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Never Stop Growing: The story behind Cayetana’s New Kind of Normal album art

Cayetana’s New Kind of Normal | cover photo by Jess Flynn | jflynnphoto.com

The cover photograph on Cayetana‘s New Kind of Normal depicts frontwoman Augusta Koch’s mother, Catherine Koch, jumping on a bed in her apartment. Eye-catching and full of joy, the image — taken by Philadelphia photographer Jess Flynn — holds a special significance to the band, who this year challenged themselves by launching their own label, Plum Records, to independently release their sophomore LP. In her own words, Augusta explains the significance of the picture, and its story behind it echoes the story of their album, which is out today.

My parents were married and lived in Germany for a long time. They were the age I am now, and there’s this awesome photo that I’ve seen my whole life of my mom jumping on a bed. My dad had taken it. Since then, my dad had passed away and my mom is obviously a lot older. But I really wanted to recreate that photo. We talked about using it a long time ago for a 7”, but it was such an old shitty print that it couldn’t have been blown up. And we were thinking about the name of the album, New Kind of Normal, and it seemed like a perfect photo: an older woman who’s still growing. Continue reading →

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16 albums you shouldn’t overlook in 2016

DONTOVERLOOK2016The thing about year-end lists, though. Stuff gets left out. Incredible records are forgotten, or simply don’t make the cut when ranking around consensus. Sure, consensus can be a powerful tool in uncovering the things that your trusted sources can agree upon, framing these things as, definitively, “the best.”

But the idea of hierarchy is in itself exclusionary. “Best” does not equal “only.” We brought you our 15 best albums of the year earlier today, but by no means are these the sole albums that are impressive or important or worthy of your ears in 2016. They’re more of a starting point.

In a lot of ways, I’m more excited about this list: 16 albums that you should not overlook in 2016. These are releases that didn’t appear on more than a single list turned in by The Key’s contributing staff – most of them aren’t ranking on year-end lists elsewhere – but they were obviously striking enough to that person that they made their personal cut. So we asked them why.

These are all excellent records. Many of them are very important records, in the same way that Chance and Solange and Tribe and Beyonce are important. And they’re not getting talked about enough, by any stretch. Start listening, start talking. – John Vettese
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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 →