Twenty-two years, eight albums, an unquantifiable number of nimble guitar leads and drum fills, and Philadelphia instrumental metal trio Stinking Lizaveta is going strong as ever. Comprised of Yanni Papadopoulos on lead guitar, Alexi Papadopoulos on bass and Cheshire Agusta on drums, the band releases its latest outing, Journey to the Underworld, this week via Translation Loss Records. Tonight, they headline Johnny Brenda’s to celebrate. Continue reading →
Support for The Key Studio Sessions, from Dogfish Head
Longtime local power rockers Stinking Lizaveta are stepping back into the limelight with a follow-up to 2012’s 7th Direction LP. Set for release via Translation Loss Records on February 17th, Journey to the Underworld was recorded in Louisiana, across Lake Pontchartrain from New Orleans in the fall of 2015.
Philadelphia always gets typecast as the underdog, this city of illusion-of-grandeur miscreants that drastically wants to be NYC or D.C. or whatever else but can’t. You probably know of the “6th Borough” label or the Rocky lovable loser trope or any of the articles that question why anybody would even try and find success in our wonderful city. Hell, even the Fresh Prince had to move to Bel-Air before he could make something of himself.
This is nonsense. Philly doesn’t want to be New York or anywhere else. Like we’re supposed to care about what goes on in those high-strung, obnoxiously stressful cities and somehow bend and break ourselves to fit that mold. What’s great about this city, our city, is that we’re not that. We don’t have to play by their rules. People in Philadelphia have always created their own scenes and that music, that art, is the essence of what makes us unique. It’s weird, freaky, and very much does not need to fit in.
Step into any West Philly basement and you’re almost guaranteed to see a band that sounds like nothing else out there and absolutely slays. If you were the kind of person to look for clues in history, here’s a hint: it’s been almost five decades since Sun Ra and his Arkestra landed in Germantown and rewrote the rules of jazz and really music as a whole. There is literally no end to the examples of Philly bands that have decided to do whatever it is they felt compelled to do, even if nobody else cared. Underdogs we are clearly not.
“I don’t know enough about other music scenes to know if all cities have it, but I feel like Philadelphia has such a strong undercurrent of weird shit.” That’s Eliot Duhan, lead singer of a band that’s a perfect example of all that: EDO. Since their formation at St. John’s College in Annapolis, MD back in 1987 – they moved to Philly soon after graduation – the band has continuously defied norms and expectations. Somewhere between Frank Zappa’s matter-of-fact weirdness, the Butthole Surfers’ freakout rock, and the outer space groove of Parliament Funkadelic, EDO (the meaning of the name has been lost to history) occupies a singular position in Philly punk history, even if you’ve never heard of them. Continue reading →
On the first 2017 collection of standout performances from The Key Studio Sessions, Philly artists stretch out.
Three Man Cannon explores measured avenues and alleys of indie rock groove for six minutes on “Pushing People.” Mars Parker runs a five minute sprint to the trancey hip-hop / R&B tones of “Little Red Corvette.” Long-running Philly / Brooklyn experimental pop outfit Cuddle Magic delivers a vibrant epic in “The First Hippie on the Moon, Parts 1 & 2.” And far-reaching instrumentals are rocked by raw power metal trio Stinking Lizaveta and forward-thing jazz ensemble Vince Tampio Quintet.
That’s not to say The Key Studio Sessions Volume 19, available for streaming and free downloading today, consists solely of slow burners. You’ll hear spirited retro rock by Louie Louie, hooky punk from Eight and swift electropop care of Camp Candle. Long running Philly faves Creepoid check in with a searing new heavy psych jam, PINKWASH rages for three minutes of cathartic thrash and Shannen Moser closes the set with a elegant and direct folk song.
Possibly one of the best-named bands in Philly since I’ve been covering the scene, the 15-years-running noisepunk duo HULK SMASH is playing its first gig in four years tomorrow at the First Unitarian Church for Two-Piece Fest.
Multi-instrumentalist Bruce Howze tells us that, in preparation for the show, they wrote a batch of new songs and recorded them in a marathon session last weekend, getting a new tape ready for release via his label SRA Records.
The new Three Songs and Some Noise EP delivers exactly what its name promises — and further, exactly what the band name HULK SMASH promises — blast beats and searing riffs and raw vocals and cacophonous keyboards. It’s pretty righteously badass, and you can stream it below. Continue reading →
It’s the first Tuesday in May and that means there’s a brand new line-up of eclectic Tuesday Tune-Outs to prepare for. PhilaMOCA asked WKDU’s Yoni Kroll to curate the weekly showcase this month, and The Key has his preview of four especially original events.
Booking a music and movie night is a bit different than just finding a band to play a show. You have to consider what the band sounds like, sure, but you also have to figure out if they have good taste in movies. Because when it comes down to it, nobody wants to have to sit through Dirty Dancing 2 just because Erik from Mischief Brew thinks it’s a lost classic. Note to Erik: don’t you dare.
Putting this together I drew on both my knowledge as local music director at WKDU Philadelphia 91.7 FM and the fact that I go to way too many shows and I hate being bored. Two bands and one movie is a very specific lineup and you need to tread carefully to make sure everything and everyone is on equal footing. To that end, I chose bands and musicians that would be fun as well as interesting, especially together. I hope you agree.
I bring you May’s Tuesday Tune-Out series:
May 6 SGNLS and Dangerbird Jr.
SGNLS rose out of the ashes of Lesser Known Neutrinos, a West Philadelphia band of yesteryear that had more in common musically and politically with experimental punk groups like Crass and The Ex than anything else. What SGNLS has managed to do in the scant few years they’ve been around is harness the raw, creative energy that was always present in their previous bands and transform it into something new and exciting. The lineup, with Tony on keyboards, Paul on guitar, Kellzo on drums, and new addition Alexi (from Stinking Lizaveta) playing bass, is a talented and extremely creative juggernaut. That’s exhibited in both the music and the shows the band plays: SGNLS can open up for a thrash metal band or headline a political punk show or perform in front of a couple hundred exuberant skaters, as they did at Philly Punx Picnic a couple years ago. It works because it’s good, because it’s different, and because ultimately it’s very fun. Their new album will be out on FDH in a few months.
You like Neil Young? You like distortion? How do the words ‘heavy’ and ‘slow’ grab you? If you said yes to any of this, you’ll love Dangerbird. First show in a while! Members of Hulk Smash, Serpent Throne, Faking, and a ton of other bands going back forever.
In celebration of their October 1st release of Sunlight On The Moon, fantastical psychedelic indie rock outfit Elf Power is coming to Boot and Saddle tonight. The album is the fourteenth full-length the band has released since forming in Athens, Georgia almost two decades ago. Check out the title track from the album below, and find tickets and information for tonight’s show here.
The Tritone Sessions is a free digital collection of music recorded at The Tritone Bar from 2009-2012. All the music was recorded, mixed, and mastered by Scott Parker. The collection includes live performances from Baby Flamehead, Sturgeon, Stinking Lizaveta and seventeen other bands. Download it below.