Posts Tagged ‘Philadelphia’

Mike Polizze

With slight exceptions, the prior works of Mike Polizze have tended to center on volume, gnawing at the air until the oxygen is burnt and a char lays over the scene. His first entry to the amplified atmosphere came via Birds of Maya — blistering paint and eroding eardrums through releases on Holy Mountain and Richie. A left turn towards the garage with a touch of pop as Purling Hiss didn’t turn down the turmoil in the early years, letting feedback fight the tape hiss for prominence on initial releases before beginning to edge towards a classic rock sound that’s been more refined. In a lot of ways Polizze’s been following the same trajectory as Ethan Miller’s slide from Comets on Fire to the slipstream sheen of Howlin’ Rain. With a new run under his own name Mike’s stripping away the electric grit altogether, though, and letting the warm amber glow of late October firelight color his folk-pop with a particular nod to his Philadelphia surroundings.

Hunkering down with fellow Philadelphiles Kurt Vile and producer Jeff Zeigler, and letting the results out on Paradise of Bachelors, this is the sound of Philly transplants growing easy into their next phase. The pure joy of it comes through in every fiber. The stamp of Vile is particularly present on the album and he lends vocals to quite a few of the tracks here, with Polizze stepping up and delivering on his own version of Vile’s hammock-swung porch vibes. The record cools the swamp of summer into the sweater-hugged nights of fall from the moment the needle hits the platter. In fact those feeling an ache for a new Vile LP would be wise to see this as a stop-gap gift from the songwriter as it feels almost like an even collab between the two at times. Even hidden in the haze, Polizze had a handle on songwriting that made it stick, but here with the volume twisted down, he’s proving that he’s got hooks and grace to spare. The record is a departure for the songwriter, but it feels like a natural shift that could spawn the next phase rather than an outlier among the fuzz.





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Mike Polizze – “Cheewawa”

Another sunbaked strummer from the upcoming solo LP from Purling Hiss’ Mike Polizze. Like the previous single “Revelation,” there’s an inherent looseness, a sonic hammock of sound that cradles the listener. Its easy to pair Polizze’s solo work with slight breezes and the green sunlight that filters through the trees. Early summer solitude is a perfect pairing with his laconic strums and the burlap drawl of guest Kurt Vile. Naturally videos in isolation are getting hard to inject too much creativity into, but the hazy aura here does nicely to compliment “Cheewawa’s” natural ease. The record’s coming our way July 31st on Paradise of Bachelors.



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2nd Grade

This one’s a huge undertaking. While the power pop universe of Peter Gill (Friendship, Free Cake For Every Creature) rarely lasts more than two minutes, he’s packed 24 songs onto this LP from Double Double Whammy. Gill’s approach pushes aside the dedication to the late ‘70s and early ‘80s that so many of the latter day saints of power pop have adopted, almost to a dogged fault. Instead it’s clear that Gill’s heart belongs to the ‘90s school as it bled into the early aughts and he’s not afraid to wear that badge proudly on his sleeve. Snagging both ends of the decade, there are the huge hooks and that touch of sunshine with a melancholy soul that marked the works of the Velvet Crush/Mathew Sweet/Choo Choo Trains axis. Yet its clear that Gill may have had a Ben Kweller or Radish CD in his Case Logic clutch as well. Moments that recall the sorely overlooked 2nd offering from Superdrag crop up as well as an aftertaste of Fountains of Wayne.

Gill’s ability to pluck from so many different nooks of the ‘90s and still make the album feel cohesive and natural speaks to his songwriting. Shifts from winsome and sweet, to a more gnarled feel come without the jostling they might cause in lesser hands. Inside jokes that would make the Apples in Stereo blush abound. Strums that are simple and saccharine litter his work, but they land every time. The album’s a treasure trove of hooks and a ‘choose your own adventure’ volume of heartbreak and joy if the shuffle feature is employed. There’s something about the sheer volume of tracks mixed with the bite-size approach that feels like there’s no wrong way to listen to Hit To Hit. With the temps climbing this month, it feels like letting a little sun shine in is a good idea and 2nd Grade have got ya covered for any moment.





