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Norwegian Arms records Brighton Sound Session (playing Gettysburg College next month)

NArmsNorwegian Arms has hard time staying out of our headlines. They played PhilaMOCA last week, showcasing their recent release, Wolf Like a Stray Dog. They also played a Brighton Sound Session earlier this month, performing the title track of the album, and played a Philly-centric showcase at SXSW the other day. Last week, Brighton Sound Sessions released another recording with the duo. In this video, Norwegian Arms plays their track “Soviet Bicycle.” Check it out below, and consider making plans to welcome Norwegian Arms back to PA when they play at The Attic at Gettysburg College on April 13th. Information for the show is available here.

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Jukebox The Ghost at Union Transfer, Deathfix at Johnny Brenda’s, Belgrade at Kung Fu Necktie, Gemini Wolf at The Note

Photo courtesy of the band
Photo courtesy of the band

Beneath Jukebox The Ghost’s poppy veneer are serious influences. It’s hard to pick up on the group’s interest in Nabakov, for instance, while watching their infectious long shot video for “Somebody.” Yet, the group touts President Taft’s wikipedia biography on their facebook page. A witty, slightly offbeat sense of humor characterizes the group’s music aesthetic, too. Their latest album, Safe Travels, takes a pop approach to dark issues such as mortality and maturity. Catch the local band performing from their new album at Union Transfer tonight. Tickets and information for the all ages show with Matt Pond and The Spring Standards are available here. Below, stream the music video for “Somebody.”

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Go dark with the new music video for Nothing’s “The Dives (Lazarus in Ashes)”

NothingLately, Philadelphia’s Nothing has given us a lot to talk about.  They recorded a studio session back in October, played a first Friday show in January, have been playing sets in Philadelphia and beyond, and released a new music video.  The video is for their track “The Dives (Lazarus in Ashes)” was released this week and is predictably dark.

The group is known for creating ominous, unsettling shoegaze-inspired rock, but it may have out done itself on this new video.  Shots vibrate in and out of focus, revolving around a hospitalized young woman.  A vase of roses shatters, the girl’s wrists are wrapped in gauze, a woman who seems to be the protagonist’s mother cries.  It’s a somber, short black and white piece, and it works well with the track, which has large instrumental sections.  The result demands attention to detail and even re-watching, as the video leaves a sense of ending before it really starts.  Below, stream Nothing’s music video for “The Dives (Lazarus in Ashes).”

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Watch Gretchen Lohse’s Random Tea Session performance of “Primal Rumble”

Photo credit: Vince Miesejewski
Photo credit: Vince Miesejewski

Gretchen Lohse’s “Primal Rumble” is aptly named. Lohse’s voice has a raw, wild quality and the song is not unlike a primal rumble, even if it sounds more like the primal rumble of a songbird than of a wild cat. Lohse is a veteran of the Philadelphia music scene. She performed in Yellow Humphrey and collaborated with Summer Fiction before branching out on her own. She has a solo album due out this summer and recorded a studio session for The Key in January with Thomas Hughes of The Spinto Band. She played “Primal Rumble” then, too, but the ethereal video of Hughes and Lohse performing is an added compliment to her singing and writing style. Below, watch “Primal Rumble.”

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Omar at The Fire, Tim Kasher at Johnny Brenda’s

Photo by John Christon
Photo credit: John Christon
Philadelphia punk duo Omar is back. After the band’s “last show ever” in April 2011, Candice and Nick quickly recanted. A tweet in November of 2011 teased, “Don’t unfollow this account just yet.” Shows were scheduled for 2012 and by January of this year, Omar could be seen tweeting variations on the theme “We are a band again!!!” some with more expletives and hashtags than others. Of course, the grunge rock that Omar plays rarely reflects the cheery spirits of the duo’s members. To catch some of their enthusiasm, head to The Fire tonight, where they play with Great Red Spots and The Love Club. Tickets and information for the 21+ show are available here. Below, stream “Candice Sells Out and Tries to Move to Brooklyn” from Omar’s Bandcamp.

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Just Announced: XPN Welcomes Shuggie Otis to The Blockley on 8/9

Any announcement that Shuggie Otis is touring is big news. The fact that he’s playing his first Philly show in two decades at The Blockley, though, is huge for Philly R&B fans. Otis is re-releasing his 1974 album Inspiration Information and is also putting out an album of previously unreleased recordings called Wings of Love. Moreover, this tour marks the beginning of what Otis hopes will be a creative and productive period of performing and songwriting. In an interview with Mother Jones’ Jacob Blickenstaff, Otis explained, “I have my own label now, and we’re going to get started on a new album pretty soon. I’ve got a new band and I want to feature them, as well as doing some of the tracks myself.” Can’t ask for better news than that. Tickets and information for the 21+ (minors may attend if accompanied by an adult) show are available here. Below, watch him performing his signature tune “Strawberry Letter 23″ in Paris last year.

