Album of the Week: Superorganism

Superorganism debut album cover
Superorganism debut album cover

An incredibly good debut album has a power that can’t be overstated: It can make a band’s career and shift the music landscape. The first self-titled release from indie pop act Superorganism has what it takes with funky beats, interesting samples and catchy harmonies. Their album came out Mar 2 via the Domino Recording Company and is already building a buzz. Each year has at least one act coming out of nowhere to leave their mark, and it looks like 2018 could be the year this band achieves that.

The act started with a chance meeting between lead vocalist Orono Naguchi and New Zealand guitar rock act The Eversons at a show in Japan in 2015. From there, Naguchi started collaborating with the New Zealanders and it evolved into a new project. Add backing vocalists Ruby, B and Soul and this amazingly talented octet was born. There’s nothing boring about the album and it’s an infectious, original sound.

Lately there has been a trend of music creeping into the pop realm that utilizes samples, and most music has bits and pieces from other recorded songs. Superorganism is doing a similar thing, but what makes their samples different is that they come from recorded messages and ringtones. Experimentation is abundant within the album but the accessibility of it never strays away. For a deeper look, let’s examine my top tracks off of the Album of the Week:

“Something for your M.I.N.D.” has a psychedelic sliding guitar and an infectiously melodic chorus. A great example of funky beats is “The Prawn Song” with a mellow vibe throughout the track that’ll make the mind unwind. The ringtone samples mentioned earlier are in “Night Time,” and, at first listen, the ears might get confused and hear a phone ringing.

Live music fiends can check out Superorganism live at Brighton Music Hall on Apr 1 and act like a “fool.” One can only imagine how incredible it’ll be to catch an act like this in person. While you’re at the show, grab a copy of the debut album. It’ll leave a lasting impression that you’ll want to go back to on a regular basis.

Spotify: open.spotify.com/album/15TFB6uLZlb3gnCysRrLix

Web site: wearesuperorganism.com

Album of the Week: Screaming Females – All at Once

All at Once by Screaming Females
All at Once by Screaming Females

If you ask a band or a musician about the hardest things that come with their craft, often they’ll mention trying to capture their live essence in a studio album. It can be difficult to appreciate the spontaneous energy that comes with playing live in a room with only a limited amount of time to get it right. New Brunswick, NJ, punk trio Screaming Females made an effort to achieve that with their seventh album All at Once released Feb 23 via Don Giovanni Records. It has the most songs on an album of theirs ever (with 15) and it’s intense and melodic. The band finds a perfect balance between the noisy and harmonious sides of punk.

Marissa Paternoster maintains her status as one of the best guitarists on the planet, with shredding that send chills down the spine. Her voice is still magnificent, able to yell to the high heavens while also able to be low key and melancholy. Each song is backed by the rock-solid foundation of King Mike on bass guitar and Jarrett Dougherty on drums: with each album Screaming Females put out, the both of them syncopate tighter and tighter. There’s a majestic essence when Paternoster, Mike and Dougherty plug in and play, and it only takes a few seconds of listening until the ears feel it.

The best punk stories these days come from bands who progressed from rocking basements in their hometown to playing venues and festivals all over the globe. It’s even better when the band still has complete control over how they present themselves and how they’re managed. Screaming Females are living proof, and they still embrace the DIY work ethic that brought them to where they are today. There’s something refreshing about a band that does what they want and call their own shots. Another thing that’s refreshing are my top tracks off of the Album of the Week:

Mike and Dougherty’s rhythmic brilliance is best exemplified in “Soft Domination” where the combo of seismic drumming and thudding bass accents Paternoster’s sheer power, making the track one to play on repeat. “I’ll Make You Sorry” harnesses the band’s live energy mentioned earlier. It also is a fantastic case of the trio’s ability to bring the noise along with resonating melody. With driving riffs, “Fantasy Lens” is in your face and unapologetic.

