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The Return of The Tough Shits: Hear a new song, catch them at Repo Records this Saturday

The Tough Shits | Photo by Nikki Volpicelli
The Tough Shits | Photo by Grey Haas | courtesy of the artist

The Tough Shits recently played a show at Beautiful World Syndicate, a record shop just down the street from the bar we’re meeting at. It wasn’t was very publicized, and lots of their longtime fans could’ve missed it if they didn’t catch the Facebook note the group posted eight hours before showtime. There was no setlist because they never make setlists, and there were mistakes because they admittedly always make mistakes.

That show has helped the Philly band – who are quietly emerging from the several-year hiatus that immediately following the release of their self-titled debut – devise a plan for this weekend’s Record Store Day showcase at Repo.

“This time John will realize what’s wrong with his guitar after the first song instead of six songs in. I will remember all of the words…” singer/guitarist Mark Banfill begins. Continue reading →

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A new cassingle and Stooges cover from Philadelphia garage rockers Residuels

Residuels Valley of Fire cover art
Residuels Valley of Fire cover art

Philly rock band Residuels just premiered a Stooges-approved version of “I Got A Right” today via Noisey; the cover is part of the new single for Valley of Fire, a song the band teased last month ahead of its SXSW run.

Iggy Pop himself says of the cover (and of frontman Justin Pittney):  ”I noticed [Justin] had a great feel for our music… a good example of someone who is solving the puzzle of how to have fun and more as a young musician today.  He sent me ‘I Got A Right’ by The Residuels the other day and I thought it had a really good spirit.  Hey Residuels thanks for the cover.” Continue reading →

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Reimagining Ortlieb’s: Domenic Palermo of Nothing and Kyle Costill of BITBY have big plans for the NoLibs venue

A view of Ortlieb's from where the new stage will be | Photo by John Vettese
A view of Ortlieb’s from where the new stage will be | Photo by John Vettese

Before he had Nothing, Domenic “Nicky” Palermo spent a decade in the service industry.

He ran the gamut of gigs, from busboy to bartender to manager of multiple bars and restaurants around Philly. And through this time, he always had his music a s a side gig.

But 2014 was a breakthrough year for Nicky’s band. The Philly-based shoegaze group toured extensively around their debut LP, Guilty of Everything, which was released last March by Relapse Records, picked up as an NPR First Listen and named one of the “Best Overlooked Albums of 2014” by Spin Magazine, to name just a few of its accolades.

Nicky left the hospitality industry a year-and-a-half ago so that he could do nothing but Nothing. Then, he was given the opportunity to re-enlist and take on his newest project: Ortlieb’s. Continue reading →

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The Key’s Year-End Mania: Five Scenes Nikki Volpicelli Saw in 2014

Nikki Volpicelle in front of the Figure 8 wall in L.A.

Year-End Mania is the Key’s survey of the things below the surface that made 2014 awesome. In this installment, Key contributor Nikki Volpicelli shares her favorite travel excursions of the year.

 As a music writer based out of Philly, I spend a lot of time in the backyard digging up new music to listen to, watch and write about. This year, I had the opportunity to see what other cities and there scenes had to offer, from Los Angeles to San Francisco to Portland to New York City. I ate tacos, saw some punk shows, saw some scientologists, and jumped off of a bar with an 80-year-old man who’s been playing blues covers at the oldest bar in SF every Sunday for 17 years. It all made me realize: the grass is no greener here, there, anywhere. It’s just a different shade.

Continue reading →

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Why you should listen to Bear in Heaven’s new album in a thunderstorm

Bear in Heaven | Photo by  Shawn Brackbill
Bear in Heaven | Photo by Shawn Brackbill

Bear In Heaven’s latest record, Time is Over One Day Old, has a telling song called “Dissolve the Walls.” It song starts off as a faraway confusion of conversation, blitzy synth running down a long tunnel as an upbeat womanly chorus chants: “Let the walls dissolve/ till there’s no room at all/ there’s no ceiling, no floor/ no windows, no door.”

Given this particular track and the cover art of the 2014 album (on which I can’t help but see a galactic rolling paper), you might think you could easily file it under ‘other worldly weirdness,’ right next to 2001: A Space Odyssey. But the group never has stopped with just one sonic style compartment, so you really can’t file this album as a whole under anything (and not next to any of the group’s previous releases, either).

