[An electronic documentation of the music scene in
Bucks County, Pennsylvania]

Sunday, December 31, 2006

Local Music Year In Review

The latest issue of Philly EDGE features, "Oh Six," an article I wrote about the bigger stories in Philadelphia music this past year. It's a quick read and covers a few things happening in Bucks County. Look for it in the Dec. 27 issue (on newsstands now) or follow the link below to read the article.


Saturday, December 02, 2006

Aderbat At Siren Records

I stopped in Siren Records in Doylestown last night to catch part of Aderbat's set and snap some quick photos. This being one of the first shows in the store's new location, I was curious to see how live music would work in the setting. The stage was big, the pa system sounded good, and there was enough space between the CD racks to fit a pretty large crowd. Although certainly not as conducive to live music as a traditional venue, the new location is a vast improvement over the older location for hosting in-store performances and local shows.


Sunday, November 26, 2006

Witness Posts New Track, Plans EP Release

One of the best kept secrets in Bucks County is Morrisville's Witness, an emcee, producer, and the unofficial leader of the Recollective artist group. Although most certainly a hip-hop artist at heart, Witness' indie leaning reminds us that the soul of hip-hop is a far cry from what you hear on the radio.

After a short hiatus, Witness is getting back in the game. He recently posted a new track, "Yesterday's Wake," from his forthcoming EP on his Myspace site. Ever More will be the follow up to 2005's Ever Since EP and will be self-released December 12.


Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Shows At The New Siren Records

Siren Records begins a new era next month when it starts hosting larger shows at its new location at 22 S. Main St. in Doylestown. The expansion of Buck's County's best record store is good news for local music, as the store is poised to become another essential all-ages venue in the heart of D-town. The first weekend in December will feature three nights of music for the store's "Grand Re-Opening Extravaganza." Here are the bills for each show:

12.01| Aderbat, Honeychurch, Christina Ward, and Drink Up Buttercup
12.02| Illinois, France On Fire, and House Of Fire
12.03| Peasant, Screaming Females, and Univox

All three shows are free of charge!


Live Review: Drink Up Buttercup

Drink Up Buttercup | The Cigar Parlor | 11.17.06

No matter how many times I go to the Cigar Parlor to see a show, I'm always amazed at the phenomenon surrounding this living room-sized venue in Doylestown. The Cigar Parlor is the furthest thing from a traditional music venue; it lacks a good PA system, food and drink, and any shred of proper advertising. Plus, at $7 a head, it's not exactly a bargain to get in the door. Still, come Friday or Saturday night, there's a line down Main Street of anxious music fans hoping to get inside.

These days the busiest nights at the Parlor belong to a tight-knit group of (mostly) Doylestown musicians including Drink Up Buttercup, Peasant, Christina Ward, Aderbat, and a few others. This group, which I like to call the "That Works crew," have made the Parlor their own, by mastering the art of online networking and marketing, while playing as many all-ages shows as possible. That Works Records is Peasant's label, and although the only releases on the label belong to him, all these musicians operate like labelmates, bound by similar musical styles and friendship.

This camaraderie is one of the reasons Drink Up Buttercup packed the Cigar Parlor this past Friday, despite only existing as a band for a few months. The group is the latest project of James Harvey, whose last band, Playwright, recently called it quits. Harvey has been playing solo shows under this new moniker, but just recruited a new drummer, as well as the bassist and keyboard player from Playwright. Judging by the size of the all-ages crowd on Friday, it appears the following he built from Playwright has also carried over.

Like Playwright, Drink Up Buttercup belongs to the same indie rock category as The Decemberists or Arcade Fire. Pop-oriented and acoustic-based, it's the perfect setting for Harvey's tenor vocal range and quirky lyrics. The difference as compared to Harvey's past efforts is his (admitted) recent discovery of late-era Beatles' albums. He sounds now as if he's taking himself much less seriously, attempting unorthodox songwriting and experimentation, and at times, ditching Shakespeare for Sesame Street.

At the moment, Drink Up Buttercup's live show is still evolving due to simple fact that the band is so new. Obviously under-rehearsed, Harvey and his cohorts made up for any shortcomings with passion and spontaneity, arming the first row of spectators with tambourines and turning otherwise childlike ditties into rock 'n' roll crescendos. In such an intimate environment, the shorter sing-a-longs, like "Land Of Beers," "Mr. Pie Eyes," and one with a guest appearance from Peasant, translated better than the heavy-handed epic jams. The band's only real miss step was an out of place cover of Weezer's "Say It Ain't So." It was hurt less by the lack of electric guitar and more by the fact that most of the under-age audience didn't seem to recognize it. The song is more than ten years old, afterall. However, the band did scored points for actually singing the guitar solos.

