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Artist of the Month
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September 2016
Them Jones
"A Mountain of Nonsense
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Philly rockers Them Jones craft far-out riffs and psych-drenched anthems, reviving and reinventing soundscapes reminiscent of the Age of Aquarius on their new LP A Mountain of Nonsense.

 

Beginning with the steady buzz of “Mended All Made Clean,” the five-piece's efforts make one take notice, as reverbed screams and gritty cymbals collide with satisfying repetition and impassioned diction. As if filling the narrative chasm between Mikal Cronin’s “Gone” and Ty Segall’s “Inside Your Heart,” Them Jones’ album opener sinks deep into the hearts of listeners without pretense or apology. “Hollow Man” captivates in a similar fashion by teaching its audience patience as atmospheric dissonance gives way to melodic guitar and harmonized vocals that paint a glaringly relatable portrait of a man with “wounds to mend.” A deliciously contemplative downer, the track is as haunting as its namesake suggests. Soon after its end, the infectious tempo and throbbing beat of “Outburst” fills the silence, switching the mood of the album from the musings of a contemplative loner to the pulsating heart of an unabashed romantic.

 

The bluesy growl of “One of These Days” casts a spell on its own terms, making the most of initially sparse but precise instrumentation, before blooming into an audible homage to the genre’s predecessors as well as its current greats. Furthered by “Acute Mountain Sickness Blues” and the addictive hook of “Honeytrap,” Them Jones prove that their metaphors are as memorable as their ability to shred. As the album progresses, the dreamy melody of “My Heroine Pretends” suitably precedes the delectable swagger of “Well Enough Alone,” which serves as the perfect prelude for the introspective depth of “Jennifer, My Plastic Girl” and “The Shrinking Violet Light,” which resurrects the candidness of Jay Reatard and the poetic genius of The White Stripes pre-De Stijil.

 

Ending with the delectably menacing “Now I Become Death” and trippy glory of “These Canyons,” A Mountain of Nonsense should be considered quintessential for any music lover. Them Jones’ official debut LP is well-deserving of heavy rotation and adoration. - Dianca London

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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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