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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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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.

Continue reading →

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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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Unlocked: Read the Young Statues guide to what’s good (and familiar) about Athens

YoungStatuesPromo
Carmen Cirignano of Young Statues | Photo via runforcoverrecords.com

For the final installment of Young Statues’ Unlocked spotlight, frontman Carmen Cirignano shares some of his favorite places in Athens, Georgia where the band recorded its new album, The Flatlands Are Your Friend. He also describes why and how his favorite spots remind him of home in Philly.

I spent six weeks away from Philadelphia recording this record. Luckily I got to do it in a place that is now starting to feel like a second home: Athens, Georgia.

Athens, like Philadelphia, is an amazing city with a rich cultural history. Naturally, there were a lot of similarities. Here are a few of my favorite places that reminded me of home while in Athens. Continue reading →

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Unlocked: Why Jersey’s Young Statues took measures to make “Flatlands” feel like a home away from home

Young Statues _Shervin Lainez (LoRes_WEB)
Young Statues | Photo by Shervin Lainez

Carmen Cirignano hopes putting on his band’s new record can provide a very certain kind of feeling.

He relates it to taking a trip to his grandmother’s house. Whenever he visited her, he’d feel a certain way and have very distinct memories. It’s an idea of being somewhere familiar that’s not exactly home.

“I wanted a cohesive, kind of flowing record that made sense from the beginning to the end and felt like a tangible thing, in a way,” Cirignano says. “I wanted people, when they listened to it or put it on, to be able to go somewhere, go to a place, wherever that place is to whoever listens to it. It could be different for everybody. I wanted it to have that feeling, like it was something as a whole rather than just a collection of songs.”

Cirignano, frontman for Young Statues, is sitting at an outside table at Old City’s Ole Café, having just driven downtown from his home in Prospect Park. He’s joined by bassist Tom Ryan, who has just driven in from across the bridge in New Jersey. They’re both joined by Ryan’s sister’s small dog, who remains mostly quiet as the two discuss the past and present history of the band. Continue reading →

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Unlocked: The Key’s review of Young Statues’ The Flatlands are Your Friend

tfayf-cover
Young Statues’ The Flatlands are Your Friend

It’s almost fitting that the release date of Young Statues’ sophomore LP, The Flatlands Are Your Friend, would fall around Halloween.

Whereas the South Jersey-based band’s self-titled debut could be categorized as indie pop, and its 2013 EP Age Isn’t Ours bordered on pop punk, Flatlands is something total different — an eerily haunting, rock-driven release.

We’re obviously not talking “Monster Mash” here. It’s edgy and emotional in the vein of “Gimme Shelter,” and a far cry from anything the band has ever done in the past.

Young Statues has always stuck out because they’ve never really fit in where they were. Punk and hardcore bands dominate the band’s label, Run For Cover Records. This has informed the tours Young Statues been on and the fan base they have developed. But you’d be mistaken to lump them in with many of their label mates or this “emo revival” everyone keeps talking about. Continue reading →

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Unlocked: Download “Got The Knife” from Young Statues’ new The Flatlands are Your Friend

Young Statues | Photo via facebook.com/youngstatues
Young Statues | Photo via facebook.com/youngstatues

Young Statues’ 2011 self-titled debut album wasn’t exactly unintentional, but it was somewhat unplanned.

The South-Jersey based indie rock band was born from the collection of songs written by frontman Carmen Cirignano on a prolonged trip to Athens, Georgia. He had just left another band behind and was encouraged by people there and then upon returning home to turn what he thought would be solo material into a new project.

That collection of catchy, intricate indie pop tunes won over fans for a reason. Continue reading →

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Unlocked: The daily grind of a Vacationer

Vacationer  | Photo by Beth Ann Downey
Vacationer | Photo by Beth Ann Downey

Vacationer makes music meant to alleviate stress and forget troubles.

If they can help the rest of us do this, than the band members must lead pretty relaxing lives, right? Well, not really.

Kenny Vasoli (bass, vocals), Matt Young (vibraphone), Greg Altman (guitar), Michael Mullin (keyboard) and Ryan Zimmaro (drums) have a lot in common outside of the music they make together. They drink copious amounts of coffee, avidly bike ride and make a TON of music in projects other than Vacationer.

And they work, a lot.

Read summaries of each of the band members’ daily lives below, and see how they balance musical and career success with plenty of chill time.

Photo By Abi Reimold | AbiReimoldPhoto.com
Matt Young of Vacationer | Photo By Abi Reimold | AbiReimoldPhoto.com

Matt Young: ”My days are usually pretty simple. I wake up, I have coffee, and then I basically have a home studio in Brooklyn, New York, so I write music all day. Some days I have good days, and I write a couple songs. Some days I have bad days where I can’t really write anything.

