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Happy Record Store Day!

21 Apr

                                            A snapshot of part of my collection

Today is record store day. A day to go out and support all of the small independent record shops around your town. I have to say, it’s been a while since I’ve actually gone out and purchased some vinyl. Ever since Record Hog in Cambridge closed, I just haven’t really found a shop that I loved to hang out at browsing as much as that one. There was always someone I knew looking around for records. And the cats! How awesome were those cats? I do have that shop to thank for a good majority of my collection though, and am thankful to have had it around as long as it was.

So, in no particular order, here are a few gems I can remember buying at record stores over the years that when I found them gave me the feeling only good music can:

  • The Gravel Pit – “Standing in My Way” and “Something’s Growing Inside”
  • There’s a DYKE in the Pit feat. Bikini Kill, Tribe 8, Lucy Stoners and 7 Year Bitch
  • Bonfire Madigan – Backseat Buoy
  • Elastica – The Bitch Don’t Work
  • Sleater-Kinney – Get Up 7″; One More Hour 7″
  • this is fort apache. feat. Dinosaur Jr., the Lemonheads, Juliana Hatfield, Buffalo Tom, Radiohead, Come and Throwing Muses.
  • …and everything nice 7″ featuring Babes in Toyland, Hole, STP and L7.
  • Tuscadero – Mt. Pleasant/Nancy Drew; Angel in a half shirt; Mark Robinson remixes
  • Letters to Cleo  – Anchor single
  • bis / Heavenly – split 7″
  • Ze Malibu Kids – Sound It Out

And here are some I remember buying at shows (better than any other means because usually the artist is directly selling you their music = best way to support music ever):

  • Rilo Kiley – The Execution of All Things (signed “bikini kill ! ❤ jenny lewis”)
  • Wild Flag – Glass Tambourine/Future Crimes 7″ (signed by all members)
  • Land of Talk – Speak to Me Bones / Death by Fire 7″ (last copy left)
  • Tilly and the Wall – Sad Sad Song (#301 of 1000)
  • Aly Spaltro (Lady Lamb the Beekeeper) – Sunday Shoes

And yes, there is the internet. And yes, you probably can find the album you want with a few types and clicks. But is that as fulfilling as discovering an album you’ve been longing for stuffed in between dozens of other albums? Of course not. And you’re less likely to stumble across an artist or band you’ve heard in passing or have long forgotten about when you’re looking for one specific title online.

Was I longing for a copy of The Waitresses Wasn’t Tomorrow Wonderful? Not entirely.  Did I need to buy Boom Boom Boom Bingo by Scruffy the Cat? Of course I didn’t. Was my goal for the day to head out and find Saving Grace by Throwing Muses? I don’t think it was. Am I stoked to have purchased full albums by The Cars, Blondie, ’til Tuesday and The Del Fuegos all for just $4.00? Hell yes.

My point? My music collection grew and grew thanks in part to all the records, compact discs and cassette tapes I happened to come across while out browsing music at my local music shops. You should go do that too. Yeah, Amazon and iTunes may be convenient and direct, but go take a couple of hours and spend it sorting through stacks of music. What you find will most likely excite and educate you far more than clicking once to confirm your purchase with Apple.

(This post was originally published on April 16, 2011)


The Cold and Lovely Pledge Campaign

15 Mar

Ten months ago I brought my first interview to this little piece of the web. It was with the newly formed band The Cold and Lovely, featuring Nicole Fiorentino (of Smashing Pumpkins) and Meghan Toohey (formerly of The So and So’s).

Since then, the duo added drummer Patty Schemel (formerly of Hole) to the mix, and the music has been flowing out of their instruments ever since.

Photo by Andrea Alseri

The band is at 97% of their goal towards making a new album via their Pledge Music site with 6 days left to pledge. I have no doubt they will be reaching that goal shortly, as long as some more music lovers make their way over right now!

Aside from the usual albums, t-shirts and posters most bands offer up, The Cold and Lovely have some other pretty great things. Nicole’s guitar used on tour with Smashing Pumpkins and Veruca Salt. You can write a song with Meghan or have her produce one of your own. How about an autographed set of drumsticks from Patty Schemel? There are plenty more items available as well, so check it out!

You’ll be hearing a lot more from this band in the future, and it would be awesome to say you were part of making that possible, wouldn’t it?

Vinyl Devotion.

4 Feb

I feel weird posting a blog that does not revolve around foodage. What the what? When did this become a food blog?

Sometimes I do think about things other than food. This is one of those times.

I got this lovely piece of equipment at a yard sale back in 2002. I spent $25 dollars on it. Twenty-five. It’s a Morse/Electrophonic AM/FM radio, 8-Track player and record player. It came with about 18 8-track tapes as well. (Including an Elvis Christmas, Heart, Billy Joel, Carl Perkins, and the B-52’s, amongst others).

It lights up to the beat when you play music. Or talk radio. Or NPR.

Ever had an audio/visual experience while listening to Prairie Home Companion? It’s not that exciting. I should probably stick to putting the lights on only when there are strictly songs playing. I’ll work on that. Continue reading

Thinking about… Vivek Shraya

28 Nov

Photograph by Zachary Ayotte

Thinking back on how I was first introduced to Vivek Shraya’s music, and the progression of not only the sound, but the person himself since then, it’s all terribly exciting and exhausting.

