Just Announced: illuminati hotties headline PhilaMOCA this October

Illuminati Hotties | photo by Kristy Benjamin | courtesy of the artist

Self-proclaimed “tenderpunk pioneer” illuminati hotties headline PhilaMOCA this October. Project of do-it-all L.A. musician Sarah Tudzin, the songs on 2018 debut LP Kiss Yr Frenemies display a range of dynamics and emotions. At times, the tracks take on quiet, lo-fi qualities, similar to Philly’s Cyberbully Mom Club. Elsewhere, driving and explosive riffs blindside the listener, like on track “Shape of My Hands.” Tudzin generated well-deserved buzz surrounding the release of the album following its May release on Tiny Engines. The opening of the album features the one-two punch of the quiet, prelude-esque title track leading into the driving, power-pop bop “(You’re Better) Than Ever.” Continue reading →


Stream Death Cab For Cutie’s Thank You For Today via NPR First Listen

Death Cab for Cutie
Death Cab for Cutie for WXPN | Photo by Matthew Shaver |

Thanks to NPR Music’s First Listen series, Death Cab For Cutie’s ninth album, Thank You For Today, is available to stream before the full release this Friday, August 17th.

Third track and lead single “Gold Rush” has been a favorite around the station leading up to the album’s release. The track touches on the gentrification of a hometown, seemingly changing overnight or without any notice. Themes of change are riddled throughout the album, from the location-slanted “Gold Rush” to physically leaving a space, like on “You Moved Away.” While vocalist Ben Gibbard’s lyrics are at the forefront of each track, the backing instrumentals are not to go unnoticed. Swirling synths accompanied by drums, bass, guitar, and piano, perfectly paired with Gibbard’s register, weave a sense of nostalgia and hope throughout the album. Continue reading →


Restorations tease LP5000 with new track “Nonbeliever”

Restorations | photo by Emily Dubin | courtesy of the artist

Philly DIY vets Restorations are slowly teasing new material ahead of their fourth long-player, LP5000. Their latest, “Nonbeliever,” follows up lead single “Red Door,” the high-speed contemplation on the rapid changing cityscape. On “Nonbeliever,” Restorations slows the pace yet continues on the themes of displacement and change. Continue reading →


Just Announced: Hilary Woods to play intimate Church Side Chapel show

Hilary Woods | photo via

Experimental Dublin artist Hilary Woods recently announced a limited number of U.S. Fall Tour dates for this summer, New York, Chicago, and, yes, Philadelphia’s First Unitarian Side Chapel among those few stops. Woods’ quiet, ethereal sound has been described by critics as “bewitching,” “ominous and dreamlike.” After reading about her solo performances, looping piano melodies and layering vocals throughout the set, the closest live experience I can think to relate this to is harpist Mary Lattimore’s. The Side Chapel at the Church is in for an especially entrancing night this September when the Irish artist performs in Philadelphia for the first time. Continue reading →


Listen to Brandi Carlile’s full Newport Folk Fest set via NPR Music

Brandi Carlile at Newport Folk Fest | photo by Adam Kissick for NPR

While we gathered on the banks of the Delaware just two weekends ago for the 25th XPoNential Music Festival, countless other music festivals took place at the same time. From Mo Pop in Detroit to Panorama in NYC, and the regarded Newport Folk Festival in Rhode Island, the last weekend in July is historically a great weekend for outdoor live music. It was up in Newport where XPN-fave Brandi Carlile delivered a stunning set on Sunday afternoon, and thanks to NPR Music we can now listen back to the set. Continue reading →


Just Announced: Nnamdi Ogbonnaya stops by PhilaMOCA in October

Nnamdi Ogbonnaya
Nnamdi Ogbonnaya | photo courtesy of the artist

Rising out of the DIY community and appearing in at least a dozen bands throughout his musical career is Chicago’s latest ascendant/eccentric talent, Nnamdi Ogbonnaya. Ogbonnaya’s sound is an eclectic blend of hip-hop, experimental rock, electronic, jazz, and gospel, and every one of these styles is bound to come out in any given song. Joined by a backing band live, the band and Ogbonnaya bring all of these styles to life, just like they will on October 9th when the group stops by PhilaMOCA. Ogbonnaya released his latest LP, DROOL, in 2017 on his own label, Sooper Records, and indie-faves Father/Daughter Records to positive reviews. Continue reading →


Belly draws on comic books and pop culture for the new “Mine” video

Belly | photo by Ashley Gellman for WXPN |

At the start of the summer, Belly sat down with World Cafe host Talia Schlanger to talk about reentry into the music scene, time away from the band, and the first practices back together. Schlanger described Belly’s reentry as throwing another party, after leaving the first party 23 years ago. In addition to bringing a new album, DOVE, to the party, they’ve also brought a new music video in the form of “Mine.” Continue reading →


Mumu Fresh will get “Up Close & Personal” at World Cafe Live next month

Mumu Fresh | via

You may have seen Mumu Fresh (stage name of Maimouna Youssef) on NPR’s Tiny Desk concert twice this year. In February, Fresh joined the supergroup August Greene (Common, Robert Glasper, and Karriem Riggins) to perform a jaw-dropping verse on the track “Practice.” Then just last month Fresh’s own Tiny Desk feature caught our attention here at The Key, where Roots member Black Thought joined her to perform “Say My Name.” While she may be new to many of us, Mumu Fresh is no rookie to the music scene. Continue reading →


Watch Strand of Oaks reimagine “Same Emotions” live

Strand of Oaks | photo by John Vettese for WXPN

While touring through Europe this summer with and festival hopping in Belgium, the Netherlands, and Montenegro, Strand of Oaks‘ frontman Tim Showalter teamed up with three amazing Dutch musicians for his EU backing band. Showalter and company transformed the 2014 HEAL cut, “Same Emotions,” and developed it from a vaguely new wave electronic jams into a face-melting rock track. With the help of Showalter’s Dutch companions, the track transforms into an expansive 6 and a half minutes, and was captured in video form on July 21st at the Sea Rock Festival in Kotor, Montenegro. Continue reading →


XPN Fest Recap: Josh Ritter serenades the River Stage with sunset jams Sunday evening

Josh Ritter | photo by Ashley Gellman for WXPN |

To close another wonderful weekend at the XPoNential Music Festival, longtime station favorite Josh Ritter and The Royal City Band took the stage, sun setting on the Philadelphia skyline in the distance. The colors of the sky progressed through the sunset gradient, from pinks, yellows, and oranges of the early sunset to the purples and blues of nightfall – the perfect backdrop for Ritter’s festival-closing performance. Time can easily escape the crowd during moments like this, lost in the music during the famed golden hour. Ritter’s well timed 18-track set was the perfect compliment to close out the weekend at Wiggins Park. Continue reading →