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Indie Rock Hit Parade Live Session: Diane Coffee

Diane Coffee | Photo by Eric Schuman for XPN

Joining us in the studio for this Indie Rock Hit Parade live session is the latest incarnation of an ever-evolving project. Diane Coffee began as the solo vehicle for Shaun Fleming, former voice actor and, at the time, drummer for West Coast psych-pop outfit Foxygen. What started with Fleming’s bare-bones home recordings gradually became an expansive live show boasting a full band and, on occasions like their memorable 2016 XPNFest appearance, costume changes. The Spring 2019 release of the third Diane Coffee album, Internet Arms, arrives after Fleming’s departure from Foxygen as well as a stint portraying King Herod in a production of Jesus Christ Superstar. The full Diane Coffee band visited our studio for a thrilling performance.

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The dreamy chaos and nervous energy of Philadelphia’s The Ire

The Ire | photo by John Vettese for WXPN

Philadelphia’s The Ire is a more than a goth-punk band, they’re the embodiment of a city that feels immersive, both in the music and art scene as in daily life. Philly is a city filled with the dreamy chaos of refinery explosions and alternative pride marches, and somehow The Ire has managed to channel this kind of stuff into an EP and accompanying live performance truly representative of that lived-in, on-the-brink nervous energy. Continue reading →

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Exploring Sound: Mike Lorenz and the Witherbees on the elegant blend of jazz, folk, pop and rock on their debut album

Mike Lorenz and the Witherbees | photo by Gregg Meyer | courtesy of the artist

On August 9th, Mike Lorenz and the Witherbees will put out their self-titled debut LP, an intriguing mix of instrumental jazz, alternative and chamber pop. The self-described “folk-jazz” quartet includes all Pennsylvanian musicians – Lorenz leading on electric guitar, Jacqui Armbruster on vocals and viola, Justin Sekelewski on bass, Zach Martin on drums – and their work on this album shows that they have developed wonderfully peculiar tastes and ambitions as a group.

Along with some touching original songs by Armbruster, the band approaches hit songs from several different eras in pop radio on their debut release. Paul McCartney, Wilco, The Magnetic Fields and Corinne Bailey Rae are all in the mix. Lorenz has pointed to Paul Motian, Sonic Youth and Sonny Sharrock as other inspirations for the group’s experiments – they also recorded a cover of Sharrock’s composition “Blind Willie”. The musicians bring traditional jazz aplomb and an intrepid sense of musicianship to each of their efforts on the new album, and the results prove both accessible and surprising.

Earlier this summer, I spoke with Mike Lorenz about how the band came together to construct their debut album. This interview has been edited for length and clarity. Continue reading →

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How Brielle became Philly’s flute bae

Brielle | photo by Artistic Ross | courtesy of the artist

Philadelphia is the home of many soulful songbirds, but one songbird from West Philly decided to add that soul into her flute. Singer / flautist Brielle is that song bird. Projects like The Rough BreakupFlight and her recent album IKYDGAF (I Know Y’all Don’t Give a Fuck) show how she’s been able to gain the ears of listeners from Philadelphia all the way to Los Angeles creating melodies by combining her passionate voice with the soothing sounds of her flute for the past nine years. As she gets ready to perform at an open mic event The Juice Jam Friday night at 10 p.m., I got a chance to sit and talk to Brielle and reminisce about the journey that her flute and voice have taken her. Continue reading →

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Mir Fontane got a story to tell

Mir Fontane | photo by Angel Rodriguez | courtesy of artist

Hot 97 personality Ebro once tweeted that an MC must be able to move the crowd, have the ability to not just rhyme but to play with words, show different rhyme patterns and cadences with his style and be able to tell a cohesive story. The fourth criteria is something the New Jersey MC, Mir Fontane, has studied since he became interested in making music.

From his first project He So Crazy to the recent release of his brand new album Who’s Watching The Kids 2, his ability to tell stories about his hometown of Camden is what has allowed him to catch ears as well as rock any crowd that’s in front of him. The art of storytelling is what got songs like “Steph Curry” Wanni Wag” &and “Space Jam” to all have over 100k plays on SoundCloud, to win a Philly Hip Hop Award in 2016 for Tri-State Artists of the Year, to gain attention from 300 Music Ent. and to acquire 10 million streams on Apple Music as an independent artist.

