With the 2011-2012 school year officially underway (or, depending on which college you’re attending, about to get started), the Philadelphia area is looking at its annual influx of bright-eyed freshmen who will attempt to find their place in a new environment. However, September is always an active time for the music scene as well, with a variety of unknown and well-established bands coming out of their summer hibernation to announce fall tours and upcoming albums. Throughout the week, The Key will be profiling a handful of brand-new (or previously undiscovered) local acts that are just starting to make a name for themselves in Philadelphia’s music scene. Hopefully, by this time next year, each of these bands will be one of the next big names in town.
Fritzy power trio The Bad Doctors has been kicking around the West Philly scene since mid-2009, but this summer made an impressive push to get its music heard beyond 40th and Baltimore. Composed of singer-guitarist Matt McDermott, bassist/synth player Luke Nally, and drummer Brian Bullock, the group released a solid string of music to Bandcamp: digital singles “Sisyphus And The Gate” in May and “Gunpowder” in June, followed in short order by its powder keg of a debut full length, Distractions. Then, just a couple of weeks ago, the band practically stole the show during JEFF The Brotherhood’s Bookspace appearance. This was my first time catching the Docs, and the high-energy performance—coupled with McDermott’s emphatic, melodic vocals—reminded me of watching The Thermals back in its early days. The members of the band don’t see boundaries between stage and audience; instead, they slam into amplifiers, fans, and one another while feeding off of each chord change and drum hit in a crazy spastic dance. The record is even more of a catalyst for body-moving—with warm analog synth tones and herky-jerkey rhythms, it’s where their fondness for “Uncontrollable Urge”-era Devo shines through. Philly engineer Josh Pannepacker worked with the band on the “Gunpowder” single, and he tells me they’re already putting together a followup release. Even though I only found out about The Bad Doctors this summer, I’m already antsy to hear what it does next. Stream the track “Gunpowder (Nicaraguan Feeling)” below, and for those so inclined, see the band in person when it plays Kung Fu Necktie on Wed. Sept. 7.