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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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Norwegian Arms

Spaceship Aloha & Norwegian Arms Opening for Oumar Konate at JB’s May 27

Multi-faceted worldly musician from Mali, Oumar Konate, makes his Philly live performance debut tonight. And he’ll also be joined by a lineup of multi-faceted worldly locals to complement this occasion. When he’s not banging away at the drums for Man Man, Christopher Sean “Pow Pow” Powell is the savvy producer behind Spaceship Aloha. The artist manages to construct a lush blend of vibrant electronic melodies amid a space-age Hawaiian musical landscape. And the end result may have you dancing in a fervor. Whether it’s the ukulele-fueled minimalist approach of Trimming of Hides or the whimsical, melodic use of electronics to round out the sounds on Wolf Like A Stray Dog, Norwegian Arms consistently proves to be an effervescent chameleon of a band. And the fact that they’ll be performing 100% all new material this evening is all the more reason to attend. Johnny Brenda’s, 1201 Frankford Ave., 9pm, $10, 21+ - Bill McThrill


Dream Safari Opening for Norwegian Arms & Snowmine at JB’s Feb. 7

Philly’s own Dream Safari plays an expansive sound that seems to reach to the corners of the earth. The stage name of Chris Coulton, the project specializes in a danceable electro world beat that pulls inspiration from multiple genres. In the past few months, Coulton has called upon various deejays in the area to release a remixed version of his EP, Night Howl, helping to demonstrate the flexibility in his sound. It doesn’t feel calculated, but rather the various disco, jungle-pop layers flow easily into one another, making for a versatility that allowed the “remixes” album to hold up against the original. They’ll be opening for Philly/Brooklyn trio Norwegian Arms, who will be headlining this evening at Johnny Brenda’s. The weirdo-folk outfit allows its surroundings to seep into the music, taking their listeners on a journey with them, from the woods of Siberia to the streets of New York City. Also performing on the bill is Brooklyn-based Snowmine. The group toes the line between dance-worthy and extremely chill ambiance, depending on the listener’s mood. The night promises to be full of spacious and layered sounds, ones that invoke music from various world corners, and will be sure to expand to every corner of the venue. Johnny Brenda’s, 1201 N. Frankford Ave., 9pm, $10, 21+ - Shaylin O’Connell

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Photo Recap: Pattern is Movement 12" Release Show w/The Spinto Band, Norwegian Arms, Worshyper & WYLDSTYLE DJs at Union Transfer

This past Thursday, Pattern is Movement celebrated the release of their 12" "Suckling" b/w "Untitled (How Does It Feel)" at Union Transfer, while continuing to pique our interest in regards to their long-awaited LP that is scheduled to drop in January 2014 via Hometapes. Stacking the bill with talented pals The Spinto Band, Norwegian Arms, Worshyper and the WYLDSTYLE DJs (who brought the 90's dance-pop jams), all were encouraged to shake what their mamas gave them. (BTW: Keep your eyes and ears on Worshyper - sexy, cerebral R&B grooves from the Great Northeast. We sure will.) Check out our photos from the evening HERE! (Photo by Brandi Lukas)


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Photo Recap: Pattern is Movement 12" Release Show w/The Spinto Band, Norwegian Arms, Worshyper & WYLDSTYLE DJs at Union Transfer

- by Brandi Lukas 


Pattern is Movement

 

The Spinto Band

 

Norwegian Arms

 

Worshyper

 

WYLDSTYLE DJs

 

 

 

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Pattern is Movement & Friends at Union Transfer Oct. 24

The truly dynamic duo of Andrew Thiboldeaux and Chris Ward, a.k.a. Pattern is Movement, headline an exceptional evening of Philly-centric musicians tonight at Union Transfer. The 12’’physical release of their new single “Suckling” b/w “Untitled (How Does It Feel) will also be on-hand at UT. With the release of PiM’s yet-to-be-titled new LP scheduled for January 2014, via Hometapes, the group is all but assured to unleash some new material that they’ve been practicing for a live setting. The pair produces multilayered songs that harness the textured interplay of an array of instruments, primarily keys/synth/percussion and vocals, creating an elaborate way to get into the mood for some lovin’. Delaware natives, The Spinto Band, will help to warm things up, bringing their sleek combination of crisp vocal harmonies and airy arrangements, while another intriguing outfit Norwegian Arms cooks up their custom recipe of high-energy weirdo folk. The stacked-vocal, experimental R&B trio of Worshyper round outs this diversely cutting-edge bill. Union Transfer, 1026 Spring Garden St., 8pm, $13, All Ages - Michael Colavita


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