Beth Ditto is the kind of artist where one’s fandom can and often does feel like friendship.
From her tenure as the formidable frontwoman of iconic queer punk band The Gossip all of the way through her recent debut solo album, Fake Sugar, listening to her songs possess a fun but familiar feeling to them, like you’re having a conversation with a friend you either just met or haven’t seen in forever. That intimacy becomes even more immediate when you see her do her thing live, which she’ll be doing at Union Transfer this Sunday.
It felt more instant still when I had the pleasure of chatting with her on the phone last month. It was freewheeling discussion that covered a lot of topics both mundane—we commiserated over our dirty laundry piles and the state of my shoe collection—and more relevant to her music, her philosophies about life and work, and what she gets from both. The highlights from the latter can be found below. Continue reading →
Local sweethearts and rockers extraordinaire Screaming Females released their seventh album All At Once on Don Giovanni Records last weekend. If you haven’t given it a spin yet, you really should. The double LP – 15 tracks on one record and demos and an AV Club session on the other – is both impressive in scope and incredibly hard hitting and catchy. So catchy. This is nothing out of the ordinary for the long-standing band, which started in New Brunswick back in 2005, but it’s still very exciting.
That’s actually a bit of a lie: this album is so good and so sonically expansive that it very much is rather extraordinary and to claim otherwise wouldn’t be fair to anyone. Just listen to that first track, “Glass House”, and revel in Marissa Paternoster’s heady guitar licks and her soaring vocals that reach out and match the music in intensity. Continue reading →
One of the newer faces in the Philly music scene, Ellen Tiberio-Shultz, better known by their band name Ellen Siberian Tiger, is the most recent guest on Dan Drago’s long-running 25 O’Clock podcast. The songwriter sat down for a conversation with Drago ahead of this week’s snowstorm, and the two cover everything from Tiberio-Shultz’s upbringing in State College, PA to their brief stint as the drummer in a Liz Phair cover band. Continue reading →
Joining us in the studio for our first Indie Rock Hit Parade session of the year is the band behind one of my favorite records of the last year. Formed just a few years ago in London, Girl Ray‘s debut, Earl Grey, was released in 2017 when all of the members were still teenagers. Featuring Poppy Hankin on guitar, Iris McConnell on drums and Sophie Moss on bass (along with their friend and producer Mike O’Malley on guitar and keys), Girl Ray’s music incorporates influences well beyond the members’ years. Everything from pop to punk to dance music comes together in Girl Ray’s performance, which gives exciting new life to these still-evolving songs.
Taking shelter from the storm downstairs at World Cafe Live, Lissie brought their blend of folk rock and dream pop to Philadelphia on this blustery Friday afternoon. A mix of old favorites and yet to be released tracks, Lissie compiled a career-spanning set, urging new fans to dig back into their back catalogue while also offering up these new songs to satiate long-time fan’s hunger for new material.
Lissie covered the full spectrum of romantic feelings throughout the set, from the blunt “Love Blows” to the hopeful “Best Day,” and on “Blood & Muscle,” where Lissie described the ideal romantic love. On “Blood & Muscle” Lissie stripped down the sounds to let her vocals shine, where, instrumentally, the piano intro lead the way throughout the ballad. On the track, Lissie emotionally described the perfect form of love as “real and warm and alive, and not just in my mind.” Continue reading →
At the beginning of 2018, it was announced that Talking Heads founding member and prolific artist David Byrne was gearing up for a new release. American Utopia, the title of Byrne’s first solo outing since 2004’s Grown Backwards, was announced alongside lead single “Everybody’s Coming to My House,” a catchy, upbeat jam and XPN favorite track. Slated to release March 9th on Todo Mundo and Nonesuch Records, American Utopia is available to stream in full now, a week early, over on NPR Music. Continue reading →
Philly supports Philly, but not just because the person or thing is coming out of Philly, but because what is being presented is genuinely dope. Philly will support what they like, and when they find out that what they like is homegrown, the City of Brotherly Love will show an extreme amount of love to their brother/sister…and right now no one should know this better than R&B singer Beano French.
Whether killing stages or collaborating with other local artists, the West Philly crooner has always had the support of his friends and neighbors, so once Beano finally dropped his debut project Just Beano EP, it was no surprise how excited fans were to hear and see how Beano could stand on his two feet as an artist. I was able to sit down with Beano and talk about his early beginnings, his debut EP and what he has in store for this year — including a headlining appearance at Coda a little later on this month. Continue reading →
Originally hailing from New York, rapper / producer DistantStarr has been holding it down in both Philly’s underground rap and experimental beat scenes for about a decade. His sound, a rich mixture of spacey, ambient-inflected instrumentals and slick, razor-sharp bars tastefully embodies the spirit of both scenes. We caught up with Distant Starr a few days after his mind-blowing, impromptu set at Backyard Bxss (a live Beat showcase organized by Smth Savant collective). We talked about his latest release, Discover Tape, the unheralded history of Philly’s live Beat scene and the collaborative work that has connected him with artists around the world. Continue reading →
Local pop rock crew Work Drugs have released a new single, the second to appear on upcoming LP Holding On To Forever. Following up the fervent lead single “Miami Nights,” “The Edge of Forever” sonically switches lanes, downshifting into an unhurried pace, perfectly set for a late-night, open road drive. Continue reading →
It’s about 5:30 pm on a particularly dreary Monday afternoon and Matt Scottoline is sitting across from me, politely trying his darndest to hide his feelings of horror towards news I just shared with him. “I always tell people that if you want to buy better coffee, the best thing you can do is only buy coffee that has a roast date printed on the bag,” he offers half-optimistically, half-pitifully, attempting to guide the low-life caffeine junkie that I am towards a more moderately respectable life direction.
We’re chatting at a small table at Fishtown’s ReAnimator Coffee — Philly’s premiere specialty micro brew roaster, where Scottoline works when he’s not power-pop rocking as frontman of Hurry — and I had just told him that I frequently purchase and drink the likes of Maxewell House and Folgers.
As Scottoline takes intermittent swigs from an extra tall boy of fizzy water (trying to, I’m sure, calm his unease of speaking with such a brew plebeian, ormaybe more realistically because he drinks coffee all day long) I’m sipping some of ReAnimator’s drip coffee black, which reminds me like a good ole’ slap to the face that a cup of joe can be more than just some bitter bean juice. By George, it can actually taste good too.
Man, who knew that’s what happens when people put time and intricate care into their work? Because that’s what Scottoline and the crew does here. Helping his friends Mark Corpus and Mark Capriotti when they opened the shop a little more than a few years back, Scottoline stuck around working at the café until eventually evolving into his current position as Director of Coffee. This simultaneously epic and simply-named title entails tasks such as figuring out what coffees to buy and roast, and essentially handling quality control.
Basically, he’s ReAnimator’s coffee grounds-keeper. And though we only spoke on the topic for a few minutes in lighthearted fun, it was easy to gather the level of seriousness he puts into this work. The same is true for his other artistic project, Hurry. Continue reading →