Tuesday, June 28, 2016


DRGN KING - BALTIMORE CRUSH (October 27, 2014)

About a decade in to the 21st Century, Dominic Angelella seemed to be in every cool band in Philly, crisscrossing genres from head-thrashing rock to underground hip-hop. Angelella says those weren't bands, just projects.  It wasn't until a chance meeting led to a partnership with a young South Philly hip-hop producer named Brent "Ritz" Reynolds that Angelella's catholic passions and talent would come into focus in the band they named Drgn KING. Reynolds, who had cut tracks for the Roots and Mac Miller, provided a wealth of sounds and beats created in the studio, while Angelella brought the rock. "As one might expect from a group formed on such an ad hoc basis, [Drgn King's debut] Paragraph Nights has no easily discernible purpose, shape, or structure," noted SputnikMusic.com. "It exists mainly as a nebulous, non-committal art form, put together seemingly at the behest and for the amusement of its creators."  A year later, the duo released Baltimore Crush,  a song cycle that trips through time, re-visiting rock 'n' roll ghosts and reliving Angelella's childhood in "The City That Reads." Churning in the undertow of the present and imagining worlds to come, the songs revolve around a community of disenfranchised kids looking for kicks while trying to make a world they can call their own. "The ten-track album still has touches of DRGN King’s signature electronic influences," gushed WXPN's Skye Leppo,  "but the driving forces on this effort come from thrash-worthy guitar solos counteracted by relaxed surf vibes, which in itself could be a description of the people the album’s written for; coasting along but screwing up big time in an attempt to mask unreached potential."

Dominic Angelella:  Mark Lipsitz reached out to Drgn KING a few years into our stint as a band, and I was immediately stoked by their back catalog. Not only were they responsible for the first two Of Montreal records and those awesome early Feelies albums, Bar/None had also released Song Poem compilations and Petra Haden covering The Who Sell Out sans instruments? Add in Emperor X's criminally underrated record Erica Western Teleport and I was sold. 

There's a sense of community that doesn't exist in other labels. I was able to call up Glenn, Mark and Emmy whenever, or pop into the office unannounced, and was always welcomed. Shout out to Bar/None forever. They're a stronghold of ethics and realness in this bizarre, ever changing world of music. 





Tuesday, June 21, 2016


Oppenheimer - Oppenheimer (June 6, 2006)
Oppenheimer - Take The Whole Mid-Range And Boost It (June 3, 2008)
Oppenheimer - This Racket Takes Its Toll  (July 31, 2012)

Picture two young friends, Rocky O'Reilly and Shaun Robinson, toying with synths and playing with ideas in a bedroom in Belfast, Northern Island.  They decide to call themselves Oppenheimer and start sending demos to all of their favorite labels, including Bar/None in America.  Bar/None wound up releasing Oppenheimer's self-titled debut in 2006,  followed by releases in Australia, Japan and Thailand. What followed was hundreds of shows, sixteen weeks of touring in the states and another sixteen in Europe, all of which helped Oppenheimer hone their lush electronic pop sound. At the same time their tracks began finding their way into television shows like How I Met Your Mother and Ugly Betty, as well as commercial campaigns for Fujifilm and Nike, switching even more people onto this Irish two piece.  Oppenheimer would go on to release two more critically acclaimed albums for Bar/None in 2006 and 2012.

Shaun Robinson:
Oppenheimer and Bar/None. Where does one start?

Well, Rocky and I had gotten together in October 2004 to mess about with ideas that were, musically, purely synth driven. Every band in Belfast seemed to be rock driven and we wanted to try something different.  We had just gone to see The Album Leaf play live in a very small random Belfast venue and we both thought “Fuck it, let’s try and do this”. The first couple of songs were recorded in a cramped spare room in Rocky’s then house. No real drums. No mic stands. Holding a mic to an acoustic guitar was the way forward. Because of where Rocky worked, a recording/post-production studio, we had the luxury to add and add and add overdubs and flush out any ideas that we had. Inside about 3 months we had four or five finalized ideas of songs.

Bearing in mind, these were the glorious days of MySpace and the days where you still sent a physical copy of a demo to labels that you thought might pick you up. Rocky was a fan of a band called Mosquitos who were already on Bar/None and he sent a copy to the Bar/None HQ in Weehawken. We were just plodding along, like any new band, recording and writing but then everything changed.

I was on holiday, in the summer of 2005 in Tokyo with my then girlfriend Beth (who gave Oppenheimer their logo, designed their first two album covers, and was involved with the ‘Breakfast in NYC’ video), when I received an email from Rocky telling me about a record label in New Jersey, specifically a guy called Mark (Lipsitz), that was interested in Oppenheimer. I was over the moon but was thousands of miles away and in a completely different time zone to get involved with the early communication.

Once I got back to Northern Ireland it was all systems go. Rocky and I worked hard over the next few months to complete what would become our debut album as Oppenheimer.

My favorite story though, about how Oppenheimer became involved with Bar/None, comes from Mark himself. Bar/None had an intern working for them during the summer of 2005 (his name is Ray) and he was given the task of listening to the hard copies of demos that came through the Bar/None mail box. As the story goes, Ray listened to the Oppenheimer demo one night and then turned up the next day and said to Mark, “I think this is shit but I think you’re really going to like it!” And that is how Oppenheimer came to be on Bar/None.  Thank you Ray, thank you Mark, thank you Glenn, and thank you Rocky.

Catalog:  Oppenheimer on Bar-None.com

Tuesday, June 14, 2016


Brute Force - I, Brute Force - Confections Of Love  (October 12, 2010)

He wrote songs for the Chiffons, the Cyrkle, Del Shannon, and Little Peggy March. He sang in The Tokens, and once caused an international incident by trying to swim across the Behring Straits. He was signed to Apple Records by John and George of Beatles, but censorship crushed his dreams of show business glory.

