Posted on • Posted in UPCOMING SHOWS, Venue


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How do you maintain your cool when you’re on the verge of blowing up? Take the Cheerleader approach; hide your swagger under the guise of hazy indie pop. After releasing their luminous debut album The Sunshine of Your Youth, Cheerleader finds themselves basking in the sunrise of their stardom (don’t worry, they have Ray-Bans).  The band is poised for a strong 2016.  Let’s trace their growth from the beginning, shall we?

 

As with many great tales of music and adolescence, Cheerleader began with Chris Duran, Joe Haller and a Connecticut basement. Although college commitments forced a separation of Haller and Duran, they reconnected post-graduation to pursue music. Their early sound was crafted through shared inspiration from The Beatles and The Beach Boys. The name Cheerleader was coined when a friend told Haller and Duran that they hyped each other up like cheerleaders (much to my dismay, I was hoping for some real cheerleading experience). The duo relocated to Philadelphia after hearing about the thriving music scene, and the first homemade Cheerleader demos were born in their apartment.

 

    These original Cheerleader demos materialized in mid-2013. They received instant praise from music monolith NME, among a myriad of other music blogs. Simply named “Cheerleader Demos“, these recordings are a gritty yet sparkling expression of pop inclinations. Glimpses of leftist genres peek innocuously, like shoegaze in the shimmery guitars on “New Daze”, and the thumping, new-wavey drums on “Do What You Want”.

 

Since their initial recordings, Cheerleader has taken off like a rocket. They earned spots at CMJ and SXSW, sharing the stage with Alvvays and Charli XCX. They also recorded studio sessions with WXPN and Daytrotter.

 

    In summer 2015, Cheerleader released their breakout album “The Sunshine of Your Youth”, eclipsing the potential that blogs and fans alike saw in their demos. The album was released on Bright Antenna Records next to notable labelmates The Wombats. All three demos were used for the record alongside seven new tracks. “The Sunshine of Your Youth” is a bastion of indie pop acclaim. Healthy servings of glittery guitars, synthetic drums, and illusory synths come together in this electronica jambalaya. After listening to the album, it’s hard to think of anything but an impromptu summer road trip. “The Sunshine of Your Youth” would fit comfortably on the record shelf next to a Phoenix’s “Bankrupt!” and Foster the People’s sensational “Torches”. The album balances pleasant boldness against dreaminess in a tip-toe fugue. “The Sunshine of Your Youth” is a 2015 year end list maker, for sure.

 

    Since the release, Cheerleader has kept busy. Appearing at Firefly Festival and touring with The Wombats were certainly major highlights. They also released a video for “A Million Ways” which chronicles a summer adventure of young adults wandering the train tracks at the Reading Viaduct. Next up for Cheerleader is a super intimate show at Bourbon and Branch on February 12th. They’ll be joined by Surf Rock is Dead, and Suburban Living, a personal favorite of mine that I’ve interviewed in the past.

 

    Thank Joe Haller from Cheerleader for emailing me back, because now you’ll know their opinions on Cheerbleeders, Jack White, and The Jaminator.

 

ALEXANDER PIRRO: Cheerleader has been quiet since the beginning of 2016.  We’re anxiously awaiting something new. What’s in the works?

 

CHEERLEADER: We’re working on writing a new album, currently. We like to take our time, so it will probably be in the works for a while. Other than that, we’re lining up some more tour dates as we start to approach the warmer months.

 

AP: What was the concept/inspiration behind “The Sunshine of Your Youth” video?

 

C: I guess the general idea was nostalgia, particularly concerning growing up/childhood. I’m not sure whether or not we really captured these sentiments with the video, but I hope they came across.

AP: Your Spotify playlist is all over the place (in the best way possible). What are some of your favorite offbeat album choices during long drives on tour?

