Hospitality, Blood Feathers
1003 Arch Street
Philadelphia, PA, 19107
Doors 8:00 PM / Show 9:00 PM
This event is all ages
Wild Flag is a Portland, Oregon- and Washington, DC-based quartet consisting of Carrie Brownstein, Rebecca Cole, Mary Timony, and Janet Weiss. The members of Wild Flag have played in numerous and notable bands including Sleater-Kinney, Helium, Quasi, The Minders, Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks, and others.
The four musicians who make up Wild Flag have known one another for well over a decade. Brownstein and Weiss were in Sleater-Kinney and toured with Timony’s band Helium on numerous occasions. Brownstein and Timony played in a side project called The Spells. Rebecca Cole’s Portland-based band The Minders was a frequent opener for Sleater-Kinney. Weiss and Cole play together in the 1960’s garage-rock cover band The Shadow Mortons. If someone drew a visual representation illustrating the ways in which all indie bands are interconnected, Brownstein, Cole, Timony, and Weiss would be in the same tiny sphere, so playing together felt almost inevitable. After collaborating on a score for a documentary, the ease with which they worked together proved infectious and promising. Future practices were scheduled, songs were written, Wild Flag was formed.
Yet even after the members of Wild Flag became intentional about playing together—and Mary was flying from DC to practice in Portland—the band was hesitant about naming this endeavor. Yes, they knew how to be in bands, but not in this band. Wild Flag wanted to figure out dynamics, hear how the songs breathed in a live context, build cohesion and unity, and emerge as a singular force prior to putting those sounds onto tape. Wild Flag always intended to grow organically, never wanting to take for granted that an audience existed based on previous endeavors. So, instead of recording an album and then playing shows, they went on various tours, playing tiny club shows in the US and building up a fervent audience of their own.
In April of 2011, they went to Sacramento, California, where they recorded their self-titled album with engineer Chris Woodhouse at the Hangar. All tracks were recorded live except for the vocals
The angular, intricate, and intelligent compositions of Hospitality signal a sophisticated new pop voice. Singer Amber Papini's idiosyncratic songwriting and incisive lyrics coupled with the band's rich arrangements on their self-titled debut explore youth, New York, and the bittersweet commingling of past and present in a way that feels just right, right now.
From the opening phrase of "Eighth Avenue," guitar hooks are balanced with a cultivated melody. Papini's singing has a wisp of an English accent via Kansas City (she learned to sing by imitating Richard Butler on The Psychedelic Furs' Talk Talk Talk) and her lyrics create a moonstruck, even cinematic vision of New York City, where the band formed in 2007. The production by Shane Stoneback (Vampire Weekend, Sleigh Bells) and band member Nathan Michel (guitar, drums, keyboards), who released his share of experimental "bedroom" pop, culminating in 2005's The Beast (Skipp/Sonig), imbues the entire record with an intimate yet prodigious sound, layering period keyboards with horns, synthesizers, and treated guitars.
Hospitality the album has an overarching vision and should be listened to as a whole, though every song registers as a single. (Will Merge take a cue from Epic's Thriller campaign and release seven singles? They should!) "Friends of Friends" could break the Hot 100 with its heavy intro, swingin' breakdown, and horn riffs; "Betty Wang," the lynchpin of their live set a few years back, is impossibly catchy, the story of one of Papini's real-life colleagues at a financial day job; and "The Right Profession" is a power-pop burst of an anthem with Papini chanting the immortal line, "It's hard to change!" (Isn't it?) And "The Birthday," with a sinuous, dissonant lead guitar, the lockstep rhythm of the drums, and Brian Betancourt's nimble bass, wouldn't be out of place on The Police's debut record, but its epic coda makes it decidedly CinemaScope. Hospitality, while hearkening back to '70s/'80s pop—both Elvis Costello and Kate Bush are influences—has an ambitious vision: its big promise is nowhere more evident than on the gorgeous anthem "Julie," the album's centerpiece which already sounds like a classic. The song's lush, glorious build is coupled with lyrics inspired by Papini's great-grandfather, a Pennsylvania coalminer.
Reprising some songs from a self-released 2008 EP recorded by Karl Blau (K Records) allows Hospitality to nod to its beginnings as a more lo-fi outfit; that early intimacy can be found in the arrangement of the cheeky and distinctly NC-17 "Liberal Arts." Since recording its LP, the band has become a quartet, filling out its live sound with Kyle Olson on drums and Michel moving to lead guitar duties. And after patiently honing its craft, playing concerts (and gaining converts), Hospitality has reached what will be its first apex with many more heights to come; from their modest debut in a Red Hook row house, the band has evolved from four-track low-fidelity to a luxury five-star future.
For their forthcoming debut LP (due in January), Hospitality have widened the iris with the help of producer Shane Stoneback (Vampire Weekend, Sleigh Bells), letting in new colors and textures while continuing to pack an impressive degree of musical and lyrical sophistication into the pop song structure, along with a refreshing fondness for experimentation that should turn the heads of casual listeners and merciless critics alike.
Since recording, Michel has traded his trap kit for electric guitar (an instrument he's been known to wield on his various brilliant solo efforts [Google him]), and the band has added drummer Kyle Olson to the lineup, transforming the once minimalist trio into a fully orchestrated quartet with quite the engaging live show.
Ben Dickey and Drew Mills formed Blood Feathers in 2005 to perpetuate America's most important export, Rock n' Roll music. Sailing the same tradewinds that brought rhythm to the New World and shipped gospel, blues, and jazz back as a thank you note, Dickey and Mills write songs that snug into the grooves of your grandmother's 78s as easily as they download into the mystery of your iPod.