Thursday, October 19 at 7:30 PM
Wolf Parade / Charly Bliss at Union Transfer
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The soaring choruses, rousing anthems, sprawling guitars and chaotic keys that make up Wolf Parade are on proud display over the course of Cry Cry Cry, the band’s thunderous first album in seven years.
That unique combination of sounds and influences, spearheaded by electric co-frontmen Spencer Krug and Dan Boeckner—a complex yet relatable, energetic brew of glam, prog, synth-rock, and satisfying discomfort—helped define 2000s indie rock with three critically celebrated albums, and propelled a growing Wolf Parade fandom even after the band went on a then-indefinite hiatus in 2010.
The upcoming return marks their first to be produced by Pacific Northwest legend John Goodmanson (Bikini Kill, Sleater-Kinney, Unwound) at Robert Lang Studios outside of Seattle, and is accompanied by a renewed focus and the creativity of a band that took their time getting exactly where they needed to be. It’s also a homecoming to Sub Pop, which released all three of the band’s previous albums.
“The band itself is almost a fifth member of the band, something more or at least different than the sum of its parts,” says Krug. “We don’t know who or what is responsible for our sound, it’s just something that naturally and consistently comes from this particular combo of musicians.”
“Once we got back together, I was playing guitar, writing and singing in a way that I only do while I’m in Wolf Parade,” says Dan Boeckner, who shares primary lyrical and singing duties with Spencer. “It’s just something that I can’t access without the other three people in the room.”
In the time apart, the band scattered geographically and focused on family and other work–Spencer on his solo project Moonface, Dan on his bands Handsome Furs, Operators, and Divine Fits (with Spoon’s Britt Daniel), and Dante De Caro on records with Carey Mercer’s Frog Eyes and Blackout Beach. And that time allowed for an even stronger, tighter band to emerge.
Eventually, Spencer, Dante, and Arlen found themselves all back living on remote Vancouver Island, accompanied by a population density less than that of Alaska, and the tranquility that leads to creative emanations like a government-sponsored bathtub race. With Dan on the same coast in Northern California, discussions began about picking things up where they left off.
“All of our albums are always a reaction to our last one,” says Arlen. “Expo 86 (2010) was about as sparse as we get, which is usually still pretty dense, and this time we wanted to make the palette a little larger.” Adds Dante, “Expo was a real rock record. We just sort of banged it out, which was kind of the point.” Cry Cry Cry, on the other hand, is more deliberate in its arrangements and embrace of the studio process. “If a part was going on for too long it would get lopped, you know?” says Dan. “That being said, there are two very long songs on the record and I don’t think it would be a Wolf Parade record if it didn’t have some kind of prog epic.”
“I think we’re actually a better band than we were when we stopped playing music together,” says Arlen. “A little bit more life experience for everybody, and people having made a bunch of records on their own.”
The result of this new consciousness is songs like “Valley Boy,” a Bowie-inflected anthem for which Spencer wrote lyrics after Leonard Cohen died the day before the 2016 election (“The radio’s been playing all your songs, talking about the way you slipped away up the stairs, did you know that it was all gonna go wrong?”). “You’re Dreaming,” also influenced by the election and the spinning shock that followed, is driving, urgent power pop that draws from artists like Tom Petty and what Dan calls one of his “default languages” for writing music. The swirly, synth-heavy crescendo of “Artificial Life” takes on the struggle of artists and at-risk communities (“If the flood should ever come, we’ll be last in the lifeboat”).
The album carries a sense of uprising that is not unrelated to Wolf Parade’s renewed determination to drive the band forward in uncertain times. Welcome to Cry Cry Cry.
Let’s rage against the night
– “Lazarus Online” (Spencer Krug)
If it’s true that listening to just the right record at just the right moment can psychically transport you to some other time and place, then Charly Bliss—an NYC band responsible for having crafted some of the finest guitar-crunched power pop this side of an old Weezer record with a blue cover—can pretty much turn any space into an adult-friendly version of your old teenage bedroom, a candy-scented safe space for extreme fits of happiness and angsty teen-level explosions of romantic ennui.
