Music Reviews

Spill! interview with Philadelphia's littler: limited cassette EP "get a life" (number4door) out now!

Littlr
Littler photo by Amy June Breesman, (www.amyjunebreesman.com)

The repetition on the twangy opening guitar riff of littler's addictive single track "College Legs," takes a pause on the beat, and all at once, the rest of the song smashes into the room it fills with a wild and explosive, bratty style, that ebbs in fits and bursts of jarring rock'n'roll. The band's crunchy sound and mixture of garage and punk is addictive, the writing is catchy and clear, and lead singer and guitarist Madeline Meyer's vocals easily slide between quiet and harmonius to a dark and deep menacing growl ("College Legs," and "Sleeptalk") or squeal ("Didn't Ask") to match moods for each song on the band's debut EP, "get a life."

Released in cassette format on Glaswegian independent label Number4Door (also home to past releases with Amanda X, Coasting, and Mannequin Pussy, among others) and limited to 50, the cassette and online versions feature artwork by local artist and musician Perry Shall (Hound) who used the band's songs as the inspiration behind the fun, colorful, and strangely menacing design that fits the EP's temperament. While "Demigod" explores reacting to a person with an inflated sense of self, "You're a big shot, a demigod, you're a big shot, and you know it," need and emotion split hairs on "Sleeptalk," a reflection on telling the person you love your secrets while they sleep (or, keeping them awake for selfish reasons.... mostly because you can't sleep yourself). We loved the ideas behind the lyrics on "Bedroom Culture": who do you invite into your bedroom, what kind of person are you when you are alone, who do you show this 'personal' side of yourself to, or do you keep it all to yourself? The songs on the EP show both a mixture of spirited youth and tongue-in-cheek self-preservation with a score to match. 

Along with singer and guitarist Meyer, the band features Dan Colanduno (Slow Animal) on guitar and vocals, Ivy Gray-Klein on bass, and Robyn Campbell on drums. They have played just over a handful of shows in the city, and we hope to see more of them soon. In the meantime - order their new cassette EP at the Number4Door website (oooh, fancy; European!) or the band will also have some available at upcoming shows or through their bandcamp (soon).

Girl About Town: Your new EP just went live last Monday on your bandcamp, and in cassette format on Number4Door (a label based out of Glasgow in Scotland). Number4Door has also released cassettes by Amanda X, Coasting, Mannequin Pussy (and more). How did you get to know the label and is it a limited release?

MM: I think the label heard about us through the website The Le Sigh who had done some of our earliest reviews and I had just started writing for. Gus (Number4door is just one guy) approached us, and I knew about his work with Amanda X and Toxie and was really excited to work with him. So far it's just 50 tapes but depending on how it does, we'll see if we want to do a second release.

How did the members of littler meet?

MM: Ivy and I met at a summer writing program in New York in high school. We somehow maintained contact despite her living in Maine and me in Los Angeles.

IGK: Dan was actually one of the first people I met when I moved to Philly for college.

DC: We met because I contacted her online in an attempt to get into a college show that was exclusive to college students and their guests. Ivy responded (despite the fact that my Facebook picture was a screenshot of Brad Pitt) and was able to get me in the show.

MM: A few years later, I was attending college in Ohio and had a show in my house that Dan was supposed to play with his other band, Slow Animal. Ivy had sent me a text earlier that day saying that they were friends and Dan and I had to hang. The cops showed up and they never played but it's okay because we date now. I moved to Philly a year later and met Robyn through my old roommate Rachel. Robyn was wearing this great shirt (which I now know she refers to her as her "L.A. Shirt") and I just knew if we were going to be friends that I was doomed to not dress better than her.

RC: I remember hearing her talk about covering "Flagpole Sitta" and was like, damn, that lady's cool (in my head). (I don't know if I ever told her that.) But anyway, a few months after that we ran into each other and somehow the subject of me playing drums came up. I was still pretty self-conscious about it at the time because I think maybe like one person had ever heard me play before, but Madeline and Dan both had this "I'm sure you're great" attitude that was pretty encouraging. They’d already been playing with Ivy so things just kind of fell into place.

How long did it take to record the EP and write the songs? Was there a specific sound that you were looking for in this recording?

DC: The recording process was done in pieces. We tracked all of the drums in a day. Then we went back and added the other parts whenever we had free time.

