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Indie Rock Hit Parade Live Session: Ought

Ought | Photo by Eric Schuman for WXPN

Joining us for our latest Indie Rock Hit Parade live session is a group that I’ve been trying to get on the show for years! I first heard about the Montreal-based quartet Ought when they released their 2014 debut album, More Than Any Other Day. In fact, I had slated to have Ought come to the studio to record a live performance for the IRHP, a booking which quickly turned into the group’s World Cafe debut. Four years on, Ought still features singer/guitarist Tim Darcy, drummer Tim Keen, keyboardist Matt May and bassist Ben Stidworthy, but the band’s sound takes a bold new shape on their newly released third album, Room Inside The World. Serving as their first album for Merge Records, Room Inside The World sees Ought subverting pop conventions by fusing their experimental tendencies with urgent, concise songwriting. Though the sprawl of earlier songs like “Gemini” and “Beautiful Blue Sky” might be toned down this time, Ought’s new material is their strongest yet. Hear for yourself in their long-awaited Indie Rock Hit Parade performance:

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Indie Rock Hit Parade Live Session: Anna Burch

Anna Burch at Underground Arts | Photo by Eric Schuman for WXPN

For this Indie Rock Hit Parade Live Session, we’re joined by an artist whose solo debut is certain to be one of 2018’s best releases. Until earlier this year, Anna Burch was a member of the celebrated folk-rock band Frontier Ruckus. Her solo debut, Quit The Curse, which was released earlier this year, marks a musical change of pace for the Detroit-based singer. Operating in a retro-leaning but still forward thinking rock combo, Burch’s lyrically stimulating songs are strong, funny and effortlessly catchy. Joined by guitarist Paul Cherry, drummer Matt Rickle and bassist Lauren Mott, Burch stopped by during her tour with Ezra Furman to perform songs from Quit The Curse in our studio.

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Indie Rock Hit Parade Live Session: Shopping

Shopping | Photo by Eric Schuman for WXPN

Joining us for this Indie Rock Hit Parade Live Session is a band that I’ve admired ever since their debut album was released in the US. Formed in 2012 by members of several punk- and dance-leaning bands in the London scene, Shopping features guitarist Rachel Aggs, bassist Billy Easter and drummer Andrew Milk. Earlier this year, Shopping released their third full-length, The Official Body. Not surprisingly, given the involvement of producer and indie rock luminary Edwyn Collins, the album is one of Shopping’s best and brightest. The nervous energy of their early records is not sacrificed but rather augmented by a momentum that keeps each song moving forward. Before their show at Johnny Brenda’s, Shopping stopped by to perform selections from The Official Body in our studio:

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Indie Rock Hit Parade Live Session: Renata Zeiguer

Renata Zeiguer | Photo by Eric Schuman for WXPN

Joining us in the studio for this Indie Rock Hit Parade Live Session is an artist whose debut album is already one of my favorites of this young year. Renata Zeiguer teamed up with Adam Schatz of Landlady to record her album, Old Ghost, which came out in February. With a nimble voice that effortlessly navigates through knotty melodies, Zeiguer is an artist who becomes more and more beguiling the more you listen. Joined by guitarist Will Graefe, bassist Christian Carpenter and drummer Jason Burger, Zeigeur came to our studio to perform a few of her new songs before a house show in West Philly.

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Indie Rock Hit Parade Live Session: Girl Ray

Girl Ray | Photo by John Vettese for WXPN

Joining us in the studio for our first Indie Rock Hit Parade session of the year is the band behind one of my favorite records of the last year. Formed just a few years ago in London, Girl Ray‘s debut, Earl Grey, was released in 2017 when all of the members were still teenagers. Featuring Poppy Hankin on guitar, Iris McConnell on drums and Sophie Moss on bass (along with their friend and producer Mike O’Malley on guitar and keys), Girl Ray’s music incorporates influences well beyond the members’ years. Everything from pop to punk to dance music comes together in Girl Ray’s performance, which gives exciting new life to these still-evolving songs.

