With a little help

Bands, booking and community building

For many musicians, having space in life to create and stages to play on is the measure of success. While stream counts and ticket sales are fine for rock ’n’ roll fantasy, a Friday night in front of a supportive group of fans and friends is a dream that might actually come true — but it won’t happen alone.

That’s the idea driving Always Forward, a promotion effort led by Sam Beachard, who’s also a singer for Manchester nu-metal band House Lights. Beachard has been part of the local music scene since Rocko’s Bar & Grill regularly presented shows in the early aughts, along with the Sad Café in Plaistow. Between those and spots like Milly’s (now Stark Brewing), he and his college friend Mathew Laramie’s band Horns Become Haloes always had a place to play.

Sad Café and Rocko’s have been gone for nearly a decade and getting from the basement to the big stage is a bigger challenge. Beachard aims to change that.

“I want to build a community within the music scene of New England,” Beachard said by phone recently, adding that indie bands face an uphill battle. “A lot of times they don’t bring the crowd, but even ones that do, a lot of promoters and venues won’t work with them because they don’t have name recognition. They’re not willing to give them a chance.”

Incorporated in late 2022, Always Forward has done five shows already, with four more planned in the coming months. A typical bill is composed of an out-of-town act surrounded by a few local performers. On July 29 at The Strand in Dover, rambunctious Albany, New York, punk rockers The Snorts appear, along with Oziem, a Manchester band equally inspired by Social Distortion and the Misfits. Rounding out the undercard is Lovewell, described by Beachard as “emo alt rock indie that’s good for fans of Death Cab.”

The Jerritones, a Newmarket duo that’s fond of fuzzy guitars and oddball costumes, will headline. “I liken them to early Weezer with elements of the Hives … irreverent silly lyrics, with fuzzy guitars and catchy melodies,” Beachard said. “I tell people it’s something you probably weren’t expecting, but it will put a smile on your face and have you reevaluating a bit of your musical taste.”

The following weekend in Concord’s at Penuche’s Ale House, New Jersey’s Bobby Mahoney & the Seventh Son appear. Beachard calls them “an Americana punk band … very much like John Mellencamp or Bruce Springsteen’s style.” Local support will come from Wired for Sound and Sauce on the Side.

Soon, Beachard’s own band will appear, in support of a new album that’s been a long time coming.

House Lights, which also includes Adam Soucy on drums and bassist Bobby Spence, rose from the ashes of Horns Become Haloes. In 2014, the group made a “Seven Stages of Grief”-themed EP, then scattered. “It was more a getting-back-on-the-horse moment,” Beachard said of making the record. “For us to kind of prove … we can work together, we’ve done a little bit of growing up here, we can be mature about this. But we all kind of had our own thing.”

Laramie and Beachard pivoted to career and family, Spence had a myriad of projects, and Soucy left to study at Berklee. One day in the depths of the pandemic, Laramie reached out to his college friend and former bandmate to share the material he’d built up in the intervening years. “He and I have always worked well together, our styles just blend very well,” Beachard said. “I love the music he writes; it resonates with me emotionally. So it’s easy for me to write lyrics to it that I can fully get behind and I’m proud of.”

What It Means to Feel is set for release Sept. 1, followed by a series of live shows. The first single, “Love and Understanding,” came out July 21. A Beachard lyric could be read as a mission statement for his promotion effort. “You’re not alone in this battle you’re fighting,” he sings. “I’m beside you, still fighting.”

Regarding Always Forward, Beachard stresses that the community he aims to foster needs support from everyone, not just musicians.

“Find one or two bands,” he said, “and make it a point to get out to their shows regularly. That’s what keeps us doing what we do; that’s what makes it worth it, even if it’s not financially. Musicians are stubborn as hell and don’t know when to quit. We’re going to do it, but we need mental support too.”

The Jerritones, Oziem, The Snorts & Lovewell
When: Saturday, July 29, 7 p.m.
Where: The Strand, 20 Third St., Dover
Tickets: $12 at eventbrite.com

Wired for Sound, Bobby Mahoney & the Seventh Son, Sauce on the Side
When: Friday, Aug. 4, 9 p.m.
Where: Penuche’s Ale House, 16 Bicentennial Square, Concord
Tickets: $5 at the door

Featured photo: The Jerritones. Courtesy photo.

