Sunday, April 29, 2007

The gist

No one's awake for me to talk to about this, so I'll air my concerns right here. The Mavericks lost tonight, game 4, putting them down 3-1. This is bad. Really bad. Curse-worthy bad. FUCK.

Now, as I've said, I consider the Mavericks a nice analogy, a parallel even, to our band. The same desire, the goal-oriented approach, the occasional getting off track. I take it all very seriously. It's hard for me not to. I'm very invested in both, and have been as long as I can remember (except I'd be speaking of music on the whole, more than Cassavettes which is two years old). Last year, when the Mavericks said they were going to the Finals, people laughed. They did it. And they thought they proved it. But when they got there, they folded, one of the worst collapses ever. The only way to redeem yourself, I figured, is to go back and finish the job. But they aren't. Now, they are on the brink of being the FIRST EVER number one seed to get beaten in a seven-game series by a number eight seed. Humiliating. Unbelievable. And they deserve to lose. They are playing like crap, like they expect it to be handed to them because they had a great regular season record. Now, I'm not going to go over the Xs and Os of why I'm mad at the Mavs and everything that has gone wrong. I'm going to clarify what I was talking about in this space earlier tonight.

Cassavettes, like the Mavericks, are a team. We practice, we play hard, and we have our eyes set on a bigger prize. Like individual accomplishments mean nothing for the Mavs, I'm not satisfied with what we've achieved so far. We have a long, long, long way to go. Hey, we exited our playoffs in the first round, too. But that's just the way it goes.

Now, what drives me the CRAZIEST about the Mavericks is their apparent lack of desire. They say they want it, but they have yet to prove it. Play like you want it. Every single game. That's what the champs do. That's what we need to do, too. But we aren't.

We get unfocused, lackadaisical, and yes, I'm as guilty as anyone. There needs to be no long-term lapse in confidence or focus. Bad games happen, bad shows happen. But you overcome and win the bigger prize, if you stay focused. So when I criticize the Mavericks or ourselves, I'm not saying it's a lack of talent. It's not. It's a lack of desire, or rather, a lack of proving that desire. On the court, on the stage. You can say you want to win a championship, but that doesn't get you the trophy. You have to go through hell and back to prove you deserve it. You have to be baptized with fire, and branded a winner.

That's what I'm looking for. The killer instinct, the focus. We need to want it. Really badly want it. Can't sleep at night want it. The Mavericks need to want it. Cassavettes need to want it. But more than anything, we need to prove we deserve it.

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Que sera sera

I've had a couple days to think about Friday's show. I'm in Virginia now, collecting some stuff for the big move, and I've been thinking about Friday's show at the Lizard Lounge a lot. Why I got so mad. Why I still kind of am. It's hard to explain, but I just have high expectations, I guess.

I haven't been in the best mood lately, this much is true. Well, some of the time I've been OK, but a lot of the time, I'm not. The stress of finals, combined with (yes, this is unfortunately a big mood determining factor) the Mavericks playing like pure crap in the playoffs (as stated, I view the Mavs as a parallel to my own life, so yes, I take their wins and losses personally), combined with me being put out of my element on Friday by what I believe may have been a serious (or joking?) statement, and finally being peeved at the club for not allowing Katie in, it all amounted to a bad mood on Friday. A really bad mood, that got worse as we played. On what was supposed to be a joyous occasion in celebration of our friend Ted. And I try not to let the mood affect the performance. I told Mike afterward that what I need to focus on, in the things that we as individuals must focus on to make the unit better, is getting my head in the right place. Friday that wasn't happening. Perhaps it's hurting us to play later at night. Perhaps we've gotten spoiled by later slots and weekend dates. Maybe I'm not taking it seriously and all of us aren't acting like the professionals we aspire to be. And maybe, quite possibly, I'm overreacting to everything.

There's blame for Friday, and almost all of it should be directed at me. I can not, and hopefully will not, allow my attitude -- or the performance itself, and the conditions therein -- to affect how I play. Because that will only make things worse. Friday was a slap in the face for me. It hurt a lot. It made me want to get things back on track, because it seems like every other show lately has been below standards. And I'll take the blame for that, too. We need focus, we need professionalism, but also, we need relaxation. I need to take it easy. I need to stop coming down on others. I ask what I ask, and everyone is welcome to do the same of me, but either way, I have a good feeling we'll come out on top. Sometimes that feeling is less secure than others, but for the most part, I feel OK. But at some point, I must say que sera sera.

