Sunday, November 30, 2008


Tune in this Friday, 12/5, to Alphabet Soup (2-4pm EST) to hear our interview with SONDRE LERCHE, the Norwegian singer-songwriter responsible for the soundtrack of the movie Dan in Real Life, as well as a handful of his own records, before his show at the Paradise Rock Club on November 22. We talked about sharks, Burt Bacharach and come on and LISTEN IN!

You'll also be able to download the file at 4pm on Friday from Alphabet Soup's blog.


Don't forget to stop by WTBU's first-ever listening/viewing party TOMORROW NIGHT from 6-9pm in the COM Lounge! We're playing some great new music, along with the long-awaited Flaming Lips film, Christmas on Mars. Get your holiday season started with WTBU!

See you then!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Review: Pilfers Reunion Show @ The Middle East Downstairs, 11/22

Upon walking into The Middle East Downstairs venue in Cambridge last night (11/22/08), I look around the dark room lit by strings of Christmas lights, observing the merch tables pushing ska bands’ swag, watching a guy sporting a Toasters jacket saunter up to the bar, and I think to myself: I am home.

Pilfers, an NYC-based ska band formed in 1997, split up in 2001 after releasing only two albums. However, the band is making a return in 2008 by playing six reunion shows, starting in Philadelphia and making their way through Cambridge, Brooklyn, Asbury Park, Danbury, and Hartford. Tickets range from $15 to $20.

Sonic Boom Six, a female-fronted ska/punk/rap group from Manchester, UK, is opening for Pilfers on all the reunion show dates.

Having missed the first two bands – Boston Jolly Pirates and the Allstonians – I waited for the Murder Mile to take the stage. Based out of Boston, the Murder Mile is a 4-piece soul/punk/rock band. Although I’m usually not thrilled by non-ska bands’ sets at ska shows, these guys managed to get me to tap my feet and nod my head along with the melodies.

If Pilfers were looking for a high-energy band with an incredible stage presence and dance-able beats to get their crowd pumped, they could have done no better than to have Sonic Boom Six precede them. Laila, the spunky pink-haired singer wearing denim cut-off shorts and knee high socks, captured the audience’s attention by throwing her tiny body around the stage while belting out raps and choruses. The band opened with “Sounds of a Revolution,” a rap song with a ska beat about non-conformity and finding solidarity in music. Heavy on sing-along gang vocals and sound effects, SB6’s music is catchy yet original, a perfect precursor to Pilfers’ set.

I worked my way to the center of the crowd as soon as Pilfers took the stage. Former Toasters vocalist Coolie Ranx made sure to hop off the stage into the audience at least every other song, while I was literally astounded by the amount of talent trombonist Vinny Nobile, formerly of Bim Skala Bim, portrayed during their set. Pilfers played many crowd-pleasers, such as “Lay”, “Agua” and “Mr. Exploita.” They even had a new song to play – while it had a more relaxed, reggae beat than most of their previous ska songs, new Pilfers songs could perhaps mean new Pilfers records…? As a live set, the band could not get any tighter; every beat was perfectly on time and Vinny’s trombone solos were the epitome of polished horn lines. As nearly every person on the floor danced to Pilfers’ live songs, I was grateful that my $20 had not been wasted.

After attending the Pilfers show in Boston, I’m convinced that it will be well worth seeing them again on Friday in my hometown of Danbury, CT. Check out for show dates in a city near you this Thanksgiving break.

- Jackie Reiss

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving!

From all of us here at WTBU, HAPPY THANKSGIVING! Programming will resume at 6am on Monday, December 1. And now...some potatoes.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Review: Gregory & the Hawk / Nicole Atkins & the Sea @ TT the Bear's, 11/13

TT's booked quite the double-whammy two Thursdays ago with Gregory and the Hawk at the opener spot and Nicole Atkins at headliner to clear the bases, so to speak. Besides the fact that the two acts reside on opposite ends of the music spectrum,—GATH is to acoustic fantastical voyage as Nicole Atkins is to blowout Fourth of July bash—the bill also served as a prime example of what the music industry looks like today. Indie Label Duo, meet Major Label Diva (Mainstream Radio Airplay has never become aquainted with either.).