 

C: The Spotify playlist is all over the place because each member of the band comes from a pretty different place in terms of musical history/influence. Offbeat or strange albums? Hmm, I’m not sure that I can think of anything that came out recently… I guess Can “Tago Mago”, Animal Collective “Sung Tongs”,  Brian Eno “Here Come the Warm Jets”,  The Unicorns “Who Will Cut our Hair When We’re Gone?”,  The Microphones “The Glow Pt. II”,  Caetano Veloso self titled 1967 album, and The Feelies “Crazy Rhythms”. I don’t know if these are weird or off-beat, or that I am currently listening to any of them, but they’re all good records and coming to mind right now.

 

AP: What are some of your hobbies outside of music?

 

C: I know a lot of us like to exercise. Chris and I like to cook. I’m into wine and liquor for sure. We like outdoor adventures. Hanging with friends and family. Good movies. The usual.

 

AP: Cheerleader has shared the stage with a bunch of killer bands including Civil Twilight, Alvvays, The Hold Steady. Which bands made a lasting impression?

 

C: All of us we’re particularly impressed with The Wombats skill as a performers. They sounded great, and looked great too.

 

AP: Jack White played a similar Airline Guitar in his White Stripes days (more specifically a red JB Hutto Montgomery Ward 1964 Airline, here’s a pic for proof). Any story behind your unique Airline guitar?

 

C: Yeah, I realized that Jack White played a similar guitar only after I purchased my own. Great company to be in though! I think I really just wanted a quality guitar that was unique – not just another jazzmaster or tele or SG or whatever.

 

AP: While stalking your Instagram, I noticed a picture of young Chris Duran playing a Jaminator. Not knowing what it was I looked up a video, and holy shit it’s amazing. How long did you play the Jaminator before switching to electric guitar, and you still have it?

 

C: Chris was pretty young in that photo, so I think his memory may be a little fuzzy. He remembers using the beats function of it more than the actual guitar feature. But who knows, maybe the jaminator will make an appearance on our next record!

 

AP: Are you aware of the Philly band Cheerbleeders? Do you think you could hold your own against them in an actual cheerleading contest?

 

C: Naw, they’d definitely have us beat on that front. Would be totally down to play with them though!




Posted on • Posted in UPCOMING SHOWS


Upon first listen, Honey Radar sounds like a 78 rpm single pulled from a dusty record bin. The fidelity is startling, but as your ears grow accustomed to cassette-hiss and radio interruptions, musicality emerges and nostalgia sets in. Honey Radar reinvigorates the spirit of sixties lo-fi. With fifteen releases under their belt, the band’s dedication goes without question. Prolific, full of character, and catchy – Honey Radar makes the bizarre approachable.

Among an endless string of eccentric releases, Honey Radar approaches their latest release “The Rabbit’s Voice” with a baroque pop twist. This 7 track EP stops after only seven minutes, leaving no room for filler. The recording bears a sound only tape can achieve. Each instrument is presented with an aggressive dose of saturation. Casual vocals are energized by brazen guitars. In Stand-out track “Per Schooner Agro”, a sunny pop groove meanders through layers of distortion and noise. Overall, the EP recalls pop tendencies of The Zombies while stylistically on par with the Allah-Las and early Black Keys.

For “The Rabbit’s Voice”, Honey Radar eschewed traditional vinyl production methods in favor of something more genuine – lathe cutting. Vinyl records are typically produced by squishing a hot ball of wax between two master plates (kind of like a big waffle iron). This is why a record release is called a “pressing”.  It’s a consistent process that yields high quality results, and it’s great for mass production. Lathe cutting, however, is better for small vinyl releases. A vibrating stylus cuts a groove directly into the vinyl. This process happens in real time – a 7 minute record takes 7 minutes to cut.  While time consuming, lathe cutting is cheaper because there’s no need for expensive master plates. Honey Radar took advantage of lathe cutting to enhance their lo-fi aesthetic, while simultaneously creating demand through scarcity. Since the first edition of “The Rabbit’s Voice” sold out immediately, What’s Your Rupture Records has picked up the EP for widespread release.

Honey Radar returns to B&B tonight, along with Roof Doctor and Crown Larks. Doors open at 8pm.




