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Our Best American Girl: Grown Up Talk with Mitski

mitski
Mitski | photo courtesy of the artist

Mitski Miyawaki understands the sobering realities of growing up more than most people twice her senior. If 2014’s breakthrough album Bury Me at Makeout Creek detailed the bad decisions and existential hangovers that come with first flirtations with freedom, its follow up Puberty 2 dives into how that dread of consequence and uncertainty lingers long into adulthood and beyond, haunting you even in your happiest moments. Or as her press release puts it more bluntly, “Happiness fucks you.” She of course elaborated further on that thesis in our recent chat ahead of two sold out shows in Philly this week. We talked about the new album as well as how she likes to write, perform, and be talked about…

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Listen to a new song from June Divided’s Melissa Menago, “Traveler”

Melissa Menago } Photo by Lauren Fleming
Melissa Menago } Photo by Lauren Fleming

Little Crimes is the debut solo album from Melissa Menago, from the band June Divided. Out on July 22nd, Menago took time out from her lead singing duties from the band to record the album.

Born in Wilmington, Delaware, Menago attended the Cab Calloway School of the Arts and continued her music education at Drexel University’s music business program. Little Crimes showcases a more intimate, acoustic side of Menago’s music, and features June Divided’s Chris Kissel on guitar and Keith Gill on percussion. Continue reading →

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Fig Voices: Meet Lancaster indie pop band Tigers and Thieves

Tigers + Thieves | Photo courtesy of FIG Magazine
Tigers and Thieves | Photo courtesy of FIG Magazine

WXPN has partnered with FIG Magazine to introduce the best new artists from the Central PA area with a new series called FIG Voices.

First up is the indie-pop band from Lancaster, Tigers and Thieves. Their new EP, You Can’t Have Everything, evokes Keane, Peter, Bjorn & John and Coldplay, and is out now. Continue reading →

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Intimacy and Exhuberance: Dylan LeBlanc shows off his range at Boot & Saddle

Dylan LeBlanc | Photo by Hope Helmuth | http://www.hopehelmuth.com/
Dylan LeBlanc | Photo by Hope Helmuth | http://www.hopehelmuth.com/

A gorgeous Friday afternoon in Philadelphia was accompanied by the sultry sounds of Dylan LeBlanc playing World Cafe Live for Free at Noon. That evening LeBlanc delivered yet another flawless performance at Boot and Saddle. The night began with the high energy folk/bluegrass stylings of The Chip Breakers, who warmed up the crowd for the greatly anticipated headliner. Continue reading →

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Summertime Sips and Summertime Sounds: Church Girls

Mariel Beaumont and Rob Dywer of Church Girls perform at Ortlieb's | Photo by Charlie Wrzesniewski | Courtesy of the artist
Mariel Beaumont and Rob Dywer of Church Girls perform at Ortlieb’s | Photo by Charlie Wrzesniewski | Courtesy of the artist

Hello there, it’s me. Your good friend summer. I’m here to tell you: congratulations on making it through fall through spring. It’s been a tough row, for sure: the pumpkin-flavored everything, the bulky coats and jackets, the “April showers” that last well into May. The good news is: the worst is over. From here on out it’s nothing but music festivals and going down the shore; water ice and jean shorts and cocktails with tiny umbrellas. Isn’t that what this column is all about?

It’s true. This is year THREE of Summertime Sips and Summertime Sounds, our seasonal foray into summer drinking and summer vibes, where we kick back with our favorite bands, share a drink, and wax poetic about summers past and present. For our first 2016 edition, I meet up with rising Philly band Church Girls, whose cathartic basement rockers bring back memories of sweating it out at DIY punk shows in Jersey, on summer nights when the only thing holding you back was your imagination and your car (a ’93 Taurus for me) – your ticket out of the suburbs and into something real and raw.

Church Girls formed in 2014 in Philadelphia, around singer/songwriter Mariel Beaumont, a soft-spoken beauty who comes alive when performing. Prior to our interview, I catch Church Girls Saturday night at Boot & Saddle (appropriately, opening for first ever Sips band, Work Drugs)—and am impressed by her passion and talent. Especially striking is a cover of Modest Mouse’s “Custom Concern,” Beaumont closing her eyes as if feeling every lyric.

2016 has been a big year for Church Girls. Their debut full-length, Thousand Lives, dropped this January (listen here on Spotify); post-release they gigged regularly in Philly and NYC, earning the requisite blog buzz along the way. It also saw some changes, such as the departure of original members Jack Firneno and Max Beaumont—the latter Mariel’s twin and confidant (read about it here) —and the addition of new members James Udinsky and Will Schwartz. As for Mariel herself, 2016 has been a year of growth—she tells me she recently quit her job to focus on Church Girls full-time, and has been writing songs with longtime guitarist Robert Dwyer.

For our interview, I meet up with Mariel and Rob at South Philly’s Cantina—in between margaritas and tequila sodas, we talk summer soundtracks and summers spent skating and lounging. Read on to discover what tunes are on their summer soundtrack, their best and worst summer vacations, and why they’ll never be able to re-capture the exuberance of summers past, no matter how hard they try. Continue reading →