Just Blush

Just Blush

For some bands, determining the right name takes months of brainstorming. For Just Blush, it was as easy as going to the hardware store.
“Guido (Castellani) happened upon a paint swatch at Lowe’s one afternoon,” guitarist Todd Oravic said. “‘Just Blush.’ Done deal.”
Finding time to practice together, however, doesn’t come as easily for the Scranton group, but the quartet does its best to keep the music coming. The group — which also includes Nick Barno on drums, Andrew Bryant on guitar and Abby Vail on bass — looks to take a hiatus from performing together after its upcoming scheduled shows, so now is the time for anyone who has wanted to catch them live.
Just Blush’s members recently went On the Record to discuss how they grew together as musicians and work together as a band.

Q: How did you all meet?
Todd Oravic: Nick and I met at Wilkes University on the first day of classes and started jamming the Beatles and Coldplay songs together. … Around November 2009, Nick invited me along to a show at Cafe Metro with some of his friends from high school, including Andrew. We quickly became friends and started talking about getting a band off the ground. We had our first practice with our first bassist, Guido Castellani, in March 2010. When Guido left for college that September, Andrew messaged Abby about playing with us. She came over for practice, and we discovered that the four of us worked very well together. Then we just went from there, with a focus now on original material.

Q: How did you each get involved in music?
TO: When I was 4 years old, my grandfather brought this old Harmony classical parlor acoustic downstairs and said, “OK, Jethro (his nickname for me). Let’s play some guitar.” Still have that guitar.
Abby Vail: I went to slap a high five but was too slow and slapped a bass instead. I decided to make it a hobby.
Andrew Bryant: I fell onto a piano and liked the noise.

Q: What is the process like for writing your music? 
TO: The process itself ends up being different every time, but it very often begins with some rough recorded demo or idea. We try to not think too much about it, and lately we’ve been doing a lot of free-form jamming together. Jamming is a great way in as far as figuring out what could work well for a song and just trying stuff.
AV: Our writing process varies. Sometimes we already have an idea or a demo that we go into practice looking to expand upon, and other times we just don’t say a word and break out into a random jam for 20 minutes and then realize we made unintentional magic happen.

Q: How have you changed as musicians over the years?
AV: Playing with these guys for so many years has really helped me develop personally. When you play with such talented people for so long, you’re bound to progress. I used to just play it safe and not veer far from root notes, but now I’m always looking to take my bass lines to unexpected places. We’ve all gained different experiences and endured struggles over the years, and I think we each let that sprinkle into our music and allow ourselves growth.

Q: What are some of your favorite memories as a part of this band?
AV: Choosing just one memory to label a favorite is almost impossible because we always have such a great time together, but I’m going to say one of the most memorable experiences we’ve had was seeing Tame Impala in Maryland. After the show, a shirtless man told one of us that we have “impeccable music taste,” and Todd’s immediate response was, “Thanks, I can SEE your pecs!” Every weekend we spent in Penn State recording our album has a special place in my heart as well.

Q: How has the NEPA music scene changed over the years?
TO: Oh man, it’s gotten so much bigger. It’s awesome — there’s always something going on, and a lot of new acts.

Q: What are your future goals for the band?
TO: To be honest, the future is uncertain for Just Blush. We’ve all agreed we’re still going to jam together from time to time — we’re very good at that and love to do it — but we’re looking to take a step back from the project and explore other musical avenues. We’re really glad we got our album done. We said for a long time we were going to do it and we did, and we have always had so much fun doing this, playing for people and for each other. Our last shows for an indefinite amount of time are coming soon, so now’s the time for anyone who’d like to come out: Friday, Nov. 24, at the Keys (as a three-piece with Nick, Todd and Abby) with Days in Transit, and Saturday, Nov. 25, at the Irish Wolf (Pub in Scranton) with King Kidding, Crookshanks and Japan 4. We’ll have our album packaged with our self-released EPs, “Just Blush” and “Live at the Flea Market,” at a discounted price also.

Sounds – November 23, 2017

Sounds – November 23, 2017

JOYWAVE — ‘Content’ 
THE GOOD: Upstate New York indie pop/rock outfit Joywave releases its second proper full-length album.
THE BAD: Too generic?
THE NITTY GRITTY: One advantage “Content” has going for it is the sequencing. Right from the very beginning, we’re hit with formulaic, radio-friendly synth/guitar mashups. Thankfully, as the album plays on, the music becomes more distinct. The songs stop melting together. The highlight definitely is the multi-dimensional and sprawling “Going To a Place.”
Still, nothing here exactly leaps out of your speakers or headphones. “Content” is the kind of stuff you listen to while you’re doing something else — running, commuting, cleaning out the garage. It’s catchy background music you may or may not come back to at some point after that first spin. Joywave. Sir Sly. Saint Motel. Yawn. Rinse. Repeat.
BUY IT?: Your call. “Content” isn’t terrible, but these guys were better when the beats and electronics were more front and center. During the band’s EP and mixtape days, it was all about a groove, and the music was far more memorable.

Baio — ‘Man of the World’
THE GOOD: Vampire Weekend bassist Chris Baio releases his second proper solo album.
THE BAD: There IS another VW album in the works. It can’t happen quickly enough. Side projects are a pale substitute.
THE NITTY GRITTY: You can tell Baio is one half of a rhythm section. The guy knows his way around a melodic hook and snappy riff. Yet the focus of his work always seems to be the beat or drive beneath the stuff above.
“World” finds most of its songs interconnected. Keep them together, and the record flows amazing well. Pull them apart, and a few tunes seem incomplete. Musically, we run the gamut from bouncy bits (“The Key Is Under the Mat”) to more laid-back, writhing pieces (“Dangeroue Anamal”).
Lyrically, “World” is heavier than 2015’s “The Names.” Baio tackles climate change, politics and his Trump-supporting first cousin Scott Baio (“Shame in My Name”). Sometimes the messages seem heavy-handed against the bubbly backdrops, with the elements not quite gelling. But “World” still clicks overall.
BUY IT?: Sure.

EMA — ‘Exile in the Outer Ring’ 
THE GOOD: Singer/songwriter Erika Michelle Anderson (EMA) revisits her South Dakota roots while painting a bleak picture of the Midwest today.
THE BAD: “Outer Ring” is not an easy listen, but’s it’s worth the effort.
THE NITTY GRITTY: Welcome to an existence riddled with apathy, poverty, substance abuse, no direction and absolutely NO future. The singer purrs time and again throughout the subdued “Down and Out,” “But what are you hoping for?”
EMA has a knack for making ugly records, and “Outer Ring” is no exception. Lyrically, we’re dealing with all those aforementioned daily obstacles. Musically, we’re slammed with an abrasive combination of ragged pop and industrial noise. Guitars are important, but the banging beats and buzzing, droning synths always dominate. EMA isn’t exactly screaming in your face, but you can feel every character’s frustration and hopelessness, even during the more somber bits.
“Outer Ring” drags you into the dirt and never lets up. Proceed with caution, and don’t let those slick melodies fool you.
BUY IT?: Yeah.

Concerts – November 23, 2017

Concerts – November 23, 2017

F.M. Kirby Center, Wilkes-Barre
Tickets: 570-826-1100
Night Ranger and Loverboy, Friday, Nov. 24
Christmas with Jennifer Nettles, Thursday, Nov. 30
Keller Williams, Friday, Dec. 8
The Oak Ridge Boys’ Christmas Celebration Tour, Monday, Dec. 18
Cabinet, Sunday, Dec. 31
Back in Black — AC/DC tribute, Friday, Jan. 19
ARRIVAL from Sweden, Saturday, Jan. 20
Alt 92.1 Snow Show featuring Dashboard Confessional, Sunday, Jan. 28
Scotty McCreery, Saturday, Feb. 10
America, Thursday, Feb. 15

Mount Airy Casino Resort, Mount Pocono
Tickets: 877-682-4791
Lavell Crawford, Friday, Dec. 8 (Gypsies Lounge and Nightclub)
Foghat, Saturday, Dec. 16 (Gypsies Lounge and Nightclub)
The Amish Outlaws, Saturday, Dec. 30 (Gypsies Lounge and Nightclub)
Ma$e, Saturday, Dec. 30 (Wet Nightclub)
Gilbert Gottfried, Sunday, Dec. 31 (Gypsies Lounge and Nightclub)
Jim Breuer, Saturday, Jan. 13 (Gypsies Lounge and Nightclub)
J.B. Smoove, Saturday, Jan. 20 (Gypsies Lounge and Nightclub)
Bob Saget, Saturday, Feb. 3 (Gypsies Lounge and Nightclub)
Grand Funk Railroad, Saturday, Feb. 17 (Gypsies Lounge and Nighclub)
Gin Blossoms, Friday, Feb. 23 (Gypsies Lounge and Nightclub)

