Levee Drivers | photo courtesy of Root Down in the Shadow
Starting off the second season of Root Down in the Shadow’s Cover Club series are Levee Drivers
with their version
of Chris Kasper
‘s “Walking on Water.” The local roots rock band, led by August John Lutz III and featuring steel guitar by Kyle Perella and Ben Plotnick on bass, took the acoustic pop original and gave it a dreamy, Americana make-over, warmed by three-part harmonies and a soothing down-tempo shift. On choosing this particular Philadelphia compatriot to cover, Lutz explained:
Chris Kasper is just a great singer/songwriter – period. He’s been a personal favorite of mine for years now, whether it’s his solo work, his live shows with a full band, or his side project Foxhound. He has a very honest voice and an amazingly polished yet rough sound, especially on his new album Bagabones. I’m really excited to see what he comes out with next.
Watch the video below and then listen to the original.
Photo courtesy of the artist
You wouldn’t expect a pop band to open an album with a lush piano and strings instrumental track. But expectations didn’t stop Philly’s Sidewalk Atlas from doing so with “At Least We’re Here Together”, and the result is actually quite lovely. The band serves up a catchy yearning-for-yesterday style tune with “Remember When” before diving into the sing-along story of “Margot”. Throughout the album, they offer classic pop melodies and even a little blues (on album standout “Gone for Now”).
The piano and strings take full command yet again on breakup ballad “City’s Not Enough” preceding the sparse, acoustic bliss of another mostly-instrumental track “Requiem Aestatem”. The rest of the record stays pretty mellow with low-key tracks “(For Your Consideration) a Car Breaks Down in Bryn Mawr” and “Terra Calls Me Back”. Overall, Stealing Time is a likeably laid-back record that will definitely appeal to fans of The Format and Ben Folds Five. Get a free download of “Gone for Now” and watch an album sampler below. Sidewalk Atlas plays Impact Hub Philly on February 13th and Fergie’s Pub on February 16th .
Photo by Daniel Lidon, courtesy of facebook.com/theweaks
Philly pop punk band The Weaks are celebrating the release of their first EP on Lame-O Records in two big ways. First, The World Is A Terrible Place and I Hate Myself and Want To Die is streaming on BrooklynVegan in advance of its February 11th release date. In addition, The Weaks – featuring Evan Bernard and Chris Baglivo, formerly of Dangerous Ponies – are holding a record release show this Friday at Golden Tea House for the EP.
The name of the record is a play off of scene-famous Connecticut punkers, The World Is a Beautiful Place and I Am No Longer Afraid to Die, as well as a Nirvana deep cut from the 1993 compilation The Beavis and Butthead Experience. Celebrating with The Weaks will be Washington-based band Cowardice, Philly natives Kite Party and Thin Lips (other former members of Dangerous Ponies playing their debut show).
(Hear More – Listen to two new songs from Thin Lips)
Lame-O Records, based in Philadelphia, is also home to Ma Jolie, Modern Baseball, Hundred Acre Woods and Steady Hands. Check out the band’s interview with Modern Vinyl here.
Traffic Nightmare | Photo by Abi Reimold
Local indie rock outfit Traffic Nightmare have released their new full-length Galaxy Concerns via Bandcamp this week. After a very prolific 2012 (which saw five EP / LP releases) last year seems to have been a time of sonic refocusing for the four-piece and Galaxy Concerns is the result of some beneficial transitions.
The most noticeable difference between the new record and earlier Traffic Nightmare releases is the clarity of the guitar parts. With the exception of “Question Time” (a manic, sixties psych kind of mind-journey), each track treats the guitar melodies as a second voice, joining an increased presence of keys in supporting frontman Kevin Stairiker’s narrative and thought-provoking lyrics.
And the lyrics are the most intriguing part of the LP, meditating on societal norms and cosmic nuances like celebrity culture and environmental concerns, simulated reality, material values and death. That said, it might make more sense to compare the record to other things based on its social commentary focus (like Hollywood films WALL-E or Simone) rather than what it sounds like, but Galaxy Concerns is enjoyable whether or not you dig into the underlying cultural analysis of each atmospheric, sometimes-jazzy track.
Take a listen to the stream below, followed by a stripped-down video of “Kurt Cobain Action Figure.”
Swaggery Doylestown rock crew Commonwealth Choir are one of nine acts tapped for this month’s installment of the Communion Club Night series at Underground Arts. The band is prepping a new EP for release later this spring, meaning new songs will likely be in the cards for tonight – hopefully “Pacers,” the single they premiered at their recent Key Studio Session which you can watch below. Also on the bill are Cruiser, Modern Inventors, Caveman and more. Tickets and more information can be found at the XPN Concert Calendar.
Pacers by Commonwealth Choir from James Powers on Vimeo.
Photo by John Vettese
I became enamoured of Basia Bulat and her music early on during my college tenure at Drexel University while working to become a member of its student-run radio station WKDU. Bulat’s debut album Oh, My Darling, fresh off the presses, had made its way down to our basement broadcast location, coming from record label to post office to interdepartmental mail to the bin outside of our door and, finally, into my hands, placed right into a CD deck. From the whimisical ukelele opening tune “Before I Knew” to the waltzy anthem “The Pilgriming Vine,” and especially with the poppy autoharp-driven “In The Night,” I was hooked by Bulat’s sheer exhuberance, her soulful, strong voice, and melody-rich compositions (plus the video for “In The Night” is a favorite). A forged devotee, I’ve since followed her releases and tours adoringly, clinging to new music, like her sophomore release Heart Of My Own (2010) and her brilliant rendition of Sam Cooke’s “Touch The Hem Of His Garment.”
Last year, Basia Bulat released her latest album, Tall Tall Shadow, which sees her updating and enhancing her sound, experimenting with studio techniques, and adding richness and layering with new instrumentation. For my money, it’s her strongest album yet, drawing deep from the wells of acoustic folk, soul, and ’70s rock-and-roll, all heard through the prism of contemporary Canadian rock like Arcade Fire, Broken Social Scene, and Destroyer. At the center of the album, as usual, is Bulat’s voice, providing us with an anchor, a North Star, and a soul in each song.
Before her concert at the Boot & Saddle this past October, Basia Bulat stopped by the WXPN Performance Studio to record a stripped down solo set for Folkadelphia, including songs from Tall Tall Shadow and “Little Waltz” from Oh, My Darling.
Listen and love: