Posts Tagged ‘Philadelphia’

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Babehoven is the full-band vehicle for the songwriting of Philadelphia-based songwriter Maya Bon. The band are currently gearing up for the release of their upcoming EP, “Demonstrating Visible Differences of Height”, and have this week shared the latest offering from it, “Only So”.

On Only So, Maya seems to grapple with struggles both personal and global, finding similarities in the battles and attempting to find a way to carry on when things get too much. As Maya sings, “there is only so much I can take of this destruction”, attempting as she explains to, “draw a line in the sand, to set intentions for my healing and boundaries for my struggle”. Even if the tales here are deeply personal they can easily resonate with anyone wanting to find a path towards moving on and starting to heal the universal wounds. The whole thing is set to a subtly crunching musical backing, full of rattling cymbals and crunchy, flourishes of guitar, none of which gets in the way of Maya’s impressive cracked vocal delivery.

One of those songwriters who seems to instantly command your attention, Babehoven might be one of the year’s most important new musical voices. Demonstrating Visible Differences Of Height is out February 7th

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This band from Philadelphia has always sounded like rock & roll purism with a future. With an imminent new album, “Dirty Pictures (Part 2)”Low Cut Connie – led by singer-pianist-songwriter Adam Weiner – are now an act on the verge. Their sound is of Fifties rock & roll dynamics and controlled-Replacements vigor. Weiner swept the ivories of his road-beaten keyboard in a short-sleeve gold lamé jacket over a Stanley Kowalski undershirt – budget-Elton John flair meets Jerry Lee Lewis menace. A cover of David Bowie’s “Diamond Dogs” – recently cut for a Bowie tribute project curated by Howard Stern – highlighted the Seventies glam that runs through Low Cut Connie’s electric-roadhouse guitars.

But the first single from the next LP, “Beverly,” was next-level songwriting. Building on the solid hooks and charge of previous albums – set-list pillars like “Dirty Water” and “Shake It Little Tina” – Weiner has pushed the vintage-Philly soul in his choruses to a rousing elegance at the intersection of Todd Rundgren, Gamble and Huff and Sun Records.

Low Cut Connie showed their usual party-out-of-bounds. They have also brought a bonafide hit, ready for crossover.

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Frances Quinlan has among one of the most instantly recognizable voices in indie rock. As the lead singer of Philadelphia band Hop Along, she’s been at the front of two of this decade’s best rock albums, 2014’s Painted Shut, and 2018’s Bark Your Head Off, Dog, one of our favorite albums of that year. Her voice is a raspy force that touches on everything from punk to freak-folk. Hop Along originally began as Quinlan’s solo project, but now she’s releasing her first-ever solo album under her own name. The first single, “Rare Thing,” is a real stunner and surely a harbinger of things to come. Quinlan recorded the album with her Hop Along bandmate Joe Reinhart, who encouraged her to explore new sounds, at The Headroom studio in Philly. “Working with Joe on this made me able to better see that the guitar is just one vehicle … there are so many others to explore,” Quinlan said in a statement.

Frances Quinlan – Rare Thing from the album Likewise out January 31st, 2020

Frances Quinlan: vocals, synthesizer in verses, Rhodes, tambourine Joe Reinhart: electric guitar, synthesizer in choruses, synthetic percussion arrangements, drums up until 1:44 Tyler Long: bass guitar Mark Quinlan: Drums after 1:44 (as well as additions to 1st chorus) Mary Lattimore: harp

Frances Quinlan – Now That I’m Back from the album Likewise out January 31st, 2020

Frances Quinlan: vocals, electric and acoustic guitar, synthesizer (with friendly addition from Mark in 2nd verse) Joe Reinhart: Rhodes, synthetic bass

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“Covert Contracts” rule our world: manipulative relationships, encoded social norms, opaque technologies. “With a covert contract, the trick is that the agreement is only known by the person who makes it,” says Ali Carter, singer and bassist of Philly post-punk trio Control Top. “The other person is oblivious. Consent is impossible. A void of communication opens up a world of misunderstanding.”

In an era of such impossibilities, Control TopCarter with guitarist Al Creedon and drummer Alex Lichtenauer—rip open space for catharsis. Their explosive songs are a synthesis of varied interests and backgrounds: Carter’s innate sense of new wave melodies, Creedon’s sirening noise guitars, Lichtenauer’s feverish hardcore drumming.

