Independent bands are the heart of any town's music scene. Boston is no exception. The local scene is the best it's been in years, with bands embodying a wide variety of genres and sounds bubbling up from the underground, all vying to be the next big thing.
Here are three of Boston's best local acts to check out this year.
THE CAMPAIGN FOR REAL-TIME
The Campaign for Real-Time say they are time travelers from the future who have come to Boston to cover all of the hit songs from the future. And who knew the songs of the future would sound so cool? The Campaign's first album, Yes ... I Mean, No, featured Killers-style dance-rock rave-ups like "Something is Wrong" alongside tracks with heavy block-rocking beats and rap-delivered vocals like "NFS."
The sextet's new album, Let it Rise, is more off the deep end into dance-party mix-tape territory. The album is a collection of new songs recorded after the band won last year's WBCN Rock 'n' Roll Rumble and six remixes of tracks from Yes.
On "Adjustments," singer Rory Stark raps over a bouncy bass and synth beat that could play on any hip-hop station. The closest comparison is Head Automatica's Decadence. "Photo (Negative Cutter)," one of the remix tracks, rocks just like Rob Zombie, most likely because it was remixed by Ministry frontman Al Jourgenson.
The heavy beats and synths are all fine and good for creating a bombastic sound on your stereo, but the band's main focus is in its live shows. Every sound on the record is recreated on the stage, with digital and analog synthesizers, traded vocals and a light shown thrown in.
"We hope we blow you away, but we want to incorporate the audience in the theatrical element," Stark said in an interview with The Beacon. Lee "Big Game" Bronson, co-frontman and Moog player: "Put it this way. On a scale of one to 10, we're aiming for a 200, and we're bullshit if we don't get 400,000." The Campaign for Real-Time plays the Middle East Downstairs in Cambridge tomorrow night.
When you select to shred along to Bang Camaro's track "(Push Push) Lady Lightning" in the Guitar Hero II videogame, you're met with a screen that informs you that the band "is half man, half machine" and that it "runs on dude power."
The developers of the game have hit the nail on the head in describing this muscle car of a group with heavy hair metal influences. With solos reminiscent of Appetite for Destruction-era Guns 'N Roses and huge gang vocal choruses, the members of Bang Camaro create music that harkens back to a time when metal was meant to be enjoyed in both arenas and strip clubs.
The band is the brainchild of guitarists Bryn Bennet and Alex Necochea, who came together in their love for Ozzy Osbourne and Metallica. To capture the huge sing-along, anthem vibe the group was looking for, Bennet, Necochea and the other three instrumentalists in the band are joined by up to 20 singers clustered around microphones on stage.
Known collectively as "The Choir," the 20 singers come from various other Boston bands to guzzle beer and chant along to lines like "Oooh c'mon, I wanna take you higher/ Oooh c'mon, let's make electric fire" and songs with titles like "Nightlife Commando."
Bang Camaro are working on putting an album together, but fans can stream or buy MP3s of seven songs on the band's website. The band will rock the Paradise on Feb. 24.
RYAN LEE CROSBY
The first verse of Ryan Lee Crosby's "In A Little While," sung in the singer songwriter's whispery, angelic voice, sums up his entire musical philosophy in four lines: "Everything will be alright/ if I tell you it just might / everything will be alright / in a little while."
The soft, folksy tune is an uplifting song perfect for picking up a listener on a day in the dumps, as are several songs on his debut album, There is No Music.
Crosby wrote "In A Little While" so the uplifting message of hope would be heard by people ailing and feeling down.
"I feel like part of the job of being a performing singer or musician is you should probably want to give back. I feel like I want to give back, music has given me so much," he said in an interview with The Beacon. While Crosby is trying to give back a message of hope to his audience, he's singing to himself as well.
Many of the songs stem from a period of time when Crosby was addicted to tranquilizers, drinking quite heavily and desperately needing a pick-me-up. "I felt like for a long time I just need somebody to say [everything will be alright] to me, so I guess I say it to myself, so it just naturally made its way into the song," he says.
Crosby is planning on holing up to record a new album during the winter months, and he describes his new music as "more about going inward, rather than defining something and going outward." Crosby will perform at Club Passim in Cambridge on Feb. 25.