Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Two great rock and roll bands, one pretty good bedroom pop artist

Big week over at Philly Weekly, not one, not two, but three little write-ups. Even better, they’re all sort of exciting, one way or another, as music.


Boomtown Gems (Birdman)

Rating: Excellent, like John Oates’ mustache.

Apache from San Francisco crank the kind of trashy, swaggering garage glam that Johnny Thunders invented, adding a bit of psychedelia into the guitar breaks, and a spot of power pop into the handclapped choruses. It’s a sound that balances Queen’s taunt and preen with the muscular onslaught of the Stooges, and more than that, it’s funny and utterly un-P.C. For instance, every band’s got a bad-girl song, but Apache’s “Nazi Knife” diva is a weapon-wielding member of Aryan Nation. “Apache Ride” is even goofier—Tonto whoops and tom-tom beats cutting through waves of echoplex. Super fun, super rocking. (Jennifer Kelly)

“Bullet Train”

Mon., Sept. 15, 9pm. $8. With Gods and Queens + Hot Guts. Johnny Brenda’s, 1201 Frankford Ave. 215.739.9684.

Lars Finberg’s Intelligence sounds a lot like the Fall in an abandoned bomb shelter, or the Swell Maps in metal flak jackets. Sure, it’s post-punk, but post-punk for a post-industrial wasteland, its cavernous beats clattering off cement walls, its shout-along melodies like the big chorus from a robot opera. There’s a pop sensibility buried in the blistering distortion, even a sense of fun, but don’t expect to get too comfortable. In the best Intelligence video on YouTube, someone unauthorized has spliced “Deuteronomy” to footage of a Japanese cubicle jockey going postal—a near- perfect distillation of the band’s ordered march to chaos. (Jennifer Kelly)

“Secret Signals”

That crazy “Deuteronomy” video

Miracle Fortress
Sun., Sept. 14. 8pm. $10. M Room, 15 W. Girard Ave. 215.739.5577.

Miracle Fortress is one of those lightly veiled one-man projects, its recorded output solely the product of Montreal’s Graham Van Pelt. Yet there’s nothing austere about Five Roses, the Fortress’ first album, no intimations of solitude or introspection. Van Pelt has evidently spent a lot of time thinking about the masters of large-scale pop—Brian Wilson and Phil Spector in particular. That means instead of a songwriter’s reedy self-love, we get masses of harmonies, dense instrumentation and a sense of communal joy. Things will likely get even friendlier live, as Van Pelt’s four-person band brings these songs to full exuberance. (J.K.)


Video of “Have You Seen in Your Dreams”

And “Hold Your Secrets to Your Heart”

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