Tag Archives: Indie Pop

E. Joseph & the Phantom Heart, Poly/Western @ Windup Space Tonight

Back in January we had some pretty nice things to say about local trio Poly/Western. Now that it’s almost April, we’re gonna go ahead and double down on those statements.

At that time, we’d been vaguely aware of this band, but hadn’t had the chance to see them live yet. We expected them to be good, but we don’t mind saying that they were great. They reminded us right away of some crazy hybrid of the Twilight Singers, Sense Field, Tool and Big Black. While the rest of the country is just catching onto stuff like Beach House and Wye Oak, we’re here to tell you that Poly/Western is on the vanguard of local talent, and they’re what Baltimore needs to start paying close attention to right now.

E. Joseph and the Phantom Heart play the Windup Space tonight. 9 pm Doors.

Those are some pretty bold statements for a band that has yet to put out its first full-length. We believe they’re warranted though. At the January show we picked up a free copy of their 3-song Orange ep, and it’s been in heavy rotation at the Chophouse ever since. We’d definitely advise you to check out the Poly/Western Bandcamp Page, where you can download the Orange ep, as well as the 3 songs that make up the Down Home Blizzard Demos. Giving a spin to either one of these brief recordings will easily have you wanting to play it again by the time it’s over.

Sharing the stage tonight and equally deserving of your attention tonight is Baltimore’s own E. Joseph and the Phantom Heart. The Phantom Heart is no small pill for the listener to swallow. On the face of it, this band makes pop songs. These songs, however, are not to be taken at face value. The artist page on their label’s site throws around the term “power-pop” pretty liberally, but we don’t quite think this does E. Joseph justice. A listen to their 2008 album All The Medicine In The World… will certainly remind a listener of the best of the 80’s, Duran Duran, Simple Minds and the like, but it also begs the question “What would have happened if U2 and Sting hadn’t fucked it all up for everybody?”

This is definitely some sub-genre of pop. Not power-pop, but we call it that because no one ever got around to naming it properly. It went extinct before anyone could. Only the Cure made it out of the 80’s relatively intact playing something close to this sound. It’s as dead as doo-wop. Dead as Latin.

If they’d been around 30 years ago, E. Joseph and the Phantom Heart are the sort of band that would have signed a multi-record deal on a major, been all over Vh1, and fueled many a post-prom heavy petting session from sea to shining sea. After the complete and utter collapse of the music industry though, they find themselves a perfect fit on the homegrown and very modern Beechfields Label. It’s no stretch to say that this band is revitalizing and reinventing pop music the same way that the Beechfields is helping to reinvent the music industry, and we’d urge anyone reading this to come out to the Windup Space tonight and support them both.

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Windup Space is located at 12 W. North Avenue in Station North. Survival Society and Me & This Army also play. Ages 21+

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Belle and Sebastian @ Constitution Hall Tonight

Yeah. You read that headline right. It’s Belle and Sebastian. It’s in DC. It’s tonight. And as Joe the Biden might say; it’s a “Big Fucking Deal.”

How big of a fucking deal are they? We bought our tickets months ago. We had to order them online from a primitive computing machine in the middle of the desert. We had to deal with Ticketmaster, break out a credit card, verify our stupid change of address and everything. It got us to thinking: this is the first real life, bona fide concert the Chop has ever attended. We’ve seen thousands of bands, and they’ve all been in small spaces where you pay at the door and get a hand stamp.

Belle and Sebastian play DAR Constitution Hall tonight. 7 pm Doors.

But Belle and Sebastian is such a big fucking deal that the last time they played the area was also at Constitution Hall, and we said to ourselves we said; “Chop, it’s a big fancy concert. It’s at DAR, where freaking Morrissey plays. Those tickets are going to cost a fortune and sell out and yadda yadda yadda.” And we were right. But when we found out they were touring again, and coming back to DC in support of their new record Write About Love, we said “Fuck it. They’re from Goddamn Scotland. When are they coming back again, eh?” Yeah. It’ll be a while.

For our money (and these tickets ran to money), Belle and Sebastian is the best thing to come out of Scotland since whisky.

If that sounds like we’re drinking the Kool-Aid, well, maybe we are. B & S are something of a cult band, and after a few good years of casual listening we are definitely in that cult. Not since that other cult band, The Smiths, has a group of musicians so elevated pop music to the level of high art. We’re sure that Ke$ha is going to come back and shit all over pop again any day, but for now, for today- October 14… pop is exciting, whimsical, and wonderful again.

Don’t believe it? Go ahead and stream the new album courtesy of National Public Radio and tell us if we’re wrong. (Hint: We’re not wrong.)

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DAR Constitution hall is at 1776 D St. NW in Washington DC. Tickets for tonight’s show are sold out.

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