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Pitchfork gazes into the future of Will Yip and Studio 4

Photo by John Vettese
Photo by John Vettese

Pitchfork recently published a feature story about Will Yip, the celebrated and highly-regarded producer based in Conshohocken, and the studio and scene surrounding his work.

Yip has produced albums for numerous Pennsylvania bands, including Circa Survive, Title Fight, Tigers Jaw, Balance and Composure, Nothing, and Superheaven. He works out of Studio 4, a legendary area recording space run by Phil Nicolo. The article explores his work with some of these bands in-depth, observing their genre-bending tendencies that draw heavily from music of the latter 20th century. It also touches on the fact that Yip’s bands have reached younger generations that are constantly told underground music scenes are “dead”. Continue reading →

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: The Sermon! at Summerfest, Tigers Jaw at the First Unitarian Church, Fuel at Sands Bethlehem and more

The Sermon | Photo by John Vettese

The Key’s Waterfront Sessions continue tonight with a free concert at the Blue Cross RiverRink Summerfest by West Chester jazz eight-piece The Sermon!, who we last saw kicking off the day at the Center City Jazz Fest in April. The band moves deftly through classic funk, R&B and soul motifs, anchored by James McLaughlin’s evocative organ playing. Joining them is the Josh Laurence Quintet, comprised of various members of the Fresh Cut Orchestra. More information on the show can be found at the XPN Concert Calendar. Continue reading →

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Listen to Tigers Jaw’s new Studio 4 Acoustic Session

Tigers Jaw | Photo via Facebook
Tigers Jaw | Photo via Facebook

Back at the beginning of June, we were stoked to announce Tigers Jaw’s acoustic album. Now, it’s finally available for streaming.

The album will be officially released next week on June 30th via Will Yip’s new label, Memory Music. The album is a live recording of an intimate Tigers Jaw performance held at Studio 4 a year and a half ago. At that show, Ben Walsh and Brianna Collins debuted acoustic versions of Tigers Jaw favorites, a few Title Fight covers, and some rarities. Continue reading →

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Tigers Jaw and Will Yip talk new label and new live acoustic album

Photo by Jeremy Zimmerman | http://jeremy-zim.com/
Photo by Jeremy Zimmerman | http://jeremy-zim.com/

It’s been a little over two years since three founding members of Tigers Jaw departed. But the remaining dynamic duo of Brianna Collins and Ben Walsh has soldiered on, touring extensively to support their 2014 record CharmerThere was a point when Walsh, guitarist and vocalist, and Collins, keyboardist and vocalist, weren’t sure about the future of the Scranton indie / emo outfit. But they’ve regained serious momentum, especially with news of a new release set for late June.

The release is a live collaborative acoustic album, Tigers Jaw Acoustic: Live at Studio 4. It was recorded and produced by Will Yip, who has made quite a name for himself in recent years producing luminaries of the pop-punk world like Circa Survive, Title Fight, Superheaven and the The Wonder Years.

The album was actually recorded in September of 2013, when Tigers Jaw and Anthony Green of Circa Survive played an intimate acoustic show at Studio 4. The show was one of the first acoustic shows Ben and Brianna did as Tigers Jaw mark two. It was also the first time an acoustic gig was performed at Studio 4.

“I’ve always wanted to do it, just because the room’s so cool to have a sit-down show in,” Yip says. “And at that point, it was to help generate some press and awareness of what was going on at Studio 4.” Continue reading →

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Listen to an acoustic song from Tigers Jaw, hear them on WXPN tonight

Tigers Jaw | Photo via Facebook
Tigers Jaw | Photo via Facebook

Scranton pop punk duo Tigers Jaw just announced the release of a new album titled Live at Studio 4 via Memory Music, a new boutique label curated by Conshohocken producer Will Yip of Studio 4. Brianna Collins and Ben Walsh of the band, along with Yip, will be on the WXPN Philly Local Show tonight to discuss the release, the label and their plans for the year – which includes an acoustic show at the First Unitarain Church on Thursday, June 25th (tickets and more information can be found here). Tune in to the show tonight at 5 p.m. on 88.5 FM in Philadelphia or stream it at XPN.org if you’re outside of Philadelphia. Below, check out a version of “Teenage Rocket” from Live at Studio 4. Continue reading →

