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Artist of the Month
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May 2015
The Weaks
"Bad Year
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On the heels of last year’s, debut EP The World Is A Terrible Place & I Hate Myself And Want To Die, The Weaks, led by a pair of former Dangerous Ponies Chris Baglivo and Evan Bernard, have released their full-length debut Bad Year via Lame-O Records.
 
The record wastes little time jumpstarting into the aptly titled “Kick It,” with its bass-thudding lines rolling into catchy, emotive power-pop mode, cleansed with a bit of synth before unleashing one of the album’s many blasts of guitar solos. “Nevermind” (an homage to Nirvana) reflectively takes the positive spin on a failed relationship, streamlining percolating instrumentation with stable yet aching vocals. The album’s title-track cracks through melancholy with a lyrical disposition harnessing polished twin guitar licks between trudging percussion-led transitions, destined for fiery flashes of solo prowess. With an aggressive, smashing instrumental storm, “Black Box” takes the ball and runs with its relatable crushing narrative, hooking you in as a silky synth slips in amid the treacherous landscape. 
 
“Dysania” is the cup of coffee that pushes the covers off. With its guitar-led jog, loosening into a bass-charging surge, it quickly reaches maximum speed. Tongue-in-cheek earnest yet humorous lyrical tones – “Too much blood for just two hands/and there’s so much shit we’re gonna need two vans” – set the mood whilst sprinkling in clean flares of guitar, maintaining that downhill thrust. The song contextually blends a pent up instrumental energy and memorable vocals to create a natural anthem feel. Turning a leaf, “I Don’t Wanna Be An Anarchist (Anymore)” melds percussion and synth, delivering a sincere yearning for change with that heart-throbbing, interwoven bass-drum combo, adding a real inside-looking-out perspective. 
 
Strumming acoustic guitar and a spacey synth serve as foils in “Welcome To Earth,” zooming in and then peering out in a battle of loneliness and self-exploration, once again enjoying a creative out there spin on a common searching topic. The closing track is another nod & wink to Nirvana and Hop Along frontwoman, “Francis Quinlan Will Have Her Revenge On Philadelphia,” embracing a snarky attitude with matching (rough around the edges) momentum-gathering guitar meets an avalanche of backend, delivering a mixed emotion-filled message “Who’s going to pull your weight if I leave you behind... Please stay with me. 
 
Bad Year embraces its Weezer power-pop influences, allowing listeners to join in on the emotionally personal ups and downs, while still coming away refreshed. It’s another great find for rising Philly indie label, Lame-O Records. - Michael Colavita

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The Deli Philly’s October Album of the Month: Soft Fall - Sun Airway

The Deli Philly’s October Album of the Month: Soft Fall - Sun Airway

Versailles and French Surrealism are cited as influences for Sun Airway’s sophomore full-length album, Soft Fall. Yeah, pretty much: with lush arrangements and massive textures of sound, Soft Fall, is a giant, gorgeous record decked with chopped-up classical music samples and hooks that envelop the listener. Sun Airway’s all-encompassing sense of maximalism echoes what M83 did last year on Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming, making the familiar, comfortable turns of pop music vibrant and fresh by infusing some reverb and a soothing synth-tone. The result is a record that feels safe - not safe in the sense that it’s dull and afraid to take risks, but safe in the way that home feels safe, in the way you know the roads, the haunts, the people, and intrinsically understand that you’re not in any danger.
 
Yep, we’re in dream-pop territory, and Sun Airway’s Jon Barthmus plays admirably to the genre’s strengths. Guitar and keyboard lines come together like coast and tide - the line definitely there but impossible to define. Governing it all is Barthmus’ smooth, breathy baritone, which is seductive without flair for dramatics. On album highlight “Close,” he sighs “you’ve never known loneliness before/I tried to get close to you,” which sounds pretty glum, but the song itself is practically ecstatic. The work on that is done by breakneck drums, an impressionistic Cure hook and a guitar occasionally squealing gleefully in the background. Barthmus’ understated vocals give the song room to soar, and soar it does; it’s an absolutely killer tune. Instrumental interludes are scattered throughout the LP guiding you to and from other standouts on the record like “Wild Palms” and “Symphony In White No. 2” (that also appeared together last year on the 7” vinyl single that followed the band’s beautiful debut Nocturne of Exploded Crystal Chandelier).
 
As is often the case with dream-pop, the sonic palette that washes melodic lines together eventually extends to the songs themselves, and while Soft Fall is never boring, the distinctions between individual tracks become less and less vital as the album gels into one solid artistic statement, which makes Soft Fall a perfect little record to escape with. It’s a great way to drop menial anxieties for nearly 45 minutes and enter a pleasant state where nothing will frighten you and you’re comfortably safe as can be making any fall more enjoyable as you take in the sights from above. Soft Fall officially drops tomorrow via Dead Oceans. - Adam Downer
 

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