Indie Rock Hit Parade Live Session: Anna Burch

Anna Burch at Underground Arts | Photo by Eric Schuman for WXPN

For this Indie Rock Hit Parade Live Session, we’re joined by an artist whose solo debut is certain to be one of 2018’s best releases. Until earlier this year, Anna Burch was a member of the celebrated folk-rock band Frontier Ruckus. Her solo debut, Quit The Curse, which was released earlier this year, marks a musical change of pace for the Detroit-based singer. Operating in a retro-leaning but still forward thinking rock combo, Burch’s lyrically stimulating songs are strong, funny and effortlessly catchy. Joined by guitarist Paul Cherry, drummer Matt Rickle and bassist Lauren Mott, Burch stopped by during her tour with Ezra Furman to perform songs from Quit The Curse in our studio.

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Indie Rock Hit Parade Live Session: Shopping

Shopping | Photo by Eric Schuman for WXPN

Joining us for this Indie Rock Hit Parade Live Session is a band that I’ve admired ever since their debut album was released in the US. Formed in 2012 by members of several punk- and dance-leaning bands in the London scene, Shopping features guitarist Rachel Aggs, bassist Billy Easter and drummer Andrew Milk. Earlier this year, Shopping released their third full-length, The Official Body. Not surprisingly, given the involvement of producer and indie rock luminary Edwyn Collins, the album is one of Shopping’s best and brightest. The nervous energy of their early records is not sacrificed but rather augmented by a momentum that keeps each song moving forward. Before their show at Johnny Brenda’s, Shopping stopped by to perform selections from The Official Body in our studio:

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The Wonder Years share new videos to support Puerto Rico relief efforts

The Wonder Years | photo by Carolyn Ambriano | courtesy of the artist

In addition to churning out hits for over a decade, The Wonder Years are also known for their dedication to using their platform to do good. Last fall, the band played a series of shows in New York that were livestreamed to raise money for Fondos Unidos de Puerto Rico, an organization that aids relief efforts following devastation caused by Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico.

The performances, which followed the release of The Wonder Years’ acoustic Burst & Decay EP, show a quieter, more stripped-down side of the band, and they were joined onstage by The Little Kruta String Quartet and Laura Stevenson.

Now, months later, Puerto Rico is still far from fully recovered. To continue to raise relief funds, The Wonder Years have released footage of last fall’s performances. The series of five videos is available to watch on YouTube, and donation links are included with each video. Continue reading →


Cave People release the wistful “Wait” ahead of new EP

Cave People | photo by Gabrielle Elizabeth Smarr | courtesy of the artist

Last week Philly alternative trio Cave People, helmed by Dave Tomaine, released “Wait,” the first track off their upcoming EP Kingfisher, out April 6th on Stereophondon Records.

“Wait” is wistfully beautiful track. Tomaine’s melancholic vocals combine with swelling and atmospheric keys to create an aura of loneliness. Shouts in the background of the track’s closing minute sound like a huge release of emotion – an overdue cry or a cathartic yell. The track’s pure emotions alone have me excited for the remaining three tracks off the EP. Continue reading →


The High Key Portrait Series: Jake Ewald of Slaughter Beach, Dog

Jake Ewald | photo by Josh Pelta-Heller for WXPN

High Key” is a series of profiles conceived with the intent to tell the story of Philly’s diverse musical legacy by spotlighting individual artists in portrait photography, as well as with an interview focusing on the artist’s experience living, creating, and performing in this city. “High Key” will be featured in biweekly installments, as the series seeks to spotlight artists both individually and within the context of his or her respective group or artistic collective.

Jake Ewald would position the dissolution of beloved hometown heroes Modern Baseball more as an indefinite hiatus. One of the most heralded band of recent Philly history, MoBo played three sold-out goodbye-for-now sets at Union Transfer last Fall. Just before that, the below interview was recorded backstage at the inaugural Philadelphia Music Fest, where Ewald played a set with his new project, Slaughter Beach, Dog.

In the time since, Ewald has kept busy touring behind and gigging locally in support of Birdie, the second full-length for that band, and confounding music writers everywhere with Slaughter Beach, Dog’s unanticipated comma. The band trades pop-punk for a more acoustic-centered approach to Ewald’s unique brand of storytelling, and was recorded at his Fishtown studio The Metal Shop, a setup asselmbed with fellow MoBo-er Ian Farmer and Sorority Noise’s Cameron Boucher over the past four or five years, in a space he found on Craigslist. In this interview, we got Ewald’s perspective on straddling the space between one band winding down and another winding up, the scene that he discovered upon moving to Philly six years ago, and the ups and downs of different neighborhoods.

