Almost everyone that used to be a Massachusetts band or institution is now New York-based (Guerilla Toss, Speedy Ortiz, Exploding in Sound Records), LA-based (Slothrust, Dirty Dishes, Potty Mouth, Hydra Head Records), or defunct (Krill, Supervolcano, King Orchid, Red Bellows, G House Records, Boston Counter Cultural Compass). A few factors influence this: the high turnover rate of college-aged musicians, fans, and collaborators who graduate and leave town, lack of opportunity for growth past a certain point, and a feeling within the community that ambition makes you disingenuous. But, damn does this town serve as a great incubator! It was an exciting place to be, surrounded by ideas, collaborations, and a regular crop-up of new DIY venues every time the cops shut down the last one (RIP Wadzilla). I'm sure there is a whole new landscape of incredible bands there now - I'd love for someone to turn me on to them. As it stands now I only know a few:
I am so excited about Kal Marks. This is the perfect combination of the messy, mumbled, basement-dwelling Allston Rat City rock I became so acquainted with in this town, plus the heavier post-rock I often find myself leaning towards. They’re not as slacker-sounding as their peers, which is odd considering how slurred the words are. I can hardly make out a lyric. Instead there’s something a little darker going on, a little ominous; the guitar lines crack, break, and feed back, just like the vocals. The lumbering, lead-footed drumming leaves wreckage in it’s wake. Some of the songs have titles like “Springtime in January” and “Today I Walked Down To The Tree, Read A Book, And When I Was Done I Went Back Inside”, and you realize this strife may be stemming from every day events, the daunting nature of being alive at all. The album prior to this year’s Universal Care, called Life Is Alright, Everybody Dies, suggests an acceptance of things as they are. But with new tracks like “Fuck That Guy” and “Adventure”, I think it’s clear they won't be laying down their swords anytime soon.
You know what’s coolest about Boston, is that it’s a universe all it’s own. There are bands who are absolutely worshipped there, figureheads of an entire scene and lifestyle. They’ll be appreciated throughout the East Coast, only moderately known or completely unknown elsewhere (though still taken seriously by national press), but completely beloved in Massachusetts. Pile is one of those bands. Krill was one of those bands, and they only point back to Pile with a song called “Steve Hears Pile In Malden And Bursts Into Tears”. Interestingly, it seems like their profile has begun to rise in recent years (much like the vehicle that puts out their records and anyone else’s who’s worth anything - Exploding in Sound, a sincere ride or die for this scene). These are exciting times, when the world is willing to wake up to an album with a title like A Hairshirt Of Purpose.
A Bad Rabbits show is a wild experience, at least back in my day. Every kid in Boston knew the words, and everyone would be out at every show in droves. Wadzilla did multiple nights in a row, all packed to the gills for a sweaty, raucous party. I hear tell of a legendary night at Slaughterhouse where the cops literally busted in the DIY venue to break it up as people scattered and hid. They were our hometown heroes, and we cheered them on as they nabbed spots on Late Night shows or opportunities to tour with Travie McCoy, Allen Stone, Warped Tour, 311, Taking Back Sunday, Bayside, New Found Glory, Mike Posner, Foxy Shazam, and the Young Veins. There are rumors about what might have put a wrench in their plans to release the next album produced by Teddy Riley; whatever it was has slowed their momentum. But Mimi is officially set for an August 10th release date, and I’m ready for the resurrection.
Grass Is Green
Grass is Green are essentially synonymous with the city at this point. If you live there and you’re at all cognizant of what’s around you, you know them. For being so ubiquitous you’d think they’d be more accessible, but this band doesn’t make any sense. Disjointed is right - each instrument competes with the rest for dominance, every melodic line crashes headfirst into another. What happens when you’re at odds with everything? Organized chaos, apparently.