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Indie Rock Hit Parade Live Session: The Mattson 2

The Mattson 2 | Photo by Eric Schuman for WXPN

We’re joined for this Indie Rock Hit Parade Live Session by a pair of identical twin brothers who made their IRHP debut just over one year ago.
The Mattson 2, featuring guitarist Jared and drummer Jonathan, joined us last spring along with Toro Y Moi’s Chaz Bear, for an in-studio performance of songs from their 2017 collaboration, Star Stuff. Flash forward and the Mattsons are back out on the road, this time on their own. Bringing peerless instrumental chops and omnivorous musical influences and inspirations, The Mattson 2 stopped by before their sold out show with Khruangbin at Underground Arts for this session. Despite the overflow of sounds, I can assure you that there are just two people performing!

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The High Key Portrait Series: Stan Davis

Stan Davis | photo by Josh Pelta-Heller for WXPN

High Key” is a series of profiles conceived with the intent to tell the story of Philly’s diverse musical legacy by spotlighting individual artists in portrait photography, as well as with an interview focusing on the artist’s experience living, creating, and performing in this city. “High Key” will be featured in biweekly installments, as the series seeks to spotlight artists both individually and within the context of his or her respective group or artistic collective.

For almost 20 years now, musician Stan Davis has toured with artists at every level of stardom, from local to international, and put down bass tracks on almost every stage across Philly. He’s proficient with several other instruments as well, and the versatility has afforded him the opportunity to play with diverse musicians in genres from jazz to hip hop to gospel.

Having established himself on both his musical talents and sweat equity, Davis has earned the right to be able to advise — which, from his perspective, is most important. In this interview, Davis reflectively returns several times stress to the importance of work ethic for young musicians looking to build a name for themselves in the music industry. At the same time, he looks back, through memories and stories — from his time studying music at Central High to being prepped for a show by Lauryn Hill — on the colorful career in the musical arts that he’s grateful to have.

This year, Davis is active as ever — he’s done shows with national R&B artists Syleena Johnson, Vivian Green, and Tia McNeil, and worked on Tia’s debut album, due out soon. He’s also in the process of completing his own album, and expects to have some news to share about it soon. Continue reading →

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As the Crow Flies, it lands in Philadelphia

As The Crow Flies | photo by Tom Beck for WXPN

On Wednesday night at the Electric Factory, former Black Crowes frontman Chris Robinson took to the stage with five other musicians, including former Crowes keyboardist Adam MacDougall, guitarist Audley Freed and bassist Andy Hess. The other two were 22-year-old guitar phenom Marcus King and drummer Tony Leone, who played drums in Robinson’s post-Crowes band, The Chris Robinson Brotherhood. Together, this band of musicians refer to themselves as As The Crow Flies – a perfect name for a Black Crowes cover band, which is essentially what they are. The band is the brainchild of Robinson, who decided that it was time to start performing Black Crowes songs again for the first time in more than four years. Unfortunately, some bad blood between many of the former Black Crowes members – including Chris Robinson and his brother Rich Robinson – meant that a true Black Crowes reunion was not in the cards. So Robinson did the next best thing, he started a cover band and called it something vaguely similar. Continue reading →

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the innocence mission returns with the dreamy and emotive “Green Bus” from new album Sun on the Square

The Innocence Mission
The Innocence Mission | photo courtesy of the artist

Lancaster folk trio the innocence mission have made a lot of music in the project’s three-plus decades duration. And still, even after all these years, each new release feels freshly crafted in its own unique way. The innocence mission will return with a new album this summer, Sun on the Square, their 11th full-length and first since 2015’s hello I feel the same.

The forthcoming record’s first single, “Green Bus,” is making us eagerly anticipate innocence mission’s return. It’s a song soft enough to require that the volume be turned all the way up, and it walks the line between soothing, lulling quietness and compelling, attention-grabbing sonic twists. With haunting, whispering vocals, Karen Peris draws the listener in as if she’s sharing a secret to only her deepest confidantes. Combined with her lilting, fingerpicked guitar and joined by singer/guitarist Don Peris and upright bassist Mike Bitts, it’s clear that the innocence mission is back in full dreamy and emotive swing. Continue reading →

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Listen to #XPNFest artist Tank and the Bangas’ new single “Smoke.Netflix.Chill.”

