2 days ago, Philly psych-rockers Ruby the Hatchet took to Instagram to announce the exciting news that they signed a record deal with Tee Pee Records. “We are proud to announce that we’re joining the @teepeerecords fam!” they exclaim in the caption. Tee Pee also seemed pretty stoked about the deal, posting a photo of lead vocalist Jillian Taylor signing their contract (at a bar!), to their Facebook page.
In April, 2013, Ruby The Hatchet did a Key Studio Session. Listen to the session here, and below, watch the video for “The Angry Mountain.”
The rickety van piloted by Philly psych-thrash outfit Ruby the Hatchet rolled into Austin just a few hours before its first South By Southwest gig last week. Cutting it close, for sure, but the band was just happy to arrive.
“We broke down,” guitarist John Scarperia explained as he set up for the End Records showcase at LIT Lounge. “We were stuck in Tennessee for two days.”
Talk about a setback. I ask if they missed any tour shows on the trip down. Scarperia laughs, then says “We didn’t play any. But it was fun, all part of the adventure, right?
The band dished a raucous set of its heady, heavy rock to a modest but appreciative crowd – which included singer-songwriter Nicole Atkins, a longtime friend of Hatchet frontwoman Jillian Taylor. The next day, it rocked Thrasher Mag’s unofficial Deathmatch showcase, and spent the rest of the weekend mingling with the music-devouring masses. Overall, it was a positive experience, and even culminated in Taylor getting a new tattoo (a hatchet, of course).
Ruby the Hatchet was one of dozens of locals that made the trek to Austin this year. Musicians of all styles and degrees of renown represented Philly at SXSW. There were known names like rapper Spank Rock, who played an energized set to a buck wild crowd at the Boyz Noize showcase at The Majestic on Thursday, and alt-bluesman G. Love who played the 18th Floor of the Hilton Garden Inn the same night. There were emerging artists, like folk singer Vikesh Kapoor and punk power trio Amanda X, or SXSW vets like rapper Lushlife, heavy psych heads Creepoid, and dream punks Nothing, who played a 2 a.m. set on a pedestrian footbridge.
“I feel like SXSW serves as a hub for discovery,” says Philly rapper Chill Moody, who I caught during his showcase at the Amped Austin lounge on Saturday afternoon. “I met a bunch of musicians and professionals in the music industry in just one week. Built some strong connections that will hopefully help me with the next steps in my career.”
For Moody, who is used to feeding off the love of the hometown fan base he’s cultivated over the past few years – he headlines venues like The TLA and Union Transfer locally – it was an opportunity to perform to complete strangers in smaller rooms, and win them over. The Amped show featured his right hand man Beano, a charismatic and occasionally comedic R&B singer, hopping offstage and dancing in the midst of the crowd, to the delight of many Instagram-snappers.
“It was a good chance to show a different audience exactly what you can do,” said Moody.
Downstairs at the same venue, electronic rock duo City Rain debuted songs from their new Songs From a High School Dance LP, due out in late April. Again, the crowd was (with the exception of myself) strangers, but people fed off singer / songwriter Ben Runyuan’s relentless energy, particularly on the driving anthem “Waiting on a Dream.”
“This is our last showcase,” Runyan said. “So I’m just throwing everything I got into this.” Continue reading →
Jersey born, Philly bred rock outfit Ruby the Hatchet are back with a two song EP to blast us (hopefully) into spring. ”Paralyzed” b/w “Eliminator” follow up October 2012′s OUROBOROS full-length and comes in anticipation of a sophomore LP.
“Paralyzed” opens with the ominous repetition of a handful of notes before a crunchier chord takes over with the gradual addition of drums and electric guitar sweeps. By the time vocalist Jillian Taylor enters we’ve been tossed head first into something like a zero gravity ride at an amusement park, spinning so fast all limbs are plastered to the ride’s wall, paralyzed. ”Eliminator” is equally ominous, with quiet montage of sounds building and overlapping before the band’s signature doomy, distorted guitar comes in over a down-tempo drum march.
Though Ruby the Hatchet’s sound is unequivocally dark and heavy, there are rays of shoegaze and a dreamier psychedelia that filter their way through the more metal aspects. In the case of these two songs, it’s the melodic nature of Taylor’s vocals and an organ that plays almost subconsciously on “Eliminator” that release the band from being pigeonholed in the confines of a single sound.
Stream “Paralyzed” and “Eliminator” below and stay tuned for a 7″ release coming soon, as well as Ruby the Hatchet’s next full-length. You can also check out their Key Studio Session from last year here, where they play an early version of “Paralyzed” live.
They helped us though the end of summer with their “Swimming Pool” video and started the Fall on the right note with their two-track 7″ preview via Bandcamp. Now join York / Lancaster native Younger Me at The Fire tonight for their second 7″ release show. To help celebrate the evening, the indie pop-rock trio will share the stage with Philly local Lucy Stone and Philadelphia based Family Vacation. Prepare for the show by listening and downloading their two track preview below. Find tickets and details for tonight’s 21+ performance here.
The latest edition of our Key Studio Sessions compilations is out today – now streamable and downloadable from Soundcloud! Check out this year’s in-studio appearances with The Key Studio Sessions Vol. 7, including the down-tempo folk stylings of Waxahatchee, the thrashing punk of Pissed Jeans and the all-out rock jams of Ruby the Hatchet. Thanks to production assistants Fred Knittel, Madeleine Lesperance, and Dan Malloy as well as photographers Rachel Del Sordo and Kate McCann, and videographers The Angry Mountain, HotBox Studios and Out of Town Films for sharing their work.
