On Wednesday July 16th, The Fire hosted one of the best emo rock shows of the summer. Hailing from San Diego, California, Weatherbox headlined the sold-out show in support of their new record, Flies in All Directions, released this year via Triple Crown Records. On tour with Weatherbox is Dikembe, from Gainesville, on tour in support of their new record, Mediumship, released this month via Tiny Engines.
The surprise local support for this show was Philly favorites Modern Baseball, who was only announced a day before the show, and Hightide Hotel. This sold out show was easily one of the best line ups of the summer and was a truly incredible night full of stage dives, crowd surfing, sing alongs, and sweat.
Philadelphia saxophone great Odean Pope doesn’t perform with the same frequency that he once did. Originally from South Carolina, Pope was raised in Philly and got his start playing behind some of R&B’s most legendary artists at the Uptown Theater before befriending John Coltrane before the tenor legend left the city. Pope’s most enduring musical relationship was with Max Roach, with whom he played for nearly 40 years until the pioneering drummer’s death in 2007. In the early 1970s Pope co-founded the ground-breaking early fusion group Catalyst, and later corralled many of the best young saxophonists in Philly and beyond for his rousing Saxophone Choir. His sound is brawny and barbed, a bridge between hard bop, soul jazz, and the avant-garde.
The last few years have been marked by several monumental changes for Pope – last fall he turned 75, in 2011 he spoke publicly about his 30-year struggle with bipolar disorder and was celebrated at a fundraising concert at the Clef Club, and most importantly, in 2012 he lost his beloved wife Cis, the inspiration for one of his most beautiful compositions. So it’s already a special occasion that Pope will lead a quartet at Chris’ Jazz Café on Saturday, bolstered by the fact that it will be the saxophonist’s first show ever at the city’s sole remaining full-time jazz venue. He’ll front a group of local all-stars featuring bassist Lee Smith, pianist Tom Lawton, and drummer Craig McIver. Tickets and information for the show can be found here.
Tonight, it’s time for another Indie Rock Hit Parade on XPN! Tune in starting at 10pm for a jam-packed mix of brand new music a some old favorites. Since we’ll be taking next week off to bring you the broadcast from our festival, there’s an extra amount of new music to try and fit in to tonight two-hour show. We’ll spotlight the debut album from the mysterious UK funk band Jungle, and hear a few of these fresh tracks:
SoCal punk band Joyce Manor return with their third album Never Hungover Again. The album follows 2012′s Of All The Things I Will Soon Grow Tired Again. It’s the group’s first on Epitaph Records and is out July 22nd. Earlier this year, the group released the video for the first single, a DIY jiu-jitsu lesson, “Catalina Fight Song” was released in May.
Never Hungover Again certainly has a Smiths-like aspect, a sort of tragic Morrissey-esque feeling. The moody atmosphere is paired with nasal punk vocals and good, catchy guitar hooks. The first track, “Christmas Card” is a prime example. The album has its ebbs and swells. “Victoria” are full of energy but is preceded the final, definitely Smiths’ inspired tone of “End of The Summer”. The lyrics have the raw, emotional appeal of bands like the Front Bottoms and the instrumentation is strong.
Catch Joyce Manor at Union Transfer September 17th. Get more info here. Listen to Never Hungover Again via NPR Music’s First Listen series here.
Liz Longley will return to her native Philadelphia next month for a pair of shows in support of her upcoming self-titled release. I spoke with Liz recently about her new record, her move to Nashville and her experience working with the musicians on the album. You can see her perform at Tellus 360 in Lancaster on August 29th and at Burlap and Bean on September 4th.
Helen Leicht: You grew up in the Philadelphia area – where are you from?
Liz Longley: I’m originally from West Chester, PA but grew up in Downingtown, PA.
HL: And you are now living in Nashville. Why did you decide to move and how long have you been living there?
LL: In 2011, I moved from my college town of Boston to Nashville, TN. While I’m far from home, I feel part of an incredible music community. The focus on the craft of songwriting here is inspiring and the caliber of musicians here is unbelievable. There’s nothing like it.
HL: Tell me about the making of your new album and who you worked with on this new music?
LL: The upcoming album, Liz Longley, is a collection of songs I have written about experiences I’ve had over the past couple of years. Good and bad! The exceptions are “Crazy Little Thing Called Love,” a cover of one of my favorite Queen songs, and “This Is Not the End” which I cowrote with three great songwriters for the season 6 finale of Army Wives.
I’m extremely lucky to have a supportive and enthusiastic fan base who funded the making of this record through Kickstarter. Continue reading →
All this week, WXPN’s World Cafe has explored the music of Iceland in its Sense of Place series, and it culminated today with a video of poppy indie rock collective Of Monsters and Men performing an acoustic version of their song “Silhouettes” in their practice space in a remote location just outside of Reykjavik.
Originally appearing on the Hunger Games soundtrack, the song was performed live for the first time here, and the contemplative acoustic reinvention was a treat to hear. The performance was recorded on the fly by World Cafe producer Kimberly Junod after a red-eye flight and an early morning bike tour on the streets of Reykjavik; I shot video under similar conditions, while XPN digital content manager Rich McKie edited the final product together safely ensconced back here in Philly.
We’re pretty psyched about the final product, and you can check it out below.
This was just one of a series of videos featured this week from the Cafe’s travels in Iceland. After the jump, check out performances by haunting folk ensemble Árstíðir, ambient / classical composer Ólafur Arnalds and bright electronic pop outfit Sin Fang. Continue reading →
There is nothing more summery than a jam band. Even if you aren’t a religious follower (aka Phish fan) you can still go to a show and appreciate the freeing sensation a jam band’s music gives you. With the Phish shows just wrapping and Cheers Elephant, Umphrey’s McGee and Disco Biscuits performances in the future, we are excited to introduce you to a new jam band, Somewhere South.
Hailing from Philly, Somewhere South creates dynamic music that combines elements like horns, bass guitar, dual male and females vocals, as well as lyrics in both English and Spanish. Their self-titled EP, includes folk, funk, and even a little bit of country twang. Each track is different from the next, but maintains a melodic consistency that makes the young band’s work sound extremely mature. The first track “Alright” is one of their slower tracks, but sets the precedent for the rest of the EP. It’s instantly calming in nature, and meshes well with breezy, summer weather and attitudes. The song is all about simplicity and trying to live in the moment, as they sing “Keep it simple, keep it true, keep it simple, keep it you.”
The band has been playing all around Philly, and will play next at Ardmore Music Hall on August 2nd, which will no doubt be an incredible fun experience. Listen to their Somewhere South below.
The annual Phreak ‘N Queer Arts and Music Festival will be returning July 31st to August 3rd. The festival, now in its fourth year, serves to highlight art, music and culture in the LGBT community. Events range from visual art to burlesque to poetry and, of course, a variety of concerts. In order to get a sense of the show, you can listen to the killer mixtape by Homoground here. Below, get more details about some of the local highlights from the opening night.
First, there’s the impressive duo Vita and the Woolf. Vita recently played a stellar solo show this week, to much praise. The group just released their first single, “Mary” and it’s a thrilling, art-pop anthem. Jennifer Pague’s powerful vocals, similar to Florence Welch, are enchanting. Their EP, Fang Song will be out September 20th. Listen to “Mary” below.
Philly-born, Cali-based rock n’ rollers Cheers Elephant headlines Union Transfer tonight with Toy Soldiers, who are playing their farewell show. Self-described as a “Chew it up, Spit it out, Rock and Roll” type of band, Cheers Elephant relocated from Philadelphia to Southern California late last year. Read their impressions of their new digs in Maura Filoromo’s interview here, check out the music video for “Doin’ It, Right” below and find more information and tickets on the XPN Concert Calendar.