Solo Sexx is the all-female rap and DJ group who will emcee “Paper Jam” tonight. The group is made up of two members, the Velvet Vulture, also known as Julez Sherratt, and the Vulga Vulva, also known as Heather McCormack.
Hailing from Amherst, the rap duo is a self-defined, “big middle finger to a consumerist, male-driven circle jerk of a hip-hop game that’s been played against itself for far too long,” according to their MySpace profile. Solo Sexx has the attitude to back it up, with rhymes that would make Kanye West blush. And Kanye would have a hard time finding something not to like about the group’s beats and rhythm.
McCormack and Sherratt are quite accomplished rappers as well, able to incorporate freestyle into their songs with ease. Song topics explore themes such as being broke and white, and even celebrate “being free to perform the self-pleasure their name is shouting,” according to their MySpace page. They don’t fall into the whole generic beats area of hip-hop, but instead have homebrewed beats.
There isn’t anything not to like about Solo Sexx, making them the perfect “Paper Jam” emcees. Plus they’re local, and they rap better than some of the big-name artists you might find out there today.
Solo Sexx also hosts a bimonthly Thursday DJ night at Diva’s Nightclub, quite an impressive feat for a local rap group. The group does a number of big gigs in the area as well, and will perform at the annual Extravaganja in Amherst this weekend.
Solo Sexx gives the XX chromosomes something to shout about in rap, a largely male-dominated music genre. This is not your average, dime-a-dozen pop group singing about guys and girls in the club. This is Solo Sexx.
—Tappan Parker, Collegian Staff
Plaid-clad Hampshire College hipsters Leisure Colony will take to the stage first at tomorrow’s “Paper Jam.”
They’ll play selections from their latest EP titled “Protectorate,” as well as some of their older tracks. The album represents a new stage in the band’s development, featuring a more accessible sound than their previous material as they continue to progress from a local college act to perhaps something more. Leisure Colony is a rare example of a college band with a high level of musical maturity in an often disorganized college scene. The band’s latest songs, if they had to be categorized, are alternative rock.
Leisure Colony’s biggest success is their layered music. Their personalities mimic their music – intelligent, comedic and always musically curious. The bandmates – Paulo Menuez, Henry White, Josh Paul and David Herr – all hail from Hampshire College, with the one exception of the band’s fifth member, Martin Zimmermann from Bennington College in Vermont. Together, they travel between the two schools, playing shows in each area.
All of the members exude the laidback quality that permeates the Hampshire College atmosphere, allowing the band’s chemistry to remain peaceful and productive. There isn’t a weak member of the group. Many of the members live together and their constant conversations about musical theory, note and rhythm choice, and multimedia additions to their performances create a selection of songs that will likely get stuck in your head long after the show.
None of their lyrics are really about anything. According to guitarist David Herr, all of the lyrics are supposed to be fun and some are meant to exude some subtle sexuality.
Leisure Colony has been playing together for a year and a half. They know more about music than you do. Go hear them.
— Michael Phillis, Collegian Staff
Bubonic Souls is an incredibly versatile and genre-melding outfit from Amherst. Featuring six members, the band channels funk, jazz, R&B, soul and rock into a tight, sultry style that does ample justice to the group’s wide array of influences.
Already a well-established name in the area music scene, the flirtatiously funky Bubonic Souls consist of Josh Paul on drums, Willis Kinsley on bass, Maxwell on guitar and vocals, Rachel Weiss on guitar and vocals, Ben Nazzaro on keyboard and vocals and Tim Dietrick on saxophone. With a stacked line-up, they bring a lush yet hard-hitting sound to both their recordings and their energetic live shows.
Unabashedly showing inspiration from the likes of everything from James Brown to Massive Attack, the Souls balance their jam-band energy with soulful sensibility, and their oh-so-hard-to-pull-off dual, male-female vocal stylings with deep instrumental prowess.
