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Two to Tango: Algiers’ Franklin James Fisher and Lower Interiors’ Maggie Brannon

Algiers | photo by Joe Dilworth | courtesy of the artist // Lower Interiors | photo by Maggie Brannon | courtesy of the artist

The sonic experimentalists of Algiers and Lower Interiors have different axes to grind when it comes to the music they make, they melodies they parse, and the rhythms that allow each to steer their own individual lyrical ship. For Algiers and its leader/lyricist Franklin James Fisher, there is a sense of holy rolling soul and cranky gospel tones. For Lower Interiors’ Maggie Brannon, there is a steelier, sinister, yet more playful sound to be found in her work.

This Friday June 29th, Algiers and Lower Interiors will come head-to-head (after coming face-to-face for the first time mere days previous) at West Philly’s The SoundHole to test the limits of their Dada-ist sensibilities. We caught up to both Fisher (with the rest of Algiers) and Brannon (all by her lonesome) driving separately into Nashville for the first gig of their co-joined tour dates. Continue reading →

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Found Wild channels deeply personal themes into beautiful country tones on “Nothing Gold Can Last”

Found Wild
Found Wild | photo courtesy of the artist

When I met up with Tim Arnold and Keith Goodwin last week at Spruce Street Harbor Park, they had a big week ahead of them. Tour was a week away, and they had to rehearse for three completely different sets. One is for singer-songwriter Anthony Green (of Circa Survive and more), whose backing band they play in; he will be performing his debut solo album Avalon in full for its tenth anniversary. Another is for their long-running band, Good Old War, who is direct support the show and celebrating an anniversary of their own; Only Way To Be Alone, the album that launched them into the folk-infused modern rock zone with the super poppy “Coney Island,” is also ten years old.

But most significantly for these two Bucks County born-and-raised musicians is the opening band for the night: Found Wild, their new duo project based around Arnold’s songwriting. Though he’s always been a vocalist as part of Good Old War’s three-part harmony ensemble, this project marks his first time singing lead. It’s also his first time as the primary songwriter in a band, and after an emotionally taxing handful of years, he had a lot to sing about.

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Tending soil with serpentwithfeet

serpentwithfeet
serpentwithfeet | photo by Ash Kingston | courtesy of the artist

Experimental pop-star serpentwithfeet is an artist who knows how to power clash, both sonically and emotionally. His music is at once vulnerable and volcanic as influences from the baroque to the Björk collide with each other. On stage, his presence is imposing yet inviting. His debut full length soil, out now on Secretly Canadian and Tri Angle Records, finds him wearing these occasionally messy dualities like finely tailored couture as he sings about the comforts and complexities of queer love. It’s somehow more expansive than his 2016 EP Blisters and more incisive.

He’ll be realizing these narratives on stage at Johnny Brenda’s in Philly next week. It’ll be a semi-homecoming for serpentwithfeet (born Josiah Wise), as he attended The University of the Arts in Philadelphia before ultimately moving to New York. To prepare for his return, I had the chance to chat him up about what motivates his creative output, how and when to exorcise one’s inner should, and what parts of Philly he always remembers to visit when he’s back in town… Continue reading →

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Indie Rock Hit Parade Live Session: Petal

Petal | Photo by Katie Tapman for XPN

For this Indie Rock Hit Parade Live Session, we’re joined by an artist from NEPA (that’s Northeast Pennsylvania for those of you non-Pocono people). Kiley Lotz has been recording and performing as Petal since 2012. and even joined us for a Key Studio Session when her 2015 album The Shame was released. Three years later, and on release day for her new album, Magic Gone (Run For Cover), Kiley returns to our studio with a borrowed guitar that looks just like hers, and a selection of gorgeous new songs.

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Indie Rock Hit Parade Live Session: Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever

Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever | Photo by Eric Schuman for XPN

Joining us for this Indie Rock Hit Parade Live Session is a band that visited our studio last year for a performance on World Cafe. Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever (or Rolling Blackouts C.F., if you’re pressed for time) have kept plenty busy over the past year, prepping their full-length debut album, Hope Downs (Sub Pop). Led by the triple-guitarist/songwriting team of Fran Keany, Tom Russo and Joe White, RBCF also features bassist Joe Russo (Tom’s brother) and drummer Marcel Tussie. After two very warmly received EPs in as many years, the band is sharpened by a nonstop regimen recording and touring. Rolling Blackouts C.F. stopped by our studio about a month before the album’s release (which happens to be today!) to perform a trio of new songs that show off each singer’s unique style.

