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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Lia Ices at Boot and Saddle, Philebrity Awards at Johnny Brenda’s, Chris Zurich at 2nd State Lounge

Lia Ices | photo by Michelle Montgomery | michellemontgomeryphotography.com
Lia Ices | photo by Michelle Montgomery | michellemontgomeryphotography.com

Experimental pop singer-songwriter Lia Ices takes to the stage at Boot and Saddle tonight. Her third LP, Ices, was released last year and signified a sonic shift for the New England bred, SoCal based artist – a move away from haunting piano compositions and toward alluring electronic jams. It was highlighted on NPR Music at several points throughout the year, including a First Listen showcase and a session on World Cafe with David Dye. Watch a video of “Higher” recorded during the Cafe session below, and get tickets and more information on the show at the XPN Concert Calendar. Continue reading →

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Stream Black Ink, the newly reissued LP from experimental Philly songwriter Chris Zurich

The release of Chris Zurich‘s LP Black Ink next week is a new beginning of sorts for the West Philly experimental singer-songwriter.

In spring of 2012, after a few older projects had run their course, he recorded the lush and evocative album with a fresh group of players. He was calling the band New West – which also happens to be the name of an Americana record label. A cease and desist later, and Zurich had to rethink what he wanted to do with this body of music they had worked on; a year and a half later, it’s being released under his own name.

Before the name change, it was a journey for the music on Black Ink to go from brain to recorder. As Zurich tells us, “I had a lot of left-over material from a previous band and decided to take matters into my own hands by recording a handful of solo demos, where I played all the instruments.  When I was finished, I put what I had online and asked, ‘who wants to join me?’  I wanted to see what sort of interesting musicians I’d meet and what unique talents I’d encounter.  I had already started booking shows, so if people came on board, my attitude was ‘great, come join me.’  If not, I was prepared to play them solo.  And luckily, a band came together out of that and helped me complete the tracks that are here.”

Thematically, the record is a study in private versus public realities, a look uncomfortable truths we all confront in life and how we decide whether to bring them to the attention of those around us. Zurich explains, “The cover has an obscured octopus shooting out black ink, like they do as a defense mechanism.  That visual is sort of representational of the theme of the album, since it was a balancing process of figuring out how much to reveal and how much to obscure.”

Black Ink will be released this coming Tuesday, October 15th. Listen to it in its entirety below; after the jump, Zurich shares background about each song on the album.

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Watch a new video for “Nothing Around Me” by Chris Zurich

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Philadelphia’s Chris Zurich has followed an unusual musical path – embracing the hardcore scene when he was younger, Zurich went on to form a Mars Volta cover band in a West Philly basement, take vocal lessons from an opera singer and is now on the cusp of releasing his debut LP.  Describing his sound as a “culture clash,” Zurich hasn’t forgotten his musical roots on Black Ink.  There are elements of punk, reggae and soul, woven together in a way that reaches out and connects to fans of all genres, as we heard on “Annie” last month.

This week Zurich released the video for “Nothing Around Me,” an “electro pop song about a broken friendship between a former a bandmate” that may well be the centerpiece of the album.  The video alternates shots of Zurich’s emotive face and a swirling, thickening black ink that visually breaks up the positive white space of the frame bit by bit, perhaps reflecting the fissures of the friendship that has been overtaken by negative feelings.  Black Ink is out October 15th; watch the video below and get a free download of the track here.

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Download “Annie” from Chris Zurich’s debut Black Ink LP

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Chris Zurich is a really hard artist to pin down.  The Philadelphia musician takes influence from genres as diverse as soul, opera and punk, blending them to create a unifying sound on his new album, Black Ink.  The first single, “Annie,” is the perfect example of the different styles that influence Zurich’s music.  Drums and vocals seem to pull influence from R&B and hip-hop, while the guitar and bass seem to come from music not far off from Stevie Wonder.  It’s a soulful ballad that really opens up the album and introduces the world to Chris Zurich.  Check out the single below and download it hereBlack Ink is out October 15h.