Monday, July 22, 2024

Offering at the Armageddo record shop in Cambridge’s Harvard Square. (Photo: Mike Gutierrez)

It’s time for another episode of Totally Excellent Mid-January Cambridge Day-Approved Record Store Walk & You Better Dress Warm. Except the days are warmer, the sun is shining, the birds are chirping and spring has officially sprung.

What better weather to hide away in a basement record shop void of natural light with aggro punk obscurities screaming at you through the loudspeakers from open to close?

If you read that last line as snark, you’re one type of person. If you read it and thought “Fuck yeah!” you’re another.

Armageddon Record Shop (12 Eliot St. B, Harvard Square, Cambridge) is for the truly initiated, mostly initiated into punk and metal. Contrast it with a more generalist shop such as Planet Records, a few blocks away.

Don’t be put off by the nondescript front door at the bottom of the stairs. Yes, it looks more like an entrance to a broom closet than a place of business. But take courage! Think of how many editions of somber, Christo-mythological children’s fantasy we would have missed out on if Lucy, Edmund, Peter and Susan hadn’t had the courage to walk through the wardrobe.

Once inside you’ll discover a specialist shop’s delight. Sure, management makes an effort to stock a range of offerings across genres, including rock, jazz, blues, folk, country and classical. The size of these sections (and the fact that many choice genre selections are buried in the generic “$2.99 LP” bins), though, tells you where the shop’s heart is …

Punk and metal. A great selection of these high-decibel soundscapes available in every format you might desire: vinyl, CD and cassette. And a few DVDs, rock ’n’ roll magazines and sundry merch for good measure.

Don’t visit without browsing through the well-stocked, faithfully organized bins of 7-inch records. You know, the junior-sized vinyl with a song on each side that you play at 45 rotations per minute? Seven-inches are practically nonexistent these days, but they ruled the roost when radio was king. Disc jockeys, fat on Coca-Cola and payola, depended on the format to fill out their playlists with the latest breaking singles.

Kind of ironic that anti-establishment punk would be one of the few genres carrying the torch for a format that used to be the common currency of The Industry. Hey, 7-inches are cheapish to produce, you can play them on the record player you stole from your parents and atavism is a well-known feature of marginalized subcultures.

What’s the latest 7-inch haul? I visited the shop last Wednesday and picked up a slew, including Gang Green’s single “I Fear” b/w “The Other Place.” This was an archival selection of a local legacy punk band, which won the Rock N Roll Rumble in 1986. Like most good old-school punk, the aggressive sonic bravado is balanced by a kind of fragility that forms the kernel of every grunt, shout or oafish exhalation. Lead singer Chris Doherty trots through a litany of petty fears. But what does he fear most? Losing the ones he loves (or at least the ones who love him).

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Spin a few 7-inches with that weird 45 rpm spindle adapter, safety pin a Crass patch to your back and hit these shows in style.

Friday: Edward Glen, voicemail, Square Loop (Lilypad, Cambridge)

Planning a visit to Lilypad? Always double-check start times for shows. The funky spot for live music in Inman Square is not one of those places where you just roll up around, you know, 7 p.m.-ish, to find bands running through soundcheck for a typical 8 p.m. show. Nope. It does great rental business, and they’ll book as many gigs in a day as the staff has patience for. This indie rock showcase, hosting voicemail as a “sort of” out-of-stater, gets the late shift, starting at 10 p.m. Cross your fingers that the Berklee College of Music triple-stack scheduled before them didn’t cut class the day they taught timely load-outs.

Tuesday: Derek Gripper and Ballaké Sissoko (Crystal Ballroom, Somerville)

Global Arts Live is your passport to world music. The organization presents showcases all over town, all year long. Gripper is a white South African guitarist who was trained in the European classical tradition before hearing the call to specialize in the kora music of Mali. Sissoko is a black Malian kora virtuoso who, when his father died, took his place in the prestigious Ensemble Instrumental National du Mali at the tender age of 13. The African musicians will share the stage for a night, exploring the musical tradition of the griots of Mali. Griots are kind of like oral historians, musicians, singers and storytellers all rolled into one. These two have stories to tell.

March 29: Will Tell Aim, Voided Shape, Good & You?, The Dream Today (Union Tavern, Somerville)

Guitar wranglers Good & You? will be the belle of the ball, celebrating the release of an EP at the indie music staple in Union Square. Plenty of other offerings on the diverse, four-stack bill. What’s the through line? Emo, though each act spins it off in a different direction: electronic, post hardcore, math rock or shoegaze. These musicians have listened to enough virtual breakups and vicarious makeups to author a relationship column at Cambridge Day. Hey, why don’t we get that going?

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Last Friday at Lizard Lounge was the last gig Dwayne Haggins will play on dry land for a little stretch. The roots rock musician set sail Monday on the Miami-Cozumel cruise “Keeping The Blues Alive At Sea IX.” Roman numerals – classy.

What can guests aboard the Norwegian Pearl expect, besides cost-contingent obstructed versus non-obstructed ocean views for your living quarters? In addition to Cagney’s Steakhouse, Bliss Lounge and Pearl Club Casino, there are at least five venues for enjoying live music. We’re keeping the blues alive after all.

Caribbean trade winds aside, the local Cambridge dive is the perfect place for an intimate encounter with not just Dwayne Haggins the musician, but also – and, maybe more importantly – Dwayne Haggins the bandleader. For an artist who found his way into music relatively late, he exhibited a confidence and authority beyond his years. He led the six-piece through its paces, coaxing the caravan through paroxysms of bluesy rock with little more than a wink, a look and a nod. If you can get the buttoned-up Harvard Square crowd dancing (they did), you’ve got something special.

The opener Moran-Tripp Band started off the night with some home-cooked Southern rock, peppered with sweet Telecaster solos, and dropped in for “Devil Went Down To Georgia”-style guitar battles all throughout the headlining set.


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