Saturday, August 30, 2008

Does It Offend You, Yeah?

Rock and dance make out

Does It Offend You, Yeah? makes hipsters happy on latest album

Contemporary hipsters are a busy sort, what with all the blogging and dance parties and taking pictures of themselves they have to get done every day. It’s gotten to the point where there’s barely any time left for scrolling between Daft Punk and Justice, The Cure and DFA on their iPods.

Fortunately, the British dance-rock outfit Does It Offend You, Yeah? has streamlined the process for us by managing to sound like all of those groups at the same time on its stunning, genre-mad full-length debut, “You Have No Idea What You Are Getting Yourself Into,” moving from synth and bass heavy ’80s new wave on songs like “Being Bad Feels Pretty Good” to glitch-ridden, chain­saw-powered French electro on “Battle Royale.” Rock and dance have been flirting in the corner of the club for years now, but DIOYY? helps them skip straight ahead to the sweaty make-out session in the loo. Bassist and vocalist James Rushent called from London to talk about the roots of the dance rock stew.

To what do you credit the blurring of the boundaries between rock and dance over the last few years?
Boredom, I guess. The Prodigy was doing it back in ’93. It’s not that new, really. There has been a lot of bands that have sort of done it.

Some of your songs you wouldn’t even know they’re from the same band.
We didn’t want to try to force the record anyway. ... We were trying to be true to ourselves. ... And I guess we were still trying to find our feet. It’s like a big experiment, really. We say we made our third album first. The experimental one was our first one, because we wanted to wipe the slate clean.

You use live drums and vocals in your shows. Does that add something you might not get in a DJ-oriented set?
Definitely. I think we’ve gotten where we are because of the live show. And we knew straight away as soon as we got signed we didn’t want to be that DJ duo thing. We’ve done it in the past, but just to have a laugh. We’d go to these dance nights and start playing Ramones, and people would be like, ‘Have you got the new Justice tune?’ And we’d say, “Well, no man. We’re playing what we feel like playing.”

Boston Metro

Barcode: Beer Advocate

With millions of visitors a month to their website and a successful print publication by the same name (the only glossy monthly beer magazine in the country), brothers Todd and Jason Alström are two of our leading experts on this sweet, sudsy science. We caught up with Todd, 39, of Cambridge, to check in on the state of beer in Boston.

Q. Which bar keeps you coming back again and again?

A. Deep Ellum in Allston. It feels like a bar. It's beer-centric with a very tight and well thought out selection. . . . Their new back patio is the most unique place to have a pint in the area.

Q. What are some of the new places people might not be aware of yet that are doing cool things with beer?

A. Green Street (Cambridge) and the Independent (Somerville) aren't new, but recently they've become more beer-centric, making them new to better beer. The Chicken Bone (Boston) is a sports bar with good beer! And Hungry Mother (Cambridge) is fine dining meets Southern comfort, with a small but focused beer selection.

Q. What's the state of the bar scene in Boston in your opinion?

A. Boston has become a hub and testing ground for many domestic and foreign imports, which has created some top-notch beer bars and a demand for more of them. Personally, I'd rather see more local beer being produced, but I can't complain too much as there are thousands of beers in the area.

Q. Who is doing the best job of pairing beer with food?

A. The Publick House in Brookline, hands down. The menu features beer recommendations, and many of the dishes incorporate beer. . . . I can't wait for their Roadhouse to open up down the street, featuring Texas-style barbecue and all-American draught beer only.

Boston Globe

Friday, August 29, 2008

Mike Love

The Beach Boy braves Faneuil Hall to visit his favorite Indian restaurant

When you're an internationally beloved rock star who has literally seen it all, it's the little things in every city that you come to appreciate. For Mike Love, in the area to play a handful of shows with his legendary group, the Beach Boys, a trip to his favorite Indian restaurant in Boston was priority number one.

Love, 67, emerged in the lobby of the Ritz-Carlton a bit behind schedule. Rock star attitude, right? Well, no, quite the opposite actually. His daughter Ambha had arrived early that morning after a long, delayed flight, so the group was beleaguered. Dressed in his trademark baseball cap with oversized shades and a short-sleeve black button down that read Club Koko on the back (just close enough to the title of one of his relentlessly poppy songs to make it play in your head all day), he mustered the troops, including wife Jacquelyne and their friend Andrea Menke, into action.

It was the type of idyllic August afternoon Love might have once immortalized in song. The sounds of reveling picnickers and thumping music chased us along the crooked, building-shaded streets of Downtown Crossing. Love's daughter was particularly excited about the walk toward Faneuil Hall, pointing out all her favorite clothing shops along the way.

"I'm 12," the precocious and lovely young girl answered, when asked her age.

"Twelve and a half!" said dad.

A side trip to see Paul Revere's house was deemed too far out of the way, but Jacquelyne, a native of Chicago, was delighted to share some of the more historic sights with Menke, a German visiting Boston for the first time. The university student seemed more excited by history of a more recent vintage, though. "Oh wow, they have H&M here!" she said.

"Not here more than five minutes with them and they want to stop at all the stores!" Love joked, sounding like a put-upon sitcom dad.

Love and family, who make their permanent home near Lake Tahoe, Nev., try to come to Boston every year, Love said, darting through the congested cobblestone streets like a seasoned Bostonian. "I know exactly where I want to go," he said.

A quarrelsome sidewalk encounter between an aggressive protester screaming something about religion and an angry, invective-hurling opponent, followed by a moaning sidewalk bike rider, provided a tense moment or two. Love and company took it all in stride. "Welcome to Boston," Jacquelyne said to Menke.

Love wasn't to be distracted from his purpose, however. Dosas, the South Indian-style crepes, were in order, and nothing was going to get in the way.

Cruising along the back roads, he seemed glad we'd decided not to take a cab. "Boston is a hard city to drive around," he said, segueing into a discussion about the Big Dig, our proud city's global calling card.

