Basemental: The Leafies are a Guerilla Band
Jun19

Basemental: The Leafies are a Guerilla Band

Some might describe The Leafies You Gave Me as a “band,” but that would be an understatement. At least in the musical sense.Yes, they are musicians. And yes, they make music. But they are a band more like New Oxford American Dictionary’s second definition of the word band: “a group of people who have a common interest or purpose.” It cites the example of a “guerilla band,” which does seem fitting for this 10-piece avant garde...

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Basemental: Dump Him’s New Record Is Really Freaking Good
Jun05

Basemental: Dump Him’s New Record Is Really Freaking Good

Editor’s note: Jaclyn Walsh uses they/them pronouns.Valley musician, student, and DIY booker Jaclyn Walsh wants you to dump your boyfriend so much that they named their band Dump Him.On the surface such a statement might charm the misandrists and queercore punks more than it appeals to standard bearing capitalist-hetero-patriarchs. But to only look so far would be to miss the point — or the attitude and ethic behind the band. Just...

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‘Ask a Punk’ Documentary on Western Mass DIY gives glimpse into growing music scene (w/vid)
May22

‘Ask a Punk’ Documentary on Western Mass DIY gives glimpse into growing music scene (w/vid)

Amherst College junior Brian Zayatz’s new documentary, Ask a Punk, opens on a dark basement. You can’t see much other than some hazy Christmas lights in the frame. Some very involved yet calming music — tritones soaked in reverb — plays in the background.This basement in Hadley, along with others throughout the Valley and beyond, could have been finished and furnished with a crisp flat screen, but instead its brick walls are being...

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Basemental: You Know Amber Wolfe Now See Her Arresting Video for ‘No Thorn’
May08

Basemental: You Know Amber Wolfe Now See Her Arresting Video for ‘No Thorn’

You may know Amber Wolfe. She fronted the “speakeasy, post-apocalyptic band,” O You Villain, books shows at Amherst Coffee, and is a veteran of the Institute for Musical Arts, where she found “some of the foremothers of local music.”Despite strong roots here in the Valley, last year, Wolfe went home to the Washington, D.C., area to record her debut solo EP, I Left the City. What followed was a full circle collaborative return with...

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Basemental: Bella’s Wild Rose Reviewed
Apr24

Basemental: Bella’s Wild Rose Reviewed

Editor’s note: Bella Ortia-Wren uses they/their pronouns.Bella Ortia-Wren, who goes by just “Bella” on stage, plays a blue Fender Mustang, a small-bodied guitar with single coil pickups, that sounds shimmery and crisp through a few hot-tempered distortion boxes. Decadent chords cut through creating a wild, untamed haze which is the foundation for Wild Rose , their new album to be released on Bandcamp later this week. Ortiz-Wren...

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Basemental: From Northampton to Nashville
Apr10

Basemental: From Northampton to Nashville

On the road with The Sun ParadeFrom the streets of Nashville I called Lynne Bertrand, who manages the Northampton band The Sun Parade. There was a problem.I had stopped by the venue earlier and noticed the sign outside said they were going first. This wasn’t going to fly, because the people the band had driven from Northampton to play for — an A&R rep and the president of New West, a Nashville based record label who is interested in...

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Basemental: Umbral Made Real
Mar27

Basemental: Umbral Made Real

How a fictional psychdrone collective from Berlin took form in GreenfieldIn 2015, a real writer and real College of the Atlantic professor named Daniel Mahoney published a real book called Sunblind Almost Motorcrash. In it, he wrote fictional reviews of imaginary bands. The purpose of the project, he said, was to “investigate the distance between sound and how we use language to describe sound,” which is the crux of this racket we...

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Basemental: Hammydown and the Myth of the Millenial Slacker
Mar13

Basemental: Hammydown and the Myth of the Millenial Slacker

Pavement certainly planted some type of “slacker” flag in the 90s. Whether or not they were the original “slackers” — they weren’t — is irrelevant, but that label has often evoked that band. Today the same label, certainly a compelling angle for write-ups, is attached to acts like Melbourne, Australia’s Courtney Barnett, Boston’s Palehound, and now Northampton’s Hammydown because they make music that references “slacker rock.” But...