It may not be in my nature, but I must learn to adjust. Then, everything will fall into place, I believe. And that's the truth.
SET LIST: A Hard Rain / Shotgun Wedding / Loose Lips / Carolyn, Don't Leave Like This / The Nadir / Seasons / You'll Be Crying Soon (debut) / On The Lam / Trouble From The Start / Shine A Light

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Thursday, April 26, 2007

The Sterns go all Hollywood

Good old boys The Sterns make a little acting debut in a film about SXSW. As you'll recall, when we played with them shortly before SXSW, at Rubber Gloves in Denton, they were a member short.
Now we know why.


Wednesday, April 25, 2007

New songs galore!

Holy moly! I just finalized my final final! No, that's not a typo, I mean I wrote my last final. Once I turn this in tomorrow, I'll be so pumped up and relieved. Yet, I still very very badly need to pack. Will do soon!

Anyhow, a lot of the focus in the band right now is to get some new material flowing. I know Mike's got a lot of new stuff that sounds pretty sweet, and Scott may even have a song or two. Perhaps Scott will prove true my claim that he shall be Cassavettes' George Harrison, busting out a true gem from nowhere after being pressured for tunes. Anyhow, I've got some stuff, too, some pretty cool stuff, but nothing that's really made my tail wag yet. That's probably just because I haven't had a whole lot of time to sit down with a guitar lately. So, the band has purposely tried to air out our schedule for the next couple months for two reasons: 1) we've been playing a lot lately and may have maxed out our crowd, plus we want to hype up our 7/7/07 Middle East Downstairs date and 2) we need to have practices where we're not practicing for the next gig, but rather, practicing new material. Because besides "Shotgun Wedding" and "Loose Lips," no songs have really permeated our regular set yet.

Here's what we've got right now, by my count:
-"Shotgun Wedding," about the closest song we have to be good-to-go; just needs some revised lyrics and perhaps a harmony part I've been mulling over
-"Loose Lips," sounding better all the time, but just needs to get tightened up at points
-"You'll Be Crying Soon" (two versions; one slow, one fast), the fast version is almost there
-Mike's new song, he told me the name last night but I forgot it
-"It's Gonna Take Time," which still has a ways to go as we develop it, though I think it has enormous potential
-"Like Secrets Beneath," it still sounds best when MK joins us in my opinion, but it sounds better with the full band than I thought it would
-An untitled revision of a song called "Gloria," which also sounds best with MK
-The song I introduced last night, "She's A Bright Light," which is obviously a ways off but also has the potential to be another piano pop song in the vein of "We Could Be Solo Acts"

We've put a few songs on the backburner, too, including "One Step Ahead" and another one of Mike's songs. Who knows if they'll ever be resurrected? Also, we haven't devoted much time to a couple things we just screwed around with. So, now's the time to mess around with the songs and see what comes out. It should be really, really fun.

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Back log

With all the coverage of David Halberstam's death over the last two days, I've spent some time reading up on his incredible life. But one of the more poignant things he said, in my readings, was actually a quote from Julius Erving. Or Dr. J. I quote: "Being a professional is doing the things you love to do on the days you don't feel like doing them." I feel that. That's an inspiration to practice, even when you don't want to. To go to a big show that you're nervous about. It's about taking it seriously. I love it.

Anyhow, quick update: The band practiced again last night, getting ready for Friday's show. We've got a nice, tight 10-song set together. You won't hear Mike's new tune, or the one I introduced last night, tentatively titled "She's A Bright Light." But you will hear some rockers. Ah yeah, rockers.

Now, I'm researching a paper on iTunes and I happened to use my resources to search for Cassavettes articles I may have missed. There are a couple small things I haven't put up, including a number from the Patriot Ledger, but they did an article on Rodfest in January and we got a nice mention from Kier.

The other outsider band is Cassavettes, whose tunes on the sampler CD might remind you of Counting Crows. This group formed while they were students at Northeastern University, and it won the 2006 Boston Music Award as Best Local Band.

"I'd say the Cassavettes are like Tom Petty-meets-Elvis Costello," said Byrnes. "Some of them are originally from Texas, so there's a definite Americana feel, but they're also a New England rock band now."

