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Gotta Hear Song of the Week: “Seasons (Waiting On You)” by Future Islands

Photo courtesy of the artist.
Photo courtesy of the artist.

The Baltimore synth-pop band Future Islands are currently riding a wave of increasing popularity, based on the strength of their new album, Singles, and their charismatic lead singer Samuel T. Herring. They band is currently on a tour of mostly sold out shows, including their Philly show at the First Unitarian Church on Tuesday, April 29th.

Future Islands formed in 2006 in Greenville, North Carolina and have since released several albums, EP’s and singles. During the first week of March, the band were on the Late Show With David Letterman and this performance of “Seasons (Waiting On You)” became a viral hit. With some incredible dance moves, Future Islands’ lead singer Herring meme’d his way into the digital hearts of music fans with both a fantastic performance and a tumblr gif (see below) that had everyone sharing.

“Seasons (Waiting On You)” is 3 minutes and 47 seconds of pure, glorious, confident New Wave influenced synth pop. It leads off the album, but only hints at the musical depth of the entire record. Below, download the song via NPR Music.

Future-Islands-gif

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Download Nothing’s cover of Low’s “In Metal” for Record Store Day

Photo courtesy of the artist
Photo courtesy of the artist
Philly rockers Nothing recorded a cover of Low’s “In Metal” for Record Store Day. You can download the song for free below. The band posted on their Facebook page:

Recorded a song at home on an anxiety ridden Friday night. I’m giving it out for Free for Record Store Day and hopefully @lowtheband doesn’t mind the rendition of their beautiful song.

Nothing take the acoustic based original of the song and add their own unique haunting, dark and ethereal touch to the song. Download Nothing’s cover of “In Metal,” and listen to the original version of the song by Low below. Nothing play Boot & Saddle on Saturday, June 8th.

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The Week’s Best Free MP3s, incl. Rodrigo y Gabriela, Elegant Animals, Railroad Earth and more

 

Photo via facebook.com/rodgab
Photo via facebook.com/rodgab

On Thursday WXPN announced the 25 acts that will take part in this year’s XPoNential Music Festival – among the list of artists are “dueling Spanish guitarists” Rodrigo y Gabriela.  Get a preview of the duo’s forthcoming LP 9 Dead Alive by downloading “The Soundmaker” below.

Railroad Earth bounded into the Folkadelphia studios for this week’s session, bringing an arsenal of songs that prove their musical sum is greater than any labeled parts.  The New Jersey band has released seven full-lengths, including a new one called Last of the Outlaws.  Stream and download the acoustic session below.

Philly band Elegant Animals are this week’s featured Key Studio Session subject, a five-piece that blurs the lines between electronica, R&B and rock.  They performed two songs from a 2012 debut Spectrum Nocturnal and a pair from this month’s Carnivora.  Take a listen to “Carnivora” below and get the full set here.

New York outfit Spottiswoode & His Enemies released a new album called English Dream, touching on pop and rock with a piano foundation.  You can stream and download “No Time for Love” off of the record below, and catch the band live at World Cafe Live at The Queen on May 1st.

Pulling work by beatmakers from all over the country for their compilation Oddiology, Philadelphia production pair ILL Clinton and John E Cab (Us Natives) have put together an instrumental work of art.  Stream “War Chant” by New Jersey’s Expo below and get the full album here.

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Indie Rock Hit Parade Live Session: Dean Wareham

photo by Eric Schuman
photo by Eric Schuman

Our latest Indie Rock Hit Parade live session features a pioneering figure of our namesake genre. Dean Wareham formed Galaxie 500 in 1987. The trio split after four very productive years, leaving Dean to form his next band, Luna. Since Luna’s dissolution nearly 10 years ago, Dean has operated as an artist in flux (often alongside his wife, longtime bassist Britta Phillips). Having recently released his first ever solo album, Dean and his band came to our studio for a characteristically graceful and understated performance.

Joining Dean and Britta in the band are drummer Roger Brogan and guitarist Raymond Richards. The quartet’s experience on the road, mixed with their combined years in the music business, results in a set of songs that feels loose and lived-in. The session begins with a countrified take on “Holding Pattern,” a song Dean wrote while on the road. Tour destinations, classic rock bands and sports scores swirl together into a blur of names and places. “Heartless People,” which also appears on Dean’s new album, was written by Michael Holland of the North Carolina band Jennyanykind. Dean and the band make the song their own, with a subtly repetitive guitar figure and gliding rhythm. Rounding out the session is a version of a Luna classic, “Tiger Lily.” The song originally appeared on the band’s second album, Bewitched, released in 1994. Twenty years on, and the song (like Wareham himself) is as charming and effortlessly cool as ever.

Stream and download the complete Dean Wareham Indie Rock Hit Parade Session!

