Action Bronson at the State Theatre. Photo by Andrew Foster.
Pop quiz, HillyTowners! If the Hilly Town Cinematic Universe had its own Avengers team, who would be in it? I want your most thought-out answers in the comments section, ideally in the form of a drawing that someone can use for a Hella Sweet © gig poster.
Did you already forget? The Portland Phoenix announced the winners of its 2015 Best of Portland, and it includes some BEST BUDS like SPACE Gallery (best gallery), Bull Moose (best CDs) and State Theatre (best rock venue). It seems that the alt-weekly’s best blog category, of which Hilly Town has been a past recipient, has been killed off in favor of the more satiating best food blog category. It’s aight tho. Portland Food Map is dope.
I sometimes say things that should embarrass me, but make sure you check out our Hella Sweet © photos of Action Bronson’s show at the State Theatre. I’m apparently the only person in the HCU who hasn’t listened to him yet, so I’m addressing that problem right now… Sounds pretty good!
Now I’m directing your attention to Jakob Battick’s review of Brown Bird’s last album, because I think he does a good job of summing up how much MorganEve Swain and the late David Lamb have meant to this local music scene:
From their early days on Portland’s own Peapod Recordings through their time as an internationally acclaimed touring folk act, Lamb could always be trusted to write songs as intense as they were beautiful, and as razor-sharp in vision as they were humble and soulful. It’s a stupefying tragedy that he should have been taken away from the world so soon, but Axis Mundi stands as the most perfect possible parting note Lamb could have left.
Leveret is kicking off its East Coast tour with a free show on Saturday. Read all about it here so we can get more pageviews. The Portland Phoenix has the lowdown on the Saturday show’s two supporting acts, S.S. Cretins and Baroses.
If you found yourself laughing in the back of a truck at today’s First Friday Art Walk, it’s likely you were enjoying the work of the Portland Comedy Co-op (and you didn’t even know it!). Check out our Q&A with the show’s host, Aharon Hebert, right here.
Remember Guster? TOO BAD. IT’S SOLD OUT.
Builder of the House is playing a show at SPACE Gallery on Saturday. If you go, you will bear witness to the Maine Marimba Ensemble, a group that gives me absolute glee every time I see them. I also always feel compelled to take an Instagram video of them for some reason:
Well, that’s it, folks. I hope I didn’t miss anything cool (even though I probably did).
Song of the week:
I think this qualifies as a Hilly Town song. It’s “Ghost Tonight” by Chairlift, a band that doesn’t seem to be around anymore. Oh well.
I am writing on a computer that has seen far better days. This was once a glorious laptop I could take to coffee shops, but now it’s hooked into an external monitor out of necessity. It’s as if the poor thing is on life support, except I’m totally ready to blast it into smithereens.
You know who is seeing far better days?
The Portland Phoenix’s Jakob Battick, who who won’t have to face a repeat of The Great Fan Backlash of 2011 after writing a favorable review of The Mallett Brothers’ new album, Lights Along The River. You may recall that Battick didn’t like The Mallett Brothers’ second album in his review for Dispatch Magazine, prompting quite the spat with their fans. It sounds like he doesn’t want the fans to forget about those darker times, but he’s willing to make amends:
To anyone who still hates my guts for that Low Down review: when I was about 10, I waited a long time in line after a Dave Mallett concert with my grandmother so we could get his autograph. We’re not that different, you and I.
Battick also has an album review for Nashville-based Today Is The Day, what he calls “one of the most terrifying bands to ever emerge from the American South’s metal scene.”
Did anyone find anything sweet on Record Store Day? Mike Cunnane sure did.
It was pretty neat to hear that Lady Lamb will be opening for The Decemberists at their State Theatre show. If that isn’t your thing, you could try EMO Night Portland, “Tears in Your Beer” at Portland’s newest venue, the Portland House Of Music & Events.
WMPG, greater Portland’s beloved community radio station, was dealt quite the blow this week when a water pipe burst and damaged around 3,000 vinyl records (just the thought of it tugs at our collective Hilly Town heartstrings). As a former staffer of The Free Press, the University of Southern Maine’s student newspaper that is in the floor above WMPG, I’m heartened to see that our newspapers are finally being used as something meaningful: album covers.
We are sad to see Ben McCanna retire his amazing local music photoblog, Post Mortem, but as he explains in his farewell post, he needs to take this time to focus on taking care of himself and his family. While he writes that he “can’t say whether Post Mortem truly accomplished anything lasting,” I will just go on the record and say that you, Ben, created something of meaning for a community you care about and a community that cares about you. We wish you all the best.
