PREMIERE: The Extraordinaires video for “Blue Moon,” the story behind Dress for Nasty Weather, and their creative new label

Photo courtesy of the band.
Photo courtesy of the band.

Matt Gibson had a tough decision to make in 2011. He either had to figure out how to keep his band, the Extraordinaires, alive in the wake of Punk Rock Payroll, the record label they’d been a part of going under, or accept an offer to go on tour playing in Man Man.

He ended up accepting and touring with Man Man as a multi-instrumentalist in support of their album Life Fantastic until 2012. His experience touring in a nationally recognized act didn’t yield the results he’d originally imagined though.

“I think I was going into it with a lot higher hopes of meeting more people and meeting more people that wanted to hear new music, or being able to share the Extraordinaires music with them,” Gibson says. “Or meeting people to make contacts with them that may be able to help with the Extraordinaires. But now looking back, that may have been a naive thought. Because the reality of it is that everybody is trying to do the same thing and you really need to have something that’s impressive to peak your head out above everybody else’s. Nobody really cares unless there’s really some hype behind it.”

But he did come away with added comfort for playing in front of larger crowds among other things that helped his main band after rejoining in 2012, which come up later in this piece.

However, Gibson later found out what he thought about bands needing hype to catch the attention of the public may not be true. He and the rest of the Extraordinaires took the crowd-sourcing approach in the winter of 2012 to aid in releasing their upcoming album, Dress for Nasty Weather, their first on their new label, Color Theory Records, which they are running with Justin Wolf of Lux Perpetua. Through a Kickstarter campaign the Extraordinaires surpassed their goal by $2,000.

“Because for what we accomplished with Punk Rock Payroll,” Jay Purdy says, “it was really hard to lose that support system. But it was really inspiring to know that people had taken notice enough that we could do another book.”

Now working under the Color Theory flag, the Extraordinaires want to “keep the spirit of Punk Rock Payroll alive,” as Purdy puts it about the original label that released their first couple albums – with handmade books.

“Our current goal is to be an outlet for bands to do interesting releases,” he says. “As far as vinyl, CDs and digital downloads go that’s kind of standard practice. Because when we were on Punk Rock Payroll, simply by aggregating all of our resources, we were able to do these really unique releases.”

Punk Rock Payroll started as a small merchandise company in 2003, by Frede Zimmer focusing on buttons and screen printing and eventually grew into to being a label for a small roster of bands. Releases on PRP weren’t just conventional CDs, tapes, vinyl records, or even digital downloads, but much more. The boutique label put out music that were more like art projects than just albums.

For example, the Extraordinaires have put out each of their albums on CD accompanied by a hard bound book with the albums’ lyrics printed on its pages. This is more than appropriate for the band’s tendency of telling stories in their music. A song about to come out on Dress for Nasty Weather and personal favorite of Purdy’s is “Stray Bullet,” a tune that he says a bit like a modern version of Pinocchio but a bit darker. And don’t forget about “The Egg of Columbus,” from 2009’s Electric and Benevolent that tells the story of that certain Italian that discovered the Americas. And from the upcoming Dress for Nasty Weather, they are bringing their first music video to light for “Blue Moon.” In it each member of the band plays the role of a Charlie Chaplin-like character, meets what Purdy describes as an “Amerlia Earhart character,” document their day together with her and maybe fall for her, too.

Continue reading →


Interview: Laser Background’s Andy Molholt and Norwegian Arms’ Brendan Mulvihill on making music in unconventional spaces (house show tour begins tomorrow)

Laser Background
Laser Background

Yesterday evening, Andy Molholt of Philadelphia psych-pop group Laser Background and his longtime friend Brendan Mulvihill of the junkyard folk act Norwegian Arms moved into Dreamcastle, a house-show space in South Philadelphia. They’re living there temporarily, leading up to the kickoff show of their house show “tour” tomorrow night. The plan is an imaginative one: the band is performing four DIY spaces in Philly over the next four weeks. They have to live in each house for two days prior to the show, possibly constructing a pillow fort. They must adhere to “a strict food / drug regimen.” And they’ve got to write music, and perform the results. I grabbed drinks with Molholt and Mulvihill last week to talk about the unconventional residency series, its ambitions, and their affinity for Philly’s vibrant DIY scene.

THE KEY: Let’s sum up this mini-tour (that you’re not leaving the city for). You’re playing four house shows, and the rules are you have to stay in the house two days before playing the show, and collaborative preparational activities will take place while you’re staying there…

ANDY MOLHOLT: Collaborative preparational activities, I like that.

