Saturday, February 27, 2010

Episode Three: Return of Rock in Maine

Hello, all!

I know that this is a long over-do post, so here we go!

March is shaping up to be a power house month for the Maine local music scene. We have the hotly anticipated sophomore release from Holy Boys Danger Club entitled The Boo Box coming out on March 2nd, with a CD release show on March 13th at Empire Dine and Dance in Portland. From what I've heard of the album it signals the coming of indie rock returning to the limelight in Portland. Holy Boys Danger Club was also named one of the top 10 artists to watch in 2010 by the Portland Press Herald, and rightfully so.

We also have Marion Grace dropping their debut album, Lying Down Looking Up. Marion Grace has been kicking around the Portland scene in various forms for a few years now, but I do not believe they have officially released anything previously (correct me if I am wrong please!). I can see the influence of older Bright Eyes on this album, with the warbling albeit smartt vocal stylings of Ralph Graceffa, mixed with a 70's folk/rock sound. Check out their CD Release show at Port City Music Hall on March 20th.

Local alternative rock titans Loki will be releasing their new album Ebb and Flow on April 20th, and have a pretty busy spring line up. Be sure to go check them out if you are fans of Alice in Chains and Tool. Next time you can catch these guys is April 3rd at the Bridge Street Tavern in Augusta.

Some other big news from around town is that Dominic and The Lucid have officially changed their name to The Lucid. These guys will also be released a new album this summer entitled "Garlands for The Conquer". I am expecting this to be another dynamite release, following up the magnificent Seasons of The Sun. Go check out set at Empire Dine and Dance in Portland on March 19th.

Now here comes the meat and potatoes of this blog post:

Sly-Chi are living legends of the Portland music scene, having been in existence for 11 years now. These guys have been serving up original funk to the masses of New England, expanding their reach farther than Motor Booty Affair has in recent years. Their 2004 release Wave Sound, is one of the definitive titles I believe everyone should have in their Portland music collection. Now, Sly-Chi offered up a brand new EP at the end of last year, entitled Seven in the Shadows, and let me tell you that it does not disappoint.

This five song offering hits the ground running with the opening track Move This Way, which through me off at first, with the more pop-centric feel to the tune, almost with a Chicago mixed with Stevie Wonder "Sir Duke" feel. However, it keeps up the danceable pace and immediately is an attention grabber. The album then heads into more of the soul-funk feel that Sly-Chi is known for with the second track . While the song structure is quite traditional, the group spices it up through the magnificent horn hits. Seriously folks, these are probably some of the greatest horn parts out there today in modern music. Crisp, tight hits accenuate the musical breaks and vocals to perfection. The groove provided by drummer David Henault drives the band and drives the listeners to be cautious about the subconscious dancing they will be doing while listening to this record. It is hard for me to pick a favorite track off this well-crafted album, but if I had to choose it would be the latin-funk closing track Con Corazon. It plays out like a homage to Dizzy Gillespie's Afro-Cuban hit Manteca and a Weather Report tune. In conclusion Sly-Chi has cemented themselves as heavy-hitters in the Portland music scene, and this record just goes to show that they aren't going anywhere. You can buy Seven in the Shadows on iTunes at this link here or at your local Bull Moose Music store.

And finally, I had the privilege of interviewing Dean Ford of The Goodnight Process for this blog. Dean has been active in the music scene for some time now, starting at the tender age of 14. I have had the privilege of knowing him for many years, and wanted to pick his brain about being one of the younger musicians in the music scene here in Portland and how it's shaped his musical stylings. So without further ado, here is an indepth interview with Dean Ford:

Portland Salt: So yes, let's interview!

Yes, let's.

Portland Salt:
So, I know you've been at music for a while and been in bands for quite a some time now. I mean hell, Luke and I booked you at the Grange as a solo artist way back in the day. When did you start to see things pick up and get more recognition around the Maine scene?
and by the way, one of my favorite memories from that time period was when you and Chris Moulton ended up covering Mojo Pin at the grange

Dean: I think things started to pick up when I turned 18 and wasn't looked at as a kid anymore
i think that was something that held me back a lot, because i started playing out when i was 14, and people don't really want to book or go out to see someone that young; but that's something that helped me out as well, starting out so young. because now I'm friends with a lot of the people i looked up to back then, and they're helping me out quite a bit. yeah, it was actually Grace we played, that was fun.

