Monday, July 22, 2024

Coral Moons performs Thursday in New York CIty’s New Colossus Fest. (Photo: Mike Gutierrez)

The Rock & Roll Rumble announced its list of prizefighters for this year’s edition, running April to May through multiple rounds over multiple weeks at multiple venues in Central Square. Twenty-four bands will duke it out to claim top honors. Get in on “The Full Boat Pass” to see and hear all the fireworks, start to finish.

The storied contest dates back to 1979, and can boast a few big names that have taken the stage. Mission of Burma, Morphine, Letters to Cleo, Dresden Dolls. But the Rumble is less about launching careers, more about celebrating the rock ’n’ roll scene in and around Boston.

Who’s playing this year? Local outfits you know and love such as bikethrasher, The Roland High Life, Twig, Other Brother Darryl, Ruby Grove and more. Find the full list of bands at the Rock & Roll Rumble website. Hey, The Ghouls too, who just got written up last week for a show at The Middle East. Maybe an early recon mission …

What can we expect at this year’s Rumble? Bikethrasher’s “ready to party.” Twig is psyched to bring some “raw power” to the stage. Ruby Grove is going to expand your idea of what rock can be with their trip-hop and soul roots. And every Rumble band you speak to is excited to be part of the new edition in the enduring annual tradition, whether they’re veterans in the competition such as Other Brother Darryl (14 appearances between the band members), or first-timers such as The Roland High Life.

Thom Dunn of TRHL is even itching to go back to the future with bragging rights: “Me and Jake, our bassist, spent a lot of our formative years going to shows at the Tune Inn in New Haven, where we’d regularly see Rumble bands like Piebald, Lost City Angels, Kings of Nuthin’, Big D, fuckin’ Rocktopus – what a name – and I can’t wait to get in my time machine and tell those high school nerds that they’ll be joining those ranks some day.”

May you get your wish, Thom, and at least two more sequels.

While the bands battle on stage, we can all squabble over the proper grammatical variant of the popular phrase using the three elements “rock” “and” “roll.”

Plain vanilla: “rock and roll”?

Flex the ampersand: “rock & roll”?

Maybe get cute: “rock n’ roll”?

Or the tedious punctuation of the cute version: “rock ’n’ roll”?

My favorite is the simplified variant of the cute version: “rock n roll.” Apostrophes, take a hike! For the record, an informal poll of the bands mentioned above resulted in no significant consensus, unless you rate two votes for the ampersand variant as impressive.

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Until the Rumble commences, make love, not war, at these local shows.

Saturday: 35th Annual Balkan Music Night (Arts at the Armory, Somerville)

There’s a decent number of national and local acts that glom onto the “gypsy” sound to add folk flavors to punk rock attitude. Gogol Bordello comes to mind. And how about Bella’s Bartok out in Western Mass? It’s all good, but once in a while you’ve got to go straight to the source. Okay, straightish; we’re not all flying to Eastern Europe. For one night, though, a little bit of Eastern Europe comes to us. More than a dozen acts join under one roof to show off every flavor of Balkan music and dance. Go be Balkan for a night.

Sunday: Flying Turtle, The Ruth & Ben String Band, The Goodrich Family Band (State Park, Cambridge)

We’re not sending you to an Irish bar on St. Patrick’s Day. That’s pure amateur-hour vibes. But you still want to get out and feel the energy of one of the drunkest nights of the year, right? From a safe distance. Head over to State Park, which has a good thing going with its free music series on Sunday nights. Acoustic-driven folk reigns supreme, and maybe a band will play “Danny Boy” if you ask nicely.

Monday: Declaw, Dowsing Rod, Slow Quit, Impossible Dog (Cantab Lounge, Cambridge)

You’re in luck! We ferreted out the hyperlink for this listing from the Cantab Lounge website so you don’t have to. It’s one of those websites that have been “optimized for mobile” to the point of lunacy. The desktop version is almost entirely unusable. Sure, the bulk of Internet traffic travels through smartphones, but old fogies who repost weird reactionary Facebook memes on their 2004 Apple eMac want to enjoy the alt punk of Declaw and Dowsing Rod, the gazey textures of Slow Quit and the spunky emo rock of Impossible Dog too. Now they can. You’re welcome, grandpa.

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This week’s live review followed the trail of breadcrumbs of four bands with Massachusetts roots to The New Colossus Fest on New York City’s Lower East Side. Carinae, Paper Lady, Prewn and Coral Moons were among the bands representing the Bay State in the Empire State.

The annual music festival is a relative newcomer, established in 2019 before getting waylaid by the pandemic like live entertainment everywhere. But it returned in 2022, and it feels like a new classic on the festival calendar, nabbing local and international acts as they pass through the East Coast hub to play SXSW in Texas a week later.

Coral Moons played the second-to-last slot on a bill in the basement of Bowery Electric, sandwiched between a Brooklyn dance punk outfit and psych-rock quartet Melody Fields from Gothenburg, Sweden, who were missing their keyboardist but set up their keyboard rig anyway like an empty chair for Elijah. Just in case. Coral Moons debuted their new single “shrooms.” The title screams jam band, the actual music is more pop-forward. Doesn’t mean you can’t shroom to it.

Does Northampton’s Prewn and Hadley’s Carinae have the same drummer? Or am I seeing things? The Pioneer Valley music scene shares and shares alike. Drums aside, the former act is powered by the soulful charisma of Izzy Hagerup. Shades of Elizabeth Cotten in her indie rock warble. The crowd for the Carinae set could’ve used some of the aforementioned “shrooms.” The band’s sample-laced psych prog updates crunchy jam music for the 21st century.

Last but not least, Paper Lady was casting spells at Arlene’s Grocery. The venerable hole-in-the-wall has been hosting hits and misses on Stanton Street since 1995. The band’s thick rock ’n’ roll stew, aided by heavy textures and Alli Raina’s pop howl, hit the mark.


Michael Gutierrez is an author, educator, activist and editor-in-chief at Hump Day News