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Soundtrack your Election Day with the XPN Morning Show’s voting mixtape

James Brown’s “Get Up, Get Into It, Get Involved” single

We’re five hours into #ElectionDay2016, and it’s a big one. Reports are rolling of long lines at polling places around the Philly region and across the country, meaning you should plan your time accordingly as you head out to do your civic duty. And we’re not just talking about blocking off an hour or so to do it — we’re talking about giving yourself a solid playlist to listen to while you wait. Continue reading →

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Listen to a hip Halloween playlist from World Cafe

David Bowie circa “Scary Monsters” | via NPR

Halloween is one of the most musically distinctive holidays out there. Sure, it’s easy enough to soundtrack your day with the much-derided “Monster Mash” or the equally obvious “Thriller.” But here at WXPN, we prefer to go a little deeper than that. Continue reading →

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Binge on WXPN’s #XPNBinge on the 70s

Johnny Fever’s guest DJ set on #XPNBinge is not available at this time, but almost everything is avialble to stream below | photo via Tumblr

Last weekend, WXPN binged on the music of the 1970s for over 50 straight hours. Did you miss any of it? We’ve got you covered. Continue reading →

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Sting readies his first rock album in over a decade

Sting | via facebook.com/sting

Sting releases his new album, 57th & 9th, on November 11th. It’s his first new rock album in over a decade. The album features his long-time collaborators Dominic Miller on guitar and Vinnie Colaiuta on drums. It includes contributions from drummer Josh Freese of Nine Inch Nails, guitarist Lyle Workman and the San Antonio-based Tex-Mex band The Last Bandoleros. Listen to the first single, “I Can’t Stop Thinking About You,” below. Continue reading →

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Music For a Better World: A Spotify playlist

Kendrick Lamar
Kendrick Lamar in the “Alright” video

In times like these, music is more important than ever.

For many, it’s been a difficult month. The past week alone saw the tragic shooting deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile by police in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and Falcon Heights, Minnesota, respectively. It also saw the tragic shooting deaths of five police officers in Dallas — Brent Thompson, Patrick Zamarripa, Michael Krol, Lorne Ahrens, Michael Smith — who were protecting a peaceful protest when a sniper opened fire. Sterling and Castile are the latest high-profile cases of black citizens losing their lives during encounters with the authorities in recent years, from Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown to Sandra Bland and Freddie Gray. In other areas of the news and the world, hate and senseless violence have reared their heads — from the shooting at Pulse nightclub in Orlando that killed 49 people, many of them members of the city’s LGBT+ Latinx community; to the attack on an airport in Istanbul last month that killed 44; to an undercurrent of intolerance that permeated the Brexit vote in the UK.

In short: this is a turbulent month amid turbulent times. And even if we’re not directly affected by the events, they touch us all. Which is where music comes in. Continue reading →

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Firefly Sunday recap: Mumford and Sons, Earth Wind and Fire, Ludacris, Grouplove + more

Mumford and Sons | Photo by John Vettese for WXPN
Mumford and Sons | Photo by John Vettese for WXPN

The fifth annual Firefly Music Festival came to a close yesterday with a day of beautiful weather and stellar performances, from a high-energy set from Ludacris at half past noon to the astonishing headlining performance from Mumford and Sons. In between were knockout sets from Earth Wind and Fire, Grouplove, The 1975, Elle King and more. The Key’s editor John Vettese was there all weekend. Check out some of his photos from Sunday below, and see a Saturday recap here and a Friday recap here. Continue reading →

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WXPN to carry American Routes starting Sunday, June 19th

Dr. John | Photo by Bruce Weber
Dr. John, one of Nick Spitzer’s guests on American Routes | Photo by Bruce Weber

WXPN has added American Routes, hosted and produced by Nick Spitzer, to its weekly broadcast schedule starting on this Sunday, June 19. The weekly, two-hour music program will be heard on WXPN 88.5 FM Sundays from 3 PM to 5 PM. Produced in New Orleans and distributed by PRX (Public Radio Exchange), American Routes presents a broad range of American music — blues and jazz, gospel and soul, old-time country and rockabilly, Cajun and zydeco, Tejano and Latin, roots rock and pop, and incorporates documentary features and artist interviews. Continue reading →

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Your Firefly Guide: 20 artists to discover in the Woodlands this week

firefly
Photo by Joe Del Tufo | joedeltufo.com

Tomorrow afternoon, the first carloads of campers will make their way up Delaware’s DuPont Highway for the 2016 edition of the Firefly Music Festival.

Held in the Woodlands of Dover, the festival has skyrocketed since its inaugural outing in 2012, this year featuring seven stages and sure-to-be massive headlining sets from pop/rock megastars Florence and the MachineM83Mumford and Sons and Kings of Leon. You’ll also find no shortage of can’t-miss performances on the second tier, this year including sets by emo titans Death Cab for Cutie, LA-based epic poet Vince Staples, Glaswegian electrorock trio CHVRCHES, psychedelic Australian vibe-wranglers Tame Impala and more.

But you’re already familiar with those names, more likely than not. Part of the fun of the whole megafestival experience (unless you truly enjoy roasting in the sun in a jam-packed field of 80,000 for days on end waiting for the big names) is wandering away from the crowd and finding something new, something unexpected, something incredible. In that spirit, The Key staff has surveyed the entire 120+ band lineup and brings you our picks of artists you may not have heard of but who are absolutley worth discovering in the Woodlands this weekend. Read on, and rock out. Continue reading →

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The Key’s Top 15 Albums of 2015

The albums that moved us in 2015
This is the music that moved us in 2015

It was a year of powerful records. Of loud guitars and brazen beats, of electronic tapestries and vocal abandon. It was a year of personal introspection and rallying cries for social change. It was a year when music felt inextricably tied to the world around us. When it felt more important than it had in a long time. Like we’ve said before, to narrow 12 months of incredible music down to a “top 15 albums of 2015” list is to exclude dozens of other worthy releases. This year, we had 26 writers and photographers cite a collective 82 albums as their favorites – you can view everybody’s top fives here, and I know fully well that had I asked The Key crew to give me top tens, I’d be easily looking at quadruple the titles. But we’ll go deep when our annual Year-End Mania roundup launches tomorrow. Today we take the long view and explore what rose to the surface of consensus in 2015, from the expressive moments of Kamasi Washington, Joanna Newsom and Jamie xx, to the pop permutations of Carly Rae Jepsen and Grimes , rock and/or roll from Courtney Barnett and Alabama Shakes, Philly representation from The Districts, Waxahatchee and of course, Hop Along‘s incredible breakout LP Painted Shut, which alongside the great Kendrick Lamar rose right to the top of our voting. Let’s recap the year. 
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