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September 2014
Seagulls
"Great Pine
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With spindly strings horning in the opening instrumental, “Dragoon” awakens Seagulls' debut LP Great Pine, seamlessly transitioning into “Swimmin’,” a song that is initially given a steady-footed beat around which a more intricate and illuminating composition is built generating a peaceful yet purposeful layered sound, setting the tone for what lies ahead. “You and Me” plays like a surf-folk love letter, developing a warm, earnest vocal confession, while fitting nicely with the tug and pull groove of the scratching guitar and persistent bass. The vocal harmonies provide a sweetness accompanied by reserved bursts of trumpet and accordion-like effects offer a tease of nostalgia.
 
“Love, Give” follows a similar theme as vocals, strings, and snap-percussion set a pleasant, pensive, strolling pace as echoing harmonies and backing vocals reinforce, “Love give your hands to me, for someday I’ll be on bended knee.” “Old Habits” maintains an up close lo-fi aesthetic and underlying 8-bit accents, but the perspective has changed, shining a light on the dark side of relationships and a groove that has a somewhat worn and dusty ascetic, enhancing the lyrics meaning - “Old habits, die hard or they never do/so keep lying til they all catch up to you.” A well-placed take on Big Star’s “Thirteen” incorporates the honest-loving sentiments of adolescence, falling neatly inline with the group’s heartfelt vocal honesty, while simultaneously acknowledging one of their potential influences.
 
The record’s title-track “Great Pine” serves as a breath-catching ambiance builder before the turbulent “Holy Smokes” emerges. Enlisting peaks of aggressive kick-in-the-door instrumentation - particularly percussion between smooth stretches of vocally dominant valleys - in essence, layering pieces of clear skies between moments of violent storms.
 
“Distracted” concludes Great Pine with an uplifting blanket of vocals, allowing the guitar to stretch its sea legs as the backend force steers the musical ship; holding the course. This album starts on the shore, and while there are moments where it seems destined to searchingly drift out there, Seagulls appropriately demonstrate an ability to reel it in, taking a beautiful inaugural voyage. - Michael Colavita

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The Deli’s July Album of the Month: Punishment Cookie - Hair Rocket

The Deli’s July Album of the Month: Punishment Cookie - Hair Rocket

The band from the Philly ‘burbs Hair Rocket has taken a Cheap Trick-gone-to-etiquette-school route in their newly released debut LP Punishment Cookie. Out on collective indie label Mountebank Records, the follow-up to 2009’s Novelty EP is an energized collection of greaser punk glam rock power pop. The threesome, whose band is named after the act of launching locks of hair into the sky for a “subversive enlightenment through cathartic art,” has created an album far easier to grasp than their thought-provoking alias. The 11-track recording is downright catchy without compromising the band’s significant sense of distinctiveness. Hair Rocket tactfully lets loose keyed-up rock inspired by the ghosts of 60s mod (as in clap-ridden, Strokes-inspired, pop-hook laden lead single “OK Alright”), 70s punk, 80s pop and 90s cheese…without rubbing your face in it.
 
Opening track “Eyes” takes classically riffed bluesy rock hitting it with heavy low-end blows and gives it a pinch of reggae punk optimism. “Motorcycle” reminisces combat boot punk with a Tokyo Police Club poppiness where harsh, growling vocals and a shrill, distorted electric guitar make for a satisfying hit-worthy track. Yes, Punishment Cookie rocks, but it is also not void of emotion. The song that started Berklee dropout and mastermind Chris Blassucci down this path of enlightenment, “Hair Rocket,” receives a revamping for the album, but still stabs sharply with its hard-earned life lesson from his real life bizarre love triangle (though I admittedly will always favor the original demo version and its strangely sadistic video). “Home” and the early Beatles-esque “Imagining,” which made their debuts on Novelty, also linger with the emotional remnants from that painful but musically productive time period. With Punishment Cookie, Hair Rocket neatly colors outside the lines of indie pop with an eagerly creative but well thought out approach to rocking your socks off. You can purchase the full-length album HERE.
 
You can download the track “Motorcycle” below and come out to their Philly Release Party next Friday, July 8 at Bookspace with Mammal of Paradise, An American Chinese, Meddlesome Bells and Bambara which The Deli will be presenting. - Jules Friedland
 

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