The Music Roundup 23/07/27

Local music news & events

Vocal versatility: A free al fresco performance from Sharon Jones will include selections ranging from jazz to soul to groove-steeped rhythm and blues. Jones, a Portsmouth native, is “arguably the Seacoast’s favorite performer” according to the region’s Jazz Society. Thursday, July 27, 6 p.m., First Congregational Church, 79 Clinton St., Concord, concordsfirstchurch.org.

Metal man: Grunge didn’t eat hair metal in the early ’90s, according to Stephen Pearcy, who fronted Ratt in its salad days on the Sunset Strip. Rather, the culprit was record labels trying to squeeze every dime from the trend. “The scene,” he told Goldmine recently, “was totally flooded with cookie-cutter bands.” A box set of Ratt’s Atlantic recordings was just released, and Pearcy has been making solo albums since 2002. Friday, July 28, 8 p.m., Tupelo Music Hall, 10 A St., Derry, tickets $50 and $55 tupelohall.com.

Stars turn: Named after now-sober Alice Cooper’s 1970s celebrity drinking club, Hollywood Vampires is the world’s most famous cover band. Joe Perry, Johnny Depp and Tommy Henricksen back Cooper in a show rescheduled from May. Their latest album is a live recording. Saturday, July 29, 8 pm., SNHU Arena, 555 Elm St., Manchester, $45 and up at ticketmaster.com.

Summer suds: A microbrewery situated near the Manchester airport hosts its annual Summer Block Party. The event has music from DJ Connexions, a regular bringer of beats and vibes to the brewery. It focuses on service industry people, with a pop-up industry night offering a discount to any servers and cocktail slingers who aren’t working. Enjoy a seasonally fitting “Bitchin’ Blonde” ale or their signature “West to East” IPA. Saturday, July 29, 5 p.m., Pipe Dream Brewing, 49 Harvey Road, Londonderry, pipedreambrewingnh.com.

Green scene: A regular end-of-month happening, Jim and Jordan’s Irish Sundays are family-friendly affairs; kids 12 and under can attend free. Fiddler Jordan Tirrell-Wysocki and guitar player Jim Prendergast began hosting weekly sessions in 2012, moving to less frequent gatherings post-pandemic. Sets feature traditional selections and songs from Tirrell-Wysocki’s collection of solo efforts and albums with his band. Sunday, July 30, 4:30 p.m., Stone Church, 5 Granite St., Newmarket, $15 (suggested). See jordantwmusic.com.

Barbie (PG-13)

The blond, permanently tip-toed Stereotypical Barbie visits the decidedly un-pink human Real World of Los Angeles in Barbie, another win for director and co-writer Greta Gerwig.

In Barbieland, pink — particularly that very specific Barbie hot-pink — abounds, with a pink wardrobe ready for Barbie (Margot Robbie) in her Dream House closet at the start of every day, perfect to wear while driving around in her pink car, waving to her other friends named Barbie, a bunch of Kens and the occasional one-off, like Ken’s skittish friend Allan (Michael Cera) or the discontinued pregnant Midge (Emerald Fennell). Except for our heroine, the Barbies of Barbieland have empowering jobs — President Barbie (Issa Rae), Scientist Barbie (Emma Mackey), Writer Barbie (Alexandra Shipp), Lawyer Barbie (Sharon Rooney), a whole slate of Barbie Supreme Court justices, a mermaid (Dua Lipa) — which, as the narrator (Helen Mirren, who is just chef’s kiss with every line delivery) informs us has helped the girls and women of the Real World reach their full feminist potential and solved all the problems of sexism forever. The Kens of Barbieland are all just sorta Ken — Ken’s job is “Beach” and there seem to be opposing Ken cliques, of which Ken (Ryan Gosling), who is in love with Barbie (Robbie), and Ken (Simu Liu), seem to be the leaders. Gosling’s Ken is particularly desperate for Barbie’s affection and notice. Whereas Barbie finds Ken to be a kind of unnecessary accessory.

