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Matthew Berlyant

Matthew Berlyant has been writing for The Big Takeover since 2003. He started out written numerous live show reviews and has interviewed many different musicians over the years for feature and short articles, sometimes with the help of his wife Anne Leavitt-Gruberger. Perhaps most notably, he interviewed Dee Dee Penny and wrote the cover story on Dum Dum Girls in the current 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 just outside of Philadelphia with his wife and their son and while not working or hanging out at home, he can be found at shows, record stores, porch sales, farmers markets or riding his bike.

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.

Rogue Wave with The Boxer Rebellion - Union Transfer (Philadelphia) - Tuesday, June 18, 2013

20 June 2013

The joy just permeates their very essence as they even stayed at the merch table after the show to chat with fans and sign posters and album booklets.

Best Coast - "Fear of My Identity" EP (Mexican Summer)

20 April 2013

Though the A-side is terrific, the B-side “Who Have I Become” might the best song that Best Coast has ever recorded.

Bleeding Rainbow with Wrong World - Johnny Brenda's (Philadelphia) - Thursday, April 4, 2013

5 April 2013
Even when Everton and Garcia switched instruments, there was no let-down in the intensity level at all!

The New Mendicants - Australian 2013 EP (Ashmont)

31 March 2013

The New Mendicants is the new project of Joe Pernice and Norman Blake.

Billy Bragg - Tooth and Nail (Cooking Vinyl)

29 March 2013

Billy Bragg’s first album since 2008’s Mr. Love and Justice is a mesmerizing masterwork from one of the finest songwriters of the best three decades.

Veronica Falls with Cold Showers - Johnny Brenda's (Philadelphia) - Thursday, March 7, 2013

15 March 2013

Sure enough, the set was an excellent mix of both Lps, not favoring one or the other, and the band was in sync.

The Big Boys - Where's My Towel/Industry Standard (Modern Classic Recordings)

15 March 2013

So what about the actual music? Well, if you’ve never heard The Big Boys, this might be a good place to start.

Giggle the Ozone - Dreamjob (Lazer Seizure Music)

9 March 2013

Despite the liberal genre-hopping, this is a cohesive effort that really works and there’s little confusing it for anyone else’s vision.

The Night Marchers @ Underground Arts 2/28/13

The Night Marchers, Dan Sartain and Mrs. Magician - Underground Arts (Philadelphia) - Thursday, February 27, 2013

5 March 2013

The bottom line is that if you ever have a chance to see The Night Marchers, don’t miss them!

Bob Mould @ Bowery Ballroom 2/27/13

Bob Mould with Now Now - Bowery Ballroom (New York) - Wednesday, February 27, 2013

2 March 2013

What a show, what a night and what a testament to Mould and his band that they still kick so much butt after all these years!

Yo La Tengo with Bat for Lashes - World Cafe Live (Philadelphia) - Friday, January 11, 2013

12 January 2013

It’s rare that two artists of such quality share a Free at Noon bill.

Government Issue @ Black Cat 12/29/12

Scream, Government Issue and Youth Brigade - Black Cat (Washington, DC) - Saturday, December 29, 2012

1 January 2013

For this go-round and perhaps to stick to theme of the documentary, Stabb and company were intent on replicating a 1982 style set.

Brian Baker of Dag Nasty @ Black Cat 12/28/12

Black Market Baby with Dag Nasty and Kingface - Black Cat (Washington, DC) - Friday, December 28, 2012

1 January 2013

Starting with the instrumental “Mango” and playing a set that mostly comprised material from their earliest days, Dag Nasty was just on for the entirety of their short but incredible set.

setlist from Scream's show at Kung Fu Necktie

Scream with Laffing Life - Kung Fu Necktie (Philadelphia) - April 16, 2012

26 December 2012

The musicianship is just off the charts and I love the 3-4 part harmonies in some of the songs as well.

Rodriguez - World Cafe Live (Philadelphia) - Sunday, October 28, 2012

3 November 2012

Imagine a mild-mannered, 70-year old singer-songwriter in dark black sunglasses and a leather vest saying this stuff and you’ll get an idea of the weird, but cozy vibe of the show.

Those Darlins with Heavy Cream and Slutever - Johnny Brenda's (Philadelphia) - Saturday, October 27, 2012

3 November 2012

I took out my earplugs so I could hear their set in all of its glory and turned to a friend afterwards and said “wow”.

