Ye ole BIGBUCKHUNTER is playing their final show? tomorrow in the cozy confines of Grandma’s House basement. Yes, it does feel a little odd to call them one of the Boston underground’s most underrated talents because every one around here is a hidden gem of sorts until they selling out the Mid East Up or some shit. It’s not like BBH are incomprehensible harsh freaks, nah to me the chemistry of Kurt (guitar/vocals) and Couch (drums) and whoever is playing bass, that is like a Pavement sense of pop, but the craziness/unpredictability of The Hunches. Loose sloppy playing, but not in a way that me saying that is believable. We will miss our man Kurt, also of Cavemen and formerly KLYAM Recs’ own Miami Doritos (two of our faves), he’s moving on to somewhere new as Nobunny would say.
So once again it’s tomorrow, May 27, Grandma’s with The Buck and the perpetually recommended weirdos ‘newcomers’ BIRTHING HIPS, Steam Traktor, and Book Reef.
Its Cinco De Mayo, you’re slizzard, you’re supposed to play in Puzzle Mansion in a quick minute, but isn’t everyone? But you decide it is maybe best to sit back, keep sucking on the 16 OZ Bud Lite Limes and let your music community know how you really feel by recommending obscure Boston bands. Looks like the Hassle got hacked or something, so you’re left with KLYAM.
Let’s start with Request Freebird. I love Request with a lot of my heart because I always have hated solo acoustic acts. Request plays electric, and his songs chord-wise are easy to play and he makes it no mystery by posting what they are on his Bandcamp. But that is not important. I’ve heard “sad” tossed around, by the singer and his followers, but to me he speaks of realities, that blend his own subjective experience – walking to Korn concerts – with stuff that pretty much all us teens and 20-somethings and 50-somethings know a thing about. So all this shit, might make you think, well you are describing what you first said you hate. I’m not a sing-a-longer, or clap a long-er, but Request is the ultimate exception. Something about his performance and music in general is like a light switch turning on or a magnet, just very attracted to its simple, ultra modern story telling, of a guy who has been doing his own thing, perhaps very awkwardly, for years. My first Request experience was at Wicked Mess, but the essence of it all – the artist who has been called ACLU Benefit and Field of Sheep – is something I’ve witnessed many a time over the past couple years. We first met on the Orange Line coming home from a Halloween show at the Elks. Our most recent non-show meetup was in front of a Whole Foods and culminated at an unopened golf course.
Tiffany’s House – damn I wish Bandcamp had an auto-replay function or something, for stuff like this. Never seen The House, maybe this weekend. Kind of like a Request thing going on, at least for my interpretation’s sake. Very Bedroom but instead of guitars and ukuleles or whatever, The House seems to just work with a keyboard and voice. The song DIRT up on the ole BC is a SONG. Hilarious bizzaro existential/lonely lyrics, minimal Dream elements. A chill JANE LA ONDA , more stretching less rambunctious physicality. Choice material.
Birthing Hips – Is there a Band Like Birthing Hips? Not that I’ve seen, not for my money. A group that can do whatever and I trust in ’em fully. That tells you shit and I’m glad. Like I’m glad that I am suckering you into reading this and you see the name BIRTHING HIPS , and you think folk ? World music ? No, I don’t know anything about music. But I think they have their shit together. There are a lot of CHANGES, a lot of ””WEird”’ things going on that you don’t see in a typical four piece incarnation, But in that way it is Psychedelic. You can’t keep up. Carrie guides the way, and her band holds no prisoners. The unpredictable gets me everytime and I hope it gets U!!!!!!!
Formal reviews won’t do this record any good; instead the notes on the sleeve that come from those closest to Angry Angles – Alix Brown (one half of the band) and Zac and Eric from Goner Records – tell the story of the band and this record better than any music writer will. The time frame is 2005, when Jay Reatard and Alix formed the band after the dissolve of Jay’s previous group, the synth heavy “dark wave” Lost Sounds. According to Zac, Angry Angles were Jay’s “return to punk, in a way. Still raw, but now more focused, with a pop sensibility.” They recorded a few singles in Atlanta and Memphis over the course of two years and even got some studio time in Montreal before Gonerfest 6 that culminated in three songs previously unreleased until now.
