Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Beach Slang A Loud Bash of Teenage Feelings Polyvinyl Records Release: 23 September 2016

Beach Slang- - A Loud Bash Of Teenage Feelings
September 23, 2016
Polyvinyl Records

“I don’t want to whisper things anymore.  I want to yell them.”  --Beach Slang’s James Alex

First there’s the choppy E chord, revving the song like a boot stomping a gas pedal: the sound of all that excess energy built up at the start of the night.  Then comes James Alex’s fine-grain sandpaper voice: “Play it loud, play it fast Play me something that will always last Play it soft, play it quiet Play me something that might save my life…”

James Alex, songwriter and front man for Philly indie-punk outfit Beach Slang, knows wherefrom he sings.  Like a lot of us, Alex is that kid Lou Reed sang about, the one whose life was saved by rock and roll.  And A Loud Bash Of Teenage Feelings (Polyvinyl), Beach Slang’s second full-length, is just that—a crash-and-thunder collection of songs about what it takes to keep yourself going, to make it through the rest of the night—hell, through the rest of your youth—and beyond.

Coming off a string of acclaimed EPs, Beach Slang’s first album, 2015’sThe Things We Do To Find People Who Feel Like Us, won remarkably effusive acclaim from a number of critics, and wound up on several “best-of-the-year” lists.  James wrote much of A Loud Bash Of Teenage Feelings on that album’s support tour, during which he spent a lot of time with the kids who’d picked up the record.

“A lot of the songs [on Loud Bash] are the stories of the kids who got turned on to Beach Slang by the first album,” says Alex.  “They’re autobiographical, too, but kind of at a remove—I’m not that young kid anymore, but I used to be.  You know how it is; rock and roll is a new crop of 15-year-olds picking up guitars every year and having at it.  There was something really cool about documenting someone elses life, but seeing myself in it.  I suppose that’s why we connect.  We’re all kind of one big gang.”

The same could be said of Beach Slang itself, whose members came together very organically.  After logging 15 years in Weston, the much-praised Philly hardcore punk outfit, Alex brought the songs that would become Beach Slang’s first EP to an impromptu jam session with outside musicians, including future bassist Ed McNulty.  “It felt right, right away,” says James.  “It was one of those rock and roll moments.”  When second guitarist Ruben Gallego joined them soon after, Alex knew they’d found the formula for Beach Slang, a band that draws in equal measure from punk’s raw energy and power-pop’s emotional forthrightness—a combination that Alex found himself resonating with as he moved into adulthood and became a father.

Going into the second record, Alex didn’t feel a sense of pressure to match the broad, unexpected success of the first.  “What I did feel was a sense of responsibility to the kids who told me they were finding something in our music that brought them back from a bad place, the ones who were getting Beach Slang tattoos and quoting lyrics to me after the shows.  I don’t want to let those people down.  As a 20-year-old, I thought, hey, let’s all have fun, we’re gonna live forever.  You don’t really see the finish line.  Now it’s more like, am I leaving behind work that’s going to matter?  What’s this going to say about me when I run out of air, and my son is listening to these records and tapes that I left behind.  Is he going to say, “Yeah, my dad was all right”?  These days I feel like I’m responsible for things bigger than myself.  And I want to do right by them.”

Indeed, Alex is that rare songwriter who can create songs that blend his own Young Man Blues with the grown man’s earned perspective.  Check the arresting “Punks In A Disco Bar” and “Spin The Dial” for his skill at merging full-throttle hooks with memorable, whip-smart lyrics, or “Art Damage” and “Wasted Daze Of Youth” for a lesson in how rock and roll can be sinister and dissonant, and still end up beautiful.

For all the volume and the fuzz and the fury, Beach Slang is a band for sloppy romantics who got there the hard way (“I still taste you in the ash / of every cigarette you kill,” sings Alex).  And that’s how the band wants it: “Whether this Beach Slang thing flies or falls,” says Alex, “we want to know that we put everything into it.  We’re a rock and roll band; we make records and we tour.  We want to sweat it and bleed it.  We want to do it like the bands we love and respect did it.

“Without these guys,” James Alex says, “my life would feel really, really empty.  And I have a full, beautiful life.  But you know how some people have the ‘god hole’?  I have the rock and roll hole.  I’m that kid with the posters on his wall.  Whether I’m right or I’m wrong, I’ve convinced myself this is why I’m here.”

Beach Slang—plug it in, turn it up, and let it scream.

