Posts Tagged ‘Philadelphia’

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Until its removal in 2015, an enormous sign for the store King Of Jeans—depicting a towering, shirtless man bending over to kiss a kneeling woman—loomed large in South Philadelphia. It’s no coincidence that the band Queen of Jeans, who also hail from South Philly, took their name from the sign’s egalitarian-minded replacement. Since releasing their eponymous EP in 2016, the group has made a point of celebrating female identity, in both their music and their public persona. That message is amplified on their dazzling sophomore album, If you’re not afraid, I’m not afraid. While the group previously incorporated elements of doo-wop into their indie rock anthems, here they pull from a wide swath of rock history, embracing a sumptuous hi-fi sound, to deliver a resounding message of resilience in the face of dissolving relationships. It also addresses the death of frontwoman Miriam Devora’s mother (whose photograph graces the album’s cover), and the challenges of being a queer woman in fraught times.

Devora doesn’t merely process these traumas individually—she identifies situations in which they intertwine. “Tell Me,” for instance, turns an account of gaslighting (“You can’t sign away my rights on a dotted line”) into a testament to Devora’s resolve: “I’m a woman / And a woman knows her mind.” In “Rum Cheeks,” which channels the stately melancholy of Leonard Cohen, she searches for herself in the context of a tense relationship: “At your place / At our place?” she asks deftly.

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Instead of shying away from these moments of conflict, Queen of Jeans confront them with bombast. The epic kiss-off “Get Lost” evolves into a euphoric pop anthem in the vein of the B-52’s “Roam” or Fleetwood Mac at their most grandiose. Fueled by Patrick Wall’s thunderous drums and Mattie Glass’s vivid guitar figures, tracks like “Tell Me” and “Centuries” evoke the smart arena-rock of The Bends-era Radiohead. The album ends with “Take It All Away,” a cleansing, cathartic tidal wave of sound. “Break down that sorrow,” Devora cries alongside the tempestuous arrangement, summing up the album’s mission statement, “Rebuild things tomorrow.”

releases August 23rd, 2019

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Sheer Mag return with their sophomore album, “A Distant Call”. They’re still writing about surviving our current hellscape, but this time around, the politics get extra-personal. The album verges on being a concept piece, and the protagonist resembles frontwoman, Tina Halladay herself. The songs document a particularly alienating time in her life when she was laid off from a job. Broke and newly single, her father passed away, leaving her with more wounds than felt possible to heal. It’s heavy power-pop so sleek it gleams.

“We’ve been waiting to write these songs since we started the band and we were able to take these experiences and build a story out of them,” Halladay says. A Distant Call makes an argument for socialism on an anecdotal level. We’re talking about how late capitalism alienates and commodifies whatever is in its path without using the term ‘late capitalism.’” Palmer and Halladay’s new approach to lyricism extended to the recording process, too. Once the Seely brothers had laid down the tracks, Halladay recorded vocals with producer Arthur Rizk (Power Trip, Code Orange).

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Releases August 23rd, 2019

The Band:

Christina Halladay- Vocals
Kyle Seely- Lead Guitar/Drums
Hart Seely- Bass
Matt Palmer- Rhythm Guitar

Hear Strange Ranger’s beautiful, apocalyptic indie LP, <i>Remembering The Rockets</i>

Philadelphia-based indie quartet Strange Ranger’s lush-sounding third album, Remembering The Rockets, is pockmarked by the apocalypse; anxious moments poke through in the middle of lead vocalist Isaac Eiger’s verses, then recede from view. “I think he’s evil privately / Hold my tongue and do the dishes,” he sings over the summery pop-rock of “Sunday.” The breezy humming on “Pete’s Hill” is preceded by two troubled hypotheticals: “If I tried my best but killed again / If I hit your chest with gold cement.” On the fluidly synthetic “Living Free,” he thinks about a planet on fire and asks: “What if I just want a family?”

“It’s hard for me to write a song that’s about one event,” Eiger says over the phone from his girlfriend’s house in Philadelphia. “There are explicit references to wanting to have a family in a world that is not guaranteed to be the same, and latching onto that as a narrative is totally natural. But there are tons of lyrics on the album that are just about my relationships with the people in my life, just looking at the world. Climate change politics are a part of that.”

Recorded mostly at an ad hoc studio Eiger’s parents’ home in Montana, Remembering The Rockets — premiering in full below — upends the occasionally scuzzy and almost always fraught guitar rock that the band put out on their last two LPs, 2016’s Rot Forever (as Sioux Falls) and 2017’s Daymoon. A Korg M1 synthesizer finds its way onto most of the songs here, usually to warm the mix on instrumentals like “athens, ga” and “rockets” or to provide a dreamlike backdrop for the already uncanny lyrics. Bassist, keyboardist, and singer Fred Nixon creates drummer Nathan Tucker, and occasional vocalist Fiona Woodman distort, harmonize, and augment around Eiger’s guitar, turning most of these songs into delicate, miniature hallucinations.