“We’re always talking about output or creation, so it’s certainly not this, ‘alright, let’s definitely make this an effort to strip things back…’” says Adam Wills, guitarist and co-founder of Bear in Heaven, and writer of the song. The group, which headlines Johnny Brenda’s tonight, began 10 years ago as a project between Wills and co-founder/vocalist Jon Philpot. Continue reading →

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21st Century Psych: Temples carry golden age traditions into the digital age

Temples | photo via www.facebook.com/templesofficial
Temples | photo via www.facebook.com/templesofficial

We are not experiencing a psychedelic revolution. Psych music, since its inception, has oscillated through pop culture. In the beginning, when love, drugs and the Beatles were free, the Byrds spun their dark web of bad trip/good trip to a lesser audience. The 70’s saw momentum from groups like T.Rex, with their fearlessly tripped-out glitz and glam rock. In the 80’s, I’m sure there were some dark underlords dosing people with anti-disco, and the 90’s had the Brian Jonestown Massacre, keeping the scene very much alive and kicking.

“There have been bands every decade who’ve revived what’s good about that Golden era of music and kind of carried it on to the next generation,” says Thomas Warmsley of the UK-based psych-pop group Temples. It’s a few hours before the group’s set at London’s Latitude Festival, and we’re on the phone discussing the past.

Continue reading →

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Interview: Power punk four-piece Potty Mouth on their breakout year and their trip to Boot and Saddle

Photo via facebook.com/pottymouthgirls
Photo via facebook.com/pottymouthgirls

“Visibility as a band made up of women is very important to us,” says Victoria Mandanas. “There is great value, for girls and young women, especially, in seeing bands made up of women or with female members.”

The drummer of the all-women power-punk quartet Potty Mouth, currently touring with her bandmates in support of its new record (and playing Boot & Saddle on Thursday), adds “I think about my band and our music in the same way, and I hope that others will try to do the same.”

And it seems others are. The Northampton, Massachusetts group’s first LP, Hell Bent (released on Old Flame Records last September) was previewed as an NPR ‘First Listen.’ The group was named one of Spin Magazine’s ‘Best New Artists,’ as well as a Nylon Magazine ‘Band Crush’ and countless other word combinations that all pretty much mean the same thing — Potty Mouth is on the rise, going places, and right now the group’s heading up and down the East Coast in support of 10-tracks of linear, bass-driven power punk that seems split from some combination of late 70’s punk and the roaring womanly intellect made popular by the 90’s Riot grrrl movement.

The tour around this record — which follows 2012’s Sun Damage EP — was defined in part by the national DIY sub-scene that Potty Mouth finds comfort and companionship within. The women write their own songs and have experience booking their own shows. Half of the members even taught themselves how to play their instruments so that they could be in this band, together. This month, the group will be sharing bills with like-minded punks including Nothing, Waxahatchee and Radiator Hospital (to name a few). Continue reading →

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The Key’s Year-End Mania: Nikki Volpicelli’s 5 Behind-The-Scenes Women of 2013

Photo courtesy of Nicky Devine
Photo courtesy of Nicky Devine

Year End Mania is the Key’s survey of the things below the surface that made 2013 awesome. In this installment, contributor Nikki Volpicelli highlights women doing amazing work this year.

…because every single one of these women (and many more) deserves a shout out before this year ends.

Nicky Devine
Sometimes Nicky Devine is sitting at the bar at Johnny Brenda’s with a keen eye on the running of the evening’s concert. Other times you can’t find her at all because she’s sprinting around the venue, making sure everyone going on stage is happy (and wanting to return to our lovely city to entertain us again). That’s the life of a Production Assistant. Devine splits her time as a PA and a Production Supervisor for Weathervane Music, managing the production and release schedule of monthly Shaking Through sessions. She’s also Festival Director at the annual 2nd Street Festival, and if you’ve ever experienced the panic attack that is trying to maneuver your way through NoLibs on this day, you can begin to understand the impossibility of running the whole operation.

