As though the song couldn’t get any catchier already, Philly lo-fi disco duo Night Panther – descendants of White Birds and Drink Up Buttercup – recorded and released a cover of Grizzly Bear’s hit “Two Weeks” last month. It’s a bright and blooming rendition, reaching for (and getting close to) Passion Pit stratospheres. Download it below, and catch the band in concert this Saturday night, September 15, when it performs at Kung Fu Necktie with Maria Minerva. Tickets to the 21+ show are $10 and available here.
Drink Up Buttercup
Hazy, fuzz-pop trio White Birds might be a new kid on the scene, having played its very first show just two months ago—but the band has already proven it has the chops to make it big. Which is no surprise, considering all three members previously logged time in Drink Up Buttercup, a zany psych-pop act known for its pounding circus beats and frantic stage show. Sadly, Drink Up Buttercup called it quits back in June, but three of the four members (James Harvey, Farzad Houshiarnejad, and Mike Cammarata) quickly re-formed as White Birds, a change they attribute to changing tastes and the desire to expand their sound. (Bassist Ben Mazzochetti did not join White Birds, citing different visions.)
With White Birds, we see the city’s much-loved hooligans growing up, and offering a mature and refined sound. Think of White Birds as the Abbey Road to Drink Up’s Magical Mystery Tour: it’s elegant, whimsical, and dreamy where the latter was quirky, trippy, and playful. And much like Drink Up, it’s accompanied by an exuberant live show that’s just as fun to watch as it is to listen to. Since forming, the band has won over crowds at Pianos and Glasslands in NYC, and scored an opening spot for poppy shoegazers Asobi Seksu on an upcoming tour. I originally fell in love with White Birds when I heard the first single “Hondura,” a sun-drenched, harmony-laden vintage groove. Since then, the band has prepared a self-titled cassette of four songs, including “Hondura,” the excellent “Bee Hive” (a fuzzy slow jam whose echo-y harmonies swarm like bees around the beat), and the dreamy ’60s charmer “Floating Hands.” The cassette will be available in a limited run on September 23; for now, you can stream the whole thing via Bandcamp. You can also catch the guys live Saturday, September 17, opening for Purples at Johnny Brenda’s. —Kate Bracaglia of Underwater Explosions.
Two weeks ago, we heard the murmurs about the Philly rock quartet Drink Up Buttercup possibly breaking up. Were the band members calling it quits? Were they changing the band’s name (and/or sound)? Nobody seemed to have any actual answers, so we took the initiative and, you know, called the band to find out what was going on.
Lead singer Jim Harvey told us that the band had decided to perform its last show under the Drink Up Buttercup name at The Fire on May 28th as part of the Sundrops Arts And Music Festival. As we reported back then, Harvey, Farzad Houshiarnejad, and Mike Cammarata planned to move on on as White Birds, having made a clean break from their relationship with bassist Ben Mazzochetti late last year. The trio had already written a full-length album’s worth of new material, which they had been trying out during the final Drink Up Buttercup shows (and plan to release later this year).
Earlier today, the folks over at Kung Fu Necktie announced that the band’s first official show as White Birds will be Wednesday, June 29th, opening for Crooked Fingers. As the venue mentioned, this show will likely sell out. You can buy advance tickets here. White Birds performs with Crooked Fingers at 8 p.m. Wednesday, June 29th, at Kung Fu Necktie; tickets to the 21+ show are $12/$14.
Sometimes, growing pains for bands can be really painful—especially when they involve three of the four members choosing to move in a new direction, leaving the fourth behind. “Honestly, it was harder than breaking up with a girlfriend,” said Jim Harvey, lead singer of Philly’s Drink Up Buttercup, who confirmed today that the band will be performing its last show under that name at The Fire on Saturday night (as part of the Sundrop Arts And Music Festival). Harvey, Farzad Houshiarnejad, and Mike Cammarata will be moving on as White Birds, having made a clean break from their relationship with bassist Ben Mazzochetti at the end of 2010.
“When we stopped touring, and started recording our second album at the end of the year, we just really weren’t enjoying it anymore,” said Harvey. While Drink Up was trying to produce and record the album on their own in a rented house in Doylestown, Harvey said Mazzochetti wanted to keep going in the Drink Up direction, but the others disagreed.
“By the end of the year, we were just decaying,” Harvey said. With powerful personalities and irresolvable differences of opinion, he said the group decided to part ways with Mazzochetti, but has been playing shows as Drink Up Buttercup to honor previous performance agreements since the end of last year. During that time, they’ve also been trying out new White Birds material, to be released sometime later this year, slowly easing themselves into their new sound.
After writing the whole White Birds album in a week, Harvey, Houshiarnejad, and Cammarata knew they were a lot more passionate about pursuing White Birds than they had been just months before about Drink Up. Where Drink Up was theatrical and quirky, Harvey describes White Birds as “pretty” and “seriously musical,” allowing the three to mature as musicians. Today, the band will finish recording the last of 11 songs for its self-titled debut, which should be ready for release by the end of the summer.
“We really just wanted to make music that people want to make out to, fall in love to, or fall asleep with your headphones on to,” said Harvey. Fellow Philly musician BAnanas Symphony, who says he’s close friends with the band, called “Hondora”—one of three songs up on White Birds’s Bandcamp—“the make-out tune of the year, nay, a lifetime” on tumblr last week.
Harvey couldn’t confirm, but suspects that White Birds will also be announcing some concerts in the coming months, so keep an eye out. —Danielle Wayda
Philly Inquirer music critic Dan DeLuca dropped his 2010 Best of Music lists today including best albums, songs, live concerts and best local albums of the year. His best live show of the year was Sufjan Stevens at the Academy of Music. His best songs of the year list (which you can listen to here) has “Tightrope” by Janelle Monae featuring Big Boi at number one. DeLuca’s Best Local Albums of 2010 showcases why there is no doubt Philly’s local music scene is at a high point with a diverse group of excellent releases. The list includes:
1 – Dr. Dog – Shame, Shame
2 – Free Energy – Free Energy
3 – Jazmine Sullivan – Love Me Back
4 – Chiddy Bang – The Preview
5 -Drink Up Buttercup – Born and Thrown
6 – Summer Fiction – Summer Fiction
7 – Sun Airway – Nocturne of Exploded
8 – Notekillers – We’re Here To Help
9 – Bilal – Airtight’s Revenge
10 – North Lawrence Midnight Singers
You can read Dan’s comments on these local albums here. Check out a couple videos from Jazmine Sullivan and Free Energy below.
And speaking of the best of musical things local, The Key wants you to submit your favorites for the year for local bands, albums and up-and-coming acts for our first annual Best of Local Music year in review. You can submit your votes here.
Want to know a good way to start the day? Showing up at the office, checking your daily traffic reports, and discovering that a respectable number of people have flocked to your young site to download that 14-song sampler of local music you posted about the previous afternoon. It’s the kind of life-affirming, high-five-eliciting experience that makes one think, “Hey, we must be doing something right!” So, thanks for making our morning, Philadelphia.
And, you know, if you want to keep doing that for the rest of the week, we’d totally appreciate it.
Here, take this bonus track: “Even Think” by Drink Up Buttercup. It’s pulled from the same Key Studio Session as the band’s “Gods And Gentlemen,” which is on the sampler. And, if you haven’t already downloaded the mix—which features exclusive performances of songs by other local bands such as East Hundred, The Great Unknown, Dangerous Ponies, Adam And Dave’s Bloodline, Birdie Busch, and The Sky Drops—you can do so here.
Tonight, Philly Weekly’s Concerts in the Park Series continues at Rittenhouse Square Park at 7PM with Drink Up Buttercup, Government Cheaze and A Place To Bury Strangers. It’s quite the eclectic bill with indie-rockers, punk-rock hip-hoppers and skull-splitting noise rockers all coming together to rock some Brotherly Love. And it’s all free.