On the heels of a major viral success, capped off with a performance on Stephen Colbert, Babymetal released “Metal Resistance” to fanfare and surprisingly positive critical acclaim. For a moment, it seemed like the viewing public was united on something they weren’t before: these three girls from Japan legitimately kick ass. That’s not just a reference to their new single, “Karate”, either. With an album that switches between symphonic metal and drum ‘n’ bass with ease (and without too much camp!), Babymetal has made the transition from side-note to main event for many.
The group, now on their second international tour, will be making their first appearance in Philadelphia on Saturday, May 7th. After rocking Wembley, the Electric Factory should be no challenge for the three girls and their powerful backing band. Although Babymetal started as a spinoff from a more traditionally Japanese pop “idol group”, you won’t be seeing school uniforms and cute poses. With an explosive energy that makes their choreography look like an army drill, Babymetal is sure to stir up a circle pit on Saturday night.
Babymetal consists of members Su-metal (Suzuka Nakamoto), Yuimetal (Yui Mizuno), and Moametal (Moa Kikuchi). Their median age is 17. After finding success outside of their original group, Sakura Gakuin, Babymetal gained attention largely as a novelty act through the viral success of their early music videos. Following the release of their first album, it became clear that while the girls didn’t write their own music, but rather make an excellent and convincing vehicle for a new spin on pop. Even after working with acts like Dragonforce rather than strictly their original composers – something relatively rare in the confusingly xenophobic J-Pop scene – Babymetal has a unified sound on their albums. They’ve done songs with rap sections and even touched lightly upon black metal with their latest effort. Though it can be easy to see a pop act like this as superficial, they’re wildly entertaining and refreshingly straightforward.
Fat White Family is touring in support of their Fat Possum/Without Consent-released album Songs for Our Mothers (out this past January) and bringing the party to Underground Arts tomorrow, April 29. Known for putting on a great live show, FWF are as entertaining as they are bizarre – and a band that Vice once called “British rock’n’roll’s final hurrah.” Watch the video for the album’s first track, “Whitest Boy on the Beach,” below.
Joining them is Canadian band Dilly Dally (Partisan Records)– if Courtney Love and Joey Santiago had formed a side project in the 90s, this is who you’d get. Katie Monks’ gritty voice paired with lush pop guitar distortion make for some delectable rock tunes. Watch “Purple Rage” below and don’t miss them.
Get there early for Philly (seltzer-loving) band Littler, who just independently released Of Wandering in March will open the show. Watch their video for “Slippery,” below (from AV Club).
All People are led by Greg Rodrigue and Daniel “D-Ray” Ray. I met Greg last winter at a café he co-runs in New Orleans. I was buying a Woozy record, and we talked a bit. He also co-runs Community Records with Ray, home of bands like Woozy, Caddywhompus, and Pope.
Rodrigue and Ray trade lead and backup vocal duties throughout their self-titled album, as the band takes a step forward from 2015’s Learn Forget Repeat, helped by the addition of guitarist Josh Campbell. Rodrigue emphasizes each word, bringing a haunted energy at points. “Now I’m in the ground, do you miss me now?” he sings in “Naught”, the existential lead single. Side 1 ends with “Moonsteps”, a groovy jam that brings together some of the best parts of the band – it kicks off Ray’s energetic keyboards, followed by a killer baseline from Rodrigue, before settling into a smooth rhythm.
“Moon Steps” is the album’s centerpiece, a shot of light before the band winds down. Side 2 is much calmer than Side 1, and “Balloon” is nearly a ballad. Ray’s trombone plays a prominent role, taking the lead on “New Rain”, the penultimate track and a thoughtful instrumental. “Of You” caps off All People, peacefully fading away as the trombone wonders on. As far as punk albums go, All People is one of 2016’s most unique, and Ray and Rodrigue work well to create a cohesive, emotional effort.
Thao and the Get Down Stay Down bring their sunny, folk-tinged pop to Underground Arts on Saturday, April 16th, headlining a great bill that includes Saintseneca and Little Scream. They recently released what may be their best album yet, A Man Alive. The album was produced by Merril Garbus of tUnE-yArDs, and it bubbles over with positive energy. While it’s hard not to snap along to the rhythm of songs like “The Evening” and lead single “Nobody Dies”, Thao and the gang maintains their unique idiosyncrasies. Even the slower songs keep you looking up, as Thao Nguyen’s voice and songwriting shine. A Man Alive is a perfect album to welcome in spring. Continue reading “Concert Preview: Thao and the Get Down Stay Down at Underground Arts on Saturday, April 16th”
One of the most fun parts of this project is the alumni of WKDU I’ve had the pleasure of talking to. In gathering information, they’ve been invaluable. So first thing, I’d like to thank everyone I’ve spoken with so far: Kevin Brown, Johnpaul Golaski, Mel “Average Guy” Holmes, and Al Knight.
Today’s find was by way of Facebook. The alumni of WKDU have a group where they keep in touch and post the artifacts of those days. Browsing some shots from the 1974 Lexerd (Drexel’s yearbook) yielded this: