Philadelphia indie rock band Hop Along released new music; gets ready for hometown show

Hop Along
Hop Along PHOTO BY TONJE THILESEN

Fronted by the emotionally earnest, and sometimes-raspy, powerhouse belter Frances Quinlan, the Philly band Hop Along have sold out a May 19 hometown show at Union Transfer.

“It’s a great space. I love that place. This is the first time we’ve been on tour with a fifth member,” Quinlan said in a phone interview.

Touring to support their third full-length album, “Bark Your Head Off, Dog” (their fourth, if you count the 2005 album they made under the name Hop Along Queen Ansleis), they’re rotating all nine of the release’s songs into their current live sets, amid “older songs we haven’t done in a while.”

“Bark Your Head Off, Dog” addresses disappointment, particularly in man’s misuse of power, and relates attempts to retreat from the lengthening shadows of tyrants, both historical and everyday. It considers what it’s like to cast off long-held and misguided perceptions, yet without the assurance of knowing what new ones will replace them. Quinlan seeks in real time to work through these issues.

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Quinlan, who has lived in Philadelphia 10 years, started out as a solo performer while a student at Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore, eventually putting together a band that features her brother, Mark, on drums.

“Working with someone who’s known you your whole life, that can only enrich you, and create a wild dynamic at times,” said Quinlan, who used to emulate Ani DiFranco, Conor Oberst, Joanna Newsom and Jeff Mangum (Neutral Milk Hotel) when she was in junior high school.

Her brother played a hand in writing the Hop Along fan-favorite song, “Tibetan Pop Stars.” “Mark was working on this beat in the basement at the same time I was trying to come up with the music. I wrote the lyrics to that when I was 23, I think, or 24. A friend of mine went away to India. She and I were writing back and forth. At the time I was hung up on this mess of a guy. She was trying to give me advice from thousands of mile away,” Quinlan said.