Posted on • Posted in UPCOMING SHOWS


Sometimes two people are so perfect for each other, it’s as if they were destined to meet. The stars were aligned when Reverend TJ McGlinchey met Dani Mari in Media, Pennsylvania many years ago.  This fateful meeting brought Lover’s League into the world.

Dani Mari is no rookie musician; she’s played for thousands at SXSW and Philadelphia Folk Fest. She has also toured with acts such as Patti Smith and The Carolina Chocolate Drops. Her extenstive solo work ranges from traditional western tunes to punchy electronica. Enter Reverend TJ McGlinchey; a Philadelphia native as uncompromising in his career as his folksy-blues mantras. The Lover’s League philosophy is this: If one songwriter is good, then two must be better. The resulting body of work is varied and dynamic. Dean Gorfti and Christopher Davis-Shannon complete the lineup on drums and upright bass respectively.

Lover’s League continues to build on each member’s formative solo years with their most recent effort “2”. This EP splits right down the middle – three songs were written by McGlinchey (Darling, Jealousy, I Need to Know) and three by Mari (Gold, Hide and Seek, Overboard). The only rogue track is a lighthearted cover of Huey Lewis and the News’ “Hip to be Square”. Their “folk duet” style embodies the commanding vocal might of The Civil Wars, yet their lackadaisical vocal delivery recalls The Weepies. Their sound is a crossroads of country blues and folk pop. Slide guitars, banjos, and accordions freely interchange on each track. The aura is sincere, but also cozy. The duo’s songwriting prowess pairs well with producer Bill Moriarty’s knack for folk-transcending releases (Dr. Dog, Man Man, The Districts).

Lover’s League also illustrates folk sensibilities with old-timey music videos. For “2”, the group released videos for Hide and Seek and “Hip To Be Square. In Hide and Seek”, a jaded narrator ponders innocence. The video depicts children running playfully from worried adults, perhaps a nod to fleeting youth. “Hip To Be Square” is an unorthodox cover that also evokes symbolism. The original theme of “Hip To Be Square” follows the transition of ‘60s hippies to ‘80s yuppies. Lover’s League uses black and white television commercials to explore the song’s roots in consumerism. The irony of Lover’s League version of Hip to Be Square” is it’s folk style, trading in flashy production for simple instrumentation. The final product is an intelligent juxtaposition, bringing new meaning to an old tune.

Lover’s League, decker, Orion Freeman, and Lara Ruggles play B&B on October 9th. Doors are at 8 PM, music is at 9 PM.




Posted on • Posted in INTERVIEWS


Sometimes it’s difficult to wake up from the perfect dream. So why wake up? Draw your mind’s curtains and slip into a constant daydream with Suburban Living. This bedroom project-turned-band pushes pop to its most ethereal forms. Abundant with hypnotic guitar melodies and luxurious textures, Suburban Living’s full-bodied sound is mesmerizing. Yet despite its presentation, the band’s origin is surprisingly simple: a bedroom, a drum machine, and Wesley Bunch.

Bunch began writing and producing music while enrolled in a Virginia community college. The resulting EP titled “Cooper’s Dream would eventually catalyze the existence of Suburban Living. (Fun fact: the average dream lasts 5 to 45 minutes. This dream lasts a blissful 15.) Bunch wasted no time by releasing “Cooper’s Dream a month after graduation. Comparisons to ‘80s pop production are irresistible. The EP boasts thumping drum machines, reverb-soaked guitars, and ambient synths. Bunch repurposes ‘80s sounds to fit contemporary arrangements, although his genuine artistry outshines trendy production techniques. Skillful guitar lines accompany sensuous vocals. The resulting sound is substantial, with deep dreamy vibes.

In 2013 Bunch started experimenting with samples, styles, and songwriting. These experiments became a 7” titled “Always Eyes, which serves as evidence of a slow transition from solo project to band. “Always Eyes builds upon “Cooper’s Dreamwith prolific use of synths and live drums. Bunch’s nostalgic motifs melt into serious tones.