9/2 -- Montauk, NY -- The Surf Lodge's Summer Music Series
9/8 -- Baltimore, MD -- The Ottobar
9/9 -- Raleigh, NC -- Hopscotch Music Festival @ Cam
9/10 -- Richmond, VA -- The Camel
9/17 -- Wilmington, DE -- Dogfish Head Analog-a-GoGo @ Bellevue State Park
9/23 -- Chicago, IL -- Goose Island Beer Co.s Urban Block Party
10/6 -- Boston, MA -- Royale%
10/8 -- Philadelphia, PA -- Project Pabst Citywide Festival @ Electric Factory
10/11 -- Washington, DC -- Black Cat **
10/12 -- Virginia Beach, VA -- Shaka's**
10/13 -- West Columbia, SC -- New Brookland Tavern**
10/14 -- Orlando, FL -- Blackbooth**
10/15 -- Jacksonville, FL -- Jack Rabbits**
10/16 -- Atlanta, GA -- The Masquerade (Hell)**
10/18 -- Nashville, TN -- The Basement East**
10/19 -- Louisville, KY -- Zanzabar**
10/20 -- Newport, KY -- The Southgate House Revival**
10/21 -- Cleveland, OH -- Grog Shop**
10/22 -- Pittsburgh, PA -- Cattivo**
10/24 -- Columbus, OH -- Rumba Cafe**
10/25 -- Bloomington, IN -- The Bishop**
10/26 -- St. Louis, MO -- Old Rock House**
10/28 -- Minneapolis, MN -- Triple Rock Social Club**
10/29 -- Maquoketa, IA -- Codfish Hollow**
10/30 -- Omaha, NE -- Reverb Lounge**
10/31 -- Kansas City, MO -- The Tank Room**
11/01 -- Fayetteville, AR -- George's Majestic Lounge**
11/02 -- Oklahoma City, OK -- 89th Street Collective**
11/4-6 -- Austin, TX -- Sound on Sound Festival

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Aloha - Little Windows Cut Right Through

Little Windows Cut Right Through
Polyvinyl Records
6 May 2016
Restless by nature, Aloha has never made the same album twice. And if they’ve earned a reputation as a cult band, it’s because each record creates its own aural world, spawning a new set of devotees.

Aloha traffics in an introspective style of rock, vivid but melancholy, both fragile and forceful. Not difficult, but also not obvious.  On Little Windows Cut Right Through, the band follows its prog influences into the early 80s when Fairlights, LinnDrums and Prophets pushed ambient textures and straight lines into music that had grown bloated and unfocused. This invigorating shift highlights what Aloha does best -- driving rhythms behind a matrix of interlocking mallets, keys and guitars. A kind of post-rock in the service of its heartfelt-but-never-precious songs.

Lyrically, Little Windows offers dispatches from the void. The title comes from singer Tony Cavallario’s attempt to write the album in character, yet finding evidence of himself in each song. It’s a story of self-doubt and reflection, where small truths breaks through a dark, sometimes dangerous solitude.  

Opener “Signal Drift” begins out-of-sync, crooning above unsteady waves of sound which soon give way to a wistful flutes and pounding marimbas, foreshadowing redemption. Radiant ballad “Flight Risk” pleads for a chance to make things right, propelled by a frantic pattern of wood blocks, cymbal crashes, ratchets — the sound of an orchestral percussion section going off script and into its feelings. The brooding, cinematic “Swinging for the Fences” enlists eerie arpeggios in the defense of sadness as a social good. The bright synth-pop of “I Heard You Laughing” closes out the album on a defiant high note with a dose of self-acceptance and relief.

For all the album’s existential tension and bleak observation, as a listening experience the takeaway is loud and clear. Aloha has distilled disparate elements (and four years of demos) into a precise, mature record that pulses with life, providing catharsis without bluster.

Little Windows Cut Right Through is the perfect introduction to Aloha for the unfamiliar listener, while longtime fans will be glad to find the band consistently unsatisfied, continually seeking.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Rotting Rhythms: Listen: The Afghan Whigs Cover The Police

Rotting Rhythms: Listen: The Afghan Whigs Cover The Police: Listen to the Afghan Whigs cover the Police HERE I am going to their show in Cleveland in September. They are always awesome live. T...

Listen: The Afghan Whigs Cover The Police

Listen to the Afghan Whigs cover the Police HERE

I am going to their show in Cleveland in September.
They are always awesome live.

The Afghan Whigs have turned in a slow burn cover of The Police’s Ghost in the Machine classic, “Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic.” Entertainment Weekly says of the song, “Dulli and company have brought that spooky undercurrent to the front, and infused the Police’s composition with the dark and dangerous sensuality they specialize in" (see EW.com August 14th). The track was recorded during the sessions for the band’s current Sub Pop album Do to the Beast.

