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Philadelphia-based East Hundred play melodic pop/rock with layers of guitars and synths, a sound that fits somewhere near that of Death Cab for Cutie if the Cardigans' Nina Persson were handling the singing. The group began as a trio in 2004 when brothers Brooke and Will Blair (guitars and drums, respectively) asked Brooke's girlfriend at the time, Drexel University film student Beril Guceri -- who had previously asked the brothers to score a film project of hers -- to sing on some tracks they'd laid down. She agreed, and East Hundred formally began, taking their name from a small piece of land owned by the Blairs' grandparents in rural Virginia. It was more of a basement recording project than a live band at first, but as Guceri got over her terrible stage fright, they started to play shows. A few rough demos eventually became the group's first EPs: a self-titled one released in April 2005 and another, Copper Street Performer, was issued in 2007. The band began touring, and two close friends -- keyboardist Susan Gager and bassist David Sunderland (who had actually moved to Philly with Brooke and Will before East Hundred formed) -- came on board along the way to flesh out their live sound; both wound up staying on full-time and cemented East Hundred as a quintet. In 2007, the group started sessions for its next album, but it wasn't long after that Guceri and Brooke's romantic relationship fizzled, officially making things awkward. But instead of stopping the group in its tracks, the unease and hurt feelings were used to write more new material, and soon the breakup had fueled enough songs for a full album instead of the originally planned EP. After East Hundred won the annual Philly Sound Clash battle of the bands in 2008, the resulting album, Passenger, appeared in January 2009. ~ Corey Apar