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Unlocked: Get visually stimulated as we PREMIER The National Rifle’s “Coke Beat” video

When I described The National Rifle‘s song “Coke Beat” in our album review yesterday, I used the word “glimmering.” Funny how a visual metaphor seemed appropriate for the song, since the music video that we’re premiering today – which I got a first look at late last night – is all about perception, sight and the unseen.

TNR’s keyboardist / vocalist Lynna Stancato explained that the band knew that it didn’t want to release a music video that was “funny” or “cute.” The group as a whole was inspired by found footage productions a la Bowie and Queen’s “Under Pressure” music video, while singer and songwriter Hugh Moretta’s had his own fascination with macro photography. So the result is a frenetic and trippy montage of frenzied eyeballs, close-ups of cells and molecules, insects, paint being applied to impressionist canvases, edited together by filmmaker Brian Carroll.

“You notice that the video gets more and more colorful towards the end of the video, which is on purpose,” writes Stancato. “Overall I think the concept is seeing things for what the truly are. Although I particularly like how the eyes kind of ‘freak out’ throughout the video because, to me, it represents how we are not always prepared for what we may find out.” Watch our premier of The National Rifle’s “Coke Beat” video below.

Almost Endless is the featured album in this week’s edition of Unlocked; download the spotlighted single “Street Burn” in Monday’s post, read yesterday’s album review and check back later in the week for interviews, video and more.

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Unlocked: The Key’s review of Almost Endless by The National Rifle

There are ways to deal with frustration and disappointment through music. You could take the pouty, solitary route – and certainly, singers from Nick Drake to Night Beds have done that with breathtaking results. You can do the aggro-bummer thing – I think of course of the nu-metal nadir of aughties angsty “modern rock.” Or, you could do something that’s less of a drag, something that doesn’t stew in upsetness but channels it into a positive release.

Now, I can’t claim to know what exactly Hugh Moretta and his bandmates in The National Rifle are upset about. They don’t provide us with many specific lyrical clues, either. There a lot of vagueness about not wanting, and not having. But on the new Almost Endless – the band’s full-length debut, and it’s most refined effort to date – the frustration is palpable, as is the joy.

Having garnered a reputation as a hard-touring party band on the night club / house show circuit, TNR’s sound was formerly scraggly and boisterous. But with a few notable exceptions – “Jazz History of the World” from the Vanity Press EP, and it’s self-depricating opening stroke “I’m the same age my mother was when she had me, but I’m not grown up” -  it didn’t particularly tug at any emotions, short of “let’s have fun.” This album takes that honest, reflective side of the band and chases it full speed ahead. Continue reading →

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Unlocked: Download “Street Burn” from The National Rifle’s Almost Endless

Photo via PhilaMOCA

Up to this point, we’ve known and loved The National Rifle as the mischievous, loveable scamps of the Philadelphia rock scene. They’re goofy, irreverent, and a bit ribald. But they write hooky songs, release solid EPs and reliably slay in concert – Exhibit A: this video of “Bad News from the District”, performed live at Kung Fu Necktie in August of 2010. But on Almost Endless, the debut LP the band recorded last year and released last week, there’s a real sense of growth and maturity. Might be the glossy, New Wave-inspired sound that carries across the album. Could be the older-wiser thing, given that TNR has been at it for about seven years now. Or maybe they were just ready to make music on a bigger scale.

We’re exploring the album all week on Unlocked, The Key’s regular showcase of new and significant releases from Philadelphia-area artists. Tomorrow I’ll review the album; later in the week we’ll premier a new video, and chat with the band. Today, we’ve got a download of a personal favorite track on the album – “Street Burn.” They played this song in our studio two years ago, when they recorded their Key Studio Session – back then it didn’t have a name, but it had a distinctively synth-heavy sound, bridging the band’s worlds; riled-up rockers and synth-pop adventurers. Thanks to the band, we’re making it available as a free download this week, so grab it below. And check back all week for more from Almost Endless on Unlocked.

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: The National Rifle at Johnny Brenda’s, Everyone Everywhere at The Barbary, The Weeks at MilkBoy, JD Malone at Burlap and Bean, XPN Welcomes Lee Fields & The Expressions to World Cafe Live

With an album release a mere two weeks away, The National Rifle headline Johnny Brenda’s tonight.  Almost Endless will be the Philly band’s first full-length, following up four EPs that span a seven year career.  With glam rock vocals, spacey synths and a pulsing bass line, The Nationals Rifle’s new recordings move the quartet away from the punk vibes of their previous releases and into the world of Bowie and M83 dipped in dream pop.  Tickets and information for tonight’s 21+ show with The New Connection and Crills Wilson can be found here.  Below, stream “Glass Line” from Almost Endless.

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: The Menzingers opening for The Gaslight Anthem at The Electric Factory, The National Rifle at PhilaMOCA, Shelby Lynne at World Cafe Live, Twin Sister at Union Transfer, Modern Inventors at The Note

Philly punk rockers The Menzingers released their major label debut On the Impossible Past in February after wowing Bad Religion guitarist and Epitaph Records founder Brett Gurewitz.  Tonight, the Scranton-born outfit opens for New Jersey’s The Gaslight Anthem at The Electric Factory.  Tickets and more information can be found here.  Watch The Menzingers’ video for “Nice Things” below.

