Artist of the Month

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December 2015
The City & I
Colins “Bear’” Regisford’s musical talents can be found dispersed throughout the Philly music community in bands such as Mannequin Pussy, Kids, Ghost Gum, and Albondigas. And with the help of local musically-inclined friends, which also included members of The Spirit of the Beehive and Gunk, what originally started as Bear’s acoustic solo project in 2004 traverses a diverse landscape of genres on his debut EP Downer, recorded under the moniker The City & I.   
Available on cassette via Infinity Cat Recordings, Downer is a record that never settles into one place for too long, jumping from moment to moment at the speed of life. “Bored People” gradually dials you in: “I’ve got no time for excuses, I’ll invest in an illusion…” It lays the groundwork, projecting an intriguing introduction of shadowy, blunted haze.
“Divine Lorraine” shifts the tempo upward into rebellious slacker rock. Pat Conaboy’s fresh kick of percussion propels the song ahead, tying in the slight etchings of distorted guitar to provide a gritty texture, which is reinforced by the lead vocal and polished by the tempering back vocals. It’s a welcomed mesh of the raw and the refined. “Geordie” is encompassed by a calm, shoegazing cloud; however, what first appears clear gathers a turbulent air, sweeping one through a momentary buzzing cyclone before disintegrating into feeble animal whimpers.
Sounds from the city encircle “Tall Girls,” while a guitar-led, emotionally torn and conflicted serenade rings out subtly in the forefront. “Untitled” is a thirty-second noise jam that builds to the title-track through a warping sonic hole. “Downer” is anything but. The instant fervor of grungy instrumentation smacks the song into action, giving the record a spirited, momentous jolt. But “Are You Up” closes by transporting the album to another unique site. This one couples Eastern-sounding keys with an industrial-hammering rhythm and a late-night, burnt-as-fuck-yet-confident emcee delivery. Amid a noisy, chaotic perimeter, it spirals into a joyous exclamatory applause. And we are left wishing and hoping for a secret track, but none ever comes. - Michael Colavita

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Album Review: Get Disowned - Hop Along

Album Review: Get Disowned - Hop Along

A simple interwoven electric guitar riff accents rough, acoustic guitar strums, and then singer/songwriter Frances Quinlan’s wispy, lilting vocals enter the equation like a glimpse of sunlight parting the clouds of an overcast sky. Thus, begins Hop Along’s latest full-length album Get Disowned.
Opener “Some Grace,” a subtle bare-boned introduction, shares a bit of the fragility and vulnerability that can be found in Quinlan’s lyrics. The song morphs into faint electronic bleeps dissolving into a serene calm. However, the pending storm arises with the following track and the album’s lead single “Tibetan Pop Stars,” which cuts through the tranquility with boisterously dirty power chords and rolling thunder drumbeats. Once again, the vocals seem to play peacemaker, a calming force among the turmoil. That is, until the chorus takes flight, then falls to earth with the repeated lines “nobody deserves you the way that I do,” which gradually rises from the ashes of a broken heart. “No Good Al Joad” is paced by steady downhill bursts of acoustic guitar that is pierced by the interloping hammer of a pickaxe electric guitar. Quinlan’s vocals strain in an effect that expresses the emotive tug and pull of the narrative. This all comes to a head after a brief percussive interlude, which captures the ear signaling for audience participation. She reveals, “You are my favorite, because you are a long shot. You are my enemy, because you forgot.” This is just before pulling back into a corner to protect herself as she gathers the strength to share a bit of philosophical wisdom and universal truth: “Everybody is a little hard to love sometimes.”
With the precise production work of Algernon Cadwallader’s Joe Reinhart, Get Disowned is a balance between agitated artillery-style rock with intimate, late night confessional vocals that dig their nails into your skin while simultaneously whispering sweet nothings into your ear. Despite the constant presence of distinctly tenacious guitar thrashes, Quinlan’s lyrical message remains a priority. It is often aided by the fact that the vocals are directed at the listener. In this manner, Hop Along invites us into an emotionally turbulent household leaving no curtains drawn or door locked.
You can purchase Get Disowned via Hot Green Records. Hop Along will also be celebrating its release tomorrow night at The First Unitarian with Bandname, Little Big League and Mary Lattimore. - Michael Colavita



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