Artist Spotlight: Handsome Ghost

Today, I have implemented a new feature into the blog called “Artist Spotlight”, where I feature a musical artist that catches my eye. The featured artist for this one is Handsome Ghost, an indie/ alternative band with Photo Finish Records. I have had the pleasure of seeing them a few times over the last couple years. The music chronicles some dark times, yet always has a sense of optimism, that there is a light to be seen in all negative experiences.

Handsome Ghost originated as Tim Noyes’ solo project. While he was teaching in New York after college, Noyes (who provides the lead vocals and guitar for the band) would work on songs and do open mics in his free time. Eventually, he decided to take music on as a full-time gig, beginning to collaborate with Eddie Byun, who does some producing as well as keyboard and vocals. Both from Boston, they became friends and released their first EP, Steps, in 2015. The band has evolved since then, with Caitlin Marie Bell (keyboard and vocals) also touring with them now.

Listening to the band gives me a certain nostalgic feeling, as I look back fondly on the first time I saw them. In September of 2015, they opened for Melanie Martinez at the College Street Music Hall in New Haven, CT. It was a special night already, as I was filled with anticipation to see Melanie, who is one of my favorite artists. I remember being drawn in right away by the keypad effect that created a loud bass sound during the opening to “Steps”, one of my favorite songs by them. I was a big fan of the soothing, mellow feel I got while watching the performance.

What strikes me the most about Handsome Ghost’s music is the vivid imagery it produces. One lyric in particular off their Steps EP in the song “Steps” I am particularly fond of is “If oceans are deep enough to drown in/ And lightning may shoot me down.” Those lines bring to my mind the vastness of the world, in the sense that it is amazing how dangerous yet beautiful it can be. Another song I love is “Promises” off their most recent EP, The Brilliant Glow, which was released last year. A line that catches my ear is when Noyes sings about shouting from the Northern Lights how he will keep his promises to be a better man. Although an exaggeration, it nonetheless conjures up a powerful image of Noyes shouting from the top of the world, and is a way to express just how far he will go.

In September of 2016, I again saw Handsome Ghost open for Melanie Martinez, this time in New York. After the show, I met Tim and Eddie when I bought  The Brilliant Glow. We made a connection as they saw my Red Sox debit card, telling me they were Boston guys. They expressed their gratitude for me buying the EP and coming to the show.

Handsome Ghost has had a couple of headlining tours of their own, the most recent coming this past spring with Frances Cone, another great band, opening for them. In early May, I went to the Brighton Music Hall to see them. The show had a very positive and optimistic feel, with the band playing favorites of old as well as their most recent releases. In a highlight of the show, Noyes took it back to his roots, stripping it down to just guitar and treating the audience to one of the first songs he wrote. Again, I chatted with Tim and Eddie a bit after the show. Both of them seem to genuinely appreciate their fans who support their music. They remain humble throughout the process, even as they continue to grow. I heard from Noyes they plan to release their debut album sometime in the fall.

Not only will they be releasing the album in the fall, but they will be performing on the “Emerging Artist” stage at the Billboard Hot 100 Festival this August, a great honor. They recently performed at the Firefly Music Festival. I for one am very happy to see them getting well deserved recognition, and am sure they will continue to have success.

Red Sox Notebook

Things Are Bitter on Twitter:

A few weeks back, when the Red Sox and Yankees played each other, the Yankees fired off a couple of jabs at the Red Sox on Twitter. After one win, they referred to the Red Sox as the “team in second place” and made fun of their slogan “Win, Dance, Repeat”, changing it to “Win. Dominate. Repeat.” The next night, they referred to the Sox as “the team still in second place.” When the Red Sox took over first place, their Twitter account made sure everyone knew they were in sole possession. I took to Twitter, asking the Yankees, “Who’s the team in second place now?” Promptly, the Red Sox lost and the Yankees won the next night, causing a Yankees fan to fire back to me, “I don’t know, you tell me?” The Yankees had been in command of the East for a while before sliding and losing 8 of their last 9 games. With the two teams tied now for first and the resurgence of the Yankees, a less bitter yet fun nonetheless rivalry could be brewing. The current Yankees team, full of young talent, doesn’t have any real “villains” like A Rod, making for a team that I can’t really say I have a strong dislike for.

Pleading (for) the Fifth:

The Red Sox have been struggling all season to find a fifth starter, not that the rest of their rotation has been perfect. Chris Sale has obviously been spectacular for the most part, leading all of the MLB in strikeouts. Drew Pomeranz has been a pretty serviceable pitcher himself. Rick Porcello, coming off a Cy Young year, has been anything but stellar, with David Price not quite performing at the caliber he is capable of just yet. The fifth starter, however, has been the biggest hole for the Sox. With Eduardo Rodriguez and Steven Wright, an All Star last year, out with injuries, the Red Sox have used several pitchers to fill the holes. Brian Johnson looked like he could be a good option, pitching a complete game his first start, but went out with an injury as well. Just today, the Red Sox have picked up Doug Fister off of waivers from the Angels. A pitcher who has a career ERA of 3.60 in the MLB but has been in AAA this year, it is not clear whether he could be a useful 5th starter or not. Possibly, a change of scenery could help him. It could be worth a shot to try him out there.

(Not So) Sweet Swinging Leon:

Last year, Sandy Leon was a welcome surprise in the batting department, getting the nickname of Sweet Swinging Sandy Leon from radio announcer Joe Castiglione. This year, however, he has not quite lived up to that name, with his batting average dipping from .310 last year to just .233 this year. The batting of Leon gave a boost to the lineup last year, and if he is able to turn things around, that could be a factor in the Red Sox making a run at the division and in the playoffs. The other Sox catcher, Christian Vazquez, has been a pretty decent hitter, batting .294, and has turned in some great defense. As the two catchers have been pretty much splitting duty, it would be great to have both hitting well.

