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

Twitter-length review: Villanelles @ Muddy Waters 12/10/2010

Filed Under: Twitter-Length Review
Written by Brendan
Saturday December 11, 2010

missed harmonies, rocking walking basslines. better screamed than sung – maybe it was because they were trying to be quiet? I’ll try again.

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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: Langhorne Slim @ Higher Ground 12/1/2010

Filed Under: Concert Reviews
Written by Brendan
Thursday December 2, 2010

It’s not often that I have such high expectations as I did last night for Langhorne Slim, who I’ve wanted to see for at least 5 years. It’s also not often that those expectations are exceeded, but Langhorne Slim did it last night. The band put on a performance that easily ranks in my favorite 5 of the year, and has had me listening to Langhorne albums all morning. Here are some photos from the show, with more wrapup beneath them:

The only slightly negative aspect of the night was the slim attendance (couldn’t resist the pun). I wish I knew what it took to drive people to shows, as I can almost guarantee that everyone there last night had an amazing time. That was easily the best $10 show I’ve been to, and if you missed it, you blew it.

Anyhow, the band consists of Langhorne Slim (born Sean Scolnick) on guitar & lead vocals, Malachi DeLorenzo on drums, Jeff Ratner on upright bass and David Moore on keyboard & banjo. The upright bass adds such a presence onstage, and such a richness to the music. And Ratner knows how to work it.

Moore was animated on the keys, and a downright animal on the banjo. In one particular maelstrom of strumming, he managed to both break a string and rip the accompanying tuning key right out of the banjo head. The volume on the banjo could have been turned up a bit for the whole show, but it was played with such zeal that even with minimal amplification, it was still a presence.

DeLorenzo also attacked his instrument with a particular fervor, all four of his limbs moving so quickly they were almost hard to see. It seemed like he was working to contain himself from jumping out of his seat for most of the show.

And Langhorne Slim himself left it all on stage, ending the night covered in sweat and stripped down to a tank top t-shirt. His songwriting is so forthright and easy to relate to that it doesn’t take much for him to have an immediate connection with the audience. And his stage presence only amplifies that feeling. They played a fairly long setlist, featuring material from the most recent release, Be Set Free, as well as songs from several of their previous albums. My personal favorite was “She’s Gone,” but then that’s also my favorite song of their whole catalog…

If you don’t own any Langhorne Slim, it’s time you gave it a listen. And if these guys play anywhere close to you, go see them. I promise, you won’t be disappointed. Along with Midlake, Langhorne Slim now tops my list of bands I need to see again, and as soon as humanly possible.

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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.

Upcoming Shows in Burlington

Filed Under: Live Shows, Local Bands
Written by Brendan
Sunday November 28, 2010

There are a few good shows coming up that I recommend seeing.  If you were to only go to one of them, I highly recommend Langhorne Slim.  He made my Favorite Music 2006 list, and I’ve been dying to see him live ever since.  His live show is supposed to be outstanding…

Wednesday, December 1
Langhorne Slim @ Higher Ground

Tuesday, December 7
Miniature Tigers w/Maga @ Monkey House

Maga is one of my favorite local acts, and sure to put on a good show. They alone make the cost of admission worth it, though I also recommend sticking around for Brooklyn’s Miniature Tigers.

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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: Horse Feathers & Anais Mitchell @ Higher Ground 11/10/2010

Filed Under: Concert Reviews
Written by Brendan
Thursday November 11, 2010

If there’s one word I could use to describe last night’s show, it would be “beautiful.” Though I’m not sure that quite does justice to the performances by Horse Feathers and Anais Mitchell.

Sadly I missed Paddy Reagan (as Paper Castles), who opened the show. I got there to a fairly packed house (I didn’t bother to try and count the people, but the Showcase Lounge was significantly more full than I’ve seen it in a very long time). I have to assume that Anais (a Vermonter) was the big draw, but regardless of why they were there, it was nice to see such a large crowd for a folk music show.

Horse Feathers came on first (they were co-billed with Anais, and I’m pretty sure she’s been opening for them, so again, I have to assume it had to do with the show being in VT). They are a four-person band, with Justin Ringle on vocals & (mostly) acoustic guitar, Catherine O’Dell on cello, Nathan Crockett on violin and Sam Cooper as a multi-instrumentalist (including drums, banjo, xylophone and a variety of others).

Horse Feathers

They played several songs from House With No Home, my favorite album of theirs, as well as a lot of songs off of their latest album Thistled Spring. Ringle’s vocals were obviously the highlight of the show, imparting such sorrow without being weepy or melodramatic. I also particularly liked the plucking of the cello, and my personal favorite instrument of the night — the edge of a cymbal played with a bow. Definitely never seen that before, and it created such a unique sound.

As the sunlight dwindles, the days get colder and winter nestles in for the long haul, Horse Feathers put on a performance that seemed to perfectly match my mood. You can be sure that they’ll be on heavy rotation for the cold, dark months to come.

