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The Essential Love Songs of Philadelphia: “South America” by Thin Lips

Thin Lips
Thin Lips | photo by John Vettese for WXPN

Every day leading up to Valentine’s Day this year, The Key is recapping 14 songs that scream “love” just as strongly as they scream “Philly.” The Essential Love Songs of Philadelphia continues with “South America” from Thin Lips’ 2018 album Chosen Family.

“There’s nothing dense about it,” said singer-guitarist Chrissy Tashjian during Thin Lips‘ 2018 Audiotree session, after the band performed the song “South America.” “It’s just the truth.”

On the one hand, Tashjian is correct — the two-minute, fifty-four-second punk jammer is a barrage of feelings screamed in catharsis from the depths of a West Philly basement. It’s a very literal and direct accounting of emotions felt in the aftermath of love. It’s uncomplicated: a breakup song, pretty much. But it’s not a resentful one, nor is it a self-pitying one. Rather, “South America” is the rare look back at love gone wrong, presented with utter clarity. It’s a breakup song where the person doing the reflecting owns up to their own faults, as well as the flaws in compatibility that combine with those faults to stop a long-running love affair dead in its tracks.

And then, that person’s ex goes to South America. With a woman that they only met last month. WTF.

At gigs, Tashjin says she doesn’t really feel the need to introduce the song — anything that could be said about it is said within the song itself. But it’s in that raw honesty, that vulnerability, that Thin Lips is able to arrive at something profound. Continue reading →

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Party Rockers: Listen to Chrissy Tashjian of Thin Lips and Grace Vonderkuhn guest DJ on XPN Local

Thin Lips | photo by Senia Lopez | senialopez.photography // Grace Vonderkhun | photo courtesy of the artist

This Saturday night, Chrissy Tashjian of Thin Lips turns 34, and she’s eager to celebrate by sharing a hometown bill at South Broad Street’s Boot & Saddle with Wilmington rocker Grace Vonderkuhn. The two artists were on a U.S. tour together this month, but the final dates of it unfortunately had to be postponed due to the looming polar vortex. No worries, though; they’ll be back through the midwest in due time, and for Philly’s part, the Groundhog Day show is sure to be an even bigger celebration of pent-up rock and roll energy.

To warm up for the gig, Tashjian and Vonderkuhn swung by XPN studios to guest DJ on the Local Show this week. Each artist picked six songs; Tashjian, getting hype for Saturday, picked a set of party megabangers by The Muffs, Queen, Superhcunk and more. Vonderkuhn, on the other hand, went with her current heavy rotation jams, from classics by Buzzcocks and The The to currents by Mitski and Illuminati Hotties.   Continue reading →

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The Week Ahead: Dawes, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Thin Lips, Steve Gunn and more

Dawes
Dawes | photo by Magdalena Wosinska | courtesy of the artist

If you happen to get caught up in a Bill Murray-esque existential loop this Groundhog Day, rest assured that there are plenty of concerts that would be simply wonderful to see for the rest of eternity. The week leading up to it isn’t too shabby, either — but that’s live music in Philly for you. Here are 19 concerts to see in the next seven days. Continue reading →

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Just Announced: Thin Lips at Boot & Saddle

Thin Lips
Thin Lips | photo by Scott Troyan | photo courtesy of the artist

Following the release of their fantastic new album Chosen Family this summer, Philly scene faves Thin Lips have announced their first proper headlining tour behind the record, which will take them up and down the East Coast this winter. The band has also added a new member to their chosen family: Delaware-based rocker Grace Vonderkuhn will open for them on the tour, which wraps up with a hometown show on February 2 at Boot & Saddle. Continue reading →

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Watch Thin Lips rock the Audiotree Live studio

Thin Lips on Audiotree | still from video

During their recent tour across the northeast and midwest, Thin Lips found time to stop by Audiotree’s Chicago headquarters to record a session — or as the band put it, “a pass/fail test of our live set.” The 34-minute session is a resounding pass if you ask us, spotlighting seven tracks off the Philly band’s new album Chosen Family, which was released in September. Continue reading →

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The Key Studio Sessions: Thin Lips

“I was going to tell you what this song is about,” Chrissy Tashjian told a sold out crowd at PhilaMOCA last month, “but you’re smart. You’ll figure it out.”

The jam in question, a two-and-a-half minute rager called “South America” from the latest Thin Lips record Chosen Family, doesn’t require a ton of decoding. It wears its message very much on its sleeve — or rather, in its hook: “And now you’ll go to South A-MER-I-CA / with a woman that you only met last month.” So it’s a very literal breakup story, yes, but the telling of it is much more complex than such a label would imply, exploring themes of incompatibility, impatience, rejection, and unappreciated emotional labor: “let’s hear the line / the one that goes ‘Chris, I’ve never seen you try.’ / The line, the one that goes / ‘All I do is try.'”

I mentioned that its a rager, yeah? In the hands of Tashjian and her Thin Lips bandmates, the story behind “South America” becomes a soaring emo anthem, a song with interlocked instrumental complexity that’s incredibly fun, even as it unpacks personal lows. But that’s what this band has been all about since emerging on the Philly scene back in 2013 with the Gemini Moon EP — Tashjian took the name Thin Lips for her band because she is terrible at keeping secrets, and in their telling, she transforms them into something uplifting and pure.

Continue reading →

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The Week Ahead: Childish Gambino, David Byrne, Thin Lips, The McCrary Sisters and more

Childish Gambino’s This Is America | still from video

We hope you’ve got your schedule cleared, because the next seven days are seriously busy on the live music front. Kicking off tonight with Childish Gambino’s long-awaited headliner at Wells Fargo Center, and running through the return of punk legends The Vibrators on Monday, here are 23 concerts you can see in and around Philly over the next seven days. Continue reading →

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Slaughter Beach, Dog and Thin Lips sweat it out at PhilaMOCA

Slaughter Beach, Dog | photo by John Vettese for WXPN

Two great Philly forces combined this past Saturday at PhilaMOCA, where Thin Lips and Slaughter Beach, Dog co-headlined along with opener Queen Jesus. It was a sold-out show coming at the tail-end of a hot summer. Fortunately, these are bands to sweat to. Thin Lips have a classic sensibility about their hooks that you have to move to, with clean riffs and sobering lyrics. Slaughter Beach, Dog, led by former Modern Baseball guitarist Jake Ewald, can play with a crowd instead, going from punk anthems (with a bit of Gibson twang) to solemn folk-inspired jams. Regardless of their duality, the crowd that night seldom could be found not echoing every word from the bands. Continue reading →

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Thin Lips helps their loved ones rest in power in the new “A Song For Those Who Miss You All The Time” video

still from video

For all their joyful melodies and hummable hooks, Philly punk four-piece Thin Lips often return to lyrical themes of coping with loss.

The first single from their awesome new Chosen Family LP, “A Song For Those Who Miss You All The Time,” is about frontwoman Chrissy Tashjian’s brother Billy, who passed away at age 22 in 2014. The process of grieving isn’t something that starts when tragedy strikes and then concludes in a short period of time; it never truly ends, and the heartwrenching lyrics behind the bouncing beat talk of what it’s like for Tashjian and her brother Mikey (Thin Lips’ drummer) to continue living day to day without their brother.

Just like “A Song For Those Who Miss You All The Time” transforms their personal loss into something uplifting and joyful, its new music video for transforms a host of losses into something beautiful. Continue reading →