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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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Leather

New Leather Album Available for Streaming & Purchase

Good morning! Did today's snow and chill snap you out of your springtime daydream? Well, throw your middle fingers to the air, and bash the hell outta something to the soundtrack of Leather's lupine new record Easy! The band quietly dropped the nine-track album last week, and the release once again loudly demonstrates why the hardcore four-piece is the real deal from Philly with no need (or desire) for hype. (And Noisey's Dan Ozzi definitely slept on these guys for his half-assed piece about the Philly punk scene.)

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Leather & Residuels Opening for The Oblivians & The Strapping Fieldhands at Underground Arts Oct. 4

Hardcore outfit Leather understands the power of ferocity playing with a raw undeterred one speed-fits all determination that will shake the pillars of Underground Arts tonight and smack you in the face. The unfiltered garage reverb loaded alliance of Moon Women frontman Justin Pittney and Creepoid drummer Pat Troxell known as Residuels will also be on display creating a carnal retro feeling sound filled with raunchy guitar licks a steady-driving backbeat and guttural vocals. They will be setting the stage for the re-formed garage-punk trio The Oblivians and the forefathers of Philly indie rock The Strapping Fieldhands. Underground Arts, 1200 Callowhill St., 8pm, $15, 21+ - Michael Colavita
 

Leather Debuting New Material at KFN Jan. 25

Leather is currently working on a new full-length record that will feature artwork from Philly photographer Matthew Gallagher, whose work you may have come across through releases from the band Nothing. The hardcore four-piece will be debuting material from their forthcoming album tonight at Kung Fu Necktie, and they’ll also be hosting rising Cali rapper and former Leather bandmate Antwon. Opening the evening will be Heathen Reign, which is fronted by Creepoid’s Pat Troxell. Kung Fu Necktie, 1250 N. Front St., 10pm, $10, 21+ - Alexis V.

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Leather Opening for Double Negative at Vox Populi Aug. 31

Leather may only have a handful of punishing-yet-complex recordings to their name, but there's absolutely nothing ephemeral about them and the reputation they've crafted. This Philly band's muscle-bound, crazed-circle-pit-inducing hardcore has been hailed as the heir to the throne left vacant by the Cro-Mags, and they've kept themselves uppermost in the minds of hardcore enthusiasts by staying aloof: tantalizingly doling out as few solid hints about their upcoming album as possible without their more frantic fans beating a path to their door. They're showing up tonight to the sweaty lair in the summertime that is Vox Populi with Raleigh tour-mates Double Negative, who bring with them an unparalleled pedigree (members have played in Erectus Monotone and Polvo), and Long Island's Brain Slug. With a forecast of high temperatures, savage loudness and apeshit windmilling, this show is going to be painful in all the right ways. Vox Populi, 319 N. 11th St. - 3rd Floor, 8pm, $6 - $8, All Ages - Alyssa Greenberg

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