"This area is a bit touristy, wouldn't you say?" Love offered, crossing over into Faneuil Hall. The outdoor market was heaving with crowded window shoppers, balloon twisters, break dancers, and all manner of sidewalk-stall bric-a-brac. "That's OK though, because we are tourists."

A street drummer playing overturned buckets caught Ambha's attention. Love seemed perplexed. What did he think of the kid's chops? Sign him up for the band? "Well, I think he'd be better off trying out for Motley Crue," he joked. "As soon as Tommy Lee drops out and joins a monastery or something."

Closer now to the destination of his culinary pilgrimage, Love made a beeline through the crowd into Quincy Market, weaving through the throngs of grazing tourists with his arm around his daughter. We pushed through the sensory overload of grilled meats, fried fish, pizzas, spices, and sweets that permeated the stuffy food court. Mango drinks and dosas from the Bombay Club were procured. "I love Indian food," Ambha explained. "My name is Indian."

"It's actually an ancient goddess name," said her father as he searched for a table. He traveled to India for the first time in 1968 to take a course by the Maharishi. "It was the same time the Beatles were there. George Harrison and I had our birthday parties there the same month, thrown by the Maharishi," he said.

A lengthy discussion on the history of transcendental meditation followed as Love unpacked the bag of dosas and spicy Indian soup, placing a spoon in our bowl and making sure we had enough napkins. His hands were bejeweled in a dazzling array of rings and bracelets. Love walked us through his techniques of chanting, meditation as a means to invoke the powers of nature, spiritual safaris to the temples of Southern India, and harnessing the powers of positive energy.

A lot to take in between spoonfuls of lentils. He's been meditating daily since that first trip to India and even became a teacher of transcendental meditation.

"There is fascinating knowledge to be gained," he said.

Indeed there is. All you have to do is listen.v

Thursday, August 28, 2008

T TIME Weekend Events

 DEMOCRATIC PARTY  For everyone out there who’s ever thought, “If only I could help my candidate get elected by just partying a little harder” (so, basically every college student ever), this is the event for you. Obama is officially accepting the nomination tonight at the Democratic Convention, so what better excuse to throw down at Boston’s Generation Obama “20 Something” Bash tonight beginning at 5 p.m.? This official campaign fundraiser will have live bands, drink and food specials, a speech from Massachusetts Campaign Director Roger Fisk, and a live feed of Obama shooting rainbows of hope out of his eyes from Denver. At the District Lounge (180 Lincoln St., Boston. MBTA: Red Line to South Station). A minimum donation of $20 is required. Call 617-426-0180 or go to for more info.
For everyone out there who’s ever thought, “If only I could help my candidate get elected by just partying a little harder” (so, basically every college student ever), this is the event for you. Obama is officially accepting the nomination tonight at the Democratic Convention, so what better excuse to throw down at Boston’s Generation Obama “20 Something” Bash tonight beginning at 5 p.m.? This official campaign fundraiser will have live bands, drink and food specials, a speech from Massachusetts Campaign Director Roger Fisk, and a live feed of Obama shooting rainbows of hope out of his eyes from Denver. At the District Lounge (180 Lincoln St., Boston. MBTA: Red Line to South Station). A minimum donation of $20 is required. Call 617-426-0180 or go to for more info.


Raiders of the Lost Ark
Monday, 7 p.m.
Coolidge Corner Theatre
290 Harvard St., Brookline
MBTA: Green C Line to Coolidge Corner
$9, 617-734-2500

Sure everyone else is outside at barbecues and parties trying to relish the last few weeks of summer. But we’ve got more important matters to address, namely, getting over the rotten stink of that latest Indiana Jones movie. A quick tune up with this classic should do the trick.

Glam Boston Fashion Show
Saturday, 8 p.m.
545 Boylston St. Boston
MBTA: Green Line to Boylston
Free, 617-638-9699

Designer Nigel Ramsay returns to Boston later this month with a full show featuring all of his latest deigns at this hip Mediterranean restaurant in the Back Bay. But for fashion junkies who want a quick hit, Glam Boston offers you a free preview with cocktails, music and, presumably a lot of fierceness this weekend.

‘Once Upon a Time in the West’
Tomorrow-Sunday, times vary
Brattle Theatre
40 Brattle St., Cambridge
MBTA: Red Line to Harvard
$7.50 - 9.50, 617-876-6837

For a long time Sergio Leone’s misunderstood and under-appreciated classic Spaghetti Western often took a backseat to some of the Italian director’s other films, but all the elements are here: Leone’s masterful cinematography, an Ennio Morricone score and a stellar cast of bandits and brawlers led by Charles Bronson and Henry Fonda.


Tomorrow, 9 p.m.
Milky Way Lounge
403 Centre St., Jamaica Plain
MBTA: Orange Line to Green
$10, 21+, 617-524-3740

You don’t see many bands that got their start as a sculpture product, but then again there isn’t really anything ordinary about Boston’s Neptune. The band, who tease and mangle all manner of sound out of a wide array of homemade instruments, perform tonight.

Ernie and the Automatics
Tomorrow, 8 p.m.
Hard Rock Café
22-24 Clinton St., Boston
MBTA: Green or Orange Line to Haymarket
Free, 617-424-ROCK

It’s the classic rock and roll story: Berklee trained musician parlays success of auto dealership into a rock band to live out his dreams. How many times have we heard that one? Ernie Boch Jr. and band perform tonight so come on down! (Sorry for that.)

Dj Akbar Sami
Saturday, 10 p.m.
Vinalia Lounge
34 Summer St., Boston
MBTA: Orange or Red Line to Downtown Crossing
$20, 617-737-1777

Remixing house, hip-hop, bahangra, Bollywood and more, India’s DJ Akbar Sami has cross faded and beat matched his way to the top of the international DJ scene playing to big crowds all over the world. He makes his first appearance in Boston tonight.

