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Tuesday, April 05, 2011

The Best Thing Since Sliced Pizza

Heya, folks.

Here's the latest from local trash-pop auteur Joey Pizza Slice, a bizarre little video for his song "Fresh Baguettes." Because nothing says "I love you" like the gift of crusty bread, especially when aided by a sign language interpreter — y'know, for those who can't read gigantic lips. Take it away, Joey. 



Thursday, March 24, 2011

Signs of Life: Rough Cut

Howdy, Solid State.

For the past couple of months, videographer Elizabeth Rossano (of "Alice Eats" renown) and I have been working on developing a music video series for Seven Days, tentatively titled "Signs of Life." The idea is, well, kind of a ripoff of the Take Away Shows — which I adore and have touted on numerous occassions on this here blog. What's that saying about the sincerest form of flattery?

Anyway, the gist is that rather than doing straight-up concert videos, we wanted to capture local musicians performing in unusual locations around Vermont, or in scenarios that simply speak, in some small way, to life as an artist in our oddball little state. We have a couple of sessions in the books and hope to start rolling these out on roughly a monthly basis, at least to start.  

Here is a rough cut of a session we did with Farm at their rehearsal/studio space, the Cave of Legends, underneath Ben Maddox's shop, the Flying Disc, in Enosburgh. Keep in mind that this is by no means the finished product. But before we officially launch the series, we were hoping to elicit some constructive feedback from you, dear readers. Did we blow your freakin' mind? Is there something in this video you feel just doesn't work? Anything you'd like to see more of? Less of? Whatever your thoughts, we'd love to hear 'em.

Without further ado, here's Farm.


Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Around the World in 199 Seconds

Here's the latest DIY vid from local MC Aleck Woog of hip-hop collective Rurally Urban Records. The song is called "A Perfect World" and will be featured on Woog's upcoming album, due out next month. Enjoy! 


Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Signore e Signori … Maryse Smith!

On the heels of last week's post suggesting song placement in TV commercials is supplanting radio play as the way new bands are broken to mass audiences, this spot featuring local songwriter Maryse Smith singing the Beatles' "Hello Goodbye" for a Telecom Italia commercial comes at a weirdly appropriate time. If my theory holds true, clearly Smith is about to be HUGE in Europe.

How'd it happen? Apparently, Guster's Ryan MIller, who does this sorta thing in his free time, called Higher Ground's Alex Crothers looking for suggestions when he discovered TI was searching for a female vocalist for the spot. Crothers mentioned Smith, who promptly recorded a version with Miller, and bada bing bada boom, Maryse Smith is an Italian superstar. She even beat out an actual Italian band for the honor. Neat. 

Here's the commercial. And complementi, Maryse!


Wednesday, February 23, 2011

We've Secretly Replaced Split Tongue Crow With …

There's a theory circulating among culture pundit that the way bands become commercially successful these days is no longer via radio play or touring, but ad placements. There's some truth to the idea. Turn on the tube and wait for a commercial break, and you're bound to hear a hot new indie band or two being used to plug a Kia or Target superstore. In fact, music from every act nominated for a Grammy in the "Best Alternative Rock Album" category appeared in a commercial hawking something in 2010. 

Typically, ad folks will pull just a catchy tune from a band's catalog to suit their Don Draper-esque needs. But what if companies commissioned bands specifically to write, or rework an existing jingle?

Coffee giant Folgers recently put out a call for musicians to rework their well-known jingle for a chance at $25K and an appearance in a Folgers commercial. Rutland indie-folk outfit Split Tongue Crow answered the bell. Here's their entry:


Friday, February 11, 2011

Oh Snap

In my column last week, I left you with a riddle: "What is red and white — like really, really white — has 16 arms and loves you?"

