Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Show Review: Railroad Earth @ Paradise Rock Club [10/18]

Railroad Earth rode into Boston last Saturday night, delighting the sold out crowd at the Paradise Rock Club with their laid-back mix of bluegrass and jam-rock.

Playing a collection of their older material mixed in with some songs off their 2008 album Amen Corner, the band combined impressive songwriting with stomping, danceable rhythms that engaged the crowd, even those who did not know their music beforehand.

As a relative newcomer to Railroad Earth’s music, the show was a pleasant surprise, as the band continually showcased just why they have such a loyal following of fans that style themselves “Hobos.”  Songs such as “Lordy, Lordy” and “The Forecast” showcased the talents of violinist Tim Carbone and multi-instrumentalist Andy Goessling, who switched back and forth between the mandolin and acoustic guitar. “The Forecast” especially showed the two playing dovetailing riffs that brought a warm coherence to the song in the middle of a lengthy jam.

First set closer “Peace On Earth” as well as “The Happy Song” helped to illustrate the optimistic and carefree vibe that the band brought to the venue, a mood similar to the laidback atmosphere that permeates the live recordings of the Grateful Dead.

Singer and guitarist Todd Sheaffer epitomized this light-hearted mood, smiling throughout the two sets and bantering occasionally with the crowd, while drummer Carey Harmon was inspiring to watch, playing with his eyes closed for the entire show and seemingly having the time of his life.

Show opener “Been Down This Road” and show closer “Hard Livin,” which featured Goessling sporting two saxophones simultaneously, are both found on the band’s newest release, which called their “most complete, coherent record” to date.  And, if the show at the Paradise is anything to go by, Amen Corner is a must-have for anyone looking to get into one of the best touring bands around.

-Dan Rys

WTBU Interview w/ Ben Kweller

On October 16, Ben Kweller played a particularly folksy set of old favorites and unreleased songs to a sold-out Paradise Rock Club. His current "Pre-Horses Club Tour" promotes his upcoming album, Changing Horses, set for an early 2009 release on ATO. A few days before the Paradise show, WTBU interviewed Kweller about the new record and new influences, his favorite singer/songwriters, what it means to be "distinctly Ben Kweller", and more. Download the interview here!

WTBU Event Next Monday! (November 3)

Next Monday, Mix 98.5's daytime on-air personality Erin O'Malley will speak to WTBU about working for a radio station, how to break into the industry, and more. The lecture/Q&A will take place at 9pm in COM101. It is free and open to all. Hope to see you there!

Friday, October 24, 2008

WTBU Logo Contest

In the spirit of this ludicris (yes, spelled like the rapper) election, BU Today and WTBU are giving YOU the chance to make your voice heard. You can now vote for the new face of WTBU, our logo.

We are changing it up, and you have the say in what we will look like from here on out.

You can vote for the new logo here, on BU Today's website.

Remember, every vote counts, so join in the fun and let us know how you want WTBU to look.

-- Phil DiMartino
WTBU General Manager

Review: Glactic @ Paradise Rock Club (10.15)

If that’s what goes on every night in the clubs of New Orleans, then punch my ticket, for I have found my earthly destination.
Wednesday night at the Paradise Rock Club, New Orleans funk-rockers Galactic blew the minds of everyone in the crowd with their driving, intense grooves and incredible musicianship.

The five-piece band, who toured last year with a number of rappers such as Chali 2na, Boots Riley and Mr. Lif in support of their latest album From The Corner To The Block, came out following the set of openers the Crown City Rockers with some serious instrumental funk.

The opening few songs were highlighted by “The Moil” from their 2003 album Ruckus. The song’s monster opening riff started a huge dance party in the crowd that lasted for the rest of the night.

Joining Galactic on stage after “The Moil” and staying for most of the set were trumpet player Shamarr Allen, winner of the Best Emerging Artist award in the Big Easy in 2008, and trombonist Corey Henry, “two of New Orleans’ finest musicians” according to Galactic saxophone player Ben Ellman.

That statement barely did justice to just how good the band was with the added musicians. Operating with a full horn section, Galactic took off and ran through a two-plus hour show that had too many highlights and mind-blowing moments to remember.

Emcee Raashan Ahmad of the Crown City Rockers joined the band on stage during one song, and guitarist Jeff Raines and keyboardist Rich Vogel were on fire throughout the night, controlling the jams and playing expertly off the horns while drummer Stanton Moore’s enthusiasm was infectious.

The band ended the night’s set with the title track “From The Corner To The Block,” with Allen rapping the first verse and Henry rapping the second and everyone joining in for the triumphant chorus, which saw Ellman, Allen and Henry dancing in sync with each other while playing the horn lines.

