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Olden Yolk is a New York-based group whose penchant for dystopian folk, abstract poeticism, and motorik rhythms have enveloped them in a sound uniquely of-the-moment yet simultaneously time-tested. The project is led by songwriters, vocalists, and multi-instrumentalists Shane Butler and Caity Shaffer, whose interlaced vocals are found guiding each composition on their enlivening self-titled debut. The project was initially conceived in 2012 by Butler as an outlet for one-off songs and visual art while touring and releasing albums with the band Quilt (Mexican Summer). Following the release of a split-record with Weyes Blood in 2014, Olden Yolk became a collaborative entity.
Their debut full-length, slated for release in February 2018 (Trouble in Mind), ruminates on questions surrounding love, self-doubt, and locating autonomy amidst burgeoning unrest. Wrought with hazy melancholy and halcyon joy, Butler and Shaffer’s lilting vocals play off one another through a devotional dialogue, taking form in haunting choral melodies and candid rock n' roll. These songs are ecstatic odes to the life of the city; to the subway platforms, kiosks, and monuments which enliven and encompass our collectivity, elevating into an urban-psychedelia.
On the album, Butler and Shaffer are joined by drummer Dan Drohan (Tei Shi, Uni Ika Ai) and guitarist Jesse DeFrancesco who round out the studio sessions and live-band. Drohan’s deep passion for jazz, hip-hop, and experimental percussion come to fore while Defrancesco’s minimal yet powerful guitar ambiences are heard swelling in the peripheries of each song. The album was recorded at Gary’s Electric in NYC by Jarvis Taveniere (Woods) with co-production, electronics, and mixing by Jon Nellen (Ginla, Terrible Records). Other guests, such as multi-instrumentalist John Andrews (Woods, Quilt, The Yawns) and violinist Jake Falby (Mutual Benefit, Julie Byrne), add to the mercurial nature of the record, creating a landscape tinged with beatific songwriting and transgressive underpinnings
Robert Earl Thomas
Another Age, the debut album from Robert Earl Thomas, avoids inhabiting clichés even as it embraces their personal influence, distilling plucky observations and reveries into something both universal and specific. As a narrator, he steers a road song away from jaded indifference, and his self-aware ballads are concerned not with broken hearts (or breaking them) but with city-induced anxiety, complex and unfamiliar love, and soft ruminations on getting older.
Thomas is not new to making records, and Another Age is actually years in the works. A founding member of Brooklyn-based indie outfit Widowspeak, he’s previously lent his talents as a lead guitarist. He began writing and home-recording songs two years ago, gradually and purposefully in moments of solitude between tours, between stints working in a Seattle woodshop and at a hotel in the Catskills, and during weeks couch-surfing back and forth across Brooklyn.
Thomas coaxes the listener in with idiosyncratic vulnerability, like a lounge singer raised on AM radio, bedroom arena rock without the bravado, or easy-listening with a little more at stake. And the stories he tells are full of intimate moments and observations: a walk home from a lover’s apartment, a long night drive back upstate, a quiet Wednesday morning existential crisis. Another Age is indoor music at its most expansive, rock and roll held at arm’s length.
Friendship is a Philadelphia and Portland, Maine based band currently comprised of Dan Wriggins, Peter Gill, Andrés Rodriguez, Mike Cormier, and Connor Stout.
In 2015, the band released their EP ‘The Further You Kick It The Bigger It Gets’ via a youtube video, a 20-minute screen capture scrolling through the Philadelphia craigslist’s “missed connections” listings. Later that year, they released their debut LP, ‘You’re Going to Have to Trust Me’ on the Portsmouth-based label Burst and Bloom. The album is a collection of songs written by Wriggins and recorded in Philadelphia.
Wriggins mumbles his character’s frustrations over the band’s twisted articulation of americana — down-tuned guitars, steel flights, and drums negotiating between the lounge and the basement. Lyrics and production recount love, loss, and the struggle for community in an irreparable world.
Boot & Saddle
1131 S. Broad Street
Philadelphia, PA, 19147