Suite Life: Harsh Vibes on mastering the movements of their new psych opus

Harsh Vibes | Photo courtesy of the artist
Harsh Vibes | Photo courtesy of the artist

Not every album requires a significant amount of dedicated listening to find everything that’s lingering beneath its surface. And then there are others that reveal themselves in layers, a little more with every spin. But the latter doesn’t develop by chance. It’s the product of deliberate writing, tweaking and attention to sonic detail.

The latest Harsh Vibes release, You Left Me Far Behind, is exactly the that. The five-piece has stepped up its songs from being largely free-of-form jams to being some of the most detailed space explorations in Philadelphia. Guitarist and singer Chris Bergen is still the band’s primary songwriter on this two-song EP, and the songs still come from him arsenal of ideas he’s amassed over the years, but You Left Me Far Behind wasn’t recorded as improvised jams as their prior tape releases had been.

“This is the first thing that we’ve put out that’s fully pre-written material entirely,” Bergen says in the back patio of a Fishtown bar where a jazz band is settling into a groove just inside. “These are totally written ahead of time and then I was still producing stuff while we were recording so I’d add little parts here and there. I ended up doing that for a really long time. That’s why it’s so baroque or compositional. Really, it was kind of a pain in the ass.” Continue reading →


Why cassette is the perfect medium for Philly drone jammers Harsh Vibes (playing Kung Fu Necktie on 8/22)

1013980_654407297920201_1770778459_nEven though it’s been a trend for the past five years, when a band releases a cassette tape in 2013, it still feels a bit archaic, or at least novelty. But for Fishtown’s drone-psych noise explorers Harsh Vibes, who recently put out their second cassette in seven months, it’s actually the appropriate format for this dense, four-song journey into dark and shadowy places.

Two tracks from Dead Collective Soul from Dirty Pillows Records are available on Harsh Vibes’ Bandcamp page. The tape’s title suggests a recurring theme for Harsh Vibes. Their first tape, released in December 2012, Psychedelic Gin Blossoms, also clearly references the now-defunct 1990’s rock band of “Hey Jealousy” fame.

The nearly twelve-minute “Jam Forever,” sounds more structured than the title suggests. It lays down a landscape of indistinct vocals, highs climaxes with crashing cymbals, over-fuzzed guitar and low points with murmuring synths throughout. The third song on the tape, “Hidden Doors,” is a bit more conventional in that it has a clear melody. These tracks are best when examined from start to finish, taking in each psychedelic nuance, which is why the cassette format fits it so well. Because, really, no one wants to fast forward and rewind to find the start of the next track. Just let Dead Collective Soul play and don’t interrupt it.

Harsh Vibes play Kung Fu Necktie Thurs., August 22, 8 p.m., $10, w/ Survival & Sore Saints.


Tonight’s Concert Picks: Black Landlord at Union Transfer, Gladys Knight, Freddie Jackson, Harold Melvin’s Blue Notes, and The Delfonics at the Dell Music Center, and Harsh Vibes at North Star Bar

Tonight Black Landlord are headlining the All Star Beasties’ Rock N Tails benefit show for the non-profit organization Street Tails Animal Rescue. Curse of Samsara, The High Five, Goddamnit!, and Hang Up to Flat will round out the line-up for a night of . Tickets for the all-ages show are on sale for $20 here.

R&B music legends Gladys Knight, Freddie Jackson, Harold Melvin’s Blue Notes, and The Delfonics are coming together tonight at the Dell Music Center to honor the 30-year career of WDAS radio host Patty Jackson. The anniversary show starts at 7PM and tickets are on sale here for $35-$75.

Local band Harsh Vibes, along with Spotted Atrocious, are opening up for Parlor Mob at the North Star Bar tonight. Tickets for the 21+ show are available for $12 here. Listen to Harsh Vibes’ 7″, Magic Pentagram, below.


Pick up an ACLU benefit 7″ featuring Sad13, Purling Hiss, Louds, and more

Sad13 | Photo by Noah Silvestry for WXPN |

Philly and Minneapolis-based label Dirty Pillows just released a compilation featuring local artists from both of their homes. Titled ACLU Benefit Vol. 1 Phl/Mpls, the compilation is the first in a series of benefit releases that will split its tunes between two cities, and then donate the proceeds to those local community’s ACLU chapters.

This a-side of this first installment boasts Philly artists (woo we’re #1!) including Sad13, Louds, Dulls, Harsh Vibes and Purling Hiss. Making up the b-side are Minneapolis-based artists France Camp, Sasha Conda, 3M 1995, The Cult of Lip and Fog. Continue reading →


Tonight’s Concert Picks: Hiatus Kaiyote at The Trocadero, Void Vision at Kung Fu Necktie

Hiatus Kaiyote | photo by Wilk via the artist’s Facebook

Australian future-soul quartet Hiatus Kaiyote headline at The Trocadero Theatre tonight. What is future-soul? I’m not really sure, but it’s funky, and Hiatus Kaiyote has been making it since 2011 with their self-released Tawk Tomahawk. More recently, they’ve put out the Choose Your Weapon LP in 2015. Also playing tonight are Rich Medina and Grimace Federation. Get a grasp on future-soul by listening to “Molasses” below, and get you hands on tickets to the show by heading over to the XPN Concert Calendar.  Continue reading →


Philly Progress Report 2016: What’s new, what’s next in the music scene – (page 2)

The Lawsuits

Bucks county five-piece The Lawsuits cut their hair and released Moon Son, a new LP gathering all their disparate influences – pop, rock, country, soul – underneath one umbrella.

Birdie Busch

A veteran singer-songwriter of the Philadelphia folk scene, Birdie Busch returns with the subdued Thunder Bridge, a collection of songs imagined initially as a set of children’s lullabys that grew into something more.

