Philadelphia is home to more than the birthplace of American history or the reigning Super Bowl champs; the city of brotherly love boasts a music scene that’d make Nashville or LA jealous (well, almost). You’ve heard of Hall & Oates. The Tonight Show wouldn’t be much without The Roots. And any self–respecting pump–up playlist will make space for “Dreams and Nightmares” (#freemeek?). Street presents: five don’t–miss Philly artists.
If you like: The National, Bruce Springsteen, crying on occasion…
Check out: The War on Drugs (& Kurt Vile)
The indie rock love–child of Adam Granduciel and Lansdowne native Kurt Vile, The War on Drugs has spent the last decade–plus spinning sentiments of pain. Despite overturns in group composition—Vile left after debut Wagonwheel Blues to pursue an equally illustrious solo career, even releasing an album with rocker heartthrob Courtney Barnett—The War on Drugs has been ever–reliable with characteristically long tracks of restless drumming and self–deprecation, a mood nostalgic of an era past. Here, sadness burns at its slowest. Their latest album, A Deeper Understanding, won the Grammy for Best Rock Album in 2017.
If you like: M.I.A., FKA Twigs, “Off off off with your head / Dance dance dance ‘til you’re dead”…
Check out: Santigold
Saturated with glitter vom and the poppiest of hues, Santi White is best known on stage as Santigold. The Friends School alum bounces between punk, hip hop, reggae, and electronic as she quips about adversity and authenticity; her most recent release, 99c, takes on the culture of consumerism. In the music video for Diplo’s (who, fun fact, went to Temple) also featuring Lil Yachty, Santigold rocks pink hair, killer shades, and nails more decked out than those Southern sorority bedrooms I see on Pinterest sometimes. The oomph Santigold channels into her fashion (see: her amazing, incredible, iconic ) translates into three vibrant albums, hopefully with more to come.
If you like: Sufjan Stevens, Modest Mouse, smoking pot with your pals and the guitar you thrifted from Goodwill…
Check out: (Sandy) Alex G
There’s something underrated—and something sweet—about Alex G’s indie rock/indie folk offerings. Born Alex Giannascoli, the multi–instrumentalist is a Havertown native and Temple University dropout with some big–name connections: he’s been , and Frank Ocean asked him to play guitar for Endless and Blonde. Alex G layers harmonies and homespun acoustics with lyrics as thoughtful and measured as those written by much more experienced musicians. Latest album Rocket finds the 25–year–old in banjo–laden introspection, and it’s so so beautiful.
If you like: COIN, Matt & Kim, drinking from mason jars…
Check out: CRUISR
The indie pop trio of Andy States, Jon Van Dine, and Bruno Catrambone (lead vocals/guitar, drums, and guitar/keys, respectively) craft tunes fitting for any summer soundtrack. Songs of love and drama glide on chipper vocals and melodies evocative of lemonade–drunk bike rides. It’s hard not to bounce along to Van Dine’s energetic drumming. From recording their debut EP Cruiser in States’ bedroom to performing at Made in America, CRUISR continues to push out sunny bop after another.
If you like: The Japanese House, Wet
Check out: Marian Hill
So you’ve probably heard the wispy piano hit from childhood friends Jeremy Lloyd and Samantha Gongol (“Are you down, d–d–down, d–d–down, d–d–down, down, down?”—yeah, that one). Lloyd is a Yale grad and the producer; Gongol’s the source of Marian Hill’s distinct chilly vocals. Both attended high school in Havertown (they would’ve been in school the same time as Alex G, see above). And Steve Davit, the saxophonist featured on latest album Unusual studied at neighboring Drexel. Before Marian Hill underscored TV ads and blessed the music scene with the iciest of electro–pop, they frequented the open mics at World Cafe Live. A homegrown success story.