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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, March 23 - 25

Weekend Warrior, March 23 - 25

Oh, Dr. Dog, how we've missed you while you were on tour in support of your new album for ANTI-, Be The Void. Sure, you needed to spread around its fantastic, bellowing, melodically mincing 12 tracks, but you were gone for far too long. At least, now we have you back for a little homecoming at the Electric Factory this weekend - a sold out show tomorrow with openers Purling Hiss, who, if you remember, is a total "raging erection of rock 'n' roll," and one on Sunday with openers Birds of Maya (Purling Hiss' Mike Polizze's other lover) who just showers you with their gritty, bones-bare pub sermons. The E Factory will be home to a good ole fashion party this weekend - Philly style. Electric Factory, 421 N. 7th St., SAT. SOLD OUT; SUN, 8:30pm, $23-$25, All Ages - Annamarya Scaccia

 
More to do this weekend…
 
Johnny Brenda’s (1201 N. Frankford Ave.) FRI The Frankford Freeze-out w/Bruce Ice Cream and The Freeze Street Band and Adult Content, SAT Kim Phuc
 
Kung Fu Necktie (1250 N. Front St.) FRI Taggart and Like a Fox, SAT Sweet Lights,
SUN Son Step, Banned Books, Tygerstrype
 
The Level Room (2102 Market St.) SAT (Downstairs) Mean streets, The Line, The High Five, LE Yikes SURF CLUB, SAT (Upstairs) Dysrhythmia, Cleric, Torrential Downpour
 
North Star Bar (2639 Poplar St.) FRI Kensington Sound House, SUN Maniac and Cadaver Dogs
 
The Fire (412 W. Girard Ave.) FRI The Externals, Dagny, Cait Black, SAT Vulcans and Brianna Judge, Sunday (All Ages) Members Only, DRGN King, Dark, Young Pilgrims, SUN Polarbear Lars and Chicken, Alaska
 
M Room (15 W. Girard Ave.) FRI Said the Whale, Gems and Avatarz, The Fallen Troubadours
 
Tin Angel (20 S. 2nd St.) FRI (Early) Laura Cheadle, (Late) Shannon Pelcher, SAT Jeffrey Gaines
 
The Blockley (3801 Chestnut St.) Sat The Coup, LP Stiles, MH The Verb, Voss
 

Fergie’s (1214 Sansom St.) FRI Original Rays and The Donuts
 
World Café Live (3025 Walnut St.) FRI Soulidified, SUN Andrew Lipke
 
The Legendary Dobbs (304 South St.) SAT The Formulary, Black Stars, The Blak Sheep
 
Triumph Brewery (117 Chestnut St.) SAT Cosmic Dust Bunnies and Fikus
 
PhilaMOCA (531 N. 12th St. Philadelphia) FRI Slutever and Little Big League
 
JR's Bar (2327 S. Croskey St.) SAT Penniless Loafers, Velvet Crown, Slutever, thee our fathers
 
Connie’s Ric Rac (1132 S. 9th St.) FRI Hot Jam Factory
 
The El Bar (1356 N. Front St.) SAT Yakbuckets, Faked Raygun, John Pitale Blues Band, Ken Ho Experience, The Smit System
 
The Station (1550 McKean St.) FRI Cisco Jeeters, The Sparklers, St.James and The Apostles
 
The Rotunda (4014 Walnut St.) FRI Resistance Is Fertile: Seeds of Spring, SAT Groupthink, Alpha Wave Movement, Tim Motzer
 
The Trocadero (1003 Arch St.) SUN The Keystone Ska Exchange
 
Theatre of Living Arts (334 South St.) SAT Ground Up and Reef Da Lost Cauze
 
Emoda Gallery (302 Moore St.) FRI Quit Life and Lowlife
 
Highwire Gallery (2040 Frankford Ave.) SAT Northern Valentine and MPSP, SUN Sod House and Travis Woodson
 
Circle of Hope (2009 Frankford Ave.) SAT Many Arms Album Release Show w/Heavy Medical and Color is Luxury
 
Cha-Cha’Razzi (Please contact one of the acts for details.) FRI Attia Taylor, Catnaps, Liz & The Lost Boys, Bike Crash
 
The Treehouse (Please contact one of the acts for details.) FRI W.C. Lindsay EP Release Party w/Cold Fronts, Lucy Stone, Tongue Sculptors
 
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