Local Band Feel: Das Black Milk – DASBLACKMILK

a3378511685_10Local Band Feel is a column dedicated to shining a light on music that’s happening around the corner, down the block, or a few towns over in our particular corner of the Pennsylvania wilds.  We encourage you to support the bands featured, should you feel so inclined.

Full disclosure: These guys are pals of mine.  In the not too distant past, we shared stages playing gigs with my old band at local watering holes, and think I might even make a cameo one of their earlier records at some point.

So clearing the decks of any personal bias when reviewing this can be a bit tricky to untangle.  But, I think the latest EP from the group known as Das Black Milk is worth trying to make the attempt, as it might be one of the best things they have offered up to the world so far.  Since their inception in the mid-aughts, at the groups’ core has always been the duo Nathaniel Kane and Brian Emmert, and their output has always been an entertaining mystery box of post-punk informed hijinks.

After taking a few years off to focus on solo endeavors (Cold Coffee & Brian TV), the newly reformed group seemed to have found a new sense of purpose with freshly recruited bassist Craig Metcho and a trusty drum machine in tow.  Since getting back in the swing of things, DBM have wasted little time releasing a prolific string of EPs and singles in various sub-underground formats such as lathe cut singles, and cassettes.

Their latest DASBLACKMILK self-released on their own imprint Leopard Libido.  A label whose slogan not so humbly proclaims itself “The TRUE sound of Scranton.”  But, the thing is that they might on to something there as no other band around here that I can think of that truly captures the existential angst of living in the seemingly perpetually gray-skied Electric City better than Das Black Milk. The six songs presented on here are populated with men on fire, broken stuntmen, and the bad guy looking back at you in the mirror. If you like your local rock with a dark subversive streak, then it’s time to get with these self-appointed purveyors of the new lifestyle.  See, your cool points just went up.

Local Band Feel: Family Animals – The End Is Mere

coverLocal Band Feel is a column dedicated to shining a light on music that’s happening around the corner, down the block, or a few towns over in our particular corner of the Pennsylvania wilds.  We encourage you to support the bands featured, should you feel so inclined.

I remember these guys from a few years back when I was helping organize some bands to play a local arts fest.  They seemed like a bunch of unassuming friendly dudes.  One of the things that stuck out most was that the guitar they used was a battered fiesta red Fender Jag-Stang. There was something about the groups out of time approach that seemed perfectly encapsulated in their choice of that timeline scrambled Kurt Cobain designed axe.

The band that I’m talking about is the Family Animals, and up for review today is their latest The End Is Mere.  A trio comprised of two brothers, drummer Anthony Viola and vocalist-guitarist Jesse Viola along with best pal Frank DeSando on bass. The group has racked up the miles playing hundreds of shows and putting out seven proper releases over the past few years.  It’s evident they have that intangible type of telepathic connection that bands get after playing together for an extended period of time.

There seem to be three p’s that matter the most to these guys: punk, psych and prog.  I’m happy to report that their latest delivers the goods on all fronts.  Wrapped in some very groovy psychedelic art courtesy of another former local Brian Langan (SW!MS, Langor, Needle Points, etc) that perfectly matches the surreal sci-fi world the band has created on this semi-concept album.  It’s a song cycle that manages to never take itself too seriously.  There’s a Zappaesque playfulness about the proceedings that manages to shine through especially on tracks like “Guitarbot 4000 & The Two Tongued Twins (Live at Magnitard’s Tavern),” while “Captain Z Bop’s Friendly Friends” seems to use The Strawberry Alarm Clock’s “Incense and Peppermints” as a launching pad for a Nuggets influenced jam all its own.  Those are just two examples on an album full of absurdist left turns, and a crazy amount of variety from song to song.  The End Is Mere feels like a kaleidoscopic postcard from the edge of the group’s own far out musical universe.  Hop on aboard; it’s a trip well worth taking.

Local Band Feel: Kali Ma and the Garland of Arms – s/t

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Local Band Feel is a column dedicated to shining a light on music that’s happening around the corner, down the block, or a few towns over in our particular corner of the Pennsylvania wilds.  We encourage you to support the bands featured, should you feel so inclined.

 Jamie Kali lives one city over from me.  Wilkes Barre is the Shelbyville to Scranton’s Springfield.  If you live in there, your perspective is probably vice versa (at least I hope that it would be).  That seems like that’s the way that it’s always been, and probably will be forevermore.  Putting all of my sister city biases aside, Ms. Kali along with her compatriots have crafted something pretty interesting with their latest release; a self-titled, and self-released effort credited to, Kali Ma and the Garland of Arms.  What’s offered here is a bakers dozen of dreamy neo-psychedelic tunes that seem to take more cues from Grace Slick’s early Airplane flights than Lennon/McCartney for once, which is a nice change of pace.  We recommend you crack a Steg and settle in for a long strange trip down the electric mindshaft for this one.