Artist of the Month

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December 2015
The City & I
Colins “Bear’” Regisford’s musical talents can be found dispersed throughout the Philly music community in bands such as Mannequin Pussy, Kids, Ghost Gum, and Albondigas. And with the help of local musically-inclined friends, which also included members of The Spirit of the Beehive and Gunk, what originally started as Bear’s acoustic solo project in 2004 traverses a diverse landscape of genres on his debut EP Downer, recorded under the moniker The City & I.   
Available on cassette via Infinity Cat Recordings, Downer is a record that never settles into one place for too long, jumping from moment to moment at the speed of life. “Bored People” gradually dials you in: “I’ve got no time for excuses, I’ll invest in an illusion…” It lays the groundwork, projecting an intriguing introduction of shadowy, blunted haze.
“Divine Lorraine” shifts the tempo upward into rebellious slacker rock. Pat Conaboy’s fresh kick of percussion propels the song ahead, tying in the slight etchings of distorted guitar to provide a gritty texture, which is reinforced by the lead vocal and polished by the tempering back vocals. It’s a welcomed mesh of the raw and the refined. “Geordie” is encompassed by a calm, shoegazing cloud; however, what first appears clear gathers a turbulent air, sweeping one through a momentary buzzing cyclone before disintegrating into feeble animal whimpers.
Sounds from the city encircle “Tall Girls,” while a guitar-led, emotionally torn and conflicted serenade rings out subtly in the forefront. “Untitled” is a thirty-second noise jam that builds to the title-track through a warping sonic hole. “Downer” is anything but. The instant fervor of grungy instrumentation smacks the song into action, giving the record a spirited, momentous jolt. But “Are You Up” closes by transporting the album to another unique site. This one couples Eastern-sounding keys with an industrial-hammering rhythm and a late-night, burnt-as-fuck-yet-confident emcee delivery. Amid a noisy, chaotic perimeter, it spirals into a joyous exclamatory applause. And we are left wishing and hoping for a secret track, but none ever comes. - 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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