Preview: Brenda "Silver Tower"


Brenda makes classic, American indie rock - and they do it well.  The Portland Maine band caught a huge break when Jeff Tweedy took a liking to their still yet-to-be-released debut record, Silver Tower, landing them a spot on the bill for the Wilco-curated Solid Sound Festival.  After spending a few days with the record, I know what Tweedy sees in these guys.

Silver Tower owes a heavy debt to 90s indie rock.  Packed with guitar hooks, bouncy bass lines and major-chord progressions, it's obvious that these guys have worn out their Pavement and Guided By Voices records.  But, that's just one of many influences at play here - there are also hints of folk-rock, power-pop, and 60s pop melodies.  Ghandi and Intro (the curiously named fifth track) are soaring anthems that wouldn't sound out of place on a Band of Horses record.  Pill Hill starts with a frenetic guitar and hi-hat attack before suddenly changing into a meandering, mellow jam.  Across The Bay is a swaggering slow burn that breaks down, finds a tight groove and then builds to a distorted, discordant finish.  It's this build and release that makes Silver Tower so dynamic and so interesting - just when the band settles into a groove they shake things up and take a new direction.  Despite the laid-back vibe, the band is tight and musicianship is fantastic.  

There's a lot to like on Silver Tower; you will probably hear pieces of a lot of your favorite bands in these songs, yet they still sound fresh and new.  This is elemental indie rock, music for record junkies - my kind of music.  Highly recommended. 

The first two tracks off Silver Tower are available for stream and download below, along with a great video for Blackout:

Brenda - State Lines
Brenda - Blackout

Silver Tower is out on Mckeenstreet Music on July 29th.  Catch Brenda at the Nateva Festival in Maine on July 3rd and at Wilco's Solid Sound Festival in western Mass in August.


New music: Peter Wolf Crier "Inter-Be", live review

Peter Wolf Crier at Great Scott in Allston (6.14.10)

Peter Wolf Crier is just a duo, but they make a very big sound.  Their debut record Inter-Be, recently re-released by Jagjaguwar, has totally knocked me out.  At the core these are organic folk songs influenced by early rock n' roll, soul and Phil Spector's wall-of-sound - the lazy comparisons are M. Ward or Bon Iver (especially considering Peter Pisano's bell-clear falsetto).  However, drummer Brian Moen's dynamic percussion shares the spotlight here, adding another dimension to these songs.  Like The Dodos and Local Natives, rhythm is at the forefront - adding texture and propulsion to the songs.  Enjoy the first two tracks off of the fantastic Inter-Be here:

Peter Wolf Crier - Crutch and Cane
Peter Wolf Crier - Hard As Nails

Before Monday's show at Great Scott, I was curious how the duo would be able to pull the songs off live.  When the pair opened with Crutch and Cane the answer was obvious - the songs sounded even better live.  More intensity, percussion even more upfront, and an incredibly layered sound made possible by bass pedals and vocal looping.  Don't miss Peter Wolf Crier when they open for Heartless Bastards at the Middle East on July 17. 


New music: The Young Veins "Cape Town"


I thought it appropriate to post this track from the The Young Veins as the World Cup is getting underway in South Africa.  The band formed when Ryan Ross and Jon Walker defected from emo-pop band Panic! at the Disco, citing creative differences.  The music is retro garage-pop and the songs tend to be a bit more rough-around-the-edges than their previous band (in a good way).  "Cape Town" sounds to me what like Vampire Weekend might sound like if they listened to more Kinks than Peter Gabriel and Paul Simon.

The Young Veins - Cape Town


New Music: Deer Tick "The Great Smoke Off" + live bonus tracks

Deer Tick's newly released Black Dirt Sessions delivers another solid album of raw, shambolic bar-band-roots-rock.  When my limited edition vinyl arrived today, I found an unexpected bonus CD with the curious title "The Great Smoke Off".  Turns out that it's a hilarious story song about a Yankee Stadium ganja showdown.  It's completely ridiculous, but also a lot of fun.

Deer Tick - The Great Smoke Off

Also including a few tracks from Deer Tick's recent set opening for Dr. Dog at the Paradise.  This is a soundboard recording, but the quality is sub-par due to almost no guitar going through the soundboard at all, which is why I'm only posting a few select tracks.  Included is a great new MG&V song "Me Me Me", two brand new Deer Tick songs (not included on Black Dirt Sessions) and a great version of Diamond Rings from War Elephant, performed by John McCauley solo.

Me Me Me (MG&V)
New Song? (Ian O'Neil on vocals)
Born At Zero (new song)
Diamond Rings (John solo)

Newly remastered and fantastic-sounding recording of Dr. Dog's set from the same night is available here.


New music: if and it "Cicada Sunset"

"Cicada Sunset" from Portland's if and it is a beautiful slice of folk-pop that is perfectly suited for the warm summer nights that lie ahead.  The simplicity of the song is what makes it work so well - fingerpicked acoustic guitar, shuffling percussion and singable lyrics.  A perfect campfire song.

if and it - Cicada Sunset

Get if and it's fantastic new record Buffalo Heart here - highly recommended.



visible voice goes to Sasquatch


visible voice has returned from the Sasquatch Music Festival, and it has to rank as one of the greatest weekends of my life.  As festivals go, it was like a smaller, indie-er Bonnaroo -- but the breathtaking views made it completely surreal.  While I went primarily as a fan, I vowed to return with some content for the site.  My photos somehow didn't really capture the atmosphere of the festival (those two above might be the best of the bunch), so I decided to put together a roadtrip video.  I hope you enjoy:


First half recap: my favorite albums of 2010, so far

It's already June, and that means it's time to take step back and take stock of the new music that has come out so far this year.  Force ranking art is completely arbitrary - records impact me differently each time I listen to them, so how can I fairly rank one against another?  Therefore, I've decided not to do that.  Instead, consider this a list of records that are well worth checking out, in no particular order.