Screaming Females will be making their presence felt at AS220 on Apr 8 with Baton Rouge, LA, sludge masters Thou, Philly punks Hirs and Providence’s emphatic Assembly of Light Choir. This has what it takes to be one of the best shows to happen in Providence this year, so make sure to attend. While you’re there, peruse the merch table and grab a copy of All at Once. The electrifying barrage makes the album live up to its title.

Bandcamp: screamingfemales.bandcamp.com/album/all-at-once

Web site: screamingfemales.com

Album of the Week: Vundabar – Smell Smoke

Smell Smoke by Vundabar
Smell Smoke by Vundabar

Vundabar have found themselves reaching new heights in 2018. The act from Boston has gone from being under the radar to a band with a burgeoning following around New England and beyond. Frontman Brandon Hagen’s songwriting encompasses ‘80s era jangle pop, electrifying fuzz and artsy flair, exuding sounds that captivate the senses. Their third album, Smell Smoke, is due out Feb 23 via the band’s label Gawk Records, and it exhibits a steady progression of music both accessible and unique. There’s an intense vibe throughout the album, arising from the lyrical themes of mental and physical decline.

Smell Smoke was produced by two people in two different studios. Both Keith Abrams at The Head Room in Philadelphia and Justin Pizzoferato at Sonelab in Easthampton, MA, lent their recording talents to this wonderful record. There’s a difference from Vundabar’s sophomore release Gawk that came out in 2015: This new release delves more into the conflict between grit and melody. The amplification of Hagen’s guitar adds a punch that’ll leave an enjoyable impression.

For anyone who knows me personally, they’ve heard me say it numerous times, but New England music fans are awfully lucky: Many cities around the region have amazing music scenes going on. It’s crazy to think about how much talent is in such a small place compared to the rest of the United States. Vundabar is a jewel in New England’s musical crown, and they’ll be remaining there for a while. Let’s see how this jewel shines by going in-depth with my top tracks off of the Album of the Week:

“Big Funny” rides a groove while the chorus leads up to a barrage of thunderous guitar riffs. With a driving structure, “Harvest” has drummer Drew McDonald serving as the steady base for a dramatic song; there are numerous downbeats that set the tone as well. The most avant-garde song on the album is definitely “No Person to People” – Hagen’s vocals stay at a certain level and it’s a bit all over the place with guitars and drums going at different volumes.

Vundabar will be ringing in the release of Smell Smoke with a sold-out show at The Sinclair in Cambridge, MA, on Mar 3 with Chicago duo Ratboys opening things up. Other upcoming New England dates of theirs include March 5 at the Wamleg in Wallingford, CT, Apr 13 at ArtsRiot in Burlington, VT, and the following night at Space Gallery in Portland, ME. Hagan and his band will be touring in support of the new album so make sure to see them live if they’re playing in a city near you. Also, grab a copy of the album when it comes out: It’s peculiarly addictive and you’ll want to listen to it over and over again.

Smell Smoke: vundabar.bandcamp.com/album/smell-smoke

Facebook: facebook.com/Vundabar

Album of the Week: Alice Ivy – I’m Dreaming

I'm Dreaming by Alice Ivy
I’m Dreaming by Alice Ivy

Australia has always had interesting music coming out of it. The country/continent has a very strong garage rock scene along with peculiar pop artists and they still worship ‘90s post-grunge act Silverchair like they’re The Beatles. With all of this going on, a new act is rising up from down under and it’s Alice Ivy. She brings a blend of trip hop, soul and electronic with hip hop tendencies in her debut album I’m Dreaming that came out on Feb 9 via the Australian label Dew Process. It’s stunningly authentic with a variety of samples to convey an old school vibe.

Ivy first tried her hand at music by playing the clarinet and it didn’t go as well as she hoped. She then turned to making beats and in turn she got the knack for creating hot jams. Her debut album is the culmination of an incredible talent that holds a lot of promise. It also has a wide-ranging appeal with hip hop purists, Motown soul enthusiasts and your typical hipster – all bound to enjoy what Ivy has to offer. There’s a contagious rhythm that’ll take hold of the senses once the ears are plugged in.

