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Archive for the ‘Control Top’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: CONTROL TOP-Control Top (2019).

Control Top is an intense punk/new wave band from Philly.  They are a must-see live.  Ali Carter is a dynamic front person.  Al Creedon’s guitar is a blast to see live and Alex Lichtenauer’s drums are even better when you can feel them.

This is their debut album.  A couple of songs run over 3 minutes, but most are in the two and a half minute range (the album is ten songs in 29 minutes).  While the music is mostly hardcore-ish, they have a very cool early new wave sound–robotic and precise.  There’s angular rhythms and interesting juxtapositions all underneath carter’s (mostly) screamed vocals.

“Type A” sets the mold with screamed vocals, interesting lead riffs and heavy chords.  Creedon makes all kinds of interesting walls of noise which never detract from the melody of the song itself.  “Office Rage” has thundering drums and a cool change of guitar sounds midway through the song.  not to mention when Carter sings “service with a smile,” the band pauses and she shouts “eat shit.”  How they manage to squeeze a guitar solo into this 3 minute song is beyond me.

“Chain Reaction” has jagged guitar chords and a robotic vocal delivery.  I love the way Carter’s bass holds down the melody while the guitar is just playing a wall of noise.  “Unapologetic” runs to almost four minutes with two distinct parts, the main verses that have distorted harmonic guitar notes and Carter’s staccato delivery and the piercing high notes of the “who’s” the bull in the China shop now?” part.

“Straight Jacket” is less abrasive than the other songs with a more new wave feel and Carter’s vocals more melodic.  “Covert Contracts” plays a lot with empty space–there’s moments with just bass and moments with just drums but the loud guitars are never far away, ready to fill in with squalls just when the song seem like they might be getting too quiet.

“Betrayed” returns to the angry style of the earlier songs–harsh guitars and appropriately angry vocals.  “Ego Deaf” has a few pummeling drum rolls in just over two minutes with a bass and drum-only portion before the ringing solo comes in.  “Traffic” is only 90 seconds long and it soars with harsh notes and angry vocals. Amazingly, it even has time for a slower middle section and a pause before the speed resumes.

“Prism” is a terrific new wave song.  The verses start with just bass and drums and vocals.  The chorus is crazy catchy, yes catchy.  Although the noisy guitar squalls after the chorus keep it from being too poppy.  The disc ends with “Black Hole” which shows off more of those drum fills and that rumbling bass.

This album is a cathartic blast and when the 30 minutes are over, you’ll want to start it again.

[READ: November 10, 2020] Mind of My Mind

I recently read (and loved) an excerpt from one of Octavia Butler’s stories.  So when this book came across my desk (perhaps all of her books are getting reissued in trade paperback?) I immediately decided it was time to start reading her books.

Obviously one wants to read a series in order.  But this was the book I so I hoped I could start here.  I had seen there was a prequel to this book, but that it was written after this one.  Just to make things more confusing, none of the books in the Patternist series were written in chronological story order.  Here is the story timeline (and when they were written).

1 Wild Seed (1980)
2 Mind of My Mind (1977)
3 Clay’s Ark (1984)
4 Survivor (1978)
5 Patternmaster (1976)

So this is the second book written and the second book chronologically.

At any rate, I didn’t need the other books to appreciate or understand this one.

The premise is fairly simple, but the execution is outstanding. (more…)

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[CANCELLED: May 22, 2020] Bully / The Spirit of the Beehive / Control Top

indexI really liked Bully’s first album Feels Like, which came out back in 2005.  Then they just sort of disappeared (I gather there were label issues with their second album).

They have a good grungey guitar sound with a controlled screaming vocal from Alicia Bognanno.  They would probably be a lot of fun live.

The two opening bands are from Philly.  I’ve seen them both and would love to see them again.

The Spirit of the Beehive were outstanding live.  I’d never hard of them before but they easily blew me away with their set which was a nice mix of shoegaze and noise.

Control Top are an outstanding punk band with great lead vocals from bassist Ali Carter.  I was supposed to see them in march but that show was one of the first postponed.

This is an outstanding bill and although the show is cancelled, I really hope the three can do a show again in the future.

Amazingly there were four different shows I would have gone to on this night.  And this one might have won out.

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[POSTPONED: March 28, 2020] Control Top/Pinkwash/Drill

indexI saw Control Top open for Ted Leo back in August.

