Get to know Old Smile with new album, “Hearing Static”

There’s been a sore spot in many a local musicophile’s heart following the break-up — though amicable — of Philly psych-rock outfit Arches. But those mourning the loss of good ol’ tunes can rejoice in the revelation of good new ones: Tom Herman Jr., former Arches co-leader, has recently released his first full-length album as Old Smile, a solo project he established back in 2010. Hearing Static is awash in glowing psychy ambience, smooth and soothing. Imagine a sort of toned down and warmed up Beach House sound that made you feel content rather than melancholy, and you’re approaching the vibe Old Smile gives off. With certain tracks harboring hints of jazz and others a folky air, Old Smile has created an album with impressive and captivating scope. Hearing Static is available on Old Smile’s bandcamp. Below, watch a video for the opening track, “Quiet Nights.”


Tonight: Philly space-rock allstars take over Kungfu Necktie

Hippy Johnny, clockwise from upper right: Brendan Codey, Bennett Daniels, Dan Svizeny and Yohsuke Araki

If you’re a fan of jangley guitars, 60s psych-pop songwriting, and generous helpings of reverb, Kungfu Necktie is the place to be tonight. The Fishtown venue is hosting a solid lineup of local space-rock, beginning with the live debut of The Interest Group, the latest project from Philly’s Yohsuke Araki; the band received a spot of Pitchfork love this spring for its recent single “The Boys and The Girls.” Also on the bill is JRG, the acronymonious stage name of Julien Rossow-Greenberg, formerly of the band Arches; his label Treetop Sorbet has been a big proponent of breezy, cloudy pop tones. Rounding out the bill is Hippy Johnny, an allstar roster featuring Araki on guitar, Dan Svizeny of Cough Cool on drums, Brendan Codey on guitar and vocals and Bennett Daniels from Codey’s band on bass. Stream some music from each act below – a song from The Interest group, an EP from JRG and some teasers from Hippy Johnny – and as KFN’s calendar advises, “remember to scrape your melted face up off the floor at the end of the show.” Hippy Johnny, JRG and The Interest Group play Kungfu Necktie, 1250 North Front St., tonight at 7:30 p.m. Admission to the all-ages show is $5.


Philly space-rock savant Brendan Codey releases new cassette, “Casco”

Philadelphia songwriter Brendan Codey just released his latest collection of spacey jams: the Casco EP, available through Treetop Sorbet Recordings, the cassette label run by Arches’ Julien Rossow-Greenberg. The set was recorded over several years, and in several locales – a bedroom in New Jersey, apartments in Maine and Chicago, and his current home in Philly – and is a fine survey of the tones and textures Codey has explored thus far in his recording career. “Diaspora” showcases his nimble folk-style acoustic fingerpicking; “What a Lucky Girl You Are” blends that with spacey backwards loops similar to his debut EP A Bottle House Vernacular; “The 43rd Suite” is a straight-up space rock anthem in the vein of “Twelfth Page” (spotlighted last year in the Philly Local Philes). Codey says a few of the tracks are destined for a full album he plans to release later this year, tentatively titled Phoenicia 1995. We’ll keep you posted with more on that release as it develops, but in the meantime, listen to the current release below – you can also order it from the label here.


Arches’ 2011 release Wide Awake chosen as the Bandcamp Hunter album of the year

Congratulations to Arches whose 2011 album Wide Awake has been chosen as the number one favorite album of the year by Bandcamp Hunter. Bandcamp Hunter is a fantastic music web site that curates a music post a day based on what he finds and recommends from Bandcamp. We were so inspired by his work that we started our very own Philadelphia Bandcamp Hunter feature. And yes, please, come to our first Philadelphia Bandcamp Hunter show at Johnny Brenda’s on February 3rd; info here.