On their debut full-length “Covert Contracts”, the songwriting is fully a collaboration of Carter and Creedon. Carter’s voice thumps and screams and deadpans while her driving, hooky basslines play out like guitar leads. Creedon, also the band’s engineer and producer, balances composition and chaos, equally inspired by pop and no-wave.

With her lyrics, Carter responds to feeling trapped and overwhelmed in a capitalist patriarchy, offering indictments of wrongdoing and abuse of power, odes to empathy and ego death, as well as declarations of self-determination.

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These songs hit even harder when you consider how close this band came to not existing at all. Despite being involved in underground music communities for years, Carter didn’t start Control Top (her first band) until age 25. Disillusioned by punk, Creedon had all but abandoned guitar. But Control Top felt exciting, a chance to experiment: to rethink the relationship between guitar and bass and use samplers to add new dimensions. Meanwhile, Lichtenauer had quit playing drums after an abusive situation in a previous band that had ruined playing music for them, and joining Control Top was an opportunity for rebirth.

At once anthemic and chilling, Covert Contracts puts words to today’s unspoken anxieties. Brimming with post-punk poetry for 2019, it’s the sound of agency being reclaimed.

CONTROL TOP is:
Ali Carter – bass/vocals
Al Creedon – guitar
Alex Lichtenauer – drums
released April 5th, 2019

CARACARA – ” Better “

Posted: December 12, 2019 in MUSIC
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Caracara has always had ambitions past Philadelphia. They could have stemmed from the proj- ect’s genesis: the implosion of former bands, the impact of long-distance communication and travel in relationships, the inevitability of experimentation and expansion. Styles and symbols seem to shift throughout their debut LP Summer Megalith, alternating from shimmering indie to whispers of neo-folk before relishing in the cathartic push of post-rock. This fluidity introduces a band with no point of origin, built from the mysterious clamor of noise as much as they are inspired by it.

Caracara’s EP serves as a showcase for its title track. “Better” is the sort of six-minute song that more than justifies its runtime, a bleary build-up and a scorching breakdown that enlists fellow Philadelphian Mannequin Pussy’s Marisa Dabice on vocals. “I think that there’s always been an intersection between post-rock and hardcore, but what I’m not seeing as much as I want to see is that type of music but with a greater attention paid to sung vocals and lyrics,” the band’s Will Lindsay said in an interview earlier this year, and Better finds Caracara toeing that line, both ends leading to a massive oblivion.

James Alex’s Beach Slang is back with his first LP since 2016’s A Loud Bash of Teenage Feelings. I didn’t know what to expect when I clicked on that link but this first single rips from front to end. Replacements Tommy Stinson helps out on this album.

While James Alex has always infused his anthemic power pop with the earnestness of a gutter poet, Deadbeat Bang sneaks up on you. Like all Beach Slang albums, the eleven tracks are all written and arranged by James. It’s big, loud, and brash, immediately setting the tone for a record more inspired by the stadium classic rock of Cheap Trick than early Replacements. The record was mixed by heavy-hitter Brad Wood, celebrated for his work with the Smashing Pumpkins and Liz Phair.

Downtown lust, switchblade blues, runaway stutter going tick-tick-tick-tick-tick-tick boom. Lipstick thump, baby, I’m bulletproof. Boulevard thunder going tick-tick-tick-tick-tick. Bam rang rang. Go bam rang rang. The deadbeat bang of heartbreak city. I’m a cigarette with nothing to lose. I’m a filthy rat, a heart attack, a no-good nothing with an itch to scratch. Bam rang rang. Go bam rang rang. The deadbeat bang of heartbreak city. I got a dimestore strut and a cold gin stare. I’m a loaded gun with a sawed-off sneer. You betcha.
From the upcoming full-length album “The Deadbeat Bang Of Heartbreak City”
Released October 14th, 2019

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Over a month after sharing “Best Laid Plans” from her sophomore album as Harmony Woods, Sofia Verbilla is rewarding our patience with one more single from “Make Yourself at Home” in the form of that track’s sequel, the equally heartfelt “Best Laid Plans II.” Where the former detailed the first cracks in a young relationship, the latter explores the tension that arises when this rift can no longer be ignored.

“This song is the culmination of all the angst and tension that has built up since the two characters have realized they may not be right for each other,” Verbilla explains. “Moments from the first ‘Best Laid Plans’ are echoed as the narrator realizes that giving into this infatuation early on was not the best idea. They genuinely care about the other person, and they want things to feel good again, but they ultimately attempt to postpone this fight because they know deep down it will lead to the end.”

