February 27, 2013

Niia - "BTSTU"

If You Like: Rhye, AlunaGeorge, Jessie Ware

Jazz-trained New York pianist and singer Niia has a voice that digs deep into the soul. Between touring with Wyclef Jean and performing James Bond-themed shows, she has been taking time to focus on her own creative efforts. She has released one single, "Made For You," from her upcoming debut album (due out this summer), but to me, it is her cover of Jai Paul's "BTSTU" that stands out. The chilling, minimalist beat floats behind her voice, stretched to its lower limits. Smooth synths add to the mix, making this the perfect sad, sleepy track to zone out to before bedtime. Enjoy.

Niia-"BTSTU"

February 26, 2013

Reviewed: Enslaved

The Sinclair, Cambridge, MA
Photos by Kaitlin Deveau

There aren't many posers in the Norwegian metal world. That corner of Scandinavia takes their metal quite seriously, producing some of the most extreme, heavy, melodic metal out there. In the diverse scene there, Enslaved are the cream of the crop, respected all around the world for their consistently intriguing use of growls, speedy bass drums, screaming guitars, and guttural bass, without forgoing strong melody.

After final opener Pallbearer left the stage and their equipment was whisked off, an odd emptiness covered the stage for over 30 minutes. The Norwegians were running late due to bus troubles, but when they eventually pulled in, the crew worked at super speed to ensure that they were able to play (albeit a shortened set). Despite the fact that they were only on stage for an hour, they used every minute of it, cramming in "Thoughts Like Hammers" and others from their 2012 album RIITIIR, fan favorite "Ethica Odini," and unearthing old black metal from their 1994 album, Vikingligr Veldi. The crowd's unrest about the late arrival quickly dissipated into moshing, crowd surfing, and awe at the group's huge stage presence.

They end their tour tonight, which is a shame for all of you out there who missed them, but have no fear! Twelve albums deep into their 20 year career they show no signs of slowing down. They are one of the most prolific metal bands, rarely waiting 2 years between releases. Lucky us!

See the rest of the photos here!

Note to The Sinclair:
The venue, located in Harvard Square, is Bowery Boston's brand new plan to capture bands that would otherwise play The Middle East and Brighton Music Hall. While the layout, size, and overall feel of the place is great, they should have figured out how to do the sound for a metal show before booking one. Opener Pallbearer's doom riffs sounded awfully sludgy and the vocals were completely lost in the mix. Enslaved sounded good in comparison, but still not great considering the intimate size of the venue. The Middle East has mediocre sound at best, and if The Sinclair wants to steal their thunder, it might want to step their sound game up a bit. Also the lack of security at a show where moshing was inevitable was quite worrisome. While some people don't mind a shoe to the head in the middle of a concert, I know I speak for others when I say that the venue should have kept things a little more under control. 

February 25, 2013

Shower Hour: Spring Show #4

Last night I entered the radio-sphere yet again to give you faithful listeners a roundup of my favorite music from the week. And it was a great week for my iTunes library. I played some new singles form Phoenix, Fitz & The Tantrums, and Jamie Lidell along with deeper cuts from Frightened Rabbit, The M Machine, The Paper Kites, and more! Listen to the show below. 

Listen to the show here!

February 23, 2013

The Milk Carton Kids

If You Like: Tyler Lyle, Ben Sollee, Bryan John Appleby

The Milk Carton Kids play the kind of folk that makes you want to cuddle up in your bed and dream of home. Joey Ryan and Kenneth Pattengale of Eagle Rock, CA conjure up quiet alt-country tunes so bittersweet that it sometimes sounds like the singers themselves might start tearing up. On their debut studio album, Prologue, they sing songs of the road and heartbreak, incorporating two minimal guitars and soothing harmonies. Luckily, they are no one-trick-ponies, livening things up just when you start to think calm is all they can do. They have recently been on the road with The Lumineers and Punch Brothers and are set to release their next record, The Ash & Clay, on March 26th. You can download their first two albums for free via their website.

