Thursday, February 26, 2009

WTBU Interviews: John McCauley of Deer Tick

Photos By Nina Mashurova

The Rhode Island/Brooklyn based band Deer Tick opened up for Jason Isbell at T.T. the Bears in Cambridge on Tuesday night. Frontman John McCauley sat down with us before going on stage to talk about where the band’s name came from, feelings about covering songs and their upcoming trip to Austin for the South by Southwest Music festival. If you’re looking for some good old school rock and roll with a country twang, Deer Tick is for you. Keep an eye out for their show in Allston this April.

You guys came up with your name before you had a band, is there a story behind the name Deer Tick?

There’s not that much of a story. The first time I ever got bit by a deer tick I thought of it and I just thought it sounded cool. You know, kinda gross, bad ass.

We heard your cover of “Beautiful Girls” by Sean Kingston, it’s pretty funny. I think it sounds better when you sing it. Where did you get the idea to record that?

We were on tour before we did it and Dennis, our drummer, had it on his iPod and we would just listen to it all the time. We thought it would be funny if we covered it but it never really materialized.

Do you ever play it at shows?

We got asked to play it for this music website called because they were doing their second annual fantasy covers where they have their favorite bands of the year play their favorite songs of the year. It seemed perfect at the time but now I kind of regret it because it’s almost become a nightly thing that people ask us to play it.

Well we promise we won’t ask you to play it tonight.

Thank you.

You also did a pretty awesome cover of Paul Simon’s “Still Crazy After All These Years.”

Yeah, I just kind of got pretty obsessed with that song, especially the piano part and decided to try to record it for fun.

You guys were at SXSW last year. How did that go?

It was crazy. We did 9 shows in 4 days.

Was it a bunch of different venues all around Austin?

Oh yeah. All day it was just back and forth.

Are you going back this year? Did you have fun playing there last year despite the schedule?

Yeah we’re going back there this March. Our schedule is not going to be as hectic because I am not up for that again. But it was tons of fun, definitely. On the way back it was just complete hell because we were all so tired, but it was worth it.

Deer Tick has toured with some pretty big names like Jenny Lewis and the Felice Brothers. Did you enjoy that?

Well, we only did about three shows with Jenny Lewis. We opened for her in Wilmington, Delaware and Connecticut but we were on tour with the Felice Brothers. Playing with both those bands was tons of fun they are great people.

It seems like electronic influences are infiltrating every alternative band out there right now, but Deer Tick has kept a pretty steady country, folk-y sound.

I never really liked electronic or house music, so it’s been pretty easy to stay away from that sound. We are becoming more and more of a rock ‘n’ roll band. I think our recorded music doesn’t really give a good sample of what we actually sound like, because War Elephant was just me recording it on my own. Now with the band the sound has really filled out a lot more.

When is your next CD coming out?

It comes out in June. We don’t have an exact release date figured out yet but yep. June.

Are you excited?

Oh yeah. It will finally give people a chance to hear what the band sounds like.

Thanks John for taking some time before the show to talk to us!

-Emma Dessau and Nina Mashurova of Nick at Night, Emma in the Evening

WTBU Interviews: Ferraby Lionheart

Photos by Nina Mashurova

Ferraby Lionheart started off a sold out show at T.T. the Bears in Cambridge this Tuesday. The folk/indie musician made time to talk to us in his busy day after traveling from New York that morning to play a quick set before going right back down the coast. Ferraby has released two records: In 2006 he came out with a self-titled EP and in 2007 he followed up it with his first full length album Catch the Brass Ring. Ferraby's whimsical name, warm personality, and Nashville roots contribute to a sound that's as soft and sweet as it is genuine.

How was your trip up from New York today?

It was pretty easy. We had to leave at about eight in the morning so that wasn’t too fun but we got here all right. We’d been in New York a while playing this place called Pianos.

You had a residency there for the past month, right? How did that go?

It went really well. There are a lot places in the city that are fun to play, but it was nice coming to the same place for a while. You get a rhythm going. I’m also sort of getting a new band into shape so it was cool to have somewhere to get together.

Your music has changed a little from your earlier songs like “The Ballad of Gus and Sam” on your EP which had more of a rock and roll sound to the more recent single “Dear Corinne.” Do you feel like your style has evolved?

I think a little bit. I’ve been growing. It’s hard to say if I’ve been more into folk or ballads. I couldn’t say that there won’t be a song on my new record that sounds like “Gus and Sam.” For me its more like a less specific change, maybe its more about lyrics and the combination of instruments that I use to record.

What instruments do you like to play the most?

When I record I play mostly guitar, sometimes percussion, sometimes the bass. Sometimes just knick knacks I find around the house. I think I like the piano the most.

Clearly you are a man of many talents. You first started out with a band. What made you decide to go solo? Do you enjoy performing without a band more?

I decided to go solo because it made it easier to change up what I wanted to sound like. When you’re in a band you are confined to a format because the other members may be limited in their function or skills.

Your name is pretty awesome. Where did it come from? Is it your real name?

