The Key Studio Sessions: American Babies

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Philly’s Tom Hamilton is a study in guitar-playing duality. He came to prominence in the band Brothers Past, an electronic/ instrumental act popular on the jam-band circuit. (Think of them as distant cousins to The Disco Biscuits.) In that group, Hamilton’s playing is very loose, fluid, and improvisatory—but the man has tremendous focus, which we see on display in his more recent outlet, American Babies. Its second full-length, Flawed Logic, dropped last Tuesday, and the band recently swung by WXPN to record a Key Studio Session showing off its new wares. Recording them, I was impressed by Hamilton’s knack for writing timeless rock ‘n’ roll hooks (the vaguely gospel-influenced backup vocals on “Streets Of Brooklyn”) as well as smartly-arranged anthems (“Winter Wargames” is massive, but spacious). He dips into some impressive solos throughout, but doesn’t wander too far from the task at hand—playing his songs, not showing off. (On a non-guitar note, the session featured some of the tastiest drum tones I’ve had the pleasure of recording, so good on Dave Butler for the fine-tuning in that department.) American Babies’ release show for Flawed Logic is tomorrow night, April 28, at World Café Live – also on the bill are Mason Porter and Former Belle. Tickets for the all-ages show are $12.