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Vow of Volition Make the Final Round of the Battle for Warped Tour

The Vans Warped Tour was the first festival for many of us back in the day. As young'ns, it's likely we didn't necessarily think about all that went into figuring out the bands to book and play the whole shebang. Part of that process, at least locally, seems to be through a series "battle of the bands" style competitions specifically for landing a spot on the fest. Quite a few Portland bands have been furiously playing against one another for said spot, and djent/prog metal act Vow of Volition are one of the acts that made it to the finals.

Warped Tour was always the type of festival that included much in the realm of pop punk, punk punk, emo and metal, so Vow of Volition's advancement to the final round is no surprise. Their incredibly technical, at times jazzy metal stands out in Portland's pretty linear popular music scene, and is much worthy of the attention its getting.

Those that want to support Vow of Volition in driving home the permanent spot can go to the Battle for Warped Tour finals Saturday at the Hawthorne Theatre.





Singled Out: Kendra Morris explores "This Life" and "Who We Are"

Over the past year-ish Kendra Morris has released one soulful-funky-R&B banger after another. And since we’re currently in the midst of a “singles round-up” phase here at DeliCorp (honestly these themes are chosen willy-nilly by our barbiturate-addicted CEO, the Colonial Clive Fowley, but we find a way to make them work regardless) it’s appropriate that we provide a round up of Ms. Morris’ recent singles output on the occasion of her recent 45-rpm release “This Life”/“Who We Are” (available on opaque red vinyl!) on the Dayton, Ohio-based Colemine Records (Dayton being the ancestral home to everyone from Bootsy Collins to Lakeside to Ohio Players and thus a fitting home to the Funk Music Hall of Fame & Exhibition Center) the A-side of which is laid-back, mid-tempo number called “This Life” which simmers at a rolling boil for its nearly-four-minute-run-time whilst utilizing a series of gambling metaphors (“I believe / if I lay myself on the table / just like an ace of spades / needs a queen to win / will you let me in?”) to describe the willy-nilly tossing of one’s heart across the Big Craps Table Of Life And Love And Everything Else. 

So yeah “This Life” is a great koo-koo kinda tune that one could easily imagine Frank Sinatra covering at his last engagement at the Sands (ain’t so far from “That’s Life” to “This Life” baby) but being a b-side kinda guy myself the real standout to my ears is “Who We Are” (both are co-written and co-arranged by Ms. Morris’ songwriting partner Jeremy Page) because it’s one of those burn-the-house-down-to-the-ground kinda songs that (unless you’re Peggy Lee) will lift you up to the heavens (peep those two-part harmonies around the two-minute mark) but then break you down again when the tune breaks down to a funeral organ accompanied by full choir that’ll have you sobbing into your Purell hand-sanitizing-wipe as Kendra repeatedly inquires “What is left to be living in?” and as the world disintegrates before our very eyes it’s a question on a lotta minds these days, baby, and most of all it’s that voice that puts the heavy emotion across and makes it appealing because Kendra’s obviously adept at belting it out to the cheap seats but with sentiments that are anything but cheap. 



But don’t get it twisted because Kendra Morris can put across sunnier material too with great conviction like slow-ride phunk of “Catch the Sun,” a single released a month ago in collaboration with “the world’s only synth and soul record label and production team” known as Eraserhood Sound with the sweetly nostalgic “When We Would Ride” as the b-side. and then nevermind the 2018 single just flat out called “Summertime” with a video shot at Coney Island.

And when you check out her repertoire it makes sense that Kendra got her earliest musical education from her parents’ Ruth Copeland and Chaka Khan records, but rest assured that what you see and hear above doesn’t cover all this lady’s capable of as made clear by her being the only artist ever to tour with/collaborate with/and be remixed by Dennis Coffey, DJ Premier, and Scarlett Johansson (please let them all collaborate one day as Kennis PreemoJo) so clearly she’s got some serious range. Oh and she’s got Wu-Tang/MF Doom connections too having contributed vocals to the Czarface Meets Metal Face and Czarface Meets Ghostface projects (plus Ms. Morris even animated and directed a music video for the former record) so just in case you think you’re cool Kendra’s ready to take you to school. (Jason Lee)





Singled Out: "Love Bomb" by Phranque

“Love Bomb” is a title utilized by musical artists ranging from N*E*R*D to Nick Cave (with Grinderman) from British-reality-show-girl-group Girls Aloud to Korean-reality-show-girl-group Fromis_9 which isn’t really that surprising because the phrase itself lends itself to a wide range of interpretations whether it’s used to say something like “I’m gonna bomb you with my love bomb, baby” which sounds like a Zep-era Robert Plant lyric if there were a few more baby’s added at the end, but then it could also be used in a song about bombing with an attempted romantic connection, or about how obsessive love can be a destructive force, or about how amorous feelings can fall from the sky seemingly without warning.

