Sunday, May 29, 2011

A Guide to Happy (and Legal) Tumblr-ing

Blogging without 'stealing' is much easier than you think

Information wants to be free. At least that appears to be the sentiment among bloggers, the majority of whom subscribe to a what's-mine-is-yours-and-what's-yours-is-mine policy (but mostly the latter part). By this point, the blogoverse has become a lot like what Picasso supposedly said about inspiration: A good artist copies, but a great artist steals. 

Of course, back in his day you couldn't exactly right click on a canvas in a gallery and drag it over onto your bedroom wall, so what did he know? 

Whether or not information should be free is a different matter altogether. On popular blogging platforms like Tumblr, the point is moot. For the bloggers who use these sites, the exchange of copyrighted material and intellectual property—other people's photographs, music, lists of all the amazing things you ate for lunch—isn't just an aspect of the form, it's practically the entire business model.

Festival bound? Plan ahead

Over the next few months, thousands of concert-goers will herd into dusty fields and pass out from a combination of heat exhaustion and alcohol poisoning. To help you avoid this, we consulted with Frank Bombaci Sr., the organizer of the third annual B.O.M.B. Fest, taking place this weekend in Hartford, Conn. With acts like Weezer, Snoop Dogg, Wiz Khalifa and Best Coast playing, we figured we could trust his tips.

» Don’t lurk by the main stage
“Pay attention to all the stages and really give those artists the opportunity to be heard. At the smaller stages, the music is phenomenal — even if lots of times people don’t really know who they are,” says Bombaci. “They might be headlining next year, so now’s your chance to see them up close.”

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Monkeys deliver dark Brit-pop

Alex Turner (seen performing in London earlier this month) fronts the Arctic Monkeys. (Dave Hogan/Getty Images/File)

Arctic Monkeys are restless, which is true of any band touring in advance of a new record — their fourth, “Suck It and See,’’ arrives June 7 — but it’s also specifically the UK four piece’s primary musical mode.

In an hour-plus sold-out set at the House of Blues on Thursday, the band remained relatively immobile and surprisingly short on banter (considering frontman Alex Turner’s lyrical verbosity). Their songs, on the other hand, moved in fits and starts, as with the darkly rumbling “Library Pictures,’’ which broke to a crawl, then suddenly accelerated like an aggressive driver in rush-hour traffic.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Boston boozing, by the numbers


Late last year, The Daily Beast released one of those wacky made-for-the-Internet lists, ranking the 40 drunkest cities in America. They used statistics like the average number of drinks consumed per person per month, the percentage of the population who are heavy or binge drinkers, and the number of deaths from alcoholic liver disease. Our fair beery burgh of Boston placed a respectable eighth, behind the likes of Austin, Milwaukee, and Reno, all fine shit-faced company. By their math, the average person in Boston throws back 14.38 drinks per month. Amateurs. 

Yet earlier in the year, Men's Health - whose editors must live in a city where bourbon flows from the taps - ranked Boston as the least drunk city in the country. Clearly they've never been to Allston on a Friday night. 

Cass Mccombs

Cass Mccombs with Sleepy Very Sleepy At: Cafe 939, Tuesday

The first time you hear “Dreams Come True Girl’’ — the closest that California troubadour of the folky astral planes Cass McCombs has ever come to writing a proper pop hit — it might not make sense. It’s a song that sounds ripped out of its time — or, rather, gently coaxed through a musical wormhole from the era of AM pop radio. On Tuesday, McCombs and his five-piece band put the loping number through an extended excursion that pushed its parameters into jazz, forlorn country-style slide guitar, and barely there folk whispering.

Dancing to life's desire lines with Lykke Li

You already love Lykke Li. You may not know that you do, exactly. You may not know what she does (snaps hearts in half with her voice), or where she's from (Sweden), or even how to pronounce her name (uh . . . ?), but you've definitely heard the two singles off her sophomore record, Wounded Rhymes (Atlantic). One being "Get Some," with its half-threatening, half-boner-inducing lyric "Like a shotgun needs an outcome/I'm your prostitute/You gon' get some." That ubiquitous indie hit isn't even the best song on the album. Follow-up single "I Follow Rivers" must have wormed its way into your brainpan by now like a slithering romance virus.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Gym Rat Control

Why is the Planet Fitness chain of health clubs trying to alienate people who love to work out? 


Of all the people whose ire you might actively seek to provoke, you'd think the ones who can bench press 500 pounds would fall pretty far down the list. Not if you're on the marketing team for Planet Fitness, the rapidly growing national health-club chain that has recently declared war on bodybuilders. In a ubiquitous series of television commercials that debuted last fall, the chain openly mocks those brutish gym rats who grunt and flex their way around the weight room, alienating everyone around them.

