2nd Grade: Hit to Hit | Review

2nd Grade: Hit to Hit | Review

The music video for “Velodrome”—a breezy indie power-pop cut off 2nd Grade’s second record Hit to Hit—features the band dressed up in character as a beatnik, a flower child, a home baker, a cowboy, and a bubble bather. Each is rendered as both earnest and comically archetypal—the beat poet, for example, plays the drums in tiny sunglasses and a French beret, in front of a copy of Infinite Jest, while never once breaking into winking self-awareness. Those discrete sketches of slightly askew tropes provide an apt visual guide to Hit to Hit, a record that often feels like a series of creative writing assignments illuminated by compact pop hooks. Led by guitarist and vocalist Peter Gill, 2nd Grade is the product of Philadelphia’s thriving DIY scene, a supergroup of sorts for fans of West Philly house shows. Catherine Dwyer and Jack Washburn of the cult punk group Remember Sports provide guitar and bass, respectively; guitarist and vocalist Jon Samuels collaborated with Gill on the folk-country act Friendship; Gill previously played guitar in the now-defunct indie pop act Free Cake for Every Creature. There’s even a vocal credit from Carmen Perry of Remember Sports’ two-year-old brother. Gill’s new venture takes bits and pieces from each of those acts—the childlike wonder of Free Cake’s songwriting, the melodies of Remember Sports, the Americana of Friendship—and rids itself of any context or pretense. Instead, each song on the record exists with its own internal logic, homing in on a ...
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