Archive for September, 2010

Matt Hires @ The Middle East – Cambridge, MA

Matt Hires

Matt Hires came back to Boston last Friday on his headlining tour, State Lines Tour Part 2. With his band, Matt played many songs off his debut CD, as well as his new EP, “A to B”. They also did a fun cover of The Beatles’ song “You’v Got to Hide Your Love Away”.

Opening for Matt was the Drew Holcomb & The Neighbors. The husband-wife duo from Nashville put on an engaging set that was somewhat similar to The Swell Season. Holcomb’s voice reminded me somewhat of a mix between Damien Rice and Howie Day. They’ve even had one of their songs featured on NBC’s “Parenthood” and “Oprah”. Look out for these up and comers.

More photos from the event can be seen here.

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Goo Goo Dolls – Something For The Rest of Us
August 31, 2010

You may not realize it, but the Goo Goo Dolls have been around for over two decades and “Something For The Rest Of Us” marks their ninth official studio album. The band once started out as an edgy garage rock/rock & roll band. Through the years the band evolved to a more mainstream pop/rock outfit. Up until this release you could say that there’s a natural evolution from the edgy stuff on their first couple albums to an alternative pop/rock sound on “Superstar Car Wash” & “A Boy Named Goo” to the slick mainstream pop on “Dizzy Up The Girl” & “Let Love In”.

And while the primary songwriting and vocalist duties shifted from Robby Takac to Johnny Rzeznik, ever since the popular success of songs like Name and especially Iris, the band has always held something of a signature sound. Their overall sound has changed, or rather evolved, over the years, but there is something in the songwriting that you can instantly recognize as being the Goo Goo Dolls. And you hear that again on “Something…”

For many people, the “Superstar..” & “A Boy..” era is considered the golden era for the Goo Goo Dolls, and I tend to agree. But not completely. While I feel the band was at its most diverse at that point and while those albums deliver some of their finest tunes, the band hasn’t really lost quality or genuinity over the years, maybe with the exception of 2006’s “Let Love In”, which suffered from a below average production and the songs had the tendency to glue together and sound very similar to each other. But with “Something..” the band makes up for that completely.

From the first notes of Sweetest Lie you can feel the drive, the passion, the direct connection this band has been able to lay in their well-crafted pop songs for years. The album is filled with uptempo mainstream arena rock and glorious power ballads. And at times the band shows why they’ve been one of the most successful pop/rock bands for such a long time. The mix of frustration, melancholy and glimmers of hope is brilliantly executed in the powerful Notbroken, while the band goes all out on Say You’re Free which has that raw, alternative feel that candidly reminds you of the “A Boy..” & “Superstar…” era.

But that’s not all the album has to offer. The Matchbox Twenty-ish Nothing Is Real is another heartfelt track and the typical Rzeznik song Still Your Song might well turn out to be one of next year’s biggest hits. But the song that impressed me the most is the passionate title track. Something For The Rest Of Us is powerfully driven yet it’s only a midtempo anthem. It is very accessible for new listeners and sounds familiar enough for the regular fans to get into it. Yet it also has a raw, alternative edge that makes it stand out among the other songs.

Goo Goo Dolls are often criticized for repeating the same trick over and over again, ever since they had success with Name and Iris. And while “Something..” has several songs that would fit with that train of thought, the Goo Goo Dolls show there is definitely more to them as the album offers a diverse palette of songs, some louder than others, some with an edge, some smooth and slick, but overall the band delivers an album that should probably be considered to be one of the better pop/rock albums of 2010.

So in conclusion, you can look at this album in two different ways. Because yes, it may largely be what you expected from the Goo Goo Dolls, but that’s their strength. They don’t go off doing fancy new things that don’t work for them. They know what they’re good at and they keep improving themselves at it. “Something For The Rest of Us” is a release deserving praise and it solidifies the Goo Goo Dolls’ status as one of the world’s first and foremost pop/rock bands.

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Life is Good Festival – Canton, MA

This past weekend, life was good for people at Blue Hills outside Boston. That’s because they were at the Life is Good Festival, a two-day concert event in Canton, MA. Headliners Jason Mraz and Ben Harper and Relentless 7 each closed out a night, and other feel-good acts like Ziggy Marley, Corinne Bailey Rae, and Ok Go got the crowd moving. Kids got their own section as well with games and bands. Food, drinks, games, shopping, and more could be found all around the grounds. And the best part? All proceeds from the festival went to The Life is Good Kids Foundation.

Chase Freedom cardholders got access to a special lounge and outdoor area with gadgets, food, and comfy couches to sit on and enjoy the music. They also held a few intimate acoustic performances with Guster and Brett Dennen.

If you weren’t able to attend, but would like to see how you can help, visit the foundation page.

More photos from the event can be seen here.

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Nathan Brooks – Dream In Truths
September 10, 2010

After reviewing a lot of singer/songwriter albums I sometimes get flashbacks or feelings like “wait, didn’t I hear this before”? While Nathan Brooks is relatively new on our radar, he manages to avoid these sentiments. With “Dream In Truths” he delivers a solid singer/songwriter disc.

With a mainstream pop/rock approach and relatable lyrics, Brooks manages to engage the listener quite directly. While there is definitely the influence of faith and religion in his music, Brooks is able to keep the lyrics open to interpretation in most of the songs. This makes the album more accessible for a wider audience and because the songs are quite direct and don’t have too many whistles and bells the songs have an honest and sincere quality.

Songs like Back Again, It’s Love and Forever Now have a kind of powerful ballad-like style, while (potential) radio singles like Soundtrack, Where To Begin and Worthy have a little more kick and tempo to them that gives the album the energy it needs.

But what struck me most while listening to “Dream In Truths” is the passion. In all the songs you can hear Nathan Brooks’ passion for music, for faith, for love, for life in general. I often say singer/songwriters need to bring something extra, something special to the table if they have the desire to make it in that highly competitive scene. Nathan Brooks has that, he literally pours his heart out on this record, and as he grows as a songwriter and a musician, I have a feeling this will only bring him more success.

But for now “Dream In Truths” is a strong record that may be a little bit safe here and there, but safe isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Music is like an organism, it develops and evolves and at this stage, “Dream In Truths” marks Nathan Brooks as a musician and it is a record that deserves recognition. Fans of artists like John Taglieri, Edwin McCain, Steven Curtis Chapman, Phil Wickham and Shawn McDonald are likely to be very happy to embrace this new and exciting artist.

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