Carly Marcoux
“Who asks these questions?” Was the first question I asked myself after reading this super well crafted Q&A with fuzz-rocker King Tuff (one of my favorite artists this year). I took to the side bar of the Philly Girl About Town blog for an answer and found co-editor Carly Marcoux. Compared to some of its online peers, PGAT only posts a few choice interviews and reviews per month, but Marcoux keeps busy, holding down a day job and playing drums on the side (and singing) in The Pretty Greens – a feminist fuzz-garage group that periodically publishes a pop-art fanzine called Pretty Signals (Issue #2 came out in August). SheT also plays in No Other and freelances for Tom Tom Magazine, a quarterly publication dedicated to female drummers.

Continue reading →

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Exploring the animated side of garage-psych royalty King Tuff (playing the First Unitarian Church tomorrow with WAVVES and Jacuzzi Boys)

TuffThere’s something cartoonish about King Tuff. Most of his album art portrays hand-scratched drawings of large-nosed longhairs and magic bats. In his music videos, a paint stick follows him around to shimmer the scene neon every once in awhile. His band could also emanate this kiddishness, with make-believe aliases like Magic Jake (his bassist), and Captain Cox (his engineer). But there’s something about his sound, too, that illustrates him. It’s this rabbit-from-a-hat sonic madness of hard drum patterns and fuzzed-out electric guitars. It’s also his voice, which until you see him live doesn’t quite make sense — like a hoarse Alvin the Chipmunk might sound when you slow down the recording just enough so that it could be considered human.

This year, his 2008 record, Was Dead, was reissued and released on Burger Records — for which anyone with footing in the sounds of all of those fuzzed-out garbage pail kids coming in from the West Coast (Ty Segall, No Bunny, WAVVES, the Memories, et al.) should be eternally grateful. It is a record filled with a series of hooks strung together in one cleverly-crafted album. There’s nothing to skip, it’s all here re-packaged in a vibrant blue sleeve with the hot pink scribble-scrabbled face of King Tuff himself.

“I recorded Was Dead with my friend in a giant ballroom, this was was in Vermont,” Kyle “King Tuff” Thomas explains over the phone last month. The longtime guitarist and songwriter moved from Vermont to Los Angeles a little over two years ago and jokes “I haven’t done shit since I got to LA… just frying my mind in the rays.”

Continue reading →

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Energy, confidence and devil sticks: Toy Soldiers celebrate The Maybe Boys at Johnny Brenda’s

Toy Soldiers | Photo by Mike Bucher | www.bucherphotography.com
Toy Soldiers | Photo by Mike Bucher | www.bucherphotography.com

All photos by Mike Bucher | www.bucherphotography.com

Toy Soldiers released their newest record, The Maybe Boys, this past Tuesday and celebrated last night with a sold-out release party at Johnny Brenda’s last night. Overheard within the crowd before the five-piece took stage: “I’ve never seen so many people I don’t know but from seeing them at Toy Soldier’s shows.” Said crowder noticed the Levee Drivers, TJ Kong, and members of the Get Real Gang in the attendance.

The boys opened up with an enormous rendition of “Heart in a Mousetrap,” and weaved in and out of old and new songs, shouting out the record’s producer, Bill Moriarty, before performing its first song, “Tell the Teller.”

Thing is, I’d never been to a Toy Soldiers show before last night. I’d also never been to a show with a live devil sticks performance until last night. It’s been sometime since I’ve had that problem where my shoes stick to the floor that’s sticky with so many spilled beers, but no one in the room last night was holding back.

On stage and off — it was the same energy, same confidence through and through. Absolutely everyone is dancing, from front man Ron Gallo on stage and members of the audience, who whip each other around frenzied-like. It’s no wonder about the beer thing, no one’s worried about a little spilled beer.

It’s a community effort and it’s obvious that most of the crowd has never missed a show. In fact, a ton of the crowd is a part of this particular music community, playing side-by-side with the outfit more often than not. Maybe this show is a way of forgetting the day, whatever happened during it, and to kind of just bask in Toy Soldiers’ energy and the group’s loud, fiery onstage presence.

One lucky member of the audience even got to get on the devil sticks for the entirety of “Throw Me Down,” a few minutes before the show ended and there was a mad dash to pick up the ceremonious vinyl from the merch table.