A.C. Newman with The Mynabirds - First Unitarian Church (Philadelphia) - Thursday, October 25, 2012

3 November 2012

Newman was in fine spirits, joking with the crowd on numerous occasions between songs and even giving detailed (and very personal) explanations for the lyrics on songs like “Come Crash” and the aforementioned “The Heartbreak Rides”.

OFF! with The Spits and Double Negative - First Unitarian Church (Philadelphia) - Friday, October 19, 2012

20 October 2012

Keith Morris was in fine form, hounding the stage like a screaming banshee and living up to his verbose and confrontational reputation.

The Raveonettes with Melody's Echo Chamber - Union Transfer (Philadelphia) - Thursday, October 4, 2012

12 October 2012

I think the speakers are still smoking from the heat generated by the version of “Aly Walk with Me” that was played and it’s over a week later!

Dum Dum Girls - End of Daze EP (Sub Pop)

28 September 2012

All in all, I think this may be Dum Dum Girls’ finest moment up to this point.

Maximo Park with Zambi and Stagnant Pools - World Cafe Live (Philadelphia) - September 12, 2012

15 September 2012

Maximo Park played a fantastic set spanning their four albums, wisely focusing heavily on just-released new album The National Health (perhaps their career best) and their debut A Certain Trigger, by some measure their best records.

Bob Mould with Cymbals Eat Guitars - Union Transfer (Philadelphia) - September 11, 2012

15 September 2012

As the encore ended with the classic “Makes No Sense At All”, we left exhausted but utterly blown away by the absolutely great show we had just seen.

The Left Banke @ World Cafe Live 8/8/12

The Left Banke - World Cafe Live (Philadelphia) - Wednesday, August 8, 2012

18 August 2012

They opened up with “She May Call You Up Tonight” and followed it with “I’ve Got Something on My Mind” and “Pretty Ballerina”.

The Dicks - Kill from the Heart (Alternative Tentacles)

18 August 2012

Finally! This is what Alternative Tentacles should’ve done all along with this material.

Sebadoh with Lou Barlow and Circle of Buzzards - Union Transfer (Philadelphia) - Tuesday, August 7, 2012

18 August 2012

Oh well. I’ll stick to their records and hope for a better, tighter show next time.

Yo La Tengo Big Day Coming cover

Jesse Jarnow - Big Day Coming: Yo La Tengo and the Rise of Indie Rock (Gotham)

4 August 2012

This is a tome well worth reading not just for Yo La Tengo’s fans but anyone interested in indie rock’s travails from the late ’70s beginnings to today.

Best Coast @ Union Transfer 7/16/12

Best Coast with Those Darlins and DIIV - Union Transfer (Philadelphia) - Monday July 16, 2012

28 July 2012

The set culminated with what I think is their greatest song to date, the stunning “Up All Night”, the closing track on The Only Place.

Neneh Cherry and The Thing - The Cherry Thing (Smalltown Supersound)

4 July 2012

It’s fitting that Swedish free jazzers The Thing, a band named after a composition by Don Cherry, have now collaborated with his stepdaugher Neneh Cherry.

Radiohead with Caribou - Susquehanna Bank Center (Camden, NJ) - June 13, 2012

16 June 2012

This was the Radiohead of the 2001 Amnesiac tour and the 2003 tour for Hail to the Thief, turning insular, jotty compositions into jaw-droppingly tight and powerful arena rock and it was a thrill to have them back!

The Clean with Times New Viking - Johnny Brenda's (Philadelphia) - June 6, 2012

9 June 2012

What a difference four and a half years makes, or does it?

Cheap Girls @ Trocadero 6/8/12

Cheap Girls with Static Radio - Trocadero (Philadelphia) - Friday, June 8, 2012

9 June 2012

If Graham can just be as expressive on stage is he is on record and with proper sound, this band could be as dangerous and exciting live as they are on record.

The dB's - Falling Off the Sky (Bar/None)

9 June 2012

Stamey’s interestingly-titled “Collide-oOo-Scope” and Holsapple’s moving “She Won’t Drive in the Rain Anymore” end the album on a huge high note before going into the finale title track.

La Sera @ Cameo Gallery 5/19/12

La Sera with Life Size Maps and The New Lines - Cameo Gallery (Brooklyn, NY) - Saturday, May 19, 2012

27 May 2012

When Barbato broke a string on B-side “Behind Your Eyes”, for example, they used the occasion to turn the song (only a little over two minutes on record) into an extended, impromptu, droning jam.