Pussy Riot’s Peter Verzilov is in critical condition at Moscow’s Bakhrushin City Clinical Hospital – possible poisoning. ‘First it was his vision, then his speech, and then his legs’ Pussy Riot member Pyotr Verzilov is hospitalized in critical condition and friends fear he was poisoned Pyotr Verzilov, a member of Pussy Riot and one of the publishers of the independent news website Mediazona, was hospitalized in critical condition late on September 11. His partner, Veronika Nikulshina, told Meduza that he’s started losing his sight, speech, and mobility. Pyotr Verzilov is currently receiving treatment at the toxicology wing of Moscow’s Bakhrushin City Clinical Hospital. Verzilov’s friends told Meduza that his mother came to the hospital on the evening of September 12, but staff wouldn’t let her see her son, and even refused to describe his condition or inform her about his preliminary diagnosis. “[At the hospital] they said they don’t have the right to disclose any information… They sent her away and were rude. They said they can’t admit her. They kept pointing at this sheet of paper, saying that they can’t disclose [any information] until the patient signs a release himself, but he’s unconscious,” Verzilov’s friend told Meduza. According to Nikulshina, Verzilov started feeling unwell shortly after a court hearing on Tuesday. At six in the evening, he laid down to rest. Two hours later, when Nikulshina got home, Verzilov “woke up and said he was starting to lose his sight.” “Between eight and ten, his condition got exponentially worse. First it was his vision, then his ability to speak, and then his ability to walk,” she told Meduza. “When the paramedics arrived, he answered all their questions, saying, ‘No, I didn’t eat anything. No, I didn’t take anything.’ He was getting worse even faster, and then he started convulsing. On the way [to the hospital], in the ambulance, he was already babbling. […] He fell into such a half-asleep, half-unconscious state that he stopped responding to me and didn’t even recognize me anymore,” Veronika Nikulshina told Meduza. Nikulshina says the doctors’ original analysis “didn’t turn up anything bad,” but around 1 a.m. they suddenly moved Verzilov to the hospital’s toxicology wing. Staff refused to tell her if he’d been diagnosed with “poisoning,” explaining that her status as his common-law wife “doesn’t entitle her to any rights.” “The doctor only said that his condition was serious, but his behavior was improving and he’d started responding to his own name,” Nikulshina said. Pyotr Verzilov became a public figure in Russia in the late 2000s as a member of the “Voina” artist-activist group, where he performed demonstrations with his then wife, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova. In 2012, Tolokonnikova, Maria Alyokhina, and Yekaterina Samutsevich became international celebrities when they were tried and convicted of “premeditated hooliganism performed by an organized group of people motivated by religious hatred or hostility.” During the trial, Verzilov presented himself as Pussy Riot’s “producer.” In this role, he helped generate global media attention for the group, recruiting dozens of world-famous musicians to pledge their support to Pussy Riot. In 2014, Tolokonnikova and Alyokhina established the news website Mediazona, with Verzilov as its publisher. Meduza article with Pussy Riot members as sources: https://meduza.io/en/feature/2018/09/12/first-it-was-his-vision-then-his-speech-and-then-his-legs Peter Verzilov’s twitter: https://twitter.com/gruppa_voina Pussy Riot’s twitter: https://twitter.com/pussyrrriot
by Zack “Ziggy” Merritt I know next to nothing about the amount of work it takes to write an album start to finish. I have an idea of the work involved having watched Kate Bush and David Bowie documentaries more times than I care to admit. Each band, each performer, has their own special process that gets analyzed and deconstructed in an interview after interview, but to live that experience is something different altogether and one that is hard to necessarily translate into words. That visceral experience, something internal and intangible, comes out in the music itself. For Don Babylon, former Richmond natives, now newly transplanted to Philadelphia, that music that is raw, unkempt, and subject to change on a whim. Strutting around a grey area between genre-bound and genre-less, their initial offering/debut, 2017’s Babe, was a whirl of sonic flavors. With a base layer of back-to-basics rock and roll mixed with a touch of humorous nihilism, each successive layer felt new yet familiar. It’s an album careful not to wear itself out. Now close to starting up a new tour and eager for the release of their follow-up, Foul, I had the chance to hear from vocalist, Aubrey Neeley, who spoke openly about the procession of the past few years, as well as their upcoming album and tour. It all started off with a brief account of how the three principal members (Aubrey Neeley, Leland Bickford, and David Gaither of Don Babylon came together. “Me and David were random roommates in college – our respective high school bands unknowingly played a show together so we ended up meeting a few weeks before move in,” wrote Neeley. “We felt obligated to start a band after jamming a bit. Leland joined a bit later but we really started coming into our own when he did.” With a trio in tow, it would be four years and a smattering of shows and EPs before their first full-length, Babe, would be released. You could lodge either criticism or praise at their decision to record a 10-track album of songs that run the gamut from a pastiche of outlaw country to a winding epic built up