Tag: massachusetts

Enjoy “In Your Car”, Tiny Deserts’ slice of meditative new music

Will McGovern makes music under the name Tiny Deserts, which is a fine name for a band because tiny deserts are something we all enjoy. Wait. Hold on. Tiny Deserts. Not Tiny Desserts. Well, you know what, maybe some of us still enjoy tiny deserts. I just know a whole bunch more of us like tiny desserts. You know macarons? I love those.

Anyway, Will’s released a new track called “In Your Car” on Spotify. It appears on Tiny Deserts’ album Safekeeping, which drops November 22nd. Will has another single on Spotify called “Waiting” which has a bedroom pop chill-dance vibe to it; “In Your Car” contrasts it as a meditative exercise using a soft keyboard refrain, a warbling flute, and descending zithers that could put you into a trance-like state in any situation. Near the end of the song, Will harmonizes with himself and keeps the notes just off-key enough to create a binaural effect.

You’re gonna want this song in your library if it’s a Tuesday afternoon and you’ve procrastinated working on a project and you need to deal with the rush hour commute in a little bit and you have spent too much money that you don’t have and you realize that you still have three more days in the week. This will chill out your vibes.

Will emailed me with his blurb about the song and said that he has “no real memory of actually writing the song.” “I just had it one day,” he wrote. Those kinds of songs are the best, even the bad ones. You may release them to critical acclaim, or you may tuck them back in the junk drawer with the rest of the rejects, but you still hold them close to your heart. “In Your Car” is a real keeper, and it’s good that it’s seeing the light of day. +

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From a small book cafe in Lakeville, Massachusetts

I woke on Friday morning with a glorious premonition: Waves of hot coffee flowing through the streets of America, scalding and scorching the unjust and unkind, the detritus of their wasted existences evaporating out of the dark river into the deepest black of the universe, and all that remained filtering — like fresh water into the Atlantic — into my mouth. Let me swallow the souls of the guilty! Let me feed on their sins and their greed!

Sometimes I get into those moods. I like those moods, don’t get me wrong; if we all rooted out real evil at the source, we’d all have a little easier of a time getting to sleep at night, I think. But I also like the moods where I take a break, sip the coffee down smooth instead of inhaling it like Oglogoth, son of H’gheghmenoth sucks up the souls of the predatory moneylenders, and catch up on a good book or take in the local scenery of whatever strange new world into which I driven my duct-taped rental car.

So here I report to you from beautiful Lakeville, Massachusetts, a town of about 10,000 folks tucked in the southwestern end of Plymouth County. I’ve found Wi-Fi in a beautiful stone building that a few enterprising residents have turned into a cozy book cafe; the coffee here costs about two bucks for a small hot one, the stacks stand full of classics and well-known series, and you can sit in just about any couch or chair here and find yourself not wanting to get back on your own two feet. I like a place like this most of all. You don’t get a business like this in New York City for the most part. Barnes & Noble used to have the comfy seats and outlets and Wi-Fi that would work, but they took it all away in an effort to chase out the homeless. It hasn’t worked. Let me tell you, Fred — a guy I know who often camps out in front of the Union Square store selling his own books for spare change — has never been happy about that change, and I agree with him. Local bookstores forever. Support your warm and wonderful hometown book cafe today. Big ups to the late Thanks A Latte, the coffee nook in Manlius, New York that made a sleepy little shopping plaza come alive.

Last night I went to my first Fenway Park game, in which the Boston Red Sox put up a lukewarm fight against the Los Angeles Dodgers, falling 11-2 after nine innings of foul ball filled play. I now own a hat that says Fenway Park underneath the Citgo triangle, because I’ll damn myself if I ever own or wear a hat with a team logo or name other than that of the New York Mets. But I love Fenway; aside from Wrigley, no other ballpark comes close to its history, its magnificence, its culture, and its ties to its home city. Yankee Stadium? Forget it; that original park opened well after Fenway, and the new one has too much glitz and glamour. I hate to say it, but Citi Field suffers from that same modernized soullessness. I understand you have to keep a place up with the times, but Fenway has done that while preserving what has made it a classic venue for sport for over a century. Plus, if anyone ever comes up with new plans to take down Fenway and build something else, the city of Boston will break their legs, and so will I. (I’ll agree with anyone who says that they shouldn’t have rebuilt Yankee Stadium. I’ll bash the team all I want, but I’ll have a soft spot in my heart for looking at the old park during my trips to the city as a kid.)

