Sharon Van Etten stuns a sold-out Union Transfer, covers Sinead O’Connor on night two of tour

Sharon Van Etten | photo by Rachel Barrish for WXPN

Sharon Van Etten‘s new album Remind Me Tomorrow is a different direction for the singer-songwriter: futuristic and spacey synths colliding with her one-of-a-kind voice and old-school style. Her stop in Philly at Union Transfer explored all of this. Van Etten’s set on Thursday felt like a new awakening for the artist, who had taken a long break from touring after her previous album, Are We There. The energy from the stage was palpable, and the crowd was electrified by the band’s performance and Van Etten’s gripping presence. With it being only night two of eighteen, there are still kinks to be worked out, but they were far outweighed by the sheer star power Van Etten brings to her live show. Continue reading →


Talking divine intervention, self-care, Bohemian Rhapsody and Magic Gone with Petal’s Kiley Lotz

Petal | photo by Katie Krulock | courtesy of the artist

Petal is the project of singer-songwriter Kiley Lotz, a Scranton native whose unflinchingly honest rock draws from some of her favorite singers growing up, including Freddie Mercury, Carole King, and Nina Simone. Her newest album, Magic Gone, takes Lotz’ struggles with mental health and questions about her sexual identity and crafts them into a series of beautiful and intimate punk songs with guitars and drums just as raw. Her live performances are nothing short of awe-inspiring, whether she’s bringing down the house with a full band shredding, or taking it solo and captivating crowds with her steady and transfixing voice. Ahead of her first headlining appearance at the First Unitarian Church, I spoke with Lotz just before the new year, and we talked about her new album, self-care while on tour, her college education in Theatre Arts, and the movie Bohemian Rhapsody. Continue reading →


Just Announced: Nashville’s Daddy Issues will play PhilaMOCA in January

Daddy Issues | photo by James Rice | via

After playing Union Transfer with The Menzingers over the weekend, Daddy Issues just announced a headlining show at PhilaMOCA this January 26th with Cincinatti’s Leggy opening. The Nashville-based grunge trio got their name from a scratching in a DIY venue bathroom, which frontwoman Jenna Moynihan mistook for an already existing punk group. Upon realizing no such group existed, she enlisted Emily Maxwell and Jenna Mitchell to form her ideal band, whose cathartic lyrics grapple with adolescence, abuse, and relationships over thick distortion. Continue reading →


Consider the Angles: Abi Reimold on combining passions for introspective music and outrospective photography

Abi Reimold
Abi Reimold | photo by Emily Kuhar | courtesy of the artist

While Abi Reimold’s song are intensely personal, their love of photography is based around capturing others. On their album covers, they combine the two passions. The photograph on their most recent LP, 2016’s Wriggling, centers around a bowl of worms on a clean white table, the creatures writhing and wrapping around each other.

“I just liked the idiom: ‘opening a can of worms.’ I felt like that would tie the songs together very well,” Reimold said while munching on a salad bowl, seated across from me at a table on Walnut Street. “[It’s about] getting through things, and even though you can be in a situation or a mindset, and feel those feelings, that doesn’t mean that’ll be something permanent.”

Reimold recounted taking the shot that would become the cover of Wriggling. Filmmaker J. Miller was documenting the process, the room was set up. They just needed one thing: the worms. For that, Reimold went to their gardener friend, Katy.

“She was like, ‘Actually, I have a bunch of worms in my bathtub!’ It was really serendipitous.” Continue reading →


Phoebe Bridgers covers (Sandy) Alex G’s “Powerful Man”

XPNFest 2018 Behind The Scenes | photo by Rachel Del Sordo |

As if Phoebe Bridgers wasn’t already making all your indie rock dreams come true releasing boygenius’ EP last week with Julien Baker and Lucy Dacus, she just today shared a cover of (Sandy) Alex G’s “Powerful Man” via Amazon Music. The single is part of Amazon’s “Produced By” series, this time featuring Simone Felice of The Felice Brothers. Conor Oberst is also credited on harmonica. Continue reading →


Rachel Lightner of Nervous Dater and Greg Mendez team up on split EP

photo via Bandcamp

Rachel Lightner of the band Nervous Dater and Philly-based solo act Greg Mendez have announced a split EP to be released September 6th, and each released a single from the upcoming 8-song album.

Lightner went acoustic for her part, with eerie keyboard over her guitar and doubled vocals. It evokes senses of Death Cab and Phoebe Bridgers, and shows off her more sentimental side with a modern sort of love song. The production is more lush than in her previous work, with a careful eye on reverb and delay that makes it wonderfully heart-wrenching. Meanwhile, Mendez sticks to his more laid-back punk folk, his vocals also doubled with a mumbly, conversational mood.  A light synth enters near the end of the track, but before it can build the song cuts out. Continue reading →


Slaughter Beach, Dog and Thin Lips sweat it out at PhilaMOCA

Slaughter Beach, Dog | photo by John Vettese for WXPN

Two great Philly forces combined this past Saturday at PhilaMOCA, where Thin Lips and Slaughter Beach, Dog co-headlined along with opener Queen Jesus. It was a sold-out show coming at the tail-end of a hot summer. Fortunately, these are bands to sweat to. Thin Lips have a classic sensibility about their hooks that you have to move to, with clean riffs and sobering lyrics. Slaughter Beach, Dog, led by former Modern Baseball guitarist Jake Ewald, can play with a crowd instead, going from punk anthems (with a bit of Gibson twang) to solemn folk-inspired jams. Regardless of their duality, the crowd that night seldom could be found not echoing every word from the bands. Continue reading →


XPN’s Gotta Hear Song of the Week: “Loading Zones” by Kurt Vile

Kurt Vile
Kurt Vile | photo courtesy of the artist

One might expect a song called “Loading Zones” from such a musician like Kurt Vile would reflect on his extensive touring with The War On Drugs, Courtney Barnett, or with the Violators, loading in and out for shows almost constantly since 2005. Instead, the track — XPN’s new Gotta Hear Song of the Week — is a nostalgic and familiar contemplation of the everyday loading zone, Vile singing of avoiding paying parking by using the loading zones in his hometown streets. “Get my shopping done, laundry too, drop some dead weight, clean my hands of what I need to clean my hands of.” The structure of the song follows suit, never faltering in its churning groove. Continue reading →