Posts Tagged ‘Hop Along’

Get Disowned

Hop Along‘s Painted Shut made many 2015 best-of lists and definitely made it into my personal top ten for the year. Now thankfully Saddle Creek Records is reissuing Hop Along’s 2012 debut full-length album “Get Disowned” for those of us who missed out on either of it’s previous pressings. This is also Get Disowned’s first ever colored vinyl pressing for those of us addicted to colored wax. With 2,000 pressed there will be plenty to go around, but preordering helps guarantee you’ll get the record about a month before it hits your local record store.

This band reminds me of Gang of Four. It has this strange indie-rock–meets-funk thing happening. The singer [Frances Quinlan] has this way of effortlessly taking it from this angular funk verse to this incredible melodic hooky thing. When she sings, she has this beautiful, breathy voice. But when she wants to hit something harsh, she pushes it so much you can feel her voice flaying under the pressure she’s putting into it. Her voice starts to whistle like it’s going to spray apart into pieces and shatter. It doesn’t ever, but it’s really cool

The 2012 debut full-length from Philadelphia’s Hop Along, Get Disowned. Featuring “Tibetan Pop Stars,” which Mark Hoppus of Blink 182 called “the most painfully beautiful song ever.”

“Their first album, 2012’s Get Disowned, is a messy world where people stomp on old floorboards for percussion and saw violins like they were made of something stronger than wood. Everything is governed by Quinlan, who sings in the wild voice of someone casting out demons (or having the demon cast out of them). Its second song, “Tibetan Pop Stars”, should be etched in titanium and shot into outer space for safekeeping.” – Pitchfork

Hop Along’s first full-band full-length, Get Disowned was punk’s best kept secret. Critically overlooked but totally devastating, full of epic, unpredictably unfolding guitar songs with massive, quotable lyrics that wring you out emotionally and inspire the kind of furtive, conspiratorial devotion punks live for.” – Impose

“nearly perfect… The album is notable for its folk-gone-indie-punk approach, coupled with massive choruses and Quinlan’s personal, soul-crushing lyricism” – AV Club

“one of the most devastatingly honest records I’ve heard in years.” – Stereogum

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AVC Sessions: House Shows, our new series where we’ll invite some of our favourite artists to perform a show you can enjoy from the comfort of your own home. Frances Quinlan, lead singer and guitarist for Philly indie rock band Hop Along, performs a few songs from her debut solo album, Likewise. In the full session—which you can watch over on our Instagram stories, Facebook page, and YouTube channel—Quinlan details the creative challenge of producing an album without her bandmates, and how she’s adjusting to life in quarantine.

The cover of Frances Quinlan’s debut solo album features a self-portrait. Her eyes are wide, she’s looking directly at you and her expression is almost nervous – like she’s been caught and exposed. And in a way, that makes sense. After fronting the Philadelphia act Hop Along for 15 years, Quinlan is stepping out on her own, playing the personal, sometimes revealing songs on her new album

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Hop Along’s Frances Quinlan released her debut solo album “Likewise” on January 31st, 2020 via Saddle Creek Records. After four explosive albums in the form of Hop Along, the opening strains of Frances Quinlan’s Likewise play appreciably against expectations. The singer possesses one of the greatest and most unique voices in rock ‘n’ roll today, an instrument of both ragged power and fluttering grace, but here it’s been tamed from the guttural intensity so often heard in classic Hop Along tracks like “Waitress.” Her first solo album is a pristine work of inventive, introspective and sometimes chaotic songwriting, and although I warmed to it quickly when it was released in February, I find myself repeatedly spinning it now at home, especially while I’m working.

Frances Quinlan is one of our finest songwriters, and Likewise, her first solo album after almost a decade in Hop Along, is a showcase for her many talents. Her songs are impressionistic fragments — they feel unmoored in time, like “Went To LA,” or they settle for indeterminate endings, like “Your Reply” and “Rare Thing.” Her arrangements on Likewise are light and weightless, but Quinlan brings a gravity and emotional acuity to everything that she does. It’s an album that ponders big questions but doesn’t get tripped up on the answers; it savours the unknowing.

There isn’t a song that has been more deeply ingrained in my head for the last month than earworm “Your Reply,” to the point that I’m wondering if surgery may be required to dislodge it. Inspired by the notes found within the copy of a dog-eared book, there’s just something mesmerizing about how Quinlan manages to turn real-life horror—“The author I read fell from a window many stories high / stretching out to feed pigeons or a stray cat depending on the website”—into a turn of phrase that would only sound pretty when she’s the one delivering it.

