Indie Rock Hit Parade Live Session: illuminati hotties

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illuminati hotties | Photo by Katie Tapman for XPN

Joining us in the studio for this Indie Rock Hit Parade live session is a band who are pioneers in a genre of their own creation. Fronted by singer/songwriter/guitarist/drummer/engineer/everything else Sarah Tudzin, illuminati hotties released their full-length debut, Kiss Yr Frenemies, earlier this year. On the album, Tudzin plays nearly every instrument herself, but she’s joined in this session by guitarist Nathaniel Norton-Freeman, drummer Tim Kmet and, on the second day of his tenure in the band, bassist Chance Wells. Tudzin and her bandmates ply in a style of music they’ve dubbed “tenderpunk,” which is an incredibly apt description for her brand of heartfelt and energetic songcraft. A few days after their show at PhilaMOCA, illuminati hotties stopped by to perform a set of new songs in our studio.


Just like the album, our session begins with the title song, “Kiss Yr Frenemies,” an anticipation-building lead-in to the explosive “(You’re Better) Than Ever.” The way Tudzin and her bandmates play with loud-quiet dynamics will be a recurring theme here. “(You’re Better) Than Ever” combines an undeniably punk rhythm with a classic Brill Building melody, especially on its bridge). Next up is “Shape of My Hands,” which is just as effervescent in its chiming guitars and shifting instrumental sections. The song that might end up being Tudzin’s signature, “Cuff,” is next. What starts as a hushed, drum machine-backed secret eventually billows out into one of illuminati hotties’ biggest choruses. Closing out the session is “Paying Off the Happiness,” a crowd favorite which culminates with a (self-professed) “Steely Dan guitar solo” from Norton-Freeman and a whole-band sing along while Tudzin and Kmet bash away on their respective drums.

Listen to illuminati hotties’ Indie Rock Hit Parade session below and check out some of Katie Tapman’s photos from the studio:

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