Go ahead and press play! Allston Pudding, one of the hardest working champions of Boston music, made you a mix! Check out what they have to say about the songs below.
Allston Pudding has always stood to focus on celebrating and supporting the up and coming music in and around the Boston area. We also realize that Boston has a rich music history from everything like ‘90s noise rock to hip-hop to pop to everything in between. We’re delighted to celebrate that history with this playlist for you. Boston music means everything to us, and we hope it does to you too.
Galaxie 500, “Blue Thunder”
Harvard University is pretty commonly known in the area as a bastion of both academic learning and elitism. But, the historically preppy establishment does have a bit of an artsy underbelly that gets passed over sometimes. And it comes epitomized in the physical form of Galaxie 500. One of the few “outlandish” alt-rock bands to come out of Cambridge, it holds a pretty significant place in history of the scene today. Not only that, but its members are still quite active with Damon & Naomi and Dean & Britta.
The Modern Lovers, “Roadrunner”
A song has never lasted so well over time the way “Roadrunner” has. Written by a 19-year-old Jonathan Richman, it was recorded with his band, The Modern Lovers, with producer John Cale of the Velvet Underground. The later version, re-recorded with Kim Fowley and released in 1981, slowed it down a notch, losing that relentless beat and two-chord protopunk riff that helped provide the foundation for the punk rock and new wave music that would follow — from the Pixies and Mission of Burma down to The Modern Lovers’ own drummer David Robinson and keyboardist Jerry Harrison founding The Cars and the Talking Heads respectively.
That count off in the beginning with a congested tone, like fall allergies have already claimed him as their victim, is only just the start of a fuzzy, warm, suspicious song full of youth. Jonathan Richman created a Boston classic. When it comes on in the car and the windows are down and every car beside yours becomes a mere item in that moment and you fly by a Stop & Shop, Richman’s words sound like the story you tell your friend over the phone that night under your blanket, the lights off and your pillow still cool to the touch, in one of your early, beautifully self-aware moments: “I’m in love with Massachusetts/ I’m in love with the radio on.”
Both my parents grew up in Boston, but, after graduating from local schools, relocated every few years to a never-ending list of states, including a year in Mexico. This song is one of the Boston tokens we carried with us everywhere, somehow ranked higher than that time my mother convinced a Wisconsin grocery store to order Fluff and the first time I wore a Sox shirt to a high school in Connecticut where everyone rooted for the Yankees. It wasn’t until I turned 18 that I actually lived in Boston myself, but thanks to Richman and his crew, it felt like the home I had been dreaming of all along, with a radio on my college nightstand and the power of Massachusetts when it’s late at night.
Kudgel, “Over Eazy”
Kudgel is a goddamn anomaly, simply put. An early ‘90s noise rock band featuring a singer howling at a mic set around belt buckle level shouldn’t be a band that sounds great when it comes time to reunite two decades later, but their set this summer with Swirlies was like witnessing a fuzz-heavy time warp back to 1991.
American Hi-Fi, “Flavor of the Weak”
There’s something funny about referring to a song released in 2001 as a part of “music history”. Chalk it up to the politics of critical concern, but it seems like there’s a certain lag time to retro-cool validity: new music gets an easy hip factor, and decades-old songs get a sort of time-tested dignity, but what about everything in the middle? Were the early 2000s really such a black hole of artistic achievement in popular music? It’s like there’s a pile of old hit songs waiting in limbo for the nostalgia factor to kick in.
“Flavor of the Weak” is one of those songs. You might go so far as to say that its particular version of pop-punk is one of those genres. As generally defiant of music snobbery as it was, radio pop-punk was an entry point for many young listeners (myself included) who weren’t otherwise learning about music in a compelling way. It wasn’t necessarily the height of musical innovation, but it was a near-perfect compilation of the things that stuck in my preteen mind: a catchy chorus, harmlessly angsty lyrics, a rhythm that’s simple enough to be memorable and distorted enough to play at edginess. The elements that make the genre the target of so much critical eye-rolling are the same elements that allowed me to get into music at all, to eventually learn about and feel connected to more complex work.
You Can Be a Wesley, “Creatures”
You Can Be A Wesley was the first Boston band that really got me into local music in college, and they defined the scene for me from then on. They had this cutthroat energy but still held such a humble perspective. Our community consists of so many talented people that remain so kind and modest. Every time that I hear “Creatures” I feel so much pride to live in such a place.
The Breeders, “Cannonball”
After recording their debut album in Scotland, pausing for individual projects in New York and touring with Nirvana throughout Europe, in 1993, The Breeders finally sat down to write again. To no surprise, Last Splash succeeded commercially, equipped with one of the most ass-kicking, fuzz-filling, high-fiving hits from native north-easterners. Hey now (hey now), let’s be blunt: “Cannonball” is the best by some of Boston’s best. Although it was released decently after The Breeders left our beloved city, the track serves as valuable proof for Boston’s historically over-stretched artists: No matter how many bands you play in, there’s always time for writing better rock.
