The basement of the First Unitarian Church was, up until last year, a lively, eclectic magnet for eccentric, brownbag-holding music enthusiasts multiple times a week. Most of its events, and thus its colorful traffic, have been detoured by R5 Productions up to the instant hot spot Union Transfer. Last month though, Hop Along and co. filled up the beloved spot with sweat, beer, and most importantly, feather-ruffling, exclamatory pop-rock, with some harp thrown in for good measure. Hop Along were celebrating the release of their fantastic, already understated LP Get Disowned, which you can grab your copy now via Hot Green Records (the label run by the Algernon Cadwallader dudes, who also were responsible for the recording of the album.) This Saturday night, they will be downsizing in capacity, but certainly not in talent when they take over Johnny Brenda’s for the evening. The band is coming back home after a short stint on the road, so expect a congenial time to be had by old and new friends alike... Hop Along alum - and musical man around town Dominic Angelella) - will be bringing his latest venture DRGN KING along for the ride, who will be pumping out paranormal-rock jams. What began as a studio pet project for Angelella and Ritz Reynolds has becoming a rollicking five-piece, with the recent addition of Norwegian Arms’ Brendan Mulvihill on guitar (this will be his debut show with the band). DRGN KING are getting ready to release their debut record Paragraph Nights, so expect some previews from the highly-anticipated release. Rounding out the bill are rad Baltimore-based and Dan Deacon affiliated woozy pop experimenters Secret Mountains, who will be the subject of an upcoming Shaking Through episode. Come enjoy these local favorites and their out-of-town guests for what should be an intimate yet exhilarating evening. Johnny Brenda’s, 1201 N. Frankford Ave., 9pm, 21+, $10 - Adam G.
For those who decide whether to come or go based on the first forty seconds of an album, Restorations’ LP2 is practically tailor-made for snap judgments. After a chiming, anthemic guitar opening, the band already known for fist-raising jams lets all hell break loose with “D,” their most unrestrained opener yet. The drum kit-mauling, earth-shaking bass lines and ascendant guitar riffs can only be described as complete sensory overload, and make it clear that the following eleven songs are going to be fueled by pure viscera. If your preferences run towards structure over huge sound, this release may leave you cold; LP2’s predominant means of exploring the band’s wealth of ideas are stadium-sized instrumentation and endless waves of atmospherics, as well as a dose of ennui.
This is a murkier, more inward-looking Restorations than we’re used to. Everything that was there before, musically, is blown sky-high this time around. They’ve managed to pack ideas into every iota of the song list, aided by Jon Low’s miles-deep production; the density of the music itself is offset by an album-long meditation on place, belonging, and the ramifications of leaving the familiar behind, which makes the outsized sound that much more of an interesting direction. Juxtaposing the existential discomfort with more sophisticated, complex forays into Restorations’ sonic wheelhouse.
The spiraling guitars, one of the album’s specially prominent features, are everywhere, serving various purposes in each song. “Kind of Comfort”’s jittery glam rock aspirations accompany lyrics of searching and wanderlust. Even the more downbeat cuts (“In Perpetuity Through The Universe,” “New Old”) are propelled beyond their subject matter by the songs’ barely-concealed restless energy. At its more pensive moments, like the folk-inflected “Civil Inattention,” there is a restless undercurrent of texture and volatility that never quite lets up.
Album closer “Adventure Tortoise” is all monster buildup laced with extraterrestrial effects, kicking off into a sort of requiem for the band’s neighborhood. “I’d really like to stay to help this place,” growls Jon Loudon through his teeth, but the allure of letting it all go is too strong to resist. The longing for a place “where nobody knows your name” isn’t quite all-consuming enough to inspire real action, but it is definitely the new paradigm Loudon means.
It takes guts to pull off a release that feels ten minutes long but contains more emotional and musical texture than most records. Restorations cover a whole lot of ground on LP2, and for the most part, pull off their ambitions. A bit too sanguine for shoegaze, and maybe too heady for punk, Restorations’ second full-length album brings an intriguing palette of aspirations to their open road-ready sound, prepared to try anything and everything. - Alyssa Greenberg