Worth an Ear: Northern Arms

By Maggie Serota 08/14/14

Spotlight on... Northern Arms

So far, we’ve profiled artists that have had long and established careers. However, now we’re going to take a look at a new and exciting band out of Philadelphia that you should definitely keep an eye on. 

Northern Arms is a 10-piece band helmed by singer and songwriter Keith Richard Pierce. According to a recent City Paper profile, Pierce met musical partner Eric Bandel about 14 years ago when they were both surprised to learn that they were dating the same woman. Under any other circumstances. this might be the start of a bitter rivalry, but instead Bandel became intrigued by Pierce’s songwriting and the two became fast friends. Although they tried to collaborate musically, their self-destructive tendencies got in the way of getting a band off the ground. However, both men eventually got sober and found themselves back in Philly ready to make a real go at putting together a band. 

Drawing in part of Pierce’s love of old church hymns, the pair assembled a 10-piece band that incorporates their love of gospel, blues and Americana.  With the throaty nods to Nick Cave and the haunting and ominous organs, the result is hauntingly dark, lush and delightfully weird. 

Philadelphia Magazine has already named Northern Arms the city’s “most compelling band” and it’s only a matter of time before the rest of the world catches on.  The band released a self-titled debut that can be purchased here. 

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Maggie Serota is a staff writer at Spin. She has contributed to Glamour, NBC News, Esquire, Rolling Stone,BuzzFeed, and many other publications and outlets.  You can find Maggie on Linkedin or follow her on Twitter.