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Pissed Jeans at Johnny Brenda’s, Paper Hearts at Tin Angel, Tigers Jaw at Union Transfer and more

Pissed Jeans | Photo by Abi Reimold | abireimoldphoto.com
Pissed Jeans | Photo by Abi Reimold | abireimoldphoto.com

We last heard from Philly noise-punk four-piece Pissed Jeans last summer when their self-released debut Shallow got a reissue on their label, Sub Pop Records. Before that, their last record of new material was the awesomely hard-hitting Honeys, released in 2013, meaning we’re probably due for a new round of ragers from these dudes. Hopefully tonight’s headlining show at Johnny Brenda’s will bring with it some new material; tickets and more information can be found at the XPN Concert Calendar. Continue reading →

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Download a plethora of punk music via Big Footprints’ Big Comp II

Modern Baseball | photo by Rachel Del Sordo
Modern Baseball | photo by Rachel Del Sordo

Earlier this week, Big Footprints Records and Property of Zack released their second compilation, aptly called The Big Comp II. Going up from last year’s 75 artists to 85, the new comp has a mix of new, acoustic and live music from truly great punk bands. All donations collected will go to 1BlueString, a charity supporting men who have survived childhood sexual abuse, and the Nature Conservancy. While we can’t highlight all 85 artists, here are five of our favorites: Menzingers, Modern Baseball, Tigers Jaw, The Weaks, and PUP.

Legendary Scranton punks, the Menzingers released their fourth full lenghth, Rented World to well-deserved praise in spring this year. Follow the band through a typical concert day through The Key’s Load-In to Load-Out. Listen to “Mexican Guitars” from their Key Studio Session below.

Local favorites Modern Baseball released their second, amazing album You’re Gonna Miss it All this year. The album portrays being a 20 something in perfect, witty detail. Continue reading →

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Photo Recap: Tigers Jaw at Union Transfer

photo by Rachel Del Sordo
photo by Rachel Del Sordo

Fans came in droves last Monday to check out pop punk icons Tigers Jaw as they played the Union Transfer. Tigers Jaw is on tour in support of their latest album Charmer which was released on Run for Cover Records last week. In March of 2013 the band announced that three out of five members of Tigers Jaw had parted ways with the band. Many speculated that this would mark the end of Tigers Jaw. However, the two remaining members of the band, Brianna Collins and Ben Welsh, decided to continue the band. The band’s live performance featured many songs from their previous releases as well as Charmer. The crowd went crazy for old staples like “Never Saw it Coming,” “Chemicals,” and “I Saw Water,” which still prove to be fan favorites. Openers included scene favorites Pity Sex who won over the crowd with their fuzzy pop punk sound, Run for Cover Records new comer Petal who charmed the crowd with her indie pop sound, and Detroit punk rockers Loose Planes. Check out the photo recap below.

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Setting the record straight: The parallel lives of Tigers Jaw and Three Man Cannon

Tigers Jaw | Photo courtesy of the artist
Tigers Jaw | Photo courtesy of the artist

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.

Photo by Jeremy Zimmerman | http://jeremy-zim.com/
Brianna Collins and Ben Walsh of Tigers Jaw performing an instore in Philadelphia | Photo by Jeremy Zimmerman | http://jeremy-zim.com/

“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.

They’ll be supported by a new live line-up, including Elliot Babi from Touche Amore on drums, Luke Schwartz from Make Do And Mend on bass and Jake Woodruff from Defeater on guitar.

“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.”

Three Man Cannon | Photo by Jessica Flynn
Three Man Cannon | Photo by Jessica Flynn

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 →