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The Week Ahead: Tedeschi Trucks Band, Purling Hiss, Nuevofest, Aimee Mann and more

Tedeschi Trucks Band | photo by Shervin Lainez | courtesy of the artist

The lazy holiday weekend is behind us, and it’s back to business here in the Philly music scene.  This week we’re fortunate to have a huge variety as ever, from midwestern garage rock to living room jazz, soul on the waterfront and folk/blues in Fairmount Park. Here are 20 concerts to see in the next seven days, all around Philly.
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Soul Glo calls for action and calls out performative activism on “21”

Soul Glo | photo by John Vettese for WXPN
Soul Glo | photo by John Vettese for WXPN

Today, Philadelphia punk outfit Soul Glo is on the way from Novi Sad, Serbia to Vienna, Austria, in the midst of their 2019 European tour. In a couple weeks, their latest album, THE N___ IN ME IS ME, will be released on SRA Records. Tracks have been trickling out since the announcement — the harsh industrial noise / rapped vocal burner “32,” the doubletime hardcore screamer “22” — and today we’re happy to bring you another advance cut from IN ME IS MEContinue reading →

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The Skeleton Key: From Amanda X, Break Free Fest, and Eugene Chadbourne to Nina Simone, Sun Ra, The Trocadero, and Yarrow, we’ve got you covered this May

Break Free Fest | flyer by @goodestboylili

A friend of mine who has been playing in bands for more than two decades recently asked me, only half-joking, where I find the energy to go to as many shows as I do. While I wanted to protest or at the very least get humorously defensive — “I don’t go to that many shows! Whatever!” — I realized it was a good question because, well, I do end up at a lot of shows every month. I mean, duh, I was asked to do this column for a reason.

Truth be told, I didn’t have a great answer for her. I found a home in music when I was 18 and moved to Philadelphia after spending five long, boring, and lonely years in South Florida. My first proper show was a couple weeks after getting here in September of 1997 — Helmet, The Melvins, Today Is The Day, and Hovercraft at The Trocadero — and I haven’t looked back since. It’s just what I do, for better or worse.

But while I didn’t have a good or even clever response to her question, I did have the realization that part of the reason I spend so much time watching live music is because there’s so much going on. Jazz, punk, hip hop, klezmer, chamber music. Eastern European choral bands. Indian classical. Harsh noise, catchy indie rock, techno DJs spinning all night long. If you wanted to, you could see a different type of music just about every night in our city and I think that’s amazing. Continue reading →

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Soul Glo is releasing their new album on SRA Records in June

Soul Glo’s new album cover | photo via SRA Records

Philadelphia punk outfit Soul Glo has gone through a lot of changes since the release of their UNTITLED LP from 2016. The propulsive hardcore of that record is steeped in taut playing and nervy shrieks, but the gigs they’ve played have gradually developed and changed, making ample room for large swaths of expansive, cathartic noise. Theirs is a live show that makes the audience feel the frustration and anger of the music in a visceral way, and seeing the song listing of their new album include a cut called “noise tracc,” we expect that it will echo what we’ve been seeing Soul Glo bring to the stage over the past year or so. Continue reading →

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Soul Glo breaks down the gap in wealth and equality on “Mathed Up”

Soul Glo | photo by John Vettese for WXPN

If you don’t think Philly’s Soul Glo are one of the most important artists in punk right now…well, I’m not sure what punk shows you’re going to, but you might want to course-correct a bit. Using an aesthetic of driven-to-static guitars, blast beats and screamed vocals, the band channel anger and frustration over systemic racism and oppression, as well exasperation over the way that oppression creeps nefariously into the day-to-day lives of people living in a changing city, of players in an largely white punk scene. As frontperson Pierce Jordan told our Yoni Kroll in an interview ahead of the inaugural Break Free Fest in 2017, “essentially our music is the sound of the yelling and cussing in our heads as we field the various microaggressions of our lives.”

Jordan went a bit more indepth in another interview later that year with The Key’s Alex Smith: “I started to get really possessed by the idea of learning about myself and what I believe in by writing about how I and others live and what we see around us during our lives. A lot of what i feel like I really should be talking about is truly foul and ugly shit and I wanted to keep it real by addressing that instead of vague poetry.”

In addition to being a powerful force on the lyrical front, Soul Glo is charting new territories in punk sonics; when we last saw them (headlining an Everybody Hits show at the top of the month), the band expanded from its earlier guitar, bass, drum format to include laptops and samplers, bringing a harsh noise layer to their already-visceral sonic catharsis. The latest song to emerge from that, “Mathed Up,” was released via Twitter and Soundcloud last week as the band toured to a hardcore fest in Toronto.  Continue reading →

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Sammus, Pinkwash and more will play benefit gig for MLC at Everybody Hits

Sammus | photo by John Vettese for WXPN

Music might be the healing force of the universe, as Albert Ayler famously proclaimed, but it’s also just an excellent way of getting people together. That’s the idea behind Friday’s benefit show for the Mass Liberation Campaign at Everybody Hits with Sammus, Pinkwash, Soul Glo, and Likes.

