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The Key Studio Sessions: Modern Inventors

ModInvsModern Inventors impressed a broad cross-section of the Philly music scene last year. They naturally had the pedigree to win over the singer-songwriter crowd – singer-guitarist Matt Kass’ old band The Brakes was a known name, after all. But their soulful harmonies drew in listeners from the pop realm, and their skill as players and songwriters attracted indie rock ears. Not too long after a sold-out show at Johnny Brenda’s celebrating the release of Trains and Aeroplanes in December, the band found itself in our studio performing a set of mostly unreleased new songs. The excellent, rambling rhythms of “Goodbye, Northbrook Drive” were the only familiar sounds we heard – they instead took the opportunity to lay down some new cuts that show their sound reaching even broader. “Old Habits,” filmed by the folks at Out of Town Films, is a mellow smash of 70s proportions. “This Sign” is a snappy, country-fied Wilco-style number, while “The Deep End” has a sytlish and expressive Jeff Buckley thing going on. And set-closer “Selfish Generation” would play well on present day pop radio. Download and listen to it all below, and keep an ear out for more from the Inventors this spring.

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Get a sneak peek at Modern Inventors’ Key Session in this Out of Town Films video of “Old Habits”

MIsWe’re very excited for this week’s Key Studio Session with Modern Inventors, the Philly pop-rock five-piece whose debut LP Trains and Aeroplanes wowed an impressive cross-section of Philly music fans last winter. It’s not just the songs they played – even though a generous helping of promising new material shows their band’s range stretching even further – but also the visuals. This session was conducted in collaboration with our friends at Out of Town Films, who decked the studio out in Christmas lights and captured the warmth of the Inventors’ new tune “Old Habits.” Check out the video below, listen to the session in its entirety on WXPN tonight (88.5 FM in Philly, XPN.org anywhere else) and check back here tomorrow morning to download it.

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Modern Inventors’ smooth rock warms up the Free at Noon crowd (photos, audio, setlist)

Philly soul-rock four-piece Modern Inventors played a short set to warm up the Free at Noon crowd today before headliner Ellie Goulding took the stage. Their album Trains and Aeroplanes was released in December. Check out photos of the performance in the gallery above, read the setlist below, and listen to their set in its entirety here (via the WXPN media player). Continue reading →

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Interview: Matt Kass of Modern Inventors on building Trains and Aeroplanes

They may be sneaking their debut full-length Trains and Aeroplanes quietly in during the last week of the year, but really, it’s just setting Modern Inventors up for a great 2013. The band had been plugging away this year, covering McCartney songs and appearing on the air with Helen Leicht, opening shows for Ben Solee at the TLA and Cliff Hills at World Cafe Live at the Queen, and sneaking up to Brooklyn for a Backyard Brunch session.With the album out, we get to hear the full range of a group that started out as a collaboration between singer-songwriters Matt Kass and Josh Benus. I caught up with Kass over e-mail today to get the details on Trains and Aeroplanes and more.

The Key: You perform often as an acoustic duo or trio, but the album has a lot of range – there’s big rock moments that might be unexpected, depending on how people were introduced to the Modern Inventors. Did you want the record to stretch your sound, or was the bigger rock-ness always in the cards?

Matt Kass: I think we’ve always wanted to have a full band, and the duo and trio thing is just a way for us to perform in situations where a band normally wouldn’t be appropriate. It’s great for support sets, because we can come in and play in whatever configuration the headliner wants. But ultimately, when we’re writing these songs, we’re thinking of the full band arrangement. I think as we play more and do more of our own shows, you’ll find us playing with a full band.

TK: You and Josh originally began working together because you were going to produce his solo record. How did it turn into a new band? Was there a moment in the studio where it “clicked?”

MK: Well, Josh and I have known each other for like 6 years now. He played in a band that used to open for my old band, The Brakes when we would play in New England. He came to a Brakes show at Mercury Lounge in 2008 and asked me to produce his solo record. I liked the idea, and I could tell my band was winding down, so I jumped at the chance to make his record.

We went into the studio under the assumption that this was going to be a solo record, but as we started writing and recording, it became clear to me that this could be more than just a producing thing. The songs that he was writing, and the direction we were taking the project became very similar to the sound I had in my head… Continue reading →

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Modern Inventors at Johnny Brenda’s, Homesick Elephant at The Fire, Chill Moody at The TLA, The Hold Steady at Musikfest Cafe

Modern Inventors
Modern Inventors | Photo by Alicia Brown
Philly rock-and-soul outfit Modern Inventors have a fine new full-length album, Trains and Aeroplanes, and a release party tonight at Johnny Brenda’s. Joining them are Philly folk favorites Hezekiah Jones and retro-pop rockers Shark Tape, kind of reflecting both ends of the Inventors’ musical spectrum. The show begins at 9 p.m., more information is available here. Below, stream “Goodbye Northbrook Drive” from the album

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Modern Inventors celebrate Trains and Aeroplanes at Johnny Brenda’s on 12/28, album presale available now

Modern Inventors
Modern Inventors | Photo by Alicia Brown
Soulful Philly roots rockers Modern Inventors are gearing up to release their debut full-length, Trains and Aeroplanes, later this month. The album is now available for pre-order at Bandcamp, along with name-your-own-price downloads of two songs – “Hello” and “Goodbye Northbrook Drive.” The band is celebrating the release of the album at Johnny Brenda‘s on December 28 with Philly folk ensemble Hezekiah Jones and indie-rockers Shark Tape – a lineup that, in a way, spans both halves of the Inventors’ world. Advance tickets are available here, and fans who buy in advance get a free copy of the album at the show. Below, watch the band perform “These Eyes” for Bands in the Backyard last summer.

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Kuf Knotz, Modern Inventors, The Districts and more to perform Beck’s “Song Reader” at World Cafe Live on 01/08

We’ve all heard about it by now: Beck, the cutting-edge musician who gave us leaf blowers on stage and the 1994 hit “Loser,” set forth his latest release in an unconventional medium – a songbook.  Available this week and distributed by McSweeney’s and Faber, Song Reader: Twenty New Songs by Beck features unrecorded songs in sheet music form, up to interpretation by those adventurous enough to step into its full-color illustrations and lush binding:

“The songs here are as unfailingly exciting as you’d expect from their author, but if you want to hear “Do We? We Do,” or “Don’t Act Like Your Heart Isn’t Hard,” bringing them to life depends on you.”

Over a dozen local musicians have accepted Beck’s challenge and will perform their interpretations of the compositions at World Cafe Live on Tuesday, January 8th.  The line-up so far includes Sean Hoots, Johnny Showcase and the Lefty Lucy Cabaret, The Levee Drivers, Killer Whale, Modern Inventors, Kuf Knotz, Penrose, The Districts, Juston Stens and the Get Real Gang, Satellite Hearts, The Great Unknown, The Bailey Hounds, and Chris Kasper, with more to be announced soon.  Tickets and more information for the show can be found here.