It seemed like a good idea in the meeting ...
93. Photon Band
All Young in the Soul / Darla, 1999
Just to keep things all in the family, we've got this release from the Photon Band, led by ex-Lilys (see No. 83) member Art Difuria. Philly's version of Alien Lanes-era Guided By Voices, the Photon Band purveyed a lovely brand of lo-fi psychedelia on this album, mixed with the influence of the Beatles and even the Who. Soul would be followed up by the equally popular Oh, the Sweet, Sweet Changes, and 2002's It's a Lonely Planet. But neither of those albums matched this limited edition--a scarcity that made it all the more desirable.
94. The A's
A Woman's Got the Power / Arista, 1981
For a little while the A's looked like they would conquer the world, but it never quite happened. Few local bands got the girls to scream like the A's did, and when they received a major-label deal, they were the first Philadelphia rock band in years to have done so. Their debut opened with the instantly memorable "After Last Night," which Clarence Clemons covered memorably. "C.I.A." and "Teenage Jerk Off" still ring true too. "A Woman's Got the Power" led off the sophomore album with a mighty hook. "Heart of America" and "Johnny Silent" both packed wallops. But even with all the right moves, the A's never quite caught on beyond Philadelphia. Singer Richard Bush has dozens of great unrecorded songs nobody's heard since then. Rick Di Fonzo and Rocco Notte have both done some serious sessions in the after-years.
95. Capitol Years
Meet Yr Acres / Full Frame, 2001
Before the Capitol Years were Carson Daly-rocking peddlers of a fantastically swaggering and tuneful retro-rock blitzkrieg, singer/guitarist Shai Halperin sat alone in his apartment, bashing, strumming and harmonizing his way to one of the best rock records Philly has ever birthed. On Meet Yr Acres, Halperin pureed go-to acts like the Beatles, the Byrds, Guided By Voices and Beck into something warm and familiar, spacing out sudden jolts of daring just to keep you honest.
Welcome to the Middle / Universal, 2003
Laguardia's debut is one of the most recent names on this list, though bassist Michael Morpurgo is ex-Dandelion, vocalist Jason Ostrander (with Morpurgo) is ex-Ty Cobb and drummer Greg Lyons is ex-Trip 66, so it's not like they haven't been around the Philly rock block. This album is accessible but inventive, and though the band was compared--and not always favorably--to Radiohead, this release revealed a band on its way to developing a signature high-energy and catchy sound. Jim McGuinn says: "On Welcome to the Middle, Josh's voice soars and leaps, the interplay between bass and drum makes you twitch and swerve, and it totally sucks that they got eaten up by the big corporate rock machine. They shoulda been on an indie label and cultivated a buzz. Instead they swung for the fences and got ignored and abused at the major label, and now Laguardia lays in ruins. Too bad."
How I Do / MCA, 2001
The debut from native Philadelphian Res expertly toes the lines dividing hip-hop, soul and rock--and sadly never made major inroads into any one genre. Too soulful to be considered a rock record and too live and in-the-moment to get lumped in with other hip-hop, How I Do stands as a testament to the variety of sounds that have come out of our city. Typically you'd need a dozen bands to show off the full breadth Philly's musical diversity. Res does it in a dozen songs.
Calendar: Aug. 26-Sept. 2