Speedy Ortiz Takeover: Matt Robidoux recommends Death to Tyrants

Matt Robidoux and Death to Tyrants

Matt Robidoux of Speedy Ortiz (l) and Death to Tyrants (r)

Matt Robidoux’s artist recommendation: “I first spotted Death to Tyrants on the “recommended listening” shelf of my closest independent record store and for about a year I just assumed they were as unattainable as the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Growing up in rural New Hampshire, it was difficult to experience live music, meet other musicians or find people who actively listened to music. When I found out DTT were local and had in fact played a release show in that same record store, I was blown away. The music was of a confounding post hardcore instrumental kind, five brothers rehearsing multiple times a week with a Greg Ginn of the woods severity, chopping down trees and pulling parts like I had never heard out of the ether. Hemming disparate elements of jazz and noise together, they created a sprawling landscape as expansive as the distance between Boston and the summit of Mt. Monadnock.

Most importantly, DTT was the band that showed me I could be in a band. They played in unconventional spaces — libraries, burrito shops and record stores out of necessity — there was nowhere else to play. They toured nationally, had beautiful vinyl releases and brought the coolest bands to rural NH. I will always have my spray painted 4 minute long DTT tape.

Later on, when I became friends with the guys, they were not the inimitable elder statesman I perceived, but five of the nicest gents. Eric and Ian in particular showed me some important artists that really fucked my world up: Sonny Sharrock, Alvin Lucier, Off Minor, Penderecki. We started what I still consider to have been “NH’s largest free jazz collective” and I went on my first tour. For these things and many more, thanks Eric, Ian, Ben, Paul, Randy.”

Not familiar with New Hampshire instrumental punx Death To Tyrants? Matt suggests you start here: “Try Experience Will Be Your Monument and Your Love and the rest of the Clean Plate Records catalog!”

Matt RobidouxAbout our guest author, Matt Robidoux: Matt runs the Hidden Temple Tapes record label in Northhampton, MA. Matt also plays guitar for Speedy Ortiz, and when he does so, he wreaks havoc on stage (and, sometimes, off). As Brooklyn Vegan reported, his performances often include “… attacking his guitar or rubbing the fretboard against whatever he can find on stage…” and a recent Pitchfork profile of Speedy Ortiz reveals that Matt has also surprised both fans and his own band by leaving the stage and playing a solo in the middle of the street and launching his guitar through a fence. Yeah, these acts can be seen as theatrics, but make no mistake…this guy can play and he has the right amount of flair to balance with Speedy’s charismatic lead singer Sadie Dupuis. Hear Matt and the band simply kill it on their new album Major Arcana and check the check the Speedy Ortiz Facebook info page for the latest tour info.

Speedy Ortiz Takeover: Darl Ferm recommends The Lassie Foundation

Darl Ferm of Speedy Ortiz (l) and The Lassie Foundation (r)

Darl Ferm of Speedy Ortiz (l) and The Lassie Foundation (r)

Darl Ferm’s artist recommendation: “Between 2004 and 2008, I was in the formative years of high school at a time when illegal downloading had become incredibly easy (it kind of always has been). The singer from my old band, Day Sleeper, had the mental stamina to search for obscure bands that only grew in popularity through music pirating, so I got a lot of recommendations from him.

The Lassie Foundation was one of those bands (their fan base growing from 10 to probably 100 at most). It’s easy to call the band a combination of My Bloody Valentine and The Beach Boys, and that’s exactly what it is. I think it’s genius to take 2 very different walls of sound and combine them into a very unique shoegaze experience. Additionally, I’m a big fan of shoegaze, and The Lassie Foundation’s Pacifico record is one of the few albums I enjoy listening to the entire way through.

LF is a band that feels good to like. Their lyrics are goofy in an awful way, but it doesn’t really matter because their music feels very upbeat. It’s also fun to like a band that no one knows of, to the point where you’ll never meet anyone who has even heard the name before. But maybe that’s just me.

While a lot of great shoegaze bands, such as Swirlies, will take the abstract elements of the genre, LF saturates their music in simple and perfectly-played pop, leaving you wishing you thought of it first.”

Darl FermAbout our guest author, Darl Ferm: Darl is the bass player for Speedy Ortiz, the alternative band from North Hampton, MA that is winning big praise from local media as well as The AV Club and Pitchfork. Darl actually met the Speedy Ortiz band members when they opened for his previous band, Day Sleeper at Wesleyan, where he went to school as a film major. As far as influences go, he recently mentioned Helium, Polvo, Unwound and Nirvana. And, despite the recent critical praise for the band, Ferm still likes being close to the audience. How can you not love a guy who recently said, “…the higher up on stage you are, the less connection you’re probably going to have with the audience.” Be sure to pick up the band’s debut album, Major Arcana and check the check the Speedy Ortiz Facebook info page for the latest tour info.

Speedy Ortiz Takeover: Sadie Dupuis recommends Francine

Sadie Dupois of Speedy Ortiz and the band Francine

Sadie Dupois of Speedy Ortiz (l) and the band Francine (r)

Sadie Dupuis’ artist recommendation: “Just after starting college, I was wooed via mixtape into my first real relationship, a long-distance joint that would result in lots more mixes, lots of shared favorite bands, and a lot of sadness when, after five years, that relationship came to an end. Like divvying up a record collection post-divorce, there was some confusion as to how to go on enjoying these “shared bands” after the split. Could I still listen to that music, even though it brought up difficult memories of someone I was moving on from? Could I claim ownership over songs shown to me by someone no longer in my life?