A Herald Rumble wrap I missed: "Night 2: In a surprise victory, the endless melodies of Baker vaulted it ahead of favorites Cassavettes and Aloud, who brought their Americana and arena-rock ``A'' games, respectively."

If I'm missing anything, let me know.

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Sunday, April 22, 2007

Diamond in the rough

Once again, I've gone a good while without a post. At least I've got an excuse... I've been writing papers. So many papers that I skipped work on Friday just to write! But it will all be over soon. That's the good news. The bad news is the Mavericks lost game 1 of the playoffs tonight. What the hell?

Anyhow, quick report on the last two days, which are the most significant since last we spoke. (Oh, but Friday night, Scott, TD, Fritz, Chris and I caught the Rumble finals and saw many a friendly face. No one would have shocked me in those Finals because I didn't know any of them going in. Township ended up stealing it, which is just fine by me, plus Jen and Andy are happy and that makes everyone happy).

Yesterday, we played the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester with out buddies Slow Century. McLaughlin, the frontman of said rockers, is a HC alum and obviously, still a big man on campus, as shown by his fancy attire of pressed white shirt and fine white shoes. When we got to the college, we thought we were running late, but alas there was a long wait in store for us, as they changed stages and sound equipment. To pass the time, we raced up a very vertical hill and Scott and I rolled down it. My rolling was actually the product of not thinking, I just kind of leapt into the air, sacrificing my body for comedy. But as I rolled, not knowing how I'd stop, I hit a bump and in cartoonish fashion, landed back on my feet. I knew this was the start of something really great. Later in the evening I tried my first-ever cartwheel in earnest and apparently got on both hands before falling over backwards. I thought I tore my ACL for a few minutes, but I played it cool. Anyway, beyond amp trouble, the show went pretty well. We played a breezy, outdoor set comprised of songs we dig and songs we dig but don't play much. Many folks got theirs at this show -- Laura Owen's birthday rock tune, as well as shout outs to Diamond Danielle Metterville, Frugal Fritz Ceriales, Crazy Caitlin Barrett, Chris, McLaughlin and The McLaughlin parents. Then Slow Century's Diamond Greg Salvucci got the beats thumpin.
SET LIST: Better Than This / Empire Central / Debts / Shotgun Wedding / The Devil's Arms (happy birthday, Laura) / Loose Lips / We Could Be Solo Acts / Trouble From the Start / Carolyn, Don't Leave Like This / It's Gonna Be Alright

Tonight, after I banged out 10 pages on Islam, we practiced earlier so we could catch some Mavs action (yeah, THAT was worth it). The practice mostly consisted of tightening up newer tunes, plus Mike introduced a really nice little countryish tune. It reminds me of a Dylan song... one of his newer songs, like "When The Deal Goes Down." Don't know why. Either way, I play organ and harmonica and the song swings. Nice work to the McMan. Then, we worked on "You'll Be Crying Soon," which is becoming more and more a barroom rocker. Plus, it's allowing me to tighten up my chops. I like that. It would have been a good one for rumbling, but whatev. We also gave "It's Gonna Take Time" a little bit of love, and I think I'm okay with the fact that it's only about a minute and 45 seconds long. That's kind of cool, actually. Maybe we can do a medley of that and "Honeybee." That'd be sweet.

Anyhow, bed now. More writing tomorrow. Then practice. Then packing. Then more writing. Then more packing. Then moving. Then resting. Fun times aplenty!

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Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Week in review

Sorry for the week-long delay. Things have been crazy with school and work lately, and blogging just hasn't been the top priority. However, I did do my band work recently, too. Here's the highlights:

Friday: TD, myself, Chris and Elyse headed for the Rumble semifinals. I was interested to see the bands we competed against/lost to (Aloud and Baker) in a non-competitive light. As I told Aloud (although, admittedly, half-drunkenly), whether you want to or not, you can't objectively watch a band when you're competing with them. Thus, with us out of the way, I had no fog in front of my eyes. I was surprised at how GOOD Aloud is. I shouldn't have been, since I've heard it a million times, but really, their success is deserved. That band has their act together. Baker ended up winning the night and they deserved it, too. While the band isn't exactly my cup of tea (I like the tunes, but I couldn't force myself to look past such blatant pullings from Doves and Coldplay), they are tight musicians and good songwriters. Plus, they pack a lot of energy into their performance. And honestly, losing to a band that eventually made it to the Finals, made me feel a little better about our first round faceplant. It's like that part in the film version of "High Fidelity" when John Cusack realizes that the girlfriend who left him in first grade ended up marrying the boy she cheated with. Like, you can't interrupt destiny. Or something along those lines. Either way, I talked to a lot of good people from the media and other bands and spent a ridiculous amount buying drinks for everyone (I was feeling charitable). And I finally got to hear The Silver Lining, my pick for the night after their rousing set. We got a ride home from Kerry, too, which was an added bonus.