 HE CAN’T BE STOPPED  Best known as the musical mastermind behind the legendary hip-hop crew, the Wu-Tang Clan, RZA has branched out over the years with film scores (his minimalist work on both “Kill Bill” films was haunting) and acting, with a solid turn opposite Denzel Washington in “American Gangster.” But tonight he puts on his hardass hat and hits town as alter ego Bobby Digital. Tracks like “You Can’t Stop Me Now” from the new album “Digi Snacks” continue RZA/Bobby’s impeccable track record. It’s another spooky minimal track with a ghostly sample and a hard-hitting lyric. At the Middle East Downstairs (480 Mass. Ave., Cambridge. MBTA: Red Line to Central). 9 p.m. 18+. Tickets are $30. 617-864-EAST.
Best known as the musical mastermind behind the legendary hip-hop crew, the Wu-Tang Clan, RZA has branched out over the years with film scores (his minimalist work on both “Kill Bill” films was haunting) and acting, with a solid turn opposite Denzel Washington in “American Gangster.” But tonight he puts on his hardass hat and hits town as alter ego Bobby Digital. Tracks like “You Can’t Stop Me Now” from the new album “Digi Snacks” continue RZA/Bobby’s impeccable track record. It’s another spooky minimal track with a ghostly sample and a hard-hitting lyric. At the Middle East Downstairs (480 Mass. Ave., Cambridge. MBTA: Red Line to Central). 9 p.m. 18+. Tickets are $30. 617-864-EAST.

Lord of the Wings
Today-Monday, 11 a.m.,
1 p.m., 3 p.m.
Stone Zoo
149 Pond St., Stoneham
$12, 617-541-LION

Living in the city, it can be easy to forget sometimes that birds can do more than poop on the sidewalk and steal your lunch when you turn your head for a minute. Refresh your memory at Lord of the Wings: Birds of Prey, a live, free-flight demonstration of birds from around the world, including the kind that could probably rip your face off with ease.
Totally awesome.


Savion Glover
Tomorrow, 8 p.m.
Showcase Live
23 Patriot Place, Foxborough
MBTA: Commuter Rail to Foxborough
$45-75, 888-354-7042

Hey, remember that one tap-dancing dude? You know, the only one you’ve ever heard of? Well, he’s back. The choreographer, dancer and director Savion Glover, who won a Tony Award for his 1996 show “Bring in ‘da Noise, Bring in ‘da Funk,” hits the stage of the new performance venue Showcase Live down in Foxborough tomorrow.

Boston Literary Walking Tour
Saturday, 10 a.m.
Boston By Foot
Corner of School St., and Washington St., Boston
MBTA: Orange or Red Line to Downtown Crossing
$8-12, 617-367-2345

They don’t call it the Hub for nothing. There was a time when Boston thought it was the center of the universe. This guided tour of some of the major literary landmarks in the city’s history includes the homes and hangouts of greats like Thoreau, Hawthorne, Emerson, Longfellow, Alcott and Dickens.

‘Summer of Love’
Through Sunday
International Poster Gallery
205 Newbury St., Boston
MBTA: Green Line to Copley
Free, 617-375-0076

Still got those decrepit posters you’ve been carting around since college up on the walls at home? It may be time to update your design aesthetic with some of the vintage and modern classics on display here. The International Poster Gallery’s 15th annual summer poster show features iconic images like Arnold Skolnickís famed Woodstock poster.

Robots and Beyond: Exploring Artificial Intelligence
Through Sunday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
MIT Museum
Building N51, 265 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge
MBTA: Red Line to Kendall
Free, 617-253-5927

Scientists have been pushing the boundaries of robotic technology at MIT’s Artificial Intelligence Laboratory for decades, and this exhibit gives you a peak behind the curtains. Answering such crucial questions as, “How can robots help humans?” and “How do robots learn?” this is probably a good chance to see what our inevitable robotic overlords look like before they’ve enslaved us all.


Deutsche Bank Championship Golf Tournament
Through Monday, 7:30 a.m.
Tournament Players Club Boston
400 Arnold Palmer Blvd.,
$25-55, 508-285-3200

The road to the PGA Tour’s FedEx cup goes through Massachusetts this weekend with the 2008 Deutsche Bank Championship. Last year’s winner Phil Mickelson and the rest of the top players on the tour make this one of the biggest golfing events of the summer.

New England Revolution
Saturday, 7:30 p.m.
Gillette Stadium
MBTA: Commuter Rail to Foxborough
$19-37, 508-543-1776

It won’t be long before that other team that plays in Foxborough starts hogging all the attention, but there’s still plenty of soccer left to be played for the hometown side. Tonight the Revs welcome the Los Angeles Galaxy and a guy we like to call “Becksy” to the pitch.

 Esteban Pastorino DÌaz   The last time we questioned our concepts of perspective, space and motion like this was after a weekendlong bender in New York City. But that’s not exactly the type of challenge that Argentinean photographer Esteban Pastorino Díaz has in mind with his work. Beginning Friday, an exhibit of more than seventy of his photographs goes on display at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts (230 The Fenway, Boston. MBTA: Green E Line to Museum) in a program called “Shifting Perspectives.” Many of his pieces, like “Las Ventas No. 3,” were taken with his self-built cameras and have a palpable sense of movement. An opening reception and artist talk will be held on Sept. 3. The free exhibit runs through Oct. 3 and gallery hours are Monday- Saturday 10 a.m.-5 pm, and Thursday 10 a.m.-8 p.m. 617-369-3718.
Esteban Pastorino DÌaz
The last time we questioned our concepts of perspective, space and motion like this was after a weekendlong bender in New York City. But that’s not exactly the type of challenge that Argentinean photographer Esteban Pastorino Díaz has in mind with his work. Beginning Friday, an exhibit of more than seventy of his photographs goes on display at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts (230 The Fenway, Boston. MBTA: Green E Line to Museum) in a program called “Shifting Perspectives.” Many of his pieces, like “Las Ventas No. 3,” were taken with his self-built cameras and have a palpable sense of movement. An opening reception and artist talk will be held on Sept. 3. The free exhibit runs through Oct. 3 and gallery hours are Monday- Saturday 10 a.m.-5 pm, and Thursday 10 a.m.-8 p.m. 617-369-3718.