I first met Vivek in 2006 while he was visiting Boston working on his album If We’re Not Talking. Since that time, Vivek has released three albums, two short films and authored one book. He toured India a year ago with Tegan and Sara. He’s done a number of readings from his book God Loves Hair across Canada and the United States. He’s screened his first film Seeking Single White Male at various film festivals and events. And he’s always, it seems, looking to do more.

This month, the Toronto-based Shraya released his newest musical venture, an EP titled 1:1, available through iTunes. I talked with Vivek about it and some other things…

You’ve just released a new EP, 1:1. Should your listeners expect the same sound as your past couple of releases, or something different?

1:1 is a pretty big step away from the electro/synth pop sound of my last two efforts. The bulk of the songs were written during a heavy depression earlier this year and it felt important to preserve that raw emotion and spirit. So instead of layering and potentially losing the songs under all kinds of production, most of the record is directly lifted from the demos or retracked/recorded parts from the demos. This was a huge risk for me especially using the vocals parts from the demos. They aren’t “perfect” or pretty and at times even sound ugly or like exposed wounds. This whole project, from the songwriting to the production to even the photos, was an exercise in vulnerability.

Aside from music, you’ve also authored a very well received book, God Loves Hair. Can you tell me a little about it?

God Loves Hair is a collection of short stories that details my experiences growing up with immigrant parents as a gender queer kid in Alberta (which is sometimes referred to as “the Texas of Canada”). Each story is coupled with a beautiful illustration by the extremely talented Juliana Neufeld.

Any plans for another book?

When I first put out God Loves Hair, I didn’t really consider the possibility of a second book. But the confidence I have gained from the wonderful response to the book coupled with a desire to say more has inspired me to keep writing. I am hoping to have a rough manuscript completed in the coming months!

So, you’ve been busy, but I’m guessing you don’t like to remain stagnant. You’ve also made two short films this year. How has that experience been different from music and writing?

Music and writing for me is about working out an idea, an issue or an image with words (and melody). In a way, film is similar because you are always starting out with something abstract, something you experience in your mind. But as a visual person, I love the format because I get to explore working directly with imagery. Both my shorts have also included text and music and I love that film allows for the opportunity to build on my skills as a writer and musician but it in a completely different context.

And what is the subject matter of Seeking Single White Male?

Seeking Single White Male is about my experience in gay bars when I was first coming out, noting the ways in which to be seen, as a person of color, required assimilating to a form of whiteness.

Any other projects on the horizon?

I have spent most of the fall working on a new film project. While my previous shorts have been composed of text and photos, this was the first time I used actually footage, filming 35 people! Now that I am in the editing stage it feels like a huge undertaking trying to condense everything into a 10 minute, visually engaging piece, but I am very inspired by the content, excited about the challenge and hope to have it out by early next year.

Find out more about Vivek at

Legal Love.

3 Oct

So back in 2004, Joey and I started up a little organization to raise money and awareness regarding the issue of same-sex marriage in Massachusetts. At the time, the courts had made it legal, but the law hadn’t been implemented yet. Due to the inevitable impending legal fights from the extreme of right wing, we wanted to help out in a way other than making phone calls or canvassing. (Those are great, by the way, just not for me.)

We decided to put on benefit shows in support of gay marriage. The Boston music community took to it with open arms. We held several shows over a time span of a year or two. We had great success and were able to raise thousands of dollars for the cause of protecting equal marriage rights in Massachusetts. We couldn’t have done it without the artists who volunteered their time and talents to the cause.

Some of the bands/musicians:

  • Mary Lou Lord
  • Ad Frank
  • Rachael Cantu
  • Rachael Davis
  • Annie Clark (aka St. Vincent)
  • Paula Kelley
  • Britta Wolfrum
  • Clayton Scoble (of Francine)
  • Leah Callahan
  • Thea Hopkins
  • Kara Tondorf

Continue reading

Lady Lamb the Beekeeper. Middle East Upstairs. 8/18/11.

21 Aug

Here are some pictures I took of Lady Lamb the Beekeeper (Aly Spaltro) performing at the Middle East Upstairs in Cambridge, Ma on August 18, 2011.

Photos copyrighted by Matthew Petrelis. (I don’t mind sharing with proper credits.)

Thinking about… The Cold and Lovely

17 May

The Cold and Lovely

As a new feature to this here blog, I’ve decided it would be pretty great to do semi-regular interviews with really incredible people. (Brilliant, right?) Most likely, the majority of these will be with musicians, but I do realize there are people who do great things that don’t involve music, so I’m going to keep that in mind when looking for folks to talk to.

As the first interview, I’m thrilled to have The Cold and Lovely contribute.

One part Meghan Toohey mixed with one part Nicole Fiorentino equals a whole lot of quality rock in the form of the new band they’ve named The Cold and Lovely.

Where the two have found the time to record and play as The Cold and Lovely is perplexing at best.

Toohey has been a staple for Billboard topping artists The Weepies both in studio and on tour (and in addition to her producing, writing, and recording for other artists, she has also toured with Lenka, Schuyler Fisk, and Lori McKenna to name a few).

Fiorentino, meanwhile, has kept herself occupied for the past year recording and touring worldwide as bassist for The Smashing Pumpkins. Before that, she was keeping active in several bands, including Light FM, Twilight Sleep, Veruca Salt and picking up bass duties on tour with Spinerette.

Meghan joins us from Los Angeles after a weekend of rehearsing and performing with Schuyler Fisk while Nicole chimes in from between recording sessions in Chicago…

Continue reading

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