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Folkadelphia Session: Railroad Earth

A lot of what you read about Railroad Earth vibes with what we’re preaching here with Folkadelphia. We live in an era of music-making beyond traditional genre indentifiers, or alternatively, where “big” genres like “hip-hop” and “folk” have been exploded and splintered into near limitless gradations of “urban folk,” “Appalachian folk,” “country blues,” “cajun,” “nu-grass,” and so on and so forth until the end of time. There are also genre-inflected styles, like “electro-folk” or “folk-metal,” or any style that draws from the capitalized FOLK TRADITION. There is music that is incomparable, indiscernable, unrecognizable – sometimes you want to call it “folk” and sometimes you want to call it “hip hop,” and perhaps sometimes it’s not like either, a singular circumstance of creative collaboration and construction. Only an outdated, outmoded purist or traditionalist would bemoan the fate of the “big” genres. Come on now, we’re living in the post-post-post “Dylan goes electric” era (or whatever), beyond good and evil and classification, and we’re loving it. Diversity (in sound) is the spice of life anyhow, right?

Part of what we try and do with Folkadelphia, dear readers and listeners, is to introduce you to and refresh you on stellar songwriters and the highest caliber musicians. It’s as basic as that. These are people that are consciously keeping the rich history and legacy of folk music in mind when considering their artistic path, yet may draw upon it in vastly different ways. Taking a look at a few of our most recent Folkadelphia Sessions, we see Chris Kasper, CocoRosie, Quilt, Joe Kille, and Denison Witmer. I’m not sure that these ladies and gentlemen would ever share a bill outside of our radio show, but the fact is that they’re all incorporating folk elements in varying degrees into their music. In each case, the results are similar – people with something to say, stories to tell, and sounds to make.

That brings us back to our focus feature session of this week with Railroad Earth, who visited our studio in between playing back-to-back concerts at Union Transfer this February. On Last of the Outlaws, their new album and seventh overall, the recordings showcase a simple truth about the band –  that they are helluva good musicians and that they not only love playing together, but there’s darn fine chemistry happening there too. Beyond that, if we’re trying to classify the band’s sound, we’d be better suited using our time spinning the album again than wasting it on that fool’s errand. I read a review that described the band as “folk-pop-Celtic-bluegrass-roots-and-rock jam band from New Jersey.” They are stronger than that storm of oversimplified description. At that point, aren’t you basically saying that the band members are competent and skillful enough to navigate the waters of any style that might interest them? That they can integrate these stylistic elements into their unique Railroad Earth sound? I think so and their music, especially on Last of the Outlaws is the proof. There is really something for everyone within. At the core, stellar songwriting and high caliber musicianship.

We welcomed Railroad Earth, along with a battery of acoustic instruments in road cases, to our studio for a very special completely acoustic on February 25th, 2014.

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Download Rodrigo y Gabriela’s “The Soundmaker”; buy tickets to see them at #XPNFest

Photo courtesy of the artist
Photo courtesy of the artist

In case you missed the big announcement, Rodrigo y Gabriela are playing this year’s XPoNential Music Festival, July 25-27th. The incredible acoustic guitar playing duo are releasing a new album, 9 Dead Alive, next Tuesday, April 29th. Weekend passes to #XPNfest are available starting today for new and renewing WXPN members. Go here to purchase tickets. Below, download “The Soundmaker.”

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Forget trying to classify them and just listen: Railroad Earth’s Session, and “Katie Cruel’s” importance in music, tonight on Folkadelphia Radio

Photo by Laura Jane Brubaker | http://laurajanebrubaker.tumblr.com/
Photo by Laura Jane Brubaker | http://laurajanebrubaker.tumblr.com/

For the last handful of weeks on Folkadelphia Radio, we’ve been focusing on a featured song, digging a little into its history, context, and importance in music and art, and listening to a few selected renditions, usually of diverse style. This week, we’ll put a spotlight on “Katie Cruel,” a ballad that appears to have often drawn its verses, themes, and melodies from other older songs. In most contemporary versions, the narrative generally revolves around the titular narrator that despite hardship and adversity (for instance, the townspeople call her “Katie Cruel,” which seems, you know, unfriendly) remains steadfast in her journey to follow her heart’s desire.

“Katie Cruel” is said to have originated during the American Revolutionary War, but its pieces are related to Scottish ballads and broadsides, such as “Licht Bob’s Lassie,” which tells the story of a woman following infantrymen (Lichtbobs), and “Leaboy’s Lassie,” which changes the infantrymen to migrant farmers. The thematic elements are also related to “The Hexhamshire Lass,” best known from Fairport Convention. The melody and more thematic elements of “Katie Cruel” are pulled from “I Know Where I’m Going,” which continues to be a popular song and became the title of Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger’s 1945 film of the same name.

However it is interpreted or performed, Katie Cruel remains a central character in the folk song canon.

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