MM: I think it probably took two months to write, record, and mix the EP? We're all new to this so I think when we first started I was just so excited to be making music that I wasn't all that critical of what it was. By the time we made "Get a Life," I was like, okay, I want this to be a little faster and a little more raw. Also, a lot of music I listen to has ladies with really nice, high voices. Mine isn't like that and I think it took me a while to be comfortable with it, but this tape was a good exploration of leaning into it.

Bands can be partial to the type of gear they're using. What instruments does the band drool over, or what do you love about what you're using now in how it helps you to achieve your sound?

DC: We like Fender Strats and the twang that comes with it. As far as everything else, we kind of just take what we can get. We currently are using a crossbreed of mine and Robyn's drums. I still use my dad's Japanese knockoff Les Paul guitar. I also have a cheap Peavey combo amp that I bought from someone on Craigslist, but it sounds fantastic. But gear is overrated. Any instrument can sound good if you play it the right way, or if the sound of it compliments the songs you write. (if you have a shitty guitar, write a song that's favorable to a shitty guitar; Mac Demarco made it work.)

IGK: I started playing righty on a hand-me-down bass, but after some self-reflection, I quickly realized that was just never gonna happen or else my brain might melt. So my Danelectro is the first bass I bought, but it's been a very loving dynamic. I still feel really indebted to certain peers of mine for helping me embrace my left-handed-ness. Though I haven't been playing music for a long time, I'm so grateful for all the support I've received thus far.

What was the band's favorite song to record for the EP and what makes it so special?

RC: I think I'd have to say "Sleeptalk" was my favorite for a couple of reasons. It wasn't completely finished when Dan recorded me on drums, so I feel like there were still some questions about how it would sound exactly; but the general idea was there. We talked about it and basically were like "we want it to sound like this" and just tried something out. Not to be like, "oh, we're such free spirits!" or anything -- I'm sure bands do that all the time. But I had never recorded anything before so it felt weird and cool to not have all the details.

Actually, I remember being concerned that it was going to sound too surfy. But it doesn't! Hearing it all together once everyone finished recording made me so happy because it was like this unexpected little gold nugget that I really liked.

"Sleeptalk" was also the most challenging song for me as someone who's relatively new to drumming. I tend to tell myself I can't play something if I think it's too complicated, which is a terrible attitude to have but very real. I'm getting more and more comfortable, but at the time it was a little intimidating, so it felt really satisfying to push myself and see results.

MM: I think my favorite song to record and write was "Didn't Ask." I'm still new to writing lyrics, creating melodies, and arranging things and this was one of the first times that it just flowed super naturally. I knew exactly what I wanted to do. I'd just read this article on the lack of narratives surrounding female hitchhikers and was really just thinking out loud. That and the recording process felt really organic, like it was just intuitive. Art isn't always like that for me.

IGK: I don't know if I have a favorite per se, but I am consistently in awe of Madeline's lyrics. Whenever she shows us new stuff she's written I think of that scene in "Ladies and Gentlemen the Fabulous Stains" when that teenage girl describes the titular band as, "[Saying] things I've always wanted to say and I haven't been able to." Which is to say, it feels really special to be playing with musicians I admire and to be able to help propel this collective message.

What has been the most positive thing about the local scene for your band?

RC: In general, I'd say support and encouragement. I wasn't around for First Time's the Charm, but the fact that any band can get its start in an environment like that, where PhilaMOCA is completely packed with people who are so excited to watch new musicians and clap even when they fuck up, is incredible. Along the same lines, the DIYPHL PA share (which they used the FTTC money for) is, like, one of the best ideas ever. Ten bucks is such a small price to pay to have this thing at your disposal. Now anyone can put on a show! That's so cool! It's important for a scene to strive for accessibility and inclusiveness. And it's kind of an endless process but I think Philly is working on it. In Littler's case specifically, since 3/4 of us are new to our instruments, it's nice to be around people who are rooting for us rather than saying "get the fuck out of here, shoobies!"

MM: Yeah, for those of you out there that don't know, we got our start at First Time's the Charm, a year ago, which was a show curated to include people new to their instruments/new to a band and prioritizing women, people of color, and trans and queer individuals. It says a lot that our inception is immersed in our community and the opportunities they've given us. Thanks guys!

What's next for littler?

IGK: We're debuting a new track on a forthcoming compilation by The Le Sigh, which should be a really neat collective of bands.

MM: We just want to get back to writing new songs and playing shows! Obviously we're so excited to have this EP out but it'll just be nice to move forward and keep doing things. We’d also love to be able to figure out a tour in the future but y’know who knows?