Since their formation in late 2006, the Bubonic Souls have already made quite a name for themselves in the regional music scene. They’ve won two Pioneer Valley battle-of-the-bands competitions, and regularly draw in impressive crowds to venues ranging from Five College campuses to NoHo nightclubs. Their skills and reputation have also earned them opening spots for various artists, including Eric Krasno, Plus Move and KRS-ONE. In addition, the Bubonic Souls’ track “Like You Do” was featured in an episode of the television show “Californication” in December of 2009.
In Spring 2010, the Bubonic Souls will release their very first studio album, and have released several tracks from the upcoming album on their MySpace and homepage. They have a slew of upcoming shows through April and May leading up to their anticipated debut release, including “Paper Jam.” For more information, visit Bubonicsouls.com.
— Dave Coffey, Collegian Staff
Darlingside is a string-rock quintet based in Northampton. Their unique sound is born out of Don Mitchell’s vocals and guitar; Auyon Mukharji’s vocals, violin, mandolin and saz (a Turkish string instrument); David Senft’s lead vocals, guitar, bass and keys; Sam Kapala’s drums and pennywhistle; and Harris Paseltiner’s vocals, guitar and cello.
The Band’s sound is characterized by elegantly crafted cello-violin duets, soaring harmonies, catchy hooks and compelling beats. Carefully woven together, their careful pairing of traditional instrumentation and intermingled vocals is sure to pull on the heartstrings of fans.
“Our songs have adopted so many different qualities. There have been lots of unexpected turns from song to song and within each song,” Mitchell said. “You’ll find yourself in a new place all of the sudden,” adds Auyon.
The band formed during their tenure at Williams College, and have since grown to share the stage with such big name acts as Nada Surf, Guster, The Format and The Ken Oak Band. Their musical influences range from Radiohead to Nickel Creek, Beethoven to Phoenix. Their first few months have been spent holed up writing new tunes in their crowded house (reminiscent of the Grateful Dead’s 710 Ashbury, except with less substance-abuse and more granola). These five multi-instrumentalists are amped to tour Massachusetts, the greater Northeast and eventually Japan.
If their music isn’t a love tap on your heart’s left ventricle, then the guys themselves will surely win over the fickle. Their passion to play is genuine, even though they set the lofty goal of touring Japan. Their aim is to be memorable, much like their band name.
But Darlingside doesn’t turn their nose up at any venue as they continue to play around the valley. “We’ll play anywhere. If there’s a party around here, we’d love to play it. Whether it be the lawn of Baker or Japan, we’ll do it,” Mitchell said. Their “Paper Jam” performance today should be memorable for UMass fans, while for the band it will be just another stop on their way to Japan.
— Leigh Greaney and Pete Rizzo, Collegian Staff
The Telephone Company
As the self-proclaimed, “Most hygienic band based out of Amherst, Mass.,” The Telephone Company fuse a modern-day minimalist twist with grunge and punk undertones. Listening to The Telephone Company (or The Teleco, as they like to colloquially refer to themselves) is not unlike listening to the White Stripes perform a concert out of an Orchard Hill Residential Area dorm room (if, of course, the White Stripes actually had a bassist).
Hailing from the University of Massachusetts, the band has carved out a name for itself as a capable grassroots local act at venues around the area, such as The World War II Club and The Elevens in Northampton, and the El Cid Lounge in Ludlow, Mass. The Telephone Company has also performed live for UMass’ radio station, 91.1 WMUA, from which several live cuts of their songs have been made available on their MySpace page.
The band consists of the relatively sparse line-up of Nick Bush on guitar and lead vocals, Isaac Simon on drums and Myles Heffernan on bass guitar. Bush brings a Cobain-meets-Casablanca style to the frontman position, while Simon and Heffernan lay down a solid rhythm section underfoot. Their sound is by all means no-frills in nature, but they don’t disappoint, either. Ever the absurdists, the band explains, “we sound like Wilco, if Wilco turned up its guitars, and then got left outside for weeks until the band became all moldy and gross.”
