It would not be far-fetched to guess that within the past year or two you found a song (or band) that you instantly loved and then upon further exploration you found out that the band that song originated from Philadelphia (or from a band that recently migrated to Philadelphia). This isn’t to say that Philadelphia hasn’t held its own for a long time now, that is certainly not true, but there has been a recent resurgence in both bands coming out of Philly and attention being paid to their labors. Labels such as RANCH Records and SLUGSALT Records have accrued a wide array of interesting releases and continue to be pumping out quality, grounded albums from DIY bands in the city.
The four bands on this split (cassette release via Austin, TX-based Fleeting Youth Records) are working embodiments of the scene and represent the pleasantly cohesive variety that can be found in Philly. Mumblr are the most accomplished of this bunch and yet they do not outshine the other three bands in any noticeably way; all four of the songs on the split are equally well-composed and engaging. Clique provides the opening track, “wishful thinking”, a twinkly American Football-cum-distortion-pedal that lasts an entire one-minute and 38 seconds, the duration of which is spent engaging in the same emocore lyricism that is at once charming and at this point comfortably familiar. Loose Tooth is next up, with a punk burst of energy, “lizzy” that showcases a brand of the catchy riff-n-roll that is so zeitgeisty in the present moment. Ghost Gum’s “again” is the most sonically complex song of the bunch. There are elements of shoegaze desire that become danceably obliterated by distortion only to
reverb revert to a level of catchiness that keeps them in the league with the other three bands. Hitting cleanup, Mumblr’s “champion” is 25-seconds longer than the other three tracks combined, albeit clocking in only at a swift moving five-and-a-half minutes. As they showed on their debut LP Full of Snakes, the quartet doesn’t ascribe to any particular influence, instead functioning as more of a synthesis of the past twenty years of independent guitar rock. There are things to be heard at various moments, but Mumblr does a fantastic job of never settling for being a parroting and the result is a unique discourse both lyrically and instrumentally.
As a whole object, the split is clean and efficient representation of some of the most exciting guitar-driven rock coming out of Philadelphia at the moment, and serves as an example of the (previously known) benefits of being surrounded by like-minded artists. Community is king, and hopefully this is just the beginning of a trend towards collaborative efforts. Like the Krill/ LVL UP/ Ovlov/ Radiator Hospital four-way this past fall this fall, splits create a unique way of understanding influence and the aforementioned community—something that is sometimes buried on single albums.
The split can be streamed below, and downloaded via a special bandcamp.