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Basemental: So You Want to be a Music Writer?
Feb27

Basemental: So You Want to be a Music Writer?

Pioneer Valley Underground brings new voices to DIY coverageBack in 1999, thousands descended into downtown Seattle for protests against the World Trade Organization, dubbed “The Battle of Seattle.” Not only did protesters successfully get a frank discussion about globalization into the news, but they also left a legacy that many don’t remember: Indymedia, the first national network of citizens who used the internet to tell their own...

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Basemental Music Review: Thee Arcadians
Feb13

Basemental Music Review: Thee Arcadians

December brought with it not one, not two, but three releases from Florence psych punks Thee Arcadians — Ian St. George on guitar, Nico Lapinski on bass, and Elliot Hartmann-Russell on drums. Sure, it sounds like maybe they just put up a mic in band practice, but there is an ocean of material that demonstrates musical depth, musical sea creatures, and musical water pollution. Whether or not said ocean is acidified is up for listeners...

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Basemental: new album by Cousin Moon, reviewed
Jan30

Basemental: new album by Cousin Moon, reviewed

When I started at Hampshire College in 2010, there was this cool band of upperclassmen that kind of blew my mind. They were called Pale Cowboy. They had jazz influences, but it was clear that making irresistible pop music was their thing. One song won me over, which was later released on their first two EPs: 2012’s Life Nature Library and 2013’s Shelter. It’s “Don’t Wanna Discuss,” a catchy, driving little pop song which has prescient...

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Basemental: Wocky’s new album, reviewed
Jan16

Basemental: Wocky’s new album, reviewed

Roxy Leblanc has been a mainstay in the Hadley underground for as long as I can remember. She fronted the band Great Smokey, an earnest and groovy psych group that took a few forms between 2009 and 2016, before calling an indefinite hiatus last winter. Since then she has developed and pushed her solo effort, where she goes by the moniker Wocky.Wocky just released her first full-length, Changeling, following her 2014 debut EP,...

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Basemental: Stop the Trolls
Jan03

Basemental: Stop the Trolls

Staying strong in the face of hate and lost spacesLast week, Basemental interviewed a local musician who lost people close to him in the Ghost Ship warehouse fire on Dec. 2 in Oakland, California. That piece sparked a discussion of safe spaces for artists, which Meyer continues this week.Exploiting tragedy to advance an extreme political agenda is a known strategy that has been employed by the right for decades. The Islamophobia...

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Basemental: What Happened in Oakland
Dec27

Basemental: What Happened in Oakland

One artist’s reflections on the Ghost Ship fire NOTE: On Dec. 2, the Ghost Ship, a 10,000 square-foot arts space inside an Oakland, California, warehouse, caught fire during a performance. Thirty-six people were killed, and more were injured. Steve D’Agostino, from the local act ZEBU!, has split time between the Western Mass and Bay Area arts scenes. He was familiar with the Ghost Ship, and lost people close to him. He was...

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Basemental: Don’t Give Me That Corporate Ambition
Dec12

Basemental: Don’t Give Me That Corporate Ambition

On Thursday, Dec. 1, I stood outside the TD Bank in downtown Northampton with about 30 other people to stand with the Sioux Nation and indigenous-led water protectors — not only to stop the pipeline, but to asphyxiate its funding. Local organizers answered an ask from Indigenous organizers at Standing Rock to make these goals a reality.Sound carried across Main Street as our group chanted on one side of the street, and a delegation of...

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Basemental: Trump vs. Punk
Nov28

Basemental: Trump vs. Punk

We must harness the power of DIY to resistInfluential music writer Jessica Hopper penned a piece earlier this month on MTV.com that sought to dispel “the silver-lining myth” that a Trump presidency would produce great art, specifically music.She argued that great music is already being made – primarily by black and brown, queer, womyn, and other marginalized musicians – in the ruins of a transphobic police state with a backdrop of...

