The Daily Krapht – Hop Along – “Sister Cities”
The best band to have emerged over the last 5 or so years is a limit-defying and inherently lovable rock group out of Philly led by Frances Quinlan. Their name is Hop Along and they have proven that quality is mightier than quantity. One EP released in 2009 followed by a 2012 full length are their only albums. However, in 2013 they did release a single entitled “Sister Cities” that is a simply delightful amalgam of indie rock’s finest aspects. Opening as pop-punk, progressing to folk and finally transforming into straight up punk laced with emo, it never once is pretentious and is at all times both precise and passionate, leaving the listener humbled, inspired and feeling that most of their record collection is now obsolete, in the way that all era-defining bands do.
The rhythm section is spot on, with stop/start dynamics that keep you on your toes. Twangy lead guitars jangle noisily betraying a country influence while vibraphone and keyboards provide balancing undertones. The songwriting leaves nothing to be desired either, with moving melodies, a great bridge and darkly nostalgic lyrics that evoke vivid imagery and emotion. Their overall sound hearkens back to little-known 90’s emo bands like Kill Creek while still sounding strikingly fresh. But the showstopper is Quinlan’s vocals, which start unassumingly but soon soar through the melody with decadent range and versatility. Her screams achieve a soulful rasp, and her songbird falsetto hits transcendentally beautiful high notes, enhancing the melody in a way only she could. She brings proficiency, and more: she awakens the deep dormant yearnings of our heart in a sincere and powerful way.
The charm of the bandmembers shines through their music videos and live performances. They play with humility, heart and abandon. In many ways they are merely a typical folk-pop band, but these qualities along with the revved up nature of their songs are what push them into the highest echelons of indie rock. Their music is epic, anthemic, unbridled and yet accessible, a combination of aspects that is exceedingly rare. Their ability to create generation-bridging music is clearly evident, with a sound that will appeal to folkies, Gen X’ers and new-school punk kids all. Towards the conclusion of “Sister Cities” they even border on hardcore punk as Quinlan’s unabashed screams give way to thrashing guitar and the song dissolves into a chaotic whirlwind of euphoria. Hop Along’s music is so captivating, undiluted and magnetic that one is changed upon listening and will find it hard to sleep afterwards. It’s almost enlightening.
Bottom line: Whether you’ve been looking for new indie, emocore, pop, punk, folk, or good ol’ rock and roll, Hop Along is top of the pops across the board.
Artist name: Hop Along
Location: Philadelphia, PA
Genres: Folk-pop, indie rock
Band Members: Frances Quinlan, Mark Quinlan, Tyler Long
Record Label: Hot Green Records, Big Scary Monsters (UK)