Monday, August 30, 2010

Mrs. Robinson

Pomplamoose covers Simon and Garfunkel. A classic song, a clear voice, and gorgeous and simple instrumentation. I love this so much, and saying anything more would ruin it.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Last Minute Show

Does it count as a show if I walked less than a quarter mile to get there? Does it count if we got there late (my fault) and left early (friend's fault)?

Freshman orientation ends this weekend and there was a free concert on campus to celebrate. I weighed my options of "hanging out with scared freshmen" and "free music." A friend wanted to go and so free music won.

However I've made the comment before that I feel like I live a double life. There's one me that goes out to shows and stays out late and lives and breathes by music. Then there's the other me that is a complete workaholic and studies hard and is a gigantic science nerd. Neither one is a "fake" me, and neither one is a "real" me. They're both just me in different situations, but it means that I am uncomfortable merging the two into one person. So a show at school... is not really my cup of tea.

Despite the large amounts of awkward from being confused at which me I was and at being in a crowd of people I knew from school but don't really know, the show was good.

Dear Havanah
played first. They were sort of a clean version of Sublime. Their guitarist was great, and their drummer was awesome, but that's unfair to the bassist and vocalist who were also very good. Not my style, but I understand why I see them on local lineups all the time.

Bad Rabbits
played second and they had an amazing amount of energy. They were fun and tight. I loved "Stick Up Kids." I see why they're on lineups all the time too. The charisma and the music were both great. There were a few points where I forgot where I was and could have been at the Middle East, and it was a good solid set. They played a few covers scattered throughout but they bled so nicely into their set that I can't even remember what they were.

I'd give the show an A, and the crowd a C. Orientation leaders are programmed to be obnoxiously energetic, and my college is just full of awkward kids. It made for a weird night.

Thursday, August 26, 2010


Biology Major. Film Major. Fruit Fly Wrangler. Coffee Slinger. Teaching Assistant. Concert Goer. Music Blogger. Babysitter. Thesis Writer. Stress Baker.

College Senior.

Bring it, world. I'm going to kick your ass, and you're going to like it.

This is one of my absolute favorite songs. It's in the top three. I discovered it years ago in this fabulous commercial for Tab. Not only did I love the sentiment of the commercial (that being a hardcore woman takes a lot of energy, a notion I fully support), but I also fell in love with the song. It made it onto every party mix in high school and I forced everyone I knew to listen to it. There was, at one point, a choreographed dance.

This song always makes me happy, and makes me want to conquer whatever life throws at me. I just wish that I could understand what in the world he was saying...

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Venetia Fair

The semester is starting and the weather is horrible and I don't feel good and all I want is a loud rock show and a good crowd and a charismatic frontman. However Massachusetts is devoid of this kind of show. I have one lined up for November... in Rhode Island. I don't know how my concert schedule incinerated down to nothing. I want a rock show.

I think these boys would provide the kind of show I'm looking for.

They're called The Venetia Fair and they're from MA. I found out about them because they started following me on twitter, and they're not bad. They look like they'd put on a killer live show. However they have no shows scheduled.

Also on my "Want to See Live" list is My Chemical Romance. They need to get their acts together and put out their new album. So should Panic! at the Disco. And local bands should play some shows.

Give me live music.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Brighten - Love Me Honestly

I listen to a lot of music. I mean a LOT of music. That's why this blog is helpful, so that when I see that a band is playing at a local club, and I recognize their name, I can go back and see if I've seen them before. (The answer was yes, and I will not be going to see them again, based on my own review. That seems silly to me...) But it is impossible for me to blog about every song I listen to, and every myspace I run across.

Tonight, I was stranded. There was a song that I knew I liked about a year ago, maybe more, but I could not remember who it was by or what it even sounded like. I just recalled that it existed. I had very limited information to go on:

-It was by that band...
-Their album cover might have had a crown on it...
-The song was about love...
-I heard it on their myspace.

That describes 99% of the songs out there. None of this was helpful information. Trying to come up with any clue, I thought "Well, the band was kind of like A Cursive Memory." So I started at their myspace and low and behold, who was in their top friends: Brighten.

That was them, and this was the song. Funny how sometimes stuff actually works. I'm putting it here this time, so that I don't ever lose it again. I like it quite a bit.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Designer Shades Just to Hide Your Face

I've been driving a lot lately, meaning that a lot of radio listening has happened.

So Kiss 108 in Boston plays these commercials that show they have "variety." They go something like this: "We play everything from dance (Lady Gaga) to pop (Usher) and everything in between (Ke$ha)."

Dear Kiss 108,
That's not variety. Those are three top 40 artists, and the beats all sound the same. I don't mind that you're a top 40 station - you're on my presets for those times when I just want to tune out and not listen. Stop billing yourself as variety and sell yourself for what you're good at. You play pop music, just admit it.
Love, Alex

Anyways, this means my life has been invaded by some pop lately, except in Western Massachusetts, where 107.9 becomes what sounds like a prerecorded Spanish station...

I kind of can't stand most of it, but I'm in love with that song by Mike Posner, "Cooler Than Me." It's my new pop music groove and I love, love, love it.

"You've got designer shades just to hide your face and you wear them around like you're cooler than me." Love it.

And Ke$ha's new song "Take it Off" has been on the radio. Don't care for it much, but look at the video! She brushed her hair! She looks kind of hot and there's glitter everywhere. Better than that, they have a holi powder fight. Holi is one of my favorite parts of the spring, and I just love that it's in a music video, even for Ke$ha.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

The Pretty Reckless - Miss Nothing

So I have a lot of issues with this video and the band in general.

We can start with the fact that Taylor Momsen is 16! Only 16 and she is parading around in lingerie looking like a raccoon. A band member at Warped Tour, after seeing that Pretty Reckless was on my list of things to see ("I want to see if it's as much of a train wreck as everyone says it is") told me that every time he saw Miss Momsen, she was drunk and smoking, being held up either by body guards or the side of her bus. I want to hand her over to another Taylor, Miss Swift, for a day and hope that some sort good influence happens.

Also, Courtney Love already exists! You can't be Courtney Love, not even if you change your name to Taylor Love and marry a grunge rock star. The men in your band seem to be twice your age! Where are your parents? You're wearing lucite stripper heels with built in tip jars! Why is no one stopping you?

But I love this.

I love the sound breakdown for the bridge. I kind of love the lyrics and the rock. I love that she's a badass. It's so wrong, and I hate so many things about it, but I also love it.

What am I going to do with you, Miss Momsen? I feel like an intervention is in order, and I'm going to have to stock up on makeup remover and actual pants.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The Academy Is... - Pearl Street

The Academy Is… at The Pearl Street Nightclub in Northampton, MA – August 10, 2010

I’d forget everything in my life without my planner. Sure the back cover fell off months ago, but I have my life scheduled down to the minute in that thing. Which is why when I opened it Monday morning to look at the week ahead, I noticed the show I’d completely forgotten about scheduled for Tuesday night.

Northampton is in the middle of nowhere Massachusetts, about 2 hours away, so I snuck out of work early (justified by my 50 hours last week) and stayed straight on the Mass Pike for 77 miles. I met up with a girl I’d met at a Cobra Starship show almost a year ago, we made some new line friends, and we ended up standing about two feet from the stage.

The show felt like a VFW hall show. The upstairs room is a cavernous space with a horrible soundboard, and the small crowd was full of local kids. Combine that with the fact that the three openers were local rock and I would have sworn I was watching a high school show.

The first band up, The Smokey Wambas, practically bled Massachusetts rock. Not Boston rock, not Jersey rock, but Massachusetts local rock. I can’t describe the sound, but two songs in and I’d bet money those boys either shared a stage with Four Year Strong or spent a ton of time going to their shows. There’s just a sound and a feel intrinsic to suburban Mass. They weren’t bad, but they weren’t helped by the soundboard.

Us Against the Archers were my favorite of the openers. They were fun and they got me moving, and that’s what an opener is there for. Their guitarist was great and he reminded me of someone I know, though I just can’t put my finger on who.