Unfortunately I was not hip to Angry Angles (or any of Jay’s pre-solo bands) prior to his death in January 2010. But upon listening to Angry Angles shortly thereafter, I was blown away. Listen after listen, this group became most certainly an all-time favorite, right up there with The Reatards and The Lost Sounds, both of which I also had no previous exposure. What stood out to me, particularly, with Angry Angles is sure they were dark and robotic (like The Lost Sounds), but they were mighty concise and sharp. Hook after hook. Jay’s quick fire/angular guitar playing, quasi Brit vocal inflection, easily identifiable drumming, and fat production – trademarks of what would be his solo style take root here. But this was a dynamic duo and Alix and Jay were musically perfect for each other, often taking the heaviest/simplest moments of Wire and Devo soundscapes and modernizing them with the relentlessness of your neighborhood garage band. It seems like Alix challenged Jay-isms to a most positive affect, to me, most apparently on “You Lied” stuffed with a more traditional sounding bouncy bass line and some piano.
Angry Angles no doubt were the basis for the direction that Jay chose to pursue throughout his mighty solo discography from Blood Visions through his final LP Watch Me Fall, which features a tune I never would have guessed was by Angry Angles — “Can’t Do It Anymore.” In fact the final three songs on here, which I mentioned were recorded in Montreal (and not by Jay himself) with drummer Ryan Rousseau, sound very much like Jay’s solo stuff. His obsession with doing it all himself, as Alix writes in her blurb about the album, gives insight into why they never saw the light of day until now. There are no ‘weak’ songs on here, all memorable jams, and I am so thankful for Goner for putting together this album. It is strange to think that over the past six years many of these songs like most of Side A and the first half of Side B have been so influential for me and I have played them over and over, if only via YouTube or a WFMU session. I’ll always say it and I know at least some others agree, the rock ‘n roll that came out of Memphis in the span of four years – 2005 to 2009 – is simply the best. Angry Angles, The Barbaras, Girls of the Gravitron, Boston Chinks, these are my favorite groups NOW. Back then I didn’t know such wonderful raw stuff. I was a teenager from Boston, MA, listening to The Strokes and The Libertines, damn was I missing out on the real good stuff, most of it coming from Jay and his adjacent friends and cohorts. I hope this record might incite or re-ignite passion, because Angry Angles and a healthy chunk of the Goners left (and still leave) an impact on me.
Back in the day we used to have “Hopes and Expectations” before highly anticipated shows featuring our slimy favorites. With the Rama Lama Ding Dong, the theme surrounding it is the ultimate local show that we would want to see TIMES THREE. We are grateful to be curating an experience featuring bands we consider EXCITING performers in garage, noise, punk, surf, Rock and Roll.
Opening night is Thursday, April 28 at Club Bohemia in Central Square, Cambridge. Love it or hate it, we are in the former camp and have held several fun KLYAM shows in this dank basement of the Cantab Lounge.
To kick off the festivity, KLYAM will be DJ’ing starting at 8 PM. What will we play? Ass shakers, maybe some Jandek, sure maybe some Khan, some singles from the early 1950s.
My band and I, G. Gordon Gritty, will be starting things around 9 PM. I’m not a musician, we’ve never all together played in the same room and my last gig at Bohemia we cleared the joint of aging Rockers until all but Mickey Bliss remained. Come check it out!
Next up will be Mike Mountain. I met Mike in New Bedford, his glorious hometown, about one year ago. He is joyously unpredictable, confidently moseying the musical vernacular like a guy who owns 20,000 records and favorite band is The Thinking Fellas Local Union 282. Whatever form Mike strolls to town in, it will be somethin’.
Third on the dusty billing is Andy California, perhaps the only musician who is awarded pre-arranged accommodations at the incensed Bohemia Club. Dude recently toured Europe and yup is THAT guy from The Monsieurs and Mardi Kings. In the California incarnation, he’s strumming away – bluesy stomps – and guess what you better be payin’ attention because he swirms and swims amongst the vulnerable crowd. Not some passive pensive slinger, Cali is the look you in the eye, real deal.
One, two, three and four – Second Becky. What do we know about Second Becky? It is a band coming courtesy of Victoria from GRAVEL. A two piece. What else do we know? We know it’s a band we ought to check out, a band you ought to check out. Find out more at the show!
HEADLINING are the heavies, the behemoths of the every second is a celebratory noisy freakout FUNERAL CONE. The hardest of cores playing the Ding Dong, we’ve been wanting these cats on a KLYAM show for a while and what better occasion than this, bringing this wicked evening of craze to a close.
