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Nicole Atkins CD review - see her live at Bowery on February 9

Nicole Atkins returns to the New York (and world) music scene with her long-awaited second album "Mondo Amore." Opening track "Vultures" presents a lyrical landscape riddled with fear and loathing. "Cry Cry Cry" emerges with a shuffling drum pattern, gospel backing vocal chorus and clean muscle shoals guitar work. "Hotel Plaster" returns to familiar crooner-core territory, as violins add previously unexpected textures. The slow passionate vocal performance is enhanced by a male voice duet, mixed just under Nicole's. "You Come To Me" is a straight ahead rocker, snare drum and reverberated guitar driven. Rising piano notes create an upward motion for Nicole's impressive pipes. "My Baby Don't Lie" recreates a classic down-home jug-band-on-the-back-porch feel that British blues rockers like Led Zepplin loved to emulate. The record then segues into more familiar sonic territory before returning to the original southern fried vibe. "This Is For Love" uses fiddling violins for maximum background effect, cleverly blending them into a country rock format, but it's "You Were The Devil" that delivers Nicole's most sensuous vocal performance on the album: inside a twangy western motif, the subject matter emphasizes the albums overall theme - love, loved - then lost. "War Is Hell" explores this emotional experience further. Nicole's vocals underscore exactly what she does best - the torch song. "Heavy Boots" effectively uses cathedral organ and piano to dramatically highlight this tale of leaden footwear. "The warriors are waiting outside for you on the street. The hungry virgin eyes with scorpions in their smile. They are no match for me." "The Tower" re-imagines Led Zepplin's "Dazed & Confused" minus the extended stoner jam (though live her band at points have gone even there) - there is a tasty guitar solo, though. This may also work as a break-up song. Nicole Atkins plays The Bowery Ballroom on February 9. - Dave Cromwell (photo by Lucia Holm)


AWOLNATION premieres video for "Sail"

Blame it on the... aliens? Aaron Bruno of AWOLNATION has a close encounter in the music video for his single "Sail", released days ago. The video also sports the updated mix of the song that will appear on his album Megalithic Symphony, due to make contact on March 15th.

If AWOLNATION's debut album is any indicator, you should be marking your calendars for Megalithic Symphony. Back From Earth, was a tasty mix of Electric 6, Mark Ronson, and UNKLE flavored tracks. Now if I could only get one of those space helmets...

-Angelo Lorenzo


Penrose Win Best of Philly 2010 Fans' Poll

Congrats to Penrose, who won the fans' section of our Best of Philly Emerging Aritsts Poll 2010. The bluesy classic rock trio was followed by glam-punk arena rockers Univox, and experimental keyboard army The Synth Sircus. We embedded the top 10 at the bottom of this blurb. Check out all the bands - this year we have some great variety!

A pool of 50+ artists were selected in December 2010 mostly by local scene makers (concert promoters, bloggers, DJs, etc., full list here) and part of them through an open submission process. We let the fans vote and these are the results as far as the top 15 positions. We will publish our final results soon including the jurors’ top 10 list and the full composite chart which will include jurors’, Deli writers’, and fans’ votes as well as the open submission phase. Thank you to all who participated this year!

The Synth Sircus
Swift Technique
Levee Drivers
Goodnight Lights
Peter Joseph & the Roaring Twenties
Hop Along
Da Comrade!
The Armchairs
Strand of Oaks
Thom McCarthey
Cat Vet
Golden Ages

The Deli Staff


Review of The Pursuits," "Exile"

The explosion of keys and guitars resulting from a standoff between Coldplay (circa X & Y) and Radiohead, with occasional backup from more marginalized indie rockers, would create The Pursuits' Exile, the follow-up to 2009's Still Half Asleep. The mostly-Belmont-based alt-rockers have a coldness and craftiness in their melodies similar to the likes of Calvin, and went from a quintet to a sextet since the EP was made. Four are vocalists, and with the work of three guitarists and thick layers of synth and keys, the EP is intricate but not overdone and, despite wearing its heart on its sleeve lyrically, it doesn't give it all away by staying just reserved enough.

"24-7" opens pensively with an American Football-like guitar melody bubbling dreamily over softly-treading percussion. Vocalist/lyricist Joseph Storey implores, "Is it worth it?" sounding like Kele Okereke (Bloc Party), before the song spirals off in Minus the Bear fashion, reverb echoing. "Cold Anchor" follows with a heavy heart reminiscent of OK Computer and some parts of Hail to the Thief, breaking through pensive, bleary ambience with a definitive melody. But it's not all doom and gloom; "Morocco" heats things up with a buzzing, underlying guitar part that almost sounds like The White Stripes' "Seven Nation Army," and amid crisp percussion, guitars bristle and cut jaggedly with jazz influence in "Heatwave," the first time the recording shys away from its smooth spaciness.

"Pearl Diving" plunges back into the deep with quietly warbling guitars and cymbal tapping. It's clear The Pursuits know their influences, and consequently know their sound. They're not about hooks - which can cause a sameness in the songs despite the guitarists' craftsmanship - and they're not about to lighten up, opting instead for poetic introspection as heavy as the reverb. - Jessica Pace


Album of the Month: Wild Nothing's Golden Haze EP

Blacksburg Virginia's indie-pop genius Wild Nothing, the dream-rock creation of Jack Tatum, continues the lineage of ambient rock nugget's tinged with 80's emotional pop in his follow up EP Golden Haze from late 2010, after a successful debut, Gemini, floated into the ears of shoegaze lovers world-wide last spring.

"Golden Haze" kicks off the album as if it were just continuing where Gemini left off. Bright peaks of keys are layered over delicate loops of Cure-like guitar melodies while Tatum croons "Wild heart, surrender to me. What does it take to be like you?" Good god, if only John Cusack could've blasted this from his boombox outside the window....

"Your Rabbit Feet" channels Slowdive and dare I say early Sonic Youth in probably the poppiest depressing gem of a tune I've heard in years. Tatum chants, "What do you want to know? I'll tell you anything," as guitars rise and feedback is a blurry weep of noise in the distant background echoing into keys that bring the unique pop sensibility back in a completely brilliant way.

Every track on this stellar EP melts into each other creating a soundtrack of hit after hit. Not just one or a few tracks stand-out; they all do.

Check out the fan made video for "Asleep" off the Golden Haze EP below. Wild Nothing will be performing live at the Rock & Roll Hotel on Feb. 12. -Dawn


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