Penn’s Peak, Jim Thorpe
Tickets: 570-325-0371
Todd Rundgren, Saturday, Dec. 2
The Eagles Experience, Saturday, Dec. 16
Back To the Eighties Show with Jessie’s Girl, Friday, Dec. 29
Get the Led Out — Led Zeppelin tribute, Saturday, Dec. 30, and Sunday, Dec. 31
Rebelution and Raging Fyah, Sunday, Jan. 14
Live Dead & Riders ‘69, Saturday, Jan. 27
Umphrey’s McGee, Sunday, Jan. 28
Next Big Thing presents Bruce in the USA, Saturday, February, 24
Lonestar, Friday, March 2
Jay & the Americans and the Brooklyn Bridge, Friday, March 23

River Street Jazz Cafe, Plains Twp.
Tickets: 570-822-2992
Clarence Spady Band, Friday, Nov. 24
Halfway To Hell, Saturday, Nov. 25
Mephiskapheles with Keystone Ska Exchange, Disposables and Franchesko Marx Band, Friday, Dec. 1
Dean Ford & the Beautiful Ones, Saturday, Dec. 2
Serne Green, Friday, Dec. 8
Crowded Streets, Saturday, Dec. 9
A Tribute To Tom Waits with MMLE, Friday, Dec. 15
Bands from Mars, Saturday, Dec. 16
Misty Mountain, Friday, Dec. 22, and Saturday, Dec. 23
SUZE annual Christmas Show, Monday, Dec. 25

Sherman Theater, Stroudsburg
Tickets: 570-420-2808
Railroad Earth, Friday, Nov. 24, and Saturday, Nov. 25
Seether, Tuesday, Nov. 28
Young Culture and Telltale, Friday, Dec. 1
The Music of Pink Floyd, Friday, Dec. 1
Alive! ’75 — KISS tribute, Saturday, Dec. 2
Spoon, Sunday, Dec. 3
Smith & Myers of Shinedown, Wednesday, Dec. 6
Sara Evans at Christmas, Thursday, Dec. 7
Winger, Saturday, Dec. 9
Dopapod, Friday, Dec. 15

The Fillmore, Philadelphia
Tickets: 215-625-3681
Sheppard, Friday, Nov. 24
Pierce Fulton and NVDES, Saturday, Nov. 25
Wifisfuneral, Tuesday, Nov. 28
Maximo Park, Wednesday, Nov. 29
UnoTheActivist, Thursday, Nov. 30
Jacob Banks, Friday, Dec. 1
Borgore, Friday, Dec. 1
Dustin Lynch, Sunday, Dec. 3
Communion presents Allan Rayman, Sunday, Dec. 3
Wage War, Oceans, Ate Alaska, Gideon, Varials and Loathe, Monday, Dec. 4

Electric Factory, Philadelphia
Tickets: 215-627-1332
Circa Survive and Thrice, Friday, Nov. 24, and Saturday, Nov. 25
St. Vincent, Tuesday, Nov. 28
Illenium, Thursday, Dec. 7
Get the Led Out — Led Zeppelin tribute, Friday, Dec. 8
Dark Star Orchestra, Friday, Dec. 29, through Sunday, Dec. 31
The Devil Makes Three, Friday, Jan. 26
MO and Cashmere Cat, Saturday, Jan. 27
Neck Deep, Thursday, Feb. 2
Black Label Society, Saturday, Feb. 3
Datsik, Friday, Feb. 9

Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia
Tickets: 800-298-4200
Jay-Z, Friday, Dec. 1
Jingle Ball, Wednesday, Dec. 6
Andrea Bocelli, Friday, Dec. 8
Trans-Siberian Orchestra, Sunday, Dec. 17
The Killers, Saturday, Jan. 13
Lana Del Rey, Sunday, Jan. 21
Jeff Dunham, Sunday, Feb. 11
Kid Rock, Friday, Feb. 23
Blake Shelton, Saturday, March 17

Bethel Woods Center for the Arts, Bethel, New York
Tickets: 866-781-2922
Eileen Iver’s A Joyful Christmas, Friday, Dec. 15

Madison Square Garden, New York City
Tickets: 212-307-7171
Harlem Globetrotters, Friday, Nov. 24, and Saturday, Nov. 25
Jingle Ball, Friday, Dec. 8
Andrea Bocelli, Wednesday, Dec. 13, and Thursday, Dec. 14
Billy Joel, Wednesday, Dec. 20
Phish, Thursday, Dec. 28, through Sunday, Dec. 31
The Killers, Friday, Jan. 12
Shakira, Wednesday, Jan. 17
Ricardo Arjona, Thursday, Feb. 22
Pink, Wednesday, April 4, and Thursday, April 5

Beacon Theatre, New York City
Tickets: 212-465-6500
Bob Dylan & His Band, Friday, Nov. 24
Mariah Carey, Monday, Nov. 27, through Tuesday, Dec. 5
Cyndi Lauper & Friends, Saturday, Dec. 9
Aquarium, Sunday, Dec. 10
Backstreet Boys and Fergie, Wednesday, Dec. 13
Chris Tomlin Christmas, Thursday, Dec. 14
Holiday Cheer for FUV, Friday, Dec. 15
K-LOVE Christmas, Sunday, Dec. 17
A Pentatonix Christmas Tour, Tuesday, Dec. 19

SteelStacks, Bethlehem
Tickets: 610-332-1300
Hot Blooded: The Foreigner Experience, Friday, Nov. 24
The Weeklings, Saturday, Nov. 25
Beach Slang, Friday, Dec. 1
Darlingside, Thursday, Dec. 14
Twelve Twenty Four, Saturday, Dec. 16
A Very Merry Acoustic Christmas with the Sherwood Brothers, Saturday, Dec. 16
Swingin’ the Holidays with the Rob Stoneback Big Band, Friday, Dec. 22
Go Go Gadjet, Tuesday, Dec. 26
Jimmy & the Parrots: Holiday Parrot Party, Friday, Dec. 29
The Sofa Kings’ New Years Eve Party, Sunday, Dec. 31

Sounds – November 16, 2017

Sounds – November 16, 2017

WATERS — ‘Something More’
THE GOOD: Waters, the Van Pierszalowski solo project that eventually morphed into a proper band, comes back with its third.
THE BAD: “Something More” could be polarizing to the band’s fans. The more records the group makes, the “safer” the music gets.
THE NITTY GRITTY: Listening to the new album, you get the feeling that Pierszalowski and his crew want to be Weezer (they even namedrop Cuomo and company during the playful “Second Guessing”). That’s not necessarily a “bad” thing, but it could be off-putting to those who wholeheartedly embraced the weirdness of 2011’s “Out in the Light.”
“More” plays it straight — 10 tight indie pop/rock songs in 35 minutes. It’s tough to resist the sheer catchiness of tunes such as lead single “Hiccups” and the slick title track. If you can forgive the predictability of the whole affair, you’ll want to devour these hooks and riffs time and time again. If you can’t, you might get bored rather quickly.
BUY IT?: Despite its faults, that’s still a yes.

WALRUS — ‘Family Hangover’ 
THE GOOD: Nova Scotia indie rockers Walrus offer up an impressive, ambitious debut.
THE BAD: Nope.
THE NITTY GRITTY: You can tell these guys are all about the studio, hunkering down and creating complex yet melodic modern indie rock. Those who embrace current bands such as Besnard Lakes, Mew, Suuns and Grandaddy now have another act to adore.
Fronted by Justin Murphy, a guy who sings below a falsetto but still in a higher register, Walrus churns out a mix of psychedelic jangle pop and heavier rock, with thunderous backbeats crashing behind floating guitars and majestic keyboards. Trickery is kept to a minimum (this stuff could probably be easily recreated live), although the boys aren’t above a little tape manipulation now and again.
Tempos and song structures change often, the album never staying in one emotional spot for too long. Just about every experiment succeeds with flying colors. And this band is just getting started. So take heed gentlemen — expectations for the next one already are running high.
BUY IT?: Yes.