This year Suburban Living teamed up with NYC-based independent label PaperCup Music to release a self-titled full-length album. The release has a definitive “full band” sound, distancing itself from solo project beginnings. Slight impressions of DIIV and Wild Nothing come to mind, although the most obvious comparison is to an ‘80s movie soundtrack. In a way, this record can be consumed as a personal soundtrack. The lyrics outline romantic subplots that are both poignant and relatable. Bunch finds a way to mix real emotion into danceable dream pop songs.

Bunch is currently working with producer Jeff Zeigler (Nothing, Sunny Day in Glasgow, and The War on Drugs). This partnership will be showcased in a highly anticipated batch of new material. We caught up with Wesley Bunch about Suburban Living, along with other important issues like Drake, Twin Peaks, and NASCAR.

ALEX PIRRO: Suburban Living is a great band name. It implies tongue-in-cheek wholesomeness – was this an intentional reflection of your music?

WESLEY BUNCH: Thanks! When I first started Suburban Living, I was living in the suburbs of Virginia Beach and that’s where the name came from. I wanted to kinda poke fun at “the ‘burbs” with the name, because I totally don’t identify with that culture & have no desire to live there, especially after moving to Philadelphia.

ALEX: Who do you think are the most influential dream pop artists?

BUNCH:  It’s a pretty obvious answer, but The Cure really did change it all. Even their non-dreamy stuff from the late 70s was totally rad. Robert Smith hardly ever used his chorus pedal early in their career. That shit ruled. Cocteau Twins killed it too. So many good bands.

ALEX: In reference to Suburban Living’s sound, what musical comparisons do you enjoy hearing?

BUNCH: A lot of people were comparing Suburban Livingto darkwave post-punk bands and that was cool, because I didn’t think the record was that gritty sounding. I definitely wanted to write a “dark” sounding record, but I must of overdone it a little without thinking haha. Oh well, I’ll take it.

ALEX: Since you DJ around Philly a lot, what are your go-to dance tracks?

BUNCH: Can’t reveal all my secret weapons but here’s a few:

Nu Shooz – “I Can’t Wait”

Eve & Gwen Stefani – “Lemme Blow Ya Mind”

The Knack – “My Sharona” ← (surprisingly goes over really well every time)

ALEX: What is the oddest gig you have ever played?

BUNCH: A few years ago we were on tour and some awesome friends offered us a last minute house show in this college town, so I thought “why not?” Turned out this was a frat house fundraiser show where all the door money was being donated to the “throwing-raging-parties fund”. Almost all the bands playing that night were living at the frat house, but I just kinda sucked up the weird vibes and played. To make a long story short, these drunk frat dudes wanted to use our drum set and I wasn’t comfortable with it (again, they were super drunk and hostile). They proceeded to get in my face and threatened to beat us up after I declined. I remember we were all running up basement steps with gear trying to get the fuck out of there as fast as we could. One of them called me a “Rick Moranis looking motherfucker”. So funny. I wasn’t even insulted, Rick Moranis is a super handsome dude. Good times.

ALEX: Who is your favorite Philly band of right now?

BUNCH: Aw man, this is the hardest question on here. I really, really dig Myrrias. Lithuania just put out a really great EP and their live shows rule. Ugh, so many rad bands.

ALEX: How does it feel to work with Jeff Zeigler (Nothing, A Sunny Day in Glasgow, The War on Drugs) on your new tracks?

BUNCH: It’s been pretty incredible. Jeff and I have a similar taste in music so he really understands what sound Suburban Living is going for which streamlines the recording process. We’ll finish a session and be amazed at how much we got done in a certain amount of time. When I told some of my Philly friends that we were recording with Jeff, the common response was “Oh yeah that makes total sense, Jeff is perfect for you guys”.

ALEX: What was the inspiration behind the video for New Strings? The video seems like a bad trip. (P.S. The death cake was a nice touch)

BUNCH: Haha! Thanks! It was this collaboration between myself and my friend Arielle Green, who went to school in New York City.  She found the location and we bounced ideas back and forth. When it comes to music videos, I like to get really weird and pull images from dreams or things I see and find interesting. I think she just took some of my ideas and amplified them by 100.

