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O Muse: Inspirational Canadian icon Jane Siberry brings her newest odyssey to the Tin Angel

Jane Siberry | courtesy of the artist
Jane Siberry | courtesy of the artist

The veteran Canadian singer and songwriter Jane Siberry will make a rare Philly appearance next Tuesday, at the Tin Angel.  She’s touring in support of Ulysses’ Purse, her first new record in five years and arguably her most substantial statement since her commercial heyday of the 1980s and early 1990s.  It may also be – as she told me by phone from New York, where she’s preparing for the tour – her “last formal record,” which is all the more reason to listen up. Continue reading →

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PREMIERE: Cherry steps out with Gloom EP and a hypnotic “Alligators” video

Cherry | Photo courtesy of the artist
Cherry | Photo courtesy of the artist

Russell Edling was still writing new songs as his old band wound its career down.

The former singer and guitarist of Philly-via-Scranton punk outfit Kite Party (which called it a day in 2014, following the release of Come On Wandering) knew that the music he had in mind was going to be for a different project altogether. And he knew that – with no previous solo outings behind him – he could take that music in any direction he wanted.

Over the past few months, Edling has quietly debuted his new band Cherry with a handful of gigs, including one during the Lame-O Records Rock Residency at Boot and Saddle. Today, he announced that the band’s debut EP Gloom would be released as a 7″ via Lame-O on February 19th.

In a way, the new music sounds like Edling and it doesn’t sound like Edling. It’s undeniably brighter and poppier than his old band ever was, with moments recalling Clap Your Hands Say Yeah (the askew and singalongable”Golden Luv”), Beat Happening (the quirky wind-up pop song “Special Baby”) and Teenage Fanclub (the fuzzed-out anthem “Alligators”).

But Cherry also remains rooted in Edling’s wry and observant songwriting style – which makes sense, since they started in the same fashion as his Kite Party songs: just him and a guitar. What makes Cherry different, Edling explains, is that he didn’t want the songs to be overworked.

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Escort will accompany you to disco paradise, 2016-style

Escort | photo by Shervin Lainez | courtesy of the artist
Escort | photo by Shervin Lainez | courtesy of the artist

The past decade or so has seen “disco” rehabilitated from a dirty, shameful word to a hallmark of hipster sophistication (and, in recent years, a resurgent, fully mainstream pop phenomenon) – and it’s not too far-fetched to suggest that Brooklyn’s Escort played a role in that transformation.  They’ve certainly been along for the ride.  Launched in 2006 as a studio-bound duo project – the brainchild of DJ/producers Eugene Cho and Dan Balis, Escort eventually expanded into a whopping seventeen-piece live ensemble: not so much a case of wanton, coke-addled excess as simply the number of players necessary to faithfully replicate their meticulously detailed, vintage-inspired string, horn and percussion arrangements.

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Sound and Place: Low Cut Connie

Adam Weiner and Finnemore of Low Cut Connie with Ray's Happy Birthday Bar owner Lou Capozzoli | Photo by David Norbut | dnorphoto.com | courtesy of the artist
Adam Weiner and Dan Finnemore of Low Cut Connie with Ray’s Happy Birthday Bar owner Lou Capozzoli | Photo by David Norbut | davidnorbut.com | courtesy of the artist

Sound and Place is a recurring series where we take Philly musicians to their favorite places in town. For this installment, we sit down over pints and PBRs at Ray’s Happy Birthday Bar with Low Cut Connie.

“I like to play in environments where there’s some people in the room, first of all, who are not on our side that we can win over, and ideally there’d be some people in the room who we can uplift in some way.” Adam Weiner took a bite of his apple. “And in here you can find a lot of people on a downward spiral.”

The singer, pianist and frontman of Low Cut Connie sat in the back of Ray’s Happy Birthday Bar, a South Philly institution known for its personality, down-and-out charm and festive merrymaking. To his left was band mate, drummer and guitarist Dan Finnemore. To his right sat Lou Capozzoli, Ray’s owner and a longtime musician in his own right.

It was a rainy Wednesday night in early December, the bar relatively quiet at first, quickly filling with neighborhood regulars clouding the room with smoke, filtering back to greet Capozzoli, Weiner and Finnemore. The latter two had all but wrapped up a year of touring behind Low Cut Connie’s rambunctious, bombastic, yet refined and smart third album Hi Honey, out last April.

The trio sat at a table, the charming message “Music makes me smile,” painted on the wall behind them, huddled around a few sheets of paper, some of the typed text crossed out and amended in pen. Continue reading →

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Tuning In: How Philadelphian Liz Ciavolino uses music to foster community and activism

Ciavolino is a harpist and organizer of local shows, such as the CADBI benefit shows occurring this winter at W/N W/N (Photo by the author)
Ciavolino at Ahimsa House in West Philly | Photo by Kate Bracaglia for WXPN

Liz Ciavolino is who you want as your neighbor. The 20-something Philadelphian is all about fostering community, whether it’s organizing DIY shows in her backyard, playing for tiny, living room crowds, or getting involved in local politics. For her latest project, a series of benefit concerts for the Coalition to Abolish Death by Incarceration, it’s a little of all three—the series, which kicks off January 17, aims to raise awareness for prison sentencing reform as well as introduce Philadelphians to local talent.

