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.
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 mainetodayin 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 Newshas you covered with her review of Mistakes Were Made.
It might be a broad statement — but it’s safe to say that the Portland-based trio Fur were doing a lot more to celebrate April 20th than you likely did all day when they dropped the killer 2 Hearted Horse. A huge step ahead from their scruffier, punk roots heard in their earlier recordings as part of The RattleSnakes; 2 Hearted Horse takes the best of Tara and Brian Cohen’s musical minds and puts it to mic inside their basement.
By taking the stripped-down, garage-rock melodies of Tara’s Bath Salts band from a few years back and combining them with the more ambitious second-to-last ‘Snakes album Spine;2 Hearted Horse is just what we were hoping to hear from the trio.
But before Friday night’s show, and a few days before their debut dropped, Tara and Brian Cohen (2/3 of Fur — minus bassist Greg Bazinet) visited the Portland Middle Street location of our very own Bull Moose to check-out their ever-growing and eclectic vinyl selection.
From Doolittle to The Beastie Boys, it’s easy to see where their influence’s came from and what exactly they are experimenting with when you hear their shared vast catalog of musical knowledge (by the end of our visit, they left with a large stack of vinyl to buy that night.) Fur is sure to become the quintessential “critic’s band” of Portland and for all the best reasons.
We’re big fans of Jacob Augustine and his unforgettable voice and songwriting around here, so this is a friendly reminder to catch him on the road over the next couple of weeks. He hits the road tonight with his band, traveling South all the way to Tennessee before making his way back up to Vermont for Waking Windows. Check out all of his albums on Bandcamp (where you can order one-of-a-kind hand-painted cds of any of them) and head out to a show!
Just for fun, here’s that single shot video we made with Jacob at Mayo Street a few years back. We still love this performance.
Jacob Augustine April 2015 Tour:
4/22 – New Haven, CT – Cafe Nine w/ Tall Tall Trees & Eurisko
4/23 – Brooklyn, NY – The Rock Shop w/ Field Guides & Frog
4/24 – Philadelphia, PA – Montrose Fun Zone w/ Evan Cory Levine
4/25 – Allentown, PA – Allentown Brew Works w/ Brother JT & Golden Specter
4/26 – Washington, DC – Mousai House w/ Veve & Tha Rebels
4/27- Asheville, NC – The Mothlight w/ Daniel Shearin Music & Matt Townsend and The Wonder of the World
4/28 – Knoxville, TN – WDVX Blue Plate Special w/ Low Cut Connie (at 12pm)
4/28 – Gatlinburg, TN – Sugarland Distilling
4/29 – Brevard, NC – 185 King Street
4/30 – off day – contact us if you’ve got any ideas!
5/1 – Abingdon, VA – Wolf Hills Brewing
5/2 – Charlottesville, VA – The Garage w/ The Sun Flights
5/3 – Winooski, VT – Waking Windows (4:45pm at Birdfolk)
Sufjan Stevens @ Merrill Auditorium 4.14.15 photo by Hannah Hays
Death is the elephant in the room of our lives. It’s one of the few universal inevitabilities we all face in our world, and yet we pretend it doesn’t exist and choose to ignore its impact until we’re directly faced with it. The thought of death, of losing our loved ones, or even ourselves, can paralyze us if we let it overcome us.
Sufjan Stevens confronts death directly on his new album, Carrie & Lowell, named for his mother and stepfather. Stevens’ mother passed away recently, and this new 11-song album is an auditory documentation of processing his loss and grief, as well. The result is a devastating, meditative, but ultimately hopeful understanding of death. It is Stevens’ most personal & introspective album to date; it is also among his very best work.
Carrie & Lowell is a more sparse effort than most anything prior in Stevens’ recent discography, trading in bombastic arrangements for more minimalist acoustic production. The “return-to-indie/folk” sound occasionally recalls the fingerpicked guitar and double-tracked vocals of the late Elliott Smith. Subtle orchestration and warm synthesizers round out the sound, resulting in the most intimate and serious sounding work for Sufjan Stevens’ career.
