Dan Ferry of Ridge Summit / The Chimeras | video grab via Philebrity

One day, many years hence, I’m going to put together a Nuggets-style compilation of incredible, yet criminally-overlooked bands from Philadelphia. High on that list would be the rock n’ roll four-piece The Chimeras, who had an solid run from 2006 till about 2012. Along with a couple EPs, the band released the incisive and topical Party of God LP – a dozen songs themed around the Iraq war and its fallout – as well as the introspective and illustrative Her – a series of character sketches depicting a variety of women, real and imagined.

The band’s records were immaculately-produced – self-recorded, sure, but robust and resonant – and their very literary songwriting style took musical leads from the rock and psychedelic canon. My go-to reference points at the time were The Velvet Underground, The Walkmen and Between The Buttons-era Stones, and they worked the classics and neo-classics into their own spirited approach. But The Chimeras never took off in any kind of big way, party because the guys – Dan Ferry and Matt Turnbull on guitar and vocals, Adam Cooper on bass, Ilshim Pearlman on drums – weren’t interested in becoming “the next big thing.”

They didn’t pay publicists to hook them up with song premieres on Stereogum and Vice, they didn’t tour extensively or chase down opportunities to open big gigs in Philly, they didn’t do a ton of press. Basically, they were defiantly anti-industry, and all the awesomer for it – the music they made was pure and uncorrupted by ideas of commodification – even if this was ultimately their downfall. And though The Chimeras continued getting together weekly practices up until a couple years back, they kind of quietly disbanded in the process and by the end of 2013 were a fading memory.

But when that kind of music-for-music’s-sake passion exists in a group of people, it’s hard to get them to let go of it. So it’s exciting to report that, while The Chimeras themselves are no more, its members have branched off into a pair of new projects that are every bit as exciting.

Turnbull has relocated to South Carolina and is part of Redeemer Space Cottage, which just released its second EP, Octoraro. It’s a duo project and has a delightful, ramshackle vibe not unlike Mirah and early Modest Mouse. Turnbull’s wife Kate is on lead vocals and she has a sweet voice with a country lilt – which blends beautifully with ringing autoharp strums and a saloon-style piano jangle – but don’t read that to mean that the music is overly precious or saccharine.

There’s some serious psychedelic grit here, particularly on “Teenage Voice of Heartbreak” – very reminiscent of Daniel Johnston’s more introverted moments – and the brooding “Costal Trash,” which opens bluntly on the lyric “There’s a woman in the park on heroin.” Elsewhere, we find ourselves immersed in lo-fi Americana: a lovely bottleneck slide moans on “Theology Pamphlets,” while an aching harmonica sings on “Yer No Other #2” as the lyrics hit on the depths of love and despair: “You are my deepest, darkest mirror / when it comes your time, you must know I tried.”

If Turnbull is carrying on the dreamy, psychedelic half of The Chimeras’ sound, Ferry is racing along to its the brash, balls-to-the-wall rock. His band is called Ridge Summit, and we’re not sure who exactly is involved in it besides him. We do know that it takes its name from a song on The Chimeras’ first EP, one they performed an intense, emotive version of during the band’s Key Studio Session (which was recorded in 2010 before we even called them Key Studio Sessions; download the track here).

We can also tell that, per Bandcamp tags, Ferry is still hanging his hat in Philadelphia. The playing on this fast-burning set of four-songs is fierce and direct, and Ferry’s delivery is bold, his voice out front in the mix in a way that it never was in his old band – maybe working longer on his craft upped his confidence, or maybe he just got bored with reverb. In any case, “Brit Stoll” and all its serpentine guitar solos will have the refrain “It’s allright / you don’t have to fight” stuck in your head, while “a Thousand Cigarettes” has a novel, askew swagger reminiscent of early Talking Heads (and later Strokes). The driving “Os & 1s” is a smoldering blues jam that reminds me a little bit of Dylan’s “Ballad of a Thin Man” at the opening, but rather than riding the middle for verse after verse, Ferry takes it on a journey into expansive territories via explosive walls of guitar.

It remains to be seen what, if anything is going to come of these Bandcamp releases – or the projects they’re attached to. They’re awesome, and they certainly deserve to be heard. As of right now, though,  the approach seems to be the same as it was back in the day – music for music’s sake, for personal fulfillment, not to reach mass audiences or quit day jobs.

Which is awesome, and commendable. But still, remember that compilation idea I talked about up top? Another band I’d definitely include are The Tough Shits, who were good buds with The Chimeras – and have recently become semi-active again. If they could play a show and get Ridge Summit and Redeemer Space Cottage to join them on the bill, I’d totally take off work for that.