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Download two heartbreaking, introspective songs from Univox’s Josh Jones (playing a solo set at J.R.’s Bar tonight)

JonesOn the one hand, I think of Philadelphia rockers Univox as a bunch of funny, irreverent dudes. I remember recording their Key Session and watching drummer Kent Boersma run laps around the studio, apropos of nothing. They put out an iPhone video game (that I still have yet to beat). They recorded campy Halloween songs. But there’s also an undeniably sensitive, introspective, yearning side to them – you’ll hear it in the lyrics to “Tonight.” And you’ll also hear it in the solo tracks from singer and songwriter Josh Jones. Released this June, “All I Think About” and “The Body Grows Back” come from the perspective of a heartbroken character, knowing that the end is imminent but still struggling to express love. The warm synthesizer beds and slow dance pulse make these tracks – lo-fi as they might be – come across almost like R&B pop ballads asking forgiveness for wrongs he’s done. Maybe Jones is the Drake of the Philly punk scene, I don’t know. In any case, he makes his last Philly appearance of 2013 tonight at J.R.’s Bar in South Philly; get information on the show here, and grab free downloads of these two tracks below.

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New album, new video game from Philly’s Univox

Photo by Rob Perkins

Philly DIY rock four-piece Univox has kept on the quiet side since releasing a Halloween single (“Wolfman”) and its corresponding video back in the fall, but with good reason. The band has been putting the finishing touches on it’s latest ventures: The Altec, a new full-length album available today, and Tour of Fire, a free-downloadable iPhone video game.

As we learn in a Univox YouTube update starring bassist / vocalist Rob DeCarlois, The Altec was recorded (with mixing assistance by Farzad Houshiarnejad of Night Panther / White Birds / Drink Up etc.) in the lovingly-constructed basement studio singer-guitarist Josh Jones built in the house he shares with his wife Sarah. It’s a solid listen: snappy pop-rock tunes, rough-yet-polished, a tasty garage vibe. “Yellow and White Lines” sounds great cranked up, “Mary” is one they played for us during their Key Studio Session a while back, album closer “At The End of the Day” is a exhuberant mix of vocal harmonies and whistling.

About the name (the album’s and their own), the band explained on Facebook:

the first tape Joe and I (josh) made together was an improvised experimental recording where all of the instruments were mixed down and re-amped through a Univox bass amp and cab. we self-recorded the new album and ran almost every signal on it through our Altec 1220 console. I think these names best represent our music as they have become esoteric titles of what is lost in contemporary music. since we’re largely steeped in golden oldies, our recordings tend to feel like something you might find in a dusty bin at a flea market

While there’s some silliness in the record (it’s more evident if you’ve seen these guys live and are familiar with their ridiculous personas), it can also be appreciated as a well-crafted post-modern homage to rock and pop from the 60s till today. The video game, however, is pure silliness. A free download from iTunes, it allows you to guide the band on a U.S. tour – tearing across I-80 in the van enroute to Cleveland, playing the show and literally slaying the audience members with your notes. That’s as far as I got, since I kept dying and wanted to write this up, but its Atari 8-bit look and comical road trip / tour vibe are very enjoyable and I swear I will beat it on my lunch hour.

Listen to The Altec below, and get a preview of the game in the band’s 2013 update video.

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Stream Acres of Diamonds Animal Trust EP (playing PhilaMOCA on 1/18)

On their latest Animal Trust EP, Acres of Diamonds follow up 2010′s debut with three dark, post-punky songs recorded at Miner Street Studios.  Mixing in a healthy dose of pop catchy-ness, Animal Trust hands out some unexpected twists by-way of an organ on the Sonic Youth-esque “Sweet Believers” and occasional Kate Bush-ian theatrics on the title track.  Vocalist Sarah Davis’ Gwen Rooker’s raspy alto recalls the eeriness of Family Band singer Kim Krans at times, adding a mysterious counter-point to the fully-developed guitar and drum layers.  Acres of Diamonds will be performing at PhilaMOCA on January 18th with Univox, Pow Wow! and Lux Perpetua.  More information can be found here.  Below, stream Acres of Diamond’s Animal Trust EP.

http://acresofdiamonds.bandcamp.com/

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Get creepy with Univox’s Halloween single, “Wolfman”

Irreverent Philly rockers Univox just dropped a name-your-own-price digital single for Halloween. They get all Cramps-style garage rock creepy on the title track “Wolfman” – and designed up an elaborate newspaper clipping casting singer-guitarist Josh Jones as a West Philly werewolf – but the lead-off instrumental “Driving River Road” is equally unsettling, like a bit of weird 50s synthesizer score to a Vincent Price double-feature. Check it out and grab a download below.

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The Key Studio Sessions: Hurry

Out today in the self-release world of Bandcamp is the latest EP from Hurry, the dreamy noise pop / shoegaze project from Philly’s Matt Scottoline. He typically plays bass in the comparatively amped up pop punk band Everyone Everywhere, but that’s “amped” in terms of tempo and energy. There was plenty of pure volume filling the room when the live lineup of Hurry recorded its Key Studio Session. Joining Scottoline was Brendan McHugh of Everyone Everywhere on second guitar, and Rob DeCarlois of Univox on drums; I dig the raw immediacy they bring to Scottoline’s songs, which are deliciously lush and layered on the album. Download the session below, compare / contrast with Hurry’s music on Bandcamp, and keep an eye fixed on Facebook for news of their live appearances.

