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Unlocked: Take a look inside the studio where Ataloft came to life

Ataloft | Courtesy of the artist
Ataloft | Courtesy of the artist

If you had to boil it down to a place, Amoeba Audio in Reading is where Ataloft came to life. As we’ll hear in tomorrow’s interview, Frog Holler members Darren Schlappich and Mike Lavdanski went into the studio owned by their friend Bruce Siekmann to mess around with recording some unreleased songs. The initial meetups went well, and the group kept returning until there was a full album and a new band in tow.

Earlier this month, the Reading Eagle met up with Ataloft to profile them upon the release of the self-titled album, and brought a video crew inside Amoeba to watch the band – now a six-piece – play live in the room where the music was born. Check out a performance of their very summery song “Old Jones” below, and get psyched to see these gents perform at Ardmore Music Hall on the 3rd of May.

Ataloft is the featured album in this week’s installment of Unlocked. Download “The End is Nearer Than We Know” in Monday’s post, read yesterday’s album review and check back later this week for an interview and more

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Philly’s Hoots and Hellmouth to take up residency at Boot and Saddle next month

Photo by Deneka Peniston
Photo by Deneka Peniston

Wednesday nights in May will get a bit more folksy as Hoots and Hellmouth prepare for their upcoming residency at Boot and Saddle. It’s a first for both the band, who will use the opportunity to unveil and test out new material, and the venue, who have never hosted a residency before. Both parties sound pretty amped as the shows approach. From the band’s email announcement:

“We’re really looking forward to our first time in this room, and to be doing it under the auspices of a new material workshop/residency makes it all the more special. A fresh room for fresh experiments. We’re inspired. The Hoots & Hellmouth ‘sound’ has always been a bit restless by nature, not unlike our touring schedule…We started with a much folkier sound, incorporating primarily acoustic instruments and stomp boards to propel our songs forward. In the years since, we’ve added all kinds of things to the mix from drums to keys to electric guitars.”

Boot and Saddle is also proud to have the band be the first to do a residency since the venue’s reopening late last year. In the announcement, R5 Productions owner Sean Agnew comments:

“We are excited to host our very first residency at the Boot & Saddle with a band that’s become an institution around Philly. It’ll be fun to watch these shows develop and to watch who comes out over each week.”

Each show is 21+ and requires $8 for admission.

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Plow United brings summertime punk to Asbury Lanes and Boot and Saddle in June

Plow United | Courtesy of Isaac Turner
Plow United | Courtesy of Isaac Turner

Plow United has some pretty exciting news for east coast fans.

Earlier this week, the seminal locally-bred punks announced they’d play two shows in July, the same month they’re releasing two records. The first show will be at Asbury Lanes on July 18th, but the one we’re most excited about will be on July 19th at Boot & Saddle.

The band released its first album in 16 years, Marching Band, last March. Loaded with heavy bass lines, gritty vocals and thrashy drums, the 12-song LP saw the three-piece picking right up where its left up in the late 90s. Along with the shows, Plow announced that it would re-release its first-self-titled LP and put out a new 4-song 7″ called DELCO. Both drop on July 10th.

Join ‘em at Boot & Saddle during the dog days of summer with openers The Scandals and Chumped. The show starts at 8 p.m. and the $12 tickets can be purchased here. Below, watch their cover of “Burn Up” by Siouxie and the Banshees from their 2013 Key Studio Session.

Plow United “Burn-Up” – WXPN Key Studio Session from WXPN FM on Vimeo.

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Get goosebumps from Psalmships’ Kettle Pot Tacks session

Psalmships, courtesy of Kettle Pot Tracks
Psalmships, courtesy of Kettle Pot Tracks

The latest On the Hill Session at Kettle Pot Tracks with Psalmships is a powerful one.

The sessions, which were founded a couple years back by local engineer Michael Batchelor “to capture an authentic performance as you would experience live in a small, intimate venue,” chose Psalmships as their 50th session by request. A long write-up Batchelor gave some insight into his friendship with Josh Britton, the singer and songwriter who performs under the Psalmships moniker.