While the set closer was easily the greatest moment of the show, the encore produced perhaps the most remarkable moment. Ellman introduced the crowd to his cousin, who came out on stage and unleashed a blistering ten-minute saxophone solo that left the rest of the band clearly impressed.

Galactic’s Brass Tacks Tour with Allen and Henry was definitely one of the greatest and funkiest things I have ever seen. With talent like this coming out of New Orleans, Boston can only hope they come back soon.

-- Dan Rys

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Show Review: Yonder Mountain String Band @ Somerville Theatre

The grass was bluer on the Somerville side on Thursday night when Yonder Mountain String Band took the stage of the Somerville Theatre to entertain a sold-out crowd with their fast-paced and energetic bluegrass.

Comprised of Jeff Austin on mandolin, Adam Aljala on guitar, Dave Johnston on banjo and Ben Kaufmann on bass, the band began the first of their two sets at eight o’clock and didn’t stop playing until well after eleven, with Austin even telling the crowd “if they opened up the parking lot across the street, we’d play until 2 tonight.”

With Massachusetts-born Aljala’s parents in the crowd and a positive atmosphere emanating throughout the theater, Yonder opened the night with a series of quick songs that showcased each member’s individual abilities. “Keep On Going,” a song from the first volume of their five-part Mountain Tracks live album series, saw the band switch tempos and genres, from folk to reggae and back again, numerous times and had the entire audience on their feet dancing and singing along.

All four members shared singing duties, with each having at least one song on which they took lead vocals and everyone chipping in with harmonies.

The Somerville Theatre, with its 900 capacity crowd, had a welcoming and informal atmosphere, prompting Austin to encourage everyone to feel comfortable, commenting, “in a place as intimate as this, we’re all in this together.”

The band was able to form a close relationship with the audience, often pointing out individual members of the crowd (one person wearing a New York Stock Exchange shirt caused Austin to refer to him as an optimistic soul) and even taking some song requests, accepting a challenge to play “Troubled Mind” from their self-titled album as their encore.

The second set was significantly more adventurous than the first. Johnston took the microphone for the Bob Dylan song “It Takes A Lot To Laugh, It Takes A Train To Cry,” and the band worked their way through originals such as “Half Moon Rising” from their debut album Elevation as well as a series of covers. Towards the end, a twenty-minute extended jam came out on the other side as the rollicking set-closer “Peace Of Mind.”

Throughout the night, Yonder was continuously grateful and looked to be having a great time on stage. “The last time we played the Somerville Theater there were about nine people here over in the corner,” Austin told the crowd. “We thought you hated us back then, so it’s nice to see a balcony full of people this time around.”

“Next year we’ll come back and lock all the doors, serve pancakes and play for two nights, how about that.”

- Dan Rys

Show Review: All Time Low @ Roseland Ballroom in NYC

With the amount of tween girls packing New York’s Roseland Ballroom last Sunday, a man on the street would have thought the Jonas Brothers rolled into town. But this time it was different. These tweens came out for All Time Low’s "Compromising of Morality, Integrity, and Principles in Exchange for Money Tour" featuring The Maine, Mayday Parade, and Every Avenue.

Every Avenue took the stage first and simply put, they kicked ass. Every Avenue performed high-energy pop-punk tracks off of their latest release, Shh Just Go With It. With fans in the crowd dancing, fist pumping, and lip-syncing, these guys put themselves on the map as a band to be watched.

Directly following were Fearless Records label-mates, The Maine, who played mostly songs off of their recent album, Can’t Stop Won’t Stop. Although the band did an amazing job playing hits like “Everything I Ask For” and “Count ‘Em One, Two, Three”, the set might have been stronger if they played more songs off of their older EP, The Way We Talk.

Next to perform was arguably the most hardcore band of the night, Mayday. The band’s song choices were predictable, starting with “Three Cheers for Five Years,” off their EP, Tales Told by Dead Friends. After playing a couple of songs from their latest release, A Lesson in Romantics, the entire band went backstage except for the lead singer who acoustically played “Miserable at Best”. Surprisingly, the rest of the band came out for accompaniment halfway through the song, which is fully acoustic on the CD. After playing “When I Get Home, You’re So Dead, ” and “Jamie All Over,” (which are their two officially released singles) the band played fan-favorite “Jersey.” Although they seemed too hardcore for All Time Low fans, Mayday Parade kept concertgoers entertained the entire set.

