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.


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!