Walks of Life – The Same Thing Project, 3.5 out of 5
The Same Thing Project is a unique collaborative comprised of people from all walks of life, including many with intellectual challenges. The project has recorded its first album and the result is both moving and inspiring, a heartening exercise in humanity. And it rocks! It release features superb musicianship, with more than a few killer guitar solos certain to kick out anyone’s jams. Behind the inspired leadership of RI singer-songwriter Mark Cutler, it drives like an early 70’s Stones album, warts and all.
Every song is special… The opener “Common Ground” offers a compelling message of hope and opportunity. “Mama’s Blueberry Pie” turns into a slightly drunken sing-along whereas the jingle jangle hook-laden “Better Days” drives along down a happy road. “Better days are coming, amen to that/Skies will still be blue and we’re never turning back.”
The supporting cast – including many performers with special needs – displays soul and courage. This isn’t just a rock star inviting someone up on stage to join in a song, it’s a grand collaborative endeavor. As cliché as it may sound, it shows that anything is possible. Wanna have some fun?
Give Up – The Call Outs – 4 out of 5
Give Up, a recent release from The Call Outs, offers a full dose of PVD power punk that hangs right up there with the ranks of Gwen Stephani, Liz Phair and Blink 182. These instantly likable songs from the power trio ride straight down a stretch of I95 at 100 MPH – guitar driven, anthem like, with purpose. “Sorry I was careful, sorry you were angry, kinda like it was on tour … When I wake up, California’s in my rear-view,” sings lead vocalist Missa Hill, on “California,” an album highlight. Listen to this release – and don’t except to remain seated!
75OL-296 Thomas Moorecroft Self Titled CD
$7.00 S&H Included
Digital download and streaming coming soon
- Outside Heartbeat
- Sun Came Out Too Late
- My Own Mars
- Kentucky Ray
- Die Already
- Thomas Moorecroft
Sick Pills — Nothing’s Funny Anymore (75orLess Records) — Take 2 Because They Are Good for You
As a hockey junky it is really amazing that I get anything done this time of year. I’ve referenced the debut album of The Blood Moons as one of my favorite local albums many times. Before that, there was Chris Evil & The Taints who they turned me onto Roky Erickson with their cover of “Night of the Vampire” many blood moons ago. So now in the virtual podcast format of Keep On Moving, I was stoked to chat with Chris “Evil” Guaraldi, or as I like to call him, Dr. Evil. Dr. Evil and I met in 2002, drinking homemade red wine at the New Wave Cafe in New Bedford when The Taints were playing with the Midnight Creeps, whom I was mis-managing at the time. I could go on, but this column is five days late and exceeded its word count (Ed: I can’t even…). So Dr. Evil’s Band, Sick Pills, have a great new album called Nothing’s Funny Anymore that I love. Let’s cut to straight to the Doctor cause it took 17 years to make this interview happen.
Marc Clarkin (Motif): Is there any backstory that inspired the tunes on Nothing’s Funny Anymore?
Chris Guaraldi: When it comes to themes, I do usually like to have some sort of “theme,” mostly because it’s easier writing lyrics if I know what I’m trying to say. Nothing’s Funny Anymore has a few different themes going on. The year 2018 was a little bit of a bummer. It started off with my dog Rocky [the adorable cover dog for Sick Pills Under My Skin album] dying suddenly, and that pretty much set the tone for 2018. Our drummer, Bob, was also going through a fairly rough personal event so that kind of worked its way into some songs. I write a lot of love songs/break-up songs, but they’re all pretty much friends’ experiences where I try to put myself in their situation and talk about how I would feel. The current political climate crept in there too (“American Virus”). It’s a little overwhelming seeing how openly racist, sexist and homophobic people have become because they feel emboldened by the current state of the country. As a fairly progressive person, I don’t think it’s all on one side either. “Watching the World” is definitely about that. I wrote more political songs than were on the album, but I really loathe the idea of writing too much political stuff because, really, who am I tell you what to think or believe.
