NEPA MUSIC NOTES: Brendan Brisk, Kali Ma, Condition Oakland, Sleeplore, Chris Cashmere, White Witch, and more
January may be a slow month for entertainment like movies and television (even slower during a pandemic), but it’s been a busy time for local music, so much so that I have to save a few notes for next week. I even had the pleasure of seeing a band play live in front of a real audience, a rare sight these days, so let’s talk about that and everything you can stream from home this week.
🎶🎶 Galactic North Records has put together a compilation album of Flaming Lips covers called “Be Kind 2 Aminals” (sic) that is raising money for the National Independent Venue Association, whose members include many NEPA venues and festivals. Released on Jan. 13, Wilkes-Barre dream pop band Kali Ma and the Garland of Arms contributed their version of “The Sparrow Looks Up at the Machine” to the collection (which also includes another Pennsylvania band, Ruckzuck) as they get ready to put out some new original music next month:
🎶🎶 Montoursville native Jeff Pittinger, who produces Pennsylvania Pipeline Music-TV to feature regional artists, also sings in a hard rock band, White Witch, and the cover acts Monster Track Supergroup and Betty Ford All Stars, keeping him consistently busy with local music. On Dec. 30, they uploaded a music video for their song “Changes Coming” that fades from live footage to a scary witch, and on Jan. 13, they continued this style in the video for “Log Splitter” that cuts from the band to Mr. Bill getting his poor pumpkin head crushed. Oh no!
🎶🎶 Hazleton hip-hop artist Nate Williams, who goes by Nate Will and produces and promotes other artists in addition to rapping, co-produced the instrumental for the single “Regardless” (featuring Futuristic) with Matisse Tsoy for Juuu, all fellow members of the Introvert Party. The song hit streaming platforms on Jan. 14:
🎶🎶 Wilkes-Barre psychedelic funk/jazz pop singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, composer, and producer Brendan Brisk released his sophomore album, “Relaxylvania,” last year, which we talked about extensively with his band in Episode 135 of the NEPA Scene Podcast. On Jan. 18, JamBase premiered the new music video for one of the album’s chillest singles, “Chai Tea / Tai Chi,” that was masterfully directed by Ryan Wood.
Brisk told JamBase it’s “like two songs. … The first half is earthy and grounded like chai tea, and the second half is flowing and inward, yet cosmic, like tai chi. Duality has always intrigued me, and I think this song’s structure represents that.”
This strikingly beautiful video is easily a contender for the best local music video of the year and it’s only January:
🎶🎶 On Jan. 1, Ashland folk punk band Condition Oakland started the new year off with a single called “Moon Prism,” and they just followed it up with “Midwestern Body Bag” on Jan. 22. Last fall, they recorded with Joe Loftus at JL Studios in Olyphant, so expect a new record titled “Basement Disciples” to come out of those sessions in March.
🎶🎶 In December, Clarks Summit songwriter and producer Clyde Rosencrance, who records many notable local bands at his own facility, Republic Audio Studio, made his solo debut as Sleeplore with the song “Let Go.” Those who wanted to hear more didn’t have to wait long for his next single, “Waited,” that premiered on Jan. 22. It features Timothy Zieger on horns, Alan Hanczyc on bass, and Piotr Stanisz from Ukraine on strings, all recorded remotely. Rosencrance handled the rest of the instruments as well as the soft, dreamy vocals. He described the track as “a bit more dramatic, almost something I feel like could be in a film.”
“The vibe captures that mid-winter feeling that many of us have right now, especially given the environment right now,” Rosencrance said.
A few days later, he premiered a gorgeous, otherworldly music video by Paul Garcia that takes listeners to outer space and back:
🎶🎶 Singer/songwriter Bryant August formed his hard rock band Mature Musical Pictures back in 2017 when he was living in Scranton, and while he has since moved to Fort Myers, Florida, he’s still making music under that name, and he worked with NEPA drummer Zhach Kelsch on the band’s latest single, “Counterfeits of Control” (featuring Kahra), released on Jan. 20 with a lyric visualizer:
🎶🎶 Pittston singer/songwriter Chris Cashmere, best known as the frontman of Wilkes-Barre pop punk/alternative rock band Stay Loud, produced his own “Quarantine” EP in all the downtime last year, and now he’s back in 2021 with the acoustic love song “Promise” while Stay Loud is busy “cooking up something amazing for this year.”
🎶🎶 Over the summer, the NEPA Scene Podcast teamed up with Ionic Development to present a special live streamed edition of Juicebox Sessions with Stroudsburg rock fusion band The Contact Collective at The V-Spot while it was closed to the public due to COVID-19. The interview and set went over so well that, when the Scranton bar was finally able to open safely again, they wanted to book the band for a full night right away.
On Jan. 16, The Contact Collective played two fun sets of covers and ended with a third of original material, including songs from their 2019 demo “Catching Contact,” so I streamed them all from my phone on NEPA Scene’s Facebook page while I had a few beers, happy to be out seeing musicians perform in front of an actual crowd again. If you weren’t among those socially distanced patrons, you can watch all three videos below:
Photo of the Brendan Brisk band by Delmonico Photography