It was Marathon Monday 2014. After watching the first couple hundred runners cross the finish line, we bought Georgetown cupcakes and wandered over to the Common, sprawling out on the sad grass. We were obnoxiously oozing Boston pride and soaking up sorely-missed sun. Lauren, our two hip amigos and I all have a similar taste in music. When we heard the hoppin’ band 50 yards down from us, all eight of our ears perked up. Four musicians, a bit rugged and a lot enthusiastic, had attracted us over with a banjo, upright bass, a guitar, a fiddle, and two lead vocals. They played with a stellar vigor and infectious joy. The rather rough male voice paired with an exemplary female one had us singing along to songs we didn’t even know. And we weren’t the only ones jammin’. Kids were dancing and a crowd was forming around this group of Berklee students strumming out indie bluegrass, folk. At the end of a mini-set, they introduced themselves as Damn Tall Buildings.
So obviously the next step in our sad, freshmen-year lives was to find the group on Facebook and follow them. And of course when we were invited to their cover album release show and party, we were immediately in. It was probably one of the more bizarre events we’d been to—parents greeted us at the door and gave us solo cups with our names on them for drinks—but also one of the best. First off, if you encounter a keg of IPA and free passing of j’s at a party in your freshmen year, you’ve struck gold. But secondly, the band (plus their two opening acts), who played in the modest living room of their basement apartment, killed it. They brought this fierce, fun energy and a catchy array of tunes (we’re talking CCR to T-Pain). Possibly the greatest part of it all was how communal it became. The band was clearly enjoying playing, parents were singing in support, and all the friends or randos (that’d be us) were clapping or humming or stomping a foot along. They’d not only created music we seriously dug, but an experience also. We now follow them on Spotify, spot them around the city occasionally, jam to them every so often.
Then this summer, Damn Tall Buildings released a self-titled EP of original songs. I, apparently, live under a rock so I’m discovering it a month late, but ohamI loving it! The album captures their sound just as they played that day out on the Common: raw yet refined; fun and spontaneous yet serious and devoted; thoroughly passionate. It’s only a six song album, but it’s a strong collection. ‘Honey I’m Coming Home’ hits home with some simple, but lovely lyrics —. On ‘Born to Lose’, my personal favorite, Sasha Dubyk takes lead vocals and she certainly doesn’t hold back. She tells the tale of a tortured family with a harsh tone to a slow, almost spooky tune (If you don’t know the song ‘Lie to Me’ by BettySoo & Doug Cox, check it out because this totally channels that). Max Capistran sings on ‘Leave This Town’ about escaping the city with his girl and spending the rest of their lives together. The juxtaposition of the teen-angst title with a vow to devote his life to this girl seems silly on paper, but is sung with such conviction that you wouldn’t doubt him for a moment. It’s easy to forget while listening that these musicians aren’t much older than myself. (I’m trying real hard not to dwell on their level of accomplishment in comparison to the nothing I’ve done.) They play like old souls, stories to tell and insight to spare.
Damn Tall Buildings have brought a warm Southern sound to the ice cold streets of Boston. With a genuine friendliness you don’t come across everyday in New England, they’re attracting listeners. Two or three weeks ago, they were featured in the Arts section of the Boston Globe and starting in late September will be touring New England. They’re a small, local group and they’re still working on those Berklee degrees. But their love of music is big and their playfully rowdy sound is so easy (and worthy of) getting caught up in. Damn Tall Buildings is certainly a band to watch—or at least jam to tipsy on a fading summer evening. Whichever you choose, excuse my blatant plug and give these fierce and friendly folks a listen.