Ben Folds, one of my favorite artists of yesteryear, told mainetoday in an interview published this week that he considers his latest project a rather “bizarre” one. But is mixing a classic ensemble with your pop-rock sensibilities really that strange?
If you’re curious about how that new Spencer Albee album is, Emily Burnham of the Bangor Daily News has you covered with her review of Mistakes Were Made.
Breaking news: Some band we know is back.
Oh yeah, those guys!
Hilly Town posts from the past week:
HillyTown Goes Record Shopping with Fur
Jacob Augustine East Coast Tour
Song of the week:
Remember when I was trying to find a certain song by Jared Fairfield. Well, he recently uploaded it and informed me through social media telepathy. Here’s “Maggie.” Thanks Jared.
Kate Beever (right) and Poopin’ Louie in Kitty Critic’s last video of its first season.
Apologies, y’all. I took the day off last week because of an unplanned vacation to BEING SICK IN MY BED, so we have some catching up to do in the Hilly Town Cinematic Universe.
Kitty Critic, Maine’s most adorable video series about local music, aired its season one finale this week with a performance by Kate Beever at the Homeless Animal Rescue Team in Cumberland, and it literally stars a cat named Poopin’ Louie. The video helpfully notes that Poopin’ Louie is known for pooping unexpectedly, just as he crawls onto Kate’s keyboard and lingers there for the rest of her song.
Disclosurebrag: I adopted my two cats through HART. It was the best decision of my life.
One of the most significant music developments in the past couple weeks was the State Theatre’s first two outdoor concert announcements for its new venue at Thompson’s Point in Portland. Ingrid Michaelson plays the first show June 28 with Jukebox the Ghost as the opener. Then. THEN. Primus plays the second show with Dinosaur Jr. on July 27. That sounds like a fairly decent and fairly HillyTown kind of lineup to me.
But wait! Thompson’s Point isn’t the only place we’ll get outdoor concerts in Portland this year. As the noted in the Portland Press Herald last week, Bangor-based promoter Waterfront Concerts has its own slate of more than 12 shows lined up for the Maine State Pier, including performances by Weezer, the Barenaked Ladies and The Beach Boys. Combined with the State Theatre’s four to six shows planned for Thompson’s Point, Portland will be home to an unprecedented number of outdoor concerts this year.
The other significant development: Belfast has a music festival again! After the Free Range Music Festival fizzled out last year, the All Roads Music Festival has stepped in its place with an all-day, multi-venue festival planned for May 16. Lady Lamb headlines. She’ll be supported by a number of familiar faces, including Lisa/Liza, Tall Horse, Spose and Coke Weed.
Random observation: Maine Magazine has not written a music profile since August 2013.
For you heavy music lovin’ types, Post Mortem has a hella sweet photo recap of a SPACE Gallery show headlined by Sewer Goddess and supported by Mugwort, Say John Earl and Nycterent, the latter of which was called “a tough act to follow.” Here’s a teaser:
As the blinding light subsided, Morse emerged from his electronics wearing padded work gloves. He crouched by the mirror, shrieked into his microphone, then abruptly and repeatedly pounded both fists into the mirror — snuffing out the four flames in an instant of brute violence.
Speaking of Mugwort, the Portland Phoenix has a review of the doom metal band’s two-song, 20-minute album right here. The city’s last standing alt-weekly also takes a look at Haru Bangs and 1UP, a “a series of performances spotlighting the best of the best in local electronic producers” that was started by local hip-hop artists Brzowski and God.Damn.Chan.
Now for an important announcement: Brown Bird, a band that has long been a favorite of the Portland music scene, has set up a pre-order for its latest album, the first to come out after the wonderful David Lamb died a year ago this Sunday.
Hilly Town posts from the past two weeks:
Arootsakoostik/Eurekakoostik/A-Roots Ramble Preview
Metal Feathers come out of hiding tonight at SPACE
AFRAID drops new album — playing Poland Street show on Friday
That’s it? C’mon, Kevin. Gotta get on that content game.
Song of the week:
In honor of David Lamb, this is “Bannermen” by Brown Bird.
Great Western Plain at Silent Barn in Brooklyn. Instagram photo by Bryan Bruchman
Welcome to the first edition of Hilly Town’s revived Friday Roundup, as written by a recovering local music journalist who’s looking to get back into the game for some reason (I actually do miss it, and I always like working with people like Bryan Bruchman). So I’m a little out of touch, but I think this roundup can help give you an idea of what’s happened in the past week, between the daily posts by Kevin Steeves here and articles written elsewhere on the interwebs.
