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Unlocked: Read the Young Statues guide to what’s good (and familiar) about Athens

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Carmen Cirignano of Young Statues | Photo via runforcoverrecords.com

For the final installment of Young Statues’ Unlocked spotlight, frontman Carmen Cirignano shares some of his favorite places in Athens, Georgia where the band recorded its new album, The Flatlands Are Your Friend. He also describes why and how his favorite spots remind him of home in Philly.

I spent six weeks away from Philadelphia recording this record. Luckily I got to do it in a place that is now starting to feel like a second home: Athens, Georgia.

Athens, like Philadelphia, is an amazing city with a rich cultural history. Naturally, there were a lot of similarities. Here are a few of my favorite places that reminded me of home while in Athens. Continue reading →

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Unlocked: Why Jersey’s Young Statues took measures to make “Flatlands” feel like a home away from home

Young Statues _Shervin Lainez (LoRes_WEB)
Young Statues | Photo by Shervin Lainez

Carmen Cirignano hopes putting on his band’s new record can provide a very certain kind of feeling.

He relates it to taking a trip to his grandmother’s house. Whenever he visited her, he’d feel a certain way and have very distinct memories. It’s an idea of being somewhere familiar that’s not exactly home.

“I wanted a cohesive, kind of flowing record that made sense from the beginning to the end and felt like a tangible thing, in a way,” Cirignano says. “I wanted people, when they listened to it or put it on, to be able to go somewhere, go to a place, wherever that place is to whoever listens to it. It could be different for everybody. I wanted it to have that feeling, like it was something as a whole rather than just a collection of songs.”

Cirignano, frontman for Young Statues, is sitting at an outside table at Old City’s Ole Café, having just driven downtown from his home in Prospect Park. He’s joined by bassist Tom Ryan, who has just driven in from across the bridge in New Jersey. They’re both joined by Ryan’s sister’s small dog, who remains mostly quiet as the two discuss the past and present history of the band. Continue reading →

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Unlocked: Follow Young Statues into the studio in a new documentary (PREMIERE)

Matt Weber and Tom Ryan of Young Statues in the studio | via Instagram
Producer Drew Vandenberg and Tom Ryan of Young Statues in the studio | via Instagram

To the non-musician, the process a band goes through to make an album may not seem like hard work.

Those unfamiliar recording may think that the songs are always fully realized before the band enters the studio — that musicians can just go in, nail their various parts in a few takes, then move onto the next song. It seems like making an album should come easily and naturally.

But talk to any musician about recording for more than a few minutes, and you’ll know this isn’t the case in the least bit. You’ll hear stories about spending a whole day recording one guitar solo or drum fill, or singers scribbling down lyrics just minutes before the song they’re writing is to be recorded.

Making music isn’t easy. That’s why Young Statues knew that, to record their sophomore LP The Flatlands Are Your Friends, they wanted to travel somewhere to both limit distractions and feel more inspired. So the band spent three weeks recording in Athens, Georgia at Chase Park Transduction Studios, where frontman Carmen Cirignano had also retreated to years prior and wrote Young Statues’ debut album. Continue reading →

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Unlocked: The Key’s review of Young Statues’ The Flatlands are Your Friend

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Young Statues’ The Flatlands are Your Friend

It’s almost fitting that the release date of Young Statues’ sophomore LP, The Flatlands Are Your Friend, would fall around Halloween.

Whereas the South Jersey-based band’s self-titled debut could be categorized as indie pop, and its 2013 EP Age Isn’t Ours bordered on pop punk, Flatlands is something total different — an eerily haunting, rock-driven release.

We’re obviously not talking “Monster Mash” here. It’s edgy and emotional in the vein of “Gimme Shelter,” and a far cry from anything the band has ever done in the past.

Young Statues has always stuck out because they’ve never really fit in where they were. Punk and hardcore bands dominate the band’s label, Run For Cover Records. This has informed the tours Young Statues been on and the fan base they have developed. But you’d be mistaken to lump them in with many of their label mates or this “emo revival” everyone keeps talking about. Continue reading →

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Unlocked: Download “Got The Knife” from Young Statues’ new The Flatlands are Your Friend

Young Statues | Photo via facebook.com/youngstatues
Young Statues | Photo via facebook.com/youngstatues

Young Statues’ 2011 self-titled debut album wasn’t exactly unintentional, but it was somewhat unplanned.