Gone by Daylight was the last opener and they were also good, standard local rock. They had a bunch of fans in the crowd (as did the others) and they played a fast, hard set. Too bad they had tech problems, from a broken E string (oh that’s not important at all) to a broken bass strap (because you can play while supporting the guitar with your knee, right?) They handled it well, especially when the lead singer had to dash and find a new guitar, by jamming on stage. A+ boys.

Finally, The Academy Is… It was my fourth time seeing them and the sound was by far the worst, but I had the most fun. Give me dark clubs and music so loud that I can’t think and I’ll be happy. We were super close to the stage, but all the way to the right, so there was breathing and moving room around us. The sound was muddy and I couldn’t hear a word William Beckett sang for the first three songs, but both the crowd and the band were having fun. They played a good mix from the three full lengths and it was the first time I really appreciated anything off of Fast Times at Barrington High. I’m usually more of a Santi and Almost Here girl, but I was feeling it last night. Though they missed some good songs, they played “Checkmarks” and “The Phrase that Pays,” two of my absolute favorites. I was disappointed that they didn't play anything off of the Lost in Pacific time EP, as I'd hoped live versions would let me love those songs too.

The show ended on “Big Mess,” they walked off stage, and the crowd died. No calling for an encore, no clapping, no nothing. Strangest thing I’ve ever seen. My friend and I tried but everyone was just walking out. The lights came on and that was that. I haven’t seen an encore-less show without an explanation in a very, very long time, maybe ever. I bought a t-shirt, because it had cupcakes, and it’s the first piece of merch I’ve bought at a show since 2008. I seriously think I was transported back to a local high school show. Awesome, but out of place.

I love late night driving and so powered by caffeine and the buzz of the show in my head I drove the 77 straight miles back with a smile on my face, searching FM for voices talking on the radio.

Monday, August 9, 2010


I don't know where to begin.

When people ask what my favorite band is, I reply Weezer. Always. The Blue Album is my favorite album and it probably always will be. That album hit me around 14, the time when an album can truly change how you view the world, and it did.

But. Lately. Look, Weezer, I will always love you. Honest and forever. But the past few years.

I loved The Red Album when it came out, I did, but then it faded off my playlist a bit. Then Raditude came, and I loved the first five songs, I really did, but the rest of it didn't really stick with me. The cover was a picture of a dog jumping over a coffee table. I think there was too much weed involved in that decision.

Your next album is called Hurley, and has a picture of Jorge Garcia on it. I don't know what to say, Weezer. I don't get it.

The first single is good, though. You can listen to "Memories" here. And this is what it's all about, the music. I don't care what it looks like, as long as the music is good.

I'm just saying I don't get it, and that I think you may have become the poster band for why weed is bad for your brain.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Sucking Too Hard On Your Lollipop

I'm three years late on this, but one of my roommates was playing this before we left for work last week, and I swear I danced the whole way there. (Really, it's like a three minute walk, and I shimmied and swayed up the street, much to my roommates' amusements.) It put me into such a good mood and it's so damn catchy. Be prepared to shake your shoulders.

Lollipop - Mika

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

"Brian Fallon is a God"

The Gaslight Anthem at the House of Blues Boston – August 2, 2010

The first part of this story is here. I went to two shows on the same tour, to compare and to revel in music.

So here’s the thing about the openers the second time around. I was singing along with Tim Barry, and his songs have been stuck in my head ever since. I couldn’t tell you a thing Chamberlain sang.

This time, Tim Barry had a girl named Liz come out and play the violin with some of his songs and it added a great feeling and dimension to it. The crowd loved him. The girls next to me were going crazy over him, to the point where a woman behind me asked who he was. I was a little curious too, because even though I liked him, I couldn’t understand how so many people knew all the words to the songs by some dude with an acoustic. The drunk flailing girl informed us that he used to be in Avail. Oh. It makes so much more sense now.

Chamberlain was Chamberlain. Brian Fallon came out to sing with them at one point, a slow song with soul that sounded nothing like the rest of their music. When he came out he turned to the drummer and said “Hey Curtis, it’s a blues riff in B, watch me for the changes and try to keep up.” I love that the references and integration are a part of who he is, not just a gimmick for the albums.