Ben Arnold

Another scene vet, Ben Arnold draws on 20+ years of experience to make Lost Keys one of his finest outings to date.


One of the biggest success stories from 2014’s inaugural First Time’s The Charm festival was Littler, which released the hooky LP Of Wandering earlier this year and got a fair amount of buzz for their seltzer-enthusing video for “Slippery.”

Curtis Cooper

A punk rock dude with an acoustic guitar, Curtis Cooper‘s Laughing in Line is a solid introduction to this fierce and fun singer-songwriter making the rounds in the scene.

No Headliner

Charismatic rap duo No Headliner emerged in January with Lingerie & Bottles: Chaptre 1.

Them That Do

A visionary collab from Lancaster’s Phat Hentoff and Philly’s Small Professor, Them That Do is rounded out by Chuck Daly and Jasper Brown. Their self-titled debut sounds instantly classic.

Dwellers on the Threshold

Speaking of visionary, check out Dwellers on the Threshold‘s Twin Peaks-themed project Live from the Black Lodge.


After a year-long single-a-month project that we totally loved following, modern rock four-piece Sonnder puts it all out on the table with Entanglement – and a set ranging from Circa Survive-esque anthems to Explosions in the Sky soundscapes.


Introspective, emo-infused punk four-piece CLIQUE released its sophomore album Burden Piece on Topshelf in late May. It digs deep but chases a beacon of hope on the horizon.


Young and Heartless

Lancaster post-emo craftsmen Young and Heartless got postiviely spectral on their new LP for Hopeless Records, mixing pop melodies with heavy guitars – production trademarks of Conshy mastermind Will Yip.


Nick Millevoi

Call Nick Millevoi‘s Desertion LP his audition tape for Crazy Horse – or maybe just call it a searing collection of overdriven guitar jams of the highest power. Either way, give it some of your time – dude can shred.

Church Girls

Bucks County bred four-piece Church Girls made their proper LP debut with Thousand Lives – establishing Mariel Beaumont as a singer and songwriter the Philly music community should keep their sights on.

Free Cake for Every Creature

Charming New England transplants Free Cake for Every Creature released their talking quietly of anything with you LP this spring, dialing up the tone from their super lo-fi origins but still keeping the vibe homemade and honest.

Darko the Super

Carve a Happy Face on my Tombstone is the latest set of dark and quirky psychedelic comedy rap from Philadelphia’s Darko the Super.

Harsh Vibes

Tones and textures that thankfully have nothing to do with 90s bombers Candlebox, Harsh Vibes You Left Me Far Behind is the latest installment in an increasingly strong catalog. 


Before, they were beautiful-loud. Now, Philly’s Nothing is simply beautiful. Tired of Tomorrow, out on Relapse, is awash in the bright colors and optimistic melodies of the “Vertigo Flowers” video.

Chris Forsyth and the Solar Motel Band

Speaking of increasingly strong catalogs, Chris Forsyth and the Solar Motel Band released their latest set of textured guitar escapades, The Rarity of Experience, on No Quarter this March.

Mary Lattimore

Also of the soundscape universe, longtime Philly harpist Mary Lattimore released her LP At The Dam via Ghostly this spring before leaving Philly for points west.

Rosu Lup

Heartfelt rockers Rosu Lup show their fondness for Springsteen, Dylan and fellow Philadelphians The War on Drugs with their debut LP Is Anything Real.



Tonight’s Concert Picks: Eunoia (last show) at Siren Records, Belgrade at Ortlieb’s, Flightschool at Ardmore Music Hall and more…

Eunoia | Photo by John Vettese for WXPN
Eunoia | Photo by John Vettese for WXPN

Tonight’s free show at Siren Records is both a single release party and farewell show for Doylestown natives Eunoia. As posted on their Facebook page, several members of the indie rock outfit will be moving on to new projects. The group released its debut LP last summer, though the new “When the Light’s Long Gone” single marks its first truly collaborative recording. Listen to the song below and get more information for the free show here.

Continue reading →


Tonight’s Concert Picks: Delorean and City Rain at Morgan’s Pier, Douglas Thomas at The Fire, Evening River Band at Kung Fu Necktie

Photo by Nacho Vidal via

Spanish dance group Delorean plays a free show at Morgan’s Pier tonight. Last year, the group released its second album, Apar, produced in the band’s private studio in El Poblenou. The title is a Basque term that means to froth or foam. The sounds in the album, a very minimum instrumentation and vocals, has a feeling of being destroyed yet remaining strong. The band released a playlist of some of the fantastic remixes they’ve done this year, as well as a warped video for “Unhold” featuring Chairlift’s Caroline Polachek. They will be joined by Philly’s City Rain, who were featured on the Key’s Unlocked Series. Similar to Delorean, City Rain recorded its newest album High School Dance near a family shore house. Catch both bands for their free show at Morgan’s Pier. Get more details at the XPN Concert Calendar. Continue reading →


Far-Out Fangtooth set to release sophomore LP Borrowed Time 10/29, play Boot & Saddle 11/2

Photo by Justin Pittney

Somewhere between dark, psychedelic stoner rock and smoldering post-punk darkness lies Philly based band Far-Out Fangtooth. Borrowed Time, the follow up to their debut LP Pure and Disinterested, will be released on October 29th via Siltbreeze. Recorded at Cobb Studio by Adam Cobb, the LP was produced, mixed and mastered all in Philadelphia. The band will hold its record release show at Boot & Saddle on November 2nd, joined by LODRO, Harsh Vibes, Zachary Devereux and Fairbrother; tickets for the 21+ show are available here