The City of Brotherly Love has always been ahead of the curve when it comes to developing great music. Chubby Checker, Hall & Oates, DJ Jazzy Jeff and Boyz II Men are just a handful of the top-notch musicians that hail from Philly. After synthesizers came onto the scene in the 1970s, Philadelphia turned out electronic bands that stand at the front of the line of the genre’s multitude of subgenres, including everything from chillwave and dubstep to synthpop and trance. Meet some of the top electronic bands in the country today that call Philadelphia home.
Book Of Love
One of Philadelphia’s first electronica bands, Book of Love came together in 1984 and immediately gained international exposure as the opening act for two Depeche Mode tours. The band’s synthpop singles dealing with sexual orientation resonated with fans, and the three-women-one-man act cut four albums and made radio play before disbanding in 1993. Over the years, the group’s one-of-a-kind tunes have been featured on “Miami Vice,” “The Silence of the Lambs” and “Naked in New York.” In 2013, the band thrilled fans when it reunited with new tour dates and material ranging from club hits to electronic mixes.
You know Philadelphia is all about electronic music when Jam on the River (which, mind you, has been on a six-year hiatus) returns with a one-day show featuring – you guessed it – hometown electronic bands. Conspirator is yet another on the card at the May 25th event. Hometown heroes Marc Brownstein and Aron Magner (bassist and keyboardist for The Disco Biscuits) got together in 2004 to explore new cutting-edge avenues in electronic music. Every live show it performs is different, not only the set list but in the way the duo infuses improvisational rock elements to produce jamtronica at its best. Conspirator has three albums under its belt. Its latest 2013 release, “Unleashed,” will be featured during the band’s 2014 Dynasty Tour.
The Disco Biscuits
If you know anything about the music scene in Philadelphia, you know that The Disco Biscuits are an electronic mainstay with a faithful following. Cranking out fresh stuff since its conception at the University of Pennsylvania in 1995, the four-piece jamband’s style has often been described as trance fusion. In addition to Magner and Brownstein on keyboards and bass, the group features Allen Aucoin on drums and Jon Gutwillig on guitar. Besides being great musicians, these guys are good people. After purchasing DJ Jazzy Jeff’s Philadelphia studio in 2006, the band began helping out other local musicians and launched Camp Bisco, a jamband music festival in upstate New York. Nine albums have The Disco Biscuits’ name on them. Check out the latest, “Otherwise Law-Abiding Citizens,” released in 2011 under the Diamond Riggs label.
Hometown boys Grimace Federation embrace the blisscore genre of music, a more joyous and lush version of chillwave. Wes Schwartz is a master of electronics, computer and guitar; Christopher Woods is a magician on drums and percussion; and Jim Calvarese is bass man extraordinaire. Grimace Federation names Philly icons Hall & Oates as one of its top influences. Love this group for the awesome music it creates, especially its latest album, “On Velvet,” a funky, jazzy collection of singles, one of which is a collaboration with New York hip-hop artist and producer Aesop Rock. Get your tickets now to catch Grimace Federation at Jam on the River.
Lotus is a homegrown electronic band that has been rocking the national and international music scene since 1999. Originally a “jamtronica” band, the five-piece instrumental group currently incorporates elements from a variety of genres, including rock, jazz, jam, hip-hop, electronica and funk. In its latest album called “Monks,” the band showcases samples from its own studio work in collaboration with 11 different vocalists and MCs to produce a cutting-edge sound. You can catch these marvels of electronica during Jam on the River at Penn’s Landing on May 25th.
Susan DeFeo has been a professional writer since 1997. She served as a community events columnist for New Jersey’s “Cape May County Herald” for more than a decade. A writer for numerous online publications, Susan has covered health, fitness, beauty and travel, all subjects that are near and dear to her as a married mother of seven children. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.