The Milk Crate staff’s favorite tracks of the week, presented with blurbs worthy of a promotional sticker on a jewel case. Tune in Fridays from 2-3 EST to the Staff Pix radio show.
Paper Lady, the immortal crone of Allston led by stellar siren Alli Raina is a band with undeniably gorgeous, witchy hits. Residing at the well-loved Tourist Trap house show venue in Allston, the band is active throughout the Boston underground scene, and has recently toured with The Beaches and Trophy Wife. The track “Absentee” is fresh and beautiful, as the band’s production blends effortlessly with Raina’s magical voice and wistful lyricism. When the chorus goes “Taking more than you gave me/but who can blame the absentee,” I can’t help but feel as though the band’s music could echo through stadiums, it is so unique yet honest and relatable. For now, Paper Lady’s music coats the sticky, wet walls of Allston basements, catch them live when it only costs $10 to do so.
As I write this and listen to the song, I can’t help but involuntarily bob my head back and forth to the beat of “Weekend at Andy’s.” From their first EP, The Most Beautiful Moth in America, this guitar-heavy tune tells the story of movie-star-wannabe Andy. This idea of Andy feels like a joke in itself, where the lyrics talk about how he was born to be this beautiful Hollywood golden child, but doesn’t do anything about it. He has the look, does the same stereotypical things that movie stars do, and yet it seems as though he either doesn’t care or just is giving up on those dreams, “Andy looks so cool / Slathered in sunblock, dripping with drool.” Something about the use of the name Andy and being a “star” reminds me of The Killers song “Andy, You’re a Star,” which is a song all about a guy that bullied lead singer Brandon Flowers in high school. Something about both songs feels like a mockery of superstar-wannabes who can’t seem to stop sucking as people. However, putting these people in their places will never not be a win for the underdogs.
I first heard “Is She Weird” in the 2001 movie On the Edge, which I found in full length on Youtube with its questionable streaming quality. Regardless of the iffy streaming conditions, I got far enough into the film where I heard a series of odd-sounding chords, peculiar vocals, and strange lyrics that only enticed me to Shazam and add to my Spotify library. Upon a second listen, I appreciated the song’s weirdness a lot more, and eventually, its nagging chorus turned into a catchy, memorable set of words I sang along to. The lyrics have an odd personality within themselves and repeat a total of twelve times. However, while the repetition can be a bit frustrating, I find myself nodding my head back and forth to the beat of the song; it’s just too good.
Kaveh Hodjat (he/him), who goes by the stage name of Dejima for his music, is a sophomore at Emerson College that makes soft rock-esque music that I can only pin down as a dream-poppier Wallows with some Gus Dapperton tones at time. His most popular song, “Cool It,” has garnered 1.2 million streams on Spotify since it was released in mid March this year and rightfully so. The song is sexy, sultry, and very cool. The laidback guitar backing track is layered with slow but impressive riffs that close out this under two minute song. The two verses of lyrics in the song are a drawn out, soft questioning of “While I’ve been gone, what have I missed my dear? /Have you been fond of the time I’m not near?” While the song is short, his future as an artist seems to be quite the opposite. Dejima released a three-song EP in April that demonstrated his ability to span genres and the exciting growth he is destined for as an artist in the future.
Recent Berklee College graduate McKenzie Iazzetta, better known by her stage name Trophy Wife, put out her second EP Voyeur earlier this week. Iazzetta is now based out of Brooklyn, New York, but she undoubtedly got her start here in Boston and its DIY scene. While the new EP definitely stays true to Trophy Wife’s typical sound — heavy instrumentals and emotional lyrics — Iazzetta pushes herself in new directions, demonstrating how much of a powerhouse vocalist she truly is. “Leech” is the most experimental out of these five songs, opening with a solo bass line and soft vocals before erupting into this darkly robust ballad about a toxic relationship. If you have the opportunity to see Trophy Wife — she recently finished a mini fall tour around New England/the Northeast, including an opening set for Canadian rock band Beaches at Brighton Music Hall — please take advantage of it! She and her band are incredible performers, commanding whatever venue their in with ease and grabbing the audience’s attention from start to finish.
I really should have chosen Cadderwall’s song “massachusetts” for this Boston-themed Staff Pix, but I simply love the Northeastern graduate’s lyricism in “New Jersey/Careful Chaos” too much to forgo a blurb about it. At any rate, the song still references house parties in Allston! This song came to mean a lot to me during COVID, when I fled Boston and took a year off school. I missed the music scene of the city I’d grown to know desperately, and remote Zoom meetings with the members of Milk Crate were my one tether to a community. When editing an interview with Cadderwall our then-staffer Annie Wojnarowski wrote, I listened through the scattering of EPs musician Clem Cahill has released and found a warm sense of comfort. “New Jersey/Careful Chaos” was instantly familiar, drenched with the sense of peaceful melancholy I’ve only ever known on cold late-night walks towards the Green Line. It’s the most stripped-down song Cadderwall has released, needing nothing more than a guitar to carry the weight of Cahill’s tender imagery.
