May 26, 2014

That Was The Show That Was: Amanda X with Sneeze and Dylan Ewan & The Sulk Scouts | O'Brien's | May 19

Amanda X, May 19, 2014

You may recall that a year ago we sang the praises of the massively fecund Philly indie pop scene in our review of Radiator Hospital's life-affirming Something Wild long-player [review]. Given the fact that our executive editor grew up in the 215, this publication aspires to stay abreast of what is what in the Philly musical underground, and there is definitely a lot of "what" surrounding that city's garage rock three-piece Amanda X. Fronted by guitarist Cat Park, the act proffers a potent strain of hook-heavy punk not far removed from that of erstwhile Philadelphians Swearin'. The most affecting Amanda X songs pit Park's vocals against those of bassist Kat Bean, a pairing that creates strained, distant and almost subversive harmonies.

The trio performed a week ago at O'Brien's in Allston Rock City, billed behind local noise-pop titans Sneeze. We're given to understand that the fellows in Sneeze helped the Philadelphians get on the bill, but we expect Amanda X's star will only continue to rise, and they won't need much in the way of help scoring gigs in the future. Primarily playing tunes from its forthcoming, Jeff Zeigler-recorded debut record Amnesia for the storied Philly label Siltbreeze (which has released notable records for a quarter century from bands including Bardo Pond, The Dead C and Temple Of Bon Matin), Amanda X pressed a fully-realized, confident sound, a sound that carried an even sharper edge, as the date was at the tail-end of the band's now-wrapped strand of North American tour dates. Scattered shows this summer take the threesome to ports of call including NYC's Rough Trade outlet store/concert space June 13 with Tweens and Marnie Stern; Amanda X is also already booked to play Philly's Underground Arts Sept. 11 with legendary Japanese indie institution Shonen Knife.

Not to be overlooked is the fact that Sneeze also have a new full-length on deck; the Justin Pizzoferrato'd (yeah, dude gets his own verb at this point) Wilt will be issued next month on Glory Kid. Based on a brace of thrilling preview tracks, which we've posted below, the set will be a doozy (pre-order here if you know what is good for you). For its set a week ago, Sneeze delivered its characteristically thick, sludgy riffs and shouty, pained vocals, both underpinned by a sturdy melodic sense. The trio plays O'Brien's again next month for the Wilt release show, an evening that also features the ridiculously great Ovlov; full details for that event are right here. That show presently appears to be Sneeze's only engagement of the summer, but our spidey sense tells us there will be much rocking to be done once Wilt actually drops. BUFU Records affiliate Dylan Ewen & The Sulk Scouts opened with its goofball take on retro-leaning girl-group pop and beachy surf music. Sources tell us future Ewen dates include a pair of house shows in late June, so ask a punk for details. -- Dillon Riley

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