Hooray for Earth – “True Loves” Album Premiere

Hooray For Earth - True Loves

Today, SPIN Magazine opened the floodgates for avid fans of Hooray For Earth (HFE) by streaming their entire upcoming album “True Loves” online. I wasted no time in listening to it here. I urge to do the same, before this offer disappears. The album goes public on June 7th.

For everyone who got here late, HFE is a guitar band originally from Boston. They now operate in New York, and have since then exploded. Their heavy-hitting presence from years ago (i.e their EP “Momo”) has not changed. If anything, they have complimented that energy with music that makes people feel alive. The vocals resonate on almost every track, as if welcoming listeners to sing along. Check out songs like “Last Minute” and “True Loves” to get a feel for what I mean.

There are layers to their music that simply never existed before. They’ve been exploring the boundaries of guitar rock with electronic enthusiasm, and their hard work has paid off. I sense a very strong and positive reaction to their new release from Dovecote Records. Check out their music video for “True Loves” below. It aptly demonstrates the caliber of their work.

The “Silent Alarm” by Bloc Party

Bloc Party has been around for years now. And yet, every time I listen to their album “Silent Alarm”, I am reminded of a great experience I had in June 2007. It was Boston’s Best Music Poll, and Bloc Party was headlining. I was working for The Phoenix, the media group that put on the show, and they gave me an all-access pass to document the show. I was free to explore the stage and get close to the action. I had not really listened to their music beforehand, but the show itself was a defining moment for me. Many people would agree; live performances surpass a studio recording in more ways than one. They opened with “Like Eating Grass”, drawing out the introduction for everyone to know, and went on from there, playing “Silent Alarm” song by song. Their sound resonated with me ever after.

Fast-paced guitar rock blended with powerful vocal harmonies to make waves in the ocean of people that flooded the streets. They started playing “Banquet” and I couldn’t help jump along with everyone else. I was there, fifteen feet from the stage, moving around every song to capture pictures of the band in their element. By the time they started “She’s Hearing Voices”, the percussion took on an industrial presence, and everyone began clapping their hands and jumping to the beat. A girl next to me was losing herself in the vibrations of the song, dancing in place with her eyes closed and mouth slightly open.

Listening to their album now, I feel the same vibrations, echoed years after they released it. Their sound has changed since then, incorporating more electronic instrumentation, but they still have that iconic, indie feel. It’s only getting better.

People compare them to The Cure, Joy Division, and The Smiths, all of which fall under a subgenre of English alternative rock. It’s only fair they share the same sound; the British influences have shaped their music in such a unique way. There is so much energy and emotion in the sound and lyrics, almost like a rebellion. A teenage rebellion, which is exactly what I saw on Landsdowne Street that night. I snapped picture after picture of the show, trying to capture a visual piece of the moment. Years later, I can look back at these pictures, while listening to this album, and remember a great experience, one-of-a-kind, not likely to be forgotten.

Film Buffs will Trip on “Enter the Void”

Film buffs with hard stomachs may find Gaspar Noe’s work hard to swallow. Noe is famous for his unfiltered appreciation of taboo concepts such as on-screen drug use, gratuitous sex, and extreme violence. The best example I can offer is in an earlier film of his called “Irreversible,” wherein a man is bludgeoned to death with a fire extinguisher, and a woman is raped for ten minutes in a dirty alleyway. Granted, the victim was Monica Bellucci, it still doesn’t sit well with most viewers.

Gaspar Noe brings another offering to the counter-culture film community with “Enter the Void.” Set in the seedy red light district of Tokyo, Japan, a teenage drug dealer (Oscar) experiences the ultimate trip. Without spoiling the obvious plot turns, the film takes a unique stand on the concepts of life and death. It’s a disorienting invitation to an underworld most of us are better off not knowing about.

Oscar is violently removed from physical reality and forced to live on in a “metaphysical void.” He pulls us along, whether we like it or not, in a way that numbs and arrests the viewer. We are forced to feel his natural and synthetic highs that distort perception. Like a ghost, we watch the world react without having an influence. There are strong sexual undertones that hint to an oedipal complex, but again, Gaspar Noe is known for pushing those buttons.

What makes this film so profound to me is the point-of-view camerawork. You see through the eyes of the main character, Oscar, as he takes drugs and goes on elaborate hallucinations. He later looks at himself in the mirror and you see his hands move as if they were your own. This alone is an accomplishment in modern cinema. The camera eventually acts like a transient specter, flowing through and around the world Oscar knows, giving us a harsh look at his life (and death). Sometimes, I didn’t want to see, and other times, despite my better judgment, I couldn’t look away.

