Tag Archives: Maine Rock

#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/

#Bandcampgold review-Leave It To Believers by Johnny Cremains

#Bandcampgold review-Leave It To Believers by Johnny Cremains

by Dan-O

If Ballerina’s come back from the dead to kill the living, Johnny Cremains should play that event. To call their sound dark would shamefully disregard the sonic space created. During any Johnny Cremains song you’re not just hearing guitar drums and bass but theremin and organ and piano. It’s lavishly and abundantly dark without the plodding pace that comes to your mind when you think of ‘dark’ or ‘heavy’ music.

The depth of that sound is created via the tectonic shifting of high IQ artists involved in the band. Band dynamics fascinate me (since I’m a writer having to come to some sort of mutual agreement to move art forward sounds like a nightmare) and Cremains is fascinating when you look at the interplay. The lead singer Sean Libby has a big voice (and personality) and knows how to use it to its full effect. The album that follows Leave It To Believers is a better album; Hollywoodland is full force Libby shifting his Dio voice up and down from mutter to shriek to yell with lyrics as positively jagged as the music (Oswaltz-Dance of The Patsy is such a good song) necessitates.   It’s more of a fully formed pop suitable album from a weird band, but if you find a weird band…don’t you want to hear their weirdest stuff? Now were talkin’ Leave It To Believers.

In a 2012 interview with the Portland Press Herald Libby was asked the single most exciting question in rock music; how did you get your name. His response was actually remarkable. His keyboardist looked down and saw the book Johnny Tremain, thought Johnny Cremain would be good and as Libby said “He mentioned it to me and I said, “Let’s do it.” I say yes to about 101 percent of Erik’s creative intentions, and that idea wasn’t any different.” Listening to Cremains can’t help but leave you fascinated by Winter who not only plays the organ and piano but drew the damn beautiful cover art on Leave It To Believers. All through that album he lays the foundation for each song with piano parts that don’t seem like they could be songs. The first few seconds of Black Pond left me staggered, saying internally “This could certainly be the soundtrack to a rodeo clown falling into a deep depression and driving off a cliff but how is it going to become a song?” Erik passes it to Sean and Doug Porter on guitar, David Joy on the low end and it does. It becomes more than a song, a gorgeous experiment in jagged sounds; the deconstruction of what normies think rhythm is. It starts with Winter living in a world where he plays piano normally and the rest of us have to catch up.

I just got to see them live for the first time and at times Sean crouched at the end of the stage and just watched Winter in action. Artistic intelligence isn’t just about the depth of your capabilities but your knack for identifying and capitalizing on the strengths of those around you. Libby knows that the players around him are fantastic and so he lets them flourish and then flourishes himself within their abilities. On Believers, they were still figuring it all out but the sound was there, recklessly so, The Great Silence smashes you over the head from the first second. Kid Idiot is so gorgeously morose and murderful it’s not creepy but somehow triumphant. While the screaming Theremin on the title track of the album makes the song feel like a soundtrack to a bank robbery conducted by Universal Studios monsters; November’s Coming Liar is mad funky and super danceable.  I’m not telling you to buy this album, I’m telling you they are $6 a piece on bandcamp; clear your budget for $12 and do both. You won’t regret it.

This link brings to the gateway to both albums: Click and stream then buy

https://johnnycremains.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-Chalk It Up To Bad Luck by The Caught Flies

#Bandcampgold-Chalk It Up To Bad Luck by The Caught Flies

by Dan-O

I don’t hang out with the right people to have this debate but….I’ll take Motorhead over Metallica at their best. Motorhead at their best?  No. Motorhead really at any phase of existence. Metallica was always trying so hard that I was never convinced, when they tipped over the edge and cut their hair, did alternative and country songs I felt like they were finally being themselves. Motorhead was always confidently and unapologetically Motorhead without posturing or pandering. While The Caught Flies are tucked neatly into the Psychobilly genre they feel  as close as Maine is going to come to Motorhead.

The easiest place to find Motorhead on their latest album Chalk It Up To Bad Luck is the song Burning Idol which has the blisteringly intelligent fire breathing flair of No Voices In The Sky (in my top 5 anti-religion songs) from (know your Motorhead) 1916. While I do know the lead singer (Ryan McLellan) from the spoken word poetry scene that did not engender faith in making The Caught Flies work. Poets live on words and fit them in everywhere; their music usually sucks (with obvious huge exceptions like Gil-Scott Heron). He does a fabulous job on this album of not sacrificing any of his advanced lyrical standards while still moving at the insane pace set by Christopher Coletti on drums and taken to the next level by Jason Greenough on guitar and Landon Loveday(Cannot be a real name, totally an alias) on bass. Too Close To The Sun is another shocker in the form of a blistering diss reaching epic proportions, “You wallow in yourself obsessed, depression, a constant malcontent. All eyes are on you hastens the spiral and descent. Your god’s gift and they fall to their knees unsatisfied and so god damned empty inside.” Worst. Christmas. Card.Ever.

