Featured photo courtesy of Derek Brad Photography
The conclusion of Made In America Music Festival this past weekend marks the end of Summer 2016. While you were all enjoying three months of beer gardens, trips to the shore, or cursing your electric bill, Philly’s music scene was busy churning out some incredible records, many of which drawing praise from the folks at home as well as the national stage. As we enter the Fall season, we selected some of our favorite releases from Broken Beak, RFA Sonnder, The Dove & The Wolf, and more!
El Astronauta brings desert rock to Philadelphia. The vocal distortion complements the slow, rhythmic guitar solos. Quaker City Night Hawks stand out with their complex compositions crafted from a simple range of instruments and minimal use of sound effects. This album has an honest, classic rock feel. ~ Taylor Concannon
The group’s third release ignites rockabilly nostalgia. Troy Kominiak’s deep vocals blend with melodramatic instrumentals to create undeniably passionate tracks. Packed with unexpected howls and guitar solos, the four-track EP is musically and emotionally engaging. ~ Taylor Concannon
Thin Lips are coming off a breakout year. They recently wrapped up a tour with Modern Baseball and Joyce Manor and are gearing up for a tour with Allison Weiss in the fall, and seem to have the time of their lives each night they perform. Thin Lips’ debut album Riff Hard is exactly what the title suggests: a collection of concise, hard hitting punk centered around love, loss, and moving on. ~ Nikki Tardiff
The Never Ending Get Down may be more grown up and moody than it’s predecessor Full of Snakes, but that doesn’t mean Mumblr has lost any of their energy. They’ve channeled the nervous energy from the 2014 debut into a solid release that captures Mumblr at their most matured and well-rounded. ~ Nikki Tardiff
“I am afraid that I am to blame”, Beau Bryne states plainly on seventh track “Metal”. It is one of the more obvious moments on Broken Beak’s second album where, instead of dwelling on personal faults and failures as so many other artists have done, frontman Bryne seems to accept the facts and make an effort to grow from it. Similar to how mainstays such as Bright Eyes built upon their sound after adding members, Broken Beak’s transition from solo project to full band adds a subtle but necessary depth to the project. ~ Nikki Tardiff
Sonnder is one of the most provocative acts in recent memory. After releasing a new song every month for an entire year, the experimental indie rockers returned to the studio to refine those songs which were rereleased as the band’s first full-length record. The result is an ambitious masterpiece driven by virtuoso-caliber instrumentation and frontman Ryan Weidman’s incredible vocal range. Tracks like “Along The Way (I’ve Been Alive)” and title-track “Entanglement” are filled by rich landscapes and catchy melodies, making this album a bona fide epic. They performed alongside The Struts at the Radio 104.5 Block Party back in August 7th and show no signs of slowing down. ~ Dan Cousart
French natives Paloma Gil and Lou Hayat were enjoying a night out in Paris before they returned back to the US last November. Instead, it was a night marred by tragedy and terror. The attack at the Bataclán became the inspiration for the The Dove & The Wolf’s new EP: the hauntingly beautiful I Don’t Know How to Feel. Driven by the duo’s potent combination of rich, folk-inspired harmonies and interwoven guitar playing, songs like “The Smell of Us” and “Seven Days” capture a rare intimacy that few artists are capable of expressing, but what’s even more remarkable is the EP’s poignant relevance. It’s not about trying to understand what happened, it’s about reaching out to someone so that you’re not facing it alone. “And it will never be the same, I already know/I want you with me now”. ~ Billy Cook
Philly Power Pop trio Hurry are the next breakthrough band from record label, Lame-O Records (home of Emo Superstars, Modern Baseball). On their latest record, Guided Meditation, Hurry captured the charming, punk melodicism of 90’s favorites Matthew Sweet and Teenage Fanclub. Opener “Nothing to Say” sets the tone perfectly, beginning with a shimmery guitar before Matt Scottoline jumps in with his dreamy tenor. Songs like “Shake It Off” remind me of the youthful innocence I felt when I first listened to The Shins. They recently played Free at Noon at World Cafe Live, recently played with Beach Fossils at Boot & Saddle and had write ups from New Noise Magazine and Pitchfork. Be sure to catch their upcoming show at Boot & Saddle with the incomparable Francis Quinlan of Hop Along September 12th! ~ Dan Coursart
Something New from RFA lives up to it’s promise as the next creative step from the promising Rock Quartet. Whether it’s the morning-after malaise of “Saturday, January 24th” or the youthful spirit of “Swell”, RFA have loosened up their sound without sacrificing the wild spirit that makes their music so relentlessly entertaining. Something New is the best kind of Rock record, one that skips the bullshit and focuses on delivering punchy tracks filled with catchy melodies and tight instrumentation. It screams “shut up and dance” without coming off as either shallow or pretentious, a feat that’s surprisingly difficult to find in Rock music these days. Expect big things to come for Rock On Philly’s September Artist of the Month. ~ Billy Cook
There’s no doubting that we’ve entered a new era of music and, while some may perceive this as a slight, Philly MC Kenny Greene seems too occupied fearlessly pursuing his own vision to care. On his latest mixtape, Chameleon, Greene finds different shades and perspectives on the current trends in Rap without sounding derivative. “Flower Girl” and “Bluff++” are driven by potent combination of rich samples paired with intricate beats that compliment Greene’s own dexterity and fluid presence in the music. It’s a record that proves just how high the ceiling is on this young and talented artist. In Greene’s own words “Not even God can show you what I’m about to do”. ~ Billy Cook
What was your favorite Philly release of the summer? Share your pick in the comment section below!