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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Boatcar demo reveals Brandeis noise rock band with promise

Published: March 6, 2009
Section: Arts, Etc.

<i>PHOTO from Internet Source</i>

PHOTO from Internet Source

The Brandeis music scene, such as it is, has plenty of members, but what differentiates boatcar, made up of Mike Riga ’09, Alex Fleming ’09, Dan Orkin ’10 and Mike Laderman ’11, is that they play instruments instead of singing a capella. The foursome has been together for about a year, and has just released a six-song demo.

Last night boatcar had a demo release party at Chums, where they’ve performed many times before. Those who’ve seen boatcar live will recognize the recorded songs as live staples, although now the band’s live song repertoire is much larger than these six songs.

The tracks were recorded mostly over winter break at Riga’s house. Fleming, Orkin, and Riga alternate vocals, with Orkin and Riga both playing guitar, Fleming on bass, and Laderman backing the band on drums. The band, who have performed all over campus but are most frequently seen in Chums, are hoping to expand from their Brandeis roots and start performing in and around Boston.

It’s a standard demo recording, a little fuzzy and full of a sloppy sort of energy. Nonetheless, the boatcar demo does sound better than your average unsigned band. Their style is tuneful noise, based partly on reverence for bands like My Bloody Valentine and the Pixies, Steve Albini-type noise rock with a bit of Sonic Youth thrown in for good measure. The vocals are low in the mix, very much in keeping with many of their influences.

As a whole, the demo is quite solid, though somewhat backloaded; the first three tracks run together a bit. The band’s instrumental skill is clear, though; the melodies are well-constructed and interesting, though sometimes they could stand to be a bit more dynamic over the course of the song. As Orkin explained, though, they’ve been developing longer and more complex songs as the members have grown more accustomed to each other.

Opener “Something Else” is a perfect introduction to the band’s sound, a quick-tempo noise rock song that nicely sums up boatcar’s performances. The next two tracks continue in the same tradition, short and fast, and are enjoyable listens. The standout track “Corner” is a bouncy melodic track that filters Beach Boys arrangements through a minimalist noise-rock filter.

“Corner” also begins the excellent three-song run that closes the CD. “Road Warrior,” a great song in boatcar’s live performances, sounds equally strong recorded. The choral “ahhs” make “Road Warrior” fast-paced and memorable, and, as the longest running track on the album, it’s probably boatcar’s best showing.

Closer “Triceratops” is certainly well titled, because the track does have a bit of a Dinosaur Jr. feel to it. As Fleming said, the title came up after the band got sick of calling it “Guided by Dinosaurs,” which would have been an even more fitting description. The rollicking melody and low lyrics make “Triceratops” quite a rocker, with an excellent percussive backbone. “Triceratops” also serves as a very good bookend to opener “Something Else.” Where “Something Else” has a similar tempo and the band “floating in zero gravity,” sung with a bit of a delay on those forceful syllables, “Triceratops” is grounding, moving to the less abstract and more concrete imagery of “every time she walks out the door.”

Boatcar is clearly a band with a lot of talent, and as a Brandeis band, there’s no excuse for not getting to see them perform sometime this semester. Keep an eye out for their performances in Chums or on campus. Visit to get the “Behind the Music” story from the members of boatcar, and give their demo a listen at