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Hear a new song from The National Rifle, “Glass Line”

Gnarly Philly-area rock four-piece The National Rifle are releasing their full-length debut Almost Endless on January 22, 2013, and today they released another track from it called “Glass Line.” Like it’s predecessor, “Coke Beat,” this song is centered around synthesizer textures and melodic vocals; this time, however, keyboardist Lynna Stancato sings lead and the band doesn’t dwell in atmospheric synthesizers before letting the beat kick in, it simply gets down to business. It’s almost a 90s dreampop song (Saint Etienne, My Favorite), just as much as its almost a 00s pop song (Ke$sha? Maybe / maybe not?)…and it rocks hard to boot. Give it a listen below, keep tabs on the album’s progress at TNR’s Facebook page. The band is playing Goldilocks Gallery in Center City this Saturday, October 27.

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Jason Karaban at Tin Angel, Blayer PointduJour at MilkBoy, Jello Biafra at the Trocadero, and Arctic Splash at Johnny Brenda’s

Philly-bred singer-songwriter Jason Karaban returns home from L.A. tonight to celebrate the release of his new album, Shift, which came out on September 4th. Karaban joined WXPN’s Helen Leicht on her show Leicht Lunch on Wednesday to play a few songs from his new album and his song “Misplaced” was Wednesday’s My Morning Download. Now, WXPN is welcoming Karaban to the Tin Angel tonight for a 21+ CD release party. The show kicks off at 7:30 p.m. and tickets are available here for $10. Below, watch the video for “Misplaced” from Jason Karaban’s new album.

Haitian kompa musician Blayer PointduJour just released his first full-length album this week with his band, the Rockers Galore. To celebrate, PointduJour is playing a record release show at MilkBoy Philly. The 21+ show also features I Yahn I Arkestra, The National Rifle, and Philadelphia Slick. Doors open at 8:30 p.m. and the show starts at 9:30 p.m. Tickets are available here for $10. Blayer PointduJour was also this week’s Unlocked band on The Key. Check out The Key’s album review of his new record The Bull here and listen to his song “One Hit” in the player below.

Former Dead Kennedys lead singer Jello Biafra is headed to Philly tonight for an all ages show at the Trocadero with his band, the Guantanamo School of Medicine. The show also features performances by The Ray Gradys, Honah Lee, and Thee Nosebleeds. Doors open at 7 p.m. and the show starts at 8 p.m. Tickets are available here for $15.

Finally, Philly bands Arctic Splash, Weird Hot are playing St. James & the Apostles‘s record release show tonight at Johnny Brenda’s. The doors for the 21+ show open at 8:00 p.m. and the show starts at 9:15 p.m. Tickets are available for $10 here. Vinyl copies of St. James & the Apostles’ new album, Baphomet, will be available at the show.

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Listen to “Coke Beat,” the new single from The National Rifle

This just in from The National Rifle: the debut full-length they’ve been recording at Miner Street, Almost Endless, is wrapped up and ready for a late 2012 release. Below, you can hear the album’s first single, “Coke Beat.” In itself, it might just be the best thing these goofy rockers have ever done, a pensive number simmering in haunting synths until the beat slams in. The prospect of a full album of equal measure is kind of staggering. Well done, TNR!

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The National Rifle, Sherman, Sunny Ali and the Kid and more play last Rockers show at Tritone tonight

After a half-dozen years raising eclectic hell on a monthly basis, the Rockers gang is having its last hurrah at Tritone tonight before the famed bar / venue stops hosting live music. On the bill are Key Studio Sessions alums The National Rifle, along with minimal cowboy punks Sunny Ali and the Kid, the rock-n-soul swagger of The Baptist Preachers, gritty grunge heads Sherman the Band and series hosts Mighty Paradocs. The 21+ show begins promptly at 9 p.m., and we expect it to go late as the crew burns the house down (not literally, of course) with it’s trademark boundary-blurring bravado that mixes up folks of different ages, cultures and scenes. When the dust settles (again, not literally), Rockers plans to relocate to The Legendary Dobbs at 15th and South – but this is one farewell party you won’t want to miss. Check out tracks from some of the bands and watch a series preview below.

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Tonight’s concert picks: Hank and Cupcake with Gang and Pink Skull at Milkboy, White Birds at Johnny Brenda’s, The Zombies at the Keswick

Tonight’s concert picks:

When it comes to indie-rock bands that are composed of romantically involved couples (Mates Of State, The Rosebuds, Handsome Furs), Hank And Cupcakes offers something slightly off-kilter. For one thing, the married pair hails from Israel; for another, along with their silly adopted monikers, the two sport a cheerfully irreverent sensibility. The video for “Hit” features Hank And Cupcakes cavorting in nothing but body paint. With growing popularity and a new album in the works, Hank And Cupcakes is poised to spread its dance party aesthetic beyond the band’s Brooklyn base. Hank And Cupcakes performs with Gang and Pink Skull at 9 p.m. at Milkboy Philly; tickets to the 21+ show are $10. —Kiley Bense

Also Playing:
Blayer PointDuJour + The National Rifle, Adam And Dave’s Bloodline at The Philadelphia Mausoleum of Contemporary Art (8 p.m., $10)
Purples + White Birds, Mike Quinn at Johnny Brenda’s (9:15 p.m., 21+, $10)
Mutlu + George Stanford at World Cafe Live (Downstairs) (8 p.m., $21–$31)
The Zombies + Acoustic Strawbs at Keswick (8 p.m., $29.50-$48.50)
Ian Axel, Bess Rogers and Allie Moss at World Cafe Live (Upstairs) (7:30 p.m. $10 plus $3 service charge) Download a tour sampler from Axel, Rogers and Moss right below.

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