What up creeps. It’s been a long time since I’ve been on here rapping about your favorite bands, my favorite bands. Why should all those other writer twerps take away my spotlight? I’ve been, we’ve been busy… we threw down more shows than ever this year and attended many more. Here’s a list of my favorites, you’ll see a lot of the same names. You may even choke on your own vomit because you’re so sick of reading about the same bands over and over again and there’s no mention of Pile or Krill. Too bad freaks! Let’s go…
10) NOTS, (New England) Patriots, Ursula, Germ House @ Club Bohemia (October 23rd)
Jason Trefts (Illegally Blind) knows how to curate a stacked bill and that’s an understatement. But, this show right here is a chief example of his undeniable efforts. We KLYAMERS were beyond ecstatic when our beloved Memphis punkers in NOTS journeyed to our second home – the 100 capacity Club Bohemia in Cambridge, joining forces with local favorites Ursula and (New England) Patriots. New Mexico’s Germ House was a pleasant introduction as well. Dark, dank, and head spinning. Sounds like a regular night at Bohemia.
Flyer by G. Gordon Gritty
9) The Monsieurs, Atlantic Thrills, Feral Jenny, ACLU Benefit @ Lilypad (January 24th)
2015 is truly the first year we’ve consistently put on shows in Boston and this was one of my favorites. There was a snowstorm that night and the show was facing potential demise. Glen and I grabbed a beer at The Druid and as soon as 10:00 PM rolled around we headed over next door to the Lilypad to get ready for the show, expecting a sparse crowd. Quite the contrary my friends. As ACLU Benefit’s baritone vocals roared through the art gallery I was greeted with snowy friends and strangers alike. Each band turned it up a notch and I hold them all near and dear as you probably know. For what it’s worth, ego aside, I think this was one of the finest and most diverse bills all year. Where else have you seen The Monsieurs and ACLU Benefit on the same bill?! I could go on and on… Feral Jenny rocks. RIP :( and Atlantic Thrills are longtime homies. I hope to see and book more shows at Lilypad in 2016.
8) The King Khan & BBQ Show, Milk Lines @ Middle East Downstairs (November 19th)
To paraphrase something Mark Sultan said during the show, it’s a rare night when the stars align and you can see Nobunny and The King Khan & BBQ Show in one night. We did! But, I’ll get to the bunnyman later on. KKBBQ. Damn, we’ve been able to count on them to provide relentless, passionate rock ‘n’ roll entertainment for many years now. They are the best at what they do; soulful, punk infested doo wop. If you closed your eyes and didn’t know any better you’d probably think there were a whole bunch of fuckers up there. Nope, just two. I dug Ryan Major passionately singing along to their cover of Johnnie Thunders’ “You Can’t Put Your Arms Around a Memory” and King Khan dedicating “Lonely Boy” to one Gangbang Gordon. “Ladies, they don’t call him Gangbang Gordon for nothing.” Haha, they don’t win PC punk points and that’s fine by me.
Photo by Madison McConkey
7) The Barbazons, Earthquake Party, Jim Leonard, The Double Buscemis @ Theives Grotto (November 7th)
I’ve seen my fair share of Barbazons/Fagettes shows and probably your fair share and his fair share and her fair share and your snake’s fair share and you get the picture. They are a KLYAM staple, duh. This one stands out as one of the feistiest, sweatiest, and most fun. The Grotto is often the best place to see a band. Sidebar: Theives Grotto, best venue in Boston. Give it up for those kids. The picture above says it all: Melanie hanging from the pipes surrounded by a sea of doe eyed boys and girls. You can’t make that shit up.
Flyer by Jesse DeFrancesco
6) Nice Guys (tour kick off), Creaturos, The Mardi Kings, The Double Buscemis @ Grandma’s House (August 21st)
We said fuck off to all of our least favorite Nice Guys, which is all of them for me. I hate them all equally. Beer cans and bottles were flung, you crazy fuckssss I TRUSTED YOUUUUUUU. Basement shows can get wild sometimes and this place is pretty teeny tiny, so we were all smushed together and it was perfect. Creaturos set the bar high as always, don’t fuck with those guys or you’ll get a knuckle sandwich. Mardi Kings (they were Marty Kings at the time, what’s the scoop there?), damn that’s my jam. Those fuzzy bubblegum poppers, got all the crazy kids dancing hysterically. I too was not afraid to die, for a second. Anddd The Double Buscemis, this was my first time seeing this local duo. A couple of straight shooters; short, scuzzy rips about not wanting to be a fuckboi. Don’t. Keep your eyes peeled for these hellions in twenty sixteen.