Ryan has the voice of a man whose young love was cigarettes but boy does he feel this in his soul. A song like They Walk would be goofy or downright stupid if you couldn’t sell the zombie apocalypse as a reality and not a cute hypothetical.  As Motorhead as they sometimes feel my wife is quick to remind me that punk is still very present in the repeating vocal assists and jerky tempo. This is not metal but it’s not not metal. You’ll get it. This is music that would sound incredible playing behind a Robert Rodriguez movie. These songs are meaningful and each has a clear conceptual base but they never cease being fun (example:Bipolar Baby).

Are The Caught Flies my favorite band? Am I gonna marry them? No. They have room to grow and definitely sound like they are at the “hey, were pretty good at this?!” phase. If you stream their first album it is fun, if you stream this one…it’s much better and more developed. So my mind is already putting together the next one.  America misses the rock star just a little; we live in a tidy customized musical world of communities who never interact. The Caught Flies have not heard about this at all and I hope no one tells them.

Stream Chalk It Up To Bad Luck and pay for it once you like it:

https://thecaughtflies.bandcamp.com/album/chalk-it-up-to-bad-luck

 

#BandcampgoldTHROWBACKWEDNESDAY-ShaShaSha

#BandcampgoldTHROWBACKWEDNESDAY-ShaShaSha

by Dan-O

I have never met Dominic Lavoie of Dominic & The Lucid but I imagine him as the nicest man you’d ever meet. He produces all kinds of cool albums for cool people, he jumps in and sings back up here or there. Everyone loves him. It only makes sense that he is likely to be the human embodiment of strawberry ice cream which is why I haven’t really been a Lucid fan.  That groups output exists on a tier of existence so nice and comfortable I’ve never been there. It’s pretty and safe and all ages; music enjoyed by folks who have purchased multiple hacky sacks in their life.

I have no idea what went into the “extended hiatus of the band” referenced on the ShaShaSha bandcamp  but it kept Mr. Lavoie by himself long enough to record one of my favorite local albums. The self-titled ShaShaSha album is filled with jagged sounds: the burbling that starts Clocks of Man or the weird synths and sound samples that become the high squeal  kicking off 801 Thrice. The album keeps you off kilter with whirring and wizzing and the wrong instruments used the right way at the right times and this was 100% Lavoie.  His voice and incredible songwriting skills act as a musical rolling pin to all the challenging elements and everything ends up stunning and smooth.

This is hypnotic psychedelia Donovon would be real proud of, from the whistling and clapping and ahhhing of the first song (Twin Brook Float) all the way through. His version of The Beatles If I Needed Someone doesn’t take it out of their realm, just shifts it into the post Sgt. Peppers/Magical Mystery Tour era.  He shoulders the weight of a Beatles cover with suave strength and particular care.

You just can’t touch high points like City Mouse, where his songwriting and melodic talents fire together in a blinding display. When you finally pull yourself out of the lovely tangled haze of the sonic universe and harmony you catch lyrics like “City Mouse plays while the songbirds away…he wears the city like a crown made of thorns” and it’s shocking. The strawberry ice cream dude has this in him? Why didn’t I know this?! ShaShaSha sounds like non-Blind Melon fans listening to an album for the first time and realizing the hippie stuff was just window dressing and they were monsters at their profession.

Easy unassumingly flawless songs like Bookshelf are sitting inside this guy somewhere just waiting for the excuse to come out. On ShaShaSha he puts together super complex songs with lots going on that he does all himself but he also hits the targets center with the minimalism of that 60’s and 70’s influence. He serves those songs that feel tiny and end up enormous in your mind; that’s Bookshelf.

ShaShaSha grew membership by a thousand percent on the follow up EP VanDyke Brown which is a mess. Too many chef’s with too many recipes. You can tell it was headed in the wrong direction from the album cover https://shashashamusic.bandcamp.com/album/vandyke-brown-ep  (the only picture honestly funnier than theVanDyke Brown EP cover is a picture you can find of Andre the Giant and Wilt Chamberlain carrying around a gleeful Arnold on the set of the my favorite Conan movie).

I have heard he has a new album with Dominic & The Lucid coming and I hear it’s fantastic. I hope it is. His previous Lucid stuff is proof that sometimes doing as much as you can to not be an A-hole makes you the biggest A-hole. I hope on this next album he pushes everyone else’s needs aside and says “Make room for Lavoie M*%#@%F*#$@#S!” No democracy.  His singular vision, his professional IQ in music is so impressive I just want to pull up a seat to that. I know your dope Dom. You can’t hide it from me.

stream or buy ShaShaSha (only $4 dude):

https://shashashamusic.bandcamp.com/album/shashasha