New Tunes Tuesday - The Ataris

Actually, this isn't new at all, and that's why we're showing it to you. 'Cause let's be honest, the new music from The Ataris sucks. And that's why this video of Kris Roe playing the old favorite "In this Diary" is so great.

You can't see much in the video, but the sound is great. Enjoy!


From Thursday, March 18 to Sunday, March 21, I was in Austin, Texas for the South by Southwest Music Festival.

I’m writing this now from the Austin airport, hoping to retain everything I learned from my experiences this weekend, and most importantly, to not lose the hope and inspiration I gained from the hundreds of artists, fans, and music industry professionals I met while here.

Austin, Texas is an amazing, diverse city. I had never been here before and I found myself enamored with the city’s unique life and culture that it so vehemently exudes. I fell in love with certain streets, certain venues, certain foods…I so often felt completely overwhelmed with emotion for music and the people around me, simply because we were all experiencing the same thing together. This, I believe, is what music is truly about.

The South by Southwest Music Festival showcases hundreds of bands in 89 “official” venues throughout Austin’s downtown area (there are unofficial venues and shows as well). The festival is one of the biggest of its kind, drawing thousands of people to the southern city from all over the world.

SXSW from Jennifer Brown on Vimeo.

I came to cover the festival as a music journalist, hoping to experience something unique. The last few days have exceeded any expectations I had prior to coming.

Thursday afternoon I arrived in Austin and was picked up by my brother’s friend. We dropped my stuff off at his house on West 49th Street and took a taxi south, toward the center of downtown. I picked up my press badge from the convention center where I met a guy from the Canadian North by Northeast festival. Together, we went to the Paradise restaurant on 6th street and had some free food at a Montreal music showcase. I then went to Emo’s on Red River Street for the So Many Dynamos show with my friend from MIT who was also in Austin for the festival. So Many Dynamos’ performance was energized and awesome…the guys always perform so well live, and it was really nice to see them again (I had seen them a couple times in Boston).

I then trekked over to the Palm Door, owned by the folks at Austin's Beauty Bar, for The Rolling Stone Showcase, featuring Low Anthem. Low Anthem’s set was engaging and a lot more subdued—a pleasantry after being surrounded by the hundreds of intoxicated music lovers on the street. The Low Anthem guys were gracious and I spoke with them a little after the show about their experience at SX.

Afterwards, I was hoping to catch Wye Oak, but got sidetracked talking to some booking agents, and instead headed to the Sub Pop showcase at the Galaxy on the 6th Street. I saw The Dutchess and the Duke, and then Dum Dum Girls, before running off to Club De Ville for Man...or Astroman? (if you like indie music, and you don’t know these guys, you should look them up). Man or Astroman? became big in the '90s and then broke up in 2002. They had just gotten back together a couple weeks before the festival…in short, the band’s uninhibited and spontaneous on-stage performance was a mix of outer-space hysteria and surf-guitar, fast-paced dance music. It was great.

I then went back to Emo’s to meet my friend and watch the Maps and Atlases set. I’d never seen Barsuk's M&A live and the band was solid. The lead vocals added to their catchy guitar riffing; the 18+ crowd (some kids has X’s on their hands) were so into the performance, and they really brought a fun mood to the set.

My friend and I then spent the rest of the night eating pizza and searching for an available cab—something of an impossibility at SX. While searching, I ran into music industry people I hadn’t seen for a long time, from different parts of the United States. Such a thing can only happen at festivals like SX. I eventually found a cab and paid the driver close to $20 to cart me back north.

The following nights were just as hectic and wonderful as the first. I saw a variety of musicians every night including, Man Man, Frightened Rabbit, Dr. Dog, Andrew W.K., No Age, French Miami, The Watson Twins, Billy Bragg, Memory Tapes, Jeremy Messersmith, and Daedelus. My favorite show went to either Dr. Dog or Daedelus and my least favorite show went to the band Yacht.

The following page includes some highlights from festival.

Words, videos, and photos by Jennifer Brown.

New Tunes Tuesday - Brighten

Today is March 23rd which means two things: April Fool's is but a week away and Brighten's new EP Be Human is available for purchase.

Be Human is true to Brighten's style with a creative exploration into new ways to express new experiences. The whole of the collection of songs comes across as a person's struggle to get over the loss of a romantic relationship. But without falling into whining and wailing, as easily happens, Brighten maintains some dignity with hooks that allow the listener to catch on, sing along, and experience the story that is being told as much as one can through a pair of headphones.

"Where We Belong" opens the EP with a catchy, optomistic guitar riff that kicks in with singer Justin Richards singing, "Oh, thank heaven, she's so beautiful." He vows to never lose her, foreshadowing the poor transgression of the EP that will lead up to the final track, "I Lost Her."

