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Accomplished jazz drummer Lil John Roberts headlines World Cafe Live downstairs today. His 20-year career has included collaborations with a variety of pop, R&B and jazz legends, from Janet Jackson to Herbie Hancock and Stevie Wonder. This year, however, marked the first time the Philly-born Roberts released an LP under his own name. Heartbeats is a collection of slick, suave grooves that incorporate funk and soul into expansive songs. He also worked with a slew of collaborators on this outing, including Robert Glasper, Eric Roberson Musiq Soulchild and Ursula Rucker. Tickets and information on the show can be found at the XPN Concert Calendar. Below, watch the music video for “Space,” the opening track on Heartbeats. Continue reading →
Philly’s Alex G recently announced an east coast/mid-west tour with Maryland noise-pop band, Teen Suicide. Frontman Alex Giannascoli received high praise from press for his June 2014 full-length debut, DSU. Spin, Rolling Stone, and Pitchfork are a few magazines to pick up on his DIY-sound, and the record is his first label-backed release off Orchid Tapes.
Rolling Stone named “Harvey” – a bedroom-pop, airy sound off DSU – one of the top 50 songs of 2014. The 21-year-old lo-fi artist recently put out a video for “Harvey”, in which a model house burns down while he strums his acoustic guitar in a bedroom. Continue reading →
Pulp fans unite! The eagerly anticipated 2014 documentary on Jarvis Cocker and Co. – Pulp: A Film About Life, Death & Supermarkets – screens tonight at PhilaMOCA at 7:30 p.m. Known best stateside for their mega-hit “Common People,” the band is revered among British rock aficionados for its brilliant fusion of glam, disco and super-literate lyrics. As a storyteller, Cocker details the lives of the working classes, the artists and the generally sexually starved in vivid detail. Set around Pulp’s 2011 reunion while looking back across its career (which spans the early 80s to the late 90s), this retrospective will be a treat for die-hards and will win over new converts. Information at the PhilaMOCA web page. Continue reading →
Baltimore’s Crimson Wave will be in town on November 29th for a show at PhilaMOCA. Recruited by locals No Other, fans of that band’s deep energy will find a fitting counterpart in Crimson Wave. The quartet writes low key “bummer pop,” going against the grain of a genre that tends to favor a heavy dose of distortion with tracks that don’t bury their individual components.
Philly newcomers Son Little have a fantastic debut EP called Things I Forgot coming out on Anti- Records next month, and they headline a free outdoor show this evening at Dilworth Park at City Hall. Founded by Aaron Livingston, a local singer-songwriter-guitarist who has worked with The Roots and collaborated with RJD2 on the Icebird project, Son Little pushes his creative boundaries even further, dabbling in soul, hard rock, and Radiohead-esque minimal electronica. The band recorded a knockout Key Studio Session this week; download the song “Joy” below and get more information on the show here. Continue reading →
Indie folk duo Hiss Golden Messenger take over Johnny Brenda’s tonight following the recent release of their fifth album Lateness of Dancers. Former members of heavy punk band Ex-Ignota and alternative rock group The Court & Spark, MC Taylor and Scott Hirsh have been performing together for over two decades, and broke off to try their hand at a different genre. Their first album Country Hai East Cotton was released in a limited edition of 500 records produced on Taylor’s personal record label. For tickets and more information check out the XPN Concert Calender. Below, watch their recent performance of title track “Lateness of Dancers.” Continue reading →
The always interesting PhilaMOCA has announced its latest celebration, Lil Sean Day, held August 30th. The event is curated exclusively by its namesake, the Eraserhood venue’s 12-year-old neighbor: a reported connoisseur of art, film and music. Last year, Lil Sean performed at PhilaMOCA’s Mausoleum Pizza Party. He also released his first two songs on Bandcamp in late July.
Back in the early ‘80s in New York, the early hip-hop scene was evolving in the Bronx while no wave and experimental jazz groups were making noise in the East Village. But the only place where those two disparate worlds met was in the labyrinthine basement of an old factory building along the Gowanus Canal in Brooklyn. For more than thirty years, this space has been the home of BC Studio, where producer Martin Bisi has charted the evolution of NYC’s underground music scene(s), recording such disparate artists as Sonic Youth, Afrika Bambaataa, Swans, Cop Shoot Cop, Herbie Hancock, John Zorn, and Helmet.
The space is the subject of a new documentary, Sound and Chaos: The Story of BC Studio, which will have its Philadelphia premiere on Monday at PhilaMOCA. The screening will be followed by a Q&A and liver performance by Bisi.
Bisi co-founded the studio with bassist/producer Bill Laswell in 1980 as a home for Laswell’s amorphous band/project/production team Material, with funds contributed by Brian Eno. It has since become a destination for artists of a more experimental bent and can be found in the credits for albums that would seem to have nothing else in common other than Bisi’s presence – Herbie Hancock’s “Rockit,” Sonic Youth’s Bad Moon Rising and Evol, Naked City’s Torture Garden, and most of Swans’ best work.
“I don’t turn down any opportunity to talk about what I do or what I have done,” says Bisi about agreeing to the documentary. “A lot of musicians have an entrenched taboo about self-promotion. Fame is sort of a bad word for artists, but unless I’m a little more famous than I was three weeks ago, then I’m not having a career.”
Directors Sara Leavitt and Ryan C. Douglass were working on short internet videos and in the market for a longer project when they met Bisi through a mutual friend. “When we heard about all the stuff that had happened at his studio and all the albums that had been recorded there, it seemed like a good story,” Leavitt explains.
Many of the artists who have recorded in the studio over the years are interviewed for the film, including Laswell and members of Sonic Youth, Dresden Dolls, Swans, and Foetus. But more than the history of a single studio, Bisi insists, “This is a story about New York City. I feel very passionate about New York City and believe that it has an amazing chemistry for a lot of complex reasons. I’ve been saying for a decade and a half that it takes more to break New York City than closing down a punk rock bar on Bowery.” Continue reading →
Next month PhilaMOCA will host two new music documentary premieres, Every Everything: The Music, Life & Times of Grant Hart and Sound and Chaos: The Story of BC Studio.
Every Everything, which will be shown on Friday, July 18th, is a completely unfiltered look into the life of Grant Hart, former member of Hüsker Dü. It focuses on the artistic competition he has with his former bandmate, and that final moment when he earns some fame. The film provides great insight into rock & roll and life within the music industry. After the screening there will be cover sets by Mumblr and Hart Attack (members of Howling Fantods, Sound of Failure, Halo of Snakes). Doors open at 7:30 and the show begins at 8. Tickets can be found here.
Sound and Chaos, which will be shown on Monday, July 21st, tells the history behind Martin Bisi’s Brooklyn-based recording studio. Bisi is well-known for recording Herbie Hancock’s hit “Rockit” in the studio, which became popular as the first mainstream DJ song to use the “scratching” technique. Later, the film explains how the iconic studio may now be in trouble due to rising costs of rent. The documentary includes interview with Michael Gira of Swans, Bill Laswell of Material, Grand Mixer JXT and several others. Bisi will be attendance for a live post-screening Q&A as well as a live performance. Doors open at 7:30 and the show begins at 8. Tickets can be found here.