Mt. Joy has quickly become a favorite among the XPN universe this year — after being featured as January’s Artist to Watch, the band released their debut album and soon returned to play NonComm and this year’s XPoNential festival. Tonight they’re back in town for a proper headlining gig, and this afternoon they treated us to a preview in the form of an energy-filled Free at Noon performance.
But if you think the up-and-coming band is getting sick of Philly by now, that’s not the case. Every visit back to the city is a homecoming for the band, whose members are originally from the area. (They draw the name Mt. Joy not from the Lancaster Co. borough, but from the mountain in Valley Forge.) And Philly’s certainly not getting sick of them, if today’s enthusiastic audience was any indication. Also, they have a song about painting a school bus green and tailgating at Eagles games, so if that doesn’t earn them Philadelphians’ love and admiration I’m not sure what would. Continue reading →
L.A.-via-Philly up-and-comers Mt. Joy played the second slot on the Marina Stage for the last day of XPN Fest, and their set was vibey and wild and enigmatic. It was all over the board in the best way. These guys are sort of chameleon rockers – each song is so different from the last, but still fits in the pocket of indie soul folk if you had to categorize their sound. Continue reading →
West Coast modern rockers Mt. Joy are best known for their easygoing tunes rooted in 70s folk and Americana. So seeing the band open their NonCOMM set bathed in deep blue and purple lights to a dramatic swell of atmospheric synthesizers and a spectral, tremolo-plucked ukulele was a minor curveball. Were we inexplicably transported to this time last year when Lo Moon brought their voluminous take on 80s keyboard gloss to the public radio masses on the very same stage?
Nah, never fear. As it turned out, Mt. Joy is still very much Mt. Joy, and as the live rendition of “Dirty Love” gave way to “Jenny Jenkins” and its various Lumineers-isms — a chanty wordless chorus, a foot-tapping beat, a plaintive vocal melody — it is clear that, to whatever extent this band embraces vibe, it’s rooted in pop first and foremost. Continue reading →
Penn’s Landing is the place to be on Thursday nights – Spruce Street Harbor Park presents local artists for a free summer concert series in its awesome waterfront space, and tonight is one not to miss. Hip hop sensation Chill Moody will perform with The Bul Bey, and it is sure to be an evening of chill and breezy summer vibes. For more information, click here. Continue reading →
On Labor Day weekend, famed Philly DJ and sound artist King Britt is getting the band back together.
Sylk 130, King’s late 90s collective that led the world all-too-briefly on an expansive funk / dance odyssey, is headlining the TLA on Sunday, September 4th for a one-time-only reunion gig…and if you didn’t know already, it’s a big freaking deal.
To get a sense of the band’s place in local and national music history, here’s a video that aired on MTV in spring of 1998, recently shared from King Britt’s Facebook page. This was in the cable music channel’s late-90s flirtation with “electronica” — Amp-era, for the old heads — and it finds MTV News anchor Kurt Loader going on a record shopping trip with King at Dance Tracks, his favorite NYC store. Continue reading →
Connecticut based alt-rock group MGMT paid a visit to the Electric Factory as part of their tour supporting their most recent, self-titled record. While many might know MGMT for its quintessentially catchy hits such as “Electric Feel” and “Kids” off their debut album, the band has developed a remarkably diversified sonic lexicon in their mere 3 records. That said, either a poor mix or the generally muddy acoustics of the Electric Factory made the electronic aspect of their music offered by keyboardist Benjamin Goldwasser tend to become lost, which is a real shame; it’s what makes their sound so unique.
MGMT opened up with “Flash Delerium”, a song off their sophomore album. It’s a song that very well recapitulates the group’s style, beginning with an 8-bit synth intro and moving into driving, psychedelic rock. They worked their way into “Time to Pretend”, during which they incorporated a bit more guitar than is present on the album, making the dynamic synth-rock track into a true rock song. During the third song, “Introspection”, a Faine Jade cover off their most recent record, frontman Andrew VanWyngarden doubled as a cameraman, carrying around a small video camera whose feed was projected onto the large backdrop, not without a fair deal of psychedelic effects, of course. While this certainly was a unique and interesting use of performance technology, the video became the focus of the song and some potential gusto was lost.
Moving back into older material, the group played “Of Moons, Birds & Monsters”, which didn’t realize its full potential until its coda; VanWyngarden’s vocals were a bit muddy for my taste, but the masterly composed synth and guitar theme towards its end sounded excellent, especially for the venue’s acoustics. Those very acoustics, however, did not bode well for the next song, “Mystery Disease”, a noise-rock chorale from the new record. That said, I thoroughly enjoyed both “Weekend Wars” and “Siberian Breaks”, which both voyage through the dissonant and elaborate melodies and sounds of the 60s and 70s; both tunes use barely any artificial instrumentation and ended up sounding beautiful.
The best performance of the evening, in my opinion, was “Electric Feel”, a song that is definitive of MGMT’s musical identity. I appreciated their willingness to replace its near hectic electronic coda with a guitar solo, once again lending well to the venue and running in conjunction with the psychedelic rock theme of the show. For encores, they offered “The Handshake” and “Congratulations”, two songs with a slower pace that ended up leaving them somewhat unremarkable.