Though Charly Bliss has been a band for over half a decade, the path that led to their first full-length record, Guppy, has been anything but straightforward. As the story goes, the band officially started when frontwoman Eva Hendricks and guitarist Spencer Fox, both just 15, crossed paths at a Tokyo Police Club show in New York City, but the ties within the band go much deeper than that. “It’s kind of insane and hilarious,” says Eva, “Sam is my older brother, so obviously we’ve known each other our whole lives, but all of us have been connected to each other since we were little kids. Dan Shure and I dated when we were in our early teens and he and Spencer went to summer camp together. Dan and I broke up years ago, but eventually he’d become our bass player. The reason we all get along so well has to do with the fact we share this ridiculous history. We are all deeply embedded in each other’s lives.”
After spending years playing shows in and around New York City, the band eventually released an EP (2014’s Soft Serve) and scored opening gigs for the likes of Glass Animals, Darwin Deez, Tokyo Police Club, Sleater-Kinney, as well as a touring spot for their own musical forebears, Veruca Salt. Even though the band had amassed a sizable fanbase and a reputation as a truly formidable live act, the goal of making a full- length record proved to be a fraught series of false-starts. Given their propensity for making hooky, ebullient pop songs, the band often felt out of step with what was happening around them in Brooklyn. (“We weren’t weird in the right ways,” says Sam). They eventually set about recording an album on their own—and then recording it twice—before figuring out what had been staring them in the face the entire time. “We basically had to come to terms with the fact that we are, at heart, a pop band,” recalls Spencer. “Before, it was always trying to decide which of the songs would be more ‘rock’ and which would be more poppy, but we eventually realized we needed to meet in the middle, we had to create an ecosystem where our loud, messy rock sounds could co-exist with these super catchy melodies and pop hooks. It was really about realizing what we’re best at as a band.”
The ten tracks that make up Guppy, Charly Bliss’ sparkling full-length debut, show the band embracing all of their strengths—a combination of ripping guitars and irrepressible pop hooks, all delivered with the hyper- enthusiasm of a middle school cafeteria food fight. That every track is loaded front-to-back with sing/shout-worthy lyrics and earworm melodies is a testament to the band’s commitment to the art form of pop songwriting. Opening track “Percolator” sets the tone—all power riffs and yo-yo-ing melodies playing against Hendricks’ acrobatic vocals, which veer from gentle coo to an emphatic squeal:
I’m gonna die in the getaway car! I would try but it sounds too hard! It’s a vibe that carries throughout Guppy, a record that shares an undeniable kinship with 90’s alt-rockers like Letters to Cleo and That Dog— bands that balanced melodicism, sugary vocals, and overdriven guitar turned up to 11. It’s an aesthetic that Charly Bliss both embraces and improves upon in tracks like “Ruby” (“We actually wrote the guitar solo by sitting in a circle and passing the guitar around, each of us adding our own notes,” says Fox) and “Glitter”, the record’s first single. “I wanted to make a song about being romantically involved with someone who makes you kind of hate yourself because they are so much like you,” says Hendricks, “A fun song about complicated self-loathing that you could also dance around your bedroom to—that kind of sums us up as a band, actually.”
“Pop music can actually be very subversive,” she continues. “The lyrics that I’m most proud of on the record are me existing both in and out of this overgrown teenybopper feeling—feeling like everything I was going through was the most extreme thing that had ever happened to anyone ever. The songs are often about being totally in the throes of this stuff, but also being able to step out of it and make fun of myself. It’s possible to write songs that really get at all of these dark feelings while also just being really fun to sing and dance to. You can be serious and also sing about peeing while jumping on a trampoline.”
Guppy is a record that doesn’t so much seek to reinvent the pop wheel so much as gleefully refine it. “People forget sometimes that expressing joy is just as important as examining despair,” says Shure. “People need joy, especially right now. We’re all about writing tight pop songs, but also giving people this super enthusiastic release. These songs are kind of the sound of expressing something that you can’t really contain. These are songs you play really loudly when you need to freak out.”
1026 Spring Garden St.
Philadelphia, PA, 19123
Get tickets to Comeback Kid at Underground Arts, Philadelphia, PA on 10/18/17
Clock DVA are one of the pre eminent pioneers of late 70’s/80’s experimental music along side and in collaborative association with Throbbing Gristle and Cabaret Voltaire. As one of the founder members of The Future, which evolved into The Human League, Adi Newton began his life long involvement with sound via painting and through a theatre project which began his involvement with sound, he founded Clock DVA and TAGC/The Anti Group in 1978.
