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Superfrog -- Call from the Moon

I was pleasantly surprised when I received a package in the mail from the Portsmouth, NH-based band Superfrog. Not only had I been sent a copy of their latest release, Call from the Moon, but it was accompanied by a cover letter and very well-designed one-sheet. Call me old-fashioned, but I appreciate seeing a band put in the time and effort to distribute a physical press kit.

As for Call from the Moon, it was equally as impressive. I often find myself straying away from groups labeled “jam bands” because of their song lengths and superfluous instrumental solos. I love guitars, but seriously, who needs to hear a six-minute guitar or bass solo? My skepticism quickly dissipated as I listened to this record. I thought the band did an excellent job of showcasing their instrumental prowess without going overboard. They were able to produce tight, well-orchestrated songs while still demonstrating a mastery of their respective instruments.

In his cover letter, drummer Shane Cormer highlighted a few select tracks he felt were especially impressive on the album, and after listening to each of the songs, I find I am inclined to agree with his suggestions. I thought the second track, “Astronautical”, which was featured on Relix Magazine’s February/March 2010 CD sampler, was the best song on the record. I found the trumpet melodies to be quite infectious. The chorus really lifts the song up to another level, propelled by the entrance of perfectly placed back-up vocal harmonies and held down by an extremely tight rhythm section.

Based on what I heard from these songs, I would have to say that Superfrog has a great knack for crafting catchy and energetic choruses. “IOU1” is another track that demonstrates their propensity for great hooks. Their use of back-up vocals during the chorus of this song, coupled with a smooth trumpet line and “Fool-in-the-Rain-esque” drum groove, really gets this song stuck in your head.

Overall, I would have to say just one word can sum up Superfrog—professional. From the way they handle the distribution of their music to their creation of a brilliant blend of jam band-ska-rock, Superfrog has a sound that can certainly draw the interest of all kinds of different fans.--Daniel McMahon

Mätthew Griffin on music, writing, and being just some punk kid from Worcester.

Deli: How did you get started in music?

Mätthew: When I was pretty young, around 9 years old. Both my brother and father sang in a professional men & boys choir, which I joined soon thereafter. I recall there was a lot of singing practice after school and the Choir Master, professor Louis Curran, at WPI (Worcester Poly Technical Institute) was pretty grueling not only about practice, but also about conduct. The guy would throw a temper tantrum at the drop of a hat. But, it was an interesting "family activity" after my mother joined on to be the choir's secretary. We sang all the classics like Haydn, Bach, Mozart, in English, German, French, Italian, but mostly we sang in Latin. It was fun going on tour; singing in Montreal, Canada, at St. Joseph's Oratory; in Washington DC, at the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception; even singing a duet once of Sillent Night in German, with my brother on Christmas Eve, at St. Patrick's Cathedral, in New York City. I think I learned that night how to shit my pants [laughs].

Click here to read the rest of Chrissy Prisco's interview with Mätthew Griffin.

Photo credit: Molly McGrath

 

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Mätthew Griffin on music, writing, and being just some punk kid from Worcester.
by Chrissy Prisco

Deli: How did you get started in music?

Mätthew Griffin: When I was pretty young, around 9 years old. Both my brother and father sang in a professional men & boys choir, which I joined soon thereafter. I recall there was a lot of singing practice after school and the Choir Master, professor Louis Curran, at WPI (Worcester Poly Technical Institute) was pretty grueling not only about practice, but also about conduct. The guy would throw a temper tantrum at the drop of a hat. But, it was an interesting "family activity" after my mother joined on to be the choir's secretary. We sang all the classics like Haydn, Bach, Mozart, in English, German, French, Italian, but mostly we sang in Latin. It was fun going on tour; singing in Montreal, Canada, at St. Joseph's Oratory; in Washington DC, at the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception; even singing a duet once of Sillent Night in German, with my brother on Christmas Eve, at St. Patrick's Cathedral, in New York City. I think I learned that night how to shit my pants [laughs].