Boston Metro

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Passin' Me By

The Pharcyde (Hot Chip Remix) This reimagining by indie-dance cuties Hot Chip strips the classic '90s hip-hop track bare, incorporating ominous synths and chimes that heighten the tension and desperation. Less fun than the original, but that's probably the point of this utterly effective deconstruction.

Listen here

The Rex Complex

Forget everything you know about eclecticism in music, because Boston's The Rex Complex is about to blow up your spot. The inventive and genre-tripping duo, comprised of multi-instrumentalist Rex Hussmann and drummer Jeremy Gustin, is set to release their first self-titled record—a style implosion that taps a kitchen-sink sonic palate.

"We're calling it 'roots ruckus' right now," says Hussmann. One of the driving forces behind their outside-the-box approach, which moves from the country twang of "Stone Walls and Steel Bars" to the tribal-rhythm blues of "Kudzu Killer," is what Hussman calls "that warm, wood sound of the upright bass and gyil tied to the sharper aggressive sounds of electric guitar and drums." The gyil is a type of balafone or African xylophone from Ghana.

Their knowledge of the obscure instrument came from a trip they took to Ghana to study music for three months. "The people, culture and music made a big impact on us," says Gustin. "Rex spent the last month in the north studying the gyil, while I was in the south studying stick drumming. For the most part, it opened me up to many dynamic and rhythmic possibilities. We're not directly quoting Ghanaian music or thinking of ourselves as world music. We might be pulling from that inspiration, performing with these masters. But it's a loose connection. The main reason we use the gyil is because it has such a beautiful, unique sound."

"I learned so much," says Hussmann. "How they interact with music over there, like it's just a part of their lives, I learned not to take myself so seriously."

That comes through in the band's sense of oddball, lyrical humor. Hussmann adds, "Jeremy and I both tend to steer towards the darker side of humor. There are a lot of strange themes—such as eating cats, and preachers selling asthma dust—but we also touch on emotional topics. We like to mix up dreams and reality. That's one of the best aspects of songwriting to me. Bringing out what happens in your dreams into something that carries over into something you can hear and feel."

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Tuesday Events

A couple months ago we went to the Hampton Beach Casino Ballroom, and the security fascists there wouldn't let us buy a beer because our ID was slightly bent, even though we were obviously the oldest person in the room. From that moment forth we declared an unending vendetta against the place that we reluctantly suspend to tell you about Chris Isaak playing there tonight. The man responsible for what is probably the single sexiest song of all time probably won't head outside to the beach to reenact the even sexier video, but that doesn't mean you can't. OK, we did our job, vendetta resumes…now. 18+. 8 p.m. $26 - 50. Hampton Beach Casino Ballroom, 169 Ocean Blvd, Hampton, NH. 617-931-2000.

NESN HD Game Night: Red Sox Live gives us a chance to combine two of our favorite things in the world: watching the Red Sox play and not being at Fenway Park. But it's still important to cheer on the home town nine with a bunch of like-minded yahoos around, which is why this is such a great concept. At a number of Showcase Cinemas around New England tonight (Revere, Worcester and Woburn, to name a few) we'll get the chance to watch the game verse the Yankees on the big screen -- the really big screen -- all in the climate controlled ambience of a movie theater. 7:05 p.m. $7-10. Kids $5. For a full listing of participating theaters go to

We've always thought the prevalence of frail children these days was because people aren't as tough as they used to be. Rub a little old fashioned dirt on it, we'd say. But it turns out even dirt isn't what it used to be; it's probably poisoned. In "Poisoned Profits: The Toxic Assault on Our Children" investigative journalists Philip and Alice Shabecoff reveal many of the ways that corporate and industrial profit motives have put all of us at risk, recounting stories of waste, indifference and malfeasance and the do-nothing government, and paid-for scientists who look the other way while we're being poisoned. We'd say we're never leaving the house again if it wasn't already such a danger zone itself. They read from the book tonight. 7 p.m. Free. Brookline Booksmith. 279 Harvard St.. Brookline. 617-566-6660.

Boston Globe

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Barcode: Olives

Thinking "When in Rome. . ." or, you know, close enough, during a visit to the extraordinarily dark, candle-lit bar area at Todd English's Italian restaurant Olives, we were naturally drawn to the Italian Embrace (prosecco with limoncello-infused strawberry puree, $11). A sort of fizzy fruit punch, it was fun to drink, if a bit insubstantial. The Alsatian (Shango spiced rum, Riesling, lime juice, blood orange bitters, champagne top, $11) on the other hand, was quite complex. The spice of the rum pushed forward gently, while the blood orange carried the aroma.

This drink would have held up well against some of the restaurant's superbly flavorful food, like the Boston bibb and mache salad ($13.50) , for example, with tangy toasted walnut dressing and a shower of blue cheese. It was the best salad we've had in a long time, but we mistakenly ended up eating it with the Peartini (Grey Goose Poire, pear puree, Poire William, champagne float, $12). Lean, cold, clean, and the absolute essence of pear, it would have been perfect drinking on its own, but it added little as a dining accompaniment.

Shaken to a heady fruit froth, the PCP (Silk vodka infused with pineapple, cherry, and papaya) was basically a shot of straight vodka lightly kissed by natural fruit flavor. Not quite hearty enough for the intense garlic and rosemary of the wood-grilled steak frites ($38.50), but unobtrusive enough to get out of the way. But with some 28 wines by the glass on offer ($9-$22), like an '06 Carneros Acacia pinot noir, a super full-bodied pinot with light tannins and tons of dark plum and blackberry, there's little reason to explore much further into the merely adequate drink list. It's the type of complex, bold wine that food like this deserves.

