Serengeti, Live @ Union Transfer

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This one goes out to my girl Jules. 

If you know David Cohn (stage name Serengeti), you know what I am talking about.  This enigmatic story spinner is a genius by some estimations.  We talked to him.  We definitely support the crazy genius definition.  Serengeti is an artist who certainly cares about his fans and produces copious amounts of amazing output.  Think I am kidding?

Albums

  1. Dirty Flamingo (F5 Records, 2002)
  2. Noodle Arms Whimsy (The Frozen Food Section, 2005)
  3. Gasoline Rainbows (Oarfin, 2006)
  4. Thunder Valley (Audio 8 Recordings, 2006)
  5. Race Trading (Audio 8 Recordings, 2006)
  6. Noticeably Negro (Audio 8 Recordings, 2006)
  7. Dennehy (Bonafyde Recordings, 2006)
  8. Don’t Give Up (Audio 8 Recordings, 2007) (with Polyphonic)
  9. The Boredom of Me (Audio 8 Recordings, 2008) (with Renee-Louise Carafice & Tony Trimm, as Yoome)
  10. Friday Night (Breakfast Records, 2008) (with Hi-Fidel, as Friday Night)
  11. Terradactyl (Anticon, 2009) (with Polyphonic)
  12. Conversations with Kenny / Legacy of Lee (Golden Floyd Records, 2009)
  13. There’s a Situation on the Homefront (Breakfast Records, 2010) (with Hi-Fidel & DJ Koufie, as Tha Grimm Teachaz)
  14. Saturday Night (Breakfast Records, 2010) (with Hi-Fidel, as Friday Night)
  15. Family & Friends (Anticon, 2011)
  16. Shtaad (Blank Records, 2011) (with Sicker Man, as Shtaad)
  17. C.A.R. (Anticon, 2012)
  18. Saal (Graveface Records, 2012) (with Sicker Man, as Shtaad

EPs

  1. Bells and a Floating World (Anticon, 2010) (with Polyphonic)
  2. There’s a Situation on the Homefront EP (Chopped Herring Records, 2011) (with Hi-Fidel & DJ Koufie, as Tha Grimm Teachaz)
  3. Davis (Leaving Records, 2011) (with Matthew David, as Davis)
  4. Beak & Claw (Anticon, 2012) (with Son Lux & Sufjan Stevens, as S / S / S)
  5. Kenny Dennis EP (Anticon, 2012)
  6. C.A.B. (Anticon, TBA)

24 releases since 2002.  On many of these Serengeti spits his verses through alter-egos channeling their thoughts and delivering at a pace to match the character.  These alter-egos have themes which are thoroughly explored in his music. This could be explained in depth – there is plenty of depth to it – but encourage you to explore on your own if interested.

++ Serengeti on Spotify ++

On the 14th of September 2012, Serengeti delivered tracks from C.A.R., Family & Friends, and Dennehy among other albums. Active out of Chicago since 1993, he showed why he has been able to stay around for so long while never substituting quality for gimmicks.  While most of the crowd were uneducated on the talent before them, we knew what it was about and think most everyone that left knowing also.  Check out some of our video below:

[youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2zQQFUoK5YA]

[youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=euGAVs9xxWQ]

Why?, Live @ Union Transfer

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The indie/alternative hip-hop set dispatched one of it’s trophy constituents on a world tour that stopped in Philly on September 14th, 2012.  The group in question was Why?.  Since 1997, Jonathan “Yoni” Wolf has displayed a talent that bends genres to which he is tied.  Traditional hip-hop stylings are put on hold while folk and indie rock textures are substituted in.  This amalgam makes Why? an ideal component of the Anticon record label.

The Philly show was a showcase for Why?’s new album Mumps, Etc. Drawing heavily from this album, Why? illustrated through lyrics the imagery which defines and has defined their tracks.  Touching on some classics and performing with Doseone on a classic cLOUDDEAD track, Why?’s Yoni delivered the performance we all hoped for in a larger venue than he had played in Philly last.  Union Transfer proved to be a great stage for the California based artist as the videos below will surely attest.  Enjoy:

 

Cheers Elephant, Live @ World Cafe Live

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Cheers Elephant is a band capable of fully developing tracks on multiple layers with stand-out vocals and great instrumental harmonies.  It is one thing to be capable but another to execute.  We posit they do just that, execute groovable/rockable/danceable music. Their sound is always engaging and their sets are always a good time.  Doin’ It Right off their 2012 release Like Wind Blows Fire is one of our favorite tracks of the year.  At last count, 93 plays. The obsession with this track started on record store day of this year when we bought one of their albums after their live performance on South Street outside Repo records.

So, this was the third time we have caught them and the first time indoors.  It was also the first time we took video.  Derek Krzywicki, Jordan del Rosario, Travelin’ Mat, and Robert Kingsly round out the talented four piece.  Penning incredibly catchy tracks and putting out music videos in 3D are just parts of Cheers Elephant’s portfolio.  With a new album out this year and many local performances for the hometown band, Cheers Elephant is poised to take larger and larger stages.  Check out some of their music via the player below and pick up their merch:

On this night Cheers Elephant played World Cafe Live Philly downstairs.  You know how good this venue sounds and it was a great place to hear them again.  We caught 6 of their tracks which are all on YouTube for your viewing pleasure:

The Improbables, Live @ Johnny Brenda’s

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This is going to be a short post and for no other reason than this band snuck up on us so fast that we stood trying to put together what we were witnessing.  The Improbables have been playing together for several years now from what we can gather.  They are an AC/Philly combo who’s sound is really good.  Maybe a surprise is misplaced – their Facebook about section simply says “We’re better than your band.”
The four piece consisting of Joe, Kevin, Dave, and Tom delivers a Garage Rock blend with all around talented musicians.  To be honest, the vocals are some of the strongest we’ve heard in awhile.  A huge regret here is only getting one video and not knowing more about them.

