Tag Archives: philadelphia

Stream: Fight Amputation – “Constantly Off”

Fight Amputation will be releasing their first new LP in three years with next month’s “Constantly Off.” If the two tracks streaming on their bandcamp page is any indication, then the album is going to be an unrelenting barrage of heaviness.

For a three-piece band, they definitely know how to fill out their sound. There’s a nice layer of clear, punishing bass underneath the thick crunch of the guitar. With tone straight out of Queens of the Stone Age, and the riffs to match, Fight Amp sound like they have something to prove, and aren’t wasting any time barreling through these tracks with reckless abandon.

“Ex Everything” starts off with chugging, down-tuned guitars and the stuttering feel of shifting time signatures in the verse. The chorus (if you want to call it that, as it only happens once) takes flight, however briefly, and ends with just a touch of a hint of what might have turned out as a catchy hook if they had wanted it to. That hook hints at some of Nirvana’s early material–perhaps a beefier “Big Long Now”–with both vocal lines ending similarly.

The album is available for pre-order right now through Fight Amp’s bandcamp page. The album will officially come out on June 9th, after which the band will be playing shows around the mid-west, East coast, and Canada, in addition to a hometown show (of course). You can check tour dates on the bandcamp page, or on fightamp.com.

Stream: Keir Neuringer – “Ceremonies Out of the Air”

Keir Neuringer’s latest is a double album that features 5 tracks of sax improv spanning almost 80 minutes and filling up every possible bit of space on the record. Not only is every possible physical space on the album filled, but in that time not a second is wasted. Neuringer fills the space with expanding musical material that seems to grow organically out of thin air. As you listen you can hear the ideas taking shape and developing into much larger, overarching musical ideas.

Armed with nothing more than an alto sax, Keir Neuringer may sound on the surface as though he is taking after Colin Stetson with his equally fascinating use of space and texture, not to mention circular breathing. But, the fact of the matter is that these compositions benefit from a different brand of spontaneity than Stetson is employing. The stream of consciousness that Neuringer is employing adds a whole other dimension to listening to the music. We’re clued in to the fact that the song is developing before our very ears. We are taking a journey more or less together. Add to that that all of the elements of any great composition are employed as Neuringer takes great care to nurture the overall shape of the structure as well as the dynamic and pitch range to form an improvisation that sounds like anything but. This is practiced and expert instantaneous composition at its finest.

The album is available now on special limited edition CD and vinyl, which can be picked up via Keir Neuringer’s bandcamp page, which can be found here. Take a listen to “i dreamt there was nothing wrong with my chemistry” above.

There is a bunch of other stuff to listen to on his bandcamp. Might I highly recommend his tape: “Afghanistan: And Bide Your Time.” It’s an EP with keyboards, vocals and percussion all performed by Keir. Politically charged and sounding like nothing else out there. Give it a listen. Limited tapes are still available.

Album Review: Man Man – “On Oni Pond”

Man Man - "On Oni Pond"
Man Man – “On Oni Pond”

It seems that there are only a few ways that a band with any hope for longevity can sustain itself. On the one hand each album can be a stylistic world apart from all previous work (Liars, of Montreal), or the artist can continue to grow and shape their sound as a bit by bit process (Dan Deacon, Marnie Stern, Sonic Youth). After listening to Man Man’s latest, “On Oni Pond,” I think that it is safe to say that they are firmly in the 2nd camp.

Those two paths, by the way, don’t carry any judgments with them. Both have their merits. The main benefit of taking the latter route is that the band’s style is developed along with expectations of what the music should be, there isn’t so much of an element of surprise. This can be a very good thing, especially in the case of a band that started out by sounding so strange, like Man Man.

Their first album had both the Frank Zappa and Tom Waits dials turned up pretty high. Over the years those edges seem to have worn themselves down a bit. Honus Honus’ voice has smoothed significantly, though he can still call upon a little bit of the grittiness present on 2004’s “The Man in a Blue Turban With a Face.”

That gritty weirdness has been pushed back far enough that some charming hooks are allowed to shine. A song like “Head On,” with it’s soft staccato keys and sustained string parts, combined with the chorus that implores us to “Hold onto your heart/hold it high above the waters/never let nobody drag it under/even when the whole world’s bitter/never let nobody take it over.” A lyric like that is damn near uplifting, something that would have never happened on some of the earlier releases, yet it doesn’t sound like that much of a stretch on this album.

So many of the tracks on “On Oni Pond” sound ready for a bit of a wider audience. Though the overall sound sacrifices little, except maybe higher production quality, the weirdness is still there, you just might have to listen for it a bit more. Well, sometimes you don’t have to listen that closely; the opening lyric of the album states “It’s the way that your kiss condemns me/it makes me feel like I’m in Guantanamo.” The song continues to slyly mention waterboarding and other unpleasantries like being thrown under a bus or grinding teeth to dust. And the reason that “Pink Wonton” works so well as the album opener is that it serves as a point of reference.