Prepare yourself for graphic, intense, and realistic experiences that will take a while to fade out of memory.

Travel Notes – LED ZEPPELIN 2 @ Paradise Rock Lounge

Led Zeppelin 2 @ Paradise Rock Lounge
Boston, MA
J&B straight

It was right in the middle of “Dazed and Confused” that I realized what it felt like to attend a Led Zeppelin concert. The only difference was that these guys were not the original members of the band. I couldn’t tell however, because they looked exactly like the original members during the time in which they created their following. Unless Led Zeppelin played at Paradise Rock Lounge back in the day, there was no other distinction. Did that actually happen?

It was the culmination of Kulp’s 30th birthday celebrations. His girlfriend and roommates put all the bells and whistles on what I can only call a frenetic pleasure-fest of the senses. Before I knew it, I was drinking J&B straight, licking gobs of chocolate alcohol-infused whip cream off my two, good fingers, and sampling bits of a Lincoln-log, fried Philly Cheesesteak abomination, better known as “The Kulp.” It’s due to appear on http://www.thisiswhyyourefat.com/ any day now.

The night sped up when I half-ran from Cambridge Terrace to Paradise Rock with J-Lew. We thought we were late, but the show had not started. Typical. People got there within minutes of us, and it eventually turned into the apex of everyone’s night. Opening with “Rock and Roll” was the most appropriate entrance, testing the limits of everyone’s expectations. I was right there, two layers away from the stage, leaning in and taking a glimpse of the moments felt by millions across time and space.

At first, the levels were out of whack. The rock was too much, and the mixers had to find a balance before people’s head’s exploded, before “Dazed and Confused” turned up. I rocked at that point, screaming “Go!!” and “Yeah!!” while the band jammed on. Then they played “Since I’ve Been Loving You,” and there was a moment in the confusion when I truly felt unlike any other. They played “Stairway to Heaven,” and it felt like the lighter in my hand was my soul, burning out in satisfaction. It made me think the end was near, and then they gave me more.

I lost sight of my friends when the band finished their second set. I stayed to buy a t-shirt and talk to the roadie selling swag. It turned out the band wasn’t finished. They came back and played a two-song encore to a reasonably smaller crowd. One of the songs was “Moby Dick,” and an outrageous drum solo ensued for close to five minutes. When the show was over, they talked with the few people remaining, including myself, about the nature of their cover band, and the intimate relationship they have with the music and the era. Almost like a religious mission, they tour the country, spreading the word of one of classic rock’s greatest acts.

I bled from the hand, not realizing it until the lights came on. The rich, red coagulation on my index finger only enthused feelings of rebellion and rock, and when the roadie made me aware of it, I wrapped it up in the newly-purchased tour shirt. After the show, the band members were nice enough to sign it, impressed and concerned about the blood stains I proudly presented. I unfortunately had to wash the shirt, but the memory, much like the song, remains the same.


Allston, MA
Victory HopDevil Ale

Stepping into Great Scott for the first time in several years felt liberating, as if I had broken some taboo against enjoying myself in Allston. Indeed, it felt energetic to be there again; the indie-rock lovers of Boston were slowly filling the bar as the opening act, “You Can Be a Wesley,” took the stage. Four solid players of garage-pop rock flooded the speakers and made me thankful for showing up within minutes of arrival.

The vocals lifted the sound of the band, and at times the band carried them, and me, and the rest of us to an interesting place. They played this one song, “Old in Florida,” and it had me closing my eyes at times to take it in. A music video was well-deserved for this song, and even after that plug, they continued to make use of Great Scott for over an hour. Not knowing the band beforehand truly made this experience worthwhile. They certainly know how to hit the fan with head-banging rock.

It’s a great progression of indie-label music, and they just kept flowing, even after the audience stopped clapping their hands and beating their heads. Mild frenzies of musical sensation made me smile for most of their performance. Their last song made me shiver when they switched from major to minor keys. The force of their percussion radiated something chemical around the stage, and people like me were simply blown away by their on-stage talent. I almost feel like ruining the moment by asking what that last song was, but maybe it’s better I leave that to my imagination.

Before leaving the bar, their bassist Nick gave me one of their last limited edition poster prints from a previous show at Great Scott. As an original, I thought you’d like to see it. Check out their new music on Myspace!