Testing out new tuneage with Madalean Gauze and Family Vacation at Ortlieb’s

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Family Vacation | Photo by John Vettese
Family Vacation | Photo by John Vettese

It was a quiet pre-Labor Day Thursday night and Ortlieb’s wasn’t exactly packed, but that didn’t daunt singer-songwriter Madalean Gauze or indie rock four-piece Family Vacation. The two Philly artists used their time and the warmly receptive group of folks listening to test out new tunes from their respective projects in progress.

Earlier this year, Gauze released her outstanding debut EP American War, and played most of it in her 40 minute set, along with another EP’s worth of unreleased material. Her sound is very blues-oriented and dynamic – aided in no small part by ace drummer Patrick Berkery – but the songs have something of an arty punk rooting as well. PJ Harvey might be an apt comparison, and her new song “Lovestruck” stood out from the set in both its fervent delivery and a coda that seemed to be an homage to Sonic Youth’s “Dirty Boots”; very cool stuff. Gauze tells me the new stuff is going to be on an EP she’s making with Jeff Ziegler this fall, and I’m already itching to hear it.

Though stylistically very different, psychedelic pop four-piece Family Vacation took a similar approach in their performance last night. Guitarist Cody Bluett told the room at the beginning of the set “So, we put out our first album a year ago,” kind of signaling that a lot of the set was going to be songs that weren’t on it. The bouncy “Two Blocks,” made a fantastic appearance late in the set, its Dr. Dog-esque guitarmonies and vocal harmonies sounding solid as ever, but the newer tracks seem to be moving in a decidedly more epic, My Morning Jacket-esque direction – particularly an as-yet untitled number about the Philadelphia Parking Authority, which had a delightful ebb and flow augmented by huge guitar leads from Luke Harsel. The guys play next at Bourbon and Branch tonight; tickets and info at the XPN Concert Calendar.

Check out photos from last night’s show below.

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