They were incredible, especially considering they are a noise punk band and were opening for a much more sedate headliner.

I have never been so happy to have been there in time for an opener that I’d never heard of before.

I was so excited to see them headlining a show in their hometown.

I had not heard of Pinkwash, but when I looked them up I was immediately intrigued.  Pinkwashing is the LGBT variation of whitewashing stories.  They are a duo based in Philly and they play loud fast punk with powerful lyrics.  I hope I get to see them someday.

Drill is another band from Philly.  They have an EP out called This is Not a Drill. It has six songs in about ten minutes.  Although they are not hardcore speed punk, they are noisy.  I’ll bet they are really fun live.

control

 

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[POSTPONED: March 28, 2020] Palehound/Adult Mom/Corey Flood

indexI have seen Palehound twice (and Adult Mom once).

Palehound singer/guitarist Ellen Kempner is a fantastic guitarist and a really compelling frontwoman.  So when I saw that she was playing Boot & Saddle, I definitely wanted to see her once more.

Adult Mom is the creation of Stephanie Knipe.  I was really impressed by the Adult Mom band, especially drummer Liv Battell. I don’t know if it would have been the same band or a solo show, but I’m sure it would have been a great set.

Corey Flood is a band I haven’t heard of. They describe themselves as “west philly basement goth” which has a certain appeal.

Later on it was announced that Control Top was playing the same night across town.  I was genuinely torn about which show to go to, since I already had a ticket to this one.  But I was actually leaning towards Control Top since I’d only seen them once.

There are so many good or promising Philly bands right now, it’s an embarrassment of riches to be able to get to them so easily.

I guess a silver lining is that these shows are no longer in conflict and if they get rescheduled I may be able to go to both.

palehound

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[ATTENDED: August 24, 2019] Ted Leo and the Pharmacists

I recall being puzzled by the name of this band back ages ago when they were sometimes known as Ted Leo + Pharmacists.  It seemed like a cataloging nightmare.  But I can get over that and simply enjoy that Ted has fun with his band name (sometimes written as (TL/Rx)).  But this night they were billed as Ted Leo and the Pharmacists.  The Pharmacists have, as of late been a six piece:  Chris Wilson on drums, James Canty on guitar and keyboards, Marty Key on bass, Ralph Darden on guitar, and Adrienne Berry on saxophone and vocals and percussion.

After the bristling punk of Control Top, I wasn’t sure what Ted Leo would bring.  I know he has roots in punk, but surely not that much punk.  And, thankfully, he didn’t try to match Control Top, because that’s not his thing.  It is awesome that he brought them along, though.

Ted’s older songs were punky in the way that Billy Bragg’s early songs were punky–literate, angry and thoughtful–all to a catchy melody.  His newer songs are a bit more reflective (doom folk he called it).

He and the band came out and set things up and when he picked up his guitar people clapped and shouted.  He put a finger up–patience–and then they all left again for a couple of minutes. My only gripe about the show was that they made Control Top cut their set one song short because of time, and then Ted and Co. waited about ten minutes after their gear was set up to come out on stage–they could have played that one last song.  But that’s okay, Ted made up for it.   (more…)

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[ATTENDED: August 24, 2019] Control Top

I have wanted to see Ted Leo for a while.  In fact I almost saw him July 1 at Boot & Saddle, but that was a hectic week for me.  The opening band for that show was Tact, a Philadelphia band.  I was sure that after missing that show I’d have to wait a while for him to come around again.

But then he announced a brief tour that stopped in his once home state of New Jersey.  And I got to go to White Eagle Hall.  I love the venue.  It has great sound and it’s pretty close.  But man the lighting is terrible for taking pictures.

The opening band for this little tour was Control Top, another Philadelphia band.  Philly has been producing some great bands of late and Control Top is definitely one of them.

I was surprised by this billing because they couldn’t be any different.  It’s true that Leo has roots in the punk scene but Control Top is pure screaming punk through and through. like on “Black Hole

I listened to their album before the show and was pleased by their roaring sound and the intense vocals of Ali Carter.

But I was totally unprepared for the guitar theatrics of Al Creedon.  He didn’t do anything fancy but the noises that he wrung from that guitar were just unbelievable.  Even moreso was that he could come out of squalling noises like in “Type A” and jump right into a pretty or unexpectedly light riff.  (more…)

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