I started my artistic journey in 2005 as a rapper. Then in 2008, I was a gifted a guitar and began a long-lasting and ongoing stint of entertainment. I discovered local music for the first time in 2011. I loved all of the eye-opening punk/DIY/underground music around town. I was blessed that the underground spirit was concurrent with my own interest in creating stuff, making tapes, putting out records etc, etc.
Atlantic Thrills – My first time seeing them: April 13, 2011 opening for Black Lips at The Met in Providence, RI.
Atlantic Thrills were the quintessential KLYAM (Kids Like You and Me, the website/record label/show promotion thing that I run with my buddy Chris) band before anybody else. They opened for my favorite band at the time, Black Lips, and they had that rare energy and attitude that only a band like BL had. I knew we had to do stuff with them and they were the first band that we approached to play a Boston show under KLYAM Presents… back in 2012. Nobody came, well maybe 10 people including the other bands, but we had a great time and befriended these wildmen and multiple crazy show stories have resulted from hanging around them. The Thrills super loose and befuddled rock ‘n roll was really something that I loved playing along with at home, witnessing live, and “getting”. Good work dudes.
Saralee – My first time seeing them: May 26, 2011 opening for Peach Kelli Pop at the Problem House in Allston.
It seems like every single day I realize just how influential Saralee is to me. I think about it a lot. There is not a single band, probably besides little-known Memphis group Girls of the Gravitron, that captures the essence of basement and DIY nostalgia than Saralee. I remember listening to them nonstop at work in 2011 and 2012. Particularly the demo on Bandcamp. Their sound was and is more than just the music, if that makes any sense. That amateur brilliance and them just going out there and playing a bunch of shows was exactly my kind of thing. Simple and catchy. Pick up an instrument and make something. Incredible!
Fat Creeps – My first time seeing them: April 13, 2012 at O’Briens Pub.
Shout out to Gracie, Mariam, and Jim. Hit after hit. Just the best local band and the reason why we started KLYAM Records (shout out to the self-titled 10 inch, KLYAM-001). They didn’t sound like any of the garage, punk, or noise bands they often played shows with. That has also been written about Beat Happening. I can’t imagine not being inspired by Fat Creeps after seeing them a few dozen times over the 2012-2014 stretch. “Horoscope” is one of my favorite songs of the decade.
The Migs – My first time seeing them: August 10, 2012 at Moe’s Lounge.
For someone obsessed with garage in the early 2010s, The Migs were the dream. Reverb drenched solos sure but the pop sensibility did me in. Every song is a song to remember. And they had them all – slowed down ballads and some country/early rock ‘n roll to complement voyages into Pebbles and more psychedelic stuff. We’d been pushing for a reunion for a long time and it happened in 2015 for Fuzztival; unfortunately nothing has happened since on the performance front BUT KLYAM just released a 90 minute greatest hits tape curated a half decade ago by mastermind Keven Lareau.
Nice Guys – My first time seeing them: October 6, 2012 at The Big Stink.
These dudes brought a more brutal approach to their rock ‘n roll attack than what I was used to and certainly for good measure. They became a quick favorite, a high energy punk group with plenty of guitar heroics, but not in a gross or showy way. More like makes you want to run home after their set, turn on their record, and play along to it. The “it” I’m thinking of is the Splifft 7″ that we released in 2014 (doesn’t feel that long ago). Biased of course but I think those two jams hold up as the strongest in their catalog, but before and after, they’ve put out high quality material and are still kicking as one of the longest lasting groups of their kind in Boston.
Fagettes/Barbazons – My first time seeing them: October 13 , 2012 at The Rosebud.
At this point, I’m probably sounding redundant with allusions to FUN bands, but that really sticks out with this bunch. Blessed to have seen them many times in many places and to put out their last tape before they called it quits in 2015. Excellent showpeople and group dynamics made each and every show a rock and roll EVENT. Between all that going on plus their subtleties, I’d say calling them a garage band just ain’t right. STRONG songwriting. Miss them.
ACLU Benefit/Request Freebird – My first time seeing them: April 25, 2014 at Cambridge Elks Lodge.
The artist that doesn’t belong with the rest. In a league of his own. I connected instantly with Noah’s radical honesty. I never was one for singer-songwriters or sing-a-longs. ACLU (now Request Freebird) melts away any and all expectations and formalities and is just so refreshing and good for the soul. This is the real pop music of the 2010s.
Other artists that left a really strong impression on me:
URSULA – Minimal, amateur, no wave. Band of the year for a while.
THE MONSIEURS – Boston’s best live band of the mid to late 2010s. Maximum volume, maximum performance.
JANE LA ONDA – Kassie from Guerilla Toss solo; amazing tape came out on Feeding Tube in 2014. Not sure if Jane ever played live, but this bedroom drum machine & synth/outsider punk project blew my mind!
SLIMERS – New Hampshire’s answer to Ty Segall & White Fence – this was Keven and Lukas from The Migs as a punky/noisy two piece. “Spaghetti Ann” IS a classic.
RONNIE NORDAC – I asked Ronnie to play a show with me at Club Bohemia in 2013. Playing to just me, my dad (who was filming on VHS), Mickey Bliss, and the bartender. For sure one of the most inspiring sets of my early 20s.
I didn’t include any links purposely so you can discover any of these individuals/groups that pop out at you. Most unfortunately (or fortunately, as time has a habit of souring the musical creative energies of what is new…strong statement – this is up for debate) are not active anymore and this list is heavy on the early ’10s. There are still inspiring groups and some hope for Boston underground music. Less emo-poppunk-core and ‘indie’ bands claiming they are ‘Garage’, thank you.