April 4, 2013

Making Noise: New albums to shout about; feel the Lovewhip love

With a shoutout to (gulp) the Red Sox and many thanks to Empire Dine & Dance.


I got in trouble a couple of years ago for sneaking too many Red Sox references into this column, which is of course supposed to be about music. Last year, however, there wasn't much to say.

click image to enlarge

Lori McKenna is bringing her lovely voice and piercing lyrics to One Longfellow Square this weekend.

Courtesy photo

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Erin Harpe, above, and the electro-dance funk rock of Lovewhip is coming to Brian Boru Friday night.

Courtesy photo

As for this year, I will simply use a line from the 1904 song "Tessie" that was revived by The Dropkick Murphys, and then we'll do a head-first slide into this week's musical merriment: "Don't blame us if we ever doubt you, you know we couldn't live without you."

NOTHING PUTS a spring in my step like when I get emails from local acts telling me about their new albums. So I hopped around three times last week upon hearing from Matt Newberg, Max Garcia Conover and Kouros. You'll likely read more about them when our CD reviewers Rick Johnson and Kristin DiCara-McClellan get their ears on them, and when yours truly chats with these and other acts in the coming weeks.

Hey Empire Dine & Dance, thanks for the memories, especially Clash of the Titans ones. Here's hoping that when you reopen in a few months, that lightning can strike twice. I'll keep my fingers crossed.


FOR BOSTON-BASED electro-dance funk rock, Lovewhip is the band to see. Years ago, I wrote about them and called them "more fun than a truckload of Cyndi Laupers," and I still stand by that declaration. Fronted by singer Erin Harpe, Lovewhip will be playing songs from their recently released album, "Love Electric," and the three that came before it, with an unexpected '80s cover or two thrown into the mix. Wallflowers and shoegazers, this is not your show. But if you like to shake your tush and have a fabulous time doing it, Lovewhip is your band.

9:30 p.m. Friday. Brian Boru, 57 Center St., Portland. No cover; 21-plus. brianboruportland.com

RUTH UNGAR met Mike Meranda when both were fresh out of college, and soon after, they formed the now-defunct but hugely popular acoustic string band The Mammals, which had an eight-year run and released several CDs.

Mike + Ruthy was born out of The Mammals, and the pair, now married with children, has released three full-length albums, an EP and some vinyl. Their shows consist of two guitars, a ukulele, a fiddle, a stool, some harmonicas and a single microphone. The pair produces a folk-pop Americana sound that is lyrically strong and musically captivating. Head to mikeandruthy.com to learn more about them and to take a listen.

8 p.m. Friday. Unity Centre for the Performing Arts, 42 Depot St. $10 in advance, $12 day of show. unity.edu/uccpa


I STILL REMEMBER the first time I heard Lori McKenna's song "Fireflies." It was 1999, and the song was on a benefit compilation CD called "Respond." The song struck me in a huge way, and all these years later, it still does.

Since then, the Boston-area singer-songwriter and mother of five children has released a number of solo albums. Her sixth one -- "Massachusetts," produced by Mark Erelli -- comes out later this month.

McKenna knows how to put pen to paper with her lyrics, and she has a clear and lovely voice with just a bit of perfect twang to it. I listened to "Massachusetts" in its entirety and when it was over, I said to myself, "She's done it again."

A dozen songs twist and turn through heartache, small towns, lost souls, hope and so much more, and they spring forth from an artist who's been documenting life with song since she was a kid.

"Don't leave me confused, don't let the lines blur, if you're gonna tell me you don't love me anymore, make every word hurt," sings McKenna against a piano, drum, bass and guitar backdrop.

And speaking of Mark Erelli, he'll be opening the show.

8 p.m. Sunday. One Longfellow Square, 181 State St., Portland. $22 in advance; $25 at the door. onelongfellowsquare.com


Aimsel Ponti can be contacted at 791-6455 or at:




TURN YOUR RADIO DIAL to 102.9 WBLM every Friday at 8:30 a.m. to hear Aimsel Ponti wax poetic about her top live music picks for the week with the Captain and Celeste.


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