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The Deli Philly’s December Record of the Month: Messy - Curtis Cooper

Equal parts confessional and self-veneration, Curtis Cooper’s latest offering begins without a shred of hesitation or apology. Starting off with the full throttle swell of “Freak Out,” Messy unfolds with a satisfying in-your-face bravado. As Cooper croons, “I dare to say that I’m not scared,” screeching riffs, hissing cymbals, and deliberately executed diction amplify the satisfying defiance of survival on your own terms and the intoxicating thrill of reveling in what other’s might consider flaws. A dance-worthy homage to vulnerability, “Freak Out” reminds listeners that it’s okay not to be okay and that sometimes the best way to save yourself is by embracing your inner chaos.

Throughout Messy’s second track, “Philly Jelly,” Cooper channels their inner Billy Corgan circa Machina of God, reviving the best of the grunge era’s zeitgeist. Passion laced with angst and yearning, the song captures the contradiction of being defined by external factors like lovers or hometowns. Through dissonance and sincerity, “Philly Jelly” proves itself to be a perfectly tempered exploration of how proximity can inform desire and a sense of belonging. Prefaced by a whispered countdown, “Crazy” shines a spotlight on Cooper’s softer side. With melodic licks of guitar and proclamations like “I heard your words and I fell for your lines,” the track is as much as it is a love song as it’s an anthem about hero worship. Disillusioned, yet nostalgic, it captures a far too often omitted perspective on romance and remembrance.

“Percs of Life,” prefaced by a calm yet evocative interlude, examines the highs and lows of life with initially sparse instrumentation that gradually blooms into gut-wrenching chords. When Cooper sings, “Time to feel alive again/time to be confined again,” the song, like an ouroboros, turns in on itself, resembling the cyclical nature of mortality implied by its lyricism. “Yeah, No,” a psych-infused melody, feels like a vivid fever dream, enveloping its listener in a brief yet lush soundscape reminiscent of a Devendra Banhart b-side or Brian Jonestown Massacre at their tamest.

With the similarly subtle yet instantaneously catchy “Jkayla,” they pick up the tempo. As the track progresses, it carves out an unpredictable topography of its own. By the time Cooper confesses, “I could have been you/I should have been you,” Messy’s listeners will believe them as if it each word was gospel truth. “Everyone Loves You” is a dark and brooding ballad about the thin line between love and objectification and the ever present promise of escape. Ending with “everyone loves/everyone loves you/everyone stays,” the tune sets the proverbial stage for the equally grim “Everybody’s Dying.” Whether the death in this song is literal or metaphorical, Cooper’s macabre lyrics and heavy riffs continue to echo in the minds of listeners as it eases into the LP’s second interlude.

The album’s closer, “Is It Real,” is a hushed yet existential meditation on love and the meaning of life. Here, Cooper’s fondness for the late great Elliott Smith shows, leaving their audience with a sense of melancholic nostalgia mixed with undertones of hope. Similar to 2016’s Laughing in a Line, Messy is required listening for any Philly native who considers themselves a music lover. Cooper’s anthems aren’t just timely; they’re necessary. (Photo by Abigail Townsend) – Dianca London





No Vacation celebrates release of dreamy EP at Trans-Pecos 12.09

No Vacation appeared seemingly out of nowhere with viral success in the lo-fi community. And then the band disappeared. After some buzz, signing with Topshelf Records, and moving from San Francisco to Brooklyn group has finally returned with a new lineup and EP. Intermission refines the beachy indie rock of the band’s early releases into a hazy and cohesive dream pop statement, matching oozy synths and echoing guitars with sticky melodies and peppy drum beats. No Vacation will celebrate Intermission’s release with a debut New York show on December 9th at Trans-Pecos. – Cameron Carr

 





Gingerlys release self-titled debut album, share first video

Gingerlys' self-titled debut album, out on November 17th, showcases a band delivering on the promise of their earlier work. When we last featured their 7" EP “Jumprope” here on The Deli, we were impressed enough with the group's fast paced indie pop. The new work, however, takes everything a step further in both the songwriting and production departments.  Lead track and first video release “Turtledoves” (streaming below) captures that wistful sense of emotion felt on discovering something new and beautiful.  The pacing is quick, with drums clattering underneath an overall catchy melodiousness created by well orchestrated layers of vocals, guitars and keyboards.  Tasty guitar lines emerge into the mix as the dreamy female vocals pull you into a world where “you were never meant to wander.”  The rising pitch of the vocal melody on key lines “I knew you” and “you choose to” will appeal to big dream pop fans (like us). The full album is available for streaming here. - Dave Cromwell





Alt Pop

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Hartford Rockers Queen Moo Play Great Scott 12.21

 Taking their name from the ruler of a mythical city and filling their songs with as much inventive songwriting sorcery as we can handle, Hartford rockers Queen Moo are a rare rock n roll force. The band's latest album, Mean Well, is an instant classic, with blisteringly dirty guitars, relentlessly catchy hooks, and pitch perfect, understated vocal performances. Combining the blunt emotional punch of emo/punk with elements of classic rock and jazz, Queen Moo is a band you will want to catch on their current tour. Check them out when they hit Great Scott on 12/21 with Prawn, People Like You, and Slingshot Dakota. -Brian Varneke

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