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Transport to paradise in The Rockers Galore video for “One Shot”

Rockers Galore | photo courtesy of the artist

You can’t not dance when listening to Blayer Pointdujour’s project, The Rockers Galore. You just can’t. Attempts to remain unfazed when watching the group’s recently released video for “One Shot” will be futile and silly.  This infectious song’s unique blend of funk, hip-hop, hard rock, and Haitian kompa will have you grinnin’ and groovin’ from the first zesty beat to the last. Continue reading →

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Old Maybe’s Jazz Adam on embracing chaos with the Piggity Pink EP

Old Maybe | photo courtesy of the artist
Old Maybe | photo by Max Branigan | courtesy of the artist

The first sounds you hear on Piggity Pink, the new EP from experimental Philly three-piece Old Maybe, are the atonal moans of loose electric guitar strings slapping to and fro, then being shakily snapped into place with a tremolo bar. A bass enters, measured drums, and then the squalor of “Dianetics” gives way to “Ugly Love Me,” a swift and sweaty post-punk style dance song guided by Jazz Adam’s frenzied vocal delivery. It’s a moment of quick accessibility, but it’s not too much longer till we’re in the dissonant zone of “Pink Pigging.”

This five minute run is, in a nutshell, is the tightrope Old Maybe walks: lively askew pop on the one side, punishing abrasion on the other, and Adam doesn’t see any other way the band could be.

“They wouldn’t admit to this, but I think a lot of musicians fear loss of control,” she says. “Being a trained musician in any genre, even in metal, is like a place where a lot of musicians in their life feel control. They have their instrument, they’ve spent so many hours and logged so much time being perfectionists.”

Adam gets it, but that approach doesn’t make sense with the way she writes. “I do not feel like I had the control that I wanted at the get go of writing, at the end there’s still no control, but that’s what I love about it and that’s what my bandmates love about it. That gives [our music] a lot of room to change overtime. And I think relinquishing control and being ok with that, just like letting things happen, that is the reason why it comes out so unique.”
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April 12 in Music History: R.E.M. release Murmur, Metallica sues Napstser

R.E.M. Murmur

1954 – Bill Haley records “Rock Around the Clock” at Pythian Temple studios in New York City. It is considered by many to be the version of the song that put rock and roll on the map around the world. The song is used over the opening titles for the film Blackboard Jungle and goes on to be a worldwide #1 & the biggest selling pop single with sales over 25 million.

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Katie Frank continues her gritty blues-rock turn in “Something I Can’t Deny”

Katie Frank | photo via katiefrank.bandcamp.com

If you thought Katie Frank‘s return single “Through Your Window” hinted at a departure from folk singer-songwriting, Frank’s latest track “Something I Can’t Deny” serves as a full-blown swan-dive into gritty, blues-rock territory.

While Frank’s past repertoire showcases singer-songwriter folk, alt-country, and pop rock, her new track, “Something I Can’t Deny,” effectively takes cues from each of those genres in a mature, tactful way. A heavy, steady bass line opens up the track, which builds with a distorted, fuzzy guitar riff. Frank’s clear, confident vocals carry the song, which conveys a total no-bullshit attitude. Continue reading →

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Mitski transforms One Direction’s song, “Fireproof,” into a fuzz rock jam

Mitski | photo by Ebru Yildiz | courtesy of the artist
Mitski | photo by Ebru Yildiz | courtesy of the artist

One Direction was never really my cup o’ tea. My boy band quota was already filled to max capacity with ‘N SYNC and some select Backstreet Boys ballads. So when I heard Mitski recorded a cover of 1D’s song, “Fireproof,” I was totally intrigued to hear how she would spin the bubble-gum pop track. And, of course, being the badass indie queen that she is, Mitski’s cover grabs the song by the throat and commands it to be her own. Continue reading →

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Inside Fishtown’s Watts Studio with budding production duo DYAD

Khemist and friends in Watts Studio with DYAD | via facebook.com/DYADProduction

dy·ad

ˈdīad/ noun technical

  1. something that consists of two elements or parts.

Seated in the spacious control room of Watts Studios located on the second floor of a unassuming Warehouse Space in near Front & Girard, producer/engineer Micah Forsyth cracks jokes with Anwar Marshall, a fellow producer, arranger and his musical partner in DYAD. Marshall, who also plays in the magnificent Philly Jazz Ensemble Fresh Cut Orchestra, crack jokes and casually discuss the work of Nigerian afro-beat pioneer, Fela Kuti. As a small crew of musicians filter into the space greeting the duo, Forsyth plays a rough demo recorded on Marshall’s phone. The voicemail is a recording of rapper and multi-Instrumentalist Khemist strumming a few chords on acoustic guitar.

Marshall recalls the recording excitedly: “As soon as I heard him playing that, I had to record it!” After laying down a drum track that references the complex, polyrhythmic pulse of legendary Fela drummer Tony Allen, Marshall finds his way over to a small keyboard in the corner of the control room and begins plucking out chords and incomplete riffs. Building on the energy of the track, the crew adds a sleek, live horn section and hip, peacocking bassline. As the tune begins to take on a life of its own, Khemist idles around the room, listening. The tune they are working on is for his upcoming solo project and it is clear that he is gearing up to put his stamp on the track. Forsyth asks “you got something?” Khemist nods and makes his way into the booth. In no time he lays down two verses and a slick, Latin inspired hook for the song. Slowly but surely, what started out as a rough demo is blossoming into an elaborate, fully formed piece of music. In the midst of the jokes and easy-going chats lies a serious sense of traditional musical craftsmanship met with modern creativity to make magic possible, even on a random Thursday afternoon in North Philly.

With a sound that fuses hip-hop and soul with tasteful, jazz-informed arrangements, DYAD bring to mind a modern update of 70s jazz-funk pioneers The Mizell Brothers or Steely Dan if Walter Becker and Donald Fagen had been born in the hip-hop generation. Over the past couple years, the duo has been making serious inroads in the city’s music scene, producing tunes for a host of artists including The Bul Bey, Elle Morris and their standout work on STS’ (aka Sugar Tongue Slim) recent Ladies Night project. Continue reading →