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Sirch Party 

Soundbites: Austin Sirch, Nightbirds

Published May 14, 2008 at 10:38 a.m.

In this edition of “Soundbites” I’d like to take a few moments to discuss some of the ins and outs of band promotion, specifically with regard to getting some ink in the esteemed pages of Seven Days.

Rule #1: Never, ever drop your CD off at 8:30 on a Monday morning, hoping to have it reviewed in that Wednesday’s paper.

First of all, there is a better chance that Hillary Clinton will win the Democratic National Primary than I’ll actually be in the office at such an ungodly hour. After all, I’m a music writer. We stay up late. We wake up late. That’s just part of the job.

Secondly, in order to properly review an album, the reviewer, whether me or one of our talented freelance writers, needs more than the roughly two hours he or she would have to listen to and cough up 400 words on your latest masterpiece and meet publishing deadlines. Unlike, say, Maxim Magazine, we actually listen to the music we write about, usually several times. Sometimes in a row. Call us old-fashioned, but that’s the way we do it, and it takes time.

As I’m writing this column, my headphones are filled with the sonorous strains of local songwriter Austin Sirch’s latest full-length, Alter Alert — guess when the album showed up on my desk? Not to give away the conclusion of the review that will eventually find its way onto these pages, but let me say this: Holy shit.

Sirch has been around for a while, but has been somewhat M.I.A. lately. Presumably, he’s been holed up channeling Mojave 3 and Belle & Sebastian. This is some gorgeous, indie-licious stuff I’m a-listenin’ to at the moment. Can’t wait to review it.

In the meantime, catch Sirch at Higher Ground’s Showcase Lounge this Friday as he celebrates the release of his new disc with opening support from fellow indie ingénue Ryan Power, who produced the record.


OK. Everyone knows that rock doesn’t actually beat paper — though it really should. It’s rock, fer chrissakes. But stick with me.

Rule #2: Never, ever send gimmicky crap with your press release . . . unless it’s a really good gimmick.

The waste bins of many a music writer are littered with the sad remains of gimmicks gone wrong. Kazoos, lollipops and — I’m not making this up — Dr. Scholl’s Odor Eaters are but a few of the items that have found their way into my possession, sent by misguided bands looking to gain an extra PR edge. Here’s a novel idea: Send me music that doesn’t suck! More time in the studio, less time in Rite Aid. But I digress.

Boston-based songwriting collective Monkey Rock has been sending me emails about their impending Vermont tour for weeks, and, frankly, I had no plans to write about them, as their press quips contained the same ridiculous boasts and hyperbole as does nearly every band press release ever written — “Poetic lyrics!” “Unique blend of (insert genre here) and (insert similar genre here)!” That is, until their press package quite literally landed with a thud on my desk. Containing a rock.

Before I’m accused of being a sucker for a cheap laugh — which, of course, I am — the rock merely piqued my curiosity. Upon said rock was scribbled the following inscription: “Put this rock to your ear and hear the music.” I did. But I think my rock must have been damaged en route because I didn’t hear anything. Rule #2A: Never trust the postal service.

Fortunately, the accompanying CD arrived unharmed — though I’m kinda surprised the rock didn’t scratch it — and contained some genuinely engaging songwriting from our Beantown neighbors. Catch Monkey Rock on Wednesday, May 14, at The Langdon Street Café; Thursday at The Skinny Pancake and/or Friday at Radio Bean. Rocks, I assume, will be provided.


Rule #3: When in doubt, do something with Tick Tick.

Regular readers know that I’m a big-time Tick Tick cheerleader. What can I say? I like T-shirts. Plus, those dudes work super-hard and bring some terrific bands into our little corner of the world — like, for example, Thee Silver Mt. Zion this Friday at the UU Church (see the interview on page 15B). Speaking of which, stop reading right now and go buy your ticket — and yes, I know you haven’t bought one yet. Don’t make me scold you in public.

Anyway, the TMZ show is co-sponsored by the UVM Lane Series, historically better known for more classical or folkie fare. The collaboration is the first in a series of upcoming joint events designed to raise the Lane Series’ profile among younger, hipper audiences. That’s a great idea, but does this mean that Tick Tick is looking to branch into the older, squarer crowd? Heaven help us.


Rule #4: If you haven’t been written about in a while, leave town.

Since the release of their self-titled debut EP last fall, local rockers Nightbirds have been curiously absent on the B-Town scene. Turns out they’ve been touring up a storm and putting the finishing touches on a new CD entitled November Moon. This weekend’s show will be the band’s last in Vermont for quite a while, as they’re packing their bags and headed to the City of Angels. Say your fond farewells this Saturday at Nectar’s. Good luck, guys.

Rule #4A: If you haven’t been written about in a while, tell everyone you’re playing your last show before you leave town. Then schedule another show that you promise is your last one. Then leave town.

Last week local klez-hobos Inner Fire District played what was reported to be their final show for several months before accordionist David Symons and beleaguered clarinetist Zoe Christiansen head to Europe for the summer. The show was even covered by Seven Days vid auteur Eva Sollberger in the last installment of “Stuck in Vermont.” Saying goodbye is hard to do, so the band has decided to try it again this Sunday with their honest-to-God last soirée — for now — at The Big Picture Theater & Café in Waitsfield. And, full disclosure: My little bro is in the band — Rule 4B?


Rule #5: Play a show in Milton. Any show.

Milton is not exactly a nightlife hotbed. So whenever there’s a show in town, it’s newsworthy. Sort of. Fortunately, this Saturday’s show at the Milton Grange — really? — looks to be a good one.

Creatively dubbed “The Milton Disaster,” the show features some of the finest up-and-coming talent from the local heavy-music scene, including Middlebury’s melodic metal outfit Half Past Human, thrash-metal stalwarts aVicious Cycle, Speak of the Horse and Lowell, Mass.-based angst-ridden emo-core act A Breath Beyond Broken. I’ve said this before, but don’t you just love hardcore band names? I smell another rule . . .

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About The Author

Dan Bolles

Dan Bolles

Dan Bolles is Seven Days' assistant arts editor and also edits What's Good, the annual city guide to Burlington. He has received numerous state, regional and national awards for his coverage of the arts, music, sports and culture. He loves dogs, dark beer and the Boston Red Sox.


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