PHOTOS: Independence Drive at the WSCI Radio Summer Concert Series

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With August drawing to a close, WSCI Radio hosted Independence Drive for the final show in its 2016 Summer Concert Series on Saturday afternoon.

The three-piece, who fuse styles like alternative, funk, and reggae, set the mood right for another beautiful Saturday afternoon in Bethlehem, creating a laid-back vibe by way of some summery tunes.

The show was also the second performance for Independence Drive’s new bassist, Art Rivell, who meshed well together with drummer Ryan Mangle and frontman/band founder Ian Althouse. Althouse, who handles the band’s guitar duties, showcased impressive technical skill throughout the set, which consisted of new, unreleased tracks and older selections.

Thanks to WSCI Radio for having us out once again. Don’t forget to check out the station’s New York City bus trip with Blacktop Mojo on Sept. 8.

WSCI Radio Sponsors Sept. 8 Blacktop Mojo Bus Trip to NYC

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Up-and-coming Texas hard rockers Blacktop Mojo are playing in New York City on Thursday, September 8, and Bethlehem’s WSCI Star City Indie Rock Radio wants to make sure you can get there.

WSCI is sponsoring a bus trip to New York next Thursday, providing fans of Blacktop Mojo with the ultimate meet and greet experience in celebration of the band’s trip to the Northeast. Fans will get to hang out with Blacktop Mojo as they ride into the city with the band, starting with the trip’s departure from WSCI’s Studio 73 – 1667 Woodfield Dr. in Bethlehem – at 2 p.m. The bus will head to the World Trade Center 9/11 Memorial, and will then make its way to The Red Lion, located at 151 Bleecker St. in Greenwich Village, to catch Blacktop Mojo’s 8 p.m. performance.

Tickets are $40 and include admission to the evening’s show. The bus will fill on a first-come, first-served basis. For more information, check the event out on Facebook or call (484) 387-8191.

Review: Casual – “Grip the Grass”

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casual1In our post-post-(post?)-modern era of digital proliferation, the output of any given genre is diluvian, threatening to wash over even the most astute listener and leave only an arm reaching above the wave in some last silent plea for a life-preserver, or otherwise keeping them stranded in the middle of an endless blue sea, waiting for the doves they sent out to find a landmass to rest on in the form of a new Arms Aloft LP or that Frank Ocean record everyone is stoked on. Personally, the number of bands I LOVE releasing new music this year can only possibly be eclipsed by the number of bands releasing new music that I would love if I only took the time to listen to them, or had them recommended to me by a friend, or otherwise stumbled across a review of their newest release on some humble music blog.

Ahem.

What I’m getting at here is that, no matter how well you manage to stay on top of new releases, there’s always going to be some band, in some rural town somewhere half the span of the globe away from you, releasing a banger that you’ll be lucky to hear three years hence when you’re going down some late-night bandcamp wormhole, or you saw they got added to Fest. It’s cool if you’re a music fan – discovering a new band that caters to your aesthetic sensibilities can and should be an awesome, regenerative experience. For musicians, I’d imagine it’s different – though, I haven’t done my due diligence and asked any of the ones I know. Nobody fades into obscurity anymore; they just toil in it. The path to success and acclaim may have always been arbitrary, but in 2016, it’s damn senseless.

Casual is one of those long-running suburban punk projects that anyone marginally involved in the north Jersey punk scene should rightfully know about, but whom might have escaped the attention of people in an adjacent area like the Lehigh Valley, despite being Square of Opposition alums. Based in Flemington – where they spend a good portion of their time helping to make the area’s music and arts scene thrive by running the Flemington DIY community spot at 90 Main – the fam in Casual are veterans of the mid-aughts fermentation of the shift in punk aesthetic that began in the 90s with bands like Jawbreaker and Samiam. 

Their new six-song EP “Grip the Grass” is an example of tight songwriting and stylistic mastery, to the point where it may – in the short term – actually be detrimental to their increased exposure. That may read as some kind of backhanded diss, but actually, it is a high compliment.

Consider it through the case of this unsolicited analogy I’ve prepared. In total, I don’t know a lot about sports, but specifically in terms of hockey, I know a fair amount. One of the things you come to understand once you’ve watched a good deal of hockey is that the players on the ice who are structurally doing the best job are the ones the lay-fan will almost never notice. The average viewer watching from the stands or from home notices the players who make mistakes, the ones who go out of position to lay a thunderous hit on an opponent but leave a key patch of ice undefended in the process, or the ones who deviate from the coach’s style in order to score highlight reel goals. The players who stay in position, stay out of the penalty box, and try to work within the team’s system rather than make heroic individual efforts – they rarely have their names called by the play-by-play announcer, and your general, passive hockey fan might mistake their quality gamesmanship for lack of ability when, in fact they’re doing everything right.

That, my friends, is the band Casual. They know exactly how to write a solid punk jam, and they do it exceedingly well over the course of six tracks and just over ten minutes. It’s almost clinical, the way these songs are arranged and performed. It’s the kind of collection of songs that someone who listens to punk records all day might put on and absentmindedly enjoy without really connecting to. At the same time, though, I like to envision a kid out there – not yet jaded and burnt out by too many Spotify playlists, or being knocked down in the pit, or by their friend giving them a cruddy Hot Water Music stick-n-poke – who is going to hear “Grip the Grass” in a few years and have their wig split by how efficiently catchy it is. 

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Recorded at In the West in New Brunswick on old-school half-inch analog tape, “Grip the Grass” sounds as much like a 90s release as it often feels. I know snobs –  *cough*Kev*cough* – that beef with any new release that isn’t some beautifully-layered, digital artifice, but I know I’m not alone in finding Casual’s throwback methodology charming. Yes, the riffs are buried in the mix a bit, but think of how good it feels when you listen to a song with hard to understand lyrics over and over until you finally figure what the heck they’re actually saying. Listening to a song like the EP’s opener “Smoked Spitely” multiple times, until you realize they’re absolutely slaying that guitar lead after the first verse, can be a similarly gratifying experience. 

For fans of quick and catchy, bass-driven punk songs with lyrics that tackle the archetypal topics of the modern genre – such as feeling like an out-of-place weirdo in social circumstances, and having trouble maintaining interpersonal relationships – 2016 is a killer year with a lot to be stoked about. Don’t let Casual fly under your radar. Bump their jams on the way to your community college class or while you deliver bread to convenience stores at 4 AM (or whatever it is you do). If you’re local, check out one of the shows at 90 Main in Flemington.

STAND OUT TRACKS: “Vacation (From Ourselves)”, “Smoked Spitely”, “Dying Lawns Insisting on Being Watered”

JingerKroa Set to Launch their Debut EP, “Admit One”

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JingerKroa, one of Pennsylvania’s top rock artists, is set to launch their new EP, “Admit One,” to follow up on their first demo album, “Pick A Prize.”. The unique four-piece rock band, conceived in 2011, has promised to again deliver a unique blend of rock to hard rock sounds, saturated with memorable hooks, harmonious riffs, chest pounding rhythms and irrepressible vocal orchestrations.

“We are excited about the response to our earlier released single, ‘Slaughterhouse,'” drummer Mikestro said. “The entire band has worked really hard since our debut album, and we can’t wait to give our fans more of what they love — pure and original rock.”.

This EP is produced by Dave Reiser of Hard Rock Studios, an assistant under Eddie Kramer (Led Zeppelin, David Bowie, The Rolling Stones, Carlos Santana). With thick layers of high-energy instrumentation and fronted by J.Goth’s trademark style and signature voice, the album promises to rock the world.

“This is an EP that rocks the soul and uplifts the spirit within the listener,” said J.Goth. “’Admit One’ is totally contagious, and you will surely crave more of it after the first listen. It is a sickness with no antidote. This is the genius of JingerKroa.”

