Boston Calling Bottom of the Bill: 2020

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Graphics by Maeve Huttner

By Megan Doherty, WERS Staff Writer

While Boston Calling is an incredible place to see some of the biggest names in the music industry, it’s also a space to discover new artists. Here at WERS, we’re all about finding new music. Though the festival itself won’t be happening this year, we can still dive into discovering some of the lesser-known artists that were supposed to showcase their talents. They are:

The Sheila Divine

Boston natives The Sheila Divine formed after meeting in a music theory class in college. With explosive choruses and guitar-driven songs, this group knows how to write catchy tunes. Their music feels nostalgic, as though you already know and love it. Lead singer Aaron Perrino’s soaring vocals make the group. One second he’ll be showing off his gritty belt, the next he’ll switch to a smooth falsetto. 

Their sound reminds me of a mixture of early ’80s post-punk and early 2000s pop-rock. My personal favorite of theirs is “Hum.” It’s an instant attention-grabbing track. When I first heard it, I immediately put it on my everyday playlist. Then, I proceeded to play it over and over again. What can I say? It's catchy.

Listen if you like: Kings of Leon, Interpol

PVRIS

PVRIS, pronounced “Paris,” is an alternative pop-rock band from Lowell, Massachusetts. The band has toured arenas with big-name bands like Fall Out Boy, Muse, and Thirty Seconds to Mars. Lead vocalist Lynn Gunn creates the group's distinct sound. She blends futuristic electronic sounds with traditional electric guitar and even adds punk drums on occasion. The band plans to release their third studio album entitled Use Me later this summer. They've already put out a couple of singles from the upcoming LP. My personal favorite so far is "Gimme a Minute." It has it all – strikingly vivid lyrics, pop-song-level catchiness, and even a distorted layered guitar solo. 

Lately, the band's received more attention since rapper Machine Gun Kelly sampled a PVRIS song for his track “In These Walls.” Lynn’s haunting melodic voice overlays the tune, adding a dark beauty and emotional element. It spent a couple of days trending at number one on YouTube. 

Listen if you like: Hayley Williams, The Maine

Iann Dior

At only 21 years old, Iann Dior is just starting to mark his territory in the emo-rap scene. He just began releasing music last year, but he’s already put out an album, EP, and multiple singles. Since the release of his first single, “emotions,” he’s had an explosive rise to stardom.

Because of his sudden popularity, people were quick to write him off as just another "industry plant," meaning people thought he presented himself as self-made to hide the fact that a label created a massive artificial following for him. In response to the debate surrounding his musical credibility, Iann fittingly named his debut album “Industry Plant.” By doing so, he took the conversation about his rise to fame and completely shifted the focus to his music. In less than 40 minutes, the album shows off his stylistic depth. It explores various sub-genres of hip-hop and blends in a dash of pop and early 2000s rock. His songs combine more modern-sounding beats with melodies reminiscent of ’90s grunge.

Iann kept the rising momentum surrounding his name going with his most recent collaboration with Machine Gun Kelly and Travis Barker. Together, they wrote a pop-punk inspired hip-hop track called “Sick and Tired” that I haven’t been able to stop playing on repeat.

Listen if you like: Lil Skies, Juice WRLD

girl in red

The bedroom pop artist girl in red, whose real name is Marie Ulven, hails from Norway. She writes hazy, lo-fi songs about queer romance and mental health. Over the past few years, her music’s been taking off, especially in the LGBTQ community. Many of her fans have even used her songs to come out. 

She’s definitely claiming her place in the queer icon wave happening right now with artists like King Princess, Hayley Kiyoko, and Clairo. Her songs embody peace and happiness with simple lyrics as sweet as “we fell in love in October, that’s why I love fall.” During the final chorus of this song she screams the words, “my girl,” almost twenty times. It sounds as though she’s finally accepted herself and is owning it. I never get sick of hearing her unapologetically be herself. 

Listen if you like: beabadoobee, Cavetown

Phony Ppl

Brooklyn-based band Phony Ppl personifies liberation. Their music remains rooted in R&B and hip-hop as they explore and merge countless sub-genres. Yesterday’s Tomorrow, their first album, introduced the world to their seemingly genre-less sound. Hints of funk, soul, jazz, reggae, and rock weave throughout the LP, making it one cohesive piece. 

Their killer track “Why iii Love the Moon.” flaunts their immense musicality and versatility. It’s a striking, modern soul song that starts with a beautiful piano and a slightly muted, calming voice. The piano quickly picks up the pace while lead vocalist Elbee Thrie continues into the chorus. Then, the song switches into a brief rap halfway through before ending with an experimental instrumental. The piano riff continues as layers of guitar and synths build up the track. 

Listen if you like: BJ The Chicago Kid, Earl Sweatshirt

Dinosaur Jr. 

Massachusetts-natives Dinosaur Jr. sound like a late ’80s alternative rock band. Unsurprisingly, that was about the time that the group got together. Their music reminds me of grunge, except it’s littered with guitar solos that are drenched in amplified fuzz. 

Lead singer J Mascis’s voice embodies the indifferent attitude associated with grunge. He sounds as though he just woke up and doesn’t have enough energy to try to convince you he’s been awake. This feeling of grunge even seeps into the way he writes music. In “Just Like Heaven,” the song just ends as if an answering machine cut him off. It’s so abrupt; the first time I heard it I thought my phone glitched. It sounds as though he was playing guitar, thought "that’s good enough," so he decided he was simply done. Despite the detached energy, he still manages to create electrifying rock tunes. 

Listen if you like: The Lemonheads, Pixies

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