Ferraby is my real name. Lionheart is catchy. I think it’s good for show biz, most people like the way it sounds. I guess some say it’s heavy handed or something. They like it here but they make fun of it in Europe sometimes. I got a write up when we put our record out in the UK that was complimentary, but it started out with “Despite the name...”

How did growing up in Nashville influence you? Who would you say your biggest influences are?

I like being from Nashville, mostly because I like the sound of it. My influences change up depending on what I’m up to at the time. I like Paul Simon a lot, he’s definitely one of my heros. He’s really prolific. I like stuff from his whole career.

What are you listening to now?

My friend recently got me into Beach House. I also like to listen to jazz a lot because I get sick of pop songs sometimes. Everything starts to sound the same.

When you’re writing songs, do you find that you write music or lyrics first? Does one influence the other or does it come to you at the same time?

I typically write music first. I’ve dabbled with the other order but what works for me best is writing music first. Everyone in a while it comes at the same time.

We heard Jon Brion had you come up on stage and play a song with him in LA a couple years ago. How was that? Are you a big fan?

I think it’s so weird when younger people know who he is! I guess most people know him from the stuff he produces like the “I Heart Huckabees” soundtrack or “Eternal Sunshine.” Going on stage with him was really exciting. I was very nervous. I was a fan of his before I moved to LA because of stuff he produced like Rufus and Fiona and the soundtrack to “Magnolia.” For 6 or 8 years he was playing a Hollywood show in West Hollywood at a place called “Largo” and I was working at a pizza place right next to it. One of my coworkers was putting on a benefit that we were both supposed to play at and she gave him my CD and he liked it enough to know one of the songs. I was at his show on a Friday night and he took me up on stage.

How long have you been touring?

A couple years. I toured a little with my last band but I have been more now.

How was sharing a stage with The Walkmen?

The Walkmen was my first tour after the CMJ festival in New York two years ago. My agent called me and asked if I ever played with a horn player, because if I did, he thought he might be able to get me on tour with them. I actually had never played with a horn player before, but they were one of my favorite bands at the time so I told him I could definitely manage to find one.

And you also did a couple shows with Langhorne Slim?

Playing with Langhorne Slim worked out really well. Our crowds overlap nicely. He’s a little more rough and tumble but there was a great balance. I was only on a short leg of his tour but when it was over we wished it had been longer.

Do you have a favorite venue or city to play in?

The other night we played at the Music Hall of Williamsburg. The crowd was great. It really stuck out. The Aladdin theater in Portland, Oregon is great. The Pabst in Milwaukee is also pretty cool. I toured all the UK in April and went to 16 cities. Glasgow was really great. The people there love music and folk musicians so much.

Have a great time playing in Cambridge tonight! Thanks for talking to us!

-Emma Dessau and Nina Mashurova, of Nick at Night, Emma in the Evening

Review: Thievery Corporation, 2/25 @ HOB

I don’t even know how to begin to recount my experience last night (February 25) at the Thievery Corporation show at Boston’s House of Blues. Thievery Corporation has been one of my favorite bands since I caught a 30-minute glimpse of them at a music festival a few years ago. The full-bodied, worldly sound that founders Rob Garza and Eric Hilton get from their rotating cast of musicians and singers got me hooked from the first song I heard. My goal since then has been to see the band play live, which I thought would be difficult to accomplish because they don’t go on tour often (they only have eight dates in the US scheduled so far). When I noticed that Thievery Corporation was coming to Boston, I jumped at the opportunity to catch the band in action and check out Boston’s new venue. I knew they would put on a good show but I was not prepared for their ass-kicking, adrenaline boosting, action packed set. Watching Thievery Corporation is like creating a really cool collage: there are so many interchangeable components—horn players, percussionists, singers, rappers, etc.—that create one larger picture. No matter how you fit the pieces together, they still reproduce powerful political statements mixed with incredible dance beats.
There was a general feeling of excitement well before the band appeared; the House of Blues opened less than a week ago, and the brand-new venue contributed to the anticipation. In fact, Thievery Corporation was only the fourth band ever to take the stage. The bouncers were all friendly and seemed excited, not bitter, to be working. And the security was not rude like often they are at Boston venues (*cough* Bill’s Bar *cough*). In the bathroom, they had beauty products, candy and an attendant. I couldn’t believe that during the current economic turmoil they would have such nice amenities.
After checking out the bathroom, I walked out into the huge concert space. The House of Blues was packed and I could feel the crowd stirring as they anxiously awaited Thievery Corporation. I was a little disappointed that they went on almost an hour and a half after the tickets said. However, once they began to play “Sound the Alarm,” the first song off their new album, Radio Retaliation, my spirits immediately lifted. The sound quality at the House of Blues is amazing. All of the instruments sounded crisp and clear; there was no distortion. No matter where you were in the crowd it felt like you were standing in the front row.
As I danced my way backstage I ran into a barefoot bassist who was jumping from foot to foot, nervous to go on stage. I couldn’t believe that someone who has probably played thousands of shows in his life was anxious about playing the House of Blues. As he made his way past me and onto the stage, the band began to play “Mandala,” the second song off Radio Retaliation. I was captivated by the sitar introduction and drawn in even more when the brass instruments filled out the melody. Then, Thievery Corporation brought out an amazing female vocalist to sing hit “Lebanese Blond”—a song many recognized from The Garden State Soundtrack. Her voice sounded so pure and resolute. The crowd, myself included, went absolutely wild. I didn’t remember dancing to Thievery like this the last time I saw them, although that was a brief encounter.
Other notable songs were “Le Femme Parallel” and “Sweet Tides,” both featuring vocalist Lou Lou. These are my favorite tracks from the Radio Retaliation album, so I was super psyched to see them live. Her French singing is sensual and soothing—if only I could've understood what she was saying. Another song that stood out was “The Heart’s a Lonely Hunter.” I love its catchy drum beat and chorus: “Welcome to my Spaceship/ You’re beautiful forever/ She’s right here where you left her/ And the heart’s a lonely hunter.” The band was grooving along with the audience. During “Coming from the Top,” the horns section got to show off their skills simultaneously as dancers awed the crowd. The band let front row fans go on stage and rock out to the beat. The dancing continued until the very last note of “Marching the Hate Machines into the Sun,” when the show ended.
I had finally fulfilled my long-time objective: I saw a full Thievery Corporation set. In addition, I got a chance to meet the band and discover that they are real people underneath this ethereal persona. While their set list choices were predictable, which was to be expected, as this is their Radio Retaliation tour, I really enjoyed the show. It showed off the skills of each member of the band, as well as their ability to sound as a unit. As for the House of Blues, it seems likely that this classy venue that won't hesitate to make its way to the top.

