Tag Archives: Maine Rock Bands

#BandcampGold-Scapegoat by KGFREEZE

#BandcampGold-Scapegoat by KGFREEZE

by Dan-O

As someone who is fanatical for music I do not resent the layer on the outside of the onion of interest. The layer on the outside is composed of folks who just like songs going behind them: they don’t know the artists, album, and producer and that’s a valid way to live. The layer underneath them is the problem. The poacher who checks pitchfork and follows up only to find “classics” to brag about. Beyond how annoying the condescending “Have you heard __” conversation is, it puts pressure on artists to always seek perfection which is not how art works.

The poacher robs the process of transitions.

The new KGFREEZE project Scapegoat is a perfect example of this. It is the slimy nerve-racking birth of something new not the last sanding away of rough edges. The Freeze has always been the name Kyle Gervais created for his own solo career; the players rotate underneath him while he pushes furiously in different directions. His will and vision was always centerstage but like any good coach he plays to the strength of the team he has at the time. Now is definitely the time for his new line up.

The components have vastly changed and Scapegoat is a project of adjustments and experiments. It was recorded live in a warehouse with very little tweaking.  Chris Gervais comes on as drummer and brings palpitating new wave urgency to every second of his play. Chris likes it loud and once Nate Carll was brought in they were able to go to new places within the term. Nate worked with Kyle in the band Cosades back when Iphone was how Tarzan asked to make a call. I met Nate Carll once and he was so normal it was shocking but the scary part is how potent his guitar wizardry is.  Of the ten songs on Scapegoat On The Hill is his baby from foot to teeth and it is gorgeous. Very few people are allowed to take up Kyle’s authorship space on a KGFREEZE album and On The Hill shows you why Kyle has the faith he has in Nate. It rolls around in guitar noise until the noise takes on shape, form and a light dance. Kyle comes in with his most delicate vocal delivery of the project and for two minutes and nineteen seconds it is a different world from any KGFREEZE song before it. It is indicative of the sweet to savage and back again Siamese Dream-ness of the new Freeze; the ability to get crazy while promising never to lose melodic focus.

Sanks is the most recognizably Kyle song on here and has an absolutely fantastic chorus. The title track fits well within the heard Freeze-verse but not everything on the project works as well. On the con side of this experiment Seyton is a novelty exploration of Pantera screaming and hard rock that the band is just not going to explore. It is a thing they wanted to do and did but doesn’t have any legs to it. Bark For Me, Tom is an infidelity concept song that doesn’t have enough lyrical bite to make up for how bland it sounds compared to the punchier songs.

The punchier songs are the real building blocks for this group. They could go a bunch of directions. My favorite songs are Connection and Insanity both a little over a minute long and indicative of this groups ability to actually give us a polished Costello style Get Happy; something that showcases short electric elegantly constructed songs in great number. They could push the volume and the guitar hero riffs of songs like Freeway of Drugs and see how large and anthemic they could make a full polished project.  Either way they should not record like this again. It was a great way to showcase the difference in loudness, force his audience to buy better headphones, but in the future vocal overdubs will help Kyle’s voice stay comfortably over the sea of sound.  This is not the album poachers will brag about but it could be signifying one is on the horizon.

Stream or Download Scapegoat below:

https://kgfreeze.bandcamp.com/

 

#BandcampGold-Ferret by Dominic and The Lucid

#BandcampGold-Ferret by Dominic and The Lucid

The most terrifying thing I’ve ever encountered as an artist is falling out of my groove. Everyone gets to that place in life where they realize that their creative process doesn’t need to be perfect it just has to make sense for what you are doing. Once you do it a few times over a short period of time you’ve found a groove. When you lose the groove, desperation settles in where instinct resided and in the sweaty rush to get it back, that desperation keeps you a long way from the groove (since it was established with a clear head and now you’re a basket case).

Dominic & The Lucid certainly had a groove going. Waging The Wage set the template for rocking right into the hearts of jam band/phish fans. Season of The Sun is so wholly secure in its psychedelic rock identity that it straddles the line between comfort serenity and boredom. The collective established a wrinkle free sound that’s calm became its own worst enemy. Do you ever want to clothesline a stranger just because you’ve had an awful week? Nope, not in Lucid-verse. The closest I came to being a Lucid fan was on 2011’s The Lucid. That album was such a fractured, miserable and broken emotional journey that I finally felt the third dimension of emotions being exposed; something undesirable (example: excommunation).