Portland Salt: Was it? man my memory is a little hazy.

Dean: I'm shocked you remembered it at all. I had forgotten until just now.

Portland Salt: It was mostly because I remember the look on your face when Moulton just jumped up on stage and was like, "hey lets play a tune". You looked shocked and confused! I know I was! haha

Dean: Totally, but stuff like that is usually a lot of fun. I love things when they're sporadic.

Portland Salt: So, The Goodnight Process has been kinda going through a transitional phase, with Dan Capaldi and Marcel Hamel currently working on different projects now. How did they help shape the sound of the band, and was it hard when they parted?

Dean: Well, since the band started, I've always been the primary songwriter, so the songs always had that sorta "Dean Ford" sound as some people have said, haha. You know, that kinda upbeat, bouncy pop feel. But Dan and Marcel definitely added a lot to that. Dan used a lot of effects, and is a big fan of more indie and theatrical kinds of music, so that's where the most "experimental" and spacey sounds came from. Marcel went to Berklee, and is a big jazz and classic rock fan, so the parts he played would usually take from those influences. So Dan and Marcel had a big role in the jazz and indie side of Goodnight Process. It was definitely hard when we parted ways, but it's something that needed to be done. We had been playing together for about 2 years, and had grown to be great friends but in the end, we kinda weren't on the same page anymore, and it was pretty clear that we had to split if we all wanted to be productive and happy.

Portland Salt: Now, I know you are a really big fan of Sondre Lerche, and that really resonates throughout The Way Things Are, your last release, tell me a little more about your new material
would you describe it to your fans as different? I personally hear a lot Billy Joel and 70's pop in the new songs.

Dean: Totally. Well, nothing on the new EP sounds remotely like Sondre Lerche to me anyway. That was kinda Dan's doing, he got us all into Sondre, to the point when that was one of my biggest influences. But it's a lot different now. a lot more rock & roll and power-pop. I love all the old, classic stuff. but i'd say that some of the biggest influences are the Beatles, ELO, Queen, Badfinger, Squeeze, The Knack, Beach Boys, Billy Joel, and so many others...but there's a lot of new stuff too, but it sounds just like the old stuff! haha

Portland Salt: The Kooks and what not?

Dean: Definitely the Kooks and other bands like Rooney, Jellyfish, Phantom Planet, Jet, Silverchair, Everybody Else, The Grays, Hanson, Fountains Of Wayne, Tinted Windows, Maroon 5, etc, etc.

Portland Salt: So the addition of Kurt Baker seemed pretty much a natural fit for the direction you wanted to head musically then. Tell me how you guys got together.

Dean: yeah, totally, I met Kurt a couple years back when he played a show at my house, but we never really kept in touch until last year when he called me about playing at The Leftovers' CD release show then after that, we needed a fill in to play a show, so I called him up. We played the show and it felt really great. So when Marcel gave me the news that he was leaving, Kurt was the first person I called. He jumped on board, and we've been having a lot of fun since.

Portland Salt: So tell me a little more about the new album. Any over arching themes in the songs?

Dean: It's really just fun pop tunes that rock. Of course there's girl songs on there but I don't think it really gets too redundant, there's happy ones, a sad one, some sarcastic, and a mildly "raunchy" tune.

Portland Salt: When can we expect new album out?

Well, initially it was just 3 tracks, hence the title "Can't You Count To Three?", and we had planned to put it out this month, but with the huge amount of free time we've had, due to the lack of a band, we wrote a few new tunes prompting us to change the title to "Another Beautiful Girl" and adding 3 news songs to the track listing. But to answer your question, hopefully early June.

Portland Salt: And you guys are looking to tour around that time in support of the album?

Dean: Absolutely, we're booking a tour for late May and early June right now. I'd love to have the EP out in time for that, but we'll see how it goes. If it isn't, we'll just hit the road again real soon. I can't wait to put it out, i'm really proud of what we're playing right now. i'm having a blast.

Portland Salt: That's all that matters then! Well Dean, I think that's everything. Just wanted to thank you for your time today.

Dean: Totally man, thanks for doing this!

So there we have it folks, That concludes this posting! Also, if you would like previews of what the next posting will be, follow me on Twitter just click on my name: Jaeger Wells

Here are links to all the artists mentioned in the post!

