Muddy Ruckus – Vacationland
Mucky Ruckus is a duo composed of Ryan Flaherty on guitar and Erika Stahl on drums from Portland, Maine. I always kind of liked them live but their recordings were never my bag. It was like we’re doing this roots thing but we also want to rock too. It ended up being good at neither. That is till they dropped Vacationland, which just may be the best thing anyone has done this year. Vacationland rocks like it’s trying to open a portal to another dimension. The tunes are so vivid with visions that sound like nightmares sung in lullabies. One of my favorites is “Walk on Water” which roars somewhere between The Gun Club, PJ Harvey, and Ty Segall at a seance. “Clint Liquid” sounds like it’s off a Tarantino soundtrack. “Old Nick” has more of a Rob Zombie movie flavor. “Long Time” features James Montgomery on harp and preaches the blues at the crossroads. “Son of Beach” wails like a Queens of the Stone Age thumper. “Dotted Line” shimmers through the speakers like the sequel to Iggy Pop’s “The Passenger.” The closing “Dog Daze” is like a stiff cocktail of freakout jazz mixed with stoner rock that features Dana Colley from the legendary Morphine on saxophone. Another one of my favorites, “Adeline,” sounds like an extraterrestrial version of Deer Tick. Vacationland is a trip – a sonic bloodrush to places nobody imagined existed.
Viana Valentine – Fever Dream
On Fever Dream, Viana Valentine’s voice shines like a super moon through a mix of ballads and dancy groovers. “Would You Love Me When I’m Broken” has a classic R&B groove complete with gospel backing vocals as Valentine wrestles with self doubt. “Pvd” is a love song to her home about stopping in the middle of Washington Street, listening to the sounds of the city as the snow hits, and reminiscing. “Sad Summer” is a beautifully blue piano ballad about struggles of life while taking care of an ill parent. “Evergreen” is the perfect followup with the line “I don’t want to be evergreen” where Valentine embraces the peaks and valleys of this thing they call life. “Hella Depressed,” with its infectious hooks, is the best diving point for those unfamiliar with Valentine’s work.
Levitate Music Festival
I’ve gotten the chance to make it to the Levitate Festival a couple times over the years and it’s always a great escape by the sea surrounded by music and art. The grounds where the festival is held feels like an old horse racing track but that could just me. This year is the festival’s 10th anniversary and Levitate is going all out. Stick Figure, Lucius, and The California Honeydrops among others are booked for Friday. Saturday Levitate has Goose, Peach Pit, G. Love & Special Sauce among many others playing. Sunday is my favorite lineup of the bunch with Brandi Carlile, Ziggy Marley, Shaky Graves, Larkin Poe, and many others set to rock the stage. Pack some sunscreen because every time I’ve gone it’s been in the 90s.
Levitate Music Festival takes place in Marshfield, MA from July 7-9.
Grandson is a turbo charged combo of alt-rock and hip hop who I’ve been wanting to catch for a couple of years. Grandson is touring behind his new album, I Love You, I’m Trying. This is a rare chance to catch a national talent like Grandson in a great local venue like The Met.
Grandson’s “I Love You, I’m Trying” tour hits the Met Cafe in Pawtucket on July 10. No Support For The Middle Child opens.
Reverend Horton Heat
One of my top ten all time favorite shows was seeing Reverend Horton Heat open for The Cramps at Club Babyhead. What a show! Now I can’t say that I’ve followed every, or any, Reverend Horton Heat albums since. It’s rockabilly/psychobilly, they’re supposed to all sound the same. I have seen Reverend Horton Heat multiple times over the years though and it’s always a blast. Just not as good as that first show with The Cramps, of course.
Reverend Horton Heat, The Delta Bombers, and Diablogate bring the greasy rockabilly back to Alchemy on July 12.
I’ve always had a soft spot in my black punk rock heart for Counting Crows. Their second album, Recovering The Satellites, is a great album. Their third, The Desert Life, isn’t far behind. I can’t say that over the years I heard every one of their albums or cassingles but they still put out great music to this day. I am looking forward to seeing them for the first time.
Counting Crows play the Providence Performing Arts Center on July 18.
Blissfest is an annual indie music festival that started as a house show/unofficial post-Folk Fest show in Newport presented by Analog Studios. Over the years it has grown to highlight the uniqueness of Rhode Island’s music community. This year’s edition moves to IYRS Restoration Hall on Newport’s harbor and features an eclectic array of Rhode Island-based indie, folk, and alternative artists who have made their mark on the local scene and beyond.
Blissfest featuring performances by The Z Boys, Allysen Callery, Jesse the Tree, Jabawake, Analog, Nate Farrar, and Bill Bartholomew at IYRS Restoration Hall, 449 Thames Street, Newport, RI on July 29 from 5-11pm.
The Callouts, Bright Idea, Ne Detour, and Sean Carney get the pop punk rumbling at AS220 on July 22.
Rafay Rashid, NOVA ONE (Duo), and EDT play Machine with Magnets in Pawtucket on July 21. This is the official release show for Rashid’s new record, Kitchen Weapons.
Cro-Mags play their classic album Best Wishes, at Alchemy on July 23.
All Female Front, an amazing night of music featuring performances by Julie Rhodes & The Electric Co, Coral Moons, The Wolf Sisters, The Devil’s Twins, Mary-Elaine Jenkins, and special guest Ali McGuirk goes down at The Newport Playhouse and Cabaret Restaurant on July 28.
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