The four-piece band, consisting of J.Goth, Mikestro, Unkl Nicky (guitar), and HillBilly (bass), has exploited its members’ diversified musical backgrounds, uniting their creativity to bring a new sound to the rock genre. J.Goth’s unique style also gives the band a musical paintbrush that delivers a heavy dose of authority for intense power chords, as well as a solemnness in more sensitive moments.

To stay up to date on JingerKroa’s EP release and 2017 tour dates, connect with the band at www.JingerKroa.com.

Five ‘Backyard’ Bands to Take the Stage at the Great Allentown Fair

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This coming Wednesday, August 31, WZZO will return to the Great Allentown Fair for its 28th Annual Backyard Bands Competition… and the Valley’s Rock Station has selected quite a lineup!

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Danielle DuBois, bassist for Another Day Dawns, who will perform at WZZO’s Backyard Bands Competition on Wed., Aug. 31.

Local acts Acoustic Kitty Project, Another Day Dawns, The Beautiful Distortion, Monoceros, and September Silence will take the RCN Farmerama Theater stage at the Allentown Fairgrounds beginning at 8 p.m. that night for a chance to win more than $6,500 in prizes. Music industry professionals will also be on-hand, making this a huge opportunity for five local bands looking to take their careers to the next level.

When reached for comment, Acoustic Kitty Project frontman Carter Lansing explained to LVU that he has long coveted the opportunity to showcase his and his band’s abilities on the Backyard Bands stage.

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Acoustic Kitty Project frontman Carter Lansing.

“I spend a lot of time trying to avoid judges. This time, they’re alright with me,” Lansing said. “I’ve wanted to play this gig for probably 23 years, and I’m thrilled that they like my music enough to put me in the running with these other great bands!”

Stay tuned to LVU on Facebook for live video from the event, and be sure to check in with LehighValleyUnderground.com for photos and a full recap next Thursday!

Review: Husbandry – Nature vs. Nurture

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Brooklyn post-hardcore darlings Husbandry are set to unleash their debut LP Fera this Friday (8/24), and are heading out on a weekend tour that includes — of all places — a stop in Easton on the eve of album’s release.

Husbandry — whose previous Valley appearance was an all-ages weekday show at The Slope in Nazareth in April — will be celebrating Fera‘s release at Mother’s Bar & Grille with support from other out-of-town hardcore acts Chaotic Meltdown and Faceplant. If the order of bands on the Facebook event page is to be believed, local metal act Buzzherd will be closing the show.

“Nature vs. Nurture” is the second single off of the new record, and prominently features the kind of shredding guitar licks and energetic vocal performance that you would hope for. The accompanying images are intentionally dream-like and surrealistic in a way that evokes those old weirdo short flicks Luis Buñuel and Dali used to make. Check out the video below, get hyped, and come party on Friday!

DJ Pearlman of REVEL 9 to Join The Quinn Spinn Live Season Premiere!

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To usher in the Facebook Live era of The Quinn Spinn, Lehigh Valley Underground is honored and privileged to announce long-time Good Friend of the Show DJ Pearlman as the first guest of our official podcast’s new season on Monday, September 19 at 6 p.m. ET.

You might know DJ from Long Island-based hard rock juggernaut REVEL 9, and followers of The Quinn Spinn will recognize him for a number of reasons. Not only is DJ always a fun interview – here’s proof – but his band’s song, “All I’ve Become,” has kicked off every piece of Quinn Spinn programming in existence since September 2014.

DJ’s upcoming appearance on the show also comes at the perfect time: REVEL 9 will be entering the Lehigh Valley on Saturday, September 24 to once again perform at Slatington Bike Night. Taking place from 12-8 p.m. and sponsored by our good friends at The Fyre & Ice Show, Slatington Bike Night promises to feature food, fun and, of course, awesome music. LVU will be in attendance all day long. So really, DJ’s interview on The Quinn Spinn’s season premiere is just the start of a wild week for us!

Make sure you like The Quinn Spinn on Facebook so you don’t miss the action. And, of course, visit our friends at The Valley Ledger for being such Good Friends (and sponsors) of the Show.