brick by precarious brick to a satisfying conclusion. “On Babe, I think the songs were kind of all over the place which makes sense – most of the record just consisted of songs we didn’t hate yet when we were recording,” admits Neeley, before divulging a bit more into Don Babylon’s sophomore release. “With Foul, when we were writing, we kept reminding each other to sort of reel it in – we tried to say a lot on Babe and I think, at points, it felt like we were over explaining the point. We tried to keep Foul more succinct and maybe uniform to a degree.” With its release date set for September 28, there’s an expectation that Neeley’s words will hint at something more cohesive and stitched together, but hopefully not lacking in the charm or their frankness that makes them so endearing. I’m not the only one to think so as one of their earliest superfans, Will Toledo of Car Seat Headrest fame, has given them justly deserved attention, even before his own signing to Matador in 2015. “One night, I drunkenly sent a very professional Facebook message to the Car Seat band page that read something to the effect of “‘Hey come play in Richmond it’ll be a good show [sic]’,” wrote Neeley of his first brush with the band 3 years ago. “The next day or so there was a post from the Band Page saying they were booking a show and for those who ‘knew who they were’ should contact them. We set up a show that turned out surprisingly well and we’ve been in touch every now and then since.” That relationship has also given them the odd luck of having that same mentioned epic from Babe, “Ow, My Tiny Heart” featured on the season finale to the Showtime series, Billions. Perhaps more crucial to their recent success and heavy touring, it also led to them signing with the London and New York-based indie label, Medical Records. I wanted, however, to revisit “Ow, My Tiny Heart” as it goes beyond just being background set dressing for whatever the hell Paul Giamatti is up to these days. It’s 10 minutes in length, yet unlike some of the more conceptually adventurous songs by 70s prog rock auteurs, Yes, it doesn’t sag in the middle or become bloated with a slog of noise. Instead, it’s a rambling venture through the frustration, anxiety, and depression that comes in the wake of a breakup. “I got dumped and spent a summer trying to write a breakup song that said everything I felt or could possibly feel about breakups so that I never have to do that again,” wrote Neeley on how the track came together. “We kept adding on here and there when I’d write more lyrics. I hit a wall with the ending – I was originally trying to end the song on a note of like ‘Hey, it’s time to move on’ and I spent so much time trying to do that until ‘why the hell am I even still writing this’ seemed more appropriate.” With a few tours, a few singles, and a few friends made along the way, Neeley and the rest of Don Babylon are poised to keep the flame of reinvention going with a new album and a new city to call home. “We moved to Philadelphia in February,” wrote Neeley on the recent relocation from Richmond to Philly. “The move was more symbolic for us than anything – we’d been playing together for a while and figured if we were serious about trying to make a living out of this band we’d have to go all in. Philadelphia itself has a much higher ceiling than Richmond, as well as proximity to other big cities where we could tour. It’s also cheaper […]
Crossing with Alejandro Escovedo By Brittany Rotondo Rating: Outlawed The latest release, The Crossing, is songwriting veteran Alejandro Escovedo’s mercurial storybook and sure to be the most quintessential of the veteran’s catalog, out today on Yep Roc Records. The 17-track album is appropriately parallel to current times and deals with immigration both of the heart and home. Literally and figuratively all over the map, The Crossing explores exile through feedback and familiarity. “’The Crossing’ has parts of everything I’ve done and everything I want to do,” Alejandro explains. “Lyrically, I say a lot of things I’ve never said, that I held back on…” Recorded at an Italian farmhouse with the all-instrumental band, Don Antonio, and co-produced by Brian Deck (Modest Mouse, Iron & Wine), this tell-tale testimony is superbly designed around the troubadour’s distinct and diverse tenure. Escovedo has played alongside the likes of Bruce Springsteen, The Sex Pistols, John Cale and on and on and… “This says more about me than any of my records without it being a record about me…” explains the songwriter. The album features sultry saxophone and plucking nylon strings, amongst thee as per usual gritty guitar work that’s trailed nearby since Escovedo’s early days with the punk-rock band, The Nuns. There’s also a modern look through Cohen-colored glasses on tunes like “Silver City,” a twinkling piano duet with Joe Ely. Another petal is album single, “Sonica USA,” which features the singer’s personal hero, MC5’s Wayne Kramer. The album cut, “Teenage Luggage,” sees Stooges Raw Power player, James Williamson, deliver another ode to the singer’s safety pinned past. The LP is already on the radar of Rolling Stone, Billboard, and National Public Radio (NPR), with NPR even dubbing it the ‘finest of his career.’ There’s a splash of punk and poet greats, Kerouac, Ginsberg and Octavio Paz, pale passes, lost innocence, identity and introspection, revelry and what feels like a universal jukebox overload. “We all become history when we make the Crossing…” I’m sure listening to this trip across oceans, you will be too. The Crossing is available for pre-order here: https://lnk.to/thecrossing Listen to the track, “Something Blue” from The Crossing below.