ALEX: What role did Twin Peaks play in the writing of the “Cooper’s Dream” EP?

BUNCH: Very little. There’s nothing lyrically about Twin Peaks on that EP, haha. It was just something I had on in the background as I was writing. It created more of a vibe than a skeleton. I honestly didn’t know what to call the EP or the title track, so while brainstorming I thought: “I’ve literally had Twin Peaks on in the background while recording demos for all these songs”. I looked at one of the episodes and it was “Cooper’s Dream” so that just kinda stuck. It’s a hat tip to the show. Now there’s bands like, making Twin Peaks themed records and sometimes Suburban Living gets lumped in. It’s a total misconception.

ALEX: If you could rewrite a score of a Brat Pack film, which one would it be?

BUNCH: The Breakfast Club. Predictable, but come on. That movie rules.

ALEX: What is the biggest “Philadelphia stereotype” that you have seen in person?

BUNCH: How intense Eagles fans are. Before moving here people would tell me “watch out for the Eagles fans, they’re super intense.” I had my windows open during a game last year and heard so many different houses next to me yelling at their TVs. It also feels like the whole attitude of the people in the city changes based on if they’re doing well or not. It’s wild.

ALEX: The Meek Mill vs. Drake beef has heated up recently, and on May 22nd you tweeted “who’s tryna have an indie rock beef with Suburban Living”…do you think you could hold your own against Drake?

BUNCH: This question rules. After seeing how Meek kinda got ripped apart, I don’t know if I could hold my own in a beef with Drake. I’m a Virgo and super passive. Oh well, maybe one day someone will come at us. That’d be tight.

ALEX: Are you a fan of NASCAR? How was visiting Charlotte Motor Speedway?

BUNCH: I love going to the races, but I don’t really watch it on TV. I went to Charlotte Motor Speedway because my dad and brother are big NASCAR fans and they were celebrating my brother’s birthday. My good friend from Virginia gets really into it as well. I’m just gonna say – don’t knock it till you try it. Everyone is super chill and just drinks beer all day and fake argues about what driver is better. No one really stereotypes anyone cause my style is the complete opposite of a NASCAR fan’s style & I had no problem making new friends. I guarantee more confrontation happens at Coachella than a NASCAR race.

 

Suburban Living will be playing one of the chillest shows in Philadelphia on October 15th with Eternal Summers and Mercury Girls. Doors are at 8 PM and bands are at 9 PM. Come chill out.




Posted on • Posted in UPCOMING SHOWS


It’s the dog days of summer. Crank your ACs high, and crank Cousin Brian even higher. These twee-punkers are another wholesome addition to the Philadelphia DIY scene. Formed in 2010, the band has conquered basements and houses alike. Imagine The Smiths on antidepressants, but with an aggressive twist a la Cloud Nothings. They embody the essence of college pop: twangy riffs, punchy drums, and DIY ethos. Cousin Brian wants nothing more than a good time.

 

Closer to Dog” marks Cousin Brian’s sophomore effort. Released via Bandcamp, the album is DIY front to back. It was self-recorded and self-mastered. Guitarist Elliot Bech illustrated the album art. The album exudes carefree summer optimism through honest, youthful energy. Dancing turns to moshing as upbeat melodies interchange with vigorous strumming. “Closer to Dog” is currently available online, but a vinyl release lies in the future.

 

Earlier this year, Cousin Brian also released an animated music video for “Disposer” off their debut LP “First”. The video is a homemade shape shifting animation sequence – humans wildly morph into animals and vice versa. Maintaining the DIY spirit, Bech animated and produced the video himself. He continues to explore various entrepreneurial adventures through his company Stupid Moon.

 

Dance your ass off with Cousin Brian, Bent Shapes, Piranha, and Sun Hat at Bourbon and Branch on August 22nd, 2015. Doors are at 8 PM, bands start at 9 PM.