-Lana Tkachenko

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

WTBU Interviews: Jon Gutwillig of The Disco Biscuits

WTBU DJ Lana Tkachenko (Don't Panic!, Mondays 12-2pm) recently had the pleasure of chatting with Jon Gutwillig, founder/guitarist of the Wikipedia-defined "trance fusion jam band" from Philadelphia, The Disco Biscuits. Click here to hear the interview!

WTBU Interviews: Jones Street Station!

WTBU DJ Lana Tkachenko (Don't Panic!, Mondays 12-2pm) sat down today with Jones Street Station, the Brooklyn band opening tonight for Ben Kweller at the Somerville Theatre. Click here to hear their phone interview! In addition, a transcript of the conversation will be up soon. Stay tuned!

Monday, February 23, 2009

New in rotation this week: WAR CHILD compilation, Ben Kweller, Neko Case, The Vines, Ida Maria, ++++


WAR CHILD presents: "HEROES" - An Album To Benefit Children Affected By The War. Features
Beck covering Bob Dylan, Yeah Yeah Yeahs covering the Ramones, TV On the
Radio covering David Bowie's "Heroes", plus The Hold Steady, Hot Chip, Peaches, Scissor Sisters, Franz Ferdinand, and LOTS MORE.

Ben Kweller ‐ Changing Horses ‐ Ben embraces his country roots that have been slowly been building up throughout his previous albums. Quite a change from his previous records, but not too rootsy that his current fans will be scared away. This is perhaps Ben Kweller's most honest/raw work yet. Recommended for fans of lyric‐driven folk ballads and twangy Americana.

Also added: Neko Case ‐ Middle Cyclone, The Vines‐ Melodia, & Ida Maria ‐ s/t.

the music dept.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

WTBU @ FitRec Tomorrow!

Come on down to FitRec tomorrow, Monday 2/23, from 5-7pm, to celebrate National Fitness and Recreation Day with WTBU! We'll be DJing and giving away some noncredit classes over the air any time between 5-6pm, so if you can't make it down to the ol' gym, be sure to tune in to The Fleshy Fresh with Joey Gerber for a chance to win those classes!

For more information, click here to visit FitRec's official events page!

Hope we see you there!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Metric and St. Vincent - New Albums This Spring

There are a few bands I keep a particularly close eye on. Every music fan has at least one of these—that special artist you happen upon by accident... they seem to find you. Because you are fated to meet! Because their songs tell the stories of your life one way or another, and they do it with panache.

Well, such is the case for Emily Haines and Metric for me. I am just overjoyed to report that one the most anticipated records of the year, Metric's Fantasies, will be released on April 14, 2009. You can find more information and letters from Emily on their official site,

In addition to what has already been unveiled about the new album, IFC in Canada recently covered Metric in their documentary series, The Rawside of... [Metric]. Some gracious souls have posted the program in its entirety. Between the cool production values, interviews, behind the scenes look and the fabulous Emily Haines, The Rawside of... Metric is a must-see. You can start at Part 1 here.

And if all of that isn't enough to get you jumping about with glee, the ever so magical St. Vincent has announced the release of her sophomore album, Actor, on her website, Actor will be released on May 5th via 4AD. She will also be playing at SXSW, Bonnaroo and Sasquatch! Festival with "a full itinerary to be announced soon."

Best spring ever? Quite possibly. Get ready for two super records and try to keep your head from exploding!