So I write in the morning, then usually around 2 p.m. I go and bike like 15 miles. I’ll go down to Prospect Park and bike around the thing like 15 times. Then I’ll come back and write more songs. Then I cook dinner, write more, and maybe watch an episode of something or listen some records. Then I go to sleep and do the same thing the next day.

That’s pretty much it, though, I just write music all day. … I do it in my pajamas. I have a pair of slippers that I literally wear more than any other pair of shoes. I think it’s important to have a regimented schedule, and it’s kind of maddening because I’m in my house a lot. But my studio is a totally separate space in the front, and then the back is where I live. But yeah, I’m basically there all the time unless I’m on tour or out playing shows. I’m writing for Vacationer and Body Language. I have another project called Seafloor that’s just beats, and I have a new solo project that I’m working on. I also work on random commercial sound design and rebranding, and that’s basically it.” Continue reading →

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Unlocked: The past, practice and perception that make Vacationer’s perfect electro-pop

Kenny Vasoli of Vacationer | Photo via facebook.com/vacationermusic
Kenny Vasoli of Vacationer | Photo via facebook.com/vacationermusic

Residents on this quiet street in Horsham probably don’t mind the sounds coming from Kenny Vasoli’s childhood home.

Vasoli is leading practice for his electro-pop band Vacationer inside, down in his parent’s finished garage area that has been converted into a basement. Waters and beers are handed out. Guacamole and chips are set down in the corner of the room. It’s the first time the band coming together to run through their new live show – songs like “Stay,” “Go Anywhere” and “Shining” from their new album, Relief, released this week on Downtown Records.

The new tunes are quite audible from outside the house, but neighbors probably don’t mind chill serenade to their summer evening. Several years earlier there was probably much louder, angrier music coming from this house, as Vasoli started his career in popular pop-punk band The Starting Line, which formed in 1999 and disbanded in 2008, save for sporadic reunion shows and a recent tour.

Those who know Vasoli from those days may not recognize him now. His curly, chin-length hair is tucked beneath a backwards maroon Phillies cap. He’s surrounded by new band mates playing a new variety of instruments, a few of which would never be seen on stage for a punk show. But one instrument has remained through Vasoli’s time spent in both bands – his soothing, very distinct vocals.

Vacationer at SXSW 2013 | Photo by John Vettese
Vacationer at SXSW 2013 | Photo by John Vettese

“My favorite is when [fans] say, “You sound so much like that guy from The Starting Line,’” recalls guitarist Greg Altman of various Vacationer shows since the band started touring more than two years ago.

“It’s happened more times than you would think,” adds Vasoli. “What’s that Val Kilmer movie, The Saint? I’m like The Saint of emo.”

Though Vasoli’s comment definitely was not meant in the context, early 2000 Starting Line fans might have considered him a “saint” of the genre. The music Vasoli was moved to make more than 10 years later couldn’t be more different than what his admirers might have expected from him, but they and other fans have seemed to latch on to Vacationer, no questions asked.

“I’ve really started to embrace the whole emo back story thing, because at this point, I’m confident enough in the music that I make with Vacationer and we’ve sort of cemented some fans in there enough for me to be little more confident in who I was and who I am,” Vasoli says. “It’s nice, I don’t really have to compartmentalize too much anymore, or keep anything a secret anymore, because the people who are into it are into it, and the people that aren’t are just kind of waiting for another one of those records. With anything else in my life, I like not focusing on the past too much, and also not on the future.”

Living in the moment is an idea that Vacationer holds dear, and that comes out on Relief. Continue reading →

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Unlocked: Despite frequent “Trips,” watch Vacationer cater to hometown audience

 

Vacationer | Photo by Rachel Barrish | rachelbarrish.com
Vacationer | Photo by Rachel Barrish | rachelbarrish.com

Vacationer does exactly what their name would suggest.

The Philadelphia-based band has toured and traveled all over the world. They’ve shot videos in Hawaii and Costa Rica. They’ve played festivals in Iceland, and toured all over the U.S. alongside bands like Bombay Bicycle Club, Tennis, Hellogoodbye and The Naked and Famous.

But the Vacationer hasn’t always taken their party on the road. They’ve also played Philly enough times since 2012 to make it hard to keep track of. The band has brought its chill-wave sounds to venues like Union Transfer, the Theater of the Living Arts and the Dock Street Brewing Company, as well as outdoor festivals like 2nd Street Festival in Northern Liberties and the Fishtown River City Festival. Their home-away-from-tour, however, seems to be Underground Arts, where Vacationer has played a handful of shows including the two installments of the “Nude Beach” concert series the band started.

To celebrate tonight’s release show and the band’s first time performing at Johnny Brenda’s, we’re recapping a few of Vacationer’s most memorable hometown shows in the live videos below. You can also catch them playing the first day of the Made in America festival on August 30th, Vacationer being the only local band announced on the bill so far. Continue reading →