This Saturday, April 18th, record stores around the state will participate in the 8th annual Record Store Day. It’s no surprise that Bull Moose has the biggest list of events for this new holiday, since record guru/longtime Bull Moose employee Chris Brown actually invented the holiday. If you have about two hours to spare, his annual RSD preview video is pretty all inclusive:
Bull Moose Brunswick, 151 Main Street
8-11 a.m. – Custom Home Theater Systems will be on-site with a hi-fi audio demo station set up for customers to listen to their Record Store Day purchases. The demonstration will feature a Debut Carbon turntable with Ortofon OM-10 cartridge, NAD receiver, and PSB speakers.
Bull Moose Lewiston, 20 East Ave.
12-2 p.m. – Original WrestleMania tournaments on 8-Bit Nintendo to celebrate The Wrestling Album and Piledriver release.
2:30 p.m. – Jeff Beam acoustic in-store performance.
Bull Moose Portland, 151 Middle Street
2:30 p.m. – Dot Wiggin Band signing.
4:00 p.m. – Worried Well acoustic in-store performance.
5 – 6 p.m. – Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots tournament.
Bull Moose Scarborough, 456 Payne Road
12 – 2 p.m. – WCYY DJ Mark Curdo DJ Set
2 – 3 p.m. – Murcielago in-store performance.
Bull Moose South Portland, 219 Waterman Drive
1:00 p.m. – An Overnight Low acoustic in-store performance.
Bull Moose Waterville, 80 Elm Plaza
12 – 12:45 p.m. – Audio Apocalypse in-store performance.
1 – 2 p.m. – Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots tournament.
Bull Moose Portsmouth, 82-86 Congress Street
1 – 2 p.m – Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots tournament.
3 – 4 p.m. – “Professor Colletta’s Music History Trivia A to Z”
5 – 6 p.m. – Wheel-O-Fun. Spin the prize wheel— every spin wins something!
Bull Moose Salem, 419 South Broadway
2 p.m. – Carissa Johnson acoustic in-store performance.
Locally, Portland folk rockers Tall Horse will be releasing their new single on VHS, of all formats. Will it be an audio visual experience? Will it be the first installment in a new formatting trend? Where did I put my VCR?
Prolific Portland pop rocker Spencer Albee will also be cranking out another new release for the holiday, a CD called Mistakes Were Made.
Some Maine locations do choose to participate, but not hold any special events, which means some of the exclusive RSD releases will also be available at Newbury Comics on South Portland, Manny’s in Camden, Music Plus in Biddeford and Record Connection in Waterville.
Of course RSD is so much about supporting independent record stores and the local community, but what would this holiday be without a little consumerism? So what should we be excited for? Well I can tell you didn’t watch that whole video, so here’s some highlights:
Jack White is re-releasing Elvis’ first ever vinyl release which was originally recorded in 1953 and features “My Happiness” and “That’s When Your Heartaches Begin.”
Courtney Barnett’s Kim’s Caravan 12” featuring “Kim’s Caravan” and “Close Watch” (a John Cale cover!)
Father John Misty’s I Love You, Honeybee 7” on a heart shaped vinyl (whoa) featuring “I Love You, Honeybear” (acoustic) and a new song “Never Been a Woman.”
Johnny Marr’s I Feel You 7” featuring his covers of Depeche Mode’s “I Feel You” and kinda himself with a version of The Smiths’ “Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want.”
Vampire Weekend’s Step 12” featuring “Step,” the remix featuring Danny Brown, Heems, and Despot and the instrumental.
Blitzen Trapper’s Harvest 12”, a live recording from the other Portland of the band covering tracks from Neil Young’s Harvest album.
J Dilla’s Love 7” featuring previously unreleased material and a reissue of his “Fuck The Police” on a 7” shaped like a badge.
Metallica’s 1982 demo tape No Life Til Leathr, on cassette no less.
