This month’s Shaking Through session is a moving episode featuring Pennsylvania’s Lewis & Clarke, the musical project of Lou Rogai. The installment was curated by Strand of Oaks’ Tim Showalter, a Shaking Through alum himself from 2010. During his time at Miner Street Recording, Rogai created a new song called “The Silver Sea,” which you can listen to below.
Last month Creepoid premiered the first single, “Sunday,” from its upcoming self-titled album on No Idea Records. Here’s the video for it, and it’s quite laid back for what we’ve seen from the band in the past.
Despite the album being their first since 2011, it’s not the first time we’re from them since then. The video for “Golden String” by BitBY was released in 2012. And remember when Shaking Through did a video featuring Creepoid in the wake of 2011’s Horse Heaven? Yeah, well, the song in that video, “Old Tree,” is on the upcoming self-titled album. The tracks have obviously been lingering a little bit.
But the video for “Sunday” doesn’t evoke that time of laziness late in a weekend. It’s simply slow-motion shots paired with a song that’s pushing deep into the couch. It’s the length of every note played in this song that makes it match this simple video. Whether it’s the long lead guitar notes, the breath-y singing or the tambourine that slaps back in the speakers, it’s not too much. Perhaps that’s what works for both the video and the song.
Creepoid is the featured album in this week’s edition of Unlocked. Download the song “Baptism” in Monday’s post, read Tuesday’s album review and check back tomorrow and Friday for an interview and more.
Shaking Through is Weathervane Music’s experimental recording project. Ten times each year a guest curator brings musicians into Fishtown’s Miner Street Recording to create a new song from start to finish over the course of two days. Past collaborators include Hop Along, Purling Hiss, Strand of Oaks, Hezekiah Jones and more. Check out all of the episodes here and watch Lushlife’s November 2013 installment below. Tickets and information for the 21+ kick-off show can be found here.
The three-piece, all-female punk rock group is live streaming their Shaking Through session on February 1st and 2nd free to the public – an opportunity otherwise only given to members of Weathervane Music Organization. Shaking Through gives fans the chance to watch an insider’s guide as to what recording is like for some of their favorite bands, or a chance to discover new music, while the bands or musicians get to record in a “professional setting.”
Weathervane, founded by producer Brian McTear in 2009, strives to promote independent bands in the area with Shaking Through. Cayetana, formed in the fall of 2011, is finally starting to take off, opening for Waxahatchee just last Sunday and releasing a 7″ this winter on Tiny Engines Records. Check out their studio session with The Key here and their video for “Hot Dad Calendar” below.
“Vermont” is the bright and poppy new single The Districts recorded for Shaking Through; it’s got a swagger to it that we haven’t heard from these guys yet, and their making-of-the-song documentary explores how the band sees itself as an inseparable unit of four friends making rock and roll. Download the song and watch the video below.
On Tuesday night, Philly rapper Lushlife (aka Raj Haldar) appeared on the WXPN Philly Local Show to premiere his new Toynbee Suite, an eleven-minute, four-movement hiphop symphony based on the mysterious Toynbee tiles around Philadelphia and around the world. Below, listen to an archive of his interview on the show, and get a free download the track – the latest from Weathervane Music’s Shaking Through series.
To dig deeper, read Marc Snitzer’s interview with Haldar here, and watch the Shaking Through documentary about the song after the jump. Continue reading →
Toynbee tiles- those clandestine, ceramic squares marked with crudely scrawled chunks of some lost conspiracy manifesto- are everywhere. Ever walk past one? They’re all over Philadelphia. And Chicago. And Buenos Ares. Hundreds of tiles have been placed around the world over the past 20 years by an anonymous tile-placer, more often than not stepped over, torn apart by civic management or otherwise weathered by two decades of simply existing. The tiles don’t draw too much attention to themselves; there’s no Banksy-level gawking involved, but they have left many folks simply puzzled.
“They’re definitely esoteric. They’re cryptic,” says a puzzled Raj Haldar, i.e. Lushlife, between sips of coffee and behind sunglasses in a sleepy South Philly café. (It’s 6 p.m. in November, by the way.) He’s explaining what about the Toynbee tiles drew him to write an 11-minute, multi-movement rap song called the Toynbee Suite.
“I think, like a lot of people, they just piqued curiosity in me. I’ve been walking around town over the last decade and just had very much a passing interest in them,” he says. “That sense of unknown origin gave me a lot of scope to build a narrative of what was behind the tiles. That openness was fruitful for the creative process, rather than writing about a historical fact where you’re limited to structure.”
