Northampton musician Jeremy Dubs appears on new Pixies track

In an exciting bit of Massachusetts-centric music news, Northampton musician Jeremy Dubs (Bunnies, Speak!, Rabbit Rabbit) has been announced as appearing on the latest song from Boston alt-rock icons the Pixies.

The song in question, “Bagboy,” is the first new release by the band in nine years, and features Dubs playing bass and singing backing vocals in place of the group’s original bassist Kim Deal, who departed the Pixies two weeks ago.

Watch the official music video for “Bagboy” by the Pixies here:

Speculation concerning a possible new album from the band has been rampant ever since its 2004 reunion, and new material only stokes the dreams of many fans. The Pixies last studio album was Trompe le Monde, which was released in 1991. A download-only single, “Bam Thwok,” was released in conjunction with the group’s 2004 reunion, and featured lead vocals from Deal.

For more information on the Pixies please visit http://pixiesmusic.com/new/.

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Album review – Vondelpark “Seabed” – June 27, 2013

Album review – Vondelpark “Seabed” – June 27, 2013

New Day or End of an Era for Boston Sports?

boston-sportsToday, instead of writing about the typical focus of this blog, music, I thought I would take the time to comment on a topic that has become popular fodder recently for cable news stations and other media outlets across the country.

The Supreme Court’s decision on DOMA you say? What about the George Zimmerman trial in Florida? No. At the risk of tiptoeing in the waters usually frequented by fellow Advocate blogger Pete Redington, I’m going to talk about sports, more specifically New England sports and the professional teams that represent the city of Boston, Mass.

Let’s recap some notable events of late shall we?

  • The Boston Bruins ended their season by falling to the Chicago Blackhawks in game six of the Stanley Cup finals on Monday.
  • Longtime Boston Celtics head coach Doc Rivers finally completed the negotiations necessary for him to move from the sidelines inside TD Garden to the celebrity-studded confines of the Staples Center in Los Angeles on Tuesday.
  • And New England Patriots’ tight end Aaron Hernandez was arrested for murder Wednesday, with his official release from the team coming just hours after he was led away from his home in handcuffs.
  • Oh, and as for those Boston Red Sox, the boys from Beantown clobbered the Colorado Rockies 11-4 Tuesday and remain 2 ½ games ahead of the Yankee in the American League East Division. But such success at a time like the present seems like almost an afterthought.

So what should even the fairest of fair-weather sports fan in Western Mass make of all this news? This writer for one posits that change is in the air. Even as a new day prepares to rise, we appear to have reached the end of an era for Boston sports.

To wit, on the heels of Hernandez’s arrest, Pats’ quarterback Tom Brady will be without the following receivers at the start of this year’s NFL season: Hernandez (obviously), longtime target Wes Welker, and even Rob Gronkowski amongst others, though the latter is only injured and will likely appear in uniform at some point during the 16-game schedule. Could this mean the end of the Pats’ dominance atop the AFC East? Brady and coach Bill Belichick have consistently proven capable of rebooting their squad season after season, but are some cracks starting to appear in the team’s grey-hoodie wearing façade.

The same sentiments are apt for the current situation with the Celtics as well. Rivers has been coach of the C’s since 2004, and with a probable rebuilding of the team on the horizon he has decided to move on to a team with great potential, which can also win now, a skill the Celtics might be starting to lose. Star players Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett have even been mentioned in trade talks, meaning the front office could be looking to unload some old talent in exchange for some young prospects. No matter your viewpoint on such changes, most can agree that another championship banner doesn’t seem destined for the rafters of the TD Garden anytime soon.

Any feelings of optimism that are currently present in Boston are surely the result of the fact that the Bruins and Red Sox appear a class apart from their counterparts in other leagues.

