Wednesday, August 31, 2011

You're Under Arrest!

      You’re Under Arrest rocks. Coming from Boston, and playing hardcore tinged punk rock, you can very well guess that this band plays as if each song is the last thing they’ll ever perform. The fact that they’re a ‘co-ed’ rock band makes the whole thing even cooler.
      I first became aware of them at the Midnight Creeps show at Firehouse 13, back in the 9th of August. Seeing how much dedication they put into their live show prompted me to want to write about them.
      The band is a five piece with a twist. In addition to the old school hardcore lineup of one guitar, bass, drums, and vocals, there is a second vocalist, named Amanda.  Though she isn’t present on every track, the presence of a female vocalist in the mix rounds out the proceedings nicely. Aside from Amanda, the rest of the group is comprised of Jaye, on vocals, John, on bass, Damien, on drums, and Mike, on guitar.
      There seems to be a trend in the underground scene in general. I noticed this to a degree with White Devils, though they’re a completely different musical animal. This is a tendency to mix influences from every aspect of whatever genre the band is working in. In other words, this band utilizes the entire range of possibilities in the ‘punk’ genre, to interesting effect.
      Take a song like ‘Shattering’, for instance. To draw a comparison to another Boston band, this tune smacks of Negative FX, or even Cro-Mags, which is still East Coast, even if it’s coming from New York.
      ‘The Murder Mile’, on the other hand, is more moshy, with tons of palm muting in the riffage. It is also one of the more complex of their songs, even though clocking in at roughly a minute.
      ‘Hard Times’ is straight up hardcore, simple and to the point. It also contains a lot of aggression, and should get people bouncing around at shows.
      ‘The Hard Goodbye’ has an anthemic, sing-along quality to it. I found myself singing the chorus while doing housework. I think most guys will take something personal from the lyrics of this one.
     Of all the songs featuring Amanda, my personal favorite is ‘Sick To Death’. She exudes a lot of personality on every song she’s featured on, but this one is rendered extra aggressive because of her. She lays into the vocals with force.
     In many respects, this bands secret weapon is rhythm. Seeing them live only serves to reinforce that impression. They are really adept at switching tempos on a dime, and, to reiterate, their command of subgenres lends a lot of variety to the songwriting. The sudden hardcore blasts in the middle of songs definitely caught my attention.
      If you think you’ll get anything more than an impression of the band from the recordings, guess again. In this instance, as with other bands, there’s a lack of energy in relation to the live show. While this is generally the case, it is very noticeable here. Also, they have a tendency to use the same guitar tone on every song. I am a fan of timbral variation, and think that a little more variety in tone settings would be a great addition. Then again, this is my personal bias, and taking this advice to heart might damage the personality of the band.
     In summary, if you like punk rock, and you like to lose your mind at shows, then check out You’re Under Arrest. The energy and dedication they put into the music they make is obvious, and they should be supported by everyone who loves aggro rock. Go see them. You won’t be disappointed.

Check ‘em out at:  

Extraordinary Rendition Band

Extraordinary Rendition Band is a marching band from Providence, RI. Comprised of up to 25 members, they play ‘guerilla-style’ marching band music with intent to raising awareness and opening minds. The idea is expressed in their name, which is something of a double entendre. They have been active since 2008.
     Marching bands have a very rich history going back a very long time, growing out of groups of musicians who would gather to play at festivals. As time passed, this type of outfit became confined to the military sector, as the musicians were needed to help direct troop movements. Eventually the powers that be realized that this was an incredibly bad use of resources, and discontinued the practice.
      As of the current moment, marching bands are most strongly identified with football and events like the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade. This automatically sets ERB and other grassroots style marching bands apart. While operating from a point of view that is decidedly left of center, the spirit of the paradigm invoked still relates to the idea of civic function. In this sense, ERB are rooted in tradition, even as they seek to use that tradition in service to the present moment.
     A trip to their main website reveals that they consider themselves to be a ‘grassroots, guerilla-style marching band’. Membership is open to all ages and ability levels. They reserve the right to play for whatever causes they feel inspired to support. The point here isn’t to create something elitist, but egalitarian in its overall purpose. This is about music as a social activity that brings people together and builds a sense of community.
     Given that this is Providence, performances by the Band seem to carry an air of gleeful anarchy. At times, one of the instrumentalists might possibly break into song, the band falling right in line behind whoever is vocalizing. It appears that there is even a bit of choreography to round out the performances; that or some inspired improvisational movement.
      The band possesses a fairly varied songbook. Smooth Criminal, Mercy, Mercy, Mercy, A Las Barricadas, and Matador are among the tunes you might possibly hear at a given performance. “Get up, Stand up” undergoes a fairly unique treatment.
     At this point in time, I’ve only had the opportunity to witness this thing via Youtube. Luckily, the sound quality is passable enough that everything is fairly clear. The sense of ensemble is generally good; the interaction of the percussion is particularly good, and imparts some serious bounce at times.
     The biggest challenges would seem to lie in the realm of metric discipline; a clear understanding of where the downbeats are would seem to be the most fundamental requirement to achieve a strict sense of ensemble. Factor in the lack of a conductor and the need to actually perambulate and you have the makings of a potential musical disaster. Yet, somehow, the desire of the group prevails, and a way is found amongst the seeming chaos. The end result is a band that has disciplined itself through the usual rigor of rehearsal.
     Everyone is invited to join in. Attendance policy is fairly strict, and beginners, while definitely welcome, are advised to be patient in assimilating the material. At the same time, anyone who has any interest that may suit the intentions of the organization is welcome to join; there are possibilities for participation that are not directly music related.
     They can be found online at:

