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As the Crow Flies, it lands in Philadelphia

As The Crow Flies | photo by Tom Beck for WXPN

On Wednesday night at the Electric Factory, former Black Crowes frontman Chris Robinson took to the stage with five other musicians, including former Crowes keyboardist Adam MacDougall, guitarist Audley Freed and bassist Andy Hess. The other two were 22-year-old guitar phenom Marcus King and drummer Tony Leone, who played drums in Robinson’s post-Crowes band, The Chris Robinson Brotherhood. Together, this band of musicians refer to themselves as As The Crow Flies – a perfect name for a Black Crowes cover band, which is essentially what they are. The band is the brainchild of Robinson, who decided that it was time to start performing Black Crowes songs again for the first time in more than four years. Unfortunately, some bad blood between many of the former Black Crowes members – including Chris Robinson and his brother Rich Robinson – meant that a true Black Crowes reunion was not in the cards. So Robinson did the next best thing, he started a cover band and called it something vaguely similar. Continue reading →

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the innocence mission returns with the dreamy and emotive “Green Bus” from new album Sun on the Square

The Innocence Mission
The Innocence Mission | photo courtesy of the artist

Lancaster folk trio the innocence mission have made a lot of music in the project’s three-plus decades duration. And still, even after all these years, each new release feels freshly crafted in its own unique way. The innocence mission will return with a new album this summer, Sun on the Square, their 11th full-length and first since 2015’s hello I feel the same.

The forthcoming record’s first single, “Green Bus,” is making us eagerly anticipate innocence mission’s return. It’s a song soft enough to require that the volume be turned all the way up, and it walks the line between soothing, lulling quietness and compelling, attention-grabbing sonic twists. With haunting, whispering vocals, Karen Peris draws the listener in as if she’s sharing a secret to only her deepest confidantes. Combined with her lilting, fingerpicked guitar and joined by singer/guitarist Don Peris and upright bassist Mike Bitts, it’s clear that the innocence mission is back in full dreamy and emotive swing. Continue reading →

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Listen to #XPNFest artist Tank and the Bangas’ new single “Smoke.Netflix.Chill.”

Tank and the Bangas | photo by Gus Bennett | courtesy of the artist

It’s hard to believe it’s only been a year since Tank and the Bangas appeared on our radar as the winners of NPR Music’s 2017 Tiny Desk Contest. There’s a reason the New Orleans-based group stood out among the annual contest’s six thousand other entries and made their way into the winning slot. Their energy is infectious, and we’re about to hear a whole lot more of it. Continue reading →

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Folkadelphia Session: Roger Harvey

For someone coming from the world of amped-up punk rock,  Roger Harvey‘s music is decidedly low-key and reflective.

The singer-songwriter relocated to Philly from Pittsburgh about three years ago, following stints touring with Against Me!, Dads and The Menzingers. His debut LP, Twelve Houses, was released that October, and it set introspective lyrics to lush acoustic arrangements in the vein of Neutral Milk Hotel and Death Cab for Cutie, with his haunting and tremulous vocal taking center stage.

Almost two years later, Harvey returned with a more outer-directed perspective on the Two Coyotes LP. This time, rather than personal ruminations, he tackles bigger-picture issues; immigration is unpacked in the title track, which tells a story of love across borders, while superconnected isolation is the focus of “Love In The Digital Age.” You can hear anger and frustration, albeit in a subdued manner, on “Gold,” which opens his studio session this week — when he sings “fuck the foundation, we’re in control,” it’s one of the prettiest punk rock moments we’ve captured in the studio. Continue reading →

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Courtney Barnett unpacks ideas of home in her new single “City Looks Pretty”

Courtney Barnett
Courtney Barnett | photo by Pooneh Ghana | courtesy of the artist

The forthcoming Courtney Barnett album (just four weeks away!) is steadily shaping up to be pretty incredible. We’ve heard two singles, “Nameless, Faceless” and “Need A Little Time,” and now Barnett has a third. Called “City Looks Pretty,” it’s a soft and catchy, starting off fast-paced and frantic, and slowing down to a calming lull midway through. It’s also a bracingly honest exploration of how we define home, and how relationships can be strained when you’re not always present in one place. Continue reading →

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Get into some “Trouble” with Kate Faust’s new video and EP Savior

Kate Faust
Kate Faust | Photo by Josh Pelta-Heller for WXPN | koalafoto.com

The electro pop artist Kate Faust’s roots started right here in Philadelphia. Just last year, she left the City of Brotherly Love to explore the City of Angels, A.K.A Los Angeles. Her last EP capsized was released in 2017, and now she is back with with a new EP titled Savior as well as a music video for “Trouble”.