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Download The Key Studio Sessions Compilation Vol. 4 (feat. City Rain, Pink Skull, Lushlife, Chill Moody, + more)

Photo by Arrah Fisher

Special thanks to all of the bands for coming to our studio, and to John Vettese for recording them. We’d also like to thank volunteer production assistants Fred Knittel, Madeleine Lesperance, and Dan Malloy as well as photographers Kate Bracaglia, Corey Cohen, Sarah Fry, Shamus McGroggan, Noah Gabriel Merenda, Sylvia Ramirez, and Heidi Schlenzig for sharing their work.

Click here to download the 18-track compilation in its entirety as a .zip file. Want to hear more? Click here to listen to the full sessions by all 18 local acts; you can also download The Key Studio Sessions Compilation Volume IVolume 2, and Volume 3.

Playlist:
Zakee “Spotlight”
City Rain “Real Good”
Pink Skull “Oh, Monorail”
Mason Porter “Back To Where We Started From”
Univox “What’s More”
Arrah and the Ferns “Waterproof Gold Watch”
Acid Kicks “Take My Soul Away”
The Menzingers “Mexican Guitars”
Music For Headphones “Why”
Lushlife “Gymnopiede 1.2″
Griz “The Secret In The Garden”
New Sweden “Saint, Don’t You Lie”
Sunny Ali and the Kid “Stop the Haiti”
Peasant “Girls”
Chill Moody “Cotton”
Little Big League “St. John’s”

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Weekend Picks: Tycho at The Rotunda, White Birds at Kung Fu Necktie, Augustana at TLA, Snowmine at Johnny Brenda’s

Tycho

FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 3rd
Scott Hansen is an artist with a vision. Before he debuted on the music scene as electronic composer Tycho, Hansen was known by his graphic design pseudonym, ISO50. As ISO50, Hansen produces intricate, often illusionary water color pieces—images that make an appealing first impression and grow more complex when scrutinized. His songs sound about the same. Hansen’s 2002 EP, Science Of Patterns, and the 2004 album Sunrise Projector hinted at his musical ideas, but it wasn’t until his 2011 album, Dive, that Tycho seemed to communicate in music what ISO50 did in visual art. Not surprisingly, Tycho’s current tour features a video component, which Hansen appropriately debuted on the ISO50 blog. Hansen will be playing both his music and visual art tonight in a show that’s certain to be sunny and synesthetic. Tycho performs with Beacon at 8:30 p.m.; tickets to the all-ages show are $5–$15. —Naomi Shavin

Since forming from the remains of Drink Up Buttercup, the members of White Birds have been quick to separate themselves from their former endeavor. Where Drink Up was fast and frantic, White Birds is slow and mellow. The band’s self-titled EP demonstrated just how much the members have evolved, with a dreamy tone and echoing harmonies. White Birds’ new album, When Women Played Drums, expands the fuzzy pop sound; the album comes out February 14th, but you can pre-order it now on Bandcamp. White Birds be joined at Kung Fu Necktie by Univox, whose Key Studio Session we posted earlier this weekWhite Birds performs with Univox and Tutlie at 8 p.m. at Kung Fu Necktie; tickets to the 21+ show are $10. —Nicole Soll

Snowmine front man Grayson Sanders has received praise for his mellow and melodious voice, with many noting similarities to both Robin Pecknold of Fleet Foxes and Jim James of My Morning Jacket. The Brooklyn-based indie pop band’s debut album “Laminate Pet Animal” is obviously a tribute to all things natural and lullaby-esque, what with the use of odd instruments (including arbitrary household items, such as dish brushes and brooms) that help create a cultured sound. The band was featured as Weathervane Music’s Shaking Through artist for the month of November, and brings its Fleet Foxes-caliber potential to Johnny Brenda’s for the Philadelphia Bandcamp Hunter showcase. Snowmine performs with Gracie and Tours at Johnny Brenda’s at 9:15 p.m; tickets to the 21+ show are $5. —Lisa Henderson


Augustana had a rough 2011. The San Diego-based quartet was dropped from its label, Epic, following disappointing sales of its third album, had to cancel a summer tour with Jack’s Mannequin, and lost several of the original band members. But just as rumors of the band breaking up surfaced, lead singer Dan Layus announced he and the remaining members would continue making music under the name Augustana. Dan Lamoureux, who had previously played keyboard with the band, returned on drums, and Augustana released dates for a short winter tour. Despite the changes in the band, Augustana’s rock sound remains the same, and their set will feature both new music and hits off previous albums, such as “Boston” and “Sweet and Low.” Augustana performs with Graffiti6 at 8 pm at Theatre Of Living Arts; tickets to the show are $17. —Nicole Soll

Also Playing: Arctic Splash + DJ Deejay at PYT (10 p.m., free)

SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 4th
Brown Recluse + Acres Of Diamonds, Instamatic at Milkboy Philly (9:30 p.m., 21+, $8–$10); Jedi Mind Tricks + Diabolic, B. Lynch at Union Transfer (8:30 p.m., all ages, $18–$20); Jack’s Mannequin + Jukebox The Ghost, Allen Stone at Theatre Of Living Arts (7 p.m., $30.50); SOJA + The Movement, Fear Nuttin Band at Electric Factory (8 p.m., $25.95)

SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 5th
Rock To The Future Benefit featuring Polar Ice Cap + The Danger O’s, Fast Car, Jampa! at World Cafe Live (7 p.m., all ages, $7)