Tonight’s Concert Picks: STS at Underground Arts, Belle and Sebastian at The Tower Theater, B.C. Camplight at Union Transfer and more

STS in the World Cafe studio | Photo by Rich McKie
STS in the World Cafe studio | Photo by Rich McKie

Philly rapper STS (aka Sugar Tongue Slim) opens the stacked lineup tonight at Underground Arts, joining Heems of Das Racist and Afrobeat electronic group The Very Best. This is STS’ first Philly show since the release of his latest, STS x RJD2, and the collaborative album joins his witty and oft-introspective rhymes with RJD2’s funky, party-ready backings and the occasional surprise guest hook from, oh, I don’t know, Amos Lee. Tickets and more info on the show can be found at the XPN Concert Calendar. Continue reading →


BC Camplight signs to Bella Union Records; new album due in 2015

Photo by Laura Howarth

Last we heard from Philly expat Brian Christinzio, he had moved to Manchester, England, and set to work recording new music under his stage monicker, BC Camplight. It seemed to be an extremely beneficial experience, and in an Evening News interview a year ago, he said “Manchester saved my life.”

This week, we got more positive news from Christinzio. As the Inquirer‘s Dan DeLuca reported on Tuesday, BC Camplight signed a record deal with Bella Union, the boutique label founded by Simon Raymonde, guitarist for dream-pop greats Cocteau Twins.

Christinzio made a splash in 2005 with his debut Hide, Run Away and its irresistible single “Blood and Peanut Butter” (watch a snowboarding video set to that song here). But following that, he fell off the stateside radar outside of Philadelphia – even though he had continued success in the UK, where his 2007 followup LP Blink of a Nihilist was released (available in the U.S. only as a pricy import until around 2010).

In an email, Camplight filled us in a bit about what happened around that time, and how it led him to start anew overseas.

“At one point I was certainly going in the right direction,” he said. “I had two critical successes under my belt and was making plans for a breakout album. Unfortunately around 2008 I really started believing what I read when people would say I was special or some sort of genius. I waited around for some record company to hand me millions of dollars. It never happened.”

Christinzio says he became spiteful about not making it big. “I became a liar, a thief, a drugged up homeless wino, and just an all around sad soul. And the worst part is I became acclimated to it and didn’t feel guilty about anything.”

In 2012, Christinzio moved to Manchester, rented a flat, connected with the musical community locally and began working on his third record, making a splash last summer with the single “Thieves in Antigua.”

BC Camplight: ‘Thieves In Antigua’ from MCR Scenewipe on Vimeo.

When recording finished last year, Christinzio shopped the record around, and it found itself in the hands of Raymonde – BC’s publishing agent used to be Raymonde’s old publisher, and the Bella Union head says he found the album instantly appealing.

“His music is a brilliant twist on pop, soul and ballads with a core of super-strong songwriting behind him and that edge, that unknown quantity that so many releases are missing,” Raymonde told me via email. “There is a kinda huge IMPORTANCE to it all. I can’t really describe it. I am more a musician than a writer.”

The record will be called How To Die In The North, and Raymonde tells me that though it’s a bit premature to announce a release date, the album will be out in early 2015 and the label campaign behind it will kick into gear later on this year.

When I asked Raymonde if he saw BC Camplight as a long-range artist, he replied “We [the label] only do the long range!! Four Beach House records, six John Grant records, four Flaming Lips records, eight Dirty Three records, etc.”

For Christinzio, it’s a relief. “This insane gamble actually worked about a million times better than I thought it would,” he says. “And now I can concentrate comfortably knowing that a lot of folks will hear what I do.”

Christinzio says a winter-summer tour is being planned for Europe and USA once the album is out, including at least two shows in Philly. Below, download a live version of “Atom Bomb” recorded on BBC Radio 6.


Philly expat B.C. Camplight: “Manchester saved my life”

Brian-Christinzio-2520828We’ve continued to keep tabs on local expatriate Brian Christinzio since he moved to the United Kingdom a year and a half ago. In the past six or so months, his ongoing pop-rock project B.C. Camplight announced initial details about its first album in five years (read here), and premiered two songs from it in a studio session on BBC Radio 6 (download here).

Last week Christinzio was profiled by the Manchester Evening News in advance of a club gig at The Deaf Institute (a venue that, reportedly, is the Mancs’ equivalent of Johnny Brenda’s) and he was forthcoming about the “dark place” he found himself in towards the end of his Philly stay – “everything was going downhill for me; physically, emotionally, everything was deteriorating… I knew I’d most likely be dead or in jail if I stayed there. I needed a fresh start, so I packed my bag and moved to Manchester.” From the article:

Christinzio, on today’s form, looks like he couldn’t be happier. Not long after moving into his flat on Oxford Road in 2011, Christinzio says he began “writing furiously…all these songs poured out. It’s a cliché to say it, but it did feel very cathartic.”

