Tag: Philadelphia PA

New Video: Ron Gallo Is A Really Nice Guy Performing Underwhelming Skateboard Tricks

Ron Gallo is a Nashville, TN-based singer/songwriter and guitarist, who is perhaps best known for an eight-year stint as the frontman of Philadelphia-based indie band Toy Soldiers, an act that initially began as a guitar and drum duo that at one point in its history evolved into a 12 member collective, before settling into a quintet when the band split up in 2014. Gallo’s solo debut, HEAVY META was released earlier this year, and as you may recall the album was initially written while Gallo was living in Philadelphia and was involved with a woman, who had a number of personal and emotional issues. And as the story goes, when that relationship ended, Gallo moved to Nashville and finished the album during a period in which he has considered one of the most transformative periods of his life, as he saw as a personal reawakening and a musical rebirth. 

At the time, Gallo wrote and recorded songs in small batches without the support of a label — and initially, without the intention of making a full-length album. However, the material he wrote wound up touching upon a number of themes, including Gallo’s personal ideology on abstaining from drugs and alcohol, self-empowerment, domestication, dead love, not knowing yourself and what can happen when you don’t, mental illness and more, complete with a frustration with humanity and civilization. But it’s balanced by a feeling of optimism.  As Gallo said in press notes at the time, “this record comes from my frustration with humanity and myself, and from my wanting to shake us all. At my core, I’m compassionate for humanity and the sickness that we all live with, and from that comes something more constructive.”

Building upon the growing buzz surrounding him, Gallo is set to release the follow up to HEAVY META, Really Nice Guys on January 19, 2018 through New West Records. Produced by Joe Bisirri and Gallo, the forthcoming release is a concept EP inspired by the past year that Gallo has spent touring and promoting HEAVY META with the material being a commentary on the contemporary music industry. The EP features songs about rough mixes (broken into three parts — iPhone demo, live band demo and overproduced, autotuned studio recording); the inability for those within the music industry to say that a band is bad, so that everyone winds up saying “well, they’re really nice guys;” all of your friends asking to be put on the guest list for your show, etc. Along with that, the EP features Gallo’s mother’s boyfriend Jerry’s real-time thoughts after hearing the material for the first time throughout the EP, captured by a hidden microphone.  

As Gallo says about the forthcoming EP in press notes “Write what you know, Ron Gallo! Being constantly on highways, in vans, on planes, on stages, in green rooms, on guest lists, turning a person into a brand, turning a real life human moment into a song, into content, into an asset to be monetized, talking to people about myself and stuff I wrote 3 years ago, watching it all unfold in the public eye from a phone in a van on a highway heading to a stage. It wasn’t what I thought it would be and it was beautiful and I am grateful, but mostly this whole world of pursuing music and the music business is hilarious. So how do you deal with that? Have fun by entertaining yourself with an EP of you laughing at yourself about all of it and call it Really Nice Guys, which is probably all I’ve been for most of this.” 

The EP’s first single, EP title track “Really Nice Guys,” will further cement Gallo’s growing reputation for jangling and urgent, garage rock, but unlike the material on HEAVY META, the song is full of a bristling and bemused irony; the sort that would come about as you’re placed in an utterly ridiculous situation in which you can’t quite tell that you’ve being complimented or insulted — and you don’t quite know what to do besides look a bit like a dimwit. 

The recently released video is based on an early 00s skateboarding video which features Gallo performing a series of incredibly underwhelming tricks. 

Last month, I wrote about the up-and-coming Tel Aviv, Israel-based indie rock quartet Document, and as you may recall, the band, which is comprised of Nir Ben Jacob (vocals, guitar), Yanniv Brenner (Guitar), Amit David (Bass) and Amir Reich (Drums) can trace their origins to 2008. Once Jacob and finished college, he moved back to Tel Aviv and began hanging out with his cousin and a couple of his friends. And as bored 20-somethings, who were the only ones among their peers listening to Wire, The Fall, Fugazi, Dinosaur, Jr. and others, they decided to start a band and to write and play music together. In their native Israel, the indie rock quartet have developed a reputation for writing material that focuses on our obsessions with technology and our increasing disconnection with others, dealing with soulless bureaucracy and corruption, the seemingly endless banality of modern life, and the constant oscillating anxiety, outrage, hope and joy that many of us feel on a regular basis.