Here’s what Bandcamp Hunter writes:

Philly’s Arches have a big sound for a two piece (occasionally swelling to a three piece on this record) and upon repeated listens the working behind how this sound is generated becomes more apparent. Guitars are looped, layers build in a seemingly organic manner and reverb is applied, though never excessively. So it’s brilliantly played and produced, but-as so so so many bands do not seem to realise-all this adds up to sweet F.A if the songs aren’t any good. Gladly, Julien Rossow Greenberg and Tom Herman Jr are badass songwriters.

Read the full review here. Below, stream Wide Awake.


Matthew Borlik’s Top Five Local Albums of 2011

Psychic Teens

This week, we’ll be taking a look at several WXPN/XPN2 staff members’ Best Of 2011 lists. Today, The Key editor Matthew Borlik’s five favorite local albums of the year.

1. Psychic Teens, Teen (Golden Voyage Records) Listen to Psychic Teens’ Key Studio Session


2. Meg Baird, Seasons On Earth (Drag City)


3. Creepoid, Horse Heaven (Ian Records) Listen to Creepoid’s Key Studio Session


4. Arches and Banned Books, Split 10″ (Magic Death Records) Listen to Arches‘ Key Studio Session


5. White Birds, White Birds EP (self-released) Listen to White Birds’ Key Studio Session


Honorable Mentions:
Break It Up’s self-released single “Excavate,” which the band posted on Bandcamp earlier this year and is easily my favorite local song of 2011. Had it received an official release this year (either as a 7-inch or on a full-length), it definitely would been included on my list. Unfortunately, it looks like we’ll have to wait until next year for the band to release its debut. Listen to Break It Up’s Key Studio Session


Lantern and Dirty Beaches’ self-released live album, Live At Glasslands—because live albums don’t count. Listen to Lantern’s Key Studio Session


Arches release new EP, Enough

Arches have released a new four song EP called Enough that you can download digitally and purchase for a “name your price.” They are also selling the EP as a “high quality hand dubbed cassette” that you can purchase here.


Download a live concert from Arches (recorded at the Metro Gallery in Baltimore)

The members of Arches have released a live recording from a concert performance at The Metro Gallery in Baltimore in September. It is being released on cassette, which you can pre-order here. Below, stream or download the performance for free. In case you missed it, you can also listen to the session Arches recorded for Daytrotter here.


Listen to Arches’ Daytrotter session

Arches did a session for Daytrotter that you can listen to and download here.

Here’s what Daytrotter’s Sean Moeller wrote about the band:

Philadelphia band Arches, made up of the principle members of singers Julien Rossow Greenberg and Tom Herman Jr., fit the bill. They have the tendencies that would suggest that they would pay particular attention to those threads of sound that might get ignored in the hustle. One of the extra, auxiliary players on the group’s latest album, “Wide Awake,” is the sound of a patient, but chilly-sounding winter wind. It sounds like the kind of wind, the strength of which would cause any man or woman to throw on an extra layer, something or anything that could keep that biting air from getting through to them. On record, is rests in the mix with the duo’s easy, cinnamon-y, candlelight vocals that reach into that reverb box and take all that they need to make a fire. They sing about time coming to a halt, as well as holding onto the feeling of a fear for the dark. It’s as if there are many things out there that should still be scary, even for those who know better, who are older and wiser. We’re surrounded by those comfort sounds and yet some crinkled and blowing leaves in the dark can sound like prowlers out and up to no good, ready to jump you. We know when we’re not safe and we rarely know when we are truly safe. Arches music straddles that fine line between the beautiful lull of the undulating waves of an ocean and the part of the scene where you feel a tug on your leg from below.


Arches and Banned Books release split 10-inch single

Arches and Banned Books have released a split 10″ single on the Philly based Magic Death Sounds record label. Each band contributes two songs. Purchase the vinyl (which comes with a digital download card) here. The songs from each of the bands on this EP nicely complement each other. With Banned Books you get songs with intricate rhythms and catchy indie-pop melodies. Arches bring their more ambient leaning bliss pop to the mix. All four songs make for an excellent release.