BEACH FOSSILS — ‘Somersault’
THE GOOD: Brooklyn indie rock outfit Beach Fossils regroups and returns after four years with its third.
THE BAD: No.
THE NITTY GRITTY: Further shedding his humble Captured Tracks Records beginnings, frontman Dustin Payseur is making sure his crew is a little less lo-fi and a tad more ambitious (smart, intimate string arrangements always are a nice touch).
“Somersault” ends up a jangly, intelligent pop collection in the grand tradition of classic bands such as the Ocean Blue or Mighty Lemon Drops and contemporaries such as Real Estate and the Drums. The arrangements are smooth, the harmonies good and tight. And the album possesses an incredible flow from cut to cut, taking us on a dreamy journey that’s delicate for the most part but thunderous when it needs to be.
BUY IT?: Yes. One gets the feeling that Payseur is only beginning this logical progression, with things getting better all the time. Here’s hoping we don’t have to wait another four years for the next chapter.

Trans-Siberian Orchestra keeps on rocking after losses

Trans-Siberian Orchestra keeps on rocking after losses

The show must go on for Trans-Siberian Orchestra, which lost its creator earlier this year.
The progressive rock band, known for its Pink Floyd-sized spectacles, hauls its holiday show, “The Ghosts of Christmas Eve” to Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza, Wilkes-Barre Twp., on Sunday, Nov. 19, with performances at 2:30 and 7 p.m.
After the death of artistic visionary and creator Paul O’Neill in April, many fans were left wondering whether the classic Christmas tours would continue. But Trans-Siberian Orchestra’s music director and lead guitarist, Al Pitrelli, said the group never considered skipping this year’s shows. 

“I think the tour itself is addressing his passing,” Pitrelli said. “I mean, he created this. I think the show itself becomes a tribute to the man’s genius and, again, the legacy that will be carried on by his family. Ask me that question maybe in two months and maybe I’ll have a different answer. From my heart right now, I think that every note that I play on the guitar, every note that’s sung by the singers, how it’s presented by the production staff, by his family, I think that everybody knows that everything is a tribute to Paul.”
Originally meant as a one-off performance aired live on Fox television, the show earned such a positive reception that the taping went into syndication and runs almost every year. This tour debuted two years ago, featuring the group’s greatest hits in a new story. “The Ghosts of Christmas Eve” rock opera takes up the first half of the show and tells the story of a runaway from the Midwest heading to New York City, where she takes refuge in an old Vaudeville theater. There, the caretaker discovers her and uses the ghosts of the theater’s past to turn around her life. 
The second set features material ranging from new songs to hits from 20 years ago.
Pitrelli said the group changes the look of the stage, lighting, pyrotecnics, lasers, moving trussles and video content with each new tour. The show’s growth didn’t happen overnight, he said, but it’s come a long way from the first tour in 1999 when the band had just “one box truck and a couple lights and a fog machine, a vision and a dream.”
“Every year, there were more markets in the country that wanted it,” Pitrelli said. “Every year, people from around the planet were interested in what this thing is. Every year, we just keep feeding this thing and nurturing it and taking care of it, treating it like a growing child to the point where it’s become something so big and so incredible and it’s reached so many people we never thought we’d reach. It’s been a privilege to be part of it all these years.“
The Trans-Siberian Orchestra family also lost bassist David Zablidowsky (David Z) in July after a car crash. But through all of the tragedy the band has faced, Pitrelli said, it has made a point to keep going with its lost ones in its hearts. 
“Life can go upside down on you real quick,” he added. “The irony of it all is that all of Paul’s stories deal with that one issue, you know? From ‘Christmas Eve and Other Stories’ right through ‘The Ghost of Christmas Eve,’ it’s all about loss and redemption. Somebody’s run away; there’s a child missing in the middle of the night who just wants to get home; there’s a father who misses his daughter. … Now, obviously all of Paul’s stories end with a happy ending, but in life they don’t sometimes. It’s funny that even from the other side, Paul is still always going to teach all of us.”

King Kidding aims to create fresh sound to inspire others

King Kidding aims to create fresh sound to inspire others

The first live show never goes as planned for most bands.
But when the guys in Tunkhannock-based group King Kidding took the stage for the first time in July 2016, at a now-defunct Carbondale venue, their nerves were nowhere to be found.
“I remember spending the two hours leading up to the show trying desperately to figure out how the PA system was supposed to work,” guitarist and vocalist Michael Wintermute explained. “Unlike many venues, there was no one to run sound and no one to even explain how the house system worked. It seemed like an absolute miracle, but we got the system running — albeit one step away from being electrocuted. By then, the nerves of playing our weird music for the first time were gone, and we had a great time just shredding the stage.”
The group — which also includes Kyle Shupp on guitar, Sean Hadley on drums and Tim Husty on bass — came together in 2015 after several other collaborations among the four of them. Now, the quartet focuses on writing music and performing in the Northeast Pennsylvania music scene.
Q: Where did your band name come from?
Michael Wintermute: The band name came from an explicit text message that was autocorrected to “You’ve got to be fw king kidding me.” Mike’s wife, Amanda, noticed that “King Kidding” has a nice ring to it.

Q: What is the process like for writing your music?  
MW: We work with the running idea of the “King Kidding Machine.” We believe that if we all earnestly and genuinely contribute our slice of the pie to the King Kidding Machine, a King Kidding song will always be the result. Mike has come to the band with blues songs, punk songs, folk songs, etc., but they all end up with the King Kidding texture. The most important aspect of our writing is that nothing is off-limits. We believe that if it doesn’t work, it doesn’t work. And if it does, it does. We try to keep band politics, emotions and preferences out of it. That way, we aren’t speaking or acting for ourselves, but for King Kidding.

Q: How have you changed as musicians over the years?
Kyle Shupp: When I was younger, I was definitely more closed-minded creatively. Being able to play with such great friends and musicians has expanded my mind exponentially. Beyond that, King Kidding has taught me how to play more than just the notes in music. It feels great to play music of any kind to a crowd, but there’s no feeling quite like performing your own songs to people that are willing to take a ride on the sonic roller coaster with you.
MW: My philosophy is that you aren’t an artist if you aren’t changing. I just constantly search for new sounds and constantly encourage any off-the-wall idea that I can, because really amazing things are born from that.

Q: Have you faced any major challenges as a rising band?
MW: The biggest challenge we faced was trying to make music that is different but familiar. We want people to feel excited by our music, but we don’t want them to feel like we’re showcasing our talents or being weird just to be weird. We feel a strong connection to music that twists and turns in ways that make the mind wander, and we are honored just to think we may have a way to add to that whole philosophy.

Q: What are your future goals for the band?
MW: We’ll have our album completed by the end of 2017. Then we plan on taking some time off to focus on booking and writing new material. We’ve spent the better part of 2017 touring the valley, and we’d like to focus on areas just beyond our region in the future.

Q: Do you have anything else you’d like to add that is important for people to know about the group?
MW: Above all, we are trying to create something that’s never been done before, and we’re trying to inspire people to look at music in a way they’ve never looked at it before.

