The 2010s was a ridiculously awesome decade for the music scene in Providence, Rhode Island. The amount of talent that either took up residency in this city for a period of time or is still hanging around and performing is astounding. We’re also lucky in Providence to have so many quality venues for bands to perform at while providing a great time on a nightly basis. It’s incredible how a place with a population of less than 200,000 people can have a world-class music and arts community that rivals major cities. For myself, it was an absolute pleasure to cover the many bands and musicians that call this city home and I’ll never forget this era for the rest of my days.
You can’t have music without songs and there have been so many fantastic ones to come out of The Creative Capital over the past 10 years. Because of this, I decided to take on an arduous task of making a list of 30 of my favorite tracks. Now I could have made a list of 100, but that would have been way too long. As you read this, please keep in mind that this is all objective and I also kept it in mind to make the list as diverse as possible. Without further delay, here it is.
30.) Silverteeth — “Burning Planet”
Husband and wife Bill Bartholomew and Gabriela Rassi did a bit of traveling during the 2010s. They started the decade living in New York City, then they moved to coastal city of Newport, Rhode Island during 2013 and now they’ve been calling Providence home since 2017. They’ve also had numerous drummers rounding out the lineup of their indie rock band Silverteeth with Tom Berglund currently serving that role. “Burning Planet” off of their self-titled EP that came out in 2016 is an environmentally conscious song that incorporates bits of shoegaze and dream pop. Bartholomew’s guitar has an atmospheric tone while Rassi on bass and former drummer Keith Robinson create rock solid rhythms.
29.) Gavage — “(Downtown) Where The Killers Are)
One of the most exciting bands in Providence during the 2010s was Gavage. Their brand of punk rock that blended influences from The B-52s, Gang Of Four and James Chance & The Contortions made for an energetic live experience. Sadly a before their breakup 2016 they only put out a self-titled LP. It’s a damn good record though and “(Downtown) Where The Killers Are) is such an intense track. Frontman Kevin Toth has a wiseass style that’s in your face, Adrienne C.N. Berry is excellent on sax, Christopher Fragale shreds on guitar, David Simione is incredible on the drums and Jon Hoder holds it all together on bass.
28.) Eric and The Nothing — “Holes”
Eric and The Nothing was a breath of fresh air when the band started out in 2014. The quartet of frontman and rhythm guitarist Eric Tidd, bassist Joe Principe, drummer Bob Giusti and lead guitarist Billy Moretti intertwined themselves in the local garage rock community but they put their own spin on things. Tidd’s croon echoes the blue-eyed soul and doo-wop of the ’50s and ’60s that sets the quartet apart. “Holes” off the band’s self-titled debut full-length that came out in 2018 is an excellent example. For the past year or so, Julie Bozek has replaced Moretti on lead which has increased the quality of the band’s live performance and their next release is already starting a buzz.
27.) Juan Deuce — “El Oh Vee E”
For a long time during the 2010s I considered Juan Deuce to be my favorite rapper in Providence. The way he can take hold of a song over beats while captivating an audience is unrivaled. He also has a knack for getting his lyrics to stick in your head while making you feel an organic groove. “El Oh Vee E” off his most recent Sock Money EP that came out in 2016 has the ability to give this sensation. It’s been a few years since Deuce has either performed or put out something new, but lets hope 2020 starts a comeback.
26.) Consuelo’s Revenge — “Pasadena”
There’s something to be said about the fusion of blues, country, bluegrass and klezmer that Consuelo’s Revenge has exhibited since their start in 2012. It isn’t a cookie cutter approach in any way and it makes their music hypnotizing. “Pasadena” off the band’s 2013 self-titled debut is an excellent emotional ballad that has vocalist Amanda Salemi singing her heart out. Original members bassist Ian Lacombe, accordionist and guitarist Kirk Anderson and violinist Alicia Ruggerio along with former members Matt Nilsson on drums and Nicholas Smyth on guitar and vocals also contribute their talents on the song. These days, drummer Al Diaz, guitarist and vocalist Chris Van Booven and saxophonist Matt Swanton round out the lineup.
