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Open City

by Open City

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"I know you’d like if we just sat silent / and never challenged your ideas," asserts Rachel Rubino in the opening moments of Open City, the eponymous debut by the Philadelphia four-piece, over a blast of hardcore dissonance. “So here's how we feel, here’s what we want, here’s what we need: to be heard!” Open City is a project embedded with histories — people, places, sounds, scenes. Bringing together collective decades of experience in East Coast punk and DIY communities, specifically ones known for prying open the melodic sides of punk rock, hardcore and post-punk, the project is: singer and lyricist Rachel Rubino (Bridge And Tunnel, Worriers), bassist Andy Nelson (Paint It Black, Ceremony, Dark Blue), guitarist Dan Yemin (Paint It Black, Lifetime, Kid Dynamite, Armalite), and drummer Chris Wilson (Ted Leo & the Pharmacists).

“Hell Hath No Fury” is the album’s opening track, an apt point of entry to Open City’s ten tracks of dynamic post-hardcore and Rubino’s wide-ranging vocals, which fluctuate from shouts and screams, to melodic hooks and the occasional deadpan. “I've personally never felt like I fit into the binary of what a woman should be or do,” Rubino says, reflecting on the song. “I feel a strong desire to disconnect gender from talents and actions. I constantly want to find new ways of challenging myself, and through that to challenge the stale ideas others have placed on us. I refuse to do so in silence. I believe in the individual’s right to govern themselves based on what they feel is right and true to their vision of a positive reality.”

A shared ideology is central to Open City. The project grew out of a mutual desire for a band that rehearsed continuously, coupled with an urgent need for something faster and more aggressive than some of its members had done before. Yemin, Nelson and Wilson spent a year carving out the band’s sonic framework, searching for a singer who spoke their common musical language, one inspired by 90s basements and commitment to DIY as an ongoing process. By the time they found Rubino, they’d already linked up with Will Yip at Studio 4 to record the instrumental tracks for the record, fueled by eagerness, frustration, and utter necessity. The result is an album that moves seamlessly, full of thoughtfulness and careful rage.

Open City draws direct inspiration from a specific period in underground punk. “The most exciting shows I’ve seen in my entire life have been in basements in New Jersey, Philadelphia and New York, during 1991 through the early 00s. Specifically Sarah Kirsch’s bands,” Yemin says, speaking of the prolific punk songwriter who played in 12 bands over 20 years, including John Henry West, Torches to Rome, Bread and Circuits, and Fuel. “Those bands were really inspiring in terms of how she did things, what the records sounded like and looked like, the interface between content and design, and presentation and process. Most recently Mothercountry Motherfuckers, the posthumous record that just came out, that was my favorite record of the past few years.” In the early 90s, Kirsch’s music left Yemin in awe: for its aggression, for its melody, the energy, the things said on stage between songs.

Open City weaves in and out of pointed themes: sexism, not staying silent, but also the hollowness of words in the face of inaction. The stakes are high. “I am tired / and you are right / we’ve given up the fight,” Rubino scowls on “Nerve Center”. “Trading my cards in for other efforts / find a place where I can be more effective / What a fucking joke!” It’s a song that stares you right in the eye and couldn’t be better timed. "All these words they don’t mean shit when all you do is yell at bricks," Rubino screams on a cut that rallies against inequality, “Brother I'm Getting Nowhere.”

These are songs about sleepless nights, the reality of endings, about feeling stuck, honing on a purpose; about fighting, and then not fighting. “There's an inherent anger at the systems of oppression and abuse that constantly diminish and destroy the efforts of folks who are fighting for a better world,” Rubio says. “There's a deep disappointment for a lack of support and care from individuals in my life and in my community who I expected more from. There's a heavy dose of self-analysis, in a range from self care to self-loathing. Finding hope in strange places. Mourning loss along a timeline you cannot control. Trying to understand it. Admitting that I can't. It exists in that tense place where frustration is fighting apathy.”

- Liz Pelly


released January 30, 2017

open city is dan yemin, chris wilson, rachel rubino, andy nelson.

recorded at studio 4 by will yip.
mastered at west west side by alan douches.
cover photo by larry towell.
back photo by brian kanagaki.
built by open city.

all songs by open city (c) + (p) 2017

thank you.


all rights reserved



Open City Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

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Track Name: Hell Hath No Fury
I bet you’d like it
if I just sat silent
and let you speak over me
hold your tongue and hear me say
“we’ve had enough”
hell hath no fury like a woman scorned? you’re goddamn right!
I don’t have the patience to tell you anymore
I shouldn’t have to tell a grown man how to act

why is this so hard to understand?
you look confused
I bet this is hard for you
you look confused

I bet you’d like it if we sat in silence
and never said anything
about how we feel, about what we want, about what we need

I bet you’d like it if I picked a fight with the biggest shadow on the wall
swinging my fists at the air
what do I have to do to get your attention?

