matthew berlyant – the big takeover

snow day (take it easy) – now here is a unique release. there are many holiday records released each year and there are a wide variety of split releases that have come out over the years featuring one band on side a and another on side b. i do not know, however, of another split holiday release, at least on a 12”.

ultimately, though, i am reviewing this (a bit later than I hoped to) a little less than a week after christmas (it came out on december 10th) not because of the record’s novelty, but because it is a great record featuring two great bands.

taggart occupy side a and are a long-running philadelphia/new jersey band whose sound could be described as a throwback to a time when indie rock meant a specific style of music ala bands such as superchunk and archers of loaf, not the catch-all phrase it encompasses these days; except, of course, that they were around during that era, having recorded as early as 1997. more over, their songs have hooks, are memorable, and they rock with no pretension whatsoever. though there is only one original on their side (the future christmas classic “wishmas”), this is also reflected in their choice of cover material, at least for the most part. though their side is bookended by snippets of foghat‘s “slow ride” with lyrics re-written as “snow day” (hence the title of this record), things get much more interesting as they tackle the descendents classic “christmas vacation” and the kinks‘ also fantastic “father christmas.”

the successful failures, the band of fdr label head mick chorba, occupy side b and their brand of new jersey power pop (think of bands ranging from the smithereens to labelmates bastards of melody) is a perfect match for taggart. if one listens to this album in mp3 form or on cd where side 2 just follows side 1, it flows really well. anyhow, there is only one cover (a great version of the ramones‘ “merry christmas (i don’t want to fight tonight)” on their side and 3 equally enjoyable originals. though “good night to the last night” (appropriate as i am writing this on december 31st) is really a new years’ eve song, the two other originals deal with holiday merriment, gift giving and wishing and what not. of these, i really like “christmas morning (yellow canary)” but there is not a dud in the bunch.

something else that should be mentioned here is that the artwork is absolutely mesmerizing. in an age where less and less emphasis is placed on the visual aspect of records, it is a treat to see matt hanemann‘s artwork, especially on the 12”.

in summary, i have a feeling i’ll be listening to this one year-round as this is not just a holiday novelty record. (the big takeover)

kool kat music

snow day (take it easy) – coming in just under the wire for the holiday season, the successful failures and taggart put together an exciting collection of classic covers and new holiday songs for this split holiday release. fans will appreciate hearing new and different versions of the kinks (“father christmas”), the descendents (“christmas vacation”), and the ramones (“merry christmas (i don’t want to fight tonight”) classic christmas songs as well as 4 new songs written by taggart and the successful failures especially for this release. taggart even re-writes foghat’s “slow ride”, appearing here as “snow day” – not hard to imagine! very cool and lots of fun! excellent!! (kool kat music)

snow day release show, ortlieb’s lounge, philadelphia, pa, 12/20/13

the release show for our christmas record snow day (take it easy). our christmas record-mates the successful failures played first then we performed all our songs from the christmas record interspersed with a few taggart classics. “father christmas” brought things to a holiday-spirited close! below is the complete setlist, links to videos of “christmas vacations” & “father christmas” and a few photos.

snow day
infinite space
good intentions
christmas vacation (descendents)
weekend politics
skin i’m in
father christmas (kinks)

philebrity awards & totally secular x-mas pageant, johnny brendas, philadelphia, pa, 12/19/13

we were invited to perform a couple of songs from snow day (take it easy) at the philebrity awards show along with amazing philly bands langor, arctic splash, creem circus, gretchen lohse and friends, johnny showcase, teen men, st. james and the apostles, adam brodsky, and our snow day partners the successful failures all performing holiday inspired songs. we quickly rocked out “wishmas” and “father christmas” and left the stage in a flash of tinsel.

father christmas (kinks)

the rabid sessions at pancake factory studios, brooklyn, ny 12/11/13

we were invited up to brooklyn to appear on jack rabid‘s monthly rabid sessions show on break thru radio. in addition to being the founder, publisher and editor of the indie rock bible the big takeover since 1980 jack also has a weekly internet radio show with the same name. he has always been a big supporter of the band and it was an awesome experience to have him invite us up to be the guests on his show. it runs about an hour and a half with most of the focus on us performing live in the studio and being interviewed by jack throughout the show. he also spins a bunch of songs by our favorite bands. songs performed:

good intentions
starting now
skin i’m in

snow day (take it easy)


split 12″ vinyl holiday ep with the successful failures

record release date: december 10, 2013

labels: fdr & bitby records

stream & download the entire album:

track listing

taggart side:
snow day
christmas vacation
father christmas

successful failures side:
christmas morning (yellow canary)
merry christmas (i don’t want to fight)
is that christmas?
goodnight to the last night