Music

Press Play: Connecticut's Underground Music Scene

 Press Play is a column by music writer Michael Hamad exploring the underground musicians of Connecticut. If you have new music to share, send it to  him at mhamad@courant.com.

  • Phat A$tronaut's Chad Browne-Springer Enters 'The Fifth Dimension'

    Phat A$tronaut's Chad Browne-Springer Enters 'The Fifth Dimension'

    Chad Browne-Springer, a 24-year-old musician from East Hartford, was already performing solo shows around Connecticut when guitarist Mark Lyon approached him about starting a band. A few lineup changes later (and only a couple of days after losing its drummer), Phat A$tronaut recorded “The Fifth...

  • Quick! Take A Listen (Or Two) To Mantis Before This Bloomfield Band Moves On

    Quick! Take A Listen (Or Two) To Mantis Before This Bloomfield Band Moves On

    Mantis is sleeper-agent music. I dismissed it at first. But I kept thinking about how the keyboard part in “Small Clone” floats above the chord progression, while a slide guitar plays the melody. And how the harmony vocals on “Jonathon Smith Travels North,” which say little more than “la la la,”...

  • Cheem: A Hartford Band That Refuses To Be Constrained

    Cheem: A Hartford Band That Refuses To Be Constrained

    Regulars at Connecticut DIY spaces will likely know Cheem (vocalist Sam Nazaretian, singer/guitarist Skye Holden, guitarist Gabriel Weitzman, drummer Sean Thomas and bassist RJ Briggs), a Hartford-area band with several tours and recordings under its belt. Once pegged as emo, Cheem’s sound evolved...

  • Queer Punk Band Space Camp Carving Out Its Own Scene

    Queer Punk Band Space Camp Carving Out Its Own Scene

    One night the members of Space Camp — drummer Sam Usifer, bassist Cameron Lovett and keyboard player June Violet Aino — were booked to play at an American Legion in Connecticut. They loaded in. “This dude from the bar was basically heckling us,” Usifer says. “We usually dress like freaks at the...

  • Jazz Punk Band Fat Randy's 'Reggaenomics' A Mix Of Weirdness, Politics

    Jazz Punk Band Fat Randy's 'Reggaenomics' A Mix Of Weirdness, Politics

    ‘Reggaenomics,” a new album by Connecticut jazz-punk band Fat Randy, establishes a central character — a sort of liberal, self-righteous, Trump-opposed idealist — and then unceremoniously knocks the stuffing out of him. “I’m looking forward to being on the right side of history,” singer-guitarist...

  • Perennial: Art-Punk Ecstasy, In 20 Minutes Or Less

    Perennial: Art-Punk Ecstasy, In 20 Minutes Or Less

    Surf all 22 minutes of aggressive guitars, synths, bashed cymbals, throat-rattling hollers and highbrow lyrical references on “The Symmetry of Autumn Leaves” (Howling Frequency), a punchy, searing art-punk record by Conn.-Mass trio Perennial, in one straight shot. You’ll likely paddle right back...

  • Waterbury Indie Rock Band Mandala Dreams Of Breaking Free With 'Cash For Smiles'

    Waterbury Indie Rock Band Mandala Dreams Of Breaking Free With 'Cash For Smiles'

    ‘When my mind leaves my body,” Mandala singer Morgan Fasanelli sings, in an airy, drifting voice, during the lush, slow, dreamy introduction to “Motel Lobby,” a song that surfaces four tracks deep into “Cash For Smiles,” the Waterbury band’s second album. All told, across 10 tracks and 37 minutes...

  • Rising Jelani Sei Melds Body And Mind With Elements Of Soul, Hip-Hop, Jazz

    Rising Jelani Sei Melds Body And Mind With Elements Of Soul, Hip-Hop, Jazz

    On a sunny, cold afternoon, four members of Hartford-NYC band Jelani Sei — vocalist Kayana Guity, bassist Evan Lawrence, and guitarists Sam Smith and Scott White — gathered at the base of Talcott Mountain in Simsbury. For what they were about to do — ascend to the cliffs above, to shoot a music...

  • DJ ChumZilla Debuts New Album 'Get Off The Earth' On CTNOW

    DJ ChumZilla Debuts New Album 'Get Off The Earth' On CTNOW

    In the age of algorithms, DJs are the unsung heroes of musical discovery. I don't want to choose all of my own music anymore, and I won't leave it up to Spotify, so I turn it over to trusted experts, artists committed to digging through crates of records, reconfiguring sounds and sequencing them...

  • Hip-Hop Collective ClaS!ck Reveals Striking Differences On 'Contrast'

    Hip-Hop Collective ClaS!ck Reveals Striking Differences On 'Contrast'

    "Contrast," the third album by Hartford-area hip-hop collective ClaS!ck, released May 30, lives up to its title; the music is both world-weary and positive, expertly engineered and loosely delivered, outward-looking and deeply personal. The spare hook of the title track, sung by guest vocalist...

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