Wednesday, February 24, 2010


I contributed a few gems. Check em' out!


Best Spot to Score Fountain Cherry Coke in Center City

For the soda connoisseur there isn’t much that can beat the fountain. There’s something about the sweetness, the effervescing bubbles and the refills that makes fountain soda the ultimate in carbonated corn syrup. Now, let’s talk flavors. Pepsi and Coca-Cola Classic are expected but Cherry Coke and Dr. Pepper? Thank you, sweet baby Jesus for allowing these delicious beverages to be invented. At Pita Pit you get a 32-ounce bucket for under $2. This trough of sugar will last at least an hour depending on your ice ratio.

Pita Pit, 1601 Sansom St. 215.564.1080.

Best Gay Cruising Mecca

Twelfth Street between Walnut and Locust rivals 13th Street as the gayest of gay. You can’t beat the duo of 12th Street Gym and Brew-Ha Ha! for cruising. If Eighth Avenue in Chelsea is New York's big gay catwalk, this is ours. You’ve got muscle gays (and straights) pouring out of the gym, and they all magnetically gravitate towards Brew-Ha Ha! A quick glance at the M4M Missed Connections reveals the gritty truth: Hearts swell and are broken every day at this gay haven. Newbies be forewarned, you will get eyes if you’re even remotely attractive. There’s no real type here: Professionals, bartenders and grandpas all flock to Brew-Ha Ha! for eye candy and to see and be seen. BHH is a chain and that means the product is nothing special, the food is limited and everything’s puh-ricey—but it’s not about the menu, it’s about the mens.

Brew-Ha Ha, 212 S. 12th St. 215.893.5680.


Best Record Store Clerk

Some of you refuse to give in to the digital downloading tidal wave. On occasion you may even go in to a record store and ask what’s good, what’s new or what sounds like a band you already love. In these situations you need help. You need Chris from AKA . He listens for you. He also plays guitar so he has an ear for talent and plays in a couple bands (Fang Island, Infinite Possibilities), so he knows his contemporaries. While owner Mike may take some warming up to, he’s embedded in Chris a fondness for ‘70s guitar rock (Thin Lizzy) to balance out his young grasshopper’s love of proto-punk (Ramones, early Velvet Underground). Chris takes his job seriously; he reads things and anticipates new releases. Long In The Tooth on Sansom and Repo on South can be whack experiences—LITT is so punk, and Repo is staffed by stoners. AKA is big, user-friendly and they care about getting records into your head.

AKA Music, 27 N. Second St. 215.922.3855


Best Place to Share the Dancefloor with Philly Pop Royalty

Talking about the Barbary as a hip, young dance destination is redundant. It’s in every corny advertorial neighborhood guide you can get your hands on. On weekends, Michael Madonna Prince is $8 to get in, and if you show up at 11 p.m. you’ll wait in a 50-foot line for an hour. Lame. However, owner John Redden does a good job keeping the fun going on weeknights with regular parties like Tigerbeats (Mondays) and Bouffant Bangout (Wednesdays). On these cover-less nights you own the floor and you may even find yourself rubbing elbows with Philly favorites Amanda Blank and Spank Rock’s Naeem Juwan. Surprise surprise, you can buy them both a beer and talk about their records; they’re down. The dirty little beer and whiskey joint probably won’t attract any Hollywood celebs (hello, this is Philly) but we have our own local sweethearts and ours can out drink those scrawny L.A. bitches any day.

Barbary, 951 Frankford Ave. 215.634.7400.

Best Tiny Place To Catch A Band You’d Pay Through The Nose To See In NYC

It’s always a nice surprise to see a band you have your eye on throw a Necktie date on their itinerary. With a typical $10 ticket price and space for about 100 people at a time, it’s a steal. A lot of bands that end up at Necktie are following up dates at the Mercury Lounge or the Music Hall of Williambsurg. Not huge price tags but, ya know beers at those joints are gonna be like $12 each, and many of them sell out quickly. Last year saw visits from indie darlings Gang Gang Dance, Fuck Buttons, Girls, Fiery Furnaces, Fucked Up and many others, and 2010 will no doubt be littered with locals throwing record release parties and shows from several “next big things.”