On the lead single off her solo album Likewise, “Rare Thing,” Frances Quinlan recalls a surreal dream where barbs like, “I know there is love that doesn’t have to do with taking something from somebody” sting against a stippled synth. For “Detroit Lake,” she conjures images of a hawk striking prey, blooming algae, and words left unspoken, while the plaintive notes of “A Secret” mirror her lyrics’ portrait of geographical and emotional distance. At times, the syncopation between her vocals and the instrumentation is so effortless that it feels like she’s dynamically bending the instruments to her will.

She previously shared the first single “Rare Thing,” and now she’s recently returned with her second single, “Now That I’m Back.” It features Quinlan’s signature vocals but given a new sonic dimension full of space and electronics that surely separates her solo effort from her work with Hop Along.

Below find a little background on the track straight from Quinlan,

I find it mystifying that my idea of love has aged and changed right alongside me. I’d always thought of love as something one is given, I didn’t think much about my own capacity for love, for generosity. That’s too bad, but now I understand a little better, I hope. At this point I think love is always there, it exists in the margins, one needs only to access it (though this often requires some struggle and at times some pain).

Compromise is often required for the survival of most relationships. I was thinking about my struggles with compromise for the sake of understanding someone outside myself. It’s a long road, I think this song just portrays the start of it. Love is always around, even as great chunks of time drift from us and we inevitably find ourselves altered and wonder how we got to this place. I frighten myself with thoughts of love disappearing from my life, or of my hardening as a person. I’ve had some odd chapters over the last few years. I think this song came out of one of them.

Frances QuinlanNow That I’m Back from the album “Likewise” out January 31st, 2020

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It’s the beginning of November, and the thirty-three-year-old Hop Along Frances Quinlan is sitting in her living room, having just come from voting in a local election. She’s originally from North Jersey, and while careful to emphasize that she’s not a native Philadelphian, the affection for her adopted hometown is evident. “Philly is an incredible city full of people doing their best, who’ve lived here all their lives, and who want it to be a happy, healthy place. It’s cool to be around that.”

Quinlan’s new album, Likewise, is set for release January 31st, and while fans might regard it as her debut solo effort, that distinction actually belongs to 2005’s Freshman Year. Credited to Hop Along, Queen Ansleis, the self-released album—recorded in her parents’ basement—now serves as an overture to the spectacular trio of Hop Along albums that followed. Though a few friends played drums and banjo on some tracks, the record was effectively a solo endeavor, and if it doesn’t sound like one, that’s by design. “I just wanted so badly for it to sound like a band,” she laughs, “so I literally played bells and whistles, and tried to make it sound like more than just me.”

A decade later, Quinlan supervised a new vinyl pressing of Freshman Year, which proved tricky—though it wasn’t nearly as nerve-wracking as the initial release. “I was stamping burned CDs,” she recalls, “and the stamp I’d made was so bad, I decided to paint back onto the CDs with the same ink and a brush, because I wanted so badly for them to be special, to have meaning for people.” She has no idea how many of those hand-made treasures exist, but in the fifteen years since she assembled that first recording, she’s still enamored with experimentation. 

On Likewise, Quinlan enlisted the help of longtime bandmate and producer Joe Reinhart, who helped her flesh out the arrangements, and she’s animated as she describes the sessions. “Collaboration is so different when it’s you, the songwriter, and a producer, and you’re kind of producing together,” she explains. “For this project, we could do whatever we wanted—I even play drums on a couple of tracks,” she laughs before admitting, “I can’t play bass.” The pair’s crackling chemistry is apparent in every note, and across nine songs, a bevy of strings, chorals, and electronic elements telepathically track Quinlan’s magical, mercurial cadence.

As a lyricist, Quinlan is a poet, and reading through the verses which comprise Likewise, it’s tempting to see the tracks as a loosely connected narrative. Squint, and you can make out the telemetry of a rocky relationship. But Quinlan says the stories here are all abstract bits—which isn’t to say there’s no overarching theme. “A common thread would be attempts at discourse between loved ones,” she explains. “The people you’re closest to, you want them to understand you the most, right? And that can be so harrowing. It’s a hard thing to let go of who you were before, and not feel a sense of regression, not feel held back by the perception that others have of you. I don’t think it’s a hopeless record, by any means. But I do think it’s a challenge to speak your mind to the people you’re closest to.”