The MLC is part of Reclaim Philly, a grassroots organization that, “endorses and supports progressive candidates and policies that fight for a vision of putting working people before the profits of corporations and the super rich,” according to their website. Specifically this campaign is aimed at reducing the number of people affected by mass incarceration. Continue reading →

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Control Top sees right through your power trip on “Type A”

Control Top | photo by Vince Guglielmo | courtesy of the artist

Post-punk trio Control Top creates music with the goal of resisting conformity. And it works — their songs sound totally unlike most others. Over the last few years in the Philly DIY scene, the band has evolved into its own distinct sound while going through shifts in lineup before arriving at its currently tight configuration. Currently, Control Top is led by Ali Carter on vocals and bass, along with guitarist Al Creedon and drummer Alex Licktenhour — Ali, Al, and Alex, conveniently — and the band recently has been hard at work on its first full-length album, Covert Contracts.

While details on the release are still forthcoming, Control Top has shared a new single, “Type A.” Its energy is as urgent as the band’s driven punk sound calls for, and its lyrics are scathing in the best possible way: “I see right through your power trip / One loose screw and you will slip,” Carter sings with determination, “Who gave you the right to decide what’s right / Your false authority is dreadfully boring me.”

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Amps and Allyship: SRA Records’ BJ Howze on erasing boundaries in the punk scene

BJ Howze | photo courtesy of the artist
BJ Howze | photo courtesy of the artist

A quick visit to Philly based punk record label SRA Records‘ website reveals the quirky, jagged sense of humor that belies the countenance of label owner BJ Howze, a person whose personal growth has been as steady and pointed as his releases. If you were a fan of BJ’s noise-and-drums duo Hulk Smash and their in-your-face, “The Onion headline if written by Chomsky as heavy metal lyric” brand of punk, then you know what I’m talking about. But despite the adherence to punk’s need to shed light, tongue-in-cheek, on the troubling nuances of living in the world, it’s the evolutionary process — the growing up, the having kids, the accepting of your social position in the world and what kind of positive power that can yield — that has kept SRA continually challenging staid long-held punk notions of do-it-yourself, broadening the concept of punk community but retaining all of its power, humor and intelligence. From releases by agit-grunge outfit Psychic Teens, to the blistering wall of noise political chaos of Soul Glo, the label has stretched its sonic boundaries. By opening up his studio and label while providing support for bands that feature historically marginalized people, BJ has vowed to push social boundaries as well.

After seeing him around the punk scene for years, I finally officially met BJ after my band (Solarized, whose debut LP BJ also has agreed to release on SRA) played a show at a dive bar in South Philly and we’ve been making moves to work on projects together ever since. And while our prog-rock synthwave band might not ever see the light of day– and besides, BJ does duty with his wife and principle song-writer Helen in the band Dialer, holding it down in that admittedly slight genre already– it was an honor to work with him as he graciously lent his expertise to an event I put together, Electrifest (a queer/lgbt empowering event highlighting the avant-garde queer and POC led music scene on the east coast). We sat down with BJ to discuss the maturation process and what it’s like to help erase boundaries in the strange, often bewilderingly unforgiving world of punk rock. Continue reading →

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Documenting The Scene: Philly labels SRA and Richie Records on their parallel ethos

F.O.D. performs at Stalag 13 in the 90s | photo courtesy of SRA Records
F.O.D. performs at Stalag 13 in the 90s | photo courtesy of SRA Records

Around 2011, Bruce Howze, founder of SRA Records, had been looking for a singer to front his reverb-laden five-piece, Dangerbird, when he got in touch with Jim McMonagle of long-standing Philadelphia hardcore band F.O.D.

Howze would recruit him to help write, sing and play guitar on songs for a four-band compilation in the works. While in the studio McMonagle got to talking about F.O.D. material that’s been out of print since its original presses and that some people were interested in reissuing it at the time but McMonagle didn’t know them well enough to pursue it. Howze explained that he’d already been getting Dangerbird’s first two CDs and seven-inch into stores, so he was fit for the job. McMonagle agreed, and SRA Records was born.

A few years before that, in a similar recording scenario, Richie Records founder and namesake Richie Charles recorded some music to cassette with his friend just for fun. Charles’ friend made copies of the tape, wrote “Richie Records” on them and handed them out to other people they knew. Soon after that, a different friend approached Charles, mentioning the tape and its “Richie Records” moniker, assuming Charles was behind it. However, it was the first Charles had heard about it. Turned out his recording partner was passing the tapes without telling him he made copies, or even named them. After that, they made a couple more tapes together and distributed them informally because, “people wanted them for the novelty,” Charles says modestly.

When Charles was hit by a car in 2004, he used the settlement money to launch the label and Richie Records became more than a series of lo-fi home recordings circulating among friends. Perhaps Howze was in the right place at the right time, while Charles was in the wrong place at the right time. But even though these two records labels, each geared towards loud, hard-hitting and oft-abrasive garage, punk and metal, are completely unrelated to one another, they do overlap in ethos. Continue reading →