Easton, PA native DJ Brown, aka Our Griffins, is at North Star Bar‘s Victorian Dining Room series tonight. Brown hasn’t released anything since his first EP two years ago, but he’s been in the studio for the past few months, and you can bet he’ll be using tonight’s set to flesh out some of that new material. The new record was recorded in Dallas, TX by Grammy award winning producer Stuart Sikes, so there’s no doubt the spotlight will soon be lent more and more to this gifted young songwriter. Supporting bands are blues-rockers Penrose, who just released a new album, and the wonderful folk duo Sun Flights whose lovely harmony-laden tunes will send you home singing. The free 21+ show begins at 9 p.m. Below, watch Our Griffins’ recent Random Tea Room session.
Philly expatriate Attia Taylor returned home on Saturday night for her first performance on an R5 Productions bill – in the intimate and elegant confines of the First Unitarian Chapel. Debuting material from her forthcoming Luxurious Corners EP, Taylor was focused and confident (minus a few spots where technical difficulties slowed between-song transitions), playing synthesizers, looping sounds on her laptop and singing.
With its surreal, dreamy look at fear and violence, “Knife” was layered and dynamic, one of the most intricate of Taylor’s songs to date. “Rest of Them,” on the other hand, is a slow build of loops and samples that progressively swelled into a frenzy of voices, beats and words, alluding to a non-specific betrayal. Megan Cauley of Gemini Wolf accompanied Taylor – her label, earSnake, is releasing Luxurious Corners this winter, and she co-produced the record with Taylor and Gemini’s Michael McDermott. But Cauley’s guidance was subtle, adding background flourishes and low beats to the mix and letting Taylor’s voice and synthesizer mixing take center stage. (Watching from the crowd with familial pride was her live band – John Romano, Aquila Clement and Anissa Martinez.)
Joining Taylor on the lineup was Brooklyn’s Hilly Eye, the new duo fronted by former Titus Andronicus violinist Amy Klein. In this configuration, playing duo-style with drummer Catherine Tung, it’s minimal and fuzzy-rocking, akin to 90s underground nuggets like The Breeders’ Pod or Helium’s The Dirt of Luck. The mix in the chapel was a bit spare, revealing Tung’s percussive limitations (she’s great with the Phil Spector backbeats – any kind of drum fill, not so much) but the band’s enthusiasm and song-craft shined above it all.
Opening the night was Philly’s Kate Ferencz, who wrapped herself in a tangle of Christmas lights and played a spunky mix of sung-spoke vocals, electronic beats and toy sound effects. It was a bit Le Tigre, a bit Daniel Johnston, a bit wacky playful performance art, but Ferencz’s observational, existential wordplay gave the set an alluring mystique, showing that – to whatever extent she was unconventional – she’s an artist worth paying attention to.
XPN Welcomes five-piece Philly folk-pop band Low Road as they reunite tonight in celebration of the Tin Angel’s 20th Anniversary. Low Road’s popularity in the nineties, ignited by frontman Mike “Slo-Mo” Brenner’s prevalence in the Philly music scene, led to two albums on Caroline Records. The band will be playing a sold-out show at 7 pm, but tickets are still available for the 10 pm show, which you can find here. Both shows are 21+. Below, check out Low Road’s “The Devil’s Pocket” from their 1994 album of the same name.
Haunting folk outfit Azure Ray returned to Philadelphia last night for an appearance at the side chapel of the First Unitarian Church. The core duo of Orenda Fink and Maria Taylor was backed by cellist Heather McIntosh and multi-instrumentalist Andy LeMaster (of Fink’s other band, Now It’s Overhead), and their subtle arrangements and evocative playing rang nicely off the lofty ceiling of the chapel. Touring in support of the As Above So Below EP (out last week on Omaha-based label, Saddle Creek Records), the band opened with its current single “Scattered Like Leaves,” then dipped surprisingly deep into its back-catalog, playing the title track of its 2002 EP November, encoring with its melancholy single “The Drinks We Drank Last Night” from its definitive 2003 album Hold On Love, and digging back to its 2001 self-titled debut for five songs. One of those, “Sleep” – which resurfaced on the soundtrack to The Devil Wears Prada a few years back – featured piano and vocal accompaniment from opening act Soko, whose set was impressive in its own right. Offsetting troubled, aching songs about heartbreak and addiction with a sprightly, playful stage persona – often entreating the crowd to sing along – she played an engaging set (and gave hugs to many audience members at the merch table afterwards). Check out a photo recap above, and see Azure Ray’s setlist below. Of note to XPN listeners – Taylor told the crowd that, while the band was in town, it visited Exton to record a Living Room Concert with Echoes, WXPN’s nationally-syndicated program spotlighting ambient, electronica and musical soundscapes. Their concert will broadcast on the October 8 edition of the show, and their interview will air in late October. Continue reading →
Touring behind their latest release, the As Above So Below EP, ethereal folk-pop duo Azure Ray premiered a new music video for their song “Scattered Like Leaves” at Paste Magazine today. Watch the video below, and catch the band on Monday September 10 when they perform at the side chapel of the First Unitarian Church. Ticket and information available here, listen to the EP (via Rolling Stone) here.