When you are at a Ron Gallo show leaning against the bar whining to your roommate about last night you will probably get called out and like it, you might get accidentally whacked by a guitar headstock or your phone punted, you might find yourself succumbing to the internal animalistic feelings you’ve been suppressing all week and you might even leave a slightly better person. It is a confrontational show with good intention, like a final punch before everything goes to shit. If you say hello afterwards, you might be shocked to be greeted by a genuinely friendly and grateful person that five minutes ago looked like a terrifying, spastic, red-faced maniac.
Formerly the frontman of Philadelphia-based rock and roll band Toy Soldiers, Gallo has gone through the return of Saturn and the wringer of life over the last couple of years and has come out the other side a person that dances where the infuriated fighter-of-the-good-fight and the observational jokester hang out. Like some big-haired spiritual punk raised in the ’90s, Gallo is well-informed of the 20th century roots of American music and obsessed with the NOW in a time where people are drugged by distraction, bullshit and mediocrity. On Gallo’s second solo record, HEAVY META (out early 2017), he candidly tackles the heavier topics and dark experiences he lived through during these transformative years.
With their long-awaited third album Everyone Else, Slothrust deliver ten riveting anthems that reward repeated listens. The songs grab the ear and pierce the psyche with complex arrangements and lyrical depth intensified by guitarist/vocalist Leah Wellbaum’s penetrating vocal delivery.
Slothrust is Wellbaum, Kyle Bann (bass), and Will Gorin (drums). The trio first staked out their unique strain of jazz- and blues-afflicted rock as students at Sarah Lawrence College. The band’s 2012 debut Feels Your Pain, and its successor 2014’s Of Course You Do, established the band as a breed apart, serving up deceptively clever epics that veer satisfyingly between incandescent riffing and pop hooks, winsome anxiety and powerful heft.
Born out of fierce friendship and a mutual affection for melody, Chicago’s Ratboys – anchored by the partnership of Julia Steiner and Dave Sagan – aims to ‘write songs that tell stories and honor the intimacy of memory,’ according to Steiner. GN, the group’s second full-length album via Topshelf Records, offers a bevy of tales, laments and triumphs, which recount near-tragedies by the train tracks, crippling episodes of loneliness, remembrances of a deceased family pet with freezer burn, and on and on.