BRENDAN MULVIHILL: That’s really good.

AM: Make sure you put that in there.

TK: …and a song may result that you’ll perform at the show?

AM: More like a song must result.

BM: It’s a must?

AM: It’s a must! We’re good enough songwriters.

BM: We’re in this house for three days, we might as well do something.

AM: We didn’t really ever talk about if the song was going to be collaborative or not, we still have to figure that out. I thought we’d each write a song for our respective projects and perform them as our respective projects. But since I play in Norwegian Arms, and Brendan’s going to play in Laser Background for one of these shows where some of the guys can’t make it, maybe we can do that too.

BM: We’re not entirely sure what’s going to happen. It’s kind of just a big experiment. We might get into a fight. Or we might make out, that might be cool.

TK: It reminds me of the Netherfriends project where he lived in each state, had to write a song in each state. I guess that project is still ongoing. Was at all an influence on this project?

AM: If any of that factored in, it was definitely unintentional. I used to play with Netherfriends for a little bit, but I didn’t think about that. Residencies are kind of a silly idea to begin with – why would you want to go see a band in the same venue every night for four weeks straight?

BM: Not every night! “Come see us play 31 times…”

AM: [laughs] You know what I mean, though. I get that it’s good for the venue if the band’s popular enough. And you get different crowds each night because there’s different openers playing. But I just think it’s kind of silly. I thought it would funny to self-anoint our own residency at house shows. Then the actual living there idea developed, and Brendan had the idea that we had to write songs too.

BM: I mean, why not, right? Only seems natural.

AM: Brendan and I have known each other since we were 13, so these kinds of ideas come naturally.

BM: And we’re used to sleepovers. Continue reading →


Laser Background releases a zany music video for “Weird Conscience” (playing Kungfu Necktie on 7/19)

After the absurdist Philadelphia psychedelic pop foursome The Armchairs disbanded just over a year ago, co-songwriter Andy Molholt focused his energies into Laser Background, a zany one-man project cut very much from similar cloth. The self-titled EP he digitally released in the winter is bright, fast, catchy, a bit quirky and far-out, but in a way that makes you want to rush along and join it. Musically, it easily recalls The Apples In Stereo and Of Montreal. Next week Molholt celebrates the EP’s physical release – on cassette via the UK’s Stroll On Records tape label, and on 7″ via Molholt’s own imprint – with an appearance at Kung Fu Necktie in Fishtown. Leading up to the show, Laser Background yesterday released a video for “Weird Conscience,” filmed in various locales around north-eastern Montgomery County and Bucks County. (Love the shots on the wooden horse playground at Peace Valley Park – many a splinter I suffered growing up as a result of those things.) The video is a total blast, and you can check it out below while making plans to catch the band next Thursday. Laser Background, Arrah and The Ferns and Circadian Rhythms play Kung Fu Necktie, 1250 North Front St., on Thurs. July 19 at 8 p.m. Admission to the 21+ show is $5.

Laser Background – Weird Conscience from Laser Background on Vimeo.


This Weekend’s Picks: Adele, The Loom, Simone Felice, Dutch, Fake Problems, Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr., The Armchairs

The Loom

The Loom simply plays folk music—or, at its most complex, chamber-folk music. The six-piece Brooklyn-based act has horns, ukulele, piano, and some (primarily undistorted) guitars; they don’t add reverb or loops or lo-fi or beats. But the distinctly folk sound is only one way in which The Loom serves as a reminder of the past. Sure, the band’s increasing popularity has pushed it into the blog realm—but, for an indie band, a surprising amount of its acclaim comes from old media. The New York Times called it “the next big thing” in folk music, The New Yorker used the word “beloved,” and The Loom’s music has been used on Good Morning America. In interviews, the band members talk about the meanings behind their songs, and about the joy music brings them. They possess a sincerity that is rare in the ironic, apathetic, or deliberately ambiguous demeanor of today’s musicians. The Loom performs with Christopher Paul Stelling, Psalmships, Annachristie of Sisters3, Former Belle at 9 p.m. at Danger Danger Gallery; tickets to the all-ages show are $5-$10. —Dave Simpson