With lights flashing all over the ballroom, All Time Low came out performing their latest single, “Poppin’ Champagne.” The band was especially proud of this tour because it was their first full headlining tour, meaning they had time to play more than just popular songs. The band's fifteen-song set included older favorites like “The Girl’s a Straight-Up Hustler,” “Shameless,” “Holly (Would You Turn Me On?),” and “Circles” from their lesser known release, The Party Scene. ATL pulled out every trick in the book to excite fans with strobe lights, confetti, streamers, a large All Time Low backdrop, and the classy bras hanging off guitarist Jack Barakat’s mic stand. Although the wait was unbearable, the concert was absolutely worth it and is a must-see performance.

The Compromising of Morality, Integrity, and Principles in Exchange for Money Tour rolls through the rest of the country until the end of November, including a stop at the Palladium in Worcester, MA on November 26.

--Adam Azahari

Monday, October 13, 2008

Dr. Dog & Delta Spirit @ Middle East Downstairs, 10/10

There is a certain type of show that stays with you for a good, long time...and the Americana rock trinity who took a sold-out Middle East Downstairs by storm on Friday night certainly delivered one of them.

It is not often that a first-opener does anything for you except give you a chance to grab another beer, go outside for a smoke, and/or hold your ears shut and scream in agony. Not so, however, with Hacienda, a San Antonio quartet who stayed true to their roots with a solidly talented 45-minute set of Beatles-infused soul rock. Songs like "Hear Me Crying" and "She's Got a Hold On Me" had the audience thoroughly converted; then, a strange thing happened: these scruffy Texas boys got the hipsters to dance. Indeed, a considerably large circle of plaided, skinny-jeaned kids in the center of the dance floor began moving, to the beat of the music, and apparently enjoying themselves. The set ended with a guest harmonica appearance by the fedora'd and well-received Scott McMicken (of Dr. Dog)--this show was to be henceforth fraught with collaboration, one of the most impressive qualities of the performances. It should go without saying that Hacienda went above and beyond the call of duty and demonstrated what opening bands should have had from the beginning: talent. Take note, fledglings.

Up next was the grungy blues-folk powerhouse, Delta Spirit. It's a miracle and a blessing how Matt Vasquez (lead vocals, guitar) keeps his larynx intact after so much screaming. The lyrics "If you're feelin' what I'm feelin', come on/All you soul-searchin' people, come on!" resonated throughout the club, with a couple hundred people screaming it back onto the stage. Delta Spirit seemed relatively indifferent to their adoring fans, smiling only once or twice if at all, but it's safe to say that the fans themselves could not have cared less. Yet again, hipsters (and bros alike!) danced, and the set ended with even MORE collaboration, with every member of Dr. Dog flooding the stage with drumsticks, maracas, and awesomeness.

Finally, after hours and hours of waiting, the headliners arrived onstage—and by no means was the waiting in vain. Dr. Dog, the charismatic indie-blues quintet birthed in Philadelphia, kicked off a power hour of punch-you-in-the-gut folk rock with the song “The Old Days” from their newest album, Fate. Following this was a whirlwind of old and new material, including songs like “Hang On,” “The Girl,” “100 Years,” and “The Beach.” And the encore…oh, the encore. While the crowd had been shouting for a number of songs throughout the set, no one song title was thrown out more than “Die Die Die,” which rumbled into existence as the band re-mounted the stage and every voice in the club began singing—or wailing—along. By the end, every member of both Hacienda and Delta Spirit had joined the band onstage, Vasquez complete with a coffee pot full of beer, in a full-blown cacophony of what can only be described as the very essence of thumping, rasping, good old American blues. As a fan put it numerous times, screaming over the crowd’s roar, holding his hands to the sides of his head in disbelief, “Oh my god! This! Is! Incredible! Best night of my life!”

To put it simply, listening to recordings of this band is not enough to appreciate the full talent that is the work of McMicken (lead guitar & vocals), Toby Leaman (bass & vocals), Zach Miller (keys & vocals), Juston Sens (drums & vocals), and Frank McElroy (rhythm guitar & vocals). With each song’s performance came even louder, more soulful laments than their albums could have communicated. There’s definitely something to be said for a band that makes great records and then manages to render the music even more spectacular by roughing it up completely. The grating harshness of Dr. Dog’s live set qualified the whole night as an unforgettable show, one that should not, under any circumstances, be missed when it comes to town again.

- Devon Maloney

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Tegan and Sara @ The Palladium in Worcester, 10/4

A packed, impassioned Palladium welcomed the beloved Tegan and Sara last Saturday night in Worcester. The twins lived up to the hype and then some with their live act, a three-pronged attack of technical effects, the girls' famed back-and-forth, and their vast collection of infectious hits.

