New England is almost a world unto itself. Old, distinguished, cultured and largely isolated, it maintains an identity partly apart from the rest of America. It’s intelligent, very liberal and doesn’t have several nationwide restaurant chains. Driven by Boston, it also has enough Plymouth rock to melt your face a few times over. It’s a region close to my heart as someone who lives above it in the Maritimes. Historical and cultural ties abound, including my American TV affiliates all being Boston stations. So it’s good, and now let’s look at some rock music from there shall we?
Friday Night Lites
We’ll start with some Pine State pop-punk. This Portland, Maine five-piece are putting out their debut EP Wherever You May Be November 20th. The video for “Bases Loaded” dropped recently, with that baseball term seemingly being a metaphor for being at a breaking point. Baseball and pop-punk? I can get behind that combo.
We’ll keep the pop-punk (pizza party) going with Traditions, a sick band from Westfield, Massachusetts. Signed to the Bay State’s own Take This To Heart Records, their debut EP Cycles came out last year. It’s all good, but start with “Polarity”.
Boston-based Bellwire do power pop that has plenty of spastic moments and several tender ones too. Making use of open, largely faintly distorted chords, they’re undeniably indie and raw-sounding. They’re really a group that you listen to and feel like you’re at a show, and that’s fucking awesome – they almost have a Your Majesty-era Anniversary vibe. Bellwire have two EPs (2012’s Waterbed and 2013’s SummEP) behind them and a new album coming next year.
More Boston? More Boston. Five full-lengths into their career, the hardcore five-piece are now part of the Pure Noise roster. Their new covers EP ALT came out this month and features their spin on The Offspring, Smashing Pumpkins and others. They just started and are just about to end their CAN/AM tour, which has them in Buffalo tonight before Amityville and Poughkeepsie, NY the next two nights. If you live around there, you should go man.
Oh snap, New Hampshire time! LIVE FREE OR DIE, BABY! Hardcore of the more melodic variety comes from this Derry band, who have two songs up on their Bandcamp and have another coming out tomorrow according to their Facebook. Of course, their previous update said that was supposed to be tonight so who knows! It’ll be interesting to hear an album from these guys, for sure.
The Static Age
Now it’s off to Vermont, because you’re darn tootin’ we’re hittin’ all six New England states! Post-punk act The Static Age are Chicago-based but originally from Burlington, Vermont – about an hour and a half from Montreal. They’ve been a little quiet the last few years album-wise, but are working on one as we speak. They released a deluxe edition of their 2004 debut Neon Nights Electric Lives last year, so…there’s that. They do have a substantial back catalogue that you can enjoy in the meantime.
Oh Providence, Rhode Island…you are cool. Deer Tick are from there, and they’re cool too. The alt-rockers have strong hints of folk and other genres, with frontman John McCauley’s voice having a Dylan/Cobain quality to it. They have five full-lengths and other releases, and McCauley is married to Vanessa Carlton so that’s a good deal too.
The World Is A Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid to Die
Finally we end in the only New England state we haven’t covered: Connecticut. Part of the emo revival, TWIABP have WAY TOO LONG OF A NAME HOLY SERIOUSLY WHAT THE HELL, but also a huge, ever-evolving lineup that’s helped put out two well-regarded albums. Harmlessness just came out last month and Whenever, If Ever came out in 2013 while on Massachusetts-originated, San Diego-based Topshelf Records. The sophomore effort is more streamlined and evocative than the debut, and – in name alone, ha – you can’t call this group anything but ambitious.
“Hey, what about the Dropkick Murphys? What about Four Year Strong?” you may be saying to yourself. Listen, you know. They’re huge and solid, and Run For Cover Records is a major player too. And that’s just Boston! Every “Scene Specific” aims to cover not only the obvious choices, but some less so. New England is full of great music, and oh how about the bloody Berklee College of Music? Notable people learn there dawg. Okay go listen to these acts, and why not do it while watching the Patriots game that’s on at the time of this writing? That just works (and uh, go Dolphins…sorry!).