Exit Music (for a Blog): Thanks and goodbye from Noise Narcs

As you, our single digit readers, may have noticed, our posting has “slowed.” Although I’ve had a ton of fun writing about music, bands, and Philadelphia for the past year and a half, Noise Narcs will no longer be regularly updated. At the very least, this site will stay active in its current form until the end of the year, and then I’ll move it to cheaper (read: free) hosting, where it will live in semi-retirement, gathering moss and making future generations snicker. Like a Geocities X-Files fansite. It’s likely that there will be a few more sporadic posts, as whim strikes us, over the next few months. And the site will live on as a portal for our friendly Best Album of the Year poll.

So thank you. Thank you readers. Thank you to all the bands who submitted music. A special thank you to all the bands who submitted who didn’t suck (a surprisingly large percentage).

A big thanks to all the bands who endured our awkward interviews: Jeremy Barnes of A Hawk and a Hacksaw, Incan Abraham, Work Drugs, Bridge Underwater, Drew from Blood Feathers, The Eeries, and Grubby Little Hands.

Thank you to our loyal contributing narcs: Christopher “I know how spell psychedelic” T, Cydney “Music to dance/read/write to” A, Billy “I actually know things about music” L, Greg “I’m confused about The National” W, Matt “Gaga” K, Trent “amazing Italian video” W, my brother Aaron “I teach the children of rock stars” G, Katherine “I’m adorable about talking about how I don’t know anything about music but still am willing to post” H, Kenny “stills owes a Mog post” R, Andrew Mattey from Cozy Galaxies, Matt “What’s PBR&B?” S, Miya “Dairyland” T, and Dave “Ugly Furniture” B. And thanks to all of you who contributed to our year end lists: I hope you’ll keep doing it.

Thanks to all of our commenters. At the most spiteful and banal, you made us feel read. At your best, you made us feel challenged, intrigued, and appreciated.

Our sincere gratitude to the bands who played our show in March: Cozy Galaxies, Bridge Underwater, and Grubby Little Hands. You guys killed it, and I’m excited to hear where you guys will be going next.

Thanks to MOG, who ran our advertising. And I say this with all impartiality, if you love music, you should subscribe. Their pitch-perfect streaming has changed, permanently, the way I listen to music. So one last heartfelt advertisement: .

Penultimately, a few shoutouts to a few highlights among the Noise Narc features and posts:

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Filing the Bar-Kays’ “A Hard Day’s Night”

File under, music I want to follow me from bar to bar on a long, bingeful night: Bar-Kays, “A Hard Day’s Night” (1968). Also file under: Friday Night. Also see: the entirety of the wonderful Stax-Volt: The Complete Singles 1959-1968.

The Bar-Kays, “A Hard Day’s Night”

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Stream Man Man’s Life Fantastic

Do you like Philadelphian music? Do you like neo-circus (nu-circus?) music? Do you like bands with names like The The, Duran Duran, the Go-Gos, and Talk Talk? Do you have a thing for streaming an album before it’s released? Oh, or a blistering dose of delicious musical explosive weirdness?

Then you’d be wise to jump over to Stereogum to listen to Man Man’s Life Fantastic: Stream.

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Yellow Humphrey: Perfect weather music

Yellow Humphrey's Featherweights

If you’re in Philly, you’re experiencing what the Bay Area experiences 200+ days a year: absolutely perfect weather. In Philly, we get 10 of these. In a good year.

Is it any coincidence that Yellow Humphrey are having a record release show for their debut Featherweights on such a perfect day? Leadsinger Gretchen Lohse first sent me “Low Roses” on April 4th (high 79°, no humidity), and I complained bitterly about having to listen to its thrilling, vernal charms on a beautiful day… in an office. And Featherweights really is the perfect complement to a gorgeous spring day: as light as the title, a folkcountry touch, Gretchen dancing around notes like Zooey Daschenal with the fullness of Neko Case, and a fulsome ratio of the melancholy that all liminal seasons contain. One day, spring too shall pass.

So take note, Philadelphia: you only have eight days of perfect weather left. And quite a few of them should be spent with Yellow Humphrey.

Yellow Humphrey, “Low Roses” [Pay what you want at Bandcamp]

Yellow Humphrey w/ Young Nick Krill & Magic Mike and Eliza Hardy-Jones (of Buried Beds and Spinto Band)
Friday, April 29, 2011 TONIGHT
Johnny Brenda’s, 1201 N Frankford Ave, Philadelphia
$10 [Tickets]

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Turkeys, Hamm’s, and Pepperoni Eyes: Personal & The Pizzas at the Knockout

Between 2/26 and March 7, two Narcs were out vacationing working on a piece on Portland’s and San Francisco’s music scene. This second of three parts finds our young adventurers in search of San Francisco’s best New Jersey-style pizza.

Knockout flyerIt’s always a nice surprise: You go to a show to see one band, but another band on the bill gives such a killer performance that the other sets pale in comparison, and you wonder why you weren’t there to see that band all along.

During Noise Narcs’s visit to San Fran back in early March, we hopped on a bus on a Wednesday night and headed down to Bernal Heights to hit up a show at the Knockout. It’s a no-frills dive bar & venue, with the bar and the stage/dancefloor separated by a cut-out wall. A tight grid of album covers adorns the top section of the bar side of that middle wall, and below that, “LET THE GOOD TIMES ROLL” is painted right-to-left in backward letters, which become legible when you look into the big mirror above the bar.

Hamm'sThe bar had an okay selection of draft beers, but the most popular beverage choices seemed to be Tecate tallboys and 12-oz cans of Hamm’s, which was a new one for me in the pantheon of cheap, hipster-certified brews. Wikipedia says it’s a Minnesota beer but that it had plants in San Francisco:

The Hamm’s brewery in San Francisco opened in 1954 at 1550 Bryant Street, close to the Seals baseball stadium. The brewery closed in 1972. In the early 1980’s, the beer vats were rented out to punk rock bands, and it was a used as music studios until the building was renovated and turned into offices.