By Ziggy Merritt Back in 2014, the Hamburg-based and self-described “dream punk” outfit, Seasurfer, arrived on their local scene with their debut LP, Dive In. Formed by Dirk Knight of Dark Orange fame, the roots of the group’s experience and sound are planted deep into the earth of the early 90s when things like dream pop and shoegaze were still in full swing before their dormancy throughout the rest of the decade and resurgence in the mid to late 2000s. This is a long and roundabout way of previewing the sound and style of their latest EP, Vampires, a back-to-basics approach that doesn’t tire out by assaulting the senses in a wave of glossolalia and reverb but gives something of a retrospective of what makes those genres, dream pop, and shoegaze, addictive. Each track is a little bit different in its approach to the all-too-broad genre of dream pop. A dollop of darkwave here and a pinch of hypnagogic pop there give dimension to Vampires. It doesn’t escape comparison to some of the stalwart titans of the late 80s and early 90s, namely broad strokes of Cocteau Twins and Slowdive, but it manages to sound fresh, more unique in the push to perhaps not even break new ground but do something interesting with a well-worn palette. You have your Cocteau Twins callback in “Bring Me His Head.” Here vocalist, Apolonia, has a way of curling her vocals around the intense atmosphere that recall the more lucid meanderings of Elizabeth Fraser. “Into Dust” and “Sad Song” both bring to mind some of the lighter offerings from modern darkwave projects such as Drab Majesty and Them Are Us Too as well as the more classic and mirthful sound of Lush. This latest EP may not have the grip and bite as some of Seasurfer’s more full-length offerings, but whatever Vampires lack in its staying power it makes up for in excess with personality and production that doesn’t overwhelm or bore. Buy Vampires on Bandcamp
By Ashley Paskill Nashville indie rockers Daniel Ellsworth and the Great Lakes released their latest album, Fashion, on August 24, 2018. The album was recorded over the course of a year at Nashville’s Elephant Lady Studios. Songs from the album were released as Chapter One and Chapter Two, and Fashion is the complete album. The album was produced, engineered, and mixed by Kyle Andrews and mastered by Steve Fallone. It is being released via Color Party Records. The band formed in Nashville in 2010 and released their first full-length album in 2011. Fashion is the band’s fourth album. The band is made up of Daniel Ellsworth on keys and lead vocals, Timon Lance on guitar, and Marshall Skinner on bass. The band experiments with a variety of sounds and mixes, pulling each song off with grace and talent. From the first note of “Paralyzed,” electronic influences are present on Fashion. The song goes on to include rock-sounding guitars and drum while keeping an electronic sound throughout. The intervals between notes resemble the feeling of being paralyzed with lyrics adding a voice to the feeling. The song has a surface level meaning of literally being paralyzed, but it can also be taken on many other levels, depending on the listener’s perceptions. While the same electronic rock sound remains consistent through the rest of the album’s 12 songs, the songs are all different. They experiment with different rhythms and mixes of sounds in each song. Though some songs are more serious than others, there are no super-slow songs. Instead, the songs use tone and various rhythms to get the mood of the song across. Overall, the album is relatable, echoing real life. This song has a wide variety of feelings, from party pop songs that make you feel like dancing to more mellow songs that are never overly sad or wallowing in self-pity. The range of the vocals and the versatility of the instrumentalists shows the true talent that is hard to come by in an age of digital manipulation and using technology as a crutch for talent.