Another thing that makes Ivy’s debut awesome is a saxophone sneaking into a few tracks. There’s a jazzy tone and a distinct coolness that comes with it. I’m Dreaming is a rejuvenating album that’ll impress even the most pretentious of music snobs. It’s something new that has roots in music’s past. That’s what makes it great, so let’s see where the greatness comes from and take a look at my top tracks off of the Album of the Week:

There’s a heavy dose of neo-soul and hip hop on “Be Friends” that has Cazeaux O.S.L.O. & Tim De Cotta alternating between both styles; what makes the track unique is that the beats are coming off of an atmospheric dream pop foundation. “Get Me a Drink” featuring E^st and Charlie Threads is the anthem for anyone who has experienced an awkward night out: The song has a hypnotic build up to an emotional chorus that’ll get the body moving. The samples are excellently exhibited during “Charlie” with a vintage aesthetic shining from start to finish.

She’s going to be embarking on a tour of Australia that starts at the Hudson Ballroom in Sydney on Feb 17, but hopefully Alice Ivy will be making her way to the States at some point this year. One can only imagine the party she brings when she’s performing live. In the meantime, get yourself a copy of I’m Dreaming. It has a groove that resonates a state of bliss.

Spotify: open.spotify.com/album/551nsOjkFMdljYZRcSMWIZ

Web site: aliceivymusic.net

Album of the Week: Palm – Rock Island

Rock Island by Palm
Rock Island by Palm

During this era of music, it’s easy to disregard innovation. Some people think that every possible style has already been conceived so there’s no chance of discovering something new. Through the nonsense, a band comes along to push the envelope while making sounds that leave the ears in awe. Philadelphia math pop quartet Palm is an excellent example of a band harnessing their own originality with their second LP Rock Island being released Feb 9 via Carpark Records. It’s an album that’ll put the senses in a trance while offering a variety of sonic dimensions.

The guitars courtesy of dual vocalists Eve Halpert and Kasra Kurt make the new album stand apart. There’s a consistently abstract chord structure while Halpert and Kurt add sheens of harmony in each song. Bass guitarist Gerasimos Livitsanos holds it down with a laid-back foundation, while Hugo Stanley on drums contributes jazzy tones. Palm delivers music that makes the listener start thinking. From start to finish, Rock Island embarks on a mental voyage that conveys weirdness in accessible ways.

In my opinion, I think being fearless is a prime ingredient when it comes to creating something different from the artistic norm. Musical progression is important to move culture forward: The last thing we need is to be bored by the things that we love. It’s a depressing notion, but, in today’s day and age, the mainstream seems to be consistently rehashing the past for the sake of nostalgia. Palm is the antithesis of that by not being afraid to be contrasting; let’s see how that is so by taking a look at my top tracks off of the Album of the Week:

With a wild beginning, “Composite” has breakdowns that set everything up and complement the complex rhythms well by maintaining a mellow vibe. “Heavy Lifting” exemplifies the laid-back æsthetic through the upbeat and smooth sounds; Stanley’s jazzy skills on drums, mentioned earlier, shine like a diamond. Another great one is “Forced Hand,” all over the place but also poignant.

New England live music addicts can check out Palm at Great Scott in Allston, MA, in the Boston metro area on Feb 16. It promises to be a fun time at one of the coolest places to see a show in the region. While you’re there, grab a copy of Rock Island. It’ll pique your interest instantly after you press play.

Bandcamp: palmnewyork.bandcamp.com/album/rock-island

Facebook: facebook.com/palmmlap

Album of the Week: Ty Segall – Freedom’s Goblin

Freedom's Goblin by Ty Seagall
Freedom’s Goblin by Ty Segall

If you have been reading this review column for the past couple of years, there’s one thing that you should realize by now. At least once a year I’m going to write about a certain musician’s new album due to his immense talent and his continuously prolific output. That certain musician is Los Angeles garage rock phenom Ty Segall, and his 10th album Freedom’s Goblin came out Jan 26 via Drag City Records. The album is a lot more wide-ranging and experimental than his previous releases. Nothing sounds similar to another, and that says a lot for a record that has 19 songs on it.