Despite being a mere train ride away from New York City, Boston has never really received its flowers in regards to the city’s contributions to hip-hop. For decades, up and coming rappers from Boston have had to put in significant work to gain the slightest amount of recognition, and usually end up leaving the city in favor of larger cultural hot-spots. In the case of Boston rapper King Brickz, despite recently relocating to Atlanta, Boston still remains at the heart of his lyrics, videos, and overall branding. Over the past few years, Brickz has jostled his way into the Boston spotlight through constant mixtape releases and collaborations, and while his work has yet to truly reap the fruits of labor, his music shows significant potential. The single “Pop Warner”, featuring fellow Boston MC Claybourne Vel, is an excellent example of the sort of music Brickz and his collaborators have been putting out on a consistent basis. The beat is a pitch-shifted soul sample guided by tight drum-work, and makes for an effectively cinematic back-drop for the two rappers to paint over. Lyrically, their deliveries, cadences, and flows are both well-executed and well-thought out, making it clear just how much work these artists are putting into low budget, low recognition tracks. It’s not anything cutting edge for hip-hop as a whole, but it doesn’t need to be. There’s a realness that can be felt through the track in a way that many larger rappers simply can’t provide, and while aspects of the song might sound a little cliché or overproduced, it’s ultimately a testament to the drive and ambition of underlooked artists in an underlooked city putting in the work to release quality music at a consistent level. Hopefully, King Brickz will continue to see success, and he and his team will be able to elevate Boston hip-hop to higher stages of notoriety and recognition. Until then, “Pop Warner” is an excellent place to start.
Makeout Palace check a great many “classic emo” boxes. Singing bassist? Check. Overly verbose full-sentence song titles? In spades. Abrupt, unexpected ending to the song? That’s there too. However, The Midnight Show, their first and only full-length release (which, let’s face, is something of a rarity for local bands), isn’t just a collection of tunes written by the trio in their three years together - it’s a concept album! The record is, in its own narrative fiction, a live record, recorded at a theatre on the moon for a lunar audience. It’s not a particularly intrusive concept, but the 30-second interlude tracks peppered throughout its runtime keep the listener reminded of Makeout Palace’s standout creativity — in addition to the deceptively complex genre-bending riffage and sardonic but earnest songwriting. “I Think We Should Try to Have Kids” exemplifies what the group calls in their Spotify bio “sasquatch rock” (a curiously similar moniker to last-gen Bostonians Kudgel’s “chimp rock”), a mix of stabbing staccato guitar, grungy, overdriven bass and primate-level physical drumming. However, there’s also a palpable sincerity and earnestness to it, a commitment and belief in every musical idea that’s nothing short of charming. Plus, they’re great live.
As a part of their latest EP Fork, Marry, Killbassa! local Boston group Talk Chalk released “Sk8 Boi” September 1, 2022. The title may be reminiscent of Avril Lavigne’s “Sk8er Boi,” but the song offers a new and unique sound. Although slowed down, there are a multitude of sounds overlapping each other, creating a rich listening experience. There is a wonderful mix of guitar solos and drums. Crystal Araiza’s vocals are amazing, shifting from moody to loving to angry. The song is a dialogue directed towards the “Sk8 Boi” himself. The lyrics mainly consist of questions towards the stereotypical skater boy: “Do you like your hair long? / Or do you just not care?” But as the song progresses the lyrics become much more targeted. The song culminates with lyrics such as, “Skate boy, don’t come down my street / Skate away from me.” “Sk8 Boi” is a melodic yet head banging song that will have you listening to it on repeat.
When I saw Matilde Heckler’s first performance back in September of 2021, I didn’t know if I wanted to be her or be her friend. Heckler’s first single, “I Think I’m Doing Better Alone Again,” was highly anticipated by her followers, like me, and was well worth the wait. Since its release in late 2021, the song has gained over 25,000 listens and that number only continues to climb. Heckler writes all her songs, and leads her band on violin. Her style has a basis of midwest emo, hence her song “Emo Needs More Fucking Girls,” in which she sings about the feminine power in the rock music scene. However, Heckler adds personal twists on the style, and once explained to me in an interview how her style is not limited to midwest emo. In that interview, she put an emphasis on how her music is meant to communicate with others and is deeply personal so that her listeners feel connected and less alone in their experiences. Especially those who have experienced rejection or disrespect from the world around them, such as the music industry. I love Matilde Heckler and her music, and I would highly recommend checking out her music on Spotify, or if you’re local to Boston, checking out a show. 🙂
Though they’ve assumed a new name (calling themselves Knot since 2020) Krill’s 2011 indie breakthrough, Alam no Hris, is finally on popular streaming services for the very first time. The Allston trio whose music evokes the durgy, lo-fi, indie rock of the early to mid-90s (think Pavement, Royal Trux, Yo La Tengo, etc) while being so heart on its sleeve that it somehow becomes fresh all over again. Nowhere is that better seen than fan favorite and lead single “Solitaire”. Atop a buzzy bassline so wonderfully over blown it feels like your ear is smushed up against the amp, singer Jonah Furman laments “Thought about how I wanted to / Love you enough to miss you”. In the wrong hands, this could come off melodramatic and corny. However, under the band’s bouncy and often not too serious sound and appearance, it just seems charming. So much so, in fact, that ten years seemed to have barely made a dent in how timeless this track feels.
My friends, I love this Boston-based band so much – they’ve got such heart, soul, and a cracking talent for playing to the human experience. They are definitely on my list of acts to see sometime; waiting for the day that our paths collide. If anyone else is into the Dead/jam rock sound, feel free to board this musical wagon bound for good times. Your boarding pass is the play button before you, and this is most definitely a non-stop service from Boston to spatial orbit. “Follow Me Down” comes from their November 2020 album Astronomy Man. Happy listening 🙂
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