Awash with the beautiful tenor vocals, sumptuous pop melodies and opulent production that have previously earned him comparisons with Brian Wilson and Todd Rundgren, Christinzio’s new single Thieves In Antigua – released on April 22, with an album to follow in Autumn – makes it abundantly clear that his most recent life gamble has happily paid off: and he’s eager to share those musical riches.

Read the article here. Below, get a taste of the new era of B.C. Camplight in a performance of “Grim Cinema” for Manchester Scenewipe. And, amid the ups and downs he speaks of, Christinzio remains close with Philadelphia scene friends – including the Summer Fiction gang, who are enroute to the UK as we speak to record their new album with Christinzio.


The Week So Far: 14 must-read stories on The Key

Download B.C. Camplight‘s BBC Radio 6 session featuring two new songs [link]

Juston Stens and the Get Real Gang bring rock and soul to their Key Session [link]

Listen to Free Energy‘s new album Love Sign at Consequence of Sound [link]

Thrash out with a new Surgeon track; they play Kung Fu Necktie next month [link]

The collaboration between Ground Up and The Lawsuits continues in a HotBox session [link]

David Bowie releases a new single for his birthday [link]

Chill Moody releases his latest album, RFM [link]

Get psyched for Zilla Rocca‘s Tuesday Tune-Out with his new Wrecking Crew video [link]

Download The Key Studio Sessions Vol. 6, our new 17-song compilation [link]

Stream the new album from The Lone Bellow, a Georgia-bred close harmony trio [link]

Stream a new EP from Philly’s Acres of Diamonds, who play PhilaMOCA next week [link]

Plow United announces the details of their all-ages album-release show at The Barbary [link]

Download Anais Mitchell‘s Folkadelphia session [link]

The WXPN Philly Local Show expands to three hours [link]


Download B.C. Camplight’s BBC session featuring two new songs, “Thieves in Antigua” and “Atom Bomb”

Today we’ve got the latest news from one of our favorite Philly music expatriates – Brian Christinzio, aka B.C. Camplight, who had just announced his new LP Grim Cinema when we last heard from him in the fall. Currently residing in Manchester, UK, he was featured in a studio session with BBC Radio 6’s Marc Riley last week. In the interview and session, recorded last autumn, Christinzio speaks candidly about why he made the jump from Philadelphia to Manchester, contrasts the two “tough towns,” takes a digression into his brief career as a boxer, and plays two new songs – the absolutely catchy “Thieves in Antigua” and the pensive and contemplative “Atom Bomb.” Stream and download the session below, and tell me this isn’t making you even more antsy to hear Grim Cinema in its entirety.


Coming in 2013: A new LP from B.C. Camplight, Grim Cinema

Things have been on the quiet side from B.C. Camplight since his spectacular Harry Nilsson tribute show at Johnny Brenda’s in late April of 2011 (watch him absolutely slaying “Without You” here), but with good reason. The prolific piano-pop singer and songwriter has been hard at work on his latest record, Grim Cinema, and today just announced via the Ireland-based blog  Whisperin’ and Hollerin’ that it will be released sometime in 2013.

After making a big splash in 2005 with Hide, Run Away and its irresistible single “Blood and Peanut Butter” (watch a snowboarding video set to that song here), B.C. fell a bit off the radar in the states. His 2007 followup LP Blink of a Nihilist was released in the UK – where he cultivated a strong following – but was only available as a pricy import CD in the states until 2010. In late 2009 he was the first artist spotlighted by the Weathervane Music Project, recording a snappy song called “Your Daddy Is A Little Girl” and laying the groundwork for what would eventually become the Shaking Through series. Aside from that, he’d make periodic Johnny Brenda’s appearances (his cover of “Hot For Teacher” at a show opening for Buried Beds in 2010 was somewhat legendary, as was a later interpretation of Van Halen’s “Eruption” on piano), he’d bounce back and forth between England and Philly, drop hints about new music and leave us wondering when we’d get to hear it. Continue reading →


Download Summer Fiction’s “By The Sea” from The Key Studio Sessions Compilation

Last week we released The Key Studio Sessions Volume 1, a digital compilation of 17 songs recorded by local bands who have done our weekly Key Studio Sessions. You can download the entire collection of 17 songs here. Today we highlight a song from the session that Summer Fiction recorded in January. Summer Fiction is the latest project from singer-songwriter Bill Ricchini. When he recorded the session he brought in a group of players that included some of best musicians on the local scene—including Brian Christinzio (B.C. Camplight) on piano, Todd Zamostien (North Lawrence Midnight Singers) on electric guitar, Alex Yaker (Roomtone, The Yaker Brothers, ex-Grammar Debate!) on bass, and Alec Meltzer (Yellow Humphrey, Papertrees,) on drums.

You can listen to the entire session here, however you can download the song “By The Sea” below. Click here to download the entire collection of song in one zip file.