Certain albums can take the mind on an adventure and Freedom’s Goblin achieves that through its variety. It goes from one end of the spectrum to the other with tunes encompassing jazz, punk, new wave and acoustic styles. It’s ingenious and schizophrenic at the same time. Usually a record follows an identity, but this one is the antithesis of that. Segall’s new artistic output is truly all over the place and that’s what makes it so amazing.

One trait that a musical savant will always possess is an incredible amount of fearlessness: They’ll write a song how they want without conforming to what’s “popular” or “trendy.” It’s a testament to them staying true to themselves while also making a conscious effort to progress as an artist. There’s a sense of sheer individuality that’s inspiring and makes one wish others would emulate. Segall has always been one to do his own thing and never be swayed by the mainstream. For a closer look, let’s examine my top tracks off of the Album of the Week:

“5 Ft Tall” has an unplugged beginning and then it gets electrifying with vibrant rhythms and raucous riffs; the energy is massive and it’s a sizzling song that the ears will want to hear at a high volume on repeat. Reminiscent of the storied New York City late ‘70s No Wave scene is “Talkin 3,” and fans of James Chance & The Contortions will enjoy the blaring sax and chaotic vibe. A funky synth disco sound makes up the weirdness of “Despoiler Cadaver” with vintage English new wave flair.

Sadly, Ty Segall has no shows announced in the New England area as of this writing, but 2018 is still in its infancy so who knows? Maybe some dates will be unveiled in the coming months and one of them will be in our neck of the woods. Segall live is a must-see experience, so when he’s coming through your town you better go. For now, get yourself a copy of Freedom’s Goblin: It’s an album that has a whole lot to offer and then some.

Bandcamp: tysegall.bandcamp.com/album/freedoms-goblin

Web site: ty-segall.com

Album of the Week: Matthew Stubbs and the Antiguas

Matthew Stubbs and the Antiguas
Matthew Stubbs and the Antiguas

Over the past couple of months, there’s been a band from Boston that has nearly everyone affiliated with the city’s music scene talking about them. They’re known as Matthew Stubbs and the Antiguas, and they have a groovy instrumental sound that fuses psychedelic rock, acid jazz and funky blues. It’s the kind of music that leaves a lasting impression and they’re independently releasing their self-titled debut album Jan 26. Each track offers something different while the rhythms stay consistently tight. This album definitely has what it takes to be considered one of the top releases in New England when 2018 comes to a close.

Blues fans might know Stubbs from his time as the guitarist for the legendary harmonica player Charlie Musselwhite since 2007. His band’s debut has a bombastic vibe that’s reminiscent of big-time blues music. It’s a quality that grabs hold of the ears and keeps the listener hooked. The bombasticness comes from drummer Chris Rivelli bringing the down beats and bassist Mark Hickox providing the line that each song walks on. Just Lopes’ skill on organ perfects the psychedelic sheen that covers the entire album.

Lopes really shines on organ during “Death Grip” – there’s a bit of noir due to the song’s structure: It’ll make one think that it should be part of a soundtrack for a classic gangster flick. “El Segundo” has a Latin aesthetic that’s smooth as felt fabric on a newly swept floor; Rivelli’s drumming is the rock-solid foundation that makes this track truly special. Distorted and feverish is the best way to describe “John Doe” as Stubbs rips stunning riffs off his guitar.

Stubbs and his band will be ringing in the release of their self-titled album on the same day of its official release at the Narrows Center for the Arts in Fall River, MA. Blues phenom Julie Rhodes will be opening things up, so it’s highly suggested to show up early. When you arrive, grab a copy of the new record and make sure to have a good time. Then play it in your favorite audio apparatus when you leave and see what the fuss is all about.

