Soundbites: State of the Onion (City); You Say Tomato | Music News + Views | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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Soundbites: State of the Onion (City); You Say Tomato


  • Courtesy Of Luke Awtry Photography
  • Brian Nagle, aka DJ Disco Phantom

Howdy, folks! I hope you all had a restorative and satisfying holiday season. Now that we're into the second week of the New Year, you've probably settled into your routine and are sick of reading the never-ending parade of annual recaps and prognostications about the year to come. I apologize for stretching it out a little bit more.

My predecessor, Dan Bolles, was fond of writing predictions about the local music scene, which were sometimes serious and other times facetious AF. I'll spare you my own prophecies for now, satirical or otherwise. But I do have a couple of hopes for 2018.

One of my most burning desires is to hear some proper recordings from Julia Caesar. Don't get me wrong: I get great pleasure from seeing them perform and listening to the various live recordings that are available on the internet. But I'm overwhelmed with curiosity as to what a bedroom recording would even sound like, let alone a studio record. What choices would they make? Which songs from their ever-growing catalog would make the cut? Seriously, JC: No pressure. I just like y'all a whole dang lot.

Another somewhat related hope: I would love to receive more album submissions from female-identifying and gender-nonconforming artists. After taking a quick look at the albums we reviewed in 2017, only about 15 percent had a strong female presence. I'd love to see that percentage go up.

And I know I'm not alone here. Seven Days arts writer Sadie Williams noted in her December 6 story about the Facebook group Sensi-Babeington that Burlington's prince of twang, Eric George, dispatched a similar plea to that forum. He encouraged more diversity at Radio Bean's monthly open mic night, which he hosts. According to the piece, George's appeal was at least moderately successful. Perhaps mine will be, as well.

State of the Onion (City)

One hot piece of news that came in too late to make it into our final issues of 2017 was a major announcement from the Monkey House in Winooski. The Onion City hot spot has a new talent buyer, and he's a scene favorite: Brian Nagle — aka DJ Disco Phantom. The vinyl champion broke the news on social media just a few days before the end of the year.

It's an exciting development — if not somewhat predictable. Just like the two talent buyers who preceded him, Paddy Reagan and Matt Rogers, Nagle is a founding member of Waking Windows Presents, the team behind a buttload of the area's most cutting-edge indie music shows — not to mention its multiday music festivals in Winooski, Detroit and Portland, Maine.

Nagle plans to continue what we all love about the Monkey: a splendiferous mix of regional and national talent that also leaves room for the local scene to thrive. In an email to Seven Days, he also notes that he hopes to bring in more live electronic/dance music acts, which he feels are underrepresented in the area.

The new booker's first crop of shows begins this week: Washington State's Karl Blau and Heatwarmer hit the stage on Saturday, January 13, with support from locals Paper Castles; Philadelphia's Ramona Córdova and Sarah M. perform on Monday, January 15, with Burlington-based singer-songwriter Ivamae; and Montréal post-punks Blanka stop by on Wednesday, January 17, with local dance-spazzes Appalled Eagles and DJ sets from the Phantom himself. (Also, check out Blanka's spotlight.)

And just in case you were wondering: Nagle's new positions won't interfere with his jam-packed DJ schedule. He'll still be out and about eight nights a week.

Ska'd for Life

I remember a time in popular music when the guitar chords always landed on the offbeat, horn sections were large and in charge, and bowling shirts weren't just for league night. I'm talking about the brief period when third-wave ska reached its peak in the 1990s. Practically every musician I knew back then was in or associated with a band that had either the word "tones" or "ska" in its name. But, like all trends, the genre eventually fizzled and faded from the mainstream. Shortly after the turn of the century, ska was a fuzzy, two-toned memory.

Given that nostalgia is the thing now, I suppose a night of noskalgia is in order. (See what I did there?) On Thursday, January 11, Gang of Thieves' Taylor Whipple and Tobin Salas, former GoT members Nate Reit and Sean Kehoe, and Swimmer's Matt Dolliver join forces at Nectar's in Burlington for an epic night of throwback jams, dubbed simply Ska Party! Expect to hear the music of the Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Less Than Jake, Reel Big Fish and others — and maybe No Doubt, if we're lucky.

You Say Tomato

One frustrating thing about print media is that there's only so much space on the page. Only the most important parts of an interview will appear in a Q&A, and huge chunks of conversations are routinely cut. But, once in a while, we find a way to repurpose some of the "scraps."

Back in November, while writing a profile of singer-songwriter Stephanie Heaghney, I spoke with a few of her bandmates from JUPTR — the neo-soul outfit that kinda, sorta used to be Smooth Antics. And by that I mean that Smooth Antics is over, and JUPTR is the sexy phoenix that's risen from its ashes. You can see what all the hype (that I'm trying to generate) is all about when they perform on Saturday at Nectar's.

Nearly all of that conversation with the bandmates was cut from the profile. But now that JUPTR are taking the spotlight once again, I thought it prudent to revisit a particularly juicy analogy keyboardist Derek Rice served up regarding what to expect from future performances.

"If your mom asked you to go out and pick some tomatoes from the garden for a salad, and on the tomato plant there are only five ripe tomatoes and the rest are either underripe or rotten — but you need 10 tomatoes for your salad — your salad's not going to be that good," said Rice. "We're hoping to ripen up a whole bunch of tomatoes before making our next salad, if you know what I mean."

"These are heirloom tomatoes, too," added bassist Mike Dondero. "[They're] very unique to us. And we're still trying to find the right sound. Some of the music we played that night [at Foam Brewers] is starting to feel like what we're going for."

Who's hungry?

Listening In

If I were a superhero, my superpower would be the ability to get songs stuck in other people's heads. Here are five songs that have been stuck in my head this week. May they also get stuck in yours. Follow sevendaysvt on Spotify for weekly playlists with tunes by artists featured in the music section.

Yung Lean, "Red Bottom Sky"

Gabriel Garzón-Montano, "My Balloon"


Demon Days, "Lost in Translation"

Pierre Kwenders, "Woods of Solitude"