Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The Return of Pretty & Nice

Holden Lewis, a 24-year-old musician and alumnus of Boston University, has a band. The band’s name is Pretty & Nice and they’ve been upping the Boston music scene’s ante for a few years now. Since the 7th grade, Lewis has been cultivating his talents for his Boston-based group, a four-piece peppy pop band with true instrumental talent.

The makings of Pretty & Nice began when Lewis wanted to pursue a music group at the end of high school. At the time, the band was composed of four different members, all friends of Lewis’ from the northeast. Musicians shifted in and out of the band until Lewis found the perfect asset during his sophomore year in college, Jeremy Mendicino. Lewis describes Mendicino as “being born to do music.” It was that year that Lewis knew he was going to make music his priority in life.

His decision to do so was a wise one, considering the success Pretty & Nice has seen since then. The buzz started when they played their first shows in Boston and developed a strong fan base. They then organized their own tours; national music blogs like Pitchfork and Paper Thin Walls heard about them and latched on to their sound. The word continued to spread when a year ago, Sub Pop’s sister label, Hardly Art, asked them to sign.

The band has also been invited to perform at music festivals like South By Southwest, and has received acclaim from popular music publications (including a recent spotlight in SPIN). They have released two albums and an EP since 2006 and have toured just about everywhere in the U.S.

“If you have the drive to get on the road, you can get help by asking friends or other touring bands. The key is being able to communicate with people. You have to keep in touch with a lot of folks to book your own tours and figure out what the scenes are like in each town…you also need to be in a band worth booking,” explains Lewis.

Despite its aquired notoriety, Pretty & Nice keeps close to its Boston roots. Locally, the band has played shows in many established venues around town; Boston is indeed the city to hear them and they’re usually on the bill with other dance bands that promote a similar “fun” atmosphere.

The band’s “fun” atmosphere stems from the influences and creativity of Mendicino and Lewis. The two mix jagged guitar parts with synthesizers, drums, and teaming vocals. The lyrics are crafty and imaginative; they evoke a carefree feeling of youthful escapism from the audience—perhaps that’s why their latest album is titled Get Young.

Not only do they provide fans a fun night at a venue like a lot of other local gems, but they’re good, too. They pay attention to detail, and it’s clear within their perfect-pitched harmonies and elaborate guitar riffs.

“They add electronic sounds and record in analog, which most artists don’t bother with now. It makes them stand out—makes you remember them,” states Will Orman, a friend and fan of the band for two years.

They take their music seriously. Look into the animated eyes of Mendicino while he’s performing on stage and you’ll know what I’m talking about. The band makes a non-verbal promise to entertain you.

Catch them LIVE at Great Scott in Allston on Wednesday, July 29 at 9 PM with So Many Dynamos! The show is 18+ and $9 in advance/$10 at the door.

Listen to their single “Tora Tora Tora!” on their website.

-Jen Brown, Music Director

Get to know: The New Collisions

The New Collisions, a five-piece New Wave-influenced rock band from Cambridge, only played their first show in November 2008--a sold-out gig at the Middle East Upstairs. But local press and bloggers have already called them the hottest band in Boston, and their list of accomplishments is on par with bands who’ve been playing the Boston scene for years.

“It’s been crazy,” says lead singer Sarah Guild. Working with producer Anthony Resta (who has also produced Duran Duran, Blondie, Collective Soul, Letters to Cleo), The New Collisions are set to nationally release a 6-song EP at the end of this summer, which features Greg Hawkes from the Cars on synth.

“Everyone in Boston has been so great to us, all of the bands, venues, all of the bloggers,” adds guitarist Scott Guild.

Though the New Collisions are a new band, Scott and Sarah have been making music for years. “We met at Marlboro College in Vermont, and then we kind of dropped out together,” explains Scott. From 2001 to 2006, they lived in England, Florida, Missssippi, and Ireland, always doing music in the background. “It was different, mostly acoustic, ambient, reverb-drenched guitar and vocals.”