During that time I tried picking up a few instruments; violin; trumpet; clarinet; piano; recorder. Nothing really stuck with me. It's a shame, since I have a relative who was an original member of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. I have his 19th century autoharp sitting here next to me.

Deli: What was the first show you DJ'd? How old were you?

Mätthew: The first show I DJ'd was on WTBR.FM in Pittsfield, MA. It was one of two shows I was doing. One was a classical music show I did with a townie girl, who went to the public high school where the radio station was located; the second show I did was an "alternative" or "college rock" sort of show, mainly with that genre of music that was popular (?) at the time. There was a small room at the station with all the great new releases that were sent into the station, some of which have ingrained my musical tastes to this day: Mission UK First Chapter; Sisters of Mercy Black Planet; The Cure Standing On A Beach (singles collection); ...Mighty Lemon Drops; Flesh For Lulu; Gene Loves Jezebel; Peter Murphy; Siouxsie & The Banshees; Echo & The Bunnymen; The Godfathers; New Order; Hard-On's; Jesus & Marychain; Love & Rockets. I was 14 in 1987.

Deli: Have you always lived in Worcester?

Mätthew: That's where it gets tricky... My father was from Boston and my Mother from Chicago. Soon after they married and my brother was born, they moved to Worcester (much to my father's chagrin) and I was born and raised in Worcester until I was 13. At that point I was sent away to private school. This part coincides with my answer to the previous question; my first roommate at school was a punk. He got me into a lot of staples at the time, like Lords of the New Church; D.O.A.; The Banshees; The Cure; UK Subs; Minor Threat; Killing Joke. I guess you would call him a "Black Punk" or "Death Punk" back then. He and I would stay up late on a Sunday night to watch the Young Ones and then 120 Minutes on his little black and white TV and be groggy as Hell on Monday morning.

After I graduated from High School, I moved to back to Worcester and had a live-work studio at the Worcester Artist Group. I had a lot of fun living there. Shows were happening out in the main gallery all the time; Fugazi; Buffalo Tom; Sleep Chamber; Dinosaur JR, etc... After that era of the WAG closed down, I did the sofa tour for a while and ended up moving in with my friends Russ and Elodie in a 1 bedroom apartment in Allston, MA, in 1993. Well, technically it was 3 people in a one bedroom, but later turned into 5.

I moved back to Worcester for a short period in the mid-nineties, and then back again to Boston to take care of my father and his ailing health for 2 years, where upon I went into a downward spiral descending into Hell... After he passed away, I moved back to Worcester, MA, (The Seventh Gate). That's when things started picking up again for me, musically. I stuck with it for 5 years, then decided to move to Providence, RI. Prior to moving to Providence, I was putting on a lot of all ages punk shows with Brian Commando, front man of seminal Wormtown punk band The Commandos (and pretty much the guy who had invented the "all ages" scene in his basement in West Boylston, MA, the NME). It was a lot of fun and at the same time I was working in fine art restoration and decoration, under an Italian Master restorer. I made the decision to move to Providence, because the previous Mayor, Buddy Cianci, supported the economic development of the arts and I was convinced I would get a job in the arts once in Providence. Sadly, this was not the case. Be it the art scene or music scene, the people there have their claws dug so deep into whatever little thing they have, there is no room for anyone new. However, once moving to Providence, I was a writing correspondent for a time with ARTSCOPE Magazine, a fine art publication based out of Quincy, MA. My Editor at ARTSCOPE, Brian Goslow, is also a friend, and Editor and the Publisher at wormtown.org, an online publication dedicated to all things music in "WORMTOWN" (Worcester, MA). I wrote live reviews for Brian's site and after he had me join on with ARTSCOPE, that is where my professional writing career began. Soon thereafter, at the suggestion of Nancy Neon, NOISE Publisher Timothy Maxwell picked me up and I have been writing band features for the NOISE for 6 years now. Anyway, I moved back to Worcester in 2011 and have been happy with it ever since.