This week, I promised I would share the answer here on the blog today, as revealing said answer in print would violate the only real rule my eds have ever given me: not writing about projects with which I am involved … in the paper. Due to the wonders of Facebook, and the general closeness of life in a small community like Burlington, this almost feels anti-climactic. It seems there's already a decent buzz around the event in question. But a promise is a promise. So without further ado …

Q: What is red and white, has 16 arms and loves you?

A: The Ginger Snaps.

(smattering of applause and confused murmuring)

For more on this developing story, let's bust out an old-school FAQ, shall we?

Q: Um, OK. So, who, or what the hell are the Ginger Snaps?

A: So glad you asked! The Ginger Snaps are VTs finest/only all-redhead all-star band. They're playing their one and only show this Monday, Valentine's Day, at Club Metronome with Kyle the Rider and the Human Canvas.

Q: Wait … really?

A: Yes.

Q: All redheads? Are there really enough of you to make up a whole band? 

A: And then some. Though finding a drummer proved tricky.

Q: So, if you're involved, does that mean we've drastically lowered the bar on just what exactly qualifies as an "all-star"?

The Ginger Snaps A: Probably. I'm undoubtedly the weakest link. But the only reason I'm mentioning this at all is because the caliber of the rest of the band is pretty noteworthy. When you get people like Bob Wagner, Swale's Amanda Gustafson and Jeremy Fredericks, Heloise and the Savoir Faire's Rob O' Dea and That Toga Band's Tyler Minetti all on the same stage, cool stuff is bound to happen. Plus, we've got a pair of killer backing dancer/vocalists in Trena Isley and Myesha Gosselin. Next to those cats, my only real qualification for being in the group are my raven tresses. 

Q: Hold on a sec. O' Dea is bald, and Fredericks ain't a redhead.

A: That's not really a question, but I'll enlighten you anyway. Both O'Dea and Fredericks were gingers as kids. We have photographic proof. Once a ginger, always a ginger.

Q: Fair enough. So are you guys just doing Willie Nelson and Rick Astley covers? OhSnap

A: Not at all! We actually have a set of about 12 original tunes, written by gingers, for gingers. Some titles include "Everybody Knows the Beach Fucking Sucks," "Does the Carpet Match the Drapes," "Little Red Haired Girl," "Fetish" and "Sunblock Cockblock." We'll also probably toss in a love song or three to satisfy Cupid's bloodlust.

Q: Hey, Neko Case is a redhead, right?

A: Sigh …

Q: This is wacky. Who's dumb idea was this?

A: That's open to debate. Though the specific origins are unclear, what is known is that the idea developed between Bob Wagner and myself over way too many beers at Radio Bean last fall. Max Schwartz, late of the Jazz Guys, is rumored to have been an instigator as well. I maintain it was all Bob's fault, er, idea.

Q: $1000 question: Are you guys any good?

A: We'll see. At the very least, it'll be an interesting show. Plus, there is the very real possibility that this gig will be our collective undoing in Burlington. Do you really want to miss that? 

Q: Last question: What is the preferred nomenclature here? I mean, is it OK to use the term "ginger"?

A: Great question. Let's ask Tim Minchin:


Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Good 'n' Plenty

The ever-industrious lads at Angioplasty Media continue to expand their growing empire of awesome with the announcement that they are now getting into the label biz. Their first project is the latest from local indie duo Parmaga — whose tumblr page is pretty hilarious — the Ryan Power-produced Ghost Pops EP. The EP hits shelves on 3/18. In the meantime, here's a sweet little pre-released cut from the disc, "Plenty Hands" that you can download for free at the band's website. Enjoy!


Plenty Hands


Thursday, February 03, 2011

"Pastor" by Joshua Panda

Note to self: don't have dinner at Bob Wagner's house — or, for that matter, mess around with his, erm, "lovely" daughter. 


Wednesday, February 02, 2011

You're the Best Around. Or, Smokin' Poll

Nothing rewards the tireless labors of love put forth by struggling musicians like subjecting their deeply personal art to the rigors of competition. Or in other words, the reader poll. For how else would one divine which band is "the best" in any given field from among the flood of musicians vying for our auditory headspace? Aside from, you know, actually listening to them, of course. But I digress.

