“Life and death are opposing shores,” sang Josh Marsh to the upstairs crowd at World Cafe Live on Tuesday. “But we walk along till our feet are sore.”
Maybe it was the grey afternoon and licks of ice patching the sidewalk. Maybe it was the reminder of a ridiculously treacherous travel conditions not 36 hours before that had semis plummeting around the highway, claiming the lives of four commuters and injuring dozens more. Maybe it was my friend at the bar, moved by the headlines, talking about the preciousness of life.
In any case, the Tuesday night tour homecoming by Philly’s Rosu Lup struck a tremendous chord in that regard, imbuing tragedy with beauty in an explosive catharsis. Continue reading →
A solid triple bill of Philly music is setting up shop upstairs at World Cafe Live tonight. The symphonic, ethereal indie-folk outfit Rosu Lup is headlining the show; the project of songwriter Jonathan Stewart released its latest single, “Hem,” last week and is gradually shaping up a followup to their 2013 EP Currents. (Download their Folkadelphia session here.) Joining them are indie rock literati The Chairman Dances, whose 2014 record The Death of Samuel Miller was a conceptual narrative following the life of a single parent from the 50s through the 90s. (Read Kate Bracaglia’s interview with the band here.) Rounding out the lineup is Caroline Reese from Reading, a countrified pop songwriter with strong hooks and an engaging voice. She released her EP The Electric Year last may and also recorded a Folkadelphia session that you can download here. Tickets and more information on the show can be found at the XPN Concert Calendar. Listen to music from each of the artists below. Continue reading →
Monday kicked off with a My Morning Download from Sonny Landreth. The Legendary guitarist was on World Cafe for the show’s Sense of Place: Lafayette special recently and he performed a rocking version of his song “Native Son.” Get a free download of the song below and listen back to the full interview and performance here.
Local art-rockers The Chairman Dances have released a cover of “Someday, Some Morning, Sometime,” a song with lyrics by Woody Guthrie and music by Jeff Tweedy and Billy Bragg and appearing on Mermaid Avenue Vol II.
The Chairman Dances’ version was premiered on XPN’s Sleepy Hollow with Julian Booker last weekend and comes along with the announcement of a new EP; Samantha Says will be recorded with Daniel Smith (Sufjan Stevens, mewithoutYOU) and is the follow up to Chairman Dances’ 2014 The Death of Samuel Miller. Stream and download the cover below.
The Chairman Dances just released a music video for what will be their first single off their new album, The Death of Samuel Miller. The track is titled “Dance to the Neighbor’s Stereo,” and it’s going to be the catchiest song you hear today. You can’t not like it. If you say you don’t like it, then you’re just lying to yourself.
The video is set in the year 1990, with the band members displaying typical 90s fashion trends such as flannel shirts, ugly sweaters, and Michael Jordan Bulls jerseys. The band acts as a stereo, blasting their music loudly so the neighbors can hear and dance along. But keep a look out for the single’s release this Tuesday, and the album’s release on June 27th via Grizzly Records (they’ll be playing the Rotunda on Walnut Street this same night).
Year End Mania is the Key’s survey of the things below the surface that made 2013 awesome. In this installment, our trusted reporter Kate Bracaglia talks Philly tunes.
Living in Philadelphia, I’m always blown away by how many amazing artists there are right in our back yard, crafting tunes capable of filling many, many carefully curated playlists. 2013 was no exception. There were so many great songs released this year that picking just five was really tough. And so—in support of all the unsigned and DIY bands out there—I limited myself to tunes that were self-released or on small indie labels (sorry Kurt Vile/Man Man/Purling Hiss). These are bands you might not have heard of yet, but who are very capable of becoming new faves. Happy 2013!
5. Laser Background, “Disappearing Ink”
The first tune off Laser Background’s first full-length, Super Future Montage, teems with lush vocal layers, wiggly guitar lines, and Andy Molholt’s nasally vocals. Molholt tells John Vettese the record was inspired by childhood, Roald Dahl books, and imagination, a combo that apparently yields breezy, summertime pop.
Opening this Friday at Port Richmond’s Pterodactyl Gallery, the Unnatural Behaviour exhibit is a month-long celebration of up-and-coming Philadelphia artists – illustrators Jenn Hall and Luca Chiriani, painter Nicholas Stathopoulos and more – and Philly art-pop luminaries The Chairman Dances will headline the opening night concert. The band released its ambitious second LP Michael and the Prophetess earlier this year, blending literary allusions, modern classical motifs and pop songwriting (read Kate Bracaglia’s interview here); to coincide with the Pterodactyl opening, they released a music video for “The Words Came Out at Once,” the song that opens the LP in a progressive swell, building from airy and minimal to orchestral. The music video, produced by J. Randolph Brown and Steady State Productions, follows band members through black and white Old City with an alluring color overlay. Check it out below, and find out more about the Unnatural Behaviour opening at its Facebook event page.
Philly-based group The Chairman Dances, whose latest LP Michael and the Prohetess is available now via their Bandcamp, recently took a break from writing their own music to do a charming cover of Joni Mitchell’s “Blonde in the Bleachers” from her 1972 album For The Roses. Check out the Gregor Knell-directed video for the cover below, as well as the original, and be sure to catch The Chairman Dances this coming Friday, August 2nd, when they’ll be performing at Milkboy Philly. More info can be found here.
If the Philly music scene were a school, The Chairman Dances would be the library, an endless trove of information and stories; if it were a food court, they’d be an artisan bakery, selling handmade pastries crafted with care. The Philly art-pop foursome take a classical, craftsmen approach to songwriting—while other bands are getting stoned in the basement and jamming mindlessly, The Chairman Dances are fastidiously arranging string and horn parts, and working in allusions to their favorite literary works. It’s all in a day’s work for the band, whose members all boast music degrees, and whose new LP Michael and the Prophetess, out Friday, teems with lush strings, horns, and yes, allusions.
“We’re sort of library band,” says bassist Ben Rosen with a smile.
It’s an appropriate description, given that Rosen met vocalist/guitarist Eric Krewson while working at U Penn’s rare books department; the friends teamed up with drummer Mike Giuliana (a classmate of Krewson’s) in 2010, and The Chairman Dances were born. Guitarist Andrew Ciampa came on board earlier this year, rounding out the current line-up.
The band’s name is a nod to the 1985 outtake of John Adam’s opera Nixon in China, which Krewson (who adapted the moniker while still an undergrad), finds particularly inspiring. The rest of the band shares his fervor. “Modern classical music has always had an influence on our songwriting,” says Ciampa.
As eldest statesman, Krewson is the band’s primary songwriter. A wiry, bookish type who graduated from Drexel’s music industry program, and Temple’s musicology program, he gushes about the influences of Mikhail Bulgakov (who Michael was named after), Vladimir Nabokov, and Gabriel García Márquez in his songwriting, and explains how Michael employs magical realism to access complex emotions.
“In some ways I think that [magical realism] can be more true than writing in a sort of Hemingway style,” he explains, noting how Michael fuses the magical and the mundane— “because I think when you make that leap, or use hyperbole in that way, it can resonate more emotionally.”
Michael tells the story of a young man growing up in 1956 Brooklyn, and peppers its narrative with supernatural elements. Continue reading →