Wednesday, March 19, 2014

My Top 10 Favorite Bands From Philly

I may live in New Jersey, but it is by way of the Philadelphia suburbs. My family moved to Levittown in 1968.  That was a couple of years before I was born.  Before that they were born, grew up, and lived in the Kensington section of Philadelphia. You can tell this by how I say 'water'.  This is something that I wear like a badge. 

We may not be L.A. but we still Rock.  I love the Philly music scene.  I always have.  I managed to narrow down my favorite Philly artists to a top 10.  You may not agree with me but that is the great thing about lists like this. You don't have too.  So here they are, in not particular order.  C'mon, it was hard enough to narrow them down to 10, now you want me to rank them?  You're not the boss of me...Lol.

The Roots - The hardest working band in America.  If they are not touring, producing, or collaborating you can find them on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon.  The Roots have proven that you don't have to be a thug to make it is in the Hip-Hop world.  You just have to be smart and have talent.  There are so many great albums to choose from but my favorite is still Game Theory (Phrenology comes in a close second).  If I ever become a pro baseball player this will be my at bat music.

Hall & Oates - Philly soul at its best!  I could do without some of the schmaltzy 80's stuff but truth be told I am a sucker for most of it.  Do yourself a favor.  Revisit Sara Smile.  This was their first top ten hit in 1976 and written about Daryl Hall's girlfriend Sara Allen whom he dated for 30 years up until 2001.  Put the headphones on and get lost.  I bet you forgot how great this song was.


Dead Milkmen - Punk doesn't always have to be political or rebellious.  Sometimes it can be just flat out fun.  Their punk sounds, sense of humor, and their live improvisation was classic.  Even though bassist Dave Blood committed suicide in 2004 it is nice to know that the boys (in their 50's) and back together and producing new music.

The A's - I know.  You are saying, "Who?".  Yes, The A's.  Philadelphia's version of The Knack or the Vapors.  The A's were part of an active New Wave/Power Pop scene in Philadelphia in the late 70's early 80's.  They were just as essential as Robert Hazard or the Hooters to that scene.  They put out two albums with the minor hit 'Woman's got the Power' before being dropped.  Guitarist Rick DiFonzo went on to play guitar for Roger Waters' The Wall tour.   I recently got to see them reunite for one last show.  It was a dream come true.

Robert Hazard and The Heroes - Before the rest of the world had heard 'Escalator of Life' Robert Hazard had sold 300,000 copies of his self released EP in Philadelphia alone.  He was discovered while playing a club by Kurt Loder of Rolling Stone.  He was signed by RCA which re-released the EP after re-mastering it.  That took the edge of it in my opinion.  Later releases did not live up to expectations.  Unfortunately, Robert has passed away but he will always be remembered for writing 'Girls Just Want To Have Fun'.

The War On Drugs - Do you know this band?  Until yesterday...I did not. That is correct, yesterday.  And they still made my list?  Damn Straight!  Someone asked me if this band was on my list yesterday and I said no.  On my way home I dialed them up on Spotify.  I just kept driving so I could listen.  It was a slice of heaven with vocals reminiscent of something between Dylan and Petty.  It's almost like ambient Americana.  Actually, this is the follow up I wished that Band of Horses had done after Cease to Exist.  The loss of Kurt Vile may have actually helped them.  This is soon to be my Spring Soundtrack.  Now I have to go back and discover their first to albums.  I am ashamed to say that I did not know them...and that their upcoming show at Union Transfer is sold out.

Boyz II Men - Motown Philly Baby.  After sneaking back stage to sing for Michael Bivens from New Edition he was so impressed he gave them his number.  The rest was history.  They hold three of the top five stop for longevity at the #1 spot on the billboard charts.  They still record today but their debut harmonies are still my favorite.  Is that a young Questlove???

Halestorm - They bring back the old school ROCK!  This Philly mainstay signed a record contract with Atlantic Records after winning a local radio band competition in Philly.  Lizzy Hale has some pipes!!!  If you don't know them you should.  They play 250 shows a year opening for many top bands. 

Matt Pond PA - Ok, technically they are not from Philly but they formed in Philly so I will take it.  You can hear many influences and experimentation with instrumentation in their music.  Some of this comes from Matt Pond playing French horn and trumpet as a kid.  Their debut release garnered attention on CD Now but Emblems stole my heart.

DJ Jazzy  Jeff & Fresh Prince - As a parent I definitely understand.  This is what launched Will Smith's career.  He was paired with Jazzy Jeff by chance at a party when his DJ did not show and the rest was history.  The music was smart, funny, and clean.  It is no wonder he is where he is now.  In high school they were a regular in my tape deck but it was this song that forever be my summer soundtrack and captures the spirit of Philly

Ok.  Discuss amongst yourselves.  Or agree or disagree in the comments.  There are no right or wrong answers.

See you at the next show!



  1. Philli definitely has some amazing music gems. Love each and everyone listed here!
    Great blog, cheers!

    1. Thank you Gita,

      I was just saying how hard it was to make this list. I tried to not make it too eclectic. I wanted it to represent the spirit on Philly too. I should do a follow up honorable mention list.


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