Music That Needs to be Heard: Boston Strikes Back

Posted 12/01/2009 11:10AM by Dave Spak as Music That Needs To Be Heard
12/01/2009 11:10AM

Last time we visited the greater Boston area, we told you about some of the best up-and-coming bands such as Passion Pit… I heard they’re not doing too badly. Now we’re getting to the rich, gooey center of this musical hub to bring you diverse list of talented musicians across many genres. Brew a pot of your favorite coffee and get ready to treat your eardrums to a day of fantastic tunes. Impress your friends by telling them about these bands before they take over media headlines. Also make sure to tell us what you think whether you found your new favorite band or you are wondering why the hell one of these artists are on here. Look for the trilogy to be completed soon with one last visit to the area, hopefully lacking Star Wars references…

Matters & Dunaway (Symmetric Records)

RIYL: Boards of Canada, M83, Brian Eno, Air

Sometimes it is hard to define the different genres of electronic music and identify the lines in between each. Sometimes a band comes around where it just doesn’t matter. Matters & Dunaway are one of those bands. There is so much going on in between the ones and zeros that you lose yourself in the music before you can even put a label on it. One listen to “Resolution Now” is sure to make your heart’s BPM shoot upwards. The memorable synth and intelligent songwriting is sure to bring comparisons to bands like New Order and M83 but Matters & Dunaway have the chops to stand out on their own.

The Hush Now (UNSIGNED)

RIYL: Death Cab for Cutie, Swervedriver, Sunny Day Real Estate, The Pains of Being Pure at Heart

The Hush Now possesses a sound that treads the water between sugary pop and spacey shoegaze. Songs like “Pining” and “Traditions” contain a dreamy atmosphere with choruses that you will want to sing along with from the moment you hear them. Bubbly basslines compliment guitars with just the right touch of reverb to allow these tunes to bounce around in your head for awhile. This is the kind of music you can unwind to after a hard day’s work. The band has generously made their self-titled debut available for free online so you have no excuse not to listen!

The Milling Gowns (UNSIGNED)

RIYL: Morrissey, The Cure, The Dears, Cocteau Twins

From the first notes you hear pouring out of singer M., it is obvious that The Milling Gowns know how to write gloomy pop that not only tugs at your heart strings but rips them right out. Introspective lyrics and lush arrangements encompass songs like “The Bird in The Ice” and drag you into their world. It is hard to stay emotionally detached from songs that sound so powerful. Pianist Sharon Crumrine and violinist Betty Widerski add richness to M.’s vocals which compete with the best melancholy musicians. The timeless ambiance of songs such as “Airedales” might be the perfect prescription for those dreary afternoons.

Ho-Ag (Hello Sir Records, Mister Records)

RIYL: Les Savy Fav, Shellac, Double Dagger, Future of the Left

Ho-Ag is a band that has been around for awhile but they have been flying disastrously low under the radar for far too long. At times danceable, others frighteningly jarring, the band manages to cover a large range of dynamics. Songs such as “Up Periscope on the Submarine Unspeakable” surge forward with disjointed rhythms and angular guitars that will rank the group up there with your favorite noise rock bands.

Big Digits (UNSIGNED)

RIYL: Girl Talk, Simian Mobile Disco, Hot Chip, Datarock

Sometimes you have to listen to music that can simply be described as fun. Big Digits succeeds in creating frantic and energetic electropop that is perfect for your next party mix. Songs such as “Making Progress” and the brilliantly titled “Why Did You Reject My Steve Perry FanPic?” will have no problem getting people on the dance floor. On their Facebook page Big Digits is described as “A spazz jazzmatron that spins around on and off stage while rapping, djing, singing, video mixing, shouting, and always having a good time.” It’s hard to come up with a better description than that.

All These Kings (UNSIGNED)

RIYL: Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Franz Ferdinand, Passion Pit, Land of Talk

“Over and Under” has clear radio rock potential. Not the dry and formulated radio rock but more like the bands that manage to break the mold yet still walk the fine line between mainstream and underground. You’d be hard pressed to deny the memorable hooks in any of their carefully crafted songs. Radio could use another solid alternative band. Luckily, it shouldn’t be too long before you hear All These Kings when turning the dial.

Pretty & Nice (Hardly Art)

RIYL: Q And Not U, Les Savy Fav, The Mae Shi, Brainiac

I can’t stress enough how disappointed I am in the lack of bands possessing the classic DC post-hardcore dance-punk sound that bands like Q And Not U had perfected. Finally a band has come along that can fit with the timeless Discord Records crowd and that band is Pretty & Nice. The group signed with Hardly Art, an imprint of Sub Pop Records, earlier this year and has opened for The Get Up Kids. Already making things happen, it won’t be long until they are getting headlining gigs of their own.

Gozu (Small Stone Records)

RIYL: Queens of the Stone Age, Soundgarden, Monster Magnet, Kyuss

If only more rock and roll sounded this good. Gozu have perfected the lost art of making music that simply rocks your face off. One trip through “Rise Up” and you’ll wonder why you even listen to anything else. The band majors in rock with a focus on stoner resulting in a high degree of tunes that will have you fist-pumping and head-banging well into the night.

Riff Cannon (UNSIGNED)

RIYL: Soundgarden, The Sword, Monster Magnet, Torche

With a name like Riff Cannon, it’s no surprise that the band delivers an onslaught of raucous guitar licks. Combining the rock sensibilities of Soundgarden with the infectious metal of The Sword, Riff Cannon are something to behold. With songs as good as, you won’t mind getting your ears blasted off by this powerful weapon.

The Dirty Dishes (UNSIGNED)

RIYL: Silversun Pickups, My Bloody Valentine, Autolux, Smashing Pumpkins

The Dirty Dishes have been popping up everywhere except the kitchen sink. They were featured as the number one pick on Passion Pit’s playlist for up-and-coming Boston bands. “Deer in the Headlights” is also gaining traction on The Hype Machine and for rightful reasons. The spacey transience of the song sets the stage for a dynamic conclusion that your ears won’t soon forget. Why not hear for yourself? Their exceptional debut EP, In the Clouds, is available as a high quality download here. Surely, no one will be complaining if we get more of these Dirty Dishes [corny play on words noted].


Age: 23


Age: 30
Brooklyn, NY

love the last three.  Riff Cannon's album is surprisingly good

Bill Lohr
Age: 31
Lehigh Valley, PA


Yea...that's exactly what I was thinking.

Bill Lohr
Age: 31
Lehigh Valley, PA

Riff Cannon and Gozu are pretty effin rad.

Dave Spak
Boston, MA

No hardcore this time around. The Boston hardcore scene is currently pretty weak besides the bands that are already established who most people on this site are familiar with by now. For the third installment, I'm going to include some heavier stuff.

Age: 26

Shoegaze in the northeast has had a great year, from Caspian to Pains of Being Pure at Heart.  Those first three bands are so cash.

My Top Songs of '09
The Appleseed Cast//as the little things go
Sunwrae//Chinook Winds
Dredg//down to the seller
If These Trees Could Talk//the sun is in the north
From Monument to Masses//an ounce of prevention
Straylight Run//i'm through with the past

LpShinobi's Post-Rock and Shoegazing Recommendation, via YouTube

Lpshinobi's Post-Rock Band, New Song Posted