“We eventually decided we wanted to stop roaming, have a band, and get started in a scene,” explains Scott. The two moved to Boston in 2008, hoping to start a rock band with influences like Blondie and the Kinks. “We were going for an amalgamation of late 70s and early 80s new wave pop.”

“We would always post on Craig’s List that we were looking for a keyboard player, and going for a Greg Hawkes vibe. One day I decided to just see what Greg Hawkes was up to, and wrote to him on MySpace. He wrote back the same day and came out to one of our shows. Then he came to more shows, we became friends, and eventually he actually played with us,” says Scott.

“Every now and then we all get together and watch that video to make sure it actually happened,” says Sarah, laughing. “It was the most amazing thing. He was in a band in Boston that came out of the scene almost 20 years before us.”

The New Collisions are set to tour the US and Europe later in the year, so catch them now while you can! The band will play Freezepop's 10 Anniversary show at Harper's Ferry on July 25 and The Middle East Upstairs on August 8. For tour dates, mp3 streams, videos, etc, check out

-Liz Pelly

Thursday, July 2, 2009

WTBU Interviews Passion Pit

Before their show at the Paradise Rock Club on June 18, Passion Pit's Michael Angelakos (lead vocals/keyboards) and Nate Donmoyer (drums) sat down with WTBU to talk about the history of Passion Pit, the production of their new album, the Boston music scene, and more. Check it out because it's really awesome.

(Thanks to WTBU's friends Jason Bergman & Matt Rosadini for help with production!)

-Liz Pelly

MP3: Passion Pit - "The Reeling"

WTBU Interviews: At Bamboozle!

WTBU DJ Adam Azahari (of Wow, That's Legit!)was able to talk to some of the artists at Bamboozle, the pop punk music festival held every May in New Jersey. Check out the interviews below:

Elliot of Hey Monday:

Jean-Paul of Cash Cash:

Magic Magic Headlines Great Scott

Great Scott featured a three-band lineup last night featuring the bands Bedtime, Cymbals Eat Guitars, and Magic Magic.

Bedtime defines themselves as "1890s classical indie-moon rock." Although the band only plays original songs, they fall short at striking the audience with an original sound. They play songs with small jam sections that take away from their music at times, with what some fans could consider an excess of distortion and noise. Listening to the quartet that includes the basics of piano, vocals, drums, bass, and guitar, prompts listeners to wonder if they will ever get to hear something new amongst the thousands of indie bands that tour the same national venues as Bedtime. The opening slot on the bill was therefore an appropriate one for them to fill.

Perhaps Bedtime didn't quite cut it because Cymbals Eat Guitars was just so good. From hearsay and written reviews, I've heard both positive and negative things about the band--but mostly positive. I tried to tune out the buzz in order to listen/watch blindly, and I was reassured: the band is something to talk about. The previous question of whether anything "new" will surface in indie rock is answered with bands like Cymbals. They incorporate notable details like the use of a musical triangle or their double keyboards with electronic effects that some bands only save for recording. They also push themselves to vary the rhythm and loudness of the songs (usually with impeccable transition), which makes one track seem like it has a few tracks within it. The vocals have definite range to them too, with some singing, yelling, and talking. I talked to the guys after their set and they were humble and welcoming, which has proved to help them get heard over the last year; their album was self-released and most of their promotion DIY.

Boston's Magic Magic headlined the show to a packed house. The five-piece band played their usual songs plus a newbie ("Tastes Like Makeup") with stomping rhythm and well-written/well-sung lyrics. The lead singer, John Murphy, never sings a word without meaning it. The guys brought another element of musical diversity to the night with more focus and buildup to their songs, which they create from hard guitar riffs and double drum parts. It was nice to see a loyal set of Boston fans in the audience as well; they knew which songs to sing along to and request.

Magic Magic's next show is Friday in Providence. Check out their Myspace for more info.

The rest of Great Scott's summer shows are all up on the venue's website.

-Jen Brown, WTBU Music Director
(taken from Daughter of the Soho Riots)