Milk Carton Kids-"Michigan"

February 19, 2013

Help Us Win 'Best Blog in Boston'!


Every year, The Boston Phoenix runs a Best of contest, allowing people to vote for the best everything in Boston. One of the categories is for the best blog! Like this one! We weren't nominated for the award, but we can still orchestrate a come-from-behind write-in victory! We could use all the support we can get! Help us out by voting below. Remember, you can vote once every single day!

Thank you for all your support. Let's do this.

Under the 'Blog' heading, write-in writetothebeat.com
The click submit twice!
Vote for us here!

February 18, 2013

Reviewed: Meshuggah

Photo by Kaitlin Deveau

I get a huge kick out of seeing two completely different bands on the same stage. Two night ago, I saw Punch Brothers kick out bluegrass jams at House of Blues in Boston, and last night I headed back to hear progressive metal titans Meshuggah mesmerize the audience with their epic, intricate, mosh-worthy tracks. For those of you who don't know their music, Meshuggah stands out in the metal world a great deal due to their creative and awe-inspiring use of rhythm. Along with riffs that weigh a sonic ton, the long-haired (and one bald) Swedes divide up measures like no other. They give complex time signatures a whole new meaning, incorporating beats that only the most diligent listener can actually follow or replicate. All this combined with ridiculous technical skill (have you heard that bass drum action on "Bleed"?) gives you one hell of a band.

Their music, filled with down-tuned guitars and a whole lot of bass, is tough to pull of in a live setting, but their sound guy knew what he was doing and the group was so tight that the sound was as good as any metal show I have attended. The setlist focused a great deal on their latest offering, 2012's Koloss but also managed to squeeze in favorites "Shed," "Bleed,"and a huge encore of "Dancers To A Discordant System." While I was looking to hear my personal favorite "Rational Gaze," I understand that filling a set with songs that average about 8 minutes long is tough.

Though singer Jens Kidman has been battling a rough flu, his growls, while impossible to comprehend, were at full force. He had complete control of the rowdy crowd and is probably one of the few people who can actually get a crowd of 2,000 metal fans to be quiet and listen when he talks. These guys garner a great deal of respect in the metal community, and its pretty obvious why; they are consistent, among the heaviest groups out there, technically astonishing, and they put on a damn good show.

See the rest of the photos here.

New Song From Phoenix - "Entertainment"


Phoenix has just premiered the first single off their upcoming record, Bankrupt!, due out April 23rd. The track sounds like classic Phoenix and is catchy as hell! Do you think this is a good start to one of the most anticipated albums of the year? Check it out below and let us know what you think!

February 17, 2013

Reviewed: Punch Brothers

House Of Blues, Boston, MA

It is not often you encounter a true genius, but last night at the House of Blues, one stood on stage playing the mandolin. Last year, Chris Thile was a recipient of a MacArthur genius grant for his prodigal mandolin abilities and variety of musical endeavors. 

The mandolin maven led his group through a lively setlist that included Radiohead and Beach Boys covers. He has managed to surrounded himself with incredible instrumentalists, all of whom had their fair share of time to solo in the spotlight. They announced to the audience that this was their biggest show ever, revealing why all five of them were accustomed to being huddled around each other, never stepping outside a small carpet on stage. Their old-timey charm hit the audience like a bear hug that never let go. Mr. Thile was introduced to me years ago via Nickel Creek, his San Diego-based pop-bluegrass trio. When I saw them perform on their 2006 farewell tour, the encore included an epic mandolin rendition of a Bach piece for violin. Thankfully, this is growing into a trademark move for Thile and he obliged again, running through a lightning fast Bach partita like only a virtuoso could. 

Since his Nickel Creek days, Thile's songwriting has grown much more complex and innovative, now mixing wacky time signatures, dissonance, and classical influences with a classic bluegrass sound. Even though they all shredded with ease on their respective instruments, it was clear they were having as much fun as the crowd. Plenty of improvisation and extended bluegrass jams kept the show lively and proved their skills to everyone there. I have a feeling that if I saw them again tonight, the show would be completely different, giving a unique feeling to each performance that is rare these days. 

