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A Sunny Day in Glasgow
"Sea When Absent
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Sea When Absent (Lefse Records) opens like a shoegaze-y car crash. The latest album from A Sunny Day in Glasgow doesn’t bother gradually layering melodic elements; they get right to business from millisecond one, hitting you with reverberating electronic tones, orchestral violins, and the crooning vocals of Jen Goma and Annie Fredrickson. It’s a weirdly aggressive move for such an intensely soulful LP, but it’s pretty emblematic of how the record works as a whole. For an album as focused at creating moments of subtle beauty, Sea When Absent doesn’t have the time to let you gradually pick up on it on your own. A Sunny Day in Glasgow is the rare type of band that takes beauty and emotional resonances and waves it around like a chair in a bar fight.
 
In the strictest possible sense, this is a shoegaze-psychedelic-electronica album with a particular emphasis on vocals. But the more you listen; the more you start to discover what a diverse series of musical influences are rattling around in there. Mixing the electronica stylings of Flying Lotus and Saltillo with the indie-pop elements of bands like Death Cab and Phantogram, the basis is a percussion of grungy electronic tones, topped with a combination of guitar and synth, adding just the right balance, while being mixed in with a cavalcade of classical instruments and outlandish effects.
 
But the crown jewel of the album is Goma and Fredrickson’s understatedly gorgeous vocals. They play off, sometimes bizarre, instrumentations perfectly, complimenting them while also adding a fulcrum of relative normalcy to Sunny Day’s outside-the-box compositions. This is what really gives the album its sense of slick melancholy, creating an ambience of stylish vulnerability in tracks like “Byebye Big Ocean (The End),” where there is a sense of crooning sorrow, while “Oh I’m A Wrecker” sees them go much farther into the indie-pop paradigm.
 
While this record maintains the complexity and delightful weirdness of past A Sunny Day in Glasgow albums, it also comes with a newfound sense of clarity, in great part due to the outside production of Jeff Zeigler (of The War on Drugs and Kurt Vile fame). Zeigler is able to successfully piece together the moving parts of this bi-continental band, with mastermind Ben Daniels orchestrating things from the other side of the world in Australia, making the album’s abrupt left turns from spacey psychedelics to grounded punk-pop a little easier to digest. The wealth of ideas rarely feels busy or forced. Sea When Absent is ultimately proof that weird doesn’t necessarily have to mean messy. 

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One half of twin pop-punk wunderkind, Allison Crutchfield (ex-the Ackleys, ex-P.S. Eliot, Swearin’), steps out on her own with her solo EP Lean In To It. Mostly written in New York City and recorded between Philly and Birmingham, Crutchfield’s latest is a lo-fi daydream wrought with the weight of disillusionment and longing.
 
Buzzing to a start, Lean In To It’s first track, “SUPERMOON,” taps into the cosmic zeitgeist, while making the most of heartfelt lines and humming synth. Crutchfield’s vocals are as unabashed as her instrumentation - both lingering in the mind of listeners well after “SUPERMOON” has waned. “No One Talks” brings to mind The Blow and early post-punk ballads informed by a penchant for minimalism and fatigued emotions. Frenetic yet deliberate in diction, the song is a conversation conveyed via duet, a harmonized dialogue between probable lovers embodied by Crutchfield and Radiator Hospital’s Sam Cook-Parrott. “No One Talks” ignites with a backbeat reminiscent of Colleen Green’s “Worship You.” The murmured pulse of the track ceases suddenly signaling the probable passing of a romance.
 
“Rose Knows” is charming without being coy. Crutchfield and Cook’s delivery shares the same pop-glazed frankness found in early tracks by The Brunettes (circa “You Beautiful Militant”). Short and sweet, “Rose Knows” is almost an interlude of its own fruition, followed by the equally brief, yet more somber, “CC.” Crutchfiled leaves listeners with the matter of fact repetition of “I know I’m not the one who’s on your mind/I know I’m not the one who’s on your mind” set to its bittersweet synth.
 