Anais Mitchell took the stage with a couple of her friends, one on electric guitar and the other on drums/keys/etc. They played an assortment of her solo material and songs from her rock opera “Hadestown.” This is the second time I’ve seen Anais play (the first being my very first show in Burlington, in early 2007), and she has definitely made huge leaps forward. Her voice is still out of this world, but she appeared much more confident and at home in the spotlight, where she definitely belongs.

Anais Mitchell @ Higher Ground 11/10/2010

The songs I liked most were the ones Anais played alone — I think her voice tended to shine more (it’s really tough to describe, but I think caramel coated sugar is a good descriptor). I heard a couple of different people in the audience talking to each other about how outstanding her singing voice is, and I couldn’t agree more. Not that she isn’t already well on her way, but I expect very big things from Anais as more people have the chance to hear her sing.

Because folk music doesn’t always translate well at a live show, I tend not to go to folk-ish shows very often, but Anais Mitchell and Horse Feathers proved to me last night that a folk performance can be as captivating and beautiful as any.


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.

Twitter-length Wrapup: Hey Rosetta! @ Higher Ground 11/8/2010

Filed Under: Twitter-Length Review
Written by Brendan
Tuesday November 9, 2010

I don’t love all the shows I go to, and sometimes I don’t have so much to write about those shows. So I’m introducing a new form of review: the twitter-length wrapup. A 140-character (or less) summary of my experience. Here goes:

Not enough songs. Good vocals, but uninspired presentation. Small crowd. Cool instruments, but missing something. Drummer seemed bored.

Hey Rosetta! @ Higher Ground, Burlington VT, 11/8/2010

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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.

7 Questions for Hey Rosetta!

Filed Under: 7 Questions, Live Shows
Written by Brendan
Monday November 8, 2010

Hey Rosetta!

Photo credit: Jule Malet-Veale

Canadian rockers Hey Rosetta! are playing the Showcase Lounge at Higher Ground tonight (opening for Sarah Harmer), and bass guitarist Josh Ward was kind enough to answer a few questions for me in advance of their set. If you’re in town tonight, definitely check these guys out.

BB: Montreal and Toronto have been real incubators of quality indie rock over the past decade. Though it’s a smaller city, is there any such music scene in St. Johns, or are you pioneering the way? Do you think bands like BSS, Metric, Stars, etc have helped pave the way to a larger audience for other Canadian bands?

JW: It’s a funny thing, the St. John’s music scene. It has one of the most impressive amateur music scenes that I think I’ve ever seen, in terms of creative and talented people. With that, though, there are few bands from there who do it professionally, or go out and tour. It seems like music is always just something on the side. Your dentist might also be your favourite singer/songwriter. I think we’re lucky that we still have a small town kinda vibe. Chances are you know most of the people in the “scene” and as a result, there’s a lot of support.

There have been a lot of really amazing Canadian bands over the years who have certainly helped to make it possible for bands like us to do what we do. The bands you mentioned are great, and successful, proving that there is something to this “Canadian music.” We see it a lot when we’re out on the road. There’s a great respect all over for bands from Canada these days.

BB: I read on your tour blog that you’ll be bringing a smaller lineup on the next leg of your tour — who’s staying behind, and who makes that call?

JW: Well, on this leg we’re opening for Sarah Harmer, and her management wanted something a little lighter, and specifically smaller than we usually are. We had a discussion about it, and our guitarist, Adam, decided to sit this one out.

BB: I see that you’re working on a new album for early next year — did you write much of it while on the road, or did you take a break and make a more concerted effort to put together an album?

JW: Sometimes it is kind of difficult to find the time to really sit down and focus on writing an album while touring so much. A lot of these songs took a long time to develop. We would get together and bash out the tunes wherever we could find a little break, and do what we could (often forgetting most of the work we had done on them since the previous time we got together). There was no real extended break to strictly work on writing this album though. In fact, some of the tunes really only came together finally in the studio.

BB: You won several awards for Into Your Lungs – how has that success affected the creation of your upcoming effort? Did it create pressure, inspiration, something else?

JW: I’m not sure that success has affected the creation of the new album so much. Certainly we all feel a little anxious about it, though. There will likely be expectations from people of what it should be. I just hope this album can stand on its own. We really worked hard on it, and are proud of it as it is. Hopefully it won’t have to live in some shadow.

BB: Your band profiles have stayed pretty busy on Facebook and Twitter — who’s managing that stuff, and has the connection with your fans on those networks changed your experience as a band?

JW: We all kinda take part in that stuff. Our manager does some of the quick updates, but the rest is directly from one of us (usually Tim with the blogs, or Phil). It would be hard to imagine where this band would be without those types of networks. In the beginning, especially, we had a really strong internet community of fans and friends who helped us out immeasurably on our early tours. Not to mention getting hooked up with other bands and venues from abroad. It’s a great way to stay in touch with all those familiar faces we see on the road.