Mission of Burma, “Academy Fight Song”
It’s hard to think of Boston punk through the ages without touching on Mission of Burma–it’s hard to think of punk in general without thinking of Mission of Burma. Born and bred in Boston, the band is still managed out of here by Boston music legend Mark Kates, and “Academy Fight Song” is the perfect punk antidote to the formal education system that is normally so prevalent in a city known, more than anything else, for colleges. Not all of us want to be part of your academy, and Mission of Burma is with us on that.
Converge, “Last Light”
When discussing Boston’s most influential acts, it’s easy to overlook the contributions that Boston-based bands have made to the hardcore scene over the past thirty years. Powerhouses like Slapshot, Give Up The Ghost, Blood For Blood, Have Heart and many more have all pushed the boundaries of the genre, but no Boston hardcore act is more revered than Converge. This track from 2004’s You Fail Me is a perfect example of how the band has mastered the art of being brutal yet vulnerable at the same time.
The Lemonheads, “It’s All True”
The grunge movement in the 1990s wasn’t exclusive to the Seattle scene, and The Lemonheads had some great albums that flannel-wearing people in Boston could also enjoy. Like Massachusetts pals Dinosaur Jr., The Lemonheads have fuzzy songs that build into perfect, noisy guitar-filled messes. This song came out at the peak of their career, and it is both one of their grungiest and best.
–Mary Kate McGrath
“Haunt” is one of the more vulnerable Pile songs. The track comes from their album Jerk Routine–the early, bluesy material they made before they started cranking out really proggy (but still excellent) post-hardcore stuff. Pile has earned a massive cult following here in Boston, and with so many releases under their belt it’s easy to forget some of their really beautiful early songs. Amid traditionally strange lyrics about skin and organs, a solid image comes into focus in the chorus: “All alone in the boiler room / Touch him the way that I touch you.” Who can’t relate to that?
Pasture Dog, “Uh Ghouls?”
Pasture Dog is a Northeastern University band I had the fortune of discovering at a Listening Party living room acoustic concert on Mission Hill. The college student pseudo-folk vibe with reverb heavy effects is done at the right level for my tastes. For this style there’s a fine line between ineffectively dry like a day old bagel and flooded like the Titanic and Pasture Dog walks the line perfectly. On top of that the voice is hauntingly charming!
Ben Katzman’s Degreaser, “Shred 1: Skool’s Kool”
Ben Katzman is a gem. The first time I met the music school dropout turned BUFU Records co-creator, he was handing me a tortilla as a part of his vegan taco bar in the kitchen of a Jamaica Plain house I’d never seen before. With crop tops to spare and a killer smile, Ben brought us: a great local label, BUFU Fest, and the pleasure of buying BUFU merch from his mom (who was in town for the weekend to see her sons dream come true). While Ben’s moved to a new city, he’s left us with the mantra that “together we can chill mad hard” forever. Thank you, Ben!
Arthure Fielder and the Boston Pops Orchestra, “Jalouise”
Boston-born Arthure Fielder became the first-ever American conductor of the Boston Pops in 1930. But that’s not all he was known for. In fact, Fielder was the one who pushed the Boston Pops Orchestra beyond their traditional, light, European repertoire. He promoted the first recordings of the Boston Pops, (“Jalousie” was the first single from the RCA Victor label to sell a million copies), and brought music into the homes of countless Americans. In 1970, he led the debut of An Evening at Pops on public television. He created the Esplanade concert series, erected Boston’s Hatch Shell, and started the tradition of celebrating the Fourth of July on the Esplanade. He even gave the Boston Pops Orchestra its name. You don’t really get more Boston than that.
Pretty & Nice, “Q_Q”
I think the first “Boston” “#local” band that I remember listening to when I got to college was Krill, but a close second was probably Pretty & Nice. They were also a staple alongside krilliam on WTBU’s local rotation. Golden Rules for Golden People is great last album for P&N (or who knows, they are on hiatus so there’s hope for more??), and they were amazingly charismatic live. I can’t remember if I saw them at their last show at Great Scott, but I definitely saw them one time at BMH when they opened for Jukebox the Ghost and that was a rad show. THE END!
It’s very rare that when a band changes their lead singer, they are able to remain in the same spotlight as they once were. Look at Joy Division vs. New Order: everyone still romanticizes the wiggles of Unknown Pleasures on anything from a t-shirt to leggings. Helium was different. They never felt whole until Mary Timony joined up front, setting up her own legacy as a guitar prowess. Her droll-like deep vocals clash with the poppy sensibilities of the guitars and synth on songs like “Superball,” creating a dynamic most bands are unable to replicate leaving them to still be as unique and fresh in 2015 as they were in the early nineties in Boston.
Bonus track: Bell Biv DeVoe, “Poison”
Because nothing gets a party started better in a Boston bar or club than this ultimate jam from 1990.