Gregory and the Hawk, the endearing Mike and Meredith, took the stage armed with just guitar and bass. They played a relatively short set of songs from their debut full-length album, the impressive Moenie and Kitchi. It was strange to hear the songs in a stripped down, live form; Meredith's vocals were true to their unusual, in-the-clouds character on the album, carrying favorites "Doubtful" and "Grey Weather." The surprise standout had to be "Stone Wall Stone Fence," in which Meredith seemed to channel a doll come to life coming to kill you in your sleep: "You've got a secret / But you won't share it..." GATH could not go wrong with so many strong tracks, but some kind of percussion could really add to their set (and allow them to play my favorite, "Voice Like a Bell"!).

Next came Salt & Samovar, rockers with Americana flair (and half of them part of Nicole Atkins' band, the Sea). They brought the house with their energetic folk gone wild, a nice lead-in to Nicole Atkins & the Sea's full-blown set.

The natural chemistry among Atkins and her band revealed itself from the get-go; you got the sense that this is what major label players look and sound like in the year 2008: tight, cool, natural and confident. And how satisfying it is to anticipate a big note and watch Atkins do it justice and then some with a knockout punch. Yes, a Nicole Atkins concert is a lot like fighting the computer on Easy with Roy Jones Jr. in Fight Night.

There were too many rad moments to count, but singles "Maybe Tonight" and heartbreakers' anthem "The Way It Is" stood out, along with sing-along anthem "Brooklyn's on Fire!," all off of 2007's Neptune City. Non-album cuts "Skywriters" and "Teen Creep" were favorites of mine as well - I'm a sucker for falsetto over a retro beat. We were sold on Atkins' big voice and theatrical arm waving easily enough; she made each song a celebration even when it wasn't ("If I were smart I'd never / Call you, call you ever again").

Not a bad night for ten bucks.

- Jessy Bartlett

This week's new adds

BELLE AND SEBASTIAN – The BBC Sessions. This release is very much what you would expect if you are a Belle and Sebastian fan. These performances are less produced than those on their albums.

LAST FRONT – Being Human. The brainchild of several science majors from Boston area colleges. These lyrics were written to appeal to the physicist in all of us.

LUKESTAR – Lake Toba. A collection of ambient melodic lines that somehow sound distinctly German.

THE RIVER RAID – The River Raid. The next in a long line of shouty dance-punk albums from the next in a long line of shouty dance-punk bands.

STEREOPHONICS – Decade in the Sun. Chances are you can find all of your favorite Stereophonics songs on this best of compilation.

--Keith Simpson

Sunday, November 23, 2008

WTBU Listening Party (Dec. 1, 6-9pm)

On Monday, December 1, from 6-9 pm, join WTBU (BU's student-run radio station) for a free listening party and film screening in the COM lounge. For the first half of the evening, we'll be listening to some new advanced releases of CDs that WTBU has received from labels, and some current rotation. (Let us know what upcoming albums you'd like to hear and we'll try to make it happen.) At 7:30, we will be screening the new Flaming Lips film "Christmas on Mars". (Brought to you by our friends over at Warner Music Group.)

This listening party is free and open to all. Feel free to stop by, get a sense of what kinds of music we play, ask our staff questions about WTBU, hang out, and see an awesome film for free.

Watch the trailer for "Christmas On Mars" here:

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Top Five Ska Bands You’ve Never Heard Of

OK, so let’s face it: ska fans nowadays gain their “street cred” by rattling off ska bands that anyone in the underground has heard of. Yeah, so you like Reel Big Fish? Saw Big D play last weekend? Sporting a Streetlight Manifesto shirt today? These bands are musically fantastic and certainly significant to the ska scene. However, these “big names” (…as big as a ska band can get, anyway) unfortunately overshadow some of the smaller, yet just as worthwhile, ska bands that make up today’s scene.

