Getting to Know

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Ben Stas

Freelance photographer/journalist, creator of Noise Floor

Ben Stas is the definition of a local music lover. Since moving to Boston in 2011, he has served as editor in chief of the Northeastern University student music magazine, has worked four years on college radio, and now contributes as a photographer and writer to local and national outlets such as The Boston Globe, Vanyaland and Brooklyn Vegan.

On top of this, Ben started his own blog, Noice Floor, and continues to share some amazing images and insights into the local music scene in Boston, it is one of our favourite Boston blogs.

We had a chat with Ben about his favourite parts of the local music scene…

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Is there an up & coming local band you think we should be aware of?

I’ve long maintained that Pile will be the cult-favorite Boston band that people are still talking about reverently in 20 years.

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Do you have a favourite venue to find great local music.

I’ve discovered many of my local favorites via Great Scott in Allston, which is essentially a bar with a stage at the back that typically hosts smaller touring acts and often adds a well-suited local or two onto the bill. Their shows frequently run well past midnight, but it’s almost always worth it.

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Do you have a favourite record store?

Armageddon in Cambridge’s Harvard Square is my go-to. Their focus is on metal and hardcore, which they have an incredible selection of, but they offer plenty of releases from indie labels of most every genre and well-curated used stuff. Plus there’s t-shirts, patches, cassettes, etc. and the prices are right.

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Who are your Music Mavens? Can you give us any local recommendations?  

I try to keep tabs on the major music sites that lean toward my tastes (Pitchfork/Stereogum/Paste/etc.) and check out whatever’s being written about that sounds like it might be up my alley. Allston Pudding is the go-to Boston source for that. Brooklyn Vegan (long before I started contributing there myself) has always been a great resource for tour announcements and show recaps, which appeals to me as someone who places a lot of value in live music and often hears up-and-coming acts for the first time that way.

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Check out Ben’s blog Noise Floor for some amazing photography and live reviews!

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Here’s a 9-track playlist from our favourite bands reviewed on the site.

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Knar Bedian

Editor in Chief of Sound of Boston

One of Boston’s finest indie-music journalists, Knar Bedian has contributed to music publications such as music technology magazine Evolver.fm, Canadian music mag AUX and English online Shout4Music. In 2013, Knar co-founded one of our favourite local Boston blogs, Sound of Boston.

Knar has made it the aim of Sound of Boston to amplify the voices of local artists and to provide a comprehensive picture of the Boston music scene—one that’s inclusive of all genres, institutions and infrastructure.

We had a chat with Knar to discuss all things local…

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Tell us a local artist/album/song or artist you feel should have more recognition? 

American Symphony of Soul—although their latest release was our top album of 2016, they don’t seem to have gotten the wider recognition and attention they deserve.

Check out the team at Sound of Boston’s top local albums of 2016 here

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Is there an up & coming local band you think we should be aware of?

There are so many! Honeysuckle and Ripe are two bands in particular that have been gaining a lot of traction as of late.

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Do you have a favourite venue to find great local music?

Cozy venues packed with local talent are abound here in Boston; there’s never a cover at Toad, the Lilypad has a living room intimacy, performances are just across your dinner table at Club Passim, there are plenty of local bands to be found in the many rooms of the Middle East, and you never know which Lizard Lounge artist is going to blow up to be a nationally-recognized star (Lake Street Dive, Tall Heights, and Darlingside, to name a few).

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Do you have a favourite record store?

It’s hard to pick a favorite, since we’ve checked out most of the record stores around town. Nuggets and Cheapo Records both have quite large selections and special “Local” sections. There’s also something particularly appealing about the bright lights and white walls of —they whisk away the typical musty feel you’d get at most record shops. (But I know that’s also part of the draw for some crate diggers.)

Check out their favourite record stores in Boston here

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Who are your Music Mavens? Can you give us any local recommendations?  

Lysten Boston and Illegally Blind book dozens of shows around town with local-packed bills; The Murdock Manor’s Monday residency series has featured many, many local artists performing stripped-down sessions; Sofar Sounds Boston is always full of surprises.

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Check out what is on Knar’s local music radar on the Sound of Boston

And here’s a 9-track playlist from our favourite tracks featured on the site.

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Cam Pekin

Presenter on Echo Boom on 4ZZZFM (Brisbane)

If you love bands such as Kyuss, The Kills and Silversun Pickups, it’s time you got to know one of our Mavens and radio host Cam Pekin.

His show on 4ZZZ combines classics such as Sonic Youth and Placebo with new releases and a strong focus on emerging talent from Brisbane, Australia. He caught up with us before his show on Tuesday.

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Tell us an album/song or artist you feel should have more recognition?

So much local, independent music goes unheard (something I try to remedy with my show each week!). One band I think deserve to be huge is Kobrakai. They’re a three piece Rock/Metal band from the Gold Coast. Think heavy, Kyuss-style stoner-riffs at a 50% faster tempo . They’re amazing live too, as tight and professional as any world-beating band. Staying local, another band that should be massive is Love Hate Rebellion. Also an amazing live act, coupled with some absolutely stunning songwriting. As good as any (better than many) stadium-fillers. 

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What was your first cassette/CD?

Spiderbait – Calypso. Circa 1997. I was 13 and could only afford to buy a single. Ithink it was about $9 for just four tracks, but I played them to death. After that I expanded my collection to include two staple 90s compilation CDs: Songs in the Key of X: Music from and Inspired by the X-Files (Foo Fighters, Nick Cave, FIlter, Meat Puppets) and the 1997 iteration of the Playstation Xtreme Games Soundtrack (blink-182, Grinspoon, Silverchair, The Living End, Jebediah). There was some cheesy stuff on those CDs but some classics too.

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Do you have a favourite video clip/s?

Concrete Boots by “After The Fall”. Split screen with one side going forwards in time and the other going backwards. Halfway through the clip the sides cross over as two separate stories collide and you realise they’re the same story. It confuses me every time I watch it. Another clip I love is Let Forever Be by The Chemical Brothers, it combines some simple camera effects with live action in a really creative way.

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What’s been your favourite gig?

I’ve been to so many awesome ones it’s hard to pick a single standout. I’ve been to just about every one of Gyroscope’s Brisbane gigs, and they’re always a loud, explosive, and energetic experience. The crowd really get into it too – it’s a beautiful, sweaty kind of controlled chaos. They did a ‘Choose Your Own Setlist’ gig once, where they let fans vote for their favorite songs online before the show (I’m surprised this doesn’t happen more often). Hopefully they’re coming back to Brisbane soon.

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What’s 5 of your favourite music documentaries?

Can’t think of 5 at the moment, but I love Foo Fighters, so both Sound City and Sonic Highways are the first ones that spring to mind. Dave Grohl’s infectious love of music comes across in every scene. Another doco that’s a bit out of left field would be Howard Goodall’s Big Bangs. Howard Goodall is a composer for TV in the UK and has written music for QI, Blackadder, Mr Bean and more. In Big Bangs he covers key moments in the history of (western) music, from the development of musical notation to the invention of the piano and recorded music. It’s fascinating (and available on YouTube).

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Listen to Cam on 4ZZZ

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Download Maven to hear Cam’s playlists

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