Also playing: Adele + The Civil Wars at Electric Factory (8:30 p.m., SOLD OUT); Mason Jennings + Birdie Busch at World Cafe Live (8 p.m., $25-$42); Dutch at the Philadelphia Museum of Art (5 p.m., all ages, $8); Simone Felice at First Unitarian Church (8 p.m., all ages, $15); The Armchairs (last show) +  Dinosaur Feathers, The Circadian Rhythms, Orbit to Leslie at Johnny Brenda’s (9 p.m., 21+, $10); WXPN Welcomes Danielia Cotton + Peter Bradley Adams at Tin Angel (7:30 p.m., 21+, $15); Hezekiah Leaves & The Spinning Joneses + The Extraordinaires, Nic Esposito, Joshua Park at Bookspace (8 p.m., all ages, $12); Reverend Horton Heat + The Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band at Theatre Of Living Arts (9 p.m., $31.25)

Fake Problems is about keeping the drama to a minimum, and getting the work done. The Naples, Fla. natives know what hard work feels like, having been consistently touring since 2006, and enduring a long growth process from a one-man DIY beginning to a thriving four piece outfit. Since Fake Problems’ rough beginnings, its sound has developed organically—never making a drastic shift or sharply redefining itself, but rather drifting from alt-country pop rock (with a touch of banjo) to an indie sound that reflects its sleepy, beach-front home town. Front man Chris Farren says their newest album, Real Ghosts Caught On Tape, has touches that show how the band’s constant state of development has diversified its influences in the past few years. You can hear some Look Mexico, Phil Spector, M. Ward, Prince, and even some Kanye-inspired lyrics, all held together by a jangly, beach vibe. Although the band is founded on a “no problem” mentality (hence the name), Real Ghost’s second track “5678” openly tackles the self-indulgent dilemma of, as Farren describes, a Kanye-esque dichotomy of “I hate myself” and “I’m awesome” mentalities. Fake Problems performs with Pomegranates, Laura Stevenson and Into It Over It at 3 p.m. at North Star Bar; tickets to the all-ages show are $20. —Danielle Wayda

Perhaps, Saturday night at Kung Fu Necktie, the members of Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. will take off their NASCAR jumpsuits, remove all of their faux-patriotic stage clutter (red, white, and blue streamers, a light-up American flag), shave their mustaches, and change their band name to something meaningful. Until then, audiences will have to skip past the overbearing irony and focus on the duo’s mature, meaningful music. For a band that shies from seriousness, its music hits hard: both band members play lightly-fuzzed electric guitars, deriving rhythm from drum beats and solid bassy guitar riffs. Some songs are soulful falsettos, others are synthy and electronic; the lyrics, meanwhile, are creative and thoughtful, with only the occasional gimmick. They sing well-crafted melodies, playing off the other’s harmonies, like an electronic Simon And Garfunkel…in NASCAR jumpsuits. Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. performs with Generationals at 7 p.m. at Kung Fu Necktie; tickets to the 21+ show are $10. —Dave Simpson

Also playing: XPN Welcomes Southern Culture On The Skids at Sellersville Theater (6 & 9:30 p.m., $25); XPN Welcomes Warren Haynes at Tower Theatre (8 p.m., $63); Buried Beds + Ape School, In One Wind at Johnny Brenda’s (9 p.m., 21+, $10)

Party Photographers + Dikes Of Holland, Dangerbird at Danger Danger Gallery (9 p.m., all ages, $5-$10); Blue October + The Soldier Thread (8 p.m., SOLD OUT)


Philly Local Philes: The Armchairs’ “Owl Hands”

When The Armchairs appeared on the Y-Rock Philly Local in 2009, Andrew Morris recited science texts through wacky vocal filters and singer-guitarist Andy Molholt took phone calls from his mom while on-air. Ever since then, the Fishtown oddballs have had a special place in my heart. The band has sadly come to the end of its road: tomorrow night’s show at Johnny Brenda’s is its last. But they’re going out on a high note, on the heels of a fantastic album (last year’s Science And Advice), at a point where they’re all still buds and able to talk up how great one another’s solo pursuits are shaping up to be. Tonight, Molholt is visiting the Philly Local second shift to reminisce about the band, talk about its reasons for disbanding, give us a preview of the show, and telling us what everybody’s got in the pipeline. Tune in at 10 to hear him take the airwaves, download today’s Philly Phile—a version of “Owl Hands” from that 2009 session—and check out the farewell extravaganza tomorrow night.


The Key and YVYNYL Present: SXSWPHILLY 2011

Going to this year’s SXSW? Many Philly bands are heading to Austin for the music conference starting next week and this year WXPN and The Key along with Philly based music blogger YVYNYL (Mark Schoenveld) are presenting SXSWPHILLY 2011 on Thursday, March 17th starting at High Noon Austin time at the The Broken Neck. The show, organized by Pat Troxell of Creepoid, is free and will feature two stages and 12 bands.

