Archive for the ‘Listen local’ Category

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Best of 2010: debcha’s tops in [Boston music] tech

December 23, 2010

 

Cross-posted from Boston’s best local music blog, Boston Band Crush.

 

Boston is a music town. And Boston is a tech town. So it’s hardly surprising that Boston and Camberville produce an enormous amount of interesting stuff at the intersection of music and technology. Here are five of my favorite examples from this year:

1. Mashup Breakdown

Benjamin Rahn, of Cambridge, created an addictive site that visualizes the use of samples in songs, and launched it with (of course) Girl Talk’s new album, All Day. As you play tracks from the album, each of the samples used is highlighted and identified. The best part? It’s an ongoing project. So if there’s a song that you’ve always been curious about, go to the site and find out how you can participate.

2. The Swinger

It’s been a great year for Somerville’s The Echo Nest, a music intelligence company. They closed on a major round of funding, and provided the brainpower behind a host of great projects, like MTV’s phenomenal Music Meter site (yes, I know you’re thinking “MTV? Doing something worthwhile with music. Really?” Yes, really. Check it out.) And they had a viral hit on their hands with The Swinger, a bit of computer code that can make any song swing by automagically time-stretching the first half of each beat and shortening the second. Check out some examples here.

3. The Toscanini Gestural Interface

Boston hackers Lindsey Mysse and Robby Grodin showed off the Toscanini Gestural Interface (named after the conductor, not the ice cream) at the most recent Boston Music Hack Day. It’s a watch that turns movement into music (via Max/MSP commands). See it in action in the video here.

4. Dance Central and Rock Band 3

Across from the Middle East, an unremarkable office building houses the giant of music games, Harmonix. While they face an uncertain future, they released not one, but two incredible games this year. You’re probably already spending your evenings rocking out or getting down in your living room.

5. Another Green World (33 1/3 Books)

What possible relationship can a book about a 35-year-old Brian Eno album have with the Boston music/tech scene? Geeta Dayal, a Boston-based arts critic and MIT grad, wrote a short but brilliant book that investigates Eno’s 1975 album, which is deeply rooted in technology and technical concepts, especially in the field of cybernetics (defined and named by MIT professor Norbert Weiner in 1948). Even if you’re not a techie, it’s worth a read for how it illuminates one artist’s creative process.

 

 

Deb Chachra (debcha) writes zed equals zee, a Cambridge-based blog about music and technology, and curates the associated Tumblr. You can catch up with her at shows around the city, or you can just follow her on Twitter.
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Watch local: Do It Again

April 19, 2010

Guest blogger Scott writes:

In an earlier post about Kickstarter, I gave the example of how the producers of a documentary about The Kinks were funding its editing through small donations. That movie, Do It Again, premiered in March at the Cleveland International Film Festival to positive reviews, and will be showing in Somerville at the Independent Film Festival Boston on Saturday, April 24th. I haven’t seen it yet, but it looks to be less of a music documentary and more of a Nick Hornby/Studs Terkel mash-up, in that it isn’t so much about The Kinks as it is about how people (creator/star Geoff Edgers in particular, but also the people he enlists in his quest) think, or even obsess, about the band. And while the Hornbyish narrative story of a quest to reunite The Kinks is intimately tied a single band, it can be seen as a lens for thinking about the Terkel-ish question of why people love the bands they love and how that love shapes them. In that sense, it seems like a good pairing for The Heart is a Drum Machine — One asks “What is music?”; the other asks “What does music mean?”.

Previously on z=z: Watch: Music docs at IFF Boston, Apr 23-25

Image: Photo of Ray Davies from the Wikimedia Commons, used here under its Creative Commons license.

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Listen local: art rock vs Americana edition

April 3, 2010

Today in Boston: Two great bands (in two completely different genres). Two CD release parties. Two different venues. At exactly the same time. The horror. What’s worse, members of both bands are friends of mine (and frequent commenters here at z=z).

Do Not Forsake Me Oh My Darling is duo Sophia Cacciola and Michael Epstein (also of The Motion Sick). Their music is loud, minimal (just drums, bass and vox), and angry. Themed off the TV series The Prisoner, their music and lyrics deal with similar themes of alienation and totalitarianism. Despite all that, their songs are inexplicably catchy (occasionally dangerously catchy, as I found myself singing/yelling along to “Gun gun gunning for you!’ as I drove on the interstate). They’re releasing their debut EP, The New Number 2, today with a set at Church.