MC: Musically, songs seem to have another dimension to some of the previous Sick Pills releases. From the winding paralysis ’60s Kinks-esque rock of “Watching the World” to the stripped-to-the-bones feel of “No Good,” what were some of the different things you worked in compared to past Sick Pills albums?
CG: I don’t know if it’s that much different from the past few albums. The first Sick Pills album (Sickening) was kind of an “I don’t know what I want to do but I want it to not be what I’ve done with Taints and Blood Moons.” I really wanted to make an ’80s-college-rock sounding thing, but after that first album I just started writing songs the way I normally would and a little more toward the rock ‘n’ roll side of things. Under My Skin is our “rock” album I guess; Mettle is kind of back to punk rock. I pretty much just plug my guitar into the computer and play along with some drum beats and hope to be inspired, or I program some bass lines and then work from there. We did add some keyboards/organs from our friend Ethan Weiss [he plays in space-y prog metal band Lazertuth]. He played keys on all the Blood Moons stuff and I asked him if he would like to play on some of the new Sick Pills songs. You can hear him on “Remind Me You’re Gone,” “No Good,” “Fix Me” and the re-recording of “Be My Girl.” Overall, it’s our fourth album and we wanted to try and be a little more dynamic.
MC: The album gets its title from a line in “Life’s a Joke,” which, despite the title and lyrics, is one of the most infectious pieces you have written. Between the breakdown and post-breakdown “Free Bird” surge, the band has a lot of different dynamics clicking. What is the backstory on that song coming together?
CG: “Life’s a Joke” started with the main melody line/guitar lead thing, which I thought was kind of catchy, and the chords just kind of wrote themselves. The whole song was pretty standard structure-wise, but I wanted to do something a little different for the middle. I thought going “heavy” for the break would be a cool change for such a poppy song, and it fit with the downer lyrics. When I started writing the lyrics, I came up with the chorus first and came up with the verses/pre-choruses from there. The verse and chorus music was so poppy I thought it would be nice to write some bummed-out lyrics.
MC: “Fix Me” kind of reminds me of Zuma-era Neil Young meets Stax Records on a dive bar jukebox. Any influence there?
CG: With “Fix Me,” I had to look up that era of Neil Young. I definitely know Cortez the Killer, but I don’t know anything else off that album. It was definitely not an influence for that song — at least not by me. I can hear it, though. I’m sure there’s a Stax influence there, too, especially with the ’60s sounding organ! When I started writing it, I was trying to make the slowest, most depressing song I could possibly write. I believe this is the longest song I have ever written. The original demo was about seven minutes long, so we definitely sped it up and trimmed some fat.
MC: What are some of the places people should check out for music in New Bedford?
CG: In regard to New Bedford, I still host a weekly open mic at Pour Farm going on nine years now, I believe. I’ve been doing shows/running open mic night at Pour Farm for a long time, and it’s a great place. They gave me a chance to do stuff there when there weren’t a lot of options, and that means a lot to me. No Problemo has a decent amount of shows, too — usually on the heavier side (punk/metal/hardcore/etc). It’s an awesome restaurant and good place to see bands. There are a few more places, but a lot of it is mostly cover band/bar band music. Next to No Problemo is a newer place, Greasy Luck, which seems to cater mostly to ’80s hair metal bands (not my thing). Greg Ginn’s Black Flag is playing there, though, so maybe they’ll start booking more stuff like that. Also in the area is Purchase Street Records. It’s a pretty decent record store with lots of old and new stuff — lots of metal/punk/hardcore records. New Bedford isn’t perfect, but there’s a lot of great stuff going on.
Sick Pills will celebrate the release of Nothing’s is Funny Anymore with shows at The Pour Farm in New Bedford with Baluchitherium and Jake Perrone on May 10th and at O’Brien’s in Boston on May 14th with The Cretins.
The word gospel means “good news.” It is God’s news they say.
Well, Mark Cutler has been doing “the lord’s work” for awhile now with his ingenious songwriting group called The Same Thing Project.
This community meets every Tuesday morning at 10:00 AM in charming Rolfe Square in Cranston. It is a diverse group consisting of members of the music scene, actors, plumbers and even some folks who are considered disabled (although I believe that’s all relative).