Or (stick with me here!) a “love bomb” could refer to how love has been weaponized by the capitalist-imperialist elite to subjugate and indoctrinate "the sheeple" who are compelled to pair off into nuclear family units (kinda like nuclear bomb fallout shelters!) thus helping to mitigate the threat of a collective uprising against the ruling class while also acting as the driving force behind capitalist structures of exploitation and continuous economic expansion (because if you’re truly in love you’re gonna rush out and buy that new washer-dryer set on sale at Best Buy!) but hey it’s just a theory.

But it’s a theory I feel like Phranque may be on board with (not to be confused with lesbian folk singer Phranc!) on his/her/their/its newest single called (wait for it…) “Love Bomb” which contains lyrics like “the greatest love ever known / re-wire the brain and forfeit the soul” and “turn the toxic swan song upside down / carve your favorite amputee / blast away the world we see / liquid metal heart / from your love bomb” and look I didn’t say all the lyrics make perfect sense but you get the gist of what Phranque’s maybe trying to say.

Lest you miss the subtleties in the lyrics, the music of “Love Bomb” gets across a similar subtext of capitalistic false consciousness with its shiny musical surfaces (the propulsive garage-rock riffage) acting as a sweet candy-coating for the darker stuff underneath like the spooky-sounding organ (perfect for Halloween!) and the doomy chord progression (the bridge section in particular!) not to mention the lyrics.

So just imagine if ZZ Top had suddenly gone goth in the ‘80s right in the middle of their MTV-friendly Eliminator phase and you’re in the ballpark at least. But even more than ZZ Top the band “Love Bomb” reminds me of most of all is Blue Öyster Cult because if you took out “(Don’t Fear) The Reaper” from that one scene in the original Halloween (1978) where it’s playing on the car radio as Jamie Lee Curtis and that other chick are driving around and smoking weed before the latter gets turned into chopped liver by Michael Myers and replaced it with the Phranque song under discussion I think it’d work pretty well.

And come to think of it some of their other songs remind me a bit of Blue Öyster Cult too because much like Long Island’s finest AOR rockers—BÖC are best known to the youth of today as an SNL punchline but back in the day they were cool enough to hang with Patti Smith—Phranque are not afraid to inject dark vibes and synthy textures into their sturdy rock tunes (check out “Mick & Keith Forever” off his/their last full-length 13 (La Cosa Nostra), or “Sea Winds” off Butcher the Scapegoat and peep those Blue Öystery vocal harmonies while you’re at it—nor afraid to inject some serious weirdness into the mix because Phranque’s albums are full of trippy instrumental interludes and other left-field touches. And hey maybe someday they’ll cover BÖC’s ”Joan Crawford” (1981) because that’s some crazy-ass shiz too but let’s just hope Phranque never becomes the butt of any cowbell-related future memes (stick to the maracas fellas!) featuring Christopher Walken. (Jason Lee)





Lovelorn wants to know "What's Yr Damage"?

As clearly indicated by its title, What’s Yr Damage (6131 Records)the debut LP by Philly-purveyors-of-psychotronic-rock Lovelorn clearly pays tribute to two iconic ‘80s bands—the first of which being Big Fun whose one-and-only Stateside hit came in 1988 with “Teenage Suicide (Don’t Do It),” the bombastic-dance-pop-with-a-social-message classic featured in the homicidal-high-school-rom-com Heathers (the second greatest movie ever made!) with its iconic catch phrase “What’s your damage?”; and the second of which being Black Flag, the iconic California hardcore-sters whose debut LP Damaged (1981) served as a paganistic paean to teenage alienation and craving (“Gimmie Gimmie Gimmie!”) with squalls of squalid guitar courtesy of Greg Ginnwhich isn't to dismiss the other influences at play here (industrial, shoegaze, dream pop, trip hop, who knows what else!) and despite being released two months ago it still sounds pretty darn good.

Across the album’s ten tracks the duo of Anna and Patrick place these disparate sonic fragments into close proximity like tectonic plates colliding and coalescing and forming into massive land masses and, I mean, just take a listen to the album’s second track “Sickness Reward,” which kicks off with an ambient Cabaret Voltaire-y soundscape (R.I.P. Richard H. Kirk) that's soon overlaid with a massive industrial-disco beat and heavy synth, and then stripped down to a minimal electro-pop groove when the vocals first enter, and then built back up again but with a growing sense of sonic disorder seeping in around the edges (the manic guitar, the power-drill synth) and be sure to check out the music video too (dir. Daniel Fried) which opens with a flipped Cannon Films logothe production studio that put out the greatest piece of cinema ever Ninja III: The Domination (don’t worry, it doesn’t matter if you’ve seen the first two) and I’m hoping the eventual sequel to this video sees the field-and-track athletes inexplicably attacked by a crazed ninja but I digress. 

Anyway, this is a record that really creates its own lane. And likewise for the lyrical content which addresses such serious topics as eating disorders, mental illness, and creating one's own lane (shades of Big Fun again and yes I know I know) but which also captures pure desire in the starkest of terms (“Gimmie Gimmie Gimmie”) or as Lovelorn themselves put on it on "Tiger," the final track of What’s Yr Damage: “I justify what I want / I already waited too long.” (Jason Lee)

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