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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Ecstatic Vision at the First Unitarian Church, Resilient at Tralfamadore

ecstatic vision
Ecstatic Vision | photo via facebook.com/ecstaticvision

Ecstatic Vision, riding high after the release of their latest Raw Rock Fury LP, play the First Unitarian Church tonight. The local psych-rock outfit spoke with The Key’s Brian Wilensky about their “blistering” new effort earlier this week, highlighting the songs’ party rock vibes that are carried over from the live shows. Tickets and information for the all-ages show can be found here. Listen to Raw Rock Fury single “You Got It (Or You Don’t)” below.

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Philly’s Ecstatic Vision on making the blistering psychedelic get down of Raw Rock Fury

Ecstatic Vision | via facebook.com/ecstaticvision

Boxes of new t-shirts have arrived, and each member of Ecstatic Vision is checking them out for the first time. They’re unpacking them while Spacemen 3’s “Walkin’ with Jesus” is sound checked from the stage just opposite the room at Underground Arts last month. There are two versions of the shirts, each features the band in a fiery red silhouette, emblazoned with “Raw Rock Fury” to go along with their new album of the same name. And the hard-hitting four-piece would bring exactly that to the stage later that night.

Raw Rock Fury is a scorcher that burns hot and leaves a nothing in its path. It’s undeniably deliberate and a product of the way Ecstatic Vision evolved from their 2015 album, Sonic Praise, which was written predominantly by guitarist and singer, Doug Sabolik, prior to the band’s current lineup being fully formed. Sabolik says he was listening to a lot of African music at the time that inspired the album’s expansive space and looping rhythms underneath his heavy and whirling psych riffs. After saxophonist / guitarist Kevin Nickles sat in with Sabolik, drummer Jordan Crouse and bassist Michael Field Connor enough times following the release of Sonic Praise, they realized their lineup had been solidified and Nickles became a permanent member.

As the band continued writing more material they gradually steered away from the looping rhythms of their origins and veered into what Crouse describes as party rock. However, he and Sabolik assure there’s a bit of a concept to the album that begs a specific question: What is raw rock fury?

“The first [album] had all this tribal stuff and we kind of changed after that,” Sabolik says while venue staff hurry about preparing the bars and floor space before show time. “And then this whole idea of ‘raw rock fury’ came. What is that? So, then we kind of tailored the material around what we thought that would be at the time.” Continue reading →

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Get hyped for Ecstatic Vision’s Underground Arts show with the immersive “Electric Step”

Ecstatic Vision | courtesy of the artist | photo by Michael Connor
Ecstatic Vision | courtesy of the artist | photo by Michael Connor

Ecstatic Vision is #MakingPhillyPsychAgain one tune at a time, releasing the second track from their newest record Raw Rock Fury, “Electric Step.”

The 9-plus minutes gives us more lo-fi psych-jam goodness, as the band’s classic growling vocals overtake the growing anxiety of each six-string swipe, cumulating into a final tremolo face-melter that is only made better by the out-of-nowhere saxophone. It’s everything a psych track needs (and more).

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Fleetwood Mac begins an ecstatic new chapter at Wells Fargo Center

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Fleetwood Mac | Photo by Rachel Barrish | rachelbarrish.com

Fleetwood Mac is a band that continues to grow through the good and bad times,” Lindsey Buckingham told the sold-out Wells Fargo Center crowd on Wednesday night. “Especially in the moment when Christine returned. I can say we have begun a beautiful, poetic and profound chapter.”

It certainly was a nostalgic evening as the legendary rock outfit – reunited with Christine McVie for the first time in 16 years – ripped through hits from their top-selling albums including Fleetwood Mac (1975), Rumours (1977) Tusk (1979) and more. Continue reading →

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Marsha Ambrosius continues her ecstatic personal exploration on Friends & Lovers

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Album art for Friends & Lovers

If an artist’s credentials are supposed to speak for themselves, then few musicians working today have a louder imprint than Marsha Ambrosius. The British-born, Philadelphia-based singer-songwriter is probably best known for her deeply sensual and evocative work as one half of Floetry, the duo whose early-2000s blend of RnB- and hip-hop/spoken word aesthetics made them (and this city) synonymous with neo-soul’s golden age. For those who chose to pay attention, however, the 36-year-old chanteuse has continued to supersede expectations and quietly architect some of the best pop and soul music of the past 15 years; her virtuoso vocals and keen ear for soundscapes and hooks are featured on superstar tracks like Justin Timberlake’s “Cry Me a River” and Michael Jackson’s “Butterflies”, as well as deeper cuts from Alicia Keys, Kelis, and Jazmine Sullivan.

