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Hot damn, it’s a powerful new rocker from Philly’s Sheer Mag

Sheer Mag
Sheer Mag | Photo by John Vettese for WXPN

Philly punk powerhouse Sheer Mag is a reliable source of retro rock n’ roll riffs, fierce garage furor, live energy and instantly memorable hooks – and they’ve racked up all the attendant buzz that goes with that sort of combination. The band just dropped a blistering new song called “Can’t Stop Fighting” on its Soundcloud page, and it is fire. As with Sheer Mag’s best moments, this one makes the most of interplay between Tina Halladay’s unbridled vocal prowess and Kyle Seely acrobatic, Thin Lizzy-style guitar licks. Give it a listen below, and see Sheer Mag tear down Ortlieb’s tonight; tickets and more info at the XPN Concert Calendar. Continue reading →

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The Morelings talk music videos and making their record in a Philebrity interview

The Morelings
The Morelings | Photo by Bob Sweeney | courtesy of the artist

Tonight, emerging Philadelphia atmospheric popsters The Morelings head south for a gig at The Pharmacy with Moto Surf, Brackish and Thief, Steal Me a Peach. Leading up to that show, the band got a great spotlight on Philebrity yesterday that we highly encourage you read. In it, Kedra Caroline and Matthew William touch on the behind-the-scenes process of making its debut full-length, shares how it really feels about all those Slowdive comparisons (sorry, guys) and gives insight into the importance of music videos: a viewpoint that super encouraging to read. Continue reading →

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The Key Studio Sessions: Chelsea Sue Allen

Chelsea Sue Allen is a leading light in the Philadelphia folk scene, but then again, she’s something more. The West Chester singer-songwriter crafts intensely emotional songs that transcend the coffeehouse world, much as she’s a favorite over at Burlap and Bean. On last year’s Lonely Ages, she detailed the tug-of-war between aspiration and self-doubt – “I’ve got daydreams pressing against siren walls / will I become something better if I let them out” – as well as the crash of colossal letdowns – “you’re not the one I’m bankin’ on anymore, anymore?” – and does so over a bed of pattering electronics (“Creaks and Moans,” “Bankin’ On”) and full band swiftness (“Tall Dreams”).

Live, the flourishes are brushed away – Allen goes minimal and meditative, and the songs remain every bit as powerful. Continue reading →

Support for The Key Studio Sessions, from Dogfish Head
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Go around the globe with Up the Chain in their super fun new “Sidecar” video

Up the Chain | Photo courtesy of the artist
Up the Chain | Photo courtesy of the artist

Rootsy Philly rocker Reed Kendall and his cohorts in Up The Chain spent the past several month on the road, and as we see in their new music video for “Sidecar,” they made maximum use of their time.

When I interviewed Kendall last fall for our premiere of the song, he told me their plans for this video: in each town they visit, they’d set up a camera on a tripod, measure 30 feet out from the lens, set up the trip the same distance and in the same configuration each time, and film them playing the song.

What results is a rapid-fire, quick-cut video that sees the band zooming from Knoxville to North Carolina to New Orleans, across the pond to Pontresina, Zurich and Bern (all in Switzerland) and any number of places in between. Continue reading →

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The best thing to come out of Bill 160016 was the conversation

Bill 160016 | Photo by John Vettese for WXPN
Bill 160016 | Photo by John Vettese for WXPN

Yesterday, Philadelphia City Councilman Mark Squilla announced that he’d withdraw his controversial music venue legislation - putting an end to something that, as I saw many voices echo on social media yesterday, shouldn’t have been an issue in the first place.

But in all the uproar over Bill 160016, there was one massive positive – and that was the collective conversation that emerged from the Philadelphia music community. When BillyPenn broke the story on Wednesday, January 27th, it didn’t take long for it to climb right to the top of our collective Facebook feeds. Continue reading →

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Leon Bridges, Usher, Ibeyi and more to play the 2016 Roots Picnic

Leon Bridges | Photo by Michelle Montgomery for WXPN | michellemontgomeryphotography.com
Leon Bridges | Photo by Michelle Montgomery for WXPN | michellemontgomeryphotography.com

Philadelphia heroes The Roots will return to Festival Pier on Penn’s Landing this summer for their ninth annual Roots Picnic, and joining them is their usual eclectic array of artists curated by the man with the ‘fro and the drumsticks, Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson.

Of course the lineup, reported by Pitchfork and the cast of Broad City (watch the video below), features The Roots themselves in a headlining set, but they’ll be be backing 90s / aughties pop dynamo Usher in a set as well. Other high-profile appearances of note are soul-rock force of nature Leon Bridges, who’s been buzzing in the XPN universe for the better part of a year now (he’s headlining a sold-out show at The Fillmore this winter).

I predict peak cell-service outage will occur during Future‘s set, and there’s appearances from Cheltenham’s Lil’ Dicky in the mix as well, not to mention infectious Oakland singer Kehlani and (wha?) DMX. Continue reading →