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Mike Polizze – “Revelation”

I love it when a track comes in that I didn’t know I needed, but once its in the headphones the resolve is instant. It should come as no surprise if you’ve been crawling through the Raven feed over the last few years that Purling Hiss is always on the turntable, but now Mike Polizze turns the hiss down to a hum and lets his soft side shine through. With fellow Philly luminary Kurt Vile in tow, he shapes this track into an azure swoon lit on clear skies, yet burdened with a slightly heavy heart. While some similarities might arise with his recording partner, Pollizze finds his own faded grace in his new digs, shaking off the yolk of fuzz for a surprisegly clear view of pop that’s littered with strums, horns, and sing-along choruses. The album finds him on indie-folk outpost Paradise of Bachelors and heads this way in July. Gonna want to mark the calendars and get this one prepped to pop on repeat pretty soon.



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2nd Grade – “Velodrome / My Bike”

A twofer video that serves up nothing but smiles and swooning strains, Philadelphia power-pop group 2nd Grade give good reason to be excited for their upcoming LP Hit To Hit. The band is lead by Peter Gill (Friendship, Free Cake For Every Creature) and his songwriting grabs from the power pop tradition by nature, but the ‘90s bracket of the genre by design. Where a lot of others have reached for the Bell/Chilton axis, Early Goovies, or Raspberries, there’s more than a hint of Sweet and Kweller in the bones of 2nd Grade. Its simple, but undeniable pop music for those not looking to muddy the waters. Sometimes all we need is a few crisp chords, sun-streaked skies and a cool breeze of pop to get us through the day. Gill understands this and delivers an album that’s got 24 tracks of bite-sized delights. The record is out May 29th on Double Double Whammy.



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Chris Forsyth & Garcia Peoples – “Dreaming in the Non-Dream” live

Over the last couple of years Chris Forsyth has been teaming up with Garcia Peoples in the live setting to form the Peoples Motel Band and the results have been nothing short of transcendent. Playing cuts from his 2017 album Dreaming in the Non-Dream and fleshing out the full force of All Time Present Forsyth and the Garcias have acted as a symbiotic live unit, finding an almost telepathic link on stage and letting some of his heavier gems crystallize into their fullest potential. That’s precisely what’s happening on the upcoming live document Peoples Motel Band: Solar Live Vol 3., recorded live September 14, 2019 before a hometown crowd at Johnny Brenda’s in Philadelphia. For this one, they add in a double drummer dynamic, with Forsyth regular Ryan Jewell trading sticks with Cesar Arakaki from GP. The set was captured live to tape by Forsyth’s longtime studio collaborator, engineer/producer Jeff Zeigler an the sound is probably one of the most crisp and clear recordings of Chris I’ve heard yet.

Thankfully, there was also a camera crew on hand to complete the capture for those of us not blessed to be in Philly that night. The multi-camera vid, along with Jeff’s audio puts us all right into the sweat box with ‘em for a huge, hairy, peak n’ valley, knock down and pass out version of Dreaming in the Non-Dream. Its always an argument what a band like this can call a definitive version of a song, but this might be getting pretty damn close. Check out the video below and grab an LP before they’re gone, because its getting close.

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Purling Hiss – “Interstellar Blue”

Over the last couple of years Mike Polizze has favored the short format over the album and its been a good run of chasing his respective pop demons in different directions. Out Tonight tumbled down a JAMC / Suicide spiral, but it beat with a fuzzy pop heart, hungover from his previous albums. The flip covered Spacemen 3 in earnest, letting the influences affix themselves firmly to his sleeves. But Interstellar Blue is a different animal. Its as far out as Polizze’s let himself get in quite a while, chomping the fuzz and fray like a man happy to be back in the plume of amplifier fallout once again. He eases in with “Useful Information,” still toggling on a strum, though it revels in a bigger guitar bite. Its on the next track that he returns to the days of Hiss yore, while pushing the formula forward with vision and clarity. Back when they were slaying for the altar of Hissteria, there was a din that surrounded them, dirty, dirgey, and spectacularly loud. But that loudness came with a price in fidelity. The din threatened to subsume them.

