Tagged: Sydney Moyer

MUSE: a review of Hem’s new album, “Departure and Farewell”

By Sydney Moyer, Staff Writer

Hem has always remained up there on my list of top bands to fall asleep to, and with the newly released Departure and Farewell, their sixth studio album, they reaffirm their position.

Full of softly whispered lyrical content about loss and heartbreak, the album quietly winds its way through its rotation steady and predictable as a sleep cycle. While perhaps the descriptor “predictable” is generally connoted as negative when it comes to new music, in this case, it’s comforting. It’s the soothing sense of having one’s average expectations met exactly and nothing more.

Hem’s biggest claim to fame is perhaps Liberty Mutual’s use of their song “Half Acre” (off of 2002’s Rabbit Songs) in a successful spot that ran frequently on network television last year. The commercial featured several vignettes of strangers saving each other from small daily disasters in a pay-it-forward type capacity, and Hem’s timeless soft folk served as the perfect soundtrack for such a scene.

When listening to Hem, one can’t help but conjure images of grassy fields softly blowing in the breeze or something equally stock-image folky. It’s definitely not what one would think a band from Brooklyn would sound like, but maybe Hem’s sound was a solace, a refuge from the noise of the city. At least, that’s what it’s become for me.

Hem is bringing their whispery folk magic to The Sinclair in Cambridge on June 1. Listen to a playlist of their music below.


MUSE: A review of Sigur Rós at Agganis Arena

By Sydney Moyer, Staff Writer

I walked into Agganis Arena on Tuesday to watch Icelandic post-rock group Sigur Rós, my favorite band to fall asleep to, not knowing what to expect. I had heard many positive reviews of their live act, but wondered how their effervescent, largely foreign sound would work in an arena show.

What I got was an intricate, multi-layered wall of sound that included string and horn sections and the ethereal howl of a bowed guitar that meshed perfectly with frontman Jónsi Birgisson’s haunting falsetto. Sigur Rós is undoubtedly making some of the most original music out there today, and as such I can’t even really accurately compare it to anything I’ve ever heard or seen live, and as many descriptors as I can try to use, I probably won’t be able to do it justice.

The band began their set playing behind a three-sided mesh curtain onto which an eerie light show was projected, a curtain which dramatically fell to reveal the 10+ piece band during “Vaka.” As the band wound their way through a set which largely blended together for me (because I’m basic and I need lyrics in English to distinguish songs from one another), a huge LED display behind them projected ambient lights and swirling projections of smoke, fields, cliffs, water… basically every arty scene in nature that one’s mind would probably conjure while listening to Sigur Rós anyway.

In that sense, the performance was perfect— but it almost felt more like performance art than a concert. Sigur Rós crafts undeniably beautiful music, arguably the best of the ambient/post-rock vein, but for their intricate sound to work, each member of the band had to be so intensely focused on the music that they didn’t leave much room for improvisation or stage presence. In short, it felt completely unlike any concert I had ever been to— I felt more like I was watching someone work to put on an act than witnessing the emotive release that usually accompanies a band’s live performance.

Regardless, it’s incredible that bands like Sigur Rós, who are doing something so original and, let’s just say it, weird, can fill up a venue like Agganis Arena and captivate audiences in a way that only acts like the Stones or The Who could have done thirty years ago. It’s also amazing that lighting and production technology has come so far as to immerse the arena in an otherworldly experience that puts the music itself on a whole other level of performance. I wouldn’t recommend going to see Sigur Rós if you’re looking for a heartfelt, emotive show, but if you’re looking to see incredible talent and a visually stunning light show, I don’t think there’s a better act around.
Music video for the song “Vaka,” by Sigur Rós

MUSE: Milo Greene at The Sinclair

By Sydney Moyer, Staff Writer

I’ve loved Milo Greene ever since 2011, when they were newly formed and touring with The Civil Wars. To this day, they remain the greatest opening act I’ve ever seen, and now that they’ve put out their debut LP and embarked upon their first headlining tour, it’s a real treat to see them sell out larger venues like The Sinclair on Friday night all by themselves. Milo is undoubtedly one of the better bands to emerge from the folk revival that has evolved over the past several years, and every time they come to Boston, they kill it. Click on the photo below to check out a slideshow of the night.

