XPN welcomes new wave outfit The A’s to Underground Arts tonight. Led by charismatic front-man Richard Bush (currently of The Peace Creeps), the Philadelphia band became a fixture in the east coast club scene with their energetic power pop. 1981′s “A Woman’s Got the Power” gave the band its first hit outside of Philly and though the The A’s never broke through to a national audience, their dedicated hometown following remains intact three decades after they parted ways. Tickets and information for the 21+ show can be found here. Watch a video of the band performing “A Woman’s Got the Power” live below.
Oak Island is not just the title of Nightlands’ new record. It’s also an island off the South shore of Nova Scotia, imbued with mythical proportions. First discovered in 1795, it’s home to a mysterious pit, in which explorers found strange pick markings and layers of logs. The discovery sparked rumors that the pit housed treasure, and for years afterwards, explorers sailed to Oak Island and continued to dig, hoping to unearth the pit’s secret.
These days, scientists believe the phenomenon was likely caused by a sinkhole—although excavation groups today still continue to explore. When I ask Nightlands’ Dave Hartley how the tale relates to his new record, he tells me he’s drawn to the idea of “mystery without end.” “I think mystery is important in art,” he continues, over coffee at Kensington’s Leotah’s Place. “On record, I never let my voice be alone. I always cloak it in millions of itself. Maybe that’s an attempt to keep the mystery going…because the human ear always wants to hear a single voice. And I feel like I’m always pulling it away, dangling the carrot.”
Thick, echo-y, vocal layers are one key element of Nightlands, a solo project started a few years back by Hartley, most known for his role as bassist with The War on Drugs. As Nightlands, he boasts two records of complex, moving synth pop: 2010’s Forget the Mantra, and Oak Island, out this week on Secretly Canadian.
Compared to Mantra, which felt dreamy and dense, Hartley describes Oak Island as “more confident.” “It’s an evolution,” he adds, calling it the “next step” in an ever-changing musical journey. Continue reading
Philly’s own Dave Hartley is poised to release his second album under the moniker Nightlands. The album, Oak Island, is streaming on WNYC’s Soundcheck blog and its easy, rhythmic intimacy mysteriously (possibly intentionally) could not be farther from a reflection of Hartley’s recent schedule. As the bassist for the ever-busy The War on Drugs (Kurt Vile’s Philadelphia-based group), Hartley’s year included a recent appearance on Jimmy Fallon, months of international touring (including playing Primavera Sound in Barcelona), and evenings of back-to-back shows, such as two nights over New Year’s at Johnny Brenda’s to raise money for MANNA. Somehow, Hartley found time to finish Oak Island, which has been in the making since he wrapped up his debut Forget the Mantra in 2010. The album release show at Kung Fu Necktie is Saturday, January 26th and will be followed by a (surprisingly) quiet February before an ambitious national tour in March. We wouldn’t expect anything less.
This must have been something like a dream come true. Dave Hartley, bassist for The War on Drugs and frontman for Nightlands, joined his keyboard-playing WoD compatriot Robbie Bennett to sit with John Cale‘s backing band on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. They played a song from Cale’s recent LP Shifty Adventures in the Nookie Wood, “I Wanna Talk 2 U” (which was not written by Prince, far as we can tell), and they dusted off the Velvet Underground classic “Venus in Furs.” Watch “Venus” below, see “I Wanna Talk To U” here. Nightlands is releasing its sophomore album Oak Island this month, and celebrating with a show at Kung Fu Necktie on Saturday, January 26. Tickets and information on it can be found at the WXPN concert calendar.
Big congrats to a couple of our Philly scene favorites, Purling Hiss and Nightlands, who both made Spin Magazine’s 5 Best New Artists list for the month of January. (Both artists made our own crystal-ball-gazing list as well.) The Hiss has their awesome new full-length, Water on Mars, coming out on Drag City Records on March 19. Spin put it at the top of its list, saying:
Once code for the searing solo experiments of former Birds of Maya guitarist (and Kurt Vile and the Violators associate) Mike Polizze, Purling Hiss has mutated into a frightening, full-fledged power trio of late, as captured last year on an Adam Granduciel-curated episode of WXPN’s Shaking Through series. Afforded the opportunity to record with a budget, Polizze and his bandmates offered up “Lolita,” a headbanger whose chorus we’ve been humming ever since.
Nightlands’ Oak Island is out on Secretly Canadian Records on January 22, with a release show at Kung Fu Necktie on the 26th. Spin called Nightlands main man Dave Hartley a “rugged bedroom pop individualist, layering watery synthesizers and roaming percussion with delicate, desperate choir boy vocals.” Check out both writeups here, and watch Purling Hiss tear up The Bowery Ballroom with “Almost Washed My Hair” below.
Who’d we forget? Probably dozens more. Our apologies if we left you out. We hope you get the point though; these days, Philly is miles deep and miles wide with talent and creativity. If 2012 was a “ten,” here’s 15 reasons why Philly’s music scene is about to go to 11 in 2013. Continue reading
Does cover art make the album? We ponder this and look at some great local album covers [link]