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December 2014
The Spirit of the Beehive
"The Spirit of the Beehive
"
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There is something rather dark and mysterious about a band that takes its name from a classic Spanish film that focuses on its protagonist, a young girl, who becomes fascinated by the 1931 horror movie, Frankenstein. And with an album cover that portrays a child in a bee costume positioned in front of a tombstone saying, “Here Lies Mom-n-Dad Now Their Gone Isn’t That Sad,” you can’t help but be intrigued, if not a bit disturbed. The Spirit of the Beehive is a local fledgling outfit who has popped up on my radar this past year, appearing on numerous bills, oftentimes at DIY spaces. The band has further grabbed my attention with its debut self-titled full-length album, which was recorded by The Weaks/ex-Dangerous Ponies, Evan Bernard and Chris Baglivo, and released via rising Philly indie label Ranch Records.  
 
The record’s opening track, “Roll Over,” begins with an eerie instrumentation before a languid female voice comes in with barely intelligible lines. “Cycles in and out of morphine hazes. Finding spaces between your floorboards. And I watch the dust move.” Thankfully the group provides us with lyrics on its Bandcamp page; otherwise, the beautifully poetic verses filled with drug-fueled imagery would be lost in the wash of power chords and feedback. “All lost in the black market. To wait in the fix aisle, I roll over.” You also get a sense of the band’s lo-fi, DIY aesthetic when you are abruptly taken out of the world, created by the album’s first, with studio chatter before moving on to the next track. With “Short Walk,” you can’t help but feel the influences of greats like Nirvana and more recently Creepoid with the hushed vocals and sonic bursts. These two tracks set the tone for the first half of the LP, where you travel in and out of the territories of dream pop and shoegaze when the female lead vocals grab a hold of you and then the grungier, harder-edged side takes over with the male lead. This juxtaposition provides quite an enjoyable balance that I actually wished went on longer throughout the record.
 
It’s not until “Ether,” where the two combine forces, changing the dynamic of their relationship. The title of the song suggests that you might be finding something more ethereal; however, the driving bass line provides a sense of urgency throughout the track. It also marks the point where the male lead begins to dominate the rest of the album, while taking on some of the characteristics of its counterpart. What remains a constant is a psychedelic, drug-filled angst full of guitar licks and distortion, giving off the vibe of a band that is here to rock, and they don’t care if you are ready for it or not.
 
The Spirit of the Beehive closes out their ambitious LP with the longest and cleanest sounding recording on the album, “Fever Dream,” demonstrating that they don’t need to hide behind studio effects, while making you wonder where their follow-up release will go next. It’s an eclectic and modern sounding record that also pulls from past genres I hold close to my chest. I highly recommend that you go download it ASAP. - Q.D. Tran

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Chillingsworth -- Sir Roger

According to the band’s bandcamp bio, Connecticut's Chillingsworth brings “excitement and fun energy to every show they play” and from the first chord of their EP, Sir Roger, one can easily hear why that very may well be the case. The EP is full of energetic drumbeats and catchy, upbeat melodies. Traces of jazz and ska are woven throughout each track, probably most obviously heard in the final track, Stay Fly. The vocals remind me of Matt Skiba or possibly Geoff Farina, singer of Karate. 

I found myself listening to the opening track, Cloud, and feeling an overwhelming urge to get up and dance.  The use of bells is very prominent throughout the track making them a nice addition to the song, adding a poppy layer to their jazz-infused sound. There are moments on the track where one can hear Vampire Weekend peeking through the melodies. This leads me to believe that Chillingsworth has a solid grasp on how to make a good pop song.

Overall, I was very pleased with this release. I think the band has a great jazz-pop sound, which can most certainly appeal to a wide audience. I am interested to see what they come up with next and would definitely recommend checking these guys out next time they come around your hometown.

--Daniel McMahon


Fear Nuttin Band -- Move Positive

Fear Nuttin Band is a reggae outfit from Boston who are creating a genre of their own. By infusing dancehall, the consciousness of Hip Hop, with a dabble of alternative and heavy metal, Fear Nuttin Band is musically diverse and intricate from other reggae bands. You can certainly preview a taste of this musical diversity on the band's album, Move Positive.