Here they’re back at the altar, laying a six-stringed sacrifice down on the lacquer for the world once more, but this time they’re bringing their dedication to higher-fi along with them. “Ostinato Jam” is pure Hiss, damaged and deranged just the way you like it. The wire-tightened “Naut” is frantic and fuzz-caked and the title track is a dropout boogie of the highest order, sniffing at the cosmos with redline abandon. The band hasn’t sounded this good in a long time and its, admittedly, great to have them back.

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Honey Radar

Wafting like wasp spray on the summer’s breeze, Honey Radar’s Ruby Puff of Dust comes oozing into the pop pool with ill intent. Jason Henn’s Philly outpost has long sum in the wake of Athens’ psych-pop resurgence and they’re presenting one of their most refined visions with this round of twelve crusted twisters. Like a lower-fi Olivia Tremor shorn and shucked of Green Typewriters and write-in dreamscapes, the band reassembles the psych-pop pit of the universe with frayed wires and wood glue. The album’s got a bedrock beat that’s built on The Byrds, The Troggs, and Them, but its all been corroded like wet Kodachrome in the basement. Jangles ring out ,straining to swing wild before a wave of fuzz comes crashing onto their shores obliterating the crystal clear shake n’ shimmy they pine for. The twin-tone twang rattles out of the transistor tubes like a half-formed memory, memorexed and microwaved like shrinky-dink ditties that are always floating just out of reach in the recesses of memory.

That’s not to say the album doesn’t make a hell of an impact, though. The caustic crunch of guitars leaves a fair amount of scars on the ol’ cerebral cortex, jamming in hooks that are barbed and bouncy among the fuzz-bomb flotsam. Henn’s got Pollard’s proficiency with boiling a song down to the elemental necessities and he’s shot this record through to the bone with enough catchy crusters that we’re gonna all need a quarantine before the record is over. It’s been three years since Honey Radar hit the long play market and its damn good to have this melter on the deck, spinning round and round until the night consumes us all.



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Taiwan Housing Project

From its very first beat, the latest LP from Philly’s Taiwan Housing Project is brutal in its sonic assault. Shredding the crumpled remains of No Wave and noise and kicking them wildly around the room, Sub-Language Trust is every bit the equal of the band’s ferocious debut from 2017. Front and center, and impossible to ignore are the air-raid riot vocals from Kilynn Lunsford. She bends phrases until they break, growls from the very sinews of her form, and generally becomes the human embodiment of catharsis. Shit, that’s just track one. She, along with ex-Harry Pussy string-wringer Mark Feehan also manage to sledgehammer their acerbic noise into some rather memorable hooks over the course of the next thirty minutes. Mind you, Taiwan Housing Project don’t mold and press their hooks in forms that gently nod the head and leave you with a vacant smile. No, THP’s brand of hooks siphon the screws from your home, knock down the walls and leave a smoking wreckage of barbed noise-pop smoldering in your lap.

All the better, though, as the band purports on “Buy Buy Buy,” the beige existence you so secretly covet needs a good kick in the clavicle. So, the band extols a new brand of mall pop, one that might incite a little loose looting, one that might turn the screws on the saps in the second floor salon until they exfoliate more than the first or second layer of deadened nerves. The band uses any edge at their disposal to draw blood — bent scraps of guitar meant to lacerate and leave ‘em wanting a second slice, sax-scratch that boils the veneer off your precious ear drums, and a wild tangle of percussion that inspires all manner of disjointed dance. It’s a damn good year for music in 2019, but not a damn soul so far has managed wield the maniacal force that Taiwan Housing Project channels straight to the dopamine depths of your broken mind. The record is an absolute killer and an easy contender for one of 2019’s best slabs to hit the turntable.



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Honey Radar – “Kite Balloons”

Honey Radar is back at it again and things are sounding shaggier and shakier than ever. The first cut off the Philly band’s upcoming Ruby Puff of Dust is a fuzz-soaked swinger, hiding a jangled gem underneath a mountain of corrugated guitar shavings and echoplexed sweat. Though clearly pulling from the Nuggets bench, the band also gives this one a nice late-nineties psych-pop punch, feeling like this might have been a more forceful vision of an Olivia Tremor Control b-side. The record is out June 28th from the Radar’s usual home at What’s Your Rupture. Check out those fuzz licks below.



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