Unlocked: Philly’s Lantern on collaboration, confidence and meeting itself for the first time

intheparkWhen Philly’s Lantern first began to release music in 2010, singer and guitarist Zachary Devereux Fairbrother used the moniker to expunge a cache of lo-fi, home-recorded bluesy solo recordings. This was music he made in the wake of his previous band’s split (he fronted Montreal psych collective Omon Ra II), before he moved to Philly with partner Emily Robb to launch Lantern as a functioning band. Two and a half years and a handful of tours later, and it is releasing its debut long-player Rock ‘N’ Roll Rorschach – its first collection of music recorded collaboratively – next Tuesday on Sophomore Lounge Records. The release party happens tonight at Johnny Brenda’s, we’ve featured the album all week on The Key’s Unlocked series, and this afternoon, we check in with Robb and Fairbrother to chat about the growth, changes and adventures Lantern has seen in its lifespan so far.

The Key: A lot of what you’ve done up to this point has been either spit-cassette or 7”’s or EP’s – this is the longest thing you’ve released. What’s it like plotting out something of that scope versus something that’s only two or three songs?

Zachary Devereux Fairbrother: Before, it always sort of felt like we releasing sketches, almost. They were very rough recordings, and someone would be like “wanna put it on tape?” and we’d be like “yeah sure.” So we’re piecing things together, and there’s definitely more of a transparency – which is kind of interesting with tape culture, and lo-fi kind of stuff – transparency between where it’s created and when the people hear it. It’s very natural, like you’re getting the raw footage of something. For this, we wanted to branch out in a new direction, going into a studio, and challenging ourselves. The studio was a great eye-opener. We learned a lot about what we could do with sound. It was fun conceiving this record. A lot more was on the line, a lot more was at stake. We were paying to do it, and we wanted it to sound really good, and there was this added pressure.

Emily Robb: Also, because we had never recorded in a real studio before, we didn’t really know what to expect. I remember recording our first song and then going in and listening to it in the mixing room, and being like “whoa, this is what we sound like when we’re recorded well?” [laughs] It was like re-meeting ourselves. Also, with the LP, it was definitely a longer, more played out journey than the EPs are. Especially because with the EP previous to the album, Zach pretty much wrote all the music and did all the track-listing, whereas with the album, I wrote songs, we worked on some together, some separately. It was just a major collaboration. Deciding how to mix them and how to order them and all that was much more of collaboration, which I think probably takes longer than if one person just does it. I think it was just a bigger thing.

TK: Emily, your involvement is notable on “Evil Eye”, a song where you take lead. How did you come to take lead on more of these songs?

ER: I just wanted to. I wanted to write more, I wanted to play guitar more. Previously, on all our EP’s, I pretty much solely play bass. So I just wanted to do my thing more. Zach actually wrote “Evil Eye” and did a demo of it with himself singing.

ZDF: It was just sort of in the studio we we’re like “well, why don’t you try singing it?” and it was like “ok, that sounds cool.”

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The Week So Far: 11 must-read stories on The Key (incl. Laura Jane Grace, Vacationer, 2nd Street Festival)

Photo By Abi Reimold |
Photo By Abi Reimold |

Vacationer drop in for a soothing Key Studio Session that includes free downloads and a video by BITBY [link]

Unlocked takes a look at Lantern‘s new Rock ‘N’ Roll Rorschach LP [link]

The Low Anthem, Banned Books, Denison Witmer and more tapped for this year’s 2nd Street Festival in Northern Liberties [link]

Stream and pre-order Psychic Teens‘ COME ahead of the goth-punks’ record release show at Long in the Tooth on August 9th [link]

Watch Pete Donnelly‘s new video for “Face the Bird” from his upcoming full-length of the same name [link]

Emmet Drueding and Grave Goods collaborate on “Area 51” and release the track as a free download [link]

Local bassist Phil D’Agostino has release a new solo track called “Footballs” off of his forthcoming Inlets LP [link]

Download The Downtown Club‘s “Dance” from a new compilation of local bands [link]

Enter to win tickets to see Against Me!‘s Laura Jane Grace at MilkBoy on August 10th [link]

Sean Hoots will create original music for Shakespeare in Clark Park’s production of The Tempest this month [link]

Members of Dashboard Confessional and The Narrative bring their new Twin Forks project to Folkadelphia [link]


Unlocked: Watch Lantern tear up various Philly stages in our video roundup (playing Johnny Brenda’s Friday)

