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Justin Levinson and The Valcours @ The Lizard Lounge Saturday, March 10

Justin Levinson and The Valcours will be performing Saturday, March 10 at The Lizard Lounge. The show is celebrating the release of Levinson's latest album, This Side Of Me, This Side Of You, a ten-song ode to love and its repercussions. Dressing his distress in an eclectic mix of piano, loud guitars, horns, strings, and dreamy harmonies, the album also features contributions from acclaimed singer/songwriters Will Dailey (MA), Gregory Douglass (VT), and Liz Longley (PA).

Other supporting acts for The Lizard Lounge appearance include Yellowbirddd (NY) and The Days Weight (MA). Show is 21+ and $10 dollars at the door.

Cheerleader -- Do What You Want EP

It was Elizabeth Wurtzel who coined the term “Prozac Nation” to describe the state of the country living in the post behavioral medication boom of the 90’s, a time that spawned a new breed of diagnosed 9 to 5's living in a limbo of euphoric depression. So it is that this populace needs what every other has before it: music to dance to. So it is the New Wave movement -- which formed in the post punk boom of Joy Division and The Smiths, peaked in the 80’s with The Eurythmics and R.E.M., and was born again in the new millennium within bands such as MGMT and the New York City two pieces -- makes it’s church in this era of ambivalence. This religion of moody dance music now finds itself two more promising disciples in Hartford, Connecticut’s Donovan Rex and Max Friday, the equal parts of the electronic duo Cheerleader.

In preparation of their premier full-length album, Do What You Want, the partners in crime have put out a three-song sampler in order to give the public at large something to get excited about. The EP works as a good introduction to the band’s sound. The title track is reminiscent of such out of town acts as The Church or Echo and The Bunnymen, with the lyrics grounding the band as good ol’ New England boys with the lyrics “I feel like driving/up Massachusetts/barely surviving/and feeling useless”. The three songs flow together well with a mix of clap-your-hands beats and lost-in-the-ether vocals that make for a solid mix of dance and daze and shows great promise for the upcoming full length. Anyone who believes in the Old Testament of New Wave based in The Cure and Depeche Mode or any new converts from the new indie found movement within Cults or Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeroes would be well advised to check them out.--Anthony Geehan

The Sinbusters -- Second Coming

From the moment I heard the amp buzz on the opening track of Second Coming, I knew The Sinbusters were going to be full of raucous, rowdy energy. While the album is short (no track is over 2:30 in length), the band manages to leave a lasting impression on the listener with their classic, hard-nosed punk rock style. The Lowell-based quintet is heavily versed classic punk rock, while borrowing occasionally from other genres. One example of this mixing of styles would the fourth track on Second Coming, “Gimme the Word.” The track, a surf rock-ish groove mixed with a bit of a The Kinks, had me dancing in my seat and longing for the days when I would frequent basement punk rock shows.

I especially loved the distorted organ the band incorporates in many of the tracks on this album. I think it adds depth to the tracks and really thickens the sound of the album.  The second song on the album, which also happens to be the title track, is my favorite on this record.  “Second Coming” showcases the organ well and really highlights the lead vocals in a Stooges/Iggy Pop-like style. I could practically feel myself being pushed around in the mosh pit as I listened to this song.

Overall, I thought Second Coming was an excellent album. The band has managed to produce a punk rock album that stays true to its roots--while adding their own original touch--keeping the songs from sounding too mundane. Be sure to check out Second Coming (as well as some of the band’s older material) on their bandcamp page and keep an ear out for their next live appearance in the New England area.--Daniel McMahon

A Wilhelm Scream opens for Less Than Jake Sunday, Feb. 19 @ MIddle East Downstairs (SOLD OUT)

Less Than Jake will be playing a sold-out show this coming Sunday, February 19, at The Middle East Downstairs in Cambridge, MA with local hardcore punk rockers A Wilhelm Scream (pictured above).

Initially, I found myself a bit perplexed at the notion of Less Than Jake sharing a stage with a hardcore punk band such as Wilhelm, but then I realized how truly awesome that combination will be. Wilhelm has been playing hardcore music and steadily making a world-wide name for themselves for the better part of a decade (the band has toured internationally many times and will be embarking on another European tour in March). The band mixes punk and hardcore rhythms with a speed and intensity that is truly remarkable. Each of their records is full of complex riffs and technical perfection.

Less Than Jake is a band that needs little introduction. A popular ska/punk band for over two decades, they will certainly command attention when they take the stage Sunday night. Their use of trombone and sax really carries their songs, adding an extra blast of intensity to their distorted, punk influenced guitar riffs.

The show starts early, with doors at 6:30pm.--Daniel McMahon

Caliph, Gates, and ChizMac -- "Going Heavy"

The newest collaborative effort from Gates, ChizMac and Caliph—three rap artists from New Bedford, MA—has proven an immense success, from both a musical and business standpoint. The track, titled “Going Heavy,” has had over 2,000 hits on Youtube since it first dropped on January 19 of this year. According to Gates, the song was an attempt increase the buzz around his, Caliph’s and ChizMac’s own side-projects. In a conversation via Facebook, Gates explained that the group “came together and tried to make an anthem,” and judging by the tremendous online response, I’d say they have succeeded. “Goin Heavy” is a perfect balance of cocky rhymes and a powerful hook, anchored down by an unrelenting bass and snare drum-driven back-beat.

I was most impressed by the style and flow from this group. It’s clear from Caliph’s immediate entrance at the start of the video that these artists have an expert grasp on what makes an effective song (and video) and know how to portray that to the public. All three rappers are extremely animated in the delivery of their lines, each making witty, sometimes harsh commentary on their surroundings. Each member has a level of confidence and poise seldom found in the independent rap game. It was quite satisfying to hear such lyrical command coming from an indie rap trio.

If “Going Heavy” has you looking for more slick rhymes from this crew, each artist will be releasing his or her new material in the coming months. You can find updates about Gates on his Youtube Channel (http://www.youtube.com/user/G5Gates?feature=watch), Caliph at akacaliph.com and ChizMac at chizmac.com.--Daniel McMahon


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