Concerts – November 9, 2017

Concerts – November 9, 2017

F.M. Kirby Center, Wilkes-Barre
Tickets: 570-826-1100
Simply Three, Wednesday, Nov. 15
Night Ranger and Loverboy, Friday, Nov. 24
Christmas with Jennifer Nettles, Nov. 30
Keller Williams, Friday, Dec. 8
The Oak Ridge Boys’ Christmas Celebration Tour, Monday, Dec. 18
Cabinet, Sunday, Dec. 31
Back in Black: the AC/DC tribute, Friday, Jan. 19
ARRIVAL from Sweden, Saturday, Jan. 20
Alt 92.1 Snow Show featuring Dashboard Confessional, Sunday, Jan. 28
Scotty McCreery, Saturday, Feb. 10

Mount Airy Casino Resort, Mount Pocono
Tickets: 877-682-4791
Pusha T, Saturday, Nov. 11 (Wet Nightclub)
Disco Explosion with Tavares & the Trammps, Saturday, Nov. 18 (Gypsies Lounge and Nightclub)
Lavell Crawford, Friday, Dec. 8 (Gypsies Lounge and Nightclub)
Foghat, Saturday, Dec. 16 (Gypsies Lounge and Nightclub)
The Amish Outlaws, Saturday, Dec. 30 (Gypsies Lounge and Nightclub)
Ma$e, Saturday, Dec. 30 (Wet Nightclub)
Gilbert Gottfried, Sunday, Dec. 31 (Gypsies Lounge and Nightclub)
Jim Breuer, Saturday, Jan. 13 (Gypsies Lounge and Nightclub)
J.B. Smoove, (Gypsies Lounge and Nightclub)
Bob Saget, Saturday, Feb. 3 (Gypsies Lounge and Nightclub)

Penn’s Peak, Jim Thorpe
Tickets: 570-325-0371
LeAnn Rimes, Thursday, Nov. 9
An Acoustic Evening with Lee Brice and Randy Houser, Saturday, Nov. 11
Cheap Trick, Sunday, Nov. 12
Gene Watson, Friday, Nov. 17
Dark Star Orchestra, Wednesday, Nov. 22
Todd Rundgren, Saturday, Dec. 2
The Eagles Experience, Saturday, Dec. 16
Back To the Eighties Show with Jessie’s Girl, Friday, Dec. 29
Get The Led Out (Led Zeppelin tribute), Saturday, Dec. 30, and Sunday, Dec. 31
Rebelution and Raging Fyah, Sunday, Jan. 14

River Street Jazz Cafe, Plains Twp.
Tickets: 570-822-2992
Todd Sheaffer from Railroad Earth & Dead Winter Carpenters, Thursday, Nov. 9
Appalachian Gypsy Tribe with Kluster Phunk, Friday, Nov. 10
Elephants Dancing and Fake Fight, Saturday, Nov. 11
Tweed, Friday, Nov. 17
7800 Fahrenheit — Bon Jovi tribute, Saturday, Nov. 18
Subnotics, Wednesday, Nov. 22
Clarence Spady Band, Friday, Nov. 24
Halfway To Hell, Saturday, Nov. 25
Mephiskapheles (featuring members from Dub Is A Weapon) with Keystone Ska Exchange, Disposables and Franchesko Marx Band, Friday, Dec. 1
Dean Ford & The Beautiful Ones, Saturday, Dec. 2

Sherman Theater, Stroudsburg
Tickets: 570-420-2808
I the Victor, Friday, Nov. 10
An Acoustic Evening with Lyle Lovett and John Hiatt, Friday, Nov. 10
At the Heart of It, Saturday, Nov. 11
Mark Isaiah, Saturday, Nov. 11
A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie, Friday, Nov. 17
WeThePeople, Saturday, Nov. 18
Kane Brown, Saturday, Nov. 18
Hollywood Undead, Tuesday, Nov. 21
Railroad Earth, Friday, Nov. 24, and Saturday, Nov. 25
Seether, Tuesday, Nov. 28

The Fillmore, Philadelphia
Tickets: 215-625-3681
MAX, Thursday, Nov. 9
The Used with Glassjaw, Friday, Nov. 10
Snakehips, Friday, Nov. 10
Maria Bamford, Sunday, Nov. 12
Barns Courtney, Monday, Nov. 13
Macklemore, Monday, Nov. 13
Him, Wednesday, Nov. 15
Joywave, Wednesday, Nov. 15
Bleachers, Thursday, Nov. 16
The Revivalists, Friday, Nov. 17

Electric Factory, Philadelphia
Tickets: 215-627-1332
R.L. Grime, Thursday, Nov. 9
A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie, Friday, Nov. 10
Periphery and Animals as Leaders, Saturday, Nov. 11
Young M.A., Thursday, Nov. 16
Tchami & Malaa, Friday, Nov. 17
Odesza, Monday, Nov. 20, through Wednesday, Nov. 22
Circa Survive and Thrice, Friday, Nov. 24, and Saturday, Nov. 25
St. Vincent, Tuesday, Nov. 28
Illenium, Thursday, Dec. 7
Get The Led Out (Led Zeppelin tribute), Friday, Dec. 8

Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia
Tickets: 800-298-4200
Janet Jackson, Monday, Nov. 13
Jay-Z, Friday, Dec. 1
Jingle Ball, Wednesday, Dec. 6
Andrea Bocelli, Friday, Dec. 8
Trans-Siberian Orchestra, Sunday, Dec. 17
The Killers, Saturday, Jan. 13
Lana Del Rey, Sunday, Jan. 21
Jeff Dunham, Sunday, Feb. 11
Kid Rock, Friday, Feb. 23
Blake Shelton, Saturday, March 17

Bethel Woods Center for the Arts, Bethel, New York
Tickets: 866-781-2922
Eileen Iver’s A Joyful Christmas,
Friday, Dec. 15

Madison Square Garden, New York City
Tickets: 212-307-7171
Impractical Jokers starring The Tenderlions Live, Thursday, Nov. 9
La Salsa Vive, Friday, Nov. 10
Dead and Company, Sunday, Nov. 12, and Tuesday, Nov. 14
Billy Joel, Saturday, Nov. 18
Harlem Globetrotters, Friday, Nov. 24
Andrea Bocelli, Wednesday, Dec. 13, and Thursday, Dec. 14

Beacon Theatre, New York City
Tickets: 212-465-6500
Lyle Lovett and John Hiatt, Sunday, Nov. 12
Lindsey Stirling, Tuesday, Nov. 14
Ringo Starr and His All Starr Band, Wednesday, Nov. 15
An Evening with Dream Theater, Thursday, Nov. 16
King Crimson, Friday, Nov. 17
An Evening with Squeeze, Sunday, Nov. 19
Bob Dylan & His Band, Monday, Nov. 20, through Wednesday, Nov. 22 and Friday, Nov. 24

SteelStacks, Bethlehem
Tickets: 610-332-1300
TUSK — the Ultimate Fleetwood Mac tribute, Friday, Nov. 10
The Accidentals, Tuesday, Nov. 14
Wild Adriatic, Thursday, Nov. 16
Kevin Griffin, Thursday, Nov. 16
The Aardvarks and the Sofa Kings, Saturday, Nov. 18
Thanksgiving Eve with Steve Brosky and His Lil Big Band, Wednesday, Nov. 22
Hot Blooded: The Foreigner Experience, Friday, Nov. 24
The Weeklings, Saturday, Nov. 25
Beach Slang, Friday, Dec. 1
Darlingside, Thursday, Dec. 14

Sounds – November 9, 2017

Sounds – November 9, 2017

PORTUGAL THE MAN — ‘Woodstock’ 
THE GOOD: Portland indie rockers Portugal the Man shake things up again on their eighth.
THE BAD: The bouncy “Feel It Still” is a genuine hit. Long-time enthusiasts are crying “sell out.” That’s a matter of opinion. I say, “You should have seen this coming.”
THE NITTY GRITTY: After all, the band signed to a major label, Atlantic, a couple of records ago. And last time around, on “Evil Friends,” the guys recruited Danger Mouse to handle production duties. So why not go all the way on “Woodstock?”
Originally, the band was making an album called “Gloomin’ and Doomin’” with former Beastie Boy Mike D. Most of that project was scrapped in favor of “Woodstock’s” party vibe. So now we get a breezy (albeit somewhat topical) mix of drum loops, snappy sing-alongs and a hint of the psychedelics from past records. Still, what may be disagreeable to some is NOT a bad collection. Frontman John Gourley and company give us enough good vibrations to make us want more.
BUY IT?: Sure.

JEFF TWEEDY — ‘Together at Last’
THE GOOD: Singer/songwriter and Wilco frontman Jeff Tweedy finally gives us a proper solo album (sort of).
THE BAD: Could “Together” only be for Tweedy “completists?”
THE NITTY GRITTY: After making music with Uncle Tupelo and Wilco and a bevy of side projects for almost three decades, Tweedy is at the point in his career where he’s taking time to look back and revisit. “Together” is supposedly the first in a series of intimate acoustic offerings exploring past hits and deep tracks.
Most of this album comes from the Wilco catalog. Tweedy leans in close, his gentle voice accompanied by little more than his acoustic six-string. It’s during these treatments that the songs have to stand completely on their own merits with no full arrangements (rock, pop or county) to hide behind. Whether it’s the gray-colored misgivings spread over “Ashes of American Flags” or the hopeful musings chugging throughout “Dawned on Me,” the material shines.
BUY IT?: Your choice. Personally, I still prefer the full-band versions.