Hustle” off the band’s soon-to-be released album The Void Repeats focuses on the sort of digital addiction that removes you from connecting with others or from being in that particular moment; where a screen is an extension of one’s self and one’s life. Some time ago, I was sitting in a Center City, Philadelphia bar, chatting with a couple of very lovely locals but at some point the conversation stopped as they began to focus on Snapchatting into the internet void. As the band’s Nir Ben Jacob said of the song at the time, “Phones are the roots that allow us to be connected to everything else. We‘ve rooted ourselves in our modernity. Our identities can change online. We project what we want others to see. The screen has become a mirror. The phone takes away the ability to be intimate, and you are left alone with a distortion of reality. There’s the addiction of immediate gratification, the online approvals are ‘pseudo-pleasure’. This has all led to pointless compulsive behavior.”  Sonically speaking, the song is a scuzzy and angular post-punk single that’s clearly influenced by the likes of Wire and Gang of Four but it bristles with an ironic and incredibly post modern awareness while possessing incredibly tight, infectious hooks and a cool, self-assuredness beyond their relative youth.
The up-and-coming Israeli band’s latest and last single “Red Tape” as the band’s Jacob explains “refers to dealing with bureaucracy — specifically government agencies that are meant to serve the people, when in fact, they have made things so extremely complicated that you are lost and get screwed over if you’re not careful.” Sonically, while the song finds the band drawing from the hook-laden anthemic, garage rock and guitar rock of Pavement and others; but underneath the surface the song bristles with the bitter frustration of recognizing that you’re getting fucked over, and that no one who’s supposed to help you will help.

 

New Video: Ron Gallo Looks Back on a Dysfunctional Romantic Relationship in New Visuals for Album Single “Put The Kids To Bed”

Ron Gallo is a Nashville, TN-based singer/songwriter and guitarist, who is perhaps best known for his eight-year stint as the frontman of Philadelphia-based indie band Toy Soldiers, an act that initially began as a guitar and drum duo that at one point evolved into a massive 12 member collective, before settling into a quintet when the band split up in 2014. Gallo’s full-length effort Heavy Meta was released earlier this, and the album was primarily written while Gallo was still in Philadelphia, and while he was involved in a lengthy romantic relationship with a woman, who had a number of personal and emotional issues. As the story goes, when that relationship end, Gallo relocated to Nashville and finished writing the album during a period in which may arguably have been among the most transformative periods of his life, a period that he had felt was a personal reawakening and a musical rebirth.

At the time Gallo wrote and recorded songs in small batches without the intention of making a full-length album and initially without the support of a label. As Gallo explained in press notes “Coming out on the other side, I now look at my past as a hazy dream where I did not know myself or the world at all. I still don’t know anything, but I’m closer than before. There is so much to learn outside of your comfort zone.” The album’s material reportedly touches upon several themes including Gallo’s personal ideology on abstaining from drugs and alcohol, self-empowerment, domestication, dead love, not knowing yourself, mental illness and more — and although Gallo expresses a frustration with humanity and civilization, the material is balanced with an underlying hopefulness. Says Gallo, “this record comes from my frustration with humanity and myself, and from my wanting to shake us all. At my core, I’m compassionate for humanity and the sickness that we all live with, and from that comes something more constructive.” He ends by saying “Party is over — this is the beginning of true personal responsibility for ourselves and our world and so we must LIVE truth, be freaks, be fearless, be light, love and be our best selves.”

Now, as you may recall, I wrote about album single “Please Yourself,” a fuzzy and aggressive garage punk rock song consisting of fuzzy and distorted power chords, a propulsive backbeat and Gallo’s howled vocals expressing a wild urgency and frustration, as though the song’s narrator wants to violently shake everyone around him while screaming at them “Pay attention, you goddamn idiots! Stop fucking around and do something to make it right!” The album’s latest single “Put The Kids To Bed” finds Gallo and his backing band meshing jangling garage rock and psych rock while detailing the push and pull of  a hopelessly dysfunctional romantic relationship — and while rooted in an unvarnished and unflinching honesty, the song will further cement Gallo’s growing reputation for crafting incredibly hook driven rock. 

The recently released video for “Put The Kids To Bed” continues Gallo’s ongoing collaboration with director Joshua Shoemaker, and the visuals follow a dream-like logic, following Gallo as he heads to bed. Eventually a woman joins him and they place paper bags over their heads, symbolically trying to make their best face, despite a simmering hate between them. Whoa. 

Live Footage: Bilal and The Roots Perform Politically-Charged Single “It Ain’t Fair” on NPR Tiny Desk Concert

Currently comprised of founding members Tariq  “Black Thought” Trotter (vocals), Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson (drums), along with Kamal Gray (keys), “Captain” Kirk Douglas (guitar), Damon Bryson, a.k.a. Tuba Gooding, Jr. (sousaphone, tuba), Mark Kelley (bass), James Poyster (keys), Stro Elliot (production, sampling), The Roots can trace their origins back to when its founding duo met while attending The Philadelphia High School of the Creative and Performing Arts. As the story goes, Trotter and Thompson would busk on street corners — with Thompson playing bucket drums and Trotter rhyming over Thompson’s rhythms, and by 1989, the played their first organized gig at their high school’s talent show under the name Radio Activity.

