The announcement of the main lineup for the 2013 Burlington Discover Jazz Festival  caused a fair bit of excitement last week, in part because it looks to be a strong slate from top to bottom. But also because in Vermont, the Arrival of the Hepcats has become as undeniable a sign of spring as budding trees, chirping birds and widespread flooding.
But the jazz fest isn’t the only local festival worth flipping the calendar forward to peek at. There’s another local music hootenanny on the horizon that inspires giddy anticipation: Waking Windows III .
If you’ll recall, the underground music fest was founded two years ago, ostensibly as a response to the jazz fest. That wasn’t the explicit intent of its organizers, Angioplasty Media . But as it ran concurrent to the jazz fest, the underlying gist was fairly obvious.
That first incarnation was a modest success. Orbiting around the indie-rock quasar that is the Monkey House in Winooski, the fest drew decent crowds, at least in light of the wealth of options across the river. But there was a good argument to be made that perhaps the concertgoing public — many of whom appreciate jazz just as much as indie rock and experimental music — was stretched thin.
Last year, AM and company wisely moved the date of the fest up a few weeks, to mid-May. They also took advantage of the Onion City’s abundance of vacant storefronts to curate an ambitious, multivenue festival that essentially commandeered the ’noosk’s entire downtown. And it was awesome. The only dilemmas attendees faced were which great show at which cool bar or gallery to check out at any given time along the roundabout.
Year three promises to be even better. In a recent email to Seven Days, AM’s Nick Mavodones leaked a lineup featuring a wide array of local, regional and national talent that should not only draw the interest and adulation of hardcore scenesters but should be accessible to average fans, too.
Local bands are the lifeblood of WW, and the list of 802 favorites populating this year’s lineup reads like a who’s who of Vermont rock, indie and experimental music. Some highlights include Blue Button, Swale, Maryse Smith, Waylon Speed, Anachronist, Trapper Keeper, tooth ache., Parmaga and last year’s festival darlings, Alpenglow, as well as an appearance by Anders and Kendall, the duo project of Anders Parker and Kendall Meade.
This year, the cool kids over at Friends + Family are curating shows at the Stop Light Gallery, focusing on the experimental end of the local spectrum. Expect appearances from Lawrence Welks & Our Bear to Cross, A Snake in the Garden, Gloaming, Toy Boat and Wren and Mary, among many others.
On the nonlocal tip, Montréal’s the Luyas headline a collection of interesting acts that also include Portland, Maine’s Brenda and Phantom Buffalo, Massachusetts’ Speedy Ortiz and New Hampshire’s Passerine, among others.
And that’s just the beginning. Mavadones writes that he hopes to have the entire lineup and schedule set when the Waking Windows website launches next week. So expect more good news to come shortly.
In the meantime, tickets for Waking Windows III, slated for May 10 and 11, are on sale at ticketfly.com .
Music criticism — and arts criticism, generally — is an odd pursuit. For as much as its practitioners strive for objectivity, it is an inherently subjective exercise. No two sets of ears work exactly the same way. And though the goal of criticism is to remain as neutral as possible, we can’t help but be informed, to some degree, by biases collected over a lifetime of listening. Music critics are human, too, and just as beholden to their own tastes and judgments as other listeners.
As such, we’re as fallible as anyone else, and our opinions should never be taken as gospel. While I hope our musings on local records help you decide what you may or may not be interested in, they’re not meant to be the final word. And sometimes, despite good intentions, we choose the wrong words.
A few weeks ago I wrote about Love Wait What Yes , the debut record from Violette Ultraviolet , which is a side project of Shelly Shredder’s Jake Brennan. It was a generally favorable review in which I posited that the EP was a great breakup record.
Sounds good, right? Brennan thought so. Except for one pesky detail.
“What if I told you,” he wrote, shortly after the review ran, “that aside from a few obvious lines, this is not reflecting on a breakup at all, that it is actually an admission of love?”
Um … I’d say it was a lousy love record?
Brennan continued, asking, “Is there a different story you could see happening than one of lost love?”
In my defense, I had agreed to review the record on a drastically shorter turnaround than I would, meaning I didn’t have as much time with the album as I prefer. It’s a lame excuse, but an excuse nonetheless. Also, Brennan added that I wasn’t the only person to interpret the record incorrectly. It was apparently a common mistake.
Brennan’s question stuck with me. So I recently gave his EP another spin, listening with a newly adjusted perspective. And I did find a different story, one I like even more.
As a confession of love, the hesitance and vulnerability I mistook as commiseration takes on a distinctly different shade. It’s almost like you can feel the butterflies in Brennan’s stomach as he yelps and howls on “Lovers,” and the relief that comes when he reimagines Leonard Cohen’s cold and broken “Hallelujah” on the pastiche, “Leonard Coen.” “Chatter” imparts giddy confusion, not confused anger. And “Confession,” while still ethereal, feels warmer and less sinister. Love Wait What Yes, it turns out, is a touching love album. Who knew?
Well, Jake Brennan did.
Violette Ultraviolet play Nectar’s Tuesday, April 19, with Mission South .
In the wake of Levity closing last month, fans of local comedy will no doubt be anxious to see how the scene adjusts. Nathan Hartswick and the Vermont Comedy Club will likely play a key role in that evolution. VCC has been hosting shows at venues all over the state and plans to continue expanding its reach, in part by funneling more big-name talent through the region. That includes Brooklyn’s Ben Kronberg , a nationally touring comic who has appeared on Comedy Central, MTV, ABC and NBC and is flat-out hilarious. He’ll be at Club Metronome this Saturday, April 6, with support from some yet-to-be announced local comics.
Speaking of Brooklyn, an interesting quartet of Brooklyn bands makes its way through Vermont this week, with stops all over the state. The Brooklyn Hunt & Gather Tour features Avo , the Whiskey Spitters , Feral Foster  and Luis Betancourt , representing styles from funk to jug-band music to singer and/or songwriter. They’ll be at Johnson State College on Wednesday, April 3; Parker Pie Co. in West Glover on Thursday, April 4; and Radio Bean in Burlington on Friday, April 5.
Local wagon o’ funk, Funkwagon , kick off a monthlong residency at Nectar’s this Thursday, April 4. Each Thursday, the band will be joined by a variety of special guests. On deck this week are the band’s original founder and bassist, Jacque Perron, keyboardist Zach Rhoads and sax man Joe Moore. Funk yeah.
Last but not least, if you only check out one show this week, I’d recommend Fol Chen  at the Monkey House on Friday, April 5, with Valleys  and Errands . FC’s new record on Asthmatic Kitty, The False Alarms, is one of coolest and strangest electro-pop records I’ve heard in a long time. Just trust me.
A peek at what was on my iPod, turntable, eight-track player, etc., this week.
Fol Chen, The False Alarms
Brown Bird, Fits of Reason
Dirty Projectors, Swing Low, Magellan
Darwin Deez, Songs for Imaginative People
This article was titled "Wakey Wakey" in print.