May 142018
 

bison arkansas

The Vermont trio Bison’s first release Get Out was my favorite EP of last year. Now they’re back with their second. That’s the good news. The bad: It’s also their last. Two of the three band members are moving away, and Bison will soon be no more. Judging from the first single “Arkansas,” at least they’re going out on top. Continue reading »

Dec 122017
 

best vermont music 2017

What is an EP?

I don’t mean that as a philosophical question, but a practical one.

Back in the vinyl era, the EP had a clear reason for existing as a stand-alone format from the album. If you had enough songs to fill a 12-inch, 33RPM record, you made an album. If not, you put what you had on a 10-inch, 45RPM record and called it an EP. They looked different; they felt different; they cost different amounts.

In the digital era, free of physical limitations, the distinction has blurred. An artist’s latest collection of music can be two songs or two hundred. The idea that a 60-minute collection of music constitutes an “album” and a 15-minute one constitutes an “EP” is purely artificial.

Yet the EP hangs on, because musicians like the format. Nowhere more so than in Vermont, where the EP offers new bands a way to test the waters and experienced bands a way to toss out a few songs between “proper” albums. In a musical climate where local musicians rotate constantly around new bands and monikers, the EP offers a low-stakes way to try out a new sound or collaboration.

As a result, this list is no ugly stepchild to the Best Albums list we’ve got coming next week. There may be no more practical reason to keep the EP designation, but these ten EPs justify their own reasons for existing. Continue reading »

Jun 272017
 

bison band

It feel like a million years ago now, but try if you can to remember back to the halcyon days of the 2015 Democratic primary. At one point, due to a DNC security glitch, a Bernie Sanders campaign staffer downloaded some of the Hillary Clinton campaign’s proprietary data. This scandal seems quaint compared to everything that happened after, but at the time this was a big deal.

For a week or so, that is. Then the news cycle moved on. But some people didn’t get to move on with it.

Singer-songwriter Charlie Hill was not one of those people. But at the time, he was roommates with a Bernie campaign staffer. And while most of America was indulging in schadenfreude, he saw how the episode impacted real people on the inside. With the media and Clinton’s people out for blood, the staffer’s entire team got summarily fired by the Sanders campaign. Many of them were blameless, but heads had to roll.

The incident inspired Hill’s band Bison’s rocking new post-punk song “Everything You Say and Do.” Lines like “All a sudden they’re all laid off, everything becomes undone” and “Everything you say and do has got to be locked down” directly come out of this political drama. Continue reading »

Jan 272017
 

Post-punk music has a long history of addressing sorrow – after all, two of the most iconic songs of the genre are titled “Love Will Tear Us Apart” and “Boys Don’t Cry.” On his new two-song EP Two Tragedies In The Key of F, Vermont songwriter Gary Peters aka. Ghost Weapons continues the tradition. But rather than addressing the malaise of the human condition broadly, he uses the loud, anthemic music to help deal with personal tragedies far closer to home.

The first song, “Auroras,” addresses his father’s recent death after a battle with multiple sclerosis. He calls it “a song to help the healing, and a remembrance of a good man whom I had a difficult relationship with.” In an email, he elaborates on the song’s most provocative line: “What if science has it wrong?”

“This is sort of my constant struggle with the scientific and the spiritual,” Peters says, “wanting to believe in something, yet not subscribing to any religion and having a strong background in science (I studied geology in college). The line is really me asking, what if there is some sort of afterlife/energy where we all end up? After having regrets about missing out on so many good years with my Dad…just sort of holding onto a flickering hope that our paths will cross again in some way.” Continue reading »