Clock DVA’s acclaimed albums include the 1988 album “Buried Dreams” (Considered by many as an electronic masterpiece) and the 1980 electro-acoustic album “Thirst” released on the cult label Fetish. Considered by Paul Morley in his NME Album review as one of the Best Debut Albums of the 1980’s, it sat alongside Joy Division’s “Unknown Pleasures” and The Fall’s “Dragnet”. Clock DVA continue to present and release new music and perform critically acclaimed audio visual works and performances through out Europe and the USA.
Newton also Directs TAG/The Anti Group an independent multi-media research & development project active in many related areas. Strictly speaking TAG are not a group, but a variable collection of individuals contributing under invitation and the directorship of Adi Newton. Genre-breaking works include the ambisonic album “Digitaria” 1986 and Test Tones, a series of pioneering albums, produced in 1985/6 which have had lasting impact on the development of extreme forms of electronic music.
Newton has also been involved in numerous art museum presentations and performances, including the prestigious ARS Electronica Linz,The V & A London and Art Futura Museo Nacional Centro De Arte Reina Sophia Madrid. He has recently returned to painting and intends to explore and develop his multi discipline practice into the art and painting arena with sound and visual installations while still remaining very active within the DVA/TAGC projects. Throughout all these, Newton directs all projects as well as the multi media production company ARMComm/Anterior Research Media Communications.
“Adi Newton has long since described the process of making music as his research. It represents a more thoughtful and reflective body of work than that which dominates his peer group. In particular, Newton’s grasp of the philosophical connotations of technology placed him apart from the majority of its practitioners.” – NME
Void Vision is a Philadelphia-based electronic project helmed by Shari Vari. It began around 2009 at a time when a wave of synth-revivalists were materializing, but the quality of the songwriting and intense vocals set the band apart from the pack.
In a rare instance, Void Vision has managed to combine vintage dance elements with melodic structures, haunting melancholy, and lyrics that have a palpable soul. The songs themselves are dynamic, referencing a cross-section of the last 30 years of electronic music, while simultaneously retaining a uniqueness all their own.
The infamous Wierd Records weekly club night in New York, which showcased a variety of talented electronic and coldwave artists, served as an incubator for Void Vision in it’s early stages.
After a standout debut performance at the club, they immediately caught the attention of Blind Prophet Records, who consequently released their first 7″ single, ‘In 20 Years’, which received excellent reviews.
Vari has continued performing and recording steadily over the last few years, releasing songs on compilations for various labels, including Rough Trade, and in 2012 the song ‘Everything is Fine’ was selected for Artforum magazine’s ‘Best of 2012′ issue. In 2013, Void Vision toured the West Coast and later that year released a split 12″ with Portland-based band, Vice Device.
The first official full-length album, entitled ‘Sub Rosa’ is set to debut on Berlin-based Mannequin Records, followed by a European tour in 2015.
Shari Vari formed Void Vision in 2009 originally as a duo, during the explosion of the new minimal synth and cold wave scene in United States. Sharing the same scene of the Wierd Records associates like Led Er Est, Martial Canterel, Xeno & Oaklander, Automelodi, in 2010 VV released ‘In Twenty Years’ on Blind Prophet (Sean Ragon’s Cult Of Youth record label), receiving also the attention of the Rough Trade dudes, who asked to put out a track for one of their synth wave compilations. After other split vinyls, tapes and compilations, Mannequin approached Shari with the intention to continue what Wierd Records started, giving a proper shape to her beautiful and youthful dark electronic sound. The result is 10 hypnotic cold analog tracks dominated by the warm and fragile Shari’s voice, some more “pop orientated” some others belonging to the original “cold wave” atmosphere.
Electronic-based solo project from the Dead Milkmen frontman.
Join Atlas Obscura and Timberland on Friday the 13th for a spooky gathering at Roy Pitz-Barrel House. Over light bites and libations (including custom cocktails designed by Roy-Pitz’s mixologists), guests will be treated to a magical evening of tarot reading, storytelling, tunes by the West Philadelphia Orchestra and other evocative wonders.
