Milo Releases New Single, New Album Coming Soon

sothefliesdontcomeMilwaukee-based rapper Rory Ferreira dropped a new track, “Zen Scientist ft Myka 9,” under his Milo moniker yesterday. The single, opening with a distracted musing of misconceptions, quickly jumps into Ferreira’s distinctly chill rap-speak flow, utilizing a precise lexicon over a dreamy back-beat. A soulful drop-in from Myka 9 adds to the mystic relaxation before Milo takes the reins for a tight verse, weaving into another surreal, well timed instrumental break. Ferreira’s pop-culture-checking wordplay comes to an end with him “decid[ing] in good faith to let [his] soul fly,” shouting out his brethren in the movement.

It’s an awesome introduction to Milo’s new full-length So the Flies Don’t Come, scheduled for release on September 25. Featuring guest spots from noted collaborators Hemlock Ernst, Elucid, Mike Eagle and Echo Tree, this is a bit of a return to origins for Ferreira; his first Milo album since 2013’s Cavalcade. Prior to that came 2012’s Milo Takes Baths and the incredible 2011 debut I Wish My Brother Rob Was Here. It seemed as if Scallops Hotel – 2013’s Poplar Grove (or How to Rap with a Hammer) and this past May’s Plain Speaking, both phenomenal projects in their own right – was Ferreira’s main focus for a stretch. Following that break, it will be pretty exciting to see what’s been up with Milo, and where he’s going with the auditory nom de plume.

Milwaukee’s Ruby Yacht will put out the “vainglorious! pink-on-pink-on-pink” cassette version of So the Flies Don’t Come. If previous Ferreira releases are any indication, the 300 limited copies will sell out quick, so get one soon. Look out for a full analysis from The Kinetic Pulse once the album officially drops in just a few (agonizing) weeks.

Interpol @ Penn’s Landing River Stage (07/25/2015)

interpol1Coming upon the final stretch of the El Pintor American Tour, one could understand if indie icons Interpol would be worn out by a hectic schedule through a scorching summer. But their appearance at Penn’s Landing’s River Stage – a last-minute change due to “unexpected site maintenance at Festival Pier” (Ticketmaster) – proved the polar opposite. Highlights from El Pintor were sprinkled amongst landmark singles and fan favorites spanning their other four albums and nearly two-decade career, painting a gorgeous portrait of NYC rock with strokes of post-punk revival.

The wave of dark but invigorating tunes was perfectly complimented by breezy warm weather at the River Stage, providing a scintillating, personal engagement for the fans. While one may normally peg Interpol for grander outdoor stages or fashionable metropolitan clubs, the small stage harkened back to the days of Turn on the Bright Lights, calling upon the boundless energy of youth and working it into new hits like “Anywhere” and “All the Rage Back Home.” Jumping the expanse between their debut and latest release – which also happens to be the group’s first album sans bassist Carlos D. – illuminated the conceptual and aural bridge that was the original inspiration for the group’s self titled album.

The backdrop of lit-up industrial complexes across from the pulsations of the inky Delaware River framed the spectacle perfectly. Distinct warm-but-cool plucks of bass flowed through the gentle multi-hued stage fog only to be pierced by Daniel Kessler’s sizable Gibson, the striking notes captivating the crowd from opener “Say Hello to the Angels” to the encore ending with “Obstacle 1.” This vitality fueled the spacey guitars of cuts like “Everything Is Wrong” to evoke a heady awe. Even somber slow-builders like “Leif Erikson” and “Pioneer to the Falls” maintained the powerful undercurrent of the eve to great effect. One could taste the amplified elegance consistently, but it would truly come to a head during the stark end of “Pioneer.” Simplicity truly illustrated depth in moments like these.

interpol2Banks’s impassioned vocals projected a lush tone of carousing through velveteen nights. Touring member Brad Truax brought the pivotal thick and punchy bass, intertwining with Sam Fogarino’s perfectly calculated percussion, yet never falling to a passive back-beat. Weaving tight cracks on the snare and polished rhythm, Fogarino humbly held it all together. The forefront of Kessler’s vigorous outbursts of sharp riffs and Banks’s reserved yet lively tempo played out like inspiring conversation.

The thing about Interpol’s live show is that they have this flawlessness about them, a careful precision and perfection that one may not even notice directly. Yet this incredible tendency to absolutely nail every track never suggests a monotonous mixed playlist as projected through a PA system. Seemingly minuscule alterations, a stepped-up verse here, drawn out instrumental stretches there, subtle speed-ups; they all gently tweak the skeleton of the music, elevating standards like “Evil” and “Slow Hands” beyond the confines of simple recitation.

Saturday’s show could have just been a simple run-down, fulfilling the date in an adequate sense, and still have enthralled me with every moment. But this is Interpol, a band that does not just phone it in – they bring you into a microcosm of cosmopolitan cool, grasping you with every single note, filling your senses with liveliness and lust. Live Interpol is effortless, chic energy incarnate, and they brought that aura to Philadelphia tenfold, wrapping every listener in a soundscape of pain, romance, drama, wit and wonder.

Photos are courtesy of Krys Sansone and are used with permission

Squalor – Live in the Ring (07/05/2015)

squalorIt’s rather easy to dismiss hardcore punk as repetitive. Even with – or in spite of – a relatively short history, it seems like many newer acts in the scene can be easily reduced to a simple reference point. Once you’ve gone through about twenty or thirty versions of Black Flag with a dash of Minor Threat and some Agnostic Front, you start to lose the formerly bold and adventurous taste of what those very bands embodied. While cutting your teeth on some Dead Kennedys is fine, a band has to branch out, try something new, in order to really make the music its own – otherwise it comes to a standstill reminiscent of a bored cover band.