Olives, 10 City Square, Charlestown. 617-242-1999.

Boston Globe

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Jamie Cullum

"Catch the Sun"
Most jazz pop vocalist look to the classic American songbook when they chose covers, and young UK crooner Cullum is no exception. But he also shows a taste for contemporary Brit rock with jazzy covers like Radiohead's "High and Dry" and the criminally underrated
Doves' yearning "Catch the Sun."

Watch the video here

Boston Globe

The Honorary Title

Having trouble choosing between the two shows in Central Square tonight? It's easy, just ask yourself the following: Are you a sad soul looking for some commiserating, downtrodden brethren? Then The Honorary Title show is the one for you. The Brooklyn band added some shimmering production polish to their trademark unplugged dashboard confessionals on their latest release "Scream and Light Up the Sky" on emo stalwart Doghouse Records. 18+. 8:30 p.m. $12. Middle East Upstairs, 480 Mass. Ave., Cambridge. 617-864-3278. But maybe you're the artsy type, open to musical experimentation and freer-form, dreamlike song sketches? Then Jana Hunter, the Texas born folkie is your woman at 18 +. 10 p.m. $8. TT the Bear's, 10 Brookline St., Cambridge. 617-492-2327.

Boston Globe


We're forever theirs

A lot of articles have been written over the past year or so about the resurgence of Journey, that staple of classic rock radio and awkward junior high school dance make-out sessions. But the truth is Journey, which plays tonight in Mansfield, didn't need a resurgence because it never went anywhere. In fact, some scientists theorize that the group has always existed, and always will. Songs like "Open Arms," "Anyway You Want It," "Faithfully," and "Don't Stop Believin' " are so timeless that the band members could draft some random Filipino dude they saw singing Journey covers on YouTube to replace frontman Steve Perry, and we'd still be psyched. Oh right, that's exactly what they did. 7 p.m. $18.75-$125. Comcast Center, 885 S. Main St., Mansfield. 617-931-2000.

Boston Globe

Panopticon Gallery

Countless photographers have documented the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, but when North Carolina-based photographer John Rosenthal turned his eye to the devastated area of New Orleans' Ninth Ward, it was more a chance to archive a vanishing community than to find the most sensational destruction. Rosenthal captured a palpable sense of loss in images like "Derbigny Street" (above). "Then . . . Absence: Images From the Ninth Ward, New Orleans" is up through Sept. 29 in the Panopticon Gallery alongside (beginning Thursday) "The Whole World Was Watching: Images From the 1968 Chicago Riots," a series of black-and-white photos taken by acclaimed rock photographer Ron Pownall that should make for a poignant thematic contrast. Free. Photos on view 24 hours a day. Staffed hours Tue-Fri 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Sat 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Panopticon Gallery, Hotel Commonwealth, 502c Commonwealth Ave., Boston. 617-267-8929.

Boston Globe

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Barcode: Great Bay

Sox appeal

Bars only have a moment to grab our attention with specialty drinks before we resort to something tried and true, so eye-catching names are important. A gimmicky title can't make up for lack of mixing imagination, of course. A cosmo by any other name is still just as boring. But when theme and talent are working together, as they are at the upscale seafood restaurant Great Bay in Kenmore Square, it's a rare treat.

Tapping into the area's already deafening Red Sox culture, bar manager Jonathan Henson's series of team-inspired cocktails (all $12) go beyond goofy naming stunts. The Fenway Streaker (Christiania vodka, Corona, fresh lemonade), a twist on a beer shandy, is one inventive example. It sounds like what you'd resort to at the end of a party when supplies are running low and you're too drunk to care about taste, but it's a brilliant combo. Citrus and Corona are already a natural match, and vodka, says Henson, "doesn't add too much flavor but makes it a little more potent." Drink slowly though; the lemonade is so up front it masks the taste of the beer and the burn of the vodka.

Manny's Bad Attitude (Brugal Dominican Rum, bitters, grapefruit) was a joke at first, says Henson. "But then we were like, 'This tastes pretty good!' " He's right. It's got a low, peppery heat with a whisper of citrus and a taste that resembles Red Hots candies. Worth a try, but consider a trade for Jason's Bay Breeze (house-infused coconut rum, fresh pineapple, lime, and mint). The rum, which is actually infused not just with roasted coconut but with pureed pineapple, vanilla bean, and cinnamon, make this a more sophisticated version of the standard Malibu Bay Breeze - without any of Malibu's suntan-lotion aroma.

Great Bay, 500 Commonwealth Ave., Boston. 617-532-5300.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Aesop Rock

Riding high on the release of last year's dense and lyrically adventurous None Shall Pass, Aesop Rock, the progressive Def Jux MC, rolls into town this week. Turns out Aes is just as verbose answering questions as he is on record.

Is it frustrating being a lyricist when a lot of hip-hop is dominated by lazy samples and pop hooks?

I've refused to be the guy that's bitter about pop music and who is successful versus who isn't, but at the end of the day, yes. People act as if sales have nothing to do with artistry, then put the top 10 sellers on a top 10 artists list. I don't need a place on any list, but this shit isn't "art," because the process has become a manufactured joke. The amount of finger-pointing, crybaby shit, flimsy "beef," etc. has become a straight-up embarrassment ... If you want to have a pop career, I say go for it, but motherfuckers have to be kidding me if they want me to take some of this shit as an actual contribution to music.

What does maturity for a hip-hop artist mean to you?