Their new album Ferret is not the old groove, but the continuation of a separate one. It brandishes all the warmth and awe for the world, the tools you know them for. Listening is easy to do but it’s different this time. Once the drums crash on Apex Predator you know things have changed. Dom’s voice is still a stunning weapon he uses to make low stakes jaunty songs much more important than they should be (example: Catnip Curious). Stoned In The Suburbs is tremendous and displays a melodic intelligence that allows Dom and company to actually sound like later stage Beatles; not because they are trying but because the skill sets align.

Hell no, I don’t understand Ferret. The title track is a minute and twenty eight seconds and sounds like the score for an Italian 70’s horror film. A great score but….why is this the centerpiece? 11 Week Heartbeat is an incredible feat in every way you can gauge: machete sharp songwriting matched by pitch perfect vocal delivery, and like the rest of the songs on Ferret it really moves. New sounds shift in and old ones shift out, the song doesn’t just sit there from the first thirty seconds on. Contrast that with the scaled down, simple folk jam Madawaska (which is exactly what you think it will be from the title), contrast that with the radically loaded musical experience of Commodore Snakevision; smashing drums, super catchy chorus and it only lasts one minute and eighteen seconds…WHAT?! The Boy From Avignon has a Spanish almost Fanta label vibe and is assuredly over my head, I think he starts singing in French.

These guys ( Dominic Lavoie, Nathan Cyr, Charles Gagne, Scott Mohler) achieve a really interesting album through the confusion I’m describing. Even when I fall out of knowing why things are happening I trust them to do it and that trust pays off. Weird is exciting and weird is definitely Ferret. When the didgeridoo jumps into You Can Sing just like it did in 1993 when Calogero locked eyes with his first love on the bus in A Bronx Tale it put a smile on my face. Royale Milky is so perfectly reminiscent of the world Dom created on the first ShaShaSha album, the one that got me really interested in him and them and figuring out the difference, figuring out the strength in both.

I’ve listened to Ferret with at least three generations of people who all enjoyed it. Dominic does roar on this, he does give you real emotions; he turns the music in directions you don’t expect and traverses the distance from band to audience that psychedelic music leaves. Even in a sweet tone You Can Sing is really sad and unsuccessfully hiding its anger as he asks over and over “why are we rivals?” with a tone that mixes pleading and distaste. Very few artists in my local environment are as fearlessly capable of creating embarrassingly beautiful vocal performances. Dom cares and owns that.

All of this is just me biding my time before I declare that Solid Gold Julian is my favorite thing right now. His voice really sounds like Prince going full on glamorous bar band. The guitar work is fantastic. Ferret makes such absolutely brilliant use of John Maclaine on trombone and Chris Chasse on Trumpet. Since everybody loves the nice guy he has his pick of who to work with and he’s made a full return in wanting to surprise. He went back to ShaShaSha to find his groove. When I interviewed him he told me he just started doing the ideas that sounded good and that might sound easy but for an artist working on new music for the first time in five years, it’s a mighty accomplishment. This is really really exciting because I’ve been wanting him to surprise me for a while.

The videos for Apex Predator & Catnip Curious are below

Purchase Ferret below:
https://thelucid.bandcamp.com/

#ThemostBandcampGold​-Sinister Vibes by Afraid

#ThemostBandcampGold-Sinister Vibes by Afraid

by Dan-O

I have specifically not reviewed a lot of music that I loved just because I didn’t feel like my words were good enough to capture its flavor. Sometimes I really regret it, couldn’t let that happen with Sinister Vibes. I’ve been making a concerted effort to highlight more of the interesting music coming out of Portland, Maine and the reason I’ve taken such a vested interest is Sinister Vibes.

Afraid is a trio of guys from Portland but that’s all I know. I was knee deep in hip hop mixtape reviews needing some rock to spice up my playlist. This album became a touchstone I came back to all through 2015. A lot of the reviews on the album do a wonderful job describing how spooky it is but that’s not what is so interesting about it. As Riverbank Summer ’75 ends the song halts so wind can turn into ominous outro. It’s the kind of masterful world building that Black Sabbath used to do with rain sounds or wind.

Sure the first time you hear Acid King the organ is creepy and he’s talking about maggots singing, the chorus sounds like a chant you hear before a cult kills you, but the more you hear it the more impressive the overpowering mood becomes. This universe is so sharply defined you can see every inch of it vividly. The audio mix is so admirably done that no sound has to fight to be heard. Every note is born precious and striking only to crumble and fall away.

Visions from The Holy Cross Cemetery is stunning thick and soupy. Hometown Strangler doesn’t even really get interesting until a minute and a half in (nine minutes total). Sinister Vibes hits spooky on the head because its patient enough to know that spooky is something the music and the audience have to wait for; tension has to build. Every instrument is used to its greatest effect (example: Babyfangs ’77). The whole thing is a glorious experiment in doing what you want to do and having faith that the audience will catch up to it.