Our friends over at the Deli New England have just such a reader poll on their website, designed to figger out, once-and-for-all-or-at-least-until-the-next-poll, just who, exactly, is the "Best Emerging New England Artist." The poll, which closes today, comprises a lengthy list of Yankee bands both relatively unknown and of wider acclaim. It also includes a fair number of VT acts: Villanelles, Rough Francis, Blue Button, Spirit Animal and Butterfly Starpower, among others.

Reader polls, generally speaking, are harmless enough. They don't really mean all that much beyond the victorious band being able to pad their press sheet with some snappy accolade. It's like high school superlatives for grownups. If Blue Button or Villanelles aren't named "Most Likely to Succeed" or "Most Likely to Marry Their High School Sweetheart," I doubt Jason Cooley or Tristan Baribeau will lose much sleep over it. (Eric Olsen on the other hand …)

My only real problem with this kind of electoral folly is that it tends to reflect less how a band is perceived by the local listening public at large than said band's campaigning prowess. For example, the leading vote-getters of DeliNE's current poll are Brothers McCann, a Boston-based roots-pop outfit with VT ties (they'll be at Red Square this Friday), and the Wandas, also Boston-based. As of this writing, the groups have tallied 1044 and 940 votes, respectively. Or, a whopping 46% of the total votes cast. The next closest band is Wally Sickert and the Army of Broken Toys (great name), followed closely by our own Blue Button, with 449 (10%) and 395 (9%) votes, respectively.

Are the McCanns and Wandas really that much more beloved in New England than the other nominated acts? Probably not. But they might be savvier than most. Both groups have links to the voting site prominently displayed on their web pages and have pimped the contest via other social media outlets (Facebook, Twitter, etc.), making it easier for their fans to stuff the ballot box. In other words, they were more effective at motivating their bases than their peers. I don't mean to take anything away from whichever band wins — they're both polished acts, and a crafty marketing sense is important for working bands — but it seems a rather hollow victory when the results feel predicated less on sheer musical ability than PR acumen.  

Thursday, January 27, 2011

A Protopunk Guide to the Queen City

Rough Francis recently gave the folks at Fuel.TV a quickie tour of Burlington, highlighting their favorite haunts in and around the Queen City for a show called "Green Label Experience." Among the destinations were Nectar's, Manhattan Pizza, Radio Bean and, no surprise here, the Monkey House. Word is the band has a new release in the works that they hope to unveil this spring. In the meantime, here are the brothers Hackney getting all Lonely Planet, Burlington-style.


Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Vacant Stares

GOSPEL ALBUM ART front cover The Vacant Lots are scoring some love around the Interwebs on the strength of their newly released Confusion 7-inch. I suppose that'll happen when you spend the summer touring with Sonic Boom's Spectrum, and then sign to a killer label (Mexican Summer). 

Following a Pitchfork Forkcast blurb earlier this month, today Pitchfork's sister site Altered Zones dug a bit deeper with some high praise for the local psych-duo as well as an MP3 of the vinyl single's B-Side, "Cadillac." Check it out


Thursday, January 20, 2011

Splitting Aces

If you've read this week's edition, you know I'm rather enamored with the debut offering from Rutland's Split Tongue Crow. Essentially a revived version of late Queen City outfit Will — minus Connor McQuade, plus vocalist Cara White — STC picks up where that band left off a few years ago, boasting clean, twangy hooks and gorgeous vocal harmonies. STC are touch more subdued, veering more toward melancholy indie-folk than their rowdier alt-country predecessor. But they are also far more polished and refined. I dig it.

The band has a string of loccal dates coming up, starting with this Saturday's gig at the Shelburne Steakhouse and Saloon. (Yes, really.) In the meantime, here's a clip of Split Tongue Crow's "Horizons," from their newly released self-titled debut. Enjoy.



