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Ready Now is ready to move on in “Go Ahead”

Ready Now | photo by Michael Letendre | courtesy of the artist

Ready Now are back with their second single in as many months. After debuting on the scene last year with the Love and Other Dumb Stuff, the band has kept busy with touring before releasing some new material into the world. Ahead of their acoustic tour this spring, Ready Now first shared “Singing Sweetly” in February, and follows it up today with “Go Ahead.” Continue reading →

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Ready Now is absolutely ready for you to hear them, now, on Love and Other Dumb Stuff

Ready Now | photo via readynowband.bandcamp.com

Not even a year after their Vices EP, Ready Now is back with a shiny new release — and a new name, too. The band, formerly known as Snakeboy, may have changed their handle, but their new EP, Love and Other Dumb Stuff, brings us more of the infectious pop tunes they’ve perfected over the last year. Continue reading →

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My Morning Download (bonus edition): “Get Ready Now” by The Shilohs (playing Kung Fu Necktie on 9/1)

theshilohs

The Shilohs are an indie-pop four piece from Vancouver. Currently on tour in support of their latest release, So Wild (on Vancouver’s Light Organ Records), the band plays at Kung Fu Necktie on Sunday, September 1st with Brooklyn’s jangly indie-popsters Free Time. The Shilohs’ debut album is a smartly crafted album of rock songs. Musical influences are plenty; there’s a little Big Star, The Kinks, The Byrds, a little Squeeze. It’s an assured collection of songs from an excellent up and coming band from the Vancouver music scene.

Below, watch “The Place Where Nobody Knows I Go.”

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It’s Now or Nav: The Canadian rapper-producer is having his moment

Nav | photo courtesy of the artist

When Toronto rapper-producer Nav hits The Fillmore this Saturday for his “Bad Habits” tour showcase, he’s not just showing off the fruits of having a long-awaited, much deserved number one album on the Billboard charts.

Coming to Philly, as he is on June 15, will be some sort of homecoming as this city has afforded him the friendships of Lil Uzi Vert (with whom Nav collaborated and anticipates a duet album in the future), and Meek Mill, the latter of which offered the Canadian his co-sign on Instagram when Nav wrote and produced “Back to Back” for Drake.

“I was a fan of his and still living at my mom’s house when Meek shout me out on Instagram,” said Nav. “When I came around XO guys (producers) like Cash and Flux, they had already been good friends with him. Fast-forward to it being the second to last day before I had to hand in my album. Cash was on the phone with Meek just getting things together, when he says to him, ‘hey, we’re finishing up Nav’s album if you want to get anything in on it. Send it through.” Continue reading →

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Seven bands from the Philly DIY underground you need to hear right now (2019 edition!)

Pit Hair | photo by Gabe Coffey | courtesy of the artist

Covered in debris from dust-strewn practice spaces, tucked into dank basements where the drum kit competes for space with old rusting washing machines the landlord refuses to repair or throw out, huddled together under bridges or in struggling speak-easys with one speaker sound systems — it’s Philadelphia punk rock, a movement informed not only by the DIY community at large — a sprawling network of zines (they still exist), record labels, show spaces, and resources that wild youth and curmudgeonly old crusties have tapped into for decades — but also by wack shit like the city’s raging stop-and-frisk laws, the constant assault of rapid gentrification that feels inevitable, and a tumultuous, strange push-pull that has existed within the context of the punk, hardcore and activist/art scenes in a city that still feels reverberations from the MOVE bombing. To say that Philly’s punk rock community has a tenuous relationship with the city is an overstatement.

But more and more, people who exist outside of the margins, not just because they wear all-black or have pink mohawks, but because of who they are, are finding the resources to get involved, and the cultural texture of the city is richer for it. We’re a city that has been home to Break Free Fest — a musical event highlighting bands who feature Black and Brown musicians screaming their brains out, an event that happens this Saturday and Sunday at The Rotunda. We’re a city that, before Break Free, was home to Rockers, a recurring event that for more than a decade sought to do the same. Continue reading →

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Jurks are ready for a new beginning in “45”

Jurks | photo by Matthew Raspanti | courtesy of the artist

Last year, Philly’s Matthew Jurasek went on his first vacation in ten years. His band Thee Idea Men was on hiatus, he finally had a break from his day job as a jazz publicist, and he and his old bandmate Kris Pirnat decided to travel to Italy, where a café encounter with another American tourist make him stop and take stock of life back in the states.

“This guy was at a table with his wife and daughter,” Jurasek remembers. “And he just wouldn’t let them speak at all. He pooh-poohed [his daughter] a bunch whenever she tried to talk.”

Later on, he sketched out the story into lyrics, reflecting on alpha-male aggression and domineering personas. And as he wrote, he realized that there was more to the encounter than he realized.