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Basemental: House Shows by Deadbeat Club and Boy Harsher
Nov14

Basemental: House Shows by Deadbeat Club and Boy Harsher

Self-described glamour-grunge witch-punks Deadbeat Club only played their first show earlier this spring. According to an interview in Maximum Rocknroll, they say the band formed “because [they] were sick of playing with boys and trying to start something serious.” And serious they are. In the short time they’ve been a band, they’ve not only played dozens of shows around the Northeast, but they also released a kicking self-titled EP....

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Basemental: “Hello Everybody” by Ruth Garbus, Reviewed
Oct31

Basemental: “Hello Everybody” by Ruth Garbus, Reviewed

Honestly Weird“Hello everybody/ there’s a Nazi living in my head.” That’s the first line on Brattleboro musician Ruth Garbus’ new EP, Hello Everybody, and its overt shockingness lays the foundation for a departure from her previous handful of mostly solo releases. Not only are the lyrics more direct, but the melodies have become sharper and song structures more intuitive.Garbus, still young, has been playing music for over ten...

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Basemental: New small urban festivals ditch the corporate music vibe
Oct17

Basemental: New small urban festivals ditch the corporate music vibe

A few years ago, Valley musician Mike Parham came back from South by Southwest (SXSW), a music festival in Austin, Texas, and described it to me like the Wild West —somewhere between an underground music festival and a business convention.Some see SXSW as their ticket to success, but just as many musicians and critics see it as a textbook example of bloated corporate influence – the place where DIY first kissed Davos. Straddling a...

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Basemental: Inside the mind of PussyVision
Oct03

Basemental: Inside the mind of PussyVision

20-Something VisionIt’s an amazing feeling to bear witness to art you feel moved by — especially when that art is ephemeral. And it’s no less amazing to see a side of someone that you didn’t even realize existed. This is what happened when I first heard Pussy, a self within my old friend Finley Janes, who performs under the monkier PussyVision.We all walk around with different selves inside of us, and some of us wear different selves...

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Basemental: Our Club Runneth Over
Sep19

Basemental: Our Club Runneth Over

This Friday night, Sept. 23, there are at least six shows I want to attend. It wouldn’t be surprising if some touring band squeezes in a last-minute basement show. There are other bars and venues, too — Ben Folds is playing the Calvin, for one — and maybe a festival nearby. Although I’m plugged into different scenes, it can be hard to keep track of them all.September 23 is a good reminder of all that is happening in Western Mass right...

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Basemental: Streaming music service Spotify is a bust for local artists
Sep06

Basemental: Streaming music service Spotify is a bust for local artists

Spotty ResultsI learned some shocking things about Spotify recently. The average employee rakes in $166,000 a year, and the highest executive compensation has increased over 300 percent since 2014, reaching as much as $18.9 million. Despite that, Spotify has never really been profitable. Although the streaming giant has increased revenue and employee pay at huge margins, the company operated at a $200 million loss last year, with...

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Basemental: Talking Rock and Net Neutrality with Candace Clement
Aug22

Basemental: Talking Rock and Net Neutrality with Candace Clement

We Buffer, We SufferCandace Clement has been a been a member of the Northampton band Bunny’s A Swine for eight years. On songs like “Greetings from the Bottom,” her Strat intertwines with Emerson Stevens’ 3-string guitar contraption like a ball of twine, which gets tangled and balled up against a backbeat by drummer Dustin Ashley Cote. When she isn’t singing, she does advocacy work on media equity, most recently championing “net...

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Basemental: New Music from MalYMarco, Dirt Devil, ShowHorses, and Carinae
Aug08

Basemental: New Music from MalYMarco, Dirt Devil, ShowHorses, and Carinae

One of the pitfalls of writing a bi-monthly column is the fact that I can barely scratch the surface of all of the cool stuff that’s happening around the Pioneer Valley. There is so much! This week’s column will serve as an informal catch-up on some new(ish) releases. All four bands are local and currently unsigned.  MalYMarco malymarco.bandcamp.com Hip-hop duo MalYMarco, composed of Mal Devisa (Deja Carr) and Marco (Marc Friedman),...