Explore more by reading on, and catch Slaughter Beach, Dog playing a gig on the 23rd of this month, at West Philly spot Hole Foods. Continue reading →


Two To Tango: Kristin Hersh and Grant Lee Phillips

Kristin Hersh | photo by Peter Mellekas // Grant-Lee Phillips | photo by Denise Siegel

A co-headlining bill with the one-time front persons for Grant Lee Buffalo and Throwing MusesGrant-Lee Phillips and Kristin Hersh – could be, for lesser artists, a trip backwards and something indicative of our current obsession with the 90s. Yet neither of these moody singing songwriters have ever bothered to wallow or follow. Phillips’ new Widdershins album is exquisitely timed and tuned to our torturous political climate, and Hersh’s most recent album is the delicately poetic Wyatt at the Coyote Palace from 2016. The two old friends hit Boot & Saddle on Wednesday March 14. Before that, however, they played Two to Tango. Continue reading →


Allegra Anka of Cayetana releases a pair of indiepop solo tracks

Cayetana | photo by Cameron Pollack for WXPN

Creator, tinkerer, weirdo, thinker, freak (all self-described), and local musician Allegra Anka has released two solo tracks on the EP dreams we talk about. Unlike Anka’s main project, the punk trio Cayetana, this pair of songs takes on a more lo-fi home-recorded indie-pop stance. Thanks, in part, to the programmed drum machine and filtered, layered vocals, Anka creates something distinctly their own. Continue reading →


Watch Stephen Malkmus’ solo acoustic “Middle America” video; see him and The Jicks at the TLA this June

Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks | photo via the artist’s Facebook page

Pavement frontman Stephen Malkmus — who performs solo these days with his band The Jicks — will be making a stop in Philly this summer, but in the meantime he’s shared a video for the band’s new song “Middle America.” This solo version sees Malkmus alone with an acoustic guitar, his familiar raw-edged vocals filling the room. Malkmus sits in front of a few windows, and outside you can tell it’s winter — but between the indoor tropical plants and the song’s warm and sunny tune, it’s like summer’s come a bit early. Continue reading →


Indie Rock Hit Parade Live Session: Renata Zeiguer

Renata Zeiguer | Photo by Eric Schuman for WXPN

Joining us in the studio for this Indie Rock Hit Parade Live Session is an artist whose debut album is already one of my favorites of this young year. Renata Zeiguer teamed up with Adam Schatz of Landlady to record her album, Old Ghost, which came out in February. With a nimble voice that effortlessly navigates through knotty melodies, Zeiguer is an artist who becomes more and more beguiling the more you listen. Joined by guitarist Will Graefe, bassist Christian Carpenter and drummer Jason Burger, Zeigeur came to our studio to perform a few of her new songs before a house show in West Philly.

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Navigating Sound: Kilamanzego on the journey from hardcore punk to experimental beatmaking

Kilamanzego | photo by Manny Arocho | courtesy of the artist
Kilamanzego | photo by Manny Arocho | courtesy of the artist

From the opening notes on “Picking My Kalimba from a Distance” with its bright, high-pitched samples and tribal stutter-step, the listener can tell that they’re not just in the presence of a beat-maker: they’re witnessing magic by Philly’s Kilamanzego.

Imagine a dusty warehouse in West Philadelphia, stocked to the brim with old, rusting pianos, pitbulls with mange and orange bandanas, and a whole lotta white people wearing black clothes and rocking dreadlocks. This was the scene when I first heard Kilamanzego cast auditory spells, lifting the crowd with euphoric organ swells only to pummel them with roaring bass drop after bass drop. That night, Kilamanzego — armed with Ableton Live triggered from a laptop and an infectious energy — wasn’t just playing a beat set; they were opening portals to realms from which I don’t think I’ve ever returned. And yeah, yeah, yeah, I know what you’re saying: that sounds like a lot of music guy talk, and the big lofty words volleyed about to describe what’s being thrown down don’t impress you. The thing is, while that performance might have been a welcome surprise — that so much powerful, trance inducing sound could be conjured by a petit yet tough former hardcore punk, black girl in a west Philly punk rock basement — Kilamanzego’s next performance I witnessed? It was a revelation. There is no doubt that we are dealing with one of Philly’s most creative musical minds.

And for Kila, it’s a long time coming. Kilamanzego has created a tightly wound catalog of entrancing beats, mini-séances that invoke both their time spent toiling in Philly’s underground and their Ghanaian roots. At once tribal and atmospheric, Kilamanzego has etched new sounds on the beat-based landscape. With their series backyardbxss that they curate as part of the smth savant collective, they’ve helped cultivate a movement that bridges scenes and communities in the spirit of Hip Hop. For Kilamanzego though, that spirit doesn’t seem to want to be tamed. With a hypnotic new single called “Stay Floated In The Tribe” out this week and upcoming shows including Get Better Fest at the First Unitarian Church, we sat down with Kila to discuss beats, life, and sonic ritual texture. Continue reading →