The first time I ever saw Lushlife live, main man Raj Haldar apologized for “all the nerdy shit I’ve got going on up here,” gesturing to his array of samplers and synths. Dude can spit a fierce verse, but he’s also a rapper who can deeply geek out from a production standpoint, which is why it makes complete sense to see him perform surrounded by snazzy synths and compressors for the Moog Sound Lab series. Continue reading →
Local experimental jazz composer Joshua Stamper is releasing a remix of his newest album, the skin, the sea, the sound entitled a righter rain will fall. Here’s the catch: he’s releasing it in pieces, one song a week. The project kicked off last week when he released a righter rain will fall, an incredible remix by Troy Herion that compressed the full length of the album into just 4:53. The album also features remixes by Chris Ward from Pattern Is Movement, Anthony LaMarca (who has played with St. Vincent and The War On Drugs) and Philadelphia expat Matt Davis. Continue reading →
Philly Rapper and DJ Lushlife is currently finishing production of a new album, the followup to his epic “Toynbee Suite”, he’s released a free download of a live concert that he recorded in Bratislava, Slovakia, in 2012.
Here’s what he says about it:
Last year, I did a crazy one-month tour in Europe before I was even finished with Plateau Vision. I wanted to feel some of the music in a live setting before the album was wrapped. There were weird festival dates with Handsome Furs and No Age in far off places like Skopje, Macedonia. I played a tiny heavy metal bar in Sofia, Bulgaria, too. It was some wild shit. Anyway, here’s a full-on mastered live recording from the May 8, 2011 date in Bratislava. At the very least, it should be an interesting artifact.
The rickety van piloted by Philly psych-thrash outfit Ruby the Hatchet rolled into Austin just a few hours before its first South By Southwest gig last week. Cutting it close, for sure, but the band was just happy to arrive.
“We broke down,” guitarist John Scarperia explained as he set up for the End Records showcase at LIT Lounge. “We were stuck in Tennessee for two days.”
Talk about a setback. I ask if they missed any tour shows on the trip down. Scarperia laughs, then says “We didn’t play any. But it was fun, all part of the adventure, right?
The band dished a raucous set of its heady, heavy rock to a modest but appreciative crowd – which included singer-songwriter Nicole Atkins, a longtime friend of Hatchet frontwoman Jillian Taylor. The next day, it rocked Thrasher Mag’s unofficial Deathmatch showcase, and spent the rest of the weekend mingling with the music-devouring masses. Overall, it was a positive experience, and even culminated in Taylor getting a new tattoo (a hatchet, of course).
Ruby the Hatchet was one of dozens of locals that made the trek to Austin this year. Musicians of all styles and degrees of renown represented Philly at SXSW. There were known names like rapper Spank Rock, who played an energized set to a buck wild crowd at the Boyz Noize showcase at The Majestic on Thursday, and alt-bluesman G. Love who played the 18th Floor of the Hilton Garden Inn the same night. There were emerging artists, like folk singer Vikesh Kapoor and punk power trio Amanda X, or SXSW vets like rapper Lushlife, heavy psych heads Creepoid, and dream punks Nothing, who played a 2 a.m. set on a pedestrian footbridge.
“I feel like SXSW serves as a hub for discovery,” says Philly rapper Chill Moody, who I caught during his showcase at the Amped Austin lounge on Saturday afternoon. “I met a bunch of musicians and professionals in the music industry in just one week. Built some strong connections that will hopefully help me with the next steps in my career.”
For Moody, who is used to feeding off the love of the hometown fan base he’s cultivated over the past few years – he headlines venues like The TLA and Union Transfer locally – it was an opportunity to perform to complete strangers in smaller rooms, and win them over. The Amped show featured his right hand man Beano, a charismatic and occasionally comedic R&B singer, hopping offstage and dancing in the midst of the crowd, to the delight of many Instagram-snappers.
“It was a good chance to show a different audience exactly what you can do,” said Moody.
Downstairs at the same venue, electronic rock duo City Rain debuted songs from their new Songs From a High School Dance LP, due out in late April. Again, the crowd was (with the exception of myself) strangers, but people fed off singer / songwriter Ben Runyuan’s relentless energy, particularly on the driving anthem “Waiting on a Dream.”
“This is our last showcase,” Runyan said. “So I’m just throwing everything I got into this.” Continue reading →
Upper Darby art-punk outfit mewithoutYou appears at Union Transfer tonight with post-hardcore group Touche Amore. mewithoutYou released their latest album, Ten Stories, in May of 2012. The 11-song album combines lead singer Aaron Weiss’ famously creative puns and plays on lyricism to construct a story plot as complicated as the guitar riffs and other instrumentation that make up the tunes. The songs tells the survival tales of a fox, elephant, bear and onion boy (hint: bonus track) – or more specifically, the circus animals and acts involved in a fictional train crash in 1878. Hear the band tell the creative story tonight. The show starts at 7 p.m. and tickets are $19 at the door.
Shaking Through is Weathervane Music’s experimental recording project. Ten times each year a guest curator brings musicians into Fishtown’s Miner Street Recording to create a new song from start to finish over the course of two days. Past collaborators include Hop Along, Purling Hiss, Strand of Oaks, Hezekiah Jones and more. Check out all of the episodes here and watch Lushlife’s November 2013 installment below. Tickets and information for the 21+ kick-off show can be found here.
Philly beatmaker RJD2 played a homecoming show on Friday night before a colorful and hula-hoop-bearing crowd at Union Transfer. On the tail end of a tour in support of his 2013 outing More Is Than Isn’t, Ramble John Krohn made the Union Transfer show an all-Philly affair, with hip-hop impressionist Lushlife opening the show heavy on new material and DJs Aaron Ruxbin and Jack Deezl of Actual Records spinning in between sets. Check out photos from the show in the gallery below.
Shaking Through premiered their latest recording this week, a collaboration spearheaded by Lushlife‘s Raj Haldar with several other local musicians. The end result, Toynbee Suite, is a 10+ minute hip hop symphony circling the mysterious Toynbee Tiles that are inlaid throughout hte city. Watch the Shaking Through episode here.
Local musician Chris Kasper brought his band in for this week’s Key Studio Session. Kasper recently released his fourth solo record Bagabones and performed tracks from that LP for this session. Joining him for these takes are Phil D’Agostino, Kiley Ryan, Jerry Bernhardt and Daniel “Scrappy” Bower. Check out “Don’t Want to Lose Your Way” below and get the full set here.
On Tuesday night, Philly rapper Lushlife (aka Raj Haldar) appeared on the WXPN Philly Local Show to premiere his new Toynbee Suite, an eleven-minute, four-movement hiphop symphony based on the mysterious Toynbee tiles around Philadelphia and around the world. Below, listen to an archive of his interview on the show, and get a free download the track – the latest from Weathervane Music’s Shaking Through series.
To dig deeper, read Marc Snitzer’s interview with Haldar here, and watch the Shaking Through documentary about the song after the jump. Continue reading →
Toynbee tiles- those clandestine, ceramic squares marked with crudely scrawled chunks of some lost conspiracy manifesto- are everywhere. Ever walk past one? They’re all over Philadelphia. And Chicago. And Buenos Ares. Hundreds of tiles have been placed around the world over the past 20 years by an anonymous tile-placer, more often than not stepped over, torn apart by civic management or otherwise weathered by two decades of simply existing. The tiles don’t draw too much attention to themselves; there’s no Banksy-level gawking involved, but they have left many folks simply puzzled.
“They’re definitely esoteric. They’re cryptic,” says a puzzled Raj Haldar, i.e. Lushlife, between sips of coffee and behind sunglasses in a sleepy South Philly café. (It’s 6 p.m. in November, by the way.) He’s explaining what about the Toynbee tiles drew him to write an 11-minute, multi-movement rap song called the Toynbee Suite.
“I think, like a lot of people, they just piqued curiosity in me. I’ve been walking around town over the last decade and just had very much a passing interest in them,” he says. “That sense of unknown origin gave me a lot of scope to build a narrative of what was behind the tiles. That openness was fruitful for the creative process, rather than writing about a historical fact where you’re limited to structure.”
The Toynbee Suite has dragged Haldar out of his creative comfort zone in a handful of ways. Aside from fixating on a particular, tangible subject matter (“I usually don’t rap about something this specific. My rhymes are more stream of consciousness,” he says), the sheer scope of the project forced the 30-year-old hip-hop artist to work with a slew of outside musicians and producers (“With the Lushlife records, I do absolutely everything. It’s completely DIY”) in a pithy 48 hours (“A three-minute song usually takes me like five months to write and record”). It’s operatic in its construction, divided into four movements, each based on a line from the most seminal and ubiquitous of the Toynbee tiles, the one that reads something like:
IN KUBRICK’S 2001
ON PLANET JUPITER
Recorded at Miner Street Studios in Fishtown, the Toynbee Suite is the latest in a series of installments from Shaking Through, a project from Weathervane Music that challenges musicians to write and record a song in two days, documenting the process along the way. Haldar’s might be one of the most ambitious Shaking Through episodes to date, although he had written the bulk of the Toynbee Suite months in advance. “Even with all that planning, the 48 hours was just so packed,” he says. “The song, in the multi-track, has over 140 tracks. It’s unreal.”