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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Cayetana at WXVU’s Fall Gig, Dreamswell at Underground Arts, Rickie Lee Jones at World Cafe Live

Cayetana | photo by Jeremy Zimmerman | jeremy-zim.com

If you missed out on getting tickets to Japanese Breakfast’s sold-out headlining show in the basement of the First Unitarian Church tonight, fear not — there’s plenty of live and local music to take in tonight. A short SEPTA ride in to the west of the city will land you at WXVU’s Fall Gig at Villanova University, and it’s a stacked show. We are, of course, biased in saying this — Key staffer Megan Cooper organized the gig, and picked some of our fave Philadelphians to play — but, I mean, look at that lineup! Punk rock awesome ladies Cayetana in the headlining slot, alongside pysch-blues ripper dudes Ill Fated Natives, rapper Ivy Sole, electropop visionary Aphra and basement scene faves Soft Idiot. The gig is free, information can be found here and you can get ready to sing along to Cayetana’s “Mesa” below.
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The Key Studio Sessions: Radiator Hospital

Five years ago, Sam Cook-Parrot moved from Grand Rapids, Michigan to West Philadelphia with some guitars, some songs and a healthy Bandcamp back-catalog. His project, Radiator Hospital, pretty much became an instant hit around the scene, whether he was performing solo in the basement of Nacho House (where I first encountered him, opening for Ted Leo) or turning it up full-band style at Golden Tea.

Having trusted friends for collaborators helped. Sam knew drummer Jeff Bolt from back home, and the two relocated to Philly around the same time. They joke that they picked up Cleveland bassist Jon Rybicki along the way, while New Yorker Cynthia Schemmer joined on lead guitar after meeting Sam amid her own move to Philly. The chemistry was undeniable, the enthusiasm was contagious and the appeal was clear: this band had rip-roaring punk rock energy, classic pop songwriting motifs and themes — their honest, vulnerable songs tend to dissect love and yearning over hooky melodies — and a totally earnest, engaging delivery. Or, as their very on-point Facebook bio distills it: “We are a rock band of rockers who love to rock. We also can be just one person who is much quieter but still loves to rock.” Right on.
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Support for The Key Studio Sessions, from Dogfish Head
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AllegrA unpacks social anxiety in their new “I’m An Introvert” video

AllegrA | photo by John Vettese for WXPN

We first met Philly native Allegra Eidinger when they were living in Pittsburgh, playing bass in Yes Yes A Thousand Times Yes and just starting their solo project, AllegrA with an antifolk-tinged offering called My Legs Are Growing. Flash forward twelve months and Eidinger has moved back to Philly, started playing lead guitar in Kississippi and prepped an LP’s worth of new material, a self-titled outing that will see its release on November 10th via Sad Cactus Records.

To announce the record this week, AllegrA released a cosmically colorful video for “I’m An Introvert,” a song that honestly addresses the social anxiety all of us encounter on the regular. Continue reading →

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Watch HOUND rip up “Born Under a Blacklight” in WXPN Studios

HOUND | photo by John Vettese for WXPN
HOUND | photo by John Vettese for WXPN

Last November, Philly power trio HOUND brought some much needed sonic catharsis to WXPN studios for a ripper of a post-Election Day Key Studio Session. Under the leadership of singer-guitarist Perry Shall — who’s also a noted visual artist and occasional gig promoter — and powered by rhythm section Patrick Hickey of Shape Breaker on bass and Chris Wilson from Ted Leo’s Pharmacists on drums, the band raged away on two songs from its 2015 LP Out of Space and introduced a couple new selections from its album-in-the-works as well.

That record, Born Under 76, is seeing the light of day this Friday on Let’s Pretend Records — you can get an early listen if you’re so inclined — and the world it will make its way into is still very much in the need of sonic catharsis. So we dove back in and found footage of HOUND’s performance, aired on a cable access music video program and subsequently circulated among fans via bootleg VHS (or maybe that’s just videographer Jeremy Quattlebaum of The Angry Mountain working his magic). Continue reading →

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Screaming Females’ seventh LP All At Once comes out in February; watch the “Glass House” video

Screaming Females | photo by Farrah Skeiky | courtesy of artist
Screaming Females | photo by Farrah Skeiky | courtesy of artist

After releasing their head-banger single, “Black Moon,” a few weeks ago, Jersey rockers Screaming Females are back; this time with a video for their new track, “Glass House,” as introduction to their upcoming album All At Once — out on February 28th via Don Giovanni Records.