That often beautiful detachment from reality fits with Eiger’s perception of reality — half rooted in the day-to-day, half off in metaphor. “Planes move through the sky / I walk to work in fading light,” he sings over the hum of “Planes in Front of The Sun” before again projecting forwards and scaring himself out of it: “Daddies with their kids / I still want that / I still feel sick.”

Listen to Remembering The Rockets below ahead of its release this Friday, July 26, via Tiny Engines

Sheer Mag

Here’s another glammy rocker from Sheer Mag’s forthcoming “A Distant Call”. Says the band’s guitarist, Matt Palmer, of the song and its video: “In ‘Hardly to Blame’ we see the psychic landscape of Philadelphia transformed by the collapse of Tina’s relationship with her partner. The streets they used to walk together, the bars they used to drink at, and the friends they used to share have all been tainted by the lingering memories of their time together. Closing out side A of A Distant Call, ‘Hardly to Blame’ shows Tina spiraling further down and down. Unfortunately the worst is yet to come, but “Hardly to Blame” gives us a glimpse at someone who thinks they’ve hit bedrock, unaware that the bottom is about to drop out.”

“A Distant Call” is due out 23rd August 2019

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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.

Alex Giannascoli’s new album, House of Sugar, is populated by gamblers, chancers, and conmen — the same spirits that have haunted his work for a decade. Now that (Sandy) Alex G has outgrown his status as indie’s best kept secret, he’s grappling with those demons in public.  Alex — the 26-year-old singer, songwriter, bandleader, pitch-shift enthusiast, poet, session guitarist, book-lover, son, friend, brother, boyfriend, and aspiring pool shark better known as (Sandy) Alex G — is in New York for a few days to put some final touches on his new album a collection of haunted-feeling collection of off-kilter Americana.

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

Philadelphia four-piece Queen of Jeans are the band you didn’t know you were missing, shimmying around your ears with vibrant three-part harmonies and ‘60s girl group and doo-wop hooks you don’t hear on your typical punk rock bill.  Queen of Jeans offers a rebuttal to that take in a few ways. First, their sneaky use of tried-and-true 50s arrangements, melodies, and song structures to critically comment the latent (or overt) misoginy of music that American society teaches us is canonical. Songs deemed “classic” by older generations that actually advocated a kind of unhealthy idea of what love is and what it should be

Their debut LP Dig Yourself(released on Topshelf Records) is an all ‘round winner, and now, they’ve given the cleverly-referential music video treatment to one of its true jukebox jams.

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releases August 23rd, 2019

Band Members
Miri Devora, Mattie Glass & Patrick Wall

The Philadelphia band Sheer Mag have announced their sophomore album, ‘A Distant Call’, with a new single, ‘Blood From a Stone’. On the fist-pumping track, vocalist Christina Halladay sings of poverty and struggle: “It’s hard luck living and I just make do/But if one thing goes the rest follows suit/What do you expect when you’re living cheque to cheque?”

According to a press statement, ‘A Distant Call’ is loosely based on Halladay’s own experiences going through a breakup, the loss of a loved one and being laid off. The album is due out August 23rd, two years after their acclaimed debut, ‘Need To Feel Your Love’, which was named among one of the best albums of 2017.

“Energy, desire and that indefinable cool that any great rock band must have burst from every angle. This album feels like a celebration, and Sheer Mag sure deserve one,” Sheer Mag will also be embarking on an extensive tour of North America, the UK and Europe.

“A Distant Call” is out 23rd August 2019

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This week (Sandy) Alex G (aka Philadelphia-based singer/songwriter Alex Giannascoli) announced a new album, “House of Sugar”, and shared a video for its first single, “Gretel.” House of Sugar is due out September 13th via Domino Recordings.

House of Sugar is Giannascoli’s ninth album overall and his third for Domino. It’s the follow-up to 2017’s Rocket. Jacob Portrait, who mixed both Rocket and 2015’s Beach Music, also worked on House of Sugar. Zev Magasis directed the “Gretel” video.  Despite the record’s title, the lead single from (Sandy) Alex G’s House of Sugar opens with striking darkness and bitterness before easing into the sweet. In “Gretel,” (Sandy) Alex G weaves two seemingly disparate talents of his — writing beautiful, melodic refrains and creating strange, unsettling soundscapes — into a captivating, fresh take on the Brothers Grimm.

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

By the time you’re reading this, you may have noticed that two Slaughter Beach, Dog songs have surfaced on the internet. We’re here to tell you, loyal Lame-O Records that the new SBD album, ‘Safe and Also No Fear’ will be released on 2nd August.

