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Belly of the Beats: Why Nothing’s Domenic Palermo is turning his sights to prison reform

Nothing
Nothing | photo by Ryan Lowry | courtesy of the artist

Domenic Palermo has been thinking a lot about his old neighborhood lately.

He thinks about the people he spent his childhood with; he thinks about how much things have changed and how much they have not. It makes sense, since the places we grow up shape us in innumerable ways. They’re our first impression of the world; they’re the center of our young universe. Our neighborhoods help us decide where we want to travel with our lives, whether we want to get as far away as possible or if we’d rather just stay in place. And the ramifications of those choices somehow touch the lives of people we knew; our family, our community. Even though he’s up in Brooklyn these days, the frontman of Nothing is constantly thinking about his childhood in the Frankford and Kensington sections of Philadelphia…and the things he can do to make it a better place in 2018.

This Friday, Nothing releases its third LP, Dance on the Blacktop, via Relapse Records; it’s an explosive and highly personal record, touching on themes of mortality, addiction and family, and after a long build-up of writing and working in the studio with producer John Agnello, the band will spend Saturday unwinding with family and friends in the Port Richmond section of Philly — just a short jump down the river wards from his old home.

The Nothing Record Release Block Party is just what its name suggests: a gimmick-free gathering with a DJ, games, food and fun; no Nothing live set, just a day-long hang. “We didn’t want it to be like a Diplo block party, we wanted it to be very neighborhood-friendly,” Palermo says when I caught up with him via phone last week. “We really just wanted to have a few hours where we can just see people enjoying themselves. I imagine that most of the people that show up to this block party aren’t even going to know why it’s really there, which is kind of the point. It’s purely just a Philadelphia celebratory kind of thing.”

For Palermo and his bandmates, its a way to kick back before getting into the grueling stress of another album cycle. But even in choosing the spot, he had a lot to think about. Continue reading →

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The Week Ahead: Sidney Gish, Patti LaBelle, Rosali, Espers, and more

Rosali
Rosali | photo by Constance Mensh | courtesy of the artist

The week starts with blues rock ripper Selwyn Birchwood out in the burbs and wraps up in South Philly with the contemplative singer-songwriting of The Afterglows. In between: classic soul, immersive psych, punk rock and more. Here are 17 concerts to see in and around Philadelphia this week.
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Watch the Beastie Boys bring Hello Nasty to the CoreStates Center in August of 1998

Beastie Boys at the First Union Center | still from video

NYC rhymesayers Beastie Boys were at a point of reinvention when they came to Philadelphia on August 20, 1998. They had a solid decade under their belts as a hip-hop combo — longer as a punk band — and with their fifth LP, Hello Nasty, they were pushing things further still. Out was the psychedelic groove and contemplative flow that defined their previous two albums, the iconic Ill Communication and Check Your Head; in was a retro-futuristic clubby sound, based around turntablist big beats and cartoonish sound bites, with no shortage of contagious energy.

For the live show, out were longtime collaborators DJ Hurricane and percussionist Mark Bobo, in was Mix Master Mike on the 1s and 2s, Alfredo Ortiz on the drums, and an expanded role for keyboardist “Money Mark” Nishita. On the band were coordinated red jump suits, while the band was on a slowly rotating stage as they performed in the round in the center of the CoreStates Center (the name the Wells Fargo Center went by at the time). Continue reading →

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Just Announced: Travis Scott will bring Astroworld to the Wells Fargo Center in December

via Epic Records
Travis Scott’s Astroworld | courtesy of the artist

Houston rapper Travis Scott has been working on his magnum opus, ASTROWORLD, to one degree or another since approximately 2016…and when it finally dropped early this month, the response was huge. The album has already been certified Gold by the RIAA, and Scott’s headlining tour in support of the record is equally ambitious. The album is named for a closed-down Six Flags amusement park in H-Town — “They tore down AstroWorld to build more apartment space. That’s what it’s going to sound like, like taking an amusement park away from kids. We want it back.” he told GQ last year in the early stages of working on the record — and the plan show the show is to actually bring the theme park to life onstage.

Thankfully, the arenas he’s playing will give Scott plenty of room to do so. The tour kicks off in Baltimore on November 8th, and circles up to Philadelphia on Saturday, December 1st for a headlining appearance at the Wells Fargo Center. Continue reading →

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Just Announced: Lucinda Williams’ Car Wheels On A Gravel Road 20th anniversary tour kicks off in Collingswood this November

Lucinda Williams | photo by David McClister | courtesy of the artist

Lucinda Williams‘ classic 1998 album Car Wheels On A Gravel Road turns 20 this year, and the songwriter has just announced a short string of fall tour dates to celebrate the milestone. Most of the shows will be throughout the northeast, and the first stop on the tour is just outside of Philadelphia, at Collingswood, NJ’s Scottish Rite Auditorium on November 2. Joined by her band Buick 6, Williams will play the album in its entirety, as well as a second set drawing from her other work. Continue reading →