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Listen to Natalie Prass perform and interview on World Cafe

Natalie Prass | photo by Dylan Eddinger | dylaneddingerphoto.squarespace.com

This week, singer-songwriter Natalie Prass dropped by World Cafe to perform four songs from her new album, The Future and the Past. Backed by a hard-grooving full band, she performed spirited renditions of “Hot For The Mountain,” lead single “Short Court Style,” “Sisters,” and “Lost”.

She also sat down with Talia Schlanger for a candid interview, discussing the lengthy process of the album’s creation—including the pivotal role of the 2016 presidential election—as well as her experiences as a woman in the patriarchal music industry and her eye-catching outfit on a recent Conan performance. Continue reading →

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Road trip ranting with Angelo Moore and friends

Angelo Moore
Angelo Moore band | photo courtesy of the artist

This story is so juicy, and zesty, it falls off the bone and melts in your mouth: a conversation with occasional Fishbone-r Angelo Moore, Ween drummer Claude Coleman Jr., Ashish “Hash” Vyas  of Thievery Corporation fame, and the rest of the sampladelic-soulful Brand New Step brain trust – in one car – driving out of New Orleans and into Atlanta. Their mission: to get to Philly by June 15’s Johnny Brenda’s gig in order to play its new hot jazz-funk cut “Pendulum Swings” and other songs from its sophomore album due out before 2018’s end.  Continue reading →

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Oh, Harry: The multifaceted Harry Connick Jr. talks about jazz, the Big Easy, and all things music

Harry Connick Jr.
Harry Connick Jr. | photo courtesy of the artist

There will always be two Harry Connick Jr.’s. There is the one who, since the 2000s, has made himself well-known and beloved in sit-coms (the first go-round of Will & Grace), children’s film fare (A Dolphin’s Tale), as judge and foil to J-Lo (American Idol), and as a talk show host (Harry).

The other Connick Jr. is a consummate musician, arranger, orchestrator and vocalist whose love and encyclopedic knowledge of Tin Pan Alley standards and the New Orleans music of his past and present make him a treasure still, even if you’ve paying more attention to the mass mediated Harry. The second, better one will play at the Mann Center on June 16 – celebrating New Orleans’ 300th birthday – for his first area live appearance in well over a decade. The second, better one is who The Key spoke with, exclusively, about music. Continue reading →

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King Britt will relaunch collab label The Buddy System

King Britt | photo by Ashley Gellman for WXPN | agellmanphotos.com
King Britt | photo by Ashley Gellman for WXPN | agellmanphotos.com

Legendary Philadelphia electronic artist, DJ and producer King Britt is known for his various artistic efforts around town, but the local visionary’s latest endeavor is actually an older project. Back in 2014, Britt started a record label called The Buddy System, which released monthly collaborative EPs — the twist being that the collaborators remained anonymous. Their names were revealed with each following release, surrounding the project with an air of mystery and anticipation. Continue reading →

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The High Key Portrait Series: Suzann Christine

Suzann Christine | 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.

Suzann Christine has earned a place for herself as an estimable Philly R&B artist, no small feat in a city whose arts and culture is defined largely by its legacy of contributions to R&B, hip-hop and soul music. A longtime student of that heritage, the singer and songwriter has been named “Philly’s Best R&B Artist,” shared stages with the likes of Wale, Musiq Soulchild and Frankie Beverly, and played to a packed Franklin Parkway when Pope Francis visited in 2015.

Recently, Suzann published a new project called Cup of Love, which is now available on all digital media outlets, along with her new hit song “Save Me.” In April, she released a collaboration with Dejure Hest, called “Don’t Rush it,” along with a new music video for the track.

Suzann works hard to give back to her community too. For the past eight years, she’s been diligently developing SCH Creative & Performing Art, Inc., a non-profit organization that she founded and incorporated, where her “Fly Star” program was conceived as a way to help build self-confidence and self-esteem in middle and high school kids in Philly who were interested becoming professional musical artists. And this Thursday, June 7th, Christine performs at 2018 Redemption Week, a community concert and candlelight vigil to support One Day At A Time, a service organization helping low-income and homeless Philadelphians affected by HIV/AIDS. More information on that event can be found here. Continue reading →