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The Key’s Year-End Mania: Eric Schuman’s ‘Year of Missing Out’

Eric Schuman, doing something other than attending a concert | Photo by Sam Spott

Year-End Mania is the Key’s annual survey of the things below the surface that made 2017 incredible. Today, Indie Rock Hit Parade host Eric Schuman reflects on concerts he could have gone to but didn’t.

As you’ve no doubt seen by reading The Key (or perhaps by being a live music fan yourself), 2017 boasted no shortage of incredible concerts to attend. While I wouldn’t go so far as to say that I didn’t see any shows this year, the ratio of concert attendance to not-concert attendance was heavily skewed towards the latter. I’m in the music industry, after all; every now and again you have to take a break. I also tend to be on the radio late at night, which doesn’t exactly lend itself to seeing a ton of shows across town. None of this will stop me, however, from sharing my reflections on five of the year’s biggest live music events, regardless of whether or not I was in attendance.

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Merry Fringemas from the Cutting Room Floor of The Night Before on XPN!

As you may have heard, this year marks the 25th anniversary of Robert Drake’s holiday marathon: The Night Before on XPN. To celebrate, our resident Kringle is pushing the limits of endurance radio by adding an extra hour to his now-standard 24. Despite occupying more airtime than little Ralphie and that leg lamp this year, you might be surprised to learn that there are still plenty of musical confections that Robert simply doesn’t have time to play during The Night Before. Between the special features, holiday greetings and oft-requested tunes, countless recordings are left on the cutting room floor. But not anymore.

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Indie Rock Hit Parade Live Session: Cold Specks

Cold Specks | Photo by Katie Tapman for WXPN

Joining us in the studio for this Indie Rock Hit Parade Live Session is Cold Specks, the Canadian group led by singer Ladan Hussein. On earlier albums, Hussein dabbled in menacing folk and piercing guitar rock, but on Fool’s Paradise her tone is brooding and delicate. With longtime bassist/producer Jim Anderson and drummer Josh McIntyre providing the dark electronics, Hussein performs three selections from the album in this session.

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Indie Rock Hit Parade Live Session: Mister Heavenly

Mister Heavenly | Photo by Katie Tapman for WXPN

Joining us for this Indie Rock Hit Parade Live Session is a group whose members have all visited us before, both separately and together (long, long ago). Mister Heavenly was formed by Nick Thorburn of Islands, Ryan “Honus Honus” Kattner of Man Man and Joe Plummer of Modest Mouse and The Shins around seven years ago. Back then, when their debut album Out Of Love came out, they stopped by our studios to record a handful of live tracks. Joining the trio this time around is bassist Brett Morris, who doubles on guitar in Kattner’s solo Honus Honus band. Even if you can’t keep all those affiliations straight, it’s easy to fall in love with Mister Heavenly’s long-awaited new album, Boxing The Moonlight. Before a sold-out show, the four friends returned to our studio to perform a few of the new songs live.

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Indie Rock Hit Parade Live Session: Cults

Cults | Photo by Eric Schuman for WXPN

Joining us in the studio for this Indie Rock Hit Parade Live Session is the New York-based band Cults. Formed in 2010 by singer Madeline Follin and keyboardist/producer Brian Oblivion, Cults are no strangers to our building; they’ve visited for assorted sessions and Free at Noon concerts over the years. This time around, they bring material from their newly released third album, Offering. Recorded after the band took an extended break, the record explores influences that weren’t so apparent on the group’s earlier recordings. Heavy electronic rhythms and spacey textures are coupled with the core duo’s signature pop songwriting to create a sound that’s both fresh and familiar. Follin and Oblivion are joined by longtime touring members in this session: guitarist Gabriel Rodriguez, drummer Cory Stier and bassist Max Kamins.

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