the ooh and aah factor when they start to smoke away," says Mannke.

The introduction of the liquid nitrogen routine has reawakened a sense of showmanship - and danger - to the Boston bar scene. Just don't touch it before it stops bubbling, warns bartender Chris Moran at Clio (liquid nitrogen boils at -321 degrees). He's just finished whisking a passion fruit daiquiri (Ten Cane Rum, Navan vanilla cordial, passion fruit, $18) in a large metal bowl. After the icy fog dissipates, the result is a frozen martini you could eat with a spoon. "I'll make one on a busy night, next thing you know I'll get 10 orders just for the effect."

"Most alcohol will just get really cold," says Mannke. "Like when you have a bottle of vodka in the freezer. It never freezes." Both agree it allows for a much stronger drink, and they're right. A few sips of each at both bars were enough to do the trick. And at $15-$18 a pop, they'd certainly better.

29 Newbury, 29 Newbury St., Boston. 617-536-0290. 29newbury.com. Clio, 370 Commonwealth Ave., Boston. 617-536-7200. cliorestaurant.com

Boston Globe


Thursday, April 3, 2008

Quadradius



























(Click to enlarge)

Seriously, this game will ruin your life.

Boston Magazine

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Monotonix

Purists know that rock & roll is a violent, chaotic tool, and in their spastic live shows, the stripped down three piece Monotonix wield it like a manifesto. Following in the long tradition of populist bands who abhor the stage, they revel in the dirt and sweat of the people. It just so happens that it's a tradition with almost no roots in their native Tel Aviv, Israel. The result, on their ripping, messy Body Language, is punk and classic rock distilled to its essence. Their anything-goes live show is "a matter of trying to communicate with the audience," says guitarist Yonatan Gat. "We just sometimes feel that a lot of bands stand on stage like monuments, kinda looking and sounding the same." Of course sometimes their reckless approach can have disastrous results. Singer Ami Shalev's bones "are sticking out in both his shoulders from previous tours," says Gat. "And our drummer Gever had a disco ball accidentally thrown at his face in Houston a couple of weeks ago. He was bleeding on his sticks. It was beautiful."

The cultural differences between home and abroad seem like just another barrier for the band to break down. "Some Americans are surprised we have electricity and don't ride camels in Tel-Aviv," he jokes. "In Israel, people are very conservative when it comes to rock & roll and culture in general. It kinda reminds me of very small towns in America ... There's a very clear separation line between a rock show and a party. We're working on that, though. It just takes time."


Weekly Dig

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Avril Lavigne

We wish we could say it's an April Fools' joke that we are unabashedly in love with Avril Lavigne, but it's the truth. The sad truth. Doesn't matter that she's possibly the most artificial pop-punk construct in a genre already long defined by its lack of substance, or that she seems to be a complete boor in interviews, because there's just something about that goofy Canadian accent and her way with a weepy power ballad that turns us into a nervous teenage nerd. Support from Boston's breakout emo-pop punters Boys Like Girls only sweetens the allure of tonight's show. 7 p.m. $43.50. Agganis Arena, 925 Commonwealth Ave., Boston. 617-931-2000. ticketmaster.com

Boston Globe

Sandrine

"Let the Love"

Each strum of the acoustic on this bouncy, '60s-tinged pop track from the album "Dark Fades Into the Light" is like the glow of the sun on your face. Singer Sandrine Daniels cuts shadowy swaths through the warmth with her wistful vocals.

The Lemonheads

Where have you gone, Evan Dando?
For many of us weaned on the fertile bounty of Boston indie rock in the '90s, The Lemonheads' version of "Mrs. Robinson" will always be the essential one. That song, recorded for the band's 1992 classic, "It's a Shame About Ray," along with the title track and "My Drug Buddy," the most romantic song ever about getting wasted together, may have launched us on a path of questionable style choices for a few years, but now, long after the '90s damage has subsided, we can listen to it afresh. Evan Dando and Co. perform the album tonight. 18+ 8 p.m. $25. The Paradise, 967 Commonwealth Ave., Boston. 617-931-2000. ticketmaster.com