Flyer by David Fowlkes
5) Nice Guys (‘Chips in the Moonlight’ EP Release), The Monsiuers, Slow Jerks, Black Beach @ Club Bohemia (February 12th)
I could make a list of my top ten Nice Guys shows in 2015, but then I’d just be sucking their dicks wayyy too hard and I’d rather save up all of my energy for 2016, sorry gentlemen. This list is pretty close to that anyway. You’ll see those fine boys on here again, trust me, I trusted you… This show was special, because “Chips in the Moonlight” is their finest release to date as far as I’m concerned and this was the perfect celebration for the occasion. Club Bohemia is the KLYAM haus, as you probably know and I love seeing the place packed to the gills, which is rare. Cheers Al Slounge.
Flyer by Jim Leonard
4) KLYAM 6th Anniversary Show featuring The Barbazons, Nice Guys, Atlantic Thrills, G. Gordon Gritty @ Middle East Upstairs (July 1st)
This was a massive love fest. Truly humbling and heartwarming. We were surrounded by all of our friends and favorite bands and I couldn’t have asked for a better anniversary party. The Barbazons set felt like it was being played just for us. I loved how they had us request each song before they played. They opened with my favorite Barbazons/Fagettes number, “Catholic Riffraff & The Allston Amazon.” Melanie shouts “I thought it was a hangover, but it’s my heart.” Well, the next morning, it was a hangover!
Poster by John Magnifico
3) Boston Fuzzstival @ Middle East Upstairs & Donwstairs (August 6-8th)
Several of the shows featured on this list were Illegally Blind shows and many more were attended by yours truly. Illegally Blind is run by Jason Trefts, a true mentor for KLYAM and a pillar of the Boston music scene. Fuzzstival is an annual event that brings various artists and fans together to build bridges within the community. The fest is a microcosm of what Illegally Blind/Jason does every day. This year was especially significant because it stretched across three days and featured 34 bands – 18 on the final day with sets shifting back and forth from the Middle East Dowstairs’ main stage and a little side stage near the bar area. It was incredible seeing so many great people and hearing the city’s fuzziest freaks all in one room. A positive vibe we can aspire to going forward.
Flyer by TJ of Midriffs
2) Nobunny, The Monsieurs, Nice Guys, Gymshorts @ Middle East Upstairs (November 13th)
This was a bruiser, but it was totally worth it. Nobunny is KLYAM’s top dawg, errr bunny. Seriously our favorite current live act. We go wayyy back ked, way back to 09 ked. Eight shows deeps and this was one of, if not, thee best. The bunnyman had some help from some of New England’s slimiest too. Stacked bill if I ever saw one.
Art via Rocket Science Audio
1) Gonerfest 12 @ Hi-Tone, Murphy’s, and Bucaneer (Memphis, TN from September 24-27th)
I can’t believe it either, we made it to Gonerfest! A dream six years in the making. Goner Records has always been a favorite of ours; just look at our vinyl collections. We hold Memphis in our hearts, bbq on our faces, and beers in our bellies. It was an amazing experience as a whole (first time in the South) roaming through literal rock ‘n’ roll history. The fest itself featured numerous incendiary bands, too many to mention them all. Highlights for me included Pookie and the Poodlez, Nots, Ty Rex ( Ty Seall T Rex cover set, got some sweet champagne poured in my eyes), Giorgio Murderer, Obnox, Sweet Knives (Alicia Trout fronted Lost Sounds cover set), Ar-Kaics, Quintron, and Nobunny (duh). What is special about Gonerfest is that the bulk of the attendees are non-locals. Like ourselves, most festers traveled from all over the world just to see some good old fashioned rock ‘n’ roll. We met folks from DC, Kentucky, Washington, Finland, Australia. You name it. We even met some Boston peeps, shout out to Tom! As monumental as the fest is, it’s still relatively small when you think about it and that’s not a bad thing. It’s cool to think 1,000 (or less) freaks from all over the globe are gathering to drink beer and geek out over some underground bands. It’s rock ‘n’ roll camp, that’s all you need to know.
