Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Tasty art: Metrano, Monhegan at Carryout

Of course, there are plenty of reasons to attend art openings besides the one taught to every cub reporter on the first day of J-school — that it’s a good place to score a free meal, or at least something to take the edge off, and, if you’re a lucky little ink-soaked wretch, maybe some sort of bracing libations. Mmmmmm, libations. You also get, if you’re pushy enough, some face time with the artist, and, of course, there’s always the art, presumably the reason you’re there. If you’re not a reporter, of course. Now, we’re not guaranteeing that there’ll be a decent spread of anything besides art at the reception for Dylan Metrano’s first-ever solo art show next week at Carry Out Cafe, where the Port native will be showing his excellent paper-cuttings of Monhegan Island, and you don’t really need another reason, but there’s something else in the works, another reason to brave the suddenly snarly season. And that is ... nah, you’ve got to go to the next page to find out.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Port winters lead to Ruin ... and renewal

Sorry, you won't get the full-throttle kick in the teeth you'd expect when Ruin/Renewal blows through Kittery, Maine, next week for the Burst & Bloom festival. The band will play a short acoustic set — not because of artistic considerations or commercial and crossover possibilities, but because the festival location will be in a gallery that's just one thin wall from a nice little restaurant, and the organizers don’t want to rattle the walls or the customers. “It will be a first for us," says Port native Josh Pritchard, who debuted “Mutes in the Steeple: Stories from the Newburyport Music Scene,” a film documenting the city’s second-wave punk scene, at last year’s Burst & Bloom. “We're used to playing loud rock clubs. The change of pace will be nice, I think. It should be interesting.”

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Plaudits for 'punk' playwright

Congrats to Gregory S. Moss. That's him on the left. No, no. Not the short guy who dressed up for the photo shoot, the well-rested one. The other guy. The Pavement Group's production of the Port playwright's "punkplay,” a piece that has its roots in the city, in Inn Street youth culture during the second-wave punk, has just been named one of the Top 10 plays of the year by TimeOut Chicago. Number 3, to be exact. Not that we're counting. Here's what they had to say: "As urgent and concentrated as a punk-rock track, Gregory Moss’s brilliantly funny play was also deceptively empathetic. The roller skates and uncertain sneers worn by Alexander Lane and Matt Farabee as a pair of ’80s adolescents might’ve suggested punkplay was just skimming a surface, but the cast and director David Perez expertly captured the harrowing teenage experience of grasping for identity and validation."

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Alan Bull’s sort-of guerrilla gallery

Finding Alan Bull in a gallery isn't all that unusual. On the walls, anyhow. The Port painter always has something going on somewhere. But finding him behind the counter, that's something else. And finding him behind the counter of his own gallery, well, that's just .... whaaaa? Yeah, that's right. Bull, perhaps best known for his emotionally charged series on old trucks, has his own gallery, something that seems to have popped up overnight. Or maybe it's some sort of guerilla installation: Here today, gone tomorrow? Yeah, sounds crazy, but, actually, it's not that far off.  The artist will be ensconced in a comfy little Inn Street storefront, at the former Stitch in Time, between the Inn Street Barbershop and the Purple Onion, through the end of the month and maybe, but not definitely, through January. And the name of the place? 48 Inn Street Gallery.  Yeah, doesn’t quite grab you by the lapels, but certainly functional.  At least you know where the place is. And the hours? Weekends approach “regular” hours, weekdays not so much. It’s all rather improvisational. The guy has to paint — and teach — after all. Can’t be standing around the store all day.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Tiger Saw dances in the dark

Tiger Saw's latest, the aptly named "Nightingales," has been billed as a flight back to the nest, of sorts, a return to the Newburyport-born, Portland-based band's slowcore roots, and it's difficult to argue with that assessment, especially after the stylistic detour that was "Tigers on Fire," the controversial 2007 album that reinvented Saw as a kind-of white-kid basement soul dance band, horn section and all. So, yeah, there's a little back to the future feel to it. But, despite some obvious similarities in form and, to a certain extent, content, “Nightingales” finds Tiger Saw in a completely different place —  lyrically, musically, emotionally — from, say, the sweetness and innocence of, "Blessed Art the Trials We Will Find," the band's Kimchee debut, or the joyous, celebratory, everybody-all-together “Sing," from the midpoint of the band's decade-long run. Yeah, the songs, for the most part, are still sweet, sad and, at times, heartachingly beautiful, and have an ineffable yet smoldering sadness — and a terrible, well-remembered longing. And, perhaps most significantly, the new material puts the spotlight back on the interplay of male and female voices to an extent not seen since cellist and vocalist Juliet Nelson left the band three years ago. But Emily Forsythe, probably best known for her work with the Boston-based St. Claire, steps into the duet role with founder Dylan Metrano as earth to Nelson's cosmos, body to her spirit, fire to her cool, ethereal breeze. And, this time out, there's a lot more miles on the vehicle. The shadows are longer, almost stark, and the lines on the faces of the characters, the people whose lives are described more pronounced. And Tiger Saw, a constantly shifting musical collective, is doing it, mostly, with a rootsy, waltzy string quartet as accompaniment. No, it’s never easy with this band.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Mr. Sterile Assembly: Notes from Underground

Trident Studios is housed in a nondescript building in Te Aro, an inner-city section of Wellington, New Zealand. Most people pass it without ever knowing that the Martin Square building was once home to the Secret Intelligence Service, the SIS -- MI6 in the popular jargon -- an organization perhaps not quite so well known as its international brothers-in-acronym, but newly repositioned and reinvigorated in the so-called Age of Terror, keeping an eye on its citizens, and, according to a recent government report, occasionally members of Parliament. Kieran Monaghan, founder of mr sterile Assembly, one of the most interesting, if hopelessly below-the-pop-culture-radar bands in New Zealand, didn't know anything about the Taranaki Street building's checkered, puzzle-palace past until he turned up at Trident to record Transit, the band's fourth proper album, and got the tour from owner Mike Gibson. The irony was not lost on him, or the opportunity it presented. This is a band "on the outskirts of the extreme underground," says Nick Fulton, founder of Einstein Music Journal, a blog on the frontline of New Zealand's emerging music scene, but also a band whose music is "deep and trustful," that has "a sense of humor, fantasy and punk energy very close to my own feelings," says Miroslav Wanek, frontman for the legendary Czech rock band Uz Jsme Doma. 

Read more at Perfect Sound Forever