Tag: Paradise Rock Club

Think Summer In The Milky Ways – Review of Guided By Voices at Paradise Rock Club

Guided By Voices in swagger on the Paradise stage. (Photo - D. Hixon)

Guided By Voices swagger about the Paradise stage. (Photo – D. Hixon)

Guided By Voices
Paradise Rock Club, Boston, 07/14/14

This more tome than setlist. (Photo - K.Gartland)

This is more tome than setlist. (Photo – K.Gartland)

Bam. Boom. Pop. Crackle.

My right arm is extra tender these days. There’s a deep, dark, and ugly bruise that extends from my forearm to the middle of my triceps. It’s embarrassingly large, yet I have no clue how I came to acquire such a mark. All I know is that there was Saturday. There was Guided By Voices. And there was me with no voice come Sunday.

Nearly 50 songs were played in a set that included three encores, multiple Uncle Bob kicks, and a crowd that was fervently lucid. It was constant, loud, and well received. This show was different from the last time GBV were in Boston. That was at the apex of their classic lineup victory tour. That was a show to celebrate days gone past. This was a show to celebrate days still here – and with a killer mix of both yesterday and today they achieved just that.

The sun will rise. The sun will set. And Guided By Voices will be playing and putting out great music. To think, I thought the 4th of July was eight days earlier  – and like bright lights dimming in the sky, it’s a shame this bruise is gonna fade.

Bam. Boom. Pop. Crackle.

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Even When They Stand, They Sit – A Sort Of Review of Stephen Malkmus & the Jicks at Paradise Rock Club

Stephen Malkmus & the Jicks are not to blame.

Stephen Malkmus & the Jicks are not to blame for the shoegazers we’ve become.

It’s finally happened, much sooner than I expected – like a sniper in the shadows pulling a shot that ends in red mist, my youth has been blown away. Without want, desire, or effort I’ve become old – the inevitable fate of the survivor…I guess.

At the young age of 34 I’ve reached a disgruntled state that has me waving a white flag on the future status of what I call Rock. I’ve gone to too many shows where I expect to be swept up in the excitement of Rock and Roll – allowed to forgot my everyday worries, and be entranced by bright lights, good music, and a raucous crowd.

Shit. Maybe I’d even pogo around like an idiot, sweat too much while feeling alive, free, and without self consciousness. But for whatever the reason when I attend a show as of late it’s an affair riddled with crossed arms, furrowed brows, and a bunch of young assholes who haven’t lived enough to make a mistake that allows them to make a real decision.

Crap. I really have crossed a border.

I know. I’m old, disgruntled, and you should get off my lawn. These are likely middle aged growing pains that I feel while not going to the real shows of today – but I doubt that’s all they are – going to a show like Stephen Malkmus & the Jicks shouldn’t feel docile, safe, and sterile. You should sweat, move from the spot you stand, and get lost in a sway you don’t completely control.

But what the fuck do I know. I’m 34 years old.


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First Impressions: Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks ‎– Wig Out At Jagbags

First Impressions: Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks ‎– Wig Out At Jagbags

First Impressions: Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks ‎– Wig Out At Jagbags

Stephen Malkmus is a perpetual favorite who resides on my Mount Rushmore of guitarists along with Ira Kaplan, Thurston Moore, & Kurt Vile. Any record he’s on I’m excited about, and his latest with The Jicks, Wig Out at Jagbags, is no exception.

This is the sixth album Malkmus has cut with The Jicks, which means he’s released more albums with them than Pavement, and that blows my mind. Terror Twilight (the last Pavement album) was released 15 long years ago, which raises waaaaaaay too many questions about my own mortality without having a drink near by, so I’m moving on.

