By

The Wonder Years played two packed houses at The Fillmore Philly with Tigers Jaw, Tiny Moving Parts and Worriers

The Wonder Years | photo by Ashley Gellman for WXPN | agellmanphotos.com

Last weekend, Philly modern rock heroes The Wonder Years brought their tremendous new record Sister Cities home for two nights and two packed houses at The Fillmore Philadelphia. Joining them on the bill were Scranton indie pop band Tigers Jaw, as well as punk outfits Tiny Moving Parts and Worriers. Check out photos from the tremendous lineup below, care of Ashley Gellman.
Continue reading →

By

Just Announced: Frances Quinlan will play solo at Boot & Saddle benefit show

Hop Along’s Frances Quinlan | photo by Ashley Gellman for WXPN | agellmanphotos.com

Hop Along’s Frances Quinlan has never shied away from tackling heavy, political, or otherwise complicated subject matter in her songs, so it makes sense that she would extend her activism onstage. On July 8, Quinlan will take a quick break from Hop Along’s busy touring schedule to play solo at Boot & Saddle for a show benefiting the Campaign to Shut Down Berks. Continue reading →

By

King Britt will relaunch collab label The Buddy System

King Britt | photo by Ashley Gellman for WXPN | agellmanphotos.com
King Britt | photo by Ashley Gellman for WXPN | agellmanphotos.com

Legendary Philadelphia electronic artist, DJ and producer King Britt is known for his various artistic efforts around town, but the local visionary’s latest endeavor is actually an older project. Back in 2014, Britt started a record label called The Buddy System, which released monthly collaborative EPs — the twist being that the collaborators remained anonymous. Their names were revealed with each following release, surrounding the project with an air of mystery and anticipation. Continue reading →

By

Major Pursuit strikes a balance in sound and emotion on new With Feeling LP

Major Pursuit | photo by Ashley Gellman

The last thing many musicians would want to be is predictable. But for Philadelphia’s Major Pursuit, that’s never really been an issue. Since the project began several years back as Olivia Bellito’s solo endeavor it’s evolved steadily and naturally, all the while avoiding falling into a routine.

On previous recordings, Major Pursuit’s sound was sparse, but as they played more shows, a full band formed and their sound grew into the kind that can fill a room (or basement) with ease. With Feeling, the project’s second full-length, is the first to translate that sound onto record. The album is now out in full, just a few days after the band shared its opening track “When It’s Convenient for You.” We’ve also previously heard lead single “Rough,” which comes in the middle of the record as one of its most dynamic moments. Continue reading →

By

The Key Studio Sessions: The Wonder Years

photos by Ashley Gellman for WXPN | agellmanphotos.com

It should be no surprise that the word “connection” comes up a lot when talking about The Wonder Years‘ sixth album, Sister Cities.

For one thing, it’s the primary theme that singer and lyricist Dan Campbell wanted to explore this time around — the idea of coming together, while also being further apart than ever before, both geographically and philosophically. The idea of finding common ground between humans divided by cities and continents, by the distance between Kyoto, Japan and Santiago, Chile and Cheyenne, Wyoming and their hometown of Philadelphia. There are Wonder Years fans in all of those places, and by superficial traits, they could not be any more different, but get them in front of a stage and they’ll be equally passionate about screaming along to “Dismantling Summer” or “Coffee Eyes” or “Came Out Swinging” or “Logan Circle.”

That’s the other reason why connection is an enduring theme of The Wonder Years. There’s a distinct feeling, being in the crowd at one of their gigs, an electricity in the air as the lights dim low and the bandmates step to the stage — Mike Kennedy on drums, Josh Martin on bass, Casey Cavaliere on lead guitar, multi-instrumentalist Nick Steinborn, rhythm guitarist Matt Brasch, and Campbell taking the lead vocal mic. The endorphin rush is palpable, the physical rush is sometimes treacherous as the audience surges forward to create as little distance as possible between them and the band. They want to lock eyes and grip hands, they want to share the moment with one another and with the band. To say The Wonder Years have a connection with their fans is an understatement.

And there’s also their connection with one another. Of the band’s six members, five have been in the lineup since first getting together in 2005 in the suburbs of Lansdale; Steinborn is the closest thing to a “new kid,” and he’s been on board since 2009. The band toured its last record, 2015’s No Closer to Heaven, for a solid two years of international dates. Those travels inspired much of the music on the new record, but when they concluded, the band fanned out to their separate lives. These fixtures of the punk community are no longer banging on in a South Philly basement every night; they’ve moved to different places in the greater Philadelphia orbit, many have wives or long-term partners, and the time they get together as a band is increasingly rare and precious. But when it happens, that connection is such a strong one that there’s no warm-up period — they go all in from the start.

That’s exactly what we saw this March when The Wonder Years set up shop in WXPN studios to record a live set for The Key Studio Sessions. Continue reading →

By

Hop Along powers through a sold-out homecoming gig at Union Transfer

Hop Along | photo by Ashley Gellman for WXPN | agellmanphotos.com

Frances Quinlan sings like someone who loves singing. That’s not only to say that she has a clear talent for it, but also that her inflections are often adapted throughout Hop Along‘s performances — ever-changing, evolving, so songs always sound fresh and vibrant. At the band’s sold out headlining show at Union Transfer this Saturday night, in celebration of their new album Bark Your Head Off, Dog, hushed words became screaming anthems, better suited for live performance but also providing texture over the harmonies provided by Thin Lips’ Chrissy Tashjian. In addition to the band, the show featured low-hanging lights casting a moody glow on the stage, as well as guest appearances from the Philly band’s peers and friends (Kyle Pulley on tambourine, Cat Park on vocals), and a newly-brewed Hop Along IPA from nearby Love City Brewing on tap at the bar.  Continue reading →

By

Listen to Major Pursuit’s contemplative album opener “When It’s Convenient For You”

Major Pursuit | photo by Ashley Gellman

“Did you cry when your mom got sick / or were you numb by then?”

So opens “When It’s Convenient for You,” the latest single from Philly / Nazareth band Major Pursuit, the project of singer-songwriter Olivia Bellito. The contemplative four-minute burner doubles as an atmospheric lead-in to their latest record, With Feeling, and from the outset, it does not skimp on the feels, moving from addressing trauma and emotional distance to the ways that can affect friendship and companionship.  “I thought you were what I needed,” Bellito sings later, “but I was wrong.”  Continue reading →

By

NonCOMM Recap: Editors use sheer energy to keep the crowd on its feet in the final stretch

Editors | photo by Ashley Gellman for WXPN | agellmanphotos.com

By day four of NonCOMM, it’s not surprising that some of the crowd was beginning to feel a little weary. Some were already on planes or trains, heading back to their everyday lives, but plenty others stuck around, coffees and/or beers in hand, to catch the final two acts of this year’s convention.

After a perfect warmup set by Belly, British rockers Editors had the honor of closing out the party on the NPR Music stage. And party they did. Before the band came onstage, I overheard someone behind me in the audience say “Are you ready to rock?” I thought to myself, “Haven’t we been rocking all week?” But Editors, with their charismatic charm and songs that filled the room to the brim, seemed to almost redefine what it means to rock. Continue reading →

By

NonCOMM Recap: Brandi Carlile makes Free at Noon a family affair

Brandi Carlile | photo by Ashley Gellman for WXPN | agellmanphotos.com

Family, home, love, and forgiveness. These are the virtues interwoven in every powerful note of Brandi Carlile‘s music.

“I feel like it’s important to talk about my family in any format I can,” shared a beaming Carlile midway through her packed Free At Noon performance. Already having left the audience in awe after opening acapella-style with “The Eye” aside integral members, Phil and Tim Hanseroth, as well as shattering hatred with the shining 2018 powerhouse anthem, “The Joke,” — which ushered in a string section and backing band — Carlile took the time to acknowledge her love for her wife of almost six years, Catherine Shepherd, her four-year old daughter, Evangeline, and her new eight-week old daughter, Elijah. Continue reading →

By

NonCOMM Recap: Jade Bird delivers sassy Free at Noon performance

Jade Bird | photo by Ashley Gellman for WXPN | agellmanphotos.com

British acoustic queen and Glassnote artist Jade Bird stopped by World Cafe Live this afternoon to play some songs from her powerhouse catalog. She is slight and unassuming, but the moment she starts speaking with that bright lilting voice and absolutely tears into her guitar, you know you’re in for something special. She has undeniable roots in country, but there’s something more, something almost unplaceable that makes her special. She is uniquely herself, and she isn’t afraid to show it. Continue reading →