Wooden Dinosaur - Nearly Lost Stars

Nearly Lost Stars from Vermont's Wooden Dinosaur is hands down my favorite discovery of 2010 (so far).  These are rustic, plain-spoken and often heartbreaking songs of love and loss.  Roberts' fingerpicked acoustic guitar and weathered vocals are the constants, but shuffling percussion, banjo, fiddle, lap steel, horns and the occasional electric guitar add layers of sound.  The result is an absolutely beautiful record that deserves to be heard by the masses.  Buy it here, and tell your friends.

Wooden Dinosaur - Can't Be Me


Dr. Dog - Shame, Shame

Dr. Dog continue to put out consistently great records, and Shame, Shame is no exception.  Like Fate before it, Shame, Shame shows the polish of a maturing band, and features a steady dose of bouncy folk-pop grooves.  Shadow People, Jackie Wants A Black Eye, Mirror Mirror and Stranger are standouts, but the entire record is fantastic - this has rarely left my car CD player since I got it.  Get it here.

Dr. Dog - Shadow People

Full soundboard recording of Dr. Dog's recent show at the Paradise in Boston available for stream/download here (newly remastered).


 Spoon - Transference

I love it when a band follows up a commercially successful record with a bit of a curveball - a challenge to the new fans.  Don't get me wrong, Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga is a fantastic record from start to finish - but Transference trades in the sugar-sweet Stax hooks and Spector-ish production for decidedly less-accessible influences; twisted rythms and wiry Tom Verlaine-esque guitar leads.  Still, it's unmistakably a Spoon record - driving percussion, gritty guitars and devestating grooves.  Get it here.

Spoon - I Saw The Light


Josh Ritter - So Runs The World Away

I consider Josh Ritter one of the most important songwriters of our generation - one of few worthy of carrying on the tradition of Dylan, Springsteen, et al.  2007's The Historical Conquests of Josh Ritter, probably the most "fun" and upbeat record in the Ritter catalogue, seemed a bit like a bit of a breather after the epic Animal YearsSo Runs The World Away is a return to the cinematic storytelling and intricate compositions that made the Animal Years an incredible and moving record.  Buy it here.

Josh Ritter - Southern Pacifica


Titus Andronicus - The Monitor

The Monitor has been positioned as a loose concept album based around the Civil War, complete with marching drums and readings of period-era speeches.  However, the Civil War pretense seems to only shift focus from the real story - this is a deeply personal account of a defeated man returning to the home he once wanted to escape.  Less than a minute in Patrick Stickles sets the tone for the record, subverting the Springsteen anthem of optimism and escape, screaming "baby we were born to die!".  The result though, through fist-pumping choruses and cathartic singalongs, is rewarding and satisfying.  Get it here.

Titus Andronicus - Theme From "Cheers"


Not to be forgotten:

The National - High Violet
Kingsley Flood - Dust Windows
Joe Pug - Messenger
Crusaders of Love - Never Grow Up
The Morning Benders - Big Echo



Dr. Dog: Paradise Boston 5.12.10


Dr. Dog brought their energetic live show to the Paradise last Wednesday for the second of two sold out shows.  As I watched from the balcony, the stage was a blur of bright lights and neon.  The songs were grittier and played with more intensity than the album versions, and came in rapid-fire succession - there were almost no breaks whatsoever.  The packed crowd danced to a set that was expectedly heavy on tracks from 2008's Fate and the just-released Shame, Shame.  Having seen Dr. Dog a few times now, I was impressed by how far the band has come in recent years - the rag-tag underdogs from Philly now have a deep catalogue of bouncy folk/psych/pop gems, a reliably excellent live show and dedicated, rabid fan base.  

Fantastic full soundboard recording of the show is available for stream/download below.  Thanks to Dr. Dog and their top-notch sound crew for the great recording.  If you download this please support the band by going to see the show when they come to your town, and go buy Shame, Shame if you haven't already.  Enjoy!

Dr. Dog
Paradise Rock Club - Boston MA
May 12, 2010

Mirror Mirror
Hang On
The Old Days
Army Of Ancients
The Way The Lazy Do
Shadow People
The Ark
The World May Never Know
I Only Wear Blue
Unbearable Why
The Beach
The Breeze
The Rabbit, The Bat and The Reindeer
The Girl
Shame, Shame
Jackie Wants a Black Eye
Die Die Die
Fat Dog
Easy Beat
Heart It Races (Architecture In Helsinki)
My Friend

Full set downloads:  mp3 zip  


visible voice at Sasquatch

visible voice is heading out to the Pacific Northwest for the Sasquatch Music Festival.  I got shut out for press credentials, so I'll be going rogue and getting whatever content I can via non-professional still + video cameras. will be quiet for the next few days - but feel free to follow @visiblevoicebos on twitter for live tweets from the festival.

Also taking this opportunity to post one of my favorite tracks from a band that I will be seeing live for the first time at Sasquatch:

Pavement - Gold Soundz

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