- Jessy Bartlett

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Tonight, tonight, tonight!

Don't forget to come down to GREAT SCOTT in Allston tonight to see THE TOOTHACHES, PRETTY & NICE, AND MATH THE BAND! Doors at 9pm, $8, & it's 18+ so everyone's invited!

Come down & rock out!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

In-Studio Performance: MIGHTY TINY on HOT BOX RADIO

Tune in to HOT BOX RADIO this Thursday night, 12am-2am (so technically Friday morning), with on-air guests, the Allston-based band Mighty Tiny! You can check out their music at their MySpace beforehand, if you just can't stand surprises.

Review: Fujiya & Miyagi, 2/15 @ The Paradise

Who are Fujiya & Miyagi? As I looked around The Paradise Rock Club on February 15, I couldn’t place the bands demographic. Are they your typical hipster band from the UK, who just happened to get a break in the US? Judging from the amount of flannel wearing, thick framed 20 somethings they could be. Do they cater to the cultured, music elite where only those who are “in the know” are in the know? Judging from the amount of intellectual-looking, IPA drinking 26-year-olds they could be. As the band began playing, however, I discovered something truly amazing: Fujiya & Miyaji transcends all these stereotypes. Seeing them is truly a unique music experience.

Fujiya & Miyaji launched into their electric dance party with “Ankle Injuries,” off their 2006 album, Transparent Things. The song begins with singer/guitarist David Best whispering “Fujiya, Miyagi” 26 times over Matt Hainsby’s funky bass line. Before I made a conscious effort to dance I noticed that my head had already begun to bob to the beat. Best’s voice is one part dreamy, one part hypnotic. His classic “Oh, Oh”s, that sound almost like grunts, litter popular songs such as “Photocopier” and “In One Ear & Out the Other,” both from Transparent Things.

The ensemble, consisting of Best, Hainsby, Steve Lewsis (synths, beats and programming), and new member Lee Adams (drums), came together to deliver a low key yet dazzling performance. I often found myself intrigued by the experimental noises I heard emerging from the stage. Toward the end of “Kickerbocker,” off their most recent album, Lightbulbs, the band comes together to deliver an instrumental exploration that would get even the lay listener to shake it. Best and Lewis’s solo collaboration at the end of the song demonstrates Fujiya & Miyaji’s ability to make something out of nothing: they take traditional music and make it sound innovative.

Self-described as being influenced by 70’s German experimental bands and early-90’s electronic music, Fujiya & Miyaji have a ground-breaking sound that makes them stand out in a sea of UK bands trying to make it in the US. Adding Adams as a drummer definitely beefed up their sound, giving the band more of a dance-y feel. Case in point, the song “Collarbone” from Transparent Things sounds great on the studio album, but with the addition of Adams drumming the song sounds even better on stage. The unsung hero of the band (sorry for the pun), however, turns out to be Hainby, whose bass beats literally hold the band together. The bass lines unite the flow of the other instruments. The vibe between the band members makes it seem like the guys are having just as much fun playing as I am dancing.

With Fujiya & Miyagi, I never wanted the music to end. Their meager hour-long set made my heart ache a little when the show was over. However, I will admit that one reason that the set was so good was because they played only their best tracks. Though the band doesn’t need theatrics, I craved to continue being mesmerized by the videos of dice forming the band’s name and images of a losing Pacman game sharing the back wall with Adams. Fujiya & Miyagi has concocted a formula for success and their sound is compatible with all music tastes. I honestly believe that everyone can find at least one song they like and I look forward to the next time I get to boogie to their beats.

Check out their MySpace to see more tour dates or just to give them a listen.

-Lana Tkachenko

Monday, February 16, 2009

WTBU Interviews: The Friday Night Boys

WTBU DJ Adam Azahari (Wow, that's Legit! Sundays 8-10am) sat down with The Friday Night Boys before their show at Harper's Ferry on Feb 11. Watch the interview!

for more, visit the Wow, That's Legit! blog.

WTBU Interviews: Drummer Ollie of Los Campesinos!

I got to sit down with Ollie, the drummer from Los Campesinos! They played at the Paradise on Friday night. Despite the noise from the sound check, we still managed to have a very fun conversation about fried Twinkies, Obama haters, and how the band is able to create such a fun, unique sound.

You were here this past summer in May. Welcome back to Boston! And congrats on your new record “We Are Beautiful, We Are Doomed”, I really like it. But I wanted to start talking about the band itself. How exactly did you guys form. I believe you were originally four members, and then became seven, so I was just curious how that came about.

We sort of started playing and people gradually joined in a couple of months. We weren’t really anything until there was about five of us. And then stuff really started going and then Harriet and Alex were the last two people to join. We formed in about four months or so.

Having seven members in one band is a very interesting dynamic. So, is it difficult to write songs? Does someone delegate tasks or anything like that? I know when I’m working with six other people it can be chaotic.

Well Tom writes all the music and Gareth writes the lyrics and someone comes out with all the violin lines so it’s sort of it’s quite an easy process.

