Violens @ Johnny Brenda’s, Philadelphia

Having seen Brooklyn now-quartet Violens back in April at North Star Bar (when a 5 piece), I was more than excited to catch the band again last night at Johnny Brenda’s along with locals Ape School and Relay. Ape School opened the show with an indie acid rock and indie pop rock set that, while not groundbreaking music by any means, was entertaining. Front man Michael Johnson often sang in a falsetto as the band played solidly behind him.

After a lengthy set-up, Violens took stage and got down to business. The stage banter was minimal, save for front man Jorge Elbrecht asking if the audience could hear everything OK and later to mention that the band had an EP for sale at the merch table. Their no nonsense approach to playing wasn’t unwelcomed as they rocked hard, playing a tight and high-energy set of hard rocking tunes. Laptop beats flowed forth from a Mac manned by synth player/vocalist Iddo Arad as Violens ended their set with a series of dance jams.

Drummer Kris King tore up his kit with an ever present grin on his face as Elbrecht shredded on the guitar through the urgent dance tunes and inspired an eager fan into a frenzied solo dance party. In the frenzy, bassist Ben Brantley ripped off the strings from his bass and tossed it to the ground in a fervor, astonishing and pleasing the crowd.

Violens only get better with age and has great commercial appeal. Expect big things.

Jorge Elbrecht

Iddo Arad

Ben Brantley

Kris King

Violens Set List:
Already Over
Until It’s Unlit
Grey Reigning
Spectator & Pupil
Trance-Like Turn (download)
Violent Sensation Descends
Full Collision

Violens: website | myspace | download, watch “Trace-Like Turn” | Green Owl comp | rcrd labl | interview with | April 2008 live review
Ape School: myspace
Relay: myspace



First Look: Motel Motel

Brooklyn’s Motel Motel, who released their New Denver LP last month followed two days later by the Old York EP, are a “Band We Like” on Oh My Rockness and have been called an “Artist To Watch” by The L Magazine. From the LP, the band has just released single “Coffee” for download.

Preview “Coffee”

RCRD LBL will be featuring “Coffee” next week along with “River” and “Harlem” is still available.

Motel Motel: website | myspace


Skybombers / People In Planes @ Millcreek Tavern

Tucked away on Baltimore Avenue in West Philadelphia (born and raised / on the playground’s where I spent most of my days…) sits Millcreek Tavern. In addition to having great drink specials and even better beers on tap, Millcreek has a small stage and an amazing sound system. Last Friday night I headed over to West Philly to catch foreign acts Skybombers (Australia) and People In Planes (UK).

Skybombers possessed the most endearing Australian accents and a massive amount of energy that kicked the crowd into high gear. They covered “Money (That’s What I Want)” with more zeal than I’ve ever heard that song performed. They smoked on stage (smoking in Philadelphia bars is a big no!), brought some ladies on stage to dance and had the crowd sing a rousing rendition of “Happy Birthday” to and toast bassist Ravi.

Skybombers voraciously took over the bar with a wild intensity and totally tight sound that got the crowd more than amped for People In Planes.




Not to be outshone by their tourmates, People In Planes also put on a high energy show and held the crowd rapt rather than causing them to bounce off the walls. The crowd sang along loudly, moved around and watched with admiration as the Wales 5 piece raged on stage.

Guitarist Peter Roberts plays a sweet flying V, which are too rarely seen these days, churning out hooks for dance jams like “Moth.” The band slowed it down a bit with a tune featuring a heavy melody played by newest addition Ian Russell that could easily appear in film or commercials. Led by vocalist Gareth Jones, who also plays rhythm guitar, People In Planes plays radio friendly rock that will no doubt take them far.

