Philadelphia's "best kept secret" won't be a secret for much longer.
Photo: Shervin Lainez
Hop Along has often been dubbed Philadelphia’s best kept secret. Fitting? Sure. But for much longer? Hell no.
Get Disowned, Hop Along’s first full-band album which they self-released in 2012, came out of seemingly nowhere to be one of the most staggeringly perfect records of the year. Ten songs that were as catchy as they were strange. The Philly four-piece can pull off this amazing trick where they make a lyric instantly stick in your head without needing to tether it to a traditional verse-chorus-verse structure.
Part of what makes Hop Along’s sound so unique is the brother-sister anti-chemistry of drummer Mark Quinlan and guitarist/singer Frances Quinlan. Mark, who grew up pounding away for heavier hardcore bands, and Frances, a student of the Jeff Magnum style of make-it-weird-until-it-works songwriting, meet somewhere in the middle. (They once told me the only band they agreed on growing up was Pedro the Lion.) Sometimes they’ll bring things down to a hushed whisper, before pushing levels beyond breaking points, and weave the two extremes together at break-neck paces. And it’s all glued together with Frances’ inimitable voice—raggedy and raw, with a wild, untameable streak. Never duplicating, always unpredictable.
As a result of their musically mutated DNA, Hop Along could hold their own alongside just about anyone. And they have. They’ve been jammed onto bills with everyone from The Thermals to Fucked Up to Paint It Black. They’ll play to the punk PBR chuggers at Fest or the too-cool indie kids of Wicker Park Fest.
Naturally, the “secret” of Hop Along has gradually gotten out over the last few years and by the time they were ready to work on their follow-up sophomore album, Painted Shut, they had a long line of industry suitors, out of which, Omaha indie staple Saddle Creek Records emerged victorious. If the album’s first single, “Waitress” is any indicator, Saddle Creek got a steal.
“Waitress” is everything that makes Hop Along great, distilled down into three and a half minutes. Frances’ idiosyncratic lyricism is on full display and as each minute of the track passes, the band seems intent on upping their own intensity, crescendoing until the song hits a tipping point. And then it just ends. A perfect way to tease an album.
This is all a long-winded way of saying this: There is no one out there like Hop Along. Not even close. And Painted Shut might just end up being the best album of the year. The secret is officially out.
Listen to "Waitress" and catch Hop Along on tour with The War on Drugs. Dates below. Painted Shut is out on May 5 from Saddle Creek. Pre-order it here.
3/28: Norfolk, VA @ The NorVa (w/ The War on Drugs)
3/29: Richmond, VA @ The National (w/ The War on Drugs)
3/31: Knoxville, TN @ Bijou Theatre (w/ The War on Drugs)
4/1: Chattanooga, TN @ Track 29 (w/ The War on Drugs)
4/2: Athens, GA @ Georgia Theatre (w/ The War on Drugs)
4/3: Birmingham, AL @ Iron City (w/ The War on Drugs)
4/4: Memphis, TN @ Minglewood Hall (w/ The War on Drugs)
4/5: Tulsa, OK @ Cain's Ballroom (w/ The War on Drugs)
4/7: Albequerque, NM @ The Historic El Rey Theatre (w/ The War on Drugs)
4/8: El Paso, TX @ Tricky Falls (w/ The War on Drugs)
4/9: Phoenix, AZ @ The Pressroom (w/ The War on Drugs)
4/11: Wichita, KS @ Lucky's Everyday
4/12: Champaign, IL @ Mike n Molly's
4/13: Columbus, OH @ Double Happiness
5/5: Brooklyn, NY @ Rough Trade
5/6: Hamden, CT @ The Space
5/7: Portland, ME @ SPACE Gallery
5/8: Allston, MA @ Great Scott
5/9: Philadelphia, PA @ Union Transfer
5/10: Brooklyn, NY @ Baby's All Right
5/13: Washington, DC @ Black Cat Backstage
5/15: Asheville, NC @ The Mothlight
5/16: Atlanta, GA @ Drunken Unicorn
5/18: Dallas, TX @ Club Dada
5/19: Austin, TX @ The Mohawk- Inside
5/22: Tucson, AZ @ The Flycatcher
5/23: Los Angeles, CA @ The Echo
5/26: San Francisco, CA @ Rickshaw Stop
5/28: Portland, OR @ Doug Fir Lounge
5/29: Seattle, WA @ Chop Suey
5/30: Vancouver, BC @ The Cobalt
6/1: Boise, ID @ Neurolux
6/2: Salt Lake City, UT @ Kilby Court
6/3: Denver, CO @ Lost Lake
6/4: Omaha, NE @ Slowdown
6/5: Chicago, IL @ Subterranean
6/6: Pittsburgh, PA @ Cattivo
6/7: Toronto, ON @ The CAVE at Lee's Palace