- Holy Boy Dangers Club:
- Marion Grace:
- Loki:
- The Lucid:
- Sly-Chi:
- The Goodnight Process:

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The Sign of Things to Come

Hello my fair and few readers,

January has come and gone. While it has been very cold and desolate like every winter in Maine, there are many bright spots on the horizons. This year we have already seen Roy Davis release his hotly anticipated album, We Are A Lightening Bolt, the debut of a new line up change for Dean Ford's The Good Night Process, and many more wonderful shows.

However, I think that we still haven't seen the best things come out of the woodwork yet. After many weeks of extensive research, and sifting through recordings and contacts, I have my list of artists/bands that are going to have a HUGE 2010 in the Portland music scene. In short, these are people that I have been very lucky to become acquainted with, and definitely think that you need to catch onto the big wave of talent about to sweep the city off its feet. Be sure to check out the links I have within the paragraphs and spread the love and the music!

First off, The Stereo Flys, while not located in Portland currently, (Boston by way of Portland), Jeff Beam and Sam Peisner are no strangers to the scene here in Maine. Jeff has been honing his front man chops since early high school with the band Specter while Sam respectively laid down the backbone groove for The Sauce (formerly known as the Slurpees). They both joined forces during a short-lived run as "Jeff Beam & The Sauce" back in 2007. When Jeff found his way down in Boston for college, Sam and him reunited to create a more layered psychedelic rock movement of Beam's newest jams. They found drummer Zander Kaigle, who helps weave the music together into something reminiscent of Elliot Smith mixed with Cream. These guys already have a very solid following in Boston and have been playing up in Portland regularly all over the place. This spring will mark the release of their debut album which is tenatively titled "Hello Greetings From a Bunker!", showcasing re-workings of tracks of Beam's first three solo albums. They are also in the process of editing together footage for a DVD, which I can only wait for anxiously. Seriously, they put on one hell of a show, and I think have finally found their voices collectively.

Next, I will move on to a name not many of you are probably familiar with, Cam Jones. I had the pleasure of meeting Cam when I played drums for the Will Gattis Trio, and he has come a very long way from there. I think the only way I can totally describe him in his entirety is a very young Eric Bettencourt . There is a very strong bluesy, classic rock influence in his drumming style, but I also see the same passion and fire in his eyes that I do whenever I have worked with Eric. They both genuinely are in love with music, any and all kinds (which is very refreshing to see). Cam has been very busy, playing skins with The Nebs as well as In The Audience. The Nebs have been together since 2008, and have been synonymous with success in the all ages scene of Portland (which is still very much alive). They are hoping to record a set of singles this year and release it to the masses; once you listen to the Nebs, you will understand where I see the Eric Bettencourt musical inspiration. In The Audience is getting ready to release their debut album over in Japan. I haven't heard much from them but I like what I hear. When Cam is not being sequestered to behind the drum set, but as a multi-instrumentalist as well, getting ready to release his debut EP "Drum Keys and Cymbal Keys", on We Are All Nice Friends Records.

Lastly, I want to highlight a man who got me my first real start with in the Portland scene, Will Gattis. After the release of his debut album, Dullard (which was a critical darling across the internet), Gattis went and company in the now defunct Will Gattis Trio parted ways, which I think personally left a mark on him. After that, setting out on his own, has logged in countless miles up and down the eastern seaboard, playing headlining shows from Florida to DC, to New York and back; even being named Maine's Best Singer/Songwriter in 2007 during the Maine Singer/Songwriter showdown. This work ethic has turned Gattis into a bona fide front man, which even plays out in his songwriting. He surely is "“an upcoming purveyor of quirky indie pop.” as the Portland Phoenix accurately states. Some of the upcoming things to look forward from Will is a forthcoming 4 song EP, as of yet not titled, extensive touring schedule (and hopefully more shows in Portland - that's a plea from your Portland fans Will!).

There you have it folks. Those are my picks for the artists that are going to have a hugely successful 2010. Like I said, make sure you click on the links for the names, but a comprehensive list will be posted immediately following the next paragraph:

Roy Davis
The Goodnight Process
The Stereo Flys
The Nebs
We Are All Nice Friends
Will Gattis

Until next time my friends!