It means finding a way to not come across like a child, while at the same time not coming across like you're making adult-contemporary music. Rap is an edgy form of music, but many people lose that edge as they mature. I don't want to make easy-listening CD 101.9 soft-ass shit. It's about maintaining an edge without coming across like a kicking baby, and speaking on some meaningful life issues without being a holier than thou know-it-all.

Weekly Dig

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Thao and the Get Down Stay Down

It's such a rare thing to be completely and unexpectedly won over by an opening band you had zero expectations for that when it happens you remember it for a long time. So it went with Thao and the get Down Stay Down, who opened for the decidedly more melodramatic Xiu Xiu on their last stop in town. The effervescent
Thao Nguyen and band shuffle and stomp through a collection of utterly charming, alt-country tinged jams on their record "We Brave Bee Stings and All." It's simple, stripped-down and straight-forward music, but Nguyen's lovely voice imbues the songs with the type of coy romance that ensures somebody's falling in love tonight. Whether it's with the band, or just the person standing next to you in the crowd is up to you. 18 +. 9 p.m. $10. TT the Bear's, 10 Brookline St., Cambridge. 617-492-2327.

Boston Globe


"Original Lyricist"
One-third of the legendary hip-hop crew Souls of Mischief walks a taught, static bass line in this no-frills, flow-driven celebration of his lyrical prowess. Shout-outs to the Patriots ("I'm sick like Bill Belichick"), and "The Big Lebowski" only heighten the fan-boy appeal.

Watch the video

Boston Globe

Brendan Canning

Something for All of Us...

(Arts and Crafts)

ESSENTIAL "Churches Under the Stairs"

One half of the creative core of the sprawling, Canadian indie-rock collective Broken Social Scene, Brendan Canning follows in the footsteps of comrade Kevin Drew with the second in the "Broken Social Scene Presents" series. Canning's effort, however, is a bit of a departure, as he assumes the mostly unfamiliar lead-vocalist role. It suits him well. The 13 multifaceted songs on "Something" bleed and blend in a sonic dream state where Canning's fractured vocals move between the angular and breezy, the languid and swooning. "Churches Under the Stairs" and the title track are straight-forward, bass-driven rushes of hazy indie pop perfectly suited to fans of BSS. "Love Is New" is the type of jerky, dance-floor funk begging for a sped-up disco remix. A collaboration with BSS' Lisa Lobsinger on "Antique Bull" and "Been at it So Long" are blissed-out, eclectically orchestrated romances that soften the album's otherwise crackling edges. Still, they prove that there may in fact be something here for all of us.

Boston Globe

Sunday, August 10, 2008

The Fratellis

Here We Stand
Poppy Glasgow kisses
We hate to sound like some record label douche here, but on the follow up to the Glaswegian power-pop trio's invigorating debut, we just don't hear a single. Perhaps we're grading on a curve; it would be impossible to match transcendent bursts of raw rock melody like "Flathead" from the band's debut. Yet there's still plenty of fuzzy, British Invasion style tunefulness on display here. Tracks like "Look Out Sunshine" have a pint-raising, sing along at the pub uplift, and the Little Richard-quoting "Straglers Moon" shows the band have done their rock homework. But as before, much of the amped-up riffing reveals influences of a more recent vintage, i.e. The White Stripes ("Tell Me A Lie) and Supergrass (everything else). Like that other game changing Brit-rock trio, The
Fratellis may simply have heightened our expectations by sounding too good too soon. (Interscope;

Alternative Press

Barcode: Beantown Bartender Battle

The first annual Beantown Bartender Battle at Green Street, sponsored by Hendrick's gin, gave five bartenders a chance to show their stuff by mixing original Hendrick's-based cocktails for a panel of judges, then introducing them with a limerick.

Bartender-at-large Justin Falcone began the night with his Captain Kid Fizz. "I'm a little nervous," he explained, setting up his bar station before the 10-minute competition clock began. His cocktail featured Hendrick's, St. Elizabeth's Allspice Dram, ginger beer, Pim's orange, and fresh lemon, all of which combined for a heavily spicy but fizzy and drinkable blend.

Representing UpStairs on the Square, Chris O'Neil's Seersucker (Hendrick's with a syrup of lemongrass, chamomile, orange peel, honey, and sugar) was presented in a glass overflowing with mint. His inspiration? "I pictured a guy sitting on the front porch in Savannah wearing a seersucker suit," he said. Reminiscent of sweet tea, it was lemony and sweet but retained the gin's presence - and captured second place.

Jeff Grdinich of the White Mountain Cider Co. in New Hampshire also worked with a tea theme for his Boston Tea Party. "There once was a party with tea, from a boat it was tossed to the sea," began his rhyme. With Hendrick's, chamomile and rose petal tea, Demerara sugar syrup, and the Italian digestif Fernet Branca, it worked both the bitter and sweet aromatics angle. Most industrious, however, was the herb butter and cucumber sandwich garnish made with the herbs used in Hendrick's.

The next contestant, Claudia Mastrobuono of Highland Kitchen, used orange peel simple syrup, chamomile, and lemon juice for her Hendrick's Tea - a glass of golden, sugary lemon goodness. Joy Richard of Tremont 647 took first prize with Nobody's Darling: "an elixir of cucumber and rose, with a scent that amuses the nose." The intense celery aromas and honey made for a balance of herbs and sweet warmth that clearly impressed the judges. You can judge for yourself by stopping in to see these bartenders on their home turf and asking for these drinks by name.

Boston Globe

Friday, August 8, 2008

Natalie Portman's Shaved Head

A sound that's turning heads

With a nod to '80s dance rock, young Seattle band Natalie Portman's Shaved Head crafts sassy electro-pop

It may just be the short attention span of the modern, multitasking teenager, but on its debut, "Glistening Pleasure," the Seattle band Natalie Portman's Shaved Head delivers a surprisingly mature songwriting effort. Over 13 hyper-stylized, electro-pop tracks, the group teases out more melodies, thoughtful shifts in tone and style, and cutting lyrical precision than a lot of serious-minded indie-rock bands manage in a career.

