At a West Philly gig earlier this spring, I watched local indie rock band Major Pursuit cover the Dixie Chicks immortal “Goodbye Earl,” an anthem about abuse, revenge and sisterhood. “If somebody hits you,” the band reasoned, “murder them.”
This is pretty much the aesthetic of the latest batch of songs singer-songwriter Katie Frank has cooked up over the past year. After debuting in 2012 with Covered Bridge Road and really stepping into the spotlight on 2014’s Counting Your Curses, the Elizabethtown native returned this spring with a revved up string of rocked up, honky tonk and blues inspired single about betrayal, scorn, emotional neglect and — in the case of “Through Your Window” — a search for a way out, pistol in hand. Continue reading →
Katie Frank continues her return to the mic with a new video for “Safety Net.” Last month the local singer/songwriter/bandleader announced plans to release her next EP All You Get From Greed later this year, sharing a pair of singles that marked a dive into a rockier, blues inspired sound. Sure enough, “Safety Net” picks up those cues for a gritty lesson in love.
If you thought Katie Frank‘s return single “Through Your Window” hinted at a departure from folk singer-songwriting, Frank’s latest track “Something I Can’t Deny” serves as a full-blown swan-dive into gritty, blues-rock territory.
While Frank’s past repertoire showcases singer-songwriter folk, alt-country, and pop rock, her new track, “Something I Can’t Deny,” effectively takes cues from each of those genres in a mature, tactful way. A heavy, steady bass line opens up the track, which builds with a distorted, fuzzy guitar riff. Frank’s clear, confident vocals carry the song, which conveys a total no-bullshit attitude. Continue reading →
Indie-folk group Rosu Lup are performing at Johnny Brenda’s tonight. The band will be celebrating the release of their new album Is Anything Real. Opening the show will be Hemming and Levee Drivers. More information can be found here.Continue reading →
Today Root Down in the Shadow released its latest Cover Club session with Philadelphia’s Katie Frank. The local singer played a cover of Joan Jett’s classic “I Love Rock n’ Roll,” accompanied by her bandmates Josh Werblun on acoustic guitar and Joe Bissiri on electric. The cover is a stripped-down version of the hit that really lets Frank’s voice shine, but sticks close enough to the Joan Jett original to show that Katie Frank & The Pheromones can battle any rock band. Watch the video below, and catch Frank this weekend at the Sundrop Music Festival at The Fire (check out the full lineup here).
“I feel so much more empowered when I’m onstage with the band,” says Katie Frank. “I can be timid when it comes to singing my songs.”
Timid. Hearing that word comes as a bit of a surprise since, in person, I’ve only seen Frank play with The Pheromones. With four other players and their loud amplifiers behind her, she’s energetic and sassy; her vocals are delivered with conviction and she doesn’t hesitate to bust her bandmates’ chops when the situation calls for it. That’s the antithesis of timid, right?
Then again, my first exposure to Frank was a solo acoustic video from Bands in the Backyard, and in it, we can see exactly what she’s talking about. Videographer Kyle Costill moves from side to side as she plays a sparse rendition of “False Alarm,” and the closer he brings the camera, the more she tries to look away. It’s almost like she’s uncomfortable with the whole idea of video in general, even as she plays her songs to the camera.
When I ask her about this, though, she laughs. She doesn’t deny it, but that isn’t quite how she sees things.
“Really, it’s just not as satisfying,” she says. “The rush I get from playing with the band, I don’t get that when I’m by myself.”
We’re grabbing beers at Bridgewaters with her longtime rhythm guitarist Josh Werblun, chatting about Curses and their respective paths that led to The Pheromones. Certainly its a catchy-as-heck name, kind of a sideways nod to Elvis Costello and The Attractions. But it also speaks to the collaborative nature of the group – of which Frank is the leader, but which she is wary of performing without.
She got started writing songs in 2005, when she was 15. At first she kept it mostly to herself, playing the occasional talent shows during her High School years in Elizabethtown, but never pursuing anything bigger. As a freshman at Temple in 2008, she took a pop songwriting class that provided a greater creative spark. The professor worked as a private songwriting coach, and Frank says her excited mom hired booked her some sessions with him. But the experience was dismaying.
“I’d drive in once a week, 90 minutes each way from E-town to Ambler, to work with him,” she said. “And he’d change two words in a song.”
Frustrated, she put her instrument away to focus on her behavioral health studies, and didn’t pick it up again until after graduation when she moved to West Philadelphia – which is where she met Werblun.
A guitarist and producer, Werblun has been involved in the local music community for over a dozen years – which is ridiculous when you consider he’s only 27. When he was 14, his parents took him to see his cousin Scott Bricklin play an early set at The Point with 4 Way Street – Bricklin’s supergroup with local XPN favorites Jim Boggia, Ben Arnold and Joseph Parsons – and the show made him realize his path in life was music. Continue reading →
She started out last year as a solo songwriter with an acoustic guitar, but it didn’t take Philly’s Katie Frank long to round up a band of rootsy country-rock players. The Elizabethtown native (and a therapist at an adult day center when she’s not onstage) began working with a variety of local players last spring, from Philly mainstay Jim Boggia to guitarist and producer Josh Werblun. As the band took shape, Frank dubbed them The Pheromones, and they add a rumbling, rambling Americana overdrive to her contemplative compositions. Today, the lineup consists of Jon McNally on drums, Kris Pirnat on bass and Kevin Killen on electric guitar in addition to Werblun and Frank; their tight and lively playing gives her confident vocals an opportunity to shine. This year the band wrapped up production on their debut LP Counting Your Curses, due out in August, and next Wednesday, July 17th, they take the stage at MilkBoy to open for the rather like-minded Sallie Ford & The Sound Outside. Get a taste of what’s in store with this week’s studio session, which you can stream and download below, and get info and tickets for the show here.
Support for The Key Studio Sessions, from Dogfish Head
On their way to SXSW in March, Philly’s Thee, Idea Men stopped by WRVU in Nashville, TN with tourmates Katie Frank & The Pheromones, Dan Orlando and WC Lindsay. The group of local musicians performed a cover of Amy Winehouse’s “Valerie” live on the Vanderbilt University radio station, with Orlando on keys and Lindsay behind the camera. Check out the footage below and see Thee, Idea Men live at MilkBoy on June 13th. Dan Orlando will be at Kennett Flash on June 1st. Tickets and information for both shows can be found here.
Local indie group Turning Violet Violet play Kung Fu Necktie tonight. The Key Studio Session alums carve out chamber alt-rock songs on the fringe of art-rock that seem bathed in a purple glow, though that might just be residual effects of their band name. Either way, the songs on Turning Violet Violet’s debut full-length Double Cure are swathe-y, sweeping compositions that strike all the right feelings chords. Tickets and information for tonight’s 21+ show with TeamMate and Donora can be found here. Revisit Turning Violet Violet’s Key Session here and watch their video for “Cold Bread” below.