Monday, December 13, 2010

Q +A with The Honors

The Honors, a fun-loving foursome currently stationed in Boston, will be performing on Thursday, December 16th at The Middle East Downstairs in Cambridge. In a light-hearted interview last week, WTBU intern Elizabeth Castillo spoke with drummer Jason Trikakis about The Honors’ latest album xoxo, record labels and performing in Boston.

WTBU: Your music is described as Melodramatic Popular Song. What does that entail?
JT: I see you looked at our Myspace. That was actually a joke; we went through the different genres and chose the most outlandish one. Seriously, we can be described as easy listening or the generic term of indie rock. We’re not trying to reinvent the wheel, we have fun making music and we like making music that’s enjoyable and high energy.

What is your favorite track on xoxo?
Would it be lame if I said I liked them all? My favorite song to play live is “Give It Up to Me”. Our other songs are very musically structured so it’s harder to add in extra notes but “Give it Up to Me” provides for the most improvising live. There might be an extra-long guitar solo added in and you can really just have more fun with it. But as far as the album goes, each song has a different sound and they all bring something to xoxo.

Love seems to be a pretty big theme throughout xoxo, does the band feel relationships provide the best lyrical inspiration? Are there other life experiences the band hopes to pull from?
This album does largely deal with relationships. Especially in “New Girls”, it really shows the tender side of a genuine relationship whereas “Give It Up to Me” is definitely more aggressive. Overall, different types of relationships were pulled from to create this album not just love. We pulled from our relationships we have between each other and from life in lower Allston and spending time at Great Scott.

How do you like being a part of Boston’s local music scene?
I’d say that we’re not. Really. We don’t have any of those big ties to Boston. We didn’t all go to school together, we don’t really identify with a local Boston social group and we don’t really have that local fan base like other bands. We’re more of Boston transplants. But we are dating—if you could use that term—The Wandas. A shout out to them. They’ve definitely helped us out as a band in Boston. They also helped us get the show at The Middle East. They’re really cool guys.

Who would you say are your biggest musical influences?
We really love Motown. We always have some golden oldies blaring on the radio. We really like Raphael Saadiq. We definitely used him as inspiration for this album; xoxo may not sound very similar, but we paid homage to him and Motown and in this album.
How is it like working independently without a label attachment?
Great! No one tells us what to do, how to make our music or which demographic we should stick with. There’s lots of creative freedom but also a lot of extra work. We have to work harder at maintaining the band and getting a fan base but ultimately it’s fine because we’re allowed to just be ourselves as a band.

You recently were the opening act for Ok Go, how was that experience?
It was awesome! It was really fun but we weren’t really starstruck. We’ve played huge festivals before and we’re more of veterans at this. We can play huge venues but at the same time still have fun just playing in front of six people. But there definitely is a better vibe when the audience is bigger. It was cool to have an all ages audience and have 92.9 help spread the word. Ok Go were really sweet dudes but we couldn’t stay and watch them perform because we had another show right after. Overall it was a fun experience.

Are you guys planning a nationwide tour anytime soon?
We’d love too but they are very costly! Without a record label to help pay for expenses they are very difficult to do. We used to have a tour van but we ultimately had to sell it because of the expenses. Hopefully we can soon but as of now, very difficult to do.


Check out The Honors’ music at Facebook or Myspace. And don’t forget to check them out live on Thursday at The Middle East Downstairs!

-Elizabeth Castillo

Friday, December 3, 2010

Record Review: Sun Araw - Off Duty

Sun Araw is the electronic solo project of Cameron Stallones, guitarist of the Long Beach, California band Magic Lantern. His new release, Off Duty, is the follow up EP to Sun Araw’s 2010 full length album On Patrol. Off Duty is an EP by name only, stretching over 45 minutes throughout its epic 5 tracks.

The album opens with “Last Chants,” a psychedelic journey through Sun Araw’s strange soundscapes. The song is filled with tribal drumming, distant echo-affected vocals, and a plethora of ambient noise and laser sounding synthesizers. The next song, “Midnight Locker,” is a dark, tempoless meandering of noise. Bouncing keyboards and percussive pounding (you can’t quite call it drumming) guide the song while a background guitar reminiscent of early Pink Floyd floats over the top. “Deep Temple,” the next track, carries on with the tribal and spiritual theme, as tape-hiss filled guitars play over delayed synthesizers and tropical drums. Over its 11 minute span, the track is simultaneously reminiscent of Indian music, reggae, and dubstep, somehow.

