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Watch Pattern is Movement record their final song in a church for Shaking Through

Pattern Is Movement | Photos by Peter English | via weathervanemusic.com

It’s no secret that Philadelphia experimental rock duo Pattern is Movement is calling it quits. But before they announced their break-up, they promised to go out with a bang – and part of that bang was recording a song for Philadelphia non-profit Weathervane Music’s Shaking Through series. Continue reading →

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Superheaven is celebrating the release of Ours is Chrome at The Barbary

 

Superheaven | via facebook.com/superheavenband
Superheaven | via facebook.com/superheavenband

The sun set long ago for the Doylestown band known as Daylight.

But that didn’t mean they stopped making the battering, heavy songs that offered a throwback to the 90′s, served up on their debut record Jar. In fact, they took that sound and perfected it. That is what you will hear from Superheaven – different name, same snarling attitude. Continue reading →

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One More Trip: Cynthia G. Mason talks about coming back to the Philly music scene

Photo by Rachel Del Sordo
Cynthia G. Mason | Photo by Rachel Del Sordo

Longtime Philly singer-songwriter Cynthia G. Mason is ready to emerge back onto the scene after an eight-year hiatus. Mason, who was previously a mainstay on the local acoustic circuit, took some time off after 2007′s Quitter’s Claim to focus on her family. But, as she tells it, she started to “ache” for the need to create music again, and luckily for us, she’s returned with Cinematic Turn, her first EP since retreating from the music world. During a recent phone call, Mason shared details about her transition back into music and what’s so special about this album. Continue reading →

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Meet Sean Bennett and Franco Yugga, the Philly buskers Glen Hansard brought onstage at NonCOMM

Sean Bennett, left, and Franco Yugga, right, with Glen Hansard backstage at NonCOMM | Photo by Jeremy Zimmerman | jeremy-zim.com
Sean Bennett, left, and Franco Yugga, right, with Glen Hansard backstage at NonCOMM | Photo by Jeremy Zimmerman | jeremy-zim.com

Sean Bennett is glad that it’s getting to be summer – it’s a much better time of year to be a street musician. People are outdoors more often, they’re less rushed and more willing to listen, and it opens the door to better money and more opportunities for he and his best friend Franco Yugga.

You may have seen the two classically-trained violinists performing in Suburban Station on your commute to and from work; their playing reverberates beautifully across the cement walls by the 17th Street staircase. It wasn’t too far from there yesterday afternoon that Bennett, 19, and Yugga, 18, were performing their rendition of Mozart’s Symphony No. 25 when renowned Dublin singer-songwriter Glen Hansard happened to be within earshot. Continue reading →

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Unlocked: Reflect on life and death in Hop Along’s “Happy To See Me”

Frances Quinlan | photo by Rachel Del Sordo | racheldelsordo.tumblr.com
Frances Quinlan | photo by Rachel Del Sordo | racheldelsordo.tumblr.com

One of the most powerful moments on Hop Along‘s 2012 album Get Disowned is one of its quietest.

On the second side of a record filled with emotional, cathartic ragers and explosive youth anthems sits the melancholic, haunting ballad called “Trouble Found Me.” Like much of the album, the song abstractly relates the story of a character with schizophrenia – a family friend of frontwoman Frances Quinlan – and follows as he struggles through life, is pushed through hospitals and is generally failed by the healthcare system. “Trouble Found Me” is a point of aching realization of all this: as much for Quinlan the third-person narrator as it is for the character and even the listener who might not know about the story line at play.

This lyric in particular drives it home:

Once I thought being lost was only a part of being young / But the old man in the bed next to your cot was screaming louder than anyone / Saying mama mama mama, little white mice run across my bed while the nurses play poker outside / Oh my God, how is the other guy? I can’t believe someday I’m gonna die.

Quinlan sings that last line – “I can’t believe someday I’m gonna die” – in a whisper, matter-of-factly acknowledging our collective mortality not with fear but rather a resigned uncertainty. In the distance, a slide guitar moans. Is there a greater significance to this aimless trip we’re all on? My exit could be a long ways off, or it could be this week, and it leads me to pretty much the same place in either case. All those questions that keep you up at night, you know?

Hop Along’s excellent sophomore album Painted Shut is out today on Saddle Creek Records, and the band celebrates this Saturday night with a headlining show at Union Transfer. As the week unfolds, you’ll doubtless read a lot out there in the musical-journalistic space about what a bold record it is, how it’s unflinching and energetic, how it unpacks heavy ideas with equally heavy volume and energy. All of those points are absolutely accurate, and we’ll be weighing in on them all week long as we explore the album in Unlocked, The Key’s recurring spotlight on new and significant releases from Philadelphia-area artists.

But for me, again, the most powerful moment on Painted Shut might just be its quietest. Continue reading →

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Meet Clique: An emo punk band taking over Philadelphia basement shows

Clique | Photo by Emily Scott
Clique | Photo by Emily Scott

The four twenty-something guys of the Philly band Clique wanted to break in their new outdoor chairs that their friend Michael Kuhn (aka experimental percussionist Nah) trash-picked. So we sat on bassist Travis Arterburn’s porch and talked as the four-piece band smoked cigarettes and slung back a few beers and the sun began to set.

Since releasing their self-titled EP, Clique has made a name for themselves within Philadelphia basements and DIY spaces. This isn’t their first take as a band, as members of the band come from different groups formerly existing in Philadelphia.

Singer/guitarist PJ Carroll played in Girl Scouts (which played their last show last June) and The Hundred Acre Woods while Arterburn played in the now defunct Ted Nguyent.

Their sound has changed pretty drastically. Ted Nguyent was a fast-paced punk rock group, in which Arterburn played drums. Girl Scouts was straight-forward math rock and The Hundred Acre Woods had an indie folk punk sound.

And then there’s Clique: an emo rock group with dark guitar riffs and strong basslines. Continue reading →

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Philly trombonist Ernest Stuart on nurturing the scene with Center City Jazz Fest

Ernest Stuart | Photo by Jauhein Sasnou | courtesy of the artist
Ernest Stuart | Photo by Jauhein Sasnou | courtesy of the artista

After growing up and studying jazz in Philadelphia, trombonist Ernest Stuart moved two hours north to make a go of it as a musician in New York City. It exposed him to a spectrum of new sounds and connected him with artists he works with to this day – including the Brooklyn-based Bhangra band Red Baraat, with whom he tours on the regular. When he returned to Philly in 2010, Sturart decided to add some of that spark the local scene. “There wasn’t much happening here jazz-wise and I grew tired of hearing myself complain about it,” he recalls. “Somehow that ended with me creating a jazz festival.” Continue reading →

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Seeking Valor brings awareness to depression through their 7 of Diamonds LP

Seeking Valor | photo via facebook.com/SeekingValor
Seeking Valor | photo via facebook.com/SeekingValor

After losing their friend Gary to a battle with depression, Philadelphia rock six-piece Seeking Valor decided to write an album in his memory. More than just that, though, they wanted to write an album that could possibly save someone else’s life.  According to guitarist Frank Gannon, he resulting record – particularly the “So Far Gone” single, released back in October – is a testament to their friend Gary but also the band’s journey as a whole; 7 of Diamonds has not only been two years in the making, it has been two years of reflecting and processing.  I caught up with the group to ask them their album, the foundation that comes with it, and the upcoming release show at The Trocadero on May 2nd. Continue reading →