I cannot say much about MGMT’s opener, Kuroma; their upbeat rock style fell prey to the venue’s sound, though I give them credit for bringing energy and enthusiasm. MGMT’s performance at the Electric Factory could have been better; songs like “Cool Song No. 2” and “Your Life is a Lie” that shine on their most recent record ended up sounding busy and lacked clarity. While there was no lack of energy and spirit, the band could have done a better job engaging the crowd. That said, fans were definitely enjoying themselves, and after all, the point of a concert is to have fun, isn’t it?
The rapper/spoken word artist Dessa (of midwest collective Doomtree) will be performing at Sellersville Theater tonight with Philly hip-hop artist Kuf Knotz. Dessa is celebrating her newest album Parts of Speech, released on Doomtree Records. For more information on Dessa, check out a piece from The Key here. Alongside Dessa will be Philly native hip-hop artist Kuf Knotz, who blends elements of blues, rock, and other genres with his hip-hip. Tickets and information for the all ages show can be found here. Below, watch Dessa perform “The Man I Knew” for MN Original.
Best Coast and Wavves: two lo-fi, beach-party-revival rock bands whose upbeat vibes would would be the perfect antidote to this dreary winter weather—if only said weather didn’t threaten the likelihood of tonight’s show occurring in the first place. Thankfully, according to R5 Productions Twitter, the show is “100% happening,” despite whatever new threats of inclement weather Old Man Winter is throwing at Philadelphia tonight. On the off chance that the show does get canceled at the last minute, however, you’ve got plenty of opportunities to get your Best Coast fix online, including audio of last night’s performance at 9:30 Club in Washington, D.C. (from NPR), Best Coast’s live appearance on World Cafe at the WXPN studio (from back in October), or this video of Best Coast’s performance on Letterman last night (originally posted by theaudioperv):
Best Coast performs with Wavves and No Joy at 7:30 p.m. at Starlight Ballroom; tickets to the all-ages show are $15-$17.
It’s easy to imagine Mt. St. Helens Vietnam Band sitting around the living room and having a serious band talk after a particularly rough practice. After all, tensions rise in any band sooner or later, at which point a little cooling off and airing of grievances is probably a good idea for everyone involved. But this Seattle quartet is a special case: It’s an almost-all-in-the-family band composed of guitarist Benjamin Verdoes, his wife, keyboardist Traci Eggleston, and Verdoes’ adopted little brother, 15-year-old drummer Marshall. (Oh, right, we said quartet: pity poor bassist Jared Price, the only one who isn’t part of the family—and who has probably had to play peacemaker on more than one occasion.) We’re sure all is fine and dandy in the Verdoes/Eggleston household, but there’s something about the band’s latest album—Where The Messengers Meet (released last month on Dead Oceans)—that troubles us. Maybe it’s the gloomy line in the press release that states, “The recording of Where The Messengers Meet was a patient process, conducted over eight months, in part during Seattle’s darkest and rainiest time of year.” Or perhaps it’s just that, compared to the band’s poppy, 2009 self-titled debut, Messengers seems like kind of a joyless (but no less accomplished) affair. Here’s to hoping there are no family spats on stage when Mt. St. Helens Vietnam Band opens for The Boxer Rebellion and Amusement Parks On Fire at 8:30 p.m. at Johnny Brenda’s; tickets to the 21+ show are $10-$12.
Every month, noted song expert K. Ross Hoffman presents Now Hear This, a sampling of fresh specimens for your consideration.
This past Saturday was my 36th birthday, and, as it happens, this is my 36th Now Hear This column.(I’ve been secretly keeping track: the first fifteen installments ran weekly over at Philly Voice during the fall of 2016; the monthly columns for The Key started in February 2017).Thirty-six feels like a significant year – more so than 35 in many ways (especially considering what’s been happening to the institution of the presidency).It’s divisible by more numbers, even if five isn’t one of them.As one friend pointed out, it means I’m now old enough to vote twice!And, more notably, it means that I’ve been a quote-unquote “adult” for fully half of my life; that the time since I left my parents’ house now equals the time that I lived there.
So it’s afforded a nice opportunity to reflect back on the time around my 18th year – an age perhaps less overtly mythologized in song than sixteen or seventeen, but probably even more transformative in real (contemporary) life – which in my case was also the era of Y2K.I’d reckon that nobody felt the cultural and historical shift from the 20th to the 21st century, from the 1990s to the still-nameless-after-all-these-years 2000s, more acutely than those of us for whom it paralleled the end of high school and the start of what-comes-next; i.e. me and my fellow circa-1982 babies: the oldest, truest millennials.Conveniently, just two days before my birthday, September Now Hear This boy-toy Troye Sivan joined up with plasticwave popgenius (and certified ‘90s bitch) Charli XCX to drop a video memorializing and celebrating the pop culture of that period – specifically 1999, although the references span roughly 1997-2000 – when, as many have mentioned, its creators were still in single digits, if not diapers.It represents exactly, and in exquisitely realized detail, the “borrowed nostalgia for the unremembered (late) ‘90s” that I have been ambivalently anticipating for quite some time now.