Lefty’s Deceiver returns with their first two songs in 14 years

Lefty's Deceiver | photo courtesy of the artist
Lefty’s Deceiver | photo courtesy of the artist

Whether you fancy them math rock, indie rock or rock-rock, Lefty’s Deceiver was a fixture on the Philadelphia scene from the late 90s through the mid aughts, releasing a string of records and EPs that culminated in  2003’s excellent Cheats, a dizzying record of post 9-11 frustration and ennui.

By the middle of the decade, the band had parted ways to pursue various other projects — among them guitarist Ed Hogarty’s The Bigger Lovers, as well as Audible, featuring drummer Mike Kennedy and bassist Kristine Kennedy. However, surred by a Facebook fan group built on the promise of getting clocked in the head with a maraca at a Lefty’s Deceiver gig, the band reunited to play Johnny Brenda’s in 2011, with other shows following at MilkBoy and Boot & Saddle.

Lefty’s’ activity since has been semi-occasional, made a bit trickier by singer-guitarist and songwriter Andy Williams’ relocation to California. But their name recently popped up on the Boot & Saddle events calendar for a December 29th show, and this week we found out that they’re releasing a new record to go along with it. The Lefty’s Deceiver LP comes out on December 25th, and the band’s first two songs in 14 years are online right now.  Continue reading →


Tyler the Creator sets the mood at NPR’s first nighttime Tiny Desk Concert

Tyler, the Creator | screenshot from NPR’s Tiny Desk Concert

Hip-hop’s resident bucket-hat strange boy, Tyler, the Creator, stopped by NPR’s offices to perform not only his own Tiny Desk debut, but also to induct the first evening version of the Tiny Desk gig. Distinguishing the switch, instead of the custom clear natural light setting across the afternoon cubicles, vibrant backdrop lighting of deep fuschia, electric blue, and blood red drenched the typical work space, as it transformed into an intimate club atmosphere. Which, according to NPR, was the result of Tyler’s own request and the work of his hired lighting team. Continue reading →


Americanadian oozes carefree, infectious youthfulness on “Apple Cider Vinegar”

Americanadian | photo via


Americanadian is a youthful bunch. Along with age — the three members range from high school to mid college students — the Philly group has only just started to release their dreamy indie surf pop jams over the past year. Even then, the project began simply as lead singer Serena Scalzi’s lo-fi solo endeavor, with the additions of band members Jeff Weingarten and Nina Fuchs not happening until just this past summer.

This sense of youngin-ness isn’t a detriment here, though. Particularly in their new track, “Apple Cider Vinegar.” In fact, it’s exactly this youthful, unapologetic sparkle of energy that makes the song feel so infectiously light and airy. Continue reading →


Lithuania faces a turbulent world on the new album White Reindeer

Lithuania | Photo by Rachel Del Sordo

Philly punk rock trio Lithuania aren’t ones to allow for weeks and months of buzz leading up to a new release to build — they’d much rather catch everyone off guard by sending an entire album out into the world without any notice. At least, that’s what their latest news would have you think. The new album, White Reindeer, is out now digitally; it’s the band’s first full-length since 2015’s Hardcore Friends. Lithuania is made up of Dr. Dog drummer and solo artist Eric Slick, DRGN King’s Dominic Angelella (who also recently released a solo album) and Deleted Scenes’ Ricardo Lagomasino. Continue reading →


Now Hear This – Ambient Edition: New music by Bitchin Bajas, Marcus Fischer, Gyða Valtysdottir, Tom Rogerson with Brian Eno, Gas, The Caretaker, and more

Gyða Valtýsdottir | via

Every month, noted song expert K. Ross Hoffman presents Now Hear This, a sampling of fresh specimens for your consideration.

Last year, in my final installment of Now Hear This over at PhillyVoice, I inaugurated what I’ll now establish as an annual tradition: a column dedicated to the wide, unobtrusive world of ambient music. Ambient is always around us, but the winter is an especially good time for it. No other genre better evokes (or soundtracks) the placid, frosty stillness and/or the glowing, contented, indoorsy warmth that represent the season’s great duality.