Searching For the 8th (inning) Wonder

Another question mark for the Sox has been the 8th inning setup man, with closer Craig Kimbrel dominating the 9th inning. Matt Barnes has been the setup man for the most part this year, but it seems to me that Joe Kelly would be the better option. Barnes has allowed 3 earned runs in his last 2 appearances. In the last one, he gave up 2 walks in a row, a game the Sox lead 4-2 when he came in but went on to lose 6-4, with the 2 runners Barnes walked scoring on a grand slam. With a lower WHIP and ERA and the ability to bring more heat, it seems like it wouldn’t be a bad idea to try Kelly out more often as the 8th inning setup man, instead of in earlier innings like the 7th which he has mostly been used in recently.

Will the Real 3rd Baseman Please Stand Up?

Another major hole the Red Sox have had is at 3rd base, where they have used 7 different players this year, the most in the MLB. Deven Marrero has had his moments, but hasn’t really been able to hit consistently. The same could be said for Josh Rutledge. Pablo Sandoval has recently gone to the DL with an “ear infection and flu”. Most likely, this is just an excuse for the Red Sox to sit him down, as he has been a big disappointment in his time in Boston. I have heard different rumors of trades for the Red Sox to get a 3rd baseman, with the Royals’ Mike Moustakas’ name coming up often. He would certainly be an upgrade for the team if the price was right. In any event, with the worst production from any team in the MLB at the 3rd base position, something has to give in order for the Sox to make a serious playoff run.

Best of the Rest:

With all 5 teams in the division being separated by just 5 games, there is no reason to count anyone out just yet. The Orioles and Blue Jays sit tied 5 games behind the Red Sox and Yankees after taking different paths to get there. The Orioles started hot but have been cold recently, with the Jays turning it on lately after a bad start. However, both teams did make the AL Wild Card game last year. With some exceptions, they do have mostly the same teams as last year, so there is no reason to think they couldn’t each make a run at the playoffs or division still. The Tampa Bay Rays have been somewhat of a surprise this year themselves, sitting just 2.5 games out of first. A team that doesn’t have stellar pitching but one that can certainly hit well, they too could contend for the top spot in the division. Overall, the Sox record against the AL East isn’t too great, with all teams in the division usually playing them pretty tough. The only prediction I will give right now is that it will certainly be an exciting and competitive rest of the year in the AL East.

A Concert For Free With Timeflies and Bea

Last night, Hollister hosted a unique concert in Boston at Artists for Humanity with performances by Timeflies and Bea Miller. I found out about the event through Twitter and was able to snag a free ticket on the Hollister website the day before. There were many highlights of the day and event, with the most unexpected coming after the show.

I arrived to the city around 12 and headed to the Boston Common area. There, I passed by some locations that reminded me of key times in my journey of bipolar.

I saw the Wilbur Theatre, a place I had visited to see Melissa Etheridge with my dad and a cousin almost a year ago today. It was a show that for my dad was a real treat, as he was thrilled to see how close we were to the stage. However, I remember during that period being so bogged down by depression that I couldn’t fully appreciate the show. Looking back, it is cool I was able to see her. I’m sure it was meaningful for my dad also to have me there while he was seeing one of his favorite artists, whether I was depressed or not.

I also saw the Orpheum Theatre where I saw the singer Alessia Cara just a few short months later this past October. In a turn of events I described in an earlier post, I was now in a manic phase. I broke down crying at one point during the show, overwhelmed by emotions of missing my mom and feeling caught in the middle between growing up but in some ways wanting to hold onto the past. During that phase, my emotions were on overdrive, with everything seeming extremely emotional to me.

I didn’t think about these two places much more than when I passed them, but thinking about those phases more, I have an odd feeling. It’s not necessarily nostalgia or a longing to go back to them, but rather a feeling that they are part of who I am. Therefore, they do carry a special meaning to me, even if I wasn’t in the best state of mind at either point, if that makes any sense.

Back to the concert. I got there to wait in line around 4:15, with doors scheduled to open around 6. A relatively experienced concert waiter, I have the motto of better safe than sorry when it comes to shows.

Jumping forward, I was able to get into the show and get a great spot near the stage. Hollister went all out for the event, providing plenty of free food, drinks, and other gifts such as a t-shirt and drawstring bag.

One of the highlights for me was the performance of Bea Miller. A singer who is 18 and was on the X Factor at just 13, coming in ninth place, Bea is short but has a very powerful voice. She recently released her second of 3 “chapters” of 3 songs, and is certainly an artist worth checking out if you are into pop music.

Another highlight transpired when Cal of Timeflies ran down into the crowd, coming right up to me. I gave him a pat on the back as he was recording the crowd for a YouTube video, singing their well-known hit “I Choose U.”

To cap off the night, while riding back from the show on the T, I noticed a picture of Bea and Cal I posted on Twitter (the one featured here) was getting more traction than usual. At first not knowing what it was about, I hopped over to Bea Miller’s page to find she had retweeted it, the equivalent of sharing a photo on Facebook. The likes were coming in quite quickly, with Timeflies soon retweeting it as well about an hour later. The combination of retweets resulted in nearly 50,000 people seeing the picture so far. I didn’t want to make this the whole focus of the post, but it was pretty cool I was able to capture a picture they both recognized and shared.

In a new “Coming Soon” feature of this blog, I decided to give a sneak peek of the next post, which may come tomorrow or Saturday:

Coming Soon: The AL East is heating up, with new life being breathed into the Red Sox/ Yankees rivalry.