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Unlocked: Reflect on life and death in Hop Along’s “Happy To See Me”

Frances Quinlan | photo by Rachel Del Sordo | racheldelsordo.tumblr.com
Frances Quinlan | photo by Rachel Del Sordo | racheldelsordo.tumblr.com

One of the most powerful moments on Hop Along‘s 2012 album Get Disowned is one of its quietest.

On the second side of a record filled with emotional, cathartic ragers and explosive youth anthems sits the melancholic, haunting ballad called “Trouble Found Me.” Like much of the album, the song abstractly relates the story of a character with schizophrenia – a family friend of frontwoman Frances Quinlan – and follows as he struggles through life, is pushed through hospitals and is generally failed by the healthcare system. “Trouble Found Me” is a point of aching realization of all this: as much for Quinlan the third-person narrator as it is for the character and even the listener who might not know about the story line at play.

This lyric in particular drives it home:

Once I thought being lost was only a part of being young / But the old man in the bed next to your cot was screaming louder than anyone / Saying mama mama mama, little white mice run across my bed while the nurses play poker outside / Oh my God, how is the other guy? I can’t believe someday I’m gonna die.

Quinlan sings that last line – “I can’t believe someday I’m gonna die” – in a whisper, matter-of-factly acknowledging our collective mortality not with fear but rather a resigned uncertainty. In the distance, a slide guitar moans. Is there a greater significance to this aimless trip we’re all on? My exit could be a long ways off, or it could be this week, and it leads me to pretty much the same place in either case. All those questions that keep you up at night, you know?

Hop Along’s excellent sophomore album Painted Shut is out today on Saddle Creek Records, and the band celebrates this Saturday night with a headlining show at Union Transfer. As the week unfolds, you’ll doubtless read a lot out there in the musical-journalistic space about what a bold record it is, how it’s unflinching and energetic, how it unpacks heavy ideas with equally heavy volume and energy. All of those points are absolutely accurate, and we’ll be weighing in on them all week long as we explore the album in Unlocked, The Key’s recurring spotlight on new and significant releases from Philadelphia-area artists.

But for me, again, the most powerful moment on Painted Shut might just be its quietest. Continue reading →

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Stream Hop Along’s highly-anticipated new record Painted Shut

Hop Along | Photo by Shervin Lainez
Hop Along | Photo by Shervin Lainez

The wait is over. Hop Along‘s eagerly anticipated Painted Shut just went up for streaming today via Spin Magazine, and wow. Filled with the offbeat rock and roll goodness that makes up their unique sound, the band hits hard on hits like “Waitress” and “Sister Cities.” But the record also explores new waters and a solid mix of moods, all punctuated by frontwoman Frances Quinlan’s passionate delivery. Continue reading →

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All or Nothing: Listen to Hop Along’s explosive “Texas Funeral” from Painted Shut

Hop Along | Photo by Shervin Lainez
Hop Along | Photo by Shervin Lainez

The one thing that has drawn me to listen to Hop Along for hours, frequently on repeat, is Frances Quinlan’s open and honest lyricism. There’s nothing hidden under fluffy words; it’s just the raw, gritty vocals that channel the everyday internal battles.

Hop Along has been pouring out new tracks off their upcoming album Painted Shut these past few weeks – listen to “Powerful Man” here and “Waitress” here – and their latest, “Texas Funeral,” premiered today through Stereogum. The rhythm section throughout the song is complex, locked in and thrashing out, putting the band’s talent in combining words and sound in the forefront. Continue reading →

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Take a nice big bite: The Mountain Goats, Hop Along & Young Guv on the Indie Rock Hit Parade

The Mountain Goats | Photo by Lissa Gottwals
The Mountain Goats | Photo by Lissa Gottwals

If you’re looking for action, look no further than tonight’s Indie Rock Hit Parade on XPN. Starting at 11pm, it’s a non-stop, two-hour showcase of some seriously great new releases (with a couple of old favorites thrown in for good measure). The centerpiece of tonight’s show is our Weekly Album Spotlight, where we’ll be hearing a few tracks from Beat The Champ, the new release from The Mountain Goats. Sure, this is their 15th full-length, but John Darnielle and company have become reinvigorated over the past few years, amping up production value and honing the wry and personal lyrics that have become the band’s trademark. Even if you’re not a fan of professional wrestling, you won’t be able to resist the self-examination and reflection (and hooks) to be found on Beat The Champ. Aside from that, we’ve got a stacked lineup of new tunes to get to, including a few of these.

Continue reading →

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Love on the Streets Fest is coming to Paine’s Park in May

Radiator Hospital | via Facebook
Radiator Hospital | via Facebook

Two passions of this city (music and skateboarding) are colliding for a day at the Love on the Streets Festival at Paine’s Park come Saturday, May 9.

The LOTS Fest boasts an awesome local lineup, with Radiator Hospital, Dogs on Acid, Moon Bounce, W.C. Lindsay, Jack DeezlClique and Mr. Sampson all taking the stage, not to mention performances by the the Philadelphia School of Circus Arts as well as skaters from Powerfulnailya and the Philadelphia Skateboard Academy. Continue reading →

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Hop Along makes a powerful statement with “Powerful Man”

Hop Along in the studio | photo by Jonathan Minto
Hop Along in the studio | photo by Jonathan Minto

Last week Hop Along premiered “Waitress,” the first single from their upcoming album Painted Shut, and it was an immediate favorite within the Philly scene and beyond. With open arms and honest lyricism comes the second single from Painted Shut, that delves into some darker subject matter.

In “Powerful Man,” singer / guitarist Frances Quinlan relates the personal struggle of witnessing a child being abused by his father and freezing up in the moment to take a stand. ”He said ‘she’s not gonna help you,’” Quinlan sings on the refrain. Continue reading →

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Unsung Folkadelphia #1: Jason Molina and Songs: Ohia’s Didn’t It Rain

Jason Molina, courtesy of Secretly Canadian.
Jason Molina, courtesy of Secretly Canadian.
From the 'Didn't It Rain' session, Jennie Bedford's lyric work sheet to "Steve Albini's Blues"
From the ‘Didn’t It Rain’ session, Jennie Bedford’s lyric work sheet to “Steve Albini’s Blues”

Welcome to the first chapter of Folkadelphia’s new project that we’ve gotten in the habit of calling Unsung.

In the history of music, there are many unsung artists and albums that we firmly clutch close to our hearts. These artists create the kind of music that we wish other people knew more about or cared more deeply for. We wish that we could share with others our exact feelings about how we’ve been touched and affected by some musicians. We want to show them the light. We want to sing these musicians’ unsung song for everyone to hear.

With this series, we hope we can provide a way for people to connect with music that has been influential beyond its commercial impact and, perhaps, appeal. It’s never too late to find a new favorite band and honor their legacy and discography.

For this first part, we focused on what has become one of my favorite albums: Songs: Ohia’s Didn’t It Rain, which was recorded in Philadelphia in 2002. Continue reading →

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The War on Drugs and Hop Along will tour together this spring

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The War on Drugs photo by Mark Schaffer | Hop Along photo by Rachel Barrish

We love seeing our favorite Philly musicians come together. This afternoon, The War on Drugs announced a stretch of spring U.S. tour dates in support of its universally acclaimed 2014 LP Lost in the Dream, and joining them for a two-week run is Hop Along, who’s poised to release its latest record via Saddle Creek this spring. Continue reading →

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Hop Along, Thin Lips and Roses rang in 2015 in a big way at Johnny Brenda’s

Hop Along | Photo by John Vettese
Hop Along | Photo by John Vettese

To say that Johnny Brenda’s has been crushing its New Year’s Eve game in recent years would be an understatement. After an epic 2012 with War on Drugs and a blazing 2013 with Screaming Females, last night the Fishtown venue had Hop Along bid farewell to 2014 with an explosive performance for a sold-out crowd. There was champagne, a 50s pop cover, an onstage engagement ceremony, the debut of two new songs and a whole lot of cathartic singing along.  Continue reading →

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The Key’s Year-End Mania: Bruce Warren’s Best of Philly Music 2014

Amanda X: Tiff Yoon, Cat Park, Kat Bean | Photo by Peter Murray | petermurrayphotography.com
Amanda X: Tiff Yoon, Cat Park, Kat Bean | Photo by Peter Murray | petermurrayphotography.com

Year-End Mania is the Key’s survey of the things below the surface that made 2014 awesome. In this installment, XPN Program Director Bruce Warren weighs in on the 2014 Philly music scene.

We thought 2013 was a fantastic year for the Philly music scene, however 2014 proved to be even better. Continue reading →