The Afghan Whigs will kick off their North American trek with a performance on KCRW’s "Morning Becomes Eclectic" the morning of Monday August 25th. The tour begins the following evening on August 26th with a two-night stand at Doug Fir in Portland, OR. Joining the band on drums for the North American tour will be Patrick Keeler (Raconteurs, Greenhornes). Due to an unforeseen scheduling conflict, the August 31st show in Boise, ID has now been cancelled. For the most up to date information and tickets please visit theafghanwhigs.com

Earlier this week, Sub Pop also announced The Afghan Whigs’ leader Greg Dulli’s collaboration with author & longtime friend Danny Bland for I Apologize in Advance for the Awful Things I’m Gonna Do.... Awful Things… is a 120-page, full-color, paperback collection of haiku written by Bland and is the first published collection featuring Dulli’s photography, with calligraphy by Exene Cervenka (co-founder of the band X).

The Afghan Whigs 2014 Tour Dates

Aug. 26 - Portland, OR - Doug Fir Lounge*
Aug. 27 - Portland, OR - Doug Fir Lounge*
Aug. 29 - Vancouver, BC - Commodore Ballroom*
Aug. 30 - Seattle, WA - Bumbershoot Festival
Sep. 03 - Omaha, NE - The Waiting Room
Sep. 05 - Montreal, QC - Virgin Mobile Corona Theatre*
Sep. 06 - Toronto, ON - Riot Fest Toronto
Sep. 09 - Cleveland, OH - House of Blues*
Sep. 10 - Detroit, MI - St. Andrews Hall*
Sep. 12 - St. Louis MO - Ready Room*
Sep. 13 - Chicago, IL – Riot Fest
Sep. 16 - Nashville, TN - Cannery Ballroom*
Sep. 18 - Orlando, FL - The Beacham*
Sep. 19 - Atlanta, GA - Center Stage*
Sep. 20 - New Orleans, LA - Civic Theatre*
Sep. 26 - Cincinnati, OH - Mid Point Music Festival*
Sep. 27 - Pittsburgh, PA - Mr. Small's Theatre*
Sep. 30 - Boston, MA - Boston Royale*
Oct. 01 - Washington, DC - 9.30 Club*
Oct. 03 - Philadelphia, PA - Union Transfer*
Oct. 04 - New York, NY - Beacon Theater**
Oct. 07 - Chapel Hill, NC - Cats Cradle*
Oct. 08 - Asheville, NC - The Orange Peel*
Oct. 11 - Minneapolis, MN – First Avenue*
Oct. 22 - San Francisco, CA - The Fillmore*
Oct. 24 - Solana Beach, CA - Belly Up*
Oct. 25 - Los Angeles, CA - Fonda Theatre*
Oct. 28 - Salt Lake City, UT - Urban Lounge*
Oct. 29 - Denver, CO - Bluebird Theater*
Oct. 31 - Austin, TX - The Mohawk*
* w/ Joseph Arthur
** w/ Charles Bradley

Friday, August 8, 2014

Rotting Rhythms: Castanets' video for "Tell Them Memphis" is a beau...

Rotting Rhythms: Castanets' video for "Tell Them Memphis" is a beau...: Castanets is set to return with a brand new album, Decimation Blues, on Asthmatic Kitty later this month on the 19th. Yesterday, Stereogum ...

Castanets' video for "Tell Them Memphis" is a beautiful slowburn that pairs perfectly with the song's haunting tempo (off Decimation Blues out 8.19)!

Castanets is set to return with a brand new album, Decimation Blues, on Asthmatic Kitty later this month on the 19th. Yesterday, Stereogum debuted the video for "Tell Them Memphis" calling the song "eerie and alluring, like a stranger’s comforting hand on your shoulder." The video for it pairs beautifully with the song's glacial pace and rewards viewers who give it their full attention: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3341g2INv0U

The songs on Decimation Blues represent the music of a man who’s learned to live and build among the wreckage—twelve seemingly offhand, secretly meticulous tracks that we can hunker down in. In a time when so much music seemingly sounds recycled, Raymond Raposa has crafted an incredible album of singular vision that only he could make. For copies of the album, interviews, or anything at all, don't hesitate to reach out.

Thanks for all the listening you do and have a lovely weekend!

- Nathan

Friday, February 28, 2014

Their/They're/There - Analog Weekend

Polyvinyl Records press release:

Their / They're / There
Analog Weekend EP
Polyvinyl Records / Top Shelf Records

Their / They’re / There is the brainchild of Evan Weiss (Into It. Over It.), Mike Kinsella (Owen, Owls, Cap'n Jazz, American Football), and Matthew Frank (Loose Lips Sink Ships).

Analog Weekend, the band’s second EP, was recorded directly to tape at Ed Rose’s Black Lodge Recording over a single weekend and features piano by James Dewees (The Get Up Kids, Reggie and the Full Effect, Coalesce).

You can listen to the Analog Weekend EP on the Their / They're / There page at Polyvinyl.