Joshua Britton is a very special artist, musician, and friend. Anyone who has enjoyed the Kettle Pot Tracks On the Hill Sessions over the past year-plus has him to thank as much as anyone else. I think he expected me to write something silly and pseudo-deprecating, but I and we have nothing but love.

Psalmships On the Hill Session is one you’ve got to listen to with headphones in. Britton self-describes the music as “ghost folk,” and there might not be a better name for the sounds he produces. It’s eerie, but it’s sweet. The video gives you goosebumps, but more importantly, certainly makes you feel like you’re right next to Britton in that small, intimate venue Kettle Tracks strives so hard to achieve.

Psalmships — Yven from Michael Batchelor on Vimeo.

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Secret Weakness releases psych-pop soaked debut LP

Secret Weakness | photo courtesy of the artist
Secret Weakness | photo courtesy of the artist

Secret Weakness, the solo project of Philadelphian Aaron Joseph, has released a self-titled debut LP to introduce his experimental bedroom pop.  The songs blend the psychedelic elements of MGMT with the perpendicular, kaleidoscopic production style of Animal Collective, and on the single “Die Young” Joseph shows a knack for writing simultaneously succinct and layered pop songs that would be right at home at a summer festival.  Take a listen to “Die Young” below and check out the full LP here.

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Philadelphia Museum of Art presents vocalist Yeahwon Shin at Art After 5 this Friday

Yeahwon Shin | photo by Woong Chul An
Yeahwon Shin | photo by Woong Chul An

Korean-born singer Yeahwon Shin’s performance at the Philadelphia Museum of Art this Friday is doubly appropriate. Most obviously, it ties in with the museum’s current marquee exhibition, “Treasures from Korea: Arts and Culture of the Joseon Dynasty, 1392-1910.” But coming just a couple of weeks prior to Mother’s Day, it’s also an early celebration; Shin’s latest CD, Lua Ya (ECM) was inspired by her newborn daughter and is dedicated “to mothers and children everywhere.”

Lua Ya consists of Korean lullabies and songs that Shin remembers learning from her own mother, along with a few originals that maintain the album’s quiet serenity. Shin’s music contains traces of jazz laced into it; there is improvisation, but it’s delicate and reserved, never threatening to dispel the music’s intimate fragility. Shin caresses these songs as she would her own child, with a gentle and nurturing touch.

The collection pairs Shin’s lovely, placid voice with Aaron Parks’ hushed, spare piano and Rob Curto’s breath-like accordion. Parks is a gifted jazz keyboardist who recently released his own ECM debut, the solo outing Arborescence. He has also worked with trumpet great Terence Blanchard, guitarist Kurt Rosenwinkel, and as one-fourth of the collective James Farm with saxophonist Joshua Redman. Originally a pianist, Curto studied the accordion with masters in Brazil – an influence he shares with Shin, whose self-titled debut was heavily influenced by Brazilian music and earned a Latin Grammy nomination.  More information for their performance at the Philadelphia Museum of Art can be found here.

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Local rappers Pooda Dappa, Chase Allen, and STS unite for Inner City Country Club this Sunday at Silk City

Photo courtesy of the artists
Photo courtesy of the artists

While associations between the idea of the inner city and that of country clubs may not be immediately recognizable, it all makes sense in the context of local hip-hop’s elite. Inner City Country Club is a project that features collaborations between Philadelphia’s finest talents (rappers, singers, musicians, producers, etc…), embodying the theme of brotherly love.

This Sunday, we’ll see it in action as up-and-coming rappers Pooda Dappa, Chase Allen, and STS share the stage at Silk City in Northern Liberties. Pooda Dappa’s Take Notes EP hit the web in the earlier half of last year while STS dropped quite a few new videos in the latter half from his upcoming project. Allen opened for DMX last summer at The Blockley and released his new album D.A.R.K. in February. Get tickets here.

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Listen to Jim Boggia and Ali Wadsworth perform live on the Leicht Lunch

JimAli
Photo by Helen Leicht

April 22nd was Earth Day and also the 50th birthday of the very talented Jim Boggia! Perfect reason to have Jim stop by my show on the Leicht Lunch to sing a song for Earth day!