LanternA thing about Lantern, the band we’ve been spotlighting all week on Unlocked. Sure they make solid recordings, and their new one – Rock ‘N’ Roll Rorschach – is easily their best. But they can play. You could append that to say “play circles around” plus whomever you’d like to compare. Seriously – they’re tight, they’re charismatic, they high-precision and unhinged at the same time. Plus, if you’re lucky enough to catch them on a show with drummer Chris Wilson (of Ted Leo’s Pharmacists) or saxophone player Dave Fishkin, it’s an all-out throwdown. Below, we’ve gathered a collection of videos from the band’s Philly appearances this year. Documented by YouTube videographers Pilgrim’s Progress and Live Philly Concerts, we see Lantern playing Kung Fu Necktie in January, opening for Pissed Jeans at Underground Arts in February and at Johnny Brenda’s in April. Watch them and get amped to see Lantern at JBs again this Friday for the Rock ‘N’ Roll Rorschach release show.

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Unlocked: The Key’s review of Rock ‘N’ Roll Rorschach by Lantern

lantern.4Let’s try a bit of free-association. Loud amplifiers and long hair. Crackling vocals, screaming voices. Blues riffs in B, watch me for the changes, try and keep up. Howlin’ Wolf and John Lee Hooker. The sound of a tom drum, a bari-saxophone, a bass and a cymbal colliding, with a handclap on the downbeat. These are the things that kick “Evil Eye” into motion (okay, I’m not entirely sure it’s in B, I just liked the Back to the Future quote), and with it the debut long player from Philadelphia’s Lantern roars out the tracks.

The band is known around these parts for being hard working and hard touring. They’ve criscrossed the country at least three times since we first heard of them a couple years ago. Their discography, as we mentioned yesterday, is a lengthy assemblage of limited-run, lo-fi, home-recorded singles or three-track EPs. It’s a collection showing the affinity that partners (creative and otherwise) Zachary Devereux Fairbrother and Emily Robb have for blues music, early rock ‘n’ roll, and the lore that goes along with it.

The new Rock ‘n’ Roll Rorschach, out next week on Sophomore Lounge Records, shows what those fasciations sound like when taken out of the basement. With a dramatic increase in production value (and a generous retention of sonic grit), these songs are big, booming, aggressive and unruly. This album is Lantern realizing the potential of its vision.  Continue reading →


Unlocked: Download “Evil Eye” from Lantern’s Rock ‘N’ Roll Rorschach

LanternPhilly garage-blues act Lantern is about to take a huge leap forward. After a hearty discography of self-releases, limited-run cassette singles and EPs – mostly gritty and defiantly lo-fi in nature – the band is about to release its debut full-length, Rock ‘N’ Roll Rorschach, on Sophomore Lounge records. While maintaining the volume and grit of the rock and roll underbelly it explores, the album steps aggressively into hi-fi production and arrangements – which includes a tasty baritone sax on the song “Evil Eye.” All week we’re exploring the album on Unlocked, The Key’s regular series on new and significant releases from Philadelphia artists. Later in the week we’ll an album review, a live chronology and an interview with bandmates Emily Robb and Zachary Deveraux Fairbrother. Today, it’s a download of the track we were just talking about, “Evil Eye.” Below, you can download it all week courtesy of the band, and make sure crank your speakers – Robb rules hard on the lead vocals. Check back every day this week for more on Rock ‘N’ Roll Rorschach.


The Week So Far: 12 must-read stories on The Key (incl. The Districts, Mavis Staples, Birdie Busch and more)


Miles Davis would have celebrated his 87th birthday on Sunday.  Check out some live footage of the legendary trumpet player’s 1970 show at the old Electric Factory [link]

Diplo curated a summer playlist featuring James Blake, Daft Punk, Laura Mvula and more for Vulture [link]

XPN’s Gotta Hear Song of the Week is Mavis Staples‘ cover of the Funkadelic track “Can You Get to That” [link]

Singer-songwriter / fiddler Sara Watkins recorded a session for Folkadelphia [link]

Birdie Busch will be releasing her recent PledgeMusic-funded album on vinyl and donating proceeds to the IHM Literacy Center in West Philadelphia [link]

Dock Street Beer Run announces the line-up for their June 9th 5k / music festival event, including On the Water, Norwegian Arms and Post Sun Times [link]

Sonja Sofia is profiled in the latest installment of Kettle Pot Tracks’ On the Hill series [link]

Local power rockers Lantern unveiled a new song called “Evil Eye” and the cover art for their upcoming LP Rock ‘N’ Roll Rorschach [link]

Watch a video of The Districts performing at The Porch at 30th Street Station yesterday for XPN’s Philly Local Busker series [link]

Folk duo Arborea shared a new video for their song “Pale Horse Phantasm”; they’ll be at the Highwire Gallery on June 9th for a Folkadelphia Presents show [link]

The Photon Band is back with a new album and a show at Johnny Brenda’s on July 6th [link]

Newish Philly outfit Divers were the subject of this week’s Key Studio Session [link]


New Music / Badass Album Art: Lantern’s “Evil Eye” From Rock ‘N’ Roll Rorschach (playing Johnny Brenda’s 7/5)

lantern.4After a long run of limited-run cassette releases and lo-fi 7″ singles, Philly power trio Lantern is getting ready to release its full-length debut on Sophomore Lounge Records – and it sounds great. Today the band premiered the track “Evil Eye” at Impose Magazine, and the Jeff Zeigler-produced jam makes good on the overdrive-pedal boogie we saw at Underground Arts this winter when the band opened for Pissed Jeans. Bassist-guitarist Emily Robb takes lead vocal, with thundering drums and a horn section, and it carries hints of John Spencer Blues Explosion, Chuck Berry and John Lee Hooker. The album will be called Rock ‘N’ Roll Rorschach, it’s out this summer, and it features a playful, wildly occult album cover (pictured above) photographed by Alyssa Robb and art-directed by the band. The band celebrates the release of Rock ‘N’ Roll Rorschach at Johnny Brenda’s on July 5th, tickets and information are available here.


Tonight’s Concert Picks: Lantern at Kung Fu Necktie, Here We Go Magic at Underground Arts, Carsie Blanton at MilkBoy and more

Photo by Kyle Costill
Photo by Kyle Costill

Local rock n’ roll trio Lantern will bring the noise to Kung Fu Necktie tonight. The amount of music the band has is immense, with nine releases available on their Bandcamp; the latest, Dream Mine, was released in May 2012. The band delves into both the psychedelic realm of rock, as well as its ripping and visceral nature with their heavy feedback and raw vocals. Dream Mine even goes as far as exploring the depth and haunting nature of ambient noise, and the crowd will surely be bobbing their heads furiously, as well as discovering a side of rock they may not have heard before. Tickets and information with Adult Content and Split Red can be found here. Below, check out the song “Out Of Our Heads” from Dream Mine.

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The Week So Far: 11 must-read stories on The Key (incl. Amos Lee, SXSW and Purling Hiss)

Photo: Gary Miller/FilmMagic
Photo: Gary Miller/FilmMagic

Dave Grohl gave an inspiring and insightful Keynote Speech at last week’s SXSW [link]

Cursive and The Good Life frontman Tim Kasher came to Folkadelphia in his solo acoustic capacity for this week’s live session [link]

Mondays’ My Morning Download featured L.A. five piece The Lonely Wild and their track “Everything You Need” [link]

Florida / NYC duo The Saint Johns were highlighted for XPN’s Gotta Hear Song of the Week with their song “Your Head and Your Heart” [link]

Barenaked Ladies, Ben Folds Five and Guster announced a date at The Mann for July 18th [link]

Purling Hiss are the focus of Unlocked this week; their major label debut Water On Mars was released on Tuesday through Drag City [link]

Philly bands Vacationer, Grandchildren, Lantern and more invaded Austin for SXSW with an impressive showing of hard work and talent [link]

Appel Farm announced a line-up for the June 1st festival that includes Brandi Carlile, Low Cut Connie and Delta Rae [link]

The Philly Drum Project will celebrate its first anniversary at World Cafe Live on April 23rd [link]

Get an exclusive listen of Amos Lee covering “Some Days Are Diamonds” from The Music Is You: A Tribute to John Denver [link]

Slingshot Dakota‘s positive, upbeat pop / punk songs shine in this week’s Key Session [link]


10 bands we loved at SXSW

Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds | Photo by John Vettese
Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds | Photo by John Vettese

Last week at the SXSW Music Conference in Austin, Texas, The Key editor, John Vettese, and I saw a collective 58 bands in 3 days. Here are ten that stood out:

Sir Sly – This five piece from Los Angeles have a confident and charismatic front man, grooves and hooks galore.

Little Green Cars – Dublin’s Little Green Cars charmed us with their gorgeous harmonies and finely honed control of rock and roll dynamics. Lead singers Stevie Appleby and Faye O’Rourke are like the Buckingham/Nicks of Ireland.

PAWS – This three piece from Glasgow play very catchy, garagey, fuzzy, guitar driven pop-rock. Just the way we like it.

Nick Cave kicked off NPR Music’s SXSW shows on Wednesday night at Stubb’s with full force. He plays tonight at the Keswick. Continue reading →