"Without You" again offers some insight into the possibility of not always having a beautiful woman around. Immediately, this is the most memorable track on the EP, which was put up on the band's myspace several weeks before the release of Be Human. Of all the tracks, "Without You" points back to the beginning of Brighten in King vs. Queen but with the maturity that they achieved in Early Love.

Be Human takes a bit of a turn on the third track, "While The Fire Was Out," giving the EP a bit of a home-on-the-country-side feel that will carry through the next couple songs. The mood is beginning to change, forcing the listener to begin to question what the true story behind the songs is and what The Fire is meant so symbolize. The song goes from simple old-south reflection to solid gold with a female guest vocal (I don't know who she is, someone should fill us in!).

When "That Girl" kicks in, Brighten returns to the indie-pop hook-masters that got them as many fans as they've acquired through enduring years of rough touring schedules and trouble with tricky record executives. This song will make Carbon Copy Media wish they hadn't screwed up their relationship with them.

The EP wraps up with the title track and the final conclusion of this short story told via mp3's, "I Lost Her." "Be Human," though connected to the whole of the EP by its title, is not the best song of the six. Brighten get points for ingenuity and creativity, but it doesn't sit well with a casual listen. "I Lost Her," however, is a beautiful, haunting song that finally places the listener in a relationship with the outcome of the story that has been told between the lines of the EP. Richards croons a melody that softly creeps under your skin as the song begins, which then becomes the anchor for the song to launch its climax. Richards may have lost her, but he resolves to get her back, as he sings, "I will work to be a man, as you will see."

As a whole, this is a great EP. Brighten have recently taken a hiatus as Jimmy Richards is doing missionary work in Africa and Justin tours with A Rocket to the Moon; hence, they have said that the release of this six-song EP is "just for fun." If this is what they do when they're just having fun, then we are sure to be blown away by an all-out, no holds barred full length. But you don't have to take my word for it. Go buy Be Human on iTunes for a meager $5.94 here.

Against Me! - White Crosses (Early Review)

So Against Me!'s forthcoming fifth full-length release leaked a few days ago.

After a few listens, it becomes clear that this record has spent a lot of time in post-production. Never mind the fact that the band wrapped recording in October and the album still isn't officially out yet. The music is full and incorporates instruments, such as piano and a layered mix of acoustic and electric guitars, absent on previous Against Me! releases.

White Crosses is an album that stays true to the band's punk roots while pushing the group into experimenting with more of a straight ahead rock'n'roll feel. The songs are excellent. But they come from a band that has been decried as sellouts by the wannabe anarchists who initially gave the group a fanbase. It's a shame, too, because this is some of singer/guitarist Tom Gabel's best songwriting. Nevertheless, this is easily the best release of the year so far and it isn't even scheduled to come out until June. For those of you who just can't wait any longer, it is not all that difficult to find on various file-sharing and torrent sites. Also, Tom Gabel graciously gave everyone his blessing by acknowledging the leak and offering the lyrics to the songs on his blog.

And now, a brief yet triumphant review of the songs themselves:
  1. White Crosses - A song that addresses the debate surrounding abortion. The white crosses the song references are supposed to represent all of the fetuses that are aborted daily in the U.S. Gabel passionately sings that he wants to smash them all. Guess which side he's on?
  2. I Was A Teenage Anarchist - Scheduled to be the first single, this song is very catchy and deals with Gabel's earlier anarchism and subsequent dissociation from that type of politics.
  3. Because Of The Shame - Against Me! put on their Bruce Springsteen costumes, play a little piano and also sneak in a little bit of Green Day influence (although they might not like to admit it). This is a killer track that deals with the loss of a close friend.
  4. Suffocation - This one opens with an 80s style guitar intro before moving into a more standard Against Me! guitar line. Overall, one of the weaker tracks, but even at their worst, this band is still better than most.
  5. We're Breaking Up - Buoyed by tasteful piano arpeggios and a muted guitar riff during the verse, this song explodes into a triumphant chorus. An excellent ode to the end of a relationship, perhaps addressing the band's near break-up in the time between their last record and this one. A time during which long-time drummer Warren Oakes left and was replaced by former Hot Water Music drummer George Rebelo.
  6. High Pressure Low - The intro to this song could be right out of a John Hughes movie. Another catchy track that showcases how well this band constructs bouncy, melodic punk songs with hook-laden choruses.
  7. Ache With Me - If the last song showcases the band's ability to make punk catchy, this one proves that they can also write slower, more contemplative songs that win you over on the strength of the lyrics and their delivery over an acoustic rhythm and simple drum beat. Spoiler alert: this one's a bit of a downer. The moshers might not know what to do when this song is played live...
  8. Spanish Moss - The intro is a definite nod to The Who, followed by some beefy power chords and excellent drumming from Rebelo. This is an idealized song about getting away from it all without owing anyone an apology.
  9. Rapid Decompression - An incredible burst of sheer energy. This song is one minute and forty-three seconds of punk injected directly into the bloodstream. The best punk song on the album.
  10. Bamboo Bones - Against Me! knows how to end an album. Write a song with lyrics about God, throw in some passionate guitars, bass, and drums, then give it 135%. And that's exactly what they do.
Disclaimer: Remember that this review is based upon a leak of what we believe to be the full album, not necessarily the actual album that will be released. It is quite possible that the record will contain more songs, different songs, or have a different track listing.

