Keep On Moving: New Biscuits and Fall Shows: Johnston, this one’s for you


The sophomore album by Algiers, The Underside of Power, is a stirring statement of our times. Algiers remind me a lot of TV on The Radio, but better. The title track is an upbeat march to redemption. Algiers, at times, fuses gospel and hip-hop with the urgency of Gang of Four, which isn’t easy to do. The undercurrent in tunes like “Cleveland” and “A Murmur. A Sign” is defiance. Music at its best has transformative power; it takes you somewhere and opens your mind. On The Undercurrent of Power, Algiers completely blows your mind. 

Algiers bring the thunder to Machines With Magnets in Pawtucket on September 21.  

Culture Shock

A few years ago I helped organize Rocktucket and true to my fecal touch, the festival went away. Some of my good friends, Chachi Carvalho, Michael Graham Adamowicz and Rob Duguay, are reinventing it into something bigger and better: Culture Shock, which is part of Downtown Rising, a convergence of three music festivals that represent the cultural diversity of Pawtucket. Carvalho weighs in: “Culture Shock is an idea that has been years in the making. Many of the events that take place around my community are either not a true representation of the cultural makeup of the city or only highlight one of the many cultures that exist in Pawtucket. Culture Shock aims to unite all of the different cultures in Pawtucket, provide an opportunity for the whole community to recognize the value in each other’s cultures and start finding more opportunities to celebrate the many differences that make us ONE.”

Culture Shock will go do down at 39 East Ave in Downtown Pawtucket on Saturday, September 22, from noon to 7pm as part of Downtown Rising, a three-stage, all-day music event put on by the Pawtucket Arts Festival. Culture Shock features performances by The Perceptionists (Mr. Lif & Akrobatik), M.A.K.U. Soundsystem, Chachi Carvalho and the International Players, Extraordinary Rendition Band, Stay Silent Live featuring Where’s Nasty, DJ Franchise, DJ Lefty, Cadillac Jack and Wattz. 

Steel Panther

I’ve heard the legend of Steel Panther igniting the party on the Sunset Strip, so it is almost surreal to think that this will be happening on the Washington Street Strip. I usually don’t say much about cover bands, but I’m all about parties and Steel Panther is the ultimate party band. They are so good that they got Robin Zander from Cheap Trick to record “She’s Tight” with them, which doesn’t happen with the cover bands we nominate for our music awards. Steel Panther are heavy on glam metal so … Johnston, I expect the whole city to be there with me! 

Steel Panther and The Wild will bring the party to The Strand Theater in PVD on September 29.  

Electric Six – Bride of The Devil (Metropolis Records)

When Trump was elected president, many said it would make punk rock great again, but that’s just old people flogging a dead horse. Now if they had been talking about Electric Six, maybe they would have been on to something. Bride of The Devil kicks off uneventful with “The Opener,” which is like a heavy rock version of their past let’s-write-a-song-to-open-the-shows-on-this-tour song “It’s Showtime.” The retreads stop pretty quick as Electric Six put a little mustard on that mustard with the uber-infectious “Daddy’s Boy,” which takes aim at some orangutan commander-in-chief and includes a big working class chorus. On “Hades Ladies,” they hit their best dance hall groove since “Infectious Girls” as they are “jaywalking and shit talking,” but Electric Six are just getting warmed up. The title track is perfect alterna-pop that name drops Amanda Palmer (an ongoing Electric Six Kickstarter goal) and Jeff Sessions while calling out, “Russia if you are listening send me a sign.” If that isn’t the most infectious song that Electric Six has come out with in the last eight years, then “Witches Burning” is. The songwriting is so sharp; it moves away from verse chorus verse with all the humour that Electric Six is known for, but with something to say. Titanic choruses, loud guitars and Dick Valentine’s voice make me wish that they’d forget “Gay Bar” and just play this biscuit from start to finish.

Electric Six, Jeremy, and Harlequins will rock Thunder Road in Somerville, Mass, on October 1.

Social Distortion

I’ve seen a few shows in my day, but Social Distortion is in my top 5. I saw them after an all-nighter writing a paper in college (some things don’t change) driving up to the Orpheum in Boston where we almost died because I didn’t have the sleep deprivation thing quite down yet. They were opening for The Ramones, so that was a few moons ago. A more recent show was at then-Lupo’s; Good Charlotte happened to be playing the much larger Dunk the same night and singer/guitarist Mike Ness made the comment that they are nice kids, but don’t know what is up. Social Distortion take the swagger of Johnny Cash and melds it into old-school anthemic punk rock.

Social Distortion, Will Hoge, and Pony Bradshaw will get the ghosts in The Strand Theater to dance on October 4.

The Music of Cream

I never hated Cream, but for years didn’t care; it was just something on classic rock radio. Eric Clapton? Ugh, whatever, I like Johnny Ramone. It wasn’t till seeing the documentary Beware of Mr. Baker at the Cable Car (RIP) that I realized how amazing Cream is. Their guitar player was widely known as God, Jack Bruce was insane as a bassist and Ginger Baker was like a cross between Keith Moon and a technical jazz savant while being a complete asshole. This isn’t Cream, but the bloodlines run deep with the direct offspring Kofi Baker on drums and Malcolm Bruce on bass. They even have Will Johns, Eric Clapton’s nephew, on guitar. I peeked at a few YouTube videos before including this, and trust me — they know how to rake.

The Music of Cream hits the Stadium Theater on Woonsocket on October 5 and the Zeiterion Theater in New Bedford on October 6.

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