Between songs from Danny Black‘s new solo effort and recent Firefly performers Hardwork Movement there’s a sampling of faces from many corners of the regional music community on the new Discover Local Music Spotify playlist curated by WXPN. This is the first iteration of the playlist, which features emerging acts and old favorites alike, and it will be updated and added to regularly as we spotlight the best new music from Philly, Lancaster, the Lehigh Valley, New Jersey, and Delaware.
Give Sofia Verbilla a chance to blow you away with her music. Verbilla leads Harmony Woods, a new Philly-area band whose debut Nothing Special is actually absolutely special for many reasons, least of which being that their talent is far beyond any member’s age. And people are listening; the excitement and enthusiasm around Harmony Woods right now is palpable: the Internet is aflutter with support, gigs are being booked, plans are being made, in-studio sessions are being recorded (after high school graduation parties, of course). John Vettese of WXPN/the Key writes that listeners might hear echoes of emo-revival acts like Sorority Noise and Modern Baseball or emotive songwriters like Mitski, I heard traces of groups like Rainer Maria and Seam too. However, any hype you feel or I create should not distract from the fact that Verbilla and Harmony Woods are just starting to scratch the surface of an immense imagination, flex a muscular gift for songcraft and storytelling, and put on display a compelling and energetic live show. You’re damn right it’s powerful stuff. Continue reading →
Icelandic rock royalty Sigur Ros are gracing us with their presence at the Mann Center tonight. Get swept away in their myriad of hits — whether in Icelandic or the band-created musical language of Hopelandic (like c’mon, how cool is that)– for an atmospheric, open-air performance of dynamic, otherworldly soundscapes. Find more info on tickets at the XPN Concert Calendar, and listen to “Festival,” a.k.a. one of the most beautiful songs to ever exist, below. Continue reading →
Is it an album or a collection of short stories? It’s hard to say, but Andy Shauf‘s 2016 album The Party captured the imagination of listeners last year. Lyrically, each song is a vignette of a different guest at a house party, and musically it collects lush orchestrations in the vein of Jon Brion, Elliott Smith and, naturally, The Beatles. After packing the house at Boot and Saddle in the fall, Shauf headlines Union Transfer tonight. Tickets and more information can be found at the XPN Concert Calendar. Below, watch his appearance on NPR Music’s Tiny Desk Concert series. Continue reading →
We’ve been pretty fairly hyped about Harmony Woods recently released debut album, Nothing Special, over here at The Key. We profiled the band early this week and we’ll be there at their album release party at JJ’s Diner. So it’s no surprise we’re also pretty fairly hyped about the band’s recent stop at WTSR Studios. Continue reading →
If you ask Sofia Verbilla, she’ll tell you she’s no good at onstage banter.
It gives her a not super comfortable feeling, a sentiment shared by just about any honest musician you’ll talk to. Her nerves are already frazzled enough getting up there with her guitar and performing; add in expectations for public speaking that’s witty, chill and conversational but also profesh enough to keep the show moving and remind you that, oh by the way, there’s merch in the back…it’s just daunting. Awkward. Verbilla is not the sort to toss around the word “hate,” so let’s just say the closest form of active dislike you can get.
I would argue that the frontwoman of Philadelphia basement scene favorites Harmony Woods is fantastic at banter, and here’s an illustration. It’s March, her band is playing Underground Arts for an International Women’s Day benefit; a tuning break is needed, and the slight silence that descended during the last song lingers. (Verbilla has that effect on crowds.) As bartenders dump ice buckets in the wings, she asks, “So, does anybody have any jokes?” A pause. “I know one. THE PATRIARCHY.” She blows a raspberry into the mic and gives a thumbs-down; the audience gathered round the stage laughs, and the band launches into another song.
Really, everything about it was perfect. The right thing to say for this crowd, at this event. (Or, let’s face it, in general.) The timing was spot-on. It was funny. And it got the gig from point A to point B. When it comes to banter, as with most things music-related, Verbilla is a natural. Continue reading →
It’s hard to believe that Harmony Woods hasn’t even been a going concern for a year, and yet they’re ready to make a huge impact on the Philly music community. The project of singer-guitarist Sofia Verbilla went fromknocking us out at basement shows in the fall to the announcement this spring of Nothing Special, the band’s debut long-player set for release on May 5th via Honest Face Records.
In addition to possessing a classically awesome voice that totally slays in an indie rock setting but could also slay in a pop sense given the chance, Verbilla is a gifted scene-setter and storyteller, and the attention to narrative detail all across the record reminds me a lot of Death Cab For Cutie’s The Photo Album — particularly on “Jenkintown-Wyncote,” Nothing Special‘s first single, which made its way into the world back on April 1st. Continue reading →
This International Women’s Day — Wednesday, March 8th — Underground Arts will host a benefit concert featuring Louie Louie, Queen of Jeans, Ivy Sole, Grayling, and many more. The event will benefit the new Crossroads Women’s Center, a community based self-help space. You can find a full lineup of the fifteen, possibly sixteen (wink, wink) bill below. Then, head over to XPN’s Concert Calendar for tickets and more information. Continue reading →
Things have changed a lot for Sofia Verbilla of Harmony Woods over the past six months. For starters, hair has gone from sky blue to bright red — though in either case, she’s relatively easy to spot in the crowd at a show. More important than the visual changes, however, are the sonics. Verbilla started the project last as a place to collect her contemplative acoustic songwriting — a mix of spacious guitar leads and her captivating vocals, which shake with equal parts emotion and confidence. Her early gigs were played in this unadorned fashion, either solo acoustic or solo electric, but as she performed more, she began to assemble a live band, which totally shined last month when it played the Punk Talks benefit gig at Everybody Hits. Continue reading →