Anyway, another thing is that your two albums were released within 8 months of each other. That’s incredible! Especially because they are full albums. I just wanted to know if you feel like you are on some kind of creative overload or is it just more of an organic process?

Tom’s always seems to be coming up with lots of ideas and sort of he’s just really good at writing stuff. The second album record wasn’t supposed to be an album, it was supposed to be an EP but it ended up being 10 tracks long. We don’t really regard it as an album just because we didn’t go into it thinking we would record an album but it’s 10 tracks, a half an hour long. It’s just too long to be an EP.

What other bands or experiences do you look to for inspiration? And also, are there bands that you listen to that people wouldn’t expect in terms of the music that you create?

I’d say that the bands that influence us the most would be bands like Pavement, Deer Hoof, and Grandaddy. It’s a real mixture of stuff and others that come across sometimes are really just other little bands.

What do you play in your tour vans?

Basically we just listen to our music. We are quite anti-social. Everyone just listens to their iPods and listens to whatever they’ve got.

No sing-alongs?

Haha, no.

I have kind of a strange questions. My freshman year of college, I heard this Englishman on the T a couple of years ago. His American friend asked him how he was enjoying the U.S. and he replied "well, I've yet to try a Twinkie. I've heard their a bit like Ding-Dongs though…is that true?" Have you guys tried Twinkies? Because they are definitely not like Ding-Dongs.

What are Ding-Dongs?

It’s like a chocolate cupcake with white processed frosting on the inside. Very tasty. Have you tried anything really strange here in the states that you don’t have in the UK?

Yeah. We’ve tried Twinkie’s I have to admit I didn’t really like it.

Wait until you try a fried Twinkie.

A fried twinkie?

They make fried Twinkies and fried Oreos in this country. It’s disgusting. But it’s worth trying.

Yeah. Tried a corn dog the other day. It wasnt the best of corn dogs. It was a bit strange. I mean you get battered sausages back home but it just sort of tastes like much stranger when it comes on a stick. One of the things that confuses people is like, ‘Chicken Fried Chicken’ and “Chicken Fried Steak’. Someone was trying to explain what it was, but we just got confused.

What was it like hearing any one of your songs played on the radio for the first time?

I have to admit, I don’t think I’ve ever actually heard us played on the radio!

AH! You should listen to WTBU!

Well actually, my friend rung me up and said she’d heard us on the radio. But I’ve never actually heard us.

So I heard you guys lost a couple of instruments along the way. I think in Memphis.

Oh yes, someone nicked a couple of our glockenspiel beaters and they disappeared during the show. So obviously someone grabbed it.

Going along with that, I was curious if you received anything special from fans?

Last night someone brought us some cookies! Someone made vegan cookies. That was really nice.

That is really nice. A few of the songs on the new album, as well as the first one, like “We Are Beautiful, We Are Doomed” and “It’s Never That Easy Though, Is It?” are pretty tragic songs. The lyrics are sad. But, behind those lyrics are very upbeat rock n’ roll rhythms and sounds. So, are you guys playing with a lot of irony there or is it just that you are writing songs and that is just how the songs come out?

I think so. The second record just became much more autobiographical for Garreth much more than the first album. He srot of gained confidence in his lyric writing. He became more autobiographical. It was really funny because some people are just like, ‘oh, your songs are really happy’. Its like, they aren’t actually listening to the lyrics. I don’t think it’s being ironic. It’s just ht eway that the songs are written.

You guys have played festivals like Lollapalooza and other major festivals in the UK, so do you prefer playing in small places like here at the Paradise or big venues. Or is just about the feel of the show and the audience?

I think so. We like playing small clubs. Especially when it’s your own show, you get time to prepare. It’s not rushed. It’s much more relaxed. It’s nice to play big venues, but it’s also nice to play small sweaty venues where you are right amongst the crowd.

Do you have any favorite venues? Either in the US or the UK?

We are looking forward to playing the Bowery in New York! We’ve been there a couple of times before! There’s also a place in Cardiff called Welsh Club. It’s a small venue and it’s really fun to play.

Do you have any really funny or crazy stories from the road?

We’ve met some strange people. In Jacksonville during the inauguration, we drove from there to Tampa and stopped off at this petrol station and Kelly our merch girl was like, to this guy, “So are you happy about today?” and the guy was like, “Oh no!” And he went off about how he hated Obama and that if he had the chance he’d kill him!

Yeah, you might get a lot of that down south. Not up here though. Don’t worry. I have a question from a fan. Her name is Devon. She is our PR director over at the station. She really likes you guys! She wanted to know what is the difference between your fans in the UK and in the US?

Here’s a lot better. People over here seem to get us and to be into it more. They dance more! People in the UK seem to be quite standoffish and have got this way like, “You’ve got to impress us.” So we enjoy playing over here a lot more.

Thanks Ollie for sitting down with me!

