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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Cheeky at Johnny Brenda’s, Brutal Measures at PhilaMOCA

Cheeky | photo via chheeky.bandcamp.com

After slaying The Key’s Philly Music Showcase with Ivy Sole and APHRA a couple months back, ambient electro-pop artist Cheeky will be wrapping her gauzy sounds around Johnny Brenda’s tonight. Listen to her ethereal new track, “mon cheri” below, then check out more details on the show at the XPN Concert Calendar. Continue reading →

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: The Healing at Johnny Brenda’s, Sunwatchers at Jerry’s On Front, Crash Course in Science at Underground Arts

Chill Moody | photo by Reji B. | courtesy of the artist | www.rejibphotography.com
Chill Moody | photo by Reji B. | courtesy of the artist | www.rejibphotography.com

Come by Johnny Brenda’s tonight for a live music & spoken word event titled The Healing. Featuring an abundance of artists, from Chill Moody, Killiam Shakespeare, Jacqueline Constance, and a ton more, it’s going to be a great night of tunes. And it’s for a great cause, as proceeds from the night will benefit families in the Caribbean for hurricane relief aid. Find more info on the show over at the XPN Concert Calendar. Continue reading →

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Indie Rock Hit Parade Live Session: Weaves

Weaves | Photo by Katie Tapman for WXPN

Joining us for our latest Indie Rock Hit Parade Live Session is the Toronto-based band Weaves. Formed in 2012 by singer Jasmyn Burke and guitarist Morgan Waters, Weaves also features bassist Zach Bines and drummer Spencer Cole. The group released their second album, Wide Open, earlier this year on Kanine Records, and stopped by our studio before their show at the Boot & Saddle to perform some of the new songs live.

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Japanese Breakfast brings home Soft Sounds to a sold-out First Unitarian Church

Japanese Breakfast at the First Unitarian Church | photo by Scott Troyan | courtesy of the artist

It was a triumphant night for Japanese Breakfast at the First Unitarian Church. Not only was it the band’s homecoming show after an extensive US tour and the long-awaited hometown celebration of the release of Soft Sounds From Another Planet, but JBrekkie sold the dang place out. Bandleader Michelle Zauner expressed disbelief at the size and enthusiasm of the crowd, reminiscing on her days as an R5 Productions intern when she was the one mopping the church basement floor after shows. No mopping was in store for Zauner last night, though — after opening sets by fellow locals The Spirit of the Beehive and Mannequin Pussy, Japanese Breakfast took over the church’s iconic stage for a energy-filled hour-long set of favorites off of 2016’s Psychopomp and 2017’s Soft Sounds. Continue reading →

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Free at Noon Flashback: First Aid Kit debuts powerful new material at World Cafe Live

First Aid Kit | photos by Liz Waldie for WXPN

It’s been far too long since the sweet sounds of Swedish folk duo First Aid Kit were heard live in Philadelphia. The band — led by sisters Klara and Johanna Söderberg — celebrated the release of their last album Stay Gold with a Union Transfer show in 2014, and shortly after their dazzling 2015 XPN Fest appearance, announced they’d be taking a break before working on new material.

That break ended a few weeks ago, when First Aid Kit let their new single “It’s a Shame” out into the world. With a forthcoming LP yet to be announced, the sisters have been making a few stops around the US to share some of their new material, and lucky for us they found time to stop by World Cafe Live this afternoon for a sold out Free at Noon concert.

First Aid Kit’s eight-song set was a carefully curated mix of old favorites and previews of what the new album will bring. The timeless, Americana-inspired anthem “It’s a Shame” has been floating around the XPN airwaves quite a bit recently, so the packed World Cafe crowd was right at home when the band opened with the new song. The Söderberg sisters then took us back to the warm and inviting sounds of Stay Gold with that album’s soft and shimmering title track, leading the audience in clapping along, before launching into the not-yet-released “Postcard,” a delicate ballad with a classic country sound that showcases the duo’s signature sibling harmonies. Continue reading →

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Waxahatchee teamed up with Kevin Morby to record a Velvet Underground cover

Waxahatchee | photo by Cameron Pollack for WXPN

In between a crazy months-long tour that took Waxahatchee across the US and Europe this year, and with a fall tour that kicks off in just a few weeks, Katie Crutchfield found time to record a cover of The Velvet Underground’s “After Hours.” Crutchfield is joined by singer-songwriter Kevin Morby on the recording; the duo toured together last spring.