Tank and the Bangas | photo by Gus Bennett | courtesy of the artist

It’s hard to believe it’s only been a year since Tank and the Bangas appeared on our radar as the winners of NPR Music’s 2017 Tiny Desk Contest. There’s a reason the New Orleans-based group stood out among the annual contest’s six thousand other entries and made their way into the winning slot. Their energy is infectious, and we’re about to hear a whole lot more of it. Continue reading →

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Romaplasmic Rumblings from Baths’ Will Wiesenfeld

Baths
Baths | photo by Mario Luna | courtesy of the artist

As Baths, Will Wiesenfeld has a rare gift for making the fantastic feel smaller, more intimate, and vice versa. Over the course of three records and various singles, he has built a subtle but instantly distinct world where emotional epiphanies will seem to appear out of nowhere from networks of beats and ambient sounds that move and mutate around each other with an impressive fluidity. This is no small feat, particularly considering the specifically queer bent those epiphanies take on record while also feeling universal.

His latest album, 2017’s Romaplasm, offers the most vivid and welcoming tour of his world yet. He’ll be opening that world on stage tonight at The Foundry here in Philadelphia. I caught up with Will while he was on the road to talk about the artistic influences and evolution that went into making his most accessible statement to date while staying true to his interests… Continue reading →

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Trouble Every Day: 25 years since his passing, Frank Zappa is all over Philadelphia in April

Frank Zappa’s Philly ’76 LP cover | via Amazon

There are so many Frank Zappas to consider that it’s often a struggle to focus on which one to pinpoint. Is he the man who lovingly crafted intricate and tender guitar solos from “Black Napkins” to “Inca Roads”?

Or the silly ribald humorist of “Titties and Beer” or “Bwana Dik”?

Or the high-minded composer behind “Lumpy Gravy” or “Orchestral Favorites”?

Or the psychedelic rocker and jazz-bo of “Freak Out” and “Hot Rats”?

What one can focus on, twenty five years after his death, is that innovative guitarist / composer / socio-political satirist / free expression activist Zappa is more crucial than ever (especially when you consider that the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Famer will soon get his own hologram treatment) and by, all accounts is having a busy spring by Philadelphia standards. Continue reading →

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Folkadelphia Session: Roger Harvey

For someone coming from the world of amped-up punk rock,  Roger Harvey‘s music is decidedly low-key and reflective.

The singer-songwriter relocated to Philly from Pittsburgh about three years ago, following stints touring with Against Me!, Dads and The Menzingers. His debut LP, Twelve Houses, was released that October, and it set introspective lyrics to lush acoustic arrangements in the vein of Neutral Milk Hotel and Death Cab for Cutie, with his haunting and tremulous vocal taking center stage.

Almost two years later, Harvey returned with a more outer-directed perspective on the Two Coyotes LP. This time, rather than personal ruminations, he tackles bigger-picture issues; immigration is unpacked in the title track, which tells a story of love across borders, while superconnected isolation is the focus of “Love In The Digital Age.” You can hear anger and frustration, albeit in a subdued manner, on “Gold,” which opens his studio session this week — when he sings “fuck the foundation, we’re in control,” it’s one of the prettiest punk rock moments we’ve captured in the studio. Continue reading →

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Courtney Barnett unpacks ideas of home in her new single “City Looks Pretty”

Courtney Barnett
Courtney Barnett | photo by Pooneh Ghana | courtesy of the artist

The forthcoming Courtney Barnett album (just four weeks away!) is steadily shaping up to be pretty incredible. We’ve heard two singles, “Nameless, Faceless” and “Need A Little Time,” and now Barnett has a third. Called “City Looks Pretty,” it’s a soft and catchy, starting off fast-paced and frantic, and slowing down to a calming lull midway through. It’s also a bracingly honest exploration of how we define home, and how relationships can be strained when you’re not always present in one place. Continue reading →