Do Not Forsake Me Oh My Darling, with Voodoo Screw Machine, Gene Dante and the Future Starlets, Vostok 4 and Corey Tut at Church of Boston

MP3: Do Not Forsake Me Oh My Darling – Episode 1: Arrival [more info/buy]

Kingsley Flood, on the other hand, is a (post-?) Americana  band, blending traditional folk instrumentation (including fiddle and mandolin) with lyrics touching on modern and urban themes – think Wilco or Hey Marseilles. And they put on a fantastic, energetic, compelling live set. They’re celebrating the release of their debut full-length, Dust Windows, with a show tonight at the Middle East Upstairs.

Kingsley Flood, with Cassavetes, Grown-Up Noise and Spouse, at the Middle East Upstairs

MP3: Kingsley Flood – Roll of the Dice [more info/buy]

Both bands go on at 10 pm. Decisions, decisions….

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Vivian Darkbloom’s Wii Guitar

October 30, 2009

Finally, rock star guitar posturing is being put to good use! Rob Morris, frontman of Cambridge, MA’s Vivian Darkbloom, uses a Wii remote to control his guitar effects. The position and acceleration sensors in the controller, fixed to the body of his guitar, lets him access a range of effects by how he holds his instrument (check out the video above to see it in action, or this one for more background).

You can check out the Wii Guitar in person tonight (Friday, October 30th)  in Cambridge—Vivian Darkbloom has a gig at TT the Bear’s. Doors at 8 pm.

And I can’t help but think that Rob Morris should get together with John Mileham of The Franklin Kite.

MP3: Vivian Darkbloom – Cold War

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In heavy rotation at zed equals zee

October 19, 2009

DNFMOMD photo

Some music, mostly local, that’s getting a lot of listens here at zed equals zee headquarters.

Do Not Forsake Me Oh My Darling (pictured): Boston music power-couple Sophia Cacciola and Michael Epstein (also of The Motion Sick) are Do Not Forsake Me Oh My Darling, currently working on a Prisoner-themed EP.  I went to their debut show and was just blown away by Sophia’s vocals, and I’ve been listening to the few songs they’ve released, on repeat. DNFMOMD don’t really lend itself to a ‘recommended if you like,’ since they don’t sound like anyone else, but maybe Kim Deal Gordon*-fronted Sonic Youth?

MP3: Do Not Forsake Me Oh My Darling – Episode 1: Arrival [more]

The Beatings: What post-punk is supposed to sound like. There’s a fantastic (in both senses) review of Boston’s The Beatings new album, Late Season Kids, over at Ryan’s Smashing Life, and more MP3s for you to listen to.

MP3: The Beatings – Bury You [buy]

Eric Schmider: We’re welcoming new Boston arts and music blog Bean Town Vision to the scene and thanking them for the intro to local retro-oriented indie rocker Eric Schmider. You can read a full bio and a preview of the upcoming show (Wednesday, October 21st at Toad) with his current project, Mollycoddle, over at Bean Town Vision, as well as download some more demo MP3s.

MP3: Eric Schmider – Knee Deep [more]

Rah Rah: Regina, SK’s Rah Rah just released their debut full-length, Going Steady, and I’m enjoying it immensely, especially the quirky love song, “Tentacles” (about accepting free tango lessons from a beautiful troll, and a betentacled beloved).

MP3: Rah Rah – Tentacles [buy]

*Edit: Gordon, not Deal. Not like I didn’t just read Goodbye 20th Century. Where is my mind?

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New Mission of Burma single, whoo!

July 13, 2009

MoB SSL

Matador Records just posted a single from the upcoming album by Boston musical heroes Mission of Burma. The Sound the Speed the Light, is scheduled for release on October 6th. If this single, “1, 2, 3, Partyy!!” is any indication, it’ll be a worthy successor to The Obliterati (which came out in 2006). Check it out yourself.

In case you missed it, Mission of Burma blogged the making of this album in March 2009 and you can read the posts at their site.

More info and album preorder.

MoB at z=z.

MP3: Mission of Burma – 1, 2, 3, Partyy!

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Listen local: The Franklin Kite

July 4, 2009

FK Batt Expl

Cambridge, MA’s The Franklin Kite (whose principal, Ryan Hickox, is a charter member of the z=z Overeducated Musicians Club) have finally, finally released a new EP, Explosions and Batteries. To celebrate, they’ll be throwing a release party at the Middle East Upstairs on July 6th (yes, it’s a Monday, but you should be well-rested from the long weekend). Go check out their electronica-tinged indie rock goodness. They’ll be sharing their night with Brooklyn electropop darlings Red Wire Black Wire.

MP3: Franklin Kite – Antoinette [buy]

MP3: Red Wire Black Wire – Compass [buy]

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