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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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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
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With Lithuania, what began as the pairing of Eric Slick (Dr. Dog) and Dominic Angelella (DRGN King) has filled out to a four-piece allowing Slick to stand up and step out front, no longer occupying the kit. With their debut LP Hardcore Friends due out via Lame-O Records this summer and a packed schedule of shows ahead, the band’s catchy punk/grunge sounds are sure to become road-tested. Tonight, they open the final show of Suburban Living’s residency at Bourbon and Branch. Chris Coulton ‘s dance-generating, temperature-elevating electro-pop project Dream Safari bridges the gap to the Wesley Bunch-led headliner, whom expose an emotive integrity amid continuously moving instrumental ground. There will also be a DJ set by Vacationer to top off this evening of local up-and-comers. Bourbon & Branch, 705 N. 2nd St., 8pm, $10, 21+ - Michael Colavita

April 25, 2015
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After a crazy busy SXSW, Marian Hill have been finding themselves in high demand. Selling out shows on both coasts, the dynamic electro-soul team of Jeremy Lloyd and Sam Gongol returns home to another one at Boot & Saddle. However, it will be a short stop in Philly because they’ll be back on stage again tomorrow in LA for JazzReggae Fest. It’s good training wheels for a group that seems like they’ll be crisscrossing around the world at some point in the near future. Boot & Saddle, 1131 S. Broad St., 8pm, $12 (Sold Out), 21+ (Photo by Shervin Lainez) - H.M. Kauffman
 
More places to do your thang this weekend…
 
The Boot & Saddle (1131 S. Broad St.)  SAT The Pretty Greens
 
Johnny Brenda’s (1201 N. Frankford Ave.) SAT Work Drugs, Tutlie, The Chairman Dances
 
Kung Fu Necktie (1250 N. Front St.) FRI Husky Bundles/Wizard Eye, Wally, The Magnificent ShitHawks Of  The Greater Northern Americas/Latex, SAT The Improbables, SUN The Mellowells, Lightninging
 
Union Transfer (1026 Spring Garden St.) SUN Sheer Mag, A.M. Mills
 
Underground Arts (1200 Callowhill St.) FRI Low Cut Connie (Record Release)
 
Bourbon & Branch (705 N. 2nd St.) FRI The Racket Boys, Max Swan SAT Suburban Living, Dream Safari, Lithuania
 
TLA (334 South St.) SUN Jazmine Sullivan
 
World Café Live (3025 Walnut St.)  SUN The Ultrakings
 
The Fire (412 W. Girard Ave.)  FRI PHL Good, Wild By Law, Stella Ruze, Ryan Villanueva, SAT Verbatum Jones, Kenneth Sullivan, SUN Bibi and the Bull, Silver Skies
 
MilkBoy Philly (1100 Chestnut St.) FRI Key Fest: The Lawsuits, Rosu Lup, Dylan Jane, SAT Key Fest: The Bul Bey, Brielle, Jacqueline Constance, Tiani Victoria
 
Ortlieb’s Lounge (847 N. 3rd St.) SAT Edgewise, Dysphoria, Die Choking
 
North Star Bar (2639 Poplar St.) FRI Anjuli Josephine, SAT Thom McCarthy
 
Tin Angel (20 S. 2nd St) FRI Black Horse Motel, Wild Orphan, SAT JD Santo
 
Fergie’s (1214 Sansom St.) FRI Hambone Relay, SAT Jersey Corn Pickers, SUN Rusty Cadillac
 
Connie’s Ric Rac (1132 S. 9th St) FRI Lovers League, Rev TJ McGlinchey, Dani Mari, Christopher Davis-Shannon
 
Frankie Bradley’s (1320 Chancellor St.) FRI York Street Hustle, SAT Song Dogs (Record Release), The Rivals, Can You Canoe
 
The Grape Room (105 Grape St) FRI George O’Brien (CD Release), The Donuts, SAT The Good Mess, Sonogram, Alright Junior
 
Ardmore Music Hall (23 E. Lancaster Ave.) SAT Tommy Conwell & The Young Rumblers
 
Creep Records (1050 N Hancock Street, Suite 76) SAT Amanda X, Mannequin Pussy, Fake Boyfriend, Shannen Moser, Roya Weidman, VVeed VVolf
 
Vox Populi (319 N. 11th St., #3) SAT TAOFEST - Hurry, Ghost Gum, Downies, Horsecops, SUN Fake Boyfriend, Kelley Plante, Dead
 
The Pharmacy (1300 S. 18th St.) SUN Limits, Drowse
 
Eris Temple (602 S. 52nd St.) SAT On the Water, City Scapes
 
Beaumont Warehouse (Please contact one of the acts or venue for more info.) FRI Punx For Pussies Vol. 4: Serpent Throne, Crypt Sermon, Crazy Bull
 
3rd & Girard (Please contact one of the acts or venue for more info.) Abi Reimold, Friendship, TWIIN, Tangiers
 
April 24, 2015
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Recent Featured Artist(s) Poll Winners TWIIN performs this evening at 3rd & Girard on a billing that runs four deep. The garage-punk quartet is off to an excellent start with “Sleepover,” a song whose rumbling bass/drum foundation couples with vocals that have a loosely stretched/drawn out sense yet also hints at rage. The raw outer edge with an underlying intensity plays for a dynamic that will be intriguing to watch blossom. Tonight’s slate also includes Abi Reimold, who also works freely in an emotionally dynamic range. Reimold’s vocals grab hold of ones ear with their natural heartache and strength surrounded by a storm of unguarded instrumentation. The quartet of Tangiers kicks in with lo-fi, melodic indie rock that exhibits flourishes of polish, while still retaining that earnest filter-less approach. Peter Gill’s fuzzy folk outlet Friendship rounds this night into a finished form. 3rd & Girard, (Please contact one of the acts or venue for more info.), 8pm, 21+ - Michael Colavita

April 24, 2015
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Work Drugs continue to roll out tunes from their upcoming album Louisa. Below is its third single entitled "Minor Flaws." It was written "about memories (good and bad), and how we tend to re-imagine them over time, often to our own detriment." The band will be headlining Johnny Brenda's tomorrow night with support from Tutlie and The Chairman Dances.

April 24, 2015
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The Wrecking Crew’s Curly Castro has just released his new LP Restroy & Debuild, produced by Boston's Fakts One. Enlisting the help of fellow crew members as well as Dewey Decibel, Elucid and Tomorrow Kings among others, the album provides its fair share of heavy-hitting, thermostat-raising rhymes, while also reaching for that classic party jam feel at times. So feel free to crank it up, and download it below!

April 23, 2015
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