“Death Grip” stream: youtube.com/watch?v=gDxKgE3fcyI

Event page: facebook.com/events/434780530269751

Web site: matthewstubbs.net

Album of the Week: The Prefab Messiahs – Psychsploitation Today

Psychsploitation Today by The Prefab Messiahs
Psychsploitation Today by The Prefab Messiahs

Worcester, MA, psych-rock act The Prefab Messiahs were a bit ahead of their time when they started out during the early ‘80s. They were doing a weird take on hypnotic ‘60s pop and raw garage rock during a time where somber post-punk and electro-fueled new wave were dominating the music spectrum. After a couple of decades of languishing in New England rock’s storied past, the band got back together in 2012 and put out their first album in over 30 years with Keep Your Stupid Dreams Alive in 2015. Their follow-up titled Psychsploitation Today is coming out Jan 26 via Lolipop & Burger Records, and it’s a gem of an album. There’s a multi-dimensional arrangement that goes along with sheer electricity accented by a variety of distorted feedback.

A big reason why the album has such a groovy sound comes from Doc Michaud on organ. It’s a blast from the past musically with unbridled fuzz to add the perfect touch. Zerox Feinberg’s voice is sapid while also giving Psychsploitation Today a laid-back vibe reminiscent of other psych-rock incarnations. The element giving each track an exciting feeling is the melding of drummer Ned Egg’s and bassist Trip Thompson’s talents. Their consistently tight rhythms are a rock-hard base for the band’s contagiously fun tunes.

When it comes to bands coming back after decades of absence, what plays a part in the reunion? Nostalgia and wanting to relive a time of youthfulness. The internet providing easy accessibility for musicians to distribute their music along with the coinciding rise in indie labels probably play a part, too. For the real answer, you’d have to ask The Prefab Messiahs to hear what their reasons are. There’s no complaining from me about them getting back together, and the proof comes from my top tracks off of the Album of the Week:

With an upbeat tone comes “Sometimes Sunnydaze” – the harmonizing from Feinberg, Thompson and Michaud is hypnotic during a song that can seem contradicting but in a clever way. “Monster Riff” is a party starter with an abundance of energy and a classic dose of rock ‘n’ roll rebellion. The most old-school-style track on the album is definitely “Having A Rave Up,” another party anthem but also reminiscent of rock’s classic age during the late ‘50s.

As of this article, The Prefab Messiahs don’t have any shows announced in the immediate future, but you can be sure that they’ll be tearing it up in music venues all over the place throughout 2018. The next time they’re playing live, make sure to catch the show and don’t forget to grab a copy of Psychsploitation Today. It’s a shredder of an album that’ll shock the senses and melt brains.

“Sometimes Sunnydaze” stream: https://theprefabmessiahs.bandcamp.com/track/sometimes-sunnydaze-single

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ThePrefabMessiahs

Album of the Week: Black Rebel Motorcycle Club – Wrong Creatures

Wrong Creatures by Black Rebel Motorcycle Club
Wrong Creatures by Black Rebel Motorcycle Club

In an age where the mass populace is questioning rock ‘n’ roll’s legitimacy due to the mass proliferation of pop and due to hip-hop’s rise in record sales, bands like Black Rebel Motorcycle Club are still sticking around. The group from Los Angeles have always set themselves apart from their contemporaries with a leather-clad sound that fuses shoegaze, blues and punk together to create something infectious. Their eighth album, Wrong Creatures, is being released via Vagrant Records on Jan 12 and tbe aesthetic it conveys echoes the famous adage “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” that the band has followed for nearly 20 years. It’s a hypnotic rock record that’ll put the ears in a trance. There’s also a case to be made that this is the closest to a blues album the band has ever done.

Like many bands, the trio of Robert Levon Been, Peter Hayes and Leah Shapiro went into the studio to capture Black Rebel Motorcycle Club’s live experience. Producer Nick Launay assisted in getting a clear and raw feel for what the band wanted to do. They achieved it by harnessing their unique energy and putting it into each track on Wrong Creatures, as the album examines death and historical narratives. It’s also apparent that both Been and Hayes are fighting and soothing something within themselves whenever they start singing.

