Watch Frances Quinlan's gripping Live at Russo Music session - WXPN | Vinyl At Heart
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As the great reopening of the world continues, the local music community will notice a few new faces and spaces around town, including Russo Music, an instrument and gear retailer on Spring Garden Street. The New Jersey-based company quietly launched its Philly location this spring and has already begun forging connections with local artists via its Live At Russo Music video series. Today we’re psyched to give you a first look at their latest session, starring one of our faves here at The Key: singer-songwriter, visual artist, and Hop Along frontperson Frances Quinlan.

The songs Quinlan chose to perform on a resonant Fender Acoustisonic Telecaster guitar very much play into the ideas of isolation and reconciliation we’re all feeling these days. “Time alone is good for the mind,” they sing on the opening of “Fix My Brain,” a revved-up cover of a song by mid-00s Denton, Texas punk band The Marked Men, and that lyric in particular feels like the pep-talk we all needed during 18 months of quarantine. True to that, it’s a cover that Quinlan has played on Instagram Live during the pandemic — The Marked Men album of the same title came out the same year Quinlan released their Freshman Year LP under the name Hop Along, Queen Ansleis — and this version particularly slays, down to the breathtaking drop out to a swift two-string solo and right back into to the hook. “Best I ever played it,” they say after the song stops cold after its final refrain.

Quinlan performs singing into a single mic, and the sound is gripping and intimate, lifted by the resonant exposed-brick store space. Stripped of its electro-pop production, the lyrics on “Now That I’m Back” from last year’s Likewise hit powerfully, particularly as the outro finds Quinlan reflecting on the idea of re-forging personal connections but doing it with guarded optimism: “Now that I’m back we should try again to talk.” The set also features “How You Got Your Limp” from Hop Along’s Bark Your Head Off, Dog, and without the resplendent harp of the album version, the anger of the lyrics comes through as Quinlan sings of frustration at men abusing their power and position: “All your strength came from her humiliation. / I can hear you, I can’t do anything.” Watch the videos above and below, keep up on all things Hop Along and FQ solo here, explore their visual art here…and scroll down to find out more about the Live at Russo Music series.

A group of stores that launched some 50 years go in Trenton, Russo Music also has locations in Asbury Park and Hamilton, New Jersey; its Philly location is located at 1004 Spring Garden Street, right next door to Union Transfer — which seems pretty dang ideal for musicians who get to the gig and realize they need a new low E string or drum head, stat.

The Live At Russo Music video series got under way in May with performances by Anika Pyle and Maxwell Stern (featuring Mike “Slo-Mo” Brenner), captured by videographers and photographers Autumn Spadaro and Wills Weller, as well as sound engineer Dave Klyman (guitarist of the band Restorations). Check those videos out below, and keep tabs on Russo Music’s Instagram for more on the grand opening party they plan to announce later this year.

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