In advance of their upcoming debut full-length, local five-piece Oldermost dropped a download of two free tracks earlier this week. “Close to the Fire” and “Once I Left” display two distinct moods of the band, recalling dreamy Americana favorites My Morning Jacket and Lord Huron. Stream the songs below and download them on Oldermost’s Bandcamp here.
New Paradise Laboratories have announced that they will put their production of 27 back on the stage this spring. The play takes a surreal and improvised look at music’s “27 Club” with portrayals of Amy Winehouse, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison and Kurt Cobain. Narrator / musical accompanist Alec MacLaughlin stopped in the WXPN studios for an interview and improvisation session during the play’s run last fall – download his appearance below.
Tuesday’s My Morning Download featured Philly’s The Lawsuits and their new single “Onion.” The track, and the album it will appear on, was recorded by Bill Moriarty. With the release of Cool Cool Cool happening this summer, the band has some free time on their hands, which they will fill with a few shows next month – catch The Lawsuits at Johnny Brenda’s on May 3rd, at The Fire on May 5th and at Hard Rock Cafe on May 10th. Tickets and information for all shows can be found here. Download “Onion” here and check out the Key Studio Session version below.
Ruby the Hatchet stopped by to record this week’s Key Studio Session, reprising two songs from their wild Ouroborosalbum that was released last fall and previewing a new one, “Paralyzed,” which you can stream and download below. The Angry Mountain was also on hand to capture the local band’s performance of “Paralyzed” on film. Ruby the Hatchet will be at Kung Fu Necktie on April 25th – tickets and information can be found here. Check out the full session here.
Local art rock outfit The Chairman Dances shared their new two song Michael and the Prophetess EP this week. The free download is “a song cycle steeped in biblical language and set in a fictionalized 1950s era Brooklyn” and follows the band’s longer form concept efforts A Promise and Long Lost / A History of Iniquity. The Chairman Dances will perform at Kung Fu Necktie on June 14th; tickets and information can be found here.
I first heard Philly by-way-of-Jersey heavy psychedelic four-piece Ruby The Hatchet back in September while I was holed up in my house, watching the winds of Hurricane Sandy (er, excuse me, Post-Tropical Cyclone Sandy) spew sheets of rain on my porch and blow large branches down my block.
The music fit the scene outside – an intense torrent of hammering drums and swirling guitar riffs, with Jillian Taylor’s powerful vocal booming above the fray. It’s not music that celebrates aggression or destruction – just like a storm doesn’t necessarily have anything against you personally when it causes your basement to flood or makes trees fall on your roof – but it more provides a reflection of natural forces at work in an occasionally difficult world. But these are artists that can see the positive side too; the album I had cranked that September night, Ouroboros, takes its title from the mythological dragon eating its own tail, which metaphorically speaks to life moving in cycles. And for its part, Ruby the Hatchet donated proceeds from the record to Hurricane Sandy relief.
We have them in studio this week playing two amped up songs from Ouroboros – “Wicked Ones” and “The Lean” – as well as a brand new number, “Paralyzed,” a rager with a raucous Dead Weather / Motorhead drive to it. Check out the music below, and see a video of the band playing “Paralyzed” in our studio shot by Jeremy Quattlebaum and Sean Bolton of The Angry Mountain. As the band prepares its followup LP, you can catch them in concert next Thursday, April 25th at Kung Fu Necktie opening for the like-minded LA troupe The Warlocks. Tickets and information on the show can be found at the venue’s website.
New York experimental rock band Psychic Ills headline Johnny Brenda’s tonight. The psychedelic-infused outfit recalls the distorted and distressed, laidback sound of early Kurt Vile with lo-fi vocals and hypnotic arrangements that seem on the verge of exploding. Psychic Ills will be releasing One Track Mind on February 19th via Sacred Bones Records, following up 2011′s Hazed Dream. Tickets and information for tonight’s 21+ show with Nothing and Mike Bruno & The Black Magic Family Band can be found here. Stream “Might Take A While” from the upcoming record below.
Glittery pop outfit Sun Airway play Johnny Brenda’s tonight with Historics and Cruiser. On last year’s expansive sophomore release Soft Fall, Sun Airway washed their synths and vocals in the waters of some faraway cascade and dried them in the echo-y halls of a sky-high cathedral, creating an all-together other-worldly aura around the project. Tickets and information for the 21+ show can be found here. Below, watch the video for “Close” and dig deeper into Soft Fall with The Key’s Unlocked series here.
With just two weeks remaining in 2012, it’s come time to look back at the year that’s just passed us by, look ahead at the year just ahead of us, and generally reflect on stuff that got us excited – in music, and in general.
But if you’re like me, you find best-of lists a little boring. I mean, they’re kind of a necessary evil, in terms of the cultural community putting the past 12 months into context. That said, after the fifty-billionth iteration they can almost become a chore to read and to put together. So for The Key’s year-in-review, we asked our trusted sources – our writers and photographers, XPN’s on-air staff, fellow bloggers in the Philly scene and even a few musicians – to send us their Top Five Whatevers. Could be the traditional music route – albums, songs, concerts of the year – or it could be only loosely connected.
We’ll be sharing these recaps every day through to the end of the year. Today, I’ll get things started with my top five Philly music discoveries of 2012. Coming across an exciting emerging musician I’ve never heard before is easily a highlight of my job, and there was no shortage of that this year. (See the incomplete honorable mention section.) With this list, though, I tried to focus on the less-discussed acts, the ones you won’t find on a show every weekend. Some artists hit the ground running this year, and that’s great – these artists are ones that are worth your time to seek out. Continue reading →