The South-Jersey based indie rock band was born from the collection of songs written by frontman Carmen Cirignano on a prolonged trip to Athens, Georgia. He had just left another band behind and was encouraged by people there and then upon returning home to turn what he thought would be solo material into a new project.

That collection of catchy, intricate indie pop tunes won over fans for a reason. Continue reading →

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Unlocked: Despite frequent “Trips,” watch Vacationer cater to hometown audience

 

Vacationer | Photo by Rachel Barrish | rachelbarrish.com
Vacationer | Photo by Rachel Barrish | rachelbarrish.com

Vacationer does exactly what their name would suggest.

The Philadelphia-based band has toured and traveled all over the world. They’ve shot videos in Hawaii and Costa Rica. They’ve played festivals in Iceland, and toured all over the U.S. alongside bands like Bombay Bicycle Club, Tennis, Hellogoodbye and The Naked and Famous.

But the Vacationer hasn’t always taken their party on the road. They’ve also played Philly enough times since 2012 to make it hard to keep track of. The band has brought its chill-wave sounds to venues like Union Transfer, the Theater of the Living Arts and the Dock Street Brewing Company, as well as outdoor festivals like 2nd Street Festival in Northern Liberties and the Fishtown River City Festival. Their home-away-from-tour, however, seems to be Underground Arts, where Vacationer has played a handful of shows including the two installments of the “Nude Beach” concert series the band started.

To celebrate tonight’s release show and the band’s first time performing at Johnny Brenda’s, we’re recapping a few of Vacationer’s most memorable hometown shows in the live videos below. You can also catch them playing the first day of the Made in America festival on August 30th, Vacationer being the only local band announced on the bill so far. Continue reading →

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Unlocked: The Key’s review of Relief by Vacationer

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Vacationer’s Relief | via vacationermusic.com

Relief is full of what one might describe as “Bali Hai” moments.

The album is Philadelphia dream pop band Vacationer’s sophomore release, out today via Downtown Records. Though it features modern technology – electric guitars, vibraphone flourishes and Logic-produced beats – Relief echoes the score of 1949 Rogers and Hammerstein musical “South Pacific.” In the show, Bali Hai is the name of the magical, mysterious island that is seen as an exotic paradise to the main characters. The native Tonkinese people invite American troops fighting during World War II to visit the island, and it becomes a tropical haven for the soldiers to forget about the fighting and killing that surrounds them. Every time that Bali Hai is mentioned or seen off in the distance, the show’s score elicits waves of brass, strings and a chorus of voices that bolster the island’s enchanting qualities.

The musical motif that starts Relief feels like an invitation from Vacationer to join the band on its own version of Bali Hai. Voices swell and fifes sound as the album launches into the first track, “Stay,” and frontman Kenny Vasoli sings, “Want you to taste summer winds as they’re gusting around/ I want you shaking those habits just in time, worth it if you look around.”

On Vacationer’s enchanted musical island, there are definitely no signs of the war, racism or other hardships that thicken the plot of “South Pacific.” But Relief also isn’t all chill waves, summer sun and good vibes like its predecessor, 2012’s Gone. Continue reading →

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Unlocked: Download “In The Grass” from Vacationer’s sophomore album Relief

 

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Photo via Facebook.com/Vacationermusic

Vacationer wrote “In The Grass,” along with most recent single “Wild Life,” in the span of one day. Both tracks are featured on the Philadelphia-based, self-proclaimed “Nu Hula” band’s sophomore release, Relief, out tomorrow on Downtown Records.

“They were both buzzer-beaters,” says bassist and frontman Kenny Vasoli, adding jokingly, “we were already mixing the record and the label sort of kindly asked us to write more. They were like, “Hey this is great, but can you write more stuff that’s better?”

What the label wanted were radio hits, and what they got were two summer anthems that showed no signs of being a rushed job. “In The Grass” has a notable disco feel that the band attributes to its affinity for LCD Soundsystem. It’s a prime example of the broader range of influences that Vacationer called upon for Relief, the highly anticipated follow up to their 2012 break-out debut, Gone.

And though they aimed to do things a little differently this time around, Vacationer still delivers on Relief what has become their mantra about the power of music – it’s exotic, layered, blissful dream pop that has the ability to take the listener far, far away from here. Rife with smart riffs, genuine beats and good vibes, Relief isn’t just the soundtrack to summer 2014 — it’s the feel-good LP that you’ll want to give a spin, no matter what the season.

