Local electro-pop duo City Rain will release their new LP Songs For a High School Dance next week but you can be ahead of the curve by streaming the full album over at American Songwriter right now. Along with the record preview, bandmates Ben Runyan and Scott Cumpstone shared cut-by-cut videos to give fans some insight behind the writing, producing and inspiration of the songs. Check out the album below. City Rain celebrate the release of Songs For a High School Dance at Underground Arts on May 1st and then settle into a May residency at Ortlieb’s; more information on both at the XPN Concert Calendar.
Local electro-pop duo City Rain are continuing to have a big year. The success of last year’s hit single and music video for “The Optimist” helped earn the band first place in the MTVU Freshmen contest, and a whole lot of exposure along with it. Now, the electronic duo is gearing up for the release of their new album Songs for a High School Dance, due out May 2, with an album release show at Underground Arts May 1 and two free downloadable tracks via the band’s Soundcloud page that didn’t quite make the final cut.
The instrumental first track, “One Million Shades”, combines spacey electric guitar melodies with bass heavy synths, bringing to mind a loaded up, beat infused version of Explosions in the Sky (the fact that it’s an instrumental undoubtedly contributes to this). “Nephew” features Ben Runyan’s signature hearty vocals over a faster, up-tempo beat, never without piercing guitar melodies.
Be sure to check out City Rain’s residency stint at Ortlieb’s on Wednesdays throughout May. Get tickets for the album release show at Underground Arts when they become available here, and stream the free tracks below.
Before taking the stage at Ortlieb’s earlier this month, City Rain stepped down to the basement with BITBY.TV to record a stripped-down version of “Mama I Want to Go Home.” The track is taken from the duo’s upcoming Songs From a High School Dance LP and shows a different side to the usually upbeat, anthemic electro-pop project. Check out the live video below and then download the studio version. City Rain will be hosting a residency at Ortlieb’s on Wednesdays in May. Tickets and information for those shows can be found here.
The rickety van piloted by Philly psych-thrash outfit Ruby the Hatchet rolled into Austin just a few hours before its first South By Southwest gig last week. Cutting it close, for sure, but the band was just happy to arrive.
“We broke down,” guitarist John Scarperia explained as he set up for the End Records showcase at LIT Lounge. “We were stuck in Tennessee for two days.”
Talk about a setback. I ask if they missed any tour shows on the trip down. Scarperia laughs, then says “We didn’t play any. But it was fun, all part of the adventure, right?
The band dished a raucous set of its heady, heavy rock to a modest but appreciative crowd – which included singer-songwriter Nicole Atkins, a longtime friend of Hatchet frontwoman Jillian Taylor. The next day, it rocked Thrasher Mag’s unofficial Deathmatch showcase, and spent the rest of the weekend mingling with the music-devouring masses. Overall, it was a positive experience, and even culminated in Taylor getting a new tattoo (a hatchet, of course).
Ruby the Hatchet was one of dozens of locals that made the trek to Austin this year. Musicians of all styles and degrees of renown represented Philly at SXSW. There were known names like rapper Spank Rock, who played an energized set to a buck wild crowd at the Boyz Noize showcase at The Majestic on Thursday, and alt-bluesman G. Love who played the 18th Floor of the Hilton Garden Inn the same night. There were emerging artists, like folk singer Vikesh Kapoor and punk power trio Amanda X, or SXSW vets like rapper Lushlife, heavy psych heads Creepoid, and dream punks Nothing, who played a 2 a.m. set on a pedestrian footbridge.
“I feel like SXSW serves as a hub for discovery,” says Philly rapper Chill Moody, who I caught during his showcase at the Amped Austin lounge on Saturday afternoon. “I met a bunch of musicians and professionals in the music industry in just one week. Built some strong connections that will hopefully help me with the next steps in my career.”
For Moody, who is used to feeding off the love of the hometown fan base he’s cultivated over the past few years – he headlines venues like The TLA and Union Transfer locally – it was an opportunity to perform to complete strangers in smaller rooms, and win them over. The Amped show featured his right hand man Beano, a charismatic and occasionally comedic R&B singer, hopping offstage and dancing in the midst of the crowd, to the delight of many Instagram-snappers.
“It was a good chance to show a different audience exactly what you can do,” said Moody.
Downstairs at the same venue, electronic rock duo City Rain debuted songs from their new Songs From a High School Dance LP, due out in late April. Again, the crowd was (with the exception of myself) strangers, but people fed off singer / songwriter Ben Runyuan’s relentless energy, particularly on the driving anthem “Waiting on a Dream.”
“This is our last showcase,” Runyan said. “So I’m just throwing everything I got into this.” Continue reading →
Mike Bell & The Movies play The Fire tonight. The power pop / punk band out of Philadelphia (featuring members of Algernon Cadwallader and Dangerous Ponies) released a new record called Nothing Works a few weeks ago, following up their Stuck in a T.V. debut. Their sound is fast-paced and fun, crossing Weezer with Elvis Costello. Check out the LP below and get more information for tonight’s show here.
Local roots outfit Levee Drivers stopped by for this week’s Key Studio Session. The band recorded their signature 2008 track “Tennessee Girl” that all fans know and love, but surrounded it with brand new songs from their latest Live at East Coast Recording EP. Stream and download “Bourbon Coated” below and get the full set here.
Electro-pop duo City Rain have released a new song from their upcoming Songs From a High School Dance LP. ”Mama I Want to Come Home” is a move in a new direction for City Rain with its slow tempo and gentle acoustic guitar base, but it still sparkles and builds in the classic City Rain style. Stream and download the song below. Continue reading →
Philly’s City Rain are known for their big-beat electro-pop anthems (cue “The Optimist,” the excellent single from earlier this year). But the new music they’ve been teasing on Facebook from the forthcoming Songs From a High School Dance indicate the new LP might be more dynamic than we might expect. The duo of Ben Runyan (vocals, production) and Scott Crumpstone (guitars) took a late autumn trip to the beach in Avalon this week to finish tracking, and the snippets they shared included a minute and a half of reverbed doo-wop (a sketch of a song since taken down) and the full new cut called “Mama I Want To Go Home.”
I’m used to hitting play on a City Rain soundcloud link and hearing a lush synthesizer bloom, a slamming kick pulse, a hollering vocal from Runyan, the City Rain format that I’ve come to know and dig. So when this one opened with an acoustic strum – something out of Radiohead’s The Bends – and a sensitive and hushed falsetto, I was taken aback.
As the single builds, we hear piano chords and keyboard beeps – eventually being led along with a gently swaying drumbeat – but none of the in-your-face volume and energy of the past. But there’s no lack of intensity either. Runyan calls it “Folk Rain.” I call it an impressive display of sonic restraint, and a great development for their sound. City Rain headlines The Transfer Station – a new arts space in Manauynk – tonight at 8 p.m. with Former Belle; more info at the show’s Facebook event page.