Bomb The Music Industry
Frontman Jeff Rosenstock (formerly of Arrogant Sons of Bitches) mixes ska with folk-punk and synthesizers, making for a completely unique – yet unwaveringly catchy – new genre. And here’s a completely new spin: BTMI’s music is offered completely free of charge via download on their website (…long before Radiohead thought of this idea, kiddies). Although BTMI’s lyrics are borderline depressing at times, Jeff has a knack for writing raw and relatable songs. And while Jeff’s scratchy voice takes a while getting used to, it just adds to the beautifully unrefined tone of the album as a whole. Each album has its own unique tone, but favorite songs range from post-apocalyptic “Side Projects are Never Successful” to happy-go-lucky “I Don’t Love You Anymore” to sing-along anthem “Happy Anterrabae Day!!!” Make sure to attend a BTMI show for the most fun you’ve had in all your ska-lovin’ years.
Album recommendation: Get Warmer

The Fad
This ska-core band from Long Island brings an energy that many ska bands simply miss: the double-sided coin of catchy, dance-able ska beats (like songs “Ska-Boom!” and “Bright Lights”) mixed with crazy-go-nuts hardcore (“Kill Punk Rock Stars”). Singer Jimmy Doyle has a voice no one can dislike – the perfect combination of sweet vocal skills slipping into energetic screaming. Make sure to attend a Fad show, as these guys bring a type of energy to the stage like no other. But beware: things can get a little out of control during mosh-heavy sing-alongs like “B2M”.
Album recommendation: Kill Punk Rock Stars

This Canadian ska band is unfortunately one of the least talked about in the States. Their music is some of the tightest I’ve heard in ages from a semi-local ska band; while there are generally no horns used, the guitarists and drummer have an uncanny ability to break the ska beat down. Singer Jeff Quesnel has a voice so smooth and easy, it’s hard not to start singing along upon first listening. Lyrics range from singing about animal rights (“A Little More of Chomsky”) to the revival of the ska scene (“Quarter to Seven”) to unwavering love (“Tattoo”).
Album recommendation: The Motions

Tri-State Conspiracy
Self-described as “murderous ska-swing-heavy metal,” Tri-State Conspiracy indeed crosses into all these genres, emerging with an original yet extremely polished sound. Don’t let singer Jeffrey Paris’s preference for old-school suits and retro microphones fool you: the band’s highly energetic stage presence and involvement with their audience make TSC one of the most enjoyable bands to see live. Based out of NYC, TSC has the attitude to prove it: lyrics range from plotting murder (“Murder Fantasy”) to expressing frustration with daily 9 to 5 life (“High Strung Mess”) to the maladies of war (“Frantic”). Definitely check this band out if you like to dance while shouting along to spunky lyrics set against ska/swing melodies.
Album recommendation: High Strung Mess

Mad Caddies
If you think that Reel Big Fish is still the best ska band to hit the 3rd wave, I highly recommend you listen to this California based ska band and reconsider. Singing lyrics reminiscent of RBF’s tongue-in-cheek humor (with less kitsch) and sporting what may be the tightest horns in North America, it’s nearly impossible to stay neutral to Mad Caddies. Singer Chuck Robertson has a gift that few ska bands singers have: a naturally talented voice! Mad Caddies sport excellent musicianship all around and seamlessly integrate poppy melodies into flawless ska beats. From impressively horn-heavy “Monkeys” to soft-sided “Drinking for Eleven” to quirky, yet strangely pleasing “Weird Beard,” the Mad Caddies are catchy enough to turn even the most elite indie fan into a ska lover.
Album recommendation: Just One More

- Jackie Reiss

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Tonight: Support ALL of Your Favorite BU Artists!

Tonight there are two great opportunities to check out BU's best musicians. The best part? If you want to get to both shows, you can!

From 8-11 PM, catch Base Trip Records artists The Throwbacks, Rapper Steph, and Allison Francis at the The Third Annual Safe Sex Party. (All three of these artists have been featured on WTBU this semester!) The show will be held at the GSU Metcalf Ballroom. It costs $7 at the door ($5 in advance), and all proceeds will be donated to the AIDS Action Committee. It's hosted by ZBT and the Student Health Ambassadors. Other acts playing include Two Hour Change, Gentlemen Hall, and Green Line Inbound.