There you have it. 2016 be my baby, be my bitch, you’re next.
Adam Green – In 2016, how does one recommend to somebody where to begin? Didn’t have this problem in 2010. I think I first heard a full Adam Green album with his 2010 Minor Love LP. No, I didn’t “get it” at that time, six years ago. I reviewed it like it was Let It Bloom or something. But Minor Love can’t be thought of as a boozy garage album. There’s a lot more fuzz to go around on Minor than his cleaner sounding previous records, but this one is just as witty as it is raw. One could spend an entire article or small history on how Adam beats everyone at the fun game of random.
Almighty Defenders – Why 2009 was seven years ago. It’s officially a long time ago. Think about it. If you were even the hippest 12 year old listening to The Almighty Defenders, you are 19 years old now. There’s no way around it. Their album and their existence is forever special and will not be forgotten. It is laughable that there was any kind of seriousness associated with Almighty Defenders. I mean that in the best way. Black Lips & The King Khan & BBQ Show getting together, on a whim, given some bizarre circumstances. They did it.
Angry Angles – I was going to assume everybody knows this band, but I bet reality is not as convincing. This is Jay Reatard and Alix Brown’s band. They broke up, so did the band, and then Jay made Blood Visions. But from what I understand, a lot of those songs were already being performed by Angry Angles. Whatever – I am familiar with the three 7″s – Apparent-Transparent, Crowds, and Things Are Moving. Of course they were from Memphis. I would say contemporary bands from there must think fondly of the Angles.
Animal Collective – Say what you will about these guys, but they meant a lot to me from about 2007 to 2009. Their weirdness and noisiness more often than not IS rock ‘n roll to me, at least in its primitiveness and expanding creativity. I can hear the Beach Boys and Pavement influence as much as any of the avant-garde. I would like to revisit all of it. It will be okay to be weird. Yeah, I’ll check out the new one. Why not?
Atlas Sound – There is only one Bradford Cox. I admire him for his insane stretches of bedroom recordings. He has released some official albums and as well as many self-released Databank Volumes. By himself, Bradford touts absolute freedom, but in a very nostalgic and chill way. He is a sucker for the old fashioned ’50s/’60s pop format maybe more than the sound collage, but he liberally incorporates whatever he wants, however, he wants it. And that is something I admire and really learn a lot from with each thoughtful listen.
Ausmuteants – As far as synth ‘n roll is concerned, at least for the past couple years, these guys are the top. Comfortably. The Aussie DEVO I never grew up with, but with more of the Goner spunk. There’s a live video on YouTube where they played for well over 30 minutes on a bill with The Gories and Thee Oh Sees. And I had the funnest time watching them. Tells ya how excited I am about AUSMUTEANTS. Hope for another US tour this year!
PERHAPS they are more prevalent than I THOUGHT. Truly bizarre groups. I love ’em so much (usually) – those possessing that anything-is-possible vibe. Out there, out here, there’s a whole lot of rock ‘n roll, hey experimental, whatever, where you can just close your eyes and that’s it. You got it.
But no see, a band like Listening Woman who I first caught at Hassle Fest a few weeks ago, there’s a complete package involved. Eyes, ears, sense of space. If you have anxiety of like needing to know what’s happening at any given moment or you want some degree of control in your entertainment experience…this is when you pack your bags, and Netflix and chill. Go back to the Cabin. See, at a Listening Woman performance, and I’m no expert, I’ve seen ’em just once, there’s unpredictability and a spectrum of performance style that purposely teases and messes with the spectator. There are conventional components – not your parent’s conventions, unless they live a No Wave life – musicality I’d call it, and a feeling that this eight member (vocalist, guitarist, bassist, keyboardist, percussionist, drummer, saxophonist, and effects?player?) crew got together and previously ran through these numbers more than a time or two.
They keep a straight face too while playing. Being the outsider that I am, I don’t know any of the folks in the band. Probably should , they seem like a nice bunch. The other thing, well actually a few other things. The songs can change in like 5 seconds to something new. This is awesome! Another observation is that watching Listening Woman is watching a film or musical. A moving fantasy world. A world you are trapped in. In this way, I can’t help but think back to Memphis circa 2006 to 2011, with Girls of the Gravitron, The Barbaras (like this), and Magic Kids. Pop Dungeons and shit. Might just be my imagination and I’m missing the point entirely. In that case. GOOD.