Thursday, January 06, 2011

Battle Stations!

This just in from Middlebury:

American Flatbread, 51 Main and Two Brothers Tavern are joining forces to host a monster Battle of the Bands in early April. The opening round of the town-wide showdown begins Thursday, March 31 and runs through Saturday, April 2. Bands selected to compete will each perform once on one of the three nights. Winners from each evening's rocking will advance to the final round, to be held Saturday, April 9, at which point they will fight to death, er, rock out for the right to be named the opening act at Middlebury College's annual Spring Concert. Middlebury's Student Activities Board has yet to announce this year's headliner, but it's a safe bet it will be kind of a big deal. Past performers have included the Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Cake, Wyclef Jean and … Naughty By Nature? Really? Wow. Midd kids, apparently, are down with O.P.P. 

If you, or your friend's band that is really-really-awesome-and-ohmigod-you've-just-gotta-hear-them would like to compete, applications can be submitted at But hurry. Applications are due by Wednesday, February 2.

The early favorite to win it all? Wyld Stallyns!


Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Sara Grace & the Suits: Requited

Perhaps you've noticed, but there was not a new edition of Seven Days stuffed into area newsstands this week. As we do each year, the last issue of 2010 was a double issue, covering both this week and last. (Though if you're jonesing for your "Free Will Astrology" fix, you can catch this week's forecast on the 7D site — the stars, of course, don't take vacations.)

Much to our collective chagrin here at "Vermont's Independent Voice," just because we stop working for ten days doesn't mean you folks stop making news. Or in the case of my particular bailiwick, music. So I would be remiss if I failed to bring to your attention Requited, the brilliant new record from Sara Grace & the Suits, which will be released this Saturday at Burlington's FlynnSpace. Enjoy. [DB]


Sara Grace & the Suits, Requited

(Self-released, CD)

Vermonters didn't have to wait long for a great local release in 2011. For years a well-kept secret of central VT music fans, Montpelier-based roots-soul collective Sara Grace & the Suits are set to unveil their hotly anticipated debut album, Requited. Richly orchestrated, imaginatively crafted and expertly executed, the record is a tour de force, revealing the explosive talents of a dynamic local songwriter and serving as a declaration that there may well be more than one Grace to watch for in the Green Mountains.

As its title suggests, Requited is a meditation on finding and then somehow keeping love. The lead track, "Angel," adresses the former with simmering intensity. Asa Brosius' steel lines lap against Ray Paczkowski's organ trills, while a gentle acoustic guitar bobs along in the eddying current. Grace is subdued but compelling as she introduces us to her title character.

"An angel fell from the sky and slipped me a key. / I know she's not mine, not meant for me," she sings, a barely perceptible quiver lacing her delivery. But the promise of love is that even amid despair there is hope. She closes the verse singing, "I need it all, so open the door," as if imploring the chorus of exultant horns that follows to deliver her from self-doubt.

After the ornate arrangements on both "Angel," and the following track, "The Tide," "Behind Shadows" feels bare by comparison. Though the song features a leaner assortment of players, it is nonetheless a deeply nuanced composition. In addition to her veteran backing band, the Suits, Grace has enlisted a wide assortment of guest stars — including vocalist Miriam Bernardo on the lead cut. Here, Anaïs Mitchell's uniquely skinny timbre provides a steely counter to Grace's rich, somber delivery.

Grace was an original cast member in the theatrical productions of Mitchell's folk opera "Hadestown," the star-studded studio recording of which catapulted Vermont's Righteous Babe to international acclaim. Not surprisingly, Grace seems to have taken a few cues from the experience. In particular, her ear for sly, subversive arrangement bears resemblance to that of the opera's aesthetic architect, Michael Chorney, who appears on the record numerous times on baritone sax. The multi-instrumentalist and composer rounds out an impressive horn section that also features trumpeter Brian Boyce, tenor saxophonist Terry Youk and trombone prodigy Andrew Moroz, who, with Grace, co-wrote the album's striking horn arrangements.

