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Jesse Barki of The Mellowells releases solo album Age Of Unknown Callers

Jesse Barki | courtesy of the artist

The Mellowells have had a quiet year, but that’s given the band’s members some time to work on their solo efforts. While the Lancaster-based quartet is known for its upbeat indie pop sound, on his new solo album Age Of Unknown Callers, vocalist/guitarist Jesse Barki goes in a different direction, pairing his classic folk singer vocals with just an acoustic guitar for a stripped-down sound that allows emphasis to fall on messages he packs into his lyrics.

Age Of Unknown Callers is outward-facing, socially minded LP, exploring more fully the themes Barki introduced in his 2017 Lightning Coma solo EP. According to Barki, the new album is “about how the world we live in today creates paranoia and anxiety in people’s lives through social expectations and attempts to face this problem and swallow the fears we have of not conforming to those expectations.” Continue reading →

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Free at Noon Flashback: Phosphorescent lives up to their name at World Cafe Live

Phosphorescent at WXPN’s Free At Noon Concert | photo by Taylor Johnson for WXPN

Merriam Webster dictionary defines phosphorescence as “luminescence that is caused by the absorption of radiations (such as light or electrons) and continues for a noticeable time after these radiations have stopped.” Minus the more science-y parts of that, one can only assume that Phosphorescent is going for a similar vibe with their music. Though the hazy glow that envelops the band during their live set is technically thanks to the lighting crew, their soft and airy songs are lush and drawn-out, winding on and on in a way that breathes life into their mouthful of a name. Continue reading →

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Weezer takes on the extravagant Met Philly with a nonstop hit-parade

Weezer | photo by Rachel Barrish for WXPN

On Wednesday night, Los Angeles rockers Weezer landed on North Broad Street to perform at the newly opened Met Philly. The four-piece group dropped in on tour in advance of their upcoming album, the black album coming in March 2019.

Weezer has always been the band in the back of your mind that you think of as an eclectic cornucopia of genres — rock ’n roll, surf rock, alternative, pop, but always leaning on the indie rocker vibes. Their songs have resonated with so many since the mid ’90’s self-titled (blue) album came out. Many of those classics were also played in the grand room at The Met. Already a unique venue to see a “legacy alternative rock” band, and having just held its opening night concert with Bob Dylan the week before, it was actually the perfect space for this performance. Because many Weezer fans have been intimately listening to the band since they were teenagers, the large-scale, extravagant venue felt like a better fit than a Frankford Hall or Fillmore. Continue reading →

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20 albums you shouldn’t overlook in 2018

Some of our unsung favorite albums of 2018

Fun fact: in a total coincidence of timing, The Key released our best albums of the year list on the same morning that NPR Music, The Guardian, and Paste rolled out their respective lists. Most other major and minor music publications followed suit in the week that followed, social media was aflurry with immense list excitement as much as total list fatigue.

The best hot take I saw in the fray came from Boston journalist Nina Corcoran (a writer for NPR Music, and Pitchfork, among others), who simply Tweeted: “The 50 Best Albums of 2018 That Didn’t Have a PR Machine Churning Behind Them.”

It’s frustrating, but true. It’s daunting when you’re reading about mostly the same albums in a slightly different order, and it begs some consideration. Like I’ve said in the past: while there is power in consensus, how does that consensus get there? Through mass recognition, through large teams of music journalists with widely eclectic tastes finding 15 or 50 or 500 albums (seriously tho, I’d love to see a top 500 list in haiku form) that they can all agree are great. And that happens when artists and their labels have the resources to seriously and steadily push those records to said journalists.

So what’s to become of a release by Philly rapper Ivy Sole, who self-released and self-promoted her outstanding 2018 outing Overgrown? Or one by Columbus psych/folk/punk collective Saintseneca, which did have label support on their beautiful Pillar of Na, easily the best record of their career, but the “campaign” behind it was limited?

My favorite lists, by comparison, are like the one you’re about to read — not driven by consensus, not presented in a ranked order. Not fostering a frustrating sense of competitiveness in an already-frustrating music scene. One that merely collects records that our team is tremendously excited about, and thinks you should make a point to spend some time with. Continue reading →

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Hemming’s Candice Martello talks touring lessons, self-discovery, and the Philly community on 25 O’ Clock

Hemming | photo by John Vettese for WXPN

Phillys Candice Martello brought her project Hemming back to the Philly stage this fall for the first time in six months, collaborating on a Roger Harvey Family show in October and playing a knockout set at the House Key Showcase at Underground Arts in November. Following that gig, Martello caught up with Dan Drago of the 25 O’Clock Podcast, and their conversation is on this week’s episode of the show.
Continue reading →

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Laser Background covers “Strange Eyes” for Magnetic Fields tribute to benefit No More Dysphoria

Laser Background | photo by Koof Ibi Umoren

A new benefit compilation, You Can Sing Me Anything: A Tribute to 69 Love Songs, will pay tribute to the classic Magnetic Fields album in honor of its 20th anniversary while also raising money for a good cause. The full, 69-track compilation features a different artist interpreting each song on the album, and proceeds from its sale will benefit No More Dysphoria, a non-profit that helps trans and nonbinary individuals with medical costs. The roster of artists lined up for the comp include Palehound, Sidney Gish, illuminati hotties, and lots more; we previously heard Worriers’ cover of “Grand Canyon.”

Now, there’s another single out before the entire compilation becomes available: Laser Background‘s cover of “Strange Eyes.” The Philly psych pop outfit put their own twist on the song, swapping out the original’s upbeat electronic sound for a more hushed, staticky sound that gives it a haunting feel. Continue reading →

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Firefly 2019’s lineup led by Panic! At The Disco, Travis Scott, Post Malone, with Courtney Barnett, Vampire Weekend, Hop Along on the undercard

from left, Panic! At The Disco | photo by Sydney Schaefer for WXPN // Travis Scott | photo by Isaiah Spicer for WXPN // Post Malone | photo by John Vettese for WXPN

While Firefly‘s recently-announced 2019 lineup isn’t doing anything to improve the Dover, Delaware festival’s track record of booking overwelmingly male headliners, seeing psychedelic rap visionary Travis Scott take the big-font Saturday-night prime slot is indeed a silver lining, especially in the wake of his ridiculous ASTROWORLD tour stop at the Wells Fargo Center.

Scott is sandwiched between Friday’s appearance from pop punk dramatists Panic! At the Disco and Sunday’s closing set from hip-hop’s voice of suburban ennui, Post Malone, who admittedly has a few catchy songs in his playbook. But as the case is with most festivals of this scale, the true excitement at Firefly lies in its undercard. Continue reading →

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Caracara navigates a world of moving portraits in new “Evil” video

Caracara | still from video

They went to SXSW in March, they’ve got a show coming up at the cages before December is out, and in between, the impressionistic post-hardcore Philadelphians of Caracara have kept a relatively low profile in 2018. This could change in the new year, though, as the band was recently picked up by Memory Music, the boutique label curated by Conshohocken producer Will Yip. Continue reading →