It’s the sirenlike vocals amidst Broken Social Scene-inspired synth melodies that first give you pause. But the slow morph into a bizarre Care Bear world of unnatural cheer and bliss that follows really catches the listener’s breath. And so begins Gemini Wolf ’s second full-length album, Synchronized Eyes. The morphing and melding of genres and influences continues on the album as the band laps influences from a pool that includes !!!, Fatboy Slim, the Faint and New Order. The addition of a string quartet and Afrobeat horn sections, however, turns Synchronized Eyes into a constant bag of surprises.
Philly duo Gemini Wolf began as the project of Michael McDermott and Megan Cauley in 2005, though the two had played together previously for years. Since then, the lineup and sound has changed. The duo turned into to an all-out band on the first release, 2007’s Josiah , and then returned to a duo the following year. McDermott says, “I think we also had a little bit of a change in the direction of our sound and we wanted to document that,” resulting in the 10-song collection on Synchronized Eyes .
This time around, the focus is more on the electronic aspect. “We didn’t want to make a total Warp Records-type album, where it’s just itchy beats with a female singing,” McDermott explains. That’s where the Afropop comes in.
The album features a number of guest musicians, including members of local bands Shot x Shot, Normal Love and West Philadelphia Orchestra. Since McDermott and Cauley co-run the local label earSnake—which put out both Gemini Wolf and West Philadelphia Orchestra records—the decision to add a multitude of bright, brassy horns was a bit easier.
“We tried to have more fun and funny and dancey songs, and less serious ones. I think people have enough things to be serious about right now,” says Cauley.
Sat., July 18, 8pm. $10. With Pink Skull, West Philadelphia Orchestra + Bilwa. Johnny Brenda’s, 1201 N. Frankford Ave. 215.739.9684. johnnybrendas.com