As Screaming Females have been kicking for more than ten years, they’ve had time to explore their capacity as musicians — and in their new track, “Glass House,” they’re trying something new: patient simplicity. With expert calculation and sparse arrangements, the “Glass House” is able to carve out a sound striking and severe. Continue reading →

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Upholstery at Johnny Brenda’s, Musiq Soulchild at Electric Factory, Joan Osborne at Appell Center

Upholstery | photo courtesy of artist

This month, local experimental rock ensemble Upholstery is celebrating ten years of bringing left-of-center sounds to the Philadelphia stage. Yesterday saw the release A Decade of Decadence — not the Motley Crue box set, but rather an anthology of the Upholstery’s sounds and styles, from its post-Man Man beginnings in 2007 to its more recent oddball outings. Proceeds from the record will benefit Musicopia, and tonight the band headlines an anniversary extravaganza at Johnny Brenda’s. Tickets and more information on the show can be found at the XPN Concert Calendar.
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“The Night R.E.M. Became My Favorite Band”: Reflections on the Monster tour’s three-night stand at The Spectrum

R.E.M. at The Spectrum | still from video

Athens, Georgia rockers R.E.M. were at a crossroads in 1995.

The band — Bill Berry, Peter Buck, Mike Mills and Michael Stipe — had won international acclaim and mainstream success after a decade-and-a-half upward climb through the independent music scene of the 80s. Propelled by MTV and the burgeoning alternative rock radio format, their albums Out of Time (1991) and Automatic for the People (1992) generated massive hits like “Losing My Religion” and “Man on the Moon.” But the band also spent those early years of the decade somewhat reclusively, not touring and making only scattered public appearances.

Following the ballad-heavy introspection of Automatic and the psychedelic orchestrations of Time, 1994’s Monster LP —  the band’s ninth — saw it embrace the limelight once again. Widely heralded as R.E.M.’s return to “rock,” or at least rock signifiers like amped-up guitars and blistering drumbeats commingling at a propulsive pace, it added more massive hits to the canon — “What’s The Frequency, Kenneth?”, “Bang and Blame,” “Crush With Eyeliner.”

But when the band prepped for its Monster tour, which launched in early 1995, it was very conscious of its position: these were four guys in their mid-30s who had been playing together for a over third of their lives. They had an audience hungry to see them perform and the wind of several successful releases in their sails, but their lives were also evolving in different directions — families were being started, new cities were being settled down in — and all this amid a turbulent, ever-changing industry.

“I think all of us kind of realize we’re probably never going to be in a position like this again,” Stipe said in the 1995 documentary short Rough Cut. “We’re probably never going to be this popular, and able to do a world tour on this scale. And I’m looking forward to it! I’m going to have a ball.”

This was the R.E.M. that came to Philadelphia for not one, not two, but three headlining nights at The Spectrum in South Philadelphia on October 12th through the 14th of 1995. Continue reading →

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The Key Studio Sessions: Zeek Burse

We first met charismatic Philly crooner Zeek Burse a couple years back when he lent his vocal talents to a Key Studio Session by transglobal house music outfit Worldtown Soundsystem. That crew, as we observed at the time, very much operates like a family, and Burse carries the same spirit over to his own ensemble — a seven-piece rock band that brings a bounty of energy to its monthly engagements at South Philly rhythm and blues institution Warmdaddy’s, as well as to Zeek’s 2017 record XXII…and this week’s Key Studio Session.

Burse is a engaging performer, a dynamic singer and a gifted interpreter of songs; a recent gig saw him tackling songs by Prince (his self-professed number-one influence), Gnarls Barley and Imagine Dragons. Those Warmdaddy’s shows mix in a fair amount of covers, but his own material is impeccably strong. XXII is funky and fun, filled with hooks, grooves, and unexpected sonic turns — there’s room to dance and room to meditate.

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Support for The Key Studio Sessions, from Dogfish Head
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Watch The War on Drugs cover Tom Petty’s “Time To Move On”

The War on Drugs | photo by John Vettese for WXPN

Philadelphia’s The War on Drugs are the latest to add their voices to a chorus of tributes to the late rock and roller Tom Petty, who passed away Monday at age 66. At an October 5th show at the Greek Theatre in Los Angeles, the band opened the show with a cover of “Time To Move On,” from Petty’s 1994 solo album Wildflowers. Watch fan video of the show below.
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