Have Some Free Energy

It was hardly a revelation that Paul Sprangers was weaned on such ‘90s alt-rock heroes as Guided By Voices and Pavement.        The Free Energy vocalist’s music screams just that. The Philadelphia based band’s debut disc,  ‘Stuck on Nothing’ is filled with quirky, anthemic pop-rock, which recalls GVB auteur Robert Pollard’s finest, drunken moments.      The band’s guitar riffs are huge, the grooves are deep and the lyrics are often inscrutable. Spranger sings the hook-laden tunes in a laconic manner, which recalls Pavement’s Stephen Malkmus, the reluctant rock star of the early Clinton era.        “The music explosion of that period had a huge impact on me,” Sprangers said. “It just spoke to me and many others. I love Guided By Voices’ ‘Alien Lanes’ and ‘Under the Bushes, Under the Stars.’ Those albums are classics. I love the Pavement albums. It’s brilliant pop music.”       Free Energy’s initial blast of power-pop  is bending ears. Three-weeks ago the band played a jammed in-store at Manayunk’s Main Street Music. Fans jostled for position inside the cozy record shop.        “It was an awesome time,” Sprangers said. “People really turned out and were so enthusiastic. We couldn’t ask for anything more than that. It was a total blast.”       A healthy crowd should be on hand to catch the spirited act when it performs Friday at the First Unitarian Church.       Sprangers, formerly of the indie band Hockey Nights, feels funny calling it a home town show, since he arrived in the City of Brotherly Love just two-years ago from Minnesota along with guitarist Scott Wells.       “ (Free Energy Guitarist) Geoff (Bucknam) was living in Philly and Scott and I were in New York working on our (Free Energy) album. Geoff liked Philly and we tried it on a whim and really enjoy Philadelphia. We make it clear that we’re not from Philadelphia but we are proud to say that we live there.”        The group, which resides in the Fishtown section,  which has become a haven for musicians, is on the road so often that it doesn’t associate much with any city.       “We’re out so much that it doesn’t really matter connecting to a particular city,” Sprangers said. “But when we come back to Philly for that show, I’m sure it’ll be filled with a lot of the friends we made over the last two years.”       Expect the band to play all of ‘Stuck on Nothing’ plus play a new song or two. “We’re working on stuff for the next album,’ Sprangers said. “We have a lot of new material. It’s really melodic and really catchy but I think that describes what’s on (‘Stuck On Nothing). But there’s some new flavors and accents with the new songs. You’ll have to hear it to understand what I’m talking about. We’re not doing much of the new stuff now but you’ll hear it all soon enough. We’re still having fun with ‘Stuck on Nothing.’

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