Ticket sales will be donated to the Center City District Foundation for their continued effort to transform the Rail Park into public green space for the community. In Philadelphia, Timberland has committed to restoring a portion of the Rail Park that matches the retail footprint of its store in the city. Since Phase One of the project broke ground last October, Timberland has supported the effort, and on October 13, they will be backing the the cause with hands-on volunteer service.
In addition to Friday the 13-themed eerie delights, guests will be invited to learn more about the Rail Park’s history and future development.
- Your ticket includes light bites and an open wine, beer, and specialty cocktail bar.
- This event is strictly 21+; I.D. required.
Advance Tickets Only. All Sales Final. No Refunds or Exchanges.Stay connected! Subscribe to the Atlas Obscura Society Philly newsletter for a first glimpse at upcoming events.
This event is brought to you by your friends at Timberland in partnership with the Center City District Foundation as part of their dedication to minimizing their footprint and creating more urban green space.
Noname at Underground Arts
Friday, October 13 at 8 PM
Thursday, October 12 at 7:30 PM – 11:30 PM
Against Me! / Bleached / The Dirty Nil at Union Transfer
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Four years is a measurement of time that America has used for centuries to indicate change. Presidential terms last four years; high school diplomas and college degrees typically take four years apiece, too. It’s not an arbitrary thing, either: It typically takes that much time from the declaration of something changing for it to actually change.
Meet Laura Jane Grace. Four years ago, the Against Me! frontwoman came out as transgender; 18 months later, she released the band’s sixth album, the fiery Transgender Dysphoria Blues, one which she began working on before her transition and helped document the struggles she was facing. It was an intensely personal record that took on a life of its own, connecting with thousands of new listeners drawn to Grace’s honesty and complexity while still pleasing Against Me!’s dedicated fanbase.
Now, four years after Grace’s public reintroduction, Against Me! is ready to release their new album, Shape Shift With Me, September 16 on Total Treble. While much has changed in the lives of Grace and her bandmates—guitarist James Bowman, bassist Inge Johansson and drummer Atom Willard—in that time period, it’s clear that those intervening years have done wonders for creativity.
“Everything with Shape Shift With Me has been really about keeping momentum going,” she says. “In between every tour we did for Transgender Dysphoria Blues, I would have a couple songs I had written and we would demo them. At the end of two years of touring, we had an album ready to record. Usually, you come off of touring for a record and you’re back at square one. But this was so fully formed it felt like there was no choice but to go ahead and record the songs.”
Shape Shift With Me has the distinction of the first album Grace has written truly from the heart, with no metaphorical cloaks cast over the lyrics. It’s an album about love, that deceptively complex emotion we all struggle with yet has somehow eluded most of Grace’s songwriting for the past 20 years.
“Tons of people have written about love. But while love is cliché, it’s infinitely relevant. For me, having always been in a punk band that was expected to be political, I never felt like I had that option to write about feelings in that way. That’s what I ended up being drawn to this time. It’s writing in a way I thought I could never write before, and not giving a darn about expectations.”
As such, Shape Shift With Me is a loose concept album about traveling the world and falling in and out of love, with Grace serving as the narrator. But even though she was opening herself up to new songwriting topics, she knew what her mission was from the start.
“Is there a record that is about relationships from a trans perspective?” she asks rhetorically. “There needs to be more records about trans rights and everything like that, but feeling like I already did that, I wanted to move on to write commentary on living from a trans perspective. I wanted to write the transgender response to the Rolling Stones’ Exile On Main St., Liz Phair’s Exile In Guyville and the Streets’ A Grand Don’t Come For Free. All those records are relationship records. There’s been an infinite amount of records talking about what love means from a cisgender perspective. I wanted to present the trans perspective love and heartbreak.”
With Grace’s new motivation came a new outlook on the band, as well. Previous albums found the songwriting process to be a largely solitary experience, but she embraced the spirit of collaboration for Shape Shift With Me—so much so that when Cody Votolato of the Blood Brothers sent her some demos of songs he was working on for another project, she became inspired and ended up co-writing “Boyfriend” and “Norse Truth,” two of the album’s most memorable tracks, with him.
“It was just about opening up to whatever comes my way karmically,” Grace says. “Whatever everyone in the band is willing to offer, I just wanted to be open to it. I didn’t want it to be like what it was in the past where it may have felt closed. I want it to be different.”