12:00 – 12:20  – Nicos Gun
12:30 – 12:50 – Suede Uppers
1:00 – 1:20 – Arrah and the Ferns
1:30 – 1:50 – The Armchairs
2:00 – 2:20 – The Spinto Band
2:30 – 2:50 – Slutever
3:00 – 3:20  – Far-out Fangtooth
3:30 – 3:50 – Creepoid
4:00 – 4:20 – Golden Ages
4:30 – 4:50 – Reading Rainbow
5:00 – 5:20  – Nothing
5:30 – 5:50 – The Spooks


This Weekend’s Concert Picks: Moon Women, Ladies Auxiliary, Power Animal, Grimace Federation, Slutever, Grandchildren

Slutever performs 1/15 at Kung Fu Necktie

If you hadn’t noticed by the header, this weekend is more than packed with good shows. And you can’t attend them all, which means you’ve got some decisions to make.

Philadelphia reverb-rock trio Moon Women opens (alongside Roanoke, VA’s Eternal Summers) for Detroit’s Tyvek in a No Wavelength show at 8 p.m. at Cha-cha’razzi. Given that the majority of tonight’s other shows feature local headliners (who’ll likely be playing again in the area much sooner than Tyvek or Eternal Summers will), it’s a good night to catch these two out-of-town acts. Also playing: Ladies Auxiliary at Kung Fu Necktie (8 p.m., 21+, $5); Power Animal + Hello Shark, Taco Kitty, Snow Caps at Danger Danger Gallery (9 p.m., all ages, $5-$10); Grimace Federation + Caveman, Somata at North Star Bar (9 p.m., 21+, $10).

Two of The Key’s favorites, Slutever (with Omar + Easter Vomit at Kung Fu Necktie; 7:30 p.m., $21, $5) and Grandchildren (with We Are Hex  + Fake Babies, TRTL at The Ox; 8 p.m., $5) perform in relatively close proximity to each other on Saturday night. Meaning, if you plan your night accordingly, you can probably catch both. (Which we’d recommend.)

Local ’60s-pop-inspired quartet The Armchairs perform with Horse’s Mouth + Virtual Virgin, Paper Masques at Kung Fu Necktie (8 p.m., 21+, $5).


This Weekend’s Concerts: Strand Of Oaks, Old 97’s, The Armchairs, Dangerous Ponies

Strand Of Oaks

Strand Of Oaks performs 12/10 at Johnny Brenda’s

Beardo-musician-dude-has-the-blues is a common theme among angst-ridden indie-folk albums written by solo artists from the warm comfort of their own bedroom. But Strand Of Oaks‘ Timothy Showalter has straight-up lived it the experience. By now, the story of Showalter losing most of his earthly possessions in a house fire—right around the same time his fiancée left him, no less—forcing him into homelessness is the stuff of, uh, indie-rock mini-legend. That situation provided much of the inspiration for his intimate debut album, Leave Ruin. But Showalter’s latest, Pope Killdragon, forgoes Ruin‘s confessional tone, opting instead for a storytelling approach that is every bit as fantastical as the album’s title suggests. You won’t find Showalter’s innermost feelings here: however, you will find creepy monsters and Dan Aykroyd. Strand Of Oaks performs with Crooked Fingers and Cotton Jones at 9 p.m. at Johnny Brenda’s; tickets to the 21+ show are $12.

Also playing: Jukebox The Ghost + The Meligrove Band, Dynamite Walls at First Unitarian Church (7:30 p.m., all ages, $10-$12)

Old 97s + Hayes Carll at Theatre Of Living Arts (9 p.m. $32.25); The Armchairs + Illinois, Da Comrade!, Arrah And The Ferns at The Blockley Pourhouse (8 p.m., 21+, $6); The Punk Rock Flea Market at The Punk Rock Flea Market Dome (10 a.m.-5 p.m., all ages, $3)

The Yule Ball 2010 w/Harry And The Potters + The Whomping Willows, Justin Finch-Fletchley And The Sugar Quills, MC Kreacher, The Terror Pigeon Dance Revolt!, Rich Aucion at First Unitarian Church (5 p.m., all ages, $15); Dangerous Ponies + The Sidekicks, Brick Mower, Dirt Farmer, Ah Horse Hockey at The Fire (7 p.m., all ages, $7)