Littler - bandcamp / number4door / facebook


Sarah Silverman "We Are Miracles" Comedy LP (SUB POP)

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Once crowned “the most outrageously funny woman alive,” by Rolling Stone,  Sarah Silverman’s “We Are Miracles” lives up to expectations. In the “We Are Miracles” special, she performs to an audience of 39 people at L.A.'s Largo nightclub. Written by Silverman, and directed by Liam Lynch, “We Are Miracles” was produced by Funny or Die, and Black Gold Films. Thankfully Sub Pop saw the need for more of an audience to hear this and has taken selected tracks from the special and wrapped them up in the form of a warm and monkeyed hug for the masses.

For the new LP and special, Sarah’s quirky vulgarity takes aim at: night-time rituals that include scrolling through late night porn, showering with her mother at a young age, insecurities in women (and using special deodorants for their lady parts)! She has become more outspoken when she talks about Obama and the republicans! She compares the divide in politics to the Red Sox and the Yankees! She makes a vocal point about republicans and female rights!

The charm that Sarah has with her audience is palpable even though she may be pushing limits with what might be considered offensive - she is commenting on the unspoken truth in topics (such as sexism) that make you really think about how f---ed up some things truly are. When Sarah remarks that she would love to have a baby but never a ten year old - she doesn't stop there, and she admits to her intimate audience that she would love to adopt only terminally ill babies. Silverman is able to be not only shocking with the topics that she brings to the table, but intimate - as when she talks to the audience about her sister Suzie babysitting her, which makes her also relatable. 

For the album's final track, the audience is given a delightful song called, “Diva,” where it's just Silverman singing with an acoustic guitar. In this hilarious end track, she explains that rude people are not 'divas' they are royal 'C' words (which she then repeats for a good and long 30 seconds) and if you're going to be a 'diva' then maybe you should be singing solos and not cutting her in line. What is infectious about her style and presentation is that she is pushing limits (at times) a little too far (occasionally to her own detriment) but always keeping the listener guessing as to what she'll come up with next. The material that she wrote is not only hilarious and smart, with a definite potential to make you cringe, but her delivery on each of these excerpts is strong; with each joke executed perfectly. 

We Are Miracles is available for purchase from the Sub Pop Mega MartiTunes, and Amazon.

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Sarah Silverman - "We Are Miracles" track listing:
01. Nighttime Rituals
02. Speaking of Cum, My Mother’s Been Sick
03. Killing Jesus
04. Planting the Seeds of Insecurity
05. Looking Inward
06. A Heartbreaking Story
07. Rape Jokes: Comedy’s Hidden Gem
08. Muster
09. Senator Obama
10. Human Puppies
11. Diva

Sarah Silverman - web site / subpop


Creepoid: Self-Titled LP (No Idea Records) + three new music videos and tour dates!

Although Philadelphia's Creepoid are mostly based out of Savannah, GA now, they will always be considered a local gem. The band released a self-titled LP back in March as well as a few music videos from their debut full-length. Produced by Kyle "Slick" Johnson (a local producer at Fancy Time Studio), the self-titled LP (out now on No Idea Records) is a cross between noisy rock 'n' roll, and a spacier style of psych. Songs like, "Stay Inside," have a more mellow vibe, and cutting through the grim-punk and raspy vocals of lead singer Sean Miller, we hear sounds that could easily stem from the likes of a band such as My Bloody Valentine. Their signature heady, and searing, spaced-out rock 'n' roll grabs hold, making your mind feel set adrift while listening.

A darker side of the band's songwriting is shown on the video for "Sunday," which was directed by Douglas Alvin Foulke Jr. and focuses on a band in their natural state while the slow-motion, chill-feeling of the song itself washes over their images on screen in a heavily contrasted black and white. "Baptism," is set to a grungier-style and the video (filmed with a Nizo S800 and directed by Wade Vanover) has a psychedelic tone throughout. Brand new video (their third) for the album; "Yellow Wallpaper," was just released. Directed by Adam Wallacavage and Erich Weiss, Yellow Wallpaper is one of the band's more woozy and uptempo tracks and features Anna Troxell on lead vocals. The video has the band playing in a large room, while double exposures filter over eachother--all under one of multitalented Wallaclavage's signature octopus chandelier creations: the effect is spooky, nightmarish, and surreal.

Despite Creepoid's busy touring schedule (they have been on the road since August 12th and continue until October 4th, during which time they supported labelmates Against Me! who were on tour as well) the group's final stop will be here in Philadelphia, at the TLA. Who says you can't come home? 