The thumping synth groove of “Loot my Body” is funky in a way that maybe of Montreal’s “False Priest” is funky. Another good thing about introducing yourself as a band that is perhaps a little bit off-kilter is that you can pretty much get away with experimenting a little bit more. If you are collecting all of these sounds and styles, why not let them all out once in a while?

Overall I think that “On Oni Pond” shows a band that I never thought would grow up, grow up. It’s really for the best, because if you start with a certain schtick and then stick with it for the sake of sticking with it it tends to grow tired pretty quickly. I like when bands seem to take a step back and listen to themselves, learning where the music wants to take them. It’s that natural process of evolution that can be exciting. This is an album worth checking out if you have been a fan of Man Man, but especially if you haven’t been to this point. I think “On Oni Pond” can serve as a good starting point for those unfamiliar with their music.

“On Oni Pond” is currently available as a download on iTunes, or on CD or 2xLP from Anti- records (as are some Tom Waits’ records, by the way). They are also currently on an extensive tour across the US.

Web//iTunes//Purchase//Twitter (Man Man)//Twitter (Honus Honus)//

New Release: Psychic Teens – “Come”

Psychic Teens - "Come"
Psychic Teens – “Come”

This album was brought to my attention through the Permanent Records email list, my favorite record store in Chicago (they have recently opened shop in Los Angeles as well). “Come” is Philadelphia’s Psychic Teens’ second full length record. Part psych rock, part garage rock, part abrasive noise. From the sneering vocals and angular guitar bending of “NO” to the buzzsaw dissonant counterpoint of “RIP” and the feedback assault of “BUG” the entire album creates beauty through hazy, gritty guitar noise and a punchy bass with punk-rock drumming.

The hooks are there, just below the surface. The mix and overall aesthetic of Psychic Teens reminds me a little bit of The Telescopes, or even My Bloody Valentine mixed with White Hills in parts. An element of shoegaze is present, but not as a rule. Take, for example, album closer “VEIL.” That song’s slow dirge, with gently chorused guitar, holds back the flood of a Russian Circles’ circa “Enter”-like thick wall of bass heavy distortion. During moments like this it’s difficult to determine whether this should be categorized as straight up metal.

The standout for me, however, is the hypnotic half-step foundation of “LUST” that is periodically broken up with a slightly out of tune 2nd guitar. The entire thing shifts considerably upon the entrance o a heavy dose of feedback squeal and a metal power-chord crunch that leads into a four-on-the-floor stomp.

I guess you could call it whatever you want as long as you listen. The band can readily move between and beyond categorization with very little effort. They seem to be placing themselves right at the edge of several intersecting styles. Another great example of the diverse Philly music scene.

Take a listen to the album above or on the SRA Records bandcamp. Albums are available in a variety of formats including CD, oxblood colored vinyl, and cassette with a few bundles that include a variety of other things thrown in for good measure.

Bandcamp//Purchase//Permanent Records//

Stream/Download: Mincemeat or Tenspeed

Mincemeat or Tenspeed
Mincemeat or Tenspeed

You may not imagine a tiny blog like mine that nobody reads would get a steady stream of free music sent to their inbox, but I do. It takes a lot of effort (that 9 chances out of 10 is not worth it) to comb through all of the music that I am thrown on a weekly basis. Hundreds of hours of music.

I get into these moods where I want to listen to something that I have never heard before, or even heard of before. That’s where Burn Down the Capital comes in and never lets me down. I met the dude that not only runs that site, but also puts together crazy shows of the most outside music you could ever imagine across Toronto, several years ago. So, that link might be of a bit more help to you if you live in and around the Toronto area if you’d like to actually check out any of the shows that are posted to the site.

Last week the email he sent out included info about a gig that Philadelphia’s David Harms, aka Mincemeat or Tenspeed, was putting on. I checked it out and got exactly what I wanted. Noisy, challenging music. If you are a fan of early Dan Deacon or Merzbow (or both) then you should check this out. He creates music with “No synthesizers, samplers, sequencers, drum machines, computers, musical instruments.” His only tools are effects pedals and a mixer. What he does with that limited inventory is pretty amazing.

Ranging from pure noise-ambience to electronic pulsations of distorted glitches, he’s got it covered from top to bottom. And the truly great news for you is that there is a great deal of his music that is available for download for free. If you are having a hard time trying to decide where to start, I think that “Live in Black Ops,” “The Tower,” and “Dungeon Master” are where to go. Interesting sidenote that the Soundcloud page claims Providence as his location (perhaps that is more current?) and that the “Dungeon Master” album includes the track “Mindflayer,” also the name of fellow Providence noise master Brian Chippendale’s bands. Check out some of these tracks and then head over here and download.