His name is Brute Force, born Stephen Friedland, the son of a career politician in Jersey City, NJ.  His "heavy/funny" compositions caught the attention of John Lennon and George Harrison, who signed him to Apple Records in 1967.  But Brute Force's best known song, "King Of Fuh" ("I'm the King of Fuh, I'm the Fuh King") proved too controversial and forced Apple Records to shelve what would have been his breakout album. I, Bruce Force-Confections Of Love, Brute Force's debut release, became an underground legend, passed hand to hand among cult fans and bootleggers, until Bar/None released it in 2010.  Shortly thereafter, Apple included "King Of Fuh" on Come And Get It: The Best Of Apple, alongside tracks by James Taylor, Badfinger, and Mary Hopkin. "They shut me down and locked me in a dungeon," Friedland says of the music industry "suits" who refused to release "King Of Fuh" back in 1967. Disillusioned and discouraged, Friedland left music for 30 years until he found a new generation of fans at Beatles conventions and record fairs in the early 2000's.

Brute Force: "It was very meaningful to have I, Brute Force, Confections of Love, released on Bar/None  because the album has social value in the current American culture. Importantly, we added 5 bonus tracks and of those tracks, 'Hello Moskow' is a song written in Russian and English, and drawsattention to the fact that there is one borderline, the edge of Earth. Due to the omnipresence of media,  the people of Earth are closer to each other than ever before. Consequently, the USA is closer to other countries, and singer /songwriters have the excellent opportunity to promote Peace.  As 'Hello Moscow' says, 'Where is happiness people? Here and there and there and here.'  Additionally, the bonus track 'King of Fuh,' which was censored in the 1960's, plays with the effect of language taboo upon the listener, and emphasizes individuality and beauty in the world. These are some of the reasons why I am very grateful that my music is 'out there,'and that people are listening to my songs."

At 76, Brute Force continues to perform, these days accompanied by his daughter Lilah, known as Daughter Of Force.  They will be at Caffe Vivaldi (23 Jones St., NYC) on Saturday, June 18.  Showtime is 7 p.m. and there is no cover.

A Brute Force Playlist:

Tapeworm Of Live

King Of Fuh

Hello Moskow

Tierra Del Fuego




Tuesday, June 7, 2016


Eros And The Eschaton - Home Address For Civil War (August 13, 2013)

Eros and the Eschaton began as the experimental two-piece recording project of Kate Perdoni and Adam Hawkins in 2012. Perdoni and Hawkins spent that year developing their unique sound in the master-bedroom-turned-studio of a swampy North Carolina rental, set against an outlaw countryscape of kudzu, atrocious spiders, wild mammals, and copperhead snakes.  They self-released two singles and toured whenever family life allowed before catching the ears of Bar/None through a session with the Omaha-based video collective, Love Drunk.   Eros And The Eschaton's debut album Home Address For Civil War was hailed by Prefix Mag as, "Frothing with noisy guitar swirls and subtle electronics. Their debut album is an amniotic ocean as waves of amorphous melodies sweep you in an undertow. Hyperactive chords roll into Hawkins and Perdoni's soaring timbres, before bursting off into a precipice that doesn't end with a bang but an unexpected but welcomed whimper."

Weight of Matter, the band’s second full-length, will be released by Bar/None on August 19.   It's a Neil-Young & Crazy Horse guitar-inspired album, dialing in tones akin to The Walkmen while maintaining the airy psychedelia of Civil War. Whereas Perdoni and Hawkins took turns to provide drums, keys, guitars and other instrumentation on the band's first record, they were joined in their home studio while recording Weight of Matter by band members Alex Koshak (drums), Mitch Macura (keys) and Ryan Spradlin (bass), continuing an exploration of sonic landscapes while creating space for each individual member’s contribution.

Consequence of Sound will premiere the album's first single "Rxx" on Tuesday, June 14.
“Rxx” calls to mind dozens of missed moments in rock and roll history set against a backdrop of pop hooks and mayhem, while “Bop Shoo Bop” pays homage to legendary Tropicalia ensemble Os Mutantes. Repose and the cosmos dance en pointe throughout the track list, providing a contemplative backdrop of light harmony and keen melodies to a sometimes brusque outlook. The group borrows popular country standard “Cry,” adding a Casio backbeat and shoe gaze-y twist, then treads the waters of thematic love and loss on the heartbreakingly emotive title track.

Kate Perdoni: I met Mike Mogis in LA in 2002.  He had been involved with Lullabye for the Working Class and later the Mayday record on Bar/None, and he told me to check it all out. I sent demos to Bar/None at the same time as places like Orange Twin and Jagjaguwar when I was a teenager. I just thought they had that indie rock ideal.

That turned out to be true. They are wonderful to work with.
Adam and the toy drum kit in E&E's Love Drunk video
We were signed as a two-piece who had recorded our album as we wrote it in one of the bedrooms of a house we rented in North Carolina. We’d sort of landed there at the end of a tour, and wanted to start working on a record. Some friends from Omaha were coming though town on a tour for their one-take live music video series, Love Drunk, and asked if they could film us playing a song. We hadn’t played a show at that point, so we hadn’t arranged any of the songs. I remember playing the song, "You Know I Do," over and over in preparation for their visit. The video crew stayed with us for a few days. We shot our video in an abandoned barn in the backyard of the house we were renting. Adam played our son’s little drum kit and I played three keyboards. Bar/None contacted us out of the blue after the video was released and asked us what we were up to. Our sixth show ever was arranged by Bar/None's Mark Lipsitz in New York at Shea Stadium, with DRGN King. We hung out and got to know each other."

Eros And The Eschaton - Home Address For Civil War on Bar/None.com