White Birds, Heyward Howkins
1131 S. Broad Street
Philadelphia, PA, 19147
Doors 8:00 PM / Show 8:30 PM
This event is 21 and over
Teen Men is a Wilmington, DE / Philadelphia, PA based collaboration between two musicians and two visual artists. Teen Men includes members of the Spinto Band (singer Nick Krill and guitarist Joe Hobson) and their new music takes a similar pop aesthetic and dedication to song craft inspired by Quincy Jones’ work with Michael Jackson and mixes it with samples and electronic / ambient tones reminiscent of Vangelis. The visual artists (Photographer Catharine Maloney and Filmmaker Albert Birney) add an important element to the group, most notably a video projection synced to our live show that the band and audience members interact with.
White Birds, a visual signifier of the end of conflict, and also the name of a band that found its genesis in just that conflict. Upon splitting their former troupe Drink Up Buttercup, James Harvey, Farzard Houshiarnejad and Mike Cammarata regrouped and sought peace musically. They dialed down the aggression and found a pensive, somber tone to soundtrack the parallel breakdown of Harvey's relationship – something that dissolved at an equal rate to the crystallization of the songwriting that will become White Birds debut LP. The staggering vocals and memorable hooks remain, but the band has taken their music to a new place.
Whether insisted upon or lovingly squelched, "candor" marks the
pervasive theme on Be Frank, Furness—the swift successor to last
year's acclaimed The Hale & Hearty LP (produced by Chet Delcampo).
This go-round Heyward has captured an even more honest and relaxed
vibe with the help of co-producer Ben Riesman (Le Fits, Bart
Davenport) and mixing engineer Quentin Stoltzfus (Mazarin/Light Heat,
The Walkmen, Lilys, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah). Many of the tracks were
rendered to tape with a full band in a cavernous trolley repair depot
that was being transformed into a recording studio right under
Howkins' feet—imparting palpable warmth, breadth and unpredictability
into the sessions that ultimately became Furness.
While most of the central thematic figures on The Hale & Hearty were
too far gone—beautiful but broken, these folks still have a chance and
in some cases get a free pass—if for one night only—like the couple in
"Sweet Tea Oleander." It's a slippery ballad where the "whole night's
a pardon from guilt now departed" and a newly sprung couple sip from a
questionable brew just to have "anything to break up this candor."
It's a sweet but toxic mixture of Nathaniel Hawthorne meets Cool Hand
In the title track, Heyward cleverly casts the famed Philadelphia
architect Frank Furness into the role of his butler and demands verity
(and clarity) when he poses the question—"how could I get so mashed by
a neutral spirit's glass and not come out straight bitters?" The song
portrays a familiar tension between the inner-city and the privileged
outskirts where Furness may hold both the keys to reconciliation and
your parent's liquor cabinet—"I should have quit this Main Line mess.
They were first world problems, yes. Turned into first world debt."
Speaking of family, Heyward takes his name from his five-times
grandfather Thomas Heyward (dubbed "The Singing Signer"), founding
father and signer of the Declaration of Independence. On "Brite
Kites," Howkins takes his fascination with family history and familial
connections in a new direction, setting to music a poem written by his
mother. Layers of history combine to speak through one voice as
perspectives collide and push thoughts from long ago into the present.
Heyward first garnered attention in the early 2000s as the lead
guitarist for The Trouble With Sweeney, with releases that included
the widely praised I Know You Destroy and Fishtown Briefcase—both
records landed on Rollingstone.com's Editor's Top Picks of the Year.
Howkins is also a founding member of The Silver Ages, the critically
acclaimed choral group featuring singers from a wide array of
Philadelphia-based bands, including David Hartley (Nightlands, The War
on Drugs, BC Camplight), Charlie Hall (Jens Lekman, The War on Drugs,
The Lindsey Buckingham Appreciation Society), Brandon Beaver (Buried
Beds, Nightlands), Zach Miller (Dr. Dog) and Dan Matz (Windsor for the
Though dark themes creep in as many of the songs' characters struggle
and face the hardships of life, ultimately the album is defined by
Heyward's embrace of the playful and celebratory. With melodies that
pull you in (such as the buoyant album opener, "Nogales") and lyrics
that evoke feelings and situations both specific and universal ("Then
ran your first love Billy / All of ours really," Heyward sings in the
Stacker Lee-infused "Praline Country").