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Concert Reviews

Ryan Fitzsimmons with Dietrich Strause: “Cold Sky” Release Party at the Lizard Lounge

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If patience is a virtue, then Ryan Fitzsimmons had every right to throw a raucous jam Saturday night—celebrating the release of his new album “Cold Sky.” The Colossal CD Release Show at the Lizard Lounge feted the 7 year project with a host of friends, all whom helped work on the album. Dietrich Strause opened the night, and when Ryan took the stage he was joined by Jim Larkin, Fez Aswat, Danielle Miraglia, Tom Bianchi, Laurence Scudder and more for a night of fresh music and a damn good time.

Dietrich Strause’s opening set got the room’s blood flowing with 9 songs.  His selections from Laborsongs & Barkingdogs, plus a cover of Dylan’s Buckets of Rain pleased the crowd, and showcased Dietrich’s rich songwriting and masterful skill.

Ryan stepped up to the mic at twenty of 11, declaring that he hoped to induce his bassist’s wife’s labor. To kick things off, Ryan was joined by Laurence Scudder on the viola for a remarkable cover of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah.” Breaking from the lot of dreary done-to-death covers, this soulful rendition opened the floodgates for the show’s first half of gossamer folk and rock.

The band was used to full effect.  A clear example of the collaborative effort of all these musicians, they truly showed how harmonious and fluid the recording process was (“Cold Sky” was recorded in live takes). From the easy-going “Your State of Mind” to “Diamond Ring,” Ryan just rolled on through song after song with a slew of support: Danielle Miraglia on vocals, Fez Aswat on bass, Jim Larkin on the drums, Strause returning on trumpet, Tim Lewandowski with the trombone, and Tom Bianchi with the upright bass “of doom”.

If the first set was the cocktail hour, then the second was the fusion dinner of country/rock/folk with sides of psychadelia and Zydeco. Sonic reminders of The Eagles, The Rolling Stones, The Old 97’s, The Charlie Daniels Band and more filled the room with thumping beats.  Some songs, like “Guardian,” drew from Ryan’s personal life, touching on abstractions of his marriage, a mugging, and the loss of his dog. Fitzsimmons and company kept things rumbling with solos from Danielle, Laurence and Tom, bringing the party full circle.

Ryan’s show made a smooth transition from low key ethereal tracks to a harder rock sound that did “Cold Sky” serious justice. Two distinct halves of the album still worked as a whole, bringing the live sound to a higher level of effervescent energy.

Bravo, Mr. Fitzsimmons!

Concert Reviews

Jonah Parzen-Johnson at Lilypad

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Jonah Parzen-Johnson has an innate ability to make the baritone sax sound like bagpipes, and maybe that’s why I cried.

Mostly I cried because Jonah tells radiant stories with his saxophone and analog synth, working the brass and pedals to recreate the framework which surrounds his album Remember When Things Were Better Tomorrow: Parzen-Johnson wanted to make “something of myself that’s for everybody else.”

Jonah opened his set with “Stay There, I’ll Come to You,” showcasing the harmony between synth and sax right off the bat. With haunting lilts, the two combined into a ribbon of melody, pulsating inside the ear as well as the heart. Much like the song’s title, Jonah was the one approaching the audience as an experimental troubadour of tête-à-tête.

The back stories and thoughts behind each song tied in so well with the raw, almost throaty sax, developing such strong, emotional resonance with the musical layers. The skeleton shook.

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Concert Reviews

Speedy Ortiz “riiiiise above and gliiiiiide away” at The Sinclair

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The Sinclair was a packed house Wednesday night for the Speedy Ortiz CD release party; as a hometown gig for the Northampton, MA-based band, kinetic warmth buzzed through friends and fans alike as Sadie Dupuis and crew played their freshly-release Foil Deer track-by-track.

What’s a party without some guests, though? That’s where Krill and Mitski come in.

Krill kicked off the night with some tracks from A Distant Fist Unclenching, other goods from Lucky Leaves. Lead singer/bassist Jonah Furman brought to mind early (read: good) Billy Corgan, which I’m not sure he will appreciate. But I think he’ll appreciate this: I couldn’t stop laughing because then I kept thinking about Marilyn Manson telling Billy Corgan that he looked like Charlie Brown.

Opening with “Theme from Krill,” the Boston trio has a knack for rhythm and melody that burrows into your brain. The dreamy bleakness of “Purity of Heart.”  The discordant garage rock and hiccupping guitar and warbly Scooter-ness of “Foot.” Krill’s sound is a good, comfy noise that keeps you wiggling and all that good stuff. Be sure to catch the band at Boston Calling.

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Concert Reviews

Years & Years at Royale Boston

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During winter storm Juno, UK electro pop group Years & Years were forced to cancel the first show of their two-night stint in New York City back in January. After the snow finally melted, they made the rounds again this past March, playing several shows in California, South by Southwest before finally landing in Boston.

Due to popular demand, the show was moved from The Sinclair to the Royale in downtown’s Theater District.

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