The album takes a darker turn with the fourth track, “In the Trees.” The song is a 9 minute, horrifyingly strange psychedelic jam. Stallones trades his echo pedal he used so religiously on the earlier tracks for a distortion pedal; twisted guitars play over a repetitive bass line while distorted vocals shout out from the foreground. The closing track of the album, “Canopy,” picks up where “In the Trees” left off. With another looped bassline, the song meanders over a reggae like groove, conjuring images of a
fantasy beach from some psychedelic nightmare.

Off Duty is a highly enjoyable EP, filled with echo drenched guitars and ambient synthesizers recorded with intentionally lo-fi methods. The EP creates a soundscape of some strange primal meditation, a spiritual reflection of sorts. However, Sun Araw’s drone-influenced, noise tracks are certainly not for all listeners. But for fans of more experimental music, Sun Araw will be very enjoyable experience. And it certainly is an experience.

-Will McCall

If you like Sun Araw and other Woodsist Records projects, tune in to Left of the Dial on Monday-Friday from 4-6 p.m.

Things got a little 'Foxy' at the Paradise Rock Club on Commonwealth Ave on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving

The rock band Foxy Shazam shared the stage with opening act Hollerado and co-headliner Free Energy, but stole the show with their mix of stage antics, a huge sound, and an overall fun atmosphere that rocked the Paradise.

With chants of "Foxy! Foxy! Foxy!" overwhelming the small venue, the six man band took the stage, and created an incredible tone that made the crowd jump and scream back the lyrics to their songs.

Mainly consisting of songs from their first major label release and newest album Foxy Shazam released back in April, the band ran around the stage, and quickly took control of the venue from the first grand note that they played. Mustachioed lead singer Eric Sean Nally jumped on horn player Alex Nauth's shoulders, while keyboardist Sky jumped on top of his keyboard during songs, banged on the keys with his feet, and reached out to touch the heads of the front row of the audience. All of them genuinely looked like they were having just as much fun as the crowd was.

But the real entertainment was centered around singer Nally. Jumping around stage with an eye patch over the eye that he injured during a previous performance, he channeled the late James Brown. He did tricks with the microphone stand, and hit high notes that seem impossible to reach. But, the antics didn't end there. During the set, Nally grabbed one of the drummer's large crash cymbals, put it on his head, and had the drummer beat away on it, not missing one beat.

At one point during the middle of a song, Nally proceeded to light three cigarettes, smoke them simultaneously during the latter half of the song, and then, at the very end, proceeded to eat all three lit cigarettes. Commenting later on stage, the only thing he had to say was: "Yuck. Disgusting."

But all the fun just didn?t happen during the songs. Nally's off the wall non-sequitors and long stories while the crew was "fixing the rock and roll" that seemed to have no real ending, kept the crowd entertained. At the end of "Unstoppable," the flamboyant lead singer proceeded to tell a story about how each of the band members received $965,000 for signing on to a major label deal with Warner Media Group. "I spent it all on FIREWORKS!" the lead singer declared with enthusiasm, prompting applause from the mainly student-filled audience. Then immediately segueing into the next song ?Bye Bye Symphony,? Nally declared "This next song is about being broke!"

Before the show, I was able to sit down with bassist Daisy, and horn player Alex and discuss their band, as well as their sound on their newest album. The interview gave me insight into their influences, their favorite bands, life on the road, and the ?day the music cried.? Check it all out below, with a clip of the show from the Paradise as well). - Interview Part 1 - Part 2 - "Unstoppable" + Story

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

December 8th @ the Great Scott

WTBU's LEFT OF THE DIAL is hosting a fundraiser to benefit the Boston Counter Cultural Compass, a monthly newsletter that posts information about local, DIY, lo-fi, experimental and folk shows happening in and around the Boston area. For more information on the Counter Cultural Compass, please check out the website here.

Come hang out on December 8th! The fee to get in is a $5-10 donation.