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“An Echo Chamber for the Soul”: Laura Stevenson brings Wheel to MilkBoy

Laura Stevenson | Photo by Chris Sikich | countfeed.tumblr.com
Laura Stevenson | Photo by Chris Sikich | countfeed.tumblr.com

There is a jangle, a soothing pop sensibility and something uncannily new encased in the sounds of Laura Stevenson. Last Friday she and her four bandmates turned MilkBoy into an echo chamber for the soul.

A voice both delicate and direct, Stevenson aims for the orchestral and the highly intimate on her 2013 masterwork Wheel. The crowd was hanging on her every syllable, often singing along to such catchy works as “Runner” and “Eleonora.” Continue reading →

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Little Big League at Johnny Brenda’s, Laura Stevenson at MilkBoy, Lily and Madeleine at World Cafe Live and more…

Little Big League
Little Big League | photo via Spin.com
Little Big League celebrates the release of Tropical Jinx at Johnny Brenda’s tonight.  The record marks a difficult several months for the band, and tonight’s show will be the last for a while as front-woman Michelle Zauner moves to the west coast.  The record, though, is Little Big League’s second overall and first for its new label Run For Cover Records.  The collection of cathartic personal songs explore themes of love, loss and growing-up over catchy, edgy indie rock.  Tickets and information for the 21+ release party can be found here.  Listen to the title track below.
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Download “Runner” by Laura Stevenson

Laura Stevenson | Photo courtesy of the artist.
Laura Stevenson | Photo courtesy of the artist.

Singer-songwriter Laura Stevenson was born and raised on Long Island with music in her blood. Her grandfather Harry Simeone a successful composer (“Little Drummer Boy”, “Do You Hear What I hear”) and her grandmother Margaret McCravy a singer for bandleader Benny Goodman. Stevenson’s a punk rocker dressed in singer-songwriter clothers with a unique point of view. Like Sharon Van Etten, Sarah Jaffe, and Thao Nguyen (of The Get Down Stay Down), she’s a refreshing take on the singer-songwriter genre; reflective, original and sassy. Continue reading →

Support for My Morning Download, from Flying Fish Brewing Company
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Philly needs an all-ages show space. TWOB Fest wants to make that happen.

The Hotelier | photo by Rachel Del Sordo
The Hotelier plays an all-ages show at The Fire. They headline TWOB Fest this weekend | photo by Rachel Del Sordo

DIY punk’s openness, accessibility and ability to survive (and thrive) hinges upon the existence of the right mix of venues. For the most part, Philadelphia has just that. The scene here is so nurturing that just about anyone can start a band, write a few songs, practice them and eventually, play a show. That conduciveness can almost seem passé sometimes just because we’re so acclimated to it, but the reality is that it’s just not like that in most cities. It takes a lot of hard work, some clever maneuvering, and the right mix of personalities to save a subculture from stagnation. In Philadelphia, that means a plethora of non-traditional, not-exactly-legal venues. Pennsylvania’s draconian alcohol laws, along with operating costs that are almost universally prohibitive for broke punks, mean that the vast majority of all-ages punk shows here are happening off the grid in musty basements, dirty kitchens and cavernous lofts, which makes for a uniquely wonderful, but perhaps unsustainable experience.

Daniel Anderson wants to create something sustainable. Since 2011, he and his roommate Ruben Polo have run local label Kat Kat Records, while booking shows both in their own West Philadelphia basement and at others across the city. They’ve also booked festivals of their own, beginning with Kat Kat Phest and culminating with the inaugural TWOB Fest this weekend, which will see local favorites like Kite Party, Marietta and By Surprise performing alongside out-of-town acts like Laura Stevenson, Sundials and The Hotelier to raise money for an all-ages, DIY show space in Philadelphia to hopefully open in the fall. Continue reading →

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The Week’s Best Free MP3s, incl. Khari Mateen, Plow United, Diplo

khar

Local musician / producer Khari Mateen tossed in a cover of George Gershwin’s “Summertime” to celebrate the season.  Mateen gives the Porgy & Bess aria a funky make-over with staccato string parts and chunky beats.  Fun fact – the lyrics to “Summertime” were written by DuBose Heyward, a relative of local singer-songwriter Heyward Howkins.  Stream and download the cover below.

Two Folkadelphia Sessions this week – first up, an endearing acoustic performance by Laura Stevenson, followed by a rocking & rolling set from Brooklyn’s Plates of Cake.  The spectrum of music represented by these two sessions is Folkadelphia’s mission in action, i.e. presenting a braod definition of what it means to be “folk music.”  Stream and download two tracks below and dig in to the rest here.

Continue reading →

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The Week So Far: 10 must-read stories on The Key (incl. David Wax Museum, Pill Friends, At Fest)

DWM

This week’s show announcements include The Last Bison and David Wax Museum at World Cafe Live, Hop Along and The Sidekicks at The First Unitarian Church, Man Man at Union Transfer [linklink and link]

Stream and download Laura Stevenson‘s Folkadelphia Session [link]

You gotta hear “Find a Way” by Elastic Bond this week [link]

Get a free download of Wild Ones‘ bubbly “Curse Over Me” from their debut LP [link]

Local dream-poppers Lockets share b-side “Girl” from their upcoming single release [link]

Steady Hands release new video, free download for “I Swear Like a Sailor” [link]

Get inside the studio with Jesse Baker Band in the video for “We’re Gonna Make It” [link]

Stream two new tracks from Pill Friends‘ new LP Blessed Suffering [link]

The Trocadero will screen the world premiere of Philadelphia Folk Festival documentary At Fest on 8/7 [link]

Explore Alex Savoth’s new direction with The New Black [link]

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Folkadelphia Session: Laura Stevenson

When we invited Laura Stevenson to record a session with us, we had already heard her latest, greatest, and third album, Wheel. What impressed us was not just the obvious musical growth from her previous two releases, but also the sincere emotional wallop that Wheel packs with each listen. In terms of cohesiveness, 2011′s Sit Resist is Elmer’s, Wheel is superglue, but cohesion does not have to mean two-dimensional. For these set of songs, we find Stevenson and her band (formerly the Cans) creating a dynamic backdrop for the singer’s equally active voice. The songs really do run the gamut from contemporary folk-rock to brash pop-punk, from achingly quiet bedroom confessionals to anthemic hooks and choruses. Each track offers something freshly imaginative and genuinely sincere – you can tell Stevenson is throwing restraint to the wind. It’s funny to note that her last record is titled Sit, Resist, a very passive pair of verbs, while Wheel evokes movement and motion. Stevenson is going forward as an artist and a person – these songs are her breadcrumbs on the path.

For her Folkadelphia Session, recorded on April 19th, Stevenson entered the studio by her lonesome, leaving her Can band for a brief rest before heading over to Milkboy Philly for the first show of their tour. Solo and stripped-down, she draws out the seriously stirring sentiments of her songs.

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Download “Tomorrow is Yesterday” from Field Mouse (playing MilkBoy Philly on 4/19)

FMouseBrooklyn dream pop duo Field Mouse premiered a new song on locally based music blog YVYNYL a couple of months ago.  “Tomorrow is Yesterday” is an upbeat, power pop spin on breezy shoegaze and is expected to be included on an upcoming full-length.  Fitting in well with Small Plates Records‘ tightly curated roster of indie electro / dream pop, Field Mouse released (and subsequently sold out of) their debut 7″ on the label and followed up the effort with a second 7″ on Lefse Records, which included a cover of the Twin Peaks’ theme on the B-side.  Field Mouse kick off a U.S. tour at MilkBoy Philly on Friday with Laura Stevenson; tickets and information can be found here.  Stream “Tomorrow is Yesterday” below and get a name-your-own-price download of the single on Field Mouse’s Bandcamp here.