Kung Fu Necktie, 1248 N. Front St. 215.291.4919.

Best Bar For Young Gays To Get Bought Drinks

Sometimes it seems like girls have it so easy. All they have to do is put on some heels, do their hair, expose some tit and—Bam!— they’re drinkin’ free all goddamn night ! They just bat their lashes and lean over 45 degrees and any dude with at least one working eye will come running to their alcohol rescue. But what’s a young gay who’s artsy lifestyle affords only a few PBR cans before pushing their monthly budget to do? Knock is the answer. The swanky decor and older gentlemen’s crowd make twentysomethings (dressed in something other than a V-neck sweater and bootcut jeans) stand out like a doe-eyed target. Be careful though, boys, the drinks are strong at Knock (don’t accept too many, it’s trashy), and you may end up puzzled with a business card on the pillow next to you. Sometimes it helps to bring a book or magazine, it makes you look extra lonely, and sure enough you’ll have an upside-down shot glass placed in front of you with a wink from across the bar flying your way in no time. Score.

Knock, 225 S. 12th St. 215.925.1166.

Got to thinkin'

Bands I want to see perform before they (or I) die:

Beastie Boys
PJ Harvey (preferably cover to cover "Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea")
Animal Collective
St. Vincent
Arctic Monkeys
Mos Def
A REAL Broken Social Scene set
Sleater-Kinney (reunion tour?)
Fleet Foxes
Hercules and Love Affair
Band of Horses
Kings of Leon (you heard me)


Sunday, February 21, 2010

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

This is becoming an obsession

Karnivool's a deceptively solid metal band

Western Australia : Prog Metal :: Seattle : Grunge

This is a big deal record for metalheads. Western Australia has produced a few bands that have become staples in the prog metal genre, namely Cog and The Butterfly Effect. But with Sound Awake, Karnivool have emerged as the ones to watch. Their previous LP, Themata, was released almost five years ago and this 2009 full-length clocking in at 72 minutes puts them solidly in the upper echelon of progressive nu-metal.

High school friends who were inspired by and covered bands like Nirvana and Carcass, Ian Kenny and Andrew “Drew” Goddard are the only original members still singing and playing guitar, respectively. Kenny’s voice is an astonishingly impressive part of Sound Awake’s success: He has immaculate control, moments of serious radio beauty, and he can also wail. His voice guides listeners on an epic alt-rock journey with plenty of tempo and volume changes. This record is remarkably diverse, with harder moments of churning guitars, Jon Stockman’s ground-up bass, and aggressive drumming by Steve Judd.

What’s most exciting about this LP is the sounds for which Karnivool reach. They’ve stuck with veteran producer Forrester Savell and pulled in a handful of other musicians to fill out a rich, complex rock sound. They use a didgeridoo on “Change (Part 2),” a prominently awesome xylophone on album opener “Simple Boy,” and extra vocalists on the aptly titled “Goliath.” Singles “Set Fire to the Hive” and “All I Know” definitely rip, but they may not be the best or most indicative of the rest of the record.

“New Day” is a keeper, Kenny’s vocals front and center with bouncing guitar fingering that escorts the listener through the album’s artiest, softest track. “Deadman,” on the other hand, is the album’s most complex and longest song. It’s a 12 minute trip worth taking.

This is an impressive record and even more evidence to the musts of a compelling new metal record: tempo variety, artistry, complexity of sound, a talented vocalist and ambition to push the boundaries and definitions of metal. Western Australia has produced a champion of the genre sharing the podium with Isis and Mastadon. Sound Awake is quite an accomplishment.


