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Unlocked: How well do you know the members of DRGN KING?

photo courtesy of DRGN KING
photo courtesy of DRGN KING

DRGN KING core members Dominic Angelella, Brent “Ritz” Reynolds, Steve Montenegro and Joe Baldacci have been established as a band for four years, but each individual has had a presence as a mainstay on the Philly music scene for years. So this leaves us with the question—when were YOU listening to one of DRGN KING’s boys without realizing it? With the help of friends involved in other projects, each musician has been able to stake roles as MVP’s on the 215 music map. Test your knowledge on other places you may have heard Reynolds’ flawless production or seen “the red-haired Jesus” shredding in the background.

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Unlocked: Hey, Punks of Baltimore, this one’s for you; DRGN KING’s Dom Angelella shares his Baltimore Crush

Photo by Blake Gumprecht
Christine Cunnif, Lucy Stone, Ricardo Lagomasinos, Dominic Angelella | Photo by Blake Gumprecht

 

The sophomore album from DRGN KING, Baltimore Crush, feels personal. As an outsider, you’re immediately invited into this fuzzy psychedelic reality where suddenly there’s places and people who feel important. You know their behaviors, dreams, flaws and fears. That’s personal. This world comes from the strength of songwriting from frontman Dom Angelella, whose upbringing among the Baltimore DIY crowd comes out in this love letter of sorts to the scene. As a place where his self-discovery started to take shape, listeners gain a very real picture of what this scene means to those who were, are, and will be influencing/influenced by such a hotbed of creativity. This album thrashes in that convergence of ideas.  I hung out with Dom recently to ask him about the album, and he shared some insight into Moments Where Things Changed for him as well as fears and goals cultivated from the environment around him. Continue reading →

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Unlocked: Watch Dom Angelella play a stripped-down version of “St. Tom’s”

Photo courtesy of RootDownInTheShadow |http://www.rootdownintheshadow.com/
Photo courtesy of RootDownInTheShadow | http://www.rootdownintheshadow.com/

In our review of DRGN King’s Baltimore Crush yesterday, we referenced the heavier nods to surf sounds on this record, which is definitely prevalent on the sure-to-be crowd pleaser “St. Tom’s.” Well, way back in February Dom Angelella did a Cover Club session at Nomad Recording Studio featuring a cover of The Dead Milkmen’s “Punk Rock Girl,” which you can read about here. What we didn’t highlight before was this super-stripped down version of “St. Tom’s,” the second track from the singer’s hometown-focused record. Continue reading →

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PREMIERE: Hear (and watch) Cape Wrath’s “Mercury”

Photo by Emily Phillippy Photography
Photo by Emily Phillippy Photography

Approaching the end of a familiar place in one’s life is both terrifying and exhilarating, but sometimes the unknown presents a thrill. Luckily, a challenging time like such was embraced by Philadelphia singer-songwriter Jamie Glisson, a.k.a. Cape Wrath. As fate would have it, the multimedia musician chose the moniker while touring through Baltimore with her former band—then in the throes of breaking up—when she saw the name written across a giant docked ship.

“I saw this magnificent destroyer, and it said Cape Wrath,” shares Glisson. “It just really resonated with me.” Continue reading →

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Unlocked: The Key’s Review of DRGN King’s Baltimore Crush

Baltimore Crush artwork by Perry Shall | http://www.perryshall.com/
DRGN King’s Baltimore Crush | artwork by Perry Shall | http://www.perryshall.com/

“Do you remember we would go to church and play the pool shark?” trills Dom Angelella on “St. Tom’s,” the second track from DRGN King’s Baltimore Crush. This line is just one example of many that invites listeners into this fuzzy world of basement-moshers-with-guitars on the album, a follow-up to 2013’s Paragraph Nights.

