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Artist of the Month
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July 2016
Spring Onion
"Please Relax
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Catherine Dwyer, also known as the guitarist for the alt-rock outfit Sports, offers fans the perfect soundtrack for summer feelings with the release of her solo EP Please Relax. Recorded under the moniker Spring Onion, her new album is DIY at its best. Mostly written and recorded within the walls of her Philadelphia home, Please Relax is an intimate portrait of yearning, infused with dream-pop nostalgia, heartfelt riffs, and candid poetics.

 

“Egg (Driving Song),” the EP’s opener, unfolds with an Aimee Mann-meets-Girlpool earnestness. Telling the story of a commute clouded by desire, the song is a catchy confessional, with lines like “I'm sorry for what I said and didn't say” and “I'll write songs about my flaws/cause that's a way to self absolve.” The lo-fi grit of Dwyer’s anthem instantly tugs at the heartstrings, transforming even the most jaded listener into a hopeful romantic with each iteration of its fuzzed-out beats.

 

That sentiment is extended on "Chili". Twangy chords are quickly followed by Dwyer’s straightforward but evocative vocals, bringing to mind Built To Spill’s “Carry the Zero” and B-sides by indie darlings like The Babies. The track, although laidback, is unflinchingly sincere, the steady build of its instrumentation, urging its audience to actively listen and exist in the moment. The hissing snare and piano of “Poem 3 (Piano)” cast a similar spell, making each reprise of “but I don’t live alone” a testament to the millennial plight of finding solace in a shared space, while the EP’s title track and atmospheric closer serves as a suitably melodic mantra to calm the anxieties and emotional side effects of living.

 

Despite its brevity, the openness of Please Relax is astonishingly raw and brave. Listening to her songs will remind you that you’re not alone. - Dianca London

 

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Album Review: We’re Here to Help - Notekillers

Album Review: We’re Here to Help - Notekillers

Listening to an instrumental outfit can sometimes seem off-putting. There’s a certain tedium that most fall to - a recurring loop of indistinguishable murmurs, buzzes, and kicks that drone on into oblivion. Really, it can get pretty damn boring if you’re absolutely restless and need some type of vocal interaction - or if you’re just not into musical circle jerks. Fortunately, though, instrumental avant-rock trio the Notekillers fails at the ennui and mundane on their first full-length, We’re Here to Help.
 
We’re Here to Help was over 30 years in the making. The dual-habituating Notekillers (they’re from Philadelphia and Brooklyn) thrashed it out with the superlative no-wave instigators in late ‘70s New York City, only officially dropping the self-released 7-inch, The Zipper. The record unknowingly culled major players as fans for the trio. Sonic Youth’s Thurston Moore cited the Notekillers as a “big influence” for him and others in his evolving music scene in an interview with Mojo Magazine (the trio eventually made an archival release on Moore's Ecstatic Peace! label).
 
We're Here to Help, released on Prophase Music, is both an extension of and break away from The Zipper. Its erratic behavior is more developed, but still has that experimental free-spirit which helped to shape a generation and music genre. There's chaos and there's refinement, zeal and calm. We're Here to Help is a multi-layered and complex album made up of star-burst moments that fly every which way in bright spurts, but there's still a very distinct pattern. While fierce, wild arrangements are always present throughout this nearly 40-minute effort, not every song is a sonic freak-out like the album's definitive track, "Flamenco" - a raucous number where the guitars shred furiously to the point of a high-pitched fever and havoc is unleashed on the skins. "Eyelash" curls to the surf rock mystique that the Notekillers might be best known for, with rumbling guitars and rolling drums powering into a catchy, rhythmic melody, and if this track strikes your fancy, then face-melter "Papers" may have the angular riffs and walls of distortion that are here to help make your day. We're Here to Help proves that the stigma of instrumental rock is something to be defied. - Annamarya Scaccia

Eyelash by Notekillers 

Flamenco by Notekillers 

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