To say that Johnny Brenda’s has been crushing its New Year’s Eve game in recent years would be an understatement. After an epic 2012 with War on Drugs and a blazing 2013 with Screaming Females, last night the Fishtown venue had Hop Along bid farewell to 2014 with an explosive performance for a sold-out crowd. There was champagne, a 50s pop cover, an onstage engagement ceremony, the debut of two new songs and a whole lot of cathartic singing along. Continue reading →
Thin Lips made their Key Studio Session debut this week. A spin-off of former Philly outfit Dangerous Ponies, Thin Lips refocuses the latter’s carnivalesque energy into high-octane punk. For this session they recorded two tracks from a 7″ called Gemini Moon. Catch the band playing new material at Johnny Brenda’s on New Year’s Eve with Hop Along and check out the title track to the 7″ below.
Before Thin Lips, there was Dangerous Ponies. Frontwoman and songwriter Chrissy Tashjian, her brother Mikey on the drums and bassist Kyle Pulley were all part of Philly’s premiere indie rock carnival from 2008 till about 2013. That band was a total blast and a spectacle; glitter, brightly colored costumes, singalong hooks, big arrangements. When that crew split, Tashjian refocused her energy into a more simplified, straightforward punk rock direction. Continue reading →
Brooklyn lo-fi pop band Beverly will headline Boot and Saddle tonight. The group originally started as a project between Drew Citron and Frankie Rose (of Crystal Stilts and Vivian Girls). Since then, Citron has added band members Jamie Ingalls (from Chairlift) on drums and Scott Rosenthal on bass. The band just released their debut album Careers in July. They also released a video for ”Out on a Ride” off of Careers., shot with a VHS camcorder to give it a vintage, DIY feel. Watch it below. Beverly will be playing with local indie band Roof Doctor and fuzz pop duo Tender Vision. Get more info about the show at the XPN Concert Calendar. Continue reading →
Ben Walsh likens it to being in a relationship with someone nearly eight years when they to suddenly tell you, “I can’t do this anymore.”
“Obviously it took us by surprise when they told us that they weren’t going to continue on with the band,” he says of when three of the five members of his Scranton-bred, indie-leaning pop punk band Tigers Jaw decided to leave. “We kind of weren’t sure what was going to happen.”
Walsh and band mate Brianna Collins broke the news that vocalist/guitarist Adam McIlwee, bassist Dennis Mishko and drummer Pat Brier to fans via their Tumblr page in March 2013. Many followers interpreted the message as a definite end of the band. But now it’s more than a year later, and Tigers Jaw’s just released its third LP Charmer – an album that debuted at number 49 on the Billboard charts, and one the departed members still helped Walsh and Collins record when they decided to carry on as the band’s sole permanent line-up.
“We talked about the record and got them back on board because it was something that we all worked so hard on and were really proud of the songs,” Walsh says, adding that more than half of the songs for the album had been written when McIlwee, Mishko and Brier announced they were leaving. “We all wanted to see it come into fruition.”
What came to fruition on Charmer is what Walsh calls the band’s most cohesive record, and what Collins says is “exactly how I was picturing our band would sound recorded at the time.” If the album art for their break-out 2010 self-titled release – an unidentifiable 20-something preparing to eat a slice of stringy cheese pizza – was a sign of Tiger Jaw’s then youthful energy, Charmer’s artwork – an ornate doily handmade by Collins – is an apt sign of the band’s maturity.
“There’s a mix of slower, more delicate parts and there’s plenty of faster, more hard-hitting parts as well,” Walsh says of the album. “We were able to cover a lot of ground on the record, and still managed to make it sound pretty cohesive. We were able to experiment a little bit more with dynamics and layering not only vocals, but layering acoustic guitars and things like that that we haven’t really done a lot of in the past. Another big difference was getting Brianna more involved with writing and singing.”
“Working with Will had a huge impact,” adds Collins of Studio 4′s Will Yip, who produced the record. “Layering vocals and all of his little input and ideas that were really on the same page with, at least in my opinion, what we were trying to do.”
Walsh and Collins have been through a lot in the past few years that has forced them to grow up, not only stemming from their experiences with Tigers Jaw. Both came to the end of college and were faced with many new responsibilities, along with new freedoms. It’s this transition that Walsh is responsible for Charmer’s darker vibe, both lyrically and in the way it sounds.
“There’s still a lot of energy put into it,” he says. “Maybe [it’s] not as raucous as some of the earlier stuff, but just as much enthusiasm was put into these songs as any other songs that we’ve written, if not more.”
Though he’s sometimes heavily influenced by what he’s going through personally, writing for Charmer was the first time that Walsh really turned to another medium for inspiration. More specifically, it was interplay between characters on the show Twin Peaks, which is even cited by name in the song “Nervous Kids.” Both Walsh and Collins really enjoy the show.
