Spend 15 years in Philadelphia and you’ll figure out that things in MAGNET’s native city aren’t always sunny or bursting with brotherly love. But underneath the tough exterior are some pretty sweet sounds. In honor of our anniversary, we pay tribute to our hometown scene.
Today’s installment: Philly Future, five bands—Shot X Shot, Tickley Feather, the Swimmers, Hoots & Hellmouth and Make A Rising—that just might define the shape of the local scene to come.
SHOT X SHOT
The young, clean-cut former art-school students in Shot X Shot don’t look like your average avant-garde jazz outfit. But the two-saxophone quartet is classically free on its second album, Let Nature Square (High Two), a fresh set of stormy-yet-controlled improvisations.
DIY singer/keyboardist and single mom Annie Sachs (a.k.a. Tickley Feather) makes minimalist electronic pop that echoes with eerie psychedelic touches. Mainly relying on a keyboard, drum machine and Sachs’ echo-laden vocals, 2008 debut Tickley Feather (Paw Tracks) evokes a mixture of Animal Collective, Ariel Pink and ethereal-era 4AD Records.
Debut album Fighting Trees finds the Swimmers peddling guitar-pop hooks hooks reminiscent of Wilco’s Summerteeth and sporting New Pornographers-style male/female vocals. The Swimmers are signed to Mad Dragon Records, a Drexel University student-run label with a national distribution deal.
HOOTS & HELLMOUTH
Sean Hoots and Andrew “Hellmouth” Gray form the core of this wooly, gospel-flavored roots band. Hoots & Hellmouth’s 2007 self-titled debut (on Mad Dragon) unleashed a guitar-and-mandolin attack and tent-revival vocals, bringing modern folk out of its Nickel Creek coma.
“Want On Nothing”
MAKE A RISING
Drawing from free jazz, post-punk and lo-fi pop, 2008’s Infinite Ellipse And Head With Open Fontanel (High Two) blurs boundaries with prog-like abandon. Make A Rising often appears onstage in homemade costumes and animal masks; singer Jesse Moynihan is reportedly working on a headpiece to project thoughts from his forehead.