It's an everything-at-once approach you can credit to inexperience, says singer Luke Smith, who recently gathered around a speaker phone with the rest of his multi-instrumentalist bandmates (whose ages range from 18 to 21) to talk to us before the onset of their first national tour.

The album is a refreshing departure from the usual droning, monotonous approach to dance rock. "It originally came out of not really knowing how to write a song," says Smith, who brings his band to Great Scott tonight and then to the Roxy tomorrow night for a show with the Go! Team and CSS. "We were like, 'Ah, this is getting boring. We need to write a new part.' "

On "Me Plus Yr Daughter," the dance hit of the summer, there are enough melodic riffs and hooks to power at least three singles from a less-ambitious band. Ideas come and go throughout the song like friends stopping in at a party, then disappear before you know it.

"We try to pack in as many melodies as possible and change it up a lot, as opposed to a straight repetitive style," says Smith. The song itself is a bittersweet blast of sassy disco with New Wave keyboards and dirty guitars that drip and sweat like melting eyeliner; it's both achingly romantic and arch at once.

Not that this is contemplative headphone music. It's the exact opposite, in fact. Most of the candy-coated, retro-leaning dance-floor bangers here are about - what else? - hooking up, hanging out, fashion, and partying down, with all of the attendant social calamities and minor melodramas you expect from contemporary hipsters. And while the stories are told with the requisite ironic distance of a generation raised online, it's such a whirlwind of in-jokes and razor-sharp sarcasm that it almost goes full circle back to earnest. Like that name, for example. "Basically it all started in our senior year in high school," remembers Smith. "The blogs were abuzz with news about Natalie Portman shaving her head. We were in class together and we had to pick a team name for a game we were playing, and we chose Natalie Portman's Shaved Head. We just rolled with that with our little band that was forming at the same time."

You might call it camp if it seemed a fraction less sincere.

"There's definitely a fine line in a lot of our songs," says Smith. "A lot of it is quite sincere, or at least comes from a genuine place."

"A song that sounds like the most insincere song can be the most sincere," adds Shaun Libman. "Beard Lust," for example, is a wacky, old-school hip-hop goof with a surprising sense of poignancy about the perils of impending manhood. "It comes from the most innocent place," explains Libman. "I was trying to grow facial hair for the first time, so we wrote a song about it. [Keyboardist] David [Price's] rap about [not being able to grow a beard] is completely real."

It's another song that calls back to the '80s, echoing a Run DMC-style rap. Not that the band really pays attention to that sort of thing. "It's kind of funny when people say we're an '80s band. I didn't even realize this was '80s music," says Smith, who literally wasn't around for the inception of his genre of choice.

"It's funny, music hasn't really changed all that much from back then," he says of the band's dance-forward approach. But he's glad that dance rock is back in full swing after the downcast years of the '90s. "I think people were just tired of being so serious all the time," he says. "I know I am. Sometimes you just want to have fun and not think about what's going on."

Their idea of fun? "We try to pass out onstage if we can," jokes Price.

That's not so easily achieved, but they've managed a couple times so far. It's a bit harder for most of the underage band members who can't legally drink. "That's why we try extra hard!" says Price. "We've had some people pass out at our shows before. It's kind of a competition between us and the audience."

Dancing all night, passing out, then dancing some more? All in a day's work.

"That's how we know that things are going right," says Libman. "When people are dancing. It's the way you have a connection with the audience. It's like a dialogue between us and the audience - the language of the dance!"

Boston Globe

New England Product

Pride in their ‘Product’

Taking New England music from the airwaves to the stage

WFNX has had a local show in some shape or form pretty much since the 1980s, says DJ Dave Duncan, host of the “New England Product” spotlight program on Sunday nights. Since that time, the purpose behind it has been two-fold: “For bands, it means the increased exposure that comes along with radio play, and for listeners it’s a chance to be connected with a great new local band they may not have heard yet.”

You’ll get a chance to see the cream of that local crop this week, when five of Boston’s finest perform together. We asked each of the acts about some of their favorite “New England Product” memories.

Do you remember the first time you heard your band played on “New England Product”?

Tyler Littwin, Thick as Thieves: We were on the way back from a show in New York City, I think on the Mass. Pike, on a Sunday night and we suddenly heard our song, “Here’s To Waking Up.” There was some hi-fiving and general excitement followed by some tender cuddling and contemplation. Then, quiet awkwardness.

Michael Angelakos, Passion Pit: Being played on “New England Product” was, for us, the first time being on the radio in general, so, naturally it was very exciting. I don’t particularly remember the first time hearing it. … I think I was in a car, as that’s usually where I listen to the radio.

Mike Nastri, Harris: I think that we were one of Dave Duncan’s first in-studio guests. He was cool enough to have us down to the studio and play a couple of songs from our first full-length album. The first time I heard our songs on “New England Product” was through headphones right in the studio. It was a trip.

Noel Heroux, Hooray for Earth: The first time we heard ourselves on the show, we were in the studio. I was very much distracted though, because [a certain band which featured this writer] was there and you wouldn’t share your beer, of which you had a lot.

What’s you favorite non-musical New England product?

Angelakos: James Taylor. Wiffle ball.

Christopher Pappas, Everyday Visuals: It’s a tie between the changing leaves of a cool autumn day and Anna’s Taqueria.

Nastri: Cape Cod Potato Chips. They’re the best in the world.

Are you big fans of any of the other bands on the bill?

Pappas: We’re pretty excited to see the boys from Hooray For Earth again. It’s been a while. Also, the guys from Thick as Thieves are great. It’ll be great to see their set. Both bands are doing something a little different than what most of the Boston music scene is offering right now.

Nastri: Hooray For Earth have one of the biggest guitar sounds that I’ve ever heard, and their songs are infectious. I always leave with at least one of their tunes stuck in my head.