To be sure, “those in the know” are a pretty big group – her 2011 solo debut, Late Nights and Early Mornings, opened at number 2 on the Billboard 200 and sold almost 100,000 copies in its first week. Propelled by big-name production and co-writing from folks as varied as Keys, Just Blaze, and the ever-enigmatic Lauryn Hill, Late Nights mined the depths of Ambrosius’s fiery passion on songs that quietly overtook the RnB charts.

On Friends & Lovers (RCA), which drops today after prolonged record label troubles, Ambrosius builds off of the first album’s themes to deliver something laced with both continuity and explosive uniqueness. This may be Ambrosius’s finest work since her Floetry days, as well as the most complete manifestation of this pop veteran’s creative mission yet.

Ambrosius’s musical genius is based in a mix of her immense talent and lyrical frankness. Seeds planted while she was in Floetry have come to fruition on her solo records, both of whose titles point towards the kinds of experiences that have influenced most of her work. But whereas Late Nights was a bit scattered, a compendium of amazing songs that worked best in isolation, Friends & Lovers is conceptual and inextricable from its whole. Continue reading →

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Strand of Oaks at Union Transfer, Valerie June at The Trocadero, Creepoid at Underground Arts, and more

strand of oaks
Strand of Oaks | photo by Joe del Tufo | www.moonloopphoto.com

After taking over our airwaves for our Free at Noon concert, Strand of Oaks heads to Union Transfer for a headliner with Twin Limb. These Philly rockers just released their full-length banger Hard Love, so head out for some manic, high energy tunes. The show is all ages, and more information can be found on the XPN Concert Calendar. Continue reading →

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Listening to a Dementor: Spirit of the Beehive on channeling the emotional spectrum for Pleasure Suck

Spirit of the Beehive | photo courtesy of the artist
Spirit of the Beehive | photo by Emily Burtner | courtesy of the artist

Pat Conaboy, drummer of Spirit of the Beehive, stands his bed, which is just a mattress, up against the wall of his bedroom so that the rest of the band can fit their amps, a synth and other gear for practices. The room is densely filled — stepping on cables strewn about the floor is unavoidable. Upon entering, each member of the band is laughing as if they’re old friends just hanging out, beers already in hand. But not long before that cymbals stopped ringing and the amps are now being turned off as practice is being wrapped up. Continue reading →

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The Key Studio Sessions: Creepoid

After eight years, two moves, three lineup reconfigurations and incalculable miles logged on their various tour vans — an incalculable number of tour vans, perhaps — Philadelphia psychedelic punks Creepoid have come full circle.

The four childhood friends who founded the band in the winter of 2009 are the same four adults who rage in the band today. On bass and vocals, Anna Troxell; on guitar and vocals, Sean Miller; on lead guitar, PeteJoe Urban; on drums, Pat Troxell. Their sound has gone from tense-but-subdued (2010’s Yellow Life Giver) to loud (2011’s Horse Heaven, 2014’s Creepoid) to very very loud (2015’s Cemetery Highrise Slum) and back to a dynamic state that embraces moments decidedly subdued — something we hear in this week’s Key Studio Session.

Yes, the amplifiers are cranked — crushingly so, and used brilliantly to sculpt sound in breathtaking ways. “I’m Only,” the first of two new tracks the band debuted in their performance this week, is one of their hardest-hitting songs to date — it hammers right out the gate as syncopated beats, staccato chords and howling string bends pummel their way into a languid and drifting verse. Next to Bardo Pond, Creepoid probably possesses the best understanding of volume and vibe out of anybody we’ve recorded in this series. Continue reading →