Tuesday, February 16, 2010

I wrote a Week's Worst about Anti-Flag

Anti-Flag formed in Pittsburgh in ‘88 with one goal: change the world through leftist, politically charged punk rock. Their albums Their System Doesn’t Work For You and Die for the Government spit in the eye of all that uptight, middle-America holds dear with the express intent to wake them the fuck up. And it’s worked. Since those landmark albums we’ve: elected Bush, elected and re-elected his retarded son, gone to war with Iraq and Afghanistan, made Sarah Palin a best selling author, seen our economy shit the bed, bailed out billionaire banks, bailed out billionaire car companies, and, crystal ball here, are going to pass a toothless health care bill if one gets passed at all. So thanks for shaking things up, guys! Here’s to another 20 years, when we’ll no doubt be playing your game-changing albums on full blast in Utopia!

Wed., Feb. 3. 7pm, $15. With Cancer Bats, Star Fucking Hipsters + the Menzingers. Trocadero, 1003 Arch St. 215.922.6888.


MxDwn review of The Fall of Troy

History’s Been Kind, and the Future’s Bright and Sunny

Thomas Erak and Andrew Forsman are young, both 25, recording since they were 17 and no doubt inspired by their Washington state-inherited grunginess. Back then they were The 30 Years War, getting that name by dropping a finger into a history textbook—the same way they got their current moniker. In The Unlikely Event is their fourth and strongest album to date with a good deal of complexity and diversity of sound.

Comparisons will be drawn between this trio and tour partners Coheed and Cambria, but there’s something more straightforward about these younger prog-metal professionals. Several of the best tracks on Unlikely Event sound like less fussy versions of C&C songs, such as the strong “Single.” The sometimes heavy and almost always churning and distorted guitars and steady metal drumming of Forsman are trademarks of several of their contemporaries. Erak’s vocals don’t even approach Claudio Sanchez’s howl, but this is a good thing for Erak; his voice is ultimately listenable and compelling. Only on the second track, “Straight-Jacket Keelhauled” does he really tear up his vocal chords and merge into screamo for a second. This is deceptive because beyond this and “Nobody’s Perfect,” a screamer for the ages, the rest of the record isn’t nearly as hard.

The album is helmed by Terry Date, best known for producing Soundgarden, Pantera, Limp Bizkit and—perhaps closest in sound to The Fall of Troy—Deftones. For “Dirty Pillow Talk,” a tempo-changing progged-out winner, the boys recruited Rody Walker from Protest the Hero for vocals as well as Ryann Donnelly of Schoolyard Heroes. Another standout is “The Battleship Graveyard,” with a lengthy guitar-heavy breakdown full of effects and solos. It’s on songs like this one that they resemble current prog-metal heroes like Isis, Mastadon and The Mars Volta.

It’s a tough balance: metal that’s artful, intriguing and not overly epic. It’s also tough to wrap your head around a conceptual album, especially if the singing and playing isn’t so exceptional. That’s not to say The Fall of Troy are ultimately simple. Erak is a gifted musician, a capable songwriter, guitar player and drummer from a musical family (including his Eagles session-player dad), and in work like the slow, beautiful “Webs” he puts his chops on display. These guys are young, yet with four albums under their belt and huge tours behind them it will be a trip to watch as they mature and move beyond their peers.


30 Second Reviews from 2/16

Return of the Wu
(Gold Dust)

SOUNDS LIKE: A Mathematics-produced comp. featuring the whole crew with some killer new songs like "Clap 2010" and "Steppin 2 Me"
FREE ASSOCIATION: The usual mix of found Asian sounds, chunky beats and fierce spittin'
FOR FANS OF: RZA, GZA, Ghost, Meth, Raekwon, NYC

Salvador Santana
Keyboard City
(Various Music/Quannum)

SOUNDS LIKE: Carlos' son with Money Mark, the 4th Beastie Boy, serve a grooved out hip hoppy fun kfest of the spiciest Latin variety
FREE ASSOCIATION: Those keys and horns might make you sweat and run for el bano
FOR FANS OF: Buena Vista, Herbie Hancock, funky T. Monk

Backyard Tire Fire
Good To Be
(Kelsey Street Records)

SOUNDS LIKE: Illinois brothers plus one have been churning out foot-stompin' country-fried bar rock for almost a decade now
FREE ASSOCIATION: This would be best listened to drunk around a fire (with the band)
FOR FANS OF: Cracker, early Wilco, Los Lobos, North Mississippi

Adam Green
Minor Love
(Fat Possum
SOUNDS LIKE: One-time Moldy Peaches man's first on Fat Possum is a bluesy sad bastard rock record that sounds like a hundred others
FREE ASSOCIATION: Darkness in New York is leather, mild eyeliner and break-up songs
FOR FANS OF: Kimya Dawson, Elliot Smith, Leonard Cohen

The Living Sisters
Love To Live
(Vanguard Records)

SOUNDS LIKE: Pretty, harmonized vocal-oriented lady folk with touches of old-timey country and blues from a trio of girls in other bands
FREE ASSOCIATION: If Patsy Cline, Loretta Lynn and Emmylou Harris were indie rock LA girls
FOR FANS OF: Bird and the Bee, Watson Twins, the Wainwrights

Organ Blues
This Didn't Just Happen
(Self Released)

SOUNDS LIKE: Fishtown hetero life partners inspired by Philly grit make bluesy, slightly grungy rock n' roll for spaceouts and buzzes
FREE ASSOCIATION: Solid rock borne of garages, basements, Lager and late nights
FOR FANS OF: Pavement, Pixies, Modest Mouse, NE Phil

Say Us
(Arts & Crafts)

SOUNDS LIKE: Collett's backing band's debut LP is rich and folksy with a mix of tempos and moods but it's all clever and heartfelt
FREE ASSOCIATION: Some tracks are soft, but a couple are straight-up glam rock Bowie-style
FOR FANS OF: Canada, Rilo Kiley, a little My Morning Jacket

Jason Collett
Rat A Tat Tat
(Arts & Crafts)

SOUNDS LIKE: Toronto's Ryan Adams makes sunny, barbecued folk rock that's as humane as ever singing about life, love and hangovers
FREE ASSOCIATION: Where'd all your friends go? Idols of Exile rocked with guests
FOR FANS OF: Broken Social Scene, Andrew Cash, Metric, Feist


30 Second Reviews from 2/9

Beach House
Teen Dream
(Sub Pop)

SOUNDS LIKE: Droney keys, airy guitars and Victoria's soaring vocals make a gorgeous third LP and SubPop debut
FREE ASSOCIATION: A few tracks save it from being monotonous; cover to cover it's solid
FOR FANS OF: Yo La Tengo, Mazzy Star, Cocteau Twins

Owen Pallett/Final Fantasy

SOUNDS LIKE: Violinist and indie pop composer extraordinaire from Toronto is gifted at making lush, nuanced chamber rock
FREE ASSOCIATION: His previous record is called He Poos Clouds for Chrissakes, POINTS!
FOR FANS OF: Patrick Wolf, Andrew Bird, Nico Muhly, arty gays

Linstrom & Christabelle
Real Life Is No Cool
(Feedelity/Smalltown Supersound)

SOUNDS LIKE: Norwegian beat-man and producer recruits his homegirl's pipes to make dancey housey ultra-electro freak out jams
FREE ASSOCIATION: First listen is tough; then you hit the tracks deeper in that are bombtastic
FOR FANS OF: LCD Soundsystem, Brian Eno at Studio 54

Charlotte Gainsbourg

SOUNDS LIKE: French Renaissance lady's second adult LP is produced, written and performed by Beck and it is BAD ASS
FREE ASSOCIATION: Damn, Beck signatures all over it with a mix of Bjork electronica/ambience
FOR FANS OF: Serge, Air, Marianne Faithfull, Anti-Christ

Cuddle Magic
(FYO Records)

SOUNDS LIKE: Brooklyn/Philly supergroup fills a stage with strings, bodies, lamps and plastic animals in making sweet, meticulous folk pop
FREE ASSOCIATION: We're down with anything cuddle-oriented; this is soft enough to earn it
FOR FANS OF: Folksy Broken Social Scene, Megafaun