25.) Dylan Sevey & The Gentlemen — “Content”
It’s tough to say who had more transformative of a decade in the 2010s in Rhode Island than Dylan Sevey. Going from being the drummer of the hip hop band Milkbread to leading his own band of Gentlemen to now being behind the kit for Nashville rockers Ron Gallo and Aaron Lee Tasjan, Sevey’s career has grown leaps and bounds. His songwriting has always been fantastic and the bluesy “Content” off of the band’s 2013 debut album Join The Club is the apex of it. Along with Sevey’s twangy guitar, David Ponte shreds on lead, Brendan Moore shines on the keys and Keaton Albro lays the foundation on drums with former bassist Denis Murray (Devin Stimson is on bass in the photo). It’s a nasty track that oozes coolness.
24.) Bochek — “Hi-Lo-Fi”
With the effect Bochek’s prog-soul-funk has had in Providence over the past couple years, the future for the city’s music scene looks pretty bright. This young act consisting of vocalist Nevin Kosinski, guitarist John Bonoan, drummer Noah Mangelson and bassist Dante Krystman has an incredible amount of talent. They can exude an obscure song that’’ll grab hold of the senses or they can get poppy with it and make you want to dance. Embracing the latter, “Hi-Lo-Fi” off of their 2018 I’mmature EP is catchy and groovy with an abundance of beats, riffs and rhythm. It’s also a glimpse of how far these guys can go musically.
23.) Jesse The Tree — “Milk/Honda Civic”
Jesse Ramos, who raps under the name Jesse The Tree, is carrying the torch for Providence hip hop into 2020. He has an old school lyrical delivery that’s rapid, poignant and forceful. He also speaks his mind with his rhymes while keeping it all 100% real. The track “Milk/Honda Civic” is an Aesop Rock influenced jam with jazzy beats. It’s purely fantastic and you’ll put it on repeat.
22.) Tall Teenagers — “Lights Out”
Tall Teenagers could be the greatest minor supergroup of the 2010s in Providence with a group of scene vets playing emphatic garage rock. Co-vocalist and guitarist Damian Puerini and drummer Shawn Chevalier played in The Haymakers at the turn of the century. Damian’s wife Shannon on bass and her sister Chelsea Paulhus, who is the other co-vocalist and guitarist, were in Betty Finn around the same time. Their current band has a sound that embodies everything that was great about alternative rock in the early ’90s with a modern spin. “Lights Out” from their 2017 sophomore release All In Day’s Waste is the epitome of this approach.
21.) The Quahogs — “Dorothy”
Another example of a musician in Providence growing immensely since they started out in the 2010s is Steve DelMonico. His raspy voice and raw take on rock & roll resonates with his band in The Quahogs and he’s gotten better and better as time has gone on. The band has had a lot of changing members around DelMonico but their latest release, 2016’s Sunny Waste, has Steve Donovan on lead guitar with Ryan Gould on bass and John Faraone on drums. “Dorothy” off the album has become a staple of the band’s live performance with Nick Iddon behind the kit and Amato Zinno handling the low end these days. The track’s catchiness can sneak up on the ears, but that’s a good thing.
20.) The Viennagram — “Only The Good Ones Die”
One of the most unique acts you’ll ever see, psychedelic space punks The Viennagram have been electrifying audiences since 2003. This decade has brought more of the same and it looks like drummer and vocalist AV Vienna, bassist Chip Pietraszek and keyboardist Scott Peloquin won’t stop being weird anytime soon. It’s always welcome around these parts and “Only The Good Ones Die” off of their 2014 album Learn To Tame The Patterns is one of the many reasons why. It’s a Tom Waits-esque track that’s brilliant. They haven’t performed it live in a while, but hopefully that changes soon.