Though they just lost a hard-fought series and the immortal trophy that goes to the victor of the NHL, the Bruins appeared downright dominant at times this postseason and have given many fans reason to believe again in a tough team capable of dishing out as much punishment as it receives. Head coach Claude Julien was questioned by some before the Bruins clamped down and made their push for the title, but with a resurgent effort the coach as well as the rest of the B’s could certainly make some noise next year. Just ask Sidney Crosby.

Finally, I’ve come to the Sox. During their first season under new manger and former team pitching coach John Farrell, these boys of summer have shown grit and tenacity, two attributes sorely missing from the Bobby Valentine squad of last year, and promising stuff all around the diamond. Still, as any true Red Sox fan will tell you, it’s always too early to tell what kind of luck the coming months might bring. But even if the glory days of ’04 and ’07 don’t return anytime soon, this squad remains deserving of interest. And hell, any New England baseball fan worth their salt can remember worse days right?

So here we sit. ESPN and other cable news stations will likely amp up their coverage of the ongoing situation with Aaron Hernandez now that he’s officially been arrested. And speculation will start to run rampant on the Pats chances this year, as well as the Celtics and what the shamrock-clad squad might resemble as game one’s tip-off approaches. In the meantime we have baseball, or no sports at all if athletic events aren’t your bag. Come to think of it, a break from sports might not be a bad idea at all. Think about it New England. A new day beckons.

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“Behind the Beat: Local Heroes” Sakara – June 13, 2013

“Behind the Beat: Local heroes” Sakara – June 13, 2013

Tales from the Slush Pile

cd-pileIn the parlance of the publishing trade, a “slush pile” is a collection of unsolicited submissions that have been mailed to a publisher by unknown authors and agents. Typically, assistant editors are entrusted with picking their way through this glut of material, and on the occasions where they find a piece that interest them, these lower ranking associates then pass such work on to senior editors for consideration.

The grind of digging through all this slush can be a thankless job, but during the moments when one stumbles upon true glimmers of talent amidst numerous other attempts at crafting the “next big thing” all the strain can feel worth the effort.

The same maxim holds true in the world of the freelance music writer. Indeed, one of the biggest perks of writing about music for a living is the multitude of albums one gets sent for free and often before the official release date that the rest of the public must wait for. However, a significant drawback of this unfettered access to new tunes is that a solitary writer can often get overwhelmed by the numerous PR firms and label representatives who manage to get a hold of one’s contact information and quickly send a deluge of records, each with accompanying press materials that proclaim the discs sent as the greatest recorded sounds put to tape, at least until the next album is passed along with a similar tagline attached.

Still, the discovery of seeming greatness that lurks somewhere within the overflow never ceases to induce wonder and even amazement. Maybe it’s a guitar lick here, an unbelievable chorus there, or perhaps a previously unthought-of of use for some special instrument that has just never been put to tape in such a manner before that does the trick.

Of course even the most patient of listeners, no matter how much they strain, can never listen to it all. So as a critic one can become choosy and trusting of only a small number of labels or industry contacts. But when such narrowing of vision occurs, so can doubt emerge and make a writer question their instincts.

“What if I’m missing something?” They ask themselves. “There are at least a dozen names on the indie charts that I don’t recognize. Have I lost my touch?”

So the net once again widens, and more slush is slogged through to the point of persistent headaches and sore ears. But each lyric that ingratiates itself into the cerebellum or every multi-instrumentalist that awes with their mastery of…well…multiple instruments…can make the effort worth the work.

The lesson here is simple. Always keep an open mind. Your ears might not always thank you. But your heart will. And who knows, in some basement or garage right now the next voice of a generation could be honing their chops and nurturing the seeds of talent that will make them a star. They just need someone to hear what they have to offer. And wouldn’t you like that person to be you?

Then again, if this writer has to listen to one more intentionally tuneless art rock demo or the caterwauling of some wannabe pop star…

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“Behind the Beat: Truth Seekers” The True Believers – June 6, 2013

“Behind the Beat: Truth Seekers” The True Believers – June 6, 2013