By Geno Thackara You can’t help admiring how Church Girls bring out the sunny side of whatever they do. Mariel Beaumont’s songs aren’t always themed around pleasant things, but she and this Philly crew clearly have enough fun making music together that it all comes out spunky and contagious. The hooks make sure there’s always something to grab the ears through this appetizing bite of lo-fi indie-folk-punk, and her vocal delivery even makes lines like “I’ll crash my plane into yours and we’ll go down together” sound as inviting as a picnic. Whether these tunes are full of hard-chugging guitars or soaked in clouds of chiming reverb (or what the hell, sometimes both), there’s a melody to follow and probably a theme anyone can relate to their own life somewhere. The band isn’t opposed to tossing in a little horn or vibraphone for a dash of extra flavor. They spin personal angst into driving road tunes with the jangle-pop of “Just Like You” and the deceptively peppy title track, while “Dead Wood” makes a particularly sweet highlight midway through, grooving on bouncing bass and spring sunshine before the heavy fuzz kicks in again. It inevitably feels over too soon – not just because Home caps off at a tidy 15 minutes, but because Church Girls clearly have more thoughts to sing and stories to share. Diving into their back catalog makes a good next step, and any more of these tasty morsels down the road will be most welcome. Rating: Charming Church Girls Upcoming Tour Dates September 19 – Brooklyn, NY @ Alphaville September 20 – Montclair, NJ @ Boontunes September 21 – Lancaster, PA @ The Kaleidoscope September 22 – Pittsburgh, PA @ Cafe Verona September 24 – Elyria, OH @ Blank Slate September 25 – Toledo, OH @ The Ottawa Tavern September 27 – Muncie, IN @ Be Here Now September 28 – Indianapolis, IN @ Sexx Mansion September 29 – Murfreesboro, TN @ The Crossroads at Trenzilore October 1 – Nashville, TN @ Radio Cafe October 2 – Asheville, NC @ Sly Grog October 3 – Roanoke, VA @ Leftovers Find Church Girls on social media: Facebook • Twitter • Instagram
by Jenn Kelly Many bands struggle to come up with something fresh to say on a fifth album after working together intermittently for over a full decade. Ava Luna does not have this problem. They have collectively produced an unearthly, comfort-zone destroying album with their latest release, Moon 2, that sounds like it could be at home on Jabba’s luxury sail barge on Tatooine with ambitious concepts of reality. Ava Luna, a genre-fluid septet from Brooklyn, offers up a synth-laden album of subtle chaotic energy and mellifluous persuasions in form of Moon 2 (out now on Western Vinyl). The group labored and birthed this album in several different locations during the Fall and Winter of 2017, staked out in three distant locations: Vermont, Wilming and Hull, Massachusetts. While this album could be viewed as a more subtle endeavor sonically than their previous works, it demonstrates a more collaborative expierience. While exploring fantasy concepts and the idea of an ephemeral utopia, Ava Luna still manages to have a foot in reality. A lot of the album’s vocals pull from chant like inspiration or communal singing. It’s as much a study in the band evolving as collective music makers as it is in fantasy. The group dynamics have evolved in the group and the fresh collaborations and fewer harmonies than in previous endeavors work. Moon 2 plays like an electric collection of ideas and different point of views, lulling the listener into a trippy groove, before pulling the proverbial rug out from under and changing directions, giving way to dissonance. Upbeat, percussion-driven “Deli Run” recounts the events of a weekend past for a friend who couldn’t make it out. It’s a track with shimmering electronics and 80’s style funk guitar that pays homage to the New York house party culture and FOMO. While in contrast, songs like “Set It Off” boldly treads into pop territory that feels more familiar. The listener is transported in another direction by the title track’s documentation of the up and down swings of a crush paired to the backdrop of reggae-infused bass and chirping synths. The project is experimental, intelligent, intergalactic and pretty darn catchy. As a listener, you are never exactly sure where the album is going to take you, but you are definitely here for it.
Wilmington, DE’s self-deprecating romantic, pop-rock duo, RKVC, debuts a brand new track, “Wrong Things, Right People,” a fun and infectious pop-rock song that you can sing along to. The duo exclusively shared the song’s lyric video with us. Watch the video below and let us know what you think! Other YouTubers and musician friends offered their opinions on the duo’s first new music in two years. Watch below to see their reactions.