I know you’d like if we just sat silent and never challenged your ideas
so here's how we feel, here’s what we want, here’s what we need: to be heard.
if our opinions are secondary, why are we such a threat to you?
Track Name: Whose God?
I never
we’d open 
this book with
such black hands
what happened?
we’re all reeling in the second birth

yeah, whose god gave you that gun?
point that thing somewhere else
point it at yourself

I never 
complained with
a dull knife
the plaintiff
is ready
for action
just now offer up this sacrifice

yeah, which bastard here called you his son?
we all know that you’re on the floor
whose god gave you that gun?
point that thing somewhere else
point it at yourself
Track Name: For Shame
do you come here often?
have I seen you around here before?
I think you look familiar
but when I turned around you were gone.

I can smell your stare coming down from a mile away
you don’t come early
but you always find a way to stay.

hey man, I got my eye on you
don’t you know we all do?
go right ahead
tell us all the things you know we want to hear
learn the language like business and fake the progress

hey man, I got my eye on you
but I bet you already know we all do
go on, go about your practice
writing little notes onto napkins
pass them down
on to the next.

do you know this man?
have you seen him around here before?
there’s a mark on his name
he's been trying to hide all along.

we all know what you did
commit him.
Track Name: Black Veils
there are things I can’t unsee
words that I can’t unread
I can feel you’re near, but I can’t find you
buried deep underneath
the back porch
the bed frame
the doormat
the windowpane
you never forgot where we hid hope

now nothing feels the same as I remember
nothing looks the same as it did before

would you like it if I came over?
and if I did could I lay beside you in mother’s bed?
and if I did what would it mean if I spent another night?
what would it mean?
would it be alright?

in effort to reclaim the part that I would play
I got the pages of your last note

now nothing feels the same as I remember
nothing looks the same as it did before

would you ignore the body?
would it be alright if we just slept?

in effort to reclaim the part that I would play
I never forgot where we came from.
Track Name: On The Spit
who left you there on the floor?
gasping for air through the smoke
who held the knife to your throat when
those bulls came rushing straight through the gate?

we know the end to all this is death 
but we’re still patting our boys on the back
pat ‘em on the back

who let you into the party?
we’re laying face down on the floor
you kicked down the door with your big boots
shattered the teeth of an old horse
Track Name: Brother, I'm Getting Nowhere
here we go again
running our mouths
run until the words run out

we’re tired of coming in second
we try but we don’t learn the lesson

fall again
how many times will we let “our friend”
kick us down
steal the crown
well, who anointed you?

holy son to rule this kingdom of shit 
holy son you rule us all
I never wanted to be like you
but to get ahead I better wear your skin
I’ll try it on

go ahead
tell it to the wall
we never had a chance at all
fighting it 
seems quite useless
when everyone’s trying to mind my business

I don’t care where you’re from
I just want to see what you’re made of
suck it up and spit it in my face
mind your position and join the race

holy son, I’ll be waiting in the back for my number to be called

all these words they don’t mean shit 
when all you do is yell at bricks
all these words they don’t mean shit
when all we do is yell at bricks
blah blah blah blah blah blah
I don’t care
I’ll see you there
Track Name: Nerve Center
fight fight fight
is all we do
yell about it, but never move

call in sick
call it quits
stay in bed and read instead

I am tired and you are right
we’ve given up the fight
trading my cards in for other efforts
find a place where I can
be more effective
what a fucking joke

all we do is speak the truth
try to say this another way
we have to choose

call in sick
or call it quits
what is this all worth?

beat me up
I’ve had enough
I know that you think I
won’t come through for you
maybe this time I fucking won’t?

you know I don’t think that we can change this
we can’t if we don’t try
I know you think that I can’t change this
I can’t if you don’t let me.
Track Name: Sofa Drugs
complicate or comply
if it suits you, well, I don’t mind
to dress in red, to lie in bed
with my forked tongue tied
I’m not asleep yet.

breaking every rule we set,
is this all we can fit in our hungry mouths?

she don’t care, well, I don’t mind
we’re filling up the pens to draw the lines
to call it quits? or write the script?
without which how would we know how to live?

everyone keeps acting like they know a secret
now pay attention to the words we say:
“this isn’t really about what we say”
it’s about what we do
it’s about what we say we want to
now our eyes are closed and
we’re following like faithful sheep

buy it for us
so we can accept your generosity 
graciously on our knees

apparently I haven’t said enough
I know you’ve already heard it all

buy it for us
our head in your hands 
when we’re sedate enough
pour the gas, light the match and get out of here.
Track Name: Honest As A Sunday Morning
I've felt a false sense of assurance in these lights
through all my sleepless nights
I’ve been placing self-interest over self worth
and I’m not really ready to hear what you have to say
but I want you to say it,
say it to me anyway.

please look me in the eye
what good will I find
when you tell me I’m fucking this up again and again and again
and I’m trying to change these patterns of behavior
or am I?

please tell me that I’m wrong 
but sometimes it’s easier to stay sick
than deal my your own shit
but I want to be better for you


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