By

Road trip ranting with Angelo Moore and friends

Angelo Moore
Angelo Moore band | photo courtesy of the artist

This story is so juicy, and zesty, it falls off the bone and melts in your mouth: a conversation with occasional Fishbone-r Angelo Moore, Ween drummer Claude Coleman Jr., Ashish “Hash” Vyas  of Thievery Corporation fame, and the rest of the sampladelic-soulful Brand New Step brain trust – in one car – driving out of New Orleans and into Atlanta. Their mission: to get to Philly by June 15’s Johnny Brenda’s gig in order to play its new hot jazz-funk cut “Pendulum Swings” and other songs from its sophomore album due out before 2018’s end.  Continue reading →

By

The High Key Portrait Series: Suzann Christine

Suzann Christine | photo by Josh Pelta-Heller for WXPN

High Key” is a series of profiles conceived with the intent to tell the story of Philly’s diverse musical legacy by spotlighting individual artists in portrait photography, as well as with an interview focusing on the artist’s experience living, creating, and performing in this city. “High Key” will be featured in biweekly installments, as the series seeks to spotlight artists both individually and within the context of his or her respective group or artistic collective.

Suzann Christine has earned a place for herself as an estimable Philly R&B artist, no small feat in a city whose arts and culture is defined largely by its legacy of contributions to R&B, hip-hop and soul music. A longtime student of that heritage, the singer and songwriter has been named “Philly’s Best R&B Artist,” shared stages with the likes of Wale, Musiq Soulchild and Frankie Beverly, and played to a packed Franklin Parkway when Pope Francis visited in 2015.

Recently, Suzann published a new project called Cup of Love, which is now available on all digital media outlets, along with her new hit song “Save Me.” In April, she released a collaboration with Dejure Hest, called “Don’t Rush it,” along with a new music video for the track.

Suzann works hard to give back to her community too. For the past eight years, she’s been diligently developing SCH Creative & Performing Art, Inc., a non-profit organization that she founded and incorporated, where her “Fly Star” program was conceived as a way to help build self-confidence and self-esteem in middle and high school kids in Philly who were interested becoming professional musical artists. And this Thursday, June 7th, Christine performs at 2018 Redemption Week, a community concert and candlelight vigil to support One Day At A Time, a service organization helping low-income and homeless Philadelphians affected by HIV/AIDS. More information on that event can be found here. Continue reading →

By

IamBNJMIIN is your new favorite recording engineer

iamBNJMIIN
iamBNJMIIN | photo by Joseph V. Labolito for Temple University | photo used with permission

From TyDolla$ign to Jazmine Sullivan, Benjamin Thomas’s portfolio as a music engineer spans to some of the biggest names in the industry, and he is only twenty two years old.

Whether working on location at Studio Breed in Philadelphia, or in his own home studio, Thomas — iamBNJMIIN in his credits — is the type who gives his all to the music he mixes.

“You can work smarter and harder, but if you choose to just work smarter; I’m just going to outwork you.” Thomas says.

Thomas is a Harlem native, and moved to Philadelphia when he was in early teen years. This was around the time when he was also introduced to music. “A lot of people would say ‘Yeah,  I remember this song when I was five,’” he says. “And I don’t, but my mom liked CDs a lot.”

Instead of listening, he would take his mother’s CD collection, and use it for room decoration.

Thomas admits that Rock Band and Guitar Hero are really the two things that introduced him to music as a child. After learning to master those video games, Thomas began playing bass in the sixth grade, but didn’t learn about engineering until later when one of his junior high teachers introduced him to it as a hobby.

“I got thrown into the fire in 8th grade when I was told to run this twelve microphone setup,” Thomas recalls. From there, the music hustle never stopped even as Thomas began his college career in Finance. Continue reading →

By

Break Free Fest Spotlight: Melanin

Melanin | via facebook.com/melaninchicago

After a successful inaugural year, Philadelphia’s Break Free Fest returns to The Rotunda this weekend for two days, bringing POC and other marginalized voices in the punk scene together and to the front. All week long leading up to the event, we’re highlighting some of the performers on the bill.

Melanin / Chicago, IL
melaninpunk.bandcamp.com

Melanin has been ripping up the Chicago scene for the past year. As they explain in the interview below, they are very much “catchy punk rock” in their sound. But unlike all those soulless punk bands of yesteryear that just had songs about getting dumped and drinking beer, Melanin not only has a lot to say but the musical –  and lyrical – ability to make you want to listen and care. Continue reading →

By

Break Free Fest Spotlight: Kind! Crew

Kind Crew | photo via kindcrewhc.bandcamp.com

After a successful inaugural year, Philadelphia’s Break Free Fest returns to The Rotunda this weekend for two days, bringing POC and other marginalized voices in the punk scene together and to the front. All week long leading up to the event, we’re highlighting some of the performers on the bill.

