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“A Drug-Cember To Remember”: The War on Drugs are wrapping 2018 with three pop-up Philly shows

The War on Drugs | photo by Ashley Gellman for WXPN | agellmanphotos.com

To tie a bow on a tremendous year that included a Grammy win and festival appearances the world around — including a headlining slot at the XPoNential Music Festival — Philly psych rockers The War on Drugs just announced their plan for a hometown, year-end extravaganza at three undisclosed locations. Continue reading →

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Mitski Ascends: The reigning queen of indie rock owns the Union Transfer stage

Mitski | photo by John Vettese for WXPN

Forget everything you thought you knew about a Mitski concert.

The basement show power trio with the frontwoman rocking a hot pink bass? The expanded band that brought songs from Puberty 2 to life on an arena show with Lorde? The occasional solo sets that are moving in the best way? All things of the past.

For the opening night of tour in support of this year’s outstanding Be The Cowboy, Mitski Miyawaki showed a packed Union Transfer that — much in the same way the record is a next-level move in terms of taking her already deeply affecting songwriting to new heights — her stage show was now bigger, bolder, and more of a vehicle for the best kind of catharsis.

With her four-piece band handling practically all the instrumental duties, Mitski stayed in the front of the stage, using her freed up limbs to spend the entire set gesturing, twisting her body, leaping on the floor, moving to the music in powerful and gripping ways. It reminded me of Klaus Nomi, it reminded me of St. Vincent. It showed that, as much as words and sounds are powerful vehicles for conveying meaning and emotion, so too is movement. Continue reading →

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And now, eight minutes of Bad Brains playing City Gardens in 1991

Bad Brains in Trenton | still from video

Is there a venue in South Jersey more legendary than City Gardens? Is there a band in punk more fraught with turmoil than Bad Brains?

Here’s a snippet of a night on October 20th, 1991, when the energies of the Trenton club and the energies of the D.C. icons converged. Of course, it’s the third or fourth make of the Bad Brains lineup…so their energies are probably not the same as they were in the “Banned in D.C.” years. Core members Dr. Know on guitar and Darryl Jennifer on bass are rocking their distinctive interplay throughout, but if you’re looking at that grainy VHS transfer footage and thinking “Hmmmm, I don’t remember H.R. being that ripped,” your eyes are not playing tricks on you.

This concert took place after the second time the legendary and controversial vocalist departed the band along with his brother, drummer Earl Hudson — supposedly, the reason had to do with disagreements over whether Bad Brains should lean more to their punk side, or their dub/reggae side. This short-lived version of the band features Mackie Jayson on drums and Chuck Mosely on vocals, and if you’re picking up a LA style alternative funk rock groove going on with these performances, your ears are not playing tricks on you. Continue reading →

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Philly indie rock four-piece Readership channels the 80s underground on Hackbreaker

Readership | via Bandcamp

Local indie four-piece Readership are big fans of the 80s college rock era; any listen to their back catalog would have hinted this. For their new EP Hackbreaker, out November 2nd, they bring that loving homage to the forefront.

Two short and fun tracks from the EP are streaming at Readership’s Bandcamp right now. There’s “Meet Me At The Mall,” a B-52s via Mission of Burma jam that is markedly different from “Let’s Go To The Mall” (shoutouts How I Met Your Mother fans) in terms of its musical influence, but with lyrical references to food courts and Radio Shack, the spirit of 80s suburban commerce is there. “My Sitcom With Keven James” is a but more Athens, Georgia derived — not explicitly R.E.M., nor Camper Van, but somewhere between those two worlds over the course of a boot stomping minute 39. Continue reading →

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Just Announced: Empress Of will bring Us to Boot and Saddle in February

Empress Of
Empress Of | photo by Adam Elramly | courtesy of the artist

Brooklyn-via-LA singer and songwriter Lorely Rodriguez, better known as the electronic pop artist Empress Of, released her excellent new record Us today. It’s her second full-length release, and sees her emphasizing the “pop” end of “electropop” more than we’ve heard in the past, particularly on the incredibly catchy, multi-lingual single “When I’m With Him.”