“It’s so interesting. It’s so in depth and the themes are so dark,” Walsh says. “I got pulled in by just the small town interactions that everybody has, where there is so much going on underneath the surface. I think that’s the really cool thing, you go to a place that may be completely different than what you expected based on its outside appearance. I think there are a lot of themes on this record of duality, and things that can maybe be taken more than one way. That’s definitely something that we pulled from a lot of the stuff that happens in Twin Peaks.”
While they’re not writing music or binge-watching TV, both Walsh and Collins have also almost completed all requirements for becoming teachers in their designated fields – Collins for art whilst living in Kingston and Walsh for speech therapy while working at a school in Central Pennsylvania.
“Nobody at my job knows what I do,” Walsh says. “None of my kids, none of my coworkers or anything, know that I play in a band or anything like that. It’s kind of a strange separation. It’s almost like working two full-time jobs [because] we don’t work with a manager, so we both have a lot of extra responsibilities apart from our jobs and also from writing and practicing music. So it’s a lot, it’s a big commitment, but it’s been totally worth it.”
“It was weird today, I had to tell my bosses that because they were like, ‘What are your plans for the summer?’ being like, ‘Yeah, I’m traveling and having a life. I am actually in a band,’” adds Collins. “‘My hair will be blue tomorrow, so be warned.’”
Tigers Jaw will start their summer tour on Monday when they headline Union Transfer. Playing in Philly feels much like playing to a hometown audience, Collins says, with Walsh adding that it’s one of the next best things now that Scranton is almost devoid of places to perform.
“It’s definitely different working with different musicians when we’ve played with the same people for so long,” Walsh says. “It’s sort of refreshing. I kind of miss the styles of the guys who aren’t in the band anymore, but at the same time it’s cool having some new experiences and drawing influence from the new people we’re playing with.”
Walsh says that he’s still very much on good terms with the band’s former members. McIlwee is still making music under his solo moniker, Wicca Phase Springs Eternal, while Brier and Mishko remain in Philly’s own Three Man Cannon.
“They’ve always been one of my favorite bands and they don’t get nearly as much attention as they deserve,” he says of Three Man Cannon, who released a new album just one week before Charmer was scheduled to drop.
“Hopefully more people start to pay attention. I’ve definitely been seeing them get some more press, seeing song premieres on different websites and stuff, which is not something their band has really gone after too much in the past. But it’s really nice to see them getting some credit for the great art that they create.”
When news broke that Three Man Cannon was set to release its new LP, Pretty Many People, on May 27 via Lame-O Records, most headlines made sure to include that the band featured “ex-members of Tigers Jaw.” Drummer Pat Brier deems that widespread association, well, kind of silly.
“Dennis and I, we were in Three Man Cannon for about two years before we joined Tigers Jaw,” he says. “We weren’t actually in the band, we were just filling in. … For me, and I think Dennis and I have talked about it, it’s so silly because none of us really thought about it like that with either band. It’s something that is very much, unfortunately, fabricated. Not fabricated, but just totally taken out of perspective.” Continue reading →
The twinkly Philly punkers have waited three years to follow up their popular album, Baseball Season, which features staples like “Arizona” and “Spirit Gum.” However, the band’s fans have been treated to small previews of the upcoming album and it sounds unexpected in the best possible way. Both “Halflife” and “Summery Dream” have a light, atmospheric sound that’s heavy on the psychedelic vibes, less so on the loud guitars and raspy vocals.
Surely, they’ll performance will be a bit different, too, but we’re looking forward to it. Celebrating alongside Kite Party at their record release show will be punkers and/or indie rockers Three Man Cannon, Gunk, Thin Lips and The spirit of the beehive. The all-ages show starts at 7:30 p.m. and admission is $7.
Red Martina is a new collaboration between Noesis of Philadelphia Slick, Stoupe the Enemy of Mankind from Jedi Mind Tricks, Ish Quintero and Hayley Cass. The four-piece have shared a new song called “Outside” as a free download, taken from their debut Intransit. Get a copy below.
Folkadelphia brought in British musician Richard Youngs for this week’s session. Youngs was in the U.S. in support of his new record Summer Through My Mind, a project that was originally meant to be an “American country” album but departs from that mindset almost entirely. Stream and download his Folkadelphia Session below, which includes tracks from the new LP.
When Dangerous Ponies announced their breakup on last May, we were saddened to hear that after four years together various members were moving on to new projects. During their time together, the punk rockers released several records and played numerous shows in which their sense of musical adventure was constantly evolving. Recently, Chrissy Tashjian – guitarist and vocalist from Dangerous Ponies – announced a new musical project, Thin Lips. The power punk trio included Tashjian, ex-Ponies guitarist Kyle Pulley, and Pat Brier, formely of the Scranton band Tigers Jaw. There’s some noisy, yet melodically engaging punk rock playing happening on two new songs from Thin Lips, and it’s good to welcome them back into the active Philly music making community. You can download “Gemini Moon,” and “Non-Monogamy Nightmare” for a “name your price” below