Deli: What was the music scene like when you started out? How has it changed? Is it better or worse?

The music scene when I started out? You mean like that trash on the TV like Toto; Asia; Journey; A-HA; Dexy's Midnight Runners; WHAM; Cyndi Lauper? That's the reason why I got into subculture and underground music. Once I started spinning records on air in '87, hair bands were all the rage. I can't get far enough away from a radio once Guns n' Roses is playing. If you are referring to the local music scene, things ARE very different. When there was a (all ages) show, EVERYONE was there. I'd even go to thrash shows, just for something to do and for somewhere to go.

Has the music scene changed? Yeah, it's changed alright. Evolution killed off the dinosaurs and now there is a new empire. It's a very cutthroat scene; a high school popularity contest, really. What also changes are tastes, like mine for example: I prefer to go to a Hardcore Punk show nowadays, as opposed to a goth dance night. It's just that I need something tangible, something real.

The music scene better or worse? Depends on genre and element I guess. I can only speak really of the scene (in my opinion) in New England. Goth is dead and the kids want to hear the beats of electronic dance music. There are VERY few live artists of the genre left, most of whom shrug off the whole "goth" tag. My friend, Jenn Vix is a good example of an artist who embraces her gothic influences, but moves into other territories as well. A good portion of her music is very dance club friendly, but it's also very dark and she makes it work; and quite successfully! Dreamchild is a wonderful duo from Boston, who produce some of the better live music I have heard in Boston in about 17 years. The Milling Gowns are ace; post-punk at its fucking best!

Deli: You've made a successful career for yourself over the past 25 years, are there specific people (musicians, venue owners, press/promoters) who have been especially supportive throughout the years?

Mätthew: Well, that depends on how you measure being "successful"? Do you mean money? What money? This is all really for fun. If I get a little cash out of it, hey--all the better. Specific supportive people in my life in the music scene? I'll shortlist this one: Brian Goslow; Anderson Mar, CEO of Dark Sky Productions; Jenn Vix; Steve Muccini & Al Nahabedian from Happy the Clown; J-ME Johnston from Industrial Sonic Echo; T Max & Nancy Neon at the NOISE; Ben Turk; My friends Russ; Brian Commando; Pierre-Emannuel; Frank; Christopher; (yeah, I guess I'll say it) my brother John; and countless bands...

Deli: A lot of the shows you put together seem to be of the "dark wave" and gothic genres, how did you get involved in that scene? What is its appeal to you?

Mätthew: Taking too much LSD while listening to Bauhaus as a teenager. I don't know if I could say that there is an appeal? I mean, it's who I am.

Deli: What would you say has been the pinnacle of your career thus far?

Mätthew: I believe my apex as far as gigs I'm DJ'ing now would be working with international acts: Chemlab; Assemblage 23; Android Lust; Ego Likeness; Holy Cow; PanzerBastard; The Queers; Angry Samoans; (world class dancer) Aepril Shaile; Athan Maroulis of Spahn Ranch and Black Tape For A Blue Girl... As far as Black Tape For A Blue Girl is concerned, I remember seeing Sam Rosenthal's (Black Tape's original/core member) record label Projekt Records, advertised in Alternative Press when I was a kid. Now I am working with him off and on at different gigs. He's even had me DJ his record label's festival "Projektfest" 2 years in a row now, both at the Trocadero Theater in Philly, then at the Middle East Downstairs in Cambridge, MA. It's like a dream coming to fruition!

As far as the writing aspect, I have been able to finally interview some of my local favorites over the decades. I ended up with the cover story on two them; One Of Us and Sleepchamber. I was even able to do a story on New England's voted #1 "Alternative" DJ, Chris Ewen. I've been supportive of Chris since the early 1990s and that support does come back. Recently, I was able again to spin beside him for the Xmortis goth and industrial night, held monthly at TT The Bear's place in Cambridge. I call that a "pinnacle". Why not?