CLICK THE PHOTO to see a full Flickr slideshow

CLICK THE PHOTO to see a full Flickr slideshow

Review: Purity Ring at the House of Blues

By Sydney Moyer, Music Editor

Vocalist Megan James of Canadian duo Purity Ring/ PHOTO BY Sydney Moyer

Vocalist Megan James of Canadian duo Purity Ring/ PHOTO BY Sydney Moyer

As my friend and I were getting ready to hop the T to see Purity Ring at the House of Blues  last Wednesday, my roommate asked me what kind of show we were going to. My friend and I both looked at one another perplexed and emitted this kind of non-committal hem-haw type noise that I’m tempted to make again as I sit here trying to describe this band in an article.
My friend later informed me that Purity Ring, the Canadian duo (my second one this week!), made up of vocalist Megan James and beatmaster Corin Roddick, was classified as “Intelligent Dance Music” (commonly known as IDM, according to Wikipedia, although I think they fudged that “commonly” descriptor there). While that strikes me as a slightly idiotic name for a genre of music, I have to admit that it seems kind of fitting. Purity Ring is like Grimes in that it incorporates elements commonly found in EDM (bass drops, wub-wubs, reverberant drum beats, etc.), but slowed rhythms and haunting high-pitched vocals illustrate its difference from artists in the traditional EDM vein.

At first, the audience seemed to echo my confusion about the band– was it a dance show? Should there be dancing? Should we just quietly sway back and forth and try not to brush elbows too offensively with the neighbors? However, as James and Roddick wound their way through a set largely made up of their debut album, Shrines, it didn’t seem to matter what type of music it was, just that every single person in the House of Blues seemed to react to it in one way or another. There was fist-pumping and some pushing, but there was also arm-swaying and what looked like interpretive dancing.

Purity Ring brought their "dreamy synth-infused whatever-you-want-to-label-it brand of music" to the House of Blues last Wednesday/ PHOTO BY Sydney Moyer

Purity Ring brought their “dreamy synth-infused whatever-you-want-to-label-it brand of music” to the House of Blues last Wednesday/ PHOTO BY Sydney Moyer

Purity Ring’s dreamy synth-infused whatever-you-want-to-label-it brand of music was met with a crazy set and lighting design made up of what looked like eggs or buoys lit up in different colors and hanging from sticks behind the stage, and the combination made for a highly entertaining, totally danceable show, although James needs to work on her stage presence. She has a phenomenal voice perfectly suited to the band’s sound, but if Purity Ring wants to rise to Grimes or Ellie Goulding status in the next few years, they’re going to need a bit more umph than a bunch of fancy egg lights. Judging from what they’ve accomplished so far though, I’d say that day is not far off.

Chairlift at Brighton Music Hall anything but uplifting

By Sydney Moyer, MUSE Editor

“Haven’t we met before? Amongst the buzzing?” The chorus of a gratuitously synth-y track off of Brooklyn indie-pop duo Chairlift’s sophomore album, Something, resounded and bounced off the shabby-chic brick walls of Brighton Music Hall. And an appropriate refrain it is for such a band.

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Song of the week: “Danse Carribe” by Andrew Bird

By Sydney Moyer, Muse Editor

On perhaps his most elegant album to date, classically trained violinist and chronic whistler Andrew Bird crafted a quintessentially Bird-esque tune in “Danse Carribe,” the first single off Break it Yourself. With lush harmonies woven through gorgeous violin riffs, this track is sure to have you, as Bird says, “mistaking clouds for mountains, oh” (just accept it). Break it Yourself is an album best saved for those hours when you’re neither asleep nor awake, but drifting somewhere in between.

Andrew Bird will play the House of Blues in Boston on May 6.

Listen to the new single below:

Song of the week: “Hit ‘Em Up Style” by Carolina Chocolate Drops

By Sydney Moyer, Muse Editor

Old-time string outfit Carolina Chocolate Drops brought their genuine old Southern folk to the stages of Berklee on Saturday night for a nearly sold-out crowd. Comprised of cello, fiddle, banjo, guitar and other assorted instruments, the band’s songs descended upon the room cozily, as if the audience had shown up for a Tennessee lawn party in August instead of a Boston music hall in the snow.

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Song of the week: “Comeback Kid” by Sleigh Bells

By Sydney Moyer, Muse Editor

Noise pop duo Sleigh Bells has returned to the music scene with their spectacular sophomore album, Reign of Terror, and it seems they’ve managed to avoid the all-too-predictable sophomore slump that plagues many artists today. Reign of Terror is a tighter, catchier and altogether more mature effort, qualities which are exemplified in their first single “Comeback Kid.” If you didn’t catch them killing it on SNL last weekend, check out the new music video below. Continue reading

A Jack of all trades announces new solo album

By Sydney Moyer, Muse editor

This past week, prolific musician and former White Stripes front man Jack White announced the release of a new solo album on April 24.

“Love Interruption,” the first single off of the new album Blunderbuss, sounds stripped down compared to The White Stripes and The Dead Weather’s usual bravado, opting instead for muted howls overlaid with acoustic guitar and Continue reading