Over four to five albums, Manchester Orchestra, led by Andy Hull, has continued to hone their sound and vision, existing somewhere between indie rock experimentation, arena rock magnitude, and the catharsis-laden chorus chanting of alternative rock. I hate to boil any artistic group’s output into such easy genre boxes, but it does help us as a reference point for the band’s latest two albums Cope and Hope, both released in 2014. I wrote over “four to five albums” because Cope and Hope are essentially two takes at the same set of songs, albeit coming at them from different directions. Cope is a “turn the knob to 11” type deal – anxious verses leading to big payoff choruses, unrelenting power, and lots of muted guitar strumming. Hope amplifies the emotion and moodiness at the cost of overall loudness and force. Hope is the twilight to Cope‘s daylight – dark, transient, and elusive. Hope is not quite a “stripped down” album, an afterthought appendix to Cope; Hope can stand on its own and it certainly showcases the range that Manchester Orchestra is capable of achieving. Listening back-to-back, it’s a real trip to hear what the band was thinking of bringing out to the forefront in the reinterpreted version. It’s great to hear that even at the larger rock-and-roll scale that Manchester Orchestra is at these days, they are still enthusiastic about experimenting with their own sound.
At the end of 2014, Manchester Orchestra touring through Philly in Hope configuration, treated us to an intimate set. We share those recordings with you today, so enjoy!