I recently got the chance to talk to Mir Fontane about his journey as a storyteller as he prepares to rock another crowd at the TLA this Thursday with assistance from fellow Camden MC Franky Hill. Continue reading →

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Kristin Hersh comes in colors

Kristin Hersh | photo by Peter Mellekas | courtesy of the artist

Kristin Hersh has never looked at melody and text in quite the same way you do. Perhaps that stems from the differences in her personality, her PTSD, or the synesthesia that allows her to shift sensation from one part of her being to another part.

Perhaps, Hersh — who has split her time and energy among solo projects, her band 50 Foot Wave, authoring books such as her 2010 memoir, Rat Girl, and her legendary alt-trio Throwing Muses — is simply a colorfully clever and poignantly unique artist, radical and dedicated enough so to make each project definitive and different from the last, yet one without question as to who has authored it.

Currently touring on the strength of her noisy new tenth studio solo album, Possible Dust Clouds, she’ll appear at Boot & Saddle on June 24 to show off her colorful catalog. Continue reading →

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The National’s Scott Devendorf talks stepping back to let new creative voices emerge on I Am Easy To Find

The National | photo by Graham Macindoe | courtesy of the artist

The National‘s striking new album finds the New York band at their most reflective and impressionistic, alongside a cast of many new collaborators, including the Brooklyn Youth Chorus, orchestral and electronic instrumentalists, and several women who lend their vocals to the project. I Am Easy To Find arrived on May 17th with an accompanying short film of the same title, directed by Mike Mills — an indie filmmaker known for Thumbsucker and 20th Century Women — and it marks the band’s first full-on foray into the world of multimedia releases.

Ahead of tonight’s Philadelphia show at The Mann Center with Courtney Barnett, The Key spoke to The National’s bassist Scott Devendorf about the choices the band made on this new album, and their experiences of writing and performing together for over twenty years. Devendorf was warm and modest as we spoke on the phone — he showed how comfortable he feels living an adult life in the world of modern rock music. Continue reading →

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Listen to Sadie Dupuis of Speedy Ortiz guest host the Indie Rock Hit Parade

DJ Sad13 aka Sadie Dupuis of Speedy Ortiz | Photo by Eric Schuman

In just over six years of hosting the Indie Rock Hit Parade, I’ve had plenty of guests on the show. Usually it’s a live in-studio performance or a fun-filled DJ visit from Jon Wurster. After all this time, though, there’s one thing I’ve never had, and that’s a vacation. This past week, while I was in San Francisco, I left my beloved Friday show in the capable hands of the Hit Parade’s first-ever guest host, DJ Sad13 aka Sadie Dupuis.

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Eclectic, eccentric songwriter Leon Redbone has passed away; listen to five favorites from his songbook

Leon Redbone | courtesy of the artist

On May 30th, Leon Redbone passed away at the ripe age of 127…at least that is the age humorously featured on the singer’s website. That is to say the 69-year-old was witty to the end, and lived well beyond his years. It is a very fitting eulogy for a man that once told Rolling Stone magazin “To take myself too seriously is the gentle kiss of death.”

Known for his eclectic talents and eccentric persona, Redbone brought back old-school jazz, ragtime and Tin Pan Alley into the rock and roll era. Notorious for evading interviewer’s questions and deflecting attention from himself, Redbone — a longtime resident of New Hope, Pennsylvnia —  made sure to be remembered for his music. In honor of his legacy, the following is a compilation of some of Redbone’s most notable songs. Continue reading →

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Building Confidence: Cub Sport on where they are and where they’re going

Cub Sport | photo by Joe Agius | courtesy of the artist

“Unwinding Myself”, the opening track of Cub Sport‘s eponymous third album, signals that the record that follows is a different beast from its predecessors. Where This Is Our Vice focused on depression and BATS chronicled Tim Nelson’s experience with coming out, Cub Sport is marked by self love and acceptance. The album, released in January, comes after Australia finally legalized same-sex marriage, allowing Nelson and bandmate Sam Netterfield to wed last August. Bursting with catchy hooks, addicting synths, and beautiful lyrics, the album is both a personal and musical triumph.

The Brisbane band is currently on a North American tour in support of the album. They will play The Foundry on on Tuesday. Before their show in Montreal this past Friday I got the chance to catch up with Nelson over the phone. Conversation ranged from fans’ responses to the album, where he sees the band going next, and being serenaded by Solange.  Continue reading →