All the Barbie empowerment doesn’t apparently come with a lot of introspection, because when Barbie suddenly has thoughts of death, she doesn’t know what to do with them. The thoughts of death seem to quickly metastasize into other problems, like morning breath, cellulite and, most horrifying of all, flat feet. Barbie goes to see Weird Barbie (Kate McKinnon), a Barbie permanently in the splits with a “kid just learning to use scissors” hair cut, to get advice on what to do. Weird Barbie tells Barbie that the answer is to find the girl who is playing with her and whose sadness must be leaking to Barbie’s subconscious. With the help of this girl and Mattel, Barbie will be able to fix the ruptured membrane between Real World and Barbieland. To accomplish this, Barbie will have to go to the Real World, a trip that involves several wardrobe and Barbie vehicle changes. Because he doesn’t seem sure he can exist without her, Ken tags along.

Most of this plot is revealed in the trailer and it’s fun to go in not knowing a whole lot more. I’ll give these extra notes: In the Real World, Barbie meets Gloria (America Ferrera) and her sullen middle-school-ish daughter Sasha (Ariana Greenblatt) and Ken discovers the Patriarchy, which may or may not have something to do with horses and Sylvester Stallone in fur coats.

I came into this movie a hardcore Greta Gerwig fan; I think her Lady Bird and Little Women are basically perfect movies. But I’d argue as much as this predisposed me to like this movie, I was also worried that this wouldn’t be up to that Gerwig standard.

Well, it is and I loved it — loved it so much I seriously considered watching it again immediately. Loved it so much I looked up the price of the official Gloria doll (it’s $50, which would be worth it if I could figure out how to send it back in time to my 9-year-old self). Loved it in a way that is both un-ironic and deeply appreciative of how wall-to-wall weird this movie is. Barbie is deliciously weird, even in its genuine emotional moments, right up until its very last second. And I loved, like those other Gerwig movies, that this movie tells a story of a mother-daughter relationship, this time going surprisingly deep in a short amount of screentime on the mother’s perspective.

If I can start making some Oscar picks now: Of course I choose Gerwig to get a director nod and a screenplay nod along with her partner (in this screenplay and in life) Noah Baumbach. I also put forth Ferrera, for a good all-around performance plus maybe two scenes that had me worrying I was about to cry in a packed movie theater. (I also did a fair amount of big out-loud guffaw laughing.)

And for Best Actor let me suggest Gosling, who is just absolutely going for it with his needy, addled, emotional Ken. He is so thoroughly game for anything in this role and absolutely appears to be having a ball.

Robbie by comparison can at times seem flatter than her supporting characters — but I think this is intentional and it ultimately pays off with what the movie is trying to do with her character. She’s able to bring genuine emotion and humanity to her character while still having a doll-like rigidity (both physically and in her thinking), at least for a while.

In smaller roles, Mirren is note perfect, Rhea Perlman has a great part that is surprisingly touching and Will Ferrell as the head of Mattel takes his The Lego Movie character Lord Business and pushes it to an even weirder place.

The movie also looks amazing, both in its set design and in the way the characters move through Barbie Land. Similar to how the Lego movies use the visuals of the Lego toys, their movements and their accessories to give layers to the jokes and the way the world is built, this movie uses Barbie’s physicality, the elements of her dream houses and fashions and fun little notes about how kids play Barbies both for humor and to build its characters. It’s fun but also smart and it makes you appreciate the work that went in to this movie while still making it look seamless. A+

Rated PG-13 for suggestive references and brief language, according to the MPA at filmratings.com. Directed by Greta Gerwig with a screenplay by Greta Gerwig and Noah Baumbach, Barbie is an hour and 54 minutes long and distributed in theaters by Warner Bros.

Oppenheimer (R)

Cillian Murphy is the titular physicist who becomes the “father of the atomic bomb” in Oppenheimer, a three-hour biopic and meditation on nuclear weapons from Christopher Nolan.