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

White Devils

      White Devils play rock and roll. Sitting here with the jukebox on FaceBook blaring away, a living anachronism is invoked: Rock with an old-school, mid-sixties feel, recorded in a lo-fi way that captures the band somehow, transmitted via the internet, accessed through the mind of Mark Zuckerberg.
     Growing out of the West End, this band is a four-piece who have been active for the last few months. The line-up, as listed on FB, is Stimbot - guitar/vox, Jonas Parmelee - Bass/back vox, Richie Rebounds - Guitar, Matthew Donnelly – Skins.
     This music is permeated with references that strike at the very roots of rock history. The Rolling Stones and The Stooges are two groups that spring to mind. Possibly NY Dolls to a degree. The Velvet Underground gets a mention more in terms of the ‘spirit of the times’; at times they share a passing resemblance to an over-driven version of the band.
     Even in terms of their appearance, the throwback quality is there. In fact, the memory remains of the August 9th show at Firehouse that in their respective mode of dress one could draw parallels to the various influences at work- punk, garage rock, indie, alternative. Normally the intent is to avoid this type of commentary, but the fact was so self-evident as to be striking.  
     In a very real sense, these guys are more proto-punk, harkening back to the roots of punk. This may seem redundant, but in the corner of the musical world they operate in, ‘Punk’ is still the aesthetic that is very much dominant.
     As mentioned already, the production on the FB jukebox is lo-fi by the standards of now. However, it is felt that this type of presentation is much more suited to the bands temperament than something glossy. I really think that a more polished production style would hamper them.
     The songs themselves are a generally memorable set. ‘The World Ain’t Round Baby, it’s square” got me all excited the first time I listened to it. And then I found myself singing the chorus later on at work. Jason knows how to walk the fine line between singing and yelling, and the rawness of his vocal tone adds some urgency to the melody.  Add to that a memorable hook in the chorus and a timeless quality ala “Time is on My Side” and I think this song will be listened to down the line.
     Moving through each song on the FB player moves to a different style of rock. Moving to the second song in the player, All In, we find an uptempo, hook-driven tune with something of a Stooges influence. Comparing this song to the first drives home the ever-present influence that timbre brings to bear on songcraft in electrified guitar music. Trading timbres with the first song would destroy everything.
     ‘Monday Night Girl’ is much more pop, with a catchy vocal hook; ‘No Protection’ is based on twelve bar blues. ‘My Weakness’ is another poppy number, but a style of pop that strikes me as being more in line with something from the soundtrack to Stand By Me.
     If there were any one area where things seem like they could be improved, I would posit the lead guitar work. There were a couple of times during the show where it seemed like Ritchie Rebounds was holding back to a degree, and this had a temporary dampening effect on the energy. The same thing appears on the recordings at a couple of spots. I don’t know what he is feeling shy about; he can play. There were interesting ideas in his solos. They just need to be pushed into the world with a little more confidence.
     All in all, White Devils is a talented group who put on a great show. Straight up, no frills rock and roll that will get you moving. Dig it.
White Devils can be found online at:

Wednesday, August 10, 2011


   Broadcaster makes their home in Providence, aside from the recent arrival of their drummer Rainy, who hails from scenic Worcester, Mass. They have been active on the scene since 2008, and were voted 2011’s Breakthrough Artist of the Year in the Providence Phoenix.
  Creating this review was an interesting experience for me, because I have been able to experience two distinct incarnations of the band. One is the band itself, four members, captured by recording technology and placed online for the enjoyment of all. The other version of the band was the one I saw performing at 121, a three piece, recontextualized in the moment, and presenting the music in a different way.
     In comparing the two, I find an interesting paradox, in that there was something more raw and fundamental about the band live. The layering of two guitar parts was missing, and the space created seemed to spawn and extra element of ferocity. At the same time, the sonority generated on the recordings by the interplay of the two guitars creates an extra dimension of poetry in the musical presentation.
     This band has found a nice balance between songwriting and noise, two things I happen to enjoy. Listen to the squall at the end of Drunkard’s Walk, and the way it contrasts the vocal line and the riff writing.
     Another aspect of their sound that provides a nice sense of variety is the country influence. Their ability to contrast this with a more straight up indie rock type of sound is demonstrated to ample effect on Passerby, the first track of Drunkard’s Walk. Listen closely to this song for a study in stylistic variation.
     Moving to the second track (Choke) demonstrates their versatility, mostly due to the fact that while the personality of the band is squarely intact, the aesthetic evoked is nothing like that found in the first track. Here, as elsewhere, the band demonstrates its understanding of guitar tone as a songwriting tool. Their ability to utilize a couple of types of tone colors at different points in a given song goes a long way towards aiding the development. This also makes itself felt in the relationship between Chris’s vocals and the guitar. They complement one another. In another sense, the guitar tone seems to capture the entire essence of the band in itself.
     The members of the band are currently Rainy - drums. Moe - guitar/backing vocals. Derek - bass/backing vocals. Chris - guitar/vocals. From what I understand, this band is mostly the brainchild of Chris; the impression I got watching him go off onstage was of a man exposing his own personal mode of catharsis. Although angst-ridden, the vibe emitted isn’t nihilistic or hopeless. It is the angst of emotional release. In the end, however, the resulting sounds are the product of focused effort by a group of people, and the personalities of the musicians involved enrich the proceedings in a way inimitable by anyone else. Such is the way of things with good bands.
     The band has three webpages. You can find them on:
Their BandCamp page is especially rich with streaming audio. In addition to the two studio recordings, three live bootlegs can be found. They’re definitely worth checking out.
     These guys are fairly busy as a unit right now, seeming to play a couple of shows a month. Their show dates are all readily available on their webpages. Go see them. They kill it live.