From start to finish, Grace proves a sturdy, if direct songwriter. But what sets her apart, what makes her special, is discipline. Rarely are her wounded musings overwrought, and rarely are her more joyful moments — fleeting though they may be — earnest or cloying. Similarly, though she is quite obviously capable of jaw-dropping vocal acrobatics, she is judicious in the deployment of her considerable ability. She teases and flirts, favoring measured cool over inflated histrionics. Of course, that tantalizing tension only makes the eventual release more satisfying, as on the scintillating album closer, "Woman Sweet Woman," which burns and bends with smoldering blues fire as Grace finally indulges her elite chops. Requited, indeed.

Sara Grace & the Suits — and a slew of special guests … wink wink — celebrate the release of Requited this Saturday at the FlynnSpace, 8 p.m. $15.



01 Angel

03 Behind Shadows


Thursday, December 09, 2010

Coming Attractionz

This just in from ya boyz at 4Word Productions: the trailer for an upcoming animated video from BURNTmd and Akrobatik. Suck on that, Harry Potter.


Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Tasty Leftovers: Arthur Brooks

Once again, ace freelancer Matt Bushlow checks in with some spare parts from his story on trumpeter Arthur Brooks appearing in today's paper. These "Tasty Leftovers" are part of a continuing series Bushlow is writing for his own blog, in which he shares some extra bits and pieces from his various freelance projects, including for VPR and, of course, Seven Days. This is his second such post for 7D, and his third in the series overall. Take it away, Matt. [Ed-DB]


Arthur Brooks About two weeks ago, I interviewed trumpeter and composer Arthur Brooks for a profile that ran in today's issue of Seven Days. Brooks studied music at Antioch College in the late 1960s and later worked with two pioneers of what was called the New Music, or free jazz, movement: pianist Cecil Taylor and trumpeter Bill Dixon. It was Dixon who brought Brooks to Bennington College in Vermont, where he taught for nearly 25 years before retiring in 1997.

Our conversation spread out over decades - from the October Revolution in late-'60s New York to Dixon's death earlier this year.

As these things often go, I couldn't include everything in my profile of Brooks. Luckily, thanks to the magic of the Internet, I can include a few of my favorite excerpts below. Enjoy.

On music as an art form:

"There are basic questions that I feel have to be addressed if you’re trying to do music as an art - as an art form. And that is basically, what is music? Where does it come from? And that’s personal. For me, that’s a personal pursuit. There are spiritual and philosophical aspects of it, and that to me is what the finest music manifests - those deeper areas. It doesn’t matter what form. It can be classical, it can be country, it can be folk. If the person doing it has a certain amount of integrity and you can hear that soul element, that’s what does it for me. I’ll listen to heavy metal if those people are tapping onto that basic core...."

Explaining why he describes his music as "country" music:

"Go down to the lake. Look at the water. And listen to it. Listen to what you see. God, up here in Vermont you’ve got these mountains that have their own shapes and rhythms, and along with the rest of everything else going on.... One of the exercises I used to give my students was for five minutes a day, no matter where you are, stop, focus all of your attention here [points to ears] in what you hear, and let it extend your hearing as far as you can. And let it absorb it, be aware of it. Go to the woods, go to the lake. "

On his mentor Bill Dixon's involvement in the October Revolution, a protest of clubs by free jazz or "New Musicians":

"Bill was also the architect of what was called The October Revolution.... Its design was to boycott all the clubs and festivals to get a better deal for the New Musicians. [John Coltrane] was a part of it, Cecil [Taylor] was a part of it.... Again, the model had already been set by the post-Modernist painters in New York. When they - Rothko, Kenneth Noland, [Robert] Rauschenberg - couldn’t get their work into regular galleries. They said, “Okay, we’ll pull our stuff out and we’ll make our own galleries.” And they kicked ass. [Laughs] They made it happen. Of course, they had some very wealthy patrons, too. We never really got that.

