Later Fortune is the brainchild of Philadelphia’s Chet Delcampo and Heyward Howkins – two indie artists who have made their mark with solo records that stood apart from the crowd by using intelligent lyrics married to ridiculously strong melodies. Chet Delcampo (real name Chris Madl) took his name from Steve Buscemi’s character in the Coen Brothers’ classic, Barton Fink. He’s released a few solo records and singles along with two records under the Hong Kong Stingray moniker. Indie rock at its finest. Heyward Howkins might be familiar to some of my readers as I’ve reviewed both of his solo albums. I really have always loved his folk / pop sensibility as filtered through historical anecdotes by way of his Philadelphia roots. A band formed around these two huge talents is a major force to be reckoned with.
The band started out as a way for friends to get together and record spontaneous collaborations. The idea of recording a song a month was thrown around, with the result being an album released at the end of 12 months. Sometimes the best ideas start out with the best intentions but lead to a different result. And here’s what we have – the brand new, debut single from Later Fortune. As an introduction to a new band, it is perfect. It makes an impact and leaves the listener wanting more. A 12 Year Audition is a low-key gem, hushed vocals and resonant, joyful melody that builds as the song progresses. Birds of Papau is an instrumental b-side, evocative in the atmosphere it builds over the course of 3 minutes or so.
You can pick up the record here. I’m really looking forward to what comes next from Later Fortune , this is an impressive debut.
Verdict: Stunning Debut
For Fans of: Mojave 3, Neil Young, Honeychurch, Simon & Garfunkel
Philadelphia’s RunHideFight are a breath of fresh air and are a fitting band to kick off 2019 reviews with. This is their first release, a 2 song 7 inch that clocks in under 5 minutes total – but what an incredible blast of brilliance to introduce themselves with. The band features Geeta Dalal Simons on guitars & vocals, Christine Weiswer on bass & vocals, John Terlesky (aka Brother JT) on guitars & vocals, and Jon Kois on drums. Collectively, the members of the band have a ton of connections and experience playing in the Philadelphia region with various bands. After a decade+ away from the music scene Geeta Simons was ready for a return – now approaching the music with the perspective of being a parent. It makes for interesting and heartfelt approach. The band name? That’s the new stop drop and roll for kids – run hide fight is a catch phrase for active shooter situations in schools across America. The new normal. The band excels at fuzzed out garage rock rave ups. He’s A Jerk is the A side and it is a noisy 2 minutes of white noise bliss. The band is locked in sync and I’ll tell ya, Geeta’s scream is absolutely killer. Because I Love You has a slightly less aggressive approach with a sing-a-long vibe and catchy guitar riff pulsating throughout the entirety of the tune. I can’t wait for the full length.
You can buy the single here – physical copies or digital. Follow the band on The Social Network and if you are near a major Northeast city, keep your eyes open for their tour schedule.
Verdict: Fiery debut
For Fans of: The Raveonettes, The Sonics, The Runaways, R.E.M.
It’s hard not to think of DJ Jazzy Jeff as the partner of The Fresh Prince – aka Will Smith. The late 80’s and early 90’s featured a near constant stream of radio and MTV hits from the duo. Once Will Smith broke into television, he made sure DJ Jazzy Jeff – aka Jeffrey Townes – had a constant presence on his hit show, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. The Fresh Prince started putting out records under his new name (some of them still featuring DJ Jazzy Jeff), and DJ Jazzy Jeff put out two critically acclaimed records and an impressive amount of mix tapes. The last decade or so has found Jeff DJ’ing throughout the world, producing records, and reminding the world that he is one of the world’s premier DJ’s – setting moods, scratching, and mixing with an expert ear. M3 marks his 1st album in 11 years and is the final chapter of the Magnificent trilogy. It just may be his finest solo work yet.
The Classic Hunt are a new – but not new to the scene – band based out of Philadelphia, PA. My hometown and where I spent my 1st 24 ½ years. The band describe themselves as “psychedelic-folk-jazz-punk-blues” and I can’t think of a more apt description. The confidence displayed in their first officially released recordings betrays the depth of experience that each member brings to the table. The band was founded by keyboardist and singer Tyler Hayduk who has made a name himself in various Philadelphia bands – even opening for GZA on the 2012 Liquid Swords tour. After laying down songs that hinted at a new direction, the full band came together through jam sessions in early 2017. The band is now composed of Tyler, Brendan Burke (guitar), Andrew Haff (guitar), Jude Alvarez (bass), and Aaron Wolf (drums). Full disclosure – Jude is related to a relative of mine, though we aren’t officially related. All through “the law”. The Lyrids is the band’s debut. And what a debut it is.
