Tag Archive: Philadelphia

  1. Musical Pairings: Seamonster – Baldessari


    If you’ve been with us for awhile, you’ll remember Virginia Beach artist/musician Adrian Todd Webb who records under the moniker Seamonster. Back in early 2010 he released his Two Birds EP which was as enchanting as it was concise (it was released on limited-edition 7″ format). A little over two years later he’s lovingly stitched together a new full-length of fuzz-toothed and computer-transmuted folk titled Baldessari.

    Since Webb is as well known for his work as an artist as he is for his music, it should probably be no surprise that Baldessari was not inspired as much by other musicians so much as it was by other visual artists. Indeed, like many well known fine artists, Webb’s proven to be a conceptual songwriter who enjoys working forward from a concept instead of writing songs for their own sake. For example, this latest LP is named after conceptual artist John Baldessari whose “creative appropriation of discarded materials to make new and interesting art” is cited as specific inspiration for Webb’s creative process here (Webb used a toy Casio keyboard, a thrift-store appropriated Yamaha PortaSound, a used Ipod that he bought from a friend for $50, etc.).

    Not only that, each of the songs on the album are either titled after, or specifically reference, artists or paintings by Paul Gauguin, Pierre Bonnard, Arthur Dove, Raoul Dufy, Vincent van Gogh, Henri Matisse, Georgia O’Keeffe, Franz Kline, or Howard Finster. In fact, Keefe and van Gogh are referenced twice. Webb further built upon the concept through a freeware program called AudioPaint which he used “to convert the images of paintings referenced throughout the record into sounds that were then incorporated into the songs to make something new and different out of the old and familiar.” Further, lyrics from the track “Georgia 1931” borrow from a letter Georgia O’Keefe wrote to art critic Henry McBride in 1931.

    Musically, Webb balances elements of traditional songwriting against his conceptual musical explorations. For example, there are clear sonic road signs pointing to his Elephant 6-inspired background (especially Neutral Milk Hotel and early Apples In Stereo). Throughout, lo-fi psych gives way to fully textured compositions and delicately threaded instrumentation. “Vincents Chair” opens with deep humming synths accompanied by swirling chirp-like tones before crashing into a cacophony of shattered computer bleeps and bloops before smoothing out to seamlessly return to the original melody.

    Likewise, the album’s first single “Normandy Landscape” unfolds smoothly with lightly layered harmonies opening into sparse synth-set melody built along a flinty, skipping rhythm as Webb sings: “The Normandy Landscape is the color of your eyes . . . I’m lost in your eyes.” Much of Baldessari unfurls upon repeated listens, slowly revealing nuance and layered, thoughtful arrangements. Yet “Normandy Landscape” is the most immediate and catchy tune on the album. For that reason alone, it’s a great entry point for people unfamiliar with Seamonster’s prior releases.

    Baldessari is a crisp and beautiful balance of unique textures perfectly soundtracking both late summer and early fall. For these reasons, it pairs well with Kasey’s Watermelon, Ricotta Salata and Sumac Salad. Together they will help you make the most of the final days of summer.

    Seamonster – Normandy Landscape

    Preorder Baldessari from Gold Robot (I already have). It’s limited to 250 copies on yellow vinyl so get it fast. Then head to the Kitchen to read Kasey’s recipe for Watermelon, Ricotta Salata and Sumac Salad.

  2. Blogger Guest Post {Bruce Warren} featuring Arc In Round

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    I’m not inclined to throw terms like “legend” around when referring to other bloggers, but it’s a term I’m not afraid to use when referring to today’s guest blogger Bruce Warren who is a true legend in the music blogging world. Bruce is the executive producer of NPR’s World Cafe (a show he helped launch). Oh, and he is also the Assistant Station Manager for Programming at WXPN in Philadelphia. And if that wasn’t enough he has been blogging at Some Velvet Blog since December 31, 2004, which means he might have been blogging before you even knew what a blog was. As I discovered after meeting him following Fiona Apple’s set at Stubbs in Austin, Bruce is also one hell of a great guy. Take a listen below to the treat he’s unearthed for you today.    ~Matthew

    A creative centerpiece of Philly’s rock renaissance over the last several years has been in the area of the city called Fishtown, a working class neighborhood that’s been gentrified with 20 and 30 year old hipsters, professionals, and some of the city’s best rock bands. Fishtown is also home to indie rock clubs like Kung Fu Necktie and Johnny Brenda’s and have served as gathering places for fans of local and soon-to-be-nationally known bands just getting their start. One of the local bands that has come out of this scene is Arc In Round, a four piece with a fondness for Can, Stereolab, and Pink Floyd and features guitarist/vocalist Jeff Zeigler, Josh Meakim on bass, drummer Matt Ricchini and keyboardist/vocalist Mikele Edwards. When Ziegler isn’t busy with his own band, doing sound at Johnny Brenda’s, or tour managing, he runs Uniform Records, a studio where War On Drugs, Kurt Vile, Pattern Is Movement, Oh! Pears and many others have recorded their music. It’s here where Arc In Round recorded its self-titled debut album out on La Société Expéditionnaire. The excellent album is filled with moody and deeply hypnotic guitar based songs that genre hop between shoegaze and krautrock; some tunes wouldn’t be out of place on a My Bloody Valentine album. Where MBY always keep the needle on 11, Arc In Round appreciate the importance of nuance in sound and songwriting. Download the song “Hallowed” that features their pal Kurt Vile on trumpet.

    Arc In Round – Hallowed

    Arc In Round are a part of Philly’s indie-rock music scene with their pals War On Drugs, Kurt Vile, Dr. Dog, Purling Hiss and Pattern Is Movement.

  3. Musical Pairings: Vacationer – Gone


    Vacations come in all shapes and sizes. There are stay-cations where you simply relax at home. There are resort getaways where you simply kick-it at a resort while over doing it on the rum-based drinks. There is adventure travel for when you want to get your blood flowing. There is day-tripping, weekend getaways, 10 day vacations, and long-term travel. If you regularly read both sides of this site then you already know that vacations have been on our minds here at TK recently. In fact, we can’t stop thinking about our own impending vacation to London and Sicily. There is little we love more than traveling. Apparently, Philadelphia-based Vacationer, led by The Starting Line’s Kenny Vasoli, feel the same way about vacationing. On their Facebook page they explain that their tunes are “designed with the sole purpose of relaxing the listener and sending their mind on a well-deserved trip. No airfare needed, no reservations. Simply settle in, relax and enjoy; Vacation from anywhere at anytime.”

    How effective are they? Personally I can’t say that Vacationer’s tunes actually teleport me to another place, but as we already discussed, not every vacation means actually visiting somewhere new. Vacationer’s debut LP, Gone, is most like a very pleasant, very chill stay-cation. As far as vacations go, Gone is chilling on a couch happily day-dreaming of tropical locales with your honey on a hot, lazy afternoon with the sun spilling into the windows.

    For most of Gone, Vacationer can be said to fall somewhere between Vampire Weekend (minus the Afro-pop) and Rogue Wave (plus some tropical grooves) within the contemporary indie spectrum. And, as it turns out, that isn’t a bad place to fall at all. The tracks are catchy, but not pretentious. The jams are slightly precious, yet simultaneously adventurous. And their sonic palette is colorful and lush, but pleasingly faded. It’s a blend that can win them mainstream success without sacrificing a little indie-cred for good measure.

    Opening cut “Everyone Knows” maintains a low-key vibe despite a funky rhythm and hip hop beats paired alongside its upbeat key lead and sand-filled melody.  Similarly, the album’s first single “Trip”  maintains those old-school hip hop beats, but spices the mixture up with ambiant jungle-like noises and a melody as briny and cool as a sea-breeze. It’s a combination they blend effortlessly from track to track proving that the production is truly the album’s MVP. “Good As New” has a clean hip hop bounce alongside a swaying groove. Likewise, at its foundation “Summer End” (another standout) has a steady, upbeat groove set against an unlikely flute-sample and warm harmonies. Given a chance, Gone will provide you with a lot to enjoy.

    Kasey’s Midsummer Cake recipe in the Kitchen today is moist, bright and filled with gooey sweet berries. It’s a delicious and satisfying treat for your Gone-soundtracked summer stay-cation.

    Head to Insound to buy Vacationer’s Gone on vinyl. Then head back to the Kitchen to read Kasey’s recipe for Midsummer Cake. In case you’re wondering, TK won’t be bare while we’re on our vacation. Thanks to our friends we’ll have plenty of good stuff for you hear and read while we’re away.