Deli: What about the Worcester music scene is inspiring to you? What sets it apart from Boston? Have you ever thought about pursuing the same career in a different city?

Mätthew: The mediocrity of a good majority of the music and the scathing politics of the clubs. I started putting on shows purely to create entertainment for myself, and to show musicians and fans that it doesn't have to be a "one horse town". I started at WAG, went on to a gutted out church hall, with my business partner Brian Commando, at his request; to Veteran's club; to a Middle Eastern restaurant. Now there's a plethora of venues in Worcester for bands to play and for people to go to party! Also, people are bringing the shows back into the basements. It's fucking anarchy -and we don't care!

The difference between the two cities are snottier attitudes and cleaner clothes.

Doing my thing in a different city? I was thinking of Montreal. The scene there has always been thriving!

Deli: What is the most important thing you've learned -- or come to realize -- about working in the music industry? Do you feel your peers are genuine or making nice to further their own careers?

Mätthew: The same thing I learned working in the arts: when someone offers you a dollar--you grab it! I think there are a lot of phony people in general in whatever business you are in. I've lived away from home since I was 13, and I can size someone up REAL fast. When I am out somewhere and someone introduces me as to someone as "DJ" Mätthew Griffin, I always grab their hand and say "Hi, I'm Mätthew. Nice to meet you". Really, I'm just some punk kid from Worcester.

Deli: Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

Mätthew: Dead.

Deli: Parting words?

Mätthew: "Be exactly who you want to be, do what you want to do. I am he and she is she, but you're the only you." - Crass, Big A Little A


 

 

 
 

Matt Griffin

Photo credit: Molly McGrath

 
 
 

 

 
 

 

 
 
 

 

Concert Review: "Reykjavic Calling" Presented by 88.9 WERS @ Paradise, Saturday, March 3, 2012

What do you get when you mix four incredibly talented Boston-based artists, four incredibly talented Icelandic artists and one awesome local college radio station? If you were in attendance at The Paradise Saturday, March 3, you would know the answer to that question. For those of you who were unable to make it and are now relaying on my exquisite story-telling skills, I will now relay back to you all of events of that evening (or the most important ones anyway).

The event, dubbed Reykjavík Calling was organized by Emerson College’s WERS 88.9FM, and showcased up-and-coming talent from the local and Icelandic music scenes. The show opened with Boston musician Amory Sivertson, her producer/fellow musician Mike Moschetto and Icelandic native Lay Low.

Click here to read the rest of Daniel McMahon's review.

Photo Credit: Erin Abraham

 

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Concert Review: "Reykjavic Calling" Presented by 88.9 WERS @ Paradise, Saturday, March 3, 2012
by Daniel McMahon

What do you get when you mix four incredibly talented Boston-based artists, four incredibly talented Icelandic artists and one awesome local college radio station? If you were in attendance at The Paradise Saturday, March 3, you would know the answer to that question. For those of you who were unable to make it and are now relaying on my exquisite story-telling skills, I will now relay back to you all of events of that evening (or the most important ones anyway).

The event, dubbed Reykjavík Calling was organized by Emerson College’s WERS 88.9FM, and showcased up-and-coming talent from the local and Icelandic music scenes. The show opened with Boston musician Amory Sivertson, her producer/fellow musician Mike Moschetto and Icelandic native Lay Low. Amory and Lay Low get my vote for the best vocal performances of the evening. Their voices seemed to complement one another in a way that would make you think they had been playing music together for years. Amory’s bright, theatrical vocals blended beautifully with Lay Low’s folk-infused guitar playing and Joanna-Newsom-esque vocal qualities. According to Sivertson, the Icelandic performers arrived in Boston only three days before the show, and while there were plenty of glances shared between Sivertson and Lay Low during the performance as if to say “I think we missed a chorus,” those looks only added to the authenticity and genuinely good-natured atmosphere of the evening.

