We’ve really been enjoying the surprise reemergence of Sun Airway this year. Local musician Jon Barthmus started sharing new material from the electro-pop project in early December with “FOAM,” a kaleidoscopic sound collage that is filled with earworm melodies to latch on to. Two more singles followed, and today Barthmus’ third LP Heraldic Black Cherry gets its digital release.
It’s one of those contradictions of creativity: the intersection of desire and reality, the wanting to be the focus of attention without necessarily putting oneself out there. Philly’s Jon Barthmus has been through it a couple times, back in the aughties blogrock era with his spectacular pop band The A-Sides and more recently with the elegant electronic outfit Sun Airway, which had a couple great higher-profile moments on the Dead Oceans roster and then retreated to the shadows for a couple years.
In recent months, we’ve heard the first new music in four years from the project — its third LP, Heraldic Black Cherry, is on the way this winter / spring — and on the heels of “FOAM” and “All In,” today we’ve got the existential quandary of “Violent Grey.” Viewing that push-pull of the limelight from a different angle, Barthmus sings “I don’t want to be forgotten, I just want to be forgotten,” and if those are indeed two distinct wishes, perhaps his plan to keep Sun Airway a studio project is the best way to fulfill both. Continue reading →
Earlier this week Sun Airway welcomed the new year with a new song, taken from the forthcoming Heraldic Black Cherry LP that we expect to hear in full later this year. “All In” is the second track Jon Barthmus has shared since returning from a four year musical hiatus and features local singer-songwriter Cynthia G Mason on vocals.
Things have been quiet from Philly electropop project Sun Airway since the promo run wrapped up on their 2012 outing Soft Fall. Mastermind Jon Barthmus has been steadily tinkering away in the downtime, however, and today came to us with the first new music from the band in four years.
“FOAM,” which you can listen to below, is distinctively Sun Airway. Like the band’s best work, it’s built around Barthmus’ trademark straddling of graceful pop melodies and and expansive sound collages. But it’s also a noticeable progression; the band’s 2010 debut Nocturne of Exploded Crystal Chandelier was a supernova of sound; Soft Fall eased down the vibe and eased up the beats. This time, the focus has tightened even more — the hazy walls of psychedelic sound are further broken down and opened up. Continue reading →
As the music world mourns the passing of Phil Everly – one half of 50s vocal-pop duo The Everly Brothers – a local homage has come by way of dream poppers Sun Airway. This morning, the band posted a dreamy synthesizer and ukelele rendition of the Everlys 1960 single “When Will I Be Loved.” Frontman Jon Barthmus recorded this on his iPhone over the weekend; stream it below, and watch a vintage performance of the original on The Dick Clark Show in 1960.
Glittery pop outfit Sun Airway play Johnny Brenda’s tonight with Historics and Cruiser. On last year’s expansive sophomore release Soft Fall, Sun Airway washed their synths and vocals in the waters of some faraway cascade and dried them in the echo-y halls of a sky-high cathedral, creating an all-together other-worldly aura around the project. Tickets and information for the 21+ show can be found here. Below, watch the video for “Close” and dig deeper into Soft Fall with The Key’s Unlocked series here.
Philadelphia synth-pop group Sun Airway will dazzle the stage at Johnny Brenda’s on January 5th. The indie outfit is touring in support of their sophomore album Soft Fall, which we highlighted in The Key’s Unlocked series last month. Jon Barthmus and his crew showed a lot of growth on their second offering while staying true to the explosive, sparkling sound they developed on their 2010 debut. Tickets are $12 for the 21+ show and will go on sale this Wednesday, November 14th. Below, watch Sun Airway perform “Close” at Making Time, filmed by Bands in the Backyard.
In our interview with Jon Barthmus of Sun Airway yesterday, we talked about the band’s visual sensibility and the stunning album sleeve photographs by Tokyo art collective N-A-M. With its sophomore album Soft Fall out this week and a homecoming show happening at Voyeur tonight, the band released a making-of video showing the preparation and staging of the shoot. Here’s how Barthmus described it:
I didn’t realize when I contacted them how labor intensive it all was It was like a thirty-hour shoot ‘cause they actually hang all those wires—and they tie a leaf to a wire and hang it up, and they do that hundreds of times. And there’s a dozen people all doing this at the same time. Then they set it up and bring in the model and take the picture and that’s it. There’s no crazy computer trickery, which is kind of what I assumed it all was. What you see in the photo actually happened.
Check out the video below, and dig deeper into Fantasy and Reality – N-A-M’s series that inspired the cover – at this Huffington Post gallery, look at more of the collective’s work at its website and get information and tickets for tonight’s Sun Airway appearance at Making Time here.
Philadelphia’s Sun Airway can be a lot of things. Musical and visual stylists. Surrealist dreamers, lovelorn introverts, sonic trailblazers – often all within the same song. Their dazzling sophomore record Soft Fall was released on Dead Oceans on Tuesday, and the band is celebrating its release with a hometown show on Friday for the Making Time $2 Bill at Voyeur. We’re exploring the album this week on Unlocked, The Key’s regular spotlight on new and significant releases by Philadelphia-based artists, and today we have an interview with band leader Jon Barthmus. He and I sat down after Sun Airway played XPN’s Free at Noon concert a few weeks back and dug deep into the band’s creative palette, from collaging five full orchestras to finding the right photographs to accompany its sound.
The Key: So firstly – congrats on Soft Fall! It’s a really bold record, it has a confidence and groove to it that sets it apart from from Nocturneof Exploded Crystal Chandelier. Did you feel more confident making it?
Jon Barthmus: I definitely did. The first record was done with like no money whatsoever —really cheap microphones and very little gear, and I was learning those programs that I was using as I was going along. There was such fundamental things that I just didn’t know, like really simple things to do in programs that when I learned them I was like “Oh my God, how did I not know this? How did I make a whole record without knowing this?”
TK: “There’s this keyboard shortcut that could have just saved me hours…”
JB: Yeah, or even stuff like, “I guess you can’t do this, I guess I can’t crossfade anything.”But of course you can, and I just didn’t know! And I wasn’t really learning other than just doing stuff and trying to figure it out as I went along. So this time I got to buy better mics and got to take my time with it, actually got to do a couple days in legit studios, and had more people’s hands on it. They know what they’re doing better than I do, so that was definitely really helpful. Continue reading →
We love that they explore expansive musical tones, but Philly’s Sun Airway also has a stunning visual sensibility. As we feature their new album Soft Fall on this week’s edition of Unlocked, I’ll discuss the “look” of Sun Airway (as well as its sound) with frontman Jon Barthmus in our interview tomorrow, and on Friday we’ll dig into the surreal photography on its latest album. Today, we showcase at the music video for “Wild Palms,” filmed in the sanctuary of Philly’s First Unitarian Church. As Barthmus enters along the garden walkway, he begins to dissolve into dozens of translucent doppelgangers. They sing, sit in pews behind one another, look and interact with one another, culminating in a wide shot of a congregation of Sun Airway. Check it out below.
Soft Fall is the featured album in this edition of Unlocked; hear the spotlighted track “Close” in Monday’s post, read yesterday’s album review; and check back tomorrow for an interview with Barthmus.