The Watson Twins
Talking To You, Talking To Me

SOUNDS LIKE: Louisville natives ran to LA and settled into Siverlake as backup singers who also write slightly sad alt-country folk
FREE ASSOCIATION: Rabbit Fur Coat did you girls, good, but will anything ever live up to it?
FOR FANS OF: Jenny Lewis/Rilo Kiley, Feist, Mirah, SoCal

Concrete Jungle
(Decon Records)

SOUNDS LIKE: Nigerian-born German neo-soul/MC's second LP is a rich and complex array of bangin' beats and slow gospeldelicism
FREE ASSOCIATION: One of the biggest surprise gems of 2010, she's about to take off
FOR FANS OF: Badu, Mos Def, Lauryn Hill, Fela Kuti, Raphael Saadiq

Four Tet
There Is Love In You

SOUNDS LIKE: London's Kieran Hebden's genius with loops, found and synthesized beats with bits of vocals for good measure
FREE ASSOCIATION: One of the best electronic records in years if not solely for "Love Cry"
FOR FANS OF: Flying Lotus, Caribou, Aphex Twin, headbobs


30 Second Reviews from 2/2

Hot Chip
One Life Stand

SOUNDS LIKE: The quirk-pop Brits swim further into the deep-end with Euro-flavored new wave electro-disco for the '10s
FREE ASSOCIATION: At least it's not getting boring; they must be slamming fistfuls of pills
FOR FANS OF: Stereolab, Brian Eno, Empire of the Sun, spaceouts

Scout Niblett
The Calcination of Scout Niblett
(Drag City)

SOUNDS LIKE: The UK native-cum-Portlander is a wild woman of rock; just her raw lyrics, a guitar and (sometimes) a drum
FREE ASSOCIATION: The wig-wearing welding art girl's Cobain worship is at her strongest
FOR FANS OF: PJ Harvey vs. Patti Smith, Grace Slick in '66

Keb Darge & Paul Weller Present...
Lost & Found Real R'N'B' & Soul
(BBE Records)

SOUNDS LIKE: The guru (KD) of UK's fascination with deep funk and soul joins up with The Jam's main man (PW) to curate bombass old soul jams
FREE ASSOCIATION: Worth it to hear Big Mama Thorton sing "I weigh 300 pounds!"
FOR FANS OF: The Cadets, Creations, The Dells, Tammi Terell

MCs Can Kiss
(Ed Banger Records)

SOUNDS LIKE: The Hong Kong/Paris-raised fashion plate/emcee is hot shit and her V-Day debut will seriously be bananas
FREE ASSOCIATION: Five wicked versions of the same song, fine; YouTube "Pop The Glock" now
FOR FANS OF: Yelle, Justice, CSS, Peaches but sexy

The Emptiness
(Fearless Records)

SOUNDS LIKE: Little hints of screamo pepper this Raleigh-born post-metal post-hardcore post-good record of overly literary hard rock
FREE ASSOCIATION: We say pick one; screamo doesn't go that well paired with the posts
FOR FANS OF: Greeley Estates, Asking Alexandria, nu metal

The Colossus
(RJ's Electrical Connections)

SOUNDS LIKE: Local boy's fourth is on his own label playing with instrumentals, loops, vocals, guest spots and electronic soulfulness
FREE ASSOCIATION: More of a DJ than a singer, but that jam with Kenna is so sick
FOR FANS OF: DJ Shadow, El-P, Blockhead, Aesop Rock

Eyelid Movies
(Barsuk Records)

Sounds Like: Saratoga Springs friends who've opened for big names but get their debut of infectious "street beat psych pop" out here
FREE ASSOCIATION: Growing up now you can actually mix those things and not be terrible
FOR FANS OF: Yeasayer, Zero 7, Belle & Sebastian meets Diplo

Pierced Arrows
Descending Shadows

Sounds Like: Fred and Toody Cole rear their aged garage punk grandparent faces and pick up a drummer to say 'We're not dead yet, listen up'
FREE ASSOCIATION: Simple, well-done, slightly angry and disquieting modern punk
FOR FANS OF: Dead Moon, Ramones, old folks kicking ass