Tag: Boston MA

New Audio: Sweeping Promises Shares an Urgent Ripper

Sweeping Promises — Lira Mondal (vocals, bass, production) and Caufield Schnug (guitar, drums, production — can trace their origins to a chance meeting in Arkansas, which led to a decade of playing together in an eclectic assortment of projects. Their relentless practice has made perfect: Meticulously controlling every aspect of their craft, from the first note they write together, through production and engineering, using space as a key element of their sound, to the final mastering process, each song is an unspoiled fingerprint unique to their long-held dynamic chemistry.

The duo’s full-length debut, 2020’s Hunger for a Way Out was released through Feel It Records. Written before the pandemic, the album’s material managed to pair the anxious urgency of a commanding live performance with a gauzy production, creating a distorted sense of time. That resonated with tons of folks during quarantine, who turned the album into a life-saving flotation device — and fittingly the album received rapturous praise from Stereogum, Pitchfork, and NPR. Around then, Feel It Records and Sub Pop agreed to join forces to distribute the duo’s work across North America and globally, starting with 2021’s “Pain Without a Touch” and their highly-anticipated sophomore album Good Living Is Coming For You.

Slated for a June 30, 2023 release through Feel It Records across North America and Sub Pop globally, Good Living Is Coming For You was recorded and produced by Mondal and Schung in their Lawrence, KS-based home studio. In some way, the album’s title and its material is informed by more than a half-century of underground music revolutionaries, who have taken whacks at the mundane mainstream. English punks spat “NO FUTURE” at germ-free adolescents. Ohio New Wavers devolutionized mankind with whips. Athens art school students chomped at hero worship. MetroCard carrying riot grrls rebirthed the bomp with a gasoline gut. The duo read pandemic minds with 2020’s Hunger for a Way Out. With their forthcoming sophomore album, the return with a new message that initially offers hope wrapped around relief. But maybe it’s warning. Or darker still, a threat.

While the duo have amassed acclaim for unfussy, monolithic anthems, Good Living Is Coming For You is a decided change in sonic direction and approach: They’ve eschewed the brutalist ambience of their Boston subterranean, concrete laboratory and the single mic recording technique of its immediate predecessor. Recorded in a nude painting studio bathed in light with high-ceilings, their Lawrence-based studio is a reverb-rich space, that helps influence the album’s overall sound. Thematically, the album’s material touches upon power struggles, accepting aging, breaking restraints and more, delivered with a fervent urgency.

“Eraser,” the forthcoming album’s opening track and first single, is a gritty and furious ripper built around enormous, shout-along worthy hooks and choruses, thunderous drumming, angular and propulsive bass lines, distortion pedaled guitars paired with Mondal’s powerhouse delivery and copious amounts of reverb. While sonically recalling riot grrrl punk, complete with righteous and urgent fury, “Eraser,” as the duo explain is “a malevolent creep – an overly ambitious, shadowy force who bears an uncanny resemblance to you. She watches your every move, mirrors your motions, and ultimately uses your voice against you without you ever noticing what she’s done. She’s unchecked ambition, a paranoid girl Friday, an overriding impulse to reflect rather than project. She must be stopped at all costs.”

Along with the release of Good Living Is Coming For You‘s first single, the duo announced an extensive list of tour dates to support the album. The tour includes an August 8, 2023 stop at Johnny Brenda‘s, one of my favorite rooms in Philly, and an August 10, 2023 stop at Music Hall of Williamsburg. Check out the tour dates below.

Good Living Is Coming For You is available now to preorder from Feel It Records & Sub Pop. LP pre-orders from Feel It Records will be on white/black marbled vinyl, and those from megamart.subpop.com will receive copies on red vinyl (while supplies last).

New Audio: Boston’s Mel Fine Shares Soulful and Yearning “Alone Together”

Mel Fine is a rising Boston-based, non-binary singer/songwriter and producer, who cites Etta James and Joni Mitchell as influences. As an artist, the Boston-based artist has developed a sound that meshes soul, jazz and acoustic folk pop paired with a storytelling lyrical approach rooted in lived-in personal experiences. Fine’s goal is to create music for the feelings that are difficult to put into words.