Littwin: We’ve played with Harris and The Everyday Visuals before and are big fans of both bands. Harris have this great energy, kind of a Fugazi-esque angularity in their music; it’s great. The Visuals are an amazingly tight band and consummate professionals. Basically, everything we’re not. They’re one of those live acts who you need to see to believe. I’m just relieved that my bitter feud with [guitarist/singer] Eli Scheer has come to an end. It’s like, “How many times can I apologize? I replaced your toaster oven and paid for the veterinary bill. There’s not much more I can do.”

“New England Product”
The Everyday Visuals, Hooray for Earth, Passion Pit, Harris and Thick as Thieves
Friday, 7:30 p.m.
Middle East Downstairs
472 Mass. Ave., Cambridge
MBTA: Red Line to Central

Boston Metro

Kids With Cameras

To see what others were ‘Born Into’

‘Kids with Cameras’ a stirring testimony to ‘Brothels’ film

INTERVIEW. The best way to see the world through another person’s eyes is to give him or her a camera. At least this is the logic in the Chase Gallery’s new exhibit. Partnering with the non profit Kids with Cameras, the exhibit is the result of Ross Kauffman and Zana Brisk’s 2005 Academy Award winning film “Born Into Brothels,” where the fillmakers taught marginalized children the art of photography. Chase director Jane Young says seeing the stills may be more moving than the motion picture.

Who are the children behind these photographs?
The children behind these images are children living in the red light district of Calcutta whose mothers work as prostitutes. The children, all between the ages of 10 and 14 when the photographs were taken, had no previous training in photography. They were given lessons on camera basics ... and then let loose to capture the world as they saw it.

They certainly did capture it.
It is incredible that these children were able to articulate their lives and experiences so beautifully.

Is there one that you find particularly haunting?
There is one image that I find particularly captivating; “Running” by a 13-year-old [named] Gour. The graffiti covered and crumbling wall is a poignant backdrop to the running girl in her ruffled dress. It reminds us of the hardships that these children endure, yet it has this wonderful, exuberant energy; a playful and childlike quality.

‘Kids with Cameras’
Through Aug. 27
Opening reception Friday, 5 p.m.
Chase Gallery
129 Newbury St., Boston

Boston Metro

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

The Duke Spirit

There's a gorgeous, haunting soul that darts between the cracks of the Duke Spirit's walls of fuzzy, sonic guitars. Brassy singer Liela Moss imbues each track with the type of broken-down pluck that overpowers while it pulls you in. The captivating "The Step and the Walk" from the UK band's 2008 album "Neptune" embodies its spit-polished indie brashness and retro-minded pedigree - it borrows a bit of its melody from "I Heard It Through the Grapevine." The music has enough detached distance for cynics to appreciate, and enough warmth for the hopelessly romantic. The Duke Spirit performs tonight with Boston's shoe-gazing, experimental sound-chasers the December Sound. 18+. 9 p.m. $10. TT the Bear's, 10 Brookline St., Cambridge. 617-492-2327.

Boston Globe

Miley Cyrus

We have younger sisters, and we remember what it's like to be annoyed into submission, so this flawlessly lab-constructed song has finally persuaded us to give it a ride to the mall. It may be an insidious force of marketing evil, and a gateway drug to Avril Lavigne, but it's mesmerizing.

Black Kids

Partie Traumatic (Columbia)

ESSENTIAL "I'm Not Gonna Teach Your Boyfriend How to Dance With You"

Cresting on a wave of breathless hype, and with an underwhelming recent Boston performance under its belt, this group of Brit-loving Floridians has set the bar pretty high for itself. And while there's a certain bubblegum synth-pop allure and cheeky lyrical irony in songs like "I've Underestimated My Charm (Again)," it's hard to find ourselves being carried away on youthful pluck and preciousness alone. Front kid Reggie Youngblood musters a barely passable Robert Smith warble, and many of the keyboard riffs, bass progressions, and back-up vocals seem cut and pasted from too many divergent points in musical history. All of that becomes irrelevant, however, when the transcendent rush of the Cure goes Motown on "I'm Not Gonna Teach Your Boyfriend How to Dance With You" or the fractured, resplendent romance of "I'm Making Eyes at You" kick in. On "Partie Traumatic," love isn't a battlefield -- everyone's too scared to take the first shot.

Boston Globe

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Barcode: Alibi

Not so sweet land of Liberty

A first-time visitor to the Liberty Hotel making his way past the luxury cars queued up at the valet stand and into the formidable stone castle might be forgiven for feeling a bit small. The stylish bustle of the hard-charging business and leisure class drinking at the bar of the restaurant Clink only adds to the sensory overload. All of which would be unremarkable - this is a luxury hotel after all - if the feeling of powerlessness didn't carry over into the dining and drinking experience as well.

Like Clink, the Alibi bar riffs on the same tacky prison theme to a similarly disheartening effect. The Liberty was at one point, you've probably heard, the Charles Street Prison, and while it's tempting to resist the obvious analogies that history suggests, Alibi's general demeanor makes it almost impossible to do so. The low ceilings, iron bars on the windows separating the claustrophobic bar space from the power-relaxing lounge, and celebrity mug shots do little to hinder the sense that this was once a prison; it still feels like one. We wanted to wait for a table, thinking a little space might help us unwind, but watching the clock made us feel like we were doing time.

Across the hall at Scampo, the hotel's new Italian restaurant, things opened up a lot more. The expansive dining room and open-air kitchen with its roaring brick oven and a larger bar offered a welcome if fleeting relief. In some absurd comedy of errors, aloof bartenders forgot orders and generally ignored us, as well as the patient party seated next to us, a situation only enhanced by the presence of Larry David from "Curb Your Enthusiasm" dining nearby. I wonder what kind of service he got?

Liberty Hotel, 215 Charles St., Boston. 617-224-4000.