I’ve listened to Wig Out at Jagbags three times so far, and the record as a whole is mixed super flat. Each time I’ve dropped the needle on “Planetary Motion” (Track A1) I’ve instinctively reacted by turning my receiver up as all parts are muddled and just lounging in the middle. You get used to the mix as the record wears on, but it’s really lacking the oompth you’d want from a Malkmus album, and comes off as neutered. The songs aren’t bad by any means, with “Lariat” being the initial standout, but nothing really grabs me by the balls and demands my attention like “Hopscotch Willie” did on Real Emotional Trash. Like most of Saint Stephen’s records this is very likely a grower, but on the first few listens it’s not showing me too much, which is why I’m especially excited to hear the album live in February.

Recommended If You Like: 90’s Alternative, Madlibs, Dr. Seuss Rock

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Rise Above: Interview with Vanyaland Founder Michael Marotta

Michael Marotta of Vanyaland. (Photo of Michael - Sarah Sparks)

Michael Marotta of Vanyaland. (Photo of Michael – Sarah Sparks)

Michael Marotta is the Founder of Vanyaland, an excellent online music magazine which ironically rose from the ashes after the storied and historic alt-weekly, the Boston Phoenix, ceased publication this past March. Michael was the music editor at the Boston Phoenix as well as the music director at WFNX.com. Marotta’s also the DJ/promoter of the long-running indie dance party the pill, and is an all around champion of music and the Boston scene.

Visions of the Unexcused: The closing of the Boston Phoenix occurred when you and others with the paper were down in Austin, TX at South by Southwest – far away from Boston. Do you think that was a conscious decision, or just poor timing?

Michael Marotta: I’m really not sure, and it still doesn’t make too much sense. You can’t just shut down a nearly 50-year-old operation on a whim, so of course it was planned by the higher-ups for a while. Why the hammer dropped while we were in Texas, who knows? Although I like to joke that none of my superiors wanted to tell me I couldn’t go to SXSW, so they said screw it let them go and we’ll deal with it when he comes back.

Visions: How soon after the announcement did you decide to shift your efforts at both the Phoenix and WFNX and pour them into Vanyaland?

MM: It took about 36 hours until boredom set in and I re-booted Vanyaland, which I created around 2008 as a means of staying busy and covering Boston music while I was at the Boston Herald. I didn’t get many assignments while I was there, so I filled the void with my own personal blog, posting mainly about music but also baseball and hockey and reality television. I left it up when I joined the Phoenix but rarely updated it. After the Phoenix died, I starting posting regularly again, just to stay sharp (and sane), with the idea that I would re-launch it in the next few weeks as something bigger, almost like the Phoenix’s music page, with a stable of writers and more varied voices and coverage.

Visions: Do you ever see Vanyaland making the shift to print? Or was Egon right – is print dead?

MM: It’s unlikely, though I’d never rule it out. Printing costs are prohibitive, and the world moves too fast in 2013 for a print publication to keep up. Possibly one day we could morph into a newsprint alt-weekly – I wasn’t a fan of the glossy magazine the Phoenix had become in its final months – that would serve as a best-of, so to speak, for our longer-form pieces.

Visions: What made you decide to re-launch on the one year anniversary of the sale of WFNX’s signal? Do you view the future of Vanyaland inherently connected to the past of the Phoenix and WFNX?

MM: It was a bit of a coincidence, honestly. We originally were going to launch in mid-April, but with the Boston Marathon bombing it didn’t feel right, the city was vulnerable and still shaken up a bit, and launching something like this takes a bit of chest-thumping and cheerleading, which I didn’t feel was appropriate at the time. When we looked to mid-May, the re-launch date – May 15 – made sense; I’ve always had an affinity for the number 15, as it was my baseball number when I played competitively when I was younger. When I realized it was the day before the one-year anniversary of WFNX’s 101.7 FM signal sale (I learned about the sale the day before), it seemed poetic.

A lot of things in my life seemed to go sour after the sale of 101.7 FM – I lost my radio show, an intense personal relationship ended a few weeks later, and the black cloud stretched all the way to March’s closing of the Boston Phoenix. It wasn’t a great year. So having a sort-of rebirth on that date made sense to me, as I was starting a new chapter.