People In Planes: Gareth Jones

Peter Roberts

John Maloney

Ian Russell



Skybombers: website | myspace
People In Planes: website | myspace


Head Like A Kite – No Ordinary Caveman EP

I was recently introduced to the fantastic Head Like A Kite, who are able to create a modern-industrial- pop sound to their music, that is overwhelming to both the body and ears. Head Like A Kite is comprised of just two men, Dave Einmo (on guitar, synthesizer, sampler, and vocals), and Trent Moorman (drums, keys, sampler, and vocals). This two-man band calls upon musical friends every now and again to join them in the studio to assist them with the creation or the remixing of their music.

The band’s first major album was Random Portraits of the Home Movie which was released February of 2006. The album was influenced and inspired by the 1970s’ Super-8 home movies, which they applied an experimental-electronic sound that could be compared to that of The Faint. In response to this album, Head Like A Kite was joined by fellow musicians from The Long Winters, Radio 4, Crooked Fingers, Smoosh, Animals at Night among others and, once again, ventured into the studio to produce yet another album. This second record, titled There Is Loud Laughter Everywhere, was released in June of this year. With such hypnotizing songs as “No Ordinary Caveman,” “Six Bags of Confetti,” and “Daydream Vacation,” this album was a musical success.

But they were not finished yet. On August 19th, they released a six-track EP of remixed tracks from this recently released album. The sound for the remixed tracks took the music to a whole new level. These songs where remixed by several known DJs such as Nobody who took a swing at “No Ordinary Caveman,” and knocked it right out of the park. Boom Bip put a whole new spin on the song “Daydream Vacation” with the help of Asya from Smoosh, and Antimc worked the sound of Head Like A Kite’s “Six Bags of Confetti.” All the while, Daedelus Plucks That Broken Arrow got together with Head Like A Kite to transform “We Were So Entangled” into something new and shiny.

Every single one of these DJ’s injected their own special steroid into their song, creating a whole new feel to the song.

01. No Ordinary Caveman (download)
02. No Ordinary Caveman (Nobody’s Totally Spaced Remix)
03. Daydream Vacation (Boom Bip’s Homecoming Remix)
04. Six Bags of Confetti (Antimc’s Skinny Gold Chain Remix)
05. We Were So Entangled (Daedelus Plucks That Broken Arrow Remix)
06. No Ordinary Caveman (Her Space Holiday cover)

Tour Dates:
Aug 30 – Rickshaw Stop / San Francisco
Aug 31 – Old Ironsides / Sacramento
Oct 03 – John in the Morning at Night (KEXP) / Seattle

Head Like A Kite: website | myspace | download, watch “No Ordinary Caveman”
Mush Records: website | myspace

Written by: Kyle Thurin


Grateful Dead to Reunite for Obama

Barack Obama’s run for the presidency has launched many different grassroots campaigns. The most interesting may be the revival of the Grateful Dead.

I am told that on Oct. 13, possibly either in Philadelphia or Pittsburgh, the Dead will get back together for at least one show to raise money for and awareness about Obama.

All four living original members will play together — Bob Weir, Mickey Hart, Phil Lesh and Bill Kreutzmann. The band’s leader, Jerry Garcia, died in 1995 from a heart attack.

Substituting for Garcia will be Allman Brothers and Gov’t Mule master musician Warren Haynes.

If all goes well, the band will then set out on a major tour in summer 2009.

Wow. Really, just wow.



Beck To Play Hollywood Bowl with Father

Autumn DeWilde

Photo: Autumn DeWilde

Beck‘s sold out September 20th show at the Hollywood Bowl will mark yet another milestone in the multi-platinum Grammy winner’s long and storied career. In addition to being Beck’s biggest ever hometown headline engagement, the show will now commemorate the first time he and his father arranger-conductor David Campbell have performed on stage together, when Campbell conducts the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra Strings as they accompany Beck’s performance.

David Campbell’s work appears on more than 400 gold and platinum albums. Over the course of his career, his work has received no less than 50 Grammys and two Oscars. As a performer, he has played on historic sessions with the likes of Marvin Gaye, Bill Withers and Carole King, while his arrangements can be heard on music by everyone from Paul McCartney, James Taylor, Johnny Cash, Neil Diamond and the Rolling Stones to Cat Power, The Mars Volta and of course on several of Beck’s albums.