For Ciavolino, it’s a natural pairing. A musician since childhood, whose interest in grassroots activism was sparked in college, she grew frustrated upon graduation when she felt forced to pick between the two. Until she realized she didn’t have to.

“When you’re in a band, you can attach your name to so many things. So why not attach it to something important?” explains Ciavolino, who fronts her own band, Liz & The Lost Boys, when not teaching music. Continue reading →

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Make It Funky: Sax icon Maceo Parker reflects on a career of party-rocking showmanship

Maceo Parker | photo by Philip Ducap | press photo approved by artist
Maceo Parker | photo by Philip Ducap | press photo approved by artist

Maceo Parker became famous as the target of James Brown frequent imprecation, “Maceo, blow your horn!” The saxophonist was an integral part of two of the most influential funk groups of all time: Brown’s backing band, The J.B.’s, in the 1960s, and George Clinton’s Parliament-Funkadelic in the following decade.

Parker has focused on his solo career since 1990, performing a mixture of the funk classics he helped make famous, covers of a few favorites that he didn’t have a hand in, and a smattering of jazz standards. He’ll bring his band to the Ardmore Music Hall on Saturday, and we took the occasion to chat with him by phone from his hometown of Kinston, North Carolina. Continue reading →

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Up From the Basement: Vicky Speedboat debuts tonight at Bourbon and Branch

Vicky Speedboat | Photo by Emily Dubin | thedubyscoop.com | courtesy of the artist
Vicky Speedboat | Photo by Emily Dubin | thedubyscoop.com | courtesy of the artist

“It was weird, it came together so fast but it’s been in the works for so long,” says Sean Huber.

The Philly drummer, singer and songwriter is talking about Vicky Speedboat, his new punk rock power duo with Will Lindsay. Both guys are staples of the local DIY scene, Huber in Modern Baseball, Lindsay in W.C. Lindsay and together in Steady Hands. Their new collaboration is rooted in a long-standing friendship as much as a collective surplus of no-frills rock the eff out energy.

As Lindsay tells it, having a place to make noise was also clutch. Continue reading →

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Exit Interview: Ron Gallo on packing up for Nashville

Ron Gallo | Photo courtesy of the artist
Ron Gallo | Photo courtesy of the artist

I first met Ron Gallo in 2008 when his then-duo Toy Soldiers was making a lot of noise on the Temple house show scene. The band consisted of him backed by drummer Mike Baurer, and their rough-hewn bluesy grit and taut minimalism – best exemplified by a set of demos posted on their MySpace page called It Is What It Is. Is It What It Is? - reminded me a hell of a lot of The Black Keys. Carney and Auerbach were still a duo at that point too. Things change, bands evolve, the big wheel keeps on turning.

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Acting on Instinct: The psychedelic foundations of Philly’s Tygaton

Tygaton | Photo by John Vettese
Tygaton | Photo by John Vettese

Rain is coming down on Delaware Avenue. It’s early October and Tygaton is completely audible from the opposite side of the six-lane highway. They’re exploring an immersive jam that sounds like it could’ve gone several more leagues farther down when it stops rather suddenly.

Guitarist and lead singer Ben Will, comes outside followed by his bandmates. Each has a bottle of Yards Extra Special Ale in hand, presumably bought from the brewery within eyeshot of where they practice. After a quick introduction everyone heads inside.

On the second floor of a building that appears to have either been an apartment building or a warehouse converted into rehearsal spaces for several bands. Right now there’s one practicing in another room just down the hallway. Filing into their room Tygaton shares with another band, they each sit by their respective instruments. It may be about – generously estimating – 15-by-18 feet; stacked with gear almost up to the ceiling and is nearly impossible to take a step through without there being a guitar or synth cable underneath one’s feet.

The five-piece psych outfit has some deep roots, which is what aids them in creating their highly evocative songs. Will and bassist Dave Moore have known each other since they were about 15 years old, playing in different bands around the Philadelphia punk scene, but never in the same one. Continue reading →

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Getting cocky with Laura Stevenson

Laura Stevenson | Photo by Christopher Hainey | courtesy of the artist
Laura Stevenson | Photo by Christopher Hainey | courtesy of the artist
Earlier this fall, Laura Stevenson released her fantastic, fourth solo album Cocksure through Don Giovanni Records. Punkier, perkier, and poppier than anything she’s ever done, it marks both a natural progression from and stark contrast to her previous efforts. In preparation for her upcoming stop at The Foundry at The Fillmore to debut the album live, I caught up with Stevenson to discuss the making of the record, how to stay sane on the road, and her memorable first experience playing in Philly… Continue reading →