By: Django Gold
It is a well-treaded cliché that specialization and not generalization is the key to success in a given field—jack of all trades, master of none, and all that. For the Diamond Mines, who label themselves a New Wave/Psychedelic/Punk act, it is a maxim they might want to consider. The Diamond Mines is not a bad band by any stretch: their sound is tasteful, and the band’s musicians, a guitar-bass-drums core in addition to a number of guest horn players, are certainly competent, if not outstanding. The problem lies in consistency; there just isn’t much of a common musical theme that emerges when listening to their songs. They frequently switch (not transition) from pop-punk, surf rock, new wave, alt-country, and many other genres, more often than not within the same song. Impressive, but in the end it doesn’t assist the songs themselves in any ways, but rather simply comes off as confusing, even frustrating.
Take “Hostile Planet,” which begins much like a solid Cake number, but goes through too many shifts in mood to remain engaging. Similarly, a number like “Places I Go,” which certainly has its share of nice moments, overlaps itself throughout, and ends up too jumbled to be of much interest. A better track is “Another,” which combines a driving rocker feel with some nicely chosen saxophone parts, achieving a solid balance. The Diamond Mines have potential, but their fragmented songwriting and lack of overt hooks is going to make them a difficult pick up for many listeners.
By: Django Gold
In the mid-70s, punk rock dawned in the West, featuring a brand-new sound, stripped of the tonal extravagances of blues-based rock, and compounded with a sonic energy that exhilarated listeners. In the early 21st century, indie rock attained a new commercial viability, with legions of bands trying to prove to one another that they cared the least about what they were doing. Combining these two styles, we have Daniel Striped Tiger, a band with the volume of punk and the disassociated attitude of the most insufferable of shoegazers.
With a sound vaguely reminiscent of a new guitarist plugging into a distortion pedal for the first time, DST is a sonic assault of epic banality. The band’s guitar-bass-drums combo emits all the noise you would expect, effortlessly drowning out strained, illegible vocals whose source doesn’t seem overly concerned about being heard in the first place. Take “Untying Knots,” which drifts between a thundering punk assault and an aimless melodicism without convincing the listener of either. Or “Was It?” which does the same thing, without the distraction of the aimless melodicism. DST gets the governor’s reprieve from the lowest possible rating thanks to the cool bass-guitar-saxophone riff that propels “Pedestrian” until its illogical climax, but you may want to keep this tiger in its cage and dust off some of your other 7” records if you need a punk rock fix.
By: Django Gold
Assuming that the machine apocalypse is indeed nigh, and that our loyal robot servants will imminently rise up against their human masters, there won’t be a better band to soundtrack the whole ordeal than Jamaica Plain noise rockers Neptune. With its origins as a sculpture project, Neptune has evolved (or, more aptly, upgraded) over the past fifteen years into a scrap-metal beast that is simply unmatched in producing some of the most twisted sounds of any band around. The best way to describe the music of Neptune is to describe the instruments through which it is synthesized: guitars clapped together from scrap metal and old VCR casings; electronic devices gutted and conjoined to nurture bizarre drones; pots and pans and even an occasional real-life drum to hold down what is a surprisingly solid rhythmic sense.
Neptune is a unique band: forceful, frightening, without humor, and essentially emotionless. While much of their music is consumed in revolving feedback scrawls and collapsing percussion grooves, they can also rock just fine—see “Tell My People to Go Home (Part I)” or “Paris Green.” While Neptune won’t easily become your favorite band, their inimitable rawness and fascinating live performances put them several cuts above the drum machines and pre-hearsed keyboard patterns of so-called “industrial music.” See them at your own peril.
By: Django Gold
Cruising along with hooks a’plenty and a big, driving sound, The Luxury have all the makings of the Brit superstars to whom their style is so indebted. This is a well-balanced band: from the perfect weight of the crunchy guitars, to the understated yet powerful vocal harmonies, to the unobtrusive ambient elements, things get handled. Who would have thought you could have made something happen with talented musicians and near-impeccable songwriting?
A great, great song is “Next in Line,” from their latest release, In The Wake Of What Won't Change, which has the kind of driving power chords and echo-y vocals that stick with you. Similarly, their debut record’s “Rockets and Wrecking Balls” moves convincingly from understated solo piano to a sweeping soundscape punctuated by an entirely appropriate arena-rock guitar solo. And “Seven Stories” has a busy pulse coupled with ambient layers that would make Andy Summers proud—quite hip.
Though not all of Luxury’s tunes hit the ball out of the park—the rollicking circus jaunt of “Straitjacket” and the fumbly “Malcontent,” in particular—those songs that do are just too strong to be ignored. Despite the numerous comparisons that could be drawn to Union Jack acts such as Coldplay, Radiohead, Oasis, and, uh, the Shadows, The Luxury are solid enough of a band that they establish their identity from the get-go and don’t appear to be turning back on that anytime soon. As they’ve won a fair amount of local prestige and critical attention for their work, it’s not so far-fetched to picture these guys popping up on a national level one of these days; catch ‘em live while tickets are still cheap.
By: Liv Hauck
Magic Magic’s “Squid Hunt” belongs on everyone’s summer mix this warm season. The insouciant, plucked guitar and mellow vocals evoke memories of sun spotted summer days and casual love affairs. Although “Squid Hunt” certainly has a laid back feel, it is clear the band possesses serious talent. Lead singer John Francis Murphy moves with languid expertise through the dreamy melodies.
Another song worth checking out on this band's myspace is "All I Know". The song opens with repetitive minor seventh intervals on the guitar, creating an unsettling atmosphere. Harmonic release finally comes with the introduction of different textures of guitar, which clarify the tonal center. The entrance of the buzzing bass fed through an overdrive pedal anchors the sound and adds unexpected grit to the lighthearted beginning. Once again, the catchy melody is the perfect vehicle for John's marvelously spirited vocals.