February 15, 2013

Reviewed: Lucius

Great Scott, Allston, MA

The lead singers of Brooklyn-based indie-poppers Lucius coordinated their hair not only to look the same, but so that when they each approached their mics, they were perfectly symmetrical. Now that is dedication. Strong pop songwriting, catchy hooks, and two mesmerizing lead singers combine to form one of the most exciting young groups I have heard lately. Kicking off their tour in Allston, they hit the stage with ferocious energy and proved that their brief debut EP is only the beginning of something much bigger. The vocals were stronger live than on the record, and if you take a listen below, you will know that that is saying something. Jess Wolfe and Holly Laessig's vocals wove nicely together, creating a sound that is better than the sum of its parts. If you're a fan of romping, catchy indie anthems, you don't have to look any further.

February 13, 2013

CHVRCHES

If You Like: Purity Ring, The Knife, Grimes

Purity Ring showed us that in this day and age, electro-pop can be creepy, weird, and fun all at the same time. Now, Scottish group CHVRCHES is adding to the subgenre with a poppier, more accessible touch. The track "Lies" incorporates videogame bleeps with singer Lauren Mayberry's slightly-accented powerful pipes while "The Mother We Share" chops up her voice and has a huge, stadium, echoey feel. Like Purity Ring, they have generated a huge amount of buzz from very few tracks. Check out why below.

CHVRCHES-"Lies"
CHVRCHES-"The Mother We Share"

February 12, 2013

The Lone Bellow Ticket Giveaway!


Want to win tickets to see The Lone Bellow, Jon Foreman of Switchfoot and more tomorrow night in NYC at Irving Plaza? We have two tickets that we are giving away to our readers! Here's how you can win them:

1. Head over to our Facebook page. Click 'Like.'

2. Share this post on Facebook. 

That's it! A winner will be chosen this evening and will be contacted through Facebook. Get sharing!

And if you don't win, don't worry! Tickets are available right here

To learn about our future giveaways, subscribe via Email or Facebook. 

February 11, 2013

Shower Hour: Spring Show #2

Last night I was on the air for the second time in 2013. My playlist was filled with fun new bands I've been digging lately. Lucius, Joshua James, The Lone Bellow, and CHVRCHES packed the hour with some of my new favorite jams. Stream the show below or listen to just the music on Spotify here!

Listen to Shower Hour: Spring Show #2

Hunter Hunted - "Keep Together"

If You Like: Grouplove, Milo Greene, Stepdad

In certain parts of the country it may be awfully snowy, but a little sunny indie pop from Los Angeles never fails to warm things up! Hunter Hunted is a two-piece from the Sunshine State that will have no trouble making you smile, dance, zoom down the freeway, and hope for summer. They have been featured on LA's KCRW radio station and will be playing at the Troubador in their hometown on February 12th. Stream their single "Keep Together" below.

Buy their debut EP right here.

Hunter Hunted-"Keep Together"

February 05, 2013

The Lone Bellow

If You Like: Delta Rae, The Civil Wars, The Lumineers

BAND TO WATCH. That phrase might as well be stamped all over the debut record form Brooklyn folkies The Lone Bellow. They have rising sensation written all over them. Their blend of folk, country, and rock bring Mumford & Sons to mind, but with male/female harmonies that will leave your jaw dropped, they captivate in a different way. They are less hoe-down and more classy indie party. While I haven't seen them live, be sure to check them out on tour with Ivan & Alyosha and Marcus Foster this Spring.

The Lone Bellow-"Green Eyes and a Heart of Gold"
The Lone Bellow-"Bleeding Out"

February 04, 2013

Shower Hour is Back!

Welcome back ladies and gentlemen! It has been a long 8 months since I went on the air with Shower Hour, and my first show back was last night! I played a wide variety of tracks that encapsulated my favorite new artists of the past few months. If you were unable to hear it live, you can listen to the hour below.

Listen to Shower Hour Spring 2013 Show #1