19.) Toad and The Stooligans — “All Things Considered”
The idea of the hip hop band came back in full force in Providence during the 2010s and one of those acts leading the pack is Toad and The Stooligans. Their jazzy tones courtesy of Matt O’Brien on drums, Alex Caimano on bass and Daniel Hill on the keys compliment the rhymes of guitarist Dan Pomfret and frontman Mike Jencks in fantastic fashion. They’ve risen to being one of the most popular live acts in the city, all you have to do to figure it out is to listen to their 2017 debut album Very Handsome.. A great song to start with is “All Things Considered”. From the first beat onward, the senses will be hooked.
18.) Hairspray Queen — ”Ploy”
Hardcore punk in Providence got turned upside down when Hairspray Queen came onto the scene in 2016. Raymond Fernandez would move around like a lunatic on the mic with Ian Benoit and Nathan Thao Phrathep shredding on guitars. Josh Rodriguez on drums and Ben Bigelow rounded out a noisy and raw sound that was energetic and infectious. Sadly the band broke up in 2019 but “Ploy” off of their 2017 self-titled cassette release is a total ripper. Try to sit still while listening, you most likely can’t.
17.) Jetty — “Go Getta Groove”
There are certain bands in Providence who are guaranteed to put on a party whenever they perform and Jetty is definitely in that exclusive group. No one can ignore their mix of R&B, funk, pop and soul. The melodies and harmonies from frontman Yeugene Barokha can take over a room while bassist Devin Fernberg, drummer Dave Davignon, guitarist & keyboardist Mike Spillane and multi-instrumentalist Mike Conway get the vibe just right. A prime example of this is “Go Getta Groove” that’s off their 2013 self-titled debut. It’s bound to stick in your head while making you bust a move in literally any situation.
16.) Beta Motel — ”Temptation Error”
Another example of a few music scene veterans coming together to start a band this decade was the new wave act Beta Motel. It actually began as a duo under the name At Bay with Mark Montalto on guitar and Ryan Potter on synth before former Mahi Mahi vocalist Joshua Kemp joined up. Then they did a Facebook poll for a name change and Beta Motel was born. “Temptation Error” off of the 2016 EP of the same name is a gem of a track that has noise and distortion coming from various angles. They’re also another band who unfortunately broke up in 2019 but the effect they had will never leave.
15.) Atlantic Thrills — “Acid Rain”
It’s pretty evident that Atlantic Thrills lead a resurgence of garage rock in Providence’s music scene during the 2010s. Bassist Eric Aguiar and guitarist Dan Tanner have always lead an ever-changing lineup which is currently a trio with Mark “Ref” Ferrara on drums. Their incorporation of psychedelia and vintage pop also makes their music pretty extraordinary. The track “Acid Rain” is a hard-hitting no nonsense jam that’s off of their 2015 self-titled debut record. It’s proof that rock & roll is alive and well in the city they call home.
14.) Boo City — “Ride”
Boo City embodies the whole package with a full rock band set up and a horn section. They combine soul, funk, blues, folk and reggae to create a pristine rocksteady sound. Tai Awolaju oozes charisma with her wide vocal range while Andrew Moon Band provides smoothness with his singing while strumming his guitar. Frank Moniz on sax and Grayson Farmer on trumpet make for a very talented horn duo with bassist Harrison Milloff and drummer Kevin White supplying the rhythms. They put out a fantastic song called “Ride” in 2019 and Robert Houllahan directed a cool music video for it.
13.) Way Out — “A Presence”
During both 2017 and 2018, there was a case to be made that post-punk trio Way Out was the best live act in Providence. Everywhere guitarist and vocalist Derek Knox, drummer Anna Wingfield and bassist Nick Sadler played in the city would have crowds moving with reckless abandon. A band’s talent can be represented when they get people in the dancing mood, and these three can do just that when they’re on stage. Anchored by Sadler’s bass lines, “A Presence” off of the 2018 Arc Of Descent EP is a perfect representation of this. Sadler has been on tour with his other band Daughters, who are also from Providence and I’ll be getting to them later on, all throughout 2019 so maybe next year will be the time Way Out starts performing again.