SHOUT OUT LOUDS — ‘Ease My Mind’ 
THE GOOD: Swedish indie pop/rock outfit Shout Out Louds is back with its fifth.
THE BAD: Nope.
THE NITTY GRITTY: If anything, this band is reliable. The formula doesn’t change much from record to record. You know exactly what you’re going to get. And in this case, that’s perfectly acceptable.
SOLs always comes through with bright, splashy, intelligent pop songs. Check out “Paola” and tell me the tune doesn’t immediately suck you in with its jangly guitars, bouncy rhythm and big melodies. You can’t help but love this stuff.
And while EVERY track might not be immediately memorable, there are enough sparkling bits on “Mind” to make plenty of return trips inevitable. From the male-female interplay between frontman Adam Olenius and keyboardist Bebban Stenborg on “Porcelain” and “White Suzuki” to Stenborg’s semi-smoldering lead on the title track to Olenius handling the soaring chorus of “Angel,” it all works flawlessly.
If the group feels the need to offer a smart collection every few years, we’ll gladly accept.
BUY IT?: Surely.

Paul LaBelle and the Exact Change a NEPA staple for 50 years

Paul LaBelle and the Exact Change a NEPA staple for 50 years

By: Samantha Stanich

The Exact Change solidified itself as a musical institution in Northeast Pennsylvania over the last five decades.
Formed by Paul LaBelle in 1967, the band has grown from four aspiring musicians to nine seasoned veterans.
“It has been nothing but music for 50-plus years,” the Clarks Summit man said. “I have conducted for the Temptations, the Four Tops, Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, Neil Sedaka, Cab Calloway — the list goes on. It’s just been music and teaching music; it’s all I have ever done.” 
In his early years, LaBelle studied and taught at Gallucci Music, where he said “the music got in my soul.” As a teenager, he also spent smoky Friday nights with Pittston legend Gene Guarilia, who gave him the chance to play in his first group. LaBelle joined the Army Reserve in 1964 and formed Exact Change with Jeannie Lombardo, Frank Lambardo and John Christiano when he got home.
“I have always known the music I wanted to play — music with substance — but you have to go with the flow and continue to get better musically,” LaBelle said. “When we started, it was groups like the 5th Dimension or the Four Tops. As the years went by and the music changed, we had to change with it. We go with the music trends and mold the classic rock ‘n’ roll songs to fit our band.”
In 1969, LaBelle was hired as entertainment director by the owners of the Treadway Inn.
“That really propelled my career and made it that much better,” he said. “The more good work you get, the better players are attracted to you.”
Today, the Exact Change band boasts a “bad-ass brass horn section” and gets people on the dance floor, he explained. Members have come and gone, but LaBelle said some, such as trombone player Gary Rixner, have performed in it for more than two decades.
“He is one of the greatest musicians I have ever played with and a great personal friend,” LaBelle said. “The biggest challenge is keeping nine people very happy, all their egos in tact, plus mine, and trying to work together.”
Often, that work involves supporting community causes. LaBelle and his wife, Sharon, will be honored Friday, Nov. 3, at Northeast Regional Cancer Institute’s Spirit of Hope Celebration at Mohegan Sun Pocono, Plains Twp., for raising more than $200,000 over the past six years for the group through the annual Judi H. Rock On event, which LaBelle organized in memory of his niece, Judi A. Perry Hartridge. The Exact Change will perform that night.
“When we would put on events to raise money, other musicians would come and play, and they would never take a penny,” LaBelle said. “It is in our being as musicians that whatever we can do to help a cause, we do, especially the musicians in NEPA. They are so big-hearted. You can’t find any better anywhere.”
Venues, especially those where bigger bands could play, are shrinking everywhere, LaBelle said, but the Exact Change remains “busy enough to keep it going and keep everyone happy and still have a lot of fun.”
“That is the whole thing about where we are at right now, is having fun and, boy, do we ever,” he said. “This group is tremendously talented. I would put up this band up against any band that does what we do, any place, any time.”

Exact Change
Members: Tony Vergnetti and Fawn Mukerjee, lead vocals; Paul LaBelle, guitar; Joe Cole, bass; Bob O’Connell, keyboards; Patrick Marcinko, percussion; Gary Rixner, trombone/lead vocals; Nick Driscoll, saxophone/lead vocals; and Daniel Coyne, trumpet/flugelhorn
Based out of: Scranton
Genre: Classic rock ‘n’ roll
Online: exactchangemusic.com/home.html

 

Sounds – November 2, 2017

Sounds – November 2, 2017

GIRL POWER DIET CIG — ‘Swear I’m Good at This’
THE GOOD: The New Paltz, New York, indie pop/punk duo Diet Cig (female vocalist/guitarist Alex Luciano and drummer Noah Bowman) gives us a blistering full-length debut.
THE BAD: Sometimes the record feels like a collection of demos. A few tracks are little more than one verse, clocking in at about 70 seconds. You want the story to reach a logical resolution. That doesn’t always happen.
THE NITTY GRITTY: When everything falls into place though, Diet Cig can create powerful, angst-riddled music. Tracks such as building opener “Sixteen” and frustrated yet infectious closer “Tummy Ache” focus on young-adult concerns without trivializing them. If Luciano has a bad day, she can turn that turmoil into fist-pumping anthems built upon Bowman’s tight, crashing rhythms; searing, slashing guitars; and melodies that are half blazing hooks and half not-so-quiet desperation.
So while “Good at This” is certainly flawed, it remains a worthy first try that leaves us hopeful for an even brighter future.
BUY IT?: Your choice.

HAIM — ‘Something To Tell You’
THE GOOD: California indie pop/rockers Haim obliterate the sophomore slump on their follow-up to 2013’s bubbly debut “Days Are Gone.”
THE BAD: Nope.
THE NITTY GRITTY: The ladies bring back those airtight harmonies and solid grooves that made us all take notice four years ago. Flawlessly blending everything from ’70s soft rock to ’90s R&B to modern indie rock, the Haim sisters offer up a mix equaling appealing to a 55-year-old Fleetwood Mac enthusiast and a jaded college freshman. They also sound completely relaxed and confident while doing it. That’s not easy.
“Something” is another accomplished collection showing off Haim’s singing and songwriting chops. Is it slick? Hell yeah. But you won’t mind the gloss. The studio polish only enhances catchy gems such as “Little of Your Love” and “Found It in Silence.” Each song carries its own vibrant personality and soulful strut; the music is custom-made for a glorious, sunny day. Even the somber closer “Night So Long” isn’t a complete downer.
BUY IT?: Surely.

TORI AMOS — ‘Native Invader’
THE GOOD: Singer/songwriter/pianist Tori Amos comes back with a varied and topical 15th.
THE BAD: Pretty much every Amos record is an epic. Prepare to invest over an hour of your time. It’s only “bad” for the casual fans out there.
THE NITTY GRITTY: Yet, Amos also has a knack for keeping her lengthy works from slipping into repetitive ruts. She always brings on a variety of emotions, tempos and instrumentation. Every record becomes a mixed bag. “Invader” is no exception.
Just like everyone else in 2017, Amos gets political and environmentally conscious here. However, even when the messages aren’t so subtle, the subtext rarely overshadows the power of Amos’ melodies and arrangements. And there are some whoppers here. From the intensity building throughout “Cloud Riders” to the heavy sway carrying “Bang,” the drama never ends.
“Chocolate Song” gets clunky, and “Russia” is about as subtle as a smack in the teeth, but no Amos collection is perfect. Thankfully, “Invader” remains powerful and compelling from start to finish.
BUY IT?: Yeah.

