The Russians @ The Middle East Upstairs 12.1.2011

After catching Sidewalk Driver opening for The B-52s* at the House Of Blues, I rushed over to the Kenmore Square T stop in an effort to get to The Middle East in time to catch The Russians. You’d be hard pressed to find a band in town with better songs than Scott Janovitz and his cohorts. It had been a long time since I’d had a chance to catch one of their sets. I needed a fix.

I walked into the Middle East Upstairs during the band’s second song. It was dark. Really dark. A couple of those fake candles they put on the tables in restaurants would have provided more light than the club’s red stage lights. It fit the music, I suppose. The songs came off a little darker and heavier tonight. “Not So Loud” packed a particular punch. The Russians covering Elliott’s Smith’s “Bottle Up And Explode” is certainly something I wouldn’t mind hearing more often. The band even debuted a new song, which is the best thing Scott Janovitz has ever written. At least I hope so. He threatened to break up the band if it wasn’t. So, it was. This world needs The Russians.

* Bikini Whale was better.

Sidewalk Driver @ House Of Blues 12.1.2011

A couple of months back, Sidewalk Driver opened for The B-52s up at Hampton Beach.* When I heard about that show, two things crossed my mind:

  • That’s a really good break for a really good band.
  • I want to take pictures of Sidewalk Driver opening for The B-52s.

Alas, it wasn’t in the cards. Fast forward to the announcement that Sidewalk Driver would be opening for The B-52s as part of Epilepsy Therapy Project’s fundraiser at the House Of Blues. Two things crossed my mind:

  • That’s a really good break for a really good band.
  • I want to take pictures of Sidewalk Driver opening for The B-52s.

Oh, House Of Blues. You’re usually not too keen on people bringing cameras to take pictures of your innards. I was pretty sure this wasn’t going to happen. Then fate Kate smiled upon me and got me a photo pass. So happy. So very happy.**

Come showtime, Sidewalk Driver did what they do best: worked their glorious confetti and power chord magic to make the audience swoon.*** Isn’t that what they always do? Hell yes, it is. This band lives to entertain.

A couple of days later I was looking through the photos on my computer.

“Who’s that?”

My five year old had just wandered into the office with his little brother close behind.

“That’s Tad from Sidewalk Driver.” I replied.

Side-walk-dri-ver?” questioned my curios 2 and a half year old.

“That’s the band that sings ‘Tornado’!” exclaimed his older brother.

I couldn’t have been more proud. For the next ten minutes we scrolled through the photos, the boys quickly learning to identify each band member. So happy. So very happy.

* I’d like to point out that when I started this blog, the thought never crossed my mind that it would have any references to The B-52s. Live and learn, I guess.

** Have I mentioned how happy I was? Seriously, it’s a little embarrassing. When I got word that Kate had secured the photo pass the combination of sheer joy and the sudden realization that “Golly, I better take some good pictures at this thing or I’m a complete jerk” nearly incapacitated me. I was a wreck. Still… so very very happy.

*** Did I mention showtime was 30 minutes before the stated start time on the House Of Blues website? Surprise! No matter. Sidewalk Driver still kicked ass. No surprise there.

Rule – “Bloodletter” (2011)


Remember when I asked you to remember when you liked metal? This is why…

“Bloodletter” is Rule’s first single and it’s awesome. The future classic metal riffs come flying right from the start. John Brookhouse’s throaty guitar riffs are propelled by the bombastic duo of Greg Beadle on drums and Jim Zavadoski on bass. This metal has a groove. Even when they thrash through the song’s outro they never lose the heaviness. The guitar solos have just the right ratio of flash to trash.* Above it all, Mike Soltoff’s vocals soar to metal glory. The dude can wail. Rule can wail.

Where to get it:

* This is metal and John Brookhouse is on guitar. You knew there would be guitar solos, right?

The Wrong Shapes – “Places I Used To Hunt” (2011)

The Wrong Shapes
“Places I Used to Hunt”

There’s something about The Wrong Shapes I find intriguing. This group makes music that spins my head. The guitar and cello are intertwined in a double helix. This is musical DNA. I feel like Bo Barringer and Rachel Arnold are toying with me. The sounds are looped and processed until they become some kind of twisted, cryptic puzzle. The vocals only give me clues, never the whole meaning. I’ve heard Bo and Rachel perform “Places I Used To Hunt” as a duo. The recorded version is augmented by Reuben Bettsak’s intricate drum patterns. Another twist in the plot.

Where to get it:

Mellow Bravo @ Radio 11.19.2011

Mellow Bravo is the band you should be begging to play at your basement kegger. Sure, the cops are gonna come and bust the thing up, but it’ll be awesome until then…

The Organ Beats & Friends – “This Christmas” (2010)

The Organ Beats & Friends
“This Christmas”

Last year, The Organ Beats got together with some of their friends and recorded “This Christmas”. The song has the familiar longing of of “Blue Christmas” and “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)” set over a power pop beat and big guitars. Noelle LeBlanc and Ronnie Ragona trade off verses before joining in their plea to Santa for a holiday reunion. The xylophone is the kicker here. Nice touch.

Need more incentive? All of the proceeds go to the MSPCA. C’mon. Do good this holiday season.

Where to get it: