And the next big Philly band is…….

Illustration of Timothy Showalter of Strand Of Oaks by Johnnie Cluney for

At the turn of the New Year, the folks at NPR Music contacted WXPN and asked us to pick the “next big band to break out of Philly.” Other stations, like The Current in Minneapolis, KUT in Austin, Seattle’s KEXP, OPB (Oregon Public Radio), two New York stations (including WFUV at Fordham University and WNYC), and KCRW in Los Angeles were also approached. We were each challenged with the same job: pick one band, one song, and write three or four sentences about why we think the band would “blow up.”

Not an easy thing to do.

How did we choose Timothy Showalter of Strand Of Oaks as our number one choice, you ask? I reached out to the XPN staff to help pull a list together. I was looking for consensus, if there was any, around “the one.” The following folks contributed to this: John Vettese, producer of The Key Studio Sessions, XPN2 local music host, and music critic for the City Paper; Helen Leicht, WXPN mid-day host and host of the Philly Local hour on XPN; Fred Knittel, host of Folkadelphia on XPN2; Kate Bracaglia, XPN2 DJ, blogger at Underwater Explosions, and freelance music writer; Gene Shay, the legendary of host of The Folk Show on XPN, and myself.

First, let me say that some of our contributors did not follow the rules. Some sent me two “bands that will break” this year; which is okay. Picking one band from amongst the dozens of the incredible bands that in the Philly music scene is really, really hard. Go to NPR Music here to see what bands were chosen by the other stations. That said, while Strand Of Oaks was our final decision, we wanted to also recognize the other bands who were chosen by our committee of local music mavens. These bands are:


Hoots & Hellmouth

Work Drugs

Break It Up


Bleeding Rainbow

Sandra Bae


Watch Kathleen Edwards’ performance from last night’s Letterman (Edwards performs on Feb. 1st at World Cafe Live)

Last night, Kathleen Edwards appeared on Late Show With David Letterman to perform the song “Change The Sheets” off her new album, Voyageur. The Canadian singer-songwriter’s fourth album was co-produced by Justin Vernon of Bon Iver and came out earlier this week via Zoë/Rounder Records. You can watch a video of the performance below. On February 1st, XPN Welcomes Edwards to World Cafe Live; you can purchase tickets here.

Kathleen Edwards performs with Hannah Georgas at 8 p.m., Wednesday, February 1st; tickets to the show are $29–$42.


Photo Preview: Arrah And The Ferns’ Key Studio Video Session

Last night, Arrah And The Ferns dropped by the XPN studios to record a Key Studio Video Session. In addition to the audio and video, we were able to shoot a few photos. As a preview, you can check out the photos above; the full session will be posted in a few weeks.


Portlandia: The Tour adds second show at The Trocadero on Sunday, February 19th

As we mentioned last week, Portlandia: The Tour announced a performance at The Trocadero on Sunday, February 19th. The first show is already sold out, and—due to demand—a second show has been added. Tickets for the late show go on sale this Friday, January 20th, at 10 a.m. From the press release:

Portlandia: The Tour” will feature Armisen and Brownstein, the co-creators, writers and stars of Portlandia, performing live music, presenting sneak-peek clips from the show’s second season and sharing personal anecdotes about the creation and inspiration of Portlandia and its variety of eccentric characters.


Calling all bands! The Grateful Dead wants you to cover their songs

The Grateful Dead has announced the “Dead Covers Project” contest. From the band’s website:

“Think you have what it takes to do the Grateful Dead? Show off your musical chops and you just might get your music video featured on as part of The Dead Covers Project! The rules are simple – all video submissions must contain a song either written by or recorded by the Dead. How that song is interpreted, however, is entirely up to you! Upload your video to YouTube, tag it “DeadCoversProject,” then we’ll make it available to view on the band’s official YouTube channel, Not so musically inclined? Join the fun by ‘liking’ your favorites.

During the entire month of February, we’ll be highlighting a new fan-made video every day on and Facebook. In March, five of the videos featured in February will be chosen and we’ll profile each artist on all of the Dead’s online properties and in the 2012 edition of the Grateful Dead Almanac.”

If you decide to post of video of you solo or with your band, drop us a line and let us know.


Watch the new video for Santigold’s “Big Mouth”

The Philly-born, Brooklyn-based Santigold has just released the new video for the song “Big Mouth” off her upcoming sophomore album, Master Of My Make Believe. The album—set for release this spring (via Downtown and Atlantic Records)—is the follow-up to Santigold’s critically acclaimed 2008 debut. From Santigold’s press people:

Santi calls out all trash-talkers on “Big Mouth” with a schoolyard taunt melody backed by an explosive carnival beat that will shake the streets from Bed-Stuy to Baja. The track is available for free download at The video was directed by Cody Critcheloe and premiered on Pitchfork today. Watch the animated adventure here.

You can watch the video below.


Listen to Chairlift’s Something via streaming audio prior to the band’s Free At Noon concert this Friday

The folks over at KCRW are currently streaming Chairlift’s new album, Something, in its entirety until January 24th (the album’s official release date). As we mentioned last week, the Brooklyn-based electro-pop duo will be dropping by World Cafe Live this Friday for a Free At Noon performance. Tickets to the show are free, but you have to RSVP—which you can do here.

You can watch the video for the single “Amanaemonesia” below.


The Key Studio VIDEO Sessions: Pink Skull on making “music for record-store nerds”

Photo by John Vettese

For this month’s Key Studio Video Session, we profiled Pink Skull, the Philladelphia indie-dance quintet that, last year, released its third album, Psychic Welfare, on RVNG Int’l Records. In our video, band leaders Julian Grefe and J.G. Geller talk about bridging the divide between hooky pop songs and expansive disco epics, the growth of the electronica scene in Philadelphia, and the origins of their “music for record-store nerds.” Watch the video below and download their performance from December’s Key Studio Sessions Live concert at Johnny Brenda’s.

Key Studio Video Session #6 – Pink Skull from WXPN FM on Vimeo.