Here’s the first piece of evidence showing how out of touch I am: Lady Lamb dropped “the Beekeeper” part of her name, and I had no idea until I read this Q&A the Portland Phoenix did with her this week (we’ll have more on her later). Also within the pages of Portland’s last-standing alt-weekly this week: my former colleague Jakob Battick, a longtime non-fan of Lady Lamb, finally comes around to “getting it” in his review of her newest album, After. The Phoenix also has a nice profile of Great Western Plain, a band I got to see in its early days before bassist Mike Powers realized that they’re “really bad at being in a band.”
Another former colleague of mine, Ben McCanna, has been running an excellent, prolific photoblog called Post Mortem that documents the heavy music scene in Portland. His most recent post includes a mosaic of photos from a Port City Music Hall show headlined by local stoner rock band Murcielago and a few other shows that same night. The blog is going on a semi-hiatus because of a death in the family (my sympathies, Ben), but it has a great backlog of vivid photography that can keep you occupied for quite some time. And if that isn’t enough, check out Ben’s hilarious photo collection of high school sports coaches losing their minds.
You know that shuttered flower shop near the Nickelodeon theater? Turns out, it’s being turned into a music venue, to showcase local talent! And it’s being started by none other than Ken Bell, the former owner of The Big Easy. As first reported by the Bangor Daily News, the 300-capacity venue at 25 Temple St. will be called the Portland House of Music and Events (HOME), and it will open on May 25, with plans to host music of all genres.
Sidebar: Bell lost ownership of The Big Easy over a lease dispute in October 2013, but it was reopened by new owners in 2014 as a comedy club, as noted by the Portland Press Herald. My question: is the venue still open? Because signs seem to point to no. Also, the venue’s website has since been changed into a spammy-looking WordPress blog with three posts in January, including one with the headline, “A SCINTILLATING RECIPE FOR SUCCESS—FOUR FOODS TO HELP IMPROVE YOUR SEX LIFE.” UPDATE: Krister Rollins pointed out on Twitter that the venue is now operating as a nightclub called Studio 55.
Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” is a terrible song, but it’s also now the harbinger of death for musical creativity, thanks to a new court ruling. Portland’s best blogger of all time Alex Steed has a little blurb from Zach Jones, a longtime local musician who’s now in Los Angeles, on why the “jury’s decision could send us all down a slippery slope.” Here’s a sneak peek:
As a songwriter and musician, I wear my influences right on my sleeves and I don’t care who sees it. Proudly displaying my musical influence is part of my own identity. When I write a song that ends up sounding like something Paul McCartney would have written, it makes me happy. I embrace it. Should I run in fear from that now? What does this mean?
Here’s another good question:
Also of note for dedicated Hilly Town readers: Mama’s CrowBar might close apparently. The Press Herald has the full story on the popular Munjoy Hill dive bar and why it could close before October (spoiler alert: sounds like a dispute with the landlord). The bar had been the home of the Scratchpad Reading Series, an event that was once run by HillyTown. My only memory of the the place: sitting next to a pug at the bar. Isn’t that reason enough to keep it open?
SPACE Gallery’s blog, formerly known as “Have Faith In Worthless Knowledge,” has posted a new Q&A with Norwegian musician Jenny Hval. Jenny played at the venue on March 10 and was touring with St. Vincent just before that. Go through the archives and you’ll find a slew of other interviews and posts about SPACE happenings.
In case you haven’t realized that this blog is up and running again, here are some Hilly Town posts from the past week that you might have missed. This includes our preview of national artists coming to Portland (Spoon and Sufjan Stevens are on the list!), the first article in our new series that looks at the record-shopping habits of local musicians (Leveret, one of my personal faves, is featured) and a roundup of the latest local music to surface on Bandcamp.
Other Hilly Town posts from the past month:
Portland Downtown Boys date announced — wait, Portland Downtown Boys date announced?!
Pretty Purgatory release a new 7-inch with Jacob Augustine and Bad Braids today
Sunset Hearts are back in action tonight
Jacob Augustine Opened For Timber Timbre @ PCMH [2.27.15]
HillyTown Q&A: Lisa/Liza’s Liza Victoria
The Lone Bellow and Odessa Played PCMH [2.23.15]
This Weekend In Videos
Song of the week:
Leveret’s “Oscillator,” because hot damn.