Northern Liberties is…
Justin Duerr – Vocals and Percussion
Marc Duerr – Drumset
Kevin Riley – Bass
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Northern Liberties are a three piece band consisting of drums, percussion, bass, and voices. Northern Liberties formed deep underground in the year 2000 as an outgrowth the West Philadelphia basement band scene. Brothers Justin and Marc Duerr, on percussion/vocals and drums, respectively, joined long-time friend Kevin with the idea of forming a band. The unusual instrumentation was a result of the three deciding to work with what and whom they were most comfortable with rather than bringing in other musicians – thus a new and idiosyncratic sound was forged, more out of practicality than any desire to be deliberately offbeat. Northern Liberties receive their music from an unnameable/indescribable dimension, which, while being impossible to accurately describe using any language including music, is most clearly shown in rough outline by the occult practice of musical realization.
Northern Liberties have been called “a stage presence that is unparalleled” (WUVT FM blog) “As strong, as menacing, and as idiosyncratic as ever” (Wonkavision), “For fans of underground social change music” (Hussieskunk.com), “Definitely heavy, thoroughly metal” (Punk Planet), “Raw, artistic expression in the vein of No Means No or Shellac” (Lowcut zine), “One of the more intriguing bands I’ve heard in a while” (Aidabet.com) “Somewhere between the dissonant riff-heavy freakouts of Lightning Bolt, sullen Cure/Joy Division gloom, melodic hardcore marches, and spacey, psychedelic angular avant-punk that touches on USAISAMONSTER, folk, and cosmic effects tripouts, bound together with bizarre feverdream lyrics and really cool zoned out vocals” (Crucialblast.net), “A bit Joy Division, with part Fugazi and an added touch of heaviness” (Slug And Lettuce), and “Something obtuse and beautiful” by the Philadelphia City Paper. The Philadelphia Weekly has observed that “Northern Liberties take their percussive, provocative noise-punk to the lunatic fringe”, and it has been written on the WKDU blog that “Each encounter with this band (and once again the live shows especially) is like a baptism in fire, blood, & electricity, and every time I reemerge I’m still convinced that the world is a dark & scary place, but I also have a renewed hope that there still is something resembling magic in this world”…
Christened ‘ghost punk’ by a friends child, Northern Liberties music can be seen as a wraithlike spectral branch of the ‘rock’ and ‘punk’ subcategories of music. While the sound is relatively uptempo and (usually) follows what have become traditional verse/chorus/verse patterns, there is an underlying apparitional weirdness at work, which hopefully can serve to activate the coming ‘ghost punk involution’. The so-called ghost punk involution is an internal revolution designed to break the spell of the misery of terror/hatred which has hypnotized much of the world. This aforementioned segment of the world is in a slumber until it is awakened to the gnosis of union with the song which demonstrates a way (appearing differently to every beholder/listener) to break this spell.
Since forming in 2000, Northern Liberties have slowly and steadily moved in a non-linear direction, exploring and experiencing their collective music and sharing it with others if and when possible. While having no clear ‘game plan’ other than to participate in the phenomenon of music, Northern Liberties have successfully completed three tours of the USA, as well as recording five full length albums and three 7 inches, one a split with Boston’s Bugs And Rats, and another split with Philly’s Lesser Known Neutrinos. Northern Liberties have shared shows with Mike Watt & The Secondmen, Lungfish, The Slits, Monotonix, The Skull Defekts, The Notekillers, Dysrhythmia, Stinking Lizaveta, The Low Budgets, Bunnydrums, Shellshag, Pre and countless other bands in their eleven year sojourn on the planet Earth.
At the time of this writing (Aug. 2011) Northern Liberties are somewhat dormant, though not completely inactive, due to family obligations and life circumstances. Nevertheless, 2011 has seen the conception, recording, and birth of Northern Liberties fifth full-length recording “Glowing Brain Garden.” The record was self-funded, self-recorded, and self-releases in a limited run of 300 copies on various colors of vinyl, and features a group of the songs that slowly, slowly gestated over the course of four years. Thematically the album covers the ground of memory and introspection, while simultaneously being more musically far-out and far-reaching than ever. The band plans to sporadically appear and then disappear, for reasons known only to those closest to the music, as long as the music can still communicate its instructions to them. They extend an inviting hand to all who wish to share in the process.