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The Key Studio Sessions: The Interest Group

Philly psych-pop outfit The Interest Group made a splash before they were even really a band. On the heels of his involvement with local projects Blackhawks and Bananas Symphony, Yohsuke Araki teamed up with fellow singer-guitarist Marissa Lesnick to record a cover of the late 60s nugget “The Boys and The Girls” by The Network. The song was so infectious that, before The Interest Group had a full lineup or had even played its first show, it got a Pitchfork writeup. This set the bar relatively high for the fledgling band, and while it didn’t follow up immediately, it followed up admirably – with last summer’s Passenger 7″, a winning set at Little Berlin’s Fairgrounds Block Party, with another new EP in February, and even more new songs recorded this week for The Key Studio Sessions. The band is fleshed out with bassist Kyle Garvey and drummer Steven Urgo, and the songs they recorded are pure modern pop gold. Rooted in snapy sounds and jangling melodies reminiscent of The Left Banke, 13th Floor Elevators and The Zombies, the band adds nice contemporary experimental florishes – backwards loops, white noise, dissonant breakdowns – making the saccharine more gritty. Listen to their set and grab free downloads below; “Locked On” can be found on EP1, released in February, and the rest of the tracks are brand new. To hear more, mark your calendar for May 14th, when The Interest Group plays the Underground Arts black box with King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard.

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Pi Lam announces line-up for Human BBQ XXXVI, including Slingshot Dakota, Laser Background, Alex G and more

Slingshot Dakota | photo by Ryan Russell | www.ryanrussell.net
Slingshot Dakota | photo by Ryan Russell | www.ryanrussell.net

West Philly’s punk frat house Pi Lam has announced the line-up for its 36th annual Human BBQ, taking place Saturday, April 5th.  The 18-band, day-long festival will feature performers from across the genre spectrum, including Haverford fan favorites Alex G, psych-Americana outfit Heat Thunder and “rotten fuzz punk” four-piece Mumblr.  Heading up the meat and music event are upbeat pop punkers Slingshot Dakota, post-hardcore emo outfit Secret Plot to Destroy the Entire Universe and indie rockers Cold Fronts.  The mostly-local bill is filled out by Laser Background, Roof Doctor, ScooterJinx, Told Slant, Is and of The, No Stranger, Memorial Gore, The Interest Group, David Phosphor Walrus and Teenage Bigfoot.  More information can be found on the Facebook event page here.  Check out music from some of the acts below.

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Explore new soundscacpes on The Interest Group’s EP 1

The Interest Group | Photo by Max R. Holland
The Interest Group | Photo by Max R. Holland

Local indie psych band The Interest Group has released a new effort called EP 1.  The five-song collection comes after the four-piece’s 2013 debut 7″ “Passenger” / “Vagabond Dreamer.”

Songwriting partners Marissa Lesnick and Yohsuke Araki, along with bassist Kyle Garvey and drummer Steven Urgo, have developed a singular mood and sound over the last couple years, first manifested as their own with a cover of The Network’s “The Boys and The Girls.”  With EP 1, the 60s psych ripples out to encompass overtones from a variety of musical corners.  For example, though the Jefferson Airplane-esque snare rolls are present on “Locked On,” Lesnick’s vocal agility pulls more from a world music direction.  And lead track “Fear” opens with a soundscape reminiscent of Urgo’s atmospheric experimental / pop solo recordings from 2010 / 2011 before building into a mega-jam with crunchy guitars and Araki’s deep new wave vocals.

Stream the full EP below and check out their debut single here.

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Beyond Smoke and Mirrors: Mutual Benefit’s Jordan Lee on honest songwriting and unexpected success

Photo by Jessica Lehrman | via facebook.com/mutualbenefit
Photo by Jessica Lehrman | via facebook.com/mutualbenefit

Jordan Lee hopes Philadelphians aren’t big fans of fog machines.

The subject comes up almost immediately on the phone with the indie folk artist behind breakout band Mutual Benefit as he travels to St. Paul from Chicago, where he had just played a show at Lincoln Hall.