My approach to Vanyaland is similar to the Phoenix, though we only cover music. I will always be grateful of the opportunities I was given by WFNX and the Phoenix, being music editor of the Phoenix was by far the best job I’ve ever had. I miss it tremendously.

Visions: There’s a lot of great new acts coming out of Boston, which ones do you think have the best chance of making a National impact?

MM: Bad Rabbits are just about there, they owned Boston Calling and are now doing the late-night TV circuit, playing for a national audience. I think North Shore garage rock trio Fat Creeps are ready for a breakthrough, as are modern rock band Burglary Years. And the Western Mass scene is incredible right now, with Speedy Ortiz and Potty Mouth ready to put Massachusetts, as a state, back on the map. Closer to home, but not quite Boston, is Worcester’s Secret Lover. Boston’s RIBS just did a quick tour with Joy Formidable. And of course there’s Bearstronaut, a dance-pop band from Somerville, who I love so much I started a record label in 2011 out of my bedroom just to put their music on vinyl.

Visions: What’s the best way for up and coming bands to contact Vanyaland for a possible feature? If you had a choice, would you rather have a Sound Cloud link, CD, or Record?

MM: Soundcloud/Bandcamp links are preferred, I’m always at my laptop and the easier I can hear a band’s music, the better. CDs are clutter, and vinyl is cool only when you like the band (haha). Anyone can email me at Michael@vanyaland.com. I get a ton of email, so no one should be discouraged if they don’t hear back; a lot of times I’ll get an email, pull up the band links, and listen to the music while I’m doing other stuff. Many times I’ll get an email and mark a show into my calendar.

Visions: Your favorite “classic” Venue to see a show in Boston/Cambridge is…

MM: The Paradise is still the best place to see a show in Boston, and we’re spoiled around town with Great Scott, the Middle East, and TT The Bear’s. I love the network of clubs we have here.

Visions: Your favorite new Venue to see a show in Boston/Cambridge is…

MM: The Sinclair has a great feel to it, and sounds incredible, and Radio in Somerville (I guess they’re not really new anymore) is a super friendly place that I never have a bad time at.

Visions: Your favorite place to get late-night grub is…

MM: Tedeschi because Boston hates late-night culture.

Visions: The best album of 2013 thus far is…

MM: Suede’s Bloodsports. I’m still amazed that my favorite band of all time pulled off a remarkable comeback a decade after I left them for dead. I’ve also been really digging Charlie XCX’s True Romance, as well as the Jagwar Ma record and the new Gozu disc.

Visions: The future of music reporting and discovery lies in…

MM: Twitter, the most important online entity in the world.

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I Remember How It Used To Be – Drive-By Truckers at Paradise Rock Club

Drive-By Truckers

The Drive-By Truckers close out a fantastic set. (GIF – D.Hixon)

Drive By-Truckers
Paradise Rock Club, Boston, 03/13/13

There are few bands left that are patently American. Music influences have become so referenced that it can be difficult to see a bands origin story. This isn’t the case with the Drive-By Truckers. Last night they played a passionate set to a lifted Paradise crowd – and who they were, and where they’re from was never in question.

Drive-By Truckers

Drive-By Truckers

I view The Drive-By Truckers as a an ideal of what the South could be. I’m decidedly a North East guy, and become suspect of anything below the Mason Dixon – so I’m knowingly ignorant to how the South truly is, with a view aided by Red & Blue political rhetoric. Patterson Hood and the other Truckers assist me in cutting through the bullshit, and realize that not everyone in a rural setting is a gun toting racist homophobe on their way to Wal-Mart.

America isn’t Red. America isn’t Blue. America is Purple. It’s much more mixed and complex than those binary colored maps that are waved in front of us every four years. This is why I love The Drive-By Truckers. They’re not a Southern band, they’re an American band, and that was on full display last night. They squeezed every ounce of music they had in them on that stage, taking breaks in-between songs just long enough for you to almost catch your breath, and together through the music, all were one.

You don’t just read William Faulkner in Mississippi.

Below: The Paradise crowd gives thanks to the Truckers.

