A collection of musically themed musings by Brendan Bush in Burlington, VT

Listen to this: Patrick Watson

Filed Under: Wicked Good Music
Written by Brendan
Monday June 4, 2012

I just finished listening to Patrick Watson’s new release Adventures In Your Own Backyard and liked it enough to inspire me to write something here for the first time in months. Having just returned from a whirlwind 10 days overseas, this simple, sweet and sentimental album is the perfect way to soothe out and transition back home.

Here’s a Tiny Desk Concert recorded last week:

Here’s Adventures In Your Own Backyard on Spotify, iTunes or Amazon (where it’s currently just $4.99).

Patrick Watson will be opening for Andrew Bird in the Higher Ground Ballroom on Friday, July 20.

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Note: All photos are copyright © 2010 Brendan Bush unless otherwise noted. You are free to copy, distribute and transmit them as long as proper attribution is given, in accordance with this Creative Commons policy.

Wrapup: The Thoughts @ Monkey House 11/7/2011

Filed Under: Concert Reviews
Written by Brendan
Monday November 7, 2011

What can I say, I’m a sucker for falsetto. I wasn’t sure what was going to get me back to writing, but now I know the answer.  Though he didn’t need to play Radiohead and Neutral Milk Hotel covers to draw the comparison, The Thoughts vocalist Ian Williams made it easy for an overworked web developer-cum-music blogger to make a lazy comparison for reference.  Williams did a perfect Thom Yorke and a really good Jeff Mangum, but their original work was all The Thoughts needed to make me a quick fan.

Ian Williams of The Thoughts

Though I was one of maybe 3 people at the Monkey House to see The Thoughts tonight (the other 8 folks there were REALLY LOUD people playing pool in the back), they still put on a show that would have worked as well in either my living room or to a crowd of a couple hundred.  While the show was billed as a trio, Williams and violinist/harpist Katie Mosehauer were without percussion.  It may have livened up the show, but I was just as happy sitting in a chair at the front and resting my legs so my ears could do all the work.

Katie Mosehauer of The Thoughts

I only wish I’d paid more attention so I could have invited more folks to the show tonight.  I can’t think of a single person who I share musical interest with who wouldn’t have loved the performance.  The Thoughts are on the East coast for a few more shows, and are based out of Seattle.  If you have the chance to see them, I highly recommend it.  I’m already looking forward to their next trip east, and will be listening to I Won’t Keep You Here from now until then.

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Note: All photos are copyright © 2010 Brendan Bush unless otherwise noted. You are free to copy, distribute and transmit them as long as proper attribution is given, in accordance with this Creative Commons policy.

Wrapup: Jeff Mangum @ First Unitarian Church, Burlington 8/8/11

Filed Under: Live Shows
Written by Brendan
Tuesday August 9, 2011

Though I admittedly waste way too much time paying attention to live music listings in Burlington, Montreal, Boston, D.C., New York and Chicago, sometimes all that wasted time pays off.  For every 50 shows I see that are in a city that I can’t make it to, I come across one gem like last night’s show that makes every freaking second worth it.

As a brief introduction for those unfamiliar, Jeff Mangum was most notably the the driving force behind Neutral Milk Hotel, indie rock idols who last released an album in 1998.  Yup, the same year I was heading off to college with posters of 2Pac and Wu-Tang Clan to hang on my walls, Jeff Mangum released what could be considered one of the best albums of my generation.

Last night, after taking a decade or so off of performing live music, Mangum proved to an adoring crowd of several hundred overheated fans that the wait was worth it.  And the audience responded in kind, pumping the packed, nearly 200-year old church with a palpable electricity.

A few songs in, as he was putting down one guitar and picking up another underneath a glowing red altar, the PA system popped and went silent.  Taking it completely in stride, Mangum picked up his folding chair and a guitar and sat on the floor facing the first pew to sing a tune while the issue was fixed.  With at least half of the audience singing along (at his request), he belted out an acoustic rendition of Two Headed Boy Pt. 2 as people streamed from the pews to the floor to sit beside him.

Playing a good mix of tunes from Neutral Milk Hotel’s two releases (Avery Island & In the Aeroplane Over the Sea), as well as a Daniel Johnston cover and an unreleased song requested by someone up front, Mangum gave us no hint as to his future as a performer, only a reminder of his talented past.

