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Artist of the Month
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April 2015
Sandcastle
"Skull Cauldron
"
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Skull Cauldron, Sandcastle’s latest LP, is a sojourn into a dimly lit wilderness. Recorded as a quartet (with the group moving forward without Micah Edwards) at West Philly’s Sex Dungeon, these songs pull you ever deeper into the thick of it with their hauntingly infectious sense of urgency and balance.
 
Album opener, “Atlantis Trance,” percolates as the guitar, bass, and drums tightly co-exist in a relaxed yet spring-loaded groove that is reminiscent to classic Talking Heads, while the quick-paced, tongue-twisting vocals run through a hypnotic, mythical tale. Continuing in a similar vain, “Wolf With No Eyes” is led by a spiraling guitar riff, reinforced with acoustic strums and low end that conjures ups an atmosphere of danger, climbing into the chorus: “Think I’m obsessive compulsive/I think I’ll think myself to death/Need a therapist or an alchemist to toxify my mind I guess.” This subtle searching of mental anguish grabs a hold of the listener, cautiously traversing the exploratory musical terrain. Casually, one slips into “Datura” as Sam Kassel’s secretively whispered vocals gain a foothold amid an up-tempo guitar-percussion combo that runs forward in fits and then lays back before a guitar burst leads you through the finish line.
 
“Wonder Where She Goes” has that catchy, restrained guitar plucking that lays down the foundation of its composition. As Kassel contemplates, “Am I too late for the ghost train? Am I too dumb for another plane?” The song appears on the cusp of breaking loose, but then steps back for a moment, until finally the pressure boils over. “And I can’t find, I can’t find the way/the way she walks when she walks away…”
 
“Evergreen” is a multifaceted tune that initially rides its acoustic guitar riff as Kassel prophesizes, “If I were a knight, I would be the Green Knight, I would be the Green Knight, and you’d be my Green Lady,” before it lands in a full stable of smoldering instrumentation. Then, the song transitions into a higher gear, led by the quickened pace of the guitar running anxiously ahead, while being propelled forward by the bass before falling back to that almost blues-rock zone with the thudding bass invigorating the track into an open-field mad dash. “Pterodactyls” sits in the shadows, marinating in an ominous tone of preparation for battle. It’s a clear yet heart-racing endeavor as bright injections of acoustic guitar serve as glimpses of daybreak.
 
“Medicine Song” creates a stir with its immediate fresh out of the blocks surge, dashing ahead for an abbreviated sprint, tempering off and then throwing caution to the wind when the final stretch is in sight. “Souls” puts the understated spoken vocals to prime use, developing a ghostly creeping self-aware vibe as the instruments tightly pulse around the unrelenting bass. The song takes turns jolting forward while refueling with reflective cool-down breaks as the song deals with the distance game of a relationship. “Yeah, sometimes she goes far away/Sometimes I get in her face/Yeah, even though we’re jaded/I still wanna play the game.”
 
The final chapter of the record, the adventurously forest-wandering instrumental “Drink Deep of the Skull Cauldron,” quixotically bookends the album. It’s an intoxicating concoction as Sandcastle marches forward as a four-piece beyond the menacing tree line. - Michael Colavita 

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scene blog

Weekend Warrior, February 15 - 17

Weekend Warrior, February 15 - 17

Back at it again with their brand of fuzz-driven sludge-punk, Pissed Jeans continue with their common thread of self-depreciation that has placed them somewhat on the more cynical end of the spectrum than their Sub Pop counterparts the Postal Service. Sure, they’ve grown up a bit since 2009’s King of Jeans, but the spirit of the disenfranchised can still be heard in frontman Matt Korvette’s bellowing howls. Does maturation mean they’ve gone soft? No. Not in the least. The new album Honeys is proof that maturity isn’t always industry code for a leveling of intensity. Accompanying the familiarity of lamenting screams, the thunderous sound battle of bass versus guitar versus drums remains in tandem. Be sure that you’re a part of the fanfare for the King’s return tonight to celebrate their new release at Underground Arts with support from decibel-pushing brethrens Leather and Lantern. Underground Arts, 1200 Callowhill St., 9pm, $14, 21+ - Ed Newton

 
So many options this weekend and here are more…
 
Underground Arts (1200 Callowhill St.) SAT Ben O'Neill, Shark Tape
 
Johnny Brenda’s (1201 N. Frankford Ave.) FRI West Philadelphia Orchestra, SAT Language Problem, Alec Ounsworth, The Spinto Band, SUN Far-Out Fangtooth, Hound
 
Kung Fu Necktie (1250 N. Front St.) FRI (Downstairs) Toy Soldiers, August John Lutz II, (Upstairs) Great Red Spots, SAT Creem Circus, Arctic Splash, SUN Great Thunder, Nona
 
PhilaMOCA (531 N. 12th St. Philadelphia) FRI Birds of Maya, Profligate, SUN Carerra Shante Release Party
 
Union Transfer (1026 Spring Garden St.) FRI OCD: Moosh & Twist, SAT Title Fight
 
MilkBoy Philly (1100 Chestnut St.) SAT Cold Roses, Dressed Like Stolen Cars, The Rivals
 
North Star Bar (2639 Poplar St.) FRI John Francis, SAT Hoser, Nocholas Piccari, Folly Fields
 
The Fire (412 W. Girard Ave.) FRI Reef The Lost Cause, Rone, Chalk & The Beige Americans, SammyDimes, Jahn Q. Publaq, Blok Nero, SAT The Extraordinaires, Conversations With Enemies, Anjuli Josephine, Tinmouth, OhBree, SUN Smoother, Cayetana, Modern Baseball, Marietta
 
Ortlieb’s Lounge (847 N. 3rd St.) FRI Gin Canaries, SUN Cherokee Red, Bridge Underwater
 
M Room (15 W. Girard Ave.) SAT Left of Logic, Pterofractyl, Hippie Cult
 
Tin Angel (20 S. 2nd St.) SAT Ben Arnold, SUN Suzie Brown
 
The Trocadero (1003 Arch St.) FRI Bakery Boys, D. Louie, OG Cano, Myke Kewl, De'KO, SAT (All Ages) Chaos, BloodLine, Homecoming Heroes, Every Other Day, Tenth Amendment, (All Ages) FBR, Stealth Squad, Ashes of Our Sins, The Indefatigables, Post Departure, Phatboy, Making-Out With Medusa, SUN Richie Shock, DR3W
 
The Blockley (3801 Chestnut St.) FRI Chill Moody, Hank McCoy, Beano
 
Fergie’s (1214 Sansom St.) FRI (Early) John Train, (Late) Marc Silver & The Stonethrowers, SAT Sylvia Platypus, SUN Rusty Cadillac
 
World Café Live (3025 Walnut St.) FRI Jesse Ruben, SAT Winter Doldrums Folk Fest w/Brittany Ann, Elizabeth Pugh, The Pretty Dittys, Murchant (Annachristie Sadler), Brian Flannagan, & More, SUN 2nd Annual Tri-State Indie Music Awards w/Cold Fronts, Levee Drivers, Nicos Gun, Pre-party w/Aaron Brown, Cheers Elephant, The Lawsuits, Kuf Knotz
 
The Legendary Dobbs (304 South St.) FRI Murph, Zymotic Flow, Ominous Ominous Ominous, Nomad Clientele, Zer0, SAT Soraia, The Jackson Rider, SUN C Stylez
 
Rebel Rock Bar (100 Spring Garden St.) FRI Live Not On Evil, The Terribles, Noid
 
Triumph Brewery (117 Chestnut St.) FRI The Raggamuffins, SAT Dancing Days, SUN Antique Matter
 
JR's Bar (2327 S. Croskey St.) SAT Angelcrust, Castle Freak
 
Connie’s Ric Rac (1132 S. 9th St.) FRI Ghost of Jupiter, Russian Arm Candy, SAT Smacking Madison, Rail
 
The Barbary (951 N. Frankford St.) SUN Baa Ram Ewe
 
Field House (1150 Filbert St.) FRI Thee, Idea Men, On the Water
 
The Grape Room (105 Grape St.) FRI Matt McAndrew, Keystoned, Garce Bernicker, SAT Easy Three & The Funky T., The Rising Sons, Token Prospects, Mike Liberatore
 
Eris Temple Arts (602 S. 52nd St.) FRI Avataria, Tic-Tac-Oh, Kate Ferencz
 
Golden Tea Haus (Please contact one of the acts or the venue for more details.) FRI Jet Set Sail, Hurry
 
The Farm (Please contact one of the acts or the venue for more details.) SAT The Brood, No Stayer
 
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