Upcoming Creepoid Tour Dates:
9/24/14 Burnsville, MN @ The Garage %
9/25/14 Chicago, IL @ Bottom Lounge %
9/26/14 Cleveland, OH @ Grog Shop %
9/27/14 Detroit, MI @ The Magic Stick %
9/28/14 Toronto, ON @ Mod Club %
9/29/14 Montreal, QC @ La Sala Rossa %
10/1/14 New York, NY @ Irving Plaza %
10/2/14 Boston, MA @ Paradise Rcok Club %
10/3/14 Danbury, CT @ Heirloom Arts Theatre %
10/4/14 Philadelphia, PA @ TLA %

% w/ Balance & Composure, Seahaven

Creepoid - band site / no idea records / facebook


Girlpool releases single track "Jane" from forthcoming EP and announces fall through winter tour

Between Cleo Tucker on guitar and Harmony Tividad on bass this duo creates the hypnotizing sound that is Girlpool. Based out of Los Angeles, the band recently released "Jane" from their forthcoming EP. Jane has an organic and bluesy sound that will pull you in, just like the band itself. The song's simplistic lyrics will captivate you. As simple as the lyrics are, and as catchy the tune, Girlpool's lyrics spread an empowering message. Catch them on tour (dates below) and stay tuned for their self-titled EP, due November 18th: 

Upcoming Girlpool Tour Dates:
9/12 - Los Angeles, CA @ Pehrspace
9/14 - Los Angeles, CA @ Pehrspace
9/20 - Los Angeles, CA @ Rogie's ~
9/26 - Claremont, CA @ Scripps College
9/28 - Los Angeles, CA @The Smell
10/7 - San Francisco, CA @ Brick and Mortar
10/10 - Los Angeles, CA @ Bootleg +
10/17 - Philadelphia PA @ TBA $
10/18 - Brooklyn, NY @ Death By Audio $
10/19 - Brooklyn, NY @ Silent Barn $
10/20 - Annandale-on-Hudson, NY @ Bard College $
10/23 - Brooklyn, NY @ Death By Audio ^
10/24 - Brooklyn, NY @ Silent Barn %
10/28 - Purchase, NY @ SUNY Purchase #
11/19 - London, EN @ Sebright Arms &
12/1 - Los Angeles, CA @ The Echo *
12/8 - Los Angeles, CA @ The Echo *
12/15 - Los Angeles, CA @ The Echo *
12/22 - Los Angeles, CA @ The Echo *

 ~ = w/ Radiator Hospital, Upset, and Benny The Jet Rodriguez
+ = w/ Kera and the Lesbians
$ = w/ Slutever
^ = KXLU CMJ Showcase
% = Father/Daughter CMJ Showcase 
# = w/ Free Cake For Every Creature and Adult Mom
& = w/ Alex G
* = The Echo residency

Girlpool - band site / wichita recordings / facebook


Sheer Mag Release What You Want 7": See Them Live Saturday 9/27 @ Cha'Cha'Razzi

The new 7" by Sheer Mag is out this week, and for the band's official release date, they play Cha'cha' Razzi with Philly punks Blank Spell and NY's Big Huge this Saturday, September 27th. Sheer Mag features Christina from The Shakes on lead vocals, and where The Shakes were a faster mixture of soul, organ, and punk, Mag's sound is a surer combination of power-pop, fuzz, and garage. The new band gives Christina the space for her vocals, and leans wide over meaty drum beats and a guitar that echoes a style akin to Big Star, as on "Sit And Cry," and we would even venture to say the early albums of The Figgs ("Hard Lovin'"). Whatever their influence, we're glad to hear these great tracks from a new group putting their own spin and twist on a sound that we already love, and making it sound fresh and exciting in a whole new way. The band plays a few shows locally, and hits the road this October with tour mates Nancy playing a mixture of house and club shows - Philly dates listed below, and you can pick up the 7" on order via snail mail, here.

09/27 @ CHA CHA RAZZI
   RELEASE SHOW w/ BIG HUGE + BLANK SPELL
10/13 @ GOLDEN TEA HOUSE w/ RAKTA + THE STASI
11/01 @ SECOND EMPIRE - LOCAL PUNK SHOWCASE
11/05 @ JOHNNY BRENDA'S w/ SCREAMING FEMALES + PUJOL
 
Sheer Mag - bandcamp