Later in the night, Spitzer Space Telescope headlines at the Middle East Upstairs! The show starts at 9, but Spitzer will be headlining, meaning he will play around 11:30. Opening for Spitzer are Beat Awfuls, Mighty Tiny, and Forsythe. Last week, Spitzer Space Telescope was featured on "The BU Today Sessions". Check it out here.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Review: Jack's Mannequin @ the Paradise, 11/17

No one should feel guilty about listening to pop music, and nor should pop musicians be criticized for writing songs that appeal to a pre-teen crowd. Bands like Jack's Mannequin, Fun, and Treaty of Paris rock with familiar power riffs and melodic hooks that embed themselves in your ears for hours on end--for better or for worse. The material they put out may not be incredibly innovative, but these bands don't attempt to save the world.

Chicago's Treaty of Paris sang with the familiar voices of the post-emo era in their acoustic set at the Paradise Monday night. They play melodic-driven pop-punk in the usual sense of the genre, lamenting, "all I wanted was to be happy," again and again, as the 12-year-old girl accompanied by her mother next to me sang along.

Fun is the Nate Ruess's (of the Format) new band, formed with Andrew Dost (Anathallo), Jack Antonoff (Steel Train), and guests. The band has released only one song, "Benson Hedges," but that didn't stop Fun from playing a short but sensational acoustic set, complete with keyboard, xylophone, and electric violin. Although Nate Ruess's music is generally classified as standard pop, he is a musical genius. His intricate songs resemble symphonies full of astounding Queen-esque harmonies, creative musical arrangements, and a flawless sense of rhythm and rhyme.

Fun's songs are appropriately playful and upbeat, straying from Nate's last bitter work of art with the Format, Dog Problems. "At least I'm not as sad as I used to be," he sings, masterfully entertaining the young crowd and prompting round after round of semi-rhythmic clapping. Fun's first release will be available this February.

Minutes before Jack's Mannequin took the stage, the screaming had begun, evoking nostalgia for my N*Sync days. The volume increased exponentially when Andrew McMahon (formerly of Something Corporate) took the stage with vigor. McMahon slammed his piano with sincerity, full of energy to perform his irresistible pop-rock songs for an enthusiastic crowd. He writes from the viewpoint of a struggling idealist (e.g. every angsty teenager in America) so convincingly that he is able to deliver the spoken interlude of "I'm Ready" with earnest: "My life has become a boring pop song, and everyone's singing along."

If nothing else, Jack's Mannequin is endearing and personable all around, as showcased by McMahon's cheery disposition even after greeting fans outside for 45 minutes in the freezing cold after the show. How do I know? I will neither confirm nor deny fighting off the shivers to receive a hug from a man who wrote songs I'll forever associate with my adolescence. Appreciation for this music is impossible to maintain without a sense of humility. These musicians aren't too proud to cross into falsetto, and neither should you be too proud to let down your pride to sing along - at least for a night.

--Allison Francis

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Review: The Academy Is... @ The Roxy, 11/11

Last Wednesday night, “Bill and Trav’s Bogus Journey” tour made a stop at The Roxy for a memorable concert. The show featured up-and-comers Hey Monday and Carolina Liar as openers, with We the Kings and The Academy Is… as headliners.

Hey Monday welcomed concert-goers with their set, which started as fans entered the venue and was cut short due to doors opening later than expected. The band played three tracks off their debut release Hold On Tight and truly made a lasting impression while playing live. Lead singer Cassadee Pope’s liveliness gave the set an extra boost to fans that haven’t become familiar with the band yet.

Swedish band Carolina Liar immediately followed. Although much of the audience seemed unresponsive throughout the set, the band seemed submersed in their music. A band completely into their own music must receive some recognition and they seemed happy to play the venue. I give more respect to the band after talking with the lead singer (and only non-Swede), Chad Wolf, after the show. He was completely gracious and excited when he found out that Carolina Liar is on rotation at WTBU.

The anticipation built as the time came for We the Kings to play. Their set met expectations, with the band delivering an upbeat and noteworthy performance. Noteworthy performances include their cover of Gorillaz’s “Feel Good Inc.” and Cassadee of Hey Monday coming on stage to close their set by singing their hit song, “Check Yes, Juliet,” with the band. Although the band was great, they brought few variations to their set from the two times I’ve seen them play before. Hopefully the band’s soon-to-be released EP will help their live performance improve their already-catchy tunes.

Lastly, The Academy Is… closed the night with an unforgettable performance. The band varied the set with tracks from all three of their albums, giving fans ample memories from the night. Lead singer William Beckett’s absolute animation while performing brought the set to a whole new level, proving why they were the headliners of the tour. The band didn’t need any fancy stage gimmicks to excite fans; their music and pure stage presence excited them enough. They simply owned the stage and thrilled fans with their live music.

Carolina Liar’s album Coming to Terms is currently on rotation at WTBU.

-Adam Azahari

Review: The Decemberists @ Electric Factory in Philadelphia

The night after their November 6 date at Orpheum Theatre in Boston, The Decemberists traveled down the East coast to Pennsylvania, where they took the stage at the Electric Factory in Philadelphia.

Opening for the Decemberists on this tour were fellow Portland band Loch Lamond. Their chamber-music rock sounds a bit like Sigur Ros, only I could sort of understand what they were saying. Loch Lamond’s eerie tones incorporate mandolin, violin, bass clarinet, and drums, while singer Ritchie Young’s vocals range from high, floating sounds to full, belting, rocking thunder.

The soporific music left the crowd super mellow for the Decemberists, so it took a while to really get into their set. The set began with creepy red lighting and “Shanty for Arethusa”, which made me a little uncertain about the rest of the night, as this was not the jaunty Decemberists that I know and love. But soon enough singer Colin Meloy began talking to the crowd, making inappropriate-yet-hilarious jokes.

Before long, Meloy had the crowd cheering for Obama. According to Meloy, since November 4th, the grass is a little greener, the streets are a little cleaner, and “the air is more… quilty?” which made the crowd livelier before launching into a riotous “July July!” In the spirit of political activism, The Decemberists had “Valerie Plame” next in their set list.

Next, the band played a set of three mellow, beautiful pieces: “The Engine Driver,” “On The Bus Mall,” and “The Island,” relaxing the crowd--a perfect set up for the super-charged “Perfect Crime #2”, which was my favorite song of the entire show. Shortly into the song, Meloy started marching in place. Instrumentalist Chris Funk, accordionist and keyboardist Jenny Conlee, and bassist Nate Query quickly followed suit, prompting Colin to lead the entire audience in a brisk knees-up jog in-place. After double-timing and laughing the whole way through, Colin said “and now to the floor” and dropped. He gestured and said “Down! Seriously, sit down. It’s just a floor!” The entire crowd sat, along with the rest of the band. Chris Funk added in that, “everyone who was standing voted for Mccain,” which got all the naysayers in the back to plant their tushes on the ground as well.

Afterwards, we all jumped up and chanted along, “the perfect, perfect, perfect, perfect, perfect, perfect crime” and watched incredulously as Colin Meloy tied his microphone around himself and climbed up onto the balcony from the stage and hung on to the railing for dear life as he sang the rest of the song. The crowd went completely wild when he was up there, and doubled over with laughter when he couldn’t find a way to get back down. (Eventually he hoisted himself over the railing and into the crowd, making his way down to the stage from the bar amidst thunderous applause from everyone in the house, and amusement from his band mates.)

The rest of the night was a blur of ecstasy, including “Oh, Valencia”, “Meat is Murder”, “Cutting of the Fold”, and “Chimbly Sweep”, which was introduced by saying that, in a secret interview right before Obama gave his speech on November 4th, he answered a question with that song. The Obama reference was still strong in the end, when Colin led the crowd in cheers of “yes we can!!” and “yes we did!!” The set ended with 16 Military Wives, before the encore: “Raincoat Song” (an acoustic new song) and “Sons & Daughters” (which Loch Lamond came back on stage for). The concert ended with a general feeling of warm fuzziness, and a wonderful emotion (which is usually forgone for the jazzed rush that is felt at the end of concerts) was present in everyone: hope.

The concert can be streamed online through NPR at

--Tara Jayakar

Friday, November 14, 2008

TODAY on Alphabet Soup!

Today at 3 PM on Alphabet Soup: Devon's interview with OF MONTREAL drummer Ahmed Gallab! Tune in to hear them discuss feather boas; Athens, Georgia; and lots more.

Alphabet Soup starts at 2. The interview starts at 3. Be there!