On the lead single “Rare Thing,” she recalls a surreal dream where barbs like, “I know there is love that doesn’t have to do with taking something from somebody” sting against a stippled synth. For “Detroit Lake,” she conjures images of a hawk striking prey, blooming algae, and words left unspoken, while the plaintive notes of “A Secret” mirror her lyrics’ portrait of geographical and emotional distance. At times, the syncopation between her vocals and the instrumentation is so effortless that it feels like she’s dynamically bending the instruments to her will. During the sessions, “I was thinking, in a different way, what the song needed,” Quinlan says. “I had no concrete, instrumental goal, and that kind of left the songs room to really wander and get strange.” She may call them “strange,” but overall the tracks are compulsively captivating, and with the spotlight on her fantastic voice, it seems like she’s present in any room where they’re played.  

Likewise closes with a cover of Built to Spill’s “Carry the Zero,” a song Quinlan has adored for years. As she relays that Doug Martsch is “cool” with her interpretation, our conversation shifts to the singers who’ve influenced her, and after quickly citing Kate Bush, Fiona Apple, and Neutral Milk Hotel’s Jeff Mangum, she turns pensive. “It’s tough, because you have people you love, but you’ll never in a million years sound like,” she considers. “There are so many vocalists I revere, that I wish I could emulate.

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Frances Quinlan has among one of the most instantly recognizable voices in indie rock. As the lead singer of Philadelphia band Hop Along, she’s been at the front of two of this decade’s best rock albums, 2014’s Painted Shut, and 2018’s Bark Your Head Off, Dog, one of our favorite albums of that year. Her voice is a raspy force that touches on everything from punk to freak-folk. Hop Along originally began as Quinlan’s solo project, but now she’s releasing her first-ever solo album under her own name. The first single, “Rare Thing,” is a real stunner and surely a harbinger of things to come. Quinlan recorded the album with her Hop Along bandmate Joe Reinhart, who encouraged her to explore new sounds, at The Headroom studio in Philly. “Working with Joe on this made me able to better see that the guitar is just one vehicle … there are so many others to explore,” Quinlan said in a statement.

Frances Quinlan – Rare Thing from the album Likewise out January 31st, 2020

Frances Quinlan: vocals, synthesizer in verses, Rhodes, tambourine Joe Reinhart: electric guitar, synthesizer in choruses, synthetic percussion arrangements, drums up until 1:44 Tyler Long: bass guitar Mark Quinlan: Drums after 1:44 (as well as additions to 1st chorus) Mary Lattimore: harp

Frances Quinlan – Now That I’m Back from the album Likewise out January 31st, 2020

Frances Quinlan: vocals, electric and acoustic guitar, synthesizer (with friendly addition from Mark in 2nd verse) Joe Reinhart: Rhodes, synthetic bass

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Philadelphia indie rock quintet Hop Along’s latest LP Bark Your Head Off, Dog found its way onto our albums of the year 2018 list and one of its singles “How Simple” has a stellar video. “How Simple” offers both a whimsical edge, with its keyboards and guitars, and a familiar sound, with its introspective theme and Frances Quinlan’s rich lead vocals. Its video marks the first time the band has starred in one of their videos. Starring Quinlan and directed by Derrick Belcham, the video features a spotlight that follows the singer as she spontaneously dances, wanders around and eventually eats some cereal as the band performs in the dimly-lit room. Quinlan joyfully dances like no one’s watching amid a flurry of flashing lights and it’s this juxtaposition of a euphoric emotional display and a backdrop of solitude that’s inspiring and immensely gratifying.

Hop Along – How Simple From the album Bark Your Head Off, Dog – Out Now!

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Three years after their seminal album “Painted Shut”, Philadelphia’s Hop Along returned with their third Saddle Creek-released LP, Bark Your Head Off, Dog, their most cohesive release to date. Few vocalists can evoke the emotion thats packed into Frances Quinlan’s delivery, and it’s on full display on early singles like the epic “Not Abel.” Quinlan’s songwriting has become more self-aware and outwardly present to the mechanisms of the world around her, and Hop Along is as tight a unit as you’ll hear on record.

Hop AlongHow Simple From the album Bark Your Head Off, Dog

Hop Along, who are playing across the UK and Ireland next month, and they’re super treble lush. The video gives a moreish taste of their live show too.

