XPN Welcomes: Hey Marseilles & The Apache Relay
1100 Chestnut Street
Philadelphia, PA, 19107
This event is 21 and over
Watch & Listen
Five miles south of downtown Seattle is the neighborhood of Columbia City—a leafy stretch of old brownstones and new condos which, according to local legend and loosely interpreted census data, boasts the most diverse zip code in America. Not far from Columbia City’s main drag, amidst a swirl of languages and colors and food and accents, sits a 100-year-old, two-story house that’s home to the world-weary, six-piece orchestral-pop ensemble known as Hey Marseilles.
World-weary in spirit if not in practice: Hey Marseilles first won hearts across the US with its 2010 debut, To Travels and Trunks, an album that reveled in the education and inspiration only globe-trotting exploration can provide. With Matt Bishop’s lyrical wayfaring abutting an instrumental palette that embraced folk tradition—accordion, strings, and horns; gypsy, Gallic, and classical—To Travels and Trunks gave musical voice to the universal longing for unfettered freedom. NPR called the record “sublime and heartfelt.”
A lot has changed in the world since 2010—that house in Columbia City, for instance. The vacillations of the economy allowed Hey Marseilles violist Jacob Anderson to acquire it in 2011; he and his younger brother, cellist and producer Sam Anderson, helped renovate it. Since then, most of the band has lived in it, and the entirety of their new album was written and recorded in it, or nearby. (Other recording spaces included a tunnel in Seattle’s Golden Gardens Park, a mostly abandoned brick office building, and a church sanctuary, all because of their advantages for the band’s acoustic instrumentation.) Not surprisingly, Lines We Trace is not about going out and searching. It’s about finding you’re already where you need to be.
Make your way back home again, Bishop sings on the dusky ballad “Café Lights.” I am here still.
“These songs articulate a sense of longing, but it’s a longing to appreciate what’s in front of you as opposed to finding meaning in somewhere or someone else, “ says Bishop. “It’s about finding and creating home where you’re at and as you are.” The 12 songs on Lines We Trace represent a band steady enough in its sound—poignant, panoramic, unreservedly gorgeous—that it can expand beyond it. The string section that hums throughout “Elegy”—quintessentially sweeping, Hey Marseilles style—shifts into finely composed abstraction for the song’s final minute. Colin Richey’s skittering rhythm on “Bright Stars Burning” is a gentle breakbeat, a sly nod to atmospheric drum ‘n’ bass. “Madrona” and the album-closing “Demian” are Hey Marseilles’ first fully instrumental songs, a pair of echo-laden piano-and-cello dirges that are simultaneously solemn and sumptuous. “Dead of Night” trots along on an almost funky, waltzy swing and gives the album its titular lyric, trumpet triumphant as Bishop sings, The lines we trace have a thousand ends/We’ll count the ways we can’t begin/And stay in our homes, remain on our own…
Throughout, Philip Kobernik’s accordion is less pronounced than previously, Nick Ward’s guitar more so. The result is less old-world, more new school. “With our first record, we were inspired by traditional folk instrumentation and arrangements, but at our core we were trying to make solid pop songs,” Bishop explains. “We see this album as a continuation of that goal, but we hope the arrangements reflect our maturation as musicians and songwriters.” An update. A progression. A musical analog to a line in
“Looking Back”: If you’re looking back that’s all you’ll ever see.
Six years after Bishop first got together with Kobernik and Ward to jam at Seattle’s Gasworks Park, Hey Marseilles is an experienced band with a slew of major festivals (Bumbershoot, Sasquatch!) and a national tour under its belt. They’ve come a long way—only to find themselves back home. Put another way, as Lines We Trace suggests, sometimes you don’t have to go far to find a meaningful experience. Sometimes the comfort of the familiar is all you need to grow.
The Apache Relay
The Apache Relay was formed by chance in a Nashville college dorm when Michael Ford Jr. (vocals, bass) met Mike Harris (guitar, vocals). Ford Jr. happened to be looking for some musicians to help perform his own music live, when he heard about Harris' newly formed band, The Apache Relay. Ford Jr. hired the trio, which also included Brett Moore (keys, guitar, mandolin) and Kellen Wenrich (fiddle), to back him at a show and it was immediately evident that the four musicians had a unique chemistry and were on to something special.
The four-piece released their debut LP titled 1988 in 2009. Produced by Doug Williams, (renowned for his authentically raw approach with the Avett Brothers) the record was lauded by Paste Magazine as one of "The Eight Most Auspicious Musical Debuts of 2009". The band's ability to effortlessly blend acoustic sounds with ferocious rock anthem elements only hinted at the band's capabilities.
Capitalizing on the initial success of their debut with relentless touring, The Apache Relay honed their sound and released their sophomore album American Nomad in April 2011, in the US, via indie stalwart Thirty Tigers. Produced by Neilson Hubbard, the collection of modern roots-rock tracks encompassed the eclectic range of influences the band meshed so well; a tinge of Bad Brains, some Suzuki training, jazz lessons, a lot of Beatles' listening, a knowledge of traditional mountain music, a worship of Phil Spector and the love for the complex but accessible layers of bands like Arcade Fire. A few months later, Ford Jr.'s brother, Ben, joined the band as rhythm guitarist and supporting vocalist. The brothers had been harmonizing and playing together since the age of 12 and 13, so it was a natural fit.
Since the release of American Nomad, The Apache Relay, who round out their live show with the addition of drummer Aaron Early, have continued their regiment of non-stop touring, amassing a fervent fanbase and performing over 100 dates in 2011 alone, including coveted spots opening for Grammy nominated Mumford & Sons, and a breakout performance at Bonnaroo Music Festival. 2012 will see the band continue to tour in support of American Nomad including stops at SXSW, Canadian Music Fest, and Newport Folk Festival. The band's first Canadian release, American Nomad EP, will be available through Dine Alone Records on March 13, 2012. The EP includes selected tracks from the band's previous US full-length release.
"They've got kind of an Arcade Fire meets boys raised on gospel and Bruce Springsteen approach to what they do, and they're called The Apache Relay. They're a fantastic live band." - Huffington Post
"The Apache Relay's second album, American Nomad, is an excellent effort from a musically skilled group with evident appreciation for the rich, layered brand of American rock 'n' roll that pays homage to the road…" -Indie Shuffle
Born and raised in Philadelphia and its surrounding suburbs, Bruno Catrambone spent years working and writing for a project that didn't exist yet. These years of makeshift, at-home recordings turned into what Bruno later named, Former Belle.
Seeking refuge in his mother's suburban basement, Bruno got together with a few friends to sculpt what was to be Former Belle's debut release, the Sounds From the Ground EP. Sounds From the Ground was recorded in three different parts starting in Telford, PA with Producer Ed Myers, then to Zionsville, PA with Scott Minner (iHava Studios) and finishing in Doylestown, PA with Chris Radwanski (Drink Up Buttercup, Peasant, White Birds, Night Panther).
Upon its release, Sounds From the Ground took Former Belle, both full band and Bruno Joseph solo, along the east coast and on an extensive, month-long European tour. Former Belle spent their 2011-2012 months promoting and playing shows alongside the likes of Owen, Fences, Colour Revolt, River City Extension, Allison Weiss, Illinois, Daniel Ellsworth & the Great Lakes and more.
Upon returning home from Europe, Bruno settled back down in Philadelphia with a handful of new songs and a concept for the next record. During the fall and early winter months of 2012, Bruno headed back into the studio with good friend, Chris Radwanski to track Former Belle's debut full length, 'Cathedral', due out in early February 2013.