Monday, September 24, 2007

Downtown Harvest

Downtown Harvest's new album, Golden Dragon, is one of those records - had it been released in 1988 or 1993 - that would have been described by music critics as some "brilliant postmodern alt-rock hip-hop masterpiece." It is an album that probably would've sounded more comfortable during that era than the one we're in now. And that's the reason why the record sounds so g-damn good now. It probably would've gotten lost back then. It's a throwback but it sounds so stylishly fresh. They're a rock/dance/rock/funk/rock/newwave/did i say rock? crew that owes as much to Beck and the Lo Fidelity Allstars as they do to early Chili Peppers, the Ohio Players, Hot Chip, and Philly's very own raprock allstars, The Goats.
I know: that's a lot to digest. But dig if you will the new album from this foursome who shift musical gears and moments with ease and creativity and some tough beats. The Harvesters take some familiar elements and make them sound brand new - between the heavy beats and sinewy grooves and the horn flourishes and grungy sounding guitars there's more than a handful of great songs on this record that you'll find yourself putting on repeat no matter where the party is, even if its in your own head. Here's one of those songs and if you dig this one then find it in your heart wallet to buy the album.

Killer Queen Bee - Downtown Harvest

Downtown Harvest's myspace

Thursday, September 20, 2007

The Orphan Family Have Fuckin' Got It

New local upstarts the Orphan Family really aren't new; essentially it's the dirty leftovers of The Situation who broke up and have morphed into some heavy fucking jangly-psychedelia gangsta singer-songwriter shit. Sort of like a Dandy Warhols/Robyn Hitchcock/Kinks kind of thing with three of the four Situationists including Jared Styles on bass, John Paul McCartney Bonham Travis on drums and Christopher Tucker on the lead vocals and guitars. The fourth member of the O-Fam is an Apple mac that shoots out mad images in a multi-media experience that will leave you hot and bothered and always ready to rock. Like these guys do. This song is dope. Check it out and play it loudly.

Sister, You've Fuckin' Got It - Orphan Family

Monday, September 10, 2007

The Trolleyvox

My history with The Trolleyox actually goes way back almost 20 years to when I first started volunteer DJ'ing at WXPN doing the late night alt-rock show called Beat Planet back in the '80's. I was one of a number of DJ's who spun the late night college/alt-rock and one of the DJ's was Andrew Chalfen - the songwriter, guitarist and sometime singer currently behind Trolleyvox. Back then he was the DJ who turned me on to just about any cool band that played jangly melodic pop. From (early) REM to the Chills to Miracle Legion, Big Star, the dB's, Let's Active, and The Verlaines and the many bands who were tagged a part of the Paisley Underground, Chalfen was back then and still is a lover of psychedelic melodic pop. Great chords, singalong choruses, Rickenbackers, mostly 3 & 1/2 minute energy charged pop leaning rock songs. Back in the 80's and almost into the 90's, Chalfen was also a member of The Wishniaks, an important band amongst a handful of important bands in the local music scene, along with Electric Love Muffin, Nixon's Head, The Johnsons, Flight of Mavis, The Low Road and Baby Flamehead.

All this history to say that while Andy has been in a number of bands since The Wishniaks, The Trolleyvox have just released their fourth album. That Chalfen remains a vibrant part of the local music scene is a testament to his ability to write timeless pop songs. I should say albums since it is a double disc; Your Secret Safe is the electric disc and was produced by Brian McTear; Luzerne is the acoustic collection - just Andy and vocalist Beth Filla(recorded by Chris Unrath). The rock side features Chalfen on guitar and some vocals, Owen Biddle on bass, Adam Stranburg on drums along with Beth on lead vocals.

Jean Jacket - The Trolleyvox

You can buy the record here

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Sure Juror

New Jersey's Sure Juror are on to something interesting. They got a delightfully skewed sense of popstrionics. At the heart of their songs, are um, real songs, and sometimes heaped on top of the all the cool indiestructure is some crazy experimental stuff that's just enough to keep you on your toes rocking and your little indiemind challenged. Musically they've got a lot going on, some lo-fi here, some punk rock there, a little jazz breakdown thing here, some found noises that float's a collision of styles that works.

Sure Jurors have two albums out, both available for download (how about that!) on their website. Here's a little sampling from both of their albums including their latest Smut.

Making Friends Has Never Been This Easy - Sure Juror
Broken Crayons - Sure Juror
Ex-Cuties - Sure Juror
The Drive Will Do You Good - Sure Juror
Christmas Shopping - Sure Juror

Sure Juror perform at The Khyber on Tuesday Sept 11th with Windsor Park Walkers, Mean Streets and CounterVision. A good chance to support local music. And for the NY'ers in the house, Sure Juror play Piano's on Sept. 21.

Sure Juror's myspace

Monday, September 3, 2007

Going Back To School With The Geator With The Heator

Jerry Blavat, The Geator With The Heator remains one of Philly's most incredible DJ's. He had a hand in breaking the careers of all the greats, and he's done a little recording of his own. In celebration of the new school year, here's a side he did on Cameo-Parkway back in 1962. It's a classic.

One More Time Back To School - Jerry Blavat

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Tripping down memory lane with the Executive Slacks

Philadelphia's Executive Slacks were way ahead of their time, which in their heyday was around early 82/83 until about 1986/87 when lead singer and guitarist Matt Marello ended the band to pursue his career in art. They were one of Philly's proto-electronica/goth/industrial/techno bands and pretty damn good at it. I used to see them a lot particularly at Revival on 3rd Street in Philly. The band included Marello on guitars, John Young on synths and effects, Bobbie Rae on percussion and Stuart Levy on organ. The Slacks' earlier works were produced by former Killing Joke bassist Youth (the band were fans). Adding a bit of some Philly history to the mix, their now classic Fire And Ice album was one of the earlier words mixed by the now legendary Phil Nicolo and Andy "Funky Drummer" Kravitz.

With their moody, funky, atmospheric and noisy patchwork of searing guitar, found sounds and hip grooves, Executive Slacks were a mainstay of the local music scene back in the day. Here's a couple from Fire And Ice including their cover of Gary Glitter's "Rock And Roll."

Rock And Roll - Executive Slacks

Wide Fields - Executive Slacks

Trouser Press - Executive Slacks