On playing with Cecil Taylor:

"I was kind of intimidated with playing with Cecil’s Unit, because the music is so high, so technically demanding in a certain kind of way, at least the rehearsals were, but when we got on the gig, it was [makes a “takeoff” sound and motion with his hand] pew! Cecil’s sets last for an hour, two hours, and I said, “I don’t know if I have the chops for this.” And it would be this whole universe of sound open up, and you’d be there watching yourself play and the horn is playing itself, and Cecil’s just in front of you, behind you, on your side, above you [makes more sound effects, like Cecil is zipping around him while he’s playing], just urging you on.... And we’d finish and you’d think, wow, you’ve been playing maybe 10, 15 minutes - maybe 30 - [but it was] two hours. And you finish and you can’t say anything because you’re so high. It’s amazing. And every single time I’ve played with Cecil, it’s been that way. ... And that’s what I aim for. That’s what I want, is to reach that state where the music is just revealing itself. To me, at its best, that’s what you do: You become the instrument. You put yourself in position where you become the instrument."

On where he believes the music comes from:

"I probably come from a Sufi concept of what sound is: That sound is one of the elements of the soul, that it’s the connection between heartbeat and the soul; that music is a very other-dimensional manifestation of being. I think that’s why it moves us so much, because it transcends us. If one can believe that - even if one doesn’t believe that the heart is propelled by something other than massive chemical reactions - that the heart is connected to this stream of energy that exists, that stream of energy, to me, is music. That’s why I love nature so much, because that’s a more authentic stream of energy, a less man-made stream of energy."

Friday, November 19, 2010


I doubt you've heard of them, but apparently there's this new band called "the Beatles" that Steve Jobs just discovered and is pimping like crazy all over his flash-in-the-pan website iTunes. Me? I don't really get it, what with all that moppy hair and the funny accents and that vulgar sound. Can't imagine they'll have much of a future. Besides, this rock and roll thing is just a fad. Gimme some Mitch Miller any day. Now there's music.

Anyway, apparently the kids dig it. For example, kids like Rubblebucket, whose cover of "Michelle" was just named one of the 50 best Beatles covers of all time by Paste magazine. Check it out …





Thursday, November 18, 2010

Ryan Power Redux

Greetings, Solid State.

If you're reading italics at the head of a post, that usually means we have a special guest contributer — granted, it has been a while though. Today, freelancer extraodinaire Matt Bushlow checks in with some overflow material from his most recent 7D piece on Ryan Power. Take it away, Matt. [DB- ed.]


250-Ryan_Powers Tasty Leftovers #1: Ryan Power

Over the years I’ve found that there are almost always great bits and pieces left over from interviews I’ve done with musicians and sources (the folks who go on the record about a musician’s backstory, talents, etc.). These are usually insightful stories or quotes that, for one reason or another, just don’t fit into the larger story.

I’ve decided to start posting these tasty leftovers at a new Tumblr called Tasty Leftovers. There you can find little anecdotes, thoughts about recent interviews, and perhaps even some audio. I will also be posting all of my Seven Days-related Tasty Leftovers here at Solid State.

Let’s get started. I wrote a profile of Ryan Power for the 11/17 issue of Seven Days. You may have read it. Power’s talents run the gamut: He’s an accomplished and original songwriter, performer, guitarist, and engineer/producer. As part of my research for the profile, I emailed several musicians he has worked with and asked them to contribute their thoughts on his work in all its forms. I could only use two short quotes in the piece, but there was so many recollections and kind, honest praise for the man that I wanted to include some more of them here.