Kudos to everyone there last night (at least as far as I’ve heard) for respecting the artist’s request for no photos or recording of any sort.  It definitely spoke volumes about the quality of Burlington’s live music scene, and made me excited rather than envious for the first time in a while.

Extra special thanks go to Angioplasty Media and MSR for bringing this show to Burlington. Your efforts are more appreciated than I’m able to express on the internet.  Please keep doing what you’re doing.


Note: All photos are copyright © 2010 Brendan Bush unless otherwise noted. You are free to copy, distribute and transmit them as long as proper attribution is given, in accordance with this Creative Commons policy.

This Friday (5/27) – Girls in Trouble @ SEABA Center

Filed Under: Live Shows, On Permanent Rotation Presents
Written by Brendan
Tuesday May 24, 2011

While I’m (still) working on nailing down an opening band, I’m very excited to officially announce a show that I’m hosting this Friday at the SEABA Center on Pine St. in the South End (between Fresh Market & Speeder and Earl’s). The headliner is Brooklyn’s Girls In Trouble, a 4-piece violin driven indie folk band. They’ve just released a wonderful new album, Half You Half Me, and I’ve been following them since 2009, when they were featured on my Favorite Music list.

All ages are welcome, and I’m asking for a $10 suggested donation (all of which will go to the band). But don’t let money stop you from coming – if your cash flow is hurting right now, come listen to some good music anyways.

RSVP and find more info on Facebook.

Doors open at 8pm. Hope to see you there! The sound quality isn’t the best, and the camera is a little shaky, but here’s Girls In Trouble performing “Marble Floor” from their self-titled debut LP:

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Note: All photos are copyright © 2010 Brendan Bush unless otherwise noted. You are free to copy, distribute and transmit them as long as proper attribution is given, in accordance with this Creative Commons policy.

Late April/Early May shows to see in Burlington & Montreal

Filed Under: Live Shows, Local Bands
Written by Brendan
Tuesday April 19, 2011

I’ve been dying to post more here, including a wrapup of the fantastic Iron & Wine show at Higher Ground this past Sunday. Unfortunately, 100% of my time at the computer has been consumed with work, and as this blog currently costs more money than it makes me, I’ve been unable to give it the attention it deserves. Apologies — I’ll do better.

But until then, there is some really good music coming through Burlington over the next couple of weeks. Here are a few highlights:

Friday, 4/22
Milagres w/ The Milkman’s Union @ The Monkey House, Winooski
Show: 9pm $5 (at the door)

Friday, 4/29
Villanelles EP release party @ Signal Kitchen (71 Main St), Burlington
Show: 9pm $5 BYOB (at the door)

Tuesday, May 3
In Tall Buildings w/ Maryse Smith & The Rosesmiths @ Monkey House, Winooski
Show: 9pm, $8 (at the door)

I know there are a few readers from Montreal, and there are also a couple of really good shows coming up. It’s been too long since I’ve seen a show up there (since BSS in December), and unfortunately I won’t be able to make it to these, so would someone please go and have fun for me?

Sunday, May 1
Freelance Whales @ Le National
Surfer Blood @ La Tulipe

Wednesday, May 4
Dan Mangan @ La Sala Rossa

Thursday, May 12
The Airborne Toxic Event @ La Tulipe

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Note: All photos are copyright © 2010 Brendan Bush unless otherwise noted. You are free to copy, distribute and transmit them as long as proper attribution is given, in accordance with this Creative Commons policy.

Starfucker @ Higher Ground 4/8/2011: Wrapup & Photos

Filed Under: Concert Reviews
Written by Brendan
Sunday April 10, 2011

“No, no barricade — we’d rather they fuck up our equipment than have a barricade.” That was a wonderful start to a wonderful show, as Ryan Biornstad, Starfucker vocalist and jack-of-all-trades (guitar, keyboard, turntables, dancer) told Higher Ground security to stop backing people away from the stage as they sound checked.

