Tag Archives: grinding tapes

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.


Take Five

I missed Take Five last week because I was in England, but I’m back! Here are my thoughts on all things music this week:

Finds of the Week

  • Yesterday morning, WERS bewitched me again. They played a live version of Dire Straits‘ “Expresso Love,” perhaps the first Dire Straits song I’ve heard outside of their big hits. And I fell in love. Before I went to work, I ordered their album “Making Movies” and placed a couple others on my wishlist. It was one of those moments where everything clicked and I wondered why I hadn’t pursued the Dire Straits back catalog earlier.
  • Boston-based record label Grinding Tapes, which specializes in limited edition and handmade pressings of “socially relevant music in both analog and digital formats,” is adding a new twist to the ol’ promotional compilation. They’re combining the distribution of their compilations with a mix tape/CD swap. The idea is genius. Send ’em three mix CDs (could be three distinct mixes or three versions of the same mix) and $7 for shipping ($5 if you want a less pretty version of the promo disc), and this summer you’ll receive three random mix CDs plus the promo disc. They will begin accepting submissions on Apr. 16, the same day they open a two-night showcase at the Armory in Somerville.
  • I was delighted to see, on April Fool’s Day, that MBV’s Ryan Catbird shared the video to Nelson‘s “Love and Affection”. True confession: I really liked this song when it first came out. And… I still kinda do. No joke.
  • The New Pornographers song “Crash Years,” from their forthcoming album “Together,” is available via iTunes. As good as “Your Hands (Together)” was, this song is an even more promising glimpse at the new disc. May 4 can’t come soon enough.
  • Music for Ants conveniently bundled new songs by the National, the Hold Steady and LCD Soundsystem in one tidy blog post. Enjoy.

Live Music

On my first day in London, I was jet lagged beyond belief. After having lunch with a friend of my mom’s at the National Portrait Gallery, I retreated across the street to St. Martin-in-the-Fields church to wait out the rain and maybe doze a little in the pews. The church regularly hosts concerts, and I was lucky to encounter a free, open rehearsal for that evening’s concert by London Concertante, a chamber music ensemble. Now, I’m not well-versed in classical music, nor am I a great appreciator of it, but I have to say, that was a fine way to spend a rainy London afternoon. I was impressed by how lush and powerful their arrangements were. Here’s a not-so-great photo of the rehearsal.


My next day in England, I went to Greenwich. I spent some time in a coffee shop, reading the local free lifestyle mag Short List. While reading, I came across a blurb for the band Local Natives, described as “an urban Fleet Foxes.” When I got back in the states, I downloaded the recommended track “Airplanes,” and Short List did not lie. The LA-based band offers catchy grandeur wreathed in harmonies and wonder. Read more about Local Natives from Brooklyn Vegan.

New Releases

Newbury Comics is selling the new, Steven Page-less Barenaked Ladies album for $7.99 this week, but given how steadily the group has gone downhill — and especially with the departure of Page — I was hesitant to throw my eight bucks at it blindly. Luckily, AOL Music is really good about offering free full-album streams of new releases. So I listened to “All in Good Time,” and.. I’ll be spending my $7.99 elsewhere. It’s serviceable, and the band takes the opportunity of Page’s exit to shine a greater spotlight on the talents of Kevin Hearn and Jim Creeggan. But given the high bar the band has set for themselves over the years, it falls way short. I hope they continue to find success, though. Barenaked Ladies is one of my favorite all-time bands, responsible for some of my most important musical moments.

In other news, last week I picked up the Weakerthans‘ new live album and the new Ted Leo, both of which were delightful.

Second Thoughts

Despite the warnings from Dave, I succumbed to AmazonMP3’s $5 offer for the new She & Him. And… yeah, I should have known better. I actually really liked “Vol. 1” when it came out, but it did not age well. “Vol. 2” is more of the same. Nothing horrible, but nothing new or great, either. Relatedly, Dave pulled one of the better April Fool’s pranks I saw yesterday, though you’d have to know him (and his unrelenting loathing for all things Zooey Deschanel) to get it.