Although Campbell has written string arrangements on most of Beck’s albums, Septmeber 20th will be the first time father and song will have performed together.

Beck: Beck: website | myspace | Modern Guilt review
David Campbell website


The Sound of Animals Fighting: The Ocean And The Sun

Throw on this record and it’s going to be the furthest thing from pop music you’ve heard in a long time. The name of the band, The Sound of Animals Fighting, already evokes thoughts of quick, rapid and harsh images whereas the title of the album, The Ocean And The Sun, conjures up mental pallets of peace and tranquility. And that is what you will find lttered throughout this record: a cross between calm and chaos.

The Ocean And The Sun is the third album by California based The Sound of Animals Fighting. The group consists of four members, who until recently, were only known by their zoological pseudonyms; The Nightingale, The Walrus, The Lynx and The Skunk. With such names I’m picturing characters out of an old fantasy novel: four mysterious, wise beings, rising from the past to lead and bestow upon the people something different, something changing, and that is what you feel like after listening to this record. The group consists of Rich Balling, Anthony Green, Matt Embree, and Chris Tsagakis, all members from a variety of different acts, such as Rx Bandits, Circa Survive, Days Away/Good Old War, Finch and The Autumns.

This is very much a progressive rock album with wild splashes from a variety of different genres: jazz; eastern music; punk; electronic; and hardcore metal. They certainly pull from a diversity of flavors with the least bit of care of sticking to expected and structured song formats. For the most part however, each song sounds unoriginally the same; hyper, metal like guitars and frantic drumming spliced with a strong jazz guitar riff that ploughs through all the other sounds. It’s something Joe Satriani on speed would pulse out.

At the end of many songs, a chaotic mashing of instruments that really just sounds like, well, noise. But then somewhere below that surface of sound, faint and inaudible vocals yearn to break free and make their greatness known. And on the tracks when they do, they add a much desired change of pace and texture. The vocals for me are the true gem of the album, that unfortunately only shimmer instead of burn brightly.

On “Another Leather Lung” one is reminded of The Smashing Pumpkins; at first listen one might think Billy Corgan is at the helm of dictation. Corgan is the closest comparison to these vocals, though in a softer nature on the other tracks.

My favorite song on the album is title track “The Ocean and the Sun,” which follows a completely different style than the other tracks and is really just an overall beautiful composition. It’s a slow electronic number with heavy eastern influences, particularly that of modern electronic Indian music, with wispy, nostalgic, fantasy-esque vocals. It reminds me of the Nitin Sawhney track “Letting Go.” The song takes you back to another time/another era, the electronic aspect creating a dreamlike experience.

“Cellophane” is another standout track that breaks the harshness of the album and falls on the tranquil side. The sound stems from its name it seems and has an airy, light atmosphere, with a well played jazz guitar riff that floats throughout the song. The barely audible vocals seem to be only sounds rather than words that do well to bolster the airy atmosphere. The end, however, is lost to the album’s characteristic format of spastic guitar/drum thrashing that sounds like animals fighting.

The Ocean And The Sun might not be an album you can quickly enjoy on first listen, as the initial noise and musical mashing can be a little harsh. However, it is an original and diverse record that can be appreciated for its uniqueness and effort of combining a variety of instruments and genres to produce sounds that are vastly different from other records out there today.

The Ocean And The Sun will be released on September 9th by Epitaph Records.

01. Intro
02. The Ocean and the Sun
03. I, The Swan
04. Another Leather Lung
05. Lude
06. Cellophane
07. The Heraldic Beak of the Manufacturer
08. Chinese New Year
09. Uzbekistan
10. Blessings Be Yours Mister V
11. Ahab
12. On the Occasion of Wet Snow

The Sound of Animals Fighting: website | myspace

Written by: Ali Hussain