Saturday: The next night, I checked out the Rumble semis, this time with the rest of the band. We were pulling for Age Rings REALLY hard and honestly, I think they had a great chance. They're awesome dudes and they have awesome songs. But alas, you don't know what the judges are looking for. Need proof? Eli "Paperboy" Reed, my pick and pretty much everyone else's pick to win the whole damn thing, lost. So did Age Rings. So did Protokoll the night before (to Baker). And on this night, Township won -- a band that, yes, put on a great live set, but sounded a fair bit like Foghat. All in all, it was a really fun night with some awesome music. One band, who would go on to get the coveted wildcard on Sunday night, The Indefinite Article, had some enthusiastic fans, including one girl wearing bee antennas who parked herself in front of Danielle and I and convulsed wildly. Sort of entertaining, sort of frightening -- like movies where animals can speak English.

Sunday: No practice. Instead we saw our buddy Max G and his band The Spots play at The Burren in Somerville. Since I'll be moving to the 'ville soon, it was interesting to mingle with a crowd of Tufts students and one crazy dancing lady. Come to think of it, I've seen a few of those lately.

Monday: Practice. We sounded pretty good, actually, and started to get ready for our show this Saturday at Holy Cross. We ran through a song we'd tried last week and, in a slower form, over the past couple months. I actually played it live in January, for those keeping score at home. It's called "I'll Be Crying Soon." It's cool, I like this new sped-up version, it's got a nice barroom energy. And the band continues to practice jams, so that we can fill those out when the time is right. Plus, perhaps a cool lick will pass through the transom once in a while and we'll be able to snag it. That's how "Shine A Light" filled up.

Tuesday: Last night, we headed to Blick, an art store near Fenway, for an art show for a piece Julie did for The Weekly Dig. It's a pretty cool piece -- Comm Ave at sunrise, with Cassavettes on the billboard of the Paradise. But my favorite part, even better than the band shout-out, is one cars license plate is my dream vanity plate: U8DUST. That's so by the time people get the joke, you'll have passed and they'll know what they ate. Anyhow, as the picture shows, after the Dig deal, we grabbed a sandwich and our guitars and headed for the Abbey Lounge, where Mike and I took the pub stage to warm up an eclectic night held in the honor of Shoot the Moon's Sammy Miami. We only did three tunes: Seasons / Saint Anthony / Carolyn, Don't Leave Like This. Nonetheless, as shown at the top of this post, we obtained some hankerchiefs and cowboy hats out of the deal. Good times. Unfortunately, we had to split before Kier or Ward from Girls, Guns & Glory took the stage. Bummer.

Today: Last day of classes. I'm listening to the new Wilco record, and marveling at how much "What Light" sounds like a Dylan tune, like "When I Paint My Masterpiece" or that era. But there's a particularly poignant for any writer, especially ones who encounter success on the level of Wilco: "If the whole world's singing your songs and all your paintings have been hung / Just remember, what was yours is everyone's from now on / And that's not wrong or right, but you can struggle with it all you like." What an interesting little glimpse into Tweedy's head -- the hesitation to have your work not be your own after trying to have your tunes heard. Anyhow, soon I'll start a review of the new Great Lake Swimmers disc for the big paper. It seems pretty good, more of the same from the last record, which is just peachy in my mind.

So, now, I've got to finish two big papers for Islam and music, and move. It's going to be a hectic two weeks. Hell, it's been a hectic month. Double hell, it's been a hectic life. But like the new El-P record says: "I'll sleep when you're dead." Sorry, bad joke (especially considering recent circumstances that I swear I'm not meaning to make light of), but seriously, that's the best album name I've heard in a long time.