If the Weezer cover was lost on the audience, the rawness of the atmosphere was not. Shows like this provide a chance for these kids to watch their peers pour their guts into their music. They obviously appreciated Drink Up Buttercup and openers Fire After Midnight and Pennylise (both of Doylestown's Cosmic Troubadour Records), as well as The Cigar Parlor as a venue. With the city's music scene out of reach and the suburbs filled with martini-laden venues like Puck, it looks like the phenomenon will continue.


Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Borough upholds live music ban

The Intelligencer reported today that the Doylestown Borough Council decided against allowing the Freight House Café in Doylestown to expand their ability to host live music. The train station restaurant agreed a few years ago not have live music other than a piano player as part of an arrangement with local residents. The owners wanted that ban lifted because they feel they are at disadvantage to "other [businesses], closer to residences than ours, with indoor and outdoor music." Although the decision will not be official until council approves it in writing in December, it appears local residents succeeded in their efforts to keep the ban intact.

Now, chances are the Freight House would not host the types of musicians that this writer would be really excited to hear live. However, this ruling is important because it may set a precedent for other establishments in the borough, like the Cigar Parlor, The Moose Lodge or even Muggs On Main, that host bands and are indeed closer to private residences. The borough has thankfully taken a softer stance on live music (especially on weekends), but this could signal a change of heart.

Council says no to live music
Some discord over music request

D-town Hardcore

Although the Bucks County hardcore punk community has always been underground by nature -- that’s how these guys and gals like it -- it's a shame when local publications and venues take a pass on the genre. There are a handful of very decent bands dedicated to playing local VFWs and YMCAs and maintaining the DIY lifestyle so important to these musicians.

High on the list of notable acts is Dead Again?!, a Doylestown band that has started to gain recognition in the East Coast hardcore scene. Dead Again?! has a couple of EPs under its belt, but the five-piece just released its debut longplayer, Monolith, in October on Emerald Moon Records. You can see them live December 22 at the Landsdale VFW (802 W. Second St.) with The Progress, Cetus, and Bangarang.


This Weekend With Except After Sea

This upcoming weekend is your best chance to see Except After Sea, as this Langhorne indie-rock outfit will be playing two shows in Philly. You can catch them Friday at The Trocadero Balcony with U.S. Funk Team and Overise or Sunday at The Manhattan Room with Like Lions and Deleted Scenes. If you’re totally lazy and miss both those shows, you can see them December 7 at The Khyber with Days Away and Unlikely Cowboy.

EAS has also made three tracks from the band’s recently released debut record, What Buildings Are Made Of..., available on their Myspace site. Do note the Bob Dylan clips from No Direction Home. Nice touch boys.


Peasant Joins Fanatic Promotion's Roster

Doylestown singer-songwriter Peasant, a.k.a. Damien DeRose, has joined the roster of New York’s Fanatic Promotion. Peasant recently released a 4-song 7-inch called The Wind, and you can expect Fanatic to help him push the record and plan any future tours. Peasant was also scheduled to play Fanatic’s Acoustic Afternoon showcase at the CMJ Festival in New York earlier this month. It remains to be seen if DeRose will make a move to an another record label or continue to release his music on his own That Works imprint. You can see Peasant on December 15 at the new Siren Records location at 22 S. Main St. in Doylestown.


Great Minds Think Alike

Make sure you check out Doylestown Sounds, a Myspace site dedicated to Doylestown music, and The Indie Café, a radio show on WYBF (Sundays 5-7 PM). Both have featured a handful of Bucks County musicians. Melissa from The Indie Café recently interviewed James Harvey from Drink Up Butter Cup, as well as Birdie Num Num and The Spirit Squad. You can hear the interview with Harvey at Drink Up’s Myspace site. Doylestown Sounds has been faithfully tracking the efforts of Peasant, Christina Ward, Aderbat, Drink Up Butter Cup, and a few other Doylestown artists for the last few months.

Also, Allie from Doylestown Sounds recently started booking music for First Friday in Doylestown, so if you’re interested in booking a show, contact her through her website.