It’s always interesting whenever the idea sparks to explore a band’s discography: There’s a story being told that bears a thorough examination of artistic progression. The changes can be striking and even downright alienating, or they can fit into place like the last piece of a jigsaw puzzle. Black Rebel Motorcycle Club has never been afraid to push the envelope and do things a bit differently. Let’s see what they’ve done this time around with my top tracks off of the Album of the Week:

“Little Thing Gone Wild” is a raging track with a thunderous chorus; Shapiro’s drumming serves as a stellar foundation while Been and Hayes get loud and intense. The weirdest track on the album is definitely “Circus Bazooko” – there’s an organ that sounds reminiscent of a carnival game, while Hayes strums sweet licks on guitar. Leaning towards post-punk is “King of Bones” with steady rhythms and endless cool.

Black Rebel Motorcycle Club will be embarking on a tour in support of Wrong Creatures starting at the House of Blues in San Diego on Jan 15. Fans in New England can catch them at the Royale in Boston on Jan 31. Been, Hayes and Shapiro have forged a reputation for themselves being a must-see band live, so if they’re coming through your town then head on out to the show. While you’re there, grab a copy or the new album. It’s an innovative album with tons to offer while turning up the volume.

“Little Thing Gone Wild” on YouTube: youtube.com/watch?v=eCh_JGmaA_8

Web site: blackrebelmotorcycleclub.com

Top 10 Providence Live Music Shows of 2017

Providence’s music scene in 2017 went through some changes. Longtime venue Lupo’s Heartbreak Hotel underwent under a renovation and became The Strand Ballroom and Theatre. Aurora and Firehouse 13 both closed up shop, the latter an incubator during the late 2000s for a lot of bands currently affiliated with the city’s music scene. Despite a few venues closing down, there’s a still a bit of hope. New bands are still popping up out of the woodwork, and people are still coming out to support local music.

Hopefully the new year brings more progress and unity in that vein rather than the division that seems to be all around us. There was a lot of that with a bunch of shows in Providence in 2017, and that’s why I have this list of the 10 best shows I saw in the city during the year. Keep in mind: Due to my schedule I couldn’t make all of them, so please don’t be upset if your favorite show didn’t make the list. Anyways, here it is.


10. Cat Has Claws Oh Well EP Release @ Dusk 11/16

One of the best local shows of the year went down on a Thursday fall night at Dusk. Alt-synth rock duo Cat Has Claws were ringing in the release of their latest EP, Oh Well, and it had an awesomely attentive crowd. The bill was rounded out with an abundance of variety with indie rock act Thug Honey, new wave dance magnets Triangle Forest and garage rock dynamos Super Natural II sharing the stage. It was a fun night with great vibes and each band was on point musically. Not all local shows have a great turnout on Thursdays and it was refreshing to see so many people having a great time.


9. Bella’s Bartok @ The Parlour 12/30

When it comes to bands around New England, Bella’s Bartok from Northampton, MA, are one of the few that provide a jaw-droppingly memorable experience live. This gypsy rock act has a lot of energy when they perform and they brought that and more when they played at The Parlour on the night before New Year’s Eve. The whole lineup was amazing with locals Psychedelic Clown Car and Consuelo’s Revenge opening things up. Psychedelic Clown Car rocked the rhythmically tightest set I’ve ever seen them exhibit and it was special to see Nicholas Smyth rejoining Consuelo’s Revenge for the first time in months. There was also so much dancing going around that you couldn’t help but shake your feet around.


8. The Obsessed @ Dusk 10/25

Believe it or not, this show almost didn’t happen. Metal legends The Obsessed were supposed to play at The Cafe at Parlor in Newport on this night but it ended up getting cancelled. In a clutch move, Intrinsic Events’ John Difruscio and Dusk teamed up to host this show and it was a special one. The Skinny Millionaires, Pilgrim and Cobalt all shredded before Scott “Wino” Weinrich and the gang took things over. It was really cool to see the best place to see metal in Providence have a band play their stage that has so much influence. Unfortunately this show also has a somber note to it: Pilgrim’s final show because frontman Jon Rossi passed away the following day; he is still very much missed.


