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The Big Takeover Issue #94

Matthew Berlyant

Matthew Berlyant has been writing for The Big Takeover since 2003. He started out writing numerous live show reviews and has interviewed many different musicians over the years for feature and short articles. Most recently, he interviewed X for the cover story of issue 82. Furthermore, he has interviewed the artist now known as Kristin Kontrol and wrote the cover story on Dum Dum Girls in issue 73. He also wrote the Vivian Girls cover story and interviewed them for issue #69. A music obsessive since he was a teenager, he started in music journalism while still a high school student by publishing several zines in the early ’90s that were focused on combining personal observations and documenting the New Jersey punk and hardcore scene of the time. He lives in New York City.

Zakk Sabbath - Doomed Forever Forever Doomed (Magnetic Eye)

23 March 2024

While remaining faithful to the original recordings (a wise move, in this case), Zakk and his band do manage to put some of their individual touches on this material.

Bloodstains - Bloodstains (self-released)

7 March 2024

Santa Ana, CA’s Bloodstains are back with their first full Lp and it’s an absolute corker!

Nasty Facts - "Drive My Car" EP (Left for Dead)

6 December 2022

While that pressing has sold out, a 2nd vinyl pressing (with a beautiful 11×17 poster) as well as a cassette and CD version have now been released, making it easier for fans who want a physical copy of this release to get one.

Brinsley Schwarz excerpt from issue 90

30 August 2022

I sat down to talk to legendary guitarist Brinsley Schwarz last September over Zoom to talk about his recently released 2nd solo album Tangled. During the course of our hour-long chat, we covered everything from the heady days of touring with Parker in the early ‘80s to his recent solo albums along with musings on topical issues such as COVID and even Steely Dan and James Bond.

R.E.M. - Chronic Town (I.R.S.)

23 August 2022

Suffice it to say that if you have any passing interest in indie or alternative rock or if you are a R.E.M. fan who’s somehow missed it all these years, you need to hear this.

Savage Republic - Tragic Figures (Real Gone Music)

14 July 2022

Known as well for their incendiary live shows that featured banging steel percussion on oil cans, metal pipes, and other unusual items that earned them a cult following amongst fans of industrial music back in the ‘80s, this 2 CD/2 LP edition features the original album on the first disc with pre-Tragic Figures recordings when they were known as Africa Corps featured on disc 2.

The Gerunds - Hitsville PA (Uranium Rush)

18 January 2022

Different from any of their previous or subsequent musical projects, yet very much bearing the hallmark of their respective styles, Hitsville PA has a mysterious, unique quality redolent of the literate indie-pop both excel at.

Josh Caterer - The Hideout Sessions (Pravda)

9 July 2021

He’s created something well worth hearing and not just for obsessive Smoking Popes fans.

Vitamin - Recordings 1981 (Don Giovanni)

28 June 2021

Included are 4 studio tracks and 9 live tracks, all among the best American no wave/post-punk material of the era.

Video Premiere: "Brilliance of a Language" by Lost Tapes

24 November 2020

Barcelona, Spain’s Lost Tapes unveils a video for a shimmering and delightful indie pop number from their upcoming EP via Sunday Records.

Robyn Hitchcock - Murmrr Theatre (Brooklyn) - November 21, 2019

27 November 2019

As the night closed with a stunning “Visions of Johanna,” we were transported back out into the Brooklyn night knowing that we’d once again witnessed an absolute master of his craft.

Robert Forster - Bell House (Brooklyn) - November 16, 2019

21 November 2019

The audience, in turn, gave him rousing applause at every turn, keeping him onstage at moments when others would’ve walked out awaiting applause for an encore. Visibly moved by this response, he vowed to come back to the U.S. sooner. We can’t wait.

ChameleonsVox with Theatre of Hate and Jay Aston - Saint Vitus (Brooklyn) - November 9, 2019

10 November 2019

By choosing to focus exclusively on Chameleons material, though, he made me and the rest of the crowd very happy!

Luna - Bowery Ballroom (New York) - October 20, 2019

5 November 2019

For the encore, we got another full set of covers (including an additional encore) and material from other Luna albums.

Vivian Girls - Warsaw (Brooklyn) - October 17, 2019

29 October 2019

If a welcome home reunion show could be more triumphant, I don’t really know how. I was blown away.

Graham Parker - City Winery (New York, NY) - May 6, 2019

7 May 2019

Far from a spent force, at 70, Parker is still an artist well worth your time, particularly in a live setting.

The Monochrome Set - Monty Hall (Jersey City, NJ) - Saturday March 2, 2019

4 April 2019

These legends are making vital new music every bit the equal of anything in their catalog.

Swervedriver - Warsaw (Brooklyn, NY) - Friday March 29, 2019

3 April 2019

Still, Swervedriver got a good crowd reaction and managed to play the best set I’ve ever seen them play

James White and the Blacks - Sax Maniac (Futurismo)

6 September 2018

Comprised of some of New York’s best session musicians and dedicated to his manager and girlfriend Anya Phillips (who passed away from cancer in 1981), this differs from his previous work, but not enough that fans who are unfamiliar with it shouldn’t hear it.

Neko Case - Hell-On (Anti)

27 June 2018

The album’s first great stretch of songs starts with the 3rd track, the lilting ballad “Halls of Sarah,” ending with a vocal hook utilizing Case’s astonishing voice that is destined to get stuck in your head for days afterwards.

The Trashcan Sinatras - Highline Ballroom (New York) - May 30th, 2018

1 June 2018

Songs that sound like whimpers on the original Lp like “Even the Odd” and closer “January’s Little Joke” were as powerful as the immortal singles such as the aforementioned “Obscurity Knocks” and “Only Tongue Can Tell.”

