Take Five

Live Music

I was lucky enough to win tickets to Tuesday’s sold out Stars show at the Paradise from Clicky Clicky. I still remember how I first discovered Stars — I pulled their album “Heart” out of a giveaway box at a radio station my friend worked at. I liked the simplicity of the names of both the band and the album. Who knew that album would grab me and never let me go?

I had never seen Stars live before, and they didn’t disappoint. The first half of the show featured their new album, “The Five Ghosts,” played in its entirety. It’s a fun, danceable, synthy affair that I can’t wait to crank up this summer. Then, after a short break, they played a string of hits which they said were selected by the fans, including “Ageless Beauty,” “Elevator Love Letter” and “Your Ex-Lover is Dead.” The crowd was great and supportive, the band was excited and energetic, and the show was simply a joy. Throughout the evening, the band tossed white roses into the crowd, as if we were the ones being feted.

Frank Yang at Chromewaves gives some background about Stars’ decision to extensively tour on the album before it was even released — not to mention playing the whole thing in a block with no one having heard it before. They’ve also opened up one of the tracks from the album for remixing, and will feature what they declare to be the best one.

Sure, Stars have gone about things a bit unconventionally, but you know what? No one in the sold-out Paradise Rock Club seemed to mind.

Here is the first single from the new album, “Fixed.”

Live Music, Part Two

On Sunday, May 30, I attended the Boston Rock BBQ, a gathering of local musicians, bloggers, publicists and others invested in the local music scene. It was held at the Bridge, a recording studio in North Cambridge.

The event was a fun, chill time with great food, ample beverages, and nonstop music. The open jam was a real treat, as various musicians took the stage to form impromptu Led Zeppelin cover bands, cover songs by the Pixies or perform their original fare.

I finally got to meet Ryan of Ryan’s Smashing Life fame, see a few friendly faces and a encounter a few new ones. I saw Tab the Band and learned about Zumix, a nonprofit dedicated to helping youth build community through music and the arts (the raffle at the event, featuring donations from bands, blogs and local businesses for prizes, benefited Zumix).

Thanks so much to the organizers for bringing us all together on a beautiful day. There was a great sense of community on display — one of the things I like the most about the local music scene.

Finds of the Week

  • Levi’s has organized the Pioneer Sessions, recruiting artists ranging from Nas to She & Him to the Dirty Projectors to  to “re-craft the classic songs that inspired their sound.” You might end up on the Levi’s mailing list, but the covers released to date have proven more than worth the price of admission.
  • Trent Reznor is back and the debut EP by his new project, How to Destroy Angels, is available for free download.
  • At the Boston Rock BBQ, I met Bernie Conneely, who runs the local music scene website Melody Matters. He also regularly records video at concerts, which he posts on the Melody Matters YouTube channel.

In the News

  • A locally-developed platform called Riotvine, which finds and aggregates local events and tells you which of your friends have plans to attend, has teamed up with Foursquare to tie in a location-based marketing component. Now, for instance, a band could see who is at a show and reach out to those fans with real-time rewards, such as free tracks. BostInnovation has the details on the partnership, as well as earlier coverage of Riotvine.
  • One thousand dollars can buy you a custom-made Juliana Hatfield song.
  • Miss Lala already? Grooveshark wants to give you a shoulder to cry on with free access to its premium service.
  • Gorilla vs. Bear is among the half dozen music sites joining the BuzzMedia collective.
  • The Grinding Tapes mix CD exchange deadline has been extended to July 2. Bad news for me who really wants to hear everyone else’s mixes, but good news for you if you want to participate in a cool project!

Second Thoughts

I still remember how I felt after writing my first Take Five post after a long hiatus from music writing. The only way I can describe it is that it felt like coming home.

Since then, I have committed myself to posting a Take Five post every Friday, and with the sole exception of the week I was in England, I’ve adhered to that plan.

But I think I’m ready for the next step. I’m thinking of new dimensions not just for Take Five, but for this blog. And I would love for music writing to play a larger role.

No decisions yet, but I just wanted to let you know that my brain gears are turning.


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