Cabin fever

Local bands that will get you through the winter
By SARAH TOMLINSON  |  January 2, 2007

REVELS: Hallelujah the Hills release the first of their 33 albums later this year.

Local-music aficionados were downright spoiled in 2006. Everyone from old-school art-rock innovators Mission of Burma to new-school cabaret punks the Dresden Dolls weighed in with fresh releases — not to mention albums by Damone, Rick Berlin, the Beatings and the Campaign for Real Time. Have no fear, though: 2007 is already shaping up to be a stellar year for local music. And many of the biggest reasons to get excited are local up-and-comers who seem poised to make a splash.

Hardworking punk-rockers the UNSEEN will record and self-produce their sixth album in January at Outpost Studios in Stoughton, where they’ve recorded their past three albums including 2005’s State of Discontent (Hellcat). The as-yet-untitled release is due on Hellcat in May or June and will be followed by the band’s usual round of non-stop touring. Expect more of their recognizably loud and aggressive sound. “Tragedy” and “Point Break” take on the Bush administration, the war in Iraq, and the violent state of American society. There are also lighter moments, however, like “Alcoholiday,” which boasts the line “Alcoholiday — when you’ve had all you can stand, it’s a vacation in a can. . . . ” Singer Tripp Underwood via e-mail: “Shakespeare it ain’t, that’s for sure.”

Another local who’s paid his dues on the road and in the studio is Martha’s Vineyard–based singer-songwriter WILLY MASON, who on March 20 will follow up his twice-released Willy Mason debut (2004 on Team Love and then 2006 on Astralwerks) with If the Ocean Gets Rough (Astralwerks). It was recorded mostly at Long View Farm Studios in North Brookfield, where Mason’s mother (and sometime back-up singer) cooked in the ’70s. The session was enhanced by abundant atmosphere, with intermissions required when the sound of rain was too loud on the tin roof of the horse barn where they were tracking. Mason describes “When the Leaves Have Fallen” as “a love song for the apocalypse.” And “Save Myself” is up, where he’ll be posting a new song every week. He’s also releasing music by friends and family on his label, Grandma’s Basement (

Singer-songwriter CARTER TANTON (Birds and Rain) moves into band mode to release the digital-only EP Hunting with Cats under the name Tulsa in January. Recorded last summer at his own Narrow Lab studio, the album is due on up-and-coming Philadelphia-based indie label Park the Van, which is also home to the much-lauded Dr. Dog. There’ll be no CD-release party for the digital release, but there may be a celebratory show when Park the Van drops the as-yet-untitled Tulsa full-length in June. Check out songs “We took the pop-song structure and gutted the arrangements and threw down 16 tracks of overdubbed candy cornucopia twisted sound vision,” Tanton says via e-mail.

Indie-rock revelers HALLELUJAH THE HILLS will drop their debut, Collective Psychosis Begone, this coming spring or summer. Recorded and produced by the band at their home studio from February to September 2006, the album will be released by a label, but frontman Ryan Walsh is not yet at liberty to discuss details. Check out four songs Among some of the lofty claims Walsh makes about the album by e-mail: “Punks done put a hit out on it. Students love it. Teachers tolerate it. You can really dig your hands into it and make a real mess if you want to. It’s the first of our 33-album career, so we’re already at work on number two.”

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