When I first moved to Philadelphia four years ago, alot of people questioned my sanity for electing to leave California. In the beginning, I stayed almost exclusively inside the comfortable, familiar bubble of University City. But with help from some friends, locals, and of course the XPN crew, I began to spend more time exploring other parts of the city and getting to know Philly’s amazing, rollicking music scene a little. Now as I head into my final semester of college that will quickly be followed by another period of terrifying transition, I’ve discovered that I’ve kind of fallen in love with this vibrant, unapologetically spirited, sometimes disconcerting, one of a kind place. And I hope I get to stick around here longer.
So, for my 2013 year end list I wanted to compile my favorite recently local acts who, like me, all hail from elsewhere but have come to call Philadelphia home. Here are my top five Philly transplants of 2013:
Maitland originally hail from Williamsport, PA. Josh Hines and Jeff Mach play gorgeous atmospheric folk songs that have oft elicited comparisons to Bon Iver and Jose Gonzales. Their EP (from a cabin in the woods), which was technically released last fall in 2012, is sonically minimalistic but chock full of natural imagery and nostalgic snapshots in time.
Psych-pop group Literature came to Philly by way of Austin, TX last year. They released an energetic and guitar laden LP entitled Arab Spring in 2012. Earlier this year they dropped a 7” featuring the hazy, swirling “Tie Dye” and “Apples” and started work on a prospective follow up album. Here’s their Key Studio session recorded this year.
3. The Districts
This impressively talented, young, Lancaster county-bred band have sure had one helluva year. They graduated high school, moved to a house in Philly, played shows all over town including the XPoNential Festival and a pop up show for Outof Town Films, toured extensively, signed to Fat Possum records, and are working on a new EP out next month.
Revisit this early, stand-out performance of “Funeral Beds” that first caught eyes and ears all over the internet.
2. Radiator Hospital
Four-piece outfit, Radiator Hospital, is Michigan turned Philadelphia songwriter Sam Cook Parrott’s musical project. The band’s short but fantastic summer full-length release this year, Something Wild, draws on diverse stylistic sources of pop-punk, blues, country, and folk. Parrot’s distinctive, endearing vocals and the unrelenting energy of the tracks make the album both a compelling listen and one enjoyable ride from start to finish.
Public radio and music blog darling, Waxahatchee, is singer-songwriter Katie Crutchfield’s latest project. The Birmingham, AL native moved from Brooklyn to a house West Philly at the close of last year (which she shares with a bunch of other talented transplants including members of her twin sister Allison’s band, Swearin’, and Radiator Hospital). She released her stellar second album Cerulean Salt in February—a collection that ranges from sunnier to more raw and emotive tunes but that are all intensely sincere.