Fishtown quartet The War on Drugs cap off an excellent year with a homecoming show at Union Transfer on Saturday. The Adam Granduciel-led band followed up 2008's
and last year's
EP with the full-length
, its most fully realized conflation of modal guitar ambience and beat poet wordslinging. Also on the bill: Philly band Sun Airway, back home after a European tour in support of last year's
Nocturne of Exploded Crystal Chandelier
, and Ape School, the one-man band of Michael Johnson, formerly of the Lilys and Holopaw.
- Dan DeLuca
His style has always been rooted in that of early rock - he still comes across as some combination of Elvis, Roy Orbison, and Rick Nelson. So it's fitting that for his latest album,
Beyond the Sun
, Chris Isaak recorded at Memphis' storied Sun studio and tackled numbers by many of the seminal Sun Records artists, including Elvis, Orbison, Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash - even Howlin' Wolf. The versions by Isaak and his longtime band, Silvertone, don't stray far from the originals, but what's notable is the way Isaak masters the various musical styles, from soaring ballads to manic rockers. Also expect to hear his best-known songs, such as "Wicked Game" and "Baby Did a Bad, Bad Thing," and, this being an Isaak show, expect plenty of droll stage patter.
- Nick Cristiano
Bill Ricchini has always possessed a nostalgic streak. His lovely, lovelorn albums, both solo and more recently with Summer Fiction, fit comfortably next to the gently orchestrated work of the Zombies, the Beatles, and the Beach Boys. The Philadelphian will begin recording the second Summer Fiction album in the new year, but to tide us through the holiday season, there's "Christmas Eve for Two," a merrily melancholy single that reaches back to an even earlier era than classic '60s pop. A thoughtful, longing piano ballad laced with late-'50s street-corner doo-wop backing vocals, it's one of this year's holiday keepers. Hope to hear that one and some new songs when Summer Fiction bring their sadly glad tidings to Johnny Brenda's Friday night, in a free concert sponsored by WXPN's The Key.
- Steve Klinge