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Full Bush’s self-titled LP takes aim at the patriarchy with shocking directness

Full Bush | via facebook.com/FullBushBand

On their self titled debut LP, Full Bush reveal themselves as the rare kind of band that defies any expectation. Their songs unfold like stories from the wittiest person you know, so spontaneous they feel improvised but so seamlessly constructed you’d think they were rehearsed for years. And like a great story, once you hear the beginning, you can’t stop listening until you hear the payoff. Continue reading →

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Listen to Camp Candle talk about their songwriting process and the changing Philly landscape on the 25 O’Clock podcast

Camp Candle | Photo by Joe Del Tufo | courtesy of the artist
Camp Candle | Photo by Joe Del Tufo | courtesy of the artist

Philadelphia’s Camp Candle appear on the latest episode of The 25 O’Clock podcast. The electronic duo of Mark “Nu Ra” Cave and Briana “Hetepsa” Mills sat down with podcast host Dan Drago for the 106th episode of the podcast. The duo discussed their beginnings, going through the collaborative songwriting process as a duo, and the changing landscape of different Philly neighborhoods. Continue reading →

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Now Hear This: New songs from The Internet, Dirty Projectors, Bodega, Daniel Bachman, Bad Bad Hats, Steve Hauschildt and more

Shy Boys | photo via shyboys.bandcamp.com

Every month, noted song expert K. Ross Hoffman presents Now Hear This, a sampling of fresh specimens for your consideration.

We are officially in the dull. drums. of the dog. days. of the slow end of summer. Musically speaking. Not that there’s nothing going on, of course. I mean, this month alone I have already seen fantastic shows by several of my longtime favorites – a triumphant return to Johnny Brenda’s from the perennially entertaining Jeffrey Lewis, and a basement show by the great guitarist Glenn Jones – both of them previewing material from super-promising new albums still forthcoming (later this month in Jones’ case; no official word yet from Lewis.) And yeah oh yeah, I got to see Radiohead for the first time in way too long and fall completely and utterly back in love with them, which seems like it was more or less the consensus regarding their just-wrapped US tour. That said, the column below, as it turned out, only manages to highlight a couple of shows this fall. (Several of these artists, I’m sorry to report, already played Philly in the last month or two, well before their respective album releases – some of them in opening slots, which gives me hope that they might return to headline before too long.)

The upside of a month with a relatively slow release schedule (at least for big-name new releases) is that it inspires me to dig a little further than I might otherwise. Because, let’s face it, we live in an age when it’s all but impossible to get away from worthwhile if not downright vital new music on a virtually weekly basis. Or anyway, it feels that way if you spend an ungodly percentage of your waking hours (and plenty of the ones you should be sleeping too) poking around on the internet as if furiously trying to prevent it from passing you by. (My lord, when will it stop?) Anyhow…here are some knockouts, knick-knacks and novelties from the last month or so. Enjoy, and I’ll See You In September! Continue reading →

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The Vernes return with new single “Maybe I’ll Feel Better When I’m Dead”

The Vernes
The Vernes | photo by Crosby Clouse | courtesy of the artist

Philly via San Francisco rockers The Vernes released new music this past weekend, the title track to upcoming LP Maybe I’ll Feel Better When I’m Dead. The track is a jam and a sign of good things to come from the Philly rockers, who release the full album on September 28th.

While The Vernes previously released their self-titled debut in 2017, the upcoming Maybe I’ll Feel Better When I’m Dead marks the band’s debut studio album. Instead of releasing home recordings like on that first record, the band enlisted Joe Michelini (American Trappist, River City Extension) for recording and producing the upcoming album. Continue reading →

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Watch The Districts’ full set from Best Kept Secret festival

The Districts | Photo by Pooneh Ghana | courtesy of the artist

Hometown rockers The Districts found themselves in Europe earlier this summer, traveling from England to Denmark in June, with stops in Germany, Belgium, Norway, and the Netherlands along the way. It was on June 8th in the Netherlands The Districts performed at Best Kept Secret festival. Thanks to the festival, their full set is now up on YouTube to stream.

During their set, the band played five songs off their 2017 LP, Popular Manipulations, which recently celebrated its first birthday on August 11th. According to an Instagram post from the band, the boys are back in the studio gearing up for their fourth LP. While their Best Kept Secret set didn’t contain any new songs, be on the lookout for new material teased out by the band in the (hopefully) not-too-distant future. The band closed out their set with a career-spanning best-of run, from 2012’s “Funeral Beds” into 2018’s “Nighttime Girls,” and finally ripping through set-closing staple “Young Blood,” in all of its glorious 10 minutes. Continue reading →