Matt Bushlow


Burette Douglas, The Cush

We played at a party at Brett Hughes’ old apartment in Winooski. We didn't know anyone there except Brett, but the place was full of people. I think it was Creston [Lea] who introduced himself and we got to talking, then Ryan wandered by and he joined up in the conversation. Ryan and I really started to hit it off when we started talking about recording music. Recording is a real passion of mine and when you find someone else that is into it, you could talk all night. Which we did. At that time he hadn't yet released his first album. So we were all pretty new to town.

A little later we were still working on rounding out the band. We knew that Ryan could play just about any instrument so we asked him about playing keys for us. He said that sounded good. Over time he ended up playing keys and drums for us.

Ryan is a superb musician, he really knows music from the inside out. He knows all the technical parts as far as reading music and such. But he goes 100 percent off of vibe. He is so much fun to play live with. He really gets into it.

He quit playing with us full time once he released his first album, but we continued to play with him in Rock ‘n’ Roll Sherpa and he would sit in with us on drums from time to time. Although he didn't play in the band, he was still like a member in the band. He mixed New Appreciation For Sunshine as well as The Lonestar Chain album. He has golden ears, and has such a natural knack for mixing music.

We always bounce ideas off of each other and can talk for hours about recording. He is one of my favorite human beings. Truly a humble genius.


Brett Hughes, Monoprix, Honky Tonk Tuesday

I finally got to play with him some in The Cush. I somehow found myself playing drums in the band, and he was on keys, playing parts I assume were mostly written by Gabby and Burette. Ryan plays pretty much everything, and he's got a great ear for phrasing and nuance. I loved his playing in The Cush: He held the songs together dynamically, and I took a lot my cues from him.

I love his songs, his singing, playing and arranging, and of course he's also a really talented recordist, engineer and producer. I'm jealous as hell.


Chris Weisman

I first noticed Ryan in Michael Annicchiarico's freshman ear-training class at UNH in 1995. He had long hair and sat in the back and I had a crew cut and sat in the front. Mike would be going through the answers to a series of test questions and he always said "Who got that?" and had people raise their hands as he went along so he could gauge where the class was at. As the examples got harder it would just be me in the front and him in the back reluctantly raising our hands. That was the beginning of the twins thing.


Tristan Baribeau, Villanelles

Ryan Power absolutely transformed how we heard our self-titled album, VILLANELLES. We had been mixing and playing with things for a long time before we brought Ryan in, and the man just has a way with sound. He was able to make things sound much more "organic" in the mixing process, which only comes with plenty of practice and patience. And on top of that he really is just the nicest guy.

He was always very eager to work things out, based on our budget and time frame, and was always appreciative for the opportunity to work with us. I have no doubts that I will use the resource that is Mr. Power for upcoming projects, because there really isn't anyone better in the area - and his resume proves that.


Kyle Thomas, Happy Birthday

When we first started talking about recording, Ryan mentioned to Chris [Weisman] that he would love to help out if we wanted. I was used to doing everything myself, so I thought it would definitely relieve some stress for me to have him come help, and we all appreciate his recording skills so we asked him to do it.

He has a really great ear and he's not afraid to say if he likes something or doesn’t, which is really important in music production - having someone who doesn’t just say everything is great.

I think he was most important in the mixing process. There were about five months or so where I was just sitting alone in my studio working on the record and adding too much shit. When I brought it up to Burlington and mixed it with him, he just started subtracting shit and all of a sudden the music was breathing again and it sounded so much better. He really is great at mixing. It’s definitely extremely important to have an outside ear to give constructive criticism. And dang he is charming and attractive too!


Seth Eames, Eames Brothers Band

Ryan and I go back awhile now, [to] right around the turn of the century. He has played drums on some gigs with us over the years. We also recorded a couple of songs for the Gezellig album with him holding down the beat.

Mostly though, Ryan and I are good friends. I have high respect for his music. His ability to translate what he hears. His songs are funky, abstract and honest... Recording with him recently was mostly just an excuse to hang out. Hopefully we caught some good music with his string of wires and tape, his raw sense of perfection and his serious humor.