I had really high hopes for this show and the band met my expectations, easily. There were lasers, a ton of dancing (on and off stage), and well, this photo does a much better job than I could of describing the energy at the Higher Ground’s Showcase Lounge:

Starfucker @ Higher Ground 4/8/11 Burlington, VT

Starfucker played a brief but exciting set, much of it from their recently released Reptilians, but also featuring some of my favorites from their self-titled debut LP, including “laadeedaa” and “Rawnald Gregory Erickson the Second.” Thankfully, there was a really good turnout, and I don’t think there was a single person there who didn’t have a wicked good time. The energy was infectious — smiles never left the faces of the five guys on stage, and it was impossible not to move to the music.

Starfucker @ Higher Ground 4/8/11 Burlington, VT

I’m fairly fascinated with the demographics of the crowd that turned out, further confusing my understanding of what makes people go to shows. It was a significantly different group of folks than I generally see out at the Higher Ground, and I’m glad to see a band like Starfucker have the draw to bring out such a seemingly diverse audience. If that many people turned out regularly to support live music in Burlington, there is no doubt that we’d become a regular stop between Montreal and Massachusetts. Thanks to the hard work of Angioplasty Media and MSR Presents, and the continued willingness of Higher Ground and Monkey House to host indie music bands, we’re on the way. But it’s fans who really keep these bands coming back, and I really enjoyed seeing so many music fans turn out on Friday.

Starfucker @ Higher Ground 4/8/11 Burlington, VT

I’d see Starfucker again anytime they came through town, and if you like to dance, I suggest you keep them on your radar as well.

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Note: All photos are copyright © 2010 Brendan Bush unless otherwise noted. You are free to copy, distribute and transmit them as long as proper attribution is given, in accordance with this Creative Commons policy.

You’ll be sorry if you miss it: Starfucker @ Higher Ground

Filed Under: Live Shows
Written by Brendan
Tuesday March 29, 2011

There are definitely a couple of posts that I’ve written the day after a show that begin with a sentiment close to “you blew it if you weren’t there.” In the spirit of fairness, I thought I’d tell you explicitly in advance this time: if you aren’t at the Starfucker show next Friday, April 8 at the Higher Ground Showcase Lounge, you’re blowing it.

Portland, Oregon’s Starfucker, previously known as Starf**ker, STRFKR and potentially some other variation(s) of their current (and seemingly complete) band name, are a real treat for Burlington-area indie music fans. This is a band with a huge following in their hometown, and one that I am 100% sure is going to become immensely popular in the next couple of years (if not sooner). Their music is just too damn good.

They play songs ranging from straight up electronic dance jams to more mellowed-out shoe-gazers. It occurs to me that I haven’t mentioned the price of the show – it’s $10. Ten measly dollars. You’ve spent more than that on a six-pack — you’ll enjoy this much more. If we’re lucky, Starfucker might even treat us to tales of the recent (apparently unsubstantiated) arrest of band member Ryan Biornstad at SXSW in Austin, TX.

If you like to dance, sing in the car or the shower, jump up and down, smile, or if you just like to party, I suggest you join me at Higher Ground next Friday. Still unconvinced? Just be the first person to comment on this post, and I’ll send you a free ticket (be sure to use a valid email address).

Here’s a quick (albeit blurry) example of what you’ll be missing if you aren’t there:


Note: All photos are copyright © 2010 Brendan Bush unless otherwise noted. You are free to copy, distribute and transmit them as long as proper attribution is given, in accordance with this Creative Commons policy.

Good shows upcoming in Burlington & Montreal

Filed Under: Live Shows
Written by Brendan
Wednesday March 23, 2011

Here are a few shows I recommend seeing over the next month or so.

Monday, March 28
Young Galaxy @ Monkey House
$7 (at door)

I saw Young Galaxy open for Stars in December and would recommend them to anyone. Be prepared for a very pregnant lead singer…

Wednesday, March 30
Titus Andronicus @ Metronome
$10

You’ll have to like your rock a bit on the grittier & noisier side to enjoy this show. Expect a lot of sweaty excitement, and definitely bring earplugs.

Friday, April 8
Starfucker @ Higher Ground Showcase Lounge
$10

If you like to dance, this show is for you. Starfucker play high energy pop rock.

Tuesday, April 12
The Black Angels & Suuns @ La Sala Rossa (Montreal)
$17

The Black Angels are psych rock at its finest. I’ve wanted to see them since their 2006 release Passover.

