Really, you have to think about it in the context of the time. When vocalist Joe Stack screams “Look who’s coming to visit / it’s 1984!” at the opening of Informed Sources‘ new retrospective Fun Under the Sun, the year in question was not some speck in the strange and distant past. Nor was it far off into the future, some vaguely scary time that science fiction writers were spinning dystopian cautionary tales about. “Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner” was recorded in 1982, just a couple years shy of the era in which George Orwell had set his scary totalitarian prophecies. Social and political turmoil was spread all around the globe, there was civil unrest at home and abroad and people legitimately began to worry that, wait a minute, dang, what if Orwell was right? “Guess who’s coming to dinner? A man who’s calling you sinner / with hate in his face and a gun in his hand, look what happened to your free land!”
Times of tension are wonderful breeding grounds for musical and artistic responses, and here in Philadelphia, Informed Sources raged and roared for three fruitful years between 1981 and 1984. They reacted with with volume, power chords and amplifiers, fuzzy blasts of hardcore informed by the D.C. torchbearers in Black Flag but also borrowing healthily from the nihilism and high drama of UK post-punk acolytes The Damned and Joy Division. This new retrospective is not only an essential piece of Philadelphia history, but an essential snapshot of the era. Continue reading →
Death Cab for Cutie frontman Ben Gibbard releases his first full-length solo album, Former Lives, on October 16, and his tour in support of it brings him through Philadelphia on November 7 for an appearance at the Keswick Theatre in Glenside. This week, the folks at NPR Music‘s All Songs Considered included the album in their fall preview, and highlighted the song “Bigger Than Love” – breathtaking duet between Gibbard and Aimee Mann. Listen to the song here, and download the earlier single “Teardrop Windows” here.
Big congrats are due to rowdy Philadelphia Americana punk outfit TJ Kong and the Atomic Bomb on releasing its new full-length album Manufacturing Joy. The album is digitally available today, and later this week, I’ll talk to Kong frontman Dan Bruskewicz about the new music and the band’s creative process. For now, we’ve got a free download for ya. Grab yourself an mp3 of “Friday Night Guy” below – thanks to the band, we’re making it available for a limited time, right up until their record release show this Thursday night at Johnny Brenda’s. Want more? Stream the record in its entirety here.
Cold Graves, the brainchild of former Chiddy Bang member Zach Sewall and Philly alt group Cold Fronts, released a download of their latest single early this morning via SoundCloud. “Svntn” is consistent with the same synthrock elements as previously released tracks, including “Use U” and “Keep It One Hundred.” Cold Fronts will be playing with City Rain at Underground Arts this Friday, opening for Vacationer. Find more information on that show here and download “Svntn” below.
English folk rock four-piece Mumford and Sons releases its much-anticipated sophomore album Babel today. It’s a solid set through and through, from the lead single “I Will Wait” to its stirring cover of “The Boxer” by Simon and Garfunkel. The band recently recorded a session for World Cafe with David Dye, which you can listen to here (via the WXPN media player). Below, watch a video from the XPN archives of Mumford and Dawes performing “When My Time Comes” at the World Cafe 20th Anniversary concert.
At their show last night in Brussels, Belgium, indie pop band Best Coast covered Nirvana’s “About a Girl.” Currently on tour in support of their sophomore album The Only Place, the band announced that beginning in January it will join Green Day on tour. The two bands will appear at the Liacouras Center at Temple on January 22nd. More ticket information for that show can be found here. Below, watch Best Coast perform “About a Girl.”