Philadelphia psychedelic pop outfit The Morelings seemingly arrived on the scene this past year with a fully realized look and sound. Spectral guitars, shimmering melodies, distant voices breathlessly beckoning you to pay close attention. Then again, the band and its sound is the product of years of friendship and collaboration between founding duo Kedra Caroline and Matthew William, stretching back to their college days in Ann Arbor, MI. And the sound continues to evolve.
Caroline and William bonded over Nick Drake and Fairport Convention; William also had a strong fondness for John Fahey, and these disparate influences informed the first music they wrote together. Flash forward to Philadelphia in 2014, when The Morelings recorded its debut EP No Sign with Kyle Johnson. Their songs moved in a decidedly dreamy direction comparable to the giants of the shoegaze 90s – Slowdive, Lush and their contemporaries. Drifting, spacious and minimal, the EP strikes notes of haunting serenity, with Caroline’s voice floating in the fray as though it was another instrument.
Last summer, Caroline and William toured as a duo with a drum machine, but the real shift in sound began when the band connected with guitarist Jake Detweiler. “Until then, Matt was working double time, playing a combination of lead and rhythm for shows,” Caroline says. “So the addition of Jake was huge.” The lineup continued to build into the six-piece configuration that performed for this week’s Key Studio Session: Elliot Wilson on drums, Casey Grabowski on synthesizers and Emily Cahill on bass.
“This lineup is really a dream for us,” says Caroline. “It’s a full sound. It’s everything we would want for the music live.”
It brings the music to life in a new way as well – “No Sign,” which takes a downbeat and ambient turn on the EP, pulses with life in the Key Studio Session rendition. “It has also given us a chance to develop songs as a band,” adds Caroline, and we hear three of those in their session as well: the soaring guitar soundscape “To You” (watch a striking video for that below, care of local videographer Bob Sweeney), the pensive gothic pop of “Before” and the stirring drive of “What You Wanted.”
The band performs tomorrow night at The Foundry of The Fillmore Philadelphia, opening the night at WXPN’s Red Bull Sound Select show – tickets are $3 if you RSVP here. Below, listen to the studio session, download it at WXPN’s Soundcloud page. And in case you missed it, we highly recommend you check out Philebrity’s excellent profile of The Morelings from earlier this year.