Concerts – November 2, 2017

Concerts – November 2, 2017

F.M. Kirby Center, Wilkes-Barre
Tickets: 570-826-1100
Bleachers, Bishop Briggs, MisterWives and Welshly Arms, Thursday, Nov. 2
Johnny Mathis, Sunday, Nov. 5
Brit Floyd, Tuesday, Nov. 7
Simply Three, Wednesday, Nov. 15
Night Ranger and Loverboy, Friday, Nov. 24
Christmas with Jennifer Nettles, Nov. 30
Keller Williams, Friday, Dec. 8
The Oak Ridge Boys’ Christmas Celebration Tour, Monday, Dec. 18
Cabinet, Sunday, Dec. 31
ARRIVAL from Sweden, Saturday, Jan. 20

Mount Airy Casino Resort, Mount Pocono
Tickets: 877-682-4791
The Manhattan Transfer, Friday, Nov. 3 (Gypsies Lounge and Nightclub)
Pusha T, Saturday, Nov. 11 (Wet Nightclub)
Disco Explosion with Tavares & the Trammps, Saturday, Nov. 18 (Gypsies Lounge and Nightclub)
Lavell Crawford, Friday, Dec. 8 (Gypsies Lounge and Nightclub)
Foghat, Saturday, Dec. 16 (Gypsies Lounge and Nightclub)
The Amish Outlaws, Saturday, Dec. 30 (Gypsies Lounge and Nightclub)
Ma$e, Saturday, Dec. 30 (Wet Nightclub)
Gilbert Gottfried, Sunday, Dec. 31 (Gypsies Lounge and Nightclub)
Jim Breuer, Saturday, Jan. 13 (Gypsies Lounge and Nightclub)
J.B. Smoove, (Gypsies Lounge and Nightclub)

Penn’s Peak, Jim Thorpe
Tickets: 570-325-0371
Parmalee, Friday, Nov. 3
Blue Oyster Cut, Saturday, Nov. 4
LeAnn Rimes, Thursday, Nov. 9
An Acoustic Evening with Lee Brice and Randy Houser, Saturday, Nov. 11
Cheap Trick, Sunday, Nov. 12
Gene Watson, Friday, Nov. 17
Dark Star Orchestra, Wednesday, Nov. 22
Todd Rundgren, Saturday, Dec. 2
The Eagles Experience, Saturday, Dec. 16
Back To the Eighties Show with Jessie’s Girl, Friday, Dec. 29

River Street Jazz Cafe, Plains Twp.
Tickets: 570-822-2992
Moodswing, Friday, Nov. 3
Kiss the Sky, Saturday, Nov. 4
Todd Sheaffer from Railroad Earth & Dead Winter Carpenters, Thursday, Nov. 9
Appalachian Gypsy Tribe with Kluster Phunk, Friday, Nov. 10
Elephants Dancing and Fake Fight, Saturday, Nov. 11
Tweed, Friday, Nov. 17
7800 Fahrenheit — Bon Jovi tribute, Saturday, Nov. 18
Subnotics, Wednesday, Nov. 22
Clarence Spady Band, Friday, Nov. 24
Halfway To Hell, Saturday, Nov. 25

Sherman Theater, Stroudsburg
Tickets: 570-420-2808
The Major Minor, Friday, Nov. 3
Last in Line, Friday, Nov. 3
My Fest Too! Featuring Dead Men, Saturday, Nov. 4
Kashmir — Led Zeppelin tribute, Saturday, Nov. 4
The Wood Brothers, Sunday, Nov. 5
I the Victor, Friday, Nov. 10
An Acoustic Evening with Lyle Lovett and John Hiatt, Friday, Nov. 10
At the Heart of It, Saturday, Nov. 11
Mark Isaiah, Saturday, Nov. 11
A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie, Friday, Nov. 17

The Fillmore, Philadelphia
Tickets: 215-625-3681
Bernhoft, Thursday, Nov. 2
Elbow, Friday, Nov. 3
Tera Melos, Friday, Nov. 3
The Shins, Saturday, Nov. 4
Brujeria with Pinata Protest, Sunday, Nov. 5
Margaret Cho, Sunday, Nov. 5
White Reaper, Monday, Nov. 6
Grizzly Bear, Tuesday, Nov. 7
All Them Witches, Tuesday, Nov. 7
J.I.D. and EarthGang, Wednesday, Nov. 8
MAX, Thursday, Nov. 9
The Used with Glassjaw, Friday, Nov. 10
Snakehips, Friday, Nov. 10
Maria Bamford, Sunday, Nov. 12

Electric Factory, Philadelphia
Tickets: 215-627-1332
Flogging Molly, Friday, Nov. 3
Flying Lotus in 3-D, Saturday, Nov. 4
Kodak Black, Tuesday, Nov. 7
Johnnyswim, Wednesday, Nov. 8
R.L. Grime, Thursday, Nov. 9
A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie, Friday, Nov. 10
Periphery and Animals as Leaders, Saturday, Nov. 11
Young M.A., Thursday, Nov. 16
Tchami & Malaa, Friday, Nov. 17
Odesza, Monday, Nov. 20

Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia
Tickets: 800-298-4200
Imagine Dragons, Thursday, Nov. 2
Janet Jackson, Monday, Nov. 13
Jay-Z, Friday, Dec. 1
Jingle Ball, Wednesday, Dec. 6
Andrea Bocelli, Friday, Dec. 8
Trans-Siberian Orchestra, Sunday, Dec. 17
The Killers, Saturday, Jan. 13
Lana Del Rey, Sunday, Jan. 21
Jeff Dunham, Sunday, Feb. 11
Kid Rock, Friday, Feb. 23

Bethel Woods Center for the Arts, Bethel, New York
Tickets: 866-781-2922
Bela Fleck and Abigail Washburn,
Saturday, Nov. 4
Los Lonely Boys, Sunday, Nov. 5
Eileen Iver’s A Joyful Christmas,
Friday, Dec. 15

Madison Square Garden, New York City
Tickets: 212-307-7171
Joe Rogan, Friday, Nov. 3
The Tenderlions Live, Thursday, Nov. 9
La Salsa Vive, Friday, Nov. 10
Dead and Company, Sunday, Nov. 12, and Tuesday, Nov. 14
Night of Too Many Stars Hosted by Jon
Stewart, Saturday, Nov. 18
Harlem Globetrotters, Friday, Nov. 24
Andrea Bocelli, Wednesday, Dec. 13, and Thursday, Dec. 14

Beacon Theatre, New York City
Tickets: 212-465-6500
Jerry Seinfeld, Thursday, Nov. 2
Jethro Tull by Ian Anderson, Friday, Nov. 3
The Fab Faux, Saturday, Nov. 4
Tori Amos, Tuesday, Nov. 7, and Wednesday, Nov. 8
Lyle Lovett and John Hiatt, Sunday, Nov. 12
Lindsey Stirling, Tuesday, Nov. 14
Ringo Starr and His All Starr Band, Wednesday, Nov. 15
King Crimson, Friday, Nov. 17

SteelStacks, Bethlehem
Tickets: 610-332-1300
TUSK — the Ultimate Fleetwood Mac tribute, Friday, Nov. 10
The Accidentals, Tuesday, Nov. 14
Wild Adriatic, Thursday, Nov. 16
Kevin Griffin, Thursday, Nov. 16
The Aardvarks and the Sofa Kings, Saturday, Nov. 18
Thanksgiving Eve with Steve Brosky and His Lil Big Band, Wednesday, Nov. 22
Hot Blooded: The Foreigner Experience,
Friday, Nov. 24
The Weeklings, Saturday, Nov. 25

Sounds – October 26, 2017

Sounds – October 26, 2017

ALT-J — ‘Relaxer’ 
THE GOOD: British indie rock outfit Alt-J releases its third. I guess that’s “good” for established fans.
THE BAD: I nodded off there for a second.
THE NITTY GRITTY: That’s this band’s biggest problem. For all its banging rhythms, multi-layered atmospherics, vocal twitches courtesy of frontman Joe Newman and wild mood swings, Alt-J can’t seem to make music that’s inherently INTERESTING. The lyrics are forgettable, the melodies lackadaisical. And these regrettable conditions don’t seem to change much from record to record.
“Relaxer” is simply another gloomy collection that drifts out of focus and seeps into the wallpaper. This time, the lads added some subtle string arrangements and female guest vocals courtesy of Wolf Alice’s Ellie Roswell. These touches make tracks like “3WW” and “Pleader” kind of sweet; you almost want to revisit them. But when the band attempts injecting some much-needed life into the party, we get the proto-punk stupidity of “Hit Me Like That Snare.” You can’t win with these guys.
BUY IT?: Meh…probably another Alt-J worth skipping.