12.) The Silks — “Down At The Heel”
There aren’t many acts in the entire New England region who work harder at what they do than The Silks these days. The band started out as a trio trying to master the art of electric blues, they achieved it and now they’re performing all over the northeast. Hell, their debut release Last American Band that came out in 2013 was produced by The Replacements’ Paul Westerberg. That album had guitarist and vocalist Tyler-James Kelly and bassist Jonas Parmalee joined by Matthew Donnelly on drums and “Down At The Hell” is a near-perfect rock & roll song off of it. These days Kelly and Parmalee have drummer Sam Jodrey and guitarist Johnny Trama in the fold and it’ll be exciting when their first album as a quartet comes out.
11.) Vudu Sister — “Buffalo, NY”
You’ve probably gotten to the point of this article where you’re probably thinking that 2013 was a great year for music in Providence. A ton of awesome albums came out that year and I could easily do a top 20 just from that time period. Vudu Sister’s sophomore release Household Items is one of those awesome albums and it’s frontman, principal songwriter and guitarist Keith McCurdy’s garage rock ode to early’ 90s Seattle grunge. Nestled in that album is the acoustic “Buffalo, NY”, which is an incredible song in both a lyrical and a musical sense. It’s a fine example of beauty in simplicity.
10.) Sage Francis — “Three Sheets To The Wind”
When Sage Francis released his fourth studio album, Li(f)e, back in 2010 he did things a little differently than before. He collaborated with a bunch of indie rock artists such as Jason Lytle from Grandaddy, Tim Rutili from Califone, Jeanie Schroder from DeVotchKa and current ex-Death Cab For Cutie member Chris Walla. It resulted in what is still his most experimental work, which says a lot. One of the songs he co-wrote with Walla, “Three Sheets To The Wind”, is a rhythmic anthem for living on the edge. The consistent bass line fuels the energy of the whole track.
9.) What Cheer? Brigade — “You Don’t Want To Go To War”
You can’t include a best of list of Providence music without showing some love for the brass bands. I see it as a requirement due to how big of an event PRONK! is every Indigenous People’s Day in October. The What Cheer? Brigade has been an artistic staple in the city for 15 years and their second album, You Can’t See Inside Of Me, that came out in 2017 was their first release off a label at Don Giovanni Records. The triumphant “You Don’t Want To Go To War” has a slow, steady and brief build up to the horns and that’s what makes it such a fantastic jam. There’s a reason why people have danced in the streets when the band performs it live.
8.) Ravi Shavi — “Indecisions”
I remember the night when Ravi Shavi officially arrived in Providence. They were a last minute addition to an event called State Of The Union at Fete Music Hall roughly in 2011 and they played a rambunctious set to a raucous audience. I’m pretty sure people were dancing on tables when they performed in the lounge that evening. One of the songs that made attendees go crazy was “Indecisions”, which made it on the band’s 2015 self-titled debut LP. It’s now a local classic in the scene and it still has the same effect whenever frontman and guitarist Rafay Rashid, guitarist Nick Politelli, bassist Bryan Fielding and drummer Nick Iddon play it live.
7.) Lightning Bolt — “Air Conditioning”
The noise rock duo of drummer Brian Chippendale and bassist Brian Gibson did put out a couple albums this decade. Their most recent one, Sonic Citadel, that came out in 2019 might have reached the upper echelon of their discography. It’s their most accessible release so far with the production quality being a lot clearer and there being, dare I say it, a pop sensibility. Gibson’s bass tone is gigantic in “Air Conditioning” off of the album and it’s extremely forceful overall. I recommend turning the speakers up at full volume while listening.