This sort of wistful thinking leads to my ire for the Dodgers. I understand that baseball has its ways, and the business sometimes demands that teams travel from one place to another in order to survive. (Hell, I feel for Cleveland sometimes. When the Browns will the Super Bowl, the state of Ohio will separate from the United States and shoot into the sky.) And I never grew up to watch the Dodgers play baseball in Brooklyn; my parents didn’t even come around until a few years after they split for the West. But I live now right near Prospect Park, and sometimes I take a run over to the park’s east side, and I see the housing project that they’ve built atop the ruins of Ebbets Field, and I think about the fact that they built a new field for the Mets not in Brooklyn where a glorious stadium used to stand, but in a godforsaken corner of deep Queens like an afterthought. Then they tore down that stadium and built another one on top of it, and while Citi Field has some of the old touches that Ebbets used to have, part of me feels like it should stand tall and welcoming in the heart of Brooklyn, rather than alone and almost desolate near the Nassau County line. So my anger doesn’t belong to the Dodgers, I guess; it should belong to Robert Moses and Walter O’Malley whose spat in the middle of the 20th century led to what we New York non-Yankees fans must now call home for our baseball.

But I tell you, while I watched the Dodgers’ Justin Turner slug a home run over the Green Monster, I wanted to yell: “You belong in Brooklyn!” Ebbets Field would have been the second-oldest ballpark still standing, if the Dodgers had remained in it. Can you imagine Brooklyn’s own version of all the weird quirks that Fenway has to offer? That’s why I love Fenway, even if my relationship with the Red Sox remains supportive in order to honor my fiancee’s love for her home team. I sat in the bleachers and looked out over the history of that place, and wondered if I could have had a ball park like that where I grew up, or where I live now, so that I can feel like a part of something historic. I suppose, though, that you have to think of the Ship of Theseus. If you rebuild something so much — even from the ground up — and keep calling it by its old name, does it still retain its old identity? Can the Mets feel like the Dodgers? Can Citi Field feel like Ebbets Field? If they ever sneak around the Boston faithful in the dead of night to tear down Fenway — turn around three times and spit — will Red Sox fans come to find refuge in a new home?

While writing this, I had to relocate from the cozy book cafe — which was closing — to a nearby Dunkin’, which feels like the most New England thing I can imagine. I’ll head back to New York and my visions of usurping the gluttonous in rivers of dark roast in a bit; hope you all have the lights on over there. +

VIDEO: Future Teens ponder emotional bachelorhood, send many texts

I have little to say: I’ve spent too much time over the past 48 hours watching Twitch streamers on YouTube blow through custom Guitar Hero meme charts in order to assuage some minor anxiety. However, I fear that has caused me severe brain damage, which causes me greater anxiety. The ouroboros continues.

But I want to hype up the new song from Future Teens, “Emotional Bachelor”, because it previews the band’s new album and shows off why they’re another group to watch at this end of the decade. I enjoyed their beautiful cover of “I Don’t Want To Get Over You” which appeared on the 69 Love Songs compilation from Living Statue Records last December. Their debut LP Hard Feelings — which dropped in 2017 — has plenty of hooky bummer pop jams for any time of day or year. And they put together a compilation of emo covers of songs from Carly Rae Jepsen’s EMOTION last year, which puts them among the highest of champions in my book.

“Emotional Bachelor” touches on hookup culture and all of the emotions surrounding it, with dueling and harmonizing vocalists Amy Hoffman and Daniel Radin trading verses about wanting to create more permanent and meaningful relationships but slipping right back into the old routines with lackluster partners. The term “emotional bachelor” doesn’t have history behind it — search on Google and you’ll find plenty of articles related to emotional moments on The Bachelor — but Future Teens have tied meaning to it. You become an emotional bachelor after your sixth night in a row of waking up next to someone you don’t like. You become an emotional bachelor after texting a random hookup from the week before and feeling nothing as you hit Send. There’s no love; there’s not even no love. There’s not even nothing. There’s you, your dusty apartment, and the sock that the last overnight guest left behind.

I went through that emotional bachelorhood phase; after all, I call myself a human being even though I am really just two misshapen matzo balls stuffed into a skin sack. Between relationships, I drooled into my bodega chopped cheese at two in the morning while swiping left on The Apps on autopilot. I know for a fact that I’ve been on the other end of a relationship with an emotional bachelor. The texts stopped coming; then, when I feared the worst, the eventual final text arrived.

Not having to live in emotional bachelorhood is wonderful. If you have someone that you love, fucking cherish them and their company, because to not have to scramble and scrape for affection anymore has its benefits. For one, in the most ideal setting, you grow as a person and learn to understand how to cohabitate and communicate with others in a healthy way. For two, snuggles.

