By Lauren Gordon
“And now for something completely different…” the husky voice of tall, thin lead singer Nick Mehalick, 25, promises the crowd at Bordz Skate Park in Southampton.
With a drum stick in one hand, the other stroking the keys of the unofficial third band member, Cynthia the Synthesizer, a bull horn by his feet and his younger, self-taught 16-year-old guitarist brother, Mike, wielding his axe like he’d been playing longer than twice his lifetime… made the promise quite delivered.
It’s not easy to compare This Temper to anything else going on in the Philly local circuit, or mainstream music either. In fact, as cliché as it sounds, there really is nothing out their quite like this band of brothers, especially in terms of a live show. The best way to describe a performance in a word is explosive. As Nick sings transcendent lyrics, he rocks his drum kit so hard the show momentarily pauses so he can place a cinderblock in front of his bass drum.
While drumming and singing he plays Cynthia simultaneously. Both artists engage the crowd as well during theirperformance, Nick making his way into the crowd to free style lyrics to their song “The Romantic” to an entranced audience as Mike wails mercilessly on his guitar. The energy poured from the stage as on lookers tucked away in corners of the skate park weasel their way out to take a closer look at the undiscovered, local musical phenomenon.
At the end of the show, a box of free CD’s are placed at the bottom of the ramp off of the stage.
It’s a mad dash to grab a treasured freebie, and within seconds demos are swiped. Currently they’re working on developing album art which both Nick and Mike have created themselves, as well as diving into a hands-on experience with their entire production process. This Temper plans to bring their lively show across the country this summer, with dates already booked from New York to Chicago.
If you want to have an experience rather than see just another show, try to follow these brothers (literally) on their nationwide tour. It will surely be something completely different.
Rootsy, bluesy and soulful are all apt terms that could be applied to the eight-piece Philadelphia collective of musicians and friends known as Toy Soldiers. Listening to them, however, you can probably think of many more.
What began as a duo between lead vocalist and guitarist Ron Gallo and drummer Mike Baurer turned into a much larger project when Gallo employed the help of several more friends to play on their album in the studio.
“I guess they just never left,” Gallo joked. “We’ve been a big happy family since then.”
The group, which has included ten plus members for some live performances, released its debut LP, Whisper Down the Lane last fall. The smattering of influences that permeate the band’s sound include traditional country, folk, bluegrass, southern soul, delta blues and rock ‘n’ roll.
“Old-timey styles of music,” Gallo summed it up.
The group’s instrumentation often incorporates lively piano, banjo, acoustic guitar, brass instruments and a barrage of vocal harmonies. Gallo explained that the increased size of the band only aids its creativity.
“The addition of so much instrumentation has taken any limitation away that may have been there before,” Gallo said. “We can really go anywhere at this point, musically.”
Over the past month, Toy Soldiers have indeed gone somewhere: up and down the East Coast on a tour that will finish up tonight, back home.
Toy Soldiers. 9pm. Johnny Brenda’s. 21+. With The Great Unknown and TJ Kong and the Atomic Bomb.
For more on Toy Soldiers, visit ohnotoysoldiers.com.
Born and raised Philadelphia native Kurt Vile’s do-it-yourself grit fits perfect with the blue collar town he calls home.
The imaginative guitarist and songwriter, dubbed “Philly’s Constant Hitmaker,” has been working on finding unique sounds since he first picked up a banjo, and, later, a guitar. And with his brand new record Childish Prodigy (Matador), Vile may have found his mark.
The loud, pounding opener “Hunchback,” begins the album with a bang and the frenzied first single, “Freak Train,” showcases the unpredictable nature of Vile’s work. On the harmonica-infused groove “Inside Looking Out,” Vile’s volatile howling reminisces Jim Morrison over a distant jungle beat.
Deep cuts like “Blackberry Song” and “Overnite Religion” display Vile’s mastery of layered acoustic and electric guitars, which blend into a complex musical texture.
Prodigy is a complex web of songs, woven together into a tapestry of twisted brilliance from the mind of one of the most ingenious Philadelphia musicians. Perhaps unfortunately for Vile’s hometown fans, he may be on his way to bigger stages elsewhere.
Kurt Vile celebrates the release of his brand new album with a CD release show tonight, playing with his live band, the Violators, at Kung Fu Necktie in Fishtown. The show is set to start at 8 p.m. and tickets are $10.
Photo by Celeste Giuliano.
It’s impossible not to feel the excitement in Nancy Micciulla when talking to her these days.
With her first full-length, fully-produced LP in the finishing stages and a series of new musical opportunities opening up, the Philadelphia native has plenty of reason to be excited. She’s been plenty busy, too, tearing up the local open mic scene and performing most weekends with her cover band, Catch 22.
Micciulla (pronounced Mi-Chu-La) will release her debut album The One to Shine this spring, though it does not yet have a definite release date. Despite not having any formal record contract, she intends to promote the album on her own as best she can, through the use of online tools such as MySpace, Facebook and iLike, touring throughout the summer and by sending out press releases to Philadelphia publications. The songwriter’s new Web site, nancymicciulla.com gives her listeners the opportunity to pre-order the CD and receive advance digital downloads and other souvenirs. (more…)
Since it is towards the end of winter, it’s a surprisingly mild night in King of Prussia, which outside of the mall looks a lot like the middle of nowhere, . The two-floor home of two Rivers Monroe members would look like the home of the all-American family if not for the red sub-compact parked on the front lawn. Mike Reading, vocalist and rhythm guitarist of the power-pop quintet, opens the door revealing a slightly refined fraternity house interior and immediately offers a beer. Mike, in his home-for-the-night duds, a white hooded sweatshirt with white basketball shorts and sand-colored flip-flops, welcomes me as well as Mat Welch, on vocals and keyboard for the group, still wearing his yellow dress shirt and black slacks from his day job working in a government office. Shortly after the warm welcome, lead guitarist Matt Varga, known to Rivers Monroe as “Doc”, showed up also dressed in day job attire: a silk maroon shirt and tie with black slacks with freshly shined black dress shoes.
The two crooners and lead ax man recently hung out with me in their basement on their suede sectional couch, the 90s style (i.e. massive) flat-screen TV at a low hum and beers in hand to discuss their creative process, recent music video releases, some of their future goals and the Philadelphia scene today. Find out what they think after the break. (more…)