In their very young career, the Boston-based artist has played over 100 stages including the Middle East, Berkshire Pride, the Red Room and countless others across both Boston and New England. Adding to a growing profile, Fine was awarded the 2021 Performance Division Voice Award by the Berklee College of Music Voice Department. They also earned second place in Berklee’s Songs for Social Change Contest with “In Between,” which honestly told of Fine’s experience growing up non-binary.

While continuing their studies at Berklee, Fine has continued to release material, including her sophomore single “Alone Together,” a slickly produced track featuring strummed, Spanish-styled acoustic guitar, atmospheric synths, thumping beats paired with the young Boston-based artist’s soulful and yearning vocal delivery and a well-placed, razor sharp hook. While subtly nodding at both contemporary pop and Quiet Storm soul, “Alone Together” manages to reveal a budding superstar in the making.

New Video: Boston’s Air Traffic Controller Shares Anthemic “20”

While serving in the US Navy as an air traffic controller, Boston-based singer/songwriter Dave Munro sent home demos of his songs. This eventually lead to his current musical project, the aptly named Air Traffic Controller. Over the course of the next decade, Munro wrote and recorded four critically applauded albums of heartfelt and earnest indie folk/indie pop with a backing band that features Adam Salameh (drums), Joe Campbell (bass), Bobby Borenstein (guitar), Emo McSwain (vocals, keytar) and multi-instrumentalist Steve Scott.

The Boston-based indie outfit’s fifth and latest album, the Dan Cardinal, Seth Kasper and Air Traffic co-produced Dash was released last Friday. Partially written in-person and remotely during pandemic-related lockdowns, Dash was recorded at Dimension Sound Studios and sees the band setting aside long-held formulas to allow each member to bring their own style and personality to the material — while retaining the story-based songwriting and catchy hooks that have won the band acclaim and fans.

The album’s lead single, “20” is a breezy pop anthem, rooted in Munro’s unerring knack for catchy hooks and lived-in story-based lyricism paired with a lush arrangement featuring reverb-drenched guitar, funky horns and a dance floor friendly groove. The song is rooted in a familiar nostalgia: the optimism and dreams of one’s youth — but seen from the perspective of someone a bit older, who has been forced to be pragmatic and make the sort of uncomfortable compromises that the song’s narrator would have loathed as a younger man. It’s a bittersweet sigh rooted in the recognition that life doesn’t always wind up how you”d like or hoped.

Directed filmed and edited by 9th Planet Productions with additional edits and effects by Joe Joyce, the accompanying video for “20” is a visual delight that recalls Broadway and major films — on a small budget: We follow a disco ball mask wearing character waking up and writing in a journal and playing a guitar while a wild and surreal array of things happen around him, including musicians playing on his bed, an entire party rocking out and so on.

After spending years leading Boston-based art rock collective The Solars, whose 2017 EP Retitled Remastered landed on DigBoston‘s Best Massachusetts Albums of 2017, Miles Hewitt returned to Harvard College to finish his award-winning collection of poems The Candle is Forever Learning to Sing.

Following his graduation in 2018, Hewitt relocated to Western Massachusetts’ Pioneer Valley, settling in a small hill town, just down the road from a friend’s recording studio — and a few miles from where he spent the first year of his life. It was amidst the cycling greens, browns and blues of the Pioneer Valley, where Hewitt began writing the songs that would become Hewtti’s ambitious and wide-ranging solo debut Heartfall. Drawing from British and American folk music, 70s songwriter rock, psychedelia, krautrock and electronic music, Heartfall‘s is reportedly an album for album-lovers. And while the material is formally spare, few of the album’s arrangements have recognizable verse/chorus structures, instead holding patterns that melt away only when fully exhausted. “As I became interested in a less anthropocentric mentality, I wondered if this could be expressed through formally organic songs, built from looping phrases or motifs and evolving at the level of the line,” Hewitt explains.
The effect of these slow changes — a kind of temporal dilation that can make it easy to forget just how long you’ve been listening to a given song — invites a state of consciousness more familiar in drone and ambient music than most rock ‘n’ roll. 

After relocating to Brooklyn in 2019, Hewitt began recruiting a variety of serious session players including members of the backing bands for Devendra Banhart, Kevin Moby and Aldous Harding, including Jared Samuel (organ), David Christian (drums), Shahzad Ismaily (piano) and Jack McLoughlin (guitar) and a cast of others, who all contributed to the Hewitt-produced recording sessions.

