West Philadelphia musician Frances Quinlan, 26, began playing guitar and writing songs when she was 14 years old. While in college, in Maryland, she started a solo project called Hop Along, Queen Ansleis. After graduation, she returned to Philadelphia and, with her brother, the drummer Mark Quinlan, decided to drop "Queen Ansleis" from the title and eventually recruited Fishtown bassist Tyler Long.
The current incarnation of Hop Along spent the next two years working on a debut album, "Get Disowned," which was released last month on the local record label Hot Green. This Friday, they celebrate the album with a hometown concert at First Unitarian Church, their first performance of the new year.
"We wanted to capture a very raw sound," Frances says about the 10-song album. "I love making the acoustic guitar sound like it has filthy strings, and we just really wanted it to sound alive."
Songs like "Some Grace" and "No Good Al Joad," which showcase the band's gritty side and its penchant for melodic, power-pop songwriting, show Hop Along accomplishing this goal. But, Frances' uniquely unpredictable voice, which always sounds as if it's about to derail, is the star of the album. Her singing is especially potent on "Tibetan Pop Stars," where her voice explodes atop a heavily distorted, and irresistible, electric guitar riff.
"A record is like a moment in your life when everything makes sense," says Frances, "and then later you reflect and realize where you were. Most of these songs are about trying to find a place in the world -- it's about wanting to separate yourself from who you were and to start fresh, but also realizing the impossibility of doing that."