All thirteen tracks include heavy acoustic guitar, positive vibrations in which you want to sway side-to-side, or run to a live show of theirs to witness them live in action. Each track, especially Move Positive, tells a great and real story about standing up and partaking in the positive things that life has to offer, even if life throws curveballs from time to time. Another great single on the album, Rebel, is a redemption song that tells a story about being a leader within, instead of being a follower, and not being a slave to fads of the world.

The band's mission is to "Unify the music, unify the people." If you are an aficionado of dancehall, hip hop, and alternative music, you will definitely feel, understand, and vibe to the unification of the musical fusion of Fear Nuttin Band.

You can catch them tomorrow night, Nov. 23, at Ironhorse Music Hall in Northampton MA with Zamia. 10pm, All Ages.


Fear Nuttin Band - Rebel

--Andrea Camille


Elephants -- The Sea EP

Lo-fi junkies and lovers of all things acoustic rejoice; Elephants has just released their sophomore contribution, The Sea EP, onto the Boston music scene. The Boston duo released the EP earlier this month and is hoping to make their name known around the city. The four-track EP shows clear influences from Ted Leo and Elliott Smith, but with a stronger lo-fi feel. The third track, A Stone to the Rain, is probably the best example of this. The melodic lines and cadences remind me of a female Ted Leo if he were singing through a radio speaker. I found lead-singer Lauren Garant’s vocals to be one of the major highlights of the EP, held down by solid rhythm guitar work from both Garant and Ryan Young.

Perhaps my only negative criticism of the EP is that it seemed incomplete. I thought several of the tracks could be bolstered by rhythmic accompaniment (drums or other percussion) or filled out by additional instrumentation (keys, bass, etc.); even Elliott Smith decided to throw drums and other instruments in on his recordings from time to time.

As a whole, The Sea EP maintains a great vibe throughout and I am eager to see where Elephants decide to roam from this point forward. You can check them out live with Jeff Sheldon and The Four Point Restraints at All Asia in Cambridge, MA on Thursday, Dec.1. Show starts at 6:30pm, $10 for 18+; $6 for 21+.

--Daniel McMahon


Joey McIntyre Self-Releases Holiday Album, Announces Two Boston Performances

Joey McIntyre (NKOTB) has announced plans to release a holiday album, Come Home for Christmas. The singer will also be performing two (free) shows in Boston within the coming weeks.

For the holiday standards that make up the self-released Come Home for Christmas, McIntyre set out to record versions of some of his favorites that evoke holiday memories, but still retain their traditional sound. With several duets on the album, one highlight in particular is the holiday classic Peace on Earth which finds McIntyre accompanied by longtime friend and fellow New Kid on the Block, Jordan Knight.

McIntyre will perform two tracks from the album at the Macy's Tree Lighting Ceremony in Boston's Downtown Crossing on Friday, Nov. 25. An in-store CD signing will immediately follow. The singer will be back in Boston on Thursday, Dec. 1, when he will perform at the annual City of Boston Tree Lighting on Boston Common.

Come Home for Christmas will be available on iTunes Tuesday, Nov. 29.

--Chrissy Prisco


Nick LeBlanc & The Pink Beans -- S/T

Amidst hardcore screams, pounding double bass, and a slew of pop-punk acts, Nick LeBlanc and the Pink Beans certainly stand out from their surroundings. While many bands in their hometown of New Bedford, MA are working on catchy choruses and how to get the right “chug” out of their guitars, Nick LeBlanc and the Pink Beans take a different approach, sometimes abandoning choruses all together. Their self-titled debut album is testament to that.

The six tracks are filled with intense energy, solid guitar playing and a powerful rhythm section. Perhaps the most striking feature of the album lies in the backing vocals. Leblanc brought in Easton resident Kristin Santangelo to give the album more soul and, well, it certainly worked.  Her backings can be heard scattered throughout the album, but her most striking performance is on track four, I Think It Might Be Right.  She closes the track with an emotionally-charged vocal solo, reminiscent of Pink Floyd’s Great Gig In the Sky. This song is particularly interesting because it makes use of a chorus (accompanied by Santangelo and a host of other singers,including recording engineer/producer of the album Trevor Vaughn) to supply the hook for the song, unlike the rest of the album which relies heavily on music-driven hooks in place of choruses.

Overall, the album is a pleasant mix of punk rock, jazz, and classic and indie-rock influences with subtle hints of an ostentatious, "look what we can do” attitude.”

--Daniel McMahon


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