PHOENIX — ‘Ti Amo’
THE GOOD: French indie pop/rockers Phoenix come back with a colorful, multi-lingual sixth.
THE BAD: No gripes.
THE NITTY GRITTY: Recorded in the band’s native country during a time of terrorism and social unrest, “Ti Amo” feels like one big, warm, fuzzy safe space. And that’s not a bad thing. While many indie rockers are confronting issues head-on, Phoenix chose instead to hit the dance floor while taking us on a whirlwind trip across Europe. It also creates a set that’s distinctly Phoenix while not strictly repeating any past work — a logical, refreshing progression.
Tracks such as “Tuttifrutti” and “Goodbye Soleil” are built on irresistible galloping grooves and overstuffed pink, fluffy melodies. More delicate bits, such as “Fior Di Latte” and “Via Veneto,” are swaying, synth-based swatches of new wave that are both hypnotic and painfully romantic.
“Ti Amo” makes it OK to simply feel good again. Close your eyes. Become lost in the streamlined flow of it all. Dance. Smile. It’s a beautiful day.
BUY IT?: Yes.

BLEACHERS — ‘Gone Now’ 
THE GOOD: Singer/songwriter Jack Antonoff releases his second effort as Bleachers.
THE BAD: No complaints.
THE NITTY GRITTY: The first Bleachers record, 2014’s “Strange Desire,” sounded different from Antonoff’s work with Fun; we heard a bit LESS pop and a little MORE rock. “Gone Now” sees some of Fun’s bubblier elements creeping back into the mix. The beats are more important, the guitars less so. Keyboards and horns are more prevalent. And those bold singalongs for which the guy is known play a bigger role this time. Throw in a few random spoken-word samples and “Gone Now” becomes a lot of fun (pun intended).
At the same time, though, it’s an album with recurring musical themes and reprises, making for a bold and complex structure. Antonoff wants us to smile and clap our hands (the rhythms and melodies sweep you away), but he’s also hoping we’ll think a little too. The trip is so vibrant though, you won’t mind putting in the extra effort.
BUY IT?: Yes.

Concerts – October 26, 2017

Concerts – October 26, 2017

F.M. Kirby Center, Wilkes-Barre
Tickets: 570-826-1100
Penn State’s Premiere Jazz Ensemble, Thursday, Oct. 26
Arlo Guthrie, Friday, Oct. 27
The Fab Faux, Saturday, Oct. 28
Bleachers, Bishop Briggs, MisterWives and Welshly Arms, Thursday, Nov. 2
Johnny Mathis, Sunday, Nov. 5
Brit Floyd, Tuesday, Nov. 7
Simply Three, Wednesday, Nov. 15
Night Ranger and Loverboy, Friday, Nov. 24
Christmas with Jennifer Nettles, Nov. 30
Keller Williams, Friday, Dec. 8

Mount Airy Casino Resort, Mount Pocono
Tickets: 877-682-4791
Brian McKnight, Friday, Oct. 27 (Gypsies Lounge and Nightclub)
The Manhattan Transfer, Friday, Nov. 3 (Gypsies Lounge and Nightclub)
Pusha T, Saturday, Nov. 11 (Wet Nightclub)
Disco Explosion with Tavares & the Trammps, Saturday, Nov. 18 (Gypsies Lounge and Nightclub)
Lavell Crawford, Friday, Dec. 8 (Gypsies Lounge and Nightclub)
Foghat, Saturday, Dec. 16 (Gypsies Lounge and Nightclub)
The Amish Outlaws, Saturday, Dec. 30 (Gypsies Lounge and Nightclub)
Ma$e, Saturday, Dec. 30 (Wet Nightclub)
Gilbert Gottfried, Sunday, Dec. 31 (Gypsies Lounge and Nightclub)

Penn’s Peak, Jim Thorpe
Tickets: 570-325-0371
The Glenn Miller Orchestra, Thursday, Oct. 26
Molly Hatchet with Black Oak Arkansas, Friday, Oct. 27
The Land of OZZ, Saturday, Oct. 28
O.A.R., Sunday, Oct. 29
Parmalee, Friday, Nov. 3
Blue Oyster Cut, Saturday, Nov. 4
LeAnn Rimes, Thursday, Nov. 9
An Acoustic Evening with Lee Brice and Randy Houser, Saturday, Nov. 11
Cheap Trick, Sunday, Nov. 12

River Street Jazz Cafe, Plains Twp.
Tickets: 570-822-2992
Idol Kings — Journey, John Mellencamp and Tom Petty tribute, Friday, Oct. 27
Flux Capacitor, Saturday, Oct. 28
Moodswing, Friday, Nov. 3
Kiss the Sky, Saturday, Nov. 4
Todd Sheaffer from Railroad Earth & Dead Winter Carpenters, Thursday, Nov. 9
Appalachian Gypsy Tribe with Kluster Phunk, Friday, Nov. 10
Elephants Dancing and Fake Fight, Saturday, Nov. 11
Tweed, Friday, Nov. 17
7800 Fahrenheit — Bon Jovi tribute, Saturday, Nov. 18
Subnotics, Wednesday, Nov. 22

Sherman Theater, Stroudsburg
Tickets: 570-420-2808
Chris Lane, Friday, Oct. 27
I Prevail, Saturday, Oct. 28
Punk N Ska-Lo-Ween with Slightly Askew, Saturday, Oct. 28
The Pocono Great Talent Event 2, Sunday, Oct. 29
The Major Minor, Friday, Nov. 3
Last in Line, Friday, Nov. 3
My Fest Too! Featuring Dead Men, Saturday, Nov. 4
Kashmir — Led Zeppelin tribute, Saturday, Nov. 4
The Wood Brothers, Sunday, Nov. 5
I the Victor, Friday, Nov. 10
An Acoustic Evening with Lyle Lovett and John Hiatt, Friday, Nov. 10

The Fillmore, Philadelphia
Tickets: 215-625-3681
Louis the Child, Friday, Oct. 27
Mr. Brightside — 2000s Indie Night, Friday, Oct. 27
Leon, Saturday, Oct. 28
Krewella, Saturday, Oct. 28
Niall Horan, Sunday, Oct. 29
Lil Peep, Monday, Oct. 30
Phoebe Ryan, Tuesday, Oct. 31
Bernhoft, Thursday, Nov. 2
Elbow, Friday, Nov. 3
Tera Melos, Friday, Nov. 3
The Shins, Saturday, Nov. 4

Electric Factory, Philadelphia
Tickets: 215-627-1332
Getter, Thursday, Oct. 26
Motionless in White, Tuesday, Oct. 31
Flogging Molly, Friday, Nov. 3
Flying Lotus in 3-D, Saturday, Nov. 4
Kodak Black, Tuesday, Nov. 7
Johnnyswim, Wednesday, Nov. 8
R.L. Grime, Thursday, Nov. 9
A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie, Friday, Nov. 10
Periphery and Animals as Leaders, Saturday, Nov. 11

Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia
Tickets: 800-298-4200
Powerhouse, Friday, Oct. 27
Fall Out Boy, Sunday, Oct. 29
Imagine Dragons, Thursday, Nov. 2
Janet Jackson, Monday, Nov. 13
Jay-Z, Friday, Dec. 1
Jingle Ball, Wednesday, Dec. 6
Andrea Bocelli, Friday, Dec. 8
Trans-Siberian Orchestra, Sunday, Dec. 17
The Killers, Saturday, Jan. 13
Lana Del Rey, Sunday, Jan. 21

Bethel Woods Center for the Arts, Bethel, New York
Tickets: 866-781-2922
Bela Fleck and Abigail Washburn, Saturday, Nov. 4
Los Lonely Boys, Sunday, Nov. 5
Eileen Iver’s A Joyful Christmas, Friday, Dec. 15

Madison Square Garden, New York City
Tickets: 212-307-7171
Joe Rogan, Friday, Nov. 3
The Tenderlions Live, Thursday, Nov. 9
La Salsa Vive, Friday, Nov. 10
Harlem Globetrotters, Friday, Nov. 24
Andrea Bocelli, Wednesday, Dec. 13, and Thursday, Dec. 14

Beacon Theatre, New York City
Tickets: 212-465-6500
Kevin James, Saturday, Oct. 28, and Sunday, Oct. 29
Ludovico Einaudi, Monday, Oct. 30
Courtney Barnett and Kurt Vile, Wednesday, Nov. 1
Jerry Seinfeld, Thursday, Nov. 2
Jethro Tull by Ian Anderson, Friday, Nov. 3
The Fab Faux, Saturday, Nov. 4
Tori Amos, Tuesday, Nov. 7, and Wednesday, Nov. 8
Lyle Lovett and John Hiatt, Sunday, Nov. 12
Lindsey Stirling, Tuesday, Nov. 14
Ringo Starr and His All Starr Band, Wednesday, Nov. 15
King Crimson, Friday, Nov. 17

