Tonight’s Concert Picks: Sylvan Esso at Union Transfer, Placeholder at The Fire, Skinny Lister at North Star Bar

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Durham, NC electro-folk duo Sylvan Esso join tUnE-yArDs tonight at Union Transfer for a fun, funky and alternative show.  Lead singer Amelia Meath has a smooth, haunting tone to her voice that manages to give more depth to the repetitive synths and beats.  She bends her vocals so they compliment the abstract rhythms and somehow it just works.  The single “Coffee” has a cool melody with lyrics that repeat “get up get down, get up get down.”  Very good music to listen to while walking down the street on a sunny day.  Doors open at 8 p.m., and make sure you arrive early to this sold out show!

Lancaster garage punks Placeholder will be at The Fire tonight to put on a high-energy show.  The band released a digital 12″ back in February called I Don’t Need Forgiveness which you can stream here. Unlike some punk groups who can sometimes be all over the place with their sound, the foursome maintains a steady control throughout the 12-track long LP.  Their live show will definitely guarantee gritty guitar solos along with commanding vocals.

Skinny Lister hail from the UK and if you listen closely, you can detect a slight bluegrass twang in their music.  Dual lead vocalists Dan Heptinstall and Lorna Thomas don’t outshine each other, but use each others voices to enhance the quality of the music.  I could picture these guys playing on a street corner in Dublin or London, captivating passersby.  You can find tickets and info for their 21+ show tonight at North Star Bar here.

Also playing…

Tweens at Underground Arts ($10, 21+, 8 p.m.)

Uncle/Father Oscar at Kung Fu Necktie ($5, 21+, 3 p.m.)

Indigenous at Sellersville Theater ($22, all ages, 7:30 p.m.)


The Week’s Best Free MP3s, incl. Moon Taxi, Khari Mateen, Folkadelphia

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Folkadelphia shared the inaugural Suitcase Sessions episode, an Alan Lomax-inspired, on-location recording with Skinny Lister at the North Star Bar’s Victorian Dining Room.  Later in the week we got a second helping of folky sessions with Holy Ghost Tent Revival; stream “Rollin’ Over” from Skinny Listern below and download both sessions here.

Nashville’s Moon Taxi are gearing up to release Mountains Beaches Cities in September, sharing “The New Black” as a preview of their third full-length.  The indie pop outfit made an appearance on World Cafe in the spring during host David Dye’s Sense of Place: Nashville feature – listen back to the band’s segment here and download “The New Black” in exchange for your email below.


The Week So Far: 11 must-read stories on The Key (incl. XPo Fest, Moreland & Arbuckle, Moon Taxi)


Photo by Joe Del Tufo
Photo by Joe Del Tufo

The 2013 XPoNential Music Festival was a rocking success – check out reviews, photos and videos of all the performers, including Lord Huron, DRGN King and Erin McKeown [link]

Meet Kyle Noone, the 13-year-old drummer who got to play “Home” with Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros at XpoNential [link]

Local bands shine at XPoNential – revisit sets by Dr. Dog, The Districts, Aaron & The Spell and more [link]

This week’s new show announcements include Fiona Apple & Blake Mills, a second Animal Collective date, Citizen Cope and more [link]

Out of Town Films recorded a few XPoNential artists over the weekend, including Kopecky Family Band and Matt Pond [link]

Folkadelphia introduced their Alan Lomax-inspired Suitcase Sessions with Skinny Lister [link]

XPN’s Gotta Hear Song of the Week comes from an Elvis Costello / The Roots collaboration called “Walk Us UPTOWN” [link]

Monday’s My Morning Download featured Moon Taxi‘s “The New Black” [link]

Listen to a new song called “Stare at the Sun” from Wesley Stace [link]

The Key premiered the video for “Modern Boys from 7 Cities” from Moreland & Arbuckle – catch them at this Friday’s Free at Noon performance [link]

Khari Mateen gives us this week’s stunning six-track Key Studio Session [link]


Folkadelphia Suitcase Session: Skinny Lister (recorded at the North Star Bar’s Victorian Dining Room)

What would it look like if Alan Lomax, the great American ethnomusicologist, folklorist, historian, and folk music collector, had been around today, capturing field recordings, in the age of musical omnipresence, where genre classifications mean next to nothing and music traditions and styles can essentially be passed on through a day’s worth of scrolling through the internet? More or less, this has been a major question that the Folkadelphia team has posed to each other and to musicians since we started recording our in-studio sessions.

Most of the Folkadelphia Sessions that we premiere each week are already slighty different than the majority of studio recordings that you hear – the big difference is that we are somewhat technologically limited. Whereas many recording studios use multi-tracking devices that allow for overdubbing and significant post-production work, we use a two-track recording set-up that does not allow for major post-recording tweaks. In short, instead of focusing on recording individual instruments and spending time constructing a song after the fact, we have to focus on recording a good overall performance from the band, mixing on the fly as a band play unadorned in the live room. Every artist and band that arrives poses a fun challenge for us, how to best capture their sound, and it also makes us feel that we are at least peripherally following in the tradition of the older, raw, live folk records that we adore. But we thought that we could go even further with our set-up and that’s when the Alan Lomax question started cropping up.

Enter Skinny Lister, English based raucous folk outfit who this year released one of our favorite records, Forge & Flagon. Drawing from the long lineage of pub sing-a-longs and combined with the reckless abandon of folk-punk aesthetics, Skinny Lister is a force to behold. Not only are they entirely exciting to watch, being in the room with them, the energy is supercharged, but they are skillful musicians to boot. As we contemplated a modern day Lomaxian project, we decided we wanted to bring into the fold musicians that exemplified a musicality that bridged between older folk traditions and modern day spirit. We could not have asked for a better band for our first foray into field recording.

On April 24th, Team Folkadelphia left the safe confines of our normal place of business, the XPN Performance Studio, and drove over to the North Star Bar, where Skinny Lister was playing later that evening. We had arranged to capture the band playing in the NSB’s Victorian Dining Room, an ornate window-lit space on the second floor of the venue. We had decided that in keeping with the aesthetics of former field recordists, we would limit ourselves to using just a single microphone, in this case an early 1940’s era RCA ribbon microphone, to display a moment in time, what Skinny Lister sounded like in Spring of 2013, Philadelphia.

As you’ll hear, the band is utterly exhuberant, in their element, singing and yawping together through a set of songs from Forge & Flagon. Though the music is contemporary, I like to think the recording sounds timeless, a sonic message from the past uncovered in the present. Somewhere, I hope Alan Lomax is smiling on us.