Spring always hangs me up the most: Philly’s seasonal music of isolation courtesy of Michael Reiley, Japanese Breakfast, and more.
Without wanting to sound like the guy in Frank Zappa’s beloved Brown Shoes Don’t Make It, “He’s a bummer every summer…”, the multiple vexing variant strains of Covid and the increased levels of infection and hospitalization in Philly has me blue. From the tone of several releases this month out of Philly and locally related artists, I am not alone. Being stuck inside the mobile, locked down and masked for now over a year, is making pod people out of all of us. Breaking out in song of any sort means breaking free. Even just spiritually and psychically for these Philadelphia artists.
For example, there’s South Philly’s master of the spheres, Michael Reiley. His new ambient album, Heavenly Bodies, is released on April 9 on the Italian label Pregnant Void. Michael Reiley makes it clear from the start of Heavenly Bodies: that this new collection of tones and tings, of “healing frequencies, was derived and dedicated to the classical nine planets of our solar system,” and that “this album seeks to bridge the spatial and sonic by exploring the sacred ratios and mathematics that guide the planets as they dance through our solar system with perfect balance and precision.” Buy it HERE.
Reiley is a true mystic when it comes to healing music, pandemic or not, if we are to use his most recent project before Heavenly Bodies as a prime example: an album of “sleeping > dreaming music,” eight and half hours long – The Dream Cycles. Anyone looking to ruminate while on masked lockdown would be well advised to go no further than this mood-elevating music, and chill.
West Philly’s Japanese Breakfast and its front-person Michelle Zauner may no longer live in these parts, but, we still tend to think of her as one of us.
In preparation for her biggest year yet – a long-rumored memoir “Crying in H Mart”, on Knopf Books, a fresh album in Jubilee for late spring, a tour commencing at Union Transfer on August 7 – Japanese Breakfast just dropped its first new single, “Posing in Bondage,” with a simultaneously released video directed by Zauner. And though the track has a rousing chorus, its early verses, in connection with the video, seem frozen on a slow, ruminative vision of isolation that only a year long’s pandemic can bring. Chilling, really.
Then there is the quite literal Still Singing Songs from the Inside, a compilation packed with Philly local singer-songwriters lost inside their heads and homes in lockdown, as produced, curated and compiled by Emily Joy Goldberg.
Considering that she has been down this road before, last spring with the release of the equally-local, equally stuck-inside song-craft of “Songs from the Inside,” Goldberg has a finely tuned ear for the forlorn and tender among us. And not just the acoustic guitar-strewn types. There’s everything from hip hop, electro, gospel and country to be found among Still Singing Songs from the Inside‘s artists. And while each artist makes their won brave new pandemic world into something picturesque and isolated, shout out to my old friend, Rodney Whittenberg, for rocking out on his contribution, “Angels and Saints.”
The proceeds from Still Singing Songs from the Inside will be donated to BuildaBridge and Village Arts, tied as each are to raising funds and spirits in the local art community. Only on Bandcamp, by the way.