7. Beach Slang @ The Met 5/12

I know that The Met is in Pawtucket, but since the place is a stone’s throw from the border and this list is mine, then the venue qualifies. Philadelphia punks Beach Slang have a sound that’s as nostalgic as it is contemporary. James Alex is an amazing lead singer and guitarist who has magnificent stage presence along with writing heartfelt songs. With Portsmouth, NH, act Alcoa, fellow New Hampshire natives Notches and locals Twin Foxes sharing the bill, Beach Slang were incredible on this night and they solidified why they’re one of the best live bands out there today. One highlight of their performance was their rendition of “Smooth” by Carlos Santana and Rob Thomas.


6. Phantogram @ Lupo’s Heartbreak Hotel 1/12

It’s a bummer that the final incarnation of Lupo’s is no longer around and the name is a memory. With that being said, it’s personally refreshing that I got to see a wonderful act like Phantogram during my last time there before it became The Strand. The duo of Josh Carter and Sarah Barthel exhibited stellar camaraderie on stage and Barthel really played to the crowd well. They were joined by guitarist and synth player Nick Shelestak and drummer Chris Carhart who contributed their talents to create a sound that took over the entire venue. Los Angeles act Foreign Air kicked the night off with a chill vibe that set the mood.


5. H.R. from Bad Brains @ POP 12/16

One of the best things about 2017 when it came to Providence’s music scene was the Out of Control: The Spirit Of ‘77 exhibit at POP in December. Part of the exhibit had H.R. from Bad Brains playing with the new incarnation of his reggae band Human Rights. It was eye-popping seeing all of the photos from Richard McCaffrey and f-Stop Fitzgerald in the gallery along with all the vintage goods in the shop across the hall. H.R. and his band were awesome and it was a treasure seeing a one of a kind show in a one of a kind venue. I can’t wait to catch another show at POP.


4. Lee Ranaldo @ Columbus Theatre 1/11

There’s something about a trio of acoustic singer-songwriters that can stick in the mind. The beauty within the simplicity of it all can be hard to describe but you can really see someone’s pure talent when they’re performing by themselves on stage. Ex-Sonic Youth guitarist Lee Ranaldo headlined a night of stripped down music and I’ll never forget it. Ranaldo was fantastic and his electric pick-up sounded out of this world. Ever since that show, one of the openers in Steve Gunn has become one of my personal favorites, and Meg Baird was great that night as well.


3. Aesop Rock @ The Met 1/24

Let’s face it, 2017 was a bad year for mainstream hip hop. The emergence of “mumble rap” has upset every purist under the sun. The underground side of the style is still going strong and Aesop Rock proved that again at The Met. No one can captivate a crowd like the way he does and the whole show was a lot of fun. Opening act Homebody Sandman was pretty good and Rob Sonic was way better than when I saw him a few years ago. When “None Shall Pass” kicked in, the whole crowd went crazy and that’s a moment I’ll never forget from that show.


2. Sheer Mag @ AS220 4/13

2017 was a wonderful year for Philadelphia rock ‘n’ rollers Sheer Mag. They put out a kickass debut album with Need to Feel Your Love in June which got a whole lot of acclaim from nearly every media outlet that covers music. They also ripped apart AS220 in February with local punks Downtown Boys and Hairspray Queen that was a raucous time. There was a never-ending mosh pit and the crowd kept on getting bigger and bigger as the show went along. Sheer Mag is due for even greater things in 2018, and if you were at this show then you know why.


Ted Leo
Ted Leo

1. Ted Leo & The Pharmacists @ Columbus Theatre 12/2

Seeing Ted Leo & The Pharmacists play the main stage at the Columbus Theatre was extraordinary for numerous reasons. First, Bill Janovitz from Buffalo Tom started things off with a set that included him and Leo performing the song “Taillights Fade” together. Second, it was incredible seeing ex-Downtown Boys and ex-Gavage sax player Adrienne Berry playing in Leo’s band. She brought a swagger to the whole thing that added a ganache. Lastly, seeing the band in such a grand setting was unforgettable and that’s why it’s the best show that happened in Providence this year.