Andrew Mars likes to keep busy. After debuting his emotive, atmospheric songwriting project Settled Arrows with 2015’s Public Privacy — an album that finds moving beauty in personal tragedy, the loss of friends and the death of loved ones — Mars existed in that body of work for a year. He released Unsend, a stripped-down solo-piano revisit of the album recorded in one take. He released two live collections, one of Public Privacy performed before a studio audience at South Philly’s Buckeye Recording, and one a collection of covers from the same gig, rooted in his then day job at a piano bar. He even took part in an ambitious production with BalletX last fall, writing operatic lyrics for a production of Sunset, 0639 Hours at the Wilma Theater.
At the time, his next body of work was poised to be more surreal and abstract — and we definitely hear sonically free-form moments on INNOCENCE//The Fall of the Fool, the latest Settled Arrows album, released last Friday on Bandcamp. But topically, we find Mars responding to world events: a tense and uneasy climate both politically and socially, a litany of men behaving badly and a public demanding accountability, an uneasy undercurrent of aggression. On one level, the album is a takedown of toxic masculinity, but it also sees toxic masculinity as one component of much more deeply-seated societal ills. I caught up with Mars this week to chat on the phone about all of these things, as well as the current four-piece configuration of Settled Arrows that will perform live at Ortlieb’s tomorrow night.
Local favorite Jesse Hale Moore is taking over the upstairs stage at Northern Liberties’ Bourbon & Branch for a three-week residency packed with friends in the supporting slots. Beginning Thursday, March 2nd and running through March 16th, the keyboardist will welcome special appearances by Koof & Vessna, Heart Harbor, Lizdelise and more while (hopefully!) previewing his long-awaited debut LP.
Los Angeles by way of Philly producer MAST will perform an intimate DJ set at Silk City tonight with Grimace Federation. His latest, Love and War_, is an eclectic seventeen track set with numerous features. It was released this past October. Check out the Fresh Cut Orchestra featuring “She’s Chasing The Dragon” below. Then, head over to XPN’s Concert Calendar for tickets and more information. Continue reading →
If you recall from our interview with Andrew Mars of Settled Arrows, he had two versions of his debut solo album fighting for space in his head – one that was a more traditional recording experience and one that captured the atmosphere and dynamics of life and music in a piano bar. Saturday, February 24th marked the second recording of Settled Arrows’ Public Privacy, this time in front of a live audience at Buckeye Recording Studio.
After playing through the album, banter and audience chatter included, Mars settled into a set of covers that was also recorded and is now available for free on his Bandcamp as Taking Hits. He dips into some standards, a classic Elton John song, a Madonna, Kelis and Lady Gaga medley, a rousing “Werewolves of London” and more. Check it out below and stay tuned for the live Public Privacy release.
Local hip hop artist The Bul Bey performs at Kung Fu Necktie tonight. It’s been about a year since the West Philly native released his latest LP Shaking Hands and Kissing Babies, but we got another nugget of Amir Richardson’s talent on producer Rolled Gold’s debut effort earlier this week. Check 2014’s “Where I’m From” below and pick up tickets for tonight’s 21+ show here.
When Andrew Mars went into his grandparents’ basement to record during the winter of 2015, it was an act of catharsis.
The Philadelphia singer, songwriter and composer had been going through a rough patch in his life; a long-term relationship was ending, loved ones were dying. And he turned to something that had always been there as a source of comfort: music.
The wonderful thing about Public Privacy, the resulting album under his stage name Settled Arrows, is that it doesn’t wallow in grief-driven melancholia like so many records born out of similar circumstances. It’s got feeling, no doubt, but it’s nuanced, delicate, poetic – and quite beautiful.
Mars’ prior work had veered more in an experimental songwriting direction; this album, decidedly, was his more pop-oriented affair, though pop as filtered through an artful prism. Moments on the record recall songwriters like Scott Walker, John Grant and last year’s Mercury Prize winner Benjamin Clementine – artists who begin from a more traditional starting point and then re-imagine the possibilities of where it can lead them. Continue reading →
Settled Arrows headlines Bourbon & Branch tonight. Leighton, PA native Andrew Mars began recording under the moniker just last year, making his debut with Public Privacy. He’s no stranger to performing live, though; now living in Philadelphia, Mars has appeared on stage with BalletX, Pig Iron Theatre, and sometimes plays piano at Tavern on Camac. His experienced showmanship shines through on the record, while the lyrics could have been ripped straight from a diary. Listen to “Jimmy Desert” below and pick up tickets to the 21+ show here.
Philly songwriter Joey Sweeney and his band The Neon Grease lead the lineup at Jojo’s Holiday Variety Show tonight at the Maas Building. The pay-what-you-will event benefits Rock to the Future and is also a release party for Sweeney’s new holiday EP, Smilin’ Through. The event will also feature some other musical acts, including Beat Jams, Hi Soft, Settled Arrows and the Birdsall Band, plus comedy from Doogie Horner and Jaime Fountaine. Listen to Sweeney original song “Don’t Kill Yourself This Christmas,” off the new EP, below and find more information on tonight’s show here. Continue reading →
Slowdive, a perenniel 90s shoegaze favorite, is back on tour after releasing their first album in 22 years. The band hits the Union Transfer stage to show off their spaced out dreampop sound, which is still solid after their long hiatus. Listen to the self-titled new record below and get tickets and more information on the show at the XPN Concert Calendar. Continue reading →