Gabrielle Douglas, The Cush

The first time [Burette and I] met Ryan was at a party and my first impression of him was that he is such a gentle soul. ... He is always able to lighten the room he walks into; he can provide you with a different perspective as if he is handing you a cookie; and his intentions with creating music are genuine, honest and compassionate. ... He has an incredible ear for music and his ideas always made logical sense with the emotional feel of the music.

I love Ryan. He is like a brother to me and I miss him very much.


Casey Rae-Hunter, communications director, Future of Music Coalitionfounder, Contrarian Media; former Seven Days music editor; dark lord

When I first encountered Ryan's music it was a pretty random thing — like, a CD coming across my desk at Seven Days. Pretty much instantly I knew Ryan was a genuine talent. I started to hear his name being mentioned among my musician friends, and after I reviewed his disc, I made it a point to check out his live sets. Those were pretty excellent, too.

The thing that was difficult for me as the music guy at the local weekly is that it really made it tough for me to be involved in the scene as a musician and to connect with the local artists on that level. It's like there's always an artificial wall between you and the musicians, even if they respect you. Having been very involved in the local scene for a number of years as a player, it was kind of frustrating. The thing I loved about Ryan was that he had no airs — he was a genuinely open, gracious dude who didn't treat me like I was some kind of outside entity. When we talked about music or whatever, he was always humble and on the level. Not trying to bullshit me or sell me on anything. How refreshing! 

We ended up working on records together occasionally, but not actually together. I'd sometimes do post-production on sessions he recorded or mixed. I think he's got real talent there, too. Good ear, light touch, not afraid to experiment. He's also someone that other artists feel comfortable around, for all the reasons I mentioned

The only thing about Ryan is that I am still a bit jealous of him! I haven't listened to his new record(s) because some of my old Burlington friends are like, "have you heard Ryan's new album," and I think, why put myself through that? I'm only half-joking. Duder's like all smooth and creamy and handsome and talented and bearded and all the cool shit. Plus he's a really nice guy. Fuck that!

Seriously, though, he's a real gem and I will always appreciate having had the opportunity to listen to him and witness some of his artistic evolution. Tell him to send me his stuff so I can sob silently in the corner.


Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Wooden Dinosaur: Live @ Iron Horse

In an effort to get a jump on 2010 year-end round-up stuff — yeah, it's really time to start thinking about it — I've recently begun sifting through reviews and records, trying to compile my local favorites from the year that (almost) was. It's actually been surprisingly fun to rediscover albums that I dug at the time, but have receded from memory in the unending Sisyphean grind that is the newspaper bidniss — you're eternally on to the next thing almost as soon as you've finished the last. 

One such record in which I've thoroughly enjoyed re-immersing myself is Nearly Lost Stars from Brattleboro's Wooden Dinosaur. It's a marvelous effort, showcasing a truly lovely duo, Michael Roberts and Katie Trautz. It features a broad array of stylistic influences, all filtered through Roberts' unique folk lens. In other words, I really, really like it.

Anyway, Trautz was kind enough to send along links to videos from a recent Halloween show at Iron Horse in Northampton. MA. Here's my favorite of the bunch, "Paper Cars."


Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Where Do We Go From Here?

Howdy, folks.

I'm kinda shocked I have never posted this before. But I have a nifty little story about the continuing rebirth of proto-punk band Death in tomorrow's paper (that includes a cameo from a VERY special guest). So before you read that — and hopefully catch the band at Higher Ground this Thursday — I thought you might be interested in this trailer for the documentary that local filmmaker Jeff Howlett is putting together about the band, Where Do We Go From Here???. Check it out — and, full disclosure, there's a good possibility yours truly will end up in the film in some fashion. Just thought you should know.

Also, if you read this before noon, do yourself a favor and drop by the band's press conference at 242 Main today, noon to 1 p.m.


Where Do We Go From Here??? Trailer from Howlermano on Vimeo.


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