D’Angelo’s The Charade 7” which features “Charade” and “1000 Deaths” Rhino Records is also releasing a “Side by Side 7” Series,” which features two artists doing their own versions of the same song, one the original, and one a cover. R.E.M. and Syd Barrett doing “Dark Globe,” David Bowie and Tom Verlaine doing “Kingdom Come,” Death Cab for Cutie and Freedy Johnston doing “Bad Reputation,” Stiff Little Fingers and Grandmaster Flash doing “The Message,” the Lemonheads and Gram Parsons doing “Brass Buttons,” and The Stranglers and Dionne Warwick doing “Walk on By.”
On the national level, RSD’s official 2015 ambassador is Dave Grohl, who is releasing a batch of early recordings from the Foo Fighters titled Songs From The Laundry Room, and even hehas a video.
The official RSD beer is Dogfish Head, and they’ll be releasing a compilation called Music To Drink Beer To, which was compiled by the brewers and features Bob Dylan & The Band, Uncle Tupelo, Iggy & The Stooges, Cheap Trick (!) and a Tribe Called Quest (?) among some other well known artists.
As with every record store day, its usually a good idea to check online on Friday to make sure the record you’re looking for is at the location you plan on hitting up, and when you do head in to get a RSD exclusive, you may want to get in line early. It’s like Christmas, you guys, Nerd Christmas in April.
It’ll be a great show of course (this was) —there is no ill will on my part. But it made me think of how many bucket list bands are getting checked off this summer in Portland for the the 17-30 year old spread. Spoon? Check. Slayer? Check. Sufjan Stevens? Check. That band your little brother just discovered? Check.
Then it quickly led me think of a game I will often play with friends of “Entirely Possible Portland Dream Shows” which will serve as a bucket list suggestion for the always amazing bookers of Portland.
Looking at you, Lauren, or unknown millionaires — and to give it that HillyTown local touch, the opening act for this scenario will be a Maine-centric band.
I’ve made it pretty clear by now that I’m a huge fan of everything that Greg Bazinet, Tara and Brian Cohen have been involved with musically. From their scrappy roots playing (for the most part) acoustic-tinged punk, to their all-out epic and final album under The Rattlesnakes banner, Spine..
But as some famous guy from awhile ago one said: “The times they are a’changing,” and The Rattlesnakes have been given their burial rights and it’s time to get very, very excited about the next sister band to come from The Rattlesnakes — Fur — who just released a DIY video for “Bronze” the first official studio track from their new album 2 Hearted Horse.
..Illinoise swept-up a small subset of an indie culture inthralled with Stevens’ Magnetic Fields—esque promise of writing, composing and producing 50 albums for all 50 states, a plan he later rebuked).
Lady Lamb performing at Port City last month, openers Cuddle Magic will take the stage at SPACE next week. PHOTO: HillyTown/Andrew Foster
It’s true — I’m not Dylan Martin, your usual HillyTown weekly Friday rounder-uper. Dylan is currently working on a more involved story for HillyTown that will be up next week (or so he says; odds are higher that he’s currently playing a pretty intense game of Settlers of Catan with his cats or, whatever this is). So for one week only, I will wear the Friday Roundup Crown of Snark and see what Portland has been up to on both the local and national stages.
A lot of things can be said about the effect of the Internet on music an it’s reach to potential audiences. Almost thirty years ago Paul Simon brought traditional Afropop music out of the incense heavy world of import clothing shops and thrust Graceland onto the main stage and record stores across the world — eventually landing him a Grammy Award for album of the year in 1987 (of course, this is glossing over the controversy surrounding Graceland; which include but are not limited tocultural appropriation and making sure musician’s contributing to the album got their rightful credit — also, Chevy Chase).
Okay, in all honesty sometimes we miss some pretty great local releases when they come out and just get to (hopefully) cover the subsequent touring following a release. Well, this is sort of like that — but sadly, not enough of the later.
First of all, apologies for the lack of updates over here the ol’ HillyTown home — between the flu, SXSW, and multiple full-time jobs, things have been a bit busy at HQ. But no worries: we don’t want Hilly to fade into a Portland myth like The Taxis or Marie Stella.
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.
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 Michaelsonplays 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 Festivalfizzled 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 atHaru 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.
Tricky Britches at Arootsakoostic – photo by No Idea Productions
Arootsakoostik, the ninth annual outdoor music festival in New Sweden, ME, is growing in the natural way (see our coverage of previous years here). What began as a project of passion for Aroostook County native Travis Cyr, has blossomed to include two new events: the Eurekakoostik pre-festival showcase July 10th, and the A-Roots Ramble April 3rd and 4th; both will be held at the Eureka Hall in Stockholm, ME.
Each year, Arootsakoostik pulls musicians from around the state to perform at the band shell at Thomas Park in New Sweden. “In the 9 years since Gardenstock [the original name for the fest] we have grown slowly and organically. We’ve experimented with multiple stages, we’ve featured music in the woods, all the while maintaining an incredibly talented roster of artists and pure intentions every year,” Cyr told me in a recent interview. Now, the festival is spreading its roots out to include the Eurekakoostik showcase the day before in nearby Stockholm. The showcase will feature 4-5 bands playing 60 minute sets at the indoor Eureka Hall, which also features a great food and beer selection. “The idea of a two day festival has always been around us, but is just taxing on our small team. By teaming up with Eureka, we can essentially fill the weekend up with music,” said Cyr, who has been booking shows for the Eureka Hall for the last few years, “For those who wish to explore the County and get up here a bit early for the fest, it gives them another incentive.”
For Cyr, the location is the key to the whole project. “It’s beautiful up here, spacious, relaxed. I believe the remoteness of it is a big part of the charm. For many playing the event, and more and more those spectating, coming to AROOTS was their first time this far north in Maine,” Cyr said, referring to the nearly five and a half hour drive from Portland, “It’s not like there are a lot of venues for all these bands to play in Aroostook County, which was a huge factor why I began doing what I do up here in the first place. I am certain people feel community and a part of something when at AROOTS.” The community feel has become apparent even in the formatting of the shows, particularly in the A-Roots Ramble, which models itself off of Levon Helm’s Midnight Ramble and the Bob Dylan Rolling Thunder Revue. For those unfamiliar, the Ramble style will feature two days of collaboration between musicians including Dark Hollow Bottling Co., Dominic & the Lucid, Tricky Britches, Jacob Augustine, Putnam Smith and the man himself, Travis Cyr. “The idea again is just a celebration of music between a mutual set of friends/musicians. Our intentions are for these shows to be real loose, format wise; everyone playing their songs, for and with each other,” Cyr told me, “I will sit in with DHBC, Tricky Britches will back me for some songs, maybe I will play mandolin with Jacob Augustine, maybe Jacob Augustine will play with the Lucid. The idea is to encourage collaboration, and have fun.”
Cyr may be a bit removed from most Maine musicians, but his intentions and goals are true. “I do not feel much recognition or acknowledgement by the Portland music scene. I like to think of this all as a Maine scene. We are all living, writing, working, performing, creating in the state of Maine.” With all the festivals Portland is offering this summer, perhaps it is that which sets him apart that is his greatest strength. “Certainly being so far removed from “society” up here, I’m not a very familiar face/name in the big city. That’s OK, I love all this space up here, and I’ve never been much on trends.”
When the July heat has set upon us, you’ll be grateful for an excuse to get out of the “big city” and out into the County, ahem, country. It’s a weekend of roots, folk, Americana and rock way out, just east of the boonies. Anybody wanna carpool?
A-Roots Ramble at Eureka Hall, Stockholm, ME April 3rd and 4th 2015
Eurekakoostik at Eureka Hall, Stockholm, ME July 10th, 2015
Arootsakoostik at the Thomas Park bandshell, New Sweden, ME July 11th, 2015
First time here? Start with the blog for news, mp3s, videos, and photo galleries, then check out our showlistto see what's happening tonight, this weekend, or next month.
Send comments, questions, contributor submissions (we're always looking for more writers and photographers!) and feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org. To submit Maine music news, please write to email@example.com. Please note that we do not do album reviews, but feel free to suggest records on Bandcamp or Soundcloud to feature, or tell us about your upcoming tour.