But Future Teens’ new song has its subjects stuck in the pit of emotional bachelorhood. And the song makes me feel for them. I hope that they can find the love they’re searching for and get out of the rut where they go into a club and remember that they hate clubs and leave and text their respective last-resort hookups. Yes, this happened to me during my emotional bachelorhood phase. No, the last-resort hookup did not text back. And thank goodness for that. +

Bella’s Bartok releases latest circus punk party record “Is Me That Monster?”

I must start this post off lamenting the opportunity that I missed to see Bella’s Bartok play at Rockwood Music Hall last 4/20. There was anticipation in the air as to how much insanity would commence at that performance. Would the band’s raw klezmer-influenced energy blow a hole through the roof of the Hall, through which much merriment and vape smoke would flow up to the heavens? I would never find out, for poor Asher’s voice blew out at the show the night before. The Blood God had connived against me yet again.

So I’ve languished in these past few months without any new Bella’s material. But now, you and I have a new record from these fine musicians which will lift our spirits and control our leg muscles into a feverish dance: Is Me That Monster?, a bone-rattling, celebratory frenzy of growth and change.

Is Me That Monster? is Bella’s first album in two years; their previous record, Change Yer Life, capped the group’s tenure at UMass Amherst and set them off on a whirlwind of growing fame and popularity. Today, the band are known for their klezmer- and Roma-inspired circus punk style, as well as their eclectic and high-energy live shows which include non-stop dancing, vibrant stage antics, and the overall flavor of a wild cabaret. They’ve built up their reputation for reckless abandon since their humble beginnings almost a decade ago, but throughout it all, they’ve kept their music focused on the need for love and joy.

While the band has changed and grown over the last two years, Is Me That Monster? keeps what listeners have come to love about Bella’s Bartok: The wide-ranging vocals of Asher Putnam, which can change from wistful to commanding on a dime; the soul-waking horns of Amory Drennan and Gershon Rosen; the tireless riffing from guitarist Lucas Solórzano and bassist Dan Niederhauser; the talented keys of Alex Kogut, who also works the accordion with all the power of his body and mind; and the tight, steady rhythms from long-haired drummer and the one on whom you can always depend for a smile, Crisco.

But because both the band and the world have changed in the last few years, the songs on Is Me That Monster? reflect a different set of emotions from previous works. Beginning with the ballad “End of the World Pt. I” and ending with the foreboding waltz of “End of the World Pt. II”, the record kicks off with a glimpse of a dark nearby future and closes out with an open ending, careful not to make any grand statements about how that future might continue. Because most of the band’s members descend from Eastern European immigrants, the current political climate in their current home country gives them significant ammunition to sing for justice and love more than they ever have before. In the loose narrative constructed by the songs on Is Me That Monster?, Bella’s launches forth with perhaps their most personal album to date, while continuing to entertain with the raucous styles that they’ve honed over years of stirring up a crowd to move and be moved.

The release of Is Me That Monster? caps yet another era of the band’s growth, with all of its members now farther along in their lives since their graduations from college. As full-fledged adults, they’ve gained more responsibilities and received — for better or for worse — fresh looks at the world around them as it crumbles and warps into something different, more sinister, more chaotic than ever before. But no matter how old Bella’s Bartok or how dark the world becomes, the band will continue to play on, fighting against the raging tides of injustice and avarice with blaring horns and thundering voices of light and life.

Hopefully I’ll get to see Bella’s perform again at some point, and hopefully so will you. We all need to witness something like a Bella’s Bartok show more than once in our lives. Our collective health as a species demands it. 

Canon Hill release debut LP “Mugshot”; New England pop punk prevails

I did the math; if Canon Hill began in 2013 when the founding members were just graduating eighth grade, then the eventual solution to this equation is that I am old. I am so, so old.

Regardless of age, Canon Hill have released a debut album of good New England pop punk that should take their careers beyond the Massachusetts state border. Mugshot contains a handful of rocking tracks infused with the Green Day-esque sound that Logan Tichnor and Ben Hayden strived to emulate when creating the band. But instead of coming off too much like Billie Joe, Mike, and Tre, Canon Hill have created and matured their own sound on Mugshot, which they polished and perfected with the help of Tim Carlin at SSN Studios in Brewster, a Cape Cod town on the opposite shore of Canon Hill’s hometown of Harwich.

Fans of FIDLAR and Descendants will want to pay attention to these four guys from the Cape; they are, however, at that age where college becomes a destructive force for any band of young folks. We’ll see if Canon Hill chooses the path of the good rocking tunes or the path of higher education and possible financial security. (Note to Canon Hill: College does not guarantee higher education and/or possible financial security.) Top tracks: “Subway”, “Breathe Easy”, “Smoking Gun”.