Jenny Owen Youngs @ Great Scott

Maturity might not have been on display on Jenny Owen Youngs’ Spring Break Forever Tour, which stopped in Allston at the Great Scott last Wednesday, but for the 28-year-old singer/songwriter who has progressed from covering pop songs to recording her second full-length album, maturity is embodied in her composure, her skillfully crafted songs, and her years of experience on the road.

“I’ve been doing a lot of designated driving on this tour,” Youngs said about the Spring Break Forever Tour before jumping on stage last Wednesday. Sharing the stage and time in the car were close friends Allison Weiss and Bess Rogers, who each played their own sets and then joined Youngs at the end of her headlining performance. With the three girls cracking jokes about body shots, hook-ups, and ideas for tattoos influenced by excessive alcohol, it was clear that they were “totally having a blast,” as Youngs said.

While the mood was light and the jokes were fresh, Youngs and her friends and bandmates took the opportunity to demonstrate their careful songwriting and experienced performing, featuring songs from her most recent full-length, Transmitter Failure. “It’s all about how the ‘I’ of the song interacts, communicates, and relates with another party,” Youngs said about her sophomore album. “I feel like as I mature my relationships become something I approach more and more from trying to understand everyone’s perspective and not just mine. It’s part of growing up,” she said.

Youngs has mastered the ability to account for the other person and it shows in the way she connected with the audience at the Great Scott.

“I strive to make songs that can mean something to me but can also mean something to other people,” she said.

She allowed herself to be accessible to the crowd by telling personal vignettes and letting everyone laugh along while Weiss and Rogers came on-stage to finish up the show with the catchy and hilarious theme song for the Spring Break Forever Tour.

Youngs has played the Boston area at least a dozen times and has toured the Northeast with Regina Spektor who she met at SUNY Purchase while getting her degree in Music Composition. Her music has been featured on Showtimes’ Weeds, and, among many other places. She will play at Austin, Texas’ South By Southwest music festival this week.

Her full interview will air on the Fleshy Fresh on Thursday, April 1 at 6 p.m. EST on

Spring Break Forever...

In case you're wondering what I'm doing tonight....

Great Scott, Doors at 9 p.m.

New Tunes Tuesday - Lonesome Mississippi Drifters

For this week's New Tunes Tuesday we bring you the Lonesome Mississippi Drifters. Go check out their version of "My Humps" that they played live on our show last week by clicking here.

Lonesome Mississippi Drifters Guide the Way to Spring Break

The Lonesome Mississippi Drifters will be on the show tonight for live in-studio performance. You know them from their infectious cover of "Get Low" and their amazing performances at the WTBU Awards (scroll down for videos).

Also, tonight we are featuring new music from Kevin Devine, Jarrod Gorbel, and Ok Go.

Here's your concert update as we go into spring break. See you on the other side.

Thursday 03/04/
BU QUAD Magazine Haus Party
Featuring DJs
Christopher from C&G
John Kavouris

Friday 03/05/10
Cage the Elephant
w. As Tall as Lions
@ Paradise Rock Club

Saturday 03/06/10
w. Silversun Pickups
@ TD Banknorth

Copeland (farewell tour)
w. Ace Enders
Deas Veil
I can Make a Mess Like Nobody’s Business
Person L
@ Middle East Downstairs

Tuesday 03/09/10
@ Paradise Rock

Wednesday 03/10/10
Jenny Owen Youngs
@ Great Scott

Thursday 03/11/10
@ Harpers Ferry

Friday 03/12/10
Dropkick Murphy’s
@ House of Blues
(first concert in a series up to St. Patrick’s day).

Bowling for Soup
@ Middle East Downstairs

New Tunes Tuesday - Kevin Devine

This week we bring you new music from Kevin Devine, an incredibly talented wordsmith out of Brooklyn, NY. Check out a video of his live performance of his new song "You Wouldn't Have to Ask" courtesy of