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When I was growing up in the Philadelphia area, and for many years after, the city was hardly a hotspot for interesting music. Oh, there were exceptions, but by and large it always seemed pretty moribund. The situation has been changing in recent years—there are good live music presenters, more record labels, and a much broader and deeper array of musicians, from the psych-folk axis of the Espers crew to the free jazz centered around High Two Records to the giddy pop-rock of Dr. Dog. The forthcoming debut album by a quartet called the Swimmers, Fighting Trees (due in March from MAD Dragon, the student-run label at Drexel University that also signed the Redwalls), ought to put them right next to Dr. Dog, with strong, delicate pop hooks somewhere between the Shins and Wilco. I know that doesn’t sound like the most original formula, and no, there’s probably nothing about the Swimmers that you haven’t heard before, but if they've got melodies that fill your ears like warm water and attach to your brain like leeches, who cares? The group plays tomorrow night at Subterranean and Saturday night at the Empty Bottle. They’ll also play a live acoustic set on Friday at 4 PM on WLUW.
Former HotHouse talent booker David Chavez has resurfaced at the new location of the long-time Wrigleyville coffeehouse and restaurant Uncommon Ground. The second spot is at 1401 W. Devon, in the space formerly occupied by Speakeasy. Chavez expects to present a handful of events later in December, with booking picking up in January. Although the original Uncommon Ground made its name booking acoustic-oriented singer-songwriters, the new location will offer a more diverse line-up, with an emphasis on international sounds, Latin, jazz, and soul.
Bill McHenry, Roses (Sunnyside)
Ha-Yang Kim, Ama (Tzadik)
PJ Harvey, White Chalk (Island)
Rodrigo Maranhão, Bordado (MP,B)
Essie Jain, We Made This Ourselves (Ba Da Bing)