Following Sivertson and Lay Low was Iceland’s own Soley Stefansdottir who shared the stage with David Munro, Casey Sullivan and Steve Scott (members of Air Traffic Controller). Stefansdottir’s eerie piano and vocal loops provided a very interesting contrast to the blue-grass/folk sounds of Munro, Sullivan and Scott. Stefansdottir’s use of live-looping effects techniques were quite impressive, especially during her song “I Drown,” where she layered nearly half a dozen vocal sounds over one another to create a brilliant backbeat for her haunting piano melodies.

Third in the line-up was the duo of Will Dailey from Boston and Petur Ben of Iceland. Dailey and Ben were perhaps the tightest performers of the night. Like Sivertson and Lay Low earlier in the evening, Dailey and Ben played their songs and interacted on stage like two musicians who have worked together for decades, rather than a mere three days. Dailey’s brand of bluesy, tremolo guitar rock was a great match for Ben’s relaxed, smooth playing style.

The highlight of their set came before Ben played one of his songs. He quieted the crowd and explained that the song he was about to play is usually very well received back in Iceland. It is so well-liked, he said, that the crowd becomes so quiet that he is able to play completely unplugged in front of a large crowd and they are still able to hear him play. He then asked if the crowd was willing to have him play acoustically, and when the crowd cheered, he unplugged his guitar and started to play. I must admit, I was in awe that several hundred people (mostly Bostonians) could be capable of being so quiet during a rock show. The only noise that came from the crowd was during the choruses, when Ben gestured to the crowd to sing along with him, and they shouted out every word in unison with both Ben and Dailey.

Rounding out the evening’s performances were Eli “Paperboy” Reed of Boston and Mugison, winner of five “gongs” at this year’s Icelandic Music Awards, including one for Album of the Year. Mugison and Reed did not collaborate on stage as did the other three sets of performers, but each took definitive control of the audience during their respective sets. Mugison’s bluesy, Black Keys-style rock n’ roll was fantastic. He was the stand-out performer of the evening, with plenty of on-stage antics to back up his impressive guitar skills. At one point during his set, several members of the audience were yelling to Mugison to play a song in Icelandic. He replied that while he was unable to play the specific song at that moment, after the show he would put on an encore performance in the women’s bathroom. Sure enough, at the end of the show, Mugison made good on his promise, playing an Icelandic folk song to a packed crowd of both sexes in the women’s bathroom.

Reed’s performance was certainly captivating as well. He played solo, but his Little Richard/Isley Brothers vocals and Buddy Holly looks commanded the type of attention that even a five piece band would struggle to achieve. Reed is one of the very few artists that has really mastered a great rock n’ roll scream. His vocals could easily be mistaken for something off of a 1950s greatest hits record.

The most powerful performance of the night came during the finale. Reed stood alone on-stage and began Ben E. King’s “Stand By Me.” Soon after the start of the song, Mugison came back out and joined Reed in the song. Towards the end of the song, Sivertson returned to the stage, tambourine in-hand, and finished off the performance with Mugison and Reed. Then, all of the other performers joined Reed, Mugison and Sivertson in singing The Band’s “I Shall Be Released.” I felt like I was witnessing a modern-day version of The Last Waltz as I watched all of the performers smiling and belting out the words to each chorus.

Overall, I was exceedingly pleased with the concert. All of the artists were so immensely talented that it was a pleasure to watch them all as they took part in a truly unique collaborative effort. If this show is to serve as an indicator of the progression of the Boston music scene, I am eager to see what kinds of innovative performances are in store for the future.

 

 
 

Reykjavik Calling

Reykjavik Calling

Photo Credit: Erin Abraham

 
 
 

 



 

 

 
 
 

 

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