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Wednesday, April 11, 2007


This is my 100th post since I launched this blog in September. Pretty cool. Just looking back at the last few months, I've had a number of "Oh yeah!" moments. Plus, yesterday, I updated all the show posts I've done with photos from the event. I really should stick in the flyer, too. Once I have more time... This is a show post, but it will not have any pictures, because I don't think anyone took a single picture last night.

Last night, we played Great Scott for the second time in three weeks, doing an emergency slot as the second band on a Tuesday night. Pretty rough. As a result, we did no promotion besides a half-assed MySpace and Facebook message. Even most of the faithfuls didn't make it, maybe because they'd seen us twice in two weeks. Apparently, Scott likes playing a laid-back, no-pressure show once in awhile, but we then all realized we just played that on Saturday in New York (although we did somehow "win" that night). Either way, there's very little good that can be pulled from last night besides how cool the other bands were (Illinois and The Big Big Bucks) and the guarantee Carl gave us.

This was one of those performances. So bad that I couldn't believe the sound I was hearing onstage. Now, yes, we are our own harshest critics, but holy smokes, it was B-A-D. I'm not quite sure why, either. Most of the songs had been rehearsed a lot in recent weeks for our various recent showcases and shows. Maybe we were all tired and uninspired, to borrow the saying. But with the exception of "Whitewashed," we played like it was our first show -- or that at afterHOURS a couple months back. The good news is we rarely play two bad shows back to back (I can't remember if NY was good or not, but apparently it was good enough), so we ought to turn things around before the next gig (April 21 at Holy Cross in Worcester).
SET LIST: Shotgun Wedding / On The Lam / Whitewashed / The Nadir / Loose Lips / Lightning In A Bottle / Carolyn, Don't Leave Like This / Debts / Shine A Light

Now the focus is on being more selective with shows again. We've tired ourselves out over the past couple months (we haven't toured enough to have a tolerance built up to constant gigging, though I imagine constant gigging is easier than semi-frequent shows that never allow you to catch the groove), and we just need to get back to the practice space and work on new material and see where it gets us. So, we'll only be doing two more shows this month, a maximum two shows in May (we're already playing May 25), and MAYBE one or two shows in June but only if they are outside of Boston (Ralph's again? Portland? Providence? Anywhere else?). That way, we're in gear and it's full steam ahead for 7/7/7 two-year anniversary party. Speaking of, anyone have a good spot for an after party that will be open? Miller will sponsor, but we need a spot, even a house. It needs to be able to fit a fair amount of folks, too.

I'd like to play with a few bands we owe debts to over the summer, and I'd like to make it down for one more big NYC show (outside of this competition). Maybe go around New England a bit, too. In August, I'd like to set up a show when my whole family is in town for graduation, but only if it works out. I think that would be really special, though.

For now, I need to finish this semester and then move to Somerville. Then, I can really start planning for the future.

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Tuesday, April 10, 2007

#1 Fan mail

I just received a half-addressed manila envelope with no return address, except "#1 Fan." I bet it was Kier. Inside, there was a review in What's Up Magazine of "Whitewash the Blues." It's not an old issue that I just hadn't seen before. It's just a new review of an old CD.

Texas transplants The Cassavettes are part Elvis Costello and part Elvis Presley. They may be new to town but that hasn't stopped them from bringing their unique blend of pop, folk, jazz, and country to clubs up in these parts. Boston's been treating them well too, recently naming them the "Best Local Band" in the 2006 Boston Phoenix reader's poll, and nabbing a 2006 Boston Music Award nomination. This six-song CD is packed with top-tappin' sing-alongs, but I have to confess, my favorite tune here is "Carolyn, Don't Leave Like This." Fans of Boston's own Jake Brennan will like The Cassavettes.

The first time I met Kier, long before Cassavettes was even an embryo, I gave him a burned CD with a few Duffer songs, some solo songs... a veritable "greatest hits." Bless his heart, he reviewed that, too! And Nina walked all over Boston looking for What's Up Magazine because I was in Texas when the review ran. Ha. Crazy times.

Anyhow, there's a show tonight at Great Scott. We're playing second. I don't expect a huge crowd, because we didn't promote it since we only found out about it last week and things have been crazy. Either way, the other bands are really cool and I expect it to be a lot of fun. So, if you can make it, feel free to shout out suggestions. We'll do whatever you want tonight. ANYTHING.

