Let's face it, the Burlington rock scene has been a little bleak since the mid-'90s. While our phishy friends were bouncing around the country getting all the attention, it seemed like back at home local music went into a bit of a slumber. What's more, between increasing pressure from the liquor control board and the rampant popularity of DJ nights, some venues closed their doors to live entertainment altogether.
But lately a batch of new bands suggest the scene is coming out of hibernation. Call it a sonic spring. To help you go to the source of these sounds, we offer a brief look at seven groups stirring up the Champlain Valley.
THE STATIC AGE: This band parties like its 1982. With dark, gloomy production and plenty of pure despair, TSA make New Wave, well, new again. Frontman Drew Paley, formerly of retro-punks River City Rebels, groans through apocalyptic verses while casting off liquid guitar riffs. Adam Meilleur and Bobby Hackney Jr. keep the beat on bass and drums, respectively, and keyboardist Marie Whiteford anchors the sound with vintage 80s synth tricks.
The Static Age have played together for eight months, and are currently recording their debut album, to be released in early summer. They also plan to unleash two 7-inch singles this spring while hitting the road on a national tour. Though currently sidelined due to Hackneys broken ankle, The Static Age will make up lost time with spring gigs at The Space, 242 Main and Burlington City Hall Auditor-ium. For current info, visit the bands retro-chic Web site at www.thestaticage.com.
THE BILLIONAIRES: This quintet of Burlington music veterans aim to bring a bit of the west back east. With scorching, desert-baked licks and whining steel guitar, they careen through Western swing and hillbilly jazz. The band features Bill Mullins on guitar and vocals, David Kamm on steel guitar, Creston Lea on rhythm guitar, Kirk Flanagan on bass and Paul Gibson on drums.
Though they started playing together casually a couple of years ago, The Billionaires are cashing in on a recent flurry of activity. Theyve been laying down tracks for a possible album, and will open a few Northeast shows next month for Page McConnells Vida Blue. The guys will bring some down-home rockin to the upscale Waiting Room twice in April, and will play the Fools Gold benefit at Club Metronome on April 12.
CARRIGAN: The sound of the new Burlington may be one long, glorious drone. Carrigan are space-age post-rockers with a penchant for large, cresting waves of sound and airtight beats. Formed exactly one year ago, the group released its debut disc, a mini album, in January. Composed of Zack Martin on guitar and vocals, Jeb Interlandi on bass and Ken Johnson on drums, the group filters prog-rock through soaring melodies and layers of static hiss.
This spring these sonic adventurers are heading in new directions. Having just purchased a plush van, Carrigan plan to hit the road for a New England tour in summer. A Boston recording session is scheduled for this month to lay the groundwork for a future single. Work on a full-length album begins this fall. In Burlington, the trio will take on the mighty sound system at Club Metronome April 11, along with Concentric and Elementrix. For current info on Carrigan and other local sounds, check out Johnsons So Good Music site at www.sogoodmusic.com.
THE LAZY SONGWRITER: Brainchild of slacker-king Arthur Adams, The Lazy Songwriter produce smart pop-rock filled with bittersweet melodies and slanted wit. Jumping from aching ballads to humor-filled rants on rock stardom, punk and dope, TLS incorporate elements of 60s pop and Americana, and seem to view life through a childlike filter. Prone to constant shifts in instrumentation, the current lineup includes Adams on acoustic guitar and vocals, Ariel Bolles on trombone, vocals and handclaps, and Dave Stockhausen on guitar, banjo, drums and vocals.
Formed about a year ago, The Lazy Songwriter are belying their name with a current burst of activity. A single on local imprint Dangerfive Records will be released at the end of March, and the band is beginning preliminary work on an album to be home-recorded by Adams. TLS appear this Saturday at The Space, and March 30 at Radio Bean.
ELEMENTRIX: Rockin the block with old-school rhymes, Elementrix marries hip-hop philosophizing with live musicianship. The band believes Burlingtons self-indulgent jam-band days are numbered, and heralds the rise of new genre-bending sounds. Directly indebted to both The Beach Boys and Def Jux, Elementrix are bringing influences from 60s rock to post-rock into hip-hop styles that have nothing to do with race or class.
The five-month-old Elementrix have also been caught up in a recent rush of creativity; theyve even started practicing! Devon Ewalt and Daniel Gillian pass the mike, while Dan Schwartz, Andy Vick and Jeb Interlandi yeah, the same one as in Carrigan pump out the funk on guitar, drums and bass, respectively. Following the very recent demise of Schwartzs band The Dakota, Elementrix have redefined their focus. Theyre in the middle of recording a debut EP, and have gigs at Halvorsons and Club Metronome in April. Prepare to see hip-hop stripped to its roots and rebuilt from the ground up.
CONCENTRIC: With blips and bass and a lot of groove, the live trance stew of Concentric formerly Decepticon has been making a big, old analog splash around the hood. Combining the live prowess of The New Deal with the cerebral subtleties of post-rockers Tortoise, the Burlington band envelops listeners with its organic pulse. Texture is the key for this trio the music swells and crashes around the interrelated play of Tim Marcus guitar and synths, Tobias Rowers drumming and Aram Bedrosians bass.
Though formed just six months ago, the group evolved out of years of jamming between the three friends. Concentric hold court at Valencia about every three weeks, and theyll be part of the triple bill with Carrigan and Elementrix April 11 at Club Metronome. Concentric are also circling in on a debut disc, recorded at Marcus Milkman Studios. Its release will coincide with a fall tour.
EYE OH YOU: This band of hip-hop renegades is famous for its sweaty gigs at Red Square as part of The Grippo Funk Band. Recently, Eye Oh You took off on their own mission to bring classic hip-hop beats to the Burlington scene. MCs Fattie B. and Konflik spit intertwining poetic lines over the turntable wizardry of DJ A-Dog. Fluctuat-ing between all-out rap roof-raisers and chill, jazzy meditations, Eye Oh You never miss a beat.
Since breaking from Grippos group, Eye Oh You have become one of the busiest bands in the area. They perform three Thurs-days a month at Red Square, and have locked in opening slots for the likes of Guru and Brand Nubian at Higher Ground. The individual members are involved in multiple projects, too, including A-Dogs weekly sets at Club Metronome and The Waiting Room, and Fattie B.s residency as part of Metronomes Saturday night Retronome. Truly a live party band, Eye Oh You are beginning to record their weekly Red Square gigs for release on an upcoming album.