Heartfall‘s latest single, the vibey “The Ark” begins with the sound of rushing water, before quickly morphing into a tempest of jazz fusion drumming, glistening Rhodes, sinuous bass, atmospheric electronics. The song’s second section is a dreamy bit of guitar-driven Pink Floyd meets Radiohead-like psychedelia that slows down to a laconic fade out. The song ends with a folksy piano-driven coda. Although the song doesn’t hew to a familiar or recognizable chorus, verse, bridge structure, it’s all held together by the deft and seemingly effortless rhythm section and Hewitt’s tender vocals. Thematically, the song details the search for the Biblical — and mythical — vessel that can deliver humanity from certain doom.

Heartfall is slated for an August 26, 2022 release.

Hewitt will be embarking on a tour to support his full-length debut. Check out the tour dates below.


    Aug 03 – Khyber Pass Pub – Philadelphia, PA
    Aug 04 – Garden Grove Brewing Company – Richmond, VA
    Aug 05 – Down Yonder Farm – Hillsborough, NC
    Aug 06 – Story Parlor – Asheville, NC
    Aug 09 – 5 Spot – Nashville, TN
    Aug 10 – Northside Tavern – Cincinnati, OH
    Aug 11 – Rear End Gastropub – Pittsburgh, PA
    Aug 12 – The Avalon Lounge – Catskill, NY
    Aug 13 – Lilypad – Cambridge, MA
    Aug 14 – Sun Tiki Studios – Portland, ME

Jennifer Silva is a Boston-born, New York-based singer/songwriter. Influenced by Stevie NicksAretha FranklinTori AmosThe Rolling StonesFlorence + The Machine and Alabama Shakes, Silva has received praise for her sensual and soulful stage presence and for material that lyrically and thematically explores universal and very human paradoxes — particulartly, the saint and sinner within all of us.

Silva’s debut EP was an EDM collaboration with DJ Sizigi-13 under the mononym Silva. But her full-length debut Bluest Sky, Darkest Earth, the first under her full name saw her sound leaning heavily towards singer/songwriter soul, rock and pop with 70s AM rock references.

The Boston-born, New York-based singer/songwriter’s sophomore album Purgatory Road is slated for an October 29, 2021 release. Recorded at Vinegar Hill Sound, the Reed Black-produced album’s 10 songs thematically connect to the deep, dark places that live within us while featuring complicated, flawed, strong and yet very human characters.

Interestingly, much like its immediate predecessor, Purgatory Road‘s material draws from Silva’s personal life, and the album finds the Boston-born, New York-based singer/songwriter reflecting on her mistakes in a way that offers advice to the listener.

Purgatory Road‘s first single is the slow-burning and sensual “Landline.” Prominently featuring Silva’s sultry and bluesy crooning, and an atmospheric and unfussy arrangement of twinkling Rhodes, a sinuous bass line, strummed guitar, “Landline” continues a run of material heavily indebted to 70s AM rock and soul, centered around a similar craftsmanship. Thematically, “Landline” as Silva explains is an intimate song about personal connections; a longing to bond with someone without the distractions of modern technology with the song finding Silva yearning for the days when the phone was used for one thing and one thing only — a call.

“This song reminds me of a time when people were more connected emotionally. I feel nostalgic toward a simpler time where we had a meaningful, straightforward way of communicating,” Silva further elaborates in press notes. “We may be more technologically connected than ever before, but most of us keep people at a distance and only let them see a more polished, perfect version of ourselves that can be edited and filtered. We are also constantly multitasking on, and distracted by, our phones. I long for a time when you could just focus on talking to someone special on the telephone and connecting for hours on end with them that way. I think people need something real. Modern technology is great in many ways, but it can also be a barrier between us. A simple telephone represents an authenticity that frankly, has been lost.”

