Strand of Oaks were full-hearted and full of laughs as they closed out Wednesday night on the PRX stage. The Philadelphia-based guitar rockers and longtime WXPN favorites opened their hearts for the NonCOMM crowd during a sparkling set consisting mostly of material from their stellar new album Eraserland, which came out in March on Dead Oceans. Continue reading →
After a year’s absence, the always-anticipated Make The World Better benefit concert will return this summer. The annual concert was started in 2014 by former Eagles linebacker Connor Barwin to combine his love of the local music scene with his dedication to helping Philadelphia’s youth. Even though Barwin’s left the team, his Make The World Better Foundation lives on — and so does the music. Continue reading →
Last month at SXSW in Austin, Texas, Amplify Philly convened during SXSW Interactive for three days of networking, cheerleading, panels, and partying from members of Philly’s tech, startup, business, music, and cultural communities. The Amplify Philly “house” took over the Pour Choices Bar and Restaurant in Downtown Austin for three days and nights. During the day, the programming featured panels and discussions, and the evenings were filled with some incredible Philly grown talent. Continue reading →
Complicated thinkers make compelling art, and Tim Showalter was never one to look at the world simplistically. Whether it’s the hazy metaphorical view of loss and death in Pope Killdragon or the gutting emotional catharsis of HEAL, the Strand of Oaks frontman has historically excelled at reflecting on the turbulence of his life — and by extension, all of our lives — in an acute, multidimensional manner.
The latest Strand of Oaks record, Eraserland, is out today. It’s Showalter’s sixth release under that banner, it’s a culmination of most styles he’s dabbled in over the past 15 years — the folk introspection of his early years, the atmospheric mysticism of Killdragon and Dark Shores, the bold rock of the HEAL era, the dripping psychedelia of Hard Love — not to mention, as has been much discussed in the album rollout, it was made with some pretty famous friends.
Showalter’s backing band in the studio included most of My Morning Jacket — guitarist Carl Broemel, keyboardist Bo Koster, bassist Tom Blankenship, and drummer Patrick Hallahan — with contributions from Jason Isbell as well. In that regard, the album sounds extraordinary, but for this longtime Oaks listener, the people who worked on Eraserland might be the least interesting element of it. These songs are the most honest, raw, and vulnerable Showalter has ever been in his music. In them, we see a person who is not simply sad, or angry, but hopeless and terrified, confused and at an impasse, unsure of where or whether to go. And throughout the album’s ten songs, he articulates every one of those feelings. Continue reading →
Philadelphia’s Strand of Oaks is readying the spring release of its sixth LP, Eraserland, and today frontman Tim Showalter brings us another taste of the record. Following the pensive build-and-burn of album opener “Weird Ways,” this teaser is a joyous pop anthem called “Ruby,” built around a ringing chord progression, snappy staccato keys, and a hooky refrain about not losing sight of the joy in life as time marches on: “Ruby, won’t you slow it down, this is happening so fast.”
“Ruby is by far one of the happiest songs I’ve ever written, unabashedly so,” Showalter writes on Twitter. “I know this seems like strange, uncharted waters for the Oaks catalog and especially Eraserland, but even the darkest night has a dawn. This is a song about the time and how with each year passing it feels like a dream.” Continue reading →
There’s an air of finality in the opening notes of Strand of Oaks‘ new single “Weird Ways,” as frontman Tim Showalter very plainly and directly sings “I don’t feel it anymore.”
Set to warm, close-mic’d acoustic guitar, with his robust baritone upfront in the mix, this is the intimate and vulnerable Showalter we hear once a year at the Boot & Saddle Winter Classic; it’s the Showalter of back-catalog songs like “Kill Dragon” and “Sister Evangeline.” And it’s a Showalter who, as he was writing, clearly felt out of place with the direction his music traveled versus the direction the music world was heading.
“The scene isn’t my scene anymore.”
This is the way that Strand of Oaks’ just-announced sixth album Eraserland begins, and a glance over song titles like “Final Fires” — or knowing the song “Keys” from his live set, where he sings “we should just run away” to his wife Sue — seem to paint a picture of somebody ready to move on.
But then a snare drum downbeat kicks in. And the realization hits — we’re not going anywhere just yet. Continue reading →
“High Key” is a series of profiles conceived with the intent to tell the story of Philly’s diverse musical legacy by spotlighting individual artists in portrait photography, as well as with an interview focusing on the artist’s experience living, creating, and performing in this city. “High Key” will be featured in recurring installments, as the series seeks to spotlight artists both individually and within the context of his or her respective group or artistic collective.
It was by luck of the draw that Tim Showalter became a Philadelphian. Having spent his childhood in his hometown of Goshen, Indiana, the Strand Of Oaks frontman was sold on Philly by a childhood friend of his who’d already pioneered the relocation, and to hear Showalter tell it, it hardly even feels adopted, anymore.
He makes reference to that several times, in a recent interview with us, effusive in his affection for all he feels Philly has been able to offer him over the past decade and a half here. Wearing his beard long and his lumberjack coat red, Showalter reminisced warmly about wandering the Wissahickon, building out his band, getting to see Philly legend Jack Rose play hallowed local stages like Brenda’s — and then, with a sense of genuine gratitude, the good fortune of getting to later play them himself.
Showalter also talks “Winter Classic”: a lineup of several consecutive Strand Of Oaks shows that launches tonight at Boot And Saddle. On deck this week to celebrate a fourth year of these gigs with him are folk-singer Joe Pug, and My Morning Jacket’s Carl Broemel.Continue reading →
Strand of Oaks frontman Tim Showalter spent just half a day recording as Goshen Electric Co., but he spent the better part of two decades as a fan of the late Jason Molina, who wrote music as Magnolia Electric Co. and Songs: Ohia. Since Molina’s passing in 2013, many artists have paid tribute to the songwriter by covering his deeply moving songs, but Showalter has taken his tribute a step further by teaming up with the remaining members of the Magnolia Electric Co. band to form Goshen Electric Co. and record a 7″ of two Molina deep cuts, out today. Continue reading →
In what’s become something of a Philly tradition, Strand of Oaks will return to South Broad Street’s Boot and Saddle this December for three nights in a row: the storied Oaks Winter Classic, edition IV. This year, the shows take place Thursday, December 6th; Friday, December 7th; and Saturday, December 8th.
Unlike last year’s gigs, where Showalter hand-picked different openers each night, these shows will all feature Greenbelt, Maryland singer-songwriter Joe Pug — a full-circle moment, since one of Showalter’s first tours in the wake of Pope Killdragon‘s success was opening for Pug — as well as Carl Broemel of My Morning Jacket, who Strand of Oaks opened for at the Tower Theater in 2015. Continue reading →