Review: John Hufford – Person

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Artist: John Hufford
Album: Person (LISTEN)
Released: 2014
Genre: Indie/Folk Rock

John Hufford is the quintessential indie folk artist: just a guy and his guitar, telling stories of love and life. This is reflected brilliantly on Hufford’s 2014 release, “Person.”

Hufford’s guitar work is mostly minimalist on the five-track effort, opting instead to place emphasis on the stories and imagery brought forth in his lyrics. A song like “This Lethal Edge” is a perfect example, as its picking intro leads the listener to focus on the dangerous love Hufford speaks. “To Know the Deeper You” drives this style home further, as it presents Hufford’s longing curiosity to learn about and relate to the object of his affection.

Another bright spot – in a literal and figurative sense – is album closer “Your Hand is in Mine (Freedom).” This is a distinctly more upbeat tune, perhaps with the intent of capturing the wonderment and liberation of being alongside the one you love.

Track listing:
Hideaway
Fire
This Lethal Edge
To Know the Deeper You
Your Hand is in Mine (Freedom)

Can’t-Miss Shows of the Week: Aug. 22-28

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Live music in the Lehigh Valley can take on a life of its own in any given week. Take this past Saturday, for example. We thought we’d just innocently head to a ribbon cutting and hear some jazz in Allentown, and it ended up being a Super Saturday triple-header ranging from country rock to hardcore!

With that, know that there’s plenty of adventure in store once again, including our latest…

Can’t-Miss Shows of the Week!

Fri., Aug. 26 | 8 p.m.
Farewell to Summer
Venue:
Spin Me Round Records, 1200 U.S. 22, Phillipsburg, NJ
Admission: FREE
Description: Elijah.the.Fly, Willing Tibet, Chasing Down Sunset, and Houston & the Dirty Rats are featured during this in-store, end-of-summer bash.

Fri., Aug. 26 | 10 p.m.
Carter Lansing
Venue: Stoke Coal Fire Pizza, 1 Lehns Ct., Easton
Admission: FREE
Description: As you re-enter PA, grab a slice and listen to the Acoustic Kitty Project frontman.

Sat., Aug. 27 | 1 p.m.
The Stoop w/ Percolator, Seoul Delhi, Stay at Home Dad, Duke Maroon, and more!
Venue:
1953 Township Line Road, Blue Bell
Admission: $5
Description: Eleven performers in all highlight another special day at the Philly-area DIY venue.

Sat., Aug. 27 | 9 p.m.
Steel City Sunrise

Venue: TD Community Stage on the Air Products Townsquare, 101 Founders Way, Bethlehem
Admission: FREE
Description: Bethlehem’s original energetic folk rock band returns to SteelStacks.

LVU Super Saturday: Going Hardcore with Tape Swap Radio

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Last night, I concluded Super Saturday by heading over to Bethlehem’s historic Ice House for the final concert of the summer in Tape Swap Radio’s IceHouse Tonight series. The night featured four hardcore bands — Swimmers Lungs, Manbeast, Tile, and Couch Slut — making for, frankly, the heaviest night of music I’ve ever experienced.

Last night’s show, as well as all of Tape Swap Radio’s efforts, was completely DIY and took a village to make a reality. The series was started by local residents Matt Molchany (whom you might know as the frontman of indie rock band Voirvoir) and Shamus McGroggan. The pair, as well as a host of local musicians and music supporters, make it their mission to showcase a different genre at each Tape Swap Radio show.

I also found it interesting to learn that Tape Swap Radio does more than produce live events. Tape Swap is also a music and video series that exclusively features DIY and independent bands. The show airs every other Friday at 11 p.m. on 88.1 WDIY FM, the Lehigh Valley’s NPR station.

On behalf of Lehigh Valley Underground, I want to send congratulations to Tape Swap Radio for a job well done on last night’s show, and a sincere “Thank You” for their efforts in making our music scene that much more vibrant. You can learn more about Tape Swap Radio online and on Facebook.