Phosphorescent (real name Matthew Houck) appeared on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon last night, backed by a small choir, string section and of course members of The Roots. He performed “Song for Zula” off of his latest LP Muchacho. Phosphorescent will be at the XPoNential Music Festival this summer, happening July 26-28 at Wiggins Park and the Susquehanna Bank Center in Camden, NJ. Watch the clip below.
Weekend passes to the XPONential Music Festival are available now through WXPN membership. New and renewing members will get a pair of weekend passes to Wiggins park and lawn seats to the SBC show for a pledge of $24 month. More information can be found here.
The Lumineers (Sat 7/27 @ Sus. Bank Ctr.)
Dr. Dog (Sat 7/27 @ Sus. Bank Ctr.)
Polica (Sat 7/27 @ Sus. Bank Ctr.)
Wake Owl (Sat 7/27 @ Sus. Bank Ctr.)
John Butler Trio
Trampled By Turtles
Lianne La Havas
Justin Townes Earle
Kopecky Family Band
The Stray Birds
Aaron & The Spell
Of course, there’s a downside to making a record as intricate and delicately arranged as Phosphorescent‘s Muchahcho. The higher you set the bar for your listeners, the harder it is to live up to your own ambition.
On the first night of tour, with a new lineup of players in tow, Matthew Houck told a sold-out Johnny Brenda’s last night that the collective was admittedly rusty and working out the kinks. “Right on!” one fan screamed – presumably making a request for “Ride On / Right On,” a standout track from the new album, and not sharing some odd enthusiasm over the singer’s humility. But Houck deferred. “Yeah, that song’s got a lot of rust,” he said.
“Ride / Right” never did get played. And of the 90-minute / 13-song setlist, only four drew from Muchacho, with mixed results. Opener “Terror In The Canyons” was amped up from the forlorn pedal steel ballad we hear on the album. Its swirl of keys and guitar licks blazed onward to a powerful jam of “The Quotidian Beasts.” Things, at this point, looked and sounded great. And then the set took a sharp dive with a particularly weak performance of “Song for Zula” – the moving, heartrending, Johnny Cash-referencing vibey number that many are already calling song of the year. Continue reading →
Matthew Houck, the sharp mind and ragged voice behind Phosphorescent, is back. His recent albums have each been a surprise. 2009′s To Willie was all Willie Nelson covers – which in and of itself wasn’t as surprising as the depth and integrity he brought to what could have been cliché homage. His 2010 outing Here’s to Taking It Easy was more raucous than any critic expected. After Taking It Easy, Phosphorescent did just that. The music world heard little from Matthew Houck until recently. With the release of a new track, “Song for Zola,” from his upcoming album Muchacho, it seems Houck is softening again. He is also back on the road. Houck has an international tour scheduled for the spring and will be playing Johnny Brenda’s on March 25th. Tickets and information for the 21+ show can be found here. Below, listen to “Song of Zola.”
Willie Nelson’s western town in Luck, TX, is about a 45 minute ride from downtown Austin. On Thursday, March 15th, at SXSW, the town was transformed into the Heartbreak Banquet, a performance space with two stages featuring over 20 musicians including Rhett Miller, Father John Misty, Blitzen Trapper, Daughter, Billy Joe Shaver, Phosphorescent, and Gary Clark, Jr.
Heartbreak Banquet was presented by Electric Lady Studios and Robot Fondue, in association with John Varvatos. For the attendees (including WXPN Station Manager Roger LaMay) it was a welcome break and musical retreat from the frenzied pace of SXSW.
On a breezy hilltop in the Catskill Mountains this weekend, one of The Key’s favorite Philly artists unveiled the next step in its ongoing evolution. Strand of Oaks is no longer solely Timothy Showalter. It’s now a three-piece, rounded out by Joe Lazas on guitar and Deven Craige on bass. Both were recruited from recently-retired electropop / psych outfit Golden Ages, and they brought a loose, lush sensibility to the Oaks live show, occasionally adding ambiance that formerly came from one of Showalter’s samplers, more often doubling up what the man at center stage was doing, crafting a resonant envelope of sound around the impromptu amphitheater in the New York state forest. Their performance opened with a chilling cover of Moby’s “When It’s Cold, I’d Like To Die” and concluded with “Dark Shores,” a new number with an intense synthesizer pulse reminiscent of Kate Bush. One song is hardly enough to predict Strand Of Oaks’ next body of songs by, but we expect to see Showalter and his new companions traveling further down this eclectic electronic path.
Strand Of Oaks
You’re probably wondering: What was Strand of Oaks doing in some woodsy corner of the Catskills anyway? Good question – and an equally interesting answer. The band was one performer in a tremendous mini-festival thrown by Showalter’s friends in new folk duo Family Band at their cabin in Delhi, New York. Also in the mix was a solo performance from Daniel Rossen of Grizzly Bear and Department of Eagles, doing a half dozen new songs and a Townes Van Zant cover. The hosts’ set included a collaboration with Simone Schmidt of Toronto’s One Hundred Dollars on her band’s song “Juice and Sage,” as well as a singalong with Showalter, Ben Bromley of NewVillager and Phosphorescent’s Matthew Houck. Closing out the main show was a breathtaking performance by Houck, but the party continued with an epic bonfire and some deep forest performance art late into the night. Check out more photos below.
Daniel Rossen of Grizzly Bear, Department of Eagles