January 16, 2013

Threats & Promises

Sweet Knievel

Hey, people. Welcome to this week’s blustery update. Half the bluster is courtesy of me, and the rest is from Old Man Winter, who I’ve not actually turned into yet, despite rumors to the contrary. So, with that, let’s get going…

The Axe Effect: Mad Axes finally celebrated the release of its new album last week. The fashion-forward hip-hop crew formally recognized its album You Are the Real Monster at the Caledonia Lounge on a bill shared with Ritvals, National Anthem and Moths. Although the album was released digitally last month, the band has proper CDs now, which they describe as “vintage style.” Mad Axes has popped its cork with incredible panache via a new video for the song “New Wave.” Although the track originally appeared on the group's first album, appropriately titled Debut Smash, there's a remix of it on the new album, and the vintage cartoon clip is a true treat of reverse engineering. Dig it at Or, head over to the brand new Mad Axes website at, where you can grab your free digital copy of the album, see the video and basically be all up on the techno tip with this shizz.

Two for Flinching: That never slowing train, Tunabunny, is recording a new album. Again. The peach fuzz is barely off the group’s latest album, Genius Fatigue (Flagpole's fifth favorite album of 2012), and it's already back at the drawing board. Which, really, is exactly what artists are supposed to do. I've never met a single painter who waits to create until all the press is in, so this general bucking of the album cycle pleases me very much. On Feb. 8, Tunabunny plays an enviable gig at Farm 255 with Philadelphia's U.S. Girls. Sharing the bill this night is k (v) i d s and Bubbly Mommy Gun. If you want the lowdown on the touring bands, please check out and Otherwise, keep up with Tunabunny via

Double Daredevil: Unabashed local jam duo Sweet Knievel will release its debut album, Collapsible, on Jan. 29. Formed way back in 2001 (!) by Efren's Jonathan Brill and DubConscious' Jerry Hendelberg, the pair has basically focused on playing whatever it wants, dipping deeply into the motley stew of its members' shared interest in reggae, jazz and folk. The self-released nine-track debut was recorded in a single day back in February 2012, and released digitally in April. This “proper” release is really just the birth of a CD version. On record, the core pair is joined by drummer Jay Hoots and bassist Kris Dale, while Brill handles guitar and vocals and Hendelberg tickles the keys and sings, too. This all has the flavor of something not taken terribly seriously, but also not treated so flippantly that it devolves into joke territory. I’ll be generous and just say it’s totally not my bag but I can imagine someone gladly toting it. Stream the album at, and sleep on the porch over at

Pearl Factory: By the time you read this, the first two dates of Hand Sand Hands' January residency at Flicker Theatre & Bar will have happened. But don’t sweat it, lil’ homie, because there’s still three dates left in this weekly "Weird Fest." Hand Sand Hands is probably my favorite band this month—I’m hooked like Jazzercise on its weirdo noise, beat throbs and high-pitched everything else. See what I mean at The upcoming dates for the HSH Flicker residency are Jan. 17 (with Brothers, John Fernandes, Kill Kill Buffalo and Future Ape Tapes), Jan. 24 (with Cult of Riggonia, Tom Television, Grant Evans and Motion Sickness of Time Travel) and Jan. 31 (with Island Dogs, I Come to Shanghai, Doug Main & The City Folk and C.S. Luxem.) Hand Sand Hands has been around for more than a good minute, and it's basically one of those projects I’ll listen to and say to myself, “Yes. This is exactly what needs to be happening. Or, rather, exactly what I need to be happening.” Dig deep at

Quite Literally for the Kids: The deadline to apply for one of the Winter 2013 Mini-Grants from AthFest Educates is this Friday, Jan. 18. These grants, awarded twice a year, are small amounts of money (typically up to $1,000) specifically designed to support art and music programs in local schools. Basically, anything that directly impacts those programs is an acceptable use of the funds. AthFest Educates gives examples like "funding for instrument purchase or repair, lessons, field trips, assistance bringing musical or theatrical performances to your schools, art projects and scholarships," but there may be some other specific need your program has, and you're encouraged to apply. Who are you? That's pretty flexible, too! The organization says "teachers, administrators, parents, students and nonprofit organizations" are all welcome to apply. Applications can be found at, and more information on AthFest Educates can be found at