Silva is playing a single release show tonight at Rockwood Music Hall. Tickets and other information is here: https://www.seetickets.us/event/Jennifer-SilvaSingleReleaseShow/439426

Deriving their name from a slang phrase popularly used by Mardi Gras indian tribes that means “we’re comin’ for ya” or “here we come,” the Grammy Award-nominated New Orleans-based funk act Cha Wa — currently founding member and bandleader Joe Gelini, along with Spyboy J’Wan Boudreaux, Second Chief Joseph Boudreaux, Ari “Gato” Teitel, Joseph “Jose” Maize, Clifton “Spug” Smith, Aurelien Barnes, Eric “Bogey” Gordon, Edward “Juicey” Jackson and Haruka Kikuchi — can trace their origins back to 2014 when Gellni was first introduced to the Mardi Gras Indian tradition while attending Boston’Berklee College of Music, where he met New Orleans-born, jazz drummer Idris Muhammad, who gave Gellini lessons in New Orleans-styled drumming.

As the story goes, those lessons inspired Gellini to relocate to New Orleans after graduation. Gellini quickly became involved in the city’s beloved Mardi Gras Indian community, eventually attending rehearsals for Mardi Gras marches. Gellini met  Monk Boudreaux, Big Chief of the Golden Eagles and one of the city’s most widely known and popular Mardi Gras Indian vocalists at those rehearsals. Coincidentally, Boudreaux is the grandfather of Cha Wa’s frontman J’Wan Boudreaux.

Unsurprisingly those rehearsals eventually turned into Gellini performing alongside the New Orleans Mardi Gras Indian legend. Gellini met J’Wan Boudreaux while the younger Boudreaux was still attending high school, but shortly after, J’Wan joined the band as their frontman. Since then, Cha Wa have established a sound and aesthetic that simultaneously draws from New Orleans’ Mardi Gras Indian tradition and the city’s beloved rhythm and blues and funk sounds through the release of three albums — 2016’s debut Funk ‘N’ Feathers, 2018’s Grammy Award-nominated Spyboy and their most recent album, My People, which was released last week.

“Mardi Gras Indian tradition and culture goes back over 250 years in the city of New Orleans. And it’s a culture that derives from men of color wanting to celebrate the Mardi Gras holiday but weren’t able to at the time,” Boudreaux explained in an interview with NPR. “So what they did was they created these elaborate suits…it represented the Native Americans that helped the Blacks escape slavery, and they actually helped them throughout the swamps and the bywater to get where they needed to go. So to pay homage to those natives, these men created what we call today Indian suits.” On the album Cha Wa founder Joe Gellni adds that the group “”tapped into that collective unconscious of what it is to live in New Orleans and to see all the nuances and ways that different people of color in the band actually experience racism — what sort of plight we’re facing in New Orleans socially and culturally, and class-wise and environmentally.”

My People‘s latest single, album title track “My People” is a strutting bit of funk that’s one-part classic second line march, one part The Meters, one part Nite Tripper-era Dr. John centered around a shuffling rhythm, shimmering Rhodes, a big horn section and call and response vocals singing lyrics that remind people of the universal facts of life: the rich get rich, while the sick get sicker; that while we have our differences, we have much more in common than we expect — we’ll all experience heartbreak, despair, frustration, loss, death. And if we can see that the universe in others, it may mean we get closer to understanding someone else’s life and their pain.

Although they haven’t been able to tour, as a result of the pandemic, but they have made a recent appearance on Good Morning America and on NPR, and that has allowed them to spread the album’s music and message to a much wider audience — and not just to those who will agree with them, but as Boudreaux explained to NPR “also to the people who may not be so open…just try to open up your eyes and see the world through the lens of the next person – the person that’s next to you, being held down by these different things like systematic oppression…if we don’t say anything about it, then no one will actually understand and know that we’re with them.” 

New Video: Joanna Connor’s Soulful Cover of Luther Allison’s “Bad News Is Coming”

Joanna Connor is a Brooklyn-born, Worcester, MA-raised, Chicago, IL-based singer/songwriter and guitarist, who has publicly cited her mom (who I’ve actually met) and her mom’s record collection as being a major influence on her life and music. “She listed to blues, folk and rock as much as she could,” Connor recalls on her website. “So I heard Buddy Guy and Taj Mahal when I was kid, and got into the more obscure artists as I went on. And I saw all the Chicago bands, who came through town.” By the time, she was in her mid-teens, Connor was playing the Worcester and Boston club scene with her own band before relocating to Chicago in 1984.

