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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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The Spinning Leaves

Lovers League Album Release Show at JB's June 26

Head on over to Johnny Brenda’s this evening to celebrate the debut release and witness the collaborative musical union of Reverend TJ McGlinchey and Dani Mari with Christopher Davis-Shannon and Dean Gorfti completing the quartet known as Lovers League. Melding their vocals, McGlinchey and Mari create a smooth yet earthy, enriching texture with a folk-oriented acoustic country-blues foundation that provides a natural heartfelt penetrating sound on their promising self-titled debut LP. However, the lineup tonight is chock full of excellent local talent. In fact, the Raph Cutrufello-led creative folk collaborative known as Hezekiah Jones will headline the bill, taking the concepts of folk and reshaping them via unexpected, slightly twisted maneuvers, generating an excitement and energy in the process. The Spinning Leaves, whose members share strong ties within the bill, help to make it a family & friends affair. Wilmington-based indie folk-rock five-piece New Sweden, whose latest EP Fabric Room is due out July 15, will kick off the festivities that is presented by the Philadelphia Folksong Society. Johnny Brenda’s, 1201 N. Frankford Ave., 8pm, $10, 21+ - Michael Colavita


The Spinning Leaves 7” Release Party at Underground Arts April 27

For their latest album Head Aglow, the Spinning Leaves recorded with Henry Hirsch (Lenny Kravitz, Madonna) from Waterfront Studios inside a 19th century church in Hudson NY. If you’ve tuned into the bands website over the past few days, then you’ve most likely already streamed the soulful acoustic melodies of their latest 7”, which is being released today on vinyl (digital May 1) by Drexel’s Mad Dragon Records. And when James Michael Baker and Barbara Gettes play at Underground Arts tonight they’ll be backed by the likes of Ross Bellenoit, Jonas Osterle, Phil D’Agostino and an array of special guests. Just 2 months ago Lightninging celebrated the release of their EP in the very same building, so they’ll be right at home when they open the evening. The album release celebration will also feature the latest project from The Weeds' Emily Ana Zeitlyn called Divers and the humorous storytelling of Juliet Hope Wayne. Underground Arts, 1200 Callowhill St., 9pm, $10, All Ages - Bill McThrill

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The Spinning Leaves New 7” Available for Streaming

The Spinning Leaves are releasing a new 7” record entitled Head Aglow on April 27 (digitally May 1) via Mad Dragon Records. You can stream the album HERE. They’ll also be celebrating its release this Friday at Underground Arts with Lightninging, Divers and Juliet Hope Wayne.

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