Acoustic folk trio Nickel Creek are riding high on the success of their new album A Dotted Line, which arrived last month and coincided with their 25th anniversary as a band. Tonight they bring the excitement to the Tower Theater stage. Mostly folk but at times leaning toward bluegrass, their music, which rests on the band’s intricate musicianship and harmonies, has a raw quality that’s soulful at heart. Watch them perform “Rest Of My Life” live on Soundcheck below and get tickets here.
Yesterday, in our review of City Rain‘s Songs From a High School Dance, we talked about how the album saw frontman Ben Runyan finding his voice as a songwriter. A classic way to test that claim out: take away all the bells and whistles and electronic layers of the music, listen to the songs in their most basic, stripped-down format, and consider the results. Do they hold up?
Filmmaker Matthew Albasi did just this over the winter months, bringing Runyan and his City Rain partner Scott Cumpstone into a wooded outdoor path (looks like the Wissahickon Valley Park, but I could be wrong) and had them play two songs with only an acoustic guitar and a boombox to add a bed of tones and beats. You might call the boombox cheating, but it’s only minimally audible, leaving these performances of “The Optimist” and “Mama, I Want To Go Home” to be carried by Cumpstone’s fervent strumming and Runyan’s singing.
A few takeaways – Runyan is a really good singer. Take away the studio reverb and vocal doubling and whatever the heck else makes his voice sound huge on the record, and guess what? It still sounds huge. Cumpstone should consider working an acoustic into City Rain live sets sometime – it adds a nice nuanced touch to the music. And the music and the melody absolutely hold up. Check it out and decide for yourself below. Who knows, maybe there’s still time for City Rain to work an acoustic micro-set into their Thursday album release show at Underground Arts.
Songs for a High School Dance is the featured album in this week’s edition of Unlocked. Download the single “Waiting on a Feeling” in Monday’s post, read yesterday’s album review, and check back tomorrow for an interview and Friday for a travelogue.
Last night, power-pop vets Hellogoodbye teamed up with summery locals Vacationer to headline a packed performance at Underground Arts. A lot has changed with Hellogoodbye since their breakout album in 2006, when “Touchdown Turnaround” was the sound track on innumerable summer mix tapes. Since those wasted teenage years the band has released two full lengths, Would it Kill You? on their own label, Wasted Summer, followed by Everything is Debatable in 2013 on Old Friends Records. Philly favorites, Vacationer rounded out the bill delivering their breezy lullabies and synthpop tunes from Gone. The band is currently working on a new album called Relief, to be released in June. The new song, “The Wild Life” has a cool afropop, ‘circle of life’ theme. The Austin, TX band Heavenly Beat opened the show with their buzzing pop vibes. Check out photos from the show in the gallery below.
Tonight, M.I.A. graces the Tower Theater stage and fans (old and new) should, as always, expect a little bit of everything from the singer-songwriter’s genre-bending music. On her latest album Matangi, it’s clear that her sound is still a hybrid of electronic, pop, hip-hop and world music. Best known for her 2007 platinum hit “Paper Planes”, M.I.A. isn’t a traditional singer or rapper; she’s crafted a style that’s somewhere in between and it’s infectious. Watch “Y.A.L.A.” below and get tickets here
Local pop bands Weekender and Delco Pacers will hit the Ortlieb’s stage tonight in celebration of their collaborative mixtape, Philly Tapes Philly Volume 2. The first 50 people to the show will receive a free copy of the limited edition cassette. More details here.
Underground Arts hosted a packed crowd on Friday night with headlining act Mac DeMarco, who was touring behind his recently released second LP Salad Days. The laid-back, dreamy album caught the ears of many and it certainly showed as Underground Arts was as crowded as I’ve ever seen it. Mac Demarco has a swoonworthy and chill persona – baseball cap on his head and a cigarette in-between his fingers – and he performed a killer set of stoner love songs. With many longtime fans in the audience, folks sang along to the cuts like “Ode to Viceroy” and “Freaking Out in the Neighborhood” from his prior record 2. Opening act Laser Background used a megaphone and dreamy electric melodies to warm up the audience just right. And Juan Wauters had a stellar backdrop of various flags sewn together, incorporated with flickering light bulbs and Christmas lights throughout the entire set. Check out photos from the show in the gallery below.