Jim and Ali Wadsworth came in sang “Nature’s Way” by Spirit for Earth Day and an amazing cover of “Love Hurts” (the Graham Parsons and EmmyLou Harris version). Jim and Ali sang this song live at Steel City Coffeehouse on Saturday night and Jim was so excited he finally found the perfect person to sing this duet with him. Since it was his birthday he wanted to celebrate with XPN listeners. You can check out the song, and the entire performance on my show, below.

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The Key Studio Sessions: The Interest Group

Philly psych-pop outfit The Interest Group made a splash before they were even really a band. On the heels of his involvement with local projects Blackhawks and Bananas Symphony, Yohsuke Araki teamed up with fellow singer-guitarist Marissa Lesnick to record a cover of the late 60s nugget “The Boys and The Girls” by The Network. The song was so infectious that, before The Interest Group had a full lineup or had even played its first show, it got a Pitchfork writeup. This set the bar relatively high for the fledgling band, and while it didn’t follow up immediately, it followed up admirably – with last summer’s Passenger 7″, a winning set at Little Berlin’s Fairgrounds Block Party, with another new EP in February, and even more new songs recorded this week for The Key Studio Sessions. The band is fleshed out with bassist Kyle Garvey and drummer Steven Urgo, and the songs they recorded are pure modern pop gold. Rooted in snapy sounds and jangling melodies reminiscent of The Left Banke, 13th Floor Elevators and The Zombies, the band adds nice contemporary experimental florishes – backwards loops, white noise, dissonant breakdowns – making the saccharine more gritty. Listen to their set and grab free downloads below; “Locked On” can be found on EP1, released in February, and the rest of the tracks are brand new. To hear more, mark your calendar for May 14th, when The Interest Group plays the Underground Arts black box with King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard.

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Explore the world of percussion with Man Forever at Kung Fu Necktie tonight

Man Forever | photo by Lisa Corson
Man Forever | photo by Lisa Corson

As related in a Zen koan, Ryonen was the name of a Buddhist nun who lived in the early 19th century. The granddaughter of a famous Japanese warrior, Ryonen was inspired to study Zen when the empress she served died suddenly. Several Zen masters rejected her because of her beauty, so she burned her face with a hot iron.

More importantly, if Google’s search results are any indication, Ryonen is the name of a thin, large-eyed nude model. “I was excited to see that,” says John Colpitts with a laugh, “but it had nothing to do with the piece.”

Ryonen (Thrill Jockey), the latest release by Colpitts’ Man Forever project, was indeed named for the more philosophically-oriented of the two beauties. The album features two lengthy, intense all-percussion compositions written by the drummer (better known as Oneida’s Kid Millions) and performed by him along with the renowned So Percussion ensemble. He’ll perform an expanded 30-minute version of the album’s opening track, “The Clear Realization,” with Brooklyn-based percussion trio TIGUE at Kung Fu Necktie Wednesday night, on a bill with Stoner Boner DJs.

On the CD, “The Clear Realization” floats Colpitts’ hazy, ethereal vocals over intricately interlocking polyrhythms, building to a mesmerizing, almost spiritual, pitch. Live, he promises, the piece is “heavier in terms of the patterns and the impact. It’s more evolved and a little less raw.”

Man Forever was born at the suggestion of Ben Swanson at the now-defunct vinyl-only label St. Ives, an offshoot of Secretly Canadian. “Ben said, ‘I’d like to hear a solo drum record from you. We’ll put it out if you get it to us.’ I hadn’t even considered doing something like it,” Colpitts recalls. He was at a loss as to how to even approach such a project until hearing Fireworks Ensemble performing a chamber rendition of Lou Reed’s polarizing Metal Machine Music in 2010.

“I saw that and thought it would be really interesting to try to do something like Metal Machine Music but with drums,” he says. “So I had some conversations with Brian Chase from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs about tuning drums to just intonation and different pitches and I recorded [the first album] by myself.”


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