“Months ago, I promised you / I would never dare to let us go to bed angry / Can you feel the resentment building?” sings someone who definitely listens to both boygenius and Paramore.

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All songs written by Sofia Verbilla

Vocals/Rhythm Guitar/Keys – Sofia Verbilla
Lead Guitar – Chance Halter
Bass – Hank Byerly
Drums – Jeremy Berkin

Released October 4th, 2019

Growing up and growing old with The Menzingers

Since forming as teenagers in 2006, The Menzingers have shown their strength as rough-and-tumble storytellers,turning out songs equally rooted in frenetic energy and lifelike detail. On their new album Hello Exile, the Philadelphia-based punk band take their lyrical narrative to a whole new level and share their reflections on moments from the past and present:high-school hellraising, troubled relationships, aging and alcohol and political ennui. And while their songs often reveal certain painful truths,Hello Exile ultimately maintains the irrepressible spirit that’s always defined the band.

The Menzingers’ Greg Barnett turned 31 this year, but his fans don’t need to be told that. On just about every record the Philadelphia band has released over the last 12 years, the singer and guitarist has alluded to how old he is and how he feels about it.

The band’s first four albums saw the four-piece navigating youth with reckless abandon: driving drunk, living in rodent-infested apartments, stomaching romantic failures, getting high on shift breaks at shitty jobs, partying way too much, and struggling to pay rent. But the band’s most recent album, 2017’s After the Party, opened with “Tellin’ Lies,” a song that had Barnett staring down the big 3-0, sobering up, and pondering, “Where are we gonna go now that our twenties are over?”

“My dad made fun of me when he first heard that song,” says Barnett. “He was like, ‘What are you talking about, man? Your thirties are the best decade of your entire life! In your twenties, you have no idea what’s going on. You and all your friends are broke, you’re constantly trying to figure things out, it’s a train wreck. But in your thirties, you start to understand yourself and understand others. You find your career path and things start to make sense.’ And I was like, you know what? You’re right. Why did I put it in my head that it’s all doom and gloom? It really shifted my mindset.”

Then again, Barnett’s father never played in a punk band. Time moves faster in music than in the real world. One day you’re the new kids on the scene and the next you feel aged out of it. When Barnett started The Menzingers as a quasi-ska project with three high school friends Tom May, Eric Keen, and Joe Godino in Scranton, he was a baby-faced teenager who got teased by older, more established bands.

“When we first started touring, all of us were always the young ones. We played a couple shows with NOFX and they just made fun of how little we were. And touring with Against Me!, too, we were always that young band,” says Barnett. “I always think about how we got to play The Lawrence Arms’ ten-year anniversary show in 2008. That was a really big show for us at the time — a sold-out show at The Metro, a historic club. I think I was 19 or 20, and I remember Brendan [Kelly] and Neil [Hennessy] and Chris [McCaughan], they were like my age now, and they had to constantly remind me of what a little baby I was. I was like, ‘What are you talking about? I’m an adult here!’”

But after over a decade of heavy touring and grinding it out, sharing stages with Philadelphia’s next crop of young bands like Modern Baseball, Barnett woke up one day to realize that The Menzingers aren’t punk’s little babies anymore. Now, five albums into their career, they’re on the verge of easing into a new role as the genre’s elder statesmen. Their new record, Hello Exile out October 4th via Epitaph Records embraces that, and kicks off with them already looking ahead at what comes next with the lyric: “How do I steer my early thirties, before I shipwreck, before I’m 40?”

“That line was me thinking I wanted to write a political song but asking: What else am I going to do about that?” says Barnett. “You need to do things besides just saying it. I want to make sure I start off a new decade by making sure I’m fighting the right fight and I’m on the right team and I’m helping the causes I believe in. How do I make sure I don’t let an entire decade go by without helping any type of social change that I believe in?”

It’s a thought Barnett wouldn’t have had the foresight to consider on the band’s early records, which were largely marked by the mistakes of adolescence. But now he’s contemplating how to mature gracefully and, as he’s been discovering, so are his fans.

“Our fanbase has grown with us this entire time. When we first started out, everybody was 17, 18, 19. The fans we get now, it tends to be people who are relatively close to our age group,” he says. “A lot of fans come up and say that it’s special to have a band that they’ve been able to follow as they’ve grown up — a lot of similar life challenges and similar questions and things they’re facing.”

Most fans hopped on the Menzingers train around their breakout album, 2012’s On The Impossible Past, a masterpiece of mid-twenties misadventures. The album is a young person’s idea of what it means to feel old. It’s when Barnett started noticing more Menzingers tattoos and when fans started telling him that his music has helped them transition into adulthood. He’s heard from more than a few people that the album’s love ballad “Gates” has been used as a wedding song.

“We make jokes sometimes that we just need to become a wedding band because the amount of emails we get about playing people’s weddings is insane,” Barnett laughs. “It’s so flattering, the idea that this is the biggest moment in a couple’s life, and they want us to be a part of it. That’s really incredible. A lot of people have connected with these songs in ways we had never even dreamed of.”

Hello Exile, The Menzingers’ greatest statement on adulthood to date, ends with a reflection on how far they’ve come since their scrappy Scranton beginnings. Its closing track, “Farewell Youth,” is, as the title suggests, something of a eulogy for the carefree nights of their impossible past. “Farewell, youth, I’m afraid I hardly got to know you / I was always hanging out with the older kids,” Barnett sings.

“I was a person who grew up really fast,” Barnett says of the track. “I was 13, hanging out with the seniors, going to shows, and they were giving me records. I remember being an 18-year-old on tour, having to wait outside the club because I was under 21. I had to wait until I had to play, and then be kicked out of the club again. We toured a lot like that, and it did feel like youth went very fast in that way. I always rushing to be older, always rushing to change.”

Looking at the road ahead, it’s hard to know whose footsteps The Menzingers should follow. All of the bands they’ve looked up to and cite as influences have faced problems of their own. Their Turnpike brethren in The Gaslight Anthem went on indefinite hiatus after their fifth album. Against Me! still endure, but have gone through their share of member changes over the years. The Menzingers have maintained the same lineup since the band’s inception, and have never gone more than three years without releasing a new album.

The Menzingers Are:
Eric Keen – Bass
Greg Barnett – Vocals, Guitar
Joe Godino – Drums, Percussion
Tom May – Vocals, Guitar

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House of Sugar – (Sandy) Alex G’s ninth overall album and his third for Domino – is a highly meticulous, cohesive album: a statement of artistic purpose, showing off his ear for both persistent earworms and sonic adventurism.

At the southern tip of Philadelphia’s Fishtown neighborhood, there’s an imposing structure on the Delaware River that somehow looks equal parts parking garage, hospital and convention center. The building is none of these things, but it’s just as overwhelming as each one of them. It houses Sugar House Casino, a dystopian abyss of colorful images leaping forth from slot machines and laser-bright ceiling lights hovering over card tables where gamblers can earn $150 in blackjack, lose it and swear off gambling forever (which may or may not have happened to this writer). Philly resident (Sandy) Alex G’s newest album, House of Sugar, his third for storied label Domino Recordings (and eighth or ninth overall, depending on who you ask), is named for this casino.

As unsettling as its namesake, the newest record from Alex Giannascoli at times improves on the inscrutable, circuitous experimentation of his Domino debut, Beach Music. At other times, it refines the accessible but still characteristically sauntering country-lite of Rocket, his masterful second album for the British indie label. In other words, House of Sugar sounds like a middle ground between the two albums that preceded it.

“Hope” appears on (Sandy) Alex G’s new album ‘House of Sugar’ – out September 13, 2019 on Domino Recordings.

“Gretel” appears on (Sandy) Alex G’s new album ‘House of Sugar’ – out September 1th3, 2019 on Domino Recordings.

“Southern Sky” appears on (Sandy) Alex G’s new album ‘House of Sugar’ – out September 13, 2019 on Domino Recordings.

House of Sugar, the new album from (Sandy) Alex G. Out September 13th on Domino Record Co.

Recorded October 8th-10th 2018 at Uniform Recording in Philadelphia, PA. Produced, arranged, composed, and performed by Sam Cook-Parrott. Engineered by Jeff Zeigler. Mastered by Ryan Schwabe. Cover design by Perry Shall. Photos and bouquet by Kate Illes. Center label design by Michael Cantor. Special thanks to Marco at Salinas for putting it out, my band for not being mad that I made a record without them, my roommates for putting up with my loud ass while writing and practicing this, to all my friends and family, and most of all to anyone who considers themself a “fan.” It’s my life’s great honor to rock for youWe are a rock band of rockers who love to rock. We also can be just one person who is much quieter but still loves to rock.. –Sam We are a rock band of rockers who love to rock. We also can be just one person who is much quieter but still loves to rock.
released May 10th, 2019