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Basemental Music Review: The Lentils
Jul25

Basemental Music Review: The Lentils

Mental for LentilsThe first time I heard The Lentils was live in my basement in Hadley two years ago. I was completely blown away not only by the wacky and wiry guitar solos, but by the pop melodies buried beneath layers of sand. It was as if strange debris – or legumes, rather – had washed up on the beach all deformed and colored by a lifetime of surf. (After writing this paragraph, I realized one of the Bandcamp tags for the Lentils...

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Basemental: Straight to Video, bassist Sam Hadge’s wild concert footage
Jun20

Basemental: Straight to Video, bassist Sam Hadge’s wild concert footage

The magic of live music stems from the intimacy of being in the same room as the performer, but Sam Hadge’s talent is capturing that intimacy for the online world who couldn’t make it to the show.Since I started going to DIY shows with regularity about a year and a half ago, Hadge has been a fixture. It seems he’s at nearly every single show in Western Mass with his video camera in hand, recording each set in its entirety, then...

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Basemental: What’s a Jaume I? New Performing Art Space in Greenfield
Jun14

Basemental: What’s a Jaume I? New Performing Art Space in Greenfield

Downtown Jam Matt Robidoux is nervous. He is sitting on a patch of grass in downtown Greenfield, adjacent to a municipal parking lot and the Mexican restaurant Mesa Verde. Across the street, a small handful of musicians are shooting the shit and smoking cigarettes, waiting outside a storefront with the word “ART” hanging above the entrance.Robidoux and this cohort — musicians from the Belchertown noise group Radio Head, Greenfield...

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Basemental: Playing the Game
May05

Basemental: Playing the Game

Northampton self-proclaimed pop-punks Potty Mouth formed at Smith College in 2011. Their self-titled EP came out in August. The EP, produced by John Goodmanson in Seattle (Sleater-Kinney, Bikini Kill) delivers five tightly-packed, driving songs that are severely catchy.All the tracks are between 3:02 and 3:31 minutes in length. On the first track, “Cherry Picking,” the band — Abby Weems, Ally Einbinder, and Victoria Mandanas — breeze...

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Nightcrawler: ‘Hole’-d Up
May02

Nightcrawler: ‘Hole’-d Up

Sutherland swaps silver screen for six-string; Gartska jams with guitar gods… brieflyHe was a “Lost Boy.” A “Young Gun.” One of “A Few Good Men” to enjoy a three decade career on both the silver and small screens alike. But in 2015, actor Kiefer Sutherland says he was holed up in a recording studio working on some demos he originally wanted other artists to record. When two songs became four,...

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Basemental: DIY Music, welcome to Basemental, a new column about the Valley’s underground music scene
Apr18

Basemental: DIY Music, welcome to Basemental, a new column about the Valley’s underground music scene

As a 24-year-old musician in the Valley, my world centers around Hadley basements and Easthampton community centers — the places where you can catch the best of the area’s DIY music scene. The what scene?Exhausted by the exploitative pay-to-play model often used by established venues — in which up-and-coming bands have to sell a certain amount of tickets to make any money — my musical peers and I continually choose to build...

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Nightcrawler: Decade-dence, 90s pop, 80s rock and Guns N bobbleheads
Apr25

Nightcrawler: Decade-dence, 90s pop, 80s rock and Guns N bobbleheads

Better call Mr. Peabody and Sherman. Looks like someone’s gotten a hold of the Wayback Machine.First stop: Foxwoods Resort Casino’s Grand Theater this Friday, April 29. Not only will female hip-hop heavyweights Salt-n-Pepa be there, but so will literal heavyweight Biz Markie, Coolio, Tone Loc, and Vanilla Ice (Ice Baby). The tour is called “I Love The ’90s,” and tickets range from $60 to $100, depending on your proximity to the frat...

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