The movie loops around, primarily in three time frames: J. Robert Oppenheimer (Murphy) as he builds his career as a noted physicist, pushing the field into new realms of theoretical physics, and becomes the head of the U.S. efforts to build an atomic bomb; Oppenheimer in the early 1950s facing a hearing to keep his Atomic Energy Commission security clearance, and Lewis Strauss (Robert Downey Jr.), a professional opponent of Oppenheimer’s in the post-war years, facing his own U.S. Senate confirmation hearing.

In the security hearing, Oppenheimer faces criticisms for some of his pre-war connections to communist party groups, including his affair with Jean Tatlock (Florence Pugh), a party member he dated before and during his marriage to Kitty (Emily Blunt), who was herself married to someone else when their relationship started. In those 1930s scenes, we also see Oppenheimer and other scientists follow the news about German scientists and their experiments with nuclear fission. When the U.S. enters World War II and decides to build its own atomic weapons program, Lt. General Leslie Groves (Matt Damon) charges Oppenheimer with running the overall program and setting up the Los Alamos, New Mexico, middle-of-nowhere lab/makeshift town where all of the country’s efforts to build the weapon will converge and where, out in the desert, the weapon can eventually be tested. Scientists will need to be in New Mexico for the duration, and the existence of a town allows them to bring their children and wives, many of whom also have scientific backgrounds.

For all that the scientists are sort of dazzled by the puzzle of building an atomic bomb, it’s really the “we have to make one before the Nazis do” motivation that gets many of the scientists past their unease with the weapons. Oppenheimer is driven by both the science and the Nazi-beating but beyond that his feelings about the weapons he’s building seem more complicated.

In the Strauss hearing scenes, we see how Strauss’ attempts to torpedo Oppenheimer’s influence in the scientific community and the U.S. nuclear weapons program (where Oppenheimer seems to want to go slower than the ever-one-upping of the arms race) after the war lead to his own political problems. Downey gives a solid performance here but I’m not entirely sure why this layer was added. In addition to a needless padding of the runtime, it adds an element of earnestness and naiveté about politics that feels sorta goofy in this movie that already has a fair amount of “oh no, is our horrible invention going to be horrible for humanity?” silliness. On the one hand, the movie paints a fairly complex picture of a time (the 1930s) when pro-labor efforts, the fight against fascism in Spain, domestic social issues and the American communist party slosh around together, and when women play this sort of one-step-forward three-steps-back role, with highly educated women chafing against the homemaker role marriage seems to shove them in. And we see bits of scientists wrestling with the idea that developing the atomic bomb is an existential necessity (especially the scientists who are refugees of Nazi aggression) but also an existential threat.

But then we get elements that feel more black-and-white (sometimes literally going to black-and-white footage) and take us to, like, West Wing: Mid-Century and seem to suggest that these people who have been through a depression, international political upheaval, war and into the McCarthy era are unaware that cynicism, pettiness or moral compromise exist in politics.

All that said, Murphy gives a wonderfully agonized performance as an Oppenheimer who is self-aware and yet also self-deluding. He does a good job of showing us a man who is permanently shaken by what he’s done.

And the movie looks great — the explosions it makes so much of in the trailers are actually not as impressive as the vastness of the New Mexico desert and the way it shows us Los Alamos popping up from nothing. That part of the story — the pre-war scientific and political landscape through the Trinity test — is really well-drawn, with lots of texture and details you want to dig in to (like the women who get a chance to work in Los Alamos because they already have security clearances via their husbands, or the small professional world of the pre-war physicist community and their various alignments to the U.S./U.K., the Nazis or the Soviets).

Oppenheimer could have benefited from a cleaner, more streamlined approach to its story but it is nevertheless packed with good performances and standout bits of story. B+

Rated R for some sexuality, nudity and language, according to the MPA on filmratings.com. Directed by Christopher Nolan with a screenplay by Christopher Nolan (based on the book American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer by Kai Bird and Martin J. Sherwin), Oppenheimer is three hours long and is distributed in theaters by Universal Studios.

Featured photo: Barbie.

The Last Ranger, by Peter Heller

The Last Ranger, by Peter Heller (Knopf, 304 pages)

Yellowstone National Park is having a moment. An hour, really.

