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Boston Underground 1980 2010

Time to revisit the excellent two-part overview of Boston underground compiled by Petridisch!

Volume 1 featured Requiem in White, Jeff and Jane Hudson, Women of Sodom, Turkish Delight, Throwing Muses and many more. The sequel, aka Vol. 2, followed two years later, but up until now lacked its own blog entry – numerous reasons to fix that…

It all started with vol. 1 being reposted by Leah from Turkish Delight. Prior to that, there was an onslaught of new releases/reissues from TD family tree (represented by Glass Set in the mix). Think Gull Boy, Darryl Blood, Betwixt and, finally, Leah herself whose 2003 solo album Even Sleepers is now available on CD.

But what of non-TD bands? Many of them are still very much active (Swirlies, Curtain Society, Bedroom Eyes). And even those that aren’t (The Lothars, Zutrau, Astroboy) even morphed into other bands or had something said about them/are worthy of investigation.


The Lothars – Cowboys Lament

Despite its overuse, soundscape is an apt description of the Lothars’ music — vistas of sound that are more atmosphere than plot…they wring sadness and beauty from such instruments as the hammer dulcimer and the theremin. The live improvisations sound like elegies for Martians, or love songs for robots. – Anaheed Alani, Playboy, May 2003

Jon also tapped paper cups on a footstool.

Featured Kris Thompson of Prefab Messiahs fame.


The Pandas – Emma’s Ice Cream

The Pandas are a four piece. Their music is spare, but I wouldn’t call it minimal. Maximal seems a better description: soundscape-y and textured, experimental and ambient but with enough pop sensibility to keep the songs in check. Their music ranks among the ultimate background music in my collection. But I assure you that it’s exceptional foreground music also. – tikichris

Each member of The Pandas offers a well-rounded view of the band’s sound. Sean Carroll is featured on guitar, guitar synth and keyboard; Luis Fraire takes the reigns on drums, drum machine, sampler and visual mixing; Brian Goodhue is on keyboard and assists on samplers and Bill “Brown” Koroskenyi handles more keyboard plus melodica, accordion and even the glockenspiel. The end result is a synchronization of sounds that are hand crafted into seamless tracks that at once entrance and inspire. – Worcester Magazine

Sean and Luis from The Pandas went on to form ii nub – read an article that Scott McLennan wrote for boston.com.


Bedroom Eyes – Garmonbozia

Though Bedroom Eyes admittedly draw heavy influence from the founding shoegaze gods of the 90s, the interactive and heavily melodic guitar work from both RJ Murphy and Adam Meran give the record a sort of pop sensibility and lightness that you wouldn’t expect when you think of fuzz bands. – Post-Trash

Further Reading: Echoes and Dust | DKFM


The Glass Set – 23

The Glass Set is outlining the soundtrack of the current state of schizophrenic, anything-goes indie: dreamy, shoegaze pop soundscapes over scrappy Bowery-fueled pre-punk delectation. – Michael Marotta, The Boston Herald

Angular at times, hallucinatory at others…arresting, honeyed vocals… and driving, hook-laden, sometimes aggressive, sometimes lyrical sound anchored by ringing guitars and downtempo synths. (Think equal parts Mancunian gloom, No Wave skree, and effervescent pop confection.) As always, Callahan’s uplifting, deceptively sweet sing-song vocals —which rush headlong with a sense of wide-eyed wonder—temper the world-wearied tone of the lyrics, which deal eloquently with loss, regret, and the complicated business of living in the world. – Andrea Feldman, Warped Reality.


Astroboy – Seraphim

darron burke: drums | jared dubrino: bass guitars, delay modulation | gordon zacharias: electric guitars, voice, concertina (from liner notes for Soon compilation)

The only other band which is not squarely within the Goth/ethereal genre, but still maintains some of its mystical compulsion, is Astroboy, whose track, “Seraphim,” is just different enough and catchy enough to really stand out on the disk. – Lollipop


Swirlies – Sounds of Sebring

Sneakyflute music of Malmo and Alexandria

No question: Tutunjian and Carmody’s laid-back vocal sparring and their complementary layering of dulcet tones mirror those of MBV’s Shields and Butcher. But this development strikes me more as serendipity than blatant homage. Even if it were the latter, though, the world needs all of the yin-yang lustrousness and undulant “OOOoooOOO”s it can get. What kind of monster can’t appreciate a loving battle of the sexes on the mic? – Dave Segal / The Stranger


Veronica Black Morpheus Nipple – Friend’s Birthday

Their live show is a cross between a glitzy cabaret and a back alley freakshow as they tread that fine line between tortured genius and total absurdity. – Joel Simches, The Noise #178

[Veronica Black] is an over-the-top, odd duck of a band – part-glam, part-sleaze…They get to a rich, “Pump-it-up” sound when sexy nerd organist Bangkok Splendor and guitarist/synthisist Sean T. Drinkwater merged and drummer Slain Tot kicked butt. — Jim Sullivan, Boston Globe, February 16th, 1998

One of the bands of Sean T. Drinkwater who is currently in Freezepop.


The Curtain Society – Love Ends

The Curtain Society has always been about three good friends having free reign to step out from behind their assigned instruments and play anything they wanted, anyway they wanted, so long as they stayed true to the integrity of the song in hand.

And, this shared dynamic among these pristine purveyors of dreamscape pop has been the driving force behind The Curtain Society for three decades, with no end in sight. – Craig S. Semon / Telegram.com


Zutrau – To A Mouse

paul zutrau: vocals and other instruments | jay keegan: drum programming and percussion arrangements (from liner notes for Soon compilation)

The performance by Sirensong, as well as their track, “Litany,” are – dare I say it? – spellbinding. I hadn’t seen them before, but I’m sold on their upcoming CD and future shows already. Michelle Poppleton has a beautiful Sinead O’Connor-like voice, but without the annoying condescension and with even more lyrical lilt, and in “Litany” it’s juxtaposed with a surprisingly funky baseline by Paul Zutrau which some might find jarring, but I thought was really swell. And speaking of Zutrau (all roads lead to Castle Von Buhler) his vocals in his self-titled band are its weakest asset, although musically, their track, “Burning Bridges” is complex and eccentric, and, again, the baseline stands out. –Lollipop

Thank you: Cody aka Cryostasium / Dystopiate

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