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Sixteen Jackies, American Trappist, and Madalean Gauze will play The Deli Philly’s 10th Anniversary Bash

Sixteen Jackies | photo by Rachel Del Sordo for WXPN / American Trappist | photo courtesy of the artist / Madalean Gauze | still from video

The Deli Philly‘s annual birthday bash is a special one this year — the local edition of the music magazine is turning 10 years old, and to celebrate, they’ve put together a stacked triple bill of local artists. The birthday gig will take place on October 6 at PhilaMOCA, and glam rockers Sixteen Jackies will headline the show. The Deli recently chose Sixteen Jackies’ new EP Mascula as their record of the month in June. Continue reading →

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Memento Mori: American Trappist wrestles with existential dread on the urgent new Tentanda Via LP

American Trappist
American Trappist | photo by Kara Donnelly | courtesy of the artist

It’s no accident that the cover of the new American Trappist album features a young Joe Michelini smiling at the camera, a bed of mums in the background and a grim reaper sitting on a wooden chair, bone-hands on lap, a macabre grimace pointed menacingly in the boy’s direction.

Though the photograph obviously a cheery artifact of some Halloween past, it also serves as a memento mori — the millennia-old artistic and philosophical practice of reflecting on our own mortality and transience. Life plus time equals death, and for all of humanity’s varied spiritual practices and pontificating, none of us really knows what death means. And it’s terrifying.

“It’s the biggest feeling I’ve ever felt,” says Michelini as we talked about the new American Trappist album Tentanda Via at WXPN studios last week. It’s out on Friday, but you can take an exclusive first listen to below, and as our conversation unfolded, it became clear that beneath the record’s uplifting, anthemic, eclectic rock and roll, Michelini intended it as a sort of musical memento mori.

“I think there are times in my life, sorting through this, where I feel like I’m still dodging suicide at points,” he says. “I’ve started to get help after working on this record, which is great. But it can be difficult to find the right kind of help for that kind of stuff. The title of the record, though, which means ‘the way must be tried’…the idea for me was that maybe, before I wrote off existence, I would make this effort to try to live a meaningful life, to life my best life. That’s the conclusion of the record, though it hasn’t been that easy.”

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The Key Presents: American Trappist

American Trappist | photo by Jeremy Zimmerman | jeremy-zim.com

It was always about coming home. For Joe Michelini, American Trappist is the natural extension of the scenic route into the self.

When we travelled to Asbury Park together last month, the native New Jersey son was clearly in his element, pointing out landmarks to the both personal and professional. As we’re cleaning up after filming in Asbury’s historic Convention Center Hall, Joe looks wildly around and points up into the stands. “That was my seat. I saw my first concert in this room.”

From The Boss to Trappe, the Convention Hall has played home to countless musicians down through the years. And even as the town that Joe fell in love with as a child has begun to change tangibly and more immaterially, it still remains a sort of sanctuary for the road-worn Michelini. River City Extension died here. American Trappist was born here. The road ends, begins, goes on, comes back. That’s what getting even means.

This is The Key Presents: American Trappist.
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PREMIERE: American Trappist evokes sunny so-Cal, collabs with Hemming on new retro ballad “Soot”

American Trappist | photo by Brian L. Tice, Jr. | courtesy of artist

After River City Extension disbanded a couple years back, Joe Michelini started creating tunes under the name of American Trappist. With his self-titled debut last year, Michelini took listeners on a bluesy, folky, gritty sonic journey trekking from suburbia to crossing dusty Western plains and atmospheric desert landscapes.

Now, with a new track in hand, American Trappist seems to be continuing his westward U.S. excursion with a stop in sunny so-Cal. Although the song is titled “Soot,” its sound differs drastically from the smudgy darkness that the name suggests — instead, it jams along to a beat of retro garage rock goodness.

In addition to breezy guitar riffs, this shift in sound is aided by the grandiose, earnest vocals of the 60’s-esque duet between Michelini and Hemming’s Candice Martell. Continue reading →

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Roots, Rock, Redepmtion: A review of American Trappist’s self-titled debut

american trappist
American Trappist | photo by Brian L. Tice Jr.

American Trappist’s self-titled debut had me saying “Johnny Cash” over and over again in my head for the duration of my time listening. The LP, consisting of thirteen tracks, takes listeners on a journey of self acceptance, personal discovery, and many of the other ups and downs that accompany the transition into young adulthood. Continue reading →

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American Trappist cruises around town in “Nothing Short of Faithful”

american trappist
American Trappist | photo by Brian L. Tice Jr.

Stepping into a new role as American Trappist, New Jersey singer/songwriter Joe Michelini (of River City Extension) premiered a video for a song called “Nothing Short of Faithful” via American Songwriter earlier this week. The track comes from American Trappist’s new On the River Toms EP, the second in a three-part EP series that will combine to make the project’s first full-length release.

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Wilco at The Mann Center, American Trappist at Ortlieb’s, Roots Picnic at Festival Pier and more

Wilco at Solid Sound Festival | Photo by Noah Silvestry | silvestography.tumblr.com
Wilco at Solid Sound Festival | Photo by Noah Silvestry | silvestography.tumblr.com

Tonight is the night, Wilco fans. Jeff Tweedy and company will play their first proper headlining set within Philadelphia’s municipal boundaries since 2010 tonight at The Mann. The band has last year’s uber-digable Star Wars in tow, as well as a remarkable back-cataloge (obvs). I will be happy to scream along to “Misunderstood” and I’m sure most of you who know Wilco feel the same. Tickets and more information can be found at the XPN Concert Calendar. Continue reading →

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Listen to Cave People get vulnerable on a bare-boned EP

Cave People | photo courtesy of the artist

Local PA indie rock outfit Cave People just dropped their new EP Salt, recorded by Joe Michelini (of American Trappist) at Berlin Studios. The band announced that all the proceeds collected will help fund Juntos, a Philly-based organization that is fighting for immigrant rights.

“Are You Looking,” is a bare-boned acoustic track that carves out space within itself. Frontman Dave Tomaine’s voice shakes with vulnerability as he echoes the self-conscious titular question. Chiming keyboard notes leave faintly treading footsteps behind a delicate web of fretwork. “Lather” demonstrates a similarly impressive layering of guitar and piano, creating a cinematic taxi-cab-pulling-away-after-dramatic-goodbye vibe. Here is Cave People shrinking, Cave People at their smallest.  Continue reading →

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The Week Ahead: Sidney Gish, Patti LaBelle, Rosali, Espers, and more

Rosali
Rosali | photo by Constance Mensh | courtesy of the artist

The week starts with blues rock ripper Selwyn Birchwood out in the burbs and wraps up in South Philly with the contemplative singer-songwriting of The Afterglows. In between: classic soul, immersive psych, punk rock and more. Here are 17 concerts to see in and around Philadelphia this week.
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The Vernes return with new single “Maybe I’ll Feel Better When I’m Dead”

The Vernes
The Vernes | photo by Crosby Clouse | courtesy of the artist

Philly via San Francisco rockers The Vernes released new music this past weekend, the title track to upcoming LP Maybe I’ll Feel Better When I’m Dead. The track is a jam and a sign of good things to come from the Philly rockers, who release the full album on September 28th.

While The Vernes previously released their self-titled debut in 2017, the upcoming Maybe I’ll Feel Better When I’m Dead marks the band’s debut studio album. Instead of releasing home recordings like on that first record, the band enlisted Joe Michelini (American Trappist, River City Extension) for recording and producing the upcoming album. Continue reading →