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The Deli Philly’s June Record of the Month: Active Listening: Night on Earth - Empath

Active Listening: Night on Earth (Get Better Records), the debut full-length album from the quartet of Empath, immerses the listener in a chaotic, cathartic sonic world. The awakening sounds of birds chirping give way to Emily Shanahan and Randall Coon’s assertively warped combination of electro-bass and synth on album opener, “Soft Shape”. Catherine Elicson’s vocals hover between a restrained hushed tone and a more pronounced power. The instruments weave creating a complex yet streamlined sound, before Garrett Koloski’s drumming is unleashed, stepping to the forefront and bashing away towards the song’s conclusion.

Spring-loaded “Pure Intent” toys with tempo, constructing an exuberant, disorienting environment, with brief, calming, vocal moments of respite. Caught up in that whirlwind, everything becomes so hazy; however, after the storm, reassuring keys and softly strummed guitar conceive a serene backdrop, before the abrupt kick-start of “Hanging Out Of Cars,” with its jagged-guitar rev. Joined by bustling percussion and the contrasting, softer key tones, the track blends a rugged, uncompromising approach that is exuded in the blunt, raw force of the guitar-percussion combination. “Where I take you is where I take myself, an empty is left most I ever felt.” Halfway through, the traffic disappears, and the road opens up as a soothing, electro-reverberating clarity emerges.

“Roses That Cry” appears to mesh theories on learning to accept and deal with the present, (“They say everything aging all the time together/As the clutter comes alive, comes in bed, nowhere to hide/Don’t waste your time judging kindness/“We say hell is forever, and what is the cost? Is this it?”), while also expressing optimism and nostalgia (“Are you coming around?/You’d like to, but you don’t know how/Remember when that tree fell on your car”). There’s a sense of hopeful warmth and memory illuminating the song, amid the swirl of noise. A blitzing, brutal instrumental brightness hits on “Rowing”. There’s no slowing down, as the track races with compact precision, appearing ready to fall off the rails, while still maintaining a melodic connection. 

With “Heaven,” there is an impactful interlude into the psyche, as brief thoughts are delivered in a free-flowing manner. “I just want to get to heaven.” Clairvoyant, floating keys form an ethereal atmosphere throughout “IV,” as the rest of the instrumentation provides a more detailed texture. “Decor” marches fantastically forward in an inviting manner. The vocals retain a soft, assuring nature. “Deep down, nothing changes where you’ve been.” The LP returns to form with “Redeo Fever” surging ahead as Elicson sings: “Say a little prayer, the most that I could bear/All I have to glean is the experience.”

Empath’s latest collection of recordings exudes a thoughtful, noise-infused intensity – one that requests an intent ear and rewards the listener in the process. (Photo by Troy Memis) – Michael Colavita





July’s Burger Boogaloo bustin’ a move

This July marks Burger Boogaloo’s 10th year anniversary show and the Boogaloo folks are really busting out a sweet, sweet lineup. As tradition insisted,  the festival is hosted by purity king John Waters and will feature some solid favorites from the homefront and beyond. A small snippet from the two-day bill includes Jesus and Mary Chain, Shannon the Clams, The Scientists, No Bunny, King Tuff and those Australian sweets, The Chats. Speaking of which, we’ll leave you with this mullet and smoko-filled video as a taste and hope to see you at Mosswood Park this July. Smoko, baby. -Michelle Kicherer, Associate Editor





Groupie's "Visceral" is 21st Century Revolution Rock - live at Zone One 6.17

It’s hard not to be bitter in this right wing, late capitalist hellscape that we call waking life. Folks with what is deemed “nonessential employment” (including this beleaguered writer) worry about automation, and the crushing weight of political inertia makes it difficult to take action against the seemingly insurmountable challenges of our time. No one understands that better than Brooklyn garage duo Groupie, who, on their newest EP Validated find a way to contextualize our malaise-ridden zeitgeist over the course of four, fast and loose, fuzzed out tracks. From screaming into the void about an uncertain future on the sinister “5 Year Plan,” to embracing a devil-may-care, burn-it-all-down perspective on closer “Cannibal Wave,” Groupie’s punk-tinged rock is very much of the times, expressing anger not just at the powers that be, but at a society-wide fatigue of resisting a political machine that has rigged the game in its favor. Regardless of the frustration, Validated remains as an authentic discordant representation of a post-2016 mindset, reminding the listener that there is power in anger, that you are not alone in your nihilism, and that rage can be a unifying force in questioning (and hopefully changing) the world we live in.

Groupie will deliver their subversive sound to Elsewhere’s Zone One on Jun 17th, alongside Miss June and THICK. In the meanwhile, you can stream Validated from the comfort of you own home. -Connor Beckett McInerney, Photo by Jeanette D. Moses





New Ylayali Album Available for Streaming & Purchase

Caterpillar Graveyard, the new collection of songs from Ylayali, a.k.a. Francis Lyons (of Free Cake for Every Creature), is now available via Sleeper Records. An intimate openness is met with a fuzz-forward, lo-fi buzz, creating a sense of chaos & tension. Hushed/whispered vocals make one listen intently as the instrumentation illuminates the lyrics. You can catch Ylayali performing this evening, along with Naps and Lesser. For more info, please go HERE.





Zesty punk rockers Top nachos are ready to play Bushwick Public House 06.01

Forget your easy-listening diet; your ears gotta get a load of TOP nachos! The Queens, NY band’s 2018 record Dank Side of the Moon is stuffed with eruptive garage-rock tracks that never let up. The entire LP shows off the duo’s ability to create a zesty sonic experience: relentless drum beats, crunchy guitar riffs, and catchy choruses leave a feel-good aftertaste track after track. Yes, the choruses of songs like “Punk Vacation” (streaming) may seem overly simple at first but boy do they stick with you. The band’s upbeat approach to the hefty fuzz-rock that groups like Truckfighters have championed is what makes them a standout. If you are hungry for a good time, TOP nachos will showcase their delicious sonic dish June 1st at the Bushwick Public House. - Rene Cobar

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