The EP consists of five tracks that depict her as a boss and a badass, in a somewhat rocker type of mood than usual. Faust’s vocals are assertive and somewhat intimidating, and the first track “Brace Yourself” depicts that perfectly. “Play” uses more electronic beats and an intense soundscape of synths. “Breaking Free” has a steady beat and you can listen to Kaust takes advantage of that through the track. “Trouble” slows things down after the storm, but in a good way. Lastly, “Savior” is a hope-inducing upbeat piece that grately emphasizes Faust’s powerful vocals. Continue reading →

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Vexxed’s new music video “Heaven’s Away Team” will draw you into an unknown dimension

Vexxed | photo via facebook.com/heavensawayteam

Philly electronic pop trio Vexxed released a new music video titled “Heaven’s Away Team” that will leave you in a fuzzy yet groovy indica haze, visually and mentally. To me, the song sounds like something the Mile High Club and Mac Demarco would create if they were to go camping together while on shrooms. The content of the actual clip is off-putting and the lyrics are pretty dark; in one part, the trio sings “it’s too late / this is our fate” while showing skeletons in the ground and a kid stuck in quicksand. Continue reading →

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Let The Record Play: Cold Fronts returns, wiser and more adventurous, on Fantasy Du Jour

Cold Fronts | photo by Dominic Episcopo | courtesy of the artist
Cold Fronts | photo by Dominic Episcopo | courtesy of the artist

When I first was introduced to Cold Fronts, it was undeniably a band – four young dudes making rock and roll in a West Philly basement they dubbed the Rathaus. It was 2010 and they had an impossibly catchy fuzzrock / power pop song called “Catch” that I’m pretty sure I first heard streaming on their MySpace page. The song fit nicely in an era of my listening where I missed The Strokes of the early aughts, and the LCD Soundsystem and Broken Social Scene records of the moment weren’t quite scratching that itch. I reviewed the track in City Paper, and the elated guys dropped off a couple soft pretzels as tokens of their appreciation. Technically I’m not supposed to accept thank you gifts, but I reasoned that – in addition to being a very Philly thing to do — two $0.79 soft pretzels are not going to sway me on a band I already liked.

Then things changed; Cold Fronts became less of a band, and more of a focus on singer-guitarist and primary songwriter Craig Almquist. It began when they signed a deal with Sire Records – my wife and I caught a Johnny Brenda’s gig where we turned around midway through their opening set to find legendary A&R guy Seymour Stein seated at a high-top table behind us, bobbing his head to the beat. The process of recording, then releasing the band’s debut album on the industry’s timetable was taxing for all involved. Band members quit; new players joined, and left. All the press imagery showed Almquist and Almquist alone. He estimates that over a dozen people have been involved in Cold Fronts over the years, with the most difficult of those years being the four that it took for Forever Whatever to ultimately see a release in 2015.

These days, though, they’re back to their roots, but significantly wiser for the wear. The band’s sophomore album, Fantasy Du Jour, is out on Friday via Sire. It has classic Cold Fronts rock-out moments like “Stayin’ In,” a rifftastic two-minute jam about getting stoned and ordering Indian food. But there are also moments of greater nuance, depth and maturity – the atmospheric dream-pop tones of “Let The Record Play”; the subdued Big Star-esque fingerpicked acoustic ballads “Lightning Storm” and “Back and Forth”; the uplifting vocal harmonies on “The World For Sale.”

Most significantly, Cold Fronts has gone from being a scatterbrained rotating cast project to a solidified unit once again, something we hear a nod to on the reflective title track, where Almquist sings “love’s no fun when you’re the only one.”

Below, we’re happy to give you a first listen to Fantasy Du Jour ahead of its April 20th release date, as well as the accompanying pop-up pop-up gig we hear the band is playing somewhere in Philly. (They also have an album release party that night at Mercury Lounge.) Take it for a spin as you read my interview with Almquist, who I caught up with on the phone on a sunny day last week. He was chillin in Rittenhouse Square on after getting done with his shift doing bike delivery, and we talked about the evolution of Cold Fronts, the making of the new album, his thoughst on the major label experience and how he wound up in a swimming pool canoe at SXSW. Continue reading →

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Ceramic Animal’s “Hit or Miss” a rollicking attempt to repair a broken relationship

Ceramic Animal | photo via facebook.com/ceramicanimal

Philly indie band Ceramic Animal have released a new single called “Hit or Miss,” a song with a 70s psychedelic pop/rock sound reminiscent of Fleetwood Mac. It features steady acoustic guitars, hovering synths, rich vocals, subtle drums and electric guitar, which rips a notable solo midway through. The metaphoric lyrics of the song confront and then aim to repair a broken relationship with lyrics like “But once we analyze their gods and make our efforts clean / Well ready or not, you’ve been handed the cards and you can repair the dream / It’s ripping at the seams.” Continue reading →

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Boogieman Dela wants you to look within on the Rolled Gold-produced “Mirror Mirror”

Boogieman Dela | photo via boogiemandela.com

The new single from Philly rapper Boogieman Dela is reminiscent of the haunting, cinematic 70s soul style that implies the artist is about to drop some heavy knowledge on you. With lyrics like “That fear is only in your mind / Stop acting so shook / The recipe right there / all you gotta do is go cook,” I’d argue that “Mirror Mirror” fits the bill. Continue reading →