Cutler is no stranger to songwriting collaboration. He has always given back through his music and taken something that he has so much talent for and shared it. He enjoys his craft, and when someone who loves what their doing does it in front of others, it becomes infectious.
I myself was part of a songwriter group with him which manifested into two CD’s under the moniker ‘The Dino Club,’ so I recognize the techniques and how fertile an environment Mr. Cutler can encourage.
It doesn’t surprise me that he’s standing in front of a white board and leading his group in accomplishing what (if you think about it) is pretty damn ambitious; writing a song in one session.
My friend got caught up in some pretty grave stuff these past months; beating a health scare and losing a beloved member of his family. Except for maybe one or two days due to treatment, he never let down his people, and wrote a song a week.
Which brings us to “Walks of Life Collaborations,” a brand new CD available through 75 or Less records. It contains ten songs from the cooperatives’ works and I am in love with the humanity that emanates from this recording.
The voices who appear on this piece, some of them known (MC himself), and others who became regular contributors are so wonderfully real that this sap actually wells up when I hear them.
Please don’t make me explain this record in prose. It must be heard. Buy it, don’t scrutinize damn it, please just purchase this record, and then you’ll understand.
Thank you Mark and company for spreading the good news.
- Bob Giusti
by Bobby Forand
Jeff Danielian does something a little different for his third volume of poetry. He digs deep into his archived writing, adding 40 poems (which he dubs “Ramblings of a Man Uncertain”) that he had written well over 20 years ago and left on a shelf, mostly untouched. He adds this to another 40 poems that he had written much more recently, making for a volume that shows who Danielian was and who he currently is. The most intriguing part of this is to learn that, while there has been growth and development, Danielian has basically been the same person all along.
A difference I’ve noticed was with his writing style. “Ramblings of a Man Uncertain” uses long lines with a good amount of words. “Remnants of a Former Time,” more akin to his other volumes, keeps things shorter and simpler. He gets to his points much quicker and it has more of a rhythm. This is not to say that one is better than the other, as the writing is strong in both.
Danielian uses a lot of the same themes in his older work. More so than that, he uses some of the same phrases multiple times. “Out of reach,” is a line that is used in a few of the poems, even having it be the title of one of his poems. Nature is prevalent throughout as well, which, while a common theme for many poets, is a departure from his newer material, showing the changes that can happen with growing older.
While I wrote that Danielian’s writing represents an individual who hasn’t strayed far from who he used to be, I do enjoy the differences I’ve noticed. A younger Danielian is one full of naivety; angry at the unknown world ahead of him, but also free of grown-up responsibilities. There is an obvious youthful voice throughout these poems, which leads to some darker and angsty themes. I like the contrast to his newer work, which shows a fully grown man treading through marriage, children, a house and other life expenses. He dedicates some words to yearning for the good old days (I like that there are 40 poems of those good old days he longs for). He writes about the vices that help him cope (tobacco and bourbon) with both his younger and current years, showing that few things ultimately change.
This is a robust volume of poetry. I appreciate the risk Danielian took in putting his old self out for those to read instead of leaving those poems printed on a shelf collecting dust. It gives his fans a full sense of who he is, was and (probably) will always be. That aside, there are some fantastic poems that are (in typical Danielian fashion) quick, easy and enjoyable to read, along with some lines that need to be read multiple times for further enjoyment and meaning.
By Adam Hogue
“Therapy without the doctors bills I suppose.”
That’s the way Bill Keough muses about his most recent set of songs off his newest album You’ll Disappear, Just Like They All Do. The songs on this latest effort come out at various points with biting tone, apathetic reflections, and shades of gray humor that create an album tempered and moody, yet a raucous call for celebration and heartfelt earnestness.
“I went through a two year stretch (during the writing and recording process of the record) where the up-to-then always solid walls of my life were caving in all around me,” Bill says. “Death, deception, divorce, self doubt… you name it, it all found its way to me. This led to a lot of re-self discovery and an honest reckoning of what had transpired and where it had dropped me off at after the tumultuous trip. Perfect timing if one is looking for subject matter for songs for sure.”