You can spend 32 minutes with Us right here, and if you dig what you hear, get ready for a night at Boot and Saddle this winter, since Empress Of plays the South Philly venue on February 20th, the third night of her just-announced tour.
Continue reading →

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Watch Rosali strip down Trouble Anyway for her Celler Session at City Winery NYC

Rosali
Rosali at City Winery | still from video

During her late summer solo tour, Philly singer-songwriter Rosali taped a Cellar Sessions set at NYC venue City Winery. Backed by colorfully illuminated wine barrels, she plays four songs from her standout 2018 record Trouble Anyway — “If I Was Your Heart,” “Dead And Gone,” “Silver Eyes,” and “I Wanna Know.”   Continue reading →

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The Key Studio Sessions: Joey Sweeney and the Neon Grease

Joey Sweeney has been a fixture on the Philadelphia scene for as long as I can remember. Back in my college days, he was a witty, sassy, no-bullshit columnist for the Philadelphia Weekly who also fronted the Wilco-tinged indie rock band The Trouble With Sweeney. He went on to found the revered cityblog Philebrity (which, sadly, seems to be on something of an extended hiatus), then returned to music in the 2010s: first with the wacky denimcore rock outfit Arctic Splash, then with the elegant Long Hair Arkestra. That’s to say nothing of the early ramshackle rock acts of his formative years, which I wasn’t around for, but I’m told The Barnabys were quite good, and their brief reunion at his 40th b-day gig Your Life is Calling, and tracks on its companion compilation, seem solid.

Point being: Sweeney has been ingrained in the city’s music and culture for so long that he probably needs no introduction. And now that I’ve gone and spent all this time introducing him, we arrive at the question: why? What keeps us returning to Mr. Joey Sweeney two decades into his career? Continue reading →

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Hour gets emotional in new single “At the bar where you literally saved me from fatal heartbreak”

Hour
Hour | photo by Julia Leiby | courtesy of the artist

It’s tempting to call Philadelphia instrumental six-piece Hour “quiet as a kitten,” but that statement would be wildly inaccurate. Kittens might be tiny, but they can get loud when the situation demands; Hour, by comparison, seems intent on making as little sound as possible, at least as far as last year’s Tiny Houses LP is concerned.

That seems to be changing with the latest song from the band’s new LP Anemone Red. While the album’s initial teaser track — do instrumental bands have “singles”? — mostly traversed similar territory as their debut, the vividly-titled new “At the bar where you literally saved me from fatal heartbreak” is vibrant and alive with a pattering drum rhythm and interlocked guitar interplay, evoking a beautiful and emotional scene over seven and a half minutes. Continue reading →

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The venue formerly known as the Electric Factory will now be called Franklin Music Hall

The Electric Factory
The Districts on stage at The Electric Factory | Photo by John Vettese for WXPN

Franklin Music Hall. That is what the former Electric Factory will be known as going forward.

The 2,500 capacity music venue on 7th and Callowhill announced last month that it was changing hands and identities, and with new owner Bowery Presents / AEG (who had been booking the room for years) legally restricted from using its old name, a contest launched to rename the venue. Continue reading →

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Trap Rabbit talks virtuosity, collaboration and Philly on the 25 O’Clock Podcast

Trap Rabbit
Trap Rabbit | photo courtesy of the artist

Philly instrumental duo Trap Rabbit gets around, whether they’re backing rappers like Kuf Knotz or working with singer-songwriters like Sophie Coran. For the latest episode of the 25 O’Clock podcast, bandmates Arjun Dube (drums) and Logan Roth (keys) chat with host Dan Drago about their origins, their entry point into the Philadelphia music scene, and how they’ve managed to stay so busy as musicians. Continue reading →