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Tyler the Creator sets the mood at NPR’s first nighttime Tiny Desk Concert

Tyler, the Creator | screenshot from NPR’s Tiny Desk Concert

Hip-hop’s resident bucket-hat strange boy, Tyler, the Creator, stopped by NPR’s offices to perform not only his own Tiny Desk debut, but also to induct the first evening version of the Tiny Desk gig. Distinguishing the switch, instead of the custom clear natural light setting across the afternoon cubicles, vibrant backdrop lighting of deep fuschia, electric blue, and blood red drenched the typical work space, as it transformed into an intimate club atmosphere. Which, according to NPR, was the result of Tyler’s own request and the work of his hired lighting team. Continue reading →

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Americanadian oozes carefree, infectious youthfulness on “Apple Cider Vinegar”

Americanadian | photo via americanadianpa.bandcamp.com

 

Americanadian is a youthful bunch. Along with age — the three members range from high school to mid college students — the Philly group has only just started to release their dreamy indie surf pop jams over the past year. Even then, the project began simply as lead singer Serena Scalzi’s lo-fi solo endeavor, with the additions of band members Jeff Weingarten and Nina Fuchs not happening until just this past summer.

This sense of youngin-ness isn’t a detriment here, though. Particularly in their new track, “Apple Cider Vinegar.” In fact, it’s exactly this youthful, unapologetic sparkle of energy that makes the song feel so infectiously light and airy. Continue reading →

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Queue contemplates the hurt of a blindsided blow in “Aimless Kid”

Queue | Photo by Tina Letter

After hinting a new song with a tempting teaser clip last week, the D.C. and Philly-split dream power-pop group, Queue, have released their latest single, “Aimless Kid.”

Swirling in an atmosphere of ambient sounds, “Aimless Kid” exudes a calmness, but not one of peaceful serenity. It’s the kind of controlled calm that follows a forceful blow of shock and confusion. Continue reading →

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Free at Noon Flashback: Slaughter Beach, Dog’s set mixes sliding and shredding guitar

Slaughter Beach, Dog | photo by Liz Waldie for WXPN

I love when crunchy bands play Free at Noon. Especially local crunchy bands — that’s just the Cherry on top. Haaaa. You know, those bands that are more thought of in context of packing sweaty basements or DIY venues than playing WCL at an hour when coffee is still vital. And that’s exactly the musical forecast today’s early afternoon set called for, which saw Philly’s Slaughter Beach, Dog closing out the day’s rare local-favorite double-header .

Not only did this change of pace showcase well-deserving, insanely talented artists, it also brought about a refreshingly interesting collection of folks — where a crowd of longtime Free at Noon regulars became speckled with beanie-clad college students.

Just to be clear though, as previous co-frontman of a little mega band called Modern Baseball, Jake Ewald is no stranger to playing big venues. But his new project Slaughter Beach, Dog is an entirely different monster; particularly SB,D’s recently released record Birdie, where acoustic stillness and subtle twang serve as the go-to vehicles of Ewald’s casually intricate narratives. Continue reading →

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Just Announced: John Prine will be joined by Kurt Vile at Merriam Theater this April

John Prine | photo by John Kurc | courtesy of artist

Not only will legend John Prine grace the Merriam Theater this spring, he’ll also bring Philly hero Kurt Vile along for the wise ‘n folky party on April 14th.

This year, Prine released a songbook titled John Prine Beyond Words through his own independent label, Oh Boy Records, which featured selected songs from Prine’s catalogue and the stories behind them. Kurt Vile has been rocking his incredible tour with Courtney Barnett, which recently brought an intimate-feeling gig to Philly at Tower Theatre. Continue reading →

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Just Announced: Brandi Carlile brings new album to Merriam Theater this May

Brandi Carlile | photo by Alysse Gafkjen | courtesy of artist
Brandi Carlile | photo by Alysse Gafkjen | courtesy of artist

Brandi Carlile gifted us with so many heartfelt folk gems in her last record, The Firewatcher’s Daughter, that following it up seems like an incredibly hefty feat. However, one listen from her recent single “The Joke” washes away any doubt that this new album, By The Way, I Forgive You, will be just as beautifully powerful. Continue reading →

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Just Announced: Japanese Breakfast continues their Philly takeover with a headlining gig at Union Transfer

Japanese Breakfast | photo by Galea McGregor for WXPN

It’s been quite a year for indie darling Japanese Breakfast. But, I mean, when you release a record as amazing as Soft Sounds from Another Planet, it only makes sense that everyone everywhere’s going to want a chance to see a live performance of said record.

So although Michelle Zauner’s earnest, electro-ambient pop tunes have been sounding off at all corners of the earth for a while now (she and the crew are currently sharing her songs with the Eastern side of the planet with an Asia / Australia tour) Japanese Breakfast has just announced another ring of shows back in the States after just a tiny — but much deserved — winter break.

Starting February in Zauner’s early hometown of Seattle, the tour will conclude with a massive (current) hometown celebration at Union Transfer on June 3rd. Continue reading →

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Best Coast brings their own jolly dose of surf rock to the Beach Boys’ “Little Saint Nick”

Best Coast
Best Coast | Photo by Michelle Montgomery for WXPN | michellemontgomeryphotography.com

Thanksgiving’s over, so you know what that means: time for bounties of the corniest, jolliest fa la la holiday cheer. While Christmas classics still run the show, it’s always fun to hear new takes on nostalgia-ridden tunes. Amazon agrees, as they’ve compiled a playlist called “Indie for the Holidays,” which includes a gleeful cover of the Beach Boys’ “Little Saint Nick,” by surf rockers, Best Coast. Continue reading →

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Join in The Hold Steady’s welcome-back bash with energized tracks, “Entitlement Crew” and “A Snake In The Shower”

Photo by Jeremy Zimmerman | http://jeremy-zim.com/

One of XPN’s favorite live-wire rock ‘n’ roll goofballs, The Hold Steady, are back with two new tracks: “Entitlement Crew” and “A Snake In The Shower.” Released through Frenchkiss Records, these songs mark the return from a four year absence since The Hold Steady’s last album, Teeth Dreams, and a decade since longtime keyboard player Franz Nicolay, has been included on the lineup. Now, with Nicolay back, The Hold Steady are ready for further cheeky shenanigans. Continue reading →