Also, you must check out this old Hamm’s commercial.

When we first walked in, we caught the tail end of Tim Cohen’s Magic Trick. The little we heard was gentle, pleasant rock; it would turn out to be quite a contrast for what was up next.

As the second band was setting up, a few things diminished our expectations for their set: (1) The drummer took his sweet time to tune his snare, and played a loud flam after each turn of the drum key; (2) The guitarist’s strap was made of chain — like, regular chain.

Personal & The Pizzas

Rocking Wayfarers, the lead singer/guitarist, greeted the crowd with, “Alright, you turkeys. We got some music for ya,” and launched into some straight-ahead rock’n’roll, a I – IV – V tune called “Pepperoni Eyes,” as in, “Pepperoni eyes / She’s got those pepperoni eyes.”

Personal & The Pizzas, “Pepperoni Eyes”


The band was called Personal & The Pizzas, as in, “I’m Personal, and this here’s my band, The Pizzas.” The jokey name, dumb lyrics, and strict adherence to the Stooges/Ramones formula of no-frills, two-and-a-half minute songs could have gotten old fast, had it not been for the band leader’s compelling stage presence and the gusto with which he served up his Jersey greaseball shtick.

When an audience member rudely called out the bassist — a tall, lanky, balding, gum-chewing dude in a leather jacket — for sporting a slightly uneven handlebar mustache, the singer turned to his bandmate and said, “You just stand there and look pretty and blow some bubbles for me.” It might not be that funny on the page, but when delivered with an exaggerated Jersey accent from another era (cf. intro to “Brass Knuckles”), it killed.

The band has an album, Raw Pie, out on Oakland’s 1-2-3-4 Go! Records. It’s a slice of what they’re about. But for the full meal, this is a band best experienced live.

Personal & The Pizzas, “Brass Knuckles”


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RIP Poly Styrene

In 1976, Poly Styrene (Marion Elliott-Said) of Brixton, after catching the Sex Pistols play an early show, placed an ad in a couple British music papers in search of “Young Punx Who Want to Stick It Together.” The result was the album Germ Free Adolescents by X-Ray Spex and the hit single “Oh Bondage Up Yours!”

The first wave, braces-wearing, daughter of a dispossessed Somali aristocrat, proto-riot-grrl, Hare Krishna convert succumbed to cancer on Monday at the age of only 53.

Check out an early interview on youtube here.

Check out the video for the single “Virtual Boyfriend” from her recent solo album Indigo Generation here.

X-ray Spex, “Oh Bondage Up Yours!” [Buy The Anthology from Amazon]

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Indie Rock Is Dead: Paul Krugman’s Posting on Arcade Fire

On his blog, Paul “Cassandra” Krugman posted on Arcade Fire last night. I’m just going to repeat that: Paul Krugman wrote about Arcade Fire.

I’m ashamed to say that I wasn’t even aware of the band until the Grammys — but hey, I’m 58! And as I suspect is happening with Brad, as an aging baby boomer I find it vastly reassuring to see that there are honest, creative artists still making their way up amid the commercialization. And their live performances are truly addictive. So:

Two notes. 1.) Starting today, Noise Narcs will cease its coverage of last week’s Pitchfork and instead cover last week’s Keynesian economics. 2.) James Fallows, you better step up your game from Pomplamoose.

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Show Spotlight: Low TONIGHT (4/25) at the First Unitarian Church Sanctuary

Five reasons to go see Low tonight at the First Unitarian Sanctuary:

1) Although not a return to “form,” Low’s new album C’mon is a return to excellence. Although they’ve moved on from the utter bareness of their early albums, the progression into their new, lusher sound has reached jawdropping maturity.

2) Tonight’s rain is actually a reason to go: temperatures and humidity will drop enough to not make the First Unitarian into a sweatbox.

3) The First Unitarian Church Sanctuary. The best place to see music for cheap in the city by seven country miles. Especially when #2 is in effect.

4) The timbre of Alan Sparhawk’s voice.

5) The unearthly warmth of Mimi Parker’s.

Low – Especially Me by subpop

Low w/ A Stick and a Stone
Monday, April 25, 2011 8:00PM
First Unitarian Church Sanctuary, 2125 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia
Tickets [$15]

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Happy Easter, Christians!

I am Senor Chang, and I'm so ill! This is a warning: I can't be killed.

Jacques Slade, “I Never Die” [youtube] (from the Community soundtrack)

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New Philly Releases: Eat Your Birthday Cake and Bridge Underwater

Do you miss Grandaddy’s quiet, winding brand of indie rock? If not, please have a technician check your Missing Awesome Things that Are No Longer Around unit: it’s clearly on standby. But if so, Philly’s Eat Your Birthday Cake ride Grandaddy’s groove so damn hard and well it’ll make your needle skip a beat. On Monday, May 2nd, Eat Your Birthday Cake will release Enemies for free download and limited edition CD-R. And it’s a doozy. To celebrate the album’s release, they’re throwing a block party in Fishtown, hosted by Cloud Entertainment, at 219 Mercer Street on Saturday, May 7th. [Facebook Event] Your grandaddy would have wanted you to be there.

Eat Your Birthday Cake, “Rock Stars” [Facebook]

In other great Philly release news, Bridge Underwater totally zagged when I thought they were gonna zig. Their latest single, “Share Time,” ditches their Beatles via Elephant Six sound to embrace… ’90s Weezer/grunge? And nails it? Who woulda thunk it?

Bridge Underwater, “Share Time” [Bandcamp]

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