I’ll admit it – I’m having a hard time wrapping my brain around The Most Lamentable Tragedy, the universally-praised, 90-minute concept album / rock opera / epic from Jersey punk outfit Titus Andronicus. I respect that Patrick Stickles and the band are following their muse wherever it leads them, and a ton of fans are evidently along for the ride (their First Unitarian Church basement show is sold out), but to my ears it feels like a lot of all-over-the-place bombast and rehash of what Titus has delivered so remarkably well on previous releases Local Business, The Monitor and The Airing of Grievances. (I’m quite possibly completely wrong about this – listen here and let me know what I’m missing.)
There is more than enough of Jake Ewald hyper-metaphorical lyricism to go around with his new project, Slaughter Beach. The frontman of Modern Baseball released his debut three-track solo EP, Dawg, back in August. His main band can be heard in these songs, for which he plays drums and bass as well. Continue reading →
It’s the time of year to trade in all those hard earned dollars for some new vinyl – as if you didn’t do that all year long already.
And if you don’t, Record Store Day - this Saturday, April 19th – is a good a day as any to start. While the debate continues as to whether or not the “holiday” has outgrown its original goal of celebrating independent record stores across the country, and turned more towards larger labels reissuing classics to cash in, that’s not to say you shouldn’t take advantage of what’s been released and take advantage of any potential deals.
When heading out this Saturday, be ready for something unavoidable – crowds. Blair Elliot, owner of Doylestown’s Siren Records, says that RSD has blown up a little more every year to the point of bringing more people through his shop’s doors than the Christmas shopping season. His store will have most of the RSD-exclusive releases. And if you check the RSD website; that’s quite a formidable list; must be a big investment for an independent store.
“We hope it’s big this year because it’s costing us a lot,” Elliot says laughing. “I don’t think it’s a risk, but you just need to make sure you sell enough of what you get.”
Siren Records will also be hosting Chris Forsyth and the Solar Motel Band and Our Griffins for an in-store performance starting at 6 p.m. Forsyth and company will be releasing, Solar Live 11.15.13, a recording of the band’s November show at the Rotunda.
The show happening at Siren is just one of many in-store shows this year. Northern Liberties’ Creep Records is treating RSD as a “grand re-opening” as they expand into a neighboring store in the Piazza at Schmidt’s (shoppers will be able to enter from a new door on the inside of the Piazza). They plan to mark their stock down ten percent and expect to have all the RSD-exclusive releases. Goddamnit, Ex Friends, Good Graces and Families will be playing their in-store show starting around 4 p.m. Continue reading →
Historical context, and the role it plays as we view our own present, is important to Joel Tannenbaum. He teaches history at the Community College of Philadelphia – why wouldn’t it be? His fixation on the past and its relationship to the current state of things is evident right from the first few seconds of “Dirty Ben Franklin,” the opening track to Rules for Making up Words (Paper + Plastick), the first record from Tannenbaum’s Ex Friends, when he growls:
“If you listen closely, you’ll hear the sound / Of ghostly feet walking on the old hunting grounds / Then you’ll hear voices, troubled and vexed / With vague premonitions of what’s coming next”
“I’m really genuinely proud of that song,” Tannenbaum says. “I feel like it let me do a lot of different things at once that I think are important in songs. It’s about history, which is very important to me obviously. It’s about this city in a very particular way.” He stops for a second, before finishing his thought. “And it’s an anthem.”
There’s a distinct air of weariness and exhaustion that runs through Rules for Making up Words, but we’ll get to that in a second. Right now, a little bit of Ex Friends history.
The band was conceived backstage at 2011’s Riot Fest, where Tannenbaum was performing with a Plow United, the popular power trio he played bass in during the mid-90s. The band played its first show in a dozen years for the festival, and after the set, Tannenbaum was talking to his friend, artist and drummer JP Flexner. He realized that he needed to start playing music again. Continue reading →
Maybe you remember mid-aughties Philly noisemakers An Albatross, but if not, here’s a quick summary – they ruled. They mixed up high-octane punk energy with heavy metal instrumental precision, cranked the speed up 20 times, and added some swaggery rock n’ roll moves in the mix. The one time I got to catch them live – a floor show at the First Unitarian Church basement circa 2003 where, if memory serves, they shared the bill with DC avant-shredders Black Eyes and Philly hardcore heroes Paint it Black – front man Edward Gieda was an intimidating, shirtless, sweaty specter. He strutted like Mick Jagger, leaped and landed on the crowd’s outstretched hands like Iggy Pop, was possibly seconds away from smashing a bottle and cutting himself up with it. Meanwhile, the band blew through some of the most nihilistic grindcore jams I’ve heard to this day.
All this is to preface Fantasy Panther, Gieda’s new group I just found out about. Joining him are An Albatross drummer Steven Vaiani and guitarist / producer Daniel Kishbaugh, and they just premiered a new music video for a rager called “Insect.” It’s a minute-long blast of insanity, and the blood-splattered video was shot in the upstairs restroom at The Barbary this past Saturday night. Watching the band play in a bathroom is kind of a surreal thing in itself – from a sound engineering standpoint, they’ve got to be getting like ZERO separation in there, and from a custodial standpoint, they’re practically a demolition crew. But it rules, true to Fantasy Panther’s pedigree. They’re right now recording songs for a full length at Creep Records Studio. Watch “Insect” below.