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 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.