-Annie Berman, of BU in the Morning

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Get to Know: Pretty & Nice

There’s a certain, for lack of a better word, bravado that comes with the Boston music scene; an air of fury and excess that somehow feels unique to the area and yet completely relatable to outsiders like myself. It’s there in Bang Camaro’s drunken party-boy mentality; in the Dropkick Murphys’ celebration and refusal of working-class complacency; in the Pixies’ bizarre, poetic lyrics coupled with grinding guitar work and Black Francis’ manic bellowing; and in practically everything about Anal Cunt. Compared to these bands, Pretty & Nice, with their cheerful disposition, love of falsetto, and catchy, inoffensive pop styling, is something of an outcast.

Perhaps it has to do with Holden Lewis, Pretty & Nice’s co-founder, and his Vermont origins (where, according to the band’s page on recording label Hardly Art’s website, “the band sprouted from [his mind] in 2004”). Whatever the reason, it’s clear that he and fellow bandmates Jeremy Mendicino and Bobby Landry are less interested in fashioning an in-your-face presence – lyrically or musically – than in crafting cheery, snapping pop songs with Devoesque instrumentation and a touch of early They Might Be Giants’ attention deficit disorder, switching tone and style mid-way through song only to later double-back on itself.

It wouldn’t be fair, though, to say that Pretty & Nice is just another Ting Tings, only capable of producing criminally catchy and yet ultimately disposable tracks. There’s a definite intricacy to their music, a sometimes Shins-like blending of dissonant musical themes, extant sounds, amplifier screeches, and harmonious falsettos that, somehow come together to form something bizarre but inexplicably enticing. Not to mention that the band, like their Detroit-based peers OK Go, subscribe to the philosophy that one be sonically sunny and inviting and place it to dark, complex lyrics that Elvis Costello perfected – the proverbial having one’s cake and eating it too. I wouldn’t go so far as to proclaim them the music virtuosos of our time, but suffice to say, there’s more to Pretty & Nice than their incredibly catchy, often dancey songs. Speaking of which, did I mention how goddamn catchy they are?
Get Young, Pretty & Nice’s latest album, can be streamed in its entirety on the band’s website. The band also has a Myspace that houses music, blog posts, show information, and all the other usual stuff you find on Myspaces.

-John Gawarecki-Maxwell
Editor's Note: Be sure to catch Pretty & Nice next Thursday night 2/19 at Great Scott. Tickets are $8 and the doors are at 9pm! (And this time, it's 18+, so you really have no excuse.)

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

New in rotation this week: Dan Auerbach, Laura Gibson, The Vibrarians, Vetiver, Black Gold+++


1. DAN AUERBACH ‐ Keep It Hid (Nonesuch) . New solo album from the singer of the Black Keys. If you like the Black Keys, you'll
like this. Check 'em out at the Paradise first Sunday in March.

2. LAURA GIBSON ‐ Beasts Of Seasons (Hush). Beeeautiful songs from a Portland, OR singer/songwriter. Think Joanna Newsom with prettier, more approachable vocals.

3. VETIVER - Tight Knit (Sub Pop). Fourth album from this Sub Pop songwriter Andy Cabic. Super mellow and accessible, kinda folky.

4. BLACK GOLD ‐ Rush (Red Bull). Members of Ambulance LTD and Panic at the Disco, but don't let that scare you away. Try tracks 1, 2, 7.

5. VIBRARIANS ‐ Red Light (K). Lo‐fi garage punk from Washington. Added DIGITALLY this week.

just noticed how similar the last two album covers are.....that's kind of funny.

also!! some show recommendations for boston this weekend: throwbacks @ bill's bar this thursday, titus adronicus @ paradise this friday, pains of being pure at heart @ middle east this sunday.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

WTBU Interviews: Grave Maker

Grave Maker are a hardcore band from Vancouver. Their debut record, Bury Me At Sea, is arguably one of the best hardcore records of the year, and their live show is said to be even better. Without further ado, here is Grave Maker.

How long have you all know each other? When did you decide to become a band and how did it come about? Any advice for starting a band?

The band started with Andy Rice who was supposed to sing, Brian and Chris on guitar, Jon on bass and Wayne on drums.. that last a few practices and Andy ended up moving to Boston so Jon decided he was going to try and sing which ended working and being awesome.

I ended up moving back to Vancouver and Jon asked if I wanted to come down and play bass, and right around that time Chris decided he wanted to move to Regina.

So our first show ended up being Jon, Wayne, Brian and myself and now it's Jon, Wayne and myself partying away!

What do you think of the Canada scene? How does it compare to the American Hardcore scene? Do you see any differences between American shows and Canadian shows?

When it comes down to it, it's all the same. Kids going to shows having fun and enjoying life. There definitely is differences, not near as many tours come threw Canada so local scenes in some places are a lot stronger, and when bands come threw on tour kids seem to be a lot more stoked as opposed to some places in the states where they get shows 5 days a week.

What are some issues that you guys care about? Are you guys Straight Edge? Vegetarian/Vegan? Jon I saw on your myspace you like the book Dharma Punx, are you a Buddhist?