“Overwhelmed over nothing,’ Vasoli sings. “When the days start dragging, mood starts dragging you down … You can lay your head down in the grass. Be yourself with open eyes, every time.”

Sometimes it really is that easy.

Download “In The Grass” above, courtesy of Downtown Records. Check back throughout this week as we spotlight Relief on Unlocked, The Key’s regular spotlight on new and significant releases by Philadelphia area artists. Tomorrow we’ll post a review of the album, Wednesday we’ll chronicle live videos from a few of the band’s local shows, Thursday we’ll have a feature interview and Friday we’ll provide an inside glimpse into the everyday lives of a Vacationer.

 

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Unlocked: Things discovered on City Rain’s two-and-a-half day train journey from Philadelphia to Austin

Photo courtesy of the artist
Photo courtesy of the artist

When City Rain played SXSW this year, frontman Ben Runyan made the trip not by car, bus or plane, but on a two-and-a-half day rail trek. For the final installment of the band’s Unlocked spotlight, we share his experience in the form of an essay written on the ride home.

Life is a tremendously meticulous and fragile gift. It involves risk. It involves bravado…..brashness……insanity. To make the “right” decisions for yourself the only way to be vindicated is to dive in. I remember leaving the train station from NYC with a 55 hr train ride Into the unknown wondering if I was in over my head. Hell, everyone had told me I was crazy for doing this. Take a plane they said….. What was I thinking. Shall I return to the “safety of home”? Or shall I press on Into the night to a place I’ve never been — with people I’ve never met — around confines I’ve never Iived within…… I’d become a bit predictable up to this point and wanted to try something big. But this trip —- well this trip turned everything on it’s head in ways I could never imagine.

IMG_2291America is best seen by train. Not because its not being done. Not because some hipster steampunk that thinks we should return to the days of locomotive and horse (could be cool) and not because I’m afraid of flying (I am). I’ts best seen by train because of what you SEE —- which is to say there’s a big America out there… It’s a shock to most to know that you can travel across the entire country by AMTRAK. NYC to LA. PHL to CHI. CHI TO AUS. Our rail lines zig zag across this great country as directly and wildly as plane routes, albeit longer and shared by freight trains. Yes years ago our country failed to have foresight into the needs of the American rail system or high speed rail that our Asian and Europeans brothers utilize. A high speed rail system analogous to the ones europeans have could bring us from NYC to LA in 10 hours. But who could blame them; the car was the future as early as the 1910′s. Cars are the future they said.

My trip started out about 2 blocks away from my house in the Germantown section of Philadelphia. Continue reading →

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Unlocked: How a trip to the Jersey Shore in the winter brought City Rain’s new album to life

via instagram.com/cityraintunes

In early 2013, when Ben Runyan and Scott Cumpstone began working on the music that would become City Rain‘s new LP Songs for a High School Dance, they worked in fits and starts.

Runyan would lay out a tapestry of beats and send it to Cumpstone, who would add guitar florishes and shoot it back. Ideas would build, songs would develop. But there was never a more concentrated block of recording than maybe two hours in a shot.

“It was a lot more like The Postal Service,” Runyan reasons. “Moreso than feeling truly like a band.”

This changed when the duo decided to wrap up High School Dance with a vacation. Runyan and Cumpstone traveled to Avalon, New Jersey, in early December, holed up in a family shore house and found their voice as a band.

“The shore is a great place to go in the off-season,” Cumpstone says. “Nobody is there. Everything’s closed. It allowed us to really focus, and to have more than half a night to get stuff done with the record.”

Runyan describes the experience as intensely creative experience of trying ideas, scrapping ideas, arguing over sounds and arrangements, walking away for a cool-off walk on the beach and returning back to the fray. But it resulted in the album taking the dynamic shape it has. Rather than 12 tracks of high-BPM dance beats, High School Dance has a rise and fall – midtempo and hushed moments in addition to the dancefloor ragers.

“Walls” emerged from a guitar line Cumpstone was jamming on during downtime that Runyan heard potential in; album closer “Mama I Want to Go Home” emerged from one of those beach walks, and the duo rushed in to get their acoustic guitar and microphones and laid down the song with the waves in the background. Continue reading →