Across the previous Slaughter Beach, Dog albums, Jake Ewald has crafted a specific sound. It’s one that incorporates pop music, indie-rock, folk, and just the faintest dash of punk in order to create something that’s accessible but still artistically rich. With Safe And Also No Fear, the band’s third album,

In the wake of 2017’s Birdie, an album awash in warm tones and bubbly pop hooks, Safe And Also No Fear can’t help but feel like a turn toward darkness. It’s not one that’s instigated by the outside world—as inescapable as it may be—but instead the dramatic shifts of a person’s interior life. Where Ewald once offered tightly woven vignettes about characters that mirrored the people in his life, Safe And Also No Fear finds him naked at the album’s center, questioning everything he knows about himself. Around him, bassist Ian Farmer, guitarist Nick Harris, and drummer Zack Robbins spin out songs that are dense, swirling amalgams of difficult questions and hard-earned realizations—the kind that can’t be expressed through the accepted structures of pop music.

This isn’t to say there aren’t hooks, as songs like “Good Ones” and “One Day” have effervescent melodies anchoring them, but Safe And Also No Fear generally avoids taking the clear-cut path. As Ewald tells it, that’s a horrifying thing to put out into the world. After putting the finishing touches on the album, he sat down and listened back to the demos he’d first made, then the album itself, and realized it sounded unlike anything he’d ever done before. His creative impulses had changed over the years, and the result was a record that maybe his followers wouldn’t actually like.

Ewald seemingly addresses this anxiety during the album’s most ambitious track, the seven-minute long “Black Oak.” It’s fitting that midway through the longest song Ewald has ever written he offhandedly remarks, “Realizing this may put my career on the line.” It’s part of a larger narrative, but one that’s more textural and ambiguous than what the band has been known for. Is that lyric about Ewald and Slaughter Beach, Dog? We’ll maybe never know—and that’s the beauty of Safe And Also No Fear. It’s an album so profoundly singular, one that sees the band willing to wade out into deep waters without a life vest, that it encourages you to go out there with it. You hear the band fully embrace the unknown at the end of “Black Oak,” when the song explodes open and Ewald’s vocals are looped into a refrain that’s haunting and impossible to sing along with accurately. You can pick out phrases and hum a melody, but there’s no didactic meaning behind it. It’s there for you to find if you need it.

Safe And Also No Fear is a bold gesture, not just because of the music contained therein, but because it required Ewald to interrogate his artistic tendencies, breaking himself of his habits in service of making something he never thought he could. That involved trusting his band, with whom Ewald collaborated for a full year of writing and recording. Unlike Birdie, where Ewald played every instrument, with Safe And Also No Fear everyone’s fingerprints are on it. Though the album is a product of Ewald committing to his vision, it’s also proof of the way that Farmer, Harris, and Robbins are able to expand Slaughter Beach, Dog’s sonic boundaries in subtle, evocative ways.

The result of that collaboration is Safe And Also No Fear, an album that doesn’t leave easy clues as to its influences or intentions, instead offering up vague sketches of what it feels like to be a person who is constantly confused and anxious, yet completely committed to finding a way through it. It’s not simple, and Ewald’s never didactic, but the message begins to come through the more you revisit it. Every part of Safe And Also No Fear is a risk, and that’s exactly what makes it so beautiful. It’s a record that sees a band fully committed to their art, in spite of what everyone else would advise. And if you’re listening close enough, it really does make a lot of sense.

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Chris Forsyth’s All Time Present is an adventurous and, considering its length, remarkably tight double LP of riff-heavy rock solid enough to bang your head on, but not really to bang your head to as the overall vibe here is of a vintage that pre-dates punk. But that’s not to say this is dad rock—All Time Present gives the classics an almost ambient treatment, flattening out the edges of the songs while preserving the technical frills, ultimately landing somewhere around a less self-interested style of prog. This is rock music for the people. That said, fair warning to all ye who enter: things start to get real groovy around track three, “The Man Who Knows Too Much,” after which Forsyth and company plunge fully and without reservation into a heady well of eerie psychedelia and British folk-rock whimsy on the following track, the 11-minute long number “Dream Song,” which also features some appropriately hazy double tracked vocals from Rosali Middleman. But never fear, intrepid listener. Trust in Forsyth to lead the way through long stretches of extended, expansive jamming, and by the time you get to final track, “Techno Top,” it’s 1980 and we’re all dancing to the Talking Heads.

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released April 12th, 2019

Chris Forsyth – guitar, vocal, Space Echo
with
Shawn Edward Hansen – Prophet 12, Mellotron, piano, saxophone
Ryan Jewell – drums, percussion
Peter Kerlin – bass guitar
Rosali Middleman – vocal on (4)
Jeff Zeigler – Onde Magnétique on (5)

“…a near-perfect balance between 70s rock tradition and present day experimentation,”

“…one of rock’s most lyrical guitar improvisors,”  -NPR Music