Right now there is 3 members of Grave Maker, myself, Jon and Wayne. Both Wayne and Jon are straight edge and get stoked when we stay with strangers houses and find out they're also edge. As far as issues that we are into, we're just dudes that love traveling, making new friends and playing shows. We're just 'whatever' about a lot things, we just sit back and enjoy the ride :)

What bands do you look to for inspiration? Are there bands that you guys listen to but people would not expect? What do you play in the tour bus?

Jon loves Paramore.
Wayne listens to a lot of CCR
My favorite band is the Vanilla Muffins.
On tour we listen to absolutely everything.

--Brian Krenzer

Friday, February 6, 2009


As you may have heard, WTBU is co-sponsoring The Virgins show at Great Scott this Saturday (tomorrow) at 9pm. HOWEVER, as you ALSO may have heard, this event is 21+, so for the REST of us...

On SUNDAY FEB. 8, from 6 - 8 PM,

Instead of being at the studio, our own High Fidelity will be streaming live from BU Central and interviewing The Virgins!

So come on by BU Central this Sunday night and ask the band your questions!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Review: Andrew Bird & Loney, Dear; Orpheum 1/30

No matter how many pairs of gigantic, fake glasses you own, you just can’t buy this breed of awkward, ironic genius. And yes, I said genius.

Last night at the Orpheum in Boston, supported by an impressive set of mammoth gramophones and the venue’s characteristically exceptional lighting design, Andrew Bird and opening darlings Loney, Dear demonstrated their shy brilliance with nearly three hours of—because this wasn’t simply music—experience.

Channeling more established contemporaries like The Weakerthans and Sigur Rós, the adorably Swedish Loney, Dear performed an earnest set that many audience members couldn’t have fully appreciated, due to their constant getting up and down. It was a real shame, because Loney frontman Emil Svanängen sings with the patience and charm of an elementary school music teacher, instructing the entire audience in the melodies of their songs; and the honesty and awkwardness of a teenaged boy with his guitar, standing in the hallways of his high school, playing a song he wrote for the girl he’d been in love with for five years. Loney’s song “Saturday Waits” was a crowd favorite, and definitely the most memorable of their songs. However, the unquestionable highlight of Loney, Dear’s set was Emil’s ending to one of the songs on their new album Dear John, in which all instrumental accompaniment fell away and he sang a simple repetition of the chorus two or three times in an unimpeded, raw croon.

Then...oh, heavens.

A tall, scrawny, slightly scruffy guy in a suit and skinny tie (reminiscent of George Harrison, à la Ed Sullivan Show) walks onstage, holding a violin and bow. Lifting the instrument to his shoulder, he plays a simple riff and taps a pedal on the sound board at his feet, which sends his riff into a loop, over which he adds more and more sound, as if building a Lincoln Log cabin made of beautiful music. Just as he finishes creating his own personal symphony, seemingly frustrated, the man kicks off his shoes to reveal a pair of bony, bare feet.

Now Andrew Bird was getting into his groove.

“Natural Disaster” opened the set, accompanied by a loop of the audience’s clapping and, of course, Bird’s notoriously masterful whistling. Throughout the hour and a half, the man’s demeanor presents a contradiction: his frenetic, near OCD head-shaking and foot-tapping gives him the look of a nervous-as-hell schoolboy giving an oral presentation, while the effortless caress of each violin string and sparks of a smile on his face make him seem nearly smug about it all.

The set, a staple to Andrew Bird’s live performance as original as his whistling techniques, consists of just those three gramophones, two of which are approximately the size of adult sea lions. The third, considerably smaller (perhaps a baby sea lion—but with two heads), is a custom-designed double-headed piece that spins, echoing the sounds of the band and filling the Orpheum with a unique noise effect (this reviewer is hard-put to describe it more articulately; go see it and hear it for yourself).

His band members; percussionist Martin Dosh, guitarist/bassist/organist Jeremy Ylvisaker (try pronouncing that one), and Mike Lewis; seemed to not even register that they were playing onstage in front of hundreds of people—maybe that was because Andrew was pulling about 90 percent of the instrumental weight? Playing “Tables and Chairs,” however, the boys proved that they were well qualified, because the clarinet and, though at first it seemed counter-intuitive, the saxophone additions to the song made it one of the best of the night. In fact, most of the songs of the night were significantly improved by the live performances; it was the difference that a live jazz set makes to its recording.

Finally, with “Fake Palindromes,” the boys polished off a healthy encore, and picking up his violin, his empty shoes, and the sock monkey that had been surreptitiously perched on the double gramophone, Andrew Bird walked away from a raw, beautiful whirlwind of a show.

Try doing that with a carefully assembled thrift-store wardrobe.

-Devon Maloney

Editor's Note: check out Andrew's new album, Noble Beast, on WTBU and in stores now.

Tonight on "You Are What You Love"

BU's resident folkie, Spitzer Space Telescope, will play live on WTBU tonight around 9pm during "You Are What You Love" (WTBU's only folk show!! Thursdays, 8-10pm). Spitzer is joining us to support Monday night's star-studded folk show at TT the Bear's in Cambridge. Monday's line-up also includes Boston folk singers Vikesh Kapoor and Elizabeth Butters, as well as Asheville's Woody Pines.