The song that resulted, “45,” is the first single from his band Jurks, and it premieres today. Jurasek gradually began writing with a new project in mind after Thee Idea Men took a break from playing and recording. “I had a bunch of material I really didn’t know what to do with,” he says. “Not that the band was ever against those songs, but stylistically they didn’t fit with the concept we were going for.” Continue reading →

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The Cranberries share “All Over Now” from final album In the End

Dolores O'Riordan of The Cranberries | photo by Amarvudol | via Wikimedia Commons
Dolores O’Riordan of The Cranberries | photo by Amarvudol | via Wikimedia Commons

In the year since the tragic passing of Dolores O’Riordan, the voice of The Cranberries, the band’s remaining members have been working on completing the unfinished projects that were in progress at the time of O’Riordan’s death. The Cranberries had been working on a new album in 2017, for which O’Riordan had already recorded vocals. The band had plans to finish the album early last year, but it was put on hold until they eventually came to the decision to go ahead with the release. Called In the End, The Cranberries’ eighth and final album will be released on April 26. The first single, which is aptly and eerily titled “All Over Now,” is out now. Continue reading →

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Strand of Oaks is ready to transform on “Weird Ways” from new Eraserland LP

Strand of Oaks | photo by Alysse Gafkajen | courtesy of the artist
Strand of Oaks | photo by Alysse Gafkajen | courtesy of the artist

There’s an air of finality in the opening notes of Strand of Oaks‘ new single “Weird Ways,” as frontman Tim Showalter very plainly and directly sings “I don’t feel it anymore.”

Set to warm, close-mic’d acoustic guitar, with his robust baritone upfront in the mix, this is the intimate and vulnerable Showalter we hear once a year at the Boot & Saddle Winter Classic; it’s the Showalter of back-catalog songs like “Kill Dragon” and “Sister Evangeline.” And it’s a Showalter who, as he was writing, clearly felt out of place with the direction his music traveled versus the direction the music world was heading.

“The scene isn’t my scene anymore.”

This is the way that Strand of Oaks’ just-announced sixth album Eraserland begins, and a glance over song titles like “Final Fires” — or knowing the song “Keys” from his live set, where he sings “we should just run away” to his wife Sue — seem to paint a picture of somebody ready to move on.

But then a snare drum downbeat kicks in. And the realization hits — we’re not going anywhere just yet. Continue reading →

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Jessie Reyez is ready

Jessie Reyez at Made In America | photo by John Vettese for WXPN

If you want to look at a moment of definition in one’s career without DEFINING one’s career, it came for shushing singer and frank-as-fuck songwriter Jessie Reyez during her performance at the Made in America festival in Philadelphia over Labor Day weekend. The whole crowd watched and sang along with her every song as she stalked the stage in cut off shorts and a Scarface t-shirt (the movie, not the rapper). Just a few nights earlier, the Canadian-Colombian folk-rap singer had turned in bolt-upright electrifying performances at the VMAs, and on the night previous to MIA landed on Eminem’s surprise album Kamikaze, which features Reyez on two songs: “Good Guy” and “Nice Guy.”

That was but one of Reyez’s perfect storms.

“Oh man, you can say that,” she laughs. “That moment was surreal. Thank God I have a great team that has been working its asses off, because we’re just all moving so fast. Sometimes, you barely get a chance to appreciate what is, you know? It is difficult to stop, and take it in, because everything is ‘go go go.’ No sooner than I get a moment… I’m pulled into the present.” Continue reading →

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That Was Then, This Is Now: An oral history of Philly hardcore cult favorites Flag Of Democracy

Flag of Democracy | photo by Yoni Kroll | courtesy of the artist

Picture this: it’s 1982 and punk and hardcore are beginning to take hold in Philadelphia. Three obsessed and eager teenagers decide to form a band. As luck would have it, their friends are booking the show of the year — Washington D.C.’s Minor Threat, considered at the time one of the finest bands around and today to be absolutely legendary — and these suburban teens are asked if they’d open. The band goes up on stage and rips through a fantastically wild set despite it being their first show ever. Everybody is blown away.

In the movie version of this story that would be it. Maybe they learned a valuable lesson. Maybe they didn’t. The final scene is one of those epic montages showing everybody growing up and the reunion three decades on where you might think they’re all normal adults who aren’t angry at the world because they’ve figured it all out but surprise surprise they show up in leather jackets ready to play their second show ever! Roll final credits and …

But wait: this all actually happened and that band, they’re still playing breakneck pissed off hardcore punk. In fact, they never stopped. That’s the world of Flag of Democracy, one of the finest acts to ever come out of Philadelphia and to this day a cult favorite around the world. Continue reading →