In a career already full of classic punk records, Shape Shift With Me feels like the definitive Against Me! album—it’s poppy and catchy (“Rebecca”), aggressive and in-your-face (“ProVision L-3,” “Dead Rats”), sentimental and longing (“Crash,” “All This And More”). Moreover, it’s the culmination of four years of existence as Laura Jane Grace—there’s no going back now, so she might as well embrace it.
“While I’ve always wanted the moon and the stars, I have a certain amount of humbleness,” she admits. “I just want to play shows and make records and write songs. That’s what I’ve always wanted to do. Of course I always want the biggest and best things for those shows and records and songs, but when it comes down to it, I just love doing it. I have no other ambitions or career goals.
“David Bowie put out 27 full-lengths. Prince put out 39 full-lengths,” Grace remarks. “That is so inspiring to me—working, creating art, creating records and let everyone else sort it out. That’s what I’ve always wanted to do and that’s what I will keep on doing.”
Los Angeles-based pop punk band formed in 2010.
Jennifer Clavin (vocals, rhythm guitar)
Jessica Clavin (lead guitar, backing vocals)
Jonathan Safley (drums – live)
Micayla Grace (bass, backing vocals – live)
1026 Spring Garden St.
Philadelphia, PA, 19123
PhilaMOCA presents the 6th annual David Lynch-themed art show, Eraserhood Forever! While work will hang through November 4, this Opening Night event will feature a one-night-only layout plus a special performance piece at 7:30. Free admission, 6-9 PM. PhilaMOCA 531 N. 12th Street http://www.philamoca.org
Hundred Waters at Underground Arts
Sunday, October 8th, 2017
21+ | Doors: 8PM | Show: 9PM
Sounding as if Stereolab, the Postal Service, Broadcast, Laura Nyro, and Björk were the Top Five of their collective playlist, Hundred Waters are a quartet from Gainesville, Florida whose soft combination of organic and electronic attracted the most unlikely of label bosses, superstar DJ Skrillex. Members Nicole Miglis, Trayer Tryon, Paul Giese, Zach Tetreault, and Allen Scott played together in various formations as friends back in middle school, but it took until adulthood and 2011 for them to become Hundred Waters. Living together in one house meant the band had a communal mentality, yet over time, a unique technique of the five members recording and composing on their own was developed, and soon jam sessions evolved into individuals working on the same songs but alone, in different rooms. The group felt that greater care was being put into the work and the results displayed it. The best results were released by the Elestial label in 2012 as the band’s self-titled debut album. Skrillex caught wind of the release and signed the band to his OWSLA label that same year. AraabMuzik, Star Slinger, and Troublemaker were some of the remixers who contributed to their first OWSLA release, the 2012 EP Thistle. They returned in 2014 with sophomore album The Moon Rang Like a Bell, another dense patchwork of found sounds and precision electronics. Hundred Waters approached the album from a more experienced perspective, having had difficulty making the songs from their earlier recorded work translate easily in a live setting.
••• Kelsey Lu •••
North Carolina-born cellist and vocalist Kelsey Lu recorded her debut EP live at a church in Brooklyn with a loop pedal, and it’s one of the most startling and evocative pieces of music you’ll hear all year. Lu was raised as a Jehovah’s Witness and fled home at 18 to escape her strict upbringing, so her choice of location, the Roman Catholic Church of the Holy Family, is in a way a subverted act of rebellion. A suite of songs that push and pummel gospel music into experimental new places, the album opens with ‘Dreams’ – Lu’s voice as thick as molasses as it slides up and down the scale, quavering and punctuating the stillness with decorative trills – glides through ‘Time’ with her falsetto in tow, before ending on the plaintive ‘Visions of Old’. Her instruments may trade stages on occasion, but mostly they are symbiotic: an extension of Kelsey Lu, an extension of herself and everything she has been – and no doubt still wants to become.
We don’t know how to make her stop screaming. We put a knife through her heart. We buried her in the ground. We gave her a funeral. We set the earth on fire. None of it did any good. The fire was screaming, the dirt was screaming, the knife was screaming, and the woman was screaming. Can you hear it?
DOORS AT 7:30. DONE BY 11:00.
$10 IN ADVANCE. $12 AT THE DOOR.
TICKETS AVAILABLE AT: