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"Skull Cauldron
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 

Welcome to the new Deli Charts, organized by genre and scene.

To rank the artists with the star system go to the Top 50.


scene blog

Charlottesville indie-punk transplants Left & Right released their full-length 5 Year Plan last year through Infinity Cat's cassette subscription series. The album is slated for a reissue on vinyl via Old Flame Records and War Hen Records. Check out the simple yet adrenaline-filled new music video for the LP's title track below! Left & Right will also be heading out on tour next month with Diarrhea Planet.

April 28, 2015

Krust Toons: "Ziggy Starkrust" by Teddy Hazard - please feel free to drop him a line at teddandthehazards@gmail.com if you dig or have any funny ideas. You can also check out more of his illustrations and animation shorts HERE.

April 27, 2015

Here's some more good news from former Dangerous Ponies members. Thin Lips just shared their debut EP Divorce Year, which will be officially released on May 5 via Seagreen Records. You can now stream the four-track record in its entirety at Brooklyn Vegan, and catch them on tour in the Northeast next month with Hop Along.

April 27, 2015

When Philly's The Weaks, started by former Dangerous Ponies Evan Bernard and Chris Baglivo, first hit the local music scene, they brought along pissed off power pop-punk with charged guitar pedals and accusing lyrics from their four-song EP The World is A Terrible Place and I Hate Myself and I Want to Die. On their latest and first full-length release, Bad Year, they’ve come into a sound that has more of a garage-rock quality, with an appreciated Weezer influence and an obvious Nirvana fascination (with song titles like “Nevermind” and "Frances Quinlan Will Have Her Revenge On Philadelphia"). The record plays with the same kind of dark humor as their debut EP with lines like “so much shit we’re gonna need two fans” (from “Dysania”), but with more of a distinct sound, as the band has evolved into a four-piece. They’ll be celebrating the release of their new LP, available via Lame-O Records, tonight at PhilaMOCA. Also along for the ride will be Three Man Cannon, APE!, and Florida's Buffalo Buffalo. PhilaMOCA, 531 N. 12th St., 8pm, All Ages (Photo by Jessica Flynn) - Emily DiCicco

April 27, 2015

It's Monday, and we could all use something to kick us into gear. Here's a new music video from rjd2 x STS for the track "Hold On, Here We Go" that recently premiered over at Vice. It was directed by Pat Murray, and will appear on the duo's forthcoming album STS x rjd2, due out May 5 via RJ's ELectrical Connections.

April 27, 2015

Because they just couldn't fit everyone who wanted to get rowdy for South Philly outfit Sheer Mag and all-female punk trio Ex Hex at Boot and Saddle, the show has been moved to Union Transfer. If you’ve ever seen Sheer Mag live and felt the infectious energy, the move isn’t a shocker. The group's shows are loud, sweaty, and even lead singer Christina Halladay has been known to be a star in a mosh pit. Their debut 2014 EP 7” and subsequent shows at the Farm and the Golden Tea House have earned them a dedicated fanbase that rarely misses the opportunity to scream lyrics back at them, even during all the chaos. Their second four-track EP II that was released earlier this month rips with the same raw angst that the band is known for, but elevates it with more of those punchy melodies and riffs that can be heard on their debut, like on the catchy, feel-good single, “Fan the Flames,” which they recently shared their first music video for (below). Union Transfer, 1026 Spring Garden St., 8:30, $15, All Ages (Photo by Amanda Hatfield) - Emily DiCicco

April 26, 2015

Which of these local acts should be The Deli Philly's featured artist(s)?

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