Thanks to Josh for taking the time out of a busy schedule. Here’s Hey Rosetta! playing A Thousand Suns (at a venue quite a bit larger than the one they’ll be playing tonight, but you get the point…):

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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.

Upcoming shows in Burlington & Montreal

Filed Under: Live Shows
Written by Brendan
Tuesday November 2, 2010

There is a lot of good music over the next couple of weeks in this area, and I wanted to bring some of it to your attention (though you can always check for good upcoming shows in Burlington and Montreal using the calendar to the right). You can listen to any of the bands using the links below. I highly recommend any and all of these shows, and will be making it to several myself.

The Joy Formidable @ Petit Campus, Montreal
Thursday, Nov. 4

Morning Benders @ Higher Ground, Burlington
Sunday, Nov. 7

Hey Rosetta! (opening for Sarah Harmer) @ Higher Ground, Burlington
Monday, Nov. 8

Clinic @ La Sala Rossa, Montreal
Tuesday, Nov. 9

Glasser @ Il Motore, Montreal
Wednesday, Nov. 10

Horse Feathers & Anais Mitchell @ Higher Ground, Burlington
Wednesday, Nov. 10

Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti @ Le National, Montreal
Tuesday, Nov. 16

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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.

Photos: Dungen @ Monkey House 10/12/2010

Filed Under: Live Shows, Local Bands
Written by Brendan
Wednesday October 13, 2010

I’m lacking the motivation to put much of it into words, so I’ll just share some extra photos. I enjoyed Dungen, though I didn’t stay for their full set as it didn’t begin until after midnight and I just can’t hack that like I once could’ve. The Monkey House was packed, and for good reason.

The shows two openers were the highlights for me — both Maga and The Entrance Band put on impressive performances that would have stood out on their own. That I was able to see them back to back for just $8 seems an injustice. If you live in this area, put Maga, a Burlington-based band, near the top of your list of bands to see. And if you’re into psych rock, definitely check out The Entrance Band (though not via their myspace page, which definitely has some sort of virus on it). Photos:

Bryan Parmalee of Maga

Bryan Parmalee of Maga

Maga

Maga

The Entrance Band

The Entrance Band

The Entrance Band

The Entrance Band

Gustav Ejstes of Dungen

Gustav Ejstes of Dungen

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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.

Show preview: Dungen @ Monkey House tonight, Oct 12

Filed Under: Live Shows
Written by Brendan
Tuesday October 12, 2010

Dungen

Photo by Karl Max

Swedish psych-rock-folk-ers Dungen play the Monkey House tonight with The Entrance Band and Burlington’s own Maga. Unless you speak Swedish, you won’t understand a word, but their music definitely speaks for itself. I’ve been listening to their recently released album Skit I Allt and am definitely psyched to see these guys. While I’m more excited by the guitar-driven rock songs like “Hogdalstoppen” and “Barnen Undrar,” I think that the majority of stuff on their latest album has more of a jazz feel, making the intimacy of the Monkey House a good fit.

For just $8, I can assure that you won’t be disappointed.

Have a listen to “Marken Lag Stilla” from their September release:

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Dungen w/ The Entrance Band, Maga
Tuesday, October 12 @ 9:00p.m.
The Monkey House
Winooski, VT

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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: farm @ Monkey House 9/25/2010

Filed Under: Concert Reviews, Local Bands
Written by Brendan
Monday September 27, 2010

farm - Sat., Cloudy, Calm, 36 F, 10:44 p.m.farm put on an impressive performance Saturday night to mark the launch of their latest album, Sat., Cloudy, Calm, 36º F, 10:44 p.m.

The show was well attended, with about 50-60 people there when farm took the stage. As a quick aside, it was great to see a show at the Monkey House that well attended. The last couple shows I saw there (Givers, Drink Up Buttercup) were all but empty, so it was a nice change in energy, and brought a much more intimate feel to the bar. It was also nice to see Maryse Smith — who recently opened for The New Pornographers — in attendance, supporting fellow VT musicians.

The band — who records as a 3-piece — was joined by their friends Sam Boutin and Brennan Mangan for this show. Even with 5 people on stage, they managed to make the constant trading of instruments look almost effortless. At least three of them took a turn on lead vocals, and duties were shared on the drums, keys, guitars and a variety of other instruments. While it would be pretty easy for this to become a distraction to the audience, they were quick and seemingly practiced enough to make it interesting.

Most of their set was from their new album, though they also played 3 or 4 songs I hadn’t heard before. My favorites were “anticipating snow” and “hotel manners” though really there were many highlights. The only thing that felt out of place to me was opening with “is it wrong?”, a sleepy, spacy, stripped-down song that, while beautiful, didn’t really pull me into the show right away.

I found myself drawing comparisons between Port O’Brien (particularly the vocals on “getting cold” which sound remarkably similar to Van Pierszalowski’s voice) and Wild Sweet Orange, though farm definitely has a sound all their own. I’m definitely looking forward to seeing farm again, and recommend that Burlington indie music fans check these guys out soon.

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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.