Baltimore Crush isn’t just a shift from their debut LP; it’s a progression into a different branch of rock. Sure, the ten-track album still has touches of DRGN King’s signature electronic influences, but the driving forces on this effort come from thrash-worthy guitar solos counteracted by relaxed surf vibes, which in itself could be a description of the people the album’s written for; coasting along but screwing up big time in an attempt to mask unreached potential.

The percussion on “Solo Harp,” which the band played at the 2013 XPoNential Music Festival, has this intensity that personifies how important the rest of the album is, making it an interesting yet appropriate choice as the last track on the record. It hearkens back more familiarly to earlier work from DRGN King, but the song’s themes provide a fitting conclusion for this new album as well. Baltimore Crush is a spectacular collection of feelings about the common overwhelming pressure to break out and do something huge and what it’s like to watch people flounder along as they fail to meet those expectations.

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Unlocked: Download “Undertow” and get pulled into DRGN KING’s Baltimore Crush

photo courtesy of DRGN KING
photo courtesy of DRGN KING

Listening to DRGN KING’s Baltimore Crush is a bit like remembering what you might have written in your journal when you were seventeen. Well, not even a journal, because that would indicate you strived for consistency. Who had time to be consistent at seventeen? It’s like finding a “really important” piece of looseleaf on which you frantically mapped your ten-year-plan during a study hall, convinced that following this agenda, of course, was key to Making It Big.

Because in ten years, you were supposed to have it All Figured Out.

If you followed all these things and nothing happened, If you didn’t follow this list, If you didn’t make it by then, you weren’t doing it right.

But growing up and realizing happiness lies in finding something worthwhile, something you care about, is one of those things you don’t really believe until you realize your own happiness. Continue reading →

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Scariest set in the city? A look at Eastern State Penitentiary’s most famous videos

The Dead Milkmen's "Punk Rock Girl" video features Joe Jack Talcum singing in the Rotunda as Rodney Anonymous walking around the cellblocks of ESP reading a newspaper
The Dead Milkmen’s “Punk Rock Girl” video features Joe Jack Talcum singing in the Rotunda as Rodney Anonymous walking around the cellblocks of ESP reading a newspaper

Most Philadelphians are familiar with Fairmount’s massive landmark Eastern State Penitentiary. The looming structure, which closed in 1971 after 142 years as a prison, reopened in 1994 for guided tours, and has since become a destination for thrill-seekers during Bastille Day and Halloween season. However, beyond the zombie-fied chaos, the space itself offers an amazing backdrop for, well, anything.  We decided to look back at a few ways musicians and other visual artists have used ESP over the last few decades. Continue reading →

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Paolo Nutini turned up the heat at The Trocadero

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Paolo Nutini | photo by Skye Leppo

I was fourteen the first time I heard the Scottish R&B songwriter Paolo Nutini’s first single “New Shoes,” and I thought it was stupid. It’s inarguably catchy, but I blame VH1’s “You Oughta Know” super-saturation of the song for making me hate it. However, I started listening to the rest of Nutini’s debut album, These Streets, (2006) and in a matter of minutes I was hooked. At 22, I’m still hooked.

If there was any doubt about Nutini’s ability to continue impressing a U.S. audience after his disappointing ’09 tour, critics need look no further than Saturday night’s show at The Trocadero. Continue reading →

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Kicking back with Vita and the Woolf at Spice House Sound

Vita and the Woolf | Photo by Chris Sikich | countfeed.tumblr.com
Jen Pague and Bobby Cleveland of Vita and the Woolf | Photo by Chris Sikich | countfeed.tumblr.com

On one of the last warm days this summer, I ventured past my usual points of familiarity in Fishtown to the newly opened Spice House Sound on Wilt Street. Suddenly finding myself somewhat lost in a tiny alley next to St. Laurentius, I stare at the address on my phone again and frantically call Jen Pague, frontwoman of Vita and the Woolf, explaining I think I’m at the wrong place. She laughs and tells me to stay where I am.  Continue reading →