New Jersey’s rising pop star Taylor Tote is back with a brand new single, “This Ain’t Love,” and lyric video. The song, she says, was written after getting out of a long-term relationship last year. “I started going out a lot more often and noticed the way people were ‘dating.’ A lot of my friends had people they were just ‘hooking up’ with and nothing more. Of course, someone always falls in love and wants something more, while the other person could care less,” Tote explains. “The way some people are trying to get attention and love from another person isn’t really the loving and respectful way of either person in the ‘relationship’ [hence the line in the bridge], ‘If you wanted love you should’ve handled me differently’…” Taylor and her band just announced an upcoming show on October 6 at the Asbury Lanes, the hottest new concert venue in Asbury Park, NJ. It is an all-ages show, but anyone 16+ must have a parent/guardian with them. The show will feature local duo Nalani & Sarina, Pepperwine, and the Taylor Tote Band. Doors are at 7:00 PM and the show begins at 8:00 PM. Advanced tickets are $12 and $15 at the door. The new music has been well-received by the media including Michael S. Golub, both a devoted fan and ‘volunteer’ publicist. “Taylor Tote brings the communicative elements of imagery, emotion, and music to the fore in a most unique way,” Golub begins. “Taylor’s strong sense of self-worth and honesty manifesting itself in lyrics that depict a self-empowered modern woman holding on to traditional values. She makes a provocative admission of fact to herself and comes to the conclusion that her future relies on her first having the courage to be truthful with herself..” He adds “Her passion for being a storyteller pours out from her words, expressions and the robust manner in which the message unfolds through the use of dramatic photography and provocative text. Taylor effectively uses the inflections of her voice and the cadence of rhythm to welcome the listener into the recesses of her heart, exposing the burden she bares [sic] and the vivid confession that becomes the very fuel for the storyline.” Tote speaks “to the universal themes that have become the woven fabric of the lives of many young women, and at the same time, the underlying narrative is one of liberation, hope, and release. Her careful choice of language evolves into a most formidable force, that ultimately establishes a texture unto itself. We have come to know Taylor better through the use of her well-honed ability to captivate and capture the sympathy of her fans, with an almost effortless skill and intuitive insight. “This bright and talented burgeoning entertainer is still in the sunrise of her career, and yet her poise and demeanor is one that would suggest that an “old soul” has come to take up residence in her young mind, body, and soul,” Golub notes. “In the weeks, months and years that will follow the release of this video, Taylor’s career will gradually pick up a significant amount of momentum. She will rise to the strata of a true self-made superstar and still remain grounded and humble. Simply stated, she has to…” “This is her destiny and the rendezvous with her future. As her inspiring stage presence and aura appreciates, not only in scope and size but also depth and detail, the threads of her thoughts will be placed upon the loom of her heart and thus result in the creation of some of the most vibrant and innovative songwriting we have yet to see. As she moves onto other projects and engages in expanding the spectrum of her resources & assets, we will be granted the opportunity to occupy a special vantage point to not only witness the maturation of an artist embracing her chosen craft, while coming into the full bloom of her life, but we in turn with be made more whole and warmed to our core. Taylor walks her own path forward and her fans will be drawn to simply follow the radiant glow of promise of her message as it seeps through the dense forestation of life’s challenges and obstacles. It is Taylor herself that lights the way ahead.” The new single was written by Tote and produced and engineered by multi-platinum and Grammy-nominated engineer, David Ivory, of Ivory Productions. The band features Taylor Tote (lead/background vocals), Nick Ryan (guitar/vocals), Tom Briant (guitar/vocals), Aaron Manzo (bass), and Anthony Flora (drums). Taylor’s Website • Facebook • ReverbNation
by Ashley Paskill Philadelphia natives Oldermost released their latest album, How Could You Ever Be The Same?, today via Antifragile Records. This album is the band’s fourth release and features a collection of a few previously released tracks as well as new music. The album has a more classic rock feel to it [than previous releases]. The first two songs could be categorized as more soft rock, but “The Danger of Belief” is more upbeat. Think a combination of U2, Tom Petty, and Bruce Springsteen, with hints of these musicians coming through on each song. The album feels strangely cozy, familiar and homely, while also transporting listeners to a new place. The track “Finally Unsure” is the only song where the production is a bit muddy. The vocals compete with the instrumentals at many points, making the lyrics a bit difficult to pick up at those moments in the songs. The rest of the album is solid and clear, making the other parts excusable. On “Play By The Rules,” it’s the only song that is a bit more modern, but even the echo resembles the effects used by U2. The lyrics of each song avoid cliches. Each word paints a line, and the lines all come together to paint a painting that transports a listener to a specific scene in the songwriter’s life. The similes and metaphors illustrate events in such a way that each song is accessible to many, despite what you get out of the song. Despite some muddy instrumentals, this album is a must-listen for fans of 70s-80s rock music. In a world filled with musicians experimenting with electronic sounds and unrealistic lyrics, it is refreshing to hear a band go back to the roots of classic rock while putting their own sound and story into the mix. Rating: Refreshingly nostalgic Facebook • Twitter • Instagram • Spotify • Soundcloud • iTunes