The Lyrids takes its title from the annual meteor shower that takes place from April 16th to April 26th each year. A nice variation on the “April Showers” expression, the EP release coincides with these celestial happenings. The title of the EP is a nod towards the in-depth intellectual wit on display in the lyrics on all 4 songs. Back to Life starts the album with a bit of a jangle pop feel. Hayduk’s vocals kick in and sound like a mix of 90’s alternative and Bob Dylan. A tone poem story longing for simplicity in the face of life’s complexities, it keeps coming back to the phrase “I’m dying to…fuck you…back to life”. And the way it is phrased comes off as a statement of intent. Perfect. The sound fades out on a Guns ‘N Roses / Slash type guitar solo. Which is the way to my heart, truly. Catalina has my favorite line on the record: “The company was on point / They smell like lavender and pumpkin pie”. I can picture that, I’ve been there, you probably have too. The guitars shimmer like something from The Chameleons and the bass line just kills – anchoring the whole thing down. The song does a great job of building – and sustaining – a mysterious vibe that keeps the listener entranced. A catharsis of sorts is reached in the last minute or so when the band jams to another killer guitar solo. Sunflowers for Rye continues with the cryptic atmosphere. The band’s interplay is particularly exceptional on this track, the space between the instruments really allowing the players to flourish. Lyrically, this is devastating stuff. “Are you holding me / Or are you holding me back?”. Star Vultures brings things full circle – jangle pop that is an altogether lighter affair than the previous two songs. This is also the song where the EP takes its title from. Of course, that’s not in the chorus. The chorus reminds me of a big 90’s alternative hit single. I can envision the video filmed in downtown Philly as Hayduk sings “Don’t watch me walk away without saying goodbye”. A perfect way to end a perfect EP.
The EP is available now on Bandcamp. You can also follow them on The Social Network. The band has an album release show coming on May 18th at Orlieb’s in Philadelphia. Limited edition CD’s will be available at that show. I can’t praise this band enough – absolutely worth checking out. They just may be the next addition to the legacy of great bands hailing from Philadelphia.
Verdict: Promising Debut
For Fans of: The Essex Green, Lilys, Mojave 3, The Band, The Byrds, Teenage Fanclub
- Back To Life
- Sunflowers for Rye
- Star Vultures
The ghosts of our past can be ignored, viewed through rose-colored lenses, or confronted head on. Philadelphia based Nothing were founded by Dominic Palermo in 2011 shortly after he spent time in lock up on a few charges relating to a fight. Singer for a hardcore band (Horror Show), jail, a few years away from music – not the ideal career path for a musician trying to break on through (to the other side). Strangely enough, turning an introspective eye to the past has lent Palermo’s music a depth that can only come about by tackling the issues head on. Fortunately for us, we are left with what should be a contender for one of the finest albums of 2014.
Attack of the Killer Track! is a series that explores tracks from artists from a variety of genres. Some of the tracks were singles, some of them were obscure b-sides or long forgotten album tracks. One thing is certain – all of them are killer tracks.
It goes without saying that DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince are one of the greatest hip hop acts to ever hail from the city of Philadelphia, PA (The Roots would obviously be in that select group). At some point The Fresh Prince changed his name to Will Smith, started a movie career, and continued rapping under his new name. The highlights on his solo records for me were when he invited DJ Jazzy Jeff to scratch on a handful of tracks. None of his solo records gelled the way the DJ Jazzy Jeff &The Fresh Prince records did until the 2005 release of Lost and Found. Notable guest appearances (Mary J. Blige, Snoop Dogg), relevant musical backing, and smart lyrical content make up most of the tracks on this record. Tell Me Why is my favorite on the record, and one of the highlights of The Fresh Prince’s career. The track was originally targeted as the 2nd single from the record but was scrapped in favor of Party Starter – a shame, as Tell Me Why has an emotional core that would have possibly appealed to radio programmers. The song relies on The Fresh Prince’s storytelling flow, throwing us right into an attempt to explain the insanity of 9/11 and war to a child. The track builds as it progresses, with The Fresh Prince becoming more agitated and emotional as he asks someone to explain the unexplainable:
- the death of hip hop icons Jam Master Jay, Tupac, and Biggie Smalls
- the death of Smith’s infant brother Sterling
- Nelson Mandela’s ordeal
- The saga of MLK and Malcolm X
- The hate crime committed against James Byrd Jr.
- The death of Reginald Denny
By the end of the verse Will Smith is practically shouting his rhymes, anger and frustration bleeding through. Resignation in the words “Please what am I supposed to say to my kids when they say ‘Why?’, Mary J. Blige’s backing vocals coming to the front of the mix with the final “Why”, and orchestra swells lending the track an otherworldly emotional resonance. This is a perfect song. Here’s hoping The Fresh Prince will return one day.
A few months ago, I received a nice surprise in my email – a promo copy of the new Heyward Howkins album, about a year after the debut. An unexpectedly quick follow-up, it quickly became one of my favorite records of the year. I reviewed it right around the release date here, and still have it in my regular rotation. I recently had the chance to catch up with Heyward and we had the chance to talk about music, Philadelphia, and you guessed it…coffee.