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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.

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Album Review: Exorcism - Power Animal

Album Review: Exorcism - Power Animal

The words of Power Animal may be obscured by a boatload of studio manipulation, but what they’re communicating is always clear: This is Feel-Good Music. Evident from Power Animal’s major-key synth hooks and disco percussions is a love of the kind of nostalgic sentimentality bands like M83 and Passion Pit maximize with unrelenting waves of keyboard and second-wave British invasion bands like The Kooks channel into plain-spoken love narratives. But unlike these late-aught champions of electronic-indie, Power Animal don’t do “pleasant” by blending every pleasant thing they could think of into an overwhelming pastiche. Instead of indulging dream-pop’s natural affinity for cheese and excess, Power Animal strip it down into the grimy, humble Exorcism, an EP that, with its bare-bones approach and subtle use of hooks, aims to reclaim the genre’s humanity. 
 
There’s no denying that Exorcism presents itself as “quirky.” The jerky keyboard lines and garbled vocals sound as if they’re culled from records warped by years of sitting in an attic (an image also brought to you by the record’s hazy, Mono production), and the wonky structure of its opening suite “Better Water” suggests the hippie-warbling excess Exorcism could’ve easily devolved into. But as the EP progresses, these cracks begin to reveal the sincere, very real character hiding underneath the saccharine signifiers. The little winks that pepper Exorcism’s excellent second half make it practically interactive. “Mold Spores” was already assured its place as the album’s best tune before the chuckle that slips through its second verse makes its glee infectious, as if we’re being let in on whatever great time Power Animal are scoring. By Exorcism’s eponymous closer, we’re sharing the record’s smile.
 
It could be a more “conventionally” pretty record, but it’d be worse for it. This ambitious kind of pop has a tendency to become weightless in its nostalgia-bating, and while Power Animal certainly capture the comfort nostalgia offers, they also capture its insubstantiality. Built from bits and fragments of pop-eras past, Exorcism sounds as if it could break apart at any moment. It holds together, of course, but as music that sounds like it wants to save the world through sheer positivity goes, Exorcism accomplishes something far more impressive: It actually manages to inspire the feelings it evokes.
 
You can purchase the album HERE, and all profits from digital sales will be donated to Philabundance, a local charity organization that provides food to the needy in the Philly area. - Adam Downer
 

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