Kind! Crew / Boston, MA
kindcrewhc.bandcamp.com

Kind! Crew is a Boston youth crew hardcore band. Their music is fast and heavy and their socially conscious lyrics – “Spreading a message of love, equality, and well-being” according to their Bandcamp – are delivered in both English and Spanish. Break Free Fest is their first time playing Philadelphia. For this interview we spoke with guitarist Seth. Continue reading →

By

Break Free Fest Spotlight: Complex

Complex | via complex.bandcamp.com

After a successful inaugural year, Philadelphia’s Break Free Fest returns to The Rotunda this weekend for two days, bringing POC and other marginalized voices in the punk scene together and to the front. All week long leading up to the event, we’re highlighting some of the performers on the bill.

Complex / Philadelphia, PA
complex.bandcamp.com

Complex is a hardcore punk band from Philadelphia who has been gigging around the city since 2016. Their first release, the Modern Mutants cassette, came out last year. This is the second time they will be playing at Break Free Fest. For this interview we spoke with lead singer EJ. Continue reading →

By

Break Free Fest Spotlight: Great Wight

Great Wight | photo by Nikki Austin | via thegreatwight.bandcamp.com

After a successful inaugural year, Philadelphia’s Break Free Fest returns to The Rotunda this weekend for two days, bringing POC and other marginalized voices in the punk scene together and to the front. All week long leading up to the event, we’re highlighting some of the performers on the bill.

Great Wight / New York City, New York
thegreatwight.bandcamp.com

Great Wight is a super catchy emo-influenced band from New York City. Despite being around for just over seven months at this point, they’ve managed to put out an album and tour extensively. In June they are heading to England for a short run of shows. We spoke with lead singer and guitar player Erik Garlington. Continue reading →

By

Taking a (Lake Street) Dive

Lake Street Dive
Lake Street Dive | photo by Shervin Lainez

Often tagged as “retro” with a multi-genre emphasis on its folksy soul (or soulful folksiness) to go with its Lambert, Hendricks & Ross-on-Benzedrine-esque harmonies, Boston’s Lake Street Dive has been moving at a rapid fire pace since its independently-released debut with 2006’s In This Episode. Twelve years and several albums later, the quartet has honed its skills into something looser and airier, yet currently focused on a modern R&B tone on its brand new release, Free Yourself Up.

Perhaps we can blame a more-than-usual wealth of compositions and co-compositions from Bridget Kearney (fresh off her debut solo album, 2017’s Won’t Let You Down), or touring keyboardist Akie Bermiss stepping up to the plate as a formidable studio presence, or the band’s taking control of its own production with help from friend and engineer Dan Knobler. Drummer Mike Calabrese and Kearney clue us in before returning to Philly for May 12’s sold-out show at The Fillmore. (UPDATE: Lake Street Dive just announced a free concert at the Sherman Theater in Stroudsburg on Tuesday, June 19th; to attend, RSVP here.) Continue reading →

By

Todd Rundgren’s Shifting Utopias

Todd Rundgren's Utopia Group | photo by Danny O'connor | courtesy of the artist
Todd Rundgren’s Utopia Group | photo by Danny O’connor | courtesy of the artist

The last time audiences caught a Todd Rundgren (and there are many to choose from), they were treated to a sound more in league with his sumptuous, blue-eyed soul past (such as 1972’s epic Something/Anything), teamed with the often caustic lyricism of, say, 2004’s Liars, the result of which was 2017’s White Knight, and its singularly humorous Trump-bashing “Tin Foil Hat.”

Now, in 2018, Rundgren is returning to an occasionally more peaceful (or existentially humanist) set of lyrics and a Technicolor progressive rock-ist sound with his ensemble Utopia, a box set of collected works and a tour that brings him home to Upper Darby and the Tower Theater on May 5.

“When I first formed Utopia in the 70s, a lot of it had to do with the fact that as a songwriter working primarily at that time on the piano, that I had put aside the guitar,” said the man whose 60s instrumental roots were in the bluesy Woody’s Truck Stop and the psychedelic The Nazz. “I started getting the feeling after Something/Anything, that I was losing my chops. I hadn’t created the opportunity as a songwriter or producer for the sort-of guitar playing I wanted to do.” Continue reading →

By

Dirty Harmony: Boogieman Dela draws from many musical pillars to create Future Currents

Boogieman Dela | via boogiemandela.com

Opening with the faint sound of birds chirping and oddly-metered “Doo-Doo-Doo-Dooo-Doo-Doooo” scats, “Believe” — the first track from West Philly MC/Singer Boogieman Dela’s latest EP Broken Watch 02: Future Currents — properly encapsulates the projects fresh, breezy spirit.

Once the over-sized kick drums hit, Boogieman enters with a slick, melodic flow and lyrics urging listeners to wake up and self-actualize. We caught up with him to chat about his beginnings in hip hop, his process, and the Gospel upbringing that helped shape his rich, soulful sound. Continue reading →