SteelStacks, Bethlehem
Tickets: 610-332-1300
Dennis Quaid and the Sharks, Friday, Oct. 27
TUSK — the Ultimate Fleetwood Mac tribute, Friday, Nov. 10
The Accidentals, Tuesday, Nov. 14
Wild Adriatic, Thursday, Nov. 16
Kevin Griffin, Thursday, Nov. 16
The Aardvarks and the Sofa Kings, Saturday, Nov. 18
Thanksgiving Eve with Steve Brosky and His Lil Big Band, Wednesday, Nov. 22
Hot Blooded: The Foreigner Experience, Friday, Nov. 24
The Weeklings, Saturday, Nov. 25

Sounds – October 19, 2017

Sounds – October 19, 2017

RANCID — ‘Troublemaker’ 
THE GOOD: Bay area punk legends Rancid remain loud and livid on their ninth.
THE BAD: Tim Armstrong and crew aren’t angry young men anymore, Rancid being a cohesive unit for over a quarter century now. But they’re now pissed-off middle-aged dudes. That has to be legit enough for you.
THE NITTY GRITTY: Thankfully, the guys aren’t aging gracefully. Rancid is one of a handful of punk bands that remain both relevant and potent decades into their careers. Bad Religion (another strong punk mainstay) guitarist Brett Gurewitz produces “Troublemaker,” a loud, melodic mix of blue-collar and political anthems played either fast and hard (“All American Neighborhood”) or straight down a rock ‘n’ roll middle ground (“Bovver Rock ‘n’ Roll”). Of course, we get a few pumping ska-flavored cuts (“Where I’m Going”) as well.
Sure “Troublemaker” may be a little predictable. However, Rancid does what it does so well (and often better than its younger peers), so the guys don’t need to re-invent themselves. We wouldn’t want that anyway.
BUY IT?: Yep.

311 — ‘Mosaic’
THE GOOD: Nebraska alt-rockers 311 return with their 12th.
THE BAD: It might as well be their sixth, 10th or 20th.
THE NITTY GRITTY: Sorry, I’m a “casual fan.” Every album seems to have two cuts for which I go absolutely bonkers, along with a dozen other tracks that sound like pale imitations of those two awesome songs. C’mon, 311 enthusiasts, admit it. These guys have made slight variations on the same album for over two decades now.
You get that infectious mix of hard rock, reggae, ska and funk — party music filled with declarations of good vibes and daily affirmations. This time, the best songs are right up front: smooth, swirling single “Too Much To Think” followed by the more progressive, classical-tinged “Wildfire.”
Too bad “Mosaic” feels stuck on repeat about 10 songs in (and you still have another seven tracks to go). Definitely flawed and predictable, “Mosaic” could have used a slight trim. Maybe take this one in small doses.
BUY IT?: Your call.

FAMILY ANIMALS — ‘Don’t Expect a Climax’
THE GOOD: Scranton indie rockers Family Animals come back with an unpredictable third full-length album.
THE BAD: It’s not bad, but expect a record that’s all over the proverbial musical map.
THE NITTY GRITTY: Brothers Anthony and Jesse Viola and their buddy Frank DeSando bookend “Climax” with a pair of extended prog-rock pieces recalling ’70s outfits such as Nektar, Klaatu and Lighthouse (if they fired the horn section). Tight harmonies, swirling bits of organ, varying tempos, violent mood swings — it’s heavy, man. Yet the guys pull it off without sounding pretentious. After “Category 5 Sexplosion” closes, you WANT to move forward.
That’s when you’re greeted with the ska-tinged frolic of “Fun Loving Song,” the rollicking “Face Off” and a host of other tracks digging up sounds as disparate as early Red Hot Chili Peppers to prime Screaming Trees. Yet Family Animals continues to blaze new trails (as opposed to just soaking up grooves from the past 45 years).
The boys refuse to be pigeonholed. “Climax” is a trippy experiment that rarely falters.
BUY IT? Yep.

Scranton-based Family Animals gallops on with new album

Scranton-based Family Animals gallops on with new album

Frank DeSando, Anthony Viola and Jesse Viola used many names for their band since picking up their instruments in 2000.
After playing around with several monikers, the trio won a battle of the bands show at Scranton Cultural Center at The Masonic Temple as Family Animals.
“There was a good crowd and the show went well, so we decided to keep the name,” guitarist Jesse Viola said.

Since that show in 2008, the group has performed live, written music and recorded albums in and around Northeast Pennsylvania. Its newest album, “Don’t Expect a Climax,” debuted Sept. 30 and is available for purchase on all major streaming platforms, at shows and online at familyanimals.bandcamp.com. The musicians recently went On the Record to discuss their time playing together in the region.

Q: How did you all meet?
Jesse Viola: Anthony and I are brothers. We met Frankie when we were just youngsters, too young to recall the moment exactly, but we grew up two doors away. So we’ve basically known each other our whole lives.

Q: How did you each get involved in music?
Anthony Viola: We all in some way or another have a life-long passion for music. Growing up, we all always loved it.
JV: My brother and I started taking guitar lessons together when I was 9 and he was 12, while Frankie took bass lessons at 11, all at Gallucci Music in Scranton. We all started together and all knew we wanted to play in a band together.

Q: What do you remember about the first time you performed in public together?
AV: The first time we ever played in public was actually about six months after we all started, and it was Jesse’s fifth-grade dance. I remember some kids were scared, and as soon as we finished, the DJ came out and started blasting “Who Let the Dogs Out” and all the 11-year-old kids went crazy.

Q: What was the process like for writing your new album?
JV: We are always writing new material and probably have more unreleased songs than released ones. So for “Don’t Expect a Climax,” it was more a matter of picking the right compilation of songs to record. Once that was decided, we recorded and mixed the songs ourselves with our own equipment. The whole process took a little more than a year. Then we really lucked out with Eric Ritter at Windmill Agency generously offering to master the album. We cannot thank him enough.

Q: How have you changed as musicians over the years?
Frank DeSando: We’ve always kind of made it a point to not limit ourselves musically and play what we enjoy, whether or not it stays true to a particular genre. I think, because of that, we’ve always ventured into trying to play different styles of our respective instruments, even pulling in new instruments we aren’t too familiar with to achieve a sound we want. I feel like we are still growing and learning as musicians to this day, and (I) don’t feel like that will ever change. There will always be something new to discover. I think that’s part of why we love it so much.

Q: What are some of your favorite memories as a part of this band?
AV: I just love being able to do what I love with my best friends. I feel like we are always hanging out anyway, and the friendships kind of just blend into the music somehow. It’s hard to remember specific times when it feels like a constant adventure. Some things that come to mind though are being flashed, meeting some bands I really love to listen to and just that feeling when the night comes together perfect, where we all feel on and the place is packed and the roar of a couple hundred people just feels amazing.

Q: How has the NEPA music scene changed over the years?
FD: It seems to me, in recent years, the NEPA scene as a whole has really come together more as some kind of crazy family. Everyone seems to know everyone on some level and has each other’s backs, from the musicians, artists, photographers, filmmakers, journalists and even the bar owners. I don’t know if social media can be credited for that or what, but it’s pretty cool.

Q: Have you faced any major challenges as a rising band?
JV: Being an independent band, it’s a challenge having to learn the business aspect of the music industry. Anthony does most of the promotion and booking, which can be an overwhelming task, but we’ve all been trying to help out in that area.
AV: Also, I feel like we grew up in a weird time; we picked up our instruments in 2000, and when we were playing in high school, it was still an age of hanging flyers and calling bars. I didn’t have a cell phone until I was 19, and it was a flip phone. So, adapting to this new marketplace that is social media has been a challenge in itself. I don’t really want to be on Facebook and Instagram all the time, but as a band we have to keep up on stuff like that. It’s just a different time where people can access so much material and so much art, and the bar is always being raised for entertainment and what’s entertaining.

Q: What are your future goals for the band?
AV: I have so many goals for the band. I’d really love to tour a lot more and go further and further. I want our ad mats, flyers, artwork, everything to always get better and portray the band’s vibe better. I want to release albums quicker than every two years, and most of all I want this to be my job one day. Not because I see it as a good money-making prospect but more because I love doing it. It’s what we do for fun, and I can’t imagine the happiness that comes with making a living through what you’re passionate about.