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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. - Michael Colavita

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Album Review: Get Disowned - Hop Along

Album Review: Get Disowned - Hop Along

A simple interwoven electric guitar riff accents rough, acoustic guitar strums, and then singer/songwriter Frances Quinlan’s wispy, lilting vocals enter the equation like a glimpse of sunlight parting the clouds of an overcast sky. Thus, begins Hop Along’s latest full-length album Get Disowned.
 
Opener “Some Grace,” a subtle bare-boned introduction, shares a bit of the fragility and vulnerability that can be found in Quinlan’s lyrics. The song morphs into faint electronic bleeps dissolving into a serene calm. However, the pending storm arises with the following track and the album’s lead single “Tibetan Pop Stars,” which cuts through the tranquility with boisterously dirty power chords and rolling thunder drumbeats. Once again, the vocals seem to play peacemaker, a calming force among the turmoil. That is, until the chorus takes flight, then falls to earth with the repeated lines “nobody deserves you the way that I do,” which gradually rises from the ashes of a broken heart. “No Good Al Joad” is paced by steady downhill bursts of acoustic guitar that is pierced by the interloping hammer of a pickaxe electric guitar. Quinlan’s vocals strain in an effect that expresses the emotive tug and pull of the narrative. This all comes to a head after a brief percussive interlude, which captures the ear signaling for audience participation. She reveals, “You are my favorite, because you are a long shot. You are my enemy, because you forgot.” This is just before pulling back into a corner to protect herself as she gathers the strength to share a bit of philosophical wisdom and universal truth: “Everybody is a little hard to love sometimes.”
 
With the precise production work of Algernon Cadwallader’s Joe Reinhart, Get Disowned is a balance between agitated artillery-style rock with intimate, late night confessional vocals that dig their nails into your skin while simultaneously whispering sweet nothings into your ear. Despite the constant presence of distinctly tenacious guitar thrashes, Quinlan’s lyrical message remains a priority. It is often aided by the fact that the vocals are directed at the listener. In this manner, Hop Along invites us into an emotionally turbulent household leaving no curtains drawn or door locked.
 
You can purchase Get Disowned via Hot Green Records. Hop Along will also be celebrating its release tomorrow night at The First Unitarian with Bandname, Little Big League and Mary Lattimore. - Michael Colavita

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