It was a year where we lost Lemmy, Bowie, and Alan Rickman three beloved entertainers. They were beloved because they represented an individual vision that you couldn’t get anywhere else. No one in the world would have played Hans Gruber like that or dedicated a rock anthem to their road crew. Sinister Vibes lit my fire for the same reason, after loving it I knew that my local scene included music as meticulous and pained as the 8 minute song Wonderland but I was also sure I wasn’t going to find anything the rest of the year like this album. It made me wonder how many other people living right near me were taking chances like this. The answer is still more than I would have thought but not enough.

stream or download Sinister Vibes below:

https://afraid.bandcamp.com/album/sinister-vibes

#BandcampGold-Interrobang by Jargon Party

#BandcampGold-Interrobang by Jargon Party

by Dan-O

You could pour what I know about the Emo music movement into a thimble and have room left. What I do know and enjoy is surf rock from The Ventures to Surfer Blood. The new EP from Jargon Party, Interrobang, is Emo taken to the beach and lightyears different from the self-titled debut album.

Jargon Party is the vision of weird voiced Zach Lewis(the Rex Harrison of Jargon Party) and on that debut album he plays guitar, bass, and keyboard while holding down the vocals. It’s not a bad album at all somewhere between the thousands of tagged music genres its bandcamp promises it sounds like. Mr. Lewis fell into some luck when The Other Bones and Volcano Rabbit went to the history books and gave Jargon Party a strong guitarist (Eric Schnare) and bassist (Dustin Graham). The additional manpower allowed Lewis to kick into a different pace. The universe of Interrobang is a thousand times larger than the one he built by himself (no shots at the first album it’s really nice, check it out here https://jargonparty.bandcamp.com/album/jargon-party ).

This Jargon Party release has an incredible sense of movement. Far too often rock songs are static; within the first few seconds the beat is laid down the riff is pronounced and that is that. For the next five or six minutes you listen to the sounds repeat themselves as if your all standing in an elevator listening to the floors ding by. From the very first song (Do You) on Lewis has a sense of adventure in his voice and the music behind him shifts and pauses lunging in again after him. Alright is a showcase for the mighty Jake Erskine who is a damn champion drumming his way from the back of the song to its forefront until you can hear the sweat flying from his head.

I think Surf Rock Anthem Number 7 is the song that is being put out there. For my ears it’s the least adventurous most straightforward of this four song set. That being said it’s still quite muscular with guitars blazing like old west six shooters in a gun fight. I’ll always find Halseywood to be the centerpiece of Interrobang; that’s the song where Zach hits his oddball cartoon character voice zenith and the vibe is so intoxicating that no matter where I am…I’m piling in the back of some crowded Jeep with giggling knuckleheads on the way to pleasantly waste our time.

These are four really big songs and I sincerely hope the band only gains sonic size from here. I think they know how different this stuff sounds and I can only hope they keep exploring the open space they’ve created.

Stream or Download Interrobang below:

https://jargonparty.bandcamp.com/album/interrobang

#BandcampGold-Bad Moves EP by Cool Tara

#BandcampGold-Bad Moves EP by Cool Tara

by Dan-O

This three song set kicked off a pretty cool discussion of the most necessary/underrated parts of a rock band in my house. That’s not coincidence either. While Cool Tara sometimes fall back into the anyone-can-do-this two minute punk song(new ep is going to be 7 songs 18 minutes according to the band) you can hear all of the elements so clearly and distinctly separate while the song progresses and puts them together.

The song Moriarty was a key turning point in me needing to recommend this. I realized after a while that I was humming Chris Gervais drum pattern from my LEAST favorite song on the EP. That’s how profoundly important a great drummer is. If your vocalist sucks that can be your style and it can work but the drums are a brittle situation. To quote my wife “At its worst your drummer is a metronome and it’s best your drummer is an artist making decisions and leading the song.” This isn’t taking away anything from Matt and Gabe on guitar who slam at all the right points or Kara on bass. It’s just a different sound. Art Blakey and The Jazz Messengers change your definition of jazz when you hear them because you’ve never heard the drums start end and own like that before. At their best Cool Tara are really weird. Pig Of A Job is a beautifully indulgent 70’s jam that sounds like it should be seated next to a Chicago song. I want them to make more Chicago songs! Take a listen and then come back to it. See if Egg Sandwiches doesn’t stick to you like a stalker.

stream or download Cool Tara’s-Bad Moves EP (name your price) below:

https://cooltara.bandcamp.com/album/bad-moves