Maybe you've seen the one where a greased up Schwarzenegger-type swaggers through the gym repeating the mantra, "I pick things up and put them down." Or the one where another "lunk"—that's what Planet Fitness calls these sorts of people—struggles to tie his shoes. A third shows a screaming gym buffoon as he fills out a membership application, flexing and making sound effects as if he's maxing out on the squat rack. "Not his planet, yours," reads the tag line.

Arctic Monkeys escape the pitfalls of buzz

Post-hype sleeper 

Three for three with critically acclaimed #1 albums in their native UK. Top spots in countries around the world with each release. Early hype for their forthcoming Suck It and See (Domino). That's a pretty good track record. Nonetheless, you might be hard pressed to find anyone who seems overly invested in Arctic Monkeys these days. Likes them, sure. Still bugs out when "I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor" comes on at the club? Definitely. But that's about it. And it's not just on these shores. I call a London hipster friend to take the pulse of the once and future kings of Brit Rock. "They're just another rock band now," he says. "There's nothing exciting about them. They may as well be Oasis."

Oof. But wait, since when is being like one of the greatest rock bands of all time a bad thing? Particularly when the Arctics' initial claim to fame was an honor held at one time by Oasis, for the fastest-selling debut record in UK history: 363,735 copies in the first week. In the year 2006. The internet, you'll recall, existed then. NME promptly called that record the fifth-best British record of all time — but NME calls everything the fifth-best record of all time.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Led by frontman Ryan Miller (center above), Guster was both familiar and fresh Saturday night at House of Blues, marking the band’s 20th year. (Photos By Robert E. Klein for The Boston Globe)

Guster, the now hugely popular band formed at Tufts University in 1991 as an acoustic guitar and bongos trio, has come a long way since touring northeastern college cafes. The effortlessly sunny group, now a four-piece, with five or six playing live, has expanded its sonic boundaries significantly, playing literal musical chairs during a triumphant show Saturday at the House of Blues. Brian Rosenworcel, whose bongo calluses must have some seriously gnarly miles on them by now, even gets to sit at a proper drum kit occasionally.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Crafting a haven for craft beer aficionados


Craft beers may still be a small percentage of the overall market, but you wouldn’t know that from the way things are going in Boston’s bar world. Kendall Square’s Meadhall, which opened last week, is the latest entrant in the craft beer arms race. With some 110 taps, bar manager James Sklaver, recently of the Publick House in Brookline, says he hopes that means they’ll have a beer for everyone. 

“We really wanted to please everybody, which we know is impossible,” he says. “We’ve got a lot of seasonal stuff. We’re going to try to rotate as much as possible and get the freshest beer possible. We spent a lot of money on our tap systems, we wanted to be the freshest system in town. A lot of bars don’t have the time or means to take care of the lines.”  

A trifecta of Derby cocktails

A traditional mint julep served in a julep cup is one cocktail option on Kentucky Derby day. (Beau Meyer/Istock Photo)

Cocktails are much like any other accessory: They move in and out of fashion with the change of seasons.

The Kentucky Derby this weekend (the big race airs at 5 p.m. Saturday) signals the kickoff of one of our favorite warm weather cocktails, the mint julep. Bars around the city will feature the traditional version of the venerable recipe, while a few will trot out variations. One that sounds rather interesting: The Regal Julep from bar manager Grant Anderson at The Regal Beagle in Brookline. It’s made with 2 1/2 ounces of Woodford Reserve bourbon, 4 fresh spearmint leaves, 2 tangerine wedges, 1 bar spoon raw sugar, and a splash of soda water.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

DuPrees young and older deliver songs for the ages in Eisley show

As if we needed any more evidence that the DuPree family has talent to spare, the Texas indie-pop outfit Eisley — composed of siblings Sherri, Stacy, Chauntelle and Weston, and cousin Garron — Monday night at the Brighton Music Hall ushered youngest sister Christie and brother Collin on stage. The two opened the night with a set of her wistfully strummed crestfallen folk pop. Christie DuPree, in both appearance and fluttering elegiac voice, called to mind a “before’’ version of Sherri in Eisley’s early years — bright-eyed and hopelessly romantic, unburdened by cynicism.

Headliner Eisley is touring behind its recently released, and stunningly disconsolate, third full-length, “The Valley,’’ which finds the elder sisters enacting musical episodes of something out of Fitzgerald — all beautiful and damned and throwing themselves into fountains, as on the bewitching “Mr. Moon,’’ a defiant blow-by-blow of a failed romance sung in aching harmonies. Or is Eisley more Dickensian? The pining songs here have a certain cobwebbed-wedding-cake-in-the-attic aesthetic — Ms. Havisham was, after all, an original emo girl.