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Sonja Sofya talks pop studiousness, Steely Dan and feminism on the 25 O’Clock podcast

Sonja Sofya | photo by Lisa Schaffer | skylerbug.com | via facebook.com/sonjasofya

The new installment of the 25 O’Clock Podcast features Philly keyboardist, vocalist, songwriter and collaborator Sonja Sofya, who has a lively and wide-ranging 90-minute conversation with host Dan Drago.

Of course her great Patterns We Know LP, released in the fall, is discussed, as well as the work with fellow Philly artists like Ross Bellenoit that went into completing it. Sonja shares her background in studying music at a rigorous academic level during high school and college  — she admits she did not have stage parents but kinda wishes she had. She and Drago contrast classical and pop approaches to writing, and how the ideal lies somewhere in between, balancing studiousness and accessibility. Steely Dan is brought up as an example of this middle ground, and they share a laugh over the divide: people are either Steely Dan lovers or haters (they’re both lovers, I’m not). The same can also be said, they note, for Lady Gaga (which, vice versa).

But the conversation gets super interesting when Drago makes an offhand comment about the “amount of quality female-fronted music coming out of the city the past few years.” Sonja returns to that phrase, “female-fronted,” a little bit later in the show. “You feel like that’s a recent phenomenon?” she asks, turning the tables on her host, and there’s a very uncertain pause that follows. Continue reading →

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The High Key Portrait Series: Kuf Knotz

Kuf Knotz | photo by Josh Pelta-Heller for WXPN
Kuf Knotz | 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.

It’s hard to try to classify the music of Kuf Knotz, to describe or dismiss it with labels. There’s a little bit of everything here, in Kuf’s work, from pop samples and sensibility to hip hop hooks. There’s a little soul, a little jazz and reggae. There’s a little Philly (where he’s from), a little Brooklyn (where he lives), and a little Netherlands, where he spends a lot of his time recording. As soon as you think you know what he’s all about, this former high school athlete and self-proclaimed jock will politely push on that envelope.

The closest he’ll get to a cohesive theme, though, is the pervasive positivity in his messaging, a spirit of transcendence offered up on everything from 2011’s “Sunny Philadelphia,” to the title track of his last LP “Positive Light,” to “Unstoppable,” the anthem he put together with G. Love and Chuck Treece for the 2008 hometown-hero Phillies team.

Kuf just got home from Holland and Jamaica, where he was at work putting the finishing touches on his newest record, expected to be out early this summer. This one’s more of a “throwback,” as he describes it, “very current, with a heavy 90’s feel,” and will come with a supporting tour. Continue reading →

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Escape the cold in Pilkington’s catchy, sunshine-pop tune “Soft Flesh”

Pilkington | photo via pilkington.bandcamp.com

Just last week when the weather was sunny and breezy and beautiful, it was tempting to believe that spring, or even summer, was here to stay. But it seems that Mother Nature has bamboozled us all. Though this drastic shift to cold weather and snow can be downright depressing, at least we have sunny tunes to distract our minds with relaxing waves and warm breezes.

Enter Philly indie-pop four piece, Pilkington‘s song, “Soft Flesh.” Blending video game sound bites with breezy guitar riffs, Pilkington’s catchy pop jam removes listeners from the cold and transports them to the beach for a carefree party in the sun. Continue reading →

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Fall for Jesse Hale Moore’s soulful crooning in the video for “Leave You Lonely”

Jesse Hale Moore | photo courtesy of the artist
Jesse Hale Moore | photo courtesy of the artist

We’ve been smitten with Jesse Hale Moore for quite some time around here. But recently, we’ve fallen completely head over heels for Moore’s passionate, smooth-as-butter R&B ballads.

After premiering his single, “Leave You Lonely” we heard him on NPR’s World Cafe: Next podcast a few weeks back.  And now, he’s released a video for “Leave You Lonely,” which provides a perfectly matched visual to the song’s emotional, sultry vibes. If you haven’t already fallen for those falsettos, this video will do the trick. Continue reading →

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Tag along on Slingshot Dakota’s shenanigan-filled tour with video for “You”

Slingshot Dakota | Photo by Sydney Schaefer for WXPN

Bethlehem duo Slingshot Dakota are about to kick off a new tour with label-mates Ratboys, leading them to Austin for SXSW. But before they set out, the band has released a video for their song, “You,” which reminisces on the fun, kooky moments of their past tour with Kississippi — which they booked entirely themselves.

For a song that’s just so dang catchy and fun, this light-hearted video is the perfect, playful match. Giving fans a close look into the kinds of shenanigans that spouses Carly Comando and Tom Patterson get into while on the road, the video ranges from car malfunctions, to a day at the jungle gym, to Patterson’s fabulous news/weather reports, to just simply lounging around — all amidst clips of the two rocking out and Patterson’s bountiful curls magically blowing in the wind. Continue reading →

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Indigenous Rhythms and Rage: Ottawa DJ trio A Tribe Called Red on bringing pow wow step to the masses

A Tribe Called Red | photo via utatouring.com

On my twenty seventh birthday, A Tribe Called Red, a first nations DJ trio from Ottawa, played a show at Silk City. I waited for hours before they performed at midnight. The summer night was sweltering, and over watered down drinks, my boyfriend and I considered leaving. Finally, the group took the stage. They started out where the previous DJ had left off, playing a bland party track. And then — up surged the deep bass, the heavy drums. Jolted from exhaustion — my entire body began to shake.

I found that I danced in a new way that night.

Four years and one Juno award later, the band is now playing bigger venues – like The Foundry of The Fillmore Philadelphia this Thursday, March 16th. Practitioners of what they call pow wow step, ATCR’s music is about something as elemental as a heartbeat, and as modern as dubstep. Ian Campeau, or DJ NDN, explains that “people hearing pow wow for the first time felt that same thing that indigenous people have always felt hearing pow wow.” The group matured at club nights in Canada’s capital city, where Native kids could go out, have fun and connect with each other. Continue reading →