Devil On Horseback – “Devil On Horseback” (2011)

Devil On Horseback
“Devil On Horseback”

The tags for this song on the Devil On Horseback Bandcamp page are “rock” and “Boston”. That’s as much a directive as it is a description. For 2 minutes and 41 seconds, that’s exactly what they do.

Fuzzed-out indie rock riffs mesh seamlessly with Bruce Caporal’s syncopated beat. Eric Waxwood’s vocals supply the commands. Take a shot. The guitars get a little extra juice right before the short-and-to-the-point classic rock solo. These guys are an efficient machine. Devil On Horseback are on a mission. Rock Boston.

Where to get it:

The Irreverends – The Irreverends (2005)

The Irreverends
The Irreverends

With a few bars of backbeat followed by a great harmonized guitar line, The Irreverends are off and running on their debut EP. The band powers through “Annalise” with conviction. The song could have come right off of Damn the Torpedoes, with chiming guitars and Adam White’s Tom Petty-esque vocal phrasing. It works and it’s catchy as hell. The band keeps rocking right through “Ghettos On Fire”, with some snappy drumming by Chris Keene.

The band slows things down on the reverb-soaked third track, “Evangeline”. This song has a long slow build that showcases John Brookhouse’s incendiary lead guitar work. His solo that starts at the 5:50 mark should be a primary exhibit in any case presenting him as one of the finest guitar players in town.

Closing out the EP is “Double Negative”, a country-tinged tune with the clever lyric “You don’t mean nothing to me.” The dynamic changes in the song are beautifully executed, building up and tearing down at all the right times. It’s a fitting way to close out this introduction to a dearly missed and under-appreciated Boston band.

Where to get it:

Eric Salt & The Electric City – The Hail Mary (2007)

Eric Salt & The Electric City
The Hail Mary

Two minutes and forty seconds into “Open Doorway” from Eric Salt & The Electric City’s album, The Hail Mary, the listener is submerged in a sea of cascading vocal harmonies. It’s the culmination of a three song opening sequence that is thoroughly engaging. “Stand In The Light” kicks things off with its syncopated guitars and snarling vocals while “Pearls” oscillates between the vibrant and ominous. By the time of the final snare hit of “Open Doorway”, it’s hard to imagine any other way Eric and company could have unveiled The Hail Mary.

The record sheds some of its drama with the fourth track, “Never Intended”, complete with Billy Preston-esque electric piano flourishes and light-hearted backing vocals. “Beatle Chord” doesn’t hide its Abbey Road influence in title or style. Throughout the 12 song CD there are hints of Wilco, Elvis Costello, and the occasional guitar line or vocal melody that wouldn’t sound out of place in a Paul Westerberg penned tune. The earnestness of the record would be burdensome if it wasn’t so damn honest.

There’s a high level of musicianship on The Hail Mary. Eric and his crew know when to play fast and loose and when to show some restraint. Vocals go from breathy to biting without ever sounding forced. Denis Saulnier’s drums are clockwork steady yet never lack feel. Layers of guitars all seem to know their place. Nuanced mixes from Ed Valauskas and Rafi Sofer (and Eric himself on “Long Livin’ Life”) tie it all together. The Hail Mary has all of the expected polish and sheen of an album produced by Ed at Q Division.

Where to get it:

Vic Firecracker – Mixed Not Mastered (1998)

Vic Firecracker
Mixed Not Mastered

“Sevens” is one of my all time favorite songs in an odd time signature. When a band can make a song in 7/4 time sound effortless they’re onto something. That’s what Vic Firecracker does on this opening track to their EP, Mixed Not Mastered.

Standout tracks include the aforementioned “Sevens”, the syncopated and melodic “Connect The Dots” and the heaviest song on the CD, “Booksmart”. “Booksmart” is a ticking time bomb full of shrapnel, with call and response vocals, chunky riffs and a flurry of cacophonous guitars.

Vic Firecracker keeps you on your toes throughout Mixed Not Mastered. The six songs contained here are sharp and angular. Time signatures change and tempos shift. This is indie rock that makes you think.

Where to get it:

Tad & Kate – “Bad Presents” (2011)

Tad & Kate
“Bad Presents”

Like some demented version of “The Twelve Days Of Christmas”, Tad & Kate bring you “Bad Presents”. Rogue Roombas, allergic reactions, over-sized turtleneck sweaters and the unfortunate outcome of a dog eating chocolate covered fruit-shaped flowers are not your typical holiday song fodder. Even so, any song with lines like “I don’t mean to sound naughty / But if I could stuff your stocking / With the heat that I feel when we touch” is bound to be a holiday classic.

Where to get it:

Michael J. Epstein and Sophia Cacciola – “Eight More Days of Hanukkah!” (2011)

Michael J. Epstein and Sophia Cacciola
“Eight More Days of Hanukkah!”

Tonight is the fourth night of Hanukkah. Wouldn’t it be great if it could go on forever? Michael J. Epstein and Sophia Cacciola seem to think so. They wrote a song about it. The duo’s plan involves adding eight more days of Hanukkah after every holiday. Like Groundhog Day. And St. Patrick’s Day. And Christmas.

If this song was the basis for a Rankin/Bass holiday special, it would probably end with everybody realizing that Hanukkah is more special when there are only eight days. The rest of the year we can carry Hanukkah in our hearts. This isn’t a Rankin/Bass special, though. It’s an Epstein/Cacciola special. In their version, every day would actually be Hanukkah. There would be an endless festival of lights.

We’re going to need some more candles.

Where to get it:

Full Body Anchor @ Radio 12.17.2011

Full Body Anchor is a band I need to see more often. It’s cathartic. Intensely cathartic. You’re swept up in Rice Edmonston’s manic convulsions while the rest of the band just keeps pushing and pushing until you’re right at the edge. It’s all making you a little crazy. You can’t quite figure out what’s happening to your head. You don’t really want to know, anyway.

Then it’s over. You’ve weathered the storm. Life goes on. You take a few deep breaths.

It feels good.

Worth mentioning: Full Body Anchor did an astounding version of “O Holy Night” at this show. Add that one to my list of favorite Boston rock moments of 2011…

Devil On Horseback @ Radio 12.17.2011

I can only assume that someone will be by shortly to take names. Asses were certainly kicked. Devil On Horseback fired off riff after riff into the Radio crowd. These guys are good.