6.) Brown Bird — “Bilgewater”
Dave Lamb initially started Brown Bird as a music project in 2003 and through various member changes it resulted in a duo with him and his significant other MorganEve Swain in 2008. The dawn of the 2010s saw them become an important part of the folk community in Providence. Their 5th studio album, Salt For Salt, got widespread acclaim in 2011 and even got them a spot on that year’s Newport Folk Festival. Lamb sadly passed on due to a case of aggressive leukemia in 2014 and MorganEve started her own band, The Huntress and Holder of Hands, in 2017. “Bilgewater” is a rustic blues number off of that album, it’s one of the duo’s finest songs and one of the many representations of Lamb’s legacy.
5.) Downtown Boys — “Monstro”
During the middle of the decade, Downtown Boys brought their political brand of punk out of the warehouses in Providence and onto the road. What happened afterwards was incredible with nearly every major publication declaring them to be the next big act to follow and it’s with good reason. Victoria Ruiz is unapologetic with her lyrics about inequality in various aspects of society while guitarist Joey La Neve DeFrancesco ups the emphasis. On their debut full-length Full Communism that came out via Don Giovanni Records in 2015, they made themselves heard in a big way. “Monstro” off of the album punches racial stereotypes in the face and never gives an inch.
4.) Daughters — “The Reason They Hate Me”
When Daughters got back together in 2013 after a breakup in 2009, there was a lot of rumblings among fans about a new album. In 2015, the rumors came true as Alexis S. Marshall, Jon Syverson, Nick Sadler and Samuel Walker took a photo at Machines With Magnets in Pawtucket, Rhode Island. They announced that they were working on a new record and You Won’t Get What You Want became the result of it in 2018. “The Reason They Hate Me” nails down the album’s fusion of industrial and post-punk with angst. If you don’t like people telling you how to do something you already know, this is for you.
3.) Deer Tick — “Main Street”
It was fairly obvious that Deer Tick was going to go placesw hen their debut album War Elephant came out in September 2007. John McCauley exhibited his songwriting chops to grab people’s attention, and the releases that followed showed steady growth. It wasn’t until when the band released their fourth album Divine Providence that McCauley came into his own an artist while leading a cohesive unit. “Main Street” off of it is one of the best songs McCauley has ever written. Ex-member Rob Crowell’s skills on the keys have a presence with guitarist Ian O’Neil and the rhythm section of bassist Chris and drummer Dennis Ryan leading the amplification.
2.) Roz and The Rice Cakes — “Floor Boards”
Indie pop trio Roz and The Rice Cakes began this decade just like they left it, with rhythmic energy that made people dance. Unfortunately keyboardist and vocalist Roz Raskin, bassist Justin Foster and drummer Casey Belisle called it a day back in May of 2018, but their legacy is still being felt by their fans and the bands that have come after them. There are a lot of songs I can choose from their discography, but “Floor Boards” sticks out for a few reasons. It’s the first time Belisle really made himself known on backing vocals, it’s very proggy and abstract and the production really captures the essence of what they brought live. Since the breakup, Raskin has been performing with her dream pop project Nova One, Belisle has been playing in the bands Burr, Cannibal Ramblers and 14 Foot 1 while Foster has been handling shows at the News Cafe in nearby Pawtucket.
1.) B. Dolan — “Jailbreak”
2015’s Kill The Wolf from B. Dolan could be the boldest hip hop record Providence music history. It really pushed the envelope in terms of sampling, delivery and the way it all sounds. “Jailbreak” nails this by taking rock elements, melding it with beats and covering it all with lyrics. The structure is almost like a cake, with the rock forming the foundation while the beats make the shape of it and the lyrics become the icing. It’s haunting to hear Brown Bird’s Dave Lamb in the chorus and it’s also cool to hear underground legends like Aesop Rock and Buck 65 lending lyrics. This song combined parts of the city’s music diversity to create something awesome and that’s why it’s in the top spot.