Oakland quartet Trails and Ways are causing quite a stir. Two years ago, the band released their debut EP Trilingual, which had multilingual lyrics, political themes and an eclectic blend of 90s shoegaze and modern beats. For example, “Border Crosser” is in support of the National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights. When they’re not making great, politically active music, the band also does dope covers, like their trilingual take on Frank Ocean’s “Lost”. Watch their video for “Tereza” below. The band will make its Philly debut tonight with another talented band, PHOX. Get more details at the XPN Concert Calendar.
Garage rock band, Reigning Sound are returning to Philadelphia August 27th. Started in 2001, the project is led by Greg Cartwright, who also leads a plethora of punk bands including The Oblivians. The five piece also includes Dave Amels, Benny Trokan, Mike Cantanese and Mikey Post (from the Jay Vons). The group recently released its first album with Merge Records, Shattered, and recorded with Daptone Studios. The band is set to play Merge 25 this year.
Compared to their previous fuzzy rock, their new music sounds like vintage ’80s rock with elements of funk and R&B. This is especially true on tracks like “North Cackalacky Girl” and “Starting New”. However, “Falling Rain” is easily the best track on the album, highlighting Cartwright’s remarkable song writing. His ability stands out with a chorus like “There’s a whole lot more to this story/ than the sound of falling rain.” Overall, the new album shows that the band is growing up.
The band plays Underground Arts August 27th as a part of Bonfire Shows. Get more details here. Listen to “Falling Rain” from Shattered below.
Philadelphia via Baltimore hiphop artist Spank Rock (aka Naeem Juwan) will be playing Underground Arts this Saturday. Last year, Spank Rock teamed up with longtime collaborator Amanda Black for their club track “We Can Go All Night”. He also played alongside the Walkmen, Sun Ra Arkestra and Sharon Van Etten at the Rail Park Benefit at Union Transfer. He recently released another single, “Gully” which promptly got remixed by Brodinski. In addition he made a mixtape for Jump Philly with DJ Sylo. Listen to the remix of “Gully” below. Get more details about the show at the XPN Concert Calendar.
Philadelphia saxophone great Odean Pope doesn’t perform with the same frequency that he once did. Originally from South Carolina, Pope was raised in Philly and got his start playing behind some of R&B’s most legendary artists at the Uptown Theater before befriending John Coltrane before the tenor legend left the city. Pope’s most enduring musical relationship was with Max Roach, with whom he played for nearly 40 years until the pioneering drummer’s death in 2007. In the early 1970s Pope co-founded the ground-breaking early fusion group Catalyst, and later corralled many of the best young saxophonists in Philly and beyond for his rousing Saxophone Choir. His sound is brawny and barbed, a bridge between hard bop, soul jazz, and the avant-garde.
The last few years have been marked by several monumental changes for Pope – last fall he turned 75, in 2011 he spoke publicly about his 30-year struggle with bipolar disorder and was celebrated at a fundraising concert at the Clef Club, and most importantly, in 2012 he lost his beloved wife Cis, the inspiration for one of his most beautiful compositions. So it’s already a special occasion that Pope will lead a quartet at Chris’ Jazz Café on Saturday, bolstered by the fact that it will be the saxophonist’s first show ever at the city’s sole remaining full-time jazz venue. He’ll front a group of local all-stars featuring bassist Lee Smith, pianist Tom Lawton, and drummer Craig McIver. Tickets and information for the show can be found here.
SoCal punk band Joyce Manor return with their third album Never Hungover Again. The album follows 2012′s Of All The Things I Will Soon Grow Tired Again. It’s the group’s first on Epitaph Records and is out July 22nd. Earlier this year, the group released the video for the first single, a DIY jiu-jitsu lesson, “Catalina Fight Song” was released in May.
Never Hungover Again certainly has a Smiths-like aspect, a sort of tragic Morrissey-esque feeling. The moody atmosphere is paired with nasal punk vocals and good, catchy guitar hooks. The first track, “Christmas Card” is a prime example. The album has its ebbs and swells. “Victoria” are full of energy but is preceded the final, definitely Smiths’ inspired tone of “End of The Summer”. The lyrics have the raw, emotional appeal of bands like the Front Bottoms and the instrumentation is strong.
Catch Joyce Manor at Union Transfer September 17th. Get more info here. Listen to Never Hungover Again via NPR Music’s First Listen series here.
The annual Phreak ‘N Queer Arts and Music Festival will be returning July 31st to August 3rd. The festival, now in its fourth year, serves to highlight art, music and culture in the LGBT community. Events range from visual art to burlesque to poetry and, of course, a variety of concerts. In order to get a sense of the show, you can listen to the killer mixtape by Homoground here. Below, get more details about some of the local highlights from the opening night.
First, there’s the impressive duo Vita and the Woolf. Vita recently played a stellar solo show this week, to much praise. The group just released their first single, “Mary” and it’s a thrilling, art-pop anthem. Jennifer Pague’s powerful vocals, similar to Florence Welch, are enchanting. Their EP, Fang Song will be out September 20th. Listen to “Mary” below.