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Top Five Fridays: DRGN KING

August 21, 2015

Hey Folks,

Welcome back to another Top Five Fridays (#T5F)!  For those of you new to how this works, I do my home work and find a wonderfully talented musical artist or other such merchant of cool to present to you for your aesthetic pleasure and overall human betterment.  Said artist in turn provides us with an assortment of five records that they treasure close to their heart.  Cool huh?

Today we’re back in America’s current #1 city for all things rocking (you can quote me on that) Philadelphia to hang out with Dominic Angelella, the songwriting muscle behind the psych rock catchiness of DRGN KING.  Besides appearing in more musical projects than we have time to list here, Dom is an ACE songwriter.  Let’s be honest, if his song “Undertow” is not one of the best things you have heard in a while, something is wrong.  I like it so much that I’m also linking to this excellent live version as well.  I discovered this fine outfit the way I’ve been discovering tons of killer talent this year, (including T5F alum DENTIST and soon to be featured act Left and Right) by combing the list of upcoming acts at Little Amps, a Harrisburg, PA Coffee House/Record Shop/Music Venue that is becoming a tour stop for dozens of quality musical acts.

DRGN KING

DRGN KING

DRGN KING is what happens when the songwriting of Dom Angelella is coupled with the studio know how of Brent “Ritz” Reynolds.  The two kicked off the collaboration in 2012 with an EP and the LP “Paragraph Nights.”  These were followed in 2014 with “Baltimore Crush,” a song cycle detailing growing up in Baltimore, Maryland that is quickly rising to the top of my list of 2014 albums that I did not discover till 2015.

Trying to describe what’s going on when one listens to a DRGN KING record is easier said than done.  It’s experimental, it’s psych rock, but it’s also a more than a little bit of straight up catchiness.  Both records are incredibly nuanced and layered headphone albums, but the production makes sure to enhance rather than distract from the songs we are experiencing.  The LPs leave us wishing that all writer/producer projects could meld so seamlessly.

I’m super excited to have Dom on board today, he’s crazy busy touring with both DRGN KING and his other band Lithuania.  His Top Five Fridays is a winding journey through bedroom pop, jazz, experimental singer-songwriter, and noise rock; ingredients that all find their way into his artistic output.

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Blues Control “LOCAL FLAVOR” (2009)
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This starts with a nod to Stooges-era Iggy Pop and ends suspended in the sky, floating through warbly cloud-chords that build into a slow groove that reminds me of the soundtrack to Logan’s Run. To me, this is Blues Control’s magnum opus, the sound of two people (three with the addition of Kurt Vile’s guitar on two tracks) reaching far beyond the meager trappings of their guitar/keys/drum machine setup. One of my favorite existing bands.
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Van Morrison “Astral Weeks” (1968)
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So much has already been said about this and I don’t have much to add to the conversation. These aren’t so much songs to me as they are short stories that warrant endless listens. It make sense that Van hired all these wonderful jazz musicians for this record, because his twenty-three year old voice is a frighteningly perfect improvisational instrument. I’m generally a positive person but this album is so good that it makes me mad.
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This is a rare Mingus compilation and the first album that opened me up to the ideas that music could exist beyond classical form or three minute pop song form. It’s got some of my favorite insane music on it. the best track is “if charlie parker we’re a gunslinger, there’d be a whole lot of dead copycats.”
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I Hate Myself “Ten Songs” (1997)
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The version I bought on CD has eleven songs but this is my favorite “emo” record. Amazingly clear of the frustrating dude-victim mentality of regular ass emo bands, this was a joke record that came out really good. The songs are about Godzilla and Dragonball Z and Heaven’s Gate and doing drugs in southern Florida. I bought “Ten Songs” because I thought the lyrics were funny in high school and I still listen to it all the time.
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Prince “Dirty Mind” (1980)
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This is Prince’s early twenties bedroom pop record and it feels so cool and fleshed out. All of his later ideas are on here: complicated sexuality, strong politics, heartbreak, impeccable pop songs. Obviously 1979-1990 prince is all perfect but this is the one I keep coming back to. It’s short and sweet and unafraid.

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Thanks so much Dom!

Hey folks, you can score Baltimore Crush on Bar None Records HERE.  For the most up to date info on the band, I’d check their Facebook, though they do have an official site as well.  As I mentioned earlier, Dom and Eric Slick of Dr. Dog are the songwriting muscle behind the punky DIY outfit Lithuania.  After years of collaboration, they have released their debut album Hardcore Friends.”  It’s pressed on Lame-O Records and there are only 700 coming so don’t wait around!

Remember you can check out all past Top Five Fridays by meandering over to the archive.

well peace out good people of the world,

Peter Winter

Peter Winter wonders what live action Spider Man films he will one day show to his children.  Should he even bother with the Andrew Garfield films?  He is also on twitter

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