The first national park in the U.S., it was established in 1872 and straddles Wyoming, Montana and Idaho. It is one of the nation’s most popular tourist destinations and a plot device in the popular Paramount TV series. Its popularity derives not just from its natural beauty, but also from its wildlife, which includes bison, bears and wolves — the latter of which were reintroduced into the park nearly 20 years after they’d disappeared from the region a century earlier.

Human interference in the lives of wolves was the topic of Erica Berry’s memoir Wolfish (Flatiron), published earlier this year. Now Peter Heller addresses the topic in The Last Ranger, the latest in his growing compendium of novels that involve the outdoors, an interest he developed while growing up in Vermont and matriculating at Dartmouth.

Ren Hopper is a National Park Service ranger stationed at Yellowstone. It is a career best suited for solitary sorts, as much of the human interaction is observation, save encounters with the dumb or malevolent tourists, of which Ren seems to encounter more than his share. The dumb ones endanger themselves; the malevolent ones endanger the animals, by poaching. (Grizzly bears most often make the news when they kill someone, but more often it seems that humans try to kill them; their parts, especially the gallbladder, are components in traditional Chinese medicine.)

The story of how Ren, a fan of Russian fiction and specialty coffee drinks, came to live in a rangers’ cabin deep in the woods unfolds slowly. He learned to fish and love the outdoors under the tutelage of his mother, who drank to excess and left the family suddenly for murky reasons. He was married once, to a woman he deeply loved, but she died; why and how is initially unclear.

Ren’s best friend, besides trout, is a biologist named Hilly who studies wolves. She also lives in Yellowstone, where she is so entrenched with the packs that they know her scent and pay her little attention, as they live out their lives.

One of the more fascinating revelations of The Last Ranger is how keenly aware animals are of a human presence — some can smell us from nearly 2 miles away, and the more intelligent seem to sometimes leave their young within sight of wildlife-seeking tourists, knowing that they will be safe from predators for a short time. It’s like they’re getting some “me-time” with human babysitters, Heller writes. The novel is deeply researched, and some passages stumble into the realm of nonfiction when it comes to describing Yellowstone and its denizens.

But every good story needs a villain, and wolves are not it. The first antagonist is a surly local named Les Ingraham, whom Ren meets while fishing on his day off. To Ren, Ingraham is clearly breaking the law by pursuing a young bear with a dog. But he can’t do anything about it; he is out of uniform, and Ingraham, who is smart, has a story: his dog had been on leash but got away from him, and he was simply trying to reclaim his wayward dog.

Ren doesn’t believe him; Ingraham, like many locals, appears resentful that Yellowstone even exists and that the federal government enforces protection to animals and to the land. In particular, he seems to nurse a grudge for Hilly. And so when Hilly later gets caught in a leg trap near one of her observation points and nearly dies, Ingraham is a natural suspect, especially since he was arrested for assault 17 years earlier.

But as Ren researches Ingraham’s past, he learns that this seemingly malevolent poacher was a high school and college football star celebrated for an act of selfless heroism before he broke his back during a game. Rather than being a black-and-white suspect, Ingraham is now a puzzle to be figured out. At the same time, he learns about the existence of a group of wealthy ranchers called the Pathfinders, who had sued the federal government for stripping them of what they claim were historical rights to hunting and allowing their animals to graze on what was now park land.

Are the Pathfinders also more complicated than they seem, like Ingraham, or were they responsible for not only the trap that nearly killed Hilly and other seemingly taunting traps set around the park?

From the start, Heller’s sympathies clearly favor animals over people; like Hilly, who once made a vow to defend creatures who have no voice in the human world, he sees the worst things humans do as more reprehensible than the worst things animals do.

As Hilly says at one point, “If the earth were a meritocracy and we were graded on how much each species contributed to the well-being of the whole, we’d be [expletive]. God will blow the whistle at all the people and yell, Everybody out of the pool! It’s why Paul Watson, the Sea Shepherd captain, once said that the life of a worm is worth more than the life of a man. Sounds nuts, but it’s something to think about.”

As a writer, Heller has copious gifts of description. At one point, he describes the sounds of a wolf like this: “Two barks testing the night. Almost like a tuning, the confirming plucks of a string. And then a rising resonant howl that froze the stars in place, and dropped and hollowed like a woodwind, and then crescendoed again.”

