Philly via San Francisco rockers The Vernes released new music this past weekend, the title track to upcoming LP Maybe I’ll Feel Better When I’m Dead. The track is a jam and a sign of good things to come from the Philly rockers, who release the full album on September 28th.
While The Vernes previously released their self-titled debut in 2017, the upcoming Maybe I’ll Feel Better When I’m Dead marks the band’s debut studio album. Instead of releasing home recordings like on that first record, the band enlisted Joe Michelini (American Trappist, River City Extension) for recording and producing the upcoming album. Continue reading →
Philly-based indie-rockers and Key favorites The Vernes release a new music video for their jangly track, “Summer’s Gone.” Producing a sunny sound capable of recreating summertime in the dead of winter, The Vernes represent it visually with montage of nostalgic and candid tour moments, captured by director Cody Kussoy. The footage comes come from the band’s summer tour in support of their self-titled debut, out last year. Continue reading →
One of the best moments in The Vernes‘ Key Studio Session this week — one that encapsulates them as a band, I think — happens at about a minute and 54 seconds into their performance of “H. Roark.”
It’s a midtempo, sorta breezy jangle-pop number, the kind The Vernes have done so well since moving to Philly from the Bay Area (following a NYC pitstop). After a buildup from gentle arpeggios to buoyant lead licks from guitarist Fabian Mera — who sways back and forth when he plays in a way that reminds me of Dr. Dog in the early days — we see singer-guitarist Matthew Gragg taking a solo when, while hitting a chord fervently, he gets the his guitar tangled in his headphone cord.
He keeps playing, the headphones get more tangled, and ultimately they topple forward, hanging off his neck until the end of the verse. We’re back in breezy midtempo territory at that point, but not really, since this sort of immersive playing from The Vernes can make even the quietest song electrifying.
Here at The Key, we love Philly music — that, I hope, is kind of evident. We love going out to see live shows, we love hearing new artists from our community for the first time, and then bringing them to you. Which is kind of the idea behind The Key’s Philly Showcase, a new series of gigs we’re partnering with MilkBoy to present.
Beginning July 26th, we’ll bring some of our favorite new discoveries from the Philly scene to the stage on the final Wednesdays of the month, kicking off with a gig headlined by asskicking hard rock outfit Resilient. Led by singer-guitarist Erin Fox, the band wowed us with their 2016 debut Imagining Things, and their tremendous live energy when we caught them onstage at an International Women’s Day benefit this spring. They’ll be joined by Honeytiger, whose Half Clean LP spanned the blues-driven minimalism of The Black Keys with infectious and poppy modern rock hooks. On the pure pop side is The Vernes, a five piece that put out their self-titled debut in March; they’ll round the bill out with breezy and wistful summertime pop jams. Continue reading →
“PHL basement pop” band The Vernes play The Pharmacy down in Point Breeze tonight. They released a dreamy pair of singles earlier this year with The Curious Cat’s Eyes, the latest in a string of tracks that will hopefully continue through this year. More information for the all-ages show can be found here. The band is also donating 100% of their Bandcamp proceeds made in February to the ACLU, so get downloading.
Spacey indie rockers The Vernes dropped new duel single The Curious Cat’s Eyes this week, musically exploring both sides of the same coin, stressing the necessity to live life.
Joe Michelini of American Trappist is a generally positive person, but that doesn’t mean he hasn’t dealt with his share of darkness. His last album, Tentanda Via, was born out of a struggle with existential dread, rejection of the religion he’d been raised in, but also a fear of a world sans faith. His latest song, the distressed rocker “Holy Moses,” came from a different kind of low where Michelini needed to work out the idea of forgiveness. Continue reading →
It’s no accident that the cover of the new American Trappist album features a young Joe Michelini smiling at the camera, a bed of mums in the background and a grim reaper sitting on a wooden chair, bone-hands on lap, a macabre grimace pointed menacingly in the boy’s direction.
Though the photograph obviously a cheery artifact of some Halloween past, it also serves as a memento mori — the millennia-old artistic and philosophical practice of reflecting on our own mortality and transience. Life plus time equals death, and for all of humanity’s varied spiritual practices and pontificating, none of us really knows what death means. And it’s terrifying.
“It’s the biggest feeling I’ve ever felt,” says Michelini as we talked about the new American Trappist album Tentanda Via at WXPN studios last week. It’s out on Friday, but you can take an exclusive first listen to below, and as our conversation unfolded, it became clear that beneath the record’s uplifting, anthemic, eclectic rock and roll, Michelini intended it as a sort of musical memento mori.
“I think there are times in my life, sorting through this, where I feel like I’m still dodging suicide at points,” he says. “I’ve started to get help after working on this record, which is great. But it can be difficult to find the right kind of help for that kind of stuff. The title of the record, though, which means ‘the way must be tried’…the idea for me was that maybe, before I wrote off existence, I would make this effort to try to live a meaningful life, to life my best life. That’s the conclusion of the record, though it hasn’t been that easy.”
The week starts with blues rock ripper Selwyn Birchwood out in the burbs and wraps up in South Philly with the contemplative singer-songwriting of The Afterglows. In between: classic soul, immersive psych, punk rock and more. Here are 17 concerts to see in and around Philadelphia this week.
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