Nov 11th | Nottingham, UK @ Rock City

From the album Bark Your Head Off, Dog – Out Now

Band Members
Frances Quinlan (vocals, guitar)
Mark Quinlan (drums)
Tyler Long (bass)
Joe Reinhart (guitar)

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We got a small teaser of Hop Along’s new album when they opened for Conor Oberst at BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn! Festival in Prospect Park, a show they said they took a break from recording to play. Propelled by Frances Quinlain’s wild, raw voice, Hop Along really shine live, and they debuted a great-sounding new song at that show. Attendees of Cap’n Jazz’s House of Vans show in Chicago, which Hop Along opened, got to hear even more new material, and Frances promised new stuff at a few solo dates in October with Oberst and Tim Kasher. There hasn’t been much concrete info yet about Hop Along’s next album, but 2015’s Painted Shut was one of our favorite albums of the year, and we’re eager to hear Bark Your Head Off, Dog .

We are very happy to share our video for “How Simple” with you. Thank you to Derrick Belcham for his excellent work directing, and to all who were involved, this was a lot of fun to make.

What makes this album such a gratifying listen are the tensions Hop Along sets up: the ingenious interplay between the full band’s inviting hooks and abrasive progressions, between melodies you can sing along to and melodies you wouldn’t dare attempt, and between lead singer and lyricist Frances Quinlan’s sweet soprano and rugged rasp. Musically, everything bubbles to the surface and gasps for air, including, at times, Quinlan herself. Lyrically, Hop Along finds empathy for the Bible’s first murderer Cain (on “Not Abel”), illuminates the failures of false ideals in war (“Of course I am for peace, one that suits me”), and encapsulates the current cultural moment of untangling toxic masculinity in one perfect phrase (“So strange to be shaped by such strange men”).

Written over the course of 2016 and 2017 and recorded in the summer of the latter year by Frances Quinlan (songwriter/vocalist/rhythm guitar), Tyler Long (bass), Joe Reinhart (guitar), and Mark Quinlan (drums), “Bark Your Head Off, Dog” addresses disappointment, particularly in man’s misuse of power, and relates accounts from the periphery — one’s attempts to retreat from the lengthening shadows of tyrants, both historical and everyday. It considers what it’s like to cast off longheld and misguided perceptions, yet without the assurance of knowing what new ones will replace them. Much like on Hop Along’s first and second records, Get Disowned and Painted Shut, Quinlan seeks in real time to work through these issues.

Throughout the album, one gets the sense that Quinlan is wandering in the thicket of a forest—a state of being that will feel familiar to longtime listeners—and on this outing, she hasn’t left a trail of breadcrumbs behind her. The album’s artwork, which Quinlan painted herself, invites the listener into that forest, as well. “There is a terror in getting lost,” she says, “the woods are at the same time beautiful and horrifying.” This curious wandering gives the album, both lyrically and musically, a heightened dimensionality.

Bark Your Head Off, Dog is, without question, Hop Along’s most dynamic and textured record yet. Self-produced and recorded at The Headroom in Philadelphia by Reinhart and Kyle Pulley, Bark Your Head Off, Dog features the familiar sounds that have always made the band allergic to genre: grunge, folk, punk, and power pop all appear, with inspiration from ELO to Elvis Costello to ‘70s girl group vocal arrangements. This time around, they’ve added strings, more intricate rhythms, lush harmonies (featuring Thin Lips’ Chrissy Tashjian), along with a momentary visit with a vocoder. In more than one place, Mark Quinlan drums like he’s at a disco with Built to Spill. 

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Most significantly, Bark Your Head Off, Dog shows the band at its strongest and most cohesive. Hop Along (which originally began as Quinlan’s solo project under the moniker Hop Along, Queen Ansleis) has never sounded so deliberate, so balanced. “So strange to be shaped by such strange men” is a line that repeats on more than one song on the album. “I’ve been thinking about that a lot. That I just deferred to men throughout my life,” Quinlan says. “But by thinking you’re powerless, you’re really robbing yourself. I’m at a point in my life where I’m saying instead, ‘Well, what can I do?’”

releases April 6th, 2018

Hop Along performs at Cheer Up Charlies in Austin, Texas on March 16th, 2018.

Hop Along doesn’t sound like any specific band from that decade, cutting their spiky guitar-pop with the occasional dreamy melodies from lead singer/songwriter Frances Quinlan. Live the music is given considerable muscle by drummer Mark Quinlan, the rare drummer in indie-rock who knows how to swing. Having these dexterous rhythms as their anchor gives Hop Along are a kinetic kick that might not otherwise be heard in their delicate, nimble songs, and while that’s enough to separate the band from their peers, the group is also fun to watch because there’s a genuine warmth to their banter. In a week that can be as grueling for artists, such humor goes a long way.

New album Bark Your Head Off, Dog – Out April 6th, 2018