He gives a character the habit of pinching the brim of his baseball cap as if to ward off bad luck. “It was like a rosary he wore on his head,” he writes.

But Heller’s novels are reliably gripping because they thrum quietly with tension, while slowly revealing the essence of characters who will stay with you for years. The Last Ranger, while not as good as Heller’s 2012 debut novel The Dog Stars — it’s a bit more predictable in places — is an excellent companion for the dog days of summer, especially for anyone who is more comfortable outside than in. A

Album Reviews 23/07/27

EbE404, Dark Ice Days (Give/Take Records)

It’s not that I’ve been avoiding the goth/industrial promo albums that have been coming in for many months from the Give/Take label; to be honest, the name of the PR company that services the imprint’s stuff is very similar to one of the nyms that a local troll uses when he emails literal gigabytes of punk cartoons to author Matt Taibbi and me, so most of it gets deleted out of hand. As far as the music on this album goes, it’s pretty much a stompy, wordless industrial DJ trip, the first two songs (“Open Water” and “Alchymicus”) sounding almost identical, which I truly hope wasn’t done on purpose; they’re of a Combichrist/darkwave sort, lots of sustained laser bursts, random samples and whatnot, not my cup of tea really but nothing that would keep the latex crowd off the dance floor, I suppose. Things get more interesting with “Bouncing,” in which the artiste(s) dabble in Greater Wrong Of The Right-era Skinny Puppy glitch and bleep-bloop. It’s fine for what it is. B

Styx, Crash Of The Crown (Alpha Dog 2T/UMe Records)

Owing to age and such, midcentury-era arena bands are dropping like flies, or at best, touring around with only one original band member, as is the case with Foghat, which is down to the drummer. Styx, though, comes off as being as spry as Greta Van Fleet, pound for pound; now that they’re pretty much a self-contained unit, with their own record label (and, assuredly, studio and all that), they’re free to be as prog-rock as they like, and this album does go into some pretty busy riffs and things, as evidenced in the opening track, “The Fight Of Our Lives,” which continues their tradition of writing sociopolitically topical lyrics focused on conflicts between the First and Third Estates, but always ending on a positive note (which gets more difficult each year, of course). But as I alluded to, this is more proggy; drummer Todd Sucherman has Neil Peart-level chops, which has to be making the other guys feel really pleased. Probably the band’s best ever, pound for pound. A+


• Jane, stop this crazy thing, it’s July 28 already, a Friday, and you know what that means, that’s right, it means there will be a bunch of new albums for you to listen to if you haven’t completely given up on music yet! Look there, the first album off the assembly line is a live album from Sissy Spacek look-alike Joni Mitchell, called Joni Mitchell At Newport! That’s right, Facebook grandmoms, totally live versions of all your favorites from back when everyone lived in log cabins and believed in forest giants and wood nymphs, and — wait, is this the one where — yes, it is, it’s the one where Joni was wheeled out to the Newport Folk Festival as a surprise guest during Brandi Carlisle’s set, and it was so cool, Brandi twerking like a dancehall princess or whatever she usually does, and then they rolled Joni onstage in her ancient scarab-inlaid sarcophagus and Brandi probably ruined a few songs by singing/twerking along to tunes like “Big Yellow Taxi,” “Shine,” “Help Me” and “Come In From the Cold” and whatever, “Both Sides Now” and all those other super-old melodies that, when the grandmothers put their Joni cassettes in the boombox at the backyard barbecue, it’s the cue for us males immediately to gather together, pretending not to hear them or our wives or dates, while we form a big awkward man-circle, sizing each other up just like our Neanderthal ancestors, cheap smelly American lagers in hand, talking about installing random shelves in our garages or the skyrocketing price of Viagra and all the usual man stuff. And so all those tunes will be on this disc, remember to buy this album so that Joni can get even more ridiculously rich, you owe it to ’Murica as a citizen.