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Sunday, April 08, 2007

Mischievious New York nighttime

Yesterday was weird. For lack of a better word, it was a weird, weird day.

We were set to play a label showcase (or was it a battle of the bands? [or was it a regular performance?]) in New York City. The plan was to leave early, about 1 p.m., so we could kick around the city for awhile and not be incredibly rushed like the last time we went to NYC. Well, we got to our practice to find ourselves locked out, short on rent (long story). We finally got in at about 3:20 p.m. and packed up quick, and hit the road by 3:50 p.m. Now, because I rode with the speed demon Matt, we got to New York in record time, by about 7 (with two stops!). Anyway, we were playing at Blaggards, an Irish pub that greatly resembled Hennessy's in vibe. I saw a dude I went to college with and a girl I met my freshman year. Totally wild.

Since we alotted that extra time, we grabbed a bite at Duke's NYC (sucked) and then came back to see the first band do its thing. By the time we hit the stage, probably well after 10 p.m., Scott had had a hand massage, Mike had had stomach pains, Matt had started wearing his hat backward, and I was feeling weird. And my amp broke -- I used the last band's Marshall halfstack. And the PA only had one monitor, on the other side of the stage. So, I don't know how well I played. But we played, and all I recall is that the rarely played "We Could Be Solo Acts" sounded pretty damn good. Besides that, due to the sound, it was tough to tell how we did. Whatever.

I immediately left the stage and was bought a shot of Jack which was OK with me. And the hang time afterward was really, really fun. We stuck around until NYC laws forced us to move our cars at 2 a.m. One of Julie's friends from childhood came and needed a ride. However, while it was quite easy for us to get where we were going (straight to FDR Drive), she didn't know where she needed to go. We ended up lost in Manhattan, then lost in Brooklyn, then she got out at a train stop and we were just plain lost. Two gas stations couldn't tell me where we were either. By the time Matt's friend gave me directions via the phone it was 4:45 a.m. Julie did a good job getting us on the road and back toward Massachusetts, and immediately everyone around her fell asleep. Fritz took over at a rest stop and we ended up back by about 8 a.m. Not too bad.
SET LIST: Carolyn, Don't Leave Like This / Shotgun Wedding / Debts / The Nadir / We Could Be Solo Acts / On The Lam / Loose Lips / Research Blvd / It's Gonna Be Alright

Now, I have a terrible cold and a headache from lack of sleep. Boy howdy, it was a weird one, but hey, we made it out OK. Now, I face some of the craziest, toughest weeks of college. Starting this week: Islam exam, music presentation (maybe?), rewriting my listening journal, finishing projects for Online Jrn and Design, and starting final projects for Islam and music. Plus, we have a show at Great Scott on Tuesday! Oh, and I got more hours at work -- meaning I'm working in another department. That may or may not be a good idea.

Here's the hoping I get through this.

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Friday, April 06, 2007

Front page news

A few months back, I wrote that Indie In-Tune Magazine was preparing a feature on us. I guess they wrapped it up, and now it appears we're the cover of the magazine (Permalink here). Pretty cool pictures, including the one of Matt, Mike, and Julie backstage. I'm amused!

Decent practice last night. We're trying to put our most "single-worthy" material into a set for this event on Saturday, since the judges apparently look for single potential. I'm thinking criteria for singles is catchy hook, relatively short in length, and could be heard on radio. The obvious choices, in my opinion, are "Carolyn, Don't Leave Like This," "We Could Be Solo Acts," "Research Blvd.," "Debts," "It's Gonna Be Alright," and "On The Lam." What's missing? Any suggestions? Amongst new tunes, it'd probably be good to do "Loose Lips" and "Shotgun Wedding," though just now I'm actually thinking the soon-to-be-retitled rollicker "It's Gonna Take Time" (too close to another song's title) would be worthy, but we've never played it live. Too risky? Who knows?

Anyhow, I'm looking to leave for NYC early on Saturday -- I think we still have three cars (Matt's, Julie's, and Fritz's, unless something has changed, or Matt has ruled his too unsafe to drive after yesterday's incident). Does anyone else want to caravan? It'd be good to have a nice crew there.