Upon her arrival to Chicago, Connor was mentored by a number of blues legends, sitting in with James Cotton, Buddy Guy and Junior Wells. After a stint in Dion Payton‘s band, Connor went solo with her own band, releasing her full-length debut, 1989’s Believe It, which began a string of critically applauded albums released through Blind Pig Records. Connor’s 2002 effort The Joanna Connor Band found Connor displaying the full extent of her influences as it featured “Different Kind of War” and a funky cover of “Slippin’ Into Darkness.” But just as the buzz and accolades were growing, Connor began a touring hiatus. “There were several factors: 9/11 had just gone down, the economy was changing and clubs were closing. But most of all, my daughter was pretty young at the time. She wound up deciding that she wanted to become a big-time basketball player, so that required dedication on both of our parts,” the Chicago-based singer/songwriter and guitarist explains on her website. That dream has come true: Connor’s daughter was awarded a basketball scholarship at Indiana State University, and Connor has pursued her career with a renewed fervor.

Although Connor wasn’t touring, she discovered that audiences were coming out to see her play renowned Chicago blues club Kingston Mines, where she began playing a weekly, three night residency most weekends, between gigs at larger clubs and festivals. “It’s become kind of an institution: You go to Chicago, you go to Wrigley Field and then you go see Joanna Connor,” the Chicago-based singer/songwriter and guitarist says. “The schedule is kind of brutal, but it’s great—Usually a packed house, with lots of adrenaling pumping. When it gets to be around midnight, the audience starts getting younger. And I love that—My son is 29, and he gets people looking at him and saying, ‘That’s your mom’?” (The schedule is brutal indeed: 3 two hour sets between 7:00pm and 5:00am Fridays and Saturdays — and until 4:00am on Sundays. The nights typically begin with an acoustic blues set, followed by two electric sets, as the crowds get younger.)

The crowds increased even more after a video featuring a live version of “Walkin’ Blues” was posted by a Massachusetts-based fan on YouTube. “It was just a phenomenal thing that happened. I was getting calls from America’s Got Talent and movie people reaching out; I even had a Russian billionaire fly me to Spain to play a birthday party. I think people loved the combination: Here’s a woman who looks like somebody’s mom, and she’s playing like this. What I remember most was that it was 90 degrees that day, so I was wearing the coolest dress I had.”

Connor’s 14th album, the Joe Bonamassa and Josh Smith co-produced 4801 South Indiana Avenue was released last month through Joe Bonamassa’s new blues label Keeping The Blues Alive. Deriving its name from the actual address of hallowed, Chicago blues club Theresa’s Lounge, 4801 South Indiana Avenue was recored at 4801 South Indiana Avenue — and the album finds Connor, Bonamassa, Smith and an impressive array of players digging deeply to conjure an authentic, ass kicking and name taking, non-derivative set of that good ol’ fashioned Chicago blues. “We want the listener to open that door, walk in, and feel to their core some of the magic that a place like that brought night after night. It was an honor to bring this to you, the listener,” Connor says in press notes. “This album is a homage to the blues school that I attended in Chicago,” Connor adds. “We attempted to capture the spirit of tradition and inject it with raw energy and passion.”

Earlier this year, I wrote about the boozy and breakneck boogie woogie “I Feel So Good,” which captures a self-assured woman, who kicks ass, takes names and honestly just wants to have a roaring good time — all while featuring Conor’s blistering guitar work and powerhouse vocals. 4801 South Indiana Avenue’s latest single is a lovingly straightforward, no-frills, no filler and no bullshit rendition of Luther Allison’s haunting wailing blues “Bad News Is Coming.” Much like the original, Connor’s version is full of lived-in, late night heartache and regret — and the recognition that life is often full of incredibly difficult and painful decisions that will change the course of your life and of those you’re involved with.

“This is a Luther Allison song, and we chose it because we were all huge fans of his,” Connor explains in press notes. “I toured with him in Europe for almost ten years as his opening act, so it was an honor to record this haunting piece. Joe came up with the bell idea to further capture the mood.”

Appropriately shot in a Chicago blues club, the video is split between footage of Connor wailing and playing those blues like a heartbroken banshee, brooding in the club’s green room about the decisions she has to made — or already have made. And of course, because it’s a late night blues, we see her packing her gear and leaving the club with an uncertain future ahead of her.