Rockers Girl in a Coma were the first of two opening acts. The trio from San Antonio's peformance was not unlike a Texas hurricane leveling everything in its path; together they manifested the passion and energy punk rock was built on, headbanging and all. Lead singer Nina's raw delivery of every syllable was simply undeniable, even when her vocal style made understanding lyrics difficult. She followed each song with a fervent "gracias" and then shifted back into crazed, raging rocker mode for a poweful set.

Acoustic singer-songwriter Dallas Green of City and Colour came out next, second on the bill. He had many fans in the crowd and his pure, wholesome vocals filled the room. Still, his somewhat one-note performance registered some notches below Girl in a Coma's unpredictable thrill ride.

Loud, moody bass sounds played over the PA after City and Colour's set; the eerie atmospherics built anticipation up to new highs while the tech. men prepped for the headliners. Then, out of nowhere, the noise gave way to the hopelessly catchy classic, "You Can't Hurry Love" by The Supremes. It seemed fitting that hook-happy T&S would give a nod to the original queens of the chorus right before they walked onstage.

The girls and their band played through most of 2007's The Con along with many past favorites from 2004's So Jealous, plus other random treats (like a cover of "Umbrella"). Every song seemed to be an event in itself; each carried a unique vibe with the help of different lighting schemes and special effects. The girls showed their knack for spontaneous storytelling by leading into some songs with an explanation of its origins. Between their tangents and witty jabs at one another, we laughed as much as we cheered. Topics included their father, ninjas & throwing stars, and Sarah Palin.

The crowd played an influential role, singing along to almost every song. Tegan and Sara fans are the passionate, screaming fans you see in movies (there was a line snaking around the building an hour before doors opened). The Palladium seemed to explode with the kind of love and enthusiasm you might expect at a U2 or Madonna concert. Tegan and Sara reciprocated that love by playing a long, charged set and just being their kooky selves, which worked for everyone.

- Jessy Bartlett

Friday, October 3, 2008

Interview with The Acre

The Acre is an indie/folk rock band from Worcester, Massachusetts. Tonight, they will open for Drew Danbury at BU Central. Their manager and WTBU DJ, Zach Kohn, caught up with frontman Nick Murphey to tell us about the bands origins, sound, and influences.

How did the band form originally?
I met Sebastian in high school and we occasionally played music together with one of our other friends, freshmen and sophomore year. We lost touch when we both went to college, and there I started another band called Sidelined Season. I sang in Sidelined Season and was still working on my voice when I met Courtney who helped sing some high parts. Sidelined Season disbanded, but Courtney and I remained good friends. When I started writing music again, she was there to add a little more color. At the time I was very much into Damien Rice and the Frames, so I wanted to add a bowed string instrument. I remembered that Sebastian not only played bass, but also cello, so I asked him to sit in, and he was willing. Once we met Chris Anthony, who filled out our sound beautifully with the drums, we knew we were ready.

How did you decide on the cello sound, rather than going with a normal bass player?

Well I think it had a lot to do with the music I was listening to. Damien Rice is one of my favorite artists, and what people don’t realize about him is his live show is so much more intense than his album. I think I just liked how he did things; it adds color and texture that a bass just cannot. We still use bass on most songs, but it’s nice to have the option of using cello. I think at some point, well probably be doing both live.

You cite a really eclectic group of musicians and bands as your influences, from Wilco to the Arctic Monkeys. How do you think having such a large variety of influences helps with your sound?

I think being incredibly diverse as musicians as well as music lovers really enables us to do whatever we want. That may sound jocular, but it’s true. A lot of bands get pigeon holed into one sound, or they feel as if they can’t really stray from their original sound. With me at least, my taste is really always changing. We like to compare ourselves as the Joker, we have no rules, so we’re completely free to make any music we want with no boundaries. I was really hooked on Bon Iver a few months ago and now it’s changed over to Ryan Adams “Jacksonville City Nights.” One is very ambient and ghostly sounding; the other is pretty much a country album. I think the same can be said about everyone else in the band. I’ve been giving Chris a lot more “experimental” and ambient sounding music to listen to Radiohead’s Kid A and Sigur Ros as well as Explosions in the Sky. Bass has been turning me onto bands like Brand New and Kevin Devine.

You’re playing a show at BU Central on October 3 with Drew Danbury, do you think its going to be different from the shows The Acre usually plays?

It’s going to be bigger, that’s for sure. And Bass won’t be there for it so we’re having our good friend and wonderfully talented producer, Steve Rice, fill in the bass and cello parts on bass. But we’re going to approach it in the same manner as we do if we’re playing to 3 or 300. We’re going to have fun and leave our blood sweat and tears up there. We love to play out; personally speaking, its one of my favorite things in the entire world. Bur we’re really excited to put on a good show.

The Acre on myspace