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Yo La Tengo is Love – Review of Yo La Tengo at Paradise Rock Club

Yo La Tengo

Yo La Tengo played a Top 3 show at Paradise last night, amazing.

Yo La Tengo
Paradise Rock Club, Boston, 02/13/13

I’m sure to see many more shows in 2013, however, none will approach the level of excellent Yo La Tengo achieved last night, as they put on an incredible show. I started off my night by Pre-Gaming at In Your Ear Records, and from looking at Twitter, Ira had the same exact idea. I missed him by 1/2 an hour but would meet and talk with him soon at the Merch table.

Ira Kaplan

Ira singing to the crowd.

These are two of the many reasons why this band connects so deeply with me. Part of “Touring 101” is to be at your own merch table before and after shows, but a band of Yo La Tengo’s standing really doesn’t need to do this anymore – but there was Ira, kindly chatting with anyone who approached the table, including my bumbling self. I also don’t think it should be overlooked that Ira was at the record store before the show. This distinctly shows how much of a fan he still is, and that’s what I talked with him at the merch table about, the records we bought.

Yo La Tengo opened up for itself doing an acoustic set to kick off the night. The songs played were beautiful and spanned across their catalog, but I couldn’t help but pang for the grind and feedback of their electric set. It wasn’t until the night was over that I realized how perfect this set up the show though, and made me appreciate them as a band even more. Instruments were swapped, vocals were shared, and the restraint they showed in these acoustic arrangements were masterful. It’s easy to play loud and burly, but to be able to strip down songs as Yo La does is an art into itself. Then they plugged in….

The electric set was hair standing on your forearm good. Ira was in top form flailing the guitar above his head, behind his back, and against amps in a blitz of controlled abandon and feedback. He’s on my Mount Rushmore of guitar players and last night he was loud, raunchy, and just excellent as all hell. The highlight of the night for me was their version of “Pass The Hatchet, I Think I’m Goodkind” which I’ve posted a portion of below (WARNING: my crappy camera phone does it zero justice, but trust me, it was epic). James impressed me most here as he held steady the bassline with the patience and knowledge of a Zen Master, watching him groove to the incessant prodding of his bass was transcendent, and it was easy to get lost with him.

For the last song of the encore they played “The Whole Of The Law” which is a most appropriate Valentines Day tune, and was heart wrenchingly good. This really book-ended the night for me, and again impressed me with how easily they can go from hard to soft. And as the lights were lowered I missed my Valentine quite a bit, with Georgia standing without instrument at center stage, singing the loveliest love song with her Husband. A gorgeous end to a near perfect night. That’s it, that’s the law, that’s the whole of the law.

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Freakin’ Weekend: Twin Shadow – Castles In The Snow



Sticking with this weekends Blizzard theme, the song of the Freakin’ Weekend is Twin Shadow’s excellent tune, “Castles In The Snow”. A slow burner that’s the soundtrack to your favorite movie from the 80’s that never was made. Twin Shadow’s currently on Tour, and will be in Boston on 06/12/13 at the Paradise Rock Club.

Recommended If You Like: Peter Gabriel, Toro Y Moi, 80’s Nostalgia, PopWave


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New Album: Guards – In Guards We Trust

In Guards We Trust to be released on 02.05.13

In Guards We Trust to be released on 02.05.13

Guards, the reverb drenched guitar pop trio from NY, have released a teaser video for their upcoming album, In Guards We Trust, dropping on 02/05/13 via Black Bell Records. The video features back seat make-outs, retro race tracks, windy boat rides, and a killer new track called “Nightmare”. The video has an expatriate F. Scott vibe, and definitely has me intrigued to hear more.

Guards will be playing later this month at the Paradise Rock Club on 01/26/13 opening for Ra Ra Riot. If you’re unfamiliar with their work, you can pick up their excellent first EP for free, and if you like what you hear, which you should, pre-order In Guards We Trust here.

Recommended If You Like: Beach Fossils, Girls, Woods, Garage Gaze

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