The Toynbee Suite has dragged Haldar out of his creative comfort zone in a handful of ways. Aside from fixating on a particular, tangible subject matter (“I usually don’t rap about something this specific. My rhymes are more stream of consciousness,” he says), the sheer scope of the project forced the 30-year-old hip-hop artist to work with a slew of outside musicians and producers (“With the Lushlife records, I do absolutely everything. It’s completely DIY”) in a pithy 48 hours (“A three-minute song usually takes me like five months to write and record”). It’s operatic in its construction, divided into four movements, each based on a line from the most seminal and ubiquitous of the Toynbee tiles, the one that reads something like:
IN KUBRICK’S 2001
ON PLANET JUPITER
Recorded at Miner Street Studios in Fishtown, the Toynbee Suite is the latest in a series of installments from Shaking Through, a project from Weathervane Music that challenges musicians to write and record a song in two days, documenting the process along the way. Haldar’s might be one of the most ambitious Shaking Through episodes to date, although he had written the bulk of the Toynbee Suite months in advance. “Even with all that planning, the 48 hours was just so packed,” he says. “The song, in the multi-track, has over 140 tracks. It’s unreal.”
Shaking Through‘s fall season is off to a tremendous start with their current episode from The So So Glos and an upcoming episode spearheaded by Lushlife. The Weathervane Music project, which brings bands and artists to Miner Street Recording in Fishtown to record a brand new song in two days, let the local hip hop artist loose in the studio and the result is a four-movement, eleven minute “rap epic” titled Toynbee Suite. The inspiration, as noted by the recording’s title, were the mysterious messages inlaid across the city and around the world known as “Toynbee Tiles.” From the press release:
…Toynbee Suite arcs across four dramatically different movements and features a tremendous cast of musicians. With key contributions from RJD2, Nightlands, Yikes the Zero, as well as orchestral arrangements from Joshua Stamper, Toynbee Suite is perhaps the most ambitious song from the already ambitious Shaking Through, which Pitchfork calls “an inspired recording project,” and IFC declares is “one of the best online music series.”
The episode premiere will take place at Art in the Age on November 7th, with appearances by Lushlife, Tim Meskers (formerly of Brown Recluse) and Bailiff. More information can be found here. Below, watch Lushlife’s video for “Magnolia,” followed by the trailer for the 2011 documentary on Toynbee Tiles called Resurrect Dead: The Mystery of the Toynbee Tiles.
Earlier today, the folks at Weathervane Music debuted the latest installment in their Shaking Through series – a gritty, poppy number from Philly’s Hop Along called “Sister Cities.” The song is loosely based on Günter Grass’ book The Tin Drum, it was written this winter and recorded over the course of 24 hours at Fishtown’s Miner Street Studios. This is something of a change of pace for Hop Along – frontwoman Frances Quinlan is an admitted perfectionist, and their excellent 2012 LP Get Disowned was the result of two years of hard work at Headroom Studios. What was it like going into a situation where they had to finish the song in a day? How did “Sister Cities” grow from its solo beginnings we heard at Quinlan’s PhilaMOCA show in January to the rager we hear today? And will this experience change how Hop Along works in the studio? I caught up with Quinlan at Johnny Brenda’s last week to find the answers to these questions and more.
The Key: How would you say songs, this one in particular, change between when you first write and when you have a finished / recorded project?
Frances Quinlan: This was really different from songs I’ve worked out in the past; it’s been a while since I’ve really felt like I had to beat the shit out of a song. I remember reading this interview with Tom Waits and he was talking about how some songs come to you in a dream and some songs are like a dance. And some songs you have to drag kicking and screaming and, like, fight with them. I really felt like this song was a fight. I remember we were jamming it a while back and everyone was like, “yeah, you know, this is cool.” But we really did not have strong feelings about it until we got in the studio and hashed it out. The structure was the same, but the feeling of it changed in the studio.
TK: So when you say, “when we got in the studio” do you mean you got to Miner Street and didn’t know that was song you were going to record?
FQ: No, we knew. We had no other song that I really felt confident enough to say, “oh sure we could make this work in a day”. This one started out as a very straight song. I thought it was mellow! To me it was like a uniform feeling all the way through, but it was steady and I was like, “that’s what we have, this is what we can work with, we can do something and it won’t be terrible”…you know? But no, we got in there and it was like 75 percent, 80 percent done. It needed some character to it. But that’s why you take that shit to a studio and figure it out! [laughs]