Finally, we will not go to Toronto in June. I didn't realize we can't anyway. And word is that Miller (the beer company) may sponsor an afterparty (I also need to find a venue for the afterparty, I believe) for our two-year anniversary show. I just need to make sure it's not 21+, since we'll be having some youngins up from Texas. But we're talking about it. Could be cool!

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Thursday, April 05, 2007

Competent drum work

I almost don't want to write another post because that last one has so many amusing comments on it. Ah well, archived it shall be.

Anyhow, not much to say. The Phoenix released its Best Music Poll today, and we had our collective fingers crossed for a nomination. But we're not (though there is a write-in box, if you feel so inclined). A lot of our good buddies are -- Jabe, Hallelujah the Hills, Christians & Lions, Ryan Lee Crosby, Jen from Aloud, Frank Smith, and of course, Girls Guns & Glory. The most curious absence, however, is that of Three Day Threshold, a multiple-year winner of "Roots" or whatever category they choose to put them into. They won last year. But this year, GGG has taken their place, and knowing Kier, I'm sure he's delighted by that. I, too, am excited for the boys, but I feel 3DT deserved some recognition, too, especially as reigning champs. Ah well, you never know what the criteria is.

I've been saying that a lot lately. Ha!

Anyhow, congrats to all those nominated! I'll be casting my vote real soon.

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Tuesday, April 03, 2007

The experts weigh in

Here's what the press has been saying about last night's Rumblings...

The Northeast Performer:
Night two of the WBCN Rock 'N' Roll Rumble began with Cassavettes, a mostly Texas-rooted four-piece whose smooth spin on alt-country included jangly guitars and hearty harmonies. The band played a set with fluid momentum that most definitely impressed, exhibiting solid talent and strong songwriting but never quite setting the room on fire. Their shining moment was a soulful ballad (with vocalist/guitarist Mike McCullagh on lap steel) that seamlessly transitioned into a raucous southern-flavored number that bordered on a rockabilly sound. The band has won "Best Americana Act" accolades but one might suggest that the sound isn't traditional Americana nor traditional alt-country; perhaps neo-cana-folk would be more apt.

Funny, because I just read on Chris' favorite message board that one audience member thought that what killed us was that soulful ballad ("Like Secrets Beneath"). Funny how everyone interprets it differently, eh?

The Weekly Dig:
Cassavettes were the first band up on the second night of the Rumble, and they were my early pick to win. Well, not exactly. They were who I would have picked to win, but not who I actually expected to win. (Damn you, judges!) Despite starting in the dreaded 9:30PM spot, they developed a quick rapport with the crowd. These guys were so comfortable with being onstage that it was hard not to get caught up in their enthusiasm. Not to mention that the music pretty much grabbed my ear, pulled down its pants and made sweet, sweet love to it. The only song I didn’t completely feel worked up about was a slower number featuring guitarist Michael Eoghan McCullagh on the lap steel. The song was pretty, but he didn’t seem 100% comfortable on the instrument and it showed. It should also be noted for fans of the studio album that the live show and the album have a pretty different feel: the live show is a hell of a lot punchier with distortion, whereas the album has a mellow feel that the live performance couldn’t really capture. One isn’t really better than the other, though - more like music you could drink whiskey and fight to, versus music you could listen to while drinking whiskey and just chilling the eff out. ... In the end, I still felt like Cassavettes had brought more A-game to the show than any other band, but I figured it would come down to Aloud or Baker. Baker took first place, and they damn well deserved it.

AWESOME REVIEW, eh? That guy ruled. He talked to us for awhile. I'd never met him before, but I'm glad the music was able to give his ear a good... loving.

The Boston Herald:
Country fried rock group Cassavettes kicked off the second night of BCN’s Rock N’ Roll Rumble, at Harpers Ferry, with a Texas-size load of enthusiasm, but the closing band Baker walked away with the sweet prize. ... The Cassavettes undoubtedly had the toughest spot in the lineup but the four members didn’t let an early set time hurt their performance. They called the audience to attention at the first note of “Carolyn Don’t Leave Like This.” And, when singer Glenn Yoder and bassist Coyote Scott Jones jumped onto the speakers near the audience, it was a long awaited display of showmanship.

This was written by Kerry, who was very complimentary of the band after the set. The solace was the nice accolades we received from Kerry and many others, actually. Plus, Shred took us aside and gave us some really nice words to end the evening. That guy rules. Easily the best in Boston.