And that’s what makes Portland, Oregon’s Squalor so intense, impassioned, and downright invigorating – they seem to bring draw more upon their own musical histories than that of the scene at large. Yeah, you can definitely pick up on some standards, but Squalor manages to bring it all together in a way that you cannot ignore. The feel of early 2000’s hardcore resurgence, the distinct west-coast punk vibe, and subtle nods to legends like Converge are present – but they refuse to limit themselves to these influences. One can actually sense that these guys grew up immersed in this sound, paying respect yet still harboring a need to push forward. There’s a rawness to “The Noel E.P.” (released January 2015) that highlights the explosive passion and energy the genre was built on, all the while distorting and amplifying it into something darker, angrier and more than willing to prove it.

As the thunderous intro to “Dry” quickly breaks into a hypertensive blast, you barely have time to catch your breath before this E.P. shreds your hardcore assumptions and eardrums to pieces. When the strained shouts throughout “No Sympathy” slows down to a throat-crippling exclamation of “I hate my job, I hate my friends, I’m so depressed, it never ends,” it sends shivers down the spine. By the time it wraps up with the chugging rhythm of “No You’re Not,” you get that drive to put the E.P. on repeat, get up and throw down. This is the way hardcore is meant to be – simple, brutal, honest, passionate, stirring.

Just this past Sunday, Squalor played a house show at The Darkplace. Even sans bassist, these guys charge through a bloodthirsty cavalcade of a set. Channeling the power present at good live hardcore punk shows, you feel the band’s energy feeding the crowd, and the reciprocal voltage that goes right back into the music. That vitality is beautifully augmented here, in a familiar yet distinct outcry that recharges your faith in fun, angry punk rock. So sit back and crank up this dynamic response to the monotony of loud music – you will feel it, right down to the bones.

Many thanks to Darkvids for putting up the audio as part of their “Live in the Ring” series.

The Underwater Sounds: Legendary Misfits of Sounds

Publication: JUMP
Published: January 15, 2015 (Winter 2015 Issue)

The Underwater Sounds: Legendary Misfits of Sounds

As Sean Youngman drives along Grays Ferry Avenue toward Southwest Philadelphia, he notices a disheveled youth standing by the roadside, asking for change. He stops his car and roots around the back seat that is occupied by laundry baskets filled with freshly pressed albums and promotional posters. “I knew I had them in here,” he mumbles as he tosses items around. Youngman locates a box of granola bars, quickly rolls down the window and waves the beggar over. He hands the vagabond a bar with a smile, stating, “I like to keep them around and hand them out to people on the streets. I think it’s good karma.”

It seems that karma has really paid off for Youngman and his fellow musicians in The Underwater Sounds, a West Philly band on the brink of launching into exciting endeavors. The Sounds’ newest release, Visions of Love & Light, Part 1 – recorded at Fishtown’s East Room Recording – has just been pressed in time for a tour.

Youngman approaches the dead-end of Paschall Avenue and hops out of the car. His fellow band members – vocalist Sonni Schwartzbach, bassist Kenny Shumski and guitarist Billy Campion – come out to meet him.

Inside Campion’s home – an industrial building he converted into a living/practice space – the bandmates set down boxes of albums and posters, grab a few bottles of Goose Island beer and collapse on the couches in the practice area. The walls are covered with psychedelic tapestries, and the corners of the room are crowded with band merchandise, amplifiers and instruments. This is a rare opportunity for everyone to relax before launching into another busy stretch. But they’re accustomed to it, ever since forming in 2010.

“It was just me, Sonni and Sean at first, writing and playing [Sonni’s] tunes,” says Shumski. “But eventually, more members came aboard and everything kind of shifted in a different direction. We started exploring collaboration as a group.”

Campion’s addition brought a touch of jam to the unit. But that’s just one element of the package.

“Space roots, world-bop, psychedelic groove…” Schwartzbach lists as she tries to categorize the band.

“I like to say reggae soul,” chimes in Campion.

“Reggae is a cool box to be in but I don’t necessarily think we fit inside a box,” counters Schwartzbach. “We’re not going to be stuck in one scene. We’re misfits.”

Labeling aside, the band coalesced into a distinct sound over the years, with each member providing an element of his or her own.

“Sean and I come from more harder-rock backgrounds, Sonni always played in reggae bands and ska bands and Billy played all sorts of stuff,” says Shumski. “It’s not like we’re consciously trying to create a unique sound. It’s just happening.”

That is the mentality which makes The Sounds so accessible, even to those who normally won’t bother listening to reggae or jam music. Their live shows are legendary, with live art, stilt-walkers, hula-hoopers and fire-spinners complementing the trippy tunes.

“We have a lot of friends with really unique abilities that they’ll contribute to our shows,” says Youngman.

After years of handling live acts and two records on their own, the band has recently signed on to locally-based Rising Pulse Productions – home of Philly funk outfit Swift Technique – allowing them to concentrate strictly on the music.

Although The Sounds have invested plenty of time traveling, they still call Philadelphia – specifically West Philly – home.

“The music scene is accessible,” Schwartzbach remarks. “There’s a community here that’s not typical of East Coast cities to have this homey feel.”

“And nobody complains about the music!” notes Campion in regard to practices.

“It’s cool that we can park the band bus out here, too,” says Youngman with a laugh.

All told, the band’s core ethos is simply summed up in one line.

“It’s a party and we want everyone to have a fucking good time,” says Schwartzbach. “No matter who they are.”

And that’s a party you don’t want to miss.

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