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Philly Drum Project launches fundraiser for DrumPhil, a workshop for high school students

Photo by Dan Brightcliffe
Photo by Dan Brightcliffe

Philly Drum Project is organizing DrumPhil a single-day percussion workshop available to high school students. The idea that was just a seed when we ran a feature on Philly Drum Project back in October, and the group this week announced its fundraising effort to put on the event. They hope to raise just over $3500.

The Drum Project has held monthly meetings at Roosevelt’s Pub since forming last spring. Before long, accomplished guests were visiting: Eric Slick (Dr. Dog), Marc Dicciani (jazz drummer and professor at University of the Arts), Spanky McCurdy (Lady Gaga’s touring band), and Tim Arnold (Good Old War). According to founder Ryan Crump, these veterans of the local and national scenes spoke of experiences and also asserted diverse and distinct ideas of how drumming styles worked.

Having brought the local community closer and attracted impressive speakers, Crump still had unrealized ambitions for Philly Drum Project. One of several goals for the group included working with high school students, which is how DrumPhil came about. The plan is to pack private lessons, panel discussions, group workshops, composition sessions, and an end-of-day performance into the hours of 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. on August 13th, 2013. Information and the application for the workshop are available here; to donate, go here.

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Youth Lagoon comes to Union Transfer, new album streams on NPR

Photo by Amanda Hatfield
Photo by Amanda Hatfield
In the two years from his first album under the moniker Youth Lagoon to his second, and all of the tweets in between, Trevor Powers has crafted a dark, quirky, thoughtful aesthetic. His debut album, The Year of Hibernation, was an experimental, Americana exploration of psychological dysphoria. For his second album, Wondrous Bughouse, Powers focused inwardly once again. The album drops March 5th, but is streaming on NPR’s first listen. NPR’s Robin Hilton writes of Wondrous Bughouse:

As with Youth Lagoon’s 2011 debut, The Year of Hibernation, the songs on Wondrous Bughouse are moody but not melancholy. Thematically, Powers finds himself in an existential spiral, as he asks grand questions about mortality, the spiritual world and his own mental state — which he describes as “hyperactive.” Weighty subjects ripe for pensive introspection, sure, but the music is uplifting, if a bit dysphoric, like an awkward hug for all that is light and beautiful.

Youth Lagoon will perform with Majical Cloudz at Union Transfer May 10th. Tickets and information for the all ages show are available here.

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Raekwon performing a solo set at The Blockley 2/28

Raekwon will be performing sans Clan at the Blockley on Thursday. Respected as much for his solo work as he is for his involvement with Wu-Tang, this spring Raekwon will be juggling solo shows and full-band festival sets. Of course, a busy spring tour schedule could be expected from a man whose work was once described as “gangsta Iliad” by the Miami New Times and who was praised as a “Greek god” by Kanye West. Indeed, Raekwon, or Corey Woods, is something of a legend in the hip hop world. He has been with the Wu-Tang Clan since 1992 and released his first solo debut in 1995. He has two solo studio albums due out—one projected for 2013 and another for 2014. For the current tour, Raekwon will be performing new material from his January EP, Lost Jewelry. Tickets and information for the all ages show ($4 surcharge for under 21) are available here. Below, stream Lost Jewelry courtesy of Datpiff.

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Ken Stringfellow at North Star, Bridge and Tunnel at The Fire, Tayyib Ali at Chameleon Club

Photo Credit: Eva Vermandel
Photo Credit: Eva Vermandel

Ken Stringfellow has nothing to prove. He’s made plenty of successful records– he is on three Big Star albums, six REM albums and twelve of The Posies’ albums. He has worked with dozens of other artists and somehow also made time for a solo career. His most recent release is a solo album, his fourth, called Danzig in the Moonlight. The album is eclectic, which is hardly surprising from an artist with an array of experience such as Stringfellow’s. The diversity of genres, though, may surprise someone who is not familiar with Stringfellow’s diverse projects and interests. He is currently touring with the album and will be at North Star Bar tonight. Tickets and information for the 21+ show are available here. Below, watch Stringfellow’s music video for “Superwise” from Danzig in the Moonlight.

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