Phosphorescent‘s performance proved that power doesn’t have to equal volume. He walked nonchalantly out onto World Cafe Live’s downstairs stage, just a man and his acoustic guitar — and a colorful hat prompting compliments from the crowd.
Opening with “C’est La Vie No. 2” off his latest album C’est La Vie, Matthew Houck’s vocals were gruff yet beautiful. His delicate strumming paired perfectly with his soft lyrics, even though he self-admittedly had not played the acoustic guitar on stage in nearly two decades. I certainly wouldn’t have noticed. Continue reading →
Merriam Webster dictionary defines phosphorescence as “luminescence that is caused by the absorption of radiations (such as light or electrons) and continues for a noticeable time after these radiations have stopped.” Minus the more science-y parts of that, one can only assume that Phosphorescent is going for a similar vibe with their music. Though the hazy glow that envelops the band during their live set is technically thanks to the lighting crew, their soft and airy songs are lush and drawn-out, winding on and on in a way that breathes life into their mouthful of a name. Continue reading →
We’re in the year-end wind-down zone, but that doesn’t mean you should plan on spending the next week huddling up at home and binge watching Schitt’s Creek (though that wouldn’t be a terrible idea in moderation). We’ve flagged a several shows that are totally worth your attention, beginning tomorrow night with rock legend Ronnie Spector in Bethlehem, and carrying through Sunday when Bouncing Souls take on The Queen in Wilmington. Here are 12 concerts you can see in the next seven days all around Philadelphia. Continue reading →
Singer-songwriter Matthew Houck will release its seventh studio album as Phosphorescent this Friday via Dead Oceans Records. Having already shared the joyous “New Birth In New England” and the contemplative “Christmas Down Under,” the band released its latest teaser of the album today. The quasi title track “C’est La Vie” is a trembling pulsar free of drums and guitars and anything except a resonating synthesizer (its tones sound not unlike Enya’s “Orinoco Flow (Sail Away)”) and Houck’s tender voice, which contemplates life and fate, and the idea that whatever will be will be. Continue reading →
Earlier this week, Phosphorescent, revealed the latest single from their hotly anticipated upcoming album C’est La Vie, due out October 5th on Dead Oceans. C’est La Vie captures the period of frontman Matthew Houck’s life in which he started a family and returned home to Nashville to raise his kids. Parenthood, and finding balance between being an artist and a dad, is the core theme of this album.
“Christmas Down Under,” is a smoldering six-minute track that sinks with every step beneath a heavy, downtempo beat. Twanging, beachy guitar riffs summon visions of the Gold Coast at sunset. The song encapsulates a feeling of displacement, Houck subdued and morose as he sings, “Find me under the lights of the tiki bar / Hey it’s christmas down under.” Continue reading →
Singer and songwriter Matthew Houck has been somewhat off the grid for the past four or so years, ever since the release and extensive touring of his musical project Phosphorescent‘s sixth LP Muchacho. That silence ends today with “New Birth In New England,” a song reflective of what’s been going on in his life during that time period — finding love, having children, and leaving New York City.
The sunny, upbeat tune with a bit of an Afropop flare is the lead single from Phosphorescent’s seventh LP, C’est La Vie, due out on October 5th via Dead Oceans Records. Continue reading →
A highly anticipated collection of covers of Grateful Dead songs, Day Of The Dead, is being released on May 20th. Curated by Aaron and Bryce Dessner of The National, the all-star collection features 59 songs, with contributions by The Lone Bellow, Jim James, Wilco, the Flaming Lips, Mumford and Sons, Kurt Vile, Lucius, Lucinda Williams, Bela Fleck and many others. Continue reading →
New York rock and roll trio Heaven’s Jail, recently featured as a World Cafe: Next are releasing a new album, Ace Called Zero, on August 26th. The album was was produced by Matthew Houck – AKA Phosphorescent. Houck says about the band:
“I had heard some of these songs in-progress at Heaven’s Jail shows,” says Houck, “and I wanted to be involved with the record that they were going to make. Francesco is my favorite kind of songwriter: sensitive but not sappy, smart but not precious. He has the ability to casually sneak complex imagery and metaphor into a deceptively simple package. It’s just great songwriting. Simple as that.”
Along with that great songwriting comes inspired playing and singing. There’s no pretension here; just straight forward rock and roll storytelling with a slight country fried sensibility. Fronted by singer and guitarist Francesco Ferorelli, the band includes James Preston on bass/harmonies, and Ethan Schmid on drums. With a sound that draws on the spirits of Lou Reed and Warren Zevon, Heaven’s Jail often sounds like a spirited clash between Drive By Truckers and Velvet Underground.
The 3rd annual Firefly Music Festival is taking place this weekend at Dover, Delaware and we are there to capture all four days of live music. Last night, the festival opened with performances from Amos Lee, Local Natives, Courtney Barnett, Phosphorescent, Parade of Lights and more.
It’s quite the contrast when, on a grey, snowy Sunday evening, a golden man with a golden guitar and a golden voice takes the stage (outfitted with touches of gold, of course) to play some of his sunny musical gold.
This man, no wonder, is Mathew Houck, or Phosphorescent (dictionary definition: emitting light without appreciable heat), as you may know him. Despite having broken his guitar just before the show, Houck radiated his way onstage, “Sun, Arise! (An Invocation, An Introduction)” slithering its way between the numerous candles scattered about before anyone picked up any actual instruments. “I’m going for a balance between Buddy Holly and Green Day;” joked Houck, “It’s the first thing they teach you in guitar school.” It seemed to me that Phosphorescent is less the intersection of a rock and roll pioneer and punk rock poster boys, but bare bones alt-country music cloaked in water color ambiance and candle smoke warmth.
The evening prominently featured tracks from Phosphorescent’s 2013 release, Muchacho, including a distilled “The Quotidien Beasts” and an earnest solo rendition of “Muchacho’s Tune.” (Note: the lyrics “I’ve been fucked up, and I’ve been a fool” rather ironically harkened back to an earlier remark, “I’m a broken man with a broken guitar”, regarding his instrument mishap, a nice emotional touch to make the night just that much warmer). Of course, the back-to-back double threat that is “Song for Zula” followed by “Ride On / Right On” were surefire crowd pleasers.
As the wicks of those candles burned on, Houck’s band left the stage, allowing him to show off some of those denuded folk/country songs that lay at the heart of his music. I’m a sucker for “Can I Sleep In Your Arms”, Houck’s cover of Willie Nelson’s cover of Hank Cochran’s country classic, but his extended vocal loop pedal version of “Wolves” was, at the very least, unique, and rocked the crowd into a fluorescent trance.
Joining Phosphorescent were New York alt-rockers Caveman, who took a little while to get the crowd engaged, but once their music finally percolated, fans seemed invested in their percussive, syncopated style. Frontman Matthew Iwanusa did a good job of keeping a shivering audience attentive, though I’ll admit that some of his ventures into more comedic banter were less than amazing.
Muchacho is much more than a very critically venerated record by a guy who writes great songs; Houck and company have clearly mastered the substantiation of their latest album, and Phosphorescent’s live music has a lot more dimension than you get with, say, candles and incense (though candles and incense certainly had their role).
It’s music that shimmers with a golden gleam and wraps you in so much warmth that you practically forget just how cold it is outside.