From the 617: The Novel Ideas
by Lee Schlenker on October 9, 2013
Posted in: Uncategorized
I’ll be frank with you: Boston gets a pretty bad rap here on campus. More specifically, the city’s metropolitan area–popularly known as JOB (Just Outside of Boston)–is particularly stigmatized, its natives burdened with the stereotypes of wealth, privilege, genericness and creative vacuity.
This mini-series of blog posts, From the 617, is intended to debunk these conceptions of JOB, exposing Middlebury to the rich and active music scene that my home region boasts. You see, the public high school I attended has produced a disproportionately high volume of talented and diverse musicians in the past few years – many of whom are pursuing music as a post-college career path. Among them are burgeoning singer-songwriters, a synth-pop band signed to a major label, a nationally touring folk-rock group and a hip-hop producer who has performed live on MSNBC – among many others. With this series, I hope to not only highlight some really dope musicians, bands and producers, but dismantle the preconceived notions that many MiddKids have about JOBers and their (lack of) creative merit.
The first band I’m going to present to y’all is The Novel Ideas, a band I’ve been listening to since 2009. Graduates of my alma mater Newton South High School, the guys/gals in The Novel Ideas are extremely gifted songwriters and performers, featuring a sound similar to that of Alpenglow, albeit laden with thicker and more intense instrumentations. Underscoring their folk roots is a reliance on vocal harmonies, extended jams, controlled yelling and dynamic arrangements.
My two favorite albums from them–The Sky is a Field (2009) and Summer Demos EP (2011)–can unfortunately no longer be found anywhere on the internet, as the band’s recent surge of success has led them to remarket themselves through new band members, a new LP and a national tour. Because of this rebranding, on their website you can only listen to their recent album, Home, which is nonetheless an impressive album – showcasing more controlled and tighter songwriting than on their previous two releases. However, if you’d like to get a taste of their earlier stuff, check out “Artichoke Heart”, a track off of their Summer Demos EP. Also, take a listen their cover of Fleetwood Mac’s Landslide, a video they uploaded to their Kickstarter campaign to fund the mixing/mastering/editing of Home.
Having opened for other on-the-rise artists such as Lord Huron and Caveman, The Novel Ideas is a band deserving of their recent success. A confluence of beautifully crafted lyrics and ethereal folk-rock arrangements, The Novel Ideas’ music has coalesced into a unique sound seasoned by experience and dynamism, suitable for both mainstream and college radio, large venues and even smaller locales like the Gamut Room.
Check out “Saint Marie” off of their second LP Home and, if you like what you here, try searching around the internet for The Sky is a Field and their Summer Demos EP – it’s well worth it!
Stay tuned for next week’s entry, in which I’ll be featuring another band from the 617 – Magic Man!