After a series of name changes including Black to the Future and The Square Roots, the duo eventually settled on The Roots, after discovering that a local folk group went by The Square Roots.  As they were building up a local profile, the duo expanded into a full-fledged band with the addition of Josh “The Rubberband” Adams, who later went on to form The Josh Abrams Quartet; MC Malik Abdul “Malik B.” Basit-Smart, Leonard Nelson “Hub” Hubbard (bass); Scott Storch (keys); MC Kenyatta “Kid Crumbs” Warren, who was in the band for the recording sessions for Organix, the band’s full-length debut; and MC Dice Raw, who made cameos on later albums. And although the band has gone through a number of lineup changes since the release of their debut, The Roots throughout the course of their critically applauded, 10 independently released albums, two EPs and two collaborative albums have developed a reputation for a sound that effortlessly meshes live, organic instrumentation featuring a jazz, funk and soul approach with hip-hop, essentially becoming one of the genre’s first true bands. Additionally, throughout their lengthy history together, the members of The Roots have developed a long-held reputation for collaborating with a diverse and expanding list of artists across a wide array of genres and styles, revealing an effortless ability to play anything at any time.

Of course, unless you’ve been living in a remote Tibetan monastery or in a cave, The Roots have been the house band for NBC’s Late Night with Jimmy Fallon from 2009-2014 and for presently being the house band The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, further expanding their profile into the national and international consciousness. And while being extraordinarily busy, the members of The Roots have been busy working on their 9th Wonder and Salaam Remi-produced 17th full-length album End Game, as well as contributing a politically charged track to the Detroit soundtrack, “It Ain’t Fair,” a collaboration with the renowned soul singer/songwriter Bilal.

Born Bilal Sayeed Oliver, Bilal is a Philadelphia, PA-born, New York-based soul singer/songwriter, best known by the mononym Bilal. Throughout his career, he’s received praise for his wide vocal range, work across multiple genres, his live performances and for collaborating with the likes of Kendrick Lamar, Common, Erykah Badu, Jay-Z, Beyonce, Guru, Kimbra, J. Dilla, Robert Glasper, Esperanza Spalding, the aforementioned The Roots and others with his full-length debut 1st Born Second, which featured contributions from Soulquarians and production from Dr. Dre and J. Dilla being a commercial and critical success, peaking at number 31 on the Billboard 200 charts and receiving comparisons to Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, Sly & The Family Stone, Prince and Curtis Mayfield.  Although since then, the renowned singer/songwriter has developed an increasing reputation for his work becoming much more avant-garde and genre-defying.

Interestingly enough, Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson, Tariq “Black Thought” Trotter and Damon Bryson, a.k.a. Tuba Gooding, Jr. of The Roots and Bilal, along with a horn section went down to NPR Tiny Desk in Washington, DC to perform “It Ain’t Fair,” a deeply reflective song that thematically and lyrically makes a thoughtful nod towards Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On?, Syl Johnson’s Is It Because I’m Black? and others, as its creators unflinchingly and fearlessly call out a societal construct that denies a group of people the equality, dignity and decency that they too deserve. The song’s creators manage to empathetically offer a glimpse into the hearts and souls of those who love this country and would like to stand for the flag but simply can’t until the evils of inequality, racism and supremacy no longer exist — and when this great country actually lives up the ideals it claims it stands for. 

As I mentioned on Facebook, I was recently in Philadelphia for business related to my day job, and as I walked from my hotel in Center City through Old City, past The Liberty Bell and Independence Hall, I recognized that I was walking on many of the streets that the Framers once walked on, as I’ve done several times before. I could picture ol’ Ben Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, John Hancock, James Madison, Alexander Hamilton and so on, in their powered wigs and wool coats during that hot summer of 1776. And the song managed to remind me of the bitter and uneasy sadness I had begun to feel, remembering that the Framers, who could write about man’s inalienable rights given to him by God, didn’t see those same rights applying to anyone, who remotely looked like I do (or anyone, who wasn’t a man, or a property owner, etc.); that their independence, their revolution was never mine. The Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, the pledge allegiance to the flag just didn’t apply to me.