In addition to earning themselves a place of their very own in the local music scene, The Telephone Company also released their first EP, “The Better Nutrients of Tomorrow,” in August of 2009. The Teleco have been playing out steadily in support of the collection of recordings, and will be playing at “Paper Jam,” which begins at 6 p.m. tonight in the Hampden Courtyard in Southwest. They will also be playing live for 91.1 WMUA again on April 29. For more information, please visit Theteleco.com.
— Dave Coffey, Collegian Staff
On Trak and Malado Back at UMass
The hip-hop/R&B/funk band, On Trak and Malado, has made their mark on and around Massachusetts, and will be contributing their musical talents to Paper Jam. On Trak and Malado consists of Preetam Sen, Felix Nwaobasi, Ani Sanyal, Alex Cabral, Josh Dodds, Gary Smith, Rhees Williams, Jules Belmont and Keith Blake.
On Trak and Malado made their big debut at last year’s spring concert after winning the University Programming Council’s battle of the bands. After opening for All Time Low. Girl Talk and Lupe Fiasco, On Trak and Malado made their name recognizable around the University of Massachusetts campus. Kaya Swainson, who attended both the battle of the bands event and the spring concert last year, recalls On Trak and Malado’s catchy beats, great onstage presence and unique style.
On Trak and Malado’s influences include, J Dilla, Dj Premier, Madlib, A Tribe called Quest, The Roots, Kayne West, Timbaland, Usher and Lupe Fiasco who they opened for at the spring concert.
In a documentary filmed by Marc Pitler about Malado’s journey to spring concert 2009, Sen said, “This whole company started when we were in high school, we were doing our little rap thing separately, we decided to put it all together, make a little group.” After forming On Trak entertainment in 2004, the band On Trak and Malado was created and in 2006 the group took off. With an eclectic mix of influences, Malado has no restraint on the type of music they produce. “I try not to limit myself as a musician, I don’t like people saying I’m a rapper, they put themselves in a box,” said Nwaobasi. “I’m more of an artist, if I want to make a pop record I’ll make a pop record, if I want to make an R&B record I’ll make an R&B record.”
— Kaitlyn Bigica, Collegian Staff
Bella’s Bartok is hard to define. Luckily, they have done the hard work and defined themselves for their fans. “Sometimes Western Massachusetts’ premier Acoustic Gypsy Punk Circus Band, and sometimes Western Massachusetts’ premier Gypsy Balkan Rockabilly Fusion Party in a Box (just squeeze),” they write on their MySpace page. They are what you would expect if Gogol Bordello got drunk one night and was struck with inspiration. That is to say, the band is a combination of awesome, silly and just plain weird.
The Amherst-based band has a number of members, all of whom contribute wholeheartedly to the group. Members include Asher Putnam on vocals and acoustic guitar; Steve ‘the Wolfman’ Torres on bull fiddle; Amory Drennan on trumpet and banjo; James Bill on lead guitar; Mark Schilling on drums; Sean Klaiber on trombone; Monte Weber on violin; Tony Barone on saxophone; and new members Vashti Poor on vocals, glockenspiel and harmonica; and Doug Wright on accordion.
Bella’s Bartok deliver fun live performances, with music that makes anyone want to dance. The band is basically about gathering people together and having a good time. “We are a 10-piece band and so we are basically our own party wherever we go. We are a party cluster of party cells whose raison d’etre is to assimilate and multiply,” said James Bill in a profile piece by the Valley Advocate.
Bella’s Bartok is like a band of circus clowns who manage to make what may sound like a weird concept work beautifully when pulled together. They are, however, marked by the originality one might expect from a homegrown Amherst gig; their music is anything but generic. They are well worth hearing, and after the initial shock of their peculiar musical style wears off, you may even find yourself dancing.
–– Tappan Parker, Collegian Staff