Today, the Boston Phoenix's website is featuring an article about the show. (Check it out here.) The article includes a link to a track that Vikesh recorded in-studio on "You Are What You Love" last semester. Download the entire in-studio performance, which includes "Down by the River", "Kissin' On", and "Siv Lie", HERE.

Spitzer Space Telescope, Vikesh Kapoor, Elizabeth Butters, and Woody Pines are at TT the Bears on Monday, February 9th, for only $3! 10 Brookline St, Central Square, 8-11 pm.


FREE DOWNLOAD: Vikesh Kapoor Live on WTBU

PS: Due to a sports broadcast, You Are What You Love will be on the alternate stream until around 9:30.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009


The Virgins are an American band from New York City.

Influenced by 21st century indie tones and a late-70s new wave attitude similar to Talking Heads, the Virgins were formed in 2006 by lead singer/songwriter Donald Cumming. (The rest of the group consists of guitarist Wade Oates, bassist Nick Zarin-Ackerman, and drummer Erik Ratensperger.)

Before long, the Virgins hit the road opening for Mark Ronson, Tokyo Police Club, Sonic Youth, and Patti Smith, and played at the All Points West Festival in 2008. Recognized for being “artsy,” the band’s music was also featured on an episode of the hit television series Gossip Girl. Recently, Rolling Stone named their song “Rich Girls” the number 68 best song of 2008.

To listen to and learn more about the Virgins you can check out their website,, or their MySpace,

Related Artists: The Icarus Line, Tapes ‘N Tapes, and The Strokes

-Liz Alfonso

EDITOR'S NOTE: Don't forget! If you're 21+, check out The Virgins this Saturday at Great Scott! Doors are at 9pm and it costs $10. JUST DO IT.

Monday, February 2, 2009

WTBU & Great Scott Present.......

Our second co-sponsorship with the Great Scott in Allston will be on February 19! This show is going to be AWESOME. Don't miss it. It might sell out; get tickets early on

Also, don't forget, our first co-sponsored show with Great Scott is this Saturday. The Virgins, Lissy Trulle, & Anya Marina. (8pm, 21+, $10.)

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Review: Matt & Kim - Grand: "A Smile for Your Ears"

The dynamic Brooklyn duo, Matt & Kim, have once again unleashed their unstoppable sound. Their sophomore album, Grand, was released on January 20, 2009, bringing with it a rawer, and a more rambunctious air. Full of the usual strong, driving rhythms and energetic vocals, the album is infused with a new acoustic feel of claps, snaps, and stomps. Compared to the polished sound of their previous CD, Matt & Kim (2006), the group has decided to shy away from studio recording. As Matt describes, the studio environment “wasn’t exactly the breeding ground of creativity.” Instead, the two settled down in Matt’s parent’s home in Vermont and recorded Grand in his childhood bedroom. The result was a record that shines brightly, dawning a fresh, intoxicating, summer soundtrack.

“Daylight” bursts Grand alight with true Matt & Kim flavor of stimulating syncopation. Their relentless energy is also captured in the track’s music video, which has been successfully circulated on MTVu. Watching the duo crammed into a refrigerator, a cab, and other New York City locales is priceless. The smiles across their faces never fade, and neither does their playing.

“Cutdown,” “Good Ol’ Fashioned Nightmare,” and “Lessons Learned” introduce deeper, resonating synth tones. Paired together with a heavier emphasis on the snare and cymbals, the combination yields involuntary head bobbing. “Lessons Learned” offers a somewhat smoother experience, yet still leaves your heart racing. Matt’s expressive lyrics touch upon a place where we’ve all been: “I stayed up all night, slept in all day. This is my sound, thinking ‘bout tomorrow won’t change how I feel today.”

Bringing witty lines and more of an original Matt & Kim sound, “I Wanna” pounds confidently with wants and needs. Besides wanting “to bring back the bison,” this track shows off the group’s versatility in alternating between different meters. With a Morse code like opening, “Don’t Slow Down” gives off a more laidback sound to back up the motivating motto.

“Turn This Boat Around,” brings something totally different to the table: a ballad. Yet the rainy, cloudy lullaby still stays true to strong down beats resonating in the background. “Cinders,” a purely instrumental whirlwind quickly cuts in. When you thought Matt & Kim couldn’t possibly go any faster, they do.

“Daylight Outro” and “I’ll Take Us Home,” wrap up the album, reaffirming Grand’s true homage to Brooklyn. Like “a pair of old boxing gloves,” the duo returns, “just so [they] could finally breath.” With a few bitter, yet relieved notes, the track moves you to close your eyes and feel warm at home sweet home.

The energy emanating from this ecstatic match up will make your heart skip beats. Matt & Kim’s true soul shines within Grand, leaving Brooklyn and Grand street as the proud parents. Their unyielding grins and humbleness will definitely make you SOL (smile out loud). In the end, you’ll want nothing but to share a dumpster with these two.

-Tetyana Pecherska
DJ on "A Day in the Life," Sundays @6-8am