• If you’ve spent any time within earshot of the overhead speakers in a Target electronics department you know of Post Malone, the Syracuse, N.Y., singer/sort-of-rapper who’s essentially a more Disney-fied version of The Weeknd, doesn’t that sound goooood? Whatever, he’s got no beef with any corporate hip-hop fraudster that I’m aware of, so I’m already fighting to stay awake writing anything about him at all, but suffice to say that his new album is called Austin, and the title track is OK if you like his usual brand of post-Drake bedroom-trap-chill and have a tolerance for Auto-Tune and grillz and all the other cutting-edge cultural touchstones Malone figures he should zzzzzzzzzzzz

• Ack, I fell asleep, sorry, guys, and look who’s here, it’s Florida nu-metal wannabes Sevendust, with a sizzlin’ new album titled Truth Killer! You know, I interviewed these guys once, way back, for the Village Voice family of newspapers, and they were probably the nicest, least egotistical fellas I encountered back in those days, so hopefully they’re still a decent-enough band and still making tolerable if not terribly inventive hard rock so that I don’t have to bring down the thunder and bum them out in today’s column, you know how it goes! OK, wait, I am now broadcasting live from YouTube, where I’m watching the video for the band’s new song “Everything,” and it’s pretty decent, like Living Colour but heavier. They always did sound like Living Colour, of course, but now they sound like an even angrier derivative act!

• And finally we have London-based indie pop band The Clientele, with a new LP titled I Am Not There Anymore! They’ve released albums on Merge Records (including this one if I’m not mistaken) and that always means one thing: the reverb level is cranked to 11, which automatically makes this band awesome. The single, “Blue Over Blue” is like a cross between Beck and Belle & Sebastian, not anything I’d ever listen to in the car, but it’s fine, you have my permission to listen to it wherever you like.

If you’re in a local band, now’s a great time to let me know about your EP, your single, whatever’s on your mind. Let me know how you’re holding yourself together without being able to play shows or jam with your homies. Send a recipe for keema matar. Message me on Twitter (@esaeger) or Facebook (eric.saeger.9).

Creamy Cucumber and Pea Salad

We have reached the end of July, which is one of my favorite times of summer because of the local produce. If it has been a good farming season, we have tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuces and more available at nearby farm stands. This year’s rain has definitely wreaked havoc on local farms, but we can hope that the fields and produce will be salvaged.

Although widely available, cucumber is quite often an overlooked piece of produce in my world. It doesn’t have a lot of flavor, so it isn’t a go-to snack for me. However, because of its low flavor profile, it is excellent at retaining other flavors. This creamy cucumber and pea salad requires few ingredients but delivers a lot of texture and taste.

The ingredients in this recipe are straightforward. Ideally, the cucumber will be freshly picked, but a grocery store cuke will work also. For simplicity, stick with frozen peas, but fresh peas aren’t that much more work. Shell and add them to boiling water for a minute or two, and they’re ready for the salad. I prefer Greek yogurt, as it is extra creamy, but plain yogurt can work as well. One note: The cucumber needs to sit for an hour and the entire salad should rest for a couple hours, so make this in the morning, if you want it with dinner that night.

On a personal note this is my last recipe for Try This at Home. It’s been fun writing these articles, but it’s time for me to focus on other endeavors. Thank you for reading, trying my recipes, and occasionally reaching out. It’s been a fun few years!

Creamy Cucumber and Pea Salad
Serves 4

1 medium-sized cucumber
½ cup peas, fresh or frozen
2 Tablespoons minced red onion
½ cup plain Greek yogurt
1½ Tablespoons cider vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
ground black pepper

Peel cucumber.
Slice in half lengthwise twice, so that you have 4 spears.
Cut each spear into ½-inch-thick wedges.
Place cucumber wedges in a bowl, and sprinkle with 1 to 2 teaspoons of salt.
Allow to sit for at least an hour.
While the cucumber sits, blanch fresh peas or defrost frozen peas.
After an hour, drain cucumber, and transfer to a paper towel; blot to remove excess salt.
Combine cucumber, peas and onion in a medium-sized bowl.
Whisk yogurt, vinegar and sugar together in a small bowl.
Add yogurt mixture to veggies, and stir to combine.
Season with salt and pepper to taste, stirring well.
Chill for at least 2 hours before serving.

Featured photo: Creamy cucumber and pea salad. Photo by Michele Pesula Kuegler.

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