The title You’ll Disappear, Just Like They All Do sets the tone in a Rust Never Sleeps kind of Neil Young-resignation, along with a distinctive ‘90s garage, grunge, post-punk style reminiscent of Modest Mouse or Pixies. With those elements at play, mood becomes a big aspect of this record.
I can’t think of a local record quite as moody or style-focused as this one in recent memory.
With the lead-off track (complete with a music video) “I Am the Lighthouse,” Bill presents a noise-driven collection of music that uses time and space, sparse lyricism, and chaotic guitars to bring stark reality to the forefront, but allows it to linger over lush musical arrangements. The tracks “Bed” into “Gentle Smile” offer the best expression of Bill’s Frank Black approach to lyrics spat out between long forays into dual guitar interludes that follow unexpected chordal changes.
“I feel it’s vital to present a story in a series of songs where attention to sequencing of the songs from beginning to end plays an important role,” Bill says. “It sets a tone and lays a fluid foundation for the mood, whether it’s the one you intended or what the listener walks away with and comes back to. My songs are deeply personal. I have no reservations in parting my ribs to share my heart in hopes that it might strike a chord with anyone willing to listen and relate on their own level. It’s what’s always been special to me about music, hearing that song that hits you in such a way you never expected.”
Along with his 75 or Less Records counterparts, Bill falls in with artists given the artistic space to be themselves both in the studio and out. Listening to You’ll Disappear, Just Like They All Do plays like an album meant to be heard recorded. Yet, each song can clearly be imagined to take on a life of its own, unafraid to exist as something unique to what is heard on the album.
“I keep it pretty simple [live],” Bill says, “just an electric acoustic guitar and a few pedals heading back through my amp. I have not had the joy of playing with a full band for the last few years although nothing is more euphoric than that experience for sure, musically. I definitely fall into the category of a recording artist who plays their songs live. It used to be the opposite back in the day.”
Bill Keough is currently working on another video from the album to be released soon.
75OL-293 The Same Thing Project – Walks of Life Collaborations
$15.00 S&H Included
$15.00 S&H Included
- Common Ground
- Mama’s Blueberry Pie
- Someone to Love
- Music of the Night
- Better Days
- Scary Love
- Ebb and Flow
- We’re Leaving
The Same Thing Project is a songwriting workshop for people from all walks of life.
We have musicians, artists, retired folks, people with disabilities, blue and white collar workers participate every week in writing a song.
We provide a place where you don’t have to be skilled at a musical instrument in order to be musical. The goal is to have a place where someone can be part of a creative community that is open, non judgmental and encouraging.
It’s our belief that the world is a better place when people can express themselves in an imaginative way. A society is measured by how much it nurtures its arts and culture. People appreciate the arts more when they themselves take part in creating it (whatever that might be). People are never too old or young to learn something new or to write a song. You can see that spark of inspiration go on in young kids, retired newspaper writers and the father and son who take lessons so that they can play guitars together. People who take part in The Same Thing Project know the feeling of being in the midst of the creative process. We want others in the community to experience it.
The Same Thing Project meets every Tuesday morning, 10:00AM at The Artists Exchange 82 Rolfe Square Cranston, RI and it’s free and open to everyone!
Oriental Pearl Restaurant
576 State Rd
9pm. No cover
According to his brief Bandcamp bio, “Keith A/B is a singer-songwriter from the Providence area.” But that doesn’t really describe his newest album, Without Grievance.
The opening song, “Hey Kelly,” does not fit what you’d expect from a singer-songwriter. That term conjures an image of an acoustic guitar and something along the lines of folk, or maybe some mainstream, straight up rock music. Instead, “Hey Kelly” sounds like Jason Lowenstein’s contributions to Sebadoh. It’s much louder and more dissonant than a singer-songwriter usually sounds. From there “I’d Be a Success” sounds more like a singer-songwriter, but only because it’s more mellow. It still has an undercurrent of abrasive noise lurking underneath. It’s not until the fourth track, “No Black Magic Required,” that Without Grievance almost sounds like a traditional singer-songwriter, but once again even this song goes off in its own direction. And these are all good things.