We really cannot wait to see them again.  Check out the loneliest one video below and prepare to have your mind blown:

 

El-P, Live @ The Trocadero

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El-P is a brilliant pioneer that explores sound textures and rhythms outside the mainstream hip-hop pallet.  Short for El-Producto, El-P has carved out large swaths of today’s alternative hip-hop movement in a vernacular that is hardly paralleled.   His work can be seen not only in solo projects but in that of the collectives to which he was a member, productio9n and beat-work on the albums of contemporaries,  and the shepherding of the seminal record label Definitive Jux.

++ El-P – Cancer 4 Cure on Spotify ++

On the heels of his new banger Cancer 4 Cure, El-P rolled into Philly from Brooklyn, NYC with Killer Mike in tow and lit up the Trocadero stage with tracks new and old.  We caught8 of them which you can see below:

Lantern, Live @ Kung Fu Necktie

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A Lantern is a device used to illuminate an area desired by the wielder.  On July 11, 2012 the Philly-based rock heavyweights of the same name decided that they wanted to see Fishtown lit up with plain nasty guitar work by both Zach and Emily, bass line trade offs, booming saxophone, hints of harmonica, and steady percussion.  The performance was the first of their summer tour and had the crowd intrinsically hooked.

On the heels of yet another diverse and powerful tape now out of Bathetic Records, Lantern continues to put out fully developed albums in variously intertwined musical dialects. Drawing comparisons would potentially derail clearly seeing the minds that drive the direction of the band for what they are:  immensely talented and original.  This is not half-cocked derivative sound.  We love it and wish concerts were more frequent.  Music needs musicians and sound like this.

I rest my words now and direct you to our videos from the evening below:

Quilt, Live @ Johnny Brenda’s

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Quilt weaves a refreshing psych-folk sound with both laid back and cut loose guitar and drums.  The Boston-based trio joins several projects producing quality throw-back stylings ripe with variation, texture and originality.  John Andrews, Anna Rochinski and Shane Butler have put music out on several of our favorite labels including Mexican Summer and Burger records and perhaps for this reason drew our intense interest initially. Only highly listenable tracks could sustain it.

Playing numerous songs off their late 2011 release, Quilt, as well as new tracks to be on a yet to be releases album, the band put forth a solid first Philly performance.  We wish the time honored tradition of no encores by an opener was ignored.  More tracks would have been welcomed and enjoyed.  As Anna switched back and forth between guitar and organ while providing vocals, John toiled away mesmerizing on the skins and John flowed between solo and beat chiming in on vocals as well, time stood still and we felt lucky to be there.

King Tuff, Live @ Johnny Brenda’s

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King Tuff is a mythical creature that escapes fair definition.  His garage sound is one that is capable of serving as the mind’s soundtrack – that is to say, it can get stuck in your head with relative ease.   Go watch a show and you tell us if you agree.  Highly energetic in his own muted idiom, King Tuff took the stage at Johnny Brenda’s in Philly with Sun Medallion in place (see here if you don’t know what this is).  The rest of the group rounded out the evening’s sound playing tracks from the Was Dead and new self-titled albums with the bulk coming from the latter.

++ King Tuff on Spotify ++

Hailing from the motor city, King Tuff’s former project was in the group Happy Birthday.  He was the lead vocalist there as well.  Kyle Thomas is a talent comparable to Ty Segall, John Dwyer or Jay Reatard.  His song writing and composing efforts are assisted by his distinctive vocal delivery.  Delivering the first recorded material in 2010, King Tuff is putting out through and through solid albums devoid of skippable tracks.  Now on Sub-Pop, formerly on Burger, the King Tuff project is hitting its’ stride.  Check them out and our videos below:

Bass Drum of Death, Live @ Johnny Brenda’s

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Circling in a tight orbit of incendiary sound, Bass Drum of Death alters gravity in the most pleasing of ways for garage rock enthusiasts.  John and Colin create a music of great proportion and interest to those satiated by the genre.  The Mississippi-based BDoD has released their debut LP to positive reviews and we were excited to hear it performed live at JB’s in Philly June 10th, 2012.

++ Bass Drum of Death on Spotify ++

Most every track was covered on the new LP, GB City as was the song White Fright off their tour only DZDR split.  On this evening the band was three strong and the sound was more voluminous from it.  Haunting in their distortion, vocals pierced through the  sludgy electric guitar, bass and drum beat.  BDoD killed it and we are stoked to hear more output from these guys.

Five videos await your viewing pleasure:

DZ Deathrays, Live @ Johnny Brenda’s

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Listening to the DZ Deathrays album as I peck out this review makes me press the keys with extra ferocity.  The whole delivery is a sonic boom at 1,000 feet and their live set exceeded this.  The Australian band took the stage at Johnny Brenda’s in Philadelphia dispatching a dense fog of drum beats, guitar chords, and effortless vocals.  A clear Death From Above 1979 influence permeate some tracks – the comparison is meant to commend the sound DZDR’s delivers as DFA1979 is one of our all time faves.  Their efforts are finally garnering Pitchfork attention at a time when the sirens have already lured in so many.

++ Spotify Link to DZ DEATHRAYS ++

Immaculate execution on numerous tracks off 2012’s Bloodstreams, DZDR’s left us wanting an encore.  Bones rendered in electric garage punk rock, Shane Parsons and Simon Ridley delivered a thrashed first performance in Philly and one that everyone in the room should remember for a time to come.  Dig some videos we took below:

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