“Lupe” is a love song of lethargy and yearning, showcasing an often times overlooked aspect of relationships. The disenchanted Crutchfield sings, “I never needed it.”  If anything, the track is a portrait of dissonant romance, while “You” possesses a caliber of critique and awareness evocative of early tracks by Jenny Lewis (think The Execution of All Things). “You” is unafraid and blatantly specific, possibly inspired by biography. Deeply personal yet still aware of the social parameters of its context, as Crutchfield states, “My generation is not stoic or serene” to a deliberately percussive and persistent backbeat. The song is self-aware, reflective, and self-assured. “I cannot be a part of your delusional pursuits,” it proclaims while the latter lines of the track recount the dilapidation of shared space, of crumbling architecture and experience, a possibly metaphorical mirror reflecting the decay of failing romance central to its melodic narrative. The record’s closing track, “Berlin,” furthers the lackluster relational landscape of “You,” like Best Coast’s lesser-known B-sides. The track is moody and audibly lush, a hauntingly accurate depiction of intimacy. 
 
Lean In To It is direct yet layered with subtleties; its unapologetic yet forthright. Emotion is awash in sincerity, juxtaposed to memorably well-crafted hooks. Like watching Miranda July’s The Future after heavy drinking or listening to Power, Corruption & Lies on repeat, Lean In To It resonates with its audience in an undeniable and unshakable way without employing idealistic antics or cynicism. Crutchfield’s aesthetic and anthems are painfully earnest in the best of ways. - Dianca Potts

August 27, 2014
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Best known lately for his flips of indie and mainstream favorites, S.T.S., a.k.a. Sugar Tongue Slim, continues to be one of the beacons of hope for a struggling local hip-hop community. With a propensity to rap about women, weed, and fashion style, his latest EP delves into more serious topics like "politics, world affairs, social issues, and even presidential misconducts." He also just posted a new track today - "How Philly Use To Sound" featuring Dayna Jordan and DJ Jazzy Jeff. S.T.S. will be leading the pack this evening at MilkBoy Philly where he'll be joined by Hezekiah, Matt Ford, Fat Nice, The Bul Bey, DJ PHSH, Mr Sonny James. MilkBoy Philly, 1100 Chestnut St., 8pm, $7, 21+ - H.M. Kauffman

August 27, 2014
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We always love when we are caught off guard by new act that we are rather unfamiliar with. Thus is the case with the debut full-length release from Seagulls entitled Great Pine. The delicately textured recordings blend folk, orchestral pop, and 8-bit into a seductive concoction that languidly draws the curtain close to the end of summer, while the misguided hope of fleeting love still lingers on in the darkness of your bedroom. You can experience all this raw emotion for yourself this Labor Day weekend when Seagulls belatedly celebrates the release of their LP this Saturday, August 30 at Bourbon & Branch with pals Tutlie and New God.

August 27, 2014
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We've known this for a while, but wanted to wait until the official word dropped. Indie-pop four-piece Cruisr (now with no "e" - bummer we love "e" ;o) just announced that the band has signed to Vagrant Records, and its new EP, All Over, will be released on September 23. You can check out the title track from the group's forthcoming record below, and catch it live this weekend when Cruisr performs at the Made in America Festival.

August 26, 2014
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Here's the debut single from Daughter Cells called "Pleasure System," which you can stream and download for free below. The fledgling project features members of Exploding World, Illinois, and The Orange Apples. Daughter Cells is currently recording material to release as part of a 7" split with Drone Ranger so keep a lookout for that one.

August 26, 2014
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Underground Arts is opening up its recently renovated Black Box space tonight for a sweet Tuesday night show. You'll find Woods bassist Kevin Morby, bringing some beautiful tunes from his solo project to the Eraserhood, and guitar maestro Steve Gunn will be captivating the crowd with his intricate fingerpicking. Local favorites Mary Lattimore & Jeff Zeigler will also be hosting the talented visitors by kicking things off this evening. The duo is releasing their debut album Slant of Light next month via Thrill Jockey, and has plans to hit the road at the end of September through mid-October in the U.S. and Canada. Underground Arts, 1200 Callowhill St., 8pm, $14, 21+ - H.M. Kauffman

August 26, 2014
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