It was a quiet pre-Labor Day Thursday night and Ortlieb’s wasn’t exactly packed, but that didn’t daunt singer-songwriter Madalean Gauze or indie rock four-piece Family Vacation. The two Philly artists used their time and the warmly receptive group of folks listening to test out new tunes from their respective projects in progress. Continue reading →
You never know what you are going to get when you attend a Polyphonic Spree show. Part concert, part spectacle, a stage filled with close to 20 musicians is not something you are likely to see again. They have been known to play Rocky Horror straight through, bust out unexpected covers, and completely fill a venue with fake snow for Christmas performances. You may remember their big hit Light and Day, with its euphoric “Follow the day and reach for the sun” chorus that was made popular in the film Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Continue reading →
Last weekend, TWOB Fest celebrated Philly’s thriving basement show scene with three days of concerts at West Philly house venues Moonbase Nix, The Sack Hole and Michael Jordan, and Fishtown punk club The Barbary. Among the artists on the bill were local favorites like By Surprise and Marietta, touring artists like Laura Stevenson, The Sidekicks and Hotelier, hundreds of fans and a ton of energy. Continue reading →
When a young music fan hears stories about their favorite bands recording new music, they often invent grandiose visions of the studio and its space. There’s a certain mystique inherent for those who haven’t stepped foot in one; like most unlived experiences it’s portrayed in our heads as distant, unattainable, a place where all-time art is created. A place where “regular people” don’t ever go. Of course, that’s not really true. Studios come in all shapes, sizes and budgets, from cavernous state-of-the-art compounds where million-dollar records are made, to dirt-floor basements walled with smoke-stained eggshell padding.
Philadelphia’s Miner Street Recordings, which has gone through several locations in its two decades of existence (and is no longer located on Miner Street, for the record – the name comes from its original location in West Chester), lies somewhere in between the two extremes of the studio spectrum. Situated at a central crossroads in Fishtown, it’s a nondescript, vaguely abandoned-looking building in a city full of them. Off-white and faded blue paint peels from the exterior walls, exposing bricks underneath. The only visual confirmation that it’s the right place is a small piece of black tape on the front door with the words “this is Miner Street” written on it.
Before spotting the “sign” though, there’s an aural confirmation; standing on the sidewalk outside, the sound of muffled, droned, noteless guitar strumming breaks through the walls. We’re here to observe Restorations as they record their third full-length and second for SideOneDummy Records, and even those distant, cacophonous non-notes are immediately identifiable with the band’s growing reputation for weaponizing sharp, bright melodies by weaving them into heavy, distorted riffs, an unassumingly thunderous rhythm section and the occasional organ, all of it anchored by the throaty vocals of Jon Loudon. Continue reading →
Reggae/Dub kings SOJA took over World Cafe for an incredible display of lyricism and musicianship. SOJA’s music stays true to their traditional form on their latest LP, Amid The Noise And Haste, an album chock full of social commentary, reggae melodies, and incredible guest artists, including Collie Buddz and Damian Marley among others. Continue reading →
Danish singer-songwriter and pianist Agnes Obel played a mesmerizing set at World Cafe Live on Tuesday night. Returning to the US for part of her global tour in support of her sophomore LP, Aventine (2013), Obel primarily performed songs from that record, as well as a few selections from her debut release Philharmonics (2010).