A Jersey native and Brooklyn, N.Y., resident, the extraordinarily talented singer-songwriter’s sophomore was recorded here in Fishtown and has gone on to achieve immense success. The emotionally dense Epic is a stunner carried by van Etten’s deeply resonant and powerful voice. Outshining contemporaries like Cat Power or Brandi Carlile, her ghostly Jeff Buckley-esque power will bowl you over.
Fri., 8pm, World Cafe Downstairs.
The beauty in Raphael Cutrufello’s voice comes as a bit of surprise. It’s gentle, measured, clear and velvety smooth. He and his friends create harmony-heavy, clever alt-rock gems with flavors of bands like Beirut and the Avett Brothers. Stripped down for two or built up with a crew, songs like “Cupakes for the Army” or “Albert Hash” will make you smile and laugh.
Hoots & Hellmouth
Sat., 9pm. TLA.
A roots band that drove a young MAD Dragon Records used Kickstarter to get their third record started and the people responded (and then some). Simple, energetic and lively stomping, strumming and singing are all this foursome needs to show you how talented they are. No drummer necessary here, handclaps, tambourines and boots will do just fine.
Sun., 4pm, Ukie Club Field Stage.
Their debut, Prism Eyes, was one of Philly’s surprises of 2010. Their simple lo-fi noise rock resonated with fans way beyond Pennsylvania. The husband and wife duo’s energy is contagious on tracks like “Must Be Dreaming,” with throwback harmonies reminiscent of glorious ole surf rock days. Bands like Seapony, Wavves and Vivan Girls got nothin’ on our local heroes.
Sun., 5pm, Ukie Club Field Stage.
The Robinsons are a married Portland, Ore., couple with a psychedelic rock jones. She sings like an angel and he hammers on drums like a beat machine in their tight-knit spin on spare, hazy duo rock. The 2004 Asthmatic Kitty-backed The Heat Can Melt Your Brain is a stunner full of catchy hooks and drug-addled noise.
Sat., 7pm, Festival Pier (East Stage).
Suicide Machines handle both ends of ska-punk with equal aplomb, producing snotty high-energy punk with a trashy flair (think the Damned or the Vibrators), alongside punchy, sing-song ska suggesting Less Than Jake with several times the balls and bite. They’re also fine songwriters with a gift for chourses and more to talk about than their ex-girlfriend.
Murder By Death
Sun., 8:30pm, World Cafe Live.
Frontman Adam Turla’s booming basso heralds a violent apocalypse keyed to foreboding cello and gothic songs preoccupied with sin, perdition and redemption. Bloomington, Ind., quintet Murder By Death’s rock moves with a dark rootsy air and driving urgency like a slow-fuse winding ominously toward a dramatic climax.
PW's Music Issue 2014