Sunday, April 17
Iron & Wine @ Higher Ground Ballroom (sold out)

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Note: All photos are copyright © 2010 Brendan Bush unless otherwise noted. You are free to copy, distribute and transmit them as long as proper attribution is given, in accordance with this Creative Commons policy.

Wrapup: The Head and the Heart @ Higher Ground 2/15/2011

Filed Under: Concert Reviews, Live Shows
Written by Brendan
Wednesday February 16, 2011

Last night, I caught The Head and the Heart (who opened for Dr. Dog) at the Higher Ground.  It’s the strangest thing, but their performance was so impressive that it really makes their album seem a little lackluster.  Not that I’ve stopped listening to it today (currently on the third time through), but the band has definitely come a long way since they recorded it (they originally self-released the album in July 2010), and their live act adds so much character to their music.

The Head and the Heart @ Higher Ground, Burlington VT

They clearly have such a good time playing that it was hard not to get swept up in it, but what impressed me wasn’t  just the energy they played with.  They also consistently belted out flawless 3-part vocal harmonies, thumped and shook impeccably timed percussion and threw in a jangly piano and some violin to boot.

Jon Russell and Josiah Johnson share the lead vocal duties, and both went all out.  Russell’s voice is normally deep and raspy, but he hits falsetto notes too.  Johnson was so crisp and clear that at times it was hard to believe there were other instruments playing.  Percussionist Tyler Williams went from four-limbed madman, nearly jumping out of his seat for entire songs, to egg-shaking time keeper, precisely placing shifts and tics.

My only hope is that as they continue to write music, The Head and the Heart finds a way to use vocalist/violinist Charity Rose Thielen’s voice more often.  She’s the perfect complement to the two male voices in harmonies, but it was her several solo lines that garnered the most attention from the audience (In “Rivers and Roads” and “Winter Song”), and I was seriously impressed at her vocal range.

All in all, I highly recommend seeing The Head and the Heart.  It’d be pretty hard not to have a good time.  Oh, and if they are opening for Dr. Dog and you plan on staying for that, make sure to bring your earplugs.  I brought the wrong ones, and only made it through the first 5 Dr. Dog songs before I couldn’t take the loudness anymore.

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Note: All photos are copyright © 2010 Brendan Bush unless otherwise noted. You are free to copy, distribute and transmit them as long as proper attribution is given, in accordance with this Creative Commons policy.

Wrapup: Split Tongue Crow @ Shelburne Steakhouse 1/22/2011

Filed Under: Album Reviews, Concert Reviews
Written by Brendan
Tuesday January 25, 2011

I wrote about Split Tongue Crow’s self-titled debut album last year. What impressed me then was the same thing that I enjoyed about their show last weekend at Shelburne Steakhouse: vocalist Cara White’s voice.

Though I was a little skeptical of the venue, I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised at the general ambiance and setup of the “stage” area at the Shelburne Steakhouse. For the most part, folks sat at tables that basically surrounded the floor to enjoy the easygoing folk sounds of Split Tongue Crow. The majority of their music doesn’t exactly lend itself to dancing, so the empty dance floor didn’t feel as awkward as it might have otherwise.

The show was well attended, and the band played many songs from their new album as well as several others. They had a good rapport with the audience, and drummer Matt Marro’s dry-humored (if perhaps overeager) banter kept things light.

Electric guitarist David Anderson, who spent much of the night re-tuning his cold weather averse instrument, could have spent a little less time with his back to the audience, as his impressive guitar work is certainly worth watching. Lead vocalist Eoin Noonan and bass guitarist/vocalist Jeremy Woods both sounded great — particularly Woods on “Midlife Missile Crisis,” my favorite from their album and from the show.

Like I said, Cara White was definitely the highlight for me. I didn’t actually pick up how much her vocals play into harmonies throughout their album, but her impressive contribution was on display on Saturday. Not to diminish how good the band sounded as a whole though – I’m significantly more into their music than I was before seeing them play live.

I definitely recommend seeing Split Tongue Crow when they come to your town (they play The Skinny Pancake in Burlington on Feb. 5). You can check out their full schedule, listen to their songs, and buy their album via this link.

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Note: All photos are copyright © 2010 Brendan Bush unless otherwise noted. You are free to copy, distribute and transmit them as long as proper attribution is given, in accordance with this Creative Commons policy.