Accordingly, there’s been a bumper crop of worthy ambient-leaning releases in the past month or so. Just to name a few, in addition to those I’ll feature below: an intriguing, formally innovative modular drone experiment by the always worthwhile Eluvium; a pair of reissues from indie favorites The Album Leaf; a gorgeous new set of swirling, marimba-heavy instrumental chamber-pop from Thor and Friends; an enjoyable record of ambient-adjacent electronic burblings from Coupler, a.k.a. Lambchop’s Ryan Norris, and a massively acclaimed left-turn into stark ambient purism by the habitually eclectic producer Bibio – whose work I typically enjoy, but which in this instance leaves me persistently, inscrutably cold. Continue reading →


Kississippi comes into their own with “Cut Yr Teeth,” the first single from their SideOneDummy debut Sunset Blush

Kississippi | photo by Megan Thompson | courtesy of the artist

Kississippi is back, and stronger than ever. The recording project of Zoe Reynolds has become such a fixture of the Philly music scene lately that it’s easy to forget it’s been two years since their debut EP, We Have No Future, We’re All Doomed, was released. The XPN Fest alum has certainly kept busy over those last two years, though, and just announced that their first full-length, Sunset Blush, will be released in April 2018 via SideOneDummy Records. Continue reading →


Queue contemplates the hurt of a blindsided blow in “Aimless Kid”

Queue | Photo by Tina Letter

After hinting a new song with a tempting teaser clip last week, the D.C. and Philly-split dream power-pop group, Queue, have released their latest single, “Aimless Kid.”

Swirling in an atmosphere of ambient sounds, “Aimless Kid” exudes a calmness, but not one of peaceful serenity. It’s the kind of controlled calm that follows a forceful blow of shock and confusion. Continue reading →


Brandi Carlile meditates on the closest kind of companionship in “The Mother”

Brandi Carlile | photo by Alysse Gafkjenh | courtesy of the artist
Brandi Carlile | photo by Alysse Gafkjenh | courtesy of the artist

After announcing her forthcoming album By The Way, I Forgive You with lead single “The Joke,” singer-songwriter Brandi Carlile is back with another new song. “The Mother” is an achingly heartfelt and quietly powerful track dedicated to Carlile’s daughter, Evangeline. Throughout the soft and winding narrative of the Americana and folk-inspired track, Carlile explores how motherhood has affected her, both as an artist and as a human. Reach for the nearest tissue box and listen below. Continue reading →


Tonight’s Concert Picks: Vagabon at the First Unitarian Church, Steady Hands at Johnny Brenda’s, and Steep Canyon Rangers at Appell Center for the Performing Arts

Vagabon | photo by Rachel Del Sordo

2017 has been nothing short of a breakout year for Laetitia Tamko, the New York multi-instrumentalist better known as Vagabon. Their second full-length project, Infinite Worlds, was released in February and met with significant acclaim. Vagabon’s unique tenor voice is mellifluous and versitle; on Infinite Worlds, Tamko shows her indie punk chops as well as a knack for stirringly beautiful acoustic rock. From album to album, it seems like Tamko has gained even more confidence in her playing, production and lyrical content, which leads to more complete work and a dynamic genre-bending style. Vagabon plays the First Unitarian Church tonight alongside New York indie rock outfit Cende and the brainy punk group Radiator Hospital. Consult the XPN Concert Calendar for tickets to go see this stacked lineup. Continue reading →


The Key Studio Sessions: Young Statues

South Jersey indie rock four piece Young Statues became something of a surprise hit about six years ago.

Led by songwriter Carmen Cirignano, the band started super casually; just a writing and recording project with friends at Haddon Heights hub Gradwell House Recording. Those sessions became their self titled debut, which was picked up by Boston label Run for Cover Records, and Young Statues was off to the races touring with Saves the Day and The Early November.

The band’s sound, undeniably indebted to Death Cab and The Promise Ring, played well with those crowds, but their tastes went beyond the emo canon. Their 2014 sophomore LP The Flatlands are Your Friend, explored darker and moodier sounds and textures, and a covers EP showcased a collective fondness for Billy Bragg, The Magnetic Fields and Ryan Adams. And then life came calling. Continue reading →

Support for The Key Studio Sessions, from Dogfish Head