The Noise didn't really write anything that I can find, but they did do a poll with us finishing behind Aloud and in front of Baker, which shows you how good everyone was. And someone comments about how hard Matt hits the drums -- haha. Also, one member gives this hilarious review:
My reviews based on the one song that played on myspace:

Cassavettes - Wow, I thought this might be decent until the shitty vox kicked in. 10 bucks says this band met at the White Horse Tavern. These guys could make a career of playing frat houses.

Aloud - This chick is singing out of her range and the vox are mixed too loud. Tell the band to change keys, stat. Oh, and while he is at it, the guitar player's single note riffs are stiff sounding. Song grew on me toward the end. Must be the "woo-oooh-oooh" backups and the beers.

Ark Royal - Holy shit, Andrew WK's band just got fronted by some pop punk douche who ruined what I thought might be a good tune. Oh, and the only thing glam about this band is that it reminds me of the taking it up the ass scene at the end of Velvet Goldmine.

Baker - The 90's called, they want their Any City, USA local opening act college radio band back.

Deep, man, deep. Actually, I bet Matt's the only one who has been to the Whitehorse. And two of us don't go to college. And none of us ever set foot in a frat house. Pretty cool quick-take review.

If anyone else can dig up any other reviews, send them this way!

Also, apparently there are photos here, but I'm not sure if I need permission to use them!

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End rumble

I am OK with losing, especially to bands I respect (Baker won, and we've asked them to do a show with us in May). You never know what the judges are really looking for, or how their votes will tally up (one of the judges did say that we scored well enough to still have a shot at the wildcard, but I'm not sure how that works). Last night, we made a few new fans and (surprisingly) got rave reviews from the press folks that were there and the former manager of Letters to Cleo, plus others. It shows we're on the right path, we just need to keep working it. And that's really the best you can hope for: to turn a few others onto your music and spread your name around a bit.

We played a set that ebbed-and-flowed like our normal sets (fast start, slow down, speed up again and finish hot), but that is tough to accomplish in a brief seven-song, 30-minute set. I feel like the crowd and judges may have wanted blistering rock or bouncy energy through and through, which isn't really our thing. We had a good time onstage and, despite a few whoops moments (Scott's bass getting unplugged while he was trying to kick Fritz [totally Fritz's fault], my voice barely holding up, major feedback on the mics, Mike and I's guitars being out of tune like crazy, Mike's guitar cutting out during the intro of "Alright"), we also had a lot of really encouraging moments. Mike played the lap steel better than he ever has, and his harmony in "Like Secrets Beneath" sounded really sweet. This may be the best Matt has played drums at a show in a long time, too. Just playing The Rumble is an achievement in itself, and I'm really proud of our group for doing its best. I'm also thankful to those who came out and supported us, despite it being a Monday and some people being tired from playing in NYC last night. You are the greatest.

SET LIST: Carolyn, Don't Leave Like This / Shotgun Wedding / Debts / The Nadir / Like Secrets Beneath / On The Lam / It's Gonna Be Alright

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Sunday, April 01, 2007

For the right reasons

I talk a fair bit about music made for the right reasons. I can't find any better example than this Iranian band risking it all to play music -- literally!

Rock music has been officially deemed contrary to the Islamic republic’s moral code. In December 2005, the president of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, banned all Western music from state-run airwaves in a reversal of reforms made under his more liberal predecessor.

Elsewhere, outside of Iran, Raam pointed out, musicians enjoy freedom. “We’re jeopardizing our lives every show we play,” he said. “I guess there’s that adventurous side added to the process that gives it that extra rush, that makes it even more rewarding and exciting. It’s definitely worth it. Performing underground in Tehran is the best drug.”

Think it's tough to make a name for yourself in an overcrowded American music market? Well, Hypernova has more to worry about: performances "can lead to arrest, large fines and even a public flogging." But they persist, and with such a large youth population in Iran, he's hoping music can make a difference.

Raam said he saw rock as a force for social and political change in a country of 70 million people, where the median age is 25, access to satellite TV and the Internet is widespread and ineffectively censored, and the ideals of the Islamic revolution have less hold over a younger generation. Young people in Iran “just want to do things that normal kids do around the world,” Raam said. “They just want to listen to music, they want to dress nice, to party.”

Again: Music for the right reasons.

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