If I go back just five generations ago, my ancestors on both sides of my family were slaves. Five generations ago wasn’t that long ago in the overall scheme of things — we’re talking about the parents of my great-grandparents. And on the streets of the City of Independence, I thought of the unfathomable horror and suffering they went through to justify someone else’s desire to be superior — and naturally, the song reminds me quite a bit of a lifelong bitter pill that’s so very difficult to swallow. 

Comprised of Ben Nir Jacob (vocals, guitar), Yanniv Brenner (Guitar), Amit David (Bass) and Amir Reich (Drums), the up-and-coming Tel Aviv, Israel-based indie rock quartet Document can trace their origins back to 2008. As the story goes, once Jacob had finished college, he moved back to Tel Aviv and began hanging out with his cousin and couple of his friends, and as bored 20-somethings, who were the only ones in their age group listening to Wire, The Fall, Fugazi, Dinosaur, Jr. and others, they decided to start a band and to write and play music together. In their native Israel the indie rock quartet have developed a reputation for writing material that focuses on our obsessions with technology and our increasing disconnection with others, dealing with soulless bureaucracy and corruption, the seemingly endless banality of modern life, and the constant oscillating anxiety, outrage, hope and joy that many of us feel on a regular basis.
The Israeli band’s latest single “Hustle” off their forthcoming album The Void Repeats 
will further cement the band’s reputation for crafting material that focuses on modern, daily life — in this case, the sort of digital addiction that removes you from connecting with others or from being in the very moment; where a screen is an extension of one’s life. Interestingly enough, I couldn’t help but think of how I was sitting in a Center City, Philadelphia bar, chatting with two locals, who eventually stopped talking to me to Snapchat endlessly. As the band’s Nir Ben Jacob says of the song, “Phones are the roots that allow us to be connected to everything else. We‘ve rooted ourselves in our modernity. Our identities can change online. We project what we want others to see. The screen has become a mirror. The phone takes away the ability to be intimate, and you are left alone with a distortion of reality. There’s the addiction of immediate gratification, the online approvals are ‘pseudo-pleasure’. This has all led to pointless compulsive behaviour.”
Sonically speaking, the song is a scuzzy and angular post-punk single that’s clearly influenced by the likes of Wire and Gang of Four but it bristles with an ironic and incredibly post modern awareness while possessing incredibly tight, infectious hooks and a cool, self-assuredness beyond their relative youth.

 

New Video: Renowned French Electronic Act KCPK Releases a Cinematic and Surreal Video Focusing on the Tumult of Early Adulthood

KCPK is a French production and electronic music trio comprised of Alexandre Brovelli, Fabrice Brovelli and Christophe Caurret, best known as pioneers of the Rémoise electronic music scene with the likes of  Yuksek, Brodinski and The Shoes; for creating PANIK, a club night known for hosting Groove Armada, Laurent Garnier and Amon Tobin; for collaborating with Woodkid, The Chemical Brothers and Two Door Cinema Club; and lastly for their work in advertising as creative directors of renowned firm BETC. And if you were frequenting this site last year, you’d recall that “Who Wants It,” their collaboration with Philadelphia, PA-based emcee STS managed to bridge enormous, festival friendly, tweeter and woofer rocking house music with swaggering, braggadocio-fueled trap-like hip-hop in a way that felt mischievous and fresh. 
Along with that, the Nicolas Davenel-produced video was featured on The Creator’s Project, was nominated for Best International Urban Video at the UK Music Video Awards and was featured as the racing for Louis De Caunes’ video for Yves Saint Laurent’s Black Opium digital campaign. 

The French trio’s latest single “The End” is a propulsive and dare I say, arguably the most sensual and dance floor friendly songs they’ve released to date as it features razor sharp arpeggiated synths, a rousingly anthemic hook and breathily cooed vocals — and interestingly enough, the song and its production sounds as though it owes a debt to Giorgio Moroder, The Man Machine-era Kraftwerk and Daft Punk but with a hyper modern touch. 

Directed by Luc Besson’s former Steadicam operator Andrieu and Director of Photography, Nicolas Loir, who has worked with Woodkid, Ghostpoet and Snoop Dogg, the recently released video for “The End” is a cinematically shot one, that focuses on the tumultuous psyche of a teenaged girl as she struggles with a dysfunctional relationship with her mother and an unreciprocated romantic obsession, capturing the uneasy yet profound transition towards adulthood. Interestingly, the  video pays homage to several 90s coming of age movies through its use of props, fashion design and art direction — with live action footage meshed with visual effects by David Danesi. As the video’s director explains in press notes. “It’s a coming of age snapshot. At this stage, the rules get rewritten. Your eyes open to what lies beyond family and school. It is the first time you’re seeing yourself in the world, but emotional reactions overwhelm your ability to understand and cope. This is the end of innocence.”