By

New journeys with Hoots and Hellmouth

Hoots and Hellmouth | photo via facebook.com/hootsandhellmouth

Philly roots scene favorites Hoots and Hellmouth emerged from a stretch of semi-hibernation earlier this fall with In The Trees Where I Can See The Forest. It’s the band’s fourth, and finest album — a true evolution of its sound into something spacious and spectral, atmospheric and engaging. The acoustic bootstomp folk rock that they built their name around has given way to sensitive electric jams, with the stunning “Diction” acting as a centerpiece. On the one hand, it’s the same Hoots and Hellmouth you’ve always known, but on the other hand, they’re more grown up than ever.

The band — which features Sean Hoots on guitar and vocals, Rob Berliner on mandolin and vocals, Todd Erk on bass and Mike Reilly on drums –went on a U.S. tour this fall. It was their first run in a few years, and wasn’t without its challenges: a van break-in after a St. Louis gig left them with gear and personal items stolen, while shows in markets they never played before were on the underwhelming side.

When I caught up with Hoots via phone this week, he admitted that it took the band a minute to find their footing on this run, but it had its transcendant moments as well (including a performance for the OpenAir sessions at Colorado Public Radio), and he remains optimistic about the next leg of the journey. Tonight, Hoots and Hellmouth brings it home at Ardmore Music Hall; get tickets and more information on the show at the XPN Concert Calendar, and read my interview with Hoots below. Continue reading →

By

Something is afoot in Strand of Oaks-land

Strand of Oak
Strand of Oak| Photo by Dusdin Condren

For the most part, Strand of Oaks has laid low for 2016. There were a few festival gigs, including Shaky Knees, and of course his year-end sold-out Winter Classic run at Boot and Saddle this weekend — with an Arden Gild Hall performance the night before (tix still available for that). But after a mammoth two years of promoting 2014’s breakout LP HEAL, it’s totally understandable that Oaks main man Tim Showalter would need to step back and recharge. We’ve heard he spent a lot of time in the past several months hiking the Wissahickon trails. It’s seems, though, that the hibernation period is over and something new from Oaks is on the way very shortly.

Yesterday, a teaser video went up on the Strand of Oaks Facebook page — 30 moody and mysterious seconds of Showalter putting on his rings and black tanktop, his necklace and shades, his trademark denim jacket celebrating Sleep’s Dopesmoker. In the background, a haunting ambient guitar and pensive vocals from what sounds like a new Oaks song play. “He ran away,” Showalter sings. “He went searching. He came back, tired of looking.” Continue reading →

By

The Dudes Abide: The Districts shine at Johnny Brenda’s residency

The Districts | photo by Jeremy Zimmerman | jeremy-zim.com
The Districts | photo by Jeremy Zimmerman | jeremy-zim.com

Well, well, well. If the gosh darn boys aren’t back in town. After what felt like almost whole year, our hometown heroes The Districts returned to a Philadelphia stage for three proper headlining shows at Johnny Brenda’s. And while 2016 wasn’t necessarily a quiet year for them — touring with both Modest Mouse and Dr. Dog is nothing to sneeze at — it definitely felt like a bit of a building year for a band that otherwise seems to have unlimited amounts of energy. It makes sense, with hints of LP3 trickling out at shows, and word coming that the band spent almost a month in LA over the summer, demoing and recording new material. But as summer faded, and the memories of The Districts’ slamming XPNFest set weren’t keeping my heart as warm as they once had, this three-night stand at JB’s came just in the nick of time. Continue reading →

By

This Day in Music History: Led Zeppelin records “All My Love,” John Lennon released Double Fantasy

John Lennon Double Fantasy
1970 – Elton John plays live in a recording studio, accompanied by just two musicians: Dee Murray on bass and Nigel Olsson on drums. The performance, which is broadcast on New York City’s WABC radio, is the first live FM broadcast from a music studio. The recording is later be released as 17-11-70, Elton’s first live album.

Continue reading →

By

This Day in Music History: Elton John & Bernie Taupin sign their first contract, Alice in Chains release their self-titled album

Alice in Chains

1963 – The Beatles make their only two appearances ever in Ireland, playing at the Adelphi Cinema in Dublin. The group hooks up with screenwriter Alun Owen, who has been appointed to write the screenplay for their as-yet-untitled first motion picture. Owen spends three days with them, observing their hectic lifestyle.

Continue reading →