And The Gaslight Anthem was amazing again. This was the show where “Great Expectations” began to mean something to me.

Brian talked a lot about Boston. I’d heard him comment on how we’re a tough city before, and he always give props to The Might Mighty Bosstones, but I thought maybe he did that to every city. He certainly didn’t to Providence, so his praise of Fenway Park and our tough, upstanding citizens made me smile even bigger.

I love them live. But here’s where my story of Gaslight picks back up. I’d seen the video for the “‘59 Sound” a few times on SURS way back when, but it took a while for it to stick. When it did, I bought the CD and listened to it. I didn’t love it at first, and put it aside, but kept coming back to it. By the time it had engrained itself into my bones I’d missed Brian Fallon’s acoustic show at the Middle East.

I’ve only found one other person who has heard of The Gaslight Anthem, outside of Steven Smith, music magazines, and people at shows. The same acquaintance from high school who recognized my “Paperface” quote on facebook had the line “You were gonna be my Judy Garland, We were gonna share your tin man heart” as his facebook status one day. He’s someone I took almost all of my classes with, but barely talked to, someone I think I could have been friends with had I been the same person then that I am now. I commented that I loved The Gaslight Anthem. He wrote back “Brian Fallon is a god.”

True. I keep coming back to the phrase “soul and story.” I’ve never heard so much of both in music before, such honesty and openness.

Do yourself a favor, and catch them live. It’s the best show of the moment and you will not regret it.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Harder to Breathe

Maroon 5 at Mohegan Sun, Uncasville CT – August 1, 2010

I just got home from a 13 hour work day. Thank god that didn’t happen yesterday, because I had tickets to a Gaslight Anthem show, and I so would have ditched out early.

But on Sunday, I drove down to Uncasville (seriously, that’s the town name) to see Guster and Maroon 5. We were seated very, very far away, and relied on the big screens a lot, which was disappointing. The acoustics in the arena were also terrible, but more on that later.

First up was Ry Cuming, from Australia. Oh, he thought he was such a rock star. He wasn’t bad, but the denim ensemble and guitar face made me laugh a little. The arena was barely half full when he came on and the crowd was old and dead.

Next up was Guster. I didn’t realize how many Guster songs I knew. They’re very chill rock, and I loved “Barrel of a Gun” and “Satellite” which I didn’t know was their song! I love that the drums are big bongos and that there are no drumsticks. They broke down one of their songs to play the guitar solo of “Don’t Fear the Reaper” and not only was it extremely well done, but Maroon 5 came out playing cowbells during it. So funny.

Here’s the video for “Satellite.” It is amazingly well done, a great concept and execution. I love stop motion.

The people behind us were completely rude. I think middle age adults might be the meanest people out there. They were booing and moaning and groaning every time a new song would start, complaining that they had to wait through the openers. They were talking over the music and being generally disruptive and rude. Not cool.

Maroon 5 is not a show I ever thought I’d see, but it was good. I always buy Maroon 5 albums and then skip by them on shuffle, but I knew a lot of the songs. They were a big pop concert with smoke and lights and shiny sets, and Adam Levine rocked the crowd. It was a very different crowd than I’m used to, a lot of housewives in shiny tops dancing drunkenly.

They broke the set down to do an acoustic portion, which I loved. It included an Alicia Keys cover and a foray into Tina Turner. Levine joked about Turner being an attractive woman and that their relationship might be a good rumor to start. Or not.

During the acoustic set they played “She Will Be Loved.” Throughout the night everything had sounded damp and a bit off, the result of the speakers trying to fill such a huge room. The bad acoustics were extrememly evident here. Levine had the crowd sing different sections of the song with absolutely no instruments playing. This was thousands of people singing all at once, and you could barely hear it. It was astounding how quiet it was. This lack of amplification was also evident by how little noise thousands of people were making when cheering and clapping. Not a great venue.

Disco balls and pop hits aren’t really standards of my concert experiences, but I danced and sang and had a good time.

A side note about my musical relationship to Maroon 5: I did like them early in high school, right back when I was getting my feet wet in rock music. A burned copy of Songs About Jane has been in my car for the past five years, though I don't know if it's been played in two. But "Harder to Breathe" will always mean something to me, and not for the reasons you'd think.

The song was a hit in 2002, so I was 13 or 14 when the exchange happened. This was the time of AIM, when we'd all spend nights up on our computers chatting about everything and nothing. I spent some time one summer talking with a boy I'd barely known before he dropped off the face of the earth. When he returned we'd have crazy discussions about life, as philosophical as barely teenagers get. He disappeared again shortly after.

His AIM profile was filled with the chorus of "Harder to Breathe." Every single time I hear it, I think of one of the last conversations we had. We were talking about the hard stuff, what happens when other kids lives weren't as shiny and clean as they always seemed. He asked me one question, the question he called the most important question of all, and told me I had to answer it, even if not to him, so that I would have an answer for myself.

"What do you live for?"

To this day, I think it is the most important question of all. I came up with something untrue and quick that night, but it made me think about the true answer, and makes me think about it every time "Harder to Breathe" plays. I have an answer, and you should too.

Sometimes people come into our lives for just brief seconds and though we may not remember them, and they won't remember us, the impact they have can ripple for years.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

We Came to Dance With the Girls With the Stars in Their Eyes

The Gaslight Anthem at Lupos, Providence, RI – July 31, 2010

First up was Tim Barry, a self described old dude with an acoustic. He was amazing. His songs were full of stories and sung with heart and intent. He got out and walked through the crowd while playing and talked with us through out his songs. It was this great, intimate, honest set. The last song he sang was about a man killing his sister’s abusive husband, and I almost cried. I’m not a crier and there were tears in my eyes from how pure the emotion pouring off of that guitar was.

Next up, Chamberlain. They were good rock, but they were not special good rock. They were musically talented and their singer has a great voice, but there was something a little off about it that kept me from connecting.

Finally, after some technical difficulties, The Gaslight Anthem came out to Jay-Z’s “New York.” They went against the trend of playing the current single last, and instead played “American Slang” first.

The Gaslight Anthem consistently puts on the best live show I have ever seen. There is so much emotion and soul and story pouring out of their music. I’m having trouble putting into words the way their music makes me feel. It’s honest and raw and hard working, and it just fills you with someone else’s sentiment while reminding you of your own.

I never love a Gaslight song the first time I hear it, but they work their way into my conscience and my heart and settle there, waiting for the right moment to erupt. That moment is often at their shows. “The Patient Ferris Wheel” never meant anything to me until I saw it live. The first time I heard “Blue Jeans and White T-Shirts” was with two drunk girls singing off key in my ear. “The 59 Sound” sends this cascade of energy through a crowd.

They played a lot off of their new album, as well as a cover of “The War" by Lucero with Brian Fallon trading vocals with Tim Barry. Both men sing with full hearts. They played almost all of their big songs, except for "The Navesink Banks" which left me just slightly disappointed, but the rest of my favorites made up for it.

They were pressed for time and so there was little talking to the crowd. The technical difficulties combined with a curfew lead to Brian Fallon telling us he was a little bummed out. They played the encore right after the set, no walk offs, to save us time and play us as many songs as they could. The Lupo's sign now has a Roxy sign above it, and I wonder if the old Roxy Boston has partnered with them? I remember seeing a show at the Roxy and having the same press for time as they had some club night afterwards. I hope this doesn’t destroy one of my favorite venues.

There’s so much more to my Gaslight Anthem story, my discovery of the band and how they’ve grabbed not just my heart but also my soul, but like the show I’m pressed for time and running late. And so that story will have to be continued with my review of Monday night’s show. I’m seeing two nights of the same tour, that’s how good they are live. I’ll leave you with why I first bought tickets to a Gaslight show.

Back before music television officially died, I was a religious watcher of Steven’s Untitled Rock show. I’d tivo it when I went off to college and come back and binge on hours of alternative videos. There are very few people whose musical opinions I trust: Steven Smith is one of them.

So when he told the audience that they had to go and see a Gaslight Anthem show, that they would be severely remiss if they did not, and that it was one of the best live shows of the moment, I took it to heart.

It might just be the best musical advice anyone has ever given me.