“After Hours” appeared on The Velvet Underground’s 1969 self-titled album. Crutchfield posted the home-recorded cover on her Tumblr, and tweeted, “the world is a dark place. here’s a cover of ‘after hours’.” Listen here. The Waxahatchee bandleader’s familiar voice takes center stage on the stripped-down version, and Morby chimes in to sing a verse. Continue reading →

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Watch The Roots play with The Dallas POPS Orchestra for their Night of Symphonic Hip Hop

The Roots and Pharrell at The Roots Picnic | Photo by John Vettese for WXPN

The Roots gave a performance unlike anything they’ve ever done when they took the stage with The Dallas POPS Orchestra — and guests like keyboardist Erykah Badu, Robert Glasper, Chaka Kahn and more –  to celebrate their Night of Symphonic Hip Hop concert at the Music Factory, and it was absolutely unreal. There were so many levels added to fan-favorite Roots songs with the help of a symphony to back them up, and this powerhouse band held nothing back. It was an enigmatic collaboration that we didn’t even know we needed. Watch the performance below. Continue reading →

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Mitski transforms Billie Holiday’s “I’m a Fool to Want You” for Planned Parenthood

Mitski | photo by Ebru Yildiz | courtesy of the artist

Mitski | photo by Ebru Yildiz | courtesy of the artistMitski‘s rendition of Billie Holiday’s “I’m a Fool to Want You” is one of many exclusive cuts featured on the new benefit album 7 Inches for Planned Parenthood; it is transformative, ethereal and sounds all sorts of vintage. The cover sounds like it could be the 1951 track with its slow tempo and melancholic vocals, but Mitski also channels Holiday’s original intention of a classically sad love song into her modern synthesized soundscape. It’s ethereal, heavy and one of the coolest songs on the album. Continue reading →

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Invention and Rediscovery: Crash Course in Science continues breaking barriers on Situational Awareness

Crash Course in Science | photo by David Uzzardi | via facebook.com/Crash-Course-in-Science-177747285586892

Crash Course In Science is truly a legendary Philadelphia band. But until a few years ago they only existed as the stuff of lore, their minimal post-punk electronic music, characterized by the strange tones of toy instruments and homemade synths, almost entirely forgotten. There was the show opening for Phillip Glass in 1980. The great “Cardboard Lamb” and “Glamour Pills” videos. The Signals From Pier Thirteen and the Cakes in the Home EPs, both club classics. An album, 1981’s Near Marineland, recorded but never released.

Their songs were fun and very futuristic, both in tone and also in the way the band manipulated sound. Listening to tracks that were recorded close to four decades ago, you’d be hard pressed to find anything that sounds dated or stale.

In 2009 Vinyl On Demand released a box set of everything up until that point, including Near Marineland, live recordings, demos, and rehearsal tapes. And the band got back together, in theory just to play occasional shows both in Philadelphia and elsewhere, including Europe where they had always remained quite popular. The fantastic electronic label Dark Entries put out a reissue of the Signals From Pier Thirteen 12” last year and there were a couple tracks on Minimal Wave compilations but otherwise the band was silent on the releasing music front, seemingly content with just playing live.

That changed earlier this year when they announced Situational Awareness, an album of all new songs on Dutch label Electronic Emergencies. Situational Awareness is very fun and catchy while maintaining that experimental, DIY spirit that has always characterized the band. Which is to say: it’s very much a Crash Course In Science album. The Key caught up with Michael Zodorozny from the band a few days prior to their record release show at Underground Arts. Continue reading →

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Listen to Questlove chat with Philly music icon James Mtume in his Questlove Supreme podcast

A post shared by Questlove Gomez (@questlove) on


For the last year, Roots drummer and musical history buff, Questlove, has been presenting his podcast Questlove Supreme on Pandora. The weekly show features musical legends telling their stories about the industry and creative process. For the past two weeks, QLS has featured South Philadelphia-born multi-instrumentalist and producer James Mtume.

Two episodes are not nearly enough to cover his eventful life and career but the Questlove Supreme team do their best to get it all in. Philly native Mtume was first known for being Miles Davis’ percussionist during his more experimental years in the mid-70s. He then began working with fellow Davis sideman Reggie Lucas on more conventional music and the two wrote “The Closer I Get To You,” for Roberta Flack and Donny Hathaway. Despite doubts by Flack’s label, the song was not only included on her 1977 album Blue Lights in the Basement, but it became a huge hit single. Continue reading →