Nick Lowe - Nick the Knife & The Abominable Showman (Yep Roc)

24 October 2017

After reissuing Nick Lowe’s first two solo albums in 2008 and 2011, respectively, Yep Roc have expanded their reissue campaign to include his entire ‘80s catalog.

Out of Body - "Evaporate" EP (self-released)

19 September 2016

This self-released, four-song 2015 EP, now over a year old, is simply stunning.

Seafang - "Motorcycle Song" EP (Elephant Stone)

12 July 2016

This is particularly true on the the the brilliant B-side “Summertime,” which any fan of female-fronted noise-pop will spin over and over again.

The Notekillers - Songs and Jams Vol. 1 (American Bushmen)

21 June 2016

One can think of The Notekillers as the precursors to the type of noise rock prominent in the ’90s on labels such as Amphetamine Reptile as well as instrumental power trios of that era such as Don Caballero.

RIP John Stabb

8 May 2016
I can’t believe that I’ll never see him at a show (or anywhere else) again, at least on this planet. I hope his soul is at peace. My heart goes out to his widow Mina. There will never be another one like him. Here’s to another one gone from us way too soon, this time at the tender age of 54. RIP John Stabb.

The Units - Digital Stimulation (Futurismo)

19 August 2015

Now comes this welcome reissue, which is on beautiful 180 gram yellow marbled vinyl and includes an insert with liner notes, lyrics and rare photos along with a full-color poster.

James Chance and the Contortions - Buy (Futurismo)

3 May 2015

But influence aside, this is 28 minutes of the finest skronk you will ever hear and that is the real reason to track this down.

The Pretty Greens photo by Jason Blaket

EP premiere: Lonely Hearts Club/No Jerks Allowed by The Pretty Greens

23 April 2015

Philly’s own Pretty Greens are in fine form on their sophomore release

Johnny Marr - Playland

Johnny Marr - Playland (Sire)

20 October 2014

All in all, this is a hard-charging, up-tempo record with only small breaks in its mood (“Candidate” is an example). It’s also worth noting that Marr is gaining confidence as a vocalist.

Rowland S. Howard - Pop Crimes (Fat Possum)

17 August 2014

It all culminates with “The Golden Age of Bloodshed,” a track that is perhaps the finest in his entire discography.

Stiff Little Fingers - No Going Back (Rigid Digits)

16 July 2014

Speaking of veteran artists making some of the best music of their career, here is the best Stiff Little Fingers album since at least 1982’s Now Then

Bob Mould - Beauty and Ruin (Merge)

16 July 2014

Mould is in his mid 50s and at the very top of his game now.

Sound and Chaos: The Story of BC Studio

7 July 2014

However, the film instead chooses to focus on the music and on Bisi’s life story.

Ben Vendetta - From Wivenhoe Park to Los Angeles (and back)

14 June 2014

You don’t have to go to music school to be a musician and so it’s the same thing. You don’t have to take writing classes to be a writer!

La Sera - Hour of the Dawn (Hardly Art)

9 May 2014

In short, this is one of 2014’s best albums and perhaps La Sera’s best work yet.

Dum Dum Girls with Blouse - Johnny Brenda's (Philadelphia) - Sunday, March 23, 2014

31 March 2014

For the encore, they closed with an incredible version of “Coming Down” which featured Dee Dee bringing down the house with her vocal acrobatics. What a treat!

Upset with Potty Mouth, Psychic Teens and The Pretty Greens - Kung Fu Necktie (Philadelphia) - February 9, 2014

20 February 2014

This was a bill so strong from top to bottom that we braved the icy tundra and slippery roads to make it out to this show.

Mission of Burma with Bleeding Rainbow - First Unitarian Church (Philadelphia) - Saturday, February 8, 2014

16 February 2014
It was a clever trick and though one wouldn’t automatically think that Mission of Burma covering The Beatles would work, they managed to pull it off.

Dum Dum Girls - Too True (Sub Pop)

1 February 2014

Whatever format you like will suffice, though, as the more I play it, the more I also think that this is Dum Dum Girls’ best work to date.

No Slam Dancing, No Stage Diving, No Spikes: An Oral History of The Legendary City Gardens by Amy Yates Wuelfing and Steven DiLodovico

9 January 2014

All in all, this book is a terrific read and I had trouble putting it down, barreling through its 400 or so pages quite quickly. If you are a former City Gardens patron or a fan of the ’80s and early ’90s underground music scene, this book is for you.

Taggart and The Successful Failures - Snow Day Take It Easy (FDR/Bitby.TV)

31 December 2013

In summary, I have a feeling I’ll be listening to this one year-round as this is not just a holiday novelty record.

Upset - She's Gone (Don Giovanni)

19 December 2013

Other than a general sense of fun that is communicated through the grooves, what also makes this such a great listen is Ali’s hook-filled songwriting.

Those Darlins - Boot and Saddle (Philadelphia) - Wednesday, October 16, 2013

21 October 2013

If slightly bigger crowds are a sign of things to come for the band, then it is well-earned as the new album is great and their live show just keeps improving.

Superchunk with Spider Bags - Union Transfer (Philadelphia) - Tuesday, September 24, 2013

26 September 2013

Though the title of their brand new album is I Hate Music, this past Tuesday’s show at Union Transfer proved (as if they need any at this point) that in fact the exact opposite is true.

Derek See - She Came This Way EP (Psychedelphonic Sounds)

28 July 2013

As such, there are six tracks, five of them shimmering, psychedelic pop that sounds like a lost time capsule from the mid to late ’60s.