Read more about Alphabet Soup at

Monday, November 10, 2008

This Thursday: Gregory and the Hawk in studio @ WTBU!

Attention Gregory and the Hawk fans! This Thursday at 4pm, the band is going to stop by WTBU before their show at T.T. the Bear's in Cambridge! Tune into WTBU to hear an exclusive 4-song in-studio performance and interview. (We'll air it all again at 8pm.)

In the Boston area and want to join us? Email with your name and contact information for a chance to win one of five spots in the studio!

Uno's Fundraiser Tomorrow

WTBU Radio is hosting a fundraiser at UNO Chicago Grill in Kenmore Square all day long on Veteran's Day, Tuesday, November 11th. Bring along the WTBU sheet and a portion of your bill will go towards supporting the student radio station here at BU. We will also be having contests and raffles in conjunction with the event throughout the day. Just make sure to print out the voucher, seen below, and present when you get your bill. It's even good for take-out orders!

See You There!!!

-Phil DiMartino
General Manager

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Album Review: Land of Talk, Some Are Lakes

Montreal's Land of Talk achieves a kind of musical suspension of disbelief with their full-length debut, Some Are Lakes. From in-your-face start, "Yuppy Flu," to the heartfelt, "Troubled" finish, it's easy to lose yourself in this curious ten-song collection that lives up to the band's name; Some Are Lakes' origins lie in a land far away from here.

Though they make it look easy, LoT paces each song with expert precision. Like a poet utilizes each syllable, they take care that each riff, phrase and break resonates with purpose. On "The Man Who Breaks Things (Dark Shuffle)," things are breaking at every deafening drumbeat and cymbal crash. In the same vain, a hook has never embodied somber resignation so much as it does on the title track. With a chord progression that savors of disappointment, lead singer Liz Powell wearily resolves, "And I'll love you like I love you / Then I'll die." If Powell is the narrator, the music tells the other half of the story, complimenting her at every unpredictable twist.

The upbeat, pleading "Young Bridge" picks up where EP Applause Cheer Boo Hiss's "Speak to Me Bones" left off. However, where Powell's frustration was voiced with volume and noise on the EP, it's translated into a calmer, less rushed animal here. Still, the passion and urgency has not been lost. In fact, it may be more apparent than ever, especially on "Give Me Back My Heart Attack" where raging guitars are preceded with a dangerous, "But sleeping out of key / Only f*cks the waking world!"

The distorted guitars and far-off vocals echo a certain other Canadian troop of art rockers, which can only be a compliment (LoT is currently opening for Broken Social Scene). The two bands share a dreamy yet passionate, pressing sound that speaks to the very souls of us; each song is life or death! Literally, the topic of death seems to be a recurring theme ("Death by Fire," anyone?) only matched by the hopeful idealism behind such lines as, "Didn't I tell you there was no such thing as a bad bad day? / And baby, even if there was, I won't believe it anyway."

The band's maturation is most evident on the album's closer, "Troubled," an intimate acoustic number. Powell's voice was born for this; her vulnerable vocals devastate, half sung in French over a haunting instrumental backdrop. The song slowly builds until it goes out like a lone flame in the dark, and Powell seems to wince at each painful word: "Troubled heart folded / And doubled right over...."

Some Are Lakes plays like the most precious secrets being whispered in your ear; listen closely and you might make some profound discoveries. It may be a bit of a downer at times, but such is the nature of the tragedy and wonder of truth in a song.

- Jessy Bartlett

Monday, November 3, 2008

One Last Friendly Reminder From WTBU Election Talk

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WTBU's High Fidelity Featured in the Globe!

A feature article in today's Boston Globe Sunday Magazine, titled "Cool College Radio Shows", included a profile of WTBU's High Fidelity. Congrats to DJs Peisin, Garrett, Jack, and Zach! Here's some of what the Globe had to say:

There's a sort of Zen state that occurs when you play the right Jay-Z and Bob Dylan songs back to back, and the show's four DJs pick well over and over, from all across the genre map. Inspired by the film of the same name, High Fidelity includes a weekly top-five list that's addictive -- its "Top Five Solo Albums" easily prompts your own "Top Five Lesbian Guitarists."

Read the whole story here: