Expressionistic noir rock army Northern Arms performs in the grand staircase of the Philadelphia Museum of Art tonight as part of the museum’s Art After 5 Friday night series. The band released its self-titled debut LP last year to much acclaim, and has been taking is booming and brooding show – which project the blues, gospel, and Americana through a cinematic lens – to unconventional spaces like the Fleisher Art Memorial in the fall. The sonorous acoustics of the Grand Staircase should make for a thrilling setting for the band’s slow-burn story songs tonight. Information on the show can be found here. Continue reading →
Resident noir-rockers Northern Arms have been playing their dark and dramatic songs in venues that are a little more used to silent art forms lately. Beginning with a David Lynch-inspired set at PAFA last week, the ten-piece band continues a tour of art gallery spaces in Brooklyn this week before returning to Philly on Friday, December 5th for a set at Fleisher Art memorial with Drew Nugent and the Midnight Society. Two sets at the Philadelphia Museum of Art on January 9th bring the tour to a close, though we’ll be hearing from Northern Arms soon after as they complete a new record at Miner Street Recording. More information for the shows can be found here. Listen to the demo of “Come To Me” below.
Local noir-rockers Northern Arms have released demo recording of a new song called “Come To Me.” The track was laid down while the band prepped for its next record and will be available for streaming until November 8th.
TJ Kong & the Atomic Bomb this week announced via Facebook the performers for their 5th annual Halloween Murdershow and its quite the lineup. Featuring a full list of Philly locals and such a large array of genres, from TJ Kong & the Atomic Bomb’s folk tunes to Lantern‘s distortion-infused rock to Tutlie‘s imaginative, surreal indie music, the eclectic sounds of this show are sure to attract a crowd. Continue reading →
Americana indie-folk band New Sweden will be at World Cafe Live tonight at The Queen. The five-piece band, which just played the Firefly Music Festival in its home state of Delaware, has a robust, scratchy sound that makes it a folk powerhouse. New Sweden is set to release its latest album, Fabric Room, in four days, but is available for streaming now. Check out the song, “Burdened Days” off the new album and go to the XPN Concert Calendar for more information and tickets.
Philly dark Americana ten-piece Northern Arms released a new video this week for “Below the Pines” directed by David Kain of BITBY. The song comes from their self-titled album, which will be released June 17th, and the video follows the band members in various settings including the woods (shot on location near Kain’s parents’ home in South Jersey) and inside the very decorated Fleisher Art Memorial, where listeners dance to the slow, melancholic music. Watch the video below.
On their latest release, Give the People What They Want, Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings showcases the dynamic frontwoman’s high energy and resolve more than ever. The band returns to Philadelphia tonight to play Union Transfer and for her fans, Jones’s return to the stage is a triumph, given that the singer was diagnosed with cancer just last year. Regardless, the new album is full of great tracks like “Retreat!” and “Stranger to My Happiness.” Join Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings and James Hunter for a night of classic soul. Get more info here at the XPN Concert Calender.
In some ways, the story of Northern Arms is a story of redemption. It’s also a story about friendship, and being true to one’s self emotionally.
“I always felt that a lot of bands held back if they did anything emotional—like they had to do it ironically, or with a smirk,” says Eric Bandel, from the back balcony of Standard Tap. “The stuff we were working on—we just wanted it to be true. We didn’t want to hold back.”
His band mate Keith Pierce nods in agreement. Emotional honesty has always been at the core of Northern Arms’ process, leading to beautiful, complex compositions that juxtapose highs and lows, for a result that feels startlingly cathartic.
Over the past 13 years, the band’s gone through several incarnations, including the 10-person rock monolith it is today. This Friday, they’ll celebrate the release of their debut, self-titled record with a party at Johnny Brenda’s. Afterwards, they have plans to tour the East Coast. These days everything seems to be falling into place.
But that wasn’t always the case.
“[When we first started playing together] we made some really beautiful stuff, but we were fuck-ups,” says Pierce. “We couldn’t keep it together. We would play out just enough that we could sustain our drinking. We let our worldview weigh on us, and it had bad effects.”
In Northern Arms‘ new video for “What You’ve Got On,” a routine ride on the Broad Street line becomes a little less normal for a young woman making her way from Tasker-Morris in South Philly to Cecil B Moore in North Philly. We watch her wait behind the yellow line (leaning over every now and then to check for headlights down the tunnel), write in a journal, look out the window and listen to music – all normal, everyday things we all do to pass time on SEPTA commutes. Meanwhile, scenes of the local ten-piece playing live on the platforms of several stops (definitely not a normal or everyday occurrence on SEPTA) lead us to believe the two will meet at some point in the video.
And meet they do, when the band catches the traveler’s eye before mysteriously appearing in the car itself, one by one.
If ever there was a Philadelphia answer to Arcade Fire or Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Northern Arms seems to be it with their cavernous, dark art rock that comes complete with a horn section. When we first heard “What You’ve Got On” back in March, XPN’s Bruce Warren called for a big year from the band. And with the impending release of their debut record coming later this month via BITBY, Northern Arms is definitely on the right track.
Northern Arms will celebrate the LP’s release on May 30th at Johnny Brenda’s; tickets and information can be found here. Check out our premiere of the “What You’ve Got On” video below, and revisit their Key Studio Session from last year here.
We’re predicting a big year for Philly’s Northern Arms. The ten piece band, fronted by singer and songwriter Keith Richard Peirce, is releasing its self-titled debut album on June 3rd, and have just released the epic “What You’ve Got On” from it.
Northern Arms did a Key Studio Session in October, 2013. Writing about the band at the time, The Key’s John Vettese said:
The band incorporates dark imagery with a musical mystique that hits on jazz, folk, and gospel, and blends it with gothic Americana. Northern Arms’ songs are more like short stories than histories, vignettes about fears and uncertainties, and the power of people bonding together in the face of these things.
Recorded and mixed by Jeff Ziegler, and mastered by Ryan Schwab, “What You’ve Got On” is a phenomenal debut single. With some dark Americana swagger, a belting horn section, a thunderous rhythm section, and Pierce’s Nick Cave-like intensity, there’s an anthemic, yet intimate quality to the song. Below, listen to “What You’ve Got On.”