Delta Generators - "Devil in the Rhythm"
By Sam Houghton
In 2008, soon after the band formed, The Delta Generators were labeled the Best Blues Band of Boston by the Boston Blues Society, and, as a congratulations, they were shipped off to the International Blues Challenge in Memphis, Tennessee, where they ranked third, upstaged by some young, guitar virtuoso/child prodigy. To know that they are still floundering in small clubs in small outlining villages of Massachusetts, outside of Boston, in towns like Middleborough and Worcester that no one should know about unless they happened to get lost in while driving through backcountry roads or fall across on the way up to Cape Cod, is to know that the blues are, well, what they almost always have been: much less important to the average person than pretty much anything else. Which is sad, in way, but also quite awesome, knowing that on a rainy night, you can grab a flask of Jack, wander into a bar, waddle right to front of the stage, and get bamboozled by guitar geeks in Middleborough Mass, or sift through the remains of your dripping face up on the South Side of Chicago, or get your soul reborn while stumbling through the wrong door at the right time in the thick of the Delta, off the Mississippi – it’s a refreshing American tradition and the Delta Generators are a proud embodiment of the vitality of blues.
The Delta Generators are more of the bamboozling geek types: fragile yet ripping guitars performed with a calculated, almost academic style with a tickling precision; vein popping, white boy vocals; a swaying and booming bass, and nifty drums. Mr. Charlie O’Neil’s guitar, what really puts the band on the map, is reminiscent of a cleaned up Delta slide by the likes of Elmore James that Brian Jones of the Early Stones and Jimmy Page capitalized on. While they are a straight up, traditional blues band, their first album, Devil in the Rhythm (Independent – 2008), is actually pretty fucking good, even if you don’t love the blues. It’s catchy enough for the layman and won enough “Best Blues Albums” titles for the timid. Here is the title track, the single so to speak. If you wish to dive a little further, check out “Write a Letter.” The guitar is truly wonderful on that one. They have a new album out, Hard Row, that must have just been released. So, if you happen upon Worcester or Middleborough one night, and don’t mind a little love from the cougars, definitely check these guys out.
Photo and article by: Liv Hauck
Falling in love with this band even before hearing the music is easy; with a moniker identical to the 1970s designer of discotheque wear, anything that combines music and high fashion is enticing. But now to the important stuff… what they sound like. Brothers Dando and Carlos combine to perfection endearingly old school rock n’ roll harmonies and chord progressions, circa 1955, with frantically killer beats, and sexy warm vocals on songs like “Gurl Grope” and “Terry Jive”. The song “SINE” best displays Halston’s versatility and originality, and has been on repeat on my iTunes since first hearing it. The boys prove they’re wise beyond their musical years. The intro teases the listener into thinking the song is an electronica dancey track. As soon as the duo has gotten you out of your seat and grinding with your neighbor like you’re at the swankiest dance club in Paris, Dando reveals his blues vocals and Carlos brings in the jazzy guitar and instrumentation, not unlike the music of Grease. However, Halston keeps it modern with the raspy vocals, layers of raw electric guitar, and a bass line oozing with cool.
The fact that this band has not rocketed to stardom is shocking. Halston songs creep into their listeners' psyches and play on repeat in their heads, providing an aurally delicious soundtrack to the lives of whomever hears Halston. Keep an eye out for their new release “From Here to Here”. It’s fan-fucking-tastic.
By: Django Gold
The atmospheric, restrained sensibilities of Mean Creek demonstrate a band willing to sacrifice bombast for the sake of mood, mostly to their benefit. The group, largely acoustic in nature, but with a sprinkling of processed guitars and even, at times, synthesizers, has a very appealing fragility to it. The songs are delicate, quivering almost, as if a chance breeze would be enough to send the whole enterprise out an open window.
This sense of delicacy is largely due to the lilting vocal performance of singer/guitarists Chris Keene and Aurore Ounjian, both of whom tend towards the “whisper” end of the spectrum. Together, the two deliver soft-spoken harmonies that, along with the steady bass drum of percussionist Mikey Holland, provide the core of Mean Creek’s sound.
The band’s songwriting skills are evident, and perhaps best presented, in “Ohio,” which consists of a hymnal organ drone that swoops into a powerful one-word chorus (try to guess which). Also a great listen is “It’s Good To Be Back Again,” a toe-tapping rustic stomp that combines a hooky vocal line with echo-y guitars to prime effect. If Mean Creek has a shortcoming, it’s that they rarely have the verve to break out from their ambient nature into something more explosive. The few tracks that experiment with something a bit ballsier, like “Face of the Earth,” retreat before really tearing the roof off the sucker. Some more aggression wouldn’t hurt. But Mean Creek is an accomplished architect of ambience and texture, and, for those who like their alt-country mellow, give them a listen.
By Django Gold
Lying somewhere between punk, hard rock, and even at times metal, Dead Cats Dead Rats are a musical force to be reckoned with. They have all the trappings of your prototypical punk act—raucous vocals, crunchy guitars, growling bass, reckless drumming—but they distinguish themselves from the pack simply by doing what they do very well. Their sound harkens back to days of moshpits, bottom-shelf vodka, and getting a ride to band practice from your Mom. Their tracks are largely straight-ahead punk rockers like “Yellow Fever,” which manages to get the job done just under the two-minute mark. Similarly with the whining guitar and Nirvana-tinged vocals of “Donkey Lips.”
That is not to say that DCDR is averse to stretching out a bit; take “Concrete Pillow,” which utilizes to perfection a guitar-vox unison line as well as—out of nowhere—an honest-to-God coda. Not the kind of stuff you usually see among the Fender Squier set. Or “Helevator,” whose rumbling bass opening could have come straight out of a Primus jam session. Granted, like most punk acts committed to the cause, DCDR doesn’t have all the diversity of sound you might like to hear, if only for a palate cleanser; please apply elsewhere for your catchy hooks and acoustic balladry. But Dead Cats Dead Rats clearly has a firm handle on the punk-rock trio sound, and from the looks of it, they’re not going to give it up without a fight.
Dead Cats Dead Rats perform at the Middle East Upstairs on Friday, September 25th with Big Bear, You Need New Glasses, and Tinsel Teeth.
By: Django Gold
The members of indie rock trio Polski Fiat are an energetic bunch, to be sure, and it’s this active attitude that leaves a lasting impression long after the final cymbal crash. Having been playing together for over a decade, Polski Fiat is a tightly knit group of ace musicians and songwriters, and the hard work they’ve put into their art over the years certainly shows. The band’s membership (depicted only in acronyms on their website; full names have been assumed) includes guitarist/bassist Marlon Silo Ozarks and bassist/guitarist Jerry Gropegloves Ozarks, brothers hailing from Bridgewater, MA. Rounding out the group is furious drummer Edwin Longhorn Khrushchev, who lends a bit of classic punk-rock speed to the overall sound.
Polski Fiat dubs itself a “Science Rock” band, but such a label shouldn’t be taken too seriously. Other than a few electronic bleeps on some of their studio tracks, the band is a classic guitar-bass-drums outfit, with some great, great songs. “Return to Flight,” for example, balances between an energetic ska beat and rapid-fire vocals, smoothly transitioning to a hard rock chorus that positively soars. “Avatar” combines these same speedy vocal stylings with clever lyrics and hooks aplenty. Throughout the band’s catalog, “change” seems to be the operative word, as most songs speed through a variety of different moods and colors, none of which feels gratuitous. In this respect, and especially considering their snarky sense of humor, they are very much like Ween, and with much of the same songwriting prowess. Be sure to catch them in action.