One of the songs on that first mix was Silver Plated 606 by Francine, an indie-rock-pop-whatever Boston band on Q Division records. I can’t remember how much of my interest in Francine was egged on by my ex, who was as intoxicated as I was by their witty, weird, unstoppably pop songwriting. But pretty soon we were trying to figure out how to rip off “The Scobe,” as we affectionately referred to frontman Clayton Scoble (ex-Poundcake, ex-Aimee Mann) as if he were our buddy. (If you’re reading this, Clayton, apologies for the secret nickname. It seemed fraternal to us.)

It was like there was some kind of secret formula Scoble employed, a formula that involved mixed meters, scalar melodies, vocals that jumped from a slack, flippant, near-spoken low register to gorgeous, airy, sustained falsetto harmonies. Those were Francine’s hallmarks. And yet each song was totally distinct, and despite consistent adherence to those techniques, their albums showed marked sonic evolutions from release-to-release. Debut Forty On A Fall Day is, excepting some nearly-medieval deviations, straight-ahead goofy rock, with the title track outlining a fantasied date with Kim Deal; middle child 28 Plastic Blue Versions Of Endings Without You is a word-rich (and wordily titled), pensive, and gorgeous break-up album; their most recent and effort, 2006′s Airshow, incorporates Notwist-esque electronics, attentive, daring production from drummer Steve Scully, and increasingly engaging yet complicated songwriting.

Across each release, though, Scoble’s labyrinthine lyrics reward close reading. As the lines are parsed out strangely over measures, the meanings become skewed, obscured. You’d never know that Airshow’s stunner Penn Station boasts first-verse lyrics “What do you get when you call out loud? You only get what you circuit bend out of skin, home-sick and kind of homely.” You have to listen to these songs a million and half times to get their total genius, to really examine the intricacy packed into these 3-minute pop songs. Having listened to these songs exactly a million and a half times, I feel like I’ve lived in them. I feel the ownership I dreaded abandoning post-break up. I’ve ripped off the Scobe so much that I probably oughta buy him a pizza or twelve. And hey, I guess my ex can have a couple slices too. Thanks for introducing me to a band I’ve found so totally inspirational.”

MP3: Fake Firelplace Things by Francine

MP3: Oxygenated by Francine

Not familiar with Francine? Sadie suggests you start here: 28 Plastic Blue Versions of Endings Without You was the first Francine album I dug, and it paved the way for me to get into the releases that followed and preceded it. It’s sentimental–it’s a break up album, of course it’s sentimental–but it doesn’t take itself too seriously, and it covers a lot of ground over the course of thirteen beautifully constructed songs.”

Sadie DupuisAbout our guest author, Sadie Dupuis: The list of the coolest women in alternative rock just got a little longer, friends. Yes, Sadie Dupuis, the lead singer and guitarist for the North Hampton, MA band Speedy Ortiz (the band name references a character from the Love and Rockets comic, in case you were wondering) can be added to your rad lady list of Kim Gordon, Liz Phair and Kim Deal. She’s got the voice that darts along with the band’s bouncing guitar melodies. She’s got the biting lyrics that are sharpened from her immersion in creative writing, which she teaches at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. And, she has a well schooled band that prefers to play basement shows to clubs (bassist Darl Ferm recently noted in an interview, “…the higher up on stage you are, the less connection you’re probably going to have with the audience…”). The band’s debut album, Major Arcana received an A- rating from the AV Club and was slapped with a ‘best new music’ label from Pitchfork. Speedy Ortiz’s fan base continues to grow and their live shows are getting downright raucous. Be sure to check the Speedy Ortiz Facebook info page for the latest tour info and get out to see this group that is taking the alternative world by storm.

Adam Levy recommends Sam Phillips

Adam Levy and Sam Phillips

Adam Levy and Sam Phillips

Adam Levy’s recommendation: “One artist who moves me consistently is Sam Phillips. Her songs are smartly written, yet she always keeps them from sounding fussy or fussed over. Her melodies get stuck in my head and I never mind them sticking there. Some of her lyrics race along with the pace of taut short stories (imagine Tobias Wolff as a singer/songwriter), while others are more dreamlike. She’s a strummer — not a fingerpicker — and I love the way her guitar lopes and swaggers through her songs.”

New to Sam Phillips? Adam suggests you start here: My favorite Sam record is A Boot & A Shoe. Song for song, I think it’s her most consistent batch, and the production is seductively gritty. My other fave is Fan Dance — released a few years prior to A Boot and a Shoe To me, these two feel like companions. (I’ve no idea if Phillips thinks of them that way.) Both records were produced by T-Bone Burnett, and the cast of session players is similar — including drummer Carla Azar and guitarist Marc Ribot.

MP3: I Don’t Know Why by Sam Phillips

Adam LevyAbout our guest author, Adam Levy: We at Rocktorch.com recently found out about Adam Levy on a WFUV segment and we really liked what we heard: skillful guitar work perfectly laid under intimate, well crafted lyrics. We dug around the Web for his bio info and found out that his grandfather wrote “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” and the theme from the TV series Gilligan’s Island (how cool is that?!) and that he has backed the likes of Norah Jones, Ani DiFranco and Tracey Chapman. But the interesting thing is that there is not a ton of bio info on his own site. Instead the music and reviews of his work speaks for itself. Of his most recent record, The Heart Collector, No Depression says, “A great album overflowing with warm and soulful songs that enchant the ears and captivate the heart,” and Minor 7th writes, “It’s his guitar virtuosity, melancholy melodies, vocals — multiple musical personalities — that will surely mesmerize you.” Levy gets a lot of jazz coverage, but there is definite crossover potential here; we see him as a gifted singer-songwriter. Be sure to check http://www.adamlevy.com to check Adam’s concert schedule, join his mailing list and more.