“There was a fog machine that was just going the whole time. That was a new experience for us, I think,” he says of the set, not letting on at first whether that new experience was good or bad. “Visually, it was pretty cool. I felt like a wizard of some sort. But also, it’s kind of poisonous, I think. It made my throat hurt by the end.”

Lee and the band of musicians he assembled to fill out Mutual Benefit’s live show will play a hopefully fog-less set at 8:30 p.m. Thursday at Boot & Saddle with local acts Lewis & Clarke and The Interest Group. Just like his aversion to gimmicks like this on stage, Lee’s brand of soulful, whimsical electro-tinged pop folk is also straightforward, without smoke and mirrors. It’s helped bring him acclaim for the band’s first LP, Love’s Crushing Diamond, which came out this past October.

Speaking to The Key from the tour van, Lee brings up a record review published in London that describes him as “an understated king of folk music.” New to such widespread praise for his music, he views quotes like this as more of an embarrassment than a compliment.

“It’s definitely not bad to hear that kind of stuff,” Lee says. “But I guess, if you get wrapped up too much in what you think about a thing that you made and how it’s received, then you’re kind of giving that same power to people to make you feel bad about something you made.”

Lee didn’t create Love’s Crushing Diamond with the idea that this many people would hear it. Continue reading →

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Swearin’ at Golden Tea House, The Interest Group at Boot & Saddle, Vikesh Kapoor at Kung Fu Necktie, and more

Swearin’ | Photo by Jesse Riggins

Swearin’ is throwing its record release show for their new album Surfing Strange. Gaining popularity in the underground scene, the punk four piece is known for shout-along lyrics, multiple vocalists, and raging guitar hooks – something you also hear on its 2012 self-titled release. With the excitement building around their new album, which received a 7.6/10 on Pitchfork, Golden Tea House is hosting Philly’s punk show of the night. Pick up Surfing Strange here and get more information on the show here.

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The Interest Group debut a new b-side, “Vagabond Dreamer,” via Interview Mag

philadelphia_magazine_interest_group_bandWith their debut 7″ The Passenger available for preorder as of yesterday, the Philly-based psychedelic indie band The Interest Group gave us a peek at its slow and swaying b-side, “Vagabond Dreamer.” Listen as the softly-plucked ballad strings together delicate harmonies, whispering Spanish guitar and poetic lyrics about an autumn love. “The thing about ‘Vagabond Dreamer’ is that lyrically it was written through stream of consciousness, yet it’s a story,” songwriter Yohsuke Araki tells Interview Magazine. Read how both Araki and songwriting partner, Marissa Lesnick, interpret the song here. Purchase a vinyl or digital copy of The Passenger 7″ here. Listen to “Vagabond Dreamer” below.

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Hilly Eye and Attia Taylor at the First Unitarian Church Side Chapel, Vacationer at Underground Arts, Shorty Boy Boy at MilkBoy, Free Energy and Bleeding Rainbow at Arden Gild Hall, Ape School and The Interest Group at Johnny Brenda’s

Titus Andronicus off-shoot Hilly Eye play the First Unitarian Church Side Chapel tonight with Attia Taylor.  Hilly Eye, the new Brooklyn-based duo project of drummer / vocalist Catherine Tung and guitarist / vocalist Amy Klein, have made fast moves in their short time as a band.  They released their first EP in 2010, followed by a 7″ on Don Giovanni last year and this year’s subsequent full-length Reasons to Live.  Pulling from the avant-noise tapestry of Lightning Bolt, Sonic Youth and the 90s “riot grrl” movement, Hilly Eye focus on transcendence both in their message and their sound with breathy vocals set against a backdrop of angular, heavy arrangements.  Tonight they play with Philly-to-Brooklyn transplant Attia Taylor, who just shared a few cuts from her upcoming album Luxurious Corners.  Tickets and information for the all-ages show can be found here.  Below, watch Hilly Eye perform “Amnesia” at 285 Kent in Brooklyn.

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